Monthly Archives: December 2010

Free Time? Propel Your Career Forward Today

Clock Whether you’re looking for a new job or planning to move up in your current position, now is the perfect time to focus on your career. Between use-it-or-lose-it vacation policies, inclement weather, and time off during the holidays, many people find themselves with additional free time during the winter.

Here are five ways to make the most of your time off and keep your professional life going forward.

Take a break: It may seem counterproductive, but give yourself permission to relax. A few days off can change your perspective, especially if you spend the time doing something you enjoy. You’ll come back to work or the job hunt with a refreshed viewpoint.

Update your résumé: Make changes to your résumé that reflect expanded job duties, additional volunteer work, or continued education. Double check that everything is current and take extra time to check for typos. Check out these tips to get your résumé into shape.

Write a new cover letter: Cover letters are a way to summarize your goals and strengths. Writing one can be a succinct way to prioritize your goals, even if you’re not planning to make a career move soon. Having a polished cover letter available also comes in handy if a dream position or promotion should become available. Not sure where to start? Check out these 30 power words that can help your letter get noticed.

Check out social media: If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, create one to connect with other professionals in your industry or the industry you’d like to work in. LinkedIn is a great place to find out about local networking events, and showcase your job skills. Also use this time to check your Facebook privacy settings and remove  any questionable content a potential employer might see on your profile.

Sort through your wardrobe: Clean your closet and give those items that no longer fit your professional goals to charity. Dress for Success and Career Gear, national organizations that help disadvantaged women and men reach their goals of self-sufficiency by providing them interview clothes, provides receipts for tax-deductible donations. Take the time to try on your clothes to determine what you like, don’t like, need to have tailored, or sent to the dry cleaner. Replace essential items and organize your closet or dresser for speedier prep time on busy mornings.

These are just a few examples of how you can still be productive, but relaxed, during free time. A few minutes spent on tasks like these can reduce anxiety when you’re faced with a job interview or pivotal moment in your career. You’ll feel more confident and prepared, a terrific start to propelling your career.

What’s Your Outlook on the Job Market

Question-Mark1As we welcome 2011, the economy continues to slowly show signs of improvement. Many are optimistic that hiring trends will continue to increase, despite lingering economic issues. Economists anticipate the job market will show steady improvement as employers gradually add new staff to their teams in 2011. This is good news for both the unemployed who are trying to get back into the job market as well as employees who feel the stress because of increased workloads they have shouldered over the last year. 

So, how do you feel about the job outlook as we begin a new year? Share your thoughts with us!

Top Blog Posts and Polls from 2010

1223590_notebook_wih_spiral_and_red_cover Whether it’s been information on building a résumé, tips on interviewing, advice on job hopping or anything in between, we had you covered in 2010. We’ve provided you with the resources to help you with your career needs. So, here’s a quick recap of our top five most read Movin’ On Up blog posts and polls during the past year.

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2010

1. After the Interview’s Over: Advice Most People Ignore and Why It Hurts Them – Following up after an interview is a big part of the job search process, but many choose to skip this vital step. Follow these easy steps to work your way to a second interview.

2. The Silent Clues – How to Make Your Nonverbal Signals Send the Right Message – What do your nonverbal cues say about you? Make sure you send the right messages at work or during your next job interview.

3. 5 Steps to a Brilliant Reference List – Along with a standout résumé, you also need a top-notch reference list to accompany it. Employers want to see who you know and what those past supervisors think about you. These reference list tips can help you outshine the competition.

4. Hold the Phone: The Line Between Personal and Business – Today it seems like everyone in the workplace has a cell phone. Companies may or may not have policies on cell phone usage during business hours, but there is etiquette you should follow to make sure your phone isn’t a distraction.
5. 5 Common Words You Don’t Want On Your Résumé – Competition in the job market is tough. To help keep you ahead of the pack, make sure your résumé catches an employer’s attention. Check out these words you should avoid on your résumé.
Top 5 Blog Polls of 2010

1. How Bad Are Awful Co-Workers? – You know about bad bosses, but what about bad co-workers? From gossiping to not doing their work, just how bad are they?
2. What Kind of Résumé Do You Need? – Do you need a functional, chronological, or combination résumé? Take this quiz to find out what style works best for your needs.

3. Are You Looking for a Second Job for the Holidays? – To find out what people think about the economy, we asked who was looking for a second job for the holiday season. Based on the results, 49% of respondents said they were looking for a second job to earn more income. See the final results.
4. The Networking Wars: Does Online or In Person Work Best? – When it comes to getting a job, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. Networking is an important tool in the job search process, but is in person or online networking more effective?

5. Text Messages Crossing the Line? – Texting is a quick and easy way to communicate, and it’s changing the way we do business. But, it can also cause some problems in the workplace. See the results of how many people said they received an inappropriate message from a co-worker.
These are just a few examples of the job advice we’ve provided in 2010 – and the best thing is this advice can help you as you move into 2011! Apply these tips to shine as you advance in your career and your job search. Best wishes for a happy and bright new year!

Counting Down: A New Year’s Checklist for the Office

2010Resized  10…9…8…  The end of the year countdown is here, and many workers are looking forward to a little time off before 2011.

The year may be coming to a close and hopefully, you’re getting to take a holiday break, but business never comes to a complete standstill. And it can be a bit overwhelming to return to work after time away.

Monday, Jan. 3 is the first business day of the new year, and the end-of-the-year countdown can actually feel more like “Ready, set, go!,” as you turn the page to another calendar full of business objectives, projects, and meetings.

Before you close the door on 2010, give yourself some peace of mind this holiday season by preparing for January at work. Even if you’re not planning to take a break this year, every worker can benefit from a fresh start. So, take advantage of the last few days of the year to develop a different perspective.

Follow this checklist to help tie up loose ends and get the new year off to a productive start.

Clear up clutter: Come back to an organized office. Sort through stacks of paper to recycle or throw out unnecessary items. Dust and sanitize your work station. Take home seasonal decorations before you leave. Minimize distractions by eliminating those items that would otherwise delay your fresh start.

Archive your files: Look through that filing cabinet, drawer, or desk organizer. Separate out projects that are finished and store them in another area. Label new files for 2011.

Write detailed action lists: It’s easy to forget exactly what you were working on after some time out of the office. Create a list of action items to complete upon your return. Also jot down the last steps you took in the project’s process. You’ll know exactly how to pick up where you left off.

Manage email: Don’t forget to set your out-of-office message and include whether or not you’ll have access to email. Co-workers will be less likely to send or forward emails if they know you won’t be reviewing them immediately.

Finish up: Consciously decide to finish what you’ve started. You’ve heard it said: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” It’s easy to postpone projects that you don’t feel like working on, especially right before a break. Prioritize finishing up your projects so you can truly enjoy your free time without the dread of returning to incomplete tasks.

Bring business to a successful conclusion and make 2011 your year by starting it in a prepared way.   Do you have other tips that help you transition back to work after the holidays? Share in the comments section.


How to Save Face When You Make a Ghastly Mistake

As 2010 comes to a close, various “Top 10” lists start making the news. Top 10 Headlines. Top 10 Influential People. Top 10 Sports Memories.

There is even a Top 10 Public Relations Blunders List issued by a prominent San Francisco PR firm that features botched product recalls, free speech fallout, and one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. These blunders indicate that ghastly mistakes happen on the job everyday and everywhere.

But what happens when you make a ghastly mistake at work? How will you recover, especially when you are the new kid on the block? When you make a mistake, here are four tips that will help you save face and possibly your job.

Admit your mistake. This might be the hardest step, but admitting you made a mistake is necessary. When you own up to your oversight, your co-workers are more likely to forgive you. They will probably even pitch in to help you correct your error. Blaming others won’t correct the situation nor will it make the problem go away. Instead, playing the blame game will only waste precious time and will most likely upset your co-workers.

Regain your composure. You won’t be able to logically correct your misstep until you regain your composure. Remain calm and try to retrace your steps. This will help you identify where things went wrong.

Tell your supervisor. It’s imperative to inform your supervisor of your mistake first. It is better that your supervisor hears the news from you than a co-worker or a customer.

Develop a corrective action plan. Work with your supervisor to develop a plan to help change or fix the situation. Despite your blunder, working on an action plan will demonstrate to your supervisor that he or she made the right decision in hiring you. Pay attention to details as you work through your action plan and offer to be responsible for carrying out the plan.

Because we’re all human, mistakes are bound to happen. The key is to take responsibility for the mistakes you make, and most importantly, learn and grow from them. As someone once said, “If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t doing anything.” So the next time you mess up at work, take it in stride and see it as the opportunity it is, to learn from the mistakes you make.

Five Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Beat the Winter BluesIt’s winter and chances are you may feel less energetic than usual. Shorter days with less sunlight, coupled with the season’s characteristically inclement weather, may have you reaching for sweat pants and flannel sheets, comfort food, and the remote control.

The weather outside may be frightful, but the recession’s climate of uncertainty can also make for a bleak forecast. Coupled with job and financial stress this year, the usual winter blues may be magnified for some with headlines that are hard to ignore.

Unemployment has remained steady throughout the past year as companies have cut their workforce to operate with minimal staff. Research conducted by Express Employment Professionals found that 68% of employed survey respondents feel that their workload has increased, with 49% also reporting higher stress levels.

Whether you’re looking for a job or feeling stressed in your current position, here are some ways to stay positive this winter and throughout the new year:

Stay engaged with lifelong learning: Whether it’s through a local college or just your local library, pursue an interest with an evening class or seminar. You’ll have something to look forward to a few nights each week and the experience can help spark creativity, an attribute that’s highly sought in professionals.

Get some exercise – with a friend: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that winter weight gain averages four to six pounds. Make plans with a friend to take a brisk winter walk, go ice skating, or head to the gym. You’ll release stress-fighting endorphins and have the opportunity to spend quality time with others.

Write a card to someone: Write a cheery note to someone, just because. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to make a friend feel valued, and it can actually boost your mood as well.

Change your work routine: If your work allows you to take an additional break now and then, try to get up, stretch, and walk around during the day. Bring a special blend of coffee to try with your co-workers, organize a fun lunch together, or find other meaningful ways to change your work routine.

Take a break from technology: Society is now more connected than ever and it’s easy to feel bombarded by negative news. Give yourself permission to turn off your TV, mobile devices, and computer for awhile. A little down time can go a long way.

Find a balance: While sleeping to avoid stressful situations can be a sign of depression, it’s also important to get plenty of rest. Eight hours of sleep and sticking to an established sleep schedule is part of wellness. A good night’s rest can change the next day’s perspective.

Don’t let the winter blahs get the best of you. Stay focused on feeling confident in your job or job search, and seek out the support you need. Regardless of the season, you always have the ability to make positive changes to impact your life today.

All Onboard! Wow Your Employer In 90 Days or Less

Wowyouremployer The first day on a new job can re-ignite the feelings of the first day of school. Your nerves are jittery. Your heart is beating fast. Your breathing is shallow. Thoughts race through your head like, “Will my co-workers like me?” or “What if I mess up or don’t know what I’m doing?” After you’ve been through all the interviews and reference checks, you finally have landed the job. Now, it’s all systems go. It’s time to show your new employer what you’re made of and reinforce the reasoning behind why you were hired.

From the minute you walk through the door on that first day of your new job, your onboarding process has begun. Traditionally, it’s during the first three months of employment where you’re expected to learn the ropes and become familiar with your job and the goals of your company and department. This is your chance to shine, so here are a few tips to help win over your new employer in 90 days or less.

Stay calm. As easy as it is to let the newness of everything overwhelm you, try to remain calm. Instead of dwelling on “what ifs” think about what you can do. There was a reason why you got offered the job over other potential candidates. You have the skills, so just remind yourself of that fact.

Have a positive attitude. Not only will your employer be watching you during these first 90 days, but your teammates will be too. It’s important to have a positive attitude at all times.  When you first meet your co-workers, extend a confident handshake, make eye contact, smile, and let them know how glad you are to be part of the team. These signals will help break the ice and communication barriers, letting others know you’re approachable. Continue to remain positive as you go about your daily job. Know that every new job brings challenges. A good attitude is contagious – it just takes one person before it starts to catch on with others.

Also, get to know your co-workers. These individuals can help you learn the ropes at your new job and answer any questions you may have, so start now by developing a good relationship with them.

Familiarize yourself with department processes. You’re joining a team that already has a work plan outlined. What is that plan and how do you fit into it? Learn how the team functions. Some basics include discovering if there is a clock-in/clock-out process, designated times for going to lunch or taking breaks, safety procedures, codes for using the printer, and more. Ask questions early on so you can quickly get up to speed and not accidentally step on anyone’s toes because you didn’t know the rules.

Learn your responsibilities. What is your job description? Ask your manager if you can have a copy for your personal records so you know exactly what’s expected of you. The tasks on your job description will play a major role in determining whether or not you’ve achieved your goals when it comes to review time.

Have regular meetings with your manager. Your supervisor can provide you with great feedback as he or she helps you learn the laws of the land around the office. Seek out your supervisor’s guidance. If your manager doesn’t normally meet one-on-one with employees, ask if it’s a possibility. Knowing what you’re doing right or what you need to correct can help you keep moving in the right direction. Come to each meeting prepared with any questions you may have or achievements you would like to celebrate. Doing this shows your boss that you have initiative and you want to do your job well.

After the interview’s over, employers have a whole new set of expectations they need from you as an employee. The 90-day trial period is the time for them to bring you up to speed and gradually immerse you into your new career. It’s a test to see what you can do – but you can ace it with flying colors with these helpful tips.