Monthly Archives: November 2011

To Share or Not to Share Your Salary History

Salaryhistory_Dec2011_webA key question for many job seekers is “How much does the job pay?” But, the flip side of that conversation for potential employers is “How much do you currently make?” It can be hard to decide how and when to share your salary history with a potential employer, or even to decide if you are willing to share it at all. All of this is compounded by the fact that talking about money is usually taboo, right up there with religion and politics in the workplace. However, when it comes to your career, learning how to professionally discuss your salary can pay off in a big way.

Why Does an Employer Want to Know?

It’s important to first understand why employers request salary information during the application process. Typically, employers have a set budget for positions based on the job duties and market value in that area. If an employer is asking for salary information to be included when you apply, they may be using this as a quick way to determine who to interview for the position. Employers may not want to interview candidates who have a higher salary than they are willing to pay, or they may seek to interview candidates with the closest pay rate, regardless of experience.

Check out this video on discussing your salary history in an interview from career coach Karen Chopra.

Karen Chopra, Career Counselor, Washington, D.C.

Please note, the video clips herein and their sponsors do not necessarily represent the views of Express and are used for educational purposes only.

What’s the Best Way to Share Salary Information?

Even if salary information is requested when you apply, you don’t necessarily have to submit it. Typically you want to be able to discuss salary history and compensation, it’s a conversation best not left to written correspondence. With this in mind, state on your résumé you are willing to submit salary information when requested. This puts you in control of who sees your salary history and how it is conveyed. Ideally you won’t share salary information until your interview, when you can have a conversation about your job duties and additional compensation.

How do You Evaluate Compensation?

 It’s important to keep in mind that your salary is more than just your pay, your compensation includes things your current job might provide, including health insurance, 401(k) matching, education reimbursements, and more. When you discuss pay with your potential employer, let them lead the discussion before you share your salary history. Ask what benefits you’ll receive besides pay that will make up your total compensation. Research the job market to learn what salary ranges are being offered for similar positions. Understand what the position requires in terms of education and experience and be prepared to discuss how your education and experience should impact your salary. Make sure your salary research is done in coordination with the city where the position is located, because pay is typically impacted by geography.

The last tip to keep in mind when discussing your salary with potential employers is to make sure you are consistent. If you’ve cited salary information within online job board databases, like your CareerBuilder or Monster profile, make sure the information on your résumé is documented the same. If you are including benefits and other compensation factors, let the employer know you are willing to negotiate within these pending factors. Your credibility is on the line during your job search, and misrepresenting your salary history can be detrimental to you career.


 By Rachel Rudisill

3 Behaviors to Beat the Monday Morning Blues

Monday morning_Nov2011_webWhen Monday morning rolls around, the last thing we want to hear is that buzzing alarm. We don’t want to get dressed, we don’t want to drive to work, and we definitely don’t want to face the big stack of unfinished business that hasn’t moved since Friday.

In the immortal words of the temp worker from the movie Office Space, “Uh-oh. Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.”

After spending two days away from work, colleagues, and business attire, it’s no wonder people moan at the thought of coming back to the job duties they left last week. A recent study in the British newspaper, the Telegraph, reports most people find Monday mornings so difficult, they won’t smile until 11:46 a.m. It’s time to stop fearing the new work week wake up call. Here are three things you can do to make Monday morning arrivals much easier.

Better Bed Times
Yes, it’s tempting to take advantage of your weekend by staying out late and sleeping in. There’s nothing wrong with going out and enjoying the company of others, but too much tampering with your sleep schedule can come with a price. Try to avoid staying up too late on Fridays and Saturdays and sleeping in too late during the weekend. You could be spending all week trying to get back on track for two nights of fun.

Waking up earlier may not be a popular option for your weekend, but who knows, you might actually like getting up earlier once you see how much you can get done. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule all week can help you feel energized and ready to face the work week. With all your energy, you could make sure your work week ends strongly to avoid dreading a large Monday workload.

Build Blueprints for Your Work Week
A winning way to avoid dreading the call of Monday is to re-strategize your work week. Try managing your time more efficiently while at work. This could be as simple as setting certain times each day to check your email or voicemail instead of stopping what you’re doing when you receive one, to as complex as establishing obtainable goals throughout the week to keep you on track. This way, you won’t have a pile of work to worry about while you are supposed to be taking time off. Also, on Fridays, it can be helpful to take a moment to set your schedule for the next week, giving you a clear plan to return to.

While Wednesday can be known as “hump day,” that doesn’t mean you can’t set aside some time in the middle of the week to do something fun. Take some friends to the local game playing on a Wednesday night, have a girls’ night at the movies, attend an art or music class, or have a romantic night out with your spouse. You can’t fit all of your fun into two days, so give yourself some time to recharge from work during the week.

Take a Breather
When we try to cram so much into an entire weekend, we often forget the purpose of the weekend. We get days off to enjoy our lives and recharge our batteries. But we can’t recharge them if we’re always using them. We don’t always have to postpone chores like laundry or lawn mowing to the weekend if you divide them up in smaller chunks throughout the week.

A weekend full of too many fun activities can be draining and can make you feel unrested. Working while feeling fatigued can hurt your productivity at work and leave you more open to distractions. Make an effort to plan your weekend activities with events that leave you feeling content and fulfilled, not frazzled and imposed upon.

The Monday morning blues has become a kind of cultural tradition in the workplace. Employees tend to gather together to talk about how hard it is when you have “the Mondays.” But if you change a few behaviors, you’ll feel ready and able to take on Monday and every day. What are some ideas you have to avoid dreading coming back to work after your weekend?

At a Loss With Your Boss? Starting Over at the Same Job

Startingover_nov2011_webMost of the time, workers have good relationships with their boss. A MSN-Zogby poll showed 58% of employees say they like their boss. But sometimes working relationships can strain and sour, which can make your job harder.

Whether it started with a disagreement, or built up over time because of frustrations with your manager’s constantly changing priorities, having a boss that you feel isn’t listening or respecting you can hinder your productivity and career. Here are some ways you can mend your working relationship with your supervisor and begin a fresh slate at work.

Be the Best You Can be
One of the best ways to repair work relationships is to step up your game. Your boss’ bonuses and performance reviews are based on how you and those you work with perform. If you make the extra effort to provide great results, go the extra mile, or volunteer to work on team projects, the benefits of your hard work will ease the tension and help restore communication and mutual respect.

By showing a willingness to work harder and produce better results, you will have proven success to lean on when you have difficult conversations. You can turn this challenge into an opportunity. Don’t let it stand between you, your boss, and your career. You may have to bite the bullet and be the one offering the hand of peace, but if you are producing good results at work, you are already prepping yourself to succeed.

While it’s important to be the one to instigate the willingness to repair tensions at work, it’s also important to follow up on your efforts. It could be beneficial to meet one-on-one with your manager if you feel like your boss isn’t treating you right. It will give you a chance to discuss what you are looking for and ways you can improve your work. It shows your willingness to learn, and after some good communication, circumstances should improve.

The key to making the dialogue work is to schedule follow-up meetings. After several weeks of working on the suggestions given to you, request a second meeting to see if your boss is satisfied with those changes. It shows managers that you value their opinion and are working hard to meet their requests.

Remember That Two Heads Are Better Than One
It can help to have an outsider’s opinion of the situation. Consider finding a mentor. If you feel like you’re not seeing eye to eye with your boss, talk to your trusted mentor. Hopefully they can give you some advice on how to deal with the conflict.  Having a reliable confidant to vent to will help you learn from their experiences when dealing with difficult managers and keep your thoughts in order before you accidentally say the wrong thing at work.

It’s never too late to start over with your boss. By following these tips, you can learn to understand where the conflict stems from and how to build a better working relationship from it. Who knows, you might even like your boss more after this. What are some ways you have made a fresh start in the workplace?

Giving a Helping Hand with Holiday Volunteering Can Give Back to You

Holidayvolunteer_nov2011_webWith the holiday season in full swing, you may be busy getting all of your holiday planning together with seeing family, taking extra days off from work, and gift buying. What may not be on your mind is volunteering. With several charities and nonprofits needing extra help with holiday festivities and programs, the need for volunteers increases. Donating money will always be a welcome gift to any charity, but if money is tight and not in your budget, consider donating time for a cause you believe in.

It’s commonly known that volunteering has several benefits when looking for a job, but what you might not realize is that volunteering through work or while employed can have several benefits you may not realize. Here are some ways volunteering your time during the holidays can help your career while helping your community.

Stress Relief

More workers are feeling stressed at work than ever before. With sluggish hiring trends in the U.S., employees generally have to deal with more responsibilities without the help of co-workers and even more when employees go on vacation. Stress is notorious for being a health issue, but being stressed out the entire time is going to affect your productivity too.

You could release stress with a vacation or spa day, but even small vacations and simple spas can be expensive and take time to plan, which could add to the stress you’re trying to get rid of. However, you can relieve tension by volunteering your time and efforts. There’s something about the feeling you get from helping others. It allows you to release endorphins and you end up feeling as if you’ve just had a vacation, except you haven’t had to pay a penny for it.

Sharpen Your Skills

Earlier this year, a survey was conducted by the University of California San Diego Extension's Center for Global Volunteer Service where respondents showed that volunteering was beneficial for developing important skills in the workplace. 73% of respondents who had volunteered said it helped in their development as a leader at work, 61% reported it helped with their creativity and resourcefulness, and 73% felt it increased their intercultural awareness and sensitivity.  

No matter who you volunteer for or what task you have agreed to do, there is a learning experience if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. Many local charities don’t have the resources to hire people, so look for opportunities to donate your job skills when volunteering. Not only will you practice your craft and skill, but you’re also helping out a worthwhile cause. 

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

When you’re stuck in the daily grind, sometimes it’s hard to stay positive about your company or position.  During the holiday season, it can be even harder when there’s extra work to be done, but not extra time to do it. Taking the time to volunteer will help you recharge your batteries and learn to appreciate your employer as a whole, especially if you can find holiday volunteer opportunities through your company.

Deloitte, an audit, financial advisory, tax, and consulting firm, published a volunteer impact survey this year. Deloitte found that 55% of employees who frequently participate in a company’s sponsored volunteer activities are likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive, compared with 36% of employees who don’t volunteer.

We all know volunteering is the right thing to do, but sometimes giving our time costs more than donating money. We often don’t think about the benefits that can come from offering a little time and energy. What kind of success stories have you had when volunteering through your employer or on your own?

Bouncing Back From Job Rejection

Rejection recovery_nov2011_webJob searching for an extended period of time can put a strain on your positivity and well-being. As the months drag on, you can sometimes feel like your emails and résumés are being sent to this mystical void where no one sees them. The few employers who respond to your résumé send you the typical rejection letter.

With a sluggish economy, more and more people are facing this type of rejection. It can be discouraging to receive rejection letter after rejection letter or even no response at all, but there are ways to turn that negativity around. If you remember these simple steps, you can bounce back from being rejected during your job search.

It’s Not You, It’s me
Sometimes, there isn’t a particular reason you weren’t chosen for an interview or offered a position. You could have marketed yourself as a competent, capable candidate, but reasons outside of your control could have been the deciding factor. To employers, it’s about making a good match. Hiring managers could have had a better connection with another candidate during an interview, you might not have been a good fit for the company culture, or you were too strong a candidate and maybe they felt you were overqualified and would leave at the first opportunity.

During my job search, I was asked to interview with a paper supply company for a project manager position and was given a vague job description. I got the hiring manager’s attention because of my publishing background. After 10 minutes into the interview, I learned the position managed pre-published projects and made sure the process of packaging and shipping went smoothly. I was expecting to write and create content for these projects. So, sometimes the jobs and your skills and expectations don’t mix, and it’s no fault of your own.

A Learning Opportunity
Feedback is necessary for development. If you weren’t offered the job, consider asking your interviewer what you can do to improve in the future. Be respectful and clear that you are seeking feedback for improvement purposes only. You might disagree with some of the feedback, but do not get aggressive or defensive. Thank the interviewer for their time, make note of their comments, and discuss them with a family member or trusted colleague after to find what you can change.

Be prepared to put a plan in place to make changes if possible when you receive your constructive criticism. Take the time to clean up or focus your portfolio, learn some of the latest trends in your field, or take some courses on the latest software being used by your professional peers. Discuss with friends and family what you can do to strengthen yourself professionally and keep them in the loop with your job hunting endeavors. Having a support team can help keep you positive.

Remember What You’ve Learned
A lost opportunity is your chance to consider other positions. Take what you have learned from the experience and use it to prepare for the next opportunity. Each new job posting or interview is a new chance. Don’t be held back by negativity you kept from previously rejected applications. You took what you learned and are a better candidate for it. 

You may have been passed on by one organization, but if you’ve been effectively job seeking, you’ll have multiple opportunities to work towards and your previous rejection won’t be your only hope. You may have that one job or employer that would be ideal, but never lose sight of the job that will be right for you or help you become better at your line of work.

What are some ideas that could help you stay positive through a wearisome job search?

3 Ways to Get In A Good Mood at Work

Goo mood_Nov2011_webWe’ve all had those days at work where your attitude or outlook is holding you back from being in a good mood. Maybe your workload is piling up or you’ve had a conflict with a co-worker. Whatever the reason, you’re in a bad mood and still have several hours left in the workday. The key here is to break out of your negativity so you can get back to work, because if you think you’re grumpy now – hindering your productivity with a bad mood will only make things worse. So, how do you get into a good mood instantly?

Stage a Victory

Chances are you’ve got a list of things running through your head that need to get done. Is there a task on your list that has taken up permanent residency among your “to-do’s”? Now’s the perfect time to tackle that pesky task. This will take your attention away from your grumpy mood and focus it onto taking care of business instead. In addition, the rush of good feelings you’ll get from actually getting rid of, or getting a good start on, that project that has been hanging over you will put an end to unnecessary stress and frustration.

Reflect on Success

If you’re in a bad mood because you’ve failed at a task, take 10 minutes to take stock of your achievements. Most employees are held accountable to certain standards and goals on a regular basis, whether that is at weekly staff meetings, quarterly reports, or during an annual review, you’ll need to know how you are measuring up. Take some time to review your goals and see how they are matching up with your current productivity. It’s a great way to see how you’re contributing to the company and meeting or exceeding your goals. Additionally, this focus on your goals will recharge your focus putting you in a good mood to head back into your work day.

Address the Problem

If whatever is bothering you is within your realm of control, take direct action to solve it. If you need to apologize, don’t wait to do so. The problem – and your bad mood – will get bigger until you address the situation.  Once you’ve sought to resolve the conflict, you can move on. Wouldn’t that feel great? If what is bothering you is beyond what you can fix, take a few minutes to think about that. Is there anything you can do to improve the situation? If not, then why let it put you in a bad mood. All that is doing is letting something beyond your control take more control over you. Also, remember your allies and mentors. Send a quick email to your mentor or place a phone call to HR to get some advice that will allow you to feel like you’ve taken action, and then move on.

And if the ideas above don’t look like solutions for solving your bad mood, consider age-old tricks. Pump up your favorite type of music, likely setting off some memories of times you’ve enjoyed while hearing those tunes. Or take five minutes to take a quick walk around your workplace, giving you some time to cool off – and possibly locate some chocolate or other free office treat that is sure to improve your mood!


By Rachel Rudisill

Hand Safety: Staying Focused on the Task at Hand

Handsafety_nov2011_webWhile many have trouble seeing job safety as a major concern at their office job, those working industrial, construction, or other blue collar jobs work with highly dangerous equipment see it every day. When spending time working with hazardous machinery, chemicals, or tools, accidents can and do happen, and they usually involve the hands. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hand injuries send more than one million workers to the emergency room each year.

Second to neglecting to wear protective equipment, a main cause of hand injuries is a lack of awareness.  Hand safety shouldn’t solely rely on proper glove use. One of the best and most effective means of hand protection is good hand position. To help keep your hands happy, here are some ways for you to stay focused on your job and keep an eye out for potential dangers you could be placing your hands in.

Ride Into the Danger Zone

Before working with potentially dangerous equipment, recognize the hazardous areas and develop a work practice to keep your hands away from the “danger zone.”  It’s an important preventative procedure to maintain an effective barrier between your hands and hazards when operating machinery.

When handling dangerous materials, try using tools like pliers to move or hold extremely hot or hazardous materials, determine if there are multiple energy sources on the same piece of equipment, or prepare for an unexpected slip or release when applying force.

Each tool and piece of equipment has its own danger zone that varies from model to model. Be sure to get with your manager and company Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to learn what areas are the most dangerous.

Offhanded Placement

Jobs and duties can get repetitive, especially in industrial or construction work, which makes it easier for workers to get complacent and less compliant with safety standards. When workers start taking their safety procedures for granted, the little mistakes slip by and cause huge accidents. Many times, hand injuries happen because workers were not paying attention to where their unused hand was placed.

No matter what your job is, it is important to stay focused and be alert when any hand is near dangerous equipment. You can avoid harmful situations by being aware of your danger zones and keeping the unused hand in sight. Try shifting your body weight occasionally if you find yourself leaning too much. Better posture can lead to longer periods of standing without fatigue, avoid long-term complications like tendinitis, and will help keep you safer when using dangerous machinery.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Having your task, hands, and tools within direct eyesight can help prevent hand injuries on the job. If you have to reach for something like a dropped tool or clogged machine part, make sure you can see where your hand is going to avoid getting your hand crushed or knocking over hazardous materials.

Keep in mind the area around you and check around your operating area for rough or sharp edges, kill-switches on machines, and maintain a clean and tidy workspace. This way, you can focus on your job and reduce the risk of grazing you hand on a sharp edge, tripping over something on the floor and catching your hand in a machine, or getting hit by a misplaced tool that gets caught in the machine.

Workers can become complacent when performing repetitive job duties and lose track of where their hands or bodies are placed. Gloves may protect you when an accident occurs, but being alert and aware of where your hands are helps prevent the accidents from happening. How does your company encourage hand safety?