Monthly Archives: June 2012

Get a Job, Charlie Brown

getting a job with charlie brownCharles Schulz’s famous comic series, “Peanuts,” was about fusing adult ideas on art, psychology, and current events with the world of children. The comic has delighted, thought-provoked, and entertained children and adults for more than 50 years. The cast of characters in Peanuts typically cover a wide variety of issues about daily life, but with tough economic times, even the most prepared job seeker can feel like saying, “good grief.”

The truth is, there are several things to take away from Charlie Brown that can affect your job search. Here are three lessons you can learn to improve your job search from Charlie Brown.

The Great Career Pumpkin
In the 1966 TV special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” the character Linus waits in a pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin, who rises out of the pumpkin patch on Halloween night and flies through the air delivering toys to all the good little children in the world. Despite Linus’ faith and commitment, the Great Pumpkin never shows.

Sometimes we treat our job search like we’re waiting for the Great Pumpkin. We have that dream job in mind and no other opportunity will do. The hard truth is that sometimes that dream job may just be out of reach. Those just graduating from school or training might need more job experience before getting the dream job. Look at your industry and see if you need to follow another opportunity and build your skills and experience before jumping at job openings you aren’t qualified for yet.  You’ll be better prepared and more skilled to do it if you work your way there.

Book Reports and Resumes go Hand in Hand
In the musical and TV special, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” the Peanut gang has trouble writing a book report on “Peter Rabbit.” Lucy focuses solely on the word count, Linus gets lost in his own vocabulary, Schroeder ends up writing more about “Robin Hood,” and Charlie Brown gets so nervous, he never writes anything at all.

We can have the same mishaps when writing resumes. Like Lucy, we can meet the minimum requirements on a résumé, but we can forget to market and sell ourselves as the best candidate for the job. We may be the most qualified person, but can end up like Linus and fill our resume with jargon and technical words recruiters might not understand. It’s easy to ramble like Schroeder about what you’ve done for previous employers, but stick to the experience that’s relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you see a job opening for a position you want, customize your resume before applying to present your abilities in the best light for the position. Don’t wait and get panicked like Charlie Brown.

It’s a Group Affair
In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charlie Brown finds a small, almost broken Christmas tree to use in his nativity play. Depressed by the commercialization of the holiday, he gives up on the holiday until his friends show up to decorate the small tree together, which revitalizes Charlie’s Christmas spirit.

Just like Charlie needed his friends to decorate the tree to revive his passion, we should be open and welcoming of others to help us with our job search. Have old contacts or mentors review your updated résumé, practice interviewing, and talk about any job leads. There are several people in your life who want to help, you just have to ask.

It’s amazing how Charlie Brown can give us insights as kids and adults. What are some lessons you’ve learned from Charlie Brown and the Peanut gallery?

Associate Spotlight: James Price

Associate spotlight james price jobsEvery month, Movin’ On Up likes to tell the story of outstanding Express Employment Professionals’ associates and the success they have found in their life. There are countless stories to from the 335,000 workers Express employes in the United States, Canada, and South Africa.

This month’s associate spotlight tells the story of an associate who wasn’t placed in any outside business or organization, but was hired for his talents and skills at the Express International headquarters in Oklahoma City, OK.  This associate’s professionalism and willingness to work helped the Marketing and Communications department tackle large projects when it was understaffed.

James Price
A Houston native, James Price attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK majoring in journalism and broadcasting. All was well until he faced graduating during he Great Recession in 2008. Entry-level jobs in his industry were scarce, and James needed help finding work in a sluggish economy. Eventually, James heard about Express after receiving a referral from a friend. Once he applied, he was contacted by the downtown Oklahoma City office about an opportunity writing for the Express headquarters.

James was assigned to a longer-term placement at the Express International Headquarters when one of the members of the Marketing and Communications department went on maternity leave. The department faced some large projects due in a short amount of time, and James helped write promotional material, blogs, and newsletters to help finish the projects on time. He is still working on projects for the headquarters and greatly enjoys it. His flexible schedule helps him develop skills, but also allows him to continue following his other passion, music. When not working for Express, James enjoys writing and recording music for his band and serves as music director for First Baptist Church of Stillwater.

“Working with Express has been a growing experience. I have been able to develop several different skills which I never had the opportunity to use before. Looking toward the future, Express has helped me build my portfolio to become a more desirable employee. For those of us who are entering the workforce with little to no professional experience, Express is a great opportunity and will be a stepping stone to greater things,” James said.

We love hearing stories about the determination and quality work Express associates demonstrate every day.  James is just one example of thousands of Express associates who achieve success through their strong talent and resolve. If you’re searching for a job, consider working with a staffing agency like Express. More and more employers are relying heavily on staffing companies to fill open positions before hiring them on as full-time employees.

If you’re an Express associate and know a fellow associate who would be a great candidate for our associate spotlight, let your Express office know. If you have an Express associate you’d like to feature on Movin’ On Up, let us know in the comments below.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder When You’re Shy and Introverted

corporate ladder getting a promotion when shy or introvertedIt’s hard enough to find a job when you’re shy, but it can seem just as hard to become a team player within a group of strangers you’ve just met and position yourself to move up into management.
Here’s how you can overcome being just shy of a promotion.

Talk Big About Your Co-Workers
Introverts internalize all of the information that’s given to them, from casual conversation or presentations, to internet research and books. While introverts don’t have to be shy, it can be very easy for them to constantly think about how the outside world correlates with them, instead of how the outside world correlates with itself. Take some time to step back and acknowledge your co-workers’ achievements. Colleagues love a sincere pat on the back, an email full of kudos, or a card with congratulations. Management will see that you’re a team player with eyes on the company’s goals.

Shy workers may feel like sleazy used car salesmen when dishing out random compliments, but there’s a great way for you to give sincere acclaim while giving yourself a little credit too. If working on a project and a team member goes above and beyond the call of duty, tell your boss, “I couldn’t have done the project without (co-worker’s name). He/she made things so much easier for me.”

Tell Your Boss How You’re Doing, Really
We have a culture of asking the obligatory “how are you?” question when first talking to other people. Most of the time, we don’t really mean it since it’s just a formality. This is a perfect opportunity for you to self-promote. Next time your boss walks by and says “what’s up?” or “how are you?” instead of being unprepared and saying “not much” or “good” make it an opportunity to talk about the progress of your latest project or of a recent accomplishment.

If randomly bringing it up feels too awkward and sales-pitchy, you can wait for more opportune times when it’s ok to talk about yourself. Wait until you have your annual review with your boss and present a list of all your accomplishments and achievements you made during the year. If presented in a structured and thought-out manner, it can make a good impression on your supervisor.

Just Say it
Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and speak your mind. While it’s good to be cautious of what you say and self-censorship can be a useful skill, for those who are shy, it can be a hindrance. Shy workers can kill their own best ideas because they’re too self-critical. Rather than getting held back by negative thoughts, focus on what co-workers and managers are saying, then use that as a basis to elaborate. When you stop focusing on yourself and instead focus on the ideas being presented, you start to brainstorm and provide valuable input for your employer.

Building relationships and getting noticed by management doesn’t happen overnight. It can take time to build trust and demonstrate how valuable you are to your employer. Luckily for us introverts, our strongest abilities are patience and planning, which can give us an advantage when the word “promotion” starts floating around the workplace. What are some tricks you’ve used to help step outside of your comfort zone while at work?

How to Take Full Advantage of Your Staffing Agency

benefits of staffingWhen you’re between jobs, it can feel like you’re walking in an endless desert. It’s like you’ve been there forever and you can’t do anything else but walk aimlessly. The truth is, your job search doesn’t have to be that way.  Many job seekers and workers have discovered the benefits of working for a staffing agency.

Access to temporary work full-time jobs aren’t the only things staffing agencies have to offer. More than just providing work, they can help you develop a stronger job search outside of employment experience. Here are some lesser-known benefits of staffing agencies that you can take advantage of.

Résumé Review
One of the biggest perks of working with a staffing agency is your direct access to résumé experts. Your recruiter sees a large number of résumés every day, so they are often times well versed in the dos and don’ts of effective writing. This perk is often overlooked because workers are under the impression that since they are already working, their résumé doesn’t need work.

All résumés need to be constantly updated. Who better than your recruiter to help you best outline and describe your temporary work experience in a manner that’s appealing to employers?  If you’re interested in tightening or critiquing your résumé, talk to your recruiter. It’s free to schedule a time aside for you to go over the ins and outs of résumé writing. If your agency can’t, they can refer you to someone who can.

Resource Libraries
It’s important for staffing agencies to have employee satisfaction, retention, morale, and motivation. That’s why many agencies have meetings and lectures focused on helping you plan, succeed, and grow in your career. These gatherings let you discuss and learn about job related issues from experts and peers, which help build a better working relationship between the recruiter and you.

Most staffing agencies have resources full of useful information on interviewing, workplace etiquette, cover letter writing, and networking. When you develop stronger job skills, you’ll be better enabled to achieve your career goals, and your staffing firm will have a more qualified worker to place for its clients.

Software Training
Sometimes you have to take several placement tests before you can schedule an interview with a recruiter. Depending on what field and pay rate you want to be in, or where you want to go in your career, you might be tested on more than just basic use of word processors. Some clerical positions require more than a basic knowledge of Microsoft Office, and with the program frequently changing and updating, it can be difficult to keep up with it on your own.

If you want to enhance your office software skills, most agencies allow you to come in during your days off to train yourself. Recruiters will be impressed seeing you take the initiative to educate yourself and improve your skills. Employers like to see candidates get closer to their career goals by improving skills from programs offered by staffing firms.

While there may be some misconceptions about staffing agencies, there are several opportunities for you to learn and grow as a job seeker. What are some ways you’ve taken advantage of programs offered by staffing firms?

It’s Time to Check Your Progress – Self Evaluations

It’s Time to Check Your Progress – Self EvaluationsThe mid-year point can be a great time to give yourself a review on your job performance. Most companies typically hold performance reviews or annual reviews at the end of the calendar year, but at that point there isn’t much you can do to improve your scorecard for the year. Here are the key elements in conducting a self-review.

  1. Review the progress you’ve made on your goals.
    Remember the goals you set for yourself at the beginning the year? When is the last time you reviewed those? Now is the perfect time to review them and see where you are at meeting them. If you are struggling with a goal, take some time to consider what the obstacles are and how you can work around them. In areas where you’ve succeeded, it’s a great motivator to see how your performance is paying off. Often, we are so busy getting our work done we don’t take the time to look up and see how far we’ve come. This evaluation may just be the motivation and encouragement you need to keep pressing on.
  2. Review any new skills you’ve learned or skills you’ve advanced.
    Have you been to any training events this year? Have you taken any online classes or webinars, or read any development publications? Even though everything you learn might not create a new or advanced skill, it’s good to review what you’ve been doing to stay fresh and keep your skills sharp. Now may be a good time to create or update your list of job specific abilities and soft skills, and you may even want to score yourself on them. If you have a résumé, it may be a good time to update it or add any new skills to your LinkedIn page. Keeping those things up to date regularly prevents you from having to do major overhauls every few years.
  3. Create a timeline for improvement.
    Everyone has room for improvement, and even if you’ve met your goals, now is a great time to start thinking of ways to advance or add milestones you’d like to achieve. This timeline will remind and motivate you to pursue your development goals and will demonstrate your commitment to improvement to your manager. It would be great to share this with your manager, especially if you’re going to need additional resources to achieve your goals. Even if you don’t share it with your manager now, it will be a wonderful asset to discuss in your annual review.

How do you measure your performance and development? Share your tips in the comments section below.

Are You “That Guy?”

are you that guy? Annyoing co-workerWe’ve all worked with them. That one person at work who just doesn’t seem to get it. Maybe the person is loud-mouthed, annoying, or just trying too hard, and is always getting on everyone’s nerves.

Most of the time, they don’t realize how many problems they can be causing in the office. While there are several ways of handling difficult co-workers, many team members have no idea they are being “that person” who is causing problems. Here are some ways you can identify if you’re being a difficult co-worker and how you can fix those annoying habits.

You’re Just Not Fitting in
Even though it may not be in the company handbook, each employer has their own company culture, which has its own etiquette, expectation, and accepted behaviors. It could be the way you dress, the words you say, or even how you use emails. Pay attention to how your managers and co-workers behave and take in the unspoken rules of conduct. Also, look through your emails to make sure you aren’t marketing your emails urgent, or Cc’ing or Bcc’ing every email. If you are, you’re being “that guy.” When in doubt, ask your manager for advice.

Workplace Slob
There are several reasons to keep your workplace tidy, but a dirty workspace can communicate several bad messages to your co-workers and management. Many people work in communal areas and shared workspaces, so by not keeping your space clean, you aren’t respecting the others who are using the same space. While you may think it’s a sign that you’re busy, most think it’s a sign of laziness.

There are places other than your workspace you can keep tidy, too. If you eat at a restaurant for lunch and bring back leftovers, make sure to take it home after work or eat it in the next few days. It can be very annoying to co-workers when the company fridge is full of half-eaten food and forgotten-about lunch sacks.

Prim and Proper Failure
Noise and smells can travel, especially if you’re working in a un-secluded part of an office or warehouse. Take the time to freshen up a bit after bicycling to work, working out during your lunch break, or eating a meal that makes your breath smell. If you work closely with other people, they will notice and it will reflect poorly on your professional image.

Also, pay attention to how people react to the volume of your voice and what you generally talk about. Some colleagues across the office may not want to hear about your weekend plans. Ask around if the music you listen to is disturbing your fellow co-workers. These types of interferences can slow down productivity and quickly gain you a bad reputation.

Negative Nancy
While you may need to vent your frustrations to a confidant to relieve stress, complaining too much can make you look bad. Such strong negativity can make your co-workers feel like you aren’t a good worker or that your negative outlook is draining. Consciously try to be positive and respectful. You may not care, but avoid interrupting colleagues or discounting others’ ideas. A few kind words can help you build stronger relationships with your peers.

Working with the same people every day can be hard, but bad behavior can make things even worse. Not being “that guy” may be a simple mix of workplace etiquette and common sense, but they’re still good to keep in mind. What are some annoying behaviors you’ve faced at work?

8 Ways to Move Into Management

move into manangement ready for promotionIf you’re looking to take the next step in your career and move into a management position, it’s important to show others that you can do the job.

A management role brings a new title and often a higher salary, but it also brings new responsibilities. How can you tell if you’re management material?

Executives look for certain traits and qualities when they’re reviewing candidates for a management position. Here are eight tips to give you the leg up as you look toward a role in management.

1. Model yourself after other managers and leaders. Look for managers, supervisors, and leaders in your workplace who are well-liked and respected. Observe how they interact with others, and duplicate their actions. They’re admired for a reason, so if you follow in their footsteps chances are, you’ll be favored too.

2. Display a solid work ethic. When you’re looking to move into another position, make sure you continue to fulfill your current position’s responsibilities. If you start slacking off on your duties when a higher position catches your eye, supervisors will take notice and may think you’ll demonstrate the same work ethic in a new role. Prove you’re a hard worker, and you’ll be recognized for your commitment and dependability. When you give 110% to your tasks, you’ll stand out and have the edge over equally qualified candidates.

3. Volunteer for extra work. Once you’ve completed all of your tasks, offer to take on a new task or help a co-worker complete a project. Taking on new responsibilities will help you familiarize yourself with other operations you may oversee as a manager. Then you’ll be able to add your new capabilities to your résumé.

4. Excel at working with others. Learn to play a variety of roles on your team, because there will be different times when you need to be a leader, participant, and supporter. As a coach, take the lead and guide others when they need assistance. As a team player, be cooperative and considerate of others without trying to overrule them. And as the team cheerleader, encourage and praise others for their efforts.

5. Keep your skills competitive. Take advantage of every opportunity to improve your skills. Participate in leadership classes, because as a manager you’ll need to know how to effectively lead. Also, enroll in training courses and seminars that cover topics related to your field. With a wider knowledge base and higher skill level, you’ll be a prime candidate for management positions.

6. Share your ambitions with your boss. Talk to your supervisor and let him or her know you’re interested in moving into a management position. Tell them why you think you’re ready to take the next step in your career, and ask for their help, suggestions, or feedback. Your supervisor can help you develop the necessary skills to become an effective manager and can act as a mentor during your career move. If you’re looking to move up within the company, you’ll probably need your boss’s approval anyway, so it’s best to get their support in advance.

7. Practice your management skills. Work on increasing your strengths and turning your weaknesses into strengths. Volunteer for an organization or civic group within your community so you can gain experience managing a small group. Make sure to practice the skills you’ll need as a manager, such as communication, scheduling projects, creating timelines, allocating resources, and budgeting funds.

8. Dress the part. For any manager to be taken seriously, they have to dress appropriately. Show the hiring manager and other executives that you can professionally represent the company by dressing the part. If you don’t make the right impression through your appearance, you might be passed up for the job for someone with equal qualifications with a more professional look. Remember, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

If it’s time to take the next step in your career and move into a management position, make sure that you are prepared to do so. Update your skills, put your experience to practice, and demonstrate your qualifications before you make the jump. Put yourself ahead of the other candidates and land the promotion you’re after by getting yourself ready for the job now.