Monthly Archives: August 2012

Take Back Your Job Search by Being Proactive

There are 24 million people in the U.S. looking for work. The job market is tight, and the job seekers who find the jobs are the ones who hustle. If you want to make it to the head of the pack, you can’t sit around and wait for opportunity to come to you.

The job will go to those hitting the pavement running. It’s a matter of being proactive and taking the initiative. Here are some tips on how to get in the driver’s seat when you’re looking for a job.

Apply for Unlisted Jobs
Believe it or not, many of the really good jobs aren’t posted in classified ads or job boards and company websites. Employers don’t advertise these positions, but offer positions to connections and contacts who have had experience working with decision makers in that company. You’ll never find these jobs if you don’t take initiative by asking for them. Do your research to find a hiring manager or decision maker, then express your interest in working for them.

Apply in Person
Thanks to the wonders of the internet and social media it’s incredibly easy to fill out an online application, attach a resume, and wait around until you get an email. Unfortunately, with the increasing number of automated resume readers, your application can get placed in a void never to be seen again. Even if your resume is seen by a hiring manager, it’s extremely difficult for one resume to differentiate itself from the hundreds of others being reviewed. Your chances greatly increase if you print your resume and cover letter, or application, and physically hand it to a hiring manager, potential supervisor, or department head.

Apply the Follow-Up
Whether you apply online or hand in a resume in person, you shouldn’t stop there. Those hiring have a busy schedule and sometimes filling a job isn’t the only thing on a department head or HR manager’s agenda. That’s why you should follow-up after applying to demonstrate your interest in the job.

If the job opening had an application deadline, wait a few days after, then confirm that the potential employer received your resume. Use this as another opportunity to remind them of your interest in the position. If no deadline was given, wait a week to 12 days after submitting your application to follow-up. Remember not to pester or annoy the company when following up. Keep it to two attempts. If you don’t get a satisfactory response, send an email a week later. If you don’t hear anything after that, move on.

Being proactive in your job search isn’t a guarantee for instantly landing the perfect job, but you will get hired faster when you take initiative instead of passively waiting for an offer. What are some ways you’ve taken the bull by the horns during your job search?

Express Employment Professionals Featured on Fox News

Express was featured on Fox and Friends early Tuesday morning on Aug. 21 and then on Thursday morning, Aug. 23, for the program’s “Companies Hiring Now” segment. This is an exciting time for any job seeker who is looking for employers who need them.

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. You can check out the video below:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What it Means at Work

Earning Respect at WorkEarning respect at work is a lofty goal when starting a new job. We know we should all strive to earn it, but what does it mean in the context of the workplace? Earning respect shouldn’t focus solely on your clients, co-workers, and management.

In order to earn respect, you have to give it. Here are three aspects of your career that you should strive to not only gain respect, but also advance your career.

Respect Yourself
Many of us seek respect from others, yet we don’t even respect ourselves. Have you ever beaten yourself up over a mistake? Many times when we make big enough mistakes, we treat ourselves poorly by not getting enough sleep, proper diet, or exercise. When we don’t take care of ourselves, it certainly affects the quality of our work. No one can hope to gain respect from others if they don’t respect themselves. Start by loving who we are, and the admiration from others will come subsequently.

Respect Criticism
Despite what you may think, being respected doesn’t mean you won’t receive criticism. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The more well-known you are in your work, the more censure you’ll receive.

During my first job at a grocery store, my boss became increasingly critical of my work. I was the only one he would personally follow behind to review the tables I rotated and filled. It got to the point that I felt like he was nit-picking me for no reason. Instead of getting angry, I asked him about it and learned that he was holding me to a higher standard than the others. I had potential and he wanted me to be ready for management.

It’s not about rejecting criticism, but rather, being able to handle it gracefully. People respect those who are able to handle constructive feedback and turn it into something positive.

Respect Your Work
No matter what line of work, the most highly regarded people are those who are the best at what they do. Everyone loves competent people, especially those who present their best work all the time. If you’re new to the job market, learning your role and excelling put you on the fast track for respect. It’s about starting small and building from there.

By gaining experience and improving your skills you’ll establish yourself as the best and earn the admiration from others. It’s not instantaneous, but the respect people have of you will grow over time.

Being respectful isn’t just about other people. It starts within and works its way out to other people. When you respect yourself and what you do, it’s contagious and others will give that respect back to you. How about you? What are some ways you’ve earned respect in the workplace?

Hey! Stop Complaining About Former Employees!

complaining about ex employeeStarting a new job may take some time to get accustomed to. A common concern new employees can face is being compared to a previous hot-shot employee, but sometimes you can be compared to the opposite. You could find that you have trouble shaking others’ frustrations of a former employee who wasn’t favored or left on bad terms.

If you have siblings, you probably know all too well what it’s like to be compared to somebody else. The feeling can be even worse when it happens in the workplace. Here are some ways to handle a boss or co-worker complaining about the former, less than desired employee.

Let it Roll
If you’ve just started, let some of the comments roll off your back. You may have only had a few days to a few months to work at your company and you haven’t had much of a chance to make the job your own. It’s important to be patient and let your work do the talking before you make a big deal out of it.

You are trying to figure out your work environment as much as your work environment is trying to figure you out. Your new co-workers don’t have much to base a working relationship off of yet, so it’s easy for them to fall back on the familiar. Give it some time and strive to build strong working relationships with those around you.

Share Concerns Respectfully
If the months go by and you still hear constant complaints and stories about the former employee, it’s apparent that there could be a problem. Maybe it’s a signal that your manager has some significant holes in his or her interpersonal skills, or maybe it’s a clue that your co-workers are projecting burnout of their job onto the former employee. Either way, it might be the time to have a conversation with your manager.

Schedule some time with your leader or co-worker and address the issue, share how the comments make you feel like the ex-employee is still in the room. Stay calm and avoid getting emotional. Use specific quotes others have said and refrain from using inflammatory phrases like “You always…” or “You’re not being fair…”

Ask for Feedback
One of the best ways to separate yourself from the previous employee and add positive conversation among your peers is to ask for some direct feedback. Regularly asking for feedback takes the focus off the annoying ex-employee and puts a positive light onto you. Not only will it keep things positive toward you, but it will also make you become a better employee by getting feedback on what you’re doing right and what you need to do to improve. If you keep improving, it won’t be long before you make the job your own.

It’s easy to complain, especially when a former employee is gone. You may find yourself in that trap of everyone talking about the person you replaced and not on what you can contribute to the organization. That’s why you need to make a name for yourself by doing a good job first, then address the issue if it persists. What have you done to keep others from talking about former bad employees?

2 Time Management Tricks to Master and 2 to Lose

Do you think there will ever be a moment when you have enough time? With workweeks getting longer and schedules getting more full every day, learning to manage your time is an envied art form.

Two to Master

  1. Your schedule.
    If you’re managing your time, you’re managing your schedule. And if you don’t manage your schedule, someone will come in and manage it for you. Whether you use a printed calendar, a project list, an Outlook Calendar, an iCal, or a calendar app, you’ve got to have a schedule to reference. The phrase “Let me check my calendar” is an attempt at trying to control your time, however if your “calendar” doesn’t have what you’ve got going on in your life, it can’t work as a filter for your schedule. A good calendar, in whatever form you choose, allows you to see when you have time for extra work, provides others with updates on when they can expect things from you, and creates freedom in your schedule.
  2. Your email.
    Finding a way to organize and respond to your email will empower you to save time and help manage your schedule. A recent study found that employees spend about 2.6 hours a day sending, receiving, or sorting email. Microsoft offers the four D’s in handling email:
    a. Delete It – Get rid of junk mail.
    b. Do It – Tasks that can be completed in less than two minutes.
    c. Delegate – If it takes longer than two minutes and it’s appropriate for you to delegate it, then do that.
    d. Defer It – This is something you need to handle but it will take longer than two minutes.

Two to Lose

  1. Trying to get it all done.
    If you’re going to master your time, you’re going to have to learn the appropriate way to say no at work. If you have a comprehensive calendar or project list, you are able to say no, and also say when you will have the time to take care of a request. If you can’t clearly show why you have to defer a task, it can create confusion and frustration by your co-workers and managers. We’re all given the same amount of time in a day, and if you’re using that time wisely and efficiently, you’ll earn the respect that allows you to be able to say no.
  2. Touching paper once.
    You may think it’s crazy to go against the common advice to only “touch paper once,” but sometimes you need to defer things until later to keep moving forward with your goals and schedule. There is a good time to clean your workspace, but sometimes in the effort of productivity it may get a little messy. You want to make sure your workspace is safe, sometimes a mess can create a hazard, but if creating a stack of papers to file later or notes to respond to later works for you – then go with it.

What time management rules do you live by, and which ones do you break?


Sharing Your Knowledge When No One Wants to Hear it

New employee sharing knowledge to a hostile crowdOne of the best ways you can grow as a leader and in your career is to share the knowledge you’ve gained with those around you, helping them grow as well. When starting a new job, though, it may not be that easy. Some co-workers, managers, and the work environment may not be open to the new person throwing around suggestions and nuggets of wisdom that could disrupt the status quo.

When your ideas go unnoticed and may seem unappreciated, it’s often very frustrating to feel like you have so much to offer that could help your organization grow or run more efficiently. While some companies are very open and encouraging of new, fresh ideas, some are more structured and require credibility before your voice is truly heard. The best way to get to that point is to gain influence.
Build Influence
By sharing knowledge from insights, academic learning, and past experience, you can help change opinion, but keep in mind that it’s not going to happen overnight. Building influence is like building a house, it takes time and continuous work. Start by not talking negatively without providing a solution to the problem. Honestly sympathize with others without joining their complaining and encourage listening to other points of view to fully understand their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. If you’re interested in learning more about influence, check out Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Here are some simple ways you can build your influence while sharing your knowledge.

Make it Their Idea
People are much more likely to agree to do something if they think it’s their idea. You can warm them up by leading them with questions that will prompt a “yes” answer. This will encourage a problem-solving attitude instead of a defensive one, which makes them more open to your idea.

In the case of making someone believe your idea was their own, provide a lead by sending an article that discusses the idea you had, and then ask the manager or co-worker what they think. Most of the time, offering advice can come off as competitive or abrasive. Casually asking others their opinions can help soften your statements.

Make it a Challenge
On the opposite end, some workplace cultures rely on competitiveness and sometimes you should use that to your advantage. Appeal to co-workers or supervisors by giving them a challenge. Having a fun competition between colleagues will give both of you a common goal and can give you the opportunity to bring your ideas to the surface.

Make Some Drama
Sometimes your idea has to have a certain “oomf” or zing to really get noticed and catch the attention of others. Look for ways to dramatize the idea to create excitement around adopting it. When you want to make a point, tell a story. It will stick long after the facts have been forgotten. That’s because a story or dramatization involves the listener or observer. Stories add their own experience and imagination to the story. It is a mutual activity that builds a bond between the story teller and the audience. Enticing someone to adopt your idea creates a far stronger commitment than compelling them.

Generating influence and creating a culture of sharing knowledge sometimes isn’t easy. There isn’t a three-step program that will get instant results, but if you follow these guidelines, give it some work, and have patience, you can earn your co-workers’ or manager’s willingness to learn from you. What are some ways you’ve shared what you know at work?

Avoid Heave-Ho No-Nos with Proper Lifting

proper lifting techniquesWe often joke about how much we hate to pick up the house, tidy your desk, or clean the garage. We hear the phrase, “See a penny, pick it up. All the day you’ll have good luck,” spoken all the time while growing up. But for many in the workplace, lifting objects bigger than a penny is no laughing matter when it comes to potential injuries from improper lifting. Disabling back injuries can not only keep you from earning a paycheck, but it can also keep you from enjoying your personal activities and time with family.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one in every five workplace injuries or illnesses.

Most of the pain and lost time can be prevented if you are aware of how to lift safely to protect your back. Here are some ways you can keep your body free from injury with a few simple posture reminders.

The most important thing to do before lifting anything is thinking about what you’re going to lift. Are there places to grasp? Does it have any slippery surfaces? Is the path you need to take clear? If you are unsure of what you’re about to lift, look it over for any potential hazards.

You shouldn’t just go by looks. Many objects that appear small and light, could be heavier than they look. If possible, gently test an item’s weight by pushing it with the side of your leg. If it’s heavier than what you think you can lift, get a co-worker to help. When lifting, tuck your chin to your chest. This will help keep your back as vertical as possible.

Keep your arms and shoulders as close to your body as possible. The farther your joints are away from your body, the more stress is put on them, which leads to an increased chance of arm injuries. If the load’s center of gravity moves away from your body, there is a dramatic increase in stress to the lumbar region of the back. You should try to minimize any turning or twisting, but if you must turn while carrying the load, turn using your feet.

Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes
You need a solid base of support when lifting anything. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart and take short steps. If your feet are too close, you’ll be unstable. If they’re too far apart, you won’t move very well.

Your leg muscles are much, much stronger than your back muscles, so let your strengths work in your favor by lowering yourself with your knees instead of your back. Once you have a grip, lift with your legs and keep your back straight. When lifting objects, try not to twist with your body by taking small steps to face a direction. Keep your eyes up, too. Looking upwards will help keep your spine in a safe position.

Check with your manager as many companies have policies in place requiring maintenance staff to move heavy objects. Lifting and carrying heavy objects at work can leave you vulnerable to serious back injuries, which can keep you from earning a paycheck for months. If you keep in mind these helpful guidelines about proper lifting, you won’t be dropping the ball on your health when picking something up.