Monthly Archives: December 2012

What are Your Job Market Predictions for 2013? Take our Poll!

2013 is herJob Seeking and Career Advice Polle! We’ve avoided a Mayan apocalypse, celebrated the holidays, and started off a new year of possibilities. While many economic experts are predicting a slow but steady growth in the job market, some aren’t sharing the same optimism. New York-based private research group, The Conference Board, released an index indicating employment growth over the next several months will slow down.

What do you think? Do you agree with The Conference Board or do you have bigger, better plans for your career? Let us know in the following poll. If you have your own prediction, share it with everyone in the comments section below.


Lies we Tell Our Boss

Lies we Tell Our BossSometimes we can’t help it. While we may not be the office Pinocchio, spouting lies while our noses get increasingly bigger. There may be times in our career we are tempted to  stretch and bend the truth in little ways just enough to stay out of the hot seat with our boss.

This kind of dishonesty doesn’t come from bad, self-serving, or malicious motivations. It often stems from the desire to please others, even if it’s at our own expense. In the long run, these little lies, while made with good intentions, can not only interfere with your best interest, but also you co-workers’ and managements’ interest as well.

Sometimes lying can be so easy, we may not even realize we’re doing it until it’s too late. Here are some basic lies we tell our bosses and solutions in how we could better handle the situation.

No Questions Here
Remember that rush of excitement after receiving that first big solo assignment? There is also that sinking feeling when the instructions or guidance didn’t make any sense. The boss asked if there were any questions, but nobody wants to be that person who doesn’t understand what’s going on, so no questions were asked.

The problem is that if we have questions, we will need the answers in order to do the job right. If you are worried about sounding unintelligent, preface the questions with, “I just want to be certain I completely understand everything.” It’s better to clarify and do a great job than to appear competent and not meet expectations.

I’m on it
Sometimes it can be a normal workday with a full work load, then the boss walks in to ask one more favor or task to take care of that day. Instead of being honest with how much work that request adds to your work load, a whole hearted, “I’d be happy to” is heard with a giant grin.

The manager expects those who make promises to keep their word. If a new assignment interferes with other job duties, ask the supervisor which tasks have the highest priorities so the most important tasks are completed first. The boss may have just forgotten how much work is on each employee’s plate and can find someone with a lighter load.

Everything is Going According to Plan
For a while, this may be true. Project timelines and scheduled events may be perfectly on task, but life will always get in the way of even the most perfect of plans. It happens to the hardest of workers, but nobody wants to appear behind schedule. That’s why most workers who fall behind on their duties will wipe their forehead and say, “Everything is fine!” when the boss asks how the project is coming along.

Juggling multiple projects might not seem like a big deal as long as everything is finished by the deadline, but lying about the status leaves no room to act should something go wrong before then. There might be a moment when input from the boss is needed before proceeding with a project, but the lie could have kept any questions from being asked since the manager was told that the specific part had already been completed. It’s just better to be honest with a sincere, “I’m working on it.”

Little white lies may seem innocent and are often told with the best of intentions, but they can come back in the long run and disrupt the workplace before anyone realizes it. Honesty is always the best policies and managers are more forgiving when mistakes come from sincerity. What are some of the other big lies told to bosses that come back to wreak havoc on the workplace?

Do You Have a Plan for Your Career?

Looking to The Future of Your CareerGetting a job is only the first step; you need to set career goals and continually improve in your craft if you want more meaningful responsibilities, higher salaries, or that big promotion.

According to the University of Kansas, people who have clear ideas about what they hope to accomplish have improved chances of achieving them.

Forming a career plan is important. Check out our video to get helpful insight on what steps to take to help you achieve your career goals, and to find out what happens when you throw out preparation and just wing it.

Making the Most of the First Two Hours in the Day

First Two Hours at WorkMaybe you’re a morning person, so being happy and productive earlier in the day comes naturally to you. Or maybe you are a night owl who has been lucky enough to find a job that fits more easily with your body’s internal clock. No matter what time your day begins, check out these tips to start the day happy and productive?

Do Something You Enjoy
Even if you can’t control when your day starts, you can do things to make it better. Having something to look forward too can make getting out of bed much easier. For example, maybe there is a talk show you enjoy that can play on your radio or TV. Or maybe you need to change up your breakfast routine, enticing yourself with an omelet or yogurt parfait. If you can, allow 20 minutes for a hobby like reading or exercising, it could be just the enjoyment you need to start your day with a smile. Consider a reward system. For example, reward yourself with a specialty coffee or a $5 contribution toward a “Fun Night Out” fund if you’re on time for four days in a row.

Do Something You Need to Get Done
Maybe you don’t want to get started with your day because you’re dreading a task. Try to turn this feeling around into an accomplishment by knocking out a task that has been hanging over your head. Maybe it’s getting caught up on bills or doing some much needed cleaning. You might want to take care of a conversation you’ve been meaning to have, or just simply need to schedule an appointment. Whatever it is, pick something small and dreaded on your to-do list and get it done. Once you do, you’ll feel like you’ve already had a great day and the rest of your day is icing on the cake.

Just Do Something
Not having a plan can be exhausting. If you don’t know where to start or don’t have a handle on your to-do list, it can all be overwhelming enough to put off starting your day. However, having a to-do list can let your day get started with less thought. When possible spend some time the day before preparing for the next day, giving yourself a clear plan to follow. When your day gets started you can simply dive into your list and before you know it, you’ve had some accomplishments from the start. Who can’t feel good about that?

How do you make sure your day starts right? Share your go-to ideas to making the most of your morning, whenever that is, in the comments section below.

Being a Hobbit in a Middle Earth Sized Job Market

The Hobbit Job SearchAs you’ve probably heard a million times, the fantasy epic, “The Hobbit” was released in theaters this weekend. It’s kind of a big deal right now. In its opening weekend, the movie broke box office records for December with more than $84 million in ticket sales. If you’ve been secluded in your hobbit hole and are unfamiliar with the tale or the classic book the movie is based on, here’s a brief overview:

Young mild-mannered Bilbo Baggins enjoys living a quiet life in his secluded village until he’s recruited by the wizard Gandalf to join him with a group of dwarfs on a wild adventure to get back their stolen gold from an evil dragon.

Little Bilbo is just trying to make sense of this huge world he’s been thrust into. Doesn’t that feel like you when searching for a job? You – being a lone job seeker in a giant world of organizations, committees, hiring managers, and competition you have no control over – can feel a lot like Bilbo setting out on his first adventure. But, you don’t have to feel that way. You can be the hero of your own job search if you take some simple cues from “The Hobbit.”

Seek to be Unique
At first, taking Bilbo on a dangerous adventure seemed like a bad choice. He had no traveling, combat, or leadership experience with no apparent skills that he could provide the group. The dwarfs were properly equipped and trained for almost anything and had been working together for many years. However, the wizard Gandalf saw something in Bilbo that the dwarfs didn’t. The hobbit was small, swift, and stealthy – the exact opposite of the loud, fully-armored dwarfs. This talent helps Bilbo save the dwarfs from certain doom on many occasions throughout the story.

As a job seeker, you may not be the most experienced or have the most connections, but you do have a talent or skill that is better than the others. Focus on what you do best and find the employers who are looking for those skills. Being a jack of all trades but a master of none isn’t as impressive as a master of one talent that is in demand.

Mentor Locator
You can’t do everything on your own. Bilbo never would have started if he didn’t get guidance and counsel from the wizard Gandalf. The wizard recruited and promoted Bilbo to the skeptic dwarfs and gave him the encouragement needed to finish the adventure.

That is why mentors are valuable resources who can help you focus your job search, open doors of opportunity, and even help develop your career after you find work. Start sharpening your networking skills like you would an Elven sword and build relationships that will lead to mentorship.

Outgrown the Comfort Zone
What separated Bilbo from the other Hobbits was his desire for adventure. He never would have left his shire if he didn’t get the nudge from Gandalf. So, the first step in your journey to employment should be to step out of your comfort zone. Take small steps that may not immediately land you your next job, but can help you develop skills and connections that will. Start with activities like volunteering, interning, or applying at a staffing agency.

Your job search may not be as dangerous as a trek across Middle Earth to fight a dragon, but sometimes finding a job may feel just as scary. A little Hobbit named Bilbo took a chance and had an adventure of a lifetime. Will you take the same chances in your job search?

Join the Fight Against Frostbite

Protect Yourself from FrostbiteWith winter in full swing and the days of blistering heat behind us, you may think that harsh weather conditions at work are gone until next year. The fact is, extreme cold can be just as dangerous as extreme heat.

When working in freezing conditions, you are at risk of developing frostbite – localized damage to your skin when it freezes. While frostbite initially isn’t permanent, it can lead to permanent nerve damage, amputation, and even gangrene if left unattended. Here are ways you can avoid getting frostbite this winter season.

Signs and Symptoms
When working long hours in the cold, if you start to feel itching followed by pain, immediately get out of the cold and check the affected skin. If the itchy, painful area is white or grayish-yellow, feels unusually firm or waxy, or is numb, seek medical attention immediately. Those symptoms are the first stage of frostbite called frostnip. While not permanently damaging, it can lead to more severe complications if left unattended.

If immediate medical assistance is unavailable, get to a warm room as soon as possible, immerse the affected area in warm, but not hot, water, or warm the skin using your own body heat until you can get treatment. It’s best to avoid using major heat sources like heating pads, and fireplaces since the frostbitten skin is generally numb and can easily be burned.

You Got a Friend in Me
Often an individual is unaware that he is affected by frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb. It’s best to have a partner so you can monitor each other for signs of cold stress. Most of the time, it’s difficult to determine danger signs when you only rely on yourself.

In and Out
Just because you work in a freezing environment doesn’t mean you have to stay there the entire time. Take periodic brakes during your shift and spend them in a warm room or near heat sources. Even if schedules are tight, taking 15 minutes off your feet in a heated break room could save you from losing your feet forever.

Layer After Layer
When it comes to staying warm, less is definitely not more. When you wear several layers of thin clothing, you are actually staying warmer than if you wear one or two thick layers of clothes. The first layers touching your skin should be made from synthetic fabrics, like polypropylene, that absorb sweat. Outer layers should have fabrics that are waterproof and wind resistant.

It’s also important to wear proper equipment like warm gloves, boots, and a hat. If you become too warm, open a layer or two of your clothing, but not your gloves or hat. Also, make sure your gloves and boots are loose enough that they don’t cut off your blood circulation, which could speed up the frostbite.

Warm Eats and Warm Drinks
While coffee and hot coco are delicious and warm, the high caffeine concentration dehydrates you faster when cold conditions already put you at risk of dehydration. Instead, try sweeter beverages like sports drinks or orange juice. The natural carbs will give you a steady stream of energy and keep you hydrated longer. You can also bump up your carb intake by eating hot pasta dishes, soups, and other calorie-dense foods, which will keep your body fueled while its burning extra calories trying to stay warm.

Frostbite isn’t deadly, but can lead to amputation where you are unable to work if unattended. Stay warm this winter season with these helpful guidelines and avoid the silent but hazardous condition of frostbite.

Go With the Flow: How to Feng Shui Your Workplace

how to feng shui your workplace officeWork can be crazy at times. Your duties can stack and you can feel like your workplace is in sheer chaos. One of the best ways to avoid a hectic schedule and a piling work load is to increase your productivity.  The more you get done, the less you have to stress about. But how do you increase productivity?

Time management is important, but it takes time and effort to develop. However, there are easy ways you can help boost your productivity by practicing the age-old philosophy of Feng Shui. It’s a way of thinking about your environment and the way it is designed that many people say can have a positive effect on aspects of your life, including your workflow.

Whether or not you believe in the ancient way of Feng Shui or not, the basic concept having functional and organized space leading to success is a common belief. Here are some ways you can arrange your surroundings so you can improve workflow.

You Light up My Life
Fluorescent lights are widely used in offices and can light up an entire room, but they can put a strain on your eyes. Natural lighting is best, so pull up the curtains on your windows if possible. However, half windows are better than full-length windows for areas where work desks are located. Full-length windows can bring in too much light, making it difficult to concentrate.

If you work in an area without windows, you can improve the lights in your work area. Consider replacing them with full-spectrum lights or table lamps, which simulate natural daylight. This lighting will improve your productivity by making your eyes less tired and stressed out.

Clear the Clutter
There are several benefits to cleaning your workspace, including an increased workflow because you don’t have to work around your cluttered workspace.  Hide cords, organize your papers, and make sure there is a place for everything. A cluttered workspace will drain your energy while a spotless place welcomes a clean mind ready to take on any task.

Organize your workspace so everything has a place to be stored and can be put away when not being used. Remove knick-knacks and other items that could distract you from the task at hand. Having too many things placed on work surfaces can impede the flow of your thinking.

You’re the Best Around, Nothing’s Gonna Ever Keep You Down
While you should avoid having too many interactive knick-knacks around your workspace that can distract you, it’s still important to have constant reminders of your accomplishments spread throughout the area. Have your certifications, honors, thank you cards, degrees, diplomas, or any other recognitions clearly visible while you are on the job. This gives you a stronger drive and motivation to keep working and improving when you’re surrounded by positive memories of accomplishment.

You may not be into the energy and chi flow that much of Feng Shui is about, but there is one flow you can’t ignore – your workflow. Just by changing a few things in your work area, you can steadily increase your productivity and attitude while at work. How have you changed your workspace that was beneficial? Let us know in the comments section below.