Monthly Archives: August 2013

Poll: How Do You Think Millennial employees Want to be Managed?

Job Seeking and Career Advice PollA Google search on “Millennials in the workplace” returns more than 2.4 million results, reinforcing the impact this generation is having in the business world. Millennials have proven their ability to contribute in the workplace and mingle with the other generations, but it’s still a hot topic of conversation.

Born between 1980 and the late-1990s, the 80 million members of the Millennial generation are a force to be reckoned with, outnumbering even the Baby Boomers. But when it comes to their desired management style, we want to hear what you think. Vote in our poll to tell us how you think Millennials want to be managed.

Supreme Court Redefines Workplace Discrimination

USSupremeCourt_August2013_webTwo recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court have set a new precedent for future allegations of employment discrimination. According to USA Today, in a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled “that workplace discrimination can only be pinned on a supervisor who has the ability to hire and fire, rather than merely direct work assignments.” The New York Times expanded on this by highlighting the Court’s new definition of a supervisor as “someone authorized to take ‘tangible employment actions’ like hiring, firing, promoting, demoting, or reassigning employees to significantly different responsibilities.”

In another 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court sided with employers again when it came to illegal retaliation. As NPR explained, “the court said that those claiming to be the victims of illegal retaliation must show that the only reason for the action against them was that they reported some discriminatory action.”

These rulings mean from now on discrimination charges against co-workers or other employees will be looked at much more closely and compared against the Court’s new guidelines. And that has major implications for future lawsuits based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

How This Could Affect You
As an employee, this ruling could impact you in several ways. If you believe you have suffered from workplace harassment or retaliation, it will now be more difficult to file suit for discrimination. It’s harder to file charges against your employer if the person harassing you is not a supervisor who fits the  Court’s definition, even if that employee has truly been verbally or physically harassing you. And, even if you are able to move forward with a lawsuit, the required burden of proof will be much heavier, making it more difficult to win the case.

In regards to retaliation, if you do file, you must show that the retaliation was the determinative factor for the negative action.

The particular cases on which the Court ruled involved a lawsuit between Ball State University and a kitchen worker, and a suit between the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and a doctor. These were not easy cases for the justices. It took seven months of consideration before they reached their decisions, and even now, some are calling for the decisions to be over-turned.

Being A Pro At Being A Professional: 3 Reasons Why Professional Organizations Are Important

professional organizations_Aug2013_webSo you landed the big job. You’re officially a “professional.” So, what now? It isn’t time to put your feet up and bask in your accomplishment! Your career development doesn’t just happen overnight, and promotions and raises are earned, not gifted. But, how do you develop yourself? How do you make yourself a valuable commodity not an expendable? Hit the ground running in your career by joining a professional organization. According to the Center for Association Leadership, there are more than 1.9 million organizations currently in the U.S. which means there are plenty to choose from.

Finding the organization that is right for you and your field is important. You may have to do a little research or it may be as simple as asking your coworkers or colleagues what they are a part of. Once you find the organization that covers your field, you may have to pay for a membership, but many employers are willing to pay these dues for you. If they don’t, it’s okay. Just look at the money you spend on dues as an investment – maybe one of the most important investments you will ever make. Now that you’re in and have become part of something larger than yourself, I bet your next question is, “what is this going to get me?” Below are three ways professional organizations can help you grow your career.

Network, Network, Network
Networking can give numerous opportunities to further your career. Rubbing elbows with your peers opens up a forum for idea exchange. This open line of communication can drum up new business, new friendships, great concepts, and maybe even future career opportunities.

Conventional Conventions
Many organizations have one or more conventions every year. At these conventions, there are breakout sessions, keynote speakers, and round tables where you can learn and collaborate with your peers in your industry.  These opportunities allow you to grow as a professional as well as stay on the cutting edge of your field, while establishing dialogue with individuals in your field.

Developing the Leader in You
Organizations generally have boards or committees that are in charge of club operations. Becoming a member of the board is often as easy as asking current leaders about opportunities to join the board or committee in charge. Becoming a part of the leadership in an organization can develop important attributes found in great leaders that can help advance your career. Not to mention, your peers will have a front row seat to the display of your leadership skills. The amount of involvement is completely up to you. Since it’s typically a volunteer position with a “term system” similar to our own government, you decide how involved you get. If you’re interested in taking on a more time intensive positions make sure you discuss this interest with your manager, as the more involved you are, the more time intensive the position can be.

These are just a few benefits to being a member of an organization geared toward your industry. If you have another way that your experience in a professional organization has helped you, please share in the comments section below.

Are You Missing a Step in Your Job Search?

MissingPiece_Refrences_August2013_webSo, you’re looking for a new job.

  • Did you update your resume?
  • Outline an easily customized cover letter?
  • Find the perfect interview power suit?
  • Make a list of jobs to apply for?
  • Compile a list of quality references?

If your answer to that last question is no, then you’re missing a step in the hunt for your next job. Most employers will ask for references, and, while it’s debatable how many actually check the list, to not have a list is a serious no-no. But creating a list of references is really fairly simple, especially if you follow these five steps.

  1. Decide who to ask.
    There are three types of references: professional, academic, and personal. Employers are most interested in the first, which can include former managers, co-workers, and vendors. Just keep in mind – the higher the ranking, the better. Only include academic references if you’ve been out of school for less than 4 years and personal references if you’ve played a significant role in volunteer projects or you are new to the working world. If you’re having trouble thinking of people, check out this top ten list.
  2. Determine the best way to communicate.
    Each person on your list and the relationship you have with that individual is unique, which means your method of communication may not be the same for everyone. Asking in-person or over the phone are more personal, but an email can be just as effective. Think about it from the perspective of the person you’re asking – what would they prefer?
  3. Craft your message.
    The basic question really is simple – can I list you as a reference? But it’s also a good idea to preface your question with a brief explanation of why you’re on the job hunt and what types of positions you’re seeking.
  4. Help them prepare.
    Make your references’ lives a little easier and send them your resume. Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve worked together, they may need a refresher on your work experience and abilities. Plus, they will be better prepared to answer any questions the hiring manager might have.
  5. Follow up.
    Your references are doing you a favor, so it’s considerate and professional to send them thank-you notes expressing your appreciation. It’s also a good idea to stay in touch and keep them informed of possible employers that could be contacting them. And, once you land a job, let them know about your new position and say thank you one more time.

You’ve invested a lot in your job search, so it’s well-worth the little bit of additional effort it takes to compile a reference list. What’s been your experience in asking for references? Have you ever had a reference that was the deciding factor in whether you were hired or not? Let us know in the comments section below.

Eyestrain: 3 Ways to Save Your Sight

Blurred vision, excessive headaches, itchy red eyes; these are just a few common symptoms of eyestrain. Formally referred to as asthenopia by ophthalmologists, it is a condition that we commonly encounter when concentrating on a visually intense task.

One of the most common causes of asthenopia is our daily exposure to technology. According to a recent survey conducted in 2012 by The Vision Council, U.S. adults spend four to six hours a day in front of the warm glow of electronic devices, and 70% of those surveyed reported some degree of eyestrain associated with this level of exposure. But, with technology being our connection to the world and an integral part of many careers how do we save ourselves from technology becoming a real pain in the eyes? Here are three simple methods to reduce the stresses on what many consider our most valuable faculty.

  1. Give It A Break
    Excessive use of monitors or televisions can cause the muscles in the eye to tighten, which can result in irritation or worse, blurred vision. By looking away or performing a task that requires activities that are less visually strenuous, you allow the muscles to relax. An easy way to achieve this is a method called the 20-20-20 break. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  2. Don’t Go Towards The Light
    If at all possible, lower the level of your ambient lighting. By reducing the amount of surrounding light, your eyes won’t continually try to regulate the amount of light entering the eye. If you are like many, you may bake under a fluorescent sun. If you can’t adjust the light in your surrounding environment, lowering the brightness on your screen can reduce glare and the strain of reading.
  3. The Spectacle Of Spectacles
    Consulting an eye care specialist and having regular eye exams may relieve internal factors that may be causing eye stress. You may potentially need a pair of prescription glasses that are specially made to optimally view objects at intermediate distances. If you have acute vision, computer eyewear may help. With special tints and coatings, these lenses soften glare caused by direct and indirect light.

Unless there is an event that knocks us back into the Stone Age, our world will continue to advance into the future of technology and the potential of it being unnecessary is very unlikely. And since vision is imperative for much of your daily life, do yourself a favor and take care of your eyes by reducing the stress that you expose them to. If you have techniques that you use to provide some visual relief let us know in the comments section below.

The Three Best Hard Skills to Have

HardSkills_August2013_webWhile soft skills, including dependability, motivation, and communication, were cited recently in a report from Express Employment Professionals as the most important skills employees possess, hard skills still play a vital role in today’s job market. In fact, one could argue that even if your soft skills are perfect, at the end of the day, there are certain critical hard skills needed to succeed. Because Express hires and employs more than 376,000 people per year, we have great insight into what is important in landing the job. Let’s take a look at the top hard skills ranked by Express franchises as important to employers.

  1. Experience
    Work experience ranked highest on the list of hard skills. Education is great, but there’s still the need to prove that you can do the job. And if you have trouble getting a job in your career field, find a job within the industry, even if it isn’t your ideal role. Being able to list a related industry on your resume can show correlated work experience. Check out this recent post on unemployment versus underemployment supported the value of getting work experience to your overall career.
  2. Technical ability
    To best showcase your technical abilities on your resume or LinkedIn profile, use specific versions of software you have experience with or qualifying descriptions. Be specific about your ability, not just that you have skill, but how fast or at what level you can do the job. Understand the numbers in your job and be able to market yourself with specific results.
  3. Training
    Whether it’s conflict resolution, goal-setting training, or a continuing education event, keep a record of the training you’ve received and what you’ve learned from it. Be able to explain what you’ve taken away and how you’ve applied it. Additionally, have a plan of your own on how you’re going to stay informed on changes and advancements in your industry to stay on top of your game.

    What hard skills have been your biggest asset in your job search? Share with us in the comments section below.

What Do Employers Look For: Experience Or A Degree?

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center of college graduates, 86% believe that their education was a valuable investment. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that college graduates had an income $19,000 greater than those with just high school educations. But in today’s job market, does a college degree carry more weight than skills or work experience?
There are many successful people who don’t have college degrees, most notably Bill Gates. As the CEO of Microsoft, he led the company in many record breaking years, including grossing more than $70 billion dollars in 2011. So don’t be discouraged, a degree doesn’t guarantee a top salary at any company.
Binghamton University in New York, recently released a report about transferable skills. Simply put, these are the skills that you have accumulated and improved upon that apply to numerous jobs and tasks. They could include efficiency in communication, teamwork, and organization, all of which can be gained through work experience. But how do you get your foot in the door without a degree?
Convincing an employer to hire you can be tricky regardless of your level of education. But, focusing on the transferrable skills in your resume can help your chances.  To get ahead of the competition you have to focus on your strengths. If you don’t have a degree, list the skills you’ve gained from your previous employers that are applicable to the job you are looking for. Be specific about your skill level and give quantifying examples.
A college degree may seem to make finding a job easier, but there are ways to find a career without a college degree and there are great jobs that can be earned with hard work and diligence, whether it’s through scholarly pursuits or just good ole’ fashioned dedication. Are there skills that you have found that made you more valuable to your current or previous employer, let us know what you think in our poll.