Labor Day was designed to both honor and recognize the American labor movement. It’s a nod to the works and contributions of workers in the United States. But, let’s face it. This Labor Day, can you confidently say that you love your work?
If the pandemic has given us nothing else, it’s provided perspective. In particular, it’s been a huge reminder of what’s most important. I’ve said that more than once lately. But, the theme of pursuing happiness persists.
I recently made a new friend. This person is smart and accomplished. He has a long career made up jobs that would impress anyone. We’re the same age. But, there is one thing that’s very different between us. This friend is dying of terminal cancer. He hasn’t known about it for long, and he wasn’t given much time.
We spend most of our lives waiting for a future point in time. We’re waiting until our work gets better. We’re waiting for another time to travel. We’re waiting to take risks. We’re waiting for a promotion. We’re unhappily trudging through life, waiting for a future. The pandemic has made that trudging a little harder and a little heavier.
And, unfortunately, that future we’re patiently waiting for is not guaranteed.
Although the story of my friend is sad, it’s also inspirational. He is using his time to pursue the things he loves. He’s traveling, surfing, and spending time with friends. He’s living without fear, and he’s no longer doing the things he hates. There’s no more time for an unhappy job, or an unhappy life. He is pursuing his happiness.
If you don’t love your work, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing. Companies are being more flexible than ever. Many jobs are remote. And, some companies are adding in new perks to help their employees with work-life balance. If you’ve ever wanted to work for a company that’s not located near your home (but you don’t want to move), this is the time. If you’ve ever wanted to move (but haven’t been able to because of your job), this is also the time.
Steve Jobs famously said, “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
This is a simple, yet important concept. We’re all going through a period that feels out of control, and like there are fewer choices available to us than we would like. We may feel stuck. But don’t lose hope. In the same way that the pandemic has closed doors, it has opened new ones. Look for those new doors, and redesign your life so that you can pursue your own happiness.
Working from home has been a benefit that has developed over the last year and a half. It has allowed us to see that we can work outside of the normal work building and still be productive. This situation has encouraged companies to rethink forcing employees to come back in person. In order to be more competitive at recruiting job applicants, many companies are hiring employees from all over the country. But, they aren’t forcing them to relocate. The new employees can work from wherever they are today.
This higher level of flexibility is creating a new normal. It’s a normal that allows employees to have a better work life balance. It allows them to be near family if they choose. It is creating an entirely new lifestyle for many people. There’s less time spent commuting and more time for family and life. Many people have taken up hobbies and have started to work out.
Unfortunately, this trend only goes so far. As we have observed, there are many people who cannot work from home. This is the case for people who work in grocery stores, restaurants, and any other essential service industry. And sadly, it is often these workers who are paid the least.
This year, another important topic is also on our minds: equality. Discussions around important topics such as race, gender, and social class are more part of our everyday dialogues than they have been for many years. We are talking about systemic issues, and what we can do to change them.
As I think about work from home, I wonder if it may present challenges along with the benefits. Will lower paid workers have the same opportunities to work from home? Is a healthy work life balance going to be even more of a luxury than it is today? Will services like childcare become more exclusive and expensive?
One upside to working from home is that white collar workers will have the ability to redistribute and live in lower cost cities around the country. This shift may create more jobs in the markets where they move. If the population of a city increases, that city will be able to support more restaurants, for example.
Will we look back and be glad that work from home became so common, and brought families together? Or, will we wonder if it created a wider gap between people?
There is no clear answer to these questions. But, the more options we have on social media, and the more media choices we have, the more divided we have become over the years. We’re able to tune into our little corner of the world.
Whatever the future holds for remote work, we should take the time to consider it through the lens of equality. How can we create a better work life balance for everyone, rather than just those fortunate enough to be able to have more choices?
As a job applicant, there are many social rules that are necessary to follow. These help to increase your chances of being taken seriously as a candidate. On the flip side, there are also rules the company should follow when they interview candidates. These give the company the best chances of attracting the best candidates.
Let’s start with the rules job seekers must follow. The list is long because so much riding on first impressions.
Your communication must be quick, concise and clear. You should dress appropriately. You should be on time to the job interview. If you don’t keep your commitment to the time of the interview, chances are high that you will be immediately dropped from the consideration set. If you’ve been given homework during the interview process, you should return it promptly. And, after the interview, you should follow up with thank you notes or emails quickly.
Any misstep in these social rules and the company will drop you in favor of another candidate.
The problem is, companies often forget that this is a dance. It involves two parties. But, in a job market like the one today, job seekers have more choices. They can also walk away when the company doesn’t follow social rules.
For companies, the social rules are fewer, but they are equally important. The company should follow up with candidates promptly to schedule interviews and to provide feedback during the process.
The hiring manager should be on time to interviews. They should arrive prepared, having read the candidate’s resume. They should be attentive and respectful. The company should avoid making the interview process too long or too time consuming. They should work not to ask questions that are too personal (and illegal). The company should be honest.
But most of all, they should be respectful of a candidate’s time. When a candidate chooses to interview with a company, they’re putting a lot on the line. It takes time to prepare for an interview. The candidate must take off work, or find a quiet time to take an interview during work hours.
The thing that seems quite shocking is just what a one-way street the interview process often is. Companies treat candidates as if their own behavior doesn’t influence the candidate. The interviewer will often show up late. They’ll ask to reschedule at the last moment. When the interview does happen, they’re often unprepared. They will ask questions that are illegal, forcing the candidate to play along in order to be considered. They keep the candidate in the dark for months about the status of the job interview. And, in the end, if they extend an offer, they expect the candidate to be excited to work for them.
In a bad job market, this may work because people are desperate. In today’s market, companies need to spend as much time being respectful to candidates as candidates spend being respectful to them.
Just when we thought we were out of the woods, the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving. Every day, the news is talking about variants. We’re crossing our fingers, hoping that a full shutdown doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, businesses are trying to figure out how to get back to normal. And, employees are weighing their thoughts on it all.
Glassdoor.com recently released the results of another survey. Glassdoor focused on employee attitudes around going back to the office in the midst of a pandemic. They found that 96 percent of employees plan to return to the office in some capacity, and 66 percent of those surveyed are eager to go. 27 percent of employees said they felt less connected to their coworkers and 26 percent felt less connected to their company’s culture.
Employees also felt working from home might impact their future career path. 30 percent of those surveyed worried that working from home long term could impact their ability to get a promotion.
All of this said, 89 percent of employees surveyed have concerns about returning to the office. In particular, 35 percent of people said they are concerned about contracting COVID-19 if they go back in person. 70 percent of employees surveyed feel that employees should be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to work. And, 23 percent said they would consider quitting if they were required to return to the office before all employees were vaccinated.
17 percent also said they would consider quitting their job if they were required to go back to the office five days a week, regardless of COVID or the vaccine.
It’s hard to believe we’re still having to think about the pandemic, and this new world of work. By now, we would have assumed things would have been back to normal. When you think about the results shared, it would be interesting to talk to these employees in more detail. It’s unfortunate that 27 percent of people felt less connected to coworkers. But, how did the other 73 percent feel? It would also be interesting to know how many people felt disconnected from their company when we were still at work in person.
One thing we’ve learned is that not all work is really work. Work can be talk around the watercooler. It’s lunches together. It’s relationship building. The question I keep wondering is this. Will work evolve along with work from home? Will we find ways to connect around a virtual watercooler? We’ve been doing this for almost a year and a half.
It’s interesting that 17 percent of people said they would consider quitting if they have to go back in person – regardless of COVID. This shows a shift in work culture. At first, it sounds irresponsible, but employees have this opinion because remote work is now offered by more companies.
How do the Glassdoor findings compare to your opinions of returning to the workplace?
Getting an interview can be exciting, especially if it goes well. If you’ve wanted to leave your company for some time, the hope that a new job presents can leave you feeling on top of the world. And, the more interviews with one company, the surer you are you’ll get the job, right?
Some of the reasons I’ve heard for sharing this secret include, “I know this person is my friend, so it’s okay.” “My boss and I are close friends; they won’t mind.” “My company needs to know I’m looking, so they’ll be prepared if I do leave.” “I want to see if my company will give me a higher salary to stay.”
None of these reasons provide you any personal benefit. They give away your power and put your current job at risk.
When it comes to interviewing, nothing is a sure bet. Even if a company has talked to you ten times and is in love with you, the position may be put on hold for budget reasons. The hiring manager may leave, and the process may halt. The company could reorganize and the job may no longer be needed.
Until your offer is in writing and in your hands, there’s no offer. It could take you as long as a year or more to find a job. In the meantime, you still have bills to pay and a family to feed. Why put that in jeopardy?
Often, a boss you perceived to be your friend feels an obligation to let their boss know you have disclosed this information to them. Even if they like you, your search may be perceived as being disloyal to the company. In the worst-case scenario, you may be fired and asked to leave immediately.
Keep this in mind when it comes to asking for more money. If you don’t have a written job offer, what incentive does your company have to give you a raise? They don’t. There’s no good reason they should offer you any more money just because you’ve been interviewing.
If you tell colleagues about your search, don’t be surprised if the news gets around. People love to find something, or someone, to talk about. If you share information about your search, you’re setting yourself up to become next. The last thing you want is for word to get back to your boss before you’ve actually found a job.
As exciting as it is to share information about your job search, it’s 100 percent unwise to do so. You set yourself up for failure and disappointment on multiple levels that can be difficult to repair. When it comes to job searching, there’s no better alternative than to keep yours secret.
We’ve all seen the news. There’s a shortage of workers. It’s hard to say exactly how we got here. There are so many factors involved. But, you can see the results of this shortage everywhere you look.
You may have noticed when a recruiter called you out of the blue. Recruiters are proactively calling candidates (who aren’t looking for jobs) more now than they have in years. You can also see it when you go out for dinner. So many restaurants are short staffed, and are actively trying to hire. This pain is being felt across industries. Some companies are raising their own minimum wage, or are offering new benefits.
If you’re thinking of looking for a new job, you may want to take advantage of the new working environment. If you’ve enjoyed working from home, you might want that to continue. Or, you might want a more flexible schedule. You may also want to negotiate for more pay, given that it’s been a while since you changed jobs (and you may have the upper hand in the offer negotiation).
When you start looking for a new job, there are a few things you may want to keep an eye out for. The problem is, not every company has come to terms with the current job search environment. If you find yourself talking with one of these unrealistic companies, the road ahead is going to be longer and more difficult.
So, what should you look for? Well, first, look to see how many roles the company is currently trying to hire for overall. If they are only hiring for a handful of positions, there’s a greater chance they haven’t had to feel the pain of the shortage just yet. Similarly, if the job you’re applying to posted for the very first time a few days ago, the company may not realize that it’s harder to find candidates now than before.
You can also find signs in the job description itself. Companies who are aware of the current market will typically list the job as remote or work from home. Or, the company may make mentions in the job description of a flexible work environment.
Some companies that are clued in will include more information in the job description to sell you on their benefits. This is a turnaround from the past, when many companies rarely included anything about what they do.
Last, pay attention to how many hard skills the company is looking for in one person. Years ago, a company called me looking for a very specific candidate. They wanted someone with selling skills, programming skills, project management skills, and marketing skills. A company with a long list of different requirements has likely not come to the realization yet that there’s a shortage.
This is the perfect time to look for a new job. But, do your research to find a company that will work with you.
In the last few weeks, countless news stories have popped up about the Great Resignation. Millions of American workers are quitting their jobs. You’ve probably heard about it (and maybe even considered it). So, what does it mean for your career?
If you’ve thought of quitting your job recently, I don’t blame you. If the COVID pandemic has given us anything, it’s given us time to think. We’ve spent more time at home and alone in the last year than any years past. All of that quiet time has allowed us to reflect on important topics. It’s given us the space to consider what is really important in our lives, and what isn’t so important after all.
It has also given us a chance to try out a new lifestyle when it comes to work. Suddenly, many people aren’t doing a daily commute each way. Perhaps they’re spending more time with immediate family. Many people have learned that working from home really is possible. It’s given us a new perspective on the concept of work life balance.
If you’ve found yourself unhappy with your current work situation, the good news is this. It’s a great time to look for something new. Companies are being more flexible than ever before. And, you likely now have options beyond your local area. This means that there may be more job options available to you than before the pandemic started.
That said, you should take this to heart. Don’t assume that the way things are today is the way they’ll be tomorrow. For example, the apartment rental market one year ago was amazing. If you wanted to rent a new apartment, you could find a deal on a great place. People were leaving cities in droves. However, in the last few months, the entire situation has changed. People are moving back into cities. And, finding an apartment has become much harder and much more expensive.
What I’m saying is this. Things change. The market is great for job seekers today – right now. But, in a few months, that may no longer be the case. If you aren’t happy at your current job, now is the time to look.
But also, don’t take your current job for granted. Keep putting in the same effort today that you put in every other day. Don’t assume a new job is waiting around the next corner. Looking for a new job takes time. You may need this job. And, even if you find a new job, you’ll eventually need references from your current job.
Do your best and doors will open. Nurture your existing job, and you’ll be able to wait until a job you really like comes along. The last thing you want is to run from one bad situation to another – or to find yourself stuck in a negative environment. In other words, don’t resign today. Keep steady until you find something new.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday week. I’m looking forward to spending time with friends, and watching fireworks to celebrate this Independence Day. This holiday is also a great time to reflect on your career.
Are you feeling happy, or is something missing? If you’ve been thinking of making a change, this could be the perfect time. For many people, the pandemic has forced them to reevaluate what they want.
But, finding a job can take months. If you want to make a change, it’s important to get started before the winter holidays begin to approach.
Often, one of the sources of job frustration can be a lack of control. Whether you’re not doing the kind of work you enjoy, don’t like your boss, or are underpaid, you may feel helpless. It’s this helpless feeling that can really impact you each day as you go in. It can make your day seem longer, and tasks seem harder.
Finding career independence starts with identifying what is within your radius of control. What can you do today that will help you to gain more freedom tomorrow?
First, keep your resume up to date at all times. You’ll be prepared, and you won’t forget important details later. On top of that, keep your LinkedIn current and connect to your colleagues. You never know when things could change.
If you’re not using your favorite skills at work, look for ways to keep your expertise up to date. Consider taking on small consulting projects, or volunteer at a non-profit. You may even want to take a class or two to keep any certifications current.
If you’d like to acquire a new skill, the same advice applies. Enroll in a class. There are many online options. If you don’t have an opportunity to try your new skill at work, look for a way to volunteer your time – either on a non-profit project or at a part-time internship.
Nurture your network. Take the time to attend networking events. Chat with coworkers from previous jobs. Stay connected.
Reevaluate your priorities. Often, a source of unhappiness can be tied to a shifting of what’s important to you. Early in your career, you may have been willing to work for hours on end just to make the most money possible. As you’ve grown older, financial stability may be less important. You may now be looking for work-life balance, but are still saddled with a sixty-hour per week job.
As you can see, much of the independence we crave is tied back to a self-awareness of what’s important to us. And, unlike Independence Day fireworks, career freedom rarely happens all at once. It doesn’t go off with a bang of beautiful lights. Independence at work takes time. It takes commitment. It takes a little dedication each day. But if you’re committed, over time you will find that independence, and the happiness that comes along with it.
Indeed.com hosted Indeed Interactive last week. But, there was one very notable difference: it was held online. The conference not only talked about employment over the last year, but it mirrored many of our experiences.
By video, Indeed’s labor economists Pawel Adrjan and Daniel Culbertson gave their predictions for the future of work. They focused on work from home, sharing that, over the last year many people have gone through a work from home experiment.
Job postings on Indeed.com with some mention of working from home has continued to grow, even beyond the worst parts of the pandemic. In fact, there was a rise in postings that mention remote work between Q4 of 2020, and Q1 of 2021. From early 2020 to now, job postings mentioning work from home have more than tripled.
On the employee side, job seeker interest in remote work remains high. Indeed is able to measure the interest in remote work by the searches on their site. From early 2020 to now, job seeker searches for remote work have more than doubled.
What happens after the COVID pandemic is over? Indeed looked in areas where cases of COVID have been low, and economies have reopened. They found that interest in remote work remained high, even after an economic recovery. They believe this represents a shift in long term preferences. Job seekers will continue to demand remote work, even after the completion of the pandemic.
But, do employers intend for work from home to be permanent or temporary? Indeed found that in the UK, 61 percent of remote job postings were listed as temporarily remote. Companies expect employees to eventually come in person. This also means that 39 percent of jobs posted as remote will be permanently remote. This is an increase from pre-pandemic. In other words, we have realized that remote work is sustainable long term.
Gayle King also interviewed actor Matthew McConaughey about his career. He shared the challenge of pivoting careers, and going all in when you’re trying something new.
McConaughey also shared that your “life is your resume.” There is no one defining moment. You are all of the pieces of your combined experience. And, he felt the pandemic has brought him closer to the things in life that are most important to him.
McConaughey is now able participate in video meetings in three countries in the morning, and then have lunch with his wife and children at his home in Texas. Remote work has created a new culture. It is no longer rude to have a video call. It’s a necessity. And, this necessity has allowed him to prioritize the things that are truly the most important to him.
The takeaway for hiring managers is this. In order to remain competitive, you must consider flexible work environments. Remote work will be more prevalent and will remain attractive to job seekers. This flexibly is what you’re now competing against.
Sometimes, the devil really is in the details. This is especially true when it comes to the questions you ask when you’re looking for a job. Asking the wrong question, or not asking the right question can get you into trouble when you least expect it. And, it can be tricky to know when to ask questions.
There are a few good rules of thumb to follow. The first applies to networking. When you’re meeting someone new, they want to get to know you first. They (in theory) have no specific ulterior motive, and they hope you don’t either. When you first meet someone, avoid asking if they’re hiring. Chances are good that they’re not hiring, and if you ask this up front, you may send the message that you’re not interested to get to know them unless they can give you something. But, do ask them if you can stay in touch. Ask to connect on LinkedIn. Ask to have coffee (virtual or in person). Relationship building may eventually lead you down the path of a new job.
Another situation to be on the lookout for is when you find a job posted. You’ve found the perfect job at the perfect company. And, you’ve either found a great connection there – or you already have one. When you’re reaching out about a specific job, be up front about it. A hiring manager will want to know that you‘d like to be considered, so be sure to ask. Ask them if they have time to meet with you to discuss the position. Don’t hint around and hope they’ll get the drift. Be direct.
The most important place for questions is the job interview. It’s truly amazing how much your questions can influence the outcome of an interview. First, have questions – lots of them. Having a long list of questions doesn’t mean you have to ask all of them, but it does mean you’ll have options to go to when it’s your turn to ask questions. One of the primary complaints I’ve heard from hiring managers is that the candidate didn’t ask questions. The hiring manager assumes the candidate isn’t interested in the position (or worse, is lazy), while the candidate simply feels all their questions were answered during the job interview. Avoid this situation by asking a few questions at the end. But, keep your questions focused on the job. Do not ask questions that reflect an “all about me” attitude. Topics to stay away from include pay, vacation time, or anything else that isn’t specific to the work itself. And, always ask about the company’s timeline and what their expected next steps are.
As important as qualifications are, so are first impressions. The questions you ask will influence a hiring manager’s decision. Fortunately, there’s time to plan. If you draft your questions in advance and ask a friend for feedback, you’ll be on your way to success.