Today’s workforce is more casual than generations in the past. Many companies allow employees to wear jeans and tennis shoes to work. And, we’re being more open about our personal lives.
There are many advantages to this. Openness can help to move us closer from diversity to inclusion. It’s about being able to bring your entire self to work.
The digital marketer in me has made friends with colleagues on social media in the past. In the world of digital marketing, social media is part of your toolkit. It’s another way you get your job done. But, this is a rare phenomenon that doesn’t apply to many jobs. So, this takes us back at the original question. Should you follow your boss on Instagram? Should you comment on your employees tweets? And, should you connect on LinkedIn?
I may be old fashioned, but this is my take. Social media is for your family and loved ones. If a colleague is close enough, then perhaps they should be considered. But, beyond that, work should be separate.
There are many things in life that are best kept separate from work, whether it’s politics, finances, or love. Your social media life is one of those things. On top of the party photos that may appear on your Facebook wall, you may share your opinions on the current political climate. You very likely are sharing things with your close friends that are different points of views than your colleagues share.
The last thing you want is for your weekend activities to have an impact on your work. In your mind, it may make no difference. But, you never know when someone may treat you differently based on what they see in your social media. And, they’re not going to tell you.
Keeping things separated can also help to increase your perceived level of professionalism. I’m often asked to speak on topics around executive presence. Executive presence is very much related to how people perceive you at work. And, it will impact whether or not you’re promoted or thought of for more advanced work.
So, as tempting as it is to want to be friends on social media with your colleagues, think twice. There are many pitfalls to this that you may not see now. And, you may want to take it a step further. You may want to make a universal policy that you don’t friend anyone on social media who you currently work with. That way, no one person will get their feelings hurt when they realize that you’ve friended someone else, but not them.
The one exception to all of this is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an excellent way to maintain and grow your professional network.
In this month of love, we spend some of our time reflecting on those who are special in our lives. It’s also a great time to reflect on our job, and whether or not we love doing it. Think about how you feel on Sunday evening. Are you neutral about work on Monday, or do you dread it? Are you able to relax on Sunday evening or are you filled with anxiety and dread?
Your relationship with work isn’t all that different than your relationship with a significant other. If you aren’t excited to be there, or even worse, if you hate it, it may be time to break up.
The good news is, in today’s career environment, people are switching jobs all the time. If you think you may be ready to move on, take the time to plan out your next move.
What is it that you dislike about your current job? Is it the people? Is it the hours? Perhaps the commute is just too long.
What would you like to see in your new role? What industry would you prefer to work in? What role do you want? What’s your target salary? What type of work environment would make you happiest? What commute would you like to have?
Begin to outline what you want in a new role. Think about what would make you happy. As you go through this process, try not to create a list that is only things that are the opposite of what you hate today. For example, if your current company has people with a certain personality, you may want to avoid people with that personality. However, think deeper; think about what types of people you would like to work with.
As you create a new role for yourself, you want to try to move toward something more positive. This is different than moving away from something negative. If you get stuck in the cycle of running away from something, you may quickly find yourself in a new situation that you also dislike.
While you’re doing your research, be sure to check out Glassdoor.com. Current employees leave reviews of their company to let you know whether or not they love their jobs. This can also be very enlightening. Just like travel reviews, you shouldn’t take every review at face value. But, if you read enough reviews, you may begin to see a pattern – positive or negative.
As in a relationship, don’t wait until things completely break to move on. Pay attention to the signs and plan your exit. Don’t wait until you find yourself in crippling emotional pain that can make working impossible. You deserve a fresh start. You deserve to be happy, or at the very least, not miserable. If you start looking, you will find that a new company will value you and your skillset – and you just might love your job again.
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately. It’s not new, but it certainly seems to be increasing. When you are a customer and something goes wrong at a company, the company doesn’t resolve the issue until you get angry.
Can you relate to this experience? You have a problem with a product or service you received. There isn’t an easy way to get it addressed. So, perhaps you visit the company website. They try to funnel you to a frequently asked questions page. When that doesn’t work, you try live chat. You quickly learn that the live chat person on the other side isn’t a person at all. It’s an automated bot. So, you begin to ask for a real person. When you finally get a real person, they often don’t have the power to truly help you. They likely also haven’t been trained to have all the answers either. If you get very angry, eventually, someone knowledgeable will be assigned to help you. Companies often have a special team to handle angry customers. Then, suddenly, your issue will be resolved! In the meantime, you’ll be left with a headache and some level of exhaustion from all the work it took to get there. Depending on the company, this process could take minutes, hours, or even days.
I observe a similar phenomenon in today’s workplace. Often, it’s the loudest, most aggressive people who are able to push their agendas through. You may have even found yourself escalating issues at times when you would prefer not to, in order to get things done. And, you’ve probably had that headache and exhaustion.
It’s quite an unfortunate state of affairs when our currency is our anger. Whether you’re a customer or you’re at work, it should not be necessary to escalate to such a level to get resolution. People should be willing to follow through on their commitments. And, they should be honest and straightforward when they cannot.
As you go through your day, I hope you might take this idea into consideration. It may not help as much when you’re working to push an agenda through. But, I hope that when you are the gatekeeper, you may not require the other person to use anger as their currency. Try to be more flexible. Do what’s right, and what you would want if you were on the other side of the conversation.
They say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Don’t require everyone to be a squeaky wheel. Help out when you know it’s the right thing to do. We should not be required to spend our days generating anger and frustration simply to achieve simple tasks. Life is too short to spend so much time in these negative emotions.
Let’s find our way to another kind of currency: honesty, commitment, and respect. Treat others with these things, and reward those who treat you with them.
Job searching can truly be gut wrenching. It’s probably like having children. After the pain of the birth is over, it can be largely forgotten. The job search is the same way, especially if you haven’t looked in a while. But, when you’re in it, it’s like you can taste it.
Every time you have an interview that doesn’t turn into something, it hurts. Even if it’s a job you didn’t really want, it can be painful. Not only do you wonder what’s wrong, your friends and family may vocalize the same concerns – to your face. It makes you wonder if you picked the right career, if you should go back to school, or if you should give up completely.
I often hear from job seekers who feel like they’ve failed. The common story is this. They found a job that was perfect for them. They applied. They were interviewed a few times. Then, nothing came of it. The company ghosted them, or told them they found a more qualified candidate.
Rightfully so, the job seeker can feel crushed. They feel like the loss of this job is a reflection on their abilities. But, the problem is this. We don’t really know why they were rejected. Even when the company provides feedback, it can be hard to know if that feedback is the real reason the person was rejected.
For example, perhaps the job was put on hold. Or, maybe an internal candidate at the company had been promised the job before the interview even took place. Or, the hiring manager may have recruited someone from their old company. Very rarely will you know the real story.
But, what we do know is – job seeking is a numbers game. Most job searching happens online now. And, there’s a saying that it’s harder to find a job online than to get into an Ivy League college (from a numbers perspective). I think we can all agree. Getting into an Ivy League college is hard!
So, let’s also agree that getting a job is hard work. And frankly, it’s a numbers game. Rather than be upset when you don’t get one job, think of it differently. You may need to apply for one hundred jobs to land one. Those one hundred applications may turn into ten interviews. Those ten interviews may turn into one job offer.
Every time you get a no, you’re a little closer to a yes. And, so many times when you aren’t picked, perhaps it’s better. Maybe that team wasn’t right for you. Maybe there was something dysfunctional happening at the company.
As job seekers, it’s time that we reset our expectations. Instead of feeling that every job loss is a failure, look at it as practice. It’s practice interviewing, and practice getting you ready for the right job. But, in order to find that right job, you’ve got to keep pushing ahead.
Today, there are many ways to communicate. There’s old fashioned in person talking. There’s talking on a landline at home or work, and talking on a cell phone. Then, there’s email and cell phone texting. If you keep going, you’ll find things like messaging on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so many more.
Chances are good that you assume that other people prefer to communicate the way you do. For example, if you’re comfortable with texting on your cell phone for business, you may do it without consideration as to whether the person on the other end is okay with it too.
But, we’re in the middle of an interesting time communication wise. In one workplace, you have many different generations working together. There are those who didn’t use computers until they were well into their professional careers. There are those in Generation X that grew up without computers, and then with them later in school. And, then you have those who don’t remember a time without computers or cell phones.
Every generation may have different communication preferences. Even within a generation, the preferences vary. One person may feel completely comfortable texting any time of day or night about work. Another may feel completely comfortable to call. While a third may think nothing about sending an email with many people carbon copied on it.
The problem is, when we don’t openly discuss our preferences, we may annoy those we work with. It’s not to say that disclosing our own preference will mean everyone will accommodate our wishes. But, if we don’t talk about the differences, we won’t know where the pitfalls are. After all, there’s no one right way to communicate.
I prefer not to text about work. I’d rather have an in person conversation, a phone call, or an email. Email feels easiest for me. Although there are times when a live conversation is more effective.
Whatever you do, don’t assume. You may even want to talk to your team at work about what the communication guidelines will be in your group. What does each person prefer? Is it okay to text or email at night or on the weekends? When is it appropriate and when should things wait? Are there times when a meeting is more effective, or is the efficiency of email the way to go?
The same thought process should be applied to job interviews. If you’re the company, be aware that job seekers may not love it that you text them or call with no notice. You’re right that they’ve never complained. It’s because they’re hoping to get a job from you, and they want to be easy to work with. If you’re the candidate, rely on more traditional communication methods such as phone and email. Don’t assume the company is okay with a text. And, only call if the recruiter or hiring manager has given you their contact information.
When you’re job searching, you’ll hear a number of terms to describe people who will help you to look for work. One is recruiter. One is headhunter. Others are placement agency or placement firm. You may even hear someone described as an internal recruiter versus an external recruiter. Are you confused yet?
An internal recruiter is one that works for the company you’re apply to work for. They may source (find) candidates for the hiring manager (the future boss). Very often, they do the first official company screening call. They’re also the ones that help to shepherd you through the interview process. At the end of the search, they’re also often the person you’ll be negotiating a job offer with.
But, there are times when the company wants to (or needs to) enlist a little extra help with their search for great candidates. When this happens, they’ll hire external recruiters. External recruiters are sometimes called headhunters. You’ll find that external recruiters either work for a recruiting firm or staffing agency – or they may be independent.
A few well known staffing agencies are Robert Half and Korn Ferry. There are many more national agencies, and local agencies that you can pick from.
There are a few times when recruiters seem to be the most helpful: in senior level executive searches, for contract work, and for technology jobs.
If you choose to work with an external recruiter, there are a few things you need to know. First, they should be free for you to use. The company pays the recruiter for their services. This is great news, but remember – the recruiter works for the company. They may seem nice, but every call with them is an interview.
Another thing is, most recruiters will force you to disclose either your salary history or your future salary requirements. If you’re looking for a contract role, this is an hourly number. Be prepared with how you want to answer the question.
Recruiters say they’ll help you negotiate. The more you get paid, the more they get paid. This is true, but – there’s more. Think of how a realtor works to sell a house. If the house sells for $10,000 more or less, the realtor’s commission is only marginally impacted. The same thing applies to recruiters. Their number one goal is to form a match between a company and a job seeker. The exact amount of money is less important.
Headhunters can be a valuable resource to your job search. But, don’t make them your only resource. Keep looking on your own. And, keep checking in with the recruiters if you don’t hear back. If you don’t stay in touch, they’ll assume you found a job.
January is finally here. The start of this New Year seems to be hitting many people hard. It’s the beginning of a new decade. Even the year, 2020, gives us some pressure to find our way and see the future more clearly.
Over the holidays, you may have taken a little time to line up your New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you want to get in shape, lose weight, or learn a new hobby. Or, maybe you want to spend more time with loved ones.
For many people, their resolution is to embark on an entirely new career path. Maybe you’re ready to get into management. Or, on the flip side, you could be ready to become an individual contributor again.
Write a list of your career resolutions. Think of what you’d like to accomplish. Would you like to land a new job? Make more money? Take a class? Finish a degree? Manage others? Do more public speaking, or learn a new software program? Write it down. Write everything down.
Once you have a goal list, begin to estimate how much time each goal might take you to accomplish. Then, begin to plot out your goals by months of the year. To make real progress, you can’t assume you’ll finish everything by March. Space things out, and be realistic with your expectations.
What I hope you’ll see is that goals and resolutions aren’t just for January. They’re something to work on all year. In fact, you may want to revisit them each month or each quarter to see how you’re doing so far. That’s how we plan goals at work, yet for ourselves, we often forget to put in this level of planning.
When I’m setting goals, I often prioritize them. Since it’s often not possible to complete everything, it’s good to think through which goals are the most important. And, if you have tasks that tie back to a larger goal, make note of it. It will help you as you’re plotting your future year.
And, there are some years when things are on a pretty good track. They’re going at a good pace, and you want to keep moving in the direction you established the year before. Those years are great. If you find yourself in this position, enjoy it. Soak up the progress you’ve made and the stability you’ve created.
But, for the rest of us, it’s time to get started. After all, the job market is still looking pretty strong. This is the perfect time to begin to reestablish what you want for yourself going forward. Think of it like a gift to yourself. If you could do anything with your life, what would it be? If you had a clean slate, what would you wish for?
In summary, write your resolutions down. Map them out on your 2020 calendar. The more work you put in now, the more goals you’ll meet.
This is the perfect time to work on your 2020 plan. As you prioritize your New Year’s resolutions, consider a career cleanup along with your plans to go to the gym more often. If you’ve been thinking of a career change, whether it’s an internal promotion or moving to a new company or field altogether, this is the perfect time.
Start by evaluating your personal priorities. Are you looking for a financial boost? Or, are you searching for an improved work-life balance? Do you want to find a way to apply your current skills to a new type of job?
Whatever your ultimate goal, start by taking a look at your own personal brand. Consider the content and photos that you’re posting online to sites like Facebook. Ensure that your social media accounts have strict privacy settings, so you’re able to control the image your future employer has of you. Sign up for LinkedIn or update your existing profile. Ensure your work history is up to date and that you are connected to those in your life who might help you with your search. If you feel comfortable, ask a colleague for a written endorsement on the site.
Clean up your day-to-day practices at your current job too. Ensure that you’re on time and meeting your existing commitments. Present your appearance in a neat and orderly fashion. Even when you do find a new job, you will want to maintain a positive relationship with your former employer. Additionally, your current work practices reflect on you as you begin your search.
Next, dust of your resume and update your cover letter. Ensure that your resume is accurate and reflects all of the work you’ve been doing. And, remember to keep it to one or two pages in length. No hiring manager wants to sift through pages and pages of a candidate’s work.
Once you’re comfortable that your personal brand is ready for prime time, start looking for jobs online. Sites like Indeed.com aggregate jobs from many other sites, so you’ll save time in your search. Use your personal priorities to guide you and select a few types of jobs and organizations you’re the most interested in.
Finally, start the process of networking. Look for industry or interest specific events to attend. Events are a great opportunity to talk about yourself and your goals. Practice talking about yourself and what you’re looking for. You should work to narrow this pitch down to about thirty seconds or less.
Bring your business cards, and be prepared to give them out. For each event, consider setting a goal to exchange business cards with three to five people. Setting a goal makes it easier to do and in no time, you’ll find yourself with an expanded network.
The New Year is an exciting time that’s full of possibilities. If you set your mind to it, 2020 could be your most exciting year yet.
The title of this column may sound funny. After all, you’re looking for a new job, not a steak and baked potato. On the surface, you’re right, but there are lessons you can carry over from your dinner tonight to your job interview tomorrow morning.
Like a dinner party, you never know who you might be introduced to when you’re searching for a job. When you go for an interview, it’s important to be friendly to each person you meet – whether they’re the intern or the CEO.
At dinner, there are also three topics universally considered impolite to discuss: religion, politics and money. Religion is obvious, since you often don’t know which religion someone may be, or if they practice any religion at all. Politics make sense too.
During the job hiring process, many people will review your resume and your cover letter. Some you may never meet and others you will spend hours with during the hiring process. During the interview, it will be difficult to distinguish someone’s religious affiliations or political beliefs. Making an assumption about someone else’s beliefs may easily lead you down the wrong path.
Although you may feel very strongly about your views, it’s important to consider one thing. Is it more important that everyone you meet during your interview process knows your personal views, or is it more important that you get a job?
The purpose of an interview is for your future employer to make judgments about you. They want to decide whether or not you would make a good fit for a particular role. In the same way that you wouldn’t want to distract them or turn them off by wearing jeans, you should also avoid the pitfall of sharing your personal views.
The best policy is to brand yourself with your educational and work-related achievements. Focus on these in your resume, cover letter and in-person discussions. Downplay things like religion and politics that will distract from these points.
Talking about money during dinner can create tension. In an interview, discussing money is not recommended because you may harm your chances of receiving the highest possible salary. The saying goes that in negotiations, whoever speaks of money first is the loser. Keep this in mind, and allow the interviewer to show their cards before you do.
After a dinner party, you tell the host thank you. You should also take the time to thank the company that interviewed you. They hosted you. They have put schedules on hold, setup meetings, and sometimes have even flown you in. At a minimum, send a thank you note via email to each person you meet.
The only exceptions are when you are applying for a religious or political organization with whom your personal views align. In that case, you may be more open. But remember, not everyone at the organization may share the organization’s views, so be sensitive in how you share.
This friend doesn’t use video at work, but he and two other IT guys are creating a YouTube channel. This is the second project for the team, who also recently started a podcast, to learn about podcasting.
This occurrence isn’t an uncommon one in the technology world. Techies are creating new social work groups on Meetup.com every day. They gather together and learn how to use software like WordPress, Python, Java, Oracle and PHP. They bounce ideas off of one another about how to start a podcast, how to build video games or how to make mobile apps.
They organize breakfasts, lunches and weekend-long coding sessions called hackathons. They host events for younger generations to teach them about programming.
The thing that’s interesting is, technology professionals do all of these activities in their free time. Their companies don’t sponsor these events. They aren’t compensated for participating.
But, the time they devote helps to keep their skill set up to date. Technology is a field that’s constantly evolving. In IT, if you want to keep up, you must keep learning. It creates job security.
In addition to beefing up their resume, this time builds their network. If there’s a job opening, you can bet someone will look inside these groups for candidates.
Lastly, it allows these professionals to cross-pollinate ideas with those outside their company’s four walls. They aren’t confined to the traditional thoughts on how to do things and can compare notes with others.
Although your industry may not change as often as technology, there are a number of great lessons to be learned from this group. First, don’t wait for your company to keep your skills up to date. It’s your responsibility. Be sure not to neglect your continuing education.
This may mean you may have to use some personal time, or even some of your own money. Think of it as an investment in yourself and your future value.
Once you’ve decided to give this strategy a try, you may wonder where to begin. Meetup.com is a natural place to look for special interest groups. You may also check the colleges in your area for continuing education courses. They often offer abbreviated courses at reasonable prices. Professional organizations can also be a great place to look.
Don’t have time to get out? Or can’t find anyone near you to network with? Search online. Many universities such as Harvard and MIT are placing some of their course materials online – for free. And, there are many other online resources such as LinkedIn and website forums where you can network with others in your field.
At the end of the day, in the world of work, learning is the new loyalty.