The holidays are here again. Along with the turkey, the stuffing, and the loved ones, there’s more to consider. This season is a time of giving thanks. In every job I have ever had, I have felt most thankful for those I work with each day. It’s not the work that makes things special. It’s not the perks that come with the job. It’s the people. And, it is those we work together with who allow our success to grow collectively.
So often at work, we forget to thank one another. Because a task is expected of someone, we assume it should be done with no complaints, and with no thanks. Each task is simply a box to be checked.
In reality, colleagues can choose whether or not to help us. And, they can choose how much to help us. Whether or not it’s said, each person is putting some piece of themselves into their work each day. They are doing their best in spite of challenges. They’re working hard even when things are tough at home, or when they don’t feel their best.
So often, the only thing they need in return are a few words of thanks. Thanking someone is easy. It’s free. And, it’s an investment in your work relationship.
How can you give thanks at work? There are many ways, and no one option is the correct one. You will likely want to use a combination of methods. First, thank someone in person. When you see them in the hall or when you meet one on one, give them a verbal thank you. Be specific. If they’ve done something to help you, mention it. Tell them you appreciate their help.
Another great option is to thank or praise someone in front of a group. This often makes the most sense during a work meeting on a project that the person has helped you with. As you present an update, you may make a brief mention of the person or team who helped to make the work possible. This allows people to feel like they’re receiving credit for their work. It helps them to understand that you truly value their work.
You can also thank someone via email, either individually or as part of a group message. This can be another nice way to recognize their work. And, if you want to do something extra special, you might consider a hand written note. Or, you may want to get your colleague a small gift. Or, you may want to consider taking them to lunch.
Giving thanks can come in many forms. But, we can all agree that it’s important to acknowledge others. Work is hard enough. Why not take a little time to acknowledge one another? It is good for everyone, and it can even be good for the company’s bottom line. Employees who feel appreciated are more dedicated and are harder workers than others.
Hiring can be tough. At times, it is similar to online dating. The hiring manager is often flooded with applicants. There are more potential employees (and in the case of dating, more singles) than anyone could ever truly sort through. So, what’s a hiring manager to do?
Unfortunately, most hiring managers use an elimination method. They try to look at what may be “wrong” with the candidates. Very often, there may not truly be anything wrong with the candidates. Often, they may be different than other candidates in some way. For example, a job may not require a master’s degree. But, if you are the only candidate who doesn’t have one, you may be eliminated from the consideration set.
Similarly, a company may be looking for someone with similar experience to their existing employees, or to the previous employee in the role. If you don’t have experience from the same industry, you may be eliminated from consideration.
Companies also look for employees who have similar work situations today. For example, a company may be hesitant to hire someone who is currently self-employed. Or a small company may be hesitant to hire someone from a large company, and vice versa. Similar rules apply when it comes to things like visa sponsorships, or any other notable difference. Any sort of difference can create a hurdle to get over.
Unfortunately, the same is true for perceived differences. Recruiters and hiring managers often read through twenty or more resumes in one sitting. They make quick judgements in order to efficiently work through the line of candidates. This can at times results in incorrect assumptions about your background. These incorrect assumptions can remove you from consideration.
There a few takeaways from this. First, if a recruiter shares why you weren’t selected, maintain a sense of perspective. First, they are likely sharing a quick judgement. Second, they are comparing you to a specific group of candidates. If you were the one candidate without a specific qualification this time, you may find this qualification is not even considered at the next job you apply to. Candidate pools are ever changing, and recruiter feedback is worth what you pay for it.
As a job seeker, you can help to combat these incorrect judgements by providing a cover letter with your application – and by customizing your resume. Use your cover letter to tell your story. Explain why you believe you stand out from the other candidates. Then, mirror the language and qualifications from the job description in your resume. This won’t solve every problem, but it can help in your search.
The job search process can be long and painful. Try to keep pushing forward. Just like dating, it only takes one great hiring manager for things to fall into place. Realize that you are not alone. Every candidate except for one received a reason that they are not a good fit, or are not qualified.
There’s exciting news in the September jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In September, the job market in the U.S. far exceeded anyone’s predictions. A total of 336,000 jobs were added. This is in comparison to economists’ predictions of 170,000 jobs. The unemployment rate also remained steady at 3.8 percent. This is great news for many job seekers, who are continuing to look for new employment opportunities.
These job gains were the most pronounced among the fields of leisure and hospitality and government. Leisure and hospitality added 96,000 jobs in September. This far outpaced the average of 61,000 jobs seen each month over the past 12 months. Food services jobs rose by 61,000 jobs. This has helped to return the industry to the pre-pandemic levels observed in February of 2020. Accommodation employment is also continuing to grow. However, it remains at 10.3 percent less than what was observed pre-pandemic.
During September, government employment grew by 73,000. This is significantly higher than the trend of 47,000 observed over the prior 12 month period. These jobs were primarily added in state government education, and in local government.
Other industries saw positive growth as well. Although the healthcare industry added fewer jobs than previously seen, 41,000 jobs were added in September. Professional, scientific, and technical services jobs increased by 29,000. This is a consistent with the trend observed over the past 12 months.
Employment in the motion picture and sound recording industries trended down, and has declined by 45,000 jobs since May. This is a reflection of the labor disputes within this industry. It should be noted that this may be an underestimation, as many of the writers in the Writers Guild of America are contract workers, and are not included in the 45,000.
Other major industries did not see a positive or negative change in September. Mining, quarrying, oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail, and other services industries remained stable.
The average hourly wage has remained fairly consistent. It rose by 0.2 percent in September, and 4.2 percent over the past 12 months. The average hourly wage for all employees was $33.88.
If you’re looking for a new job, what does this growth mean for you? In certain industries, this may be a great time to look for a job. And, overall, the economy seems to be more resilient than even economists expected. Unfortunately, there may be negative consequences in other parts of the economy. But, overall, this is still great news for job seekers.
If you’re looking to land a new gig before the end of the year, do not wait. It typically takes two months or more to receive a job offer. There are times when it takes this long just to go through one interview process. The increase in jobs does not mean that landing a new job will be quick or easy. Don’t delay. Begin by cleaning up your resume today.
It is not uncommon for a CEO and other top executives to proudly announce that the employees at their company are family. “We’re just like a family here,” they’ll say. While this warm sentiment can feel good, the reality could not be less true. In fact, when a company is insistent that work is family, it’s a red flag that you may want to run the other direction.
One of the big differences between family and everyone else in your life is boundaries. No family is perfect. We can all think of an alcoholic uncle or a manipulative cousin we are related to. These are people we would likely not be friends with. But, in a family, they’re hard to escape. They are part of a larger family system that we want to hold on to.
Family also never stops. If your brother’s car has a flat tire, he may call you at midnight on a Tuesday or in the middle of the day on a Sunday. You are expected to answer and to help. Family support can be an around the clock labor of love. With work, boundaries are important. Unless there is an emergency, your boss should not contact you late at night or on the weekend. You need space to recharge. And, your company doesn’t own you; they employ you.
Additionally, at work, you should have the option to keep your private life private. Whether you are dating someone new, or going through a divorce, or are having a medical procedure, it’s your private business. You don’t have to share the details with anyone at work unless you choose to. In a family, there is often an expectation that everyone is up to date on your private life.
What I’m getting at is that work and family are not at all the same. When the leadership at a company claims they are, they are sending an underlying message. One is that you should be willing to sacrifice anything for the company. The next is that you should be flexible with your personal boundaries. It is a technique to peer pressure you into going along with behaviors you are not otherwise comfortable with.
One nice thing that can happen at work is that you may become close to some of your coworkers. You can choose to be friends with them outside of work. And, when you get a new job somewhere else, you may choose to maintain your friendships. But, this is all something you decide. It’s something you are in control of. And, if anything goes wrong, you have the option to address the issue, distance yourself, or walk away from the friendship altogether.
Implying that work and family are the same disrespects employees. It doesn’t acknowledge that you have your own family and boundaries. A good leader will say that you’re part of an excellent team, not a family. Work is not family.
In today’s workplace, it cannot be overstated how important it is to take care of yourself. Jobs come and go, but you are here to stay. If you’re not careful, work stress can take a toll on your health and personal life. This is especially true in the United States, where work culture tends to reward those who overwork themselves.
I am a strong believer that for employees with a desk job, we are often able to accomplish just as much work with less time if we are rested. When we work long hours, we may be slower, less creative, and less focused on the clock.
Granted, working long hours can result in more brownie points. You may impress your boss or coworkers with your dedication. But, will it truly change your path at work? Don’t get me wrong. Work is important. But, sacrificing yourself will not necessarily have a positive end result. Your health could suffer, and so could your personal relationships.
So, when should you prioritize taking care of yourself over work? You should take care of yourself when you don’t feel well. Whether you have a cold or a serious medical issue, your health is always important. You should take care when your children are sick or are having problems. The same applies when you are going through a pregnancy.
There are times when taking care of yourself is a luxury. You may not always have the ability to prioritize yourself first. I do understand this sad reality. However, there are often times when we have a choice, and we choose work.
You are probably familiar with various famous quotes around work and life. They say that when you die, no one will remember what you achieved at work. They’ll remember what sort of parent or friend you were to your loved ones.
What can you do to make the shift? For one, consider separating your methods of communication. At work, use a work computer, and use a work phone. At home, use a personal computer, and a personal phone. Keep your uses separated. This relatively small change can make a big difference. It helps to ensure that you aren’t distracted by personal tasks while you’re at work. And, when you’re home, it keeps you focused on your personal life.
Also, try to reduce the peer pressure at work around working outside of work hours. The biggest way that you can do this is by paying attention to your own email habits. In other words, if you do need to work on the weekend for some unavailable reason, try to wait to update your colleagues until Monday. Try not to push out email communications during off hours that will prompt others to begin working.
Most people agree that taking care of yourself is important. Let’s work together to make it a reality. We’ll accomplish just as much in less time, and with more sleep.
At work, employees often wear many hats. You might play a role that you don’t typically play in your personal life. Or, you may go through periods of time when you put up with things at work that you wouldn’t normally be okay with. For example, if your office environment becomes unhealthy, you might just put up with it. After all, you have bills to pay and a family to provide for. You can’t fight every battle. You go to work with the understanding that things are just not going to be perfect.
Recently, a friend shared with me that they finally feel like themselves at work. They feel good, comfortable, and appreciated. They feel like they’re in the right place. That sounds amazing, right?
This simple phrase “I feel like myself” is incredibly enlightening. So often, we don’t look for roles that allow us to feel like ourselves. We’re simply looking for a job. We’re looking for a paycheck. We may be looking for a job title. And, it’s understandable. But, if you are looking for a new role, keep this concept in mind. There will be certain roles or companies that align to who you are. And, there are others that will not.
When it comes to finding a role that will be a good fit, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, is the team inclusive? Will you be different than everyone else you’ll be working with, or does the company value people with diverse backgrounds?
You should also consider whether or not the company’s values align to yours. For example, if you have strong negative feelings about certain industries, perhaps those are industries to avoid. Or, if the company takes positions on social or political issues that you strongly disagree with, you should take note.
Is the management team supportive of their employees? A manager can make or break your experience. This can be hard to judge from the outside. But, websites like Glassdoor.com have employee reviews that are often fairly accurate.
And, don’t forget the role itself. What are your favorite parts of your job? Do you love managing people, or are you a talented individual contributor? Are you an expert in a particular topic that you find especially enjoyable? If there is something about your job that you truly love, look for that in a future role. And, if there’s something you strongly dislike, try to find a role that doesn’t have a strong emphasis on that.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not always possible to find the perfect job. Work isn’t always about fulfillment and happiness. Sometimes, it’s just as important to bring home a paycheck and to make rent. But, if you do have the luxury of finding a job that’s a good fit for you, take the opportunity to look around. Keep your eyes open for a job that will make you feel like you. There’s nothing like it.
The title of this piece is a bit controversial, but hear me out. Artificial intelligence has gotten a lot of press lately. In fact, it has become so popular that AI is receiving a similar number of searches on Google as Taylor Swift. There’s a lot of talk about companies incorporating AI into everything they do. And, fear around AI replacing our jobs is growing.
Some companies are using AI to do incredible things. But, many other companies are using AI as a new marketing term. From the outside, the entire topic can feel confusing and alarming.
I had an enlightening conversation recently about AI. My undergraduate education is in computer engineering. Not long ago, I was discussing the topic of AI with a friend. This friend is a bit younger than me. He’s also a computer engineer, and he now develops AI technology. I shared that when I was in college, artificial intelligence and machine learning didn’t exist. I felt like I had missed out on many of the new concepts that exist today. My friend shared that the education had not actually changed that much. AI is just a new way to talk about technology. It’s a new language. Yes, some companies are doing big things with AI. But, many other companies are using AI for their branding. AI and ML are new terms that sound smart.
So, what does this mean for you? Think back to the time before AI when we were nervous that technology would replace our jobs. Computers became common and helped to make things more efficient. In some cases, jobs changed or evolved. But for the most part, we’re all still here, still working. This is not unlike what will likely happen with AI.
AI will certainly help us do some things faster. It may help make writing a bit easier. It may help with planning. But, at the end of the day, humans are still needed. Humans create strategy. Humans add a level of care and insight that a computer could never provide.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there will be no impact. AI will influence change to occur. But, the real impact is likely being exaggerated online today. Companies are throwing around terms like AI and ML because it makes them (the companies) appear to be up to date with technology. It’s a marketing tactic.
What does this mean for you? If you can learn a little about AI, it may help you to ease your fears. If you believe your job will be impacted more than others, it may be time to evaluate your other skillsets. Think of your professional skills like you would think of an investment account. Diversifying your skillset can help to avoid any major issues.
But, try to remain calm. AI is interesting, and it has some great potential. But, it is likely not set to take over our human workforce.
In the past few years, I’ve had the honor of working with a number of professionals who are part of Gen Z. They’ve been honest, principled people who care about the world around them. I have been impressed with their awareness of current events, and how strongly they feel about social issues.
But, employers are also complaining that Gen Z is hard to work with. One poll of managers found that 74 percent find Gen Z to be challenging to work with. Another found managers were more likely to fire Gen Z than any other group. You can find the frustration in these surveys, and in casual conversations with friends and coworkers.
This may be a case of young people being young people. Every new generation is considered difficult at some point in time. But, there may be more to it with Gen Z. After all, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with computers and technology in their hands from day one. And, they went to college during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let that sink in for a moment. An entire generation has communicated more using technology than any other generation. And, not surprisingly, many of the complaints from managers are around communication skills. At work, your ability to communicate is often just as important as your technical knowledge. Some employers also reported that Gen Z is entitled, easily offended, and not productive.
If you’re a manager in this situation, there’s hope. Many Gen Z employees are looking for more mentoring. They may also need more direction and coaching at first. Because they have spent part of their early career remote, they haven’t had as many opportunities to observe those around them. Spend more time with them, and they will thank you.
If you are a Gen Z employee, it’s important not to overlook this concern. Being smart is not enough to get ahead at work. You must also learn to communicate well with others, and to work together with a team. If you feel you are lacking in these areas, it is your responsibility to learn. A workplace is much different than a university. Your boss and peers aren’t guaranteed to teach you, or to keep you happy. If you’re learning new material, seek out mentors who agree to help. Or, look for online resources or classes you might take.
It’s also important to remember that the workplace is made up of people with very different viewpoints. And, although it’s fantastic that companies are trying to be more aware of social issues, you will disagree with some coworkers about personal or political topics. That doesn’t mean that the work isn’t still important.
Your career is something that’s built, block by block, over many years. You are the CEO. If you’re struggling, it’s your responsibility to ask for help. It’s your job to keep working at it. It’s the only way to move forward in your career.
When you’re interviewing for a job, a company may want to meet with you from two times to ten times before they make their final decision. The entire process is time consuming. But, through all of these interviews, it could be argued that one of the most important conversations happens in the very first interview.
At the time, the first interview may not seem too significant. It’s typically conducted by a recruiter who works for the company. The conversation may feel like a checklist. The recruiter will ask straight forward questions, such as why you’re interested in the job and when you’re available to start working.
Then, the recruiter may ask you how much money you currently make, or how much money you’d like to make. The question can sound reasonable. Unfortunately, answering this question may hurt you.
For salaried roles, companies typically have broad salary ranges. This allows the company to pay more or less based on factors such as experience. It also allows the company to pay less if they know the candidate currently makes less. In other words, if your current salary is low and you share it, the company is not incentivized to pay competitively. This can happen even if your market rate is higher.
At the other extreme, if you are highly paid today, you may eliminate yourself from the consideration set before the company gets to know you. In some cases, a company cannot increase the pay beyond their existing budget. But, in others they can. The only way to find out is to make it all the way through the process.
Rather than disclose your current pay, ask the recruiter if they are willing to share the pay range for the role. In most cases, this request is no problem. When it happens, you can simply share that you are (or are not) in the same general ballpark.
In the meantime, research what the company pays on your own. Look on websites such as Glassdoor.com, where you can look up pay by title and company. Glassdoor shares base pay and bonus pay information for the positions it reports on.
If you approach salary negotiation this way, you reduce the chances that you’ll be underpaid in the future.
Most companies are also beginning to realize that this technique of asking for salary is not entirely fair. Over the past ten years, the laws around salary disclosure have evolved. These changes, such as requiring the company to disclose the salary in certain states, are in place to help make the workplace fair.
There is one exception to this advice. If you find yourself working with an external placement firm, this approach likely won’t work. Unfortunately, they very often have a rule that you must disclose your salary before you meet the company.
Do your homework. Find out your worth. Practice your answers to salary questions, so you’ll be ready for your first interview.
Receiving a rejection after a job interview can be devastating. Whether you had three interviews or ten, you were all in. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have snuck away from your existing job to interview. The process of interviewing for a job is a lot like dating. The longer it goes on, the more you can picture your new future. You begin to layout plans in your mind.
It’s not hard to do this. In fact, it’s natural. In the first interview, you’re expected to share how soon you are able to start working. And, through the process you are often ask to lay out your ninety day plan. You’re asked to design the strategy you might later implement. In order to perform well in a job interview, you must picture yourself in the new role.
Unfortunately, this comes at a high personal cost to many job seekers. Job interviews with one company can often span over multiple months. I’ve personally observed interviews as long as six months. You jump over hoop after hoop. You connect with your new team. The problem is that many companies take more than one candidate through this grueling process. It is not unusual to have at least two, if not three, finalists.
It’s also not uncommon for the company to tell you that you’re definitely getting the job. They do this because they feel optimistic in the moment. They do it to keep you engaged in their months-long interview process.
If the company hires someone, all other candidates are rejected. But, sometimes the company chooses not to hire anyone at all. To be honest, many companies look at interviewing candidates like you might try on shoes at a store. If they aren’t a perfect match, they put them back and go about their day. Rarely does a company truly understand the impact to the individual job seeker.
But, this doesn’t make it hurt any less. It often makes the job seeker question their identity. You may find yourself wondering if you took a wrong turn somewhere. You will very likely grieve the loss of the future you would have had. You feel the pain of being stuck in your current situation.
Know that these are normal emotions. If you weren’t all in on a company, you wouldn’t land the job interviews. And, it’s a real loss. But, it doesn’t make you any less of a professional. It doesn’t mean you should change your career path. If you made it to the final round, realize that you did a great job. And, if the company gives you an excuse about why you weren’t selected, remember that it’s an excuse. It may or may not be accurate.
Whatever you do, keep going. Keep applying. Keep interviewing. Grieve, but keep moving forward. And, don’t give up on your dreams. One company having a disorganized, insensitive interview process is not a reflection on your own career potential.