It’s hard to overstate how happy I’ve been that the workforce is more remote now than ever before. Working from home opens up options for many people. People are no longer confined to the job market in their town. They can live anywhere. And, they don’t have to commute, or go into an open office.
People will argue that working from home just isn’t the same from a culture perspective. I would argue right back that culture can be created in new ways. Yes, it’s different. And, yes, it takes time. But, it is possible. Teams can bond through the virtual world.
But, there’s one detail to consider. Since the pandemic started, one thing has happened. College graduation has happened. And, it’s happened twice: May of 2020, and May of 2021. This means that there are two full classes of college graduates out there who started working after working from home was the way to work.
Sure, some students were doing internships during college. They may have been going into an office. But, many college students never get the opportunity to do a single internship. They were still working in food service, or another similar industry. These newly minted graduates are being tossed into a world of Zoom, many working from their parents’ homes.
We need to consider the long term implications of this unique phenomenon. And also, it reinforces the idea that things aren’t going to go back to the post pandemic normal. This really is the new normal. There are college graduates who can’t imagine how things might be different in person.
So, what does this mean for you, and your business? I’m not sure of the right answer, but one thing is for certain. We need to consciously make team building a priority. We need to try to be better communicators. We need to create structure. And, we need to make an effort to train employees.
I’m a big supporter of teaching yourself. But, in an office, it’s easier to do when you can look around at what coworkers are doing. These new graduates don’t have that luxury. They’re walking straight out of college and into their dining room table, trying to piece together what it means to be a full-time employee.
Today’s workers were already not terribly loyal to one company. Imagine if you never met the people you were working with. Imagine how lonely and confusing it might be to work solo from the beginning. College often doesn’t even train students on basic things, like balancing a checkbook. How do we expect new graduates to come ready to know what they’re doing on day one?
My takeaway for you is this. If you are working with a recent college grad, take the time to get to know them. Ask them if they need help. And, try to mentor them if you have the chance. They are our future, after all.
As professional sports teams are playing again, questions have started to arise about working in professional sports. Let’s be honest. Who wouldn’t want to get up and go to work for their favorite sports franchise? Every day would be fun and exciting – and we might even meet a few of the players. It sounds amazing, right?
Over the years, I’ve met a number of folks who’ve spent the majority of their career in professional sports, whether it was the NBA, PGA or MLB. I noticed common themes among those people. They all work extremely hard. They all travel – a lot. And, they’re all thrilled to be working in pro sports. It was a life dream that they each worked on for many years.
UCLA’s Director of Alumni Career Resources, David E. Cooley, shared his insights into breaking into the sports industry. As a long time Los Angeles resident and career coach, David has often worked with clients who also have an interest breaking into sports. His advice was simple. First, your love of sports alone will never get you the job. In fact, it may be looked at as a negative at times. Next, get as much education and experience as you can in the sports arena. Then, be prepared to work your way up from the bottom.
This point regarding working your way up in professional sports is well-taken. A Memphis Grizzlies alumnus shared that everyone he’d met in a senior leadership position in professional sports had started at the bottom. They often started as interns.
If you’re a recent college graduate, this is probably great news. But, if you’re more seasoned and have commitments like a mortgage or a family, it can be trickier. If you have a lifestyle you need to maintain, you’ll want to do diligent research into pay. Positions in pro sports often pay less than equivalent positions in other industries.
You may wonder why this is the case. It’s because many people want these jobs. Candidates will take less money to get them, which means that in order to be competitive, you likely will have to do the same.
Keep in mind too that your perfect job in professional sports may not be in your city, so you’ll want to be open to moving – and to working for another team. The last key to finding a job in pro sports is networking. Your reputation and who you know will help you to bypass the piles of applicant resumes in front of yours.
Keep in mind that this foot-in-the-door approach is not for every industry. In fact, I’d rarely recommend it for any other situation. But, with so many applicants for these positions, you often have to be more flexible in order to be competitive.
Don’t get me wrong. My intention isn’t to detour you from your sports career. It’s to provide guidance on where to begin and what expectations to set.
Working from an office used to be normal. But, that time is so far in the past that it would be naive to think we will ever go back to our former state. Honestly, many of us are wondering why working from the office Monday through Friday ever made sense in the first place. The time wasted commuting, along with the cost of rent is unbelievable.
Looking back, many people have started to wonder if going to work every day in person was more about control than productivity. It gave managers a bird’s eye view of what employees were doing all day. And, it kept employees working with fewer outside distractions.
But, was it really the right way to approach work? I don’t believe so. I’ve been the most productive when I’ve had the most autonomy. And, when I’ve been under someone’s thumb, my productivity and creativity have dropped.
The interesting twist to working from home is that some employers are looking for new ways to feel that they still have control over employees. I first heard about this when friends discussed their managers calling them on video at random times during the workday. The purpose appeared to be monitoring the employee, rather than anything helpful.
But, the real shocker comes from employee monitoring software. Last week, The Washington Post released a shocking article documenting digital monitoring of employees in the remote work environment. Employees shared stories about keystroke tracking, screenshots, and facial recognition.
One employee, who chose to remain anonymous, shared a story of trying to find something on their computer. He was clicking around, trying to find the spot where he needed to be. Suddenly, his boss started to speak to him through his headset, instructing him on where to go.
Another employee described her company using facial recognition software. In order to get paid, she would have to look toward her screen while working. If she looked around for too long, she’d have to log in all over again. Not only was her photo being taken, but the tiny light coming from the camera was on while she was working.
The thing about remote work is that it has the potential to be more productive. But, the relationship between employee and employer is built on trust. And, if someone is going slack off, they will be able to do this whether they’re being monitored or not. Beyond that, people are not machines. They may have days that are less productive, and they may have other days that are very productive.
The bottom line is, employers should consider decreasing monitoring, and increasing trust. You can do this by setting realistic goals and holding your employees to them. Measure results, not keystrokes. And, if someone isn’t trustworthy, replace them with someone who is. Create a culture based on mutual respect, and you’ll increase productivity, and save a little money on rent at the same time.
Leaving your current employer for a new career opportunity is a big decision. In a way, it’s similar to the breakup of a romantic relationship. Coworkers you once saw daily, you may never talk to again. The process can be sad and painful, but it’s a necessary step of growth. In the process of moving on, there are often opportunities to share your dissatisfaction. To this, my advice is to be careful.
If you felt your current employer was a perfect match, you probably wouldn’t be open to new opportunities. Similar to romantic relationships, daters are typically only open to new people if they’re unsure about their current relationship. If you’ve found a new job that you’re taking, the old one was likely a mismatch.
On the way out, many companies complete an exit interview. And, many employees enjoy using this time to vent their long held frustrations. It may feel therapeutic, but you should not take this route if you can avoid it.
If you’re like most employees, you have at least tried to resolve the differences at your current company before seeking something new. You probably shared (on more than one occasion) what you felt might help you to be more successful. For whatever reason, your request wasn’t possible. It may be because the company wasn’t listening. But, it may have been something larger. For example, to fulfill your request, a larger change to the corporate culture may have been necessary. And, sometimes, that’s just not possible.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying your request wasn’t valid or reasonable. But, if it wasn’t possible while you were working there, it isn’t going to be possible after you’ve left. And, certainly not from one casual conversation with human resources on your way out the door. The other thing is, people may have been doing their best. We rarely have all of the information, or know exactly what was going on behind the scenes.
But, chances are good that you built positive relationships when you were at your company. You want to maintain those if you can. And, you may need your boss in the future as a reference. You cannot tear up your relationship with an organization, and hope for a glowing review later.
It can be frustrating when an opportunity didn’t work out the way you would have liked. But, focus on the positive and focus on the future. Be happy that you found a new beginning. If you feel frustrated with your old company, that’s understandable. But, rather than complain in an exit interview, call a friend. It will do you far more good to talk with someone who cares about your future.
And, try to leave things as you found them. When you end a romantic relationship, it doesn’t help to tear each other town. The same is true in business. Thank the company for the experience, and move forward.
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.