Archive for July, 2009

The Joy of Being Quoted

July 28, 2009

It’s a professional milestone to be interviewed on a topic one holds dear, and that honor has just happened to me.  Kenya McCullum, a writer on topics in the career field (among others) interviewed me on the topic of the last day on the job: dos and don’ts.  I was happy to share my thoughts because I have plenty of them on the topic.  I’m researching and writing on the subject of how to leave a job, so have a few things to say based on stories I’ve heard.

What does it take to become an expert?  Information, of course, lots of it.  You need people to tell you stories, you need communication to others that you are researching the topic and you need to be willing to talk about it.  Ultimately, you need  recognition. Someone needs to know of your passion, research, sources, and all-around interest in the topic. And in my case, that someone is Maureen Anderson, founder of The Career Clinic. Maureen, a champion networker herself, is generous in sharing names and ideas when possible.  Maureen connected me to an inquiry from Kenya McCullum, and I became one of her sources in a recent article on what to do and not do on the last day of your job.

Read the article!  She connects some valid points made by all kinds of career specialists to the recent resignation of Sarah Palin, herself a controversial figure.  Despite Palin’s polarizing reputation, there is a uniformity of advice from all of McCullum’s sources.  In reading the story, you will find today’s conventional wisdom on behavior for your last day.  You can find it at www.examiner.com/x-13521-SF-Workplace-Communication-Examiner~y2009m7d25-10-things-Sarah-Palin-should-not-do-on-her-last-day-at-work.  Great job, Kenya. I think you enlightened your readers on a topic that all can use at key points on their career paths.

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Looking back at unemployment: what will you say about it?

July 20, 2009

I’m speaking to you if you are unemployed, underemployed, or stuck in an unpleasant job because of today’s tight economy.  I know that you listen to experts about the economic recovery, and wonder when the economic recovery will happen for you.  And the answers are not immediately reassuring.

New employment will remain dismal for a few more months.  Economists tell us that full-time jobs are the last step in recovery from a recession.

Is it all bad news?  No!

Someday you’ll be telling your grandchildren about the great recession of ’09 just as many of us heard about the Great Depression from our grandparents.  The story you tell is entirely within your ability to form.  When they ask you what you did, you can be embarrassed to relate that the answer was “not much”, or you can tell them that it was the nudge you needed to get going.

I met a person the other day who is planning to go back home and bake gourmet cupcakes to sell to tourists.  I was skeptical at first, but she convinced me that it is in fact a really good option for a few months.  Not a career, but survival.  And fun.

I know another young person who is enrolling in a short-term nurses’ assistant training program at a community college.  It is possible that she will be employed within the year, bringing in a bit of money while continuing her professional training.

Note that both these examples depend on the support of others.  I am observing that in tough times, families and friends have new opportunities to support each other.  Those who have enough are thinking of others and extending a hand in whatever way they can.

When you tell your story to your grandchildren a few years from now, what will you say about this year?  It is part of your legacy and will live on long after you.  Make it a great story, make it inspiring, make it about the stepping stones to a successful future.

What do you love?

July 15, 2009

Here’s a piece of advice to you young people out there, in the quest for your first job (okay, maybe a better job than you have now).

  • What do you love to do?
  • What are you enthusiastic about?
  • What have you been recognized for?

This is not a silly question.  I don’t want to hear answers about beer chugging, evading the law, or cheating in school.

I do want to hear that you love to swim, that you try hard to amuse kids in your babysitting, that you can teach a dog to heel, that you showed some underachieving kids how to graph an algebra problem.

There’s a good chance that this interest of yours is not reflected in your resume.  It probably doesn’t fit in an entry about a restaurant job or your high school curriculum.  But remember that you can always have a section labelled  Extracurricular Activities, Volunteer Work, or Community Involvement.

Your swimming accomplishments don’t relate directly to the office job you’re applying for, but they say good things about you nonetheless.  You probably have a strong competitive streak and a commitment to health and fitness. These traits may add up to a positive work ethic which your new employer will appreciate.

Irrelevant to your job search?  Not at all.  People reading your resume know that you don’t have a lot of job experience, and they will be happy to read about what makes you a unique person.

If you need help in making sure that your resume reflects really good things about you, feel free to contact me.  You may visit my website at www.anneheadley.com for contact information.  The things you love may be what makes an employer want to meet you.

Burned any (job) bridges lately?

July 8, 2009
  • You resigned and told them what you really think.
  • You were laid off and told them what you really think.
  • In a performance appraisal, you spoke what was truly on your mind.
  • You told an underling what you really think about his/her performance.
  • A problem co-worker got promoted after doing less than you do, and someone asked you what you think about it.

In your answer, you may have burned a few bridges that could have furthered your career, or at least enhanced your professional reputation.

It’s understandable, we’ve all done it, and it remains a mistake.  Describing your job in anything less than positive terms always carries a risk.  Of course, it felt wonderful for a moment or two.  You had carried these negative feelings for quite a while, and you got pushed too far.  Incompetence, unethical practices, prejudice, favoritism, clique-ish behavior, and being ignored can build up internally, and most of us have expressed these feelings to the wrong people, at the wrong time.

Stop! Remember that jobs are hard to come by these days, remember that loyalty just might be rewarded, remember that you may need to be a better self-promoter.  A graceful exit is worth a lot these days.  You don’t need to stay in a negative situation, but it may take some time to find a more comfortable situation.

You need to practice your reaction to the above-cited situation.  How about these possibilities?

  • I learned a great deal in this job, and I plan to carry that information with me to the new place.
  • I will miss the chance to enhance my skills in customer interaction.
  • Yes, I agree that I need to be more accurate in my work, and here’s what I’m doing about it…
  • Timely attendance at work is of prime importance, and I have some concern about your record.
  • Joe is enthusiastic about his job, and I hope he will be encouraged to continue to grow.

Pollyanna-ish?  Yes, it is.  But you will gain nothing except momentary satisfaction in badmouthing, backstabbing, or whining.  You’ll feel proud to be the person who can put a positive spin on a negative situation, at least on the job.

If you would like some counseling on how to make the best of a bad situation, in particular, how to plan a positive exit strategy, please contact me.  There are steps you can take that will keep you on the occupational high road. Please contact me at www.anneheadley.com or leave a note here.

Part-Time Jobs: The time is now

July 3, 2009

The role of the part-time job is essential in measuring the progress of economic recovery.  Because businesses lack confidence as well as deep pockets, they may refuse to offer full-time positions even though they may need the help.  Instead, they are posting half-time jobs.

But you’re a full-time worker, and have been so for all your work life.  What’s with this part-time situation?  

I believe you should say yes if there is something compelling or otherwise appropriate about the offer.  What is good about it?

  • You’re working again, and some money is better than no money,
  • You’re making connections, expanding your network,
  • There might be overtime,
  • You’ll be there as confidence builds and people start spending again,
  • If the company grows, your loyalty and hard work may be rewarded with a full-time position,
  • You’re gaining new skills,
  • You still have energy for the rest of your life, such as family, education, and community activities.

In a flourishing job market, it’s a good thing to hold out for a great situation.  But no one has used the word flourishing to describe today’s work world in recent memory.  You’ve already held out for a time and nothing has happened.  So go ahead – take that part-time offer.  You just may be very glad you did.