Years ago when I got a job as a teacher, a former educator gave me some sage advice I did not heed: steer clear of the teacher’s lounge. The logic behind this was that the burnt out teachers populated the lounge and any new teachers would be spoiled by their negativity.
One day I wandered in there and I immediately understood why I was warned against it. If smoking had been allowed on school grounds, they would have been enshrouded in a cigarette induced fog. Instead they were lost in an abyss of bitterness – and they loved to share why they felt that way. Sadly for me, I was struggling with the job, as all first year teachers do, and turned to these people for advice. I did not teach a second year.
There are teacher lounges in every workplace in the world where the people who are five years past their expiration date for the job linger and try to drag down anyone within arm’s length. Anyone who’s new to a job needs to quickly identify these pockets of bitterness and avoid them. The last thing you want is for your new-job enthusiasm to be drained away with stories about how the company “should be run” by people who could solve all of the world’s ills if “only they’d listen to me.” This will inevitably lead to poor advice about the company, its policies and politics, and possibly prevent you from working there much longer.
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Never underestimate the power of a career mentor. Working with someone who can relate to your goals and talents is key in getting and staying on the best career path for you. Here are some tips about finding your mentoring and fostering a good relationship with him or her.
Find your mentor. First of all, know that your boss or supervisor is not a mentor. They are your leader, and in a strange way, your competition. Are they interested in showing you the “tricks of the trade” that have gotten them to where they within the company? Uh, notsomuch. Why should they gift wrap the advantage of experience it has taken them years to achieve? However, this does not mean that looking within your own workplace for an appropriate mentor is out of the question. Senior staff members with a lifetime of experience behind them may often be willing to—even enthusiastic about—mentoring someone that reminds them of themselves at the start of their own careers. The most ideal way to acquaint yourself with a mentor is simply through networking. Happy hour and business meetings often introduce folks to each other and like minded people naturally gravitate toward each other. Sometimes businesses even offer mentoring opportunities that pair their senior employees with new hires or up-and-comers. This is also an excellent resource for forming working partnerships. If you are still unable to find a mentor through these means, contact your local workforce center for a referral.
Respect your mentor. The best mentor relationships are formed between folks who mutually respect each other and have similar characteristics, both personal and business. Along this same vein, the ability of the individual being mentored to accept constructive criticism is absolutely vital. What good does it do to willingly seek out advice and constructive criticism if you refuse to take it or follow directives? If your mentor gives you an assignment, do it in a timely manner and to the best of your ability. Otherwise you are simply wasting your time and theirs.
Don’t abuse your mentor. Lay down guidelines with reference to time. Don’t be too needy or abuse your mentor’s time. You don’t want your mentor to do an about-face and run the opposite direction when they see you coming. Establishing certain meeting hours or once a week lunch meetings will benefit both of you and avoid infringing on each others’ lives.
Consider becoming a mentor. That’s right—if you’ve enjoyed a relative amount of business success in your life, considering mentoring a more inexperience employee at your firm or in the same line of work. You will derive great enjoyment in seeing your business success play out the second time around. If you’ve got an hour or two a week, you can really perform a world of good.
Mentoring has become a major buzzword in nearly every industry. Following these few basic rules can help ensure a good mentor relationship no matter which side of the desk you’re on!
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Confused? Don’t be.
Here’s the scenario—you’re currently employed but looking for a different opportunity; how can you find a different position without compromising your present paycheck or your business integrity? Here is a list we’ve compiled that can help you align your work ethics with job-seeking etiquette.
Don’t search for a job while you’re at your present job. You’ll feel better at the end of the day if you’ve made your job search without compromising the quality of your work by using your work resources to conduct your job-finding campaign. Likely, such activity would be grounds for immediate dismissal from your position. Don’t do it on your boss’ dime; it’s not how you’d want things done if the roles were reversed.
Never, ever-ever badmouth your current employer. Boy-oh-boy—running your mouth about your current employer tells your interviewer far more about you than it does about your employer. Slandering your current boss to anyone, particularly when looking for a job, is the poorest possible decision. Prospective employers will assume that in time, you’ll be running off at the mouth about your new company. When asked why you wish to leave your present position, a good rule of thumb is to stay positive, citing only the need for better utilizing your skills and so forth, and avoid saying anything derogatory about your present employer even if he or she is a total ogre and the company is on the verge of collapse. Prospective employers want to know you can display solidarity and be highly confidential.
Never share information about your job-seeking mission with colleagues. You just never know who is going to say what to whom, or who is whose nephew or goddaughter. Zip the lip in the workplace.
Don’t take calls or receive emails at your current workplace from prospective employers. It’s tacky and it can get you fired. Also, arrange interviews to take place during lunchtime, after work, during personal time or even on weekends. You’re not putting off prospective employers by making such requests; you’re showing him/her that you respect your employer and they will expect that you will, in turn, be responsible and respectful of them as well should they choose to hire you.
Watch your references. Unless you’re on very good and friendly terms with your employer and he or she realizes that you are looking for another job, resist checking the box that says you give permission for the interviewer to contact your present employee. Can you imagine the tension that will cause in the workplace? Especially if you don’t get the job you were interviewing for?
Don’t steal clients. If you’re employed with ad advertising or brokerage firm, you’re probably familiar with such stories about representatives or agents leaving and taking their closest clients with them. Bad idea. By soliciting your current clientele for your new client base, you’re saying more about yourself than you probably realize—predominantly that you’re not trustworthy. It makes people uncomfortable. If, however, you have a particularly good relationship with a client, it is not unreasonable to inform them of your departure and offer to assist in their transition to working with a new representative or agent. Never lobby for their continued loyalty; however, they may ask you for a personal card, in which case the ball is in their court and you may provide one to them. Do continue on your mission to satisfy them at your present job until your very last day. This will make a tremendous impression on both your client roster and your employer.
Keep on keepin’ on. Make sure that you don’t slack off at your present position, even if you think you’re about to leave. Remember that those work references are priceless. Even if you don’t have the best relationship with your current employer, you can be assured that they will appreciate your attention to detail right up to the last minute and that they will be far less likely to dish any off the record dirt with a new or prospective employer.
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Okay class, remember a few short years ago when we were longing to live it up like those dot-commers who were out there, building pimped-out fortresses and partying like rock stars? Then along came the dot-com fiasco and now the recession—makes the medical technician who makes a moderate living feel like a superhero just for being able to hold onto his or her job.
I don’t know if I really believe there’s such a thing as a recession-proof job. I believe the term “recession-proof” will hit the top-searched list at Google this year hands down. But there really are some jobs out there that seem to have an element of staying power. Shall we take a look at a few? When I call your name you can sit down and take a breather. In no particular order we have…..
Medical anything. We’re not going all fancy here—simply put, if you’re in the medical field, you’re relatively safe. Maybe you’re not a wealthy doctor, but there will always be a need for you. Yes even you, Mr. Bedpan-Changer. Lucky for you families can’t shave medical expenses off the budget the same way they trimmed out movie out night, but they can’t, period. Medical folks you’re safe, take a seat.
Service jobs you have to get dirty for. Right-o. The single toilet in the house is not going to hang back on the big-time back-up just because you’ve got a cash deficit. Same with the heater quitting or the anything else your house needs to run smoothly. Auto mechanics, ditto. No breaks in those businesses. You repair folks are golden. Take a load off.
Anything for brainiac save-the-earth folks. Yep, if you’ve got a talent, idea or other gift for doing something that’s going to make some energy sense on this planet—you’re going to be fine in this recession. And companies, no matter how they are suffering in other aspects, still want the community to know that Mother Nature comes first. Plus, we do need alternative energy sources. No recession will take away the need for solar energy, fuel efficiency and the like. So if you’re a brainy energy-scientist who can stay at the top of your game, grab a chair and relax.
If you’re shaping the future of America, you can also have a chair. Teachers, professors, school administrators—you may continue to enjoy salaries that won’t have you pimping out your cribs anytime soon, but the good news is, you will have a job. Good for you. Now sit down.
For those of you who remain standing, it’s time to consider playing nice with others at your present job whatever it is. Avoid rocking the boat and don’t apply for new credit cards while you hold on and try to ride out the recession. If you’ve already been hit hard by the economic situation, you may want to batten down the recession hatches in a decent college program somewhere. Educate yourself (try one of the aforementioned jobs perhaps?) and prepare for your second launch into the great-big world. If you can’t stand the sight of blood, don’t want to sink your hands in toilet ooze, and don’t have patience enough to wipe the noses of 5-year-old children all day long, get creative. Creative positions, home-owned businesses and consultation services are still faring well in the marketplace. So go for it.
Good luck. Class is dismissed.
For some reason, people brains go to mush in December. Everyone gets bitten by the holiday bug and just checks their brain at the door. A good friend of mine who has been looking for a new job for a few months even said that he’d have to put that on hold until the new year. I was flabbergasted. Why would he do that? He responded that most businesses weren’t hiring during the holidays because people were on vacation.
I don’t know of one business that “takes it easy” in December. At least not one that wants to remain profitable. The reality is that commerce marches on regardless of the date. The only real unproductive time may be the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day because of vacations, but I guarantee that the business is running at some capacity.
This goes for hiring as well. For the business to run, they need people; if it’s due to growth or turnover, businesses are hiring.
I suspect the real reason my friend wants to cool his job search is because of how he feels. He wants to allow his brain to check out and run on autopilot, basically only awakening from this stupor when delicious holiday treats hover in front of his face. If you’re serious about finding a new job, then you can’t check out for the holidays. You’ve got to keep trying, no matter what.
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During a job search, your resume is everything. That’s specifically why at Applicant Tree we’ve placed a particular monetary value on it. It’s important to not let the small details tarnish that value. The document needs to be short, concise, and to the point. It needs to be a model of efficiency. Here’s some quick tips on how to achieve that.
1. Keep the descriptions of your past jobs short and punchy. A resume shouldn’t be the novel of your career, it should be the highlight reel. Boil each job’s duties down to four or five distinct marketable duties. What are the skills you used everyday that are of interest to another employer?
2. Keep your job history to the bare minimum. Go back three jobs or five years, whichever comes first. In this rapidly changing world, the job skills from 10 years ago are often irrelevant. If you want to appear like an innovator, include only modern skills.
3. Keep your education short as well. List only the degrees that really matter. If you graduated from a community or junior college before going on to University, only the university degree really matters. Simply list the type of degree and the college that awarded it to you.
The key to it all is a balance of white space to text, to invite an employer to read it. Too much text and you’ll be skipped over for the next resume on a very large stack. You just have to say more with less.