- Tell your kids what you do for a living.
Your children are interested in learning about you, especially when they are young and starting to fantasize about their own future. They look up to you and will ask questions about your work and will start to learn good work habits based on your responses. Your experiences may also encourage them or deter them from making some of the same decisions that you made.
2. Share your career journey.
If you love your job, tell them why! If you hate your job, tell them why! Most parents want their children to have a successful career of their own. It’s much more difficult for them to figure this out if they don’t have any examples of successes and/or failures to guide them. As they get to know more about your work life, they will be able to pull from those experiences as they start to make career decisions of their own.
3. Talk about your salary.
This might be a controversial one, but, I think it is important to be transparent about your family finances. I have been involved in several role-playing activities where kids are completely unaware about what it takes to support a family. If you’re open about your finances, rather then telling them it’s none of their business, they may develop a better understanding of what is needed to survive. Bonus: they might respect you more for all of the sacrifices that you make!
So please, tell your kids what you do for a living. Heck, take them with you to work once in a while. I have worked with far too many young people who have NO IDEA what their parents do for a living and that makes me sad. Some of my fondest memories as a child are of going with my mom and dad to work, and those experiences helped to carve the career path that I am on today. It might seem exhausting to take your kids with you to work or to tell them all about your day, but it will be worth it…..for their sake and for the sake of the future of our workforce.
Posted by Jennifer Bowden, Training and Workshop Coordinator in Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized on May 24, 2013
Conventional wisdom says that looking for a job is a full-time job. But, folks – summer is here, and this was a long hard winter in Michigan. Striking a balance between the job search and everything else always seems a little more challenging when the skies clear and the temperatures rise and the upcoming 3-day weekend beckons….
In my workshops I often talk about the hamster wheel of the job search. This is the place job seekers end up in when they’re constantly busy with activity related to the search, whether or not it’s actually progress towards a goal (like the constant “tweaking” of the resume that keeps someone from actually sending the resume out). There are times when a job seeker is legitimately burnt out on the job search and needs to refresh body, mind, and spirit, but the combined guilt/fear/panic swirling around the job search keeps them from (1) taking a break in the first place and (2) enjoying or receiving any benefit from the break because they’re freaked out about the fact that they’re taking a break.
Anybody been there before?
Blogger Cloud posted a while back about productivity at work. She figured out that if she spent 45 hours in the office, she produced 45 hours worth of work. If she spent 50 hours in the office, she produced about 45 hours worth of useful work. And if she spent 55 hours in the office, she ended up with about 41 hours worth of work – she exceeded her personal work limit and actually became LESS productive to her employer the more time she spent in the office.
I think there are some obvious parallels in the job search. If you’re researching something and end up in that sweet spot where you don’t even notice the passage of time – great. If you’re making progress getting through your list of phone calls and want to keep going – go right ahead. If there are a bunch of professional networking opportunities in your field coming up and you overload your schedule next week – okay, great. Make the most of those opportunities, because that sort of serendipity doesn’t always happen in the job search. But pay attention to your own personal limits and don’t work past that point; if you’re exhausted or crabby or distracted, you’re not going to help your cause.
It would be a mistake to think this is the same as giving yourself permission to duck out of your job search anytime you’re tired or not in the mood – if you’ve blocked off time for a task and it goes faster than you expect, spend the rest of that time tackling the next item on the list. Make use of the time you have – respect your personal limits – and bring your best self to your search every time. You deserve nothing less.
Posted by Jennifer Bowden, Training and Workshop Coordinator in Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized on May 2, 2013
I read a thought-provoking post by Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project, titled Are You Ever Paralyzed Because Two of Your Values Are in Conflict? This conflict “arises from a feeling of ambivalence – I want to do something, but I don’t want to do it; or I want one thing, but I also want something else that conflicts with it.” This can result in a kind of paralysis, where we do nothing because we can’t reconcile our conflicting values.
I believe this happens a lot in the job search. Do any of these examples ring true?
I want to find a job. I’m enjoying having more time to spend with my family.
I should get a job in my previous career field. I want to try a new career.
I should take great satisfaction from my job. I want a job I don’t have to think much about.
I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t want to admit what I really want to do.
I want to follow my passion. I want someone to tell me what I should be doing.
Satisfaction is more important than money or a job title. I want to make a lot of money and have an impressive title.
I wish I had more support in this job search. I don’t want anyone to know I’m struggling in my job search.
I’ll take any job that comes my way. I only want the job I used to have.
I’m excited about finding a new opportunity. I’m terrified at the idea of a new/different job.
I want to take a break from the job search. I can’t take a break until I’ve found a job.
Rubin says she breaks through the lack of clarity – and the resulting paralysis – by making sure that she is very clear on what she expects from herself, and why she’s taking this particular course of action.
How do you break through job search paralysis?
Posted by Jennifer Bowden, Training and Workshop Coordinator in Career, Job search, Time management on March 27, 2013
There have been plenty of heated conversations sparked by the recent publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, which takes a look at how women’s career progress has stalled and offers suggestions for helping women take charge of their careers.
Work-life balance seems to loom large in the mind of many, and often is used as a euphemism for flexible work arrangements like telecommuting or staggered work hours. The winners in lists such as “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For,” “Best Companies for Working Moms,” and Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” are consistently lauded for flexible workplace arrangements that help employees balance personal and professional commitments. But what if the whole idea is wrong?
Are flexible arrangements available or offered equally to men and women? To parents vs. non-parents? Or is the idea of work-life balance inherently discriminatory?
Work-life balance is a priority for many employees, and a recent survey by Accenture indicates that more than half of respondents turned down a job due to concern about this balance. In a recent USA Today article, a workplace survey showed that “nearly 75% of people believe that flexibility is possible only if their employer and/or boss provide it.” Is work-life balance something that you have control over? Or does it depend on your employer, leading job seekers to hold out hope that there is some kind of “perfect” job out there?
Technology is a huge driver in our ability to get work done outside of regular business hours, but respondents in the Accenture survey also felt that technology makes it harder to “turn off” work. Many reported checking email and doing other work during paid time off. In the 24/7/365 world, is it actually possible to disconnect from work? Or does technology keep us tethered regardless of our desire for balance?
If we put work and life on opposite sides of scale in a zero-sum game, it looks like work will always lose out. But the statistics about work-related stress and its significant health consequences would seem to contradict that. Is it realistic to think that we can fit in all the things we want in our lifetimes? Is it an employer’s obligation to care about these things, or are we on our own?
The conversation around work-life balance began in earnest in the 1980s, when women started to enter the workforce in larger numbers. As the Boomers start retiring in larger numbers, GenX is caught between aging parents and growing children, and the Millenials enter the workforce in larger numbers, the conversation about the tensions between work and life will continue to evolve.
Sandberg’s world seems to be limited to degreed, career-oriented, corporate achievers – but this conversation matters to everyone. What do you think? Is the idea of work-life balance doomed? And if so, how to we reframe the conversation so that we all are headed in the direction of the lives we truly wish to lead?
CITY OF FERNDALE – DPW
Department of Public Works Grade 1 (Laborer)
City of Ferndale, population 21,127, is seeking a Public Works Grade 1 (Laborer) to perform a variety of unskilled or semi-skilled maintenance work, operate equipment in the construction, operation, repair, maintenance, and replacement of City water, sewer, street, and storm drainage facilities and systems. Minimum qualifications include graduation from high school or GED equivalent, a valid State of Michigan driver’s license, and a good driving record. CDL certification is preferred.
Only online applications will be accepted at www.ferndale-mi.com. Please call Jenny Longthorne at (248) 546-2378 for further information. Deadline for accepting applications is March 22, 2013.
The City of Ferndale is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer
I loved watching Dirty Jobs hosted by Mike Rowe. The show is no longer on the Discovery Channel but it had a good run. One of the things I loved the most about the show was how Mike showed great support for the skilled trades. His major tag line was “Regular men and women, doing the kind of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us.” Mike would go from town to town doing different jobs from a Pig farmer to cleaning sewers. His command of the English language and sharp wit made me laugh even after a really bad day! I did have a slight concern that he had an obsession ranging from Bovine excrement to human flatulence.
The whole structure of the program really focused on the skilled trades. What are skilled trades or skilled labor? One of the better definitions I have found is from Wikipedia, “A tradesman is a skilled manual worker in a particular trade or craft. Economically and socially, a tradesman’s status is considered between a laborer and a professional, with a high degree of both practical and theoretical knowledge of their trade.” The list of trades is quite long. A few examples are Butcher, Electrician, Janitor, Machinist, Welder and everything in between.
In the past 20 to 30 years we have seen a shift from basic labor to skilled labor with the amount of college careers remaining fairly steady. The days of shoveling ditches as a career are disappearing. The really alarming part is the lack of skilled trades people. Skilled trades were around long before universities came on the scene. What happened to these masters of flowing electrons and floating cement? I believe a few things occurred.
Maybe many of you who were convinced by our parents and other to go the college prep route during high school. Down the road somewhere in a segregated building lived the “vocational people.” These were made to be the outcasts of education that could not become college graduates. I remember those days. It seemed that a stigma was attached to “Vocational School.” Those people were dirty, the jobs were nasty and everyone else wanted a cushy office job. So add it up; stigma, most people wanting to go to college and those just expecting to go to a manufacturing job putting part A into part B and retiring on a fat pension after 30 years. Now we have a shortage. I encourage you to watch the short video of Mike Rowe testifying about the skilled trades:
So, I believe as Career Coaches in Workforce Development or parents or teachers is to encourage our young folks or adults in retraining to look at the benefits of the trades. Mike has a great site dedicated to the trades with a lot of information: Mike Rowe Works. Of course as with anything else, look closely at the different trades and what is involved in those lines of work. You may decide to become a plumber and then find yourself knee deep in poo wondering to yourself, “What kind of fresh hell is this?!”
Posted by Jennifer Bowden, Training and Workshop Coordinator in Career, Job search, Uncategorized on March 11, 2013
Last week I mentioned the recent firing of Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, who resigned with rare humor and honesty. As CEO of Me, Inc., what can you do if you think your best option is to fire your CEO?
“Determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or … organizations within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body. Plan, direct, or coordinate operational activities at the highest level of management with the help of subordinate executives and staff managers.“ (Source: O*NET).
Firing the CEO isn’t really an option in the case of Me, Inc. You can surrender responsibility – to a spouse, a parent, a boss, a higher power – but that doesn’t actually get you off the hook for the day-to-day. You still have to get up in the morning and get through the day in some fashion. Since CEOs are in charge of creating the vision and directing strategy, consider how you’re currently doing this.
There are a really disheartening number of lists online detailing the characteristics of bad leaders. I think these can be grouped into 5 major categories:
- Poor communication (don’t communicate vision clearly; give direct reports little to no guidance; skip performance reviews; don’t give constructive suggestions; dump more work on your team than you do yourself; terrible listener)
- Disorganization/lack of direction (give people projects then don’t follow up; micromanage; sabotage team’s ability to follow through by making staff or assignment changes; change your mind constantly; disorganized; make everything an emergency; have fuzzy expectations)
- Bad behavior (Insulting; bullying; politicking; putting down team in front of others; make others feel unappreciated; never wrong about anything ever; blame others; vindictive; harping on failures; never say thanks; defensive; paranoid; rule by fear; drama )
- Wishy-washiness (avoid decision-making; tolerate underperformers out of loyalty; don’t know team’s abilities; hire substandard people to look better by comparison)
- Lack of inspiration (focus on results and not developing your team; never inspire your team to work hard or get enthused; don’t try to become a better boss; indirectness; unwilling to make decisions; avoid needed conflicts or confrontations)
Consider this in light of your job search.
- Do you have a vision for your career? When you talk with your colleagues, network contacts, and potential employers, can you articulate that vision so that others are able to see how they can help you reach your goals? Do you evaluate your skills and knowledge on a regular basis to make sure you have the tools to perform at the top of your game?
- Do you change direction so often that it’s impossible to make meaningful progress toward your goals? Are you clear on your expectations for yourself? Have you really sat down and thought about what you wanted, then developed a plan to get there? Is every situation an emergency that you react to, or is there a longer-term plan that guides your actions?
- Do you put yourself down or downplay your abilities? Do you blame others (bosses, co-workers, the economy, the government) for your current career situation? Are you stuck in the vicious cycle of reliving past failures? Are you defensive about your progress (or lack thereof)?
- Do you stay in a job you hate because you’re good at it? Do you know what you’re capable of? Do you spend time with people who are negative or bring you down?
- Do you challenge yourself? Do you look for inspiration on a daily basis? Do you avoid asking yourself hard questions (like these!) because the answers make you uncomfortable?
This is hard stuff, there’s no doubt about it. But of all the attributes of bad bosses listed above, the most grievous one is “not trying to become a better boss.”
If you look at the leadership of Me, Inc. and see that your CEO is lacking, you can fix it. Communication skills, planning and organization, and decision-making are tools you can learn. Bad behavior is a habit that can be changed with some self-awareness. And you deserve to be inspired by yourself – whatever your current situation, you have within you the ability to make life-altering changes for the better.
Make a plan to become a better CEO. Do some serious self-evaluation. Take an assessment test. Find a mentor. Emulate the habits of those you admire. Write down your plan. Surround yourself with positive people. Try something new. Embrace failure.
If you’re going to turn Me, Inc. around, it might be helpful to keep Mason’s parting words in mind:
“I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. … I’ll now take some time to decompress…and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive. …I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best… This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!”
Posted by Jennifer Bowden, Training and Workshop Coordinator in Career, Job search, Uncategorized on March 5, 2013
The internet was abuzz last week with the news that Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason was fired. Not much of the attention was about the company’s recent performance or financial prospects, however; it was mostly about Mason’s resignation letter, which began:
“After four-and-a-half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why, you haven’t been paying attention.”
The firing doesn’t seem to have come as much of a surprise to Mason, who was named “Worst CEO of 2012” by CNBC commentator Herb Greenberg. CEO firings are typically based either on personal behavior (lying on a resume, having an affair, assault) or professional incompetence (usually measured by company performance, projections, or stock prices). In the extensive news coverage and commentary on CEO firings, I didn’t find anyone who came close to Mason’s blunt admission that “As CEO, I am accountable.”
(Incidentally, this got me to wondering: What exactly do CEOs do? According to O*NET: “Determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or … organizations within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body. Plan, direct, or coordinate operational activities at the highest level of management with the help of subordinate executives and staff managers.”)
In the current career landscape, we’re all CEOs of Me, Inc. – and this is an awesome responsibility. As the inexperienced Mason learned, sometimes we screw it up. Then what? If you’re an actual company, it comes down to three choices:
- Keep doing the same thing and hope it turns out;
- Fire the CEO; or
- Turn the company around.
What does this mean if you’re a job seeker? Some of you are going to refuse to make changes even when it’s become apparent you’re headed down the wrong path; maybe you’ve invested a lot of time and money into the education for this job and want to see it pay off no matter how much you suffer in the process.
Maybe you’re really invested in the impressive-sounding job title, especially if you’ve worked hard to get there.
Maybe you feel this is the job everyone expects you to have (I used to see this with traditional college students struggling through a major chosen by their parents) and you don’t want to lose face or disappoint anyone.
Maybe the thought of making a change is too frightening to seriously contemplate, or you don’t feel you have the luxury of pursuing a career you enjoy because other people are counting on you.
Maybe it’s not quite bad enough to go through all the introspection and effort of making a change. Whatever your reasons, sometimes best choice might be putting your head down and slogging through to the other side.
(…to be continued…)