10 Good Reasons to Get Back to Your Job Search NOW

Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

by David Straka, Case Manager at Ferndale Michigan Works

So it is summer and you are out of work.  You applied for and are receiving unetop-10-listmployment.  I guess it is time to take a little vacation and enjoy the sights and sounds that summer brings.  You really don’t need to look for work right now because you have earned some time off to chill out, right?  From where I sit, WRONG!

It can be very enticing to fall into that trap thinking that a few months off is not going to hurt anything.  Here are a few points why it is not such a good idea:

  1.  The longer you are out of the workforce the harder it is to stay sharp and explain to a potential employer what you have been doing all that time.
  2. Unemployment money is not going to last forever.
  3. You will continue down the dark path of losing touch with possible networking leads and decreased motivation.
  4. I will see you at my desk with a week left of unemployment, in a panic expecting me to hand you a job.

Regardless the time of year, once you lose a job for whatever reason, you hit the ground running!  Summer is a perfect time to establish your re-employment marketing plan.  Here are a few hints to find your motivation:

  1. As soon as your job ends go ahead and get to your local Michigan Works!  File for your unemployment.  Find out all services available to you by asking staff or better yet, attending an orientation.
  2. Attend all the workshops that can benefit you and bring you up to date on skills needed in your re-employment efforts.
  3. Get referred to a Case Manager/Career Advisor to review your career goals, review and/or create your resume.
  4. Establish a regular “work week” schedule of what happens each day and stick to it.  This includes regular breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If your day includes an exercise program, keep that as part of your routine.  In the evening, take a break and get a good night’s sleep.
  5. Have some business cards made up through services such a Vista Print and carry those with you to summer events.  You never know who you are going to run into.
  6. Look at possible internships or volunteer some time in your schedule to expand your network.

Summer time is seductive.  Even when a person in employed we want to go out and play.  However, income is extremely important.  “Without it, ya ain’t going to get no snow cones or a cold beer.”  Get it in gear and stay successful!

Is There Any Point in Looking for a Job During the Summer?

Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

Ah,  the lazy hazy days of summer…. Time to kick back and relax, enjoy the beautiful weather, and hit the Snooze button on the job search. Right?hammock

WRONG!

There is a persistent myth that there’s not much point to looking for a job during the summer, since everyone is on vacation and all the students on break have taken the available jobs anyway. This is a lot like the idea that there’s no point in looking for a job in December, since everyone has mentally checked out prior to the Christmas season and won’t be hiring until after the start of the new year (another job search myth!)

I won’t argue that there are certain times of year that are slower than others, hiring-wise.  And we all know that it can be hard to get a reply from people at any time of year. But saying that you’re going to put a job search on hold because of the time of year assumes that control over the search is in the hands of other people. YOU are the person running the show (whether it feels that way or not). Your actions, effort, and focus determine the success of your job search more than any other factor, including the vacation schedule of the Human Resources department.

It can be comforting to think that other people are in charge of our careers – after all, life would certainly be a lot simpler if we didn’t have so many choices. What would it be like to have someone else choose your clothes, pick your meals, and tell you what you were going to do every day? It might feel like a welcome break from decision-making at first, but it would probably wear on you pretty quickly. When you have the freedom to make choices about those things, you can explore different options, change your mind, re-prioritize, and put in as much or as little time as you want. Your job search is no different . There are a lot of things we can’t control – the economy, the competition for a particular job, an employer’s timeline for hiring – but the outcome of your job search doesn’t have to be one of them.

If you’re looking for advice on how to get started, stay tuned: all this month we’ll be talking about how to make the most of these long summer days, including a workshop later this month on Career Action Planning.

Advice from a recent graduate

Career, GenY, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

Written by Adriana (Ana) Hofstadter, PATH Case Manager

Ana is the newest addition to the Ferndale Michigan Works! team. As a recent college graduate herself, she can really relate to the challenges that grads and job seekers face when they first leave school, and was kind enough to share her advice for getting through the job search. 
Ana and her brother at graduation

Ana and her brother at graduation

Congratulations on finishing your degree! You have made a giant step to bettering yourself and our world. As a recent college graduate myself, I wanted to share my experiences and give some advice to help you along your journey. I hope the following words help you through this roller coaster called life.

I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in May of 2013 with a BA in Family Services.  During school, I discovered a passion for helping those dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault. I began volunteering at a local agency my sophomore year. I continued to volunteer for three years, as well as completing my senior internship there. After I graduated, I received a short term job offer. The job was to last three months and I would be helping them transition into closure since we lost funding and would not be open as of September 2013. During that time, my boyfriend moved to Michigan after getting a job at GM. In October I moved to Michigan and spent seven long, cold, depressing months unemployed before receiving an offer to work at Ferndale Michigan Works! in April 2014.

One of your biggest challenges will be putting your degree and yourself to work. Finding a job in today’s market is very daunting. One thing I did when looking for a job was to take time for myself. It is very important to keep your emotions high and yourself motivated. Take breaks, allow yourself to enjoy the weekends. Look for jobs from 8-4 or 9-5. You won’t hear back from most of the jobs you apply for or you will hear resounding “no’s”. This happens to everyone! Just keep moving forward. I also researched my field. Since I was new to the area, I needed to know what kinds of jobs were out there and whether I was able to do them or not.

I hope most of you can find work close to home, this way you can maintain or grow the relationship you have with family and friends. It is so important to have a support system when you are first starting out. I call my mom all the time for advice on cooking, cleaning, what I should do at work, etc. She is more than willing to help even though I am an “adult.” Finding new friends in the adult world is always hard. In school, you are surrounded by people your own age who share your interests. Making friends could be as easy as breathing. Now you will need to start putting more effort into building your network and support system. I try my best to get to know my neighbors. If nothing else, they are close by and can help with the small things. I also started volunteering right once I moved. I found a local animal shelter and have made several friends and have had many rewarding experiences. I have also found a few clubs around town for people who share my interests, like a board game club once every Friday.

For me, the biggest thing which kept me going was people. As soon as I put myself out there, things became easier and easier. Your situation may be different. I encourage you to find that one thing that keeps you going. Once you find it, make sure to maintain it! Have one thing under control in your life will make this transition so much easier.

Sam Bankey e-Prize

Social Media, Students and Careers

Career, GenY, Job search, Social Media
Written by Heather Coleman Voss, Business Services/Social Media Coordinator

Young people with the goal of applying for their first jobs, college, or beginning their career need to start utilizing social media with a “brand” in mind. Even high school students have the opportunity to begin this positive branding process while still enjoying social media platforms for social interaction.

Here’s the thing: Employers are Googling applicants every day. They are checking out Facebook Timelines, Twitter profiles and posted photos via Instagram. Why? They want to get a feel for the personality, communication skills and interests of applicants. Times are different. Employers and college admissions representatives are not using social media to turn a candidate down as much as to find reasons to recruit you.

This is very good news. Becoming an attractive candidate is as simple as sharing blog posts, interesting posts and tweets from organizations, your community and companies. Publicly sharing content which showcases your upcoming professional interests, and joining in discussions where your voice is heard on these topics, can be a key factor in your future success.

I reached out and asked some local experts their opinions on this topic. Here is what Samantha Bankey, Marketing Coordinator at HelloWorld (@HW_inc), shares:

Samantha Bankey

Samantha, a 2013 Ferris State Grad, was hired via Instagram the summer after graduation (see photo above).

“It’s important to brand yourself as soon as you enter your undergraduate. Who do you want to be noticed by, and what do you want them to think about you? That’s your personal brand. Your personal brand defines who you are as a professional and a potential employee, so it’s important to realize that your social accounts really do reflect you. Do you have a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, etc.? Be sure it’s cleaned up. You have a few scrolls down your page to make an impression, and you control whether it’s a good or bad one. 

I always encourage others to not be afraid of social media, but to use it to their advantage. I think it’s totally silly to have a personal Twitter page and a professional Twitter page. Your character shouldn’t be two separate identities. Show your personality and your interests, but don’t go over the top by sharing too much information or by being offensive. You should be able to be 100% yourself with your future employer, not a completely different person. An employer is going to look at your character as a whole, not just your skill sets.

You have to find a way to make yourself different from the other applicants and other students in your field. What makes you unique? For example, when I had my interview at HelloWorld (ePrize at the time), I gave every single person I met that day my personalized business card and resume, all decked out with my logo, contact information, and website. That made me memorable (and landed me an internship, turned job!).”

Social media is hugely beneficial to those who understand how to use it for both personal and professional networking. Emilie Mecklenborg, Recruitment Media Strategist at Alexander Mann Solutions (@WeAreAMS), advises:

Emilie Meck

Emilie’s effective use of Twitter was key to opening a new door into a satisfying career.

“How you manage your online presence is critical for new grads and job seekers whether they are in college or as early as high school. It helps establish your personal brand which will differentiate you from the competition. Social media can be used as a 3D resume showing your strengths, talent and accomplishments. Your social media presence is like your credit history, it will open or close doors for you depending on how you manager your online presence.”

Additionally, many professionals have embraced social media as a way to interact, network, build authentic relationships, crowd source and collaborate across all platforms.

To underscore the importance of the connection between social media and your career, consider carefully what Joseph Gacioch, Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Ferndale (@FerndaleMich), advises:

Joe was promoted from Assistant to the City Manager to Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) within one year of employment at The City of Ferndale.

Joe was promoted from Program and Grants Coordinator to Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) within one year of employment at The City of Ferndale.

“Establishing and managing a social media presence should be an important focus of young graduates and professionals. Sites such as Linked In and Twitter have granted young professionals the opportunity to engage in networking with peers and organizations in locations of their choice. Your soft skills, interests, and opinions are a unique and valuable brand that should be contributed to the ongoing digital conversations.

Linked In and Twitter have often replaced my business cards in context of professional networking at conferences and industry events. Linked In empowers me to continue a conversation and establish a connection where a business card cannot.”

Interested in learning more on this topic? Join the #VZHRchat I have been invited to host on Wednesday, June 25 at 1:00 pm!

Additionally, we have several outstanding career and social media workshops to choose from. Find our calendar on our Facebook page, and call us to register!  We’d love to see you on Twitter: @FerndaleMIWorks

Do you have a map for your career road trip?

Career, Job search
By Jennifer Bowden, Training and Workshop Coordinator

In my resume workshop, I talk a lot about the importance of self-understanding as the foundation to a successful job search. The analogy I use is getting in the car and saying you’re going to drive somewhere: will you ever get there?  How will you know? On the other hand, if you said you were going to get in the car and drive to St. Louis, at the end of the day you would have a pretty solid idea of whetrv-road-tripher you’d arrived there, made progress, or decided to pick a different destination altogether. Anytime you’re headed somewhere new it helps to have some kind of map involved; the career search is no different.

Advice to new graduates tends to center around a few common themes; my last blog post was a run-down of advice from the best commencement speeches of 2014. We’ve all heard these themes before: Follow your passion. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Be true to yourself. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. You’ll regret missed opportunities later on.

This is great if you know what you want to do. But what if you’re completely lost? What if this advice is scary and paralyzing? Shouldn’t you have this figured out by now?

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I help people figure out what they want to be when they grow up. It’s meant to be humorous and encourage a little more conversation, but I’m taken aback by how often that person clutches my arm and says anxiously, “Really? Can you help ME?”

It’s hardly ever the new graduates asking.

Remember the movie “Up”? Carl and Ellie Frederickson dreamed their whole lives about going to Paradise Falls, and they had a lot of really good reasons why they never got around to it. Of all the perfectly good reasons why you paradise-falls-jarhaven’t gotten around to figuring out what you really want to do, the scariest one to face is the realization that you really don’t know where to start. People often feel like they’re supposed to have figured this out already, or that everyone else knows what they want to do (remember that annoying classmate who’s known what he wanted to be since the age of 5?). You won’t get the life you want if you don’t know what it is, and the best way to get there is do some daydreaming.

It’s time to get some metaphorical travel brochures and start daydreaming about the career trip without the pressure of having to do anything about it (yet). Maybe you’ll decide that St. Louis isn’t the right destination and re-route to Chicago instead. Maybe you’ll decide that you really need to be headed to Paradise Falls. Maybe you’ll decide that travelling isn’t for you, after all. But you’re never going to get closer to figuring this out if you don’t give yourself permission to NOT know the answer for a little while.

Psychology Today: Tuning Into Daydreams for Career Direction

Working Self: Job, Career, Or Something Else?

Graduation advice is for job seekers, too

Career, Job search, Uncategorized
by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

As the school year draws to a close, there are plenty of people out there giving speeches and advice to new graduates. Business Insider recently posted an excellent article with a roundup of the best advice ever given to graduates from such prominent figures as Oprah Winfrey, Winston Churchill, J.K. Rowling, and others. There are some great parallels to advice for job seekers – you’re at a crossroads as well, and advice directed toward someone starting on a new stage of their life might very well apply as you figure out the next step in your career.

Know that you aregraduation in charge of your own fate. Don’t be afraid to mess up. Act with honor and integrity. Find work you love.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

JEFF BEZOS: Everything you are comes from your choices.

From Bezos’ 2010 commencement speech at Princeton:

“Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life — the life you author from scratch on your own — begins.

“How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?

“Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?

“Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?

“Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

“Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?

“Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?

“Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?

“Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

“When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?

“Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?

“Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?

“I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story. “

CONAN O’BRIEN: Success is a lot like a bright white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it.

From his 2000 commencement speech to Harvard:

“But my mistakes have been necessary. I’ve dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed, your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Success is a lot like a bright white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it.

“I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of the Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.

“So that’s what I wish for all of you—the bad as well as the good. Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over.”

CAROL BARTZ: The gloom and doom of today’s job market is not going to shape your future. The economy’s cyclical. Get used to it.

From her 2012 commencement address to UW Madison:

“Look past the gloom and doom headlines, and actually don’t believe that the events of today are the ones that are going to shape your future. Because your work life is very, very long. You’re the first generation that is preparing for a 50-year work life, and you know why. You have to support all of us.

“You know, that probably sounds like an eternity now, and you’re probably saying let me first get a job and then I’ll worry about working 50 years, but truly, for all kinds of reasons, health reasons, economic reasons, most of you will be working into your ’70s and ’80s, which actually isn’t all that bad. Retirement now at 62 and 65 as we think of it will be a thing of the past. You know, think of instead of this as a burden as a series of opportunities. In fact, people used to go to a job and stay in that job forever.

“That doesn’t happen anymore. How boring is that? So think of it as a chance to find and discover new things. If you start a job or business this summer or fall or a year from now, you’re going to realize how much runway you actually have. In the past, people talked about career ladders, and that’s what work felt like. If you were lucky, and you were diligent, and you sucked up and all that stuff, you went up the ladder. Do you want to do that, no. First of all, ladders are very unstable. Do a career pyramid so you have a great base, you can change your mind, you can do a lot of different things.”

STEVE JOBS: Don’t settle.

From his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford:

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

BRADLEY WHITFORD: At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.

From 2004 commencement speech to University of Wisconsin – Madison:

“Take action. Every story you’ve ever connected with, every leader you’ve ever admired, every puny little thing that you’ve ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life. Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair. You will inevitably make mistakes. Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.

“But I do want you to be an actor in your own life. Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen — yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”

HENRY KRAVIS: Relativism is not an option; it is all about honesty and loyalty.

From his 2011 commencement speech to Columbia Business School:

“Professional integrity begins with personal integrity. You cannot get away with the idea ‘our product has fewer defects than the competitor’s’ or ‘our service is not as bad as others’.’ Relativism is not an option; it is all about honesty and loyalty. These are absolutes. Trust me, they will make your lives simpler — and they carry their own rewards.”

 

What Are You Waiting For? Procrastination and the Job Search

Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

You’ve probably heard it said that looking for a job IS a job, and a full-time one at that. This might explain why so many people are willing to put off important aspects of the job search; the thought of spending 40 hours a week on the job search is enough to frighten off the most dedicated job seeker. When you spend that amount of time at a paid job there are tangible rewards: getting paid, the satisfaction of doing good work, recognition from your boss, socializing with co-workers, and so on.

The rewards of the job search may seem few and far between by comparison, which leads many people to procrastinate. The internalconversation might go something like this:

Starting tomorrow, I’m really going to focus on my job search!

flowchart

I’m going to really work on my job search as soon as I get home from driving the kids to school.

Now that I’m home, I’m going to look for a job. I just need to throw this load of laundry in, then I’m going to focus until it’s time to take Mom to her doctor’s appointment.

I’d better check my email first – there could be a message from an employer!

While I’m online, I should check my Facebook.

Oops, look at the time – I don’t really have time to do anything, so I’ll wait until I get home from that doctor’s appointment.

I need to get dinner started. I’ll look for a job after dinner/after the kids go to bed/after this TV show.

I’m too tired to work on the job search. I’ll start fresh tomorrow.

And so on.

There are actually several different kinds of procrastination:

Procrastination is voluntarily delaying an activity, even though you know there will be negative consequences. Strategic delay is putting off a decision or activity because the benefits of doing something else first outweigh the negative consequences of whatever we’re putting off. Self-handicapping is avoiding effort in order to avoid potential failure. And there are situations we put ourselves into that help us procrastinate, like social loafing (groups of people assigned a task do less work than each individual normally would) and waiting until last-minute deadline pressure forces us to work (arousal procrastination). (Source: “Getting Around to Procrastination” by Romeo Vitelli, PhD.)

ProcrastinationWe put off tasks that are unpleasant, difficult, or unrewarding, and occasional procrastination isn’t a problem. When it starts to become a regular habit or have serious consequences, it can be helpful to understand WHAT you’re avoiding and WHY you’re avoiding it.

A favorite activity of procrastinators is busy-work; that is, doing some kind of activity that makes you look and feel busy, even if it’s not moving you closer to your goal. If you feel like you’re spending a lot of time on job search activities but not making any progress, try keeping a log and see how you’re really spending your time. Are you procrastinating more than you thought? Here are a few tips to stay focused:

Have a written plan

Know what you want to accomplish in a given hour, day, or week. Breaking down a seemingly-huge task into smaller pieces can make it feel more achievable and help keep you focused.

Schedule your time

Write down job search time on your calendar and avoid competing commitments. You don’t have to schedule 40 hours a week, but you do need to set aside regular time to work on your job search.

Keep your commitment to yourself

Just as you’d keep an appointment scheduled with your doctor, you need to treat your job search time seriously. Don’t let day-to-day commitments sidetrack you.

Rethink your plan

If you can never, ever find the interest or energy to pursue your job search, it may be worthwhile to examine your goals. Would you feel more motivated if you were looking in a different direction?

Be nice to yourself

You don’t have to dedicate every waking moment of your life to the job search. Once you’ve completed your scheduled tasks for the day, be done. It’s okay to have fun, pursue hobbies, and have a social life – in fact, doing things you enjoy will help keep you energized and better able to focus the next day.

Being a Good One

Career, Job search, Uncategorized

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Abraham Lincoln: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”Abraham Lincoln

Most people who feel they’re struggling in the job search are having difficulty deciding what they want to do. With all the upheaval in the world of work in the last couple of decades, there’s no longer any such thing as a permanent job or a lifelong career, and sometimes we’re left wondering “What’s next?” Our career search plans and expectations haven’t necessarily kept up with the times.

Here’s what I hear every week: “I’ll do anything.” “I’m open to any kind of work.” “I just want to get my foot in the door.”

If we were really honest with ourselves – and not speaking from fear and anxiety – we’d admit that not every job is equally appealing. People love to use the example “I can’t even get a job at McDonald’s!” – they forget that hiring decisions are business decisions. If the manager at that McDonald’s hires the first person who is capable of running the register or cooking the burgers, s/he has solved a problem or filled a need (at least for the moment). But if that new employee is already on the lookout for something better, a few months later that manager is going to be in the same position of looking for another employee. That manager has a responsibility to find someone who wants that job, not just wants it until something better comes along. If you’re going to do something – be a good one. Be all in.

We’ve become so used to thinking about the job search in terms of what we don’t have, it can be easy to forget that we actually do have skills to offer the right employer. It’s our responsibility as job seekers to articulate the value we bring – and this starts with self-knowledge. Have you recently considered:

  •  What kind of work setting brings out the best version of you? If you really love working with people, a job sitting in front of a computer in a cubicle somewhere is going to suck the life out of you. If being with people exhausts you, don’t pursue jobs that require constant contact with others. It’s easier to be “a good one” when you like where you work.
  • What do you absolutely NOT want to do? Just because you’ve done something in the past doesn’t mean you’re stuck doing it in the future. While you may take a “survival job” in the short term, your job search is also an opportunity to consider where you want to go and start taking the steps needed to get there.
  • Remember that it’s not the employers’ responsibility to guess what you want to do or understand what your skills are. If you can’t explain what you would bring to this new job, don’t expect someone else to do it for you. This is the foundation of your career search, your resume, your networking conversations, your interview answers – take the time to understand yourself and help your next employer see what you’ll contribute.
  • Get the word “just” out of your vocabulary. “I was just a waitress.” “I was just a mom.” “I was just a driver.” You have to believe you have something to offer before anyone else can believe it. Whatever you were, you were a good one – and you can be good at the next thing you do, too.
  • Know your audience. If you want to work in a particular industry or company, go into those conversations armed with better reasons than “I want a job with a pension” or “I know the industry.” Like people, employers want to feel special – why did you choose this company over a competitor? What is appealing about this industry? How well do you understand the day-to-day tasks? Going into a job search without knowledge of what you want and why you want it is like going on a blind date and telling your date, “I’ll go out with you until someone I’m actually interested in comes along.” Focus your attention on the job you want and you’re more likely to find an opportunity to do it – and be a good one.

In a tough economy, it can be easy to fall into the trap of chasing after a job you don’t really want, just to be employed again. Think about quality over quantity – focus on the things you’re good at, the things you’re interested in, the things you want for yourself – and you’re on the way to being “a good one,” whatever it is.

“That’s Not My Job!” – Flexibility in the Workplace

Career, Job search, Uncategorized

This is a story about four people named Everybody, SomebodyAnybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.not_my_job

Something like this probably happens in most workplaces, at some time or another. There’s a job that nobody wants to do, because:

  • it’s boring/time-consuming/gross/thankless/menial
  • everyone is already busy
  • it’s not in their area of responsibility
  • they’ve already done it and feel it’s someone else’s turn
  • they lack the skills or training to do it

In a competitive job market, employees typically don’t have the luxury of saying “That isn’t my job.” If you’re tempted to pass the buck, consider the consequences:

  • Important tasks may not get done at all. When it comes to cleaning, maintenance, and other routine tasks, leaving the mess for someone else can also lead to compromises in safety and efficiency.
  • If undesirable tasks get pushed down the chain of command, the people at the bottom end up doing all the lousy jobs and are less likely to stay. When those people leave, guess who gets stuck doing their jobs?
  • Bad attitudes are contagious. Refuse to pitch in, and your co-workers are sure to remember it next time you need help with something.
  • Be the person who says, “Sure, I’ll help with that,” and your boss is more likely to remember who looks out for the good of the company during the next round of layoffs.
  • Become cross-trained in different tasks or functional areas and you’ll get a reputation as the “go-to” person. You’re more likely to be considered for collaborative projects with other teams or internal moves or promotions.
  • You were hired to solve a problem or fill a need, not just to do tasks. Find a way to solve a problem and you’ve demonstrated that you can be valuable to the company no matter how much the job changes.

not my job 2If you legitimately don’t have the time or training to take on extra work, look for other ways to contribute and ease the workload on the entire team. You shouldn’t be expected to take on unrealistic workloads or tasks in which lack of training could present a hazard to yourself or others, but your first response should be finding ways to demonstrate your value to the company even if it means stepping outside of your job description.

Extra Certifications: Why didn’t I do this when I was employed?

Career, Job search

I thought I would write a brief blog post about the importance of obtaining specialized certifications or continuing training WHILE you are working.

One of the interesting things about working in Workforce Development as a Case Manager/Career Planner is working with customers that come in after they have been laid off and want us to pay for additional certifications that they believe they need to be more marketable.  While this is a logical step, I always wonder why they didn’t think about that when they were working.Dave

I completely understand that we have a lot of obligations while we are working.  More than likely our work could take up a large amount of time.  Some people can work anywhere from 40 to 60 hours per week.  Add in family responsibilities, unexpected emergencies or just not having the money to pursue something that could make us more marketable not just in our current job but in case of the situation where we become unemployed.

I talked with my sister not long ago and her husband will be laid off at the end of the year.  He has been doing Information Technology (IT) work for a long time.  He finally accomplished getting his Bachelors in IT; however, he has mostly been doing some project management activities more than straight IT.  I advised my sister now would be the perfect time for him to get his IT Project Management certification.  He will have a much better time in landing a position in a very short time.  These certifications really don’t cost a large amount of money.

What really drove me to write this is the fact that under our Workforce Investment Act program, we don’t have much training money at all due to recent actions at the federal level.  Coming into a career center expecting to get funding when you have a degree and adequate work experience will present a very difficult challenge.

Believe me when I tell you, I’m not fond of giving people bad news.  I prefer not to have food or worse thrown at me when I am out and about.