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The worst mistake you can make in a new job?

Don’t let your enthusiasm take over when starting a new job. Here’s what you should avoid in order to get off on the right foot.

There are lots of mistakes you can make in a new job-showing up late on your first day, making personal phone calls all day, and wearing a tutu all qualify as bad steps. But those are all, at least I hope, pretty obvious to you.

The worst thing you can do, and it’s a mistake a lot of people do out of enthusiasm, is to storm into a new workplace and start making suggestions for improvement. While you may expect a new employer and all of your co-workers to stop in their tracks and exalt in your keen perception, it won’t happen that way.

Here’s an unrelated story to explain: A couple of years ago I was at a party at which I was to meet the new girlfriend of a dear friend of mine. This woman happened to be a hairstylist, who for some reason, was eager to make a good impression on me. About five minutes into the evening, she pointed at me and said, “I can fix that.” I must have looked perplexed because then she said, “Your hair. I can fix it.” Now, maybe it’s me but I’m not sure how a statement like that could be received any way but poorly. I just mumbled something about my not being aware my hair was broken.

So, now I’m not saying you’re going to charge into the CIO’s office and tell him his hair is all wrong. But criticizing (which is what you’re doing by offering a “better” way) a business process that has long been in place can feel like the same thing. You cannot expect someone, even an entity like an employer, to be gracious when told indirectly that they’ve been doing things all wrong.

This is not to say that the time will not come for your insights. It will. But it’s more important to learn the lay of the prevailing land before you presume to suggest changes. It’s also important that you prove yourself first so that others will take your suggestions more seriously.

Credit to the guys at TechRepublic for the original article.


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Positivity in the workplace!

Chronic negativity can be a career killer. Here are some ways to know if you’re a chronic complainer and what you can do about it.

Years ago, there was a commercial for Life cereal in which two little boys push a bowl of cereal over to their little brother to see if it tastes good. “Let’s get Mikey. He hates everything,” they say. The little brother is adorable and it’s a cute little ad spot.

But when an adult is known for “hating everything,” it’s not so cute, especially in the workplace.  Some people confuse negativity with superior intelligence, as in “I am cognitively able to find the hole in every plan.”

If you think having a problem with everything presents you in a smarter, more discriminating light, you would be wrong.  Unless, of course, with every problem you find, you have a solution. But it usually doesn’t work that way.

Negative people get in a groove (or a rut, if you will) and automatically “go negative” in any situation. The human brain can become addicted to negativity and when they criticize something it gives them a “fix.”

I would never advocate becoming a pinwheels-for-eyes Mirth Machine (or this guy), but it’s much better for your well-being (and your career) if you strike a happy medium. And if you are a pessimist at heart, that’s fine. I’m not here to change your world outlook. But I can offer you a few tips for curbing your negative behavior in the workplace:

Hold your tongue first. Rather than just blurting out what you feel (or rolling your eyes, or sighing as if you have the weight of all the world’s stupid people on your shoulder), take a moment to be aware of what you’re actually feeling.

Try to get out of the habit. The fact is, you see more of what you notice. Have you ever learned a new term and then it seems like people are using it everywhere you turn? They’re not-it’s just that it’s what you are noticing more. If you focus on people’s faults, you will find even more of them.

Become self-aware. It’s hard to be objective about yourself. Ask your spouse or a close friend for candid feedback.

Assess your needs. What are you trying to accomplish by complaining? Are you legitimately trying to make a process better or are you just trying to make a process look bad?

Decide to change. Complaining is a habit. If you’re aware of what you’re doing, it will be easier to stop the negativity before it makes itself known in a meeting or in a group project.

If you consciously work at it, you can become known as the person people can come to to get honest feedback, both good and bad. And that’s a great quality.

Credit to the guys at TechRepublic for the original article.


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Why do smart people do such dumb things?

As its Friday – time for something a bit more light-hearted…

Career-ending scandals, sexual and otherwise, seem to be everywhere these days. Why do intelligent people shoot themselves in the foot so often?

As the year is winding down with a brand new sex scandal in the news, it’s forced me to take a look at why these things keep happening. I know that some people are just depraved, or act that way sometimes. I know that some people have egos that can’t be punctured. What I don’t get is how an otherwise intelligent person does disgraceful things without understanding the possible fallout.

(If you thought that the tech sector was above and beyond any kind of headline-grabbing scandals, you would be wrong. Even before the bizarre McAfee deal, there were so many that they had to be narrowed down into a top ten list.)

Unfortunately, whatever sector a scandal falls in, one thing is shared: They involve moral corruption, arrogance, or head-slapping cluelessness. And in some of the more entertaining scandals, all three of these play a role. Take, for example, number ten in the top ten list above: The former CEO of IT services company Savvis, Robert McCormick, got busted in 2005 after he and several associates rang up a $241,000 tab on the company American Express card during a single visit to a topless bar in New York. (McCormick disputed the charges, saying that they were all bogus except for $20,000. Like $20,000 is understandable.) The New York Daily News dubbed him “The Lap Dunce,” a phrase I cannot wait to use in conversation, by the way.

I’m not sure that the moral corruption that plays a part in scandals can be “treated.” I’m sure some of you may argue stringently otherwise. And, in my opinion, arrogance can only be cured with a tremendous fall from grace.

But, like I said, I just don’t understand how people like Mark Hurd, former CEO of HP, who is featured in the top ten list twice, can be so intelligent on one hand and so clueless on the other. Perhaps arrogance and good judgment can’t co-exist?

Credit to the guys at TechRepublic for the original article.


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The dangers of accepting a counter-offer

You may think that getting and accepting a counter-offer from your company is flattering. You may have to think again.

It’s pretty tempting to think you’re quite the valuable commodity when your company offers you a higher salary to keep you from leaving to go work for another company. Not so fast, hot stuff. Here are a couple of things to think about before you accept that offer.

You will be looked on here on out as a bit of a traitor.

Sure, you ultimately decided to stay, but in your company’s eyes, you made an effort to find another job. And you might have interviewed on a day you called in sick, or asked to leave early using some excuse.

It may be a little naïve, but to your managers, your loyalty can’t be counted on. And if you were just using the other job offer as leverage to get what you wanted from your employer in the first place, it can be construed as a kind of blackmail. People don’t tend to forget that kind of thing, especially when promotions opportunities come around.

Money won’t solve your problems.

If you began looking for another job because you were unhappy for various reasons, you can be assured that a little bump in salary is not going to make those issues disappear.

You’ve burned a bridge with the company that wanted to hire you.

If you tell the manager of the second company who was making you an offer that you’ve decided to stay with your current company, he or she is going to take note. If you pulled the rug out from under them once, they’ll be very sure not to give you the opportunity in the future.

Last thoughts

By accepting a counteroffer from your company, you could be changing the dynamics of your relationship forever. And the counteroffer could just be buying time for your company until they can find your replacement–someone they feel will be glad to be where you are.

Credit to the guys over at TechRepublic for the original article.


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Future-proof your career

This article has been reproduced from a feature published by The Guardian. Credit to the original author, Rhymer Rigby.

Future proofing your career and being ahead of the curve are two sides of the same coin. If you’re doing one correctly, you should also be doing the other. But they’re not quite the same thing.

Future-proofing your career means ensuring you are as employable in the future as you are now. You need to stand back and think about your job strategically, rather than just letting it happen to you. Look at the bigger picture: what’s happening in your sector; where’s the growth; which jobs are vulnerable; how do you measure up?

Think about what you know

As the world speeds up, your technical skills will have an ever shorter lifespan and you need to learn constantly. Don’t just confine yourself to your field, either. Read up on fields adjacent to yours, the idea being that if your role disappears, you have other options. You don’t want to be the workplace equivalent of an animal that can live only in one species of tree. Rewrite your CV every year; if you can’t think of something new to put on it, you need to think about where you’re going.

Look at your sector and organisation

You should be working in an organisation that’s facing the future head on rather than one whose best years are behind it. The same is true of your sector. You want an industry which is driving change, rather than one that is being pummelled by it.

Work on your relationships

People often view building working relationships as a luxury when times are tough. But being liked and trusted can be more of a differentiator than being competent. Keep in touch with your network and ensure you’re visible and easy to find. A network that extends beyond your workplace and includes clients, headhunters and competitors is a good insurance policy if things go bad.

Aim to be agile and adaptable

Rather than having the mindset of someone who is happy to serve out their time, be psychologically ready to move and the kind of person who lands on their feet; a realistic idea of your abilities and what they’re worth will help. Focus on the positives be optimistic; when companies look at making redundancies, those who have an upbeat, can-do attitude are very rarely first in line.

If future proofing your career is dealing with bigger picture and long term, staying ahead of the curve is more immediate. It’s the kind of thing you can work on when you have 15 minutes to spare.

Broadly speaking there are two aspects to being ahead of the curve. One is informational. At its most basic, this is simply keeping up with the news that affects your industry. But those who truly want to be ahead will also keep abreast of areas that are either general or tangentially affect their industry. Being up to speed on general current affairs and areas beyond your immediate role is a good thing in itself, but is also likely to give you greater insights and vision.

The internet has made this far easier to do this. Look up TED talks that interest you, set up Google alerts for yourself and customers and follow influential people on Twitter. You do need to be selective, though.

The personal side involves identifying who and what can help you move forward in your career and working on these relationships; an example might be knowing what is important to not just your boss, but also your boss’s boss. Don’t forget office gossip either: it is often a better guide to what will be happening in three months time than the official channels.

Of course, there’s no point in being ahead of the curve, if you’re the only one who knows it. Demonstrate what you know, for example by emailing your boss interesting articles you’ve come cross across. Make yourself the go-to person in the office for your area and speak up in meetings. Put yourself forward, rather than hanging back. And spend some time around the watercooler immersing yourself in the organisation’s less formal sources of news.

Although all this might seem a lot, the trick is to make many of these actions habitual – and this is really where staying ahead of the curve segues seamlessly into future-proofing. On one hand, you read The Economist every week on the train and on the other, you do a gap-analysis on your career every six months. It’s about covering yourself in both the long and the short term and ensuring you’re the kind of person who looks forward to change, rather than fearing it.

Take a look at the origianl article over at the Guardian Careers Blog.


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7 Easy Steps To Ensure You Bounce Back After Getting Laid Off

‘In my 30 years working I have had two extended periods ‘between jobs’, and I learned some valuable lessons along the way that I’d like to share with you.

Both occasions I’ve been out of work have been in the last 10 years, and my personal experience of each was rather different.

Being between gigs is more common these days than it once was, of course. I’d been made redundant twice before many years ago, but fortunately ended up falling straight into another job.

 The first time I found myself without work, I didn’t manage things that well, and I’ll admit to showing early signs of depression after six-months or so on the lookout. I self-medicated with St John’s Wort, as I wanted to avoid the what I perceived to be the stigma of having to admit to being treated for depression.

In retrospect, I was rather one-dimensional in how I went about finding a new position. My idea of networking was to call a few friends and, after that failed, I quickly gave up. I tended to rely upon internet job sites, and spent a lot of time scouring email job lists. You can probably imagine how the seeds of depression quickly took root; it was all about rejection, helplessness, futility and little support.

I have to say, however (and with no little pride), that my most recent experience between jobs proved to be very different, and resulted in a positive outcome much more quickly. Here’s what I’ve learned from my experiences:

1. Be open in your attitude to opportunities.

It’s easy to define your potential just in terms of the roles you have undertaken, eg ‘I used to be a (enter last job title), so that’s what I need to look for now’. Look at your skills and strengths and see how they can apply to related opportunities. You don’t need to attempt to change career, but you may benefit if you widen your thinking. Even if someone offers you something you don’t want, listen and steer it around to explore opportunities you do.

2. Have a half page CV

The quality of my CV has ebbed and flowed. I recently realised that continual customisation (to fit it to each opportunity) had left it rather flabby, with key information being relegated too far back. You don’t really have a have two or three page CV any more, but rather a half page document with other information attached. As recruiters have less and less time to review resumes, if you don’t make the right impression with the right information in the first few lines, then you will likely miss out.

3. Be aware of and develop your brand

This sounds simple, but can be hard work. Here’s a few tips:

Get a decent email address; foxy@hotmail.com is wrong in so many ways!

Put a sensible voicemail greeting on your phone

Have some professional-looking personal cards printed – they aren’t expensive

Think about blogging

Build an effective profile on Linkedin and other networking and recruitment sites

Contribute to relevant discussions and forums demonstrating your knowledge and approach

4. Be sure to invest in your own future

Take time to build your knowledge and influence

Develop key network contacts, by meeting them for lunch or after work

Join discussion groups, especially ones you can get to physically, but also online gatherings in areas where you either already have expertise or want to develop it. It is amazing what rubs off just through mixing with experts

5. ‘No’ is only the end if you let it be

Most people want to help and don’t like saying ‘No’ to someone in need. This means that they probably want to say ‘Yes’ to your next request. This could be asking for any other good contacts, permission to contact them again at some point, feedback on your CV, etc.

Judge the right time to make contact again, though. Reach out too frequently, and you can exhaust their goodwill; too seldom and you may well have been forgotten.

6. Karma works

This is a rather personal belief, but if in my efforts to find a role I spotted an opportunity to help someone else, then I always did so. I expected nothing in return, but believed it would make it more likely that someone else would help me along the way. Of course when it worked, it also strengthened my network – which is no bad thing.

7. Keep smiling, even when it hurts

If it looks as if you’ve lost faith in yourself, why should others invest in you ? Keeps smiling, continue to take care about how you dress, and behave. We all have down times, but when you do, be careful. Spend it with close friends who know you and who may be able to lift you.

In summary, I may have been lucky second time around, but then again maybe I made my own luck. Looking back, I do think that I embraced all seven of these ideas more positively second time around and it helped…. a lot’.

 

This article was re-produced, you can read the original over at Here Is The City.