September 26, 2007
Build Your Team to Last
A firm foundation is essential to building a home or relationship that will last. And that extends to your work life. As a manager, getting a strong team in place from the beginning will only make it easier to ultimately get the job done.
But assembling a winning team doesn't come naturally to many managers. How do you recruit the right people? Keep them happy? Get them to work together efficiently while building individual skills and talents?
To help, we've put together these articles on creating a lasting team. Check them out, along with these additional Monster resources on keeping your best on board:
- "Managers as Motivators: Effective Motivational Tools"
- "Retain Workers with Personal Perks"
- "Why Good Employees Leave"
September 24, 2007
New Season, New Job?
Even if it did feel like summer for many of us over the weekend, a look at the calendar tells us that as of yesterday, fall has arrived.
And around the house, the start of a new season usually means making a few changes, like:
- Replacing the batteries in your smoke alarms.
- Boxing up or donating clothing to make room in your wardrobe for garb that will match the new temperatures.
- Changing your home décor.
On the personal and professional level, the equinoxes and solstices are a perfect time to take stock of your career, usually by asking yourself questions like these:
- Have you been meeting your goals at work -- both those set by your boss and the ones you set for yourself?
- What meaningful projects do you plan to take on during the next three months?
- Is your career progressing the way you want it to? If it isn’t, who or what is holding you back?
- Are you doing the kind of work you really want to do?
As you make this self-assessment, you may realize that turning over a new career leaf -- it is autumn, after all -- is exactly what you need, and that you’ll have to add one more series of items to your new-season to-do list: Sit down at computer, update resume and start job search.
As you kick around ideas for that next job, consider entering Monster’s Test Drive Your Dream Job competition, too. If you win, you’ll have a chance to try out a new career -- on us -- for three days. In the process, you just might discover the line of work you should have jumped into several seasons ago.
For more information on this topic, check out our Starting Points, Essentials section.
September 19, 2007
Don’t Commit These 5 Career Killers
We all want to succeed at work. But we’ve all done things in the workplace that really damage the image and reputation. If it’s once in awhile, fine. It’s when they become habits that you need to watch out.
How do you keep your career on solid ground? Here are five career killers to avoid:
- Unreliability: I once worked with a guy who vanished right before the next issue of his magazine was supposed to go to production. Guess who got his work dumped on her? You guessed it. Not only does such flakiness tick off your boss, it aggravates your coworkers -- the people you need to have your back.
- Erratic Behavior: I also worked with a woman who took absolutely everything the wrong way. I swear, she could fabricate a plot against her out of “good morning.” It got to the point where no one would talk to her at all. And if no one’s talking to you, it gets hard to get your work done.
- Laziness: You’re being paid to do a job, not listen to music, surf the Internet or make personal calls. It’s OK to do those things in moderation, but if someone needs your help, drop the nonwork activity without complaint and pitch in.
Got any more career killers? Post them below in the comments. And here’s some more advice to keep you happily employed:
September 17, 2007
'Mr. Nice Guy' Isn’t Part of Belichick’s Job Description
It wasn’t the best of times for New England Patriots head football coach Bill Belichick last week. On Monday, rumors began swirling that the Patriots had been accused of recording the opposition’s defensive hand signals with a video camera on the sidelines -- a clear violation of league rules -- in the team’s season-opening victory over the New York Jets.
By midweek, it was clear those rumors had plenty of substance to them, and that the Patriots had been caught red-handed. And on Thursday, the punishment was delivered, with National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell assessing Belichick a whopping $500,000 fine and stripping the team of at least one of its 2008 draft picks.
Around the country, there was very little sympathy for Belichick over the penalty. And with good reason: By most accounts, Belichick is a very difficult person to work with. He’s abrupt, abrasive and unfriendly and often treats press conferences like a root canal.
But in the win/loss department -- which is what a head coach is ultimately paid for -- Belichick is among the very best. He’s led his team to three Super Bowls in the last six years and is often hailed as a genius football tactician. A report also surfaced last night that in spite of the recent controversy surrounding Belichick, he had just signed a new multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract extension.
This all leads me to ask: Is the bottom line the only line in the workplace? Is being a jerk to coworkers and subordinates and creating an uncomfortable working environment for others considered acceptable so long as the perpetrator of the hostility is a high achiever?
Here are some Monster resources on working with jerks:
- "Competent Jerks and Lovable Fools: The Likeability Factor at Work"
- "Expert Answers on Workplace Bullying"
- "From the Monster Blog: “How Much Bad Behavior is Enough?”
- "From the Monster Blog: “If Bitter Is the New Black, What’s Nice?"
September 14, 2007
My Top 8 Tips to College Students
It’s been a few months since I’ve graduated from college, and I must say, now that fall is upon us, it’s a little strange to be driving to work instead of rolling out of bed and heading to class.
Now that I’m out of school (for the time being, at least), I realize how great the college environment is. There is so much at your disposal, and so much time to explore. As I look back at all the opportunities I had, I thought I’d impart some advice to anyone who has time left at their soon-to-be alma mater. The following are what I consider to be the most important things I did (or should have done better):
- Continue Studying a Language: The world is only getting smaller. Not only will foreign-language proficiency make you a better candidate to employers, but it will give you travel opportunities in the future.
- Go Abroad: Studying overseas can give those language skills some context and can serve to enhance and solidify them. Throwing yourself into an atmosphere where you have to employ the vocabulary and grammar you studied back on campus will not only help you become fluent, but will teach you about a different culture and also force you to be resourceful. My semesters in Paris and in London were without question the best semesters of my college career.
- Use Your Liberal Arts Credits to Take Interesting Classes: Now that I’m out of school, I envy my friends who can still decide to take classes on subjects like Film Criticism or Soviet Politics. I took a class on Hinduism my junior year, and it opened my eyes to a religion I never would have explored otherwise.
- Incorporate Your Other Interests into Your Coursework: For many people, their majors are their interests. But if you’re like me, your major isn’t necessarily your passion. I chose journalism because I like to write, but I’m even more passionate about architecture. By the time I realized this, I had no time to change majors. So I took classes in architectural history and focused my news and feature stories on local architecture and urban design. That exploratory drive most journalists possess suddenly activated, and I became a better writer because of it.
- Don’t Just Do an Internship To Say You Did It: People want to hear about the tangible results of your internship. It’s pointless to work somewhere if you can’t come away with accomplishments. Underneath the big bold company title on your resume, you’ll want to be able to say “I completed x and y, and was responsible for z.” In interviews, if all you can say was “it was a learning experience,” then really, it probably wasn’t. So when you’re at your internship, make sure you volunteer for assignments, no matter how simple or boring they may be. The more you ask to do, the more you’ll learn and ultimately, the more responsibility you’ll be given.
- Use Internships/Jobs as Networking Opportunities: There is no better time to start networking than while you’re still in school. Talk to everyone at your internship, not just your boss. See what people do. Set up informational interviews with employees from different departments. You might even find a mentor, which is really important, because that person will take an interest in your future, giving you more opportunities on the job and advocating for you down the line. (Side note: People want to help you. If you work hard and prove yourself, your contacts will go out of their way to help you make connections).
- For All You Seniors, Don’t Freak Out: Easier said than done, right? The fact is, you’ll have so many options out of school. Out of all my friends, a lot have jobs, some are in graduate school and a few are traveling and taking some time off. Just don’t think the second you graduate you need to be in your dream job or at point A of an expected career track. Because someday, when you are managing however many people, hopefully you’ll look back at some unconventional experiences and will understand that it was those risky choices that gave you, as Penelope Trunk would say, that braided career.
Clearly, I’m no expert; I’ve been out of school not six months yet. But I’ve already learned a lot about how my college experiences will help me in the future. And speaking from someone who started having anxiety attacks around this time last year, it’s so helpful to be able to look forward with confidence.
Oh, and speaking of looking forward, that brings me to my last point:
- Enjoy yourself; tonight is Friday night!
Here are some more resources for thinking about your career after college:
- “The Benefits of Temping for College Students and Grads”
- “Five Resume Tips for College Students”
- “Grad School or the Real World?"
- “Turn Postgraduation Panic into Action”
For more on this subject, check out our College
Students/Recent Grads section.
September 13, 2007
The Value of Face-to-Face Networking
If you read my posts here on the Monster Blog with any regularity, then you know I’m an unabashed advocate for online social networking. I believe sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning enable us to connect and engage in meaningful online conversations around shared interests.
But as helpful as these online tools are, there’s nothing quite like networking in a face-to-face setting. Two events here in the Boston area over the past few weeks helped drive that point home for me -- a breakfast for two dozen social-media enthusiasts that I organized and a Tech Cocktail evening that brought together hundreds of entrepreneurial-minded professionals. Both occasions afforded me the opportunity to meet and better get to know several local passionate and talented colleagues in the new-media space.
So with those experiences fresh in my mind, here are a few suggestions on how to make the most out of an in-the-flesh networking event:
- Look for New Faces: While catching up with long-running friends and colleagues is always fun and is crucial to strengthening existing relationships, make an effort to speak with people you don’t know. These fresh conversations can lead to new business ventures and employment opportunities, too.
- Have a Plan: While there’s something to be said for serendipity at networking events, don’t leave everything to chance. If an attendee list is published prior to the event, spend some time studying it. Identify two or three people who you want to connect with, and prep yourself with a couple of talking points for each of those discussions.
- Netweave: As David Cutler writes, netweaving “put[s] a spin on the traditional networking process. [Ask,] ‘What can I do for you?’ rather than ‘What can you do for me?’ The results are fantastic.”
- Respect Others’ Time: Remember that you’re not the only one looking to make new connections. Once you’ve spent a few minutes with someone, offer your thanks for their time, exchange business cards and move on.
- Don’t Forget to Write: Those sparks of conversations will fade quickly if you don’t follow up with the people you’ve met. Within one or two days of the event, plow through that new stack of business cards and start sending emails or making phone calls. A written message can be as short as a few sentences, but be sure to include a nugget of what the two of you talked about to jog your new contact’s memory.
Want more advice from Monster on the art of networking? Try these resources:
- "Audio: Learn How to Network Face-to-Face Like a Pro"
- "Networking for the Shy"
- "Six Steps for Successful Networking"
- "Networking Opportunities are Everywhere"
- "Be the Star of Your Own Network"
For more information on this subject, check out our Networking section.
September 12, 2007
Take a Thinking Break, for Your Work’s Sake
Work is a busy place. In most cases, you are somehow responsible for supplying a good or a service. And the perception is that whomever produces the most, wins. But here’s my advice: The next time you’re on the job -- or for that matter, in your job search -- studiously producing whatever it is you are responsible for or sending out as many resumes as you can, stop.
Yep. Just take some time to stop and think.
Now I know this seems like a luxury. But nothing can be improved upon if you keep grinding on your duties as fast as you can. And sometimes it’s even worth taking a hit productivity-wise to improve your processes for efficiency, evaluate your service to be sure it’s really the best or rethink if the job openings you’re responding to are what you want.
As Rands in Repose considers thinking in this blog entry, it’s the difference between being reactive and proactive. In short, taking that hit in time and productivity to think about what you’re doing can put you ahead of the curve and yield better results in the end. And he even offers how-tos for group brainstorming.
So, are you ready to get started? Check out our special report: “Good Thinking for Your Career.”
September 11, 2007
Workplace Memories of 9/11
Six years ago this morning, I was driving to work, listening to my favorite morning show on the radio, when the traffic reporter broke in. “A plane has hit the World Trade Center in New York,” she said, her voice trying not to shake. “There are some really scary pictures here.” The DJ told her to keep us all updated, and I pulled into the parking lot, not realizing one of the most memorable days of my life was about to start.
When I got to my desk, my cube neighbor, who had a radio, told me a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. It was then I realized the first hit was no accident. I called my now-husband to tell him the news, and he was concerned and confused. At that point, I had to go, since I had a meeting with a visiting German colleague.
My workmates and I were trying to stay business as usual to avoid upsetting our visitor, but that soon became impossible as a flurry of news reports continued to come in and everyone gathered around the TVs and radios we had on hand. We soon learned another plane had hit the Pentagon, and another had gone down in Pennsylvania. Work ground to a halt. We all burned up the phone lines making sure our families were OK. I emailed my college roommate, whose offices were in downtown Manhattan, to check on her. It turned out she was all right -- her office was across the street from Ground Zero, but she didn’t see anything except on the news.
Meanwhile, our German visitor received word all flights were grounded indefinitely, and since he was due to go home on September 12, he held an anguished conversation in rapid-fire German with his worried wife to let her know he would be delayed. His quick trip to the US wound up turning into more than a week in the States.
September 11, 2001, was one of the most bizarre, upsetting and difficult days of my life. As we tried to piece together what had happened, everyone felt under attack, vulnerable and scared as hell. I was also furious that someone would do this to us and murder so many innocent people. What helped that dark day, and the hard days that came after, was banding together with my colleagues, sharing information and supporting each other when we could. As horrible as that time was, it made us forget differences of workplace hierarchy and social status and really help one another out. For that, I am eternally grateful. And six September 11ths later, on a similar late-summer Tuesday, I still am.
What are your memories of September 11? How did you and your workplace cope? Post your comments below.
September 10, 2007
My Top 10 Wishes for Working Parents
Sunday is Working Parents Day, and it’s got me thinking: What would be my top ten wishes for working parent support? Below is my list, in no particular order of priority. Feel free to add to it as you deem fit.
· An End to the “Should She or Shouldn’t She?” Working Mother Debate: Moms seek employment for the same reasons everyone else does. We need to stop wasting our energy on whether they “should” work and start focusing on how we can support men and women who have dependent care.
· Supportive Bosses: Research suggests that a supportive boss can make or break your job. In my own research of some 200-plus women for my book, The Mom Economy, a supportive boss was the only common denominator among every woman who said she had very or extremely family-friendly work.
· Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave: After adopting or giving birth to a child, every parent should be able to take leave. If that leave is not paid, some cannot. Men should get paid paternity leave too.
· Greater Use of Alternative Work Arrangements Without Penalty: As Sylvia Ann Hewlett points out in her book Off-Ramps and On-Ramps, we need to rethink paths of advancement. Careers tend to take off during the child-rearing years, when women tend to scale back. Retirement is occurring later, job tenures are shorter, and alternative work arrangements like telecommuting and flexible schedules are becoming more common. We need to be able to pursue these options and still advance.
· A New School Calendar: Three-month summers and short school days worked fine when Mom stayed home. Now, for working parents, summer vacations and after-school care is a scramble at best. Once more, the length of the summer holiday means children often regress. Everyone -- children and adults alike -- would benefit from a new school calendar year. Teachers would have to be paid more, but that too is long overdue.
· A Supportive Spouse: It’s much easier to be a working parent when the other parent is involved, both emotionally and physically. This involvement includes sharing household chores and childcare responsibilities.
· A Support Network: I have a great neighbor. When I’m stuck, she helps me out. When she’s stuck, I try to do the same. I wish that for everyone.
· On-Site Childcare or Childcare Assistance That Includes School-Age Care: On-site school-age care? Now, that’s a novel concept. I don’t know how to do it, but can’t it be done? And while employers are providing some form of childcare assistance, can they please make a place for breast-feeding moms?
· College Savings Plans: With the cost of college rising, saving for our kids’ college is not only important, but growing more difficult. Note to employers: Openly offer plans, promote them and make them as available as a retirement plan -- complete with a company match.
· Universal Healthcare Coverage: No one should go without healthcare, especially kids.
For related information, check out these additional Monster resources:
From the Monster Blog:
September 07, 2007
A Post I Should Have Written Days Ago
I know I’m not alone in these bad habits, and they have easy explanations. I procrastinate, because, like most human beings, I like to avoid unpleasantness, and that extends to my tasks. I’m chronically late for two reasons: in my constant need to get more done, I don’t allow myself enough time to get places, and I hate getting up in the morning.
It seems that while these bad habits have simple causes, they also have simple solutions, which boil down to planning ahead. To that point, I try to take on the most onerous task of the day first so there’s no room for procrastination. And I have made an effort to leave for work a bit earlier in the morning, although both sleep and a Dunkin’ Donuts location along my route can complicate things.
How do you deal with bad habits like procrastination and lateness? Tell us in the comments below. And in the meantime, check out these Monster resources on the subject:
- From the Monster Blog: “Is Procrastination a Gift?”