July 20, 2011
Job Seekers Are Changing Careers, Looking for Dream Jobs
This week at Monster, we've been discussing the idea of "dream jobs." We co-hosted a Twitter chat (with TalentCulture), in which we asked both career experts and job seekers questions such as "Do you think the idea of dream jobs is good or bad for job seekers -- does it encourage or discourage them?" and "How much of the responsibility for creating dream jobs is the employer's or boss's?"
For a recap of that conversation, read this TalentCulture blog post.
We also conducted site polls on this theme. In one, we asked site visitors, "Are you currently on the career path you want to stay on for the rest of your working life?"
More than 2,200 people responded. Only 14% said they absolutely were staying in their current career -- and a whopping 40% said that they were currently trying to change careers. That's a lot of career hopping! (For tips on handling career changes and other major life transitions, visit Monster.com's Life Changes section.)
An additional 14% said they were happy in their current career but might consider a change, while 32% said that they didn't care about a career -- they just wanted a job.
(Are you thinking of a career change but not sure what it should be? Read "6 Quick-Change Careers.")
Astronauts. Veterinarians. Princesses. These are some of the professions kids dream of going into -- and clearly, some are more realistic than others. In a 2010 poll, we asked site visitors, "Are you following the career path you most dreamed of when you were a kid?" And of the more than 4,000 people who responded, a large majority said no -- but that they "still daydream about it": 59%. This number might account for all the career switchers we have out there -- people proving that it's never to late to follow childhood dreams.
Another 14% also said they weren't following childhood career dreams -- but added "thank goodness." Of the yes answers, we had 12% saying they were living their childhood dreams and 14% saying they were in "a related field."
What do you think about "dream jobs"? Are you in the career you wanted as a kid? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, or find Monster on Facebook and talk to us there.
July 19, 2011
6 Tips on Coping with "Horrible Bosses"
So when your boss is crazy, cruel, or just plain old incompetent, how do you cope?
Shawn Achor, the author of "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work" and a well-known expert on positive psychology, offers these six tips on staying positive in a stressful workplace:
1. Train your brain to scan for the good. Say three things you’re grateful for twenty-one days in a row and you can literally re-wire your brain to be more positive.
2. Smile while you work. Research shows that bursts of positivity cause people to think more intelligently and creatively, and work more productively. When we’re happy, our neurons fire faster and more efficiently.
3. Brighten your environment. Everything around you—from the color of your walls to the mood of your coworkers—affects the way you think and feel. Surround your desk with pictures and objects that prime you for positivity—your mood and your brain will thank you.
4. Use your words. Neuroscientists have discovered that verbalizing thoughts can act like a wet blanket on the fire of negative emotions—the simple act of putting emotions into words immediately decreases their magnitude. Keeping a weekly diary also enhances your decision-making skills and improves your progress towards goals.
5. Invest in people. Smart people do stupid things during times of stress, like shutting down their social networks to focus on work. The greatest predictor of success during stress and challenge is the quantity and quality of your relationships. Strong social bonds enrich our daily lives, give meaning to our work, and even improve our physical health. Take time to strengthen these connections in your life.
6. Think about work as a sprint not a marathon. After two hours of continuous work, your brain function actually slows and your body starts to rapidly accumulate stress and strain. The secret to beating this pattern is to take strategically placed energy breaks throughout the day. Split up your work day into short sprints of 90-120 minutes, then take time for 5 minutes of recovery. You’ll feel more positive and see a big jump in your concentration and productivity.
For more tips, see "Seven Ways to Handle Your Dysfunctional Office."
How have you coped with a horrible boss? Share your stories in the Comments section.
July 14, 2011
Overcoming Job-Search Hurdles
We recently asked our friends on Monster's Facebook page about their biggest job-search hurdles, and how they overcame them. Here are five of their comments, as well as some expert advice to help you if you're facing similar challenges in your hunt for a new job:
1. K Bar Newman had one word for us: scams.
If you're looking for a job, you may occasionally come across a job posting that looks too good to be true. Word to the wise: it probably is. Don't let desperation or eagerness overtake your common sense. Generally speaking, if a potential employer asks you to make an upfront investment or perform work before a job offer is signed (or is imminent), you should be hearing warning bells. Research potential employers online before making a commitment.
(For more advice, check out Monster.com's Security Center.)
2. Mary Mueller said, "Let's face it. The biggest challenge in any job is if you are going to get along with the boss and whether your boss has a clue about how to handle authority."
And that's an excellent point! Remember that a job interview is not only about them assessing you. You should also be assessing whether the company (and the boss) is right for you. Ask your interviewer how the team works together, why the position is open, and so on, to get a feel for the environment.
(For more advice and tips, read "10 Warning Signs of a Toxic Boss at the Interview.")
And that can definitely be a problem on a resume, because it makes you look like a "job-hopper," which can be a turn-off for a recruiter or hiring manager. One way to provide context to a jumpy resume is to tell your story in your cover letter: "After my success at Company A, that company's financial situation forced layoffs. I then took a short-term job at Company B, where I …".
(For more advice and suggestions, read "Resume Dilemma: Employment Gaps and Job-Hopping.")
4. Mark Schiller said, "Hardest part is getting past inexperienced HR people who only do what the computer tells them to do instead of looking at possibilities and talents. That and the over-50 age discrimination that no one talks about."
And it's true that a bias against older workers does exist (sometimes unconsciously). One way to get around that (as well as to speed past HR people right to a hiring manager) is to network, network, network -- work those contacts! And to help you in that effort, Monster.com has a great new networking tool -- the BeKnown app -- that lets you develop a professional network on Facebook.
(For more advice and suggestions, read "Overcome Job Search Ageism.")
5. Tracie Kim Grenier worried that she wasn't getting called for interviews because her resume was getting lost in the shuffle: "There [are] so many people looking for work, I seem to get lost," she said.
One key to making sure your resume gets noticed is to customize it for the job you're applying for -- this is key to getting past resume-reading software. Use the language in the job post, and highlight your skills that match the skill requirements listed in the post.
(For more advice and suggestions, check out "Make Your Resume Stand Out in a Crowd.")
What are your job-search hurdles, and how have you gotten over them? Share your story in the Comments section or on our Facebook page, and find us on Twitter for daily career-advice tweets, follow @monstercareers.
July 13, 2011
Should You Connect to Your Boss on Professional Networking Sites?
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of buzz about BeKnown, Monster's new Facebook app that allows you to establish a professional network on Facebook. This new network -- which lets you connect to career-related contacts, without leaving Facebook and without showing those contacts all your more-social Facebook activity, pictures, and so on -- is adding new users rapidly, and there have been a lot of very positive reactions from career experts. (For a how-to, check out "How to Use BeKnown," by About.com's Alison Doyle.)
But amid all the excitement, a note of alarm has sounded. Some bloggers have asked, "But if you're friends with your boss on Facebook, he or she will see that you've joined BeKnown -- what about that?"
Well, what about it? In response to a MediaJobsDaily blog post on this topic, I asked what would be so bad about that:
"If you're already friends with your boss and other colleagues on Facebook, letting them know that you’ve joined a professional network (one that’ll help you develop your career and connect with other people in your field) will benefit you. It shows you take your career seriously. Considering the other things many people put on their Facebook walls, it sort of seems like the last thing a person should be worried about."
And all joking aside, I would add that if you’re already friends with your boss on Facebook, you should think about asking him or her to join you on BeKnown after you’ve joined. BeKnown is a great place to connect with new customers, clients, industry influencers, and new employees. A good boss will thank you.
Trouble? What Trouble?
There is, it seems to me, a misperception that a lot of people are going to "get in trouble" if it becomes known that they're involved in a professional network -- that suddenly their employers will discover that they're looking for a job.
Well, that may be a concern for some people, but it seems unlikely to me.
According to a recent Monster.com poll, 98% of workers said they would at least consider a new job opportunity. Trust me: Employers know this. They know that the line between "actively looking for work and "not actively looking for work" has disappeared. So I maintain that if you have a sane boss (I understand that not everyone does!), adding him or her to your professional network is a good idea.
Everyone Is "Looking for Work," and Employers Know It
At Monster.com, we talk to a lot of employers -- because knowing how companies feel about their employees is our job. Bosses, recruiters, HR people, and hiring managers are all concerned about retaining their great employees; these people-managers know that there's no such thing as "actively looking for a job" anymore. Almost all of their workers are hire-able. Even if a great employee doesn't have a resume on Monster.com or a profile on BeKnown (for example), he or she will have friends, former colleagues, and many other ways to find out about job opportunities.
The conversation about "letting your boss know you're looking for a job" needs to include this fact: Bosses (and HR folks, and so on) are, in most cases, human beings. They are people who are managing their careers, just like we are. They live in the same world we do. They have the same concerns about career maintenance that we do. And they connect to networks the same way we do.
In this connected world, a lot of our activities could be called "looking for a job" -- joining a professional network (online or in the real world), posting a resume online, maintaining a blog, meeting a former colleague for coffee, participating in volunteer work, and so on. BeKnown simply lets you manage and display, with ease, all these components of your professional life.
If you don't think your boss gets this, you do have problems -- but your employer has even bigger problems.
(Read more about BeKnown's approach to networking in "How BeKnown Fits into the New World of Work," by Monster global product manager Tom Chevalier.)
What about you? Are you using BeKnown yet? Have you connected with your boss on BeKnown or on other professional networks? Do you fear retaliation if you are active on BeKnown or a similar network? Share your story in the Comments section.
July 05, 2011
How to Invite Contacts to Join BeKnown
Maintaining a professional network means staying in touch and engaged with your contacts. You never want to find yourself in the position of needing a favor from someone you've lost touch with (and who hasn't thought about you) for two years.
New social-networking platforms make staying engaged simple: a few minutes a day is all it takes to let people know what you're up to in your career and, just as important, find out what they're up to. This small investment allows you to share relevant information with individual contacts, be a connector, and stay on top of developments in your field, your industry, and your professional community.
Monster created its BeKnown Facebook app to make managing your professional network even easier. BeKnown leverages your social network on Facebook but allows you to separate professional contacts from friends -- it brings together the world’s largest social network and the world’s largest online career resource, so your entire network can work even harder to grow your career.
Among the first steps to using BeKnown is inviting your contacts to join you there. In BeKnown, you can click on the Network tab and then on the Invite Friends button. You'll see there that you can invite contacts from your Twitter account, your Gmail address book, and your Yahoo! Mail address book -- just click on one of the icons and follow the instructions to grant BeKnown access to those accounts (no one will be contacted without your permission -- you choose the contacts you want to invite).
To invite contacts from a platform or program that doesn’t allow access to contacts, you first need to export those contacts as a CSV file. Here are the simple steps:
1. Export your connections as a CSV file. In LinkedIn, for example, go to the address-book export page, choose Microsoft Outlook (.CSV file) from the Export drop-down menu, enter the security code, and click on Export. This creates a new CSV file containing all your contacts’ information.
Similarly, Microsoft Outlook and other programs let you export contacts to a CSV file.
2. Import those connections into your Gmail or Yahoo! Mail account. (If you don't have one, you can create one for free.)
In Gmail, you click on Contacts, choose Import from the More Actions drop-down menu, click on Browse or Choose File, and then choose the CSV file you created in the first step. Finish by clicking on Import
In Yahoo! Mail, you can click on Contacts, click on the Import Contacts button, and choose Others from the Source menu. Then select "A desktop email program" -- this will allow you to choose your CSV file.
3. Access the contacts from BeKnown. Now that you've added contacts to Gmail or Yahoo! mail, you can follow the simple instructions in BeKnown for inviting those contacts.
(If you receive an error message during upload, you may need to reformat your CSV file -- to get more information on CSV files, visit this Google page).
Want to learn more about BeKnown? Watch our "Welcome to BeKnown" video, and visit BeKnown on Facebook today.