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August 31, 2011

42% of Workers Feel Guilty About Taking Vacations

Across the United States, workers are gearing up for the last couple of weeks of the summer vacation season -- but for many of them, completely unplugging from work can be difficult.

In a recent Monster.com poll, we asked workers, "Do you feel guilty when you're on vacation?" And 11% said yes. (Of the rest, 58% said they never felt guilty, and 31% said, "It depends on what's going on at work when I take time off." A total of 1,090 people responded.)

In a separate poll, we asked, "Are you able to stop thinking about work when you're on vacation?" And 32% said no -- that is, "I think about work often, even when I'm away from it -- I can't fully disconnect." (Of the rest, 27% said, "Yes: out of sight, out of mind"; 22% said, "Sometimes: Work issues occasionally cross my mind, but I'm able to put them aside"; and 19% said, "It depends." 1,059 people responded.)

Are you heading out on vacation -- or re-entering work after some PTO? Check out the tips in these Monster.com articles:

> "Five Reasons to Leave the Office Behind When You're on Vacation"

> "Be Smart About Vacation Time"

> "Get Back from Your Vacation with a Bang"

Posted by Charles Purdy on August 31, 2011 at 05:15 PM in Career Development | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2011

Is It Possible to Keep a Positive Attitude in Tough Times?

As we discussed in a previous blog post, "Going the Distance in Your Job Search," a lengthy job search can make maintaining a positive attitude (which is key to staying active and productive) very difficult. We spoke to motivational author Karen Okulicz and asked her for tips on keeping a positive attitude in the face of challenging employment situations.

Monster: What would you say to someone who's facing long-term unemployment (and getting very discouraged) that can start helping him or her regain a positive attitude?

Karen Okulicz: Go back to the basics and review. What have you done to create new work, and where do you need to go next? Any movement forward will create a positive attitude. Are you looking for the right position? You may not be able to go back to what you once did. So rethink your work search.

(For tips on making a career change, see Monster.com's "Life Changes" series.)

Also make sure you're taking advantage of all that's offered at your state's Workforce Development program or your local jobs center, library, church-based groups, and so on. They are there to help. Go. People who are in these types of programs are employed quicker. You can join others to network and gain new skills for new work. 

Monster: What are a couple of daily, broadly applicable steps a job seeker might take to maintain a positive attitude?

Okulicz: Exercise is the magic pill for self-care, clearing you mind, taking care of your body, and maintaining a great attitude. Before, you may have not had the time. Now you do. This does not take money. There is no need to join a fancy or expensive gym; this takes a mental decision and a little of your time. You have that now. Every day, get out for a walk or bike ride.

Use your time wisely. Structure the day. Take a walk, send so many resumes, make so many phone calls, research on the Internet, read a book, write five letters, attend a workshop, and so on.

Stay with positive people. You do not need to have any self-doubters by you. It may mean you get out of the room quicker and off the phone sooner.  Read something positive every day.

Create and keep a gratitude journal. Write in it every day. Write the three to five things that you did accomplish. Accomplishments acknowledged help grow confidence and good attitude.


Monster: You've published "Try! A Survival Guide to Unemployment." Can you give me an example or two of a piece of advice you think many job seekers might not be aware of?

Okulicz: Save every rejection letter or email -- no does not mean no forever. You will be working again, and this contact from the rejection letter may be an entry into that company when you need a contact there.

You may be able to work part time and still collect your unemployment benefits. Every state is different. You will have ask the amount of money that can be made. This will help you get moving with working. A part-time job may turn into a full-time employment. 

Monster: You've also published "Decide! How to Make Any Decision." At what stage in an important career-related decision (say, to change careers) do you recommend seeking other people's advice?

Okulicz: Good question. I am a believer of constantly taking courses or volunteering while you're working. If you want to make a change to a field that you don't know, you'll have to do some research first. If you are employed, you may have to research quietly without telling anyone you are doing this -- you may want to take a night class or volunteer on a weeknight or weekend. Every interaction with new people creates unexpected opportunities.

I had a client who loved crafts. So she worked one night a week in a craft store. After six months she knew this was for her. She eventually became a part owner in the store she had worked in.

Monster: In your career of helping people in their careers and in dealing with employment issues, what are some common errors (of thinking or practice) you see people making?

Okulicz: The biggest mistake I see is that people wait to look for work. People think not looking for a job in the summer or around the holidays or until their unemployment money runs out is OK. This is not OK. If you are unemployed, you have to start looking immediately. Companies are always interviewing. You want to jump into the process immediately. Your new job is to look for work.

Do not believe that just sending in a resume is the right way to get a job. It's not. Looking for work requires a new type of approach. You may have to work for free as a volunteer to prove your value and worth. If you can work there for a day or half day whatever, then that is a gift that may turn into a job.

Saying that you want to work is not as powerful as doing work. Actions speak much louder than words. Deliver the value and create a situation where helping you back is the proper thing to do.

You have to be willing to tell everyone you are unemployed and ask everyone for assistance.  Do not feel like there is a stigma about being out of work. It's more prevalent than you can imagine. You have to be brave and ask for what you want.  You may have to start small and ask for something small -- but unless you ask, you will not receive anything helpful or useful. Keep asking for what you want and what you need.  Persist.


How have you kept a positive attitude during a job search? Share your comments and stories in the Comments section.





Posted by Charles Purdy on August 18, 2011 at 06:41 PM in Careers at 50+ | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2011

9 Tips for Workers in a Turbulent Economy

Jobsphoto Many employers are still fearful of a global economic slowdown, and some companies are tightening belts. It can be a fearful time for workers, despite some recent mildly encouraging employment news..

Doug Dennerline, HR expert and president of SuccessFactors, a global employee-management software company, has the following tips for employees who want to make themselves invaluable and less vulnerable to job cuts at a time when confidence among U.S. employers is shaky:

1. Remember the Basics. Now is not the time to miss a deadline, show up late, try a risky ensemble or be seen gossiping at the water cooler. It may not seem like managers are watching you, but staying professional at the workplace will serve you better than you think.

2. Know Your Priorities at Work. Make sure the work you're doing is aligned to the company's goals and initiatives. Make sure that you're working on strategic projects. You'll make your work invaluable by focusing your efforts in the right direction.

3. Ask for More Responsibility. Many of us are overworked, but having a positive attitude while asking how else you can chip in goes a long way to impress the boss and makes you stand out from the coworkers loudly grumbling complaints at their desks.

(Get more tips in "Getting on the Boss's Good Side.")

4. Merchandise Yourself at Work, Humbly. Make sure you're seen as a top performer at work, and have your accomplishments recognized -- especially when speaking with your manager and other influential folks at your company.

 5. Broaden Your Skill Set. Being an expert on a specific topic is nice, but when positions are being cut, the workers who can do their jobs as well as others' jobs are more likely to be kept on the payroll.

(Read "Five Ways to Be a Good Team Player" for more advice.)

6. Join a Professional Networking Group. This is a great way to meet new contacts, as well as to keep up with your industry. The best time to network is before you need help in your job search.

7. Get Involved in Your Community on Behalf of Your Company. If your company will sponsor you for a charity or fundraiser event, take advantage of highlighting yourself as a company representative. You'll not only stand out among the management team, but also be seen as a contributor to the company.

8. Stay Abreast of Latest Industry Developments and Technology. Make sure you set yourself apart from the crowd by keeping up with news and technology, so that you can make credible recommendations at your company that make sense, and potentially save your company money.

9. Have a Backup Plan. If your company is really in dire straits, there may be nothing you can do to keep yourself immune to layoffs. Keep your online professional profiles up-to-date. Also, search for yourself onilne sure the results are positive and double check social profiles like Facebook and Twitter to make sure they reflect you positively.

What are your tips for making yourself indispensable at work? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.


Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Posted by Charles Purdy on August 15, 2011 at 01:10 PM in Career Development , Careers at 50+ , Job Search , Networking | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 12, 2011

OfficeTeam Reveals Five Hiring-Manager Secrets

What's going through a hiring manager's mind during a job interview? The answer may surprise you. OfficeTeam, a leading administrative staffing service, has identified five things job seekers should know about the interview process -- from the interviewer's point of view.
"Many job candidates may not recognize that hiring managers can be as anxious as they are during interviews because of the pressure to find just the right person," says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Hiring mistakes are costly, in terms of the time and money invested and the toll on staff morale. Interviewers are looking for subtle clues the applicant has the right job skills and work ethic, and will fit in with new colleagues and the corporate culture."

Hosking adds, "Job seekers who do their homework and remain poised throughout the interview process will be able to engage in more productive, relevant conversations with prospective employers."

Here are five things most hiring managers may be thinking about the interview but won't tell you:

1. I haven't prepared in advance. You may have spent hours creating your resume, but there’s a good chance the hiring manager doesn't remember exactly what’s on it.

Advice: Always have an extra copy of your resume handy, and offer to walk the potential employer through the highlights, particularly if he or she seems at a loss for questions.

2. I'm wary of phonies. Think again before you claim that your greatest weakness is that you "work too hard." Most hiring managers have heard it all before. Inauthentic responses are a red flag to employers.

Advice: Come to the interview with several job-related anecdotes in mind that reveal the real you and speak to how your specific talents can help the business. Don't be afraid to show some personality.

(Read "What Are Your Greatest Strengths and Weaknesses?" for more tips.)

3. I love to talk about my company and myself. Interviewers are advised to let the candidate do most of the talking. But hiring managers are only human and enjoy discussing things they are passionate about, including their careers and interests.

Advice: Ask the prospective employer about his or her professional advancement within the company; this can yield valuable information about growth potential at the firm and get the conversation going. You don't have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions.

4. I may intentionally make you uncomfortable. Job seekers often rush to fill in awkward pauses between interview questions. Hiring managers hope that if they keep you talking, you’ll reveal more of yourself. They also may throw curve-ball questions to see how you react and to gain insight into your thought process.

Advice: Rather than rambling and potentially saying something you regret, keep your responses concise and on point. It's OK to stop and collect your ideas before you begin to speak. Don’t be too concerned if you’re stumped by a tough interview question. Showing your reasoning skills is often more important than finding the right answer.

(Read "100 Potential Interview Questions" for more advice.)

5. I'm going to ask my assistant about you. Six in ten executives surveyed by OfficeTeam said they consider their assistants' opinions important when evaluating new hires. It should go without saying, but make sure you treat everyone you meet with respect when you arrive for an interview. You never know who may be weighing in on the hiring decision.

Advice: If the administrative professional isn't busy, make polite small talk while you wait. Also, avoid irritating behaviors, such as loud cell phone conversations.

Posted by Charles Purdy on August 12, 2011 at 11:07 AM in Career Development , Interview , Resume , Salary | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2011

Going the Distance in Your Job Search (This Is Not a "Pep Talk"!)

IStock_000014687303Small As a job search stretches out, week upon week (and as the economy remains, shall we say, turbulent), it can be all too easy to give up -- to think, "There are no jobs out there, so why bother. There's nothing I can do to find a job."

Here at Monster, we hear this sentiment frequently from job seekers -- and we understand that many of the people giving voice to it are facing desperate times and very difficult circumstances.

But at the same time, we also know that we have more than a million jobs posted on our site at any given time -- and we talk to employers every day who are searching for people to hire.

So what's the disconnect?

Get Past "Positive Thinking"
Sure, positive thinking works -- to a point. For one thing, people with a positive, can-do attitude are more attractive to employers. But a larger reason that positive thinking works is that it inspires action.

Thinking that "it's hopeless" and that you'll "never find a job" are self-fulfilling notions -- because if you think that there's no use in trying, then you don't try.

The Secret Is Positive Doing
So that's the key: trying. Personal pep talks are helpful (and for tips on positive thinking, read "Reframe Six Career-Limiting Beliefs"), but it's also important to act.

On Twitter and Facebook, our job seekers tell us, "I've tried everything." Gently, I want to say, "Are you sure?"

Just to help you be sure, here are a few ideas: ways you can keep your job search going (as an added bonus, positive doing causes positive thinking -- and vice versa). Try one of these things when you feel as though you've "tried everything."

>> Read a book on your industry or on job-search techniques.
In a 2010 HotJobs poll, site visitors were asked, "In the past year, how many career- or professional-development books have you read (not mandated by an employer)?" For 60 percent of respondents, the answer was zero. That's a lot of job seekers who aren't keeping up on the latest job-search tactics and on developments and new ideas in their industries. Give yourself a leg up on this slacking competition.

(And after you read a book, think about reviewing it in a blog post, recommending the book to someone in your network, asking the author a question via his or her website, or hosting a seminar on it for a professional organization.)

No time for a book? What about an article or blog post?

>> Ask someone in your field or at a target employer to do a five-minute review of your resume.
You're regularly updating your resume, right -- and customizing it for each job you apply for? (For tips, read "Creative Ways to Customize Your Resume.") If so, you're already better off than most of your competition: when we ask job seekers whether they're customizing their resumes for each job they apply for, more than half say no -- and that means their resumes are far less likely to make it past front-line resume readers (human ones and digital ones).

Here's a great way to get resume advice and put yourself in someone's mind as an active job seeker: Ask for a five-minute resume review (specify "five minutes," so it feels like a do-able favor -- but many people will go above and beyond) from someone whose opinion matters (someone in your industry or at a company you want to work at). Look not only to your contacts but also to second-degree contacts. Be sure to say thank you, and add this person to your network if you can.

>> Build profiles on professional networking sites.
A majority of workers say that networking played a role in their getting hired at their current or most recent job. Whom you know matters. Make sure you're active in the online communities specific to your industry, and that you're using all the networking tools available to you -- such as Monster's BeKnown Facebook app.    

But building a profile is just the beginning -- you also have to maintain that profile. One way to do this is to add connections (think of your former colleagues, former clients, former classmates, and so on). Then spend some time each day (even if it's just a few minutes) thinking about how you can reach out to your contacts in a positive (and professional) way. Write recommendations, share information, introduce people, and so on. Don't be a spammer -- online communication is more effective when it's personal and targeted. (For more tips, read "Online Professional Networking for Beginners.")

When you need to ask a contact for a favor, the attention you've paid your network will really pay off.  

>> Look to self-improvement and self-marketing activities.
Remember, you are your own "brand" and your own "product" -- and just like a successful company, you should continuously be making improvements to both. For brand tips, read "Build Your Brand." And for more self-improvement tips, read "Fun Ways to Beef Up Your Resume."

>> Don't stop here.
There are just some ideas to get you started. If you've already done everything on this list, great -- it's definitely time to start going through the list again. If you're saying to yourself, "This stuff won't help me," you're partially right: because it won't help you if you don't try it.

Find something new to try in your job search today.

(What are your creative ideas for keeping your job search going? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.)






Posted by Charles Purdy on August 10, 2011 at 04:39 PM in Career Development , Interview , Job Search , Networking , Resume , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2011

Using Monster.com to Document Your Job Search

A job seeker recently sent us a note with a question about how he could document his job-search efforts -- people who are receiving their unemployment benefits may be asked to substantiate these efforts.

And Monster.com Product VP Matthew Mund responded with three suggestions for how a Monster.com user can keep track of the jobs he or she has applied for -- I think the third is the best:

1. The URLs for each job posting are unique -- while the job is posted, you can point to it (however, the URL expires when the post is removed).

2. Printing or emailing job posts to yourself is another way to keep track of which jobs you've applied for.

3. Your Monster.com Apply history shows which jobs you've applied for and when. (When you're signed in to Monster.com, click on Jobs: My Apply History.) Save that page as a PDF or take a screen shot of the page to document your job-application history.

8-4-2011 11-08-56 AM

And speaking of unemployment -- "The New York Times" recently discussed the practice, of some employers, of discriminating against unemployed people. Monster is strongly against this practice, as we discuss in this blog post on MonsterThinking.

Posted by Charles Purdy on August 4, 2011 at 02:19 PM in Job Search , Resume | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 03, 2011

10 Unprofessional Behaviors to Avoid

51v6MZLLSXL._SL500_AA300_ In his new book "The Professional," Subroto Bagchi, the vice chairman and cofounder of MindTree Ltd. and a columnist for "Forbes India," lays out a clear-cut set of criteria that can guide the modern worker in truly and consistently professional behavior. By exploring a variety of professional dilemmas in a broad spectrum of industries, he answers some of the tough questions that workers face.

He also describes ten behaviors that are clearly unprofessional -- his "top ten markers of unprofessional conduct." If you're not sure how to respond to a situation at work, let this list be a guide for what not to do:

1. Missing a Deadline
You know how much you hate it when other people miss their deadlines to you. Bagchi says you should keep this feeling in mind when it comes to your own deadlines.

2. Failing to Be Forthright
Bagchi points out that missed deadlines -- whether due to poor estimation of how much time it will take to get a job done or due to unavoidable circumstances -- usually "announce their arrival in advance," but that people ignore warning signs (or hope the problem will solve itself.)

"If communicated proactively to the right person," Bagchi says, "most problems not only get addressed, but they can also be converted into an opportunity."

He also advises delivering bad news in person (or at least via telephone).

3. Withholding Information
Bagchi describes not disclosing conflicts of interest as one area where this is likely to happen.

4. Not Respecting Privacy of Information
"Consent should never be assumed," says Bagchi. "However close and long-standing the relationship may be, consent has to be formally sought and formally recorded each time there is a transaction."

5. Not Respecting "Need to Know"
Here, Bagchi uses the example of spouses who work and says, "It is important to avoid what is known as 'pillow talk' -- sharing official informaiton at home."

6. Plagiarizing
Bagchi outlines three steps for citing sources: "state why you have chosen to pull ... [the] information, acknowledge the source and, most important, state your own reasoned conclusion."

7. Passing the Blame
"Just as we say a poor workman blames his tools," Bagchi says, "a bad professional blames his associates."

8. Overstating Qualifications and Experience
"Unfortunately," says Bagchi, "job seekers sometimes trivialize the difference between exposure and expertise when it comes to writing resumes.... I have often received resumes of young engineers who have done just an internship of short duration in an organization, but who claimed to have designed an entire enterprise application while being there."

"While it may be easy to bluff one's way into a job or assignment, it becomes a complete loss of face at the time of execution and leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth," he adds.

9. Frequently Changing Jobs
Of course, not all job changes are voluntary, but Bagchi objects to "mindless job changes." He says, "Failed job changes have as much to do with the individual as with the organization, and ... people who pass off the blame simply demonstrate an opportunistic mind-set."

10. Not Taking Care of Your Appearance
"Your attire must inspire credibility," says Bagchi. He adds that it should follow written (and unwritten) rules for your organization and profession, and that dressing in a way that distracts is not a good idea.

Portions excerpted from "The Professinal: Defining the New Standard of Excellence at Work," by Subroto Bagchi, by arrangement with Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright (c) Subroto Bagchi, 2011.

Posted by Charles Purdy on August 3, 2011 at 05:27 PM in Career Development , Interview , Networking , Resume | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

August 02, 2011

Successful Communication in Sticky Work Situations

  GreatOnTheJobCover The workplace can be a communication minefield -- one verbal misstep can lead to a career-damaging explosion. And no matter what field you're in, people skills can help you move ahead. We asked communication expert Jodi Glickman, the author of "Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It. The Secrets of Getting Ahead," for some tips:

Monster: What's the most common communication mistake people make at work -- in other words, what’s one crucial thing that I should probably be doing differently?

Jodi Glickman: When you’ve got a problem, tell it to me live; don’t hide behind email. No good ever comes of sending someone a nasty note, voicing a complaint online, or arguing a point via email. When something goes wrong, get up out of your seat and go to your boss’s office to raise the issue, or pick up the phone and have a tough conversation live -- so that you can explain your position and give your colleague a chance to voice his or her opinion as well.

Back-and-forth conversation solves problems -- not one-way emails that force people to read between the lines or guess at hidden meaning. Tone and tenor get lost in email, and people often misinterpret information without additional context.

Monster: Have the rules of communication changed with changes in technology, or do all the old rules still apply?

JG:The old rules still apply. Technology makes our lives easier and allows us to be better connected -- but we still need to build trust and credibility via face-to-face interactions. Even in our high-tech, smart-phone-addicted world, we actually need to be able to talk to one another effectively and persuasively. If you want to make a good impression, ask if someone has a minute to speak before barging into their office. When you’re giving someone an update, lead with the punch line and start with what’s new, different, or important so that you grab their attention immediately. If you spot a problem coming down the pipeline, raise a red flag as quickly as possible -- no one appreciates surprises in business.

Monster: How do you suggest that people communicate poise and confidence in high-pressure situations -- such as a difficult job interview, for instance?

JG: The best approach is to remind yourself that the person across the desk is rooting for you. If you go in knowing that they want you to be great -- you’ll rise to the challenge. Interviewers are looking for talent, and they get excited about a candidate who is exceptional. They’re not looking to waste their time either, so make the conversation interesting. Keep your energy level up, focus on your skill-set, show how it’s transferrable to the new position, and come from a position of strength.

Monster: What is the best way to tell my boss that I’ve made a big mistake or can’t do something -- how do I avoid damaging my career too badly?

JG: Everyone makes mistakes -- the key is to highlight them early, and then focus on the solution rather than the problem. Tell me immediately what happened and why. And then, in the same breath, tell me how you’re fixing the problem or give me several alternatives that might work. Coming to me with a solution is far more effective (and impressive) than coming in with a problem and asking me to fix it.

If you can’t do something and you need to push back -- be transparent. Tell your boss that you’d like to work on the project, but that you’re tied up with X, Y, and Z and you have no capacity. Then offer several solutions of what you can do instead. Offer a few ideas of ways to work around problem and show that you're enthusiastic about coming up with a compromise that works for everyone.

Monster: What do you mean when you say (in your book) that it’s better to be smart and wrong than just silent?

JG: The question “What should I do?” should never leave your lips. It makes you look smart when you approach your manager with an opinion and a sense of what to do, as opposed to asking for outright guidance. So if you’re asking your manager for help or guidance, start with what you do actually know. Show that you’re smart by putting your stake in the ground and having an idea of what you think the right answer or best course of action is. Show that you’ve put some thought and judgment into the situation and then find out if you two are on the same page. You’re better off being wrong and showing that you indeed have judgment than showing up looking lazy or not willing to try and solve your own problems.

What are your communication tips? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.


Posted by Charles Purdy on August 2, 2011 at 07:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)