November 30, 2011
Keep Your Job Search Going Through the Holidays
Most of us have a lot to do during the holidays. There are more social events, more family obligations, more errands and chores -- our calendars start to look pretty crowded. So it might be tempting to put your job search on pause. A lot of people assume that no one gets hired during the holidays -- so why bother looking?
But the fact is, no matter how busy your holiday schedule is, now is not the time to halt job-search activities. (In a recent article on MainStreet.com, "Why You Should Apply for Jobs Right Now," I mentioned some of the reasons why.) For one thing, although hiring may slow down a bit during the season, it by no means stops altogether: Comparing December 2010 to November 2010, the Monster Employment Index shows a slight dip in job posts on corporate career Web sites and job boards, including Monster.com -- about three percent. A percentage-point drop in the single digits shouldn't be overestimated -- the data certainly doesn't say, "Take a break from your job search."
In fact, organizations often find themselves in urgent hiring situations at the end of the year. For example, a manager may learn of a hiring freeze in the coming year and decide to fill a position before the gate closes, or, conversely, a forecast of an increased Q1 budget may cause a manager to add a new position to his or her team at the end of the year.
This December, Give Yourself the Gift of Career Success
Here are some tips for keeping your job search going through the holiday season:
1. Don't overlook temporary positions. A healthy portion of them become permanent -- and "holiday" jobs aren't just about retail positions. Plenty of companies have end-of-year crunch times and seek out extra help through temp agencies.
(For tips on getting a seasonal job, read "Get Hired for the Holidays.")
2. Use "down time" to spruce up your online presence. How long has it been since you updated your resume on Monster.com? Or added to your professional profile on BeKnown? Or wrote a blog post related to your industry? These are the kinds of maintenance activities that can slip to the bottom of our to-do lists during the rest of the year. If you're finding fewer jobs to apply for online, use this extra time to get your online profile in shape.
(For tips on maximizing your online presence, read "Build Your Brand.")
3. Seek out volunteer work. All sorts of philanthropic organizations ramp up activities during the holidays -- and volunteering can be a great way to network, gain skills and fill the gap that unemployment might otherwise leave on your resume. Plus, you'll meet other volunteers -- philanthropically minded and community-minded people who may be able to help you in your job search.
4. Make the most of networking opportunities. You don't want to make every conversation about your job search, but letting people know how they can help you is crucial. So have your "elevator pitch" -- who you are, what you want, and why -- ready and perfect. And try to keep things positive: for instance, when you tell people you're looking for work, also tell them how you've been productive with your time off.
The holidays are a great reason to reach out to friends and acquaintances, as well as to reconnect with professional contacts you may have fallen out of contact with. You can send a holiday greeting ("Happy New Year" is a safe sentiment if you don't know which holidays a contact celebrates) with some upbeat news about your job search and a note of gratitude for the help you've received throughout the past year. Make it personal (no one wants spam as a holiday gift).
And remember that the holidays are a time for giving. Find ways to help the people in your network, and they'll be likelier to help you in the future.
5. Recommit to your job search.
Start the year off right: Make an appointment with yourself to determine your goals for the coming year. Then schedule some time to update your resume, practice your interview skills and set some job-search goals.
For more advice, check out some related blog posts from friends of Monster: "5 Reasons to Step Up Your Job Search Over the Holidays" (from Resoomay) and "How to Job Search During the Holiday Season" (from Glassdoor).
November 29, 2011
Employers Gain New Recruiting Tools with the Free BeKnown Jobs Tab
Today, Monster announced some exciting new features it has added to BeKnown, the fast-growing professional networking app on Facebook. BeKnown's new Jobs Tab -- which is free for employers to use -- makes it easier than ever for employers to extend their brand to the more than 800 million people on Facebook.
Available globally, the Jobs Tab provides even wider recruitment reach for all companies using BeKnown -- automatically distributing brand content and jobs to a company's Facebook page, and thereby leveraging a brand's existing fan base to reach active and passive job seekers at no cost to the company.
"You already have people who 'Like' your brand and engage with you via your main Facebook page, and these aren't just fans or 'Likes'; these are professionals who could one day become a potential job candidate," says Tom Chevalier, a global product manager for Monster Worldwide. "HR pros and recruiters will be able to tap into the power of this engagement by making it easy to view all jobs available at their company via the BeKnown Jobs Tab."
Any employer with a BeKnown Company Profile page can automatically distribute recruitment branding elements and job listings -- including BeKnown social job listings; Monster job postings; and, soon, all of their ATS jobs* -- to its company Facebook page via the Jobs Tab. Unlike other professional networking sites, Monster is not charging companies to provide job listings on Facebook pages. If an employer has a BeKnown Company Profile page in BeKnown, its designated administrators can simply integrate the Jobs Tab into their main Facebook page and extend their social recruitment presence to reach a much broader network of professionals on Facebook.
With BeKnown Company Profile pages and the Jobs Tab, employers will be able to:
-- Establish a recruitment-focused brand presence on Facebook
-- Introduce people on Facebook to all current job opportunities within their organization*
-- Feature all their Monster jobs on BeKnown
-- Facilitate conversations between employees and potential candidates to drive high-quality referrals
-- Allow visitors to follow their company and become part of the future talent pipeline
What This Means for Job Seekers
If you don't currently have a BeKnown profile, now is the time to create yours. The social-networking element of recruiting is becoming more important, and you can expect that employers will increasingly be turning to avenues such as BeKnown not only to get the word out about jobs, but also to source and research candidates. For an introduction to this tool, read "How BeKnown Will Make Facebook Work for You."
Launched in June, the BeKnown professional networking app is available in 19 languages in 36 countries and is also accessible for free via mobile apps on the Android and iPhone. Visit http://go.beknown.com for more information on BeKnown, or follow BeKnown on Twitter and visit the BeKnown blog for regular updates.
*The Jobs Tab is available now and will support all BeKnown and Monster job postings and will support all jobs from a company's ATS beginning in early December if the ATS provides an RSS or XML feed of job postings.
November 28, 2011
Cool Jobs of the Week: CyberMonday Edition
On CyberMonday, the world turns to their computers, for a little bit (or a lot) of shopping. So to mark the start of the holiday online-shopping season, we're looking at some of the coolest jobs at the intersection of retail and technology:
Assistant MultiChannel Marketing Manager, Macy’s (New York, NY)
In this role, you'll be "responsible for the coordination, execution and support of marketing strategy" at Macy's -- changing the way people shop.
Senior Manager, Online Technology, Staples (Framingham, MA)
Be one of the people behind Staples' "easy" button.
Front End Developer, Hammacher Schlemmer (Niles, IL)
In this role, you'll "contribute to the success of Hammacher Schlemmer's website testing and optimization initiatives by organizing, designing, coding, and executing effective and actionable tests across the website and web marketing programs."
Senior Contracts Manager (IT), Bed Bath & Beyond (Union, NJ)
If you've got a bachelor's degree in finance, economics, or a related field and a minimum of eight years' direct contract-management experience, you're poised to go beyond your career expectations in this role.
Digital Web Production Artist, E-Commerce, Wet Seal (Foothill Ranch, CA): Great web design never goes out of style. In this role, you'll Wet Seal stay in fashion.
Manager, IT Governance, Express (Columbus, OH)
With your MCSE, CISA and CISSP certifications, you have what it takes to step into the express lane to career success.
Director, Digital Marketing, Ann Taylor (New York, NY)
Don't avoid labels -- define them. Join the chic, smart, and sophisticated team at Ann Taylor; in this role, you'll oversee all site content, promotions, and email marketing.
Email Marketing Manager, RadioShack (Dallas, TX)
If you've got the know-how to "manage all aspects of email communications to RadioShack customers and prospects," your future could be bright in the Shack.
Manager, User Experience, GuitarCenter (Westlake Village, CA)
Don't fret. If you've got a "BA/BS degree in Interaction Design, Human Factors/Usability or related field" and "6+ years work experience in an internet-related design/development environment," you're the rock star for this job.
What's your definition of a cool job? Tell us, sowe can make the next edition of "Cool Jobs" even cooler for you! And start your job search at Monster.com today.
November 23, 2011
Career Advice: Have an "Attitude of Gratitude"
This week, most Americans are gearing up to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones. And many of us participate in the annual Thanksgiving ritual of listing the things we're grateful for: our family, our friends, our homes, and our possessions, for example. We might also list our jobs -- in the sense that they allow us to put food on the table. But does your organization inspire its employees to add anything else to that gratitude list?
Todd Patkin, the author of the new book "Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and -- Finally -- Let the Sunshine In," says that if a company hasn't hasn't made a conscious effort to instill an 'attitude of gratitude' into the organization's culture, it's ignoring a useful and lucrative tool. He adds, "The good news is, there’s no better time than right now at Thanksgiving to start showing your employees or coworkers that you appreciate their efforts and care about them as individuals."
Patkin, who also spent almost two decades as a leader at his family’s auto parts business, explains, "In so many organizations, employees go through their days assuming that their coworkers, and especially their bosses, don’t notice or appreciate all of the hard work that they do," Patkin explains. "And if that’s the way you feel, you will just go through the motions. You won’t have any true motivation or dedication, and your productivity will be mediocre at best."
In a very real way, Patkin says, tapping into the spirit of Thanksgiving can tip the balance between success and growth or stagnation and failure.
Whether you’re a leader who wants to tap into the power of thanks or an employee who wants to start a grassroots movement, read on for Patkin’s how-to tips:
Always say thank you. If you have a job that allows you to twiddle your thumbs, you’re definitely in the minority. Most of us have a deskful of things that should have been done yesterday, and it’s easy to use the excuse that we don’t have time to hand out compliments and thanks like candy. According to Patkin, though, there’s no better way to use your time. Taking just thirty seconds to express gratitude can improve another person’s mood, day, and productivity level. You’ll also be making yourself more approachable and likeable, and over time your team will begin to relate to you more positively.
“Always, always recognize it when someone does something well or does something nice for you,” Patkin advises. “No one ever gets tired of hearing compliments about themselves; in fact, I have found that consistent and heartfelt recognition—when it is deserved, of course—is a better long-term motivator than money."
"Also remember to acknowledge it when someone else gives you a compliment or a thank you—it’s important for others to know that their gratitude is noticed and appreciated in order for it to continue.”
Take intent into account. The fact is, when you’re in a position to make a grand gesture of gratitude, your intentions may be consistently good … but your plans might not always be as successful as you’d hoped. Patkin recalls that as he tried to show his employees just how much he appreciated them, he came up with many show-the-love schemes. He would send high achievers to sports games, highlight various employees in company newsletters, plan lavish company parties, and hold raffles -- to name a few examples. Sometimes those plans were well received; other times they weren’t.
“Inevitably, there will always be someone who says, ‘I wish the boss had sent me to a concert instead of to an NBA game,’ or, ‘Gosh, the food at this party tastes horrible,’” Patkin says. “On a smaller scale, maybe no one eats the cookies you baked and set out in the break room. Remember, these people are selfishly (or maybe even unwittingly) overlooking the thank-you gesture’s intent. I’m bringing this up because you need to remember that despite negative feedback, showing gratitude is always the right thing … and the majority of non-complainers probably loved your gesture. And also, if the shoe is on the other foot and an expression of gratitude that’s aimed at you misses the mark, say thank you for the thought and go on about your day.”
Start being more open. In your average office, communication is far from completely open. No one wants to bug the boss unnecessarily or meddle in a coworker’s projects (unless, perhaps, that person’s intent is negative). This sort of “keep-to-yourself” culture doesn’t tend to foster total understanding or genuine gratitude. Think about it this way: If a leader is dissatisfied with an employee’s performance, that employee will probably sense that he’s not highly appreciated, and he’ll have no reason to work any harder than necessary. The leader’s bad opinion of the employee will continue to grow worse, further eroding the employee’s motivation. It’s a negative cycle, but according to Patkin, it can be easily broken with a little openness and honesty.
“If you’re a leader, constructively tell your people how they can improve their performances,” he says. “If you’re a team member, be proactive about asking your coworkers and boss how you’re doing and how you can get better at your job. And no matter where you fall on your company’s hierarchy, learn how to receive constructive criticism. I have seen this at all levels -- if you don’t accept advice and requests well, you’ll stop getting them and you’ll stop improving … and you’ll essentially be stuck right where you are."
"Showing others that you care enough to either help them or to improve yourself is a form of gratitude in and of itself, because you’re demonstrating that your team is worth the investment of your time, energy, and advice.”
Learn to graciously accept thanks. Yes, giving thanks is a very important building block when it comes to cultivating a gratitude culture in your organization. But it’s not the only one. If you brush off compliments or ignore expressions of gratitude -- even if it’s because you’d rather stay out of the spotlight -- you’ll eventually stop hearing “thanks!” altogether, and you’ll be discouraging the person complimenting you from reaching out to others in the same way.
“Showing gratitude to others in very lavish ways comes naturally to me,” Patkin says, “but accepting compliments for my own performance isn’t as easy. Over the years, though, I have learned that a response like ‘Oh, it was nothing’ tends to make the person thanking you feel foolish for giving you so much praise. This is especially true when a team member reaches out to a leader who’s higher in the organizational pecking order. Whenever someone thanks you or notices something positive about you, try to truly engage with them and let them know that their words have been meaningful.”
Keep the gratitude going outside of your organization. Once you notice that those two important words -- thank you -- are being uttered on a regular basis in your office, make an effort to extend them beyond the people on your payroll. Thank your customers or the people you serve for choosing your organization, and for trusting your team with their money, health, products, or publicity -- to name a few examples. This is something that many clients don’t hear, so when they do, their loyalty to your company is strengthened.
“A simple ‘Thank you for your business’ is easy and free, and there’s no excuse not to make use of this tool. You might also consider offering discounts, coupons, or promotions to show customer appreciation. Especially in a tough economy, it’s vital to let those whom you serve know how much they mean to you so that they don’t take their business elsewhere. I used to encourage my store managers to treat their clients like kings -- I’d ask them to write thank-you notes after big sales and to send birthday cards to loyal customers, for example. One year, we even rented an ice cream truck to visit all of our best customers so that they could have a free frozen treat on a hot day. Over time, this strategy of appreciation brought us more business and it caused our customers to be less price-conscious.”
Use gratitude to reinforce stellar performances. No, your employees and/or coworkers are not pets. Remember, though, that just as a Labrador Retriever will learn to repeat or refrain from a behavior because she is given a treat, a worker will do the same thing based on his boss’s feedback. Using gratitude to shape your team’s habits and priorities can be every bit as valuable as training programs and industry conferences … at a fraction of the time and cost.
“Whenever I saw an employee going out of her way to make sure that the product a client purchased was the best possible value, I thanked her for doing it,” Patkin recalls. “If a store manager made a mistake and came clean to me about it, I thanked him for that, too. Never forget that whatever you acknowledge positively will be repeated.”
How do you show gratitude at work -- as a manager or as an employee? Share your story in the Comments section.
November 22, 2011
Cool Jobs of the Week: Thanksgiving Edition
Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones, expressing gratitude, and contemplating our nation's unique history. Also, it's about food. So for the Thanksgiving Edition of Monster's "Cool Jobs of the Week," we are serving up some interesting and unique jobs related to food:
Food Scientist, R&D, Brother's Fine Foods (Lewisburg, TN)
If you have a BS in food Science or a related science and at least three years' experience in the R&D process in the food industry, you're on your way to becoming a taste maker at Brother's Fine Foods.
Marketing Manager, Butterball Farms (Grand Rapids, MI)
Think you've got what it takes to talk turkey at a management level? Don't miss this job at Butterball!
Production Manager, North American Breweries (Portland, OR)
Your dream job could be brewing here in Portland: The production manager is responsible for ensuring that "the highest-quality finished goods are produced, warehoused, and shipped within budgeted costs in a safe environment."
Director of Food Services, Cambridge Public Schools (Cambridge, MA)
What's for lunch? In this position, you'll be responsible "for overseeing a budget of $2.5M and food service staff district-wide, along with supervising district-wide school breakfast, lunch, after-school snack, and fruit and vegetable snack programs."
Strategic Sourcing Manager - Flavors, Kraft Foods (Chicago, IL)
Ten years of sourcing and/or supply-management experience are required in this position, which is "heavily involved with supplier optimization consisting of strategy development, strategic competitive bidding, supplier negotiations, project management, planning, and monitoring."
VP - Food Practice (Public Relations), Porter Novelli (New York, NY)
If you have "experience developing marketing, public relations, and/or communications strategy in the industrial and food service channels," you may have what it takes to fill this high-level agency role.
Human Resources Manager, Pilgrim’s Pride (Waco, TX)
Are you an HR professional with at least five years' experience? Make every day Thanksgiving as an HR manager at Pilgrim's Pride.
Consumer Strategist, Food & Beverage, The Corporate Exectuive Board (Minneapolis, MN)
In this role, you'll set the tone at the table -- in other words, you'll "translate consumer trends into actionable insight and marketing applications for Fortune 1000 clients as they relate to the Food and Beverage industry and consumer culture."
Food Safety Manager, Smithfield Farms (Landover, MD)
In this position, you'll have "the primary responsibility of driving the food safety systems of the plant by developing, modifying, and maintaining the plant’s HACCP, SSOP, and regulatory programs to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements for the production of safe and wholesome food."
What's your definition of a cool job? Tell us, so we can make the next edition of "Cool Jobs" even cooler for you! And start your job search at Monster.com today.
November 21, 2011
Monster Global Poll: How Far Would You Go to Achieve Success?
A poll conducted by Monster shows that a majority (86 percent) of people polled would not engage in unethical behavior to advance their careers -- even in a competitive job market. Among those with fewer scruples, six percent admitted that they would be willing to engage in underhanded behavior, and four percent indicated that they would be willing to break the law if it meant they got ahead professionally.
We posed the question "In a competitive job market, how far would you go to be successful?" and received 4579 responses. International findings included:
- I would do underhanded things: 6 percent
- I would break company policy: 4 percent
- I would break the law: 4 percent
- I would do none of the above; I’m a professional: 86 percent
Only six percent of respondents would do underhanded things to achieve success, so workers can perhaps rest a little easier knowing their colleagues are not as likely to sabotage them as they might think. Further, an even smaller amount admitted they would violate their company’s policy (four percent) or break the law (four percent).
Workers in Mexico appeared to be the most ethical, with 88 percent of respondents indicating that they wouldn’t consider engaging in any unethical or illegal behavior, even if it meant professional advancement. However, workers in the Netherlands may be wise to keep an eye on their coworkers: 12 percent of respondents indicated they would do underhanded things if it meant achieving success.
“Despite a challenging labor market, most people refuse to compromise their ethics in order to get ahead professionally -- and that’s heartening,” noted Charles Purdy, Monster.com career expert. “But it’s important to keep in mind that employers and managers have some responsibility for the behavior of their staff. It’s up to companies to create and maintain cultures that value and promote fairness and ethical behaviour. Leaders should communicate core values to all employees -- not only through words but also through actions -- and implementing business ethics training will help clarify any gray areas for employees.”
The results of the current Monster Global Poll are based on votes cast by Monster visitors from: October 3 – October 16 2011. Only one vote per user is counted toward the final tabulation. The Monster Global poll, a product of Monster, the premier global online employment solution and flagship brand of Monster Worldwide, Inc., is a series of online polls that gauge users’ opinions on a variety of topics relating to careers, the economy and the workplace. These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinions of only those Internet users who have chosen to participate.
November 18, 2011
The Monster 5 for Friday -- Careers Edition -- November 18
On the employment front, we're looking at the coming weeks and months in a hopeful light: Bloomberg Business reported today that initial jobless claims have hit a seven-month low, and holiday hiring continues apace. With that in mind, here are some articles to take a look at this as we prepare for the weekend:
5. If you're available to work on Black Friday, Christmas Eve, and the day after Christmas, there may still be seasonal retail positions for you to snag -- with benefits in the short term and in the long term. The Chicago Tribune provides some tips, in "Seasonal Jobs Can Offer Longer-Term Benefits."
4. In this new Monster.com article, you can read about several careers that, according to the Occupational Information Network, "offer some of the strongest job opportunities and best career prospects in the near future." Read "Eight Bright-Outlook Careers."
3. New on the Monster.com Blog, we have tips from the author of a new book that describes seven "rules for getting hired in any economy." Read "Cracking the New Job Market."
2. And once you get that job, how can you guarantee that you'll keep it? Heather Huhman and Glassdoor.com offer tips in this blog post -- read "How to Be Effective Immediately in a New Job."
1. But sometimes, doing a great job just isn't enough -- you have to deal with duplicitous colleagues and underlings, too. For tips, read "What to Do If Someone Is Gunning for Your Job."
Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message. Also, get support and great job-seeker advice when you join our community on Facebook.
Also the Chicago Tribune piece.
November 17, 2011
7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Next Business Networking Event
By Ali Brown, Founder of
Ali International, LLC
Over the next few months, many job seekers will see plenty of invitations to business conferences and professional networking events. A live event can be invaluable, providing opportunities to learn new skills and develop new contacts who can advance your career or job search. And if you’re thinking about changing your corporate hat for an entrepreneurial one, an event can offer inspiration for a new business idea and connect you with the right people to start your journey.
Whether out-of-town or local, events are an investment in yourself and your career -- one that you can easily offset with new contacts and skills to land that job interview. To get the most from your next live event, consider these tips:
1. Start with the end in mind. If you're attending these events for the connections, make a note of the type of people you want to meet. For most job seekers, you're ideally looking to meet high-level executives in companies within your specific industry -- especially those who may be hiring. If you're attending a seminar to gain skills and inspiration, make a note of what your personal objectives are for the event. If you’re thinking of launching your own business, you could be seeking to discover possible clients, referral sources, or vendors.
2. Research topics, speakers, and panelists. Check out the website's agenda for the event, and know who will be speaking and what the topics are. If there are breakout sessions, tentatively decide which ones address your needs the most. By doing your homework, you'll be better informed, and be able to understand the training at a deeper level.
3. Know your strengths and gaps. Let's say that you know you excel at your area of expertise and are a top-notch project manager. You also want to be aware of the areas where you need improvement -- for example, your technical skills and sales skills. Just writing these thoughts down before the event will help you stay aware of opportunities presented at the event -- such as unexpected conversations.
4. Know some of your key contributions. In the event you meet a hiring manager or high-level executive, you may want to have ready a few relevant examples of how you’ve contributed to your past positions. Keep a cheat sheet handy with your sales numbers, internal improvements you’ve initiated, the number of team members you oversee, or money saved by your cost-cutting suggestions.
(Get tips on creating a personal-branding tagline and a winning "elevator speech," in "Build Your Brand.")
5. Connect with attendees. Seek out Facebook event pages or forums that have been created for your event. It’s a great way to virtually meet conference attendees before the event, so when you do meet in person, you’ll be fast friends. Keep an eye out for Tweetups -- impromptu gatherings of Twitter users -- or, better yet, organize one yourself.
6. Plan your travel well. If possible, arrive at your event destination a day or two early to relax, get acclimated, get on the same time zone, and get accustomed to your surroundings. Stay at the hotel where the conference is held to save time going from your room to the event, save money on car rental or cab fare, and increase your potential for connecting with other event attendees. (Your room is also a great place to get a little privacy and get a breather, so it's nice to have close by.)
7. Come prepared. Of course you’ll want to bring a stack of business cards, but also consider a thoughtful take-away item that sets you apart, such as a pocket-sized calendar with your professional contact information. Be clever and memorable.
You’re just abou t ready, but here are a few more must-haves: an empty water bottle for being green while you travel, a few of your favorite power bars or snacks, and a method for jotting down lots of notes and your all-important follow-up list of action items when you get back home.
Now get out there and get to work!
Entrepreneur mentor and success coach Ali Brown teaches women how to start and grow profitable businesses and create careers that make a positive impact. Learn more at www.AliBrown.com.
November 16, 2011
Cracking the New Job Market
But while these tactics are still important and effective, there are new rules -- and new mindsets -- to learn. Nowadays, employers are less interested in your past accomplishments than in what you can do for them in the immediate future. This new approach to getting hired requires new skills -- such as research, information-gathering, and "selling" yourself as a solution to whatever problems the employer is facing.
In his new book, "Cracking the New Job Market," R. William Holland, PhD -- a veteran human resources executive and career coach -- outlines these new realities, along with advice on getting hired in any economy. We spoke to Holland about his book and his job-seeking expertise:
Monster: Do you believe that "following your passion" is good advice today in choosing a career -- and has that changed in recent years?
Holland: Following your passion can be good advice, but too often it is not. Because of that, it ranks very high on my list of "frequently given bad advice." It's far more important for you to pick something at which you can excel, and for which others are willing to pay. Besides, most people misunderstand the relationship between passion and career choice. The world is full of great examples of people who were able to bask in the glory and satisfaction of good pay for a job well done and, as a result, developed a passion for what they were doing. It's nice if you're passionate about your work, but most people are not. And today, more than ever, passion alone is not a sufficient condition for making a living.
Technology and globalization have increased the competition for goods and services in the marketplace. There has been a corresponding increase in the requirement that employees produce something of value. You have a better chance of being valued by an employer if you excel at the job you have.
Monster: How has the advance of social media changed looking for a job and managing a career?
Holland: At one time, job seekers were told that networking was the most important part of their job search, and that even after landing a job they should maintain a close network of face-to-face contacts that could be called on when needed. They were urged to get away from their computers because, according to the career counselors, "you can’t find jobs there." Though networking is still important, the face-to-face component has been relegated to being an appendage of what can be accomplished on the computer, rather than a substitute for it.
Consider that the number of close face-to-face contacts one can maintain maxes out at around 250, while social networking allows you to reach across numerous networks and maintain an infinite number of contacts. Further, rather than engage in expensive reference-checking, companies now check a candidate's online presence before proceeding.
Monster: What are some traditional or "old-fashioned" methods that no longer serve job seekers -- especially older job seekers -- well?
Holland: I advise older workers to, rather than become a victim of their age, take advantage of their age. Globalization and rapid changes in technology have forced companies into a desperate search for people who can create value. And that can be you regardless of your age.
It used to be that Baby Boomers and Generations X and Y were defined by the years in which they were born. Now a new generation is emerging that is defined by how it sees the world rather than by its chronology. Today’s world (generation) is global, and the requirements for membership have more to do with one's ability to create value rather than one's age. It is a new mindset any of us can develop -- call it Generation Global.
But the new mindset for older workers is tricky and requires meticulous attention to detail -- on everything from how you dress for the interview (you can't wear yesterday's buttoned-up dark suit to an interview in a super-casual high-technology work environment) to how you speak. Referring to "back in the day" is a non-starter; stay focused on creating value going forward rather than on previous accomplishments.
Monster: Soon-to-be college grads and their parents are feeling hopeless about career prospects -- what is your advice for them?
Holland: My messages are specifically for parents who want to help their college-aged children become career-ready: Make sure your kids understand what employers are looking for in recent graduates. You can do that together by reviewing the position descriptions for jobs specific to their major. Even if they haven't declared a major or think they will change, companies still interview candidates with a wide range of majors and often stipulate that major is unimportant. You and your student should visit the campus placement center and take a close look at those descriptions; they will tell you exactly what the companies are looking for.
Businesses complain they can't seem to find enough students who can think critically, who have both verbal and written communications skills, and who have demonstrated analytical talent and job experience (in internships or volunteer jobs). Treat the balance of the time they have left in school as a resume-building opportunity -- time in which they work diligently to prepare themselves for a career. Given the competitive environment in which we live, our kids can no longer afford to treat college merely as a way station between adolescence and adulthood.
If your son or daughter has already graduated, they still need to identify those jobs for which they see themselves as a reasonable fit and develop a resume that speaks directly to what companies want. You/they can do it; my book, "Cracking the New Job Market," directly addresses these issues. Some recent graduates I know have used it with great success -- even in this lousy economy.
Monster: What skills should all workers be cultivating to stay relevant?
Holland: There are two answers. The first has to do with keeping up in your field -- this is the easy part: Attend professional meetings, participate in activities designed to keep abreast of new developments, and apply what you learn to your immediate work environment. The practical application of knowledge goes a long way in a competitive world toward the maintenance of relevancy.
The second answer is a little more complicated, difficult, and important: Today's organizational structures tend to be flatter and more efficient. As a result, people skills are more important than ever. You should think about leadership, project management, teamwork, and influencing without authority as some of the skills that are important to develop. Any course or class you can take to help you become a more effective team player could pay big dividends. The ability to get things done through others is a critically important way to create value in the environment in which you work.
For more tips on new job-search rules, read:
- Selling Yourself in the Job Interview
- Job-Search Mistakes of New Grads
- Online Professional Networking for Beginners
November 15, 2011
10 Tips: Managing Diminished Career Expectations
By Meghan M. Biro for Glassdoor.com
There are lots of people writing about how to do resumes or manage a job search, but not too many who are willing to admit there’s an elephant in the living room. But there is, and I’m going to give you a few tips on how to deal with it.
The elephant is your job –- the one you’re in and want out of, or the job you’re considering taking to get away from the one you have. Chances are it’s not the job you want, or the one you trained for or think you deserve. It pays the bills, but it doesn’t get you excited. It doesn’t use all your skills. The workplace culture or environment leaves something to be desired. Maybe the commute is killing you and the person in the next cube eats sardines every day for lunch. Maybe you don’t even have a cube.
Welcome to the new job reality: diminished expectations.
We all want a great job, but until the economy turns around, a good-enough job will have to do. But no one can afford to treat a job as though it’s just "good enough." To survive – both in the job and in your head -– you’ll have to bring your A game every day. Even if it is a B- job.
Here are some tips for managing in a time of diminished expectations:
>> Use positive affirmations to get yourself through the day. This sounds hippy-dippy but it works. Think positively. Tell yourself a positive story about your job, and it will be survivable.
>> Teach yourself one new skill a month. If you’re not challenged intellectually, you probably have spare cycles. Study statistical analysis -– it will come in handy when making charts, and it also requires analytical thinking. Teach yourself Excel or Powerpoint – the real skills, not just 101. Set up a website.
>> Start blogging. Writing things down makes them easier to process and brings insight. You can rant, but it’s more productive to write about a positive aspect of your job, or the day.
>> Polish your resume. Do this once a month. Frequent updates to online profiles make you more attractive as a candidate.
>> Help a coworker. Perhaps one of your colleagues could use help with a task. Maybe it’s something you’re interested or skilled in. Either way you get karma points.
>> Think about what you really want to do when you grow up. Examine your life, your decisions, your failures to decide, your current status. Be unflinching. This will prepare you for the next tip.
>> Write a job description for your dream job. Then read your resume and look for the disconnects. Now you have new tasks and a new goal.
>> Network with people who have the job you want. If you’ve done the two bullets above, you’ll be better positioned to make this pay off.
>> Seek out a career coach to help you examine –- and possibly reset -– your expectations. Maybe you’re way off. Maybe you weren’t an A student but thought you could bluff through to a big job. Not in this economy, and maybe never again. Be prepared to revise your life plan, at least the short-term version.
>> Do something for someone else. There’s huge satisfaction in helping others. Volunteer and you will become thankful.
Got some of your own techniques for coping with unrealized expectations? Let us know. Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
Guest blogger Meghan M. Biro, founder of TalentCulture, is a serial entrepreneur and globally recognized career expert in talent acquisition and creative personal and corporate branding. Meghan has conducted more than 300 successful career searches for clients ranging from Fortune 500s to the most innovative software start-up companies.