Three things to do at your job this week
The beginning of a new season is a perfect time to find new things
you can do at your job to increase your value and continue your professional development. Whether you have been in your
job for months or years, it's important to evaluate how you are working and look for ways to be a better teammate, leader,
and employee. Here are 3 things you can do at your job this week:
Share a skill. Every
member of a work team has certain skills that they personally define as their strengths. One way to help your team excel
and grow is to share your skills with your co-workers so they can get better too. If you are the techy person on the
team, find someone who consistently asks for help in that area and take time to show them something new that will benefit
future projects. If your strength is customer communication, share a ‘best practice' email with the team so everyone
can build that skill.
Ask your boss how you can help. This doesn't necessarily mean waiting
until there is a problem and then asking how you can be part of the solution, but that could be one way to help. Identify
how you could provide assistance on a project or on planning and ask how you can support your manager's efforts. The
key is to open the lines of communication so your boss knows that you are interested in supporting him and the team.
Learn - or plan to learn - something new. You could ask a co-worker with a skill you don't excel
at to help train you or share ideas on how you could increase your skill in a specific area. Or, you can find internal
training programs - formal, online, or informal. Or, you can determine what skill/function you want to learn and search
for external training. If you take that path the next step would be to have a discussion with your manager to establish
if the company will pay for the training as part of your professional development.
Some factors to consider in evaluating your next career opportunity
Whether you are a recent graduate searching for the first full-time
job or a tenured worker who wants to transition into a new opportunity, there are multiple factors to consider in evaluating
your next job. According to recent articles in HR Magazine®, a SHRM publication, depending on your stage in your
work life, some considerations will rank higher than others.
Younger workers determine whether a job is a fit
based on factors such as good pay, strong ethical culture of the company and having solid training. Employers that are
trying to attract more experienced workers are adjusting their compensation perks to include programming related to a greater
focus on wellness, professional development, flexible working and assistance with retirement savings and planning.
No matter which category you fall into, employers realize that employees' satisfaction is driven by respectful treatment,
a wide range of compensation types, trust between the employee and employer, job security, and opportunities to use their
skills and abilities. So when you are evaluating that next position, determine where you priorities lie, at this point
in your career, with these factors so you can best match your needs to what the company is offering you.
Use community resources to guide your career transition
Ready to make a move into an alternate industry but not sure which
ones are going to be the best in growth over the long term? There are places in your own community that have information
and people to help guide you. Check out these locations and resources in your area:
Community-based organizations - These can range from companies like Goodwill® to faith based services,
to demographic specific organizations. Search for career services and job search services and you may be surprised how many
places in your community are prepared with free resources to help you identify your skills and the industries where they could
be best used.
- American Job Centers - These are the hidden gems of resources for job search and transition.
Not only do the Job Centers have national and regional resources, they partner with local organizations to provide comprehensive
services to job seekers. Some of the information available includes; labor market information, current companies hiring locally,
training resources on all aspects of the hiring process, and economic development trend information for your area.
Labor market information can be one of the most valuable resources to review when considering an industry transition.
This is available at Job Centers or through your city's economic development department. Not only can you learn about
the industries with the highest growth and companies that are hiring, but oftentimes these reports include in demand jobs,
top skills desired by employers currently, and certifications or training that is necessary for the growing job sectors.
Workers may want to consider freelancing
Currently, 35% of the workforce is involved in some type of freelance
work and by 2025 it will be 50% of US workers. Employers are hiring freelancers to find skills that aren't currently
available in house and to meet project demands without having to hire FTEs. If you are transitioning between industries,
freelancing may be a great way to keep up your skills and show value to a prospective employer. Here are some considerations
when evaluating if freelancing is a fit for you:
- Is it currently used in your
industry? This isn't a deal breaker, but it helps if you have examples of companies that have successfully used freelance
workers on projects currently or in the recent past. If not, do you have strong relationships within a company that would
be willing to introduce the idea to management with you as the ‘beta test'?
- Can you market your availability
electronically? Beyond the use of social media, does your industry have platforms and websites that allow freelancers
to share their portfolios and possible skills? Upwork® is a platform to check out where various skills are needed to support
- Be prepared to expand your skills. Freelancers are perceived as flexible and
sometimes more tech savvy than in house workers may be. If you are open to being a team member who adapts to situations with
an ‘I can learn it' attitude, companies will appreciate your skills to an even greater extent.
Increasing your skills can help build a more impactful resume
Job seekers looking for positions in different companies or
different industries, should evaluate how new skills may assist in creating a competitive advantage. Each industry will
have certain requirements for general skills, but what can you do to increase your chances of being selected for an interview
because of your specific skills?
- Computer/technological skills - Can you use a
Mac and PC? Would it help to expand your abilities with a certain program or software to move to a different
position or industry? Improving current computer skills or learning new technological ones can be viewed by employers
as a good sign that you are interested in continuing your professional development.
- Language skills
- Job seekers who don't have conversational skills in languages beyond English, such as Spanish, that
are useful for the workplace, should consider developing them. Communities are becoming more and more diverse
and employers value bilingual capabilities, even if the job description doesn't call for them. Consider options
available at the local library or free apps on your phone for a low-cost start to get language skills.
skills - Depending on your field, this may or may not be as important. The ability to speak confidently
in a group, whether it is a formal presentation or not, may assist your development into positions of greater responsibility
in managing larger projects or teams of people. Organizations such as Toastmasters® are great places to
not only gain speaking skills, but also to increase your confidence and network across various industries.
Social media can be a valuable tool in career transition
Anyone in the job search process should consider if they are
maximizing the use of social media in the process. Sites that are tailored to your industry, networking sites, and informational
sites can all be valuable in providing helpful tips and guidance on potential positions in companies. Facebook®®
is a good source for some basic information on the current ‘hot topics' a company is focused on and viewing the company's
page before an interview can assist in giving you insight into what is important for their organization currently. If
you aren't maximizing LinkedIn®® as a resource, here are some things to put on your to do list:
- Update your profile information to be current with volunteer work or paid work experience you
- Request recommendations from previous supervisors and colleagues that can attest to the skills you need
to make the transition - communication, organization, technical skills - whatever is most relevant to the industry or company
you are pursuing.
- Check out the new ‘jobs' function on the system - look on the right hand side to find positions
that the search engine has found to match your past experience.
- Follow and join groups that are aligned with your
transition, either by company name or by industry.
- In preparation for an interview, search for the company, department,
and interviewer to formulate meaningful questions to ask at the end of the phone or face-to-face interview.
Volunteering could help you transition to your next career
Volunteering and giving back to the community are ways people
who are transitioning between jobs or industries can maintain skills and develop new ones. For people who are not currently
working in full-time positions, being able to contribute time and valuable talents not only help the organization they are
given to, but also keep the person actively involved in the community.
There are many locations that can use the skills
that job search candidates may have mastered in the workplace. Look for organizations with a focus in an area that is
of interest to you. If you are passionate about helping animals, then check out local animal shelters or rescue foundations
- perhaps you have skills in construction that could be used to help improve the shelter's facility, or if you are skilled
in accountancy or finance you could assist in managing or developing budgets for projects.
Some parents may be using
transition time to help out at their children's summer camp or school. Parent Teacher Organizations, lunchtime or playground
monitoring, even library assistance are usually volunteer positions that can always use extra manpower. Some school
districts will be looking for volunteers in tutoring after school hours - this is a great opportunity to use academic skills
and also gain valuable teaching and mentoring skills.
Transitioning workers should try to use volunteering opportunities
to build their skills and continue adding relevant content to their resume about the qualifications they can bring to the
employer. Your future employer will appreciate your commitment to ongoing professional development and your creativity
in helping the community too.
Four things to do for your career development now that you've graduated
Congratulations! You've graduated from a post-secondary educational
experience and are ready to start your first full-time job on your career path. Now you can forget about your resume
and interviewing and focus on your day-to-day activities, right? Before you get too comfortable, there are a few career
development steps to do now that will make it easier to maintain as you move through your first few post-graduation years.
- Update your resume now. Take time to add your new job to your latest version
using the job description. When you are ready to try and get a promotion or move to another company, you can avoid having
to dig this up under pressure.
- Change your social media profile information. Evaluate your LinkedIn®
profile and update your graduation date, organizations you were involved in, and add your new job. Join professional organization
groups in your industry. Put aside some time at the end of the first few months to add co-workers to your network.
Research internal groups you can get involved in. These could include special interest groups, training and
development groups, and/or volunteer groups. When you are onboarding with a company, it's a great time to ask questions about
ways you can get involved and network with peers beyond the day-to-day work projects.
- Practice your technological
and/or language skills. If you were hired in part due to your ability to effectively use certain technical programs
or use language skills in the workplace, now is the time to brush up your skills. Even though you may be using these on the
job, taking some time outside of work to become even stronger at them will make you even more valuable to your new employer.
Tips to pick a job search engine that fits
The internet has allowed the job search process to become simpler
in some ways and more complex in others. Job seekers have a myriad of options for search engines providing content on
open positions and companies looking for talent. Does it matter which website someone uses to find a position?
The answer is individualized by several factors. Use the questions below to help tailor which websites will be most
effective for you.
- Are you looking to relocate for a position? Larger,
established companies such as Monster® and Career Builder® may be better places to look for companies who may compensate
for a relocation. Smaller organizations may not be able to afford the cost to use these national sites.
there a website that specializes in the area or industry you are pursuing? For example, The Ladders® has sites
within their site that breakdown positions into sales, management, marketing etc. Using one of their sub-sites may help minimize
the amount of time needed to search.
- Do you belong to a professional association that has a job board?
National or regional associations could provide a resource by listing local positions on their websites.
The key is to pick a couple of websites and be consistent in using them. By setting the timeframe for search to ‘3
days' and then checking on Sundays and Thursdays will ensure that you won't miss any new opportunities. Allocate a certain
amount of time each of those days to search and stick to it - don't get stuck searching all day because you didn't research
what websites can provide you the most value with companies specific to the industry.
Take steps now for a career transition
Preparing to make a career transition can be an overwhelming
task that is easier with focus and taking steps to be ready for an opportunity at any time. As the summer approaches,
stores are getting ready for seasonal clothing changes. Getting an appropriate interview suit is just one key step to
being ready for interviews in advance.
- Research companies in the field you want to transition
to for common skills that they list in postings for positions. If you need to build more proficiency in those areas,
consider taking a class or workshop, or find ways to use the skills in volunteer or organization experiences.
Update your resume to reflect key results you have achieved that fit objectives for some positions you will
post for in the industry.
- Identify common questions you expect to receive in a phone
screen interview and prepare some examples to show your skills in different areas. Plan to attend upcoming career fairs
with employers in the industry you are transitioning to.
- Plan time each week to search for
job opportunities through search engines, networking sites such as LinkedIn, and news media.
By preparing for interviews
in advance, you can spend time researching the company and position and practicing for interviews once you submit for positions
Professional organizations can help in your career development
Each city has a number of professional associations that can
help job seekers leverage their skills and develop new ones. Whether a candidate is looking to transition into a new
department in a current company or to move from one industry to another, professional associations provide support in different
Building a network
When choosing a professional association, it's important
to consider how closely aligned the group is to your specialty in the industry you are in or transitioning to. Some
organizations may have formed to provide social support or political agendas instead of networking and professional development.
Each candidate should select based on the goals you want to achieve at that point.
Developing new skills
Transitioning into a new department or industry may require learning new skills and a professional
association could be a great place to find a source for training outside the workplace and in the industry. The association
itself may also be able to provide opportunities to develop skills such as leadership, teamwork, or organization. Look
for ways to participate on committees or boards for some of these positions.
Check out different options for professional
associations through search engines and career based websites to determine which organizations can provide the most value
for your situation in the career search process.
Develop strategies for attending career fairs
Developing a strategy for attending a career fair can help job
seekers feel confident before, during, and after the event. Whether the fair is being held in a large venue like a convention
center or arena or in a more intimate setting like a single ballroom in a hotel, there are some similar strategies to maximize
your time and impact to prospective employers.
- Dress for the interview. Career
fairs are one to five minute interviews, so it is appropriate to wear a suit as you would for a formal interview. It is always
better to be more than less formally dressed, regardless of the industry you are interested in working for.
a list of skills you have to provide employers. The list should be a reference for you to evaluate if a job would
be a possible fit - use it when checking what positions will be recruited for at the career fair. Have notes about the employers'
jobs and how your skills are aligned to their needs.
- Be ready to answer questions about everything on your
resume. With a limited amount of time to meet with candidates, it's important to be prepared for any of the topics
that could come up from content on your resume to maximize your conversations with recruiters. Tailor each resume to content
focused on the specific role you are interested in.
- Create an introduction that tells the employer what is
in it for them to keep talking to you. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘one minute sell'. Give the recruiter
a brief reason why you are interested in the company and what skills you have that are relevant along with a couple of results
you have achieved in positions previously using those skills. This tells the person that you have done the research to understand
how you can provide value to their team.
Evaluate your methods on how to recruit Millennials
Millennials will make up 75% of all US workers by 2025 and they will
be managing a Gen-Z workforce. So what can your organization do today to make sure you are utilizing the most effective
recruitment methods to attract and retain talent in these demographics? No matter what role you
have in the recruitment process, it's important to understand how your recruiting is interpreted by the youngest generation
- They want to know about job opportunities - always. Unlike
their predecessors, these generations are open to hearing about new career moves consistently. Thirty percent of millennials
in a 2016 LinkedIn® survey said they see themselves working for their current employer for less than one year. So the
companies that are communicating with high quality talent on a consistent basis will be most likely to get them on the team.
- Communicate with them in their comfort zone. Don't throw out every old school method, but be adaptable.
Request creative content in the candidates' cover letters such as the answer to a question that shows something about their
personality. Prepare to use texting and web chats too - these are the newest ways to catch and keep the attention of these
- Be open about your culture and mission. Include discussion of the company's culture
and values in your recruiting presentations and materials. Explaining the industry's potential growth and the corporate approach
for social responsibility will help candidates determine alignment with their personal goals and values.
them a clear path for their short-term future. Having a clear career path to share with candidates and continue to
share with new employees is an important component of successfully recruiting and retaining Millennials. Be ready to share
how they fit into the company now and how management and HR will help them move forward in the future.
Jobs report is promising but not for all industries
Job seekers should definitely be encouraged by the latest statistics
about employment. There are, however, some industries that have not seen positive hiring trends in the past few months.
Traditional retail stores have been downsizing in staff rather than increasing personnel. This is due in large part
to the increase in online purchasing both on direct websites and third party ones such as Amazon®. So, if you are
in the retail sector and want to start planning a move, what are the key steps to make a transition?
Identify industries that need your skills. Think outside the box on this. Retail staff have a myriad of soft
skills including communication, organization, problem-solving etc. Jobs in healthcare, public service, education, and general
business all need people with those skills in various departments. Figure out which companies are hiring in your market and
search for jobs with your skills in the keywords.
- Update your documentation electronically and online.
Obviously a current resume and cover letter are must haves, but you should make sure that they are tailored to the companies
you want to potentially work for. Don't forget to make your online presence (LinkedIn®) current also with any training,
certifications, or job responsibilities you have taken on in the past 6 months.
- Let your network know you
are looking for a change. It's surprising how often job seekers forget that their friends and relatives and past
co-workers and supervisors are a great resource. If you left your last job on good terms, and it's not in the retail sector,
reach out to those people also - they may have something that is perfect for you to transition to.
Manage the path to your next promotion
A recent issue of SHRM magazine noted a Glassdoor survey which asked
managers what they want to see from their employees in order to promote them. Regardless of your industry or level in
your organization, the list of seven tactics not only make sense, but if you commit to doing some of these things on a daily
basis, your manager will definitely take notice when it's time to move someone up the ladder.
Develop a can-do attitude. Perception of your teammates and supervisor on your willingness to try new things
or work on varied projects is important. Think about the people you most want to be around - they are pleasant to be around
because even when there is an obstacle, they try to find solutions and options. Your positive attitude about your responsibilities
and results you provide to the job can impact the overall enthusiasm and culture of the team.
- Lend a helping
hand to other employees. You don't need to be the Director of Training or a formal mentor to help teammates be successful.
Identify what skills you have that someone else needs to gain, or experiences that you have had in your role that you can
share with somebody in your department. Ask your manager if there is someone who needs assistance too - you may take some
training activities off their plate.
- Keep a kudos file. This is a great best practice for every
business professional. Emails, presentations, communication with customers/clients, recognition from your supervisor and others,
internal projects - all of these are important documents to save. The way this helps your supervisor is when he/she is looking
for details about why you should receive the promotion - you will have the data to help them document your abilities and successes
for your future manager.
Leverage mentoring for your next career step
Depending on the stage you are at in your career, you may have already
had an opportunity to mentor or be mentored. A prominent MBA program on the West Coast defines mentoring as "Mentoring
is a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to foster the
personal and professional growth of someone else" but mentoring is also an internal company method to maximize your network.
Whether you are interested in managing people in your next role (or more people than you currently manage), desire an opportunity
to move between departments or divisions, or enjoy helping others learn skills that you have mastered, mentoring can be the
vehicle that helps achieve your goal and moves you closer to the next step in your career.
Find someone to
mentor you - informally or formally. The best mentors have had strong role models so if you have had a mentor,
consider how they benefited your development. If you haven't had a mentor yet, identify who would be a good candidate.
Your direct supervisor may not be the best choice, so look for someone who is going to meet your objectives. Evaluate
the person's appropriateness with these criteria:
- Within your own department - do they
have skills that you would need to improve, increase, or learn to move into the next role you want to have in the company?
Outside the department - is the company open to cross-departmental training, transfers, and promotions?
- In external
organizations - women's groups, softball team, community outreach groups are all sources to consider, but be sure that you
are selecting based on the person's overall ability to provide you support and development, not just be a buddy to you.
Offer to mentor someone - informally or formally. Having a discussion with your supervisor
about your interest is paramount to successful mentoring. The reality is that it may take time during your work hours
and you will need their support to be effective as a mentor.
- Within your own department
- ask for opportunities to support the team with your strengths. Your manager may be able to assist you in formally establishing
a plan that coordinates your goal with a developmental plan for another member of the team.
- Outside the department
- this can be very relevant for companies that are merging departments and need cross-training. In smaller organizations this
can also be helpful for on-boarding new employees on the policies and strategies of the company overall.
the time you will commit to both your supervisor and the person you are planning to mentor - setting the expectations with
everyone involved will create an open environment to have a win-win result for both you and the person you are mentoring.
Networking best practices for your current career
Whether you have just started a new career this year or are working
toward a job shift, it's important to consider how you will be managing your network during the transition. Your network
is a constantly changing entity that should be evaluated as you move throughout your career. So, if you change companies,
move into new departments or learn new skills to change industries completely, how should you examine your network?
Here are some things to consider:
1. What social media platforms do you use
Facebook® is great for certain networking, but not necessarily for business or professional
networking. Evaluate what social media platforms your industry uses to communicate professional development opportunities,
professional organization meetings, and continuing education sessions. Make sure that you are connected with those groups/organizations
on the right internet based systems so you can maximize your development.
is in your current network?
As you transition from an academic experience or a current role into a new one,
it's important to see who is in your current network and determine how they will potentially influence your future network.
Don't eliminate people from your social network, but be forward thinking on who you can connect with who is a Connection at
the 2nd or 3rd level and be strategic about how an introduction to those people could build your career
3. How can you best network with people in your new department/company/industry?
If there is an internal company committee that you can be part of - join it. If you can cross-train or shadow someone
in another department, do that. If there are special interest committees that you can join, check them out.
Three things you can do this week for your manager
Obviously every industry and department and job function has their
own specific ways that they can provide value to their direct supervisor. But - here are a few ways to consider making
yourself more valuable to the overall function of the team or finding ways to improve processes and ways the team works together.
- Find a way to help a co-worker be more confident. Notice this didn't
mention making your co-worker more efficient or productive - although those could be the results of your support to them.
This support is a little deeper way for someone to bring out their strengths and share them in the organization. Strong teams
are built on utilizing everyone's strengths to grow.
- Commit to continuing your skill development. You
know PowerPoint but if a slide needs to be modified you need to ask Sally for help. You can put numbers into the internal
expense database but you ask Jim to check your figures. Communicate with your manager that you are going to take a training
class, ask for help from a co-worker, or go externally for training to be a more competent member of the team in whatever
area you decide to build upon your current skills.
- Identify a way to make the boss' job easier. This
isn't referring to offer to get him his specialty coffee in the morning, pick up his dry cleaning, or walk his dog. Think
about relevance to the job - are there activities, reporting, meetings that your boss doesn't really need to be involved in
where you can be his ‘eyes and ears' and report back? Consider participating in committee meetings or company volunteering/community
give back projects where you can contribute in a positive way and are also able to add input to your boss on how to manage
those activities more effectively in the future.
Video interview skills you need to know
With companies maximizing their budgets in this economy,
some job seekers may find themselves being asked to conduct a video interview. This format allows the company to keep
HR personnel and hiring managers in the office and still have a personal experience of seeing the candidate answer questions.
Here are some best practices to this newer form of interviewing:
Dress for the interview. Wear a suit or equally appropriate interview attire for your industry
and the position you are applying for and be as professional as you would if you were meeting them in person. Having a video
interview is a convenience to the interviewer and is not a convenience to you as the candidate. The reality is that you need
to still dress for the occasion as if you were going to the corporate headquarters.
yourself in a room with a neutral background. Some candidates will conduct a Skype® or WebEx® or GoToMeeting®
interview with their kitchen or bedroom in the background. This could be distracting to the interviewer. Try to find a blank
wall that will keep the person focused on what you are saying.
- Practice with a friend
to make sure that you have functionality with your webcam and the system the employer is using. Don't wait until
10 minutes before the interview to download WebEx® or GoToMeeting® or whatever system they use. Ask what program they
are using and download it in advance.
- Check your volume and get a separate microphone
if you need to. Some people know that they talk quietly and the interview process is not the time to be the soft
spoken person, especially via computer. Detachable microphones are very affordable and can make the most soft spoken person
sound confident and interview appropriate.
- Practice your speaking level with a friend.
Get online with someone you trust to be candid with you and practice your tone and level of speech. This person can
also help you determine if there are any other bad habits you may have such as wandering eye contact, overuse of your hands,
or unnecessary words like ‘um' and ‘you know'.
- Practice answers to commonly
asked questions. Have any supporting documents prepared and in front of you as a reference as well. Candidates that
can share information during the interview and then offer to send it to the interviewer will have an advantage during the
Valuable administrative skills could put you ahead of the competition
metropolitan area has workforce departments at the city and county level who collect and analyze labor market information
on a monthly and/or quarterly basis. This data is very important for the job seeker to review.
Not only can you see the current jobs and industries most in demand in your geography, but you can also determine certain
skills and certifications that employers are looking for most. Soft skills are always crucial, but depending
on your field, your administrative skills and abilities may give you a strategic advantage in the hiring candidate pool.
Here are some areas of note in the latest labor market information from December:
Microsoft Office – it doesn’t matter if you are a ‘Mac’ or a ‘PC’
person, Office programs are a must have skill for most jobs. Take a look at current job listings you want
to apply for to determine if you need to refresh on certain programs or if you can leverage your skills as a strength in the
– Your skills in this area could range from knowledge of using online programs such as Google Calendar to more ‘old
school’ methods like managing a hard copy schedule for several teammates on a certain project. Having
the ability to examine the needs of a team or project and determine the appropriate manpower timing allocation can be an important
skill depending on your field.
Budgeting – Obviously, there are some jobs that require high levels of expertise in this area
(finance, accounting, etc.). Other positions may not have this as a primary function, but could be a ‘value
added skill’ from the employer’s perspective. Even in entry-level sales positions, there may
be a need to budget for expenses, account development, or promotional materials.