Archive for the 'Career/Life Balance' Category

Ask for What You Want At Work. Or: Don’t Ask for Orange Juice if You Want Grape Juice

Have you ever known someone who doesn’t ever seem to know just what he or she wants? I know someone like that. In fact, I know him really well. He’s my 2-year old. He is in a constant state of not knowing exactly what he wants. A typical conversation:

Him: I want peanut butter and jelly. On bread.

Me: You want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Can you ask in a nice way?

Him: No. I want a waffle. (He proceeds to start removing an apple from the refrigerator.)

Another typical conversation at our house:

Him: I want orange juice.

Me: What’s a nice way to ask? (Pouring orange juice.)

Him: Please! No, I don’t want orange juice. I want GRAPE juice. In a cup.

I think you get the picture. If I’m lucky, he changes his mind before I prepare what he initially requested, but more often than not, I’m faced with trying to convince him to eat what he originally wanted or starting over. If I had a dollar for every time I say, “Oh…I should have known that when you asked for orange juice (and took it out), it really meant that you want grape juice!” – I would be on some island somewhere – someone would be serving ME drinks!

So, what does this have to do with the topic at hand? What does it have to do with your job?

Think about it – Do you really know what you want? Are you like the 2-year old who is asking for orange  juice, but really wanting grape juice? Are you impulsive, asking for (or wishing for) the first thing that comes to your mind? Unlike my 2-year old, whose only real consequence for his indecision is needing to say a few extra “pleases” or being stuck with whatever he first requested, there are real consequences for professionals who either don’t know what they want or don’t know how to ask for it.

What to do? Stop and think! Tiffany Monhollon writes that you should “stop, listen and move.”

It isn’t always easy to figure out what you really want. It certainly isn’t easy to decide to make a major change in the hopes of accomplishing what you really want. It is worth it, though. Don’t let life, or your job, just happen TO you. Stop. Listen. Move. If you want grape juice – don’t just ask for it – do what my 2-year old does when he is really desperate and I’m taking too long – get it out and pour it yourself!

Realize that you are ready to leave your job? Subscribe for free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt! Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

Need help to jump start your search? We can help you with a successful job hunt. Need a great resume? Career search advice? Mock interivew? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

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Why Use Twitter?

As a regular Twitter user, I have become a big fan of the micro-blogging platform that invites you to share thoughts in pithy, 140-character blasts. Chances are, you:

  • Have never heard of Twitter.
  • Have heard of it, but think it is just another way to waste your time, or
  • You love Twitter and use it to keep in touch with friends, colleagues and to meet people.

If you are in the first category and have never heard of Twitter, this is a good time to get acquainted! My favorite place to learn about social networking applications is on commoncraft.com. They have a great video that describes Twitter in very easy to understand terms.

I must admit, before I found a niche of people to “follow” on Twitter (that is – people whose “tweets” I receive on my home page) – I thought the whole thing seemed like a big waste of time. Once I got over the fact that so many people share what they are eating for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I realized that, by following the right people, I would be “in the loop” on up-to-date information my colleagues all over the country (and world) are sharing. It is also a wonderful way to form new connections with other professionals, clients and business owners.

So, if you are looking for a job or are a professional in your field (working for someone or an entrepreneur), these are the reasons I think you should try Twitter:

Get Connected. There is no doubt that Twitter facilitates connections. It is a great place to introduce someone or to get introduced in an informal way. You can learn who is talking to whom in your field and choose to “follow” people who are “in the know.” Unlike Facebook, where it is kind of creepy if you start trying to “friend” people who are connected to your contacts, it is much more acceptable (and expected) to follow people on Twitter because another friend or colleague does.

Personally, I have had phone conversations with several colleagues, shared information with many and am working on several partnerships directly as a result of our interactions on Twitter.

Business Growth. No doubt that you can grow your business using Twitter. Chris Brogan wrote 50 ideas for using Twitter for business. He notes, instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?” (as Twitter suggests), answer the question, “What has your attention?” He also reminds us that it’s great to retweet something your friends or colleagues have shared. This is a terrific way to connect and potentially lay the groundwork for networking opportunities.

Yes, you can get business on Twitter, but don’t think of it only as a way to get business. The idea is to be in the networking space, which will lead to great opportunities as you grow your connections and help each other.

Personal Branding. For those unfamiliar, personal branding is the way “individuals differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd.” Twitter is a great way to build your personal brand. By sharing professional information along with just the right amount of personality, you can strengthen your personal brand and help people get to know you. The result – those who know (and like) you will become part of your network and will be willing to help you when you have questions or need help.

Look for a Job. Deb Dib (the CEO coach – an esteemed career professional and someone I’ve gotten to “know” on Twitter), wrote an in-depth post on how Twitter can be useful for the job search. She asks, “Where can you create almost instant exposure to (and build credibility with) other executives, recruiters and the press?” The answer – Twitter!

Stay tuned for a post that answers the question, “Can you find a job on Twitter?”

Convinced that Twitter may be a good use of your time? Feel free to follow me:
http://twitter.com/Keppie_Careers

If you want to receive free up-to-date tips to help with your job hunt, Click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you via email! Prefer to subscribe in a reader? Click here for a link to receive Keppie Careers’ feed sent to the reader of your choice.

We can help you with a successful job hunt. Need a great resume? Career search advice? Visit Keppie Careers online for information about our services: www.keppiecareers.com.

Work Making You Tired? Seek a Job With This Great Perk!

Newsweek reports that about 37% of Americans nap during the day. (Presumably, this does not include the toddler set.) Apparently, workers regularly sleep in their cars, in storage rooms, at the gym or even in the bathroom! There is even a New York City store called Yelo with private rooms for quick, lunch time naps. For just under $1/minute, you have access to a private sleep pod. (Well worth the price, it seems, compared to sleeping in the bathroom!)

Some workplaces, believing that naps help “increase creativity, memory and alertness” are offering designated sleeping spots on site. A diverse array of employers, including shoe retailer Zappos.com,
Workman Publishing and Yarde Metals offer sleep areas, with Yarde Metals providing “a darkened room equipped with a reclining chair that vibrates to music as a TV screen plays video of a babbling brook, crackling fireplace, beach scene or fish tank.”

The ideal nap? 20 minutes, according to Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. Much longer and you actually become more groggy.

So, if you are looking for a job, you may want to see if your potential employer offers “nap benefits.” I would venture a guess that many more offer “caffeine benefits,” research about productivity notwithstanding!

If you want to receive free up-to-date information about workplace trends and tips to help with your job hunt, click here to subscribe to receive future blogs sent directly to you!

Job hunt tiring you out? Keppie Careers is here to help! We will take all of the stress out of writing your resume and getting started with your job hunt. Contact us: results@keppiecareers.com.

photo by thepretenda

Balance or Blend for Your Job Hunt – Which is Desirable?

Subtitle: Separate but Not Equal?

In a post in her Shifting Careers column last week, Marci Alboher links to a blog by Venkatesh Rao, ribbonfarm.com. Rao illustrates work-life balance vs. work-life blending:

Work-life

This is a topic that is top-of-mind for many job seekers, some of whom are actually considering leaving their current jobs because they don’t have enough of a personal life. It is certainly a big topic for the Gen-Y crowd, notorious for seeking balance at work and refusing to put in the long hours needed to climb the corporate ladder set up by previous generations.

This is also an issue for many full-time job seekers – where do you draw the lines between your job hunt and the rest of your life? Can you make a distinction between “time to job hunt” and “time to relax?” Should you?

The idea of a “blended life,” where work and personal life co-exist seamlessly and intertwine in a zen-like state is tough to achieve. The alternatives, totally separating work and personal time (as in balance) or having no personal time at all (as in workaholic) can be equally difficult!

When “work” is actually a job hunt, the lines are further blurred!

I advise my clients who are job hunting full time to focus on a balance – make specific time to job hunt and specific time to remove yourself from the job hunt to relax.

Does that mean that while checking personal emails, a job seeker should NEVER respond to a great lead that pops into his or her “in” box? No, but it does mean that the job seeker shouldn’t regularly allow scheduled “down” time be eaten up by job hunting duties. If it seems reasonable to respond during “job hunting” hours to an inquiry that is not urgent, that is the preferable choice.

I think any job seeker knows that, with online searches and forums and blogs, the amount of time a job hunt can take is exponential. There is always another path to follow. Everything seems urgent, and some job hunters act as if down time is “wasted time.” They think, “If time is money, every minute not job hunting is wasted money.”

In fact, blending job hunting time into “living” time seems a sure path to burn-out and frustration. While you may pursue a job that fits into a blended work/life situation, you should consider balancing your job hunt. (See the picture above – job hunting time on one side, personal time on the other side. I don’t know that they need to always be equal, but they should be separate!)

One of my clients makes a point to relax in front of old movies, just to get his mind off of things. He does this, even when he has several leads to follow-up. He realizes, to his benefit, that he will have time to pursue the leads when he is well-rested and relaxed. This knowledge keeps his batteries charged and helps prevent burnout.

So, if you are looking for permission to relax and re-charge – here it is! Take some time to take care of yourself. You (and your search) will be better for it!

Need help getting balance in your job search? Keppie Careers can take the stress out of your job hunt. We’ll write your resume and tell you exactly how to get your search off the ground. Want help every step of the way? We can do that! Contact Keppie Careers: results@keppiecareers.com.

Is Your Head Spinning?

Wednesday.  Hump day.  The only thing I can think to say is “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  It seems as if every post in the past week has been about change.  Resumes may be changing.  The workforce is going to change.  Work itself may change, although it may take 10 or 20 more years.

We need to be ready for change.  We need to prepare.  Train.  Think ahead.  We don’t want to be left on the cutting room floor while all of our colleagues move on.  It’s enough to make you want to take a nap!

With all of this impending change, it’s a good idea to stop and review the here and now.  Don’t get too caught up in the what ifs of the future that you miss something in the present.  No, you don’t want be left behind.  You want to keep up-to-date.  Change will come – with or without you. 

Seems like the day before Valentine’s Day is a good time to suggest that you stop and smell the roses. 

Keppie Careers will help you prepare for change.  Resume writing, career coaching…we do it all – www.keppiecareers.com

Boomers Retire – A Brave New Work World?

Tammy Erickson of Harvard Business Online recently wrote about the changes that may be coming as a result of baby boomers reaching retirement age.  I’ve written about how the workplace may need to become more flexible to avoid the “brain drain” that would occur as more mature and experienced workers leave their companies.  Erickson’s prediction goes beyond suggesting the employers will offer flexible jobs:

Over the next several decades, as more sectors face the looming talent shortage, there will be a rapid increase in the number of people who work in cyclical or project-based arrangements—many with no fixed affiliation to one corporation. It’s even possible that project-based work will become the norm in several decades—with most workers operating as what some have called “intellectual mercenaries” assembled by project, as needed.

Essentially, these “cyclical” workers are what might today be called contractors…They come in to do a job, get the work done and leave.

Imagine if our workforce really adjusted to this type of scenario.  Many workers would be like cogs in an ever spinning wheel.  Benefits could go by the wayside, as only a select group of essential workers would be considered “full time” employees.  Presumably, some permanent jobs may be lost, but many would benefit from the flexible arrangements. 

Erickson suggests that this workplace may be decades in the future.  It’s difficult enough planning for next month’s workplace, let alone for something that may happen 10 years down the road.  However, the suggestions she makes to prepare seem timely and well suited to anyone in today’s workforce who hopes to influence their own career path.

In summary, Erickson suggests:

  • Building and maintaining your professional network.
  • Understand your skills and talents and where they can be put to use.
  • Keep current on research and thinking in your field.
  • Keep licenses and certifications up to date.
  • Maintain a home office as a launching pad for marketing and selling your skills as well as maintaining records of billable hours.
  • Don’t become so immersed in the “here and now” that you forget to take time to consider planning for the next thing.

This last point strikes me as particularly important.  In any changing or volatile work environment, don’t let yourself get so caught up in getting through the week that you forget that another Monday is just around the weekend.  We could all benefit by more involved planning and efforts on our own behalf to ensure that we are really driving our own career bus.

Keppie Careers will help you drive your own career bus.  www.keppiecareers.com

Can Being Too Happy Hurt Your Career?

From BusinessWeek, February 11, 2008…

Researchers from several large universities determined that people who rate themselves as an 8 on a happiness scale of 10 (ten being the most happy), actually achieve and earn more than those who top out at a 10.   So, why are the slightly less happy workers doing better than their extremely happy counterparts?

The theory is that the 8s excel at work because they “know when to worry.”  Apparently, a little negativity can’t hurt when it comes to a realistic outlook on the job.  Don’t slide too far down the happiness scale, though.  Studies show that happiness is associated with many benefits, such as better health.

Realistic, yet happy..Seems like a good life balance.

___________

Keppie Careers will help you transform your resume and achieve your career goals.  www.keppiecareers.com


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