Archive for February, 2008
Sunday, February 24th, 2008
If you are considering a career change that involves leaving your current employment, there will come a time when you must tell your employer. That conversation is no less important than any other step in changing your career. Choosing the right time to announce your resignation requires some planning and understanding.
Rule One: If you have a contract that defines how much notice is required, honor that contract. Violating your contract can put more than just your honor at risk. There can be legal and financial consequences of giving less notice than is required by your employment contract. All of the remaining rules assume that you are first abiding by any contractual agreements.
Rule Two: Don’t give notice of leaving your job until you have firm confirmation of what you will be doing next. If you are going to another job, wait until you’ve accepted a written offer. If you are starting your own business or retiring, don’t turn in your resignation until you have begun a clear plan and are ready to act.
Rule Three: Except in certain circumstances, don’t give more than one month’s notice. The problem with resigning too early is that both you and your employer can easily grow anxious about your departure. This anxiety will often interfere with your work and do damage to your relationship. If you believe your employer needs more advanced notice, carefully consider the possible consequences. I have personally made the mistake of giving notice to early only to have my supervisor respond by showing dissatisfaction in my work for the first time. And even thought I thought my employer would use the time to search for my replacement, they did not begin looking until my final week on the job.
Rule Four: Tell your employer before you tell co-workers and other business associates. You don’t want your employer to hear from someone else that you are leaving. Telling others first will put your reputation and relationship at risk. You don’t want to burn bridges with your current employer. Who knows, they may someday be your customer.
Rule Five: Except in extreme circumstances, never give less than two weeks notice. Even if problems at work make you want to leave on the spot, think first about what is best for you. Working just two more weeks shows your commitment to doing thing right. Give your notice, put in a few more days of excellent work, then move on to the next exciting stage in your career. By the way, the two weeks should not include using paid leave unless your employer recommends it and you agree.
When it’s time to move on, give careful thought to how you will make your resignation. Choose a time that is fair to your employer and allows for a friendly departure. Regardless of your plans for today, you never know how important that relationship may be in the future.
Thursday, February 21st, 2008
I found some excellent reading on the Internet this week for all you midlife career changers. So here’s my recommended reading list for today:
Creating Brand You – Have you considered how important it is to market yourself? Paul Brown examines the importance of seeing yourself as a brand to be marketed and valued in this New York Times article.
The Answer to the Toughest Interview Question – Penelope Trunk from Brazen Careerist helps you answer the trickiest question a potential employee will ask: “What salary are you looking for?”
Authenticity in Business and Other Lies – I love this blog. Catherine Lawson offers great advice for business, and this time she exposes some of the more common lies told in the business arena.
Overcome Your Fear of Career Change Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 – Maret McCoy has a wonderful website for women called Compass Life Designs. But this series of articles is relevant to anyone frustrated with their current employment.
Tips to Fine-Tune Your Resume for a Career Change (Podcast) – If you’re looking to start a new career, here’s a podcast interview with Kim Isaac’s, Monster.com’s Resume Expert, talking about creating a resume design just for the career changer. It’s worth a listen.
I will try to keep you informed of the best career change information on the Web at least every couple weeks. So be sure to check back for great original posts and the Coryan Recommends reading lists.
Sunday, February 17th, 2008
Whether its the singing in the cubicle or the mess in the break room, anyone who works in an office has had to deal with annoying coworker behaviors. But what’s the best way to address these problems? Here are some strategies for making your work environment a little less frustrating and your coworkers a bit more tolerable.
My first recommendation is to just be honest. Let the person know what it is that bothers you and why. Be polite, but direct. I believe most annoying coworkers simply don’t know that they are bothering others in the office. Maybe Tom figures that since his office mates loved his rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody during Karaoke Night, that his singing might be welcomed in the office as well. When this happens, just mention to Tom that you have a hard time getting your work done when he signs. By saying the problem is with your concentration, it lessens the blow to Tom’s ego.
Here are some specific tips you can try when simply being honest is not working:
When a coworker drops by frequently to chat – The next time Wanda comes by your office to chat, stand up to greet her. Then remain standing during the conversation. Don’t offer her a seat or comment on what she is sharing. At the first pause, smile and let politely say something like, “Interesting, well, I have to get back to work.” Oh, and don’t have a candy jar on your desk unless you want to invite coworkers to drop by.
When a coworker uses their speaker phone in a cubicle or office with the door open – If they are in an office with a door, simply get up and close the door yourself. When you do this, nod to the person as if you are trying not to disturb them. Maybe they will get the hint. If there is no door to close, you may just have to have another talk about your problem concentrating with loud conversation around you.
When a team member isn’t doing their share – First, be sure that the team member feels comfortable in the group and understands their role. Provide opportunities for them to get involved. Sometimes their lack of work is simply not being sure what is expected of them. If that still doesn’t work, you may want to have a talk with your supervisor. It’s not fair for the group to carry one team member.
A coworker with an offensively strong odor – Odors from cologne, food or just lack of good hygiene are difficult to address. People tend to take odor issues very personally. But these matters must be addressed head on. If this is a problem that others have also noticed, I suggest having someone who gets along well with the coworker talk to them in private. If no one wants to do this, or the problem persists, the coworkers supervisor will need to get involved.
Your coworker always needs your help resolving problems or completing tasks – First, be sure the person has been properly trained for the position. Try giving them written instructions for the problem tasks. If the problem is with office equipment such as the computer or copier, show them where the manual is and suggest they try to solve the problem before seeking help. Next time they ask for help, you ask them if they have tried everything in the manual. Make them responsible for working out the problem.
Some coworker problems are best handled by the person’s immediate supervisor. In the end, the boss is responsible for creating a pleasant and productive work environment. If your attempts to handle a problem have proven unsuccessful, speak to your supervisor and ask them to resolve the matter. Sometimes the worse office problems such as gossip and worker laziness must be addressed by management. Don’t hesitate to speak to someone higher up when the problem is affecting your workday.
Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
What do your coworkers do that just drives you insane? Here’s my list of fifteen annoying coworker habits that I’ve compiled from personal experience, reading and conversations with others. Compare this to your own list and let me know what you think.
15. Using speaker phone in a cubicle or office with the door open – First I hear the insanely loud dial tone for a few seconds while you get ready to dial the phone number. Then I get to hear both sides of a conversation that we have no interest in.
14. Unproductive team members – Ah, the joy of team work. Why does there always seem to be one team member who feels content to let everyone else do the work, but is always there to take the credit.
13. Sucking up to the boss – And speaking of credit, the office brown-noser can’t wait to find a new way to be recognized by the boss, even at the expense of others. This person is always there to remind the supervisor just how wonderful they are.
12. Emailing “reply to all” when not everyone needs the message – My email box is full enough with junk I don’t need (see #6). Please don’t send me a reply just because I was on the original distribution list.
11. Offensively strong odors – Whether from cologne, perfume or the tuna sandwich you had for lunch, I shouldn’t have to turn my head to avoid your strong odor. This is the reason more and more offices are becoming scent-free workplaces.
10. Coming to work sick – You’re not doing anyone a favor by coming to work sick. Your productivity suffers, you take longer to get over the illness, and you contaminate the office. Please stay at home and don’t pass on your illness.
9. Chatty interruptions – My desk is not the local town square and my shelf is not a resting place for your coffee cup. Please don’t drop by to chat while I’m trying to work. Find me when I’m on break; then we can discuss the merits of American Idol.
8. The chronically late – Why should the six of us have to wait for you when we all knew the meeting was 8:00 a.m.? Six people waiting ten minutes in one hour of lost work. Being on time is not just a courtesy, it’s an expectation.
7. Ringing cell phones in the office – One of the greatest technological discoveries of the 20th Century was the vibrating cell phone. Learn to put the phone on vibrate or turn it off. Besides, business calls can use the office phone and personal calls can wait.
6. Forwarding junk emails – No I don’t want to read another inspiring email with a pictures of kittens, see a donkey with Hillary’s photoshopped head, or read another joke about a redneck, a priest and a car salesman. Oh, and by the way, I didn’t forward any of those emails and live is still grand!
5. Goofing off at working – Why is it that some people wait until work to do personal grooming (particularly related to fingernails) or surf the Internet? Some of us have work to do and your laziness is a distraction, or worse, a detriment to the company.
4. Helpless coworkers – Sure I can help you unjamming the copier and prepare that package for mailing. But I have a question first. Why is it that after working here for three years, you still don’t have the basic office skills of a two-week temp?
3. Not cleaning up break room messes – First, I could smell that garlic shrimp you had for lunch, and now I’m looking at it in the refrigerator…three weeks later. If cleanliness is next to Godliness; our break room must be hell.
2. Loud music or singing – I didn’t like that song when the Carpenters sung it, didn’t care for it when Sanjaya butchered it, and your rendition isn’t working for me either. Please buy some headphones for the radio, and stop whistling, singing, humming or whatever it is you are doing.
1. Office gossip – And the winner is…the rumor spreading, tale telling, scandal promoting office gossip. Accuracy and relevance are not part of his journalistic criteria. Expect him to pass on even the most trivial of rumors if it have any viral potential.
Okay, now it’s your turn. What office behaviors do you find irritating? And stay tuned for my follow up post on how to deal with these annoying coworkers.
Sunday, February 10th, 2008
I like to keep a list of informative, inspiring, and intriguing articles that I find while reading up on midlife career changes. Here’s a list of five articles on the Internet that are worth reading.
10 Reasons I Won’t Accept a Job Counter Offer – An excellent post about why it’s not a good idea to accept a counter offer from your current employer when you’ve decided to leave.
How to Manage Your Boss, Part 1, Part 2 – This two part series offers great advice on how to manage your boss for personal success.
Use the Entrepreneurship Boom to Improve Your Corporate Job – This post is from a blog in my blogroll, Brazen Careerist. It talks about being an entrepreneur with your own business or on the job.
Happiness at Work: Does It Matter? – I read this one right away just because of the title. The guest post by Gretchen Rubin appears on the Shifting Careers blog. Rubin explores the issue of happiness at work and asks challenging questions about the role of happiness in some very profitable industries.
What’s Your Calling? – An interesting article about the progression from job to career to vocation. It about how our concept of work changes as we mature.
Friday, February 8th, 2008
Dawn Rivers Baker, publisher and editor of The MicroEnterprise Journal, wrote a guest article for Small Business Trends where she lists the Top Ten Opportunities in 2008 for Personal Businesses. Baker defines personal businesses as those run by an owner with no employees. In her article, Baker points out that nearly 4 in every 5 business in the U.S. is operated without employees. Let’s take a look at those business opportunities that Baker reports as having the most potential in 2008.
Virtual staffing agencies. In the last installment of this series you may recall the prediction that 1/3 of employers will be contracting or hiring freelancers in 2008. Baker expects that there is real opportunity for someone to bring together employers and contract workers.
Content aggregators. Baker predicts that we will see increased growth in businesses that compile, organize and distribute information. The Internet provides potential for information aggregators that, according to Baker, “includes content verticals (topic niches such as parenting, gardening, business and entrepreneurship) as well as format-based horizontals (newsletters, blogs, social networking sites).”
Digital content producers. The paper and ink market for information sharing is giving away ground to the growing industry of digital content. In 2008, expect to see even more digital content offered on the Internet in a variety of formats and prices.
Business and personal coaching. Baker expects continued growth in the increasingly popular arena of business and personal coaching. The lack of substantive education on real life challenges creates business opportunities for those who can support and teach others.
Business services. Business to business services will see no sign of slowing in 2008 as midsize and large companies continue to focus on their core competencies while contracting out other routine business tasks.
Environmentally-friendly construction. As other industries become more eco-friendly, we can expect construction to do the same. Contractors specializing in energy efficiency, use of unexploited natural building resources, and construction that integrates with the local environment will find plenty of work in 2008.
Oil and energy extraction consultants. With the right training and preparation, a business in this field can be quite profitable. Baker explains that, “with the focus on domestically produced, environmentally friendly energy sources, companies in the business of producing oil products and generating energy will be looking for these consultants and the guidance they offer.”
Energy-related environmental consultants. In growing numbers, homeowners and businesses are looking for ways to be more energy conscious. There is huge potential in helping others save more money and support the environment through energy conservation.
Health care service providers. Expect to see enterprising businesses established to meet the growing need for long term care, in-home health care, and hospice services. Baker also predicts more opportunities in services that assist with patients with navigating the health care system.
Personal services. As we hustle to cram more and more into our lives, some of us will begin looking for tasks we can farm out to personal assistants. Doing the jobs that others don’t have the time or desire to do themselves will be a great niche business for many entrepreneurs.
As you can see, the industries that Baker believes offer the most potential are the result of advancing technology, the environment, and the aging baby boomer population. Trends in each of these areas are creating opportunities for the self-employed entrepreneur.
Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
In our last post we visited 10 predictions for small businesses. But what about those of us who are looking for other employment? What changes might we expect to see in our job search? How will employment offers be different in 2008?
In a December 26, 2007 press release, CareerBuilder.com made 8 predictions for 2008 employment recruiting practices. Of course, they got a little help in their predictions from the employers survey they commissioned from Harris Interactive. Here are the results of their prediction/survey:
- Bigger Paychecks – 80% of employers will increase wages for their current employees with nearly 1/4 of those giving increases of 5% or more.
- More Flexible Work Arrangements – More than a third of employers will add more flexible work schedules. Examples of flexible arrangements include telecommuting, compressed workweeks, and job sharing.
- Screening Candidates Via the Internet – Nearly 1/2 of of employers will use the Internet to research potential employees using resources such as search engines and social networking sites.
- Rehiring Retirees – 1 in 5 employers will likely find employees among the retired population.
- Diversity Recruitment - 5 of every 6 employers will focus on creating a diverse workforce when hiring workers in 2008. Targeted populations for recruitment are Hispanics (especially Spanish speaking), African Americans, women and older workers.
- Freelance or Contract Hiring – Almost 1/3 of employers will hire freelancers or contractors to complete work assignments.
- More Comprehensive Healthcare Benefits and Special Perks – 20% of employers will offer increased health benefits while 10% will provide new perks such as company cars, bonuses, stock options and educational reimbursement.
- Career Advancement - 1 in every 4 employers will likely offer additional career advancement and promotional paths to workers in 2008.
So, overall it sounds like a great year for those looking to change jobs. But keep in mind that not every employer will be making these changes. So before jumping ship with your current employer, be sure you’ve researched the job market and know how you are likely to be affected. There are no guarantees in the open job market…just predictions.
Watch for our next article in the 2008 Prediction Series: Best business opportunities for 2008.
Sunday, February 3rd, 2008
I have always found the New Year predictions to be quite interesting. I once bought up several of the tabloid newspapers with New Year predictions and stuck them in my closet. Those predictions were great conversation at the New Year’s eve party a year later.
Well, I missed the predictions this year, so I’m trying to catch up. This post begins a three part series on 2008 job and business predictions. This first post is a list of trends we can expect to see in small businesses. In “Ask an Expert: Big Trends in Small Business, Part 1” | “Part 2” at USAToday.com, Steve Strauss predicted:
- “Networking 2.0 is 180 degrees, 100% different.” – Networking is not about connecting electronically through social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn.
- “Work smarter, not harder.” – With technological advances, we are able to do more work from where ever we wish. Expect more job-sharing, outsourcing, working from home, and virtual offices
- “Green is the new black.” – Businesses will find ways to work more ecologically safe and money will be available for more green business ventures.
- “It’s the economy, stupid!” - Growth is slowing as small businesses spend less and credit tightens.
- “China’s capitalist revolution touches everything.” - China’s continued economic impact will be felt in some way in nearly every business transaction.
- “Search is still king.” - Businesses need to understand the value of the technology search function to put their business in front of the consumer.
- “Say hello to your new assistant – your cellphone.” - We will see continued technological advances in the use of cellphones that take us far beyond just typical voice communication.
- “Entrepreneurs of the world unite.” – There will be a continued increase in small and microbusiness development.
- “The year of marketing creatively.” – Expect to see more nontraditional marketing competing for an already over-stimulated consumer.
- “Your PC is going virtual. Is your business?” – Businesses will use more online applications, virtual communication, and helpful gadgets.
What small business trends do you expect to see in 2008?
Next in the series, employment trends from CareerBuilder.com.
Friday, February 1st, 2008
Wow, it’s already been three months since the first U-Turn blog was posted. And I feel like we are just getting started. Given that readership in the early days on Blogger (where this blog started) was a paltry 3-5 readers a day, I figure that many of you have not read some of the early blogs…and a couple of them were worth reading.
So here is my list of the top twelve posts since we started three months ago:
- When is it Time for a Career Change? – Answering the question of when you should make a career change.
- CEO or Employee Series: Part One / Part Two / Part Three – A three-part series exploring the pros and cons of being employed or running your own business.
- How About Some Career Humor? – Time for a break with a bit of career related humor.
- 8 Tips for New Year’s Resolution Success – This post was a precursor to my new blog, SevenActions.com about achieving personal goals.
- What the Hell is a Jobrepreneur? – I define my new term for starting a business while still employed.
- Best Jobs for 2008 – A summary of and link to the U.S. News article touting the best (and worse) jobs of 2008.
- Midlife Career Change: What Not to Forget! – Three important things that should be remembered during a midlife career change.
- Short Timers: Making the Best of Your Last Days – My recommendations for what to do (and not do) after you’ve announced you are leaving your job.
- Seven Advantages of Being a Jobrepreneur – Here I list some key advantages of being a jobrepreneur.
- Strange But True Facts About Coryan (that’s me) – A fun post where I share some interesting jobs I have held in the past.