Monday, August 30, 2010

Jobs in Healthcare Industry Look Promising

While most industries will be struggling to rebound for quite a while, the healthcare industry is forecasting job growth. Workers in the healthcare industry diagnose, treat, and administer care to millions of people. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), four of the top ten jobs projected to have the largest growth over the coming decade are in the healthcare industry: registered nurses; home health aides; personal- and home-care aides; and nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants. The BLS estimates that from 2008–2018 the healthcare industry will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs—more than any other industry.

In addition to those mentioned above, here are other healthcare occupations expected to experience significant growth:

  • Physical therapists
  • Physician assistants
  • Medical records and health information technicians
  • Medical equipment technicians
  • Clinical lab technicians
The healthcare industry is composed of the following segments:
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Physician offices
  • Dentist offices
  • Home healthcare services
  • Offices of other health practitioners
  • Ambulatory healthcare services

The BLS states that approximately 76 percent of the 595,800 healthcare industry establishments are offices of physicians, dentists and other health practitioners. Interestingly, hospitals make up only 1 percent of healthcare establishments; however, they employ 35 percent of all healthcare workers.With promising growth in the healthcare industry, it may be well worth your time to look into a career in healthcare, if it interests you. Start by using the Career Transitions “Explore Careers” tab where you will find various healthcare occupation overviews with details from the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. Other organizations and resources you may want to check out include the Bureau of Health Professions and the American Medical Association’s Health Care Careers Directory.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Keep Your Email Communication Professional

Email has grown into the most popular method of communication in the business world, yet many professionals ignore business communication etiquette and common grammatical guidelines when communicating via email. The following tips will keep your business email professional and help you capture the attention of your audience.

  • Use a relevant and clear subject line: To help cut through the large number of emails most professionals receive, use a meaningful subject line stating a relevant reason for the email; for example: Please Review Petersburg Project Design Samples.
  • Start your message with an opening salutation: If you are initiating the first contact, take a formal approach, such as Mr. Jones:. If you’re responding to a message, follow the sender’s lead; if you were referred to by your first name, you may use a first-name-only salutation when responding. If you have an established relationship, using the person’s first name is acceptable and perceived as professionally friendly.
  • State the purpose up front: Communicate a clear purpose for the email in the opening sentence or two; otherwise, the recipient may quickly judge the email as irrelevant and discard it before even getting to your main point.
  • Be brief: Keep your email brief, ideally two to three short paragraphs. If there is additional information you need to share, do so via attached documents.
  • Reference the attachments: If your email includes attachments, reference them in the body of the email. When possible, use meaningful file names for the attachments.
  • Avoid acronyms, all uppercase, and smiley faces: Avoid using acronyms unless you are confident they are well known in your profession and/or industry. Stay away from using all caps—many think this helps emphasize a point, but it can be misinterpreted, hard to read, and appears unprofessional. And although fun, inserting smiley faces into your business communications is simply not professional.
  • Include a closing salutation: Close with a salutation. A few commonly accepted business closing salutations include: Sincerely, Kind regards, and Cordially.
  • Insert a signature block: Include standard closing text that appears at the bottom of all your email correspondence. This is referred to as a “signature block.” At a minimum, it should include your full name and your business contact information.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Can Avoiding Risks in Your Career Be Risky?

When there is uncertainty and instability in the workplace, employees feel more pressure to prove their value, stand out, and demonstrate their ability to embrace change. This can often lead to taking calculated career risks. Laid-off workers also find themselves in a position to take risks as they attempt to create new career opportunities.

The amount of risk can vary, depending on the situation. Even small steps can be risky; for example, volunteering to tackle a new task or proposing a new process improvement. Bigger leaps involve even more risk, such as pursuing a position with more responsibility, changing occupations altogether, or launching a small business.

The important thing is to think before you leap. You may want to consider the following before you take a purposeful career risk:
  • Be informed: Gather and evaluate as much relevant information as possible about the risk you are getting ready to undertake. Remember, there are no guarantees things will go as you would like; however, the more informed you are, the better the chance you’ll have a positive outcome.
  • Align with your goals: Any job risk you take should help move you closer to the goals you’ve set for your career. If a risk does not align well with your goals, there is a good chance the results will not be fruitful.
  • Have a back-up plan: If you take a calculated career risk and it doesn’t work out, make sure you have a back-up plan. You don’t want to find that you’ve put your whole career on the line and left yourself no other options. For example, if you launch a small business, have a plan for finding a job with an employer if your business doesn’t succeed.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail: Sometimes failure can lead to success, particularly when you’re willing to learn from your experiences. Don’t let your fear of failure keep you from trying new things and taking calculated risks in your career.

Big or small, taking career risks can be uncomfortable and intimidating; however, when you’ve done your homework, taking risks can lead to personal growth as well as professional gain.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Managing Emotions in the Workplace

Employees may likely feel stress and pressure in the workplace as job instability and uncertainty becomes more widespread than ever. The result: emotions run high. How well you manage your emotions in the workplace can have an impact on your performance, reputation, and overall career success.

It’s not always easy to manage your emotions, particularly in emotionally charged situations. It pays to remain calm, patient, empathetic, and positive as you work toward resolving issues in the workplace. The following tips can help.

  • Assess yourself: The first step to managing your emotions at work, specifically the negative emotions, is to take an honest look at yourself. Are you overreacting or being defensive? Are you misdirecting your emotional response? Perhaps your frustration stems from something at home, in which case, you need to reinforce the separation between your personal life and work.
  • Anticipate and plan for difficult situations: You can count on facing difficult situations at work, but in some cases you can even plan for them. For example, you may have an upcoming meeting with a co-worker who you anticipate will have a counter viewpoint to your own. Avoid launching into a heated discussion by developing a few strategies in advance, so you can diffuse the negative emotions. Consider rehearsing the conversation in your head or with a friend; practice remaining calm and maintaining a professional demeanor as part of your delivery.
  • Manage time, organize, and prioritize: Effectively managing your time, staying organized, and being able to prioritize tasks at work will keep you from falling behind and missing deadlines. This, in turn, will minimize stress and the negative emotions that stress can cause.
  • Take a break: If you sense you’re about to react emotionally and negatively to a situation at work, excuse yourself and take a short break. By walking away, you can regain your composure and think through a more appropriate response.
  • Focus on the positive: If you concentrate on the negative aspects of a work situation, your emotional response will likely be negative. Instead, look for and think about the positive to balance your emotional response.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Workplace Gossip Can Stain Your Professional Reputation

If you or a co-worker is speaking in a hurtful manner about another co-worker, it is considered gossip. If your intent in initiating the gossip is to resolve a work matter, the best approach is to skip gossiping and, instead, speak directly to the co-worker you’re having an issue with. If that doesn’t work, engage your manager for guidance. Being considered a gossip may put a lasting stain on your professional reputation. You may also be in jeopardy of losing your job if management and your co-workers perceive you as someone whose gossip is impeding collaboration, productivity, and a positive work environment.

Whether you have a tendency to initiate gossip or associate with others who do, you’d do well to heed the advice below to steer clear of office gossip:

  • Be aware: You likely have several conversations a day with your co-workers. Be aware of what information you’re sharing and how you are presenting it, especially if you’re using sarcasm or jokes at the expense of others. Consider how your words might impact anyone you’re discussing who is not present.
  • Look at motives: Often, gossip is a defense mechanism or a means of avoiding confrontation. Think honestly about what is motivating your gossip. If gossip is an ongoing problem, consider confrontation training or even seeking professional help, especially if gossiping is damaging your career.
  • Avoid those who gossip: Avoid co-workers who gossip or who enjoy listening to your gossip. Whenever possible, remove yourself from conversations that involve gossip.
  • Redirect the conversation: If you are involved in a conversation with gossip, try redirecting the conversation. Hopefully, the person who is initiating the gossip picks up on the clue that you are not interested in gossiping.
  • Be direct: Address the person who is gossiping; explain to him/her that you don’t have a tolerance for gossip and you view it as detrimental. Strongly suggest that the gossiper take up the matter directly with the person he/she has an issue with. And, if you’re the person gossiping, be respectful if a co-worker shares this constructive advice.
  • Use open, honest communication: By using open and honest communication and maintaining professional integrity, you will earn the respect of your co-workers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Implemented Correctly, “Managing Up” Can Work for You

“Managing up” is a term describing the actions of someone who makes it a point to understand the boss and, in doing so, uses initiative in his/her job to make the boss’s job easier. When implemented poorly, managing up can be viewed as manipulative and disrespectful, but handled correctly, it can produce a win-win situation for the employee and the manager.

The important thing is to manage up in a productive and positive way, and these tips should help:
  • Build trust: Good relationships are built on trust. To manage up successfully, your manager must trust your work and know your professional interactions will be conducted with integrity.
  • Help make your manager shine: Going above and beyond to help support your manager makes his/her job easier and helps the manager—and hopefully you—shine in front of bosses, peers, and clients. Consider picking up extra tasks to help your manager prepare for a meeting or track down information to aid in a decision-making process in which the manager is involved.
  • Recognize management style and hot buttons: Being aware and respectful of your boss’s management style and adapting to it will promote a better working relationship. It is also important to avoid pushing your boss’s hot buttons if you want to form a more productive and successful relationship.
  • Stay abreast of your manager’s priorities: Identifying and staying on top of your manager’s work priorities will help you further support his/her professional endeavors. Plus, you should be prioritizing many of your own tasks based on your manager’s priorities.
  • Maintain excellent communication: Work with your manager to identify the best way to provide updates about your work. Managers do not appreciate being blindsided at inopportune times by information they should have already been made aware.
  • Solve problems and present ideas: If you’re going to present your manager with issues, be prepared to propose solutions—preferably, with ideas that are innovative and proactive.

It is impractical to think that everyone can have a perfect relationship with a manager even if the employee does an excellent job managing up. However, it is very realistic that many of the techniques used in managing up will benefit both the manager and the employee professionally.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Job Overload

If you find your workload has increased exponentially over the past year or two, you aren’t alone. Many employees are experiencing the effects of working for a company that has reduced staff but still maintains production at pre-staff-reduction levels. The tips below will help manage your increased workload:

  • Understand expectations: By understanding your manager’s expectation of your role and responsibilities, you can more successfully discern where to focus your time and efforts.
  • Stay current with company goals: Companies change goals, as needed, to adapt to market conditions. Make sure you know what’s important to the company you work for and how you can be a part of helping the company to reach its goals.
  • Prioritize your work: Prioritize your work projects and tasks based on what you’ve learned about your manager’s expectations and the company’s goals. Organize tasks into categories like hot, medium, and low, taking into account assigned deadlines.
  • Create daily “things to do” lists: Each day, spend 10 to 15 minutes creating a daily “things to do” list, based on the priorities you defined.
  • Do not over commit: It’s great to be a team player, but learning to say “no” to requests that are not one of your priorities is a must for staying on track. Obviously, if the request comes directly from your management, you may need to make an exception.
  • Delegate tasks: Review the tasks you’re managing, and identify those that can be delegated. Either delegate them directly, if you are in a position to do so, or engage your manager’s assistance in delegating.
  • Negotiate longer lead times or extended deadlines: If co-workers are giving you tasks with short lead times, it may impact the quality of the completed task. Communicate this to co-workers and suggest longer lead times or deadline extensions that will enable you to do your best work.
  • Set realistic expectations: Look at your own expectations of what you think you can get done in any given day. Ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. If the answer is no, work to adjust them. You may want to engage a co-worker or manager to assist you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Convey Confidence, Not Arrogance, in the Interview

Your goal in a job interview is to sell yourself as the right candidate for the job. The challenge, though, is to do this confidently, not arrogantly. How others perceive you is subjective; what may seem like confidence to one hiring manager may be interpreted as arrogance by another.

Keep the following in mind to portray confidence in your interviews:

  • Be aware of your body language: A lot is communicated through body language. A firm handshake, direct eye contact, and good posture can all indicate confidence.
  • Be friendly: Smile and strike up small talk before the interview starts or after it closes. Be friendly to everyone you encounter at the company where you are interviewing.
  • Use examples: Giving concrete examples highlighting your qualifications and/or accomplishments will be better received and more powerful than providing a verbal laundry list.
  • Ask questions: Asking questions about the company or position indicates that you have a genuine interest in the job and that you are open to learning new things.
  • Acknowledge others: As you speak of your accomplishments, acknowledge when others have had a hand in helping you attain professional success. For example, you might mention you worked with a team to reach a particular goal. This sends the message that you can work collaboratively.
  • Accept accountability: Often an interviewer will ask you to share a time when a task and/or project did not go well. Be prepared to accept accountability for your role in a less-than-ideal task or project outcome and emphasize that it resulted in an excellent learning opportunity.
  • Share your knowledge: If you are a professional mentor, have spoken at conferences related to your profession, or you’ve been published (even if it’s your own blog), mention these examples of how you’re sharing knowledge with others.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Working Remotely Can Be Mutually Rewarding

Working remotely refers to accomplishing most of your work away from the company’s offices, in other words, working from home, a client site, or on the road. It can be a win-win arrangement for both the remote worker and the employer, particularly when expectations are clearly defined and met. If you are interesting in working remotely, you should consider the following:

  • Assess whether it’s right for you: Working remotely requires discipline and removes you from frequent face-to-face interactions with co-workers. Consider your work habits and whether these factors fit well with your personality and routine.
  • Establish a remote work agreement: Specify your remote work arrangement in writing and have it signed by the appropriate parties. It’s a good idea to specify where you will be working, how many hours you intend to work, and who is responsible for work-related expenses at your location (phone bills, postage, office equipment, etc.)
  • Set up a productive work environment: Most people working remotely use a home office that will provide minimal distraction to promote a productive work atmosphere.
  • Get the right tools: In general, technology makes working remotely a real possibility. An abundance of tools and applications—many of which are free or available at a reasonable cost—can assist you in your work. For example, you can use Google Docs for file sharing; Microsoft’s WebEx for live meeting and screen sharing; and Skype for making voice calls over the Internet, video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing.
  • Keep a routine: Align working hours to those specified in your remote work agreement; typically, they match the company’s standard business hours. Keep a regular and professional routine that includes getting dressed for work, organizing your tasks for the day, logging into your computer, and prioritizing emails and voice messages to which you need to respond.
  • Maintain excellent communication: It is important to regularly communicate with your manager and prioritize and promptly respond to clients and co-workers. Your communications need to be clear and concise to eliminate the need for extensive back-and-forth clarification.
  • Think about perceptions: Be mindful that some people will be envious of your remote work arrangement and might be looking for excuses to point out why it’s not a beneficial arrangement to the company. Even those who view remote work arrangements positively may perceive delayed responses or performance issues as signals that you are not well suited for remote work.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tips for Starting a New Job

Starting a new job is exciting. During your first few weeks, your manager will likely be looking for signs to validate that he/she made the right hiring decision. Likewise, your new co-workers will be sizing up and forming opinions about your work habits and knowledge. The following tips can help you get started on the right foot:

  • Prepare: Read up on company information that you may not be familiar—mission statement, objectives, marketing materials, financial reports, recent press releases, etc. Also, promptly read through any company benefits information you may be provided.
  • Get a fresh start: Start your new job well rested and with enthusiasm. Leave any bad work habits or attitudes behind. If relevant and possible, take a week or two off between jobs.
  • Know your manager’s expectations: Meet with your manager within the first week to discuss expectations—confirming what you may have discussed during the interview process or discussing expectations in detail for the first time. Schedule ongoing status meetings; these may be more frequent at first, as you’re getting up to speed.
  • Show an interest in your coworkers: Be friendly, introduce yourself, and occasionally initiate small talk with your co-workers. Stay clear of hot topics like politics and company gossip.
  • Ask for and be willing to help: Ask for help. It is normal to have several questions when you’re first starting out, and you’ll find most people are willing to help. Write down answers you might need to reference again so you don’t ask people to repeat themselves. Also, lend a hand where you can be of assistance.
  • Open your mind and attitude: Be open to a new way of thinking and doing things. Suggest ideas, but refrain from comparing everything to the way it was done at your previous employer.