Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Returning to a Past Employer

You left a company and are now considering returning several months or years later. You wouldn’t be the first to request to be re-hired. In fact, companies are experiencing a new trend called “boomerang hiring,” which refers to the re-hiring of former employees.
Re-hiring a reliable and talented employee can be advantageous for the employer. The company usually considers this individual as a known entity—someone who knows the company and its culture and is more likely to ramp up quickly. The previous employee also benefits as well since he or she is already familiar with the company, its culture, and the work, thus minimizing the risk of the unknown.
Before you go too far down this planning path, though, carefully consider the following factors:
  • Be realistic: Your positive memories of the employer may be one-sided, particularly if you’re unhappy in your current job. Remind yourself of the reasons you left and ask yourself if those reasons would be different this time around. Create a pros-and-cons list about the company and prospective job.
  • Give ample time to new situations: Before jumping back into your old job, assess whether you’ve allowed ample time for success in your current situation—a new job, a stay-at-home parenting situation, or other opportunity. Transitions and changes are often difficult and require time to adjust.
  • Leverage established relationships: Reach out to contacts at your previous employer to ask about insight into current job opportunities. They may also consider putting in a good word with the hiring manager.
  • Be honest and humble: Your previous employer will appreciate an honest, direct, and humble approach to your reasons for wanting to return to the company. For example, you might explain that the newer opportunity wasn’t what you had hoped, and you enjoyed your previous work and the company culture.
  • Remember, change is inevitable: It’s likely that the company you once worked for has changed, including the people, its processes, the customers, etc. If you do return, don’t get stuck reminiscing or desiring to move backwards to the way things were done in the past.
  • Prepare for a lukewarm welcome: Some of your co-workers may challenge or chide you about your return, particularly if you return at a higher level and salary. At the very least, be prepared to answer co-workers’ well-intentioned questions about your reasons for returning.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turn an Internship into a Job

Job candidates who have internship experience have an edge. Employers are more willing to hire a job candidate who has internship experience, particularly an internship with their own company. An internship is a great way for both the employer and intern to explore whether there is a mutually beneficial fit. By being mindful of the tips below, you may increase the likelihood of turning your internship into a job.
  • Treat your internship like a real job: You should approach your internship no differently than if you were an on-staff employee—put your best effort forth to deliver quality work, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and act professionally at all times.
  • Set expectations: As with any job, it is critical that you and your manager set goals, define responsibilities, and discuss expectations—on both your parts. To increase the probability of satisfying everyone, discuss these early on and hold status updates to keep on track.
  • Be willing to do any task: Interns are often asked to do menial tasks. However, once you’ve successfully proven yourself competent, you are likely to be assigned more challenging and interesting tasks. The important thing is to say “yes” to any reasonable task and complete each fully and with a great attitude.
  • Take initiative and go the extra mile: Take the initiative to help your boss or co-workers. Ask for additional assignments, share ideas and solutions, and leave them with the impression that you’re always willing to go the extra mile.
  • Learn the business: Soak up as much information as you can about the company and the business. One of the best ways you can do this is by asking questions. Observe colleagues for their knowledge and best practices. Be sure to read up on company and industry news and trends.
  • Network: No doubt, one of the most valuable benefits of an internship is the business contacts that result. Meet as many people in the company as you can. Most people are willing to help someone develop a positive internship/work experience.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winning Over Your Boss

Face it, work is more enjoyable and rewarding when you have a good working relationship with your boss. Although a lot comes down to personalities and work styles, the following are ideas to keep in mind that may help you win over almost any boss, even the difficult ones.
  • Understand and support your boss’s priorities: Be aware of your boss’s work priorities, goals, and challenges so you can support the goals and priorities and minimize the challenges.
  • Recognize work preferences and hot buttons: The more you know about your boss’s work style, including hot buttons, the better you can respond in a manner he/she respects and appreciates. For example, if your boss prefers to communicate via email, then do so. If you know the boss gets irritated by people who arrive late to meetings, be prompt.
  • Understand how your boss evaluates performance: Make sure you understand how your boss prioritizes your responsibilities and what criteria he/she uses to evaluate your job performance.
  • Be dependable: Be someone your boss can count on to consistently do your job well.
  • Maintain a positive attitude: Most people appreciate working with someone who is positive and upbeat-a boss is no exception.
  • Be a team player: A typical boss manages multiple people. It usually helps if you are a willing team player and can work successfully toward common goals.
  • Learn new things: The responsibility of career development rests on your shoulders. Your boss will appreciate you seeking opportunities to grow professionally.
  • Take initiative: Bosses tend to appreciate people who can identify tasks that need doing and who take the initiative to complete the task and/or fill a need without being asked.
  • Maintain professional integrity: Any boss expects and appreciates employees who maintain professional integrity through honesty, trustworthiness, and speaking and acting in a professional manner.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Use Downtime Productively

Inevitably, you experience some downtime on your job, for example, between projects or while awaiting feedback on a current project. How you choose to spend your downtime can reveal the kind of worker you are and will likely be noticed by your manager and co-workers. Use this time wisely to organize and prepare—both should promote success and efficiency during busier times and cause your employer to take notice.
Following are some downtime tasks to consider. Although the list is geared toward those currently working, some of the tasks apply to job seekers as well.
  • Organize your work area: This can involve organizing your desk, files (both paper and online), and reference material, etc.
  • Clean out and organize your email: If your email isn’t automatically archived, consider archiving those you may need to refer to later. Respond to emails that weren’t a priority during busier times and delete emails that are not needed.
  • Prepare for upcoming tasks: If you are aware of upcoming projects and/or tasks, complete any upfront work possible. For example, if you produce the company newsletter, ask for article ideas or submissions in advance. In some cases, you may only be able to plan and schedule upcoming tasks—but doing so may help you hit the ground running once the work begins.
  • Offer to help your manager or co-workers: Offering assistance is almost always appreciated. Your manager, in particular, will be glad to see you taking the initiative.
  • Identify opportunities for improvement: If you have ideas for how a process might be improved or how the company can grow business, use downtime to research the ideas. If you present the idea and it doesn’t get implemented, you’ll most likely still get credit for being proactive.
  • Sharpen a skill or expand your knowledge: Identify resources for developing your professional knowledge or sharpening a skill. For starters, look into a Webinar or take an online training course.
  • Catch up on current industry news and trends: Stay current on what is happening in your industry and the trends that are being discussed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Get Noticed: Use a Resume Summary

A resume summary, also known as a summary of qualifications or a profile statement, is placed at the top of the resume, after the name and contact information. This summary is your opportunity to pitch the qualifications, talents, and experience you have that makes you an ideal candidate for the job. Treat it like a verbal snapshot of you and the value you would bring to an organization.
A resume summary is concise, typically no more than three-to-four sentences in length, and should include action verbs and keywords geared to the specific audience receiving the resume. Make the resume summary even more relevant to a prospective employer by carefully considering the employer and the job requirements. As you read the job description, highlight those skills and experience you perceive as fundamental. Then, review and modify your resume summary to emphasize those skills and experience.
To get started writing a resume summary, look below for a list of points you might consider including:
  • Work experience: Quantify the most impressive experience. For example, “Annual sales leader three years in a row with sales exceeding $150,000/year.”
  • Professional expertise: Emphasize your expertise that most closely matches the job. For example, “An experienced firefighter” or “A senior accountant.”
  • Skills: Include job skills and soft skills. Highlight personal attributes like “strong work ethic” or “excellent communicator.”
  • Credentials: Highlight degrees or professional certifications, if relevant.
  • Achievements: Don’t hesitate to mention awards, promotions, or special recognition, if they’re applicable.
The resume summary, in most cases, will be a prospective employer’s first impression of you as a job candidate. Think of it as the way to draw in the hiring manager or human resource representative to read the rest of your resume.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Long-Distance Job Search

Job searching in current market conditions is challenging, but it can be even more difficult when your job search is out of state. Many employers question why they should hire someone from out of state when there are many in-state candidates to choose. This doesn’t mean it is impossible to find a job out of state, it just means you need a convincing answer and plenty of patience.
Here are things to consider before undertaking a long-distance job search:
  • Sell your uniqueness: Long distance or not, if you have unique and desirable expertise, knowledge, and/or experience in a profession or industry, you may be the right candidate for the job. Be sure this is clearly communicated to prospective employers.
  • Research different locations: If you’ve spotted a job posting you plan to pursue or you’ve targeted certain locations of interest, extensively research these to see if they would be a good fit professionally and personally.
  • Factor in expenses: A long-distance job search could involve long-distance calls, faxes, and even travel if you land an interview. If you are fortunate to receive a job offer, make sure you understand what relocation expenses you will be responsible for, and budget for them.
  • Use location criteria in job-search engines: If you’re targeting your job search to certain locations, use this criteria in job-search engines. Combining location with key words produces even more relevant results; for example, combine “San Diego” and “accounting.” The Career Transitions “Find Jobs” portal enables you to use a variety of search criteria.
  • Visit desired job-search locations: In most cases, you will have at least one onsite interview prior to a job offer. However, technologies like Skype (audio/video conferencing) are reducing the number of onsite interviews required. If you travel to an interview, spend ample time getting a feel for the location before accepting a job offer. If you happen to be visiting a particular location of interest, explore whether you can line up interviews with prospective employers while in town.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Transitioning from Big to Small Business

According to the Small Business Association (SBA) Office of Advocacy, in 2009 small businesses employed about half of the private sector workforce in the United States or approximately 27.5 million people. The SBA Office of Advocacy defines a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees.
With corporate America downsizing, it seems reasonable that we can expect future job growth in the small-business, private sector. In fact, many workers are already making the transition from big to small business. And although this can be a positive experience for many, it can also initially lead to culture shock.
Following are just a few of the differences you might find when transitioning from big business to small business:
  • Multiple hats: Often, small-business employees wear multiple hats, which may fall outside of their primary roles and job descriptions. The mindset is often team-oriented, with a focus on doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
  • Fewer resources: Small businesses typically have fewer resources—financial, human, and technical to name a few. This often means workers must get creative in doing more for less and in problem solving.
  • Hands-on work: Since there are fewer resources, the approach at work is more hands-on. You may find yourself involved with strategy, planning, and even tactical implementation.
  • Sense of ownership: Wearing multiple hats in a hands-on environment can lead to a greater sense of ownership in the work and the overall company performance.
  • Increased exposure: With a lean office team, you may find yourself interacting directly with senior management, including the company president. You may also experience increased contact with customers.
  • Limited red tape: Where big business is often known for excessive red tape and rigid processes, small business tends to be more agile, with fewer defined processes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaving on Good Terms

Whether you’re leaving for another job opportunity or you’ve been laid off or fired, it is important that you leave your current employer on good terms with your professional dignity intact. Your remaining time on the job, in many cases, will be the last impression you make on co-workers before leaving. The following tips will help you maintain a positive professional reputation:
  • Provide your manager with your resignation: Your manager should be the first to be notified of your decision to leave, in person if possible. Follow this with a formal resignation letter. Share the news directly with those most affected by your leaving. But only after your manager, their manager, and human resources have been informed.
  • Give ample notice: Two weeks is considered professional. However, many employers appreciate three to four weeks, if possible. But don’t be surprised if certain situations, like leaving to work for a competitor, cause your current employer to excuse you immediately from the job.
  • Don’t talk negatively about your employer and co-workers: You may honestly feel that your current employer or co-workers are unprofessional, but don’t share your negative opinions. Remember, you may cross professional paths with these people again.
  • Avoid bragging about your next job: It’s fine to be excited about your next opportunity, but co-workers won’t appreciate you bragging about the job’s increased salary or perks.
  • Make it a smooth transition: Wrap up loose ends; turn over organized project files; provide client, vendor, or other relevant contact information; and prioritize work with your manager. These steps will ensure a smooth hand off of your job responsibilities to the next responsible person and/or your manager.
  • Be respectful of company property: Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean you should be careless with company equipment, stock up on office supplies for your personal use, or take home company information. This is unprofessional, unethical, and could even be illegal.
  • Exchange contact information with co-workers: If you wish to maintain contact with co-workers, be sure you exchange information with these people before you leave. Also consider adding them to your LinkedIn network or other online networks.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Boost Your Career: Join a Professional or Trade Association

Whether you’re a student or someone who’s been in your profession a long time, you can realize big gains from joining a professional or trade association. You’ll find there’s an association for almost every profession and trade out there, many with national chapters as well as regional and local chapters. These associations are non-profit organizations that bring together people who have common interest in a trade or profession.
Below are some of the ways these associations serve members:
  • Identify trends and issues: Associations often lead the way in identifying and communicating field advancements, trends, and issues. People who influence a field—business, trade, and academic leaders—often maintain relationships with established associations.
  • Exchange ideas and solve problems: Associations provide a conduit for sharing best practices, ideas, and solutions to problems in the profession. Communication is facilitated through membership publications, websites, events, and more.
  • Provide information and resources: Association websites are often a hub for sharing information and resources about a particular field. Newsletters, journals, blogs, and message boards are just a sampling. Members may be able to sign up for automatic notification about events like webinars, training workshops, conferences, and more.
  • Jobs support: Many associations track and post related job openings; access to these is often limited to members. In addition, associations can be a great resource for identifying mentoring and internship opportunities.
  • Networking opportunities: Association networking events are a great way for members to meet people in the field and even to uncover job opportunities—some of which are “hidden” jobs (those not advertised). Networking relationships may even turn into mentoring relationships.
To find a professional or trade association, start with Career Transitions “Explore Careers” section. Once you select a specific career portal, look under “Professional Associations” in the right sidebar for any related and available association information. Also, ask those who are in your field for association recommendations.
Once you find an association that interests you, be sure you understand the membership costs and benefits. If you’re a student, ask about discounted student membership rates.