Monday, January 25, 2021

What Job Hunters Need to Know Now


As the job market opens up, the competition for jobs is going to be pretty tough. Those who are unemployed or underemployed are going to be vying for positions with millions of others.

So how can you stand out to employers and beat the competition? It's not difficult -- but it will take some preparation and effort. Here are some ideas:

1. Clean up your social media. Do a search on yourself. What turns up? Working at a local soup kitchen, posting industry think pieces or drinking games with your friends and curse-word laden posts on favorite movies or celebrities? Employers will conduct due diligence on employees before they hire them because it can save them a lot of headaches down the road. Your profile needs to be squeaky clean.

2. Update your resume. You may feel that you don't have anything new to add to your resume if you've been unemployed during the pandemic. But if you've volunteered at a local food bank, gotten a relevant online certification or even launched a new blog on industry trends, then that's worth mentioning.

3. Make a good first impression. After being in lockdown, you may need to dust off some of your professional skills. Whether you're interviewed via Zoom or in person once vaccines are widely available, you've only got seconds to make a good impression. First, you need to smile. Put your shoulders back, hold your head up and look the employer in the eye (or camera). It may sound simple, but be nice. Remember your manners and say please and thank you. Surveys show that the most desirable traits in a candidate are sincerity, kindness and patience. So, no peeking at your phone, letting your eyes and mind wander during the interview and sighing because you're bored.

4. Know your skill set. While you'll be asked about specific skills depending on your industry, employers are going to zero in on certain abilities no matter what your job. They include being detail-oriented, being a fast learner, being a self starter, being a team player, having initiative and being dependable. Try to think of specific instances where you've displayed such abilities -- these are the examples you can work into your interview.

Predictions are that the job market will start to really heat up in late spring or early summer, but don't wait until then to prepare for interviewing. Look for gaps in your resume or skills set and seek to fill them with online training or education. Record yourself on a Zoom interview with a friend to see how you can improve your video presence and background and start keeping a list of ways you've shown teamwork, initiative and dependability in past jobs.

Monday, January 18, 2021

3 Tips for Dealing with a Perfectionist Colleague


For most of us, we have great days at work when we're really on top of our game. Then, there are other days when we don't do our best work, and we know it. 

But a perfectionist can never let anything slide. He or she believes that everything has to be perfect, every single time. They cannot walk away until they feel something is just right.

When you work with someone like this, it can be a blessing and a curse. A perfectionist often catches mistakes or ensures quality control, making everyone's work shine brighter. So, that's a blessing.

But when this same perfectionist co-worker makes everyone stay late on a Friday night because he's obsessing over every detail for a presentation to be delivered Monday, then it's a curse.

So how do you best deal with a perfectionist colleague?

1. Know there is good and bad. It's unfair and unprofessional for you to trash talk this person when you know that he adds value to any project with his attention to detail and quality of work delivered. But it's OK to also feel exasperated when this colleague holds up work or puts more pressure on others with perfectionist tendencies. Remind yourself that while this person may believe in perfectionism, you know that doesn't exist. In other words, the perfectionist isn't perfect and neither are you.

2. Pick your battles. It will make for an increasingly stressful work environment if you constantly fight with a perfectionist, who feels there is nothing wrong with offering unsolicited advice on what you do wrong. Here is where you can choose to control your reaction: 1) thank him for his comments and go on with your day; 2) tell him that you don't agree and walk away; or 3) try to see some merit in what the perfectionist offers, but don't let it undermine your self-esteem. How you respond will depend on the situation, but try role playing with a trusted colleague or friend to see how you feel reacting in various situations and are prepared so that you respond appropriately and not in anger.

3. Have excuses ready. If the perfectionist seems to corner you with his advice, always have something ready to move yourself away from the situation. "I've got a meeting/call soon. I'm going to have to go." Or, "I can't chat now. Maybe later. I've got to go." Even, "I just remembered I forgot to give Brad an important message. I'm going to have to cut this short."

How do you deal with perfectionists?

Monday, January 11, 2021

3 Trends That Could Define Your Career in 2021

When you're making career plans for 2021, it's a smart idea to imagine where you think future economic growth will be, the industries that will still continue to suffer from the pandemic and whether this might be the right time to start your own business.

McKinsey recently published their list of 2021 trends based on their research, and here's some of the things you also might want to consider:

1. Consumer rebound. If you've been in an industry hard hit by the pandemic, things are expected to improve as the COVID-19 vaccine looses restrictions. It's predicted that "revenge shopping" will take place as consumers go crazy with shopping, eating in restaurants and going to concerts. How fast spending may recover depends on whether people in individual areas feel confident, so make sure you factor that into any future job decisions.

2. Business travel lags. While leisure travel will rebound, it's not going to be an immediate rebound for business trips. Business travel is expensive: in 2018, business-travel spending hit $1.4 trillion. But companies are expected -- after using Zoom and collaboration tools during the pandemic -- to reassess if travel is always necessary. Could your career plans be adversely affected if business travel drops off? Or, would you benefit if businesses continued to turn to technology to collaborate or meet? 

3. Entrepreneurs will blossom. From online medical appointments to shopping online for groceries, digital transformation has been sped up and now dominates the marketplace. It also opens the door to a flood of entrepreneurs who have seized on the pandemic disruption to market new ideas and start new businesses. Even McKinsey admits they didn't see this coming: More than 1.5 million new-business applications in the U.S., which is nearly double from the previous year. If you are afraid you can't go it alone, think again. Those new business applications show that people are figuring out ways to thrive with their own ideas and not be dependent on someone else.

While most of us could never have predicted what 2020 would become, monitoring market trends, reassessing our career paths and seizing on new opportunities may be the best way to weather whatever 2021 has up its sleeve.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Why It's a Great Time to Explore New Career Paths

The pandemic has forced many people to take a hard look at their careers. Some like what they see -- they realize how much they love their jobs and feel fortunate to be doing it for a company that appreciates them.

Others have discovered that they're really not happy with their career choices, or that their employer isn't a good fit.

But what can someone in such a position do about it now? With millions unemployed, it can be difficult to think about leaving a current job and the pandemic makes it difficult to "get out there" and start looking for something new.

The solution may be to begin exploring other roads to career happiness. Are there companies that have always intrigued you? Do you have people in your network who seem to be energized and happy in their jobs and you would like to feel the same? Would you like to better understand other fields that could use your skills?

Now is the time. Instead of baking another load of bread or doing another puzzle during your downtime at home, try becoming an explorer of the career universe and seeing what you can discover. Here's some things to try:

1.  Look for enthusiasm. Do you get a little thrill when you think of yourself working for a certain employer? Do you see rave reviews about an employer on Glassdoor from its employees? If you're going to explore new opportunities, make sure you're headed in a direction that holds promise and not one where the employer is considered a dead-end career choice. Read current news stories or industry trend articles to see how others view the industry or company.

2. Snoop. Don't do anything illegal, of course. But it never hurts to roam the Internet and check out the social media feeds for those who have jobs that you covet or are in fields that intrigue you. Employees often post about their workday, so look for experiences that interest you -- or completely turn you off. Company websites are only going to offer the most glowing view of an organization -- you're more likely to get a clearer picture by looking at different sources.

3. Reach out. With so many people working from home, it can be easier to get them to commit to a short phone call or answer a brief email. You can ask about what a typical day looks like for them, what they love/don't love about their jobs, where they see their industry going, etc. Most people are willing to have a brief conversation (no more than 20-30 minutes) and provide some insight. Even if you only get one or two people to talk to you, you will get a much more realistic picture of what is available.

During this long quarantine, many people have felt trapped. But you don't have to feel that way in your career. As long as you keep exploring, listening and learning about what's happening in areas that interest you, there will always be new roads to explore and new opportunities available.