Archive for the ‘Connie’s Corner’ category

Connie’s Career Corner

March 6, 2014

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“Do not get caught in Junior High Drama”

Tip for the day: Guard your reputation. It is the best asset you have.

Q: Dear Connie: I have a co-worker who is constantly trying to make an issue out of whatever is happening. She spends more time talking about things that do not apply to the workplace than working. Can you give me some tips to avoid this drama?

A: Dear Wanting to Avoid the Drama Queen: One thing that can derail a career faster than anything else is to be a part of “junior high drama” in the workplace. Supervisors will not deem a person an asset if that person is always spreading gossip. I am glad you see the situation for what it is and are seeking ways to avoid being involved with this type of behavior.

Some people thrive on the excitement that they can generate by making personal issues a workplace problem. Often trying to cause problems between co-workers is a result of needing attention or a low self-esteem.

The question is, “What is your responsibility in this situation?” You will want to always approach workplace problems with professionalism. When you bring personal problems into the office, it opens up the opportunity for other to share their opinions and even gossip about your personal life. Share the positive things in your life, but consider keeping conflicts at home out of the workplace.

Ask yourself, “Is this situation a part of my job?” If it is work related, address the challenge. While at work concentrate on your business life; not your personal life. If you share your personal life with this person, you are opening the door for their involvement.

Do not get caught up in “he said, she said.” Remove yourself from interoffice drama by keeping your opinions of others to yourself. This will avoid comments you make from being repeated and maybe misrepresented. Sometimes it is best to just walk away from a conversation.

When this person learns that you will not engage in talking about co-workers or be a part of spreading gossip, she will probably leave you alone and move on to talking to someone else. Professionalism is they key.

Connie’s Career Corner: The “Don’ts” of an Interview

March 6, 2014

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

The “Don’ts” of an Interview

 

Q:  Dear Connie:  I am worried about going on an interview.  I have practiced answers to difficult questions with my friend and feel confident I can represent myself well in the interview.  Is there anything else I need to do at the interview? 

 

A:  Dear Ready to Go:  I am glad that you are practicing how to answer questions regarding your skills and abilities for your upcoming interviews.  Here at the Career Center, we give our customers a list of questions they may be asked during an interview so they can do the exact preparation work that you have done.

 

The one thing that is overlooked many times is what should not be done before, during and after an interview.  You will be observed from the time you enter the building until you are offered or denied the position you are applying for with a company.

 

Two things to avoid before the interview are arriving late and being rude to the receptionist.  If you arrive late, you are really saying, “The possibility of working for your company really isn’t that important to me.”  When you arrive and are rude to the receptionist you are saying, “I am not easy to get along with and you are not important enough for me to try to get along with you.” 

 

During the interview you want to be original, ask questions, stand out and be professional.  If you answer every question with standard responses you are really saying, “I have nothing original to say about myself.”  If you do not asked questions about the company and the position you are applying for, you are conveying that you are not really interested in the company or the available job.  When asked the standard question “Tell me about yourself,” this is your time to shine and stand out.  Tell the employer what makes you special.  Using inappropriate language during the interview says,” Just imagine how unprofessional I will be as one of your employees.”

 

Your job is not finished when the interview is over.  If you do not thank the interviewer, you are saying, “I did not really value your time and I have no manners.”  Finish the interview process in style and write a personal Thank You note to every interviewer you met with during the interview process.

 

Interviewing is a process.  Be prepared for what you should and should not do and you will come out the shining star.

 

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information.  E-mail questions for future columns to ConniesCorner@Nashville.gov .  

Connie’s Career Corner: Phone Interviews

February 7, 2014

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“A phone interview may be your first step to a new job.”

Tip for the day: “Leadership is a choice, not a position.” By: Steven R. Covey

Q: Dear Connie: I have been applying for jobs and several companies have said the first step will be a phone interview. I have not done an interview on the phone. Can you give me some tips?

A: For most companies, a phone interview is the first step. You may do several phone interviews with different groups at a company before you are invited to come in for a face-to-face interview.

The phone interview has become an excellent way for employers to screen out applicants who are not a good match for the position they are trying to fill. This allows them to “meet” the applicant without the time and expense of a face-to-face interview. Here are some tips that can help you use phone interviews to your advantage:

• Have a friend call you and roll-play a mock phone interview to gain confidence in presenting your skills over the phone.
• Make sure that the room you are in is quiet with no pets, children, or TV, music or cell phone interruptions.
• Have a copy of your resume, a pen, and paper for notes by the phone. The interviewer will probably have a copy of your resume, and this will help you focus on the areas the interviewer is asking questions about.
• Dress up before your interview to put yourself in a business frame of mind.
• Try standing as you talk. You will tend to do a better job of projecting your voice and sound more confident.
• Over enunciate your words. If the interviewer can not understand you, he may assume that potential customers will not be able to understand you either.
• Answer the question clearly and then be comfortable with silence. Your interviewer may be writing down your answer. You do not need to keep talking to prevent silence.
• Prepare a short summary of your skills and how you can benefit the company so you can end your conversation on a positive note.
• Have your calendar with you and be prepared to schedule a face-to-face interview if one is requested.

When you have finished your interview, thank your interviewer for his consideration.

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information. E-mail questions for future columns to ConniesCorner@Nashville.gov .

Connie’s Career Corner

January 10, 2014

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“Your ability to adjust to change is a big deal.”

Tip for the day: If you are bored, you should change something in your life.

Q: Dear Connie: I have a co-worker who is older than me and she does not seem to be able to adjust to change. She becomes highly irritated if she is put in a position to have to make any changes. Is it important to go along with the changes that our supervisor requests?

A: Dear Must I Change: In today’s workplace, change happens and it happens frequently. It sounds as though your co-worker has not learned the skill of being flexible and you are wondering should you follow her lead and resist change or learn to be flexible and make changes in the workplace as your supervisor requests of you.

There was a time when you learned a job and the job never changed. You were successful if you went to work and performed the same task using the same process consistently day after day. Your co-worker may have started her career during this time.

Now the marketplace demands that you be flexible. Many companies are looking for employees that can adjust to change. In today’s market, companies are constantly looking for ways to be more productive while decreasing cost. This means that at times you may feel that you are being asked to make change on a frequent basis. Companies need people who will go with the flow and not be difficult to work with because they are holding to the “old” way of performing a task.

Changing from a person who likes things to always be the same to a person who can not only accept change but thrive on it can be quite difficult. Since you are just starting out your career, you do not have the “old habit” of being inflexible to break.

Here are some suggestions to help you be a person of change:

• Look first at the reason the change is proposed
• Identify how the request for change will affect your job
• Develop a plan listing steps you will need to take to make the change
• Keep a positive attitude
• Remember that change affects everyone–not just you
• Work as a team to accomplish the change

If your co-worker gets upset and takes it out on you when she is requested to change, it is best to just ignore her comments. Do not let her pull you into her dissatisfaction or she may say you agree with her. If this approach does not work, discuss this with your supervisor.

I would take my cues regarding how to accept change from your supervisor. If your supervisor is requesting that your team makes a change that means she is making changes also. Watch how your supervisor reacts and adapts to change. Try to make the skill of being flexible your own. Pretty soon you will not feel discomfort when you are asked to make changes in your work.

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information. E-mail questions for future columns to ConniesCorner@Nashville.gov .

Connie’s Career Corner: Managing Job-Loss Grief

August 23, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“Managing Job-Loss Grief”

Tip for the day:  Anger is a normal emotion.  Handle anger in a way that does not hurt yourself or someone else.

 

Q:    Dear Connie:  I lost my job and am very depressed.  How do I get to the stage that I can accept my job-loss?

A: Dear Depressed:  Feeling depressed after losing your job is normal.  We go through different stages of grief after job loss because we have lost a part of our identity, our income and the place we go each day to contribute and succeed in the workplace.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Once you have identified the stage(s) of grief that you are in, you can begin to work on some techniques to help you cope with your feelings.

One way to cope with stress is to talk to people about your feelings.  Draw strength from the relationships in your life and give others a chance to be supportive. 

Another helpful tool is to find a support group.  It is helpful to talk to people who are job searching and facing the same challenges.  You may also hear some helpful hints by listening to others share their experiences.  The Career Centers have weekly Career Connection meetings for this purpose.

You need to resolve guilt resulting from being unemployed.  Feeling like we have let our family down can cause feelings of guilt.  Often, job loss is a result of a business decision that is based on the profitability of the company, not on your performance.  Even if you are unemployed because you did not perform well, learn from your experience and forgive yourself knowing you can do better the next time.

Now is the time to exercise and eat properly.  More than ever you need to keep yourself healthy.  Exercise is a great stress reliever and is a positive way to release energy that may be a result of feelings of anger.

Be sure you keep your sense of humor.   Look for things to laugh at during your day.  This will help you to keep your spirits up.  We always feel better after a good laugh.

Finally, develop a job search plan and start taking steps to find that next job.  Once you begin working toward your future you may realize you have accepted the past and are ready to move on with your life.

 

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information.  E-mail questions for future columns to ccc@NCACWorkforce.org.  

Connie’s Career Corner: Three Styles of Resumes

July 31, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“THREE STYLES OF RESUMES”

Tip for the day:  An application is what an employer wants to ask you and a resume is what you want to tell an employer.

Q:  Dear Connie:  I have heard there are several styles of resumes.  Which style is the best to use?

A:  Dear Putting Your Skills on Paper:  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  This is especially true when you are trying to impress an employer with your resume.  Employers report that they look at your resume an average of 12 seconds.  It is so important to make the most of those 12 seconds by choosing the style of resume that best showcases your skills and abilities.

There are basically three different styles of business resumes: the chronological resume, the functional resume and the combination resume. 

The most commonly used style of resume is the chronological resume.  This style of resume lists your work experience starting with your most recent position and working backward.  A chronological resume is a good style for a person with a strong work history.  Many employers prefer this style of resume because it is laid out in a logical manner and is easy to read.

The second style of resume is the functional resume.  The functional resume focuses on your skills and abilities without regard to when, where or how you acquired them.  A person with limited work experience or who has gaps in their work history may choose to use a functional resume.

The third style is the combination resume.  In this style you combine the best features of the chronological and the functional resume.  Your most relevant skills and accomplishment are listed at the top of the resume followed by your work history.  It is important in this style to not sound repetitive.  Many job seekers prefer this style because it begins with a summary of relevant information that shows what they have to offer as a prospective employee.

There are pros and cons to each style of resume so choose the style that best displays your skills, education and experience. Resumes are designed to get you an interview, so be sure that yours is concise and clearly written.

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information.  E-mail questions for future columns to ccc@NCACWorkforce.org.  

Connie’s Career Corner: To Date or Not to Date

June 14, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“To Date or Not to Date”

Tip for the day: Past performance is the best indicator of future performance.
Q: Dear Connie: I work with a guy that I would be interested in dating. What is your opinion of dating someone at work?
A: Dear Dater: The decision to date a co-worker is a personal one, but you do need to be aware of some issues that may arise from doing so. Dating relationships in the workplace can lead to some very sticky situations. Many people argue, however, that work is where they spend most of their time so the workplace may be the only place where they can meet other single adults.
You need to first look at your employee handbook to see if your company even allows employees to date one another. Many companies will not allow these types of relationships at all. Some companies may allow employees to date, but only if they work in different areas or departments of the company. Know what your company’s policy is before you decide to move forward.
You did not mention what type of working relationship you have with this individual. Are you his supervisor at work? Is he your supervisor? Dating someone who is your subordinate can open another “can of worms” altogether. There have been many cases where someone has been sued for sexual harassment after ending a relationship with a subordinate at work. Sexual harassment can be difficult to prove under these circumstances, but it is not impossible. Also, if you try to pursue a relationship with a co-worker who is not interested in dating you, you may also be accused of harassment.
One other thing to consider is what will happen if you date this person and then break up. Will you see this person everyday? Do you have to work in close proximity with this person? Many relationships do not last, and you do need to consider the aftermath if you do break-up. You do not want your boss to have to choose between you and your co-worker because you may end up on the losing end.
On a brighter note, there are many “happily ever after” stories from people who met their spouse or significant other at work. If you do decide to pursue this relationship further, proceed with caution and be discreet. Be aware that this relationship may make your co-workers uncomfortable so act professionally at work.
Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information. E-mail questions for future columns to ccc@NCACWorkforce.org.