Archive for the ‘Connie’s Corner’ category

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER: Career-oriented vs. Job-oriented

May 28, 2013

Tip for the day:  Your actions are a reflection of your character.

Dear Connie:  What makes someone career-oriented as opposed to job-oriented?

Dear Future-focused:  The American Heritage College Dictionary defines a job as “A regular activity performed in exchange for payment, esp. as one’s trade, occupation, or profession.”  The definition for a career is “A chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation.  The general course or progression of one’s working life.”

Some people will go to work in a job and will be content to stay in their initial position all of their working life.  There are jobs that do not lead to promotions.  The employee will need to gain additional skills or move to a different company to be promoted.

Some people do not want to “climb the ladder” in business.  They may not want the additional stress or responsibility that could come from moving up to the next position.  Many times people who stay in one job for their entire working career will make more income than someone who has a more “prestigious” position.  If they work hard, are dependable and efficient, their yearly raises can enable them to accumulate an income larger than their education or experience would afford them in a different work area.

Career-oriented people have a goal that involves constantly learning new skills in addition to being dependable and efficient.  They will focus on making each job an opportunity to develop skills leading to their next position or assignment.

Career-oriented employees have worked through the entry level jobs and know they can always learn a new skill to help them move up the career ladder.  A person has to gain experience in the area they wish to excel in.  There are some well paid employees who started out working at a fast food restaurant and moved into the “Manager Trainee” program.

Lastly, each person measures the success of their career differently.  Some career-oriented people measure their success by their income, while others measure their success by the number of people they are able to help.  Many people who work in the non-profit area or government may make quite a bit less than if they used their skills in the public workplace but feel successful because they measure their success by the impact they have on others.

People with careers are problem solvers.  In fact, career employees usually look at problems as opportunities.  A career-oriented person would probably develop a plan and start working their way through each barrier, never allowing themselves to be stagnant or to give up on their dream.

You can start now to practice the characteristics that a career person usually possesses and move from a “job” to a “career.”

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

Connie’s Career Corner “Are you really listening to your co-workers?”

November 5, 2012

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

“Are you really listening to your co-workers?”

 

Tip for the day:  When it comes to communication, it is good to remember that we have only one mouth, but two ears.

Q:  Dear Connie:  I have a co-worker who talks all of the time.  Often, he is saying the same thing over and over.  At our meetings he seems to talk more than anyone else.  Do I just need to out-talk him at meetings to be heard?

A:   Dear Tired of the Noise:  Trying to out-talk someone will probably cause your coworkers to “tune you out.”  When it comes to being a good communicator, a good rule to follow is listen twice a much as you speak.  You want your ideas to be listened to and understood.  Often we just hear people, but what we do not really concentrate on is what the person is saying and even more important what the person intends for us to hear.   Listening involves hearing and processing the words, tone of voice and non-verbal communication being sent by the speaker. If you are thinking of what you will say next you are not really listening to the person speaking.

 

We have all worked with co-workers who seem to monopolize the conversations that take place at work.  Sometimes when a person seems to talk too much in a meeting or becomes defensive, it is because he really does not feel like he is being heard.   So, he talks and talks and talks thinking that somehow what he wants to be heard will click in someone’s mind.

 

Next time you are running a meeting, try giving this person the floor.  Then repeat back to the person what you understood him to say.  You may be surprised at the difference in what your co-worker was trying to state and what you heard.  He may be surprised that you really listened.  Then continue with, “Now I want to hear what the rest of you think.”

 

We all listen and process other people’s words against our own experiences.  We assign importance to situations according to how important a situation is to us.  For example, someone might say, “Mary was in an accident.”  If the person delivering the information’s past experience with “an accident” involved running into another car’s bumper and your past experience involved the death of a family member, you will both interpret these words and their meaning differently.  Without further clarification by the deliverer of the message, you may assume that Mary is in the hospital badly hurt.

 

If you really listen to the ideas of others, then when you speak, your co-workers will want to hear your opinion.  Remember; use your mouth half as much as you use your ears to become a stronger communicator.  It is not the amount of time you are speaking, but the quality of the communication that takes place that counts.

 

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

Connie’s Career Corner

October 26, 2012

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

“Leaders need to know what their teams really need.”

 

Tip for the day:  If you carry everyone else’s problems, they will never learn to carry them for themselves.

Q:  Dear Connie:   I have just been promoted to Team Leader.  I really want to be successful but this is my first time in a lead position.  Can you give me some tips to help me be successful?

A:   Dear New Team Leader: Congratulations on your new position.  It can be a big challenge to start a new position where one has no prior experience.  It is said that 70 to 80 percent of high performers who are promoted had no training when made supervisors.  So, you are not alone.

 

Since your company promoted you for the position, you can feel confident that the leaders in your company have identified that you have the abilities needed to be a Team Leader.  Many of the traits you have exhibited in your past will serve you well in the future.

 

It is important for your team to understand the company goals, how the team fits into those goals and for the team to be committed to achieving those goals.  You will want to become the person in your team to help bring the company and team together.

 

Your job as a leader is to give your team the tools they need to accomplish those goals. SkillPath Seminars www.skillpath.com suggest some areas to make sure your team’s needs are met:

  • Technical skills training
  • Human relations skills training
  • The need for challenging work
  • The opportunity for achievement
  • Recognition
  • Belonging
  • Fair pay
  • Incentives beyond regular pay
  • To be heard

 

Read books, attend seminars and watch what other team leaders who have positive results are doing in your organization to increase your skills.  When it comes to leadership, copying positive behavior until it becomes your own is acceptable.  Always try to leave everyone’s self-respect in tack when you are confronted with negative situations.  Remember, you were hired to move your team forward in a positive direction.  Take the challenge and good luck!

 

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

Questions about seasonal employment?

October 22, 2012

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

“Seasonal Employment”

 

Tip for the day:   When you are at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

 

Q:  Dear Connie: With the holidays approaching, I am thinking about getting a part-time job.  Where do I start?

 

A:  Dear Happy Holidays: If you want to get a job working during the holiday season, the first of November is the time to start applying.  There are usually a lot of temporary jobs available during the month of November and December.  Most companies are given a hiring schedule so they can add additional employees each week throughout the holiday season.

 

Before you put in your applications, there are a few facts that you may find helpful regarding seasonal employment.  Some businesses will work around the hours you have available.  It is very important to let the employer know what hours you can work and then stick to being available during those hours.  Think about your commitments with your family and organizations before you apply for a position so you will be able to tell the interviewer exactly what hours you can work.

 

You should also keep in mind that in retail if the business is open you are expected to work if needed.  This means that on the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, they expect you to work.  This is the most profitable time of the year for many retail businesses, and it is important that they be well staffed to serve their customers.

 

When you go to pick up an application be sure and dress neatly.  Do not make the common mistake of thinking you will run in and get an application and dress up when you bring it back.  It is not uncommon for the receptionist to take you to the hiring manager and introduce you and even interview you on the spot.  So, if you want the job, do not go in dressed in your jogging suit because you can not make a second first impression.

 

Seasonal work is a great way to brush up on your skills and to get out and meet new people.  It is also a great way to have some extra income during the gift buying season.  Who knows, you may enjoy yourself so much that you will want to look for a permanent job after the holidays.

 

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

Connie’s Career Corner – “I Want to be Noticed!”

August 27, 2012

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“I want to be noticed!”

 

Tip for the day: A résumé without an objective is like a book without a title.

 

Q:  Dear Connie: I have been job searching for a while, but I have had very few interviews.  I want my résumé to grab the attention of the recruiters so I have been thinking about ways to do that.  I thought it might be a good idea to put my resume on some fun paper (like hot pink!) and draw some pictures in the margins.  What do you think?

 

A:  Dear Pink Lady:  Have you ever heard the phrase “less is more?”  This is a good rule of thumb to use when creating a résumé. You do want your résumé to get noticed, but you want it to be noticed for the right reasons. Recruiters will notice a hot pink résumé with flowers in the margin, but most recruiters do not want to interview the person who sent it.  Most recruiters will consider this type of résumé to be unprofessional.

 

It would appear that your résumé needs to be fired.  The job of the résumé is to get you an interview. You need to find out why your résumé is not working. Evaluate your résumé to see if the skills and qualifications listed are truly a match for the jobs for which you are applying.  Evaluate the format of your résumé to see if you are using the best type of résumé for your skill set and work history. Have someone proofread your résumé to ensure that there are no grammatical or spelling errors. Also make sure you are highlighting your strengths.

 

The best way to attract attention from a recruiter is to have a résumé that is clear and concise and that shows them on paper why you are the best person for the job. Recruiters often receive a large volume of résumés so they do not have the time to review in depth each one.  Design your résumé so that your strengths and qualifications jump off the page when someone is viewing it.  This will do far more to attract attention than anything else.

 

For additional help, you can visit the Career Center and attend the “Helpful Hints for Résumé Writing” workshop.  Have others read your resume and tell you what the resume says to them about your qualifications.  A NCAC coach can critique your resume and give you feedback on ways to improve your chances of getting an interview as a result of having an outstanding resume.

 

Getting noticed is your goal but you want to be noticed for all of the right reasons.

 

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

Connie’s Career Corner – Tip for the day: Variety is the spice of life

August 20, 2012

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

“Life needs a little variety and so does the workplace.”

 

Tip for the day: Variety is the spice of life.

 

Q:  Dear Connie:  I will soon need to hire a new person to join our team.  Everyone on my team gets along and works the same way.  Do you have any suggestions as to the type of candidate I should be looking to hire?

 

A:  Dear One of a Kind:  Go for some variety.  As you are interviewing, seek out someone who is not a mirror image of yourself or your team members.

 

Successful leaders know that you need people who possess different skills and different personalities in order to build a strong team.  We usually are drawn to people who act and think just like we do because we are the most comfortable with people like ourselves.  But another person with a similar personality may not be the best choice when building a team.

 

Think about the last large function you attended.  Who did you spend the most time with?  Was it someone who talked like you, moved at your rate of speed, and shared your ideas?  We know what to expect from people who are similar to ourselves and this creates an automatic comfort level.

 

So, why would I suggest you try to find someone who is not like you to hire?  If all of the ice cream in the world was vanilla there would be so many pleasures missed.  We all know chocolate, strawberry, and ripple are varieties that add to our ice cream choices.  By adding someone who works and thinks differently than your team members, you will be adding flavor to your team.  This will provide new ideas and new ways to expand your projects.  Some of these ideas the team will want to adopt and some they will not; but the expansion of ideas will make your team even stronger than it is now.

 

People have different work styles.  Some people want to jump right into a project while others want all of the facts to study before beginning a project.  Some people look at a situation and automatically lay out the project step-by-step, whiles others see the end product.

 

One of the smartest leaders that I have observed surrounded himself with people who had different skills and talents than himself.  By doing so, he collectively had an enormous knowledge and experience base which took the organization he was leading much farther than he could have moved the company forward by himself.

 

So, hire someone different from yourself and all of the team will win.

 

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

Connie’s Career Corner: “Work Smarter Not Harder”

July 31, 2012

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

“Work smarter not harder”

 

Tip for the day:   When I read a good resume, I never wonder how long it took the person to write it.  Spend as long as you need to make your resume outstanding.

 

Dear Connie:  I have been working very hard to get a job and still have not found one.  What else can I do to find employment?

 

Dear Tell Me More:  You may need to work smarter, not harder to find employment.  Often we think because we are staying busy, we are working hard to accomplish a goal.  The truth is job searching techniques change over time.  You may be job searching using outdated methods.

 

Use the right tools for your job search, such as:

  • a good resume
  • solid training and preparation
  • the proper uniform for the job
  • the right attitude for the job
  • good telephone techniques
  • good job-search etiquette
  • the right interpersonal techniques

 

Start by building your network of acquaintances.  People are more comfortable hiring a person recommended by someone they know.  When you start a new job you are not the only one that has to make adjustments.  The employees that you will be working with also have to adjust to you and your work style.  Hiring managers know that if someone they trust recommends you there is a greater chance of you blending in and being a positive addition to their work unit.

 

It is important for you to know who you are and what you have accomplished in your work life.  If you do not know how to express this to a prospective employer, it will make it difficult for you to tell him how valuable you will be to the company.  Try writing your accomplishments down on paper (use your resume as a guide.)  Then practice explaining your accomplishments to a friend until you can deliver the information in a smooth, conversational manner.

 

If you are not job searching at the present time, you probably will be in the future.  On the average, most workers change jobs every three years.  So, while you are happily employed, go ahead and do the work to get your skills up to speed and keep your resume current.  Then, if you do need to search for a new position you will not have to do the groundwork during a time of stress.

 

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