Posted tagged ‘Connie’s Career Corner’

Connie’s Career Corner: Rewards as Motivators

January 31, 2014

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“Rewards as motivators”

Tip for the day:  A kind word is always well received.

Q:  Dear Connie:  Can you suggest some ways I can let my staff know I appreciate the excellent work they are doing for the company?

A:   A good supervisor knows that it is their responsibility to find out what motivates their staff.  If you learn how each person wants to be rewarded, you will be able to do a better job showing your appreciation and motivating your staff to do their very best work.

Here are some ways to reward your staff:

  • Public recognition
  • Certificates and plaques
  • Verbal praise
  • Movie tickets
  • A written “Thank You”
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Assign new projects

A good way to  find out what each person values as a reward is to ask your staff to write down how they would like for you to show your appreciation when they have exceeded company expectations.  Some employees are excited to be recognized by their peers or management for their accomplishments.  Other employees will welcome new responsibilities as validation of the work.  There are those who want a simple “Thank You” or a written “Thank You.”

Do not make the mistake of rewarding every employee the same way.  If you assign new projects to someone who prizes a written “Thank You” you may find their performance decreases.  They may think, “What good does it do to work hard.  I just get more work assigned to me.”  If you send movie tickets to someone that wants public recognition they may wonder what they have to do to get their work noticed.

You can know how your staff feels about rewards by taking a little time talking and listening to the things that make up each employee’s personality.  Knowing how to motivate your staff will move your career forward and keep your staff happy and appreciated.

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

Connie’s Career Corner: What Constitutes a great resume?

November 15, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“What constitutes a great resume?”

 

Tip for the day:  Take time developing a great resume because your resume is a reflection of how you are and where you have been in life.

Q:  Dear Connie:   In your articles, you refer to the need to have a great resume as part of my marketing package.  What constitutes a great resume?

A:   Dear Job Seeker:   Many people confuse an “attractive resume” with a great resume.  I have seen where many job seekers have paid $200 for someone else to write their resume.  While most all of them were attractive, some were good and some were not good and even fewer were great.

A great resume is a resume that shows the skills and abilities you can offer a company in a clear, concise, and easy to read format.  Most importantly, a great resume focuses on clarity. 

Statistics show that your resume will probably be read for no longer than 12 seconds during its first read through.  Depending on how clearly you have expressed your value to the employer, you will be rejected or move on for further consideration.

If your resume is difficult to follow because of misspelled words and poor grammar, your chance of making it through the first read with a positive outcome is not great.  Consider some of these major read through detractors and rid your resume of them:

  • Abbreviations
  • Personal information
  • Misspelled words
  • Passive tense verbs
  • Lack of work history information
  • Repeating the same information over and over
  • Typed in an usual resume format
  • Resume paper with designs or non-business colors
  • Pictures/graphics
  • Year you graduated from High School or College (unless you graduated within the last five years)

If you have not spent some time writing and rewriting your resume, you probably have not invested enough of your time in this part of the job searching process.  You may be a great interviewer, but you need a great resume to get an opportunity get to the interview.

 

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

Connie’s Career Corner: Don’t overlook the company culture

September 9, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

“Don’t overlook the company culture”

 

Tip for the day:   “What life means to us is determined not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life; not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens.”  Reverend Lewis L. Dunnington

 

Q: Dear Connie:  I am thinking about changing companies.  I am interested in working for a particular company but I have friends who do not seem to like working there.  How do I know if the company is a good company or bad company to work for?

 

A: Dear Looking for a Good Thing: When we accept a position we have expectations regarding what that employer and the position will be like. Two people could have totally different expectations for the same job.  If two people have different expectations, their opinions regarding personal satisfaction will have different results. 

 

It is important to gather as much information as possible before accepting a job offer from a company.  You will want to find out how the employer manages employee relations, such as, how it rewards employees for a job well done. Also, you should know the financial condition of the company, and most importantly, pay attention to the company culture. 

 

Some people want to be praised publicly for their accomplishments.   Others value getting a pay raise when they have accomplished their goals.  Being given detailed instructions and clear expectations makes some workers happy. Others appreciate knowing what needs to be accomplished and being given the freedom to work out the details in their own way.

 

This is why two people doing the same type of job may see the job in a totally different light.  One worker may think he has the best job in the world, but the other may dread every moment while at work.

 

Every company has its own culture and you will want to know if you fit in with the people you will be working with everyday.  During your interview process, take the opportunity to meet the person who will be supervising you and the people who will be your co-workers. Try to determine if the employees keep their personal life separate from work, socialize outside of work, or support a relaxed or very structured work environment. This is where your observation skills will come in handy.  This is not a question to ask your interviewer.

 

There is no right or wrong way to feel as long as you think about how you are the happiest and try to find a work environment that best matches the way you do your work best.  The closer the match, the more likely you are to join the group who says they work for a good or great company.

 

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

Connie’s Career Corner

May 2, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“More ideas can lead to a better result.”

Tip for the day:  If you want a different outcome, try a different approach.  Unknown

 

Q:   Dear Connie:  I get so frustrated when my team is given a project to complete.  My teammates do not seem to work as hard as I work.  Can you give me any suggestions on how to get the rest of my team to work like I do?

A:   Dear Frustrated:  You might not be happy if your whole team approached the task exactly the same way that you do.  The best outcome comes from having diversity in your group, and this includes the different styles people use to approach projects.

To help reduce your frustration, take a little time and understand the different styles people use when completing a project.  There are many assessments you and your co-workers can take to help identify your work styles.  You might want to check out free assessments on the Internet.  Your human resource department may have someone who has been trained in giving assessments to further help your team understand how each team member approaches his work.

Here are four of the approaches people take in completing their work.  The Self-appointed Leader wants to get everything planned out and assigned (including a timeline for completions) while expecting everyone to work and work hard.  The Thinker wants to gather and process the information before any part of the project has begun.  A Thinker will have a hard time understanding how the Self-appointed Leader can plan and start something that may not even be the plan that is needed.  The People Pleaser will want to be sure that everyone in the group has the opportunity to share his ideas.  The People Pleaser will also want the whole team to be happy with their individual assignments.  The Socializer may not appear to be working on his portion of the project until just before the deadline.  He may then be willing to do what it takes to meet the deadline.  The Socializer will probably want to plan a lunch or party to celebrate the project being finished.

If you want to become an even more valued employee, you should learn more about different work styles.  Use your knowledge to help make your team the best it can be.  If you give the Thinker the task of doing the team research, you will have a team member whose knowledge base can help the team avoid delays due to lack of information.  Listen to feedback from the People Pleaser.  If you match the project assignments with what your team members prefer to do, they will be happier.  Happier workers generally turn out the best work.

You may have a lot of great ideas, but think of multiplying those ideas by the number of people on your team.  There does not have to be a right and wrong way to do most projects, but there is usually a good, better and best way to each project.  Stay focused on whether your team members get their assignments finished by deadline, not on whether their daily accomplishments match yours.  It is the quality of the outcome that truly matters.

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

Connie’s Career Corner “It’s never too late to follow your dreams.”

April 3, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“There is no such thing as too old to learn.”

Tip for the day:  It is never too late to follow your dreams.

 

Q:  Dear Connie:  I never finished my degree.  It would be so helpful in securing a better job but I am too old to go back to school.  I will be turning 45 this year and do not think I would be able to do the work.  Do you think I could do it?

 

A:  Dear Need to Finish my Education:  Going back to school is a big decision.  Many people have gone back to school who are your age and much older.  Belmont had a young lady of 70 to complete her degree several years back. 

There are many skills that you have picked up in your life that will help you manage the stresses of college.  Your organizational skills are probably much better developed than when you attended college as a young person.  You will also see the full value of the almost lost opportunity of your first college experience. 

Consider all of the things that might be barriers to your success in finishing your degree:

  • Extra expense that results from attending college
  • Less time to be available to your family
  • Amount of support from your family and friends
  • Your own dedication to completing this goal

Work with the financial aid department to inquire about the amount of funds from PELL, scholarships and loans that are available to you to put toward paying tuition and books.  There are many sources of funding available and the financial aid officer will be able to suggest many different avenues for you to research. 

It is important to have a realistic idea of the time commitment required.  Talk with the schools academic advisors to get information about the classes you will need to complete your degree. Discuss the amount of time that will be needed to finish out-of-class assignments. 

Let your family know that you have always dreamed of finishing your degree.  Express your belief that education is important for everyone and can lead to a better life.  Ask them to support you in this effort.

The main thing you will need is to believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish this valuable goal.  You need to go into this venture with the determination that you have what it takes to complete your program of study.  You will build your self-confidence along the way as you see that you can complete the assignments and can do them well. You can do it! 

 

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

Connie’s Career Corner: Work is Draining my Energy

February 25, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“Work is draining my energy.”

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Tip for the day:  Invest some time in yourself, you are worth the investment.

Q:  Dear Connie: I am so busy at work that I do not seem to have time for my family or myself.  Does everyone live this way?

A:   Dear Busy as a Bee:  Many people do feel the way that you feel.  The job they do on a daily basis becomes so intense that it takes over their life.  There are valid reasons for getting into this pattern with ones work.  There is the drive to succeed that motivates a person to want to not only do a good job but an outstanding job.  There is the fear that if ones performance is not excellent, they will not get the promotion they desire.  There is the fear that if the company is looking to cut employees, they will cut the people who are not producing and you do not want to be seen as “one of those people.”

While having a strong work ethic is highly valued by employers, having a work-life balance is important to you and your wellbeing.  You do not want to accomplish everything possible at your place of employment at the expense of losing your relationship with your family and friends.

We all feel like we do not have enough time to do the things that we want to do in life.  Yet, truth is we have to make time for the things we want to do.  If a person needs to mow his lawn, he may say, “I am too tired to do that today.”  If the person receives a phone call from a friend who offers him a free ticket to the Titans game, he will probably say, “What time do we leave?”

Now is a good time for you to stop and evaluate what is important to you.  Make a list of the things you really value.  Schedule some time for your family and for the things that bring you happiness.  You need to also save some time for yourself.  You are worth the investment.  Do not skip your vacations or work too many hours because you will drain your energy and will actually be less productive at your job.  Activities outside of work renew your energy and your spirit.

Work toward having a work-life balance and you and your loved ones will be happier and healthier.  Even your employer will benefit from your new approach to life.

 

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

 

Connie’s Career Corner: Listen to the Real Questions

February 15, 2013

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“Learn how to listen for the real question.”

Tip for the day:  Silent and listen are made up of the same letters.

Q:  Dear Connie: I have been to several interviews and am afraid that the answers I am giving are not answering the questions that the interviewer wants me to answer.  What am I doing wrong?

A:   Dear What Did You Say:  You may need to develop your ability to listen.  Your interviewer is trying to gain specific information from the questions he is asking in order to properly evaluate your skills, abilities and personality.  If you do not listen well you will miss the point of the question.

A few tips for effective listening are:

  • Give undivided attention
  • Listen carefully to what the person is really saying
  • Allow silence for reflection
  • Use restatement to clarify messages

It is important to listen to the whole question the interviewer is asking and concentrate on what the speaker is saying not on the answer you are planning to give.  If you start formulating the answer when you hear the beginning of the question, you may not hear the complete question.

 

Watch the interviewer’s body language.  You may be able to pick up on his expectations by the signals he is sending with his body language.  If he looks extremely serious when asking a question, he more than likely wants a thoughtful answer with no joking inserted in the answer.  If he is smiling and rares back in his chair, he is probably hoping to hear an answer that shows the lighter side of your personality.

Notice the words that are used and how many parts there are to the question.  Repeat some of these same words in your answer.  If the question has three parts to it, it is very important that you address all three parts of the question in your response.

 

Remember to give yourself time to think the question all the way through before answering.  This is not the time to “wing” it.  You want to sound intelligent and taking a few seconds of silence to gather your thoughts will help in this area.

Using restatement can help you focus in on the right answer.  Do not use restatement the same way that you might in a normal conversation by saying, “What I hear you saying is ….”  You use restatement by leading off your answer with part of the question.  If the question is, “Tell me how you work in a team”, you might say, “Working in a team is one of my greatest strength.”  Then proceed to explain how you are a strong team player.

By using these tips you should become a better listener which will in turn make you a better interviewee.

 

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