Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stay-at-Home Mothers Returning to the Workforce

Some mothers decide to return to work after six or more years of being a stay-at-home parent. This large gap in employment has often been a turn-off for potential employers. Even if you decide to return to the field of work you were in before temporarily retiring, there is often still an old-fashioned stigma associated with mothers abandoning their careers to stay home and raise a family.

Although this thinking is out-of-date and unfair, it still exists. Many employers fear that you will not be fully committed to the job. Be confident. Many working mothers today have more experience under their belt and bring more to the table than the younger crowd.

Showcase skills obtained while raising a family. Raising a family is no easy task and many of the skills honed are marketable and transferable into the workforce. Even though today’s work force is filled with young, well-educated individuals, mothers have wisdom and maturity, which are unattainable without life experience. They offer a different perspective in the business world. Positively embrace the time you were able to spend at home and even let employers know that you feel lucky to be able to have spent the time you did at home.

By staying at home you have mastered: inventory control, purchasing, planning, budgeting, scheduling, motivation, teaching, good work ethic, loyalty, persistence, communication, time-management, people skills, multitasking and probably a dozen other skills necessary for raising a family. If you were to read this list of skills in a different context, it would appear that all the skills required to carry out typical business operations were specified. This should boost your self-assurance while transitioning back into the workforce.

Stay connected. Remain in touch with employment contacts you made while working. You never know when you will need their help again. Employee referrals are vital in the hiring process. Networking is also helpful in finding new contacts within your field. It wouldn’t hurt to brush up on workforce happenings by attending seminars, events or local classes/programs. You never know who you will meet.

Keep up to date with the ever-changing workforce. If you have been out of the workforce for six or more years, chances are that technology has passed you by. Basic IT skills, such as Internet navigation and the ability to send e-mails, are now required for almost every position. In order to remain competitive, consider taking online courses or even those offered at local community colleges. If your career requires specific certifications, make sure those are current.

You also want to update your resume and cover letter. References, skills and experience are gained over time and you want to make sure these are included. When you find a job that you feel matches your skills and that you would be able to perform, create an appealing application to present to employers. Your resume and cover letter should be skills-based instead of highlighting the employment gaps. Do not be afraid to mention any volunteer work you have done while out of the paid workforce. This unpaid work can often translate into a paid opportunity.

Overall, remain positive. If a perspective employer does not recognize your extensive resume after working as a stay-at-home mother, then you probably do not want to work for them anyway. Be patient, the right job is out there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Using Job Recruiters – Part 2: The Upside

If all networking possibilities have been exhausted, then it is usually a good time to turn to a job recruiter. A good job search consultant should be able to help any qualified candidate find a good job fit. One must be enthusiastic when working with a recruiter. Although recruiters would like to place candidates, they will focus on candidates who keep in touch and are quick to follow-up.

Make sure there are no fees associated for the recruiter’s services. There are legitimate recruiters out there who do not charge the job seeker; they will be compensated by the employer. Also, have a clear career path in mind and find a recruiter that specializes in a specific field of work.

It would also be wise to pick just one recruiter. If more than one recruiter is being used, it is important to let them all know exactly who else is distributing the same resume. If this is not clear, two or more recruiters may be fighting over the commission rights from a candidate’s placement.

A high-quality recruiter will do more than simply mass distribute a resume. Recruiters have access to jobs that are not publicized. Often employers seek out recruiters to fill specific high-level, or even 100K+ salary positions. They are seeking only well-qualified individuals to fill these exclusive positions and it is easier to have a recruiter weed through resumes and candidates. This way the employer is presented with only the most experienced applicants.

Since recruiters have relationships and work directly with many employers, therefore increasing the exposure of potential employees. This can be an extremely beneficial situation for job seekers to be in since many employers do not provide direct contact information when applying for a position.

The recruiters’ connections will also prove valuable as they will be able to provide insider information. This will give applicants an advantage when polishing resumes and interviewing. Recruiters are also there to help with final job agreements. They are skilled in salary and benefits negotiations. Remember, the more you make, the more the recruiter makes!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Using Job Recruiters - Part One: The Downside

Job recruiter, also known as headhunter and job search consultant, is defined as someone who “can work on his/her own or through an agency and acts as an independent contact between their client companies and the candidates they recruit for a position.” The decision to use a professional job recruiter is a personal one, but here is some information about them to guide you in your search for the perfect job.

There are two types of recruiters: “retained recruiters” are secured by and work directly for employers and receive a salary for their work with or without placement results while “contingency recruiters” are independent from employers and are paid per referred candidate. There are also executive or niche recruiters, which also fall into one of the above categories, who usually focus on high-level positions that are rarely publicized.

Although there are many upsides to using a recruiter, there are some negative aspects as well. For instance, contingency recruiters are paid commission for each successfully placed candidate. Their commission is usually between 20 and 30 percent of a candidate’s starting salary. In these cases, candidates may get short-changed with a starting salary. Cost-conscious employers will be looking to reduce their recruitment fees by paying the headhunter a lower commission, which will, in turn, result in a lower starting salary.

Additionally, job recruiters often have many qualified candidates with whom they are working. In the effort to make money, they will concentrate on the best resumes first. Less qualified or poorly written resumes may end up at the bottom of a recruiter’s stack, which leaves a job seeker right back where he/she started before they employed a recruiter.

Since money and placement are motivating factors for recruiters, many of them pressure candidates into positions that are a less than perfect fit. If a candidate’s resume is spruced up to land a job, then that person may end up in a position for which he/she is not fully qualified. Frustration will ensue and it is all downhill from there. In order to avoid these mishaps, make sure an honest, ethical and trustworthy recruiter is employed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Not to Share: Workplace Gossip

How many times have you heard a rumor in your lifetime? Odds are, it’s been more times than you could even begin to count. It can be fun to focus on others’ problems for a while, which is the reason tabloids and paparazzi exist. But, chances are, if you think about someone in a specific way, they’re probably thinking the same thing about you. Don’t you want that to be a positive thing? If you spend 40 hours a week with people you talk trash about, you’re going to be one miserable person.

Negative gossip can exacerbate low self-esteem. Many people spew negative information about others because they have low self-esteem and it makes them feel better about themselves to focus on someone else’ negative traits. This is not lost on your co-workers. They see right through it, and your inter-office respect drops considerably with every negative word you say about someone else.

Gossiping about others can also affect your physical health. Most of the time, focusing on what someone else has that you don’t by putting them down indicates jealousy, which can, in turn, cause mental and physical stress because you want what he or she has and can’t get it. Instead of being bitter, why not seek advice? For example, instead of, “Man, Sidney just got promoted over me, and she doesn’t even deserve it!” you could approach Sidney with a congratulations and ask for some advice on how to follow in her shoes. Backseat your pride for a second and you might just get somewhere!

Not all gossip is bad, however. While negative talk is more likely to make it around the office due to boredom, positive talk takes effort and can really get you ahead. Your co-workers may be surprised to hear you say something great and congratulatory about our aforementioned overachiever Sidney if you were holding out for her job, and chances are that will get back to the head honchos [come on – you know someone in your office (coughDWIGHTSCHRUTEcough) is chatty with the boss(es)]. I highly recommend spreading this kind of gossip, even if you don’t necessarily agree with everything you say. It will make you look like a team player and make your promotion even more likely.

Remember – you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Do You Think the Plunge is Worth It?

Recently I became intrigued in the debate of the standard work week versus the entrepreneurial week that promises to be busier and more exciting. What is better? Having a nine to five job where your eyes water and you stretch twenty hours of work into forty just so you have something to do? Or being an entrepreneur, building a company up from the ground, being excited about your new business adventure, but also working close to seventy hours a week? Hmm tough decision.

My friend recently quit his boring day job for the exciting and time consuming life of a start-up business mogul. And to tell you the truth, I’m kind of jealous. Not of his hours (which are ridiculous!) but of his passion, challenges, and excitement that he has every day when he goes into work. The best part about starting a company from the ground up is that you will always have work to do. You will always be challenged every day and become part of the brand, the vision, and the ultimate success of the company.

On the flip side, this is not a lifestyle for the family oriented person. Having an entrepreneur’s lifestyle is hectic and can keep you up at all hours of the night. For people who want a schedule, time for family and children, and who don’t have the opportunity to gamble on the success of a start-up business, then a nine to five job is more up your alley. If you can’t commit to the hours and the dedication then this might not be for you. Your friends and significant other might also start to grow weary of your demanding lifestyle.

If you can find the time, energy, and money then a start-up might be one of the greatest decisions of your life. Feeling energized and passionate about work will make you happy and cherish the things around you.

So I ask you, do you think the plunge is worth it? Depending on your circumstances it just might be.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Creative Cubicles

Ok so this might not be the most inspirational blog but I had to talk about these fun, creative and zen-like cubicles. Heck yeah I would love my cubicle to be a tropical oasis with a trickling waterfall to the left of my desk. You have to see this:

People are actually blinging out their cubicles. It’s like “Pimp My Ride” but for the workplace! You might as well deck out the place if you are spending at least eight hours a day there. Nowadays you can find numerous online companies that will cater to your vision of what you want your cubicle to look like. Say goodbye to gray boring walls!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Keep Your Personal Time Hush Hush at Work

Away from the office you can pretty much do what you want, right? Wrong. Eating a super-sized McDonald’s meal for dinner or polishing off that bottle of wine might be career threatening moves nowadays. Here are a handful of lifestyle activities that might be putting your job in jeopardy:

  1. Anything in the realm of overeating, drinking alcohol, or smoking cigarettes can make an employer wary. This kind of lifestyle ups health insurance costs and is seen as a threat to have you working for the company.
  2. The next problem is risky behavior. You might love to skydive or go bungee jumping but employers see it as a liability.
  3. Another aspect to be careful of is speech. Keep your blogging skills and choice words about your company to a minimum.
  4. This next issue has been a problem for decades: relationships. Companies scrutinize employees about same-sex relationships, dating someone at a competitor’s company, or sexual harassment in the office.
  5. Finally, a personal issue to keep to yourself is politics. Your conservative boss is not going to like seeing your huge Obama poster hanging over your desk. Keep politics out of the office.

All five of these lifestyle activities can get you fired from the workplace. Make sure you read your employee handbook and understand the rules and procedures. Don’t assume that they are illegally firing you because they might have the justification to do so. Remember to always think before you act. Will your employer find your actions harmful or destructive to your company? Finally, keep your personal life to yourself. You are in no way forced to disclose what happened on your weekend or if you went out for drinks with co-workers the night before. Be cautious about your actions and keep your mouth closed tightly when it comes to your personal life.