Tag: Career

What I’ve Learned Starting my Career: The Perspective of a Woman of the Millennial Generation

Posted on June 25th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 3 comments

Let me begin with saying I’ve very new in my career. I’m 22 and I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in May of 2013 and started my current job six months ago.

There were some vital things I’ve learned since graduating. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been laid off from a small internet marketing company, was self-employed for four months and then recruited for my current job. All this, while not entirely knowing what exactly I wanted out of my career.

My current title is SEO Technical Specialist (click on the link if you have no idea what that is, many people I’ve met do not)! I had my first review and first promotion last week. The last six months have been intense and exciting. Also terrifying and frustrating. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far with starting my career in the corporate world as a young, female millennial.

 

Perception is Reality

One of the hardest things I’ve learned (in a very hard way) is keeping my cool. Working in the corporate environment, being new and being young, it takes me a little bit more work to have my ideas considered. That can be very frustrating.

The most important thing is to be sure you keep calm, both your voice and face. Take a moment to walk away and think about. Consider bringing up the subject in a different way. How you react will either improve or damage your relationship with the person you are working with.

It’s important to build a “brand” around yourself. Create a professional Twitter account, grow your Linkedin profile and watch your posts on Facebook. Building a brand is one way you can control other’s perception of you.

 

Keep Learning!

I work in an industry that changes all of the time. With that, I’m constantly reading industry blogs. Sometimes I’ve even been the first one in my department to share important industry news. This matters. Not only is it important so that you can continue to improve your work, but becoming a person who is clearly knowledgeable will gain you respect and recognition.

Get certification in an aspect of your field. There are lots of options for online learning. I’m currently investigating a Mini MBA in Internet Marketing. I come from a writing background and ended up (happily) in the field of Search Engine Optimization. It’s very exciting but can be challenging because many of my co-workers have more experience in both marketing and the technical side of my field. Want to become a leader in your field? Keep learning!

 

Goals Matter…Sort of

As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot of articles. Not just in my industry though; I want to learn how to develop my career, not just do my job to the best of my ability. An article I read called “How Millennial Women Are Shaping Our Future” had a statistic that stood out to me, “Eighty-three percent of Millennial women say they believe they are expected to be more successful than women in previous generations.” That’s a lot of pressure.

I’m very guilty of two things, being a procrastinator and a perfectionist. I believe many of my peers can identify with this. Getting this job, I’ve kicked the procrastination aspect but I still put a lot of pressure on myself to do it perfect.

In theory this sounds like a great characteristic for an employee! But in reality the pressure becomes so intense your work ends up suffering in the long run. It’s important to keep the big picture in mind when setting out to accomplish something. Whether a project at work or a promotion you’re aiming for.

With that said, I did not plan to have a career as an SEO Technical Specialist. All I knew was that I wanted a job, and a good one. I let the chips fall in place. This is what I mean by the “sort of” aspect. It’s amazing what can happen if you allow yourself to have loose goals with your career. Allow opportunities to present them to you. This can be the most rewarding and exciting aspect of your career development.

 

Ask Questions

I can’t emphasize this point enough! The most important lesson I have learned is to never be afraid to ask questions. I’m not just talking about questions on projects or about your industry. Ask on ways to you can do something better, how you can improve and how you can help.

Volunteering for projects goes a long way. Asking how you can improve makes an impact. Your supervisors or managers will notice if you ask before the review on what you can improve upon.

 

Conclusion

I have so much left to learn. When I think about how inexperienced I will consider myself at this point when I look back a year, 2 years, or 10 years from now. But I feel that I’ve made some key discoveries I wanted to share. Both to my peers and to those wondering, “what’s up with those Millennials anyways?” Most of us are working hard. More importantly, most of us are trying to figure it all out.

 

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About the Author:  Lauren graduated from the University of South Florida in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She now works in the field of Internet Marketing. She loves to write and learn how to be better at her job. Self-improvement, leadership, marketing, social media and SEO are some of the topics she most enjoys writing about.  She also currently publishes her own personal blog sharing gluten-free recipes.


GPS Your Career: 3 Ways To Enhance Your Leadership Trajectory

Posted on June 19th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

We all know how important it is to navigate and manage our own careers. However, it’s not always easy to know what to do or even when the best timing is to do it. Personal circumstances, boss’s opinions of us, and corporate restructurings all play a pivotal part in impacting the success of our leadership and career trajectory. Our tolerance for these external factors and how they impact our lives varies from time to time, but ultimately I believe we are the only ones who know what’s best; even if we have moments of being unsure of what move to make next.

Years ago when I was a corporate employee and ready to come back to work after maternity leave, I decided coming back part-time might be a good option to help me transition after having a baby. My boss saw my entrance back into the work force differently than I did. She actually told me that she did not think it possible to be both a serious career woman AND be a mother and suggested that I think about choosing which one of these was more important to me. After getting over the shock (and the potential unlawfulness of her comment), my tolerance for her navigating my career in this way was, as you might imagine, ZERO! So, I quit. I had no job, a 3 month old, an 18 month old, and was determined my career would resemble something I wanted and NOT something someone else wanted for me.

After managing through this unfortunate set of circumstances myself (ultimately not as unfortunate, as this conversation was the catalyst for starting my own business!), I learned many things. Here are three that helped me, and might help you as well, as you think about how to navigate your wants and your circumstances most effectively.

 

Pay Attention

Even though we believe our careers are ours to manage, if we work for someone else, we often find ourselves at the affect of our boss’s idea as to what career move is available to us or not. Pay attention to the feedback you receive from your boss and your boss’s boss. You need to start reading between the lines, even if you don’t like what you see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an executive tell me they gave one of their employees some pretty tough feedback, but when I check in with the employee, they say that nothing unusual or critical in nature was discussed. My conclusion is that most of us really do believe we have spoken straight and clear when giving feedback, but in reality what was said isn’t necessarily heard as we intended. As a result, we have to get better at reading between the lines and asking lots of questions to obtain clarity so we can better plot a course for our next move.

 

Navigate

Map out the path to the promotion, job, or title you desire and feel you deserve. No one wants what you want more than you do and no one will take the wheel for you. You are in the driver’s seat, but beware; this journey is not for weenies. You will need to stay alert, read the signs, and stay focused on your destination. It’s OK to take a detour or two as no career progression is traveled in a straight line. Keep your eyes on your destination otherwise it becomes easy to take too many side streets just waiting for “them” to change their minds and see just how talented you really are.

 

Re-calculate

To be fully satisfied in your work, you first have to decide what it is that you want, and then commit to having it in a singularly focused kind of way. It does happen, although rarely, that the Universe just guides and glides us along without effort towards our dreams and goals. Most of the time however, we actually have to do stuff to make what we want become a reality. It takes persistence, commitment and acting outside your comfort zone to obtain the brass ring you have your sights on. Have conversations with key stakeholders (bosses, mentors and a coach) as to what’s required to readjust your actions, recalculate a misguided direction you may have made, and to understand clearly the gap between where you are and where you want to ultimately be.

 

Summary

As you navigate your career, no matter how old or young you are, you will either head towards something you want or escape from something that’s not working for you, like in my case with my boss. Giving yourself time to think about your career progression actually allows you to work ON your career and not just be IN it. It is a smart thing to do and will pay off by putting you in the drivers seat over and over again.

 

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About the Author:  Wendy Capland is known as one of America’s top women leaders on the topic of leadership development. As Chief Executive Officer of Vision Quest Consulting, Wendy has 25 years of experience working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals developing their most important asset, their people. She is the author of Your Next Bold Move for Women: 9 Proven Steps to Everything You Ever Wanted.  www.WendyCapland.com 


Why You Don’t Want To Be the Smartest Person In the Room

Posted on May 27th, by Shauna Moerke in Career Advice. 3 comments

I have a confession to make: I love coming into a new organization and a new team and knowing that I am not the smartest person in the room. It’s the best feeling. It makes me want to do a happy dance and can’t wait to get to work in the morning.

Sure, it can be pretty sweet to always be the best on your team. Everyone comes to you with questions, your manager trusts you, and you always lead the team in performance. But what is good for your ego is not necessarily good for your career.

When you are the best person on your team you’ve hit the ceiling. You’ve done all that can be done, you’ve mastered the role, and you’ve gotten all the accolades. So what is left to push you forward? What is left to challenge you and make you better than you are today? If you aren’t moving forward, you are standing still while the rest of the world is going by.

To me, it is exciting to know that the people I work with are great at what they do. Just simply being surrounded by competent, creative, and dedicated professionals is thrilling. It means that I have to be my best, I have to push myself, and I have to rise the challenge too because I don’t want to be left behind. It means that I have an opportunity to learn, and that is probably the thing that excites me the most

Even better, especially for all us Women of HR, is seeing strong and intelligent women in leadership roles that we can look up to. You don’t have to aspire to leadership yourself to appreciate how awesome that is. I know a lot of brilliant women in leadership roles who everyday inspire me to simply be better than I am. And needless to say, the more amazing women we have leading not only HR but companies in general, the more positive change and equality all women in the workforce will see.

So the next time you start thinking how great it is to be the big fish, maybe start looking for a bigger pond to play in. Just be sure to start any new opportunity with an open mind, open ears, and a little humility. Even your ego will thank you for it later.

 

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About the author:  Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show, and blogs at her own site as the HR Minion.


Career Advice From Women in Human Resources

Posted on May 15th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

Women in leadership positions have been a hot topic on the global news circuit. In the US, tongues are wagging about whether Hillary still plans to become one of the most powerful people in the world , while in the UK, the government target of 25% female representation on boards by 2015 will likely be smashed since it’s shot up to 20% for the first time ever.

Yet despite the positive changes, a recent report released on Catalyst.org says that female representation on boards in North America has stagnated in the past few years.  While women represented 47.3% of the 2011 workforce in Canada, they only made up 22.9% of senior management position s by 2012.

All the data suggests that the playing field is not even quite yet. So how have the women at the top of the global HR and business community climbed the career ladder to the top rung, and how can you do the same? Changeboard turned to seven senior business and HR professionals to get their advice on the problems they’ve faced, and how they’ve overcome them.

 

Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyjet, on balancing work and home life:

“You can’t be managing director or CEO of a company and not stay completely involved in the business, but it’s about finding a way of making it work. An important ingredient for me was having the right balance between my personal life and career.

It’s now time for women to keep their head above the parapet. Write a letter to your line manager or HR outlining the flexibility you require and present your business case. You may be surprised to find that you’re pushing at an open door.”

 

Kate Chapman, group HR director, PageGroup, on developing your own leadership style:

“I’m the same person I was when I started work, and have stayed true to my core values. I’ve got many great experiences to draw on and plenty of people I can reach out to.”

 

Leigh Lafever-Ayer, HR director of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, on the importance of mentoring:

“Look for mentors in and out of your organization. They can help you develop your skills and knowledge. Studies show that, despite having proven their talent, lots of women lack confidence in their abilities. A mentor can boost your confidence and could encourage you to go for jobs that you would otherwise pass over. Networking is equally as important. Introducing yourself to a wider community can lead you to untapped opportunities.

In my position, one of the areas of special focus is helping women to grasp the opportunity that is there. Many women readily admit that they are more cautious about putting themselves forward for a role than men. Even when their balanced scorecard is demonstrating ability, they may hesitate and wonder if they really are ready. Our mentoring, networking and development programmes are designed to help women overcome these hurdles.”

 

Fareda Abdullah, VP, human capital and corporate communications, Majid Al Futtaim Ventures, on what it takes to grow in business:

“I do not accept the common misconception that women have no career ambitions. It’s important to be focused and not give up. You must adapt according to your circumstances.”

 

Jane Bilcock, executive VP & chief HR officer, Pinstripe & Ochre House, on the key to success:

Do something you feel passionate about. Life’s too short to do something that doesn’t excite you.

 

Ceri-Anne Connelly, HR director, group functions, Aviva, on the value of hard work:

“Roll up your sleeves and get ‘into the work.’ I wouldn’t ask my team to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. Sitting with employees on the front line is the best possible way of understanding the need for change and defining the most successful people strategy.”

 

Jeannie Edwards, director of HR, Europe Africa, MWH Global, on being authentic in business for success:

“Don’t try to be anything other than yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t try to fit into a mould. The most successful women I know are comfortable with themselves. The most frustrated are role playing. A very senior woman once told me that I would never be taken seriously if I wore pink. I wear pink a lot, and it doesn’t seem to have done me too much damage.”

 

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About the Author:  Katie Richard is the online content editor for Changeboard.com, a global HR careers and content site based in the UK. A Canadian living in London, she’s interested in raising the profile of women in business.


HR Legacy

Posted on May 6th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Career Advice, Community and Connection. 2 comments

What causes people to gravitate towards their career?  We know that there are numerous factors including socio-economic status, location, age, academic inclination, mentors, and parental influence.

For many years, centuries it seems, it was common for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents—daughters following mothers, sons following fathers.  Given how we used to learn things and the very nature of old class systems, that careers were family-centric is in no way surprising.

In recent times however, children are less likely to take similar career paths as their parents.  In fact, according to recent findings from Ancestry.co.uk, just 7% of children today end up in the same job as their mother or father (as compared to 48% a century ago).

Indeed, from a career perspective, all sorts of things have influenced career gravitation for women, including the Suffrage movement, Title IX, and even technology.

According to Ancestry.com’s studies, children today are three times more likely to choose a different career from their parents.

So let me ask this question of HR Professionals.  Was one of your parents an HR Professional, or the earlier derivations such as Personnel Manager or Payroll Administrator?  If yes, how much of an influence was this on your own career choice?

In my entire career, I have only met one mother/daughter HR duo, and in reality, the mother was only the HR Professional for a few years before taking over the company from her father.  How come there aren’t more mother/daughters like this?

I think it behooves us to ask:

  • Are we promoting our career in a sustainable, attractive way?
  • Are we happy in our career, and do we project happiness?
  • What can we do to promote this field to our children?

 

Talk amongst yourselves.

 

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About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.


Making Yourself a More Valuable Employee

Posted on April 29th, by Amanda Andrade in Business and Workplace, Career Advice. 1 Comment

Recently our training manager at Veterans United Home Loans presented management curriculum on Maximizing Value. The focus was on creating added value through customary avenues like time allocation, resource management, efficiency, and process improvement. We also highlighted a critical, yet often neglected area associated with Maximizing Worth. Namely, modeling behaviors that keep your role and team’s contribution an unmistakable ingredient of your organization’s success.

So, how do you become the employee or team that your organization fights to keep? Here are ten behaviors to make yourself more valuable at work.

1. Treat your manager and co-workers as you do your customers.

You know what good customer service is about from your own experience. It’s about being cheerful, flexible, prompt, and reliable. Work at delivering good customer service every day to your manager and co-workers. Give them reasons to want to work with you and not with someone else.

 

2. Maintain a positive attitude.

Everyone has good and bad days, but the people we appreciate for their consistency and enthusiasm don’t let their bad days ruin ours. They choose their attitude. And they choose to make it positive. You can, too. Here are some ways to accomplish this goal:

  • Make a list of the good things in your life or keep a file of accomplishments you’re proud of. Look at it when you start to feel down. Take yourself back to that time of the accomplishment; think about how energized you became, and why. This can help you get back to that positive state of mind. The momentum gained from this exercise should generate further momentum.
  • Remind yourself that problems at work aren’t all about you. Look at them as opportunities to fix something, not as criticisms of you. Don’t take it personal.
  • Spend time with people who have positive attitudes, both to get an emotional lift from them and to observe how they deal with challenges.
  • Make an effort to be pleasant and easy to work with, even when you’re not feeling that way inside.
  • Avoid the “blame game.” Instead of finding someone to blame when there’s a problem, focus on ways to fix it.
  • Be honest with yourself about what’s causing a negative attitude. Watch for symptoms of stress and think about what is causing it. Get help when you need it.

 

3. Focus on productivity.

Work at becoming as good as you can be at the most important functions of your job. Produce results that are highly valued. Look for opportunities to do work more efficiently, to improve quality and customer satisfaction, and to save the organization money. Make a point of offering new ideas that could enhance the business. Strive to get more work done by being efficient, overcoming procrastination, and reducing interruptions. Try to understand the work style of your co-workers and of other groups you work with.

 

4. Be an agent of change, not an obstacle to it.

Employees who embrace positive change and help make changes happen are appreciated and valued by their managers. They also have a head start in learning new work processes and finding out how their skills and talents fit into the changed organization. Be an employee who suggests changes to improve efficiency or quality and who helps to figure out how to make those changes happen. Notice problems at work, but instead of complaining take steps to find a solution. Help co-workers accept changes, too, by drawing their attention to opportunities that change can bring.

 

5. Build connections.

Make friends at work and with people doing similar work at other organizations. Have fun and help others have fun at work. Make yourself the kind of person others want to work with. Help out when your help is needed, teach valuable skills, and share work-critical information. Let people know about interesting articles or studies that you find. Network to make connections with people who can give you new and different work and teach you valued skills. Volunteer for committees or special events as a way to work with new people. Attend industry functions and trade association meetings when it’s appropriate. Meet experts in your field and ask them for feedback on your work or ideas about problems your organization is facing. Know your employer’s policies about online networking so that, if your organization permits, you can benefit from both “offline”  or face-to-face networking and from joining networking sites on the Internet.

 

6. Communicate clearly and directly.

Being a clear, direct, and thoughtful communicator can help you stand out as a valued employee. Share information that others need to know, and share it efficiently. Use e-mail when discussion isn’t needed. Call or talk in person if an issue truly needs to be discussed. Be prepared when you go to meetings so that you don’t waste people’s time. Get right to the point; eliminate unnecessary details. Always thank people for their time and their help.

 

7. Keep learning.

If you’re doing the same work in the same way you did it two years ago, chances are you’re being left behind. Take the time (your own time if that’s what’s needed) to learn new skills and to stay current with any areas of special expertise. Keep any licenses or certifications up-to-date even if you’ve moved into a managerial or other job that doesn’t require them. Stay informed about the business you’re in. Consider taking classes or professional development seminars. Commit to reading at least one book or professional journal in your field each quarter. As you gain new skills and knowledge, let your leader know. Find ways to use what you’re learning in your work.

 

8. Seek and welcome honest feedback.

Understand how your manager and others in your organization see your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you improve your knowledge and skills in the way that would help your employer most. Ask your manager, “What is the most important thing I could do to make myself more valuable to our organization?” Or, “What college classes would help most in my current job?” If you feel uncomfortable talking with your manager, consider requesting a confidential meeting with your human resources (HR) department and asking for clarification. Keep in mind that employers often place a very high value on aspects of performance, such as attendance and punctuality,  that employees may see as less important.

 

9. Make your value visible to others.

“Market” yourself to make sure that your value is noticed. Make sure your manager knows what you do, and especially what you do well. Your performance review is an appropriate forum for listing your accomplishments and explaining the challenges you’ve overcome. Regular one-on-one meetings with your manager are another. Make your value more visible by volunteering for high-profile projects, where your contribution will be noticed as part of an important effort. Offer to be a coach or mentor to new employees. Ask to represent your team or department on cross-functional teams. As you learn new skills, teach your co-workers. They’ll appreciate the help in solving the work problems they face, and it will give you a reputation both as a source of expertise and as a valued team member.

 

10. Be flexible.

In an up-and-down economy, employers may place a higher value on employees who have the skills and mental flexibility to do more than one job. Be ready and willing to take on some or all of the tasks of a co-worker who is absent or on leave or who has been laid off or furloughed. If your current skills or knowledge wouldn’t allow you to do this, make it a top priority to gain a few new ones.

 

We know that in today’s workplace, hard work and effort are no longer enough to assure success or even to guarantee continued employment. Advances in technology, innovations from competitors, and changing customer needs have pushed organizations to be adept at changing focus and direction. This almost always means changing requirements for employees. Accomplishment at work is no longer just about working harder. It’s about working differently, and ensuring your continued value. Modeling these ten behaviors is a great way to build your workplace security and team’s success.

If you’re interested in reading more on this subject check out a book called, “Getting the Job You Want” by David Roper.

 

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About the Author: Amanda Andrade is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors. She also has a doctorate in Environment and Behavior, focusing on highly profitable, employee-centric work environments. Connect with Amanda on Google+.


Tips for Avoiding Career Missteps

Posted on April 10th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 1 Comment

One of the many effects of our improving economy is a noticeable uptick in workers changing jobs. As recession-era fears subside, employees become more confident in their ability to find better opportunities. Whether they are seeking higher pay, more robust benefits packages that meet their personal needs, or intangibles such as feeling appreciated, many workers will be moving on in 2014. For those with thoughts of making a change, and even for those with no immediate plans to leave their jobs, now is a great time to take a career inventory incorporating the following guidelines: 

 

Don’t Quit Networking Once You Get a Job: People are usually vigilant about networking when looking for a job but stop once they’re hired. Your long term career success is dependent on your ability to continue to build strong business connections as well as nurture current relationships.

 

Put More Focus on Benefits: When looking for a job, weighing the options is about much more than base pay. The role, manager and compensation are all important factors in deciding whether to join a company, but benefit programs (such as work-hour flexibility, health and wellness programs and family leave policies) and company culture are critical factors as well. More than ever, the gap between work and home-life is closing, and working for a company that understands that can save you a lot of stress and money.

 

Be the Driver of Your Own Destiny: Too many people depend on their manager or boss to set the tone for their career path. Your career success is dependent on being the driver of your own destiny. Be proactive in the assignments and responsibilities you take on. Talk to your manager/boss about what you want and where you see your career path going with the company.

 

Keep Social Media Profiles Professional: The lines between personal and professional are more blurred than ever before. Even if you have a personal profile page on Facebook or Twitter that you intend for your friends’ eyes only, keep it professional. Never post something that you wouldn’t want your boss or prospective employer to see. In today’s digital age it’s easy for employers and prospective employers to find you online.

 

Keep Your Skills Sharp: No matter what industry you are in, it’s important to keep building on your skill set. It’s not enough to graduate from college and call it a day. Education is an ongoing process and it is important to stay sharp and keep up with the latest industry trends if you want to be a key player at your company.

 

Create a Five Year Plan: When you started out in your career you likely had a five year plan. It’s important to keep this plan alive! Update it every year. Re-evaluate what you wanted to achieve last year, where you are now and how you would like to see the next five years go. It’s a lot easier to make career decisions when you have a solid plan laid out.

 

By following these tips, you will be in a much better position to meet your career goals, whether they be an immediate job change, a future move, or even a promotion within your current place of employment. Just remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and those willing to consistently put in the work are more likely to come out ahead.

 

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About the Author:  A previous guest writer for Women of HR, Chris Duchesne has more than 15 years of experience in HR technology. In his role as VP of Global Workplace Solutions for Care.com, Chris oversees Care.com’s suite of services offered to institutional and corporate clients, their employees and families. Under his leadership, the program has grown to serve 150 organizations representing more than 600,000 employees. A father of three small children, Chris also knows first-hand the challenges working parents face. An in-demand expert on work-life integration, he has been featured in The New York Times, Real Simple, CIO, Yahoo! Small Business and Employee Benefit News.

 


{Career Advice} Making the Change

Posted on April 3rd, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 1 Comment

In How Dorothy Got Her Groove Back, Dorothy Douglass talks about the things she did to help her re-find her love for her job and to improve her attitude at work. Dorothy was really lucky and the tips she shares are great but…what if you still can’t get back into the swing of things?

For example, do you want to stay in the HR field or do you want to take on a new challenge? Maybe the key is switching from an interpersonal oriented area of HR like Training to one that’s more task focused like working in Benefits and Compensation. If you do decide to “jump ship”, many HR professionals have used their skills to move into careers in political, administration and even financial fields.

Of course, if you do decide to go into a complementary field, you’re probably going to have to “go back to school” unless you want to start at the very bottom of your brand new field.

Consider Jamie. Jamie got her Bachelor’s Degree in HR and, right after graduation, was hired on in the benefits department of a local small business. After a few years she realized that while she loved the numbers part of her job, she didn’t like the company’s structure. She wanted more independence and to work more directly with people, so she decided to go into Financial Planning. More specifically, she decided to go into Investment Planning (there’s a fine line between the two).

This couldn’t happen overnight—especially since Jamie didn’t want to have to start out in an entry level cubicle making a fraction of what she’d earned after rising in the ranks of HR. So, she did what many would have to do: she decided to get certified in investment planning. This involved taking Cima courses and becoming a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) prior to changing jobs.

For Jamie, this was difficult but not impossible. She has a supportive husband and her kids are older and completely capable of taking care of themselves. She could study at the table for her exams while they studied for their SAT and ACT exams. Not everybody is able to do this. Some have little ones who demand their attention. Some are already having trouble maintaining your work-life balance and adding anything else to it would throw a precarious situation into chaos. If this sounds familiar, here are a few things that to think about:

1. If you cannot handle working full time and going to school to earn whatever degrees/certifications you need for your new field, consider instead seeking financial aid and using that to supplement your income until you can find employment in your new field. Yes, student loans are nobody’s idea of a good time, but if it helps you keep your sanity, it’s worth it.

2. Talk to your family about what you want to do. Don’t just blindside them with your decision. You might be surprised at how willing to help they are. Maybe your sister can watch your kids a few evenings a week. Maybe your spouse can take over carpool in the mornings. The more time you spend talking and planning, the easier on everybody it will be.

3. Talk to your boss. Your boss probably already knows that you aren’t happy and perhaps he or she will be sympathetic. Ask about cutting back on your hours and bringing in someone to train under you so that they won’t be left in the lurch when you are finally able to give your notice.

Have you successfully switched careers into or out of HR? How did you make it work?

 

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About the Author:  Sam Peters is an avid blogger and career whiz, and a previous guest writer for Women of HR.  Originally from the mid-west, she now resides in sunny San Diego.  When not writing you can usually find her with a good book and her puppy, Kona.


{Career Advice} Kindness In The Workplace.

Posted on April 1st, by Tamkara Adun in Career Advice. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note:  Several of our Women of HR writers have come together to share some of the best pieces of career advice they’ve received.  Their series of posts will run over the next couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

 

Buzzwords.  As much as we love to hate them, it’s almost impossible to avoid them especially in the work environment.

On a daily basis we are inundated with corporate buzzwords relating to topics such as thinking out of the box, taking the initiative, being authentic, honing our networking skills, taking ownership, fostering team spirit, becoming more innovative, creating engagement…the list is endless.

I do not underestimate the importance of the above mentioned skills and attributes, however it seems that we place so much emphasis on them at the expense of other less visible attributes and virtues.  Virtues such as kindness, thoughtfulness and empathy.

Why do we not hear more about the importance of showing kindness in the work place?  Why is it not openly touted in the workplace as an attribute of a successful employee?

Does the competitive nature of most work environments somehow discourage overt displays of kindness?

Is it possible to be kind in the workplace without compromising our competitive and professional edge?

These are questions worth considering.

Kindness is such a powerful virtue and it would be such a great idea if we incorporated a little more kindness, empathy and the willingness to empower others in our work environments.

I recently attended a Workshop on Gender Balanced Leadership hosted by Dianne Bevelander. She is the Associate Dean MBA programmes at The Rotterdam School of Management, and someone that I admire very much. It was a very powerful and insightful session and I found myself having multiple“Aha moments”.
I would like to share a thought that she shared at that event that impacted me the immensely and has stayed with me ever since.

“Be kind to others…. When you make others powerful, you also become more powerful”

There is so much power in small acts of generosity and kindness.

Acts of kindness such as the gift of a smile or a listening ear. The gift of suspending judgment until all the facts are known. The gift of inclusion and acceptance.

What if some of the new buzzwords in our organizations revolved around Kindness?  What if we placed a premium on sponsorship and empowering others? What if we began to do unto others as we would have done unto us?

Imagine the impact it would create in our daily interactions within and without our workplaces.

I was dismayed to read about the harsh LinkedIn rejection letter from a Cleveland Job bank operator that went viral a few weeks ago. You can read about it here.

In my opinion, this incident just brings to the fore symptoms of a lack of kindness and empathy prevalent in our society today. It is made manifest in the unwillingness to share of your knowledge and expertise unless there is something to be gained in return.

I have often wondered, which is easier? To watch others go through the exact same mistakes and difficulties that one has gone through, or to make their journey easier and rewarding by sharing of your knowledge and wealth of experience?

There has been a lot of talk about women being reluctant to help each other climb up the career ladder and stories like the aforementioned just serve to reinforce that negative perception.  Let’s begin to ask ourselves questions like “who are you mentoring?”  How are you sharing your knowledge and wealth of wisdom with the next generation?

Let’s create a Buzz around kindness.

Kindness is a life skill that will serve us well within and without the workplace.

To whom are you extending a hand of kindness to?

“Wherever there is a human being, there is a chance for a kindness.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca

 

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About the Author: Tamkara currently lives in The Hague and is currently taking time off from her day job in Procurement and Sourcing to pursue an MBA. She will be spending the next few months studying, blogging and learning Dutch. You can connect with her on twitter @tamkara  or find out what she’s up to at www.naijaexpatinholland.com.


{Career Advice} Anything Is Possible

Posted on March 27th, by Rowena Morais in Career Advice. 4 comments

Editor’s Note:  Several of our Women of HR writers have come together to share some of the best pieces of career advice they’ve received.  Their series of posts will run over the next couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

 

It came from a slogan I saw on a comic strip. It was a cute little character with a speech balloon that read, “Keep going, anything’s possible”. Maybe this is not what you’d expect in terms of career advice, but it’s what worked for me.

Early in my career, I did the traditional route. I read law and then I entered practice. I had to embark on it, give it a full whirl before I made my mind up about it. I realised very early on that this was not the game I intended to play for the rest of my life. Yet, at that point, I didn’t have a gameplan in mind. I only knew that my path involved exploring what was out there before I made my decision. But I digress.

Throughout my career, I have embraced many different facets of business, many of which I lacked the experience or education in, for that matter. Yet, I never let that deter me. I was curious and that curiosity fueled a lot of exploration – new books to read up on, code to learn, strategies to try out. I simply didn’t let inexperience and lack of knowledge stand in the way of my journey.

In the early stages of my entrepreneurial journey, starting up a professional business services company and then launching a Human Resource publication, I came across this comic. It was cute, it had just the right number of words on it and it made such an impact. I wanted these simple, yet powerful words to be a constant reminder to me of what could be. And so I kept this tiny poster stuck on a wall in front of my desk. It took centre stage and day in, day out, I saw that comic, and it fueled me.

Inspiration, advice, perspective, motivation – these can come from anywhere and anyone. It’s about the place and time you are at and your openness to receive what’s out there at that point in time. It’s about an alignment between the questions you seek answers to and what the universe brings to you.

Anything’s possible is about motivation, passion, drive and ambition. Just as importantly, it is about hope, in the face of failure – large, looming, desolate and repeated failure.

While we don’t choose what happens to us, we choose, whether mindful or not, our responses to these situations. Keeping this advice close at hand has enabled me to see things differently, to have hope when things looked bleak, and to realise that you have to keep going.

You have to keep going to see subtle shifts in perspectives and to see things you didn’t seem to notice before.

You have to keep going to realise what you are passionate about and what you just will not give up on.

You have to keep going because you simply cannot get to where you want to be by mere proclamation, standing still, or worse, waiting for it to be handed to you.

 

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Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at editor@hr-matters.info.