Tag: Career

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. 2 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!

 

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.


{Career Advice} A Collection of Wise Words

Posted on March 25th, by Kristin Kaufman 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!

 

A few years ago, I read a wonderful article in Fortune magazine that was nothing more than a collection of wise advice from notable individuals. This article stayed with me. So I thought I would offer a synopsis of advice ranging from famous leaders (a few paraphrased from this article) to the day to day leaders who cross my path each day. This collection is relevant and focused on how to be the best we can be – at whatever stage of our leadership journey we find ourselves.

Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, Pepsico:

“Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent….when you assume negative intent, you are angry and it shows.”

 

Chad Houser and Janice Provost, Owners of Parigi Restaurant in Dallas:

“We treat everyone the same – like family. We want people to want to come here not only because of the food; also because they feel good when they are here.”

 

Sam Palmisano, Chairman and CEO of IBM:

“Don’t view your career as a linear progression. Take horizontal steps, try out situations that are unstructured to learn different ways of working, and get outside the headquarters and experience different cultures.”

 

Thomas S. Murphy, Former CEO, Capital Cities/ABC:

“Don’t spend your time on things you can’t control. Instead, spend your time thinking about what you can.”

 

Nelson Peltz, CEO, Trian Fund Management:

“Get sales up and keep expenses down. It is as simple as that.”

 

Charlene Begley, President and CEO, GE Enterprise Solutions:

“People don’t care about titles. Just value. Spend a ton of time with your customers – especially when you are new to your role – ask tons of questions about everything…competitors, service, price, products…they will give you the reality. Then you can act.”

 

Rachel Ashwell, CEO of Shappy Chic:

“If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Own it. Then go find out. Period.”

 

Tina Fey, Actress:

“Pay attention to money. Listen to your business manager and your accountants. Always be the person who can sign your checks – only you.”

 

Tony Robbins, Performance Coach:

“The selection of your friends and advisors matter more than anything else in your life. You must stand guard at the door of your mind.”

 

Joe (last name anonymous by request), successful business executive:

“Be real. Just keep it real.”

 

Joanna Shields, President, BEBO.com:

“I go back to the things my dad said: ‘Your career is long, and the business world is small. Always act with integrity. Never take the last dollar off the table.’

 

In closing, I particularly relate to this last piece of advice from Joanna, as seldom have I ever heard wise business advice from anyone, which had not previously been given to me by my mother and father. For these gifts, I will remain eternally grateful.

This article highlights just a few of the thousands of wise words and stories from individuals who affect our lives – directly or indirectly – every day. The secret is to be present in the moment so that we benefit from their thoughts, words, and deeds – as they cross our paths. That is the secret…..and the gift.

 

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About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.


Age Before Expertise: The Battle for Credibility

Posted on March 18th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

 I have always known that over the course of my career I’d be faced with adversity at times because I am a female, but I had never truly considered the fact that my age – or lack thereof – would also be a significant variable in the calculation of my credibility as an Executive Recruiter. Perhaps it was my naivety or the simple fact that I’d always been treated as an equal by my colleagues, no matter the reason I was late to the realization that not everyone considered me a viable source in the industry in spite of my professional accomplishments.

In my career, I’ve placed some of the best talent into leadership seats in Fortune 500 companies, consulted growing organizations on how to attract the right candidate to fit their specific needs for a niche role, and have even successfully forged a partnership with a major university. Yet, I have grown accustomed to hesitant reactions and skeptical glances I receive in some moments when I interact face-to-face with other professionals.

At first, I was caught off-guard by the skepticism in my abilities because of my age that I was so often met with; however, I began to utilize the doubt, leveraging that into a platform to challenge myself. I decided that the simplicity of pure results was the best antidote. I readily and excitedly accept every difficult assignment that comes across my desk. I aim to tackle it with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm that I might not otherwise have if I didn’t feel I had something to prove. I look to go above and beyond to educate myself and gain additional experience in in the areas that I feel most green in and I actively seek out guidance from mentors that I respect and trust, acting as a sponge to learn everything that I possibly can from them.

It didn’t take me long to realize that being the underdog around the conference table was actually a blessing in disguise. It has forced me outside of my comfort zone on so many occasions, giving me the opportunity to pleasantly surprise myself and those I have worked with. It has been the catalyst for a level of performance that has reinforced my confidence in myself and has led to respect from those who might have not have given me a second thought otherwise. While I realize there will always be the nonbelievers, I have grown determined to actively combat the idea that you can’t be both young AND an expert in your field.

As both a woman and a member of the Gen-Y cohort, I am certain I have not seen my last uphill battle in corporate America. Nevertheless, I am confident that my outlook and my ability to harness that energy into something constructive will serve me well in future endeavors. The bottom line, I’ve realized, is this: there is absolutely a sense of credibility that accompanies tenure in a resume (which I am working toward every day) and while nothing can replace that type of experience, a relentless desire for success and an uncompromising work ethic can serve as a healthy supplement for it in the meantime. There’s no question that I have a lot to learn, but it doesn’t detract from what I have to offer today.

 

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About the Author: Kelsey Chalifoux is a Search Associate at Webber Kerr Associates, regionally in New York.  Before joining Webber Kerr, Kelsey worked in an RPO environment, focusing on the hiring and retention of outside sales representatives for a Fortune 500 organization. Currently, she is responsible for managing the end-to-end hiring process for high profile client positions and leadership additions including the industry sectors: Retail & Consumer Goods, Business Services, Hospitality and Oil & Energy.


What’s Stopping You? Overcoming Confidence Issues To Grow Your HR Business

Posted on March 11th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship. 2 comments

I work with HR business owners on a daily basis, and when it comes to confidence issues, there’s something that I notice time and time again. If an entrepreneur is struggling to realise their potential because of their doubt about their own abilities, then most of the time, they also happen to be women. The causes and background behind this are different ballgames altogether, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

 

I’m here instead to tell you what you can do if this applies to you in your own HR business. Because if you want to grow the business that you really deserve, and bring in the cash that you want, you need to overcome your confidence issues and really ramp things up to the next level. These are my tried and tested techniques for struggling entrepreneurs who need to raise their game.

 

Focus on your big vision

Some of us are natural born entrepreneurs, destined to take the reins and do our own things from the offset. For many more of us though, self-employment was something that kind of happened as a result of circumstances. So maybe you started your HR business after you got made redundant, or maybe you started a family and realised that you needed some extra flexibility, or perhaps you just reached the stage in the corporate world where enough was enough, and you needed to get out there and create your own future rather than someone else’s.

That’s fine, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve big success in your business, but it often does mean that you get your head down and soldier on, without ever stopping to think about what you REALLY want out of your business. Do you want to make 6 figures, 7 figures, or beyond? Do you want a better work-life balance? Whatever it is, you’ll only get there if you know what your big ambitions are, get them really clear in your mind, and set the intention that you’ll make it happen. The magic occurs when you’ve got an unwavering big vision, you recognise it, and you work out the steps that it’ll take to get you there.

Do whatever it takes to keep these big goals in mind and propel yourself forward. Create a vision board in your office, make a virtual board using Pinterest, commit your ambitions to paper, make sure that your family understands what it is that you’re working towards. Some of these things might seem a little ‘woo-woo’, especially for seasoned business professionals, but trust me – action in these areas helped me to make huge progress in my business.

 

Eliminate your blocks

Success and money are difficult subjects, and your attitude towards them has been formed over the course of your whole life. The things your parents taught you about work and spending, the very first job that you had, that time you were unfairly missed out of a promotion exercise – all of things build up to create your own views on your abilities as a business owner, and whether or not you consciously realise it, have a bearing on how you perform.

Are you undervaluing your services, and hugely over-delivering to clients who don’t value your work? Are you letting your prospects haggle you down, even though you know that you should be charging a premium for the type of expertise that you offer? All of things are indicators that your relationship with success and money needs some work.

Once you recognise and acknowledge these barriers that hold you back, it’s much easier to break them down. In my experience, men typically have a much less emotional relationship with money in their businesses than women do. If you want to overcome the issues that are holding you back, it’s vital that you take the time to unearth them, then work on creating a new personal belief system that creates success rather than stalling you.

 

Recognise your expertise – and market yourself as the expert

Take a second to think about your expertise as an HR professional. I dare bet that you’ve got masses of qualifications, real experience out there in the trenches, and you could provide masses of anecdotal evidence right off the top of your head about how you’ve transformed businesses with your skills. Regardless of what your confidence sometimes tell you, you know in your heart of hearts that you’re fabulous at what you do.

So why doesn’t the world know about it? When you effectively market your business, you carve out your own niche as the go-to HR professional for what it is that you offer. What happens next is two-pronged. Firstly, your business grows. When you’re the expert, you attract clients who are a great fit for you and truly value your skills. And, importantly, your confidence soars. Getting to grips with marketing is one of the best things you can ever do for your business – because after all, if clients aren’t banging down your door to work with you, you won’t have the successful business that you’ve been dreaming about.

Marketing might be out of the realms of your current skill set, and that’s why you need to take active steps to understanding what you need to do to make more cash and ramp things up a level. Read all you can, seek out a marketing coach that understands your industry, and most importantly, take action. Your business could be an entirely different entity by next year if you make positive steps in this area.

 

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About the Author:  Ruth Hinds is the founder of HR Consultants Marketing School, and helps HR business owners to make more money and attract clients who are a great fit. A former HR professional herself, she’s worked in senior HR management roles and has an MSc in HRM. For the past two years, she’s worked closely with HR business owners just like you to help them reach the next level. Check out her free guide to attracting all the right clients to your HR business. 


Top 10 Tips for Claiming the Corner Office

Posted on February 25th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Lois P. Frankel is the President of Corporate Coaching International , an executive coach, speaker, and best-selling author.  She has just released an updated and revised 10th anniversary edition of her book Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers.  In it she reveals a distinctive set of behaviors that women learn in girlhood that ultimately sabotage them as adults and discusses how to eliminate those behaviors.  Today, she has shared her Top 10 tips with us.  Some you may agree with, some you may not.  Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Top 10 Tips For Claiming the Corner Office

1.      Body Art: Don’t get a tattoo or an unusual body piercing if you’d had even one drink, toke, or snort.  You’ll be likely to regret it.  Similarly, don’t be goaded into getting one by your sorority sisters, girlfriends, or someone you’re dating who thinks they’re hot.

2.      Communication:  Resist the urge that screams incomplete when you don’t say everything that’s on your mind.  Women, fearing they haven’t explained well enough, can use about twice as many words per day than men (and then wonder why they’re not listened to).  We think when we talk more, we make a better case – when in fact the opposite is true.  This is a case where less is more.

3.      Inappropriate Use of Social Media:  Once you post something on the internet, getting it off is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.  You have no control over where it goes.  Play it safe.  Put nothing on the internet that could cause someone to doubt your values, your brand, or your reputation. 

4.      Giving Away Your Ideas:  Get in the habit of asking a question after expressing an idea or making a proposal.  Something like, “Are there any objections to immediately getting to work on this?” is ideal.  This increases the likelihood of acknowledgement and discussion.

 5.      Feeding Others:  Unless your name is Betty Crocker, don’t bring food to work or have it sitting on your desk.  It softens the impression others have of you.  Of course if it needs softening because you’re a tough broad, it could be a good strategy!

 6.      Skipping Meetings:  If you think meetings are just a big waste of time, think again.  They’re called “meet-ings” not “work-ings.”  Even when a meeting seems unproductive, it provides you with the opportunity to market you brand, get information, and be on the radar screens of those who making decisions about your career.

 7.      Being a Doormat:  Pablo Picasso said, “There are only two types of women – goddesses and doormats.”  Avoid being the latter by learning to manage expectations about what you can and can’t realistically do (take a negotiations class if you have to), asking for what you want or need rather than waiting to be given it, and trusting your instincts.  If you think you’re being taken advantage of or abused, you likely are.

 8.      Protecting Jerks:  Women are like jerk flypaper.  Not only do we attract them more than men do, we tolerate them longer than we should.   Consciously distance yourself from jerks (and jerks can be men or women) so that you’re not found guilty by association, when you get blamed for the actions of a jerk re-direct the blame to where it belongs, and when the jerk is your boss it’s time to look for another job.  You won’t change a jerk, so protect yourself.

 9.      Making Miracles:  Miracle workers get canonized not recognized.  In every organization there’s a baseline for hard work that everyone is expected to toe.  If you consistently work beyond the baseline you’ll be seen as a worker-bee and just be given more work to do.  Learn to not only do your job well, but also be strategic in how it gets done so that you’re seen as more than just a worker-bee.  Use all the extra “free” time on your hands to build relationships that will serve you throughout your career.

 10.  Branding: We are all brands in the workplace.  It’s what distinguishes you from everyone else.  Write down 3 – 5 words you want people to use to describe you.  Then identify the behaviors in which you must engage for others to actually see those traits.  When you act in concert with your brand, people will come to trust you.

 

 


How Dorothy Got Her Groove Back

Posted on February 18th, by Dorothy Douglass in On My Mind. 2 comments

2013 was NOT a good year for me.  In my head, that is.  Mentally, I felt burned out, disconnected, wondering if I needed to make a  professional change, and at times,  I felt frustrated in my HR role.  Twelve years (now starting year 13) is a “record” for me in any position.

In prior careers, I got bored, frustrated, fed up, or felt thwarted with career growth, and moved on.  Sometimes graciously, sometimes, not so much.  Hopefully I’ve learned from each of those other roles, and grown wiser as well as older.  Now having been in HR for more than 17 years has given me so much ability to look back over my own career and learn life lessons. I spent a LOT of time ‘inside’ my own head in 2013, struggling with potentially life-changing and career-changing decisions last year.

I feel like I’m back in the groove in 2014, and I feel more connected to the organization and more engaged in my job.  I cannot put my finger on exactly why or when that happened, but here are a few thoughts, perhaps ‘tips’ for others,  on my challenges from last year.

  • Don’t let your (bad, poor) attitude bleed over to your direct reports.  This is possibly the hardest thing of all for me.  I am pretty transparent in what I share with my team, and in my body language.  I’m not sure I fooled them, but they were gracious enough, gave me space, time, and the ability to work through my own head.  Which leads me to,
  • Put a great work team in place.  Select the smartest, most talented people you can, teach them what you want and need them to know, then set them free to chart their professional course.  Sometimes that will mean you need to let go, delegate more, or trust in their decisions.  Do this.  As early as possible after you become a manager.  This is critical to success, and most of all, it is my work team that kept moving forward , kept getting things done and getting results in HR, that helped ‘mask’ my bad year.  In short, they made me look good.  Even when I mentally was not very good.
  • Have other activities to keep you going.  2013 was the year I took on physical challenges to get myself out of part of my funk.  I began to strength train 2-3 times per week.  I also found a ‘safety zone’ in my family at home, where I knew I would go at the end of every day.
  • Talk about your challenges with someone.  Whether professionally with a life coach, or with a good friend.  In my case, as in many HR professionals’ worlds, I cannot share specifics of work challenges, but I do have close friends with whom I could share my general malaise.  They listened.  Encouraged.  Let me know I was indeed human.  And though I’m not generally a hugger, they gave me hugs – mentally, physically.  Often, when I needed them most.
  • Take time off.  We have a generous paid time off policy where I work – another perk one has to think of, when considering change.  I used my time.  Sometimes one day at a time.  And I planned for two weeks off at year-end.  In a very warm climate.  With my family.  I had this to look forward to as I plugged through my 2013.
  • Before you leap, step back and look around.  I was likely pretty transparent to many around me.  I had many colleagues stop by to check on me last year.  Just to “see how I was doing.”  Obviously, I must have been transparent with how I was feeling.  Looking back and reflecting, I have it pretty good where I am.   I have great colleagues, the very best team I could ask for, a great job with great benefits and perks, and even a really good boss.
  • Share, in a professional way, your career desires or work frustrations, with your boss.   Sometimes, it’s just having a secure outlet to share work frustrations that helps.  Sometimes, getting another’s perspective from their seat allows for attitude adjustment to happen.  I had a good discussion with my boss during performance review time.  I let him know that I sometimes need him to spend just a little of his valuable time with me.  That time alone, is very engaging for me.  I appreciate the confidence he has placed in me, his trust of me, and the value he places on HR in the organization.

I’m engaged in my work right now, and aiming for a great 2014.  What turned it around?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps it was the two weeks off I took near year end, and the full week I spent lounging in Key West with my family.  Perhaps it was inward reflection on what a great place I indeed work – and all the perks and benefits I have here.  Perhaps it was my friends. Perhaps it was the great HR team who figuratively carried me through 2013, when I couldn’t walk myself.   Maybe it was all of those things.  I think I have my groove back.  Let’s go!!

 

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 About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.


Get A Degree To Make It Official

Posted on February 4th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

It doesn’t take many years in the work force to begin acquiring meaningful experience that will serve you well in the future. In fact, you may be in the position you currently hold more for what experience has taught you than for what a classroom has taught you.

The positive outcomes you’ve achieved thanks to your lessons at Hard Knocks U reinforce your belief that success in a field doesn’t require formal education in it.

But…

You’ve probably noticed a gap or two. There have likely been moments when you thought, “I’ve not dealt with this before.”

And that is the greatest value in formal education, especially at the graduate level.

There’s no doubt that you have extensive knowledge in the areas in which you’ve worked. But it’s unlikely that you’ve had the breadth of experience it would take to substitute fully for a formal degree. As a result, a degree won’t just remind you of what you already know. It will help fill in some gaps where life’s road hasn’t taken you yet. And while many opportunities exist to enhance your leadership skills, a degree provides greater promise for your future.

That sounds good, you may think, but I don’t have time to go back to school.

Well, consider this: the time investment needed to complete a master’s degree isn’t what it used to be. Many accelerated online degree programs allow you to continue a full workload while you knock out the classes necessary to improve your performance and your future.

Here are two other reasons why a degree can benefit you, even if you don’t think you can learn that much.

It’s Official

A few months on the job with you will tell a new supervisor that you know your stuff. But when you arrive at an interview, even a very powerful resume won’t carry the weight that a degree does. It’s not that anyone undervalues your experience, since they likely reached their own positions the same way.

But a degree provides a credible endorsement of what you’ve learned, and it’s one that others can quickly identify.

It’s Universal

You might have ten years of experience at your company before applying at one of their competitors. During that time, you’ve racked up valuable experience. But maybe your potential new employer doesn’t subscribe to the business philosophies of your old employer. Maybe they’re concerned that you may be tainted goods.

By achieving a degree, you hold proof that you’ve been exposed to a broad base of knowledge, regardless of what you’ve previously been required to do.

And let’s step away from business-to-business relations for a moment.

Do your clients know what it means that you led a project management team that oversaw a robust renovation of IT systems? Probably not. Do they know what an MBA is? More than likely.

And again, a degree distills all your valuable learning down to a simple sentence: I hold an MBA degree. The result is credibility for your firm and the ability to draw in clients.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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About the Author:  Sam Peters is an avid blogger and career whiz.  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.