What does the word “technology” do to your blood pressure when you hear it? How about “digital space?” “Social media?”
Your answer may be different depending on a few things:
- Your age;
- Your geography;
- Your career choice; and possibly,
- Any expectations you’ve been given for using (or not using) technology.
For the record, I’m 53. I’m an HR professional – I am in banking, now for 13+ years, healthcare for 5 years prior, and in small business for 7+ years, with an even earlier working stint in the public welfare sector. I remember when the fax machine came out – I was ecstatic over the ability to move information faster, but had to wait until some of our vendors and clients “caught up” and caught on to the efficiency. I remember when I refused to use a computer mouse – I told my husband, “why should I, when I have all the function buttons memorized?” Remember F1, F2, F3?
I remember calling my husband (he was so tech-savvy back then!) from work so he could teach me this thing called ‘mail merge.’ Once I had a staff of 35 employees, I wasn’t going to type and retype names & addresses in my quarterly employee newsletter. And finally, did anyone delete all those requests back around the years 2002 – 2005 to “connect with your colleague Joe Schmoe” on something called LinkedIn? Yes. I did. I deleted them.
I live in the conservative Midwest, and in a smaller community. Hence, our population in general may be behind in the learning curve and usage of social media. My age group is, too – I’m often frustrated because I seem to still have close friends (who live thousands of miles away) who refuse to use social media. Any of it. I occasionally get a phone call, “did you know that Susie is fighting thyroid disease? No one told me, I’m so upset.” And actually, Susie posted the information herself on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere in the digital world. Ce la vie.
At a recent round table of HR banking professionals in my home state, we gathered to discuss HR topics. One of our frustrations was our trade association’s change of communication from a list-serv email to their website. To ask questions and share dilemmas with colleagues, we need to now learn something new. And different. And that is hard – for everyone. We HR professionals had to take a (difficult) look in the mirror and do what we often coach others to do – get with the program, learn new technology, adapt to change. Tough one.
I have to say, even for an “oldster,” I was surprised to hear that some of my HR colleagues still use paper applications when recruiting, aren’t engaged in the digital space, and aren’t on LinkedIn. I believe I also heard some of our collegial competitors still discourage internet usage and social media usage in the workplace. For me, I found that sad – even freely stating that I was NOT an early adopter, and I am still fairly tech-UNsavvy.
I contend that for HR to earn that proverbial seat at the executive level table (aka the C-suite), HR professionals need to be disruptors. Using social technologies can be disruptive and when learned and used in a positive way, a change agent. We need to question the status quo, make some decisions then ask for forgiveness, and we need to step up and lead. Human Resources has been administrative – almost forever, right? The “Personnel” departments of old were there to support operations, process paperwork, deliver payroll, file employee records, administer benefit programs, and write policies.
We still serve some of those administrative needs, but HR can be so much more to the organization. We need to ask the question “Why?” Why are we doing it this way, why aren’t we adapting new technologies, why don’t we invest in an HRIS? From my small corner of the world, we can help drive cultural shifts and mentalities, albeit slowly, and often with much assistance from other business drivers. Some of that comes from learning to use technology – it’s not going away.
Here are some ideas for HR professionals to consider:
- Have an open mind to change. Most of us no longer hand out cash on pay day, and many of us no longer hand out paper paychecks either. We have electronic means of delivering pay, so why wouldn’t we want to move along that continuum with everything HR does? From recruiting to performance management, HR is getting electronically delivered out there in many places – more efficiently, and often more effectively.
- Get social. Take a look, in your off-time, at the social spaces out there. LinkedIn is NOT just a tool people use for a job search. Not anymore. Ease into social media, one place at a time. It can be overwhelming. Join Facebook and just look around for a while. You don’t have to post. Same with LinkedIn – see what other HR professionals are doing in the social space. There are a ton of HR blogs out there, many are fabulous to read, and provide good tips. Seek out one you like and follow them for a bit to get a feel.
To move the Human Resources profession up, each of us has a responsibility to be continuous learners, and mostly, to learn to live in the digital spaces. Good luck! You can do this!
[One of these days, I might even get that blog started…. Yes, change happens slowly.]
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.
As many companies and individuals face possible obsolescence or at a minimum becoming stale in their service offerings, their approach to their market, or perhaps in their own passions for how they are contributing, the concept of ‘reinvention’ is becoming more and more prevalent. Though this concept is certainly not new, this term has become a mainstay in our present vocabulary. Blame it on the Baby Boomers, who are seeking career longevity amidst the onslaught of the millennials and the ‘Gen X and Y’ populations. Regardless of the catalyst, reframing ourselves and our offerings – or perhaps just reframing the way we look at our companies and our own personal careers, has always been the key to survival.
Over the years, I have watched many mediocre business professionals carve out very successful careers by their ability to parlay their approach into attractive and ultimately lucrative options. No, these individuals are not the smartest nor the most successful in their prior roles, yet they honed the knack of marketing themselves. They have mastered the ability to show (and in most cases virtually create from nothing) a multi-faceted face – both in ‘real life’ and via social media – which puts forth the image they wish to create. Today’s social media enables these ambitious ones to paint the picture they wish to paint, associate with those they wish to align themselves online (primarily for the purpose of self-promotion), and to show only the sides they wish to show. It is a fascinating phenomenon. Of course, as my father has always taught me: “If you see it, everyone else probably sees it, too”. Thus, these social media mirages are indeed, just that. So, if one does want to ‘change the frame’ on their careers – and do so authentically and anchored in reality versus ‘social media hype’ – how does a person get started? If a person wants to ‘reinvent’ their focus areas for contribution, or perhaps even their lives – how do they this?!
As mentioned before, it is not luck (in which I am personally not a believer) or plain smarts or even hard work that most commonly leads to uber success (success, by the way, as defined by the individual). Ultimately I believe it is our intentions fed by our energy – consistently and genuinely – which will lead to our success. So, what are a few initial steps we can take to harness our intentions and ‘change our frame’ as we build our ‘second or third acts’?
1. Know where you are today AND determine where you want to go NEXT.
While working with Dr. Noel Tichy over the past few decades in our transformational leadership work, we utilize a process which undoubtedly is one of the most impactful exercises for organizations to experience. It is the process of discerning ‘Our current state’ (facing the harsh reality of where we find ourselves today) and then, defining and projecting ‘Our desired state’, which is where we ultimately want to go. We can use this process for individuals just as we do for companies and organizations. The objective is to look in the mirror and determine – are we doing what we REALLY want to do? Are we good at what we are doing? Are we aligned as individuals, or if we are part of a team – is the team aligned around where we want to go? If not – that is the first awakening. We must determine where we are AND where we want to go.
One last and critical note on this – the ‘where I want to go’ does not have to be the FINAL destination. So many times, we think and think AND think…..which leads to ‘analysis paralyses’!! Nothing in this world is permanent; so your next step will probably not be your ‘last step’. Make the move. Forward momentum is how we determine if the direction is the ultimate ‘right’ direction!
2. Parlay your Gifts into the Market
This can be a tough step. Just because you love what you do AND you are good at it does NOT mean that anyone will want to buy it! What NEED are you filling? What is it that YOU offer that makes you different? Who are your potential clients….or hiring audiences? Learning how to take what we ‘do’ and apply it to a void in the market is a critical success factor. AND, remember, what folks wanted to buy 5 years ago is not what they will want to buy today….unless it has been modified for the market.
3. Creativity coupled with Agility is Key
We have to hone the ability to ‘think outside and inside the box’. It is hard to do this in solitary confinement! So – we need to build our posse of partners to help us. Retired executives, leadership coaches, prior professors, supportive customers, and even competitive business colleagues. Each will have a perspective or insights to offer. We have to be willing to ask for help – and to hear the brutal, honest truth. Does the market value what I bring? Is my approach outdated? Do my clients want more – or different – services from me? What do I NOT know – that I need to know – to truly thrive and survive in the market today? We have to be open to the answers….as hearing them and then ignoring them – does nothing! We need to hear (and listen) to the market and then be creative and AGILE in how we meet them where they are.
4. Build a game plan and be FOCUSED.
Every business has a game plan (and if they don’t – they will not be around for long!). Every one of us, for our careers, needs a game plan, too. Sure – it will change – yet, to not have any sense of where we want to go and HOW we are going to get there – results in mere folly. We need to lay out specific steps on how we are going to accomplish specific goals. Too many times, we become insular in our focus – meaning that we focus on stuff that will not REALLY move the dial. We need to determine where we want to go, what we want to contribute and THEN determine how we are going to get there. Then, become ruthlessly focused on these steps…..the other stuff is just noise.
5. Hang tight.
This is easy to say; yet, this is where the weak are separated from the strong. We have to exercise our muscles so that we do not give up too easily. As any company, organization, or individual introduces new approaches, new products and services, or a ‘new face’ to their markets and constituents – immediate acceptance and ‘manna from Heaven’ is not guaranteed.
There is always going to be a phase of education to the market; then a phase of ‘differentiation and selling’ and then – if we are diligent – we will secure our first proving ground. This may be a new job in our new field or a new customer for our new service offering or a product extension in an existing market. Yet, what I know for sure is that it will probably NOT come about instantly AND it will not happen without sweat equity. Yet, when we do ‘win’, our expended effort just makes our success that much sweeter.
My final thoughts are: we need to stop comparing this new chapter with the old chapter – good or bad. There is no comparison, thankfully. We (and the organizations for which we work) are a compilation of all our experiences, and this new chapter will be a completely new life in many ways. That concept can be quite liberating when we allow ourselves to embrace it. We need to simply embrace progress not perfection. Keep the forward momentum. Stay open. Be receptive to even what may appear to be an opportunity which is out of your wheel house. If you are attracted to it, explore what about the role turns you on. There is a reason – of this I am certain. Our intuition and inner voice does not lie. Ever. So listen to it. AND remember that nothing is permanent.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Several years ago I did a post on this site called Love, Marriage, and SEO. In it I talked about how through marriage I had lucked into a great new name because I was, and still continue to be, the only Shauna Moerke on the internet. That’s awesome SEO (Search Engine Optimization) right there. I was so confident that I would never change my name again. Ah, to be so young and so naive.
Flash forward a few years and with a divorce and a new marriage under my belt and I found myself with a conundrum. As I mentioned in that previous post, all my time in social media and even my professional HR career I was Shauna Moerke. Now I could keep Moerke as my last name. That was always an option and honestly, it was the easiest choice. And that may have been what I would chose to do if it had been my maiden name. Now, call me superstitious or sentimental, but I did not like entering into a new marriage and keeping my name from a previous marriage. So once again, I find myself running the name change gauntlet as I try to figure out what to do now.
Professionally, the effect can be rather minimal if you are prepared. Make sure you start reaching out to your professional contacts, starting with your references first, to let them know of your new name. This also has the added bonus of getting you to check in on how your network is doing, which is something we should all be doing on a regular basis but often forget to. And as you start changing your name in all the important areas (Driver’s license, passport, social security, voter registration, etc) take the time to update your resume and order personal cards (as opposed to business cards, though you will need those too) with your new name that you can start handing out. It is much easier for others to get in touch with you if they don’t have to figure out how your new name is spelled.
Social media, well, that is a harder problem. I have a lot invested in the name Moerke. Not only is my blog’s name officially “Shauna Moerke is…“, even if I still refer to it as HR Minion, but my whole social media identity is linked to it. So for my social media piece, I decided on a compromise. My blog’s name hasn’t changed. My name on this site and on twitter hasn’t changed. On Facebook and LinkedIn I have Moerke as my former name right next to my new last name and I haven’t changed the link addresses on either. If you found me before as Shauna Moerke, you can find me still. But now you can also find me as Shauna Griffis too.
Oh, did I happen to mention that my new last name is also pretty awesome? It turns out that I am the only Shauna Griffis on the internet, a fact that my new husband was very quick to point out to me long before we made anything official. Gotta love a man with a great name and a head for how this social media game is played.
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.
You’re an HR professional and you’ve decided it’s time to change jobs. Maybe it’s something happening within your company causing you to switch, or maybe it’s something inside of you telling you it’s time. Either way, this is one time where things should be easy, right? After all, you’re a professional in Human Resources! Finally, a chance to use all of your knowledge and ‘insider information’ to position yourself competitively and go for what you want.
It’s not so easy.
Expectations are raised in an HR job search. Most of this comes from the pressure you put upon yourself. “I should know what I’m doing.” “My resume and cover letter better be 100% perfect and error-free.” “I interview people all day long, how hard can it be to turn the tables?”
Yet many of us in HR have put our own career development at the bottom of our massive to-do list. Our resume is not only imperfect, it may be completely out of date or merely an exhaustive list of our job duties, rather than a presentation of our accomplishments. We may use LinkedIn to find candidates…that doesn’t mean we’ve put any time or attention into our own profiles. And interviewing? We began to think of all the times we’ve nit-picked and criticized candidates for not being prepared enough, or spouting rehearsed answers that didn’t really answer our questions.
On the other side, expectations of professionalism from potential employers run high as well, and with good reason. If an employer asks for a cover letter and resume in the format they request, you’d better be giving them both – and don’t even think about using a canned cover letter.
Loyalty is another issue many struggle with. When you spend all day touting the benefits of working for your company, and comparing how good your company is to the competitors, it’s hard to imagine going to work for a competitor! Many employees feel loyal to their employer, but it seems especially hard for HR people to imagine leaving for a similar job in the same industry. And how many times have we discarded candidates for being “job-hoppers”? That’s the last thing we want for ourselves. So 3 years turns into 5, and then 7, and finally 10 and before you know it, you can’t imagine leaving, even if you’ve completely stopped growing or learning in your position.
Confidentiality is another challenge HR professionals face in a job search. Many of us have counseled employees against using our employers equipment and/or time to conduct a job search, but let’s face it: many activities related to job searching take place during the day when you are working at your current employer. Sure , you can fill in online applications or do email at home at night, but interviews often work best for employers when they can take place during the day, and suddenly you may find yourself needing to be out of the office on numerous occasions, without wanting to share the reason.
Many of these challenges are related to applying for a posted job, which we know is not the best way to land a new position. Time spent networking and building relationships is the most productive and often leads to your next position in HR. Still, many HR folks let some of these challenges stop them from even contemplating a change.
What unique challenges did you face when searching for your HR job?
About the Author: For 15+ years, Andrea Ballard, SPHR, has brought a unique, common sense perspective to the business of HR. A former HR Director and Training Manager, she advises companies on how to design/implement flexible work life programs to attract/retain top talent. A certified coach, she helps women create a balance between motherhood & career. She is the owner of Expecting Change, LLC, blogs at Working Mother and is on Twitter as @andreaballard.
The Wikipedia describes a Trailing Spouse as “a person who follows his or her life partner to another city because of a work assignment.”
It goes further to explain that the life of The Trailing Spouse is fraught with many challenges that may impact on their personal and professional lives. Challenges such as:
Barriers to mobility
Loss of identity
These are all very real and pertinent issues that Trailing Spouses face as their new reality and I can identify to some degree with some of them. However, I have often wondered at the adjective “Trailing”. I feel a certain degree of discomfort referring to an individual or a spouse as “Trailing.”
Synonyms for trailing include: rambling, lagging, tailing, dragging….all less than savory adjectives for the word spouse. In my mind’s eye, “trailing” paints a picture of forced followership, reluctant relocation.
It reminds me of little people on a leash, compelled to follow their care givers whether they would like to or not.
It signifies to me a lack of choice or say in the matter and I do not think it adequately describes or does justice to the spouses who have boldly taken up the challenge to leave the comfort and security of the familiar and move to a new location, experience new cultures, and thrive in their new environment, all the while supporting their spouses and oftentimes children in order to make for a smooth transition to their new way of life. That to me looks a lot more like Trail Blazing and not just “Trailing”.
Moving to a new location with no security of a ready source of income can be a stressful time, and a time of uncertainty… but it can also be an exciting time, an opportunity to use this block of time and do that which you might otherwise not have done. The possibilities are endless.
This is a call for spouses who have chosen to accompany their partners to pursue their careers abroad to have greater expectations for their expatriate experience. As you plan your upcoming move, there are 4 tips that might help make the transition a little bit easier. Please feel free to add more in the comments below.
Plan: It’s advisable to have a plan before you leave your home country of what personal goals that you would like to achieve during your time in your new location. You are not on exile so you are allowed to have fun with the whole expatriation process. It could be to learn a new language, look for a job within your field of expertise (or even in another field of expertise), further your education, write a book or start a blog, or even take a leave of absence to spend more time with your family. As I mentioned earlier,The possibilities are endless.
Position yourself: If you would like to work in your new location, start your job search as early as you can. Look for opportunities within your network, take a class, learn the local language, do some research, and get informed. Do whatever is necessary to get you one step closer to your goal.
Persist: maintain a positive outlook, don’t give up easily…even when things seem to be happening not as fast as you envisaged. Also stay open to change and be flexible to opportunities that at first glance may not seem to align with your core competencies.
Pay it forward: Help someone else succeed. Offer the support you wish you got. Share your experiences and your new knowledge with others who need your expertise.
The key is to exploit the situation that you find yourself in and use it to enrich your life’s story. Moving to a new country with all the excitement is a great time to reinvent yourself because no one has any preconceived notions about you. This means you have a chance to start afresh and try to be that which you always wished.
Who knows what you would have achieved at the end of your expatriation in terms of self development, new knowledge of different cultures, and new relationships built that you would otherwise not have been exposed to.
Besides, why be a trailing spouse when you could be a Blazing Spouse or better yet a Trail Blazer?
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.
While the thought of trading in the rat race of an office building or major corporation, and working from home, may sound highly appealing, the reality is, this transition is often more challenging than most people believe. When you’ve gotten used to the all-work structure of an office, coming home and working in the midst of your kids and home life can be like a splash of cold water. How do you manage your family life, without sacrificing work ethic or the deadlines that don’t slow down?
I know from personal experience that working from home is no walk in the park. Whether it’s kids pulling on my arm, ready for a snack, or my husband calling from his office, asking me to pick up the dry-cleaning, remaining task oriented has been something I’ve had to learn as I go. Although I know there are times when I need to remain flexible and allow for interruptions, for the most part, my work must remain a priority.
If you’re transitioning from office to home and are worried your work might suffer, the key is balance. Without it, you’ll feel as if you’re juggling ten glass plates all on your own. The following tips have proven helpful in my own work journey and I’m able to keep my family life in order while maintaining my profession.
Dedicate a space to work.
There is a reason why office buildings and cubicles exist – they are dedicated spaces where people complete work-related tasks. If one of the reasons you’re considering working from home is to escape the cubicle, trust me – I’ve been there. Although I’m not suggesting replicating a cubicle in your home, I am saying that a dedicated work space in your home is absolutely essential to success.
If you have a room you can turn into your office, do so. If not, dedicate a corner of a quiet space to your office. The kitchen table or the living room couch is probably not the best space to spread your stuff out. Papers are easily lost or spilled on and the distractions are numerous. For me, going out and buying a room partitioner when I first started saved me from hours of insanity and distraction.
Have all the essentials in place.
The great part of working at an office is that everything you need is right there. A printer? No problem. Fax machine? Your corporation probably has several. When you transition home, however, you may need to go out and buy these essentials. Do this right away, so there’s no scrambling at the last minute when an important deadline comes around.
I like having everything in my workspace. That means the printer is right where I can reach it, and my fax machine is just steps away. Even though other members of my family make use of these items every so often, they still remain in my office, regardless of who needs to use them. Whatever your tools are – keep them where you work.
If your office is a mess of supplies and papers, then set aside some time to get it in pristine condition. Purchase supplies and containers to keep your things attractively organized. Knowing where everything is helps me keep my cool and manage my work more effectively.
Organization is essential.
If you’re a naturally organized person, this tip is like second-nature for you already. However, I know that I need every other tool out there to keep myself on track. When you’re managing work deadlines at the same time as soccer practice and doctor appointments, a planner will become your go-to.
Purchase a large calendar and write out all your tasks for the month. Try to do this at the beginning of every month, for as far out as you can plan. When dates are nailed down far in advance, you know what’s coming up and therefore, what you can say yes, and no, to. I’ve found that a daily planner is helpful, as well. Being able to create and check-off items from a daily to-do list makes me feel more accomplished and in control of my day.
Set your hours.
Working from 9-5 certainly has its drawbacks, but truthfully, the structure of a workday is often what keeps people successful. The same applies when working from home. Not having a set work time really throws a wrench in your success, something I learned the hard way.
I find it’s best to plan your work day around your family, especially if you have kids. When your kids are off to school for the day, settle down in your office and get to work. If you work steadily through the school day, that’s a good chunk of time spent on work-related tasks. As important as it is to start when you say you will, it’s equally important to finish on time, too. My kids find it frustrating when I say I’ll be finished by four, and I’m still pounding on the keyboard come 5 o’clock. Stick to your hours. You’ll have a happier family because of it.
Make it clear you’re working.
Just because you are home doesn’t mean that you are free. Although one of the hardest things to learn about working from home, it is also one of the most essential. When I began working from home, friends felt free to call and talk for hours, and I often let myself get caught in this trap. However, your friends, and your family, need to understand that work must get done even though it’s getting done from home. Let your loved ones know that you have a job that needs to get done, and you’d love to socialize, but after work. Difficult? Yes. But necessary? Absolutely.
At this point, you may be wondering if working from home is really worth it. Let me tell you from personal experience – yes. While it does require a high amount of discipline and time to learn how to manage the balancing act, in the end, you’ll find much more joy in your work and in your family. Begin setting boundaries early, and working from home will become a breeze.
About the Author: Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer in Southern California. As a mom who works at home, she knows how challenging it is to keep a balance and distinction between family and work. These tips have been some of the most helpful when transitioning to working at home, and she enjoys helping other women find success in their work ventures.
Recently, my son transitioned to a different middle school than the one he had been attending since kindergarten and originally intended to graduate. This transition got me thinking when it came time for me to write for Women in HR. One can truly correlate the selection of a school to attend to accepting and starting a new job. Overall, it’s a personal choice and the final decision not only has to be the student or jobseeker, but it has to fit with their overall plan in life.
Now you may think “isn’t middle school a bit too young to be thinking about how a school decision fits into your overall plan?” Not really, I personally think kids are “groomed”, hopefully by their own choice and not their parents living their own goals through them, very early in life for things like sports, music, dance and more. Where I live, it seems like the high school all-stars start their journey before they can even tie their shoes. I’ve seen young baseball, soccer and football camps for kids who barely enter elementary school. They wear the gear but they are so tiny it looks like they are going to fall over. So if the focus on team sports can start so early then why can’t kids start making choices from an academic standpoint that affect their career? I have always heard that you can trace your career choice back to what you did on the playground. Me? I used to sing on the porch in front of my audience from the neighborhood. While my dreams of a singing career did not come true, I do have an audience now and again as a teacher, trainer, and speaker in the HR community. So I guess at least from my experience what I hear is true, to an extent, of course.
Now let’s get back to the school choice and its relationship to jobs. Once my son decided to change schools, which he had been contemplating for almost a year, we decided to set up a “shadow” day at two of the schools he had in mind. In addition to hanging out with a fellow student all day to observe, he had to meet with the principal of each school, for which I joined him to listen and ask my own questions. As a parent, I was very impressed at my son’s questions and his maturity while in these meetings. He asked questions I had not even thought of, like: 1) what type of math and English program the school uses to teach the students; and 2) what specific extra-curricular activities did they have related to his personal interests.
One of the things his former school had that neither of the new choices had was Robotics, which was very important to him since he plans at this point to have a career in engineering, technology, or both. However, he justified his decision to continue to pursue his move because the school he did finally decide on had an advanced math course and was willing to start a Robotics club as soon as possible. While starting the club would not allow him to immediately join a Robotics team, allowing him to compete like he did the previous year, it was not a game changer. He told me that since he would now be able to take high school math in 8th grade that would give him a jump start on his high school math credits. That decision will allow him to take college level math while still in high school. Did I mention he is 12 years old and he is telling me all of this? The reason it is so important to him is because he has plans to go to a specific college one day (MIT) that will help him get into the career of his dreams.
Employees (typically disgruntled or disengaged employees) are constantly looking for a new job or opportunity, especially when the job they are in doesn’t satisfy their needs or holds them back from moving closer to the dream job they would like to have. Recently, on Drive Thru HR I heard Jennifer Miller refer to people finding a job that deserves them. How fitting of a philosophy that jobs don’t find people, people find jobs. I remember getting out of the financial services field to move into manufacturing so I could round out my resume to experience the old white collar and blue collar workforce. Someone had told me that my HR advice probably didn’t work in the blue collar world because I had only worked with people in offices. I was not about to have that perception limit my future opportunities so I took care of it by getting the job I needed to work in the blue collar workplace.
Planning at any age, in school or in the world of work, can definitely help to shape your career.
Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @DonnaRogersHR. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.
During a recent career coaching session with a client, I realized that much of the advice that he had been given was, in my humble opinion, not so very good. In fact, the advice was desperately bad.
For instance, my client said that a friend told him that he should not wear a suit to an interview because it would make him look desperate. The word desperate came up a few more times. The same friend told my client that you should never admit that you have been laid off from your job, even if is true, because that would make you seem desperate. And last, my client asked if reaching out to prospective employers, without seeing a job posting, would make him look desperate.
My advice about the suit. If you own a good suit, wear it to an interview. Dress up. Polish your shoes. Trim your facial hair. Be clean and neat. You want to make a good impression. Dressing well helps make desperately good first impressions.
My advice about admitting that you were laid off from your job. Tell the truth. There is no shame in having been laid off. The vast majority of Americans know at least one person (a friend, relative, neighbor) whose job has been eliminated. Explain that your job was eliminated, stay positive about your former employer, and move on to explaining why you are interested in their job opening. Doing so will make you seem desperately honest and focused.
And last, my advice about reaching out to prospective employers. Do it! It shows initiative and drive not desperation, in my book.
I am curious. Do you agree or disagree with my advice? And what crazy career advice have you heard and disagreed with?
About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.
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