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Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 3, 2016 in Career Path
, Lessons Learned
When a company uses an unlimited leave plan to attract people, what’s really going on behind the scenes is a culture that drives the highest performers higher and enables lower performers to fall by the wayside into a professional quagmire.
Webster’s dictionary defines quagmire as: “an area of soft, wet ground: a situation that is hard to deal with or get out of: a situation that is full of problems.”
Companies who have this policy are generally known as high performing companies. Top spots are competitive and expectations are high. Work assignments are distributed to those employees who have proven themselves as reliable, dependable and willing to put in the extra time necessary to get a job done on time and within budget. High performing professionals do an excellent job of prioritizing work and combining that with balancing their personal lives, vacations and family commitments.
Lower performers choose personal life over work, and work to live, not live to work within a balanced framework. Employees who are seemingly unavailable are often passed over for both prime assignments and promotions which often leads to them being laid off or let go for circumstances that are actually easy to avoid.
Having a clear and complete understanding of what the employer’s expectations around deliverables is the number one contributing factor to an employee’s success and to prevent themselves falling into a performance quagmire they most likely cannot emerge from.
Use your performance review process to clearly identify and establish what both meeting and exceeding expectations looks like with your supervisor. Use common language and have both qualitative and quantitative goals that both parties agree to in writing. Avoid using generalizing terms like always or regularly and replace them with terms like daily weekly or monthly which are clearer for both parties.
Should your supervisor change, having these in writing to discuss with your next supervisor will ensure a smooth transition and allow as a starting point for discussions around their expectations as your new boss.
Remember, there is no free lunch, and unlimited leave does, in fact, have limits. Meeting expectations is good, but exceeding them is great.
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 30, 2016 in Building Confidence
, Career Path
, Job Search
As a recent graduate starting out in your career, or a seasoned professional looking to make the next move, the most influential person you will interact with in your new position will be your boss. The majority of our waking interactions during the week are going to be at work with our boss. That is a lot of time to spend with one person. A boss has the opportunity to make you feel completely inadequate to the point of wanting to reevaluate your career path OR so empowered and encouraged that you can move mountains with a click of a mouse. Much like choosing a major in college, where often times we end up picking our academic career based on one teacher who changed our perspective, the decision to continue on a career path can be dependent on the bosses you encounter.
A good boss doesn’t just want you to fill a gap or need within an organization. They want you to grow into an employee that is able to do much more than a job description requires. They want you to move towards the tasks that are in line with your interests so that they can see the passion your eyes. They want to challenge you to exceed expectations and go out of your comfort zone so that you are prepared for the position that comes next. A good boss wants to hear your ideas and welcome new perspectives outside of their own while trusting you to accomplish your work unsupervised and without micromanagement.
When faced with a job offer, always make sure you really know who it is you will be reporting to. It may seem like an obvious thing to do but depending on the role, you sometimes only have the opportunity to interview with the head of the department or other members of a team, for example. You want to make sure that before you accept a job, you are able to at least meet your manager face to face. If possible, try to see if there would be an opportunity to shadow a team member in a similar role to you. That way, you are able to see not only how the team interacts with each other but also with the boss. It is important to know your work personality to identify which management style aligns with your needs. There are some people who enjoy the structure of clear guidelines while others prefer flexibility to stay creative. Young professionals believe earlier in their careers that a boss is just someone you will be working FOR to pay rent, but really, it is someone you will be working WITH, day in and day out.
At the end of the day, people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 16, 2016 in Job Search
, Lessons Learned
Employers who advertise a drug free work place will likely have drug testing in place as a condition of hire. With the legalization of marijuana in several states, this has caused some confusion for job seekers.
There are many kinds of drug tests that are administered for pre-employment checks. The drug test form will ask for all the medications you are taking so have a full list with the proper dosage information handy. If you have a prescription, you need to list it on the form. This should be done for ANY medication you take regularly or frequently. If it is prescribed, and it turns up in your test, your employer will consult their personnel policies when determining whether or not they will hire you based upon their established guidelines.
Some states border others, like in MD, VA and DC, so be mindful of what is legal in each jurisdiction when applying for work. Even if your state has a legalized marijuana policy, the federal government still lists marijuana as a controlled (illegal) substance. Federal laws take precedence over state laws especially if the company that you are applying to is a national or multi-state corporation or if that employer receives any kind of federal funding. This means that a company could still deny you employment for testing positive for marijuana even if marijuana is legal in your state and even if it is being used medicinally with a prescription.
Where we have advised job seekers to be forthright about criminal convictions in the application process, it is not a good idea to overshare about drug use. If you have questions about the company’s policy, ask them anonymously BEFORE you apply. Asking during the process may be detrimental to your application depending on the company, who you speak with, and them not fully understanding your personal situation. Try to get a person on the phone to discuss it vs webchat which may track your email and contact information.
If you pass the initial drug test to be employed, workplaces with a drug-free policy may do intermittent, random, and/or “reasonable suspicion” testing so if you are a prescription holder for marijuana, testing positive for the drug while you are currently employed- even if used off of company property and on your own time- can be cause for dismissal in a drug free workplace.
As more states legalize marijuana, more employers have to take a closer look at their hiring practices and policies. As you navigate the jungle, stay away from the weeds if you can avoid it.
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 5, 2016 in Interviewing Skills
Getting an interview call is one thing and being successful is another thing. Everyone who has appeared for an interview knows this. It is a dream come true for anyone who successfully cracks an interview in one of the giants in the industry and start a career in Microsoft, Google, etc. We can always compare the competition involved in getting a job to that of the ways of the jungle. You need to be a powerful or a cunning one according to the situation and pounce on the prey (read job opportunity) at the right time.
Here this article will provide a view on how an interviewee can behave like a beast of the jungle to prey on a job opportunity with success. Are you going to be an opportunist or force your way to the job? Let us look at some of the ways how you can achieve it:
Be a juggernaut like a rhino
When it comes to interviews you will need to just focus on a certain goal and move rapidly towards it. In other words you need to be a juggernaut and sweep away all other candidates with your expertise. You cannot be viewed as a weak one when interviewing for one of the biggest companies in the world. They are going to grill you with some of the toughest answers that you will come across. So you need to move forward fast and without backing down.
Roar like a lion
Interviewers are going to intimidate you with some of the toughest problems and you need to let them know that you are the best suited candidate for the job. Just as the roar of a lion is distinguishable from the rest, which makes it king of the jungle, you will need to voice your skills loud enough (metaphorically) to let the interviewer know that you can do the job perfectly. Let them know that you are going to be majestic in your field.
Be cunning like a fox
Sometimes force simply does not work; you need to be careful, cunning and dodgy like the fox. If you are asked questions that seem complex, think before answering and be clever (innovative), which will give you an edge over the other candidates. Remember sometimes you will even need to dodge an answer if you are not too sure and this requires skills which you can acquire by preparing well for the interviews. Check out the type of questions that have been asked in the past and prepare accordingly.
Swoop on an opportunity like an eagle
Sometimes you will be given a hint or a glimpse that the job is yours for the taking but the interviewer is expecting more from you. In such cases you should know when to make the swoop and let him know why you are the best person for the job with clear reasons and how you are going to be successful. Good candidates know when to make the kill for the job. In simple they know when to give the right answer and how it will count.
Move fast like a cheetah
In a modern workplace, the candidates need to be fast-paced and easily adapt to the situations around them. You will also have to be a fast-learner as the competition is rising and professionals have to keep abreast of the latest technologies. These are things that the interviewer also look for in a candidate while offering them the job.
Overall you will need to be a powerful beast of a candidate to force your way into the job, when you are interviewing for a position in one of the best companies in the industry
This Guest Post was contributed by Hasib. Hasib is a professional writer working with one of the top job sites in India. He often writes articles related to interview preparations and also helps professionals in making their career decisions. He is an avid reader and passionate about the beautiful game of football. Reach him @ twitter, Google+, LinkedIn
If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 29, 2015 in Career Path
, Self Improvement
After eating a lot of food for a few days, caterpillar suddenly stops eating. It creates a cocoon around itself and, within a few days, magically transforms into a butterfly! Have you been working hard for a long time and are still not happy with your job? Are you yearning for freedom to fly high in your career? Will it help to take a break from your job and get an MBA degree and come out of a business school (b-school) with a more powerful profile?
Do you need an MBA for a career shift
The relevance of an MBA degree has been widely contested by many. While some firmly believe that the MBA degree can boost the career of any professional and help him reach the top of the corporate ladder, others tend to say an MBA is not a necessity. While it’s true that you don’t necessarily have to be an MBA to be a great manager, it’s a great asset to have in helping you acquire managerial skills if you don’t consider yourself to be a stellar manager. Let’s compare both the sides of the argument and see if an MBA is really worth it if you are looking for a career shift.
Benefits of an MBA for a career shift
Helps in the long climb: An MBA can easily help in climbing the corporate ladder. Employees complain about how difficult it is for candidates who do not have a management background to succeed in the climb. While managerial skills can be learned on the job, and there are many non-MBA managers running the biggest of brands, sometimes organizations have rigid requirements that a manager needs to have a MBA to move into certain roles.
Networking: A B-school is not just a platform to acquire managerial skills and get the opportunity to make a career shit. It’s also about networking. All good business schools have great alumni networks that students can be a part of. The two years that you spend in a B-School can be one of the best ways to expand your network and increase your contacts. Your alumni network can become one of the best sources of opportunities to make the career change you need.
Leadership skills: A b-school can help you to acquire leadership skills that allow you to manage teams and take on senior roles which are currently evading you in your professional life. An MBA can serve as proof that you are capable of managing people and getting results in the most efficient way possible.
Opportunities: Most working professionals who join MBA courses often do it for the potential placement opportunities top of the line business schools can provide. Top performers with work experience often get a huge boost to their careers upon completing their MBA and it makes complete sense for professionals to invest time in developing their managerial skills for a career shift.
It is important to keep in mind that MBA degrees are becoming more accessible and it is not necessary to go for a full time MBA. An MBA degree can acquired through distance mode also. Other options are include part time and executive one year MBA programs.
But the MBA degree does come with some downsides
An MBA can be a huge investment: Most MBA courses are significantly expensive and even though the returns are massive at top B-Schools due to stellar placements, repaying educ
ation loans can be difficult and managing finances often becomes a problem for professionals in the initial years after graduation.
Experience disparity: Even as a working professionals there may be some disparities when opting in for placements. It’s quite likely that top managerial positions available at placement drives will be filled up by more experienced professionals. It’s often a cause for concern for candidates who do have less than 2 years of work experience or no work experience at all. While an MBA is platform to help your career grow, you have to give it time until you get the managerial positions you seek.
An MBA does not prepare you for real life managerial problems: While you acquire the skills needed to solve managerial problems, it’s only in theory. There is a vast difference between learning hands-on and learning in a classroom by working on real life examples.
An MBA is not a must-have for getting help in your career shift. But it does come with solid benefits especially in long term. It allows you to access more opportunities and have great learning experiences that allow you to know more about the intricacies of management. Some get into an MBA merely for networking and come out of the program satisfied with what they go out of it. Finally, each student needs to assess her dreams and financial situation to decide what makes the most sense for her. All that we can say is that it is not a must to get an MBA to have a rocking career!
This Guest Post was contributed by Paresh of www.TargetAdmission.com.
If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!
Image Source – https://justinahurley.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/522988_10150768096746740_1918938162_n.jpg
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 29, 2014 in Interviewing Skills
, Job Search
Motion dazzle is the effect from high-contrast patterns creating visual illusions. For instance, zebras moving together in a group create a large mass of moving stripes making it hard for predators to visually pick out individual targets. This can also be true of great candidates. When a skilled and polished group of individuals interviews with an employer, it is often very difficult for the interviewer to figure out who stands out and how. It’s part of a recruiter’s job to see below the stripes to find the “extra” factor about each candidate to help the employer’s decision.
I love my work.
I truly enjoy helping my clients hire the perfect person for the job. I love working with my candidates to locate positions that are a great fit for their skills, experience and interests, and then helping them to wow their future employer in the interview.
This week was a busy week in our office. We extended four offers of employment for our clients that were accepted. It isn’t always the case that offers will be taken. There are times where an offer is turned down for reasons that have little to do with the position being considered, but more on that later. In my position, there is no better call to make than the one that helps bring a professional search assignment to a successful conclusion for both parties.
The flip side of that enjoyment is the melancholy requirement of notifying the candidates who didn’t receive the offer. It’s human nature to ask: “Why?”, “What could I have done better?” or “Why not me?” These calls were really tough for me this week. I had to notify nearly a dozen people who were in the latter part of the interview process that they wouldn’t receive the offer – when nearly all of them had told me they ranked the positions as one of their top choices. All of these individuals had strong backgrounds and terrific personalities. Unfortunately, to answer their questions, there really are no strong, concrete reasons to identify what they could have done to make the decision go their way.
It’s often a tough decision for a company to decide whom to extend the offer to between two, or more, well qualified people. Employers often find themselves starting to split hairs over experience or skills that may not be material to the success of someone in the job just to try and make the decision. When it comes to that point, it could be any number of things that tips the scales one way or the other such as perceived length of commute, level of enthusiasm expressed in an interview, overall mid- to long-term cultural fit within the organization, or even something found on a social media site that an employer relates to – or doesn’t like.
Although the employer has their work cut out for them to decide between the dazzling stripes of the candidates, even when they are ready to extend an offer to their top choice many times it is actually the second choice person who receives the offer. Among any number of reasons the top choice may have received more than one offer during their job search, taken a counter offer from their current employer as they were resigning, or even got cold feet. If you are one of the top choices, your skills and experience got you this far, but don’t be too hard on yourself about the outcome of a final selection. Very often the second choice is selected for the offer due to the reasons mentioned – happily accepts – and goes on to be wildly successful at the company.
Conflicts among gorillas are most often resolved by ritualistic displays intended to intimidate without becoming physical. These displays can include chest beating, ground stomping, and other showings of strength.
Gorilla-like behavior can surface under a wide variety of circumstances in the workplace. Perceived “threats” such as:
• authority being taken away
• new policies and procedures
• company reorganization
can cause the “gorilla” to emerge by making individuals feel self-doubt or under appreciated. Skill sets might be stretched into previously un-treaded territories, new responsibilities can trigger inner feelings of self-doubt, or the person isn’t feeling as challenged in a new role which they feel is beneath their abilities.
Consider this interview scenario; a management level person is participating in interviews where the new employee will become their peer. How will they view the interviewees if they are experiencing self-doubt about themselves and their own work?
It’s important to know as much about whom you are interviewing with and how your level of experience compares with them so you might be able to spot areas that would cause the interviewer to pound their chest and try to intimidate you. If you find yourself in this Gorilla’s cage, seek common ground where you can show how you will be a supportive experienced member of their team working towards a common goal.
But don’t be afraid to pound your chest a little in the interview. For example, I recently had a conversation with someone who had performed 4 general ledger systems conversions in his career and they were interviewing for a job that required that type of experience. Having successfully completed this work “only” 4 times before had left this person feeling that there were other, more qualified consultants in the world who perhaps had far more experience. The truth of the matter was, that in the interview setting they were the expert in the room because no one in that company had ever completed more than one system conversion. So, while you might suspect you aren’t the “most” experienced at something, it doesn’t mean you aren’t the most experienced person at that moment and, therefore, the immediate subject matter expert in the eyes of the hiring manager.
Be proud of your accomplishments and achievements. Prepare for every interview by researching the individuals you will be interviewing for and do a personal inventory of what you have made, saved, or achieved in the past and how your accomplishments will benefit your potential new employer in the future.
Have a bit of the gorilla’s confidence while steering clear of threatening territory!
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 22, 2013 in Career Path
, Job Search
, Self Improvement
How to Utilize Social Media Effectively in Your Career
Wolves live predominantly in packs to search for food, raise pups, and defend hunting territory. When a wolf leaves their birth pack, it could be in order to join a new pack that may not have as many members or packs that have better opportunities in the hierarchy. Sometimes the searching wolf may even establish their own pack. If a wandering wolf doesn’t find the right pack, it is usually possible to return to their birth pack. Wolves may cover a large area and travel long distances in search of the perfect fit and it often seems to be a hit or miss process. Social media networking can take much of the guess work out of finding your career pack.
People have always looked for ways to interact with their colleagues in order to develop a way of getting a step above the other competitors in their career. Many social networking websites that represent digital social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and others present an excellent way of not only staying close to your friends but at the same time offer various growth opportunities for one’s career. Let’s see how social media can help you in your career by allowing you to stay connected with professionals in the community.
How social media works to boost your career
Websites that focus on maintaining and managing one’s professional networks, like LinkedIn, utilize social networking software and principally work on the concept of managing and gathering multi-tiered contacts. “First connections” are those individuals with whom you have a direct connection, as in a co-worker or friend, and the further tiers, such as second or third connections, are professionals that are in your network sphere as a result of having relationships with your direct connections. An individual needs to become a registered user of the website in order to benefit from it. However, once registration is completed, that person can interact with thousands of professionals of the same or different fields as well as maintaining and managing a chain of direct professional connections.
With such career oriented social media websites one can look at companies in their respective fields and even apply for relevant jobs in order to plan a career move. This can be a great benefit to the individuals who are either looking to move companies or researching the first job in their career. Job seekers and employees are not limited by geographical boundaries, but only their own network. These websites realize the importance of personal branding in a job search and hence, suggest their users develop appropriate profiles which can help them represent their accomplishments, strengths, skills and academics to their potential employers or clients. Developing a personal brand with these social sites can make the professional a more valuable asset for the company they work for, their own enterprise, and for the potential employers as well.
Social media has evolved as a great advancement in social networking that boosts professional networking activities and career management for people in a resourceful manner. This electronic way of person-to-person networking is quite an effective marketing tool, which an individual can utilize to market his/ her professional skills. These social media platforms allow any individual to manage his/her own future and career just with a click of a mouse. These have made the professional connections and interconnections possible which grow into a wonderful professional web community. Not only does it offer career prospects, but professional discussions through forums and groups enable individuals to continue to learn many new things pertaining to their field or career.
The social media platforms have revolutionized career development for self management, personal and professional empowerment, as well as networking. It would not be wrong to say that one can indeed utilize the social media effectively for his/her career as it is a valuable way for building professional brand statement in the long run and for finding appropriate opportunities in their career.
Don’t be the lone wolf wandering aimlessly, research a pack with social media and develop the connections to move forward in your career.
This guest post was contributed by Patrick S. Patrick has been recently employed by a professional research paper writing service at SolidEssay.com, where he helps students fine tune their research papers and other academic work.
If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Mar 25, 2013 in Job Search
The New and Improved Employment Eligibility Form (Form I-9)
Groundhog Day, celebrated annually on February 2nd in the US and Canada, is a quaint end-of-winter tradition. Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks. This year, the Pennsylvania groundhog “Punxsutawney Phil” did not see his shadow which, according to folklore, should mean an early spring for the area. Recent snows seem to contradict the famous woodchuck’s prediction. Although six weeks of prolonged winter weather wasn’t expected, we can expect at least six more weeks for the old I-9 form before it gives way to the new.
The Employment Eligibility Form (Form I-9) has finally been updated and is available to use. Employers should start using this new form now, and may not use the old form after May 7, 2013.
After performing numerous I-9 audits for our clients in the past year, we want to make sure that you’re aware of the hot buttons that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) looks for that may make you incompliant.
So what’s new about this form and the instructions? First of all, the complete form lengthened from five pages to nine pages total. The boxes in the form are now much bigger and easier to fill out, but there are a couple major changes you’ll need to educate your team about.
(The first six pages of the form are the instructions. The form itself begins on page 7.)
- Section 1 is the entire first page of the form, what the employee completes. Here, the employee now has the option to also provide a phone number and e-mail address as part of their personal information. The employee does not have to do so, however, and can mark “N/A” in those fields instead. If an employee is providing an I-94 Admission Number, there is now a line for this, separate from the USCIS Number line, and has additional lines for the passport number and country of issuance accompanying it. The preparer/translator section at the bottom has been enhanced to stress the importance that USCIS puts on this section.
- Section 2 is still just for the employer to complete, but is now on its own page following Section 1. At the top, there is a line for the employer to add the employee’s name as listed in Section 1. Pay attention to this box and make sure to complete it. This is a new major change that can be easily overlooked! Section 2 still contains the identification boxes but List A now has additional and improved boxes for the documents used. The List B and List C columns have clearer fields for the required information (the name of the document, the issuing authority, the document number, and the expiration date, if there is one). Under the Lists, there is still a separate line to add the employee’s date of hire and it is slightly easier to see. Lastly, the employer has more room to write in the company’s complete address in the certification section.
- Section 3, at the bottom of the second form page, remains almost the same with the benefit of bigger boxes and some minor formatting of the form. If an employer needs to do a recertification on the employee, this section must be used.
What hasn’t changed?
- ALL new hires must complete this form.
- The employee is still required to complete Section 1 by the date of hire, and the employer is required to complete Section 2 within 3 days of the date of hire.
- The employee is still required to present documentation from either List A or, List B and List C.
- EVERY line needs to be PROPERLY completed in full, without abbreviations, or the form will not be considered compliant.
Hopefully this form will make it easier for both the employee and the employer to complete all of the required information, and reduce the number of technical violations for the employer. This form and the instructions can be found here http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf
This guest post was contributed by Tricia L. Kleber, PHR, CCP.
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 29, 2012 in Career Path
, Self Improvement
Social Media. Social Networking. These are the two hot buttons around these days. How can you use these tools to reach the high performing/high potential candidates that make the best employees? Imagine if you could reach the best people faster, before your competition snaps them up.
We are currently conducting a confidential international research study to learn how people who have been identified as high performers/high potential employees use social media and social networking. Our goal is to gain clarity around where these people are spending their time online in order that employers can more effectively interact with them via social media.
We are conducting online surveys with high performing employees to learn:
- how they receive their daily news;
- what they are reading on a personal and business level and how they access and obtain that information;
- what they do for continuing professional education;
- how these individuals network on a professional level and what their level of engagement is;
- how these individuals interact with their personal friends;
- what they do when they are bored;
- what sources they use to find jobs;
- how these individuals share information;
- what they think about their current employer;
- how they feel their employer could better position themselves in the market;
- their top business concerns and what type of research could be done to help resolve these issues;
- who they consider an expert in their filed and the reasons why; and how do they follow those individuals?
If you would like to participate and receive a complimentary copy of the white paper we ask that you send the link below to any number of people you know that have been promoted within the past 18 months and/or whom you consider to be a high potential/high performer. We estimate that the survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete. If you reply “yes!” in the comments we can send you the results after they are compiled in January.
The survey will close in one week so please send it out as soon as you can. We appreciate your help in our research!
The survey can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HWHZXMT