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The Monkey – Flexibility In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 17, 2016 in Interviewing Skills

BranchFlexibility. Flexible Schedule. Flex-Time. What does that mean? Why does it matter?

Well, if you are a monkey swinging from tree to tree in the jungle, flexibility is key. You need to be flexible in order to grab the next branch to continue on your way and you need the branch to be flexible enough to hold your weight or it will snap.

In the workplace, or during an interview, flexibility is a far different thing. 14 years ago, when I first started in recruiting, I had never heard the term “flexibility” or “flexible hours” or “flexible work schedule” come up in conversation. I did hear candidates ask about the ability to leave work early if there was an emergency such as when a child was sick or the ability to work from home during a snow day.

Today, people think that they are entitled to work when they want, where they want, and how they want. They disguise this entitlement by using the term “flexible schedule” which sounds innocent enough, but is a loaded term. If the employer is not able to meet their demands, then that employer is “inflexible” and the company is potentially labeled as a bad place to work.

This week, I had a candidate who asked the client during the interview if she could work a “flexible schedule”. This question was asked during the first 5 minutes of her interview. The client was quite surprised by her question and asked for clarification. With a straight face, the candidate said, “I need to leave by 3pm each day.” The client was shocked. The client later related to me that she would not have minded a discussion on work hours later in the interview process to address any special needs that the candidate may have, but the timing and the severity of the restriction on time from their core business hours instantly put the candidate in an unfavorable light in her eyes.

Work is just that, work. You are not doing the company a favor by working there. You are applying to a position to gain employment to earn a living. You are offering your expertise to solve a business issue or need for the company. They do not owe you anything. It’s work for pay.

The appropriate time to discuss any special needs that you may have is not in the first 5 minutes of your first interview. The best time to approach the topic of “flexibility” is during the salary negotiation phase of the hiring process. Even then, you need to have realistic expectations and stay flexible yourself. If a company has core hours, see if there are alternative solutions you can explore before asking your employer or potential employer to change their policy to accommodate your needs. See if you can carpool to use HOV lanes or if a neighbor can watch your children for an hour after school so that you do not need to leave early. When all else fails, then approach your employer. Remember that you also earn trust over time with an employer. Often, flexibility is given to trusted employees after they have proven themselves in their current role. You should not expect to be given the same consideration right away when starting a new job as employees who have been with the company for a long time.

Flexibility is a 2-way street. Consider your request for “flexibility” before you ask for it, or you just might find yourself falling from that branch that you were so sure could hold you.

This guest post was contributed by Jake Hanson of the Merito Group.

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The Rhodesian Ridgeback – Keeping Mobile Can Keep You from Harm

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 11, 2013 in Career Path, Self Improvement

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RidgebackThe Rhodesian Ridgeback is a beautiful animal that is used to hunt lions and other prey in Africa. They have great speed and are built for agility. The Ridgeback will use hit-and-run tactics wearing down its target while the hunter closes in for the kill. By keeping yourself mobile, you too can keep yourself from being harmed in a proverbial sense. Rely on your own fancy footwork in order to prevent from being laid-off or outright fired.

1. Agility – Using superior agility, the Rhodesian Ridgeback will attack its prey from various locations by moving around it. As the metabolism of this canine is extremely high, this animal can wear down prey due to exhaustion from trying to keep up. Each attack is meant to weaken until it can no longer fight against the onslaught of speed and agility. You should view your work ethics in the same manner.

By keeping yourself motivated to try new aspects of the company, you can keep yourself in high regards to management. By taking on several tasks bit at a time, you can eventually learn a new skill that will put you that much higher on the totem pole of employment. The more versatile you are, the more valuable you are.

2. Speed – Although not as fast as the Greyhound, a Rhodesian Ridgeback can show great demonstrations of speed. Few canines are as fast as this animal on a dead run which allows them to hit their prey fast while giving the necessary speed to evade being attacked themselves. If a battle goes badly, the Ridgeback can easily escape in many situations.

Your speed should be equally as great when it comes to your career. If an opportunity presents itself, you need to be able to snatch it up as quickly as possible. If you are too slow, someone else could easily take your place. If a co-worker is putting the company in jeopardy with poor decisions, you need to distance yourself from that project as quickly as possible and wait for reinforcements to arrive. If that co-worker will not listen to reason, there is no sense involving yourself in the situation.

3. Metabolism – Although the Rhodesian Ridgeback has an extremely high metabolism, the canine has an eating disorder. They will consume every morsel of food regardless if they are hungry or not. This can be detrimental to the breed’s endearing qualities and consumption needs to be monitored in order to remain healthy.

Biting off more than you can chew can put yourself in jeopardy as well. Unlike the Ridgeback, you have the ability to determine when too much is too much. Taking on various tasks is one thing, but you can put your career at risk if you’re in over your head. Be realistic to yourself and your career and not take on tasks that are beyond your capabilities.

Few employers want to hire someone who is good at their job but not interested in pursuing greater aspects within the company. Those who are lazy and uncaring about the greater whole of the location could find themselves on the chopping block when it comes time to let someone go. Even if there are those who are more skilled at a single aspect of the task, those that perform extra duties and are willing to learn more are still the last to be let go. Keep your attacks at life balanced and frequent, for the Rhodesian Ridgeback knows that slow reflexes will equal elimination.

This guest post was contributed by Ken Myers. Ken is the founder of  http://www.longhornleads.com/.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Old Dog – New Tips (Tricks)

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Old dogs CAN learn new tricks! Every day, we are challenged with new issues which are opportunities to learn something about ourselves. 

As a seasoned recruiter who has trained thousands of people, I had a meeting today about time management purely because I felt like things were slipping through the cracks and I needed to grab hold before everything collapsed around me. (It’s not just me, right?)

Whether you are a job seeker planning your personal marketing strategy, a business person trying to gain market share, or an executive recruiter looking to capitalize on the resurgence in the hiring market, remember these tips when planning your day:

1. You need to plan!  Fail to plan, plan to fail! As a member of the Pinnacle Society (www.pinnaclesociety.org”) we discuss our business strategies for success openly and the number one indicator of success is your ability to plan!

     o   Where will you call and why?

     o   What do you have that is of interest or need for someone?

     o   Who should you contact or ask for and why?

          §  Find names on linkedIn

     o   What’s in it for them?

     o   Don’t forget to ask for referrals!

2. Block out your activities in one or two hour chunks.

     o   Your calls will sound fresher if you are remain interested and are not bored with your subject matter.

     o   Work all the angles you need to work each day, not one per day.  For example, if you are a recruiter that works job orders and makes marketing calls, do some of each every day.  You’ll find you’ll cover a lot more ground with renewed enthusiasm if you get to the end of the first page of calls and can check that off your list and move onto your next one.

     o   Only plan 75% of your time. 

          §  You need to be flexible to deal with interruptions and the results of your hard work!

3. Think outside the box!

     o   In my office we look for CPA’s every day.  Sometimes, looking for the names of CPA firms turns up candidates we didn’t find doing a search for “CPA”. 

     o   If you are looking for a job, don’t just search for job titles; create a list of target companies and research them for related positions they may be advertising.  If they have ads for positions in and around your field, they would likely have a job for you somewhere, sometime…you just need to find out who reviews the resumes for that department and mail them a copy of yours via priority mail.  They will get it!

4. As a business person looking to expand your client base as the economy begins to recover, start with your clients from the past three years before trying to earn someone’s trust you’ve never worked with before. 

     o   A check in call is a powerful thing.  Find out how they are doing and how your services may be of assistance in their economic recovery.

Even if you aren’t an old dog, it is never too early to pick up on what the slightly wizened canines have to offer! Visit my website www.carolynthompson.net for webinars on these topics!

Carolyn Thompson

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