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The Landscape – Surveying The Job

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 13, 2012 in Job Search, Lessons Learned

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“The Bare Necessities of any Job Hunt”

Whether you’re fresh out of college or a veteran of the workforce, establishing expectations is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself when you’re searching for a job.

Many people are so consumed with obtaining a job they may have to forgo considering whether it’s a good job. Settling for a good enough for right now job is likely to be a poor investment, but unfortunately it is sometimes unavoidable. With so many dangers and pitfalls in the job search jungle, a survey of the landscape in any position will give you enough information about what kind of employment is right for you.

If you find yourself in a less than favorable position, turn it into a learning experience. Write down what you dislike about your work life, and consider what circumstances would make it better. This can give you a better sense of what you will want in your next position, and it could possibly inspire you to suggest changes in your current job.

For those young, bright-eyed college graduates who are not expecting the pitfalls such as office politics and income taxes, it’s easy to get blindsided by a job that seems appealing in the interview stages. The challenge is, without work experience, you may not know what you want.

In the jungle, you will need food, water, and shelter to survive. In the work world, salary, coworkers, and work environment are among the bare necessities. Here are some questions to help you whittle down your expectations to the bare necessities.

But first, let me explain that the bare necessities are different for everyone. Some people crave order and instruction, while others crave creativity and independence. Some people prefer benefits over salary, and some prefer great personnel dynamics.

How much money will I take home?

The least romantic (but most practical) question is often the first and only question that eager potential employees will ask. The answer to this question is more complicated than it seems. In addition to the salary, you will need to factor in the state’s income tax, cost of benefits and other costs such as commuting and purchasing new clothes. All jobs come with a price.

Employers are rarely upfront with starting salaries in the preliminary interview, which means you can be excited about a position only to be disappointed with the amount of money offered. Also, the opposite is possible. The job could sound iffy, but the money may be appealing.

Money is the bare necessity of any job, but it can’t realistically be your only gauge for whether a job will be a good fit. Before you step foot in an interview, know the absolute lowest amount you can afford to accept and be willing to negotiate based on the above factors.

Who is on my team?

This question isn’t just about who is on your team; it’s also about how your team operates. Office dynamics can ruin or strengthen a good work experience.

If you haven’t had enough experience to know what type of office environment suits you, consider what types of organizations or circumstances have allowed you to excel.

Think back to your strongest relationships among peers, employers, mentors, coaches, parents, teachers and professionals. Did you feel that the motivation was coming from a superior, your team or yourself? Chances are, you’ve found motivation in all three; but pick the one that made you feel the most successful and brand it as a bare necessity.

  1. I respect strong leadership from my superiors.
  2. I need a strong support system and open communication from my teammates on all levels.
  3. I prefer minimal supervision for maximum creativity and success.

Depending on which type of communication you prefer, you can use an above statement to open up a dialogue with your interviewer about team dynamics.  The right communication is vital to feeling motivated, inspired and fulfilled at your job.

What are the working conditions?

Considering the job, you could be on the road, at a desk or under the sun. Asking this question in advance can help clue you in to overtime expectations. It can also prepare you for the challenges of the office environment. (No office environment is perfect.)

In this instance, your health is the absolute bare necessity. Make sure your work environment offers plenty of breaks and that it won’t strain existing medical conditions. If you feel it’s appropriate, inquire about social activities (sports teams, happy hours or charity events) that allow for a sense of community beyond the office.

Whatever landscape you prefer, keep your salary, coworkers, and working conditions on your mind for your next position.

This blog post was contributed by Mariana Ashley. Mariana is a freelance blogger who primarily writes about how online education and technology are transforming academia as we know it. Having spent a good portion of her professional career trying to reform high schools in East St. Louis, Mariana is particularly interested in how online colleges in Missouri make higher education a possibility for students of all backgrounds. Please contact her at mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com if you’d like to discuss this article or education in general.

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 Animals – Sharing Office Space: Is It A Jungle Or A Zoo?

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 22, 2010 in Executive Coaching, Self Improvement

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Do you share an office space? Are you swimming in a cubicle environment or crammed into an office with more than one person? Is office etiquette different when you are closer together? Yes! When you do not have your own space and your own door, you have to realize that you are around other people and that is where manners need a little jungle taming!

As a contractor on site at a client, I work in the field and share space with 2 other consultants. The quarters are tight and you have no privacy whatsoever. It’s a tough environment to work in, but even more challenging when:

1. Speakerphones! I have often run into this issue and I’ll bet you have too! Even if you are working in your own office space, the polite thing is to close the door so as not to disturb your co-workers. It does not matter how often you have conference calls, who you are calling, the reason, or even what you think you have to do simultaneously (surfing personal internet sites? = not professional), you do not have the luxury of putting a call on speaker when you are in close quarters.
Resolution: If this person is you, give up the speaker! If you have a speakerphone problem person, speak up and politely, but sternly, ask the person to not put their calls on speaker as it disturbs the productivity and personal space of others. (Or just nicely tell them it’s annoying!). Perhaps suggest to that person that they borrow a separate office space or go outside on their cell phones. Most companies can issue a laptop and have wireless internet available if they can plan to move to a different area.

2. Bodily Functions. (Ew!) Miss Manners would say in ANY environment, a gentleman or lady should not burp loudly in front of another person – or any other strange noise emissions. (However, in a work environment, I would venture to say that it’s more inappropriate.)
Resolution: If you are someone who burps loudly, a simple “excuse me” or an apology is appropriate (not: “well you’re in for a real treat today because I forgot my Gas-x.” I can’t make this stuff up!). The offense has already been committed; a slight effort towards damage-control helps co-workers think better of your manners. Burping is natural, but your response to it can make or break relationships. (No joke!). Faced with a burping co-worker, don’t encourage them and be proactive in setting an example for behavior.

3. Food. I can go in a million directions with this, but here are a couple of points: You should not try to cut a whole watermelon at your desk (or do any sort of food preparation outside of the kitchen beyond some condiments) and if your lunch has a very strong odor, not everyone may appreciate it, so please save it for home.
Resolution: Bringing lunch is great and cost-effective, but bringing the farm or sharing the wafting aroma with the entire office can send some people running or gagging. Cold food is typically safe as it usually has less of an odor. Anything that can be packed into Tupperware or comes in its own container is appreciated. Rule of thumb: if you can’t buy it in your building’s café, stop to think about how it could look/smell to others before you pack it for the office. Take it outside or try eating in a less-populated area of the office if you aren’t sure. And always keep your workspace free of lunch-leftovers! NO ONE wants to share a sticky, stinky office with a little critter or a hundred…

Keep these few things in mind and the jungle may seem a little less like a zoo!

Guest post by Michelle Cecchett

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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