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Archive for June, 2007

Life and Work

Friends,

As we near the conclusion of the series on Career Saving Moves, it’s time to start looking ahead. While it’s vital to know how to dodge a bullet with your name on it, it is a little depressing to dwell on it. Next week I’ll publish the last 2 moves in a single post and then get back to discussing ways to get on the winning track in the first place and stay there. In the meantime, I thought I’d share an interesting piece I came across from Penelope Trunk. She and I seem to be on the same wavelength with regard to career management.

I hope you enjoy it!

Dave

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6 myths about work

Each generation revolutionizes something. Today’s younger generation is revolutionizing work. The goals people have, their values and opportunities have all changed drastically in the last 10 years. The new workplace demands new rules for success, yet people continue to get outdated advice based on persistent workplace myths.

These myths about today’s workplace are adapted from my new book, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success.

#1. Job hopping ruins your resume.
Job hopping is one of the best ways to sustain passion and personal growth in your career. It also helps you build a network quickly and allows you to build your skill set faster than if you worked in the same job year after year. The learning curve is always highest at the beginning.

And here’s some good news for hoppers: Most people will have eight jobs between ages 18 and 32. This means most young workers are job hopping. So hiring managers have no choice but to hire job hoppers. Ride this wave and try a lot of jobs out yourself.

#2. Getting a promotion is good for you.
Promotions aren’t created with you in mind — they’re created with the company in mind. The company creates a ladder and tells you to climb it. But you need to pick the steps that are right for you. You deserve a customized career, so be wary of all promotions.

Most people who are good at their nonmanagement jobs won’t excel as leaders. It takes a very specific personality type to be better as a leader than as the worker who’s actually doing the work. The irony is that people who are conscientious about getting their work done are promoted into leadership positions that don’t value conscientiousness so much as being open to new ideas.

Also, the average salary increase is 4 percent. Is that going to change your life in any meaningful way? Definitely not. This is why the idea of getting a promotion is so last century. Instead, negotiate for training, mentoring, or flex time. These are all things that will really improve your life and your career.

#3. You’ll be happier if you have a job you like.
The correlation between your happiness and your job is overrated. The most important factors, by far, are your optimism levels and your personal relationships. If you are a pessimist, a great job can’t overcome that. (Think of the jerks at the top.) And if you have great friends and family, you can probably be happy even if you hate your job (imagine a garbage collector who’s in love).

So a job could make you unhappy, if it’s a terrible job. But when it comes to really being happy, you need solid personal relationships and a job that doesn’t interfere with you enjoying them.

#4. The glass ceiling still exists.
The glass ceiling is gone, not because women crashed through, but because people are not looking up anymore. Life above the glass ceiling is 100-hour weeks, working for someone else, and no time for friends and family. Life above the glass ceiling is essentially about bribery. The company pays a lot of money in exchange for the employee giving up most of their time. Young people today think their time is worth too much to agree to something like that.

And it’s not only women who are saying no to the ladder: Men are as well. People want to customize success for themselves, not climb someone else’s rungs. So if no one is climbing to the top, the glass ceiling isn’t keeping anyone down.

#5. Going to grad school open doors.
Grad school generally makes you less employable, not more. For example, people who get a graduate degree in the humanities would have had a better chance of surviving the Titanic than getting a tenured teaching job.

And unless you are going to a top business school at the beginning of your career, you should not stop working to get the degree. Go to night school because you will not make up for the loss of income with the extra credential.

Law school is one of the only graduate degrees that makes you more employable. Unfortunately it makes you more employable in a profession where people are more unhappy. Law school rewards perfectionism, and perfectionism is a risk factor for depression. Lawyers have little control over their work and hours, because they are at the beck and call of clients, and many are constantly working with clients who have problems lawyers cannot solve. These two traits in a job — lack of control over workload and compromised ability to reach stated goals — are the two biggest causes for burnout in jobs.

#6. Work hard and good things will come
You’ll actually be rewarded only if you’re likable. People get hired for their qualifications, but they get promoted because people like working with them. So spend your days trying to figure out what people need and what people want, and how you can help them. Empathy makes you likable.

The people who don’t want to have to deal with kindness will complain. But for most of us, it’s a big relief to know that the workplace of the new millennium demands more kindness and respect than ever before. This is a workplace that rewards being nice rather than being a genius. The people who will complain about this situation will feel that the niceness isn’t genuine. The people who are genuinely nice will not complain.

Put yourself in the latter category and be grateful we’re living in the new millennium with a new workplace. It’s an opportunity for you to shine in your best light and get what you want most for your life.

Penelope Trunk is the author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. Read her blog at blog.penelopetrunk.com.  

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Sometimes “doing nothing” is just too painful. Here’s a good article a friend (and loyal reader) clipped and sent me that illustrates other options for getting out of a messy situation. In a way, it’s another Career Saving Move.
Dave

By Alison Doyle
What to Do if Your New Job Isn’t Working Out

What do you do when a new job, despite your doing all the right things before you accepted the offer, isn’t anything like you expected? First of all, don’t panic. You do have options and this may not be as much of a crisis as you think it is.

Bad Luck or Good Luck?

It happened to Maureen Nelson. She worked for Employer A, which was located across the street from Employer B. Employer A was a contract position and Maureen needed benefits, so she went to B. Company B had buyer’s remorse after two months (Maureen never knew why) and was asked to resign. Maureen called Employer A back and they said, “Great! Can you be here tomorrow morning at 9:00?” Because they were so close geographically, the commute was identical and her routine hardly changed. The story gets better though. Maureen explains – “The best part: A few months later, I was hired at Employer C, which paid me 30% more ($15K) than Employer B did! I actually moved for that job. It’s like the Chinese folktale that starts with the horse running away – you never know, you never know – whether it’s good luck or bad luck.” In Maureen’s case, she took a chance and made her own new luck.

Doing All the Right Things

Another person I spoke to had done everything you should do when it came to both her job search, and to evaluating a position at one of the top employers in the United States. She interviewed several times, researched the company, evaluated the job offer, and talked to her future co-workers and supervisor. Presuming that she had made a good decision, she packed her bags and relocated to a new city to take what she thought was an exciting new job. Only it wasn’t. It was nothing like anyone had described it. The only explanation she got when she asked about the difference between the job she thought she was hired for and what she was doing, was that she could work her way up to more responsibility. After the first couple of days on the job, she knew it wasn’t going to work out, so she called her old boss. She was lucky – the job wasn’t filled, she had resigned gracefully and parted on excellent terms with her old employer, and she didn’t have to start a new job search. They hired her back on the spot. These experiences are good examples of how you never know what will happen in the future and why it’s always important to follow protocol, give adequate notice, and not say anything negative when leaving.

Starting Your Job Search Over

Unfortunately, luck doesn’t always work in your favor. Sometimes, the employer has filled the position or doesn’t want you back. I once received a call from an ex-employee who decided he hated his new job on the day he started. In this case, the employee wasn’t performing as well as we would have liked and we looked at the resignation as an opportunity for the company to start fresh with a new employee. If going back to your old job isn’t an option, do take some time to see if you were judging the job or the company in haste. Sometimes, our first impressions aren’t correct and the job might be a better fit than you expected. Give it a chance and take some time to see if it’s as bad as you first thought. If it really is that awful, start networking with your contacts and getting your resume back into circulation. Be honest when you’re asked why you’re leaving a job you just started (and you will be). Tell your contacts and the interviewer that the job wasn’t a good fit and you decided to pursue other options. You will probably need to provide details on why the position didn’t work out, so think about appropriate answers prior to interviewing. These sample interview answers on leaving your job may give you some ideas. 

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