Dealing With a Bad Boss

March 22nd, 2019

Do you have a bad boss? Or do you just have a difficult boss who challenges you for the right reasons? A “challenging” boss isn’t a terrible person or an inept manager; they just push you outside your comfort zone. A bad boss, by comparison, isn’t good for you or your career and isn’t helping you grow. Bad bosses don’t push you outside of your comfort zones; they just make you uncomfortable.

So, what’s the difference, and which one are you dealing with? Here’s how to tell.

How do you feel after a conversation ends?

You’ve had a difficult interaction and your boss is now walking away. How do you feel? Are you excited to get back to work? Do you feel as though you may have fallen short this time, but you know what to do going forward, and you can’t wait to take another shot? If that’s the case, you probably have a “difficult” boss. Yes, you tense up at the sound of her footsteps. But afterward, you feel motivated to impress her with your next attempt. When a bad boss walks away, you simply feel demoralized. You wish you could leave the office and not come back.

Do you have a roadmap?

A difficult boss may not seem to love your work, but she gives you a clear roadmap from wherever you are to a point of success. She’s like a demanding coach—she’ll make you run a hundred laps, but you know exactly why you’re running them. You know where you need to go, and you trust her to get you there. A bad boss just doesn’t love your work, period. He offers no guidance or direction and makes no effort to earn your trust or help you improve. If you follow where he leads, you’ll move in circles until the day you decide to stop.

Do you have support?

Your first attempt may have been a mess, but your second was an obvious improvement. How does your boss react? A difficult boss gives encouragement when it’s due (even if reluctantly). A bad boss gives nothing. In fact, he may give you the runaround when you ask for the minimum resources your job requires, including data, better tools, a raise or help with a problem.

Are you truly miserable?

Toxic or abusive relationships aren’t always easy to spot and stop right away. If they were, they would never happen. Instead, the true nature of the relationship slips in unnoticed and builds for a long time before it’s recognized and addressed. Take a moment to assess the situation objectively, without making any excuses for yourself or the other person. If you don’t like what you see, you CAN do better. Talk to the experts at PSU and start planning your move to a better job somewhere else.

Addressing Gaps in Your Resume

February 15th, 2019

If you’re like almost every other job seeker with a few years of life experience, you’ve probably been through one or two chapters in which you were either unemployed for a while or employed in a position with a title that doesn’t reflect your career goals. During the years since your graduation from high school or college, you’ve held one or more working roles, and in between those roles, you may have spent time searching for work, caring for family, recovering from an illness, traveling, attending classes, holding a short-term position to pay the bills, or anything else that filled your days but won’t work well as an entry on your resume.

Some employers perceive these “gaps” as idle chapters that require an explanation. And even those who understand that a gap isn’t a crime may still be curious. How did you spend that time? The answer can help employers and recruiters learn a little bit more about you. Here are a few tips that let you explain just enough of your life story without sharing too much.

First, understand the goal.

A six-month period between one job and the next won’t put you in the hot seat or signal a character weakness (at least not for a responsible employer). But it might suggest that 1) you were looking for work and being turned away; or 2) you weren’t looking for work, despite your evident free time. Both can indicate you aren’t as ambitious or growth-focused as your application suggests. You’ll want to allay this concern and convince your employers that, in fact, you ARE focused on the long-term growth of your career, gap or no gap.

Don’t overshare.

Never reveal your marital or family status to an employer until you’re onboard. If you took time off for your children, parents or an ill partner, keep that to yourself. Your family status is protected information, something your employers don’t need to know. (In fact, it’s illegal to ask).

Emphasize the positive.

Were you volunteering during this time? Describe your experience. Were you on a sabbatical or studying? Share! These are positive data points that can help you shine, even if they aren’t the primary reason you weren’t working during the period in question.

Move on quickly.

If an employer points to a six-month, two-year or ten-year chapter your resume doesn’t account for, have a short answer prepared, deliver it, and then move past the subject quickly. End your (very short) story by providing reassurance you haven’t missed a beat and your skills have not become rusty.

For more on how to frame your life story in a way that aligns with the needs of your potential employer, talk to the job search and interview experts at PSU.

How to Stay Motivated During Your Job Search

January 18th, 2019

The winter blahs can take a toll on any form of motivation. No matter what we hope to do—stay in shape, try new things, make new friends—it’s not easy to begin the process during the peak of the January doldrums. But there are few challenges harder to face in the winter then searching for a new job. So how can you get up and get out there when you’d really rather cuddle up with some cocoa and watch the snow fall? Here are few tips.

Stay focused on your goal.

Remember that landing your new job will be the kindest gift you can give yourself. If it’s what you want and need more than anything, then consider a new job the greatest form of self-care that you can offer yourself. Cocoa is nice, and cuddling up is nice, but real financial security and career growth are even nicer. Stay hydrated, get adequate sleep, and most important of all, stay focused on your most valuable goal.

Draw strength from your family and friends.

Too often, especially during the bleak winter, we tend to hide our weaknesses and problems from others. We hole up and protect ourselves by not letting anyone know what we’re going through. Do this if it makes you feel safe, but remember that your friends are part of a vast professional network and they may be able to help you in ways you don’t realize. Their help can take the form of both emotional and practical support, so know that both are available to you—if you’re willing to reach out.

Make lists and stay organized.

It’s easier to wake up, pick up your list, and start checking off items than it is to wake up to a completely blank slate. Each night, give yourself a gift for the next morning: a sense of direction and purpose. Create a list and make sure the first item is an easy one to cross off. As soon as you pour your first cup of coffee the next morning, you’ll already be on your way.

Talk to someone who can help you.

Find someone you know with specific experience in your specific field, someone who can speak to you directly about the challenges you face. You can think of this person as a long-term mentor or just a one-time conversationalist over a cup of coffee, but put yourself in their presence for a minute so you can remember where you’re going and why.

Create small goals that lead to bigger ones.

Have a few goals and to-do items on your list that you can check off in an hour. Include a few more that may take you a day. Have at least one goal that you can accomplish in a week. And a month. And so on. Break the bigger goals down into smaller tasks and maintain a sense of forward momentum.

For more on how to keep moving toward your new job, no matter what distractions and challenges lie in your way, talk to the job search team at PSU.

 

How Not to Be Awkward on Your First Day

December 11th, 2018

Your new job is about to begin! Roughly two weeks from now, you’ll be stepping into a new workplace, with new responsibilities, new clients, and new coworkers. But there’s one small challenge lying ahead that’s unique to your specific personality; You’re an awkward person, and your shyness and social anxiety don’t usually help you in these types of situations. In fact, sometimes they really stand in your way. Here’s what to do about it.

Don’t let your worries run away with you.

Anxious people tend to overthink, and when they overthink, they overestimate the problems and challenges that lie ahead. Molehills become mountains and small monsters become unslayable dragons. Imagine the worst-case scenario that looms in your mind—Is this scenario truly realistic? Of course not. Dial it down, and then down again, until it reassembles a situation that reflects real life.

If you seem happy and okay, everyone around you will relax.

If you’re visibly nervous and upset, others around you will pick up on that energy. The opposite is also true. Frame your calm demeanor as an effort to help others. Think of your relaxed smile and easy energy as a gift to those around you. It’s a friendly form of reassurance.

Try to remember names.

You’ll be blasted with lots of new information on your first day, and some of it will slide in one ear and out the other. That’s natural and normal. If what you’re hearing is truly important, don’t worry; you’ll hear it again. Meanwhile, take notes and prioritize the value of what you’re hearing and which bits you really should try hardest to process and remember. The most important thing will probably be names. So, each time you shake hands with a new person, make a conscious effort to listen to the person’s name, repeat it in your mind, and file it away.

Don’t sweat your small mistakes.

During the first day on almost any job, a new employee is universally given a kind of break. Take advantage of this fleeting moment and don’t beat yourself up over small blunders. Save that for later. For now, just fix your mistake or shrug it off and move on.

Remember where you are.

New employees—especially those who feel awkward in unfamiliar situations—are prone to one specific and common type of embarrassing blunder: forgetting which hallways they’ve walked down, which doors they’ve gone through, and where they are in the workplace. “How do I get back to my desk?” is a more common question than you might think. Do yourself a favor and anticipate this. Don’t just follow your new supervisor around blindly.

For more on how to keep a cool head and an easy relaxed attitude during your first day in a new workplace, talk to the career management consultants at PSU. 

How to Impress Employers During Your Interview

November 23rd, 2018

When you step in the door for your interview, you want to reassure the employer that you’re trustworthy, honest, hardworking and qualified. But every other candidate in line for the role will also be aiming for the same goals. So, you don’t want to just meet that bar of expectation; you want to soar over it! To truly stand out, you’ll have to blow your employers away. You’ll have to provide more than the minimum and make a truly lasting impression. Here’s how.

Bring everything you need.

When something comes up during the conversation about your past projects, your references or just the everyday details of your resume, will you be ready? Employers are typically impressed by candidates who can just reach into their portfolio folder—or phone—and produce the item, evidence or visual aide in question. It’s a polished gesture that makes you come off as ultra-prepared.

Ask the right questions.

Most employers will provide you with a chance at the end of the interview to ask your own questions about the role, the company or anything you choose. So, ask questions that elevate your profile. Don’t just say “No, but if I have any questions later, I’ll contact you.” Instead, ask about room for advancement. Ask if this job will provide you with the training or exposure you need to advance your career. Ask anything that’s on your mind and do it boldly.

Demonstrate you’ve done some research.

Of course, you can also simply just tell your employers you’ve been spending some time online learning about the company (not many candidates do this, especially at the entry level, so this move alone can set you apart). But it’s also nice to show—not just tell—when you share what you’ve learned and how you processed that information. Based on what you independently discovered, how would you describe this company’s needs, and how are you uniquely prepared to meet those needs? How can you contribute in a positive way to the better aspects of this company’s brand and reputation? How can you alleviate the negative aspects? How can you help this team meet its long- and short-term goals?

Think, talk and listen at the same time.

Most candidates can do one of these. Many can do two or three of them as the moment requires. But how many candidates can listen to what the interviewer says, process that information, and provide intelligent insights, responses and contributions to the conversation at the same time? Surprisingly few. Intelligent conversation is an art form, and it’s a task that happens to be especially difficult during times of anxiety or pressure. If you can stay poised, smart, verbal and tuned in, let it show. You won’t be forgotten.

For more on how to impress your interviewers and land the job you need, turn to the staffing pros at PSU.

Why You Should Work With a Recruiter

October 26th, 2018

You may be searching for a new job and not finding success just yet. Or you may be scouring the market and not finding a job match that’s quite right for you. Or you may be experiencing a little bit of both. In any case, if you haven’t started working with a professional recruiter, now may be a great time to start. A recruiter can add energy and focus to your search, and their years on the job and deep experience with searches just like yours can help you reach heights you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own. Here’s how.

Recruiters can find job openings you can’t find on your own

Not every job is publicly posted on a website you happen to use. And no matter how wide your social network may be, your recruiter’s network is wider AND more relevant to your job search. Most recruiters have been in the business for a long time. They can access and open doors you may not even be able to see.

Recruiters know their clients better than you do

You may find an open job with your target company … but other than the information you find online, you don’t know very much about the company, or the hiring manager, at all. Here’s a tip: Your recruiter does. They can help you make a connection with a certain employer by highlighting your most relevant accomplishments and skills.

Recruiters can advocate for you

Advocating for yourself is a necessary skill during your job search, but it’s not easy. Making your own personal sales pitch will always be an uphill climb. When you have others who speak for you and can provide support and testimonials, you move from the stairs to the escalator. Your recruiter can present you to their clients and make sure they see your best qualities.

Recruiters can steer you away from trouble and wasted time

If you’re barking up the wrong tree, or chasing a job that just isn’t a match, your recruiter can often see it before you do. Sometimes the salary will be far too low. Or the advancement opportunities won’t take you where you’d like to go. Or the employers need a skill set you simply don’t have. Your recruiter can find you something better.

Recruiters can help you polish your resume

When your recruiter gives you advice about your resume, you’re wise to take it. Again, they know what your target employers are looking for and what they need to see.

For more on how to connect with a recruiter and boost your job search, turn to the experts at PSU.

 

How to Master the Interview

June 22nd, 2018

Despite what some employers want you to believe, most job interviews are more-or-less the same. Some employers want you to assume that an interview with their unique company represents a special opportunity to connect in a special way with a special enterprise. Of course that isn’t true; most companies develop their interview process using research, trial and error, and careful observation of the interviews conducted by other successful companies. As a result, nothing they do is new or special, and every question and observation they apply during the process will be drawn from a long-established set of patterns and formulas.

The good news for job seekers: If employer interviews are research-and-formula based, then employee interviews can (and should) be as well. There’s a science to this process, and a method that works in one case will likely work almost everywhere. This is a dance with known and recognized steps. Learn the steps and you’ll do well with almost every interviewer you encounter. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Settle down.

This tip applies across every industry from food service to surgery. When you’re nervous and uncomfortable, you make others nervous and uncomfortable. But when you relax, you make others feel relaxed and happy. If you can’t calm your nerves or steady your shaking hands by forcing yourself to do so, start thinking of the process as a favor to your interviewer. Help them. Make them feel at ease. Let your calm demeanor reassure them. Turn the tables, even if only in your mind.

Focus on a few key points, not a huge file download.

An interview is a conversation, not a massive exchange of data and information. You don’t need to tell your interviewer about every single accomplishment or A plus you’ve ever earned. They won’t remember these details anyway. Touch on some highlights (maybe two or three) and don’t worry about the rest. If you’re scrambling to blurt a laundry list of facts about yourself and you’re so focused on transmitting that you aren’t listening to your interviewer, something is wrong. Think of the interview as a date. If the two of you enjoy the conversation, you’ll have plenty of time later on to share more facts and details.

Look and sound trustworthy.

When we meet someone new, most of us want to look and speak in a way that makes us seem friendly, stable and pleasant. But in an interview, there’s one quality that exceeds these others in weight and value: trustworthiness. Before you convince your employer that you can expertly remove a gall bladder or design a website, you need to convince them that you will show up every day and present yourself honestly. You’ll do your best and you won’t embarrass the company. If you hit the mark, you won’t have to say these things because your voice, clothing and body language will send the message for you.

For more on how to master the basics and make a great impression in every interview you attend, contact the team at PSU.

How to Move Forward After Being Fired

May 4th, 2018

You’ve just been fired, and you’re ready to count this episode among the hardest you’ve ever faced in your life. You’re not alone; according to survey data, most respondents rank job loss among the ten most difficult life challenges most of us will ever encounter, almost on par with divorce, losing a home, or losing a loved one. Job loss is stressful in countless ways, some of which compound the difficulty of losing a paycheck. Breaking the news to family members, finding ways to pay the bills, and explaining the event to interviewers in the future are all difficult tasks, and there’s no way to sugarcoat the truth: the road ahead will be rocky. At least for a little while. But you can make it, and in time, you’ll be back on your feet with this rough patch well behind you. Here are a few ways to make that day come a little sooner.

You’re not alone.

You may feel embarrassed by this event, as if you’ve been exposed as a bad worker or a fraud. But that’s simply not the case. Firing (as painful as it is) is quite common, and the reasons can have little to do with your ability to make it in the world. There’s often a case to be made that the event wasn’t completely your fault. Spend two minutes thinking about that, and then put it behind you. You have bigger concerns then placing blame—on yourself or on anyone else.

Don’t wallow.

You may be tempted to spend weeks sweeping up the pieces of your broken heart, but don’t do this. As soon as you’re able, get outside, exercise, search for a new job, or plan your next adventure. The longer you sit still, the more your dark thoughts and ruminations deepen the hole you’re in. It’s healthy to ruminate after the loss of a loved one, and our memories keep loved ones alive and with us. But a job is not a person. Your ruminations won’t honor the past or help you heal. Bring the wallowing stage to a close asap. After a job loss, this stage helps no one.

Take the opportunity to change course.

Before you leap into a new job exactly like the last one, think of this moment as an off-ramp on an expressway. If there’s a chance that your previous jobs or career path weren’t quite right for you, act on that possibility before the moment passes and you miss your exit. Career pivots are always easier when your old job disappears involuntarily. It’s much harder to stand up from your desk and force the move on your own.

Get help.

Whether you’re changing direction or just getting back on track, you’ll benefit from the words and guidance of career experts who have seen it all before. Contact the Charlotte staffing professionals at PSU for perspective, tips, and job search resources that will help you regain your stride.

Working with a Recruiter: How to Get More Out of Your Relationship

April 16th, 2018

If you’re a job seeker, recruiters probably approach you and step into your life through either of two avenues: either you find them or they find you. If you connect with a staffing agency directly (which should definitely be a key element in your job search strategy), you’ll be connected with a team member who will take your information, learn more about you and what you’re looking for, and maybe provide you with a skills test so they can present your results to interested employers.

If a recruiter approaches you, that means you’ll probably receive a call or email from a stranger who found your resume through a job board database, a company database, or a colleague. The person will check in with you to assess your level of interest and availability, and the two of you can take the relationship from there. In either case, a few simple moves can help you form a fruitful connection and bring you closer to your next great job.

First, answer quickly.

If your recruiter sends you a job post that looks amazing, answer right away. Positions close quickly, and the responsive bird gets the worm. The email you receive may have been sent to literally dozens of other seekers at the same time, so if you don’t answer, somebody else will.

If you aren’t interested, move on.

If your recruiter shows you a job that looks perfect, minus a few negotiable issues (a low starting salary, a full time schedule when you’re looking for part-time) answer and explain what you need. But if the job is a non-negotiable “no” (way too far outside of your commuting range, for example), don’t waste the recruiter’s time. Respond promptly by saying you’d like to be kept in the loop on similar jobs, but not this one.

Don’t take anything personally.

If your recruiter doesn’t answer you right away or works to get you into a position that just doesn’t materialize, shrug it off. Keep in mind that the recruiter wants to find a position that is a good fit for you and for the employer.

Be honest, direct, and clear about what you want.

Your recruiter wants you to succeed, and they want only the best for the company that hires you. Do help them to help you by being clear and straightforward. If you don’t want a certain set of traits from a job, say so. And if you hold some qualifications but not others, let them know. Relentless positivity won’t get you where you want to go, but honest conversations will.

For more on how to help your recruiter to help you, contact the job search professionals at PSU.

Successfully Preparing for a Career Fair

April 2nd, 2018

When you see an announcement for a career fair in your area, don’t just dismiss it without taking a closer look. Even if you’re happily employed, or you’re actively seeking work but you don’t think this particular fair has anything to offer you, look again. Some career fairs showcase a surprisingly diverse group of employers from different industries, and you never know when a job fair might light a spark or introduce you to an important new contact. Opportunities are everywhere! And career fairs often become sources of kismet and coincidence that can change lives. If you decide to show up on the scheduled date and time, keep these tips in mind.

Dress nicely.

Look sharp, since you’ll be interacting with lots of people who will see you for only a few seconds and will have little else to go on while gathering a first impression. Eye contact and a pleasant expression will go a long way as well.

Take it in.

Keep your head up and feel the vibe in the room. Scan for friendly faces and keep your ears open. If you overhear a conversation that intrigues you, it’s okay to drop in. As in, “Excuse me, did you just say you know Sally Johnson? I know her too,” or, “Excuse me, did you just mention the X corporation? I have a connection there and he has a position he urgently needs to fill.” Don’t stare at your phone and tune out the world. At a career fair, this can lead to missing out, missing the point, and missing your moment.

Be patient and calm.

Desperation is unfortunate, since it can actually keep the things we desperately need away from us instead of drawing them closer. Even a vague sense of restless urgency can come across poorly and can be off-putting. So relax. Prepare to wait in some long lines. Don’t demand anyone’s attention or validation, and don’t say “I’m sorry” when you actually mean to say “Hello” or “Here’s my resume” or “It’s nice to meet you” or “I’m looking for a full-time position as a senior market analyst.” Anxious people do this all the time at job fairs, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Bring lots of resumes.

You’ll probably distribute your resume to some employers via app, email, or the cloud. But bring a stack of old-fashioned paper resumes with you as well, and try to leave as many behind as possible. Again, stay open minded about the specifics of the job or company you’d like to work for. If a certain employer might be a good fit but you aren’t sure, err on the side of leaving a resume. You can always discuss your credentials with the company in detail later on.

For more on how to make the most of your job fair experience, whether you stay for three hours or three minutes, contact the staffing and job experts at PSU.

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