Damage Control: Turn Your Mistake Around Quickly

November 17th, 2017

So you made a mistake on the job. And this time, your blunder wasn’t a minor typo or misunderstanding that could happen to anyone; it was a big deal. A really big deal. You have no easy excuse, since this blunder really was your fault and you passed up at least one opportunity to prevent it from happening. You also have no advocates rushing to your defense, since your teammates and coworkers don’t share culpability and may not even fully understand what went wrong. You’re alone, you screwed up, and you have nobody to blame but yourself. So what now?

Here are a few ways you can turn this epic crash landing into a long-term win for your career. All hope is not lost, but you’ll have to take a few critical steps—and you’ll need to take them now—if you intend to make a graceful recovery.

First, be patient.

The road back from a blunder like this will probably be long and winding. Don’t expect instant results and instant forgiveness, no matter what you do. Plan for the long term, and set a reasonable expectation. For example, you may not put this entirely behind you and return to a new normal within the next month, or even the next year. Settle in for a long climb.

Second, think about others around you.

Did your mistake hurt anyone other than yourself? Did you make someone else look bad? Did you compromise someone else’s career prospects? Did your blunder put someone’s life or health at risk? Did you undo hours or years of someone else’s hard work? If so, gather your courage, face this person (or people) and set things right. Own what you did, apologize sincerely, and if you don’t know how to get back what the person lost, ask.

If you lost your job, don’t sit still.

It’s easy to give in to despair if you find yourself happily employed on Monday and home in the middle of the day on Tuesday. But don’t wallow. Talk to a legal expert if you may have been treated unfairly, and again, if you hurt someone, do your best to set things right. Start putting together a job search plan and as you sell yourself to prospective employers, be ready to explain what you learned from this incident and how it helped you grow. You’re not a bad person, you just made a bad mistake. This incident does not define you. Give yourself one day to brood, then get moving.

For more on how to keep a workplace mistake from creating long term damage to your career and your life, turn to the Cleveland County recruiting and job search experts at PSU.

Remove Your Own Productivity Roadblocks

October 20th, 2017

If you’re like most of us, when you try to identify the obstacles standing between where you are and where you want to be, you don’t see other people. No specific person is trying to hold you back. You don’t see physical obstacles; there’s no actual wall between you and your next great job. And you probably don’t see any financial or practical obstacles that you can’t overcome with a little time, patience, and compromise. But here’s what you probably do see: yourself.

You want to get something done, but you can’t. Not because you’re literally locked in a basement, but because you’re locked in the basement of your own mind. And you aren’t exactly sure how to get out. If this sounds like you, here are a few steps you can take that will help you break out of your self-imposed prison and get back on the road to success.

The paralyzing power of excitement

Believe it or not, sometimes the work that excites us the most is the hardest to actually do, especially in the earliest stages. Stop and think for a minute. Are you spinning your wheels and staring in the fridge because you can’t move forward, or are you spinning and staring because you’re overwhelmed by the possibilities in front of you and you’re afraid you might mess up? The most exciting potential outcomes often send us straight into wheel spinning purgatory because of—not in spite of—our level of interest in them. If this describes your situation, recognize it. Don’t be afraid. Just tackle the first step and you’ll be on your way.

Are you hungry, thirsty, hot or cold?

Is something else bothering you, something unrelated to the work at hand? Give yourself five minutes to attend to that need. Take some aspirin if your knee is acting up, put on a sweater if you’re cold, and eat something if you’re hungry. If you have a bad conscience, apologize. If there’s a draft blowing on you, move your chair. If you need some data you don’t have, take steps to obtain it. Then get started. No more excuses.

Find a role model.

Sometimes it helps to watch another person sail over a hurdle that seems too high. Just watching this happen can unlock hidden gates in your mind and unleash a dose of inspiration and guidance that can be refreshing and energizing. Identify someone in your life who can—and often does—approach such obstacles like a horse flying over a fence. Watch that person in action.

Make a list.

Big projects seem less intimidating when we break them down into bite-sized baby steps. So take your big project (“plan industry conference”) and break it down into smaller and smaller tasks until the one in front of you is so small that you can complete it in five minutes. (“Call Steve to determine conference dates”).

For more on how to overcome the mental obstacles and bottle necks that are holding you back, contact the productivity and career management experts at PSU.

Flexible Work Opportunities: Keeping Employees Happy

May 5th, 2017

To keep your company in motion, you need to attract and retain top talent. And to attract top talent, you have to be willing and able to offer the perks and benefits that talented employees want. Of course your salary offers will need to be competitive, but how can you move beyond salary? And how can you choose offerings that appeal to the types of employees you’re looking for?

Driven, brilliant, focused and self-sacrificing employees often have one trait in common: they have busy lives. Their attention is typically pulled in multiple directions by personal passions, family obligations, an interest in lifelong learning, and a desire for growth. So the best way to keep such people or you team can often be expressed in one word: flexibility. Keep these considerations in mind.

Let them manage their schedules.

Nothing irritates a passionate, high-achieving person more than being tied to a desk for no apparent reason. If your employee has no meetings scheduled at the moment but needs to remain in the office despite pressing obligations elsewhere, this can wear away at her patience with the company and increase her desire to work somewhere else. She’s an adult; you can trust her to leave the office for a dentist appointment and still complete her work on time.

Remote work typically means more work.

Despite what some inexperienced managers believe, allowing employees to work remotely can actually increase their output and productivity. Talented employees tend to overproduce, not underproduce, in the absence of oversight, so turn them loose and let them figure out what needs to be done and when.

Rigidity limits problem solving.

If you require a talented employee to work in only one place, in only one way, under strict supervision and within the limits of a rigid set of policies and procedures, you may reduce the potential for mistakes (sort of). But you’ll also reduce the kind of growth and learning that can result from mistakes and risk. Encourage positive outcomes, but demonstrate flexibility when it comes to how the work gets done and where it happens.

Trust begets trust.

Allowing your employees to work off site or manage their own schedules (or both) can demonstrate trust and respect. This can become a symbolic gesture that may result in immeasurable benefits for your organization. When employees and managers work in an environment of trust, they can stop looking at each other and start looking in the same direction.

For more on how to provide talented workers with the leeway, respect, and flexibility that can help them thrive, contact the Cleveland County management experts at PSU.

References on Your Resume: Must-Have or Big Mistake?

June 20th, 2016

You’re putting the finish touches on your resume and you’re just about ready to attach it to your cover letter and submit it to your target employer (or employers in general). You’ve customized your document for your specific audience, you’ve assembled the supporting materials your recipients have requested, and you’re just about ready to go. Just one question remains: Should you include a list of professional references within the text of your document? Your target employers have provided no clear guidance or instructions on this point. But if they haven’t asked, should you do this anyway? Here are some things to keep in mind before you make your decision.

References are not standard inclusions.

If your employers have not asked you to include your references, then they probably don’t expect you to do so. This isn’t a standard or traditional move, so they won’t receive many in-text references from their applicant pool. You might stand out from the crowd if you do this, but you’ll fit right in if you don’t.

References can confuse automatic filing systems.

Many employers use applicant tracking systems that automatically upload resumes upon receipt, and these systems typically break each document down into its component parts, like contact information, education, and work history. Additional and optional subheadings can potentially confuse the system and lead to errors, so bear this in mind.

Ask your references first.

When they agree to serve as references, most people expect to be called or contacted by employers only after the candidate passes through several stages of the selection process, including the initial resume review and one or more rounds of interviews. That’s usually the point at which employers ask candidates for their references and start reaching out to the people on the list. If you blindly send their contact information to total strangers, your references might be annoyed. Just let them know what you’re doing and get their okay before you proceed.

Don’t waste valuable space.

If you really want to send your reference list to a target employer during the initial resume submission process, send it as a separate document; don’t embed these names and phone numbers into the text of your resume. Save the valuable space on the page to showcase your accomplishments and credentials, and list your references elsewhere.

Under all circumstances during your job search, read your target employer’s instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. Every hiring process varies from one to the next, and if you follow the instructions you’re given, you’ll make things easier for your employers and increase your odds of a positive outcome. For more information, reach out to the Cleveland County job search team at PSU.

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What Workplace Qualities Do your Employees Value Most?

January 22nd, 2016

If you’re like most successful managers, you understand that a strong connection exists between productive employees and happy employees. You know that if you work hard to keep your employees safe and motivated, and you demonstrate respect for their talents and their time, then they’ll be more likely to show your company the same respect in return. You’ll retain high-value workers by cultivating long term relationships with them, and you’ll attract a more talented pool of candidates as your reputation begins to climb.
But what can you do to launch this upward spiral? What traits should you cultivate in order to attract and retain the best employees?

Flexibility

Some studies show that modern workers, especially at the mid-career level, value time even more than they value money. Of course you’ll still need to pay your employees what they’re worth, but consider adopting a flexible approach to work hours as well. As far as possible, allow your teams to shape their own schedules and work remotely if and when they need to. As long as the work gets done, it shouldn’t matter where or when this happens.

Fairness

If you aren’t paying attention to who gets the credit for hard work and great ideas, you should be. Maybe you can’t be bothered to take a close look at interoffice politics and gossip, but if so, you may be missing opportunities to praise and reward the real contributors, not just the loudest shouters. Fairness should be a top priority when it’s time to distribute workloads, assign projects, or grant promotions.

Connectivity

Consider allowing your employers to connect their own devices to the company network or log in to the network from anywhere they choose. Make sure employees are properly compensated for work they conduct or data they consume using their own contracts.

Opportunities for growth

In addition to compensation, you’ll need to take care of your employees by looking out for their futures. Create opportunities for growth within your organization by building long term hiring pipelines. And in the meantime, encourage learning by establishing a mentoring program, providing in-house training, and offering tuition compensation for employees who would like to further their educations.

Respect

The basic equation is simple: if you give respect, you’ll get respect. And for employees, this means respect for their thoughts, their ideas, and their needs. Keep a close eye on how much your teams are actually being paid for each hour of their time; if they’re salaried employees working 60 hour weeks and making 30,000 dollars a year, this is unacceptable. Understand the link between how much they contribute and how much they’re paid.
For more on how to boost your reputation and gain access to the best employees, reach out to the experienced staffing team at PSU.

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Returning to the Workforce? Here’s How to Get Started

December 28th, 2015

You’ve been away from the workforce for a while now…maybe a long while. Not just a few months, but a period that can be measured in years (or even decades). You’ve been attending to other aspects of your life, and now you’re ready to turn your attention back to the world of paychecks, deadlines, commuter trains, and status meetings.

But before you can start making contributions to your new employer, you’ll have to find that employer. And you’ll have to convince them to hire you. Here are a few steps that can start you down that path.

Take baby steps

Don’t be overwhelmed, and don’t put this project off. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be back in action. Start by making some decisions about the kind of employer and the kind of position you’d like to target. When you have your ideal position in mind, you can start looking for postings and open positions on job boards and industry websites.

Create a resume template

Start drafting your resume by breaking your document down into subheadings for Education, Work History, and Special Skills. You’ll fill in each section one at a time, but setting up your documents can help you get past the discouragement of facing a blank page. When you’re ready to write, begin with a short one-paragraph summary that will briefly describe your most important credentials.

Get connected

Reach out to your network of friends, family, and former coworkers and supervisors. Let them know that you’re about to start searching. Update your Linkedin profile, and make specific personal contact with anyone you consider a mentor or especially valuable resource.

Arrange informational interviews

Spend some time making contact with established professionals in the field you’d like to enter (or re-enter). Sit with these people face-to-face if you can for meetings of at least ten minutes, and use this time to ask them for advice. Let them know your plans and find out what they would do if they were in your position.

Make contact with recruiters and staffing teams

Leverage recruiters and make sure you reach out to those who send you job posts that you find interesting. Return calls and emails quickly and politely, and be very clear about what you want, including your preferred salary range. Don’t pursue jobs that clearly can’t meet your minimum requirements. Stay focused.

Consider contingency employment first

Don’t dismiss the idea of contingency or temporary assignments as you make your way back into the workforce. Contact the staffing experts at PSU and find out more about the short term, part time, or temporary positions available in your area and your industry.

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Reasons to Search for Work While You’re Still Employed

October 30th, 2015

You’ve added up the numbers, done the math, and talked your situation over with your loved ones and the path ahead is clear: It’s time for a new job. Your current workplace just isn’t giving what you need. Maybe you were excited to receive your initial offer or start work on your first day, but that was a long time ago, and things have changed. At this point, you’re ready to move on, and you just don’t see a future within these walls. Here are a few tips for job searching while you are employed.

Money matters.

Chasing your dreams is important. And being polite to your current boss is important. But your personal financial stability is more important than either of these things, and the money you’ll be earning while you search for work on the side can sustain you if the marketplace isn’t as welcoming as you expect. Stay stable and keep your paycheck until you’re fully ready to let go.

Expand your options.

If you’re still employed and still collecting a paycheck and covering your bills, then you’re less likely to leap at the first offer that comes your way. You can afford to be calm, collected, and discriminating, which can help you choose the right job (and negotiate a salary that works for you).

Maintain your personal connections.

Don’t tell anyone at your workplace that you’re stepping onto the market, even your closest friends. Nobody at your office should know your plans, or you may be hustled out the door before you’re ready. But at the same time, maintaining contact with your mentors, supporters, and co-workers can help you in the future when you need references and a bank of goodwill that you can count on.

When you have an offer, you’ll have leverage.

When you finally land an offer that you like, you can let your boss know that you’ll be leaving in two weeks’ time. They may let you go without a peep, and that’s fine. But they may also decide they would rather keep you on board and they can make it worth your while.

For more on how to search for work or plan your career path over the long term, reach out to the job search experts at PSU.

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