Negotiating a Flexible Work Arrangement

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When it comes to corporate culture, the tides are shifting towards an appropriate work life balance across the board, and more companies are recognizing the value of offering flexible work arrangements. That can be different things depending on the industry you work in, ranging from telecommuting to working four 10-hour days and having every Friday off. The beauty of that flexibility is that there is nothing set in stone dictating what a flexible work arrangement should be. But finding the arrangement that is right for you, and then convincing your leadership team they should give you the opportunity to prove yourself with that flexibility, is really becoming the dream for a lot of employees. So how do you achieve it for yourself?

 

Prove Yourself

The first step to earning yourself a flexible work arrangement is proving yourself in a traditional capacity. If you can’t be counted on to show up during the hours assigned to you, and to do the job expected of you when you are there – how can you expect your supervisors to give you even more flexibility? You have to first be a stellar employee before you can hope for the negotiating power to earn a flexible work arrangement. Remember, you’re trying to convince your supervisors that you can be trusted with a little extra freedom – but trust has to be earned, not demanded or coerced.

 

Know What You Want

The next important task is to know what it is you want out of that flexibility – and for your desired arrangement to be something that would actually work in your chosen career. For instance, if you have a job that has you interfacing with the public during business hours on a daily basis, you probably aren’t a good candidate for working from home. But maybe you could arrange a schedule that has you putting in most of your hours Monday through Thursday, and just coming in during prime business hours on Fridays. They key is to land on what kind of flexibility would work within your industry, while also knowing what would fulfill that work life balance for you.

 

Equip Yourself with Data

You should always prepare an information based argument whenever negotiating for anything in your career. In this case, that would mean data that proves the benefits of flexible work arrangements not only to yourself, but also to your corporation as a whole. There is a lot of data like this out there – from research that shows how having employees work from home can actually save companies money, to studies that point to increased productivity when employees feel as though their need for balance is being met. Do your research, and create a solid, data-driven argument. Because if your sole argument is, “This would make me happy,” you probably aren’t going to get very far. The good news is, most of the data is in your favor – you just have to find it and use it.

 

Keep it Professional

If you want to prove you are professional enough to take on a flexible work arrangement and still be a valuable and contributing employee, you have to start by making your pitch professional. Which means requesting an official meeting with your supervisor and going to that meeting prepared to make your case. It also means not expecting your every wish to be granted right away. Present what you would like, and then open that up to discussion with your supervisor – asking about any concerns he or she might have, and anything that they think might work better. Allow them time to contemplate your proposal, and don’t pitch a fit if it isn’t initially accepted. Continue to prove yourself as the valuable employee you are, and keep the topic of flexibility on the table as an open dialogue for the future.

 

 

 

 

Landing an Out of State Interview

Maximise your job search

 

 

 

 

 

 

When most people think of a job search, they imagine completing that search on their home turf – utilizing the networking contacts they already have and positioning themselves for a move that might have them driving to a different side of town, but wouldn’t involve any actual relocation.

Unfortunately, relocation is sometimes necessary if you want to move forward in your career. In some industries, there are only a handful of opportunities for certain positions nationwide. And if that is where you skillset resides, you need to be ready to move pretty much anytime you decide you want a change in career scenery. Then there are those who are moving for personal reasons already, but still need to find a new job to hopefully land in before they get wherever they are going.

Whatever your reasons for searching out of state, it’s important to know that an out of state job search can sometimes take longer to fulfill. The reality is, most hiring managers would just prefer to hire somebody already in state if given the choice. Not only does it save them the hassle, but it also means they don’t have to worry about getting saddled with relocation costs.

So if you heart is set on relocation, for whatever reason, how do you make your resume stand out in a way that convinces hiring managers you are worth the hassle?

 

If You Are Already Planning on Moving, Make That Clear

First and foremost, if this is a move that is already happening for personal reasons – make that abundantly clear. In fact, if you already have a move date and new address lined up, you may want to actually use that new address on your resume. By doing so, hiring managers won’t immediately discount you when they see an out of state post code. If you don’t yet have a new address, you can still use your resume to let hiring managers know that a move is imminent by putting “Relocating to —– on ——.” In this way, you are communicating that a move is absolutely happening, letting them know you aren’t technically an out of state hire so much as a hire who just hasn’t landed home yet.

 

Use Your Cover Letter

If you’re not already planning to move, but are instead simply searching for out of state opportunities (and planning to relocate wherever you are offered a job) you can use your cover letter to explain why you are a candidate who is worth overlooking in-state applicants for. Remember, you need to be the cream of the crop if you are going to convince hiring managers to bring you on board from out of state, so you really need to highlight exactly what you have to offer. You should also use your cover letter to express your absolute willingness to relocate, perhaps by citing a few things about the area you would love to embrace. For instance, if you live in a cold climate and the new job would be somewhere warm – don’t be afraid to mention how happy you would be to get away from snow shoveling in the winters.

 

Be Easy to Interview

Let’s be honest: going through the hiring process with out of state applicants is just more work for hiring managers. They either have to set up web cam interviewing (which can be a pain, and often feels impersonal) or actually fly you in to meet with the big wigs (which can be expensive). You want to make those options as easy as possible, perhaps even by offering to fly yourself in for an interview that you would be especially interested in. If you think your out of state status might be holding them back from considering you further, be willing to bend over backwards to show them that status isn’t an issue. Not only will you be showing them how genuinely interested you are in the position, you’ll also prove to be a big sigh of relief for hiring managers that were preparing themselves for a lot of extra effort on your behalf.

 

 

 

Close to Retirement and Out of a Job

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Today, it isn’t at all uncommon for people to move from job to job every few years. A lot has changed since the days when people used to stay working in the same position and for the same company from their first day of work until retirement, and most hiring managers are understanding of the fact that resumes will often reflect multiple job changes for applicants now. So long as those changes aren’t occurring too sporadically, it can even be seen as a strength when you have varied experience as a result of those shifts.

But the closer you get to retirement, the more advisable it may be to stay working for the same company. That’s because as much as we all hate to admit it, and as illegal as it may be, age discrimination does occur, and it can sometimes be harder to find a new position when you have a retirement on the horizon. As understanding as hiring managers are of previous job changes, they aren’t usually as keen to hire someone who they know up front will only be around for the short term.

So whenever possible, staying the course is usually a good idea as retirement nears. But when you don’t have a say in the matter, how can you boost your chances of avoiding that discrimination and landing a new job?

 

Rely On Your Reputation

If you are nearing retirement, that likely means you have spent decades building up a reputation in the industry and making a ton of networking contacts along the way. Now is the time to fall back on all of that hard work you have put in up to this point. Reach out to those in your network and let them know you are looking. Contact managers you have worked for in the past, those who had a favorable opinion of you and are more likely to keep you in mind for any openings they have now. And don’t be afraid to ask for references and recommendations from the people most likely to sing your praises. The one benefit you have on your side is more connections and experience then the other applicants you are competing against – so use those things to your advantage.

 

Look to Startups

Newer companies in your industry are likely trying to create a corporate culture and find a foothold among more established corporations. Many may be open to your experience, and even to your limited timeline left in the workforce, as they work to build their own reputation and establish themselves in the industry. You may actually find you could achieve a higher position in these corporations, and take on a strong leadership role as new policies and ways of doing the work are being created. While this can sometimes mean taking a pay cut, it could be the opportunity to provide truly valuable insight and to spend your last years before retirement feeling respected and validated in your work.

 

Know the Value of a Recruiter

A respected recruiter in your industry is going to have insider information on the upcoming openings that could be a good fit for you. They are also going to be in the position of being able to talk up your experience to hiring managers before you ever walk through the door. Even if you have never worked with a recruiter before, now may be the time to do so.

 

Consider the Alternatives

The workforce is changing, and not every job has to be a standard 9 to 5. It is possible that your experience could make you the perfect candidate for contract positions, where you serve as a consultant or freelancer to companies who aren’t in a position to hire full time employees. If you’ve ever wanted to work for yourself, this may be the time – and alternative work arrangements can provide the ability for you to do just that, often making your own schedule and setting your own rate of pay.

 

 

 

Networking in a Way that Counts

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We all know that networking is important when it comes to advancement in ones career. It’s advice that has been given and passed down for as long as most of us have been in the workforce.

Network. Network. Network.

But what is often missing in that advice is tips for how to network effectively. Because it isn’t enough to just hand out and collect cards, waiting until you have favors you need to call in. If you want to network in a way that actually pays off, you have to make a deeper commitment than that.

 

Give More Than You Hope to Receive

People who struggle the most with networking are those who go into it thinking only of what they have to gain. The truth is, most people can see right through disingenuous networking attempts; they know if you are only talking to them because you want an “in” at their corporation. So if you want networking to actually work for you, you have to be willing to give a little as well – often to give more than you hope to get back. Be the type of person people want to network with. Make introductions to others within your circle, think of people you have networked with in the past when you hear about openings at your own corporation, and be an asset to those who reach out to you. Do all of this, even when you don’t know where a networking relationship may lead. Because the more you give, the more likely others are going to be willing to help when you need to fall back on your networking circle.

 

Be Genuine With the Contacts You Already Have

Instead of pushing forward in a constant drive to make new networking contacts, adopt a philosophy of quality over quantity and spend time genuinely nurturing the networking connections you already have. If new networking opportunities come up, you should absolutely embrace them, but otherwise – turn your focus towards building the relationships you’ve got today. Because having a handful of deeper connections will almost always prove more beneficial than having a plethora of shallow networking contacts.

 

Pass Along News

One way to keep those networking connections alive is to pass along news, either about the industry or company openings, which you think might be beneficial to others within your network. Whenever possible, personalize those bits of information – sending a few separate e-mails, if you must, so that each person you tell about an opening you just heard about will feel as though you have personally gone out of your way to think of them. And when you come across a bit of news that seems applicable to several different members of your networking circle, use that as an opportunity to make introductions – letting everyone on an e-mail thread know that you are sending this news to them because you are all in the same industry, or have a similar interest in what is being discussed.

 

Don’t Look for Shortcuts

Again, simply going out and asking for cards is not what networking is all about. Like all relationships, networking contacts take time to build and nurture. Go into these connections knowing that, and be willing to put in the time and effort to make those connections valuable. There is no shortcut to networking, and no way to simply cherry pick those who may be able to help you years down the line. You can’t see the future, and you don’t know which contacts may be best able to help you out later on. So instead of waiting until you need that help, and then trying to rush those connections with people in a position to provide it, cast a wider net earlier on and focus on taking the time to build up those networking relationships with those that bite before you need the help.

When Your Boss is a Jerk

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We’ve all been there; working under someone we don’t like or respect. A boss who delegates everything, comes in late and leaves early, and spends most of his time at work shamelessly hitting on the secretarial staff. Or one who micromanages your every move and uses shame and degradation as a managerial style. The possibilities are endless, but the conclusion is the same:

Your boss is a jerk.

So how do you deal?

Consider the Direct Approach

Any HR professional will tell you that directly approaching an inferior superior is sometimes the best way to resolve potential conflicts. After all, perhaps they aren’t aware of how their current management style is reflecting upon them or hurting productivity in the office.

This is an “in a perfect world” solution. Yes, in a perfect world, you would be able to sit down with your supervisor and review your complaints. The two of you would have a big heart-to-heart, come to see each other as people (and not just employee and employer) and begin making strides towards having a better working relationship.

But in the real world, the direct approach is one that is a hard to pull off well and doesn’t always yield the results you may be looking for – particularly when your boss actually is a jerk. So take an honest look at yourself, your supervisor and your situation, and ask if you think the direct approach will work for you. If so, schedule a meeting and show up prepared to have a calm and rational conversation. But if not – move on to the next tip.

 

Document Your Issues

Start a log where you document all the behavior your boss exhibits that feels inappropriate or non-conducive to a productive work environment. Try to do this over at least a month. Then, look back on your complaints and ask yourself if they really seem so egregious in hindsight. Are they issues that you could, perhaps, be doing something to curtail (for instance, if your boss reacts poorly to your being late – even though he is often late himself – is the solution that you should start working harder to be on time, and worrying less about when he arrives?)

Sometimes it can help to share your list with a friend or relative who does not otherwise know your boss, as well. That outside perspective can give you the insight into whether the behaviors your boss is exhibiting are truly out of line, or if they are simply representative of a clash of personalities between the two of you.

 

Make a Visit to HR

Keep in mind that filing a complaint with HR is a big deal and has the potential to really affect another person’s career. And while most companies have policies regarding your privacy when talking to an HR representative, as well as prohibiting retaliation – it is also always a risk that you could come out of the other end of an official complaint having done nothing more than creating an even further divide between you and your boss.

That said, sometimes that risk is absolutely worth it and one you need to take. If you are at that point, schedule a meeting with a member of your HR team who you trust, and show up with your list of documented incidents to discuss. Know that an official complaint typically leads to retraining rather than a complete dismissal (depending on the severity of the issues you are bringing up) but a good HR person will work to ensure you are more comfortable in your working environment.

 

Keep Your Options Open

Should all else fail, remember that you are not required to stay in your current position. Start looking for opportunities to be promoted from within at your organization, to transfer to different departments, or to interview for openings at other companies all together. Again in a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to be the one who has to leave – but if your boss truly is a jerk, and there seems to be no way to ease the situation; looking elsewhere may just be the best and healthiest decision you could make.

 

 

When, and How, to Explain Gaps in Your Resume

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Re-entering the job market after an extended absence can be a scary thing. They say that the best time to find a new job is while you are still currently employed, and there is a lot of truth to that – hiring managers tend toward applicants who have a current work history, and the longer that gap in your employment – the harder it can be to convince them you are still relevant and valuable, no matter what industry you are in.

So, yeah, filling out an application when you have a good chunk of time unaccounted for can be nerve wracking. But knowing when and how to address that elephant in the room can make all the difference in terms of your chances at landing that job.

 

On the Cover Letter

When your resume boasts a lot of experience, but also reveals a solid span of time where you were unemployed, one of the first things you may want to consider doing is changing up your resume format. Instead of using the standard chronological format, which will only further highlight the gaps in your employment, consider redrafting your resume in a functional format – highlighting your skills and abilities, as opposed to your job titles and dates of employment.

Even with a chronological format, you will still be listing those titles and dates on the resume – they are just typically reduced to bullet points at the bottom, allowing your skills and expertise to get the bulk of the attention. But if you have a gap of a year or longer, it’s likely a hiring manager will still notice. So in those cases, you will want to address the gap on your cover letter. Keep your explanation brief and gear the bulk of the cover letter to your capabilities, but add a sentence or two pertaining to your extended leave from the work force, ending on a note of excitement and preparedness to return.

 

In the Interview

If your leave was less than a year long, don’t address it on the cover letter. Utilize the functional resume format, use your cover letter to address what you have to offer, and trust that if the hiring manager does notice your gap in employment – they will choose to address it during the interview, rather than allowing it to be a complete deal breaker.

 

Be Prepared

They will bring it up, though, regardless of whether or not you have addressed your employment gap on your cover letter. So be prepared for that – the question about what you did with your time away from the workforce will come up. And how you answer that question will make a difference in whether or not you move on to the next level of potential hires.

 

Be Honest

Under no circumstances should you try to pretend as though your leave was something it wasn’t. If you spent 18 months traveling the world on an inheritance you received, or if you opted out of the workforce when you had children, out of a desire to stay home with them, be honest about that. Obviously, there are some details that don’t need to be shared (keep your stories about drunken beach nights to yourself), but don’t make up a story that you think sounds better, just because you are afraid of admitting the true reason you took time off. Interviewers appreciate honesty, and anyway – they will find out if you say you spent that time building houses in Costa Rica, when in reality, you were just riding out the last of your severance pay while watching talk shows on your couch. A positive spin is one thing, but a bold-faced lie will only hurt you in the end.

 

Be Confident

Own how you spent your time away from the workforce and don’t shy away from talking about it, but also be confident in what you have to offer now. Talk about how that time you spent taking care of your ailing parents taught you responsibitliy and loyalty, while also reminding you how ready you are to return to the workforce. Or explain what you learned about commitment while hiking some of the tallest peaks in the world. Know what you have to offer, and don’t be afraid to discuss it in relation to that time you took off. Because it is sometimes the road less traveled that leads to the best learning experiences, and you never know when you will come across a hiring manager who truly appreciates your unique perspective on life and business.

 

 

 

Succeeding as a Woman in Leadership

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Great strides have been made for women in business over the last several decades. We are seeing more and more women in leadership, and are even witnessing the rising public respect given to these women in power (think: Sheryl Sandberg). But that doesn’t mean reaching those heights is easy, or that women have an equal opportunity to get there. The reality is, women are still making an average of 70 cents for every dollar men make, and those same men still make up the majority of those in boardroom meetings today. But that doesn’t mean change isn’t an ever-present goal, or that there aren’t opportunities for intelligent and motivated women to continue being successful in leadership positions. And the good news is, several of those women who have already found the most success in leadership have been opening up in recent years about how they accomplished their own goals.

Believe in Yourself

Kanya King, founder and CEO of the MOBO Awards, has said that she believes one of the biggest factors of success for women is having that self confidence to believe in themselves. Allow your passion to drive you, shape goals that you can see yourself striving towards, and then… keep aiming in that direction, no matter how long it takes. Never give up. If you trust in yourself enough, and are willing to beat down every door in the pursuit of your endeavors, those goals are within your reach. But you have to be willing to fight for them. For women to find success in business, they can’t allow that voice in the back of their heads convince them they aren’t good enough. They have to believe in themselves and their value, and be willing to fight to prove that value to others as well.

Empower Each Other

It may seem sometimes as though success in business is a cutthroat thing, but for women to be able to make their mark – they need to be open to making allies and advocating for the success of other women as well. Amy Schulman, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Pfizer, said in a New York Times article that, “Women can and should do a better job of helping one another to be in that transactional forum, and to get over the anxiety that we’re going to be found wanting on the wrong side of that equation.” What’s that “transactional forum” she’s talking about? Basically, she means that women should be willing to help each other out – to exchange favors, lift each other up, and support the success of other women in their peripheral, in the hopes that they will receive the same support and favors in the future when they most need it. Now, can you grantee as a woman that you will get back what you give out in terms of supporting those who might otherwise be your competition? No. But you certainly stand a better chance of receiving that support if you are genuinely willing to provide it first. And empowering other women in their success opens more doors for you to find the same.

Think Outside the Box

Michelle Gass, President of Starbucks, was presented with the idea of a Frappuccino sans any marketing or growth plan. Just a drink… nothing more. And yet, she turned it into a $2-billion sensation. How? Well, she was willing to think outside the box. She first walked out of the boardroom and went straight to the customers, providing samples and asking questions. She visited the shops that might have otherwise been deemed Starbucks’ competitors in relation to this brave new world of blended coffee, and paid attention to how they drew their customers in. She envisioned what the product could be, and then held firm when naysayers within the company questioned the frugality of investing in the promotion of something so different. And look what her willingness to think outside the box produced today. Being a successful woman in leadership is absolutely possible, and the rewards are numerous; but you have to be willing to work to prove you are worthy of that success first. Are you?

Bouncing Back From a Layoff

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We keep hearing that the economy has bounced back. That unemployment rates are down and companies are thriving once more. And for the most part, this is all true – we are certainly better off today than we were seven years ago. But that doesn’t mean some companies aren’t still struggling, or that layoffs aren’t still happening. Because they are, and if you are reading here now – you have very likely been a recent victim of a round of layoffs at your own company.

Perhaps you’ve worked for the same people for 20 years. Or maybe it was a relatively new job and you hadn’t quite found your niche yet. Either way, getting laid off is a shock to the senses for everyone. And there is typically a bit of a grieving process that accompanies losing a job through no fault of your own.

It can be tempting to ride out that severance package and enjoy a little time off, allowing yourself to work through the grieving, while also taking advantage of days that aren’t dictated by a work schedule. But the longer you remain unemployed – the harder that gap on your resume can be to explain, and the more difficult it becomes to get hiring managers to take you seriously. They say the best time to look for a new job is while you are still employed. But short of that – you should be looking as close to your layoff date as possible. You need to strike while the iron is hot and get proactive about the job search today, if you hope to bounce back and come out ahead.

Reach Out to Your Network

You have been networking all these years for exactly this type of occasion. You’ve made connections in the industry, done favors for others in the past and created an environment where people know you and like working with you. Take advantage of that! Reach out to your network and let them know about the recent layoffs at your company. Then ask them to let you know if they hear about any openings at the companies they work for, or anywhere else for that matter. Make your job search known, and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations and referrals.

Connect with an Industry Recruiter

Depending on the industry you work in, you may find that your best bet is working with a recruiter who is already aligned with some of the top companies. Many organizations today are utilizing recruiters to put them in touch with the best candidates, and these recruiters are paid specifically for connecting you with those organizations – so if you can market yourself to them as a valuable candidate, they can ensure you are at the front of the line for upcoming opportunities.

Get Busy

Don’t just sit around, soaking up all this free time you now have. Yes, the idea of sleeping in and focusing only on the job search is tempting – but it can also create a rut you fall into fairly quickly. Instead, work to get up at the same time every day as you would have for your old job. Then, find things to do with those extra hours. Create a schedule and stick to it, including activities like working out, volunteering and job searching every day. Getting out, active and busy will keep you in the right frame of mind, and it may also create opportunities for you to network with people who could help you get a foot in the door at your dream company.

Consider Career Coaching

Maybe this recent layoff has you reconsidering the path you have been on. Perhaps the job you lost wasn’t ever really your dream job, or maybe you aren’t where you thought you would be at this point. A career coach can help you to reconsider your options, and to figure out which direction to go from here. It could be that this layoff is a blessing in disguise – and that the next step in your career will be one you will find true fulfillment in.

Pursuing a Writing Career and Finding Success

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As a career coach, I work with people who have dreams and aspirations that fall into nearly every category. I also work with a lot of people who fear their dreams and aspirations are not attainable – and so they fall into careers that are just jobs, focused solely on paying the bills as they allow those dreams of theirs to wilt and fall away.

This is perhaps never more true than for those who secretly (or not so secretly) harbor a dream of writing for a living.

Did your ears just perk up, as you realized I am talking directly to you? The good news is: writing for a living is not an impossible dream. Particularly in today’s climate, where self-publishing is a growing venture and blogs are becoming money making platforms. But you have to be smart about harnessing that talent of yours and turning it into a career. Here’s how:

 

Walk Before You Run

There are so many different schools of thought when it comes to pursuing a dream, but in terms of writing for a living – quitting your day job and diving in headfirst probably isn’t the best way to go. Yes, you can and should pursue your dreams. Absolutely! But if that dream is writing, you need to recognize that establishing yourself, building a reputation and acquiring long-standing clients (or finishing and polishing that novel) take time. You need to have a steady stream of income while you work towards that dream, otherwise you are likely going to fall flat on your face. So take the leap by committing to this dream (starting a blog and working to bring in freelance work) but not by throwing in the towel on everything else right away. Know that it can take years to get where you want to be, and be willing to spend the time necessary to get there.

 

Expand Your Vision

Perhaps you imagine writing for a living to entail penning novels on the deck of your very own lake house. That is certainly a dream to aspire to, but don’t limit your hopes of writing to just that. In the meantime, recognize that there are plenty of career opportunities that will allow you to flex your writing muscle, even if not in the creative capacity you yearn for. Plenty of companies and industries require technical writers, and most organizations can use a strong writer on their Human Resources team – for company memos and training programs. Sure, these may not sound like what you always dreamed of, but they can be a step in the right direction towards calling yourself a writer. Consider checking out TheLadders.com. As a comprehensive career resource for professionals, they take pride in being able to assist any demographic with their career, no matter what the field. Which means they have the resources to help you parlay your writing skills into an actual career while you work on that novel on the side.

 

Thicken Up Your Skin

It’s important to understand that writing is a field filled with rejection. Not everyone will like what you have to say or how you say it. In fact, you will face rejection far more often in this field than you will praise – especially in the beginning. If you let those doors in your face convince you that you aren’t meant to succeed in this career, than you won’t. So toughen up and learn to believe in yourself and your writing. You can always pursue writing courses and groups to help improve upon your craft, but don’t let the rejection get you down.

 

Don’t Lose Sight of What Matters

When pursuing a writing career, it is easy to get caught up in the dream. You start focusing all of your free time on the pursuit of that dream, and you forget about the other things in life you used to care about. This is normal, and that passion is something to embrace, but it isn’t a state of being to strive towards on any kind of long-term basis. Remember that the best writers tend to pull from real life, and those real life experiences and relationships are what will inspire and motivate you to be a better writer. So continue to live your life in addition to pursuing the dream; because you need the one in order to be successful at the other.

 

 

Weathering the Storm

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The last 10 years have seen a lot of changes within the job market. 2008 marked an economic downturn that found far too many people without jobs, or afraid to leave jobs they hated for fear of being unable to find a new position.

While the economy has bounced back, there are still some industries, companies and geographical locations that are struggling, or that will in the years to come. Layoffs, pay freezes, and restructuring are far from being things of the past, and it is always possible you could be facing tough times in your current job.

Nobody wants to find themselves unemployed or awash amidst a terrible job situation. But how do you weather the storm and make it through those career struggles relatively unscathed?

 

Boost Morale

When a company is struggling, everyone working there feels the pain. Fears of being laid off can poison a work environment, making it difficult for everyone to perform at their best; which is, of course, especially unfortunate when a company clearly needs their employees working at 100 percent to get back to a successful place.

Employees who are able to push past that fear, and encourage others to do the same, can quickly become irreplaceable. You can be the company MVP by finding ways to boost morale around the office. Even just maintaining a positive attitude and being pleasant to be around during times of strife can make a difference. But if you are able to keep spirits high, especially when there are plenty of reasons for morale to be low, the difference you make won’t go unnoticed.

 

Be a Team Player

If you are hoping to avoid the next round of layoffs, one of the best things you can do is make yourself invaluable. Beat your deadlines, pay attention to detail, focus on producing quality work, and… be the team player your company needs you to be right now.

When companies are struggling, they tend to reduce down to a skeleton crew. Which means that some jobs aren’t getting done, and others are being done only superficially. It is during these times, especially, that you don’t want to be caught playing solitaire at your desk. Instead, capitalize upon any free time you may have by offering to help your co-workers and taking on extra tasks that need to be done. Genuine team players tend to hold on to their jobs longer when those layoffs come around, and their hard work and dedication is remembered when things start looking up and promotions become available again.

 

Hedge Your Bets

Yes, you want to remain loyal to your company and do what you can to help them stay afloat. But sometimes, you also have to be willing to recognize the writing on the wall. If things seem to be heading south, now is the time to brush up your resume and start reaching out to your networking connections.

It doesn’t mean you have to jump ship right away, but putting feelers out and remaining open to what else might be available could mean the difference between transitioning smoothly into a new role, and being left out in the cold. So don’t be afraid to keep an eye out for openings elsewhere, or to submit an application when something else worthwhile comes along. Just remember to be discreet about it when you do.

It is almost always easier to find a new job when you are currently employed – so don’t wait until you find that pink slip on your desk to start looking for new opportunities.

 

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