Considering a New Job?

It seems that the larger U.S. companies are gearing up for more mass hirings. What does that mean for you? If you’re searching for a job, your next one may be just around the corner. If you’re still employed, but doing the job of three employees, maybe there is a better place for you out there.

If you have done your homework and are lucky enough to land a job interview, here is something to consider: You are not the only one being interviewed at this interview. That’s right. The company and the supervisor should be interviewed by you to determine if this situation is going to be the right one for you. How do you do that? By asking astute questions in a respectful manner. You will usually be given time during an interview to ask you own questions, so be prepared beforehand. Devise questions that will help you to determine the company’s needs, as well as the supervisor’s needs. Know your skills well enough to be able to explain how you can help in this organization. Many companies are coming off huge layoffs. What’s the company policy on that? If they have to lay off more people, will it be last hired, first fired?

Some red flags to look for: The immediate supervisor is not included in the hiring process or is only allowed to meet with you for 10 minutes. Some companies will do this to minimize the damage a “difficult” supervisor can do in an interview — i.e. they really don’t want you to know how difficult her or she really is. A supervisor who is not included in the interview process does not have buy in on the decision to hire you. If you decide to take the job, you may find you have a less than supportive supervisor and may spend all of your time proving yourself instead of just doing the job. Can you work in this type of environment? You may feel as if you have no choice if you need the job. That is why learning the supervisor’s needs and how to meet them becomes so important in this situation. Why do companies keep these difficult supervisors around? Because difficult personalities aside, they continue to make the bottom line, and if you work for them, you will have to help them do this.

Another red flag: You need the job offer in writing. Period. The job offer specifies the length of employment, duties and compensation. If the company waffles on giving you a written job offer, consider what the reasons may be. This job may be posted as permanent, but perhaps the company only sees using you short-term. If that is the case, they should hire you as a contractor. The compensation may not be settled on their end, but they want you on board asap. Or the company may see this job changing drastically in the future and do not want to commit to putting duties that may change in writing. None of these are ethical reasons for not giving a written job offer. Do not start a job without a written job offer, even if the company tells you “it’s coming.”

Compensation: Some employers may see coming out of a recession as an opportunity to low-ball you when it comes to compensation, while others will jump at the chance to hire and keep high-quality talent. Know what you are worth. Research your industry salaries at salary.com, payscale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics or any other salary indicator that does their research on a regular basis. Do not negotiate salary just because you think you should. Some companies really cannot afford to pay top dollar right now. However, there are other aspects of a job offer that may be open to negotiation such as stock options, flexible work schedule, retirement plans, medical insurance, company car, educational benefits, etc. Consider your options carefully, and good luck in your search for a new job!

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(Mis)behaving at Work

The news is reporting that the number of new jobs is increasing and the number of unemployment claims, for the most part, are going down. However, there are still five job seekers for every job posted. While you may not be ecstatic with the job you have now, you should consider keeping it until the job outlook improves, if only to build up your career skills. Keeping your job may be more difficult than you think, as layoffs and downsizing are still occurring.  You ultimately do not make the decision as to whether you get downsized, but you can choose how you behave at work to maximize your chances of keeping your job. Here are some misbehaviors that may get you fired. While many of you may roll your eyes, don’t be surprised to find yourself doing some of these when you go back to work next week.

What can brown, green, blue, red, white do for you?

If these are the color of the illegal drugs you are doing while at work, they can totally get you fired and make it difficult to get rehired in your career field of choice. After all, networking isn’t just for job hunters. People network to stay current in their fields, including knowing who is and isn’t a good employee. If you are a recreational drug user who doesn’t have addiction problems, congratulations, you are a super(man) (woman). Leave your recreational pursuits at home.

Web surfing and social media

You may have an interesting job that requires you to surf the Web for research purposes. That’s great, but don’t abuse your Web privileges. Reading/sending personal emails, Skyping, updating Facebook and MySpace pages and booking personal travel reservations while at work may all be seen as stealing your employer’s time. You probably have a computer at home. Save these activities for your leisure time.

Texting, sexting and work dating

Smart phones make it easy for you to be always connected, always reachable. Don’t accept personal calls at work unless it is an emergency. Your cubicle mates do not want to hear the saga of your personal life, and your boss won’t appreciate it if your focus is not on the job. It is the same with flirting and sexting while at the office. Some companies have policies against dating at work, some don’t. Before you hook up with that hottie in the cubical next door, think about this — Are you willing to leave your job or still work with this person if: 1)the relationship doesn’t work out, 2)the ex-hottie turns into a stalker or 3)he/she wants to marry you and love you to his/her dying day — and you don’t? See what I mean? Why cause problems for yourself when you are trying to keep your job?

Whine and moan, whine and moan

Whining and complaining can get you a reputation fast — as in no one will want to work with you. Is there justification for complaining in this economy? You bet. If you’re still employed, you are probably doing the work of the last two people who got canned in addition to your own. This won’t change until the economy improves and companies start to hire again on a larger scale.  Compute this: We will not return to pre-recession hiring models. This means that while you may have a full-time, permanent job, the people hired on to take some of the burden off  you will likely be contractors, which can bring up a whole new set of challenges for you: repeated training, repeated up to speed times, repeated getting used to new employees, repeated everything.

If you are still hatin’ on your job, cheer up. As the economy heats up again, you will have more career wiggle room to change jobs. Who knows? You may even end up as a contractor and loving it.