Some jobs come with a company handbook and a strict set of guidelines regarding office hours, dress code, and sick days. But in today's business world, plenty of companies leave those parameters to the employee's discretion so long as the work gets done. Of course, we all seek to meet our employer's expectations and play by the unspoken rules. For the times you're embarking on a new job in which the handbook is less than detailed, we've rounded up eight things you can learn about your new office through simple observation.
List it out: Start by taking 20 minutes to list out the a total of a 100 items. Wise Bread suggests listing things you want to do, jobs you want, people you want to meet, and more. Don't restrain yourself and write down things that seem impossible to you. When you're done, leave the list alone for a while, then come back to it and try to piece ideas from it. Perhaps you'll find a career path you can really pursue from one of the items.
Online skills profiler: You can use this online tool by the Department of Labor that factors in the type of skills you possess and the level you're at, then it generates multiple jobs that suit your skills. You can then click on each occupation to see its profile and learn about how you can get the job, the median salary, what the job entails, and more.
Start a blog or YouTube channel: Don't be disheartened just because everyone seems to have a blog or a YouTube channel. Pick a topic that you're really interested in (anything from parenting to makeup), and start becoming an expert in that field by constantly writing or vlogging about it and getting to know others who cover the same things. Offer to guest blog for other sites to continue that exposure. A career might emerge from this side project.
Even capable, career-driven people need a leg up from time to time. Whether it's job advice from a former manager, a couple of industry tips from a colleague, or a pep talk from a friend, feedback and encouragement are crucial stepping stones to navigating to where you want to be in your career. There are a couple of tricks to asking for guidance, though, to ensure that you obtain the information you need and that you still come across as the polished and poised person that you are.
Provide some concise context.
Being asked for advice in a vacuum can be a frustrating experience for any adviser. Sure, she might know your current company and job title, but you shouldn't assume that she knows much more than that. Take a moment to frame up your situation and the problem you face. Briefly state your goal and the ways in which you have tried to achieve it. Providing a little context will help to steer her toward the subject matter you wish to cover and will guarantee that the conversation won't take more valuable time than it needs to.
Ask specific questions.
Even if you set up a contextual framework for your conundrum, the flow of the advice won't begin until you ask a question. Instead of posing a sweeping query like, "What advice do you have for me?" drill down to questions that get at the particulars of your circumstance such as, "What facets of my career should I work on to make myself more appealing for a promotion?" or, "How did you overcome setbacks to your career advancement?" Crafting questions specific to your situation will get you the guidance you need by providing your adviser direction on where you need help most.
When you're trying to establish a professional relationship with someone, it's very easy to turn a stranger off with professional no-nos. You can get away with a lot more once you develop a deeper relationship with the person and when you get a better feel of how that person works. Take heed of these rules when you're communicating with someone professionally:
- Try not to contact them after work hours unless it's asked of you: If the other party did not suggest a time to talk after work hours, don't call them after 6 or 7 p.m. unless it's an emergency or if the nature of your job requires you to contact them at night. There's nothing more frustrating than getting a 10 p.m. call to talk about work when it isn't urgent. Many of us like to clock out when work ends, so talking about job-related items can bring back unwanted memories of the daily grind.
- Leave their personal accounts alone: Don't contact them about work through their personal email, cell phone, Facebook, or chat when they haven't given you leave to do so. Most people don't like to mix their personal and professional lives, so don't corner them into doing it. However, if they engage you first through these accounts, it is OK to reply to them.
- Keep the punctuations and smiley faces to a minimum: When you don't know someone, it's a bit odd to add five exclamation marks at the end of the sentence and say things like "thank you a million times!" Don't overwhelm people before getting to know them. Being overenthusiastic can also come off as being insincere. Ease them into it.
- Give them time to reply: If you haven't heard back from someone, don't start bombarding them with emails, texts, and voicemail messages all in one day. Give them a little leeway and wait for them to reply you and try again the next day or even the next week if you have the time to wait.
- If they say no, don't push it: If they decline you, don't rephrase the same question and ask it again. The answer is no! Instead, give them time to mull it over, present the issue again at a later date, and change the terms to better suit them. The more you push them, the more they'll withdraw. Remember, you can't badger someone into agreeing.
- Don't backtrack: Plan what you're going to say and offer carefully. Don't say something, then backtrack and change your words. It's always better to start the relationship off slow because you can then decide how you want to progress based on the results you're seeing.
- Remember that their time is precious: Their time is very valuable, so carefully pick what kind of communication works best. Emails are generally less disruptive so if you can convey your message via email, opt for that form of communication first.
Education and intellectual growth shouldn't stop when the final bell rings and you walk across the stage to accept your diploma. Continuing brain development, mastering your chosen field, and sharpening your reading comprehension should be lifelong projects. Not only will it keep your brain active and sharp, but you'll have a leg up on the competition. You should learn something new every day, after all. Here are some ways to sneak smart activities into your tight schedule.
Whether you've been out of the workforce for a while or are looking to switch departments, DailyWorth has insightful advice for you. Read on as they make rebranding simple.
Time For a Reinvention?
How do you stay relevant in an ever-changing job market? Hint: it's not hard work.
RELATED: Is Your "But" Too Big?
Sure, you need to put in the hours and effort. But whether that translates to success has a lot more to do with how you’re perceived than how you're doing in your current role. If you want to rise to the next level, you may need a reinvention. The good news: that's not as hard as it sounds.
If you want a promotion at your job, then start performing the duties and responsibilities required at the next level, and work on doing different tasks. If you want to switch industries or roles, then start gaining the experience and knowledge needed for those brand-new positions. Take classes, freelance, or even offer your services for free just to gain the experience you need. For example, if you want to get into mobile development, then you should learn how to code using classes and online information and start attempting to make apps on your own.
Just remember: your track record speaks for itself!
- You're too new. If you haven't been at your company for too long, your supervisors can't really judge you and the quality of work you're producing. You need some time to prove your mettle.
- There is a timeline. Your company may have a strict timeline and structure on how it approaches promotions. Find out what it is so you'll have a better idea of how to map out your strategy. Ask your manager more about the promotion process, and ask more-experienced colleagues how it has worked for them.
- You're doing the same thing. If you've been stagnant and haven't been taking on new responsibilities or different duties, then your manager may think your current title is appropriate for what you're doing. Just because they aren't giving you more responsibility doesn't mean you should accept that. Show your colleagues you're growing as an employee and volunteer for duties that aren't necessarily in your job description.
- Your superiors aren't advocating for you. It's really important to have your superior become your advocate. After all, they are the ones who work closely with you and monitor your work, so their opinion has a lot of sway when it comes time for evaluation. And if your manager says you aren't ready, it can really hurt your chances of getting promoted. It's hard to work around this if your manager is not supportive, but try to win her over with your accomplishments or try your best to be more visible so people other than your manager can see the work you're doing.
It's simple to remove these buzzwords from your résumé, but there are also overused phrases people use at work that can be harder to correct. Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's career expert, says women tend to "rely on overused words in an effort to downplay their contribution." There is a certain safety in using buzzwords, which can stem back to a need to be liked and a fear of the perception of bragging.
"It's less threatening to say I'm 'creative' versus 'I envisioned and implemented a marketing strategy that increased sales by 70 percent,'" Williams says. Women need to carefully evaluate the overuse of certain words to see if it diminishes their achievements.
One word Williams notices women tend to overuse is "sorry." "Sorry" can make you seem less confrontational and more likeable, but it may make you look less assertive. Sound familiar to you?
We all love to learn, but sometimes classes can get expensive. Wise Bread shares a few ways we can continue our education for free.If you're still paying off your student loans (or soon will be), learning might feel like more of a chore than fun. The good news is that learning can be fun and free. Below is a list of 15 ways to learn something new at no cost. So take a look, go forth, and expand your mind!
1. Lowe’s and Home Depot Classes
Both home improvement headquarters offer free classes. Past classes at Home Depot have included lawn maintenance and bathroom workshops, and Lowe’s has partnered with Habitat For Humanity for Women Build — clinics dedicated to teaching women home improvement tips and tricks. Lowe’s also has a Build and Grow clinic geared toward kids. Check out your local store to see what they have coming up.
2. Grocery and Kitchen Store Classes
If you’re anywhere near a Williams-Sonoma, you’ll have the most options. They offer complimentary technique classes for everything from knife skills to braising. Of course, they’re trying to sell you a product, but you’re still going to learn something. Oh, and you’ll get a 10 percent discount in-store the day of the class. As for other grocery and kitchen stores, ask the manager if they have any events coming up or check out their website. Most of Publix’s classes are at a cost, but they might have a few for free!
YouTube is probably the easiest (but at times, the worst) place to learn on the Internet: people are really into YouTube tutorials nowadays. You can learn to play the ukulele, apply makeup, or sing like Lady Gaga, all in one convenient place. Of course, YouTube has its downsides (like if the person trying to teach you doesn't really know what they're talking about), but anything has to be better than Phoebe’s method of guitar lessons. And if you can't find something that strikes your fancy, just stay on the TEDTalks YouTube channel and let the ideas roll.