GUEST POST: Keep your head and hold out for the right job for your career

12 06 2012

This guest post is contributed by Colleen Harding is a staff writer for Bachus & Schanker .

With the economy so often in the news, it is tempting to jump at the first job you’re offered; but that may be the wrong move for your long-term success. Ask yourself these questions before signing on to any team, and you’ll be happier, more productive, and more impressive to future employers.

  • Does this job have a future?

If your prospective job doesn’t have a clear path for professional advancement, you should already be planning your next step. How will you use this job to get training, experience, and connections that you can leverage into a better position? If you can’t see how it will accomplish those goals, you should seriously consider holding out for something better.

  • Is the job a good fit for my skills and abilities?

This is one of the hardest pieces of the puzzle; you don’t want a job that you can’t do well, but you also don’t want to find yourself sleepwalking through a job that is beneath your ability. One of the best ways to ensure a good fit is to be absolutely honest and thorough with your resume. Be sure to include every relevant skill and ability you possess, but never lie about or exaggerate your qualifications. A dishonest resume might land you a better paycheck in the short run, but a little extra money won’t be worth the stress and embarrassment of being in over your head.

  • Are the benefits suitable for your needs?

Depending on your future plans and family situation, benefits might need to weigh in your decision-making as much as salary. If you have children or are planning on having children in the near future, make sure that your job’s benefits will provide the health care they need. Average healthcare costs in the US are around $8,000 a year, so if your family is not insured, it might make sense to push more urgently for benefits than you would for a salary increase.

  • Make sure you can handle the hours and commute

If you’re torn between two job offers, think carefully about your commute. If you’ve been offered a job with downtown, for example, consider the cost of your commute—apart from gas and wear and tear on your car, if you have an hour commute to and from work, you can spend ten or more hours of your week just getting to work, with no compensating benefit. If your prospective job involves a long commute, do the math and work out whether you’re really making more money, or just working longer hours.

  • Do you want the lifestyle the job offers?

If you’re considering a promotion to management or some other position of higher responsibility, don’t assume it’s a better fit for your temperament and lifestyle. Many workers fall victim to the “Peter Principle”—they are so competent and effective in their lower-level responsibilities that they are promoted to responsibilities they don’t want. The skills required to be a great programmer or salesperson are not the same as the skills required to manage programmers and salespeople. If you don’t like the thought of being accountable for the mistakes of others, or having to motivate co-workers to perform, then a promotion to management may not be worth the ego boost.

  • Are you headed toward something, or away from something?

Many workers look for a new job because they feel stagnant, trapped, or unappreciated in their current work environment. While you definitely don’t want to stew in a job with no future, make sure there’s no opportunity for growth within your current job structure. If you get along with your co-workers and your supervisors, and feel like your boss would give you a fair hearing, it may make more sense to get a little more bold in asking for a promotion within the company, rather than seeking new employment altogether. A new employer is a roll of the dice in a dozen different respects, so make sure you’re prepared for it.

About The Author

Colleen Harding is a staff writer for Bachus & Schanker; a personal injury lawyer on topics relating to employment, labor and state law. Her passion for the legal realm started with a job as a Legal Aid and continued when she accepted a role as a Human Resources Coordinator for a mid-sized U.S. manufacturing company. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.

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GUEST POST: Going from College Life to Real Life

12 06 2012

This guest post is contributed by Barbara Jolie, a freelance writer and full time blogger. You can reach her at barbara.jolie876 @ gmail.com

The adaptation required of a college graduate goes beyond the transition from academic work to career success. There are major social factors as well. Here are some things to consider:

The transition is slow. Chances are you will primarily associate with your college friends for the next few years, unless you move very far away (and even then, at this stage life has a way of pulling you back to where you started).

Nonetheless, things will not remain the same. Cultivate a kind of detachment about this, and expect that your social scene will evolve slowly over time, until you hardly recognize it. People change and move and get married, and your friends will not be immune to this tendency.

Don’t be offended or hurt when people drift out of your life for all practical purposes. This is normal. Give your old buddies the space to grow.

Use social media to keep up, but make sure you maintain a level of easygoing social activity in real life. Never stop making new friends. That said, Facebook is truly a marvelous tool for maintaining those older friendships. As the song says, “Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

Don’t expect your work relationships to operate in the same way as your friendships from school. If you’re lucky, you truly will make some valuable friends out of your co-workers, but don’t be surprised if this remains on a more casual level. Don’t be too shy at work either though; these are, after all, the people you’ll be seeing every day for the foreseeable future, and possibly for a long time. (I would say “the rest of your life,” but who in our generation ever expects to hold the same job for so long?

As the years pass, you may find it necessary to drop many habits you’ll have retained from college. One important example is drinking: many people continue to drink the way they did in college, into their 30s and beyond. This is also known as alcoholism. Consider slowing down. At some point, your body will make it clear to you that you must anyway. Don’t wait until then to pursue a more mature and healthy lifestyle.

As another example, you’ve probably become used to (often cheap and unhealthy) food that someone else cooks. Learning to keep your apartment well-stocked with groceries, and learning to budget and cook will take time. Keep up an exercise regimen if you have one, and if not, adopt one.

Take it slow when it comes to romantic relationships. There will be a natural tendency to panic as college recedes in the rearview mirror and meeting people to date seems more and more rare, difficult, and awkward. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet a life partner. Let it happen. Have fun.

Barbara enjoys sharing her knowledge on accredited online college classes and online education with her blogging community.





GUEST POST: Why You Should Consider a Gap Year

12 06 2012

This guest post is contributed by Dana Vicktor, a senior researcher and writer for duedatecalculator.org. 

More and more universities are encouraging students to take a year off after high school before starting college in what is known as a gap year. College graduates can also take a year off before starting work – an intentional year off, not just unemployment forced by the economy.

Whether a gap year is taken at the start of college or the end – and whether you spend it traveling, volunteering, working overseas, or just reflecting on your goals – there are several benefits it can offer. Here’s why you should consider taking a gap year:

 Define Your Goals

School and work can consume so much of our focus that we lose sight of why we are doing what we’re doing. Sure, you go to college to get a degree so you can get the job, and you get the job so you can make money to live. But you may not know what you really want to do with that degree and what type of work you’d like to perform.

 A gap year can help you to focus on what you really want to do with your life. It can help you answer questions about what kind of work you want to do, where you want to live, and what you want to accomplish in your life.

 Build Your Resume

There are a number of ways that you can spend your gap year that will build your resume and boost your career prospects: You can teach or work overseas. You can volunteer locally or abroad. You can travel for pleasure. You can even spend the time doing nothing, reflecting on your goals.

 These activities can help you boost your confidence and increase your skills. Prospective employers will also be impressed by volunteer experience or time spent overseas. These activities will show that you are dedicated, adaptable, and self-directed.

 Try Again

 If you applied for college but didn’t get in, taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to try again in a year after you have built up your resume. If you have graduated from college and are unable to find work, taking a gap year gives you the chance to redefine your career goals and boost your resume with applicable experience.

 The key is to engage in activities during your gap year that will help your efforts. Volunteer in a position that is compatible with your chosen profession. Find part-time work that will give you the experience you need. Learn a language that will make you more marketable.

 However you spend your gap year, there are many benefits for you personally and professionally. You can use the time to broaden your horizons, learn more about yourself, and define your goals for your future. It also gives you the opportunity to have experiences that help your career or academic prospects.

 Did you take a gap year before or after college? How did you spend the year, and how did it help you? Tell us about it in the comments!

 

Dana Vicktor is the senior researcher and writer for duedatecalculator.org. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in communications and sociology. Her current focus for the site involves symptoms of pregnancy and next maternity.








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