Career Switch Tactics That Won’t Sabotage Your Life

The days of laboring at the same job for 50 years in exchange for a party and a gold watch are long gone. Partly because it’s more acceptable to make a career switch, and partly because people realize they can live a different life, more and more employees are changing their careers at least once in their working lives.

Switching careers can sometimes be seen as a negative mark on your resume, though. Prospective employers may think you’re a job hopper, someone they can’t rely on, or someone who doesn’t know her own mind. Whatever the reason, switching careers can sabotage your life right along with your dream of succeeding in an entirely new career.

Are you looking to switch careers but don’t know how to manage it without ruining what you’ve already built up? Here are some ideas for successfully transitioning from one career to another.

Make the Change While You’re Still Employed

It sure is tempting to go out like a fireball a la Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire.” But unless you want to live through the middle of the movie—remember the part where there was no money for bills or insurance, and he was trying to hide his desperation?—you should resist the urge to tell your boss what he can do with his job.

Instead, go into stealth mode. You can easily get some job interviews lined up in the new area in which you’re interested in working. You can relax knowing that you still have a paycheck if the interview doesn’t lead to a job offer.

Be Prepared With Answers to Inevitable Questions

When your new prospective employer inevitably asks why you’re applying for a job in a new industry when you’re still employed, you’re going to have to come up with some convincing answers that don’t make you look bad. Here are some things you DON’T want to say:

  1. A) I’m bored at my current job.
  2. B) All the guys I work with are old. I need young blood around me.
  3. C) I think I’m about to be fired.
  4. D) I’m following my boyfriend who just got a job here.
  5. E) A fortune cookie told me to make a career change.

Now, here are some good alternative ways to answer that same question:

  1. A) I’m seeking fresh challenges and new ways to use the knowledge I’ve accumulated.
  2. B) I feel inspired by the millennial movement.
  3. C) My current job doesn’t allow me to grow.
  4. D) I have a vested interest in this city, and I’m ready to put down new roots.
  5. E) Er, there’s really no good way to spin your propensity to base your life on random events.

Connect the Two Fields

You want to somehow make it seem perfectly natural that you would move from one area of industry to another. If you do it right, your new prospective employer will be saying, “Yes, it makes sense that this brain surgeon would want to be a forest ranger in our park. So logical.”

Okay, so your first career is in marketing, where you excelled in improving your company’s prior bad reputation. They spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, and yet, thanks to your marketing genius, cars are now lining up around the block to buy gasoline from them at premium prices.

You really want to relocate to New York and get a competitive job on Wall Street, but you’re unsure how to make it look like a normal transition. Here’s one way.

You tell the interviewer that marketing has given you insights into how people think. By design, companies are made up of people making business decisions for marketing and personal reasons. Your marketing skills at predicting human behavior will make you an intuitive trader who will bring monetary success to your new job on Wall Street.

You see? Everything is connected. You just have to give it a little thought and you’ll be able to convince your new prospective boss that you’re a shoe in. Spend some time figuring out the connection between the two fields. Then be prepared to explain it in a reasonable way.

By the way—that brain surgeon who turned into a forest ranger? She kept her job at the hospital and interviewed on the weekend at the National Park. She told the interviewer how she was always interested in the differences between human and animal brains, and her love of the great outdoors. She is now a ranger in Colorado with a side business doing taxidermy for a local museum.

Life sometimes unveils unusual paths. Don’t be afraid to take them.


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How to Deal With Workplace Bullies

Are you being picked on at work, but feel unable to prove it or do anything about it? Workplace bullies operate differently than schoolyard bullies. Adult bullies at work won’t try to steal your lunch money, but they will try to steal your self-esteem, your dignity and your respect. Workplace bullies can make you feel threatened, humiliated, offended and intimidated. This pervasive threat that exists in at least half of all organizations, can lead to substance abuse, distrust, depression, loss of employment and violence.

What Shape Does Workplace Bullying Take?

In workplaces where bullying exists, almost 75% reported verbal abuse, about 62% reported behind-the-back gossip with intent to harm, and approximately one-half reported direct threats and intimidation.

In astonishing findings reported by the Society for Human Resource Management, 44% of organizations polled say that they do not have a workplace bullying policy in place, and they have no plans to put one in place for the future.

Bullying is an insidious poison that works to destroy those who are the victim, the perpetrators, and even the organization where it takes place. In a Canadian research study, those who work in a place where bullying occurs, even if they are not the intended target of the bullying, are more likely to quit in order to avoid the atmosphere of bullying.

How to Handle Workplace Bullies

Here are some tactics to handle workplace bullies, in ascending order.

Try to Reason With Them

You aren’t dealing with a child, even though the bullying behavior might make it feel like you are. In some cases, as an adult, rational conversation may smooth everything over.

Use non-emotional, non-judgmental words to communicate your dissatisfaction with the bullying behavior. Be prepared to recall specific incidents when the bullying took place. It is within the realm of possibility that the bully will stop the behavior once they realize how unacceptable it is.

Record the Instances

If the bullying continues, make a written record of the instances when it occurs, along with the situation. Keep a log that entails the time, date, who was present, what was said, what happened, and the duration. This log will provide valuable data for future steps that you may need to take to protect yourself. Keep the existence of the log and its location, private. Don’t tell the bully or bullies that you’ve started keeping track.

Report the Bullying to HR

Request a private meeting with your HR department and bring your log. Don’t surrender your log, but use it as a memory jog to help you recall dates and details. Ask the HR department to record the meeting in your employee record. Find out what action the HR department intends to take on your behalf. Be sure to log in your HR meeting in your record book.

Bring it to a Higher Level

If the HR department doesn’t stop the bullying, take your case to the next higher level of management. Without using threats, convey that your case is a serious one that needs to be addressed immediately. Ask the manager what action they will be taking. Again, record this meeting, along with details in your log.

Remain Calm and Patient

Although you’re the so-called “victim,” you don’t have to act like one. During all these proceedings, it’s important that you remain calm and patient. It can take time for upper management to make changes to take care of bullying. Don’t sabotage your own situation by acting out or being hysterical. Maintain a professional demeanor and proceed with business as usual. You have a powerful weapon in the form of your log, and in the end you will prevail.

Take Legal Action

If your organization continues to fail to support you, it’s time to take legal action. Bring your log to an attorney to discuss your options. Don’t hand over your log, but do allow the legal office to make a copy for their reference. Legal action is your best defense against a workplace bully when your own organization does not back you up.

Gather Personal Support

If you’re in a situation where you are experiencing workplace bullying, it’s important that you have some personal support at home while all this is going on. Bullying has a way of making you feel small and worthless. This is false thinking, and it will help immensely to have someone who knows you help you remember your value in this world.

Some ideas for support include: bullying support groups for adults, personal therapist, supportive friends, understanding spouse, and supportive family members. Don’t try to handle this all by yourself. Away from work, confide in someone who can give you a shoulder to lean on. At work, be the strong, capable person you are, and handle it in a professional manner with the objective steps as explained above. You can rise above workplace bullies.

How Geeky Became the New Sexy (And the Women We Can Thank For It)

Gone are the days of the stereotypical male geek with masking taped eyeglasses and ill-fitting plaid shirts. These days, geeky is the new sexy, and we have some very gorgeous and smart women to thank for it.

Elizabeth Holmes

When Elizabeth Holmes was a young girl, she exhibited signs of brilliance early on. Whereas many kids fall behind when their families move around a lot, Elizabeth seemed to thrive on experiencing different cultures in places like China, Texas, and Washington D.C. She followed in her ancestor’s footsteps and studied medicine and engineering at Stamford University, where she discovered her fear of needles.

Elizabeth Holmes went on to invent a new test that uses a few drops of blood from a finger prick instead of a needle injection to diagnose certain diseases. Ms. Holmes has altered the way we look at geeks, and we’re thankful for it.

Amal Clooney

When you think of a barrister, you probably picture an old man in a white wig shedding dust in a dark courtroom in London. What you can picture now, thanks to Amal Clooney, is a strong, beautiful woman who rules the London legal scene with just a hint of leg showing. Amal Clooney is a lawyer, activist and author who just happens to be married to the most handsome leading man in Hollywood, George Clooney. Amal is just as likely to be found listening to a litany of human rights violations as she is sipping champagne at a movie premiere in La-La Land. If this is what it means to be a geek now, sign me up.

Angela Ahrendts

With piercing blue eyes and silky ash blonde hair, Angela Ahrendts could be a model. But the only runway you’ll find her walking is the corridor of the Apple computer company. Ms. Ahrendts is Senior VP of the Retail and Online Stores of Apple. How did she get there? It wasn’t her looks, although she could have cashed in on those had she wanted to. She worked her way up through the ranks from ordinary Ball State University in Indiana, where she obtained her Marketing and Merchandising degree. She parlayed that into a position with Donna Karan, then Liz Claiborne and then Burberry, before bringing her savvy and beauty to the doors of Apple. It makes sense that someone as chic and elegant as Angela Ahrendts would represent a company as chic and elegant as Apple.

To all the women out there who used to feel that you had to hide your intellect behind a sexy façade, now you can have both. Make a statement like these amazingly intelligent women who have turned geeky into the new sexy.

3 Awkward Work Situations and How to Deal With Each

No matter how much you may love your job you sometimes encounter an awkward work situation that seems impossible to figure out. You’ve finally found your dream job, and now it’s probably ruined because of this stupid thing/person/situation. Don’t you just hate that?

Do not despair, fair damsel. You’re not the first person who has had to deal with awkward work situations, and you won’t be the last. Here are three awkward work situations and some suggestions on how to deal with them.

1. Your hot boss is hitting on you at work.

This situation is awkward because of the no sexual harassment rules, but let’s face it: it might not be altogether unpleasant. Nevertheless, it does make for tension at work that you could do without, especially since you’re trying to make a good impression on the job.

Courtney, an intern at a major aviation supplier in Florida, had this happen during her first three months on the job:

“At first, I was pretty nonchalant about it. This was my first real job, and I guess I thought maybe this was pretty common at big companies. He was really attractive, so I kind of flirted back a little. Then my coworkers started noticing it and treating me differently, and I realized I was being typecast, which wasn’t okay with me. I ended up confronting the guy about it, and he got really angry with me and denied everything. Then his attitude toward me went in the opposite direction. He made things more difficult for me while I was interning, but I stuck with it. I finally gained back my coworkers’ respect, and I just recently got offered a permanent position in a different department.”

Bottom line: Sexual harassment in the workplace is not cool, no matter how great-looking the guy is. It can damage your reputation and grind your career to a halt. Don’t tolerate it, and don’t engage in it. Although Courtney’s situation turned out well, it’s best to have a private conversation with an HR manager if you’re experiencing sexual harassment.

2. You got the promotion over your best friend.

Office friendships can be great, and some people might even say they’re necessary. But when one friend gets promoted over the other, the atmosphere can get chilly very fast. Here’s what happened to one person.

“My best friend from college and I both got hired at the same telecommunications firm. We were more than psyched, and for the most part, it’s been really fun having my best friend at work with me all day. But since I got this promotion and she (obviously) didn’t, it’s like she’s turned into a whole new person. Now, it’s like she’s on this campaign to turn all the employees—the same people I’ve been promoted to manage—against me. It sucks. I’ve lost my best friend, plus now it looks like I’m going to fail at being a manager.”

Bottom Line: Your best friend isn’t being a good friend. It’s important to realize it’s her issue, not yours. You got the promotion because you deserved it, and she didn’t. Her actions after the fact validate that she mightn’t have made a good manager, because her people skills aren’t the best, are they? You can attempt to solve this by taking her out one night and having a chat like in the old days. There’s no need to mention the “campaign.” She already knows about it. Just say how it’s too bad there was only one spot open, and how you’re sure next time it will be her turn to get promoted. Remind her why she liked you in the first place. Extend the olive branch and make it clear you don’t think you’re better than her. If she changes her attitude, that’s awesome and you can continue being her friend. If she doesn’t, you’ll need to deal with her in the same way you’d handle any insubordinate employee in your new role as manager. That’s too bad, but she created the situation, not you.

3. Your Co-Worker is Stealing From the Company

It sucks to discover information about somebody that could land them in trouble if people found out, or you in trouble if they find out you told. Just ask Edward Snowden what that feels like. Here’s a case that happened recently to someone I know.

“After work one night, my co-worker offered to give me a lift home so I wouldn’t have to wait for my boyfriend to pick me up. As I was getting into her car, I noticed some stuff on the back seat that had spilled out of her tote bag. I recognized it as some stuff from the office. There were binders with the company logo, mouse pads, pens—it was like she raided the supply closet. Basically, there was so much stuff back there she could have opened an office inside her car! I can’t decide if I should say something to my boss.”

Bottom Line: You don’t know the reason why your co-worker had all that stuff in her car. Yes, from all appearances, it’s likely she stole it, but you can’t convict a person on circumstantial evidence, and anyway, you’re not the judge. The best thing is to keep quiet on this. If someone asks you in the future if you’ve seen anything related to office theft, you can speak up then if you feel comfortable. Other than that, just stay mum.

Whatever awkward office situation you find yourself in, take a minute to really think about what to do, and what the consequences of your actions might be. Whatever you do, try not to have a kneejerk reaction that you haven’t thought through. If you approach the situation logically, you’ll be able to figure it out after all.

Do Your Help Wanted Ads Truly Resonate with Job Seekers?

As a recruiter, it’s your job to attract the most qualified job candidates to the positions you advertise. Do your help wanted ads truly resonate with job seekers? If not, it may be time to take another look at the way you advertise for jobs. Keep these tips in mind in order to create compelling job ads that will entice the best job recruits.

Create Compelling Titles

Your job ad title should do several things. It should express exactly what position you’re advertising for, it should be compelling, and it should stand out from your competitors. To fulfill the first item, make sure you include the job title in the ad title. To make the ad compelling, use language that is interesting, unique or urgent. To stand out from your competitors, give the title a creative spin that reaches above the mundane. Here is an example of a job ad that fulfills all three:

“Immediate Need for Marketing VP at Best-In-Class Org”

The use of the word “immediate” will get candidates excited that their application will be looked at quickly. Marketing VP explains the specific job position. Not every company can boast about being a best-in-class org, so this instantly sets this job ad title ahead of the competition.

Briefly Explain What the Company Does

Job candidates don’t want to apply for a position at a company where they can’t even figure out what they’re in business for. In a brief paragraph, explain what the company does. This should cover the basics. There’s no need to go into detail here. Details can be explained in person to your shortlist of candidates. Think broad brush strokes. Here’s an example of a good company description that does what it should:

“Fortune 500, privately-held marketing agency serves the advertising needs of medium and large business in U.S. and globally. Corporate headquarters on Madison Avenue with satellite locations abroad in China, U.K. and Switzerland.”

That’s it. If you do anything more than that, it should be integral to the understanding of the product or service that your company sells. Job candidates don’t need to know when the company was founded or how many times the stock split. For more ideas and 3 steps to creating a compelling job ad, see the article.


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Don’t Take Hiring the Right Sales People for Granted

Selling is a skill that not everyone has. Though a person can theoretically be trained to become a stellar salesman, there are some who cannot manage to close a deal no matter how many sales training courses they attend. There certainly does seem to be an invisible “something” that all good salespeople possess. Whether it’s an ability to read people, an instinct for knowing when to strike a deal, or something else, when you find the right sales person for your company, don’t let them go.

The Risks of Hiring the Wrong Salesperson

A salesperson goes out into the world and represents your company. When they meet with a potential customer, that customer unconsciously assumes that the salesman standing in front of them is representative of the people in the rest of your company. That’s one reason why you shouldn’t take the hiring of salesmen lightly.

If you hire the wrong salesperson, they can do untold damage to your business’s reputation. The repercussions may not be felt immediately, but they will come to light eventually. Poor salespeople come in different varieties, but here are some examples of how salesmen can go wrong:

  • Being disrespectful to your customers
  • Giving out wrong or inaccurate information about your products or services
  • Making cavalier promises or guarantees that aren’t backed by your company
  • Fabricating lies in order to make a sale
  • Breaking the law in order to get in the door of potential clients
  • Dressing in a sexual or suggestive manner
  • Using sexual manipulation in order to make a sale

If your salespeople are guilty of one or more of the above, they could be exposing your company to the potential for lawsuits and more.

Being Open to Different Kinds of Salespeople

Not everyone will go about making a sale in the same way, so you do have to be open to different approaches when it comes to making a sale, as long as it doesn’t resemble the methods mentioned above. For example, a new trend has evolved in sales training that incorporates the use of humor to engage attendees. Do humor and sales training go together? They might for some people. Many people respond to humor, and if your salesman utilizes clean humor to make a sale, it just might work for him. Others won’t appreciate the use of humor when they’re having a business discussion. The ideal situation would be to match the salesperson with the client. If you have a salesperson who makes most of their deals over a game of golf or at the bar, you can accommodate them as long as the client is responsive to it.

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Construction Careers for Women

According to the latest available statistics, only 9% of U.S. construction workers are women. Part of the reason for this low number is that in the years between 2007 and 2010, over 2.7 million construction jobs were lost. Due to the lack of work, it’s estimated that over 300,000 women left the construction industry. They are slowly returning, as the economy and construction slowly make a comeback.

Are there jobs for women in construction? The answer is a resounding yes. The kind of job that is suited for you depends on your physical strength and stamina, your skill set and other factors. Here are just a few construction job roles that a typical woman could fill.

Construction Supervisor

As a supervisor, it would be your job to make sure the project goes along as it should. Here are some duties that you would have as a construction site supervisor:

  • You would be required to make sure all your men get breaks according to the rules.
  • You would need to ensure that all site workers and visitors wear hardhats.
  • You would be responsible to make sure the equipment is serviced properly.
  • You would be responsible for site security during off hours.
  • You would need to make sure supplies are available when the workers need them.

There are lots of other duties associated with the construction supervisor job, and many of them would be specific to the type of project that is being built.

To become a construction supervisor, you would need to be educated in the construction industry, as well as having a certain number of years of experience in the construction trade. To find a job doing this, you should apply directly to construction and development companies.

Crane Operator

As a crane operator, you would be moving materials around on the construction site. You would also be placing heavy items that need to be lifted and placed atop completed structures. It would be your responsibility as the crane operator to help ensure that no one on the ground gets hurt. You would be working closely with the crane manager, who would help direct your crane activities from the ground.

To become a crane operator, you would need to get a special crane operator’s license in your state. You would need to be comfortable with heights and with moving heavy loads (even though the crane would be doing the lifting). The type of crane license you get would determine what size crane you are authorized to operate.

One big benefit of being a crane operator as a woman is that you wouldn’t have to be exposed to the other workers on the construction site who may try to take advantage of your nature. In other words, rude remarks would fall on deaf ears while you’re sitting high in the sky in your crane compartment.

It will be challenging to work in the construction industry as a woman, no matter how determined you are. The benefits definitely outweigh the cons, however, since women are underrepresented in this growing industry.


Take Technology to New Heights for Employee Productivity

According to a recent study conducted by Rypple, a human resources research firm, employees spend part of their workdays wasting time in four ways: trying to contact leads or fellow employees, seeking needed information about the company or next steps, repeating communications, and trying to organize meetings. Following are some answers that technology offers to combat these most common obstacles to employee productivity.

Trying to Contact Leads or Fellow Employees

Imagine if you had a giant list of people that you needed to contact each workday. You knew that your entire livelihood depended on getting in touch with those people. You also knew that if you failed, your paycheck would reflect that failure. Now imagine that every time you try to reach one of those people, you end up nowhere. You leave messages, but no one calls you back. You’re not even sure if you’re calling the right number or emailing the right address. You have no way of knowing if the other person is even getting your messages.

You would feel frustrated, right? You would feel like you’re spinning your wheels at work and getting no where. Eventually, you might feel that you’re not contributing to the company where you work, and that you’re not valuable. Your morale would suffer.

That’s what your employees can end up feeling when you offer them no way to manage communication with leads or colleagues. If you are serious about wanting to help your employees be more productive, read “Want to Help End Users Increase Employee Productivity? Unified Communications is the Solution!” There, you will find a comprehensive solution to the problem of employee non-productivity.

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Are Job Boards the Route to Take in Hiring Help?

Job boards offer many benefits to businesses seeking to taking in help, as well as benefits to employees look for work. But how employers gauge the effectiveness of job boards is another matter. Here are some reasons why job boards may be the answer to your hiring needs, along with another look at why they may not be.


They Vet On Your Behalf

When you sign up with a respected and well-known job board, you can specify specifically what qualities you are looking for in the ideal candidate. Your HR department will then receive daily emails with candidates whose profiles match that description, based on the job boards algorithms. It’s akin to having a bus go around town picking up suitable applicants and bringing them back for your perusal. That’s pretty good service for the nominal fee of signing up for the job board service.

They Can Weed Out the Riff Raff

On your business settings page, you can pick and choose which qualities you don’t want to see in your job applicants. You can say, for example, that you won’t accept applications from candidates who don’t submit cover letters. This ensures that you receive only qualified applications from serious candidates.

Your Notice Will Be “Hand Delivered”

On the other end of things, job applicants who sign up for job boards will receive notification of your job postings in their inbox daily. This ensures that your job listing will be disseminated to the broadest possible base of qualified people in your area. This greatly improves the odds of your finding the perfect match for your job.

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What Can Employers and Prospective Employees Get from Job Boards?

The 2015 Job Boards Trends Survey results are in, and some definite trends can be distinguished among the nearly 200 respondents questioned for the survey. Among them, five trends in particular can be used to job board owners and users advantage.

Half of respondents get at least 50,000 unique hits every month.

When you consider that most job board owners rely on site traffic for advertising revenue and for credibility to build more employer subscribers, 50,000 unique hits is encouraging.

This would be a great statistic to advertise to job seekers and employers alike. The traffic can be interpreted to mean that more job candidates are visiting those sites, or it could be read to mean that more employers are using that particular job board to find qualified employees. Either way, those kinds of traffic numbers are positive.

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