Don’t let yourself get too comfortable

Liking a job you have is great.  Loving it is even better. I am a firm believer in the theory that liking your job is one thing but liking your coworkers and management team is even better.  If you work in a place where you have both that’s even better.  Consider yourself very, very lucky because not everyone has that type of position.

But…. I think it’s important to understand when a job is truly just a job and when it might be time to leave.  

Last September when I first got this blog up and running ūüŹÉ, I was in the process of changing jobs.  Now the job I held previously was in the HR field but in the education system.  I absolutely loved this job.  I couldn’t (and still couldn’t) have a single negative thing to say about that job.  I loved what I was learning and how quickly I was able to learn.  Others were patient and willing to train/teach.  There (down the line) might have even been opportunities to take classes for a reimbursement! When I say this place was great I mean it. Total office job with holidays and weekends off.  Thus far in my very short career it was by far the least stressful.  Not only did I understand the content of my duties, but I had support.  I could go on, but I think you get my point.
Around this time last year, I was informed that would be unable to keep my position (some civil service laws/rules, I won’t bore you with the details).  I was devastated at first.  So upset that I had to leave.  My boss was so nice that he offered me a part time position while I was in between jobs.  Something he did not have to do but make it work for me.  

Once I had found a new job (my current position), I still wasn’t happy that I couldn’t stay, but I adjusted quickly and took on my new job as I had any other.  Each new day at my new job, I became more energized by what I was responsible for.  Being with a start up company, I had different responsibilities flying at me all the time.  In my ever adapting evironment, I was learning more about the HR world in just a few weeks, than I had learned over the course of a year at my previous job.  After six months I got promoted to a talent recruiter. Now being a talent recruiter, I have a huge challenge in front of me.  This role (at times) can be very intimidating and overwhelming, because it is so new.  I am bound and determined to achieve and do great things in my new role which is pushing me to work harder, ask more questions and even try new things.  The exponential growth I’ve been exposed to is worth leaving my previous position.  Moreover, I don’t think it is something I would have done on my own for quite a few years because it was such a comforting position.  I know now that being eliminated from my previous position was a blessing.  It has helped pushed me into starting my master’s program to move into higher education.  
Without my job being taken out from underneath me, I would have gotten comfortable and complacent.  My advise to you, NEVER let yourself get complacent with your current job.  Even the day I find myself in Higher Education, I still want opportunities to learn more.  Always strive for me, or you’ll end up like I almost did.  Comfortable.  Comfort is great and stress relieving, but I promise, it is not career building.  
Don’t believe that this is possible? Read this article.
#kbk, until next time

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Know Whom You Need to Speak With

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I apologize to my readers as it has been too long since posting anything. I’ll blame my job as I’ve been working countless hours these last few months.
With these countless hours have come many things. We have been hiring like crazy in my human resource office and I’ve seen a lot of people come in for various things. Often, we have people come into our office for interviews. Sometimes HR sets up interviews, other times managers of departments will set them up unbeknownst to us. ¬†We love to interview people so it is great to get all of this talent through our doors.

I have one piece of advice for you to take with you on interviews or meeting anyone in person really. Know who they are. Remember their name. Memorize their name.

I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken with someone in the last few weeks that has no idea whom they are to interview with. I promise that not knowing who you need to speak with does not make a very good first impression.

By not knowing who you need to speak with in a company, it makes the secretary or HR in my case hunt down your interviewer.  It shows us a lack of responsibility.  Now I am expected to know who you need to speak to. With our massive hiring it is hard for us to keep track of so many interviews all the time. If you know who you need to speak with right away it shows your interested and that you can listen.  It is awesome hearing that in our office.

To be clear, if you mispronounce a person’s name you’ll probably do just fine. There is always that one person with a difficult or different name that you cannot say correctly. Don’t worry about that, at least provide as many details as possible about the person if you know think you’ll pronounce the name wrong. ¬†bvt5uwnigaajhrl

Believe me, I am bad with names so if you are anything like me you’ll need a trick to get around this. ¬†If I know that someone could be calling me to set up an interview, I always have paper and pen ready. If you are job seeking, make sure you always had that pen and paper ready, you never know when someone will call.

When you get a phone call make sure you write down the names of those you’ll interview with. Ask the person on the phone, it’s okay to do such. ¬†Write their name down and memorize it. Let’s take this a step further…..

Once you get to the interview you will of course recite the name of your interviewer to whoever sits at the main desk. Once you do such keep repeating the name(s) in your head.  When your interviewer meets you he/she will always look to introduce themselves to you with a handshake. When the interviewer says their name, repeat it back to them.

Interviewer: ” Hi Kendra, I’m Jeff, nice to meet you”

Me: “Hi Jeff, it is very nice to meet you too”.

I’ve taken the time to not only memorize the person I’d be interviewing with but now I’ve put a name to a face and repeated it out loud to myself (even though it sounds like a pleasant exchange). ¬†Now that I’ve verbalized that connection I have made it easier for me to remember their name going forward. Believe me, when you interview with more than one person, this can really come in handy.

 

If you want to move up in the company do more than what you were hired for

Okay, so the answer is in the title in this post but let me give you a little insight as to why I find this to be true.  

I went through college thinking that if I worked hard people would notice and I would be able to grow simply by people recognizing my efforts.  I got an internship in the career services office my junior year.  The minute I got myself into the door I knew I wanted to become promoted to the paid internship level and oversee the work I was currently doing.  I wanted to get a taste of management. 
I was confident in my ability to do the internship well and I proved to be very hard working in the position.  Then came an opportunity to interview for the promotion mid year.  And I didn’t get it. I wasn’t ready to supervise my peers yet, but my supervisor told me to apply again for the following year.  Thankfully I did land in the position the following year but I quickly learned that had I demonstrated my ability to lead the semester before, I would’ve been promoted. 

 Then I got into working with Target, where I learned that I really got lucky in college.  I was in such a small group of coworkers in college (10 interns total) that I had the ability to step it up and be noticed for my hard work. 
I would have NEVER been promoted at Target with that attitude. Part of the success at Target is that they have those that they want to be promoted already trained and ready to start working in the new position by the time the new position opens up.  Promotions are already planned out for their company to close the gap of errors or lack of leadership, among other things.  Those chosen to be promoted were already doing the work of that higher position.  They have proven themselves capable before being promoted.  

I had many co-workers tell me that they wanted to be promoted and that they really did a great job at their current job. Some with 20+ years experience that truly knew their jobs well.  They were making critical errors by becoming experts at their jobs, only.  If you want to climb the corporate ladder you have to be fulfilling that job description, at the higher level.  Had I tried to just work hard at Target, I would’ve never been noticed. You need to show or even tell your leaders that you want to move up.  

This is a ridiculous example, but it’s true at the same time. If you’ve ever seen Bruce Almighty you know that Bruce had been waiting and waiting for a promotion.  He does these crazy stories like the biggest cookie in Buffalo NY and putting a wacky umbrella on his head for an interview.  He thinks it means he’ll be promoted, turns out it makes him super valuable in his current position.  

Watch the video clip here, but please note of explicit language.  Pro-tip don’t get to the point of you being Bruce.  You never want to get to a point where you don’t get the promotion you deserve. Always be looking ahead of moving up until you are satisfied.  

Job Hunters Guilt

I am not sure if that is the technical term for this subject or not but it’s important to discuss. Are you in a position where you’re unhappy with your current job or career path? If you said yes keep reading.  If you said no, this might be a waste.  If you’re on the fence, go back to some earlier posts about pullers and core values.

Sometimes we get into situations where leaving our current position is harder or more stressful than chasing after things we truly want.  

Quick example: I LOVED working in education.  But the job required me to be reachable on a NY state civil service test.  I didnt get a high enough score and I was cut from my position.  It sucked a lot.  And I cried,  a lot. But it dawned on me during all of this boo-hooing that I was so upset because I was getting so comfortable.  It had crossed my mind that maybe working for a school is what wanted to do for a living.  Just maybe it was what I wanted.  I was doing a decent job of convincing myself of that as well. Comfort can be a great thing, but had I not lost that job, I don’t think I would have applied for this new job that I now have.  And let me tell you, the perks and new experiences that this job has to offer is out of this world. I like how this guy explains the need to being uncomfortable.  
Not only would I not have applied for this job but I’m not sure about any job in the near future, let alone graduate school.  I hadn’t even begun to think about courses.  Now I’m gearing up for the fall 2017 online semester. 
Luckily I lost my job, because I can tell you that I was feeling guilty for leaving such a nice place. Nice people, work, days off, benefits. You name it, they have it.  Employees are treated really well there! But at some point I would’ve had to leave in order to fulfill my career goals.  

We can not let the guilt of leaving great people or work behind get in our way.  Pretend you were in my situation, would you want to have a job before losing it, or be out of a job scrambling for work.  Build your career, and look out for yourself.  It’s worth it. 

The best advice I can offer, is to talk to your boss now.  Even if they are the meanest, most rotten boss.  You’ll always be a good employee for keeping an open relationship with your boss.  This way he knows that he will need to find someone to replace you and can start thinking about the change.  It’s like giving him notice that you’ll be putting in your two week notice.  Communication is most definitely key for this task. Good luck out there.  

Recent College Grads, Pay Attention

While I want anyone to be able to get the most out my blog posts, this post is especially important for college graduates within the last few years. ¬†I, along with all of you have spent the last 13+ years in school. ¬†While the structure changed over the years, someone still stood in front of us and taught us something. ¬†The job market is a whole different playing field compared to school. ¬†We must quickly become adaptable to what is required of us now. ¬†A career will test you in other ways than a grade on a piece of paper. ¬†Tests begin to happen your first day upon walking into the company, starting with you first impression (some can argue that your first test in at the interview). ¬†You’re being analyzed by your co-workers and boss the minute you walk into the door, making your every move a test of being successful. ¬†While I believe that experience and education are contributing factors in getting a job, it is those skills not listed on your resume that make you a better individual in the work place. ¬†To pass tests such as the first impression, you need to be yourself.

You probably heard in college all about gaining experience and keeping your GPA up. While those are great things to achieve, they are items that you can add to your resume.  A great resume can get you starting in career building, but the resume alone will not get you past the interview.  Interviewers have seen what your capable of on paper.  Now, they will want to get to know you a little. Answering questions by repeating your resume or cover letter back to interviewers will not get you a position.  You have to know yourself and what kind of worker you are/want to be in order to show your potential company how you can contribute to their business.

Check out this great TEDTalk that discusses the difference between recorded success and unrecorded success.  It is a really great explanation to what you can to  help you become successful.  Go Steve Jobs (again!)

While this video is a tad lengthy, please go back and watch the whole thing (skimming through doesn’t help you). ¬†She does such a ¬†great job talking about adversity and using your adversity to become successful. ¬†Things that we have been taught in interviewing to get the position aImage result for interview memesre not what interviewers are looking for. ¬†You probably have heard before about taking your strengths and claiming them as weaknesses. ¬†Example: an interviewer asks “what are your weaknesses?”, you reply with “I’m a perfectionist, and that gets in my way of completing work on a deadline sometimes.” That line (while true for some) has been widely overused and employers see it coming. Do not use the typical answers just because they are typical.¬†¬†¬†True adversity and truly making the lemonade out of your own lemons are the skills an employer wants in their company.

Education and those various odd jobs have provided us with great experiences can contribute to the resume. ¬†But just think about some of the stuff that you’ve learned that you wouldn’t know how to put on a resume. ¬†I believe that I’ve got a great resume. ¬†It outlines some key positions that I have had and related experience to my field. ¬†That really isn’t all who I am. ¬†My co-workers have complimented me in my work, but it has never been because I can “perform various duties as assigned by supervisor”. ¬†No, they like me for my positive attitude and for being invested in my work just as they are. ¬†I did not learn to get a positive attitude from studying the Fundamentals of Gerontology at 9pm the night before the exam. ¬†Having a positive attitude is just who I am.

The best question I have been asked in an interview is “tell me something you want people to know about you that isn’t on your resume”. ¬†I still love this question because it drives home the point of this post. ¬†Employers are huge into getting to know a potential candidate they will have to invest resources in. ¬†Ask yourself this question; see what you can come up with. ¬†Please understand that a good resume and great interview skills are part of getting a job and building your career. ¬†You also need to make sure your not getting caught up in articles that say “do this and not that to land the job”. ¬†Building your career is not an assembly line. ¬†While your mentors, parents, professors, etc. have given you great advice in advancing in your career, remember who you are. ¬†Be yourself and show people how great you are.

 

P.S. if you are curious to what my answer is  to the interview question, comment with your responses to this question and I will tell you want I said.  Let me know what you would say, I want to learn more about all of you.

Job Hunting vs. Career Building

I think this would be a great time to talk about the differences between looking for a job and building a career.  More often than not, we say we are job hunting when we might actually mean building our careers.  We often under-use the term career building.  When people ask “what are you up to?” nine times out of ten, they are curious to know how successful you are.  People don’t typically ask “what are you working towards?”. That would be a much more meaningful way to ask you about how you’re building your career.   The fact that people misconstrue these two phrases allows them to also confuse the terms job hunting and career building. 

I consider job hunting the short term solution.  Job seekers are looking for something to do immediately.  To look for a job, means that for whatever reason you need a change in pace now.  If you are unemployed or your boss is driving you absolutely crazy, those are factors or “pushers” as I’ll call them, that push you to get a job.  I am in no way saying that pushers are bad motivators.  Hey, I need money to pay for those student loans I accumulated, and a good paying job just like the rest of us. However, pushers in our lives are very important to overcome in order to make us happy.  If your boss makes you miserable, then he/she is one of your pushers to get you into a new position.  Pushers can be identified as many things but typically they will be things that you do not have control over.  Your boss, pay, or job duties can all be seen as pushers.

You can probably guess that career building is what I would consider to be the long term solution.  Career building has a lot to do with building up your experiences to achieve your end career goal or goals.  You’ll want to go after things that will help you reach your goals and try hard to create the path to your future.  These things that keep us driven I consider to be “pullers”.  Pullers are typically things that we can control and work towards to achieve.  If getting a Master’s degree is something you need for a job (*raises hand slowly*), then going for that degree is a puller.  Getting an education is an obvious puller, but jobs can  be pullers too.  Working in the education field is a puller for me.  I do not work in higher education, but it is still a place that has pulled me into working towards my dream.  If I began working as a custodian on a college campus, that could also be a puller job. Working up the chain in an industry is a well known technique for career building.  The key thing to remember with pullers, is that they are what you make of them. Volunteering or creating a blog can also be pullers.  Think outside of the box for some good pullers.

While there is a difference to be established between pushers and pullers the same experience can be shifted from one to the other.  Do not let these shifts get you confused to what you want or need to do in life.  I always say work towards building a career for yourself.  If you are wondering what kind of pullers are out there for you take a look at this link.  Wallethub did a great job of putting together some entry level positions that might show you what positions will pull or push you. They’re ranking system might not match yours, but they did us a favor by listing out over 100 entry level jobs.  If your trying to change or start your career entry level jobs are great pullers.  

What someone sees as a puller might be a pusher for you.  This is where job hunting and career building can get confusing.  Job hunting is not career building.  Pushers and pullers are the factors that contribute to whether you hunt or build. I suggest working your best towards the pullers and removing the pushers from your life.  Sometimes,  that simply means changing your thoughts on your current situation.  I thought my job in education was a pusher job.  It was just going to fill the time I needed to get my next degree.  Turns out, this field is a great puller to get into higher education.  You might not have to change your environment to learn that you have many pullers helping you along the way.

Knowing your core values

I took a class in college that had to do with job hunting, starting from the basics.  Interests, hobbies and values being the very first steps we all should be taking in order to find a job that we will enjoy.  There is a lot to discover about yourself and your needs in a job that will make you a better job hunter.

I walked into an interview not too long ago with the hopes of landing “the job” and working in a field that I had no experience in. The position was in the educational field which I had been working in for almost a year and I wanted to sell to them that I knew the field. ¬†I thought that I could show my interviewers that I would be hard working, a quick learner and that I wanted to take on the challenge of having no previous experience in business/accounting. ¬†I prepared for the interview as much as I could. ¬†I viewed their LinkedIn profiles, researched the company and visited the¬†job description NUMEROUS¬†times. ¬† One of my references even endorsed me with this company, making me think I had the upper hand to other candidates. ¬†The moment I got called into the interview room, I should have turned around and left. ¬†It didn’t feel right from the get-go, but I wanted to make the best of this interview and I wanted to feel accomplished by landing “the job”. My interviewers asked their questions, I answered and did my best to offer the best responses to their repeated questions. ¬†It felt like we were all just going in circles. ¬†They were asking the same questions and I was giving the same answers. ¬†There were long awkward pauses and it felt…. weird.

As the awkward pauses became increasingly difficult to ignore, I thought¬†Why is this going so poorly? ¬†Why are we still doing this? ¬†I don’t think I want to work here. ¬†¬†I had wanted a¬†job so badly that I almost overlooked the fact that this really wasn’t what I wanted. ¬†I didn’t want to disappoint my referencer by not getting the job. ¬†I didn’t want to disappoint my family for not making a good living with a good paying job. ¬† But my family will never stop loving me and this is not going to disappoint anyone. ¬†As long as I am happy, everyone else is happy. ¬†Duh Kendra. ¬†I almost¬†threw my core value of enjoying my job out the window, in order to have a job and to please others. ¬†The “others” being unrealistic thoughts that I created in my head.

If you need a job, then you need a job, but that experience for me truly would have been settling when I aspire for something better. ¬†To be happy and get to where you want to be, you really want to understand yourself first. ¬†I know that I want to love what I do for a living and that I want to help others. ¬†Working with money and big numbers wouldn’t have matched either one of those criteria for me. ¬†For you, it might have matched your criteria, and that is great! ¬†You should know these things about yourself before you even begin to apply for any position though. ¬†Some things to consider about yourself:

  • What motivates you (i.e. money)
  • Do you want to be in an office setting
  • What kind of leadership do you seek in a boss
  • Do you like working as a team
  • How do you feel about conflict in the workplace
  • How much free time outside of work do you want/need
  • Are you a people person. Why or why not
  • What are your hobbies/interests

For some of these bullet points think about the polar opposite as well. ¬†If you can pin point what does motivate you, also try to pinpoint what does not motivate you. ¬†You might be able to avoid a situation like mine, where I walked right into a place that wasn’t going to motivate me. ¬†I suggest writing these things down for yourself to see a visual of these values. ¬†You might not refer back to them, or you might hang it on your ceiling and look at it every night. ¬†Regardless, it is always a good tool to know yourself and what you’re all about. ¬†When you fill out an application you can then convey your needs better. ¬†Then when you get to that interview (because you can get there) you can effectively communicate why you are the best fit.

I recommend anyone to take this step to evaluate their “energizers” in life now, whether if you are looking for employment or not. ¬†If you realize that you fear¬†asking your boss for anything (avoiding conflict being something you value), then you might be able to overcome the fear and muster up the courage to ask for that raise you deserve. ¬†Self reflection is good for everyone at any stage in life. ¬†Of course, I am suggesting you do it with your career, because people rarely think to self reflect in this manner.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

In light of my upcoming interview I thought I would discuss the question that comes up at the end of every interview ever. ¬†This question is essential to be ready for. ¬†Your interviewer(s) will ALWAYS (and if they don’t, comment and let me know!) ask you this question and there is a right and wrong answer. ¬†First the wrong answer:

Q: Do you have any questions for us?

A: No

OR

A: No I think I understand everything

Why it is the wrong answer: ¬†No matter how you say it, even if you are very nice, polite and say that you fully understand everything about the position it is still not a good way to end an interview. ¬†You might think you are doing everything right by letting your interviewer know that you have a grasp on the position and that you would be the ideal candidate, but the interviewer wants to hear you ask something to show more interest in the position/company. ¬†By saying “no” you are not showing that you want to go the extra mile for this position. ¬†Think about it. ¬†If you fit the criteria for a job and the company feels that you would be a good fit for the position then you might get the job. ¬†What if John Smith who was also just as qualified in every other way decided at the end of his interview to ask his interviewer, “what is your expected growth for ASDF Company over the next several years”? ¬†If you were an interviewer who would you be more interested in, the guy that said “I’m your ideal candidate” or the guy that said “I’m the ideal candidate, but while we are talking about your company let me ask you more about it”. ¬†If you still are not quite convinced that John Smith would be picked over you keep reading.

Right Answer:

Q: Do you have any questions for us?

A: As a matter of fact I do….

OR

A: Yes. ¬†You mentioned QWER and I was wondering…..

Why this is the right answer: Saying “yes” followed by asking your question is clearly the right answer from what I discussed before. ¬†If you do ask a question it means you are invested. ¬†However, I like to take a psychological approach behind this as well to understand why having questions are so important. ¬†In most interviews, the interviewers have a piece of paper in front of them with a list of questions. ¬†They go round robin, ask you their questions, you answer them, they interview the next candidate. ¬†One key piece to an interview, is to get them to remember you in a positive way. ¬†So what if instead of following the known procedure you mixed it up a little and get them thinking of something else? ¬†Believe me, I’ve been the interviewer before too, they want to hear/think about something other than doing this interview. ¬†If you ask them something about the company, it takes their mind away from the interview and gives them a chance to talk to you more about what they know and their interests. ¬†When you give the interviewer a chance to talk about themselves, you can leave them thinking that you are the ideal candidate. ¬†People love the opportunity to talk about themselves and have someone listen to what they have to say. ¬†It makes us happy. ¬†If you give them that window of opportunity to speak about themselves/company, you make yourself a better candidate.

My go to question of choice:¬†¬†“What is your favorite part about your job?” I like asking this question because it gets them to think about their daily job duties and is making them think of the positives. ¬†If they are thinking positively about their job, their last impression of me is that I could have a positive impact on the company. ¬†It’s totally psychological and maybe it is just my theory, but I think it works pretty well. ¬†Furthermore, I like to ask because I am genuinely interested. ¬†Yes, it is kind of a manipulation tool, but I do want to know what people like about their jobs. ¬†I know that I want to have passion in my career options, so if I see that passion in someone else I can get a better sense if I will get what I want out of the company. ¬†It depends on what drives you but for me this is really good feedback to have at an interview. ¬†At my latest place of employment, the answer that I got to that question in my interview was “I wake up everyday and look forward to everything about my job, the good the bad and the ugly.” ¬†That answer was a selling point for me that I wanted this job just as much as he wanted me there. ¬†It bounces off the idea that you are interviewing them as well.

There are so many other questions you can ask as well. ¬†This is just one of my questions I like to ask. ¬†There are more depending on the job. ¬†Don’t use just this example and make it fit into your interview always. ¬†We are all different and my experiences are not going to mirror yours. ¬†Let me know what you think are good or bad interview questions.