March 26, 2012

tips for jugglig multiple jobs

Some of us do it because we need the extra cash, others do it because we want to build our careers into more than just a nine-to-five job. Whatever the reason, we see more and more professionals juggling multiple jobs at the same time.

But regardless your situation or the reason for having more than one job, it can still be tough to manage your time effectively and live a balanced life. Here are a few tips from the experts:

Career blogging/coaching is a great second "job" for me because it adds to my Human Resources career, so most of the time it really doesn't feel like a job. I enjoy it so much that I don't mind investing extra time into it. Working for myself is rewarding in other ways, and in the end I feel more motivated every morning when I get ready for my day.

If you are juggling jobs at the moment, what are the things you like (or don't like) about it??

March 23, 2012

a young pro’s guide to working from home

Modern careers are different from traditional ones in so many ways, but perhaps the biggest difference is the way modern professionals are not necessarily bound to one office or desk or set of working hours. A lot of what we do can be done from the privacy of our homes if we have a decent laptop and Internet access.

Do any of you have jobs that allow you to work flexible hours or from the location of your choice? If you do, here are a few tips to keep your relationship with your employer in tip-top shape regardless of how often you see each other face to face:

  • Know what is expected of you: Whether you work in or out of the office, not having a clear understanding of what you need to achieve and produce can cause a lot of ambiguity. Have a look at your job description or have a discussion with your supervisor to ensure you have are on the same page.
  • Do more: If your employer allows you the flexibility of working on your own time and at your own home, be sure to show them that you are productive and proactive. If they can see it pays off they are sure to put their trust in your time management and see you as a professional.
  • Get the gear: Be sure to have the equipment and connection you need to do your work without interruptions or technical problems. If you work from home it would usually be on the condition that you be available via phone or email during regular working hours.
  • Designate your work space: Working from home can be very distracting if you try to do it in the kitchen or in front of the TV. Have a spot designated for work where you can focus and concentrate on your work.
  • Create boundaries: (for yourself and those around you). Be sure to plan how much time you want to spend on work and try to stick to the plan. Also inform those close to you how much time you will need daily so they know not to interrupt you just because you're there. If it helps, close your personal email accounts when you need to get your head stuck into your work.
  • Regular updates: Keeping in touch and providing others with regular updates is a powerful tool that helps maintain your work relationships despite the distance between you all.

Working from home can be very rewarding! In many cases it helps you to focus on projects until they are finished instead of wasting time because you need to hang around the office until 5pm. If done correctly, you can easily juggle multiple projects or jobs and grow your career at a faster pace.

Any stories on how working from home hasn't really worked for you?

March 21, 2012

the best ways to disagree with your boss

Depending on how much you and your boss have in common you are bound to have days when you disagree with something he says. There is nothing wrong with having different opinions, but many of us get anxious when we need to talk to our bosses about it. Sure, it might not always be easy, but doing what you can to maintain an open and honest relationship from your side will make all the difference.

  • Be the difference - Yes, instead of just listing what bothers you, see if you can suggest alternatives. Employers love problem solvers.
  • Be respectful - Regardless of your opinion of or regard for your boss, see that you find ways to show respect while discussing the issue. Making sarcastic remarks in front oof your team regarding your boss's decision doesn't show much character from your side. Why not see this as an opportunity to build your personal brand at work.
  • Check the attitude - Wild accusations and pointing fingers are sure to steer the discussion in the wrong direction. Sticking to the facts and discussing it in the most neutral way possible shows that you can handle yourself in a potentially sensitive situation without making things personal. Whatever you do with your tone of voice and body language may just rub off on whoever is with you,.
  • Express it clearly - Take some time to formulate how you want to describe what is bothering you. Until you have a clear way of describing it, keep it in the back of your mind. Find ways to state simple facts and break it down into a couple of points/items for discussion.
  • Ask questions - Instead of coming into the discussion with an accusing attitude, try to ask questions in order to better understand your boss's point of view. Maybe he has good reasons for making certain decisions you don't agree with.
  • Agree to disagree - Sometimes we can discuss the issue as thouroghly and respectfully as possible and still not agree. Even though the outcome hasn't changed you may have had valuable discussions with your boss by now, so agree to disagree and do whatever is required of you according to his lead. Show that you are flexible and commited to company goals.

These tips work great at work but it can be useful in any conflict situation. Have any of you tried any of these approaches before?

March 19, 2012

maintaining a healthy work-life balance

Guys and girls, you know that I am passionate about maintaining a balanced lifestyle ☺. I am always thinking of new ways to prevent myself from becoming a work-a-holic. I enjoyed reading what others have to say on the topic, so I selected a few great links to keep you balanced this week:

Do you ever feel like your job is trying to swallow you whole!? No more! I hope these tips have been helpful!!

Enjoy your Monday and have a fabulous week!

March 16, 2012

you are not your job: cultivating a more holistic approach to self-worth

If you meet someone new on a night out, one of the first questions asked is "What do you do?" This is usually taken to mean "What's your job?" or "What is it that you do with your time to make money?" This, for me, is a very interesting reflection about how almost all people see themselves and measure their self-worth. Instead of answering the "what do you do" question with details about our hobbies or families, we always start with work. Now, of course, this is only natural, since we spend the majority of our waking hours at our place of employment. But I also think it's a very shallow way of viewing yourself, and one that can be potentially dangerous for, surprisingly enough, your career itself.

Most of us do not have our dream jobs. In fact, what we do to pay the bills may be just that—a bill-payer and nothing more. Still, when we are stuck in a job that we feel doesn't fit us or our personalities, it's easy to become very depressed with the fact that our jobs don't line up with how we view ourselves. And this discrepancy can become so painful that your performance will eventually suffer.

Instead of equating yourself with your job, start developing a more well-rounded sense of self. You may be, say an account executive for a PR firm, but you are also so much more - you are  afriend, a son or daughter, a parent, a pet owner. You're someone who cooks delicious meals like nobody's business, you're someone who excels at chess and soccer. These various roles you play make up not just one unified self, but several discrete selves. As Walt Whitman once said, "I am large, I contain multitudes."

When you see yourself as containing multitudes, you can bring renewed focus to your job, no matter how tedious or difficult it is. Once you take pride in other aspects of your multifaceted self, you'll begin to see your job as an activity that you perform daily, not something that engulfs your entire being. And understanding work as just another one of the many activities you do daily, you'll instantly become more active about your work as process and not an end.

Of course, I'm not necessarily suggesting that once you embrace other parts of your life more whole-heartedly, your job will instantly become easier or more enjoyable. But you'll feel more confident in your ability to get through it, and this confidence may just give you the boost you need to take the necessary steps in finding a job that's more rewarding. Good luck!

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes for Online Universities Blog. She welcomes your comments at her email:

March 14, 2012

look as busy as you are at work

Do you look busy at work? Because many of us sit in front of our computers all day it can be tough to show that you are actually being productive. We talk about building your personal brand at work almost every week, and finding a way to show your productivity can have a very positive influence on your image/reputation at the office.

Here are a few things you can do to show (not fake ☺) that you are busy reaching outcomes and making progress:

Regular updates
Sending your manager a weekly status report to show your progress on projects will give him a good indication of how productive you are. If you and your manager have regular meetings you can use this to guide your progress discussions. If you don't have much to report on it may prompt him to trust you with more responsibilities, and if you feel you have too much on your plate you can use this report as a reference when discussing your work load.

Look alive
During meetings or discussions, take notes when appropriate. Showing that you are task orientated and interested in the details of the discussion not only adds to your brand, it might just improve the way you follow up on delegated tasks. I have a tendency to forget the details of an assignment, so writing them down immediately helps me grasp the extent of the task.

Plan ahead
If you have a meeting coming up and you know the topic, see if there is anything you can prepare from your side to contribute to the discussion. Is there useful information you can share? Maybe some questions everyone else is too shy to ask?

We can all spot those colleagues who are trying to look busy but really aren't. Ensure that you are actually busy and using smart ways to show your commitment.

March 12, 2012

thoughts on job hopping

Until pretty recently it was frowned upon when you apply for a position with a resume that shows you worked only 2-3 years for each of your previous employers. A few generations ago an employee often stayed with one employer for the majority of his/her professional life, and loyalty was high on the list of desirable traits employers looked for when hiring. Modern career paths are different in the sense that you can actually weaken your career by staying too long at any one company, because of the way it limits your exposure to new challenges.

So how long is too long and how short is too short? ☺ Here are a few thoughts from the experts:

I believe that trying out a few options at the beginning of career is not the end of the world and can actually help you decide what you would like to specialize in later on. But I would also be sceptical of a resume that shows a pattern of repeatedly leaving after a year or two.

What do you guys think??

March 9, 2012

coping in a job you really dislike

In an ideal world all of my readers would be doing challenging and interesting jobs that they love! But in the real world this is a tricky and very common problem employees face: what to do if you are stuck in a job that you can't stand. Most of us cannot afford to quit our jobs just because we don't like doing them - jobs are scarce and bills need to be paid...

If you currently spend all your time at work wishing you had a different job, here are a couple of questions I would like to run by you:
  • What is it about your job you don't like? Your boss, your coworkers, the work load or the working environment? Some things (like work load) can be addressed with a little effort and resourcefulness while other reasons (like an abusive working environment) are reason enough to consider actually leaving.
  • What steps have you taken from your side to address the issues? If you do decide to leave, can you say with complete confidence that you did your best to turn things around? If you can't say this, odds are you will leave feeling bitter and struggling to find closure.

If you have done all you can do, and you still wish you could leave but you cannot take the risk of losing your income, you can try a few of the following strategies to keep yourself positive and focused until you find a new opportunity to apply for:
  • Career planning - Set up alerts to notify you when relevant positions open up. That way some of the best opportunities arrive in your mailbox before you need to go looking or them. Decide if you would like to stick to your current career path or try something new. What goals do you need to set in order to make a career change?
  • Remember to smile - If your work drains you, find time to do things that recharge you and put a smile on your face. We often here people talk about work-life balance: just like a bad day at work can negatively affect your personal life, a good day away from work can carry some positive energy over to the office.
  • Time for some training - Now that you know you would like to apply for other positions, are there short courses or workshops you can attend in order to add to your skill set? It might cost you a little money, but showing that you are committed to continuous education can give your job applications a bit more weight.
  • Finish strong - Keep in mind what you would like your employer to say about you when you are no longer working for the company. Even though you may not be very fond of them, they will be on your reference list for a long time to come, so be sure you show integrity and professionalism despite your frustrations.

If you have ever survived a situation like this, what helped you stay strong to the end!?

March 7, 2012

how well do you handle change at work?

Change can be really stressful, even if it may be change for the good. I read once that getting married or moving in to a new home can cause just as much stress as losing your job or a distant relative.

In our careers there are bound to be changes around every corner. Transferring to a different department or working under a new manager, quitting or losing your job are all potential stressors. Our ability to cope and embrace change will have a big impact on the outcome of any stressful situation. Change is part of life and sometimes we have no control over what comes our way, but it's how we respond to change that can make or break us in tough times.

In order to save yourself from drowning when going through change at work, here are a few guidelines to help you come out strong:
  1. Readiness: Find some time to brace yourself for the challenge. What will your attitude or strategy be regardless of how big the change is? If you don't set goals for yourself during challenging times you are bound to be thrown around by the currents of change like a rubber duck in the ocean ☺.  
  2. Relate: Sometimes we forget that our colleagues are going through a process of change with us, and that we are not alone. Supporting each other at work can make any change more bearable, and often results in great team work and a boost in office morale. 
  3. Routine: While things at work may be changing radically, try to stick to your normal lifestyle and routines like exercising, sticking to your sleeping/eating patterns, and hobbies.
  4. Rest & Relaxation: I find it hard to switch off my brain when going through change, so finding a little me-time (without any emails, gadgets or noise) really helps me recharge my batteries. I know it can be hard to put away your smart phone for an hour or two, but if you try it you'll see that the world won't come to an end and you will still have all your facebook friends when you return ☺
  5. Reunions: See your friends or family often. Talking through and sharing your experiences are powerful tools to help you process any change in your life.

How do you stay centered when your boat is being rocked by circumstances? We all have our own coping mechanisms and levels of resilience but these tips are pretty easy to learn.

Here is another interesting read on the topic: Always Be Prepared for a Sudden Shift in Employment Status.

March 5, 2012

crucial tips for quitting your job

Odds are each one of us may need to quit our jobs at some stage in our careers. Part of life.

I often read questions from readers about all the uncertainty that goes along with quitting their jobs, and it made me realise that quitting in the most respectful way possible can actually give your personal brand a boost and add weight to the reference your ex-boss gives you in future. Seeing this (sometimes uncomfortable) process as an opportunity to grow and build your network is the best advice I can give anyone who is considering to quit.

So here are a few links to save for when you may need it in future:

I hope these tips have been helpful. Quitting a job is part of any normal career journey, so try to see it for what it is instead of making the process too personal or emotional. Sometimes we're sad to leave and other times we count the minutes to our last day, but regardless of how we're feeling we can go through the process with style!

Enjoy your Monday everyone!

March 2, 2012

want to try your hand at writing a guest post?

For a long time I read career blogs and had thoughts I wanted to share, but wasn't sure if I wanted to be a full-on blogger/writer. Some of you may also have great career advice and thoughts to share, so why not give it a try?

  • The topic? If you could go back five or ten years, what career advice would you give your younger self?
  • The word count? 600 words or less.
  • The timeline? I would like to feature the guest posts at the end of March 2012 so you have until 20 March to brainstorm and create!

Please send your masterpieces to aWannabeEmployee (at) gmail (dot) com. I will choose a few favorites to feauture.

So what do you think? No need to write a thesis, I am a fan of keeping things simple! I am interested in what all of you are thinking, and I believe that even someone who just started their very first job already has advice to share.

Happy writing!!