Wednesday, September 29, 2010

5 Deadly sins of employment

5 “Sins” of job seekers or employees
By Chris Parker

When it comes to job searching or employment there are 5 different wrongs that individuals do to themselves that have a major impact on their success. Think about how often a day you think about work, focus on work or obsess about work. I bet the answer is nearly 12-16 hours a day. Yes that is 8 hours while actually at work or looking for work and 4-8 hours after.

The “Sins” that can break a job and our own success are:

  1. Detachment- The first “Sin” has to do with not being able to detach from the job or job search and have it make its way into your personal life. Maybe you deal with work all day, then have drinks with friends and then the mood of the relaxing drink is flooded with the negative things going on at work or the negative statements about work.
  2. Negative Self Talk- The next “Sin” is the one where the mind becomes our own worst enemy. The mind does not know the difference in what is real or what we repeat to ourselves over and over again to make it real. If there is negative self talk involved in your mind, then the behavior’s will follow and the job can become less fun and exciting
  3. Self Doubt- This is a “Sin” mainly used by job seekers and sometimes used with employees. Self Doubt and negative self esteem has a way of turning our possibilities into failures. It is often found that individuals who do not even try are afraid of failure and success; I believe that not even trying is already a failure. If an individual tells themselves “I am not going to get this job.” “I am not good enough for this job.” “I do not have the skills for this job.”, then they are already making that job outside of their reach.
  4. Dumbing –Down your skills- I have heard of many people who commit this “Sin” to get a job that is below their skill level and not a job they would even want. I know that stress levels are high today due to the economy and many people just want a “job”, but it might not be the right fit.
  5. Gossip- Joining the “cool” crowd is always a persons dream dating back to high school, but sometimes the “cool” crowd is the ones who are being watched at work, spreading gossip and false facts about the business or just unhappy with their responsibilities. These individuals have the way of worming into your mind until one day you find yourself talking negatively about your job, then feeling negatively about it. To avoid this make sure you use positive self talk and remember that every day can be your last day of employment.

I realize that sometimes it is hard to remain positive even in the face of unemployment but remember “things can always get better”.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Are you what you do?

Are you what you do? That is a question that has been asked in many ways. One of the things that we do when we meet someone is ask “What do you do?” As a child people are usually interested in things like “What do you like to do?” “Where did you grow up?” and “What kinds of things are you interested in?” It seems the older we get we begin to live by labels and not by the other aspects of our lives. We grow up being a brother, sister, teenager, graduate, husband, wife, employee, and then somewhere we become the label of what our job title is. When did we become the people who, when we meet someone, the first thing we want to know is “What do you do for a living?” I know that due to employment being scarce and jobs not falling out of the sky, the latest trend is to network, go to networking events and meet other professionals, but even then the other professionals we meet are not receiving the true picture of who we are.

Growing up our friends learned as much about us as they could, probably even knew more about us than our families, but one day we become the label of the job. I think we are the only country that worries about someone’s job title, and maybe that has to do with the concept of “Keeping up with the Jones’s”. Or maybe it has to do with our own ego’s that tell us we are what we do. I find it strange that as a general rule we do spend more time at work, or even doing work from home trying to keep up that good worker status we hand ourselves, when in all reality we are missing out on the rest of our lives. I know work is about money, and money is about affording things, but neither of those can go with you in the end.

For years I was a counselor and was always amazed when meeting with a new client, doing an assessment to find where I could help them and asking them the question “Tell me about your self?” The answers would start flooding in packed full of the labels they have been carrying around with them. I would hear their birth order, who they are married to, and it always ended with “well I am a _____________ worker, or I do _____________ for my job. I can remember numerous times I would ask the question again and request them not use any labels, just to share with me who they are.  I found it staggering the number of people could not tell me anything about themselves. I would ask what sorts of things do they like doing and the number one answer was “well I enjoy my work”

 To have a job is great, to be looking for a job is like a full time job, but where have the labels come from. If you are unemployed and you meet someone, what is your response to the question “What do you do?” I will bet it is “I am unemployed and looking at the moment. Although this is probably correct, I would say I am seeking the perfect fit for me and my skills at the moment. Same answer but a completely different label. People tend to forget that the job will be there after they leave it either by choice or being terminated, so I encourage everyone to find a label less understanding of who they are so that they will be better “employees” in the future. To have a personal life is great just remember to leave personal at home and work life at work and try not to let the two cross.

We are who we are, that was the idea when we were teenagers, and somehow some where we lost that mind set and became a label. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Personal Life vs. Work Life

Having just returned from a short vacation I found myself thinking about a concept to share. I call it Personal Life vs. Work life. There is not a lot of advice in the career world about how to separate your personal life and your work life. Often times an individual will set themselves up either at work or while searching for work by mixing the two lives. There are so many things that can blur the lines and make either finding or maintaining gainful employment. I will be going over some of the major ones (in my opinion of course)

  1. Substance abuse and work performance. There are millions of people who have some sort of substance abuse related issue in the working world. Most if not all employers do require a drug screen before an offer will be made for a job so if you use and illegal drug or over use a prescription drug you might not get out of the starting gate for a job. If you go out and tie a good one on the night before you go to work then your performance might be effected on that job.
  2. Family issues are another major halting point for success on the job or in the job search. Whether you have children and have to make decisions based on their school schedule, not having a sitter, or after school activities you might be limiting yourself to be successful at a job. Yes, most employers listen as you talk about the cute thing that your child did or said, but realistically that is something that should be shared with family and friends. Remember your employer is not your friend, they are your employer.
  3. Elderly relatives’ healthcare related issues are another way to blur the lines of work and home.  As the baby boomers are aging there are a number of health related issues that families have to face. It might be physical health related or mental health related issues. There is the FMLA which helps with certain types of family related issues but it does not generally make an employer happy if you have to take a lot of time off to make appointments, or have to miss work all together.
  4. Personal phone calls at work are generally a bad idea also. When one is at work that is where they need to be and be focused on. If you had an argument with your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbor, child or other family member and they want to keep calling to make their point while you are at work they need to be reminded you are at work. I realize emergencies might arise where one might need to be reached, but a standard rule should be, unless it is an emergency please do not contact me while at work.
  5. Personal email sites are becoming more and more blocked at most job sites, because to many people are trying to check their personal email, sending all those forwards and chain letters and just mainly wasting time allotted for work. I know individuals that cannot seem to live without their Facebook, Myspace, or other social site, but checking these when it is against company policy should be avoided
  6. Dating a co-worker is the largest way to mix work and personal and that is why most employers frown on interoffice dating. If you have an argument at home, and on your way to work, nothing good will come of being in the same office or building because most of the time you need that separation.

A method I developed years ago to keep personal life personal and work life workable was to walk up to the front door of the business, imaging my work/personal time clock and I would imagine I clocked in at work and left personal life outside, then when I left work I clocked out of work and back into personal life. I have known many people who have lost their job because work life and personal life have mixed.