3 Signs It’s Time For A New Job

If you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s time for a new job.

1. You can do the job with your hands tied behind your back, eyes closed, while twirling in circles.

If your job isn’t challenging you, you’ve learned all that you needed to. It’s great that you’ve masters your job, but you can be using your mastered skills somewhere else – and learning more new skills.

2. You’ve realized there’s no room to move up? Time to move on.

You don’t want to be stuck in one position forever. If there’s no room to advance at your company get the experience you need then move to a new company with opportunities.

3. You can’t remember when you stop counting hours and started counting the seconds to the end of the day and the milliseconds to the weekend.

Everyone has the right to enjoy their job. If you really hate your job find something you love. It will be worth the effort to find your passion.

These are short and sweet little red flags to move on, but that’s all it takes. One little red flag that you could easily ignore because its easier to just stay safe where you are. But staying where you are really isn’t safe, it holds you back. Staying for too long may prevent you from advancing later in your career. Look for the red flags, create a plan to move on and then notify your company.

Here’s what other people suggest:

101 Secrets For Your Twenties – “#69 If your office is permeated with a culture of complacency, especially from the top down – game over. Pack your bags. Time to leave.”

NY Daily News – 10 Signs Its Time To Find A New Job

US News – 16 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job

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Choosing a Career Path and Sticking With It

We’ve talked a lot about getting a job, choosing a career and tips for being at work, but we haven’t directly talked about a career path yet. Knowing your career path early on is a big advantage. A career path can help keep you focused on your end goal. You may have a dream to work in a certain position or for a certain company. A career path tells you how to get there. If you haven’t chosen a career path yet, I’ve come up with a list of questions to ask yourself so you can find the right career path for you… and stay on track with that career path.

How do I know what job I want at the end of my career path?

Listen to your unthought knowns, as Dr. Meg Jay calls them in her book, The Defining Decade. There’s a voice inside you that knows what you like and what you’re good at. It also knows what you don’t like and what your weaknesses are. Listen to your inner unthought knowns. They’re called unthought knowns because you know them… You just haven’t thought about it yet.

To help focus in on your unthought knows try one of these techniques:

  • Make a list of all skills, interests, etc.
  • Pay attention at work – what aspects do you like and not like?
  • Have informational meetings to learn as much as you can and ask all your questions.
  • Find out the job descriptions of different positions.
  • Understand the different departments, how they work together, where their work ends, and another starts.

Nothing’s worse than working your way to a position, only to then find out its nothing like you thought it would be and you hate it. Do the research now while you still have the flexibility to move around to an area you know you will enjoy for the long run.

How do I get on a career path?

After you have chosen your end goal you can find out what your career path should be. Some of the techniques listed above can also help you discover the steps it takes to get to your end goal. Talking with co-workers who have been in the company or the industry for a few years can be very helpful. What’s even more helpful is if you can sit down with someone now who is in the position you would like one day. If you can find someone has been or currently is in a position you want here are some questions I would suggest asking…

1. What type of schooling do I need?

2. What type of experience and how many years of experience do I need?

3. Is there any additional experience outside of work you would suggest?

4. What skills should I be practicing?

5. Any final words of advice? Steps I should take? Positions I should hold? People I should talk to?

Will this job offer help me in my career path?

This is an important question to ask yourself every time a new job offer comes your way. My best advice, only take a job if you “side step” or move up on your career path. A”side step” is when you move to a different position, but you’re still on the same level as your previous position. You didn’t “move up in rank” is another way to look at it. Still a perfectly good option. This “side step” position can teach you new skills, give you more experience, introduce you to a new network or allow you to move to a new company.

Receiving a job offer is obviously a great sign that your boss, and the company likes you. They have faith you’ll do good for the future of the company. But, I would advise that accepting a position which leads you off your track does you no good. It would better serve you to politely decline and stay where you are. If you do have to decline, I would suggest having a conversation explaining the goals you have set up for your future. This conversation may also allow the employer to see the big picture you have for yourself and may look for opportunities to help you achieve it in the future.

Sometimes being offered a position that is lower than your current position can actually help on your career path. If your career path is for a position with a certain company, you may want to consider a lower job offer in order to start working for your dream company. However, I would not accept the job offer until I knew exactly what I would be doing, knew it would help me get to where I wanted to be, knew there was room for growth within the company, and knew I would be happy.

Am I currently doing everything I can for my career path?

It’s good to check on your own progress from time to time. But before you can check on your progress you need to have a set of clear goals with steps. From the information you got doing your research about the position you’re working towards and what the career path looks like you can make yourself a basic timeline. I say basic because I don’t want you over stressing and feeling completely depressed if you do not follow the timeline exactly. Still, a timeline will allow you to see roughly how long you should stay in a position to get the experience you need and tell you when its time to start thinking about getting a new position.

After you have your clear goals with steps, sit down to have a self evaluation or ask for a peer evaluation. To have a peer evaluation you could ask a co-worker or boss for feedback on how you’ve been doing. Then take that information and compare it to your time line.  Use the comparison to decide if you are where you should be, if you’re behind or meeting the bare minimum. Are you meeting work requirements? Have you required all the skills you can in your current position? Is there anything more you can be doing? In my opinion, there’s always room for improvement, that’s the way growing works. You grow as a better employee if you keep challenging yourself. It’s always better to be challenging yourself than to be safe. Safe keeps you in one spot, challenging keeps you moving up.

What career path have you started on? Do you have any additional tips or questions?

6 Job Search and Application Tips

Summer is coming to a close and companies are starting they search for new hires. If you’re looking to apply to a job think about these 6 tips during your job search.

1. List What You’re Good At and What You Like

Before you start sending out applications to any hiring company, know yourself. List your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, goals and dreams. You’ll waste much less time searching aimlessly online when you know yourself better. You can be more specific in your job search to find a job and company that suits you.

2. Find Something That Suits You and Makes You Happy

Now that you are properly prepared you can start the search. Find a position you can succeed in. Even better, find a company you can support and advance in. Finding a company you can support will give your work meaning and purpose. You’re passion about your work will give you the drive to make an impression and advance through the field.

3. Gather Your Experience and Qualifications

Narrow down what experience and qualifications you have that apply to the job. Think about what you’ll use in your resume, cover letter and portfolio. Do you have any online presence you can included? Or other “outside of the box” qualifiers? You don’t need to list everything on a resume, only items that most apply to the position and create a story about you.

4. Find A Way To Stand Out

When that big pile of black and white resumes lands on the employer’s desk, how are you going to stand out? Will you stand out by the design of your resume? The story in your cover letter? An unique experience? Come up with something creative so you will be remembered.

5. Represent Yourself Correctly

Sometimes we can get caught up in the formality of the job search. Don’t lose yourself in all the paperwork. Make sure you’re presenting yourself in the right way. Don’t sell yourself short. Show some personality and what you can bring to the company. You can do this through what information you choose to share on your resume and cover letter; how you design your resume; and your online presence.

6. Complete The Process

You can find numerous articles and resources on how to create a resume, write a captivating cover letter, properly dress for an interview, and how to prepare interview question and answers, so I won’t dwell on that. Just remember when you are doing the professional thing, be the charismatic you. Show your true self. Let the interviewer get an idea of you are. Genuine personality is more attractive than dishing out answers you think they want to hear.

Today I will be posting more articles and tips on job searching, applying and interviewing on Ask the Young Professional’s Facebook page! Follow today! 

What other job search and application tips do you have?

 

9 Steps To Get An Internship

Recently someone from my university reached out to me for advice on how to get an internship. Luckily my university, Fitchburg State University, had a full time internship program set up for us so we had a little advantage. There are still some basic steps anyone can take to get an internship. I’ve come up with 9 steps for you to follow on your own.

Step #1: Start Early

If you’re looking for interning tips, most likely you’re still in college. That’s perfect. The more experience you can get before officially entering the work field the better.

If I could go back and do college over I would change two things; interning more and going abroad. Going abroad is a completely different story of itself but I do encourage you two explore that option as well.

Interning while you’re in college gives you the opportunity to not only build and define skills that you will need to get a job, but it is also the first time you will be able to see the work force first hand. This first hand experience will allow you to decide if you enjoy in this field before it’s too late. You can also narrow down what specific areas and positions you like.

Lastly, starting early gets you ahead of the game… And the competition.

Step #2 See What Your School Can Offer You

Start by seeing what your school has to offer. Is there an internship program offered through your school? Can you get school credit for your internship? Even if the school doesn’t have anything official set up, professors may have good suggestions on where to look. They also can give you great recommendations!

Step #3 Always Be Collecting and Updating

During your college career it is important to keep track of your accomplishments. Later, when applying for an internship – or a job – you will need a list of your experience, awards and projects to create your resume, cover letter and portfolio.

I highly suggest you create a document where you can keep track of what you have done, if you haven’t already. In this document you should also include the date and a brief description of each item you add. While you are collecting pieces of your professional portfolio make sure to update it at least yearly. The more frequent you update, the easier it will be to recall each experience.

Step #4 Learn About the Company and  Find A Contact

By now you should have selected a few internships to apply to. Before you send in you application make sure to do your research. Start with the company’s website. Learn about the company’s mission and vision statements, what projects they’re currently working on and find a contact.

Learning about the company will help you decide if this is the right choice for you and will help you during the interview. I might be bold enough to say that the contact will be the most important part. The contact may or may not be the internship coordinator. Maybe this contact is someone you know personally or through a friend. Either way it will behoove you to also talk to this contact before you submit your application.

Use this contact to learn more about the company and ask any questions you may have about the industry. This contact they may be able to refer you to the internship coordinator. This should help you make an impression. If it doesn’t work out with this company, you always have this contact to go back to for advice or to refer you to a different company or contact.

Step #5 Apply, Then Make The Call

Now you are ready to apply. A lot of applications are strictly online now, but if there is a number where you can reach the internship coordinator personally, CALL! I cannot express how important personal human contact is.

Of course you will go through the normal routine of applying online just like the other applicants but you will call to ask for an interview. If you do not know what to say here’s a script to follow;

“Hello, Mr./Ms./Mrs. _____________, My name is _______________. I’m calling about your internship program in the _______(say what semester here)______. I have submitted my résumé, cover letter (and possibly portfolio) online. I was wondering if I could come in for an interview.”

They may ask you to call back in a few weeks or a couple of months even. This is because sometimes companies are so busy or they get such a big applicant pool they do not do interviews until closer to the internship starting date. Do not be discouraged, just make sure you call back when they ask you to.

Step #6 Confirm

Normally you’re interview is scheduled at least a week later or more. It is good practice to confirm your date and time before the interview. If the internship coordinator was okay with you calling him/her you can call them, but some prefer email so just make note of how he/she likes to be contacted. You can call or email saying;

“Hello, Mr./Ms./Mrs. _____________, this is ____________. I’m calling/emailing to confirm our interview on __________________ at ____________.”

Then they will reply and you can say something like, “Thank you for your time, I look forward to meeting you in person on ____________.”

Step #7 Have The Interview

It’s the big day! Now you are finally having the interview. Make sure you are wearing something appropriate. There is a debate on how dressed up you should be for an interview. At the very least you should be as dressed up or a little more dressed up than the best dressed person in the office. How do you get this information? Ask your contact! Or go with one of these safeties…

For Women: A dress, but not a sundress. A skirt with a blouse. Or slacks and a blouse.
For Men: A pair of khakis or dress pants with a button up shirt.

Now that you look the part, go over your research and practice responses to interview questions. You can go here to use my mock interview to practice your responses.

When the interview is over make sure to think the interviewer and shake his/her hand.

Step #8 Follow Up

After the interview you will want to follow up with the internship coordinator. You will be thanking them again for the interview and ask when the decision will be made. Jut keep it sweet and short. This will be the last time you talk until you hear the decision.

Step #9 Wait Patiently And Pray!

Now there’s nothing left to do but wait. It will be tempting to call or email to see if the decision has been made. It will also be torture waiting. Just keep yourself busy, enjoy whatever is going on in your life and wait for the call.

** These steps are similar to the steps taken when applying for a job. On Tuesday I will have steps for applying for a job. On Thursday I will have 6 steps to take after graduating. **

What do you think of these 9 steps? Would you add any steps or advice?

Personality and Interviewing

I know I’ve stuck by my girl Dr. Meg Jay saying that identity capital can be the reason someone gets the job over you, but what about personality? Sometimes your personality is the reason why you don’t get the job.

Maybe you just don’t fit into the culture of the company. I know Zappos has a very specific atmosphere they want to maintain in their office. I personally think that’s smart. It is a good way to keep moral up at the office and give good service. Take South West for example, they have such great service! They hire people for a positive personality that can work in some of the hardest areas of hospitality.

You also might not get the job if the interviewer just “doesn’t see it”. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. I can’t say I blame the interviewer either. This can happen a lot when you’re working very closely with one other person. If your personalities don’t mesh, but instead mix like oil and vinegar then there’s a chance it could affect your work.

So what do you do? The way I see it is you have two choices:

1) Find a company that has a culture you fit into.

It is perfectly acceptable to say you do not want to change. You are who you are. Then fine a job that suites you. Are you really quiet and shy? Maybe a salesperson isn’t the best choice for you. Do you have a lot of expendable energy? Maybe you can focus that in a job that involves more physical activity. You might need to think outside the box or maybe you need to come back into the box and reach for something that’s not as extreme. You want to find a place where people are like you. They might not think the same or have the same talents, but they have similar personalities.

2) Be aware of your “unfavorable” qualities.

Are you a very talkative person? I think of Daisy Wick from Bones… I don’t know if you watch the show but Daisy Wick is an intern who is a very fast paste talker. Her boss, Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, is a very serious person who likes her facts. Needless to say Dr. Brennan let Daisy go because they did not work together very well. Long story short Daisy realized her “unfavorable” quality and how to restrain it. She staid true to herself but also made herself easy to work with for anyone.

Which is better? I honestly don’t know. I’m going to assume it depends. It depends on how you feel. Obviously there are cases where not getting the job outside of the job description is not professional or acceptable. There are the obvious discrimination of sex and race, but we’re talking about personality. These two examples I would have to say are legitimate.  I think they’re legitimate because they directly affect work atmosphere and potential.

What do you feel about this? And what would you do if you were in this position? 

 

Related Posts:

Dr. Meg Jay from The Defining Decade – 30 Is Not The New 20

Check out my girl, Dr. Meg Jay! She’s on TED talking about her lessons for twentysomethings.

I did a post series on her book, The Defining Decade, where we learned about the importance of using our twenties to build of future in work, family and personal life. Listen to this talk, read some of my posts, and take the time to read The Defining Decade. If you learn and act, you will be better prepared than most of your peers.

“Thirty is not the new twenty, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.” ~Dr. Meg Jay

Related Articles:

My Guest Post on A Young Pro

It’s the month of May; graduates are walking across the stage and throwing their hats. Then they’re freaking out about how to get a job!

I find twentysomethings split between living the life in college and struggling after they walk across that stage. I hate for it to be that way. How can we prepare earlier? And if we’re knee deep in it now, what can we do?

I share my advice from my experiences and from advice given to me here in a guest post I wrote for Nick at A Young Pro. There’s advice for current college students, new college graduates and those who has been fighting there way after being graduated for a little while.

For more advice check out some of my posts under these categories: