Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scoring Points in the Second Interview

If you or someone you know are in the Class of 2009 or, heaven forbid, in the Class of 2008 and have not yet landed a job, check out these tips on how to succeed in the second or third interview. In today's economy, not many people are really landing the job on the first round of interviews. Companies are taking their time to get to know candidates and make the right choice. More and more people I know are going to second and third round job interviews and still not landing the job.

The HBCU Career Center has compiled a list of tips to succeed on the second or third round job interview.

Here are the highlights:

1. Know your schedule. You may meet with several people on a site visit and so you should understand your interview timeline.

2. Stay conservative with dress. You may have to survive a meal with employers and so keep business professional attire in mind for dinner situations.

3. Have questions prepared about not just the job, but the industry as well.

4. Brush up on meal etiquette for second and third round interviews.

5. Be courteous to everyone you meet on the visit; from hotel staff to administrative staff at the interview site.

6. Be cautious about how you interact with recent hires who recently graduated from your alma mater. Stay professional.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is your Career Going the Way of the Pontiac!

(Photo is courtesy of General Motors)

General Motors is saying goodbye to the Pontiac! It was a good car, a faithful car but no longer has a place within the mission of the organization in this very competitive market place. It is a sad end for one of America's well known "muscle car" brands.

This fantastic photo of the Pontiac in it's hey day made me wonder, if cars could speak, would Pontiacs everywhere say they saw it coming?

Of course we all know that Pontiacs can't speak, but how would the GM employees who worked on the Pontiac answer the same question? Could they say that they saw it coming?

My question today is - Can you tell if your job or career is moving towards obsolescence? If it is what can you do about it?

As employers continue to down size and right size for our new economic realities, so must employees. Here are some tips to consider if you think your job or assignment might be on the chopping block or you are dealing with other recession career issues:

1. Do not put too much stock in what others say. Evaluate the situation for yourself and use your own good judgment. Remember it was only the end of last year when GM's management said that if they did not receive financial help from the government that jobs would be lost. Guess what? Jobs are still going to be lost. In fact, In addition to terminating the Pontiac brand, GM also announced they were eliminating 21,000 more jobs before the end of 2010.

2. Start scanning the environment and building new job skills that are in demand. Look inside your existing company and then look inside your industry as a whole. Learn about the direction of your industry and where you fit.

3. Make an effort to connect with and support other people. Our tendency sometimes is to think we are alone in our job or career anxiety. This is not true. There are others in the same boat and creating a network of supporters is one way to advance.

4. Act for the present, but stay focused on the future. Remember, your goal should not necessarily be loyalty to company, but lifelong employability.

5. Manage your workplace stress. Employees are facing unbelievable levels of workplace stress during these challenging economic times. Many workers are stressed by extra assignments, workplace bullies who are acting up, declining retirement funds and worries about whether or not their jobs will withstand the next round of budget cuts. Getting a handle on workplace stress is a must!

Of course there are no guarantees that even if you do all the right things, you won't be downsized. However, take the time to manage your own career. No one else can do that for you.

Do you have any tips to share about a job or career that could be approaching obsolescence?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Workplace Bullies Are Acting up During the Recession

Dr. Bertice Berry, sociologist and author calls them “internal terrorists." Workplace bullies, Berry says, "are people who don't understand their own purpose or potential, and because they don't, they try to destroy the purpose and potential of someone else. They would make things wrong to prove that they are right.”

Have you seen workplace bullies in action recently? Seems some people have.

If you have to deal with workplace bullies at the office, you mostly chalk it up to one of the annoyances of the job and not let it affect your work. In some cases when it turns into a you-go-or-I-go situation, some people do walk away from the office, the department or the company. You know the old cliché – people don’t leave jobs they leave managers and the people they work with. Well that is easier said than done when there are more people than available jobs.

It is becoming the you-go-before-I-go .

That was the essence of the conversation by the couple in the check-out line behind me at Trader Joe’s yesterday! One shopper was telling the other about the undue pressure she was feeling from an office bully who was intimidating newer staff to push them out. She stated that this bully was telling junior staff about positions in other departments for which they should apply. The bully had apparently gone so far as to tell two newer employees, that she had not been in agreement with them being hired since she knew that they would unnecessarily stress the company financially.

I guess I have been so focused on encouraging folks to stay positive and pay kindness forward, that I wasn’t thinking about workplace bullies who try to intimidate others out of a job in an effort to keep their own.

One of the newer employees was afraid to take the issue to management, for fear it put a spotlight on him as a troublemaker.

It crossed my mind that the person telling the story may have been misreading the situation. Is it really bullying or is someone just strategically trying to manage their own career? Is it an unsophisticated attempt to try the if-you-go-then-maybe-I-don't-have-to-go strategy?

It sounds like the real possibility does exist that in a tight job market, the workplace bully in some people might be rearing it's ugly head.