Archive for January, 2009

Write A Love Letter To Your New Job

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Working Girl is blessed with many brilliant friends and one of them is Charlene Kingston over at Crow Information Design.  Charlene recently wrote this original take on getting started with job hunting:

Have you or someone you know recently been laid off? Or, are you in a job you don’t enjoy but you are afraid there are no good jobs out there because of the tough times?

 

Are you willing to try a new way to find a new job that is perfect for you?

 

In the midst of updating your resume, filling out applications, searching the classifieds, and networking to find your new job, take a few minutes to write a love letter to your new job. The love letter takes the highlights of your skills, your secret dream job feature, and mixes it up in a new way. This is something you write for yourself, something that helps you get clear about what you want and helps you to feel better while you are job searching.

It goes something like this:

 

Dear perfect job,

I’m in a place in my life where I’m ready for a new opportunity, and I’m looking for you. I am in the happy position of having some time to really get clear about what I want next, and I’m using my time productively to help me rendezvous with you. I know you are out there and that you are waiting for me, too.

 

I have a lot of skills I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve got solid skills in [list your best skills here, the ones you really want to use in your new job].

I’ve learned many related things, but these are the skills I’m eager to use and apply to new challenges. I love working in situations where I can use my full range of experience and knowledge. At the same time, I want the opportunity to grow, to learn more, and to see new ways to solve problems.

 

Since I started working, I’ve learned a lot about how to be effective in the workplace. I understand how to build collaborative relationships with my peers based on mutual respect. I understand that my boss always has pressures and limitations that are invisible to me.

I’m really good at taking responsibility for my tasks, and I know how to ask for help when I need it. I love being part of good team, and really appreciate how great it feels when everyone contributes his or her best to the efforts. I bring my best to the table every day, and I believe everyone else does the same.

 

I’m not sure what you look like exactly, but I know that when I meet you, it will feel like I’ve come home. Throughout the interview process, I will see that your company treats its people with respect. I will love the interviews, and will appreciate the effort everyone puts into asking questions so they find the right person.

 

What I really love about finding you is [Here is your chance to ask for the one really big thing that would knock your socks off. Don’t hold back, dream BIG.].

 

I know you are out there, and I know we will rendezvous quickly. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the process of job hunting for the first time, and I’m anticipating how great I will feel when we do meet.

 

Love,

[Your name]

 

Use this as a starting point to write a love letter to your perfect new job.

 

I would love to read your love letter. If you feel like sharing it, drop me at email at Charlene [at] Crow Info Design [dot] com.  And of course, I want to hear when you land that new job, also!

How To Feel Lucky, Jobwise

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

US World and News ReportsIf you have a job you’re lucky but what if you hate the job?

Some tips for what to do in today’s post over at U.S. News & World Report.

"Top 10 Jobs" Don't Pay That Well

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

That’s Working Girl’s conclusion after studying this recent Forbes article on Best Jobs for New College Graduates Now.

After the standard gloom-and-doom about how now is a bad time to be graduating and looking for a job, Forbes lists what it considers to be the ten best.  The salaries range from $25,950 to $48,750 and, if you take out the big one (actuary), average only $32,146.

Frankly, WG is surprised these numbers are so low.  According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for a college grad in 2008 was $49,224. 

Most of the “best jobs” involve numbers (financial services, securities and commodities, cost estimator) or computers (network systems analyst, computer support specialist).  Only two (public relations and school counselor) fall into the traditionally lower paying “liberal arts” category. 

Still.  Why are these starting salaries so low?

P.S. For more data on average starting salaries for college graduates, check out this post from Political Calculations.

Top 5 Reasons To Improve Business Writing Skills

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Here’s a guest post from Mary White over at the Mobile Technical Institute.

Effective communication has always been an important factor in career success, and the role of writing is more important today that ever before. The ability to write is one of the most important communication skills in the modern business world. Because so much business communication takes place via written methods of communication, writing skills are essential in virtually every field. 

While it’s true that some people are naturally talented when it comes to writing, it’s a fact that writing skills can be learned. You don’t have to be a creative writing guru to create professional business documentation. Effective business writing involves the proper use of grammar, language, tone, and style. These skills can be improved with proper training and practice.

5 Reasons to Brush Up Your Business Writing Skills
There are many reasons to focus on improving your writing skills, particularly if career advancement is something that you are striving to accomplish.

1. Increasing Role of Writing in the Workplace
Historically, writing was viewed as a very formal type of workplace communication, taking the form of letters, reports, and other detailed documentation. Today, a great deal of customer and co-worker communication takes place via e-mail, instant messenger, text messages, and more. Many times, modern workers engage in written communication more than spoken interactions.

2. Writing Skills Reflect Professionalism
It’s a fact that there’s a strong association between writing skills and professionalism. People who are able to write clear, concise, and effective business messages tend to be viewed more favorably in the workplace than those who are less skilled in this area. To be seen as competent, the written messages that you create need to reflect both solid substance and proper form.

3. Improved Communication Accuracy
Many misunderstandings occur as a result of writing problems. Those who are not able to write clearly often convey messages that they don’t intend to send, simply because syntax problems alter the literal meaning of what they are trying to say. Choosing the right words and using the proper sentence structure can greatly reduce the possibility that messages you send are misinterpreted.

4. Consideration for Promotions
The higher you move up in an organization, the more likely it is that you will be responsible for producing formal documents on behalf of the company. Those who hold high level positions are often responsible for creating customer proposals, writing employee evaluations, responding to requests for information from regulatory agencies, and other important forms of documentation. If you haven’t demonstrated a proven ability to write effectively throughout your career, you might find yourself being overlooked for promotional opportunities.

5. Writing Is a Necessity in the 21st Century Workplace
In virtually every profession, being able to write well is a necessity. Technological advances have had the greatest impact on how we communicate, and have placed an increased emphasis on writing skills for professionals in all fields. One of the most important investments you can make in yourself, and in your future career success, is to take the time to learn how to write effective business messages.

About the Author
Mary G. White, M.A., SPHR is the Training Coordinator Mobile Technical Institute & MTI Business Solutions (http://www.mobiletechwebsite.com), where she specializes in human resources, management, and marketing training. She teaches open enrollment classes for MTI, provides on-site corporate training, and frequently speaks at conferences and association meetings. To register in MTI’s next Business Writing Basics class, see http://bizwritingbasics.eventbrite.com/ or call 251-478-6848 to schedule a private training session for your company or association. MTI also provides a variety of consulting services, including IT Training, certification testing, HR consulting services, custom database development and website solutions.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

Toward A New Adulthood

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Pundits are whinging about the dearth of “quotable lines” in President Obama’s inaugural address, but one phrase has been echoing in Working Girl’s brain ever since Tuesday morning:

“The time has come to set aside childish things.”

How very refreshing.  How very much harder than it sounds.

Because, let’s face it, the natural human desire is for immediate gratification and fun fun fun 24/7.  It’s hard to get up and go to work every day, to save for things instead of charging them, to plan long-term, and to do without when necessary. In short, to live the way people used to live, in a time we as a society have nearly forgotten.

It’s all very unsexy, but President Obama knows and we need to know that the path to a life worth living, not to mention a civil society, is paved not with good intentions but with responsibility, consistency, maturity, diligence, and service.  It doesn’t make a very good jingle, does it?  Can it catch on?

WG suspects we’re ready for it.  Former President Bush’s post-9/11 exhortation to “go shopping”–when what we all really wanted was to do something important, to make some sort of sacrifice–fell pretty flat with a lot of people.

Let’s hope President Obama makes adulthood cool again.

Wanna Be A CEO?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

It’s the 21st century, right?  We’ve got a 21st century president and, we hope soon, a 21st century government and country.

Which makes it even weirder that, while women make up roughly half of the workforce, only 12 of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women.  For the top 1000 companies, this number is 24 (down from 25 in 2007).

Working Girl is not the only one who think these numbers are dismal.  Which is why the Forté Foundation was started in 200.  Forté is a consortium of big companies and top business schools working to get more women into MBA programs and thus into the top-management career track.

Recently Forté launched a Career Lab Virtual Campus, an online community especially for undergraduate women aiming for careers in business.  The Virtual Campus has video and podcast interviews with top businesswomen, and gives a lot of practical advice on stuff like how to write a great résumé and conduct a winning interview.  Plus there’s a discussion forum and new features being added all the time.

So if you wanna be the boss someday (and doesn’t that sound like a blast?) click on over to Forté and see if there’s anything there for you.

Why Seeing "The Big Picture" Is Good

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

US World and News ReportsOkay, it’s the day after.  Time to get back to work, people!

But you may still be feeling inspired so here’s a way you can use this “tip from Obama” in your own work and career.  Check it out at WG’s weekly Wednesday post over at the good old U.S. News & World Report.

Learning From Obama's Speech

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Ashley over The Mad Grad wrote a thoughtful, and timely, post today: “15 Things I Learned (or was reminded of) During Obama’s Inauguration Speech.” 

Nice.

Your First Day On The Job

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

It’s President Obama’s first day on his new job.

Which makes Working Girl think of first-days-on-the-job in general.   

Your first day, and your first week, at any new job is super important because the impression people get of you then will last a long time.  Truly.  If you are late for work the first week on a job, you will forever after be thought of as the kind of person who is late for work.  Even if you are on time every day for the next ten years.

It’s kind of annoying really.  But easy to prevent–just make extra sure to be on time when you are new on the job.  Here are some more tips for that first day/week:

  1. Decide how you want to be thought of at work and then present yourself accordingly.  Think of it as establishing your brand. 
  2. Be wary of speedy alliances.  Don’t fall in with any one group too soon.  Be pleasant and treat everyone the same.  Once you’ve got a feel for the lay of the land, then you can start to make friends.
  3. You’ll be introduced to a ton of new people.  Try to remember their names.  If this doesn’t come easily to you (it doesn’t to Working Girl), here’s a little article on How to Remember People’s Names
  4. You’re new.  You don’t need to pretend you know everything.  So feel free to ask questions.  Always carry some note-taking equipment (pen  paper, PDA, etc.).
  5. Expect to be watched.  New employees, even if not officially “on probation,” are scrutinized more closely, and trusted less, than other workers.  It’s true–you’re going to have to prove yourself.
  6. Don’t be surprised if some people confuse you with the last person who had your position.  You may have to deal with whatever legacy that person left behind.  It will take time to build your own reputation and be judged on your own merits.
  7. Until you’ve established yourself as a respected, trusted member of the team, avoid making personal phone calls or surfing the web at work.  Even if you see other people doing it.  (See #5.)
  8. Project an attitude of good humor.  Some things about your new workplace may seem weird, inefficient, annoying, or stupid.  Maybe you’re going to end up changing them.  But first make an effort to understand why things are the way they are.

Even President Obama will have to deal with some of these (especially #6).  You will probably have to deal with all of them.  For more tips, see GL Hoffman’s 42 Rules for Your First Week.

This Is The Week That Will Be

Monday, January 19th, 2009

This week is thrilling, momentous, important, and a watershed in the history of our country. 

So why did Working Girl start it out by taking a quiz asking “What punctuation mark are you?”  Good question.  But she did, and she’s a comma.  Hey, it rhymes with Obama.  

Which may be cosmic but she does wish a bit she’d been an exclamation point, or even a question mark.

A comma? 

Never mind.  Enjoy this Martin Luther King Day, in whatever way you celebrate.

 


You Are a Comma


You are open minded and extremely optimistic.You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.

(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark