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Failure is a Positive
A couple of weeks ago, Phil Mickelson, the hottest golfer in the world at the moment choked coming into the stretch at the US Open. All he needed to win the tournament was to par the 18th hole. Instead, he had a brain cramp and bogeyed it, finishing second. Rarely do we see professionals screw up like the rest of us. When they do, there is usually a ready excuse.
Team players can always fall back on the “we” such as “We just couldn’t execute today.” Golf is different, though, because it’s a single person sport. Still, there are all kinds of factors that Mickelson could have called into play to explain his performance, or lack thereof – weather, poor clubs, a cold, etc. Mickelson didn’t offer an excuse, though. He stood there and admitted he screwed up. In fact, he said, “I’m an idiot.” He suddenly became a double-hero. He was a hero in the first place because he showed that one of the best players in the world can have a crappy day on the links just like the rest of the world. What really put him over the top was that he admitted failure instead of trying to justify poor performance.
When was the last time you talked to your boss and admitted failure? Failure in and of itself makes us all wince. We don’t like to think about it because it’s painful and uncomfortable. Admitting failure publicly seems even more perilous because then not only do we know we screwed up but everyone else knows too. What do they really know, though? That you are human? That you make mistakes just like they do?
Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing is lying about it, not being honest about it, and not learning from it. The fact that Mickelson could stand there on global television and admit to failure is a huge sign of high integrity. If he can be honest in that situation, you can be fairly confident he will be honest in other ways.
There is an old interview question that still gets used quite a bit - “What was your biggest failure?” Job seekers spend a lot of time trying to think this one out ahead of time and have a good pat answer. I suggest the next time you are asked that by an interviewer you answer with a question of your own “I have a ton of failures. Can you be more specific about which one you’d like to hear about?” The fact that you admit to making mistakes automatically communicates integrity.
An added benefit to admitting when you’ve messed up is an easy spirit. You can relax because you don’t have to constantly worry about covering up your mistake or justifying your choices. You don’t have to worry about someone finding out about your goof and ruining everything for you. Admitting you made an error gives you the opportunity to move on and start concentrating on learning from your mistake and fixing the problem. Real progress can’t be achieved until you learn from the mistake and implement what you have learned.
Resume writing is something that changes over time. I look at resumes that I have written in the past and I always see things that I want to change based on the changes in the market and changes in the needs of the employer. Very rarely, we write a resume that misses its mark. When that happens, we admit it, go back to the drawing board, and start over to come up with a better resume that will achieve its goals. It’s not a matter of being right – it’s a matter of integrity.
Paid to Fail
The entire hubbub about the prenuptial agreement between Nicole Kidman and Keith whatever-his-name-is started me thinking about golden parachutes. A golden parachute or a predetermined severance agreement is basically the same thing as a prenup. Two parties agree to a union of sorts but at the same time go ahead and lay out the plans for the dissolution of the union. It seems to be a logical legal precaution.
I can see the value of a prenup in a celebrity marriage, the lifespan of which will be slightly shorter than the time it takes water to boil. Golden parachutes are a bit different, though, in my opinion. Employment is basically a contract for services (we could make that comparison for the marriage side but I’m not going to go there right now). In employment, the employee provides services (work) to the employer for a fee (compensation). Just like someone who repairs your car, if the work is done satisfactorily you return the next time your car needs to be fixed. If it’s not done right, you find another mechanic. Using the same comparison, if your mechanic had a golden parachute or severance agreement with you before he started work on your car, he would not only get paid for shoddy work, but receive a bonus.
I believe in a free economy. After all, I’m a business owner myself. I go out into the market and make my living, basically, on 100% commission. If I don’t produce, I don’t eat (more or less). For some people who have negotiated a golden parachute, if they don’t produce they still eat, often quite well. This takes away the incentive to perform. Why stress and go all out when you are going to be rewarded for failure?
Don’t get me wrong – severance packages are fine and I believe they are called for when an employee is laid off or otherwise terminated through no fault of his own. It’s generous of a company to assist in costs related to outplacement and lost salary for a short period of time in order to allow the employee to find new employment. I have a problem with rewarding people for failure. We are starting to see this phenomenon all through our society and its effects are worrisome. Rather than rewarding excellence and drive, we dole out pats on the head for failure.
I traveled to Eastern Europe several years ago and noted that the older workers didn’t seem to care much about the quality of work they did. I noted particularly what I called “the rest room ladies”. If you used a rest room in a train station, restaurant, or other public place, it was likely the rest room had an attendant sitting by the door behind a table. In the US and western Europe, rest room attendants make sure the rest room is kept sparkling clean and that any possible toiletry item you need is at hand. For their diligence and excellent service, they are rewarded with tips. In the country in which I was visiting, however, the rest rooms were invariably filthy; there was no toilet paper, and rarely any soap. Still, the rest room lady expected a tip. “For what?” I thought, “Sitting by the door?” In fact, that is exactly what they expected. As my guide explained, under communist rule, it did not matter if you did a good job or not because you got paid anyway. These people were only doing what they had been conditioned to do – expect payment for nothing.
Essentially, that is exactly what a golden parachute is – payment for failure. Even CEOs who literally cause their company to tank still are entitled to their huge severance packages because of the pre-employment agreement they signed. We need to start calling a spade a spade and stop rewarding poor performance. Imagine the success we would see in this country if everyone worked on a 100% commission basis!
Sit and Wait
I hear so many people tell me they are not ready to start their job searches yet but are thinking of “getting more organized” about it at some point in the future. Some have good reasons for delaying getting started such as an upcoming promotion (want to be able to search with the new job title on board), end of quarter bonus coming; kids are finishing school, etc. Some reasons for delaying a job search are just simply procrastination, plain and simple.
Why do people procrastinate getting started in their job searches? I think a big part of it is fear. People are afraid there is no other job out there, that no one will want to hire them, or that they cannot compete against _____-er candidates (you fill in the blank). Many people are afraid of the process itself. “I haven’t had to look for a job in over ten years!” is a common comment I receive from job seekers. Job search can be daunting, especially if it’s been a long time since you have done it. Such fear can lead to procrastination and delay in getting started toward finding new employment.
Another reason people delay in starting a job search is what I call the “familiar evil” syndrome. You may not be happy in your job but at least you are familiar with it and understand what is expected of you. A new job would entail stepping outside your comfort zone and moving through a lot of changes. Change, even change for the good, is uncomfortable for most people. We are creatures of habit and routine and both looking for a new job and starting a new job would upset that routine.
Of the two factors – fear and resistance to change – the hardest one to combat is the latter. Fear can be lessened or overcome but getting out of a rut is more difficult because it is more subtle. Often, we don’t realize we are in a rut to begin with; thus, we don’t realize we need to get out of the rut. The fear of job search is like fear of the dentist – we know why we are afraid but we also know there is a beginning and an end to the process. The resistance to change is more like having a cavity – we know we need to get it fixed but it’s not hurting now so why bother?
What is the cost of procrastination in looking for a new job? Two things spring to mind immediately. First, salary is lost. If you land a new job that pays $150,000 a year, that is $2885 a week. If you are currently only making $100,000 a year, you make $1923 a week. If you put off finding that new, higher salary job for six weeks, you’ve lost $962.
Second, opportunities are lost by procrastinating. How many times have you been surfing the job sites and seen a job that is PERFECT for you but the deadline for application has passed. How many times did you see a great job listed but didn’t have a resume ready to go because you had been putting off your job search preparation? Have you ever had someone ask to see your resume but you had nothing updated to give him? Lost opportunities can never be regained. You should always be ready for opportunities, even if you are not in active job search mode. It is too easy to keep your resume updated once quarterly or once annually.
What are you waiting for? Are you afraid or just not in enough pain yet to make a move?
Take Your Dog to Work Day
I want you to meet someone. His name is Piper and he wears a white suit with a blue bib. Piper is my proofreader, or at least he would be if he could read. You see, Piper is my parakeet and he’s usually sitting on my shoulder when I write and work in the office. He’s quiet most of the time but he can occasionally get noisy, especially if he’s in his cage and I’m out of the room. He doesn’t like working alone. I’ve been trying to teach him to talk but the most he does is turn his head slightly and look at me as if to say, “Lady, you’re nuts.”
There was an interesting article on Fox News online today about employers and their pet-friendly policy (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,200460,00.html) The article says that a survey conducted by Simply Hired and Dogster reveals that 1 out of 5 employers are pet-friendly and allow their employees to bring their pets to work. Personally, I think that’s great! I like animals and feel that pets in the workplace can be a good thing.
This coming Friday is “Take Your Dog to Work Day” and millions of Americans across the country are encouraged to take their canine companions to their places of employment. For me, I take my pets to work every day. Evidently, many of you do, too. The article says that one third of dog owners would take a small pay cut if they were allowed to bring their dogs to work. Productivity gains would also improve and absenteeism would fall with more pets on the job.
More and more workers are home-based telecommuters. Many of our clients bring fully furnished and equipped home offices to the marketplace as an added benefit of their candidacy. Integration of home life and work life is much more common today than ever before with the advances of technology. Is it any wonder that we like to have our pets around us when we work? It’s been proven pets reduce blood pressure and stress. People in high stress jobs might consider a hamster or a guinea pig or even a kitty in the office to help keep stress under control and avoid stress-related health problems.
Elementary education teachers long ago discovered that a pet in the classroom improves class behavior, especially among those students with behavioral disorders or other problems. There is just something calming about animals. Maybe it is their total guilelessness – we don’t have to worry that they are working against us when our backs are turned. Maybe it is their total trust in us even when we screw up big time or have an exceptionally bad day. Animals are cool. Take your dog to work with you on Friday and spread the love!
There is an issue that has hit the news this week that everyone should think about. The issue involves an investigation being undertaken by the ACLU into possible job discrimination by Six Flags America theme park in Maryland. It seems that several black employees who had dread lock-style hairstyles were told they were out of regulation according to the employee handbook and were told they need to cut their hair. The Six Flags employee handbook states that “any hairstyle that detracts or takes away from Six Flags theming” is not allowed.
This story has some interesting points that are debatable. First, does a company have the right to set dress codes and appearance policies? Second, does an employee have the right to sue if he/she does not agree with that policy?
Does a company have the right to set dress codes and appearance policies? Employees are representatives of the company and as such, should present an appearance to customers that reflects well on the company. It is certainly reasonable for business owners to be able to require employees to wear uniforms or hats, dress in business casual, or to wear name tags. Just as dress is part of the appearance, hairstyle, body piercings, etc. are also part of the appearance.
Does the employee have the right to sue? I’m not an attorney but it seems unfair to me for employees to claim discrimination because of a dress code. The employees affected have the right to seek employment elsewhere if the company policies aren’t to their liking. The company has the right to set standards for employee appearance as it affects public image. If an employee doesn’t feel comfortable with a dress code, that employee can leave and find a different job. If an employee doesn’t follow the dress code required and spelled out in the employee handbook, the employer has the right to terminate the employment.
Some general thoughts on the issue as I ponder it come to mind. One of the employees (a teenager) said that his mother already cut 2 feet off his hair but that his supervisor stated it was still not short enough. This particular young man’s job is to dress up in a Sylvester or Daffy Duck costume and wander around entertaining children so his hair is not visible. Personally, I have a lot of hair and it is very thick. I cannot IMAGINE having to dress up in one of those costumes in the summer heat. Sweat would be running into my eyes so badly I wouldn’t be able to see. Hair is HOT! It would seem that having feet-long hair in one of those costumes would be a high risk for heat stroke regardless of appearance or company policy. Should the young man be allowed to put his health at risk for the sake of a haircut?
Do I think the employees should cut their hair? Not if they don’t want to, but they need to make that choice knowing that it may have consequences on their employment and hire-ability. Everyone has choices and all those choices have consequences. One has to determine if the consequences that result from a choice are worth it. If the employee really wants to work for Six Flags, he’ll have to cut his hair. If the hair is more important, let him look for work elsewhere where his haircut may be more acceptable.
We are fortunate to have choices here in the US about jobs. There is no forced labor or indentured servitude. We deal all the time with people who wish to make a change in their employment for a myriad of reasons and they can do it. It’s allowed! There are also good laws on the books that prevent hiring discrimination and wrongful termination. This is not a situation of discrimination – simply a case of employees not wishing to follow the written policies of an employer, policies that are reasonable and understandable.
Wear a Halo to Your Interview
There are many different ways and methods to go about finding a job. Before the Internet, the job search entailed printing out hundreds of resumes on expensive paper, purchasing matching envelopes, and then sending the “packaged” resume out to HR managers at target companies. Back in the “dark ages”, newspaper ads were the primary source of advertising for companies seeking job applicants. Both sending out cold resumes and answering ads were the most common methods of job search in pre-Net days, but there is another method that worked better and even today works better than all other methods – networking.
Networking is a term akin to “root canal” for many people. It takes time, it’s painful to many, and most job seekers aren’t very confident about the results when starting out. Networking is simply talking to people and allowing others to help you find the right person to talk to in the target company. It’s making human connections. With the ease of the Internet for job search, it’s gotten easier to ignore networking because it requires more effort than just posting your resume to job boards. Like in the old days, though, networking is still the most effective method of job search because it is job searching through personal recommendations.
Employers generally give more attention to candidates that are referred by current employees, vendors, customers, or other people who have some sort of connection to the company. Such referrals tend to produce better candidates that fit the positions better. Hiring by referral is also cheaper – no cost of advertising or tedious candidate screening. The benefits to the employer of hiring by recommendation are many.
I hear so many reports from job seekers who come to us for assistance about the results they achieve with networking versus resume posting and answering ads. Almost all report the only luck they’ve had with the resume is when a network contact has forwarded it to the hiring manager as a recommendation. I hesitate to say this, but those interviews are not the result of the resume as much as they are the result of the recommendation of the network contact. I’ve seen really bad resumes that were forwarded to hiring managers that gained an interview; in fact, one was written on notebook paper! The interview comes from the “halo effect” generated about the candidate by the person doing the referring, not the resume.
The competition on the job boards for candidates is brutal. Monster alone boasts several MILLION resumes in the database. A hiring manager doing a candidate search on any of the big boards literally generates hundreds or even thousands of resumes that match the keywords for the position. It is in this environment that the resume really must perform well in order to rank high enough to even be looked at by recruiters.
If you have your resume posted on the big boards, you know you can look and see how many hits your resume has received. Hits mean little to nothing in terms of effectiveness. Go to Google and enter the keyword phrase “vegetable garden weeding” and you will get 282,000 pages found with that phrase or combination of those words in them. Every one of those sites received a hit from the search. If you are looking for weeding ideas, you will probably only go to sites that rank in the first two, maybe three, pages. Resume databases work the same way. If your resume is not making it to the top of that huge pile, you won’t receive any “views”.
Submitting the resume to advertisements that appear on the online job boards is not much more effective. A single job posting can receive hundreds of applicants. Most companies simply suck all incoming resumes for a posted position into the internal resume database and you are right back to the same problem as described above – getting to the top of the pile.
The odds of competition of the online job search make networking something that should be considered more effective and time efficient. If you post your resume online at all the boards and spend hours every week answering ads and you STILL haven’t gotten a good job by the end of six months, what kind of time are you really saving? A few weeks of intensive networking would garner a great job for you in a much shorter time period. Take advantage of the halo effect generated by networking and get to your next job faster.
What Your Email Messages Say about You
I had a young friend of mine who is twelve ask me to read an email he was getting ready to send to a young starlet upon whom he has a crush (ah, remember those days!). I read it over and corrected some spelling errors and capitalization problems. He was rather irritated because he said he wasn’t concerned about that “stuff”—he just needed a female perspective on whether his message was compelling or not. My response was first of all “Don’t ask a professional writer for a read through and NOT expect corrections in mechanics.” My second response was “Your email message represents you. You need to make sure it does a good job in ALL aspects, not just content.”
That’s good advice for anyone at any age. Email has become so common and so easy to use that it has relegated many forms of traditional communication to the history books. Email might be TOO easy, though, because we become careless in its use. We tend to forget that email gives an impression just like speaking or hardcopy writing. Poor email writing gives a poor impression. In a job search, that can be deadly.
In today’s job search, email will be a central method of communication. It is very important that you write emails well when communicating with potential employers or recruiters. Here are some tips that should help:
Spelling and Grammar
Nothing gives a worse impression than bad spelling. Not everyone is a natural spelling but that’s why God created spell-check. Even I who am a great speller (if I do say so myself) occasionally get a word wrong. The thing to do is to set your email application to spell check all outgoing messages before they are sent. It is easily done and only takes a few minutes to set up. It will make a tremendous difference in the way you are perceived by the person on the other end.
I learned this lesson the hard way. Being a natural speller, I figured spell-checking my emails was a waste of time. That is, until I had an email that I sent to a prominent news anchor published to millions of people with the spelling errors still in it. Oh, the pain of embarrassment! Those two spelling errors gave a very bad impression concerning my writing skills not only to the recipient but also to the readers. Make sure your spelling is correct in all your emails!
As we’ve gotten lazier in email communications, the rules of capitalization have seemed to go out the window. Emails that read like ee cummings’ work are common. AT THE SAME TIME, EMAILS IN ALL CAPS SCREAM YOUR MESSAGE TO THE READER AND ARE OFFENSIVE. Follow the traditional rules of capitalization and punctuation in your email communications.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Try your best to keep the common Internet communication acronyms out of professional and job search related emails. Of course, you have to judge the tone and the relationship you might have with the recipient on a case-by-case basis, but it’s generally a good idea to write traditionally, IMHO. Always assume that your email with your resume attached will be forwarded to the CEO of the company and write appropriately.
Finally, develop a signature line that includes all your information. It is irritating to receive an email such as the following “Hi Alesia, I just wanted to confirm that you received the additional information I sent to you last week. Thanks! MS” If the recipient deals with tons and tons of emails on a daily basis, he/she probably won’t recognize the email address or be able to remember who MS is. Make sure your signature line contains your name, your email address, and your telephone number at the very least.
Mediocre Resumes Don't Make the Grade
Ever wonder exactly what a hiring manager does? Let’s take a look inside the process the hiring manager of XYZ Corporation, a small manufacturing company in Wisconsin, undertakes when sourcing for a LAN manager position.
Susan arrives at work around 8:30 on a Tuesday morning and already she’s frazzled. Her car had a flat tire this morning when she went out to take the kids to school and getting her neighbor to put on the donut tire put her behind schedule by thirty minutes. Her inbox is overflowing and the coffee pot in the lounge is on the fritz.
She sits down at her computer and boots up. They posted the new LAN Manager position that Bob Grey is leaving on Monster.com yesterday and her first order of business is to sort through any resumes that have been submitted in response to it. She’s hoping to find a local candidate because XYZ is in cost containment mode and won’t be offering much of a relocation package, if any. The cost containment actions are what spurred Bob Grey, the best LAN Manager they’ve ever had, to give his two weeks’ notice because the promotion he was due was put on hold indefinitely. She also has a very limited salary range and she knows that a local candidate will be more likely to accept that range than someone coming in from California or another high-cost-of-living area.
As she opens her email application, the ding-dong noting that she has incoming mail sounds. She watches in despair as the number of new email messages in her inbox rolls over like the mileage counter on the space shuttle. When it is finally finished, she has over 350 emails waiting in her inbox, most of which have subject lines that say “resume”. She wishes the coffee maker was working because it is going to be a long morning, if not a long day and it’s only 8:40 a.m. Unfortunately, the HRIS (Human Resources Information System) that she requested also went out the window as part of cost containment so she has to deal with these the old-fashioned way – one at a time.
Knowing she prefers local candidates, and going on the long shot that one of them might have his address within the email message area, she runs a quick search on the emails using the name of the city as a keyword. The search brings up three emails of the 350 so she starts with those. By lunchtime, she’s worked her way through about 50 resumes and cover letters. She feels like if she reads the phrase “detail-oriented” or “excellent communication skills” just one more time, she’s going to go postal. She has pulled out four possible candidates and still has 300 more to go. At this rate, she might have a short list of potential candidates by the end of the week, but that doesn’t take into consideration the rest of the applicant emails that she will receive between now and the time the ad on Monster expires. And candidates get upset that she doesn’t send them a personal acknowledgement of receipt of their resumes? It’s just not humanly possible!
Susan’s experience could be and should be made easier with the use of an HRIS system – a computer system that automatically stores resumes and sends the applicants form-letter-type acknowledgements that the resume has been received. Most companies nowadays use such a system in order to handle the sheer volume of applicants that today’s Internet-based job search technology creates. The system also allows the hiring manager to search the resume database for keywords that are part of the job qualifications. Susan is doing it the old way, by hand, but the information she seeks has not changed. She is seeking candidates who are local and who fit the required qualifications for the job. She is searching (mostly by eye), resumes that contain the keywords that describe the job such as “network manager”, “CCIE”, “MCSE” and “enterprise support”. She has a certain list of criteria in front of her ranked in order of importance and she’s culling resumes based on whether she can find this information in the approximately 45 seconds she spends on each resume.
If she doesn’t see these main criteria immediately, she moves on. She may come back and she may not, depending on what the short list of candidates ends up being by the end of the week. Hiring managers who are using an HRIS system are doing the same thing, only they are looking at pre-culled resumes and seeking secondary qualifications and persuasive information such as how a candidate has innovated or made an impact on operations for the good. The standard for inclusion in the short list is higher and makes it more difficult for mediocre resumes of candidates to make it to the short list.
Mediocre resumes that only provide job description and basic information don’t make it to the short list of candidates to call for an interview. Only those resumes that actually sell the candidate can leap the higher bar with hiring managers reviewing resumes that have already been culled at least once by HRIS systems.
Not for External Use
A resume is a marketing document. Its sole purpose is to get the interview for the job seeker. Sometimes, a resume might seem to win an interview when in reality, the resume had nothing or very little to do with securing that all-important meeting. The most common occurrence of this “false effectiveness” is when the resume is used for internal postings of positions.
“I don’t understand. It worked well to get interviews when I was applying at positions posted within the company, but it’s not working at all for external positions I’m sending it to.” That is such a common statement that we hear from clients who first come to us for assistance with their resumes. The problem is they are comparing apples to oranges. Internal positions are not the same as external positions for many reasons. Because of these reasons, they should not be approached with the same mind set.
First of all, internal positions are being sourced internally from the existing employee pool. Results have proven that better hires are made from within the company than from without. Why does this happen? It’s simple. The candidates already have a track record of performance with the company that can be verified. There is less risk involved in hiring a candidate from inside the company than from without.
The process of internal hiring is also different. Hiring managers aren’t making a judgment on the level of the candidate solely by the persuasive powers of the resume. Sometimes, the hiring manager knows the candidate personally or knows the supervisor of the candidate; therefore, an internal hire is more reliant on reputation or record with the company. A hiring manager who is looking at an internal candidate also has the ability to pull that candidate’s personnel records to see performance evaluations.
A hiring manager sourcing internal candidates also has the benefit of a frame of reference. If a candidate notes special involvement in a project on the resume, the hiring manager already has a frame of reference about that project –how large it was, how important to the business it was, and how difficult it was. External hiring managers don’t have that frame of reference. The frame of reference is a key reason that resumes for internal positions seem to work better than for external positions. The reader is coming to the resume with different knowledge and a different perspective than someone would who is outside the company.
The frame of reference and perspective of the hiring manager hiring internal candidates can make a resume seem very effective. After all, from the candidate’s point of view, all he/she did was submit the resume for the position just as he would for a position at another company. What the candidate doesn’t see, however, is the extra information the hiring manager is able to pull from internal resources to qualify that candidate as viable. It is that extra information or frame of reference that makes an internal resume seem more effective.
A resume that is “good enough” to secure internal interviews may very well be too weak to compete on the open market. Most job seekers don’t realize this and are perplexed when the resume that worked fairly well internally does not produce results externally. It is vital in a resume to provide enough detail and information to the reader to be able to create a frame of reference for the scope of job responsibilities and accomplishments. Sometimes, job seekers who write their own resumes find accomplishing this level of detail challenging while keeping the resume to an acceptable length and avoiding lapsing into loquaciousness. It can be done and it is in this area that professional writers excel.
It's Quittin' Time
You are in a job that pays fairly well. You like your co-workers and your boss. But something just isn’t right. Maybe the work isn’t challenging or maybe there’s too much of it – you are carrying the loads of the three workers who were laid off last month. Maybe there is no room for growth or upward mobility on the career ladder. It might be something as simple as too long a commute distance that cuts into your family time. Whatever it is, it is making for a less-than-satisfactory employment situation. What should you do?
Consider your health. Is your job causing so much stress that it is affecting your health? Many metabolic disorders such as diabetes or thyroid problems will crop up during stressful times in life. Serious conditions such as cancer or stroke have been proven to have direct correlation to stress levels. Don’t let your job stress you so much that it makes you sick. A job can be replaced but good health is difficult to regain.
Think of your family. Do you only see your children when they are asleep after you get home? Are weekends so crammed with errands that you can’t do during the week that you are left with no time for fun? Do you talk with your wife or husband more through email than face-to-face? It might be time for a good hard look at your work-life balance.
Where’s the fun? One of the best measurements of whether it’s time for a job change is whether you still enjoy the job. If you are not having fun at the job or at least feeling productive and successful, why are you still doing it? Life is not a dress rehearsal. We only get one shot at this so don’t waste it by being miserable.
What are your priorities? I know a couple who are mortgaged past their eyeballs, have two new cars on which they are paying, a new boat, and are putting in a pool. They both have to work full-time plus overtime just to make all the payments and stay ahead of the repo man. When you overload yourself financially, your job becomes more a paycheck than a profession.
Is there a Boogeyman? Sometimes you love your job but there is one person in the workplace that just makes life horrible. Sometimes that person has serious power over your future. In that case, it might be best to start searching for something new that will offer a safer environment.
Is the job a good fit? Some people just can’t stand being in an office all day. Some prefer to work alone. Some want to be outside or traveling. If you are doing something that simply does not fit your personality, you are not going to be successful and you are not going to enjoy it. Look for something that does fit and can make you happy.
If you decide to look for a new job, make sure you leave the old one in a positive way. Always provide a minimum of two weeks notice (longer if your job is complex or high-level). Always finish projects before you leave or do a very good job in passing them on to the new person or others on the team. Put your resignation in writing on paper (not email) just to cover all your bases. Be ethical and treat the situation as if you were the employer – think how you would want YOUR employees to act. Never burn bridges when you resign a job.
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