How education impacts your job

A reader writes…

Hello Anita,

I have a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Latin America Studies… how am I going to find a job with this background? Please help! 

Dear “Margaret Mead,” (only the Cultural Anthropologists out there will get this random reference!)

Interestingly enough, I too, have a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Spanish Literature.  Who knew I’d be working in the employment services industry for so long?!?  Sometimes it’s not WHAT your degree is in but the fact that you HAVE a degree that matters.   Unless you plan to get a Master’s or Ph.D. so you can become a professor, continue research, or work in a museum…. your specific area of study may not pertain to your future job.

It’s your education and the skills you’ve obtained in school (learning, writing, communicating, analyzing, etc.) that will play an important role in any career path.  If you’re just starting to build your résumé and lack actual work experience, you should definitely include internships or community services.  Focus on your contributions, the skills you had to apply, your level of involvement, tasks you had to manage, or people / projects you supervised.  These are attributes that will transfer to several types of positions and industries. 

Remember, you need to be realistic as you’re starting out in the working world.  Be open to entry-level (and often lower-paying) positions to get your foot in the door.  In time, as you learn new skills and become proficient in your particular trade, the possibilities for growth and advancement may be endless!

Good Luck!
Anita

Employee Perks

A reader writes…

Hi Anita,

I’m noticing more and more businesses are allowing employees to telecommute as opposed to working in an office.  How can I retain my top talent, knowing this is happening and likely enticing my employees to leave?

Dear “Perks,”

I have to admit, in today’s world of the Internet, web meetings, web cams, and social media, the idea of working from home (or ANYWHERE for that matter) is becoming more and more the norm.  While there is something to be said about a traditional corporate culture – where everyone wears a fancy suit and shows up to the office for a set schedule – giving employees the option or flexibility to work remotely definitely has its benefits and long-term advantages.  Employees feel appreciated and more productive knowing they no longer have to sit in traffic, pay for dry cleaning, or take additional time away from family to commute.  Likewise, businesses reap the benefits of having more productive and happier employees, while at the same time, they can reduce or even eliminate office space.  For some companies, this is an option. For others, it is not.

If allowing employees to telecommute is not an option for your business, here are some alternative “perks” and ideas you may want to explore.  While some may seem obvious, they’re sure to boost morale and keep employees actively engaged!

  1. Guest Speakers / Seminars – Remember “assembly day” as a kid in school?  It was always something we looked forward to. Assemblies broke up the standard routine, gave us a chance to get together with our peers, and were either entertaining or offered some insight about something new and different.  I think the same holds true in the working world. Employees crave motivation, inspiration, and a slight change to the day-to-day drill.  By inviting a guest speaker to deliver a pep talk or share some type of insight – it may be the key to spicing things up.  Get those wheels turning! There are several resources you can tap into.  In fact, my friends at Power Training Institute (PTI) host training sessions geared toward managers and staff that you may want to consider!
  2. Flex Schedules – Okay, maybe you don’t want your staff working away from the office, but what about offering a non-traditional work schedule such as job sharing, part-time, four 10-hour days, etc.?  Finding a good work-life balance is very difficult for some people.  The more you can help with this by offering options and thinking outside of the box, the better.  As long as the work is getting done and employees are not taking advantage of the process, I think you’ll find an increase in productivity and overall loyalty.  And isn’t that your ultimate goal? Be careful to show fairness here; you shouldn’t offer this option to one of your employees if you can’t offer it to all.
  3. Mentoring Opportunities – Being given an opportunity to speak with executives or department leaders within your organization may be what some of your employees are looking for in order to gain insight about the business or industry, obtain career advice, learn success stories, etc.  That, plus the fact that this is a FREE option… makes it a win-win for everyone! 
  4. Annual Performance Reviews / Regular feedback – I keep making “school” references, but performance reviews are kind of like “report cards.”  Without them, employees are in the dark – not knowing whether or not they are doing a good job.  Keep those lines of communication open – ALWAYS!
  5. Offer Allowances – Does your company allow employees to take business associates or clients to lunch?  Sporting Events? Concerts?  Or special events?  Sometimes client entertainment can “close the deal,” but if an employee has to pay for such opportunities… it likely won’t happen. By setting aside a certain budget for these types of events or activities, you may see an increase in business and your employees will enjoy being a part of the fun!
  6. Office Space –Having an actual office (with a door) is like a status symbol.  Being given an office is like being given a medal that says “V.I.P!” If you have a hard-working / deserving employee who currently sits in a cubicle, why not surprise him or her one day with an upgrade in “real estate.” Let them know how much you appreciate their work and contribution and reward them with an actual office – if space is available, of course!  You will feel like a hero, and your employee will feel like a superstar!
  7. More Responsibilities – I know, you’re thinking “Huh? How is more work (AKA “responsibility”) an incentive to retain good employees?” In all actuality, people often seek more responsibility and take pride in the fact that you trust them to take charge. Feel out the situation and see if your employee has a particular area of interest that you can help them pursue by assigning them a new task or project.
  8. Salary Increase – If you’ve got the budget…money talks!

There are a number of perks or incentive programs you can explore, but hopefully this list gives you a few ideas to ponder.  I’d love to hear any additional suggestions.  Managers, what have you done to retain top talent?  Employees, aside from being glad to have a job, what prevents you from jumping ship?

Look forward to your comments!
Anita

Interruptions at Work

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

My cubicle happens to be right next to the copier room.  I am asked all the time to make copies or to fix a paper jam.  I’m happy to help, but this isn’t part of my job description.  What do I do? 

Dear “Rob Schneider,” (SNL reference… “makin’ copies…”)

Ahhh… the rumblings and beeping noises of the copy machine!   

It’s one thing to help a co-worker in a jam (…  a “paper jam” in this case), but to constantly be asked to repair the machine, help load paper, and troubleshoot as if you’re the resident technician is too much.  My advice is to hang a sign near the trusty machine (or even on the outer wall of your cubicle) that says, “For help with the copy machine, please contact ______” and leave the name of someone in Facilities (or whatever department applies). 

If the problem gets really out of hand, you could address the issue with your boss and ask to be moved.  Seems a little extreme, but it may solve the problem… and you may score a better cubicle space or even an office out of the deal!

Readers! Please post your comments, or share any fun / interesting “copy machine” stories you may have.  We’d love to hear from you, but please…  keep it clean!

Anita

Including Volunteer Work in Your Résumé

A reader writes…

If I volunteer in the community, should I include that in my résumé?

Dear, “Volunteer,”

Hands down, no question about it, you should DEFINITELY include volunteer work in your résumé. In fact, sometimes the skills, experience, and responsibilities associated with your work as a volunteer will be more relevant than that of your previous jobs.  Just because you were not paid to do something does not make it any less relevant or credible.

For those of you who are just starting your job search and do not have an employment history, you will want to list your volunteer work under the category “Work Experience.”  For others, you may want to include a separate section called “Community Service” (or something similar). You should probably present your Community Service as secondary in importance to your Work Experience, in this case.

The key is to present the information in such a way that it documents and supports your career goal. In other words, you want to feature the skills and experience (whether paid or unpaid) that make you unique – and that ultimately emphasize to employers why YOU should be selected for the position.

My friends at Monster.com posted a detailed article on “How to Leverage Volunteer Work on Your Resume.”  It includes several pointers that I think you’ll find interesting and helpful!

Anita

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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