Have Diploma. Will Work.

A reader writes:

Hi, Anita!

I am graduating from college this coming August and have started to take on the full-time job of seeking employment. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Management and would like to pursue a career in Human Resources. Can you point me in the right directions to landing my dream job?

Hi!

Thanks for the question and congratulations on graduating! It is that time of year again when college graduates are getting their minds into full-blown job-hunting mode. With our country’s job market still a little shaky, recent college graduates will Have Diploma. Will Workneed to work harder than ever to gain employment in their field with the perks they desire. I hope most of you have taken the time out of your school schedule and obtained internships or even positions with companies that you wish to work with in the future. If you have not, have no fear.  Miss Anita has some tips and tricks just for you.

To start your search off on the right foot, you must begin developing and building a network through personal and professional contacts. You never know who may have the inside source to lead you to your first out-of-college job. The more you interact with your peers and other professionals, the wider you will make the road of opportunity.

The single most important pieces of paper that you can have during your job search are a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter. Many universities and higher education institutions offer résumé writing assistance and with some tips from yours truly, you will be on your way to employment in no time. I suggest that you check out two of my posts, How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter, for some more information on the subject. Be sure to include work and volunteer experience, hobbies, and educational background. Make the hiring managers take notice and have a reason to call you for an interview.Diploma

I know we all fantasize about the dream job that we wish to have right out of college. For some, this may become a reality, but for the most of us, it will take time to obtain the skill sets needed for the position and to move our way up. If you are offered a job that is not in the ideal field of your choice or may not be exactly what you are looking for, take the job. Every job opportunity is a gateway to any number of experiences that will benefit you in the future — not to mention a great résumé builder.

Before exhausting every job board, website, and career center on the web, I suggest filling out an application and scheduling an interview with a temporary agency like Select Staffing. Temporary positions will allow you to dabble in a variety of fields and give you great experience. You can test out what you like and don’t like about a job and learn about the working world. Very often, these temporary positions turn into full-time employment with the company you are working with. For more information, visit their website at www.selectstaffing.com .

Ramit Sethi,  author of the New York Times bestselling book I Will Teach You To Be Rich has a great video and article in Forbes about landing your dream job that I think is worth looking at. Read it by clicking here and view it below!

Are you currently searching for a job out of college? If you have some advice or great stories to share, I would love to hear them.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

-Anita

Rules for Requesting R and R

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita,

I am looking into taking a vacation this fall with my husband to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. For the dates we want to travel, I will need to take off 5 days from work. I am always nervous to ask for time off for appointments so a whole week has become very daunting. What can I do to ease my stress and get the time off with my hubby?

Dear Getaway Gal,

Every once in a while, you may run across the need to ask your boss for some time off from work. We all need a few days off to spend with family and friends, or a week off to celebrate an anniversary, or just some time away from work to recharge our batteries.  For some people, this is stress free and a no-brainer; for others, it can be full of anxiety and nervousness.

Couple_On VacationTo start, it is always best to present your request in writing. Many companies will have a template available for you, but if not, you can create your own or use a template such as this one provided by Microsoft Office. Fill this form out with your signature and date, and ask that your supervisor do the same, noting his or her approval or rejection. It will be helpful in case a discrepancy arises and your time off is contested.

Before you ask for time off, make sure you are prepared to answer any questions that may arise during the discussion with your boss. Evaluate and understand the current status of projects and your general workload.  Be mindful of the impact that your absence may have on your work and on those on your team.

Reassure your manager that you are prepared to take on any negative impacts that may arise as a result of your time off. It would be helpful to work out a plan with a co-worker to assist you when you are gone in exchange for helping them in the future. Try your best to come up with a great solution or an acceptable alternative course of action for issues that may occur Suitcaseswhile you are away.

Be aware of the amount of time that your employer has allotted you for vacation/sick days. Typically, it is not an issue for an employee to take time off as long as it is covered by the time given in your employment contract. If your need exceeds this amount, be prepared to explain clearly why you need extra time off, but remember that you do not need to expose all the details about your absence. You are entitled to maintain your privacy.

Finally, follow up! Just because you discussed it, got approval, and have it set in stone on your end, it can’t hurt to remind your supervisor as the date approaches. If you have a calendar that is shared with your boss, send an appointment request to be added to their calendar. Also one week prior, send out an email to your co-workers informing them of your upcoming absence to allow them time to get input or materials from you before you leave.

Readers- What are some issues you have run into when requesting time off? Was the stress of coming back from vacation worth the time off? I would love to hear from you.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

-Anita

Place of Productivity

A reader writes:

Dear, Anita,

I have been on a mission to revamp my office space from one filled with distractions to one that encourages productivity. I am having difficulty clearing out and organizing my desk and removing clutter off of my desktop. Do you have any suggestions or tips that may help?

Thanks for your question. For many of us, we are bound to our desks 8+ hours out of the day, 5 days a week. The typical American has a little more than 16 waking hours per day, meaning that 50% of our workdays we spend at a desk. It is important that this space be a work environment that harbors and promotes productivity so we can get the most work done in tPlace of Productivityhe time we have. Here are some tips for making your space as functional and productivity-friendly as possible:

There is almost nothing more difficult than trying to streamline your thoughts when your desk is a cluttered mess. Have you ever tried running through waist-high mud? Neither have I, but I assume it would be much more difficult than running through air. Discard any memos, Post-its, or other unnecessary items, and develop a system for organizing incoming papers and papers for current, future, and completed projects.

With the usage of electronics in our lives and work place, we are beginning to have our desk overrun by power cords, phone chargers, USB cords, etc. It is becoming a wired jungle! To keep these wire weeds at bay, start by rearranging your desk so that the appropriate cords are closest to the electronic they are paired with. It doesn’t make much sense to run your phone cord across your desk when you could just move the phone closer and save the cord space.

Set aside some dedicated work time where distractions and interruptions are kept to a minimum. I suggest taking about 2 hours per day to strictly focus on work. Inform your employees that you are not to be disturbed unless it is an emergency or an urgent matter.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different work station arrangements. Many people have tried and raved about swapping out their office chair for an exercise ball a few days a week. Try working from a different side of your office every few months to change your outlook. Brighten up the color palette in your space to breathe new life into your surroundings. Bring in pictures of your friends and family, or a few shots from a recent trip you just took.

For an example of an office redesign, check out this video on Feng Shui for the Office:

The opportunities to create just the right space for your productivity are endless. Take the time to put your own personal touches on your space, dedicate time to yourself and your projects, and free yourself from wire entrapments and cubicle clutter.

Do you have an interesting work space, or are you trying out any new unconventional office furniture arrangements? Post them in the comments!

Well wishes,

Anita

Summer Job Seeking

A reader writes:

“Dear, Anita,

I am a sophomore college student spending this summer in a beach town to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. I really need to find temporary employment but have little-to-no real work experience. I have been searching but seem to be having no luck. Do you have any advice for me that will help me land a great summer gig?Summer Job Seeker

Thanks for the question, Summer Job Seeker!

Many students come out of their first year of school needing to make some extra money for the fun-filled year ahead of them. Others crave some real world experience to apply the skills they have learned in school. The challenge that most students face is a lack of real professional work experience to bring to the hiring manager’s table. Sure, you may have had your own lawn-mowing business in highschool or a lemonade stand at your community pool, but although these are great experiences, they are not something that will pump up your résumé.

Even though your résumé may be slim on professional positions, volunteer experience can have a large impact as well. Most high schools require that all students complete a minimum number of hours of community service in order to graduate. Contact the organization that you worked with and request a written recommendation documenting their experiences working with you. This will provide the hiring company with some understanding of your work ethic, attendance record, and contribution potential.

BSummer Job Seekere driven. There is nothing more powerful than the eagerness to work and learn as much as possible. This alone can bring your name to the top of the interview list. If you come in prepared, with a confident attitude and a bright outlook, you will surely stand out in the mind of the hiring manager. Don’t forget to dress professionally from start to finish of the job-seeking process. For guidelines and tips for nailing your appearance and attire, check out my recent post, Dress for Success.

After you have filled out an application with the potential employer, don’t let them forget about you. No more than 3 days after submitting your application, résumé, and recommendations, call or email to respectfully inquire on the position you applied for. This will not only show them your interest in the opportunities they have available but your desire to work for them.

I wish you the best of luck, Summer Job Seeker, and all of you that are seeking employment during these sunny months.

Are you looking for summer employment or have some tips and tricks to share with your fellow readers? Post them in the comment box!

Thanks again for the question and if you have comments, leave them in the box below! Do you have a question that you need help answering, visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/!

-Anita

Celebrate the Smart Way!

Loyal Readers –

The Fourth of July is tomorrow, and for many of us it is a day off from work! Woo hoo! Holidays are opportunities for people to let their hair down, relax, and celebrate with friends, family, and sometimes professional colleagues. Before this Independence Day holiday, I wanted to touch on the subject of out-of-office party behavior.

Even though we are not in the office during normal business hours, our behavior at such functions can have a large impact on how we are perceived by our colleagues. In the case that you are invited to function that has co-workers or superiors present, it is best to follow a few simple rules that can ensure you reputation is not tarnished.

  • First and foremost, remember that your behavior at these types of functions will have a direct effect on how you are perceived by your peers. Even if it is not an office-sponsored event, a person’s memory will not distinguish between the two. This can be used to your advantage or to your detriment. Approach these events with professionalism, politeness, and poise. You never know who is watching, listening, or will hearing stories after the event.
  • Stick to the hours given on the invitation. No one likes it when people show up late to the party and/or drag it into the wee hours of the night.
  • Watch what you drink. I cannot stress this enough! Even though you are celebrating, you must keep in mind that the party punch may be stronger than you anticipated. I suggest you have a vodka tonic, but hold the vodka. No one will know the difference, and it will help the “Let me grab you ANOTHER drink”-ers at bay. If you must have an alcoholic beverage, stick with beer or wine beverages. It will help you gauge the amount of alcohol you are consuming.
  • Try your best to leave sensitive topics at the door, just as you do in the office. I suggest that topics such as politics and religion be kept off the menu. Any conflicts that may arise will surely find their way back into the workplace. You may feel free, of course, to discuss all the wonderful advice you’ve gotten from dear old Anita!
  • Be sure to have a bite to eat before arriving at the party. This will have several great benefits for you during the event. It will help absorb any alcohol you consume. You will be less likely to be found parked next to the buffet table the whole night, when you should be mingling and socializing. It will give you the extra energy to make multiple connections and be at your best.
  • If you choose to bring a guest, be sure to remind them that your colleagues will be there and that their behavior will be a direct reflection on you. If they do not respect your wishes of a subdued celebration, it would be wise to ask them not to join you.
  • Remember that personal space should not be forgotten. Being overfriendly and touchy-feely with co-workers can make them or others uncomfortable and may send off the wrong message. Wrong messages can turn into sexual harassment conflicts down the road.
  • Dress appropriately. Even though you are out of the office, it is not an excuse to wear your skimpiest bathing suit or your outfit from Spring Break 2004. Use your best judgment, and if you are unsure what to wear, do not be afraid to ask.

Another nice thing to do is to bring a dish or drink to share with your colleagues. I found a clever and patriotic drink recipe that will be a hit without the liquor-packed problems:

Patriotic Punch (makes one serving)

3 ounces fruit punch
3 ounces blue Gatorade (not sugar-free)
3 ounces diet 7-Up or Sprite (must be sugar-free; so diet only)
ice

Fill glass 1/3 full with ice cubes. Pour fruit punch almost (but not quite) to top of ice cubes. Fill another 1/3 with ice cubes and slowly pour blue Gatorade almost to top of cubes.
Fill with final 1/3 ice cubes and slowly pour sugar-free Sprite. Add straw and voila!

Readers – do you have any other tips to share? What techniques have you found successful when navigating parties with your colleagues?

Wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July!
– Anita

For more tips and a few laughs, see this YouTube Video:

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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