Job Seeking Spare Time

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I have been unemployed for 2 months and try as I may, I still am having trouble finding employment. I am starting to get extremely bored and the excess hours of the day are beginning to get to me. With the large amount of free time on my hands, what can I do to during the day that will have a positive impact on my job search and my day-to-day life?

Dear, Stuck With Too Much Spare Time,

Job HuntingBeing unemployed and having nothing to do are not as much fun as many people make it out to be. I bet for the first week or two, it feels like a nice vacation full of sleeping in, leisurely breakfasts, watching television all day, and kicking up your feet. But after a short while, those things you wished you could do while you were working are becoming unbearable and boring. If you are starting to feel down about yourself or feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I ask you to turn that frown upside down. It is time to start being proactive and getting your life back on track.

The first thing you need to do is set a schedule out for yourself. No more sleeping in until noon and watching television until the wee hours of the morning. Most people who are employed are up and out the door in time to be at work by 8 a.m. Now that you do not have a job, what do you think your full-time position is? You guessed it, JOB HUNTING! Immediately, go see my friends at Select Staffing and fill out an application. Chances are they will be able to enter you in their database and offer you advice on how to proceed with your search. You must dedicate at least 6 hours a day to searching for a job. That doesn’t mean just scouring the Internet; get out there and sell yourself. For tips and tricks on becoming a very successful networker, check out my post Networking Know-How.

Try to find a class in your area that will build your résumé and your skills. If you work in a warehouse, look into getting your certification in forklift driving. If you are in administrative or executive support, brush up your grammar and proofreading skills. Do something that will benefit you in the long run and help keep your brain from turning to mush.

Build your résumé while doing something good for others. Locate a charity whose cause is near and dear to your heart and start volunteering. This will give you satisfaction and look great to potential employers. Here you can gain Community Serviceprofessional and life skills, meet people that could help introduce you to new job openings, and also earn a great recommendation from your supervisor that can only shed a better light on your unemployment. I once volunteered at a local charity and after a few months of dedicated service, I was offered a paid position in their Career Center.

Surround yourself with positive EMPLOYED people. This is a very important piece of advice to follow. Typically, people who are unemployed will not be happy with their situations and will inevitably bring you down. They will be more likely to engage you in activities that do not mesh well with job hunting activities. People with jobs will be able to share advice and connect with other professionals, possibly resulting in your next job lead.

Cut out the junk food and take some time to get your body moving. Exercise is a great way to spend an hour of your day. Getting your blood pumping will increase your energy level and spread those happy endorphins through your body. It is proven to relieve stress and ward off depression. Healthy foods will give you more energy and make you feel much better, both physically and mentally. Remember if you put good in, you will get good out.

As tempting as it maybe, try to avoid reading the bad news about the job market and the economy; it will only bring you down. Switch over to reading uplifting books and inspiring stories to keep you in a chipper mood. Go by yourself to see movies that bring a smile to your face. It actually gives you a greater sense of independence. I definitely suggest you give it a try.

Set GoalsSet daily and weekly goals for yourself. These do not need to be huge or intricate. Day one can be as simple as waking up at 8 a.m. and apply to 3 viable jobs. If you do that every day for a week, you have 15 job applications and résumés out in the world. Now that is an accomplishment! As you achieve more, you will begin to feel better and more confident in your abilities. Just remember you won’t get anywhere without putting one foot in front of the other.

Now that I have given a few tips, I want to hear from my readers what they find to be the most important advice for keeping your sanity while seeking employment. What things did you do while you were searching for a job?

Take care until next time,

Anita

Too Sick, or Not Too Sick…

Dear Anita,

I feel a cold coming on!  I need to get work done at the office, but I’m just not feeling 100%.  Also, many of my colleagues tend to give the “evil eye” when colleagues are coughing/sneezing in the office.  Do you have any tips on when it is okay to take a sick day, and when it is not?

Sick_KidDear, Under the Weather,

I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling your best. Coming down with a cold can really put a damper on both personal and professional obligations. Being too sick to work or not sick enough to stay home is a very fine line that is, more often than not, as clear as mud. This leaves you asking the question, what should I do? With cold and flu season in full swing, let’s clear the air and get down to how to handle it.

My general advice is to err on the side of caution, take care of yourself, and stay home for the day. If you are unsure of what to do, even after hearing advice from an old lady like me, here are some questions to ask that might help clarify your dilemma, courtesy of WebMD.

  • How well can you perform your job when you are feeling like death is knocking at your door?
  • Are you contagious and putting your coworkers at risk?
  • Will rest be the best course of action for your body and well-being?
  • Are you being prescribed medications that may make it unsafe for you to drive to work or perform your job duties?
  • Would you like it if your coworkers came to the office and exposed you to an illness?

Sick_WomanIf you are still undecided or afraid of what your employer might think of you missing work, visit your local urgent care center or schedule an appointment with your doctor. Odds are, they will side with me and suggest that you take it easy and avoid stressful/strenuous activities. If you are worried your manager will not take your illness seriously enough, request that your doctor write a note explaining that you are sick and are unable to work.  If missing work entirely is not an option, try speaking with your manager about performing your job duties at home (if it applies to your position).

So take my advice, Under the Weather, and take a day or two off from work to rest and recuperate. Drink plenty of fluids, sip on warm tea, get your fill of nutritious soup, and give yourself time to get better. Trust me, when it is all said and done, you and your coworkers will greatly appreciate it.

Readers: What are your thoughts on staying home sick or coming to work? Do you have secret trick or “remedy” that you use to help you bounce back fast?

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Anita A-choo

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

Refusing Employer Advances

Hi, Anita:

I have a huge problem that I need help addressing. Just recently we had a change in management and my new manager has been making comments that make me very uncomfortable and are beginning to creep me out. I do not want to quit my job. I just want this to stop! Help!

Dear, Avoiding Awkward Advances:

There is almost nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable and uneasy in your workplace. It is unfair and illegal to be made to feel this way. Sexual harassment is a very touchy subject can teeter between intentional advances and harmless playful comments. Your problem may need a simple straightening out, or it could take further action. Now let us get down to how to fix the problem, shall we?

Man_Call_meAs uncomfortable and cringe-worthy as this may sound, confronting the person in a respectful and professional manner should be your first step. It may be a misunderstanding, or the aggressor may not find his/her comments to be threatening or off-putting. If this is the case, you can sweep the problem off your plate and continue on with your work. It may be good to send an email notifying the person of how you are feeling in case you need additional support if things take a turn for the worst.

If it continues, begin writing down every time your supervisor makes comments or actions toward you that make you feel uneasy. Note the time, date, place, and detailed description of the incident. These notes will come in handy later down the line. Be sure to keep these notes in a safe place where they cannot be accessed by your manager or other co-workers. Your personal computer is a good place for these.

Immediately report the incident to Human Resources. Request a one-on-one meeting with your HR Rep. All discussions between Woman_Concernedyou and your HR rep should be confidential, but it can’t hurt to reiterate your desire for discretion before you begin speaking. Bring any documentation and explain how this makes you feel. Do not hold back. You deserve to work in a comfortable environment.

Remember that you should never be ashamed for the way you feel. If you are uncomfortable, it is your right to stand up for yourself. Who knows? You may not be the only one experiencing these advances.

Take a look at this short video about how to recognize and handle sexual harassment in your workplace:

Readers: What other actions could you recommend that will help resolve this issue? Have you been in a similar situation that you are willing to share?

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

Warm Wishes,

Anita

Making the Right Hire

Hi, Anita:

I have just received notice from one of my employees that he will be resigning from his position in 2 weeks. What tips can you offer that will help me make sure I am making the right hire to fill the opening in our team?

Hi, Hoping to Hire Smart:

Thank you for the question. At one point or another, all managers or supervisors are faced with the challenge of selecting and hiring a new employee. Once you have spent hours sifting through résumés and aInterviewpplications to weed out the definite “no”  candidates, it is time to begin contacting the promising ones to schedule an interview.

The information gathered during the interview provides the strongest insight into whether or not hiring this person is a smart decision. Not only do you need to look at the candidate’s professional experience, but you also need to take into consideration whether or not this person meshes well with your company’s culture and current team dynamics.

One bad hire can throw a wrench into your well-oiled machine, so take note of the following:

  • Understand that making the right hire is not a race. Take the time you need to find a candidate that best suits the position and your company culture. Don’t let pressure or the copout of “I had no other options” be the reason you make a hiring mistake.
  • Utilize behavioral interviewing techniques. Ask questions that require honest, on-the-spot answers, not carefully rehearsed responses.
  • Before the interview, carefully review the candidate’s résumé and be prepared with questions that will provide insight into past, present, and future performance.
  • Test the skills of the candidate. Just because they listed them on their résumé doesn’t mean they can actual do them.Oops Sign
  • Talk to your team to get a feeling of what they want in a new hire.
  • Ask for and check references. Explain the job description the candidate is applying for and how well this person would perform in the role.
  • Be honest with yourself about your selection and interviewing skills. If you are not confident that you can make the perfect hire, contact a professional staffing agency like Select Staffing. They take the worry and hard work out of finding your next employee. With their skill evaluation tools and strict screening process, you can be sure that the bad apples stay away from your basket.

Here is great video from Microsoft Small Business about the importance of hiring the right people.

I hope this information helps you make the best hire for your open position!

Readers, what do you think is the reason why bad hires happen and what do you do to avoid them?

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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