Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Generation Job Switch Factor

by In Transition Girl One of the things that I find interesting about my new job, even though I still feel in transition now more than ever, are my colleagues' knowledge about generational marketing. I find the trends and behaviors that define generations, especially mine/ours, the millennials, so interesting. In a meeting earlier in the week, my boss had mentioned an article about the millennials as it pertains to jobs, moving and careers in our 20's. I am not sure if this was the exact article, but thought this was too good not to share with you all. After reading this article, right away, I went back and counted how many times I have changed jobs to date since graduation! How does this article below make you feel about switching jobs? Twenty-Somethings: What You Risk by Switching Jobs Too Often By: Christina Vuleta

Millennials can't catch a break. They are criticized for not paying their dues (leaving a job that doesn't fulfill them), yet advised to find their "passion" (leaving to find a job that fulfills them). Before the recession it was career "suicide" to stay in a job too long, so flipping jobs was by choice. Now, with the job market yet to fully recover and unemployment for 20-somethings still outpacing that of the general population, it's by default. Today's millennial goes through an average of seven job changes in their 20s, and according to Pew Research, six in 10 have already changed careers at least once. But what happens when you haven't built up any experience that prepares you for the next level?

While interviewing 40-something women across the country about their 40:20 Vision hindsight on career, I ran across a few who learned the hard way that switching careers too fast in your 20s can leave you in the slow lane in your 30s and 40s. Their career roulette may have been for different reasons than the 20-something today, but their hindsight on the downside of too much switching provides valuable foresight on the risks of jumping jobs too often for 20-somethings today:

Risk One: You Miss Out On Your Prime Earning Years

Some of the 40-somethings I've talked to tried on one job after another in search of cool. Career options in the '90s had expanded from the mainstays of education, law and accounting to include media, marketing, the Internet and more. Many college-educated women back then grew up believing that having a career was a given, but now we had to find one that was creative, and anything but the path most followed. We grew up with "What Color is your Parachute?" so we wanted some color! Yesterday's search for cool is today's search for fulfillment. The problem is, as you start one job, it's not cool (fulfilling) anymore. Then you wake up in your 30s being un-promotable at a time when you often need start being responsible for other people.

This 40-year-old woman left her first job as a software tester because it was too "dorky." She went from gaming to photography to restaurants to fashion, only to wish she had stuck with the program:

I was quitting jobs left and right because I thought all my friends had cooler jobs, and I had that idealized 20s perception that I should be treated a certain way. It was ridiculous for me to think that way. Now I think, "Why I didn't stick with it?" I was really good at it. Instead, it set a pattern of switching in motion for me that came to haunt me. In my 30s I was still at entry level when I should have been in my prime earning years. Meanwhile, my friends were managing things, getting promoted and earning more money.

Risk Two: You Miss Out On What's Now

Similarly, this woman reflects on the opportunities lost. When you're young, you're constantly thinking about what's next, often at the expense of missing what's staring you in the face:

I was never satisfied with the job I had because it was always about what's next. I didn't realize the record label I worked at in the 90s was the place to be because all I could think about was how much I wanted to be at another record company doing a Nine Inch Nails video. I was blind to the fact that hip-hop was changing the world and I was part of that. Instead I kept thinking I had to get to this other thing. Then as soon as you get the other thing, you want to move onto the next thing. --40-something, producer, Los Angeles, Calif.

Risk Three: You Miss Out On Getting The Job You Want

One woman I recently spoke with had just interviewed a 20-something who had 20 jobs on her resume. She'd only been working for 3 years. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, the woman asked the 20-something why she left some of these jobs. Unfortunately, the answers all started with, "I didn't like (fill in the blank)." Suffice it to say, one her better answers was "the schedule." This did nothing to diminish the reputation today's 20-somethings have earned for being fickle, but even less for getting the job at hand.

There's a fine line between exploring what you want to do and following the road to nowhere. It's the difference between fulfilling yourself and filling up your resume with empty jobs where you don't learn anything. The risk is that you end up with no foothold to step up the ladder, or even start your own thing. This 40-something woman who now hires 20-somethings recommends pursuing passion, but only up to a point:

"Get as much experience doing different kinds of jobs until you find that thing you're really passionate about and then pursue that. But try not to do too many things in a period of time because it limits your choices to a degree. Eventually that bouncing will hurt you unless you are someone who's very gifted and learns new skill sets quickly."

It's a tough call. Without fail, 40-something wisdom says to explore, and not narrow down on a career path too quickly. But after a few years, try to do it in a way that builds on a set of skills and passions that can apply to many directions. Some final thoughts from the 40:20 Vision journey:

  1. Don't switch only because of things you don't like.

  2. Do switch if you aren't learning anything.

  3. If you do switch jobs a lot, don't burn bridges. Always be able to take a good recommendation with you when you leave.

  4. Look at other parts of the company to see if there is room to fulfill the need to explore and grow.

  5. Reframe your skill sets to reflect an internal growth path, even if you can't show a "formal" growth path. For example, you were in a band, but you learned money management, event planning and you will never suffer stage fright while giving a presentation.

  6. If you have 20 jobs, don't put them all on your resume -- choose the 5 that you learned something from.

  7. Try not to leave a job before you have another one. Use your job to learn about other opportunities. Talk to everyone, from customers, to clients to co-workers, about what they do and what their path has been.

Of course, today's job market is not the same as it was 20 years ago but it's easy today to get lulled into the thinking that switching today is all good. But before you do, give a little thought to what you've "got" and what you've gotten out of it.

Original article via Huffington Post

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's In Your Closet?

by Lawyer Working Girl

Hey Working Girls guess what? Spring is here! Do you feel it yet? I have definitely gotten a case of spring fever! Are the days getting warmer where you live? By the way, real big sorry to those of you still getting snow this time of year - eek!

This change in weather sometimes makes picking out what to wear to work difficult. And since I walk to work I have to pay particularly close attention to the weather. Some days I want to wear a skirt or a dress, but it's not quite cold enough for tights and not quite warm enough for bare legs. Other days, it will be warm during the day and borderline cold in the evenings on my walk home, so I have to be sure to carry a jacket or coat. I long for the summer where I just have to deal with warm days and warm nights.

There is one thing though that keeps running through my mind each morning as I'm looking through my closet and trying to decide what to wear: it's time to go shopping. I feel like it's time for a brand new work wardrobe.

Some of my shirts are too small and some pants are too tight. I've got so many suits that I used to wear to court everyday that I don't even wear anymore. At my current job, I never wear suits to work. In fact, I don't think I've had a reason to wear a suit in almost 2 years! Also, I sometimes feel like I'm wearing the same things over and over again. It is definitely time for some new clothes!

As I sit down to make my list of must have pieces (cardigan, button down shirt, light gray pants, etc.), I would love your help Working Girls in figuring out some essential pieces for a new spring/summer work wardrobe. Also what are some fun colors that you plan to incorporate into your work wardrobe for the spring and summer?


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Balancing Work and Working Out

By: Editing Working Girl

As a fitness freelance writer, I constantly have running on the brain. I am training for my first half marathon now, so usually at work I am planning when I will get out on the road for my medium-long run, or yawning from the tough speed workout the day before.

Working out and working is hard.

At SXSWi two weeks ago, I made a point to go to the GeekFit panel. There, we discussed working out in the workplace – everything from getting your company to help promote fitness in the workplace, learning to stock your kitchen with healthy snacks and even quick workouts to perform at your desk – and we were all there because we have a desire to not only keep ourselves fit, but help others achieve this goal too.

I am definitely one to sit at my desk and eat lunch on occasion, which according to Shape magazine isn’t a good thing. I read yesterday that people who eat lunch at their desks are likely to eat more during the day, because without a break while having lunch they are less likely to remember what they ate and more likely to snack later because of it.

With my race about 22 days away, I am running an average of 20+ miles per week. Although the majority of these miles are put on during the weekend, it still takes a toll trying to have the energy to get out there for a 6-miler after a full day of work.

Because of this, I needed to change the way I thought about running. I needed to look at it as “me time.” Though I run with my training group on Wednesdays and Saturdays, those other runs are for me. They are a time where I can put my music on and sing, dance, think or clear my head. It is when I can focus on my goal and have control over my pace and breathing – when I may not have finished a goal or had total control at work.

Working out shouldn’t be work.

What about you, Working Girls? Do you juggle a fitness schedule with your work schedule? What is your favorite time to work out? On the weekdays, I am a total afternoon worker-outer. If I get up early to run, I am a mess (I really, really enjoy my sleep). On the weekends, I like to get up early and get my run out of the way, so I have the whole day to go to brunch, write and spend time with my boyfriend.

What is your favorite form of exercise? Do you run, take pilates or yoga, swim, etc.? Me? I am obviously a runner. Something I hope to be forever.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh hey, new business cards. Good to see you.

by Social Media Working Girl

Hey there working girls! Sorry for being a little MIA. There have been a lot of changes on the work front lately. No, I don't have a new job. Yes, I'm at the same place, doing the same thing.

But my job title finally reflects all that I've been doing for the past several years. Hooray!

You see, the title "social media working girl" on this blog is very accurate. I run all the social media for the company that I work for. I manage the social media initiatives, contests, outreach, etc. I'm THE social media gal. But up until about a month ago, that was nowhere to be found in my professional title. It reflected my editorial responsibilities, which for a while, was sufficient. Yet there just came a point when I had to be like, "Listen up, people. I deserve a title change, stat."

In the midst of this realization, I gave quite a bit of thought toward the title I suggested. I came up with three options that:

a) Didn't sound entry-level;
b) Encompassed what I do in a concise manner; and
c) Made me feel accomplished and proud.

Thankfully, the response was positive. I now have two titles--one for the editorial stuff and another for the social media. Updated e-mail signature. New business cards. Success.

I'm glad that I can now add a title to my resume that accurately describes the many hats that I wear day in and day out. And while I'm not much for the whole corporate-bureaucracy-title thing, I do think that this updated will catapult me to new, exciting heights.

So my question to you is, in this ever-changing working world, do job titles really count for anything? Do they even matter?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where did my confidence go?

by In Transition Working Girl

Two months.

This is how long its taken to lose all confidence I had going into my new job. I have lost it all-I feel completely lost and helpless. I feel like I know nothing and everything that I have ever learned has been stripped away from me, literally.

When I made my move a few months ago, I went in feeling so confident and ready to prove myself. I had set goals and expectations of myself and now I find myself feeling weak and powerless. I feel I can't do anything right and everyone is sitting back watching me flail, even perhaps getting some satisfaction out of it.

I have tried to pinpoint whats happening and have some general thoughts. Mainly though they all related back to no one training me or showing me historically how things have been done and then criticizing and making me feel bad when I step up on my own and fail.

Its been a rough transition. Now I know that there is always a learning curve, but making me feel stupid should not be a part of it. This is a major confidence downer. The three former working girls whose job I took over were not here to train me when I started so its my own ball game, starring ME! Which in some regards is a positive because I get to create my own program.

I had a pep talk with my father last weekend and his advice was of course to stay positive (don't let the gremlins get you down), but also learn the people's soft spot who are making me feel bad and learn (not necessarily "be") to be friendly with them. Everyone has them and I need to make it my mission to break the wall down.

How have you handled new job transitions and confidence busters?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Connectivity of Writing

by Editing Working Girl

Writing helps bring people together. It really is as simple as that. Whether it is the relationship between the reader and the author, the author and their work or all of the people reading that piece of writing, there is a connection being made.

I am attending SXSW Interactive this year (yes, I do consider myself lucky) and had the chance to watch a panel featuring Tim O'Reilly. If you aren't a techie you may not have heard of him, but he is the founder of O'Reilly Media, which publishes books on various computer technology topics.

When discussing how he got started in the publishing industry, he talked about how it just started as a venture that he did between his consulting projects. He would notice the lack of documentation about certain types of coding, for example, and decide to put out his own, honest materials. If something didn't work as it should, he wasn't afraid to say it in the book. People really took notice when he crashed a conference one year and sold copies of his latest book outside of the conference - he had a book on a topic people were interested in and could connect with, that they couldn't find somewhere else. They wanted more - and he was able to provide it and establish himself in the publishing world.

This is not to say you can't write about something that already has been written about, but make it your own. Make it speak to someone else and you will find a following. As he continued to talk about communities, he said a great three-line slogan to sum up communities, "Harnessing collective intelligence." Are you a blogger? Don't be afraid to utilize the ideas of your readers? Author, maybe? Bounce some ideas off of your editor.

Your community does connect with you via your writing, but also via your ideas within that writing. Find what connects you to them and harness it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

So, How Am I Doing?

by Lawyer Working Girl

It's that time. I've been with my company long enough to have my first evaluation. I haven't been here a year yet so it wasn't the big yearly evaluation, but it was my initial, post-grace period evaluation. So, how did I do?

When I first got the calendar invitation for my evaluation it wasn't a surprise. I had to fill out a self-evaluation recently so I knew the evaluation was coming. There were several thoughts going through my head. Will my boss's opinion of my performance differ from my own opinion? Will my boss have any negative comments? Will he say I can get a lot more done if I wasn't writing blog posts at work? (Ha, ha. Just kidding, boss.) What questions should I ask?

One thing that I went back and forth on was whether this was the time for me to talk about other opportunities within the company. I have been thinking more about my strengths and weaknesses and what I enjoy doing and how I can incorporate that into my full-time job. I once heard a professional say that you should think of your strengths as the things that make you feel strong and your weaknesses as times when you don't feel so strong. I feel strong when I'm in front of people speaking and when I'm writing. I feel strong when I get to use my leadership skills and interact with other people. I feel weak when...well, you didn't really think I was going to expose my weaknesses to you, did you?

Well, I decided that this probably wasn't the time to talk about other opportunities when I've only been in my position for a few months. I should probably master this position and prove myself before I start throwing out suggestions for new positions.

Back to the actual evaluation. It went very well I'm happy to report! Whew! I ended up only asking one question and that was what can I do to help myself advance? Which areas should I focus on strengthening? And the great thing is that some of the things my boss talked about for my future with the company involve some of my strengths.

That had me thinking about how I'm doing here. Working Girls, I think it's time for my blogging evaluation. Am I writing content that you're enjoying? Is there anything about which you would like to hear more? How can I help you? I believe that blogging should be about an experience for me and for you, so, how can I make your experience more enjoyable?