WORKING ON THE HOLIDAYS: WHEN TO SAY NO

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SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 27, 2013

Thanksgiving (or, more appropriately, Thanksgivukkah) is the real kickoff of the holiday season, and it’s a time full of obligations.

You’ve got obligations with family and at work; you’ve got Uncle Joe’s party you don’t want to go to, and your boss has this dinner or lunch thing that everybody has to go to. The big question is, should you honor these obligations?

We want to help you figure out where that thin line is—when you should buck up and say “no more,” or when you need to take one for the team and just tell yourself “I got to do this, there’s no way around it.”

Black Friday has turned into Black Thursday, which is making us think about this issue. Suddenly, beyond just the partying obligations and the gift-giving, there’s a new obligation that’s creeping up—Black Thursday.

Black Thursday is this new trend where stores like Wal-Mart, Sears, Macy’s, JC Penny all have decided to open up on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving and July 4th are really the only big, secular holidays we have where we don’t have to worry about religion of politics. Now that these stores are opening up on Thanksgiving, the employees that work there can’t really say “no.”

Here’s one side of the issue: times like these are the best opportunities for employees to buck up and get into a leadership role. It’s an opportunity for you to get out there and rally your teammates and co-workers to do a great job, even on a holiday, because it’s going to look amazing to your supervisor and boss. They’re going to remember that you chose to be onboard.

But where’s the line? When should you come in for no extra hours and no extra pay, and when should you finally say “no”? We’re not just talking about Black Thursday. We’re talking about any time of the year where your boss is making you work when you’re not comfortable working.

Here are several points you should consider before deciding that crucial decision whether to come in or stay home:

  • You have to figure out how much leverage you have and how replaceable you are. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to put my job on the line and basically tell management that it will be harder to replace me than to give me what I want?” Don’t undersell yourself; you may have a lot more leverage than you think.
  • Ask yourself: “Am I getting anything from this job? Why am I here?”  When you have a hard time finding a solid answer, it goes beyond simply drawing a line in the sand, it might be a signpost: when you put your all into a job and there is nothing left to be returned, it’s time for you to start looking for a better one.
  • If you still have something to learn, if you need this job to pay the rent, if you don’t have any leverage, the bottom line is that you have to do what management wants. Remember: don’t operate out of fear, just figure out your leverage with the company.

To put it in more coarse terms: you know where the line lies by the grip management has around your throat. If you’re somebody who feels like you’ve learned everything you can at the job and there’s no more promotions for you to get, and they’re still giving you a hard time, it’s time to find another job.

But if you need the job, you go in. Don’t whine and complain—make it an opportunity to thrive and succeed and be a leader. If you can’t pay the rent, and Wal-Mart or whoever is giving you the opportunity to work, clock in and stop complaining.

FIRE OF THE WEEK: WHITE SUPREMACIST CRAIG COBB

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next. 

SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 13, 2013

Our Fire this week is white supremacist  Craig Cobb. You may know him as the guy that bought up most of the properties in Leith, North Dakota, in an attempt to create a whites-only town.

Cobb was on a British TV talk show, the Trisha Goddard show, last week, where he was discussing racial purity. Trisha decided to do a racial purity test on the show and Cobb agreed. Guess what? Turns out Cobb is 14% sub-Saharan African according to his genome.

But the reason he is our fire of the week is not because he’s a white supremacist (despite this being a good enough reason), but because he was so blindsided by his beliefs.

If you’re going to a meeting or a presentation and you get blindsided because you can’t anticipate basic questions, you end up looking like a fool. When Cobb was asked to give his DNA, he should have realized he was walking into a trap.

You can avoid embarrassment simply by being prepared and anticipating what can go wrong.

ONE CRUCIAL TIP TO HELP YOU GET MORE JOB OFFERS

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Uncle David has gotten every job he has ever gone for, so when he gives job-hunting advice, you better listen up. Join us every week for Uncle David’s 100% Successful Job Hunting Tip.

SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 13, 2013

When you’re sending your resume out, save all that pretty formatting—the boxes, the graphs, the shading—for the resume you print out and physically hand to employers.

When you send your resume out to large companies, or even a medium-sized one, they have something called the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This is how HR manages the thousands of resumes they get.

This tracking system reads the resumes electronically—and all those little boxes and shadows and fancy lettering stop the program from properly reading your resume. This is a big reason you haven’t been getting as many job offers as you should be. The system just can’t process the awesomeness of your resume.

So here’s what you do: have two versions of your resume. One to physically give to someone in an interview, or to mail out, or to attach as a PDF. But then you’ve got your ATS-friendly resume.

If you have to upload your resume to a system, make sure you attach a version stripped of all the fancy formatting.

ARE YOU BEING TOO SENSITIVE AT WORK?

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SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 13, 2013

We keep hearing stories of bullying at work, and our first reaction is “oh brother, here we go again.”

We are outraged at all the bullying drama going on with the Miami Dolphins. In case you’ve been living on another planet, here’s the scoop: One of the players, Jonathan Martin, actually quit the team because he said he was being bullied by another play, Richie Incognito.

We’ve heard the tape.

We’ve heard what Incognito said, and no doubt at first we were taken aback when Incognito dropped the N-bomb, and talked about killing Martin and all that crazy stuff. We had our pitchforks on hand, but then it dawned on us.

It started coming out from Martin and Incognito’s teammates that these guys were buddies. This sort of “abuse,” this “bullying” was just typical locker room culture. Nevertheless, there was something wrong with this situation.

Look, if you let every comment about you affect your work, you’re not going to have a career. People are getting too sensitive, and no one’s going to want to work with you if you’re the office crybaby.

That said, we know there’s a thin line between what’s part of the culture and what’s stepping too far. We’re here to find that happy medium.

We love having a fun office environment where you can tease your co-workers in jest and get up in everybody’s grill, but you can’t do this from day 1 and start going at them when they don’t even know the landscape. You’re putting them into a threatening position right away.

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as recurring workplace mistreatment that is detrimental to an employee’s health. There are three types of bullying, according to the WBI: verbal abuse, which is obvious; offensive conduct, which is intimidating or humiliating an employee; and finally, work interference or sabotage, where you obstruct someone’s ability to complete work.

Verbal abuse and sabotage, we believe, are both clear cut. But offensive conduct is too broad and too vague. This is where you can end up really hurting your career and getting a bad reputation in the office.

Our issue is that due to unclear wording, a license is granted to the crybabies and control freaks who use it to, in a weird way, bully and control their co-workers. These are the people who are going straight to HR and gossiping and trying to destroy their co-workers’ reputations.

Steps need to be taken to insure that you don’t end up being the bully yourself and ruining someone’s career because you feel “offended,” as well as recognizing when you have the grounds to take action.

1) First, go up to the perceived aggressor and kindly tell them that what they’re doing is bothering you. Privately.

2) If it keeps happening and they just don’t get the message, then there’s a problem. Let’s say you have an issue with a co-worker having an offensive ringtone. If it goes off accidentally, or the employee simply forgets to change it, that’s not bullying. If it’s purposely played over and over, then you have grounds for taking action.

3) If you realize that you’re being bullied, first thing to keep in mind is that you should NOT quit. Quitting will make it easier for your boss to deny you benefits that you’re due, and it will make it easier for the office to make a case against you if you wish to bring the issue to court.

4) Don’t quit until you handle the situation from within. Document everything. Write down names, times, dates and exact phrases being used. This is how you protect yourself. If you need really need to take this to court (and this is something you need to think through very thoroughly), remember that you have only 300 days to file a charge under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Don’t wait two years.

You don’t want to become the employee who everybody’s afraid to joke around. But you should also recognize when your co-workers are going too far. It’s a thin line, and it’s hard to see, but it can be the difference between justifiable action and a ruined reputation.

YOUR GAY CO-WORKER HAS A RIGHT TO EARN A LIVING

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

You need to deal with the fact that your gay worker has a right to work in the same office.

This is coming up because a Republican polling organization has just found out that 68% of Americans support a federal job protection bill for gay people, including 56% of Republicans.

Which is great, but what we find most interesting about this is that if you change the wording and take out any mention of gay people, support goes up to 88%. In other words, if you ask somebody, “should a company fire somebody based solely on his or her performance,” 88% of people agree with that. Being gay, of course, is not part of your performance, so there is a noticeable 20% disparity in support when the wording is included.

If you’re one of these 32% of people who thinks it’s okay to fire somebody because they’re gay, we’ve got one simple piece of advice for you: get over it. The world is changing, and you’ve got to keep up with it or you’ll end up on the losing side.

The bottom line is, learn to deal with your co-workers or you won’t get very far in your career.

GOT A MESSY DESK? YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO BE CREATIVE

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

The Harvard Business Review just came out with a fascinating study that compared those who keep their desks extra neat with those who stick to more haphazard means of organization.

Research showed that those who had papers scattered in organized piles on their table were five times more likely to have a creative idea than those that kept everything neat.

Apparently, a somewhat disorderly environment seems to aid creativity by helping people break out of tradition, order and convention.

Next time you decide to arrange your office supplies in alphabetic order, remember that a bit of chaos in your work area can help jump-start some creative thinking.

HIRE OF THE WEEK: NETFLIX CUSTOMER SERVICE REP MICHAEL

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

Michael, a customer service rep at Netflix, with just one online chat conversation, has made a Netflix fan for life.

A man identifying himself as Lt. Norm contacted Michael with a technical issue. Michael kicked off the conversation with, “This is Cpt. Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?”

Lt. Norm went along with it brilliantly, and what ensued was a hilarious ship-themed dialogue regarding the issue. A customer service rep actually had fun with a customer.
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Instead of sticking to the script and letting his job dictate who he was, Michael let the script work for him. This is the kind of connection you need to make at your office. No matter what you do, don’t just be the script, don’t just be the job: be something more.

Making that connection and having that kick in your step will make you happier and will get you noticed.

TWO FAST-GROWING, HIGH-PAYING CAREER FIELDS

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 9, 2013

Two quickly-growing, high-income career fields are currently hot on the market:

Radiation therapist: This is the tech who actually takes the X-rays and MRIs. The pay is excellent: 70k – 80k with relatively little training. This field is growing fast. Just remember, you’ll need to be decent at interpersonal communication, since you’ll be talking with a lot of nervous people. If you’re not into the whole people skills thing, there’s always…

Dental hygienist: Okay, fine, the people who clean your teeth usually never shut up. But hey, the guy in the chair can’t talk back. This field is one of the fastest growing in America, expected to expand 38% by 2020. The median pay as of 2010 is just under 70k.

Also, be sure to check out our excellent job tools page for some great career-hunting resources.

FIRE OF THE WEEK: SUPERINTENDENT DR. KATHLEEN MALONEY

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next. 

SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 9, 2013

Dr. Kathleen Maloney, Superintendent of the Port Washington school district In Long Island, New York, has temporarily banned footballs, soccer balls, baseballs—basically anything that may cause injury—at a local school. Why? She wants to make sure that, “the children have fun, but are also protected.”

Maloney, we know you’re trying to protect the children, but let’s face what’s really happening here: you’re a control freak. You’re acting just like the refrigerator nazi who labels everyone’s food. Part of being a kid is stumbling and falling and getting hurt—let it happen.

Eventually someone’s going to eat your sandwich, and eventually a kid’s going to scrape his knee. Maloney, you’re not helping by being the den mother, you’re just exercising your need to be in control.

We say, play ball!

FOUR OF THE WORST JOB HUNTING TIPS EVER

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 2, 2013

Carmel Lobello from TheWeek.com did an excellent job compiling four of the worst job-hunting tips of all time. We enjoyed the list so much we decided to give it our own take.

1) Send a shoe, get the boot:  GuerillaJobHunting.com suggest you should get a cheap pair of shoes, take one out and put a note in the box with the remaining shoe saying: “Now that I have one shoe in the door let me introduce myself…” This is job hunting folklore, it’s common knowledge not to do this. But sometimes people just don’t get the message. A Stern Business School applicant actually tried this—he sent in his application, and then sent in the shoe. We all know how this story ends: a big fat rejection.

2) Force them to meet you at Starbucks: One of the items on a list of guerilla job hunting tips from Salary.com advises you not to fall for the “trap” of sending just your résumé and salary requirements while forgoing “engaging on your terms.” What exactly are “your terms”? Sending a potential employer a $1 Starbucks giftcard, and then asking them to “meet for coffee at a nearby location. At that time bring your résumé taped to a pound of fresh-ground coffee.” So that’s two instances of petty bribery on top of the fact that you’re telling the employer where to conduct the interview. This speaks for itself

3) Interrupt a recruiter’s family time: From the very goldmine on Salary.com that brought you the Starbucks tip comes another genius idea: since your recruiter calls you out of the blue on your home phone, why shouldn’t you do the same? Just do a little “sleuthing” and find the recruiter’s home number—basically stalk them online, get their personal number and interrupt the only time they can comfortably relax.

4) I’m too good for you, please hire me: A JobDig.com article recommends that you describe yourself as overqualified in your cover letter, since this will get an employer’s attention. We couldn’t help but laugh when we read this. This will get their attention, enough so that they will chuck your application in the trash. Nobody wants to hire some who deems themselves as overqualified for the position. This is not being proactive or aggressive—this is just being stupid.

Like we discussed in our feature article this week, we’re asking you to stop trying to go out of your way with crazy tactics just because you don’t like the way things are going.

These horrendous job tips are excellent examples of a venomous mentality—that to get noticed you need to rely on gimmicks. But all you have to do is be great. And to be great, you must be somebody your office can rely on. You don’t need to bribe an employer with ground coffee or call them on their personal time to get their attention. You just have to play big.