Archive for career advice

Contractors are happiest

Want to be happier at work? The answer’s simple: go work for yourself.

Using data from the national Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, researchers from the Murdoch University Business School, Bond University and Oregon State University in the US compared the level of satisfaction and wellbeing between 526 business owners and 6,840 wage and salaried employees.

The researchers examined a range of issues, including satisfaction with one’s own life and job, individual priorities, perceived prosperity, risk preferences, and individual health and well-being.

The results suggest that the level of satisfaction between the self-employed people and contractors, compared with paid employees does differ significantly, and that entrepreneurs are more satisfied than their waged counterparts. Self-employed business owners report both higher levels of overall life satisfaction and job satisfaction.

More specifically, the self-employed are significantly more satisfied in regards to their life conditions, employment opportunities, their financial situation, their personal safety, in feeling part of the community, their personal health, and the neighbourhood in which they reside – all of which are commonly accepted measures of well being.

However, wage and salary employees were more satisfied with their free time.  Employees were more satisfied with the hours they work, and their leisure activities, than the self-employed. This specific finding could suggest that employees are able to have greater control of their free time, while entrepreneurs may feel that they are always responsible to their business and their customers.

As expected, the self-employed were also more satisfied with their perceived prosperity than employees. Business owners, as a whole, felt “very comfortable” with their level of prosperity, and were more willing than employees to take risks to gain greater financial well being.

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Finding work in the Web 2.0 world

If this is your final year at university, then you probably hope to be working in a graduate position next year.  With the global economy spiralling downwards and unemployment on the rise, the competition for graduate positions this year will be the fiercest we’ve seen in years.  So, how do you secure the job of your dreams?  Start by harnessing the power of digital technologies. 

Do your homework
Be proactive.  Pinpoint a couple of industries or a handful of companies in which you’d like to work.  Keep your eye out for opportunities in newspapers, but don’t limit yourself to traditional media.  Register your details with career websites and set up Google alerts for news on those companies that interest you.  This will give you a head start at job interviews, as you’ll be able to demonstrate your knowledge of a company’s business activities, as well as broader industry trends.

Employers can Google!
Protecting your online footprint makes smart career sense, and Googling yourself is not so much ego surfing as research!  As many as four in five recruiters use search engines to find background data on candidates – and what they care about is your top ten search results on Google.  One recent survey of recruiters in the US found that 35 per cent have eliminated a candidate because of what they unearthed online.  Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Be the star in your own video CV
It’s no longer just budding film directors who are selling their skills on YouTube – everyone from sales managers to business analysts are shooting their own video CVs to give themselves the best shot at their dream job.  The challenge is to make your application stand out from the crowd.  Start by looking the part you wish to play.  What role are you pitching for?  Dress as you would for an interview, and present yourself and your CV the way you would to a prospective employer.  Rehearse your script, take care to look at the camera and speak slowly and clearly.  Be funny, lively, personable and professional – but keep it short (just one to three minutes).  Most importantly, focus on your professional endeavours, not personal ones.  A video CV won’t replace your written CV, but it can complement it by conveying aspects of your personality imperceptible on paper.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
The old cliché holds true: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  Nearly half of all job hunters obtain their jobs through word of mouth.  Everyone has a network of between 250 to 3,000 contacts, so get them working for you!  Send everyone you know an email, or post a message on your MySpace of Facebook page, telling them you are looking for a job, and give them a clear idea of your skills and the type of work you’re after.  Remember, if you know 250 people and each of those people knows 250 people, then the second level of your network contains 62,500 people! 

Finding your job through Facebook
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become another avenue for companies to identify and recruit new employees.  A recent American survey revealed that 64 per cent of companies are making contact with potential employees through online social networks, predominantly LinkedIn (80%) and Facebook (36%).  So, search for your target companies on social networking sites.  Become a ‘fan’, look for information on how to apply for positions in their company and a scan their list of latest jobs.  Again, check who you know in those companies – you’ll be amazed by the connections you can make with a few simple clicks.

Above all, remain positive.  Some things remain the same, regardless of the rate of technological change, and perseverance and learning to accept rejection will always be important parts of job seeking.  Remember, employers hire people who are confident, enthusiastic and demonstrate a ‘can do’ attitude.  Good luck!

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Dad’s best career advice

The What Would Your Dad Say blog recently asked people to share the career advice their dads gave them. Here’s a few…

The best advice my dad—a self-made entrepreneur now retired from the grocery retail business—has ever given me is that when you’re in doubt about a serious decision or situations seem uncertain, “buy time.”
—Sue Markgraf

My dad was a union ironworker turned welding instructor and would always tell me: “There are only so many hours to work in a day; you might as well make as much per hour as you possibly can.”
—Lori Wilson

My dad spent 43 years working—two years at his first job and 41 years at his second—that was the norm for his generation—his career advice to me was “Get a job in a bank. It’s a job for life”—now look at the financial industry. That was probably his “worst” career advice. I took it—got offers from four major banks, took one of them and became a human cash dispenser after three months and hated almost every minute of it.
—Paul Copcutti

The best advice my dad gave me was to “Love what you do, for you will be doing it every day.” This from a widower who raised us and was a microbiologist for more than 45 years with over 47 patents for E.R. Squibb & Sons—now Bristol-Myers Squibb. He has since retired and is now in the stages of dementia—so every memory is precious at this time.
—Pamela J. Principe-Golgolab

My father, Roland West, advised that if you can manage it, live to the east of where you work. It makes it so that the sun is not in your eyes when driving to and from. I’ve had that situation and it is nice. Right now, I walk to work.
—Carl West

What was the best and worst career advice YOUR dad gave you?

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Love what you do

Here’s Steve Jobs, of Apple fame, delivering his Stanford Commencement speech.  One of the ideas that provides inspiration, is Steve’s belief that you must “love what you do”.

“…sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick, don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied, is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it. And like any great relationship it just get’s better and better, as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.”

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Teaching means never stop learning

The Australian Financial Review interviewed me for its Education section a few months back.  In it, I was asked to describe my best and/or worst career move to date.

I am very philosophical and have taken learnings from all my career moves – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I have had some difficult jobs that I did not love, worked for people I did not respect and yet the experience made me who I am today, better able to help other people and organisations in times of success and adversity.

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Today’s career challenges

Not long ago, there was a predictable workplace where you could depend on continuous employment and job security. With minimal planning, your career and life ‘happened to you’.

Consequently, we’re unprepared for today’s career challenges.

In a workplace where change and competition raise varying levels of uncertainty, even the most confident individuals wonder “where do I fit?” and “what’s my future?” And the answers are not quickly forthcoming.

It is pleasing, then, to know that some people view this change as positive and rewarding. Like Pollyanna, we’ve put on our smiley faces and adopted euphemisms for the changes around us. We call the new career landscape a ‘mosaic’, people are expected to become ‘skilled at managing a portfolio of careers’, formulating ‘proposals for career moves’ and then ‘smoothly transitioning between jobs’. Now transition sounds so easy, so nice. One has visions of a graceful glide from one position to another – degree of difficulty 4.5.

It is quite unlike the reality of the working world.  What often happens is that people are casualised, destabilised and marginalised. Workers find out about their redundancy on the late night news or they are the ones who have sat at their same desk for four years and worked for three different companies only to find out that the urge to merge is closely followed by the urge to purge.

One woman I know likes to think of her career in terms of Lego. She says she’s very good at building a space stations that transition to ambulances.  I must say my attempts to build with Lego as a child ended up with my space station looking more like the shuttle disaster, where all the King’s horses and all the King’s men were unable to put it together again.

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The n+1 Principle

The real challenge for leaders in today’s world of work is to shape their own roles – before it is reshaped for them!

This means a commitment to pursuing life long learning goals, and facilitating and encouraging others to do the same. For leaders to stay ahead they must step outside the boundaries of their own organisation and competency to ensure they are informed about trends in population, the environment, technology, social contexts and the economy.

I like to apply the ‘n+1 Principle’ for myself and my staff. For every n (number of conferences attended in your own industry or competency), attend one that is outside your field, and use the information to make positive change.

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