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Making productive to-do lists

Everyone makes lists – though not everyone does so in the same way. Whether you are the one who makes a list in their head of things to get at the grocery store, or the one who has to-do lists for every aspect of your life, these tips will help you be more productive and efficient in accomplishing the tasks on your list.

Use the right app or medium.

There are a many list apps you can get for your smart phone, and there is also a simple pen and paper.  The first thing you should do is decide which method of keeping track of your list(s) works best for you. Many apps allow you to add due dates, collaborate or share lists, and sort tasks. PC Magazine has list of the best to-do apps, or you can ask friends and relatives for suggestions. If you are a pen and paper type of person, the key to finding the best medium is to make sure it is a list you can easily see and refer to, and something you will not ignore. There are numerous options that include lined pages, calendars, and tabs for sorting lists. The best way to find the right one for you is to make a list (see what we did there?) of the key things you want and then do a google search for those items. Or just use a plain notebook and design your own.  The two most important things to remember are that it must work for you and be one you will actually use.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Re-Entering the Workforce, Preparing for an Interview, Changing Jobs, Being a Great Employee, Managing Stress

Which bad habits do not belong in the workplace

Everyone has a tendency to pick up some bad habits, after all we are only human. But while a few bad habits may only be mildly annoying to your family and friends, they can carry far worse consequences in the work place. Here is a list of the worst bad habits you should watch out for, to make sure they do not ruin your career.

Tardiness:

Constantly being late to work, especially when you are part of a line or process that requires someone in your position, is definitely a bad habit that can ruin your career. But being late with assignments, to meetings, or returning phone calls can be just as bad. Being timely with attendance and assignments shows you respect your company, your job and your co-workers.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Preparing for an Interview, Changing Jobs, Being a Great Employee

Soft Skills Can Make or Break You

Soft skills are defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. So how are these skills going to help you land a job or even a promotion? Let's find out!

Creativity.  Collaboration.  Adaptability.

These are just three of the soft skills employers are looking for and showing you have them could be the difference between whether get the job or not. LinkedIn Learning created a list of the top soft skills employers find most valuable. Rounding out the top five are persuasion and time management.

Creativity

When you think of ‘creative’ people usually artists, musicians or authors come to mind. But you can be creative in business as well. Think about how most people can be taught how to do a job. A creative person, however, looks at how to do the job better, perhaps in a way that has not been tried yet. A good example is the number of apps that are available to do so many things. For example, it took a creative person to say, what if we made an app so it would be easier for people to track what they eat? Seeing a need and figuring out a better way to meet the need is creativity at its best. Stefan Mumaw, author of six books on creativity, says creativity can be learned, just like any other skill. So if you are looking for ways to increase your creativity, you can try Mumaw’s Creativity Bootcamp training session.  Or you can just begin to think about innovative and better ways to do the same things you have been doing, challenging your mind to find a more “creative” solution.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Re-Entering the Workforce, Preparing for an Interview, Gaining Experience, Resume, Changing Jobs, Being a Great Employee, Training, Interviewing

Top 5 Reasons to Consider a Seasonal Job

We are in the hear of the holiday season, when many local companies are looking for seasonal workers. Here are the top five reasons you should consider seasonal work (even for other holidays!):

  1. Get a Foot in the Door. If you are looking for permanent work doing seasonal work can give you a leg up over your competition. Being a seasonal worker helps the employer see just how great of an employee you would be and gives you an opportunity to learn the specifics of a job. Both those things can help you when a permanent position opens up.
  2. Discount. Many companies offer all employees, including seasonal workers, a discount. While the amount of the discount varies across industries, having that extra percentage taken off helps your limited cash go further, and can save you a lot on big-ticket items you would normally have to pay retail for.
  3. Resume Gaps. Explaining a gap in your resume is never easy, but taking a seasonal job helps you fill the gap if you are currently unemployed and looking for full-time work. It also tells potential employers that you did not just sit around waiting for the next permanent job to drop into your lap. Regardless of the type of seasonal work, you will learn new skills that you can add to your existing ones, and maybe walk away with a nice letter of recommendation if you do a good job.
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Topics: Temporary, Seasonal, Contract, Seasonal Work

Top 4 reasons to work in the trades

There are some very good reasons these days to work in the trades, but before you know the top reasons, you should consider what careers make up “the trades.” Basically, skilled trades are those jobs or occupations that require a special skill or ability. Training for skilled trades can be from a technical school or college, or on-the-job. But the job does not require a four-year college degree.

Skilled trades can be in one of three areas:

  • Industrial trades, like mechanics or machinists, welders, or tool and dye makers
  • Construction trades, like carpenters, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers or insulators
  • Service trades, like some nursing positions, aides, orderlies and some therapists

Mike Rowe, famous for his TV show “Dirty Jobs,” started his Mike Rowe Works Foundation to promote skilled labor.  He says “skilled workers make civilized life possible.” From his website:

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Re-Entering the Workforce, Gaining Experience, Changing Jobs, Skilled Trades

What Skilled Trades Jobs Are in Demand

Which skills are in high demand?

One of the best ways to find a job is to have a skill that is in high demand, but finding out which skills are in high demand now, and are likely to be in high demand in the future, can be difficult. After all, no one can accurately predict the future, no matter how many crystal balls they might have. But you can use information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the Department of Labor to get a good overview, and an estimate of industry trends to help you know what skills are needed now and how much the demand is expected to be in the next several years. The BLS has a page on their website called “Occupational Outlook Handbook.You can use this page to search various occupations by wage, required education level, type of training required, number of new jobs projected and the projected growth rate. You can even browse various occupations by the highest paying, fastest growing and most new jobs. Right now, the fastest growing occupations are solar photovoltaic installers, wind turbine service technicians and four categories in the medical field: home health aides, personal care aides, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Re-Entering the Workforce, Gaining Experience, Changing Jobs, Leaving a Job, Skilled Trades

The Do’s and Don’ts of Salary Negotiation

Many people are uncomfortable with negotiating for a salary. Regardless of the reason, there will come a time when you feel the need to negotiate a salary and these tips should help you navigate the process and come to an agreement with an employer.

First, you need to do your research.

There are numerous websites, like Salary.com, Payscale, Glassdoor, which can give you the high, median and low wages for the position you’re considering. They will also narrow down the wage scale to your geographic area. You can then compare your skills and experience and see where your salary ought to be in order to be competitive in your market.

You can also check the Bureau of Labor Statistics for industry-specific wage information.

Next, you should calculate the minimum amount you’re willing to accept.

Remember, this is just a guideline to help you narrow down your options, as salary is not the only consideration when deciding whether or not to accept a position.  Knowing your bottom line will allow you to remove yourself from consideration if you can reasonably calculate that the job offer will not be close to meeting your needs.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Preparing for an Interview, Changing Jobs, Being a Great Employee, Interviewing

Tips for maintaining a good work-life balance

The term work-life balance as defined by BusinessDictionary is, “A comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle,” and too often it is not achieved, especially in today’s technological world of 24/7 access to voicemail and email, but that does not mean you should not try. Studies show that people who do not have a good balance between work and personal life can be less productive and more stressed. Those who do have a good balance are usually more productive and tend to stay with their employer for a longer time. Here are some tips to help you find a balance between your working and non-working life.

Unplug

Unless you are a doctor or emergency responder who needs to be accessible every hour of the day, set aside some time to be away from your smart phone. There is no need to check emails while at your child’s baseball game, for example. Take some time to unwind and disconnect from the stresses of the rest of the world. Enjoy hobby, or some rest and relaxation, whatever it is that helps you get comfortable again.

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Topics: Being a Great Employee, Managing Stress, Work-Life Balance

Tips For Being The New Employee

Most people are a “new” employee when they start a new job or make a career change. Temporary workers are the “new” employee each time they take a new assignment. In fact, as a temporary employee you could experience that new employee feeling several times in a month, depending on the types of assignments you take. Whether you are a new employee just once – or quite often – here are some tips to help you along the way.

Be Dependable

Being dependable means you show up on time, ready to work. Having the right tools and attire is important, but so is having the right attitude of enthusiasm for the tasks you are going to be performing.

Be Friendly

A smile goes a long way towards making a good impression, so remember to smile when seeing or meeting your co-workers. Introduce yourself to others during your breaks or lunches. Repeat their names when you meet to help you remember.

Show interest in others – which applies to life as well as a new job. Ask questions like ‘how long have you worked here?’ and ‘what do you like most about what you do?’ as a way to learn about others, as well as the company.

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Topics: Re-Entering the Workforce, Changing Jobs, Being a Great Employee, Managing Stress

Finding purpose on the job when you’re a temporary employee

Studies have shown that individuals who find purpose in their jobs have higher energy and focus, and less stress, depression, and anxiety. Having a job that provides purpose – and is more like a calling – can also help you live longer. Zach Mercurio, Purpose Expert and Author of The Invisible Leader, says purpose is your usefulness – the unique contribution that you and your job makes on others. But what if you’re a temporary employee who goes to a different job every week?  Does your “purpose” need to change every time you have an assignment? Fortunately, the answer is no.

Know your values

As a temporary employee, you can find purpose and meaning in your work regardless of the assignment. First, you should know your values – what means the most to you. For example, you might feel the most energized when you are helping others, either through good customer service or directing people to the right location or person to meet their need. In this instance, your value could be service. If you can’t live without personal contact and communication with others, your value might be connections. Or perhaps your value is to be a good provider, having the money and means to buy food and housing for your family. Once you know what you value, you can find it in any position you’re assigned.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Temporary, Seasonal, Contract, Being a Great Employee

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