Is Permanently Temp Work
Right for Your Career?

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“They’ve asked me to do this temporarily. I don’t know what temporarily means. Life is temporary.”

~ Bob Schieffer ~

Client Patrick Asks: Does it every make sense to just make a career out of temping? Does this make me look like I can’t hold or don’t want a “real” job—that I lack ambition?

Coach Joel Answers: That depends on your life situation and your personal motivations. For example, if you like the freedom to work when you want and pursue other interests at the same time, temping is ideal. Sometimes temping can give you a higher rate of pay, but it often lacks the benefits and job security of full time employment. You could easily work fewer hours and make more money, so that makes it attractive. And many people like the challenge of getting acquainted with new companies, new people, new responsibilities.

Here are a few more benefits to add into the equation, if you’re considering a long term career as a temp.

  1. Temping enhances your resume. It shows you have a variety of skills, as well as the ability to fit easily into different environments.
  1. Temping enhances your network. You’ll meet a lot more people, get to know them and get them to know you through working temporary assignments. Who knows when the guy in the next cubicle can open the door to a whole new career or even introduce you to your future spouse?
  1. Temping keeps your skill set sharp. You know that sign on the wall at the gym—”Use it or lose it?” The same thing applies to your professional abilities. Often you go into a new assignment wondering how in the world you’ll every figure it out. Then you do, and there’s another win you can tell future employers about.
  1. Temping can facilitate a major career change. Let’s say you’ve spent your life so far in sales but you see a brighter future in IT. Maybe you’ve taken some courses or gotten some volunteer experience, but you’ve got no track record. If you can land yourself a temporary position, even at an entry-level wage, you’ll start building toward the career you really want.

In today’s economy, temping makes a lot of sense from the employer point of view as well. According to research conducted by Forbes, 36 percent of US companies will hire contract or temporary workers this year, up from 28 percent in 2009, according to the survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals. They are maintaining their productivity while reducing their risk. That presents a tremendous opportunity to someone like you. If temping feels like a good place to be, I’d say go for it.

If you think temping may have potential for you, make a list of five action items you could do this week that would get you started down the temporary path.

Talkback: Are you (or have you been) a successful temp? How did you do it? Share your best advice here.

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Is Your Current Job Interfering
With the Job you REALLY Want?

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“I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.”

~ Jonas Salk ~

Client Leanne Asks: I’ve positioned myself well by creating a number of opportunities which can raise my visibility with my firms’ leaders. Now I’m stuck in the middle. I have to execute on all the new work, build and maintain my pipeline of new projects, and do my actual day job besides. My concern is that I don’t have the band-width or energy to do all these things at once. How do I optimize the time I spend on the high visibility items?

Coach Joel Answers: What got you here won’t get you there. Do the job you want, not the job you have. Here’s the way I see it: You put a lot of things out there that you could work on – projects that have high visibility and put you in the public eye as far as your superiors are concerned. You volunteered for a number of things, thinking only one or two would come through, but instead you ended up with three new assignments. Now what?

These are all projects that will help you in your career with the company because you are creating opportunities to interact with people in other departments and show them how talented and how great you are. Your new projects not only have visibility, they also add influence, impact and value to the firm.

Here’s what I would do: Create a three-column chart on your computer. Lay out all your responsibilities and ask yourself what HAS to get done. What do you need to be doing to continue your success at your current baseline level so you don’t throw up any red flags? You might have one third that has to get done on your current job, one third that relates to the job you want to have—that is your visibility stuff, and the last third is the stuff you might be able to get rid of, or put less importance on. This will equate to more time and energy for the things that count. Think about ways you can eliminate work or delegate to someone else.

And here’s the way to approach the delegation piece of it. Present it as a training process—you’re not only moving ahead in the company, you’re training someone else to follow in your footsteps and learn important pieces of your job, so nothing will be left undone when you move to the next level.

In order to keep moving up the ladder as you want to do, you must do three things simultaneously:

  1. You must understand what your superiors need and want, not just from you but for the future of the company. And you must understand where you fit into that plan.
  1. You must empower your subordinates. That’s where the training piece we talked about comes into play.
  1. You must build relationships with your peers. You’re all on the same team, and when you help other people win, you win too.

If you can do those three things, you’ll increase your visibility and reach the next level sooner than you think.

Are you stuck between the job you have and the job you want? Implement our three-part model this week to determine how you can create more high visibility assignments that will move you to the next level.

Talkback: Have you successfully moved to a higher level of your organization? What did you do to increase your visibility with your superiors? Share your experience here.

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Is it a Myth? Can You Actually
Achieve Work-Life Balance?

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“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life”

~ Heather Schuck ~

Client Karen Asks: I feel like I’m being pulled in all directions at once. My boss wants higher productivity, my family wants more time with me. Is balancing work and a personal life hard to do for most people?

Coach Joel Answers: It’s becoming an increasingly common problem in today’s hyper-competitive world. In a survey conducted by Strategy One, a global research and consulting firm they found that 89% of 1,043 Americans they surveyed state that work/life balance is a problem for them.

If you’re feeling out of balance right now, I recommend you shift your mindset with these ideas:

  • Accept that you can’t please everyone. If you try, the only person who ends up not being pleased is you!
  • Remember that you and your needs are important. Ask yourself: where do I need to be in order to get my needs met right now?
  • Set boundaries and stick to them. Your boundaries will protect you when work becomes challenging.
  • Keep your expectations of yourself realistic. One of the great myths of all time is that “You can have it all.”
  • Underpromising will help you take off some of the pressure. Don’t try to be a hero or a superstar. Stop trying to look better than your colleagues.

Obviously, you have a challenging career. That makes it almost inevitable that you’ll find yourself consumed in work. There are several ways you can prevent this from getting out of control.

  • Set goals and priorities for both your personal and professional life. This will help you decide how to dedicate time and energy to both sides of your existence.
  • Develop some new and exciting personal interests.
  • Determine what situations at work or at home you can and cannot control.
  • We’ve already mentioned boundaries. Learn to say “No” when requests go beyond your boundaries or don’t fit with your goals and priorities.
  • When you feel like your work/life balance is getting out of control, talk to your boss and discuss ways you can regain balance. Most companies realize that a happy employee is a more productive employee.

Very few companies expect their employees to have no life outside of work. Those that do find themselves with a high frequency of burnout, increased health care costs due to stress, and excessive turnover. Having a perfect work and life balance is seldom possible. But making thoughtful adjustments along the way can help you achieve a reasonable compromise.

Read through the lists in this article again and write down five things you’re not doing now that would help bring more balance to your life. Implement at least one of these a week for the next five weeks and the reevaluate how you feel.

Talkback: Do you feel in balance more than out of balance? What are your strategies for creating and maintaining work-life balance?

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Share Your Achievements to Get Recognition at Work

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“It is important that you recognize your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Share your achievements with others. Brag a little. The recognition and support of those around you is nurturing.”

~ Rosemarie Rossetti ~

Client Matt Asks: I never seem to get the recognition I deserve for my work, but I’m afraid to say anything because it might seem like I’m bragging. Is it appropriate to mention my accomplishments to others at work?

Coach Joel Answers: You know you’re good at what you do and deserve to get more recognition, increased responsibility and a probably even a promotion. But does anyone else know?

Many employees are passed by or completely overlooked simply because senior management doesn’t know how valuable they are.

In a Newsweek article, Sharon Allen, Chairman of the board, Deloitte &Touche USA, said: “Take responsibility for your own career. Don’t assume that others are aware of the good work you’re doing. When I was a young accountant, I was unhappy about not getting a promotion. I went to my supervisor and told him all of these things that I thought I should be given credit for and he said, ‘Well, gee, I didn’t know that you had done all of these things.’ It was a real wakeup call. You don’t have to be a bragger, but I think it’s very important that we make people aware of our accomplishments…”

Your accomplishments are the currency you use to calculate your value to the company. When tracking accomplishments, focus on:

  • Business results.
  • The value you’ve provided to the company.
  • Fact-based, concrete details.
  • The specific feedback you receive from others.
  • Quantifiable data is especially persuasive because it measures the impact of your accomplishments.

Not only does tracking your accomplishments create concrete examples of your value, the tracking process itself will give you confidence. As you become aware of your progress, you will be more comfortable telling others, in specific terms, how you provide value to the company.

Like Ms. Allen says, you don’t have to be a bragger. Take advantage of opportunities to communicate your accomplishments. If others don’t hear about them from you, they can only operate from perception and second-hand information.

If you’re unsure about how much self-promotion is too much, Joel’s coaching program will provide you with a customized action plan to help you leapfrog your way to the top of the career ladder. Click here for more information.

Talkback: Do you get the recognition you deserve at work? What can you do to ensure that you get credit for your accomplishments?

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Change Your Mindset:
Office Politics Isn’t a Dirty Word

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“When we win on an issue we call it leadership. When we lose, we call it politics. Practicing politics simply means increasing your options for effective results.”

~ John Eldred ~

When my client, Miles, heard the phrase “office politics,” it brought up negative associations (backstabbing, kissing up, gossip, who you know gets you to advance). One way to embrace and capitalize on office politics is to get rid of the actual words “office” and “politics” so you won’t feel so charged by these words. Instead think of it as “company culture” or “building relationships” or “how work is done.” When you have a better and more positive perspective, you’ll be able to embrace what is actually happening and leverage it to your benefit.

Once Miles changed his mindset, he was able to use these eight tips to harness the power office polit… er, “company culture, and you can do the the same:

1. Persuade others to your opinion.
Nobody exists in an environment where everybody agrees. You will work on projects and assignments in which many different approaches will be used by a variety of people. It’s important to understand where everyone is coming from and their different perspective. At the same time, you want to work on getting others to buy-in to your perspective. You can do this by providing factual information backed with logic. Also, strive to build a reputation that creates immediate respect. This will help you get the things accomplished you need to get done.

2. Don’t intimidate superiors. Try to avoid going over your superior’s head.
Most bosses feel a need to establish and maintain their authority. Often, based on their title and that they are a superior, they feel they can leverage and take advantage of their power and authority. It’s important for you to not intimidate them or go over their head because they will feel the threat of your actions and thus could undermine your career.

3. Make your boss look good.
Watch out for your tendency to avoid making your boss look good. Constantly look for opportunities in which you can help your boss shine. Making your boss look bad or saying something negative about him or her will come back and bite you.

4. Cultivate a positive, accurate and likable image.
The image you project can directly impact how well others trust you, like you and want to work with you. If you project a negative and unlikable image, it makes it easy for people to judge and question you.

5. Communicate accurate information.
If you constantly communicate accurate information, people will be less suspicious and less inclined to question your integrity. When the work politics start to get out of hand, others will rely on you because of the established honest and respectful image you have projected.

6. Be aligned to many groups – not just one.
It’s easy to be aligned to one specific group in your company. You either get drawn or exposed to a few people in one group and latch on to them. However, aligning yourself to many groups will help you when the influence of one group gets diminished or removed. You will want to rely on other groups and create a coalition to champion your ideas and projects.

7. Create allies who like you, support you and will go to bat for you.
Having a strong and wide network of allies is vital when the work politics start to disrupt and damage things around you. You’ll see how beneficial it is to have allies who can help mitigate negative situations.

8. If all else fails, move on.
After exhausting all your resources, talents and abilities in working the political system inside the company and getting nowhere, it might be time to move on. Sometimes the politics are so bad that you need to remove yourself from the toxic environment and make a fresh start in a new company.

If you need help navigating office politics to get ahead at work, Joel’s career advancement coaching could give you the competitive advantage you need. Sign up today!

Talkback: Have you ever gotten tripped up by office politics? What happened?

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