Career Evaluations

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A friend is reentering the workforce after spending the last few years home with her son. She’s more than qualified in a two very different fields and to help her decide which one to focus her job search on, she’s working as a temp.

This is a great opportunity for her to evaluate what she likes and doesn’t in addition to what’s changed in the last five years.

After working in her temporary position for two of the four weeks, she’s fairly certain that she would enjoy a different field and inquired how to talk to the temp agency about placing her somewhere else when this position wraps up.

I encouraged her to have a conversation with the agency and be candid. Instead of emphasizing what she hated, instead reiterate the parts that she did enjoy, especially the aspects that indicate she would be happier in a different field.

For example, if she didn’t like the customer service parts of the job but enjoyed the data entry, schedule coordinating, taking meeting notes and filing, she should emphasize the latter in the conversation and on her written summary.


Caution: Tell your Boss Anything

This new service is a minefield. One you would be wise to stay away from.

According to the website, the ultimate goal is to, “encourage useful discussion that resolves difficult workplace issues. We provide a safe environment in which to do that.”

However, safe doesn’t necessarily mean completely anonymous. The site claims, “Unless required to by law, we will not reveal your identity.”

The service, as noted in this article, might reveal the sender. “The catch? Tell Your Boss Anything flags messages with violent phrases or cursing, and if a manager flags a message because it’s abusive, Tell Your Boss Anything might reveal your identity. Keep a level-head if you decide to fire off an email to your boss.”

If you’re going to be level-headed, why not have a conversation with your boss instead? Not to mention, if you’re in a small department or have a unique writing style you’ll be giving yourself away.

Interview Skills: Not Just for Reporters

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Do you feel like getting your questions answered for a project is like pulling teeth? Do you have to talk to clients every day and feel like you aren’t getting any more information than when you called the last time?

You would probably benefit from learning some basic interviewing skills.

The first and most important preparation tool is to do some research. Know as much as you can about the other person or topic and have that background in front of you. It is amazing what five minutes on Google can tell you. Or just looking over the previous information and writing the questions you still are unsure of the answer to. By doing a few minutes of background research, your subject will know you cared enough to spend the time to get to know them.

Now on to the harder part, the questions. As Ryan Knapp so aptly put it, “asking open-ended questions to help prompt discussion/longer answers.” Which is exactly what you want! A discussion that feels like a conversation and less like a one-sided information session. Good places to start are why and how. Not very many people can answer a why or how question with a yes or a no!

Don’t be afraid of the follow-up question. If you didn’t get the answer the first time, try rephrasing the question and asking it again in another way.

Also, don’t just be thinking about what the next question will be and tune out the answer. The answer may lead to a different follow-up question that you wouldn’t have thought to ask if you had not been listening.

Finally, relax. Unlike journalists, you probably aren’t investigating a story. You’re just trying to get the required information to make your project or business relationship better.

Scary Trend: Teacher-on-Teacher Bullying

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A tweet this week from Richard Laermer citing an article from USA Today, “A new trend comes to light every single day. Today’s: Teacher-on-teacher bullying,” really concerned me, especially in light of the recent bullying case in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

While the case referenced above involves teen on teen bullying, bullies come in all shapes, sizes and unfortunately ages.

As a Millennial, I’m used to be competitive and being a perfectionist for good or bad. However, I would never bully someone to gain an advantage.

I’m sure some of the teachers I had growing up were talked to by the principle or other teachers and may have even been bullied, but none of this occurred in front of me or my classmates that I can recall. I think that’s the key point.

Belittling someone in front the class is the absolute worse thing that can happen to a teacher. It undermines their authority and shows the students this type of behavior is acceptable, which to reiterate, it is not.

I am not suggesting schools and districts implement an expensive training program to combat Teacher-on-Teacher bullying. I would suggest that schools make sure to educate (many already do an excellent job) staff on the various forms of bullying and give them the resources for reporting not just the bullying of the students, but of the faculty as well.

What I Learned While the Boss Was Away

I learned that things will continue on as usual. People will still need your help. They’ll still ask for more than you can give.

An obvious lesson I learned is that one person cannot do the work of two, no matter how hard you try. I was lucky that my co-workers were kind enough to understand that as well. I learned that a little extra patience and a friendly conversation goes a long way.
The ability to manage your own time and keep on top of the things in your queue is a skill that I’m getting better at every time it is my responsibility. I’m proud of what I accomplished last week.

I got a little more insight into the other side of the office and how things work “over there.” I learned that proper criticism goes so much farther than tearing some one down. Everyone has a bad day, but I learned it is how you handle the next day that matters. No one wants to have a terrible day.

I know I learned more last week than this post implies about myself, my company and my co-workers. However, putting all those things into words isn’t the point. It’s the changes, no matter how subtle, that make a difference.