The current job market

Two recent Harvard Business Review posts cited some interesting statistics from the September U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

“As of January 2012, the median time that wage and salary workers in the U.S. had been with their current employers was just 4.6 years,” according to the first HBR post by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott. “Other recent data points are equally disturbing: The staffing company Randstad says that 40% of employees are planning to look for a new job within the next six months. Another survey notes that 69% of employees are already at least passively shopping for new job opportunities via social media today.”

Further, most of those looking fall into entry-level positions. The old saying, people accept a position for the company and leave because of management may ring true. However, the perspective of this follow up HBR post also by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott focused on how those managers can work to retain employees and convince them to stick with a company or organization for the long-term.

The authors suggest managers can retain employees by following the Five Rs of employee relationships, which is also a good list for a perspective employee to use to judge a perspective company.

Responsibility: How much responsibility will you have? Are you trusted to do your job? Are there ways for you to grow in the position or gain new skills?

Respect and Reward (these go together): How do supervisors in the company show they respect their employees? How are employees recognized or rewarded? How will I know you’re committed to me as an employee?

Revenue-sharing: What’s in it for me if the company does well this year? (Fair warning: it probably isn’t a good idea to ask the question exactly that way in an interview setting.)

Relaxation time: How is time off handled? Is it by department? What about sick time? In all businesses, there are busy times, what if you need time off then?

What else can you use to judge a potential employer?

Avoid these phrases in an interview

New Grad Life  is a must bookmark for new graduates and anyone looking for a new job. It’s full of great articles, like this one with the 10 Phrases That Kill Your Job Interview. Every single one is correct.

  1. “I’m sorry I’m late.”
    This is never, ever a phrase you should be uttering in an interview. Plan to arrive early, like a half hour early. You shouldn’t necessarily walk into the building a full half an hour early, 15 minutes should be fine. Even in the most casual, work when you like offices, the interview should start on time.
  2. “I left my old job because my boss was a jerk.”
    Bad-mouthing your old (or even worse your current!) boss is asking for trouble. You have no idea if these two people play golf or go to the same book club or are best friends. Find a better way to phrase it.
  3. “I’m just looking to work here until something better comes along.”
    No company wants to invest in training you if you’re looking to jump ship the first chance you get. As the article points out, even if you aren’t thinking of settling into the company for the next 30 years, find a way to convey you understand what the company does and how it contributes to society and even more importantly, how you fit into those aspects.
  4. “I don’t have any experience.”
    Everyone has some kind of experience! If the organization didn’t think you had the skills necessary for the job, they wouldn’t be interviewing you!  Be sure to review the job description before the interview and use the keywords in your conversations. Find a way to correlate your experience with what the job description requires.
  5. “I’ll work for free just to get my foot in the door.”
    Would you really? Probably not. Further, if you’re willing to work for free, why on earth would the company ever pay you? There’s a difference if you are an unpaid intern and receiving class credit, but unless it is clearly a volunteer position, never offer to work for free.
  6. “I’m not willing to work overtime.”
    As previously noted here, find out the culture of the organization. You may not be able to do this until after you’re hired, but try to be flexible, especially in the interview. Be very aware that this could be a deal breaker.
  7. “I’m looking for a position that is less stressful and will allow me to work less hours for more pay.”
    Isn’t every one? Positions like that are non-existent. More often it’s a trade, less stress and less hours for less pay. More stress and more hours for more pay.
  8. “I don’t like to stay in one place very long.”
    How long is very long? Seven years? Two months? You might not be using the same standard of measurement as your interviewer, however, that doesn’t matter. Just like #3 above, an interviewer wants to know you can be committed to a company and that they will at least get to the break even point to compensate for your training before you leave.
  9. “I’d like a large salary and a corner office and a private secretary.”
    Unless you are being interviewed for a CEO position, good luck with this. Your demands must be commiserate with your position. That means you might be lucky to have a department secretary or a cubical with a door. Companies are looking to get the most for their dollars and personal secretaries and large corner offices don’t fit into that budget.
  10. “9 to 5? Boy, that sure takes the best part out of the day, doesn’t it?”
    Unless you live on a coast, the typical work hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You might even be employed by a clock watcher determined to get exactly eight hours of work out of you a day. That doesn’t mean rolling into the office at 8 a.m., it means in your seat, computer on ready to work at 8 a.m. There will be hints of this in the interview. Listen for words such as punctuality and time management.

What would you add to this list?

Office chitchat guidelines

Editor’s Note: This post is thanks to Cara H. She gave an excellent presentation at Career Day this past weekend and included this excellent information.

You are going to talk to your co-workers. You will spend eight hours a day, five days a week with them for years if you are lucky. To keep the environment positive and keep everyone comfortable, here are some topics to avoid discussing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.or whenever your usual work hours fall:

  • Your love life. (this includes marriages, divorces, new and old relationships, etc.)
  • Love life troubles. (If you’re following rule one, this shouldn’t be a problem.)
  • Financial issues. (Including: what an item you’re wearing cost, use your judgment here.)
  • Weekend plans. (Especially if they include parties, etc.)
  • Your salary.
  • Health. (see previous post on TMI at work.)
  • That you are looking for a new job.

Good, usually harmless topics to discuss:

  • New home
  • New appliances
  • Home repairs
  • Pets
  • Joining a gym or workout plans
  • Dinner plans (as in what you are cooking, not where you are going.)

Obviously, this list is incomplete and depends more on your work environment than anything else. In some offices, discussing that awesome purse you got for $10 would be appropriate, but discussing your Prada shoes, not so much.

What  would you add to the list?