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?

What You Should Know Before Your Job Interview

Tips for job interviews

The above infographic via Classes and Career is one all job seekers should memorize. Don’t forget that this information is good for every person you meet from the time you walk in the door. From the secretary to the interviewer. Be sure to at least say hello and introduce yourself to the secretary and goodbye on your way out. Each person you meet will have an opinion on you, make sure it’s a good one!


The act of shaking someone’s hand can tell the other person a lot about you. Are you confident? Nervous? Uninterested? Domineering?

Women’s Health, Ask Men and several other magazines have recently written about why a handshake is the perfect form of introduction and how to do it properly.

“A handshake is more than just part of a friendly introduction—it helps break the ice, too, says Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Snap, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma,” the Women’s Health article explains. “Shaking hands began as peace offering—proof you didn’t have any weapons, Wood says. Nowadays it still has the same primal effect of breaking down the “stranger barrier.”

There is nothing worse than a wimpy handshake. It conveys you’re uninterested and not confident. Others believe the handshake is a perfect time to show strength and practically crush your hand. While less painful than a wimpy handshake, it still isn’t a good idea. Firm and friendly without pulling the person toward you is your best bet.

Don’t be awkward! say, it’s nice to meet you or something similar during the shake.

If you aren’t comfortable with your handshake or going into an interview and want to make sure you’re sending the right message, practice. Find an honest friend and practice until you’re comfortable and confident. Yes, you might feel silly, but isn’t it better to feel silly with a friend that risk losing out on a job?

What’s the worst (or best!) handshake you’ve ever received?

Follow through

Just as important as showing up to a meeting and remaining present (read: not checking your phone incessantly, having side conversations, etc.) is actually doing what you say you will.

Everyone has experiences where the person or people who agreed to complete a specific task or help with a project, campaign, or committee falls off the face of the earth leaving you hanging. It sucks. Yes, the person might get away with it, but eventually they will be on the hook with a trail of disappointed colleagues and friends in their wake.

If you’re attending a meeting, take notes. Pay close attention to what’s required or asked of you and what you agree to do. Write those things down. Next to the items you volunteered for or were assigned, write down who the contract person is and the deadline.

A quick note about deadlines, they aren’t flexible. Deadlines aren’t created to be mean or make you rush. Deadlines are in place to keep the projects moving at the intended pace.

This article from the University of Wisconsin Academic Leadership Support office outlines ways to increase follow through.

“If people don’t follow-through on action plans, tasks and decisions after the meeting ends, then one needs to question the value of having a meeting in the first place.” To take that statement to the logical next step, if the meeting isn’t valuable, are the people valuable? And if the person isn’t valuable enough to attend the meeting, are they valuable enough to keep on the payroll? Or in the case of volunteer organizations, keep as part of that organization?

The bottom line is, if you don’t think you can deliver, don’t volunteer. If you’re concerned about an assignment, talk about it with your supervisor or the person who assigned you the task, separately, outside of the meeting. But don’t ever, just not do something, especially without communicating why.

Have you ever had someone not follow through on a project or task?