Ok, so... January is almost over and you are struggling with continuing to get in shape and pay off the holiday credit. (You're in good company! I'm right there with you!) Have you taken a few moments to figure out how to make yourself a better candidate for a new job opportunity in 2014?

Whether or not you are currently employed, take a moment to think about self improvement. What did you do in 2013 in order to make yourself more valuable to the company you work for, your manager, or your future employer?

Many people expect that they have the right to be promoted/hired while doing nothing out of the ordinary. Those individuals getting promoted are doing quite a bit out of the ordinary of their everyday job. Some ideas may be:

-Take a class in your field. Better, enroll towards a higher level degree than what you currently have! In my years of recruiting, I have never heard someone being passed over on a promotion for having too much education. It's never too late, and there are many online courses to assist older students with families and careers in completing collegiate degrees.

-Start a blog. Get intricately familiar with your subject of choice! Your writing and communication skills are sure to improve! Talk to them. Maybe even help them too! You can start a local networking event if you know enough people from various industries.

-Get involved in your community. Becoming a more well-rounded person makes you a better employee.

-Most importantly, make sure your attendance is impeccable! Nobody likes a pilot who cancels at 3 am before a flight! Stay until the job gets done. Put in 100%, consistently, every day.

Let's set the bar higher for 2014! No more mediocrity. Let's show the world how it's done and all get promoted!!!
 
 
Picture
"You're a temp. As long as you don't poop yourself, you'll be fine...Even if you
do, they'll probably keep you"
"We are being paid minimum wage. That means minimum work"

If you have not seen this brilliantly written show, it is about 2 working girls aspiring to own their own cupcake business. And these 2 girls get into some funny stuff together! 

In the episode, Caroline wants to be the star temp, and be what a company would look to hire. Max, the "bad girl" of the show is going in to collect a paycheck, and unfortunately, what too many people think of temp work.

In many cases, temporary work is the doorway to a future long-term opportunity. If a temp is good enough, has the work ethic a company seeks, and the right attitude, there is a strong chance he/she will be hired. Companies create positions for the right hire more than they advertise! Also, when the company calls an agency, they don't know if their employee is actually in the Bahamas, or whether he/she is interviewing! Always be the right candidate.

And whatever you do, don't poop yourself on the job, even if Max says it's ok!

 
 
Many of us get caught up in the strive for being the best we can be at work and at home. Yet, something is a little off. Perhaps the laundry is piling up. Maybe your spouse is a little more on edge than usual. Or it could be that it's time to buy some larger slacks. Whatever the case, we all need to evaluate the work/life balance equation on a fairly regular schedule.

You should never be victim to the parable where your child saves enough money to buy an hour of your time, asking you to come home early enough to eat with him/her. As we gain more responsibility at work, time commitments increase. What are some ways to balance the seesaw of life?

Take a little "me time" every day. Even 30 minutes to work out, explore a hobby, or mindlessly surf the internet. This needs to be non-work related. Catch up on your favorite show. Take a long bath with a magazine. Whatever gets you to unwind.

Take a little family time too. Unplug from your work cell and catch up with your spouse. Throw a ball with your son. Have a tea party with your daughter. Play a board game with your family. Spend some quality time with the people for whom you are working. Show them how important they are to you. If your spouse works in the home, give him/her a much needed 30 minute child free break for "me time". It will pay you back in dividends!

Nobody will benefit if you never unwind, or if you have a heart attack at your desk. Make each day count for you and those you love!

 
 
Some people love their jobs. They love every single day of what they do. They never have any complaints, and come in cheerful and…wait! That’s not reality!!!

No matter what you do, and no matter how much you are getting paid, work is still WORK! That is why they pay you to be there. I would like to think that at some point in each of our lives, there will be a job which you have nothing but love and affection for every single time you walk in the door, but that is not reality. Reality dictates that there will be good, bad, and many in-between days. If it was that much fun to go to work, it would be called a vacation, and you would be paying someone to be there, rather than the other way around.

Case in point: we had a honeymoon at an all inclusive, incredible resort. My husband and I would return there without hesitation (except that it’s really REALLY expensive). Why? Because every single person who we met working at the resort went above and beyond expectations. They made our vacation incredible. Unfortunately, it was not a vacation for them, but another day of hard work. So, even in paradise, there are people being paid to help others enjoy their stay.

I have heard people say that they would be happy at work if they had more money. With more money comes more responsibility, thereby increasing stress and decreasing time with your family. No matter where you sit on the food chain, work is still work. It may not be self-actualizing, it may not even be fun, but that’s why you are paid to go.

 
 
The hardest thing to manage is the wait time between the interview and the next conversation, hopefully the one with the job offer. You feel that the interview went well, and are on pins and needles, when the manager said he/she would call you by Friday to let you know. It's 4:48 on Friday afternoon and you are climbing out of your skin! What happened??? Here are a few possibilities to ease your mind and give you the ability to get through the weekend without obsessing over the call.

1. There was an issue in the department to which the manager needed to focus direct attention. Besides hiring, the manager is responsible for tending to the needs of his/her department, and many times there are end-of-day or end-of week issues which divert attention from hiring.
2. While the position needs to be filled, there are other priorities within the organization and filling the position is not the primary focus at this time. Perhaps the department is working cohesively right now and there isn't a rush.
3. The manager may have left due to a family or personal emergency. It happens. Managers are people too!
4. The hiring person or group has not yet rendered a decision on who to hire. Perhaps they are still thinking about it, or perhaps they are checking references.
5. Maybe you are a second choice candidate and the first person has not decided whether they are accepting the position.

Regardless, stay calm and positive. It's also possible that the person simply forgot the time to call you. We've all said something in passing where the other person fixated on the specifics that we forgot. Give the person an extra 3-4 days, and then follow up with a call or email asking if there is any information you may provide to make the decision making process easier. Being helpful is always better than being needy and desperate!
 
 
You keep getting passed over for opportunities. Your resume reads: "Over 20 years (or 30 years) of experience" but the jobs you are looking for say 5 or 10. People tell you that you are overqualified. Sound familiar? Keep reading!

1. Get the "over 20 years" off the top of your resume. Highlight the last 10 years of employment, and only list more on your resume if you were at the same company for longer than 10. For instance, 1997-2011 is fine. Do not truncate to 2001-2011 just to identify 10 years. However, anything further back can be summarized in an accomplishment based cover letter.

2. Do not tell an employer "I'll take anything!" Would you date someone who just wanted a date, or are you looking for a mate who is attracted to YOU? Highlight why you are a good fit for the position. Desperation is unappealing!

3. Do not considerably undersell yourself to a position. I had controllers who needed cash and wanted to temp as accounts receivable reps. If it has been years since you have done receivables, the employer knows that. Take a more general accounting based position (ie: senior accountant/accounting manager).

4. If you are told that you are overqualified for a position, ask the hiring manager why that is perceived as negative. Find out what the concerns are (since you are not being hired for the position anyway, you have nothing to lose!

5. If the manager justifies him/herself as to why you are overqualified, ask if there are any other positions open that would be a better fit for someone with your caliber of expertise! You may be pleasantly surprised as to what you find out!
 
 
"I haven't filled out the application."
"I don't have time to go interview right now"
"Unemployment pays more than a job will."
"No one is hiring."
"I can't get a job without furthering my education."
"I have to pick up my kids."
"Daycare is expensive."
"Gas is expensive."

Life is expensive! It's less expensive when you have a consistent income. Call someone today where you may want to work. Go to a community or networking event. Apply online or in person. Get hired because you did something for yourself today!
 
 
I can’t tell you how many employees come to me unprepared. They have old resumes, forgot their resume, dog ate the resume, dog peed on the resume. And my first thought is: will this person be more prepared for a presentation?
 
Today, I was meeting a student for a scheduled appointment to review his resume. I rushed my lunch in order to meet with him on time. He “thought I emailed the resume to myself, but I guess I didn’t.” I thought you’d potentially be a good candidate, but I guess you aren’t? What’s the deal? Why are you unemployed? Let me count the reasons...

Be ready for an interview, job fair, or networking event. It isn’t as though it fell out of the sky. I am sure you knew it was coming! Take time to run your interview answers off a friend, think about what you are going to wear, how you are going to present, and what you are going to bring in your portfolio to make you look like a superstar. Otherwise, all you are doing is cutting into my lunch hour or my productive time that I could be spending with someone else, and I don’t like that!

 
 
When I walk into a store or restaurant, it is very obvious to me, as a patron, in under 15 seconds if the person assisting me is collecting a paycheck or happy to be in their role. It sometimes takes even less time than that.

How are some ways I can tell? The first is eye contact, followed by a smile. Someone who truly wants to provide excellent customer service shows that he/she is happy to assist you. Acknowledging the client/customer/patron and offering assistance in a timely fashion goes a long way towards customer satisfaction, even if that involves saying: “I will be with you in just a moment.” I understand if you are busy seating other customers or helping them with a product. I am not nearly as pleasant when you excuse yourself to continue gossiping to your colleague. If I am not acknowledged within 60 seconds in a restaurant which is supposed to have someone seat you, I get up and leave. If no one is interested in earning money that I am willing to tip with, I have someone else nearby who would be happy with my tip!

Be courteous! Go the extra mile. Your customers will thank (and tip) you!

 
 
At a job fair event, I met a gentleman who impressed me so much and was a consummate professional. He was well spoken, and chatted with me while I was setting up my audio-visual presentation. During this time, he joked around with me and was personable and funny.

After the presentation, he thanked me politely for my time, and followed up with me shortly after on Facebook and LinkedIn. His follow up was impeccable, and based on the professional presentation he offered, I would eagerly refer him to anyone I know for a job.

Take a page out of this gentleman's book. Smile. Laugh. Network with people as though they are people and not just a means to a job. They will remember it and respect you for it!