Career Destroying Mistakes

Conducting an annual review of your career situation is vital for long-term success and satisfaction. To achieve career goals, avoid these mistakes:

  • Ignoring relationships within your organization. Connections with co-workers and managers is often reported as one of the most important factors for career advancement.
  • Not getting proper rest. Sacrificing sleep for achieving career goals can be very dangerous, such as creating stress in your relationships with co-workers and hindering job performance.
  • Becoming too diversified. Select an area of expertise to focus your efforts and energy.
  • Limiting your network activities. Expanding and connecting with contacts allows you to be aware of more opportunities while also developing awareness of industry trends.
  • Not being care in your social life. With social media, many aspects of your private life become public. Be cautious of what you post online.

For additional information on career mistakes, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk with friends about their experiences with these career mistakes.
  • Have students suggest actions for avoiding these career mistakes.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What situations have you heard of that resulted in limited career advancement?
  2. Describe other possible career mistakes that might be avoided.

How to Profit from the Ultra-Tight Job Market Right Now

“The war for talent that obsesses tech companies is intensifying and is about to spread economywide.”

This Fortune article is a must read for job seekers in today’s world, Geoff Colvin explains that after nine years of sluggish economic growth, the economy has turned the corner and creating jobs at a record pace.  The hiring boom is not only creating opportunities for unemployed workers, but also currently-employed workers who want to get a better or higher-paying jobs.

In the current job market, employers are seeking talented employees that have a great future.  Traits that include creativity, the willingness to work hard, and love of learning often help employers evaluate potential.  Digital skills are very important, but not restricted to just tech companies.  For example, many retailers are hiring workers who can use digital skills to reach customers in new ways.

Human skills are also more important than in the past.  Companies want workers to feel they’re part of the organization and a valued asset.  These “same people” skills are very important for workers applying for management positions.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Reinforce that employers want workers who have the knowledge and skills that they need, but also are willing to work hard, become part of the organization, and keep learning once they get the job.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you develop the traits and skills so that employers are willing to pay you a salary?
  2. If you were an employer, how would you choose between job applicants applying for a customer service position at American Airlines? What traits and skills are most important?

Creating a Strong Interview Impression

Nearly everyone has minor stumbles in a job interview.  However, these flaws can be overcome with actions to engage the interviewer.  Some ways to make yourself memorable in an interview include:

  • Start the interview with a question or comment that reflects your preparation about the company.
  • As appropriate, answer the questions you are asked with a question. This approach is usually only valid when talking with operating staff, but not with a human resources person.
  • Remember to emphasize your awareness and potential contributions to the needs of the company, including ideas for addressing current concerns and market opportunities. Rather than a specific solution, communicate your sensitivity and awareness of their problems.
  • Show your humanness through humor, openness, and vulnerability.
  • Prepare with strong research on the company that allows you to better answer expected questions and to interact as you discuss your experiences and potential organizational contributions.
  • Think and talk like a consultant to communicate confidence and competency.

For additional information on strong interview impression, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students role play situations interview situations that they might encounter when applying for a job.
  • Have students create responses to potential interview questions based on the suggestions in this article.

Discussion Questions 

  1. How might the advice offered in this article be used when you are in an interview situation?
  2. Describe some common mistakes people might make in interviews. Explain actions to overcome these mistakes.

Hurricane Financial Toolkit

Natural disasters create a need for unique actions.  After physical safety is assured, some of the activities related to finances include:

  • contacting your insurance company – request a copy of your policy, take photos and videos to document your claim.
  • registering for assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
  • talking with your mortgage lender and credit card companies since you may not be able to make upcoming payments on time.
  • contacting utility companies to suspend service if you will not be living in your home due to damage.

Beware of various scams that surface after natural disasters.  These frauds can include phony repairs, deceptive contractors, requiring up-front fees, fake charities, and misrepresenting oneself as an insurance company agent or government representative to obtain personal information.

Assistance for the personal and financial chaos created by a hurricane or other natural disaster may be obtained from these organizations:

For additional information on financial actions for disasters, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students role play situations that might require actions such as those described in this article.
  • Have students create a video with suggestions to take when encountering a natural disaster.

Discussion Questions 

  1. How might the advice offered in this article be communicated to people who are victims of a natural disaster?
  2. Describe common mistakes people might make when encountering a natural disaster.

Innovation for Improved Financial Health

Mobile start-up companies and other organizations are working with financial institutions to assist consumers with apps and websites that address various financial tasks and concerns.  These include:

  • Albert (www.meetalbert.com) is a mobile app to guide your financial decisions with the assistance of various financial institutions.
  • EARN (www.earn.org) is a national nonprofit to help low-income families create a habit of saving and break the cycle of financial instability.
  • eCreditHero (www.getcredithero.com) is designed to fix errors that appear on an estimated 80 percent of the credit reports of Americans.
  • Scratch (www.scratch.fi) helps borrowers to better understand, manage, and repay loans.
  • WiseBanyan (www.wisebanyan.com) is a free financial advisor that suggests and manages investment plans for various financial goals, such as savings for retirement, creating an emergency fund, and buying a home.

For additional information on innovative financial planning apps, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students search for a website or app that would be of value of improved personal financial planning.
  • Have students talk to others about the financial concerns they face. Ask students to propose an app or website that would address a personal finance concern.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What personal financial planning areas provide people with the most difficulty?
  2. Describe potential apps or websites that might be created to assist people with their personal financial planning activities?

Want to Work from Home?

“Letting Employees Work from Home Can Be a Win-Win for Employers and Staff Alike.”

For employees, the option to telecommute appeals to a vast majority of full-time workers.  Research by Global Workplace Analytics found that there are benefits for employees and employers when employees telecommute and work at home.  For employees, the chief advantages are

  • Reduced time commuting to work
  • Lower costs of commuting to the office
  • Less stress of juggling the demands of work and family

There are also benefits for employers including

  • Less office space is needed because not every employee works in the office every day
  • Lower expenses for rent or costs associated with ownership of office space
  • A new way to attract talent because employees like the option of working at home
  • Increased employee motivation and engagement because telecommuting is considered a benefit

The top five companies and organizations that encourage telecommuting are:

  1. United-Health Group
  2. Dell
  3. S. Department of Agriculture
  4. Xerox
  5. Humana

For more information about this article and a complete list of the top 20 companies for telecommuting,  click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to point out the benefits of telecommuting.

Discussion Questions

  1. Not everyone is a candidate to work at home. What traits and time management skills are needed if you obtain a job where you can work at home?
  2. Are there disadvantages to telecommuting and working at home?

Essential Career Questions

Career planning experts offer a wide variety of guidelines for moving forward in your employment situation.  Use of the following questions can help you develop an action plan for greater career success and personal satisfaction.

  1. What do you like to learn?
  2. What do you do in your spare time for fun?
  3. Are you creating a career for your parents, for society, from your own excitement, or for money?
  4. What is your definition of work?
  5. What challenge excites you the most in your life right now?
  6. What impact do you want to have on other people’s lives or in the world?
  7. Do you feel confident that you are exceptional at something?
  8. What do you want: more joy or more power?
  9. Do you want to be like your parents? Why or why not?
  10. What do you do that builds your confidence?
  11. How often are you bored
  12. Are you proactive about sharing your ideas with your team and managers?
  13. Whom do you admire most? Are they passionate and purpose driven by their work?
  14. When you make decisions about your career, do you often consider what other people will think of your decision?
  15. What advice would you give yourself today about where you are in your career based on where you want to go?
  16. What does success mean to you?

For additional information on essential career questions, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students use one or more of these questions to talk to others about their career planning activities.
  • Have students prepare answers to several of these questions to help guide their career planning activities.

 Discussion Questions 

  1. Which of these questions are most valuable to you to guide your career planning activities?
  2. What are some additional questions that you might ask yourself or others to help guide their career planning?

Top Employee Benefits

Several companies provide benefits that go beyond the usual to serve their employees.  Some examples include:

  • IKEA offers as much as four months paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees after working for the company for a year.
  • Bain & Company sponsors an annual soccer tournament for employees in different locations around the world.
  • Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns.
  • Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for employees for an online bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University.
  • Eventbrite offers a monthly $60 wellness stipend for use on expenses such as gym dues and juice cleanses.
  • Deloitte offers sabbatical programs. One is an unpaid one-month sabbatical, which can be taken for any reason. Another is a three- to six-month sabbatical for personal or professional growth with 40 percent pay.
  • Southwest offers employees and dependents access to Clear Skies, which provides confidential counseling and legal consultation.
  • Timberland employees can take up to 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer.

For additional information on unique employee benefits, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to others about the employee benefits they believe to be most valuable for their life situation.
  • Have students suggest employee benefits that would be of value for various household and life situations.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Describe family and life situations that would be helped by various employee benefits.
  2. What are factors people might consider when determining whether to take a job with an organization?

The Single Best Question to Ask in a Job Interview

“What did you do to prepare for this interview?”

According to CNBC contributor and author Suzy Welch, the above question is the most important question that a manager can ask and the best question a prospective employee can answer.  She explains she has asked this question for years and is always surprised at the answers she gets from prospective employees–answers that are the good, the bad, and the ugly.  One answer stands out.  When asked what she did to prepare for the job interview as my personal assistant, the applicant answered, I’ve been stalking you for three days.  Welch loved the answer because stalking  involved reading virtually everything she could find written about Welch plus reading and scanning everything I’ve ever written online and in print.

Not all answers display the passion that a job applicant should have.  For example, one applicant answered, “Well I drove here last night with my boyfriend so I wouldn’t get lost today.”  Not an answer that would demonstrate the kind of passion and curiosity and most importantly, the resourcefulness Welch was looking for.

For more information, click here

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the importance of doing some detective work when preparing for a job interview.
  • Point out there are many websites that can help job applicants prepare for a job interview.

Discussion Questions

  1. Assume you unemployed and have scheduled a job interview with a human resources manager for a bank teller position at a local Bank of America branch. What would you do to prepare for your interview?
  2. What traits or skills do you have that would make the bank want to hire you for this position? How can you tell or illustrate your traits and skills during the interview process?

A Summary Instead of a Career Objective

Since the career objective presented on most resumes is too general and unfocused, hiring managers recommend a career summary. When developing a resume summary, consider the following actions:

  1. Plan a clear direction that emphasizes the skills and experience directly related to your career area. Communicate results and accomplishments that highlight your strengths.
  2. Research the industry to obtain an understanding of the trends and career competencies you will encounter.
  3. Develop phrasing that communicates the value you can add to an organization.

A resume summary can be appropriate for highlighting your work history and when transitioning careers. This resume feature also allows you to clearly communicate your personal brand.

For additional information on career summaries, click here.

 

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students search online for sample career summaries for industries of interest to them.
  • Have students create a career summary that reflects their current competencies and experiences.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why are career objectives discouraged on resumes?
  2. What actions might be taken to develop an effective career summary?