Interviews and Changing Jobs

When and Why Do the Members of Your Manager’s Team Go Job Hunting?

So, my thirtieth high school reunion is coming up in a couple of weeks.  It’s time, at the ripe old age of 48, to review my life, think about what I’ve accomplished, and yes, compare myself (with some level of anguish) to my fellow high school classmates.

It’s enough to drive me out to Indeed.com.

Jump ShipI just read a pretty benign article on Forbes.com called Ten Unmistakable Signs Your Employees are Job Hunting, and the list is kind of laughable.  If your team members are suddenly interested in project completion dates, or going out to lunch with co-workers they never spared two words for, then they might be looking for other employment.  But, come on, that’s an expensive guessing game.  Attrition costs companies a huge amount of money, and that’s why they’re applying a certain level of big-brother technology to help identify those who might be about to jump ship.  And when.

Sure, employees still jump ship because they don’t like their bosses, because they were offered better jobs with higher pay, and so on.  But CEB (now acquired by Gartner) determined that there’s a “when” factor in job hunting as well.  In the September 2016 Harvard Business Review article “Why People Quit Their Jobs,” CEB HR practice leader Brian Knopp suggests that any event that encourages an employee to compare him- or herself to peers is incentive for job hunting.  In fact their studies show that:

  • Job hunting increases between 6% and 9% when employees reach a work anniversary
  • Job hunting jumps 12% just before birthdays (milestone birthdays, in particular)
  • Job hunting increases 16% when an employee has a reunion

Some companies are also examining when employees are badge-swiping in and out to determine if it’s possible they’re interviewing outside the company.  Other companies are examining their employees’ use of social media.  For instance, if an employee uses his cell phone to follow that LinkedIn message that says, “These ten employers are looking for someone with your skills!” his name could get added to the short list of people possibly looking to leave the company.

As a Revolutionary Assistant, you have the ability to help your manager get ahead of this attrition issue, particularly where life circumstances are concerned.  A member of your manager’s team isn’t hitting a milestone birthday without you knowing it, let’s face it.  Work anniversaries are easy to get your hands on, and the celebrations you plan around them have just become more meaningful than ever.  Now, you can take that a step further and schedule some “career discussion” time between your manager and that employee, to make sure everyone’s on the same page and that employee is growing with the company in the way he or she wants to.

Another interesting thing the article mentioned was the approach Credit Suisse decided to take for this issue.  Their recruiting department took to cold-calling their own employees about job openings they might be interested in.  By doing so, they reduced their 2014 attrition by 1%, which saved their company millions of dollars.  A program worth looking into?  Bring it up to your manager and see what she thinks!

Getting ahead of employee intent to leave is better than trying to make a counter offer when the employee has another fish on the line.  In fact in 50% of all cases where a counter offer is accepted, the employee makes a decision to leave within 12 months, anyway.  So help your manager manage attrition just a little bit better with these revolutionary facts and an action plan.

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, November 1

Don’t Bother Putting This Stuff on Your Resume

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about employee engagement and your work’s purpose, but sometimes it just isn’t meant to be and you need to get that resume back up to date.  A Revolutionary Assistant’s resume should speak for itself, but if you really want to set yourself apart from the crowd, there are a few things you should avoid.Resume

“Resume” – When I’m looking through resumes, I am amazed at how many times I see that word at the top of people’s resumes.  Do I not know what I’m looking at?  Adding “Resume” to the top of your resume, like it’s a title, is just redundant.  Don’t include it.

“Unemployed” – If you’ve got gaps in your employment history, don’t call them out by putting in a line item that gives dates and says “unemployed.”  That’s just pointing out the bad stuff.  Include the companies you’ve worked for and the dates you worked there, and let the gaps speak for themselves.  Your new employer will notice them and still want to address them, but there’s no sense in calling it out.

Objectives – I am personally irritated by objective statements at the top of a resume.  I know that your objective is to become employed by my company, and that you have X, Y, and Z skills that you’d like to use.  I prefer to see what kind of experiences you’ve called out in your past positions to see if there’s an indication that you can do the job we need you to do.

Skills – I find the list of computer programs you’re familiar with equally annoying.  If I’m looking for someone who’s going to be using Microsoft Access 75% of her day, I’d like to see that addressed as a bullet point in the resume or maybe even in the cover letter.  What I don’t need to see is that you’re an expert in MS Word and have intermediate knowledge of MS Excel and…yawn.  It just takes up space.  Look at the job description and make sure that you reassure your future employer that you are familiar with the applications that are important to them.

Personal Information – It’s not only irrelevant, it’s actually not legal for companies to ask you about your marital status, whether you have kids, how old you are, or anything else.  Don’t include it on a resume and make your prospective employer squirm.  And don’t include a photo either!

“References Available Upon Request” – Don’t worry, they’ll ask.  If you include it, you will seem overanxious.

I probably don’t need to mention that misspellings, bad grammar and bad formatting are also big no-nos on a resume, but I don’t mind saying it again.  The last ten or twelve resumes I’ve reviewed (and I usually review them AFTER they’ve been hired), have included some sort of error that almost blinded me.  Don’t be that guy.  Your resume speaks to the quality of work you do, and it should be perfect.  There’s no second chance at a first impression. – make sure yours is revolutionary!

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, October 18

The Exit Interview

Any good business is interested to know why its people are leaving, so being asked to do an exit interview upon your departure is not unusual and not at all a bad thing.  In fact, a Revolutionary Assistant should be eager to share his or her thoughts on what the organization is doing right and where it could improve.

Like any other interview, you should prepare your thoughts and enter the discussion with positive intentions.  After all, you don’t want to “slam the door shut behind you” when you leave.  Here are some things to think about, and some tips for the interview itself, that you might find handy:

Exit InterviewPlan your comments ahead of time – Even constructive criticism should be thoughtfully delivered.  Think about the reasons why you’re leaving the company, and if there is indeed something about the organization that’s causing your departure (e.g., lack of advancement opportunities, uncompetitive pay), by all means bring it up.  These are the things that the HR department needs to hear.  Make a list of those things you want to discuss, the items you think would be most helpful for the organization to understand.

Work on subtracting the emotion from your delivery – You might not be leaving on the best of terms.  If you’re marching out the front door in a huff, we’re very sorry to hear it.  Resist the urge to unload all your angst on the poor, well-meaning HR generalist.  Do your complaining and venting ahead of time, and approach your exit interview with as much positivity as you can muster.   And, with that in mind…

Refrain from commenting on specifics – The person conducting the exit interview should not be bringing up any specific instances that have caused your departure…in other words, if you’re a victim of sexual harassment, your interviewer should not be asking you questions specific to that incident.  The questions you answer should be general, high-level questions about the company and its leadership.  Decline to answer any questions that jump into that level of detail.

Don’t burn bridges – Your departure from the company may be largely fueled by your hatred for a particular manager or director, but you should be cautious about spewing your opinion of this person.  If it’s one thing I’ve learned in my nearly 30 years in the business world, it’s that industries are smaller than you think, and the likelihood that you’ll run into that horrible person again is bigger than you think.

Do your own “exit interview” with co-workers – As you prepare to leave, use your remaining time to connect with co-workers and let them know how much it’s meant to you that you’ve had the opportunity to work with them.  Spread a little sunshine…and be missed a little more.  It can’t hurt.

At the end of the day, be professional.  This is your last chance to leave on a good note, secure that personal and professional reference.  Don’t leave them with a bad final memory of your time with the company…but don’t walk away from them with information they could use to make the company better for those who remain, either.

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, June 14

Virtual Assistant Freelancing – Is It For You?

Being a Revolutionary Assistant can be a rewarding career, but it’s not always the best paying one.  Like many, you’re probably working for a manager who makes five or six (or a gazillion) times more than you do.  Sure, money doesn’t mean as much as job satisfaction for most of us, but every once in a while it would be nice to have a little extra cash.

If you’re looking to make a little extra cash, you might be checking out some of the freelance sites that are out there.  People are looking for “virtual assistants” right now, a person who can do data entry, research, or even actual administrative tasks, but they’re not ready to hire someone as a full-or part-time employee.

Sites like Guru.com and Upwork.com provides free access to people who are looking for candidates who have administrative skills to offer.  Some are full time positions, others are very specific tasks with a delivery date and are just one-time jobs.

You’ll find, as I did, that most people looking for freelance help are not willing to pay big bucks for the work, but many of the tasks are not such that they require a lot of effort.  Expect to see rates from $5 to $15 an hour, or fixed rate prices on jobs that extend anywhere from $20 to a couple hundred dollars.

Are you going to make your living being a freelance virtual assistant?  Not likely to happen on these sites, but if you’re looking for a project to bring in a little extra cash after the kids go to bed, it might be the best possible way to make a couple of bucks without leaving your couch.  Check out Upwork, Guru, and some of the other freelance sites out there to see for yourself.

Next Post:  Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Do They Know You’re Looking For Another Job?

Revolutionary Assistants are always looking for the next opportunity to prove themselves, and sometimes that opportunity is outside the four walls of your company.   But looking for a new career challenge isn’t the only reason that people look for new positions – they might be overworked and looking for a position that sticks a little closer to 40 hours, or perhaps they’re looking to get out of a bad social or management situation.  Whatever the reason, a person will take the usual steps to get themselves out on the market.

The question is: do their managers know they’re looking?

do-they-know-youre-looking-for-another-jobIt’s something to consider.  Technology has made job-hunting much easier, but it’s also easy to see the evidence.  People beef up their LinkedIn profiles, reach out to new connections and start conversations to get the word out, and if you’re doing that it’s not a huge leap to think that your manager can see it, too.  If you put your resume out on a job board, it’s out there for the whole world (and your boss) to review.  And if you’re using a head hunter, don’t be surprised if one of his associates or connections puts your resume right back in your manager’s hands.  They don’t always look too carefully before they send a qualified candidate along.

On top of those easy ways to give yourself away, though, your employer may be actively looking for all those signs and more to see if you’re looking for another job, and the reason why is pretty obvious:  employee turnover costs money.   Some companies have their eye on those employees that are most likely to leave and do things like track their comings and goings with access badge use or review activities on all their social media accounts.

Several of these concerned organizations have gone as far as retaining a company called Joberate to help them determine which of their employees are putting themselves on the market.  Joberate evaluates social media activity to pinpoint those people that are making all those tell-tale moves, and it’s allowing companies to nip attrition problems in the bud.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to stop someone who’s looking to advance his or her career, but it does mean that they can possibly look for a more challenging position for that person within the company.  An employee might not be forthcoming that his manager is a poor leader and not easy to work with, but Jobrate is telling them that several people who work with that manager are putting themselves on the job market, and that’s helping them determine what the problem is.

So if you’re sneaking around, taking extra-long lunches and maybe one too many dentist and doctor appointments, it might not be the first thing that gave you away.  If you’re truly looking for a bigger challenge in your career and you like the company and the people you work for, it’s worth a discussion with your manager to see if you can take your next steps without parting ways.  If you have other reasons for leaving, that might be worth an honest conversation as well.  After all, they could already know all about it!

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, November 23

The Revolutionary Assistant and the Next Position

Have you ever thought about leaving the administrative support world in favor of another position?

Being an assistant was the best thing I could have ever done. I got my first job in an administrative support position and, after being in the work force for ten or so years, I got married and decided to quit my job to finish my degree. My friends were excited and supportive of my decision, but when they asked, “What are you going to do when you finish college?” they weren’t fond of the response I gave them. I said, “I still want to be an assistant, but at a higher executive level.”

I wasn’t sorThe Next Positionry with my choice. After finishing my degree, I got a job assisting a Senior Vice President, but at a small company. I worked for a year, moved to a larger company, worked for another couple of years, and then moved to a Fortune 500 company supporting a senior executive. My salary went up, my job satisfaction soared…I learned so much about business.

Then, I landed an administrative position at Google, and the job satisfaction started to wain. I moved into my current position, supporting a chief executive officer, and…hmmm, still not too satisfied. I started to realize that for me, satisfaction as an assistant went along with a fantastic assistant/manager relationship, and finding someone I clicked was going to be a crap shoot. Was it a good idea to jump from job to job until I found that magic manager? Probably not.

The only solution for me was to move into another position, but once you’ve worked your way up the administrative ladder it’s hard to find a position for which you’re qualified that will make you the same amount of money. For what it’s worth, here are a few areas that I’ve seen a Revolutionary Assistant move to from her executive support position:

Facilities Management – In some Revolutionary Assistant positions, facility management is a part of the job. One fellow assistant I know has made a very lucrative career managing leases, maintenance and more for a variety of properties her company held. The position taps into an assistant’s natural organization skills.

Event Planning – One of my favorite things to do in my administrative position was planning events, and it turns out, there’s a good living to be made lending your skills to that full time. If you enjoy working with venues, negotiating contracts and planning menus for large groups of people, this might be an area you want to explore.

Travel Management – Larger companies often hire a full-time person to manage their travel program. This would include reviewing and negotiating vendors, examining travel patterns for opportunities, managing travel memberships, and even planning large group travel. Another option would be to interview with travel agencies, especially those that are vendors to large companies. You do, after all, have experience in this area.

Communications – This is the direction I took. Like many Revolutionary Assistants, my talents lie in helping my manager communicate, so when the opportunity arose, I took a job in internal communications and manage our Intranet tools, write articles on strategy, and plan company-wide meetings. I’m in my glory!

Other Non-Entry Level Positions in Your Department – When all else looks bleak, talk to your manager about the opportunities that might be available for your next move. After all, you’ve gained a lot of experience dealing with issues in your area, so there might be a logical next step for you that hasn’t occurred to you yet.

I would have liked to be a Revolutionary Assistant forever. I had a manager that made me love what I do but, unless an opportunity arises to cut his lawn or something, I probably won’t get an opportunity to work with him again. I’m thankful for the skills I picked up along the way, so I can still add great value to my company.

Next Post:  Wednesday, September 23

Are You Too Smart to Be “Just an Assistant”?

I just read a really fun article on LinkedIn by Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace.  Called “Seven Signs You’re Too Smart for Your Job,” the article talks about all the signs you should look for that tell you that you’re operating at a lower level than you should be.

I’ve never felt I’m too smart for my job.  Others apparently think I am, though.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You’re too good for this job,” or “You can do much better than this position.”  Why is it, because the word “assistant” is part of my title that people think I’m at the bottom of the business food chain?  That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Being an assistant is one of those jobs that grows with you.  When you’re young and fresh out of school, an administrative position helping a whole department with a specific kind of task is a good place to start.  As you advance, you learn to become an invaluable part of an executive/assistant team, taking on work that requires brains and integrity.  An assistant doesn’t have to rethink her career – there’s always a new position into which she can grow, a more challenging assignment to be had.

This isn’t to say that I disagree with Liz Ryan about being too smart for a job.  But what she’s really saying throughout most of her article is that you can be too ambitious, too energized, and…well, too smart…for your company.  And that’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

When your values and your philosophy don’t match the people you’re supporting, your motivation and happiness can deteriorate quickly.  This is particularly true of an assistant, who is heavily steeped in the drive and attitude of her manager, the scope of his position and the culture he’s created.  So when you…

  • Work with a bunch of slugs who just punch the time clock,
  • Can’t find a single person in your office that inspires you to reach for the next level, the next success story,
  • Have a boss that doesn’t care what you do as long as his travel reservations are made,
  • Can’t sell a new idea because your co-workers are uncomfortable with anything that’s not the status quo

…then it’s likely you’re too “smart” for your company.  Their values aren’t the same as yours.   Go look for some inspiration.

But being too “smart” to be an assistant? Nah.  This job isn’t about making travel reservations and taking dictation.  I’ve worked my way up the ladder, honing my communication skills, gathering up business acumen, until I could contribute more than my fair share to executive teams that run companies.  I participate in important conversations, have an impact on our results.

And yet I can go home and sleep at night, because even though I have a great time when I’m up to my elbows in business strategy, I’m not responsible for it.  My executive bears that weight on his shoulders.

So tell me again, who’s the dumb one?  :-)

Next post:  Wednesday, October 22

Following Your Boss to a New Job

We Revolutionary Assistants and our managers work like well-oiled cogs in a machine, and so when the boss decides to take a position with a different organization, we can find it very jarring and disruptive to our lives.  After all, breaking in a manager takes time, and once you learn her personality and habits you’re really clicking.  Building a new partnership with another manager sets you back and square one…and then it might not even be successful.

What makes you feel better?  Those words, “I’d like you to come with me.”

Yay!  You think your manager is great and want the partnership to continue.  It seems like a no-brainer.  But is a move to a new company really the right one for you and your career?  Here’s some good advice to follow:

Check out your manager’s new company thoroughly – Find out everything you can about the new company.  Is it a start-up with great potential or a solid company that’s been in business for fifty years?  Start-ups are great if you’re a risk-taker, but if you appreciate financial security, this might not be the right move.  Ask yourself if you’d consider a position with this company if your manager weren’t moving there.

Talk with people who work at your manager’s new company – Discover what you can about the culture and atmosphere.  Does it match your work style?  Perhaps they’re all in the office at dawn-thirty and don’t leave until midnight each day.  Or maybe they don’t advocate the same kind of flexible schedules you currently have. Whatever their culture, make sure that it fits well with your habits and the other expectations you need to meet in your life.

Make sure your manager is leaving for the right reasons – Usually we Revolutionary Assistants have a handle on who’s worth their salt in the office, but make sure your manager isn’t on the verge of being laid off or fired, or is just leaving for the wrong reasons.  Following your manager to a new company means being tied to his reputation.  You don’t want to put yourself in a position to be dragged down.

If you do move with your manager, make lots of new friends – People who are hired as a team can easily be fired as a team, so make sure you establish a new network quickly.  Being well-liked, helpful and otherwise indispensible can help you keep your position even if your manager is let go.

Are you deviating from your career goals? – If your manager is moving into a different position, you need to consider if the work you’ll be doing is beneficial to your long term goals.  Will you learn new skills in this position, or will you be stepping back to a level you haven’t seen in a few years?

How long does your manager intend to stay with this new company? – Is this just a two-year stop on his career trajectory?  If his potential won’t be filled in this new position and he just moves on again in a couple years, you’ll be uprooted again or left to navigate this new place of employment on your own.

It’s such a nice feeling when your manager asks you to follow her to a new company.  And if your relationship is good – and the stars are all aligned for you – you should definitely make the move.  After all, good partnerships are hard to find!

Next post:  Wednesday, April 2

Start Your New Year Off Right – Reinventing Your Position

The start of the year is often a time to reexamine life – at home and at work – and decide what needs to change.  And maybe this is the year that you think your work life needs a little freshening up.

True, you can start looking for a new job, but in this market (and in our position) it can sometimes be easier just to make what is old new again.  Here are some ideas for revitalizing your work life without actually going out to find new employment:

Reevaluate your job description – Are you discouraged at work because you’re overworked with tasks that don’t energize you?  We all have a little bit of this in our lives, but if you’re feeling like all you do is the mundane and ordinary, look around for some tasks that could change that.  Perhaps you’d like to get more involved in employee recognition and culture [ADD LINK] or another area of your manager’s world that sounds interesting.  Take a look at your workload before you sit down with your manager, because you’ll want to discuss what you’d like to add as well as what you’d like to get rid of in order to accommodate the new task.

Change your work schedule – If it seems like you do nothing but work in all your waking hours, think about talking to your manager about a flex schedule.  Perhaps 9:00 to 6:00 schedule makes it seem like you miss everything in your children’s lives, but a 7:30 to 4:30 would create a little more free time without demanding that you go to bed too much earlier.

Get involved (or get your department involved) in a charity – I work for a pet specialty business, and it’s an easy jump to get involved in charities benefiting animals, which is my passion.  Perhaps your company is already involved with a non-profit organization, or maybe it needs to look for a way to benefit its community.  You can help with that, and introduce your co-workers to a rewarding opportunity to bond and get more from their work lives, too.

Transfer to another department – It’s so much easier to interview internally for a position, especially if you really like the company you work for.  Take a look around and determine what else you might like to know about the business.  An assistant who knows about many aspects of her organization is often more valuable than one coming in from the outside.

Seek out new projects – Look for an opportunity to work on new projects, especially if cross-functional teams are being assembled to complete a task.  Participating on this team will allow you to meet new people and learn something new about what your company is trying to accomplish.

There are many more ways to add some spark to your workday, including reinventing your position entirely to include new challenges and opportunities.  I found a good article that digs deep into how you can examine your current responsibilities in hopes of making a change.  Really worth a read before you start sending out those resumes.  Good luck in freshening up your job for 2014!

Next Post:  Wednesday, January 29

Social Media and the Job Interview

Your presence on the web speaks volumes to prospective employers.  When a Revolutionary Assistant interviews for a new and exciting position, you can bet that the recruiter has searched for her on Google, looked at Facebook and Twitter pages, and already formulated an opinion about her based on what’s out there.

Whether it’s fair or not, it’s a new reality that you’re going to be judged on your web personality.  And because of that, there are some things you should erase from your “news feed.”  Equally important, there’s a way you can take advantage of what recruiters are seeing and make it work in your favor.

Here are a couple of things to be careful about:

Posts that bad-mouth your employer, your manager…well, anyone – Prospective employers want to know that you’re a team player and that you’re above-board when it comes to dealing with conflicts.  You’ll look like you don’t care enough to make good decisions about people and how to deal with them.

Linking to questionable sources – We’re all friends with that person who believes everything he reads and then posts it for the world to see.  We all think that person is a dolt.  Well, if a recruiter is searching you out and sees you posting things from less-than-serious sources, he or she may question your intelligence as well.  Make sure that you’re linking to the “People Magazine” of websites, not to the “National Enquirer” versions.

Double-check your privacy settings – You’re always smart to share as little as possible with strangers.  If you’re not friends with me on Facebook, all you can see is my profile picture and that I’m a female.  You can take that one step further and make yourself unsearchable altogether.

Excessive time online – If you’re posting ten or twelve times a day, a recruiter is going to wonder when you have time to get any work done.

Of course, if you know people are looking, you can also use that in your favor.  Why not take the time to make your profile into something that really sings the praises of a great employee?  Here are a couple of things you can do to accomplish that:

Be inspirational – If you’re praising the accomplishments of your friends and co-workers in your online communications, that’s a good thing. If you’re rooting them on, that’s even better.  Take that a step further, and post about your work with non-profits, charity walks, etc.  Recruiters want to see that you’re putting good stuff out there.

Follow the profiles of the companies you’re interested in working for – Not only will you get good information about the businesses your talking with, recruiters will see you as an interested and already-invested individual.

Contribute thoughtfully to blog discussions – Recruiters like to see that you have something to share and are willing to share it.  If you follow industry blogs, throw your two cents in!  It might not only help out another reader, but it might help you to a new job, too!

Whether you choose to let your profile hang out there for everyone to read or make it private, remember that employers don’t have a right to ask you to log in so they can check you out during an interview.  Don’t believe that could happen?  Well, think again!  Take a look at this Huffington Post article that talks about one candidate’s experience with exactly that issue.

Your social media presence is like a second layer of you that recruiters can check out, so take great care with the information you have out there, make sure it tells the right story about you.  And protect it judiciously!

Next post:  Wednesday, November 12