3 Tips to Gaining Workplace Prominence

 

 

WorkplaceProminence

In the post-dotcom era, job security is pretty much an outdated concept. However, my relative, who worked in HR for years, noticed certain employees’ habits that lessened their chances of getting pink slips. And I am sharing them with you.

Develop a trademark. TV character Blossom’s flower hats. Lady Gaga’s meat dress. Those signatures cemented those people in our minds. Do the same in the office arena.  Everyone remembers the guy who always wears a bowtie or trendy eyeglasses. And no one forgets the woman who comes in every morning, brightly stating, “New day; new adventure!” It’s human nature: people take a shine to someone memorable.  Reinforcing your presence in the office reinforces your job security that much more.

Forget about “us and them.” If you’re an executive, you may feel you have nothing to say to a mailroom clerk, and vice versa. My relative stressed the importance of greeting everyone you cross paths with in the office. Her quote concerning this matter: “The same people you see on the way up are the same people you see on the way down.” And learning about what he or she does also helps you understand more about how your corporate machine works. And if you find yourself unemployed, you’ll have a network of acquaintances that remember you fondly, and will be willing to assist in your job search.

Share the wisdom. Create a fantastic job aid, or find an awesome website relevant to your job? Share it. I’ve sometimes worked with people who did indeed create a cool job aid or find a helpful site, but kept it to themselves for self-promotion purposes. It had an inverse effect. Once their selfish acts were discovered, teammates viewed them as threats to team cohesion. Think back to when you were in elementary school. How did everyone feel about the boy who brought a bag of lollipops to share with everyone at lunch? Now, how did everyone feel about the girl who brought a bag of lollipops and ate one at lunch every day, never sharing? It’s the same principle as adults; generous people are popular people. Sharing what you know cultivates relationships with team members, and puts you on the path to leadership.

While there is no magic formula for maintaining employment, these human-friendly practices may unconsciously affect human resources’ decisions when it comes time to scale back, putting you on the top of the “keep” pile. Wishing you much success in your career journey…

Sean C. Wright is the author of 8 books. For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–business or consumer–visit https://seanarchy.wordpress.com.

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I’m pleased to announce the release of my 8th book, Skoll’s Diary.

Africans and African Americans left Earth in 1900, and went to another planet in The Milky Way to escape mistreatment…

It’s now the year 3005 on that terraformed planet. We get a peek into the life of a bright and sensitive teenaged boy, Skoll, through his journal. He loves his world, but is curious about life on Earth. Then suddenly, an epic event casts him in the middle of a difficult decision.  The fate of the planet’s community is in his hands.

Get the book here. I’d appreciate your leaving a review if you read it. Thanks in advance!

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The Educated Poor

Educated Poor

I distinctly remember my ninth grade history teacher telling my class that Generation X (us) would be the last generation to have more than its parents.  I think my adolescent brain was damaged from holding up those big, crispy mall bangs or perhaps it was just the arrogance of youth. I mentally scoffed, thinking, “Not me.  I’m going to college and getting a good job.”

Fast forward twenty-something years. As I reflect on unemployment and underemployment episodes, I have fed my fifteen-year-old self a big piece of humble pie, as I am sure many Me Generation members have, too.  Yes, college-educated Gen-Xers have a comfortable home and a car.  But we struggle to keep the lights on.  Many “eat” their savings, cashing in the 401(k) to pay for groceries.  People often ponder their astronomical debt-to-income ratio.  One and one equal two, Baby Boomers reason.  College grads have good jobs and financial security. And if you’re good with money, too, that should be another feather in your cap.  So why, they wonder and ask, does your one and one equal zero?  As I fill people in on our situations, I run into more and more people who are joining the new class: the educated poor.  Lately, I commiserate with my EP brothers and sisters and compare and analyze eerily similar stories that brought us to the land of career instability, financial hardship, and sorry to be cliché: broken dreams.

The biggest contributor to the EP crisis is “work spurts.”  I, along with many others, have often been hired for what we are led to believe are fairly secure positions (I use the term loosely because no job is secure these days.).  But about a year later – or even in less time – the volume of work drops significantly.  Time after time, employers woefully told me there just wasn’t enough work to justify keeping me then showed me the door. I may get asked to come back for future projects or to clear another backlog, but it’s common knowledge that unemployment only pays a percentage of your salary.  Spending a few months on unemployment here and there throughout my career has strained my bank account to the point of giving it a hernia.

As disconcerting as “work spurts” are, they aren’t the most nefarious contributor.  It is the “Twilight Zone hiring” trend.  Remember The Twilight Zone episode where unattractive people were desirable and the attractive people were deemed ugly?  It wasn’t such a far-fetched concept.  I was told I wasn’t selected for the last two jobs I interviewed for because I was “too good.”  They considered me capable and even sharp, so they figured I wouldn’t be happy for long with the salary they were offering.  In fact, one went on to say, I wouldn’t be happy in the position for long “with all that you’ve done, you know, all that experience.”  I thanked the employers for their time but fumed as I thought about the issues a company faces hiring a less-experienced person: the wider gap in the learning curve when training for the position, which takes time and as we all know, time is money.  But companies probably figure dollars lost to hiring less-experienced candidates have less impact on their pocketbooks than paying higher salaries to more qualified people.

My EP peers and I have also noted that the more things change, the more they stay the same with salaries.  For instance, if you are working a job making $15 an hour, you will probably be making about that much next year, and the year after that.  It’s the Twilight Zone mentality’s partner in crime.  Taking jobs that kept me afloat present a problem when I pursue higher-paying positions and employers look at my resume.  “You were (insert subordinate job here) for three years,” they sneer, “and now you want to be a manager?”  It’s the chicken and egg thing, the old catch 22: people want experience, but no one will hire you to give you experience.  And if your paycheck amount has changed little since you graduated college and the cost of living goes up, up, up each year, your debt jumps by leaps and bounds.

But after all my career challenges and my financial worries, I keep my eyes on the horizon.   I take consolation in the fact that floundering careers give birth to entrepreneurship.  I remind myself that I got my most brilliant inspiration and turned out some of my best writing during layoffs.  The fifteen-year-old girl in me may be disappointed, but she has risen to the occasion — buoyantly congratulating me every time I sell an article or story, lending me her energy to pound the pavement for work and to sit through yet another nerve-wracking interview.  “You can do it,” she says.  “You are awesome.  We just have to convince the right employer that you are, too.”

Sean C. Wright is the author of 5 books. For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–business or consumer–visit https://seanarchy.wordpress.com.

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Send me your typo images! Snap pictures and email them to msseanc@aol.com. They must be real pictures and not images in online links, as those might be doctored. I’m looking for the real McCoy. Conceal the company’s identity if possible. No sweat if you can’t. I’ll hide the name before I post it. We’re not looking to embarrass but to educate.

The Freelance Writing Dance

Speedwriting

At a low point in my Clark Kent career, I decided to try my hand at freelance writing.  Starry-eyed, I imagined creating my land of milk and honey with writing, my life blood.  There would be gratifying assignments, like crafting crisp business proposals; or fun ones, like assisting a grade-school child with his or her English paper.  I’d collect my fee, go on my merry way and await the next awesome project.

Oh, how ignorant I was about The Freelance Writing Dance!  Sometimes you get dipped without warning.  People suddenly want you to pirouette with no preparation.  And sometimes you’re dancing with someone who has two left feet.

You may be well-aware of the potential chaos within the choreography.  But if you were like me and did not, here are some tips before you put on your Freelance Writing Dance shoes:

Establish rules on the dance floor beforehand.  You write for a client, they pay you and that’s the end of the story, right?  That’s the way it should be but it sometimes isn’t.  I had clients avoid me like a bad date once I did the writing and it was time to pay.  Infuriating.  Others said they had no problem paying but could they meet me in a business parking lot at midnight and bring the funds?  Inconvenient and creepy.   These experiences taught me a valuable lesson: let people know what they can expect from you before you start writing for them.  And in turn, what you expect from them.  Just like maids stated that they “didn’t do windows” back in the day before they were hired, we, unfortunately must do the same.  I drew up a short and sweet document letting clients know upfront when payment is expected, payment options, etc.  If the client doesn’t agree to my policies, that’s fine.  At least it saved me from heartache down the road.  If they do agree but deviate from the terms later, I’m somewhat protected.

Dance like you really mean it.  This tip piggybacks on the first one.  When I first decided to freelance full-time, I didn’t count on the possibility of having projects overlapping on occasion. I was going crazy. I knew I had to do something when my passion for writing began to wane.  Fortunately, the solution was simple: get organized.  I overhauled my study, eradicating clutter and got an updated computer.  I also make great use of my dry erase calendar.  It’s comforting to have deadlines sprawled out for an entire month right at my fingertips.  I know different organizational systems work for different writers but you need one nonetheless.  Nothing is more dismaying to a writer than missing a deadline.  My experience has been there is no half-stepping in freelancing; you must mind your business like a business. 

Play nice in the ballroom.  This may seem like the most logical tip but it’s a shame how rarely it’s practiced.  True story:  About 3 years ago, I exchanged business cards with a woman I met at a creative career mixer.  I included her on my email distribution list for informative emails about events and other things I thought were helpful.  Imagine my surprise when she replied to my email one day, telling me to “stop spamming” her!    I apologized and removed her from my email address book.  Well, imagine my surprise again when she emailed me months later with some of the same “spam,” an event she was promoting.  Fortunately, I took the high road.  I replied, politely reminding her about the inflammatory email she sent me months earlier.  And oh, would she please remove me from her distribution list, too?  My point with this cautionary tale is that people in the creative industry, such as writers, run in tight circles.  I describe what that woman had as The Cinderella Syndrome.  She was unfriendly to someone who she felt had no value to her at the time but found that the person did later.  I’ve found it really pays off to cultivate positive relationships whenever possible.  Playing nice has effortlessly led me to some fabulous referrals. 

The Freelance Writing Dance sometimes threw me for a loop but I am figuring it out and learning the complicated steps.  When you make writing and business tango partners, it’s not always easy but the challenge is exhilarating.  I am recovering from the sudden dips and pirouettes with much more grace.

    

Sean C. Wright is the author of 5 books. For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–business or consumer–visit https://seanarchy.wordpress.com.

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Scam Busters

Stop Scams

Lately, the economy has us attempting to reel in extra income in ways never before thought of.   Unfortunately, scammers work as feverishly as we do in times like these, creating ways to get you to part with your hard-earned dollar.   Keep your eyes open for these farces.

The Work from Home Scam is common and age-old.  Many need part-time work, or want work that allows them to stay home with their children, so it sticks around.  But beware of any job opportunities where you are asked to pay for “application processing fees or materials” up front.  After they take your money, you don’t hear from them again.  The only positions that are legitimate in this way are independent sales for cosmetics, and other companies like them. Red flags for this scam are flashy images on their web site – expensive cars, yachts, and people holding fistfuls of money.

The Home Rescue Scam is the new kid on the block of scams. A “real estate investor” promises to bring your mortgage payments current.  Just sign over the deed, and he or she offers to keep making the payments in the future. But you have to move out so he or she can rent the house, helping you avoid foreclosure and a stain on your credit.  However, the “real estate investor” never makes a mortgage payment while charging rent. Thus, the bank forecloses, you do get the black mark on your credit and the renter gets evicted. The only one “helped” in this setup is the “investor,” who collected rent money.

Fake Check Scams are clever and catastrophic to its victims.  A company sends a legitimate-looking check to you in the mail, instructing you to cash it and send a portion of the money back to them for “prize or contest fees.”  You do, and the check they sent you bounces.  You’re out the money you sent them and the bank fees to process the bounced check.

Sean C. Wright is the author of the short stories Hazel Hogan and Devil Does Dallas. She is also an editor. For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–business or consumer–visit http://www.iwrightaway.com/.

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How to Deal With A “Bananager”

CrazyManager

There’s more pressure on those employed in this job market now than ever before to be indispensible — and compatible — with coworkers.  This is especially true with management.  Unfortunately, difficult managers are like the common cold virus: they don’t ever seem to go away.   Have a “bananager,” that is a manager that drives you bananas like the ones below?  Good news: there is “chicken soup.”   

The Diva.  Roll out the red carpet.  For this supervisor, manager means A-list star.  I reported to one of these types who threw tantrums when he could not get through immediately if he called into the office on one of the 12 crazy, busy phone lines.  How dare customers get priority over him?  The Diva boss also believes employee means servant.  He constantly told me, not asked me,  to bring him refreshments.   I still shudder when I see Diet Cokes.  Another time, I was told to call the phone company for him to set up service after his divorce and relocation to an apartment. 

What’s going on:  The Diva supervisor has subconscious feelings of insignificance.  As a child, he may have been the last one picked when his peers were choosing team mates.  As adults, these bosses unleash their wrath by “putting people in their places” before people put them in theirs.

How to cope:  Do not try to handle him at all – start job-hunting inside or outside the company.  Anyone who treats employees like waitstaff is not rational.  He will surely struggle with building a team, having It’s All About Me attitude.  As the old saying goes, “There is no I in team.”

The Power Tripper.  This manager is a cousin to the Diva.  Too bad, so sad for all those who don’t hail the king or queen.  My Power Tripper supervisor was named Molly, but that sounds deceptively sweet and warm, so let’s call her Hortense.  If you came back two minutes late from lunch, you owed Hortense two minutes at the end of the work day.  Occasional attempts to get accommodations or extensions on projects Hortense assigned were frowned upon, because as she put it, “It’s your job to bow to me, not my job to bow to you.”

What’s going on: These supervisors have a one-dimensional view of their roles, believing that control over employees is their only responsibility.  Other factors that make a good manager, like being a mentor and a system of support, do not come in to the picture. 

How to cope:  Power Tripper bosses should be treated like The Divas:  Run — don’t walk — to the nearest exit.

The Nervous Nelly.  They are not the worst of the worst, but can try your patience.  He may wring his hands, sweat profusely, and furrow his brow when someone comes to look in on your department.  It is not uncommon for him to ask ten times in one hour, “How are you coming on that?  Is it done yet?  When are you going to be done? Huh?”

What’s going on:  He lacks confidence, may be a rookie manager, or under tremendous pressure to get results. 

How to cope:  Constant reassurance is the key.  Proactively giving him updates before he gets on edge will make for smooth sailing, thus potentially leading to a positive professional relationship. 

The Figurehead.  Whenever you approach this supervisor with questions, she often can’t answer them.  Many times, employees are referred to her “advisors” for help.  Shockers of all shockers, she can’t perform most of the duties of your job; she has never held a position remotely similar to yours.

What’s going on:  Figureheads may not know all the ins and outs of the department like you, but may have exceptional delegation and critical thinking skills. 

How to cope:  The  five-year-old in you may feel like screaming, “It’s not fair!  Why is she the boss when I know more?”   But if the manager is likable, being as helpful as possible is the best bet.  You may become her “advisor.”  And that can definitely work in your favor when being considered for a promotion, or a letter of recommendation should you leave the company.