Feature: How Workaholism Can Hurt Your Career

Feature: How Workaholism Can Hurt Your Career

Feature: How Workaholism Can Hurt Your Career

More and more Americans are working more and more hours. Some believe they must put in the extra time in order to hang onto their jobs, while others think that spending lots of time in the office or on the road is the key to career success. Sadly, the former are probably right-employers are squeezing the life out of the worklife balance in order to meet Wall Street’s profit expectations-and the latter are definitely wrong. Here’s what I mean.

Americans now spend more hours on the job than English, French or German workers and even the vaunted salarymen of Japan. For example, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average workweek in the U.S. now drags on for 49 hours, which is 350 more hours per year than the average workweek in Europe. Worse, a survey by Expedia, taken earlier this year, found that 13% of American workers actually took no vacation last year because they were too busy working.

And then, there’s the recent poll by Spherion. It asked 600 people about their work and personal lives and found that a staggering 51% spent 7 or more hours of personal time each week thinking about work. When asked what part of their lives this behavior most adversely affected:

  • 32% said family and relationships,
  • 27% said health and fitness, and
  • 20% said their sex lives and hobbies.
  • In short over-doing work is a harmful addiction, and there is even a Web-site that provides support for those who are afflicted. It’s called Workaholics Anonymous.

    The recognized consequences of workaholism are bad enough, but there is another side effect of this condition that is not as obvious, but is just as hurtful. Ironically, focusing all of your time and effort on the workplace can hurt your career. Why? Because such all-consuming behavior precludes your investing the personal attention and skill required to manage a career successfully, especially in these difficult and unpredictable times.

    Setting the course for your career and taking the actions required to implement that plan are not trivial tasks. They require considerable skill, knowledge and commitment. They are not something you can do on an ad hoc basis, when you decide to make a move to another employer, or on an emergency basis, when your employer decides that it’s time for you to move along. As with anything important and complex, managing a career-at least, doing so successfully-is a full time, on-going obligation. In other words, it’s work, and you must make time for it just as you do for your work on-the-job.

    Now, career counselors have been making the case for such personal career management for years. Unfortunately, while the advice was wise, the tools for implementing it were all but nonexistent. Most people did not have access to either the information or the resources necessary to develop a clear course for their career and take the steps to make it happen. The Internet, however, has changed that. For the first time in history, working men and women actually have what they need to be bona fide personal career managers.

    What should they do? I believe they should invest the time and effort to work at six discrete activities. These activities provide both the forward momentum to move you toward your personal employment objectives as well as a safety net for the unexpected turns in a career. They entail:

  • Using the job agent technology on employment Web-sites to look for career advancement opportunities every day for the rest of your worklife.
  • Visiting corporate Web-sites and independent research sites to conduct research on prospective employers and identify those where you can best continue to grow and develop in your work.
  • Joining online discussion forums and electronically networking every day to expand your range of contacts in the world of work.
  • Learning and following the rules for the safe storage and transmission of your resume on the Internet.
  • Tapping the rich information and developmental resources available online to ensure that you are always “interview ready” in your profession, craft or trade, your industry and the world of work, in general.
  • Doing your homework to find and then investing the time to use those job boards and career portals that can best advance your career-today, tomorrow and into the future.
  • This 6-step methodology can be helpful to you, whether you are about to graduate from college, are still looking for your first job after college, have years of experience in the workplace or are a senior executive in transition for the first time in your life. It includes all of the offensive and defensive steps you should take to find good jobs consistently, perform at your best in them and continuously advance your career. It is not, however, an ala carte menu. In other words, you cannot pick and chose among these activities and expect to be successful. No, this is a single, integrated plan which must be executed in toto, if it is to deliver the outcomes you seek in the world of work.

    While I’ve addressed several of the activities in previous columns, this is the first time I’ve integrated them into a single, comprehensive approach for personal career management online. I’ll address each of the six steps in greater detail in future columns. If you know of friends or colleagues who would benefit from this information, please tell them about my newsletter and encourage them to sign up.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    CareerJournal.com and Harris Interactive announced the results of their annual poll of recruiter’s favorite MBA programs. The top ten were: University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Dartmouth (Tuck), University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Yale University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler). Recruiter’s picks for the top MBA schools for hiring women were Columbia University, Northwestern University and the University of California at Berkeley (tied with Northwestern); their picks for the top MBA schools for hiring minorities were University of Michigan, Columbia University and Clark Atlanta University.

    HotJobs.com conducted its annual Boss Day poll to determine what employees think is the key to pleasing the guy or gal on top. Better than four out of ten respondents said that it was doing quality work (up from less than a third last year), while 29% gave the nod to being a team player (down from 37% last year). When asked what made for a good boss, almost half (46%) said it was the willingness to share responsibility and credit, while 24% said it was the ability to act as a mentor. What was least important? If you are trying to please the boss, being honest (sadly, chosen by just 9%), and if you are trying to be a highly regarded boss, having power in the company (chosen by just 1%). And, how are bosses and employees getting along? According to respondents, it’s been better; 44% said that bosses have become “stricter” in the past year.

    TrueCareers, a job board affiliated with Sallie Mae, the student loan organization, recently polled 500 people ion the workforce and found that 95% are either currently taking educational courses or considering a return to academia. Of that total, an amazing 44% are already hitting the books. Among the reasons cited for this personal development effort were (a) making themselves more marketable in their career field, (b) enhancing their on-the-job performance and (c) curiosity about a particular topic. No less impressive, more than half said they were in school to support a career change. In other words, all were taking the initiative to manage their careers proactively, and that’s one of the keys to success (see the Feature column above) in today’s demanding employment environment.

    Walker Information provided another look at bosses in a recent study of employee loyalty. It surveyed 2,400 full and part time workers and found that two-thirds (65%) are either at high risk of leaving their current employers or feel trapped, but would leave if they could. What was bothering the respondents? In a word, leadership … or more precisely, the lack of it. Only half of the respondents said they worked for strong, capable leaders, and fewer than half were comfortable reporting ethical misconduct, a sure sign that the management abuses reported at Enron, Global Crossing and Worldcom are just the beginning of the story.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. If you were a veterinarian looking for a position where you could treat large animals, which of the following sites would be your “holy growl?”

  • TalentZoo.com
  • Farms.com
  • VetJobs.com
  • TigerJobs.com
  • 2. If you were a project engineer and wanted to work by telecommuting, which of the following sites would answer the call?

  • Womans-work.com
  • MommysPlace.net
  • PortaJobs
  • TelecommutingJobs.com
  • 3. If you were just graduated from college, which of the following sites would help you connect with an entry-level, telesales position?

  • Startupjobs.com
  • MeetingJobs.com
  • Experience.com
  • SnagAJob.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2003 Guides and Directories



    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time/consulting jobs: Yes

    Distribution of jobs: International

    Number of jobs: 29,000

    Salary levels of jobs: $31-50K, $51-75K

    Offer a job agent: No

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 30 days

    Restrictions on who can post: None

    Other services for job seekers: Confidentiality feature: resume not released to employer without candidate’s permission

    Answers to Site Insite

    3. Farms.com

    4. All of them; MommysPlace.net has changed its name to TeleworkRecruiting.com

    5. Experience.com