Feature: What Should Labor Day Really Mean?

Feature: What Should Labor Day Really Mean?

Feature: What Should Labor Day Really Mean?

For many years now, Labor Day has served two purposes. It has been a day of parades and other events to celebrate trade and labor organizations and the working men and women who are their members. And, it has traditionally been a day of barbeques and picnics to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the school year, the football season and the run up to the World Series. All in all, Labor Day is a special holiday for Americans, but I think it’s getting short shrift.

You see, the original Labor Day was established in New York City as “a day off for the working citizens”. It was meant to celebrate everyone in the workforce, not just union members. And it was intended to be a day off from work for citizens, people who have rights as well as responsibilities. Of course, we all know our responsibilities at work-we are hired based on a job’s requirements and responsibilities, our performance is evaluated against those same parameters, and we can be fired when we are adjudged not to have measured up to them. It’s very clear, in short, that our responsibility is to provide a fair return on our employers’ investment in us as employees.

But what about our rights? Now just to be clear, I’m not talking about labor rights-the right to organize, and engage in collective bargaining. No, I’m talking about individual citizen’s rights. The right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Those rights don’t disappear when we go off to work. They aren’t something we have when we’re with our families, friends and neighbors, but something we lose as soon as we walk through the doors of our employers. Our rights as citizens are inalienable, which means they cannot be separated from us, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. And if that’s so, I believe Labor Day should celebrate our rights in the workplace as well as give us a rest from our responsibilities there.

The question, of course, is just how should we do that? I don’t think another parade or barbeque would do the trick. I can’t imagine that doing more of what we already do would make much of a difference in how we see and appreciate the holiday. Which means we’re going to have to try something new. So, here’s my admittedly radical suggestion. Let’s use the day off from our employers to work on our own careers. Let’s use Labor Day to labor for ourselves.

I know, I know. That seems more than a little far-fetched. At least, at first blush. But consider this: regardless of where you were this past weekend-whether you were lying on the beach, hiking in a park, watching your kids play soccer or playing a game of softball-I’ll bet half the crowd looked at least once at the Blackberries in their pockets or purses. In other words, they were using their Labor Day holiday to labor for their employers.

So, if many, maybe even most of us are already laboring away on Labor Day, why not spend a little quality time with our own careers? What would that involve? I suggest you give yourself a personal performance review. Now, don’t get all hot and bothered with that idea. I’m not suggesting the kind of evaluation you have to endure with your boss. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that, over the course of the three day holiday, you invest two hours in a private, candid conversation with yourself. That’s all. And since this year’s Labor Day is already behind us, I also suggest that you use this coming weekend to have this little chat.

What should you talk about? The state of your career. What you’re trying to find out is just how healthy or fit it is. Here are five questions that can help you with your assessment:

  • Question #1. Is your current job enabling you to hone the application of your current skill set and/or to acquire new skills? If not, you’re losing strength and endurance in the workplace and, as a result, undermining your ability to withstand the kind of sudden change in employment circumstances (e.g., a workplace downsizing or plant relocation) that is occurring with increasing frequency these days.
  • Question #2. Are you performing at your peak in your current job and are you doing so every single day? If not, your career is growing flabby and weakening your reputation as a quality employee and prospect for advancement.
  • Question #3. Have you taken advantage of the educational resources available at your professional association, local educational institutions and commercial training companies to keep your expertise in your career field at the state-of-the-art? If not, you’ve let the heart of your career atrophy and set yourself up for career cardiac arrest or what most of us call termination.
  • Question #4. Are you using online and offline opportunities to network with your peers and build a strong circulatory system of professional contacts? If not, you are shortening your reach and thus your ability to know about and compete for the best jobs in your field.
  • Question #5. Have you acquired any additional skills outside your primary field (e.g., using productivity-enhancing hardware or software or speaking an additional language) that would enable you to expand the contribution you can make on-the-job? If not, you have limited your flexibility and range of motion, and in today’s unforgiving workplace, that can make you a liability rather than an asset.
  • The answers to these (and other similar) questions can give you a frank assessment of the health of your career. Once you have that personal insight, use it to take two additional steps:

  • First, pat yourself on the back for the progress you’ve made and the career victories you’ve achieved. Don’t wait for your supervisor, give yourself the recognition you deserve.
  • Second, remediate the areas of weakness. Don’t simply acknowledge that you have a problem or two. Fix them. Successful career self-management is a lot like riding a bicycle; you can coast for only so long and then, either you move forward or you tumble over and crash.
  • So, here’s my take on Labor Day. Absolutely, it’s an occasion to take some time off, to give ourselves a little well deserved rest and relaxation. As important as that pause is, however, the holiday has an even greater purpose. It offers us a chance to be “working citizens” in the true sense of the phrase, to recapture our right to a meaningful and satisfying career. All we have to do to achieve that end is to spend a little quality time with ourselves working at it.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. READER’S ALERT: Don’t miss the write-up below on our latest book-WEDDLE’s Guide to Staffing Firms & Employment Agencies. The American Staffing Association reports that one-third of those who take part time or contract jobs through a staffing firm end up being hired full time by their employers. That’s why this book is “a practical path to full and part time employment”.

    P.S.S. Don’t forget to send us your new e-mail address if you move.

    This Issue’s Sponsor: Recognizing Richard Rabbit

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big bestseller in a little book that is the “must read” new publication for professionals on the move.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends who make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story opens the door to genuine self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you were meant to be.

    Why is that so important? Because whether you are a mid-career professional or a first time job seeker, whether you are a senior executive or a skilled tradesperson, whether you are actively looking for a job or just keeping your options open, the key to success is a sure understanding of who you are and what you stand for. So, make sure you know the authentic You. Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Don’t delay. Get Recognizing Richard Rabbit right away.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The Hay Group surveyed compensation executives and managers to get their sense of how many employees actually know the minimum and maximum figures in the salary range for their position. Among the respondents:

  • 24% said that few employees knew the salary range minimum and maximum for their job;
  • 25% said some employees knew these figures;
  • 18% said that that half of all employees were aware of such figures;
  • 18% said that most employees had this information; and
  • 14% actually said that all employees knew the figures.
  • To put it another way, almost half (49%) of the compensation experts in this poll felt that hardly anyone in their organization knew much about the upper and lower limits of pay for their job and barely one-in-seven thought that everyone was fully informed. Which raises the question, how can employees who lack such knowledge know whether they are being treated fairly in their annual salary review or how can they negotiate effectively when trying to make the case for a raise? The short answer is they can’t. So, to protect yourself, pay a visit to the HR Department and find out what the minimum and maximum salaries are for your job. That’s the only way you can know for sure where you stand in the organization and what (if anything) there is to shoot for.

    The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed college students to get their view of recruiters using social networking sites to connect with candidates. An astonishing 83% of the 19,036 respondents said they had a profile on a social networking site, and over half (51.1%) expected employers to look at their profile and use it as the basis for contacting them. Despite that expectation, however, just 7.1% of the respondents reported that they had actually been contacted by an employer through a social networking site. What’s behind the disconnect? In a parallel survey of employers conducted by the association, just 17% of the respondents said they planned to use social networking sites to source candidates for their openings, and two-thirds of those said they would advertise on social networking sites ,but not use them to view profiles or identify candidates. So, if you’re looking for a date, a social networking site might do the trick, but if you’re looking for a job, you’ll get better results if you use old fashioned networking and job applications.

    Workforce Management magazine published a list of the seven most “commuter-friendly” companies in America. These employers provide their workers with a range of benefits to lessen the impact of higher gas costs, congested roads and long commuting distances. They include:

  • Bank of America, Charlotte, NC
  • Principal Financial, Des Moines, IA
  • F5 Networks, Seattle, WA
  • Pitney Bowes, Stamford, CT
  • Microsoft, Redmond, WA
  • Safeco, Seattle, WA
  • STS Telecom, Cooper City, FL
  • WEDDLE’s has announced the release of a powerful new tool for job seekers. Called WEDDLE’s Guide to Staffing Firms & Employment Agencies, it’s a comprehensive listing of such organizations organized by their occupational, industry and geographic specialties.

  • Some people prefer temporary, contract or part time employment. It gives them freedom and flexibility in their careers.
  • For others, it’s a foot in the door-the American Staffing Association reports that one-third of those who take such positions are ultimately hired full time by their employer.
  • Whichever is your preference, this book is the fast way to find a job, even in a difficult economy. To order WEDDLE’s Guide to Staffing Firms & Employment Agencies, call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here.

    WEDDLE’s also offers a number of other publications that can help you land the job of your dreams, even in today’s tough job market. They include:

  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Called the “Zagat of the online employment industry” by the American Staffing Association, it provides full-page profiles of 350 of the best job boards in a range of occupations, industries and locations;
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Directory of Employment Related Internet Sites. The “address book of the online employment industry,” it lists over 9,000 sites and organizes them by the career fields, industries and geographies on which they focus; and
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Association Web Sites. The key to the “hidden job market” online, it details the employment resources and capabilities that are provided at the Web-sites of over 1,900 associations and societies.
  • Finding a job in the present environment is difficult; finding a great job is even more difficult. Part of the challenge is knowing where to look. With over 50,000 job boards in the U.S. alone, there are lots of places where you can waste a lot of time and effort. How can you avoid that trap? Be a smart consumer. Get the gold standard of job board guides: WEDDLE’s. They will help you identify the job boards that will work best for you. So, don’t delay! Call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here to place your order today.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories

    There are 50,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to a successful online job search, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the best sites for your specific employment objective. WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide identifies 350 of the top sites worldwide and provides the information you need to determine which job boards will deliver the best opportunities for you. For example:

    WorkplaceDiversity.com

    http://www.workplacediversity.com

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes-All

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Number of jobs: 8,600

    Salary levels of jobs: $101-150K/yr, $151-200K/yr

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: If registered

    Other services for job seekers: Assessment instruments, Career information, Links to other sites with career information

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes

    Get Recognizing Richard Rabbit Today!

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big bestseller in a little book that is the “must read” new publication for professionals on the move.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends who make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story opens the door to genuine self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you were meant to be.

    Why is that so important? Because whether you are a mid-career professional or a first time job seeker, whether you are a senior executive or a skilled tradesperson, whether you are actively looking for a job or just keeping your options open, the key to success is a sure understanding of who you are and what you stand for. So, make sure you know the authentic You. Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768 or click here. Don’t delay. Get Recognizing Richard Rabbit right away.