Feature: Why You Should Be in Two Places at Once

Feature: Why You Should Be in Two Places at Once

Feature: Why You Should Be in Two Places at Once

A recent poll in USA Today asked whether unplanned absences have a negative impact on long-term career development and compensation. Almost six-in-ten (58%) of the respondents said “No,” while 41% said “Yes,” and 1% didn’t have an opinion. It’s hard to know what these results mean, however, as the survey question, itself, was miscast. The issue for most of us isn’t an unplanned absence-when kids get sick, for example-but a lengthy one, a situation that keeps us away from work for two years or more. A growing number of us are dealing with such challenges as we care for parents or young children, and the impact on our careers is likely to be negative and long lasting.

Whatever employers may say about being family friendly, the reality is that given two candidates with identical work records, they will almost always select the one with the unbroken work record. Why? Because employers assume that when people turn away from the workplace they also turn off their careers. And sadly, in most cases, they are correct. Working at home is every bit as consuming as working for an employer, so there’s precious little time left over to protect our career from the diminishing impacts of a lengthy absence. So, what happens? At some point, we readjust our family responsibilities and return to the workplace, but with a gaping hole in our resume that all but ensures we will take a gigantic step backward in our career.

There’s been considerable hand-wringing in the media about this situation, and while I would agree with the criticism, I also think it does us a disservice. Complaining about the unfairness of the situation, no matter how justified, isn’t going to change the reality of corporate behavior. A better course of action, it seems to me, is to take whatever steps we can to protect our careers within the constraints imposed on us by our responsibilities. Here’s what I mean.

Care-giving responsibilities, whether they involve parents or children, limit our time and attention span. Basically, there is little or no opportunity in our daily schedule to engage in those activities that are most likely to preserve and advance our careers. These activities include:

  • Maintaining our occupational knowledge and expertise;
  • Staying in touch with our professional colleagues and peers; and
  • Keeping abreast of trends, developments and changes in our industry.
  • Normally, these activities would be accomplished within the woof and wane of our workday. They would occur during our interactions with coworkers, discussions with clients, participation in training sessions and even the reading we do in professional publications while struck in an airport on a business trip. We are able to do them because we are present in person.

    But what if we could do these same activities when we aren’t present in person? And equally as important, what if we could do them whenever it was convenient for us or, more likely, whenever we could fit them into the tiny chinks of free time that do occur in our busy schedule of home-based responsibilities? If that were possible, we could actually be in two places at once: we could be at home so we can meet our care-giving responsibilities and we could be in the workplace so we can participate in the activities that advance our career. How is that possible? With the Internet.

    The Internet keeps you connected to the world of work and supports that connectivity whenever and wherever it’s convenient for you. You can be online once the school bus leaves in the morning, during a parent’s afternoon nap or in the evening when you have a quiet moment to yourself. And when you are, you can:

  • enroll in and take online courses to ensure that you stay abreast of the state-of-the-art in your field. Many of these programs involve self-paced instruction, so you can move at a speed that is comfortable for you, given your schedule and responsibilities. Taking (and completing) these courses, moreover, permits you to add a development experience to your resume where otherwise there would be a gap.
  • network with your peers at the discussion forum of a career portal or association site that specializes in your field. Out of sight need not be out of mind if you remain actively engaged in a dialogue with your colleagues via the asynchronous communications capability of the Internet. Such interactions enable you to maintain a presence in their mind where otherwise there would be a gap when you’re not present in the workplace.
  • read the professional journals that are available at trade organization and business sites and/or the leading blogs in your field. Not only do these online publications enable you to avoid any gap in your current knowledge of your industry or field, but they also provide a way for you to expand your workplace visibility with a minimum of effort. By posting a message to the editor or blogger, you can strut your stuff even as you bake cookies for the school Halloween party or your parents’ coffee klatch.
  • It’s not easy to maintain your career momentum while you’re attending to family responsibilities at home. It’s critical to do so, however, as a gap in your resume can significantly limit the arc of your career. Thankfully, the Internet provides a way for you to sustain the momentum in your career by enabling you to be in two places at once.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

    P.S.S. Don’t forget to send us your new e-mail address if you move. Lots of people are changing jobs these days, and we want to be sure you still have the information in WEDDLE’s to help you perform at your peak. All you have to do to keep your WEDDLE’s newsletter coming is send your change of address to pwj@weddles.com.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Harvard Business Review published an artitle entitled Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time by Tony Schwartz. His hypothesis is interesting: instead of managing our time, which is a limited or finite resource, we should focus on managing our energy as it has much greater capacity and can be increased relatively easily. How? By practicing simple rituals that will make the expansion of one’s energy unconscious and as automatic as possible. For example, while we often don’t recognize them, our lives are governed by “Ultradian rhythms” which unfold in 90-to-120 minute cycles. Generally speaking, that means we reach our peak level of performance at any given task-whether it’s conducting interviews or sourcing online-after about 60 minutes so we should time ourselves to achieve an outcome at that point and then take a break to renew our energy within the next 30 minutes. If we organize our work that way, Schwartz argues, we’ll avoid finding ourselves running out of steam at the end of overly long sessions or quitting a task before we’ve achieved our optimum results. Can this approach actually improve performance? In a study of employees at Wachovia Bank, those who used such rhythmic schedules had 43% higher loan revenues and 50% higher deposit revenues than those in a control group which operated in a less structured way. I’m not sure all work can be organized into such monolithic chunks of time, but certainly getting into a rhythm in your daily tasks helps build the discipline and endurance necessary to perform them effectively. It’s the same principle I’ve used in developing my Career Fitness regimen-a schedule of daily, weekly and monthly activities to build up the health of your career. It will be available soon in my forthcoming book, The Career Fitness Self Fulfillment System: How to Work Strong in Your Personal Pursuit of Happiness.

    The Business 2.0 published an article entitled Flying Past Those Airport Nightmares. It offered a number of helpful hints for anyone who’s ever had to take a business trip by air. Among the suggestions:

  • If you have a delayed flight, don’t trust the airline to give you the straight skinny on when you’re likely to be leaving. Instead, get yourself a wireless card for your laptop and visit Flightaware.com. It tracks the locations of all planes so you’ll know exactly where yours is.
  • If you’ve lost bags, don’t call the airline’s main number. Instead, call its baggage department directly. Among the more “popular” numbers are: American-800.535.5225; Continental-800.3352247; Delta-800.325.8224; Northwest-800.745.9798; and United-800.221.6903.
  • If you find yourself on an oversold flight, you’re stuck. You can, however, protect yourself in advance by using BumpTracker.com, a site that identifies overbooked routes for each airline, the number of passengers bumped per flight, and the compensation the airline offers.
  • Mercer HR Consulting released its 2007/8 U.S. Compensation Planning Survey. It found that employers plan to offer the following levels of pay raises to their employees in 2007:

  • For their highest performers, a raise in base pay of 5.7%;
  • For their average performers, a raise in base pay of 3.5%; and
  • For their weakest performers, a raise in base pay of 1.7%.
  • What does that mean for someone making $50,000 per annum? Superstars will get a raise of $2850, mediocre workers will get a raise of $1750, and substandard workers will receive a raise of $850. In other words, “A” lever performers are going to get just $2000 more per year for their contribution than does a lousy employee and just $1100 more than the “C’ level performer. And employers wonder why their best and brightest are dissatisfied with their jobs. These pay policies aren’t recognition for top flite performance, they’re a misguided social service program dressed up as strategic HR management.

    WEDDLE’s publications are a smart way to give yourself a competitive advantage in the race for a new or better job. 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 occupational 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 recruiting resources and capabilities that are provided at the Web-sites of over 1,900 associations and societies.
  • WEDDLE’s WIZNotes: Finding a Job on the Web. Called the “CliffsNotes to career success on the Internet,” this short publication is jam packed with the secrets to effective job searching and career advancement online.
  • So, make sure you’re at the top of your game; get your WEDDLE’s books today. Click on the appropriate link to your left or call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    There are 40,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to recruiting top talent online, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the best sites for each of your requirements. 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 optimum yield for you. For example:

    NationJob Network

    http://www.nationjob.com

    Post full time jobs: Yes

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

    Distribution of jobs: International

    Number of jobs: 68,000+

    Salary levels of jobs: Hourly to $200K+/yr

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: None

    Other services for job seekers: Assessment instruments (outside vendor), Career information, Links to other sites with job search/career resources

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes

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