Career Tips

When it comes to Career, we've been there, done that, now serving 144 tips in 14 categories ranging from Career Planning to Resume Tips.

Choosing the Right Mentor for You

Choosing a mentor requires a good deal of thought. It is enticing to pick someone who is where you want to be monetarily; but that is one of the most common mistakes you could make when selecting a good mentor. While achieving a level of status is a consideration – everyone needs something to aspire to – it is not the only consideration. Here are some things you should think about when choosing a career mentor:

Industry

Choosing the right career mentor has everything to do with proper pairing. The first thing to think about is selecting someone who is doing what you want to do with your career. Choosing someone who is excelling in a different industry than the one you are in gives you someone to admire, but it doesn’t give you a mentor who can help you along because they have been exactly where you are.

Status

It is also important to pick someone who achieved the level you want to get to. This serves as a reminder that you can achieve your goals if you persevere. Picking someone that you are friends with but who is at the same level as you or below will not give you the impetus you need to push ahead.

Availability

The person you choose to be your mentor must be available to you. The goal for working with a mentor is not to have someone open all the doors and clear all the roadblocks for you. It is to have someone who understands your industry and can serve as your sounding board as well as your beacon. If the person you chose is not available because of distance (your mentor should be someone you can see often) or responsibilities, set your sights on someone who is more accessible.

There is so much that you can learn from a mentor and the relationship between the two of you can be a mutually fulfilling one. Be sure to choose someone with whom you can align your goals. In this way you can maximize the knowledge available in their experience and tutelage.

   

How to Know If You're Getting a Fair Salary

When you try to decide if a new job offer seems fair or if your existing job is paying you what you deserve, it can be tough to figure out what a fair salary for a specific job should be. Fair salaries depend upon the cost of living in your local area, required skills, the size of the employer, and the scarcity of local talent.

The right answer may be rather subjective. For example, your definition of a fair salary may be one that provides you with a large enough income for a comfortable lifestyle and the opportunity to save some money. On the other hand, you can certainly find plenty of objective salary surveys for salaries paid to similar professionals in your local area.

In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary statistics by occupation. If you can relocate, you can search for national averages. But you can also find information for regions of the country, states, and large cities. Some recruiting companies and job boards also publish competitive salary surveys from time to time.

You might get good answers by contacting local recruiters who specialize in placing people in your occupation. A successful employment recruiter is likely to have her finger on the pulse of your area, industry, and specific job.

However, even two very similar jobs might offer different salaries. For example, some computer programming jobs might require a couple different skills, while others may require dozens. The only real way to figure out a fair salary might be to put yourself on the market and compare competitive offers from different companies.

   

How To Deal With Annoying and Difficult Coworkers

It's inevitable. At some point during your professional life you will encounter at least one coworker who is difficult to work with or who just annoys you. The most important thing to remember when dealing with any co-worker who you don't see eye-to-eye with is to maintain your professionalism. Don't compromise your integrity or reputation because of someone else's actions. You've heard it before, you can't control how people behave, but you can control your reaction to their behavior.

Your reaction to a situation with a difficult coworker will always depend on the situation, for example, is their bad behavior:


  • A general annoyance, such as nosiness, rudeness or pushiness

  • Lacking in proper social or professional skills

  • Directed at you or another coworker

  • Potentially harmful, unethical, illegal, discriminatory or harassment

Most of the time if the irritant is one of the first two issues, you should be able to handle the problem on your own without involving other coworkers or your supervisor. Using one of these strategies should be enough to diffuse any potential conflicts:


  • Kill them with kindness - if they are grumpy or rude smile back and be friendly

  • Don't take things personally - even if it feels personal, it probably isn't

  • Take the high road - be the bigger person, don't stoop to their level or let them see if they have upset you.

If their behavior is either of the bottom bullet points, getting a superior will likely be necessary. There are some issues that you shouldn't attempt to handle on your own, particularly if they involve unethical or inappropriate behaviors including discrimination and harassment. In those cases, speak to a manager you feel comfortable with.

Remember - above all stay professional!

   

How to Avoid Burnout at Work

Statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics suggest a rise in the hours worked by the average American, and these extra hours could be one of the reasons so many workers are starting to experience workplace burnout.

Whether you work 70 hours a week at a law firm or 40 hours a week as a receptionist, the key to avoiding burnout at work is recognizing it before it happens and taking steps to change your life as soon as possible.

Recognizing Burnout is to Blame

If you've recently felt it more difficult to get out of bed each day, you could be on a track toward workplace burnout. Snapping at coworkers, loss of energy and sleeplessness could mean that the hours at your job are giving you a paycheck, but you're on a path toward health problems, stress, and exhaustion.

You might experience one of the following if you're burning out at work:


  • Unexplained headaches or muscle pain

  • Loss or change in appetite

  • General irritability

  • Overall disillusion with job and life

Handling Job Burnout

Don't wait until anger at work gets you fired or your job stress starts negatively impacting your home life. Take action quickly if you feel your life starting to get out of control.

Stress impacts each one of us differently, but you may find a solution from one of these options:

1. Identify your "stressors" and make changes

2. Rediscover your passions for work, life, and hobbies

3. Start an exercise program

4. Consider job or life changes

If you've already started to feel the harmful physical effects of job burnout, consider speaking with a medical professional to talk about an exercise plan, mental health assistance, or help in changing your lifestyle and job. Alternatively, speak with your boss about changes you might be able to make to reduce stress and anxiety over your job.

   

Why Should You Get a Career Mentor?

In some careers, one of the most valuable things you can do is work with a career mentor. A career mentor is someone who's been in your chosen field for awhile and can help you maneuver through new situations while you gain experience. Sometimes a company will appoint someone to be a mentor to a new employee or sometimes a new employee will simply build a rapport with a veteran employee and the mentor acts in an informal capacity.

There are several reasons why having a career mentor is helpful for new employees:

1. Mentors can introduce you to other co-workers, this is especially valuable if you are shy about talking to new people

2. Mentors can help you make sure you are doing everything the right way and can help stop you from making little mistakes

3. Mentors give you a point person that you can form a bond with and someone that you can go to whenever you have questions, suggestions, or advice.

   

How to Ask Someone to be Your Mentor

Figuring out how to ask someone to be your mentor is a lot like trying to ask someone out on a date, isn’t it? Your palms get sweaty, you are unsure of yourself, and you’re almost ready to abandon the whole effort without ever saying a word. It doesn’t have to be this nerve wracking. Here are some things to consider when asking someone to be your mentor:

All About Them

Starting the conversation with positives about them is a good way to get a potential mentor to listen to your plight. If you are serious about this person being your mentor, you will have done some research about them already. While you don’t want to rattle off a laundry list of trivia, showing the legwork you’ve put into the selection will go a long way to impressing your would-be guru. Their work experiences and accomplishments are a good starting place, but try to learn a little bit more about them. What are their motivations to do what they do? Where did they veer off track? How did they handle adversity? Having this type of knowledge in your back pocket can come in handy during the discussion.

All About You

Be sure to tell them why you are a good candidate for mentorship. Tell them about what you are doing now and where you see yourself in 5 years and then again in 10 years. Explain how your goals align with theirs, both past and present. This precise approach to presenting yourself as an opportunity rather than a charity case will not only bolster your feeling of self-worth but it will make your would-be mentor stand up and take notice.

Tell Them Why

‘You’re good. I’m good. It’s all good.’ But is it? Not yet. It’s not enough to tell them how great they are and how much you admire them. You have to show them why taking the time to mentor you is a good thing. A good mentor will spend hours of time with someone – hours they could be spending with their family or out golfing. Show them why they should spend that time with you instead. Partnership, tutelage, progression of goals: the works – show them how it benefits them and you at the same time.

Take a deep breath and go for it. You can do it. It just takes a little preparation.

   
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Mary White