Dealing with “The Gap”

While most of us will work until about our mid-60s, not all of us will work all the time until then: most of us probably will have a gap in our work history either due to illness (ours or a family member’s), raising children, being laid off/quitting outright, or even taking a sabbatical.

Known as “The Gap,” this “hole” in your work history often isn’t looked at kindly by employers. And you can’t just cross your fingers and toes and hope a hiring manager won’t notice it. Instead, you absolutely must have a good reason for it and, most importantly, be able to explain it in a professional manner. Even better: if you can couch the gap in way that is beneficial to an employer, all the better.

jobs in Long Beach

Here’s how to deal with “The Gap.”

  • Above all, tell the truth.

You may think saying you decided to take time away from working so that you could take care of your ill mother (which really is what you ended up doing) is far better than saying you were laid off, but it’s not: a hiring manager can simply contact your last employer to verify dates and it’s easy for her to find you were part of a reduction-in-force or even were fired.

Instead, tell the truth; you were laid off (and then decided to help your sick mother). Or you were fired for cause (and make sure you own up to your mistake). You took time off to raise children. You were ill. You decided to take a year off to travel the world. (Lucky duck!)

  • Talk about the skills you learned while gone/how you kept your skills up.

Many employers are nervous about work history gaps because they think you’ve gone stale or that you’re not up on the “latest and greatest.” So aim while you are not working to take a class or two (online works), work as a freelancer or take on some part-time work or temporary assignments and make sure your skills are current.

  • Explanations for different scenarios.

If you were fired, talk about your responsibility in your firing (it’s never all the unreasonable boss’s fault: we all have some culpability when fired). Reiterate how you’re a changed person and actually better for the lessons learned.

If you took that year-long trip around the world, discuss how it helped you be more compassionate to people different from you, you learned a new language, you started a part-time business online, etc. In other words, show how your travels provided you with new insights, lessons learned and even skills.

  • Repeating because it’s important: keep your skills up-to-date.

We understand how difficult this could be if your time away from work is because you or a family member is ill. But if you’re staying home to raise children for a few years, if you take some time off to try something new and/or travel, keeping those skills/knowledge base up to snuff shouldn’t be that difficult: classes abound online and off and temporary staffing services such as Helpmates can help you find part-time/temporary work while allowing you to keep your skills sharp (and even learn new ones).

Take a look at our current temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities and follow instructions on the job listing if one or more appeal to you.

Acing the Phone or Video Interview

Many companies conduct preliminary screening interview with a phone or video interview before asking candidates in for an in-person interview. Such calls are real interviews and should be treated as such. (You won’t get a chance to shine in person if you don’t “pass” the screening interview.)

In addition, because many jobs are done remotely today, a face-to-face interview may take place via video/Skype conferencing software.

Cerritos careers

So it’s vital that you understand how “real” these interviews are in a hiring manager’s or recruiter’s eyes. It’s also important that you feel comfortable interviewing over the phone or via a screen, so depending on your familiarity speaking on the phone and/or talking to people via video, we’re here to help you ace these types of job interviews. Take a look below at our tips.

  • Whether on the phone or via video, make sure you’re in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

Most in-person interviews take place in an office without interruptions. You need to find a place where you won’t be interrupted during the phone call/Skype session. (After all, you don’t want this to happen.)

If a recruiter calls and asks if you have a few minutes to talk, it’s OK to ask if you could set a time to talk later or ask to call back in a few minutes. Truly! You really should make sure you’re in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. (We know a woman who was on vacation with her daughter when called by a recruiter for a screening call. The woman asked if she could call back in a few minutes, drove to a park, asked her 10-year-old daughter to go play where she could see her for a few minutes and then called the interviewer back. She did well and was called in for an in-person interview and eventually was offered the position.)

  • Dress as you would for an in-person meeting.

Even if the interview is by phone only, it’s still wise to dress well, even in the same clothes you would wear for an in-person meeting. Doing so puts you in the right frame of mind: it’s a job interview and it needs to be taken seriously so serious clothes are called for!

Dressing job-interview appropriate is even more important in a video interview because, well, the interviewer will see your face, shoulders, possibly even your torso. You could dress as some newscasters do – in a jacket/shirt/tie/blouse and wear jeans because only your top half will be visible. But, seriously: dress for the part completely. You’re going to be “on,” and just as actors dress according to their roles, you should dress correctly for this important role: that of job candidate.

  • Additional pointers.

In many ways, a phone or video interview is much like an in-person interview: the rules still apply.

  1. Be on time.
  2. Make sure you know the exact number to call, or if the interviewer will call you.
  3. Be ready for some introductory chit-chat.
  4. Speak clearly. This is even more important via phone/video. You also want to be sure to smile. The interviewer may not see your smile on the phone, but your tone of voice does change when smiling and it makes you come across as friendly.
  5. If on a Skype chat, make sure you look into the camera, not “into” your screen. (You may need to practice this with a friend.)
  6. Be careful of answering “Uh-huh.” “Hmm,” and so on. These may be fine in an-in-person setting where the interview can see you but they may be lost in a phone/video interview and, especially over the phone, may not be heard at all. In addition, if on a phone interview, remember that you and the interviewer can’t see each other and therefore can’t pick up on visual clues. So it’s even more important that you speak clearly and even ask if the interviewer understood what you meant.

If you’re thinking of how to best come across in a job interview, you’re probably looking for work. If so, check out Helpmates’ current job opportunities. If you find a few that interest you, follow the instructions on the job description and/or contact the office listing it.

Can I Wear a T-shirt to a Job Interview?

Our first thought when hearing this question is “Heck, no!’ But then we realized: the workplace is much more casual today than even five years ago. Many people wear t-shirts on the job, so it’s an understandable question: why couldn’t you wear one on a job interview?

Buena Park Job Interview

Well, today, you probably could, if you’re a woman and the shirt is made of a dressier weight fabric such as silk or a fine knit and you wear a work-appropriate jacket or blazer over it. Or if you’re applying for a job in a warehouse/distribution center. And then the t-shirt must be very clean and free of graphics.

We provide those ifs and caveats and suggested jackets to wear because it is important to dress well for a job interview. Why? Because dressing (more) professionally (than you normally do) shows that you take the entire process seriously. Work is a serious business: an employer is going to hire you to solve his company’s problems and he wants to know if you take that task seriously. Dressing professionally signals that you understand this.

That doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit and tie (if male) or a skirt suit (if a woman). It does mean you should dress well for an interview and that definition will vary depending on the company’s day-to-day dress code as well as the role for which you’re applying.

If you don’t know what the company’s dress code, it’s perfectly OK to ask the recruiter or hiring manager.  (You can do so when asked to come in for an interview: ask if the company’s dress code is professional, business casual or casual.)

Below are different interview outfits to wear for your interview depending on the dress code.

Men

Professional: A suit and tie. If you don’t have a suit, a pair of nice slacks and a blazer (such as khaki slacks and a navy blue blazer). Shirt should be collared and long sleeved. Shoes should be dress shoes.

Business casual: You don’t need to wear a suit, but you should wear nice slacks, a collared long-sleeve shirt and a blazer. Take a tie along and if you see men wearing ties, duck into the men’s room before your interview and put it on. Save the polo-like shirt for when you start working there. Shoes don’t need to be dress shoes, but they shouldn’t be sneakers and they should be clean and/or polished.

Casual: If you’re going to be working in an office, you really can’t go wrong with a blazer. You can wear a nice polo under the blazer with nice chinos/khakis. You can wear a short sleeve shirt, but long-sleeved is better. You can ditch the tie. No sneakers.

If you’re interviewing for a warehouse/distribution/labor position, chinos/khakis and a polo or collared short-sleeve shirt are appropriate. Work boots, so long as they are clean, are fine. Jeans, so long as they are absolutely clean and not faded, ripped, or excessively baggy/loose also are fine.

Women

Professional: a skirt- or pant suit is appropriate. No prints.  Darker colors (navy, black, grey) are best. Blouse should be solid or have small stripes. No florals. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Stud earrings are best; if you wear dangling earrings, they should be short. One bracelet at the most (if you wear a watch, skip the bracelet). Necklace should be single strand and not too long.

Pantyhose no longer are required but polished heels (no more than three inches high) or professional-style flats are fine. Keep perfume to a minimum (none is best).

Business casual: A more casual-style skirt- or pant suit is fine, as are slacks and a short-sleeved blouse, knit sweater (this is where you can wear that refined t-shirt) under a blazer or jacket. A simple dress also is appropriate and it’s a good idea to wear a jacket or cardigan sweater over it (jacket/blazer is best). The dress should be a solid print; slender stripes are OK but stay away from bold prints/florals. The dress should not be one you would wear to a party or for a night on the town. Keep the stilettos at home. No jeans.

No sneakers with the slacks. Keep jewelry and perfume to a minimum (none still is best).

Casual: khakis/chinos and a short-sleeved blouse/nice sweater/knit t-shirt is OK. If wearing a sleeveless sweater, wear a cardigan over it. A skirt and blouse is fine but it shouldn’t be a denim skirt/going out skirt and shouldn’t be too short.

If you’ll be working in a warehouse, etc. jeans are appropriate, so long as they are exceptionally clean, not faded, ripped or torn and not excessively baggy or tight. A polo-like is best; if wearing a t-shirt, stay away from graphic tees. It should be clean and not ripped. Clean work boots or clean sneakers are fine.

Are you looking for work in the Orange County/Los Angeles region? Helpmates needs you! We have many temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities waiting to be filled! Take a look at them and if you find a few that appeal to you, contact us or follow instructions on the job description.

When You Chose the Wrong Career

It happens: we spend four – or more! – years studying for a certain type of career or profession and then two or three years after working within it, we come to the conclusion that it’s simply the wrong career. For us.

If this is you, don’t panic.  Read below to find out when a career really is the wrong one for you.

Here’s a typical scenario: It’s Sunday afternoon and you start to dread going to work. As in, you contemplate somewhat seriously if the fifth “I’m not feeling well and won’t be coming in today” excuse in three months is going to cut it. (Hint: it won’t.) Once at work, you constantly count down the minutes until quitting time. Your family comments again and again that you look miserable.

Brea Careers

And you definitely are, but before you decide to open up that art gallery you’ve always wanted, understand that you may be miserable not because you’re in the wrong career, but because you’re working for and with the wrong people and/or in the wrong industry.

There’s a terrific saying that’s a cliché but still true: “People join companies but they leave managers.” Your colleagues and manager do make or break your day-to-day enjoyment of the job

If this turns out to be the case, then consider finding another job either in a different department or in a different company within the same industry. Or perhaps you enjoy the tasks of social media, just not in and for the insurance industry? Time to switch to an industry you think you’ll enjoy

But if:

  • You feel that working in this career means you have to compromise your values.
  • You conclude that this career/industry may be DOA in a few years. (Hello, artificial intelligence!)
  • You realize your basic personality simply isn’t cut out for this type of career: not all really personable people are great at sales, for example.
  • You decide that the career you chose for love just doesn’t pay the bills and you’ve crunched numbers and you’ve sadly discovered that the things that are most important to you in life are unaffordable within the career path you’ve chosen.

Then it may be time to change careers.

Still, be careful here. Perhaps a compromise can be made. As mentioned above, it may be more the industry in which you’re toiling and not the career itself. For example, perhaps you want to take your social media skills and help make a difference instead of help sell consumer goods or services. Then it may be a good idea to work for a non-profit.

Or if you’re a lawyer toiling in a law firm, look into working as a corporate lawyer.

If you’ve decided that yes indeed you need a change, before changing careers, consider looking into industries that can use your current skills. For example, in Southern California you could:

  • Take your administrative skills from a distribution center to a college campus, a marketing company, a financial services firm, etc.
  • Move from HR with a retailer to HR in a startup.
  • Change from accounting in a non-profit to within the entertainment industry.
  • And so on.

In fact, moving to a new industry within your career is a great way to ascertain if it’s just your co-workers or industry making you miserable, or if it really is the career. (And if you do discover that if you’ve truly chosen the wrong career, read our blog post on how to successfully change careers.)

If you’re looking to take your skills to a new industry, contact Los Angeles and Orange County’s premier staffing firm, Helpmates. Take a look at our direct-hire, temp-to-hire and temporary opportunities and then follow the instructions regarding applying when you find one or more that appeal to you.

Congratulations on Graduating! Now Get to Work!

Graduation was mere weeks ago. Congratulations on your accomplishments and – if you’ve found one – starting your new “real job.”

Your campus’ career center and/or family and friends may have given you lots of great advice and guidance when it came to finding that job, but how many of these folks told you what it’s really like to work in the “real world”? Not too many, probably, since your and their main focus was on finding a job.

But now it’s just a few days since you started – or will start. Here are two tips to help you thrive in today’s workplace.

Orange County entry-level jobs

  1. It’s called work for a reason.

Sure, you’ve no doubt heard that phrase before. And that’s because it’s true. You will have to show up on time, dressed appropriately, take 30- or 60-minute lunch break (and only 30 or 60 minutes), do just about everything your boss asks you to do (even if it’s not in your job description), get along with coworkers who may come from extremely different personalities and backgrounds/world views than you do, and deal with the public in some form. Plus you have to provide value to your employer: it’s not about your needs and career dreams, it’s about your employer’s goals. Remember that (and help your employer meet those goals) and your employer will help you meet yours.

Here’s an example of what not to do/attitude to take (and it’s a true story): A young woman fresh out of college had been in her new job about six months. She lived near the office and often went home for lunch.

One day she didn’t come back until 2:30 p.m., telling her boss she ended up taking a nap and overslept. Her boss said that was unacceptable behavior and she needed to be back “on time.” “Pay me more,” she said, “and I’ll be sure to be back on time.”

Needless to say, she was able to go home immediately to continue that nap.

  1. Try to learn as much as possible about the company’s goals and challenges.

Continuing on with the “help your employer meet his goals” strategy, understand that the best employees always want to know more about their employer’s company, long-term plans, etc. They are eager to learn new things (take your employer up on workshops, seminars, certification program offers, etc.) and they volunteer to work on projects and tasks not in their job description.

That said, here’s another caveat and another true story: Make sure you volunteer for more only if it doesn’t interfere with what you were hired to do. Don’t, in other words, be the young man who asked his boss if he could do XYZ in addition to his ABC duties. The boss said yes and the young man did the extra work well, but neglected the work for which he was hired, the work his boss needed done. His boss ended up firing him.

This is an exciting time for you: the workplace is a new world and you’re eager to make your mark within it. You will find roadblocks on your way and you may find yourself taking two steps back in order to move one step forward. That’s OK and par for the course. Learn from your mistakes. Never give up. Help others. Be of value. Ask for mentors. Take on challenges and risks. Never become complacent. Thrive!

If you’re looking for a job out of college or high school, contact the Helpmates office nearest you. You can also take a look at our current job and career opportunities. Welcome to the workplace and much good luck to you!

Job Search Strategies for Over-50 Job Seekers

It’s sad and, unfortunately, true: even in this hot, hot, hot candidates’ market, it can still take people 40- and 50-plus a long time to find work, especially if they’ve been laid off or out of the workforce for a few years going back to school,  raising a family or taking care of an ailing loved one.

It can feel as if employers have all the power. After all, they hold the job you want and age discrimination laws or no age discrimination laws, they decide which candidate they will choose for the job (and it could well be someone over 50, just not you).

over-50 jobs Los Angeles

So unless you decide to become self-employed, you’re going to need to come well prepared as you approach your job search. Here are six strategies to help you level the playing field more in your favor.

  1. Ditch the dates.

You don’t really need to put dates on your resume.  (For example: Assistant Director, XYZ Services, 1992-1997.) If you feel you must, go back and list employers no more than from 15 years ago.

  1. Create a functional resume.

Most people use a chronological resume, with their most recent jobs showcased at the beginning of the document. Instead, highlight your key accomplishments and skills at the top of the resume, then follow with an abbreviated list of prior jobs.

  1. Highlight accomplishments rather than responsibilities.

Employers hire people who can do the job. What have you accomplished that show you can do the job?

  • Promoted to branch manager within six months of being hired.
  • Cold called 100 businesses each week, in person (not by phone).
  • Closed $10 million in new accounts in three years. (This one should be prominent!)
  1. Highlight your technical skills.

Employers too often erroneously believe older workers may not be “up” on the latest technologies. Disabuse them of this early by listing up-to-minute technical skills in your cover letter and during the job interview.

  1. Be flexible.

Understand that you may not be able to get a job at the same pay/responsibility level if you’ve been out of work for a while and/or laid off. Let the employer know that you understand that the company isn’t there to fulfill your career aspirations; you’re there help the business succeed and you’re eager to get started and prove your worth in a position that may be at a lower responsibility level than what you’re used to. It’s more than fine to mention that once you have proven yourself, you would enjoy talking to the hiring manager about opportunities for advancement.

  1. Look for work at companies that say they hire people older than 50.

Some companies encourage older workers specifically to apply to work for them. SimplyHired.com, for example, allows companies to specify “people over 50.” Use that search term, plus the city you’re interested in and see what pops up. You also can try Workforce50.com.

Be aware, however: one woman “test drove” those sites and found that searching on them provided “no real advantage” than searching on sites such as LinkedIn and Monster.

Whether you’re just starting out in your career, you took some time off for a valid reason, you’ve been laid off, or you’re a seasoned professional, Helpmates can help you find work! We have dozens of temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities. Check them out and contact us today!

3 Ways New Grads Can Advance Their Job Search

Many new college – and even high school – graduates haven’t yet lined up “real” jobs and, if this is you, you may have started to panic, especially if several of your friends already have jobs lined up. (“Everyone is telling me it’s a great job market out there, so what’s wrong with me?”)

There’s nothing wrong. Your friends may have gotten lucky. In fact, chances are great that your friends with jobs landed them via their network. In other words, they knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who got them an “in.”

college  grad jobs Los Angeles

That “in” can be yours, too, but it’s going to take some work and, more importantly, you’re definitely going to have to move considerably out of your comfort zone. As in calling friends and even strangers, asking for informational interviews, approaching companies that don’t have job openings (simply because you want to work there), actually asking for a job (at the job interview), and more.

But, seriously: you can do this. Really. You can! Everyone who has a job had to feel nervous at some point in their search and some more than others. If they could do it, so can you! Believe it!

So, with that in mind, here are three ways new grads can advance their job search….and get a job quickly!

  1. Talk to people! And that includes picking up the phone and calling – or emailing – strangers!

As mentioned above, this is the meat of any job search, and most likely the part of a job hunt that makes most people really nervous. Really, really, really nervous. So nervous that they refuse to do it, and instead head to the job boards, fill out applications and hit send.

And then…. Crickets.

But here’s a secret: you’re young. You’re just starting out. People LOVE to help graduates just starting out! They really do. Why? For several reasons:

  • They remember how nervous they were and understand how you’re feeling.
  • It makes them feel good because they get to bestow their wisdom and experience on you. You’re looking up to them for advice and help and that strokes their ego. That’s not a bad thing: we all need validation and – whoo, boy! – does a young person listening intently to your advice validate you!
  • People just want to help.

So take advantage of this and reach out to friends and even strangers. We explain how below.

  1. Research the companies to which you want to apply before contacting.

We’ve talked a lot about the right way to job hunt before, so we’re not going to go into a ton of detail here. But picking up the phone or powering up the laptop/tablet/smartphone and sending an email (do not text at this stage!) is exceptionally effective when it comes to not only finding a job quickly, but finding a great job quickly!

So decide what type of work you want, look at the companies at which you’d like to work, and do some research to find the name of the person who can hire you in the department. Call or email that person. For example, if you want to work in marketing, that would be the director of marketing. If you’re looking for an entry-level position in finance, that would be the finance director, CFO or assistant director of finance. Don’t be afraid to contact people in the C-suite. They had to start at the bottom, too, and they very well may really admire your chutzpah. Remember: boldness leads to success in the job hunt!

  1. Revamp your LinkedIn profile.

Get a professional, business-like photo of yourself and use it on your profile. Study some websites that help you create a good profile (here’s one and here’s one specifically for new grads).

Once you revamp your profile, ask some business people you know to look it over. Check for typos and misspellings. And don’t be afraid to update it as you job hunt: you may find your search is going in a different direction than you had first thought and your profile should make sure it highlights your skills and background that best fit where you want to go.

Here’s a fella who trains people in how to use LinkedIn for sales. You’re selling yourself as an employee and his techniques definitely are applicable to the job search. He does have terrific free information.  Use his strategies to reach out to potential hiring managers on LinkedIn.

The smart thing to do is to look at looking for a job as if it’s your job. In other words, take some time off after graduation, but don’t take it easy: look for work!

Another great way for new grads to find terrific jobs is to sign up with a staffing firm such as Helpmates. Many of our assignments are direct-hire or temp-to-hire. Even temporary assignments often turn into full-time, regular work. Take a look at our current opportunities and good luck with your hunt!

How to Really Stand Out in a Sea of New Graduates

High schools and colleges soon will be holding Commencement exercise for the Class of 2018 and thousands upon thousands of graduating seniors will be looking for work.

If you will be one of them, here’s a question: with so many graduates flooding the market at the same time, how are you going to make sure you catch the attention of employers?

Here are some strategies you can try. Take a look below.

entry level jobs los angeles

  1. Don’t take some time off; look for work NOW.

If you don’t already have a job lined up, understand that this isn’t really your summer vacation: you’re an adult now and it’s time to do adult things, such as finding gainful employment.

Many high school and college seniors have jobs lined up already. If you don’t, you need to get your hustle on. Now! Because the longer you wait, the less attractive you become to an employer (“So you’ve been sitting on the beach all summer? Nice tan! Do anything productive? No? Not a lot of initiative on your part. Next!”)

  1. Start talking to people.

That’s right. Start finding people who can help you find work and go out there and let them know you’re looking! Yes, you can browse the job boards and apply there, but if all you do is hit send on applications, you’re not hustling: you’re sitting at the smartphone/tablet/computer and hitting send (it’s as if you’re playing a really boring video game).

  1. Don’t be afraid to approach the companies at which you want to work, even if they’re “not hiring” right now.

Yes, going to an employer or hiring manager and saying (basically) “Here I am. You should hire me for such and such because I have this skill and that skill and another skill.” Seriously: doing so shows drive and boldness.

Besides, you’re young. You’ll look assertive in a good way. (And if they reject you because of this? Believe us; you don’t want to work for a person/company that thinks being assertive is a bad thing!)

Actually, you don’t have to approach a hiring manager and ask for work. You could approach her and ask for information. As in “I’m interested in the XYZ industry as a career. I just graduated high school/college and I have these skills and this experience. Could I take 30 minutes of your time so that I can learn more about what people in your position look for in job candidates?

Hint: People with a few career years under their belt LOVE to help people just getting started. They do! Who doesn’t like to look smart and successful and give advice to ears eager to hear Every. Word. You. Say? Nobody, that’s who! So long as you’re polite and respectful of the person’s time, chances are great that she will be happy to talk to you.

(Another tip: make sure to approach people who actually could hire you; don’t go to the human resources department because the folks there screen applicants and they don’t actually make hiring decisions.)

Once your meeting is over, ask if there’s anyone the person recommends you should approach next. And while it won’t happen every time, the person may say there’s a job opening right now. NOW!!! And do you have a resume you could send her?

  1. Speaking of your resume, tweak it for EVERY job for which you apply.

“Ugh,” we can hear you saying. “EVERY job? That’s a lot of work!” That’s right, it is. But no two jobs are alike. They may have the same title and be in the same industry, but each hiring manager’s needs will be slightly different so you should change the resume for each job description, highlighting the things in your background (skills, education, experience) that speak to those needs (without lying about your skills, education, experience).

Your post-college/high school life lies before you. Go out there and get it!

Helpmates can help you. Take a look at our current job opportunities to see if one or more of our temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire openings look interesting and, if so, apply as instructed. If you’d like to make an appointment for an interview, contact the Helpmates branch location nearest you.

Why Preparation is 80 Percent of Career Success

You’ve no doubt heard the saying that 80 percent of your accomplishments comes from 20 percent of your efforts. This is known as the Pareto Principle (which actually states that 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes).

(You also may have noticed that 20 percent of your colleagues do 80 percent of the work, but that’s a topic for another blog post. Career tip: you want to be among that 20 percent!)

Yet when it comes to career success, it’s a bit flip-flopped: Your success is due to about 80 percent preparation and 20 percent work.

Let us explain:

Los Angeles Jobs

Let’s say you want to paint a room. You see yourself taking a paint roller to a large wall. But what comes before you grab a roller? Prep work! As in cleaning the wall (if necessary). Maybe even sanding it. Certainly putting painters’ tape along the edges to protect the trim and/or carpet. And don’t forget to place drop cloths on the floor, move the furniture away from the wall, and take off pictures, mirrors and light fixtures.

That’s a lot of work! And you haven’t even started putting paint on the walls yet!

But if you don’t prepare well you’ll discover paint drops on the carpet/floor, furniture, on the wall where you don’t want it, and so on. Your paint job will be something of a failure. All because you rushed into it and just wanted to “get ‘er done!”

Career success is the same: Rush around slapdash, trying this and that without doing the prep work and it’s a sure path to…mediocrity

Let’s say you need to give a presentation. It’s in front of your colleagues and supervisor. People you know well. So you don’t prepare and decide to wing it.

You didn’t practice, so you get nervous and mumble. A colleague asks a question and you give the answer you thought was correct only to have someone else correct you.

How impressed is your boss going to be? Do you think she’s going to ask you to lead an initiative any time soon? Will she trust that you know what you’re doing when you suggest a certain tactic?

You know the answer. And all could have been avoided if you took the time – yes, the tedious, two-afternoons-consuming time-in-addition-to-ALL-the-OTHER-things-you-need-to-do – to prepare for your presentation.

In other words, a successful project or task often results from work you do before tackling the task. Work that’s often a LOT of preparation, and it’s often 80 percent of all the time you’re going to spend on the task. Actually doing the task itself takes about 20 percent of your time.

So keep this in mind: 80 percent of any success you’ll have in your career will be taken up with preparation work. Often not “fun” work either. The “glory” and the fun makes up just 20 percent.

Ready for a new opportunity in the Los Angeles/Orange County region? Helpmates is hiring! Then check out our job board and see if one or more positions listed there appeals to you.

How to Keep Learning When You Have No Time for an Education

Your life is….busy! Really busy: you work 40-plus hours a week, you have a spouse who also works full-time, you have two school-aged children (or maybe their teens and so you want to keep a close eye on them). You want to eat right and exercise. You’d like some semblance of a social life.

Irvine careers

And yet you read all the time about how absolutely critical lifelong learning is to success in a career today. Snooze – as in don’t keep learning new skills – and you’ll lose, big time.

But, then again, you are BUSY! Where will you find the time?

Here are some ideas (and they don’t involve “watch less TV/Hulu dramas and just see your calendar open up!”).

  1. In fact, fire up the laptop and get thee to YouTube!

With 300 hours of video loaded up to YouTube every hour, you’re sure to find videos that will help you learn “good stuff” applicable for your career. From learning Excel to learning quantum physics, there’s a YouTube video on it. Yes, there will be no certification awarded, but then there are not tests, either.

  1. Get your training during work hours.

Hello, work-related conferences, seminars and training sessions! Many employers send employees to seminars and conferences. Others bring trainers to the work site. You can even watch a training video during specified hours at work. (No need to worry about watching a video on your own time at all!) And, because it’s employer-sponsored, these types of continuous learning opportunities often take place during your regular working hours.

In other words, sign up for any and all educational conferences and seminars your employer will allow!

  1. Take a course while driving to work or working out at the gym.

Purchase audio books and/or audio courses. Don’t forget podcasts and even such spots as Apple Music. You’ll be amazed at the things you can learn in this way

  1. Take an online course.

Many colleges offer academic credits/certification for courses taken online. Yes, you’ll probably have to dig and “find the time” out of your already full schedule to do so. But you can do so while at home.  Meaning your kids probably will be there so you can keep an eye on them, you won’t have to drive to campus and then home after (saving time) and you could potentially do them on weekends (again, being at home with your family).

You also can sign up for online classes at such websites as Udemy.com. (All Udemy courses provide a certificate of completion once you successfully finish a course.)

Now is a terrific time to look for a new career opportunity with Helpmates. Our clients are hungry for great people for their temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities. Check out our current job openings and if one or more piques your interest, follow the instructions to apply!

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