When Someone Takes Credit for Your Work

It happens much more than we’d like – we do all the work and someone else, usually a boss or colleague with more seniority or the person who ends up making the presentation – gets all the credit. Here’s what to do when someone takes all the credit for your great idea.

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When it’s a Supervisor

In seeking appropriate credit for your idea or work, you need to tread carefully. First of all, collaboration and teamwork are highly valued in business today, and someone who is intent on claiming credit may run the risk of not appearing to be a team player.

It is best to choose your battles wisely. Sometimes, for example, it is better for a supervisor to take over an idea in order to give it more exposure in the company and push it to company leadership. Focus on instances where your contribution was clearly pivotal to a project and important enough to possibly impact your career progression, where recognition is clearly warranted.

If your manager has been taking credit when he should not, it’s best to start documenting everything when working with him so that there is a record of your work and contribution.

After meeting with the supervisor, send a follow up email summarizing your conversation and make reference to your idea or work in the message by saying that you appreciate the opportunity to put your idea into action or, for example, take the lead on the project.

If you feel that a more direct approach is needed, here again, tact is called for. Making accusations is simply counterproductive. You need to show how giving credit benefits the team, your supervisor and the business. For example, one good business reason for giving credit is that it enhances morale, employee engagement and productivity.

But if you have a supervisor who is constantly touting your ideas as his own and refuses to give you credit for your work, the best course of action may be to look for another job. You need to ask yourself, is this really the kind of person you want to work for?

Good managers do the exact opposite because they know how important it is to employee morale. They are more than happy to offer praise and recognition to workers who have made important contributions.

When a Coworker Steals Your Rightful Thunder

You’re on a more or less level playing field here and so can assert your rights more actively. If you are working with a person who steals credit, again make sure to keep a record of who contributed what in a project. Don’t share ideas with the person when you are alone with him.

You also can set some conditions when working with him. For example, you can say you will only work on the project with him if you present it.

If the coworker steals credit constantly and deliberately, take the problem to your supervisor. Frame the issue as a teamwork problem — explain how his or her actions are affecting the working relationships among team members and needlessly causing friction.

How Important Receiving Credit When Credit – to You – is Due?

Again: maintain perspective and remember why you seek credit – to advance your career. But you may be working at a company where who gets credit isn’t an issue: whether you get credit or not has no impact on your career progression or promotion at the company. In a case like this, it may not even be worth worrying about.

Give Credit to Colleagues

If you expect to receive credit for your work, you should be willing to set an example and give credit to others when they deserve it. If you make a practice of recognizing others, they are less likely to harbor negative feelings toward you when you seek credit for yourself.

Helpmates has many job opportunities for Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Take a look at our current openings and if one or more look interesting to you, follow application instructions or contact the branch office nearest you.

 

When You’re Really Asked to Do the Job to Get the Job

It’s fairly common these days for companies to ask job candidates to perform some task or do some assignment to showcase their skills. This is a perfectly reasonable request. In fact, it is a good idea for employers to ask for evidence of a candidate’s work to really see what he or she can do. It helps the employer make better decisions on whom to hire.

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Such tryouts give a more complete picture of a job candidate’s abilities, which might not be evident from just an interview. Conversely, there are people who interview well, but may not have the skillset that is required.

But when it comes to tryouts, there is a troubling trend that has been developing. Instead of some concise task or brief assignment, companies are increasingly asking job candidates to undertake lengthy and more complicated assignments, ones that demand a good deal of time and effort.

Important note: We have talked in the past about “doing the job to get the job” as a way of standing out among a sea of similar candidates. But when we recommend you do it, it’s voluntary, something you do on your own initiative.

Or, if you are asked to create a specific type of document or complete a short project, we recommend that you take it upon yourself to do more than is asked of you: write three social media plans rather than one; create two newsletter templates than just two.

How can you tell when you’re basically being asked to work for free? Some examples:

For example, an event planner was asked by a company to submit not one but three proposals for events that covered every aspect of the affair, including things like budgets, marketing, staffing and design. The company expected candidates to finish this assignment within seven days.

Another job candidate was asked to produce a 30-minute learning video, with voice over, discussion, graphics, and other features, a job that would normally take about 30 hours of work and cost several thousand dollars.

Assignments like these are asking for much more than is needed to judiciously evaluate a job candidate’s skills.

Candidates may sometimes be uncertain whether a particular job tryout is going over the line. If you are unsure, consider the time and effort you need to put into a project. A guideline some career counselors recommend is that if an assignment takes more than three hours, the job candidate should be paid for it.

The purpose of a short assignment is to assess how you think, your analytical ability and creativity. Longer assignments are generally tasks someone is hired to do because of their expertise, in other words, more what an employee does.

Remember: There is no legal way for an employer to ask you to work without paying you. Any employer that does so is breaking the law.

What You Can Do

If you are a job candidate and encounter a tryout request that seems unreasonable, what recourse do you have? One option is to walk away. And this is something to consider because an employer who would make an unreasonable tryout request may have unreasonable expectations for the job itself.

If, however, you cannot afford to take yourself out of consideration, you can also try negotiating with the employer. One way of doing this is to suggest a more streamlined version of the assignment, one that is no more than an hour or two. Or you could simply offer to provide a portfolio of your work.

Possibly the Worst of the Worst: Manipulators

While some employers are simply inconsiderate – or ill-informed as to the law – in expecting job candidates to complete long and involved assignments, others have a more underhanded motive: getting something for nothing. They have no intention of using the work to gauge a person’s qualifications, but rather to get a service for free.

There are a few telltale signs that you may be the victim of this type of manipulation. One is receiving an assignment several days after an initial interview without any prior notice or follow up plans. Another is being asked to put together a detailed strategy or redesign, or to write a full article or presentation. If the company is genuinely interested in your qualifications, the assignment will usually involve some hypothetical situation.

We understand why you may be afraid to say no to a potential employer, but do be careful. As mentioned above, any employer who requires you to do hours of work without compensation more than likely really is not a good employer. Run away. Fast!

If you need to find work quickly, consider registering here with us at Helpmates. You can work on temporary assignments with us while you look for other work. What’s more, many temporary assignments do turn into more permanent work.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you, or take a look at our current opportunities and if any appeal to you, follow the instructions for applying.

Getting Your Job-Search Mojo Back

Looking for work is hard and it certainly isn’t a night out on the town with your friends. It’s hard and a slog whether you’re looking while employed or whether you’re unemployed, making it quite easy to lose your “passion” for the endeavor.

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But persist you must, especially if you’re currently out of work. Here’s how to get that job-hunt mojo back!

  • Talk yourself up to others and…to yourself!

If you want to hear no all the time, look for work, right? So many “no thank you’s” pile up. And pile up. Again and again and again. It’s no wonder you start doubting yourself. And if you’re looking for work because you’ve been laid off or even fired, the negative talk to yourself can build exponentially with each negative response.

Here’s the good and bad news: we are what we believe we are. As in, how we talk to ourselves truly matters. Talk trash about yourself, you’ll feel like trash. Instead, take inventory of your better qualities (and no matter who you are, you have great qualities) and make sure you communicate these to people with whom you network and in resumes/covers letters and during job interviews.

  • Show employers how these qualities – as well as your skills and experience – benefit them.

Sure, you may be great at “reading people,” but that doesn’t say anything about how that helps an employer. For example, does “reading people” mean you’ve discovered you’re great at sales? If so, give concrete examples of how you’ve overcome some pretty solid objections and landed a big sale.

Remember: whenever you’re looking for work you need to understand and be able to articulate how your qualities and skills solve an employer’s problems.

  • To-do lists and set schedules are your friends.

The more you look for work, the faster you’ll find employment. After all, the more people with whom you connect and then ask them others with whom you might want to talk, the more informational interviews you’ll receive. The more informational interviews you receive, the more real job interviews you’ll land. The more interviews you go on, the more job offers you’ll receive. And then – oh, then! – you well may find that you have the “problem” of choosing between two or even three great job offers.

But you don’t connect with people by merely scrolling the job boards. Even applying for jobs on job boards won’t do you much good: 85 percent or more of all jobs are found via networking. And unless you have daily job-search goals/to-do list, and unless you actually adhere to your to-do list, your job search won’t move nearly as fast as it could.

So keep the positive talk going,  set a work schedule for your “job” of looking for work, and make sure you connect with real people in real life (or at least via email and phone) and you’ll start seeing results.

Make sure you bring your skills, education and positive self-talk to Helpmates by contacting the branch office nearest you and setting up an interview with one of our recruiters. And/or: take a look at our current job openings. If one or more look interesting, follow the description’s application instructions.

Southern California’s Job Outlook for 2019

So here it is, mid-January. Talent still is hard to find around the country. Candidates are ghosting when it comes to job interviews and even employees are just leaving their employer without notice.

But that’s nationwide. What’s this year’s job outlook for Southern California? We put on our sleuthing hats to find out.

  1. More of the same: an absolute candidate market (at least through the 2nd Q 2019).

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No surprise there. According to the California EDD (scroll down to the link at “Short-Term Projections: Two-Years” and download the spreadsheet), employment in Orange County from 2nd Quarter 2017 to 2nd Quarter 2019 is projected to grow overall by 3.4 percent (interestingly, self-employment is projected to grow by 4.2 percent). Not every employment sector is going to grow (mining and oil/gas extraction, for example, is projected to fall by 8.5 percent overall), but most are growing.  Manufacturing is to grow 1.8 percent; while software publishers are to grow a whopping 13 percent; auto equipment sales and leasing by 6 percent; professional and business services by 3 percent; advertising, PR and marketing by 3.4 percent; professional, scientific and technical services by 4 percent; office administrative services by 6.7 percent; and so on.

(Take a look at the document; it’s fascinating. For example, if you’re looking for work in the “travel arrangement and reservation services,” growth is expected to be 5.6 percent. And this, remember, is in a day when many of us make our own travel arrangements online. So much for the “death of the travel agent”!)

  1. But that’s statewide. And it’s for mid-2017 through mid-2019. What about in Southern California and in just 2019?

We hear you. It’s a bit trickier to find info/predictions for just Orange and Los Angeles counties, but here’s what we found: we may experience an economic slowdown in late 2019.

If you don’t want to read the link, here’s what it says in a nutshell:

Although the economy is currently operating at full employment and benefiting from the massive tax cut and spending increases, the economic stimulus coming from that combination will likely run out in 2020, and deficits it creates will linger for another decade.

In spite of concerns about the risk of a full-blown trade war with China, the forecast for the U.S. economy is one of growth, albeit slower growth. California remains one of the most prosperous states, with a strong market that is expected to continue to grow.

You’ll notice it says the big growth ends in 2020, but further down the report states the growth “will slow to 2 percent in 2019 and to a near recession at 1 percent in 2020.”

As for California: the state’s growth will slow along with the nation’s but our economy is still expected to grow faster than the country’s as a whole. Here’s the skinny, below:

The total employment growth forecasts for 2018, 2019 and 2020 are 1.7 percent, 1.8 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. Payrolls are expected to grow by 1.7 percent in 2018, by 1.8 percent in 2019, and by 0.8 percent in 2020. Real personal income growth is forecast to be 2.5 percent, 3.6 percent and 2.9 percent in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. California’s average unemployment rate is expected to have its normal differential to the U.S. rate at 4.2 percent in 2020. Home building will accelerate to about 140,000 units per year by the end of the 2020 forecast.

  1. Most job growth is in the Inland Empire.

Sorry, OC and LA, but the job growth is greatest due east. Which could be great news if you live there and work west and wish to find a job closer to home. Pay rates are a bit lower, however. For example, Indeed.com reports that the average hourly rate for an administrative assistant in Anaheim is 16.21/hour while in Riverside, it’s $15.28. Yet housing also is less expensive, with the median gross rent in Riverside County hitting $1,212/month, while it’s $1,264 in Los Angeles County and $1,608 in Orange County. (Data is from 2017.)

  1. Wrapping up.

So things look great for job seekers for at least the next six months and possibly throughout the entire year. After all, slower growth still is growth. But don’t be complacent because often in business, slower growth often means….job cutbacks! And that means the unemployment rate will rise and jobs will be harder to come by.

 

So if you can:

  • Learn new skills.
  • Take note of your accomplishments and add them to your resume.
  • Work to add value to your employer (don’t just “show up for work,” do the minimum expected of you and then think that you’re “valuable”).
  • Grow your professional network.
  • Never, ever become complacent. If you’ve never been laid off from a job before, if you’re laid off next year or early in 2020, get ready for potential WEEKS of unemployment. It happens. And to talented, valuable workers. No one is immune.

That’s why it’s a good idea to have a Helpmates recruiter in your professional network. In fact, take a look at our current opportunities, and if one appeals to you, follow the directions to apply. You also can contact the branch office nearest you to register.

The Wisdom of Creating Your Own Brain Trust

CEOs have them. So do entrepreneurs. What they have is a small group of people – possibly five or so – that they go to when they need objective advice and strategy. This group is known as a brain trust and you should have one for your career.

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A brain trust is something akin to having mentors, but not quite. Mentors often work in the same field/profession as their mentee but have much more experience. Members of a brain trust, however, have experience in a different field/profession. The idea is that all of you receive input and knowledge from people at your level who know things you don’t. In other words, a marketing professional may want a brain trust that includes an attorney, an accountant, an HR professional, and so on. Having such a network allows all of you to tap into each other’s expertise and help each other out when needed.

Finding Your Brain Trust

As mentioned above, you don’t really want people in your field, but individuals who share the same type of vision for their careers in different fields.

Chances are good you already know several people who could become members: your neighbors, former school mates, former colleagues, current employees of your current employer but in another department, and so on.

Your brain trust can be quite informal: just ask if people want to join and if they’d be available quickly for their input when any of your trust’s members need input, advice, knowledge, a shoulder to learn on, etc.

It’s Best to Ask for Advice Instead of Favors

Brain trusts aren’t really “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Instead, your trust is a group of people you go to for knowledge and ideas, not for introductions and favors. Referrals eventually will come from your trusts’ members naturally, but it’s best to approach them by asking for input rather than asking them to do something for you.

If, by chance, you hear that one of your trust’s members is facing a problem but hasn’t reached out to you, it’s perfectly OK to reach out yourself. Don’t assume you know what your fellow trust member needs; just let him know you’re there, just in case

You Don’t Even Have to Create an Actual “Brain Trust”

Many people have people in their professional network that they often go to when they need advice/input. In fact, chances are good that you already may have a brain trust of sorts if you find that you have two or three people that you often call upon to “get their input.” And you may find that the same handful of people call upon you every now and then.

It’s wise to actually think about people you’d like to add to your trust (formally or informally) as you find people whom you automatically think of when you need some type of input.

The point is: always look outside your department/employer/profession “bubble” for people you can turn to when stuck, when you need input, or when you need a fresh take on an old problem. Doing so can help you progress in your career while also growing a network of people with a (more than likely informal) vested interest in your success.

If you’d like some new input regarding career possibilities, take a look at some of our current opportunities and either follow the instructions to apply when one or more pique your interest or contact the Helpmates branch nearest 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.”

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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.

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  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:

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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.

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