Of the many things the recession messed up — and I think we can all agree it really ruined a lot — plans were the biggest victim. Once the economy went kaput, your future suddenly became a little less certain. Could you afford to maintain your lifestyle? Was it the best time to switch jobs? Could you save enough for your upcoming wedding after pay cuts? The ramifications were endless.
In Sunday’s New York Times, writer Michael Luo touched on a phenomenon that is occurring throughout the country: overqualified workers who are satisfied just being employed. As Luo points out, many job postings give the basic requirements for candidates, but many applicants have experience and education that theoretically qualifies them for much higher positions. When these job seekers find themselves in these positions, they experience some insecurity but have some satisfaction that at least they’re working.
Academic research on the subject confirms that workers who perceive themselves as overqualified do, in fact, report lower job satisfaction and higher rates of turnover. But the studies also indicate that those workers tend to perform better. Moreover, there is evidence that many of the negatives that come with overqualified hires can be mitigated if they are given autonomy and made to feel valued and respected.
The new variable in all of this is the continuing grim economic climate. Many workers’ ambitions have evolved, after all, from climbing the ladder to simply holding on to a job, any job. Turnover would also seem to be less of a concern amid predictions that it could be years before unemployment returns to pre-recession levels.
As a result, Luo points out, many overqualified workers are struggling to accept their current situation without letting insecurity appear.
For his part, Mr. Carroll admitted that he had caught himself often trying to drop his credentials into conversations at his new workplace.
“Obviously that stems from maybe some embarrassment at the level that I’m at,” he said. “I do want people to know that, to some extent, this isn’t who I am.”
Have you found yourself in this situation in the last couple of years? How have you dealt with being overqualified? Some job seekers have said that “overqualified” is a useless term because all that matters is whether or not a person wants the job and is qualified for it. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts.
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Construction codes are based on the probability of earthquakes striking a region. That means Seattle’s buildings, for example, are designed for roughly half of the earthquake loads of buildings in San Francisco or Los Angeles.
This week’s winning question about co-workers comes from TJ. She or he submitted the following question to our Talk to the Work Buzz! Contest.
What is the best way to decline a co-worker’s social networking request?
The awkward thanks-but-no-thanks answer to any request in the professional world is always peculiar. Do you really want to order magazines from your supervisor’s son? No, probably not. You can either get stuck forking over the cash and receiving a year’s worth of String Cheese Monthly, or you could just politely decline the request (while fearing that you’ll become the most hated employee in the company).
Social media (think LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) has added another element to the situation. Unless you’ve set your privacy settings so that you’re invisible to certain users, colleagues can log on to a site and look for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re cubicle buddies who are also best friends or professional enemies who only glare at each other menacingly during conferences, they can find you. Sometimes they can be people you don’t know that well, but you know enough to be certain you don’t want to know more.
Thanks to these sites, one evening you’re unwinding after a long day. You’ve got American Idol on the DVR and a pizza on the way, and then you see the dreaded notification: So-and-so has request to add you as a friend. You want to say no, but can you? How do you turn them down without being rude? You have a few options, and we’ll work our way from the least awkward to the most:
1. Accept the request and live with the consequences.
Once you let someone see your posts, which can range from innocuous to funny to personal to offensive, you’ve opened yourself up to a new relationship with them. Even if your in-person relationship stays the same, they have access to information that helps them form an opinion of you. Plus, they can forward anything they see to other people in the company. Or you could end up best friends. Just remember the pros and cons.
2. Accept the request but let restrict what they can and cannot see.
It’s only awkward if they realize you’re restricting what they can see. Although they might be curious as to what’s being hidden, they probably won’t say anything and you’ll feel more comfortable only showing what you want.
3. Ignore the request indefinitely and just hope the issue disappears.
In the professional world, pretending like nothing awkward is happening is not that uncommon. Therefore this move might not be such a bad deal. But if you’re changing your profile picture or adding mutual friends, they’ll start to notice you’re obviously an active user who’s ignoring them.
4. Reject the request and don’t say anything.
This scenario gives you the relief of not friending them, but it makes you feel uncomfortable around them. If you’re going to be bold enough not to accept their request, you’re probably better off going with option No. 5.
5. Reject the request and explain why.
If you’re going to say no to a professional friend request from someone whom you work with regularly, explain why. Say, “I prefer to keep that profile separate from any work stuff just to be safe. I don’t want anyone seeing the embarrassing high school pictures. I was so goofy!” (You could be more concerned that they’ll see your beer pong championship pictures, but feel free to keep that private.) It will convey the message that you don’t mix your professional and social lives, and that should be it. An easy way to put this plan into practice is to have different profiles for different reasons. Used BrightFuse for professional networking and keep Facebook and Twitter for fun stuff.
Of course, the last option can cause trouble if you’re not honest. Perhaps you don’t want to be friends with that particular person, but you are online friends with several other people at the company. That’s your option and you have every right to do it, but remember that people talk and it won’t necessarily be a secret for long. Omar in HR will tell Lydia in accounts payable how funny your latest status update is and she will tell your friend requestor, who will then realize you lied to him or her.
As with so many things, honest is the best policy. Don’t get caught in a lie or the situation will just get worse. As a professional, remember the following:
- Your information can be passed around once it’s online, so think twice before you post a picture of yourself passed out in the lawn of a Dave Matthews Band concert.
- Restrict your pubic profile and searchability if you know you don’t want certain groups finding you (and putting you in this awkward situation).
- Once you accept one workplace friend request, you open yourself up to many more.
If, despite your best efforts, you still find yourself in an uncomfortable friend request situation, don’t feel pressured to cave in. Don’t do anything that will make you uncomfortable because the fun of social networking and of work will disappear quickly. Few people will hold a grudge about a Facebook rejection (if it comes with a good explanation). But careers can and have been ruined by the wrong people seeing the wrong information.
Thanks for the question, TJ, and enjoy your copy of “Career Building.”
Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Let us know how you dealt with it!
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We like to think you come to The Work Buzz because you love our personalities and feel that a day without us is like a day without sunshine. However, we’re very aware that, in addition to advice on job-seeking and workplace issues and discussions on current events, many of you are also looking for jobs. Simply put, you want to know who’s looking for hard workers.
Well, to point you in the right direction, here are 18 companies who are hiring companies in March. Seriously, this very minute they are hiring new employees. Follow the links to view their available positions.
ADT Security Services (TYCO)
Sample job titles: Commercial, small business and residential sales, customer care associates, installation and service technicians
All About Staffing*
Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Registered nurses (critical care, ER, OR, L&D, telemetry, medical, surgery, NICU), directors, managers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, speech language pathologists
Location: Nationwide (including Florida, Texas, Nevada, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee)
Industry: Financial Services
Sample job titles: Call center collection positions, roles in Finance, IT, mid- and upper-management
American Family Insurance
Sample job titles: Insurance agent, agent in training, agency sales support, marketing specialist, customer service representative, claims, actuarial and customer care centers
Location: Various states (currently operating in 19 states)
Century 21 Real Estate LLC
Industry: Real estate and sales
Sample job titles: Real estate agents
Hooper Holmes, Inc.
Industry: Health care services
Sample job titles: Phlebotomists, business analysts director of marketing, production scheduler, executive assistant, technical support specialist
Location: Nationwide (including New Jersey)
Industry: Energy, environment and human services consulting
Sample job titles: IT PMO deputy program manager, meeting planner – juvenile justice, senior computer systems analyst – child welfare, java developer, associate – energy efficiency HVAC systems, research assistant – fuels and technology, research associate/malaria analyst, senior conservation biologist/planner
Location: Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., California
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
Sample job titles: Financial advisor, impaired loan accounting, mortgage loan officer, relationship manager
Providence Health & Services – California Region
Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, pharmacist, respiratory therapist
Industry: Online marketing
Sample job titles: Web developer, sales, customer service, accounting, recruiters, online marketing, management
Location: Nationwide (including North Carolina, Florida, and Texas)
Industry: Human services
Sample job titles: Direct care, LPNs, RNs
Sample job titles: Store managers, operations supervisors, production supervisors, sales clerks, cashiers, on-site donation attendants, production team members
Securus Technologies, Inc.
Sample job titles: Customer service, work force managers, call center supervisors, sales, territory managers, account managers, marketing
Location: Nationwide (including Texas)
Superior Technical Resources*
Sample job titles: Senior spacecraft systems engineer, senior mechanical engineers, senior software engineers, senior avionics software developers, global controller, director of global treasury, environmental health and safety manager, data model consultant
Location: Virginia, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, California, New York, Texas, Ohio
Time Warner Cable
Sample job titles: Account executive, customer service representative, installation technician, engineer
Industry: Consumer products
Sample job titles: Supply chain, finance, manufacturing, research and development, marketing, customer development
Location: Nationwide (including New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri)
Valvoline Instant Oil Change
Industry: Automotive service retail
Sample job titles: Customer service advisors
Industry: Pharmaceutical, sales
Sample job titles: Pharmaceutical sales representatives
*Staffing and recruiting employers find workers on behalf of companies and organizations across various industries.
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In his enthusiasm over the passing of the health-care bill, Vice President Biden made a gaffe in front of millions of ears that almost overshadowed President Obama’s signing of the landmark legislation.
While bloggers, late night talk-show hosts and t-shirt makers are making a “big f—ing deal” over the f-bomb heard round the world (that probably isn’t all that of a big deal really), there is a lesson to be learned.
What happens when you make a verbal blunder at work? Can you recover? Should you apologize? Should you even acknowledge it? It all depends on what you say, who you say it to, and who overhears it, says Joseph Grenny, coauthor of “Crucial Conversations.”
“It doesn’t just happen to news correspondents or politicians,” Grenny says. “Verbal blunders happen to all of us; and if they happen at work, these social gaffes can be even more damaging.”
Grenny gives us three quick face-saving strategies for recovering from verbal work gaffes:
- The blunder: You said something harsh about a boss or co-worker that should not have been overheard, but was. What’s required: Own up to your loose tongue. A clear, unvarnished, unrestrained apology is all you can do. The bandage needs to be as large as the wound — if you made fun of the boss’s wife, a simple “I’m sorry” won’t cut it. They’ll need to hear an apology as intense as their disgust for you at the moment.
- The blunder: You said something that was right, but it came across wrong in a meeting. What’s required: The apology here is more complex but must still match the fervor of the upset. You have three tasks: 1) Acknowledge that the message people heard from you sounded as offensive as they’ve taken it. And don’t move to step two until they’re satisfied. 2) Say what you really think on the topic in the way you should have said it. 3) Repeat step one.
- The blunder: You said something you believe, but that you shouldn’t have said in your position. What’s required: In this instance you need to do the same as you did in the first situation – you must apologize. If you stated an opinion that is not the opinion of your company and brought shame to them as a result, then you must apologize as though you don’t believe what you said. This could sound disingenuous, but it’s not. It isn’t “you” that’s apologizing, it’s your position. So your apology is righting the real wrong — your irresponsible lapse of judgment in realizing you don’t get to represent your company in any way you see fit.
Tell us: Have you ever “pulled a Biden” at work? How did you recover or were you not able to?
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The people we work with are so many things to us. Heck, even our question of the week invites you to ask us your questions about co-workers! And just on this blog alone we’ve learned the following about colleagues:
- They keep us from feeling alienated.
- They gamble with us.
- They make for good dates (sometimes).
- They are odd birds.
They are also—how should we put it?—aromatic. While we appreciate the fact that these colleagues want to add a pleasant fragrance to the air, we don’t like that they do it with several ounces of cologne and perfume each day. They are proof that too much of a good thing is possible. On a recent Early Show, Bianca Solorzano covered a story about Susan McBride, a Detroit city employee who claimed a co-worker’s perfume and room deodorizer caused her to suffer from migraines and nausea. She sued the city, citing her inability to work properly under the pungent conditions.
McBride won a $100,000 settlement. Detroit city employees in the three buildings where McBride works are now being warned not to wear scented products, including colognes, aftershave, perfumes, and deodorants, or even use candles and air fresheners.
Last week, a co-worker and I were in a cab where the driver’s cologne was stifling. A few minutes later we were in an elevator and another passenger’s cologne was causing our eyes to tear. We couldn’t wait to get into the fresh air of the outdoors, where good, old-fashioned smog filled our lungs. Although I didn’t feel quite as traumatized by the incident as McBride did, I can understand her point. If I were forced to drown in someone’s perfume eight hours a day for five days a week, with no end in sight, I can imagine my productivity would suffer. And, as attorney Joelle Sharman points out:
A person doesn’t necessarily have a right to wear perfume, but the person does have a right to be able to breathe in the workplace. So if an employee comes into work and says to his or her boss, ‘I can’t breathe, this perfume is triggering a condition that is affecting my ability to breathe in the workplace,’ and reports to his or her boss, the boss has to reasonably accommodate that person.
You can read the whole story and see the accompanying video on the Early Show site to get the whole story.
Although I’ve never worked with such a colleague on a regular basis, I’ve had more friends, family members and readers mention the issue of overbearing fragrances than perhaps any other issue. (Much to my surprise I might add…maybe they’re giving me a hint.) Apparently this issue is much bigger than I realized.
So I ask you, is this an issue you’ve dealt with? How did you handle it? Do you side with McBride or with the room-deodorizing co-worker? Let us know.
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For the previous two weeks, we’ve asked you to send us questions as part of the Talk to the Work Buzz! Contest. The first week you asked us questions about interviews. Last week you asked us about accepting an offer. We answered the questions and each of those winners received a copy of Career Building, from the editors of CareerBuilder.com.
This week we want you to ask us about co-workers. Dealing with the good, bad, strange or just downright confusing. Any question you have that relates to co-workers is fair game. We’ll pick the best question and answer it on Friday, and that winner will get their copy of Career Building!
As always, here are the rules and regulations in case you have any questions.
You have until Wednesday night, 11.59 p.m. CST to submit your question to this post. Just leave it in the comments section. Make sure you use a valid e-mail address so we can contact you if you win. Your e-mail address will NOT be published for anyone to see, so don’t worry.
So go ahead and ask us about co-workers!
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On Monday we asked you to submit your questions about accepting a job offer, and from the excellent questions we received, we chose Claire’s. She asks, “How do you ask if that’s the most that they will offer without offending them or sounding greedy?”
Salary talks are always one of the trickiest components of a job offer because the employer generally has the upper hand. By the time you get to salary negotiations, which might not occur until the second, third or fourth interview, you’ve probably divulged quite a bit of information. You have already been asked to give your salary history, your current income and your salary expectations. You don’t know what the company’s budget is, what they are willing to pay and what the previous employee’s salary was.
Conventional wisdom says that you don’t bring up salary, the employer does, and it’s good advice to take. The reason is that you don’t want to suggest you’re so focused on the paycheck that the actual requirements of the job are of no interest to you. Plus, when a company knows that their salary offerings are low, they often bring it up early in the interview process because they don’t want to waste your time or theirs. It’s not a guarantee, but it happens more than you realize.
As Claire asks, what do you do when a number has been put out there and you can live with it, but you’d like to know if there is more room for negotiation? The simplest way to push for more money without forcing them to renege on the offer is to stress the positions responsibilities and make the case for more money. Don’t just say, “Eh, I want more money for my vacation in the spring.” Instead, remind them of the duties they described and the expertise you have. Try this approach, but put it in your own words: “Having worked on agency campaigns for the past five years, I know that this client will require plenty of nights and some weekends, and I’d feel more comfortable if my compensation were in [this range].” That approach opens up a dialog rather than a list of demands. Plus, you can explain that your previous job offered you some perks, benefits and bonuses that actually made your salary significantly higher than the base pay. You won’t come off greedy, but rather as someone who doesn’t want to take a financial hit moving from one job to another.
Also keep in mind what negotiations you’ve already gone through. If you’ve already gone back and forth four times and the current offer is 30 percent higher than you started with, you’re probably maxing them out right now. Forcing more negotiations will look greedy. If you’ve only been given one offer, then they probably expect a counteroffer. Some employers will tell you upfront, “We can offer this, and there’s not much room to negotiate.” That’s a sign that they’re not willing to go much higher (if at all), so any discussion should be realistic. Don’t counter with a salary 50 percent higher. Go back to them and say, “I understand that the compensation is more or less fixed, but I’d be more comfortable with a salary in [this range].” And make that range a moderate increase—one that you think you could actually get and one they would actually consider. Pricing yourself out of the job can happen with outlandish requests.
The bottom line is that you don’t know what their max is, and some finicky employers could snap back without negotiating at all and there’s no way to help that. If you present a case and treat the employer with respect, you’re worst case scenarios are getting an offer too low for you to accept or being told that the salary is final. Either way, at least you know you tried and didn’t accept an offer that you realize is too low two months later. Plus, you show that you’re strong-willed and concerned about your financial security (which is a mature trait) and not some greedy job seeker who wants someone to throw cash your way.
Thanks for the question, Claire!
Come back next week for our next chance for you to submit a question and win a copy of Career Building.
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Granted, videoscopes, with their higher resolution values, are superior imaging products. However, that does not necessarily mean that fiberscopes are still not capable of providing serviceable imaging qualities.
If you watch or read any news — and I hope you do — then you know legislation about health care is the talk of the town these days. The health bill has become the Kate and Jon Gosselin of 2010, except it’s actually important and affects our lives. Lost in the coverage, however, is the jobs bill. Remember that? A few months ago the jobs bill was front and center, but lately it isn’t getting the coverage it deserves.
Two weeks ago the House passed the bill, and then it went to the Senate. Yesterday, the Senate passed the bill, 68-29. (If you want to see how your senator voted, look at this excellent map from The New York Times.) Today President Obama signed the bill into law. Obama said:
A consensus is forming that, partly because of the necessary — and often unpopular – measures we took over the past year, our economy is growing again and we may soon be adding jobs instead of losing them. The jobs bill I’m signing today is intended to help accelerate this process. (Reuters)
Among the provisions in the bill are tax breaks for small-business owners and Social Security breaks for employers hiring unemployed job seekers. Just how many jobs will be created, if any, is a topic of much debate right now. Experts (and regular Americans like you and me) wonder whether or not enough jobs will be created to offset the record unemployment rate. Obama seems to understand this and has said this bill isn’t the answer to everything, but rather a step toward recovery, according to the New York Times.
What do you think? Is this law going to help? Is it better than nothing? Does it leave out important provisions? Let us know what you’re thinking.
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