Tuesday September 25, 12:40 pm ET
By Anne Fisher, FORTUNE senior writer
For the first time in my (16-year) working life, I dread coming to the office in the morning. It's gotten so bad that I can't sleep Sunday nights, and I think I might be getting an ulcer. Why? I took what I expected would be a great job - at least the pay is great - about a year ago, and since then I've felt more and more out of place.
My boss keeps giving me tasks that an entry-level hire, without half my experience, could do. He has also stopped including me in meetings where important decisions are made about my department's activities. (All my peers are invited.) To top it off, most of my colleagues have been avoiding me ever since an incident a few weeks ago when I questioned a practice that seemed to cheat one of our clients, and I'm starting to think I should have swallowed my ethics and kept quiet.
I don't want to look like a job hopper, but I'm not sure how much longer I can stand working here. What should I do?
Yikes. According to Richard Bayer, Ph.D., chief operating officer of The Five O'Clock Club www.fiveoclockclub.com), a national career-counseling network based in New York City, you would be smart to leave before you get sacked, or you lose your sanity, or both.
Over the years, Bayer has compiled a list of eight signals that usually mean your job is in jeopardy. "If you've noticed three or more of the warning signs, it's time to update your resume and start job hunting," he says.
From your e-mail, I'd say you are suffering from more than three. Check out the list and see if you agree.
You don't fit in. Your values don't match the company's. If your colleagues are "dishonest and focused on getting ahead regardless of legal or moral barriers," Bayer says, it's time to quit before an Enron-style scandal sinks the ship.
Your boss doesn't like you and you don't like him or her. If your boss never asks your opinion, and never wants to chat or have lunch with you, and if you disagree with her agenda and dislike her style, your days are numbered. Adds Bayer: "If you've ever done something that undermined your boss, you might as well get out now."
Your peers don't like you. Feeling isolated, gossiped about, and excluded from the inner workings of the organization is a very bad sign, as is feeling that you're not part of the team and wouldn't socialize with your colleagues even if they asked you.
You don't get assignments that demonstrate the full range of your abilities. "Watching all the good assignments go to others, while you're given the ones that play to your weaknesses or are beneath your professional level, should tell you something," says Bayer. Likewise, if it seems the boss doesn't trust your judgment, you're in trouble.
You always get called upon to do the "grunt work." Everybody has to take on a dull or routine task now and then, but if you are constantly being singled out to do the work no one else wants, alarm bells should ring.
You are excluded from meetings your peers are invited to. Sound familiar? If it's painfully clear that your ideas aren't valued, why stick around?
Everyone on your level has an office. You have a cubicle in the hallway. Bayer notes that, whatever your title, your digs can speak volumes about your real status in the organization. If your peers have offices with windows and you're asked to move into a broom closet - no matter what the official explanation - start cleaning out your desk.
You dread going to work and feel like you're developing an ulcer. Ah, here's yet another of your symptoms, and a particularly nasty one at that.
"If the idea of going to the office makes you anxious or physically sick, and you're counting the hours from the time you arrive until the second you can leave, it's time to move on," says Bayer. Do it before you do serious damage to your health, or get so demoralized that you can't be upbeat in job interviews, or both. Once things have deteriorated to this point, being perceived as a job hopper should be the least of your worries. Get out while you still can.
Readers, have you ever quit a job that made you miserable? How did you know it was time to skedaddle? Or have you ever stayed too long and regretted it? Post your thoughts on the Ask Annie blog.
6 Signs You're In The Wrong Career
If these warning signs are flaring up, it may be time to reevaluate your career.
By Chris Kyle
Your career is like a relationship...
Things can go from good to bad - and back to good again - in a flash.
In most cases, tough times at work are just temporary and quickly cure themselves. But when career pain becomes chronic, then it's time to consider making a change.
Check out these 6 signs that you're in the wrong career and learn about some solutions for getting into the right career for you.
Sign #1 - You want to make more money.
There's nothing wrong with wanting a bigger paycheck. It may not happen overnight, but if you're committed to this goal there are things you can do to work toward it.
As a general rule, the more advanced degree you earn, the more money you'll make. This is true in almost every field including nursing, business, health care, and criminal justice.
Management-level jobs also mean more money, so consider enrolling in an MBA program.
Fields such as finance and accounting have some great salary numbers - especially at management levels.
Hot Training Options:
Bachelor's Degree in Finance
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Office Managers: $45,790
Financial Analysts: $73,150
General Managers: $91,570
Search for Business schools and degree programs now.
Sign #2 - You are bored with your job.
Watching the minutes melt away at work isn't just boring; it's bad for you and bad for your company.
Whether it's transitioning to another job in your company, or making a career change, pursuing your passion is a good place to start.
Julia Child didn't learn how to cook until the age of 37, when she enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu. If you love the culinary arts, consider going to cooking school.
Take the time to discover what moves you - and what careers can make use of your skills - whether it's graphic design, web design, interior design, or something else entirely.
Hot Training Options:
Associate's Degree in Graphic Design
Culinary Arts Certificate
Graphic Designers: $42,400
Start pursuing your passion. Find the right Art school for you!
Sign #3 - You are getting passed over for promotion.
No matter the job or the circumstances, watching others leapfrog you at work is a difficult thing to endure.
The key is to demonstrate that you deserve a promotion. Let your boss know that you have aspirations to move up and ask for areas where you can improve your performance.
Consider adding to your qualifications by getting a certificate or degree.
For those looking to move into management, you can handpick the MBA program that's right for you, whether it's management, marketing, or human resources.
Keep in mind that many companies offer tuition assistance plans to ease the cost of going to school.
Hot Training Options:
Bachelor's Degree in Marketing
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Sales Managers: $97,260
Financial Managers: $99,330
Information Systems Managers: $112,210
Search for local and online MBA programs.
Sign #4 - You are afraid of getting laid off.
It's no secret that the unemployment rate is up, making job security a common concern for many Americans. But if your lack of job security is detracting from your work, it may be time to focus on long-term career stability.
Some careers are more stable than others. If you are fearful that you will lose your job, start putting together a plan for other careers that fit your qualifications and personality.
Education may be part of an effective long-term strategy, or even a near-term one, since there are plenty of shorter training programs, like a paralegal studies certificate or a technology support certificate.
Consider career tracks that are growing - not shrinking. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor forecasts excellent job prospects for medical assistants, accountants, and nurses.
Hot Training Options:
Paralegal Studies Certificate
Medical Assisting Certificate
Technology Support Certificate
Medical Assistants: $28,300
Computer Support Specialists: $46,370
Search for certificate training programs.
Sign #5 - You search job postings while at work.
Trolling for a new job while on the clock isn't just dangerous; it's inappropriate. It's also an indication that all is not well at work.
First of all, stop! You'll only make things worse if the boss or a co-worker nabs you.
Next, start using your free time to beef up your resume and network.
Earning a certificate is a quick way to boost your qualifications. With some previous education, you may be able to get the education you need to start a career like medical assisting or paralegal in as little as 18-24 months.
Getting a degree, while it's a longer commitment, can indicate to potential employers that you have the necessary skills and drive to succeed.
Hot Training Options:
Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies
Bachelor's Degree in Accounting
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Associate Degree: $39,572
Bachelor's Degree: $53,300
Master's Degree: $65,364
Find local and online degree programs now.
Sign #6 - You dread waking up in the morning.
Hitting the snooze button isn't a warning sign that you're in the wrong career, but having recurring nightmares about your job could be a signal that it's time to make a change.
Do a self-assessment or talk to a career counselor. What's bothering you at work - and why? If it's time to change careers, make sure you look before you leap.
Getting a degree can arm you with the skills and confidence you need to make the transition.
Going to school at night or online may allow you to keep your current job while looking for a new one.
Health care is one hot option. The industry is ripe with employment opportunities.
Hot Training Options:
Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting
Bachelor's Degree in Health Care Administration
Medical Technician Certificate
Medical Records Technicians: $30,610
Registered Nurses: $62,450
Health Services Managers: $80,240
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MAYBE IT'S TIME TO QUIT: WARNING SIGNS YOU NEED A NEW JOB
November 07, 2010, By Steve Thompson 1 comment
When you hate your job, every moment in the office is a temptation to walk out the front door and never look back. I feel your pain. I've held innumerable jobs over the years that have made me want to tear my hair out in frustration, and I understand the desire to simply cut the dead weight. So how do you know it's time to quit your job? If the economy is in the toilet and your industry is suffering, is it worth the risk? And how should a man recognize the last straw?
You're being mistreated. I don't mean you're given more work than everyone else or your boss won't issue the promotion you've been waiting for. I mean true mistreatment. If you're working overtime without being compensated or you've been the victim of discrimination, start a job search now.
Your family suffers. I'm a strong believer in making sure that family comes first. If your job is getting the way of your relationship with your wife and/or kids, you might need a new job. Guys, myself included, often wear blinders when it comes to their careers. Take them off, look around, and evaluate how your job affects your family.
You're stuck. Maybe you took the job thinking you'd get transferred to your ideal department, or perhaps you were promised a promotion that never arrived. Whatever the case, it can be detrimental to your overall morale to stay in a job where you feel under-utilized or under-valued. Start thinking about finding a new job.
You're bored out of your mind. When I'm bored, I get careless and I make mistakes. Most men respond that way to work that doesn't challenge them. They start working by rote, just going through the motions, and that's not good for you or your employer. You might want to start a new job search if every day feels like your seventh-grade math class.
Others are dropping like flies. Watching other people on the job can help you decide when it's time to quit. If you hate your job and your colleagues are running for the hills, it's probably time to find something new. This often precedes a major upheaval within a company, and you should heed the signs.
You spend your free time on Monster. If you're spending every free minute combing through the classifieds and job search sites, you should listen to your gut. Your mind and body are telling you to get out, and it's probably best to listen. This doesn't mean you should hand in your resignation tomorrow, but you might want to start actively pursuing a new job search.
You've got a better offer. Men are creatures of habit, and we often allow comfort to dissuade us from great opportunities. If you are given a job offer that comes with a better position, salary, and work environment, don't let fear put the kibosh on your future happiness. Jump at the chance after you investigate the offer and decide if it's something you want.
It's scary and disruptive to look for work, but sometimes it's necessary. When you hate your job, you project that displeasure onto the people you work with (as well as your family), and it's better to find a new job now than to get fired down the road.
If you are on the hunt for a new job, know that it's easier to find a job, when you have a job, so start looking while you are still holding your current position.
Job-hunting is not what it used to be, and you need to have a plan of action for future employment. Update your resume and cover letter, stay organized and be patient - finding a new job, can be a Ďjobí in itself.
Below are are a few guidelines to help you find that new job.
Identify ideal criteria. It is important to identify what would make you happy. Is it a shorter commute, better benefits, more money, better hours? What ever it is, you need to figure out what you are looking for and refine your search according to those likes and dislikes. This will make your search more clear and will also save you time.
Do not rush the process. Just because you received an offer for a job, does not mean you have to accept. Donít jump at the first offer. If the offer meets your criteria, great. But if it doesnít, donít be afraid to turn the offer down or negotiate, especially concerning the details that matter to you.
Give appropriate notice. If you find a job that better suits you and accept an offer, remember to give appropriate notice (two weeks are customary) to your current employer. You donít want to burn a bridge, so be sure to transition your work and do your best to effectively wrap up your time there.
Regardless of the economic climate and industry health, it is important to start new job search the smart way. Don't quit until you've found something else, and don't jeopardize your employment until you've got a back-up plan.
Interview Cheat Sheet
By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer
Relax -- a cheat sheet is not really cheating. It's a checklist to make sure you stay focused before, during and after the interview. Creating a cheat sheet will help you feel more prepared and confident. You shouldn't memorize what's on the sheet or check it off during the interview. You should use your cheat sheet to remind you of key facts. Here are some suggestions for what you should include on it.
In the Days Before the Interview
Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left side, make a bulleted list of what the employer is looking for based on the job posting. On the right side, make a bulleted list of the qualities you possess that fit those requirements.
Research the company, industry and the competition.
Prepare your 60-second personal statement.
Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions ("Tell me about a time when..." or "Give me an example of a time...").
List five questions to ask the interviewer about the job, the company and the industry.
Research salaries to determine your worth.
Determine your salary needs based on your living expenses.
Get permission from your references to use their names.
Prepare Your Interview Answers
Be ready to answer common interview questions such as these:
Tell me about yourself.
Why did you leave your last position, or why are you leaving your current position?
What do you know about this company?
What are your goals?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Why do you want to work here?
What has been your most significant achievement?
How would your last boss and colleagues describe you?
Why should we hire you?
What are your salary expectations?
Before You Go to the Interview
Do you look professional? Check yourself in the mirror; part of your confidence will come from looking good.
Carry these items to the interview:
Several copies of your resume on quality paper.
A copy of your references.
A pad of paper on which to take notes, though notes are optional.
Directions to the interview site.
Arrive early -- enter the building 10 minutes before your appointment.
Review your prepared stories and answers.
Go to the restroom and check your appearance one last time.
Announce yourself to the receptionist in a professional manner.
Stand and greet your interviewer with a hearty -- not bone-crushing -- handshake.
Smile and maintain eye contact.
During the Interview
Try to focus on the points you have prepared without sounding rehearsed or stiff.
Relax and enjoy the conversation.
Learn what you can about the company.
Ask questions and listen; read between the lines.
At the conclusion, thank the interviewer, and determine the next steps.
Ask for the interviewer's business card so you can send a follow-up letter.
After the Interview
As soon as possible, write down what you are thinking and feeling.
Later in the day, review what you wrote and assess how you did.
Write an interview thank-you letter, reminding the interviewer of your qualities.
The 10 Worst Things to Put on Your Resume
by Kelly Eggers
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
According to a 2010 Accountemps survey, 28% of executives say the resume is where most job seekers make mistakes in the application process. But what exactly constitutes a mistake?
We talked with career coaches and resume writers to find ten gaffes that will guarantee that your resume never makes it past round one.
1. Unnecessary Details About Your Life
There are a few personal details you should include on a resume: full name and contact information, including email, phone number and address. But beyond that, personal details should be kept to a minimum. If the prospective employer wants to know more than the minimum, they will ask you or figure it out for themselves.
"Your age, race, political affiliation, anything about your family members, and home ownership status should all be left off your resume," says Ann Baehr, a certified professional resume writer and president of New York-based Best Resumes. "What's confusing is that [a lot of personal information is] included on international CVs. In the U.S., including [personal data] is a no-no because it leaves the job-seeker open to discrimination."
The exception to the rule: If you're looking to work for an organization closely tied to a cause, you may consider including your race, political party, or religious beliefs.
"Personal data may suggest a bias, unless what you want to do next is directly tied to one of those categories, because it shows aligned interest," says Roy Cohen, a New York City career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide." So, unless you're looking to work for a religious, political, or social organization, you're better off keeping personal philosophies to yourself.
2. Your Work Responsibilities as a Lifeguard When You Were 16 ...
"Don't include information that will not advance you in your work goals," says Rena Nisonoff, president of The Last Word, a resume-writing and job-coaching company in Boston. "Anything extraneous should be left off your resume." That includes hobbies and irrelevant jobs you held many years ago.
Unless you're an undergraduate student or a freshly minted professional, limit your work history to professional experience you've had in the past 10 to 15 years (or greater, if it was a C-level position).
3. A Headshot
In some industries, being asked for and including a headshot is commonplace, but unless you're a model, actor, or Miss America, the general rule of thumb is that photos should be left out.
"To many [hiring managers], including a headshot feels hokey," says Cohen. It can give off the wrong impression, and isn't a job-seeking tactic that's customarily received well.
Furthermore, it's illegal for employers to discriminate against job candidates based on appearance, so attaching a headshot can put employers in an awkward position, says Nisonoff. Unless it's specifically requested, and it's relevant to the job at hand, keep your appearance out of it.
4. Salary Expectations
Most job candidates feel uneasy discussing salary requirements. For good reason: Giving a number that's too high or too low can cost you the job. You should keep it out of your application materials entirely, unless the hiring manager asks for it.
"If they specifically ask for it, you should give them a range," says Nisonoff, but even still, that information should be reserved for the cover letter and not put on the resume. If you have the option, save that discussion for a later stage of the interviewing process, ideally once the interviewer brings it up.
This should really go without saying, but career coaches and resume writers alike report that the line between embellishment and fabrication is often crossed by job applicants -- and that they've seen it cost their clients jobs.
One of the most common areas in which people fudge the facts is the timeline of their work history.
"A client of mine who worked for a Wall Street firm had moved around quite a bit," says Cohen. The client, who was a registered representative, intentionally excluded a former employer from his resume, and covered it up by altering the dates of employment at other firms. "Registered representatives leave a FINRA trail, and when his resume was checked against his FINRA trail, [the company] saw he had left off a firm and they pulled the offer," Cohen explains.
Whether it's using false information to cover a blemish or exaggerate success, there's no room to lie on your resume. No matter how miniscule the chance is that you'll be caught, you should always represent yourself as accurately as possible.
6. Things That Were Once Labeled "Confidential"
In many jobs, you will handle proprietary information. Having inside information from your positions at previous employers might make you feel important -- but if you use that information to pad your resume, chances are it will raise a red flag.
"Confidential information should never be shared, it shows poor judgment," says Cohen.
If you're sharing the names of your clients, in-house financial dealings, or anything else that might be for your eyes only, it can backfire in two ways. The prospective employer will know that you can't be trusted with sensitive information; and your current (or former) employer might find out what you have been sharing and it could be grounds for dismissal or even a lawsuit.
7. If You Were Fired From a Job -- and What You Were Fired for
Your resume should put you in a positive light. Including that you were let go for poor performance, stealing from the company, or any other fault of your own will have the exact opposite effect.
"Leave out information about a situation that positions you negatively, such as 'I got fired' or 'I mishandled funds,'" says Cohen. "Anything that suggests you used poor judgment in your current or former job."
Following this advice does not violate the rule about lying (No. 5). If you're asked to explain why you left a job, you need to bite the bullet and be straightforward, but until then, make sure you're putting your best foot forward.
8. Overly Verbose Statements
There is a pretty fine line between selling yourself and overselling yourself. Too many resumes overstate the importance of job responsibilities.
"Job seekers with limited experience [try] to put themselves in a 'management' light," says Baehr, using phrases like "'Spearheaded high-profile projects through supervision of others, leading by example.'" Keep your flair for the dramatic to a minimum, so resume readers can get a picture of what your real responsibilities were with your past or current company.
9. "References Available Upon Request" and Your Objective
The age-old "references available upon request" has become archaic. You should have solid references lined up from the get-go, so when the hiring manager asks for them, you're ready to share them.
"It's not really an option," says Baehr. "If they want your references, they're going to get them."
Also nix the objective statement. It's not really necessary to explain your career goals unless you are a recent graduate or are switching careers. If necessary, work your objective into a summary of your qualifications, says Cohen.
"It explains what you want, which may not be readily apparent from the resume," he says, "and it also tells a story to explain why you want to make the career change."
Too much information is almost never a good idea. It's particularly bad when it's put in front of hiring managers who are busy, tired, and quite frankly, probably not going to read your resume word-for-word. If you put too much information in your resume, recruiters will likely not read it at all or just scan it quickly.
"Far too much detail is damaging because it won't get read," says Cohen. "It suggests that you get lost in seeing the forest for the trees and also suggests an attachment to information. It's a burden to the reader, and these days, readers of resumes don't want to be burdened."