Employers

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If you know you’re capable of doing more than fetching coffee (and I know you are!), then you need to walk into that interview room with the confidence and command that says so. How do you do that? Use these tips when readying yourself for your next interview.

1. Make a List of What You’re Great at

Think about the things that make you feel good about yourself. Are you gifted at organizing or creating systems and processes that improve efficiency? Or, are you great interpersonally and have a knack for making people feel heard and welcome?

Start creating a list of those attributes. This will not only shore up your inner confidence, but it will also give you content that you can relate to what your interviewer is looking for in the company’s next hire.

2. Think Through Your Day-to-Day

So you’re telling me that someone paid you for 40 hours each week plus benefits to only get coffee—and that’s it? Even the most prodigal of companies probably had a few more expectations than that.

When you’re struggling to think of other responsibilities, it’s helpful to talk through your day-to-day with a friend. It’s easy to take for granted the other things you do, and by relaying what you spend your day doing, you’ll be able to come up with significantly more content and depth than you previously thought.

For instance, in addition to getting coffee, did you also ensure the office was appropriately stocked and presentable for visitors and employees? Did you manage the conference room schedule and ready rooms for meetings? Did you liaise with building maintenance staff on the upkeep of the office?

Look at that! You’ve just described the background of a perfect office coordinator or administrative assistant.

3. Unlock Your Potential

Remember, potential is not what you’ve done, it’s what you can do. Rather than fixating on the most literal definition of yourself and what you’ve previously done, use this as an opportunity to think and dream expansively.

What more can you do? What more is within you? Listen carefully to the needs of the person interviewing you and find ways to relate your background or personality to those needs. Your previous job doesn’t define the whole you, nor should it define your potential.

The job search is enough to shake anyone’s confidence—particularly when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t have valuable skills or experience to offer. But, I’m willing to bet you bring way more to the table than you think!

Put these tips to work, and you’ll tackle your job search with the confidence of someone who’s more than deserving of that open position.

 

Source:https://www.themuse.com/advice/job-search-with-confidence-when-skills-are-lacking?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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The days when you had to put on a mask for work in the name of corporate conformity are over. They died with the wide-and-shiny neck tie, “kitchens” that looked like your dentist’s office, and other bad memories from yesteryear’s workplace.

Today’s workplace trades on inclusivity, empowerment, teamwork, and—in a word—realness.

Whatever your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, it’s not only yours to embrace, but your employer’s. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, 69% of executives say diversity and inclusion is an important issue. And that’s smart—because it’s good for business.

Recent research from Diversity Council Australia found that employees who work on inclusive teams are 10 times more likely to be highly effective than workers who don’t. They were also found to be more satisfied in their work, and studies have proven that happy employees are more productive.

So, it looks like it’s the perfect time to get real. Here are a few tips to make sure you can thrive as you at work.

Ask Upfront for a Diversity Onboarding

If you don’t identify as a white male (no shade if you do), chances are you have questions when entering a new workplace. What’s the policy to ensure women are paid as much as their male counterparts? Is there a mentorship program here and how can I find a mentor whose values align with my own? How can I help this company cultivate and hire diverse talent like myself?

Many reputable organizations will answer these as part of new-employee onboarding in the form of policies, videos, training, and general information. The goal should be to equip you with the knowledge and resources to work freely as your true self and ensure others can do the same.

If your new-hire briefing falls short of these expectations, don’t let your questions stew. Ask them. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re anticipating some sort of institutionalized discrimination (why would you join the company in that case?), it just means you’re curious and you’re looking forward to being part of progressive solutions to today’s workplace challenges.

Phrase questions to show that you’re curious about something meaningful to you and it’ll be easier to start the conversation: “I’m really passionate about women’s issues, I’d love to know what you do here to make sure women have access to leadership opportunities and equal pay?”

Join an Organization, or Start One

Whether you’re underrepresented at work or just have a really niche interest, joining a club—or starting one—is a great way to create space for the parts of you that don’t fit neatly into your job description.

Find groups that empower you—whether they’re creative or career development-oriented. The best part, clubs can fill voids if something you feel passionate about is not already reflected in your workplace. For example, if ladies aren’t exactly running the show (yet), a women’s group can be a great way to find support and mentorship. If people seem clueless when Pride rolls around, an LGBT+ alliance can change that.

If the group you’re looking to join doesn’t exist, consider starting it. Talk to HR or your manager and ask whether there’s a formal process in place to secure funding.

Be Aware of Your Biases, and Wake Others Up to Theirs

For better or for worse, we all carry unconscious biases. They’re woven into our minds from childhood and continue to proliferate in popular culture. These biases can affect our interpretations of and interactions with coworkers.

One of the best ways to be more self-actualized in the workplace is to help others be the same by granting them freedom from even small stereotypes and assumptions. Look into ways you can become more aware of your biases and spread the word to co-workers.

A few places to start: browse YouTube for bias exercises like this one, ask your colleagues for honest feedback, and pay close attention to your thoughts and reactions in groups (are you responding to hard facts and values, or assumptions and emotions?).

Grow Your Social Circle

Finally, it’s easier to be yourself if you’re among friends.

You can find them, but you may have to work for it. That means going to company events, grabbing coffee with new co-workers, switching your lunch crowd every so often, or hopping in new channels on Slack.

And try to connect with a range of coworkers, not just your immediate peers. You can learn from others who are different from you and who are in more senior or diverse roles. You may have to leave your comfort zone, but it’s well worth it—you’ll be more relaxed at work if you have a group of people supporting you.
Work should be inviting—not just because you like your work (although that’s a big plus), but because you can be yourself while you’re there. Whether your workplace is super progressive and has all the diversity and inclusion boxes checked, or you have to do some work to help get it there, use these tips to make your workday—and that of your coworkers’—more real.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/bring-your-whole-self-to-work?ref=recently-published-1

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Making a career change is scary. It may seem easier to stay in a job that you’re comfortable with and good at, rather than taking the plunge into a totally different career. But, those who do take that plunge often end up happier.

That proverbial leap requires more preparation than simply closing your eyes and jumping, though. To be sure that you don’t end up at another job that leaves you unfulfilled, you need to have a plan of action.

Catherine Morgan, Career Transition Expert at Point A to Point B Transitions, sees clients take a variety of different career journeys—doing the same job in a different industry, doing a different job in the same industry, or finding a job that is completely different in both skill set and industry.

And while some people know deep down that making the transition is the right thing all along, others come to the realization after a major life event. Regardless of the catalyst, Catherine advises taking calculated steps once you’ve decided to change industries.

So if you’re ready to take the leap, here’s our best advice on how to set yourself up for a successful career change.
Follow Your Passion, Purpose, or Side Hustle.

If you’re considering a career change, you’re probably not fulfilled with your current role. But, before jumping into another unsatisfying job, take the time to figure out what would make you happy. 1 out of 5 people don’t feel engaged with their job, and we know you don’t want to remain one of them.

Finding your passion can seem daunting, but if you examine the things you enjoy most, it gets easier. When thinking about changing jobs, “people often pull from life experience or something they’ve been doing on the side,” says Catherine.

Think about your hobbies—do you love to cook, or read, or sew? What activities are you best at and bring you the most joy? While not every hobby can be turned into a full-time job, examining your interests outside of work is a great way to discover what type of career might make you happy.

Have a Strategy and Take Steps to Implement It
In most cases, a career change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work and preparation—but don’t get overwhelmed. Once you have your big picture figured out, do the following:

1. Research
We know you know how to do some internet sleuthing. So, instead of stalking your ex online, use those detective skills to start researching potential employers. Check out their social media, website, and any other info you can find so that you can make an informed decision on whether a company is the right fit for you.

2. Network
Make a list of people you know who work in the field that you’re interested in. If you don’t know anyone personally that’s okay. Utilize LinkedIn to expand your search, and don’t forget to ask friends and family for their connections. You can even craft an email to friends explaining that you’re looking to change careers and would love to be connected with anyone they think could help.

Once you have contact information, look them up before reaching out. You’ll want to sound informed so people know their time won’t be wasted connecting with you. Request a coffee, informational interview, or even to shadow someone after you’ve made the first move.

3. Know What You’re Willing to Sacrifice
Before making a big shift, Catherine says, consider whether there is an opportunity to rework your current job situation. “Look at what you want and what would make you happier—less travel, working from home more, boundaries to disconnect,” she says.

If you are set on changing careers, there’s a lot to consider before leaving your current job. Before quitting evaluate what sacrifices you are willing to make in order to find a role that you love—can you take a pay cut, start in a lower position, do you have leverage to leave your job without having your next one lined up?

Knowing the answers to these questions beforehand will set you up for success and help narrow down potential jobs and employers.

The Results
Catherine says “the people I work with tend to be happy with their decisions, they are going into it with the right mindset and finding something valuable to them.” We spend the bulk of our time at work, so being happy with your job can make a huge difference.

So, if you think it’s time for a career change, follow the steps above—do your research, create a plan of action, and take the leap. You may just end up happier than you ever imagined.
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-a-career-change-may-make-you-happier?ref=recently-published-1

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The first 90 days of your new job are crucial to set yourself up for long-term career success. It’s where you make good on the promises you touted during your interview and set the stage for how people perceive you.

That’s why asking for feedback during this time is so, so important. It quickly demonstrates to your new boss that you’re invested, you’re committed to excellence, and that you’re in this for the long haul.

Plus, if done well, you can earn major brownie points that may help you get recognized later for opportunities to work on interesting projects or even advance more quickly.

Easy enough, right? Now that you know just how important your first 90 days are, here are some guidelines for how to ask for feedback to ensure you’re on the right path (or how to get on it).

When Should You Ask?

Eliciting feedback in these crucial first few days is a balance between giving your new manager and co-workers enough time to form concrete thoughts and opinions of you, while also being proactive in prompting feedback that will help you as you get onboarded.

Rule of thumb: Don’t expect a formal review by the end of week one. After that, it’s all a judgement call. How much real work have you actually had a chance to do? If you’ve just completed a big project or finished a tougher assignment, now may be the perfect time to ask for some input on how you did. Regardless of the above, don’t let three weeks go by without making the big ask.

A good rhythm for how frequently you continue to check-in will hinge on the volume and involvement of your work. That said, a good best practice is no more than once a week, but no less than once a month.

How Should You Ask?

Don’t pounce at the water cooler or in the bathroom while your boss is washing her hands. Reach out to your manager via email or in person and request a meeting directly. Explain what the meeting is for—people will appreciate having a heads-up so they can prepare ideas ahead of time.

Try something like, “I’d like 15 minutes of your time to talk about how you think things are going so far with me. Are you satisfied with what I’m doing, and the work I’m producing? Is there anything I can be doing differently?”

What Should You Ask?

Give your manager suggestions on what you want to hear, such as, “How am I integrating within the team?” “Am I operating at the speed you need me to?” or “How is the quality of my work? Any development areas you have already identified that I can work on?”

This is also the time to coach your manager on what you need in terms of resources. Would you benefit from regular one-on-ones or additional training? Perhaps a tracking system that you and your manager have access to to share what you’re working on?

Who Should You Ask?

Besides your boss, co-workers are also a great resource for feedback. While it doesn’t need to be as formal as with a manager, try crafting an email along the lines of, Hey, I’m loving it here so far, and would love to get some feedback from you to make sure I’m setting myself up for long term success. It’s really important to me I’m doing a good job and making a good impression.

The reality of soliciting feedback is that it may not always be 100% positive. So, prepare yourself mentally. All your good intentions will immediately be nullified if you go into “defensive” mode. Keep your ego out of this conversation and stay open and non-judgmental.

Then, send a follow-up email thanking your manager or colleague for their time and candor, and briefly outline your takeaways and any next steps you plan to take. Implement any areas of improvement right away and follow-up with your boss to make sure the adjustments you’re making are correct and noticed.

We know there’s a lot to learn in your first 90 days. You’ve got new systems, technologies, faces, and names to remember, and so much more. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Incorporating this advice displays maturity and commitment on your part, and will also give you a good indication of whether you’re doing well, or need to make some adjustments before its too late. Regardless of what you learn, it will empower you to excel in your new role.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-ask-for-feedback-first-90-days-successful-new-job

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POWER company AGL has committed to building a 252 megawatt gas-fired power station somewhere “near Newcastle” as part of its plan for life after Liddell shuts at Muswellbrook in 2022.

Chief executive Andy Vesey will be at an AGL facility at Tomago on Friday to publicly announce the decision, which was released late yesterday to the stock exchange.

Although AGL is yet to formally commit to a site, the Newcastle Herald understands that the company is looking at a shortlist of three possible sites within a few kilometres of each other, in and around Tomago.

Macquarie Generation, which AGL purchased from the NSW government for $1.5 billion in 2014, gained approval for a similarly sized gas-fired power station at Tomago in 2003.

The approval may have lapsed, but that plant had a proposed first stage of 260 megawatts.

It was aimed at easing power shortages at the time caused by a rapid uptake of air-conditioners.

Although the new plant will not fully replace Liddell, which can generate 2000 megawatts, AGL is promoting it as part of a broader generation plan submitted to the federal government and the Australian Energy Market Operator in December.

“AGL is committed to supporting the orderly transition of Australia’s electricity generation capacity to modern, clean and reliable energy supply,” Mr Vesey said.

“That’s why we gave seven years notice of when we intend to close Liddell … and we are pleased to commit today to build the gas power station near Newcastle.”

Mr Vesey said the power station would be built near AGL’s Tomago gas facility, off Old Punt Road, which was approved by the NSW government in 2012. It and an AGL substation are close to Tomago Aluminium.

He said AGL had now committed to the first stage of its NSW generation plan, which included a 100-megawatt upgrade of Bayswater power station, a solar off-take to provide 300 megawatts, a “demand response” program that would encourage customers to use the equivalent of 20 megawatts less power, and the Tomago gas plant.

He said they were still looking at stage two, which included another 500 megawatts of gas. With all of the stage one elements in place, Mr Vesey said there was enough power to “address the capacity shortfall that may occur as a result of Liddell closing”.

“We are optimistic that the National Energy Guarantee will provide sufficient policy certainty to enable market participants such as AGL to invest with even greater confidence in cleaner, more reliable and more affordable energy generation.”

“Electricity generation is undergoing an increasingly rapid transition to lower-cost, clean renewable energy and storage technologies.”

 

Source: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5366930/agl-to-build-400-million-gas-fired-power-station-near-newcastle/

to do list

Let’s face it — life can get really crazy sometimes, especially when we’re trying to balance work, family, a social life, and whatever other real-world obligations come our way on a daily basis. For that reason it’s vital to understand ways to make a better to-do list, in order to keep us organized, understand what things absolutely need to be completed, and to actually be able to finish them in a timely manner.
It seems like an easy enough thing to do, right? Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and jot down the things we need to get done that day. However, there is really an art to creating the best of the best to-do lists — ones that will truly help us to meet deadlines and ultimately feel less stressed and more accomplished.

I know plenty of people who tell me they never make to-lists because they feel they’re a waste of time. These are the same people I encounter in my life who forget to follow up on emails, or send things when they say they will, or even return phone calls or texts. Their head is always in the clouds, so to say. They live in the moment — which is fine for certain types of work and living situations — but definitely is a challenging way of life for those of us with more regimented jobs and family responsibilities. For those who live for structure, I’ve got you covered in this article. Following some of these tips could be a game-changer for you, as I know they have been for me.

Here are seven ways to make a better to-do list.

1. Consider Quality Vs. Quantity

I am notorious for making extremely long to-do lists. For one, I love the feeling of being able to cross something off the list, so even the little things bring me joy. Secondly, I have a million balls spinning at once all day so without these lengthy lists sometimes I honestly will forget to drop off clothes at the dry cleaner if I don’t write it down.

According to Forbes, a good way to prevent us from bogging down our lists with meaningless items is to remember that by focusing on the big things (quality vs. quantity), we’ll be much more effective at our jobs, and in our broader lives as well. Forbes recommended keeping your list as short as possible, and really weighing a task before considering if you need to write it down. I’m not going to recommend you eliminate a task that you might genuinely forget to do. Rather, if you know every morning you start your day by responding to emails, no need to write that at the top of your list for tomorrow. Try your hardest to focus on the bigger things.

2. Make Your List The Night Before

It’s such a nice feeling waking up and already knowing what you need to accomplish that day, rather than spending the first hour flustered as you respond to emails and scribble a list. To achieve a level of uber-organization, try making your to-do list the night before. This will prevent you from having to waste your energy in the morning figuring out what things need to get done, according to Reader’s Digest. Also, making the list the night before can help calm your mind before you sleep so you’re not waking up in the middle of the night feeling anxiety over little things you might otherwise forget to do the next day.

3. Try To Start The List With The Hardest Task

Have to talk to your boss today about a failed project? Likely you’re completely dreading it, so get it over with at the start of the day. By tackling something difficult first thing you can create a sense of achievement that you’ll take with you for the rest of the day, according to foundr. Also, that hard thing will be done. It will feel so nice. It doesn’t always have to be uncomfortable conversations to start the day, just try to think of which task is going to be most difficult, and move it to the top of the list.

4. From There, Try A Sequential Approach

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve been such a crazy organization freak, but prior to that I used to create to-do lists by writing the day at the top of the page and then jotting down items as they came to my mind, rather than by when they needed to be completed. For a writer, this is a horrible approach because you’re constantly working against deadlines. You need a sequence!

Real Simple suggested a sequential approach to list making that organizes tasks by morning, afternoon, and evening. If you want to make it even more granular, the outlet suggested breaking down whether it will be completed at home, work, or wherever else. Keep our first tip in mind her, though, and try to keep your list of items short and sweet.

5. Include Time Estimates

I have come to live by this tactic mostly becomes it helps me see how many things I can realistically get accomplished in a day, and also because it keeps me motivated to finish assignments in a timely manner. Try adding a time estimate next to each item when you’re creating a list — whether you think it’s going to take you 15 minutes or three hours. Omar Kilani, cofounder of to-do list app Remember The Milk, told Fast Company doing this means “you can make realistic decisions about how much you can really fit into your day.”

6. Try Using An “Other” Section

This tip is a personal recommendation for those like me who despise ending a day without being able to cross every item off their list. I always keep a side list of “Other” items — things that don’t necessarily need to be completed that day, but that I don’t want to lose sight of completely. If I finish my must-do tasks early on a given day, I’ll move to the “Other” section and start ticking those off.

7. Limit The Amount Of Meetings In Your Day

This last one isn’t a tip for writing the list, but rather a way to help ensure you can achieve the items on it. Ever have one of those days where you’ve created an achievable to-do list, as the day goes on you’re pulled into meeting after meeting, then by 5:00 have not been able to complete one of your list items? It happens to us all from time to time.

Where possible, try to limit the amount of meetings in your day. TheMuse.com recommended before you schedule a meeting considering whether the issue could be resolved with an email, phone call, or a quick few minute conversation by the water cooler. If you absolutely need the meeting, try to keep it focused on the fewest number of key agenda items as possible, least number of participants, and the shortest amount of time possible, according to the outlet.

By taking the time in advance to make the right kind of to-do list, you can ultimately be much more productive, deadline-oriented, and overall effective in your work and home life. Take note of these tips, get yourself organized, and start getting things accomplished!

 

Source:  Erica Florentine | https://www.bustle.com/articles/142527-7-ways-to-make-a-better-to-do-list

4 things leaders shouldnt say

When you’re a manager, your employees are constantly watching to see how you behave and what you say. As a result, it’s important to be intentional about your choice of words in any setting.

As the boss, there are certain things you probably shouldn’t say.

You’re probably aware of the more obvious statements, like:

“I’m only doing this because corporate is making me.”
“I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but…”
“I just need to vent to you about [Person]…”
However, in addition to these obviously-nots, there are a few others phrases that, although seemingly harmless, may end up hurting you and your team.

1. “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”

Leaders often say this to their high performers—the low-maintenance team members they know they can count on to deliver. It’s intended to encourage them to keep it up by letting them know they’re doing a good job.

Still, as an executive coach, I’ve heard time and time again from high performers how frustrating this type of feedback is.

Why? Because they’re often ambitious. They want to advance in their careers, and they crave feedback that will help them grow. The absence of constructive criticism sometimes exasperates them so much that they’re inclined to seek out other opportunities where they’ll get the mentorship they need to continue moving up.

A Better Alternative
To maintain your high performers (and keep them growing), try: “You’re excelling with X. Let’s give you an opportunity to stretch by giving you more chances to do Y.” Or, “You’re doing really well! Let’s explore your career goals so that I can make sure I’m coaching you to get you ready for your next step.”

2. “Was That Clear?”

While this might seem like a reasonable thing to say, it might not always give you an accurate picture of whether or not your team understands your intended message.

For example, I’ve often seen really bright leaders provide so much information that it overwhelms their audience. In those cases, people might not even know where to begin to respond to the question. Further, if this is posed in a group setting, people are less likely to speak up for fear of looking like the only person who’s confused.

Even in those cases in which your audience thinks that everything’s clear, they still might not be on the same page (like when you’re talking with a peer and realize that you’ve each walked away from a meeting with different conclusions).

A Better Alternative
Instead, say: “Let’s do a quick review of the key takeaways to make sure I articulated it clearly.” (Then, you can review them, or better yet, you could have other people in the room review them for you.)

3. “Failure Isn’t an Option”

While this might be something that’s appropriate for life and death situations, for most leaders this isn’t the sort of phrase you should be using too frequently.

Although it seems like it sets the bar high, the reality is that it’ll likely encourage mediocrity.

Think about it: If people are afraid to make mistakes, do you think they’ll be willing to experiment to see if they can make something better, or do you think they’ll stay safely within the bounds of what they know?

A Better Alternative
You can tell your team, “To be innovative, we’ll probably have to take some calculated risks. I don’t want us to make mistakes on purpose, but they’ll inevitably happen. Let’s make sure to learn from them so we can continue to improve.”

4. “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions”

This statement is usually meant to encourage problem-solving and proactivity. I’ve also seen it said by bosses who want to prevent employees from incessantly complaining about issues while doing absolutely nothing to solve them.

But according to Wharton professor Adam Grant, it can prevent people from speaking up about important issues they simply don’t know how to solve. This can result in leaders being unaware of where their team stands.

It can also create a “culture of advocacy” where people come to discussions highly invested in their solutions. As a result, they’re more concerned about selling their ideas than engaging with the group to work collaboratively.

A Better Alternative
To encourage your employees to speak up when needed, try: “To make this place better, we need to be aware of all problems—whether or not you know how to solve them. I’m also open to hearing your proposed solutions, too, so we can collaboratively improve our environment.”

To excel as a manager, you’ve got to be a great communicator. When you’re speaking, keep your goals in mind, and think critically about the messages you’re sending. With that sort of intentional communication, odds are you’ll have a positive impact on your team.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-harmless-phrases-leaders-never-say-at-work?ref=recently-published-1

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Incorporated in 1992, HunterNet is a network of manufacturing, engineering and specialist services companies located in the Hunter and Central Coast Regions.

Formed as a not for profit co-operative, the organisation involves more than 200 companies.

Of course it all started on a much smaller scale in 1991, when 14 member companies agreed on the co-operative structure. There had been a decrease in ship building activity, activity at the BHP steelworks and a recognition that companies needed to diversify if they were going to survive in the region. HunterNet was formed around one idea – “the power of many”.

Watch the story of this Hunter-based organisation.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5320678/newcastle-business-2020-watch-the-story-of-the-hunternet/

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When I first started working, I never understood why people hated meetings so much. I love people, I love brainstorming conversations, and I love an excuse to not stare at my computer for several hours—how could they not be anything but great?

Of course, over time, I started to understand why they get a bad rap. Take away the fact that most meetings are inefficient, if not unproductive and a waste of time, it takes around 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get focused back on what you were working on before a meeting (which is why we’re big fans of turning unnecessary ones into emails).

As someone who’s (and knows many people who have also) had days of back-to-back meetings, I know how tough it can be to get all your other work done. Here are some tips for how to get through the day the best you can, if cancelling isn’t an option.

The Day Before

Prep for the Meeting
Chances are you know a couple days ahead of time when you’re going to have a day full of meetings. So, use that prep time to get organized.

Make sure you have everything you need to present or run each meeting. If you’re an attendee, go over any documents or agendas your colleagues have sent out to get a sense of what you need to bring and what’ll be discussed (if you have none of this, ask for it!).

Knowing what’s coming up will save you from scrambling day of to find files, or track down information, or waste any mental energy on being shocked at what you’re learning

Get Work Done Ahead of Time
Look at what you have coming up the day after the meeting. Is there anything you can get done in advance? By working through your lunch or staying just 30 minutes later than usual the day before, you can knock off some tasks and not end your meeting-filled-day feeling like you’re way behind.

Plan on How You’ll Take Advantage of Those Bits of In-between Time
Sometimes meetings end early. Sometimes they start late. And sometimes they get cancelled. (And sometimes the presenter spends the first 10 minutes trying to hook up their computer.)

Get ready to use those spare moments wisely.

Make a list of everything that can be done in under five minutes. Then turn to that list (and not social media) when you find yourself with minutes to spare.

Block Off Any Free Time You Do Have
Another no-brainer trick is to physically block off any time you have between meetings on your calendars.

The Day Of

Work in the Meeting (When Possible)
OK, I’m not giving you permission to not listen in the meeting, but I also realize that everyone does this at some point. And I also know that fires come up that you have to address, no matter how important the discussion is.

So, if there’s a lull in the conversation, you’re merely an observer in the meeting, or you’re certain you’re not needed in that moment, I give you permission to tackle any of those low-hanging fruits on occasion—whether it’s responding to a Slack, answering an important client email, or filling out a quick document.

Actually Eat Lunch
If it’s not completely taboo in your office, please eat lunch during the meeting. And, take bathroom breaks, even if it means leaving in the middle or running late to the next one. Oh, and, bring water and a snack with you so you don’t feel famished or dehydrated.

This will help keep your energy up so you can tackle stuff later on (more on that below).

Plan on it Being a Long Day
If your day’s going to be completely packed, then it might be worth getting into the mindset that you probably won’t be leaving when you ideally want to. It sucks to have to work outside your regular hours, but knowing that it’s coming will make it a little less painful.

Cancel Your Plans That Night
With that said, don’t make your day longer by having after-work plans. Not only will this put a deadline on how late you can work, but it’ll also just mean you end the day more exhausted than necessary. Instead, make it a self-care night that’s relaxing and stress-free.

Get in Early
Set your alarm a bit earlier than usual and get to the office before everyone else. This leaves you with plenty of distraction-free time to focus before the day really starts. And this goes for night owls too—even if you get in early and just spend the first hour making a to-do list for the day, you’ll feel better.

The Day After

Avoid This in the Future
You can try following these tips to cut down how many meetings you have to attend in the future.

Or, going back to the whole “blocking off your calendar idea,” you can make sure you block off two to three hours every day for your work. This helps to ensure that you will almost always have time to work. While you’ll of course have to move those blocks to accommodate other people and deadlines, it’s a great start.

No doubt about it that having a meeting-full day stinks. However, it’s not impossible to survive a day like this and still do your job (after all, if I can do it, you can, too).

 

Source:https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-survive-meetings-still-do-work?ref=recently-published-1

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Unemployment or changing jobs or being stuck in a career rut is stressful no matter how you look at it, but when you multiply it by two, it can really take a toll on you and your relationship.

When my husband and I lost our jobs within six weeks of each other, we were in shock—and found ourselves spending a lot of time together, for better or for worse. During that harrowing period, we attempted to reinvent ourselves as professionals without losing who we were as a couple.

Now that we’re both collecting paychecks again, it’s easy to see many of the mistakes we made as we navigated the rocky road back to full-time employment together. The following is my hard-won wisdom on how to handle joint career stress without losing your peace of mind or your relationship in the process.

Respect Each Other’s Methods

Remember the old “opposites attract?” Well, my husband and I approached our job searches from completely different angles. I regarded it as a numbers games, sending my resume far and wide, while my husband was more strategic, cultivating connections and networking with everyone he’d ever met.

When I tried to convince him to give my way a go when some of his leads didn’t pan out, he insisted his strategy would eventually bear fruit. Likewise, when he suggested I get back in touch with people I hadn’t spoken with in years, I hesitated. Though we were skeptical of each other’s methods, neither of us was right nor wrong.

Respect your partner’s approach to their career, and if you can borrow what’s working for them and incorporate it into your own game plan, all the better. Because, ultimately, both tactics led us to new positions.

Work as a Team

During a rough career patch, you can definitely feel isolated and alone. If there’s an upside to facing it as a couple, it’s that you’ve got a partner who is attempting to overcome the same hurdle, which means your relationship has probably never been filled with more empathy. Use that compassion to cheer each other on and be encouraging on those dark days when your inboxes seem to overflow with rejection emails.

In addition to providing emotional support, you can benefit from having a ready and willing interview partner. Trust me, it’s a lot better to make mistakes in a mock interview with your significant other than with your would-be boss.

Be Gentle With Each Other

When you’re feeling raw and vulnerable during this time, something as small as a sideways glance can feel like a devastating slight.

Though it might be tempting to offer advice, sometimes your partner may just want to vent and know that their feelings are heard and valid. It’s important to keep communication open and figure out what makes each of you feel supported.

When my husband was passed over for a position we were almost certain he’d get, I found myself saying things like, “I don’t understand. How could you not have gotten it?” This ultimately wasn’t helpful for either of us. People process these life events in different ways, so treat each other with care.

Put Away Your Pride and Get Help if You Need It

There’s no denying that a career bump can cause your confidence to plummet while your stress level skyrockets. These factors can wreak havoc on even the most rock-solid relationship. Just remember, you’re not alone.

From career counseling to marriage counseling, if this period is taking a toll on your mental health or your relationship, seek help. Having a professional third party provide strategies for navigating this difficult period can assist you in getting back on track.

Though it may not feel like it while you’re in the thick of it, you will come out on the other side, and when you do, your relationship may be stronger for having weathered this challenging period nobly together.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-deal-relationship-rough-career-change?ref=recently-published-0

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The Newcastle Permanent is marking 115 years in business. To the uninitiated, give us a snapshot of how it began?

Newcastle Permanent began in 1903 when a group of hardworking people who couldn’t get a home loan from the banks—because they weren’t wealthy—created a cooperative building society. They put their savings together to help everyone in the cooperative access a home loan and eventually everyone did. Fast forward 115 years and this is still the ethos of what we do today – helping people buy their own home.

The biggest milestones for the bank to date?

We now have more than $10 billion in assets and last financial year our loan growth exceeded that of the major banks. This asset portfolio makes us the largest customer-owned financial institution in NSW and the second-largest in Australia.

How many members do you have and what shape is the business in?

We have more than 320,000 customers predominantly in northern and central west NSW with strong growth in Sydney. We are the financially strongest customer-owned banking institution in Australia in terms of net assets.

The toughest moments for the building society in the past decade?

A stand out is the Global Financial Crisis. While Australia weathered the GFC storm relatively well, our government cooperated with an international banking regulatory framework to provide further protections for the global banking industry. This resulted in significant regulatory reform and oversight for Australian financial services operators. Add to this the need to respond to rapidly changing customer preferences for digital banking and it has certainly been an interesting decade.

And biggest highlight?

Reaching $10 billion in assets had been such an achievement, and for a business based right here in the Hunter!

The Royal Commission into Misconduct into the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has started and the big four are in the firing line. Will Newcastle Permanent make a submission?

It’s only early days, but at this stage is does not appear that we’ll be asked to participate in the Royal Commission.

Will the findings of the commission, due in 2018, affect your operations?

The Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission are quite broad and inquire into banking, superannuation, and the financial services industry. At the moment it is not really possible to predict what the outcomes and timings of the Royal Commission’s recommendations will be. However, it’s reasonable to expect there’ll be changes that will affect the entire industry, including Newcastle Permanent.

How can the Perm compete with the big four?

Our business model is different because we’re customer-owned. We don’t distribute profits to shareholders (because we don’t have shareholders), but instead reinvest our profits into the business to benefit our customers and their communities by keeping our loan and deposit rates very competitive.

What is the Perm doing via its Charitable Foundation that has a real impact?

This year the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation is also celebrating a milestone, marking 15 years of supporting our community. In this time the Foundation has provided more than $17.5 million to more than 420 life-changing and community initiatives.

Why is there nostalgia for the Perm in the Hunter?

The fact that we are often called “the Perm” says a lot! I think it’s the simple fact that we’ve always been here. Our head office is in the CBD, we employ almost 1,000 staff, we’re active in supporting our community, and at some stage of their life most Novocastrians have had a bank account with us. We’re intrinsically tied to the memories and lives of Novocastrians.

The Perm has had memorable ad campaigns, but did you expect the Sunshine Over My Shoulder song, created by local business The Proverbials, to become so loved?

We knew the 2012 ad campaign was special; majestically showcasing our region and how lucky we are that we can serve our region. But we never thought in our wildest dreams that the song would resonate so well and become a wedding song!

You worked at one of the big four before the Perm. How do the two differ?

At a big four all your work is devoted to lining the pockets of shareholders. At Newcastle Permanent, we’re all about people. Our mission statement is we are “Here for good” and that means for our customers, our people, the community, and the long term. This was a pleasant culture change coming from a big four where the community wasn’t even a consideration!

What innovation is ahead for the Perm?

Our customers are rapidly shifting their preferences to online banking. I think the last time our industry saw such a shake-up was when computers became the norm more than 30 years ago. We’re working towards a time where our customers, if they wish, will not need to visit a branch to do any of their banking—and that day isn’t too far away.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5247429/a-permanent-fixture/

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So, you’ve got a gap in your resume? Maybe you decided to travel, or go back to school, or maybe you looked after a sick relative, or you took time out to be a parent yourself. Whatever the reason, you’re probably feeling like your job hunt is going to be that much harder. Surely any recruiter looking at your resume is going to run a mile away.

Not necessarily.

Most employers nowadays recognize that it’s rare for anyone to stay with just one or two companies for their whole career. Plus, job security isn’t what it used to be (unfortunately).

As a recruiter, I’ve interviewed my fair share of candidates, and if there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s this. Think about how to present your gap. With a little foresight, you can turn a potentially tricky interview situation into a masterclass in personal branding.

1. So, You Lost Your Job
Some people find it embarrassing to talk about being laid off, but it’s unlikely to elicit anything but sympathy from your interviewer. It’s fairly commonplace these days. Just remember not to badmouth your past company or boss. Instead, focus your response on all the positive things you achieved while you were there.

Don’t Say
“That #!&$! company had it in for me from day one. I probably would’ve left anyway.”

Do Say
“Unfortunately, the company had to implement some budget cuts and, due to their ‘last-in, first-out’ policy, I was made redundant. However, I’m proud of what I achieved during my time there, something which can be reinforced by my previous manager, who’s one of my referees.”

2. So, You Quit Your Job and Traveled the World
The key with this one is to focus on how traveling contributed to your personal development, rather than how much fun you had schlepping around the world with nothing but a backpack and a smile. If you took on any paid or volunteer work during this time, concentrate your response on the additional personal and professional skills it’s given you.

Don’t Say
“Well let’s face it, partying in Thailand is a lot more fun than going to work. I’m pretty sure I had an awesome time, but I can’t actually remember most of it.”

Do Say
“I spent a number of years working at a company in a very demanding job, in which–as you’ll see from my references–I was very successful. But I’d reached a stage in my career where I wanted to focus on my personal growth. The time I spent traveling taught me a lot about how to get along with people of all ages and cultures. Now I feel more than ready to jump back into my career with renewed energy and focus and I feel this role is the ideal way to do that.”

3. So, You Went Back to School
This is perhaps the easiest one to explain. Particularly if what you did is relevant to your chosen career. Even if not, it’s easy to put positive spin on something that requires a certain level of intelligence and hard work.

Don’t say
“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, so I stayed in school rather than getting a job. I am still uncertain if this career path is right for me.”

Do Say
“I wanted to expand my career options by completing some training/getting a qualification in x. Now that I’ve achieved my educational goals, I’m looking forward to using my qualifications to benefit the company I work for. This role is the perfect way for me to do that because…”

4. So, You Took Time Off for Health Reasons
Brevity’s key here. The interviewer won’t expect (or want) you to go into painstaking detail about an attack of depression or a serious back operation. Prepare a straightforward explanation that you’re comfortable sharing. Mention how proud you are that you were able to overcome your health problems and then move the conversation swiftly into the present day by discussing the relevant skills you have to offer this company.

Don’t Say
“Whoa, yeah, things were pretty bad there for a while..”

Do Say
“I went through a tough time emotionally/physically due to… and I took some time out to concentrate on getting better, so I could get back to work as quickly as possible. I’m pleased that I overcame that challenge because it’s made me a stronger person but now I’m fully recovered and ready to focus on the next stage of my career.”

5. So, You Had to Take Care of Your Family
Remember, caring for the sick or elderly and raising a family are tough jobs that require a huge range of skills, which you now have in abundance. No interviewer should make you feel like your decision to prioritize family over career reflects badly on you.

If you had time to keep your skills and industry knowledge up to date, make sure you mention this. End the discussion by telling the interviewer that you’re excited to recommit yourself to your career. And remember, any company worth your time and effort should recognize what an all-round superhero you clearly are.

Don’t Say
“I live the closest to my mom so I drew the short straw in having to take care of her. I just couldn’t handle looking after her and holding down a job!”

Do Say
“After a lot of thought, I decided that my top priority was my child/elderly parent/sick spouse. However, I made sure to keep my professional skills up to date during that time. Now I’m in a position to refocus on my career and I’m looking forward to utilizing all the additional soft skills I’ve learnt.”

Lastly, remember that lying on your resume or in interview is a really bad idea. When you’re asked about a gap in your employment, take a deep breath and acknowledge the interviewer’s concern. Stay composed and don’t get defensive: it will reassure the interviewer that you’re confident and comfortable with your reasons so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be too.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/explain-resume-gap-interview-right-way?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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I feel like I need more than just a traditional resume or cover letter in order to stand out to the tech companies I want to work for. What else can I do to separate myself from the competition that’s applying to these innovative companies?

 

Dear Desperate to Stand Out,

You really hit the nail on the head. Competition’s tough across the board and tech is leading the way.

Your first step to getting noticed is to get in the right mindset. What does that mean? Don’t think like a recruiter, but more like a marketer. Your product is your experience. Here’s how a marketer would sell it.

1. Focus on Presentation
Maybe you’re not a graphic designer, but that shouldn’t be stand in the way of creating an eye-catching resume. There are plenty of tools that make design easy for everyone—many even offer templates designed by experts.

And don’t just stop there. Think of all the other points of contact a recruiter could have with you—including your LinkedIn profile, other social media handles, a blog, an online portfolio, and so on. Make sure they are all polished and contribute to a cohesive personal brand.

2. Spread the Word
A solid resume or cover letter doesn’t accomplish anything if the right people don’t see it. One surefire way to stand out is to proactively put it in front of the right people and to make it easy for them to notice it.

For example, there’s a story of a candidate who used Snapchat geo filters to advertise his portfolio in front of creative directors at the agencies he wanted to work for. You may not want to go that far, but that core idea has some merit. Think of how you can make yourself discoverable.

Don’t be intimidated. This can be something as straightforward as finding an acquaintance who works at the company and asking for a referral, or even dropping a friendly note to the hiring manager on Twitter or LinkedIn.

3. Make it Personal
Anything that starts with the dreaded, “To Whom it May Concern” will find it’s way to the trash can in a hurry. But, it’s hard to ignore a message when it’s highly targeted and personalized.

Start by showing that you took the time to get to know both the hiring manager and the company. Stand out from the competition by finding unique themes, attributes, projects, values, or needs you have in common and then incorporating those into your application materials.

Proving that you’ve done your homework on the role and the company empowers you to present yourself as a seamless fit, while also demonstrating your high level of interest in that opportunity.

Getting the job you want with the company you want to work for can be challenging. But, the right mindset and approach will help you reach your goals faster.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/stand-out-against-tough-job-search-competition

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Let’s be clear: It’s innovate or die out there.

Ideas are the currency that buys you a starring role in today’s workplace. But too many people prioritize ownership over adoption, and watch their ideas waste away as a result. Truth is, you’ll be more effective if you work collaboratively with a team to turn ideas into action.

Here’s why you should ditch the old ideation silo and give your best thoughts to the group.

 

Team Buy-In Makes Things Happen
Ideas are often the prelude to change, and change generally rubs people the wrong way. So, how to get around the very human—but avoidable—friction that comes from shaking things up? Go out of your way to gain your team’s buy-in on the things that may affect them.

Especially if you’re a manager, inclusive decision-making may not only get you a better outcome by melding more minds during the ideation and decision-making processes, it ensures that the team understands the motives and considerations behind new ways of working. Ultimately that means less pushback, a deeper awareness about what led to decisions in the first place, and a more evenly distributed stake in the outcome.

Whether or not you’re a manager, this is a good way to conquer any resistance to change.

 

Tap Into a More Diverse Range of Opinions
A team brainstorm may be no better than a private one if everyone in the group thinks the same way. You need to mix it up.

Study after study has shown that diverse groups—gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, age, etc.—produce better ideas and make better decisions. Cloverpop, a company that tracks companies’ decisions to help them manage the decision-making process, found in a two-year study that gender-mixed teams comprising a wide range of ages and geographic representations made better decisions than homogeneous teams 87 percent of the time.

Makes sense. People with different backgrounds have different outlooks, motivations and experiences that shape their contributions at work. Hearing their voices and ideas produces a more well-rounded exchange of thoughts vetted by a wider variety of perspectives.

You may have to do some work to get a good mix of people in the room, but it’s worth it. While you’re at it, don’t discount less obvious diversity factors, like years of experience and time at your company.

 

See How Ideas Hold Up Against Messy Human Stuff
We’re all human, and regardless of race or gender or any of the other factors above, we’re simply wired differently.

For example, think about Myers-Briggs psychological types. People have different ways of perceiving and interpreting information, different thought patterns and emotional reflexes. The idealists on your team will have different ideas than the cynics. The process-oriented people will see things differently from the gut-driven types.

Working through ideas with a mix of personalities will help you find middle ground and flesh out a plan of action that works for everyone.

 

Test Your Assumptions
Idea sharing can be a valuable vetting exercise if everyone’s encouraged to speak candidly. Ask people to poke holes in your logic, to prove why your proposal won’t work, and to name every single thing that could possibly go wrong. The harder to tear down, the better the idea. Use the feedback to reformulate your idea until you’ve patched the flaws.

If you’re a team lead, this is even more critical. Sometimes you have to design new ways of working but you’re not the best person to do so because you’re not the closest to the facts on the ground—the people who work for you are. They can probably see the peril that lurks in a new idea right off the bat, and they’ll respect you more for recognizing that and hearing what they have to say.

 

Turn Ideas Into Action
In some ways, the idea is the easy part. The real challenge is executing.

If you think of ideas not as inventions that come out of thin air but as innovative solutions to complex problems, you and your team will have a better foundation for brainstorming.

And in the end, you’ll have a much easier time activating ideas if they’re vetted by a diverse group willing to provide constructive criticism, even if it means swallowing some pride and surrendering credit for the outcome.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-your-next-big-idea-should-come-from-a-team?ref=recently-published-2

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Newcastle business owners looking for compensation to reduce the impact of light rail construction have instead been offered advice and assistance from a service that’s already available to businesses across NSW.

It was NSW Small Business Commissioner Robyn Hobbs’ main offer of help to more than 120 business people she addressed in Newcastle on Wednesday at an emotionally-charged meeting that ended with shouting from the floor. Ms Hobbs also offered to be part of a new working group to help businesses in the coming months and said Newcastle traders that required mediation wouldn’t face the $750 fee that the final stage usually costs.

 But several CBD business owners spoke of the hardship that they and their neighbours had faced since construction had closed large sections of Hunter Street. They called for better access, compensation and a greater effort to draw people back into the city.

Paul Murphy, who owns Churchills Carpet Court, argued that the state government should make low-interest loans or grants available to businesses, similar to what was offered in the wake of the 1989 earthquake. Traffic engineer Ron Brown said the difficulties people currently faced driving into the city was “a big obstacle”.

Ms Hobbs said the situation in Sydney, where the government was granting rent relief to businesses in the light rail construction zone because of delays, was different from the Hunter’s situation.

While she was “not ruling out” advocating for a grant, loan or compensation program for Newcastle businesses, she cautioned that extensive investigations would have to take place before she would approach NSW Treasury.

“I appreciate the fact that you believe you are going through a disrupted period in your lives – and you are,” she said. “One of the difficult things is you have to live through it.”

Ms Hobbs said business owners were entitled to four free consultations with Business Connect, a support service available across NSW that can help sort out cash-flow problems, give social media advice, provide mediation and contact landlords on behalf of business owners.

Late in the meeting when Ms Hobbs was referring to the expected benefits light rail would bring to the city, an audience member yelled: “if we’re still here”.

Another attendee followed: “Newcastle businesses will be doing great when it’s all done, but they’ll be different businesses”.

Hunter Development Corporation CEO and Revitalising Newcastle project manager Michael Cassel also took questions and gave an update on the progress of the light rail project.

Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said the issue of assistance for businesses was “unresolved and something we are going to have to work on”.

Mr Hawes and executive manager of business advocacy group Newcastle Now Michael Neilson – whose groups organised the meeting at the suggestion of Ms Hobbs’ office – both said the key to getting through the difficult period was working together and “looking forward, not looking back”.

In a statement after the meeting, Mr Hawes said “there was a lot of emotion in the room” and business owners had delivered a clear message.

Call for access, not more advertising

If you ask Bernie Hockings, easing the pain of light rail construction for city businesses isn’t about getting the job done quicker – it’s about doing it “better”.

Mr Hockings, who owns Metro Cycles, was one of several frustrated business owners who made their feelings clear to NSW Small Business Commissioner Robyn Hobbs at a meeting on Wednesday. His comments came after Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel assured the gathering that the job was being completed as quickly as possible.

Mr Hockings dismissed suggestions from the crowd that loans or grants should be available to affected businesses – he said improving access to businesses should be the top priority.

“I don’t want more advertising, I want access. Do it better, not faster,” he said. “If you paid me to get out of my lease and out of the city, I would.”

He told the Herald he had been hesitant to speak up because when he had in the past, internet trolls targeted his business’ Facebook page.

 

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5186506/if-were-still-here-newcastle-traders-tell-small-business-commissioner-of-plight/

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Being stuck in a rut sucks. If there’s one thing I could wish for you, it’s that you never have to deal with a situation that holds you back from being happy, successful, or fulfilled.

That, unfortunately, is an unrealistic wish (even more unrealistic than wishing I could turn everything I touch into chocolate). Because like failure, ruts are inevitable. And the good news about that not-so-fun fact is that they ultimately help make us stronger, smarter, and more successful individuals.

Just look at a few people in your life who you admire—how many of them went through a struggle that forced them to reevaluate their goals or path?

Since I’m someone who doesn’t love surprises (except the birthday kind), I’m going to tell you right now exactly which ruts you’ll find yourself in throughout your career.

 

1. Being Bored
No matter how much you love your job, how many hours you work, or how large the pile of to-dos is on your desk, there will come a time when you will find yourself suddenly underwhelmed, unmotivated, or unstimulated at your job for days on end.

It could be for a number of reasons. Maybe your boss has stopped challenging you. Or, maybe you’re making the mistake of not seeking out challenges, or looking for exciting projects. Or, maybe you’ve found yourself in a new role that isn’t as exciting as you thought it would be.

Whatever the reason, boredom is usually pretty fixable. You can ask your boss for better projects, or see if you can chip in on what other teams are working on, or find ways to keep learning, like taking online classes or attending conferences related to your industry. If that still leaves you no better than you were before, it may be time to move on and find a role that’s more engaging.

2. Feeling Unhappy
Unhappiness is a more serious sign to keep an eye on.

Why is it so much more common than we realize? Because for one, we’re fickle beings—we’re always changing our minds and shifting our priorities. Which means the things we want in our careers now may change one, two, five years from now. That’s OK!

The other reason is because sometimes we’re really bad at recognizing when we’re miserable. We’ll place the blame on other things (woke up on the wrong side of the bed, had a bad commute, a crazy boss) rather than accept that something bigger is affecting us.Figure out what is making you unhappy and use that information to decide what your next steps will be.

Maybe it means transferring roles internally, changing companies, or switching industries entirely. Or maybe it’s even more simple than that. Maybe it’s talking to your boss about an overwhelming workload. Or asking your co-worker to stop talking to you when you’re working at your desk.

Whatever the cause, take the time to identify it and start making moves to solve it.

3. Doubting Your Career Path
Unless you’re very lucky, you won’t find yourself satisfied in the same role in the same industry throughout your entire career.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re unsure about what you want to do next—even if you’ve spent 10 years in your role and are now doubting everything. The good news is that it’s never too late to make a change, whatever that means for you. The even better news is that you don’t have to have it all figured out when you’re 30, 40, 50.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “When you are finished changing, you’re finished.” Don’t be finished.

 

4. Feeling Like Nothing’s Going Right
Ever have those months when nothing’s going right? You keep messing up basic tasks, your manager keeps sending your work back with heavy revisions, your co-workers keep shutting down your ideas?

It could be your fault—if you’re job searching, for example, and getting nowhere, it might be worth reconsidering you’re approach.

But it could also be due to external forces, like a company restructuring or a bad boss. If so, it’s worth figuring out whether these can be fixed, and if not, what steps you can take to better set yourself up for success.

 

5. Having to Deal With a (Big) Change
Your company just went through a huge merger, half your department got laid off, you got laid off, they brought in a new boss, or oyou’ve moved to an entirely new city for a job.

One day, something major will happen that will shake up how you do things and think about your career. While it’s practically impossible to prepare for something like this, remember that it’s common. And, that it’s salvageable. And, that the feelings of loss and doubt and frustration and sadness won’t last forever. And, that you’ll come out stronger and more equipped to handle anything that comes your way. If you don’t believe me, read this.

 

The last thing I want to emphasize is that it’s easy to feel alone when you’re in these ruts, or that no one understands what you’re going through. But I can confidently tell you that everyone experiences these. Why else would I write this article?

So, don’t be afraid to admit when you’re in one—if you don’t, you’ll regret not making a change sooner. And if you still feel like the only one, chat with people just like you (and get some reassuring advice) on our Stuck in a Rut discussions platform.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/career-ruts-everyone-will-get-into-some-point?ref=recently-published-1

 

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Worried what your boss thinks of you—if they like you, trust you, and think your contributions match up to their expectations?

If so, you’re not alone. Considering you’ll end up spending 10 years of your life at work, getting along with your boss is not only critical to succeeding in your career, but matters for your overall happiness and engagement at the office.

With that in mind, here are three easy ways to develop an effective, productive, and mutually rewarding relationship with your manager (even if they’re a tough cookie to crack):

1. Stop Using Email to Have Important Conversations
Is email your go-to forum for everything? In certain cases, it could be hurting your relationship. Even if it’s your manager’s favorite medium, it’s time to break the pattern of always relying on this.

Opt for in-person meetings if the conversation’s beyond a task or agenda-setting item—for example, if you’re asking for something or apologizing for a mistake. Not only is it just polite, it’ll most likely lead to a more productive discussion and help ensure you and your boss are truly on the same page.

“All of us are the worst possible version of ourselves in digital media,” adds Celeste Headlee, journalist and author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. “We might think we are persuasive in email, but scientifically, we are so much more persuasive in person.”

2. See Your Relationship With Your Boss as a Two-Way Street
Too often, we see ourselves as the executors and our managers as the creators of work, forgetting that our manager is also responsible for their own assignments.

So, if you want to immediately improve your relationship, ask them this simple question: “What can I do for you?” By opening up this conversation, you open the door for them to delegate projects they may not have otherwise considered. And, taking on stretch assignments can improve your visibility and lead to career advancement.

3. Be a Good Recipient of Feedback (and Ask Pointed Questions)

Get in the mindset that you want actual, honest feedback—and be physically ready for it.
Even if the feedback seems insensitive, kindly explain how the approach hurt your feelings, but then ask questions to get at the root of the problem, making it clear you really do want to improve. If you’re a good feedback recipient, your boss will be more likely to share valuable advice with you, which will ultimately help you grow.

And, if you’re finding that you only getting positive feedback, ask your manager to be more specific, or try mentioning something you wish you’d handled differently.

“If you open a dialogue with self-reflection, you give your boss—who might be uncomfortable giving you criticism—the opportunity to go on the learning journey with you,” advises Denise Cox, VP of Technical Services at Cisco Systems.

Finally, don’t wait for periodic reviews to get constructive feedback. If you can, ask your manager to schedule time to meet one-on-one weekly or monthly.

Research by Gallup shows that 50% of employees leave their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career,” which means building the right kind of relationship with your boss can make a real difference to your job satisfaction and career progression. Plus, it’ll make your friends and family find you much more enjoyable to be around outside of work.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/tips-creating-productive-relationship-boss?ref=recently-published-0

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The prospect of returning to work after years away from my career was daunting. I faced a host of challenges: a lack of recent and relevant experience, outdated corporate skills, and uncertainty about my Baby Boomer place in a Millennial-focused world.

I still thought, however, based upon my early career success and an advanced degree in my field, that I’d get a great offer in no time. It didn’t happen. My strategy—jumping into a role that was the wrong fit (and later leaving), followed by picking up consulting gigs here and there and then trying to explain it all in a resume with gaps and changes—was failing. I needed a strategic shift.

So I changed everything, from how I was approaching the job search process to my end goal. As a result, I applied for and landed a returnship, with Goldman Sachs. (If you’ve never heard of it, a returnship is an internship for people returning to the workforce.) It enabled me to add current and substantive experience to my resume, and reset my career path so I could once again move forward.

Here are the six most important lessons I learned in my quest to get back on track.

1. Update Your Online Presence
Being a somewhat tech-savvy boomer, I had a LinkedIn profile.

But too many people have ones that are lackluster or outdated. If that’s you, place this at the top of your to-do list. Both recruiters and hiring managers use the site to find and screen candidates.

I left off dates for my degrees to minimize age bias, and truncated my experience to the past 10 to 15 years (I recommend you do the same!).

2. Network—Always
You may think that networking is just for young professionals who need to meet new people. That’s simply not true. It’s beneficial regardless of your age.

For example, I had a friend put in a good word for me, and I know that helped me to be considered for the role at Goldman.

Here are four things you should start doing (if you’re not already):

Periodically touch base with professional contacts. Be memorable by sending a personal note and an interesting article once a month.
Let the other person know that you respect their time by being specific when you have an “ask.” Say (or write): “I’d really appreciate your perspective—can we speak/meet for 15 minutes?” And then stick with that time commitment.
Extend your network. Ask your contacts to connect you with their contacts.
Follow-up with a thank you note, every time. Take it to the next level by offering to be of help if they ever need your perspective or expertise.

3. Make it Easy for People to Help You
If you’re asking someone to refer you, give them everything they need, so they can simply send along your details.

So, if you’re applying to a role at their company, this includes the job name, job number, your resume, and bullets outlining what skills and experience you’d bring that match the requirements for the role.

People are busy, and so if you give them a complete email they can simply forward, it’s a lot more likely it’ll get passed on.

4. Refine Your Elevator Pitch
When you’ve had a lot of experience, it’s important (though often hard) to be clear about your objectives.

What are your areas of expertise?

What type of role are you looking for?

It’ll be tempting to rattle off everything you’ve done in the past, or say, “I can really do anything.” But a long speech can be overwhelming for listeners—and can make you look overqualified—and unfocused. So, cut it down and zero in on one thing you want the other person to come away with. My rule of thumb is that it should be no longer than 30 seconds.

5. Practice Self-Care
Unreturned emails, closed doors, and rejection all sting. But, it happens to pretty much everyone, especially when you’re outside the “sweet spot” of hiring prospects.

There’ll be surprises for better and worse: People that you’d have bet would be right there to help aren’t; and people you barely knew will do all they can.

So, it’s all the more important to be kind to yourself: go the gym, meet friends, and see a movie! That stuff may seem frivolous when you’re job searching, but it’ll help you feel happier—and keep you from letting your identity be wrapped up in your professional life.

6. Pay it Forward
Once you’ve landed in your new role, do what you can to help a colleague or friend of a friend. It could be at work, like offering to mentor junior employees.

Or, it could be that someone contacts you seeking your advice. Remember how you felt when you were job searching and do your best to find the time!

And of course, when you’re hiring in the future, give those who’ve had winding career paths a second look.

After my 10-week returnship program ended, I was asked to stay on for another year—and I did, happily. When my role recently came to an end, leaving Goldman Sachs was bittersweet.

But one thing that made me feel better is that I knew I was ready to find my next, more permanent position. On this search, I have not only a solid and recent accomplishment to leverage, but all of the lessons I’ve learned the last time around, as well as some new and treasured Millennial friends.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-6-best-job-search-lessons-i-learned-after-10-years-away-best-of?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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Whether you consider this fact disheartening or motivating, you can’t deny its truth: You probably spend more time with your co-workers than you do with anyone else.

When you’re in the office at least 40 hours per week, the people you work with become a big part of your life. So it pays to have solid relationships with them.

Not only does that give you a strategic advantage in the workplace (hey, it never hurts to be well-liked!), it also makes work that much more enjoyable.

If you don’t consider yourself particularly close with your colleagues, don’t worry—cultivating a more caring and supportive atmosphere at work doesn’t need to be a complicated undertaking.

Here are four super simple things you can do to show your co-workers that you care and, as a result, make your office a place that you look forward to spending time in.

1. Offer Help

Think of the last time you were struggling at work. Maybe you were swamped and overwhelmed, or perhaps you were stuck on a challenging project.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had stopped by your desk and provided some advice? Or even offered to take something off your plate? Wouldn’t that alone have made you feel so much more valued and supported?

Absolutely. So, why not do that same thing for a colleague? When you see someone who’s stressed or confused, just ask: Is there anything I can do to help?

Even if your co-worker doesn’t actually take you up on your offer, just the fact that you recognized the challenge and wanted to do something about it goes a long way in fostering a more empathetic culture.

2. Get Personal

No, you don’t need to get too personal—after all, you’re still in the office.

But, even though you’re in a work setting, aim to forge a relationship with the whole person—not just a job title.

This means that the more you can get to know about your colleagues’ interests and passions outside the office, the easier it will be to connect with them on a more human level.

Whether it’s asking about his marathon training or admiring her desktop background featuring a photo from her recent vacation, don’t neglect to strike up the occasional small talk. Doing so will demonstrate your investment in them, while also giving you common ground that you can use to connect even further.

3. Provide Recognition

Everybody loves to get a pat on the back for a job well done—that’s universal. But gratitude and adequate recognition can easily fall by the wayside when we’re wrapped up in the chaos of our everyday lives.

Step up and be that colleague who always applauds the hard work of your team members. Maybe that involves sending a quick Slack message to let her know how much you enjoyed her presentation. Or, perhaps it means highlighting your co-worker’s contributions when your boss commends you for your own hard work on a recent project.

These sorts of comments might seem small, but they can make a huge impact when it comes to helping others in your office feel valued.

4. Do Something Nice

Little acts of kindness won’t go unnoticed—particularly in the office. So, when’s the last time you did something nice just because you felt like it?

Go ahead and pick up some bagels on your way into work one morning (when in doubt, free food is always effective). When you’re heading out for lunch, ask that colleague who looks insanely busy if you can get anything for him.

Your co-workers are sure to appreciate those little niceties and treats that you sneak in every now and then. Plus, as an added bonus, doing these sorts of things makes you feel good too!

These four strategies are great for showing your co-workers that you actually care about them. And they’re incredibly simple and take almost zero effort on your part.

So, if you’re eager to forge better, more supportive relationships with your colleagues (and if you aren’t, you definitely should be!), put these four tips to work. You’re sure to become one of the most-liked people in your office—while simultaneously cultivating a more positive atmosphere for your entire team.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-easy-things-you-can-do-to-show-your-coworkers-you-care?ref=recently-published-1

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For Tourism Hunter chairman Will Creedon, the Newcastle 500 Supercars event was a success before a single race was run on the weekend.

“People are starting to see the significance of events,” Mr Creedon said, “and the emergence of the visitor economy. That is really, really satisfying. A lot of people in our region have been harping about what tourism can do. This is one of the events. It doesn’t matter if it is Supercars. It is how we have set ourselves up.

“A lot of people have worked hard. Some will never be known. I want to thank them. By having such a major event it allows us our next step.”

He offers a bevy of events in Newcastle and the Hunter over the past 10 years that have proved the region has the infrastructure in place to hold a major event like Supercars. He reels off a list of acquired strengths – volunteers, police, business support and industry. And the events that preceded Supercars: Special Olympics, World Youth Games, Asian Cup and home-grown festivals like Steamfest in Maitland.

Mr Creedon’s busy mind is already focused on the next big thing.

“Our first major event just happened to be Supercars,” he said. “The thing is, it’s the first major event. That is really important. For me, it is about where do we set ourselves up for in the future.”

One creative idea floated by Creedon: why not take advantage of the massive temporary infrastructure and road closures put in place for the Supercars event, perhaps as early as next year. The concept: immediately after the Supercars host a convention around engineering technologies and other smart technologies, drawing the best from Asia and the Hunter region.

He is also an advocate for the property along Newcastle’s foreshore from Nobbys lighthouse all the way to Wickham coming under separate management.

“I believe we need an authority to program and drive that area,” he said. “I’m not talking buildings, I’m talking about activities, events, things that enrich our everyday lives. By default, it will enhance cruise activities. It will enhance the reason to live here.”

Mr Creedon envisions it as a “global playground” capable of drawing 400,000 visitors on a weekend.

Turning the old Newcastle train station into a vital tourism drawcard is essential, he said. “It’s not about the built form. You can be really clever there.”

He said the location could be “our Statue of Liberty”.

So many changes in the past five years have already contributed to Newcastle becoming a buzz city to others around the nation and world, he said.

“We don’t know how great we are, and how great we can be,” he said.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5079077/supercars-are-one-giant-step-for-hunter/

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Meetings are expensive. Not because you’re charging people to attend (obviously), but because they use people’s time; time that could be spent doing lots of other revenue-generating things. In fact, one study found that a recurring meeting of mid-level managers was costing one company $15 million a year!.

$15 million a year!

Not to mention, you also need to take into account the prep time as well as the context-switching time. Professor Gloria Mark at University of California, Irvine found that it takes an average of 25 minutes for a worker to return to their original task after an interruption.

Knowing these stats means that when I’m debating whether I need to call a meeting, I ask myself what it’s worth (literally). Is this the best use of everyone’s time, mine included? And not so infrequently, the answer is “nope.”

So, what to do then? Easy! Send a simple but critical email to keep everyone informed and on track.

What to Include

There are three key things you need to cover:

Logistics: why the meeting was canceled and, if it’s a recurring meeting, what to expect for next time
Action: any critical action items completed or pending
Information: any updates or general FYIs for the group

Note: Don’t fall into the trap of putting the action items and logistics last. Having the most critical information higher up ensures that it’s seen when your colleagues skim their email. Oh, and a bonus tip for you: Put people’s names in bold if they need to do anything to make triple sure they notice.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/turn-meeting-into-an-email-template

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Fact: Working with other people is hard. Even when you like them.

And over the years, I’ve tried different strategies to improve relationships (or, at the very least, prevent myself from freaking out in people’s faces).

But then, last year, I started going to therapy to deal with a situation outside the office. And I was surprised to realise that a lot of the advice I was getting could be applied to the workplace, too.

In fact, by using these therapist-approved strategies, I’m able to deal with difficult work situations much better now. So, before you let co-workers drive you up another wall, here are three new things to try.

1. Validate the Person’s Feelings Before You Do Anything Else

You know that passive aggressive co-worker who drives you nuts? Dealing with their behaviour can be super annoying!

Now, most of us don’t need therapy to recognise that we don’t have any control over others’ moods or behavior. But, instead of getting irritated about it, my therapist taught me a trick that makes that reality way easier to accept. All I have to do is imagine why someone might be acting the way they are, identify how I would feel if I were in their position, and then validate that feeling.

For example, if a client asks me to turn a project in sooner than we’d initially agreed and then gets annoyed when I say no, I’ll first try to identify why they might be making this request. Maybe their boss is putting pressure on them. If that were me, I’d be feeling really stressed out. And, I’d be disappointed if my request for an accelerated deadline were turned down. So, I’ll tell my client, “I imagine that this is probably disappointing for you.”

I know it sounds a little hokey, but this works wonders. By trying to empathise (even if I think the person’s wrong) and then validating what they’re feeling, I’m able to shift my attitude from frustration to empathy.

And, the client feels heard, too. Nine times out of 10, they’ll calmly reply, “Yes, I do feel disappointed.” It’s like identifying the feeling takes the hot air out of the situation. I’m then able to reiterate that I can’t accommodate an earlier deadline without things escalating.
2. Say What You’re Actually Thinking—and Say it Clearly

When I used to find myself in an awkward situation, I’d usually scramble to make things less awkward as quickly as possible. This usually meant bending over backward to make the other person happy, with no regard for my needs or feelings.

Now, I use a simple formula that I learned in therapy to clearly and concisely make my point:

the change I’d like + why the current option isn’t working + why my preference is better

For example, I had a client who said she hated my proposal. I’m perfectly fine with constructive feedback, but telling me you hate something doesn’t help me at all. So I said, “I’d like us to communicate with each other more respectfully because telling me you hate something doesn’t feel constructive. I’d prefer if you provided me with specific feedback about what isn’t working for you because that’ll help me to to deliver the work product you’re looking for.”

She immediately apologised and we were able to get on the same page from there.

As I’ve become more comfortable telling people what does or doesn’t work for me, being more assertive has gotten less scary. Even better, it’s made my working relationships stronger and more honest.
3. Set Boundaries

I’m a recovering people pleaser with a serious compulsion to say “No problem!” without even thinking. This usually leads to me feeling stressed and resentful, which isn’t good for me (or fair to my co-workers).

Getting comfortable with setting boundaries has made a huge difference. When a client asks me to sit in on a last-minute meeting or my boss wants me to work late, I now pause and consider whether or not it’s something I am willing and able to take on. If it’s not, I simply say, “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me.” If it makes, sense, I’ll offer up a reason or an alternative solution. But sometimes, no just means no.

I’ve learned that setting boundaries can also be a proactive exercise. I’ll often tell new clients up front that I don’t check emails over the weekend or that I need a full 24 hours to respond to new requests. Managing expectations and setting boundaries from the start helps me to avoid annoying or uncomfortable situations in the future.

In no way am I suggesting that you should start saying no to every request from your boss, or setting ridiculous boundaries with your co-workers. These relationships are two-way streets, and you’ll sometimes need to bend to accommodate others.

I also understand that not everyone can turn down their manager when she asks them to work late or to avoid email all weekend—everyone’s boundaries will be different. But, learning about these strategies has made it way easier for me to navigate difficult and uncomfortable situations, so I’m pretty sure that they’ll work for you, too.
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-strategies-thatll-make-working-with-people-easier-because-its-hard?ref=carousel-slide-2

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A Facebook post has sparked a storm of nostalgic excitement among the Newcastle community.

Could beloved restaurant Big Al’s be reopening in Newcastle?

That was the promise from a mystery hospitality operator on Facebook on Saturday.

Thousands of Novocastrians were ecstatic with the news, but no further information has been released.

Fairfax Media attempted to make contact with the anonymous poster and received this message in response.

“Thank you for you interest in the return of the iconic Big Al’s Family Restaurant. The social media response to our post has been overwhelming, with a reach of over 180,000 people. We won’t be releasing any further details at this early stage. However, the relaunch of Big Al’s will involve experienced hospitality operators, carefully recreating the sandwich and subs which everyone has come to know and love. We will be releasing more details over the coming months for a relaunch in the first half of 2018. Thank you.”

It looks like the popular family restaurant, which closed in October 2006, really is due for a comeback.

The burgers, the fries, the little red plastic baskets and all. It is almost too much to handle!
Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5006007/big-als-could-be-in-for-a-big-comeback/

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Can you get me a job at your company, please?

Do you know the CEO—and can I talk to her?

Want to see my resume? It’s awesome, I swear.

These are the things we’d like to say to people when we’re networking, but for obvious reasons can’t.

So, the question always becomes, what can we ask?

I recently read Molly Beck’s book Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence. And in it, she breaks down the art of networking into bite-sized steps—one of which talks about good versus bad favours.

The concept is simple: Some things you choose to ask your network are better than others. And this means the difference between someone wanting to help you out and someone wanting nothing to do with your request.

If you read the quotes above and cringed at the thought of saying them to someone you knew, you already know what a bad favour is.

So, what makes a good favour?

“The key to a great favour is to ask a particular, definable question whose answer cannot be found on Google and can be answered easily in a paragraph or so via email,” says Beck in the book.

Let’s break that down a bit more:

 

It Should Be Specific

Your ask should be tailored to the person and not super open-ended. Beck gives the example “Can I pick your brain?” as both being way too vague and asking too much of someone (and for free, mind you). You’re better off saying something like, “What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into finance like yourself?”

 

It Should Be Non-Googleable

Don’t ask someone a question that you can look up yourself. Beck uses “What open jobs does your company have?” as an example that you could easily search on your own time.

 

It Should Be Short

Many of your requests will be sent over email to someone who’s already pretty busy, Beck points out, so they should be able to answer it without spending hours crafting a response.

 

Now of course, if the person seems excited to chat with you, you can ask to meet in person. But, Beck suggests, “If and when people say yes, keep in mind that you are working around their schedule, not yours, and you should be traveling to go to a place that’s easy for them to get to. Additionally, when you do meet for coffee or even a meal, you should be paying for them.”

Finally, the author says, every favour should come with a gift. Because this person is going out of their way for you, you should do the same—meaning you should include at least two beneficial things in your initial reach-out. Now, before you worry that you have to send a fruit basket and a bottle of wine every time you ask someone to grab coffee, don’t. It can be as simple as a compliment, a book recommendation, or an introduction to someone you think they would benefit from knowing.

(But if they end up helping you out in a big way, you might want to send them one of these thank you items.)

One of the most memorable favours I’ve ever gotten asked was when a reader of my blog emailed me to say that her friend was a big fan of my writing, and would I consider doing a birthday shout-out on the blog to her? It made my day that she and her friend thought so highly of my blog, and it was such a cool way to make someone feel special on their birthday. Of course I said yes. That super-unique favour opened up a great line of communication between all three of us.

Your request may be simpler (or, even more complicated) than this, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth asking. If you follow the guidelines above, you’ll make it that much easier for someone to say yes—and be excited about it, too.
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/a-networking-expert-on-how-to-ask-people-for-career-favors-and-get-a-yes?ref=carousel-slide-3

Let’s be real for a second. These days, many of us live in a world of excess, where more is definitely better. We heap our plates full with seconds when we’re already full, overstuff a drawer with t-shirts we’ll never wear again, and ensure that we own at least 20 mugs. (I know, I know—each of those mugs serves a very specific purpose.)

Often, we apply this “more is more” principle to our professional lives, too. Clocking in at the crack of dawn and logging off only when our eyelids can’t stay open anymore are often heralded as hallmarks of star employees.

But, I have news for you: This type of lifestyle is not necessary for success, growth, or job satisfaction. In fact, I’d argue that it can actually hurt you (but that’s a story for a different day).

The main message here is: You can be the apple of your manager’s eye even if you don’t make working overtime a habit. Provided of course that when you’re in the office, you’re kicking ass, completing everything assigned, and turning it on time.

Ready to start leaving before dinner time? I recommend making these three things habits:

1. Stay Engaged

I used to bring my laptop to every single meeting. And, without a doubt, I’d spend the entire time answering emails, surfing random sites, and chatting with friends.

Now that I work in an office where this isn’t the norm, I realize just how annoying it is. A surefire way to signal that you don’t care about your job or your teammates (even if that isn’t necessarily true), is to spend your time with them with your eyes glued to a screen.

Instead, be present in meetings and all other conversations you have. Ask questions, provide helpful feedback and context, and flex those active listening muscles.

And yes, this applies to remote workers, too. Working off site doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to communication. If anything, you’ll probably need to make a bit more of an effort, but it’s worth it if it means you’re staying in the loop and others are, too.

2. Know When to Say “Yes” and When to Say “No”

Lending a colleague a hand or volunteering to take the lead on a new project are invaluable characteristics, and there’s an added bonus if you can anticipate needs and offer your services before someone needs to ask.

It’ll show that you’re a go-getter, a team player, and someone who wants to learn and grow. It’s a big plus for a supervisor if his staff isn’t constantly muttering, “That’s not my job.”

But—but—this doesn’t, in any way, mean you should be a “yes person.” It’s also crucial to know when and how to turn down requests for help, new assignments, and so forth. Putting too much on your plate is a recipe for becoming severely overwhelmed.

You may start producing shoddy work or missing deadlines completely, and, well, neither of those are invaluable characteristics. The key is knowing not just how much you can fit on your plate, but how much you can execute at a high-quality rate.

So if you’re at the point in which you can feel yourself starting to slip, say no.

3. Check in With Your Boss Regularly

In each position I’ve had, my manager and I met regularly. And, I admit—these times weren’t always helpful. Sometimes, it was because my supervisor always canceled them (thanks). But other times it was because I just wanted it to be over as quickly as possible, so I didn’t say much.

That was a mistake. This one-on-one time is so important. It’s your time to update her on your progress, ask for help, discuss career goals, and get to know each other a little bit better.

Taking these meetings seriously will reassure your boss that you are, in fact, doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and it’ll also signal that you care. And caring is a big part of being a good employee.

And hey—If you don’t have regular time like this on your calendar, I highly recommend requesting it.

Yes—there will be occasions in which you need to put in a little extra time. But that doesn’t have to be an ongoing theme in your life. I’m here to tell you that you can be a rock star employee and live a life outside of work.
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-be-a-hardworking-employee-without-sacrificing-your-personal-life?ref=carousel-slide-1

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MORE than 400 job seekers with a disability have been hired by Hunter businesses in the past 12 months, according to leading employment services provider, APM.

APM has been promoting the benefits of employment for people with illnesses, injuries or disability, and supporting employers in the region, since 2002.

Since October last year the company, which is Australia’s largest provider of Disability Employment Services (DES), achieved 426 successful job placements for throughout the Hunter.

As well as supporting job seekers through applications, interviews and training, the service works with employers to match potential employees to positions in their business.

APM’s Regional Manager for DES, Kate Falkenmire, said their teams work with job seekers from all backgrounds and with a range of disabilities to seek out the sustainable employment options across the region.

The service also helps local businesses access government wage subsidies and access funds for new equipment, workplace modifications or training required to assist a job seeker when they start work.

The Smith Family Trust owner Doug Smith recently hired job seeker Shane Riley through APM. Shane is the fifth person he has employed through the company and Doug said he regularly makes use of the support APM offers.

“They assisted with the end-to-end recruitment and have been providing regular support for over six months for my employees in the workplace,” he said.

Building on the success of their DES program, APM recently launched its first service to specifically help young job seekers across Hunter and the Central Coast.

APM YES (Youth Employment Services) looks to engage school leavers and people aged 15 to 24, and help boost their prospects of finding employment after leaving the classroom. While also helping local businesses fill their hiring gaps.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4968945/bring-down-barriers-with-apm-services/

1

Your first few weeks at a new job can be exhilarating. It’s often fast-paced and full of brand new things that can reignite a spark that you lost. After all, that might’ve been your reason for looking for this new gig in the first place.

But, it can also be overwhelming. And when you look at all the meetings on your calendar, you might think that your goal is to survive it. You can always go back and re-learn anything you missed this week, right?

And in a lot of ways, that’s true. Nobody expects you to master everything you learn during your first month, especially when it comes to understanding the finer details about your company. But there is an important question you should ask in every meeting you have (when it makes sense, of course):

How can my work make your life easier?

You might be thinking, “I barely know where the coffee machine is! How can I think about helping anyone else right now?” And that’s totally fair. But on my first day at my current job, my boss suggested that I set up meetings with everyone on my team and ask each of them this question. It was terrifying, and if I’m being honest, I really didn’t want to do it. But I didn’t want to disappoint my new boss more, so I got over my fear and piped up.

And when I did, I was pleasantly surprised by how it went.

Some people had really strong opinions. Others told me that they hadn’t even thought about it, but appreciated that I opened the conversation with that question. But what I ultimately learned was that your intro meetings don’t have to be a one-way street.

As much as you have to learn, it’s important to remember that you were hired to bring something different to the table—and you can do that as early as your first week on the job.

Again, I’m not going to pretend that this won’t be uncomfortable. I also understand that in some meetings, this will be seen as completely out-of-context. But when the opportunity presents itself and it feels like the next natural thing to say—challenge yourself to say it.

And then, before you worry you’re putting too much on your plate, know that you can respond with, “That’s really interesting to hear, once I’m completely onboarded, I’d love to find more time to discuss how can I start making this happen.”

I know. Asking this question might not make your first month any easier, but it’ll make the exact right impression on your new team. Not to mention, it’ll set you up to prioritize your tasks correctly. So take a deep breath and do it!

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-question-to-ask-when-youre-new-at-work?ref=carousel-slide-3

1

The Hunter Region’s lack of highly-paid jobs could be greatly improved with a much bigger injection of state infrastructure funding, a leading academic says.

This lack of higher incomes meant less consumption and less opportunity, University of Western Sydney Professor Phillip O’Neill said

Only 6 per cent of Hunter residents earn more than $2000 a week, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

The Hunter is slightly ahead of its regional neighbour, the Central Coast, an area where 5 per cent of citizens earn that kind of money.

In Sydney’s eastern suburbs, 17 per cent of people make more than $2000 a week.

Professor O’Neill, who teaches geography and urban studies, said there was an absence in the Hunter of “very highly paid professional services occupations, in particular law and finance”.

The decline of heavy industry like BHP and the sale of coal mines to global corporations added to a lack of senior positions, he said.

An exodus of senior positions in the region’s public sector since the 1980s and 1990s was also a factor.

Professor O’Neill said the Hunter had its positives, including a world-class university and TAFE, but “a lot of graduates from those institutions are forced to leave the region” to get good jobs.

Other attractive attributes included Newcastle Airport, the M1 motorway and Newcastle’s harbourside location.

But by world standards, the region was not competitive enough, he said.

He said it was difficult to think of any solution, other than a concerted government effort to attract a core of quality employers.

“There are good lessons in Australia to how governments can build concentrations of work,” he said.

“One is the Barangaroo project in Sydney.”

He said the NSW government had built infrastructure and partnered with the private sector to create this precinct.

“Barangaroo will yield 25,000 high-quality professional services jobs,” he said.

“If it takes that sort of effort to generate that number of jobs on the edge of Sydney Harbour in the middle of a global city, why would governments think that jobs can somehow spring up spontaneously in a regional city without similar effort?”

While the NSW government is spending $650 million to revitalise Newcastle, it is spending much more at Barangaroo.

Additionally, it is spending billions on the Sydney Metro rail system, which will have a station at Barangaroo.

“Every successful professional services conglomeration has excellent amenity for workers and high-speed transport and telecommunications connections,” Professor O’Neill, who lives in the Hunter, said.

Investment in Newcastle was “unbalanced because it’s biased towards residential”.

“It’s high quality residential and, no doubt, it’s the type of development that would attract qualified young professionals,” he said.

“But we don’t see the type of commercial and infrastructure development that significant employers would be looking for to invest in downtown Newcastle.”

As such, apartments would more likely attract retirees than workers, he said.

Newcastle City Council said it had, for years, been working with Hunter Development Corporation, Urban Growth and the Department of Planning to revitalise the city centre.

“Council has also examined the future role of Wickham, adjacent to the new commercial core, through the recently released master plan for the suburb,” a spokesman said.

“The vision sees Wickham evolving into a diverse and dynamic mixed-use precinct.

“As part of the master plan, proposals are being considered to increase building heights along the rail corridor to help promote the growth of employment opportunities, including service industries.”

Professor O’Neill said the Hunter was evolving into “a broader service-based economy”.

“The sorts of jobs that are typical of a population-based service sector aren’t highly-paid positions,” he said.

“They also include a higher proportion of casual and part-time positions.

“This gives you a larger number of people in the $20,000 to $30,000 a year bracket – almost certainly they are part-time and casual workers.”

The ABS figures show that 30 per cent of Hunter residents earn $15,600 to $41,600 a year.

Professor O’Neill said the coal industry had provided numerous jobs worth more than $100,000 over the last decade.

“Those coal numbers have backed away in recent years,” he said.

“There isn’t a high concentration of occupations in the Hunter that pay in excess of $100,000 per annum, at least as far as wages and salary earners are concerned.

“If anything, the likelihood of finding those jobs is diminishing.”

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4941580/how-newcastle-could-attract-the-big-bucks-photos-poll/

yoga

Yoga is often bandied about as something for the ultra hip but one group of dedicated yogis is using the practice to help frontline workers combat the ongoing stress of their professions.

Frontline Yoga offers free classes to those who serve on the frontline — from defence members to emergency services workers.

The charity is based in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, but yoga teachers from all over Australia are now learning the Frontline principles so they can offer classes in their towns too.

“We ask the yoga teachers to stand at the front of the class and be predictable in their movements.

“Students are free to keep their eyes open, to get up and walk out of the class and we also have [students] facing the door.”

The guidelines have been created in collaboration with frontline workers who were coincidentally attending yoga classes.

“I had feedback about the subtle but ongoing benefits in their lives,” Ms O’Donoghue said.

“I started thinking if it was working so well for this particular group, surely there’s a lot of other industries working with stress and exposure to trauma who could benefit.”

Personal experience

Ms O’Donoghue said she used her personal exposure to front line work to inform her classes.

“My foster father was the state commissioner for St Johns [and] my [biological] father was really quite severely impacted by PTSD.

“As a child you just adapt and modify [and] I was always striving to make him more comfortable.”

Ms O’Donoghue said Frontline Yoga was battling to change the stigma around mental health.

“I don’t see a broken person, I don’t see a helpless person,” she said.

“I’m amazed. If that person could have done one activity that day — and maybe that is the only activity they’re doing — and they’ve chosen to come to my yoga class, I can’t help but be completely overwhelmed with gratitude.”

Former RAAF combat engineer Chris Thompson-Lang has trained as a yoga teacher to help with his own PTSD and depression and is a co-founder of Frontline Yoga.

“I came to start practicing yoga in Canberra two years after returning from Afghanistan,” he said.

“Things weren’t going well for me — I’d had a marriage breakdown, I was struggling with my personal connections and drinking a lot.

“[Yoga] is something that I need to stay focused on because if I stop practising, I go back to some of my old habits and I do notice that spiral.

“It takes a fair bit of self-discipline but fortunately, the military gave me that and it’s something we can all take with us.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-14/yoga-helping-frontline-workers-combat-mental-health-issues/8944556

1

You know those days when you leave work feeling amazing, pumped that you were highly productive? On the flipside, I’m sure you have days that are just the opposite. Ones that leave you feeling frustrated, wondering whether you got anything done. What if there was a way to end every day knowing that it was successful?

Unfortunately, there’s no bulletproof formula to guarantee this, but there are certain practices you can follow that’ll help.

Here are five habits that, if practiced daily, can boost your success at work:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Gratitude journals have grown wildly popular and I can understand why. Earlier this year, I started a journal and committed to writing down one thing I’m grateful for every day. At 159 days in, I’m still going strong. I found that expressing gratitude every morning before work gets me in the right mindset and helps me prepare for the day’s challenges.

But don’t take my word for it. A study by UCLA found that people who regularly wrote down what they were grateful for were more optimistic and cheerful than those who didn’t. Interestingly, they also had fewer doctor visits and fewer work absences. Expressing gratitude daily is a simple, quick practice that has a massive impact, and there’s even an app for it in case you’re not a fan of physical journaling like I am.

2. Reduce Context Switching

Context switching is when you jump between various, unrelated tasks. You’re heads down on a project but get interrupted by an urgent message. A few minutes later, a conversation between co-workers distracts you, and, after you finally refocus, you remember an email you should have responded to earlier in the day. Does this sound like your day?

While rapid context switching may seem like the norm of the modern worker, Jessica Harris from Trello explains how it comes at a high cost:

We spend an average of just one minute and 15 seconds on a task before being interrupted.

It takes an average of 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted.

Heavily multitasking can temporarily lower your IQ by up to 15 points.

You probably can’t eliminate context switching altogether, but being mindful of the productivity damage it causes will allow you to create rules to avoid distraction (more on that in a second).

3. Create “If/When-Then” Plans

I learned about this habit from Robert Cialdini’s book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Here’s how it works. You pick a cue, then pick a desirable action that you can link to that cue. Here are a few “if/when-then” rules I follow:

If/when I need to work without interruption, then I leave my desk and find a drop-by room.
If/when it’s time to eat lunch, then I order a salad. Boring, I know.
If/when I get a calendar invite for Thursday (when my company has a no-meeting policy), then I move the meeting to a different day.
Research suggests that people who use “if/when-then” planning are between two and three times more likely to achieve their goals. This type of planning is effective because you’re proactively creating automatic responses. When situations arise that might prevent you from reaching your long-term goals, you’ve already decided how you’ll act.

4. Exercise—Even if Only for a Few Minutes

You know you should exercise—the benefits are significant. But knowing isn’t the tough part—it’s finding time in your busy schedule to make it happen.

Running, cycling, or going to the gym may be ideal, but all you really need is a few minutes. One option is the 7-Minute Workout. It’s an intense workout you can do almost anywhere and is proven to deliver results.

Taking a short break to go on a walk is a great way to reduce stress. A few years back I committed to going on one walk in the middle of the workday.

These quick strolls elevated my heart rate, for just a few minutes, and it enabled me to go back to my work with renewed focus. So, even if you don’t have time to hit the gym, exercising for only a few minutes each day is still worth it.

5. Have a Shutdown Ritual

Eric Barker, a best-selling author who wrote an entire book on success, teaches the importance of having a “shutdown ritual” in which you take the time to close out the day’s business and prepare for tomorrow. His research found that the simple act of writing down the things you need to take care of the next day can settle your brain and help you relax.

My shutdown ritual includes making a concise list (no more than three) of the most important things I need to do the next day. Since committing to this practice I’ve found that I think less about work when I’m out of the office. My ritual also includes cleaning my desk and shutting down my laptop, practices signaling that my work day has come to an end.

It turns out that implementing this has been found to relieve anxiety and help you enjoy your evening.

One final thought. While each of these five habits is intended to help you be more successful, it’s important to also pause and take a moment to define what success means to you.

These are guidelines, and, ultimately, you’ve got to create your own standard of excellence and measure progress accordingly. Because real, lasting success comes by aligning your actions with what’s most important to you.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-habits-thatll-ensure-youll-end-every-day-feeling-successful?ref=carousel-slide-0