Past Issues

April 28, 2008

Still Pounding the Pavement?

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Still Pounding the Pavement?, provided by Robert Half

You're burned out ... not from a job, but from your job search. After months of looking for a new position with no luck, you may be suffering from the same malaise as an overburdened employee. How do you renew your enthusiasm? Switching gears and exploring different avenues can help you uncover new leads.

Here are some helpful job search tips:

  • Divide your time. If you're focusing most of your efforts on searching job listings and sending out resumes, incorporate more networking into your routine. Spend at least half your time establishing new contacts. The people you meet could provide you with job-search advice or clue you in to new opportunities.

  • Follow the laws of supply and demand. Are your skills and experience in demand? You can find out by contacting area staffing firms, as well as scanning job postings and talking to members of your network. If your skills are not highly sought, improve your marketability by signing up for professional development classes or workshops.

  • Volunteer your time. Whether it's teaching people how to read at the local library or working at a charitable organization in the area, you'll not only help others, but you also may acquire a new skill or meet someone who can help you out professionally.
A Fresh Start

You've just landed a new job ... how do you make the best possible impression? Take note of how people dress, the hours typically worked and the preferred communication style among employees. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions.

Here are some questions to pose to your manager as you begin a new position:

  • What should my main priorities be, and what percentage of my time should be spent on each responsibility? Immediately establishing your responsibilities will help you prioritize them and ensure your efforts align with the company's big-picture goals. You'll also be able to better plan your days and start contributing from the get-go.

  • How will my performance be evaluated? Understanding how you'll be evaluated will allow you to focus on the most important areas and build critical skills.

  • What's your work style like? It's possible you have a work style that rubs your new manager the wrong way. For instance, at your last job, you may have occasionally worn headphones to listen to music. As it happens, your new boss doesn't want his employees to do so because he likes to speak to them from his office a few feet away. By getting this information up front, you'll ensure that you and your supervisor share common expectations and begin the relationship on the right foot.
Smooth Moves for Rough Career Patches
Let's face it; no one likes to be criticized. But no matter how talented you are, at some point in your career, you're going to be on the receiving end of unwelcome feedback. How you respond can affect your success.

Here are some smooth -- and not-so-smooth -- ways to react:

Don't: Formulate your defense while the other person is still talking.

Do: Listen actively to what's being said. If you're busy interjecting responses or formulating them you'll miss valuable information.

Don't: Respond defensively by saying, "But I thought that's what you wanted."

Do: Let your defenses down and focus your response on the project, not the person critiquing you. If you disagree with a suggestion, phrase your concern in the form of a question.

Don't: Hunch over, have your arms tightly crossed and look down or away during the critique.

Do: Be aware of your body language: Make eye contact, unfold your arms and sit up straight. You'll appear less defensive and more professional.

"Heard in the Lunchroom" is provided by Robert Half, the world's largest specialized staffing firm and a leading authority on workplace and management trends. For more information, visit

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