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How To Enjoy Your Holidays Completely And Not Fall Too Behind On Work

This career advice post originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for ForbesWoman:

Happy Spring! Happy Passover! Happy Easter! Some people will be taking time off this week for the holidays. In NYC where I live, public school students are on break, so some working parents may choose to take time off since schools are closed. What I always remember about working a busy job and taking time off is the crush of returning to work. I would almost not enjoy my vacation as much because of the catch-up I would invariably have to do once I returned. Here are three strategies for enjoying time off guilt-free:

 

Block out Catch-up time for your normal work week, not the weekend or night before

Make yourself unavailable on your Outlook for your first day back. Use this time to sift through emails, put out fires relating to your absence and catching up with colleagues. Block out time later in the week as well so you don’t overschedule yourself and you build in time for things that will invariably come to your attention after your return. Many people will jump onto email the night or weekend before to get a head start on their week. Consider instead dedicating the night or weekend before to settle back into your personal routine – your exercise, sleep, even diet may need some readjusting.

 

Block out Finish time before you leave, but during your normal work week, not late nights

Many people stay late almost every night in the week preceding a vacation, effectively working their vacation week in advance. You already know you’re going to want to finish things before you leave. So well before your vacation (as soon as the vacation is confirmed in the calendar!) make yourself unavailable on your Outlook for significant time during that preceding week and possibly earlier weeks, specifically to dedicate time to finishing projects. If you don’t dedicate time to finishing projects proactively, your day-to-day work will thwart your best intentions. You will end up scrambling, meaning late nights and less productive output.

 

Have a clear back-up plan that doesn’t involve you

You know the typical questions you get relating to your specific role, but invariably we become the go-to person for other things – how to deal with a specific client or how to unjam the printer. Spend the next 30 days keeping a log of the questions you get asked. Create your own personal FAQ, which you can then leave with a trusted colleague or assistant. For broader issues as opposed to specific questions, designate a colleague to handle and actually give that person the authority to make decisions on your behalf. This means, you’ll want to debrief them and coach them before you leave, so this is additional time you build into your calendar well in advance. You should inform your boss of your plans, so build this discussion into your calendar as well. You can always give your colleague the scenarios in which you can be called while you’re away, but by delegating most of this, you minimize the disruption.

 

A vacation is meant to be enjoyed, not double your work week when you return. With prep work and the discipline to proactively reserve time before and after the vacation, you can get the extra work done during your actual work time and not on your vacation.

 

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How To Talk About A Bad Boss Or Work Environment

In my latest career advice piece for Work Reimagined, I talk about how to sidestep questions about a negative environment during your job interview:

In a job interview, you need these strategies to avoid sounding negative and hurting yourself.

Tell your story with facts, not judgments. Your old boss yelled too much. Your former work environment favored face time over results. It’s hard to be objective when you’re affected negatively, but “too much” or “face time” are judgment calls. Your old boss would beg to differ, and maybe raised voices motivated your ex-colleagues. If you are asked to describe a less-than-ideal former situation, focus on just the facts: what was your boss’s title and scope within the organizational structure (so we know where you fit into the structure); and what were the company’s business goals (so we know what your group focused on). Sticking to the facts will help keep the emotion out of your response.

See additional strategies in my latest piece for Work Reimagined: Why You Should Never Trash A Bad Boss.

 

 

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CBS Moneywatch Career Coaching Advice For Getting Noticed At Work

In this career advice piece from Amy Levin-Epstein for CBS Moneywatch, several career coaches, including myself, share tips on how to get the proper recognition in the workplace:

Caroline Ceniza-Levine, partner with the career consulting firm SixFigureStart

“If you are doing a good job but still getting overlooked, then your good works are not getting back to your boss. This is when you’ll also need to ask for a meeting and share the commendation emails or specific achievements you’ve [collected]. Don’t resent your boss for overlooking you — tell him or her exactly what you have accomplished and what you’d like (a raise, a promotion, a stretch assignment). To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, confirm with your boss how often you can expect feedback and how she or he likes to be updated.”

Read more strategies and tips in Amy Levin-Epstein’s piece for CBS Moneywatch: Help! My Work Goes Unnoticed At The Office

 

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Authentic Power

Taoism teaches that it is the natural in us that is our power. And yet our society teaches that the natural in us is to be feared, for it is wild, untamed energy that will get us and others into heaps of trouble. But as we talk about the differentiated aspects of the psyche, the ego and the soul, what we discover is that that natural self turns out also to be mystically united with the transcendent. As we walk into the deeper regions of the inner human, we discover the transpersonal—which is also quite natural. Yet we’ve divided life up into natural, miracle and supernatural for so many centuries that it is extremely difficult for us to imagine that who we already are, underneath all the fakery, scamming and spamming that we’ve been taught to do to survive, is both natural and divine—a union of opposites. So today we are going to take a journey into the natural world of authentic power and learn what your natural power can do in an unnatural world. Don’t miss it.

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Video Blog – How Long Do I Hold Out For My Dream Job

In this job search Q&A, I answer Mark’s question:  Everyone wants to land their “Dream Job”, but with competition so stiff, do we need to modify our expectations and our search process?

3 key takeaways:

It’s not about the competition or the market but about your personal situation. Unemployment statistics are always wrong — you are not 10% or 25% unemployed; for you it is 0% or 100%;

Review my older post on Sequester Survival Tips. You might want to have to focus on a short-term solution that is less than your Dream Job if it means you stay financially solvent;

Your Dream Job should always be part of your career planning. You might take a job right now but this doesn’t preclude you from continuing to network, research and otherwise still pursue your Dream Job for later.

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How To Ask Your Boss For Feedback

I’m excited to contribute career advice for Women’s Health in Elizabeth Narins’ latest piece on How To Ask Your Boss For Feedback:

You get in early, stay late, and work your butt off every moment you’re on the clock. But does anybody notice? As it happens, many women ask themselves the very same question: Nearly half of working women feel underappreciated at work, according to the American Psychological Association’s new Work and Well-Being Survey.

In the online survey of 1,501 employed adults, 48 percent of women polled said they feel less valued than their male coworkers. Worse yet, less than half of the women feel they’re paid enough for the work they do, and even fewer receive non-monetary recognition—like kudos from the boss—for their contributions.

Sure, it would be nice to score a raise or a promotion. But getting valuable feedback from your boss and knowing you’re appreciated are also key to job satisfaction, says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career expert with SixFigureStart. Case-in-point: It’s tough to do your best work when you feel undervalued. Even negative feedback can be a good thing; it helps you recognize the areas in which you may need improvement and opens up channels of communication so you can ask for tips on how to address your weaknesses.

To feel like a VIP and boost your performance, use this approach to solicit constructive feedback from your boss:

Continue reading Elizabeth Narins’ latest piece for Women’s Health on How To Ask Your Boss For Feedback.

 

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How To Explain Career Transitions And Employment Gaps

In my latest job search advice piece for Work Reimagined, I give tips on how to talk about career transitions and employment gaps:

There are many positive situations that require leaving a job or taking time off. One of my clients left a long-time employer because his spouse got the role of a lifetime in another city. Another was offered the chance to leapfrog from a management position at a large company to the top spot at a start-up. Several of my clients have taken years off for family reasons.

Even when it’s good news, you need to explain the gaps and transitions in your resume in any interview, and do so in a way that puts you in the most positive light. A prospective employer wants to know that you’re thoughtful about your career choices. From the employer’s point of view, my relocating client could be seen as treating his career as secondary. The start-up client could sound uncommitted to his original industry and to big corporations, making it harder to jump back in someday.  A gap of any kind might signal lack of career commitment. The same event can be interpreted either well or poorly. To make sure it’s the former, frame your explanation this way:

Read my 3 tips for job seekers in my latest blog for Work Reimagined: How To Explain A Hole In Your Resume.

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Help & Healing

So many of us, who consider ourselves to be more or less spiritual beings; so many of us, who consider ourselves to be Christian, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or Taoist, or any other religion, believe that being good means helping and healing others. In fact helping and healing others is a defining characteristic of a good person regardless or religion or spiritual path. What will we do when we really get it that we can’t help or heal anyone? Ever. The concept of reception is a very difficult one for us to accept particularly in the Western world where being “out there,” “doing,” “seeking,” “hunting,” “giving,” “helping,” “healing” are the ways that we prove to ourselves and our worlds that we are worthy. But if worthiness doesn’t really have to be earned, then we can consider the concept of reception. For, what if everything that is truly worthy is received—which means that our giving means only what it means to us, unless the other person chooses to receive it. Don’t miss this one.

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5 Business Books To Read If You Don’t Want To ‘Lean In’ With Sheryl Sandberg

This business advice post originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com:

I haven’t read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and don’t plan to. I have already seen her TED talk and Barnard College commencement address so I have the gist of her message, and there are lots of other great reads. If you would also rather skip the hoopla, here are some of my favorite business/ advice books by working moms:

Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim
If you are thinking about starting a business, read this book first. If you already started your business, read this anyway. It’s a great primer for entrepreneurs.

Mothers Work by Rebecca Mathias
Mathias founded retail stores, Motherhood Mimi Maternity, and Pea in the Pod. It’s a candid, funny, and fascinating look at building a big business from the ground up with baby in tow.

168 Hours168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam
Vanderkam is also the prolific author of the e-book series What Successful People Do…During the Weekends, In the Morning, with more titles coming. Vanderkam writes frequently about time and productivity, and 168 Hours provides helpful strategies and inspiring stories to help us all make the most of our time.

The Entrepreneur’s Trap by Tina Forsyth
Forsyth is an online business expert and writes an excellent resource on systematizing your business. While written for the entrepreneur, her advice on creating repeatable, dependable processes so things can be delegated is spot on for executives as well.

Spousonomics by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson
The subtitle is Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage and Dirty Dishes. Seriously, any book that uses the principles of economics to give marital advice is worth a read, and Szuchman and Anderson pull this off very smartly.

 

What are your favorite business/ advice books by women?

 

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Top 5 Companies That Hire Vets and Their Families

Just saw a piece on FOX News which lists the top five companies that want to hire vets & their families. They are:

1. Lowe’s: this company was founded by a Vet and they have 6,000 jobs nationwide
2. United Rentals: this company has over 500 jobs to fill and their website has a “military skills translater” which you have to check out!
3. USAA: all about insurance, banking, finance. They have 3,500 jobs they plan to fill in the next 3 years
4. Direct TV: looking for specialists in logistics, management with jobs all over the country
5. IHG: a huge hotel chain looking for people in operations, sales. IHG is part of the 100,000 jobs mission for vets

For those reading this who are not in the military… go for it as these are solid hiring numbers. Good luck to all! Check out the FoxNews website for more info.