IMPLICATIONS OF REMOTE WORK

Posted on: September 22nd, 2020 by
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Covid-19 has really messed up the job market, career opportunities, decisions about your next move, and how work is done differently now.  How do you unscramble the issues in order to find the best strategy for you short and long term?  Here are some facts, alternatives and implications you might want to consider:

 

LOCATIONS: Big cities are out.  Suburban and rural are in.

  • Professionals are moving out of the big cities. Personal safety in cities is a concern.
  • With the push to the suburbs, the cost of housing is up, and city apartments are down
  • Low interest rates and the push for housing have driven costs up
  • In New York City, 1200 restaurants have closed, affecting the economy and jobs
  • Public transit in large cities are providing minimal services, affecting jobs

OFFICES:  There has been a big shift in office size and locations

  • Large multi-thousand square foot offices are either shrinking or being sold off
  • Offices are centers for computers and technology, not for water cooler discussions

EXECUTIVE DECISION MAKERS:  Are making major changes in their business models

  • The smart ones have shifted to flexibility, new communications and services
  • Less smart ones are trying to maintain the old business models against the changes

MANAGERS/SUPERVISORS: These are the most affected group within management

  • Those who are effectively managing remote workers are in great demand
  • Those who are effective only in an office situation are at a great disadvantage
  • Those who are not technologically up to speed are vulnerable

 

OPPORTUNITES:  Those who have prepared for the future will be rewarded

  • Before, most jobs were available only in the local market. Outsiders had to relocate.
  • Now, remote work can be done anywhere so the marketplace in national, not local

DOWNSIDES:  There are elements of remote work that need to be countered.

  • A feeling of aloneness can cause distancing and a feeling of being cut off from life
  • Make sure you maintain a social connection through electronics, at the very least
  • Meetings with bosses, career advice and development have been curtailed
  • “Out of sight, out of mind” can affect your career trajectory

CAREERS IN A CHANGING WORLD:  So, how can you achieve your career goals?

  • If you don’t know how to work or supervise work remotely, you’re at a disadvantage
  • You need to not only sharpen your technical skills, but add value through new skills
  • Accumulate new certifications on-line. Create a differentiator from other candidates.
  • Learn better remote operating skills, remote meetings, and remote relationships
  • Become more organized, effective use of time and connections with co-workers
  • Those who have excellent remote skills and results, will be in demand world-wide
  • Effective communications with customers, co-workers and bosses are rewarded
  • Find a mentor or coach to help assess the market and put together a career strategy.

 

Covid-19 has changed the way work is done.  Based on projections, the future of work will never go back to the way it was before!  Plan on it.

 

For a FREE confidential critique of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com


SAVE $758 MILLION A DAY?

Posted on: September 15th, 2020 by
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What part of that $758 million a day savings is yours?  This is what the Federal Highway Administration estimates have been saved by working from home rather than driving to the office.  The FHA also estimates that in June, which is the beginning of summer vacation travel, Americans trekked nearly 37 billion fewer miles than in the same month last year.  If you’re working remotely, you should be saving on gas, oil, maintenance, repairs, tire wear, tolls, a fender-bender you might have had, and insurance costs.  Your blood pressure should also be lower due to less stress, anger, pollution and time in the car.

 

The Department of Transportation estimates that every hour of commuting by auto, the  cost is about $12.50 an hour. Also, before Covid-19 we were spending an average of over 54 minutes a day commuting.  Of course, the big metropolitan areas are worse than other more rural areas, but still, how much time have you saved?  How are you using that time?  Have you upgraded your skill sets, gotten a new certification or expanded your network?

 

If your insurance company has not sent you a check for less driving and lower premiums, call them right now.  They owe you a rebate.  Complain and you’ll be heard.  If not, check on other car insurance companies who will treat you better. I saved a few hundred dollars a year when I changed.  If you have two or more cars, multiply the savings.

 

On the other hand, local economies and jobs that serve the commuting public suffer: Bus drivers, convenience store owners, lunch providers, and so on.  The local economies, small business and service companies are hurting since the Covid-19 scare.  As an example, American Airlines says it plans to lay off 19,000 local workers and Delta is planning to furlough 2,000 pilots.

 

Covid-19 has changed the way we work and live.  On the other hand, unless you exercise or work out at least 30 minutes a day, cut back on your caloric intake and balance your lifestyle, working from home can move you to a more sedentary life.  Break up the work day with brisk walks or an exercise regimen.  It’s interesting to note that people are purchasing pets for companionship while at the same time ordering streaming movies at a record pace.

 

The point is, you need to assess how this unexpected event of Covid-19 has affected you so far, and how it will affect you in the short and longer term?  Once you have assessed the situation, then determine your strategy for either safeguarding your current work status or take advantage of the situation to move up the career or financial ladder in the years to come.  Most every situation of change provides an opportunity for some and a disadvantage for others.  Figure out which side of the ledger you’re on, and develop a plan to guarantee a favorable outcome.

 

For a FREE confidential critique of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com


EXPAND YOUR “BUBBLE”

Posted on: September 8th, 2020 by
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During Covid-19 is a great time to renew and expand your connections.  Between 10% and 50% of individuals looking to improve their careers find opportunities through networking.  These numbers will float up or down depending upon the range of your contacts, your relationships with them, and their willingness to actively support your efforts in the marketplace.  There are three levels of networking, like a series of concentric circles:  An inner ring, a center ring and an outer ring.

 

INNER RING:  These are the people who are closest to you, know what you are capable of achieving, are willing to assist your job search and position you favorably in the marketplace.  This group is usually past bosses, peers, subordinates, professors, classmates, friends or family.  It’s anyone who can vouch for your potential contribution, give testimony to high performance and in general become an active supporter of your value to a new organization.  They are in the best position to move your job search forward.  This is the first group of people that you need to tap into.  They are also the people who can introduce you to those individuals in the Center Ring.

 

CENTER RING:  These are the people who are in your industry or function.  They also may be recommended to you by the people in the Inner Ring.  They are usually a friend of a friend.  They can be professionals that you meet at an association meeting.  The Alumni Association of your school is in this group.  This is where you meet others like yourself who know of an opening within their organization or can give you “inside” information about a merger, expansion or reorganization of a company that may need a person like you.

 

OUTER RING:  These are people you probably don’t know directly, but have been referred to you by others.  They are your third level of contact and are the most remote.

 

These are few things you might do to expand your networking “bubble”:

  • Foster relationships within all three rings of the circle. Ask each contact, “Who do you know that I should talk to?  Can you introduce us?” Ask each one for 2 other names.
  • Ask, “What are the upside/downside in their industry”. Then ask, “What are the job opportunities?”  And then, “Do you know what they’re looking for in a candidate?”
  • Do any of your contacts need help? Are they needing referrals for another job?  This is a great reason for checking in. If they’re looking, you can help each other. 
  • Reinvigorate dormant relationships, especially at the Center Ring level
  • In-person networking events have moved online: Professional organizations, Alumni association and networking websites like LinkedIn or Meet-Up
  • Increase your visibility – Write articles, create content blogging, or videos

 

Now is a great time to build up your network connections during social distancing.  Prepare for the next 12-month evolution and transition of the marketplace.  Those who prepare now will be ready for when the right job comes along.

 

For a FREE confidential critique of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com


INTERVIEWING ON-LINE

Posted on: September 1st, 2020 by
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How do you make a lasting positive impression during an interview when you don’t get to interact in person with the hiring manager?  It seems it’s now all done remotely.  You have no sense of a special connection, a meaningful relationship nor get a sense of the work environment.  You could be leaving a good but unexciting job for a disaster.

 

Should you take the risk?  How do you get answers to question that will help lower your apprehension?  If I ask myself would I accept a promotion without personally meeting with my new boss and peers, the answer is no.  The unknowns of expectations, performance standards, compatibility with the work group and management styles are all issues that need to be considered.  It may all work out.  But it may not.

 

So how can you eliminate your concerns?  You can’t.  You can only diminish the issues that can cause a misstep.  Here are some actions to take to minimize a bad decision.

 

RESEARCH – Take a close look at the industry, company, competitors, and comments from past employees.  All can be done on-line.  If you know the name of your potential boss or peers, Google them to get a look at their backgrounds and experiences.

 

IMPRESSIONS: Yours and theirs – Smile as you only have about 5 seconds to make a good first impression.  Dress as if you were in their office.  Maintain eye contact:  Look at the camera, not the computer screen as your eyes will look half closed and sleepy. Place the computer so the camera is at eye level.

 

COMPATABILITY:  Demonstrate energy and enthusiasm for the job and with the people you are interviewing.  Amplify your interest as the interviewers will reciprocate.  It’s harder to demonstrate energy and passion through the screen, but find a way verbally.

 

QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS – Ask targeted questions that will increase your comfort level with the hiring manager and peer group.  Save the less important question until later:  Benefits, vacation time, and so on.  Find out about the work itself; expectations; performance standards; management style; anticipated impediments or issues; the culture of the organization, department and function; concerns they may have about you; results of the organization over the past 2 to 3 years (growth or decline?); strategy for change; future goals; and opportunities for you and the organization.  You need practical knowledge and insight as to the issues and potential of current and future work.

 

TAKE NOTES – Occasionally take a few notes on key items, but not many.  It shows you’re paying attention, are interested in critical elements and will make you memorable.

 

AT THE END – Make sure you emphasize your strong interest in the job (if it’s true), ask what the next steps will be, and how long will the decision take.

 

Virtual interviews on-line are both easy and difficult.  Easy to do, difficult to differentiate yourself from all other candidates.  Your past results, pleasant personality and intelligent, insightful questions should do the trick.

 

For a FREE critique of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com


UPSIDE/DOWNSIDE OF WFH

Posted on: August 25th, 2020 by
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Some people thoroughly enjoy working from home (WFH).  Others find it confining and can’t wait to get back to the office. There are positive attributes and hidden issues with each.  Decide what’s important or figure out a way to work around an issue.

 

  • Some organizations are planning for up to 50% or more of their employees to work hours or days remotely within the next 5 years. Your ability to perform at a high level may be determined by the skills you develop now
  • Usually individual contributors are more productive when they don’t have to depend upon others to support their efforts. That’s not necessarily bad unless results are measured on a group basis.
  • A key element to an effective ‘work from home’ strategy is a skilled manager. This is where management training is critical. Managers who don’t know how to supervise or communicate with remote workers puts them at a disadvantage.
  • ‘Work from home’ workers need guidance, defined expectations, clear priorities, and all available information about their work, including potential impediments
  • George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm”, has a famous line “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. If office workers get better communications, more face time with the manager, greater insights into job promotions or after work drinks with the boss, then WFH workers are at a distinct disadvantage.
  • Individuals working from home need a very high level of interaction with their co-workers, support staff and boss. Effective communications with all parties are very difficult.  There must be an open and free interaction with and between everyone
  • Off-site members of a work group remove any chance of spontaneous chats with managers or senior executives in the hallway or elevators when they say, “How’s it going?” or “How can we make your job easier or more productive?”
  • Some employers understand the issues and are making alternatives available for remote workers to schedule time in the office on a planned basis. They are smart.
  • One concern for remote workers is, “Out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to career opportunities. Keep your options open internally and externally.
  • If you have a job whereby you can objectively measure results, then it may be immaterial where your work is located. If you can’t measure your contribution or productivity, your job appraisal is subjective.
  • Collaboration, whether in an office or remote, is critical. In some ways an effective group working remotely can be more collaborative than in an office.  Working remotely with a non-collaborative group can cause a shortfall in your performance
  • A manager may be excellent in an office environment and terrible with a remote group or visa-versa. One of the critical differences is technology.  If a manager is technologically challenged, supervising a remote group will affect performance.

 

Working remotely is here to stay.  Your future may depend upon how well you adjust, communicate and collaborate, and can balance productivity, performance and relationships.

 

For a FREE critique of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com