Set goals, not resolutions

Happy new year!

A new year brings a fresh start. It’s a great time to commit to making positive changes, both personally and professionally. Many of us set new year’s resolutions, despite the harrowing statistic that 80 per cent of them fail by February.

Want to avoid becoming a statistic and make lasting changes this year? Try setting SMART goals rather than simply making resolutions.

What’s a SMART goal, you ask? SMART goals are:

Specific – Call out the who, what, when, where and why. What exactly do you need, or want, to do?

Measurable – Numbers are everything! Without metrics, you won’t be able to know if I’ve achieved a goal, or how far you need to go to get there.

Attainable – The end result needs to be attainable based on your skills and experience.

Realistic – Be honest about what you can achieve. Consider your workload and available time to tackle the steps you need to take.

Time-bound – Map out the milestones between now and a deadline for achieving the goal.

Find out more about setting SMART goals here.

Goals, career, job, resumeAt the start of 2018, I set a goal to gain recognition of my project management expertise and skills. I applied the SMART model to this goal so that I knew when I achieved it. Success meant obtaining my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification by February, and applying my knowledge to manage a significant project at work from March to August.

This year, I have some new goals on my mind. They are to dedicate more time to Pencil Skirts & Punctuation (as a reader of this blog, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that one!), and to run a 10 km race in June. My next step will be to make these into SMART goals.

Have you set goals for 2019? Take a few moments now to jot down what you’d like to achieve. Follow the SMART model and make it more likely that you’ll get there.

As we move through the year, I’ll continue to check-in to see how I’m progressing toward my goals. Hopefully, I do well enough to share my progress here. Until then, I wish you a healthy, happy 2019!

Image credits: Pixabay.com.

Freelancing: Friend or foe?

A recent Fast Company article on the current state of the freelance job market revealed, at least in the eyes of this media outlet, that “working for one’s self used to be the definition of the American dream – and, apparently, it still is.”

The article reports on the Freelancing in America 2018 study, which concluded that “Americans increasingly prefer to work where they want, when they want, and on the work of their choosing.” One in three American workers freelances, and 61 per cent of freelancers said they’ve chosen to work this way versus working in staff jobs more by necessity. Millennials are leading the pack. Forty-two percent of of 18-to-34-year-olds now freelance, up from 38 per cent in 2014.

The report on the study results makes it seem like freelancers are eating their cake and having it too. It reports that full-time freelancers are 21 percentage points more likely to say their work also allows them to live the lifestyle they want (84 per cent of freelancers say this versus 63 per cent of non-freelancers).

Freelance, resume, job, career

This paints a rosy picture of freelancing as one’s primary form of employment, which appears to be coveted by younger workers. But what the researchers don’t seem to ask is what about the labour market has made freelancing float to the top? And, has it become more common by choice or necessity?

According to Forbes, the driving forces behind the freelance job economy are becoming more prevalent. These include education not meeting the skills that employers need, using “gig” workers to reduce employment costs (freelancers are often paid low wages and don’t receive health benefits), and bringing freelancers in to meet short-term project needs. The availability of communications technologies that support freelancers is making the growth in this job category possible.

Twitter responded by highlighting the complex issues at the heart of the study results, while also calling out Fast Company’s use of the word “deciding” in their headline. For example, @RevEricAtcheson explained some of the reasons that freelancing is a necessity, not a decision, for some. He said:

“Deciding to freelance” sure is a funny way of spelling “navigating a job market that has eliminated pensions, affordable health insurance, cost-of-living raises, and many other trappings of steady employment our parents and grandparents benefited from for decades.”

Freelance, career, resume, cover letter, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation

That said, freelancing has other pros and cons that should be considered. It can be a way for people to generate an income for their side hustles. Or, freelance work could allow a person to gain experience and references in a new industry as a stepping stone to a career shift, while still working full-time elsewhere to make a living. Saving time, energy and money on a daily commute by working as a remote freelancer might be a perk for some people, while others might miss being around colleagues on a daily basis.

So, although freelancing’s attributes are a good fit for some people, for others it’s likely done out of necessity if a full-time position, along with its security and relatively higher pay level, can’t be obtained.

What are your thoughts on the growth of the freelance job market? If you’re a freelancer, what advice would you give to others? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com; Twitter.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Quitting vs. crafting: How to get the job you want

Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now? How about 20?

Have you ever realized that where you see your career in the distant future can depend on your job today? The job-related decisions that you make now can play a role in the path your career takes, and can impact whether your vision of the future becomes a reality.

Two trends – job quitting and job crafting – present relatively new ways to approach your career. They are ways of obtaining job satisfaction, while also strategically building the career you strive for.

Job Quitting
The job-quitting economy is based on the premise that job seekers eye jobs that will be helpful for the next step in their careers once they quit them. Rather than accepting a job offer for its benefits, salary, corporate culture and promotion potential, so-called “job quitters” look at if they can gain the transferrable skills and experience they need to progress in their careers, whether the company’s reputation in the industry makes other companies desire its employees, and how the role can serve as a stepping stone to another more prized job.

As companies have transitioned from hiring less full-time and more contract workers, the job-quitting economy has naturally evolved as the mindset of job seekers changed to see certain jobs as ways of getting to a job with full-time perks down the road. But in today’s highly-competitive job market, full-time employees may approach their careers with a job-quitting mindset too.

The concept of a personal brand, which many consider to be helpful in landing a job, underlies the job-quitting economy. The transferrable skills gained in a role contribute a job seeker’s overall Me, Inc. package, which is what makes each person stand out from the competition.

Some drawbacks of approaching your career as a job-quitter could include less fulfillment at work, as you might not fully engage and reach job satisfaction if you only see your role as a stepping stone to the next one. Further, jumping from one role to the next after too little time may cause future potential employers to see you as a “flight risk” who could leave their company after too-short a time.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Job Crafting
To get the job you want, there’s another option other than making a huge change and joining another company. This option is called job crafting, which involves making incremental changes to your responsibilities or day-to-day experiences at work, resulting in increased job satisfaction.

How does job crafting work? To start, try listing the skills and abilities you’d like to have to progress in your career. Maybe gaining or advancing technical skills, business acumen or leadership abilities are important professional development areas for you. Then, get creative and make an inventory of the different ways that you could add these activities to your work. Once the list is complete, a conversation with your manager or other colleagues might be required to ensure that they’re aligned with your professional development ambitions, and so they understand why you are taking on new tasks.

If successful, the growth and changes that you achieve by crafting your job will move you toward your career goals.

Potential cons of job crafting? Your workplace, manager and co-workers must be open to your role evolving or a change in your job’s responsibilities. Without external support, your attempt at job crafting might end up being a flop. It also takes patience and time for your job to change into one with the attributes that you’re striving for.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Now that you’ve learned about these two trends, do you think you’ve ever adopted a job quitting or job crafting mindset in the past? If not, which trend do you think you’d be more likely to take on to shape your career? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Tips for turning a hobby into a side hustle

Results of a 2017 study revealed that 44 million Americans take on extra work to make extra cash, in addition to working full-time. This is generally known as having a “side hustle.” The study identified millennials as the largest group of side-hustlers.

What are some of the most common side hustles? U.S.-based research tells us that doing the following activities allow people to earn cash on the side.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

That said, what differentiates a side hustle from a part-time job?

While discussing his book Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, author Chris Guillebeau clarifies what makes a side hustle unique: striving for financial independence.

“A side hustle is not a part-time job. A side hustle is not the gig economy. It is an asset that works for you. Picking up a few extra hours at the factory or at the coffeehouse is not a side hustle. Jumping on TaskRabbit or Uber when you feel like it isn’t a side hustle, either. The problem? Someone else can pull the plug. Gig economy businesses have literally folded overnight. If the intention of a side hustle is to create financial independence, then working within the gig economy is a walk in the exact opposite direction.” – Chris Guillebeau

Now that we’re on the same page about what a side hustle is, let’s tackle how to do it well. The secret is to figure out how to turn something that you love doing, like a hobby, into paid work that you can do on your own terms.

Why a hobby? According to Mark Zuckerberg, having a hobby outside of work is one of the best ways to cultivate your passion, leadership skills and technical abilities. Having a hobby is considered so important by Zuckerberg that Facebook’s hiring managers ask job candidates about their hobbies during interviews. What was Zuckerberg’s personal hobby? Last year, he figured out how to build an artificial intelligence (AI) system to control his home.

It’s easy to see how mastery of this task could result gaining a skill set that a person could monetize in a side hustle by offering a service that makes other people’s homes AI-friendly. (On a side note, you could also apply the knowledge gained from the experience to your full-time role for a potential career boost if it’s relevant to your job.)

But, before you get started with your own side hustle, check out my five tips below for transforming a hobby into extra cash:

Tip 1: Follow your passion – By turning a hobby that you were formerly doing for free into something that’s paid, there’s a better chance that you’ll love spending your non-9-to-5 time doing the work.

 Tip 2: Use skills you already have – Understand your existing strengths and think about what people would pay for. Can you repair smartphone screens? Do you have a passion for personal training? Are you able to consult as a communications advisor? Any of these services could provide value to customers.

Tip 3: Manage your time – One of the downsides of having a side hustle is the potential for burnout. If the income from your side hustle work supplements the income from a full-time job, don’t jeopardize that full-time role. Find a balance between the two positions. Understand how long each side job will take so that you can over-deliver to your side hustle customers, while ensuring that the time spent on your side hustle doesn’t compromise your performance at your full-time job.

Tip 4: Build your network – How you connect with others to promote your side hustle depends on what product or service you’re offering. If you fix and sell used bicycles, you can connect with local customers on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. If you provide a consulting service, you can reach customers through social media channels and word-of-mouth. Get creative about how you reach your customers to get maximum exposure.

Tip 5: Set a goal – Think about why you’re spending your free time on your side hustle. Decide what you want to achieve early in the process. Whether it’s a saving a certain amount of money or completing a specific number of jobs, knowing you’re getting closer to your goal can provide perspective when you’re putting in extra hours every week. Learn about setting SMART goals here.

What other tips do you have for a successful side hustle? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Credit Loan, Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Is it time for a change?

Have you ever made a change in your career?

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine JaremeyWhether it was from one job to another, from one industry to completely different one, or a change in the patterns of how you work and lead others on a day-to-day basis, a career change is a big transition. But, have you ever thought about how when you make these types of changes can impact your success?

I was inspired to think about how I would respond to this question myself after reading the March 2018 issue of ELLE Canada. In an article called “Say When,” journalist Sarah Liang reports on a new book called When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, by Daniel Pink. This book covers the scientific research linking the timing of decisions and their outcomes.

Let’s reflect on the title of this post: “Is it time for a change?” There’s more to making a decision than simply going with your intuition or what you feel comfortable doing. Be strategic. The timing of changes or other important milestones in your career can have long-lasting impacts.

“The secret to success is actually getting strategic with the game-changing “whens” of your working life, from major pivot points to the minutiae of the daily nine-to-five.” – Sarah Liang, ELLE Canada.

When does timing make an impact on a career, according to the article? There are four times to consider.

  1. On your mark, get set, go! Although people often can’t control it, when you start your first job can mean boom or bust for your career. The research tells us that those who graduate university in years with high unemployment earn 2.5 per cent less than peers when the rate was low, even 15 years into your career.
  2. All good things come to an end. I’ve heard that it’s important to stay in a role for three-to-five years to give you an opportunity to evolve in the job, and to also appeal to potential future employers who might be reviewing your resume or career history. The article reports that being in a role for three-to-five years is a prime time to seek a boost in position or pay at a new job.
  3. Can’t get you out of my head. You may find yourself thinking about getting a new job or changing careers at certain times of the day or the year. Things like energy ebbs and flows during the day, holidays throughout the year, or even your work anniversary may trigger thinking about moving on to something new.
  4. Like a boss. Good leaders do things like respond to their team members’ emails in a timely manner, and schedule review meetings in the mornings when staff are generally more alert.

It’s clear that looking at the bigger picture in terms of the timing of your career as a whole when making decisions has an impact on both the big and small things, affecting overall success.

How has timing impacted your career? What other milestones or moments make an impact? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image credits: Elle Canada; Pixabay.com.

When will equal work = equal pay?

No matter what women have on their resume or how well they do in a job interview, chances are they won’t get paid the same as their male counterparts when they get the job. In Canada, a woman earns 74 cents for each $1 earned by a man.

If you think that there are extenuating circumstances that result in this disparity, like women working part-time more often, women putting their careers on the back burner to raise a family, or women accepting lower-paying jobs more often, not so fast! These are just some of the myths that lead people to believe that the gender-based gap in pay isn’t real.

The fact is that women don’t get paid the same as men for the same work.

From the perspective of a woman in the workforce, I find this both discouraging and frustrating.

60 Minutes screen shotHowever, a recent 60 Minutes episode has shed light on what’s being done about this issue. It featured a corporation that has recognized the pay gap and its strong leadership is contributing to the fight against it.

In this segment, 60 Minutes interviewed Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, a company that offers customer relationship management software. He discussed how his company is prioritizing pay equality.

As a company that’s been named as one of the best places to work, Benioff expected that the pay gap wouldn’t exist at Salesforce. He decided to execute an organization-wide audit of positions and salaries based on gender to uncover the truth. Benioff admitted that he was surprised when the audit revealed that gender-based pay disparities did, in fact, exist there.

What happened next makes this story notable: Benioff acted on the results and fixed the problem. He revealed that in one year, resolving the issue cost the company $3 million (USD). I’m assuming that when he took this action, he was considering the advice of Salesforce’s human resources executive working on the project (notably, a woman), who advised him that if the audit revealed an issue, the results couldn’t be simply read and filed away – they would need to act to correct them to keep the company’s integrity  intact.

Benioff also noted that he recalled sitting in meetings with high-level folks in his organization, and noticing that the room was filled with exclusively men. He remarked that this practice had to stop, and moving forward, wanted to see women involved in every meeting, proactively giving women the opportunity to bring their perspectives, ideas and approaches to the table when it mattered.

Woman leading a meeting

Once his eyes were opened to issues with gender-based pay at Salesforce, Benioff has described pay equality as one of the big social issues that he’s gotten behind, and has started to spread the word. Other recent social media-based events, one of the more well-known ones being #EqualPayDay on April 10, are also helping to get the truth out and debunk the myths.

Why does spreading the word matter? In the 60 Minutes interview, Benioff said he believes that ending gender-based disparity in pay is one of the doors to gender equality, at the same level of importance as having equal opportunities and being free from harassment.

I’m inclined to agree with him.

What are your thoughts on Salesforce’s move toward implementing equal pay for equal work? Has the leadership in your workplace addressed this issue? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com; CBS News.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Free career resources from the Toronto Public Library

“The best things in life are free.”

If you have a Toronto Public Library (TPL) card, this saying is true when it comes to ways to boost your career.

TPL provides access to helpful resources for searching for a job, refining your resume, and updating your skills and knowledge.

Career-related workshops

The fall 2017 edition of TPL’s What’s On publication lists some career and resume-focused sessions at library branches. They cover:

  • An introduction to LinkedIn
  • Job market opportunities
  • Resume writing and critiquing
  • Improving interview skills
  • Networking and job search tactics for newcomers to Canada

resources

Online education at lynda.com

LyndaTPL card holders have access to lynda.com for free. Lynda.com provides “over 3,500 video tutorial courses led by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, home and small office, project management, 3D + Animation, graphic design audio, music, video editing and more.” This perk gets you a Premium monthly membership, which has a value of $29.99 per month.

Completing courses at lynda.com can increase your knowledge of tasks you’re doing on-the-job or that you’re curious about, impress your boss, and boost your resume or LinkedIn profile.

Need a library card?

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, so there’s no better time to get or renew your card. Further to the TPL resources listed above, the other benefits of having a library card are numerous. You can get a TPL card if you live, work, go to school or own property in Toronto. Learn more about getting a card here.

Image credits: Laine Jaremey; Lynda.com.