New Job Require Traveling? Practical Tips for a Stress-Free Trip

If you are one of the many Americans who have jobs that require travel, there are many things you can do to streamline your experience.  Following are some tips that will help make it, if not enjoyable, at least manageable.

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Airports & Borders

We’ve all heard the stories of extensive TSA delays and subsequent missed flights. The airlines have since advocated for an alternative because they don’t like it any more than the travelers do.  Business and first class travelers are their bread and butter, generating more revenue than most of the rest of the plane put together.

As a consequence, a number of Trusted Traveler Programs have arisen with names like Global Entry, Nexus, and Sentri, if you’re traveling internationally.  There is the TSApreprogram for local travel.

You should absolutely register with these programs at the first opportunity to decrease the amount of time you spend on interminable security check lines.

If traveling internationally, get your passport if you don’t have one already.  Be familiar with the rules (some countries require that a passport be valid for at least six months longer than the last scheduled day of your visit).  Don’t turn in an old passport with still-valid visas.  Instead, carry both passports so you don’t have to go back to an embassy and repay for the visa services.

Planes

If you’re new to the game, focus on one or two airlines that will offer you the most suitable services for your needs.  If you are “hopping” from airline to airline in order to save money, it is going to take much longer to accumulate rewards.   Those rewards can be used to upgrade your flying experience, moving from economy to first class, or even business class.  There is no doubt that a 14-hour business class flight to New Zealand is much better than any sort of economical fare.

Moreover, on long flights, no matter how comfortable the seats are, get up every 90 minutes or so and take a little walk up and down the aisle, if circumstances allow. Otherwise, do your best to practice some basic stretches. This is required in order to avoid getting a DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which is not only very painful, but a potentially life-threatening blood clot that form in the legs.

Some employers require you to use your own credit card to pay for expenses and then submit a bill upon return.  The added benefit to this is that all of the “air miles” that you collect belong to you, not the company.   When vacation time rolls around, a free flight to an exotic locale may be just the thing you need.

Your Carry-on

Be sure to keep a handy change of clothes in your carry-on bag.  Baggage does occasionally get lost, but many times it’s due to passengers arriving late for check-in.   Airlines ask you to arrive early for a reason; they want to make sure that you and your luggage get on the same plane.

If you can force everything you need into a carry-on, this does give you more latitude with your arrival time.  Wear your comfortable leisure shoes to travel and pack the formal business footwear.  Having both means you won’t have to play tourist in fancy leather shoes if you decide to do a little exploring. In any case, pay attention to the arrival times, especially if you have bags.

You can always buy extra toiletries (for example, a disposable razor and shaving cream at a local discount or Dollar Store) if the need arises, but it is smart to make a point of having your charging cables for all your electronics in your carry-on bag.  The same is true if you take a daily medication.   Have at least a couple of day’s supply in your pocket or your carry-on and make sure you have a prescription describing what you are carrying in case it comes into question.

Hotels

The same rules apply with hotels, in that you can get an upgraded suite, free meals, and additional days at no charge, along with other benefits.  Five days working in Amsterdam, for instance might be exhausting, but an additional two days all to yourself with no responsibilities would give you time to tour famous museums, galleries, their renowned coffee shops, and other attractions.

 Stay Healthy

Be sure to make a point of washing your hands frequently while traveling.  Your immune system may be perfectly adequate for the local flora and fauna where you live, but a foreign environment might have significant challenges to someone not used to it.

Don’t try brand new foods on your first night out.  Wait until you’ve been jet-setting for a while and developed some tolerances.  Drink bottled water; drink from sealed soda-pop bottles.  Never accept ice unless each one has a dent in it (this identifies them as having been made from condensation rather than local water that has been frozen.  Most hotels have ice machines that condense water). This is especially true if you have an important meeting in the morning and you want to avoid being stuck in the bathroom of your hotel room.

Try to steer clear of communal objects like airplane pillows and blankets unless they’re wrapped and sealed.  Bring an inflatable pillow if you need it, or better yet, one of the types that store completely flat.  It’s got a nice hollow for your face to provide darkness, a place to comfortably cross your arms, and it is even soft and comfortable!  Getting a few hours of comfortable sleep can be just the ticket.  Don’t forget the earplugs for much-needed silence!

Useful Tools

A complete set of international electrical plug adapters is generally small and can be a virtual lifesaver.  Your laptop may have enough USB ports that you can charge all of your electronics without having to bring along all their unique transformers.  That saves weight and space.  Sometimes renting a phone is cost effective (and required in some countries that don’t support your phone-type, such as Japan).

Carry candy or energy bars with you.  One winter storm in an airport that has sold out of food is enough to make that a must-have.  Also, keep a notepad handy if you’re hitting a lot of hotels on a long trip so you don’t mix up yesterday’s room number with the one you just received.  Finally, always buy a copy of the local paper, irrespective of language, and carry it when you’re out.  It makes you look like a local so a certain element of the population will turn their attention elsewhere.

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The Takeaway

All things being equal, the person who does the most planning and has the wherewithal to stick to their schedule is going to be the person who succeeds in enjoying their business trip rather than just “getting through it”.  Plan, accomplish, and succeed!

Further Reading:  Weighing the Pros and Cons of Jobs That Require Travel

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Guidelines for Evaluating a Job Offer

Getting a new job offer is both exciting and nerve-wracking at once. The excitement goes hand-in-hand with any step forward in your professional career. The nerves come into play as they do with any major life transition. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s settle in and keep a cool head while we examine the preceding step to all this: receiving a job offer and how to properly evaluate it while keeping your best interests in mind.

A solid job offer provides a glimpse of what individuals should expect from their future employer, even beyond compensation and job description. New hires just need to keep their ear to the ground to pick up on all the details, such as the seriousness of the proposal and hints toward the culture of the company, itself.

Job offer

Perhaps most importantly, new hires should not feel compelled or pressured to decide immediately. Let the initial rush settle before you reply so that you can take a clear and level head, with your own interests and career goals firmly in mind before you engage with their overture. Even career-veterans sometimes allow themselves to act with a bit too much spontaneity; and understandably so. After all, at its heart, an offer is an open acknowledgement of your value and talent.

Step by Step

There is a superfluity of guideline compilations out there, yet many of them reiterate similar notions.  We’ve drawn together some of the best (and occasionally overlooked) items for you to take along as you consider if a new position is right for you.

  • Salary. Your primary and most obvious consideration: The compensation must be within your acceptable range.
  • Benefits and Perks. There can be a lot to unpack here and not all of it is going to be glaringly obvious. So make sure that you review the list carefully. Consider (and ask, if they don’t mention) whether the position offers savings, health care, relocation compensation, leave, vacation time, profit sharing, reimbursements, etc. The list can go on extensively, so write out those that matter the most to you in descending priority and tackle them in order.
  • Ancillaries. These can range extensively, and may include items such as child care, specialty insurance, hazard pay, travel allocations, and so on. The list may be extensive, so be sure to cross-check the position you’ve been offered with the company background and the types of duties they’ll be expecting you to perform. As with any perks, if you don’t ask directly the matter may never come up.
  • Job Title and Description. Is your role congruous with what was decided upon during your final interview and/or verbal agreement?  Be sure that there are no surprises in your listed title and responsibilities, as far as your written job offer is concerned.

Do your Research

This point cannot be overstated. Before responding in any way to the offer, get online and do some sleuthing. Look up the company, look up consumer reports, employee reviews, media events, and so on. The insight and data you’ll glean will be absolutely invaluable towards making the right decision, and will arm you with the surety to ask for more than you may have previously thought you could.

There’s another aspect to all this that you shouldn’t forget to think about: the nature of the company itself. In your professional career, as in all things, your core values must come into play. Your life is the sum total of what you stand for and who you are as a person; and your career is not magically separate from that equation. People often have to make moral compromises to their values and personal ethics in their line of work, but what to remember is that there is a line, and it’s never comfortable to cross over it.

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Do your best to ensure that your next professional steps will be in line with your core values and the things that matter to you as a human being; or at the very least, don’t compromise you to the point of feeling irredeemable.

Further Reading:  How Job Seekers Can Identify Their Best Company Culture

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Have You Chosen the Wrong Job? How to Recover and get Back on Track

Do you go to work simply because that’s the expectation both from yourself and from your employer?  Are you perplexed at the thought that there are those who enjoy going to work each day?  While it’s true that only a small percentage of people truly love their jobs, and would happily do it even without any pay, about 30 percent of us manage to garner some satisfaction from our daily work.

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It’s Easier to Hate than Love

While it has been said that 70 percent of all people “hate” their jobs, this can be somewhat misleading.  More believable, is the statistic that approximately 20 percent of the workforce is actively disengaged from their job, and the remaining 50 percent are just muddling through, feeling unappreciated, unrewarded, and undervalued.

In a sense, “hating your job” alleviates a certain amount of pressure; it deceptively “relieves” you of the responsibility of having to perform at peak levels; you no longer feel as if you have to put forth a stellar effort because no one will care or notice.  Unfortunately, disengaged employees often feel as though they can “drop off the radar” and let someone with a higher profile handle the criticism for underperformance.

Why would you do that?

In the “olden days” we arose, worked our fields, possibly stopped at midday for a crust of bread and some water, and continued until dusk.  We returned to our rude huts, ate our one meal of the day, and went to bed.  The next day consisted of the same drill, and so on.  We survived/existed, and that was all.

Then, the Industrial Revolution came along.  Jobs became more productive; goods became more available and diverse; and, finally, we developed “leisure time”.  Some people became specialists; they became artisans such as blacksmiths, leather workers, and candle makers, and their value to society increased.

Workers began to see what it was like to experience success within their chosen line of work; they had increased expectations and took on apprentices, and their learners had increased expectations, too.  Expansion and success created the business/shopkeeper class, but largely, most people persisted in “survival mode” for many centuries.

Cometh the Dawn

People have always had ambition toward their jobs, hoping to improve their lot and sometimes expending extraordinary effort to accomplish just that.  Yet, up until the last two decades, it was never the responsibility of the employer to generate job satisfaction for the employees.

In fact, the truth is, it technically still isn’t.  In order to hang onto significant talent some companies are making an effort (for some employees) to make their job rewarding.  In so doing, they manage to retain them with the company for as long as possible.  That’s simply good business.  People who have made an investment in themselves, to cultivate talents which make them valuable, should be valued and protected.

Even throughout the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, the majority of workers weren’t viewed distinctly enough to warrant special attention.  There were plenty of others that could replace them.

Nowadays, specialized skills, such as those found in IT, are vital to most every company.  The more common skills, such as sales staff, labor, general accountancy, customer service, and so on are more easily replaced and so, often, no special effort is made to create job satisfaction.  This fact alone, may likely explain why 70 percent of us aren’t thrilled with our jobs.

Signs for Change

You’ve been at the job for 6, 12, or 18 months, and the honeymoon phase as come to an end.  Many of the things you were promised have never materialized; some aspects may have been under-delivered; the company may have “changed direction” and the situation may even have deteriorated to some extent.  For example:

  • You’re bored and underutilized.  Your skills are growing rusty from lack of use.
  • You dread going to work each morning because you know that your daily efforts will result in continued futility.
  • Your overtime has become a daily affair, spiraling out of control and significantly affecting your non-work life; expectations for a single worker are too high/unrealistic.
  • The office culture is in direct opposition to you.  It seems plodding and slow, when your tendency is to be on the go all the time (or vice-versa).
  • You exchange pleasantries with fellow workers, but there is not a single one that you would call a “friend” (or even an esteemed acquaintance).
  • You can’t identify the path to move ahead; you can’t find a way to earn a promotion and get away from an unfulfilling daily grind.
  • The company is on shaky financial ground, and maybe it’s time for you to move on before you get drawn down with them.
  • You’re experiencing apathy, or skyrocketing anxiety; you’re gaining or losing weight, and/or suffering from stress-related exhaustion.
  • Your direct manager appears outwardly stressed, unhappy, and/or in a continuous state of panic. His/her own disorganization increases as the chances that you (or your coworkers) will receive the blame for mistakes when superiors begin to seek answers.

Leave or Stay?

Even if you have only been at your job for a month or two, if you realize that the company is a bad fit, getting back into the job market might leave you with some explaining to do about this short-lived position. However, it can be done, and, likewise, it should not be the sole reason for staying.

On the other hand, being honest with your current employer and saying “This isn’t working out the way I expected” could actually generate some positive changes.  If they like your work, they could very well adjust aspects of your job that would make it completely acceptable to you.  You might actually find yourself with a lifelong career, simply because you spoke up.

Regardless of your choice, you will still need to step up your networking; since ending a months-long search when you obtained this job could lead to complacency about your contact list.  If asked point-blank about changing jobs so soon, rather focus on the fact that, while the job wasn’t an ideal fit, you gained valuable skills and experience which will prove beneficial in future positions.

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Making the Move

Do you need to enroll in four more years of college?  Almost certainly not; most times you merely need to move to a different environment, a different company with similar duties, where you enjoy a better fit.

Even if you are targeting a complete career change, there are plenty of transferable skills.  However, don’t just quit right away.  Plan your job search so that you will not go without a salary which could force you into another less-than-ideal employment situation.

The Takeaway

Before you go, make sure you leave something behind, a legacy if you will, that leaves the company just little bit better off than you found it.  It might be a new way of managing the office sports pool, or a complete redesign of the inventory system for the whole company.  Leave something good behind.  That’s the sort of thing that will follow you, and cast you in a positive light long after you’ve moved on.

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

What Not To Say During Your Next Job Interview

If you’ve been navigating through the job market for any length of time, you are well aware of how important it is to present yourself in the what-not-to-say-on-an-interview-professionals-at-tablebest possible light during a job interview.  Although even amidst the best of intentions, there is always the possibility that even a slight margin of error within our choice of words could cost us a job opportunity.  Chances are, you’ve expended a great deal of time and effort choosing the right responses and questions, but how much time have you spent researching what you should specifically avoid saying to an interviewer?

Your goal is to ensure that your prospective employer will remember you for your invaluable skills and winning personality, rather than any (completely avoidable) verbal blunders. Here are five of the most important statements (and questions) to steer clear of on your next job interview.

1.  “You can find it on my resume.”

If your interviewer feels that a question regarding a portion of your skill set, work experience, or education, etc. is important enough to discuss face to face, you can be assured it’s an important part of the job you’re interviewing for.  Be ready to verbally elaborate on aspects of your resume on the spot, and never refer your interviewer back to the page it’s written on.  Besides looking to learn more about your skills as they directly relate to the position, he or she is also observing your overall communication and articulation skills. Use this opportunity to show your interviewer that you are so much more than a just summary of your past job duties.

 2.  “What does your company do?”

One of the most prominent rules in preparing for a job interview is to research the company with which you’re seeking employment.  Luckily, some dedicated online investigating is really all it takes.  To go the extra mile, some extra networking inquiries can also help you glean more background on the company you have in mind.  However you choose to go about it, the one thing that cannot be argued is that it is really quite undeniably simple.  What’s more, employers know this; so asking such a basic question as “What does your company do?” shows an unfortunate lack of preparation on your end.  While there is always more to learn about an organization, a savvy candidate knows the basics of the company before he or she walk into the interview and is ready to appropriately present this knowledge.

3.  “My last company (or boss) was terrible.”

Any negative adjective at the end of that statement will still be equally as detrimental to the outcome of your interview.  While expressing thatwhat-not-to-say-on-an-interview-graphic you are looking to improve or build upon your prior experience or advance within your career is perfectly fine, directly disparaging or criticizing a former employer is never a good idea, whether it’s the company as a whole or just the individual for whom you directly worked.  While your friends and family may understand, speaking negatively about your prior place of employment during an interview-setting actually reflects more negatively upon you than the company you’re describing. If your last job was in fact a negative experience, try to at least keep your statements as neutral as possible, focusing mostly on the skills and expertise you developed and acquired while there.  Maintaining concentration on what you learned and how you grew within your position and field will help the interviewer understand your role with your previous employer, while reducing the need for you to elaborate on the company itself or its employees.   If your interviewer directly asks why you left your prior job, try simply expressing that while you respected the company for its decisions and understood their needs, you feel you would like to search for a better fit and opportunity.

4.  “What is your vacation/personal-day policy?”

Of course, we all want to work for an employer with reasonable, if not exceptional, paid-time-off policies, but unless the interviewer chooses to offer this information on his or her own accord (which is unlikely during a first interview), refrain from asking this question.  Considering all of the preliminaries to be discovered and understood on a first interview, advising your prospective employer that your next batch of days off is first and foremost in your mind may indicate that this job would possibly not be your first priority, or perhaps you are simply one to take off from work frequently.  It’s unlikely and rare that a quality organization would not have some type of paid-time-off allowances.  However, if there are personal reasons that make this an especially important issue for you, research ahead of time to find out if the company is considered a “family friendly” organization.  Otherwise, save this question for your last interview when you’ve sealed the deal, or perhaps for when you meet with HR, provided the information hasn’t already been presented to you.

5.  “I have a lot going on at home.”

This, or any statement, for that matter, that involves or describes difficult personal issues or challenges you are experiencing in your non-professional life, should be avoided.  While your interviewer may be sympathetic on a human level, it prompts the notion that you may be sidetracked or overwhelmed enough to not perform at your best working capacity, or that perhaps your personal challenges may even cut into the hours at your job.  Even if you actually are an extremely focused worker and none of these speculations are accurate, going into detail about your personal struggles is still enough to trigger some red flags in the mind of your interviewer.

The best advice:  When in doubt, keep it professional and be prepared!

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

 

The Multifaceted Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs

Why Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeship programs are a type of paid learning strategy which merges on-the-job-training with classroom directives.  The good news is that this method has demonstrated a positive track-record of successfully teaching workers highly sought job skills.

apprenticeship-programs-group-of-workers-at-laptopJobs, especially middle-wage jobs, are returning to the employment market after being drastically reduced during the Great Recession of last decade. However, the workforce for these jobs is simultaneously aging and retiring, leaving numerous new jobs without many trained replacements. A growing trend in the United States is to incorporate apprenticeship programs to help train new employees and potentially save a great deal of money for companies in the process.

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently indicated that the United States is anticipating a shortage of 5 million technically certified and credentialed workers by the year 2020, as reported by Sarah Ayres Steinberg and Ben Schwartz, authors of “The Bottom Line: Apprenticeships Are Good for Business”. They continued that approximately half of U.S. executives employed at large-sized companies expected to have a shortage of competent workers within the next one to two years.  Predictably, employee retention is of high importance to competing companies in this tight job market; which is exactly where the concept of apprenticeships enters the equation.

Benefits to Workers and Employers

For many who do not understand how an apprenticeship program works, the fear of excess cost can be a major hindrance. Many employers are concerned that after spending resources to train new employees, these same employees may leave to work elsewhere, resulting in an ultimate loss in time and money for the company.

According to Angela Hanks, Associate Director for Workforce Development Policy, and Ethan Gurwitz, Research Associate with the Center’s Economic Policy Team, a 2012 study indicated that employers have been known to retain approximately 91 percent of employees who successfully completed apprenticeship programs for the same company.  Additional studies have indicated that employees who have received apprenticeship-programs-group-of-employees_smilingtheir training through apprenticeship programs have been happier at their jobs; as properly trained employees tend to have lower levels of frustration and higher levels of engagement, resulting in workers remaining with their employers for longer.

The turnover rate following apprenticeship training is much less than traditional hiring, which many experts also believe is the result of employees feeling more loyal to an employer who would take the time and money to train them.  Moreover, individuals who participate in apprenticeships are known to command greater earning power over the course of their careers than non-apprentices.

Another benefit of apprenticeship programs is the ability to keep a steady supply of well-trained employees who have been taught according the specifications of your organization.  These programs allow for tailored training so that new employees will be learning procedures in such a way that meets the specific needs of the company.

Community Advantages

“Apprenticeship programs are also an effective government investment. In 2013, Washington State projected that for every $1 it spent on apprenticeship, taxpayers would see a $23 return on investment,” noted Hanks and Gurwitz.

According to one Canadian study, employers actually earned $1.47 back for every $1 invested in an apprenticeship program. In November 2016, a U.S. Department of Commerce study examined the investment return of apprenticeships at 13 firms. Of the firms studied, each discovered that the program offered a definitive value as well as particular benefits which more than warranted the costs, resources, and commitments made toward the trained apprentices.

Conclusion

Finally, Hanks and Gurwitz indicated that companies who invest resources in apprenticeship programs are dually investing in the middle skills that are so important to the current and upcoming job market.  The restoration of middle-wage jobs is a sign of increasing and rebounding employer demand; indicating that now is the best time to develop skills with moderate earning-power for greater stability, retention, and ultimate earning potential for the long haul.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200