Popular Posts

Do You Suck at Networking? Here’s Help

January 29th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

nametagEverybody knows how important networking is for your career, right? Well, most people may intellectually KNOW that they should be networking, but I am continually amazed that so many refuse to actually do it. And these are smart people. They just happen to be smart people who loathe the idea of walking into a room full of strangers with nothing but a name badge and a nervous smile.

But in today’s job market, networking is not just important. It’s critical. There is more competition for every opening and you need more than a great resume. It’s not enough to spend your days stalking the job boards (in fact, it’s a quick way to lose your mind if you don’t step away and talk to real humans once in a while).

So why are so many job searchers still stubbornly avoiding networking? I got a new sense of the level of resistance out there at a recent event for job hunters at The New York Public Library. I conducted several 20-minute “speed career coaching” sessions over the course of the day and spoke with people at many different career stages — from recent grads to seasoned industry vets.

They all had one thing in common — all said that they knew they should be networking more, but just couldn’t bring themselves to do it. They all needed to step up their networking games. And I hope they all will take my advice to step out of their comfort zones and start connecting and reconnecting.

Obviously, I’m not the only one telling them that networking is important. I recently saw a study that quantified the value of a strong professional network. According to research by Pepperdine University and Upwardly Mobile Inc., 70% of executives credit networking for their current jobs (compared to just 16% who credit job listings). And most aren’t even networking well — 75% said that they spend fewer than two hours per week on networking and focus on the wrong things.

So how can you become a better networker? Upwardly Mobile, the company behind the study cited above, has actually developed a nifty little web-based tool to help you. UpMo.com is currently in beta and I recently had the opportunity to test it out so I can give you the scoop.
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How to Get Started in Freelancing or Consulting | A Guide for the Recently Laid-Off

June 24th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Given the seemingly-daily announcements of new corporate layoffs, it’s no surprise that my most frequently asked question of the moment is about how to start a career as a freelancer or independent consultant. Many of these queries come from the recently downsized. Some of them are looking for ways to make extra cash while hunting for their next full-time position. Others are fed up with layoffs and bad corporate behavior and thinking about making a permanent switch to working for themselves.

If you’re currently between jobs (or fear you may be soon), I recommend giving the freelance life a try. Even if you have no interest in working for yourself long-term, it’s a great way to create a temporary cash flow and make valuable contacts (those freelance clients will likely be hiring for full-time positions eventually).

Freelancing is also a good way to take control when the indignities of the typical job search start to make you feel powerless. Who knows? You may be so successful on your own  that you’ll never want to return to cubicle life. I know many thriving solopreneurs who started freelancing as a temporary arrangement between gigs and got hooked.

So how do you get started? If you’ve been laid off, you’re probably  itching to start making some money fast. That’s why I put together the tips below on how to quickly land those first paying gigs (for more in-depth advice on launching a career as a solopreneur, please also check out Chapter 8 of  Escape from Corporate America). 

1) Define your service offering. For some of you, this is a no-brainer. Certain career specializations lend themselves to freelancing more easily than others. For example, there is always demand for freelance writers, designers, and programmers. But there are also plenty of opportunities for those whose skills are not quite as easily packaged. Think about who might be able to use your knowledge, talents and experience on a freelance basis. Can you manage projects, advise on strategy, conduct research, or revamp processes (to name just a few examples)? It’s important to be proactive about defining what you can do. Don’t just wait around for potential clients to tell you what they need.

2) Set your rates. The question of what to charge can be a challenging one. When you’re starting out, setting your rate will be more art than science. Do your research on the going market rates for similar services by checking out listings for freelancing and consulting assignments on the sites mentioned in Tip #3 below. Join a networking group for independent professionals in your field (like Freelancers’ Union or Mediabistro for example) and ask other members about appropriate fee ranges. As a newbie, you’ll probably have to be a bit flexible. Once you’ve got some experience to back up your claims of greatness and a better understanding of your fair market value, you can always adjust your rates accordingly.

 3) Find assignments. There are potential clients out there looking for you right now. You just have to know where to find them.

  • Start with online freelance marketplaces like eLance.com and Guru.com. You can browse through available projects and bid on the ones that interest you.
  • Job boards like Monster.com and Hotjobs.com can also be good sources. Search for "freelance" or "contract" positions. Similarly, there are often freelance job listings on Craigslist. Many of these listings are placed by staffing agencies that frequently fill contract positions. Make note of which agencies have posted attractive opportunities and consider contacting them directly to ask about other openings.For example, Hired Guns is a NYC-based agency that specializes in contract and freelance work.

4)  Do your own business development. Not all great assignments are listed. That’s why it pays to reach out to your network and let people know that you are available for freelance or contract work. Describe the types of projects that you’re seeking and express your appreciation for any leads or suggestions. And don’t stop with the people that you already know. Spend a few bucks on some business cards for your freelancing business and pass them out at networking events and other gatherings (you can get cheap business cards at VistaPrint, but I recommend steering clear of the free ones with the VistaPrint logo that make it obvious just HOW cheap your cards are). While you’re at it, update your profile on LinkedIn and Facebook (and other social networks and industry directories)  to reflect your new status as a consultant.

5) Get to work. Once you’ve got your first assignment, the hardest part is over. Do a great job, get paid, and prepare for more work to roll in.

Of course, it will take time to learn all of the ins and outs of freelance life — invoicing, managing your time, managing your clients, managing your cash flow, and all of that fun stuff. If you have questions about these or other aspects of making the move from employee to independent consultant, let me know and I I’ll address them in a future post. Similarly, if you’re an experienced independent contractor with tips for those new to the game, please share your wisdom.

The important thing to remember is that you don’t necessarily need a 9-to-5 job to pay your bills. That can be very reassuring news for anyone who has been laid off or is feeling panicky about the less-than-promising job market. If you’ve ever thought about what it might be like to work for yourself, now may be the perfect time to try it out.

Robert Scoble Interviews Pamela Skillings: The Importance of Finding Work You Love

May 21st, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

On Monday, I had the opportunity to meet super-blogger and author Robert Scoble for an interview at the beautiful FastCompany headquarters in 7 World Trade Center. We talked about Escape from Corporate America, his dream job with FastCompany, and the importance of finding work that you love.

Last week, I also had the opportunity to record a segment for ABC News Now and talk about financial planning tips for people changing careers.

6 Career Change Mistakes to Avoid

May 8th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Guest blogger Heather Johnson has some great advice on common career change mistakes and how to avoid them.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and shift your career, then you’re bound to be feeling a bit vulnerable.  As you make your transition, you will likely experience a myriad of  emotions including anger, anxiety, stress, excitement and terror.  With all of these emotions running wild, wrong turns sometimes start to look like good ideas  To minimize stress during your career change,  avoid these six common mistakes:

1.    Not having a plan in place.  Even if you have a clearly thought-out strategy to shift your career, it can still take a couple of months to complete.  If you just up and quit your current job with no plan in place, you may be facing an even longer and more stressful transition period. 

2.    Changing your career because you hate your job.  Don’t mix up your career with your job.  It may be that you’re at the wrong company but not in the wrong profession.  Don’t let a bad job make you rethink your career path.  Figure out if it’s your job or your career that you hate before making a drastic move.

3.    Making a change just for the money.  Remember the old adage that money can’t buy happiness when you feel lured by dollar signs toward a different career.  Even if a different profession inherently offers more money than your current field, be careful about switching for money alone.  If you switch and hate your new career, you’ll be spending that extra money to relieve your newfound stress.

4.    Changing careers due to pressure from others.  If you like your job and make a reasonable living, then you shouldn’t change your job because of what others have to say about it.  Your parents, spouse or friends don’t have to go to your job every day.  While you can certainly respect their opinions, don’t let those opinions dictate your career choices.

5.    Changing careers because someone you know is successful.  It’s human nature to compare yourself to your friends and family members.  But don’t make a hasty career change because you’re envious of the success a friend has had in a given field.  Put your competitive impulses aside and think about whether you would truly be happy in your friend’s shoes. 

6.    Searching for a new career without honing your skills.  Before you take the plunge and actually change your career, take the proper time to prepare. Do your homework on the field you’re interested in and seek out any additional training or knowledge you will need.  Make sure your resume is up to date and presents your qualifications in the best possible light.  Practice interviewing with friends and start building your network.

This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on the topic of career exploration. She invites you to email her with questions and writing job opportunities.

What I Learned from Oprah and Marcus Buckingham

April 18th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Okay, so I just finished watching Oprah’s "I Hate My Job Interventions" show with Marcus Buckingham. How cool is it that I actually found a work-related reason to watch an episode of Oprah?

Because I know those of you with corporate jobs don’t have the luxury of watching Oprah whenever you feel like it (I felt a little guilty about taking the time away from my computer myself), I’ll provide a little recap before I wrap up work and run out to enjoy a little bit of this beautiful day in New York City.

Here’s your "executive summary."

  • Oprah kicked off the show by citing a CareerBuilder survey that found that 84% of U.S. workers are unhappy in their jobs. This represents an even higher level of job dissatisfaction than those I found while researching my book (though I did find that up to 80% of corporate workers fantasized about leaving their jobs).
  • According to Marcus Buckingham, only a little more than one in ten workers say they actually have the opportunity to use their strengths at work.
  • There were four women profiled. All were struggling with different job dilemmas.
    • Vanessa, a pharmaceutical sales rep, said she disliked her job and the fact that it left so little time for her daughter. "I feel overwhelmed, underappreciated, and overworked." Marcus Buckingham coached her to get better at saying no to work projects and turning off her computer between 5PM and 8PM to focus on her daughter.
    • Ayesha said her job made her feel "tortured all the time" and that she loathed all of the job duties she performed on a daily basis. Marcus Buckingham coached her on how to build a bridge to a career that would better utilize her strengths.
    • Rachel was a teacher who was overwhelmed by the demands of her job. Marcus Buckingham coached her on how to make time for activities that re-energized her — like walking her dogs.
    • Beth was under extreme stress in a job that she didn’t feel qualified for. Because she worked for her husband’s company, she didn’t feel like she could walk away from the job without damaging the relationship. Marcus Buckingham advised her to have a conversation with her husband about changing her job responsibilities.
    • Good advice for all four women: Don’t bury your dream under mountains of "shoulds" and "have tos"
  • The bottom line, according to Oprah and Marcus, is that your real job in life is to find out why you are here. In order to make any kind of lasting contribution, your job must "feed" you in some way.

7 Reasons to Change Careers Now (Never Mind the Recession)

April 9th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Think a shaky economy means it’s too risky to make a career change? Think again. In fact, now may be the perfect time to make your move.

After all, long-term job market forecasts project severe labor shortages ahead as Baby Boomers continue to retire or scale back their careers in record numbers. While short-term job prospects don’t look quite as cheery, that doesn’t mean that opportunities don’t exist or that you’re stuck in job purgatory for the duration.

If you’ve been feeling unhappy in your current career, there’s no time like the present to kick-start your career change and position yourself for years of future success. Here’s why:

1) Your current job is not secure.

caution career change

You may be tempted to grit your teeth and cling to your current position until the economic forecasts start to look sunnier. In today’s workforce, that’s a dangerous strategy. When an 80+-year-old Wall Street institution like Bear Stearns can disappear practically overnight, no job is truly secure. It doesn’t really matter how good you are at your job or how much boss butt you kiss.

If you have been contemplating a career change, there’s no good reason to put it off until the unemployment rate falls again. I’m not suggesting that you make any rash moves like quitting before you’re financially ready, but you can start developing your career change strategy now. Get started on the homework you need to do while you’re still collecting your paycheck. Update your resume, step up your networking, explore your options, and develop your skills.

You will be taking a career risk whether you resign yourself to staying in the job you hate or start moving toward the job you’ll love. Why not put your energies into the risk that could have the biggest reward?

Put your career change in motion now, even if it’s only taking baby steps in your spare time. Not only will you be ready to launch your dream career that much sooner, you will also be better prepared just in case your name pops up on one of those downsizing lists unexpectedly.

2. Plenty of companies are hiring right now.

for hire

The overall job forecasts may look bleak at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that nobody’s hiring. There have been a flurry of articles about “recession-proof jobs”  in the media lately.  The fields that are expected to stay strong despite a possible recession include education, energy, health care, environmental careers, and international business. That doesn’t mean that you should flee blindly to these professions if they don’t inspire you. However, if your dream career is connected to any of these growing industries, you may find it fairly easy to make a move. 

Lots of other companies in all industries are also hiring. Yes, there are fewer job openings than there were at this time last year. Then again, you only need one good one. It may take a little bit longer to land a great position, but there’s no reason to abandon all hope.


3. But if you really want job security, you have to work for yourself.

pencil holder pig


When you work for yourself, you never have to worry about getting fired. Today, just about anybody with a computer and an Internet connection can start a business. You can even keep your day job if you want to (or need to for financial reasons while you build your business).

Of course, you’ll have to be prepared to put in some work. Running a successful business is no cakewalk and entrepreneurship may not be the right career move for everyone. However, it’s definitely the best way to go if you really want to live by your wits. You’ll have to find your own clients, manage your own time, and pay for your own bagels. But you’ll never be at the complete mercy of one boss or one company ever again.

4. Living in fear isn’t healthy.

worry


When layoff rumors start flying, it’s easy to get caught up in worry and speculation. We gossip about who deserves to go, we curse the stupid managers who got us into this mess to begin with, and we waste a lot of time on scary worst-case scenarios. If it goes on too long, this can sabotage your job performance and have an impact on your mental and physical health.

The best thing to do to stop the madness is channel your energy into something constructive – like preparing for your career change. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel once you’ve taken charge of the situation and are actively working toward your next career move.

5. Sometimes you need someone to light a fire under your ass.

lit match


Apologies if that sounds harsh. But the truth is that lots of people stay stuck for years in careers that are uninspiring or downright miserable. Why? Because it never gets quite bad enough to force them to make a move. I know I stayed in my corporate career for a good couple of years longer than I should have because of my belief that “it could be worse.” Nice words to live by, huh?

A layoff or the threat of layoffs could be just the spark you need to get moving on the career change that you’ve been fantasizing about for a while. I can’t tell you how many people I know who felt overcome with relief after getting served with pink slips. They had been ready to leave for a while, but just hadn’t been able to work up the nerve to walk away on their own.

6. You can turn a layoff into a stroke of luck.

luck clover four leaf


That’s not to say that I take layoffs lightly. I know how devastating it can be to lose your job when you’re unprepared financial and/or emotionally. I’ve been in that position and it’s not a lot of fun. Not at first, at least.

That’s why I think it’s so important to get moving on your career change plans now, no matter what the economists are saying. Then, even if the layoff fairy visits before you’re 100% ready to leave, you’ll still be several steps ahead of the average job-hunter. 

In fact, if you do your homework and prepare for your career change in your spare time, you might soon find yourself longing for a layoff. After all, a good severance package can give you a nice head start on your new career if you’re adequately prepared. Even some of us who weren’t perfectly prepared have managed to leverage severance packages as start-up funds for our new careers.


7. There’s never a perfect time to change careers.

thinking career change

The bottom line is that there will never be a perfect time for a career change. The perfect opportunity will never just fall into your lap. You will never achieve anything great without at least a little bit of risk and some hard work.

If you are unhappy in your current career, it’s worth taking a calculated risk. And it’s better to start now than to waste more of the best days of your life stuck in a dreary job hoping for the right moment to come along.

How to Keep Your Job During a Recession

March 25th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

There’s an interesting article on Yahoo! (by way of AllBusiness.com) titled  5 Ways to Keep Your Job During a Recession.

There are a lot of articles like this one popping up, so it’s pretty clear that people are feeling job security anxiety these days. And this piece features some good advice. It’s always a good idea to boost your visibility (in positive ways only, of course) and marketability. Another tip that wasn’t mentioned — focus on maintaining a strong relationship with your boss (and, ideally, your boss’s boss) and make sure he/she knows about all of the valuable things that you do. Make sure that decision makers are aware of the value that you provide to the company.

However, I think the most valuable advice comes in the conclusion of the article: "And, because there’s no guarantee that you will retain your job in a recession, no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. On your own time, update your resume. Also, make sure that you are still networking with old bosses, coworkers, and business contacts. Don’t wait until you are laid off to keep your contacts and resume fresh. You will get better results if you are prepared ahead of time."

Amen. The bottom line  is that there is no way to control whether you’ll keep your job during a recession or even during a strong economy. Today, all corporations go through layoffs and it’s hard to predict when or how they are going to happen. It’s not only companies in underperforming sectors that lay people off. You can waste a lot of time and energy worrying about layoffs that would be better spent preparing to minimize any negative fallout if it does happen.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I think people should keep in mind that strong performance is no guarantee that you’ll stick around. I have seen many valuable employees get laid off and many slackers survive job cuts. I have wasted many hours gossiping about layoff rumors, speculating about the safety of my job, and ostentatiously "adding value" in every meeting to show how indispensable I was. All of that while I could have been working on my resume.

The truth is that layoff decisions are often made for reasons that have nothing to do with performance. Sometimes an entire department is laid off or just the people who make the highest salaries in a certain group.

That’s why you can’t ever take it personally. Future employers know that getting laid off is no reflection on your value as an employee or a person. In fact, most job candidates at this point can probably boast at least one lay-off on their resumes.

So yes, you should keep performing well. This is no time to slack off. But stop gossiping, worrying, and biting your nails. Instead, use your spare time to step up your passive job search efforts and start looking for your next position. Even if you don’t end up needing a new job, it’s always a good idea to keep your options open.

10 Ways to Stay Sane in a Horrible, Horrible Job

February 27th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Is your job making you crazy? Spending 40+ hours per week in a stressful work environment can take a serious toll on both your mental and physical health. Job stress has been linked to conditions including anxiety, depression, ulcers, obesity, chronic back pain, high blood pressure, and heart disease. That "I hate my job" feeling could literally be making you sick.

But it’s not always easy to walk away from a bad job. I speak from experience. I learned about all of the sanity savers on this list the hard way – I stayed in a job I didn’t like for years before I worked up the courage to quit.

1. Make a Plan to Get Out

job stress businessman

The most important first step is to get serious about changing your situation. You will be amazed at how much less aggravating your job can become once you have a solid plan to get out. Even the worst days are easier to bear if you know the end is in sight.

So think about what you can do to stop the madness – get off of that hellish project, transfer to a different department, replace that incompetent employee, or figure out how to quit your job and move on to something more fulfilling. What would it take to make things better? And then, what do you need to do to get there?

If your job is running you ragged, the idea of making time for planning can be daunting. That’s why so many people stay stuck in bad situations. But you have to prioritize your long-term health and happiness and find the time, even if that means your days become a little more hectic in the short term. The reward of a better job situation is well worth the temporary strain. We can’t depend on our employers to guide our career paths anymore. It is up to us to take charge. And if we don’t proactively plan, we run the risk of getting caught up in momentum toward goals we don’t even really want.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

job stress mental health

One way to make time for hatching your escape plan is to take a mental health day. That’s right. Play hooky. Some of you Type A personalities may have trouble with this idea. However, if you’re on the verge of burnout and your employer refuses to let up the pace, you may have to take matters into your own hands.

A day away from the madness can be a great way to get some perspective. It’s easy to start taking work way too personally when you never have a chance to step back and view things objectively. At the same time, countless studies have found that people perform better when they have time away to refresh.

So you owe it to yourself and your company to take a day off if you’ve reached your limit. You can call in sick and you don’t even have to lie. You’re “not feeling well enough to come in.” After all, burnout can be just as debilitating as a bad cold.

3. Take a Walk

job stress woman walking

You don’t have to take a whole day off to benefit from a little mental health break. Even a ten-minute break to step away from your desk and take a few deep breaths can be beneficial when you’re feeling stressed out.

Even better, getting out of the office environment for a little bit longer can give you the space you need to figure out a better solution to the problem at hand or defuse a negative situation. When you’re feeling out of control or on the verge of saying or doing something you might regret, just walk away. Take a walk around the block or duck out to the gym and work out your negative energy.

Just stop what you’re doing, get away from the people who are getting on your last nerve, and focus your mind on something besides the cause of your stress. If you can, go outside for a breath of fresh air. Psychological studies have shown that gazing at views of nature can provide relief from mental fatigue and enhance competence.

4. Make Time for Activities that Energize You

job stress golf

All work and no play make Jack not only a dull boy, but also a very cranky one. If you’re not getting the fulfillment you need at work, you have to make time for your passions after hours. Without a regular dose of joy in your life, burnout is inevitable.

Think about what’s missing. Do you need a creative outlet? Do you long to be able to make a bigger difference in the world? Do you hunger for greater intellectual challenge? Look into hobbies, classes, or volunteer work that can help you fill the void. You may think you don’t have time for fun or fulfillment, but I can guarantee you that a little bit of inspiration will give you more energy and make your days much more pleasant.

5. Make Friends In and Out of the Office

job stress children

Recent research studies show job satisfaction increases by nearly 50 percent when you have a close friend at work. It’s a lot more fun to come to the office when you have colleagues that you like and respect. Having friends at the office is even more important when you’re stuck in a miserable job. You need at least one trusted confidante that you can vent to. You can also benefit from the informed advice and support of colleagues who know all of the players and issues that you’re dealing with.

At the same time, make sure that you continue to cultivate a circle of interesting friends outside the office. The very act of getting away from work and work people to enjoy totally unrelated activities and discussions can be very rejuvenating. Spending time with “normal” people can also provide you with new and healthier perspectives on your work. You may even meet someone who can hire you or recommend you for a better job. You certainly won’t find job leads if you spend all of your evenings crying into your beer with the gang from the office.

6. Sleep On It

job stress bear

If you’re dealing with a stressful job, chances are good that you haven’t been getting enough sleep. When schedules get hectic, people tend to start cutting back on their sleep hours in order to fit everything in. We’ve all pulled an occasional all-nighter when an important project called for it. However, consistent neglect of your body’s natural need for sleep can make you more irritable and lead to significantly lower job satisfaction.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may very well be better off going home to bed than working late. You’ll think more clearly in the morning and be more productive. Likewise, if you have a big decision to make or are feeling tempted to respond emotionally to a work conflict, try sleeping on the situation in order to get enough distance (and rest) to make an informed choice.

7. Book Your Vacation Now

job stress vacation

Research has shown that workers who take regular vacations have lower stress levels and are less likely to experience burnout. Unfortunately, half of U.S. workers don’t take the vacation days they’re given. In fact, U.S. workers forfeited approximately 421 million vacation days in 2005.

If you’ve got vacation days coming, don’t put them off any longer. A vacation lets you recharge your batteries so that you can do a better job at work when you return. It can also give you time and distance to think about your job situation and how you’d like it to change.

Even if you can’t get away right now, you can schedule your trip and start planning your vacation activities. Scheduling your getaway now will give you something specific to look forward to and think about on those days when work feels like it will never get better.

8. Laugh It Off

job stress baby

Did you know that humor can reduce job stress, boost morale, strengthen workplace bonds, and even help ward off burnout? And here you thought all those stupid forwarded joke emails were complete wastes of time.

A little comedy can help you release tension and lighten up a bit. So keep your funniest friend’s phone number handy and call when you’re having a bad day. Upload sets by your favorite stand-up comics to your iPod and take a quick comedy break when you need one. After all, it’s physically impossible to feel totally miserable when you’re laughing.

9. Just Breathe

job stress breathing

You may have heard this advice before, but it bears repeating. When things get tough, deep breathing can take you from crazed to calm in just a few minutes.

When we get stressed, we tend to start breathing more shallowly. As a result, our cells don’t get as much oxygen and when your brain cells don’t get enough oxygen, it’s hard to think clearly or calmly.

The best quick relief for feeling overwhelmed is to just breathe. Find a secluded or semi-secluded spot, close your eyes, and focus on taking deep slow breaths from your belly. Keep your mind on your breathing and refuse to be distracted by other thoughts or outside noises, if only for a minute or two. This process will help you get that oxygen to your brain while also clearing out unproductive thoughts. It can be a great temporary fix when you’re feeling frazzled.

10. Get Some Help

job stress coaching

If you’ve tried everything that you can think of to make your bad job tolerable and you’re still suffering, it may be time to call in some outside help. Working with a career counselor or coach could help you more clearly identify the root causes of your job misery and explore solutions that you haven’t thought about. If your work situation is having a serious emotional impact, you may prefer to speak with a counselor or therapist.

There’s no need to suffer in silence and no shame in asking for help. They don’t give out medals for bravely enduring terrible jobs.

If your job is affecting your mental or your physical health, you owe it to yourself to do whatever you can to make the situation better. While your ultimate goal may be a better job, these ten tips can help you keep your sanity until you’re ready to give your notice.

Do you have additional ideas for minimizing stress in a horrible job? Share your stories and advice and add to the list.

Prepare for a Layoff

January 21st, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Do all of the recent headlines about corporate job cuts make you nervous? Have you heard rumors that a downsizing may be on the horizon at your company?

Unfortunately, no job is 100% secure in today’s market. But there’s no reason to panic. There are steps you can take now to minimize the negative fallout from a potential layoff.

Check out my post on Lifehack.org for advice from someone who has become a reluctant expert on corporate layoffs and reorganizations.

Telecommuting Is Good For You (And Your Company)

November 28th, 2007

Written by Pamela Skillings

Your dilemma: You’d love to work from home a few days a week but your boss thinks telecommuting is just an opportunity to slack off and watch Oprah. Well, I’ve got just what you need to make your case: Real numbers from an academic study that shows that telecommuting is better for both workers and bosses.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University looked at data on 12,833 telecommuters and found that telecommuting programs have beneficial effects for both the workers and their employers. Study results showed that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance, and higher performance ratings by supervisors. Managers supervising telecommuters also reported that their performance was not negatively affected by working from home.

And if your boss argues that face time at the office is necessary to foster good work relationships, you can oh-so-diplomatically beg to differ. Telecommuters who worked away from their offices for less than three days per week did not see their work relationships suffer Those who were out of the office for three days per week or more, however, did see their bonds with co-workers diminish.

If you have been fantasizing about telecommuting, now may be the time to pitch the idea to your boss. Approximately 45 million Americans telecommuted in 2006. If you want to join their ranks, your best bet is to put together a written proposal for your boss. Address any of her potential concerns and explain the business value of the arrangement for the company. Perhaps you will be able to start work earlier or work later because you can cut out a long commute. Or maybe you can deliver higher-quality work in an environment away from the cubicle-farm distractions where you can focus. Cite the results of the Penn State study to help make your case and show that you’ve done your homework.

Be prepared to compromise. If your manager remains skeptical, offer to do a trial run for a few weeks and see how it goes. Then bend over backward to show that you can be even more productive from home than you can be in the office.

If all goes well, you will soon be be enjoying the benefits of the telecommuter’s life. Of course, there are also challenges to making telecommuting work, but most find that the increased flexibility and the reduced commute time are well worth any effort required to adapt. Just ask those guys from Penn State.