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Put your Best Foot Forward in Temp Jobs

temp jobsThe National Employment Law Project reports that temporary workers fill 2.5% of all jobs in the US.  Millions of new college grads, people reentering the workforce or those making career transitions will often have to spend some time in temp jobs.  No matter how long the assignment, temp jobs are an opportunity to put your best foot forward and be an impressive employee.

Be a Team Player and Get Along With Other People

The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveys employers annually to find out which skills employers seek from new hires. Teamwork and the ability to work well with others consistently shows up on that list. Be prepared to demonstrate this ability on resumes, in the interview and in temp jobs.

Be Respectful

Showing respect for supervisors, co-workers and customers is a good workplace habit whether or not you are working in temp jobs. If there are workplace issues, consult with the staffing agency or your supervisor rather than be disrespectful to colleagues.

Be Able to Manage Time

When working temp jobs, every hour counts.   If you are late, not only are you losing potential wages, you are limiting the time you have to learn.  New grads especially need to know that the workplace is far more time sensitive than campus. There are not many opportunities to turn in late work or show up late. If you are working temp jobs, you may not get a second chance to make a first impression.

Be Dependable and Show up as Scheduled

Employers rely on temp workers to help their businesses. Temps and supervisors can collaborate on work schedules ahead of time and employers expect temp workers to show up as promised.  Not only will you annoy the recruiter who helped you find the job, you’ll destroy any chance of turning the temp job into a permanent opportunity.

Be Willing to Go Above and Beyond

To have success in temp jobs, workers should demonstrate a willingness to go above and beyond expectations.

Be an Effective Communicator

Temp workers should develop and use their strong interpersonal and communication skills on the job.  Although college students exist in a “sound-bite” and text messaging world, they should learn that a different type of communication is required in the workplace.

Be Visible

Hiding from work is not an option even in a temp job. Supervisors do not want to search for workers who are trying to avoid assignments.  Some temp jobs can offer great visibility from company leadership and decision-makers.  If you are trying to convert the opportunity to a permanent hire, you have to be visible.

Be Willing to Learn and Be Open to Criticism

Temp workers should keep their supervisors informed of the work they are doing and ask for feedback on their performance. Ask for clarifications of instructions and ask for help when it is needed. Employers much prefer working with people who ask for clarification rather than make costly product mistakes or, even worse, jeopardize their own personal safety or the safety of others.

Be Confident and Ask for Additional Assignments or Training

As new skills are mastered, employers are very open to changing the roles of workers in temp jobs if it will enhance overall business productivity.

If you have done good work in a temp job, you might be able to secure longer term assignments, permanent jobs, good networking connections and even be able to ask for reference letters at the end of a temp job assignment.

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College Admissions Staff Looking at Social Media

admissions staff looking at social mediaNew York Times article shared that college admissions staff looking at social media as they evaluate candidates.  In a survey of college admissions professionals, 35% of respondents said they had visited the social media pages of college applicants.  Only 16% of the admissions staff said they found information that actually hurt the applicant.  This isn’t great news, but it’s better than it was the year before, when more than 30% said they had found information of social media pages that disqualified candidates.

What college admissions staff say

In the article, Morehouse College Director of Admissions, Darryl Isom, said how shocked his staff was a few years ago when they realized that email addresses for applicants “made sexual innuendos while others invoked gangster rap songs or drug use.”

Branding your college negatively with social media

I happen to know this first hand because I often, in my own timeline on Twitter, have been shocked by what students say, show and discuss.  I check the #HBCU hashtag often and have been surprised to see students not only using inappropriate language and photos, but doing so while mentioning the names of their colleges and universities.  I can tell you that I have DM’ed quite a few students and so far they have all responded positively.  Many have thanked me for helping them and cleaned up their profiles, bios and TL.  Thank heavens I haven’t had any negative responses.

Teach students to use social media

Many students just don’t know that employers and college admissions staff looking at social media.  Once they know, most will take action.

My job is to keep reminding them to make wiser decisions about social media use.

Read the full article here – Toning Down the Tweets Just in Case Colleges Pry

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Vanishing Jobs and Disappearing Companies

vanishing jobsIf you think today’s college students are too young to know about vanishing jobs and disappearing companies; think again.  Consider companies like Blockbuster and West Coast Videos, both former game and video rental stores.

Even my 23 year-old son remembers our Friday evening rituals of picking up pizza and a video.  Neither company exists today.

Vanishing Jobs

Both companies were replaced by new business models and technology that spurred growth of companies like Netflix and Redbox.  When Blockbuster finally closed 300 stores in the spring of 2013, they laid off 3000 employees.  This is an important trend and one that college grads today need to know about.  In some cases, it’s not the entire company that disappears.  It could be just a prominent product. For example, 21,000 jobs vanished when General Motors discontinued their production of the Pontiac.  A car, which at one time, with a gem in their fleet.

How to Stay Ahead of Disappearing Companies

How can you guard your career against this trend?  No plan is fool proof, but here are some practices you might want to consider before your job or career vanishes too.

1. Constantly scan the internal and external environment to see what is impacting your company.  Read the annual report.  Know what drives costs in your company and what drives profits.
2. Don’t just look at your company, look at other companies in your industry and look for trickle down impact. For example if auto companies are discontinuing products what are the possible ripple effects for other companies? Will auto dealers and auto insurers be impacted?  Will suppliers?
3. Pay attention to what is happening with your company’s vendors and customers.  Is demand growing or shrinking for your products and services?
4. Read national and regional reports on growing or declining occupations.
5. Learn new things. While you are in college, think about second majors and minors that could enhance your skills.  Enroll in short term certificate programs to keep your skills relevant.

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100 Words College Students Should Know

Who doesn’t like a list? Ever so often, I run across really interesting lists of things that I want to share. This time it is a list of top 100 words every high school graduate should know.  This list of 100 words is compiled by the American Heritage® dictionaries.

Although this is supposed to be for high school graduates, I believe that these are words college students should know too.  The fact is, there are many many words on the list that I didn’t know myself.  So maybe they are not just for high school or college students.  It appears the list could benefit all of us.

“The words we suggest,” says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, “are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language.”

Here are the top 10 on the list. How many do you know? How many would you like to add to your vocab?  Check out the full list here.  Remove the ones you know and develop a strategy to learn the others. Maybe one per day?

Words College Students Should Know

-abjure
-abrogate
-abstemious
-acumen
-antebellum
-auspicious
-belie
-bellicose
-bowdlerize
-chicanery

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Who Hired the Angry Black Woman?

Ms. Shonda RhimesLast month, highly acclaimed television producer, Shonda Rhimes, was titled the “angry black woman” in an article from the New York Times.  The article stated that Ms. Rhimes, creator, writer and producer of television favorites like Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder, consistently displays the main characters in her top rated television shows as angry.

The article noted also that Ms. Rhimes’ main characters are African-American women.  In response to the article, Ms. Rhimes blasted the writer for stereotyping her and her main characters.  The comments of the writer from the New York Times indicates that despite your level of accomplishments in the workplace, negative stereotypical remarks remain alive and well.

After reading about this incident involving Ms. Rhimes, I flashed-back to my younger me.   As a young worker, I experienced a direct supervisor telling me that “all sisters have attitudes”.   My direct supervisor insisted on explaining to me the behavior of “black women as angry and sassy”.  Even though this conversation happened over twenty years ago, the words of my supervisor haunts me because I am far from angry.  To the contrary, I am always cheerful, kind and conservative in nature.

How to not be the Angry Black Woman

Nevertheless, as women of color, we cannot stop the negative racist thoughts and comments of others.  But, we do not have to perpetuate the stereotype by following these simple steps:

  • Control your body movement.  Keep your hands by your side or behind your back while communicating with your colleagues and/or supervisors.
  • Keep your head still.  Do not roll your neck.
  • Stick to the facts.  There is no room for emotional behavior or over reacting to incidents and/or others.
  • Watch the tone in your voice.  Remain calm even when being stern.
  • Always use proper grammar in written and oral communications.
  • If you become angry at work, maintain your composure.  Stay professional and don’t not come out of character for anyone and/or anything.

Dorothy HandfieldDorothy C. Handfield is Founder/Owner of DCH Consulting Services, LLC.  As a Workforce Consultant, she assists job seekers to transform into highly qualified candidates who get and keep their dream jobs.  Follow: Twitter, Instagram @consultingdch and LinkedIn – Dorothy C. Handfield

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Dirty Dozen Communication Tips for The Job Interview

Job search communicationOne of the biggest hurdles that some college students and new grads have to get over is, making that switch from what I call “college talk” to “business professional talk”.   New grads who don’t make that switch will often struggle in the job interview.  Many times these new grads and students struggle with the job search process without knowing that all they have to do is work on changing their communication strategy.  If you have read my articles over the years, you know that I always talk about my Three C’s of successful interviewing – Using good Communication skills to speak with Confidence about your Competencies.

Communication Tips for the Job Interview

The following is my list of my dirty dozen communication tips for the job interview.  I know you have seen similar lists before, but here is one to print, laminate and keep in your interview portfolio as a reminder.

-Be courteous when you communicate with everyone you meet onsite at the compny.  Sometimes hiring managers will ask others, including the admin staff for their impression of you after the interview.

-Be sure to communicate your understanding of the fundamental knowledge or skills necessary to do the job.

-Don’t speak negatively about former employers, supervisors or other companies.

-Speak about what you learned from your company research.  If you don’t get a chance to do it while you are answering questions, you should demonstrate your knowledge with the questions you ask.

-Make sure you communicate with confidence and poise. Maintain an upbeat tone in your voice all the way to the end of the sentence.

-Remember that your body is also communicating.  So make sure you do things like sit upright in your chair, make eye contact and don’t mumble unclear responses.

-If you are participating in a panel interview or a group interview, communicate with everyone else in the interview.

-Drop the slang.  Go to the campus career center and schedule a video taped mock interview session so can really hear yourself.

-Don’t forget to ask questions.  Write down your list of questions before the interview and when you are asked, if you have any questions – say yes and refer to your list.

-All your communication must show real and sincere enthusiasm or interest in the company, industry or field.

-A key part of your communication strategy must be to actually ask for the job.  Before the interview is over, remind the interviewer of why your skills and abilities will add value to the organization.

-Post interview communication is also very important.  From your thank-you email to any follow up phone calls you have to make to the interviewer.

Improve your Job Interview skills with information from The HBCU Career Center interview page.

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