Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seven Job-Posting Red Flags

Wondering whether a job post is worth applying to? If you're afraid that a job ad sounds either too good to be true or just plain fishy, certain cautionary signs in the posting could confirm your suspicion. Of course, one or two of these red flags don't always mean something is wrong, but if the clues start to pile up, you may want to proceed with caution. Here are seven signs to watch out for.

1. The job was posted months ago, or the job is constantly reposted.

Often, the reason for this is perfectly legit: A company may simply have lots of similar positions to fill, or it may be looking to fill typically high-turnover positions (such as seasonal hospitality jobs). But if that's not the case, this may be a sign that the company has put the position on hold or has high turnover for reasons that might raise concern. And sometimes companies will collect resumes just for the sake of gathering information about current salary conditions. But it's also true the employer might be waiting for the perfect match, so if you're it, you'll want to apply.

2. The post says, "Company confidential."

You should ask yourself the reason for the secrecy. Is the position not really open? Is an agency collecting resumes without a company's consent? There may be no cause for concern; however, a post like this makes it difficult to tailor your resume and conduct the appropriate company research.

3. The post says, "Fax your resume to…"

This is a sign that the company isn't keeping up with the times. Then again, the company may just be testing your ability to follow instructions.

4. The post contains phrases like "must be extremely hardworking" and "must be able to handle extremely high stress."

An ability to work hard should be a given, so if a post says "extremely hardworking," know that it means "extreeeeeemely hardworking." Such a work environment might be perfect for you, and lots of high-stress jobs are very rewarding. But if a job post focuses on the difficulty of a job (instead of selling the company as a great place to work to attract the best candidates), you should at least go into the application process knowing that your work-life balance will not be a priority at this company.

5. The post lists the salary as "up to $500K per year."

This is another matter of simply being aware of what you're signing up for. If a job post talks about the salary in terms of "up to," then the job pays on commission. Just be sure to ask about base salary and average incomes when you talk to the hiring manager. (Another phrase to watch out for in this vein is "Be your own boss!")

6. The post says the successful candidate will need to work for free or for less than minimum wage for a trial period.

Employment tests are often completely legitimate. For instance, if you're applying for a job that requires writing press releases, a company might ask you to write a sample press release. And both paid trial periods and unpaid internships are common in some industries. But the US Department of Labor is clear that any productive labor be paid under minimum-wage laws, and that an internship cannot be a condition of employment at a company.

7. The job post asks you to submit sensitive information.

Being smart online means guarding information such as your Social Security number and bank-account information until you're sure that the entity asking for it is on the up and up. Until a job offer is in the works, a legitimate company has no need for private information such as this.
Thanks to Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor / Career Advice Monster / Monster

Why Task Lists Will Not Make You Productive

An acquaintance of mine is constantly making lists. She makes them on old envelopes, scratch pads, her phone, her laptop, her email and even her hand. Yet she is one of the most scattered, disorganized and unproductive people I know.

She doesn't know the secret: lists alone won't make you productive.

The Purpose Of Task Lists

Lists exist simply as a place to write things down. They are lines of text that represent tasks that need to be done. But they are not repositories of things to be ignored, places to brainstorm, or jumbles of unrelated ideas.

Task lists are a great tool, but only if they used in a productive way.

The Downfalls of the Typical List User

Lists Are Incomplete
Many people will make lists of things, but leave stuff out. My mother used to make lists of dishes to put on the table for large holiday meals, but she would leave things off the list because she knew she would remember them (but she didn't, always). Many task lists leave out bits and pieces — things that need to be done — and that is their downfall.
Lists Are Vague
Lists are often vague and unclear, leaving the reader in doubt of what needs to be done. I am guilty of this from time to time. I looked at a daily list I had made at work last week, and asked my tech lead what she thought "world 2012″ could possibly mean. We still don't know.
Lists Are Ignored
Lists are great ways to get things out of your head; however, if you then ignore them, they do no good. Your brain will become used to not trusting you and spin up, reminding you of things all the time. (There's a reason David Allen calls it a "trusted system."

How To Use Lists

Lists, when used in a productive manner, can be a second brain, and help you out. Write it down, look at the lists regularly, and you will find that they are a big boost for getting things done. Here are qualities of a successful list system:

  • Minimize the number of lists you have. Having lists everywhere is an invitation to lose one (or more) of them. While I am not a fan of one ginormous list, I think it makes sense to minimize the lists you have.
  • Have different types of lists. If you need to go grocery shopping, you do not need to bring the list of things you need to do next week. Segregate your lists in a way that makes sense to you: shopping, home, work; now and later; or something like that.
  • Write everything down. Don't leave some things in memory and write everything else down. It is better for your brain to build the trust that everything will be in the list and dealt with, or it will keep reminding you about things you need to, on the list or not.
  • Be specific. The more detail that you put into the list about what you have to do, the better off you will be. If you don't get to take action on an item, will you know what it is in 2 weeks?
  • Use your lists to plan your day. In order to be effective, lists have to be used. Review your lists after you make them. Are there things on there that don't belong? Take them off. Are there things that need to be looked at later? Move them to another list you will reveiw later. Take what's left and figure out what you can get done today.
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Avoiding Isolation When You're The Only Minority

Despite advances in corporate diversity initiatives, there are times when minority employees may have that "Lone Ranger" feeling on the job.

Make Connections

According to Sondra Thiederman, author of Making Diversity Work, the key to avoiding feelings of alienation, whether at a small or large company, is to find ways to connect with your coworkers.

"Begin to focus on what you share with your colleagues, rather than how you differ. Race and gender are just one aspect of who we are," explains Thiederman.

We all have dozens of interests, values and priorities which are very likely held by others in the organization, she adds. "Reach out to people, have conversations and be open with what you care about," she says. "Sitting next to you just might be a colleague of any color with whom you can form a genuine friendship."

Avoid Speaking for All

Another key in avoiding isolation is to resist any urge to be the spokesperson for your race or gender even if you feel pressure to act as one.

"Individuals who represent a minority group on a team or in an organization run the risk of being seen as symbols of their particular category rather than as individuals," says Robert Rodriguez, assistant dean of the Graduate School of Management at Kaplan University. "That is why minority employees should resist any pressure to be an 'expert' on all issues related to their race or ethnic group. Don't make educating others about the unique aspects of your cultural or ethnic heritage or overcoming stereotypes your sole focus."

Address Incidents with Professionalism

Even if you've made your best effort to be seen as an individual, discrimination may still rear its ugly head. If a situation arises that you feel is inappropriate, you need to address it with professionalism -- not heated emotions.

The first step is to take a beat so emotions can settle down, says Thiederman. Even a couple of hours will give you a chance to collect your thoughts so you can recount the incident accurately. Next, find out who the appropriate person is to approach, such as a manager or someone in human resources. "Talk to someone who is trained to handle such situations with confidentiality, tact and fairness for all concerned," she says.

Adds Rodriguez: "Your main concern should be delivering superior results to quench any doubts about your ability."

Check Your Perspective

A lack of diversity isn't necessarily a bad reflection on the company. A number of factors could be at play, such as a small staff.

Precious Kirk, vice president of creative affairs at Emerson Consulting Group in Everett, Massachusetts, is the only African American female on a staff of 10.

"Working within this company I do not have a problem being the only minority," says Kirk. "We work so closely together that it becomes a situation in which I really don't think about it too much."

Thanks to Denene Brox / Career Advice Monster / Monster

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