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Are Myths You Tell Yourself About Your Career Holding You Back?

loch ness monsterI recently had the opportunity to speak to groups of young professionals on the topic of how to manage your career.  I framed this talk in terms of career myths that can hold people back.  Myths are stories people make up about the world around them when they don’t understand the basis for what they’re observing. Most myths, however, do contain a element of truth.  There may or may not be a Loch Ness Monster like the one in the famous photo here, but there are misconceptions about managing your career that can get in the way of your success.

For each of the ten myths I spoke about with these folks, we discussed both the true and false elements of each.  You can see a synopsis of these discussions at the links below:

Getting Started in Your Career

Managing Yourself at Work

What’s Your Next Move?

Are there any career myths that you’d add to this list?

Putting Your Employees’ Schedules in the Palm of Their Hands

kronos mobile phoneThank you to our board member, Bob Clements, for today’s guest post.  Bob is a senior vice president at Axsium, and spends a great deal of his time consulting with organizations about their workforce management (WFM) strategy.  Below, Bob talks about the benefits of extending WFM technology to employees’ phones.  This capability exists in lots of WFM platforms, including Kronos, but some organizations are still leery.  What about yours?

We are obsessed with our mobile phones.  Just about everybody – regardless of age, income or occupation – has a phone in their pocket or purse that we use to check a text from a friend, answer an email, play a game, find the answer to a trivia question…you name it, we have an app for it, and we will find any excuse to use it. In fact, a 2013 study found that we check our phones 150 times per day!

Yet, as widespread as mobile phones are and as big of an impact as they have on our daily lives, most hourly workers are forcibly still living in the dark ages when it comes to using their mobile phone to manage their work-life.  Want time-off?  Write it down on a piece of paper and hand it to your manager.  Hopefully, he or she can read your handwriting and ­won’t lose it. Don’t know when your next shift is?  Call your workplace, get someone to stop working, and have them read your schedule off the wall.  Need to find someone to cover a shift for you?  Good luck!

Why does this situation still exist?  Hourly employees have mobile phones.  In fact, if asked – and many employers do via employee engagement surveys– most hourly employees would love to have the ability to use those phones to check their schedules, review their timesheets, request time-off, swap shifts with colleagues and more.  Workforce management (WFM) vendors have offered support for mobile phones for the last several years.  The ability to offer mobile WFM is already in the systems most employers have today; it just isn’t being used.

Hourly employees are in the dark ages because their employers are afraid.  In the world of wage and hour litigation, mobile phones are scary. A few years ago, an hourly assistant for Oprah Winfrey collected $32,000 in overtime because she used her cell phone to take calls and answer email after hours.  More recently, a Chicago police officer brought a lawsuit against the city for time spent answering calls and emails after hours on his mobile phone.

Given these cases and others like them, many employers have refused to consider letting their hourly employees use their mobile phone for anything that touches a corporate system for fear that it could be considered work.  For some systems, this makes sense.  However, for others, mobile interaction is for the convenience of the employee and should be embraced by employers.  WFM is one of these systems.

Today, employees check their schedule by calling their workplace or write time-off requests on a slip of paper.  Such activities require an insignificant amount of time, occur infrequently, and are initiated by the employee, not the employer, and are not considered work.

Changing the medium from voice or written communication to a mobile app does not change the nature of the activity.  Checking a schedule or requesting time off does not become work just because someone uses a mobile phone to do it.  On the contrary, a mobile WFM app is a convenience – a benefit – for employees as it makes things like checking a schedule faster and eliminates the chances that their manager will lose the slip of paper with their time-off request.  In fact, embracing mobile WFM empowers employees to take a more active role in their schedule.  This gives them more control of their work-life balance, leading to better employee engagement and a happier workforce.

To overcome the fear of mobile WFM, the missing ingredient for most employers is a policy that governs the use of mobile phones.  This policy does not have to be long or complex.  In fact, it should be as short and simple as possible.  It needs to clearly communicate what mobile phones may and may not be used for at work and after hours as it relates to corporate systems.

With a clear policy and technology that most already have in house, employers can bring their hourly employees out of the dark ages and put their schedules in the palm of their hands which is exactly what hourly employees are asking for.

Relevant Links:

 Jeanne Meister on the Workplace of the Future – Social and Mobile and Wearable, Oh My!

How Mobile Is Your HR Technology? How Mobile Should It Be?


What’s the Most Unique Job in Your State?

cask masterToday’s guest post is submitted by our board member John Hollon, VP for Editorial, ERE Media.   Years ago I was running a recruitment outsourcing practice for BrassRing.  We had to find a lot of unique candidates for our clients.  

One of the stranger jobs we needed to source was a whiskey cask master. What do you think about the data below?  What’s the strangest job you’ve ever heard of? Did the research miss any particularly unique jobs that are representative of your state?

Maybe I’m wrong about this, but when I think of Massachusetts, I don’t immediately think of psychiatric technicians.

By the same token, when someone mentions jobs in Maryland, I don’t immediately focus on streetcar and subway operators either.

These two little nuggets are from a report put together by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International  on the occupation that is the most unique to each state, compiled through 2013. It’s an interesting report, although you’ll find that most of the jobs they identify for specific states aren’t all that surprising.

For example:

** The most unique occupation in California is “actor.” (Hollywood has a little to do with that, I would think.)

** Montana’s unique occupation is “forest technicians & conservation technicians,” (not a big surprise) and in Nevada it’s  “gaming supervisors” (that’s not a shock, either).

** In Texas it is “petroleum engineer,” and Hawaii is identified for “tour guides & escorts.”

But for all the obvious occupations that seem to naturally go with a state, there are also some head scratchers, such as:

** Alabama’s unique occupation is “tire builder,”  while in Illinois it is “correspondence clerk.”

** In Pennsylvania it is “survey researchers,” and Vermont is identified for “highway maintenance workers” rather than something like “syrup gathers.”

But what is also surprising about this list is median hourly earnings it gives for each state’s unique occupation.

Texas has the highest wage of $60.70 per hour for petroleum engineers, followed by the District of Columbia (yes, I know it is not a state but it’s on the list) at $55.64 for “political scientists.”

On the low end are “food processors” in Arkansas at $10.59, “textile winding, twisting, & drawing out machine setters, operators, & tenders” in North Carolina at $11.12, and “umpires, referees, and other sports officials” in Kansas at $11.16.

That’s more than a $50 per hour wage gap between the unique occupations in Texas and Arkansas, which shows again that there is a lot more money in oil than in processing food, despite that fact that you can’t get much nourishment out of a barrel of oil.

“Many of the most concentrated jobs represent well-known, longstanding regional industries, while others may come as a genuine surprise,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, referring to the study. ”They are rarely among the largest occupations in a state, but are often the most identifiable.”

That’s true enough, and if you scan the list ling enough you’ll find something else: this list of “unique” state jobs tells us a lot about the nature of America’s diverse economy and why, despite recessions and economic setbacks, it’s hard to keep us – and our economy — down for too long.