21 November 2011

Should I stay or should I go?

You know it's time to move on from your present job when you see these things happening:

Lack of interest
The challenge has gone out of the job and things are becoming routine and mundane.

Lack of trust
You notice that you are not getting the same respect as before and things you do are being questioned more often.

Lack of fun
When the fun is gone then it becomes work and that is no fun at all.

Over the years you start to see what things about your job spark the most interest.  For instance I really like organizing things and have a little jump to my step whenever I start the planning process for an event.  I also enjoy training and passing on information.  I am in the process of developing testing for admin interviews and I really enjoyed doing that.  I also like creating job manuals.  To me it is fun to put the pieces together and come up with a manual that will be helpful to any new person starting the job (I think that goes along with my enjoyment of training).  I enjoy taking minutes and all that goes with it (I guess that is why I love giving the minute-taking webinars).  But there are also aspects of my job that I don't like as much and that will be normal for any job.  If you have a 60/40 split you are doing well.  I would say in my current job it is probably an 80/20 so that is pretty good.

It is always good to do an evaluation of your job and you may come away from the exercise deciding to put your resume out and look for something else or you may come away encouraged in your present job.

I have worked with a few people who applied for jobs and then when they were offered it, passed on the opportunity.  I think they didn't do their homework about whether they really wanted to move on or not.  If you honestly evaluate your current position and find it wanting, then you can go ahead and start looking with a clear objective of securing another job, but if you start applying before you do that you may just end up going through the exercise and not accomplishing anything (although there is something to be said about going on interviews just for the practice and keeping up to date on current interview techniques etc.).

Other things you need to evaluate as well is the salary, career advancement, company benefits, etc., but an evaluation on the enjoyment part of your job is a good basis for either staying or going.

12 November 2011

What to expect when you start a new job

Reading, Reading and more Reading
Expect to do a lot of reading the first week you are on the job. You will be given information about the organization, what benefits they have and forms that you need to fill out.  Read and learn as much as possible.  This may require you to do the reading on your own time or during break or your lunch hour. 

Meeting new people
You will also be introduced to a lot of new people and told what they do.  You will most likely be given the staff phone list and an organization chart.  If not, ask for it.  You should keep these readily available to remind yourself who does what as you will need to refer to that often.

New hire information
When you first start a job, you will be given lots of information that you need to know about your new job.  You should have a time of training with someone who can give you an overview of what you need to do and be available for any questions.  Depending on the responsibilities required there may be an overlap with the person who was previously in the job.  This is nice, but not always practical as they most likely gave their two weeks' notice ending on the Friday and you start on the Monday.  If you do have the opportunity to meet with the person already in the job, take advantage of it and make sure you take notes and ask as many questions as you can.  Sometimes the person is still in the organization and has just moved on to another position.  Keep in mind this person will need to get up to speed on their own responsibilities, but should also be available to give you some guidance.  Again, take notes and make the best use of the time you have with them.

Job Manual
When I start a new job I always start a job manual and write down as I go along what my new responsibilities are and any pertinent information I need.  You want to avoid asking the same questions over and over.  Best to write the answers down for future reference.

If you take a job and they already have a job manual for the position that is a bonus.  This manual should be read cover to cover and marked up with any questions you have.  Consider this your job bible.

I always appreciate questions from new hires as it gives me a good idea of their understanding of what they need to do and where they might need more direction.  I like to see them writing things down and when a similar situation comes up they look to their notes for the answers.  The goal is to get as self sufficient as soon as possible because this is now your job, but it is always expected there will be questions.  If you don't have a copy of the job description, ask for it and go through it with any questions you might have about the position.

I also recommend that some questions should not be asked of your boss, but perhaps another admin assistant would be a better person to ask.  You don't want to give your boss the impression you don't know what you are doing.  There is a certain expectation that if you take an admin job you have the basics such as typing, meeting organization and a knowledge about certain software programs.

The probation period is a good time for both parties to get to know each other, to learn about the job responsibilities and to determine if they are a good fit for the organization.  Sometimes this is a stressful period for a new employee as they want to do well, but keep in mind the employer is expecting a time of learning so use this time to learn as much as you can about the job.  You should be prepared to work extra hard to get up to speed in the first month.

I always recommend to people who take temporary assignments to consider themselves on probation as well as you never know if it might turn into a full-time job.

Prepare for it
When I first started my new job I didn't have a lot of the background I knew I was going to need, but I felt I was up for the challenge.  I had two weeks to get myself as much up to speed as possible before starting the job.  I took a course I knew I would need and met with a few of my friends who had experience in some areas I felt I was lacking.  When I started my first day on the job I was as much prepared as I could be before actually arriving at the office.  There was going to be a lot of new things that I would need to learn, but at least I had done my homework.