Monthly Archives: May 2014

Running Your Career – 8 Tips From The Track

GET READY, GET SET, GO!

You don’t have to be a runner to learn lessons from the sport.  Learn how to plan, pace and push yourself professionally.

1) Be prepared
Prior to a race, you want to find out what you can about the course. Is it flat or hilly? For a job, you want to find out what you can about the company. Check out their web page and social media presence. Have they been in the news? If it’s a public company, do some research to see how the business is doing. Don’t forget LinkedIn to see if you know anyone who works there.

2) Do not deviate from your normal routine
In running, experts caution against eating a different breakfast, breaking in new shoes or wearing a new t-shirt the day of the race. Similar advice holds true for your professional life, especially when you first start a job. You were hired for a particular position because you showcased your skills and personality in a way that matched that company culture. Acting or dressing differently than you presented yourself during the interview process could cause problems in fitting in.

3) Reserve your energy
New runners tend to start out too fast. Huge mistake! No one wants to be that runner who ends up walking after the first quarter mile.  In your career, you want to show enthusiasm and dedication, but not at the expense of your colleagues. Pace yourself. You don’t have to take on every project. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll be too tired and worn out to give the tasks at hand the attention they deserve.

4) It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Ok, it may be just a 5k, but remember – it takes time to get those miles in. Just like in your career, you’re in it for the long haul. It’s doubtful you’re going to beat any records in your first race. You have to see what the experience is like, how you can improve and what you need to change before the next one. The same holds true in your job. Start out strong, but don’t get ahead of yourself. You need to experience the culture, personalities and workload to really see how you fit in and can thrive.

5) Set Goals, Reevaluate & Improve
After people run their first race, they often get bit by the running “bug” and sign up for their second one. However, running faster is not a given. It takes a plan, practice and commitment.   The same path holds true in the working world. Is there a mentor you can talk to during the course of your career? Seeking out advice from long time employees, your boss and other experienced colleagues can help with your own goal setting and improvement. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Write those goals down and start working towards them.

6) Continue Learning
There will always be new races to run, different distances to try and new workouts to experience. New running enthusiasts often seek advice from more experienced runners. They subscribe to running publications, join running groups and associate with other runners.  In the work world, you should  join associations, attend industry specific events and keep current on news relevant to your occupation. This will keep you competitive and help to alleviate burnout and boredom down the line.

7) Break Through Your Comfort Zone
Runners who want to improve have to push themselves. They may not want to run intervals or run in inclement weather conditions, but they do, knowing they will get better. No one can guarantee what race day will be like, just like no one can guarantee exactly how your career path will progress. However, you can control your choices to some extent, especially when it comes to personal development. Take on challenges that make you uncomfortable at first. Not a public speaker? Practice so you can present that speech anyway! Wary of learning an unfamiliar software? Make a concerted effort and set up a schedule to do so. Rewards involve risk. Take a chance – the important thing is to at least try and put yourself out there.

8) Don’t Get Discouraged
The truth is – not every run is going to be a good one. Not every work day is going to be your best day ever. New runners are often told to remember: “No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.”  The same philosophy holds true for your work life. Acknowledge that growing your career takes time. Your pace and progress is just that – yours. Stop comparing yourself to other people, continue to work towards your goals and enjoy the journey along the way!

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Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

© OldcastleCareers 2014

 

 

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Is Work/Life Balance Even Possible?

Work and Life balance. Concept 3D illustration.For years, we’ve heard the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between your work and home life. However, since it’s easier than ever to be virtually connected to the office 24/7, working during the “off hours” is now the norm, not the exception.  What about you? Are you able to truly leave work behind when you leave work?

 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Better Life Index ranks countries on a variety of factors, including work/life balance. Their latest numbers show that 11% of U.S. employees work 50 hours a week or more. Furthermore, their “evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardize safety and increase stress.”  Not having enough leisure time can also turn to resentment, which can in turn lead to a variety of physical and emotional issues, including depression, insomnia, irritability and exhaustion.

If your work/life balance is tipping in the wrong direction, try these tips:

1) Re-evaluate your schedule. It may be time to take a good hard look at where you’re truly spending your time. We are all given the same “budget” of 168 hours per week. We have to allocate these hours between work, family/childcare and leisure. Do you feel that there’s never enough time to fit it all in? Are there tasks/chores you can delegate? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Can your spouse/partner assist in cooking or cleaning? What about the kids – it may be time for a “chore chart.” You might be pleasantly surprised to see that even the youngest will want to pitch in. Make it a team effort.

2) Schedule an electronics shut off time and STICK TO IT. The constant interruption of emails, texts and calls keep you in a state that never allows you to truly relax.  The National Sleep Foundation reports that “cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may also be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep at night – leaving millions of Americans functioning poorly the next day.”  This cycle needs to stop. Start by weaning yourself away and work up to shutting off all devices one hour (yes, one hour!) before bed. The light from these devices can also impact sleep rhythms. To lessen this glare, you can install an app like f.lux that makes the color of your screen adapt to the time of day, avoiding the harsh light that inhibits sleep.

3) Make time for the basics. You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Exercise, meditation and mindfulness go a long way towards creating balance in your life. This may mean cutting back on activities and commitments to make time for self care. The rewards you gain from this are well worth the effort.

4) Overhaul time wasting habits. Do you really need to check your email every 5 minutes? Can you eat at least one meal without checking your phone? Do you allow colleagues to take up too much of your time with small talk? Can you delegate any parts of your job?

5) Establish new rituals. Even vowing to leave work 5 minutes earlier can make a difference. Start with simple, small changes and follow through on them. No empty promises!

In today’s economy, many people feel the pressure to do whatever it takes to keep their job. Financial factors will always play a large role in whether to tolerate a less than ideal work schedule. However,  the true cost to your health and well being must also be taken into consideration. Awareness and acknowledgement are a start, followed by taking proactive steps towards creating a more balanced life both in & out of the office.

 

taglineOldcastle

Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

© OldcastleCareers, 2014. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to OldcastleCareers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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New Job 101 – Advice for the first day and beyond

I Am New Badge Lanyard Introduction Meet NetworkingStarting a new job stirs up a variety of emotions. On one hand, you’re excited. You should be – you beat out a lot of other people to land this position. On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive. Changing your routine, heading into the unknown and meeting an entirely new group of people can be stressful. Not to worry, we’re here to help!

Prepare For the Big Day
This is not the time to be focusing on new projects at home or rushing back from a whirlwind weekend getaway. You want to be calm, cool and collected. Take the time to set out what you’re going to wear, pack a lunch, start to wind down early in the evening and then go to bed at a reasonable time.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time That First Morning
Make sure you have everything (coffee, water bottle, notepad, phone, etc.) ready to go. We advise setting your alarm at a time that’s at least 30 minutes earlier than usual. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. This gives you some wiggle room. Note – you may not have slept as well as you normally would have, and that’s ok. It’s a common symptom of first day jitters. Rest assured, you’ll adjust to your new schedule once you settle in. As for what to wear, dress on the conservative side until you see what acceptable attire is for your team.

Arrive early
Being late on your first day is a big no-no. Start your new journey showing how prompt, dedicated and reliable you are. Can you do a trial run before the big day so you have a better idea of what traffic is like? If that’s not possible, we recommend leaving at least ten minutes before you need to, just in case.

Be positive and confident
Just as in the interview, first impressions count. It’s normal to have butterflies, but go out of your way to be upbeat and friendly. Don’t forget to smile :).  A great attitude from day one will be remembered and goes a long way. Your first days, weeks (and really first few months) are a test to see if you can deliver on what you promised during the interview process.

Listen more than you talk
It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to prove yourself right away. In the first few weeks, it pays to be more of an observer. This is not to say that you aren’t going to get in there and do what you were hired to do. Temper your enthusiasm with taking in the culture and adapting accordingly. Every workplace has its own set of rules and personalities. You want to fit in without creating conflict or doubt. 

Cut out the comparisons
It can be easy to slip into the mode of talking about previous coworkers and companies. Don’t do it. Your focus now is on your new job, new colleagues and new boss.

Steer clear of the gossip
Every workplace has its share of drama. Be nice and cordial to everyone. Stay out of office politics from the beginning.

Make it a priority to learn everyone’s name
Take notes and do word associations in your mind if you have to. We know this can be hard, especially if you meet a lot of new people. If you do forget a name, you do have an easy out, since you are new. Still, make an effort.

Don’t eat at your desk
Do people eat in the cafeteria or do they go out? If you’re lucky, your boss may even take you out on your first day. See what other employees do and follow in their footsteps. In coming days, you can explore your new surroundings. There may be a spot close by where you can grab a bite to eat. If everyone does eat at their desks, we still advise getting up and taking a break. You’ll need it, especially in the beginning. Everyone needs time to recharge.

Don’t be the first to leave
You don’t have to be the last out the door, but you certainly shouldn’t be one of the first. Stay at least as long as your boss is there.

Give yourself a break
It can be easy to become overwhelmed when starting a new position. You may even start to second guess yourself. Why did I take this job? What was I thinking? I can’t do this! Envision a stop sign if you have to in order to banish this doom and gloom thinking. Beginning a new job IS stressful. You can’t control the flood of information coming towards you, or all the changes, but you can control how you react. Breathe, reflect and relax. Whether this is your first job or your fifth, the emotions and transition time are the same. It will get easier with each day that passes, we promise.

Good luck on your new job – you’ll do great!

P.S. We would love to hear how you handled your first day/weeks on the job. Feel free to leave your comments/suggestions below and share this post if you found it to be helpful.

 

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Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

© OldcastleCareers, 2014. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to OldcastleCareers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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When It Comes To Your Career, Listen To Your Mother

mothers day flowersIn honor of moms everywhere, we wanted to share with you how common “mom-isms” can translate to your professional life. Do any of these sound familiar?

“Because I’ve got eyes in the back of my head.”
This may have been been said to you when you were doing something you shouldn’t have been. Siblings were probably involved. We’re not here to judge – that was the past. This “momism” is a good reminder that even when you think no one is looking, they really are. In an interview, never let down your guard. Be on your best behavior at all times. Game face on! Be polite, professional and nice to everyone, from the doorman to the receptionist. Interviewers often ask other employees (at all levels) for their impressions of a candidate.  Just pretend your mom is watching. This advice holds true once you get the job too.

“Stop making that face or it’ll freeze in that position.”
We’re not suggesting that you’re about to make a silly face in an interview, but do you even know what you look like answering interview questions? Mock interviews can be very useful. Recruit a friend and practice. Make sure you are aware of and correct poor non-verbal behavior (tapping the desk, squinting, nervous tics, etc.) so you don’t risk not getting that second interview.

“Don’t ask me why – the answer is NO.”
This mom catchphrase was usually uttered when you wanted to do something inappropriate, ridiculous or dangerous. Or, when your mom was just tired of the endless questions and requests. Either way, it’s good advice if you’re thinking about breaking certain career related rules. For instance, are you a new grad that wants to submit a 3 page resume? NO. A one or two page resume is appropriate. Think you can just bypass submitting your information online because it involves extra steps? NO. Most companies that have a web based applicant tracking system (ATS) require that you apply online. Follow the rules. They matter.

“Watch your language!”
This holds true for what you say at work, in an interview, in emails and on social media. Everything you say (verbal or written) is a reflection of who you are.  Use keywords on your cover letter and resume and language appropriate for your field. Talk professionally, avoid slang and office gossip. Make mom proud.

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
This is great advice when it comes to evaluating job listings. For new grads, don’t dismiss entry level openings when you’re trying to get your foot in the door. For mid level job seekers and career changers, be open to opportunities.  Don’t overlook organizations because they may be smaller, lesser known or not as glamorous as the big names. There are many hidden gems and growth opportunities where you least expect them. Be nonjudgmental and keep an open mind.

“It’s no use crying over spilled milk.”
Mistakes and rejection are a part of life, and that includes your career. You won’t get an interview for every resume you send out. You may not get that promotion or raise. Don’t give up.  Analyze what happened and try again! Some things are in your control and others aren’t. The important thing is to keep moving forward in your career and your life. You can do it!

“Are you really going out dressed like that?
Sound familiar? This question transcends the decades. No matter what the fashions of the day are, it never hurts to re-evaluate your attire. Ask a trusted friend what they REALLY think of your look. Always dress in professional clothes for an interview, even if it’s for a place where casual wear is accepted. Better to err on the conservative side, than risk not getting an interview call back.

“If you don’t clean your plate, you won’t get any dessert.”
Sweet rewards, like sweet desserts, are within your reach. Getting that job, promotion or raise requires a game plan and extra effort. Few people love writing resumes or going through the interview process, but it’s a necessary task to get where you want to be. Never give up.

“Some day you will thank me for this.”
We do, and that day is today. Thanks mom, and Happy Mother’s Day!

P.S. Have any “mom-isms” you want to share? Comment and let us know.  Thanks for reading!

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taglineOldcastle

Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

© OldcastleCareers, 2014. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to OldcastleCareers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Filed under Careers, Cover Letters, Interviewing, Job Search