Raise Your Hand if You Hate Your Job!

"Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I'm also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too... "

My awesome friend, Mr. Andrew Weitsman, had a nifty little idea a while back! Apparently he has so many bright ideas that there just aren’t enough hours in the day for him to write about them! So he has a plethora of blog posts just waiting to be used up. He gave said ideas away to those who were interested so, of course, I jumped at the chance to help these poor little orphaned posts out by giving them a home!

The following is one of Andrew’s blog post ideas. I have bolded his content so that there’s a distinction between his thoughts and my own input. I do hope you enjoy and check out Andrew’s blog sometime as well!

7 Tips & Tricks for Those Who Hate Their Jobs But Still Need to be Productive and/or Efficient & Have no Other Options

1. Create a fantasy role around your work day, such as “Ashley was trapped deep behind enemy lines, forced to collate copies and send the department head weekly updates, all while gathering the information that she could use to bring them down.”

Frankly, I don’t really know what to say about this one because my imagination is not nearly as active as Mr. Weitsman’s… A word to the wise, however: keep the “I’m going to bring this company down” thoughts to yourself, as that sort of chit chat, if overheard or read, can and will get you fired.

2. Invest yourself in your hobbies. As long as you can at least somewhat tolerate your work but are having a great time outside of it, you’ll be fine.

I like this one. A huge key to happiness is work/life balance. If you can leave your work at the office and come home to enjoy your family, friends, hobbies, etc. you will at least have something to look forward to while you tolerate your work day.

3. Look into a work-from-home option.  Refer to the book “The 4-hour Workweek” (or ask Andrew) for more info on this.

This would be awesome, right? Unfortunately, a lot of employers aren’t terribly keen on this idea for one reason or another. In many cases an employer gets burned by a past employee to whom they gave too much leeway and therefore developed an unwarranted distrust of all future employees. I personally haven’t read the book, but I may have to look into it…

4. Batch tasks.  Andrew wrote a post about this somewhere, but basically it’s doing all associated tasks at once (ie: checking email, making calls, filling out reports, etc).  It cuts down on frivolous time expenditures, which will let you leave work earlier.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but even the most dedicated employees need a reminder every once in a while. This is going to help you be so much more productive and minimize distractions. One thing that helps me is shutting down my Outlook except to check it once each hour (or at least turning off that little pop-up notification that is oh-so distracting!)

5. Integrate yourself with other departments on projects.  If you can distance yourself from those who are giving you grief and move more towards another area where you like the people and the work more, you might be able to get a transfer.

This brings up a good point. Do you hate your job or do you hate your coworkers? Remember, if you like your job but hate the people you work with, it is okay to focus more on work and less on personal interactions. You are there to do a job, not become best friends with your weirdo cube-mate.

6. Use some of those vacation days.  Sometimes, it’s a need to distance oneself from work over actually hating the job.  When you come back from a (hopefully) relaxing trip, if things still suck, maybe you should look into a career (or at least office) change.

Everyone deserves a vacation. Even if it’s just a “staycation” as I call it, aka using vacation time to just relax without ever leaving your city.

7. Look into your core competencies and interests and determine if you can start a personal side-business in your off time.  It’s easier than you’d think, and you can build personal income and business reputation while still pulling in the big bucks from your office job.

If you are serious about freelancing, I would like to recommend “My So-Called Freelance Life” or “The Anti 9-to-5 Guide” both by Michelle Goodman. The transition from a desk job to a freelance career will be much smoother with a little knowledge under your cap.

I would like to leave you with one parting thought: If your job is making you so miserable that you are taking a bad attitude home with you, making the people around you unhappy, losing the ability to function at work, having frequent work-related meltdowns, or if it is affecting your physical and/or mental health, GET OUT!

Take it from somebody who knows firsthand what a job like that can do to you. No job is worth your physical or mental well-being. You have options! Freelance, temp, work two part-time retail jobs, whatever it takes to get you out of that situation. Seriously.

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I am a Freelancer

April 18, 2010 9 comments

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There, I said it. And even as I sit here typing the words, I’m thinking to myself, “Self, you’re a liar. How can you call yourself a freelancer when you have no clients?” Okay so my inner monologue is not nearly as supportive as one would hope…

But I have decided to follow the advice of a very wise man who I once heard speak about creating a vision for your life. He suggested making an “I am” statement instead of an “I want to be” statement. His logic is that rather than just setting goals, which take will power to achieve and rarely last, making an “I am” statement creates a vision for your future. He believes that once you create a vision for your life, you live that vision. Your daily rituals change, and you slowly become the person you say you are in your “I am” statement.

I love this idea. It seems so simple, but I honestly hadn’t ever thought of my future this way. I always set goals for myself, of course, but never realized that when I didn’t meet said goals it was because the will power wasn’t there and I simply hadn’t done enough to change my actions to create the future I had hoped for.

So I’ve already begun changing my daily rituals to reflect my vision and I can’t wait to continue! For now, this is my full-time gig, and can I just say that it is hands-down the most liberating feeling in the world? Of course I’m still looking for my next fabulous job here in Kansas City, but I am 100% committed to my vision statement even if it ends up just being an evening/weekend thing!

So rather than sitting here listening to the naysayer in my head tell me that I’m not yet a freelancer, I’m going to go ahead and say it:

I, Ashley Nicole Campbell, am a New Media Consultant and Freelance Copywriter!

That wasn’t so hard…

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New Life Plan…

April 2, 2010 19 comments

Alright, I know I’ve been MIA for over two weeks…I’m sorry! But things have been a bit crazy since I wrote that last post. After writing about working toward my goals and getting out of my less than desirable situation, I had no choice but to spring into action! So here’s the latest:

  1. I have decided to look for a new job in Kansas City. Yes, this means postponing my NYC dreams for a while, but it’s definitely time for me to move on to bigger and better things, career-wise, and for now that means staying in KC.
  2. I’m moving out of my parent’s house! I know, I didn’t think it would ever happen either…But a new job probably means more money, and definitely means I’m confident that I will be in Kansas City long enough to sign a 1 year lease!

I think I had to come to the realization that my transition to NYC needs to be made in baby steps rather than one giant leap. So this is me working toward my goals, granted it’s at a much slower pace than before, but I feel great about it!

I think it’s important to identify our own limitations in order to grow and become good adults (no, I still don’t consider myself an adult…shh). I know I’m not superwoman; I can’t do it all, no matter how hard I try! But I am fabulous and talented and worthy of success! And not to sound like a broken record, but it will come if I keep working hard.

Okay then! I got that out and even though I will be moving at the end of the month, I hope to find more time each week to dedicate to writing… Maybe if you all shame me into it via social media, I will at least feel an obligation to follow through! 🙂

Hard Work Pays Off…Right?

March 15, 2010 8 comments

Have you ever felt like you are working for nothing? Not literally (ok sometimes literally…), but do you ever just feel like you are doing everything you know how to do and still can’t manage to get where you want to go?

There is a phrase I live by: Don’t complain about your situation in life if you’re not willing to work to change it. It is usually pretty easy to apply this to all aspects of my life and recently I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

Those of you who know me personally know that I have had a few complaints lately regarding my current life situation. I’m not particularly happy with where I’m at right now, so I’ve been working to change that. The biggest transition I want to make is my work situation, and I want to do this for a few reasons:

  1. While I work for an association I’m passionate about, my skill sets aren’t being utilized as much as I would like. I know I have many talents and I want to share them with the next organization I work for.
  2. I would love to move to NYC soon. I am open to staying in KC for a little while longer, but in the next few years, I see myself in NYC.
  3. I’m worth more than I make. I don’t think I’m worth $100K/yr or anything, but I know I’m at least worth a salary that allows me to move out of my parent’s house and still be able to save money every month. (That’s right folks, my options are live with the ‘rents or have no savings account. And don’t even get me started with my 401K, or lack thereof.)

So what am I doing to make this happen? Well I’m heeding my own advice and building a strong personal brand for myself (hence this fancy little blog you’re reading), I’m meeting some awesome new people both in the Midwest and on the East Coast who I think will be wonderful assets in terms of networking opportunities and friendship and I’m looking for jobs in KC and NYC and hoping to make the right connections with people who can help me get a foot in the door.

I go to work from 8-5 every day then come home and sit in front of my computer all night long trying to do something, anything that will help me get to where I want to be.  Tweet chats, webinars, blog posts, e-mails, WordPress & website creation/upkeep. The list just seems to get longer every day. The strange thing is that I love all of it, (don’t believe me? Check out my new theme song) but sometimes I feel like it must not be enough because I still don’t have the job I know I deserve, and I’m writing this from my bed, in my room, at my parent’s house…

So while I sit here feeling sorry for myself, (don’t worry, this will pass…I just need a moment) I realize that the good news is that I know that I’m doing the right things and I know that change doesn’t happen overnight. I also know that my hard work will pay off eventually, so I’m not going to give up.

I think this is something all entry-level professionals experience at some point.  But as long as you can honestly say that you are working hard to accomplish your goals whether that means getting a job, a promotion, a raise or an apartment far away from your parent’s house, that’s all we can ask of ourselves, right?

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Dear Boomers: Please Retire. Love, Gen Y

March 11, 2010 13 comments

 I came across this interesting  blog post the other day: 15 Reasons College Students Need to Invest in Their Careers. It got me thinking a lot about the plight of the entry-level professional. All of the statistics that J.T. O’Donnell talks about are really interesting, but the most fascinating one to me is this:

70M+. The number of Baby Boomers (people in their 50s-60’s) in America who are ‘retirement-ready, but under-funded’ and thus will stay in the job market, holding back the entry of new grads to the workplace.”

The reason I find this noteworthy isn’t because I think it’s terribly shocking. It’s no secret that this recession has hit Boomers really hard. Their 401ks, which they have contributed to their entire working lives, are much lower than they had hoped they would be – no thanks to the stock market – thus forcing them to remain in the workforce beyond normal expectations.

The challenge this presents to the next generation of professionals is that with fewer people exiting the workforce, there are fewer positions opening up. The repercussions of which are seen in another statistic presented in J.T.’s post:

“25 years old. The average age before a college grad can finally afford to move out of their parent’s house and live on their own. (They are called Boomerang Kids and K.I.P.P.E.R.S – Kids In Parents Pockets Eating Retirement Savings.)”

Okay, let’s recap: recent grads are not finding jobs because their parents generation is retiring later in life but part of the reason the Boomers are retiring later is because they’ve lost part of their retirement savings and are still supporting their out of work kids… Sounds a bit cyclical, eh?

So what’s an economically unstable society to do? I certainly don’t know. I’m not an economist, nor can I predict the upcoming trends in employment. What I do know is that this is a VERY frustrating time for Millennials. It’s not easy swallowing your pride and moving back in with mom and dad, especially when you can’t, for the life of you, find a job.

Here are my words of encouragement, Gen Y: You’re not alone and the good news is that this won’t last forever. In the meantime, don’t give up the job search, no matter how disheartening it becomes, and take steps to improve your resume, even if it means working for free for a while because your situation can only improve from there, right?

And for the love of Pete, don’t blame your joblessness on your parents! (At least not while they’re still providing the food and shelter…)

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Subway Ruined My Sandwich. Or Why You Should Fire Worthless Employees…

March 2, 2010 11 comments

So I went to Subway yesterday for a veggie sub. Relatively simple assembly, I’d say: bread, cheese, veggies and dressing…Pretty hard to screw that up, right? Wrong. Not only did the woman behind the counter mess up my sandwich, she was also rude, had abysmal communication skills, and actually checked her cell phone to see who was calling before she got around to ringing me up.

As I ate my self-doctored sandwich, after a disgusting mayo extraction that probably shed the fat equivalent of a Big Mac off my lunch, I came to the conclusion that the Subway employee didn’t deserve her job.

In the past year and a half, I’ve seen people very close to me lose their jobs, or even remain unemployed for months after graduation, all with their hopes of finding another opportunity soon dwindling each day. The more I think about how deserving these people are of a good job, the more frustrating it is to see people everywhere who do not deserve their jobs.

Maybe this Subway employee doesn’t realize how precious employment is right now, or maybe she doesn’t care. Who knows? What I do know is that in this economy, there are people who would kill to have a job and the Subway employee’s attitude is reflective of a huge problem in the workplace that most of us have experienced: people not pulling their weight and contributing to the overall goal of the company.

I’m not suggesting that my college educated friends and family start looking for jobs in the fast food industry. Rather employers across the board should take a close inventory of their employees to determine who really deserves to be employed. With only 45% of Americans reporting satisfaction with their jobs, there are bound to be plenty of people who aren’t doing their jobs to the best of their abilities due to said dissatisfaction.

This recession sucks. Mostly because the way I see it is that there are a lot of VERY worthy people out there looking for a good job, while people like the girl at Subway, or the co-worker who spends a good 3 ½ hours each day on personal phone calls and watching YouTube videos, are sitting pretty with their bi-weekly paychecks and complete disregard for the success of the company.

As an entry-level employee, I clearly have no control over who keeps their job or gets a new one, and frankly, probably shouldn’t even have an opinion about which of my coworkers really deserves to be there. And short of tattling on the incompetent Subway employee (not that I’ve completely ruled it out…), I really have no voice there either. So I’m counting on you, managers & executives. Do us all a favor and take a close look at those you employ because the chance that there is someone amazing just waiting for the chance to replace a less than stellar worker is pretty high.

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Catch 22 of The Entry-Level Job Search

February 15, 2010 15 comments

When I was fresh out of college and in the throes of my first real job search, I quickly learned of the catch 22 of the entry-level job hunt: most employers won’t hire you unless you have “relevant experience” but in order to get said experience, you need someone to hire you. Now I had several internships throughout college, but none of them were especially relevant to the type of job I was looking for.

I suppose I was lucky when I got hired after graduation. My boss ultimately hired me for my sense of humor (true story) and my experiences as a leader in my sorority. But I can’t help but wonder: what if she didn’t take a chance on me? Do all employers feel like they are “taking a chance” on a recent college grad? And if that’s true, what can college students or graduates do to make sure they are getting the experience employers are looking for?

I came up with a list of things that I wish I had done to make myself a more viable job candidate right out of college:

1. Apply For Relevant Internships

The best internships will really challenge you and allow you to gain experience that will be applicable to your job search once you graduate. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but the internships I chose were the ones that paid more or seemed more fun than ones that may have given me more learning opportunities. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was in college (still don’t) so it was more difficult for me to do this, but if you know what you want to do, I recommend you get all the experience you can in that industry.

2. Volunteer

There are so many non-profits looking for people to help in an administrative capacity. Do you want to gain writing skills? Volunteer to write copy for a non-profit’s website or promotional materials. Interested business administration or finance? Help with the book-keeping. Interested in event planning or PR? Help them plan events and/or gain publicity for the events.

This kind of skills-based volunteering is mutually beneficial for obvious reasons, but what’s in it for you is relevant experience, a resume builder, expanding your personal/professional network and maybe even a professional recommendation. For more information on skills-based volunteering, check out SmartVolunteer.org.

3. Join a Networking Group

By networking with professionals in your community, you greatly increase your chances of connecting with someone who might be interested in hiring you. But even if the CEO of the company you want to work for isn’t involved in your group, the chances that someone you meet could help you secure a job or at least give you a recommendation is very high. Having a personal connection with a company is terribly important anymore. Just think of how many resumes a company will see for any given position and ask yourself, “How will I stand out?” By connecting with someone who can help you out, you are already at an advantage over other applicants.

4. Start a blog

Blogging is a great way to showcase what you know about a certain subject. It gives you an opportunity to comment on current events and do some research about trends in the industry you are interested in. Employers will be impressed to see your passion and knowledge.

If nothing else, each of these is a wonderful resume builder and will provide you with additional hands-on skills that can put you ahead of the competition when it comes to the job search.

I should also mention that you don’t have to be a young employee to do any of these things. They are also great tips for someone who is looking to transition their career or just spruce up their resume a bit!

What have you done to stand out as an entry-level employee? Have any of these things helped you gain a competitive edge as you venture into the terrifying world of the gainfully employed?