Thinking about a job or career change and dont know where to start? New to the workforce and anxious to map out your future?
Tips offered by two long-time University staff members at the Workplace 2000 Conference last month will help you get started.
The first thing you need to do is establish goals, Wendy Powell, human resources representative in the Employee Relations and Compensation Office, told her Rackham Amphitheater audience. For baby boomers and those from prior generations, goals were not as important as they are todaywe werent taught to be goal-oriented.
The University has a lot of long-time employees, she noted, who have chosen to grow with the institution over the years. Many up-and-comers dont understand that philosophy, she said, but you need to do what is comfortable for you. Some will have a goal of staying with one organization; others want to move around.
Whatever your situation, you do need to periodically revisit your goals and ask yourself some hard questions: Is your job still working for you? Jobs change over time, with new technologies, new emphases. Are you changing too? As some of the clothes in your closet may not still fit, does your job still fit you? Do you still have a passion for your work? Are you still getting personal and professional benefits from your job? Do you know how you contribute to the success of the organization? Are you still challenged? Comfort with a job is OK, but it also makes one complacent, Powell noted.
If you answer no to some of these questions, its probably time for a reality check, since you are responsible for your destiny, Powell emphasized. She also said that any goals you establish should be reasonable, controllable and believable. Powell has a child with a learning disability. There are some things he cannot do well, but he has excellent verbal skills. Hed make a good salesman, she noted.
She noted that her goals have changed over time. She initially was in the banking industry, with a goal of becoming a vice president. That didnt suit her and she joined the University. She recently returned to school to prepare herself for yet another careerteaching adults, which is what she said she really loves.
Once youve set some goals, find out what you need to do to pursue that new or changed career. The days of a company looking out for its employees is over, Powell said. You no longer can count on your employer to look after your advancement.
Check out the Universitys tuition refund program, review the courses offered by Human Resource Development and the Information Technology Division. Check the offerings at nearby colleges. Think about attending workshops and conferences that will provide you with new or stronger skills.
She also encouraged staff members to do more than just the basics of their jobs. Dont say, I wont take that on unless I get paid more. Take more responsibility and good things will come. That shows motivation and initiative. Build a record of increasing and expanding responsibilities and a job well done with them. And create an environment around yourself that will prepare you for and support success in what you are doing.
Employers are more interested in what youve done with your talents rather than the talents themselves, she noted.
And finally, Powell emphasized, A formal education is a very important component of career advancement. Are you comfortable with your education level? Find what fits your needs. There are lots of organizations now that cater to the adult learner, to students who also work full time.
And keep in mind that some degree of computer literacy is needed for just about any job. You dont need to be a whiz-bang expert, but you should keep current and update your skills.
In introducing the program, Shelley Morrison, director of human resources and staff development at the Medical School, noted that the content was based on a request from a colleague to think back to the tips and advice we received as we were growing up and entering the workforce and find a way to share those that worked.
My mother told me things and so did a professor, but I didnt believe them 20 years ago, she noted. When she thought back, however, she realized that much of what theyd advised was sound.
First and foremost among Morrisons tips: The first impression is the most important one and youve got only 2030 seconds to make it. Its all about who you are and how you carry yourself, not what you do, she said.
Other words of wisdom:
Morrison noted that business casual came into being as relief for corporate employees who wore dark suits, white shirts and conservative ties. Comparatively, the University already was casual. While it may be tempting, jeans and sweats are inappropriate for most employees. Think about where you work and whats acceptable, she advised.
Most of all: Customize a plan for yourself, have a goal and identify what you need to get there.
Yael Liber, employment representative in Employment Services, briefed the Amphitheater audience on a Web site launched last year designed to help staff assess their skills and abilities and determine directions in which they may want to take their careers.
The Virtual Career Center ( www.umich.edu/~hraa/empserv/VCC/) provides a step-by-step guide to help you through the decision-making process, as well as a compilation of the many resources available at the University and locally for both counseling and education.
The Virtual Career Center includes a link to a University of Waterloo (Canada) site that Liber described as the best career development site available as it includes a number of self-assessment activities that can help you get started. She did caution that such things as personal inventories, included on the Waterloo site, are best undertaken with the help of a professional counselor.
The Virtual Career Center will guide you through three important steps:
Employment Services is just beginning to get involved in the counseling aspects of career planning, Liber noted, and also suggested that individuals contact the Center for the Education of Women and the Universitys central Career Planning and Placement Office (CP&P). While primarily designed for student job-seekers, CP&P can be a helpful resource to staff during its off season, when students are not on campus.