Ask the Coach – Working with Difficult People

 

Last week, the Career Management staff conducted a webinar on “Working with Difficult People”.  We had some really great responses to the presentation, as well as some great questions from the audience.  Below are those questions, as well as answers from our expert career consultation staff.

Working with Difficult People Webinar Q&A – (from 6.29.18)

Q. – How do you handle a boss that is unprofessional. ie. She gossips about her subordinates to subordinates.  This makes me uncomfortable because she supervised both of us.  I can only imagine what she states about me to them.

 A. – When dealing with a situation like this, the best thing to do is to redirect the conversation with your supervisor.  Be sure to keep things as professional as possible, and not to delve too deeply into your own personal background.  It is possible that she is doing this as a way to make friends or to establish a rapport with you (and is just really bad at it).  However, if it continues or becomes even more uncomfortable for you, it may be worth it to speak with HR and get their advice on the situation.  Remember that your talks with HR are confidential unless you choose to file a formal complaint, so there is no worry of being retaliated against for simply seeking some advice.

Q. – What if the difficult person is your boss? What about when a supervisor is being inappropriate and difficult?

 A. – Well, the best answer for this depends on the relationship and level of comfort that you have with that person.  If he or she is difficult because of a situation like the one mentioned above, it may do you well to simply talk to them about it.  A conversation where you clearly outline your boundaries in a friendly but firm way may be helpful.

If, on the other hand, your boss is behaving maliciously toward you, then your best recourse would be to involve HR.  Full disclosure:  this may make things more tense/awkward in your workplace for a while.  However, involving HR would be the best way to begin documenting what is happening around you, and provides you some protection from retaliation in the event that things begin to escalate.

If it’s just that your personalities clash, perhaps you should try some tips on “Managing Up”.  We have an upcoming podcast on this subject, and in the meantime, a great book on the subject is “It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss” by Bruce Tulgan – this book contains some awesome strategies for creating a better relationship with a difficult boss.

Q. – How do you deal/respond to someone who doesn’t listen to your responses to their questions or what you are talking about?  They are already on the next question to ask you or thinking about something else.  I am constantly having to repeat what I had just told them or repeating what another person just said in a meeting.  It seems rude and that they are not listening.

 A. –  This may sound a bit brash, but the easiest way to deal with this is to simply stop answering their questions for them.  It is quite rude that they have chosen not to listen, but saying that outright probably won’t go over well.  However, enabling their bad behavior by not addressing it isn’t helpful to them and will only serve to continue to frustrate you.  Perhaps say to them that you are working on focusing more on meetings so that you can get the most out of them, and suggest that they take notes during the meetings.  You could even offer to go over the notes later on and discuss, if they feel that it necessary.

As far as them not listening to what you’re saying or moving on to new questions without giving you the opportunity to respond, the best approach would be to stop talking once they start.  When the person inevitably notices that you’ve stopped speaking, let them know in a kind, but firm way that   you’ll finish your thoughts/explanation when they’re ready to listen.  You don’t need to be condescending about it, but this is an important boundary for you to establish in order to maintain a strong working relationship with this person.

Q. – What happens when the organization and the people in the organization are stuck in the past with their methods and they don’t approve you trying new things?  This is very difficult and doesn’t change when I’ve tried to have one-on-one conversations.

 A. – If you have had conversations about improving methods in the past and they have not worked, you have two options here.  The first is that you can revisit the conversation(s) with a new approach – perhaps bring in some evidence that shows a correlation between trying new things and an improvement in processes or bottom line outcomes.  The second would be to analyze “fit” – meaning how well you fit into the organizational culture of the company.  If it has become a difficult place for you to work in, then perhaps you should begin exploring other options for employment.  Feel out the opportunities for different departments in your company, or explore options for other career paths.

Q. – As a manager, how do I address an employee who is extremely blunt with her co-workers?  Co-workers feel that she is abrasive and they don’t want to work with her but her work quality is extremely high.  I have discussed it with her several times but it doesn’t resolve.

 A. – Because you are her manager, you are in a unique position to influence these relationships.  Although you wouldn’t want to be seen as singling her out unfairly, it may be a good idea for you to suggest/assign some additional training for her along the lines of emotional intelligence.  Depending on the company that you work for there may be resources available through your human resources department, or you may look outside of the office for webinars, short classes, etc.  A few good books on the subject that you might use as a starting point are:  “Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Golman and “The EQ Edge” by Steven Stein and Howard Book.   

 

Job Search Tools You Can Use This Week – Part Two

Happy Monday all!  Here it a quick list of resources and tools to help you in your job search this week:

 

  1. – Versatile PhD

Versatile PhD is the oldest and largest online social community dedicated to assisting PhDs build careers outside of academia.  Specializing in PhDs with concentrations in humanities, social sciences, and STEM, the platform provides members with the opportunity to discover interesting career paths, network and consult with the larger PhD community, and see job listings appropriate for PhDs.

Why it’s great:  Versatile PhD focuses primarily on those PhDs who are not currently seeking work in academia – the focus is on non-academic, non-faculty careers.  There are more than 85,000 members that PhDs can connect and network with, even attending local meet-ups if they would like!  This is a great way to build community and find support as you take a non-traditional path toward a career outside of the academic world.

 Where you can get it:  For OSU alumni, visit the “Job Search Resources” page of the Career Management website here:  https://www.osu.edu/alumni/services/career-management/job-search-resources/  and log in with your OSU credentials to join the site!

  1. – AlumniFire

AlumniFire is Ohio State’s exclusive online professional networking site, where members can work with one another to support each other’s professional development and growth.  As a member, you’ll have the ability to search Buckeyes based on any number of variables, including industry, location, class year, college, and more.  You can seek them out for support based on what they are “offering”, and you have the ability to offer professional development support to others as well.  AlumniFire is what I often refer to as “LinkedIn Lite” – it allows for many of the same benefits of LinkedIn, including job listings, a bulletin board for announcements, and networking opportunities.  However, it is a much smaller, more contained online platform that is exclusive to Ohio State alumni, faculty/staff, and current students.  It also has a feature that LinkedIn doesn’t – offerings

Why it’s great:  Every person who is a member of the site is required to “offer” something to the general community – general career advice, networking assistance, resume reviews, etc.  This takes some of the pressure off when reaching out to someone to obtain their assistance, because they have already “raised their hand” to help you!

Where you can get it:  http://osu.alumnifire.com

  1. – Alumni Career Connection

By virtue of being an alumnus of this great institution, you are eligible for a number of benefits through the Office of Alumni Career Management.  One of those resources is Alumni Career Connection, our alumni-exclusive job board.  With as many as 20 companies per day posting opportunities specifically seeking to hire our graduates, there are many chances to explore and obtain work, regardless of your field or point in your career transition.  There are entry-level positions available, as well as professional-level opportunities for more seasoned workers.  This is a great benefit for any of our alumni who are currently seeking.

Why it’s great:  Job opportunities exclusive to OSU alumni?  What more do I need to say?  J

Where you can get ithttps://www.osu.edu/alumni/services/career-management/alumni-career-connection.html

  1. – Career Management Webinar Library

Another addition to the wealth of resources that we have available to you through this office is our webinar library.  Here you will find more than 25 webinars hosted by either our career consultants or select distinguished alumni, on topics ranging from doing well in an interview to networking in different ways.  There are also informative sessions that cater to specific areas of interest, such as women returning to work, or defining success on your own terms.

Why it’s great:  Lots and lots of career advice, for people at any stage in their career development.

Where you can get ithttps://www.osu.edu/alumni/services/career-management/webinars.html

 

I hope that these resources are valuable to you as you work your way through your job search – whatever stage you may be at currently.  Don’t forget that you can always reach out to our office for additional assistance, by calling 1.800.635.8944 as well.

Make it a great week!

Job Search Tools You Can Use This Week – Part 1

Happy Monday all!  Here it a quick list of resources and tools to help you in your job search this week:

  1. – JobScan

JobScan.co is one of the top resources currently being used to help jobseekers here in the Office of Alumni Career Management.  JobScan is a versatile and intuitive software program that reviews your resume and compares it against the job description of your choice, reading it like an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Why it’s great:  Because most companies use an ATS in their hiring processes now, JobScan gives you an edge over other applicants by letting you see what an HR person will see when they review your resume.  This means that you can (and should) tailor it specifically to meet the needs of a given position – and JobScan walks you through exactly how to do that step-by-step.

Where you can get it:  Visit JobScan.co and create a free account to try it out today!

  1. – Canva

Canva is an easy to use and intuitive tool that allows you to create your own personalized graphics for use on social media and/or business cards.  This is an easy way to establish and maintain your personal brand, which is a huge asset whether you’re currently in the job search or simply looking to further develop yourself and your presence online.  Having graphics that are custom to you allows you to make an impression on those who interact with you online, and support a cohesive (and beautifully professional) brand image.

Why it’s great:  You can create beautiful graphics for social media and other personal marketing materials.  Plus, it is fast, free, and user-friendly, making it easy to use regardless of your level of skill.

Where you can get it:  Canva.com

  1. – My Next Move Interest Profiler

For those of you who have reached a point in your career where you are unsure about the direction that you want your career to go in, career exploration assessments are always a great option.  Most career consultant offices generally offer the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and Strong Interest Inventory as options to assist you in this exploration – at a cost.  Before you commit to the price of an assessment package, however, I suggest that jobseekers check out the MyNextMove Interest Profiler provided by Onet Online (a service of the US Department of Labor).  MyNextMove offers an assessment that is similar to the Strong Interest Inventory (I generally refer to it as “Strong – Lite”), and provides an interactive way to explore the career paths that are suggested by the assessment results.

Why it’s great:  It’s a free career assessment that allows you to do some in-depth exploration and get some ideas on potential paths that you might like to pursue without investing $100+ in paid testing through a career consultant.  It also connects to Onet Online, which provides you with the tools to not only explore the context of the many different career paths that are available to you, but also lets you look into salary expectations, job outlook for the next 5 years, type of education needed, and more.

Where you can get it:  https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

Bonus:  https://www.onetonline.org/

 

Get started on putting these tools to work for you today, and be on the lookout later this week for Part Two of this series, where I will highlight even more great resources for your use!

Three Tips for Rocking an Out of State Job Search

So, you’ve decided that you’re ready to spread your wings and relocate to another state for your next career move.  If so, you’re not alone.  A recent survey from MSN shows that 1 in 4 jobseekers are willing and ready to relocate in order to facilitate a career change.  With those statistics, you might think that employers are open to candidates from varying locales, but ask any number of job seekers who have been in the hunt for a job outside of their current area, and you will likely find that securing a position in another state is a bit more challenging than you’d expect.  Oftentimes employers do not offer relocation packages, and they may look poorly on candidates from different areas because of the time and effort that it would take to have them move to the job location.  Sometimes employers just don’t want the bother.

So, what can you do about it?  Below are three tips to help you move your interstate job search forward.

  1. – Remove location markers from your resume

Most recruiters agree that when they see a resume with an out of state address, it comes off as something of a red flag.  They anticipate that employers will give pushback on those candidates, and therefore they are moved to the bottom of the “priority list”.  One of the easiest things that you can do to make yourself more competitive in the out-of-state job market is to remove your address from the document altogether.

Also, keep in mind that an address is no longer an important element of the resume – in fact, it is pretty erroneous information at this point.  You would be better served to use the area traditionally reserved for your address to instead showcase a link to your Linkedin profile or a headline introducing yourself to the employer.

You can also take it a bit farther and remove the locations of previous jobs that you have held as well (since this is also not pertinent information) and use the Google voice app to create a local phone number.  These two strategies are less common, but still considered acceptable according to most recruiters.

  1. – Talk about it and BE HONEST

Once you’ve been called for an interview, it is best to address the topic upfront.  When talking with a potential employer, you should use affirmative language and reference a time-frame for your move.  For example, you might ask for a Skype or phone interview for the first round.  At that point, you would let the company know that you are planning to relocate by saying something along the lines of, “Yes, I currently live in Ohio – however, I anticipate moving to Boston within the next 8 weeks.”  You should also include that you are prepared to move at your own cost, as many companies rule out candidates for whom they feel they will have to make a substantial investment in up front (such as a relocation package).

Also take care not to lie or lead an employer on.  I’ve often seen candidates use a local address on an application in order to avoid getting red flagged for being a non-local applicant.  This is fine – however, be sure that you explain clearly to an employer that this is the address you anticipate staying at once you arrive in the area, and not your current address.  Telling an employer you currently reside in LA with a current employer in Colorado is a sure fire way to get those red flags raised again, and, what’s worse, now you look like a liar to the hiring manager.  Don’t do it – this is never a good idea.

  1. – NETWORK!

Aside from the above two tips, you should treat your out of state job search largely the way that you would a local search – with the exception of needing to cast a much wider net.  Network with as many people as you can from your target area – Linkedin is a great tool for this.  You should be making connections with people in your industry and preferred area – be diligent about this, and make sure any meetings/informational interviews/etc. are as fruitful and meaningful as possible.

You should also be prepared to make a few trips to your target area as well.  Doing this will allow you to meet with your connections in real time, as well as become familiar with the area itself.  Depending on your familial situation, you may also need to research housing, schools, etc.  All of this will be much easier to do in person.

The ACM Staff is Out and About!

 

Believe it or not, occasionally we here in the Office of Alumni Career Management step outside of our hallowed halls and enjoy a little sunshine!  When we are not busy coaching clients on how to build a career that they love, we enjoy doing professional development and partnering with our fellow Alumni Association and University colleagues to further promote our mission.

In the last week, we have been doing a lot of that.  Here is a quick catch-up on some of the things that we have been up to lately:

 

GradFest!

Our illustrious university graduated more than 11,000 students last week, and we appreciated the opportunity to help welcome them into the alumni family!  On Friday, May 4, the ACM staff participated in GradFest – an event hosted by our friends in charge of connecting with Young Alumni.  At this event, we were able to talk to hundreds of new grads as they told us about why they chose their majors, what their plans were after undergrad, and some of them even let me in on a few tidbits about “what I wish I’d known” going into their degree programs.

Each department in the Alumni Experiences unit was represented at GradFest, and we all sought out special ways to connect with the new grads to make them feel welcome, and assure them that as Buckeyes, they always have a home here in Columbus, no matter where their journeys take them next.

 

National Conference on Diversity, Race, and Learning

OSU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is holding it’s 24th annual conference on Diversity, Race, and Learning this week, and the ACM staff had the wonderful opportunity to attend the pre-conference diversity training.  With topics ranging from “Improving Educational Outcomes for Underserved Students in Postsecondary Education” to “Creating and Flourishing with Diversity and Inclusion in a New Era,” my colleagues and I were privy to some great training that opened our minds to new ways of looking at diversity and inclusion, and how we can apply those principles in our everyday work lives to better serve our clients.

The larger conference is being held today, with Twitter’s own Candi Singleton as the keynote speaker – this should prove to be an excellent experience all around!

 

Also coming up soon, our staff will be attending a retreat with the University Career Services Council, which will feature training on working with clients with intellectual disabilities.  We are also planning some excellent professional development events for you all as well – be on the lookout for more information in the coming weeks!

 

Alumni Spotlight – Col. Ken Kmetz

Hey all!  We are back again to spotlight another one of our distinguished Buckeye alumni.  Our newest feature is Colonel Kenneth Kmetz, a 1998 graduate of the Marion Campus of The Ohio State.   Col. Kmetz graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, while serving in the Air National Guard.  He has now ascended the ranks to the position of Maintenance Group Commander of the 179th Airlift Wing, and he remains a proud Buckeye, through and through!

  1. What brought you to OSU?

Upon enlistment in the Ohio Air National Guard and at my swearing in – where you take an oath to the President of the United States and the Governor of Ohio that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United State and the state of Ohio – I immediately became eligible for a full scholarship to state based institutions.  This is a state of Ohio benefit, as the state realizes the value of having and supporting their “home town/state Air Force and Army National Guard.”  Airmen and soldiers are also eligible for federal benefits that augment the state benefits.  Essentially, we have the opportunity to graduate from college debt free, better for having been a part of something bigger than ourselves, and ready to contribute as a Citizen-Airman.  Knowing this, I chose The Ohio State University because, in my opinion, it is the best university.  OSU provided great traditions, academic excellence, and for me, a regional campus that would allow me to work full time while earning my education.  I graduated from OSU-Mansfield and received the same great education as if I were at main campus.  Go Bucks!

  1. How did your experience at OSU shape your career path?

OSU taught me to learn, to research, and to challenge myself. My time there provided me with the opportunity to compete for a commission (or, become an officer) in the Ohio National Guard.  The things I learned at Ohio State enabled me to grow in the profession of arms.  That profession happens to be as an Ohio Guardsman where I am surrounded by other “Buckeyes.”  I could be in a formation anywhere in the state and hear an “O-H!” followed by an “I-O!”  Ohio State is a part of the culture of Ohio.  I am one Buckeye – a small part of a much larger whole.  Being a part of the National Guard gives me that same feeling, but on a much larger scale.  Here, I serve as a small piece of something so much bigger than myself, and yet somehow, I am not lost in it. I feel valued and realize that what I do is critical to the big picture — defending our nation, our neighbors, and freedom loving people across the globe.

  1. What advice or insight do you have for OSU alumni and students who are interested in your career field?

I have touched on a couple points already that make my career path special, especially as a “Buckeye” working as an Ohio Guardsman.  I am proud to serve and it is an honor and a privilege to serve our great state and nation.  The military has a public trust that is unmatched across career paths.  If you are in uniform in public, people routinely come up to you and thank you for your service.  It is very humbling to say the least; I typically respond by thanking them for their support as well, and recognizing that we cannot do what we do without them.  One of my former commanders pointed out how citizens in some countries run from the military — here, they run to the military.  Less than one percent of the US population is in the military — an all-volunteer force that has been at war for decades.  It is a special place to be with a special mission and opportunities to grow, advance, learn, and provide something back to your community.  If you have the desire to join, you will need to be diligent, ready for a challenge, and give your best — your country deserves nothing less.

Cover Letters vs. Value Propositions

In today’s ever changing world of the job seeker, there is always a push to put your best foot forward and demonstrate versatility and innovation in the job market.  One relatively new trend that we often see with clients is a transition from using a traditional cover letter to the more modern “value proposition”.  Both are excellent tools for a job seeker to have in his toolbox; however, for maximum effectiveness, it is critical to know which document is appropriate for a given situation.

First, though, let’s take some time to outline the differences between the two.  A cover letter is the more traditional document that a job seeker will include in her introductory package to a potential employer.  Typically about one page in length, a cover letter highlights experiences and achievements in previous positions, using them as evidence that the candidate will be able to meet the needs expressed by the employer in the job announcement.  Cover letters focus on the past, with a candidate spending three to five paragraphs expounding on their previous experiences and qualifications as they relate to a particular position.

Conversely, a value proposition letter is a much shorter document – generally only about 100-150 words.  While a cover letter focuses on what you have done in the past, a value proposition focuses instead on what you can (and will) do for the company in the present and future.  Because they are significantly less expository in nature, it is not necessary for them to be long, drawn-out documents.

Now that you know the difference between the two, let’s talk about how to know when you should use each.  First up – when should you use a cover letter? The most obvious instance for when you should use a cover letter is when an employer asks for it.  Even if you feel that a value proposition letter or other document would be more impactful in a given scenario you should always defer to any directions given by an employer.  Not doing so puts you at risk of being disqualified altogether.

It is also a good idea to use a cover letter when there is a need to explain something unusual on your resume or in your background.  For example, if you took time away from the traditional workforce to care for a sick family member or have children, a cover letter would be a great way to not only explain this to an employer, but to also highlight some of the transferable skills that you may have gained as a result of this (such as budgeting, conflict resolution, etc.).

When an employer does not specifically ask for a cover letter, you may decide to use a value proposition letter instead.  Regardless of whether or not an advertisement specifically asks for a cover letter, it is important to always send a document that introduces you to an employer.  You may also decide to use a value proposition letter if you are making a cold call to a potential employer who has not specifically advertised for a position.  The value proposition letter would be a strong way to introduce yourself and your potential contributions to a company, by identifying a problem that they may or may not know that they have, as well as including yourself as a solution to the issue.

If you are unsure which is more appropriate, err on the side of traditionalism, and use a cover letter.  Remember, though, that you can use elements of a value proposition in your cover letter to make it more compelling.  While crafting your “combination cover letter”, be sure to emphasize where you are presently, and only speak to the past as a means to bolster what you plan to do in the present and the future.  Place a great deal of emphasis on your experiences and skills as a way to add value to the company that you are applying to.  Finally, keep in concise – speak directly to what areas of concern you will specifically address for an employer, and be sure to limit yourself to no more than one page

Easily Identifying Fraudulent Job Postings

Here in the Office of Alumni Career Management, we work with alumni from all walks of life and in all stages of their careers.  As our nation’s job market continues to move further and further away from its more traditional structure and closer toward the new “gig economy,” many of you have approached us for assistance in taking advantage of some of these opportunities.  While taking on “gigs” or freelance and nontraditional jobs can be an excellent way to build your portfolio and gain some experience in the field(s) for which you’d like to build a career (some people even make it the basis of their whole careers – that’s great!), there is also sometimes a risk that comes along with doing business in this more informal economy.

Before you decide to apply for what sounds like the job of your dreams (or even just a great place to start right now), we encourage you to exercise caution and be diligent about analyzing the validity of the listing. Here are a few quick and easy ways to identify whether or not an opportunity is a legitimate job listing, or if what you’re looking at is a fraudulent posting designed to steal your identity or rope you into spending money on an “opportunity” with little to no prospect of getting a return on your “investment”.

You may be viewing a fraudulent job posting if:

  1. You are asked to provide personal financial information up front, such as your credit card or bank account numbers, your social security number, or other personal financial documentation.

 

Generally speaking, you will be asked to provide a social security number on an official job application, so that the company can code you for tax purposes and/or perform a background check on you.  However, you should not be asked to provide that information when simply looking at or responding to a job listing.  Additionally, a company should never ask for credit card or other payment information from you at any point.  Once you’ve been hired, a direct deposit form from payroll may be included in your onboarding paperwork that will ask for your bank account number, but you should not be asked for this information prior to an offer of employment being extended.  Also, note that most companies offer an alternative to direct deposit agreements, such as the issuance of paper checks or a paycard onto which your earnings will be deposited.

 

  1. – The posting appears to be from a reputable company, but the domain name in the contact’s email address does not match that used by representatives of that company.

 

Be especially wary of job postings where a contact is using a generic domain name (@gmail.com or @live.com, etc) – this almost always indicates that the job posting is fraudulent.  If you see another company’s name in the domain section, take a moment to do a web search for that company.  Occasionally, you may find that this is a recruiter contracted by the company for which you would like to apply, and in that case it may be a reputable job posting.  Bear in mind, though, that most legitimate job postings that utilize a recruiter will indicate that in the job posting itself.

 

 

  1. – The job that the employer wants you to perform is different than the job for which you applied.

 

The most common version of this is a scenario in which the employer says that he or she is out of the country currently, and that there are some tasks that he/she needs you to perform on their behalf.  These tasks almost always involve money, and can include the employer sending you a bogus check to deposit and use for their purposes (only to find that the check bounces after a few days, while your personal funds have been utilized instead to achieve their goals), or asking you to perform certain tasks with your own personal funds and await reimbursement.

 

  1. – The position requires an initial investment, such as payment by wire service or courier.

 

Note that this is different from a direct sales opportunity (such as Plexus, LipSense, or Mary Kay), in which you are investing in your own business as part of a larger company.  Those are legitimate opportunities where you have the ability to grow a significant income, though you are responsible for your own growth and it is not a traditional employment setup where you will be receiving a paycheck at pre-determined periods.  Instead, these fraudulent opportunities require some sort of down payment or investment from the company in order to begin working for them, leading to you essentially paying for a paycheck.  If a company asks you to pay to be part of their payroll – especially if they are asking you for payment via Western Union or MoneyGram – run.  This is never a legitimate way for a company to do business.

Laid Off – Now What?

Layoffs – they happen to the best of us now and then.  Whether your company is downsizing and needs to cut departments and/or positions, or has simply decided to change their direction and deemed your position no longer necessary, layoffs can happen at any time.  Though this is a difficult situation to grapple with for anyone, there are some things that you can do in order to prepare yourself to deal with the loss of your job in the best way possible.  Below are a few tips on what you should do if you have been laid off, or are anticipating a layoff in the near future.

  1. – Check with your company about what benefits you may be entitled to

If you anticipate that a layoff is coming soon, or if you have been given notice that you are being laid off, one of the first things that you will want to do is contact your benefits representative and determine what, if any, benefits you are entitled to.  Benefits may include the continuation of health insurance, severance payments, retirement/pension payouts, and more.

Companies that employ more than 20 people are mandated by law to offer health insurance through COBRA for released employees for up to 18 months upon termination.  However, unless stipulated as part of your severance package, you will need to pay for the COBRA premiums yourself… and often they are quite expensive.  If you find the cost of maintaining COBRA insurance prohibitive, you also have the option to shop the federal Health Insurance Marketplace for insurance options.  You can compare these with the COBRA policy(ies) available to you and determine which will best meet your needs.

If you are enrolled in a 401k through your company, you may also be eligible for a lump-sum payout of your benefits upon release from your position.  The tax rules on this vary based on the specific type of retirement plan you have elected to enroll in, and your benefits administrator can generally direct you to the person(s) who can answer tax questions for you with regard to this.

Companies are not generally required to offer a severance package, and many will not – especially for non-executive employees.  Still, if you are being laid off, you are encouraged to ask whether or not this is an option for you.  The worst that can happen is that they say no – however, you might be surprised in finding that a package or settlement is offered, regardless of your seniority level.

  1. File an unemployment claim

Once you are officially unemployed, you will need to visit your local unemployment office or career center and file an unemployment insurance claim.  If you have been employed with your company for more than 90 days, and have been laid off through no fault of your own (the rules differ slightly for people who have been terminated due to actions of their causing), you should be eligible for unemployment.  Unemployment benefits pay about 60% of your working pay, up to a certain amount that is established as the limit.  This maximum limit for payment varies by state, so check with your local office to determine how much you may be eligible for.

Also, remember that unemployment insurance only pays for a certain amount of time.  The benefits do not continue indefinitely, so it is critical that you utilize the time that you have while receiving the benefits well.  Many states have a requirement that you actively apply for a certain amount of jobs per week as a stipulation for continuing to receive the benefit – you can also take classes or do additional continuous improvement as well (more on that later).

  1. Update your resume and references

Hopefully you are a person who updates his or her resume on a regular basis, keeping it fresh and ready for any opportunity that comes along.  If not, however, don’t fear.  There are many resources available on the web and in person to help you update your resume, regardless of how long it has been since you were last in the job search.  The career consultants in the Office of Alumni Career Management are one such resource, as we are happy to work with you to ensure that your resume and other job search documents (cover letters, follow up notes, etc.) are on par with what is generally expected in today’s job market and that they are showcasing you in ways that clearly define the best things about you to any prospective employer.

References are also a critical part of the job search strategy – especially since most people today are hired via networking connections as opposed to simply applying for posted jobs.  If you’d like a reference from your previous employer, make sure that you ask your supervisor or other associated personnel while they still remember who you are.  If you are employed by a large company and those that you work closest with are being terminated as well, you should ask for a letter of reference from management or human resources to ensure that you have that information to pass along to any future prospective employers.  You’ll also want to exchange contact information with any colleagues who you’d like to use as a reference for future purposes.  Remember that this is a two-way street, and offer to be a reference for them as well at some point in the future, should they need it.

  1. – Maximize your time

Being laid off can leave you shell-shocked, and unsure of what to do with yourself.  Whether this is your first time being unemployed, or if you’ve been down this road before, it is important to recognize that this is an opportunity for growth.  Sure, you’ll be looking for jobs and establishing or reestablishing connections as you work your way into a new employment situation, but remember that that isn’t all that you can do.  You also now have time to do some professional development.  This can be done by taking a few courses through LinkedIn Learning, continuing education classes through an association you’re affiliated with, or even enrolling in a certificate program through OSU!  Anything that you do to demonstrate that you are interested in continuing your growth and development will bode well by helping you make additional connections and demonstrating to potential employers that you are still capable and willing to learn new things.

  1. – Breathe

This is perhaps the most important of all the advice here today.  Being unemployed, for any amount of time, for any reason (that isn’t voluntary) can be incredibly stressful.  Make a concerted effort not to let yourself get caught up in the overwhelming thoughts about how you “don’t know what to do”.  Your situation does not have to be permanent – take things day by day, and remember to take care of yourself in the meantime. Make relaxation and self-care an important part of your re-employment strategy – you’ll feel better and be more focused as a result.

Don’t Let Your Lizard Brain Ruin Your Life!

As we approach the new year, it’s a sure bet that many of you are thinking about what goals and ambitions you plan to pursue in 2018.  With the coming of each new year, almost everyone takes the time to think about and make some resolutions about how they will be different, better people in the next twelve months.  Some of us choose to embark on a weight-loss journey, while others venture to go back to school, spend more time with family, etc.  One thing that we see often as career coaches is many people who are interested in making a change to benefit their careers.  Clients come in with the intention of pursuing a promotion, position within a new company, or starting their own business, yet many have talked themselves out of whatever their goal was before spring comes.

When asked about how we can help them get back on track, many clients reveal that they have been affected by the Lizard Brain.  The Lizard Brain is that little voice in the back of your head that tells you that you can’t do something.  It is the thing that says, “But you don’t have the qualifications for that” when you’re thinking of applying for a new job, or “Do you really think taking on that big of a risk is a good idea?” when you’re considering starting your own business.  The Lizard Brain is the voice of self-doubt, the voice of fear, the voice inside your head that warns you to stay “safe” – regardless of what it costs you.

Scientifically speaking, your Lizard Brain is the amygdala – the oldest part of your brain, where your survival instincts are housed.  This is the part that is charged with keeping you alive, no matter the cost.  Unfortunately, it often cannot tell the difference between fear that means danger is imminent and anxiety from doing something that scares you or pushes you out of your comfort zone.

So, then, how do you beat the Lizard Brain?

You learn to embrace it.

John Wayne is credited with having once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”  He, and many others who have been successful in their lives, understood one important thing about life – that you can be afraid of something, and still find a way to push forward toward what you want out of life.

That job you’re thinking about?  Apply.

That new skill you’re afraid to learn?  Pick up a book and get started reading about it.

The key is to simply get started – as you make more and more moves in the direction of your goals, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier for you to work around your fear and seize opportunities.

And if pursuing a better career for yourself is on your “to-do” list for 2018, one of the easiest ways to get started is to schedule an appointment with one of ACM’s career counselors.  Each alumnus is entitled to a free, one hour one on one consultation with a member of the career services team – reach out to us via our customer service team at  800-635-8944 to make your appointment today!