Determining Your Workplace Priorities

I’ve been thinking recently about the factors that I value most in a job. Below are some factors that I take into consideration. For each one, I make sure to ask myself several questions, “How will this work?” “Does it matter to me?” and “How much does it matter to me?”

 

Flexibility: Will you be able to take time off, set your own hours, and work from home occasionally? Can you work less than full-time? Can you pursue other projects on the side? To what extent do these factors affect your feelings about a potential workplace?

I value my flexibility as a virtual worker immensely. I love being able to work from home or Starbucks occasionally and take long weekends when I want, knowing I can make up my hours on weeknights or the following weekend. Most importantly, I love working part-time, owning a business on the side, and having time for my blog, Change the Triangle, and my social life.

Work/Life Balance: Along the same lines, are you expected to stay until 8 or 9pm or are you allowed to bolt at (or before) 5pm? Does the employer encourage you to have a healthy work/life balance or give your life over to the company? Either way, does it matter to you?

I don’t really have a work/life balance struggle since I work virtually. If I were to work full-time from an office, I would want the ability to maintain a healthy outside life. I feel like I lose a lot of my productivity when I’m forced to keep crazy hours and sacrifice healthy eating and exercising (that being said, I love the adrenaline of occasional late nights and firm deadlines).

Income and benefits: Will you be paid on a salary, hourly wage, or commission or a combination? Will you receive full benefits like a 401k and medical and dental? Do you have a back-up plan if you won’t receive benefits (like the ability to be on a family member’s plan)?

It’s important for me to have a solid income but if I were to pit financials against other factors, it would absolutely rank lower than some others.

Mental and emotional stimulation: Is the job mentally and emotionally challenging for you? Does it help you grow as a person? Again, are these priorities for you or are you fine taking a job that doesn’t propel you forward?

This is incredibly important for me. I can’t stay passionate for a job that doesn’t push me, challenge me, and help me grow. For me, there’s a time and place for doing work that you’re familiar and comfortable with, but tackling new exciting projects is a priority.

Physical surroundings: Think about the location and aesthetics of your workplace. Do you need a chic, elegant office or is a sparse cubicle fine with you? Does the office’s proximity to your home and local resources matter? If you will work virtually, will you work from your bed, a home office, Starbucks, a coworking space, a Regus office suite, or a combination?

My surroundings are somewhat important to me. I value natural lighting, comfortable chairs, and easy access to water, bathrooms, and coffee 🙂 For me, The Raleigh Forum is the perfect blend of comfy but chic. I don’t think I would feel comfortable in a super fancy office. A short commute is very important to me. Additionally, I like working in an office that has restaurants, coffee shops, and activities within walking distance. As a virtual worker, I also value having access to a coworking space because working from home 24/7 makes me stir-crazy!

Office setting: Do you want fun office amenities like a ping pong table and free beer on Fridays or are these superfluous for you? Do you prefer business formal, business casual, or Silicon Valley attire?

I love having a laid-back, fun office. When I worked at The Washington Diplomat, I felt more productive when I was able to take short darts breaks throughout the day! That being said, I don’t need crazy amenities like pony or helicopter rides 🙂 Business casual or office casual attire is the perfect fit for me- cute flats or kitten heels, a skirt or jeans, a cute top, and a blazer.

Coworkers & boss: How important is it for you to have good relationships with your coworkers and boss? Do you want them to be friends or just 9-5 acquaintances? Does their age, gender, and other factors matter to you?

Having solid relationships with my coworkers is important to me. I love feeling comfortable with my coworkers but I don’t expect my social life to revolve around them.

Autonomy: Along the same lines, does the job and your boss offer you autonomy and freedom? Will you make your own decisions or follow the instructions of a superior?

Autonomy is key for me. I feel most productive when I’m self-directed, passionate, and in control. That’s not to say I can’t take direction or I don’t value having a boss and coworkers that I can use as resources!

Security: In a rocky economy, job security is harder to come by. Are you comfortable with having a less secure job (like at a start-up) a or do you strive for a more secure career (tenure, anyone?)? What can you do to increase your job security (like signing a 2 year contract)?

I feel comfortable with the ambiguity of both owning my own business and working at a maturing start-up. For me, job security is a nice perk but not mandatory.

Company values & ethics: Is corporate social responsibility a part of the company’s mission? Do they do well by their direct and indirect stakeholders, including employees, the public, and the environment?

This is a big factor for me. I want to believe in the mission and values of the company that I work for. I strive to work for companies that not only do the right thing in the community but also internally (such as promoting a healthy work/life balance- see above).

What other priorities do you take into account? Which priorities are the most and least important to you when choosing a job?

how to efficiently monitor content on the web

1) Google Reader: I use Google Reader as both as professional and personal (read: blog) resource. I subscribe to interesting blogs and websites, then check in 1-2 times per day to read up on my new content. High on my list: Lifehacker, The Kitchn, The Everygirl, and a billion lifestyle/cooking blogs (including all the blog girls!). I love that you can star posts to refer back to at a later time. You can also create folders to group subscriptions by topic (e.g. design, fashion, cooking, work, etc).

2) Google Alerts: I mentioned awhile back how important it is to monitor the internet for references to yourself. But you can also use Google Alerts to search for miscellaneous content across the web- I have an alert set up for “social recruiting” and one for “Boolean AND recruiting” so I can stay up-to-date on the recruiting field. The best part? You can have all Google Alert content sent directly to your Google Reader (see above!).

3) Twitter: I’m obsessed with Twitter and everyone knows it! Without harping on all the benefits, I’ll leave you with two tips: use lists to filter content by user (I have a ton set up but don’t actually use them often). In addition, save searches and check them regularly (I have “The Raleigh Forum, “Raleigh coworking,” and “#socialrecruiting,” among others).

4) LinkedIn: LinkedIn Today is daily news based on your profile details and interests- I always find one or two interesting articles when I browse! Yet another incentive to keep your profile up-to-date…

Staying on top of news and content in my fields (yes, that’s plural!), in addition to browsing interesting content just for the heck of it, is an important part of my daily routine. I love having a little system in place to do it effectively.

How do you efficiently and effectively monitor for interesting content on the internet?

Source: weheartit.com via Debbie on Pinterest

public criticism: a do or a don’t?

The idea of public criticism has been tumbling around in my head for many months, but the catalyst for this post was the recent Triangle bloggers’ potluck.

Public criticism of businesses and individuals has become somewhat of a norm as Twitter continues to grow, blogging becomes more mainstream, and small businesses embrace social media.

I myself {what a redundant phrase!} have engaged in this trend. When Maddie was sick, I had a terrible experience with a local vet. After dealing with the situation- including finding a new vet- I reviewed the original vet on Google. I felt it was important for other pet owners to be aware of the negative {and potentially dangerous} experience I had.

I’m less proud of other times that I’ve publicly bashed a local company. After perusing a cute retail store, I left in a huff and immediately tweeted about the terrible service I received. To the owner’s credit, they found my email and sent me a message addressing the situation. Guess what I did? Nothing. I was too embarrassed about my behavior to respond. That was almost a year ago and I still think about it.

Several things have made me reconsider my perspective lately: as a small business owner, I know how hurtful it can be to think about negative information circulating about The Raleigh Forum. I know that there are always two sides to the story that a negative review or comment may not address. Additionally, Raleigh is small enough that you are likely to run into the very owner that you publicly chastised, which leads to excessive and unnecessary awkwardness.

But like I said, the blog potluck got me thinking even more. At the potluck, someone mentioned a hate website devoted to mocking big bloggers {I refuse to link to it}.  I think the supposed anonymity of the internet makes people feel more comfortable participating in cyber-bullying without pausing to think about the bloggers’ feelings. Another prime case study on cyber-bullying? The disheartening Juicy Campus fiasco.

I’m torn because it’s a complicated issue but here’s where I think I stand: A good rule of thumb is to first contact the business or individual privately. Admittedly,  some businesses are more responsive when criticism is made public. The idea that their brand is being publicly disparaged is often a more prompt catalyst for change than a private phone call or email, so I do think there are times when it is appropriate to take to social media to leave feedback.

Another good rule of thumb- act under the expectation that your tweet, review, comment, etc will be seen by the owner, CEO, or blogger- and that your name will be attached to it. Does that change the way you interact when your anonymity is taken away and you consider the feelings of the person receiving the feedback? I guarantee you that even the most popular bloggers have feelings too and are affected by hurtful, mean-spirited comments.

But remember my Ask and You Shall Receive post from awhile back? I stated that if you are willing to broadcast negative feedback, you should go out of your way to give positive feedback. For every negative comment I publicize, I’m sure to share my positive experiences too {like my endless love affair with Al Fresco chicken sausages}.

What do you think?  Is public criticism sometimes warranted or should feedback only be given privately?

P.S. Right after I scheduled this post,  I got a reply tweet from Raleigh author Sarah Shaber saying thank you for my tweet complimenting her novel. See? I do give positive feedback 🙂

sister entrepreneurship: the makery nc

Just a few months ago, I reconnected with the Nordgren family, who used to go to the Waldorf school with me back in first grade! I hadn’t seen any of them in many years, but I ran into Carl {the dad} at a downtown Raleigh networking event. He reconnected me with Krista Anne, who was in my class way back when. Krista mentioned that she and her sisters were starting a business and, just a few months later, it is blowing up! They were just featured on Fast Company Design, which demonstrates the potential of their idea!

According to their website, “Combining the ideas of online sales, buying local, and the renewed passion for handmade goods, we created The Makery as a new way to build community-supported commerce and support our friends, neighbors, and new favorite artists.  Here’s how it will work: Each week, members will receive curated deals on a selection of limited edition art, apparel, and homewares, all lovingly handmade by one of that week’s featured local artists.When you purchase an item from The Makery, you will pay less than you would at a craft fair or on an artist’s Etsy site, and will also be exposed to new artists and pieces that have been carefully chosen as Makery Picks.To the artists, The Makery brings a large member base of potential customers, and also provides additional exposure through features on our blog and special, one-of-a-kind opportunities for VIP members.”

I am obviously incredibly biased since this is a former classmate + I love NC + I love sister entrepreneurship + I love buying local, but it’s seriously such a cool idea!

Follow them on Twitter and check out their website! To make a pledge on Kickstarter by this Saturday, click here!

P.S. My favorite part of the video: when Krista Anne says “Sarah is the writer, Brita is the artist, and I am…the funny one.” Haha!

personal positioning

I was thinking the other day about what I say when people ask me what I do. I don’t say “I do a lot. You mean for a living?” because, while it’s true, I’m not that snarky 🙂

I’m equally proud and excited about being the co-owner of The Raleigh Forum and being a Junior Recruiting Coordinator at LivingSocial,  but the title I lead with is dependent on the group or person I’m speaking to.

It’s relatively easy to gauge what the person I’m speaking to would be most interested in. An entrepreneur in Raleigh? They’re much more likely to care about The Forum. An account executive seeking a job in DC? They’ll think they’ve hit gold when I mention the words “recruiting” and “LivingSocial” in the same sentence, but “coworking” likely won’t mean much to them. A portfolio careerist? They’ll probably love chatting about how to balance multiple jobs!

So is the way I present myself to these people sneaky and self-serving? I don’t think so. Is it lying by omission? Again, I don’t think so- I’d happily supply my other title if it seemed relevant.

Think of it in terms of a marketing campaign: if Kool-Aid markets the product to kids as a fun summer drink and simultaneously markets it to young adults as a delicious mixer, are they being sneaky? Nope- they just understand their target markets.

There are a few phrases that come to my mind: target marketing, positioning, and personal branding, but I like my made-up phrase: personal positioning.

And my made-up definition (edited from positioning on Wikipedia):  the process by which individuals create the most relevant image or identity for themselves in the minds of their target market.

To take it back to recruiting (since, you know, I’m a Junior Recruiting Coordinator haha): You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) submit a generic cover letter and resume, right? Nope- you customize your work experience to showcase your job-specific skills in order to capture the recruiter’s attention! In just the same way I present my titles in order to grab the attention of the person or people I’m speaking to…

Boo-yah!

Anyone else out there with multiple titles who thinks about personal positioning? 

a night in raleighwood giveaway

If you’re not on The Raleigh Forum’s listserve (which you should be!), you may not know that we’re hosting an awesomeee party on January 26!

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The Raleigh Forum and iContact will host an Academy Awards-themed cocktail attire party on January 26. Attendees are invited to walk the red carpet, pose in front of the step-and-repeat, vote for the winner of awards categories, and bump elbows with locals during this music-infused awards party.

Beer and wine will be provided at the open bar by The Wine Feed. Appetizers are provided by Gravy, courtesy of Empire Eats. Local singer-songwriter Erik Smallwood will be playing acoustic music throughout the event.

50% of entrance fee proceeds will be donated to Change the Triangle, the Triangle’s young professional volunteer organization.

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What’s better than a ticket to this amazing event? A free ticket! Each of the following will give you one entry into a giveaway for a free ticket {which includes an open bar, appetizers, and a raffle ticket!}!

1) Leave a comment on this post with a suggestion for a Raleigh-related award category {like Best in Networking}.

2) Tweet about this giveaway (mention @cmroman and cmroman.com).

3) Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link to this post.

The winner will be chosen on January 19 through Random.org.

**If you have already purchased a ticket, you can either receive another one or have your money refunded 🙂

personal branding + reputation management

If you follow The Raleigh Forum’s blog, you’ll know that we regularly host brown bag lunches on topics that are relevant to our members.

We recently held one on personal branding and reputation management with Morgan Siem {known by her user name morgansiem! See below for more on that}, so I thought I’d share some takeaways.

Photo credit

  • Personal branding is all about striking a balance between TMI and “whitewashing” {read: being boring}; this balance is strongly tied to your industry
  • Branding is important for consistency, recognizability, and identity 
  • Oftentimes local success {especially in downtown Raleigh} is based largely on your personality, which re-emphasizes the need to blur the lines between business and personal
  • Don’t just think about how your brand affects you- also consider how it affects your clients, members, customers, etc
  • Consistency is important: use similar colors, fonts, pictures, tone, etc across social media outlets
  • Own the first page of Google. When you search my name, you get my LinkedIn, my Twitter, Quora, blog, Google+, GW Bites, etc
  • Use the same name across platforms. If it’s a common name, brand a new one. Make sure that it can carry you into the next stage of life (i.e. using your business name or company affiliation isn’t necessarily a good thing). My most common user name (cmroman) could use some work
  • Link your profiles as much as possible. One thing I’ve done is link my blog to my LinkedIn. Only blog posts tagged with “LinkedIn” go to LinkedIn though. This gives you control over the content that is shared to that audience
  • Especially locally, your name should precede your resume. Make people be able to find you and know you before meeting you
  • Creative resumes like DoYouBuzz? or Vizualize.Me are great for personal branding, especially in creative professionals. Remember though- they are a supplement to a traditional resume. If an employer asks for a resume, include both, not just your super sleek infographic! More on that in another blog post!
  • Think of three words to brand yourself and portray these qualities throughout your online and offline presence
  • If you have a bad reputation online, work against it: start a blog. Build your LinkedIn page. Fill out your Google profile. All these things push negative results lower in searches
  • Think about how you would want someone to describe you behind your back; work toward having that be the message you portray
  • Set up your Gravatar {global avatar}, which uses a universal picture for different websites
  • Set up Google Alerts for your name, your business name, and other variations
  • Buy the domain tied to your real name or online user name {cmroman.com- done!}
  • Get business cards that tie into your brand
  • Reserve your about.me page
  • Search KnowEm.com to find up and coming social media platforms and reserve your brand name on them

For more on personal branding, click here, here, and here! For Holly Bazemore’s recap of the brown bag, click here.

Thank you Morgan!

Was this helpful? Do you have any other advice?

not yet an expert

When I look around at different blogs and Twitter accounts, it seems like everyone is an expert at something.

I have a lot of interests that pull me in different directions. I love to cook but I’m not a trained chef like Jenna and I’m not dedicated enough to log my daily food intake like Kath.

I run a coworking space but I’m not as knowledgeable as Angel or the folks at Shareable.

I own a business with my sister but I don’t have as much experience in sister entrepreneurship as Katherine and Sophie or Sarah and Jenifer or Sabina and Lorraine or Kate and her sister.

I love social enterprise but I don’t stay quite as up-to-date on the field as Grant or Ryan.

I’m immersed in the recruiting field but I don’t understand the ins and outs like Amybeth or Laurie.

But you know what? That’s all okay. Because I’m 22 and I don’t need to be an expert in anything yet. But more importantly, I never need to be an expert in any one thing.

confessions of a recruiting coordinator, part ii

The eternal recruiting debates continue. For part i, click here.

“As your future _____, I will…”: Too presumptuous in my opinion.

Breastfeeding: Never appropriate. Never.

“Dear sir”: You never know who’s reading your resume. This feels very antiquated to me.

“Searching for a position with room for growth”: Who isn’t? This says to me “I’m just looking to climb the ladder and I won’t be happy in my entry position for long.”

Word vs PDF: PDFs are so easy to do! They will look the same no matter what kind of computer you view them on, so you don’t have to worry about misformatting. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Correct capitalization of your name: This shouldn’t even have to be discussed. First letter of first name, first letter of last name. Not Cristina roman or cristina Roman and definitely not CRISTINA ROMAN. Yes, it grabs my attention but not in the right way.

Here’s an interesting question that I posted on my Twitter: Do you think ability (or inability) to write a good cover letter and resume correlates with overall ability to perform the job? 

I’m torn- in some ways, I think a well-written cover letter and resume shows an understanding of proper grammar and spelling, which is critical in almost every industry and position. In addition, presenting well-written materials shows that you have taken the time to show that you care and are proactive enough to learn the proper way to structure these important documents. After all, it’s only a Google search away.

On the other hand, sometimes written skills are not essential for job performance. For example, a salesperson may be stellar at closing deals but may lack superb written skills. And, as one friend (and former prom date!) on Twitter pointed out: “resumes are tough and it is hard to determine what should be on there. Don’t think it has any relevancy.”

What do you think?!

*As always, the viewpoints expressed here represent my own thoughts and not those of my employer.

a retrospect: top + favorite posts from my blog

It’s interesting for me to look at which blog posts of mine get the most traffic vs which ones are my favorite. There is some overlap between the two.  Part of my mission with this post is to bring to light some of my poor neglected posts that I think deserve a spotlight! I put my favorites in bold and added a few others below.

Some of my top posts (in order):

Some of my other favorite posts: