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?

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!

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:

link love

100+ Google Tricks That Will Save You Time

9 Crazy Start-Up Ideas That Worked via Chris West

How one woman technologist single-handedly created thousands of jobs via Olivia Hayes

When is a start-up no longer a start-up?

9 Ways to Make Yourself Charming

Over It via Kathleen Fallon

top 10 lists: songs, recipes, & inspiration!

Here are some funny, intriguing, and creative top 10 lists to start your weekend off on a good note:

10 Words for Intriguing Concepts via Merriam Webster

10 Insights on Rethinking Work via The99Percent.com

10 Things to Add to Your Bucket List via Mainstreet.com

The 10 Hottest Jewish Women Drake Can Take Home To His Momma via Bossip.com {wish I was on that list, he’s my favorite rapper}

10 Young Entrepreneur Blogs you Should be Following

Top 10 Kugel Recipes

My 10 Favorite Songs of the Week

#passion

Awhile back, my friend turned to me pityingly and stated, “That’s cute, Cristina still thinks everyone gets to do what they want for a living.”

I’m not so naive that I believe everyone gets to have a job they love. I’ve been on enough service trips, traveled to enough developing countries, met enough struggling people, seen the economy crash enough that I know the facts. Some individuals may always be working away in a job that isn’t their dream.

But there are those of us who do have the power to choose, so why not choose passion, dedication, and a love of Mondays?

Recently, I listened to someone dread the start of the week and mourn the loss of the weekend. I chimed in- in retrospect, unintentionally obnoxiously- that I loved the weekend too. But I also love Mondays. “Basically,” I stated chipperly, “I love life.”

As I wrote this post, I wondered if it made me sound pretentious and elitist. Should I advocate finding your passion when so many out there aren’t in a position to? And I came to a conclusion: yes. And if your passion is empowering others to find theirs? Even better.

my seven future careers

Someone wise recently told me that research finds that it takes 10 years to become an expert at something. And new studies show that we can live to be about 90. And most people want to try 6-7 careers in their lifetime. Which means we can do it all.

So what would will might I do?

  • Life coach: empower individuals to be happy and fulfilled in all areas of their lives, from fitness to career. Which leads me to…
  • Career counselor: From writing resumes and cover letters to compiling a career portfolio to dressing properly for interviews, self-confidence is an essential trait. I want to empower individuals to feel as confident as I do while job searching because they know that they are equipped with the necessary tools.
  • Business development consultant: My sister and I always speak of how empowering it is to start a business. I would love to share this feeling with other individuals (particularly women). Best of all, I could contribute to the creation and growth of a company (my strength) without having to sustain it (not as much my strength)!
  • Professional blogger: Get paid to write down my random musings? Yes please!
  • Motivational speaker: Get paid to speak about my random musings? Yes please!
  • Women’s entrepreneurship professor: My two entrepreneurship classes were- at the risk of sounding trite- life-changing. A class of just women creates an inspiring, comfortable atmosphere that can be hugely beneficial in sparking creative, innovative ideas.
  • Editor-in-chief of a home magazine: Working at Martha Stewart Living or Better Homes and Gardens would be absolutely incredible. I’ve shared my philosophy on comfortable, welcoming homes and I’m obviously very interested in creating healthy, fresh recipes. Do I sound like a 50s housewife when I say “A happy home makes a happy life”? Well, I believe it 🙂

The most visible common thread here? Empowering others, especially women.

the eternal resume debates

Since I read a billion resumes every week, I spend a lot of time thinking about common debates in the Human Resources/Recruiting world.

  • Objective or no objective: I don’t have one, but I am considering adding one. I like them if they are done correctly. Don’t apply to a social commerce company and tell me you’re interested in agriculture! I like ones that use strong words like “proactive” and “passionate.” Phrases like “hard worker” and “follow instructions” mean nothing to me.
  • WPM: I think it’s odd to include this for a position other than Executive Assistant/Administrative Assistant/Office Assistant, etc
  • Salary range requested: I’m interested in knowing others’ opinions on this. Some companies mandate it, but unless they do, I generally think too forward to mention it in your cover letter.
  • Education: Where do you list it? I’ve always put it on the top of my resume, but I often see it at the bottom. I don’t have a strong opinion on this.
  • Acknowledging that you aren’t a “traditional fit”: I respect this. When someone has a resume that doesn’t directly fit the job description, I like reading their reason for applying in their cover letter as long as it doesn’t sound defensive.
  • Mention of employment gaps: I generally say wait until the potential employer brings it up. Red flags go up when I see explanations that sound like excuses or playing the victim.
  • Writing in 3rd person: Against.
  • *EDITED: “Looking for a position where I can advance quickly”: I feel like writing this in your objective is at best, unnecessary, and at worst, presumptuous. I mean, who isn’t looking to advance quickly in their career?
  • *EDITED: One-page vs longer: I forgot to include this in my original post! This is actually the issue I’m most interested in. I’ve always kept my resume to one page, but more and more, I’m seeing longer ones. What do you think? What is the maximum? I’ve seen five page ones, way too long in my opinion!

What are your opinions of debates above? I would be interested to see if there is a difference of opinion based on industry, generation, education level, etc. 

*As always, my blog posts represent solely my own views, not those of my employer.

P.S. I just created a Career Development category, so check it out for my musings on job hunting, networking, resume writing, applying to jobs, etc.

the value of social value

Before college, I had a very primitive view of social good: non-profits promoted social good; corporations did not. As a Human Services, I became intrigued by the idea of social enterprise, which I saw as a potential “solution” (I use that term loosely) to the apparent disconnect between “good” (promoting social change) and “evil” (making money).

But I am also an advocate for a strict definition of social enterprise, so where does that leave businesses like The Raleigh Forum, our new coworking space? I wouldn’t characterize us as a social enterprise, but I certainly think we contribute social value to the community.

We provide a hub for collaboration and community. We provide a much-needed alternative to working from home or coffee shops. We stimulate the local economy by bringing 20+ individuals downtown. We will recycle, use reusable water bottles, and conserve electricity when possible. We will make an in-kind contribution (desk space + meeting space) to Change the Triangle.

We’re not ending poverty or curing any diseases. And yes, we’re an LLC. But we are actively empowering individuals and groups so that they can make their own mark on the community.

Which makes me wonder how valuable labels like “social value” are if they have the potential to lead to confusion, disagreement, and disillusionment.