employment news

HR, It’s time to normalize career gaps. Here’s how.

For a long time, the standard advice for job hunting was “hide your gaps.” Whether you took time off for personal or family reasons, lost a job, or just didn’t have a specific kind of experience, the goal was to make it look like you’ve been seamlessly in the game (and on top of your game) all the way through. But reality has always been a bit different—life throws curveballs at all of us at some point, and sometimes it will inevitably impact our work life. And sometimes we prioritize other life factors over career development. It’s time that we stop pretending that the only worthwhile work experience is a relentless, unbroken line from school to retirement.

With the pandemic year, more people than ever are going to have gaps in their resumes due to layoffs, health concerns, or caring for children or family members. People are being “forced” out of the workforce at alarming rates—but at some point, they’ll need to be back in it. Stigmatizing gaps is counterproductive, and may just marginalize people more when they could be great assets to your company.

Still, silently having your recruiters ignore gaps on resumes isn’t the solution. Companies can be proactive in finding ways to find and help people who’ve taken breaks or been out of the workforce.

Focus on skills in your recruitment

Start with your job descriptions. Are they focused on having X years of experience, or “current” experience? In order to reach talent that might have the skills and background, but not the currency, you should target the job skills and requirements. Quality, not quantity, should be the priority here.

Otherwise, someone who had years of experience as, say, a marketing manager creating successful campaigns before leaving her job three years ago to take care of her kids, might not apply for a job that specifies current experience in the role. It’s not about lowering standards, but about making sure your language is inclusive of people who know they can do the job, and have the skills but be scared off by the idea that only current experience counts.

Even something as small as “or equivalent experience” can help bridge a resume gap for someone who may not have been working in the role, but has relevant non-work experience in the meantime.

In interviews, you can also expand the playing field a bit by going beyond the resume and giving the interviewee an open-ended opportunity to provide specific and relevant examples of skills or past experience, even if their work experience isn’t super-current.

Make your application experience more inclusive

Drop-down menus on a website may seem like a minor thing, but if you’ve ever had to select from a range of options that don’t really apply to you it can be off-putting or even alienating. If you recruit online and direct users to choose from a set of specific job titles, consider making those menus more inclusive of people who have been doing alternative work—for example, parents.

Recently, LinkedIn added “stay at home parent” and other caretaker options to their list of profile jobs. Just seeing this kind of option in an official capacity can help normalize unpaid work for people who’ve been outside the traditional workforce. In turn, applicants can feel more validated (instead of ashamed) when they’re trying to get back into a different work mode. It shows that your company is open to considering people who have gaps or less traditional work roles.

Consider adding “returnship” programs to your hiring repertoire

People who have gaps in their resumes may feel insecure about returning to a standard office environment after time away. Having a “returnship” or “return-to-work” program—which offers mentorship, skill-building and training opportunities, and support—can help older workers re-entering the workforce, parents who’ve taken time off for family care, or people who’ve faced long periods of unemployment. It’s kind of a middle ground between an internship (which is typically unpaid and geared toward entry-level employees) and jumping back into a full-time job after time away.

The key to returnship programs is making sure you’re clear about offering them. Job seekers may confuse them with internships, and feel like they’re too old or too experienced to apply. By making this kind of program a clear part of your recruitment (and promoting them in your standard recruitment channels), your company may find talent pools that were just not part of your passive recruitment before.

Resume gaps are often a fact of life. The more companies prioritize applicant quality over experience quantity and continuity, the greater the upside. And tools to help ease the transition for people who’ve been “outside the lines,” so to speak, will help ensure that you’re creating a productive work relationship for all involved.

The post HR, It’s time to normalize career gaps. Here’s how. appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

Are employers prioritizing diversity? What job seekers should demand from their employers

For years, many companies have been saying that they need to increase diversity in their hiring. However, the call for accountability on this is stronger than ever before. Over the past year, tragic events like the killing of George Floyd have brought a society-wide reckoning on why there are such glaring gaps in opportunities. The call to do better in fighting systemic racism and economic inequality has shifted diversity and inclusivity from a “we need to talk about this” goal to a “we need to do this” goal for many organizations. So what can job seekers do to help companies be more accountable on these measures?

According to a recent survey by Survey Monkey and Living Corporate, 79% of job seekers rate hiring and workplace diversity as an important factor in choosing their next employer. Yet only 34% of the people surveyed said they had been interviewed by a diverse set of interviewers. It can be difficult to tell which companies are talking a good game about their inclusion, and which ones are actively working to improve.

Do your research ahead of time

Before you apply, it’s time to do a little digging on the specific company. This is a good job search practice anyway, but make sure you’re looking for more than just a vague mission statement.

What to look for when researching a potential new employer:

  • Is diversity mentioned as a core value on their website? Are there mission statements openly committing to a diverse, inclusive experience for employees, clients, customers, etc.?
  • Is the leadership team diverse in race/ethnicity and gender?
  • On sites like Glassdoor, are people mentioning diversity—and what are they saying? Are employees of color leaving negative reviews?
  • Are they certified by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which emphasizes anti-bias training practices?
  • Do you know anyone (or have anyone in your LinkedIn network) who works there, and can speak to what diversity is really like in the day-to-day workings of the company?
  • Is their social media inclusive?

These are all things you can suss out with some basic online research. If this kind of information isn’t readily available online, you can also reach out to the company’s recruiters or HR to get more information. You have nothing to lose by doing some preliminary exploring—and even the most basic research could turn up some red flags that help you avoid a company that doesn’t support diverse employees.

Don’t wait until you have a job offer to ask questions

Part of the growth that’s happening has to be asking tough questions—and expecting honest, constructive answers. Many companies have a plan to look for more diverse candidates, or work with current employees to become more inclusive and culturally sensitive. It’s fair to ask about these things—part of your job search is finding a company whose culture and values align with your own values.

If you’re a candidate coming in for an interview, you will inevitably be asked if you have any questions about the job or the company. This is a perfect time to ask about what the company is doing to ensure a more inclusive work experience for employees of all kinds.

Possible questions to consider asking:

  • Can you share some statistics on your company’s diversity?
  • What are the core values of this company?
  • What do diversity and inclusion mean to this company?
  • What kinds of diversity programs are already in place?
  • How does this company increase diversity in recruiting?
  • What does your organization do to make sure that everyone feels included?
  • Does the company offer diversity, inclusion, or cultural sensitivity training to employees at all levels?
  • How does the company manage accountability for ongoing diversity and inclusion, beyond training?

These are all questions that a hiring manager or HR person should be able to answer in a straightforward way. If the answer is always “we’ll get back to you on that,” or “that’s in our plan for the future,” that could be a sign that the company isn’t moving along in its diversity and inclusion efforts.

As a job seeker, you need to decide for yourself what level of diversity accountability you expect from a potential employer. Ultimately, you’re joining a company’s culture, for better or worse—and if they aren’t willing to put in the work to find and maintain an inclusive workforce, then they might not be the right fit for you. Asking direct questions helps move the conversation forward into reality. If companies know that the talent out there is expecting certain levels of accountability, they’re more likely to take proactive steps against bias, systemic racism, and other forms of discrimination.     

The post Are employers prioritizing diversity? What job seekers should demand from their employers appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

How to ensure your next job is LGBTQ+ friendly

Now more than ever, companies are looking to be more inclusive of different genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Part of this is due to broader calls in society to be more diverse, and part of it is simply the market talking: more than two-thirds of job seekers have identified workplace diversity as a key component of their job search. When you factor in the 4.5% of the U.S. population that identifies as LGBTQ+, this makes it a significant priority for many.

If you’re one of these majority job seekers who seek inclusivity as part of your next career move, you don’t have to go into it blind, only to find out later in the process whether or not your new prospective company is walking the walk. There are ways to do your due diligence upfront, and make sure you’re seeking out the right company for you.

Check their website and social media

A company’s website is a major part of its company branding, so it should be your first stop in any job application process. Is there a range of people represented on the site? Is there a mission or values statement that specifically commits to diversity, and/or mentions support for LGBTQ+ employees and communities? Does their official social media seem supportive?

It’s a great sign if a company website has a dedicated section to talk about diversity and provides specifics about programs and statistics to back their efforts.

Look into how they supported Pride

Does the company financially support local Pride events? That can show a financial commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, going beyond mere PR mentions, hashtags, or lines on the website.

As important as Pride Month is for showing support, it’s also crucial to look beyond. Lots of companies and corporate brands show tons of support in June—but are they also doing it other times of the year as well? Pride-based support is a more positive indicator than no vocal support, but if there’s no peep about LGBTQ+ inclusivity at other times, it might tell you that it’s not necessarily a year-round priority for the company.

Do some networking

Sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn can help you get a little more insight into the people that work for the company. On review sites like Glassdoor, what kind of feedback are self-identified LGBTQ+ employees leaving? As with any reviews, though, you should take extra-glowing ones or extra negative ones with a grain of salt. It’s better to look at trends overall rather than one or two particular reviews—after all, you never know if someone has an ulterior motive.

Through LinkedIn, you can try to connect with people who currently or recently work at the company you’re considering. A brief email can help you get the lowdown on what the company’s culture is like, whether people from minority communities are happy working there, etc. Plus, you never know when having a connection at the company will help at other points in the job process, so your curiosity and connection now could help you later.


If you’re working with a recruiter or an HR rep, do they offer their pronouns? Do they ask for yours? During any interviews (informational or formal), you should feel free to ask specifically about how the company supports its LGBTQ+ employees. You’re not ever obligated to disclose your own personal gender or sexual orientation as part of an interview, but you can still ask more general questions that help you get more information. Questions like these can help you get a comprehensive picture of how the company approaches diversity and inclusion:

  • What are the core values for this company?
  • Do you have any employee resource groups for LGBTQ+ employees?
  • How does this company promote inclusivity among its employees?
  • Does this company provide any diversity or unconscious bias training for managers and employees?

The training question is especially helpful for gauging a company’s real, on-the-ground support for a more inclusive workforce. If they have programs in place for educating the organization on diversity, it shows a commitment to addressing this moving forward—not just putting a bandage to solve short-term diversity goals. LGBTQ+ inclusion has become a priority for companies and job hunters alike, and it’s one that can be helped along even further by applicants who look (and ask) for better accountability. If the best talent is committing to organizations that vocally and aggressively support genuine inclusivity, even the stragglers will start to come along as well. Everyone deserves to work somewhere that supports people of diverse backgrounds, and by doing some of this research upfront, you can help make sure that your next opportunity is a good fit.

The post How to ensure your next job is LGBTQ+ friendly appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

Follow these rules to write a better cover letter

If you ask several people about whether you need to write a cover letter these days, you’re likely to get a variety of responses, ranging from “don’t bother, they’re too old fashioned” to “of course you should still write one.” So what’s the right answer, in this world of automated online applications and AI bots reading your resume before a human does?

The honest answer is that…there is no right answer. A cover letter might not always be needed. However, a cover letter can absolutely help you, and you have nothing to lose by writing one to go with any application package. The trick is to write an effective cover letter: one that isn’t too long, and one that catches the attention of a hiring manager who may be spending mere seconds skimming an application package.

Think about the reader

Think short, think sweet. People are busy and may have a very short time to review your cover letter and resume. Gone are the days when someone would open your snail-mailed resume, and read the letter printed on thick stock in your nicest font, with the most formal of greetings. Let’s face it: you’ve probably submitted your application online, and anyone reading your cover letter is using a computer screen or smaller. That means you should write something that is relatively short and is broken up into readable blocks of text to minimize strain.

Assume that the person will be reading it essentially as they would read an email, so prioritize the layout and length accordingly. Avoid strange text formatting, and don’t include long paragraphs if you can help it.

Create a solid hook

Your cover letter is the opportunity to set the tone for your resume, and frame it—especially if you’re trying to explain any gaps or other issues that wouldn’t be clear in the standalone resume. This is a chance to do your elevator pitch, so to speak. You want to highlight your best qualification for the job, and why you are uniquely suited to get the offer.

If you have a personal connection to the job, or a brief anecdote, open with that. Just make sure you don’t go into too much detail, or write a novel about your experience. Your resume should convey any supporting information, but the cover letter can help frame that information positively.

Don’t just rehash your resume

Your resume, which you’re also spending lots of time writing and refining, should be able to stand on its own. If you spend your cover letter reviewing what the person is going to read in your resume, it’s kind of a waste of your time and theirs. Take the time and space to highlight the skills and achievements that are most important to you (and potentially the job). This is not the place for bullet points about responsibilities.

Think of it as a best-of highlights reel, and choose accordingly. The person reading the letter should know about your biggest wins and best stats, not everything you’ve ever done.

Use powerful, non-cliched language

Cover letters have become so formal and templated over the years, and that may be partly why they’ve started to feel unnecessary. “To whom it may concern, I am honored to apply for this job at X Corp…” Instead, use the cover letter to show off your communication skills, including strong word choices. Use active verbs whenever possible to show your achievements, instead of passive phrases like “I believe I am _____” and clichés like “I am a hard worker.”

Employers see those all the time—and again, the goal here is to avoid having the reader glazing over because they’ve seen the same thing over and over. You want yours to be clear and compelling. Make brief points that show the readers, rather than tell them.

The cover letter is also a chance to work in some keywords from the job description. This shows attention to detail, and may also help with any automated ingest system that the company is using to do a preliminary evaluation of your application package. There’s no need to overuse phrases from the job description—again, the real estate is limited, and if you’re using it to summarize a job description that the reader already knows that’s a waste of time. However, you can choose keywords to tie your experience to the job you’re seeking.

You should always check a job description to see if it calls for a cover letter; but even if it doesn’t explicitly ask for one, you should still consider writing one. Even a short, straight-to-the-point cover letter can help you give essential context and narrative for your resume, and the fact that you went out of your way to write one can be a point in your favor. The care you put into crafting a smart, targeted cover letter just might make the difference between you and other applicants.

The post Follow these rules to write a better cover letter appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

These 5 policies will help keep women in the workforce

Throughout 2020 and into 2021, employment statistics and trends were pretty uniformly grim. Mass unemployment due to the Covid pandemic impacted workers across the spectrum—and often hit already vulnerable groups hard, like women, employees of color, and people who have disabilities. As the stats became clearer (and ever more alarming), one major trend line became apparent: women were leaving the workforce in droves, either through layoffs or quitting their jobs due to stress or conflicting obligations.

In September 2020 alone, 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce—more than four times the number of men. Research by organizations like Deloitte Global and McKinsey found that this was due to a combination of factors: involuntary unemployment, stressful work environments, and voluntarily leaving jobs to manage family or health obligations.

As employment begins to rebound and companies look to shore up their workforce, the priority should be helping to stem this exodus of women, so to speak. A generation of female leadership and growth in the workplace is jeopardized by a perceived lack of support and the real conflicts that many women face between home and work. Organizations looking to build back this crucial part of the workforce can take action to keep women (or bring them back) from leaving the game altogether.

1. Allow flexible work arrangements

Women are often primary caregivers for children or relatives and end up having to balance the demands of a full-time job with another full-time job at home. Flexible work arrangements (which have become so essential for workers across the board during the pandemic) can go a long way toward helping working moms manage multiple obligations and workloads without feeling overwhelmed.

Before the pandemic, many companies were hesitant to offer workers flexible work accommodations, preferring to have a more traditional in-person model. Infrastructure and the limitations of collaborating remotely were often cited as points of resistance. However, things changed virtually overnight, and companies that never had a robust work-from-home program had to develop one right away. It was a learning experience for management groups in all industries, but it did give companies a structure for doing that moving forward. Once you acknowledge that work can be done remotely, it can be frustrating for employees when that’s walked back. Consider the past year an opportunity to do a deep evaluation of what absolutely can’t be done remotely, and what can.

It’s also important to allow flexible hours, and set expectations that employees have lives and obligations outside of the job, even if they’re working from home. Many WFH employees report feeling stressed and pressured to work beyond normal business hours. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance and setting expectations around hours (whatever they may be) can signal to employees that they have some leeway in the workday.

Setting clear goals as productivity-oriented, rather than clock-oriented, can help give employees the flexibility they need to be productive.

2. Implement stronger family care policies

Going back to the caretaking issue, becoming parent-friendly is a must for any company hoping to retain talent. The pandemic exposed a lot of alarming gaps and challenges for working parents, from finding childcare to allow for at-home productivity to helping kids manage their school while the parents try to get work done in the other room. And for employees who don’t have the option to work remotely at all, childcare has always been a struggle for many working parents.

If possible, partnering with childcare services can help moms who need to balance the needs of their kids with the demands of work. Offering discounts, subsidies, or incentives as benefits can help, as can employee and stress-relief support groups for parents. Being family-friendly goes beyond having daycare options.

Improving parental leave all-around can help boost retention. Many women cite having to choose between having children and their career progress as reasons for leaving work. Extended paid maternity leave can help make your organization a competitive option, as well as paid paternity leave. Robust paternity leave policies can help alleviate the burden on moms and make the return to work easier after the birth or adoption of a child.

3. Prioritize diversity and inclusion in hiring and promotion

Many companies are prioritizing diversity and inclusion as part of their hiring and employee retention. That’s excellent—but it’s not always the easiest thing to implement or convey. One of the best things your organization can do to help build a more supportive structure is to create a team devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI)—including officers, clear initiatives, and high visibility. Gender diversity is a major component of any inclusivity progress.

A DEI team can identify potential danger zones for retaining women employees and implement ways to help make the organization more welcoming of working women’s concerns and priorities.

4. Offer returnships

One of the biggest obstacles for women looking to get back into the workforce is often the gap caused when they take time off to care for their families or deal with personal issues. Returnships are becoming more and more common for mid-career professionals who had to leave for one reason or another, but who may struggle with feeling left behind or lacking in current experience. These part-time or flexible roles can help ease women back into their career path, even if there has been a disruption.

5. Re-evaluate pay and benefits

Gender pay disparity is often cited as a source of discouragement for women in the workplace. Parity is still a long way away—30 years, by one U.S. Census estimate. With women earning, on average, 82 cents on the dollar compared to male employees, pay discrepancies can discourage women from remaining in the workplace. If women earn less than their partners, that often drives them to be the one who drops out of the workforce and stays home for the family. Ensuring that your organization pays women on par with men in similar roles not only helps push toward overall parity but also conveys that you’re committed to supporting women.  

Women are leaving the workforce in shocking numbers, but with thoughtful policies and support, your organization can be part of reversing that trend.

The post These 5 policies will help keep women in the workforce appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

Ableism in the workplace: how employers can combat discrimination

In the more than three decades since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed, signs of progress are there. In many public spaces, at least, consideration is given to how they can be made available to people with varying levels of physical ability. But even with nominal strides in accessibility and inclusion for those who are differently-abled, there are still major gaps and areas for significant improvement.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment has always been high for disabled Americans and has risen since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. This means there’s much work for individual organizations to do, in order to help ensure that talented, qualified workers aren’t being frustrated and forced out of the workplace for lack of accommodation.

If your organization is looking to be more proactive in combating discrimination against disabled employees, there are steps you can take to become more disability-friendly.

Ableism is an insidious form discrimination

When we think of discrimination in the workplace, we often think first of racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination, and then target diversity and inclusion initiatives to those major areas. However, people who have disabilities have also faced decades of systemic bias and discrimination. And as with other kinds of bias, ableism (prejudice against people living with mental or physical disabilities) can be both conscious or unconscious.

In fact, the prejudice can be as blatant as not offering any kind of accessible facilities, but it can also be a total lack of thought when it comes to disabled employees. Ignoring the realities of disability, minimizing them, is an unconscious way of saying, “You can be like everyone else if we just ignore the differences.” This can stigmatize employees living with disabilities and prevent them from participating fully in the workplace.

Be open to feedback and insight from employees

As with any other kind of inclusivity progress, the first step is talking to one of your greatest resources—your team. Feedback on how things are working for employees is crucial. You don’t need to put employees who identify as disabled on the spot but can instead reach out to all employees in your organization. Anonymous surveys can help you get more honest feedback from people, but they can also capture the opinions of people who might not have visible disabilities or people who might be hesitant to come forward otherwise.

Be mindful of the language you use

One of the most subtle aspects of ableism is the language we use, often without thinking twice. Words like “blind,” “deaf,” “lame,” “crazy,” or “deaf” might seem mild in conversation. For someone living with a disability, they can be alienating—especially given that most of these words are used negatively. Being more mindful of the language used in all workplace settings is a baseline change to make. Understanding that these words carry power for disabled people is an important first step to mindfulness. The next step is noticing when these words are used negatively to describe someone or something that is not affected by that disability. And if they are used, consider more appropriate words to use instead.

Don’t make assumptions for force disabled employees into “otherness”

People with disabilities may need different accommodations, but that doesn’t mean they want special treatment, or to be singled out for their disability. It’s important to acknowledge people with disabilities, so as not to minimize their existence or their needs, but at the same time, don’t assume that everyone living with a disability wants to be called out as “brave” or treated with kid gloves for simply living their lives.

It’s also important not to assume you know or understand anyone’s disability just from looking at them or based on what you’ve heard from others. Some disabilities are less visible than others. It’s impossible to know what someone’s going through on the outside, even if (as HR) you may feel like you have more insight than others into a person’s work life.

Review accessibility in all aspects of the business

Many organizations do the bare minimum of what’s required by the ADA: wheelchair-accessible restrooms or braille versions of signs, etc. That doesn’t mean that you have comprehensive accessibility for people with disabilities. It’s time to think about how every aspect of your workplace comes across to people with a variety of needs. Are common areas, conference rooms, and desks user-friendly to someone with mobility issues? Are written signs truly accessible to a deaf person whose first language might be American Sign Language? Are there accessibility features for blind or deaf users built into tech tools, like meeting software and communication apps?

Be flexible on individual accommodations

Flexible work arrangements have taken on new importance ever since Covid made most companies rethink, basically overnight, about what work looks like outside of the office. Having remote work options can be helpful to those with disabilities, but it’s important to remain flexible, even as many offices mandate returns to the office and a more traditional workday. Consider making flexible work hours and at-home accommodations more readily available to those who request them.

Focus on welcoming and hiring employees with disabilities

Going back to the alarmingly high unemployment rates among people with disabilities, many people feel excluded from the traditional hiring process. Many companies aren’t willing to offer accommodations, or they’re not clear on what they can do to support workers with disabilities. And in many cases, it’s purely ableism rearing its head—the idea that employees without disabilities are the prized default, and other applicants are second tier.

Your commitment to supporting the disabled community can and should be clear in your employer brand, and in your public-facing recruiting and job postings. You can also start looking for alternative recruitment sources, such as disability-focused job posting sites. There are also organizations like the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), which offer resources to employers looking to hire disabled employees and support inclusivity.

Educate your team on accessibility and inclusivity

Any diversity or inclusivity program is only as good as its ongoing training. HR-led initiatives can get things rolling, but what creates lasting change is making sure everyone is aware, mindful, and supportive of differences. The goal here is normalizing conversations around disability, and making it clear that accommodations aren’t special treatment, but rather a necessary equalizer to make sure everyone has a safe, productive work environment.

Everyone in your company—regardless of disability status, culture, religion, race, or gender—should feel included and valued. By embracing disability concerns as a priority, you show that employees with disabilities are full members of the team. Acknowledging ableism is an important first step, but true inclusivity goes far beyond recognizing differences. The support you build now will help ensure that employees with and without disabilities can thrive and have productive careers with your organization.

The post Ableism in the workplace: how employers can combat discrimination appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

How to support employees who have chronic illness

As the world works to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, the workplace has become focused on wellness and accommodation in ways that were too often absent before. Dealing with employees’ potential acute or ongoing illness has been part of the post-pandemic planning for quite some time now—but with the discussion of healthcare and personal medical struggles more open than ever, companies need to find ways to support employees with longer-term medical issues as well.

According to the CDC, 60% of American adults are living with some form of chronic disease (like diabetes, heart disease, chronic musculoskeletal pain, or cancer)—and 40% of American adults have more than one chronic health issue. This is a crisis in healthcare, but it’s also a workforce crisis as well. These adults are us, our families, our colleagues.

Chronic pain and illness are also a significant cost for employers, costing up to $216 billion annually in lost time and productivity. Finding ways to support employees with chronic pain or illness is not only the empathetic choice but also the productive path forward for employers and employees alike.

Be open to listening to employees with chronic illness

Too often, chronic pain or illness is a silent problem in the workplace, because people feel like they’re admitting weakness, or that they’ll lose their position if they don’t “tough it out” and act like nothing’s wrong. They often worry that they’ll be seen as slackers, or incompetent, if they can’t match others’ energy and output. To start being a more proactive support system for your workers with chronic illness, start by de-stigmatizing it at the organizational level.

You can help ease this without putting people on the spot—and remember, not all chronic illnesses are apparent to casual observation. General surveys (especially with anonymized feedback) can help you learn more about what struggles your own team might be facing, and what might help them be more productive.

Challenge your assumptions of what’s “normal”

One of the most important things to emphasize when talking to your employees about chronic illness is that you understand that “normal” is relative. For an employee living with chronic health issues, a “norm” of having back-to-back-to-back meetings all day or being on-call after hours can be detrimental to their health. It’s important to acknowledge that limits may exist, and work on setting productivity and performance goals accordingly.

Being accommodating of chronic illness doesn’t mean eliminating standards, but rather revisiting them. Are you prioritizing and praising employees who create and maintain a culture of all-nighters, or work 70-hour weeks? Are alternative ways to meet performance goals embraced? Are you celebrating achievements and contributions that aren’t necessarily tied to grueling hours and exhausting effort? Making sure all contributions are valued can help you create a culture that’s more supportive of people who have medical limitations.

Consider how you can be more flexible

Flexible work arrangements have become vastly more common since the onset of the pandemic—and as more companies look to reshape what “work” looks like moving forward, flexibility is a tool that can be used to make the workplace more hospitable to those with chronic conditions. Offering more work-from-home options can help employees, allowing them to be productive without the stresses of a commute or being physically present in the office. Flextime can also help employees be more productive when they’re able, rather than miss time because they’re in pain or ill.

And at work, what is your physical space like? Are the chairs, desks, and equipment designed ergonomically to prevent stress and support the bodies who use them? Do things need to be lifted from the floor for ease of use, or reached on shelves? Are there quiet areas where employees who need a fatigue-induced break can rest? Physical labor that might seem incidental or minor to some might be excruciating for others, so a little mindfulness goes a long way.

When it comes to supporting employees with chronic health issues, the benefits can be felt throughout your organization. Empathy, adaptability, and visibility are crucial. Many of the hidden costs of chronic pain and illness—to everyone involved—are often preventable, with careful planning and proactive support.

The post How to support employees who have chronic illness appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

Want to become a UX designer? Here’s what you need to know

We’ve all seen websites and apps where the design is so clunky, you regret having wasted your time. That pain is real. So, if you’ve ever thought, “I could do a better job than that,” then you might be interested in a career as a UX (user experience) designer.

What is UX and what does a UX designer do?

When someone interacts with a site or app, that’s the user experience (or UX). It’s like when you go into a store and walk around: are things laid out well? Can you find what you’re looking for? Are there signs to get you where you want to go? Are you stuck waiting around just to check out? Just like in a brick-and-mortar store, most sites want you to get what you need, and go happily on your way, satisfied with the experience. If you’re spending your time on a site clicking around, frustrated, or digging for some contact info so you can get some help, that’s not ideal for anyone.

That’s where the UX designer comes in. The designer makes sure the product is straightforward to use, and that it’s a seamless experience for the consumer. A UX designer is different from a web designer (who’s responsible for the bones of the website) and a graphic designer (who makes sure it looks good). The UX designer is tasked with optimizing how the site functions, and the flow of the user experience. The UX designer is also a crucial member of the marketing team—because nothing translates into bad press faster than a cranky user with a social media account.

No UX designer does their job in a vacuum, and they often work extensively with other teams, clients, and customers. The designer’s day-to-day work may include:

  • Analyzing marketing data about customers.
  • Conducting surveys, focus groups, or other research to see how people use the site/app, and what they think.
  • Acting as customers to test the UX in real time.
  • Creating information architecture (maps or other organizational graphics) that shows how the site is laid out, and how the user moves through it.
  • Working with other design teams to make the website a cohesive, functional, and visually appealing experience.

UX designers are the unseen hands smoothing the user’s way from one end of the interaction to the other.

What does UX design pay and what’s the career outlook?

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers is $77,200. (Though of course, this can vary by level of experience and geographic location.) Unsurprisingly, this is a field that is expected to grow significantly in our digital-centric world. The BLS projects that demand for UX designers will grow by at least 8% (much faster than average) by 2029.

What do I need to become a UX designer?

While there are very few undergrad degree programs devoted to UX design, there are many online boot camps, training programs, and certification programs that can teach you the skills necessary to become a UX designer. A college degree in software development or graphic design can provide a good basis, but the most essential skills are computer skills, data analysis, project management, and UX-design-specific training. Communication skills are also a major asset, given how much time UX designers spend collaborating with others.

If you’re looking for a digital-focused career with good growth potential, and you appreciate the zen of a quality user experience, then UX design just might be the new career path for you.

The post Want to become a UX designer? Here’s what you need to know appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

How to maintain a smooth transition after an employee leaves

Your workday is moving along as usual, when suddenly you see the email from one of your reports in your inbox. “Can we talk?” or “I have some news.” Commence the sinking feeling, which gets even worse when your highly valued team member announces she’s leaving for another job or taking an extended leave. Now you’ve not only got to figure out how to get along without this key colleague, but also figure out the plan forward for the rest of your team. Breathe. You’ve got this.

Don’t keep it a secret

Unless specifically asked to keep it on the DL until a certain time, you should start letting your remaining team know as possible. Even if the impending departure isn’t common knowledge throughout the company, it’s important to make sure that key stakeholders know what’s going on. After all, if they’re going to be responsible for shouldering some extra workload for a time, or having responsibilities changed, people need to have as much notice as possible. That way, you minimize any resentment from people feeling out of the loop, or feeling that they’ve been blindsided by a big change to their work life.

Be prepared to answer questions. You needn’t go too deep into the employee’s personal reasons for leaving (if you even know them yourself), but be ready to talk about what happens next, what it means for the team, and what you expect the immediate future to look like.

Have transition sessions with your team and the employee who’s leaving

If you pretend it’s business as usual until the employee’s last day and farewell lunch, you will likely be regretting the information you didn’t get while you had the chance. As soon as you’re given notice, get some time on the calendar—both one-on-one meetings with the person leaving, and some group sessions with the person and any other employees who will be directly affected by their leaving.

In your one-on-one sessions, make sure you’re absolutely clear on what the person has in progress, what their day-to-day tasks are, and any gaps they see arising after they leave. Once you have a grasp on that checklist, you can start working with the larger group to make sure things are covered, and that work is being assigned fairly. Having a clear plan for the next few weeks (or however long until the person leaves), and then some time beyond that, will help make the transition easier on those who will be staying.

If the person is going to be replaced, make sure that’s clear to your team. If a replacement won’t be coming any time soon, and these workload changes are a longer-term reality for your team, make sure they understand that too. Be clear you that want everyone to feel comfortable and supported with the changes.

Schedule check-ins with the rest of the team as well

When someone leaves (no matter what the reason), people tend to get uneasy about their own role in a group. Check-in with every team member, and give them an individual chance to talk about how they’re doing, and any concerns they may have. Making sure that everyone feels supported in a transition is essential to keeping up morale and helping to prevent a disgruntled exodus.

This is also a chance to consider if other changes would benefit your team. If there are no clear promotion opportunities, think about what can be shifted around. Maybe the departing person’s responsibilities would be better realigned with other members of the group, giving them development opportunities that might not have come up otherwise. Present this as a chance to pause, make thoughtful changes, and be a stronger team moving forward.

Sudden change can be a headache for any manager and the employees left behind, but really, this is an opportunity. The employee who’s leaving is on to new challenges, and you and your team can work together on a path forward that gives them room to grow as well. By making it a group effort (with input from all) instead of “ugh, more work,” even upheaval can be workable.

The post How to maintain a smooth transition after an employee leaves appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

employment news

First job fears: how to know you’re making the right wage

It’s finally happening! You’ve finished school, you’re looking for your first big career opportunity, and you have a job offer (or you hope to have one soon). Big things are in the works! But as you get ready to take that first job step on your career path, it’s important to make sure you’re earning the right salary.

Know your (job’s) worth

You’re awesome—that’s a given. But in order to put a dollar amount on that awesomeness, it’s time to find out what you can reasonably expect to be paid for the work you’ll do. The starting point for this is always research. The more info you have going into this process, the more realistic and solid your expectations will be.

If you already have a specific position in mind (or a field and a general level, like entry-level), start by going online. When you’re looking, don’t just look at one or two sources and call it a day. To get the clearest picture, you’ll need info from as many sources as you can find. Many sites collect job and salary data to help job seekers like you figure out what you can expect, salary-wise.

Payscale and are focused on gathering real data from people currently or formerly in positions. You can find ranges, sample salaries from particular companies or positions, variations for location and experience level, and (anonymous) feedback from employees that can give you a sense of what the real-time market is.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics can help you find wage information by occupation and state, plus information about projected job growth in a particular field.

Ask around

Chances are, you’re starting to build a professional network. LinkedIn connections, for example, can be a great source if info for you if you’re looking at a particular company or industry. Doing research on your own online is a good first step, but you should always get advice from people too about what you can expect.

If you’re a recent grad, your school might have a career office or other resources for people looking for jobs. They might be able to put you in touch with people in the field, people who can help you start building that network of valuable insight and information. If you’ve had internships, volunteer work, or part-time jobs in the field you’re about to enter full-time, don’t be shy about going back to your contacts there to get advice. A cup of coffee or a “how are you?” Zoom can be just as useful as the info you find online.

Be realistic

If this is your first job, you might need to modify your expectations a bit. Some industries have generous starting salaries, bonuses, etc. Others might be more modest. That’s why having the general industry data at your fingertips is helpful in creating realistic expectations. If you’re expecting champagne but the reality is more like seltzer, that can set your career off on a disappointing note—and that’s not the best way to start. If you understand the reality of your industry and your experience level, you’re prepared to get started with the best salary you can.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

When you’re taking your first job, you may be eager to just grab the opportunity, and not rock the boat by angling for more money. And for an entry-level job, you might not have much room to negotiate—many companies have a set number. But there might be a range, and if you come prepared with data about what people are making in similar positions in your area, you might be able to get to the top of that range.

Also, be sure to take any benefits into account. After all, your compensation isn’t just your base salary. It’s also vacation time, flex time, insurance, potential bonuses, and the like. If those are part of your entry-level salary package, take them into account. If the number seems lower than other places, but you get solid perks, you should consider that as part of your salary as well.

If you know what your position and experience are worth, and you do everything you can to advocate for yourself during these early stages, you can start your career knowing you’ve done your due diligence, and you’re ready to get started.

The post First job fears: how to know you’re making the right wage appeared first on TheJobNetwork.