Are you an ideal employee?

It’s a fair question, whether you’re looking for a job or you’re settled in with a job.

This articles describes 15 traits of the ideal employee. It’s a great list for prospective employers as they evaluate job candidates, but it’s also a great checklist for those of us looking for a job. What can we do to add more value to our company? Here are the first two items on the list:

1. Action-oriented – Hire employees who take action and take chances. While chances may lead to failure, they will more often lead to success and mold confidence while generating new ideas. Stagnant employees won’t make your company money; action-oriented employees will.

2. Intelligent – Intelligence is not the only thing, but it’s a strong foundation for success. While there are many variables you can be flexible on when hiring, intelligence is a must or you’re going to be spending an abundance of time proofing work, micromanaging and dealing with heightened stress levels.

The term “problem solver” isn’t on this list, though many of the attributes point to this quality. It’s important to be able to identify problems, but the best employees will help you solve them and also take the initiative where appropriate.

As you look for a new job and prepare for interviews, keep this list in mind.

Protecting your professional reputation

Are you someone who is respected in business? Do you meet deadlines? Do you avoid making excuses when things go wrong?

Your professional reputation is critical, and it goes far beyond your core competency for your job. It’s often about the little things, like being prepared for meeting and being responsive.

This article provides a very handy list of the little things you should pay attention to.

Facebook and job interviews

Most people are aware now that the stuff you post on Facebook and other social media outlets will likely be researched by prospective employers. This interview with Dr. Lawrence Burgee, Department Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Information Systems, Brown School of Business and Leadership, Stevenson University, illustrates the point. He tells a story of one interview where an applicant was asked if a person could be their friend for an hour to look over their Facebook page while others were interviewing him.

Words of wisdom from Steve Jobs

Apple announced the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs on October 5, 2011. He was 56. Jobs was the founder and former CEO of Apple that transformed personal computer technology and invented devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. He is shown announcing the Macintosh computer in 1984 in San Francisco, California. UPI/Terry Schmitt/files

Steve Jobs passed away today. He was one of the most important and influential people of our time and he will be greatly missed.

I would recommend that everyone, particularly young people, read this speech from Steve Jobs given at Stanford in 2005. It’s the best career advice I’ve ever heard.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Read the whole thing.

Multiple job offers out there for executives

The job market is still very tough for most people, but many candidates for executive positions are receiving multiple job offers.

For the lucky ones, however, it’s 2007 all over again. “It’s incredibly competitive out there for talent, incredibly competitive,” says Kim Shanahan, a Korn Ferry partner in Reston, Va. Her searches for human resources executives have been “over the top — insane” because demand is so strong and candidates are becoming more selective. Adds Jeff Hodge, the San Francisco-based vice chairman of Diversified Search, a Philadelphia firm: “It is almost as if there’s been a floodgate opened, a material change since December.”

Korn Ferry (KFY) recruiters estimate that currently about 5% to 10% of executive candidates are ending up with multiple job offers within three or four months of starting their search. That might not seem like much, but competition is fierce for that group, and big signing bonuses are becoming common. In certain areas, including R&D, human resources, product development, and Java J2E software expertise, the talent wars are well underway, while elsewhere the job world is a frozen wasteland.

So who’s landing multiple offers? Those who show demonstrated results — and can prove they know how to grow businesses. Brian Sullivan, chief executive of CT Partners, uses the example of a CEO his firm placed at a Silicon Valley turnaround. In nine months he got the company on track, then sold it. “He now has three different offers from three private equity firms to go into one of their portfolio firms,” said Sullivan.

If you’re in this potential group the job market should be picking up.

The emergence of leadership coaching for executives

Executive coaching is the hot new trend as companies try to maximize the performance of their management teams. Check out this article on coaching from Fortune and consider whether coaching is right for you or for someone on your team.

Once seen as a last-chance effort to turn around flagging careers, coaches for top talent are going mainstream. They’re being brought in for newly hired senior executives, as well as for newly promoted department heads who suddenly must manage many more people. “Leadership coaching is the hottest thing these days,” says Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O’Clock Club, which has turned some of its outplacement and career coaches into executive coaches because demand has been so strong.

According to a July 2011 American Management Association survey, almost half of participating companies use coaching to prepare individuals for a promotion or new role. While half of companies provide coaches to midlevel or senior staff only, 38% make them available to anyone. Coaching’s three most common uses, according to the AMA survey: leadership development, remedial performance improvement, and optimizing strong contributors. “A coach is like a personal trainer for business,” says Erika Andersen, author of Being Strategic and coach to many media executives.

Coaches can run $200 per hour or more, and work can be done face-to-face, on the phone or both.

New jobs: Data Scientists

With the mountains of data being generated every day, companies are trying to mine it and make sense of it. The result is a booming job market in this area and a new career track for “data scientists.”

As part of a relatively new field, data scientists may come from many different backgrounds. Garrison says that employers are often looking for two things when considering a job applicant. “The first part is the technical background,” he says. Companies may want professionals with an industry background who are familiar with its specific jargon and trends. “If you want to work for a pharmaceutical company, you might need a degree in biochemistry,” he explains. Other jobs may require only a general degree in business.

In addition to the technical expertise, data scientists and competitive intelligence professionals also need to know where to find data and how to analyze it. Some colleges and universities offer graduate degrees or certificate programs in specialties such as data mining and data analysis. Professional groups such as SCIP also provide training opportunities for members.

Since data scientists spend a significant amount of time using computer programs and algorithms, it may seem logical that a computer science degree would be preferable for these professionals. However, many argue that a degree in physics makes more sense. Loukides writes that physicists not only have mathematical and computing skills but also an ability to see the “big picture.”

Daniel I. Shostak, President of Strategic Affairs Forecasting, has been tracking changes in the field of analytics for several years and says that those interested in working as a data scientist need more than just computer skills. “[They] need to demonstrate very good communication skills because many folks are very skeptical about the value of data driven analysis,” he said. In addition, Shostak suggests that potential job candidates become proficient in the statistical language R and have experience working with computer networks since they are often an integral part of working with large data sets.

As a hot new career, the government has yet to begin tracking data scientist occupational information. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that demand for operations research analysts, who provide some similar services, is expected to jump 22 percent from 2008-2018.

How to Choose the Best Job for Your Skills

It’s no secret that American’s are now living in an employers market. Gone are the days when headhunters lined up at your door hoping to sign you as a client. Hundreds of hopeful job seekers are even lining up to compete for positions that pay less than what was offered (for the same job) just a few years ago. So what does this mean for today’s job seeker? You need a strategy and it starts with knowing your skills and accepting your strengths and weaknesses.

To get started with assessing your skills and finding a suitable match in the job world, the first thing you need to do is understand the difference between a skill and what you “like” to do or “feel” you’re good at. According to Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D. and career expert:

A skill is a learned capability to perform actions. A skill is a capability because it gives you the potential to do something competently. A skill is learned because it is not something you are born with, and it is not acquired through normal sensory development or through special physical conditioning. It is not a talent or aptitude. A skill allows you to perform actions rather than just know or feel something, which is what makes it valuable to employers.

Keep in mind that critical thinking and a positive attitude are considered skills because they require actions on your part such as learning how to see things from someone else’s point of view, speaking with an upbeat tone or offering assistance with any given task. These skills, combined with certain technical skills such as typing, programming, etc., all make up a skill set and they all contribute to completing projects and other work related tasks.

So, now it’s time to take out a pen and a piece of paper and jot down your skills. After you have written your skills on a piece of paper, take a long, hard look at them. Now rate them. Use 1 for “low level,” use 2 for “moderate level” and use 3 for “high level.” Once you have done this, choosing the best jobs for your skills will be easy.

Below are just a few examples of best jobs for people with a high level of communication skills, equipment use/maintenance skills, computer programming skills, management skills, science skills, and social skills. These positions are listed as the top ten best jobs for your skills out of 50 by JIST Works, America’s Career Publisher. Please note that these careers require a “high level” of the listed skill and each list offers a wide variety of positions for all different education levels and personality types.

Communication Skills

  • - Teachers (Postsecondary)
  • - Surgeons
  • - Dental Hygienists
  • - Medical Scientists
  • - Personal Financial Advisors
  • - Physical Therapists
  • - Physician Assistants
  • - Pharmacists
  • - Social and Community Service Managers
  • - Market Research Analysts

Equipment Use/Maintenance Skills

  • - Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  • - Anesthesiologists
  • - Management Analysts
  • - Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • - Computer Support Specialists
  • - Pipe Fitters and Steamfitters
  • - Plumbers
  • - Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
  • -Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
  • -Forest Fire Fighters

Computer Programming Skills

  • - Computer Software Engineers (Applications)
  • - Computer Software Engineers (Systems Software)
  • - Computer Systems Analysts
  • - Computer and Systems Information Managers
  • - Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  • - Computer Security Specialists
  • - Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • - Financial Analysts
  • - Accountants
  • - Actuaries

Management Skills

  • - Computer and Systems Information Managers
  • - General and Operations Managers
  • - Computer Security Specialists
  • - Medical and Health Service Manager
  • - Sales Managers
  • - Management Analysts
  • - Marketing Managers
  • - Accountants
  • - Auditor
  • - Medical Scientists

 Science Skills

  • - Anesthesiologists
  • - Internists (General)
  • - Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • - Psychiatrists
  • - Surgeons
  • - Family and General Practitioners
  • - Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software
  • - Pediatricians (General)
  • - Pharmacists
  • - Teachers (Postsecondary)

Social Skills

  • - Internists (General)
  • - Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • - Psychiatrists
  • - Registered Nurses
  • - Family and General Practitioners
  • - Pediatricians (General)
  • - General and Operations Managers
  • - Dental Hygienists
  • - Auditors
  • - Medical and Health Service Managers

For a complete list of jobs, profiles, salaries, expected job growth and more, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov.

Is the Economy Making Workers Healthier?

Could the economy really be making workers healthier? According to a CareerBuilder survey, you bet it is!  The survey says:

47 percent of workers report they have been packing a lunch more often to eat healthier or help save money. When it comes to smoking habits, 44 percent of workers who smoke said they are more likely to quit smoking given today’s economic conditions. In addition, one-in-five said that they have decreased the number of times they smoke during the workday (21 percent) or actually quit altogether (20 percent).

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, states that “Economic stress over the last year has caused some workers to reflect on their habits, and many of them have turned to healthier routines. In addition to helping cut personal costs, employees who limit their smoking and lunching out habits are taking better care of their overall health. This type of ‘better-for-you’ behavior can be encouraged by companies who implement wellness programs, healthy living challenges or smoking cessation support.”

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder.com among 4,498 U.S. workers, age 18 and over, employed full-time—not self-employed, and non-government.

Companies Choose Hoarding Cash Over Hiring

There are many reasons companies aren’t hiring. They don’t have to because they can hire one person to do the work of several employees, the have more than enough employees—overseas, and some companies are just plain scared. This is the case with many companies that enjoy a substantial increase in profits from year to year, but instead of hiring, they choose to hold onto the profits. Some profitable companies have even gone a step further by laying off workers, even though they have the means to pay them.

According to a recent MSNBC.com report:

Business owners are a gun-shy bunch these days. When asked why they aren’t hiring, you’ll often hear the word “uncertainties.” Those range from not knowing whether taxes might increase at some point to worries about how health care reform could add to employee costs in the future.

Running a business is always going to be fraught with uncertainties, but these days business owners are feeling especially on edge about taking any sort of risk with hiring.

So what will it take for these companies to start hiring again? Michael Alter, President and CEO of SurePayroll, and Roosevelt University Professor Samuel Rosenberg spoke with Tribune reporter Kristin Samuelson about what needs to happen in order to coax profitable companies into loosening the belt. Alter says that to increase hiring, companies have to increase growth and slow their productivity gains, while Rosenberg feels that the market would have to grow to such an extent that the companies can’t meet the demand for their products.

Both agree that the road to recovery will be long and difficult. Alter mentions that because consumer spending drives growth, and you can’t spend if you’re not employed, it’s going to be very hard for the U.S. to come back. Rosenberg mentions that it will take a very, very long time for unemployment levels to drop to a more reasonable level, and this is impossible to predict.

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