The Difference Between “It’s Not My Job” and Knowing Your Boundaries

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Career Advice

No matter your workplace, there’s always the possibility that you’ll be pulled to some form of, as they say, “double duty.”

This phenomenon is particularly common in small offices, where staffs are shorter and have no choice but to become more versatile. There’s nothing wrong with learning a few skills outside of the realm of your job duties — in fact, those skills will help your resume in the long run.

But at what point does it become just too much?

A 2015 article from The Atlantic addresses the issue of what happens to competent workers who are thrown into a sea of lazier colleagues. The moral of the story? If you show expertise and initiative in the workplace, you end up performing everyone else’s job duties, too!

Now, there are upsides and downsides to this catch-22.

Upsides

You’ll be noticed by your boss
Employee of the month? Meetings about your future with the company? Being kept in the loop about the happenings of the company? Yup. All of this and more will potentially be on your radar. Your boss is more likely to act as both your career mentor and sponsor, and as a result, can open doors for you.

You have reason to ask for a raise
You’re working extra hours. You’re helping to train the new employees. You’re the go-to person when the computer decides to have a mind of its own, or when dealing with a particular customer who you know best. You’re going above and beyond, and that should warrant a raise.

You’ll sleep easier
In both the literal and figurative senses. Sometimes a moral compass is helpful in the workplace, and you’ll know for yourself, if no one else, that you truly did the best you could. If there’s a chance that you’ll be reviewed, or your work will be looked at closely in the near, or even the not-so-near future, you’ll have confidence that your work is the best it can possibly be. You won’t doubt yourself in this type of surprise circumstance.

Downsides

You might not be noticed by your boss
And, as a result, you may end up feeling resentful, angry, and/or hostile toward other colleagues who may get noticed by your boss when they don’t put in nearly the same effort that you do. Office politics are an unfortunate reality — and aren’t always put on the back burner in favor of the person who is, in fact, the hardest worker. Not to mention, you could feel resentful of your boss, too.

You could sacrifice self-care
Nothing, not even work, is worth giving up your well-being. If you find yourself waking up feeling nauseous at just the thought of going to work, that could be a clue that you’re a) working “too hard,” b) are not appreciated, or c) all of the above. When hard work is rewarded and acknowledged, you’ll wake up easier — to the point that work won’t interfere with your wellness. But once it does? It’s time to re-evaluate.

Your colleagues may take advantage of your nature
Unfortunately, we all have those colleagues who look to that hardworking employee — and say “oh, Susan will do it, she won’t be able to leave it alone.” And that’s not okay… that’s just lazy.

 

The trick to all this? Strike a balance. Always pitch in. Do your job, and go above and beyond. But don’t let yourself become the office doormat. You’re better than that.

Know what your boundaries are, and understand that your boundaries aren’t always the same as your colleagues’. If you’re working hard, being acknowledged for it, and not sacrificing your happiness, your employer quite possibly has a reasonable definition of “above and beyond.” If you’re working hard, anxious, tired, resentful, and feeling like your colleagues are parasites who depend on you to complete any task they just “don’t feel” like completing… those are clues that your limit has been reached, and possibly exceeded.

Your Work Style Doesn’t Have To Be Like Your Colleagues’

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Career Advice

Do you ever find yourself wondering why you aren’t productive and just can’t get the same amount of work done in the first hour of the day as your cubicle mate?

Well, that’s because there’s not just one “norm” working style. 

You’ll often find that your colleagues and peers have different strengths and working styles than you may have. This phenomenon may go back to your high school days, or maybe even your middle school days. Were you the first person to turn in your test… or the last? Did you cram for tests the night before, while your friends started a full week earlier than you did? If a group project was announced, did you embrace it… or dread it? Were you more collaborative or independent?

These same situations find their way into your work life. While your cubicle mate is able to read a 15-page report on supply and demand (could there be anything more boring?) in a 20-minute time frame, you get started on reading the exact same report and the next thing you know, it’s time for lunch and you’ve read the same sentence five times in a row. And you have no choice but to take your lunch because that’s the time allotted… and then you have to come back to it… and it just snowballs… and oh, dear.

What your boss, unfortunately, may not understand, is that reading that report in a cubicle with five colleagues around you is not conducive to your productivity and as such, your working style. It’s possible that you would need to be reading that report in a room by yourself with no sound and a hi-lighter and the door closed in order to knock it out in 15 minutes. Why? Because that’s how you work best, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s nothing wrong with the opposite, either. 

If you aren’t sure what your working style is, test out a few different scenarios — remember, it’s trial and error. If you’re in a cubicle, ask if (within reason) you can be moved to a quiet corner. If your job permits, use headphones at your desk. If you work remotely, go with a change of scenery and see if that increases your productivity — and even get some vitamin D in the process!

Additionally, keep in mind that it’s not only about adding and subtracting external factors — your productivity can also change depending on how your mind works. For instance, if you’re not a good multitasker, don’t try to be. Focus on one task at a time. Yes, your peers may work best with 12 Google Chrome tabs open while texting and who are we to judge if that’s what works for them? Just focus on yourself, your work, and doing your best. 

Ask yourself some questions to understand your thought process: Can I multitask? Am I easily overwhelmed by working at the last minute before a deadline? Do I need to make lists to remember what I have to get done in a day or a week? These are just a few examples.

Unfortunately, many times, you will have to adapt to your work environment — and that is possible. But don’t feel bad or embarrassed that it may take time to do so. Take note of your progress and set goals for yourself. If your job requires you to work at a faster pace than you’re used to, set realistic time goals for yourself and make your goal to get certain assignments done in shorter time than you did the previous week or day. If you have no choice but to work on a crowded floor with noisy cubicle neighbors, take a break and walk outside when it just gets too noisy and distracting, but make your goal taking fewer breathers each day. You’ll be adapting before you know it. 

While adapting is important, utilizing your working style to your advantage is equally as important. Your work process is not only about your weaknesses — it’s about your strengths, too. Sure, you’re not the best multitasker, but your lists that you make to ensure that you do, in fact, stay on task, are the best the office has ever seen. You may be “slow” in comparison to your colleagues, but your attention to detail is invaluable on certain projects.

How do you work best? Let us know in the comments, or Tweet or email us!

More Than Just Bagging Groceries: Supermarket Job Skills

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Career Advice

Yes, I worked in a supermarket. I worked as a cashier, a self-checkout assistant and as a service desk clerk. Now, what does this mean? I dealt with complaints, messes, price inaccuracies and long lines in every capacity I fulfilled. But, I also learned a lot, and if you have ever worked in a supermarket, I can guarantee that you learned some of these things as well.

You learn how to work with the public 
A supermarket environment is a great place to enhance your ability to work with the public. It can be trying on most days, but there are rewards, too. You learn the importance of greeting people with a smile, even when you may not be in the mood to “people.” You learn how to deal with difficult customers. And you learn how to get through even the most trying days.

You learn time management
Whether it’s learning how to juggle this job with school, a family, or another job, or just dealing with the busy times and the low times, your supermarket job will teach you how to budget time. At the supermarket, when there are few customers in the store, cashiers and supervisors alike tend to spend time cleaning scanners, putting away unwanted merchandise and organizing displays. There will be times that there seems to be a lull in the action, but you will learn that this isn’t the time to sit down and scroll through Instagram. Take advantage of a little down time and go through work emails, clean up your work space, print up templates and all the other things you are usually forced to rush through or put on the back burner.

You learn to be proud when visits from “higher ups” happen
How can a visit from a higher up be a good thing? But it is. Few things put fear into the heart of a store manager, but a “visit from corporate” is certainly one of them. It can be stressful knowing your appearance, the efficiency and quality of your work and work ethic is being scrutinized by these much-dreaded figures. These are the people who not only have the power to terminate your employment but who are sometimes not as involved in day-to-day doings of where you work as other supervisors. Try to remember that for the most part it is to ensure that laws are being obeyed and that there are no financial crises that have to be dealt with.

You learn how to work with a team 
You learn to be courteous to those you work with, because you want others to be courteous to you. Think about it: would you want to sit and wait for your replacement to come so you can go home? No. You’d be unhappy — so don’t do this to your co-workers. Do not be frequently tardy, and be sure to have your part of any task finished on time.

You learn how to spearhead your job growth
Although memorizing random codes to ring up fruits and vegetables, being yelled at by irate customers, and having to deal with money was overwhelming at first, it can in time become enjoyable. Successfully working in the fast-paced express lanes and fixing problems with self-scanning devices are things you will eventually become proud of. To make yourself more marketable and appealing (should you ever pursue a different career) and to keep yourself from getting restless and bored, spend your time learning as much as you can. Keep growing, and show interest in the work you are in.

YOu learn when it’s time to move on
All things must come to an end, right? As stressful as the work may have been, and as frustrated and burnt-out as you may have felt, you may miss working at the supermarket in the end. 

While you are leaving one opportunity behind, do no forget the things you have discovered along the way — the mistakes you have made and the successes you have celebrated. They are now part of the employee you are. They are what make you an important part of any team.

What You’ll Learn When Working in Sports

Author: Emmanuel Pepis, Career Advice

So, you want to work in sports?

I have been fortunate to work in sports since I was in high school. I was put in touch with a well-known sports personality in the New Orleans area and 13 years later, I feel like I could hum the Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Not quite from a travel standpoint, but I have taken a lot of different jobs within the sports field over that time — where I’ve learned a lot of different things.

Get connected
This is the most obvious, yet most vital first step. Without connections, it’s going to be very hard to land a job. That’s true in many fields, but the sports field is among the top of the list in that department. When prospective employers look at references, they’re not just going to look at what you’ve done. They’re going to look at your connections.

When you’re starting out, say yes to everything possible
No experience is bad experience. When you work in sports, you’re going to most likely wind up doing things you never thought. For me, I never thought I would work in production for a radio station, but I did. It diversified my skill set and I’m glad to say I have those basic skills on the technological side.

Whatever path you choose, it’s going to be a long road to get there. At the beginning, it won’t be a particularly lucrative road. This is the toughest part especially for those either in or fresh out of college. If you keep an open mind, you’re going to learn a lot more than you ever dreamed. Also, you’re going to wind up applying those talents you do have in forums you may not have thought about.

Be relentless
Again, this is a statement magnified by the field discussed. There are many thousands of students who have similar goals. It’s one of the most competitive fields you can imagine, but your connections and a diverse skill set are a great start.

However, you have to be aggressive. Keep putting your resume out. Keep persisting about job opportunities even if they’re not open at the time. Take every chance you can to show any potential employer your ‘never quit’ attitude. That eventually gets noticed and can go a long way to you moving up in your desired career path.

Set your goals, but allow some flexibility
You may enter the sports field thinking you’re going to be one thing. That’s great to aspire to. For instance when I was a teenager, I wanted to be an anchor on ESPN. I shifted that goal to wanting to become a broadcaster since I started picking up a lot of experience in that department.

The point of all this is to say that your goals have a good chance of changing. Maybe it won’t be drastically, but you’ll discover a job that changes your perception. Let it happen if that’s the case. Aspire to what you want, but allow yourself the freedom and flexibility as you travel down this road.

I’ve been lucky enough to stay involved in sports in some capacity for over a decade. If you choose this path, it’s going to be a grind. There are going to be tough days as there are in any profession. However, if you stay connected, be persistent, and gain versatility then you’ll give yourself the best chance of succeeding.

Wanna Be a Star? These Performing Arts Job Websites Are For You

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Career Advice

There’s a lot more to work in the performing arts than just the performing aspect of it. While there’s a lot of fun involved in life as a “theatre kid,” you don’t have to enjoy the professional side of theatre — or any other aspect of performing arts solely on the stage.

So, if you’re not looking to audition professionally… where are the jobs? Well, here they are.

BroadwayWorld.com
While widely known within the local and professional theatre for audition notices, show notices and the highly famed BroadwayWorld.com Awards, Broadway World (or BWW) hosts its own classified section, listing jobs across a multitude of aspects of the performing arts from music production to theatres that need an internal accountant.

International Society for the Performing Arts
The International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA for short) is “a global network of more than 450 leaders in the performing arts with representation from more than 185 cities and all regions of the globe.” With a network of that size, there are a lot of jobs available on the society’s website.

Artsearch
Supporting both the visual and performing arts, Artsearch hosts its own Art Jobs section on its site, listing relevant jobs across the country. Relevant listing categories include theatre, music and performing arts education.

Playbill.com
Yes, that Playbill — the same people that create and publish the programs for Broadway shows has a job site. And it’s credible enough to claim the title of “Broadway’s #1 Job Site.” Right on the front page, you’ll see a plethora of jobs other than auditions — including Box Office and Sales Manager, Scene Shop Carpenter and Youth Theatre Director.

Indeed
Ah, good old Indeed… with its great career advice and listings for truly any profession. Performing arts is no different — search the tag and you’ll find listings for Production Manager, Public Relations Associate for a theatre and Site Director for several different theatre schools.