Monthly Archives: July 2016

It May Affect Your Mental Health Down the Road

If you hate your job in your 20s and 30s, you may be at risk for mental-health problems in your 40s, new research suggests.

The Ohio State University study revealed that people who had low job satisfaction early in their career were more likely to have mental health issues later on. Specifically, those who said they weren’t happy in their jobs in their 20s and 30s ended up being less happy and more worried, and had more trouble sleeping at age 40, compared with people who reported higher job satisfaction in their 20s and 30s.

“We found that there is a cumulative effect of job satisfaction on health that appears as early as your 40s,” Jonathan Dirlam, the lead author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers used data from 6,432 Americans who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, which followed adults who were between the ages of 14 and 22 when the survey began in 1979. The study’s authors analyzed job satisfaction trajectories for people ages 25 to 39, as well as aspects of their health and mental health after they turned 40.

The participants were placed into one of four categories: those who had consistently low job satisfaction, those with consistently high job satisfaction, those whose happiness was trending downward or those whose happiness was trending upward over the years. Of those studied, about 45 percent had consistently low job satisfaction, and 23 percent had levels that were trending downward through their early career. About 15 percent were consistently happy in their jobs, and about 17 percent were trending upward.

The results showed that the people who reported consistently low job satisfaction had higher levels of depression, sleep problems and excessive worrying. Additionally, they were more likely to have been diagnosed with emotional problems and score lower on a test of overall mental health.

Hui Zheng, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at Ohio State, said the results highlight the importance that early jobs have on people’s lives.

“You don’t have to be near the end of your career to see the health impact of job satisfaction, particularly on your mental health,” Zheng said.

Participants whose job happiness trended downward were also more likely to experience mental health issues, but the link was not as strong as it was in people who were consistently unhappy with their jobs. People whose job satisfaction started out high but declined over time were more likely than those whose contentment remained high the entire time to worry excessively and have trouble sleeping. However, people whose job satisfaction trended downward were not more likely to have higherdepression scores or a higher probability of being diagnosed with emotional problems.

This link was not seen in people whose job satisfaction trended upward early in their careers.

The researchers also found a link between job satisfaction early in people’s careers and physical health, although it was not as pronounced as that between job satisfaction and mental health. People who were not happy at all in their careers and those whose happiness declined over the years were found to have more minor physical problems, such as back pain or frequent colds, compared with people in the other groups. However, job satisfaction early in one’s career was not linked with differences in physical functioning or doctor-diagnosed health problems such as diabetes and cancer.

However, it’s possible that these health issues could appear later on in people who were unhappy with their jobs, the researchers said.

“The higher levels of mental health problems for those with low job satisfaction may be a precursor to future physical problems,” Zheng said. “Increased anxiety and depression could lead to cardiovascular or other health problems that won’t show up until they are older.”

The research was presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

When You are in Between Jobs

Layoffs and terminated contracts can happen to anyone, at any time. Sometimes it’s expected; other times, you’re completely blindsided. Regardless of the circumstances, you now have the difficult task of finding your next source of income.

Although you’re not working for someone at the moment, you still have a job to do, said Kimberly Schneiderman, a practice development manager at RiseSmart, a company that provides outplacement and career transition services.That job is to represent yourself and continually build your expertise to stay relevant in the marketplace.

To that end, here are seven smart career-building activities to focus on during your time in between gigs.

1. Work on your personal brand

When you’re looking for jobs, your application materials — your resume, portfolio and online profiles — are essential to creating a good impression on employers. David Gilcher, lead resource manager at Kavaliro staffing firm, said one of the first things you should do during your “in between” phase is update your resume.

“Your resume is your brand statement,” Gilcher told Business News Daily. “Employers want to know what you’ve been up to [and] are interested in learning about the technologies and tools you’ve used lately. Be sure to list your recent accomplishments. Make sure those items are very clear to see on your resume. Once your resume is good to go, make sure it’s online as soon as possible.”

Gilcher also advised polishing your social media presence and showing off your latest work and skills.

“Social media is a great way to show what you’re all about and what you know,” he said. “You can use … blogs [or LinkedIn] to post about topics relevant to the work you do. Providing your insight in a public forum can help potential employers see your perspectives and depth of knowledge.”

“Let the world know about what value you can bring to their business,” added Fred Mouawad, CEO of Taskworld. “There are many tools available, like Wix, where you can build a website/portfolio with zero coding skills. However, web presence is not just limited to having an online portfolio. Follow influencers in your industry on social media, [and] write articles showcasing your expertise.”

2. Find relevant volunteer opportunities

Volunteering in your area of interest is a great activity to pursue between jobs, said Marian Valia, another practice development manager at RiseSmart. This could entail working an event hosted by a prominent industry player, or even offering pro-bono consulting.

“Volunteering in an industry [you] would like to land a job in works in two ways,” Valia said. “First, it allows the job seeker to network with their area of interest and tap into the ‘hidden’ job market (jobs that haven’t been posted yet). Second, this is a great way for job seekers to better understand if the industry is right for them.”

Gilcher agreed, adding that it can also be personally rewarding to volunteer.

“Having those ‘feel-good’ moments when you’re in between jobs can be a morale booster even if times [are] tough,” he said.

3. Learn a new skill

On an average, it takes about one to three months to find a new job, according to Money. However, it can take up to six months to find a job that you really like, Mouawad said.

“That’s long enough to learn a new skill,” he said. “Learning a new language, doing short-term professional courses or even pursuing a hobby can make your resume stronger and justify breaks in work experience.”

“A mastery of [industry] skills will set you apart from your competition time and time again,” Gilcher added. “If you’re concerned about having the money to pay for the courses, it is worth noting that many courses are free. There are thousands of resources either online or out in the real world that are within grasp to use for your education.”

4. Keep a close eye on your industry

When you do land an interview with a potential employer or client, you’ll want to show them how you’ve remained connected to the industry during your time away, Schneiderman said. She advised professionals who are looking for work to make sure they’re staying on top of industry trends by reading trade journals and speaking with peers in the industry to stay in-the-know.

Workers Need to Know About Career Development

images-29A few short years ago, a widely covered study by the MIT Sloan Management Review journal claimed that workers who telecommuted were less likely to receive promotions, big raises or good performance reviews than those who work in the office. This discrepancy was no reflection on how dedicated a person was to his or her job, the study found: Remote employees simply didn’t have the same “passive face time” as their in-office colleagues, and leaders evaluated workers differently based on whether they were seen in the workplace.

While companies are shifting away from the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, the fact remains that, unlike office workers, telecommuters can’t fake productivity by sitting in a cubicle looking busy — and they may need to work a bit harder to make an impression with their bosses.

“The stigma [that remote workers] ‘aren’t really working’ … is a thing of the past, and more people are working from home,” said Dennis Collins, senior marketing director at West Unified Communication Services. “[But] it’s up to the employee to make sure they don’t become invisible.”

While technology has made it easier to run an organization with telecommuting employees, workers who don’t report to the office have a very different experience than those who spend most of the week with their colleagues.Tom Schoenfelder, Ph.D. and senior vice president of research and development at Caliper, a provider of hiring assessments and talent-management solutions, said full-time remote employees often encounter the following challenges when managing their everyday work and career development:

Isolation from the company culture. Many telecommuters report a sense of professional isolation, which can often lead to work disengagement, Schoenfelder said. Telecommuters do not share the same social and psychological experience as their colleagues who commute into the office, and therefore are usually not as involved in the company’s culture.

Lack of “face time.” Employees who don’t work in the office aren’t able to visit face to face with colleagues, so “real-time” communication often has to happen via chat. If one party is away from his or her desk, it can cause obstacles to important information flow, as well as make it more challenging to establish the strong, trusting work relationships that aid collaboration, said Schoenfelder.

Fewer informal networking opportunities. Schoenfelder also noted that not being in the same physical location may affect a person’s ability to engage in informal communication and networking. This everyday “networking” is typically an important aspect of navigating organizational politics, and can influence decisions about which workers are considered for sensitive or strategic projects. Those workers who telecommute may find that they’re less likely to be aware of developmental opportunities or be assigned to stretch assignments, he said.

Time management. Despite the growing trend toward remote work, some telecommuters feel obligated to work longer hours simply to prove they’re working, Schoenfelder said. This may lead to additional job stress that ultimately counteracts their productivity and effectiveness. On the flip side, he said, if remote workers don’t take ownership of scheduling and clearly defining their work activities, it may appear that they’re not working as hard as they truly are.

Reasons to Quit Your Job

Going to a job you don’t like is exhausting. When the alarm goes off each morning, it’s like a siren sounding for the end of days. It may be a bit dramatic, but when you’re in the situation, it feels like nothing will fix the problem.

There will come a time when you need to evaluate your situation. Is it worth it? Are you just having boss troubles? Can it be fixed?

We asked some experts to guide you through your decision making. If more than one or, a few, ring true, it may be time to plan your next steps.

Sure, some days at work are more exciting than others, but if you find that every day in the office is a snooze-fest, it may be time to find a new gig.

As an executive career coach and former employee turned entrepreneur, Jessica Manca knows a few things about calling it quits. But she cites boredom as the number one sign that it’s time to throw in the towel.

Manca — whose company, Managing Mindspaces, helps professionals balance their paychecks with their passions — said that if you’re bored, have lost motivation, are just going through the motions or are procrastinating more than usual at work, you may want to consider looking for a more fulfilling job.