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Archives: April 2012

New Study Reveals Mental Health Improvements After Unemployment Begins

Want the scoop on mental health and job searching? Or better yet, how it relates to unemployment and landing a new media job?

The Wall Street Journal pointed out the results of a new study which showed mental health improvements almost three months after unemployment. While this is indeed good news, this time frame represents the period after the potential shock of a pink slip has occurred but before dead-end job leads have started to accumulate.

Connie Wanberg, professor of organizational and work behavior at the University of Minnesota, led the study which was published in the April/May issue of The Academy of Management Journal.

Results revealed the average laid-off employee has an improvement in mental health. That is, until it starts reversing after the 10 to 12-week period after the unemployment period commenced.

Survey participants actually seemed to be doing better with their job searches when they reported better mental health.

So, what can job seekers take away from the research on a macro level? First off, it seems normal to have a pity party about three months into the search. Second, on a lighter note, it seems the happier you feel, the less down-and-out hearted you are, the more effective you’ll be while networking and pursuing job leads. The higher your spirits, the more intense the job search, the better the results.

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Three Ways to Handle a Colleague You Loathe

We’ve all been there, right? One colleague completely rubs you the wrong way in the newsroom and as much as you want to put your best foot forward and wear that faux smile, it gets draining (not to mention old).

Thanks to the Harvard Business Review there are three strategies to deal with that irritable colleague without telling him or her to talk to the hand.

For starters, you can focus on the things you can change, not the things you can’t. You can’t change their behavior or thoughts but you can certainly change your own.

Second, it may be tempting to confide in your editor, your colleague in the photo department or a friend in graphics. Don’t do it. According to HBR, “emotions are contagious, so complaining about a co-worker can bring everyone down.” Not only that, talking poorly about someone else may inevitably be a poor reflection on you. Take it out at the gym instead. Find a positive outlet to let off some steam that doesn’t involve giving into the negativity.

Lastly, and in a surprising move, the last tip involves working together. Sure, it may go against the grain of your automatic reaction to avoid the person altogether but the piece points out you may become more empathetic as a result. “You might discover reasons for his behavior: Stress at home, pressure from boss, etc.”

Four Reasons Why Freelancers Should Get an Office

Switching things up, instead of leveraging a job search this post is devoted to fellow freelancers who are focused on productivity. Sure, people with office jobs have the daily grind and structure of a day job, not to mention office space but for freelancers things are a little (okay, a lot) different.

A functional home office is key in terms of having space devoted to working instead of lounging on a couch, the same destination for watching American Idol. Yes, a home office is cost-effective but according to Amy Levin-Epstein and her post on CBS Money Watch, she explained that renting space outside the home is affordable and more productive than working from home.

First of all, in the piece she pointed out a writer she interviewed gave kudos to office space for the main reason of networking. You know, having people interaction during the day: “I like the interaction/working with other freelancers, and I like the programming they offer for freelancers.” For instance, on Wednesdays the source attends “lunch pad” whereby entrepreneurs share a communal salad and dish about their experiences.

As for another reason, a communications consultant told Levin-Epstein it gets her out of the house, makes her more productive, and gives her a sense of a professional community. “I found when I worked at home that I felt too isolated and not a part of the working world. I rent a cubicle at Brooklyn Writers Space. It’s so easy to rent a flexible and affordable space these days, at least in New York City. This was one of the most affordable options — I pay $360 a quarter.”

Getting out of the house and into a work environment, some may argue, can make you more productive. A California-based PR consultant told Levin-Epstein her income has grown since she branched out with an actual office. “I can make more money because when I am at the office, I am totally focused on getting work done.”

And let’s not even think about the fridge being merely 10 feet away at home. Another PR consultant informed Levin-Epstein he rents shared office space in Boston and an extra perk is not having instant access to food 24/7. This way, he leaves his 500-square foot apartment and gets to interact with clients and network on his $99 per month part-time membership plan. Plus, he added, “It also helps me stay focused and avoid snacking all day.”

Leaked Valve Employee Manual Makes Us Really Want To Learn To Code

This week, the employee manual at Valve (makers of Half-Life 2, Portal, and other super-successful games) was leaked online.

It makes us want to work there.

Employees choose the projects they want to work on. You’ve heard of 20% time? Valve is “100% time”. There aren’t any bosses, per se, but people “in charge” (which seems to be a loose term at Valve) discourage overtime.

Not to mention the usual perks like free food, games tables, massages, etc.

Good gravy.

This could explain why Valve could be worth billions, and its profit-per-employee is higher than Google or Facebook.

The manual‘s authenticity was confirmed by Doug Lombardi, Valve’s vice president of marketing.

By the way. If you really don’t want to learn to code (okay, us neither), there are a few openings posted for media types, including one for an artist, a film editor, and sound engineer. And the company hires two to three new people each month, so if you don’t see anything you like right now, check back. Expect heavy competition (duh).

How to Reapply for Jobs at the Same Employer

The old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Why should the job search be any different, right? Especially if you applied to a media giant a year or two ago, it may be time to pursue opportunities there again.

When you originally applied, maybe you didn’t get the job or even an interview because it was filled internally, budgets were slashed or the job disappeared altogether. It may have had nothing to do with your own candidacy, so the key is being persistent and revisiting former potential employers as part of your job hunt.

Annie Stevens, managing partner at executive coaching firm ClearRock, told Fortune that job seekers should highlight their strengths and what makes them unique right here, right now. In particular, if job seekers meet with the same interviewers they met with two or three years ago, it’s important to emphasize growth and how the skill set has been expanded.

“In your cover letter, on your resume, and during phone and in-person interviews, highlight specific new experience and skills you’ve gained since then,” she told Fortune. Maybe you’ve taken mediabistro classes or gave a lecture; all important points to highlight.

Stevens also recommended strategic networking to get your foot in the door. For instance, if you currently belong to a professional organization and it’s likely the hiring manager is also a member or will speak at a specific event, be sure to attend events with the intention of crossing paths. She explained to Fortune, “These kinds of functions provide a good, low-key way to get to know each other better.”

In another tactic, she emphasized to the site that doing something unique will bring recognition to your name like writing an article for a trade publication. Then, after it’s been published you’ll need to toot your own horn by sharing this information with the company. Her advice? “Continually remind them of the value you’ll bring to the team.”

The Right Answers To Those Dreaded Interview Questions

We’ve all faced those questions in interviews. You know, the ones that make you hesitate, stumble, or just plain feel like you won’t get the job if you answer them incorrectly. For example:

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made at work?

The key is to shift the focus from something you did wrong to something your team could have done better. ”Never openly admit to a mistake that might have caused damage to a client relationship or delayed a project,” said Tiffani Murray, human resources consultant. “Speak more in terms of lessons learned from successful projects. Point out a learning experience that was beneficial to both you and the company.”

Read more in 7 Tricky Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.

ag_logo_medium.gifThis article is one of several features exclusively available to AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, you can register for as little as $55 a year and get access to these articles, discounts on seminars and workshops, and more.

Does Job Hopping Hurt Your Hiring Chances? New Study Says It Doesn’t

Sure, we’ve all jumped around from time to time but does a stream of several gigs in a short time span really impact your shot at getting hired?

As reported by ERE, an online gathering site for recruiters, a recent study by Evolv’s analytical team discovered the answer is no.  A candidate’s work history is a poor predictor of future job tenure. So yes, this is good news!

Results showed absolutely no correlation between the number of positions a job candidate reflected on a resume and how long they’ll last on a future job. A candidate’s resume may raise a red flag to the hiring manager if he or she has held three jobs in the past three years, but according to the results, that doesn’t mean he or she is more likely to leave the new job than someone who worked for the same employer for three consecutive years.

The study examined the number of various full-time jobs participants held during the past five years and how many full-time jobs they held less than six months. As it turns out, employment outcomes revealed there wasn’t an impact based on the number of jobs someone held or how many short-term gigs they held either.

While the good news reflect work history isn’t correlated to future success and job hoppers shouldn’t be quickly dismissed, according to the piece on ERE, in reality, it happens.  Recruiters may size up a candidate’s history and incorrectly predict a short-lived tenure at their employer.

Graduating This Year? New Report Offers Hope

Although members of the college class of 2012 still face a bleak economy when they graduate, a new report offers hope in terms of better employment numbers and median starting salaries than previous years.

According to a survey based on companies and collected by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates this year’s class will get hired more, paid more, and have a higher median starting salary.

As pointed out in the press release, companies indicated they’re going to hire approximately 10.2 percent more graduates this year compared to recent years in the past. Plus, overall the median salary will increase by 4.5 percent compared to last year (the median starting salary will be $42,569).

Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director, stated as per the release, “The overall median salary increase is the result of gains throughout most sectors. Even in those sectors that showed decreases in median starting salaries, the dips were very slight.”

Here’s the good news for mass media students: Communications majors have gotten the second most significant increases to their median salaries during the past year.

Education majors surpassed communications students in this facet but technically second place isn’t too shabby: Class of 2012 communications majors will have a 3.8 percent increase in their median salary compared to Class of 2011 graduates. It increased to $40,022 from $38,549.

Celebrating Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day

It’s that time of year again! Tomorrow marks the annual workplace field trip for parents and their kids: Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

According to the official site for the event, tomorrow will mark its 20th anniversary as 37 million kids and parents participate in the day! The site also points out this year’s theme encompasses marking the milestone anniversary through education, empowerment, and experience.

And don’t let the word “our” fool you — even if you don’t have kids of your own, the program encourages inviting other children to participate such as a niece, nephew or neighbor. They don’t necessarily have to be your own offspring to participate and benefit from the experience.

Carolyn McKecuen, president of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation, explained to Forbes,  “All daughters and sons should be able to take part in the program. Your child might not want to go to your workplace every year for 10 years in a row. In that case, ask a friend or neighbor or family member who has a job your child is interested in if they would take him or her to work.”

As for the day’s events itself and making the most of it, some companies may have a committee and workplace coordinator to strategically create workshops, office tours, and panels broken down by age group. If the day isn’t specifically structured, parents may want to speak with their children ahead of time to let them know what to expect in terms of shadowing them at their desk, how to introduce themselves to their colleagues, and make observations of the office environment.

In fact, McKeceun suggested to Forbes that parents hold a 20-minute meeting at the end of the day to recap and ask their child about what they learned. “Ask them to write a couple of sentences on what they’ll share with their class the next day. Give them examples or ideas if they need help with their reflection.”

But what if you — um, don’t exactly like your job? What if your kids have no interest in your job whatsoever?

Don’t force them to follow in your footsteps for the day. “A lot of kids don’t necessarily want to follow in their parents’ footsteps,” McKecuen told Forbes. “If that’s the case, have a friend or family member bring your child to his or her workplace.”

Meredith Announces 80 Pink Slips

Despite several expansions and acquisitions, it seems Meredith Corporation is preparing for a downturn.

As reported by The New York Post, yesterday Meredith announced cutbacks of 80 people. A spokesperson confirmed that specific number to the newspaper after rumors swirled the pink slips were going to exceed 100.

The company issued a statement: “We must dedicate resources to meet the demands of the evolving business landscape, and operate as efficiently as possible. As part of the process, today we are announcing selected work-force reductions of 80 employees companywide. These actions will enable us to allocate additional resources to our key strategic-growth intiatives.”

As The New York Post pointed out, it appeared the media company led by CEO Stephen Lacy was doing well as of late. In 2011, Meredith purchased Family Fun from Walt Disney for about $20 million. Plus, it grabbed Everyday with Rachael Ray from Reader’s Digest and also purchased Eating Well, as the article reported.

Even in January things seemed to be in full glory when Meredith purchased Despite these big moves, the layoffs are reportedly the result of a sudden decrease in advertisements; the first quarter of 2012 reflected ad page reductions of 17.8 percent.