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11 posts from January 2011

January 31, 2011

The most flexible jobs and what they pay

I can't tell you how many people long for a job that allows them to make their own schedule. I would trade a 40 hour work week for a 50 hour week if it meant I could work those hours with some flexibility.Most of us just need a little room in our schedule to go to a parent teacher conference, take a kid to the orthodontist or hit the gym for a short break in the day.

 Online salary and career database PayScale.com recently surveyed working Americans to find out how they rated their job's level of flexibility. AOL listed the jobs that ranked highest, along with some requirements for getting started, in case you're ready for a career change. Most requiring schooling and skill. Some of them are in extremely competitive fields. Click here for the AOL link that will take you to available jobs in each category.

1. Web Designer and Developer

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 82%

Median annual salary: $52,000

Every successful business wants an easy-to-use, attractive website. Web developers have the software, tools and know-how to design and develop websites from scratch. A four-year degree in a computer-related field is preferable, though a lot of Web development skills can be self-taught. Further study is always required to keep up with technology.

2. Software Developer

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 81%

Median annual salary: $73,000

Here is another job that is not only flexible, but is certain to be in demand now and in the future. Software developers design software for computer games, operating systems and other products using coding languages and computer science principles. The skills can be learned through books and online coursework, though employers are looking first at candidates with four-year computer science degrees.

3. Assistant Accountant

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 78%

Median annual salary: $39,000

Detail-oriented? Happy amid numbers, charts and tables? Helping out a full-time accountant can be a great flexible job, with potential for growth. The work does not require an advanced degree, and a lot of the skills can be learned on the job. You'll succeed or not depending on how many errors you catch and how many columns add up right.

4. Human Resources Generalist

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 75%

Median annual salary: $49,000

This is a job for a people person with a strong work ethic. You may help companies attract top talent, let poor performers go, design benefits plans and plan company parties. Educational requirements vary, but those people with four-year degrees will have the best job prospects.

5. Newspaper Reporter

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 75%

Median annual salary: $35,000

While there are fewer of them, newspaper writing jobs do exist. Competition is higher at major publications, but you may be able to get a foot in the door with a small, local paper. If you have a way with the written word, this is work you can do whenever it is convenient for you. You just have to meet your deadlines. A four-year journalism or English degree is preferred, though some solid writing samples may get you started with less.

6. Financial Analyst

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 74%

Median annual salary: $59,000

Financial analysts have the very important job of researching and recommending places for individuals, companies and governments to invest their money. You may be meeting with a client across town in the morning and spending your afternoon at your desk writing up a report. As an expert, you have a lot of flexibility. Most financial analysts have a college degree in business, accounting, statistics, or finance, and a master's degree will boost job prospects.


7. Film / Video Editor

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 72%

Median annual salary: $46,000

Here's a great job for the film buffs out there who appreciate how scenes transition, music comes and goes, and stories build. If you'd like to be a part of deciding how films, commercials and Web videos are put together, training at a community or technical college can get you started. Getting a gig can be competitive, though, so a four-year degree helps your chances.


8. Employment, Recruitment, or Placement Specialist

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 71%

Median annual salary: $50,000

Here's another job where interpersonal skills are key. A recruiter helps employers find the right candidate for a job opening. To do the job well, you need to maintain relationships both with your clients, the employers, and the many possible job candidates who could be the perfect pick. Opportunities in this field are likely to grow. A four-year degree is typical, though there is no specific major for recruiters, so including business-related classes in your studies is a good idea.


9. Dietitian

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 71%

Median annual salary: $49,000

Dietitians can help people eat well enough so that they can maintain a healthy weight, avoid illness or recover from being sick. Many work in hospitals, though they can also find jobs in nursing care facilities and physicians' offices. As experts in their field, dietitians have more opportunities to set their schedule. At the very least, a bachelor's degree in a related field is required, as well as licensing and certification that varies somewhat state to state. A specialty and further education will improve job opportunities.


10. Data Analyst

People in this job reporting high flexibility: 70%

Median annual salary: $52,000

Here's a flexible job that also has huge growth potential. As technology continues to grow, so do the piles of data that companies, governments and organizations want to sort through and learn from. A data analyst may figure out which customers come in more often on the weekend or which doctors use the fewest medicines when treating their patients. The job requires a four-year degree and on-the-job training.


If you work in a profession with flexibility, please chime in with your suggestions. If you work in any of the jobs listed above, let's hear your thoughts on how flexible they are.

January 29, 2011

Never assume if you want to advance

This morning, I moderated a panel discussion at Women Executive Leadership's (WEL) Corporate Salute. It was a candid dialogue about a the group's new Census report that looked at public companies in Florida. The findings were harsh. About 75 percent of Florida's public companies have no women in their executive suites.

Judy_SchmelingI asked panelist Judy Schmeling, CFO of HSN (formerly known as Home Shopping Network) for her thoughts on the findings. Judy believes women assume too much. We assume we are going to get recognized for our work. We assume we are going to get raises. We assume our company is going to do its best to help us manage work and family when we come back from maternity leave.

Judy's message: Don't assume. Seek high visibility projects that get you recognized throughout the company for your talent. Ask for raises. Ask for flexibility. Ask for advancement. Ask to be championed.

Judy told a story about the first time she had to make a presentation with disappointing financial results to the CEO. She was coached by a male: "Don't apologize. Hold you head up high and deliver the information."

Roy Krause, CEO of SFN Group, told us about the best advice he has received: When you are a leader, you are always on stage. (The hidden message, don't assume that people aren't watching how you conduct yourself in business.)

Roy-pic-2-04-bio_photoKrause also mentioned that as an exercise, he has written his retirement speech. That's a great exercise for all of us. It's sure to make us differentiate between what we assume our path will be and what we need to do to put ourselves on that path.


January 24, 2011

Is there loyalty in business?

This morning I received an interesting email from L. Semplice. Just reading it, I could feel her frustration. Her husband put 40 years into working for his company and at age 64, his company let him go.

In her letter, she writes:"This is so typical of so many companies these days as people get closer to retirement age, and are on a higher pay scale." 

On one hand, I believe Ms. Semplice has a point. Companies aren't loyal to their employees and the longer you work at a company, the more you make, the more at risk you become of losing your job. That stinks! Employers do what's best for business because the recession has been all about survival.

But at the same time, I feel as if employees aren't loyal anymore either. We do what's best for ourselves, too. The younger generation understands this -- they have no expectation of loyalty.

In today's workplace, I think there is recognition on both ends that loyalty is dead. Unfortunately, there's still a generation in the workforce over 60 that knew it to be different, to be better.

Semplice believes long-term employment is going to be the exception as we go forward. She has lots of others who agree with her, such as this blogger who writes: "I've talked to my grandfather and he talks of companies that cared about their employees and employees that cared about the company and the goods they make...I don't see that any more... in either direction... just everyone treating everyone else like cogs in their own personal ideas... just to get to the next level, with no real care for the level they are at now."

I just don't think it's going to change. I think most of us have accepted the new way of doing business and are adjusting how much we're willing to give to our employer during the recession and after it. 

What are your thoughts on employer and employee loyalty? Are you convinced it's dead?


January 19, 2011

Facebook at work?

It seems some people, I'm not going to mention any names, have a Facebook addiction. I think you know what I mean...you head to the site the minute you power up your computer and keep it running in the background all day long. Or maybe you find yourself updating your status throughout the day, even if you're on the road.

Max Facebook can be a great tool for marketing and connecting. But should it be allowed at work? Or should companies ban it at the office? I posted that question on Facebook and guess what? Lots of people have an opinion on the topic. Most companies allow it, but many people feel it should be banned.

If you feel like you might have a Facebook, Twitter or Linked In addiction, you will want to read my colleague Bridget Carey's tips on how to curtail it. Click here.

I'm convinced social networking is here to stay and that companies are going to have a hard time banning it during the work day. Even if they forbid or block workers from getting on Facebook from office computers, workers are going to use their handheld phones to access the sites. I wrote about the topic for my Miami Herald column today.

My tips for employers: Rather than prohibit access, have frank conversations about expectations, etiquette and privacy around social network usage. 

My tips for workers: Keep your social networking time to a minimum during the work day. Use it only for quick breaks or to help you in your job. Maybe even suggest your company has its own internal social network to let employees communicate and collaborate.

We all know the lines between our work lives and our personal lives are blurred. Most of us take work calls at home. So frankly, it's not that horrible if we peek at Facebook at work. I guess we just need to know where and when to draw the line.

What do you think about social networking at work? Should a business embrace it or ban it?


January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day - a money loser for parents

As the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day, I wonder...did the great leader ever brainstorm solutions for the struggles of working parents? Surely, Dr. King witnessed how hard parents of all ethnic and racial backgrounds work to get their kids a good education, raise them to be upstanding citizens and still earn a living. I bet he has some great ideas.

But years after his tragedy, as the nation mourns his death, most parents will be expected to report to work today, or lose pay. 

Today, too many kids will spend the day home alone. Some will get into trouble. Some won't. Parents who worry, will put their kids into programs or hire someone to watch them. Unfortunately, free childcare is nearly nonexistent. Many parents will pay more in childcare today than they earn.

I know I'm one of the lucky ones who work from home. I can keep my kids in sight and still earn a living. But I have incredible empathy for those who don't have that flexiblity.

My dream is that one day, kids can spend a school holiday in reliable government-funded programs or even better, corporate-sponsored programs that keep kids out of trouble, keep parents out of the red, and allow both to celebrate this special day.



January 13, 2011

Yvonne Jackson offers advice on overcommitment

Jackson Today I had a conversation with Yvonne Jackson, a high-powered businesswoman who sits on two prestigious corporate boards -- Spartan Stores and Winn Dixie Stores. She previously sat on the board of Best Buy, too. Yvonne is president of BeecherJackson, a management and human resources consulting company.

I asked Yvonne what skills women should seek if they want a crack at a coveted board seat of a public company. Her answer: "They need to be the best at what they do. Be at the top of your game."

If there ever was an endorsement for resisting overcommitment, that's it. Don't stretch yourself too thin. Her point: Concentrate on what you do and do it well enough to make an impression on a CEO or someone with clout.

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite newspaper columnists Steve Yoder tackled the issue of overcommitment. His column, The High Price of Saying Yes, mentioned his plans to cutback on commitments. But he advised doing so with caution:  He writes: "Overextension can be a good thing. Overcommitment, like our overplanted backyard, sometimes yields rich surprises that a better-planned schedule might not. If we don't sign on for too much, we may miss that one thing that stands above the others."

It seems the best advice is take on commitment with caution, know your limits and always keep some room in your life for suprises.

Have you made a resolution around overcommitment? Should you make one?

January 11, 2011

Long work hours, a status symbol?

Clock Yesterday, I was watching a clip of an upcoming web series. One of the characters is a high powered executive who actaully slept at her desk one night to make everyone aware of the long hours she is putting in.

It used to be a status symbol to brag about how much we were working. In First Things First, Stephen Covey, Roger Merrill, and Rebecca Merrill write, "People expect us to be busy, overworked. It's become a status symbol in our society — if we're busy, we're important; if we're not busy, we're almost embarrassed to admit it."

Is that still the case? 

Lately, all I hear is groaning about long hours and overwork. But why then, do we feel we need to claim to work more hours than we actually do? 

Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think  had me totally entertained when she wrote a blog post called  “Stop Lying About How Much You Work,” It deals with our tendency to tell tall tales and talk about 80-hour weeks, as if we were actually working 80 hours. As she notes, in the vast majority of cases, we aren’t.

University of Maryland sociologist John Robinson has conducted several studies comparing people’s estimated workweeks to time logs. It turns out that the average person claiming to work 70, 80, or more hours per week is actually working less than 60

So are we overinflating our workweek to brag, or to gripe?

Laura also points out that when people talk about 80-hour weeks, it encourages people to stay late, wandering around, ordering delivery, surfing the web at their desk. Even if all this hanging around only adds up to 60 hours, it’s still inefficient. And more importantly, complaints about 80-hour weeks scare off people who are willing to work hard but not stupidly, she notes.

Dr. Stephanie Smith adds to the conversation on the Your Mind Your Body blog by noting how along with long work hours, stress is the new status symbol. She says many of us have gotten caught up in bragging about the amount of stress we are under as a way to impress people.  We count the number of hours we spend in the car, on the laundry, at our kids’ schools, at our desk, and paying our bills.

When was the last time someone you spoke to went through the laundry list of reasons they are stressed out? Five minutes ago?

Dr. Smith provides some great solutions to stopping the cycle and I added some of my own:

  • Keep your mouth shut.  If you find yourself with a group of people who seem to do nothing but compare notes on their stressful days, or the long hours they are putting in, try staying out of the conversation.  If you just cannot keep your mouth shut, try changing the subject.  “Hey, I hear the Rockies are doing great in spring training this year.”  Sometimes it is good to have a few of these alternate conversation topics on hand just in case.
  • Go home. If you aren't being “productive,” or getting things checked off your to-do list, you may as well leave the office and think more about the benefits and importance of relaxation. 
  • Check your priorities.  We all know that our families and friends should be more important than our jobs, but when was the last time you really took stock of your priorities and what makes you happy? Do you need to win the prize or the status for working long hours or being stressed?
  • Keep tabs.  Log your time for a few weeks. See what you average. Then make it clear that hanging around to order take-out every night does little except drive up your food bill — and make your 
    organization a less attractive place to work.

    January 10, 2011

    Join me in January

    January is filled with great programs that offer something for everyone. I hope those of you in South Florida will join me as I moderate the discussion at these fun and informative events. Looking forward to seeing you!
    *The Art of Saying No. The Women of the Roundtable, January 13, 2011 at 6 p.m., Weston Hills Country Club, To Register: www.thewomenoftheroundtable.com.
    * Feeling Good, Looking Better: The Path to Work-Life Harmony. South Miami Hospital's Center for Women and Infants, Sunday, January 23, 1-4 p.m.  A free day of refreshments, relaxation and renewal.
    *  A Conversation with Nancy Brinker,  CEO and Founder of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, The Commonwealth Institute,  Thursday, January 20, 2011
    Time: 12noon-12:30pm: Networking and Registration
     12:30pm-2:00pm: Luncheon, Conversation and  Question & Answer. To register: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=35479c
    *  A Candid Dialogue and recognition of Women's Advancement in Florida's Corporations. Women Executive Leadership's Corporate Salute, January 28,  Signature Grand Davie, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. To register: http://bit.ly/gvF3WN



    January 06, 2011

    Why I'm trading rock hard abs for work life balance

    Every year, I resolve to do sit ups every day. I dream about the rock hard abs I'm going to get. And then, I fail.

    Last night, I went to see a play. The lead actress had her belly button exposed the whole show and guess what? Rock hard abs. I convinced myself that having those abs is important to her work life and she probably devotes hours to get them. I just can't do it.

    So while I want those abs, I'm not going to set myself up for failure in 2011. I'm a superbusy person like most of you. I don't have time to spend hours in the gym and it stresses me out to think that I have to make time to do hundreds of sit ups to get the abs I want. Frankly, I consider exercise a chore and I hate doing sit ups. 

    But lately, I found a way to make exercise less of a chore and make it fit into my work life. I jog with my daughter. I know I'm never going to get rock hard abs from jogging, but at least I'm exercising, I'm enjoying spending time with my daughter and I'm doing it when it fits into my schedule. This year, I'm resolving to jog three times a week. That's a reasonable goal and I'm likely to feel like a success when I achieve it.

    Maybe this is the year all of us make realistic resolutions. If you've resolved something in the past and failed because it doesn't fit in with your work life balance, change it up. Come at the goal from a different angle. If you can't get to the gym 5 times a week, try taking walks at night. If you can't get home by dinner time every night, try for once a week.

    This is the year we succeed at our goals and move toward the mental and physical balance we crave. Are you with me on this?

    Here's to a physically fit 2011 for me! (minus the rock hard abs, of course)

    Abs My previous inspiration


    January 05, 2011

    Should workers get paid sick days? Ask your waitress

    Recently, I went to a pancake restaurant and my waitress was sneezing into a tissue as she served me my breakfast. Gross right? But I had to cut her some slack when I learned today that four out of five restaurant workers don't get paid sick days.Worker_sneezing

    In fact, its kind of creepy to discover the people who serve you in restaurants and prepare your food are most likely to come to work sick.  New research found employees in the food service and preparation industry have the lowest rate of access to health insurance and time off, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research(IWPR). 

    Overall a whopping 44 million workers don't have paid sick leave. The research also found jobs that don't offer paid sick leave have high rates of turn-over.

    We've heard the excuses: businesses are struggling and need their employees to be at work. But to me it seems like a no brainer to give workers one of two sick days a year. Certainly, it won't put an employer out of business and could keep the flu or other illnesses from spreading through a workplace or making a customer sick. Isn't it just good business?

    I know it's not just the money. Some people really believe they will get fired if they take even one day off. But what boss in her right mind wants to be anywhere near someone whose under the weather. Have you ever wished a co-worker would stay home instead of breathing germs in your direction? I have.

    Nationally, there are some big time efforts underway to force employers to offer paid sick days. San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee have passed laws requiring that employers provide paid sick days to workers. Similar laws are being considered in states and cities around the country including New York City. The Healthy Families Act, introduced in Congress every year since 2005, would mandate employer-provided paid sick days at the national level.

    "This study has important implications for the nation's economy," said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. "With unemployment so high and job searches taking so long, greater access to earned paid sick days will help ensure that workers won't lose their jobs if they get sick or a child needs care. That is especially important for low-income workers who are already struggling terribly in this recession."

    Do you think forcing employers to pay for one or two sick days a year is too big a burden? Do you think the money is the reason why people come to work sick or is fear of job security a bigger factor?