Working Digest

WORKING DIGEST

December 07, 2005

Holiday office parties offer food, chance for networking

Office parties and other social events during the holidays aren't just an ideal opportunity to load up on free food. They can also be excellent opportunities for networking.

But networking during the holidays can be quite different from making contacts during the rest of the year, says career coach Robin Ryan, author of What to Do with the Rest of Your Life.

Networking at holiday events is more informal because people are primarily there to have fun. Don't expect to land a new job by the end of the year, Ryan says. Keep your advances light and chatty. Ask, "Would it be OK if I called you after the first of the year?"

Some other ideas:

Get out there. For the currently unemployed, don't let embarrassment about not having a job keep you from attending social events and networking. If people ask you what you do, simply tell them you'll be making a career move in the new year.

Limit your drinking. Have one or two drinks at most over the course of an evening.

Dress appropriately. Remember that you're looking to advance your career, not to derail it.

Mingle. Don't spend the entire party tracking down people you know or people you want to talk with. By excluding or snubbing people, you might miss out on fun - or some unexpected networking connections.

Hiring: Interviews

Motivation factor often overlooked

Most job interviews are heavy on the preparation: What are your skills, training, educational background, learning abilities? Given this weighting, a candidate's motivation is often an overlooked - but crucial - element in determining how well the person will excel in an organization, according to a study by Pittsburgh-based Development Dimensions International, a human resources consulting firm. To reduce the frequency of an unpleasant hiring surprise, the company recommends that companies pay more attention to candidates' initiative to predict how they will perform in the job. Employees with initiative take ownership in their jobs while others contribute much less. The firm developed a list of six personal characteristics to help screen for likely engagement: adaptability, achievement orientation, attraction for the work, emotional maturity, positive disposition and deep confidence in the ability to succeed.

Labor

AFL-CIO organizing membership rallies

The AFL-CIO is organizing rallies around the country and overseas to try to energize a labor movement that has been losing membership for years. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said Monday that American workers have lost their right to organize - pointing to lost manufacturing jobs and companies' increased hostility to unions. More than one-third of American workers, about 35 percent, were union members in the mid-1950s, and that number is now 13 percent.

Careers

Keeping resume current is good idea

Updating your resume is a good idea not only for job seekers but also for those who are currently employed. And there's another good reason to do so, according to W. Martin Keller, a career coach and business consultant based in Western Springs, Ill. "Updating your resume also should be done for the following reasons, which I learned from a man who only had two employers in 50 years of working," Keller said. "He said that you should use your resume as a self-examination of progress and that a resume should be revisited every quarter. You should see progress in your current position. ... If you are not seeing a change in your responsibilities and successes, you may be in peril or simply not challenged."

Employees

Corporate loyalty is key in retention

As company towns and single-job careers become antiquated notions in today's turbulent economic times, corporate loyalty could be the key to retaining top-notch employees. And while employee loyalty toward companies is higher this year than ever, according to a survey released last month, current economic improvements are giving workers more employment flexibility. "The Walker Loyalty Report: Loyalty in the Workplace" quizzed thousands of workers across the United States in a variety of fields on their attitudes about their employers and found that employee loyalty has increased since 2003, the last time the survey was conducted. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed were dubbed "truly loyal." Dianne Durkin, an employee and customer loyalty consultant and president of Portsmouth, N.H.-based the Loyalty Factor, said worker loyalty also is important for increasing customer loyalty. The survey showed that sectors with the highest loyalty responses from employees included nonprofit; health care, including hospitals; information technology; and financial services. The study surveyed 2,526 full-time and part-time U.S. employees from corporations, nonprofit organizations and governments.

Knight Ridder/Tribune, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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