Category: Career

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Switching Career Fields

  1. It’s a challenge: Considering the fact that I studied two Marketing modules in university and four different Marketing short courses, I was pretty confident that I would be able to grasp my new job easily. I was wrong. There were days- scratch that, there are still days when I struggle and wonder if switching career fields was worth it (I’m proud to say that recently though, whenever this thought pops in my mind, I answer “YES!!!” without having to think about it)
  2. The internet has resources for everything: As someone who lives on Google this was shocking to me. Yes, I knew that you can Google pretty much everything but I had no clue that the internet could EDUCATE YOU! My mind is blown away by the amount of resources I’ve found online. But also
  3. I will not know everything: This is hugely upsetting and something I struggled with in my first few months. Back in Customer Care, I knew ALOT! Of course I did. I spent three years there and besides some basic process changes, things remained mostly the same. In Marketing, not so much. There are always new Marketing trends, new data on consumers or spending habits. You have to keep reading and studying in order to keep yourself up to date. At first I found this disheartening. I wanted to know everything and I wanted to know it NOW! Over time however, I accepted that I will not know everything. But with a little hard work. I can learn a bit about most things.
  4. Speaking of trends, I wish I knew the importance of keeping up to date with important industry information: Previously, I did not pay attention to any additional information if it didn’t directly impact me or my life. Like when Huawei stopped making phones with Google. Which then led to countless customer queries about that. Now however, I read every email link, Hubspot report or social media survey that lands in my inbox.
  5. Failing is a thing…and that’s okay: Keeping in with my perfectionist tendencies, I did not expect to fail. I don’t like failing. I’ve mentioned before that failing is (was?) a foreign concept to me but when you’re in a new field, failing happens and honestly it’s just a part of life.
  6. Lastly and certainly not least, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable: Growth is uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. But when it’s the right field or the right job for you, you won’t even mind. There are certain days when my anxiety skyrockets and I get really uncomfortable with a task but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did you change careers or start a new job? What was something that you were not expecting?

7 Signs Your Workplace is Toxic (and What to Do About It)

Girl in toxic workplace

A toxic work environment can affect more than just your workload. It can affect your mental and physical wellbeing. Worried that you might be experiencing more than just a “stressful time” at work? Here are a few signs that your workplace might be toxic.

1) There is little to no growth: Okay so this one is kinda understandable considering we are in a global pandemic and at this point we’re lucky to even have jobs. But if your company usually has slow or very little growth, this is not a good sign. Businesses (in non-pandemic times) should be growing and so should their employees.

2) People keep quitting: No job is perfect. But if your job has a high amount of people coming in and leaving especially after a few days, this is a major red flag.

3) You’re constantly worried about being fired: A moment of silence for my past self because this is something that I could relate to. Being constantly on edge because you fear you might be fired for the smallest little thing IS NOT NORMAL. If you’re an honest worker and not stealing from your company in some sort of way, you shouldn’t have to constantly be worried about being fired. If you ARE stealing from the company/doing something you shouldn’t…well that’s on you and you really should be worried about being fired.

4) Staff keep getting sick: Like I said, toxic workplaces affect you physically. Headache? Back pain? Catching the flu more often than usual? The culprit might be the office itself.

5) Your workload is unreasonable: Here’s the thing. All jobs have targets. As a team, employees need to achieve targets. If you’re repeatedly not hitting targets because they’re too difficult or you feel like you have too much work to do that you can’t cope, it might be a sign that your workplace is toxic.

6) You have no work-life balance: Say it with me now, “In 2021, we do not glamorize the grind.” Occasional overtime is okay and I am always up for taking that overtime if work needs to get done. But all work and no play makes me a cranky worker. Jobs need work-life balance. It is a “job”- it is supposed to be a part of your life for a specific amount of hours, your job is not supposed to be your life. If you finding yourself working excessive hours, especially with a workload that you cannot cope with, this is another sign of a toxic environment.

7) There’s bullying and/or cliques: This one is my absolute favorite because PSA we’re not kids at school anymore. You’re an adult. Please act like one. If you noticed that certain employees are favored over others or given the best opportunities while everyone else is ignored, this is another sign.

So You Work in A Toxic Environment, Now What?

  1. If you think it’ll help, speak to a manager: If you think a manager can assist, feel free to set up a meeting. Of course, this might be an issue if your manager is a part of the problem. When I first started having issues with work being toxic, I went to the head of the department. I knew the issues stemmed from a recent change in management so I couldn’t speak to my manager, my manager’s manager or my manager’s manager’s supervisor. Yes, I skipped three levels of management in order to get assistance. Did it help? Yes, for a while. And then things worsened a few months later. By that time I had already left the business.
  2. Ask to move to another department: If there is no other way forward, ask to be moved to a different department. Be sure to do your homework and ensure it’s a department that doesn’t have the same issues.
  3. Start preparing for a new job- This is my last suggestion because jobs are tough to find on a regular basis let alone through the Covid pandemic. But if you are still exposed to the toxicity, update your CV, updated your LinkedIn and start applying for other jobs.

Toxic jobs slowly but surely seep into your everyday life and trust me, this is not something you want. If you find that you are in a toxic workplace, it’s best to leave. But whether you leave the team, department or the business itself is a decision that depends on you and your work environment.

Have you ever dealt with a toxic work environment or bad work PTSD? I’d like to know below.

A Look Into Work PTSD

Blogger’s Note: The below blog post has been in progress since 2019. As of today, 17 April 2021, I will scheduling it to go live in May 2021 in honor of Mental Awareness Month.

Person lying on bed

I didn’t realize anything was wrong until the third time I broke down.

I was in the bathroom, dabbing at my eyes with a wet tissue to try to hide the swelling.

I had learnt the trick from walking in on a co-worker crying after she had been passed over for a promotion (for the second time in a month). She had been near hysterical and at that time I didn’t understand why.

(Turns out that she had been with the company for over five years so the disappointment was understandable).

Anyway so there I was teary and sobbing and I thought “this isn’t right”. It was my third breakdown since we restructured and got new managers.

I remember thinking that the amount of time I had spent crying in the bathroom was equal to, if not more than, someone in an abusive relationship.

Except I wasn’t physically abused. No, it was just emotional. But it was destroying me all the same.

That was when it hit me. My beloved workplace, the place I sacrificed everything for, was a toxic environment.

In my mind I played it back. All the arguments, the discrimination, the employees crying in the bathroom.

Would no one do anything about it?

Our managers were awful. Would no one step up?

Turns out that no one did. Within a few months, the new normal was accepted and we went from a company who respected and valued employee satisfaction to one that is only chasing the bottom line.

I was desperate to leave. But no one was hiring. There was an internal vacancy in a different department and I applied. Maybe it would be different in another department?

But then management stepped in and the role that was initially advertised internally was given to someone externally. I was speechless. Sure the rule was that we searched externally if no candidates were found to be successful internally. But I had been eavesdropping on cooler talk and I knew that job was supposed to be mine.

I stuck it out for another two years before I finally got an opportunity. It was in a field that I was interested in and it was a job role that I was interested in a while.

I placed my notice and against my better judgement, served those 30 days cautiously, convinced that management would find some reason to either fire me or worse, keep me forever. I knew the fear was irrational but I couldn’t stop it.

Eventually time came for me to leave. I literally said goodbye and walked out. No big drama. No big farewell speech. I thought that was it. I was wrong.

When I started in my new role, I struggled for the first few months. Not just because it was a completely new field but apparently I had mental wounds that still lingered.

I was too scared to leave my desk (in my previously role we weren’t allowed to). I didn’t even want to take lunch in the canteen downstairs for fear that my manager might need me and I wouldn’t be there. The first few times I asked for permission for stuff (can I drink my tea here? Am I allowed to stick up this photo? I didn’t know I was allowed to keep my phone on me) my coworkers found me funny. But as time went on, they came up with a phase for my experience- Work PTSD,

I hated it but it made sense. For so long, I had worked in an environment where I had not been allowed to do anything, this freedom- especially in a purely administrative role- was a novelty.

One of my issues with my first job is that I didn’t make the effort to learn more about the company and it’s culture. I was not going to make that same mistake again. I made an effort to get to know how things and people worked in this new role and focused on unlearning the new habits that I had from my previous workplace.

It took time and I thought I was fine. Until a friend and I made plans for lunch and I dropped by my old workplace to pick her up. I walked in to Reception and there they were. The UNholy trinity as I had nicknamed them. My former boss, her boss and his boss. Three levels of toxic management who were always seen together laughing and talking or altenatively meeting with staff and making them cry.

Instinctively I felt my shoulders hunch over in an attempt to protect me from their attention. “Please, please don’t see me”, I begged mentally.

Desperate, I turned away and started examining the stack of brochures on the receptionist’s desks, my hunched shoulders to them. Once I heard their laughter died down, I relaxed. The receptionist, who I had known from my time there, offered me a small sympathetic smile.

I waited for my friend to come downstairs and we went out to lunch. But I never made plans to hang out with her again during the workweek. I had felt like I was finally getting better but I couldn’t see them. I was still too fragile for that but maybe one day.

7 Things You Must Do Before an Interview

No matter how old you get or how far you are in your career, interviews are an unavoidable part of life. Here are 7 tips to help you minimize your stress on the big day:

  1. Figure out where you’re going and how long it takes you-This is especially important if you’re going somewhere you haven’t been before or if the venue is situated somewhere out of the way. Take a drive to the interview venue and monitor how long it takes you. It’ll save you from being late on the day of the interview. And if the “did you have trouble finding this place?” pops up in conversation, you can show that you know how to plan ahead. I did this for one of my earlier interviews and while I did not remain in that position, this was something that impressed the hiring manager (who tracked me down a few months later for another job).
  1. Research the business and if possible the interviewers- check out the company’s website and social media pages to get an idea of their work as well as their values. This helps you to learn more about them as well as see if you fit in with their company culture. If you know who is your interviewer, try to find out more about them too. LinkedIn is great for finding who knows who but you can also try social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Maybe you and your interviewer went to the same university or have similar interests which you can use as a talking point during the interview. However I do recommend confessing to cyber stalking. Remember you are trying to build a connection, not get a restraining order.
  1. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep- Ensure you’re well rested before an interview. If necessary do something the night before to ease your stress such as a workout or meditation. I have a bedtime ritual of tea, face mask and then colouring that always calms me before an interview.
  1. Revise your resume and cover letter- Go over your cover letter and resume, paying special attention to what projects or job roles may help you in this interview. Have you demonstrated teamwork? Excellent leadership skills? Figure out how you can tie your past and present experience into this job role. This is also a great time to practice your elevator pitch.
  1. Pick out a professional outfit- be sure to pick out an outfit that looks professional but is also comfortable. The last thing you want is to be tugging and adjusting your clothes throughout the interview. It’s uncomfortable for you and distracting for the interviewer.
  1. Promote yourself to yourself- An important part of an interview is to project confidence. Remind yourself of all of your amazing accomplishments both in and out of work. Keep a list of everything you’ve done that you’re proud of. You want to project confidence in your interview so it’s important that you remind yourself why you’re so great. 
  1. Prepare questions and your answers- Do your research and prepare answers to some common interview questions. I like to look for general interview questions and as well as questions specific to the field that you’re applying for a job in. Be sure to also make a list of any questions you might have (and make sure they show your sincere interest in the position).

Interviews may be nerve-wracking but with enough practice, you can train yourself to be calmer as well as more prepared.

7 Life Lessons I Learnt from “The Bold Type”

I discovered “The Bold Type” during a tough time in my life. I had just screwed up an interview for a job that I knew would have been perfect for me and I was in desperate need of a pity party. Now, a year and three seasons later, “The Bold Type” is still a source of constant comfort for me. Whether it is personal or professional, there are tons of great life lessons I picked up from the show.

The Bold Type
  1. Stand up for what you believe in– Kat is one of the most outspoken females I have ever seen and does not shy away from confrontation. She is always comfortable expressing herself and her beliefs no matter what.

2. Failure is a thing. It happens. Move on– As a perfectionist, this really hit home. In life, people fail. It is just a part of life. Onwards and upwards. Just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you can’t try again or there’s something else out there for you.

3. Find Yourself a Mentor– Watching the amazing Jacqueline Carlyle motivate and support the girls of “The Bold Type” has really made me appreciate the great female leaders in my life. I specify “great” and “female” because I have only just realized both how rare and amazing they are. Find yourself a kickass mentor who will help you to be your best self.

4. The Importance of a Support Group– Kat, Sutton and Jane support each other through everything (the girls even accompany Jane to a mammogram which is both over the top and against the rules). Get yourself friends that are there for you no matter what. Everything is a million times better with a great support group. Take it from me. 2019 would have been hell if it wasn’t for my girls.

5. Do it if it scares you– My former manager is always saying that “nothing grows in comfort zones” and this is something I believe in 110%. If something scares you, you should seize the opportunity and do it. There is so much that you could learn and so much growth that you can experience.

6. It’s Okay to Be Undecided About Your Career– Over the course of 4 seasons, Sutton has gone from personal assistant to fashion assistant to aspiring designer to stylist. She admits that she is undecided but is also willing to try out new opportunities to see what suits her. As the girl who decided on her career path at 12 years old, I love this!

7. You have to start at the bottom– From season 1, I loved that the girls knew where they wanted to be and they were on the way there. However the flashback episode in season 3 showed us that Jane started as an intern, Sutton was a temp and Kat worked for someone who had no clue how to make hits on social media. I loved taking this look back and seeing where the girls started. This was a great reminder that everyone- even in glamorous TV shows- starts at the bottom.

Do you watch “The Bold Type?” What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt? Let me know below.

Anatomy of a Cover Letter

I detest cover letters. Is there anything more difficult to write? Thankfully, cover letters are one of those things that get easier to do with time. Below, I’ve listed a short guide to what your cover letter should look like.

tablet

Address to who you’re writing

Dear Sir/Madam
(it’s always a good idea to know who’s going to be receiving your application and then addressing them here. It shows that you have done your research on the business).

Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself. State your name, where you go to school and what you’re studying. State why you’re applying. Make sure you catch the readers attention so that he or she is eager to continue reading.

Paragraph 2: Highlight anything important you think they need to know. For example, have you have previous experience in this field?
Do you have a skill that makes you excellent for the job? EVERYTHING is important. Jobs teach you skills that can be used in any field.

Paragraph 3: Make it clear that you will be an asset to them. Whether it’s because you thrive on pressure and deadlines or because you have amazing qualifications, show the company that they should want to hire you.

I look forward to your response

Sincerely,

Enter full name here

5 Ways to Deal With a Bad Day at Work

No matter if it is your dream job or not, not every day at work is going to be perfect. Some days are just awful and there is nothing to do but get through it. Here are five tips to deal with a bad day at work:

Girl pulling out hair

 

1) Keep it to yourself

Just because you’re having a crappy day doesn’t give you the right to take it out on anybody else. Keep your mood to yourself and if it helps to isolate yourself from others, then do it. I keep to myself whenever I’m in a mood and I’ve worked in the same company long enough that I’m left alone whenever I need that space.

 

2) Take a walk

Sometimes just getting out and having some fresh air and sunlight is exactly what you need. If it is possibly for you to go take a walk outside, DO IT. I remember once having a day so horrible that I was close to crying. I took a walk to the nearby garage during my break and returned to work feeling a million times better.

 

3) Share your concerns with a friend

Sometimes opening up to a friend as to why you’re feeling the way you are, can help you feel better. Just be careful not to be disrespectful about co-workers, management or the company.

 

4) Do something to cheer yourself up

Go shopping, eat your favourite meal, listen to upbeat music. Do something that you know will make you feel better immediately.

 

5) Stay away from social media

I don’t know about you but I feel like social media is the one place I can feel free to just be myself. Which is why I avoid it when I know I’m upset or angry. Don’t let your single bad day at work be broadcast to your 500+ friends and followers.

What do you do when you’re having a bad day at work? Let me know below.

7 Things College Graduates Need to Know About Their First Job

I’m writing this at 7PM on a Saturday. I worked today and I am totally and utterly exhausted. I was watching a video on Youtube where one of the lifetstyle vloggers spoke about her internship experience. She mentioned not enjoying the office environment and found it crazy that she had to wake up at 7:30 each morning (I wake up at 5:30. I’m very jealous). I feel like there’s a huge difference between the college life and the working world. Most of the time, graduates are not prepared. So here are some of the things I think college graduates need to know about their first job.

  1. This may not be the job for you- Guys, this is SO SO SO important. Sometimes your first job may not be for you. I had a friend join a company where she was utterly miserable and could not hide it. She would do the bare minimum of work to get by simply because it was not what she wanted to do. Not every job is for every person and I don’t think lots for people realise that.
  2. You may not have your dream job- Similarly your first job may not be the job you wanted. I spent four months looking for jobs in Media and Publishing before giving it and taking the first job I got. Was it in the field I wanted? No. Did I learn from it? HELL YES!
  3. There will be a transition period for you- Adjusting from the world of skipping classes just coz you could to a workplace where you need to be in is a HUGE adjustment. I’ve been working for ten months and it still makes me sad that I can’t just skip work on Fridays and stay in bed. Damn you, Uni for spoiling me.
  4. It is not always pretty or fair- Such is life. Guys, I can’t even tell you how many times I have been left gaping at the sheer unfairness of life especially in the working world. There’s lying, back-stabbing, betrayal. Think about a Housewives reality show and you have a good idea. WATCH YOUR BACK!
  5. You probably won’t have the salary you want- Starting salaries are incredibly low. I also feel like Durban salaries are especially pathetic. Please can someone explain to me how to survive on R2000-R3000. Have you heard of a little expensive thing called petrol?
  6. Your degree probably won’t count for much- It is very rare to find a job in your field especially if, like me, you studied something in Humanities (also, can I please point out that Humanities is the biggest college in my university and yet they do nothing for the students to find a job? Yes, I am still pissed about that. You’ll  soon see why). At the beginning of your job hunt, your degree might not make much of a difference in your career. I had a friend (non-Humanities of course) who worked for three years after university before he finally got a job in his field. I was equally parts impressed and jealous.
  7. It’s not what you know- Following from the above point, it’s more about who you know that what you know. The wonderful job where I learnt so much? My aunt recommended me for the position. While I am grateful to her, it annoys me that my degree was so useless. Why did I waste three years studying when I could have just had someone recommend me for a job. That being said, NETWORK! It is a great way to make connections and you never know where your next opportunity will come from.

5 Productive Things to Do While Looking for a Job

Job-hunting is difficult. It is even more difficult when you’re unemployed and have nothing to distract you from job-hunting. Here are five productive things to do while you’re looking for a job.

5 Productive Things to Do While Looking for a Job

 

1) Volunteer somewhere- This shows that you haven’t just spent your time as a job-seeker at home. You made a meaningful change. Also, staying at home can get depressing so volunteering lets you make a positive change to someone which in turn makes you feel better. It also looks great when you can show that you did something productive without needing to get compensated in any way.

2) Learn a new skill- There are so many amazing online classes out there. I found some on Criminology and Management only to be distracted by the free Microsoft tutorials offered on the Microsoft Office website. (Fun fact- after I finished the Microsoft Excel tutorials I actually ended up getting a job that used Excel regularly).

3) Take time to perfect your resume and cover letter- A great thing about not having a job is that you have lots of time. Spend some of that time on tailoring your resume and cover letter for each position. This will maximize the impact of your application as well.

4) Network to get a job- Talk to people you know to see if they know anyone who is hiring. This was one of the best ways that I could get my CV out there and I definitely recommend it to others. You never know who knows who and where you could land up.

5) Take unpaid work or an internship – While working for no pay is not something most people want to do, sometimes the experience and lessons learnt are invaluable. You could learn skills that could be put to use in another field.

These tips are sure to help you be super-productive and ready to kick butt at your next interview.

5 Tips for Cleaning Your Social Media Profiles

Remember back when you knew nothing about anyone and had to actually interact with a person to find out more about them? Yeah, I don’t remember so far back either. In today’s age of social media, you can find out much about a person by simply stalking them online. But while this is great for when it comes to checking out your crush, this technique can backfire when it comes to jobs. Employers can reject your simply because of the image you project on social media. Here are five tips to help you clean up your social media presence:

 

1) Rule of thumb: If  you wouldn’t want your gran to see it, don’t put it up. This rule works great for me since I do actually have my grandmother on Facebook. This rule has served me well in social media…mainly because as a teen, I was always getting in trouble for posting something or the other that people deemed offensive.

2) Set your profiles on private: I think this is a great rule since you have some sort of control over who views your profile. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have settings that protect your privacy. However if you work in a field like social media or marketing, doing this may be like shooting yourself in the foot. My Facebook can only be viewed by friends while my Twitter and Instagram are open to the world since I use those accounts for blogging.

3) Google yourself: Googling a person online is the fastest way to learn more about them. Google your name and see what comes up. If there’s anything that could be considered as rude, unprofessional or portrays an image that you don’t want, get rid of it.

4) Delete past posts: Delete posts that are rude, mean or just have a negative air about them. Untag yourself from pictures of alcohol, drugs, that picture of you in the bikini, etc. You don’t want to be seen as a party girl by potential employers (even if that is who you are).

5) Ask a third party to double-check: Get someone you trust to do a Google search on you and evaluate the results as well as checking your social media. Having someone else look through your stuff lets you see how others may view your online presence.

 

While the popularity of social media has killed the concept of privacy, using the tips above can help you use this lack of privacy to your advantage.

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