Finding Work as a Writer if You Received a Degree in Biology

January 28th, 2014

People often choose their majors in college based on what it is they enjoy studying. Then, after graduating, they find that taking classes and finding actual employment are two different things entirely.

If you find yourself in this position, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of landing your dream job, even if your resume shows a degree in something totally unrelated.

Determine What Skills Are Transferable

Choose any two jobs in this world, and odds are you will find that at least some of the basic skills they require overlap: waitresses and politicians both need good communication skills, pharmacists and bankers both need to keep careful track of customer records. If you want to be a writer, but are working as a lab assistant, ask if you can help draft the lab reports. If you landed a job at the zoo with your science degree, offer to help out with the monthly newsletter. Look at postings for jobs you would like to have and determine what skills you can work on in your current position.

Gather Experience In The Field You Want To Be In

The easiest way to gain experience in the industry your aiming at is to volunteer. Aspiring writers can write website content for local non-profits. If you’ve decided history is your passion, volunteer as a docent at your local museum or cultural center. If you are uncertain what industry you would like to land in, consider working temporary assignments to test the waters. With a little creativity, you can add a job description to your resume that shows where your true interests lie.

Figure Out How To Be The Exception.

Yes, architects are highly trained, but you need not hold the degree to work in the office. Likewise, you don’t have to be a cinematographer to get a job on a movie set. In any industry there are positions where a diverse background will be an asset. You just have to find them. Use your network to ask for introductions to people who are doing work you find exciting, then ask them how you can get involved.

It’s not uncommon for people to end up working in an industry that has nothing to do with what they studied in school. Interests change over the years, people grow. If you find yourself being drawn toward an occupation you didn’t expect, keep an open mind and focus on using the skills you have to find the job you want.


One Simple Way To Improve Employee Morale

January 21st, 2014

At a TEDx conference in 2012, behavioral economist Dan Ariely presented an eye-opening experiment that reveals our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work.

His experiment tested three groups of people, paying them to edit a simple page of text.

  1. The first group wrote their names on their papers, and when they handed in their work the administrator would scan the page visually, nod once, say “uh-huh,” and then put the page in a stack face down.
  2. The second group did not write their names on their papers, and when they handed it in, the administrator would look briefly (without scanning it), say nothing, and then set it face down on the stack.
  3. The third group also did not put their name on their work, but when they handed their papers in, the administrator did not look at it. Instead, the administrator put the work directly into a paper shredder.

The study found that participants in group one were willing to work for much less monetary gain than those in group three, signifying, not surprisingly, that people care about whether or not their work matters.

What was most interesting about the experiment, however, was how the people in the middle group reacted.

It turns out that people who felt their work was ignored had almost the same reaction as people who saw their work shredded. Simply looking at the work people turned in, reviewing it for two seconds and saying “uh-huh” nearly doubled worker satisfaction. What’s more, with even the slightest bit of recognition, employees were willing to work for far less financial gain.

This data points toward the importance of employee recognition. What’s more, it shows us that it doesn’t take a lot to keep our employees motivated and engaged. A simple head nod, and a word or two are enough.

So as we manage our workers in this busy, fast paced world, keep in mind that your feedback matters to your employees. Remember the simple head nod and pair it with the frequent use of “uh-huh.” It is the one simple thing a supervisor can do to improve morale and keep productivity high.

To see Dan Ariely’s presentation in its entirety, click here.

New Harassment Prevention for 2014

January 14th, 2014

Laws regarding harassment in the work place are ever evolving to define employee rights and to promote fair practices in hiring, firing, promotion and disciplinary action. During the 2013 legislative season, Governor Brown signed a number of bills affecting employment, four of which will change the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

To kick off 2014, we’d like to share some basic information on those four bills, along with our thoughts on what employers need to do to incorporate the new provisions moving forward. (Please note that the following is not intended as legal advice. Should you have specific questions about how the new laws affect your business, please contact a certified legal advisor.)

AB 556

AB 556 prohibits discrimination against members of the armed services by adding “military and veteran status” to the list of characteristics protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). “Military and veteran status” refers to a member or veteran of the Armed Forces, Reserve, or National Guard. What to do: Employers should review their employment policies and handbooks to make sure this new category of protected worker is included in writing.

SB 400

SB 400 extends existing protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault (Labor Code 230) to victims of stalking. It also prohibits discrimination against, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for, employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. What to do: Employers should design a protocol for handling requests for time off under SB 400, and communicate with supervisors regarding their obligations under this law.

SB 288

SB 288 prohibits discrimination against victims (and their immediate family members) of certain violent crimes (including domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking) for taking time off to appear at a court proceeding. What to do: Employers should design a protocol for handling requests for time off under SB 288, and establish a procedure for obtaining the appropriate documentation to verify the need for time off.

SB 292

SB 292 clarifies that in sexual harassment lawsuits it is not necessary to prove that a harasser was motivated by sexual desire. What to do: Employers should provide anti-harassment training to all supervisors, emphasizing how the new law recognizes that sexual harassment need not be characterized or motivated by intent or desire.

A New Year

Keep in mind that after January 1, 2014, the content of AB 1825 trainings must reflect the above changes. Fortunately, the new laws do not require drastic alterations, but rather subtle shifts toward greater inclusion. Should you have further questions regarding the bills, please contact a certified legal advisor.