Browsing: On The Job

The first rule about checking references of job applicants is to check references; don’t forgo reference checks on the assumption that speaking to a reference will automatically be analogous to speaking to the president of your applicant’s fan club. In reality, even enthusiastic references are often surprisingly candid about an applicant’s limitations. What’s more, reference checks may be the best way to flag professionals who are skilled at winning over hiring managers but can’t recruit good references because they have poor track records. A case in point: I know a mean-spirited scientist who had made it to the final cut…

In the musical chairs of life, you may eventually leave your job for a better one. When you do so, you should try to leave your job as gracefully and smoothly as possible. Some tips to help you move on without messing up: Don’t resign from your current job until you have received a final written agreement from your future employer (if you’re not retiring). Within reason, try to set your start date on your new job far away enough to give yourself enough time to tie up loose ends on your current job, say your goodbyes, and complete activities…

Even if you have the best boss in the world, you are, at most, only his second most important priority. So you can’t rely on him or anyone else to steer you around professional speed bumps and guide you toward career-boosting opportunities. You’re the only person in the world who has a 100-percent stake in your career, so it is up to you to manage your climb up the career ladder. Here are some tips to help you do so: The General Schedule salary table has 15 grades, representing successively higher levels of seniority and salary. In most cases, feds…

If you’re a fed working on the General Schedule  pay scale, you may, in most cases, be eligible for a grade increase once you’ve fulfilled your time-in-grade requirement, which is usually one year. Common ways to land a grade increase are to: Earn a promotion on a job that has promotion potential. Convince your supervisor to upgrade your current position if it doesn’t have promotion potential but has evolved into a higher level position since you were hired into it. Your supervisor may be able to justify such an upgrade on the basis of a so-called “accretion of duties.” Land…

Generally, you should — if possible — begin to seek greener pastures when your current job stops offering new intellectual, managerial and financial opportunities, and/or fails to provide a respectful/dignified work environment — and probably won’t do so in the foreseeable future. However, during my many years as a fed, I have known many intelligent, energetic and accomplished professionals who passively stayed at their jobs for many years after their positions had become hopelessly unrewarding or unpleasant, without attempting to seek new opportunities. Why? In many cases, because they were afraid of change. To keep advancing, your fear of not…

Despite its title, the Office of Personnel Management’s new “Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption, and Foster Care” is also a helpful resource for childless feds. But this handbook doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about maximizing leave time and avoiding sacrificing leave due you. Some highlights on this topic: If you’ve been preapproved to take leave on a day that ends up being a snow day, you will be charged for that leave anyway. So, if you’re planning to take leave on a day that may overlap with a snow day, consider delaying your…

A work group that successfully collaborates on a project is analogous to an orchestra: Each musician in an orchestra produces a distinct, vital sound that harmoniously fuses with those of his fellow musicians into a symphony. Likewise, each member of an effective team produces a distinct, vital contribution that harmoniously integrates with those of his colleagues into an impressive final product. But just as one out-of-tune musician may cause a symphony to disintegrate into discordant tones, an uncooperative colleague can doom a team’s group project. So how should you deal with an uncooperative colleague who is fouling your…

Government agencies don’t track “billable hours” as do consulting firms, therefore costs of staff time spent in government meetings are uncounted and usually ignored. This lack of cost accountability can help encourage unnecessary government meetings and unnecessarily long meetings. Any time you’re in an unproductive meeting, you may calculate some of its hidden costs by multiplying the approximate hourly salary of each meeting attendee by the meeting length, and adding together these salary costs. Shocking though the results of your calculations will probably be, they won’t even include the uncountable costs of delays on projects caused by the staff time…

Particularly if you use it strategically, the various forms of positive professional feedback you receive may help you accelerate your advancement and boost your salary. Here’s why: Outstanding evaluations may help you land promotions. Some federal job applications require submission of annual evaluations. So, the better your evaluation, the bigger boost it will give your application. But even if you’re applying for jobs that don’t require evaluations, brandish your outstanding evaluation anyway to strengthen your case. How? By uploading it to your application as an optional document and by including it in the success portfolio you bring to interviews. Also,…

Most new hires in competitive service agencies must complete one year of probation and most new hires in excepted service agencies must complete two years of probation. New hires can usually be fired more easily and quickly while on probation than after, and they have fewer appeal rights than post-probationary employees. The overwhelming majority of new hires complete probation successfully. But because of the high stakes of probation, it’s important for probationers and their supervisors to understand relevant rules. This has not always been the case, according to “The Probationary Period: A Critical Assessment Opportunity” by the Merit Systems Protection…

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