A Case for Eliminating Annual Reviews

An article in DVM360.com makes an excellent case for eliminating annual reviews. Author, Michael Riegger, presents excellent reasons for handling the entire process more immediately and more efficiently. One of the most important reasons to the businesses is that it saves money in the long run. It’s a no-brainer that more satisfied employees, better production, and less turnover save money. There’s nothing in Riegger’s article that doesn’t apply to any business in any industry.

This is an idea that’s time has come. Like a lot of  “we’ve always done it that way” or “we have to do it that way for … reasons”, there comes a time when change is beneficial and necessary. Employees in large companies often go their entire first year of employment without having any idea what their goals  are or how their performance is being measured, right up until they have their first review. How does this help the company or the employee?

Small businesses are often in a position to implement such changes more easily. In addition, small businesses feel improvements more quickly. Yes, it’s necessary to keep records and document counseling. However, it doesn’t take any longer to do it now than it does to write a note, file it, and try to figure it out months later, after the incorrect behavior becomes ingrained. Riegger’s idea is timely and right on.

Meanwhile, since this idea may not get widespread implementation in the near future, employees need to be encouraged to ask for feedback and take constructive criticism with an open mind.  Improving the working conditions benefits everyone. Therefore, encourage your employees to be an active  part of the team and take time to give carefully considered advice when you first notice a problem.

It’s time to nix employee reviews

Moving to find work

I answered a question on LinkedIn about nationwide job searches and moving to find work. That subject comes up regularly. Therefore, I’m posting the answer here with some minor edits.

In this market, you have to recognize that it’s not the employer’s problem that you live out-of-state. The company is likely to have plenty of good candidates. That said, it’s incumbent on the applicant to be available, flexible, and willing to make it work.

You need to do all of that without whining to the employer, who often has doubts about not hiring a local person anyway. Be prepared to be on the work site quickly, if you get the job. The logistics of moving is your problem. You aren’t being hired to be babysat, and it’s not up to the employer to make life convenient for you.

Does that sound harsh? Many people with solid experience, degrees, and good skills are lined up for jobs. Some of the best opportunities may not be local. One person I know got three offers out-of-state, but nothing local came through.

If you are unemployed, you have to decide whether having a paycheck, benefits, and a tight budget are better than being uninsured, on unemployment, or out of unemployment. Start thinking about the possibility of other locations as soon as you need to look for work. You’ll be in a better position to make it work if you don’t wait until your resources are exhausted.

Family matters are a personal issue. Some people can, and will, take a job and simply state that it’s a necessity. Others can’t deal with family pressure when there’s dissension. Know where you stand before you try to make a move this big. If you are asked how the family feels about the move, you probably can’t lie that well.

Always check the cost of living (COL) before looking for jobs in a new area. Can you really take a job at the same salary and move to an area with a 28% higher COL? Price cheap living options in a new job location. Do you have a camper? Check for small RV parks with cheap monthly rates, and look at studio apartments with utilities paid. Then, reduce your current budget to bare bones. Know where you stand. Also, be sure you are a person who can live on a shoe-string and maintain absolute control of the budget. Locate resources before the interview and be prepared to move quickly and make informed decisions.

Also, if a job offers relocation, be sure to ask what that means. A relocation of $7,500 may cover relocation for a single person with a small apartment, but it may not even cover the moving van–much less the incidentals–for a family with large home. Relocation no longer automatically means a full package deal. Remember, it might take a long time to sell a home too.

There are questions you need to answer before you make a commitment. Are you willing to live apart from the family for a year or more? Will the salary allow you to pay for travel home? Can you rent your home and manage the maintenance from a distance? Do you have friends or family who can act as property manager–without straining the relationship? Is the job in an area you want to live? Or, is your goal to be employed in your present hometown when the economy improves? Do you understand that once you take a job out of town it may be harder to get one in town again–especially in the near future? You’ll be in the same position–again, in reverse. Does your spouse have to work? Is he/she willing and able to relocate? These are just some of the key questions.

If you present yourself with confidence, the employer’s misgivings will be greatly reduced. The fact that you’ve done your research and have answers for his concerns further assures him/her of your ability to handle the changes. If you’ve been through successful relocation previously, be sure to point out those successes too.

The fellow with three offers out-of-state took one of those and ended up making more money than he did before he was laid off, even when there wasn’t a job to be found locally. It’s all a matter of what a person is willing to sacrifice to make it work. Any nationwide/international search requires planning, organization, and sacrifice. There will be unexpected changes and challenges.

You may need to pay for the interview travel costs yourself too. Don’t count on softening the employer on that. Don’t interview for anything you don’t really want either.

Think your company is doing OK?

Think you don’t need a current resume?

Don’t be surprised by a change in your job status. It’s smart in this economy to watch the market all the time, even if you feel safe.  Sign up for search engines to send a weekly email with local jobs in your field. Keep in touch with people in your network and make new contacts.

If you don’t want to make a move, at least be prepared. It’s smart. Just ask any Boy or Girl Scout. It’s even smarter in the present economy, because it takes much less change in the economy to tip a company the wrong way.

Here are three key tips:

1. Have a savings account. If that’s not possible, have a list of what you could sell quickly and easily if the worst happened.

2. Know your local resources. I’m not just talking about employers. Where are the church food banks? Clothing help for the kids for school clothes? Is there a pet food bank for dog food? Assess your needs and find the resources now. You won’t have weeks or months to search them out if you need them, and you don’t want those needs to interfere with your job search.

3. Set up job searches online now. Try different services and find out which ones pull the most in your field. Experiment. You can turn them off, or limit the updates once you find the best of the best. But, best of all, you won’t waste time going through all that when your next meal depends on finding a new employer. In the process, you may find the perfect job too.

Good luck.

Get Job Application Feedback Online

According to one article, Career Builder and Monster offer features that give feedback to job applicants who use their online services to apply for jobs. This offers you the opportunity to see how you compare to other applicants that use those services. It won’t help you learn anything about people who don’t go through the same service. However, this could net some valuable information. Just keep in mind that you need to use these services judiciously and correctly. Read the article linked to this post for more details and good tips.

Online job searches are best done with an organized plan and with resumes that are customized for the job and set up specifically for electronic processing. Using appropriate key words and a bit of SEO work can help your resume make it to the top of the pile too. Don’t overdo it, but don’t try to use a one-size-fits-all form either. If you need help, it’s worth a few dollars to get it done right. You can use those examples to learn to do it yourself once you see a professional do it.

People with higher-level technical and executive searches, who want to manage their own search, can still benefit from having someone help with the writing and planning and tracking.  The new features on Career Builder and Monster may, or may not, be of benefit. It depends on the industry and type of search. Today, electronic searches are waged all the way up the line. Networking is great, but a good search can find unexpected opportunities too. The people I talk to tend to use both.

Six No-No’s During A Holiday Job Search

Keep up your job search over the holidays. Although you may be busy and want to forget the problems for a while, so does everyone else. Take advantage of the holiday season and keep actively looking for the right position. Be willing to schedule an interview the day before or the day after a holiday. Be available and demonstrate that your job search still has priority. If you are there, while someone else is out of town, you may end up on the short list in a hurry.  While this is the season to be jolly, there are some things that you should not do.

  1. Don’t wear the Santa socks and a reindeer tie to the interview. Save the humor to entertain others after you are hired and know whether this company is a fit for that type of humor.
  2. Don’t talk come to an interview obviously suffering from last night’s party.  If you can’t hide it and function at your peak, don’t party before an interview.
  3. Don’t bring gifts or food to an interview. Your heart may be in the right place, but those things may be against company policy.  Drop the food gifts on your friends, family, veterinarian, beautician, barber, doctor, and others you know.
  4. Don’t serve liquor, if you arrange a networking party during the holidays. You won’t have to worry about everyone getting home safe (there’s liability for hosts in some states). You also won’t have to worry about anyone misbehaving from over indulging.
  5. Don’t be late due to traffic or weather. Promptness demonstrates your ability to plan and control your schedule. Check the weather reports and allow enough time. If you are early, you can review your notes or take a few moments to visit the restroom and relax a bit. Of course, you don’t have control over flight cancellations or delays, but you do control your personal schedule and transportation.
  6. Don’t decorate your resume for the holidays. It will stand out, but not in the way you intend. Save your creative talents to help decorate at home.

Now, enjoy your holidays and keep looking for that perfect job. You could end up with a lot more reasons to celebrate!