Tag Archives: Jobs

The People to Connect with At Each Stage in Your Career

Networking is important to finding a job, a mentor, and moving forward in your career, but depending on where you are on the career ladder, some connections are more helpful than others. Here are the people who will help you most at each stage of your career.

These relationships take a lot of energy and time cultivate and maintain, so focus on the right ones for where you’re at, and where you want to go next, in your career. Connecting with only upper management or extremely experienced people won’t always be the most helpful.

  • Just Starting Out: When you’re looking for your first job, or first transition to a new job, reach out to your family and alumni. Both are groups that you already have a connection with, which helps when you haven’t been working long enough to build a strong network.
  • Three to Five Years In: Look to a former manager for a mentor or solid referral as you make the jump up the career ladder to other opportunities. If you’re interested in taking on a junior-management role, a recruiter can help you find the right position.
  • Mid-Career: Former coworkers who are now at other companies are a strong source of referrals when you want to move jobs, or even switch careers.
  • Senior Level: If you want to find open senior level roles, keep in touch with people you’ve managed before and been a great boss to. They’re the ones who can vouch for you and let you know when senior positions open up at their companies.

While the above list focuses on the people who can help you most, remember that professional relationships are a two-way street. None of these people will help you if you only reach out in a time of need, so build these relationships before you need them.

These Are The Most Important People In Your Network At Each Stage Of Your Career | Fast Company

Image from fruitnet.

What a Hiring Manager Is Actually Thinking During Your Interview

What a Hiring Manager Is Actually Thinking During Your Interview

Whether you’ve interviewed over one million times or can count on one hand how many times you’ve been face-to-face with a hiring manager, the process is always stressful. Not only are you trying your hardest to present the very best version of yourself, you’re also attempting to read your audience and gather as much information as you can about the role, the company culture, and the organization itself. No pressure.

Ask any manager what it’s like to make a hiring decision and she’ll most likely tell you that it’s no easy task for her, either. Making the right choice can be difficult–especially when she’s choosing from a group of well-qualified applicants. So how can you tip the scales in your favor? In addition to coming to each and every interview well-prepared, try putting yourself in the shoes of the person sitting across from you.

Last time I checked, no one has yet figured out how to read minds, but we can get pretty close by addressing the five common thoughts almost every hiring manager probably has during your interview.

1. Can I Manage This Person?

A supervisor isn’t going to hire someone that he doesn’t believe he can work with. Managers come in all shapes and sizes–some are hands-off and expect their employees to do what they need to do with little or no supervision. Others like to receive daily updates, religiously review timecards, and schedule regular check-in meetings with their staff. If you like to get regular feedback and crave facetime with your supervisor, a laid-back person may not be the best fit for you. Conversely, if you’re an independent operator who relishes autonomy, a hands-on supervisor probably isn’t a great match for your work style.

So when your potential future boss begins thinking about your match as manager and employee during your interview, what can you do? To start, you can show that you are a great listener by making eye contact, taking notes, asking questions, and giving thoughtful answers. Mention that you pride yourself on taking accountability for your workplace contributions, appreciate constructive feedback, and are excited about continuing to grow your skill set. Demonstrating a willingness to own your work, listen, and learn will definitely score a few points in your favor.

At some point during the meeting, you should also get an opportunity to pose a few questions. Try asking your potential supervisor how she would describe her management style. If her answer is in line with your preferences, say, “That sounds great! I find that I work really well with managers who are hands on and provide lots of detailed feedback,” or “That is very much in line with my work style. Having a certain degree of autonomy to get my work done helps me to maximize my productivity.”

If you discover that your future boss’ leadership style isn’t one that works for you, it may be time to evaluate whether or not this is the job for you.

http://lifehacker.com/what-hiring-ma…

2. Does This Person Truly Understand This Role?

Interviewers want to be sure that you not only know what you’d be getting yourself into, but that you’ve done your homework. Be sure that you’ve thoroughly reviewed the job description before your interview, and make an effort to relate your existing experience back to the responsibilities you would have in the role you’re being considered for.

Most hiring managers typically start off with a couple of simple questions like, “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you interested in this position?” These are perfect opportunities to demonstrate your understanding of the role. Say something that indicates you get what the job entails and why your background is a solid match, “I have four years of production management experience and specialize in vendor relations. I know vendor management would be an important component of this role, which is why I am particularly excited about this opportunity,” or “I am passionate about social media and am specifically targeting opportunities that will allow me to grow my expertise in this area. I know one of my primary responsibilities in this role would be writing and scheduling tweets for the company’s Twitter account, and I have some great ideas for how I can help you to grow your followers.”

Another great way to show that you understand what you’re interviewing for is to ask questions about the role once you’ve demonstrated that you’ve done more than just read the job description. Saying, “What kind of traffic goals do you have for Twitter, and what resources do you think will help you reach that goal?”

Whenever you can go beyond the job listing to show an impressive grasp of the role’s responsibilities, you should do so. It’s a waste of both your and the recruiter’s time to only rehash what’s involved in the position.

3. Is This Person Actually Excited About Working Here?

Similar to having an in-depth understanding of the potential opportunity, it’s important to show that you are genuinely excited about the organization as a whole. Of course, not every interview is going to be with your dream company, but try your best to find something that is interesting to you.

Was the company recently named one of the best places to work in your area? Is the department you’d be working in creating innovative new products? Was the CEO recently mentioned in a well-respected publication? Spend some time researching and reading any recent, relevant articles that you can reference during the interview.

Along with wondering if you’re truly excited about the opportunity, an interviewer will want to gauge whether you’re a good fit. During the meeting, take the opportunity to ask about the team, their work style, and the company culture. Not only will this show that you are genuinely engrossed in learning about the organization as a whole and not just focused on the position you’re applying for, but it will demonstrate that you, too, care about being the right person for the job.

http://lifehacker.com/what-the-peopl…

4. Will This Person Make Me Look Good?

To a certain degree, an employee’s performance is a reflection on her supervisor. Your potential future boss wants to be sure that if she takes a day off or can’t make it to a meeting, you’ll still be on top of your game. If you do superb work and present yourself well, she looks good too. If you’re goofing off while the boss is on vacation or don’t proofread that super important email, the person she reports to probably won’t be too happy with either of you.

What is the best way to assure your future manager that you are totally trustworthy? Find out what she values in a team member. Try asking, “What traits are most important to you in an employee?” or “What are your expectations of the person who steps into this role?” If her answers line up with your work style, be sure to tell her that. For example, if your interviewer says she values clear communication above all else, say, “I couldn’t agree more. I am always striving to keep my team and my manager looped in on my progress, workload, and availability. I’ve found that maintaining open lines of communication goes a long way toward optimizing productivity and teamwork.”

At the end of your interview, when your future supervisor asks if you have anything to add, try leading with, “I really appreciate all of the information you’ve shared with me about what it’s like to work here and your expectations for this role. I think that my experience and work style would be a great fit for this team. I want you to know that as an employee, you can expect me to be proactive, responsive, and deadline-oriented.”

This type of response shows that you’ve been paying attention and is a good indication of your professional demeanor.

5. When’s Lunch?

Interviewing can be grueling for the people on the other side of the desk, too—especially if the hiring manager is meeting with multiple candidates back-to-back. This doesn’t happen during every interview, but sometimes an interviewer’s mind will wander. He might be hungry, he might be tired, or he might be distracted by a looming deadline, but regardless of the reason for the distraction, it does happen.

Obviously you can’t control the external factors that may be affecting your interviewer’s state of mind, but you can work on becoming the most interesting and engaging interviewee you can be. Recruit a friend to help you practice some commonly asked interview questions and ask for feedback on your body language, eye contact, tone of voice, and the content of your answers. Are you looking down when you talk or speaking in a dull, monotone voice? If you don’t seem interested in your own answers, you can’t expect anyone else to be either.

Another key trick to remember? Keep your answers short and sweet. A lot of people tend to ramble when they’re nervous and that can make this meeting feel like it’s dragging on and on. Try crafting exceptional responses using this simple formula: answer + example + result. For example, in response to, “How do you manage your time?” say, “I manage my time by prioritizing my responsibilities. For example, if I’m working on two projects simultaneously, I will always tackle the one that is more complex or due sooner first. This has helped me to be very effective in my past roles. In fact, I regularly get compliments on my ability to juggle a large workload without missing deadlines.”

Keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to simply tell your interviewer what you think she wants to hear. The goal is to proactively address questions she’s probably asking herself during your meeting. The purpose of an interview isn’t to land a job, it’s for you and your potential future employer to assess whether or not you’re a fit for each other. Coming well-prepared and playing an active role in your interview will serve this purpose while making you look like an all-star in the process.

5 Things a Hiring Manager’s Probably Thinking During Your Interview (and What to Do About It) | The Muse


Jaclyn Westlake is a job search enthusiast, LinkedIn addict, and certified senior human resources professional. She’s also a resume writer, career advisor, and the founder of The Job Hop. When she’s not dishing out career insights or writing amazing resumes, you can probably find her wandering around a book store, binging on the latest Netflix release, or kayaking with her adorable dachshund, Indiana Jones. Top image by iluistrator (Shutterstock).

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Getting a job—whether it’s your first or your tenth—isn’t easy, even if you have all the right skills and experience. Luckily there are a few tools that, once you have them and use them, can boost your chances of landing not just any job, but one you’ll enjoy.

10. Free Resume Templates

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

The first step to a better job is a better resume. If you have one and it just needs a little layout and design love, or you want something simple to give you a jumpstart, check out Google Docs’ free resume templates, which we’ve highlighted before, or these free resume templates for Microsoft Word. If you’d rather try something that lets you fill in the blanks, try a resume builder like ineedaresu.me. Once you have that awesome resume, make sure it’s well formatted to get you past applicant screening systems and robots.

9. A Better Resume Builder

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Speaking of a resume builder, if you’re a creative professional, or you just like the idea of a modern resume, you can go all out with a builder tool like the previously mentioned EnhanCV or a similar tool we’ve highlighted, Sumry. If those are too modern for you, CV Maker is a bit more down to earth and simple, and produces resumes that look a bit more traditional. Which is right for you largely depends on your style, and the industry you’re trying to get a job in.

Similarly, if you want a jumpstart without typing in a ton of information, consider LinkedIn’s resume builder. It works really well, and if for some reason it doesn’t, Creddle is another service that will build a resume for you based on your LinkedIn profile—which should, we hope, be indicative of your experience and skills.

8. Company Review Sites (like Glassdoor)

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Before you go blindly hunting for job titles you’d like to have, or even companies you’d like to work at, make sure to check out what current employees are saying about them over at Glassdoor. The site is invaluable for job searchers eager to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work at a company, in a specific role, and how much you can expect to make if you get an offer. Even if you’re familiar with it in general, it’s worth looking at.

At the same time, don’t limit yourself to just Glassdoor. If you’re a woman looking for a company that’s not full of garbage people, consider checking out FairyGodboss, a site dedicated to giving women a place to discuss issues that matter to them in a company, and rating their employers accordingly. If you’re concerned with work/life balance and making sure a potential employer respects yours, WorkDifferent works hard to make sure they only work with and highlight companies that actually care about their employees.

7. Salary Comparison Sites (like Salary.com)

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Speaking of learning how much you’ll make when you get that offer, make sure you do your homework on how much you’re worth before you hit the interview circuit. Salary.com and PayScale.com (as well as previously mentioned Glassdoor) all provide valuable information on how much you can expect a given job to pay, based on where you live, and other companies in the same field. For even more information, check out Comparably, a new service that crowdsources the information and lets submitters stay anonymous, so no one has to worry they’ll get in trouble for publicizing their company’s pay rates.

6. Field-Specific Job Boards

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

So you have a new resume, you have some compensation in mind, and you’re ready to go looking for a new gig. Before you throw your resume up on the major job boards (which you should do, to be clear) like Indeed and CareerBuilder, and hope for the best, you should also look into job boards and sites that are specific to your industry or niche.

For example, previously mentioned LanceList is a great tool for collecting openings on various freelance job boards, while MediaBistro is pretty much essential for anyone in the writing, journalism, or new media fields and HealtheCareers is useful for people looking for jobs in health care and medical fields.

5. Contact Managers that Remind You to Follow Up

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

When you do apply for a new job, or you email back and forth with a hiring manager, recruiter, or HR professional, your next step is to make sure you keep the conversation going and keep talking—even if you’re not terribly sure you’re going to get the job, you never know when someone will be useful in your professional network. Pick up a contacts app that will help you remember to follow up—or encourage you to reach out to your contacts—on a regular basis.

Previously mentioned JobHero is great for this, and it helps organize your entire job search to boot. NextCall is also useful for this, and it can help you remember to follow up with lots of people, not just job prospects. Also, remember, a reminder is just that—you don’t have to follow up if you don’t think it’s right, and you certainly don’t have to be annoying when you do.

4. A “Work Diary”

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

The value of keeping a work diary goes well beyond just getting a new job, but once you’re on the hunt for one, you’ll be glad you have one. A work diary can help you keep track of your successes (and avoid your past mistakes,) keep you motivated, and also help you identify your biggest achievements so you can use them to argue for a raise—or in this context, flesh out your resume with glowing achievements and clearly explain to a hiring manager why you’re the right person for the job. Trust us, start yours today.

3. A Job Explorer or Career Finder

Don’t get stuck in thinking that because you’re always done a specific job that you always have to do a specific job, or that it’s all your qualified for. Job explorers like the one at Glassdoor or previously mentioned MySkills My Future can help you find jobs you may have never thought would be right for you, but do make use of the skills and experience you have in the jobs you’ve worked.

You never know, you might find a great job option that you’d never considered before—but might be just what you need to give yourself a career tune up or shake yourself out of a career rut.

2. Social Media

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

You probably know that good presence on Facebook and Twitter are important to landing a good job—and that you can even find jobs through social media by connecting with the companies you want to work for. Those are all great things, and you should definitely do them, but social networks can actually do much more for your job search.

For example, consider joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to chat with other people in the field you’re in and working in different companies to connect, share stories, and talk about the skills needed to get new jobs and get promoted. If you don’t see any, start one—or take it a step further and start a MeetUp group in your area and connect with other professionals in your area.

1. A Strong Professional Network

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Probably the best and most effective tool you can have in your arsenal to land a new or better job is a strong professional network, full of people who know your skills and capabilities, and can open doors or vouch for you. If you don’t have one, it’s time to get started building one. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a gross, self-promoting process to build one. After all, a professional network is just a group of working adults willing to help each other out with work-related stuff when they can. Keep that in mind, and don’t forget to network down, too.

Not sure how strong your network is? Try the “layoff test,” or “if I got laid off today, which ten people would I call to talk to?” If you don’t have ten people, it’s time to make some calls, step up your networking game, and of course, make sure you reach out to friends and colleagues and see how you can help them, so maybe they’ll return the favor when you need it.


Lifehacker’s Weekend Roundup gathers our best guides, explainers, and other posts on a certain subject so you can tackle big projects with ease. For more, check out our Weekend Roundup and Top 10 tags.

Title illustration by Fruzsina Kuhári. Additional photos by Frederik Rubensson and the Everett Collection (Shutterstock).

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Getting a job—whether it’s your first or your tenth—isn’t easy, even if you have all the right skills and experience. Luckily there are a few tools that, once you have them and use them, can boost your chances of landing not just any job, but one you’ll enjoy.

10. Free Resume Templates

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

The first step to a better job is a better resume. If you have one and it just needs a little layout and design love, or you want something simple to give you a jumpstart, check out Google Docs’ free resume templates, which we’ve highlighted before, or these free resume templates for Microsoft Word. If you’d rather try something that lets you fill in the blanks, try a resume builder like ineedaresu.me. Once you have that awesome resume, make sure it’s well formatted to get you past applicant screening systems and robots.

9. A Better Resume Builder

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Speaking of a resume builder, if you’re a creative professional, or you just like the idea of a modern resume, you can go all out with a builder tool like the previously mentioned EnhanCV or a similar tool we’ve highlighted, Sumry. If those are too modern for you, CV Maker is a bit more down to earth and simple, and produces resumes that look a bit more traditional. Which is right for you largely depends on your style, and the industry you’re trying to get a job in.

Similarly, if you want a jumpstart without typing in a ton of information, consider LinkedIn’s resume builder. It works really well, and if for some reason it doesn’t, Creddle is another service that will build a resume for you based on your LinkedIn profile—which should, we hope, be indicative of your experience and skills.

8. Company Review Sites (like Glassdoor)

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Before you go blindly hunting for job titles you’d like to have, or even companies you’d like to work at, make sure to check out what current employees are saying about them over at Glassdoor. The site is invaluable for job searchers eager to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work at a company, in a specific role, and how much you can expect to make if you get an offer. Even if you’re familiar with it in general, it’s worth looking at.

At the same time, don’t limit yourself to just Glassdoor. If you’re a woman looking for a company that’s not full of garbage people, consider checking out FairyGodboss, a site dedicated to giving women a place to discuss issues that matter to them in a company, and rating their employers accordingly. If you’re concerned with work/life balance and making sure a potential employer respects yours, WorkDifferent works hard to make sure they only work with and highlight companies that actually care about their employees.

7. Salary Comparison Sites (like Salary.com)

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Speaking of learning how much you’ll make when you get that offer, make sure you do your homework on how much you’re worth before you hit the interview circuit. Salary.com and PayScale.com (as well as previously mentioned Glassdoor) all provide valuable information on how much you can expect a given job to pay, based on where you live, and other companies in the same field. For even more information, check out Comparably, a new service that crowdsources the information and lets submitters stay anonymous, so no one has to worry they’ll get in trouble for publicizing their company’s pay rates.

6. Field-Specific Job Boards

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

So you have a new resume, you have some compensation in mind, and you’re ready to go looking for a new gig. Before you throw your resume up on the major job boards (which you should do, to be clear) like Indeed and CareerBuilder, and hope for the best, you should also look into job boards and sites that are specific to your industry or niche.

For example, previously mentioned LanceList is a great tool for collecting openings on various freelance job boards, while MediaBistro is pretty much essential for anyone in the writing, journalism, or new media fields and HealtheCareers is useful for people looking for jobs in health care and medical fields.

5. Contact Managers that Remind You to Follow Up

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

When you do apply for a new job, or you email back and forth with a hiring manager, recruiter, or HR professional, your next step is to make sure you keep the conversation going and keep talking—even if you’re not terribly sure you’re going to get the job, you never know when someone will be useful in your professional network. Pick up a contacts app that will help you remember to follow up—or encourage you to reach out to your contacts—on a regular basis.

Previously mentioned JobHero is great for this, and it helps organize your entire job search to boot. NextCall is also useful for this, and it can help you remember to follow up with lots of people, not just job prospects. Also, remember, a reminder is just that—you don’t have to follow up if you don’t think it’s right, and you certainly don’t have to be annoying when you do.

4. A “Work Diary”

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

The value of keeping a work diary goes well beyond just getting a new job, but once you’re on the hunt for one, you’ll be glad you have one. A work diary can help you keep track of your successes (and avoid your past mistakes,) keep you motivated, and also help you identify your biggest achievements so you can use them to argue for a raise—or in this context, flesh out your resume with glowing achievements and clearly explain to a hiring manager why you’re the right person for the job. Trust us, start yours today.

3. A Job Explorer or Career Finder

Don’t get stuck in thinking that because you’re always done a specific job that you always have to do a specific job, or that it’s all your qualified for. Job explorers like the one at Glassdoor or previously mentioned MySkills My Future can help you find jobs you may have never thought would be right for you, but do make use of the skills and experience you have in the jobs you’ve worked.

You never know, you might find a great job option that you’d never considered before—but might be just what you need to give yourself a career tune up or shake yourself out of a career rut.

2. Social Media

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

You probably know that good presence on Facebook and Twitter are important to landing a good job—and that you can even find jobs through social media by connecting with the companies you want to work for. Those are all great things, and you should definitely do them, but social networks can actually do much more for your job search.

For example, consider joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to chat with other people in the field you’re in and working in different companies to connect, share stories, and talk about the skills needed to get new jobs and get promoted. If you don’t see any, start one—or take it a step further and start a MeetUp group in your area and connect with other professionals in your area.

1. A Strong Professional Network

Top 10 Tools to Supercharge Your Job Search

Probably the best and most effective tool you can have in your arsenal to land a new or better job is a strong professional network, full of people who know your skills and capabilities, and can open doors or vouch for you. If you don’t have one, it’s time to get started building one. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a gross, self-promoting process to build one. After all, a professional network is just a group of working adults willing to help each other out with work-related stuff when they can. Keep that in mind, and don’t forget to network down, too.

Not sure how strong your network is? Try the “layoff test,” or “if I got laid off today, which ten people would I call to talk to?” If you don’t have ten people, it’s time to make some calls, step up your networking game, and of course, make sure you reach out to friends and colleagues and see how you can help them, so maybe they’ll return the favor when you need it.


Lifehacker’s Weekend Roundup gathers our best guides, explainers, and other posts on a certain subject so you can tackle big projects with ease. For more, check out our Weekend Roundup and Top 10 tags.

Title illustration by Fruzsina Kuhári. Additional photos by Frederik Rubensson and the Everett Collection (Shutterstock).

How to Use Your Customer Service Experience to Find a New Job

How to Use Your Customer Service Experience to Find a New Job

Many of us start out working in customer service as a stepping stone to our next job, but it can be difficult to figure out how to climb that corporate ladder. A reader on Quora recently asked how they can transition from customer service to something more.

An anonymous reader asked how they can move on from their customer service job and transition to something else that takes advantage of their skills. Jae Alexis Lee, a former customer service manager, responds below:

I’ve helped a lot of agents over the years find their career footing to exit entry-level customer service roles and there are a few words of advice that I’d give anyone looking to make that transition:

Step 1: Assess Your Skills

When you’re leaving customer service for other pastures you really need to start by doing an assessment of what skills you have. In HR speak, we often talk about transferrable skills, or the things that you’ve learned to do at one job that can be useful to another job. It’s easy to be blinded by the things that are a routine part of your day to day job and to think that those skills aren’t important, but extracting those skills and marketing them will make you significantly more appealing to prospective employers in another industry.

It’s easy to look at a customer service job and say: “I just talk to people who yell at me all day long about things that aren’t my fault but they blame me anyway…” and to become dejected about the value of your skills, but take a few steps back and look at the things you do without much thought and ask yourself what you can do with that.

Consumer billing specialists routinely juggle several months of invoices tracking payment histories, service changes, proration, and a number of financial complexities that leave customers bewildered. That’s a useful skill. Technical support specialists frequently find themselves as stand-ins for user training, functioning more as an educator than a repair person. That’s a useful skill.

So when you’re looking to make a move, the first thing you need to do is take a look at what you do, and then figure out what skills you’ve developed that you can take elsewhere.

Step 2: Look for Opportunities to Expand Your Role

Customer service organizations often have a variety of roles that need someone to do work that’s a little bit different from general customer service work. Investing some time and effort in one of these roles can give you an opportunity to further refine the skills you identified in Step 1 and to pick up some additional skills as well.

For some people, that means seeking a defined promotion type of role within the organization: Supervisory, Advanced Technical, Trainer, etc. If available, these positions can be a good place to spend a year or two getting yourself ready for an exit. Even without those formal roles, customer service organizations frequently have needs for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), or people to take on tasks outside the role of Customer Service Representative (CSR).

These roles not only serve as an opportunity to build transferrable skills, but on a resume, they demonstrate that you have performed at a level that’s been recognized with some form of advancement. That looks appealing to future prospective employers who will see that you’re motivated to grow.

Step 3: Don’t Lose Sight of the Job You Have While Preparing for the Job You Want

I feel like it’s important to mention this. I’ve seen lots of CSRs, when they hit the point just before moving into expanded roles or just after, when they’re really starting to hone the skills to make a successful exit, start to fail at doing the job they currently have.

This is the worst kind of short timer’s syndrome to fall victim to. You’re working hard, doing the things that are going to get you ahead, but in the mean time, your existing job duties feel unimportant and become neglected. In some instances, I’ve seen this cost CSRs their promotion into a formal advanced role because their current job performance was considered as part of their evaluation for performance, and in the worst cases, I’ve seen CSRs fired for spending too much time on things that weren’t their job and not enough effort on things that were.

Failing to stay on top of your current job can turn what would have been an opportunity for growth into everything from a lost opportunity to a bad reference to a lost job.

Step 4: Look for an Optimized Exit That Aligns With Your Experience

When you’re looking for that step out of customer service there’s a special set of jobs that allow you to harvest one extra skill for: Industry Knowledge.

Industry knowledge can be part of what makes someone choose you over an equally (or better) qualified outsider and this isn’t something that you should underestimate. Advancement within the same company to a different line of business is the most obvious example but there are many other opportunities to leverage what you already know from time spent in the CSR trenches.

Most CSRs have learned a healthy bit not only about their company’s products and services but about the competitor landscape. You’ve learned about your company’s suppliers and their customers. Aiming your first move to something related to your current position allows you not only to leverage your industry knowledge to get up to speed in a new type of role more quickly, but also lets you see a bigger piece of the puzzle which can be a tremendous asset to your new employer.

Step 5: Don’t Sell Yourself Short

When you finally hit the streets and start circulating that resume, don’t ever sell yourself short. Customer Service Representatives are often under-appreciated and it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing special about you when you’re interviewing. Look back at all of those skills we talked about in Step 1, recognize how far you’ve come and how valuable you can be to someone else using those skills and don’t ever diminish what you’ve learned in the trenches.

If you can’t see value in yourself, employers won’t be able to see it either. If, however, you can sift through all the things you learned while keeping customers happy and you can extract the gold nuggets of transferrable skills… employers will line up to buy what you have to offer.

How do I get out of customer service? originally appeared on Quora. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Image by Maminez (Shutterstock).

How to Get Value Out of Your Crappy Entry-Level Job

How to Get Value Out of Your Crappy Entry-Level Job

During the summer of 1998, I worked a night shift for a research lab in which I shoveled and sifted dirt for eight hours at a time. I hung out in this little room in the basement of a greenhouse that had a chute in which dirt had been dumped. I’d set up a large tub on top of a pushcart, put a screen attachment on top of it, then scoop several shovelfuls of dirt on there. I would then sift that dirt, retaining a few specific items off of the top of the screen, and then do it again. And again. When the cart was full, I’d push it over to the elevator, take it up to the planting rooms, and then retrieve an empty cart and do the same thing again.

This post originally appeared on The Simple Dollar.

That’s about as entry level as you could get. Shoveling and sifting dirt.

Here’s the thing, though. I was part of a team. I had a role to play with that team. I learned about why I was doing it (to make good planting soil for the lab techs to plant seedlings) and how to do it better. Over time, I built a positive reputation within that research lab, moved on to bigger and better projects, and eventually ended up moving to a different lab where I was given a big bump in pay and a lot more responsibility.

That job sifting dirt was a pretty awful job, really. I went home sore every night… or, shall I say, every morning, as it was a night shift job. My hands got callused. I was often very bored with the work.

The truth of the matter, though, was that my choices while at that job did quite a lot to determine whether I stayed there shoveling dirt for years and years or whether I moved on to bigger or better things. By extracting every little bit of value that I could out of that job, I was able to propel myself up the ladder and onto a bright future.

If you have an entry-level job or are about to embark on one, and your view is that the job is just misery, take a different perspective. Look at it like a maple tree. It’s hard. It’s rough on the outside. But with some sensible strategies, you can extract a lot of sweetness from it.

Here are 16 strategies for extracting every bit of value from an entry-level job so that you’re prepared in every dimension to move onto something bigger, better, and brighter.

Have a Good Attitude

This job isn’t your life. It’s an opportunity—a stepping stone to something better. Don’t look at it as misery. Look at it as the first step or two at the bottom of a giant staircase. Look up, not down.

Simply showing up for work in an upbeat mood—or at least showing that you have an upbeat mood—can make all of the difference. It can drastically change the impression others have of you in a very positive way, and it’s often those other people who determine how miserable and how pleasant your job actually is. Don’t grumble about some task you don’t like. Be positive in your interactions with others. Smile, even if you have to force it. Look at your job as the first step on the path to greatness (which it is), and you want to nailthat first step.

How can you do that, though, if you literally hate your job? For me, the best method was to put that hatred on me, not on the others I was working with. If I didn’t like the job or my situation, that was me, not them, and they didn’t deserve to see or hear my negative thoughts. I found other channels for it—namely, I went on these insanely exerting bike rides to pedal out my frustrations. It really helped.

Don’t Idle

One of the worst things you can do at an entry-level job is waste time. Don’t stand around doing nothing. Don’t constantly check your phone when you’re on the job. If you don’t have anything to do immediately, look for things to do.

What if you can’t think of anything? One thing you can always do is maintenance work on the things that you use. Clean the grill. Mop the floor. Run through any checklists of things that need to be done. Clean your tools. If someone else is busy, jump in and take a bit of their load for a while (if it’s entry-level work, you can probably handle some of it).

The worst thing you can do is just stand around. Not only does it make you look really lazy, it also makes the time pass slowly. The time you spend at work actually seems to go by much faster if you’re doing something rather than standing around watching the clock.

Ask Lots of Questions

Often, people take on entry-level jobs without getting the big picture as to why their job is important in the big scheme of things. Since they’re not looking at how their job fulfills an important role, they work mindlessly through their tasks and don’t consider how to do them as well as possible to fulfill the overall mission of the business.

Doing that takes a lot of questions, even at an entry level job, and asking those questions and approaching the job from the perspective of helping the business as a whole is something that is going to definitely get you noticed in a positive way.

What I found at my job was that the best approach was to go to my supervisor when he or she was out and about and easily available and just ask if he could answer some questions about the work. I did this out in front of everyone so there wasn’t any “meeting behind closed doors.” I also sometimes asked questions of the lab techs who weren’t my boss, but had to deal with what I produced.

I asked about all kinds of details. I asked about how the dirt was used and what I could do to make the dirt carts as easy as possible to use for the planting technicians. Where do I put the carts? How full should the bins be? I asked where all of the gear should be stored and how it should be maintained, so I started taking about fifteen minutes at the end of my shift to clean the gear and put it away in the way that my supervisor suggested (other people just left shovels laying on the floor and such).

I found that asking questions almost always led me to the best way of doing my job. I learned why I was doing these things and how to do things so that they were maximally useful to others so that the overall goals of the lab were accomplished more efficiently. The end result wasn’t that I did things much better than anyone else, but that my efforts had noticeable additional “polish” on them, something that my boss noticed and that the techs noticed.

Maximize Every Job Perk

If your job offers some kind of special perk—discounted food, free event tickets, and so on—take advantage of every drop of that perk. Eat a cheap meal when you arrive for your shift and when you leave. Grab every event ticket that’s available. Get everything you can.

There are a bunch of reasons for this, even beyond the obvious. For one, it’s obviously going to save you some money, which is a key part of any entry-level job. Your pay isn’t good, so if you have a chance to get other benefits, you should do so. For another, you can sometimes “flip” some of those perks to put more money in your pocket. My wife had an entry-level job where she cleaned floors for a concert venue and often wound up with tickets which she would then “flip” to make some pocket money.

Another big reason that’s often overlooked is that you gain a perspective on the product from the customer’s view. If you’re eating at the restaurant you work at, you quickly gain a sense of what’s good about the food and what’s bad about it. The better the product you put out there (for the dollar, of course), the more customers you’re going to bring in over the long haul and the more money the business will make. If you play a role in figuring that out and making that happen, it benefits you, too. Understanding the product is vital for maximizing an entry-level job.

Look for Inspiration and Mentorship

Ask about the background of everyone above you in rank in the organization, especially those several steps above you. Did they start with an entry-level job like yours? How did they climb the ladder to their current perch?

Find people who have risen from your spot to great things and make those people into mentors. Ask for their advice with difficult situations. Ask for their suggestions on how to improve your chances of moving up.

The key part, though, is actually following that advice. Hearing it is one thing—putting it to work is what actually matters the most, though.

Present Yourself Well

Show up to work clean and presentable, even if it’s a manual labor job like my old job scooping dirt. You might go home sweaty and nasty, but there’s no reason to show up like that.

Take a shower. Make sure your clothes aren’t wrinkled and aren’t falling apart. Use plenty of deodorant. Brush your teeth. Brush your hair. In other words, take care of yourself and offer the best presentation you can to the world and to your coworkers and to your managers.

I can’t tell you how often I see entry-level employees show up looking completely disheveled, half-awake and unshowered with rumpled hair and wrinkled clothes. Those people are loudly shouting, “I don’t want to be here and I don’t take this job seriously.” Don’t be that person.

Be on Time

Whenever you’re late for work, that means someone else at your job has to cover for you. Often, your supervisor is aware of that, too, and probably has to deal with it in some fashion. Being punctual means no one else has to deal with those things.

Not only that, when you’re punctual at an entry-level job, you tend to stand out in a positive way from others who are not punctual. This reflects well on you, and when you stand out in a positive way, you’re much more likely to reap workplace rewards from doing so.

My strategy for punctuality was to plan to show up at work 15 minutes before I was scheduled to start. Depending on how I felt, I’d either dive in immediately or else I’d find something useful to do on site until my shift began. The goal was simple: Never be late.

Be Reliable

If you’re given a task that’s actually reasonable to accomplish, accomplish it. Finish the task to the best of your ability. When you’re called on to do something, do it without dispute. Take on the new task and finish it to the best of your ability.

You want to reach a point where you can be called on for a reasonable task and just complete it with minimal issues. The truth is that the people up the chain from you want minimal issues. They want to get through their day, just like you do, and when you make that easier for them by just doing what you’re supposed to do with minimal assistance and hand-holding, everyone benefits. You get fewer lectures, you get a steady growth in respect, and they get an easier day.

If you have a task to do, do it well. Do it consistently. Do it so that others don’t have to jump in and clean up your mess.

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Avoid Negative Workplace Talk

Most workplaces have some amount of gossip and some amount of negative talk. People love to complain about their situation and many people take glee in the trials and tribulations of others.

It’s not surprising why this happens—it can feel really good to vent. However, there’s a big negative consequence for participating in it. For starters, the negative words you say can easily be carried to others. You might implicitly trust the people around you when you’re venting, but those people might find value in carrying your words to your boss or to the people you criticize.

Furthermore, if you’re often critical and negative toward others, people are going to begin to trust you less as they know that they’ll eventually be the target of your venom.

A much better approach is to avoid the negativity entirely. Don’t say a negative word about coworkers or your job in the workplace. Listen to what others are saying, but don’t repeat it. Don’t contribute to it, either. Instead, seek out other things to talk about and steer the conversation away from negativity. It doesn’t help anyone.

Give Credit to Others

If you are called out for doing something great at work, do not take all of the credit. Instead, take minimal credit and share that credit with others. Point out everyone who did things to help make that thing happen, even if you might necessarily feel that they fully deserve it.

Here’s the reality of what happens when you do this. First of all, the supervisor usually knows that you did a lot of the work to make the good thing happen. Sharing credit won’t change that. What it will do is demonstrate to your supervisor that you are a team player and are working to “lift” the other people in the workplace.

At the same time, everyone loves to receive credit for their efforts. You’re holding your coworkers up in a positive light and giving them credit. That feels good to almost everyone. Those coworkers are going to appreciate you more than before as well.

When you give credit to others, you win with your supervisors and you win with your coworkers. There is literally no drawback to giving credit where credit is due.

Identify Reliable Peers

Over time, you’re going to gradually gain a sense of which coworkers are reliable and trustworthy and which ones aren’t. Some people work hard and do a good job, while others don’t. Some people keep their mouths shut, while others spew poison and report every infraction.

Don’t worry too much about the negative people. Don’t make them into enemies, of course, but don’t focus on them, either. Instead, build relationships with the people who quietly do their job and do it effectively. Those are the friends you want at work. Build that relationship through positive conversations or conversations about non-work topics. Help those people when you have the opportunity and don’t expect something directly in return.

A strong relationship with the best employees in your workplace will constantly benefit you once they’re established. Good coworkers will help you when you need help, cover for you on occasion when it’s really important, and have your back in any workplace conflicts. These people usually have a good reputation with the boss as well, which means that their word will count for a lot when it comes to you.

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Ask for Specific Tips for Promotion

If you’re interested in staying with the organization for a while, a promotion is probably something that looks pretty appealing to you, particularly when it comes with an increase in pay and opportunity.

The catch is that it’s sometimes unclear what you need to do in order to earn that kind of a promotion. Obviously, the tactics above will help you get in a good place, but there are specific things at any job that will put you in line for promotion.

The solution here is to sit down with your supervisor or with whoever is responsible for your potential promotion and simply ask what exactly you need to do to earn a promotion. What are they looking for? What do you need to accomplish or to show to earn a promotion from within?

Whatever you’re told, use it as a checklist. I would literally write down what they said and then use that material as your guide for what to do at work every day above and beyond your typical responsibilities.

Think Like a Customer, Always

In the end, every organization has customers that they’re serving. Perhaps it’s people wanting to dine at your restaurant. Maybe it’s people looking to buy tools at the hardware store. Maybe it’s impoverished people looking to pick up food from the pantry.

No matter what, your organization has customers. Whenever you’re considering how to handle a task, stop for a second and think about what you’re doing from the perspective of the customer. What can you do to give that customer the best experience without costing your business extra money?

You can keep the grill clean. You can keep the food fresh. You can keep the shelves stocked. You can answer customer questions and be as friendly as you possibly can.

When customers are happy, they come back. When they come back, your business thrives. When you do the things that bring the customers back, people within your organization will notice, and that will purely benefit you.

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Build Marketable and Transferable Skills

Every day you’re at work, keep the next step in your career in the back of your mind. Where do you want to go next? Even more importantly, what kind of skills do you need to go there?

Often, the skills you need at that future job won’t overlap perfectly with what you’re doing now, but there is almost always some sort of overlap. Maybe it’s customer relation skills. Maybe it’s time management. Maybe it’s information management. Maybe it’s some flavor of IT skills.

Just look for overlaps between the skills you’re using at your entry level job and the skills you will be using at your ideal job. Then, when you’re at work, put extra effort into honing those skills. If you’re going to continue in marketing, focus on maximizing anything that might relate to marketing, for example. If you don’t have a specific skill, work on things like communication skills, information management, and, well…

Don’t Give Other Workers Reason to Backstab You

There are always going to be negative people in the workplace. They’re going to attack people and stab them in the back. They’re going to try to tear down others. That’s just their character—nothing you can really do about it.

What you can do, however, is not paint a giant bullseye on yourself. Don’t leave coworkers hanging. Don’t make their jobs more difficult. Don’t create any kind of conflict if you can possibly avoid it.

What will happen is that other people—the people who don’t do their job well and create challenges for others—will become the low-hanging fruit with the bullseye on their back. Sure, it’s not the happiest outcome, but if there’s going to be a bullseye—and there will—make sure it’s not on your back.

Final Thoughts

An entry-level job can be a powerful stepping stone for the career that you want, even when it doesn’t seem like this simple job can possibly lead to where you want to go. Never, ever fall into the trap of thinking that your job doesn’t matter or that it can’t provide anything for you other than a paycheck. If nothing else, every job is capable of opening doors to your future, whether you see them or not.

Take your job seriously. Use a customer-focused perspective on what you do. Be reliable, be timely, be presentable, and don’t idle. Look for mentors and strong relationships, and ask what you can do to get promoted. Those things will pave the path to a much better future.

Good luck.

How to Get a Ton of Value Out of an Entry-Level Job | The Simple Dollar


Trent Hamm is a personal finance writer at TheSimpleDollar.com. After pulling himself out of his own financial crisis, he founded the site in late 2006 to help others through financially difficult situations; today the site has become a finance, insurance, and retirement resource. Contact Trent at trent AT the simple dollar DOT com; please send site inquiries to inquiries AT the simple dollar DOT com. Image by Leremy (Shutterstock).

Why You Should Avoid the Word “Fair” in Salary Negotiations

Why You Should Avoid the Word “Fair” in Salary Negotiations

Asking for a raise can be tricky. You have to approach the conversation in the right way, and as Lee E. Miller, co-author of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating points out, that means you probably want to leave out the word “fair.”

Miller told Business Insider:

“The concept of fairness is not an effective way to approach negotiation of salary because it’s going to put the employer on the defensive…When you say, ‘My salary is not fair,’ that engenders a negative response.”

The advice is aimed at women, but really, this is a solid point for all of us. When approaching your employer for a raise, you want to be direct, but you also want to stick to your professional value—your accomplishments and responsibilities.

http://lifehacker.com/the-right-way-…

Also, everyone has a different idea what “fair” is to begin with. However, if your salary is a lot lower than the industry standard, Miller recommends the phrase: “I think this is below the market, can you reconsider?”

For more negotiating tips, head to the full post below.

There’s one word to avoid at all costs when you ask for more money at work | Business Insider

Photo by reynermedia.

Your Employer Is Responsible For Tracking Your New Overtime Pay

Your Employer Is Responsible For Tracking Your New Overtime Pay
Photo: Flickr

Yesterday, America got a look at the new overtime rule, which will make millions of people who make less than $47,500 a year eligible for overtime pay. You may be wondering: who, exactly, is responsible for making sure I get paid for all my newfound overtime?

Any time that the government tries to actively meddle in the freedom of the free market to pay most people the absolute lowest wage and pool the absolute highest amount of wealth in the absolute fewest hands, there will be objections from the right wing that such government actions will have devastating unintended economic effects. (The Wall Street Journal is a reliable repository of such objections.) In the case of expanded overtime pay, though, the truth is that businesses have a limited number of options for shirking it: they can raise your salary over $47,500 (which would be fine), they can shift low-salaried workers to hourly pay (which still leaves them eligible for overtime), they can leave your pay the same but have you stop working long hours (fine), or they can reduce salaries in order to absorb the increase in overtime pay (which would suck, but leaves you in about the same place you are now). In an economy that is as strong as ours is now, the base fact is that businesses need labor to meet demand, and they will have to pay for that labor, and the ability to go around imposing widespread salary cuts in response to this rule is limited by the fact that unemployment is relatively low, meaning people can get other jobs.

It is also worth remembering that, adjusted for inflation, the new overtime threshold is still well below what it was back in what Republicans view as “the good old days.”

So, how do you collect on your new overtime pay? Many people are reasonably anxious about this question. The good news: your employer is required by law to track your hours and pay you accurately. It’s the law! And that hasn’t changed. We got more clarity on this point from Department of Labor spokesman Jason Surbey. Bolding ours:

The current law already requires that an employer keep an accurate record of the total number of hours worked for each day in a pay period to ensure that an employee is fully compensated for all hours worked. There is no particular form or order of records required and employers may choose how to document or record hours worked for overtime-eligible employees. The Department’s long-standing recordkeeping rules can be found at 29 C.F.R. part 516. The final rule has not changed these requirements.

Employers have options for accounting for workers’ hours – some of which are very low cost and low burden. There is no particular form or order of records required and employers may choose how to record hours worked for overtime-eligible employees. For example, where an employee works a fixed schedule that rarely varies, the employer may simply keep a record of the schedule and then indicate the changes to the schedule that the worker actually worked when the worker’s hours vary from the schedule (“exceptions reporting”). See Fact Sheet 21: Recordkeeping Requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

For employees with a flexible schedule, an employer does not need to require an employee to sign in each time she starts and stops work. The employer must keep an accurate record of the number of daily hours worked by the employee, not the specific start and end times. So an employer could allow an employee to just provide the total number of hours she worked each day, including the number of overtime hours, by the end of each pay period.

Again: your employer is legally required to keep an accurate record of your hours worked, and to pay you overtime if you qualify under the new rule, which goes into effect in December. If they don’t, sue them.

The 25 Best U.S. Cities for Finding a Job In 2016

The 25 Best U.S. Cities for Finding a Job In 2016

Finding a job can be a struggle, but it always helps to look in the right places. These are the best cities to try and land a job this year, according to Glassdoor.

Each city’s ranking is based on its Glassdoor Job Score, which is determined by weighing four major factors: how easy it is to a job there, how affordable the area is, job satisfaction, and general work-life balance. Glassdoor also includes each city’s median pay, median home value, and the number of current job openings. They also mention some of the jobs with the highest demand in each area. Here are the top 10:

  1. San Jose, CA
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. Austin, TX
  7. Salt Lake City, UT
  8. Raleigh-Durham, NC
  9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MI
  10. Oklahoma City, OK

Last year’s top city, Raleigh, has been bumped down to eighth place and replaced by San Jose, where the median base salary is $112,000. No other city on the list comes anywhere close to that. To see the last 15 of the best cities for finding a job, and learn more about each city’s median base salaries, home values, and number of job openings, check out the link below.

http://lifehacker.com/these-are-the-…

Glassdoor’s 25 Best Cities for Jobs | Glassdoor

Photo by HarshLight.

Career Spotlight: What I Do as Peet’s Coffee Roastmaster

Career Spotlight: What I Do as Peet's Coffee Roastmaster

I appreciate a good cup of coffee. I’m no connoisseur—I don’t fuss over my brewing method, but that I have a “method” at all says something. The pursuit of a perfect cup of coffee has become increasingly common outside of coffee shops, with people carefully selecting their beans and brewing methodology to make their morning coffee bloom with flavor. That’s all fine on a kitchen counter, but how do you bring that same sort of dedication to a large scale operation?

In 1966 Alfred Peet opened his first coffee shop on the corner of Vine and Walnut in Berkeley, California. It was one of the first shops of its kind to particularly focus on roasting and the quality of the coffee; Peet had immigrated to San Francisco in 1955 from Holland and was said to be disappointed with the American coffee of the time. It was an influential start that set a precedent for all the coffee chains that would follow.

Now as they celebrate their 50th anniversary, how do they manage growth without comprising quality? To learn a little about the process, we spoke with Peet’s Roastmaster, Doug Welsh. Doug works with 11 roasters to oversee the quality of their coffee from its source all the way to the bag.

What’s a typical day-in-the-life of Peet’s Roastmaster?

Every day starts with tasting some of the best coffees from around the world. As Roastmaster, I head the Coffee Quality team and taste anywhere from 10 to 20 coffee samples each morning. In the cupping room, we make five individual cups out of any prospective sample in order to taste for consistency, flavor profiles, and pleasure factors. Coffee is inherently complex with over 1,000 aromatic compounds and the possibilities are vast, so it’s exciting to know that there’s always a chance to try something different each day.

What drove you to choose your career path? What kind of education and experience was required?

I decided on the first day I was hired at Peet’s original store on Vine Street 23 years ago that I wanted to make coffee my career. One of the first things they did was take the new baristas to the tasting room in the back of the store to appreciate the coffee and craft. There’s no formal education to prepare for this career; I think that many in the industry would agree that coffee chooses us and not the other way around. Being a foodie helps because you appreciate the complexity in flavors and also tend to have acute tasting skills. But getting to the level of Roastmaster is less about talent and more about experience and focus.

What kinds of things do you do beyond what most people see or know about?

Not many people think about what’s beyond the coffee in their cup. At Peet’s Coffee we care very much about the craft—we roast by hand with true craftsmen who use all five senses to determine when each batch has achieved its perfect roast. Others roast by computers. It takes years to learn and master the art of roasting. That is why we only have 11 people trained to do it.

Peet’s has also mastered the art of blending coffees to get rich, deep, complex flavors. Essentially, we treat coffee bean blending like a master wine maker would blend wine. Then there is freshness, which is key, though an area most people don’t think about. The way the bean is roasted is fundamental to the way it will taste, and coffee always tastes best shortly after roasting. Freshness contributes to flavor and our “Roast to Order” system is designed to move coffee fast so that you can drink it within a few days or sometimes even hours from roasting. For instance, we batch orders every single night and set our production schedule to roast the next day. We don’t roast based on warehouse inventories. We roast based on consumer, customer and store orders from the previous day. Moreover, we have strict 90 day freshness standards on beans for grocery, mass, and club. To meet that standard, we have an entire Peet’s Fresh Delivery team stocking only the freshest beans in-store, every week. Others can be 365 days or more. Lastly, we will ship you the freshest coffee your money can buy, right to your doorstep. Order today, we roast, grind, pack, and ship tomorrow.

What do general consumers under/over value about what you do?

As Roastmaster, I select the coffee and recommend new blends, but the roaster is easily the most fundamentally important job at Peet’s. Our roasters are essential to crafting everything people love about fresh coffee—the flavors, complexity, sweetness, balance, acidity, texture, mouth-feel, and so much more. Our dedicated group of 11 roasters have an average tenure of 16 years because being a roaster requires skill, knowledge, and experience in craft.

What are the average work hours for the Roastmaster? Typical 9-5 thing or not?

The team typically comes in at about 7 a.m. and taste between 8 and 10 a.m. because we believe that our senses are most keen at that hour. We try to avoid tasting in the afternoon, especially after lunch when our palates have been affected. You have to be extremely focused and block out other distractions in order to fully understand the intricacies of coffee. Coffee roasters, on the other hand, have more unusual hours. Some of them come in at 2 a.m. to fulfill coffee orders that were placed overnight and need to get shipped out that day—coffee never leaves the plant more than a day after it’s been roasted.

What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?

The intrigue and delight that comes with being fortunate enough to taste some of the best possible coffees in the world. Coming in every day never quite knowing what you’ll be tasting, but always hoping for the perfect cup. I’m extremely lucky.

What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?

I consider myself very lucky to be able to focus on craft and my passion for coffee, although trial and error with developing blends can prove tricky. However, any failure yields knowledge that we can apply to refining a new and different blend.

How would someone who is interested in craft coffee “move up” in this field? What could they do beyond working at a local coffee shop?

Keep tasting and learn to trust your taste. Humans are visual animals and we trust our sight—we aren’t naturally trained to rely on our gustatory senses, but you need to for this career. Try new brewing methods, explore flavors, make the samples hard or challenging and hold yourself to a high standard. We are full with bias so try to shut out pre-conceived notions. Coffee will definitely surprise you.

What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?

The real laboratory is behind the coffee counter. Several of our roasters served as baristas for at least three to four or more years, have shown a keen interest in flavor and are curious about tasting coffee. It takes fortitude to be roaster as the job requires long hours on your feet, and it’s also important to have thick skin and confidence because everything you make is critiqued by your peers. At Peet’s Coffee, we have a single veto rule. If one of us isn’t satisfied with the taste, the coffee never makes it into the bag.


Career Spotlight is an interview series on Lifehacker that focuses on regular people and the jobs you might not hear much about—from doctors to plumbers to aerospace engineers and everything in between. If you’d like to share your career, email us at submissions+career@lifehacker.com. Image by Sergey Bogomyako (Shutterstock).