How to Resign Without Burning Bridges

How to Resign Without Burning Bridges

If you’ve found a new job, congratulations! It’s exciting to think of the opportunities ahead, but first, you have to wrap things up with your current employer. There’s no getting around the fact that resigning is uncomfortable. Even if you’re positive you’ll never be back, you want to leave on good terms. Let’s look at the basics on how to resign from a job.

Frequently Asked Resignation Questions

How soon do I need to turn in my resignation notice?

Two weeks’ notice is standard for most positions.

Can I tell my boss I’m quitting in a text message?

No. You’ll need to write a professional resignation letter and have an in-person conversation. If you can’t meet with them in person, make a phone call.

Who do I need to tell first?

When you resign, talk to your direct manager before you let co-workers know you’re leaving.

Can my company stop me from resigning?

If you’re bound by a contract of employment, there may be stipulations for how and when you can quit. Otherwise, your boss may hate to see you go, but he or she can’t refuse your resignation.

What if I’m quitting because I’m fed up with my job?

Keep things positive during your resignation. You want to leave on good terms, so avoid complaining or bragging about your new job.

Resignation Letter Basics

Don’t just drop off a resignation letter, talk to your employer first in person or over the phone. If they ask for a formal letter, recognize it will go in your employment file, so you want to keep things professional.

A formal resignation letter should be brief, polite and to the point. Start with a friendly opening like, “Dear Ms. Smith,” or “Dear Bob,” depending on how you normally address your manager. Then, clearly state your intent to resign.

Give your employer a reasonable amount of time to hire your replacement. Let them know in your letter when will be your last day of employment. You don’t have to share your reason for leaving, but in some situations it helps. For example, if you’ve decided not to return from maternity leave or your spouse got a job offer out of state. Letting your boss know takes some of the sting out of your resignation. It’s also acceptable to say you’re resigning for personal reasons.

Let your employer know you’re willing to help out if necessary. You might be able to help train a new hire or transition some of your duties to a co-worker within your department.

Finally, express gratitude. Whether you liked your old job or not, focus on the positive. Thank your employer for the experience, the opportunities and the knowledge you gained from working at his or her company. Use a friendly closing like “Sincerely,” or “Respectfully.”

If you’re looking for new opportunities, experience Brelsford Personnel’s fresh approach. Browse the positions we have available online, then get in touch.

What Tech Skills Will Get Me a Better Job?

What Tech Skills Will Get Me a Better Job?

Most people are comfortable using a smartphone and computer for personal use, but some may lack the technical skills employers are looking for. Computer skills are prized by employers in a range of sectors. Add these skills to get hired and prepare yourself for professional success.

Word Processing Skills

Word processing is a basic skill required for most professional level positions. The most common applications include Microsoft Word and Google Docs. It’s a good idea to know how to find your way around in both. Here are a few of the skills most employers expect you to be able to perform:

  • Open the word processing program and access a previously saved document
  • Use “Undo” and “Redo” editing functions
  • Cut and paste from another document
  • Show and hide toolbars
  • Adjust page margins, line spacing and page orientation
  • Change font, size, color and style
  • Insert symbols, images and tables
  • Save documents to a desired location
  • Share documents via email or other online collaboration portals

Spreadsheet Skills

Companies often store vital information using spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. They allow you to organize, calculate, graph and analyze data. Familiarize yourself with how to identify cell references, enter and delete data, modify column width and format information. You should also know how to use basic formulas to make calculations easier.

Email

This is one of the staples of workplace communication. It’s how you’ll receive information about what’s going on with your company. Email is also how you’ll communicate with supervisors, co-workers and clients. Employees should know how to access, compose, format and send an email. It’s also a good idea to know the rules of email etiquette.

Touch Typing

Not all jobs require you to be lightning-fast, but you should be able to type without looking at the keyboard. You’re more efficient when you don’t have to hunt and peck. Plus, you make fewer errors when you can keep your eyes on the screen, not the keyboard.

If you don’t have this basic skill, don’t despair. Online resources like typingclub.com and keyhero.com offer free evaluations and typing exercises you can use to help improve your skills. While you’re at it, familiarize yourself with basic keyboard shortcuts for easier copying, pasting, printing and window switching.

Presentation Software Skills

If your position involves presenting your ideas within the company or to clients and customers, you’ll need a basic knowledge of common presentation software. PowerPoint and Keynote are two of the most commonly used.

For digital presentations, you’ll need to know how to create and edit a new, blank presentation, open a recent presentation, access what you’ve created from other places on your computer or network, add and edit slides and run your presentation once it’s started.

Willingness to Learn

This doesn’t just relate to computers. Technology is constantly changing. As employers update to stay competitive, you’ll likely be required to learn new computer skills. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to work with new programs, but keep an open mind.

At Brelsford Personnel, we’re always looking for East Texans with a solid skill base and a positive attitude. Browse our online job postings to look for your new job today.

Character References – Who to Ask and How to Ask Them

Character References – Who to Ask and How to Ask Them

Employers ask prospective employees for a personal reference or character reference to find out more about their personality, character and people skills. References are often required as part of the job application process. Here’s help deciding who to ask for character references and how to approach them.

Who to Ask for Character References

Character references should come from people who know you well. They should have known you personally for at least a year and be able to speak about your top qualities. Instead of putting too much pressure on yourself to identify the perfect resources right away, relax and jot down some names. Brainstorm potential candidates from the following examples:

  • Co-workers or former employers
  • Clients or customers
  • College professors or academic advisors
  • Family friends
  • Neighbors or personal acquaintances
  • People who have volunteered with you
  • High school or college sports coaches

Avoid collecting character references from your spouse or other family members. Employers will consider them biased.

When you narrow down your list of potential candidates, try to create a diverse group. Don’t request all your references from within one organization or friend group. A co-worker might be able to give insight on your work ethic, while people who volunteer with you can attest to your character.

How to Ask for A Reference

The people on your list are ones you hold in high esteem, so asking them for a reference can be intimidating. Your relationship with the person will dictate the best way to ask. It may be best to contact college professors or clients through a letter or email so they have time to think about your request. Let them know whether you’re asking for a reference letter or if prospective employers will contact them directly.

It might feel more natural to ask for references from family friends and personal acquaintances over the phone or when you see them in person.

Be tactful when you make your request. Ask if they feel comfortable providing a reference for your job hunt. You can also ask if they have time in their schedule to write a reference letter or provide a reference over the phone.

Give the person plenty of time to respond. Make it easier to write the letter or respond to inquiries by letting them know what job you’re applying for and what skills that position requires.

Be Sure to Follow Up

After someone provides you with a character reference, follow up with a thank you note. Sit down and create a handwritten message that tells them how much you appreciate them taking the time to help you in your employment search.

For resume writing tips, dress code guidelines, interview tips and other information, see Brelsford Personnel’s online resources. Or view our online job postings today.

How to Mistake-Proof Your Resume

How to Mistake-Proof Your Resume

When you send your resume and cover letter to prospective employers, mistakes and typos could ruin your chances at an interview. You know what you meant to say, so a quick scan isn’t going to reveal the mistakes that will stick out to recruiters and hiring managers. Use these tips to make sure your resume and cover letter don’t contain embarrassing errors.

Always Use Spell and Grammar Check

Most word processing programs automatically check for spelling and grammar, but they don’t make corrections for you. Go back through your document and review where your program marked errors. Word underlines mistakes with a squiggly red line and Google Docs uses solid red.

Grammarly has a free online grammar and spell checker that catches some errors word processing programs don’t. If you’re not creating your document online, you can upload it for a thorough error scan.

Don’t Edit Tired

If you just spent hours creating your resume, take a break. Come back when you’re rested, you’ll be glad you did.

Print for Proofing

You’ll be better able to spot errors on a paper copy than on a screen. Once you print your resume, use your finger to underline one word at a time as you read. The first time through, look at spelling, grammar and punctuation without editing for meaning and data accuracy. Clearly mark changes with a contrasting color pen so you can add them to your electronic copy later. Then read through again for information consistency.

Check for Common Errors

Spell check won’t catch a word used incorrectly. Make sure the subject and verb of every sentence agree with one another. Only place commas where the reader would naturally pause. Use an apostrophe with “its” only when you mean “it is.” Be careful with the commonly confused “affect” and “effect.” You “accept” offers, not “except” them. Most employees work with a manager, not a manger.

Read out Loud

This proofreading trick will catch errors you don’t notice any other way. Read your resume one word at a time at a pace similar to what you would use when speaking. If something doesn’t sound right, stop and fix it, then read it again.

Verify Hyperlinks

If the electronic copy of your resume contains links to articles you’ve written, online reviews from customers or other materials, click them to make sure they go where you intend. You could have typed URLs incorrectly, or pages might have been moved.

Ask for Help

See if a professional acquaintance or mentor will proofread your resume for you. A fresh set of eyes can make all the difference.

For more resume writing tips, see our dynamic library of useful resources. Our blog also offers help with writing a cover letter, preparing for an interview and having a successful first day on the job.

How to Improve Your People Skills At Work

How to Improve Your People Skills At Work

A huge part of how you feel about your job involves the people you work with. Positive work relationships will make you look forward to doing what you do. When the workplace contains undercurrents of tension and dissatisfaction, everyone suffers.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to work on building positive, effective relationships with co-workers and administrators. You may not be able to be friends with everyone but there are always steps you can take to strengthen the work relationships you have while forging new ones.

Evaluate and Improve Soft Skills

Building better relationships doesn’t start with your co-workers and managers. It begins inside when you take an objective look at your soft skills.

Hard skills are the ones you trained for. They’re things like your certifications, degrees, second languages and the number of words per minute you type. Soft skills are harder to measure. Here are a few examples:

  • Leadership
  • Problem solving ability
  • Strong work ethic
  • Strategic thinking
  • Competitiveness
  • Calmness under pressure
  • Compassionate listening

You may not have put them on your resume, but they’re crucial to building strong work relationships. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and look for ways to improve.

Steps for Better Communication Skills

No matter where you are on the communication skills spectrum, there’s room for improvement. You have the power to build better relationships when you make your goals specific and measurable.

Speak positively about your co-workers and administrators. It’s not kissing up, it’s being encouraging. Look for three ways to provide positive feedback every work day. Set a reminder on your phone to note whether you met your goal before you go home.

Ask questions. If you know your co-worker has a skill you’re curious about, give them a chance to share how they learned it. When working as a team, pause and ask other members what they think, and listen to what they say.

Express appreciation. Thank at least one person every day for something they do. Be on the lookout for little things that might normally go unnoticed. When presenting teamwork, let others hear you be appreciative for their individual contributions. Share credit when things go right, but when they don’t, avoid the temptation to place blame.

Avoid gossip like the plague. Office politics kill relationships. If you have a problem with someone, speak to them in private. If the situation doesn’t involve you, don’t add fuel to the fire by passing on information.

Improving work relationships takes consistent effort, but it’s worth it. When you make an intentional effort to pour good into the lives of those around you, it creates a ripple effect that will spread throughout your entire organization.

5 Email Etiquette Rules Every Employee Should Know

You may send and receive electronic communication all day long, but are you using email correctly? With some types of messaging it’s okay to be informal, but if it involves work email, there are rules you don’t want to break. Before you hit “send” one more time, make sure you’re protecting your professional image.

Use These With Caution

Think carefully before you use some email buttons and classifications. Use these options sparingly:

  • Reply All – Before you send an email, ask yourself if it needs to go to everyone on the list. There could be disastrous consequences if you mean to send a sarcastic comment to your friend and it actually goes to everyone at the office. If your communication doesn’t concern everyone, don’t use “reply all.”
  • Read Receipts – If you request to be notified when co-workers, employees, customers and clients open your email, it feels intrusive. When your information is time-sensitive or you’re concerned about whether or not it reaches its destination, ask the recipient in the email to let you know once they receive it.
  • CC vs. BCC – If you’re sending an email to a group, often it’s better to send a blind carbon copy (BCC) rather than a carbon copy (CC) where everyone’s email address is displayed.
  • Forward – If it doesn’t have to do with work, don’t use this button.

Write Good Subject Lines

If you could summarize your email in a few words, what would you say? Your email subject line should be clear and direct. Examples include, “Staff Meeting At 2 p.m. Today,” or “Question About Atkins Project.”

A well-written subject line makes it more likely people will open your email. Subject lines aren’t the place to be vague or make obscure references. Remember, the whole point of office email is to streamline communication.

Use a Professional Email Address and Signature Block

It’s best to always use your company email address. If you’re self-employed or for some reason have to send an email from your personal account, make sure your email address reflects professionalism.

Include an automated signature that attaches to every email. It should contain three or four lines of text that tell who you are and how else people can get in touch. It might also include your photo or company logo. Avoid hard-to-read fonts or lengthy statements. Simple and direct is always best.

Use Professional Salutations

Avoid informal greetings like “Hey,” or “What’s up?” Instead, use “Dear Mr. Smith,” “Hello Mrs. Francis,” or “Hi Jonathan.”

Don’t shorten the recipient’s name unless you know that’s what they prefer. For example, don’t address Steven as Steve unless he invited you to do so.

Proofread Carefully

Read through your email at least once silently and once out loud before you send it. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and to make sure your tone is what you intend. Be careful with humor, since that doesn’t always come across electronically.

Only use one punctuation mark at the end of sentences, and in most cases, that punctuation shouldn’t be an exclamation mark. Multiple exclamation marks make you sound angry!!! Plus, can you see how using several question marks make you seem impatient to receive an answer????

Remember if you send it, others can forward it. Show your best self on email to protect your professional image and your career future.

Employment and Wages – Good News for 2019

Employment and Wages – Good News for 2019

On any news network, you find phrases like, “border crisis,” “violence surge,” “government shutdown,” and “trade war.” It’s alarming, and after a while it becomes discouraging. Brelsford Personnel notes some good news backed by hard data. Employment opportunities are better than they’ve been in years, and wages are firming and increasing. If you’re looking for a new job or a better position, this may be the most encouraging environment in a while for conducting your search.

Unexpected Gains

Analysts didn’t expect things to be going as well as they are. Before the new year, experts predicted employment would drop. The economic forecast was flashing warnings. The United States and China have been trading tariffs that raise the cost of goods. The stock market suffered its worst yearly losses in ten years, and interest rates were heading up.

However, employment exceeded expectations. According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, employers in the United States continued adding jobs at a robust rate. In 2018, wages posted their biggest gains in a decade. That is good news, along with the Fed’s announcement they’d be patient about further interest rate hikes, which caused stock prices to surge.

It’s all consumer-based. Unemployment is at its lowest in 50 years, nationally at 3.9 percent. In Smith County, the numbers are even better, with unemployment at 3.7 percent. People are working. They’re making money, and they’re spending it.

What That Means For You

Employers say it’s hard to find the right employees. When they do find them, their goal is to keep them. In 2018 the national average for hourly earnings went up 3.2 percent.

In East Texas we have a very healthy job market and qualified candidates are in high demand. When asked how local employers are working to keep employees, Brelsford Personnel’s Gates Brelsford offered an insider’s view. “Our sense is because there is a shortage of quality employees,” he said, “that creates more demand and therefore pushes up wage rates, because companies have to pay more to get good people.”

“Employers are looking for someone who has at least two things,” he continued. “The first is a very close match in their skillset for that hiring authority. The second is a cultural fit or professional demeanor, and what that is that depends on the company.”

The bottom line is, now is a good time to look for a job. The economy is very healthy as far as hiring goes, so it’s a great time to find the position you’ve been hoping for. It might even come with a wage increase.

Currently, the Brelsford Personnel job board includes openings for a wide range of positions. They might have already posted your next graphics design job, legal assistant position or bookkeeping job. Brelsford specializes in administrative office support, accounting and financial services, human resources and more.

Look through our online job postings to see what’s available today. Also, like and follow The Brelsford Facebook page to see new job openings as they become available.

Sources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-december-nonfarm-payrolls-grew-by-312-000-jobless-rate-rose-to-3-9-11546609016

Stick to That Resolution, We Can Help

Stick to That Resolution, We Can Help

Year after year East Texans set New Year’s resolutions, but those resolutions quickly fall by the wayside. The most common ones involve eating better and exercising more. This year a survey by Inc.com found 16 percent of Americans are also pledging to find new employment. Brelsford Personnel offers tips on how to keep some of the most common resolutions, whether they involve nutrition, physical activity or a complete career change.

Simple Tricks for Eating Healthy at Work

Once you get to work, your food options are limited to what you brought with you and what you can pick up on your lunch break. Nutrition is an all day, every day thing. Keep yourself on track with these tips:

  • Meal prep – Spend time on Saturday or Sunday to cook and package food you’ll actually want to eat. Try a one pot meal, healthy soup, quinoa salad or something else you can munch over the course of a few days. If you don’t cook, find healthy, prepared protein, raw veggies and whole grains at the grocery store. Pack meals in individual portions so you can grab and go.
  • Snack prep – You’ll be better able to resist the doughnuts in the break room if you have healthy snacks in your desk. Pack fruit, snack bags of nuts, low-fat yogurt etc.
  • Have a backup plan – If you forget your lunch or don’t have time to prepare, decide now what you’ll pick up that won’t derail your diet. Try a salad from Jason’s Deli or an “enlightened” entrée from BJ’s. If you only have time for fast food, a chili from Wendy’s only has 170 calories.

Work Exercise Hacks

It’s always a good idea to park farther away and take the stairs, but there are other ways to squeeze in physical activity, even if you have a desk job. Set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour and every time it goes off, try one of the following for 60 seconds:

  • Stretching
  • Jogging in place
  • Air squats
  • Imaginary jump rope

If you’re stuck in your chair, strengthen your core by raising one leg at a time until it touches the underside of your desk, then repeating with the other. Also, Amazon sells an elliptical trainer that fits under your desk for easy, on-the-job cardio.

New Year, New Job

If you were among the 16 percent of Americans who resolved to find a new position, now is the time to take your first steps in that direction.

Check out the open jobs on the Brelsford Personnel website at https://www.brelsfordpersonnel.com/ . Click on “Positions” and scroll down to review the open jobs. If there are any you wish to be considered for, you may apply online by filling out an employment profile under our “Candidates” tab. We review all incoming resumes and retain them even when there’s not an immediate fit.

While you’re there, you may also want to visit our “Resources” page, where you’ll find resume writing advice, dress code guidelines, interview tips and other tools that might help you in your job search.

Holiday Stress – What Causes It, How to Reduce It

Holiday Stress – What Causes It, How to Reduce It

This month the holiday season cranks into high gear, and not everyone is feeling merry and bright. Many East Texans feel financial stress, loneliness, relationship issues and fatigue. Often it feels like work pressure seems to intensify.

If you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of holiday stress and find ways to release some of that pressure.

List Workplace Stress Causes

It’s easy to get so busy putting out fires you don’t stop and think what’s causing them or how they’re affecting you. Take a few minutes on your daily commute to make a mental list of what’s creating your feeling of stress. Are you facing deadlines on any of the following?

  • End-of-year reporting
  • Conducting or receiving performance evaluations
  • Participating in company holiday celebrations – choosing a Secret Santa gift, figuring out what to wear, arranging your food contribution etc.
  • Planning for and working Black Friday and other holiday sales
  • Training and managing seasonal staff
  • Working extra hours when others take off for holiday vacation or shopping
  • Handling your most demanding workload during holiday-shortened weeks

When you start making your list, you’re probably going to recognize you feel overwhelmed because you face a formidable mountain of demands. If you haven’t been bubbling over with holiday cheer, that’s okay. Give yourself a break.

You may also be facing personal challenges. The holidays highlight strained family relationships and intensify grief over lost loved ones. All the extra shopping, entertaining and travel can strain any individual’s budget. Sometimes it helps just to acknowledge what you’re dealing with.

Be There For Others

Being kind to others will help lighten your own mood. Be on the lookout for people who need an extra word of encouragement.

If your co-worker is going through a difficult divorce or you remember your employee lost a parent last year, be available if they need someone to talk to. When people go out of their way to make the season joyful for others, be generous with your gratitude.

How Managers Can Reduce Holiday Stress

If you’re in charge of your team, you are integral to the emotional climate in your workplace. You can help struggling staff cope with holiday stress in several ways.

Encourage healthy habits. Highlight employee fitness programs at the end of the year as much as you do at the beginning. If you’re planning food for corporate events or picking up breakfast for the group, provide healthy choices.

Accept “no.” Be understanding if employees choose not to participate in workplace holiday activities.

Include employees in decisions. Find out how they want to celebrate the holidays. Instead of a party, would they rather organize a toy drive or participate in a charity 5k?

Allow breaks when needed. Consider making one of your holiday gifts to staff a half day to do whatever they need to take care of themselves.

A little thoughtfulness and sensitivity goes a long way. It may be what eliminates just enough of the pressure to turn a stressful holiday into a merry one.

Sources:

http://www.clearrock.com/5-ways-managers-can-reduce-holiday-stress-in-the-workplace/

https://www.inc.com/marissa-levin/the-dark-side-of-holiday-season-how-leaders-can-help-employees-cope-with-holiday-stress.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

East Texas Volunteer Opportunities for Employee Groups

East Texas Volunteer Opportunities for Employee Groups

Want more engaged employees this holiday season? A 2017 Deloitte Volunteerism survey found company-sponsored volunteering boosts morale, contributes to a more pleasant work environment and improves brand perception. Volunteering is good for everyone, and the holidays are the perfect time to give back. These East Texas nonprofits have volunteer opportunities for your work team.

PATH Community Homes

Just from August through December of last year, Tyler’s People Attempting to Help (PATH) served 6,924 East Texas households with 18,584 members. They provided housing for 45 families and utilities for 435 families. They also helped with school supplies, prescription medication, eye exams, dental services and so much more.

Volunteers make that huge impact possible. In that same time period, 584 volunteers donated 21,729 hours of service to people in need. This holiday season, they need you.

Greg Grubb, PATH’s Executive Director says the organization needs help with the repair, upkeep and renovation of East Texas rental homes. Of the 52 homes PATH owns, 38 are more than 70 years old. “Each time a tenant family moves out, we make the repairs and upgrades needed to provide a safe, decent and affordable home for the next family,” he says. “It’s a perfect team-building opportunity that really helps a family of our neighbors!”

Don’t be intimidated if not everyone in your group is a skilled construction worker. PATH’s Facilities Manager customizes projects to the number of people in each group and the tasks they’re comfortable doing. Both inside and outside work is available.

Contact PATH by filling out the volunteer form on their website.

The East Texas Food Bank

It may seem like there’s food everywhere this time of year, but that’s not true for all East Texas families. The East Texas Food Bank website says one in five East Texas adults are hungry today. The organization’s mission is to fight hunger and feed hope in 26 East Texas counties. They accept food and money donations and use them for programs like these:

  • The BackPack Program – Needy school children receive a backpack full of food so they don’t go hungry over the weekend when they don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch.

 

  • Summer Food – Over the summer those children still need food. This program provides nutritious meals at community locations.

 

  • Senior Boxes – Qualifying seniors receive a monthly nutritious box so they don’t have to decide between heating their home and buying groceries.

All those programs require volunteers. When your group signs up to work at East Texas Food Bank, you might repackage bulk items into individual servings, load backpacks or help with office administrative duties. Their website provides contact information for volunteering as a group.

Habitat for Humanity

This organization helps needy families realize the dream of homeownership. They build new homes and sell them to qualifying families at cost with zero interest mortgages. One of the ways they raise money to do so is through Tyler’s ReStore.

ReStore accepts donations of furniture, appliances and home improvement products and sells them to the general public. Homeowners and businesses donate materials when they remodel and ReStore displays them at their retail location on Front Street.

Retail Director Danny Saenz says, “We like to stage our furniture so it looks like a furniture store, and we also have shelves of merchandise volunteers help display. Ladies do things like put matching end tables with couches to make it look good. For guys, we just need muscle. It helps to have extra bodies to lift doors and windows in our warehouse area.”

Whether your employees prefer to help with heavy lifting or they excel at decorating and design, ReStore has volunteer opportunities available. Find out more on the Habitat for Humanity of Smith County website.

Sources:
https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2407011.jsp https://www.easttexasfoodbank.org/join-the-fight/donate-time/ https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/group-opportunities
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/about-deloitte/us-2017-deloitte-volunteerism-survey.pdf