Upcoming ACOM Event Calendar

August 2009

August 20, 2009
Topic: Economic Update from the Industry Experts

September 2009

Idea Network
September 17, 2009
Track 1: Working Effectively with MINT
Track 2: How to Capitalize on Your CMP Designation

October 2009

October 15, 2009
Topic: APEX Update

November 2009

Idea Network
November 19, 2009
Track 1: Discussion of Housing and Registration Issues
Track 2: Discussion of Food and Beverage Issues

January 2010

Annual Conference
January 8-10
Dallas, Texas
Westin City Center

What, Me Worry?

By Dawn Penfold, CMP
President, Meetingjobs

Alfred E. Neuman, for those old enough to remember MAD Magazine, is perhaps the only one of us whose motto remains, “What, me worry?” The rest of us, regardless of our position or status, are experiencing various stages and degrees of stress and anxiety. Stress is a natural reaction to transition, change or danger. Stress floods your blood stream with adrenaline and causes the heart to beat faster. Freshly oxygenated blood is pumped to your muscles as fast as possible. The early cave man used stress in a positive way to run like hell when caught in the cross hairs of a hungry saber tooth tiger. Anxiety, the evil cousin of stress was used in a negative way when he panicked, froze and became dinner for the same hungry saber tooth. So, with the demise of huge prehistoric man-eaters how should we handle stress and alleviate anxiety?

Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to transition and change. Stress has a positive connotation. Stress can help to concentrate your emotions and your thoughts. It can help you meet deadlines, or shoot game winning baskets from the top of the circle. Anxiety is a negative reaction to the same influences. It leads to numbness and paralysis and sleep deprivation. It is very important to ensure that you do all you can to use the “positive “ energy available from stress, rather than falling into fear and inaction. Putting these things into the context of Meetingjobs and the current employment environment here is what we must do to survive.

First of all you have to realize that stress is a by-product of change. Knowing that change is imminent is enough to raise the blood pressure and cause sweaty palms for some people. Please remember that being open to new opportunities and options is necessary. Having one job at the end of your formal education, let alone one career in your life is a thing of the past. To give you an example I’ll use me. I majored in French. About as useful as an old subway token, but it did get me to France for a couple of years in college which was really wonderful. After college I worked for the Mayor of New York. The job ended and I moved to a different city and worked for a major hotel company. I hated it and became a meeting planner. I moved to a couple of different jobs due to either wanting to improve my situation, being fired, or being downsized, which is actually the same thing as being fired, but they were nicer about it. I then began the Meeting Candidate Network on a shoestring and that evolved into Meetingjobs. The totals? Seven jobs in four distinctly different industries. In today’s world a typical employment history.

If you are employed, continue to be productive at your job. Continue to maintain good relations with your co-workers, your superiors, your network of colleagues, and anyone else who may be potentially helpful to you. Be discreet if you are looking for other positions. Organizations are looking for reasons to cut their payrolls. Do not become a statistic because you are sloppy or disgruntled at work. Be willing and eager to cross train in different departments. Take on assignments that are important. If you are given nothing but busy work be very afraid. If the worst does happen though and you do find your self unemployed what next?

Beyond word of mouth or recommendations from others, your resume is your first contact with future employers. Make sure to have your resume fully updated and polished at all times. You should always do some minor editing to your resume when sending it to employers to make it specifically stand out to them, but you do not want to start from scratch. Having a well-written resume ready to go is a stress reliever. Meetingjobs can help you tweak your resume if you wish, or there are lots of web sites that can help in this endeavor.

As your resume circulates and your network helps to find open positions, the second step will be the interview or series of interviews. Remember that anything that causes change also induces stress. Interviewing is stressful. That’s OK. Know going in that the company interviewing you has a need to fill. Learn as much as you can about the job in question. Know before you sit down for the interview what the company does. Where they operate, how their balance sheet looks. Who are their competitors? How is the competition doing? And so on. All of this information is available either at the library or on line. Virtually every organization has a web site that can provide useful information. Do not go into an interview without doing your homework first. The more you know about them and their needs, the better you can present your skill set and background to meet their needs. At this point in the process they do not care about you as a person. They do, however, care about you as a potential solution to a staffing problem. Use the useful stress to be prepared!

What the heck, you got the job!! Starting a new job is stressful. Be sure to use the time between the offer and job start to learn even more about the company culture, dress code, work hours, training and other matters affecting what your day-to-day operations will be. Open a dialogue with your future manager or the manager’s administrative assistant to help ease the first week jitters. New hires tend to be the first ones fired so be prepared to hit the ground running.

The first month on a job is the time to learn the politics and culture of your new employer. It is not the time to play office politics. As important as a sense of humor is to making an office environment pleasant make sure to err on the side of caution when it comes to jokes or amusements. By all means be yourself; just be your very professional self. Take the time to enter into any outside of the office activities offered. Do people go out for drinks after work? Is there a bowling or softball team? You want to be part of the team so join in team activities. You will be more comfortable with your new co-workers and they will be more comfortable with you. Good luck.

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