Doostang News August 23: Some Pointers for Requesting Time Off

Investment Banking Associate , New York, NY
Consultant, Washington, DC
Venture Capital Associate, San Francisco, CA
Human Resources Associate, New York, NY
Analyst, Chicago, IL

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Requesting time off can feel a tad awkward.  Sure, you’re entitled to a life – but does your employer know that?  Many of us encounter frustration from managers or passive aggressiveness from coworkers when we make mention of our hiatus from the office.  So what’s the best way to slip out for a week or two unscathed?  Read on:

Give Plenty of Notice

While the standard notice for leaving a job is generally two weeks, it’s best to let your boss and coworkers know about an upcoming vacation as far ahead as you can.  Sooner really is better because it gives your peers enough time to digest the news and plan ahead for it.  Doing so will also make your own life easier, as more preparation beforehand will ensure a less messy aftermath when you return.  And really, what’s worse than returning from paradise to an office where all hell has broken loose?

Put Together a Plan

It will also make everyone’s life easier if you put together a plan, including a schedule that your coworkers can follow, important deadlines, and contact information – both for the people others will need to deal with on your behalf, and for you, should any emergencies arise.  The more thorough you are upfront, the fewer frantic calls and emails you’ll have to deal with when you’re miles away.

Don’t Jet During a Busy Time

While it may be tempting to flee the office during one of the busier periods, you’ll probably anger the people you work with if you do.  It’s more considerate to plan a vacation when you know things will be slow around the office, so that others can more easily take over for you.

Don’t Overlap

If possible, gauge when your coworkers might be taking time off, so that you can make sure not to jump ship at the same time.  Worse than missing one valuable employee is missing two – or more – so try to plan your time off strategically.  It may also be helpful to have these discussions with coworkers before you book your getaway, as some bosses may deny you time off if another employee will be gone at the same time.

It’s tempting to take off and leave as little information behind as possible when you’re trying to escape the office.  But some thoughtful planning beforehand will go much farther in ensuring a well-deserved, stress-free break!

Bon voyage!
The Doostang Team

Doostang News July 26: How Transferable Skills Acquired in the Classroom can be Valuable to Your Resume

Investment Analyst, New York, NY
Director of Technology Services, Nationwide
Associate, San Francisco, CA
Marketing Operations Analyst, Boston, MA
Analyst, Los Angeles, CA

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One of the challenges recent graduates often face is that they have very little work experience.  They leave college armed with all the knowledge and enthusiasm vital to the workplace, but have a much harder time filling up their resume.  The solution?  Focus on transferable skills acquired from the classroom that can be applied to the workplace:

Communication

Classrooms are rife with opportunities for communication.  Any time students collaborate on a project, share their views on an article, or review and peer edit papers, they are engaging in prime communication skills that are ideally suited for the workplace.

Meeting Deadlines

Deadlines are one of the main tenets of college education, and though many college students spend a good chunk of their academic careers procrastinating, the ability to ultimately get things done on time is a sign of a valuable employee.

Multi-tasking

Students may not feel it, but they are excellent multi-taskers.  Any individual who can juggle several classes, sports, activities, and a social life is a person who can bring an equal sense of balance to their busy life in the workplace.

Research

It often seems that the majority of what a student does in college is research.  All of those long hours spent in the library prepare you for research you may have to do on the job.  More than this, the research skills of a recent graduate are probably much more fresh than those of a seasoned employee who hasn’t stepped into the reference section of a library in years.

Adaptability

College years are some of the most shifting, unpredictable years of an individual’s life.  First, that person is uprooted from their home, then they are placed into a foreign environment with many unfamiliar people and are left to fend for themselves, often for the first time in their lives.  Someone who is able to successfully make it out of this situation unscathed can certainly take on the corporate world, learn to adapt to a new office environment and work with peers.


While listing the transferable skills that you acquired at college may not seem as convincing as listing job experience on a resume, hiring managers understand that you are young and haven’t had as much time out in the workforce.  Moreover, they also know that college, in and of itself, is practically a full-time job.  Always remember to focus on what you know and what you’re good at, and take pride in the fact that as an individual new to the working world, you have a fresh, creative, unbiased outlook on the market because that is often what a company is looking for.

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Good Employees Avoid Bad Habits – A List of Common Workplace Faux Pas (Part 2)

bad-workplace-behavior

Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
Principal Consultant, Nationwide
Associate – Private Equity Firm, Bay Area, CA
Business Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Equity Trader, Washington, DC

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Hey you! Nail-biter! Stop talking with your mouth full of food! It’s time for Doostang’s second installment of bad workplace habits to avoid. That’s right – last time we conquered potty mouths, online game addictions, Negative Nancies, and fashion disasters. Confused? Check it out and go for a little refresher read if you’re already spewing obscenities or showing up to work in scrubs (except for you, Doc). And, if we didn’t give you enough to focus on last go-around, we’re slapping your wrist just a few more times with the following career-saving precautions. Onward!

The Early Bird Catches the Worm; The Late Bird…Gets Fired

Ok, maybe it doesn’t go quite like that. But it’s safe to assume that if you’re chronically late, you may find yourself packing your work life into a cardboard box before you hit the road for the very last time. Whether you work on the clock or have a more informal standing date with the office, it’s imperative to show up to work on time. Failure to do so implies laziness. Employers will feel hesitant to rely on you if you are inconsistent or don’t seem to care. It’s ok if you get held up from time to time – just be sure to make the proper phone calls to the individuals whose schedules you will affect, so that they can plan accordingly. Your start time is a commitment, one you should hold yourself to if you want to excel in a company.

procrastinationThere’s No Time Like The Present!

Got a big project to work on? Work on it now! Don’t let it loom over you like a dark cloud. Ever notice how sometimes the mere notion of a certain task can be just as bad – or worse – than the task itself? The longer you continue putting it off, the more you draw it out. Since anticipation intensifies the pain, cut it out of the equation. Turn that assignment in early and get it off your hands (and score bonus points with the boss). Another drawback to waiting it out is that you may miscalculate and run into unforeseen obstacles that you failed to work into your timeline – and then you’re really hosed, because then you’re submitting late work…and we all know what happens to that late bird…

“When I Want Your Opinion I’ll Give it to You”

…A wise man once said. We hearken back to individuality here: in the same manner that a dress code eclipses uniqueness, so too does the unspoken rule that sometimes you just need to sit down and shut up. This plays itself out in multiple ways.

1. You find yourself at a company meeting. Unless this happens to be an open discussion forum, it’s advisable not to chime in every other PowerPoint slide.

2. Your boss decides to do something one way. Your wisdom and expertise establishes you the authority on matters, inspiring you to inform him of a better way. But unless your superior is at risk of putting the company in peril, unsolicited advice can very often spell out insubordination.

3. Even the largest corporations are receptive to employee feedback, but if you disagree with a company policy on principle rather than effectiveness, no one wants to hear about it. Your employer’s mission statement is your mantra from nine to five. Remember if you’re not the Big Guy in the office, you don’t run the show.

trophy2On Your Superhuman Abilities:

While you may rightly deserve praise for every glorious feat you perform in the office, the simple truth is that no one is going to give it to you every single time. That said, when you actively claim credit for everything you do, you may aggravate your coworkers or your boss. Performing well is your job, and no one is going to give you a gold star for every small personal victory. Be content to quietly accept praise when it is given, and your employer will appreciate you all the more. Equally as important, remember to share credit with others when it is due, and your coworkers will be gracious. When you try to one up the people working around you (or appear to do so by drawing unnecessary attention to your good deeds) you sow the seeds for resentment in the minds and hearts of your office buddies.

Our devotion of two blog entries to bad workplace habits may convey a certain pessimism in humankind of the career ilk. But of course here at Doostang we know that avoiding common workplace slipups boils down to common sense. As long as you’re a hard worker and pleasant to be around, you’ve got most of it down. Just remember not to interrupt when someone’s talking!

Much love,

The Doostang Team

Good Employees Avoid Bad Habits – A List of Common Workplace Faux Pas (Part 1)

Investment Banking Analyst – Technology, San Francisco, CA
Marketing Analyst, Boston, MA
Principal – Private Equity, Los Angeles, CA
Copywriter/Proofreader, New York, NY
Junior Consultant, London, UK

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A habit can be difficult to break; and, depending on the context, can make or break you. While some habits are assets in certain situations – such as always having an opinion or sticking out from the crowd – they can sometimes play to your detriment. Thus, equally important as changing some behavioral patterns is knowing when to tweak them just a little bit. And because people in the workforce tend to be an unruly bunch, Doostang is making this one a “two-parter” to ensure we cover all the bases. Read on for a list of our first installment of common bad workplace habits to avoid.

swearingWash that Mouth out with Soap!

When in doubt: keep it clean. And even when not in doubt:…keep it clean. (This one tends to resonate strongest with the recent grad crowd.) Swearing in the workplace is unprofessional, and you never know whom you’re going to offend. Your best bet is to speak in a manner that would befit your grandmother. If the old lady’s got a sailor mouth on her, find some other cute little granny to do right by. Try to avoid speech tics such as “like”, “um”, or “ya know”. Colloquialisms like “what up”, “yo”, or “later” shouldn’t be used right out of the gate. Finally, Kathy at reception isn’t “dude”, and your boss isn’t your “bro”.

Game Over

Hopefully we can all agree that your job is more important than a new high score. So please, for your own sake, log off of “Mafia Wars”, close the Minesweeper window, turn off whatever game it is that tickles your fancy and eats up your time. It’s ok to play a quick game to de-stress from time to time, but if all you can think about is racking up points on your online Bejeweled account, you have bigger problems…because your online activity probably isn’t going to fly with your boss. On a similar note, avoid excessive online chatting or checking your personal email account every five minutes. All these distractions will still be there when your shift ends. But during your working hours, your priority should be work.

Stay Positive!

Even if your job leaves you wanting to punch a wall, try not to complain about it all the time. People have a low tolerance for whiners in the office, so keep it to yourself or find someone else to vent to. If you see a problem, come up with a way to fix it instead of grumbling about it or pawning it off on someone else to boot. Others will admire, feed off of, and promote your positive energy. And, at the end of the day, they’ll be more likely to want to keep you around.

Dress to the Nines

The dress code: perhaps you feel that this doesn’t apply to you because you are an individual.

But dress codes exist for a reason – to uphold professionalism in the workplace. Stepping outside of the bounds may feel cool or liberating, but it can convey to your coworkers that you don’t care, or that you’re simply a slob. Companies vary on their policies regarding work attire, so it’s generally a good idea to dress more conservatively until you have a good idea of what the expectations are.

Habits don’t disappear overnight. It takes time and dedication to change a pattern of behavior, so be patient! And stay tuned for yet another list of faux pas to conquer.

Until next time,
The Doostang Team