Thursday, June 30, 2011

Veterans' Hiring Authorities

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Eligible and qualified veterans can be hired straight into federal civilian positions under a Veterans' Recruitment Appointment (VRA) without having to compete for the job!
VRA Eligibility Criteria
  • Disabled veterans
  • Veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war1 or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized;
OR
  • Veterans who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded;
OR
  • Veterans who was recently discharged or released from active service with other than a dishonorable discharge within the last three years. The Veterans Recruitment Appointment date for a recently separated veteran must occur before the end of the 3-year eligibility period and may not be extended. (Note: Veterans claiming eligibility on the basis of service in a campaign or expedition for which a medal was awarded must be in receipt of the campaign badge or medal.)
The candidate must meet the basic qualification requirements for the position. If you are VRA eligible and wish to be considered for a noncompetitive appointment, you can submit your résumé, along with a cover letter explaining your eligibility, to:
  • The Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC).
  • The Point of Contact (POC) listed on a vacancy announcement.
30 Percent or More Disabled Veteran Program

Eligible and qualified 30% or more disabled veterans can be hired straight into a federal civilian temporary appointment or term appointment without having to compete for the job!

A temporary appointment is a nonstatus, nonpermanent appointment lasting less than 1 year. It may be extended beyond 1 year but cannot last longer than 24 months and a term appointment lasts between 1 and 4 years.
30% or More Disabled Eligibility Criteria
  • Retired from active military service with a disability rating of 30 percent or more;
OR
  • Rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since 1991 or later, to include disability determinations from a branch of the Armed Forces1 at any time, as having a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more.
The candidate must meet the basic qualification requirements for the position. The agency may convert the employee to a permanent appointment at any time during the temporary or term appointment.

If you are a 30% or more disabled veteran and wish to be considered for a noncompetitive appointment, you can submit your résumé, along with a cover letter explaining your eligibility, to:
  • The installation Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC).
  • The Point of Contact (POC) listed on a vacancy announcement.
  • The installation Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office
Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA)

The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) gives veterans more opportunities to apply to vacancies in the federal civilian service by requiring agencies to include VEOA eligibles in their applicant pool for certain Merit Promotion recruitment efforts.

Merit Promotion is a recruitment method used to attract applicants from inside the federal civilian ranks. Applicants compete against each other based on their merit. Veterans and non- veterans are treated equally under Merit Promotion recruitment.

VEOA is not a veterans' preference program. Eligible veterans compete with status candidates for the vacancy on an equal footing. "Status candidates" are those already employed by the federal civilian service.

The vacancy announcement will indicate if the applicant pool will include VEOA eligibles.
VEOA Eligibility Criteria
  • A veteran who is a 5 or 10 point preference eligible;
OR
  • A veteran who substantially completed 3 or more years of active service and received an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Veterans' Avenues to Federal Employment

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Disabled Veterans

Veterans with a compensable service-connected disability are given 10-Point preference.

Unless the vacancy is for a professional or scientific position at pay grade GS-09 or higher, a 10-Point veteran will receive the following advantages in Competitive Examining:
  • If the applicants are ranked according to their score, 10-Point veterans will be listed first among applicants with the same score!
  • If the applicants are grouped according to their qualifications, 10-Point veterans who meet the eligibility requirements and basic qualifications of the position will automatically be placed in the highest quality group and will be listed first!
Veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more may be eligible to receive a noncompetitive federal civilian appointment. You will learn more about this in tomorrow's blog.

Hospitalized Service Members

Active duty service members who are wounded or ill, and are convalescing at military treatment facilities, may be eligible for a work experience program called Operation Warfighter.

This program is designed to give the service member an opportunity to explore career interests, develop job skills, and gain valuable federal work experience while recovering from their injuries.

Apprenticeships

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess Program to assist veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs through on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experience programs.

Additionally, federal managers may announce developmental or intern vacancies in their organization. The selectee begins at a starting pay grade level, and through on-the-job training and/or coursework, he/she is "developed" for non-competitive promotion to the higher pay grade level(s) listed on the vacancy announcement.

Veterans Seeking Degrees

There are several programs to assist veterans with attaining college credits and/or degrees. Below is a list of some of these programs. Click here to learn more.

Post-9/11 GI Bill - education benefit program for honorably discharged veterans with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after 9/11/01, or individuals discharged with a service- connected disability after 30 days.

Active Duty GI Bill - up to 36 months of education benefits for honorably discharged veterans with a high school diploma or GED. Additional eligibility requirements must be met.

Reserve GI Bill - education benefit program for members of the Selected Reserve.

REAP (Reserve Educational Assistance Program) - education benefit program for members of the Reserve components called or ordered to active duty in response to a war or national emergency (contingency operation) as declared by the President or Congress.

VEAP (Veterans Educational Assistance Program) - education benefit program for those who first entered active duty between 1/1/77 and 6/30/85 and elected to make contributions from their military pay to participate in the program.

Veterans Seeking Marketable Job Skills

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess Program to assist veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs through on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experience programs.

Operation Warfighter gives wounded or ill active duty service members who are convalescing at military treatment facilities an opportunity to explore career interests, develop job skills, and gain valuable federal work experience while recovering from their injuries.

Veterans-Only Jobs

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Veterans' Preference

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What Preference Does For You

Eligible veterans can receive preference in Appointments:
Preference in appointments increases the likelihood that eligible veterans will receive federal civilian appointments.
Eligible veterans can receive preference during a Reduction in Force (RIF):
Preference in RIF increases the likelihood that eligible veterans will keep their federal civilian appointments.
What Preference Does Not Do For You

Preference helps eligible veterans get a federal civilian job, but once the veteran becomes a federal employee his/her Veterans' Preference will not help him/her change federal jobs.
For example, a current federal employee who also happens to be a preference eligible veteran will not get preference for a promotion over non-veterans competing for the same promotion.
When Veterans' Preference Applies: Permanent Appointment, Temporary Appointment, Term Appointment and Overseas Limited Appointment.

When Veterans' Preference Does NOT Apply: Promotion, Reassignment, Change to Lower Grade/Level/Band, Transfer and Reinstatement.

Eligibility Requirements for Preference

Veteran must be discharged (released) from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions.

"Active Duty" is full time duty in the Armed Forces.
  • Reservists only receive credit for active duty for training, but not weekly or monthly assemblies or drills.
  • National Guard duty must be active duty in the service of the United States under title 10 USC, or under a call by the President or Secretary of Defense.
"Armed Forces" are the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
  • Military retirees at or above the rank of major or lieutenant commander (pay grade O-4) are not eligible for preference in appointment unless they are disabled veterans. (Reservists who will not begin drawing military retired pay until age 60 are exempt from this restriction).
  • Active duty for training in the Reserves or National Guard qualifies as "active duty" for preference purposes only if the veteran is disabled.
Types of Veterans' Preference

There are two types of veterans' preference: 5-Point and 10-Point preference. Veterans must meet the additional eligibility criteria for one of these types of preference to be considered "preference eligible." Veterans who meet the eligibility criteria for both types of preference are 10-Point veterans.
5 Point Veterans' Preference

In addition to the basic eligibility rules, to be eligible for 5-point preference the veteran must have served:
  • During a war
OR
  • During the period 28 Apr 1952 - 01 Jul 1955
OR
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after 31 Jan 1955 and before 15 Oct 1976
OR
  • During the Gulf War (02 Aug 1990 through 02 Jan1992)
OR
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning 11 Sep 2001, and ending on the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law as the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom
OR
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. (Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or campaign badge including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti qualifies for preference).
10 Point Veterans' Preference

There are four types of 10-point preference. In addition to the basic eligibility rules outlined previously:
1) 10-Point Compensable Disability Preference (CP)
To be eligible, the veteran must have served at any time and have a compensable service-connected disability rating of at least 10 percent but less than 30 percent.
2) 10-Point 30 Percent Compensable Disability Preference (CPS)
To be eligible, the veteran must have served at any time and have a compensable service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more.
3) 10-Point Disability Preference (XP)
To be eligible, the veteran must have served at any time and have a present serviceconnected disability or is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs but does not qualify as a CP or CPS; OR veteran received a Purple Heart.
4) 10-Point Derived Preference (XP)
May be given to the widow, widower, mother and/or spouse of a veteran who is unable to use the preference due to a service-connected disability or death:
  • Both the mother and the spouse/widow/widower may receive preference based on the same veteran's service if they meet the requirements.
  • None of the above can receive Derived Preference is the veteran is both living and qualified for Federal employment.
Veterans' Preference in Competitive Examining

Preference eligibles are given an edge in competitive examining. Competitive Examining is a recruitment method used to attract applicants from outside the federal civilian ranks. Candidates compete against each other based on the rating of their résumé/application.

Veterans' Preference eligibles are given consideration over non-preference eligibles when selections are made (except when the recruitment is for a professional or scientific position at pay grade GS-09 or higher).
  • Applicants with veterans' preference are listed ahead of other applicants in the same quality group.
  • The hiring official cannot select someone off a competitive examining referral list who does not have veterans' preference if there is a preference-eligible veteran in the same quality group unless the hiring official has appropriate grounds to bypass the veteran.
What 10-Point Preference Does For You
  • 10 point preference eligibles can apply to competitive examining vacancies at any time, even if the vacancy announcement has closed to new applications! If there is no immediate opening, the agency must retain the application in a special file for referral on future vacancies for up to 3 years. Call or email the Point of Contact (POC) listed on the vacancy announcement for more information.
  • Preference-eligible veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10%, and who meet or exceed the minimum qualifications of the vacancy, are referred at the top of the BQ group ahead of other preference eligibles and non- eligibles in the same group except for scientific or professional positions at the pay grade GS-09 level or higher.
OPM's VetGuide is the single most important reference for determining Veterans' Preference.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How Federal Vacancies Are Filled

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There are several ways a federal hiring manager can select someone to fill a vacancy. When a civilian vacancy opens up, the federal hiring official will recruit from one or more "applicant pools." An applicant pool is a group of individuals who share some type of eligibility criteria. Applicant pools are also known as the "Area of Consideration."

Federal vacancy announcements (also called "Job Announcements") will list the desired applicant pools in the Who May Apply section of the announcement. Here are some examples:
  • Vacancies may be open to just current or past federal employees (known as "status candidates" or "status employees" on some job announcement sites). Veterans may be eligible to compete against status candidates for these vacancies.
  • Vacancies may be open to applicants eligible for certain federal hiring programs. Veterans may be eligible for one or more of the federal veteran hiring programs.
  • Vacancies may be open to all U.S. citizens. Veterans may be eligible to receive "preference" for vacancies open to outside candidates.
Recruitment Methods

The recruitment method used to attract applicants from inside the federal civilian ranks is known as Merit Promotion.

Merit Promotion is a recruitment method used to attract applicants from inside the federal civilian ranks. Applicants compete against each other based on their merit. Veterans and non- veterans are treated equally under Merit Promotion recruitment.

The recruitment method used to attract applicants from outside the federal civilian ranks is known as Competitive Examining.

Competitive Examining is a recruitment method used to attract applicants from outside the federal civilian ranks. Candidates compete against each other based on the rating of their résumé/application.
Veterans' Preference eligibles are given consideration over non-preference eligibles when selections are made (except when the recruitment is for a professional or scientific position at pay grade GS-09 or higher).

The hiring official may choose to use both methods at the same time. It is not unusual to see the same vacancy advertised twice to different pools of applicants on separate vacancy announcements.

Note on Competitive Examining

Competitive examining applicants are placed into "quality groups. Typically, qualified candidates are placed into one of three quality groups:
  • Best Qualified (BQ)
  • Highly Qualified (HQ)
  • Qualified (Q)
Candidates in the BQ group will always be referred to the selecting official.
Candidates in the HQ group may be referred if there are more vacancies than there are interested BQ candidates.
Candidates in the Q group may be referred if there are more vacancies than there are interested BQ and HQ candidates.

Noncompetitive Recruitment

Hiring managers also have the flexibility to hire eligible candidates non-competitively (i.e., without needing to use Merit Promotion or Competitive Examining recruitment methods).

If two or more non-competitive applicants are considered for the same vacancy, the one with the highest Veterans' Preference is given preference over the other(s).

You will learn what your veterans' preference status is in tomorrow's blog.

How Veterans' Preference Can Help

In tomorrow's blog we'll show you whether or not you qualify for Veterans' Preference.
Veteran's preference increases the opportunities an eligible veteran has in attaining a federal job:
  • Veterans' preference can give eligible veterans an edge over non-veterans in Competitive Examining.
  • Veterans' preference can give eligible veterans an opportunity to apply to vacancies that are otherwise closed to outside candidates.
  • Veterans' preference can give eligible veterans opportunities for non-competitive job appointments.
No Guarantees

Having veterans' preference and/or making a referral list does not guarantee that you will get an interview or a job offer:
  • Federal hiring officials can select their new employees from ANY source. If the vacancy was advertised to both internal and external candidates, the hiring official can choose from either referral list.
  • The hiring official does not have to make a selection from any referral list if he/she has identified a candidate eligible for a noncompetitive appointment.
  • The hiring official does not have to conduct an interview.
  • The hiring official may not be able to select someone from a referral list if a priority placement candidate is identified.
  • Recruitment is sometimes canceled. This may be due to a hiring freeze, loss of funding, or other reasons.
You're Not Alone

If you are a veteran, seek help from trained professionals in your organization; these individuals will help you craft a solid resume and assist yoiu in your efforts to secure a federal civilian job. Feel free to browse this blog for entries related to writing resumes and interviewing tips. It is a free resource!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Get Paid to Chase Hurricanes!

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In today's blog, Dreamfedjob takes a look at the jobs associated with Hurricane Hunters.

There are five different flying jobs at the Hurricane Hunters. ALL jobs are part of the Air Force Reserve. Half of the positions are part-time (traditional reservists), and half are full-time (Air Reserve Technicians).

Let's take a closer look at the duties of each one of these positions:

Pilot:
Every mission requires two pilots (one is designated the aircraft commander (AC) and the other is the co-pilot) and they are the guys/gals that fly the airplane. The AC, is in charge of all the other crewmembers, and makes sure the mission is done safely and on time.

For additional information on being a pilot click here!

Navigator:
All weather missions require a navigator (nav) who is responsible for preparing a navigational flight plan, which includes the route, headings, and altitudes to be flown, checkpoints, enroute times, and estimated fuel consumption. The nav prepares charts for the flight, and inspects his/her navigational equipment prior to flight. During flight, the nav uses the equipment (inertial, global positioning satellite, and radios) to determine where the aircraft is, and uses radar to avoid severe weather.

For additional information on being a navigator click here!


Aerial Reconnaissance Weather Officer:
The weather officer acts as the Flight Director in the storm environment. They continuously monitor atmospheric data that is ingested from the aircraft sensors every second. They check this data for accuracy and then use the information to guide the crew right to center of a storm where they direct a “sonde” release and take observations that they disseminate through satellite communications directly to the National Hurricane Center.

Weather Loadmaster/Dropsonde Systems Operator:
The "load" actually has two jobs on the WC-130. They are a Loadmaster, which requires making sure everything is loaded and tied down properly in the cargo compartment, as well as scanning the exterior of the airplane during engine start, and monitoring the health of the plane during the flight by inspecting the engines and other aircraft systems. They can be tasked for several missions, in addition to weather  reconnaissance, such as aero medical or transportation.

During a weather mission they are responsible for collecting vertical weather profile data. They do this by using an instrument called a dropsonde which is a special weather instrument which acts similar to a weather balloon (except it falls). The Dropsonde Operator drops a sonde each time we go through the eye of the storm, plus in other areas of interesting weather.

Related careers:

Aircrew Technician
Aircraft Operations (Pilots)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Jobs with the Federal Government

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Summers are synonymous with hot days at the beach, picnics at the park, and lots of fun outdoors. For some, summers are also a busy time of year—especially if you’re a student looking for a summer job.

Fortunately for you, the government is hiring.

Federal agencies have many summer jobs available for both students and recent college grads. The best part is that many of these positions are available across the country—not just in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

Wide-Ranging Jobs

Every year, federal agencies turn to students to fill temporary positions that range from administrative assistants and technicians to other support staff in the fields of engineering, national security, environment, health, and technology.

You can see the extensive array of jobs available by going to the student section of USAJobs.gov, an online portal that centralizes job postings across the federal government.

“There are opportunities virtually in every area you can imagine,” said Angela Bailey, Deputy Associate Director for Recruitment and Hiring at the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that runs USAJobs.gov.

Wages for these positions vary from $9 to $15 an hour, and applicants must be at least 16 years of age. Although you need to be a U.S. citizen to get most of these jobs, there are some positions for noncitizens (it depends on the position and the agency).

How to Apply for a Job

Federal summer job searches generally begin by going to USAJobs.gov/studentjobs/ where you can search postings by keywords, geographical areas, and type of student positions. If you find a job that you like, you can apply for it right there on the site.

Federal agencies are not required to post all of their jobs on USAJobs.gov, and in fact many positions are not announced there. That’s why Bailey suggests that you use the portal as a guide for the type of government work that interests you and then reach out to agencies.

“I recommend that students visit the agencies’ websites or call them by phone to see if there are any jobs available,” she said.

To increase the chances of landing a summer job with the federal government, Bailey offers the following advice:
  • You should start searching for a summer job in March or April. So you've waited and now June is almost over... Don't give up.  Keep looking.
  • Apply for jobs related to your area of study. For example, if you’re a psychology major then look for jobs in industrial organization; if you study computers look for opportunities in the area of cyber security.

  • Speak with school counselors since your school may have a direct relationship with federal agencies and they can help you land a job.
  • Speak with someone you know who works for the agency where you’d like to work. This person might help you understand the process better and offer you more specific advice.
Long-Term Opportunities

Besides summer jobs, the government has other programs for students and recent graduates including internships, apprenticeships, fellowships, and grants to help students get more education or experience in a specialized field.

Bailey says students should look at these summer jobs as more than temporary employment, as they can be the beginning of a career with the federal government. These temporary jobs allow students to see if public service is something they want to do in the long term.

So far, it’s worked pretty well for both agencies and students. “We get to try them out and they get to try us out,” she said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

What It Takes to be a Transportation Security Officer

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So what does it take to be hired as an officer?
SApplicants are tested before they’re hired, and have quite a bit of required training afterward. Applicants for “screening” jobs take a series of image interpretation tests before they are ever offered a job. (About one in 20 applicants actually becomes an officer.) Even after they’ve been on the job, TSA requires ongoing training throughout the year.

Once hired, officers:

- Participate in more than 120 hours of classroom and on-the-job training before they ever screen a person or a bag;
- Undergo a series of tests before receiving a work assignment;
- Complete even more training if they are going to screen both passengers and baggage (More than half of our officers do this); and
- Complete an annual certification process that includes more written tests, image interpretation tests, and a third party evaluation.

So training is a regular, important part of an officer’s job.

Seven times every day, every checkpoint in the U.S. is tested with ‘fake’ threats to ensure that our officers are on alert. Most of these fake items are very difficult to identify on the computer screen, and most of these items are detected. Unfortunately, we’re all most likely to hear about the few prohibited items that pass through undetected rather than the thousands of items that are identified at the checkpoint.

On a typical day in the U.S., security officers find two guns and around 2,800 knives and blades (of varying sizes) on passengers and in carry-on bags. Those are the most commonly discovered prohibited items, but it’s hard to imagine how many other potential threats are identified on a daily basis.

The TSA doesn't want anything to happen ‘on their watch.’ It means that officers want to be thorough even though it might be inconvenient for us sometimes. It means that they take our safety, security, and the threat seriously, and try their best to prevent and deter the individuals who wish to do us harm.

Related Careers:

Border Patrol Enforcement
 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Did you see "The Hurt Locker"? Find out what it takes to be a Bomb Appraisal Officer (BAO)

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OK, let's get it right from the start... the movie was not 100% accurate about Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel. 

The Hurt Locker is a high-tension, well-made, action movie that will certainly keep most viewers on the edges of their seats. In real life, EOD techs don't conduct dangerous missions as autonomous three-man teams without communications gear ... Another thing you'll rarely hear in combat is an EOD E-7 suggesting to two or three of his guys that they leave the scene of an explosion in an Iraqi city by saying: 'C'mon, let's split up. We can cover more ground that way..

The movie portrays the lead character as more of a run and gun cowboy type…exactly the kind of person the military or government agencies are not looking for. This is serious business folks, Team leaders don't have that kind of invincibility complex, and if they do, they aren't allowed to operate. A team leader's first priority is getting his team home in one piece.  OK, so now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on what it takes to be a "bomb" guy/girl.  There are different careers associated with bombs.  In the military they have:
  1. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel; and
  2. Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) specialists.

In Public Safety there are:
  1. Public Safety Bomb Disposal (PSBD) specialists;
  2. Bomb Appraisal Officers (BAO); and
  3. Bomb Squads
This blog deals with the Bomb Appraisal Officer (BAO) which are employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  All BAOS serve three primary roles.

1. Workforce Training. This is where we are expected to focus the majority of our efforts. BAOs are charged with finding effective ways to share their expertise and years of real-world experience with the workforce. We build simulated explosive devices and run them through the screening process to show the workforce what the terrorists are doing and what they are capable of. This is challenging in that no two airports or groups of TSOs are exactly the same. It is incumbent on the BAOs to find effective way to do this, regardless of the challenges.

2. Conduct Advanced Alarm Resolution (AAR). When the conventional alarm resolution process has been exhausted and the alarm has not been resolved, the BAO is to be called. At his point, the BAO is responsible for resolving the alarm, with zero margin for error.

3. Serve as the TSA subject matter expert liaison for law enforcement and bomb squad partners. BAOs speak both TSA and bomb squad languages. This is important during a critical response event. In addition, it is not uncommon for law enforcement and bombs squads to request technical assistance and advice from BAOs for incidents at the airport as well as those unrelated to airport operations.

Typically all BAOs have a very similar background. They are “Bomb Guys”. Either as a military EOD Technician or as an FBI certified Public Safety Hazardous Devices Technician. TSA has established as a minimum requirement that all BAO candidates have been a Certified Bomb Technician from either of these two programs and served a minimum of 3 years as a technician in a Bomb Disposal Unit. All BAOs are interviewed, tested and hired based upon their experience, background and understanding of the terrorist threat. Nationally, if you add it up and divide by our numbers you are looking at an average of 17.5 yrs experience, per BAO across the board. That is an incredible amount of expertise at TSA's fingertips.

Training
All new BAOs are required to complete a 3 Phase training certification program. Phase-I all BAOs are required to complete Basic Screener Training (CP and CB). Phase-II is the BAO Certification and Instructor Presentation Skills Course. Since all BAOs will be spending most of their time conducting training, IPS certification is required. Then in Phase-III each new BAO is required to complete a minimum 40hr OJT course with a Senior BAO at an airport with an established and successful BAO-TSA Training program. Once all 3 phases are completed they are certified as operational BAOs.

Job Outlook

Originally authorized to hire approximately 300 BAOs, TSA is now looking to add additional BAOs to expand the program significantly. Expansion provides the opportunity to train more people and nobody loves to talk about their job more than a “Bomb Guy."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Should you take a Federal Buyout?

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1. What are Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments?  Why are Federal agencies offering them?

Separation incentive payments are also known as buyouts.  A buyout is a lump sum payment made by an agency to surplus or displaced employees who volunteer to resign or retire to help the agency achieve its restructuring goals.  Buyouts are a more effective, less expensive, and more humane way to reduce or restructure the workforce while minimizing or reducing the need to involuntarily separate employees.


2. Does the new law change eligibility for retirement?

No. If you are under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), you can take regular optional retirement if you are 55 with at least 30 years of service; age 60 with 20 years of service; or age 62 with 5 years.  If your agency offers early retirement, you must be at least 50 with 20 years of service or have 25 years of service at any age.  An employee under FERS also is eligible for an immediate annuity if he/she has 10 years of service and has reached the minimum retirement age (55 if born before 1948, and gradually increasing to 57). An employee under CSRS must meet the 1-out-of-last-2 year's coverage requirement and all employees must have at least 5 years of civilian service.


3. Who is eligible to apply for an incentive payment under the new law?

Employees are eligible if they voluntarily resign or retire under conditions established by their agency and meet other requirements of the applicable law.  You can apply if you:

  • receive a buyout offer during a timeframe established by your agency and approved by the Office of Personnel Management in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget;
  • accept the buyout offer; and
  • voluntarily retire, retire under voluntary early retirement, or voluntarily resign during the approved buyout window.
However, you are not eligible to receive a buyout if you:
  • are a reemployed annuitant;
  • have a disability on the basis of which you would be eligible for a disability retirement;
  • are serving under an appointment with a time limitation;
  • have not been on-board with the agency without a break in service for 3 continuous years;
  • are in receipt of a specific notice of involuntary separation for misconduct or unacceptable performance;
  • have received a buyout before but have not repaid it in full;
  • are covered by statutory reemployment rights from another organization;
  • have received a recruitment or relocation bonus within 24 months of separating to receive a buyout ;
  • have received a retention bonus within 12 months of separating to receive a buyout;
  • are a reemployed annuitant; or
  • are in a position your agency has excluded.

4. What does an "appointment without time limitation" mean?

An employee on an appointment with a time limit works only until a specified date and then goes off the rolls.  The employing agency sets the ending date when it hires the individual and/or when it extends the appointment.  For example, temporary and term employees serve with a time limit, so they are not eligible for an incentive payment.  Career and career-conditional employees and permanent employees in the excepted service have no limit so they are eligible.


5. What does "continuous service" mean?

To be eligible for an incentive payment, you must have 3 years of continuous service at the same agency with no breaks.  Going off the rolls for even 1 day is a break in service and would disqualify you for an incentive payment.  All 3 continuous years must be in the agency which is offering the buyout.


6. I retired from the military but am now a civilian employee.  Can I apply for a separation incentive?

Yes, if you are otherwise eligible.  The agency will figure the incentive payment only on the basis of your civilian service.


7. When is the earliest I can leave with an incentive payment?  When is the latest?

The timeframe is contingent upon the buyout window requested by the agency and approved by the Office of Personnel Management in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget


8. If I meet all the requirements, do I automatically get an incentive payment if I leave?   What if my agency gets more requests for incentive payments than are necessary to meet its reduced staffing targets?  How will it decide which requests to approve? 

You are eligible to apply for an incentive payment if you meet all the requirements set by the law and your agency.  Agencies may exclude certain jobs or units from the incentive payment offer.  In handling applications, the agency must use a fair and objective method to determine the order in which applications will be approved.


9. How much will I get if I separate for an incentive payment?

An incentive payment is the amount of severance pay you would get, or $25,000 (or an amount set by the agency head)  -- whichever is less.  Severance pay is figured as if you would get it; you don't have to be eligible for severance pay.  (Severance pay is normally only for people who separate involuntarily. Leaving Federal service with an incentive payment is a voluntary action.) 

The amount of severance pay would be 1 week's basic pay for each of the first 10 years of your civilian service, plus 2 weeks' basic pay for each year over 10 years.  An age adjustment allowance of 10% is added for each year you are over 40. (No credit is given for military service unless the service interrupted otherwise creditable civilian service and the employee returned to civilian service through the exercise of a legal restoration right.)


10. When will I receive my incentive payment?  Will it be all at once (lump sum) or monthly?  Is it taxable?

The incentive payment will be sent as soon as possible after the date of your separation.  Because we must first resolve any leave errors, salary offsets, and employee debts to the Government, we cannot guarantee a specific date.  Payment is also subject to garnishment for alimony and child support.  The incentive payment is taxable.  You will receive it as a lump sum (less Federal tax withholding, applicable State/local taxes, FICA/Medicare).


11. Do I have to make a commitment to leave if I accept an incentive payment?

You will be asked to sign an agreement with your agency which says that, in exchange for an incentive payment, you agree to resign or retire on a specific date.  When employees change their minds, the agency might not be able to meet its downsizing goal.  The separation is voluntary and generally can be withdrawn by the employee at any time prior to separation, except in limited circumstances.

Employees are urged to take the application for an incentive seriously and be prepared to separate on the agreed date in the event that the agency has a valid reason to deny the employee's request to withdraw the buyout agreement.


12. What does the incentive payment agreement say?

The agreement says that you agree to leave by a certain date in return for the incentive payment.  It also says that if you accept an incentive payment and subsequently become reemployed with the Government of the United States, in either a temporary or permanent status or under a personal services contract, for 5 years following the effective date of your separation, you will be required to repay the full amount of the incentive payment prior to your first day of employment.


13. What rights and benefits would I be giving up to take an incentive payment to retire or resign rather than a RIF separation?

  • Selection priority under the Career Transition Assistance and Interagency Career Transition Assistance Programs;
  • Placement assistance;
  • Taking a job in Government within next 5 years without paying back the incentive payment;
  • Full amount of severance pay (if eligible);
  • Discontinued Service Retirement.

14. May I take a Discontinued Service Retirement, the lump-sum refund of retirement contributions, and an incentive payment?

 No. Incentives are paid to employees who leave voluntarily.  The lump-sum refund is available only to employees who were separated involuntarily no later thanSeptember 29, 1994, or who have a critical medical condition.  Discontinued Service Retirement is based on an involuntary separation.


15. If I leave with an incentive payment, can I take a job in another Federal agency? Am I eligible for placement assistance?

If you have retired or resigned with an incentive payment under this law, you must repay the entire amount of the incentive if you take a job with the Federal Government within 5 years of your separation date with the incentive payment.  This repayment requirement covers any kind of employment (for example, permanent, temporary, expert, consultant, reemployed annuitant) as well as personal services contracts.

You are not entitled to any placement assistance or selection priority because employees volunteerto leave Federal service with an incentive payment.  Placement assistance is for employees who are involuntarily separated.


16. Can the agency delay my separation until after the "window" and still give me an incentive payment when I leave?

No. To receive an incentive payment the effective date of your resignation or retirement must be during the agency's approved window period.


17. Leaving Federal service with the incentive payment is supposed to be voluntary.  If I'm eligible but don't choose to leave, can my agency retaliate by moving me to another position?

Incentives are for voluntary separations.  Coercion is prohibited.  However, after the window closes, later restructuring could mean the agency would have to reassign or even separate employees.  To take these actions agencies would have to follow requirements of law, regulation, and applicable negotiated procedures. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What if someone tells you that you're being let go?

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What do you do and say at that awful moment?
Keep your mouth shut. Keep your hand away from the pen. Sign nothing. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Ask questions. At the risk of sounding adversarial these people have a script. Human Resources and the layoff managers are war-gamed against a script because they need to protect themselves legally. If you only ask questions, in a really calm way, you can get them to move off-script. And when they move off-script, they could say something that you can use in your favor. Not necessarily against them, but certainly in your favor. So don't sign the severance package at that moment; find out what their reasoning was behind you being selected as someone to lay off. And expect a nondescript answer. "It wasn't you — it's us." That typical breakup line.

Is it O.K. to express that you think the layoff is unfair, if you think it really shouldn't have been you?
Probably not. The reason why is that it makes no difference. They're not suddenly going to press the rewind button and totally unlay you off. It's just going to make you look sour, and it's going to leave a bad taste in everybody's mouth. And you're going to look back and say, "Gosh, I wish I hadn't said that." It gets you nowhere, and dignity will get you everywhere.

Is there any point in writing down what's been said to you?
Absolutely. In fact, even if what is being said to you seems innocent, if you take that document to an attorney who looks it over and knows what he's looking for, there could be something buried in that document that can give you leverage for a more substantial severance package or even a wrongful-termination suit. It's going to give you bargaining leverage, ultimately. And again, never sign the severance agreement right then and there. It's ridiculous that it takes you much longer to buy a car than it does to lose your job. Nobody ever expects anybody on a reasonable basis to sign any document under duress. It's completely realistic, reasonable to expect to take that document home or a copy of it so that you can look at it with your spouse, look at it with your attorney. There are all sorts of things embedded in a severance package that you can negotiate to your favor, even if it means negotiating an extra month of health insurance.

Who do your files belong to? Are you allowed to take them?
No. Your files are company property. If you have extra time, if they give you a couple of weeks to tidy up business, you can probably use your contact list, because those are relationships that you carry with you, to let people know that you're leaving. You can set the tone for why you're leaving without making you sound retaliatory. But in terms of company property and documents and company secrets, those belong to the company, and you should leave them alone.

Should you tell everyone in the office what happened, or should you leave quietly?
It depends upon the company. If you leave under mysterious circumstances, people might think you got arrested! We think you should be open let people know what happened. You can tell people you got laid off without sounding really venomous about it. These are people you're going to want to work with in your future, especially if you work in a very tight industry or a region like the Washington DC/Northern VA Area, where people know each other for years and years. They just cycle through the various companies. You're going to see these people again. So the last thing you want is a reputation for being vicious.

What do you tell your own kids?
Be honest with them at an age-appropriate level. Say good things about your company so that they don't grow up thinking that employers are monsters. Say good things about your job and how you felt about it while you were doing it. Invite them to participate in the new phase of the family life, without making them feel overburdened by a financial problem.

What if you think your dismissal is age discrimination? Is it worth going to a lawyer these days?
We think so. Go to somebody who's an expert in employee law and see. If you're seeing that a whole layer of employees who happen to be graying at the temples are the ones who are being disappeared, you have yourself a class-action lawsuit, possibly, and that's something worth exploring. The attorney may say, "Not worth your effort." But it's better to make a decision based on information than just making assumptions.

Any tips about health insurance?
One of the experts that we talked to said that if you think you're about to be laid off, get your physical done while your company coverage is still paying for it. Get a recent document that says you are in great shape, so when the time comes for you to go out and get your own coverage, you have a document that's new that you can show to insurance companies to prove that you're a good health-insurance risk. When people see how much COBRA costs on a monthly basis, the reality of that sets in really fast. There are all sorts of ways of getting coverage, including the warehouse stores. Costco is offering health-care coverage now. So there are alternatives. A lot of the associations are offering something. So there are ways of patching together coverage so you never have to be totally without.

Is it O.K. to take any job in the short run just to have money, or do you have to be discerning about it because of your résumé?
It depends upon how badly you need money. Don't be precipitous if you don't have to be. If you have to get new work right away, try to make it consulting work that's at your level. A great place for consulting work is the place that just laid you off. They need to get that work done; they just needed to trim the overhead. You can conceivably continue working at that company.

You need to triage your finances so you know which debts to prioritize and which to neglect if your money runs out. Paying your car note is central to finding employment for most people. It's practically higher than paying your mortgage or rent. In fact, you may need to live with friends or relatives until you can get back on your feet.

Figure in your unemployment benefits.Most people have unemployment benefits they can count on for only a short bit of time after they’ve lost their jobs. When a recession is particularly long and nasty, those benefits are usually extended for longer periods of time. It may tide you over for a bit, but don’t let this lull you into complacency about finding your next job.

What shouldn't you prioritize paying?
Your credit cards. People say, "But that will hurt my credit..." Look, if you're in a situation where there's no money coming in and you have to decide between paying the mortgage and putting food on the table, chances are your credit is already damaged.

Work your network.If you’ve got great relationships with your colleagues and ex-colleagues, you may have a leg up with your job search. Get in touch with them through social sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.com. This is one more reason why it’s important to stay in good terms with your work chums.

What do you tell a prospective employer about your layoff? How honest can you be?
We think you can be completely honest. In fact, in this phase, if you're not, the employer is probably going to wonder. Don't lie. This is the era of the no-fault layoff. Anyone who judges you for having been laid off doesn't know what they're doing.

Don’t feel discouraged! It’s easy to feel out of sorts when the job search takes longer than you expect. But these days, a lot of people are in the same boat. It’s important to stay persistent though and to keep your spirits up when you’re on your hunt. Tomorrow may just be the day you land something.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

We all Do It -- Procrastination.

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“Maybe it will just go away, if I put it off.”   “I really am not into this.”  “I can’t concentrate.”  The list can go on and on when we try to put off a task.  Procrastination prevents us from moving from one task to another.  We cannot quite get the flow, and then we do not feel good about ourselves.

Since it is often difficult for us to recognize our faults, the web site, employer-employee.com provides the following signals that you may be a procrastinator:

  • Do you find yourself setting unrealistic high standards, thus making it difficult for you to begin the project?
  • Do you get so lost in the details of the project that you find it difficult to complete the work?
  • Do you put off projects until the last minute thinking that the deadline pressure will motivate you?
  • Do you over load yourself with projects and consequently cannot focus on what needs to be done?
  • Do you avoid doing a task when you think you should not be doing it and are angry about it?
  • Do you avoid a task because you fear doing it?
Reasons for Procrastination and Ways to Beat It

There are many reasons for a person to procrastinate, but the basic reasons are perfectionism, fantasizing, fear, crisis making, anger, overdoing, and pleasure seeking.   Let’s take a closer look at these reasons.
Perfectionism. This reason is very common.  The employee becomes absorbed in the minute details and tells himself that the project must be absolutely perfect before it can be completed perfectly.  If the task does not get done, the employee does not have to face the fear of the imperfect project.

To help yourself change, substitute the “shoulds” and ‘musts” to “It would be nice.”  “Let’s see how it turns out.”  Then set a deadline for yourself and the actual deadline for the project.  Your goal is to meet your deadline.  Your reward for meeting your deadline is that you have more time to make the project perfect.
Fantasizing.   These employees are better in their dream world of ideas rather than putting the ideas into reality.

Bring yourself back to earth.  Fantasize more in your head than in meetings.  If you find that you have backed yourself in a corner, tell your colleagues that you realize that the project needs to be broken down into smaller tasks.  Set up an earlier deadline for you.

Fear.  The employee is afraid of the task because it pushes him out of his comfort zone.  Since he is afraid a negative outcome will occur, the thought of doing the project makes him freeze.

Fear is good.  Repeat that mantra to yourself.  It is easier to defeat fear in the beginning, so it will not snowball.  As soon as you feel fear, do it!  About 90% of what we worry about does not happen.

Crisis Maker.  This employee thinks that he cannot become motivated until the last minute of the deadline.  He may intentionally create a crisis and then solve it at the last minute trying to make himself look good to his manager.  However, this does not endear the employee to his colleagues.

Your goal will be more difficult, since you have actually felt a psychological reward by being under many deadlines.  Set early deadlines and create your own rewards for preparing ahead of the deadline.

Anger.  The employee is angry because he has been assigned the task.  Therefore out of spite and anger, the employee does not complete the project in order to get back at the person he is angry at.

Attempt to resolve your anger by perhaps speaking directly to the person whom you are angry.  If this is not realistic, try to see a personal worth in completing the project.  Feel pride in completing the project timely.

Overdoers.  This employee avoids the tasks by taking on other tasks of lesser importance.  Therefore, his reason for not completing the task timely is because he has too many things to do.

Even though it is difficult for this person to prioritize and delegate, this is exactly what he needs to do.  Force yourself to prioritize so that you can see what is really just busy work.

Pleasure Seeker.  This employee wants to do positive things.  He may delay completing a project because he has more fun things to do.  The results of the project usually reflect that attitude.

Concentrate on being realistic.  Rewards come after work, not before work.  Visualize how good you will feel when the project is completed.  Then “double” your reward for finishing the project on time.
 
 
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Are You a Multi-Tasker?

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How can you be more productive and efficient as an employee with so many different tasks to complete in a days work? It’s hard to complete anything well you’re your attention and focus is spread over a variety of projects and approaching deadlines. Yes, multi-tasking can be an unexpected culprit for decreased productivity. But everyone has to multi-task, right? Yes, it’s almost necessary in today’s environment. Here are a few considerations so you can manage your day with increased efficiency.

  • First and foremost, prioritize. It is necessary in all things, especially daily tasks. It allows you to determine where to spend the majority of your time and effort.
  • Schedule a specific time to do other activities, projects and tasks. Until the schedule time is upon you, focus your full attention on the project at hand. Don’t allow any distractions from the other items on the to-do list until the scheduled time. Even if you scheduled task B for 1p.m. but receive a call or an email concerning project B at 11 a.m. - kindly indicate that you will need to follow-up with the person sometime after 1 p.m. This way, you keep your focus and stay on track.
  • Be resourceful and mindful of steps and processes that prolong the task without adding any value. Make any needed recommendations to your manager or supervisor to eliminate the extra work. Some practices are passed along although they were developed to address issues that may no longer be relevant.
  • Create and check off task on a to-do list.
  • Notify manager or colleagues as soon as possible when you determine that you are overwhelmed and may not be able to complete your assignment. Ask for any additional resources needed.
  • Clarify all assignments and create a management plan or system to handle the different requirement of each task.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Maintaining Focus in the Workplace

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Our economic recovery is moving slower than the 13 year locust. Each day seems to bring the same unemployment numbers that we had a year ago. This is the reality of our current market and the working environment. With cost-cutting, hiring freezes, and canceled pay increases employee morale is at an all time low.

With the barrage of bad news daily, it is no wonder we can become so distracted with our daily work schedule; staying on task can be very challenging. There are many distractions that keep you from staying focused. How should you deal with these types of interruptions?

1. Co-workers stopping by to chat
If your co-worker stops and chats and you’re in the middle of a project, kindly tell them you’ll be happy to stop by when the project is complete or at a scheduled break. If you’re not too busy, it’s ok to chat a couple of minutes, because this builds camaraderie and good working relationships.

2. People coming by your office to ask questions while you’re working or maybe while you’re at lunch
Consider saying, “I want to give you my undivided attention and I’ll be glad to stop by to see you.” At this point, please schedule a specific time and location to meet with them.

3. Handling e-mails or instant messaging
Unless you need to answer e-mails as part of your daily tasks, I suggest responding to e-mails no more than three times per day -- first thing in the morning, before lunch, and late afternoons. Keep instant messaging turned off unless it’s a part of your daily tasks.

5. Working on multiple projects
Studies have shown that multi-tasking is actually counterproductive. Keying in on one project at a time is more effective in getting it done in less time with a better outcome. You will be much more focused and not distracted by other tasks that bombard your mind. Also, being focused on one task at a time will give you more energy for your next project.

6. Non-work calls at work
Unless you need your cell phone in your daily work schedule, it should be turned off or at least on “vibrate”. A ringing cell phone is not only poor office etiquette, but is very distracting to your co-workers. Return calls during a scheduled break or at lunchtime. Family and friends should be reminded that you can accept calls only in the event of an emergency.

With so many interruptions in our daily lives, it’s up to us how we effectively manage and prioritize our daily tasks.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do You Want to be Promoted? Prepare in Advance.

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I know, I know. It doesn’t seem likely that many of us will be selected for a promotion in the current economic climate, but now is a great time to prepare to advance your career. There are a number of ways for employees to prepare for promotion, including:

Create a career path for yourself. This tip requires some level of research to determine what skills and competencies are required for upper-level positions in your career. Seek out job descriptions and other online resources to determine the skills most needed and any minimum requirements. Make a checklist to keep track of different skill sets you need to develop.

Develop yourself. There are a number of ways to develop yourself for future career growth. While formal classroom instruction is the most common approach, it is not the only approach, especially now that tutorials and development tools are available online, sometimes free of charge. Of course, you will have to commit to learning on your own time and resources. But the payoff would be worth it in the long run.

Network. Long ago, networking was identified as one of the most underutilized resources to advance your career. Join professional clubs or associations to meet others in your career field. Find discussion forums or bloggers relative to your field and get involved.   Fortunately, networking can be online or in person without compromising the overall benefit of this job growth strategy.

Find a mentor. A mentor is someone in your chosen field who is an established and a seasoned professional willing to offer guidance, support and coaching for someone who is up and coming in their career field. When mentors share their valuable, first hand experience, employees gain the benefit of growing in the industry as a result of someone else’s knowledge and experience. When you select a good mentor, often times the relationship sustains well past the work assignments. Be careful to select someone who is committed and trustworthy.

Uncover new challenges or opportunities in your organization. Once you identify a problem, challenge or opportunity within your organization, provide yourself as the needed solution. Notify your supervisor or governmental leadership to highlight your skill sets and how they can be utilized as an answer or solution to lower costs or improve efficiencies within the organization.

Be proactive. Step outside the box and ask for additional responsibilities or assignments. This will get you needed visibility for upward mobility. Even if your effort does not result in a promotion, you get to demonstrate your value to the organization during a time of downsizing and mass layoffs.

Attitude. You must demonstrate a positive attitude regardless of pay and recognition, if you want to get ahead. Be a positive change agent for your organization to gain the respect of colleagues and leadership. This is easier said than done. Encourage yourself by remembering the workforce environment will rebound eventually. It may not be today or tomorrow, but borrowing from biblical text: “the race is not given to the swift or the strong but those that endure to the end.”

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do You Have an Inventory of Your Skills Set?

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Ah... the summer is in full swing.  For some of us everything slows down a bit, which is usually a good time to complete an inventory of our personal skills.  Yes, we all can benefit from doing this, since these skills impact our jobs.  So, let’s take a look at a list of personal skills that can benefit us and then decide which ones could use some improvement.

Carefulness: Thinking and planning carefully before acting helps reduce the chance for costly errors, as well as keeping a steady.    “Look twice before you leap.” - Charlotte Brontë.
  
Cooperation: Willingness to engage in interpersonal work situations is very important in the workplace.   “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” Irish Proverb.  

Creativity: You've heard of "thinking outside the box"? Employers want innovative people who bring a fresh perspective.  "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." Charles Mingu.   

Discipline: This includes the ability to keep on task and complete projects without becoming distracted or bored.    “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Chinese Proverb.

Drive: Businesses want employees who have high aspiration levels and work hard to achieve goals.   “There's no ceiling on effort!” Harvey C. Fruehauf.

Good attitude: T his has been shown to predict counterproductive work behaviors, job performance and theft.  "A healthy attitude is contagious but don't wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier." Anonymous.

Goodwill: This is a tendency to believe others are well-intentioned.   “Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.”  George Eliot.

Influence: Groups need strong leaders to guide the way. Influence includes a tendency to positively impact social situations by speaking your mind and becoming a group leader.   “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”Albert Einstein.    

Optimism: A positive attitude goes a long way toward productivity.   “The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser-in case you thought optimism was dead.” Robert Brault.

Order: "Where did I put that?" A tendency to be well organized helps employees to work without major distractions or "roadblocks."   “I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's.”  William Blake

Safe work behaviors: Employers want people who avoid work-related accidents and unnecessary risk-taking in a work environment.“It is better to be safe than sorry.”  AmericanProverb

Savvy: This isn't just about job knowledge, but knowledge of coworkers and the working environment. It includes a tendency to read other people's motives from observed behavior and use this information to guide one's thinking and action.  “It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.” Henry David Thoreau.

Sociability: How much you enjoy interacting with coworkers affects how well you work with them. “In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”   Albert Schweitzer.   

Stability: This means a tendency to maintain composure and rationality in stressful work situations.  “The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.”  Aristotle. 

Vigor: This is a tendency to keep a rapid tempo and keep busy.“Vigor is contagious, and whatever makes us either think or feel strongly adds to our power and enlarges our field of action.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Sources:  http://www.trainingmag.com/;   www.act.org/workkeys; http://www.enotes.com/famous-quotes; http://www.famous-quotes.com/; http://www.quoteworld.org/; http://quotations.about.com/; http://www.motivatingquotes.com/; http://www.famousquotesandauthors.com/; http://philosophersnotes.com/

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Becoming a Better Employee

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When thinking about their job performance, some employees do not take in consideration that it includes getting along with others.  This is true for senior leadership and support staff.

Author, Kate Lorenz , says that "taking a moment to think about how we may be viewed by co-workers is an important exercise that could have far-reaching effects. 

While you may not care what Bob down in accounting or Mary the administrative assistant thinks of you, it's important to remember that Mary may go on to become the administrative assistant to the potential new boss you have an interview with. And one day Bob just may be in charge of auditing your expense receipts at a future company."
"The single most important thing to remember is to be considerate," says John Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Below are a few tips that will assist you in being more courteous and thus a better co-worker:
  1. Dial it down a notch. “Whether it's talking on your phone, singing to your iPod, or slamming file drawers with a deafening bang, reduce the volume of noises emanating from your office or cube,” Challenger warns.
  2. Keep your ego in check.   It’s great that you came up with a great idea, but most of your co-workers don't want to hear the endless reasons why you are so great. So stop bragging and wait to earn a compliment.
  3. Avoid office politics (Part 1).   When someone confides insider information to you, don’t fall in the trap of responding especially if it is about someone you really don’t like.   The grapevine flourishes and any words from you may come back to haunt you.
  4. Clean up after yourself.   Make sure you wash your dishes in the break sink, don’t leave food spoiling in the refrigerator, and clean up your crumbs.
  5. Silence it.   Avoid annoying phone ring tones or computer sound effects. You may enjoy hearing this over and over, but your colleagues probably don’t.
  6. Cut cube clutter.  Try to make sure your cube looks relatively clear of clutter, and make sure your belongings don’t cascade into the adjoining cube.
  7. Avoid office politics (Part 2).  Keep your opinions about politicians and how to solve world peace to yourself.  Political issues can start a fire quickly.
  8. Temper your toxicity.  Try to be positive around your colleagues, even when you are not feeling so great.  Work hard not to put a negative spin on things.
  9. Good hygiene never fails.  Don’t be complacent about your grooming.  Take pride in your appearance and hygiene.
  10. Keep the small talk small.  Since we spend so much time at work, it is natural to want to share experiences with our colleagues.  While this is important for bonding with co-workers, don’t overdo it.  You are there to work.
"The best environments to work in are those where people really get along and have built friendships in the workplace," Challenger says. "However, if there ever is an issue between co-workers it's very important to recognize it and repair it," he advises.

It is in the best interest of the employee and company to have a cooperative, friendly workforce.

Source:  Be a Better Co-worker: 10 Tips By Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com.   Editor Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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