The Quitting Quiz

What are the telltale signs that the time has come to leave your job? Take this Men’s Life Today test for a definitive answer to an age-old question: Should you stay or should you go?

1) Every Monday morning, as you ponder the workweek ahead, you pull out your iPod and put one particular track on repeat. Its title is:
a) “The Lazy Song” (Bruno Mars)

b) “Just Can’t Get Enough” (Black Eyed Peas)

c) “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” (Katy Perry)

d) “Forget You” -- and not the clean version (Cee Lo Green)

2) When you get in late, your boss:

a) Doesn’t notice, because he never strolls in before noon anyway.

b) Asks if everything’s OK, since you’re usually the first one in the office.

c) Pulls you aside and tells you not to let it happen again.

d) Screams that the next time you’re tardy with his dry cleaning, there will be hell to pay.

3) Your workplace attire consists of:
a) Bed head, baggy shorts and a pair of turquoise flip flops.

b) A three-piece suit, wing tips and a freshly sharpened pencil on the ready, tucked behind your ear.

c) An Oxford shirt, khakis, and -- for rare occasions -- a Kevlar vest.

d) An airport gift that reads: “My Boss Went to Sheboygan and All He Got Me Was this Lousy T-shirt.”

4) At lunchtime, you:
a) Drive home for a nap, followed by a little Angry Birds action, followed by another nap.

b) Eat at your desk to save time. Gotta love multitasking!

c) Bring your PB&J into the conference room and complain to your work buds about the idiots in accounting.

d) Fashion voodoo dolls of the CEO using paper clips and a bubble mailer.

5) On Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, you:
a) Teach the boss’s kids how to make faces on the photocopier and fax the laugh-out-loud results to their teachers.

b) Put together a gripping PowerPoint presentation on how working hard in school truly gets you places!

c) Advise every youngster you see to put off the real world by getting an MBA.

d) Call in sick. Having to be nice to your colleagues is bad enough; being nice to their kids is beyond your pay grade.

6) A typical day’s assignment is:

a) Assignment? I’m not sure I’m following you.

b) There is no typical. Every project that lands on your desk is more refreshing and interesting than the last.

c) Not anything to write home about, but at least you’ve got good dental.

d) So ludicrous and incomprehensible you wonder whether a lobotomized monkey thought it up.

7) When it comes time for the annual company picnic, you:

a) Remind me again of the difference between my job and an actual picnic?

b) Whip up some of your Aunt Sassy’s ambrosia for everyone to savor.

c) Bribe your significant other to join you and promise you won’t make her stay for the whole thing.

d) You mean that was yesterday? Darn! Now why did I write it down for next week?

8) Upon returning to the office after a week away, you …

a) Fire up your computer so you can surf do some research using your favorite websites: Facebook, YouTube and, of course, Men’s Life Today .

b) Run to your cube, eager to rifle through the contents of your inbox.

c) Linger by the water cooler, sharing -- with anyone who will listen -- the tales of the traveler’s checks you lost in Colonial Williamsburg.

d) Have 17,543 emails to answer. Of those, you count 16,876 marked “URGENT.”

SCORING
Calculate your answers according to the values assigned to each:

a = 1 point

b = 2 points

c = 3 points

d = 4 points

If you scored a total of…

8 to 12: Are you seriously getting paid to do what you do? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, dude. Ride this one all the way to retirement!

13 to 19: Congratulations you worker bee, you! Sounds like you’re in a job that you were born to inhabit!

20 to 26: Your current means of earning a living might not be as exhilarating as driving racecars, but it sure ain’t ditch-digging, either. Since you never can be too sure, though, might as well dust off the old resume … just in case.

27 to 32: Get thee to a recruiter without delay. This job is making you miserable.

Switching Jobs in Bad Times: Should You Make the Leap?

Have you lost that lovin’ feeling when it comes to your job? Do you daydream about your boss’s stunned expression as you triumphantly tender your letter of resignation? We’ve all been there. Just like staying in a long-term relationship that has run its course, showing up every day to an office when your heart is not in it can be a recipe for resentment. Yet with the Federal Reserve predicting that the unemployment rate will remain around 9 percent throughout 2011, upping and quitting seems like a dicey proposition. So what’s a guy to do?

Stay Close to Home
“I always counsel people to look within before looking outside,” says Stella Angelakos, a New York City­-based career adviser. “Before you leave, explore opportunities within your existing company.” To do so, she says, become friendly with people in the departments that are of most interest to you. Let co-workers whom you trust know you’re seeking a new position. If you have a good relationship with your boss, he can be your ally too. On the other hand, if you fear retribution once you admit you’re itching for a change, talk with a member of your company’s human resources department instead. If you’re a good worker, it’s in their best interest to try to retain you.

Look Before You Leap
But what if you’re at a small firm with little room for movement? Or perhaps you want to change industries entirely? Don’t be afraid to take those steps, but take them wisely. Do your research, says Angelakos. Plan to make your move at a time of year when your industry does most of its hiring. Talk to recruiters. And make sure you know where you’re headed: “You don’t want to take a job that’s worse than the one you left,” warns Angelakos.

To prepare for your jump, get your references in order and make sure your resume is ready to rock and roll. Put out feelers with your network of friends, family members and former colleagues, letting them know you’re exploring new options. Finally, says California-based recruiter Margo Morgenlader of Professional Recruitment Solutions, “Clean up your online brand.” This starts first and foremost with Facebook, which most employers will look at when researching your background. “You should have a spotless online presence -- even if your presence in life is not so spotless,” advises Morgenlander. Unlike Facebook, a website that can really shore up -- rather than sink -- your job prospects is LinkedIn. “It’s a great way to deepen your connections,” she says, pointing out that it can take a lot of the heavy lifting out of networking.

If You Have to, Leap Before You Look
What if you’re so overworked or in despair that you can’t get in the right head space for a job search? If you can afford the loss of paycheck -- potentially for six months or more -- then go for it. “I would never advocate people being so miserable in a job that they can’t go another day,” says Morgenlander. But when you start going on job interviews, she warns, “Don’t air dirty laundry about your old place of work.” Keep the tone positive. You don’t want to give prospective employers any reason to doubt your integrity or commitment.

The fact is you may actually find it a whole lot easier to remain positive if you cut your ties to your old job before looking anew. Many individuals, freed from the fear of losing the paycheck that kept them at a job well past its “sell-by” date, are surprised to discover they can get actually get by on less. “Once people get over the shock of not having money, as long as they’re doing something they really like, they tend to be happier,” says Angelakos.

In retrospect, whenever you determine the time has come to tender a resignation, the act should be a true declaration of independence -- a chance to reclaim your life, liberty and yes, your pursuit of happiness.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/Viorika

Take Your Resume to the Next Level: Video

You’ve likely seen video resumes spoofed on YouTube. And certainly, if you’re a fan of “How I Met Your Mother,” you’ll recall the episode where Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) unveils his own MacGruber-worthy version  -- much to the horror of his friends. But for an out-of-the-box job-seeker, and a surprising number of employers, video resumes and interviews are getting some serious attention.

After a boomlet in the video resume industry a few years ago, the practice seemed destined to die before its time. The legal considerations -- that job applicants might wage Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuits against companies if they suspected they were eliminated due to discriminatory reasons -- led companies to shy away from them.

But in the fall of 2010, the EEOC weighed in, essentially saying that as long as the company used the same good practices for screening a candidate via a video resume as they are legally required to use during an in-person interview, there should be no problem with using video.

To be sure, today’s video resume is nothing like the one on “How I Met Your Mother,” which featured Barney pretending to hang glide, surf and fly a fighter jet (among other feats), all while a rock soundtrack wailed in the background to the lyrics, “That guy’s awesome! He’s awesome!” No, if you want to land a job without making a fool of yourself, you’ll need to be a little more professional. And though many people worry about how they might come off on camera, the advantage with video is that you can do it again if you don’t like how it turns out the first time. (On the other hand, mess up an in-person interview and you can usually kiss the job bye-bye.)

TalentRooster, an Ohio-based business launched last June, claims it is second only to YouTube as a home for video resumes. “We did about 5,000 videos in 2010 and are adding as many as 300 new ones each week,” says David DeCapua, the company’s founder. These videos (which can be done at a participating recruiter’s office or via webcam using TalentRooster software) are meant to be concise and compelling and help candidates showcase their talents and enthusiasm. The aforementioned recruiters have reported that candidates using videos have a 30- to 50-percent greater chance of getting hired than those who don’t, according to DeCapua.

Companies are increasingly relying on video as well. “We grew nine-fold in 2009 and experienced a tripling of our growth in 2010,” says Chip Luman, COO of HireVue, a Utah-based company that was founded six years ago to help Fortune 500 and Global 1,000 corporations conduct remote interviews with candidates via video.

Although his company’s clients are businesses and not job-seekers, Luman says that interviewing by webcam has many benefits for applicants. For starters, since it can be recorded, a video interview eliminates having to answer the same question posed by multiple individuals during a long day of meet and greets. Another advantage is that they shorten the amount of time needed for companies to see candidates. For the would-be hire, that means less waiting between the first interview and (fingers crossed!) a job offer.

Whether you’re using video to snag an initial interview or to land a second one, it behooves you to prepare for your close-up. Here are some tips from the experts:

  • Your video resume does not belong on YouTube. Maintain tight control over where your resume is seen and by whom.
  • Dress and act on-camera as you would for your interview. If you’re targeting a hip advertising company, a funkier look and approach may be appropriate. If you’re an accountant, not so much.
  • Webcams don’t have the best optics, so to look your best, make sure you have good lighting when you film.
  • Don’t start recording until you’re sure you won’t be interrupted by barking dogs, a blaring stereo or crying children.
  • Practice makes perfect. Don’t read from an off-camera cue card -- it won’t appear natural. But do plan and rehearse what you will say, just as you would for an in-person interview.
  • Unless you are Barney Stinson, don’t ever sing about how awesome you are.

On-the-Job Shaving for Your Office Werewolf

Do you start your workday looking as freshly scrubbed as Twilight’s Taylor Lautner … and by late afternoon look more like the wolf his character becomes?

For some men, keeping a clean-shaven look throughout the day feels like a losing battle. But bringing your home-shaving routine to the office is not always the easiest (or the most mannerly) thing to do.

So how’s a guy with a 5 o’clock shadow by lunchtime supposed to strike down the stubble? We’ve got several tips:

Give yourself a better shave in the morning.

Do so in the shower to banish any sign of whiskers. For the closest-possible trim, experts recommend a blade that you replace regularly instead of an electric razor.

Stage a second shave.

If you have a gym near the office, hit the weights on your lunch break and then the showers -- this will give you a chance for a second shave during the day. Unless you really are a wolf man, this preemptive attack should last you till well after closing time.

Keep a Dopp kit at your desk.

Include your razor, shaving cream and fresh blades in the kit. Like the spare dress shirt, tie and blazer you have hanging on the back of your office door, the workplace razor can be a lifesaver.

That said, you don’t want to make a habit of shaving in the washroom. For example, do you really want your boss to think you’ve got nothing better to do than groom yourself on company time? Nonetheless, there will be occasions when you have little choice. So if your beard is blooming, arrange to shave at a time when it will not inconvenience others who use the same facilities. Ideally, schedule your shaving session for when the boss has left for lunch or an off-site meeting. Either way, keep it quick, and clean the sink of any shaving residue once you’re done.

Yes, with a little bit of forethought, even the most hirsute among us can remain within a hair’s breadth of being clean-shaven -- the whole day through.

Make Your Resume Stand out in the Digital Age

You’re a job seeker who’s just crafted an e-mail you’re positive will get you an interview for your dream job. After attaching your killer resume you hit “send” and wait for a call from the hiring manager. And wait. And wait. Weeks later, you’re shocked to learn the position has gone to someone else. You never even got in the door.

If this has happened to you, chances are good that a computer program -- not a human being -- eliminated you from consideration. In an age in which there are far more job seekers than jobs, an increasing number of businesses are relying on software to weed out applicants. “The vast majority of companies with 50 or more employees are using this software,” says Chandlee Bryan, a certified professional resume writer based in New York. So how do you ensure you don’t fall victim to a thumbs-down from a machine? You’ve got to give the machine what it wants: keywords.

Deborah Bell, a certified career counselor based in Santa Rosa, Calif., recalls the time when, as an experiment, she answered an ad with nothing but a long series of words lifted straight from the job description. “I got an e-mail back saying that I matched the job description and that someone would be calling me shortly to set up an interview.” The call never actually came -- apparently, humans are still good for something -- but the fact that her application made it as far as it did underscores how important keywords are for getting noticed.

What’s the Word?
To determine your keywords, Michele Dagle, a certified Los Angeles-based professional resume writer, suggests crafting the text by cribbing from several job listings similar to the position you’re seeking. “Other excellent sources of these terms are industry websites, blogs and e-newsletters,” she says.

Once you’ve collected a batch of ads, you can quickly suss out the most important words by pasting all the text you’ve collected into the website TagCrowd.com, says Bryan (who also co-authored The Twitter Job Search Guide). In the resulting tag cloud, look out for the words that literally loom largest (the size directly correlates to frequency). Those are the terms you definitely want to use in your resume.

Bobbing and Weaving
So what’s the best way to work those words into your resume? Not by sneaking them in, Bryan counsels, explaining she has heard of candidates who “hide” keywords in their resumes by changing the words from black to white so they don’t appear on-screen or in print. This subliminal scheme goes awry, however, when the resume is scanned and converted to plain text. Suddenly, those stowaway keywords go from invisible to visible, and a recruiter will easily be able to read between the lines, so to speak. “If you don’t have the skills, don’t use those keywords,” says Dagle. You might get an interview, but you will be eliminated once it becomes apparent you don’t have the skill set you said you did.

Your goal is to get the important keywords into both your executive summary and body of the resume. Use the terms in your bullet points to convey your experience and, where possible, associate them with specific accomplishments you made at each job.

It’s not necessary to include every keyword, says Bryan. “As long as you’ve got 60 to 75 percent of what they’re looking for, you should most certainly apply.”

Format Wars
And when you’re finally ready to transmit your qualifications, make sure to follow the submission instructions. For example, don’t send a PDF if the ad calls for a Microsoft Word file. And be careful with non-text characters such as bullet points, which can show up differently depending on the computer. Last but not least, do not title your attachment “resume.doc” -- be certain your last name is in the document name. In this market, if you give a company the opportunity to disregard or forget your application, it most likely will.