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PayScale’s VIP Blog Roundup: Help! My Co-Worker Stole All the Good Vacation Days

If you're interested in work-life balance issues, you've probably read your fair share of articles exhorting you to live in the moment and be here now and so on. There's just one problem: professional life demands that we live in the moment, and also live in next week, and also in six months from now. Take, for example, the problem of planning vacation time. To get it approved and not irritate your co-workers, you have to submit your request for summer fun while snow's still on the ground. Of course, even if you do that, there's no guarantee that you'll get what you asked for. For instance, your evil co-worker might get in ahead of you and scoop up all the good days. In this week's roundup, we look at advice for coping with that situation, plus job search tools you're probably overlooking, and how to grow your professional network without ignoring your personal life.

If you’re interested in work-life balance issues, you’ve probably read your fair share of articles exhorting you to live in the moment and be here now and so on. There’s just one problem: professional life demands that we live in the moment, and also live in next week, and also in six months from now. Take, for example, the problem of planning vacation time. To get it approved and not irritate your co-workers, you have to submit your request for summer fun while snow’s still on the ground. Of course, even if you do that, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get what you asked for. For instance, your evil co-worker might get in ahead of you and scoop up all the good days. In this week’s roundup, we look at advice for coping with that situation, plus job search tools you’re probably overlooking, and how to grow your professional network without ignoring your personal life.

snowy beach

(Photo Credit: piropiro3/Flickr)

Alison Green at Ask a Manager: My Co-Worker Booked All the Best Vacation Days for the Year and No One Else Can Have Them

Do You Know What You're Worth?

If you’re a manager or otherwise someone with control over vacation policy, heed the warning of this terrible example of vacation request mismanagement. A reader writes in to explain that he or she works for a small company, and that vacation requests live on a company calendar:

So here’s the issue: at the first of the year, the calendar went up. A week or so later, one employee, who we’ll call Jane, wrote her name down on the Friday and Monday before and after each holiday, in addition to other days through the year. Jane also has been here longer than anyone else and therefore has more vacation days than anyone else. 

[…]

I have always worked in much larger companies, so this is my first time dealing with this situation. My question is: have we as a company erred in not preventing one employee from claiming all the “good” days? How do other companies handle this?

Green’s answer covers all the bases, suggesting policies that work better than this one – which is, let’s face it, like something a reality television producer would think up to get colleagues to throw food at one another – and reminding us that even when company policy allows it, it’s never a good idea to be thoughtless of our colleagues. (And if you’re in a similar spot, and need to have a tough conversation with your manager, here are some tips on how to do it without looking like a jerk.)

Hannah Morgan at Career Sherpa: 7 Essential Tools for Job Search

Think you’re maxed on tools and apps for finding your dream job and getting hired in a hurry? Think again. Some of the easiest and best branding tools are hiding right under your nose. For example, Morgan reminds us about the branding potential of the lowly email signature:

“Your email signature is possibly one of the most important branding tools you’re not taking advantage of. It’s your chance to let everyone know what your expertise is, how to contact you and where to learn more about you online. Employees are often required to add the company logo, tag line and contact information to email signatures. As job seekers, an email signature is a subtle way to remind people what you do.”

Find tips on how to use that free real estate better, plus six other tools you might be overlooking, in this post.

Sara McCord at Mashable: How to Grow Your Professional Network Without Ignoring Your Personal life

The irritating part of most advice about networking is that it assumes that you either have no personal commitments or that you sleep about three hours a night. Who has time for all this event-attending and LinkedIn-updating? Well, Sara McCord’s tips show that she totally feels your pain, and takes it into account when offering advice:

Muse writer Alex Honeysett suggests planning monthly events or finding a group on Meetup or Facebook to stay connected without a large investment of time. But even these doable options have never provided a lasting solution for me. I often find that when I’m in a pattern doing an excellent job keeping up with professional contacts, I’ll end up spending proportionately less time reaching out to loved ones. When I participate in career-oriented events, I invariably schedule them at the expense of social obligations to conserve energy. Likewise, on the weeks that I’m better about updating social profiles and inviting influential people to connect, I do a terrible job of replying to personal messages.”

Here are her dos and don’ts for growing your network while still having a life.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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