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For both MEN and WOMEN

The current success of our Mars space program is heralded nightly on the evening news programs. Our newspapers and magazines proudly exhibit the stunning pictures sent to earth from three million miles away. Comprehending the technical and scientific expertise to accomplish this feat is beyond most of us. The dedication and teamwork leading to this victory was celebrated by the joyous champagne toast after the first successful rover landing.

With the magnitude of this attempt and the resulting accomplishment, I thought the rovers would have tangible macho names such as Hercules, Conqueror, Atlas, Space Eagle, or Mars Hawk. Instead, the names are transparent and intangible. The names reflect attitudes and circumstances that occur in our lives.

As a recruiter/headhunter, I see a hidden career message for all of us in the Mars expedition. The hidden and symbolic message is in the names of the rovers. Not only in the space program, but equally symbolic to building a successful career. The rover’s names are Opportunity and Spirit. The combination of opportunity and spirit are what every person needs in order to be successful. Opportunity alone and unexamined has no value. It is next to impossible to have a vibrant fulfilled career life without spirit. Spirit is the energy fuel that propels us forward no matter what the positive or negative status of our current position. When you focus on opportunity, you are always open to challenges in your career. The dictionary defines Spirit as "to animate with fresh ardor or courage, fine or brave vigor or liveliness."

When a person combines the qualities of opportunity and spirit in their career life, people notice, doors open and things happen. These fearless open-minded professionals approach life with a can-do optimism and success seems to seek them out. Like magnets, they draw the abundance of life to themselves. You and I can’t go to Mars, but we can work on embracing every opportunity with a generous spirit.

Dear Headhunter,

I have noticed job postings stating that working overtime and on weekends is required. Is there such a thing as "mandatory overtime" that allows an employer to demand that an employee works extra hours? I always thought that an employee had a choice about working overtime. Am I wrong? Please answer.

Thanks, A.G.
San Bernardino

Dear A.G.,

Your question prompted me to call the Labor Commission for an official answer. I was told, by the Senior Deputy, that the employer can dictate and require an employee to work overtime and on weekends. It’s perfectly legal as long as the employee is getting paid properly. The pay scale must be as follows: Any time you work over eight hours in one day it requires time-and-a-half. Any hours worked over twelve in one day requires double-time. On a weekly basis, any hours worked over forty are paid as time-and-a-half. There are no labor laws restricting an employer from the amount of hours or days an employee can work. Common sense and good judgement are the only guidelines for an employer not to overwork or overload an employee. The employer must give an employee one full day’s rest out of a seven day period. If an employee refuses to work scheduled overtime, the employer may discipline them, up to and including termination. So, the bottom-line is for you to fully understand what the employer expects before accepting the job.

Are we over-worked and under-relaxed?

About one-third of America’s full-time workers put in more than 40 hours per week. This means that about 70 percent of workers leave work after working eight hours a day. This percentage is hard to believe. I know very few people that work only 40 hours per week. How about you?

And, 12 percent of Americas say they don’t take a vacation during the year. Last year, employees gave back a whopping $21 billion to employers in unused vacation time. This number boggles the mind… I hope it’s not the same families each year! What are these people thinking? Remember, a benefit unused is a benefit not granted.

    No matter how happy you are in your current position, always listen to the opportunity. Don’t hide behind your voicemail. Return calls promptly. By taking all calls, you increase your chances of receiving more calls that could lead to the perfect job opening for you in the future.
    Resist saying "no" to any questions. Answer questions with, "I’m open minded, but this is what I prefer." If you feel you’re getting backed into a corner and the recruiter is forcing you to comply with their agenda, simply restate your goals and preferences.
    If the job opportunity is not right for you, give names of qualified friends or colleagues. Recruiters will remember your assistance. In the future, when you need help from that same recruiter, they will take your phone call. If you are unknown or have been uncooperative in the past, it will be difficult for you to make contact with a recruiter. Assisting with referrals is in your best long-term interests.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.