Career Moves: Take Advantage Of The Perks And The Paycheque

Good news, y'all: In light of this dismal economic and employment situation we're living in, I've got a full-time, permanent job. As of the end of this week, I'm moving from "contract" to "permanent" at my new company! This definitely speaks to the fact that it is POSSIBLE to get a (new) job these days, and it's sometimes good to take risks. I was extremely wary of taking on a "contract" position, because I've only known contracts to end, then you're @ss out, on the job hunt again. Looks like things worked out in my favour, so I'll be toasting to that this weekend.

Anyways, this post isn't about that. It's about the fact that a lot of companies give their employees access to perks that we do not take advantage of, as I have been learning lately. Seeing the amount of times these things are passed up drives me crazy!

For instance, take vacation and sick days. Now, I'm sure every company doles theirs out differently, but if they're given to you, USE THEM as needed! I've had some staff that seem to think they'll get brownie points if they come to work sick, and think I'll give them a cookie for working overtime and never taking a vacation. I'm a huge proponent of work-life balance, so I will not be handing out gold stars for people who slave at work, day in and day out. I like people who work smart, as well as hard. The best thing you can do to avoid burnout, illness (both contracting and spreading), and low morale is to take time off when you're sick, and use your vacation time to take a break. Obviously, I'm not a fan of people who abuse the system either, but if you're given those days, use them.

Thinking about going back to school part-time? Does your desired course have anything to do with your work or your field? Does your company offer tuition reimbursement or TAP (tuition assistance programs)? If so, why aren't you up in your boss' office, trying to get that course for free (or at a good discount)? A lot of people do not take advantage of this gem - granted, it may not be offered by your own company, but a lot do and keep it in the fine print of the policy handbook. The key is to come up with a great proposal. Explain the course and its relevancy to your work. Express your desire to further develop your skill set, which will improve how you do your job. Perhaps you can even show how your colleagues will benefit - would you be willing to do a lunch & learn presentation on what you've learned? If you present your argument properly, you can save yourself a lot of money.

Speaking of saving money - check with your HR department or social teams to see if your company offers any discounts in the community. Deals on gym memberships, movie tickets, CAA or Costco memberships, museum or theatre admissions and more could be right under your nose. Depending on the connections your company has, you may even get free tickets to sporting events and special events! So, if one of these deals comes your way, don't pass it up.

Does your company offer any extras that you've taken advantage of? If you don't use your given sick and vacation days, why not? Have you ever had your company pay for or reimburse you for educational courses or workshops? Share your secrets!

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