Monday, June 24, 2019

10 Smart Things to Do in a New Job

It's natural to be a bit nervous on your first day of a new job. You want to make a good impression and not mess anything up too much.

Chances are, you'll be fine. If you care enough about the job to be a bit nervous, that means you're going to try hard to do all the right things.

Still...some of you won't do the right thing. You'll make some rookie blunders that can damage your reputation.



Before you know it, your new job isn't going as well as you hoped and your new boss and colleagues wonder why you were hired in the first place.

I don't mean to make you panic. But I do think there are some "unwritten" rules that go along with a new job. If you follow them, chances are better that you'll make a smoother transition into the new company. Here are some things to think about:

1. Show up early (at least 10 to 15 minutes) and never be the first one to leave.
2. Be prepared with a pen and notebook to take notes whenever you are told something.
3. Learn the names of all the company leaders. Look them up on LinkedIn so you know their professional backgrounds.
4. Make eye contact with everyone you meet. Shake hands firmly and state your first and last name clearly.
5. Don't complain about past jobs, companies, roommates or significant others.
6. Smile.
7. Use your best manners. Don't eat anything stinky at your desk. Clean up after yourself. Only do grooming activities in the bathroom. Say "please" and "thank you."
8. Plan ahead. Review your calendar each day until you become familiar with weekly or daily meetings, know when you're supposed to be on conference calls, know when to file expense reports, etc.
9. Show respect. Even if you have a new or better idea, frame it respectfully to employees who have been there longer.
10. Walk around. Don't hide at your work station. When you refill your water bottle, go to the bathroom, get a snack from the vending machine or walk to a meeting, try to greet people by name. Try to take a different route each time so that you're connecting with new people each day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

How to Get Through a Job Search Without Losing Your Mind



When you decide to begin job searching, it can be sort of exciting. You envision yourself in a new job, full of possibilities.

Then you start slogging your way through job ads online, realize you need to write a resume and a cover letter -- and you decide to watch "Friends" reruns instead.

I get it. Searching for a job takes a lot of effort. You have to fill out endless applications that ask everything from your shoe size to your first dog's name. Then, after you've gone to all the effort to apply, you hear nothing.

I wish I could say that there's an easy way to job search, but there's not. There are certainly tools to help you apply for jobs or write a cover letter, but you've still got to do the work.

Work. That's what looking for a job really means. You're going to put in some long hours (on weekends and at night), and you're going to go from emotional highs to emotional lows. You're going to have successes, and you're going to have failures.

That's why I think the most important thing you can do before you job search is to do some job search preparation. There's a French culinary phrase -- "mise en place" -- that means "putting in place" or "everything in its place." Before you begin cooking, you organize and arrange the ingredients you will need. It's important because it will not only ensure the process goes smoother, but it will become evident before you start baking a cake that you have no eggs and so you need to get some.

Before you jump into a job search, it's time to "mise en place." Here's some things to think about:

1. Dedicate time and space. Don't try to fill out an application while stuck in traffic, or write a cover letter at the end of a long, stressful day. Instead, set up some time you know you can focus on job searching -- perhaps early in the morning before your day starts or quiet Sunday afternoons. Organize a work space that has all the right ingredients such as a computer, printer, calendar, inspirational posters, etc.

2. Get organized. I'm not going to recommend any specific tools to keep you organized -- you probably already know what works for you. Whether it's an online spreadsheet or an old-fashioned day planner, it's important to keep track of what you're doing, who you've talked to, progress on various applications, etc.

3. Set up emotional support. Before you get started on your search, tell trusted friends or family members that while you're excited about getting a new job, there are going to be moments when you'll need a shoulder to cry, a pep talk or just a friendly ear. Also consider keeping a journal that will let you channel your emotions into your writing -- it can be a lifeline to help you through this journey.

Remember, looking for a job is a job. Don't sell it short or underestimate the energy and time it will require. The more prepared you are for this new chapter in your life, the better foundation you will have for doing the job successfully.


Monday, June 17, 2019

This is Why Workplace Conflict is a Good Thing



I hear it all the time: People who say they've stopped watching the news, stopped participating in social media and wear noise-cancelling headphones whenever possible so that they don't have to hear any snarky/disagreeable/uncivil comments or conversations.

I get it. I get tired of hearing people argue and I also find ways to tune others out when I've had enough. In fact "coffeehouse jazz" is a favorite, mind-numbing playlist of mine.

But.

You can't bury your head in the sand and expect to be considered an adult, especially at work. You have to participate and show you're engaged if you want to a have thriving career.

One thing that might help you feel better about conflict is that it can be healthy at work, as long as a few game rules are followed.

For example, Liane Davey, author of "The Good Fight," says that when done in a healthy way, conflict -- or differing opinions -- can lead to better problem-solving and smarter decisions. Instead of focusing on a robot-like "happiness at work" atmosphere, workplaces need to embrace diversity and the differing ideas and opinions that will naturally erupt.

"If people begin to fear conflict and think it’s an unhealthy thing, they don’t spot the risks in your plans or assumptions in your plans," she says.

Of course, the kind of conflict that is beneficial at work is just like the kind of conflict that is healthy in any relationship. People must stay respectful, be non-accusatory and listen carefully to the other person before stating an opinion. This might be easier said than done: A Next Element survey finds that 64 percent of 400 respondents say they would rather compromise than make an argument for their preferred approach in order to avoid any conflict.

If you're a manager or a worker who simply would like to embrace more diverse ideas, here are some ways to keep conflict helpful and not hostile:

1. Listen. Seriously, shut up. Don't talk over the other person and even wait a beat after she is done talking to reply to show that you're fully engaged. It also helps to repeat some of what she's said to show that you were listening instead of formulating your rebuttal. "So, you're saying that the project is failing because the timeline is too ambitious?"

2. Do your homework. It's really unhelpful if you don't really know what you're talking about or quoting erroneous data or facts. I've seen people begin arguing more strenuously when they start to realize they've made an error, perhaps because they're embarrassed that they're wrong. If you're not sure of your facts, ask for a bit of time to get your facts in order so that the discussion can be more constructive.

3. Remember we're human. Diverse teams all have one thing in common: They're populated by humans. Humans who have families, who have struggled, who have been disappointed, who have failed and who have insecurities. Remember that when you get into discussions with someone at work that it's not about annihilating the other person -- it's about finding that common bond and then establishing a relationship based on professional respect.




Wednesday, June 12, 2019

5 Things To Do When a Hiring Manager Texts You



Imagine that you're standing in line at Starbucks, when you receive this text....

"Hello! We just received your resume and wanted to chat initially via text. Can you tell us why you feel you're qualified for this position?"

After a minute, you answer:

"I know this is a joke. Who is this? And why are you harassing me you a**hole?"

While you might think it's a friend playing a prank, the reality is that this can happen in today's job market where employers are looking for ways to speed up the hiring process, including an initial text interview.

So, now that you've called a potential employer an "a**hole" let's look at some ways you can make a better impression in the future when participating in a text interview.

1. Don't rush it. Your first inclination when hearing from an employer might be to toss off a few lines as you're ordering that latte, but don't do it. No employer is going to expect to hear from you within a few minutes, so take the time to form your thoughts.

2. Be prepared. Sometimes when an employer expresses interest, your brain can short-circuit for a moment, especially if this employer is one of your top picks or your job search has stalled. Be prepared with some standard answers to interview questions, such as "What makes you excited about your work?" or "How do you stay motivated?"

3. Be concise. Just as you would on the telephone or in a live interview, you need to respect the time of the hiring manager. Be concise with your answers, but don't be afraid to let your enthusiasm shine through.

4. Don't be sloppy. This is your first encounter with an employer, so be professional. Don't use text slang, don't abbreviate, make sure your auto correct doesn't make you sound like an idiot -- and always proof the text before sending. Forget the emoji -- there's too great of a chance it will come off as unprofessional and immature.

5. Show interest. Just as you would ask questions in an interview, don't be shy about asking questions of the hiring manager. Show your interest and knowledge by saying something like, "I just read online that the company is expanding into Asia. What an amazing opportunity -- do you know when operations will begin?"




A version of this post ran earlier

Monday, June 10, 2019

Why Unconscious Bias Training Matters

It’s estimated there are more than 150 identified types of unconscious bias. These types range from the natural tendency to surround ourselves with others who are similar to us to form assumptions and stereotypes about others. 
In the workplace, this has become a cause for concern as employers worry that such biases can lead to (read more here)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

5 Ways to Clean Up Your Social Media Presence



When you're job searching, the advice is to "clean up your social media presence."

But what does that mean, exactly?

For example, when you were told to clean up your room as a kid, my hunch is that your version of "clean" was a lot different than your mom's. So, what you consider offensive online today may be a whole lot different than what will raise a red flag with a hiring manager.

To make sure that you really scrub out the questionable stuff from your online activities:

1. Stay away from politics. Unless you're applying for a job with a political organization, no employer wants to hire someone with opinions that could be divisive in the workplace. Stay away from even re-tweeting political opinions or posting a story from political commentators on Facebook. Delete those comments or posts.

2. You're known by the company you keep. Maybe you don't post controversial opinions yourself, but you are connected to a whole lot of people who do. Maybe you have strong opinions on immigration, and you are connected via Twitter and Facebook and even LinkedIn as you show up at rallies to support their causes. If you're tagged in photos, ask to be removed. Take them off Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn and reconsider some of your connections.

3. Use the granny rule. No, grandma really doesn't need to see your drunken college photos, your profanity-laced blog post or your sexually-explicit photos on Instagram. Neither does a potential employer. Either change your privacy settings or delete questionable content such as any photo that shows you with a drink in your hand, in a swimsuit or content with more than one swear word.

4. Layer the good over the bad. Now is the time to start putting more positive and helpful content under your name. Post blog content that offers helpful hints or insights about your industry. Post links to industry-appropriate articles on Twitter and share well-written content on Facebook. If you've got nothing but a bunch of duck-lipped selfies on Instagram, try posting photos of others you meet with some inspiring stories. ("This woman became an entrepreneur at 18. Her name is....")

5. Get rid of dumb handles. No, you do not need to be known as "sexymama" or "passoutdrunk" or "f*ckyou" on Twitter or anywhere else. Adopt handles that are either your name, or some version of it. Don't make it complicated -- try to use something that will support your brand.

Finally, if undertaking any of this is a huge chore, then you know you need to make some permanent changes. Since nothing online is ever really private, you need to realize that despite your best efforts to clean things up, an employer still may find content or photos that harm your professional reputation. Be more intentional about anything you put online and always consider whether it will stand the test of time and reflect well on you five years down the line.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Research: Why Workplace Competitions Often Backfire



How many times have you visited a business and seen a list of employee names, followed by a series of check marks or numbers?

I've seen it many times, usually signifying some sort of "competition" between employees, such as upselling to customers.

I've even been a part of such competition when I was working retail while in high school. The competition was to get the most customers to fill out credit-card applications. The prize? An electric blanket.

Since I was 17-years-old at the time, I could have cared less and never even asked a customer if they wanted a credit-card application.

But I often still see that competition exists in workplaces as a way to incentivize workers to sell more or achieve better results in some way. Some companies even create contests so that workers become more engaged in their jobs.

But research shows that those competitions may backfire on the employer.

A study finds that as people get closer to achieving individual goals, they are more prone to do things to sabotage their counterparts and begin to reduce their efforts when they thought they were ahead. The participants in a study also leaned toward choosing games where they expected to do better than a partner, for example, even if those choices also brought them a lower score.

But focusing on the distance between them and others only really makes sense in real competition, explains Szu-chi Huang, an associate professor of marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the research leader.

For those in competitions devised by an employer, the actions become more illogical, because there's really no gold medal waiting at the finish line. As a result, the pseudo competition ends up distracting individuals from real goals that have a real payoff and help them.

She suggest companies can do a better job with internal competitions by "matching employees who are at different phases of their careers instead of the same phase, for instance through a mentorship program. Or they could highlight the differences and uniqueness in each employee’s background, task, and project, and thus make the comparison less meaningful. All these things can help to reduce unnecessary competitive behaviors and the desire to sabotage.”