Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This is How LinkedIn Can Help You Find a Job

It’s estimated that 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, which means ignoring the site during a job search is sort of like tossing your resume in a shredder and hoping someone finds it and pieces it back together.
That’s not likely to happen, and neither are you likely to find the most available jobs or contacts if you’re ignoring LinkedIn. While you may think you shouldn’t use LinkedIn because you’re still in school or don’t have much experience, you’re wrong. LinkedIn is an incredible tool for catching the eyes of a recruiters; it’s also one of the best professional networking tools online. Your lack of a LinkedIn presence not only makes you invisible to recruiters, it (read more here)

Monday, November 12, 2018

How to Get Ahead When Working Remotely

Working from home is no longer a rarity – IWG reports that 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least one day a week. And 53 percent of professionals work remotely for at least half the week! The arrangement has many advantages, such as providing better work/life balance or a much shorter commute. Still, being “out of sight” poses a real challenge to your career. Your contributions may go unnoticed by others and jeopardize your chances of getting a promotion.
(Read more here)


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Do These 5 Things When You Get a New Boss

There's nothing quite as disconcerting as getting a new boss. Even if you hated the old boss, at least you knew all her weird habits and devious tricks and could counteract them before they did much harm.

But a new boss? This means a lot of changes, even if the new boss says there won't be changes. The new boss may only like to communicate via email, even if he's sitting across the table from you. Or, he may not understand that he really shouldn't talk to you before you've had a cup of coffee -- not because you're crabby but because you literally can't form full sentences until the caffeine hits your bloodstream.

There are some ways to ensure a smoother transition with a new boss, and also help him understand your value to the organization -- and to him. You need to:

1. Step up. Be ready to introduce yourself to the new boss like a real grown-up professional. No slouching behind your computer and hoping he won't see you. You can send him your LinkedIn profile or even a short email outlining what you're working on and any areas of development you're tackling (attending night classes, taking an online certification course). 

2. Eliminate "but" from your answers. There's nothing more frustrating to a new boss that always hearing employees say "but that's not how we've always done it" or "but that won't work" or something equally negative. Listen with an open mind to his ideas. Try to expand on them and instead of saying "No, but..." try to find times to say, "Yes, and..."

3. Take notes. When the new boss is giving directives -- from how to ask for time off to who is taking on which project -- write it down. New bosses have a lot on their plates, and employees who pay attention the first time will be seen as assets that are part of his plan when moving forward. Don't risk getting left behind because you're always asking "What was that again?"

4. Offer help. You don't have to be Billy Brownoser with the new boss, but be willing to offer resources or information that can make the new boss's life easier. "I can send you the report I did on that competitor last year. You might find some helpful information in it or perhaps I can answer some questions," you offer.

5. Don't badmouth anyone. In the beginning, the new boss is trying to get the lay of the land -- who does good work and who does not. Badmouthing a colleague -- or even your former boss -- is very unprofessional and will get you labeled a gossip. The boss may find your information helpful, but he will forever see you as a disloyal person -- and that means you'll never be trusted by him. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

The 3 People You Want to Meet at Work

If you want to see where you career is going, look at who you hang out with at work.

Is it the guy who plays on his phone during meetings? Is it the woman who is short-tempered and can be snarky to the intern?

There's an old proverb that says you are known by the company you keep. (Your Mom probably quoted it to you once a day when you were a teenager.) While you don't want to isolate yourself at work or avoid having a diverse group of contacts, you do want to consider what you're getting from those relationships.

For example, you may think the guy who plays on his phone during meetings is also pretty funny. You like going to lunch with him and watching him do impersonations of various people in the office. Or, the woman who is snarky to interns usually isn't rude to you, so you don't have a problem hanging out with her for a drink after work.

But how do you really feel about interacting all the time with such colleagues? Do you find yourself thinking up new ideas, wanting to try and match their passion for their work or appreciate learning something new from them? Or, are you becoming caught in their endless cycle of disengagement, snarkiness and laziness?

I'm not suggesting you cut these people completely. What I am suggesting is that you need to assess whether such relationships inspire you or provide encouragement. If not, it's time to spend less time with them and instead look for colleagues who can help you develop professionally because they model the right behavior.

Look for people who are:

  • Curious. These colleagues are intrigued by information. They read widely -- they may be able to tell you 10 facts about lemurs or discuss the latest industry acquisition. When you interact with those who are always expanding their minds, you will start to do the same -- and that's always a plus for any career.
  • Good listeners. The colleagues who put their phones away during a meeting, turn away from their computers when your're talking to them and let others complete their sentences without interrupting are the kind of co-workers who go far in their careers. They're seen as great negotiators, leaders and team members and have the kind of skills you should emulate.
  • Are not perfect. You want to be around people who are not afraid -- or too pompous -- to admit when they make a mistake. These are the kind of colleagues who learn from their goofs and become even better in their jobs. They don't become focused on fixing the blame, and instead want to fix the problem. You will learn a lot from such team members and you career will benefit from learning how they move on from mistakes and thrive.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Why You Don't Want to Rely on Gut Instinct

As you rise through the ranks and become a manager, you may be faced with ethical dilemmas. Perhaps you're not worried -- you know your moral compass is solid and you would never do anything that wasn't in line with your values.

But can you really rely on that compass when you're in a fast-paced environment where there is constant pressure to produce results and beat the competition -- or else? You may still contend that your ethics won't abandon you, and you know that you'll make the right decisions.

Then comes the day when you need to fudge some product results (just a teeny tiny bit!) in order to keep the company afloat. People could lose their jobs if the results don't measure up. What's the harm in just rounding up a few numbers?

Or, let's say one of your employees has access to some data from a competitor. He accessed it by guessing the password of a friend who works at the company. You've been under a lot of pressure from your boss to find ways to beat this competitor. What's the harm in just taking a look at the data, right?

This is the slippery slope of which many people speak.

Stanford Graduate School of Business professors recently addressed ethical leadership and found that managers can fall short if they don't truly understand their values and how to deal with the business challenges they will face. Among their thoughts:

  • Don't rely on your gut. Just because you have data doesn't mean you're making a sound decision. You can rig that data to align with what you really want to do. Make sure you're doing a good analysis of data and not just using it to prop up your opinion.
  • Let others challenge you. Make it OK for your staff to disagree or criticize your thinking. Let the person with the least seniority offer the first suggestion -- that breaks down the group think structure.
  • Plan ahead. Think about what you will do if you're asked to fudge numbers or look at another company's data without permission. It can be tempting to do something wrong when you're in the heat of the moment so make sure you know the lines you will not cross. 
Finally, don't let the "everyone does it" argument sway you into doing something that violates your ethics. You may make a split-second decision that you have to live with for a long time -- and make you into someone you never wanted to be.

Monday, October 29, 2018

3 Ways to Change the World from Your Cubicle

I'm fed up, and I know many of you must feel the same.

I'm fed up with the name-calling, the finger-pointing and the yelling. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away, but I can't. What I can do is think about how I behave every day and hopefully do a little better.

Most of us spend the majority of our hours at work. While we're unlikely to stand up in our cubicle, point at someone and start yelling about how they're wrong, stupid, hateful and wear ugly shoes -- we can use the workplace as a starting point.

The starting point can be this: I will shut up. I will listen. I will ask questions. I will try to understand. I will actively seek out people with different opinions.

Adam Kahane, author of "Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work With People You Don't Agree with or Like or Trust," recently offered some tips on how we can get along better with others at work.

1. Find common ground. Who doesn't feel better walking through a park on a beautiful fall day? Or having a nice cup of coffee? Finding neutral spaces to meet with people can help lower the temperature of an interaction, making it easier to just communicate.

2. Suspend judgments. How many times have you labeled a colleague "difficult" or "annoying"? Try to stop labeling the person and instead think about whether that difficult or annoying label is really more about you. Do you get annoyed when someone challenges your authority? Or find it difficult when someone wants to challenge the status quo?

3. Embrace different. Instead of getting tense or annoyed because a colleague challenges you, think about seeing things from his or her point of view. When you feel your body tense up, try to relax and think about how you cannot control how this person acts, but you still need to work with him or her.

Human beings are hardwired to fight change -- they fear it may be something that will hurt them. But we're in a time when the constant state of warfare is becoming a norm that only undermines our humanity.

Maybe you can't change the world overnight, but you can change how you will advocate for civility and collaboration one cubicle at a time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The One Thing That Can Improve Feedback

It's pretty much a given that everyone hates performance reviews, which is why more companies are urging managers to give "continuous feedback."

What this looks like can vary:

"Great job, Susan, on that presentation."

"John, I think you need a little more research on that report."

"Jeff, I'm not sure that tie really goes with that jacket."

While this is all feedback, none of it is really helpful. It's not specific and doesn't really point the employee to what needs to happen next (other than Jeff needs to change his tie or his jacket). Research finds that about 87% of workers say they want to be developed in their jobs -- but only a third say they actually get the feedback they need to engage and improve.

So what will work to boost improvement and make employees better at making decisions? What's needed to help them become more resilient so they can adapt to change? Research suggests workers need to ask for feedback instead of just waiting for bosses to offer it.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: There is no way I'm asking for feedback from my boss because I'm worried about what he will say -- and it will probably end up creating more work  and stress for me.

But experts say that when you ask for feedback, you are in the driver's seat, which can be empowering. The boss feels more comfortable because you ask for something specific: "Do you think I used too much data in that presentation?"

While it doesn't mean the interaction will be a barrel of laughs, it can make it less threatening and feel more fair to you and to the boss.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Research Shows Your Boss May Indeed Be Setting You Up to Fail

Does your boss set you up to fail?

Two decades ago, Jean-Francois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux wrote about their research showing that bosses often have a part in an employee's failure to succeed. It's not that the bosses do it on purpose -- and may even have good intentions -- but they still are responsible for "creating and reinforcing a dynamic that essentially sets up perceived underperformers to fail."

Let's say you have a bad day or week or quarter. Maybe you miss your sales target, or a project goes off the rails or you miss a deadline. Or, perhaps you don't quite "gel" with the boss or someone badmouths you to the manager. Any of these can serve as a trigger that causes the boss to be concerned that you're not a great performer.

So, she decides to put you on her radar and see if she bring up your performance. You now have to run your activities past her, cc her on all emails and face daily feedback from her on everything from how you acted in a meeting to how you fill out paperwork.

While the boss sees this as helping you improve, instead you feel demoralized. You starts to feel like you have nothing worthwhile to contribute and become more withdrawn. The boss sees this and doubles her efforts to help you.

The bottom line, Manzoni and Barsoux write, is that it becomes a situation that doesn't help either the boss or you. Eventually, you quit or are fired.

This, of course, hurts the company and other team members as your talents and energy leave and must be replaced. (With unemployment at about 3.7%, I don't think any company can afford to let a boss set an employee up to fail.)

How to break the pattern of "set up to fail"? The authors give some ideas:

1. Recognize the problem exists.
2.  Higher ups stage an intervention that involves a candid conversation with the boss to point out the unhealthy dynamic with the employee.
3. A conversation between the boss and the under-performing employee where the boss acknowledges that she may be partly to blame for the problem and she wants to have a fair and open conversation.
4. An agreement between the boss and the employee about the specific areas of the performance leading to contention.
5. An understanding between the boss and the employee about what is causing the weak performance in certain areas.
6. The boss and the employee agree about their performance objectives and commit to moving the relationship to a more positive footing.
7. An agreement for more open communication in the future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Skills to Include on a Resume -- and the Ones to Leave Out

There’s a famous line from the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke that says: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” Fast forward to 2018 and that line could apply to the disconnect between jobseekers and employers. Jobseekers often put a lot of time and effort into their resumes, extensively noting skills acquired via work experience and education. And then employers turn around and say that the docs don’t contain the information they want to see.
LiveCareer’s 2018 Skills Gap Report examined this problem from a number of different angles. While employers list an average of 21.8 skills per job ad, jobseeker resumes list an average of only 13 skills. Specifically, resumes only match 59 percent of hard skills and 62 percent of soft skills listed in job ads. In addition, a LinkedIn survey found (read more here)

Monday, October 15, 2018

This is the One Thing Every Boss Should Hear

Is it really that difficult to be a boss?

"It’s not easy," writes Andy Kessler in the Wall Street Journal. "Decisions come at you rapid-fire and, like it or not, you’ve got to make a call, potentially without knowing the consequences for years. Meanwhile, a bigger boss or a board of directors is breathing down your neck, prepared to can you if you screw up."

On the other hand, management guru Tom Peters says in his new book that management isn't complicated -- it just takes things like consistency and good communication.

I bring up these diverging views because National Boss Day is tomorrow, Oct. 16. I know a lot of people are going to wonder why bosses need a special day. (These are the same people who complained when they were kids that there really should be a Kid's Day if there was going to be a Father's Day and a Mother's Day.)

Being a boss is tough. I've been a boss, and sometimes I was good at it, and sometimes I was not. I've worked for bosses I liked, and I've worked for bosses I've loathed.

But one thing I've learned is that many bosses feel they're all alone. Even when they do something really great for their employees, they often don't get a simple "thank you." They agonize over their choices and yet are supposed to always remain cool under pressure. No one notices -- and often no one cares.

Can you imagine how you would feel if you were treated the same?

I've not saying bosses are perfect. They have flaws like anyone else, but I do think they deserve a day where everyone takes the opportunity to say "thank you." Is that really so much to ask?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

We Know We're Rude With Our Phones -- But We Don't Do Anything About It

When cellphones first made their appearance, workplace advice columnists like myself advised that bosses and co-workers became annoyed when a worker used it at work. There were several reasons: people using cellphones tended to yell into the thing; the calls were often personal and inappropriate at work; and workers on a cellphone were seen as goofing off.

When smartphones came along, it became obvious that bosses could not ban them from the workplace. Employees used their phones to do just about everything -- banning them from work would be like asking them to work with both hands tied behind their backs.

But the one thing that hasn't changed is that people are still annoying others with their phone use. They still yell into their phones. They still gab to their mothers about their gynecologist's appointment in front of everyone in the office. They still goof off on their phones instead of working.

The strangest thing about all of this: We know we're being rude and unprofessional, but we still don't stop. A  recent survey finds respondents say that it's proper etiquette to put your phone away in meetings but 53% of them keep it out. Eighty percent say it's inappropriate to check a phone during a meeting, but 50% admit doing it. And 77% say they bring their phone into the bathroom at work.

Many people will claim that they need their phone in the bathroom so they don't miss important calls or texts or emails (really??), while others will say that they need their phones in meetings to do their jobs. Others will say they'd go insane if they couldn't play Candy Crush on their phones during boring presentations or they need to keep up with emails because meetings are such a drain on their day.

It's always much easier to point the "you're so rude" finger at others, when in reality we are just as guilty of not being aware of how our behavior affects others. But the numbers revealed above are concerning -- we don't need any more excuses to be uncivil to one another or hurt the productivity of others. Work is stressful enough, right?

There are some cellphone use policies that companies are using, such as those listed here. In the meantime, do a little self-policing. Don't take the phone into the bathroom (ewww) and put your phone out of sight in a meeting or lock it in your desk drawer.

You might be surprised that when you're not connected to that device, you find more time to connect with your colleagues or are better able to tap into more creative ideas without the distraction of Instagram. The best thing of all? You might get more done and get to leave work early for a change.

Monday, October 8, 2018

5 Things to Take Off Your Resume Right Now

It can be daunting to write a resume. First, it's a lot of work. Second, you're never sure what to include or omit on a resume -- what if an employer really does care that you have a Goldendoodle?

It's why many people recycle the same resume over and over, no matter that it's been five years since it's been updated in a meaningful way or that it's the same resume used to apply for a job as an airline pilot and as a bartender.

Sometimes, it's easier to start with the things you can omit from your resume. For example:

1. Microsoft Word. If you can't use Microsoft Word, you probably also can't figure out how to unlock your front door. Leave it off. Employers expect you to know that, and it makes you look pathetic to include it.

2. First-year Spanish. Or first-year Chinese. Or first-year Latin. I don't care if you got an "A" on your final, your minute knowledge of a language isn't going to be useful to an employer unless you can engage others in the language pretty fluently. Being able to order from a menu in French doesn't count.

3. Stupid stuff. An employer isn't going to care that you won best penmanship in 7th grade or that your soccer team made it to the semifinals three years in a row. They will only care about things that will make you a better employee, like volunteering and raising the most money for a community project -- because that shows organizational and leadership skills.

4. Exaggerations. Or lies. There's this little thing called the Internet that makes it pretty darned easy to check out anything you put on a resume.

5. Too much work stuff. When you're applying for a job right out of school, it may matter to an employer that you rocked your job at Taco Bell for four years while in college (it shows a good work ethic, experience with customers, co-workers, etc.) But once you've had several years as a professional, the employer wants to know much more about those skills and experiences. Also, you don't want to list too many employment experiences, as the employer may fear you're a serial job-hopper and won't stay put with them for very long.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Are You Headed Toward Burnout?

Lots of people are really happy about the job market right now. There are plenty of jobs to go around, and companies like Amazon are offering a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

With all that work, however, there is a downside that I hear more people mentioning: burnout.

Burnout is defined as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. Many of us come close to it, which is why we do things like take a vacation or try to leave early on Friday.

But burnout isn't something that can be fixed by a few days off. It doesn't come about just because you're putting in some long days. Burnout shows itself as cynicism, depression and lethargy and arises when you're not in control of how you do your job or when you're doing something that just doesn't resonate with you. A lack of social support is also a problem.

When the Great Recession hit a decade ago, many people took any job that would pay the bills. They cobbled together part-time work. They accepted jobs that forced them to do the work of two or three people. They put up with seeing their benefits cut, salary raises slow to a trickle and bosses demanding more because their bosses were demanding more.

Now, they're paying the price. Those extra tasks haven't gone away. The demands from bosses haven't disappeared. They haven't made up lost ground in terms of benefits or pay. Is it any wonder that more people are mentioning the word "burnout"? (Of course, not everyone feels this way, and many people are thriving in their jobs and organizations.)

At the same time, companies need to pay attention to their workers.  Those headed toward burnout will not only be less productive and creative, but there's a chance they will end up quitting a job and never returning. With such a tight labor market right now, can any company afford to let great people walk out the door?

For those who many find themselves feeling worse every day, don't ignore your symptoms. The fallout from burnout are real: heart disease, stroke, disease vulnerability and alcohol or substance abuse.

If you're headed toward burnout, here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Manage the stressors that contribute to job burnout. Once you've identified what's fueling your feelings of job burnout, you can make a plan to address the issues.
  • Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Perhaps you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Is job sharing an option? What about telecommuting or flexing your time? Would it help to establish a mentoring relationship? What are the options for continuing education or professional development?
  • Adjust your attitude. If you've become cynical at work, consider ways to improve your outlook. Rediscover enjoyable aspects of your work. Recognize co-workers for valuable contributions or a job well-done. Take short breaks throughout the day. Spend time away from work doing things you enjoy.
  • Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope with job stress and feelings of burnout. If you have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), take advantage of the available services.
  • Assess your interests, skills and passions. An honest assessment can help you decide whether you should consider an alternative job, such as one that's less demanding or one that better matches your interests or core values.
  • Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also help you get your mind off work and focus on something else.
  • Get some sleep. Sleeps restores well-being and helps protect your health. Aim for at least 7-8 hours each night.

Monday, October 1, 2018

5 Ways to Handle Unexpected Criticism From the Boss

There's nothing more frustrating than to think you're doing just great in your job, only to have the boss blindside you with something like: "You know, I'm concerned that you're not meeting the goals I think you need to meet in order to be successful at this company."

You're confused. Isn't this the same boss who says "good job!" to you at least once a day? Isn't this the same boss who told you in a recent email that she "really liked" your project report?

So, what gives?

There's no way of really knowing what's going on in the boss's mind at this point. She may have gotten some bad feedback from her boss, and so feels somehow that she needs to pass that negative vibe onto you. Or, she may be really bad at offering constructive criticism, and so instead hides behind "good job!" until she dumps the bad feedback on you later.

Believe me, I know just how you feel. I've been there. You're mad, frustrated, confused and perhaps even a little hurt. But while all those feelings are roiling around inside of you, you cannot let them out in an unprofessional way. ("Are you freaking kidding me??" is not an appropriate response.)

This is what you need to do:

  1. Try to get specifics. "Can you share a little more about your concerns? Does this have to do with the XYZ project or something else?" 
  2. Offer solutions. "I'm happy to go back and rework those numbers and do more research. Can I have it to you by the end of the week?"
  3. Stay positive. "I'm always open to improving my work, so I'm glad you brought this to my attention."
  4. Stay proactive. "Can we meet next week so I can briefly update you on the changes and make sure they're in line with what you want?"
  5. Engage. The last thing you want to do with a boss who has blindsided you like this is stick around and talk to her. But this is when it's really important to make a connection with her in a non-adversarial way. Relax your body language, look her directly in the eye and make sure you're not raising your voice. If she sees you're listening and not lashing back, she's likely to calm down and perhaps have a more constructive conversation.
Finally, to avoid blindsides in the future, initiate more feedback from her. After a presentation, you can ask: "I felt good about that, but I'd like to get your feedback on whether you think there was too much data for the clients. What do you think?"

The more you initiate good communication and substantive feedback, the better the chances you'll reduce blindsides that can derail your career.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Why Voodoo May Be the Secret to a Happier Career

There is no shortage of advice on this site and many others that tries to help you have a better career, enjoy your job more or just cope with your irksome colleagues.

But some days at work are just tough to cope with, and I feel your frustration. That's why for times when it seems nothing is making you feel better, I recommend a voodoo doll.

A study of U.S. and Canadian workers finds that when workers are allowed to use "symbolic retaliation" when they feel mistreated at work, it cut their feelings of injustice by a third.

While revenge on a real person doesn't make sense in a civilized workplace, sticking a voodoo doll (that resembles your horrible boss) or even throwing darts at his photo can help you feel better, researchers say.

"Symbolically retaliating against an abusive boss can benefit employees psychologically by allowing them to restore their sense of justice in the workplace," says Dr. Lindie Liang, assistant professor of Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The conclusion: Sticking a boss symbol full of holes not only feels good to you as an individual worker, but may also benefit your entire organization because you may perform better and feel better.

Pins, anyone?

Monday, September 24, 2018

How to Make All the Right Moves in Any Job

No one sets out to fail in a job, but it can happen if you don’t take some time to establish good habits from your first day in a new position. Whether it’s your first job or your fifth, there are ways to ensure that your career stays on track and you don’t do things that annoy the boss and your colleagues. If you want to know how to succeed in your career, then you need to:

1. Be proactive

Don’t sit in your cubicle or workstation and never emerge unless it’s for a bathroom break or to leave for the day. Opportunities won’t find you there – you need to get to know people in your department and throughout the organization. By looking for opportunities and connections to further your skills (read more here)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

These Are the Really Dumb Things to Avoid in a Job Interview

It’s not unusual to be a bit nervous for a job interview. It’s also not unusual to worry that you might say something dumb. But do you plan to ask the hiring manager the location of the nearest bar? Or why the hiring manager’s aura doesn’t like you? A CareerBuilder survey from 2017 found that these were some of the questions asked by job candidates, so you might be breathing a little easier, knowing that you could never ask anything that unprofessional.
Still, there are some questions you never want to ask in the early stages of the interviewing process – don’t even think about how to ask how much a job pays. To avoid making that mistake and other goofs that will turn off an employer, here are queries that you should avoid:

1. “How much does the job pay?”

It’s not that you can never, ever ask how much a job pays, it’s just that it’s considered a no-no in the initial interview phase. It’s sort of like when (read more here)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Get Rid of "Good Job" and Say This Instead

As a parent, I think I probably said "good job!" to my children at least five billion times. I don't think I exaggerate -- it was "good job!" for just about everything, from getting good grades to going potty.

In the workplace, it's also become the norm. But getting a "good job!" from the boss or a colleague can lose much of it's meaning, which is why I thought it might be helpful to provide some alternatives.

Here are some ways to say "good job" in a different way:

You’ve got it made!
You’re doing fine.
You’ve got your brain in gear today.
Good thinking.
That’s right!
That’s better.
Good going.
That’s good!
You are very good at that.
That was first class work.
That’s a real work of art.
Good work!
That’s the best ever.
Exactly right!
You did that very well.
Good remembering!
You’ve just about got it.
 You’ve got that down pat.
You are doing a good job!
That’s better than ever.
You certainly did well today.
That’s it!
Much better!
Keep it up!
Now you’ve figured it out.
Nice going.
You’re really improving.
I knew you could do it.
You are learning a lot.
Good going.
Not bad.
That’s great.
I’m impressed.
Keep working on it; you’re improving.
Congratulations, you got it right!
You must have been practicing.
Now you have it.
You did a lot of work today.
That’s it. You are learning fast.
I like that.
Good for you!
Way to go.
Couldn’t have done it better myself.
Now that’s what I call a fine job.
You’ve just about mastered that.
You’ve got the hang of it!
That’s an interesting way of looking at it.
One more time and you’ll have it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Don't Wait: 8 Reasons to Leave Your Job Now

I've often written about how to get a job. But now, I'm going to write about how to leave a job.

With unemployment below 4%, there's never been a better time to say good-bye to a job that has cost you sleep, sanity and family relationships. It's time to give your two-weeks notice to the boss who is stingy with praise, passive-aggressive with feedback and uses pay raises as a chance to pile on more work.

Say farewell to the colleagues who reheat fish in the microwave, steal your stapler and troll you on Slack.

Not sure whether you should leave your job or not? It can be tough to decide that you've had enough, especially when you learned to put up with so much crap in the crappy job market of the last decade. You may be thinking you'll keep this job while you can start your own company on the side, or perhaps it's better to know the devil you do than the devil you don't.....blah, blah, blah.

But I'm here to tell you that bosses who treat you badly will not see the light one day and start being nice. The company culture that makes a dictatorship look like kiddie daycare doesn't become zen-like anytime soon. The commute that lasts 10 minutes longer each month will not miraculously become shorter (unless you figure out a human pneumonic tube).

So, let's go through a short list of why you should quit your job. If you want a longer list, take your best friends to the nearest pub where they will come up with a much longer list, filled with items like "The carpet smells funny" and "There's no Jacuzzi in the men's bathroom."

Leave your job if:

  • You are back from vacation for two weeks and still cry every day that you have to go into work, or at least feel like punching the wall every single day.
  • The minute your boss opens his/her mouth, you feel like someone just ran over Mr. Boopsie, your childhood bunny. 
  • Every Sunday night you break into hives, develop a migraine, get a stomachache or otherwise feel like the bottom of a garbage disposal at the thought of going to work in less than 12 hours.
  • You don't care about the job or what you do. Whether it's making tin cans or doing brain transplants, you can't summon up even an iota of enthusiasm.
  • The company makes your skin crawl. You don't like the leaders, what the company does or its values. You don't like even telling your Nana where you work, let alone your friends.
  • You hate the sound of your own voice, because all it does is whine about the job, the company, colleagues and your boss. 
  • You could be more productive, but you are not. You might think about why, but it's too much trouble and you'd rather read about what Meghan Markle wore to the latest polo match.
  • You're miserable to be around. You argue with everyone, including the dog. The next time you find yourself sniping at a friend or family member about the best place to put the TV remote, you know it's time to get your resume together.
Face it: You know when it's time to go. Why hang on to a job that someone else can do and may really love? It's time to leave and find something that makes you -- and all the people in your life -- much happier. 

How to Get Credit for Your Ideas

Have you ever had someone steal your idea?

If you've been in the workplace for any amount of time, the answer may be "yes."

But as Daniel Solis points out, there really isn't a way to steal an idea, because someone else has probably thought of it first.

The world of work is rapidly changing, and ideas often are zipping around the workplace like a squirrel after drinking a case of Mountain Dew. There are bound to be ideas that sound similar, so it's easy to believe that Marty or Janet stole your idea.

What's important is that you don't stew in your own juices and a)pout about it like a 2-year-old denied a cookie b) cry or whine to your co-workers c) get angry and vow never to propose anything ever again. Ever. Again.

Those strategies will only damage your career, and eventually everyone will see you about as relevant as a rotary telephone.

So how can you pitch an idea and make sure everyone knows it came from you first? (Or at least you're the first to propose it in your company or department.)

Here are some ideas:

  • Stand tall. If you propose an idea in a meeting, make sure you don't drop it like a dead rat and then scurry away. Solicit feedback such as "Does anyone have any problem with what I've proposed? I'd like to start on it right away." This shows you're ready to stand behind your idea and hear any objections -- or supportive comments. It forces others to acknowledge your idea.
  • Don't fade into the woodwork. Sometimes days or weeks may go by without much fanfare about your idea, and then a colleague proposes nearly the same thing you did -- and it's greeted like the greatest idea since the light bulb. Respond with, "I'm so glad you were able to build on my idea from several weeks ago." Then, jump in with some comments such as "When I was researching this idea months ago, I found that younger customers will respond the best to such a marketing tactic."
  • Follow up. When you've proposed an idea in a meeting -- or even to a boss in the elevator -- then follow up with the idea in writing so that there's a clear record of when you proposed it. This helps remind everyone where the idea came from, and a clearly dated document can keep anyone from later crowding you out when you clearly initiated the idea.
Finally, never rest on your laurels. Always keep pitching ideas, even though some may never get far. Organizations today are under intense competitive pressure, and companies like Amazon and Google have shown that there is no such thing as a crazy idea -- just employers who are crazy to ignore any idea. As long as you keep your creative juices flowing, your career will be headed in the right direction.

This post ran earlier.

Monday, September 10, 2018

What You're Getting Wrong When You Apologize

Today, social media is sure to blast the news far and wide when a top leader makes a mistake, whether the person is in the private sector or public life.

Recently, a discussion  about leaders who benefit from showing genuine remorse when things go wrong prompted me to think about how we can all learn from such a situation.

I'm not saying you have to apologize on Twitter or post a remorseful 600-word apology on Facebook when you screw up at work. That doesn't make sense since no one is Wichita is really going to care that you forgot the charts for a presentation at your company in Seattle.

The key is not just making an apology, but an honest apology. You would think that the distinction doesn't need to be made, but we all have had experience with that person who offers a flip "I'm sorry!" and then blithely goes on his or her way. Or, the sarcastic, "Well, excuse me for being human!" that doesn't help at all.

Too often, leaders think that apologizing shows weakness and that erroneous assumption trickles down to their employees. Workers are afraid to apologize to their colleagues or their managers, and vice versa. That only causes resentment, and can impact a team's ability to function.

If you've done something wrong that has hurt another person or the business, you need to:

  • Apologize to the right person. Making a blanket "sorry!" doesn't make anyone feel better. If your actions, for example, caused someone else to have to work the weekend to make up for your failing, then apologize directly to that person.
  • Acknowledge the damage. "I'm sorry I didn't finish my part of the report and you had to work over the weekend. I'm sure you had other things you wanted to do."
  • Offer a solution. When you've made a mistake, it's critical -- especially if you're apologizing to your boss -- that you take steps to fix the problem. "I didn't have my report done because I was waiting on information from shipping. I have an appointment set up with the supervisor there and we're going to come up with a plan for communicating better so there won't be delays in the future," you say.
  • Ask for suggestions. If you can't come up with a way to make things better, simply ask, "What can I do to make this up to you?"
  • Don't be sneaky. If there's more bad news to come because of your screw-up, such as a client threatening to go somewhere else, then you need to get that out in the open. Bosses, especially, don't like to be blindsided by such information. "I understand our client is upset and I've already set up a call for this afternoon. I'll give you a full report when I'm done," you offer.
Things move really quickly these days, which means you can't delay when offering an apology. Act as quickly as possible, and always make your apology in person or via phone if possible. While it can be difficult to admit your failure, it's much easier to deal with it quickly and professionally and move on to showing you can provide real value to your boss, your colleagues and your company.

This post ran earlier.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

How to Help Your Boss See You as a Rising Star

Many young workers come to a conclusion that's often hard to swallow: Working hard doesn't mean you get ahead.

Just because you show up on time, meet all your deadlines and don't gossip, well, that's not enough to get a bigger paycheck or title. In fact, you may wonder why the dunderhead in the cubicle next to you got a supervisory role, when you know more and do more.

But here's the thing: Dunderhead is working smarter. He knows that it's not enough to want the new title and new office -- he's let it be known that he does. He's mentioned it in his yearly review, talked about it when he and the boss had coffee (Dunderhead had coffee with the boss???) and asked what he needed to do to get on track for that management role.

And you? Well, you sat at your little workstation and just figured that someone had to know how hard you worked. Right?

The biggest mistake young workers make is thinking that their accomplishments -- no matter how big or small -- will garner them rewards. Nope. It doesn't work that way. What garners you the bigger gains in your career is being strategic -- like a coach plotting out the game-winning plan.

Sit down and figure out:

  • Your strengths and weaknesses. These don't come just from you -- take a hard look at what past performance evaluations have noted and the feedback you get from bosses and colleagues. Go through your emails or texts -- is there a familiar compliment such as "Your work is always so thorough" or a complaint such as "your writing is unclear"? Find ways to improve your deficiencies, such as through online classes, seminars or even going back to school. Instead of a vacation this year to Tahiti, use that money to invest in yourself and your future by earning a new certification or more education that is valued by your company.
  • Weigh in. The next time a new worker needs help or your colleague is stuck (again) when using the new software, pitch in. This time, however, make sure that others know about it -- tell your boss you enjoy being a mentor and would be happy to help others, or offer to write up a short cheat sheet for others to follow when they get lost using the new software. You don't want to take on too much extra work, but you want to be able to show your expertise.
  • Keep a log. Sort of like Captain Kirk on Star Trek, you need to keep a record of daily happenings or you'll forget -- and so will your boss. Make note of when make the company money or save it money. For example, if you solve a customer complaint that results in new sales or figure out a cheaper way to ship items, then those are the kinds of things you need to make sure your boss knows about. Being able to demonstrate your contribution if one of the best ways to climb the ladder of any career.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Why Your LinkedIn Photo Sucks

While you may not have given more than a moment's thought to your profile photo on LinkedIn, you may want to reconsider.

A recent analysis of 2,000 LinkedIn photos from a variety of industries by JDP, a risk mitigation company, finds that those in real estate, human resources, marketing and sales get the highest marks when it comes to framing, lighting, resolution, attire, facial expression and photo origins (selfie, cropped from a group, professionally shot, etc.)

Those who were given a grade of "F" include government and retail workers. The highest percentage of those with no photo came from healthcare (36%) while those in marketing, advertising and public relations were most likely to have a photo.

"Epic fails" included most car selfies (usually from those in IT, computer science health, wellness, fitness and retail). The most photos that don't fill the frame came from those in retail, sales, business development, human resources and recruiting.

JDP offers some advice on taking photos that will portray you best on LinkedIn:

1. No selfies.

2. No cropped photos. (You know the one -- you can see Grandma's shoulder just to your left.)

3. No poor framing. Look at the background of your photo -- do you seem to have a telephone pole coming out the top of your head? Is that a beer pong on your desk?

4. Business casual attire. This looks best with a smile. If you're trying to convey a more serious and intelligent image, dress more formally.

5. Good lighting. The face need to be well-lit, with adequate contrast between the subject and the background. Avoid glare on the skin or eyeglasses.

6. Sharpness. Once the photo is clicked into full view, you don't want any pixelation or blurriness.

There are many ways to improve your professional image, and this may be one of the easiest. Investing in a professional photo session or having a photographer buddy take a decent photo of you can pay off in the long run, and should be seen as an important investment.

Monday, August 27, 2018

3 Signs You Need to Run From That Job Offer -- Fast

One of the nice things about the unemployment rate dipping below 4% is that job candidates are in high demand and are getting much nicer offers (more pay, free Doritos for life, massage chairs), but that doesn't mean all employers are going to make your life better.

No matter where you interview -- whether it's with a Fortune 100 company or a start-up -- you need to make sure that you're not being bamboozled. (That's an old-fashioned word for someone trying to fool or cheat you.)

Here are some warning signs that you may want to think twice about working for an employer:

1. Basic courtesies are not present. Are you getting interview emails that read something like, "Be here at 9" and don't include anything about how they're looking forward to meeting you, instructions on where to park or who you will be meeting? Then that's a warning sign. When simple manners go out the window, it's often a sign that there's some underlying hostility in that workplace that doesn't bode well for daily civility. Pay attention to the demeanor of those you meet, from the office receptionist to the C-suite honchos. Bad vibes start at the top and infest a company -- never a good atmosphere to face every day.

2. Vagueness. When you don't get a clear job description of the position, with examples of the kind of work you will do, then that can be concerning. It either a) means the position isn't considered critical so no one really pays much attention to it or b) it's deliberately vague so they can pile on whatever they choose after you accept the position.

3. You don't get to meet many people. The employees you do meet seem straight out of central casting: "Yes. We love it here. Wonderful. Yes. We love it here. Wonderful," they say, smiling widely. Make sure you've got your Spidey sense on full alert. If they won't let you talk to a wide variety of people, there could be a reason why. Check out ratings on Glassdoor to see if there are some consistently bad reviews -- also look for mentions on social media that may help you spot potential problems.

When the job market is tough -- as during the Great Recession -- sometimes you have to take what you can get just to pay rent and put food on the table. But when things are going in the favor of the job seeker, then I certainly think it's worthwhile to ensure that you're taking a position that will be a great fit -- and a nice place to work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Management Isn't That Hard if You Remember These 3 Things

Parenthood is one of those jobs that you think doesn't look too difficult until you've done it. Then, you realize that you have 18 years of caring for a child when you're running on no sleep, (usually) bad food and everyone constantly telling you what you're doing wrong.

The same thing is true of management. How hard can it be? Just tell other people what to do, collect a nice paycheck and fire people who annoy you.

Then you actually become a manager and you realize how really wrong you were about the job. People come whining to you with every little thing ("Bob keeps burping the alphabet!" "Marsha talks too loud on the phone!"). You realize that no one has any problem calling you on your day off to ask you where they can find extra staples. Your boss wants to know why your team can't work faster, cheaper and with more enthusiasm after he slashes 10% of your budget and lays off five people.

The important thing about management is not to get too distracted by all the theories out there that will make your a better boss. Sure, it would be nice for you to make barbecue every Friday for your team and let them practice yoga in your office, but that's not always possible -- or even reasonable.

So, let's look at the things that are pretty simple that will help make you a good manager. Perhaps not the best manager on the face of the planet, but at least someone who isn't burned in effigy in the parking lot.

You need to:

1. Communicate. In all the years I've been covering the workplace, this is at the heart of most problems. Failure to communicate. Don't assume that your team knows what you're thinking, and why you think it. You will have to tell them, even if you've told them 10 times before. When you explain why you made a decision, then they start to understand your leadership philosophy -- and it will ensure that you hold yourself accountable. You said it and they heard it. No trying to pin a bad decision on someone else -- and you will earn full credit for a good decision.

2. Be flexible. In order to truly be effective as a leader, you can't offer cookie-cutter solutions to your team. What motivates Jean the introvert is not the same thing that will motivate Laura, an outgoing motormouth. This will require you to spend time talking to individual team members so you get a better handle on what will work in certain situations.

3. Learn to delegate. This is a tough one, much tougher than people realize. It's tough to let go of certain tasks, because a) you've been burned in the past when someone did a crappy job after being delegated a responsibility and b) it's just easier to do it yourself that spend time explaining it to someone else. I get it. But here's a little incentive: What would it be like to not be called 10 times a day while on vacation? What would it be like to see someone really rise to the occasion and do such a wonderful job you don't work 12-hour-days anymore? It's worth a shot, and you know that deep down maybe you don't delegate because that person won't do it exactly like you want it. So what? Is doing a job differently really so bad if the person still achieves results?

Monday, August 20, 2018

This is What Being the Shy One at Work Does to Your Career

When you're the "quiet one" or the "shy one" at work, others may make assumptions about you.

For example, they may think the fact that you don't say anything in meetings means you're not confident in your opinions, or that you're not prepared. They may believe that your silence when others are bantering about their weekend or their Fantasy Football picks means you're socially inept, or that you are a snob and think you're above arguing about the Cleveland Browns.

Is any of this true? You may say "No!" - or at least think that in your head since you are the "quiet, shy one."

You may defend your lack of gabbiness on the fact that you're just an introvert. Nothing wrong with being an introvert, you argue, as many of the great people are introverts -- Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg -- even Isaac Newton for goodness' sake! 


Being the "quiet, shy one" at work does have it's downside. Managers may not see you as leadership material or capable of working with key clients on important projects. They may figure you just don't have the drive or ambition to climb the ladder.

If you're OK with being stuck in the same job with about the same pay for the rest of your life, then this won't be a problem. But, if you'd like more challenging work, or to be given a bigger role in your company, then you may need to change your behavior. Not drastically. Just enough to be the "quiet, shy one" who has great ideas and wields influence.

The key is thinking of ways to make yourself heard while still being comfortable with who you are. In other words, becoming a motormouth isn't going to feel right to you, and it will seem false to others. You need to strike the right balance -- knowing the key times to speak up and when to let others know what you're thinking.

 Some ways to do that include:

1. Soliciting feedback. Ask colleagues or even a manager who you respect for some thoughts about how they view your communication and work style. Do they see you as uncaring about the team? A deep thinker? Someone who can be trusted? An employee who seems to have no professional drive? Help them feel good about being honest -- tell them you really want to gain more responsibility and be more useful. 

2. Don't make assumptions. If you want to be included in a project, then you're going to have to ask for it. Don't wait for someone to recognize how hard you're working and then offer it to you because you might be waiting for a very long time. Start making your desires known and then be ready to offer the reasons you'd be a great addition.

3. Build stronger ties. Just because you've worked with a colleague for two years or had the same boss for five years doesn't mean you have the kind of bond that will help you get ahead. Have lunch or coffee with colleagues and really try to get to know them.  Attend company events with the goal of understanding what other people in the company do and how you can interact with them more.

There's nothing wrong with being quiet or shy or introverted. But if you want to get ahead in your career, then that's going to require some strategic communication efforts on your part to ensure that your quietness isn't perceived as a liability.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

4 Ways to Handle a Passive-Aggressive Colleague

There are always different personalities at work, and that's what can make your day strange, fun, interesting -- and maddening.

One of those different personalities can be the passive-aggressive colleague.

A passive-aggressive personality is defined in the dictionary as "a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting or misplacing important materials."

Sound like anyone you know? If so, you may find it frustrating to deal with him or her. This co-worker may make you feel uncomfortable, but you're not sure why. He ignores you when you pass him in the hallway. He makes subtle insults about your work, wrapped in what initially appears to be a compliment. ("That presentation was interesting. It was almost as good as the one Jim gave last week.") He doesn't get tasks done that are his responsibility and stubbornly defends his position just to annoy others.

Preston Ni, author of "How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People," has some suggestions:

1. Look for a pattern. Don't immediately jump to the conclusion that someone is being passive-aggressive because they ignored you in the break room or criticized your report. Look for a clear pattern of such behavior before deciding what action you may want to take.

2. Get informed. Just as you wouldn't want anyone trying to "diagnose" you, it isn't fair to do the same with a colleague. If you suspect that he may be passive-aggressive, then try to get more information so you can better understand what's going on. For example, ask open-ended, non-judgmental questions that help you understand his background, such as a family dynamic that is unhealthy. Such personalities can emerge when an individual "feels powerless and lacks a strong voice in a challenging environment," Ni explains.

3. Don't feed the problem. If you don't set firm boundaries and instead start to normalize such behavior through your inaction, you're indulging the co-worker to continue. Don't "rescue" the co-worker by doing his work to ensure he meets deadlines or trying to cover for him in any way. ("He didn't really mean to insult you. He's just trying to be funny.") Further, it's not your place to criticize the colleague and nag him to improve. That just sets him up to be more stubborn and resistant.

4. Try different tactics. Try using subtle humor to turn around rude behavior or help the colleague feel more empowered by asking for his opinion about how to handle an issue. He may offer constructive ideas, but if he complains or criticizes, don't agree or disagree. "I'll keep that in mind," you respond. Then, go on with your work.

Monday, August 13, 2018

8 Things To Consider When You Get a Job Offer

Congratulations! After a lot of hard work, an employer has extended a job offer to you. But before you go out for a celebratory dinner, there’s more hard work ahead. Here’s what to do when you get a job offer:

1. Use your manners.

What do when you get a job offer? Well, first things first—say thank you. It sounds simple, but many job seekers forget this step, and it sets the wrong tone with the employer. If you decide to accept the offer, send thank-you emails to those who met with you during the interview stage, and note how much you appreciate the opportunity.

2. Get the offer in writing.

A verbal offer is nice, but a job offer is only as strong (read more here)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Don't Go to a Job Interview Without Doing These Things First

When you get a job interview, the worst mistake you can make is just trying to “wing it,” no matter your level of experience or the skills you possess. Interviewing requires preparation and practice, and those that put in the effort are much more likely to get the job they desire.
While there is no “best” way to handle interview preparation, there are steps that need to be taken to boost your chances of success. For example, you need to make an honest assessment of your skills, experience, and accomplishments while also doing your homework to learn everything you can about the employer. This may take time, but remember that every interview is a learning experience, and your interview preparation work lays an important base for all interviews yet to come.
Here’s a checklist of interview preparation items to consider:

Clean up your online presence

Check your privacy settings on all social media pages (read more here)

Monday, August 6, 2018

5 Everyday Habits That Can Quickly Derail Your Career

It's often the simple things at work that can really cause the most problems for your career. While you may be sweating over the big presentation you're giving next week, it's really something else that has caught the attention of others in your workplace.

Your feet.

Yes, it's sandal season, and it's blazing hot outside. You grab your favorite pair of  flip-flops because the dress code is really no big deal at work.

But, your feet.

It's first noticed by the woman in the next cubicle. Then, the guy sitting by you in a meeting notices. Before long, there's an IM storm going around about your feet.

Long, unclean toenails. Calloused skin. Hairy toes. What is wrong with you? your co-workers wonder. How oblivious are you to those feet? Those feet are with you all day -- don't you even notice?

But this is when the real professional trouble begins. Now your colleagues are wondering: If you don't notice your gross feet, what else are you missing? Should they be concerned you won't do a good job on the big project? Should they let you even talk to important clients?

Like I mentioned earlier, it's often the little things that can cause big problems at work. In the interest of saving your career and letting you focus on important matters at work, here are the little things you need to avoid:

1. Not cleaning up after yourself. Whether it's in the bathroom or the break room or your cubicle, no one wants to have to deal with your dirty dishes, food scraps, moldy coffee cups or any other detritus. At work, people equate sloppy habits with sloppy work.

2.  Always being late. Everyone has issues that can cause them to be late every once in a while, but colleagues have very little tolerance for someone who is chronically late. It's seen as a power play to get everyone to march to your tune, and they will quickly grow resentful and start finding ways to make you pay, whether it's excluding you from communications or mentioning it to the boss.

3. Phone addiction. I know even the most rabid phone users who are annoyed when a colleague is always looking at his phone and can't hold one conversation without constantly checking it. Start breaking this bad habit by turning off notifications when you're having conversations, or sticking the thing in your pocket and leaving it there while someone is talking to you.

4. Bad speech habits. One weird habit I've noticed lately is people starting every answer with "So." If I ask, "How are you?" I get a reply of, "So, I feel pretty good today." It's a crutch, and one that becomes annoying over time, as does using "like" or "you know" or "uh" too much.

5. Social media. Some jobs require you to use social media to promote your product or service. No one begrudges you using social media in these cases. But it peeves colleagues when they're waiting on some information from you and when they come to ask you about it, you're checking Instagram or Facebook or Twitter to see what your friends or family are doing. Any personal interactions --  whether it's on the phone or through texts or social media -- should be rare outside of lunch or break times.

You may not care whether your colleagues like your behavior -- or your footwear -- and just ignore them. But I can promise you that when colleagues get annoyed like this, they start to drop hints with the boss about your behavior or performance. When the boss has to stop what she's doing to listen to such comments, it's only a matter of time before she also gets annoyed with your lack of awareness. Then, my friend, you've got real trouble.