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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Microsoft Finds the One Thing That Matters Most to New Hires

As the competition for workers heats up, employers are offering better benefits and pay in an effort to attract job candidates.

The problem is that once a new worker is on board, then things may start to fall apart -- often within the first week. Many new workers are thinking to themselves: "Wow, I think this was a mistake," and may even begin job hunting again, knowing that there are plenty of employers out there who want them.

Why do new workers feel this way? Often, it's very simple: They don't feel a connection to the new job or the people or the organization. The quickest way to remedy that, finds a recent study, is for the manager to meet one-on-one with the new worker.

A Microsoft study found that it's often the "little things" that matter most to new hires: a working computer, immediate access to the building, email and intranet on the first day of work. That way, the employee feels productive immediately, and also begins to tie into the shared goals of the organization.

Looking at the engagement of about 3,000 workers, Microsoft finds that the really critical key is for a new employee met with a manager during the first week. When that happens, then the company saw key growth for the employee in building an internal network, higher-quality meetings and greater collaboration with team members.

Let's look at it another way. When you invite someone to your home for dinner, you don't let this person into your home, then turn around and go lock yourself in the bedroom to read or play Fortnight. You wouldn't expect this person to make his own dinner, clean up afterward and then find his way home without any contact from you. It's ridiculous -- and so is the practice of new employees never being personally welcomed by the boss and spending that one-on-one-time.

As the Microsoft researchers note, it's a pretty simple idea, but one that many bosses miss.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Research: Workplace Incivility Has Ripple Effect

When I am the most frustrated and angry, I wish I had a British accent. There is just something special when someone like Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on "Downton Abbey" lets you know you're behaving like a jerk.

"When you talk like that, I'm tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed with no supper," she once said.

In the workplace, incivility is a problem. Disagreements about the way to approach a new project can quickly deteriorate into insults that are anatomically impossible and comments about one's politics/nationality/mother.

Even email can get out of hand. A study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds that a rude email can really stress people out. Whether it's when an email is delivered (3 a.m., really??) or the tone ("We can't afford for you to just keep playing around with this project") the negative effects spread.

Specifically, the worker takes the stress home to a domestic partner, who then also begin to feel stress. Both of these workers are now affected by the incivility to the point that they withdraw from work the next week, making the incivility a "double whammy," says YoungAh Park, a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois.

Some blame politics in this country for the mounting incivility that people complain about at work. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) have become so concerned they've formed the Civility and Respect Caucus, which puts Democrats and Republicans together to promote civility in Congress and among high school students in their districts.

While some cynics may scoff at such action, the author of "How Civility Works" says that people seeking civility matters.

"The true crisis of civility is if none of us cared. If we all stopped caring about what counts as appropriate behavior, then civility's not in crisis, it's dead," says Keith Bybee.

According to the National Conflict Resolution Center, there are several ways that civility at work can help your career. Among them:

1. Better productivity. When you're civil with people and communicate effectively, you'll be able to resolve differences faster and begin achieving results.
2. Resiliency. Workplace changes happen quickly these days, and those who can't adapt will get left behind. Get rid of the "us versus them" attitude that becomes a mental and emotional roadblock and instead look for the best ways to help your company be successful because that will lead to your success.
3. Greater value. Emotional intelligence is becoming a highly sought skill by many employers, who now believe that just having the right technical skills isn't enough. They want workers who can communicate and collaborate and they won't get that from someone who is uncivil to others. Being seen by others as someone who is civil can go a long way to making your a valued member of the team.

As Lady Crawley said, there is no whining. Life, she said, is just a "series of problems which we must try and solve."

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

3 Ways to Stay Connected to Hiring Managers

One trend I've noticed with more and more hiring managers is that they have an ongoing list of potential candidates for a variety of jobs. Some of that is because of "ghosting," which is a trend where candidates don't show up for job interviews -- or even new jobs.

Another reason is that many hiring managers know how stressful it is to try and hire under pressure, such as when IT screams "I've got to have a new body in here in two weeks or else!"

So, to protect their own sanity, many hiring managers have a list of several candidates they feel can be contacted should there be a job opening -- or the candidate they hired doesn't work out.

That's why you need to never write off a company and say, "Well, I'll never work for XYZ. I didn't even get a call/interview/second interview."

You can get a jump on the competition simply by remaining top-of-mind for employers. Even if you didn't seem to get a lot of interest from an employer, you need to:

  • Make a connection. Follow the hiring manager on Twitter, connect via Facebook and send a LinkedIn request. Then, through that connection make sure you send industry news or even professional achievements (such as a new certification) as a way to stay connected. If the hiring manager loves football, for example, you can always send them a link via Twitter about recent trades or rumors.
  • Look for a side door. Just because you didn't land the job you applied for doesn't mean there isn't a way to work for that employer. Sometimes you can find another position through sales instead of marketing, for example, that allows you to email the manager who didn't hire you and say, "I'm going to apply for the sales position because I just feel that your company would be such a great fit and has a strong culture I can get behind. I just wanted you to know because I so appreciated your consideration and the time you spent telling me about the company." You never can tell when that hiring manager may put in a good word for you with the sales hiring director. "You know, I didn't hire Bob Jones, but he let me know he's applying to you. I thought he had a lot of energy and I think he's worth looking at."
  • Keep a list. If you don't get a response with your outreach efforts, don't worry. It doesn't hurt anything to be friendly and professional (no stalking, please). Just as hiring managers are keeping a list of "potentials," you should also keep a running list of potential employers. If you record your interactions, it's much easier to check back in at regular intervals (a holiday greeting, Super Bowl prediction, etc.) and then make a much smoother connection when you're looking for a job.
Finally, don't forget that the day is coming when it will again be a bad job market and you're going to be desperate for a job. The best way to guard against such tough times is to always stay connected with those who are best positioned to hire you.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Techies: Are You Willing to Embrace a Stupid Idea?

Techies may believe they have nothing of value to learn from Lady Gaga when it comes to their careers, but they would be wrong.
Gaga is adept at taking smart risks, says Whitney Johnson, an expert on disruptive innovation and personal disruption. That is exactly what more tech workers need to do if they want to have successful careers.
Technology pros often are prized for their self-discipline and ability to think logically. But, says Johnson, author of "Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work," they may become so accustomed to following rules that they don’t push themselves to take more risks. “Their logical mind may look at something and say, ‘Are you out of your mind? This doesn’t make sense.'"
But at a time when more employers are urging employees to come up with innovative ideas and solutions, this lack of creativity—even in technology—can cause a career to stagnate, Johnson says.
People in IT and related industries should use their knowledge and experience to make smart decisions but also be willing to take a step back from a “stupid idea,” instead of (read more here)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How to Avoid Being a Job-Hunting Jerk

The working world seems much more casual these days, with technology executives wearing hoodies to meetings and employees drinking beer in the break room on Friday afternoons. But that casual atmosphere doesn’t necessarily translate to the job search process, and taking a too-casual approach can make you seem rude, unprofessional – and not worth hiring.
So, whether it’s learning how to shake hands properly or cleaning up your social media profile, it’s time to learn the correct job seeking tips and techniques. Here are some of the things you need to think about:

1. Clean up your social media profiles

Before you ever begin your job search, you need to take a long, hard look at what you’ve posted online, and what others have posted about you. Since one in three employers have rejected job candidates because of something they have read about them online, you must make sure your various profiles are scrubbed clean of anything that could be deemed controversial (passed-out-drunk photos from a frat party, for example).
Change as many settings as you can to Private and use sites like LinkedIn or Twitter (read more here)

Monday, July 16, 2018

10 Reasons Why Your Resume is a Fail

Sitting down to build a resume may be tougher than you initially think.
There’s a lot to consider: for example, have how many skills should you list on a resume? Which relevant experiences and professional and educational accomplishments should you put the most focus on? Figuring out all of this translates to having to manage a delicate balancing act, one that’s dictated by the employer’s specific needs, and the sometimes rigid specificities of an ATS. To improve your chances of your resume making an impression (and getting into human hands), you need to avoid some of the most common resume mistakes:

1. Resume lacks focus and doesn’t grab the reader

Employers screen resumes for as few as six seconds, so it’s important that you build a resume that shows the employer at a glance what you want to do and what you’re good at doing. To sharpen your resume’s focus, include a summary at the top, underneath your header. This draws the reader (read more here)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

3 Ways to Better Connect With Co-Workers

If you could spend 40 to 50 hours per week with a handful of (living) people, who would you pick?

Chances are you are going to say your significant other, best friend, some famous actor or actress and possibly even your favorite bartender.

It's unlikely you will choose to spend so many hours with people you don't know well -- and on the surface seem like people who are weird or boring or both.

But isn't that we all do every week at work? Spend a great portion of our time with people we don't know well -- and judge to be less than ideal?

In the workplace, you're asked to be on teams with people who have different backgrounds, ideas and skills. You may feel you have nothing in common with these people, and that can make your job more miserable than it needs to be. Or, it could be that you feel you're the "different" one and can't seem to connect with colleagues.

There's a lot of advantages to finding more ways to connect with your co-workers. You will be happier. They will be happier. Work will be less stressful. 

Let's look at some ways to make a friendlier connection at work:

1.  Eat together. Sitting down at a table and eating together is one of the most effective ways to get to know someone in a more relaxed atmosphere.  It's a chance for you to ask questions about non-work related matters, such as "What's your favorite food?" "What's the worst thing you've ever eaten?" "Are there any good restaurants I should try this weekend?" Ask colleagues to lunch or join them in the break room.

2.  Talk about pop culture. Whether it's music, movies, television or books, people often have "favorites." You can say something like, "I see you're reading the latest Stephen King. Is this one you would recommend?" Or, you can try, "I'm looking for something new to watch on Netflix. Does anyone have a recommendation?" 

3. Circulate. Don't sit down at your work station at 8 a.m. and only get up when it's time to go home. Move around periodically, stopping to compliment a great super hero poster in someone's cubicle or say, "I'm headed to Starbucks -- anyone want to tag along?" You don't want to interrupt people when they're obviously concentrating on a task, but make friendly overtures throughout the day and soon you will feel like you're among friends.

Monday, July 9, 2018

8 Ways to Avoid Job Scams

Sometime during your career, you may try working from home and take on independent gigs even if you have a stable job. The reasons may vary, such as wanting to earn some extra cash (hello, Bahamas vacation!) to "trying  out" a new skill such as writing or graphic design.

There seems to be no shortage of online jobs being offered that let you work at home in your jammies while your kitty purrs nearby. Sounds great, doesn't it?

But the problem (aside from the fact that you never get out of your pajamas) is that there are people out there who want to ruin everything for you. They will try to scam you with fake job offers, lure you into giving them money or even try to steal all your personal information.

Before you fall into any of these traps, here's what you need to know about work-from-home jobs:

1. Look them in the eye. If someone wants to interview you about a job, you need to communicate via phone or email. Communicating only via text or instant message should be a red flag that the offer is a scam.

2. The big rush. No legitimate job offer should include the stipulation that you must accept the offer right now or lose out. The bad guys want to prevent you from thinking about it too much, and that's never a good idea.

3. Super-secret jobs. This is the job offer that no one else knows about, but this person (or recruiting company) seems to know about it and offers it to you. Be very careful, especially when the job is portrayed as being with the government. These offers also may include names of official-sounding government agencies, such as the Office of Budget Advancement, which doesn't exist.

4. Do your homework. Look up the employer online, looking for an address and phone number. Then, do a map search to see if the company is legitimate -- or does the address match a fried-chicken place when it's supposed to be an accounting company? Check out the company's "career" or "join us" section: Are there jobs being posted that match your job description? Also, do a "news" search of the company to see if anyone else seems to know of it's existence.

5. Protect your personal information. When posting your resume online, only include your email address. You become an easier target for scammers when you post your address or phone number. Never give out information like your Social Security number, bank account information or driver's license number until you've been hired by a legitimate company.

6. Never give them money. You're in this job hunt to earn money, not give it to scammers. Don't fall for the idea that you need to pay an "application fee" or for "training materials."

7. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I think I first heard this term when I was in second grade, and I've never found it to be false. If someone wants to pay you a lot of money for little work, then you need to move on.

8. Stay on your toes. Even if you are starting to get legitimate work, don't ever lull yourself into thinking a scam can't happen to you. I was a freelance journalist for more than 15 years when it happened to me, and it still makes me mad at myself when I think about it. I did some initial investigation, but I should have done more. Scammers are out there and working hard to destroy what you're trying to build. Don't let them.

Job scamming is an ongoing concern, so always keep abreast of the new scams and how they may be infecting different industries or sites. Do a regular search of "job scams" so you're up-to-date.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

This May be the Smartest Move for Any Wanna-Be Entrepreneur

Should you quit your day job to launch your new start-up?

Some experts will say "yes" because they believe it's the only way you can devote the time and attention to your new venture that it requires. Giving it a halfhearted effort, they say, means you won't be successful.

On the other hand, other experts (including your mom) say that it's dumb to quit a paying gig for one that might -- or might not -- pay off.

A study from the University of Wisconsin may help you make up your mind. The researchers found that the best path may be to become a "hybrid entrepreneur," which means you slowly enter the entrepreneurial world, rather than just ditching your day job and jumping fully into the new venture.

Successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Wozniak have proven such a strategy to be successful as he worked at Hewlett-Packard for quite a while after co-founding Apple.

Another finding is that these hybrid entrepreneurs were 33% more likely to survive than those start-ups where the founders jumped in with both feet and quit their jobs.

It's clear that if you're launching a new business, you're willing to take a risk. So, don't let others convince you that you'll never be successful if you aren't willing to take a greater risk, such as quitting your job. Becoming a hybrid entrepreneur is a great way to realize your dream -- and keep paying the rent.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Research Shows Why a Good Hair Day Can be So Important for Your Career

The temperatures are soaring in much of the country, and it's hard to have a "good" hair day when your're dripping sweat or the humidity is making you resemble a chia pet.

Having a terrible hair day can be distressing for many people, but it turns out it can also affect your ability to manage well or to get along with others at work.

According to studies by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, researchers say that when you believe you're attractive (having a good hair day), then you tend to believe that you're in a higher social class and believe that hierarchies make sense when it comes to the organization of people or groups. You believe that people who are lower in the hierarchy are there because they deserve to be, and also because they're less attractive.

This may have some real implications for the workplace. For example, a boss who believes he or she is attractive (probably having a good hair day) believes that those on the team who are further down in the organization are at that level not because they didn't get a chance, but because they simply aren't talented enough -- or didn't put in much effort.

Here's where it gets really interesting: When study participants were asked to just remember bad-hair days, they were more likely to see inequality as an issue. But when asked to recall a day when a good-looking date smiled in their direction, they were all about hierarchies.

There have been other studies that look at the effect that physical attractiveness has on the workplace, such as beautiful people doing better in their careers. Many workers may have felt helpless if they didn't fit the "norm" of conventional beauty standards.

But this research shows that workers may have more power than they believe. Next time you need to do well at work -- such as a big presentation -- think of a time when you felt attractive. That will help you boost yourself up the ladder mentally and that can help you interact with others by "reframing what you see as your place in the social hierarchy," says Margaret Neale, one of the researchers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Study Gives Important Clue About How to Boost Collaboration

When you're a manager trying to get team members to work together better, you would be wise to look at the "status" of each worker before asking them to help one another.

A study by The Ohio University's Fisher College of Business finds that you're going to get the best results from team collaboration by asking those a "moderate" distance in status from one another to collaborate.

Why? Researchers say if Bob, for example, perceives Randall as near him in status, then Bob sees Randall as a threat. Bob worries that Randall could overtake him in status if he does well.

On the other hand, if Jean perceives Kate as someone below her in status, then she may worry that Kate will require a lot of time and effort from her. So, Jean may not want to devote all that time to Kate because it will hurt her own career.

The real key for managers seeking effective collaboration on a team may be putting together workers who don't see one another too close or too far in terms of status.

"You might want to avoid assigning the most recently hired employee to train the newcomer," he said. "If that relative newcomer is worried about his or her status in the organization, they may be less than helpful with this new person who could surpass them," says Robert Lount, a study co-author. "Someone who is moderately successful, but not the top performer on the team, might be the most willing to help."

Monday, June 25, 2018

Channeling Christmas in July is a Boon for Your Career

It's the middle of summer, and no one right now is really thinking about decorating a Christmas tree, the holiday office party or baking cookies for colleagues.

That's why it's a perfect time to do so.

I don't mean that you should drag out the tree and start hanging tinsel, but I do mean that it's a great time to put yourself in the holiday frame of mind. The reason? You'll impress the heck out of your boss, endear yourself to colleagues and score major points with your network. All major accomplishments that will pay off for a long time.

When you channel the holidays in June or July, it means that you buy cards and write a nice note to your boss: "I just wanted to take the time to let you know how much I appreciate the support you've given me this year. I'm looking forward to all the adventures to come!" Or, you give your colleagues each a gift card to their favorite coffee shop with a smile and say, "I just thought you might enjoy this." To your network, you phone or send an email, telling them you appreciate them, catching them up on your latest news and then asking: "What can I do to help you?"

Face it: The end of the year is crazy. Writing thoughtful notes and taking time to reach out to everyone is often just one more thing to cross off your "to-do" list. Instead of those tasks becoming a joyful thing that allows you to reconnect to people, it's become another drag on your time.

This summer, take some time to really give to others. It will not only pay off for you professionally, but personally.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

3 Ways to Get Others to Listen to You When They're Distracted

I think we can all agree that there are a lot of distractions in our lives. But what you may not realize is that those distractions are hurting your career.

The biggest problem is that when others are distracted, they're not listening to you. If they're not listening to you, then it's going to affect your ability to get your job done, to impress the people you need to impress and to ensure they don't drop the ball and get you into trouble.

Here are some ways to make sure others listen to you:
1. Pick the right time. Don't try and talk to someone who is rushing for the elevator, has just had a difficult meeting or is eating lunch and watching cat videos. If you're not sure, just ask.
2. Be specific. "Hi Dan. I need five minutes of your time to discuss why the new deadline for the project won't work, and give you three other options. Can we talk now or is it better in about an hour?" Chances are good he'll pick to talk to you now since he knows you've got some solutions and won't take more than five minutes.
3. Get attention. Yes, it does feel disrespectful when the other person keeps glancing at his or her computer screen or phone when you're trying to talk. So, pause and say "Is this not a good time for you? I just wanted to talk about this because the customer is so upset and I'm concerned it may cause a problem with...." If the other person still isn't listening, say, "OK, I can see this isn't a good time. I'm going to come back in 30 minutes when you're free to talk." You've sent up a warning flare -- but let the person know you're going to keep at this until he listens to you. The odds are in your favor that he's going to give you the attention you need.

Monday, June 18, 2018

One Thing You Must Do With Any Resume

Fashion experts often advise that any outfit will look much better if you have it tailored – and that advice holds true for resumes as well.
When you build a resume, know that a tailored one is going to be one that “fits” the needs of a particular employer. Tailoring your resume makes you look much more desirable as a job candidate. Also: tailoring a resume to each and every job you apply to is an absolute must. Unsure of how to tailor a resume for a specific job? Look at the specific requirements of the job ad and try to address those points directly. Also—mimic the language used in the job ad when writing your resume. Continue reading for additional must-know info on this topic.
When considering how to tailor a resume for a specific job, toss out the rehash of job duties and responsibilities that might be profiled in your existing resume. Try to think in more detail. For example, if you worked in human resources, did you work on specific software? Did you work with various departments to plot their hiring strategy, and then craft job descriptions? Listing nothing but your duties and responsibilities does nothing for your resume, nor does it do anything for the recruiter or hiring manager who will read it (besides bore them). You must prove that you delivered results in previous or current roles (more on this soon).
Before we go much further, know this — you likely won’t have to write a new resume from scratch for each employer. A lot of your resume will remain the same — most likely, your resume heading (which contains your contact information); your education section; and past employers and dates worked for past employers.
The key to how to tailor a resume for a specific job is starting with a solid, well-written,

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why Collaborating Can Be a Pain -- and What to Do About It

Many of us are being asked to work more collaboratively. That can mean a variety of things, from working with those in other departments or outside partners to the of "play nice and share your toys" kind of thing within your own department.

But does collaboration have a downside? If you look at your inbox right now, you may say, "YES!" Your inbox may be groaning under the load of emails from collaborating partners. In addition, you're being pulled into more and more meetings as a result of collaborative efforts. It's no wonder that 85% of most knowledge workers and leaders are bogged down in email, meetings and phone calls.

So, when, exactly, are you supposed to get your work done?: Sure, collaboration can be great, but it can also be a giant pain.

How can you collaborate more effectively without writing emails at 3 a.m. or sitting in meetings for seven hours a day? Here's some ideas:

  • Be stingy. Collaboration is all about sharing, but you need to guard your time more carefully. For example, if someone wants to talk to you, appoint a specific block of time -- no more than 30 minutes. If you can't get things resolved in that amount of time, the agenda is too broad or unfocused. 
  • Stop emailing. Make it a rule that if you've exchanged more three emails with someone about a certain subject, you stop emailing and get on the phone with that person. It will be much faster and more efficient if you can talk through questions or concerns, rather than just continually kicking the can down the road with endless emails.
  • Be unhelpful. This may sound bad, but it's really a way to stay more focused. Instead of jumping in to help -- without even being asked -- think about whether you're meeting your own goals and objectives. If you've got extra time, it can be rewarding to volunteer to help others. But stay focused on your primary objectives -- post them on your cubicle wall if necessary.
  • Go to a local bar. No, the alcohol won't help you be more efficient. It's really about taking some time to get to know the people you collaborate with, whether that's at a local pub, coffee shop or diner. The more you get to know your collaborating partners, the more efficient you will be at communicating with them and better understand their goals. Without that knowledge, you waste time and effort in trying to get a handle on the other person.