Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Why You Didn't Get the Second Interview

It can be very exciting when you get a call from an employer inviting you for a job interview. But that feeling can quickly disappear when you don't get a call for the second interview.

If this happens more than once, you may need to make some adjustments because it might not be "them" -- but you.

If you fail to get a second interview, you need to consider:

  • You're making rookie mistakes. By the time you've been invited for an interview, the employer believes you've got most of the necessary hard skills for the job. A first interview is when the employer is looking to see if you've got the necessary interpersonal skills. If you can't hold a professional face-to-face conversation with your interviewer, you're going to be weeded out of the lineup. It's important that you show up on time, dress professionally, speak clearly, make eye contact and avoid nervous fidgeting. Also, never, never, never talk trash about a former employer, boss or colleague. Any interviewer will immediately think you will do the same about her company or personnel, and avoid hiring you.
  • You're unprepared. If you don't know the company's leadership team by name, can't identify key competitors or can't give examples of how your abilities will benefit the company, you're going to be passed over for a second interview. You need to do your homework on the company and the industry so that you're able to have a conversation with the interviewer about key topics.
  • You're rude. This is not something that you set out to do, but it may happen because you're not prepared. For example, if you don't even say "good morning" to the receptionist, look uninterested when the interviewer is talking about the company or fail to ask any questions to show your interest -- that's rude. 
  • You're too friendly. "So I was reading your son's Facebook page and I see you guys went to the Poconos on vacation -- did you have a good time?" This is not something that will make an interviewer feel good about you. In fact, she will probably think it's a bit creepy. You want to remain in the professional arena with comments about awards the company has won, or industry events that are scheduled. Stretching into anything personal can make interviewers nervous and eliminate you from job contention.
Getting a second interview isn't easy and takes hard work.

Look at it this way: If you were a golfer or tennis player or even an online gamer, would you enter a big tournament without practicing beforehand? Of course not. You know that it takes discipline, hard work and focus to be successful in these arenas. The same is true of getting a job. In order to avoid elimination, put some real effort into it and you'll find more success.

Monday, January 29, 2018

What Crying at Work Can Do to Your Career

When I appeared on the Today show many years ago, one of the female newscasters and I were chatting before my interview. At the time, she told me that she had recently had a disagreement with a high-powered female business executive over whether it hurt a woman's career to cry at work.

"I've cried many times (at work) to get what I want," the newscaster told me. "It always works. I just go into my boss's office and start crying."

I didn't say anything.  To be honest, I was shocked and annoyed.

I'll admit there have been a few times early in my career when I cried at work. Usually it was because I was frustrated with my performance or felt I was being unfairly treated. I remember  breaking into tears while talking to a male boss one time, and he offered me some advice. "You are burning the candle at both ends," he told me. "You cannot keep up this pace in your career without burning out. You've got to have more of a personal life and stop spending all your time at work."

Those were very wise words, and I appreciated them. Once I learned to have more balance, I was able to keep my emotions under better control and was able to deal with frustrating situations in a more professional manner.

A new study by Prof. Kimberly Elsbach of the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, finds that there are four stressful situations that can cause women to cry at work: personal issues, response to feedback, daily work stress or heated office meetings.

Elsbach, who did the research with Beth Bechky of the Stern School of Business at New York University, says that some crying is OK.  But it can get tricky when women don't behave as others believe they should, or stick to a "script" of how others see them. If they don't, then they are seen as emotional, weak, unprofessional or even manipulative. And those are the kinds of attributes that tank careers, she says.

As children, boys are socialized not to cry and so don't have to even think about it as adults. But for girls, they are socialized to cry and so find that crying at work later in life isn't something they can control, she says.

On the other hand, men in power often yell when under stress -- something that can even give them stature. However, such behavior is not seen as OK for women. Such differences between accepted behavior for men and women will take "generations and generations" to change, she says.

In the meantime, I'd advise any woman to think about the triggers listed above, and work to overcome them. Enlisting an ally to diffuse tense office meetings, being better at having discussions about performance and finding ways to have a more balanced life can give women more control over their tears. And, hopefully, never use them to manipulate anyone in the workplace.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why You Keep Getting Overlooked at Work

Take a minute and look at what you're wearing right now. Are they the same clothes you wore in college? Or similar enough that you could have worn them in college?

Now, take a look at your work area. Do you still have the beer mug you won in a chugging contest sitting on your desk -- along with your calendar of "Hottest Fire Fighters Ever?"

The reason I ask is because people often wonder why they're not getting ahead at work. They work hard, but don't seem to get chosen for the key projects. Or, they feel like the boss overlooks them when it comes time for promotions or new opportunities.

Sometimes, I think the reason is because these people are giving off the wrong signals. If you dress, act and look like you're still 21, then that's how others will see you. A kid. A lightweight. A novice. Someone who still has lots to learn and needs to still be reminded not to run with scissors.

You've probably heard the advice to dress for the job you want. But I think you also have to step up your game in other areas. Here are some ways you may be telling others you're still not ready for bigger opportunities:

1. You play beat the clock. You're watching the minutes tick by, texting your friends to confirm where everyone is meeting for happy hour. As soon as it's time, you nearly run to the door, backpack banging against your back in your haste. Your boss watches you go, wondering if you completed your work for the day, or plan to try and tackle it at home -- after happy hour. Perhaps this is why your manager doesn't consider you for projects that will require some self-direction and a more disciplined work approach.
2. You weasel out of meetings. No one likes meetings. No. One. While I don't think anyone needs to be in unnecessary meetings, I do think that some people are so intent on avoiding them that they miss real opportunities. You need to make the commitment to be involved in meetings where key decision-makers are attending. You need to make sure that when the top performers are pitching ideas, you're in those meetings to offer support or additional ideas. You need to be in the meetings where money is being discussed -- how to make it, save it or find new resources. These are the kinds of meetings that show your commitment to your boss, your company and your colleagues -- critical components if you want to get ahead.
3. You don't make hard decisions. We all knew those people in high school who waved off any discussions that might force them to make a decision. "Whatever you guys decide is fine with me," was a common response. "I'm easy." That doesn't work when you're a grown-up with a job. You're forced to make tough decisions every day, and failure to do so it the kind of behavior that hurts your career. The more you educate yourself about your company and your industry, the better prepared you will be to make decisions in your job that will let you be seen as a thoughtful professional.

Monday, January 22, 2018

3 Ways to Set Meaningful Career Goals

A recent survey by Accountemps finds that 93% of workers say that goal setting is important to their on-the-job performance.

Makes sense.

But here's the part that doesn't make sense: While 51% say they talk to their managers about their goals -- 11% never even bring up the subject.

I'm pretty sure that most managers are not mind readers (despite the fact they seem to know when to call a meeting at the exact minute you're trying to leave work early). So, how exactly is a manager supposed to help you meet your goals if you don't talk about it, or even broach the subject?

Maybe you feel your boss isn't interested in your goals, or that it's her job to bring is up. (Uh, no.) There really is no excuse for not having this discussion with your boss, and there is no one to blame but yourself if you constantly get passed over for promotions or don't get to work on great projects. 

It's time to get past whatever is preventing you from talking about what you want out of your career. Here are some ways suggested by Accountemps, with some additions from me:

1. Write them down. Don't attempt to talk to your boss about your goals if you're not clear about them. You can start more generally: "I'd like to get more interesting assignments," but try to drill down and come up with more concrete ideas: "I'd like to get more interesting assignments, and that means I'm going to need more training on the new software or would like transition from doing X to doing Y."

2. Set a deadline. Many career goals have been undermined by the daily grind of a "to do" list or the demands of a current project. You'll easily come up with excuses and not talk to the boss if you don't give yourself a deadline. In addition, it may take a couple of weeks for the boss to clear her calendar to have a meaningful, one-on-one conversation with you, so set deadlines and stick to them.

3. Dream big. If you're going to take the time to think about your career goals, don't limit yourself to the next six months or a year. Think about your dream job, and then work backwards. What would it take to get you there? You may not have all the answers, so look at those in your dream jobs (check our LinkedIn), and see how they moved into that position. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Don't Reveal Too Many Personal Details in Interview

I'm battling a virus today and am going to take my own advice and go back to bed instead of trying to work. With that in mind, here's a column I wrote earlier and feel like it's worth repeating....

I've heard many horror stories over the years about job interviews gone wrong.

Many times the mistakes are made by interviewees because they didn't prepare. It wasn't a matter of what they didn't say -- but rather what they did say. It was often a case of TMI.

Interviews can be emotional -- you're often excited and nervous -- and that can lead to things slipping out of your mouth that you later will regret.

For example, I've heard about interviewees who said things like:

  • "My boss says I'm about a subtle as a freight train."
  •  "I like just wandering around at work and shooting the breeze -- I find it's a great way to get to know people."
  • "My No. 1 interest is fantasy football. I'm addicted."
  • "I don't get along with my family. In fact, the less I have to do with them, the better."
  • "I'm somebody who needs a lot of stroking -- criticism really depresses me."
While you may think such people are clueless, it's not unusual for even really bright people to reveal too many personal details in an interview -- or phrase something so badly they look like idiots. This can often happen at the end of an interview because you feel such a sense of relief that the "formal" interview is over that you relax and don't watch your words as carefully.

That's why it's so important to understand that you need to set boundaries for yourself before an interview. The hiring manager's job is to make you so comfortable that you let your guard down and reveal things about yourself that you might not otherwise.

Before an interview, remind yourself that you should not talk about intimate details of your personal life, disagreements with colleagues or bosses or any insecurities. Think about how you can best answer questions regarding your work style so that it comes across as professional -- not needy, immature or silly.

It's great when you have a nice rapport with an interviewer, but just remember that it can have a downside if you start revealing unflattering information to your new BFF. Draw your boundaries beforehand and stick to them.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Why Your Boss is Afraid of New Technology -- and What to Do About It

You know you may have an issue persuading senior leadership to embrace new technology when half of them still use a flip phone and the other half still have their assistants print out emails.
It’s not unusual to have some leaders be wary of new technology, but their level of resistance may undermine your efforts to be more innovative – or your company’s ability to compete.
How do you convince senior leaders that new technology isn’t reserved for the latest Star Trek movie and that using it can deliver better results?
First, you need to understand that the resistance by these leaders may be grounded in insecurity. Vineet Nayar, the former CEO of HCL Technologies and chairman and CEO of Sampark Foundation, explains that it’s important to understand the source of his or her insecurity.
“Make sure you aren’t feeding your boss’s insecurity by acting too aggressively,” he says. “If you approach him or her collaboratively, you might just get better results.”
Your direct supervisor may be able to help you get a meeting with a senior leader, giving you a chance to provide an easy explanation of what the technology can do. While the senior boss may not (read more here)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Here's How to Kill Negativity at Work

While looking at the social media comments as 2017 came to a close, I was struck by how many people were glad to see the end of the year. They lamented the negativity, the divisiveness and the general unhappiness that seemed to infect the country.
That negativity also has shown up in the workplace. Many people feel like they need to slap on headphones and stay huddled around their computer all day to avoid unpleasant discussions over world issues.
But I think when that happens you just become sadder and even more isolated. That's why I think it's important to be more proactive and have a strategy in place to deal with negativity at work. 
  • Look for positive people. Just as some people seem to wallow in their misery, there are others who seem to always have a positive, upbeat attitude. When you ask them how they are, they respond with "Great!" Make sure you interact in some way with these people as often as you can, especially if you've had a negative experience with the office Debbie Downer.
  • Listen to yourself. If you find yourself constantly complaining about politics or even the traffic, break free of that cycle by finding more positive things to talk about. Think about the positive interaction you had with a customer, or the funny joke your bus driver shared.
  • Handle social networking carefully. While chatting with friends online can be fun and make you feel better, the same cannot be said when you get into snarky interactions with strangers, Don't spend your time getting angry at people you don't even know, or feeling sad when people make hateful comments. Move on.
  • Help others. So many companies these days contribute to their communities by helping at food banks or organizing blood drives. Get involved or ask to organize an event to support a cause to help others. Putting positive energy into worthwhile activities can help reduce the impact of workplace negativity.

Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Get a New Boss to Like You

The new year is often a time when many people make changes, and that may include your boss. One day she's your boss -- you understand all her quirky habits and she understands yours -- and the next day she announces she's leaving for a new job.
That means a new boss is about to upend your world and you don't know what to expect. How will the new boss know that you've always worked hard to be a team player? Will she accept your snow globe collection or make you get rid of it? Is it possible that she'll ignore your abilities and favor your vile cubicle mate?
You can't predict what will happen with a new boss, but you do need to understand it's time to hit the reset button. She doesn't care what you did before. What matters to the new boss is what relationship you have with her and how you're going to contribute to her success and that of the team. 
Here are some do's and dont's when it comes to a new boss:
1. Don't show up in her office the first day listing your accomplishments for the last five years. It's much better to spend your initial conversations with her to talking about all the things you've learned in the last year. That way, what you've done still seems valuable and makes you look like someone who continues to grow in the position.
2. Do be pleasant. You don't have to gush all over the new boss, but also don't seem snippy or resentful of her presence. Be friendly and approachable. Make her feel like a valued new member of the team.
3. Do determine her work style. Ask her whether she'd rather receive texts, emails, phone calls or personal updates. Many new relationships get off on the wrong foot simply because of poor communication.
4. Do listen to what she says -- but also be observant. A new boss may say she wants to be informed weekly of your progress, but you can tell she gets stressed when she doesn't have an update more often. Be flexible and ready to deliver what seems to make the boss happiest.
5. Do get to know her, but don't be creepy. While it's important to spend time talking to your boss to get to know her, it's also a good idea to check out her LinkedIn profile or other professional information. Stay away from trying to get personal information about her online -- there's always the chance she will find out and that may not sit well with her.
6. Offer help. New bosses are trying to learn the ropes, just like any new employee. So, if you can show her a shortcut on a software program, do so. Or, you can offer some background on an important client. Remember: a boss's success is your success. If anyone is going to fail in this new relationship, it's likely that you will fail first.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Research Shows Why Your Smartphone is Hurting Your Career

If you want to be a better leader this year, put your phone down.

A new study from Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business finds that bosses who can't tear themselves away from their phone long enough to pay attention to their employees (called "phubbing"), erode trust.

Specifically, the study of 413 supervisors and employees finds:

  • 76% of those surveyed showed a lack of trust in a supervisor who phubbed them.
  • 75% showed decreases in psychological meaningfulness, psychological availability and psychological safety.
  • The lack of trust and decreases in those key areas led to a 5% decrease in employee engagement.
"Phubbing is a harmful behavior. It undermines any corporate culture based on respect for others. Thus, it is crucial that corporations create a culture embodied by care for one another," says James Roberts, a Baylor professor of marketing and author of a book on phone addiction.

Researchers say that in order to cut down on phubbing and improve a company culture, companies need to:

1. Make it OK not to respond immediately to texts or emails. When meeting with team members, bosses should give them undivided attention.

2. Let employees rate bosses. Team members need to be able to give their opinions on whether the boss is attentive when needed -- and have those ratings tied to the boss's performance evaluation.

3. Provide training. Giving up phubbing won't be easy, and bosses may need some training in better face-to-face communications and how to give up a smartphone addiction.

4. Put it in writing. Smartphone use rules need to be set clearly, as well as the consequences for violating them.

Monday, January 1, 2018

5 Resolutions That Could Change Your Career

A lot of people don't like resolutions for the new year because they think it will make them feel like a failure if they don't achieve every item on their list for 2018.

I've always liked resolutions. I like them so much, in fact, that I often make them in July. Or October.

I look at resolutions as my marching orders. I think about what I want to stop doing (driving so aggressively my family is afraid to get in the car with me) or what I want to start doing (being kinder, listening more, keeping houseplants alive).

Resolutions are important because they are promises to yourself. Only you have to know about them -- don't worry about sharing them on Facebook or revealing them at book club. Instead, think of them as a way to focus on what's important to you. If you don't achieve all (or any) of them, so what? You can try again later or decide that cleaning out every closet by the end of the month isn't a good use of your time.

Since I focus on careers and the workplace in this blog, I'm going to offer some ideas for career resolutions in 2018. If you don't want to start them until March, that's OK. If you only want to do a few of them, that's OK. Or, if you'd rather write your own list, that's fine. Just think about these career promises that are aimed at making you more successful -- and hopefully, much happier.

Some resolutions to consider:

1. You will stop being toxic. You will quit whining about everything you don't like about your boss, your job and your team members. If you're miserable, get your resume together or ask to train in another department. Stop shoveling your toxic thoughts onto other people -- if you're unhappy in your career, then it's your job to fix it.

2. Pick your head up. I was talking to a physical therapist the other day, and he says he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients with chronic neck and shoulder pain that results from hunching over cell phones and computers. Try putting down your phone and getting out from behind your computer to speak face-to-face to another human being. When you've got your head up, you're much more likely to see the possibilities in front of you.

3. Invest in yourself. Many employees these days say they want more career development opportunities from their employers. While some employers do offer such chances, not all of them do -- or follow through when they say they will. Don't wait on someone else to make you smarter, more valuable, more engaged or more creative. Look into local opportunities to attend business classes -- or even take an art class. Check out online learning or attend a coding bootcamp.

4. Make diverse connections. If you're in marketing, you probably have a ton of marketing LinkedIn connections. But do you have a connection from marine biology? Or public policy? The point is to try and expand your horizons, because only then will you have a wider view that will broaden your opportunities and chances for success.

5. Give thanks more often. Sometimes we get so focused on what we want to achieve or what we don't have that we forget to simply be still and give thanks for what we do have. When you approach your resolutions with an attitude of gratefulness, you will find that your list is a gift to yourself, not a burden.