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.