Monday, August 3, 2020

How the Pandemic Can Help Your Grow in Your Career

During these months of quarantining, working from home, juggling new schedules and home situations and just trying to remember what day it is, it can be tough to think about anything good that can come from this pandemic.

I'm not going to try and sugarcoat that "every cloud has its silver lining," blah, blah, blah. I don't want to offer empty platitudes that might make you feel worse. Still, I have been thinking a lot about how this pandemic is changing the world of work, and what it might look like when we come out the other side.

One of the issues I have written about often is the need to develop emotional intelligence. Before the pandemic hit, and there was great competition for workers, companies were looking for those who didn't just have the right hard skills, but also the skills that ensured they could get along with others, could communicate effectively and could collaborate. These are often referred to as soft skills, and they have been growing in importance in the workplace.

That's because even if someone has great technical skills, for example, an inability to talk to someone else, to be empathetic or be a team player can have a real adverse impact on that team's effectiveness or even on a company's drive to be more innovative.

I think that the pandemic offers all of us a chance to really hone our soft skills. We have all been impacted in some way -- it's been difficult to watch the suffering on the nightly news, or read about a family losing a home because they can't pay their bills. But the emotions we feel as we go through this pandemic -- loss, grief, compassion, stress and depression -- can ultimately help us be better colleagues and bosses in the future.

Here are some ways to deal with the changes and grow emotionally for the future:
  • Pass out compliments. Years ago, I heard this advice from a manager and I never forgot it: Put 10 dimes in your left pocket every morning. Every time you give someone a compliment at work, shift a coin to your right pocket. By the end of the day, try to have shifted all 10 coins. Even if you're physically not in a workplace right now, try the dime trick from your home office. You can send a compliment via text or Slack or Google Hangouts. You can compliment a colleague on an online presentation via email, or even pick up the phone. Compliments don't have to be long-winded, just an acknowledgement from you to another person: "I saw that you handled that difficult customer first thing this morning. Well done! Not everyone would have wanted to tackle that."
  • Be respectful. Everyone is under a lot of pressure right now, and there's no shortage of online videos showing people being less than kind. That's exactly why it's so important that you take the time to be respectful of your colleagues or your staff. Don't send late night emails if it's not absolutely necessary, and the same goes for weekends. Always say "please" and "thank you." Don't be late to meetings (and apologize if you are) and don't monopolize someone's time with your complaints or gossip.
  • Be adaptable. I know there's not one person out there who has not had to adapt in some way during this pandemic. Still, you may resent some of the things you've had to do, so think of it this way: adaptability is one of the key soft skills that you can develop in the workplace. Your ability to adapt is seen as being cooperative, a team player, collaborative and in tune with others. Continue to try and adapt -- it will get easier as you do it more often, and will have a greater payoff to your career down the road.

Monday, July 27, 2020

3 Ways to Ensure Online Meetings Don't Suck

Before I begin today's post, let me apologize for the blog being unavailable for the last several days. Due to a technical glitch (which I don't understand, nor do I want to understand), my website wasn't available. Things are all better now, so let's begin....

Once the initial shock wore off and we all realized our work lives were going to be upended from the pandemic, some of you began to look at what is usually termed "the bright side."

"I can work in my pajamas."
"I don't have to smell stinky reheated food in the office microwave."
"I don't have to attend meetings."

This last one, of course, didn't last long. As soon as the boss figured out how to use Zoom, meetings became even more of a big deal. They lasted hours. They included business and non-business items, such as how to make pizza out of dried beans and macaroni.

Now that we've settled into the routine of working remotely, or working with only some of the staff some of the time, it's time to rein back in those unruly meetings and establish some kind of order. Some things to think about:

1. Have an agenda. Just like in the old days when you met in person, meetings need an agenda -- and the meeting planner needs to stick to it. 

2. Stick to a time limit. Without a time limit, meetings will expand. And expand. And expand. Try scheduling them for no longer than 50 minutes. That's a tip I got from a management guru -- he told me that by having a meeting from, say, 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m., it gives everyone time to take a potty break, check messages and be ready for an 11 a.m. appointment.

3. Be inclusive -- and exclusive. Zoom meetings mean that you need to get dressed and look decent, find something to keep your toddler busy and try and get your dog not to bark every time you shift in your chair. In other words, it can be a bit of a hassle. So, meeting planners need to think long and hard about who needs to be included in a Zoom meeting -- and perhaps even seek input from employees: "I'm having a meeting on XYZ. Are you OK with not being included, or is this something you want to sit in on?" At the same time, make sure you include everyone if the meeting is something like a morale booster or brainstorming session.


Monday, July 20, 2020

How to Connect More Easily With Anyone

Even before the pandemic, getting to know someone was difficult. Whether it was a new co-worker, a client or even a boss, finding the right mix of friendly small talk without crossing professional boundaries was a sometimes difficult balancing act.

But now, we have masks that cover our faces during face-to-face conversations, or contend with bad phone connections or video conferencing that can make small talk even more challenging.

Many years ago social psychology researcher Arthur Anon came up with a list of questions that are found to deepen connections. His research shows these queries only take about 45 minutes to discuss, but make participants feel better about the other participants.

Here's a sampling:

1. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

2. What would constitute a perfect day for you?

3. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?

4. What is your most treasured memory?

5. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

There are more questions listed here, and some may not be appropriate for professional situations. Still, it's interesting to think about your responses to these questions, and how they can help you interact more easily with others on the job. At a time when we're trying to connect more honestly with others, this may be a great place to start.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Bad Zoom Habits to Break Now

When we first started using Zoom meetings, it was a learning curve for many. It was often funny -- the cat who constantly walked in front of a co-worker's computer screen or the pants-less spouse who ran by in the background.

But Zoom has become a daily fact of life for most of us, and a lot of these "funny" or "odd" or "embarrassing" incidents have lost their charm. Colleagues no longer want to look at your cat or hear your kid's TV program blaring in the background. They don't want to see you looking like you were dragged through a hedge backwards.

It's time to accept that Zoom meetings are here to stay, and it's time to conduct yourself just as you would in any professional situation. Here are some things to think about:

1. Prepare yourself. Don't show up to a Zoom meeting after just working out or just waking up. Would you walk into a conference room dressed in ratty sweat pants or with your hair sticking up in five different directions? You've had plenty of time to adjust to working at home and starting to dress like a grown-up. Doing otherwise signals to your boss and your colleagues that you're not taking them or your job seriously. (And don't think you can get by with using an avatar -- everyone is expected to show their actual face by now.)

2. Improve your environment. It's been interesting to see pieces of various homes while on Zoom. But it's no longer interesting to see your dirty dishes, your unmade bed or your dying plant. Many people associate a messy desk with a disorganized person, so don't send that message from your home. You may have a limited space to work, but take the time to convey your professional approach to your job -- or others may think you're just waiting to crawl back into that unmade bed as soon as the call is over.

3. Use your manners. Showing up late, slouching in your seat, messing with your phone and not being prepared for the issues to be discussed are all bad form during a meeting, and that includes those conducted via Zoom. Make sure you're speaking clearly, smiling when appropriate and sending a 'I'm-here-and-I'm-ready" visual vibe to others. Anything less than that is rude and unprofessional.

While many of us are working from home, our face-to-face contact with colleagues and bosses is limited. If you're not making the best impression possible during Zoom calls, you're seriously undermining your career because that visual interaction will provide a lasting -- and unimpressive -- memory for others.

Monday, July 6, 2020

How You're Showing Intolerance at Work

The ongoing protests and calls for greater equality in our country are prompting many changes, from renaming buildings to large donations to diversity organizations.

For many, however, these changes won't directly impact them. Whether they're working from home or going back to work, they may not really think about diversity other than to be supportive of various causes or to voice their concern.

Yet, diversity does affect all of us. Every day. Whether we can admit it to ourselves or not, we all show prejudice in various ways at work. This doesn't mean we are openly hostile to someone of color or nationality, but it still exists.

These prejudices also don't mean we're all bad people. We just need to become better informed and more aware of our own actions. Things we do or say (or don't say) can lead to real harm, whether it's damaging someone's reputation, ensuring the person doesn't get ahead or even leading to that person losing a job.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Your network. Check out your online connections, whether it's Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn. How diverse is it? Do you have connections -- people you regularly connect to -- who are from different cultures, races, genders, etc.? Do you have conversations about topics outside of work-related matters? Do you listen? Do you learn? Do you interact with people who disagree with you?
  • Your effort. In your workplace, are there people with names that you find difficult to pronounce? Is that the reason that you've come up with a nickname or otherwise shortened the name to make it easier for you? No one should be forced to change his or her name for such a reason -- it shows a real lack of respect and professional courtesy. You may need to ask the person to help you with the pronunciation, but that's OK. Start making an effort to be more open and receptive to others who aren't like you.
  • Your assumptions. More than once, I've met someone in person who says: "Oh, you sounded blonde on the phone." What does that even mean? How do you sound blonde? Or, I've been treated derisively by someone because of the slight twang of my voice. We often make assumptions because it helps us quickly categorize people and decide what we will do in reaction to that person. So, a shorter-than-average man must have a "Napoleon" complex, a blonde girl who dresses preppy must be a sorority airhead and a Black woman who went to Harvard must have been an affirmative action student. Think hard about how many times you do this, and even ask family and friends to make you aware when they hear you making assumptions about colleagues.

We can all do better and there's no time to waste. Start today thinking about the way you interact with others at work and how you can really start to make a difference in your own actions and attitudes.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Why You Need to Be Worried About Your Job Now -- and What to Do About It

If you're still employed, congratulations.

But, worried.

It's a sad but true reality that even if you're employed right now, things are clearly not going to go back to normal anytime soon. A new study says that 30% to 43% of U.S. employees will not go back to their pre-pandemic jobs. For every 4.2 new hires made, there will be 10 job losses, meaning that millions of people are going to unemployed.

Clearly, there are hard-hit industries right now such as those in hospitality that are showing huge job cuts. But think of the ripple effect these jobs losses have had -- farmers who can't sell their produce or milk because restaurants have cut back so drastically.

That's what you need to consider when you think about the safety of your job. If you work for a company that has a lot of government contracts, you could be threatened as the U.S. government begins to slash contracts with private companies. Or, if you work for a business that provides service or parts for water theme parks or even Disney World -- then you're going to be in real trouble as those venues remain closed or severely restricted.

Even white collar jobs are in trouble. Think of the entertainment law firms that no longer have entertainment business to handle because television and movie projects have been postponed. What about the accountants who handle the business for resorts? Those vacation destinations have been hit hard -- how many accountants will lose their jobs because there isn't enough business?

While your job may end up being safe, you should never be lulled into being complacent right now. Here are some things you need to do to improve your chances that you'll land on your feet should you become jobless:

  • Diversify your network. Look over your contacts on LinkedIn and other social media channels. If you're in advertising and all your contacts are in advertising or public relations or marketing, you're going to be in trouble should the industry take a big hit. Start looking for those in other sectors -- healthcare, tech, engineering, etc. You may need to make a real pivot to another industry -- do you even know anyone in another industry?
  • Grow your skills. Try to branch out. Think about taking a coding bootcamp, project management courses or other tutorials. Check out some options here.
  • Get to know your company better. A lot of employees don't really know much beyond the basics when it comes to the company's business. But if you're dependent on a paycheck from a business, then you need to know if that business is vulnerable. Do some online sleuthing, read industry publications and even try to get your boss to open up a bit about where he or she sees the company going. Paying attention may give you a heads up that your job may not be as safe as you thought.

Monday, June 22, 2020

How to Handle Going Back to Work After COVID-19

If you're still working from home, you need to start preparing to return to your workplace.

The thought may fill you with dread. Maybe you love working from home. Maybe you're scared of catching COVID-19 when you return to work. Maybe you're just getting used to your new routine and the thought of commuting and going back to your co-workers fills you with anxiety.

Just remember that you're not alone. We've all been experiencing a lot of stress, depression and anxiety since the world was turned upside down and we were required to quarantine at home.

"Uncertainty and unpredictability can really create an unhealthy amount of fear and stress, especially when it's sustained over such a long period of time," says Dr. K. Luan Phan, head of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

Still, when the boss says it's time to return to work, you know that you will probably return to work. So, how do you do it and still feel safe? How do you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to, once again, confront change?

Here's some things to think about:

1. Take your own precautions. Just because your boss says there will be hand sanitizer and social distancing doesn't mean you shouldn't take your own steps to feel safe. So, bring your own sanitizer. Wear a mask even if no one else does. Don't use the communal coffee pot, water fountain, beer keg, etc. Take the stairs instead of the elevator full of people. Some people are much more lax about social distancing and wearing a mask, but you don't have to be. Do what makes you feel safe.

2. Start the transition. So you've been wearing sweatpants and college sweatshirts since you started working at home. But now it's time to get out your adult clothes and figure out if they still fit. (No judgments!) Try on several outfits and think about how you feel in them -- if nothing works it's time to try a little online shopping to get yourself ready.

3. Get organized. It may have taken you a while to set up your home working space, but it's time to start thinking about what you need to go back to work. Start organizing the files, computer cables, workbooks, etc. that you're going to need to take back to the job.

4. Prepare your household. Whether it's kids or pets or partners, consider what will also make the transition easier on them. Do you need to set up a schedule that will mimic the one that you'll have once you're working away from home? Do you need to find new treats or toys for your pets to keep them occupied when you're not taking them for five walks a day? Do you need to prepare more freezer meals for when you're not home to cook when you want?

5. Remember to breathe. When we all first went into lockdown, we had to learn to cope with the scariness of it all, the weirdness of our lives and the uncertainty of what was going to happen. Think about what calmed you then. Was it listening to music? Talking to family more? Doing yoga? You may need to rely on those things again as you transition to working away from home. Rely on what works for you and call on it in the coming weeks as you begin this new change.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Signs You Are Toxic to Others at Work

Lately, we've all started taking a much closer look at toxic behavior in the workplace. People like Anna Wintour and Roger Lynch at  Conde Nast are among those high-powered bosses who are being cited as intolerant and cruel.

Employees and even co-workers are no longer afraid to talk about poor behavior that has affected them personally and professionally. Stories of bullying and discrimination seem to surprise those who are accused of it, which shows how oblivious some people are to their damaging "get ahead" tactics.

Could you be one of them? Could you be someone who is treating people badly and not even know it? Before you end up losing your career over your behavior, it's time to take a hard look at whether you're a toxic person. Some signs:

1. You blame other people. Whether it's a typo in a report, missing a deadline, not being prepared for a meeting, not sealing a deal -- you blame other people. From the minor to the major, you cannot ever take responsibility that you're an adult and are responsible for your own actions and decisions.

2. You have no loyalty. It doesn't matter if you've worked with someone for three days or 30 years, you are willing to throw anyone under the bus for any reason. It can range from snarky comments to others about mundane matters ("Did you see what Jane was wearing? Did she get dressed in the dark this morning?") to more targeted gossip meant to derail someone's career ("I think Brad's age is catching up with him. I mean, this is the third time this week I've had to remind him about that deadline. Poor guy.")

3. You believe it's better to take than to give. Maybe you put on a good front during the latest crisis situations in this country and posted really meaningful tweets about "We're all in this together" and photos of "Love one Another"  cupcakes on Instagram, but that's just on the surface. You don't inconvenience yourself for anyone else or always have an excuse of why you can't help in some way: "This is just such a bad time for me! You know I'd love to help, but...."

4. You never apologize. You've always got a million excuses, but never one "I'm sorry....that was my fault." If you do apologize, it's only when you realize you're on Good Morning America and the entire nation has dubbed you to be the latest Karen.

5. You hold a grudge. At night, you lay awake figuring out how to get back at Gary for not holding a seat for you in the meeting or Kelly for not gushing about your latest idea. You don't know if anything was done on purpose to slight you, of course, but that doesn't really matter. Plotting against others and thinking of really cutting remarks or actions against that person are more important than moving on and learning to forgive others.

Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? Are you brave enough to ask others if they see these behaviors in you? If this has become the way you live your life, then you need to make some serious changes. The workplace is different now, just like the rest of the world. No matter how important you may consider yourself, or how "vital" you may be to your company, you can no longer expect others to put up with your toxicity.

Monday, June 8, 2020

5 Tips for Starting a New Job Remotely

Many companies have been great about keeping their job commitments to new hires or even interns in the midst of a global pandemic.

The problem is that many new employees are starting their new positions from their kitchen table instead of the building where the employer resides because companies are still following work-from-home policies.

That presents quite a challenge for the employer -- to successfully onboard a new hire virtually -- and also to the new worker or intern.

If you're one of those who is starting a new job from the comfort of your couch, here's some ways to ensure you still get off on the right foot in a new job:

1. Dress the part. If your new supervisor wants to jump on Zoom for a quick chat, you don't want to be caught in your pajamas or gym shorts with uncombed hair and your home looking like a disaster zone. It's a good idea to start a new job showing your boss that it really matters to you, no matter if you're working virtually. Dress professionally, and set up a workspace that reflects well on you.

2. Ask questions. Whether you're in an office setting or working from home in the early days of a new job, make sure you fully understand how the boss likes to communicate (email, text, Zoom) and how often he or she expects you to check in. Are you supposed to communicate what you get accomplished each day? Or only once a week? If you have problems (technical, employee benefit issues, project management) who do you ask for help?

3. Don't hide. Even the most outgoing people can be nervous when starting a new position, but don't let that be an excuse to hide from colleagues or supervisors. Try to set up Zoom meetings with each colleague -- "Can we chat for 10 minutes via Zoom so that you can tell me a bit about what you do?" is a great ice-breaker in an e-mail. The added advantage of quarantined workers is that many are wanting to connect with another human face and chatting with a new worker through video chat is a great way to get off on the right foot with them.

4. Be helpful. If you know of an app or read an article that might be helpful to a co-worker who is dealing with an issue, forward him or her the information in an email: "I remember from the Zoom meeting that you were researching more efficient delivery methods for that new product, and I just read this article and thought it might be helpful," and then provide the link.

5. Be flexible. Even though many companies have had employees working from home for months, this is still a learning process. They're often making it up as they go, and things may change from day-to-day. You need to stay flexible and know that whatever you do one week may look different the next week. As companies start to phase workers back in to the office, it will probably change several more times. When you show others that you're flexible, can adapt and still be contributing, then you'll be seen as a valuable team member -- no matter if it's at your kitchen table or in the office.

Monday, June 1, 2020

No Job is Safe These Days -- the Warning Signs You Need to Heed

With more than 36.4 million who have filed jobless claims as of May 9, as a result of the coronavirus, even those still employed might be a bit concerned about their job security. How do you know if your job might be in danger?
Tim Sackett, president at HRU Technical Resources, says that there are some signs you’re about to be laid off:
  • Unusual behavior. There are closed-door meetings when there usually aren’t. You’re being asked for information that you usually don’t supply, such as updated standard operating procedures, and the latest performance metrics for your group or position.
  • Weird vibes. There is "radio silence" from leaders who are normally talkative. Quiet leaders are now over-communicating.  
In addition to unusual behavior by leaders in your workplace, you should also be aware of news in your industry and whether experts believe it could be in danger. For example, realtors (read more here)

Monday, May 25, 2020

How to Stand Out from the Crowd and Get Hired

With more than 36.4 million people filing jobless claims as of May 9 as a result of COVID-19, competition for jobs is fierce. But, there are still plenty of opportunities available. Many industries, like grocery stores and delivery services, have thousands of job openings in the United States right now, and are hiring urgently. The task for job seekers applying for these positions is to find ways to stand out from the crowd to land one of these jobs.
"When there are mass hirings, it’s important that you know what the company — or interviewer — needs," says Juliet Huck, an expert in persuasive communications strategy. "You need to talk about what you can do for them."
So, while you need to be able to discuss your experience and qualifications for the position, the ability to show your interest in the interviewer’s needs by asking some questions puts you at an advantage over other candidates, she says.
"You can say something like: 'I really want to help you. What (read more here)

Monday, May 18, 2020

How to Use Job Boards to Get a Job

It can be frustrating to use the big job boards such as Monster, Indeed or LinkedIn if you feel like your resume is being dumped into a black hole, never to be seen by a human recruiter. But there are ways to boost your chances of reaching the attention of hiring managers on such job sites, according to the experts.
Kanika Tolver, a professional coach, says that job seekers applying to the big job boards after being laid off because of the coronavirus will have greater success if they are more strategic. For example, just hitting "apply" to an online job opening will send your resume to a hiring manager or recruiter, in the same pool as thousands of other job seekers. But, if you can find the role on the company’s job board, you can create a profile and apply that way, which could help you stand out, she says.
Job seekers also can improve their chances of finding a job if they create a list of five to 10 job titles or roles that they are qualified for based on their skill set. This allows them to cast a wider net.
For example, if you’ve been searching (read more here)

Monday, May 11, 2020

Why Everyone Should Be Looking for Their Next Job Now

As job losses mount in the U.S. because of the coronavirus pandemic, job seekers — both passive and active — need to be smart about their next move and have strategies in place to avoid facing more job losses down the road if they choose an industry that could also be in trouble, an expert says
For the more than 30 million unemployed U.S. workers, there is no doubt that some must be looking for work. But even passive job seekers need to keep their options open by being aware of what the job market has to offer. The key for both groups is being smart about their job-search strategies, and searching for jobs in industries that will be viable in the foreseeable future.
Arran Stewart, co-founder and CVO of blockchain recruitment company, says that while hospitality, leisure and retail are currently being hit with the largest layoffs, other industries will be susceptible (read more here)

Monday, May 4, 2020

Is Remote Work Good for Your Career?

Since people began working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, much has been written about how this is a trend here to stay -- more of us will now work from home and our companies will love it because workers will be more productive and it will save on commercial real estate costs.

Hold on.

I've been covering such stories for a long (long) time, since technology made it possible for someone to stay connected to the office via a phone and PC.

Here's how it unfolds:

  1. The company uses telecommuting or remote work as a way to attract and retain workers. It's a great perk, they say.
  2. Workers are thrilled. They won't spend their lives commuting and can be more productive. It's a great perk, they say.
  3. Bosses start to wonder about whether the remote workers are really working as hard as they would in an office. They're not sure the employee is contributing as much beyond just the standard duties every day. Where's the give and take with others that can lead to new ideas?
  4. Remote employees start to feel unappreciated. They feel like they're being left out of important conversations that take place spontaneously among colleagues and bosses.
  5. Bosses decide that it's more difficult for the remote workers to spearhead important projects. They'd rather give that job to someone who is in the office more. Makes sense, they say.
  6. Remote workers start to resent that no matter how hard they work, they don't seem to get the great assignments or promotions. They feel like they're not getting ahead. Is their future with this company dead?

I'm not saying this happens in all cases. I've interviewed many bosses and employees who love the remote work concept -- but they work very, very, very hard at it.

The remote workers say they have to always be ready to show their worth. They have to offer something extra when it's time to meet virtually, and must always work harder to bond with colleagues and bosses.

The bosses say that remote workers take a different kind of managing. They must find ways to communicate with them so that they stay engaged and feel connected to the rest of a team.

Working from home has been the norm for several weeks and may continue for quite some time. While the technology is there to let it happen, that doesn't mean it's the only thing necessary to ensure this is good for the employee and the company. That's going to take much more than technology -- that's going to take some very hard work.

What do you think? Is remote work for more people here to stay?

Monday, April 27, 2020

All Job Seekers Should Know the STAR Method

Have you ever heard of STAR?

Not the kind in the sky, or the guy who played drums for the Beatles (that's Starr, by the way -- Ringo Starr).

STAR is an acronym for situation, task, action, result.

It's something that everyone should master, especially if they are interviewing for a job.

The reason it's so valuable to job candidates is that it helps you answer interview questions in a concise, memorable and meaningful way. It's especially effective in competency-focused questions, such as when you're asked a question that starts with "Tell me about a time when...." or "Can you give an example of a situation where..."

So, here's how it could work in a job interview when the hiring manager asks you  to: "Describe a time when you were able to manage yourself without immediate supervision."

1. Situation. "I was working in the front office of a plumbing supply company when my supervisor was called away on a family emergency. My other colleague was not there that day as she had called in sick."

2. Task. "Calls began coming in from customers while some employees were also coming in looking for different information regarding delivery assignments or inventory questions."

3. Action. "The company always focused on customers first. So, I asked one of the more experienced delivery drivers to help prioritize the inventory that needed to be delivered right away. That allowed me to deal with customers and solve immediate problems and tell the others I would call them back that day. Once all the immediate calls had been resolved, I was able to prioritize all the other issues and deal with them as efficiently as I could. I explained to everyone what was going on, and found customers and staff to be understanding."

4. Result. "By prioritizing work and enlisting help when I could, I was able to keep the schedule on track, keep customers happy and prevent any bottlenecks in the work."

While this is a good strategy in an interview, it's also a great way to share your progress with a boss during a performance evaluation. Practice it a few times to feel comfortable with the process, and make sure that when you feel you've done well at work, you store that situation in your memory so you can relate it later using the STAR method.

Monday, April 20, 2020

How Your Failure Can Benefit You and the World Right Now

One of the wonderful things that's happening right now is this "we're all in this together" mentality.

But even now, when you fail, you're going to feel very, very alone.

No one is going to send you little heart emojis when you fail at work, whether it's being written up for some infraction or even being fired. Nope. When you fail it's often a very lonely thing and there may be very little "I'm in this with you" attitude from your colleagues.

Right now, a lot of people are failing. They're unproductive and the boss has noticed. They're losing their focus or mojo or whatever and just can't seem to get the job done right. Maybe they're entrepreneurs and they're watching their life's dream go right down the economic tubes.

It's tough to fail right now on top of everything else. Some may offer little sympathy when it seems so trivial in this life-and-death situation.

Still, it hurts to fail, no matter when it happens. But I've interviewed enough people over the years -- experts and everyday worker bees -- to tell you that failure can have benefits. If you need some reassurance right now that failing is OK, then I'm here to give it to you.

Here's how you can benefit from failure:
  • You will learn something. If you keep doing the same thing all the time and are successful at it, you're not going to change. You're not going to grow. Let's face it: If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it's that we need to be able to adapt, to flex and to grow. When you fail, you're learning how to pivot and how to change course when life throws your a curve, and that's always valuable. 
  • You will become a better person. When life knocked you around in high school, you learned a lot about who your real friends were, who you were as a person and what was important to you in the long run. That same lesson is learned in adulthood. When you get knocked around in your career, you learn who supports you in your network, what you really want to do and the parts of your career that really matter to you. That will make you a better person, a better employee, a better colleague and a better leader.
  • You will be more creative. I think it's fascinating to watch the way people have adapted to failures during this pandemic. New York fashion designers make face masks because of a failure to supply healthcare workers with necessary equipment. Teachers figure out ways to teach their students when the online systems go haywire. When you fail, your brain will start thinking about things like: "How could I do that differently next time?" "What can I do to salvage the situation?" Those are all good things. A creative brain is always an asset in any career.
I think failure can be tough at any time, but during a pandemic it can be even harder because you may already be feeling a lot of anxiety and stress.

Just remember that failure in your career is a great way to prepare yourself for the future and know that you're building your resiliency, creativity and character. 

That's something that will benefit you and the world.

Monday, April 13, 2020

3 Ways You Can Make a Difference During the Pandemic

Right now, everyone has to step up.

That's my mantra -- I've got to step up. Whether it's in my community, in my own family or in my job, I've got to do more. I can't be sitting by, working puzzles, watching "Tiger King" and and thinking someone else will do what needs to be done.

I don't think this has to be huge. Maybe you check on a neighbor regularly and re-learn algebra so you can help your kid with math assignments. But it also means that we're all leaders now -- and that especially includes on the job.

For example, there are a lot of books and articles about how to manage during a crisis and how to be a better leader. But you know what? We all need to be leaders now. No one gets to stand by and wait on those "who get paid to do it."

Here's what I'm suggesting, based on some research from crisis leadership experts:

1. Check in. Just as you say "Are you OK?" to your friends and family members during this time, make sure you're checking in with colleagues -- and even your boss. Just asking "How are things going?" can make a huge difference when a colleague is struggling to get work done from home or figure out how to solve a work problem. Ask questions and then listen. It could be that a co-worker or your manager just need a sounding board to work through an issue. Remember: These are things you might have done without thinking in an office setting, but isn't being done as we all stay home. This can also be an advantage for you, as we all search for a way to do something to help someone else. Just being a friendly ear can reduce a lot of anxiety for someone else and help you feel better, too.

2. Be straightforward. Have you ever tried to work with three kids underfoot or after being alone in your home for more than two weeks with no one to talk to? It's tough. It can be depressing and stressful. Now is the time to make sure you're not adding to those issues by not communicating clearly. Before you fire off that email or IM, make sure you're expressing yourself concisely and clearly. If you exchange more than a couple of messages about an issue, jump on the phone with the other person. Not only will this reduce stressful, confusing messages, but it can be good for your emotional state to connect with another voice.

3. Look to the future. Eventually, this pandemic will pass. Don't stay in panic mode by only thinking about how you're going to get through the day or week. If there's a project you've been thinking about, something that will be sort of fun or exciting, then it's OK to think about it and even start planning for it. Your colleagues may appreciate talking about something that isn't geared completely around COVID-19.

As I said earlier, I think we all have to step up. We may not be fighting the disease in a hospital alongside our brave healthcare workers, but we can make a difference in how we deal with one another in the workplace. That can go a long way to helping us all heal.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Job Seekers: Make Sure You Understand an ATS Before Applying for Any Job

If you've never heard of an applicant tracking system, you need to become very familiar with it if you're one of the millions of Americans who is looking for another job after losing yours in the pandemic.

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is used by nearly 40 percent of employers to screen candidates for job openings. This technology is designed to help employers eliminate those who are unqualified for certain positions.

This sounds reasonable, until you understand that these ATS systems can also eliminate people who are qualified simply because they don't use the right "keywords." These keywords are often skills or talents that the employer is looking for: "teamwork," "multi-tasker" or "excellent communicator."

To further complicate matters, your resume might state that you are a "team player," but you get eliminated because you didn't say "teamwork," which is what the software is seeking. While some of the newer software is designed to look for variations of "teamwork," others are not -- and you have no way of knowing if an employer has newer software.

It's been estimated that 75 percent of resumes are never seen by an actual human and are simply stewing in a company database somewhere.

While this situation may sound daunting, there are ways you can improve your chances that an ATS will let your resume through and improve your chances of getting an interview and a job. Here's what you need to do:

  • Rely on the job description. It may be a pain, but you will improve your chances of being accepted by an ATS if you use the terms of the job description whenever possible. So, don't say you're a "good communicator" when the job wants you to be "great at communications." Also, use the style posted in the job description, whether it's using the % sign instead of "percent" or writing "4 yrs." instead of "four years."
  • Use the right format and font. The older ATS systems can be a bit wonky and may have trouble recognizing Serif fonts like Times New Roman. To be on the safe side, use something like Calibri that is sans serif. Also, don't try to put in fancy design elements, even when it comes to a bullet point. It should be round, period.
  • Read the instructions. So many job seekers get tripped up by the fine print. They send a PDF when a Word document is requested, and vice versa. I know that it's exhausting filling out online applications, but you must be careful to submit the application exactly as requested. You don't want to do all the work and then get tossed because you didn't file it correctly.

Finally, remember that if you get past an ATS, you resume could be seen by a human. Even though you're trying to use all the right keywords and the right format, you want to make sure your resume highlights all your accomplishments that make you such a great fit for the job.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Unemployed? Transferable Skills are the Answer

In the coming weeks and months you're going to hear a lot about "transferable skills."

Transferable skills are those abilities that you can use in a variety of jobs: communication, organization and teamwork. They may also include things like customer service, or familiarity with some software programs.

The reason these skills are going to become so important is that as millions of workers try to get back to work once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, they are going to need to apply for jobs. While some of these idle workers will get their old positions back, some may not. Those jobs may be gone for good, or so scarce that they're no longer a viable option.

That means that workers in hard-hit industries like hospitality will need to pivot in their job searches and figure out how their skills can be used in industries that are hiring.

Here's some things to think about as you begin job searching:

  • Look at robust industries. Companies like CVS, WalMart and Amazon are hiring thousands of workers, from management to entry-level. If you were a hotel housekeeper, for example, you have skills such as time-management, self-direction, teamwork, quality control and customer service that can translate to a job at one of these employers. The hospitality industry will begin hiring again, but it's likely to be slower than other industries. Look where the jobs are now, and jump on them.
  • Network. Think about the contacts you have made on the job. The loyal customer you served coffee to every morning may run a construction company that is still operating -- can you reach out to him or her and ask about positions? Maybe they know someone else? Right now, people are so willing to try and help any way they can that it's a great time to connect and tap into their ideas. 
  • Be strategic. The temptation when you're unemployed is to use a scattershot approach and apply for anything and everything through large job sites. Hold up. Be more strategic and think about what really fits your needs. It makes no sense, for example, to apply for a job that's two hours away and would eat up your paycheck in gas. Once you identify the jobs that are the best fit, then craft a resume and cover letter that truly target that job listing.
  • Be specific. When you're relying on transferable skills, try to come up with specific ways those skills made a difference: "Identified and communicated a way to streamline turnover of guest rooms, cutting overtime for all housekeeping team members by 50 percent and leading to practices that were adopted by the entire hotel region." This highlights several transferable skills: leadership, quality control, teamwork and communication.
Finally, be adaptable. Always think in terms of what you can do, not in what you can't do. Who says you can't work in construction if you've always worked in hotels? Who says you can't change industries when you're mid-career? The key to getting through this is being adaptable and resilient. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

6 Things to Learn from COVID-19 About Your Career

By now, I believe most of you reading this have dealt with the COVID-19 virus in some way, even if you haven't been infected (and I hope you have not).

Many of you are working from home, or are working abbreviated schedules. You may be taking on extra work to cover for a sick colleague, or you may be furloughed because of the business downturn.

First, let me say how sorry I am that we're all going through this. It's a difficult, difficult time for everyone, and I am keeping hope alive that we will recover soon.

In the meantime, I'm always about looking for what we can learn from an experience, especially when it comes to our jobs and our careers. Eventually, we will all return to our regularly scheduled lives, so here are some things to think about:

1. Your colleagues aren't so bad. We spend a lot of time being annoyed by a couple of people in our workplace. Evelyn won't ever stop snooping into people's private lives, but you now believe it comes from a place of concern. She doesn't want the nitty-gritty details of how your spouse is doing, she just cares that you're doing OK. And Mike? Maybe he's a little anti-social, but he is always the one who seems to find a solution to a problem the fastest. Isn't that worth overlooking his refusal to say "hello" when you see him?

2. You can do change. The last time a new directive came down from the head honchos, you about lost your sh*t. I mean, come on! How many times are they going to make such stupid changes? Are they absolute morons in the corporate office? OK, now those changes don't seem to be such a big deal, do they? After all, you haven't been outside in nine days, and your kids are playing dodgeball with the cat. You are doing yoga in your kitchen, banging your knuckles on the refrigerator every time you do child's pose. You are also considering cutting "Pandemic Bangs" and you hate bangs.

3. An open concept office is great. In the past, you've become greatly annoyed by the noise and commotion and general hubbub of your company's open office plan. You've taken to wearing headphones, a stocking cap, sunglasses and covering your head with a pillow to block out the noise and distractions. Seems like a pleasant dream now, doesn't it? What you wouldn't give to have someone closer than six feet that wasn't a family member (who has been stuck inside with you for nine days).

4. Meetings aren't so bad. Not sure I thought I'd ever write that, but it's true. There certainly are too many meetings, but there are those times that they serve a purpose. They help us to bounce ideas off one another, bond with our team members and get a handle on what the boss -- and the organization -- considers as key priorities. We plan, we huddle, we laugh and we gripe. What's not to love about meetings?

5. You are your own worst enemy. For a long time you've blamed your boss, your colleagues, customers and the guy who delivers Jimmy John's sandwiches as the reason you can't get anything done. They distract you, they constantly interrupt you and they hurt your productivity. But, wait....none of those people are around and you aren't as productive as you thought you'd be without them around. Granted, the dodgeball thing with the cat is a bit of a distraction, but you find yourself checking social media sites too much, playing games on your phone and trying to make the word's longest paper clip chain. Could it be that maybe you've got some bad habits that you ignore in favor of blaming others?

You're probably sick of hearing this right now, but these really are unprecedented times. I don't know for sure what's going to happen, but the thing I do know is that we have to find something positive in order to get through this. Whether it's beating the cat in dodgeball or finding ways to make work better for ourselves -- and others -- let's do it.

Monday, March 16, 2020

10 Steps to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

There seems to be no lack of people touting their abilities online, whether it's starting a new business, leading a team or  levitating while drunk.

But there are also plenty of people who feel that no matter their success, they don't deserve it. They're frauds. One day everyone will find out and it will be the talk of Twitter and the New York Times and be entered into the Congressional Record.

It's called "impostor syndrome" and believe it or not, many successful men and women have it. It often starts when they receive a promotion or new job and continues every time they achieve something new. They become even more stressed as they achieve their dream, instead of enjoying what their hard work has brought them.

If you're feeling this way, the first thing to remember is that you're not alone. There are probably others in your career arena who are going through the same thing but are afraid to mention it to anyone else.

But I have interviewed several people over the years who have found ways to overcome impostor syndrome, and are much happier and satisfied in their professional and private lives.

Dr. Valerie Young, an international expert on impostor syndrome, offers these steps to overcome it:

  1. Break the silence. Shame keeps a lot of people from “fessing up” about their fraudulent feelings. Knowing there’s a name for these feelings and that you are not alone can be tremendously freeing. 
  2. Separate feelings from fact. There are times you’ll feel stupid. It happens to everyone from time to time. Realize that just because you may feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are.
  3. Recognize when you should feel fraudulent. If you’re one of the first or the few women or a minority in your field or work place, it’s only natural you’d sometimes feel like you don’t totally fit in. Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognize that it might be a normal response to being an outsider. 
  4. Accentuate the positive. Perfectionism can indicate a healthy drive to excel. The trick is to not obsess over everything being just so. Do a great job when it matters most, without persevering over routine tasks. Forgive yourself when the inevitable mistake happens. 
  5. Develop a new response to failure and mistake making. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Instead of beating yourself up for being human and blowing the big project, do what professional athletes do and glean the learning value from the mistake and move on. 
  6. Right the rules. If you’ve been operating under misguided rules like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help” start asserting your rights. Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance. 
  7. Develop a new script. Your script is that automatic mental tapes that starts playing in situations that trigger your Impostor feelings. When you start a new job or project instead of thinking for example, “Wait till they find out I have no idea what I’m doing,” try thinking, “Everyone who starts something new feels off-base in the beginning. I may not know all the answers but I’m smart enough to find them out.” 
  8. Visualize success. Do what professional athletes do. Spend time beforehand picturing yourself making a successful presentation or calmly posing your question in class. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress. 
  9. Reward yourself. Break the cycle of continually seeking °© and then dismissing °© validation outside of yourself by learning to pat yourself on the back.
  10. Fake it ‘til you make it. Now and then we all have to fly by the seat of our pants. Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do and view it as a skill. The point of the worn out phrase, fake it til you make it, still stands: Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behavior first and allow your confidence to build. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

3 Questions Every Manager Must Ask

Companies spend a lot of money -- more than $4,000 -- to bring on a new employee. Then, it costs more than $1,200 to train each new worker.

The Society for Human Resource Management says that about one quarter of new workers leave within their first year, which means that companies are doing a pretty fair job of hanging onto their investment in the early days.

But then time moves on, and the company may forget about that new hire. The head honchos rely on their line managers to keep employees moving in the right direction, and sometimes that works out great.

But then there are the times it does not. The company forgets that their greatest investment -- those employees -- aren't being managed well and eventually are going to leave. So all that time and money that has gone into recruitment, training, salary and benefits -- walks out the door and the company has to start all over again.

While some workers are going to leave no matter how great a manager may be, there are those who leave because they become frustrated or angry at the boss's management behavior. They believe the boss just doesn't "get it" and does nothing to help them achieve their performance goals. They believe the boss truly doesn't care about them, so why should they care about the boss or their job?

It becomes an endless cycle of blame that resolves itself when the employee walks out the door. But if the company truly wants to hang onto its most important investment, then it also needs to continually invest in managers. It needs to continually assess whether the manager is being supported in a way that he or she continues to grow and learn and become a better manager.

Managers need to understand that sometimes their processes or systems just don't make sense to the people who must follow them. They need to make adjustments so that employees don't become frustrated or so disengaged that they quit turning in quality work or leave for other jobs.

Here are some questions that managers should always be asking:

1. Am I causing bottlenecks? A manager might put in a new rule or system that works for one or two projects. But then circumstances change -- but but the rules never do. Now, the rules are causing problems because they aren't flexible enough to allow workers to do their jobs. This can be avoided by managers asking for feedback from workers. "What is keeping you from doing your job efficiently? What would you like to see being done differently?" While not all rules can be changed (especially if they're in place for legal or safety reasons), it's important that employees understand the "why" of the rule so that they don't see a manager as an obstacle to doing their jobs.

2. Am I setting priorities? Managers often attend meetings, meetings and more meetings. In between meetings, they write emails and issue assignments and then hurry off to another meeting. Employees are often left with conflicting assignments -- are they supposed to start Project D now or wait until Project B,C and A are done? Which one is the priority? Can deadlines be shifted? If one of the assignments is a priority, can the boss provide additional help? Bosses need to always be clear when making assignments to workers about the tasks that take priority and what ones can wait. Nothing becomes more frustrating for employees than to feel they're constantly behind or multitasking their way into a breakdown.

3. Am I making assumptions? Just because Maggie became flustered during a presentation to a client doesn't mean that she should never take the lead on a client presentation again. Or, just because Josh is good with data doesn't mean he can't work on a creative project. Only by asking employees to stretch and grow will they feel challenged and engaged -- and less likely to leave. While it's easier to put people into categories so you don't have to think twice when making assignments, such a strategy is short-sighted and likely to result in bored and frustrated workers.

Monday, March 2, 2020

How to Jell With Your Boss

It can be frustrating when you don't feel like you're on the same page as your boss.

The result is that you've had some unpleasant exchanges in emails, or she ignores you in meetings. Maybe you've even heard that she's criticized you to others.

Whatever the reason, it's not something that can be ignored. When you're not jelling with your boss, your career will pay the price. You will miss out on great projects, not receive performance bonuses or promotions and perhaps even risk being demoted or fired.

While you may feel that it's the boss's responsibility to connect with your more effectively, I can tell you that it's probably not going to happen. If you want to save your career, you're going to have to do it.

Here's how:

  • Research the boss. Often, you get on the wrong page with your boss because you don't really understand who she is and what makes her tick. Do a LinkedIn search, check out her online social media profiles and talk to other people who seem to click with her. You're not out to get private, personal details, just a better handle on her skills and how you can best connect with her. 
  • Speak up. Don't rely on emails or texts or Slack to communicate with the boss on such an important matter. Make an appointment to speak to her, face-to-face and in private. Tell her: "I'd like to make sure that I'm giving you what you need in the way you need it. I thought we could chat for 15 or 20 minutes to make sure we're on the same page." 
  • Be prepared. When you meet with the boss, you're not there to whine about how she's mean to you or you feel ignored. Ask her some specific questions: "Would you rather have communication from me weekly or daily? Would you prefer emails or in-person time? How often would you like to be updated on my projects? What are your priorities right now and what can I do to support them? Is there anything about what I do that you have questions about?"
Before the meeting ends, tell her you'll follow up in a couple of weeks to ensure you're meeting expectations or are happy to meet with her before that time if she has questions. Make clear that you're open to her feedback and want to be more supportive of her goals and that of the organization's.

By being proactive, you're more likely to ensure you and the boss are on the same page. You want to make sure that you're always doing work that the boss considers a priority and understands how it contributes to her success and that of the company's. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Are Your Ethics Slipping at Work?

You may never have heard of Potter Stewart, but he was the guy who retired from the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to Sandra Day O'Connor becoming the first female on the court.

Potter died in 1985, but I came across a quote from him that I thought would be beneficial when writing about becoming a better leader in the workplace.

"Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do," Stewart said.

When we talk about leadership in the workplace, we think of someone like a manager who collects a bigger paycheck, gets an office and maybe extra perks like a personal parking space.

But to me, leadership resides with everyone in the workplace. From the newest employee to the most senior executive, leadership cannot be "someone else's job." That's because each worker must lead in doing what is right. If just one person doesn't, then everyone is affected.

Perhaps morale begins to suffer because people are treating one another uncivilly. Or, maybe people begin to look the other way when someone is being sexually harassed or bullied. In some of the worst cases, no one speaks up -- or even joins in -- when customers are being ripped off.

If you feel that your ethics have slipped, I don't think you're alone. People feel stressed and depressed and fed up with the constant divisiveness in this world and that may lead to "no one else cares so why should I."

But it can stop. You can make it stop. You can resolve that you're going to behave more ethically at work, that you're going to step up and be a leader. Here are some things to think about:

  • Make it clear that you care. If you see someone being mistreated, let it be known that it's not OK.
  • Be patient and calm. Yelling at someone who is behaving badly isn't going to solve anything. And it's not going to stop the behavior overnight. Simply state that it's wrong in a calm way and repeat the message every time you see it happening.
  • Be supportive. Don't abandon someone who is standing up for what is right or believe that your silence is showing your support. Speak up. Through your actions and your words, show support for ethical behavior.
  • Ask questions. Being accusatory or judgmental will not help you at work. If you see a problem, ask questions. "Why did you disagree so strongly with Rob and call him an idiot?" To be a leader, you must constantly be learning. Always get the facts before jumping to conclusions. Then, try to educate: "Rob seemed very upset after your comment. We need him to be focused on the project because he's so creative. This kind of interaction could really damage that. No one should be called names." 
  • Stay positive. Don't let yourself become cynical when confronted with the unethical behavior of others. Always do an internal assessment of what you believe to be important and recommit yourself to that behavior. Interact with others who also have a strong ethical compass so that you feel supported.
Finally, remember that if you want your workplace to be more ethical, then you need to consistently model that behavior every day. Before long, you may find that you are truly leading others to be better at their jobs -- and better to one another.

Monday, February 17, 2020

How to Stop Email From Running Your Life

Well, here's a depressing statistic: people on average spend more than five hours a day checking their email, according to an Adobe survey.

When you think of what you could get done in five hours a day if you weren't checking email -- well, it boggles the mind. You might get to leave work on time every day. You might not be forced to work nights or weekends just to catch up on your work. You might even be a nicer, happier person.

Of course, not all that email checking is for work reasons -- the survey finds that more than two hours (143 minutes) is spent checking personal emails. Some of you might not realize that the time you spend entering the HGTV dream house sweepstakes or responding your Mom's email about your high-school bestie getting divorced eats into your day -- but it does. It really does.

Everyone complains about email. We fume about the colleagues who send too many messages and CC's everyone, we whine about the boss who can't go more than 20 minutes without sending an email and we go crazy looking at an inbox with hundreds of unread messages.

But what if the problem is really closer to home? What if we don't take the advice to turn off our email alerts seriously, or we just have to open the Netflix email to learn about the documentary about flaming underpants that we cannot miss? 

Look at it this way: Could you turn off your email alerts for 30 minutes to work uninterrupted if it meant you could leave work earlier than usual? Could you slap "spam" on many of your personal emails and stop opening them? Or, could you set up a second email account that will only be for personal emails and stop checking them at work? Could you start picking up the phone and calling someone if you need to write more than a handful of sentences since that would be a more efficient give-and-take conversation?

You may not think any of these strategies will work for you or claim you've tried them before and they don't work. But try this: Track the number of times you open an email during a day. Be honest -- no trying to change your numbers by refusing to open the latest Fantasy Football email from a friend.

My guess is that you're going to be unpleasantly surprised by how your life is being overtaken by your bad email habits. You're also probably going to see how you're blaming the lion's share of your email overload on others, when it's really something much more under your control.

This isn't a difficult problem to solve. If you want hours of your life back, just use common sense. Decide what's more important -- spending time with your family or friends or checking out the cruise offer you can't afford. I think you'll probably figure out pretty quickly that it's worth it to exert more control over your inbox and get work done instead of letting your inbox run your life.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tom Rath: How to Create a Better Resume

I recently had the chance to interview Tom Rath, who has written one of the most popular books ever to hit Amazon: StrengthsFinder 2.0. In this Q&A, he discusses how anyone can write a better, more compelling resume....

Q. What do you think is the biggest mistake someone makes when putting together a resume?
A. I think people use far too many impersonal and generic words to describe things that are actually very meaningful and important to them personally. For example, the easiest thing to go in resume are your functional skills and how you’ve mastered formulas in Excel or you’re a certified project manager in a certain area. But, that doesn’t get into the heart of what you’ve done, the lives you’ve helped develop or the people you’ve helped.
I would challenge people to think about how to bring the emotional and tangible impact you’ve had on other people into their resume. Human resources is looking for those 

Monday, February 3, 2020

3 Ways to Stop Feeling so Overwhelmed at Work

We're barely into 2020, and a lot of you are feeling overwhelmed at work.

You had such great plans for this year. You were going to get organized. You were going to network with those in other departments. You were going to come up with an innovative idea and present it to the boss.

So far, the most you've accomplished is whittling your inbox down to less than 300 unanswered emails and finally removed the rotting coffee grounds from your coffee cup.

You don't feel like you've accomplished anything meaningful and that feeling of being overwhelmed is growing. Is it time to look for another job? A new career? A new coffee cup?

First, keep in mind that before you take any such actions, you need to realize that you're not the only one feeling overwhelmed. A Gallup poll finds that of 7,500 full-time employees, some 23 percent say they are feeling burned out at work very often or always while another 44 percent report feeling burned out sometimes. That means that a lot of people aren't feeling like they've got it all figured out.

Second, there are strategies you can use to help you feel better about your job and your career. Just because you don't feel super successful right now doesn't mean that you can't turn things around and jumping ship isn't always the smartest decision (especially if you're going to wind up feeling just as overwhelmed in the next job).

Here are some ideas to try:

1. Remember that you're not alone. I've been covering the workplace for a long time, and the one thing I always hear is this: "I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I thought I was the only one going through this." Nope. You're not. Not everyone has it together, and if they do, you can bet they're covering up things that aren't working. That's OK. Just know that you're not the only one who feels overwhelmed.

2. Grab some control. It can feel pretty terrible to look at your "to do" list for the day or the week and realize you didn't get any of it done. When this happens, you can start to lose your confidence. So, set your phone timer for 15-30 minutes. Ignore your emails and texts and phone calls. Instead, focus on getting one thing done. That will help you feel more on track and give you the confidence you need to tackle something bigger.

3. Get help. It's no secret that workers are being asked to do more than ever before. Employees have to act as their own office managers, travel agents, tech gurus, communications strategists, marketing analysts and a host of other things that used to be divvied among other people. Stop making yourself crazy by trying to do it all. Ask people you work with what strategies they use. Tap into your network and ask, "What tools do you use to stay organized?" You may not only get some great ideas from other people, but you may also find that they offer support to help you feel less alone and overwhelmed.