December 06, 2011
Creating Credibility: Ten Tips for the Workplace
Words have to match actions. In addition to meeting your deadlines and hitting all your goals, it's vital to establish trust in your word -- to build your credibility. In both verbal and written communications, including everything that you publish through social media, a lack of trust will lower your credibility. And once you’ve lost it, it’s all but impossible to win back.
No matter where you are in your career, follow these rules to establish and maintain your credibility.
Show Concern. People will care about you, and more importantly trust you, when you care about them. People want to know that they have a sympathetic ear in you. Even companies in reputational crisis mode know the first reaction must be to show sincere concern over individuals in question.
Demonstrate Cooperation with Good Intentions. To be credible, you must demonstrate that you are acting in good faith to the best of your knowledge and ability. People must believe that you want to cooperate to help them achieve their personal and career goals. They will forgive you for poor judgment, but they will rarely forgive you for poor intentions.
Admit What You Don’t Know. When people smell blood, they start to dig. It’s human instinct to push when they feel they are being bluffed, especially when you’re trying to gloss over spotty patches in knowledge, memory, experience, or something else. Admitting ignorance is a simple principle -- easy to remember and easy to accomplish -- but can be a difficult pill to swallow. Nothing makes people believe in what you do know like admitting what you don’t.
(For tips on public speaking, read "Confront Your Fears and Communicate.")
Be Complete. Are you telling all you know? You need to recognize the difference between lies, half-truths, omissions, and cover-ups. True but incomplete statements can lead to false conclusions; literal truth, when offered without complete explanations, can lead to literal lies. Knowing smiles accompanied by long silences can elicit wrong conclusions. Lying happens in numerous ways. Intentions stand center stage here. Ultimately, questionable intentions cast doubt on character.
Stay Current. Give up outdated data, opinions, and stereotypes. Given today’s information overload, data more than two or three years old can’t support your decisions. Correct but outdated statistics soon become incorrect.
Be Clear. Sometimes the better we understand something, the worse we are at explaining it; our familiarity makes us careless in describing it. It’s difficult to remember a time when we didn’t know something that has become second nature to us. Ambiguity creeps in when we least expect it. Meanings depend on context, tone, timing, personal experience, and reference points. The best test of clarity is the result you see.
Keep Confidences. What happens when a boss or confidante tells you, “This information is not to leave the room,” and it instantly does? And you’re the carrier pigeon? When people know you break confidences -- that you share personal, confidential matters -- they fear you. Breaking confidences speaks volumes about your character. People who observe your ability to keep your promises and your confidences will begin to trust you with their real feelings.
Avoid Exaggeration. Did you wait on the phone for five seconds or five minutes? Did the supplier raise the rates by two percent or ten percent? Did the scores dip to 30 or to 10? Spinning a story can put you on a slippery slope. Exaggeration makes for great humor, but it's a credibility killer.
(For more tips on effective communication, read "The Listener Wins.")
Accept Responsibility. If you were involved in the decisions, actions, and results, or had some control over a situation that didn’t end the way others wanted it to, own up to it. Shirkers suffer credibility gaps.
Be Sincere and Genuine. People who pretend to be sincere can pitch an earnest plea, look at you with pleading eyes and a straight face, and promise the world. But genuineness comes from character and is therefore harder to generate on the spot. You either are or you aren’t. What you experience is what you share. What you value is what you give. What you say is what you believe.
Dianna Booher is the CEO of Booher Consultants, a communication training and consulting firm, and the author of the newly revised and expanded bestselling classic "Communicate with Confidence! How to Say it Right the First Time and Every Time!"
November 23, 2011
Career Advice: Have an "Attitude of Gratitude"
This week, most Americans are gearing up to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones. And many of us participate in the annual Thanksgiving ritual of listing the things we're grateful for: our family, our friends, our homes, and our possessions, for example. We might also list our jobs -- in the sense that they allow us to put food on the table. But does your organization inspire its employees to add anything else to that gratitude list?
Todd Patkin, the author of the new book "Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and -- Finally -- Let the Sunshine In," says that if a company hasn't hasn't made a conscious effort to instill an 'attitude of gratitude' into the organization's culture, it's ignoring a useful and lucrative tool. He adds, "The good news is, there’s no better time than right now at Thanksgiving to start showing your employees or coworkers that you appreciate their efforts and care about them as individuals."
Patkin, who also spent almost two decades as a leader at his family’s auto parts business, explains, "In so many organizations, employees go through their days assuming that their coworkers, and especially their bosses, don’t notice or appreciate all of the hard work that they do," Patkin explains. "And if that’s the way you feel, you will just go through the motions. You won’t have any true motivation or dedication, and your productivity will be mediocre at best."
In a very real way, Patkin says, tapping into the spirit of Thanksgiving can tip the balance between success and growth or stagnation and failure.
Whether you’re a leader who wants to tap into the power of thanks or an employee who wants to start a grassroots movement, read on for Patkin’s how-to tips:
Always say thank you. If you have a job that allows you to twiddle your thumbs, you’re definitely in the minority. Most of us have a deskful of things that should have been done yesterday, and it’s easy to use the excuse that we don’t have time to hand out compliments and thanks like candy. According to Patkin, though, there’s no better way to use your time. Taking just thirty seconds to express gratitude can improve another person’s mood, day, and productivity level. You’ll also be making yourself more approachable and likeable, and over time your team will begin to relate to you more positively.
“Always, always recognize it when someone does something well or does something nice for you,” Patkin advises. “No one ever gets tired of hearing compliments about themselves; in fact, I have found that consistent and heartfelt recognition—when it is deserved, of course—is a better long-term motivator than money."
"Also remember to acknowledge it when someone else gives you a compliment or a thank you—it’s important for others to know that their gratitude is noticed and appreciated in order for it to continue.”
Take intent into account. The fact is, when you’re in a position to make a grand gesture of gratitude, your intentions may be consistently good … but your plans might not always be as successful as you’d hoped. Patkin recalls that as he tried to show his employees just how much he appreciated them, he came up with many show-the-love schemes. He would send high achievers to sports games, highlight various employees in company newsletters, plan lavish company parties, and hold raffles -- to name a few examples. Sometimes those plans were well received; other times they weren’t.
“Inevitably, there will always be someone who says, ‘I wish the boss had sent me to a concert instead of to an NBA game,’ or, ‘Gosh, the food at this party tastes horrible,’” Patkin says. “On a smaller scale, maybe no one eats the cookies you baked and set out in the break room. Remember, these people are selfishly (or maybe even unwittingly) overlooking the thank-you gesture’s intent. I’m bringing this up because you need to remember that despite negative feedback, showing gratitude is always the right thing … and the majority of non-complainers probably loved your gesture. And also, if the shoe is on the other foot and an expression of gratitude that’s aimed at you misses the mark, say thank you for the thought and go on about your day.”
Start being more open. In your average office, communication is far from completely open. No one wants to bug the boss unnecessarily or meddle in a coworker’s projects (unless, perhaps, that person’s intent is negative). This sort of “keep-to-yourself” culture doesn’t tend to foster total understanding or genuine gratitude. Think about it this way: If a leader is dissatisfied with an employee’s performance, that employee will probably sense that he’s not highly appreciated, and he’ll have no reason to work any harder than necessary. The leader’s bad opinion of the employee will continue to grow worse, further eroding the employee’s motivation. It’s a negative cycle, but according to Patkin, it can be easily broken with a little openness and honesty.
“If you’re a leader, constructively tell your people how they can improve their performances,” he says. “If you’re a team member, be proactive about asking your coworkers and boss how you’re doing and how you can get better at your job. And no matter where you fall on your company’s hierarchy, learn how to receive constructive criticism. I have seen this at all levels -- if you don’t accept advice and requests well, you’ll stop getting them and you’ll stop improving … and you’ll essentially be stuck right where you are."
"Showing others that you care enough to either help them or to improve yourself is a form of gratitude in and of itself, because you’re demonstrating that your team is worth the investment of your time, energy, and advice.”
Learn to graciously accept thanks. Yes, giving thanks is a very important building block when it comes to cultivating a gratitude culture in your organization. But it’s not the only one. If you brush off compliments or ignore expressions of gratitude -- even if it’s because you’d rather stay out of the spotlight -- you’ll eventually stop hearing “thanks!” altogether, and you’ll be discouraging the person complimenting you from reaching out to others in the same way.
“Showing gratitude to others in very lavish ways comes naturally to me,” Patkin says, “but accepting compliments for my own performance isn’t as easy. Over the years, though, I have learned that a response like ‘Oh, it was nothing’ tends to make the person thanking you feel foolish for giving you so much praise. This is especially true when a team member reaches out to a leader who’s higher in the organizational pecking order. Whenever someone thanks you or notices something positive about you, try to truly engage with them and let them know that their words have been meaningful.”
Keep the gratitude going outside of your organization. Once you notice that those two important words -- thank you -- are being uttered on a regular basis in your office, make an effort to extend them beyond the people on your payroll. Thank your customers or the people you serve for choosing your organization, and for trusting your team with their money, health, products, or publicity -- to name a few examples. This is something that many clients don’t hear, so when they do, their loyalty to your company is strengthened.
“A simple ‘Thank you for your business’ is easy and free, and there’s no excuse not to make use of this tool. You might also consider offering discounts, coupons, or promotions to show customer appreciation. Especially in a tough economy, it’s vital to let those whom you serve know how much they mean to you so that they don’t take their business elsewhere. I used to encourage my store managers to treat their clients like kings -- I’d ask them to write thank-you notes after big sales and to send birthday cards to loyal customers, for example. One year, we even rented an ice cream truck to visit all of our best customers so that they could have a free frozen treat on a hot day. Over time, this strategy of appreciation brought us more business and it caused our customers to be less price-conscious.”
Use gratitude to reinforce stellar performances. No, your employees and/or coworkers are not pets. Remember, though, that just as a Labrador Retriever will learn to repeat or refrain from a behavior because she is given a treat, a worker will do the same thing based on his boss’s feedback. Using gratitude to shape your team’s habits and priorities can be every bit as valuable as training programs and industry conferences … at a fraction of the time and cost.
“Whenever I saw an employee going out of her way to make sure that the product a client purchased was the best possible value, I thanked her for doing it,” Patkin recalls. “If a store manager made a mistake and came clean to me about it, I thanked him for that, too. Never forget that whatever you acknowledge positively will be repeated.”
How do you show gratitude at work -- as a manager or as an employee? Share your story in the Comments section.
November 16, 2011
Cracking the New Job Market
But while these tactics are still important and effective, there are new rules -- and new mindsets -- to learn. Nowadays, employers are less interested in your past accomplishments than in what you can do for them in the immediate future. This new approach to getting hired requires new skills -- such as research, information-gathering, and "selling" yourself as a solution to whatever problems the employer is facing.
In his new book, "Cracking the New Job Market," R. William Holland, PhD -- a veteran human resources executive and career coach -- outlines these new realities, along with advice on getting hired in any economy. We spoke to Holland about his book and his job-seeking expertise:
Monster: Do you believe that "following your passion" is good advice today in choosing a career -- and has that changed in recent years?
Holland: Following your passion can be good advice, but too often it is not. Because of that, it ranks very high on my list of "frequently given bad advice." It's far more important for you to pick something at which you can excel, and for which others are willing to pay. Besides, most people misunderstand the relationship between passion and career choice. The world is full of great examples of people who were able to bask in the glory and satisfaction of good pay for a job well done and, as a result, developed a passion for what they were doing. It's nice if you're passionate about your work, but most people are not. And today, more than ever, passion alone is not a sufficient condition for making a living.
Technology and globalization have increased the competition for goods and services in the marketplace. There has been a corresponding increase in the requirement that employees produce something of value. You have a better chance of being valued by an employer if you excel at the job you have.
Monster: How has the advance of social media changed looking for a job and managing a career?
Holland: At one time, job seekers were told that networking was the most important part of their job search, and that even after landing a job they should maintain a close network of face-to-face contacts that could be called on when needed. They were urged to get away from their computers because, according to the career counselors, "you can’t find jobs there." Though networking is still important, the face-to-face component has been relegated to being an appendage of what can be accomplished on the computer, rather than a substitute for it.
Consider that the number of close face-to-face contacts one can maintain maxes out at around 250, while social networking allows you to reach across numerous networks and maintain an infinite number of contacts. Further, rather than engage in expensive reference-checking, companies now check a candidate's online presence before proceeding.
Monster: What are some traditional or "old-fashioned" methods that no longer serve job seekers -- especially older job seekers -- well?
Holland: I advise older workers to, rather than become a victim of their age, take advantage of their age. Globalization and rapid changes in technology have forced companies into a desperate search for people who can create value. And that can be you regardless of your age.
It used to be that Baby Boomers and Generations X and Y were defined by the years in which they were born. Now a new generation is emerging that is defined by how it sees the world rather than by its chronology. Today’s world (generation) is global, and the requirements for membership have more to do with one's ability to create value rather than one's age. It is a new mindset any of us can develop -- call it Generation Global.
But the new mindset for older workers is tricky and requires meticulous attention to detail -- on everything from how you dress for the interview (you can't wear yesterday's buttoned-up dark suit to an interview in a super-casual high-technology work environment) to how you speak. Referring to "back in the day" is a non-starter; stay focused on creating value going forward rather than on previous accomplishments.
Monster: Soon-to-be college grads and their parents are feeling hopeless about career prospects -- what is your advice for them?
Holland: My messages are specifically for parents who want to help their college-aged children become career-ready: Make sure your kids understand what employers are looking for in recent graduates. You can do that together by reviewing the position descriptions for jobs specific to their major. Even if they haven't declared a major or think they will change, companies still interview candidates with a wide range of majors and often stipulate that major is unimportant. You and your student should visit the campus placement center and take a close look at those descriptions; they will tell you exactly what the companies are looking for.
Businesses complain they can't seem to find enough students who can think critically, who have both verbal and written communications skills, and who have demonstrated analytical talent and job experience (in internships or volunteer jobs). Treat the balance of the time they have left in school as a resume-building opportunity -- time in which they work diligently to prepare themselves for a career. Given the competitive environment in which we live, our kids can no longer afford to treat college merely as a way station between adolescence and adulthood.
If your son or daughter has already graduated, they still need to identify those jobs for which they see themselves as a reasonable fit and develop a resume that speaks directly to what companies want. You/they can do it; my book, "Cracking the New Job Market," directly addresses these issues. Some recent graduates I know have used it with great success -- even in this lousy economy.
Monster: What skills should all workers be cultivating to stay relevant?
Holland: There are two answers. The first has to do with keeping up in your field -- this is the easy part: Attend professional meetings, participate in activities designed to keep abreast of new developments, and apply what you learn to your immediate work environment. The practical application of knowledge goes a long way in a competitive world toward the maintenance of relevancy.
The second answer is a little more complicated, difficult, and important: Today's organizational structures tend to be flatter and more efficient. As a result, people skills are more important than ever. You should think about leadership, project management, teamwork, and influencing without authority as some of the skills that are important to develop. Any course or class you can take to help you become a more effective team player could pay big dividends. The ability to get things done through others is a critically important way to create value in the environment in which you work.
For more tips on new job-search rules, read:
- Selling Yourself in the Job Interview
- Job-Search Mistakes of New Grads
- Online Professional Networking for Beginners
November 01, 2011
Job-Search Advice for Executives
Executive recruiter Colleen Aylward wanted to figure out how many executives had been displaced by the recent economic downturn, but her research didn't turn up hard data.
"No one actually keeps track of those stats," says Aylward, president of recruiting firm Devon James and the the author of "Bedlam to Boardroom: How To Get a Derailed Executive Career Back on Track." "When I tried to look it up with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and even talk to some of the Bureau's staff, I couldn't get a straight answer.”
Instead, Aylward took the Bureau's 2010 figures for layoffs in all categories and chose the job categories that she knew fit the executive profile. Her top line figure -- 2.5 million executives out of work -- is just one indicator of the extent of the unemployment problem.
"... These are not the high-priced CEOs that are being criticized for taking too much money in salary and bonuses," she adds. "These are the managers in the trenches, who spent decades in the corporate world making the trains run on time, and have since been displaced by younger, cheaper executives who lack the experience and institutional memory of those they replaced."
Aylward's specialty as a recruiter is to help displaced executives find work, and she has figured out a few key tips to help those who were insiders for so long but who now find themselves on the outside looking in -- but these good job-search ideas are not limited to people seeking corner offices. They include:
Be a Specialist
For many years, an executive’s resume was an exercise in being all things to all people, but that’s not what corporations want these days. They don’t want a general manager of all things executive, but rather, specialists who have niche expertise that can be applied immediately. It’s a culture shift for many executives, so it may seem difficult at first. However, everyone has at least one, or maybe even two, areas in which they could lay claim to being a specialist. Highlight those areas in your resume, and you’ll find a lot more opportunities open to you.
Hiring an executive is a big commitment for many companies, as well as an expensive one. Don’t be afraid of creating a situation that puts you back in the saddle while at the same time mitigating a company’s risk. If a company is on the bubble about bringing you on full-time, offer to take on a specific project as an outside contractor and then tie your compensation to the completion of the project. If you screw it up, that’s on you. If you succeed and deliver, not only will you get paid, but you might also win a full-time gig.
Get Out and Network
The days of working for one company forever until you retire have been over for a while. Executives have to view even their full-time jobs as freelance gigs with a limited shelf life. In that respect, displaced executives should look toward more project work instead of just waiting around for that dream job to drop in their laps. They need to get out, network, and use their days not to root out jobs, but also to talk to individuals in companies that might have a problem their expertise could solve. Often, one well-executed project will turn into more.
"The old ways don't work anymore," Aylward adds. "In fact, they haven’t worked in a while, but the executives who have been laid off over the last few years never had to read that particular news update. They are still vital and have plenty to offer, but they need to find new ways to show it. The dream job doesn't look at all the way it used to look and executives need to change their perspective if they are going to have a shot in the corporate world of today."
For more tips on executive-level career management, check out:
October 03, 2011
Tips on Getting the Salary You Want
Just because the economy seems a bit precarious doesn't mean that you have to settle for a lower salary than you deserve. But if you're feeling less than confident about speaking to your boss about a raise, sales expert Michael McIntyre has some tips for you. The president and CEO of Benefits America, as well as the author of "The Authentic Salesman: Mastering the Art of Transforming Real Objections into Real Transactions," McIntyre offers these ten tips for people entering into salary negotiations with a manager:
1. Do a reality check. Take a coworker or two out for coffee or lunch and ask them for blunt feedback about how you come across at work. Consider this your pre-performance review.
2. Read the tea leaves. If your company is laying people off, try back later. It's just common sense.
(Learn to understand the signs -- read "How to Tell If a Layoff Is Coming.")
3. Brag mercilessly. Make a list of everything you have done to help your company achieve its goals. And be specific.
4. Practice that pitch. Rehearse with your spouse or friends first, and make sure they're tough on you so that you're battled-tested and prepared for your boss's curve balls.
5. Cut the sly act. Be upfront with your boss about why you want to sit down. No boss wants to be ambushed. Also be specific about how much of a raise you request –- it shows leadership and confidence.
(Is now the right time to schedule that meeting? Read "Can I Ask for a Raise Yet?")
6. Acknowledge your boss and company. Be gracious, saying something along the lines of, "Mr. Jones, thank you for taking the time. I truly appreciate the opportunity."
7. Zip it! After you acknowledge them, if you have done it correctly, they know why you're there. Let them be in control (bosses like that) and ask the obvious or make a statement.
8. Acknowledge them, no matter what. They might say, "Well, I reviewed your file and as you know, the company is on a tight budget and I just don't see how you getting a raise is going to fit in this." Reply, "I understand and felt this might be a possibility when I came in; however, I want to share with you a few ideas about this. Have you considered the value ...".
(Get more negotiation tips -- read "Ask for the Raise You Want.")
9. Do not ramble! Once you make your rebuttal (if needed), let it go. Bosses hate rambling, so make your point concisely and watch for the ball now in their court.
10. Never, ever get emotional. No matter what, chances are that you will get a raise if you have made yourself invaluable. Leave your sensitivity at the door if you want to move up the corporate ladder.
Do you have any salary-negotiation tips or secrets that have worked for you? Share your story in the Comments section below.
September 19, 2011
On Leadership: 5 Tips for Improving Communication
In the super-connected times we live in, people can share every aspect of their lives in real time via social media. They can record all their personal ups and downs on their blogs. We can all call, text, or email anyone -- family, friends, coworkers, and managers -- at any time. Are you experiencing communication overload? If not, you're among the very few.
According to OfficeMax cofounder and former CEO Michael Feuer, the author of the new book "The Benevolent Dictator: Empower Your Employees, Build Your Business, and Outwit the Competition," innovations in communication sometimes make it more difficult to get your point across.
"Since we can say as much as we want in multiple forums these days, almost everyone -- including businesspeople -- provide too much information (or TMI) in their exchanges," says Feuer. "In many organizations, the art of cutting to the chase has been lost."
The lessons he has learned have convinced him that a great leader's management style should mirror that of a benevolent dictator. This, he says, is not as scary as it sounds, because the "dictator" side of you calls the shots and makes the difficult decisions, while the "benevolent" side makes sure to put the interests of the organization, your team, and your customers ahead of your own. And part of being a benevolent dictator is requiring clear, concise communication at all levels, so that key decisions can be made quickly and effectively.
Here are five of Feuer's tips for making your own communication more concise and effective, while inspiring the same communication styles in your organization:
Be clear about what you need. The first step in encouraging concise communication is to be straightforward about what you need. Don’t expect your team members to pick up on the hints that you’re dropping. (In other words, if you don't want to read between others' lines, don’t force them to do so with you.) Remember, though, that one size doesn't fit all, so you may have to infuse your cut-to-the-chase request with humor or compliments to soften the message.
"When someone is giving me way too much information, I politely interrupt and tell him that I recognize him as an expert on the subject matter being discussed," Feuer shares. "Then I say that since I know it's a given that this person knows his stuff, I merely need a short sound bite. Usually, this strategy soon leads to more frequent one- or two-sentence summaries."
Talk through conversations. While you can't control every word that comes out of your team members' mouths, you can establish standards of what is appropriate. Tell them that brevity and clarity are key, and point out that these things will set your organization apart from the competition. After all, clients and callers will appreciate the chance to do as much talking and question-asking as they want.
"Also consider asking your employees to end all conversations and messages with a tagline that expresses your organization’s best attribute," suggests Feuer. "Some tried-and-true examples are 'Your satisfaction is our number-one priority,' and 'Getting to the point makes us better.' At Max-Wellness, our branding tagline is simply 'Be well.' I've found that clients respond better to these than gratuitous endings like 'Have a stupendous day.'"
Get frequent updates from key people. (Simply put, micromanage.) Somewhere along the line, "micromanage" has become a bad word. It conjures up images of bosses who can't delegate, who don't trust their team members, and who don't give employees room to do their best work. No, you shouldn't do your team's work for them, but according to Feuer, you should get regular (and, of course, succinct!) updates from key people. These fast-and-frequent communications allow you to keep your finger on your organization's pulse.
"When you know what's happening in real time, you can accelerate your organization's growth and prevent garden-variety problems from snowballing into disasters of Biblical proportions," explains Feuer. "During the first 18 months of OfficeMax, I required every store to call my home seven nights a week to give me sales figures, which I recorded in a ledger. This ritual helped me to manage our growth by knowing our daily cash flow, with an emphasis on accounts payable down to the last few dollars. This protocol not only accelerated our growth but set a management style for executives to operate in a similar know-what’s-happening fashion. Don't underestimate the importance of remaining aware of the flow of factual information!"
Use your negatives sparingly. Say you're telling your team everything they need to know, but you still aren't getting the results you want. What gives? Well, the problem might lie in how you’re delivering that cut-to-the-chase sound bite. Think about it: How many of your announcements start with a negative, followed by a litany of unpleasant consequences? (For example, "If we don’t increase sales next month, we'll have to start letting people go.")
"Many leaders think that this style is more forceful and expedient, but it's actually counterproductive," says Feuer. "If you make too many of these negative announcements, your employees will be motivated only by fear and desperation -- at least in the beginning. As time goes on (and presumably, a majority of your threats don't come to pass), your team will come to see you as a knucklehead, and they'll start to ignore your message altogether."
Look in the mirror. The Golden Rule -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you -- definitely applies to leadership and business. It's always a good idea to treat your team as participants and partners in whatever you're doing ... not just as people to blame when something goes wrong. Remember that they appreciate appropriate amounts of respect and praise, and that they also enjoy being given credit for having the ability to grasp the obvious.
"If you’re not getting the results you want, you might be the problem," Feuer says. "Leaders, especially those nearer to the top of the organizational hierarchy, sometimes forget how it felt to be directed. Ask yourself how you'd want to be told to do something important. Chances are it wouldn't be to do XYZ, or face dire consequences without any further explanation. When you're open about what's at stake and use a logical, positive tone, you'll probably find that your communications take root and grow!"
September 16, 2011
The Monster 5 for Friday -- Careers Edition -- September 16
On Fridays, we take a look back at the week that was, and show you five cool career-advice articles you may have missed during your busy week.
5. To start, we'll point to a post on this very blog. Did you know that September is both National Preparedness Month and National Update Your Resume Month? The two clearly go hand-in-hand, because having an updated resume is an important way to stay prepared for career emergencies. Read "The Importance of Being Prepared."
4. The Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy interview with "What Color Is Your Parachute?" author Richard Bolles -- in which he shared his thoughts on new job-search technologies, as well as his outlook on the search for "dream jobs" (which echoes Monster's beliefs). Read "People Are Still Finding Their Dream Jobs." Yes they are!
3. BostInnovation reported on the latest thing in mobile networking -- that is, Monster's own BeKnown application, which is now available on the iPhone and Android. Read "Monster Worldwide Adds Mobile Functionality to Facebook App, BeKnown."
2. About.com career expert Alison Doyle provides some great tips on digital communication in one of her latest posts. Read "How Not to Email About a Job."
1. And now maybe you can end your week with a laugh (while learning an important lesson about the need to proofread your resume). This week, Yahoo! ran a Monster advice article that provides a collection of cautionary tales. Read "10 Classic Resume Bloopers."
Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message. Also, get support and great job-seeker advice when you join our community on Facebook.
Posted by Charles Purdy on September 16, 2011 at 04:56 PM in Books , Career Development , Interview , Job Search , Networking , New Media , Update Your Resume Week | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
September 01, 2011
Making Friends at Work: The Key to Career Success?
You may think that workplace socializing is a waste of time -- you're too busy with work for water-cooler chit-chat (and you're too busy with your life for after-work drinks with the team). But a new study by Harvard researcher Shawn Achor, the author of "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work," says that employees who are most unwilling to develop workplace friendships are the least likely to get promoted.
He divided employees into quartiles on the basis of their willingness to initiate work relationships -- such as inviting coworkers out for drinks -- and the results may surprise you:
> Of the bottom quartile (those least willing to initiate work friendships) only 5% were extremely engaged in their work.
> Only 7% had been promoted in the past year, while approximately 40% of employees in the other quartiles received promotions.
So having friends at work pays off -- but what if you're shy, or what if you don't much like the people you work with? We asked Achor for some tips on workplace relationships, and here's what he had to say:
Monster: If you're working with people you don't have much in common with (or don't like much), do you think there's value in "faking it" -- that is, initializing social relationships simply for the sake of your career?
Achor: If you're faking it, then people aren't going to like you anyway. But if you make a conscious effort to learn what does connect you with your coworkers, then the payoff is huge. My new research in the Harvard Business Review reveals that if you provide social support at work to your coworkers, it correlates with a 40% increased likelihood of a promotion.
In addition, when you make an effort, your brain actually starts liking the people around you more. And my research shows that people who initialize relationships find significantly more engagement at work.
(For more advice, read "5 Tips for Making Office Friendships Work.")
Monster: You describe the positive effects of going out for drinks with your coworkers. What are some ideas for building relationships inside office hours?
Achor: On the way into work, pick up bagels for everyone. Usually only the boss or manager does this (if anyone does), so very quickly people perceive you as someone who is willing to sacrifice to connect the team. At UBS, one of the managers I worked with did this with his team, and he said that despite being a professional investor, it was one of the best investments he ever made because of the long-term effects on performance.
In addition, we feel more connected to people who recognize our worth. Find something that a person is doing at work and praise them for it. You don't have to be the manager to give praise, and the resulting effect is that others perceive you and your work more favorably as well. For this to work, the praise must be authentic and specific -- our brains are wired to detect deception. But our brains are also linked with mirror neurons, so if you smile more at work, so will your coworkers.
Monster: Any special tips for people who are shy?
Achor: At Adobe, I suggested that some of their introverted employees make a game out of raising social engagement. With each person you meet, try to learn one piece of new information: what they're working on, kids' names, what they're doing this weekend, what movie they saw last. By creating a goal out of the conversation, it makes your brain focus less on forcing being extroverted. In addition, we feel greater social support when we are known and when we know other people, so by the end of just a week, it will be even easier for you to strike up relationships and conversations with coworkers.
(For more advice, read "Networking Tips for Shy People.")
Monster: What are some practical things a busy person can do (daily or weekly) to improve his or her outlook and attitude, to start reaping some of the benefits of positive thinking?
The research in "The Happiness Advantage" proves that happiness is a work ethic. Not only do we work better when our brains are positive, but we must work at being happy, just like we exercise our bodies to get fit. Pick one new habit such as writing down three new things you are grateful for into a journal, or meditate for two minutes watching your breath go in and out, or write one positive two-minute email each morning to a friend before checking your inbox. All those habits take less than two minutes a day at work.
If you keep it going consistently for 21 days in a row, you will create a life habit, and our research has shown that will significantly improve optimism scores and business outcomes even 6 months later!
How do you develop friendships at work? How do you maintain a positive attitude? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
December 22, 2010
The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Job Search
There's no need to go through a job search on your own. If you're looking for work or may someday be looking for work (and, let's face it, these days that's just about everyone), there are many experts online providing excellent career advice--on resumes, job-interview tactics, hot industries for career growth, taking your career to the next level, and much more.
To help you find some of that great advice, we chose 11 career experts worth watching in the coming year. Of course, there are far more than 11 worthy experts--this list is definitely not all-inclusive, and we could have easily made the list 111 names long. But these 11 are a great place to start, and you can broaden and adjust your personal cadre of career experts by following them and then seeing whom they follow, retweet, or otherwise interact with.
We hope you find this list helpful-- if you want to let job seekers know about other experts, please do so in the comments section! (And follow us on Twitter at @HotJobs_editor or @MonsterCareers--we discuss these experts' work often.)
Here they are, the Monster 11 for 2011:
Penelope Trunk (of Brazen Careerist)
Find her at http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/ or on Twitter: @BrazenCareerist
Trunk blogs frequently on a wide variety of topics related to career advancement--she describes Brazen Careerist as "a career management tool for next-generation professionals." Trunk's advice also appears in more than 200 newspapers.
Huhman is a prolific writer and well-respected expert; she's the author of many ebooks and writes an Examiner.com column. Although she specializes in "helping Gen Y find internships and entry-level jobs," Huhman is very active on Twitter and shares a wide range of advice there.
An expert on social media for job seekers and entrepreneurs, Salpeter is also a career coach and a professional resume writer. She's very active on Twitter, and she offers new advice articles on her website two or three times a week.
Tahmincioglu, the author of the book "From the Sandbox to the Corner Office," writes a weekly career-advice column for MSNBC.com.
O'Donnell is a career strategist and workplace consultant who provides practical advice for job seekers at any stage of a career; she's a frequent blogger and very active on Twitter.
Career Rocketeer provides excellent advice on personal branding and related topics; Perry describes himself as "an ambitious entrepreneur and a career search and personal branding expert."
Morgan describes her site as a resource for "lifetime career navigation"--and she's true to her word, providing no-nonsense practical advice for people finding their way up a job-search mountain. On her site, she points to helpful content on a broad range of other sites.
Twitter is a great place to find Svei, a longtime job-search strategist. Her information-packed site is for "for executives and professionals who want to create their next great career opportunity."
Kohut is a staffing consultant who says she's on a mission to help 1,000,000 job seekers--and that's something we can definitely get behind. (Also check out her other sites, CareerWakeUpCalls.com and 101JobSearchSecrets.com.)
Barrett-Poindexter's Career Trend website provides plenty of advice on crafting a powerful resume; she's also very active on Twitter, sharing links to other career experts' articles.
A resume expert and the president of Blue Sky Resumes, Fletcher provides excellent resume and job-search advice. Fletcher describes Career Hub's goal as "connecting job seekers with the best minds in career counseling, resume writing, personal branding and recruiting."
(Are you a recruiter or HR professional? Check out our Monster Thinking 11 for 2011 for our picks of top industry bloggers.)
August 18, 2010
SlideShare: Five Tips to Stay Focused on Your Job SearchEach time you interrupt a focused work task, it takes time to get back to the level of concentration and effectiveness you had before the interruption. You might consider yourself an excellent multitasker, but recent studies show that people misjudge how well they perform when dividing their attention among many tasks (and the people who believe they are most effective at multitasking are least productive, when tasks are measured impartially).
A job search demands a lot of different tasks, so how in the hyperlinked world are you going to keep focused? Again, the answer is good time management. For most of us, that means blocking out a space and time when you won’t be interrupted. It also helps to follow some basic habits that keep you from distracting yourself. Here are five tips from Doug Hardy, author of Monster's Six Fundamentals to Building a Lifelong Career ebook.