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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Find yourself catching every little sniffle that your co-workers sneeze your way? Here’s how to stay healthy in the office year-round.
Keep things sanitary. This is as much for your good as for the people with whom you share enclosed spaces. Make sure you wash all your community dishes thoroughly before putting them away. Properly store your lunch and other food in the office kitchen, and keep track of what you’ve put in there so nothing stays long enough to grow mold.
Keep a bottle of sanitizer on your desk that you can pump onto your hands whenever you’re around a sick co-worker (but maybe wait until she leaves your office to apply), and spray down your keyboard every few weeks to clear it of dust and germs.
And don’t forget to wash your hands! It sounds silly, but many people don’t wash them for the appropriate length to get rid of germs and bacteria that could be harmful. Experts recommend you wash your hands with soap and water for the amount of time it would take you to sing “Happy Birthday” at a normal speed. Since you’re most likely to pick up the flu or another illness on your hands and then transfer the virus to your face, this can greatly reduce your risk of getting sick. An experiment conducted at the University of California – Berkeley a few years ago found that students touched their eyes, nose or lips between three and 104 times over a three-hour period. Reduce your risk by keeping your hands clean.
Promote healthy activity. Rather than eating at your desk and playing Words with Friends on your break, go outside and get some fresh air. Better yet, coax a colleague into walking with you daily on your lunch hour. Walking can reduce your stress, boost your immune system and help you live longer.
If you’re the boss, consider implementing a health and wellness program. From weight-loss programs and smoke cessation help, to on-site yoga classes or paid gym memberships, these types of perks may reduce the number of sick days your staff takes and cut down on your health insurance costs. More companies are being proactive in wellness care, rather than paying more for health insurance to pay for treatment costs like doctor visits.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Do people pay attention to spelling and grammar today? More than you may think!
Even busy résumé reviewers who barely have enough time to read your full cover letter and résumé are likely to notice spelling errors.
Your email, cover letter, application and résumé are often the first impression you make. Spelling and grammatical errors suggest you don’t care enough about the job to double check your work, or worse, that you lack attention to detail.
Commonly Misspelled Words
Some misspelled words are not necessarily caught by spell check because the misspelling is also a legitimate word. Double check your work for these common and avoidable misspellings.
Manager (not manger)
Assess (not asses)
Led (not lead)
Maintenance (not maintenence)
License (not lisence)
Liaison (not liason)
Lose (not loose)
Be sure to double check your online profiles for misspellings and typos. And when sending correspondence, do not spell the company or contact name incorrectly. That’s a sure way to get your information tossed into the recycle bin.
Common Grammar Mistakes
Grammar is equally important. In fact, Kyle Wiens writes in a Harvard Business Review blog post: “Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important.”
Take your time and review your work for these commonly confused words.
Your vs. You’re
“Your” shows possession, such as “your salary requirements.” “You’re” is a contraction of “you are,” as in “you’re excited to learn more about the position.”
Than vs. Then
“Than” is used to compare different things. For example, “The results of the campaign were five times greater than previous marketing initiatives.” The word “then” has several different meanings such as “at a point in time.” Used correctly, it might look like this: “The project continued, then, due to changes in client requirements, ended immediately.”
They’re vs. Their vs. There
“They’re” is a contraction of “they are,” “their” indicates possession and “there” specifies a location. Here are examples for how to use each properly:
“They’re ready to embark on a new adventure.”
“Their trip was canceled due to poor weather.”
“When they arrived in New York, they were the only ones there.”
It’s vs. Its
“It’s” is a contraction for the two words “it is.” When you use “its” you show possession of an inanimate object or gender neutral noun:
“It’s unusual to see such an amazing opportunity.”
“The company lost its key customer and my job was eliminated.”
Commonly Mispronounced Words
So you say you have strong communication skills, but are you mispronouncing any of these words? Prove you are a skilled communicator. Even if your written materials are flawless, poor verbal communication is a big turn off.
Note the “r”
February and library each have an “r” after the “b” and are pronounced Feb-roo-err-ee (not Febuary) and li-brer-ee (not libary)
Jewelry is pronounced joo – wel – ree not joo –ler –ee.
Incorrect pronunciation: or – ee – en – tated
Correct pronunciation: or – ee – ented
Incorrect: su – po – sa – blee
Correct: su – po – sid – lee
Justin Brown identifies these commonly heard mistakes in a post for Primer Magazine:
For all intents and purposes
Incorrect pronunciation: for all intensive purposes
Correct pronunciation: for all intents and purposes
Incorrect pronunciation: up – most
Correct pronunciation: utt – most
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
We’ve all been there – sitting across a desk from a complete stranger who will likely have a pivotal role in the future of our career.
Somehow these moments seem astoundingly surreal. After countless hours of study, internships and years of planning, your career journey has culminated in this one powerful conversation. Interviews can prove to be one of the most challenging of work life basics, where many of us would prefer an option to fast forward through the entire process.
Our problems with interviewing could be aptly described as complicated and deeply rooted. But, truth be told, many of our issues stem from how the entire process makes us feel; there is a lurking fear of being judged, a fear of the unknown and a fear of failure.
In many cases, there is the tendency for us to perceive that we have little control over the situation, when in fact we can contribute more to the equation than we realize consciously. This recognition can prove pivotal in mastering the process. Ultimately, we can prepare ourselves, by owning the elements that we can impact, including strategies to crystallize our career identity and bolster confidence. This requires us to take a look inward.
Here are a few ideas to help you align with this challenge:
Be authentic. The goal of an interview is to assess whether there is a match between you and the role in question. Be mindful of how you present yourself in the interview, remembering that you have a voice concerning the potential match. Rule No. 1: Be true to yourself. What do you really need to excel? Think of key workplace elements and what you require, making a promise to seek these out. (For example, ideal supervisory style, whether or not you thrive on a team or the amount of travel you can live with). Try not to drastically alter your “workplace success blueprint” during an interview, or you may find yourself in a role that ultimately does not suit you.
Hone your work life purpose. There is nothing more engaging than an impassioned viewpoint concerning work and career. Remember that in today’s world of work, employers are not only interested in your education, experience and skill set – they are evaluating the level of energy and directed thought that you will bring to the role (and the industry) in question. Sharing a bit of your direction allows a potential employer to see how you might develop and what you will bring to the table.
Adjust your body language. This may come as a surprise, but you can alter your interview experience through body language. Research completed by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, details how taking a physical “power pose” shortly before an interview can positively alter interviewer evaluations (see the Ted Talk). Power posing also appears to affect us physiologically, raising testosterone levels and lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Pay attention to your body before your next interview. Are you sitting in a pose that appears small or closed? Adopt a power pose that reflects an increased level of confidence – it can affect your presence during the interview.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Clearly, you need to ramp it up to have any chance to land a new job. Competition is fierce, so you need to be ready to approach your job search differently from the other equally qualified applicants who want the same position as you.
Alan Corey, author of “The Subversive Job Search,” suggests you take it up a notch so you’ll be sure to have the best chance possible. How can you stand out subversively? Corey suggests trying the following:
1. Appear to be gainfully employed, even if you aren’t. You’ve likely seen statistics or heard people talk about how much more difficult it is to get a job when you don’t have a job. It’s ironic, but some employers do prefer to hire people who are not actively looking for work because they are already employed. Short of actually landing a job, what can you do to overcome this hurdle? Corey suggests you consider freelancing, by finding work online at sites such as Elance.com or Odesk.com. While the pay may be lower than you’d like, you’ll be actively engaged in projects that will keep you active in your field. And Corey notes, “When asked in an interview if you are currently working, you can reply in the affirmative.”
2. Target your application materials; don’t try to be a “Jack-of-all-trades.” It’s tempting to approach your job search broadly and list everything you’ve ever done on your résumé so you look well rounded. However, Corey says he believes you run the risk of appearing to be someone who can’t do one thing very well. Instead, he says, “Having some repetitive work-flow responsibilities and experiences on your résumé singles you out as an expert or industry veteran and thus, a top candidate.”
3. SEO your résumé. Search engine optimization is not just for websites. Corey notes: “Make it easy for employers to find you on LinkedIn and in résumé databases by using searchable keywords and phrases on your résumés.”
Use the terms your employers are most likely to search. For example, Corey suggests: “Use ‘MBA’ instead of ‘Master of Business Administration’ or ‘PMP’ instead of (or in addition to) ‘Project Management Professional.’” Research the best terms by viewing an array of job descriptions and by carefully reading online publications related to your industry and target companies. In-person research can also provide great insights into the key issues facing your industry and the keywords employers use to describe those concerns.
4. Be future focused. Job seekers don’t often consider the fact that the résumé is about the future more than it is about the past. While your job descriptions are important, it’s more important to connect directly with what your future employer wants. Corey suggests you commit to credentials and to getting the skills and experience you need to demonstrate the direct connections between the employer’s needs and what you offer.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The spring days are getting longer and warmer, flowers are sprouting, and recent economic reports show signs that the economy is bouncing back to life at long last. Now is the time to dispense with winter’s funk, take a breath of fresh air, and put some spring into your step.
You can reflect in your actions and personality the sense of newness and possibility inherent in this season. Here are five ways you can use this season to spring forward your job hunt:
1. Embrace the process. Put simply, it takes a lot of work to get work. It would be great if you could just post a resume on a job board, have your skills and accomplished noticed, and be recruited for the job of your dreams. Sometimes it happens like that, but less than 10 percent of jobs get filled this way. Instead, for the vast majority, this method is nothing more than a lazy person’s pipe dream.
Take a fresh look at what you have been doing. Ask yourself: “What has been working, what isn’t working, and what can stand some improvement?” With this insight, you can successfully reboot your job hunt. If you embrace the process of establishing a solid strategy, building your personal brand, targeting jobs that you’re highly qualified for, networking in-person, and working social networks like LinkedIn, you will energize your hunt.
2. Share the joy of others’ success. By monitoring your LinkedIn status feed you will often see people in your network post new positions they’ve landed. Use their success as an opportunity to touch base and offer your congratulations. You might ask what they did that helped them in their search the most, and in the course of conversation remind them of specific connections that they can help you establish.
3. Break out of your shell. This is the season of college alumni gatherings, professional organization programs and community events. You never know in advance how a common school bond, interest in a professional development program or shared concern for a nonprofit’s cause can build or boost a relationship. But it happens all the time.
This is also a great time to check out Meetup.com for groups in your area. The site makes it easy to sort events by date, location (within five or 10 miles of your zip code) and common interest/activity. Groups abound not only in Career and Business categories, but also in just about any other interest, hobby, cause or activity imaginable.
4. Volunteer. In springtime, nonprofit organizations push to obtain new volunteers for their programs and fundraising efforts. It’s great to get some volunteer experience on your resume, especially if by doing so you’re somehow utilizing your professional skills.
Offering your time and talent to a great cause or group is a proven path not only for “doing good,” but for your own professional development. Often, organizations hire people who have volunteered with them. Moreover, it is a way for you to create relationships with others involved with the organization, including donors or other participants who have connections in their own businesses and elsewhere.
Friday, May 10, 2013
It’s college commencement season. Across the country, moms and dads, grandparents, and other family members are gathering on campus quads, football fields, and in basketball arenas to celebrate a rite of passage for the Class of 2013.
The graduates are now ready for the next stage of their life—a job (hopefully), their parents’ basement (maybe), graduate school, law school, or maybe the Peace Corps or Teach for America. They’re definitely older than when they went off to college. They’re probably heavier. And with a bit of luck, they’re more mature than when they left high school.
But did these graduates actually learn anything in college to deserve that diploma?
There’s much debate these days about the return on investment of a college education. Much of that conversation is focused on what students spend on college compared to what they get in return in terms of a salary. But if the purpose of college is to get an education, why don’t we measure the return on investment in terms of what students learn in college? After all, it’s the learning that we’re actually paying for when we write tuition checks, not training for a job that might be obsolete in two years.
Here’s the problem: we don’t know for sure how much students learn in college. As much as we spend on college, no bottom-line evaluation method exists for measuring what actually happens in the classroom and how that eventually translates into the value of the degree. Sure, there are the U.S. News & World Report rankings, but they mostly measure the students on their way in the door (how many students a college rejected, SAT scores) or how much colleges spend on faculty or students.
As much as colleges say they dislike the U.S. News rankings, they prefer them to any alternative that might try to rank colleges on how much students learn. Many colleges would like to keep prospective students and parents in the dark when it comes to how much value they end up adding to a student’s life.
There are now ways to measure learning, chief among them the Collegiate Learning Assessment. Known as the CLA, the essay-only test gives students a set of materials and asks them to synthesize evidence and write a persuasive argument. More than five hundred colleges use the exam to measure their curriculum and teaching, although few release the results, or even averages, publicly.
There are reasons they don’t want the public to know the truth. A few years ago, two researchers tracked a representative sample of 2,300 students at 24 colleges and universities who took the CLA three times in their college careers: at the beginning of their freshman year, at the end of their sophomore year, and finally, before graduation.
The study’s bottom line: 45 percent of students in the study made no gains in their writing, complex reasoning, or critical-thinking skills during their first two years of college. After four years, the news wasn’t much better: 36 percent failed to show any improvement.
The main reason for this, the researchers found, was a lack of rigor. Through surveys they learned that students spent about 12 hours a week studying on average, much of that time in groups. Most didn’t take courses that required them to read more than 40 pages a week or write more than 20 pages over the course of an entire semester.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Declaring that you’ve reached “inbox zero” is a status symbol of productivity in the modern workforce.
It’s the new, “I just cleaned out my closet and donated 5 bags of old clothes to Goodwill.” Something to be admired, aspired to, and bragged about. Like cleaning out your home, clearing out your inbox feels great - like you’ve cleared your debts, decluttered your existence, and you no longer owe anyone anything. You can breathe a bit easier. At least for a minute or so, until another email comes in, and you’re no longer at inbox zero.
Unanswered emails weigh on the soul. I know that sounds melodramatic, but when you know you have hundreds (or in some cases, thousands) of unread messages, and you know people are waiting for responses, it can weigh on you and make it difficult to truly ever “unplug.”
It’s hard to motivate yourself to take on such a daunting, overwhelming task on your own. I procrastinated for months cleaning out my garage at home. But this weekend, when my husband turned to me and said, “Let’s have a garage cleaning party!” it suddenly became a fun, social thing. We drank beer, played music, and laughed about random old stuff we found. Just like that, cleaning our home and getting rid of our junk didn’t feel like a chore anymore.
So why not apply that philosophy to taming your inbox?
Gather a group of colleagues after-hours at work or invite a few friends over to your house and block off a few hours for an “inbox cleaning party.”
Bring out the wine, blast a great playlist, vent about how you hate drowning in email – and then focus the next few hours on clearing out as many messages as you possibly can, while sharing funny messages you find, or pro-tips you discover along the way.
Friday, May 10, 2013
What are the differences between happy people and unhappy people?
Of course, it should be very obvious: happy people are happy while unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct.But, we want to know what happy people do differently, so I have put together a list of things that happy people do differently than unhappy people.
1. Love vs. Fear
Well, I can tell you for sure that those people who are really happy, fear less and love a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.
2. Acceptance vs. Resistance
Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence.
When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it (they know that this will make the situation even worse), but they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? And then they focus on the positive, rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full, no matter what happens to them.
3. Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness
Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha
4. Trust vs. Doubt
They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. Whether they are talking to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a billion-dollar company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel that there is something unique and special about them. They understand that beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies.
Because of that, they make sure to treat everyone with love, dignity and respect, and make no distinction between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
5. Meaning vs. Ambition
They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because it gives their lives a sense of purpose. They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” as Wayne Dyer says.
And they care more about living a life full of meaningthan what, in our modern society we would call, living a successful life. The irony here is that most of the time they get both success and meaning because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart‘s desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.
6. Praising vs. Criticizing
Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, rather, they know by praising the person and the behavior they wish to reinforce (even if it’s not often), they will actually encourage the positive behavior.
When a parent wants to make sure their 7 year old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, they make sure not to focus on the many times the child didn’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent praises him and his behavior and that is exactly how they reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end get the wanted results.
7. Challenges vs. Problems
Happy people will see problems as challenges, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lay many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.
8. Selflessness vs, Selfishness
They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness to the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.
Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted. ~Buddha
9. Abundance vs. Lack/ Poverty
They have an abundant mindset, living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.
10. Dreaming Big vs. Being Realistic
These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.
Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. ~Goethe
11. Kindness vs. Cruelty
They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
6 Tips to Help New Grads Land Job Offers
It’s been reported that more than half of the nation’s recently minted college graduates are either jobless or underemployed. That’s the highest percentage in over a decade. Some grads, though, have landed their dream jobs with great companies. What sets these applicants apart from the pack?
My company, Millennial Branding, partnered with Experience, Inc., to find out. Our study on the student employment gap asked 225 employers what they look for when hiring for entry-level positions.
Among the findings, while internships are important, they’re not everything—and having an internship is certainly no guarantee that you’ll get a job offer. The majority of companies surveyed want students to have one or two internships, yet most internships don’t turn into full-time positions. Furthermore, only about half of the companies said they’d hired at least one intern in the past six months.
In order to get a job out of college these days, new grads should be overachievers with internships and other real-life business experience, and they should expect to have to go above and beyond the typical job search. Based on our findings, here are some ways to build your resume and position yourself to create the best odds of getting a job offer:
1. Develop your “soft skills.” Sure, technical skills and experience are great. But in the study, we found that when hiring for entry-level positions, almost all employers view communication and teamwork skills, as well as having a positive attitude, as being important or very important. These “soft skills” demonstrate how well an applicant will fit into the corporate culture, and give an indication of how long a new hire will stay at the company—and whether or not the individual is management material down the line. “Employers understand that everything else can be taught, so they look for the most promising raw material to work with,” says Jennifer Floren, the Founder and CEO of Experience, Inc. The best way to develop your soft skills is to become more self-aware, and to get feedback on how you come across from the people you trust who work in your desired field. Also, actively put yourself in situations where you’re communicating with others in-person. Interacting online isn’t enough.
2. Search using every resource possible. A lot of students and young professionals think that social networking via Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like is the best route to finding a job. Yet our research reveals that only 16% of employers recruit on social networks all or most of the time. Nearly half (48%), meanwhile, utilize job boards, and 44% use employee referrals. My advice is to use all of the above in your job search—social networks, job boards, career fairs, your personal and professional network, and every other option under the sun. What works for you might not work for someone else, and vice versa. Ask family and friends for referrals too, and don’t feel embarrassed about it.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Graduation is looming closer and instead of being excited about this rite of passage, your chest tightens up with anxiety whenever you think about it. Here is some career advice for those who are about to face the real world
Lighten your load: It may be too late to do so, but your last quarter or semester should have the lightest class load. You should start reducing your commitments if you haven’t already, start devoting less time to social and extracurricular activities, and put more of a focus on things that will help you with your job hunt.
Set up a LinkedIn: By now, you should already have a LinkedIn account and have already been working on juicing it up. Ask former and current co-workers, professors, and students you’ve worked with in a professional capacity to write a recommendation for you on the professional networking site.
Network: Go out there and network as much as you can. Meet people and tell your friends and family that you’re looking for a job. Use LinkedIn to your advantage to see if you have any connections that can internally refer you to the company of your dreams.
Go on practice interviews: Even if you don’t want the job, take the interview for practice purposes. The more you repeat your story and answers, the more naturally it’ll come to you. With practice, you’ll be able to better answer questions and think critically on the spot.
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