On the Job provides helpful information and advice from America's favorite workplace columnist. Anita Bruzzese is a nationally syndicated columnist on the workplace and award-winning journalist. She has addressed audiences on topics ranging from taking control of your career, avoiding workplace blunders and responsible business blogging.
The working world seems much more casual these days, with technology executives wearing hoodies to meetings and employees drinking beer in the break room on Friday afternoons. But that casual atmosphere doesn’t necessarily translate to the job search process, and taking a too-casual approach can make you seem rude, unprofessional – and not worth hiring.
So, whether it’s learning how to shake hands properly or cleaning up your social media profile, it’s time to learn the correct job seeking tips and techniques. Here are some of the things you need to think about:
1. Clean up your social media profiles
Before you ever begin your job search, you need to take a long, hard look at what you’ve posted online, and what others have posted about you. Since one in three employers have rejected job candidates because of something they have read about them online, you must make sure your various profiles are scrubbed clean of anything that could be deemed controversial (passed-out-drunk photos from a frat party, for example).
Sitting down to build a resume may be tougher than you initially think.
There’s a lot to consider: for example, have how many skills should you list on a resume? Which relevant experiences and professional and educational accomplishments should you put the most focus on? Figuring out all of this translates to having to manage a delicate balancing act, one that’s dictated by the employer’s specific needs, and the sometimes rigid specificities of an ATS. To improve your chances of your resume making an impression (and getting into human hands), you need to avoid some of the most common resume mistakes:
1. Resume lacks focus and doesn’t grab the reader
Employers screen resumes for as few as six seconds, so it’s important that you build a resume that shows the employer at a glance what you want to do and what you’re good at doing. To sharpen your resume’s focus, include a summary at the top, underneath your header. This draws the reader (read more here)
If you could spend 40 to 50 hours per week with a handful of (living) people, who would you pick?
Chances are you are going to say your significant other, best friend, some famous actor or actress and possibly even your favorite bartender.
It's unlikely you will choose to spend so many hours with people you don't know well -- and on the surface seem like people who are weird or boring or both.
But isn't that we all do every week at work? Spend a great portion of our time with people we don't know well -- and judge to be less than ideal?
In the workplace, you're asked to be on teams with people who have different backgrounds, ideas and skills. You may feel you have nothing in common with these people, and that can make your job more miserable than it needs to be. Or, it could be that you feel you're the "different" one and can't seem to connect with colleagues.
There's a lot of advantages to finding more ways to connect with your co-workers. You will be happier. They will be happier. Work will be less stressful.
Let's look at some ways to make a friendlier connection at work:
1. Eat together. Sitting down at a table and eating together is one of the most effective ways to get to know someone in a more relaxed atmosphere. It's a chance for you to ask questions about non-work related matters, such as "What's your favorite food?" "What's the worst thing you've ever eaten?" "Are there any good restaurants I should try this weekend?" Ask colleagues to lunch or join them in the break room.
2. Talk about pop culture. Whether it's music, movies, television or books, people often have "favorites." You can say something like, "I see you're reading the latest Stephen King. Is this one you would recommend?" Or, you can try, "I'm looking for something new to watch on Netflix. Does anyone have a recommendation?"
3. Circulate. Don't sit down at your work station at 8 a.m. and only get up when it's time to go home. Move around periodically, stopping to compliment a great super hero poster in someone's cubicle or say, "I'm headed to Starbucks -- anyone want to tag along?" You don't want to interrupt people when they're obviously concentrating on a task, but make friendly overtures throughout the day and soon you will feel like you're among friends.
Sometime during your career, you may try working from home and take on independent gigs even if you have a stable job. The reasons may vary, such as wanting to earn some extra cash (hello, Bahamas vacation!) to "trying out" a new skill such as writing or graphic design.
There seems to be no shortage of online jobs being offered that let you work at home in your jammies while your kitty purrs nearby. Sounds great, doesn't it?
But the problem (aside from the fact that you never get out of your pajamas) is that there are people out there who want to ruin everything for you. They will try to scam you with fake job offers, lure you into giving them money or even try to steal all your personal information.
Before you fall into any of these traps, here's what you need to know about work-from-home jobs:
1. Look them in the eye. If someone wants to interview you about a job, you need to communicate via phone or email. Communicating only via text or instant message should be a red flag that the offer is a scam.
2. The big rush. No legitimate job offer should include the stipulation that you must accept the offer right now or lose out. The bad guys want to prevent you from thinking about it too much, and that's never a good idea.
3. Super-secret jobs. This is the job offer that no one else knows about, but this person (or recruiting company) seems to know about it and offers it to you. Be very careful, especially when the job is portrayed as being with the government. These offers also may include names of official-sounding government agencies, such as the Office of Budget Advancement, which doesn't exist.
4. Do your homework. Look up the employer online, looking for an address and phone number. Then, do a map search to see if the company is legitimate -- or does the address match a fried-chicken place when it's supposed to be an accounting company? Check out the company's "career" or "join us" section: Are there jobs being posted that match your job description? Also, do a "news" search of the company to see if anyone else seems to know of it's existence.
5. Protect your personal information. When posting your resume online, only include your email address. You become an easier target for scammers when you post your address or phone number. Never give out information like your Social Security number, bank account information or driver's license number until you've been hired by a legitimate company.
6. Never give them money. You're in this job hunt to earn money, not give it to scammers. Don't fall for the idea that you need to pay an "application fee" or for "training materials."
7. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I think I first heard this term when I was in second grade, and I've never found it to be false. If someone wants to pay you a lot of money for little work, then you need to move on.
8. Stay on your toes. Even if you are starting to get legitimate work, don't ever lull yourself into thinking a scam can't happen to you. I was a freelance journalist for more than 15 years when it happened to me, and it still makes me mad at myself when I think about it. I did some initial investigation, but I should have done more. Scammers are out there and working hard to destroy what you're trying to build. Don't let them.
Job scamming is an ongoing concern, so always keep abreast of the new scams and how they may be infecting different industries or sites. Do a regular search of "job scams" so you're up-to-date.
Should you quit your day job to launch your new start-up?
Some experts will say "yes" because they believe it's the only way you can devote the time and attention to your new venture that it requires. Giving it a halfhearted effort, they say, means you won't be successful.
On the other hand, other experts (including your mom) say that it's dumb to quit a paying gig for one that might -- or might not -- pay off.
A study from the University of Wisconsin may help you make up your mind. The researchers found that the best path may be to become a "hybrid entrepreneur," which means you slowly enter the entrepreneurial world, rather than just ditching your day job and jumping fully into the new venture.
Successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Wozniak have proven such a strategy to be successful as he worked at Hewlett-Packard for quite a while after co-founding Apple.
Another finding is that these hybrid entrepreneurs were 33% more likely to survive than those start-ups where the founders jumped in with both feet and quit their jobs.
It's clear that if you're launching a new business, you're willing to take a risk. So, don't let others convince you that you'll never be successful if you aren't willing to take a greater risk, such as quitting your job. Becoming a hybrid entrepreneur is a great way to realize your dream -- and keep paying the rent.
The temperatures are soaring in much of the country, and it's hard to have a "good" hair day when your're dripping sweat or the humidity is making you resemble a chia pet.
Having a terrible hair day can be distressing for many people, but it turns out it can also affect your ability to manage well or to get along with others at work.
According to studies by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, researchers say that when you believe you're attractive (having a good hair day), then you tend to believe that you're in a higher social class and believe that hierarchies make sense when it comes to the organization of people or groups. You believe that people who are lower in the hierarchy are there because they deserve to be, and also because they're less attractive.
This may have some real implications for the workplace. For example, a boss who believes he or she is attractive (probably having a good hair day) believes that those on the team who are further down in the organization are at that level not because they didn't get a chance, but because they simply aren't talented enough -- or didn't put in much effort.
Here's where it gets really interesting: When study participants were asked to just remember bad-hair days, they were more likely to see inequality as an issue. But when asked to recall a day when a good-looking date smiled in their direction, they were all about hierarchies.
There have been other studies that look at the effect that physical attractiveness has on the workplace, such as beautiful people doing better in their careers. Many workers may have felt helpless if they didn't fit the "norm" of conventional beauty standards.
But this research shows that workers may have more power than they believe. Next time you need to do well at work -- such as a big presentation -- think of a time when you felt attractive. That will help you boost yourself up the ladder mentally and that can help you interact with others by "reframing what you see as your place in the social hierarchy," says Margaret Neale, one of the researchers.
When you're a manager trying to get team members to work together better, you would be wise to look at the "status" of each worker before asking them to help one another.
A study by The Ohio University's Fisher College of Business finds that you're going to get the best results from team collaboration by asking those a "moderate" distance in status from one another to collaborate.
Why? Researchers say if Bob, for example, perceives Randall as near him in status, then Bob sees Randall as a threat. Bob worries that Randall could overtake him in status if he does well.
On the other hand, if Jean perceives Kate as someone below her in status, then she may worry that Kate will require a lot of time and effort from her. So, Jean may not want to devote all that time to Kate because it will hurt her own career.
The real key for managers seeking effective collaboration on a team may be putting together workers who don't see one another too close or too far in terms of status.
"You might want to avoid assigning the most recently hired employee to train the newcomer," he said. "If that relative newcomer is worried about his or her status in the organization, they may be less than helpful with this new person who could surpass them," says Robert Lount, a study co-author. "Someone who is moderately successful, but not the top performer on the team, might be the most willing to help."
It's the middle of summer, and no one right now is really thinking about decorating a Christmas tree, the holiday office party or baking cookies for colleagues.
That's why it's a perfect time to do so.
I don't mean that you should drag out the tree and start hanging tinsel, but I do mean that it's a great time to put yourself in the holiday frame of mind. The reason? You'll impress the heck out of your boss, endear yourself to colleagues and score major points with your network. All major accomplishments that will pay off for a long time.
When you channel the holidays in June or July, it means that you buy cards and write a nice note to your boss: "I just wanted to take the time to let you know how much I appreciate the support you've given me this year. I'm looking forward to all the adventures to come!" Or, you give your colleagues each a gift card to their favorite coffee shop with a smile and say, "I just thought you might enjoy this." To your network, you phone or send an email, telling them you appreciate them, catching them up on your latest news and then asking: "What can I do to help you?"
Face it: The end of the year is crazy. Writing thoughtful notes and taking time to reach out to everyone is often just one more thing to cross off your "to-do" list. Instead of those tasks becoming a joyful thing that allows you to reconnect to people, it's become another drag on your time.
This summer, take some time to really give to others. It will not only pay off for you professionally, but personally.
I think we can all agree that there are a lot of distractions in our lives. But what you may not realize is that those distractions are hurting your career.
The biggest problem is that when others are distracted, they're not listening to you. If they're not listening to you, then it's going to affect your ability to get your job done, to impress the people you need to impress and to ensure they don't drop the ball and get you into trouble.
Here are some ways to make sure others listen to you: 1. Pick the right time. Don't try and talk to someone who is rushing for the elevator, has just had a difficult meeting or is eating lunch and watching cat videos. If you're not sure, just ask. 2. Be specific. "Hi Dan. I need five minutes of your time to discuss why the new deadline for the project won't work, and give you three other options. Can we talk now or is it better in about an hour?" Chances are good he'll pick to talk to you now since he knows you've got some solutions and won't take more than five minutes. 3. Get attention. Yes, it does feel disrespectful when the other person keeps glancing at his or her computer screen or phone when you're trying to talk. So, pause and say "Is this not a good time for you? I just wanted to talk about this because the customer is so upset and I'm concerned it may cause a problem with...." If the other person still isn't listening, say, "OK, I can see this isn't a good time. I'm going to come back in 30 minutes when you're free to talk." You've sent up a warning flare -- but let the person know you're going to keep at this until he listens to you. The odds are in your favor that he's going to give you the attention you need.
Fashion experts often advise that any outfit will look much better if you have it tailored – and that advice holds true for resumes as well.
When you build a resume, know that a tailored one is going to be one that “fits” the needs of a particular employer. Tailoring your resume makes you look much more desirable as a job candidate. Also: tailoring a resume to each and every job you apply to is an absolute must. Unsure of how to tailor a resume for a specific job? Look at the specific requirements of the job ad and try to address those points directly. Also—mimic the language used in the job ad when writing your resume. Continue reading for additional must-know info on this topic.
When considering how to tailor a resume for a specific job, toss out the rehash of job duties and responsibilities that might be profiled in your existing resume. Try to think in more detail. For example, if you worked in human resources, did you work on specific software? Did you work with various departments to plot their hiring strategy, and then craft job descriptions? Listing nothing but your duties and responsibilities does nothing for your resume, nor does it do anything for the recruiter or hiring manager who will read it (besides bore them). You must prove that you delivered results in previous or current roles (more on this soon).
Before we go much further, know this — you likely won’t have to write a new resume from scratch for each employer. A lot of your resume will remain the same — most likely, your resume heading (which contains your contact information); your education section; and past employers and dates worked for past employers.
The key to how to tailor a resume for a specific job is starting with a solid, well-written,