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What Your Interview Body Language Reveals About You

Poor body language can derail an interview regardless of how confident and well-spoken you are. Body language is as much a part of your communication style as what you say verbally—it's really about how you say it. Impressions are made within seconds of reviewing body language.

Consider the first step to entering an interview—the handshake. While it may take less than 10 seconds to complete a handshake, in that time, the interviewer has already developed an impression of your character based on eye contact and the firmness of your shake. A weak handshake and lack of eye contact can leave the impression you are timid and insecure. A sincere and firm handshake with eye contact expresses professionalism and confidence. An overpowering handshake with a fixed gaze may come across as overconfident and arrogant. So, be cautious with your next handshake and start the interview off with a positive impression.

In an interview, body language is present from head to toe. Consider the following...


Whether you are sitting or standing, your posture projects a level of confidence and engagement in the conversation. When one slumps, it implies to the interviewer a lack of confidence and interest. Sitting stiff as a rock implies nervousness and it creates an uncomfortable situation for building rapport. Sitting at the tip of the chair implies you don't want to be there. Lying back on the chair with your ankle on top of your other knee may appear unprofessional and too relaxed. In general, crossing your arms and legs may be interpreted as building a barrier.

To project professionalism, confidence, and engagement, consider sitting on the chair with your lower back touching or close to the back panel while leaning 10 degrees forward. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap or on the table, and your feet grounded on the floor. When standing, avoid crossing your arms or placing them in your pockets. The point is to project a balanced posture that is not limp or overly stiff.

Eye Contact

Eye contact allows you and the interviewer to connect beyond words alone. However, there is a fine balance between good eye contact and when eye contact becomes a weird gaze or stare that can make the other person feel uncomfortable. When you stare without having breaks in between, a casual conversation can come across as a lecture.

Whether you are listening or speaking, maintain eye contact with your interviewer for a couple of seconds at a time (no more than 7 to 10 seconds) and then glance away before returning eye contact again. If you are looking down to take notes, look up occasionally, especially when it appears a special point is being made or when you are asked a question.


Speed, tone, and pitch combined make an impression. Talking too fast can be hard to understand and appear as nervousness. When your tone projects apology or defense, you can come across as unconfident and insecure. When you don't make changes between your tone and pitch, you can sound monotone, making it more difficult for the other person to stay engaged.

Learn to take control of your voice. If you are nervous, it can come across in your pitch, so take a breath to help you relax before speaking. Be conscious of your tone and pitch to offer variation and to help emphasize certain points.


Some people have a tendency to bobble their heads as a gesture of agreement, but when you nod in excess during a conversation, it becomes a distraction and can be interpreted as though you are agreeing on everything for the sake of wanting to please. You can lose credibility in such instances.

To avoid appearing like a bobblehead, nod occasionally to show you are still engaged and have control over how you nod. You can also tilt your head slightly to the side as though you are trying to listen more carefully as another way to show you are engaged.


There are people who do certain things out of habit, such as flaring their arms while talking, twirling their hair, playing with a pen in hand, rocking back and forth on a chair, and shaking or thumping their feet. Many of these actions occur unconsciously; however, these are distractions to the person you are speaking to and may be perceived as signs you are bored or have trouble focusing. Some people also touch their nose or face frequently when they are nervous. An interviewer may perceive this as a sign you are not being totally honest.

Be conscious of what you do with your hands, legs, and feet and that will help you take control of your movements. Be aware of your own body language and also read your interviewer's body language to give you hints about how they are responding to you.

The interview may start very formal, but as you both become acquainted with one another, the mood may relax and you may adapt your body language to reflect what you sense from the interviewer. There is no absolute rule around body language, but it would be wise to avoid any chance of being misinterpreted.

You can properly prepare your body language before heading into an interview by watching yourself in the mirror act out how you introduce yourself and speak. Another helpful way is to have a friend or colleague interview you and record the entire session. Review how you present yourself and become aware of problem areas to adjust before your interview.

Need more help preparing for your next job interview?

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 1 day 10 hours ago

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5 Traits Of People Who Are Respected At Work (And Get The Most Career Opportunities)

I had a sad career coaching call with an extremely successful woman recently. When she told me her career story, which I have all my clients do, her story was riddled with a highway of situations where she was taken advantage of, where she wasn't given the respect that she deserved.

As a career coach, I have each person tell me their career story because I can always tell, based on the story, where your sticking points and roadblocks are. And for this woman, it clearly was getting herself into situations where they wouldn't respect her. She was almost in tears while telling me this, but she was still so professional, and then she said, "What is it going to take, JT? What is it going to take for me to get into one of these environments and not be taken advantage of?"

I didn't want to give her a pat answer, so I said I was going to sleep on it and then come back and tell her the traits I see in people who are respected at work and, therefore, get the best career opportunities. I want to share those five traits with you because I think it's important that everyone hear them.

1. They See Themselves As A Business-Of-One.

The first trait I see in people who are respected at work is they always see themselves as a business-of-one. They don't work for a company. They work with them. They partner with them. Therefore, right out of the gate, there's mutual respect. Then, if they start disrespecting you, you can have a conversation and tell them that they're either going to get this right or you're going to go find a new partner because you're not going to be treated that way. You're not going to allow yourself to be treated that way. It's about setting boundaries and addressing the disrespect before it gets out of hand. Respected employees are able to communicate these boundaries without being harsh.

2. They Aren't Complainers; They're Curious.

The second trait is they aren't complainers; they're curious. Nobody likes to work with complainers. The people who are respected at work don't walk in and dump a problem on a manager's desk. Instead, when they see a problem, they meet with people and they get curious. They ask questions. They try to understand. In fact, one of their favorite phrases to use is "help me understand." They ask clarifying questions to get to the source of the problem so that hopefully the people they're talking to can realize the problem, but if not, it gives them permission to then point it out and have a conversation.

3. They Ask Questions Instead Of Bossing People Around.

The third trait is they get really good at "ask, don't tell." They don't boss everyone around. They don't tell everyone what to do. They know how to ask questions so that things become other people's ideas and they get permission to then share their points of view, their ideas, and their perspectives. It's how they get buy-in. It's how they get consensus. And, again, it's how they gain and keep people's respect.

4. They Talk About Their Results, Not Their Character.

The fourth trait is they talk about their results. They don't talk about their character. You know that you have to be your biggest self-advocate in the workplace, and you're hired to save or make money. You're hired to solve problems and alleviate pain, so when you're talking about the results that you were able to get, when you're talking about what's actually valued, not that you were a great team player, etc., you'll stand out and be respected for the value that you create on the job. You're going to have to find strategic ways to talk about your results without bragging or sounding like a narcissist to make sure that people understand the quantifiable impact that you've had on the company, and the people who are respected at work do this well.

5. They Never Initially Disagree With Someone.

Lastly, the people who are respected at work never initially disagree with someone. This might be a hot take, but whenever they clearly disagree with someone, they don't say "I disagree." That's not how they lead the conversation. What they do instead is they find a commonality with the person, something they can agree on, and then they talk about that. These people know how to disarm somebody by talking about what they agree upon first before they discuss where they have differences or disagreements.

I'm sure there are more traits you could add to this list, but when I really looked at the people who are the most respected at work, who are incredibly successful and seem to get all the opportunities they want, they're doing these five things consistently in their careers. They have these five traits. And it's having an incredible impact on their brand.

If you're struggling with getting respect at work, I can help. Sign up for a Work It DAILY membership today (FREE for 7 days!).

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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 2 days 8 hours ago

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10 Ways Employees Can Be More Proactive At Work

Proactivity, as defined by organizational behavior, is “anticipatory, change-oriented, and self-initiated behavior in situations, rather than just reacting." When a person is proactive, they are acting in advance of a future event. Proactive employees typically don't need to be asked to do something, and will usually require less-detailed instructions.

Proactive behavior is applicable to either one's own role or to "extra role" responsibilities. Within one's own role, for example, a person may find a more efficient way to complete one or more of their responsibilities. Extra role responsibilities (i.e., those tasks outside of your stated job description) speak to an employee's organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). The proactive employee would, for example, initiate an offer to help their co-workers before they are asked to assist by either their colleagues or their manager.

The steps you can take to become more proactive at work apply to both your formal role and your part of the scope of the OCB within your team, your department, and your overall organization.

There are variations on the theme; however, the following behaviors are a common foundation for proactivity within all of the theories.

Organize | Take Stock | Be Positive

Proactivity requires that you be organized. That includes your mindset, your space, and, of course, your schedule! Organizing your time helps you approach tasks more efficiently and allows you to be more open to opportunities. This scheduling needs to include "downtime" for those activities that keep your life in balance.

A positive attitude is right up there on any list. Approaching tasks from a positive perspective encourages you to look for the best in every situation. It helps you become the employee who is "ready, willing, and able," who can always be counted on. A team player who is reliable and available will become the go-to person, the problem solver.

Take stock of your current responsibilities:

  • What are your tasks?
  • What are the priorities?
  • What can be consolidated, eliminated, or shortened?
  • What can you do to stay ahead of less urgent tasks?
  • How do you solve problems?
  • Can you prevent problems by planning ahead and developing alternative processes in anticipation?
  • What are the things you still need to know?
  • Can you automate any of your tasks to make them more effective and less time-consuming?
Communicate | Connect | Network

Find a role model by observing the leaders in your company. When possible, spend time with them to gain insight into their behaviors. Try out their techniques. Some will work for you, others will not. You'll need to fine-tune what you acquire so that you are able to build your own repertoire.

Let others know that you want to be more involved. You'll need to create your own opportunities. Don't wait to be asked—present your ideas to your management team.

Goals | Persistence | Excellence

Set goals for yourself. Write them down. List everything that you want to accomplish. Set deadlines. Once you have the end in mind, you can achieve your desired outcome. A series of small goals leading up to the completion of a large goal keeps tasks from becoming insurmountable.

Stay the course on how you want to accomplish your goals. This may require overcoming your fears and rising above obstacles or setbacks. You'll need to step outside of your comfort zone and become increasingly resilient.

Strive for excellence from start to finish. Commit yourself to always presenting your best work—your completed project with no loose ends. Be passionate about what you do. Give it your all. No matter what role you are assigned, you will be more effective when you put your full energy and effort into it.

Celebrate! | Be Flexible!

Celebrate your successes, big and small, as you move along your path to becoming more proactive!

Be flexible! You can't plan for every outcome, so being able to react to the unexpected is an important trait for the proactive person. It is about the awareness of the existence of choices, regardless of the situation or the context.

A proactive employee is often an indispensable employee. By exhibiting these 10 behaviors, you'll be known as the go-to person at work, a valuable business-of-one the company doesn't want to lose.

Need more help being proactive in your career?

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 5 days 10 hours ago

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4 Things Interviewers Rate You On

You want to demonstrate you have the experience and skills for the job. But what makes one candidate more favorable than the other when they both have the same type of experience and skills?

When this is the case, it often comes down to a job seeker's performance during the interview.

As a job seeker, it's important to understand what other areas interviewers consider when reviewing each candidate as a total package. Here are four areas interviewers rate you on...


Employers want a job candidate with a "can-do" attitude and who has a strong desire to work for the company. Make sure that comes through in your communication, from your cover letter, phone interview, and in-person interview to the thank-you note.

Throughout the entire process, you want to make it known that you remain highly interested in the position. When you are meeting in person, you can also use your body language to help demonstrate engagement and interest.

Communication Skills

A top trait that employers seek for every position is strong communication skills. Your ability to articulate what experience and skills you have to offer and how they can contribute to your future employer's success has to come through if you want to impress the interviewer.

People hire people they like so your job in the interview is to turn it into a conversation and be prepared to ask questions during the process. Keep in mind that a key part of communicating effectively has to do with intonation and body language. When your voice exhibits excitement and you're leaning forward and making eye contact, that is stressing to the interviewer you're communicating something of importance.

Technical Skills

The first thing an employer will do is determine if you have the requisite skills and experience for the position. Make sure you have studied the job posting, researched people at the company on LinkedIn, and know what they are looking for and how you can contribute.

When answering interview questions, use the "Experience + Learn = Grow" model to give examples of your key skill sets in action. This includes outlining a professional experience related to the question, talking about what you learned from the experience, and how you grew from it professionally.

Overall Fit For The Position

You need to demonstrate that you are a "good fit" for their organization. This is measured in two ways: your skill and competencies and your demeanor and personality. Once you have shown that your technical skills are there, they want to see if people will want to work with you. Don't be afraid to let some of your personality come out.

The interviewer wants to see your sense of humor, confidence level, and whether you come across as honest or fake. The right combination of all those qualities will inform the interviewer if you're the right fit for the job, and also for the company's culture.

So, while you prepare for your interview to demonstrate you have what it takes to do the job, don't forget to impress the interviewer with these other factors that will differentiate you from the other job candidates who may have similar experience and skills. The more prepared you are for the job interview, the more confident you will be, and the more likely you'll make a great impression on the hiring manager.

Need more help with your job search?

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 6 days 8 hours ago

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Are You FUNGIBLE? (Hint: You Don't Want To Be In Today's Labor Market)

In 2008, I read Bloomberg Businessweek's article entitled “Management by the Numbers” in which they review how IBM has been building mathematical models of its own employees with an aim to improve productivity and automate management. I’ll let you read it and draw your own conclusions, but I realized that this article still rings true today.

After reading this article so many years ago, I learned a new workplace term that they’re using over at IBM. "Fungible" is a word used to describe workers who are “virtually indistinguishable from others” in terms of the value of their contributions in the workplace.

You see, IBM’s study is enabling them to identify top performers from average ones, with the latter being fungible—and I would assume that translates into expendable as well. In a time where layoffs continue to make the headlines, I guarantee management teams all over the country are getting in rooms and saying, “Who’s fungible on the payroll right now?”

Okay, so they are most likely not using the term—but they are having that discussion, I assure you.

How To Be Indispensable (Not Fungible)

Employees must get on the ball and start doing two things if they want to keep their jobs:

  1. Produce quantifiable results that tie to the financial success of the company
  2. Market their success to those who determine if they are fungible

So if you’ve been on autopilot when it comes to assessing your professional strengths, building your career identity, and marketing your personal brand (if you are unfamiliar with the career development terms I just used, suffice to say you’ve been on autopilot), then I encourage you to get started.

It takes a lot more to get and keep a good job these days, and there’s a whole new way to manage your career. If you need help learning how to be indispensable in your career so you don't end up fungible, sign up for a Work It DAILY membership today. Getting the career help you need has never been easier.

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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5 Questions To Ask Your Employer If You Get Laid Off

When you get laid off, many questions go through your head. You may ask yourself, "Why me? How will I tell my family? What will I do now?"

Layoffs happen to almost everyone. If you haven't been laid off before, consider yourself lucky. Whether you saw the layoff coming or were completely blindsided by it, there are a handful of things you should know before you begin to looking for your next job.

Here are five questions you need to ask your employer if you get laid off:

1. When Will I Receive My Last Paycheck & How Will I Get It?

Money will probably be one of the first things on your mind when you get laid off. You'll want to ask your employer when and how you will get your last paycheck. They need to give this to you immediately or within your next pay cycle.

Some employers may try to stop direct deposit, so you need to make sure they have your current address if they are mailing you the check instead.

2. Will I Get Paid For Any Outstanding Vacation Or Personal Time?

Chances are you'll have outstanding vacation or personal time if you get laid off suddenly. Should you be getting compensated for that?

Your employee handbook should outline the exact policy and procedure for this type of situation, but you should also ask your employer in the event they are not paying this but are legally supposed to. That way, you can point out the extra pay you are due per your contract.

3. How Long Will My Medical Benefits Last & When Will I Be Eligible For COBRA?

Health insurance coverage is another big question when you get laid off. You'll need to ask your employer how long your medical benefits will last, and how long you have before you'll have to pay the COBRA premiums, which are much more expensive.

Your employer should give you someone to contact about this as well.

4. Am I Eligible For Rehire If There Is A Position Available In The Future?

This is the most important question to ask when you get laid off. If they say you aren't eligible for rehire, it means they aren't listing you as a laid-off employee. Instead, they're listing you as fired, which could impact your ability to collect unemployment.

Trust us—this happens to people and they don't find out until their unemployment claim gets rejected.

5. Will I Receive Outplacement Services To Help Me With My Job Search?

Outplacement services help people find new jobs after they get laid off. Most higher-level managers and executives get career coaching services when they get laid off. Meanwhile, the average professional doesn't usually know to ask for these services.

Studies show that people who get outplacement get hired 2.5 times faster than those who don't. If the company says they aren't offering outplacement, ask if they would be willing to reimburse you for a subscription to an outplacement service like Work It DAILY.

The career coaching Work It DAILY offers is virtual and costs a fraction of traditional outplacement. If you get laid off, you should push for outplacement because it also helps your employer avoid discrimination lawsuits.

Ask if anyone in the company is getting outplacement. If so, then you should get the same.

Getting laid off is never easy. If it happens to you, make sure to ask your employer these five questions so you can prepare yourself for the job search ahead.

Think a Work It DAILY subscription would help you after a layoff? Sign up for our 7-day free trial today.

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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What Should & Shouldn't Be On Your LinkedIn Profile

A well-optimized LinkedIn profile is a necessity in today's job search. But what is acceptable to put on your LinkedIn profile and what is best left off it?

The biggest mistake job seekers make when creating and updating their LinkedIn profiles is not adding enough of the "right" information. But there are still a few things that don't belong on your profile, which will hurt your chances of standing out to recruiters and building your professional network.

First, let's discuss what shouldn't be on your LinkedIn profile before we talk about what should.

What Shouldn't Be On Your LinkedIn Profile

"Actively Seeking Opportunities"

Never, and we mean never, put "actively seeking opportunities" in your LinkedIn headline or anywhere on your LinkedIn profile. Your headline should include keywords that display your hard skills and expertise (and your current position, if applicable)—that's it. If this phrase appears in your LinkedIn headline, not only does it look desperate, but you're losing valuable real estate to optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords that help you get found by recruiters and hiring managers.

An Unprofessional (or Unfriendly) Profile Picture

Your LinkedIn profile needs a photo. Not having a photo at all is mistake number one. But mistake number two is having an unprofessional or unfriendly profile picture. The photo you choose to include on your LinkedIn profile should be one where you look professional and approachable. Others will be more willing to reach out and connect with you if you do.

Outdated Skills & Technologies

Recruiters will be more likely to skip your profile if the skills and technologies you have listed are no longer relevant or in demand in your industry. It doesn't matter your age; being relevant is all about how you market yourself. You are a business-of-one. Your reputation and success as a business-of-one are dependent on how relevant you're able to stay in the job market. So, don't include those outdated skills and technologies on your LinkedIn profile. Instead, focus on developing new skills and learning new technologies every day. After all, if you want to win, you've got to work it daily.

Politics & Religion

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but just in case you were wondering, no, politics and religion do not belong on your LinkedIn profile. Do you really gain anything by including them? No. Could including them negatively impact your job search or career? Yes. The solution? Keep those topics for a social media site that's not geared toward professional networking.

What Should Be On Your LinkedIn Profile

Lots of Keywords (Skills, Skills, and More Skills)

As mentioned above, your LinkedIn profile should include as many keywords (hard skills) as possible. You should put them in your LinkedIn headline, add them in the "Skills & Endorsements" section, and list them in the "About" section underneath your summary.

A Short but Informative "About" Section

You don't want to write a novel here. Just a short paragraph, ideally your personal branding statement. No one is going to read a summary of your entire career. So, keep it concise. Don't write in the third person, either. After your summary, remember to list your hard skills!

Quantifiable Accomplishments

Another big mistake professionals make on their LinkedIn profiles is not quantifying their work experience, skills, and accomplishments. Numbers stand out to recruiters and hiring managers and make it easier for them to understand your efficiency and effectiveness in a certain role. Back up your statements with quantifiable information and see how much better your profile looks.


Not having any skills endorsed on your LinkedIn profile isn't terrible, but you should definitely ask some of your colleagues to endorse your most valuable skills because that will only help your reputation as a professional. You can endorse a couple of theirs, and they can endorse a couple of yours—that way everybody wins.

It's not always easy deciding what you should and shouldn't include on your LinkedIn profile. We hope this list helps you update your LinkedIn profile in the future, especially if you'll be conducting a job search or making a career change.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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3 Things You Should Do When You Get A Bad Performance Review

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that talks about the fact that people can expect harsher performance reviews going forward, and I have to agree with them. Therefore, I want to tell you three things that you should do if you get a bad performance review to help you protect your career.

1. Don't Take It Personally

When you get a negative performance review or you get a performance review with a lot of constructive feedback after getting great, positive performance reviews in the past, it might be due to shifts in the market.

I always tell my clients that problems trickle down in the workplace. Many companies are tightening their belts right now. They're changing strategies and trying to figure out what's going on, and so those problems become headaches to the leadership team and they're not just going to take the brunt of that themselves; they're going to push it down to the people that they're paying to help solve those problems and alleviate that pain.

Consequently, more people are going to be told that what they've been doing in the past isn't good enough anymore. Their company needs more from them. That's the trickle-down effect. Now, I want you to have the right frame of mind around this. Don't take it personally. This is business, and your "customer" that owns the business, that employs you, is telling you they've got changes and they need you to support them in those changes. So, try to stay objective when you get a bad performance review out of nowhere.

2. See How Your Boss Is Treating Other People

The second thing that I want you to do is see how your boss is treating other people. If you got a bad performance review but other people aren't getting that same feedback, if you're not hearing that other people got negative performance reviews, then I need you to be really careful because this could be the company starting to single you out for a restructure, layoff, or firing.

These types of situations are happening more and more now. What was good enough before is not good enough anymore. So, take a look around. Is everyone getting the same feedback? Or do you feel like you're being singled out? Because if you are, there's a good chance that your job might be at risk and I don't want you finding that out later. I want you to be more proactive, which leads to my last tip...

3. Get Your Job Search Tools Ready

The moment you see a shift in how others are treating you after a bad performance review, you need to increase your networking efforts and get your job search tools ready. Any good business knows that if they start to see a customer who's not satisfied or who's acting like they're not satisfied, you do what you can to make that customer happy again, but you also remember that customers have life cycles and this may be the end of the life cycle.

You don't want to be left without a customer. You don't want to be left without an income for your business-of-one. So, it's important that you update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Get ready to do informational interviews and start networking with people who work at companies you might want to work at. Just get that ball rolling. You never know—a great opportunity might come along and this might be the push that you need to make that change. But you want to be prepared. You don't want to start looking for work when you suddenly don't have a job, and for a lot of people, that's what's happening right now. I want you to protect yourself from that.

So, to recap...

  1. Change your frame of mind. Don't take it personally. Understand that problems trickle down.
  2. See how your boss is treating other people. Is this you being singled out as a performance problem? Or is everybody getting this feedback, and what can you do to fix it?
  3. Protect yourself. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Increase your networking. Do some passive job searching. Whatever it takes to protect your business-of-one so it always has an income.

I hope this information helps if you suddenly get a bad performance review at work. Remember these tips, and you'll protect your career.

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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18 Easy Conversation Starters For Networking Events

One of the hardest things about networking events is just getting a conversation going with someone—without being awkward about it. Approaching someone new can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. So, what are some natural and easy ways to break the ice?

Here are some tips and tricks for starting a conversation at a networking event.

Go Fishing At The Food Table

While waiting in line for food, start chatting up the person next to you. This is a great opportunity to get a conversation started because you already have something in common: the food. Everyone is thinking about the same thing. What am I going to try? What looks good? So instead of just standing there in silence, start a conversation.

Here are a few conversation starters for this situation:

  • "Oh man, everything looks so good. I'm not sure what to get! What are you thinking?"
  • "Yummy, they have ____! Have you ever tried it?"
  • "Hmm, I'm not quite sure what that dish you know?"
Who knows, you might leave the buffet with a better plate of food and a new contact! That's a win-win in our book.Find A Loner

If you see someone standing alone in the corner, clutching his or her drink, and looking miserable, don't be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself. Typically, these people need a little help getting the conversation going.

Here are some icebreakers:

  • "Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it's a little quieter?"
  • "Wow, there are a ton of people here! The food must be good, huh?"
If someone is standing alone, he or she is probably feeling uncomfortable or unconfident. If you initiate the conversation, it could make them feel more relaxed and willing to connect.Compliment Them

Everyone loves compliments, especially when they are feeling insecure (and many people do feel that way when attending networking events). If you're struggling to start a conversation with someone, find something to compliment.

Here are some ideas:

  • "Yum, that drink looks good. What is it?"
  • "Cute shoes! Where did you get them?"
Talk About Sports

People love talking about sports. If you're a sports person, use it to your advantage!

See someone wearing a Red Sox cap? Say something like, "Red Sox fan, huh? Did you catch the game yesterday?" Overhear a group of people talking about last night's game? Express your interest in the conversation by saying something like, "Are you talking about ____?" and then chime in.

Just Say Hello

Sometimes the easiest way to meet someone is to offer a handshake and say, "Hi, I'm Peter."

Simply introducing yourself with a smile and a dash of confidence can work wonders.

Keeping The Conversation Going

We know what you're thinking. Yes, yes, that's all well and good, but how can I keep the conversation going after the initial question? It's easy! Talk about something else you have in common—the event itself!

Here are some ideas:

  • "I'm Gina, by the way, nice to meet you..."
    • "So, is this your first time at one of these events?"
    • "So, how did you hear about this event?"
    • "What a great place for an event, huh? Have you ever been here before?"

After that, try learning more about them. Questions can include:

  • "Are you from the area?"
  • "What line of work are you in or trying to get into?"

Next step: get them talking. Remember, people generally like to talk about themselves. So once they tell you what they do, ask questions about it. Here are a few:

  • "That's very interesting..."
BONUS: Your Exit Strategy

It's that time: Your drink is dry and you're ready to move on. When the conversation starts to wind down, don't try to force more. Remember, you're there to mix and mingle. Don't chain yourself to one person all night.

If you'd like to exit a conversation, try one of these lines:

  • "Alright, I'm going to get some food now that the line has died down a bit. It was great meeting you!"
  • "Have you met Lisa? She works in your industry as well. I'm sure you both will have plenty to talk about. I've got to say hello to someone, but I'll be back."
  • "Well, I think it's time for me to head out. I would love to talk with you again, though! May I have your card/contact information?"

Remember these conversation starters (and enders) during your next networking event to get the most out of your time there. Happy networking!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date and was inspired by the author's personal experiences and the advice of Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room.

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Are You Committing Unemployment Insurance Fraud By Accident?

Unemployment insurance fraud takes place when an individual conceals or misrepresents some information to get or increase unemployment insurance payments.

Most often, unemployment insurance frauds imply making a false statement about one's work and earnings. Sometimes the cases can also include work refusals, unreported travel, check forgeries, identity theft, inability to work, incarceration, perjury, non-availability for work, incorrect claims for dependent allowance, etc.

Here's everything you need to know about unemployment insurance fraud.

Types Of Unemployment Insurance Fraud
  • Failing to report your employment. This includes cash jobs, commission, self-employment, 1099, or temporary.
  • Making a false statement or misrepresenting information to increase or receive benefits (e.g., not reporting school attendance when receiving benefits).
  • Not reporting your work refusals.
  • Fabricating job searches or not conducting a solid work search.
  • Not reporting a work separation.
  • Using another individual's identity (social security number and/or name) to work and file for insurance payments.
  • Failing to report being incapable and not available to work (e.g., sick or injured, abroad, etc.) and receiving benefits.
  • Not reporting other types of reimbursement (e.g., workers' compensation payments).
  • Helping somebody file a fraudulent insurance claim.
What Happens If You Commit Unemployment Insurance Fraud?

If you commit unemployment insurance fraud intentionally or accidentally (not knowing the regulations, etc.), you have to pay back all the benefits that you received plus a penalty (50% of that sum).

In most cases, a person is going to be disqualified from getting unemployment benefits in the future (minimum 6 weeks for every week of receiving benefits). There can also be imprisonment and fines included depending on the sum of the received fraudulent benefits.

Unemployment fraud punishment may differ between U.S. states. The Department of Unemployment Insurance in Arizona, for example, has different periods of disqualification from collecting unemployment insurance benefits than in Colorado. You should check your state's law to get the full picture.

Repaying Overpayments

There can also be overpayments, which you must pay back. Some of the typical cases of overpayments include:

  • You report some information wrongly when you file for benefits, and that information is corrected after.
  • The Unemployment Insurance Program processes your claim erroneously.
  • Your income was wrongly reported by your employer.
There can be a repayment plan organized for you if you cannot repay the whole sum at once.How Can Unemployment Insurance Fraud Be Detected?

There are a lot of ways in which unemployment insurance fraud is identified. Here are some of them:

  • Public tips by internet, mail, or phone
  • New employer's hire reports
  • Cross-matches with some government records
  • Quality control audits
  • Claim center referrals
  • Other investigative efforts
These days, unemployment insurance fraud seldom goes unpunished. We hope this article has informed you about unemployment insurance fraud and helps you avoid any potential mistakes while you're unemployed.Need more help with your career?

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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10 Ways To Condense Your Resume Without Losing Value

In a culture dominated by short posts, videos, and other content on social media, we all face enormous pressure to communicate ever more briefly. When it comes to resumes, recent trends have lowered preferred lengths to two to three pages. If your resume is long, how can you possibly condense it without losing value?

As a certified and award-winning resume writer, I face this dilemma on a daily basis. Most resumes contain a lot of "fat" in the form of run-on sentences, unwieldy skill descriptions, lackluster branding, and unnecessary details. By trimming these problem areas, your resume can become a lean, mean, brand communication machine.

But isn't it better to include more content so you can weave in more keywords throughout your resume? No, actually.

When it comes to resume writing, less is generally more. Here's why:

  • Recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers are, like most of us, overworked and inundated with information overload. Crisp, lean sentences filled with the right details will stand out more in a sea of candidates.
  • Too many keywords in a document can actually be a negative thing because it may make it appear that you are stuffing your document for the sole purpose of ranking high in resume searches. The database systems, or applicant tracking systems (ATS), that recruiters, companies, and job boards use to store and analyze incoming resumes are sophisticated enough to identify which documents have the right range of keywords specified in applicant searches—enough to meet their needs but not too much to raise eyebrows. In other words, keyword density is important, but too many keywords is a red flag.
  • Important details stand out more when there is less text, especially if those details have been whittled and shaped wisely. Clogging up your resume with unnecessary information and vague details impairs its ability to communicate your brand in the four to six seconds it is screened by humans.

Let's take a look at a few length targets to give you an idea of where your resume is out of balance. While there are few hard and fast resume rules, these are general guidelines that most highly experienced and credentialed writers and career coaches follow.

Resume & Content Length Guidelines

Resume Length

Most recruiters expect resumes to be two to three pages in length, with a strong preference for two pages in North America. While this varies from recruiter to recruiter, most like to see two-page resumes for job seekers with up to 10-15 years of experience. For those with considerably more experience, a three-page resume may be necessary to capture and present all relevant details.

One-Page Resume Rule

The one-page-only resume rule is still common, though. Those with limited experience may find that length most appropriate for their needs.

Career Summaries

Career summary statements have shortened since the 2008 recession and now trend at three to six lines of text. In mid-career, mid-management, and executive resumes, it is often appropriate to add branding content to this section of the resume, though generally such material is best restricted to up to the first half of the document's first page. Work It DAILY recommends ditching the career summary entirely and focusing on a headline instead—a short summary of the problem you solve that highlights your personal brand.

Core Competencies

Core competency sections are best limited to six to eight skills. At Work It DAILY, we call this the "Experience Summary," which is a list of any skills and requirements you possess that are needed for a certain job and are relevant to the position you're applying for.

Bullets per Role

Too many bulleted statements in a resume overwhelm your reader. Limit bullets to five per role if possible, but don't list fewer than three, either.

Bullet Length

Ideally, bullets should be limited to two lines of space. If additional critical details must be included, consider separating content into different bullets.

Amount of Work History to Include

Recruiters typically are most interested in the last 10-15 years of your experience, so this is the amount of experience you will want to profile on your resume. Older relevant experience can be briefly summarized in your "Additional Experience" section at the end of your resume. In most cases, any irrelevant work experience can be safely eliminated altogether. The usual exception is recent college grads and young professionals just starting out their careers who already have limited work experience to quantify and show off.

Resume Shortening Strategies

1. Say More with Less

Cut out words that aren't needed and delete words that are repeated. When you're fighting a two-line bullet length, every word counts.

2. Leverage Action Verbs

While all verbs convey action of some sort, some contain more energy and action than others. It may be accurate to say you wrote the company's five-year plan, for example, but it's more powerful to say that you strategized, authored, and executed the company's first-ever five-year plan.

3. Eliminate Passive Language

Passive language on a resume masks the true role you played in the task you're describing. The sentence, "I was exposed to different cultures, people, and challenges" is weaker than "Gained cross-functional and cross-cultural exposure to 5 ethnicities in 12 countries," for example.

4. Be Specific

Avoid vague descriptors and phrases such as "a variety of," "many," "others," and "successfully." Replace them with specific details that add value and meaning to the text.

5. Use Numbers Whenever Possible

Numbers talk, so it's imperative to use them in resumes to quantify key achievements and context information. Don't tell your reader that you exceeded sales targets. Show them how much you surpassed goals year over year. Every bullet point under your "Work History" section should contain at least one number. If you only follow one tip in this article, this should be the one.

6. Reformat

Many old-style resumes and built-in MS Word templates don't use the most effective format to get a hiring manager's attention. In your resume, make sure you're using a clean, 11-18 pt. font (Arial, Calibri). Also, don't shrink your margins to fit more text on a page. This will sacrifice white space and make your resume harder to read. Finally, place your titles and employer names on one line if you held only one role with the company, and eradicate widows and orphans (stray paragraph lines and single words on a line by themselves).

7. Categorize

Some content can be categorized or sub-categorized to convey information in more powerful ways. Subdividing a long series of bullets, say, into three to four categories that emphasize the cross-functionality of your skill set will not only make your achievements easier to read but will also showcase your multi-function brand while adding industry-specific keywords to the resume.

8. Contextualize

Give your readers the right quality and type of detail to help them understand the full scope of your impact. For instance, if you turned around an operation, that's a critical accomplishment to include. However, including before and after context details will automatically strengthen the presentation. How much money was the business losing per month or year before your tenure? How much profit or revenue was it generating by the time you left?

9. Focus on Results

In real estate, it's location, location, location that is critical; in resumes, it's achievements, achievements, achievements. Numerically quantified statements communicate volumes of information in fewer words while conveying your accomplishment in specific, measurable terms. Here's a sentence from a client's original resume: "Managed multimillion-dollar business and IT initiatives from inception to implementation to increase productivity, reduce operational cost, and improve service quality by collaborating with IT staff, C-level executives, business users, and external healthcare service providers." Here's a revamp that shortens the sentence from 35 to 25 words while adding content to dramatically improve its results' focus: "Ramped productivity 15%, cut operational costs $7M, and strengthened service quality 14%, leading $25M to $50M cross-functional business and IT initiatives from inception to rollout." Notice that the original bullet spanned three lines while the revamp needs just two.

10. Ditch Extraneous Details

Choose carefully which details you include and how you do so. For example, in the original client sentence included in the prior bullet, you'll find a list of folks this person collaborated with in his position. The results he achieved are more central to his brand so I substituted the word "cross-functional" to cover my client's list of four groups that required 11 words to describe. A distinction that underlines many of the above points is to recognize the difference between resume content that is important versus that which is critical to include.

There simply isn't room for all of your skills and entire work history on a resume, so sooner or later you have to choose which important details are must-haves. By following the 10 tips above, you'll know exactly what to include and omit so you can successfully condense your resume without losing value.

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Top 3 Reasons Why People Want To Change Careers (And Tips For How To Make The Transition)

There are many reasons why people want to change careers. But can you guess the top three reasons why a professional might consider a career change today? What is the driving force behind making such a big life decision?

A recent FlexJobs survey announced the common reasons why people are changing careers. Here are the top three, and tips for how to successfully make a career change.

Why People Want To Change Careers

Based on the FlexJobs survey mentioned above, these are the top three reasons for wanting to change careers:

  • Better work-life balance (56%)
  • Higher pay (50%)
  • More meaningful or fulfilling career (49%)
Better Work-Life Balance vs. Higher Pay: What Would You Choose?

If you want to make a career change, you're probably doing so for at least one of the top three reasons listed above. What's most surprising about this survey is that the top reason professionals are changing careers is because they want a better work-life balance, beating out the desire for higher pay by 6%.

Another interesting finding is that two out of the top three reasons why people want to change careers aren't based on money or benefits or any other career advancement factors. They are based on personal growth and fulfillment.

Even though we are often told throughout our lives that money can't buy happiness, it seems as though more and more people are taking this advice to heart and are realizing that a higher salary would not make them happier; having the time and space to do what they truly love and focus on what really matters would.

Think about it. If you wake up in the morning feeling miserable and dreading work, it's most likely because you do not have anything in your life that excites you—nothing that sparks joy or gives your life meaning or purpose. When you think about the day ahead, you're not looking forward to anything. How do you solve this problem? Well, if you change careers, you could achieve a better work-life balance, which would give you time to pursue hobbies and interests outside of work. You could also find a job that excites you, working for a company with a mission you're passionate about, where the work has a purpose and it feels fulfilling. Does a higher salary have more value than that? Most career changers say no.

So, why are you (or why would you be) motivated to change careers? For better work-life balance? Or for higher pay? If you had to pick one, which sounds more appealing?

5 Tips For Successfully Changing Careers

It's important to have a strategy in place when you decide to change careers. Making a career change isn't easy, but there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of success. Here are five tips for successfully changing careers:

1. Inventory your skills

What are your transferable skills? What other skills do you have that are in demand in your target career and industry? Write them down, and make sure to include them on your LinkedIn profile.

2. Create a bucket list of companies that you want to work for

Are you passionate about a company's product or service? Do you connect with an organization's mission or values? What companies would you love to work for? Write those down too. This is your interview bucket list, and it is essential for all job seekers, not just career changers.

3. Make new connections

It's true. In your job search, it's all about who you know. If you want to successfully change careers, you'll have to step up your networking efforts. Connect with people at your dream companies from your interview bucket list and start a conversation with them on LinkedIn. Then, be sure to consistently offer value to your professional network. You never know who will contact you with a job opportunity.

4. Update your resume

Write a targeted resume with your ideal career in mind. Focus on your transferable skills and quantifying your work experience. Also, be sure to customize your resume for each position that you apply for. An optimized resume is invaluable, especially for career changers.

5. Be ready to tell your story

The most important tool in your job search as a career changer is a disruptive cover letter, which will allow you to tell your story and stand out to employers. Storytelling is incredibly powerful. In order to successfully change careers, you need to connect with the companies you're applying to and the people who work at those companies—and the best, most effective way to do this is by telling a compelling story.

As a professional, you've probably thought about changing careers at some point in your life, either seriously or just out of curiosity. Nowadays, most people are making the change because they want a better work-life balance. If this sounds like you, follow the five tips above to get started on your career change today. A better career (and life) awaits!

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Why Great Leaders Need These 3 Personal Leadership Skills

Personal leadership is taking responsibility for all aspects of your life and leading it in the direction that is best for you. In order to be successful in leading at work, having strong personal leadership skills is critical.

When you are able to take responsibility for your own life decisions, you are better able to have a positive and inspiring impact on others. You are also able to be a role model for others in the leadership arena.

There are three factors that impact strong personal leadership skills...

A Good Mindset

Mindset is defined as "a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations."

Having a positive attitude and perspective about personal leadership and making decisions that are in your best interest is your first step toward strong personal leadership skills. Having positive beliefs and expectations about what will result when you make choices is part of having a positive mindset about personal leadership.

Having the right attitude about developing your personal leadership skills is a great first step on the path to success. Then, you can transfer that success to your leadership skills at work.

Energy Management

The next important area is your energy. How are you managing your energy? Are you taking time to renew yourself? This all supports you in being able to make the best decisions.

This again translates into your leadership skills at work. Managing your energy in all areas of your life enables you to give your best—both personally and professionally—and to be at your best when you are both at home and at work.

Strong Support System

The third important area of personal leadership is your support system. Having strong personal leadership skills means you have a network of people to support you through making choices that are in your best interest.

These people are your sounding boards, your trusted colleagues, your family and friends, and really anyone who you define as part of your inner circle of confidants. These are the people who you know and trust. They are the ones with whom you can share ideas and seek guidance.

This again translates to your being a strong leader at work. We all know the importance of having a strong network in our careers. When people advocate for us, listen to us, and help us, we repay the favor. Strong personal leadership skills require the same type of network.

Strong personal leadership is about being the best leader in your personal life in addition to your professional life. Having strong personal leadership skills also makes you an outstanding role model for those you lead at work and demonstrates vital skills they can incorporate into their own lives.

Development Tip: How are your personal leadership skills? Do you have the right mindset about leading your own life? Are you managing your energy well and do you have a support system behind you? Take some time to think about whether or not you are leading your own life as well as you are leading your work life.

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5 Old Resume Writing Tips To Ignore Right Now

In this digital age, the rules for resume writing have changed. While much about the resume may appear to be the same, there are things that you as the job seeker need to do differently today.

Some old resume writing tips may have been effective as recently as a few years ago, but if you want your resume to get into the right hands and help you get through the doors of your target employer, ignore these old resume writing tips below.

1. Keep The Resume To One Page

While it's still true that no hiring manager will want to go through pages and pages of your resume, trying to keep your resume down to one page is less critical than the content you have to present. If you have information that is worthy of inclusion in the resume—information that's relevant to the position—then there's no real harm done if your resume ends up being two pages long.

The fact is many employers today also run resumes through the applicant tracking system (ATS) before they even get into human hands, so your first mission is to get your resume past the ATS. In order to do that, it needs to include the right keywords that are often listed or mentioned in the job description. It needs to be optimized for the specific position that you're applying for.

2. Fudge Details

Now more than ever, your resume needs to accurately reflect your employment history. Employers aren't just looking at the resume you send in. They are doing research online—looking at your LinkedIn profile to compare information. They will question if what is reflected in your resume is not reflected elsewhere, so don't try to present information that is far from the truth because there's a good chance you won't be able to fool anybody.

Also, don't try to fluff your resume. It's never a good idea.

3. Stuff Your Resume With Keywords

Keywords remain critical to how well your resume is received by the ATS and the human reviewer, but it's not about having a set of keyword tags at the end of your resume or hiding them by changing the font color to white so it blends with the background.

You're writing a resume that will ultimately be reviewed and read by a human, so use the appropriate keywords in context with the rest of your content on the resume.

4. Include Basic Technical Skills

Technical skills are desired in practically every profession, but in the past where you'd highlight your knowledge of MS Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so on, it's no longer relevant.

The technical skills you need to talk about on your resume today have to directly relate to the function of the job. Also, it's not about just listing that you know it. You have to help the employer understand how you put the skill to use and what results you gained from it to effectively deliver the message that your technical expertise with it will benefit the employer and allow you to succeed on the job.

How can you do this? By quantifying your accomplishments.

5. One Resume Does It All

Maybe you were able to get by sending out the same resume over and over again to every employer in the past, but if you want to compete today, you're going to need a resume customized to the employer's specific needs.

Just like the objective statement may have worked in the past where you tell the employer what you're looking for, today's resumes need to inform employers of what you have to offer to them.

So, customize your resume for each position that you apply for. It may take more work upfront, but your strategic efforts will pay off in the long run.

Change is all part of the path to greater success. Understand that what may have worked with resumes in the past will not necessarily work now. It's time to kick out the old resume writing tips that no longer work and revamp your resume with the techniques that do work today!

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6 Ways To Celebrate Valentine’s Day At Work

While cupid's arrow shouldn't be aimed anywhere near the workplace, there is a fun and appropriate way to celebrate this holiday of love. Here are some great ideas to spread love, cheer, and perhaps some dessert in the office this Valentine's Day.

Some view this holiday as cringe-worthy, but there are a lot of positive ways to celebrate Valentine's Day that not only inspire your fellow co-workers but also do good in the community. Don't miss out on this opportunity to show your co-workers how much you appreciate them, and to lift spirits in the workplace, increase positivity, and foster a caring environment in the office.

Bring The Food, They Will Come

Food is the fastest way to anyone's heart and there is no better way to become the office hero than to bring in some tasty treats. Why not share the love by bringing in a special breakfast or planning a potluck dessert social hour?

Look for heart-shaped bagels or pastries. Think pink and sprinkle in some candy hearts. Keep it healthy and bring in a fruit bouquet.

Bringing everyone together in the break room will give an opportunity to share a moment together, take a pause from work, and enjoy some tasty food. It is a delicious way to promote appreciation and increase morale in the workplace.

Spread The Love

This holiday is a perfect opportunity to lead by example and do something really positive. One way is to fundraise for an office charitable donation. There are so many wonderful organizations that accept office donations. Pick your top choices and let your co-workers weigh in on where the funds should go.

Take it a step further and organize a volunteer day. Get a group of co-workers together and volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen. Plant flowers and clean up a local park. It will not only encourage teamwork but will also have a positive impact on the local community.

Gratitude Valentines

The act of gratitude in the workplace has many positives. From higher levels of job satisfaction and less stress to fewer sick days, the simple act of gratitude can work wonders.

Create an office whiteboard of positive messages. Allow employees to write secret messages of gratitude and display them in a highly visible spot such as the kitchen or lobby. Giving people the opportunity to show their appreciation improves employee engagement and is sure to make a lasting impression.

Random Acts of Kindness

During the month of February, we recognize the National Random Acts of Kindness Day. What better way to celebrate than to organize a random acts of kindness challenge in the office? It is scientifically proven that kindness has a positive effect on our health. It can reduce blood pressure, lower levels of physical pain, and decrease stress and depression.

Inspire your co-workers by organizing daily kindness challenges. Have a sign-up sheet for employees to commit to a daily act of kindness in the office. You will soon find that kindness is contagious and creates a stellar office culture.

Thank-You Notes

Most only think about thank-you notes after an interview or receiving a gift, but the thank-you note is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. Research shows that the recipient of a thank-you note is happier and more engaged.

Use this holiday as a chance to distribute thank-you notes throughout the office and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Through our constant communication through email and social media, the power of the written word is a lost art form. Taking the time to put a few personable thoughts of thanks down on paper is an effective way to show your appreciation and spread happiness and cheer.

Heart Healthy

February is American Heart Month. Valentine's Day is a perfect opportunity to throw a heart-healthy event. Bring in healthy foods and share informative tips on heart health. Perhaps even bring in an expert from the American Heart Association to lead a discussion on heart health.

Do you work in a competitive office? You could organize an office activity that will get the blood pumping such as a softball or kickball game. This is an excellent opportunity to put a focus on health and well-being in the workplace and institute habits in the office that promote good heart health.

There are lots of ways to celebrate Valentine's Day at work—you just have to get creative! Have some office fun this February by trying out the ideas above.

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Why Companies Fire People To Save Money

There are a lot of companies that will choose to fire employees instead of laying them off. Let's walk through the instances when this happens so you can better prepare yourself.

Placing The Blame On You

Lots of companies right now are deciding to make significant cuts. They aren't making their numbers. They're not feeling financially secure. Whatever the reason may be, the biggest expense is people, so the fastest way to save money is to cut staff.

Now, most companies will be transparent about this and admit that it's a layoff. They didn't perform well. They need to make changes. They're laying you off through no fault of your own. It stinks, but nobody's blaming you. However, there are companies out there that will say that it's a firing instead.

When companies fire employees instead of laying them off, they're saying it's not their fault. It's not their fault you're suddenly underperforming and, therefore, they're going to fire you. How ironic is it that you were getting great performance reviews, everything was going fine, and then all of a sudden you're having a performance issue?

What normally happens is the company has figured out that they can get somebody to do your job for a lot cheaper. There are a whole bunch of people in the job market who will do your job at a lower pay. But if the company lays you off in order to save money, there are laws around discrimination that you could cite and then file a charge of discrimination against them.

Some companies want to avoid any risk of this, so instead they suddenly decide you're not performing and they document that and gather the paperwork to be able to prove that you're not performing (you're the problem) so they can fire you. This is how they avoid lawsuits. And when they fire you, they can replace you and hire somebody for less money.

You can never take your eye off the ball as long as you are working. If you're making a wage that you want to keep making, you need to watch your market conditions because if you're not growing, you're dying in your career.

Way too many people get into kind of an autopilot situation where they're not really growing and evolving with the market. And it's not just about amassing more skills. It's about strategically understanding the direction your career needs to go in so you stay relevant and in demand. You can have all the skills and experience in the world, but if you don't know how to package that up and market it correctly to employers, you're not going to differentiate yourself in the market and stay competitive.

Please be on the lookout for this situation in your career. The moment your company realizes they can have someone do your job for less money, you're going to become a performance issue. It's easier to fire you than it is to lay you off. Remember that, and make sure you know your unique value add (UVA).

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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Optimizing Remote Workshops For Enhanced Collaboration

In the wake of the pandemic, businesses worldwide rapidly adopted tools such as video conferencing technology to facilitate remote collaboration within distributed teams. Despite the move towards this technology, large workshops that were traditionally dependent on physical spaces have continued to remain in-person events for many organizations.

And I get it—meeting in person can help foster camaraderie and sidebar conversations. Employees can tune out from the constant Slack and email notifications, focusing on the task at hand. But in my experience, in-person working sessions also bring on massive inefficiencies. Many colleagues are forced to dust off their suits and travel from various locations, disrupting their routines and sleeping habits. Despite efforts to gather everyone in person, inevitably there are individuals who either live in distant markets or couldn't attend in person and must virtually dial in, leading to a fragmented experience. Whiteboarding is done on large Post-it notes, requiring someone to take pictures and manually transcribe information for digital sharing. Employees end up spending long days in conference rooms, feeling drained, and often feel obliged to attend happy hours.

Companies aiming to sustain or even improve creativity, culture, and engagement need to invest in alternatives that meet the flexibility of the current business environment.

According to a Gallup poll, 51% of employees report disengagement from their work. The difficulty lies in maintaining a robust company culture when most interactions occur through screens (source).

Benefits Of Virtual Workshops

While many argue that in-person workshops are more personal and interactive than remote meetings, new and innovative technologies are bringing benefits to distributed brainstorming:

  • Productivity: Parallel team ideation leads to significant time savings, shorter time to produce artifacts with templatized digital materials, and accelerated decision-making with digital features such as voting and timers.
  • Cost Savings: Digital meet-ups are far more cost-effective than teams traveling to a centralized location, workspaces are quicker to set up, and they require less logistical coordination than in-person sessions.
  • Greater Inclusivity: Virtual sessions guard against groupthink, creating an equitable environment where no single individual or group dominates ideas.
  • Streamline Documentation & Scale: Teams can easily share workshop documents, create standardized company-wide templates, and integrate with existing external digital tools/workflows. Digital whiteboards maintain “the whole story” of the session as well as reduce the need for duplicative notes.
Use Cases

As a management consultant, I often act as the facilitator, incorporating virtual workshops in various scenarios across clients. Here are some ways I have leveraged remote workshops to enhance collaboration:

  • Process Mapping: Partnered with teams to develop a new marketing process by grouping various stakeholder groups and mapping the current state customer journey from start to finish. Understanding the customer journey helped the team come up with innovative ideas for the future state.
  • Gap Assessment: Created a structured, collaborative discovery framework to help a company determine gaps across people, processes, and technology in their current operations. Recommendations to remediate current challenges were voted on and prioritized, which created the design of future projects.
  • OKR Coaching: Utilized a virtual whiteboard to organize ideas for OKR development. The team identified strategic themes and prioritized the most critical areas of focus. We created an actionable plan with defined objectives and key results.
  • Retrospectives: Leveraged the agile retrospective framework “Rose, Bud, Thorn” to recap and reflect on a program that required cross-functional collaboration between teams. Walking away, the teams felt they had fostered a culture of continuous improvement and ultimately improved morale.

Additional popular use cases include prototyping, “Design Think,” team stand-ups, strategic planning, project charters, and more.

Best Practices

To ensure successful virtual brainstorming sessions, consider the following best practices:

  • Choose the Right Tool: Select a collaboration tool that is quick to learn, requires minimal setup, and aligns with any company security requirements (i.e., industry regulations, privacy, GDPR, etc). My favorite tool is Mural, given its optimized user interface, flexible permissioning, and timer features.
  • Define the Scope: Clearly define objectives, problem statements, and establish guidelines for communicating through the session.
  • Design: There is no need to recreate the wheel; take advantage of templatized frameworks. Think about how you want to organize and prioritize ideas as a group.
  • Choose a Facilitator: Designate a facilitator to ensure a productive and respectful environment.

In conclusion, embracing virtual workshop tools can transform remote working challenges into opportunities for enhanced collaboration, creativity, and engagement within distributed teams.

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 2 weeks 5 days ago

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Top 10 People You Must Have In Your Network To Find A Job

So, you know it is important to have the two Qs as you build out your network: quality and quantity. But have you considered the importance of having a well-rounded network?

In this labor market, having a strong network is critical to your career success. There are plenty of tips and articles on where to find people, how and when to connect with them, and even what you need to say to attract and maintain your network. This article focuses on who should be in your network.

Here are the top 10 people who should be in your network, no matter if you're looking for a job or happy in your current position—because every job is temporary!

Who Should Be Part Of Your Network?

There are 10 types of people you should have in your network:

  1. The mentor
  2. The coach
  3. The industry insider
  4. The trendsetter
  5. The connector
  6. The idealist
  7. The realist
  8. The visionary
  9. The partner
  10. The wannabe
1. The Mentor

This is the person who has reached the level of success you aspire to have. You can learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. Heed their wisdom and experience. This relationship offers a unique perspective because they have known you through several peaks and valleys in your life and watched you evolve.

2. The Coach

The coach is someone who comes in at different times in your life. They help with critical decisions and transitions and offer an objective perspective with no strings attached.

3. The Industry Insider

This is someone in your chosen field who has expert-level information or access to it. This person will keep you informed on what's happening now and what the next big thing is. Invite them to be a sounding board for your next innovative idea.

4. The Trendsetter

This is someone outside of your chosen industry who always has the latest buzz. It can be on any topic you find interesting. The goal of having this person in your network is to look for those connections that spark innovation via the unconventional. It will also help you keep your conversations interesting.

5. The Connector

This is a person who has access to people, resources, and information. As soon as they come across something related to you, they send you an email or pick up the phone. Connectors are great at uncovering unique ways to make connections and finding resources and opportunities most people would overlook.

6. The Idealist

This is the person in your network you can dream with. No matter how "out there" your latest idea is, this is the person who will help you brainstorm ways to make it happen. Without judgment, they are focused on helping you flesh out your dreams in high definition, even if you don't have a solid plan yet on how to make it happen.

7. The Realist

On the flip side, you still need the person who will help you keep it real. This is the person who will give you the raised eyebrow when your expectations are a little too unrealistic and need some grounding. These are not people who knock down your dreams; rather, they challenge you to actively make your dreams happen.

8. The Visionary

Visionary people inspire you through their journey. They are similar to the idealist, but the visionary can help you envision an actual plan to reach your goal. One personal encounter with this type of person can powerfully change the direction of your thinking and life.

9. The Partner

You need to have someone who is in a similar place and on a similar path to share with. In fact, partners do a lot of sharing. This is a person you can share the wins and woes with. Partners will also share resources, opportunities, and information.

10. The Wannabe

This is someone you can serve as a mentor. Someone you can help shape and guide based on your experiences. One of the best ways to tell you understand something is to be able to explain it to someone else. And sometimes one of the best motivators for pushing through obstacles and hardship is knowing someone is watching.

Obviously, you will want to have more than 10 people in your network. The trick is to make sure you are building a diverse network by adding people from different industries, backgrounds, age groups, ethnic groups, and so on who fit into the roles listed above.

Building a deep network by only including people from your current profession or business focus leaves too many stones unturned, limiting potential opportunities. Serious about building a strong professional network that can actually provide the leverage you need to make progress at work and the connections to land your dream job? Evaluate your current network and get started filling in the gaps. Happy networking!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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Want To Land A Job In 2024? Your Resume MUST Include This!

The primary goal of your resume is to help you stand out to employers so they give you a call and invite you in for an interview. It's the first impression a hiring manager has of you, and the first step to landing a job. So, how do you optimize your resume so it beats the competition?

Many job seekers feel lost when writing their resumes. What should you include on it? How much information is enough? What do hiring managers really want to see?

If any of these questions have crossed your mind, don't worry. Here's the one thing you need to include on your resume if you want to stand out to employers and land a job...

The Secret To Landing A Job In 2024? Quantifiable Accomplishments On Your Resume!

The most important thing to include on your resume is quantifiable accomplishments. Quantify your work experience and put those numbers and figures under the "Work History" section on your resume.

Not sure how to quantify your work history?

Follow these 3 tips to effectively quantify your work history on your resume:

1. Add numbers to your bullet points

You should have at least one number for each bullet point you include on your resume. If you want to show your depth of experience in certain areas, you need to show those numbers. By doing this, an employer can see how much experience you have and how often you use a certain skill. So it's really important to add as many numbers as you can to these bullet points.

Go through an average day at work, list all of your responsibilities and tasks, and ask yourself, "Okay, so if this is what I was doing every day, how often was I doing it? How much did I do? How many people did I work with?" By asking yourself these types of questions, you'll be able to pull out those numbers and add that depth of experience to your bullet points.

2. Include 3-7 bullet points per role

For each role you list on your resume, you should write three to seven of these quantified bullet points to showcase the skill sets that you have that are related to the position you're applying for. Any more than that and you'll likely overwhelm the reader. The hiring manager may think you're overqualified, that your experience is all over the place, or that you wouldn't be happy in the job.

So, be careful how much you put on your resume because too little text sends a message, but so does too much text. You need just the right amount of information, and three to seven bullet points is the sweet spot.

3. Choose accomplishments that support your relevant hard skills

You need to be intentional with what you choose to put on your resume to make sure you're supporting your specialty, the service you provide to employers as a business-of-one. What is your unique value add (UVA)? How do you save or make a company money, solve problems, and alleviate pain? The key is to only choose the accomplishments that relate to the skill sets you're showcasing in the top fold of your resume, the skill sets that directly support your specialty.

Make sure you're intentionally pulling these things and including them on your resume as opposed to listing every accomplishment you've ever had in your career. This is going to be very important in terms of showcasing that depth of experience because you don't want hiring managers to get distracted. You don't want them focusing on an accomplishment that doesn't support a relevant skill set. Make it clear what your specialty is and how you've provided value to employers with those skill sets in the past.

Why Quantifying Your Work History Is Essential

Quantifying your work history is usually the hardest part of writing a resume for job seekers. It's simply not something we learn in school. Recruiters and hiring managers don't want to know how you did your job or what your tasks were. All they care about are the results.

What did you make happen as a result of your work? How did you add value? When you quantify your work history, a recruiter can look at the hiring manager and say, "This person has done this, this, and this. And here are the numbers to prove it." That's why your resume needs to be quantified. It's proof that you're a qualified job candidate and a valuable potential employee.

What Does "Quantifying Your Work History" Look Like?

There is always a way to quantify your work experience. You may think that you have nothing to quantify on your resume, but you do.

If this is your first time quantifying your work history and you can't think of anything that counts as a quantifiable accomplishment, write out what you did at a specific job, circle every noun, and ask yourself, "Can I quantify that?"

For example, a receptionist may not think they have any quantifiable accomplishments or any type of work history that can be quantified. But when they asked themselves the right questions, they realized they accomplished a lot more than they thought, and they could assign numbers to these accomplishments. They asked...

  • "How many people work at my company?"
  • "How many calls did I take a day?"
  • "How many phone lines were on the system?"

The result? A few bullet points listing their quantifiable work experience:

  • Receptionist for a 500-person firm
  • Handled over 100 phone calls a day
  • Managed a 12-line phone system

You can absolutely quantify your work experience. You will find a way. Circle every noun and quantify them. Look for percentages. If you can't come up with exact numbers, you can use your best guess, erring on the conservative side. What was the percentage of growth? What was the percentage of savings? What were the revenues? There are always numbers. You just have to look for them.

In order to land a job in 2024, your resume must have quantifiable accomplishments. It may be difficult at first, but once you get the hang of quantifying your work history, you'll never go back. Quantify your work history on your resume and start seeing results in your job search today!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 2 weeks 6 days ago

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What To Do When Your Email Goes Unanswered

Some people experience anxiety when their emails go unanswered. Anxiety from unanswered emails is especially prominent in job seekers.

At least once a day, a client contacts me in a frustrated panic because the email they sent days ago to a colleague, perspective networking contact, online application, recruiter, and so on hasn't been answered. Each time, I walk them through the three tips that should be followed to increase the chances they get a response.

They are...

1. Wait One Full Business Week Before Following Up

While it feels like months to you, to the person you sent the email to, a week feels like a day. If they didn't answer you yet, it just means you weren't viewed as needing an immediate response. It doesn't mean they are saying "no" to your request, they are just saying "not now."

2. Never Send A Nudge On A Monday

Even the happiest people feel a little off on Mondays. We call it the Weekend Flu. You might call it the Monday Blues. Regardless, it puts people in a mood to say "no" more quickly.

So even if it's been a full business week, if it's Monday, don't do anything.

3. Send Value Next Time, Not Another Request For Help

When you finally do follow up, don't send a "Just wanted to check in and see if you got my request" note. That's like taking a hot poker and pushing it in their back. They know they haven't responded to you, and they most likely don't feel good about it. They don't need you to point it out.

Instead, find an article online that you think they would find interesting and pass it along with a simple note like this: "Saw this article and thought of you—hope you enjoy it!" That's it. You'll be respected for your restraint from asking the obvious. Moreover, you'll be appreciated for offering up something of professional value.

As they say, "You gotta give to get!" Follow the tips above and I guarantee more of your emails will get answered. While some may still ultimately say "no," or never respond, the chances the folks who failed to respond initially will finally follow up increases when you are patient, polite, and, most importantly, focused on helping them too.

Whether you're waiting for a response on an online application, job interview, or networking request, the combination of patience and strategic persistence will serve you well.

Need more help with your job search?

Become a member to learn how to land a job and UNLEASH your true potential to get what you want from work!

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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