Archive | January, 2013

5 Ways to Go Above and Beyond at Work

January 30, 2013

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5 Ways to Go Above and Beyond at Work

It’s easy to do the bare minimum. But if you want your career to skyrocket into success, the path there is not going to be a simple joy ride. A degree can get you far, but it’s these special touches that will take you to the next level. Start the new year off right by practicing these career-changing habits.

1. Don’t be late. Ever.
Imagine if you came to work 15 minutes early every day. Every single person who arrives at work — including your boss — would see you already plugging away at your desk with a fresh cup of coffee. You’d never be the person who rolls in 15 minutes late all flustered and crabby. Early arrivals mean your committed. It means your reliable. And people respect that.

2. Remember names.
It’s  an underrated life skill that becomes extra important in the workplace. If your one of those people that hears a name and lets it go in one ear and out the other, you gotta change that habit. Whenever you meet someone new, repeat this phrase back to them: “Nice to meet you, [insert name here].” Simply saying their name out loud should help you remember it.

3. Remember details.
Whether it’s the name of your boss’s kids or the appropriate naming convention for that document that you turn in weekly, don’t overlook the small stuff. People appreciate the little things and are likely to reciprocate your efforts. And that feels good!

4. Be professional. Always.
Over time, you’ll become friendly with coworker and maybe even bosses. But there’s a level of professionalism that should always be maintained in meetings, in person, and over email. (Follow our tips on how to write better emails.) If your friends outside the workplace, draw lines that keep your personal life and career life separate.

5. Say yes.
Especially early on in your career, saying “yes” can be the difference between a quick promotion or a lengthy post in your current position. You’ll get more experience, you’ll get face time with important people, and you’ll beef up your resume. Enthusiasm pays off.

Image by Thomas Keil

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Spotlight On: Latin American Headquarters in Miramar, Florida

January 25, 2013

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LatinHeadquartersSpectrum Brands’ products can be found all over the world, but our Latin American Headquarters thrives in the Miami suburb of Miramar, Florida.

What You’ll Find
At our Latin American Headquarters, you’ll find lots of opportunities for bilingual English-Spanish speakers. In addition, some of the positions at this location may be required to travel as much as 50 percent. Our Miramar location also hires college interns.

About the Area
Miramar is located just 20 miles north of Miami in the South Florida metropolitan area. The Miami metropolitan area is often cited as the fourth largest urban area in the country. Enjoy being near to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Florida Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness at 1.5 million acres.

Search Spectrum Brands job openings in Miramar, Florida, then find more great career advice and information on Facebook and Twitter.

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How to Find a Career Mentor

January 23, 2013

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How to Find a Career MentorNetworking. We explained it in detail in this post and included it in the top 5 job search secrets. But we didn’t mention one other benefit of networking – finding a career mentor. This is the person who can point you in the right direction when you’re at a fork in the road. It’s a person who you’d like to model your career off of. And it’s a person whom you could count on when you’re looking for your next job – or a recommendation. How do you find such a person? Here are some tips to get you started:

The Search
A mentor could be someone you know or someone you’ve never met before. Buddy up to your own boss or a coworker that you admire in another department. Reach out blindly to someone who lives across the country on LinkedIn or Twitter. Walk up to a prominent community figure at a networking event. Email a family friend or long-lost cousin who’s in your industry.

The Approach
Anyone will be flattered if you say, “I’ve really been impressed by your career and I’d love to hear any advice you have in regard to furthering my own.” Although many successful people are busy, they’ll be more likely to commit if you suggest a date and time up front. For example, suggest a 20-minute coffee date tomorrow in the break room or a 30-minute phone call next week.

The Follow Up
Be sure to thank anyone who’s taken the time to meet with you and share their advice. Then tell them you’d love to keep in touch. Don’t scare them away by suggesting you chat once a month, but definitely shoot them an email every couple months to check in and share progress on your careers. Eventually suggest another time to chat over the phone or meet in person. Before you know it, you’ll have built a quality business connection that can last for years.

How did you find your career mentor? Comment below or share it on our Facebook wall.

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Get a Digital Makeover

January 18, 2013

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Give Yourself a Digital MakeoverThe beginning of a new year is the perfect times for new haircuts and new wardrobes. But what if you gave yourself a digital makeover? There are tons of apps and websites out there that can make your life – and your work life – easier. Do you take advantage of them? Here are a few of our favorites.

Manage Your Time
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management philosophy in which you work for 25 minutes and then reward yourself with a three to five-minute break. Download the app for Windows or the app for Mac. Or just use Tomato-Timer.com to stay focused.

Multitask
“If this than that.” You’ve heard the phrase before. Now IFTTT.com can make the Internet work for you. While it’s main benefits are probably for personal use, there are definitely some work-related “recipes” than can make your 40 hours per week more enjoyable.

Reduce Paper
Doc Scan turns your smartphone’s camera into a portable scanner. Just snap a pic of any document and it will turn it into a digital file that can be emailed with ease. Transform your business card collection into an online library. Avoid the frustration of a broken or occupied printing station from the comfort of your desk. This app will come in handy more than once.

Refocus
Sometimes the day is too crazy – too many meetings, too much work to get done, and not enough time in the day. What’s a stressed-out employee to do? Pop on your headphones and head to calm.com. Choose a two-minute or ten-minute session and enjoy the scenery, sounds, and guidance.

Image by Mark Smiciklas.

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Your Worst Interview Nightmare – And How to Fix It

January 15, 2013

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Your Worst Interview Nightmare - And How To Fix It

Part of being a great interviewee is being able to rebound after something goes wrong. That means you not only have to prepare yourself to give a great interview, but you have to prepare yourself for the worst. Here’s your new motto: be prepared! Here are a few ways to recover from your worst interview nightmare:

A Late Arrival
Apologize profusely. Don’t make an excuse unless it’s a really good one, like a flat tire or a huge accident that you could never have foreseen. If you know you’re going to be late, call ahead and give notice instead of showing up sweaty and stressed out.

Terrible Answer
If you totally botched a question, take a deep breath and move on. If a better response comes to mind later in the interview, ask if you can take another stab at it. But be sure to nail it this time around.

Cat’s Got Your Tongue
If a question stumps you, take a deep breath and say, “Let me think about that for a minute.” If nothing comes to mind, try to spin the situation positively. Talk about a similar story or situation related to the question that highlights your achievements. Just do your best!

Lost Your Mind Temporarily
If you didn’t end the interview by “closing the deal” and reiterating your interest in the position, you have a second chance. Send a thank you email or card immediately and be sure to express your enthusiasm and gratitude for the opportunity.

Image by Djuliet.

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Write Better Emails in 2013

January 10, 2013

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How to write better email in 2013We can’t function without email, but there are definitely right and wrong ways to use it. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that we over-rely on the electronic mail – for example, when we send a quick email to a coworker who’s sitting right next to us. Here are some tips for better email etiquette in 2013:

Be brief.
That means you must learn to edit yourself. Before you hit send, read your email. Is everything clear? Can it be said in a more concise way? Is this topic so confusing that it would be better addressed in person? Make a judgment call.

Be organized.
If you’re discussing a project with a coworker, try to keep all of the discussions on one email chain. It will make it easier to keep track of decisions that were made and conversations that were had. You don’t want to forget about important details after spending precious time hammering them out.

Use the CC wisely.
Err on the side of not CC-ing. Does this person really need to be included in this conversation? Did they ask to be CC-ed? Everyone’s inbox is full and a getting caught in a long conversation as a CC can be frustrating. If needed, just send the CC a separate email summarizing the conversation.

Be smart.
If you’re setting up a meeting via email, first make sure that everyone has been invited. Next, include all details regarding the meeting including what results, goals, or action items you’d like to accomplish during this meeting.

Image by Kristie Wells

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Be a Better Public Speaker in 2013

January 8, 2013

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Be a better public speakerYou’re not the CEO, so why would you need to give a speech? Well, we’re not talking about speeches, but we are talking about talking. In any position, you’ll need to address your coworkers in meetings, discuss your career path with your boss, and possibly event present to upper management. Talking is crucial. Here’s how to impress even the best:

1. Plan
Before your next meeting, write down a few talking points at the very least. If you know you’ll be presenting an idea or discussing the state of a project, it’s best to be prepared and be ready to acknowledge any concerns or questions. And even if you’re just piping up in a meeting, think twice before you speak. If you only speak when you have something intelligent to add to the conversation, you’re coworkers will listen attentively.

2. Practice
If you’ve planned a few talking points ahead of time, read them out loud. That might mean you have to bring work home one night or close the door to a meeting room. But saying thoughts out loud is much different than studying them on paper. After hearing the words spoken out loud – maybe even ask one person to sit in as your audience – you’ll refine your talking points to become even better.

3. Perfect
Join or start a Toastmasters group over the lunch hour at your company. If a public speaking club sounds terrible to you, then you’re a perfect fit. Toastmasters was designed as a “learn-by-doing” workshop for beginners. You’ll start by giving a speech on something easy like yourself or one of your hobbies. Before you know it, you’ll feel comfortable speaking in front a small group of people.

Image by Brain POP.

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Find Work-Life Balance in 2013

January 3, 2013

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Work Life BalanceIt’s one of our 2013 Career Resolutions. And living a life with less stress is synonymous with finding work-life balance. No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a project so much so that you either stay at work until 8 PM or you keep worrying about it even when after you’ve left the office. Here are some strategies to keep your work life and your home life separate.

Start Right in the Morning
Get up early enough to get the things done that need to be done. That includes doing things that make you happy and healthy like eating a healthy breakfast before work, making a lunch, and maybe even squeezing in a work out.

Take Advantage of Lunch
You need a break in the middle of the day. It will power yourself up not only physically but also mentally. Eating at your desk during lunch makes for tired eyes (no one likes starting at a computer all day!) and a tired mind.

Beat the Afternoon Slump
Power up with a healthy snack or walk outside – or around the office if the weather is not great. Try to wean yourself off sugar and caffeine as an energizer. All you’ll get is a short burst of motivation, but then you’ll be back to where you started

Schedule Your Day…
…and stick to it. Just as you’d schedule a doctor’s appointment, schedule in time after work to do the extra curricular activities that you make you happy and healthy. That includes working out and spending time with family.

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New Year’s Resolutions That Will Help Your Career

January 1, 2013

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FireworksLose weight. Eat right. Read more. Complain less. The same New Year’s resolutions get repeated every year. But it’s time to make a change. We promise you these next resolutions will help your career grow – which should be motivation enough to stick with them!

Get Organized
We live a digital world so a clean inbox is priority number one. Tell yourself that your work day can’t end until your inbox gets down to zero. From there — as far as being organized goes — its up to you to decide if you prefer digital or paper.  A to do list and a daily planner can be great, but only if you stick with them and update them regularly. Find what works best for you – whether it’s an app, a notebook, or a tablet.

Embrace Less Stress
You’ll never have a stress-free life, but you can take steps toward a better work-life balance. You’ll feel more refreshed, motivated, and positive if you dedicate time away from the office. Whether it’s time spent at the gym, time spent with family, or time spent with a hobby, schedule it in as a mandatory decompression portion of your day.

Develop Communication Skills
From public speaking to writing to networking, communication is the number one way you’ll find success in your career. Join or start a Toastmasters group over the lunch hour at work (even if public speaking horrifies you). Be more aware of the frequency and lengths of the emails you send. Attend at least one networking event before spring rolls around. (Networking is so important!) Set small goals and you’ll see a return on your investment.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks, where we’ll break down how to make these resolutions come true.

Image by Chris.

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