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3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

December 18, 2014


It’s easy to want to run to your boss anytime something goes wrong at work. But part of being a successful employee is being able to successfully handle your problems. Now — don’t get us wrong — there are definitely times when it’s appropriate and necessary to get your boss involved and we’re confident that you know which times are appropriate.

The following are examples of lighter-hearted issues that you can likely take a stab at solving yourself. If your efforts end up a failure then take the situation to your boss and show the steps you’ve taken to try to remedy the problem on your own. He or she will appreciate the steps you’ve taken. Here are the top three things you should never say out loud to your boss:

1. “I’m too busy.”
Delegating is a super important lesson every employee must learn as well as increasing productivity and staying focused. If you’ve delegated everything you could, found your productivity sweet spot, and pound away at work every minute of the day and you still can’t get all your work done, then it’s okay to bring this up to the head honcho.

2. “I don’t like my coworker.”
If there’s anything you learn in corporate America it’s that you have to get along with everyone. You’ll be working with people of all different backgrounds, communication styles, and work ethics. Part of your job is learning how to best work with each of these people. And you never know — projects come to completion and people take on new positions. This work situation might not be permanent.

3. “I’m not getting paid enough to do this.”
That thought might be crossing your mind, but keep it to yourself. It might seem like your boss has the power to raise your salary and give you a promotion, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes the work just needs to get done, and you are the one who’s been asked to go above and beyond. Do it with a smile and there’s a good chance your boss will remember that — and recommend you for a promotion.



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How to Instantly Sound More Confident

December 16, 2014


We’ve already covered 3 Speaking Habits That Make You Sound Stupid, but unfortunately there’s a few more. While we would all prefer to sound smart, it’s also important to sound confident. And the following bad habits take away from that confidence. You may think you’re in the clear when it comes to these habits, but pay attention the next time you’re engaged in an important work conversation, giving a presentation, or even writing an email.

Stop saying, “I think” before every point you make.
We know you’re thinking it because you said it. Unless you’re attributing a fact to someone else, we’re going to assume that everything that comes out of your mouth is something you believe in. Emails and conversations can immediately sound more convincing when you remove this pesky phrase. Unless you truly want to express doubt, take “I think” out of your vocabulary.

Don’t speak like everything is a question.
This is another habit that might only appear when you’re under pressure. When we raise our voices at the end of a sentence, it expresses a question — and it can make us sound unsure. If you’re confident in what you’re saying, say it confidently. Declare it, don’t question it.

Remove “filler” words from your vocabulary.
Everyone depends on something different to fill the silence. It might be “like,” “um,” “you know,” or even “I think.” These words are unneeded. It’s okay to take a moment of silence while you gather your thoughts. Get comfortable with the silence and you’ll find yourself depending on these words less and less.

What are your tips for speaking more confidently? What speech habit is hardest for you to break? Comment below!

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The Secret to Getting Hired

December 11, 2014


“Soft skills may get you hired, but you need hard skills to get your foot in the door,” says an infographic on hiring by Employment Metrix. That’s one mantra you should take to heart. It clears up a lot of confusion. We’ve heard that employers value soft skills so much, but we also know that it’s not enough to get hired. Saving the soft skills for the interview portion is one great strategy for job seekers.

While 62% of HR professionals say candidates do a good job of including relevant keywords in their resume, 73% say applications don’t do a good job of tailoring their resumes, according to the same infographic. That means job seekers are focusing too much on the jargon and less on the meaning behind it. But as we just learned, those hard skills are what’s going to get your foot in the door. So you better illustrate your relevant experiences specific to this position and share information that pertains to this specific company and this specific position.

If you’re short for space, perhaps phrases like “team player” and “great communicator” are better reserved for the interview portion of the hiring process than the resume. Seeing “team player” on a resume can’t really compare to a two-minute conversation during an interview that exemplifies the multitude of ways you’ve worked in a team. Analyze all of the phrases in your resume and decide which are best expressed in written form and which are best expressed verbally.

Before you apply for your next position, think of the resume and the interview as two separate and unique stepping stones on the path to getting hired. A hiring manager will find a strong candidate and bring them in based on their resume — the cold, hard facts and qualifications. But the interview is really much more telling of someone’s personality than of their career strengths and weaknesses. The recruiter has already learned most of that from the resume and LinkedIn profile anyway. Regardless of what questions are asked, the interview is about showing off how communicative, personable, and agreeable you are. It wouldn’t hurt to show off your problem-solving skills too.

Find comfort in knowing that this interview is a chance to express yourself and not just a cataloging of your skills. Be yourself. Be polite. Be enthusiastic. And hopefully the job offer will follow.



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Will LinkedIn Replace the Resume?

December 9, 2014


I haven’t touched my resume in over a year — why? Because I’ve been busy updating my LinkedIn profile. It’s almost polished to perfection. That’s all I need these days, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Many employers still use Applicant Tracking Systems that require an electronic copy of your resume. That means you resume needs to be in tip-top shape.

There are other reasons why LinkedIn might not replace the resume anytime soon. Although the resume is short, it allows each to be tailored to a specific position, while your LinkedIn profile is a more general recap of your career. Tailoring your LinkedIn for each job application would be almost impossible. But there are still many benefits of using LinkedIn. Here are our favorite ones:

  • Get Recruited by Hiring Managers: LinkedIn is a great place for recruiters to find top talent. Make sure your profile is filled with industry keywords that will help you get found. You never know — a recruiter might reach out to you when you least expect it.
  • Find Relevant Job Listings: Many companies share their recent openings on LinkedIn — and we’re one of them! Find our recent listings on the Spectrum Brands LinkedIn page.
  • Network within Your Industry: When you check out an open position on LinkedIn, it will tell you who you’re connected to at that company. That opens opportunities for information interviews or even changes to get your resume in front of a real person for feedback.
  • Show off Your Various Skills: Your LinkedIn profile is a great place to show off your personality and your various skills. Unlike a resume, you have more room to play with and a more informal way to present this information.
  • Establish an online presence: If a hiring manager Googles your name, a LinkedIn presence is a great thing to stumble upon. It’s an equally professional but expanded-upon illustration of who you are and where you want to go in your career.

We’ll see whether the resume or the LinkedIn profile is taking the lead ten years from now, but right now it’s worth polishing both presences.

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3 Ways LinkedIn Summaries and Resume Summaries are Different

December 4, 2014


It’s true. There is a difference between LinkedIn profiles and resumes. But they sure do have a lot in common. One of those things is the summary. But each summary has different goals and expectations. We’re going to break them down for you so each of your summaries can shine and help you land that dream job.

The Length
LinkedIn summaries are longer than resume summaries. A resume is all about conveying the most important information in the most effective way possible — and it’s about landing this specific position. Although there are less words to write, the resume summary will be more challenging to piece together and it could change for each job you apply for.

The Tone
On LinkedIn, you can write more informally and more conversational than on a traditional resume. In fact, it’s expected. Luckily, it’s easier to express your personality and voice on LinkedIn because you aren’t as restricted when it comes to space. And it’s totally okay to say “I” instead of referring to yourself in the third person.

The Content
A LinkedIn summary sounds more like a personal biography or your own personal story, while a resume summary is 100% career focused. Since many recruiters will look at both summaries, use LinkedIn as an opportunity to expand on the information provided on your resume. It’s okay to incorporate your major selling points and a few impressive statistics in your LinkedIn summary as well. Sell yourself!

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Things You Should Do For Your Career Before You’re 35

December 2, 2014



We all have bucket lists — things we want to do before we die, things we want to do before we turn 30, things we want to do before retirement, or things we want to do after retirement. But have you ever created a career bucket list? Think of it as a big picture list of goals or benchmarks you’d like to reach within a certain time frame.

Mashable shared an excellent piece lately called 35 Things You Should Do For Your Career By The Time You Turn 35. But we don’t think a career bucket list has to have an age limit. Make up your own version that’s tailored to your journey and your career path. Here are our favorite points to help you get jumpstarted on your own list:

  • Refine your elevator pitch: This is one of those things we always talk about doing but never actually do. Take the time to write a little ditty for yourself that markets your best features and your career goals.
  • Know you superpower: There’s something you can do better than anyone else — or at least a few things you know you excel at. What are those things? Memorize them and share them.
  • Learn how to delegate: No one can do it all. Even the biggest control freak needs to learn how to delegate work appropriately. Start practicing now before it’s too late.
  • Do something that scares you: That could be as big as changing career paths or as small as speaking up in a meeting. Both are equally honorable.
  • Have a career emergency plan: If you got laid off tomorrow, what would you do? You always need a plan B when it comes to your career. Whether it’s a side project, a strong network, or a career change, get comfortable with your options now.

Read the rest of the insanely helpful list of career goals over at Mashable. Which ones will make it onto your list?

Image via Courtney Dirks on Flickr. 

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How to Tell If Your Resume Sucks

November 25, 2014


Applying to jobs online seems about as effective as throwing a tiny piece of scrap paper into a big black hole. It’s easy to justify the many reasons why you’ll never hear back from a single company. Your resume must have got lost in the shuffle, right? That’s a lot easier than admitting the truth: no one wants to hire you. That’s a tough pill to swallow but there is good news hidden here. It might not be you, it might be your resume.

Writing a glowing resume is a skill that’s not easy to master. Your resume should never be complete. It should be constantly revised and improved upon. If you’re not doing that and you’re not getting hired, there’s a chance your resume sucks. There are a few easy ways to tell. Analyze the situations below and see whether or not they apply to your current job search situation. If they do, it’s time to give your resume a serious revamp. Read our tips on how to revamp your resume plus the dozens of other posts we’ve written about how to draft a stellar resume.

1. You’re applying to dozens of jobs, but barely getting any interviews — even for the ones you’re 100% qualified for.
This is a huge warning sign. Something is not working. While networking will always come in handy here, you need to first give your resume a once-over and make sure that even your connections would be proud to pass along your resume to someone they know. Ask an outsider for help — perhaps a professional whose career you admire or a friend who’s good at writing and editing.

2. You keep telling yourself, “If I could just land an interview, I could show them what a great hire I am.”
I have some news to break to you: you’re being lazy. You clearly know that your resume is not painting you in the best light. Instead of self sabotage, pick a new strategy. Think of your resume as a marketing piece with the sole purpose of selling yourself. View yourself and your skills as an outsider. How would you describe them to someone who’s never met you?

3. When you do land an interview, you have a lot of information to share that’s not on your resume — and interviewers are surprised.
While it’s important to expand on your resume in an interview as opposed to just reading from it, your career highlights should be the major highlight of your resume. Don’t think you’re doing yourself a favor by withholding important information that’s relevant to this position. Touch on all the high-level skills and experiences that will help you land an interview. You owe it to yourself.

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How The 50+ Crowd Can Successfully Job Hunt

November 23, 2014


AOL Jobs published a great piece called, “Over 50? Here’s How to Beat the ‘Old Timer’ Stereotype in Your Job Search.” It focuses on using LinkedIn to overcome stereotypes. You know, the ones that assume those over 50 are less motivated, less willing to participate, and more resistant to change when compared to their younger counterparts. It’s a stereotype that’s not often true, but unfortunately there is one stereotype that rings true for older workers — they don’t use social media. And it’s a stereotype that’s hurting their job hunt.

LinkedIn falls under the social media umbrella but there’s a major difference when it comes to this social network. It’s not about cat videos, pictures of your kids, or ranting about your bad day — it’s exclusively about networking and finding a job. And those over the age of 50 who aren’t on LinkedIn are missing out in a big way. What may look like ageism could actually just me a miss on the job seekers part. If many employers are finding most of their new hires on LinkedIn, but you’re not there, who’s to blame? Do yourself a favor and put yourself exactly where the employers are recruiting.

For the over 50 set, it’s more important than ever to craft a completed LinkedIn profile, which includes a photo, detailed explanations of all positions held, and a full roster of connections. Once you’ve gained comfort with the network, go above and beyond the typical LinkedIn user. Get involved in groups. Share relevant industry articles with the update feature. Write about your industry with the publishing feature. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but it’s time well spent. These days, a LinkedIn profile is as important as a resume — if not more so.

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3 Speaking Habits That Make You Sound Stupid

November 20, 2014


Communication at work should always be professional whether it’s online or in person and whether you’re trying to nail an interview or sitting in a meeting at your day job. But even when you’re trying your best to make a good impression, it’s not always good enough. There are quite a few bad speaking habits that can make you sound, well, a little less smart and you might not even realize you’re committing these communication crimes. Here are our biggest pet peeves when it comes to workplace chatter.

1. Saying, “I’m well,” instead of “I’m good.”
That’s right. “I’m good,” is actually grammatically correct. The only time you’d answer someone, “I’m well,” is when you’re referring to your health. Say after you’ve recovered from an illness or a time of being unwell. Read Grammar Girl’s full explanation on good vs. well so you can answer “I’m good,” with confidence.

2. Messing up common phrases with similar-sounding phrases.
Did you know that it’s supposed to be “for all intents and purposes” not “for all intensive purposes?” And “I could care less” means that you actually could care less — what you meant was “I couldn’t care less.” Here’s another one: ‘irregardless’ isn’t a word. It’s just ‘regardless.’ Brush up on these and other common phrases you’re saying wrong.

3. Laughing — at everything.
You might not even realize you are doing this. A little giggle relieves our nerves and it might make saying something a little bit easier. But it also makes you sound like you’re not confident in what you’re saying. Get rid of the giggles and you’ll make a much stronger impression. Also, get comfortable with silence — you don’t have to chime in with a reaction to anything anyone says, especially when it’s an uncomfortable laugh.

Which communication crimes are you guilty of? Comment below!

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Start a Morning Routine for Success

November 18, 2014


We all want success, so what’s stopping us? One little change could make all the difference: the time you wake up. There’s an old phrase that has a lot of truth to it: “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man wealthy, healthy, and wise.” It makes sense, right? Because the earlier you get up in the morning, the better chance you have of getting your day in order. That means squeezing in a workout, making a to-do list, and eating a healthy breakfast all before you even step into the office.

But there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Starting your day with a work out, a to-do list, and a decent breakfast leads to a lot of benefits. For example, you’ll start off your day healthier, happier, and less stressed. There’s a chance you’ll enter the office with a more focused mind, which will lead to an even more productive morning. Do you see where this is going?

A morning routine can really can impact your entire day. A healthy breakfast can lead to a healthy lunch. A productive morning can snowball into an entire productive day. A week of workouts can kickstart a whole month of exercise. Suddenly, we’re talking about a life-changing impact. Sound crazy? It’s not really. It’s pretty simple. Try it for a week and see how you feel.

If you need motivation, ask your partner or a friend to join you. You’ll be more likely to wake up early and hit the gym if someone is waiting there for you. Even simply announcing to family or friends that you plan to get up earlier can be a great motivator. It’s all in your hands… try setting the clock on your smartphone a couple hours earlier than usual right now and be sure to factor that into your bedtime tonight. You can do this!

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