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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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What to Do When You’re Caught Off Guard in an Interview

November 13, 2014


Hopefully your next interview is chock full of great news about a challenging position with smart coworkers, fantastic benefits, and great pay. But that’s not always the case. Occasionally an interviewer drops a bomb you weren’t expecting, like:

“This position is 75% travel.”
“You’ll be managing a huge team of people across the country.”
“You’ll most definitely have to work every weekend or some week nights.”
“In addition to X, you’ll be doing Y, too.”
“You won’t be able to take any vacation time for six months.”
“The position is part time.”
“You know this position only pays $25,000 right?”

Step one: Don’t let your jaw drop. If you’ve managed to successfully do this, your next move is to do nothing. That’s right. Smile and nod. The goal of an interview is to land the job — you can always turn down the offer at a later date. Think of this as great interview practice, not a waste of time. Move forward as if nothing major just happened and continue to give the best interview performance of your life.

After all, each interview is also a networking opportunity. Although you may have just discovered that this position is wrong — very wrong — for you, there may be another better opportunity at the company in the future. (Just wait until after the interview process to ask about any other opportunities you’re interested in.) You never know — this person could introduce you to a great contact via LinkedIn with a lead for a better position. The old saying rings especially true here: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

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The Dreaded Interview Question: Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Position?

November 11, 2014


There are plenty of interview questions that are difficult to answer but “Why do you want to leave your current position?” might be the most difficult one. After all, you might not want to share the real answer. These are things that you probably shouldn’t say:

  • “I hate my boss!”
  • “I’m not paid enough!”
  • “My coworkers suck!”
  • “The work is boring!”
  • “I think I’m about to get laid off!”

Why? Because they’re all negative, and negativity doesn’t have a place in an interview setting. It makes you look like a complainer, or an angry person, or like a demanding employee — and employers don’t want that. So what should you say when asked, “Why do you want to leave your current position?” Here’s the magic phrase you need to memorize…

“I’m looking for a position … [insert your response here]… and I think I have found that opportunity here. Can you tell me more about this?”

Because you’ve done your research regarding this position and this company, you should bring up something relevant or something that you’re genuinely curious about. Some things you could say after reciting, “I’m looking for a position…”

  • with growth potential
  • that is collaborative
  • with a diverse client base
  • in a leadership role
  • with a flexible work day
  • that challenges me

By responding to the question with a new question, you’ve hopefully averted the need to discuss anything negative during your interview. If the interviewer tries to dig deep for more info, continue to present your position as a positive experience. Doing so will give you a stronger chance of landing that job offer, and that’s what’s important.



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3 Reasons Why a Recruiter Might Ignore Your Resume

November 6, 2014


Your resume is the key to getting your foot in the door. It’s the first impression and one way to land that elusive phone call with the best phrase you’ll hear during your job search: “We’d like to bring you in for an interview.” (Well, that is until you hear, “We’d like to give you an offer.”) So what does that mean? Hopefully that you’ve polished up that one-page document to be the best one-page document you’ve ever created in your life. That’s why it’s so hard to come to the realization that your resume has been looked over. Thrown to the side. Discarded. But there are a few reasons why that may have happened. And the good news is that you can fix those mistakes.

MISTAKE: You used too much business jargon.
SOLUTION: Write like a human not a robot. It’s important to include key words that are relevant to the job description but it’s also important to tell a story. While key words may get you a phone call, the story is what is going to get you the job. Make sure your experiences paint a worthy picture for this position.

MISTAKE: You sent the same resume in for 5 different positions at the company — and they were all in completely different departments.
SOLUTION: Ask yourself what it is that you’re looking for in a position and why you are uniquely qualified. It’s better to spend more time applying responsibly to one position than to sloppily apply for twelve different positions. Be thoughtful with each application you send and tailor each resume to each position.

MISTAKE: You sent your resume too late.
SOLUTION: Do a little recon on your own. Get in touch with a recruiter and ask if they’re still hiring for a position that’s been listed online for an extended period of time before you dedicate hours on your application. Sign up for job alerts so you’re the first to know when something great opens — and be quick to throw your name into the hat.

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Don’t Stop Searching for a Job Over the Holidays

November 4, 2014


If you’re in the middle of a job hunt, you might not welcome the months of November and December with open arms. Historically, many job seekers believe the end of the year is a bad time to land a new position. After all, companies are busy meeting goals and deadlines, hiring managers are out of the office, and job seekers themselves are busy prepping for the holidays.

Catherine Jewell, an Austin, Texas-based career coach and author of the book New Résumé, New Career, was recently interviewed for Forbes on why using the holidays to find a job is a great idea. There are actually a few reasons why November and December are a great months to get a gig — and why you should be extra persistent during your search. Here’s a summary of our favorite points:

1. Less competition.
If others are too busy to apply for a job, that just gives you a better chance of landing one. Even if there are not as many opportunities available over the holidays, you never know what’s about to open in early January. Start making connections with hiring managers now and let them know what you’re looking for.

2. Easier access.
The holidays are both a busy time and a quiet time. The days leading up to and right after a holiday might be a great time to reach a hiring manager who might be sitting at her desk undisturbed.

3. Networking opportunities.
View every holiday party as a networking opportunity. You’ll hear about upcoming job openings before they’re listed online and may even be able to land a phone interview thanks to a glowing recommendation. A lot of professional groups will host holiday events too — it’s time to get social for the sake of your job search.

Read more about why you should search for a job during the holidays at Forbes.

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The Worst Question to Ask During an Interview

October 30, 2014


Interviews are filled with questions for you, the interviewee. We can guarantee what the last question of every interview will be: “Do you have any questions?” Now, let’s be clear — your answer should always be yes. But you better have a roster of thoughtful questions queued up in your mind. Unfortunately, in an interview, there are such things as stupid questions. That may sound harsh, but there is an etiquette to interviewing and there’s a time and a place for certain inquiries. Here are the topics you should avoid completely:

1. Anything you could have researched yourself.
Don’t ask your interview to tell you more about the company or ask who the competition is. Those are “LMGTFY” questions — “Let me Google that for you.” You should have done that research on your own pre-interview.

2. Anything that has to do with benefits.
In the early-stage interview process, benefits like casual Fridays, vacation time, salary, and occasional work-from-home opportunities are not addressed. At this point, show an interest in the position — not the benefits. You can decide if the benefits are substantial once the job offer is in hand.

3. Anything that sounds sketchy or demanding.
Perhaps you already have another offer in hand and you’re wondering how quickly you can get a promotion at each job. Or you have a three week vacation to Asia already booked and you’re wondering how soon you can take a vacation. Or you often use up sick time and want to know how many personal days you get. Those questions can be asked after you have an offer in hand.

Now learn about what you should ask during in an interview with our recent post 3 Can’t-Miss Questions to Ask During Your Next Interview.

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Wondering Why You Didn’t Get Hired?

October 28, 2014


There are a million reasons why you didn’t get the job — some are in your control and some are out of your control. That doesn’t make you feel much better does it? AOL Jobs wrote a piece recently on the 18 Surprising Things That Affect If You’re Hired. It remains to be seen whether these are all true or not, but the list is worth a look.

What’s Out Of Your Control
Let’s start with the worst first. Apparently the weather, the time of day, and whether your rival is interviewing the same day can all affect the outcome of our interview. Unfortunately, you can’t do much about any of that. If you’re feeling badly about not landing a job, just blame it on these factors and hopefully you’ll feel better. ;-)

What’s In Your Control
There is much that is in your hands. Think about your posture, your handshake, and eye contact. Do them all with confidence. Then move on to your nervous habits — don’t check your watch or phone and keep your arms in check. Don’t cross them tightly across your chest but don’t wave them around the room furiously either. Lastly, remember your manners. Be polite to the receptionist, make sure your hands are free when entering the interview so you can give a handshake (ditch the coffee first), and don’t sit down until you’re asked to.

Read more about surprising things that affect if you’re hired but remember — if you’re the best candidate, you’ll land the position no matter what. There’s no doubt about that.

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The Referral Economy and Your Career

October 23, 2014


We’ve all heard of the sharing economy — you’ve likely participated in it. It started innocently. Perhaps you bought concert tickets from a stranger on Craigslist. Then you moved on to hiring a stranger to drive you around the city thanks to the Lyft app. Finally, you let a stranger rent your apartment for a week through Airbnb.

What it all comes down to is this: we’re starting to trust strangers again. The sharing economy is becoming the trusting economy. And this is only good for our careers. How? Because as the sharing economy becomes the trusting economy, the trusting economy has become the referral economy. Think of the growing importance of reviews on sites like Yelp and Amazon — and don’t forget LinkedIn.

If there was ever a reason to start growing your network and gain allies, now is the time. A beefed up LinkedIn profile includes personal reviews from at least one boss or coworker at each company you’ve worked for as well as plenty of endorsements for each of your major skills. And a well-connected network includes people from inside and outside your company, your state, and your industry. You never know where your next job opportunity could pop up.

Read about what networking really means as well as why networking is good for your mental health.



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5 Things That Will Help You Critique Not Criticize at Work

October 21, 2014


There’s a difference between attacking a problem and attacking a person. While honesty is crucial in the workplace, it must be delivered in a delicate fashion with tact and professionalism. The Next Web wrote a fantastic piece on Critique vs Criticize: The Lost Art of Candor in the Workplace. Here are a few key mantras to remember the next time you need to approach a coworker with some negative feedback:

1. Candy-coated information won’t help anyone.
If there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed. Avoiding the issue likely means avoiding a solution. Candor is important in discovering the best solution to a difficult problem. So if you’re feeling queasy before raising a sensitive subject, remember — it’s in everyone’s best interest to talk this out.

2. Everyone communicates — and takes criticism — differently.
Different personalities communicate differently, work differently, and give and take feedback differently. Keep this in mind when delivering and receiving feedback. Think of the source of the feedback or the recipient of the feedback and adjust your response accordingly.

3. People dwell on the negative even if it’s delivered in the best way possible.
According to The Next Web, it can take five positive events to outweigh one negative event. Although truthful feedback is absolutely necessary for success in the workplace, remember that it may sour the air temporarily and may not be welcomed with a smile.

4. Be up front about what’s about to happen.
Your team may want to dedicate a “safe space” like a private conference room for honest talks like these or even begin utilizing a phrase that indicates some serious talk is about to go down. Either way, give the recipient a heads up that you are about to deliver some negative news.

5. Be brief and move on to the solution.
Think about how you can deliver the news in the most terse fashion possible. Then refocus the conversation to the solution — what can we do moving forward? As mentioned above, people will dwell on the negativity but make a concerted effort to move the conversation to a more positive place.

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