Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

By Kimberly Fusaro

If everything’s going smoothly, you probably won’t interact with the folks in human resources much between the day you’re hired and your last day with the company. But every day in between, it’s their responsibility to make sure you’re doing your job well. Which means they know a lot more than you might think. We checked in with human resources experts to see what your current employer is keeping tabs on—and how your next employer could be judging you based on a whole lot more than the résumé you submitted.

 

10 Things the HR Department Won’t Tell You

1. Background checks have gone beyond Google.

Before calling in applicants for a job interview, HR will snoop around online to make sure there are no virtual red flags. “Social media ‘stalking’ has become the norm—especially at larger companies,” says Mary Hladio, who worked in human resources for more than 15 years and is currently CEO of leadership group Ember Carriers. “Beyond typing names into a search engine, companies will also employ sophisticated online monitoring platforms that dig even deeper. If there’s something on the Internet you wouldn’t want your boss to see, it’s probably in your best interest to take it down.”

2. Arriving super-early for an interview is almost as bad as arriving late.

Of course, if someone shows up late for an interview, he or she isn’t going to get a callback, says Amy Habedank, human resources manager of Pinnacle Services. But she’s also hesitant to hire someone who shows up an hour early. “It feels like they have no regard for my time,” she says. If you’re headed to a job interview, don’t show up more than 10 minutes before; if you get there with time to spare, catch up on email or listen to relaxing music before heading in.

3. Your physical appearance matters.

“Research suggests that the decision to hire or to deselect a candidate is made within the first 90 seconds of the interview,” says human resources consultant Steve Cohen, author of Mess Management: Lessons from a Corporate Hit Man. That means you must arrive at a job interview in a clean, well-put-together outfit with neat fingernails, smoothed-down hair and fresh breath. Also, think twice about any eccentricities. “Some people might be able to look past pink hair and black nail polish, but it will affect their decision,” says Hladio.

4. Personal hygiene counts, too.

Smelling like cigarette smoke can work against you, as can having body odor. Because both conditions are within an individual’s control, an employee or job candidate who smells bad is viewed as lacking professionalism, Cohen says. Plus, an employee who smells bad is a public relations liability. Most companies won’t tolerate poor personal hygiene in an employee or potential employee.

5. You won’t get hired to work from home if you aren’t a “home professional.”

If you’re applying for a work-from-home position, you need to present yourself as a “home professional” from the get-go. This means that when HR first calls to express interest, there better not be crying babies or barking dogs in the background. “When an applicant has no control over the noise level in her home, it’s a signal that she’s not ready for virtual work,” says Shilonda Downing, who’s in charge of hiring for Virtual Work Team. You’ll also need a quiet home office space if you’re petitioning your current boss for work-from-home hours.

6. Being overweight can work against you.

Even though overweight individuals can be fast on their feet and slim people can be lazy, an interviewer might assume an obese job candidate won’t be able to keep up at a “high-performance” company. Cohen gives the example of a manufacturing company that prided itself on efficiency and speed. Every prospective employee was taken on a walking tour of the large plant before being hired. If the prospect couldn’t keep up with the owner’s fast pace on the facility tour, he or she wouldn’t be hired. If you’re worried your size may be working against you, Cohen suggests emphasizing how adept and resourceful you are.

7. Ageism (illegally) exists.

“People who have seen their 50th birthday are losing jobs to younger people, even though ageism is illegal,” says Dennis Kravetz, head of human resources consulting firm Kravetz Associates. Older employees hoping for a promotion need to be extra-vigilant about staying on top of trends and technology. In a job interview, emphasize what you’ve learned from years of experience and explain how you’ve grown along with your industry.

8. Your relationship is being monitored if you’re dating a coworker.

“Sometimes people meet their future spouse at the office,” says Cohen. “But mostly, dating coworkers is risky.” Even if dating among colleagues is allowed, a relationship that ends badly is going to affect other people in the office. It gets extra-tricky if a romantic relationship between a supervisor and his or her subordinate sours. “Human resources is watching behavior that could turn litigious,” warns former human resources executive J.T. O’Donnell, founder of Careerealism.com.

9. Your Internet usage is probably being documented.

Don’t assume there’s any level of confidentiality when it comes to company technology, whether it’s email, voicemail or indiscriminate use of the Internet, Cohen says. “In a situation where an employee’s integrity or credibility is in question, there will always be an audit of her computer usage.” That means your boss probably isn’t randomly checking to see how often you log on to Facebook. But if he’s looking for a reason to fire you, your computer records could provide easy ammunition.

10. Your good and bad behavior matter—but the bad matters more.

“Promotions have favoritism built in,” says Hladio. Good behavior and positive experiences have a “shelf life” of three to six months. You need to continually impress your employer in order to stand out as an exceptional employee. Bad behavior and negative experiences, on the other hand, can linger in an employer’s mind for years.

Original article appeared on WomansDay.com

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/life/10-things-the-hr-department-won-t-tell-you-2403604/

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Everyone has a boss. Even if you “work for yourself,” you’re still an employee to your client.

A big part of maintaining the boss-employee relationship is to never allow a boss to think you dislike your work, are incapable of doing it, or–worse–consider it beneath you.

These sound like no-brainers, but many statements heard commonly around the workplace violate these basic rules. Looking for an example? Here are seven heard in workplaces all the time. They may seem ordinary, even harmless. But try reading these from your boss’s point of view. You’ll see right away why it’s smart to never allow these seven sentences to pass your lips:

“That’s not my job.” You know what? A lot of bosses are simple souls who think your job is to do what’s asked of you. So even if you’re assigned a task that is, indeed, not your job, refrain from saying so. Instead, try to find out why your boss is assigning you this task–there may be a valid reason. If you believe that doing the task is a bad idea (as in, bad for the company) you can try explaining why and suggesting how it could be better done by someone else. This may work, depending on the boss. In any case, remember that doing what’s asked of you, even tasks outside your job description, is good karma.

“It’s not my problem.” When people say something is not their problem it makes them look like they don’t care. This does not endear them to anybody, especially the boss. If a problem is brewing and you have nothing constructive to say, it’s better to say nothing at all. Even better is to pitch in and try to help. Because, ultimately, a problem in the workplace is everyone’s problem. We’re all in it together.

“It’s not my fault.” Yet another four words to be avoided. Human nature is weird. Claiming that something is not our fault often has the result of making people suspect it is. Besides, what’s the real issue here? It’s that something went wrong and needs to be fixed. That’s what people should be thinking about–not who is to blame.

“I can only do one thing at a time.” News flash: Complaining you are overworked will not make your boss feel sorry for you or go easier on you. Instead, a boss will think: (1) you resent your job, and/or (2) you aren’t up to your job. Everybody, especially nowadays, feels pressured and overworked. If you’re trying to be funny, please note that some sarcasm is funny and lightens the mood. Some just ticks people off.

“I am way overqualified for this job.” Hey, maybe you are. But the fact is, this is the job you have. You agreed to take it on and, while you may now regret that decision, it’s still your job. Complaining that it’s beneath you only makes you look bad. Plus, coworkers doing similar jobs may resent and dislike you. And guess what? Bosses will not think, “Oh, this is a superior person whom I need to promote.” Nope, they’ll think, “What a jerk.”

“This job is easy! Anyone could do it!” Maybe what you’re trying to convey here is that you’re so brilliant your work is easy. Unfortunately, it comes off sounding more like, “This work is stupid.” Bosses don’t like hearing that any work is stupid. Nor do they really like hearing that a job is easy peasy. It belittles the whole enterprise. If a task is simple, be glad and do it as quickly as you can. Even “stupid” work needs to get done.

“It can’t be done.” Saying something can’t be done is like waving a red flag in a boss’s eyes. Even if the thing being suggested truly is impossible, saying it is can make you look ineffectual or incapable. Better to play detective. Why is the boss asking you to do whatever it is? What’s the problem that needs to be solved? What’s the goal? Search for doable ways of solving that problem or reaching that goal. That’s what bosses really want. Most of them do not expect the impossible.

Last words: When in doubt, remember that silence really is golden.

Karen Burns is the author of the illustrated career advice book The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, recently released by Running Press. She blogs at http://www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-Things-Never-to-Say-to-Your-usnews-226352592.html?x=0

by Erin Burt
Friday, May 1, 2009

You worked hard to get the education, the skills and now the job. Don’t let these mistakes sabotage your climb up the career ladder.

Lying on your résumé, stealing office supplies or failing to show up for work will surely dampen your career prospects. But young workers need to beware of less-obvious mistakes that can sabotage their careers. Your behavior, attitude and appearance will play important roles in finding success, not only in your first job, but also throughout your entire working life.

As someone just starting out in the work world, you probably don’t have a reputation yet. Take advantage of this blank slate. “You want to be seen as an up-and-comer, not the stereotypical young slacker,” says Marty Nemko, a job coach in Oakland, Cal., and columnist for Kiplinger.com. Avoiding these seven career killers will help you craft a stellar reputation and keep your career on track.

1. Procrastinating. Remember the first time you put off studying for a test then crammed at the last minute and still got a decent grade? Many of us have been procrastinating since grade school and have done just fine, but that’s a habit you have to break. “There’s no grade inflation in the workplace,” says Nemko. If you pull together a report or presentation at the last minute, your shoddy preparation is going to show. And if something unexpected happens — say your computer crashes or a key contact fails to return a call — the old “dog-ate-my-homework” excuse isn’t going to cut it. “Procrastination is an ingrained habit,” Nemko says, “but if you don’t kick it pretty quick, you’re going to find yourself on the corporate slow track.”

2. Having a sense of entitlement. Our generation was raised on instant gratification — we’re used to getting what we want, and getting it now. Yet when it comes to our careers, no matter how hard we work, we cannot get five years’ worth of experience in one year. Younger employees tend to feel entitled to quick promotions, says Randall Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers and associate professor of marketing at Stetson University in Deland, Fla. Falling into that trap can hinder a climb up the career ladder. If you carry the attitude that you deserve to be promoted or else, you may find that “or else” is your only option, says Hansen.

If you’re lucky enough to even have a job in this economy, remember that fresh out of school, you’re on the bottom rung of the career ladder. That means you’re going to have to pay some dues, such as taking on jobs others don’t want or working days others want off. But that doesn’t mean you should accept your low status forever. Learn more about how to know when it’s time to move up — and how to pull it off.

3. Settling into your job description. You may have your set responsibilities, but you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to shine. Going above and beyond your mundane entry-level tasks can demonstrate your untapped talents and show your boss you’re not afraid to take initiative. Settle into your job description for too long and your reputation may be cast as a low-level lackey.

You may have to do a little self-promotion, but try not to come off as a braggart. Nemko’s daughter, for example, got her first job working for Hillary Clinton — but her job description was to answer letters to Socks, the Clintons’ pet cat. Soon after starting, she approached her boss and said she was willing to pay her dues, but that she had good research and writing skills. She pointed out that she might be useful on some other task. A few days went by and her boss asked her to research a topic and write a one-page brief for Clinton. She ended up spending a year as a researcher — that certainly beats handling feline fan mail.

4. Avoiding office politics. When it comes to playing office politics, there is naughty and nice. Naturally, you shouldn’t engage in backstabbing and gossiping. But avoiding politics altogether can be deadly for your career. Like it or not, every workplace has an intricate system of power, and you can — and should — work it ethically to your best advantage. To get a promotion, avoid downsizing or get a project approved, you need co-worker support. Get that backing by building relationships, asking others for advice, offering your help and showing sincere interest in others, advises Nemko. (Learn more about how to make yourself fire-resistant in the workplace.)

It’s also crucial to identify your workplace’s hidden pockets of power. On paper, a certain person may be in charge, but you need to know who else in the office has influence so you can be sure to impress the right people.

5. Not being a team player. Getting stuck with this label is one of the fastest career killers, says Hansen. But young workers face a delicate balance. “You can’t be so much a member of the team that your individual efforts are not recognized and rewarded,” Hansen says. You still need to demonstrate your skills and abilities to successfully build your career without giving the appearance that you’re interested only in looking out for yourself.

6. Not dressing the part. In an ideal world, you would be judged by your merits alone. However, we live in a visual society. How you present yourself can play a crucial role in the progress of your career. You want to look professional and in control, not sloppy and indifferent. Keep your hair and nails trimmed, your clothes ironed and your breath smelling nice.

As for your apparel, take your cues from what others are wearing — you don’t want to show up in a suit and tie if jeans are the norm. But it doesn’t hurt to dress for the job you want, advises Nemko. It can set you apart from the rest of the crowd and subtly help higher-ups visualize you in a position of more power and responsibility. If you want people to take you more seriously and build influence, you’ve got to dress the part. See Dress for Success for Less for tips on pulling this off on a budget.

7. Failing to network. You’ve heard that networking can be a good tool to help you find a job, but maintaining your contacts after you’re hired is critical to the continuing success of your career. Keeping in touch helps you stay atop the latest issues in your field and gives you people to call on when you need advice. And a contact just may help you land your next job.

When you’re starting out, you probably don’t know many people in your field, but there are plenty of ways you can plug into the grapevine:

  • Check out the resources offered by your college alumni association.
  • Join a professional organization or club.
  • Subscribe to a trade magazine.
  • Find online discussion groups for your industry through groups.google.com.
  • Keep in touch with college acquaintances in your major, especially those who may have graduated before you.
  • Don’t be a wallflower at conferences and other functions. And always keep a business card on hand when you’re outside the office. You never know when you might run into a potential contact.

Don’t forget to build rapport with higher-ups in your office. You can introduce yourself at informal company socials or even while riding in the elevator. Then send them an e-mail or stop by their office to ask an occasional question or to follow up on something you chatted about previously. You never know when that friendship could come in handy down the road.

http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/107022/Seven-Career-Killers

If you’re worried about getting laid off, here’s some consolation: So is everyone else. Follow these do’s and don’ts to raise the odds that your job stays, well, yours.

DO take credit… but don’t “walk around with a big neon sign that says I’M GREAT,” says career coach Marie McIntyre. “Look for opportunities to let people know what you’re doing.” One good strategy: Create a paper trail by copying your boss on e-mail (selectively!). And periodically take the initiative to send a summary of what you’re working on.

DON’T ask for a raise or a promotion. Be patient, and be grateful for now that you’ve got a job.

DO volunteer for more work. Companies are making cuts, so someone needs to pick up the extra work. Do it with a smile, and you’re a dream employee.

DO arrive early and stay late. This is obvious and no longer optional. Make your commitment visible by pulling long hours. Also, lay off the text messaging or personal calls during business hours.

DON’T telecommute. “[Bosses] tend to fire people they don’t like or don’t know,” says Stephen Viscusi, author of “Bulletproof Your Job.” Working from home or part-time makes it harder for your boss to know you, so avoid it if you can.

DO chat up your boss and your boss’s boss. If you’re at the cafeteria, strike up a conversation. “Executives love to talk about business, and they’re often as uneasy talking with you as you are with them,” says McIntyre. Be ready with a question, like “I just read about something our competitor’s doing. What’s your take on that?”

DON’T be eccentric. Now’s the time to fit in completely. “Buy some Crest White Strips. Look like you belong there,” says career expert Stephen Viscusi. “Don’t wear perfume or cologne, because maybe you’re wearing the perfume of your boss’s ex-wife.”

DO feel your boss’s pain. If you feel as if you’re being marginalized, talk with your manager and find out what his or her priorities are these days. Ask your boss, “What are your biggest goals right now, and how can I help?”

DON’T be high maintenance. Even if layoffs are necessary, they can also serve as an excuse for companies to fire people they wanted to get rid of anyway. Why? The most frequent issue is attitude: People who are demanding, difficult, or whiny, or otherwise take up too much of their manager’s energy, are the first to go.

If you need something from your boss, there’s a right and a wrong way to ask. “Use the magic phrase, ‘I really want to make this work,'” suggests Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career coach who specializes in counseling financial services professionals. Be clear you’re committed to finding a solution that helps the company. “The worst approach is ‘I don’t have this, I don’t have that,'” Brown-Volkman says. Instead, show how your business will benefit from a fix. If you can’t, then let it go. And always be ready with a solution or two.

The bottom line: Make your boss’s job easier, not harder.

DO stay informed. Set a Google alert for your company so that you’re up on what’s going on. You’ll have a better sense for when layoffs are coming. Plus, smart employees know how their piece of the business fits into the larger picture of what’s happening at the company.

DON’T gossip about the company. It’s tempting to compare notes with co-workers, but obsessing about your fears will only distract you from being productive. “It’s a diversion of your energy, and whatever answers you’re coming up with aren’t that helpful,” says Haberfeld.

DO a self-review. Try this exercise: Imagine your boss, your boss’s boss, and the HR director all sitting in a room, categorizing people. What are they going to say about you? How much do they value your work?

DON’T panic! There may still be a way to save your job if your boss tells you you’re being laid off. “These are the words you always hear: ‘Listen, we have to let you go – it’s a numbers thing,'” says Viscusi. He suggests negotiating and offering to take less pay or work fewer days in the week.

“If they still say no,” he says, “now you’re calling their bluff, allowing yourself to open a bigger severance envelope.” That’s because if a company has trouble explaining why it fired you, there’s room for you to sue for wrongful termination. Some managers might decide it’s easier to throw some money in your direction now than risk losing more down the road.

Article: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/fortune/0901/gallery.yang_bestcompanies_tips.fortune/6.html

Picture: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_oHF-qUKh09c/SPeyYB3nzQI/AAAAAAAAKHA/N7fX6xPDEiw/s400/01.jpg

As we approach the new year, there is a big uncertainty looming everywhere. For a large majority of people, the uncertainty is about their job. Is it safe? In other words, will they have a job or not?

I think the real question should be “Is someone really employable in the new economy or not?” but that’s a topic for another discussion.

This is a quick exercise to do a status check on the “safety” of your job. The questionnaire is in no way complete. The focus is to make you think beyond the “job responsibilities” outlined in your offer letter.

Note: Not all questions are relevant for people at all levels.

1. Is your job core to what the company stands for?

When there is a crisis, an organization tends to drop non-core and adjacent activities. The approach will be to play to their strengths to survive and thrive. If your job does not contribute to the strengths of the organization, you have to quickly re-invent yourself so that it does align with the company core purpose. If what you bring aligns with the strengths of the company, the follow-up question is “how much capacity are you adding to the company?”

2. What will the company/department lose by eliminating your job?

Please note that the question is not, “What will the company gain by keeping you in that job?”

During a crisis, avoiding threats (rather than going after opportunities) will take center stage. If there is no significant threat, there is no big safety net for the job. Even when you are in a strategic R&D project, look at what this R&D project will mean to the company. If you are not happy with the answer, it’s time to re-think, re-invent, and re-act.

3. Who is borrowing the brand power?

Is your department proud of you because of your personal brand? OR

Are you proud of the brand of your department?

The answer should ideally be: Both

4. What is the assessment of your “value” in the eyes of the stakeholders?

If the answer is vague, such as “A lot” or “Significant,” you have to re-visit the topic. Can you quantify your value in some measure, and is that value justifiable?

5. Is your job “offshorable?”

If your job can be moved offshore, then chances are it will be-in some form or fashion. In other words, you have to question yourself about whether you are doing commodity work. If you are doing work that a machine can do or someone in another country can do for a smaller fee, the chances of those moves may be very high. The thing is that you may not have control of your job if you are engaged in commodity work.

6. Do you care as if it’s your own?

If you don’t care about your product as if it’s your own, you can’t expect the company to do that (about you) either. When you care as if it’s your own, the passion is clear. Passionate people win-all the time. In troubled times, an organization needs passionate people to keep the place alive. And, the thing about passion and caring is that you can’t fake them.

7. Can you handle office politics well?

OK, you may not like office politics, but if you are working in an office, you better learn to deal with it. All else being equal, someone who knows how to deal with office politics will always come out a winner.

8. What is the cost of maintaining you?

There is the cost that you can measure (money, overhead, etc.) and there is the cost that is “real”-which includes, but is not limited to, the emotional cost of dealing with you everyday. For example, if you like to whine a lot, you increase your cost of maintenance. In troubled times, if your real cost to the company is significantly higher than the measurable costs, you are in trouble.

9. Are you likeable?

Unless you work for NASA, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. In tough times (and probably all times) a combination of 7 out of 10 on skills and 9 out of 10 on attitude is preferred to the other way around. If you are not likeable, it will hurt you in ways you would never imagine. People don’t always make rational decisions, but they will definitely rationalize it after they have made the decision. So, people may not dismiss you because you are not likeable, but they will find a way to justify why they dismiss you beyond the likeability factor.

[Thanks to Cool Friend Raj Setty for providing us all with these questions for self-examination. Raj works with entrepreneurs to bring ideas to life and spread their adoption. You can learn more about him at www.rajeshsetty.com or follow him on his blog, Life Beyond Code, or on Twitter @UpbeatNow.]

Source: New World of Work


What is particularly dismal about the situation is that the most ardent proponents of this bastardized work ethic — the same people who have promoted the similarly bastardized version of The Golden Rule — are the ones who most benefit from the efforts of the less benefited slaves under them.  The American Aristocracy, for example, are living in the best of circumstances — a situation directly attributed to the fact they those who work for anyone, are indeed working for someone’s benefit other than that of the worker.

Note for example, that in 1970, the average Chief Executive Officer of a corporation was receiving in total compensation an average of 47 times the compensation of the lowest paid worker of that corporation.  In 2002, this multiplier had arrived at an average value of roughly 500.  This is hideous in the extreme!  One CEO, after laying off thousands of workers, was boastful of saving the company 25 million dollars in wages and benefits.  Her salary, by the way, was 75 million dollars — or three times the alleged savings.

The Corporate Rule version of the work ethic — the essence of Capitalism — can thus never be considered to be a good thing when anyone’s efforts and work benefit an owner or employer far more than it benefits the worker.  Working for anyone — that is to say working so that others reap the bulk of the benefits of the work, and do so without the willing and enthusiastic consent of the worker — is a travesty.  The fact that the Boards of Directors of these corporations allow this highway robbery is an example of the pointless nature of having a board to begin with — especially when CEOs and other regularly control the boards with all manner of legalized barn carpeting.  [And with the members of the board receiving equally unconscionable fees may also have something to do with it.]

Capitalism is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.  But employer/employee wage ratios of 50 to 500 (or more) quickly becomes unconscionable.  The idea that an employer gives an employee a job or work is ludicrous.  Rather an employer entices an employee to work for others by establishing an organization where all can benefit according to their contribution.

Source:  http://www.halexandria.org


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