The work advantages of being multilingual

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By David McKee, HR director, Lingo24 Inc.
With more companies looking to take their offerings to a global audience, the demand for bilingual employees is growing. If you can speak more than one language, then you could be in high demand. Here’s how employees can make their multilingual skills work for them.

Hit the books
If you’re considering going to college, you should think about studying a language. Not only does it give you the skills to speak another language, but it hones writing, reading and listening abilities too. All these skills are vital if you’re hoping to work as competently in another language as in your mother tongue.
Also consider whether you should combine a language subject with another course to widen your skills and make applying your language skills even easier after graduation. If so, look at which languages complement which industries to maximize future career opportunities. Although the language itself may not be your first choice, it means you’re already creating career opportunities further down the line in the right area or country. German and Engineering, Politics and French, Italian and History of Art are all good examples of how the two can work well together.

Balance work and study
Studying a language isn’t just for undergraduates. It may take a little more effort on your part, but evening or weekend language courses are a great place to learn another language if you’re already in the professional sector. If you’re based near a college or university, look at what it has to offer. College courses can sometimes offer other resources (foreign DVDs, magazines, newspapers, etc.), which can supplement lessons you may get from a tutor.
Speak to your employer about receiving partial or full tuition reimbursement for the course, too. If you can show that learning another language will increase your and the company’s productivity or foothold in a particular market, then it can be as effective as any other training course. What’s more, it shows that you understand the global aspirations of the company.

Create opportunities through language skills
Those who already have language skills but are lacking specific work experience should make the most of internships in the country in which they have language proficiency. The fact that you can speak another language isn’t going to guarantee you the position if you know nothing about the industry. These opportunities also offer the chance to get a unique and direct insight into the market or sector, both of which are going to make you stand out from the crowd during an interview.
International work experience is exciting for an employer, at any stage in a career: It shows a professional ability to work in different environments and with various cultures, and this is a quality that can benefit any office or team.

Sell your love of languages
Languages are a good find on a résumé, but if you don’t sell their benefits to an employer, they can sometimes get lost. Studying a language or being brought up bilingually inevitably gives you a greater historical and cultural understanding of the country. Any company looking to seriously market or trade in a different country needs to know and understand the slight cultural nuances, what is expected and the style of business in order to build and maintain strong relations with foreign clients. If you can offer that insight to an employer, you’re in a good position to succeed.

Enhance your — and your employer’s — skills
Bilingual job seekers should also be willing to learn another language, especially if your current skills don’t completely match with the ambitions of the company. Having learned one foreign language, you have the tools to learn another; it won’t happen overnight, but a little hard work could see you take your skills and tailor them to the needs of the company, which is an attractive selling point for an employer.

Meeting, convention and event planner: Both work and fun

Everybody has a friend who throws fabulous parties, knows the best restaurants or has a suggestion for what to do on the weekends. These social butterflies understand the specifics that go into creating a well-received event, down to the venue to choose, food and travel logistics and the guests to invite.
But did you know that this party-savvy personality is an essential part of the business world as well? Called meeting, convention and event planners, these detail-oriented experts know how to run the show. They coordinate all aspects of professional meetings and events, including location booking and transportation arrangements. They also help facilitate other details in conjunction with internal teams, such as marketing or sales.
The party's just getting started for meeting, convention and event planners and those interested in pursuing this career. The occupation has seen 10 percent job growth since 2010, and there are 12 active candidates for every 25 jobs posted.* Better yet, this field is expected to continue growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation is projected to grow 44 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS notes, "As globalization increases and businesses continue to recognize the value of professionally planned meetings, the need for meetings and events is expected to grow." Those interested in a career as a meeting, convention and event planner can look forward to a median annual pay of $47,380.
In order to maintain a successful business, education is key. While 50 percent of meeting, convention and event planners have a bachelor's degree, others have chosen different education routes. But according to the BLS, "Job opportunities should be best for candidates with a bachelor's degree in hospitality management."
  • Doctorate or professional degree -- 1 percent
  • Master's degree -- 10 percent
  • Bachelor's degree -- 50 percent
  • Associate degree -- 8 percent
  • Some college, no degree -- 20 percent
Some common educational courses or programs that meeting, convention and event planners take include meeting and event planning, sales and sales operations and hospitality management.
Skills and experience
Businesses that book meeting, convention and event planners expect a well-organized event and someone who can understand their needs and requirements. So it's essential that these workers excel at customer service, clerical skills, sales and marketing, reading comprehension, verbal communication and time management/coordination.
These skills are perfected over time, which is why many meeting, convention and event planners stay in their role long term. Twenty-eight percent of meeting, convention and event planners have six to 10 years of experience; 18 percent have 11 to 15 years of experience and 21 percent have three to five years of experience.
Where the jobs are
Though this occupation has 12 active candidates for every 25 jobs posted, there are some areas in the country where meeting, convention and event planner jobs are especially abundant. The top cities to find these jobs are Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; and Atlanta.
Depending on the organization such planners work for and the industry in which they specialize, this occupation may go by other titles, including travel guide, program director, general and operations manager and spa and resort manager.
As the economy improves and more businesses are able to invest in well-organized events, the demand for meeting, convention and event planners will only continue to grow.

How to Get Through to Anyone On the Phone During Your Job Search

Get through to people who can influence your job hunt

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Cold calling. It can strike fear in any job seeker's mind. Ideally, you'd always have an introduction to someone you want to speak to on the phone, but realistically, it isn't always possible to warm up your leads. Do you have a resolution to get in touch with some new contacts? How can you successfully get through to people who have the power to positively influence your job hunt?

The key is to plan ahead and prepare for all options.

1. Research the organization so you can sound intelligent.

Never try to cold call anyone before you have a well thought out plan and a reason to reach your contact. Create a script so you can practice what to say in advance. If you cannot articulate to yourself exactly what you hope to accomplish from the call, stop now and figure it out first. Potential outcomes you may expect: an in-person meeting, a referral to another contact or some immediate advice or information that may help you with your job search goals.

2. Never cold call without a name in mind.

This should go without saying, but you are unlikely to be connected if you ask for "the head of marketing." No matter what you say, the person answering the phone knows you are not a trusted colleague and is not going to put you through.

3. Plan for potential outcomes.

What if your contact actually answers the phone, and you were expecting a receptionist? Are you prepared to launch directly into your quick pitch? On the other hand, what if it's your fifth time calling, and you get the answering machine? You don't want to leave a rambling message; plan ahead so you'll know what to say.

If a gatekeeper answers the phone, be prepared to give a good reason to pass along a message: "I met Ms. XYZ at the ABC event last night, and she suggested I get in touch to arrange a meeting." (This is a great opening line only if it is true!) Alternatively, you may say you are working on a project and wish to include her insights. If you don't think you're getting what you need, you can always request to be transferred to voice mail.

4. Convince gatekeepers to become your ally.

If, every time you call for your target contact, the same receptionist picks up the phone, you can sometimes win favor by being attentive to his or her needs and being very polite and accommodating. Never sound annoyed or disappointed or take out your frustration on the gatekeeper who is just doing his or her job.

A simple inquiry, for example, "I wonder if you'd be willing to help me?" can go a long way. In our book, 100 Conversations for Career Success, Laura Labovich and I also suggest you get the gatekeeper's name and make a point to convince that person to provide useful information for you. You may say, "I hate to keep bothering you ... Can you tell me a good time to reach Mr. XYZ?"

5. Timing is everything.

Consider the scenario: it's the end of a busy day, and your contact is anxiously finishing things before leaving for the evening. You call. What are the chances of getting through to someone not expecting to hear from you? Morning is usually a better time than evening, but if you can learn something about the person's schedule, you'll be more likely to reach him or her. If your target contact uses social media, you can try to see if anything posted there may help you. For example, if he's traveling or at an event, you'll want to time your call for another day.

6. Don't spend too much time on small talk; get to the point.

No one really cares about the weather; you probably have two or three sentences worth of talking before the person decides if you are worth more time or not. This is your pitch: Use those words well. What can you say? Focus on what you can do for the person, not what you want him or her to do for you.

7. Leave a compelling voice mail message.

Sometimes, you need to leave a message. Say something compelling to pique the person's interest. For example, you may indicate you have information you'd like to share about a particular issue you know the individual is facing, or you can say you're seeking the contact's expertise for a project.

8. Be polite, but persistent.

Follow up. If you say you're going to be in touch, and you are not, that isn't very persuasive, and it's unlikely you'll ever be hired by that company.

Can My Employer Trash Me In References?

6 things you need to know about job references

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Suzanne Lucas, better known as the Evil HR Lady (she's very nice and not evil at all), did an interesting article about what employers are saying about former employees in references. Hint: It's not good.

Lucas says this: "Reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor estimates that 50 percent of their reference checks come back negative or lukewarm." If you want to chill your blood, read the article for some actual things employers have said about employees.

Yet I constantly hear comments like, "I know my employer is only legally allowed to give out my dates of employment and job title." The people who say this are so sure this is the law. They're also wrong, wrong, wrong. They even get angry when I tell them they're wrong.

I also got this unusual question from an AOL reader:
After an employer lays off an employee can they legally send damaging surveillance audio of the employee as a negative endorsement to the discharged employee's prospective employer to prevent the employee from being hired, or as an employment reference?

Can an employer send out damaging surveillance audio of an employee in general to whoever they want as revenge against an employee they do not like?
Wow. Just when I think I've heard it all. Employers sending out revenge videos of former employees as part of their reference is a new one on me. Never underestimate the vindictiveness of a former employer.

Here are six things you need to know about job references:
  1. Not one single federal law exists limiting what employers can say in references. I know you think you're sure about this law existing. You probably heard it from a friend or on TV. There is no such law.
  2. No state prohibits employers from giving out truthful information about an employee's job performance. There is not a single state law that I've found (and I'm sure my employment lawyer colleagues around the country will chime in if they know of one) saying that employers can only give out dates of employment and job title. Discussing job performance is allowed.
  3. Most states don't require employers to give any reference at all. Some vindictive employers will simply refuse to return calls from prospective employers. Employees who have to undergo background checks may be disqualified from a job just because a former employer refused to speak. While some states require employers to give out specific limited information, most require nothing at all from former employers. This can also be a problem if you need to apply for unemployment or public assistance.
  4. Some states require employers to give former employees a letter with specific information (varies from state to state). These states are California, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas and Washington. You can check out each state's requirements here.
  5. Most states give employers some immunity from slander and libel suits. Each state's immunity is a little different, but employers in most states get a lot of leeway in what they can say about former employees.
  6. Truth is always a defense to a slander or libel suit. Even in states without immunity, if your employer gives out truthful information, you won't be able to sue for slander or libel. Truth is a defense. If your employer makes false statements of fact (as opposed to opinion), such as falsely saying you stole money or didn't meet quota, then you might have a defamation case against them.

When you leave, it's important to figure out what your former employer is going to say about you to potential employers before you start interviewing. Here are some things you can do to find out.
  • Ask: Some employers will tell you, if you ask them, what they will say to potential employers in references. Find out if, for instance, they'll say you're eligible for rehire.
  • Put it in an agreement: If you're presented with a severance agreement, one important point to negotiate will be neutral references. A contract where the employer agrees to only give out dates of employment and job title can be enforced.
  • Check the union contract: If you have a union, many collective bargaining agreements include a provision that the employer can only give out dates of employment and job title.
  • Look at your handbook: Many companies have a neutral reference policy. Some have a phone number or person where you're supposed to direct references. A company with a neutral reference policy will usually follow it. They have it for a reason. If you find out your former supervisor is violating the policy, complain to HR or the supervisor's boss. They may get in trouble, and will almost certainly be ordered to cut it out.
  • Reference-checking company: There are companies that will pretend to be potential employers and check references for you. They can give you a report about what your former employer is saying. If they're saying something untrue, you may want to get a lawyer to write a cease and desist letter for you.

Now, to answer the question about the revenge video, if there is audio on that recording then there are laws that limit recording of conversations. I wrote an article last week on this topic from the employee's perspective. I don't know of any law that would prevent an employer from disclosing a video with no audio to a prospective employer. California has proposed a revenge porn law that would prohibit nude or sexual photos and videos from being posted, but hopefully even a vindictive employer wouldn't do that. Or would they?

Have a reference horror story? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section. I'll be there as @EmployeeAtty (which is also my Twitter handle).

For The Love of Travel: Jobs That Take You Places

Hospitality industry careers can be exotic or close to home

aerial view of downtown Georgetown showing cruise ships in the harbor
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By Holly Johnson

A career in hospitality management could lead almost anywhere ... literally. Those who climb the ranks in travel and tourism can find themselves working and living in exotic destinations abroad, sailing the open seas on a cruise ship or touring the most mysterious and beautiful places on Earth.

A degree in hospitality management could lead to a career managing a hotel or resort, overseeing day-to-day activities, procedures and guests. Or, it could lead to a job as a cruise ship director, sorting through the complex issues and requirements that come with leaving port and sailing the open sea for weeks at a time. With a career in hospitality management, the possibilities are only limited by what the world has to offer. And, with so many amazing career options available, it's no wonder that many students are choosing to pursue degrees in this field.

Gaining the education and skills needed
Hospitality management encompasses a wide range of industries and careers, including travel, tourism, restaurant management and lodging. The following options are available for students who want to turn their passion for travel into a career in hospitality management:

Certificate programs: There are a variety of certificate programs available for hospitality management majors. A certificate program, while not for credit, may add value to a résumé or serve as continuing education for those already working in the field. Specialized certificates can help upper-level professionals learn new skills or make a lateral move within their organization.

Associate degree: In general, students who earn an associate degree gain a basic understanding of all facets of the hospitality industry including lodging, food and beverage, travel and tourism. An associate degree could be completed in as little as two years of full-time study, and programs are available online as well as on campus. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many lodging managers, in particular, are required to have a bachelor's degree in order to be considered for employment. However, an associate degree may suffice for students pursuing a nonmanagement hotel position or any position within the restaurant or tourism industries.

Bachelor's degree: Students pursuing a bachelor's degree typically gain a fundamental understanding of core business principles, best practices in hospitality management and strategies for effective leadership. In many cases, students in these programs can choose to take elective courses that align with their interests. Some possible options include hotel management, event management, international tourism, labor relations, or hospitality entrepreneurship. Individuals who pursue this degree can choose from a variety of accredited online schools or on-campus options, and may be able to earn their degree in as little as four years of full-time study.

Master's degree: Individuals who earn a master's degree may be able to gain employment in senior management, convention services, real estate development projects or strategic development and planning. Most master's degree programs can be completed in as little as two years of full-time study.

Doctorate degree: Students who want to study advanced concepts within the field of hospitality and tourism can choose to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in hotel, restaurant or institutional management. These programs typically cover concepts in facilities management and strategy, institutional management, branding, human resources, sales and marketing. Although outcomes may vary, those who graduate with a doctorate might move on to become hospitality researchers or professors at a university level.

A degree in hospitality management can help graduates get their foot in the door in nearly any one of the careers mentioned so far. However, on-the-job experience is just as important, if not more important, than formal education. Hospitality managers need excellent customer service, communication and organizational skills, as well as the ability to lead effectively and solve problems as they arise. Listening skills are also crucial for professionals in hospitality management, as they encounter a wide range of requests from various customers, vendors and employees on a daily basis.

Jobs to consider
Those who graduate with a degree in hospitality management could find themselves working in nearly any role within the travel and hospitality industry. Possibilities include hotel and resort manager, spa and relaxation coordinator, restaurant or catering manager, cruise director, casino and gaming manager, or event planner. Salaries in this field can vary widely depending on location, education and experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that lodging managers earned a median annual wage of $46,810 nationally in 2012, while food service managers earned a median wage of $47,960. Meeting, convention and event planners also took home a healthy paycheck in 2012, earning a median wage of $45,810 nationally.

5 tips for designing an employee recognition program that works

To remain engaged on the job and sustain peak performance, your employees need to know their efforts are appreciated and their contributions valued. Employee recognition is an essential form of feedback that can mean the difference between a satisfied, cohesive team and a collection of disenchanted individuals.
Recognition shouldn't happen only when you feel like it or have the time. While spontaneous gestures of acknowledgement and gratitude are good, a formal recognition program will reinforce and reward employees for behaviors and achievements that align with your company's objectives.
A formal recognition program is also equitable, because it ensures all employees will get the same awards for similar types of accomplishments. In other words, formal programs correct the natural tendency to focus only on star performers.
Whether you're developing a recognition program from the ground up or fine-tuning an existing program, the following tips may help make your program more powerful.

Define performance targets and qualifying criteria. Let's say you want to acknowledge employees for going above and beyond. First, how will you define that? Suppose you decide it means working late into the night or on weekends. Will you reward such effort for all projects or only high-priority ones? How much extra time will earn a reward? If it was a collaborative effort, does the group get a single prize, or will you give something to each member?
It's also important know why you are recognizing and supporting a certain behavior. Using the example above, is working overtime a practice you wish to reinforce? You don't want to inadvertently reward work habits that may arise from inefficiency or send the message that employees must work additional hours to receive acknowledgement.
Make the rewards meaningful. Awards do not have to be monetary. An elegant plaque that a staff member can display deskside -- in full view of co-workers and clients -- might be far more meaningful and motivational than a gift card to a fancy restaurant, for example.
Also keep in mind that while immediate rewards are important, longer-term prizes, such as advancement along one's career path, often carry more weight. Promotions can be the best reward of all.
Share the praise and the prizes. Formal recognition should be all-inclusive. For example, if you launch a program for the accounting staff at your company, give some thought to designing a comparable one for administrative personnel.
Every employee has the potential to contribute to better client service and improved revenues and, therefore, should be eligible for formal recognition. Design your program so everyone has a shot at recognition, even if a particular individual is not a high-profile member of the team.
Keep it real. As you identify behaviors and achievements to recognize, beware of the "high-five syndrome:" applauding virtually every task employees complete. This dilutes the impact of the recognition program.
Employees may stop putting forth their best effort, because they see that mediocrity and excellence are equally rewarded. Reward only exemplary, not basic, performance. You're setting a standard for all employees to aspire to, so show them that rewards are earned, not given away.
Get employees involved. If you solicit input from your employees about the program, it will be more effective. Ask whether they consider the rewards you've selected meaningful and valuable.
You may want to involve your most senior employees in decisions about guidelines and performance criteria. They'll have useful insights into exactly what it takes to deliver top performance. The more your team feels connected to the program, the more likely they will want to work toward rewards.
If you create a program that prompts team members to use their knowledge and abilities to make a real difference in their clients' lives, not only will you motivate staff, but your company's balance sheet also will reflect enhanced productivity and client service.

What Your Interview Clothing Color Says About You

The best -- and worst -- colors to wear to a job interview

By Debra Auerbach

"Orange is the New Black" may be a popular Netflix show, but when it comes to interview outfits, orange definitely isn't the new black – or blue.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, employers most often recommend blue (23 percent) and black (15 percent) when advising job seekers on what to wear to an interview. Orange topped the list for the worst color (25 percent of employers) and was the color most likely to be connected with someone who is unprofessional.

The attributes associated with your outfit color

If you're vying for a management position, you may want to consider wearing black. According to the survey, many employers associate black with the attribute of leadership. If you want to come across as a team player, wear blue; if you're trying to convey a sense of power, don red.

Other key attributes employers pointed to:

Gray -- logical/analytical
White -- organized
Brown -- dependable
Green, yellow, orange or purple -- all four colors were associated with being creative

Dressing for success

While the color of your interview outfit may have some influence, you need to consider your overall look if you want to impress. Wearing baggy pants, a blinged-out blazer or beaten-up shoes won't do you any favors.

CareerBuilder experts offer the following tips to dress for success when meeting with a potential employer:

Dress for the environment, but don't get too casual. If everyone is dressed in shorts and flip flops and you show up in a business suit, you may not come across as the right fit. Dress according to the environment, but always look polished. Wear a suit where appropriate or at the very least a nice pair of pants or skirt and collared shirt or blouse.

Stick with neutrals. You can't go wrong with navy, black, brown and gray. You can pair this with a classic white button-down shirt or incorporate a splash of a more vibrant color. For instance, wear a navy suit with a red necklace or a white shirt with a green tie.

Tailor your outfit. Clothing that is too tight or revealing can leave an unfavorable impression. Clothing that is too loose can make you look like a kid wearing your dad's suit. Make sure your interview apparel complements your shape.

Don't distract the interviewer. Wacky ties, loud patterns and oversized jewelry can cause the interviewer to spend more time wondering about your outfit than your skills. Solids or small patterns are your best bet for interview attire.

Pay attention to details. Make sure shoes are polished, clothes are wrinkle-free and nails are manicured. Be mindful of your choice of belt, tie clip, hosiery, socks, etc.

Why December Is Prime Time For Your Job Search

Companies often 'find' money they must spend by year's end

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You think the holidays are a great time to kick back and take a break from your job search. "No one is hiring now, anyway." Think again! Year after year, research shows December can be a great month for landing opportunities, so it is a big mistake to take a break now. Here are six reasons to ramp up your job search at this time of year.

1. Companies sometimes "find" money they need to spend at this time of year.
Wouldn't it be nice to suddenly discover money you didn't know you had? That happens more often than you think at large companies. They realize at the 11th hour that they have enough in the budget to fill extra positions, but they need to get the people in seats before the end of the year, or the money will disappear. If you stop looking for a job or get lackadaisical about checking emails, you may lose an opportunity and never even know it.

2. A lot of people think December is a good month to stop searching for jobs.
Not everyone is keeping up with the latest and greatest when it comes to job search like you are! A lot of your peers are taking the easy road and sitting back this month. As a result, the competition is a little less fierce, and it could mean you have an opportunity to jump on a job before your otherwise more qualified colleague stops to check job listings.

Anyone in the careers industry, including resume writers and job search strategists, will tell you that January is typically a very busy time, because that's when many people try to fulfill their new year's resolutions that involve getting out of jobs they hate. Don't sit back and wait to re-enter the pool with everyone else! Get ramped up now to take advantage of possible opportunities.

3. Unexpected openings.
Some companies give big bonuses at this time of year, and employees who were waiting for those big checks to clear before giving notice will begin to announce their intention to leave – or, in some cases, just walk out the door. When you make yourself available, you will give yourself potential opportunities that would otherwise pass you by.

4. Surprise projects during an otherwise slow time may yield temporary gigs.
We all know a lot of people take time off during the holidays. If the organization finds itself in need of extra, warm bodies to get the work done while their typical team is vacationing and decking the halls, it gives you an opportunity to step in as a contract or temporary worker. This gives you the chance to audition for a role in the company, even if you know the regular employee is coming back. If you are impressive enough, the organization may find a place for you.

5. Being available may get you half-way there.
When recruiters are in a hurry or hiring managers have an urgent need, the fact that you get right back to them during a holiday period will make you stand out and give a good impression. There aren't a lot of other times during the year when just being prompt makes such a difference.

6. Networking opportunities increase.
Networking is the best way to find a job and the holidays are nothing if not a good opportunity to network. While it's best to touch base with your network throughout the year, now is arguably the time when you can feel comfortable writing a note to someone who hasn't heard one word from you all year long. Don't turn all of your holiday notes into pleas for a job, but you can subtly incorporate your future plans into a note wishing your colleagues well. Many people do have a little less work to do at this time of year and may be willing to meet for coffee or lunch. If you can finesse a reason for one of your contacts to meet with you, when opportunities come up early in the year, you will be top-of-mind.

Find the Hidden Career Potential In Your Dead-End Job

How to see the value in every position

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As a GenY kid, you were probably rewarded for dreaming big, encouraged to aspire to do great things and pushed to go for that C-suite office.

But that go-big-or-go-home attitude can cast a shadow on other job opportunities that might not be as glamorous. If you truly want to become a hotshot executive one day, you have to start somewhere. And the difference between an ordinary employee and one who becomes a leader is the ability to see value in every position.

In this tough job market, don't overlook potential opportunities in stereotypically less-than-desirable positions. Ask yourself these questions to help differentiate an opportunity from a dead end, particularly when you're considering a position that may have not been your first choice or target.

1. Will you interact with customers?

You can use direct consumer interaction as an amazing opportunity. The chance to listen to customers and learn what they really think about a product is invaluable.

Take a retail job, for example. These positions are sometimes referenced as dead-end jobs for the unmotivated. In reality, there are only dead-end attitudes. As the direct point of contact, you're the first to see the development and transition of consumer trends. This interaction can provide you with customer insight the CEO might not even know.

A position that requires you to communicate with customers or clients is an opportunity handed to you on a silver platter. Learn to translate that experience into knowledge, then use that knowledge to establish yourself as a valuable, in-the-know employee.

2. Do you have opportunities for growth?

People often write off certain positions because they don't provide much opportunity for growth. Before you pass on a job, find out the opportunities for advancement. Businesses that offer stepping stones present opportunities for longevity and can propel your career forward.

The moving and hauling industry, for example, isn't the most glamorous. At College Hunks Hauling Junk, we've worked hard to combat stereotypes about our field by providing a clear career trajectory for each employee.

Recent college grads are given the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the business and can advance quickly. Our employees are brand ambassadors and have the responsibility of pitching and assisting our clients with their in-home servicing needs. From there, they can advance to assistant location manager and oversee 50 employees. If they do well, they can become a general manager with a six-figure salary.

3. Does the position provide additional training?

In today's job market, skills are everything. A position that provides on-the-job training to help develop your skill set is incredibly valuable. The opportunity to hone and craft a skill set can help launch your career.

When assessing the potential impact of a job opportunity, don't discredit the training that comes with the position. Your drive to build skills and a knowledge base is an attractive quality to employers and can help you develop a niche or specialty. Should you decide to pursue other opportunities down the road, the skills you learn in training can be used to differentiate you from other job seekers.

In the end, a job is what you make of it. For anyone looking to develop a long and fruitful career, it's important to embrace each position along the way.

Dream big and do great things, regardless of your title. Each level is a new learning experience. The only way to propel yourself higher up the ladder to is take in the wealth of knowledge from the very bottom and embrace the full experience.

Why Everything You Learned About Interviewing Is Worthless

5 things you need to know about interviewing at a startupEverything that I learned in college about interviewing is essentially worthless. After speaking to those that are close to me who will soon be graduating, I decided to jot some pointers down.

Most pertinent to a startup or early-stage environment, the following points stem from hundreds of hours of actual interviewing experience. Tech interviews will be more tech-centric and sales interviews will be more dollar-centric, but all interviews with an entrepreneur will require an entrepreneurial approach.

1. The person interviewing you would rather be doing something else.

Don't kid yourself. Very few entrepreneurial hiring managers look forward to spending hours of their day interviewing candidates. There is always a critical problem to solve, email to be answered or money to be made buried in their hectic schedule. Interviewing candidates is a need and not a want.

Make the experience as memorable as possible for them and capitalize on their limited attention span. Use the first 15 critical minutes of pitch time to communicate your personal executive summary. Succinctly highlight how you make a difference, how you help the bottom line, how you deal with problems, why you can be player and coach, what motivates you and why you're there for that opportunity.

2. The person interviewing you will speak to dozens more like you.

You likely have been "chosen" to interview less than you think. With stacks of resumes piling up and a never ending to-do list, the entrepreneurial hiring manager has made a quick, educated guess to speak to you based on the need to solve an immediate problem. Something in your resume, LinkedIn profile or referral has gotten you in front of them.

Make it worthwhile. Be the first appointment on their schedule or the last appointment that day. Give them a reason to remember you throughout the day or during their evening commute. Connect on a personal level and appeal to their emotions. Workdays will be stressful, highly charged, energetic and sometimes painful. Give the hiring manager a sense of comfort that when difficult situations and long hours arise, you can be the professional family member that they can count on.

3. The person interviewing you knows the textbook garbage.

Just like you already know how to respond to textbook interview questions, assume that the entrepreneurial hiring manager knows when they are asked by a candidate. Further, if you get the textbook interview questions, run away ... run far, far away. It's a sure sign of things to come, but that's a different topic. Instead, craft questions that are intelligent, pertinent, thought-provoking and challenge the hiring manager.

Likely, you will come up with something that's already been thought of. The key is to find the sweet spot where the question/thought was previously their own or introduced by someone that they respect. This is impressive and says a lot about your ability with creative problem solving. Understand the business and craft questions related to expanding the business rather than defining it. Repeating facts from a Google search or simply perusing the website is classic, textbook mediocrity.

4. The person interviewing you is not mediocre.

Startups and early stage companies have little time, money, patience and tolerance for layers of mediocrity. You are likely interviewing with someone who is either the direct decision-maker or a trusted previous hire. This means that they have either developed their own tests or already have passed the tests so never assume that a half-a**ed approach will fool anyone.

No organization needs mediocrity. Startups and early stage companies especially are not looking for the typical nine-to-fiver looking for defined vacation schedules. Set yourself apart by highlighting flexibility, adaptability, comfort with uncertainty, and a general can-do attitude. There's nothing wrong with living for work in the entrepreneurial hiring manager's eyes.

5. The person interviewing you is a salesperson.

They have no choice in the matter. Every day they are either selling a product, a service, a solution, an idea or themselves to someone internally or externally. You need to have the same exact mentality in the "everyone sells" model. With limited experience, highlight entrepreneurial endeavors that you started in school.

For pros, highlight bottom-line milestones from previous engagements. Talk facts and figures and make it all relative. Focus on your personal brand and use your reputation as your strongest asset. This reputation can come from your studies, collegiate organizations, co-ops, internships, professional organizations or employer experiences. No matter what the examples are, show that you identified an opportunity and capitalized on it. Be prepared to sell yourself or don't bother at all.

There's more, of course, but these five points should get you started. There's no substitute for practice, practice, practice, so if you are fortunate enough to have a trusted mock-interview resource, use them. The worst interviews in the world are the ones where both parties walk away feeling like the hours were completely wasted. No one has the spare time for that.

How to conduct a better job interview

The art of asking the right questions

The job interview is no ordinary conversation for either party. For the candidate, many major decisions and life changes hinge on the outcome. For the interviewer, there's also a great deal at stake. Hiring the wrong person can have significant and prolonged repercussions, from interpersonal conflict between the new hire and staff members to poor performance, lost productivity and increased time required to correct the new arrival's mistakes.
Your mission is to determine whether the individual sitting across from you is the best person for the job. Using the information on the applicant's résumé and her answers to your questions, you must come to a decision.
Sometimes it's an open-and-shut case. Every now and then, a candidate comes along who overshadows all other contenders and absolutely wows you. The opposite can also occur. If during the interview it becomes clear to you that the applicant lacks a key qualification for the position, you can remove him from the running without extensive deliberation.
But the reality is that most candidates will fall somewhere in between these two extremes. And it will take nuanced, sophisticated interviewing techniques and acumen on your part to identify the most appropriate person for the job.
It's helpful to think of the job interview as an exercise in asking the right questions. When preparing to interview candidates, try to move beyond the stock questions that will yield only formulaic, standard answers.
Here are some suggestions for designing the kinds of questions that will prompt candid answers:
Do your research. Just as candidates prepare for job interviews by researching the company, you also need to do your homework prior to meeting with applicants. Review each candidate's background and experience with an eye for red flags such as gaps in work history, odd job titles or achievements that sound too good to be true. These are the areas of concern you'll want to explore in the interview.
Don't be ruled by the list. Of course it's important to prepare a list of questions to ensure that you cover the same topics with all candidates. But don't become so chained to the list that you never go off script.
At times, you will need to respond to a candidate's answers with a follow-up question that draws out more detail or fills in the blanks. For example, if a candidate states that she developed an algorithm that reduced the time it takes to produce a key report by three days, you'll want to follow up by asking additional questions.
Ditch off-the-shelf questions. "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" and "Where do you see yourself in five years?" are predictable, shopworn questions that will elicit canned answers.
You often can get more useful information with an unconventional line of inquiry. For example, instead of asking the candidate outright about strengths and flaws, present a hypothetical situation that requires him to reason through a real-life problem. This will give you a chance to evaluate his resourcefulness and ability to think on his feet. If the individual struggles, seems tentative or offers an inadequate solution, you've likely uncovered a weakness the applicant might never have revealed if questioned directly.
Probe for specifics. In ordinary conversation, it's generally considered impolite to push for details when someone is talking about a sensitive topic, such as problems at work. Etiquette dictates that you let the other person reveal as much or as little as she chooses.
But a different type of etiquette applies in the interview situation. While you don't want to interrogate the candidate, you will need to explore uncomfortable subjects on her résumé, such as a layoff or an unexplained gap in employment.
It's likely the candidate will give very short, general answers in such cases. It will be up to you to gently but firmly probe for more information; for example, "Tell me more about the events that led to your decision to leave that position," or, "What did you do during those 10 months between jobs?"
Ask for examples. If the applicant makes a general statement (e.g., "I'm detail-oriented"), ask for concrete examples that back up his claim. You can also obtain the same type of information by asking him for examples of occasions when he was under a tight deadline, juggling an especially heavy workload, supervising a work team, dealing with upper management, interacting with clients or any other situations that are relevant to performance of the available position.
Push past resistance and double-talk. Occasionally, you'll ask a question a candidate does not want to answer. She may give an evasive, vague or rambling response that isn't quite forthcoming. Don't settle for this; instead, say, "I'm not sure I understood what you meant, and I want to be sure I do. Could you explain a little more?" If the candidate still stonewalls, make note of it and move on. Later, you can try to get more information from her references.
When you're preparing to interview job candidates, imagine you're an investigative reporter and consider the facts you'll need to uncover to draw accurate conclusions. This will help you turn a "routine" hiring procedure into a fruitful and informative one.

Say Goodbye Forever to Email and Get More Done

Dysfunctional cultures confuse email with actual work

professional man sitting at desk throwing papers in wastebasket
By Scott Berkun is the 15th most popular website on the planet. With no offices, all employees work remotely. The company adheres to few rules and even fewer meetings. And they don't use email.
That's right. Can you imagine giving up email? I wasn't so sure about it either. But after a year working at WordPress, I understood how an entire online organization could not only function without email -- they also were more productive.
Email is the first thing you check in the morning, and it's your last thought before shutting down at the end of the day. The piles and piles of important (and not-so-important) messages hitting your inbox every second... you're probably stressed just thinking about it. Read on to learn how it's possible to completely cut email out of your life.
How can any modern organization function without email, much less one as successful as WordPress?
First, it's important to recognize that, despite everyone's complaints about endless streams of useless email, most people are dubious about following WordPress's lead to email liberation. We have a deeply ingrained distrust when it comes to alternatives, which is odd given how we pride ourselves on being early adopters of new ideas.
Email is an old technology, older than the Web itself by more than a decade. So why do we cling so tightly to our "cc" lines and attachments?
The reasons have little to do with technology
All technologies are good for some tasks and bad for others. If a technology annoys you, it probably has more to do with how the people around you use it than the technology itself. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
Consider this: for all our technological progress, we've yet to invent anything that makes coworkers write clear, jargon-free paragraphs. We have yet to find a way to get them to actually read, not skim, the well-crafted things we send their way. It's our culture that defines these habits, not the tools we're using. Culture bends technology to its will, not the other way around.
Most annoying business emails have two purposes, neither of which get meaningful work done:
1. The ass-covering email
Email is broadcast to entire divisions simply to ensure no one can say they didn't hear about a decision. Email is a weapon used for pre-emptive political strikes by the sender to attack everyone on the distribution list. We hate email because we feel like email victims at the mercy of self-interested people who don't share our goals.
2. The "hey look what I did!" email
For people who don't actually create things for their job, email is the only visible, tangible thing they make all day. Dysfunctional, insecure cultures confuse the meta-work of email and PowerPoint decks for the actual work of helping customers.
In these environments, people feel obligated to send more emails and create larger and larger documents to give the perception that they're working hard. It's a downward spiral of anti-productivity.
WordPress avoids these problems because most of their 170 employees do actual work -- they write code, design features or directly help customers. And they're empowered to be aggressive in their jobs, making live changes to the service dozens of times a day with no approval chain or executive review board.
There's little fear of crossing political turf and no need to show off as their work speaks for itself. The result is that their communication channels have a high signal-to-noise ratio.
Why dysfunctional email is holding back your organization
Putting WordPress aside for the moment, email has several fundamental disadvantages that are rarely discussed:
1. Email empowers the sender
The sender can fill your inbox with whatever they like and as frequently as they like. Many receivers use filters and rules as countermeasures.
2. Email is a closed channel
There's no way to see an email if you're not included on the ''to'' list, forcing work groups to err on the side of carpet bombing entire project teams or even companies. We all feel that only a fraction of the email we receive has direct relevance to us as individuals. Email tends to bury people in "FYI" communications - needless messages unworthy for inboxes.
3. Email decays over time
If someone writes a great email, an employee has to do something to preserve it. Otherwise, it sits in an inbox, never to be seen by new employees. Over time, that organizational knowledge fades away.
How WordPress evades the email trap
The single tool most WordPress employees use is -- surprise -- blogs!
The dominant blog structure WordPress staff use is the P2 theme, which was specifically designed for teamwork. The specifications and spreadsheets that might be sent over email at your average company are simply posted on blogs for each team or project. Most discussions happen in comment threads, chat rooms or on Skype. If you care about that project, you follow the blog. If you don't, you don't.
Blogs, and P2s in particular, are designed to serve each employee's individual needs:
1. Readers, not senders, choose what gets read
Employees can pick which project blogs they want to follow and can ignore the ones that have no value for their work.
2. Readers choose how often and in what form they want to read
There are many different tools available for reading blog posts. If you really want to receive post updates by email, you can! But you get to choose. So if email's not your thing, no problem. You can use RSS or other methods.
3. Blogs are easy to access, search and reference
That great list of ideas you wrote a year ago won't get buried and lost in people's inboxes. As a blog post, the link will always be available and can be searched and skimmed just like all the blogs on the Web you read every day.
Of course, there's more to the story. WordPress has no schedules. There are few meetings and fewer rules. And the kicker to all of it is every employee works remotely from anywhere in the world they want. How do employees in such a progressive culture still get work done? You'll have to read the book to find out!

Are Hugs The New Handshake?

When is it ok to hug at work and how can you figure that out?

Businessmen Celebrating
Getty Images
Depending on where you stand on the hug continuum, hugging at work is either inappropriately awkward or a great way to greet your colleagues. Unless your workplace actually prohibits hugging between colleagues, you may be left to your own devices when it comes to giving or accepting hugs at work.

Keep these tips in mind when it comes to hugging in the workplace:

Company culture and your comfort level
If your culture is very conservative and buttoned up, you'll likely want to stick with a firm, but warm handshake and avoid hugs to make the right impression. If people are constantly embracing as if they're reuniting with a long-lost relative, identify your comfort level, and don't hesitate to discourage hugs if you don't want to be embraced. The best deterrent is to make a point to extend your hand for a handshake. Of course, if you do feel harassed by the hugging culture or by a particular hugger, you can refer to policies and consult someone in human resources.

Types of hugs.
There are all types of hugs. These include the bear hug, the side hug and the quick embrace. You can assume, under most circumstances, any hug that embraces a little too long or tightly isn't appropriate in the workplace. If you're the hugging aggressor, make sure you aren't going overboard. If you hug at all, avoid any hug that could be labeled aggressive or passionate; both of these hugs definitely cross the line and are inappropriate in the workplace.

If you're a hugger, watch your colleague's body language.
Some people just don't feel comfortable being hugged at work. However, especially if you're the boss, it may be difficult for them to refuse your advance. (Think: sexual harassment.) Be careful and read your colleagues' body language. If people keep sticking their arms out at you in an effort to shake hands instead of hug and you grab them into a bear hug instead, assume you're crossing into dangerous territory. Don't create a toxic workplace by being overly affectionate.

People to hug or not hug.
Even if you're a compulsive hugger, it's best to avoid hugging subordinates. Keep your company's sexual harassment policy in mind and remember, if you're the boss, people may not feel comfortable asking you to stop hugging them. In some cases, you may be able to modify a hug into a warm pat on the back that may satisfy your need for a more intimate welcome and your colleague or subordinate's need to keep some distance. Keep in mind: even a "side hug" or shoulder pat can seem a little touch-y feel-y to some people.

Extraordinary situations
While hugging isn't a great idea at work, there are some situations where it might be considered okay to offer a quick hug as a way to congratulate or console someone. For example, if your colleague just won a huge award or promotion, or if he or she is retiring or leaving the company for good, it might be acceptable to offer a quick embrace. However, for some people, a "high five" will be more appreciated. Another situation when a hug may be okay is if someone just learned bad news and a consoling hug or quick shoulder squeeze just seems the most human response. Again – keep in mind, it may be best to console with words or offer flexibility and support instead of a hug.

Bottom line.
The safest bet is to avoid hugging in the workplace. You don't want to face sexual harassment charges for hugs you might consider innocent expressions of affection, but that come across as too touch-y feel-y to your colleagues or employees.

HR Wants To Meet! What Do I Do?

How to prepare when you get the call to meet with HR

Businesswoman sitting in armchair, blurred foreground
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You get the call or the email and your heart sinks to your feet. HR wants to meet with you. Unless you think a promotion or raise is in the works, a meeting with HR is usually something employees dread. But if you do some basic preparation, you can be ready for anything.

Here are some things HR may want to meet with you about, and what you should do.

You complained about discrimination or harassment: HR must investigate if you complain about race, age, sex, religious, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy, disability or other illegal discrimination or harassment. If they want to talk to you about your complaint, don't refuse! If you do, then you wasted your time complaining and they'll note that you refused to cooperate. Instead, go in prepared.

Gather your evidence and witness names supporting how you were singled out compared to others in a different category (race, age, sex, etc.), how you (and any others) were harassed compared to others in a different category, and any comments made related to you and others relating to your category. Make notes and take them with you so you don't forget anything.

Don't complain about "harassment" or "hostile environment" that isn't connected to race, age, sex, etc. General harassment and bullying aren't illegal, so you aren't protected against retaliation if you report these.

After the meeting, write up a summary of what you reported. Make sure you say the words, "age discrimination," "sexual harassment," "race-based harassment," "religious discrimination" or whatever specific type of discrimination you reported. If you don't, then HR may claim later you reported a personality conflict or bullying instead of something illegal.

Discipline: If you are being disciplined or investigated relating to potential discipline, don't freak out, storm out, or yell during the meeting. You don't want to compound the situation by being insubordinate. Instead, take good notes about the accusation. If you are asked to sign a document, sign and write something next to or above your name like, "as to receipt only, rebuttal to follow." Then wait until you are calm and prepare a businesslike response with any supporting documents and submit to HR.

If you are asked questions during the meeting, be truthful. Some employees lie or don't tell the whole truth because they panic. If you lie or are perceived as lying, you can be fired for that, whether or not you did what you are being accused of.

Crime: If you are being asked about a crime you committed, don't answer. It's time to contact a criminal defense attorney. Don't sign anything admitting to a crime. If HR or Loss Prevention tries to tell you that you can save your job if you admit to a crime, they are lying.

Termination: If you are being fired, stay calm. Don't sign anything they put in front of you. Instead, ask for a copy to take home and review. You aren't thinking straight. You may be asked to sign a severance agreement giving up any legal claims you may have. They may even stick something in there saying you can't work for a competitor. Even if it's "just" a disciplinary document, don't sign it. They can't make you do anything now. You don't work for them anymore. Take good notes of what they are saying is the reason for the termination. Get copies of anything you can documenting what they are saying.

Don't run out of the office shouting, try to get your coworkers to leave with you, or cause a scene. The work world is small and you may end up working with these folks again someday. If you don't understand a contract you're being asked to sign, or think you may have claims against the company, contact an employment lawyer in your state about your rights. For more about what to do if you think you're about to be fired, read my article here.

Biggest Interview Blunders

The interview is the most critical point in the job search process. While you might look great on paper, the real test starts when you get in front of a hiring manager. You've got the skills, now you need to prove that you'll be a good fit with your future co-workers and company. And it's oh-so-easy to sabotage that much-coveted and highly-valuable face time.

According to a recent survey of 866 hiring managers, almost 70 percent recalled unusual behavior by job candidates. While the usual suspects did come up, some of their experiences were downright jaw-dropping. Here are some examples of how not to behave in an interview:

Hugh Hefner Wants His Pants Back
Clothes make the man (or woman) and what you wear has a direct impression on a hiring manager. Comfortable clothes will curb your nervousness, but that doesn't mean you should wear pajama bottoms like one job seeker did. The company dress policy may be casual, but save the Goth clothes and socks with slippers until you get the job. If you're hitting the beach after your interview, it doesn't give you license to wear your bathing suit and flip flops. And seriously guys, the flashy medallion on a bed of chest hair will not impress anyone.

I'm With the Band
Unless you're in need of a seeing eye dog, you shouldn't bring an animal or another person with you to an interview. It seems like common sense. Nevertheless, many a job seeker has brought a companion along on the interview including a child, spouse, friend, pet and even the entire family. An invitation to a job interview never includes a guest.

Have You Tried Hypnosis?
They might be normal to you, but to others, some personal quirks are downright frightening. Those things you do in the privacy of your own home are not meant to come out in front of someone you are trying to impress. During an interview candidates have chewed gum, lit cigarrettes, picked their nails, passed gas, burped, picked their noses, scratched various body parts, laughed erratically and even spit. Make sure to check this behavior at the door.

Intoxicating Ways
Some things are strictly taboo at work, and you should behave in an interview like you would on the job. Alcohol impairs your judgment, as do drugs (not to mention they're against the law). They should be off limits -- but some job seekers don't think so. Job seekers openly admitted drug use and arrived at the interview high, intoxicated or hung over. One thirsty candidate requested whiskey, while another brought his own wine. Another asked if he would get the job even if he didn't pass the drug test. And one candidate simply left the interview after finding out about company drug testing.

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction
And then there are the incidents that are just plain bizarre, perhaps provoked by ambition, a desire to impress, or anxiety. One candidate constructed a shoebox diorama of himself on the job. Another did a Ben Stiller imitation. One job seeker offered a sexual favor to the interviewer. Still another knitted during the entire interview. And another barked at the hiring manager.

Creative ways to commute to work

Water taxiWhen I was young, I loved watching “The Jetsons.” I thought that when I grew up, maybe I’d live in a place like Orbit City, have a talking robot and take flying cars to work every day.
Unfortunately, flying  automobiles don’t yet exist, which is too bad since they’d come in handy during the daily, often grueling, commute to the office. Yet even without air travel as an option, there are a lot of different ways to get to work these days, beyond sitting on a cramped bus or driving alone in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
If you’re like me and you’re sick of your daily commute, consider exploring some of the newer or more creative ways to get to work:

Water taxi/ferry
Water is known to have a calming effect, and who wouldn’t want to feel more relaxed and at ease heading into a potentially stressful day of work? For workers living near lakes or rivers, water taxis or ferries are a great option for their daily commute. Cities across the country, including Chicago, New York, Boston and Seattle, offer shuttle service to workers looking for an alternate, and more enjoyable, way to start and finish their day. Some even operate like a tour, so you can get a little history and culture while you’re on the ride. Depending on the city, the service may be seasonal, so be sure to check schedules and availability.

Technology-driven rides
Considering you can use your smartphone to do almost anything these days, it only makes sense that you’d be able to get a ride to work with just a few taps of your finger. Services such as Uber, Taxi Magic and HAILO have cropped up in cities across the U.S., offering apps where people can quickly book a taxi. This beats waiting in long lines at a taxi stand or jumping in front of someone on the street to grab that coveted cab so you’re not late for work. Plus, you store your credit card information in the app, so once your ride is over, all you have to do is say “Thank you” and get out, without worrying about breaking a $20. Plus some of these services allow you to rate your driver, helping to ensure you have a satisfactory experience each time you ride.

Social rides
On days when the weather is crappy, the buses and trains are packed and there’s not a taxi in sight, you probably wish it was acceptable, or safe, to hitchhike. The transportation network Lyft is basically like hitchhiking, but without having to stick out your thumb — or jeopardize your safety. Instead of using taxis, Lyft employs regular people with cars who want to make some extra cash. Riders can book a ride through Lyft’s app, and they’ll get picked up by a friendly — and thoroughly vetted — driver. The idea of the service is to make the ride more social; they encourage you to sit in the front seat and make a “new friend” while you’re on the way to work or wherever your destination may be.

City bikes
A lot of cities are making their roads more bike-friendly, and with that, they’re offering residents the chance to ride bikes without having to own one. Bike-sharing programs such as Citi Bike in New York, Divvy in Chicago and Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C. have stations set up across the city so it’s easy to pick up and drop off bikes at your starting point and destination. The purpose of these bikes isn’t to take long-distance, leisurely rides; it’s to help commuters get from one place to another — thus why they’re ideal for workers heading to the office. As a bonus, you get some fresh air and exercise while you’re at it.
So the next time you get that feeling of dread as you start your daily commute, skip the train and opt for a more fun and creative way to get to the office.

How to address being overqualified in an interview

A business woman listens to the other woman in her office
The main concern about being “overqualified” for a job is that you’ll leave your potential employer as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to demonstrate your sincere commitment to the employer and interest in staying long term will help you overcome this doubt.

Communicate the benefits
Don’t view being overqualified as a sign of a possible setback during the interview or as the end of your candidacy for the position. Instead, view it as an invitation to enlighten the interviewer of a new way to think about this situation, focusing on the advantages and opportunities as opposed to the drawbacks.

You can explain to the interviewer that there could be very positive benefits for both of you in this potential match. For example, you can let him know that based on your strong experience and education, you can start to contribute right away by building profit, solving long-term problems or assisting in other departments — perhaps faster than someone who would need more time getting up to speed.

You can say the following: “I am confident that given this opportunity, I will be able to contribute to the needs and goals of the organization almost immediately since I have had the opportunity to grow and develop a set of skills and proficiencies necessary to the success of any organization.”

Prove your value
There is also the value of all the training and years of experience that other companies have provided you with. Your potential employer would be getting all of this value without having to pay for it. With a candidate who has yet to acquire that level of experience, she would have to gain it on the employer’s budget and time.
You can say the following: “Currently, I’m looking to make a long-term commitment. At this point in my career, I’m no longer interested simply in advancement and in job titles, but mainly in a permanent role where if I perform genuinely well and with excellence, other opportunities within the company will open up. In time, I’ll find many ways to help this company and in the process, achieve my goal of a long-term commitment.”

Stress your staying power
When it comes to knowing how to work well with others and getting the most out of them, there’s no substitute for what you learn over many years of direct experience. So, most importantly, stress to the employer that you are looking to make a long-term commitment in your career. This will alleviate and hopefully eliminate any doubt or hesitation of viewing you as an overqualified candidate.

7 Signs You're Working With a Psychopath

Look for these red flags that you're working with one

Getty Images/PhotoAlto
By Vivian Giang

How do you know when you're face-to-face with a psychopath? There are more out there than we'd like to imagine, and they all tend to exhibit essentially the same traits, says behavioral analyst Lillian Glass, a language expert who's worked with the FBI on unmasking signals of deception.

Psychopathy is an anti-social personality disorder where the sufferer tends to adopt erratic and impulsive behaviors. Psychopaths have an inability to internalize social norms.

While it's difficult to know how many psychopaths reside in the U.S., a survey cited in a Reuters article found that out of the 500 senior executive respondents in the U.S. and U.K., 26% said they had "observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace" and 24% believed that those in the financial industry need to "engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful."

Based on Glass' new book "The Body Language of Liars," we pulled out seven red flags that you may be dealing with a psychopath in the cube next door.

They constantly use the past tense.

Researchers have found psychopaths use past tense more than present tense, which could signal that they're detached from the present, writes Glass.

They use cause-and-effect statements.

"Because psychopaths are entitled and see the world and others as theirs for the taking, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that they used more words such as 'because' and 'so that'" says Glass, since they tend to rationalize their actions with their own logic.

They talk excessively about their basic needs.

Since they're typically not occupied with anything else, psychopaths think about their basic needs a lot, such as food, shelter, and clothing, writes Glass. When talking about their basic needs, psychopaths tend to use twice as many words as usual or provide too much information.

They don't take responsibility or blame.

Psychopaths usually think that they're the victims, which comes from their sense of entitlement, says Glass.

"The psychopath will speak of himself in grandiose terms while blaming others and taking no responsibility for his actions," she says. You can hear this in the lack and emotion of their voice.

They contradict themselves often.

This may even happen within the same sentence. "[Psychopaths] will lie or omit information when you ask them a question, but they may tell you the truth if you rephrase the question slightly. Researchers have discovered that this has to do with the particular way their brain is wired," says Glass.

They are really bad at crying.

"When [Susan Smith] gave a press conference and cried about her missing children, her fake tears were actually what raised suspicions that she was the killer," says Glass.

When psychopaths cry, Glass says they will often wipe underneath each eye, one at a time. "When people cry genuine tears they cry with both eyes, and so they will tend to wipe both eyes at once."

Their body language is different than what they say.

Glass says psychopaths will often say one thing, but their body language will tell a different story. For example, while saying the word "yes," the psychopath could be shaking their head no.

How To Get A Raise In 60 Days

Take control to earn more money -- and respect

Image by Shutterstock

I got this recently from a reader:
Dear J.T.,

I need a raise - FAST! I just found out my co-worker is making 20 percent more than me. What's frustrating is she started six months after me. Everyday since I found out, I go into work a bit more angry. I like my job and don't want to leave. But, how can I stay knowing I'm being taken advantage of? My only solution is to get a raise. What can I do?

Angry Adam
Okay, while I'm glad Adam wants to stay and focus on getting a raise, I have to address this comment, " can I stay knowing I'm being taken advantage of?" Adam isn't being taken advantage of. Adam is an at-will employee. He's not locked into a contract. He can quit anytime he wants. Especially if he feels the working relationship isn't fair. Furthermore, Adam admits he likes his job, so the real issue is he's been caught off-guard by the fact his company isn't paying everyone the same rate. Yet, this is normal business practice - and, as you'll see, can work to Adam's advantage...

Supply & Demand = Secret Weapon to Getting a Raise

Companies pay for talent based on what they need. Just because you have a PhD, doesn't mean a company will pay you $200,000/year to be a salesperson at their fast-food counter. Why? There are plenty of people out there without PhDs who will do the job for less. The Law of Supply & Demand applies here. The more people capable and available to do the job (high supply), the less of a need there is for all of them (low demand), resulting in the employer being able to pay lower wages and still get the employees they need. That can be frustrating to a professional who feels the employer dictates the pay. But, there's a flip-side to this: if you can create your own niche (low supply), and be of extreme value to an employer (high demand), you can ask for more money - and get it!

Step 1: Identify the "Money-Making" Tasks

When you work in a job where there are multiple people doing the same thing, there's a standard level of productivity expected. Start with your job description and performance reviews. Map out the baseline level of performance everyone is expected to deliver. Then, ask yourself, "What else could I be doing above and beyond to save, or make the company money?" The only way you'll convince the employer to pay you more is to justify how your contributions will increase profitability as a way to cover the cost.

TIP: Be sure to take a closer look at the contributions of the person making more money than you. Try to determine what she's doing outside the scope of the normal job expectations to earn more. Perhaps your boss has even complimented her for actions she's taken? A clue would be why she joined the team. Your boss may have specifically explained why she was hired and what expertise she brings to the organization. This can give you insight into what the company values more in talent. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a positive attitude. There are many factors that go into being a top-ranked, higher-paid employee. Consider all the things that could be giving your co-worker the financial advantage.

Step 2: Set a Meeting With Your Boss

You need to sit down with your boss and share the fact you want to be of more value to the company as a way to earn more money. Don't mention you know your co-worker is making more than you. Bringing it up now will look petty. This is about your working relationship with your employer. Keep in mind: you're a business-of-one that wants your customer (a/k/a employer) to pay you more.

How do you feel when a service provider (i.e. cable, phone, etc.), suddenly announces a rate increase? It's frustrating, isn't it? That's why they also do their best to explain the reason for the increase and all the additional value it will bring you. The same applies to your employer. You want to focus on what you can do to help your boss make or save money so a raise can be justified. Then, tell your boss you'd like to leave the meeting with a clear sense of what additional tasks you could take on to earn a raise within the next two months.

TIP: In this meeting, start by asking your boss what problems are most pressing on the business right now. What pain needs to be alleviated and how can you help him with them? Let your boss share the challenges that keep him up at night. Then, offer up your own suggestions of things you could do using the research you did earlier. Hopefully, you and your boss can agree upon some additional tasks you can do that will have a real impact on the bottom-line. Also, don't underestimate the value of tasks that will make your manager's life easier. Anytime you can relieve stress or workload for a boss, you add significant value!

Step 3: Regularly Update Your Boss on Your Progress

While you don't need to touch base everyday, it is smart to update your boss weekly on the progress you are making with respect to the new tasks you are handling. Especially when you can point to some tangible results. For example, if you can showcase how you saved or made money, be sure to include it in the update. You could do this in a casual one-on-one meeting at the end of the week. Or, you could simply send an email summarizing your results. Either way, be sure to consistently show your boss you are focused and committed to executing these additional tasks and adding the value you promised in exchange for more money.

Step 4: The 30-Day Review

After one month, set another formal meeting with your boss to get his feedback on your performance. You want to make sure he feels you are on-track for that raise. Simply say, "How am I doing? Do you feel I'm making a measurable difference?" The point of this meeting is to ensure your boss is still on-board with the raise. You don't want to get to the end of the 60-day period and be told that your performance wasn't meeting his expectations for a raise. This is your chance to make any changes necessary to ensure the raise comes through.

Step 5: Continue Adding Value and Keeping Your Boss Informed

Repeat the same strategy you had in month one. Your boss will be watching to see if you really are committed to adding more value, or if this was just a temporary ploy to get a pay increase. You need show consistency and determination so your boss knows your efforts are legit. Also, you should start to gather some real momentum in your results, providing cost-saving or money-making activities that are adding up to real value. Remember, financial results are necessary for you to get that raise.

Step 6: Have the 60-Day Review and Ask the Status of the Raise

In this meeting, you'll review all of your activities and summarize your financial impact. The more you can quantify the results of your efforts, the better! Once you present the facts you can ask your boss what the steps are for you to receive a raise. Be prepared to hear it may not be something he can put into effect the next day, but he should be able to tell you when you can receive it.

Step 7: What If You Don't Get the Raise?

If your boss still doesn't give you a raise after this process, you now could consider letting him know you are aware your co-worker makes more than you. It will no longer seem petty since you made such a committed effort to offer value in exchange for more money. This can be sticky because you'll have to explain how you learned about the wage difference, but it should open up the conversation and force your boss to justify the salary differences. Keep in mind, you may not like what you hear, but at least you'll know the reason you aren't getting that raise. At which point, you can either continue to work with your boss to determine how you can make more money or get some added benefits (i.e. flextime). Or, you can start privately looking for a new job where you will be better compensated. Remember: you are an at-will employee. If you think you are worth more, then go find the employer who is willing to pay you more!

Bonus: You Gained New Skills You Can Market!

Even if you don't get the raise, the new skills and the measurable impact you've had on your employer's business is something you can put on your resume and leverage in your job search. The two months you spent trying to get a raise won't be for nothing. While you didn't get one from your current employer, the chances are much better now you can go get it with a a new employer.

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