Showing posts with label Getting Hired. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Getting Hired. Show all posts

4 Dos and Don'ts For Your Office Holiday Party

You never know what opportunities may arise

Obamacare, Handbooks, Benefits And More: Your End-Of-Year Career Checklist

Everything you need to know to make 2015 great

Old clock with stars and snowflakes

As things slow down at the end of the year and you're maybe taking some time off from work, now is a good time to do a checkup on your career. Do you know everything you need to know to make 2015 a good year? Is there a benefit or policy you're missing out on that could make or break you at work or financially?

Here are six things you should be checking up on to make sure your 2015 is the best year at work ever:

1. Obamacare/Affordable Care Act: Yes, I know it's Affordable Care Act or ACA and not officially called Obamacare, but most people still know it as Obamacare. What you need to know, especially if you're on COBRA, is that now is the open enrollment period, which ends February 15. If you've lost coverage at work, then you can qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. If you needed coverage effective January 1, you may have missed your deadline, although a number of states opted to extend it Monday--so it's worth checking if yours is one of them. If you are looking to switch ACA plans, enroll for the first time or switch from COBRA, you have until February 15 to enroll.

2. Check your benefits: Your company may have an open enrollment period for benefits. If you haven't done so already, review your health insurance and other benefits, ask HR what other benefits may be available, and find out when you can enroll or switch. Now is also a good time to get copies of your Summary Plan Descriptions, which describe, supposedly in plain English, your benefits and rights. You'll have a Summary Plan Description available for your health care, pension, 401K, and most other benefits. If it's too late to enroll or switch this year, calendar your deadline for 2015. Find out if your benefits like pension, stock options and 401k employer contributions are vested. If not, when do they vest? If you have options, when can you exercise them? Check the value and see if you might profit by exercising them now. What you don't know about your employee benefits can hurt you.

3. Check your handbook: When was the last time you read the employee handbook? If yours is from 1980, ask HR for the latest version. Your handbook contains important information, such as how to report when you're sick, what to do if you're going to be late, how to apply for medical leave and when you qualify, how to seek accommodations for a disability, how to report discrimination or sexual harassment, information about vacations and PTO, any severance policy, and the company's rules and procedures. You might be surprised what's in your handbook, such as ways the company is spying on you. Read it and be informed. It's the company's manual on how to survive your job, so it's important.

4. Get copies of your contracts: Do you know whether you have a noncompete, confidentiality, nonsolicitation, intellectual property, arbitration or other agreement with your employer? Most people are surprised to learn what they signed when they started their jobs. If you don't read what you sign, or don't keep copies, now is a good time to check with HR to get copies. While some employees are afraid to ask, for example, for a copy of their noncompete agreement because it might alarm HR and make them think you're looking for a job, here's your excuse. Blame me. Print a copy of my article and tell them you're doing your end-of-year checkup. I've never understood HR departments that don't insist you keep copies of what you signed. How are you supposed to know what you're allowed to do if you don't have a copy?

5. Gather evidence: If you think you're the victim of race, age, sex, national origin, disability, religious or other discrimination, whistleblower retaliation or some other legal violation, do you have your evidence where the employer can't grab it? If not, make copies of any evidence you need (don't take trade secrets home, please), get your notes out of your desk drawer or the company computer, update your witness lists with any new contact information and take it home. Put it in a safe place. If you have a notebook where you're keeping notes, put it in your briefcase, purse or someplace where the employer can't grab it. A locked desk drawer, your company locker, and your company laptop are all places you may be denied access to if you're fired.

6. Report it: If you've suffered from sexual harassment, racial, age, religious, national origin, pregnancy or other illegal workplace harassment, think about reporting it, in writing, to HR. Don't wait until you're disciplined or get a bad year-end review to report it. They'll just assume you're disgruntled and making it up if you don't report it promptly.

If you've done everything on this checklist, then you're well prepared for 2015. You know your workplace rights and responsibilities. So relax and have a wonderful holiday season.

One more thing, on another note: I need your vote. My blog, Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home, was named one of the American Bar Association's Blawg 100, representing the top blogs in the legal community. Mine is the only employee-side blog listed in the Labor and Employment category. Now they're asking for votes for the top blog in each category. It only takes a minute to register and vote. I'd sure appreciate your vote. Voting ends Friday.

How Calling In Sick Saved This Woman's Life

An attentive colleague and lucky medical treatment advance let her beat the odds.

Sharon Dajon had a headache and hadn't felt well most of the day. Dajon knew she was healthy -- training for the October Marine Corps Marathon should have put doubts aside -- so the president and managing director of American Health Consulting wrote it off as the luck of the draw. "I just brushed it aside," she told WTVR-TV, and called in sick.

That single call saved her life. A co-worker who took it noticed something strange about Dajon's voice and got her to treat the situation as potentially more serious. It was. An emergency trip to the hospital revealed a brain aneurysm.

An aneurysm is a "balloon-like bulge in an artery" that carries oxygen-rich blood to a part of the body, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. A brain aneurysm happens in a blood vessel in the brain. As the Mayo Clinic explains, if the brain aneurysm leaks or ruptures, the person has a stroke, which can lead to long-term problems or death.

Most brain aneurysms don't leak or rupture and show no symptoms. They're stealth problems and doctors usually come across them by accident. Dajon had one: a previously-hidden brain aneurysm that suddenly ruptured. A fifth of people with a ruptured brain aneurysm die before they can get to the hospital, Dr. John Gaughen, a neuro interventional surgeon with the University of Virginia Medical Center told WTVR-TV.

Luckily for Dajon, she was taken to Bon Secours St. Mary's hospital in Richmond, Virginia. The hospital had been working with UVA Medical Center on a new type of aneurysm treatment only approved by the FDA since 2011.

The treatment involved a minimally invasive technique, notes the Bon Secours website. Rather than literally opening part of the skull to perform open brain surgery, the new technology involves a small incision on an artery. A catheter is inserted and routed up to the damaged vessel in the brain.

In Dajon's case, Gaughen inserted the catheter with a flow-diverter stent, which can bypass the weakened wall of the blood vessel, into an artery in her hip. The medical team then threaded the catheter up to the brain and positioned the stent.

It's been six months since the procedure. "We're going to consider her cured," Gaughen told WTVR-TV. "That the stent is going to be open, and for all intents and purposes will be cured of this, and she can go on and live the life she was living before."

Speaking of going on with life, after a short recovery, Dajon plans to get back on the road to train for the Myrtle Beach Marathon on Valentine's Day. She told the station, "I like that endorphin high."

How to Get Ahead of a Layoff

Don't get caught up in the hysterics

4 Reasons Working From Home Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

Be careful what you wish for

By Aaron Taube

For many office workers, telecommuting is a dream opportunity, one they believe will offer them increased flexibility and allow them to skip the morning commute.

But despite the appearance of freedom, working from home might not be the right option for you.

In a post on Linkedin, founder and CEO Justin Babet explains why he tells people they're better off going in to an office, even if they are running their own business.

1. There's no separation between work life and personal life. 

Babet writes that he was excited to work from home when he first started, but soon found that being at home all day made it impossible for him to get away from the anxieties of his job, even if it was one he loved.

Now that he works out of an office, he appreciates being able to come home and focus on his personal life.

"While it might not feel like this for the first few weeks of working from home, pretty soon what started out as your sanctuary from the world will start to feel like your office," he writes.

2. Being at home can encourage procrastination. 

Babet says that while he spends more time working when he's at home than he does in the office, he's not always more productive. That's because having the carrot of being able to go home from the office for the day gives him a deadline and pushes him to finish things in a timely fashion.

3. Even with all of the technology we have, collaboration is still harder at home. 

One of the benefits of working at an office is the energy you get from your peers who are working to achieve the same goal say you, Babet says.

And even if you have Gchat, Skype, Slack, and other communication tools, there's still the inconvenience of either needing someone's undivided attention or having to wait for a response from them. Plus, Babet points out, if you're not using a video chat tool, you could miss out on important non-verbal communication.

"I've found when working with web developers and designers that being in the same room as them when they're working will make them at least twice as fast because the feedback loop is instant – they don't have to message or email me and wait for a response, I can give them an answer on the spot while they're still focused on the issue at hand, and I can be a lot more precise about what I want," he writes.

4. It can be lonely.

Despite the headaches of so-called "office politics," it can be nice to be connected to the people you work with.

Plus, who wants to spend all their time sitting at home alone?

"I also find when I work from home I rarely leave the house and that's just plain unhealthy, particularly if you do it for weeks and months at a time," Babet writes.      

Manage Your 'Screen Name' for a Successful Job Search

You never know who shares your name on Google

lovely woman in rabbit costume...
What do you do when recruiters are Googling you, but you share a name with a Playboy playmate?

When someone (like a recruiter) searches for you on Google or LinkedIn, who pops up on their computer screen: you, or other people with a name that's the same or similar to your own?

Many job seekers think that not appearing in search results is demonstrating maturity and good taste. In fact, invisibility (having no entries in the first page of search results in a search on their name) makes them vulnerable to mistaken identity and, also, to looking out-of-date. Either result can end an opportunity--perhaps many opportunities.

Employers research job applicants

Like anyone contemplating an expensive "purchase," employers research job candidates on the Internet using search engines before they hire someone. A CareerBuilder study showed that a "bad hire" (someone who doesn't work out) can cost the employer as much as $50,000. So a new hire is an expensive risk, and researching candidates before hiring them is a good way for employers to try to avoid a costly mistake.

Recent studies show between 50 percent and 90 percent of employers perform those searches, and that number has been increasing. In the last three years, I haven't spoken with a single recruiter who didn't answer "yes" to the question about online research of candidates. Often, they do the research before they interview the candidate--and certainly before they hire the candidate. What they find is very important to those candidates' chances of landing a job.

Why job seekers should research their names

I recently helped a job seeker who is a computer programmer determine the best name to use for her job search. I found some very interesting people, associated with different versions of her name, including the following:

• A Playboy "Playmate of the Month" from a couple of years ago
• The mug shot of a woman being sought by the police for stabbing her boyfriend
• The obituary of 93-year old woman who died in a different part of the country
• An interior decorator with a great deal of visibility, including appearances on national TV

The job seeker opted to use the version of her name associated with the obituary, since that was the version of she used most often--and clearly, if she was applying for a job, she wasn't dead. She avoided the other versions of her name because she didn't want a potential employer to think she was wanted by the law or had experience and visibility in a field an employer would not expect--or necessarily want--for a programmer.

Self-defense for job seekers

People often shy away from Googling themselves because they don't want to be accused of "ego surfing," which sounds very shallow and self-centered. Ignore that concern. Considering the example above, I call searching on your name "defensive Googling," because that's what it is. Defensive!

You can't address or fix a problem if you don't know you have one. Know what Google will show an employer associated with your name. Otherwise, you are at risk of being disqualified because of someone else's activities, or because something you have posted shows you in a bad light.

The best strategy is to regularly (at least once a month) search in Google and Bing to see what is being shown to employers related to your name. Search on the version of your name you use on LinkedIn and in your resumes. Then search on other versions of your name--with and without your middle name or middle initial. You're trying to find a "clean" version of your name--one without anyone else's "digital dirt" stuck to it--and to avoid versions of your name that could lead a potential employer to avoid you.

Be consistent!

When you find a clean version of your name, consistently use that version of your name for your professional visibility. This doesn't mean that you need to legally change your name. You simply choose the best version to use for your LinkedIn profile, resume, and other job search activities and visibility.

A job seeker I know called himself Edward, Ed, or Eddie, depending on the job he was applying for. On LinkedIn, he called himself "Edward J." This created confusion for employers trying to research him, so Ed now officially calls himself "Edward J." on all of his job search documents and professional visibility. This "connects the dots" for employers and recruiters researching him.      

9 Not-So-Obvious Career Truths

Lessons learned in the trenches of career coaching

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Here are nine things I've learned from having been career coach to 4,600 people.


Just pick something.
It's widely assumed that if you root around long enough, you'll come up with a career that makes you say, "Eureka, I have found it!" Rather, I've found that most people who are happy in their careers wouldn't have known that in advance. If they had waited on the sidelines for that Eureka! moment, they might as well have been waiting for Godot.

In most cases, you can't just hear about a career and expect to feel ecstatic any more than you can expect to have an orgasm just by listening to someone. So after a modest amount of career exploration, just pick the career that feels best and start down that path as though you were passionate about it. If you feel you made a bad choice, it's usually quickly apparent and you can then try another career path.

It's akin to this analogy: If I dropped you on top of a frigid mountain and you just sat there, you'd die. But if you quickly picked the path down that looked best, you'll have either picked a good path, quickly found it was a dangerous one and scrambled back up to choose another, or found a good side path you couldn't have seen from the top.

After you've chosen a career, key to being happy in it is to get high-quality training. Plus, as with a clothing outfit, you need to tailor and accessorize it to suit you. For example, if you decide to be a counselor, hone a style that's consistent with your personality: If you're a relaxed person who enjoys listening and facilitating, find training and supervisors who'll encourage that. If you prefer to more actively participate in sessions, build on that. If you like working as part of a team, join a group practice. If you hate commuting, see if you can work at home. Off-the-rack, a career will probably look just okay. To really be happy with it, you must tailor and accessorize it.

Cool careers are overrated. The emotional problems, drug addictions, and deaths of many celebrities only hint at the reality that "cool careers" often aren't cool enough to make people happy. Indeed, the competition for jobs in entertainment, environment, journalism, academia, fashion, etc., is so fierce that salaries are often poor and there are oodles of applicants for every good position. And if you beat the odds and get hired, you're often treated badly, for example, paid poorly as a temp, because the employer knows those oodles are still salivating in the wings for the opportunity to work for low wages or for free to fundraise on behalf of the snail darter. You're always worrying that if you screw up, you can easily be replaced.

Instead, you might want to consider less prestigious careers. Indeed, prestige can be the enemy of contentment, witness all the unhappy lawyers. Competition is less intense in less statusy careers, especially if under-the-radar, for example, optometry, neon-sign maker, program analyst for government, child-life specialist, manufacturer's rep for fine china, and forensic accountant.
Generally, career happiness comes not from a career's "coolness" but from your job having the basics met: a reasonable salary, job security, workload, boss, co-workers, ethics, learning opportunities, commute, and your having taken the time to become expert. One of my clients is a first-line manager at a local utility. While the job isn't sexy, it has all of the above characteristics and she's very happy.

Instead of a career change, consider a career tweak. Changing careers is much harder than some gurus would have you believe. You need the time and ability to retrain, can afford the lost income during training and usually in your first job(s) in the new career, and be able to convince an employer that it's worth hiring you, a newbie, over experienced candidates. And, ironically, many career changers don't end up happier in their new career-They bring their issues with them: poor reasoning skills, procrastination, annoying personality, etc.

It may be easier to try to tweak your current career: a job description changed to replace tasks you dislike with tasks you do, upgrade your skills, change bosses or employers.


A resume's greatest value may be as a tool for self-discovery. Employers give only modest weight to resumes, knowing it's difficult to tell how honest it is or even whether it was written by the candidate. But creating your resume is an excellent way to inventory your accomplishments, skills, and abilities. After creating it, you'll like be more confident, plus you'll have the basis for identifying a job target and for explaining-in networking, cover letters, and job interviews--why you'd be good.


Treat time as treasure. Most successful people realize that time is their most valuable possession. They carefully consider whether a chunk of time could more wisely be spent: how perfectionistic to be on a given task, what to say yes and no to, and what to delegate. They're wary of major time sucks such as excessive TV watching, sports and video-game playing, shopping, meal preparation, a long commute, and non-essential travel, such as trekking cross-country to their second cousin's third wedding.

Be publicly positive, privately negative. American culture values positivity, being upbeat. If you too often criticize, even if justifiably, your career may well suffer. The politically sensitive person sets aside non-central criticisms and then decides to bring up an important concern publicly or to leak it to a trusted person who might.

Beware of being politically incorrect. I'd like to believe that "the truth shall set you free" but I've too often seen politically incorrect candor causes the person to be set free from his job or at least censured. We claim to celebrate diversity but dare an idea veer from today's orthodoxy, severe punishment is often imposed. I have great respect for those who put themselves on the line for their beliefs but we live in times in which it is riskier to do so than I can ever recall.

Hire slow, fire fast. It's axiomatic that a manager's most important task is to hire wisely. That requires finding candidates primarily by referral from trusted colleagues and friends than from want ads. If a trusted person refers a candidate, s/he's more likely to be good than is an unknown applicant whose resume, cover letter, and even references may be legitimate or may reflect their having paid a hired gun and/or exaggerating their accomplishments. The choice of whom to hire should be based more on simulations of the job's difficult central tasks than on the too-often invalid resume, cover letter, interview, and reference check.

If possible, hire the person on a trial basis. Otherwise, there's risk of a wrongful termination suit. Often, you can tell in the first day or two, whether the person is likely to work out. If after a brief attempt at remediation, you still sense the probability of the person being a good employee is low, it's wise to cut your losses. It's easier to find a good employee than to try to turn a bad employee into a good one.

Steak, not sizzle. Some people put more effort into networking, wardrobe, and elevator pitch than to building expertise. That may succeed, especially in the short run, but often results in ultimate failure or at least a chronic case of the imposter syndrome. Most successful and contented people put more effort into their steak than their sizzle.

7 Lessons From Stupid Social Media Mistakes Workers Have Made

Talking smack about your boss: generally not a good idea

Drunk man slumped on bar asleep
Social media: do you really want your boss seeing you like this?

By Deanna Hartley, CareerBuilder writer

Celebrities aren't the only ones who get notorious press for posting inappropriate - and sometimes downright offensive - posts on social media against their better judgment. (Cough, Khloe Kardashian, cough. Maybe she was trying to #breaktheinternet, too.)

Take a look at these real-life workers who got in trouble for getting a little too click-happy before stopping to think about it.

1. Don't think posts about race are funny. Just the other week, someone tweeted this beauty using the Dave & Busters official Twitter account to promote its Taco Tuesday special: "'I hate tacos' said no Juan ever." To think that this came from a someone likely trained in the do's and don'ts of social media is baffling.

Even if you think it sounds funny in your head, say it out loud - preferably to many different people at work - before posting something your gut tells you could be risky. Better yet: NEVER post anything with racial undertones or that could in any way be racially offensive.

2. No nudity or gross behavior, please. When you think food, I'd venture to guess that the last thing you'd want associated with it is nudity and/or poor hygiene. Yet somehow that's the vibe a poor misguided (now former) cook at Chili's decided to put out there by posting Facebook pictures of himself cooking while shirtless. There was also the infamous Taco Bell employee who captured himself in this compromising act at work. And the Wendy's employee who was forever freeze-framed chugging down ice-cream directly from the machine.

Unless your name is Channing Tatum and you're posting from the set of the Magic Mike sequel, please keep your shirt on while at all times while at work.

3. Sharing can make you just as guilty. This was a bizarre case of an assistant principal at a high school with a 94 percent minority enrollment who retweeted a racially offensive tweet involving mixed race couples at a school prom.

Just because you share - instead of create - such posts yourself doesn't mean you won't be held liable. Your "share" or "retweet" or even "like" may not count as an endorsement per se, but it certainly affiliates you in some way with the message.

4. Remember that you represent your employer. In what was probably one of the most notorious social media faux pas of all time, former PR executive Justine Sacco posted what she thought was a joke on Twitter just before hopping on a plane to Africa. Little did she know that when she landed on the other end, a firestorm of controversy would be awaiting her. It later became known as the "tweet heard round the world."

Even if you post to social media during off hours and from a personal account - in this case Justine's Twitter profile identified her as an employee at her (now former) company - doesn't mean you can avoid accountability. Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand online, and that by default means that you represent or at least are affiliated with your employer, so act accordingly.

5. It's too late to backtrack once the damage is done. A (now former) CNN reporter decided it was a good idea to tweet her condolences and admiration for a notorious controversial figure upon his death. She later claimed that it was his supposed support for women's rights that she was really talking about, but guess what - the damage was already done.

It should be obvious to be very cautious about posting to social media about controversial issues, but it's tempting to assume that all your followers and friends will understand exactly what you mean. It's best to avoid posting about sensitive topics - especially if it doesn't have much context - as much as possible. If you really have to, first stop and think real hard about the impression people will walk away with.

6. Exercise caution when posting about your...err...recreational activities. We get it - it's tempting to showcase your every interesting move to friends and followers online. Instagramming all your food pictures is annoying one thing, but publicizing other, ahem, NSFW activities may not be as innocent.

Unless you're secretly auditioning to be on Celebrity Rehab, hopefully this just boils down to having common sense.

7. Don't talk smack about your employer online. A frustrating day or experience is not a good reason to broadcast online your grievances with your employer, like this woman did.

We all have bad days and experiences we'd rather forget. Granted there are ongoing developments in terms of what employers and employees are allowed to do in a legal context,
but remember - literally nothing good can come of venting about it online, so just don't.      

How to search for RN jobs

Registered nurses are people of action--and searching for a new RN job means taking the right actions to find the right opportunity for you.

Did you know 30,206 employers are searching for registered nursing resumes in our database every month? By posting your resume to, employers can search and find you without you ever applying for a job.
Registered nurses have a great instinct for knowing just when to step into a situation, whether it’s providing care for patients, bringing a doctor up to speed or acting on a lucrative opportunity for a step up in your career.
But if you’ve been so busy in your current job or preparing to qualify as a registered nurse that you haven’t had time recently to search for a position, it can be unclear where to start or how to search for RN jobs. Read on to learn about best search practices for looking online, as well as the resources offered to give you a competitive edge for the best new opportunities and pay. A new position means new opportunities to help care for the world and also step up in your career.
High demand online for RNsAccording to data by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., in the summer of 2014, there were 1,060,000 job postings for registered nurses online, with a higher posting intensity for RNs than for all other occupations and companies in the region, indicating that companies may be trying harder to hire this position.
That trend is only expected to grow as an aging population will require more health care options, and a recovering economy means expanding health care teams and new facilities that will need to be staffed. So how can you make sure you’re visible to the right employers in this time of high demand for RNs?
Two steps to new opportunitiesYour first step is to share your desired job title (do you want to search for registered nurse positions? Or a more specific health care role? Suggestions will load as you begin to type, helping you to connect with the terms and titles employers use, ensuring that job seekers and employers are on the same page. Next, include the area you’re looking to work in and upload your resume. Also include how visible you’d like to be to employers.

Next, sign up or sign into your account. Your first and last name, email address and a password are the only fields required to create and access your account, which is home base to the best job-searching tools for RNs. With an account, you’ll be able to view recommended jobs, your resume and cover letters to keep your materials straight, your saved jobs, searches and alerts, as well as the HireInsider Report, a free report that helps you check out the competition. Two steps is all it takes before you’re accessing countless jobs that could be the right career move for you and connect you with a great employer.

Check out the competitionThe HireInsider report allows you to gauge your chances of getting the job and viewing stats on the competition, like the average level of education that applicants have, as well as years of experience and the volume of resumes that hiring managers are receiving. You can even see if you’re one of the first to apply! All of this information allows you to make informed choices and have a clear plan for you how see your career going.

If you don’t have a resume, you can build it free!Resume Hero helps you create a stellar resume that will stand out to employers, and takes the guesswork out of putting your resume together. Don’t let a resume be a roadblock to your next great opportunity in nursing. Instead, take advantage of resume services like Resume Hero or Resume Share, which can invite others to help improve your resume and give insight to your search.

Click here to begin searching for jobs now, as well as upload your resume or create a new one for free. A new position as a registered nurse or a related opportunity is just around the corner!

Liar, Liar! You Won't Get Hired

Employers reveal the lies they've discovered

By Debra Auerbach

People lie about a lot of things: age, weight ... number of Botox injections. Sometimes lies can be harmless (who needs to know that your natural hair color isn't really blond?); other times they can get you into big trouble.

When it comes to employment, bending the truth on your resume might seem worth it in today's competitive workforce, but it will likely get your resume sent to the reject pile. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 58 percent of hiring managers say they've caught a lie on a resume; 33 percent of these employers have seen an increase in resume embellishments post-recession.

While half of employers (51 percent) would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on his or her resume, 40 percent say that it would depend on what the candidate lied about. Seven percent of employers would even be willing to overlook a lie if they clicked with the candidate.

Most frequent fibs
So what fabrications are job seekers most likely to make on their resume, with the hopes that they'll go unnoticed? According to employers, the most common lies they catch relate to:
  • Embellished skills – 57 percent
  • Embellished responsibilities – 55 percent
  • Dates of employment – 42 percent
  • Job title – 34 percent
  • Academic degree – 33 percent
  • Companies worked for – 26 percent
  • Accolades/awards – 18 percent
Incidences by industry
Lies aren't confined to a certain occupation or job level – job seekers of all types commit lies to boost up their resume. Yet some fields have more offenders than others. The survey found that employers in the following industries catch resume lies more frequently than average: "Trust is very important in professional relationships, and by lying on your resume, you breach that trust from the very outset," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "If you want to enhance your resume, it's better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience. Your resume doesn't necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate."

The tallest tales ever told
It's one thing to spin your experience to make it more relevant to the position you're pursuing. It's another thing to claim you have more years of experience than is possible at your age. And that's actually happened: One employer surveyed says an applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.

Other unusual and outrageous lies employers recall include:
  • Applicant included job experience that was actually his father's. Both father and son had the same name (one was Sr., one was Jr.).
  • Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn't have a prime minister.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a high school basketball free throw champion. He admitted it was a lie in the interview.
  • Applicant claimed to have been an Olympic medalist.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse some years prior.
  • Applicant claimed to have worked for 20 years as the babysitter of known celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Madonna, etc.
  • Applicant listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting the employers, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked at one for two days, another for one day and not at all for the third.
  • Applicant applied to a position with a company that had just terminated him. He listed the company under previous employment and indicated on his resume that he had quit.
  • Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.

How to Fix Your Boss

Who's really the problem? The boss or the employee?

"How to Fix Your Boss"--there is enough presumption in that title to choke a horse. "Fixing the boss" assumes that the boss is the problem. As a recovering Idiot Boss (iBoss), I confess that I have been the idiot husband, the idiot teacher, the idiot student, the idiot boss, and--yes--the idiot employee.

I've been an equal-opportunity aggravation to more people than I care to count. So I hesitate to throw stones at bosses until they are proven guilty. But in western civilization, bosses are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent--so stones tend to fly with every boss-sighting.

In a culture where we are socialized from early childhood to rebel against authority, it's hard to accept that rebellion is not necessarily the most effective response to not having our expectations met. That's the behavior we tend to most frequently associate with authority figures; they stand between us and the expectation we have for something they never promised us in the first place.

We Americans have rebellion in our DNA. The United States was born by kicking its mother country out. We grew up listening to our parents complain about their bosses. We were raised on songs like "Take this Job and Shove It" and "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad" (which, if you look it up on Wikipedia, is not the most pleasant story).

We go to movies like Nine-to-five, Office Space, or Horrible Bosses, and munch popcorn while we watch bosses "get what's coming to them," and laugh at their pain. We work all day in offices that we hate, then go home and watch reruns of The Office.

After listening to our parents kvetch about their bosses, we go to school and embark on a life-long journey of rebellion which begins with declaring war on our parents, our teachers, and our school administrators. When they won't allow us to stay in school any longer, we finally get jobs and spend the rest of our working lives taking our unresolved adolescent rebellion issues out on the most visible, available, and socially-acceptable target: The Boss.

Just when you thought it was safe to attack anyone and anything with institutional authority and thus invoke your hard-earned iconoclasm (natural hatred for authority), along comes Dr. Hoover saying, "Don't screw up your long-term options." What I mean by "long-term options" is this: the sooner you can stop assuming the boss is the problem, the sooner you might repurpose that anger and become a more nimble, agile, and fluid navigator of complex corporate waters.

Why would becoming a more nimble, agile, and fluid navigator of complex corporate waters be a good thing? Because while everybody else is bashing their bosses, you could be sailing to the head of the pack, top of the heap, star of the show, penthouse suite. You should want to hit the executive floor eventually, and be granted all of that executive authority--if, for no other reason, so you can be a good and gracious boss who bestows good things on the employee population.

You'll never become Glenda the Good Witch of the office by boss-bashing. And never forget that the one thing all the bad bosses you ever had have in you. So ask yourself: Am I truly a victim of my boss's cluelessness, or am I a volunteer?

In any dysfunctional workplace relationship, there are at least four factors in play. (Okay, there are more likely a million, but we'll just deal with four.) We'll assume because you chose to read this article that your boss faces some issues vis-à-vis being an effective leader. That, as they say in Vegas, is a "safe bet." That means that some part of the problem is your boss.

But if you stop there, you're missing a big piece of the truth--and therefore, any possible solution to the real problem: How to fix the problem you are having with your boss. To some degree, you are part of this problem. Again, do your own math, but don't give yourself a hall pass and expect to come up with a real solution.

Then consider circumstances and systems. Your luck may have gone south for the winter, and/or the whole system you're operating in might be broken; both of which will make it look it look like your boss is just unbearable. But before you reach for your boss bat, try this formula:

Subtract the Dysfunctional Employee (you) from the Dysfunctional Boss Factor. From that number, subtract the sum of the Bum Luck Factor and the Busted System Factor. How bad does it look now?

I don't know what values you ascribed to the four primary factors, but the mathematical result should mitigate your anti-authority emotional coefficient to some degree. If everything is equally bad, you might be caught in the perfect storm where the poison pill is your only hope.

Doesn't that sound silly? Really? Before you approach every workplace relationship with the assumption that the boss needs to be fixed, which will poison your working environment, make it a mutual-sum game. If the total score is 100, how many numbers are in each of the four circles?

Chart: John Hoover      

Why You Need A Business Card In A Job Hunt

Ideas for creating a personal calling card

man's hand showing business...
One of the first things you lose when you lose a job is the relevancy of your business card, especially if you were lucky enough to have one. If you're tempted to hand out an old business card and write your new contact info on the back, stop. Ordering business cards is one of the least expensive investments you can make in yourself to present a professional demeanor when interviewing or networking. It provides an easy way for follow-up contact, and can provide a way to position yourself to prospective hiring managers.

Today, business cards are so easy to order with a fast turn-around time that there's no reason you shouldn't have one for your next interview or networking event. In fact, getting your own "personal" business card is one of the first things you should do the day after a layoff. In preparing for the new job hunt, you can easily arm yourself with a stack of calling cards for your very first outings at networking events. Here are four easy steps for ordering your new cards, and ideas for what to put on them.

businesspeople exchanging cards ...

Step 1: Get the cards

Every day there seem to be more and more choices for business card vendors. VistaPrint is one of the key innovators in the digital ordering space and is still one of the primary providers. Recently, they were offering 500 cards for $9.99, discounted from their rack rate of $20. But there are many new players in the field, from, which offers different card shapes at a pricier $14.99 (per set of 50), to

If you're uncomfortable with digital ordering, march down to your local office supply store. If you need cards tomorrow, you may have to resort to printed cards off your computer, but only do this as a very last resort. Instead, try heading over to the printing center available at most Staples and Office Depot stores, and work with their printing manager. You'll find they can produce professional cards, sometimes in the same day, and usually no longer than 24 hours--frequently at rates that are competitive with the online vendors.

Step 2: Define your positioning
Don't skimp on your business cards. They are cheap enough in their basic pricing that it may be worthwhile to spend the extra few dollars for color, two-sided printing, or even for multiple sets. Business cards are part of making first and lasting impressions, so be sure that your card provides the right one.

Do invest in several sets, especially if you think you need different titles for different types of job interviews. Alternatively, give yourself a longer title that works across several different types of job searches.

In my case, I went with a two-line title on my card, which wasn't really a title at all, but rather a description of who I am in the business world. The top lines of my personal card appear as follows:
Rhona Bronson
Marketing Communications Executive
Digital Media Strategist

I made sure to include several key words in my job description, which reads a bit like a job title but also provides some information about how I view myself.
Step 3: Edit yourself
I do not recommend putting your home address on a card. It can serve to prejudice hiring managers who feel you live too far to commute, and provide personal information not needed to foster a business relationship.

Similarly, if you have a land line, don't put it on the card. Put your cell phone number on the card, and designate it as such by writing "cell" before the number. You never want prospective employers talking to your kids or spouse on a home line--and, if at all possible, you don't want to date yourself with a land line number. Additionally, using a cell phone allows you to easily check the incoming number before deciding to answer.

Finally, don't put cutesy graphics or religious symbols on your card. The card is about serious business-- helping people stay in touch. It may okay be to place a pithy motivational quote on the back as a conversation starter, but it is not the place for kitty pictures, smiling suns, or symbols of various affiliations.

Step 4: Use your cards liberally
Years ago, you saw "calling cards" used in old British movies when gentlemen and ladies came to call.
According to, "Calling or visiting cards ... served a number of social purposes, such as a means of introduction, to further acquaintanceship, to express congratulations or condolences and to provide notices of arrival or departure."

Today, the term "calling card" has been usurped by the telephone industry to refer to paid phone plan cards. But the concept of the calling card is as relevant as ever, as people seek ways to maintain their connections and form new ones. Here are some modern ways to use a personal calling/business card while job-seeking:
  • Create an easy introduction. When you first meet someone at a networking event or any meeting, make it easier for them to remember your first name by giving them your card.
  • Provide positioning. With a given title under your name, you can quickly position yourself as a digital whiz, systems analyst, or any other descriptor you want associated with your talents.
  • Show relevancy. Today, a business card can provide your email, Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile URL, and other modern digital connections in addition to a standard phone number.
  • Create conversations. If you are willing to spring for a two-sided card, it can list projects you've handled as immediate examples of your work. Or if you have access to graphic services, it can provide pictures of projects that can also be conversation starters.
  • Show personality. If you're a graphics person, the card can show a design flair either through use of graphics, font design, or a unique size. My card was fairly plain, with blue lettering for my name (which matched my resume). Again, make sure that the graphics are professional and not "cute."
  • Add business panache. I attached my business card to requested samples of my work and to follow-up thank-you letters. It helped show that I knew how to make presentations both for myself and potentially on behalf of the future employer. It also potentially got me into managers' contact lists, rather than simply filed into a resume folder.
Long before you write your first resume, cover letter, or thank-you note, draft what you'll put on your personal business card. It can help you stay motivated, feel more professional, and put you in a better frame of mind for presenting yourself at networking events and parties--if not job interviews. And after you've perfected your resume, if your first business card doesn't match your desired profile, discard it. For just $9.99 to $25, you can have a whole new set printed up with a quick click of your mouse.    

5 Behaviors That Can Ruin Your Career

What not to do at work, from former GE CEO Jack Welch

Business people looking down at man lying on pavement, elevated view

By Jacquelyn Smith

If you seem to be on a downward spiral at work, Jack Welch, executive chairman of The Jack Welch Management Institution and former CEO of GE, says it may be time to take a "good look in the mirror" and figure out what you're doing wrong.

He says in a recent LinkedIn post that your behaviors could very well be to blame for your "stalled or faltering career."

He highlights 10 specific career-killing pitfalls - and says if you're guilty of exhibiting any, you should make it your mission to change them immediately.

Once you do, Welch says, "you're likely to see your career move from a stall to a soar."

Here are five of the behaviors you'll want to avoid:

1. Over-committing and under-delivering. All talk, no walk won't help you get ahead. Make promises you can keep.

2. Resisting change. Failing to embrace new ideas can seriously hurt your career. Be open-minded.

3. Always worrying about your next career move. You need to focus on the present. If you're always thinking, "What's next?" you'll seem distracted and not committed to your current tasks at hand.

4. Being a problem identifier versus a problem solver. Identifying problems sounds a lot like complaining if you don't do anything about them.

5. Being complacent. If you stop growing as a person and a professional, you'll stand still (or even take steps backward) in your career.

How to evaluate candidates' soft skills

By Mary Lorenz, CareerBuilder writer

Watch out, hard skills and technical know-how: You've got competition. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, the vast majority (77 percent) of employers consider soft skills just as important as hard skills when it comes to evaluating candidates for a job, and 16 percent even say they're more important.
What are soft skills? As my colleague pointed out recently, soft skills typically describe "communication, leadership, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, team skills, relationship management and a long list of other so-called intangible traits." Though they are hard to measure quantitatively, soft skills remain a sought after trait and recognized business differentiator among employers.
Perhaps the heavy focus on soft skills has to do with the fact that employers have been struggling to find candidates with the hard skills they need (particularly when it comes to technology skills and big data expertise). Many employers have even reported that they've started focusing on cultural fit and potential over skills, figuring they can train them on-the-job with the necessary hard skills.
According to the survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers nationwide, the top ten most popular soft skills companies say they look for when hiring include:
1.      Strong work ethic
2.      Dependability
3.      Positive attitude
4.      Self-motivation
5.      Team-oriented attitude
6.      Organization; ability to manage multiple priorities
7.      Ability to work well under pressure
8.      Effective communication skills
9.      Flexibility
10.   Confidence

Evaluating soft skills: The one type of interview question you must ask
Whether through pre-employment testing or during the interview process, using behavioral interview questions is one of the most effective ways to evaluate a candidate's soft skills. Behavioral interview questions are those that center around real-life experiences the candidate has had, as opposed to hypotheticals. For example, instead of asking, "What would you do if...?" ask "Tell me about a time when..." or "Give me an example of..."

There are two main reasons behavioral interview questions work: One, past behavior is a better predictor of future success on the job than potential behavior, according to workforce management expert Nancy Newell, because it helps predict future success on the job by looking into past behavior; two, when they hear questions shaped around potential behavior, candidates are more likely to say what they think you want to hear.
By asking for real-life examples, you'll get more insight into candidates' soft skills, such as how well they work under pressure, how they communicate and their work ethic. Some more examples of behavioral interview questions include:
  • Describe a time when you had a problem with a supervisor and what you did to resolve it.
  • Give me an example of how you handled a very tense situation at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you had difficulty getting others to work together on a critical problem and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about the best leader you have worked with, why you felt this way, and what you learned from that person.
  • Describe a problem you faced that was almost overwhelming and how you got through it.

Keep in mind, of course, that these questions are not full-proof -- there is no "magic bullet" when it comes to hiring, says Newell -- however, behavioral interview questions are your best bet for finding employees with the soft skills your organization values most.

Finding a Job on Craigslist Carefully

Jobseekers, proceed with caution

Classified ads on Craigslist website

Craigslist is a unique site with 700 local sites in 70 countries offering 80 million classified ads to the people in those locations. On Craigslist, you can find everything from jobs to places to live (for sale and rent) and many things to purchase.

Craigslist Has Advantages

Craigslist is different from traditional job boards in four important ways:
  1. Jobs posted on Craigslist are often not posted elsewhere.
  2. Posting jobs is free or inexpensive (compared with a traditional job board) for employers.
  3. Small and very small employers use Craigslist more often than large employers.
  4. Craigslist jobs are presented in chronological order based on posting date and time.
Keep those characteristics in mind as you hunt for your new job on Craigslist.

Do a Search of All "Jobs"

The most effective way to find a job on Craigslist is to search the entire "jobs" category so you don't miss a job that was posted in a subcategory (e.g. "admin / office" etc.) you wouldn't check. Simply click on the "jobs" title at the top of the Craigslist homepage for your location. Then, type your query at the top of the "jobs" category page.

When you get to the results of your first search, you can fine-tune by clicking on the "search titles only" or choosing another option with choices like "internship" or "part-time." Check the left column on the search results page for these and more options. Craigslist will show you search results in the usual reverse-chronological order with the newest at the top. If the results are limited, Craigslist will also search "nearby" locations to find you more opportunities.


Like most websites that accept postings from the public, some of the jobs you find on Craigslist are bogus, so keep your guard up. Be careful if:
  • No employer name is visible. Some legitimate employers do post "blind ads" with no indication of who they are to protect their intentions from competitors or even current employees. But be wary if the employer's name, address, and contact information is not given.
  • You need to pay them. The posting wants you to invest some money before "qualifying" for the job. Recruiters are paid by employers to find good candidates, and employees are paid by employers. So, no one should be collecting money from you.
  • They offer you a job without any screening or interviews. The employer is willing to hire you immediately, based only on your interest in the job, and wants you provide your Social Security Number and/or bank account number before even interviewing you for the job. That very important personal information is the last information provided, after you have interviewed for the job, are sure that the employer is real, and have been given a formal job offer.

Remember, if the job doesn't feel right to you or the people are a little scary, trust your instincts, and skip the opportunity!

Research Before You Apply

The Internet is your best defense. Don't be in such a hurry to apply for a job that you skip taking the time to be sure that the employer and the job are legitimate.

Who and where is that business? Look for postings that include the employer's name, address, and phone number. Then search on that information to be sure that the employer is "real." Is the address given for an office building or an empty lot or something else inappropriate?

Does that employer have a website that describes the business? If you only find job postings when you do the search, skip the opportunity. Legitimate businesses must do more than relentlessly hire people. They must generate revenue to pay those employees.

Apply Very Carefully

When you respond, use an email address specifically for your job search. Best is a a free email address from Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google--but, of course, not a "cute" address like or Avoid using an address associated with your current employer (great way to lose your job or have a very uncomfortable talk with your boss).

Limit Personal Information Sharing

Don't share your home address or home phone number when you apply. Stick to your job search email address in your initial contact with the employer. Once you are sure that the job is legitimate, you can share more information, although I would protect my home address for as long as possible.

Meet Only in a Populated, Public Location

Even to meet someone who works out of their home, the first meeting or job interview should be in a populated public place, like a coffee shop or a public library. Don't meet someone in their apartment or house for your first meeting.

Bottom Line

Craigslist can be very helpful for finding a job. Many of the successful job seekers I speak with found their jobs on Craigslist. But be cautious with Craigslist--as you should be with any job posting, whether you find it online or on your local public library's bulletin board. The bad guys and gals are out there.    

Interview Etiquette: Before Meeting the Boss, Befriend the Secretary

Interview Etiquette: Before Meeting the Boss, Befriend the Secretary

If everything goes to plan, you've arrived at the recommended 15 minutes before your job interview. You've checked in with the secretary or receptionist, and now, the dreadful wait for the interview - the interview you practiced for rigorously, even talking to yourself in the car on the way there. What you don't know is, this waiting period is actually a blessing.
The 15 minutes before your interview not only give you time to relax your nerves, browse through some of the company's reading material, but this precious 15 minutes also gives you a one-on-one meeting with the company "insider" - the secretary or receptionist.
He or she knows the inside scoop about the company culture and they see interviewees like you day in and out and know the what the boss likes and dislikes. It is likely that after the interview, the boss will ask the secretary or receptionist for his or her first impressions of you. This person is your golden ticket.
So how do you go about chatting with the receptionist or secretary while seeming genuine and professional so you get their stamp of approval? Here's how:

Well, be genuine
Secretaries and receptionists can smell behavior that is "fake" or not genuine. If you get the job, this is the first and last person you'll see at the company every day. That being said, it's important to offer a genuine greeting (in and out the door) and smile.
Find a conversation starter
Unless they're busy, secretaries and receptionists are usually happy to partake in a human conversation (after being glued to the phone all day).
Try this. "Hi I'm here to see Mr. Jennings for an interview." "He'll be right with you." "Thank you so much for your help. So how long have you worked here?" Simple, polite, and approachable. 
Or try to find common ground with topics like current events or the weather. Once conversation takes place naturally, feel free to ask about the work culture or any tips he or she can give you about interviewing with the boss. OR, without creeping (this is key), if you notice anything, funny, peculiar, or personal on their desk, comment on it or ask about it. 
Real-life example: While waiting for an interview, simply commenting on photos of the secretary's children resulted in, not only in a great conversation, but she also provided tips on the boss's likes and dislikes. I later found out she put in a good word on my behalf.
Not a talker? Ask for reading material
Not all secretaries and receptionists are chatty. Rare, but it happens. In this case, remain polite and ask for any company reading material. You've still made a good impression because it shows your invested in the company. This also gives you good talking material in your interview. Interviewers like applicants who have done their research.
DO NOT stay on your phone
DO NOT sit there on your phone on Facebook updating your status about the big interview. 1. It's unprofessional and leaves nothing good to say about your first impression with the secretary or receptionist. 2. You don't know who's looking at your Facebook status (for all you know, the secretary or receptionist could be doing their homework on you right in front of you). You'd look pretty silly if he or she reported to the boss that all you were doing was tweeting the whole time.
Don't forget to say thank you and goodbye 
Whether the interview went poorly or great, make sure you make time to say thank you and goodbye. Don't be afraid to throw in, "I hope to see you soon!" Enthusiasm and positivity are always received well and you want to leave with as great of an impression as you had when you came in.

Thank you in the corporate world can go a long way so make sure you say it to everyone from your boss, to your peers, to the secretary, to the janitor. Why? It's kind, the right thing to do, and you never know who's buddy-buddy at the company. 

LinkedIn Reveals the 100 Most In-Demand Employers

And they're not all tech companies

Electric sign and logo greets visitors to General Electric home plant Schenectady New York

Quick! What are the most desirable companies to work for on the planet? Okay, Google...Apple...who else?

LinkedIn is here to save the day with their annual list of the 100 most in-demand employers on the planet. As you probably expected, a lot of them are in the booming tech industry (yes, Google and Apple claim the top two spots). Those crazy cafeterias have got to count for something. But you'll also find companies like General Electric and PepsiCo rounding out the top ten. Want to see who else is in the mix? Click through the slideshow below, or head over to LinkedIn for the full list.

Read more:  LinkedIn Reveals the 100 Most In-Demand Employers

Sticky Question for Your Boss? Here's How to Ask

Surviving those awkward conversations


By Robert Half

In your career, there will inevitably come a time when you have awkward or difficult questions to ask your boss. Very few people like uncomfortable interactions, but in order to get ahead at work, you need answers to your questions if you're to do your job well - even the sticky ones. Bringing up delicate subjects requires finesse and diplomacy, not to mention preparation.

Here are some of the top touchy employee-boss topics, along with the right and wrong ways to broach them.

Getting passed over for a promotion
If you're upset or confused about the outcome of a job competition, you should absolutely talk with your boss. However, don't approach the subject by asking, "How come Chris got the promotion and not me?" This confrontational tactic will likely put your boss on the defense, and the resulting exchange will be less productive than it could have been.

The better approach: Focus the conversation on what you can do. Better questions to ask your boss: "I'm interested in advancing in the company. How can I make that happen?" or "I was disappointed that I wasn't promoted. Can we talk about what I need to do in order to reach the next level?"

Asking for a salary increase
Of all of the questions to ask your boss, the ones that involve money can be the trickiest. Before launching into any discussion about salary, research what others in similar positions at other companies are making. Robert Half's "Salary Guides" are good resources. But don't use this information in the wrong way. You can't, for example, just march into your boss's office and demand, "According to my research, I should be making more money!"

The better approach: In addition to showing your manager job market data, you have to make your case. Before you ask for a meeting, make a list of the extra responsibilities you've taken on since your were hired or your last promotion. Don't forget any training or certifications you've received. When discussing your request with your boss, you can approach it this way: "I really enjoy working here. In the past year, I've been asked to lead two new projects and have consistently exceeded my quota. Can we talk about increasing my salary to make it more in line with my performance?"

The promised raise hasn't materialized
If you were led to think you were receiving a raise or bonus and haven't received it yet, don't approach your boss asking, "Where is the raise you promised me?"

The better approach: When you talk to your boss, don't assume any wrongdoing on his or her part. Stay neutral and professional, and - most of all - ask for action. You might say something like, "We discussed the possibility of my getting a raise three months ago. Is there anything I need to do to make that happen?"

Alternative work arrangements
If your company offers some employees the opportunity to telecommute, this can be a very tempting perk. If you want this work flexibility, your approach shouldn't be: "How come half the office gets to work remotely but I don't?"

The better approach: Don't make it about other people. Instead, inquire about what's possible for your own particular situation. Be ready to demonstrate how this would benefit the company, such as how you could be more productive if you could work from home a few days a week. If your boss seems reluctant, propose a trial period. But be ready for pushback: Not every job can or should be done remotely, and many managers are hesitant to allow junior employees to work remotely.

More advice when you have questions to ask your boss

  1. Timing is everything. Don't suggest new work arrangements or spring tough questions on your supervisor when the office is undergoing major changes or is frantically preparing for a deadline. An appropriate time is during your performance review.
  2. Be professional. In all work-related interactions, but especially when you have sensitive questions to ask your boss, mind your business etiquette. This means staying positive, not getting personal and not comparing your situation to that of colleagues.
  3. Focus on action. Managers appreciate workers who suggest solutions and not just dump problems on them. When you approach them about a sticky question, be sure to have a plan in mind - not just a complaint.

Remember: You have every right to bring up tough subjects. Just be sure to ask your questions tactfully. So do your research, gather your courage and request a meeting.

6 soft skills every professional needs


It's become more important than ever for young professionals to display strong interpersonal skills when looking for work.

Faced with rampant unemployment and stiff competition for the jobs that are available, many job seekers are struggling to find a way to make professional inroads. However, there are still those who manage to get hired or promoted not because of their degree or technical expertise, but because of their communication and interpersonal skills, often referred to as "soft skills."
According to the National Careers Service, soft skills are personal qualities and attitudes that help employees work well with others and encourage productivity within the workplace. And these types of skills may be more important than people realize. A recent study conducted by Millennial Branding and American Express showed that 61 percent of managers surveyed felt that soft skills were more important in new hires than hard skills, or even technical skills. In fact, the same study showed that the top three characteristics managers looked for when promoting millennials were the ability to prioritize work (87 percent), a positive attitude (86 percent) and teamwork skills (86 percent).

The fact that managers are prioritizing soft skills higher than other job-related skills makes sense. As an article from Mind Tools recently pointed out, most people don't choose their dentist based solely on his or her technical skills and expertise; they go with dentists who treat patients well and take time to answer their questions. The same thing goes for other professions, whether we're talking about doctors, accountants, social workers or secretaries. Despite this growing emphasis on soft skills in the workplace, they aren't traditionally taught in school, or even on the job. Workers often have to learn them on their own, either by observing and mimicking exceptional professionals who display these traits or practicing them like they would any other skill.

The soft skills employers look for
It's become more important than ever for young professionals to display strong interpersonal skills when looking for work. Here are six areas every job hunter should focus on:
1. Communication - As author Lauren Stiller recently pointed out in an interview with Fox Business, advances in technology have, in many cases, robbed young people of their ability to communicate effectively by encouraging the use of abbreviated emails and text messages. Stiller advises young professionals to demonstrate that they can communicate without technology by engaging co-workers and clients in face-to-face conversation and sending professional emails.
2. Teamwork - Being able to work as part of a team displays one's ability to get along with, and complete work-related tasks with, many different types of personalities. Team players also show their ability to cooperate and compromise with others, which is a trait often sought after by employers and hiring managers. Professionals who want to be seen as team players should take special care to mention situations when they worked effectively with others on their resume and be willing to describe those situations in-depth.
3. Flexibility - Employees who are flexible with their schedule and responsibilities don't just say they're a team player, they show it. That kind of can-do attitude is essential in the workplace, and can easily make an employee stand out when it comes to promotions, raises, and more. To ensure that this soft skill is on display, describe instances when you've been flexible that have benefited you and the company you worked for.
4. Positivity - Nobody wants to work with a grouch. To avoid being a negative nelly, don't criticize and don't complain, says author Laura Vanderkam in a recent article in Fast Company. Instead of harping on others' mistakes, show them the right way to do things and praise their improvements. The easiest way to give off a positive demeanor is to be receptive to others -- and smiling never hurts.
5. Time management - According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, time management skills are crucial for new hires since they're often juggling a variety of roles and responsibilities, especially in startups. To help your potential employer understand how well you manage your time, be prepared to explain the way you prioritize your daily tasks, and most importantly, "why."
6. Confidence - Confidence is key when it comes to winning over both clients and co-workers. However, displaying confidence in person, as opposed to on a resume, can be a difficult soft skill to master. Chloe Isabel, whose direct-sales jewelry company targets millennials for hiring, told Fox Business that she is often let down when meeting an interviewee in person, after discovering that their personality doesn't live up to the confidence they display on paper. "I find many recent college students and grads don't make eye contact, don't carry themselves well and don't speak with authority, which can be a little disheartening to the interviewer," she says.

Honing your soft skill set
Whether it's practicing effective verbal communication, being purposefully positive at work, or learning to work in teams or groups, any time invested into honing soft skills is likely a good investment. Even better news is that, unlike specific technical skills, soft skills are almost always transferable among jobs and even industries. So, take a look around at the most successful people you know and study the soft skills they have on display. There's a good chance those personality traits have helped them get where they are today -- and that the same skills could help you advance in your field as well.

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