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Which Matters More: Your Aptitude or Your Attitude?

WTF Computer woman Which Matters More: Your Aptitude or Your Attitude?

This is a guest post by Jonathan Rick.

You can tell a lot about a person from the way he emails.

Who would you want to have a beer with?

That question kept racing through my mind as I read the replies to a solicitation I recently sent out. The emails, which within an hour numbered more than a dozen, ranged from the pedestrian to the eloquent.

I’m publishing a representative handful to correct a widespread misperception among consultants in every industry: from publicists to painters to pet-sitters, what ultimately separates the winning vendor from the runners up isn’t the quality of your work. It’s whether people want to work with you. In other words, your likability.

Indeed, according to outplacement experts, in evaluating potential employees, employers value personality, passion, and proficiency in that order. The classic example is Charles Schwab, who in 1901 became the first recipient of a million-dollar salary. He earned this distinction not because of his expertise in steel, but “largely because,” Schwab recalled, of his “ability to deal with people.”

Keep this maxim in mind as you eyeball the below emails. After all the interviews and case studies and estimates and reference checks, most decisions in life come down to a single sensor: one’s gut. So before firing off your next pitch, think like the client and ask yourself that quintessentially American question: who would I want to have a beer with?

The Cut to the Chaser

1. “Do you have budget?”

It’s a legitimate question, but as the leadoff one, it’s a turnoff. Just as you wouldn’t ask a woman about her bank account on your first date, so your icebreaker to a prospective client shouldn’t be about money. No one wants to work with someone whose immediate—and seemingly only—concern is what you can do for him.

2. “My firm probably could do this. If you’d like to chat I’m at [redacted]. Website is [redacted].”

Love the confidence: we “probably could do this.” Equally inspiring: the description of your firm and a reason for its relevance to this project. No, wait…

3. “[Redacted] based out of Austin, TX is a great choice! Fast, quality work. Not sure of their schedule, but it can’t hurt to check.”

While the tip is intriguing, it’s incomplete. Care to make an introduction? How about identifying your contact here? At the least, give me an email address.

(If you’d prefer not to introduce me in your initial email, maybe offer to do so once I reply affirmatively? See reply #8.)

The Lou Avery

4. “[Redacted] emailed me that you may need a short video project. I am [redacted] from [redacted]. Let me know if we can help. Our demo reel is at [redacted].”

These straightforward sentences call to mind Lou Avery, Don Draper’s replacement in Mad Men. The new creative director is immortalized with this faint praise: “Lou is adequate.” So is this pitch, which is perfectly fine if you’re comfortable with average work.

5. “[Redacted] forwarded this to me. [Links to his videos.] What’s the project? Short turnarounds are rarely a problem (although I do have a current video for another client and a shoot with [redacted] to work on this weekend). Would love to know more, though.”

I appreciate your honesty. It’s admirable. At the same time, letting me know I won’t be your top priority isn’t the best way to commence a relationship. Reserve any potential problems until you’re asked or have established a rapport.

The Storyteller

6. “You might try [redacted]. He was at [redacted] and has his own business now. I know [redacted] has also used him. Everyone that I know who he’s worked with has been super pleased with the results. His email is [redacted].”

Solid. A strong recommendation coupled with a couple of name drops. And an email address is provided, so I can simply forward the message.

7. “Hey [redacted], Wanted to introduce you to Jonathan Rick. He is currently looking for a production team to help him with a video that needs to wrapped in the next two weeks. The budget is also fixed at $12K. Mentioned some of the details to [redacted], but Jonathan can fill you in on the rest. Know the budget is tight but hopefully you and Jonathan can figure something out.”

Excellent. Introductions like this reduce my workload—a surefire way to win my wallet. As a result, the burden now falls on the other party to follow-up.

One suggestion: tell me something about the other party.

8. “I can suggest an utterly brilliant award-winning filmmaker and producer, with a very quick turnaround and ridiculously affordable rates, who has won numerous awards for his professional filmmaking prior to his turning his attention to work for the [redacted] movement. Problem is, he’s in Australia. If it’s something that can be arranged off location though, let me know, and I’ll put you in touch…”

“Utterly brilliant”? “Ridiculously affordable”? Sold! Even though the location is a deal-breaker, I still want to meet this superstar. You never know when another opportunity will arise.

Six Principles

Fielding the above “cover letters” made me feel like a recruiter receiving rounds of resumes. Amid this deluge, six principles of salesmanship quickly took hold:

1. The early bird gets the worm. With a tight turnaround, the first few replies will attract maximum interest. With each subsequent email, my attention wanes.

Similarly, the further away you get from the initial request, the less the client remains in buying mode. If you can’t reply within 48 hours, what does this say about your responsiveness?

2. Follow instructions. The quickest way to eliminate yourself is by ignoring instructions. If a Word doc is requested, don’t send a PDF. If I ask for a one-paragraph description of your firm, don’t refer me to your personal LinkedIn profile.

My friend, recruiter Claire Kittle Dixon, shares this story: “If you think I’m a stickler, you should talk to my clients. The most common reaction I get from clients is, ‘If the candidate can’t follow simple application instructions, how will he perform on the job?’ They also say, ‘If the candidate doesn’t care enough to read the instructions, he must not be very interested in the job.’ It’s hard to argue with either point.”

3. Tell me about yourself. I don’t need your bio, just your elevator pitch or a memorable detail. Do you specialize in a certain facet of the field? Did you recently win any awards, get some nice press, or finish a particularly exciting project? Do we have any mutual friends or interests? (I may not recall your name, but I’ll remember that we both worked in the Bush White House.)

4. Offer advice. One reply I didn’t reprint contained this pearl: “I especially like the fact that [the video] is scripted and not documentary-style, and that they want to turn it around quickly. There are too many projects that drag on forever.” When every pitch is basically the same, demonstrating your expertise (showing rather than telling) goes a long way. Also, flattery never hurts.

(What happened to this pro? He failed principle #2—instructions.)

5. Make it easy for me. This is my biggest pet peeve. If you’re recommending someone, it’s best to gauge that person’s interest and availability beforehand. Once you’ve prequalified him, then introduce us via email. (See reply #7.) This saves me the trouble of repeating the project parameters.

6. Get excited. There’s no better way to stand out than with enthusiasm. If you’re confident you could knock this assignment out of the park, find an appropriate way to say so. Just as we remember a receptionist who greets us with a smile, so we remember the emailer who expresses eagerness and exudes enthusiasm.

A Master of All Trades

Some will accuse me of being persnickety, of foregoing a talented producer because of a lackluster initial email. If the guy can deliver a killer video, does he also need to be Shakespeare?

To this charge, I plead guilty. I want to work with people who are not only great at their job—be it videos or vehicles—but who can also communicate their thinking in a clear and logical way. I want to work with people who not only think creatively, but can also elucidate the principles behind that creativity to a nonexpert. I want to work with people who make me smarter.

Perhaps no one grasped this philosophy better than Steve Jobs. Whether the thing before him was a glass of juice or a potential employee, he refused to degrade his standards. As he told a pair of interviewers in 1997,

“The dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream … A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

Years later, regarding his cofounder at Apple, Jobs added: “What I saw with Woz was somebody who was 50 times better than the average engineer. He could have meetings in his head.”

Is this a lot to ask for in a mere introductory paragraph? Sure is. But when the competition is stiff and the pay is good, don’t give anyone an excuse to pass you over. Give them a reason to look you over.

Jonathan Rick is a digital communications consultant in Washington, DC. The above lessons result from seven years of running the Jonathan Rick Group,, where he’s written and responded to more RFPs than he cares to remember. Tweet him your pet peeves of pitching a prospect at @jrick.

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5 Reasons Your Job Search Has Failed

success fail sign 5 Reasons Your Job Search Has Failed

If you’ve been looking for a new job for a while and are still coming up empty-handed, it might be due to your approach. If any of the following ring true, it’s time to change your strategy.

1. You’re Not Committed

You’re dedicated to scouring job boards and updating your resume, unless a friend invites you out for coffee. Or Game of Thrones is on. If job seeking isn’t your top priority, how can you expect to find your next position?

Solution: First, ask yourself how serious you are about switching jobs. If you only look for one when your boss upsets you, it might be wiser (and easier) to just stick it out and toughen up. If you are serious, start dedicating real time to the process: a minimum of 3 to 5 hours a week will be fine to start with, and you might need to spend even more time than that.

2. You Haven’t Really Read Through Your Resume in a While

If you’re sending out your resume without reviewing or tweaking it, you can’t expect a hiring manager to fall in love with it. And it might not paint an accurate portrait of who you are as a professional right now if you haven’t updated your skills in a while.

Solution: Spend time reading your resume. Really, do it! Apart from detecting a possible grammatical error, you want to ensure you’ve listed your newly acquired skills and accomplishments. Have a friend review it and make suggestions for improvement. It doesn’t hurt to tweak it just slightly for each individual position to highlight your relevant experience.

3. You Sometimes Don’t Have Answers When Asked Interview Questions

If questions like “what’s your biggest weakness” (a terrible, but typical interview question) throw you off during the interview, you need to dedicate some serious time toward thinking about your responses to those types of questions. Hiring managers expect you to have an answer to anything they ask; it doesn’t have to be a perfect answer, but they do need to see you are quick on your feet.

Solution: Ask a friend to stage a mock interview and ask both commonly asked questions as well as those head-scratchers. If you are working with a recruiter, make sure you take an interview preparation call as she can give you insight about what you should be prepared for with each person you will meet.

4. You’re Only Looking on Job Boards

Sure, it’s easier to get online while you’re in your PJs and cruise job boards, but since 80% of jobs are gained through networking, that means you’re wasting a lot of time if job boards are your ONLY strategy.

Solution: Add a few other tools to the mix. Attend local networking groups to get to know people in your industry and at the companies you’re interested in. Spend time networking as well on social media sites to enhance those relationships. Connect with a recruiter who works in your field as well.

5. You Never Follow Up

You presume that the person who interviewed you will reach out if they decide to hire you. While yes, that’s technically true, it can only help for you to follow up and reiterate your interest in a position. It’s become pretty much expected that serious job candidates will follow up after an interview.

Solution: Immediately after an interview, send a note (a handwritten note is always a nice gesture) to the hiring manager, thanking her for the opportunity to interview for the role.

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6 Tips to Scoring Your First Internship

intern 02 300x189 6 Tips to Scoring Your First Internship

There’s a circular argument when it comes to getting your first job: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. It can be frustrating for freshly graduated 20-somethings to realize employers want more experience than they’ve got.

Fortunately, there is one thing you can do to gain experience before you’re ready for your first job:

Intern.

Internships provide you with real-world job experience, teach you valuable skills that will make you more hireable, and get your foot in the door at a company that might end up offering you a job.

Here are some tips to help you find the perfect internship.

1. Treat it Like a “Real” Job

You’d be surprised how many college students are too laid back when it comes to getting an internship.

From the start, you should pretend this is a job. Send your resume and write a cover letter, just like you would for a job. Dress professionally for your interview (and show up on time). Show the employee representative that you take this seriously, and they’ll take you seriously.

2. Start With a Company You’d Like to Work For

If you’re majoring in public relations or communications, you should, naturally, look for an internship in that field. But go one better and start with your wishlist of employers. There’s a chance — but not a guarantee — that if you do a great job with your internship, you’ll be offered a position, so apply at companies where you’d like to work at after graduation.

3. Go Through College Organizations

If you’re a member of an association like the Public Relations Student Association, there may be opportunities with college alumni that go through here. You always stand a better chance of scoring an internship if there’s a connection, such as the hiring manager also went to your college.

4. Knock Their Socks Off in an Interview

Employers sometimes have lower expectations for interns than they do their own employees. That presents you with the opportunity to blow them away in your interview. Show that you’ve researched the company thoroughly, and that you have a clear understanding of the industry you’d be working in.

5. Tell Them What You Can Do

Even if you don’t have any job experience yet, you can still show your portfolio of press releases (either from class or simply ones you create to build your experience), talk intelligently about public relations or communications, and express interest in learning new skills.

6. Follow Up with a Thank You

Just like with a “real” job interview, sending a follow up thank you card (handwritten and mailed) can impress the hiring manager and make you stand out from the sea of intern applicants. It’s little touches like this that make the difference.

Once you are hired as an intern, it’s up to you to get the most out of the experience. Show your enthusiasm about learning new skills, and offer your help wherever needed. Not only will you develop plenty to add to your resume, but you’ll also prove yourself as an indispensable member of the team.

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Why Women Need to Toot Their Own Horns at Work

WomanAndBullHorn Why Women Need to Toot Their Own Horns at Work

There are many statistics out there proving that, despite the fact that we live in “modern times,” women still earn less than men in comparable positions. While it’s easy to put the blame on men, women must take some of the responsibility.

Part of the reason we’re earning less is because we’re often reluctant to talk about our accomplishments to our bosses. In a recent conversation on the LinkedIn group, Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi, women discussed the topic.

Why We Don’t Talk About Ourselves

While it’s difficult to lump all women into one stereotype, many women do feel like they’re perceived differently than men when they talk about their accomplishments.

Tameeka Robinson, Store Manager at CB2, said: “ If we go overboard with ‘tooting our own horn’ we can be viewed as cocky, not a team player, self absorbed, etc.”

Men, on the other hand, are quick to take credit for what they’ve done. Whether women don’t feel entitled to the pat on the back or simply lack the confidence to bring it up, it’s affecting not only our morale but also our bank accounts.

How to Put Yourself in the Limelight

While it may not be comfortable to do so, tooting your horn is a necessity if you want to get ahead in the workforce.

Leticia Guzzetta, Technical Publications Manager at Imagination Technologies, said on the LinkedIn conversation: “It is appropriate to speak honestly and openly about your accomplishments because no one is going to do it for you.”

1. Look at Your Accomplishments from the Outside. While you may not think it’s that big a deal that you generated half a million in sales for the company, others do. Consider what others will be impressed with. Ammie Neal, a Consultant in Sales Operations suggests keeping a summary of what you’ve done:

“Time flies and by end of year it is easy forget your earlier accomplishments. So, be sure to print a copy of the summary and put it in your mid-year/yearly appraisal file.”

2. Don’t Brag, but Be Honest. There’s no reason to constantly tell your office mates about your achievements. Save them for your performance review, when they’ll have the best impact on your boss.

3. Be Visible. It’s not always about pointing out what you’ve done. Sometimes it’s as important to simply be noticed. Speak up in meetings. Voice your opinion. Share your ideas.

4. Believe in Yourself. If you don’t show confidence, how can you expect anyone else to have the confidence enough to promote you or give you a raise? If it’s hard to come by, try faking it until you make it.

5. Ask for that Raise. Don’t wait until your boss decides you deserve a raise, or you’ll never get it. Come armed with that list of your accomplishments and convince your boss that you’re worth it.

6. Don’t Let Someone Else Take Your Credit.

Diana Wittenbrock works as Senior Sales Manager for Hilton San Francisco Union Square. She was so humble in her first job out of college that she didn’t put her name on many of her projects. She quickly learned her lesson:

“Little did I know a male supervisor I trusted was actually writing his name on them – until the day he got an award for all the wonderful work he had been doing. 100% all mine.”

Don’t be shy about taking ownership of your work. If you don’t, someone else might.

It’s time we change the fact that there only 40% of executives are women. Stand up for yourself, accept credit where it’s due, and don’t be afraid to polish that horn when necessary.

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The Path to Professional Success for Women

Demetri Martin tumblr lo9k5j8SE31qhtggqo1 500 The Path to Professional Success for WomenGender and pay equality aside, the journey to professional success is quite different for women than it is men, based on the results of an annual survey from Citi and LinkedIn.

More Stops Along the Way

The survey results show that women expect to hold multiple jobs — as many as eight — over the course of her career, and that they are more likely than men to transition in their career several times. Add to that maternity leave and time off, and it can take longer for women to succeed careerwise.

And if you’re like many women (45%, in fact), you’re in a career that’s different from the one you thought you’d get once you graduated. That could be due to many factors, like:

  • Sluggish job market in the field you studied

  • Change of interest

  • The job you wanted doesn’t fulfill you like you hoped it would

What we can glean from this information is that women have a tendency to be more adaptable on their career paths. Being able to transition from one role to another takes time (and guts), as does reentering the workforce after taking time off.

Focus on Personal Goals

The key to success in the workforce is setting goals, no matter what your gender. Men and women almost equally feel they have achieved their goals (48% and 47% respectively).

But it’s not just setting goals that works for successful professionals; it’s actually working toward goals. It’s not enough to say “I want a promotion.” You’ve got to outline what steps you will take to make that a reality. Take on extra work. Make yourself more visible around the office. Present your boss with a list of accomplishments and assertively ask for the promotion and responsibilities.

But What Exactly Is Success?

Success looks different for every professional. And before you can set goals, you have to identify what success looks like to you. In the survey, “happiness” was the singlemost popular definition of what success was, regardless of gender or age.

But then, what is happiness? For women, that comes in many forms:

  • Doing what you love

  • Wealth

  • Work/life balance

Surprisingly, more men than women put more emphasis on marriage and children as part of the “having it all” equation. And 25% of women said it was important to have a solid relationship, but that marriage didn’t necessarily have to be a part of it.

And What Drives Satisfaction?

Another important component of the success formula is on-the-job satisfaction. The preferred perks varied between genders. For women, benefits like the following really drove contentment at work:

  • Professional development resources and training

  • Flex schedules/ability to work from home

  • Health/fitness related perks (i.e. gym membership)

  • Good maternity leave/paternity leave policy

It’s impossible to lump all women or men into a single group, but data like this is interesting as it does indicate overall trends. The key is knowing what drives you to succeed and to achieve your goals.

Citi LinkedIn Game On Infographic The Path to Professional Success for Women

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How is your ‘coffice’ etiquette?

working coffee shop How is your ‘coffice’ etiquette?

This is a post by PR Columnist, Alison Kenney.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone will at some time experience working from a coffee shop. Even if you’re not a regular telecommuter, you’ll spend some time trying to get a few to-do’s done when you’re on the road, or you’ll escape to a local shop on a work-from-home day.

What’s the attraction? 

Well, duh, there’s coffee. And usually some good-looking other stuff to eat.

But there’s also a good business reason to do it. In one of its most-read leadership articles of 2013, Fast Company outlined the reasons everyone should work in a coffee shop, even when you have an office.

Seriously, researchers at The Journal of Consumer Research found that moderate ambient background noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products. If that’s not enough incentive, Starbucks ups the ante by offering access to free news, video and “premium content” from a variety of partners to anyone who logs onto its store Wi-Fi with its Starbucks Digital Network.

Once you’re there, it’s important to observe ‘coffice’ etiquette.  The most important, and obvious, bits of etiquette advice are:

  • Buy something
  • Be nice to the staff
  • Power up before hand & don’t hog power outlets
  • Work securely – working in a public setting has implications for your data security, as well as for the physical security of your gear.
  • Know when it’s time to go – don’t stay and hog a table if there are long lines of paying customers
  • Take your phone calls somewhere else

 Some you may not have thought of are:

  • Advertise on the back (case) of your laptop
  • Don’t download huge files, or stream movies hogging the Wi-Fi bandwidth for others
  • Clean up after yourself – yes, you’re at a restaurant, but you also might want to ingratiate yourself to the staff

And, in the third category of ‘who WOULDN’T think of this’ here are a few last tips:

  • Take advantage of mobile technology. I know, right? But check out these Improv Everywhere pranksters who brought complete desktop computing workstations to the coffee shop.
  • Don’t bring in outside food. Just because there isn’t a sign saying not to do it, that doesn’t make it right.

Want to try working from a ‘coffice’ but can’t break free of your cubicle? Try Coffitivity, a free web site that simulates the sounds of a coffee shop on your desktop.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.comLearn more about Alison Kenney.


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Creating an Action Plan for Landing Your Dream Job

images Creating an Action Plan for Landing Your Dream Job

This is a guest post by Helen Evans, Marketing manager of Jobtonic.

Every person has their dream job. More often than not, people fall into old habits and stick with a job that they truly do not like. While this may be a necessity in some cases, it probably won’t lead to better opportunities. Instead, it is up to you to create an action plan so that you can work at Google Plex or any other company that you have a burning desire to be employed by.

Define Your Dream Job

First, you must figure out what your current dream job truly is. This will change greatly over time, but define it now.

  • Where do you want to work?
  • What city do you want to work in?
  • What field do you enjoy?
  • Which company do you want to work for?

Outline every facet of a job and really determine what your true dream job will be. It may be difficult to discern at first, but you will find that by defining your dream job, you can take steps to actually being employed quickly.

Requirements

There are always companies trying to get the attention of people who are looking for work online. Dig into these postings and see what the normal requirements are. This will include:

  • Areas of specialty
  • Education requirements
  • Certifications
  • Years of experience

These requirements will let you know what you are up against. Everyone wants to be a VP of a company, but this takes years of experience. You need to know what it is that you are required to do. If you have no problem spending 3 – 5 years going through lower positions, you may be able to meet the requirements for your dream job. Remember, everyone starts somewhere.

Education

Every field is different when it comes to education. First, find out what educational requirements a job has and start to pursue the appropriate education. Those that have already graduated college will find that they may not even need to go any further. This means you can start in the field much faster.

If you do need to seek higher education, try to get it paid for by an employer. There are many companies that will help a person pay for their degree.

Certifications

One of the most overlooked areas of education is that of certifications and licensing. Every field has their own level of certification and if you procure the right certification, you will boost your job options greatly.

Certifications can be researched online and will require a fee. The minimum fee will be to take the test, but harder certifications may require professional teachers and may be more costly. While computer certifications are self-taught, those given to nurses will be hands-on.

Once you have all of your educational requirements and certifications, you can start searching for a job. You may find entry-level positions in your desired field, or you may need to work your way up in a company. In either case, start applying for jobs and know that your biggest hurdle is now behind you.

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It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not: The Truth About How Companies Treat Employees

 It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not: The Truth About How Companies Treat Employees

While most relationships are reciprocal in their affection for one another, that’s not always the case for the employee/employer relationship. In a recent survey by Virgin Pulse, nearly 75% of employees said they loved their companies, while only 25% felt their companies loved them back.

Why We Love Where We Work

The reason for adoration of an employer vary, but some of the reasons in the survey include:

  • They felt they had interesting and challenging work
  • They liked their company’s mission and what it stands for
  • They love their co-workers
  • They have a flexible work schedule
  • They get great perks and benefits
  • They get paid well

The Feeling Isn’t Mutual

Despite many employees enjoying what they do and where they work, many don’t think their employers feel the same. But exactly how does a company show that it cares about employees?

The survey revealed many obvious answers, like managers showing more praise or offering better work/life balance. Surprisingly, money isn’t the only way employees feel appreciated, though it certainly helps. Great benefits like life insurance, maternity leave, and 401k plans also make employees feel more cared for.

And it seems like some employers try but somehow miss the mark. While a company might think that nap time and weekly massage are what employees really want, the survey showed that most care more about services and benefits that help them maximize their quality of life, such as an on-site gym or healthier cafeteria options.

How to Get What You Want from Your Employer

If you’re one of those workers who feels underappreciated at your job, don’t assume your only option is to jump ship. It is highly possible that your employer simply doesn’t know what you look for in terms of feeling acknowledged. A little dialogue about it can go a long way.

  • Talk to your colleagues. Are others feeling walked over, or are you alone in this? If you band together, you’ll be able to present a more solid case for what you all want from your company.
  • Brainstorm. In an ideal world, what would your company look like? What perks would it offer? Now, in a realistic world (read: small budget), what would you be satisfied with? Maybe you’d love a dream gym where you can work out in your building on your lunch break, but you’d settle for a free pass to the gym down the street.
  • Make your case. Make a list of accomplishments you and your colleagues have made over the past year to show that you’re dedicated to the success of the company. It’s easier to ask for something when you’ve proven that you’ve given in return.
  • Schedule a meeting. Bring a few of your co-workers (not so many that your manager feels bamboozled) and give a well-prepared presentation that explains how you’re collectively feeling about the company, as well as your ideas about how to improve morale. Realize your manager may not have final approval on your ideas, and that you may have to be flexible in what results you get (that company sauna might not be a reality). Being open to conversation is what you really want.
  • Follow up. You don’t want a meeting that results in a lot of empty promises that never amount to anything. Ask for dates that you can expect the ideas to be turned into reality. Obviously it would take longer to build that inter-office gym than it would to snag employee passes to a local gym.

Remember: you can’t always leave your workplace happiness in the hands of your employer. Don’t be afraid to take measures into your own hands to get the results you want.

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10 Holiday No-Nos for the Office

Surivive office holiday party 10 Holiday No Nos for the Office

The holiday season — while filled with joy and good cheer — can be a landmine in the office if you’re not careful. Here are 10 potential pitfalls you should watch out for this season.

1. Don’t Overdo it at the Office Holiday Party

While you certainly should relax at the company holiday party, do so within reason. Use it as an opportunity to talk to people other than the usual suspects. For some reason, whenever co-workers start drinking together, embarrassing things tend to happen. Pay attention to your alcohol consumption, and avoid the temptation to put that lampshade on your head.

2. Don’t Give an Inappropriate Gift to Your Boss

It’s perfectly acceptable to give the people you work with small tokens of appreciation for Christmas, but don’t give anything — especially to your boss — whose intent could be misunderstood to mean you have romantic interest in him or her, or simply want to get ahead in your career.

3. Don’t Take Vacation at Crunch Time

If you work in an industry that’s bombarded with work this time of year, try to avoid asking for vacation time unless absolutely necessary. You’ll come off more of a team player if you wait to unwind on the beach after the stressful period of work is over.

4. Don’t Flood the Break Room with Fattening Treats

Sure, most people love munching on your gingerbread cookies,  but when everyone is worried about packing on the pounds around the holiday season, healthy alternatives are appreciated.

5. Don’t Angle for a Promotion at the Company Party

If you’ve been vying for a promotion or raise, bringing it up to your boss at the party is definitely a no-no. He’s there to relax too, and will be put off if you’re spouting off all your accomplishments as he’s trying to do the Electric Slide.

6. Don’t Hook Up with a Co-Worker

We keep coming back to that office party, don’t we? Inter-office romance is a tricky thing, and one-time hookups at the holiday party definitely make for an awkward and strained work environment. Instead, bring a date (even if it’s just a friend) to the party to avoid being tempted by the new hot intern.

7. Don’t Be Exclusive with the Gift Giving

Okay, you don’t have to get everyone in your office a gift, but unless you can subtly hand off a giant wrapped box to your favorite co-worker, try to get something for everyone, even if it’s just a card. This can help dial down the jealousy and keep cohesion in the office.

8. Don’t Grouse About Your Nonexistent Bonus

Times are hard. If you don’t get a bonus from your boss, don’t complain about it. It’s not personal. Your boss will appreciate it if you take it in stride.

9. Don’t Assume Everyone Celebrates Christmas

When giving cards, stick to “happy holidays” messages to avoid offending anyone. And if you know a co-worker practices another religion, find out if she is comfortable accepting gifts before you give one.

10. Don’t be a Scrooge

If you’re not into the festive vibe, don’t ruin it for everyone else. This is one time of year that people don’t work as hard if they don’t have to, and enjoy general camaraderie with others in the office.

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20 Things You Should Have Done this Year to Make Yourself More Hireable

20things 20 Things You Should Have Done this Year to Make Yourself More Hireable

Are you lamenting over not scoring your dream job in 2013? It could be that you were guilty of not doing one or more of the following tips to position yourself as the ideal job candidate.

1. Network more. It’s easy to say you’ll network, but when it comes down to it, did you regularly attend networking meetings and put yourself out there in the scary world of talking to people you don’t know?

2. Read your resume out loud. Simply tweaking a word here or there on your resume won’t help you really see it from an employer’s perspective. Reading it aloud can help you identify errors and awkward sentence structure.

3. Take someone to lunch. That could be a co-worker who’s higher up the ladder or someone else who works in your industry. This is your opportunity to get insider tips for succeeding in your field.

4. Blog. Blogging is especially useful if you don’t have a ton of job experience. Write posts about your take on your industry, interesting projects you’re working on, and other topics that display your intelligence and interest in your field.

5. Open your search parameters. Perhaps you really want to go in-house, and you declined the opportunity to take an interview with an interesting agency. Some agencies have much smaller account loads or you may even work onsite for one client. Opportunities like this could be a perfect bridge with what you are considering to do long term.

6. Invest in interview clothes. Hiring managers judge you the second you walk into an interview. If your clothes are worn down and cheap looking, it doesn’t say that you take yourself seriously as a professional. In 2014, invest in a few key basic pieces you can wear in multiple ways. This is always a good investment and can be used in many situations, not only interviewing.

7. Connect with a recruiter or two. Recruiters have the inside scoop on which companies are hiring, even if they’re not posting on job boards. A key relationship or two could open up a
new pipeline of interesting job prospects in the hidden job market.

8. Learn a new skill. Rather than waste time hating your current job, you could use it as a launchpad to your next career. Take any opportunity to diver deeper in the business or learn a practical skills that will hep with your career advancement.

9. Attend conferences and seminars. Another way you could have made yourself more hireable this year was to attend industry events where you could not only learn new things but also network with others in your field.

10. Read blogs. Read, read, read, and increase your awareness of what’s happening in your industry. You’ll also get ideas for your own blog.

11. Ask questions. Consider yourself a learning sponge and ask smart questions of the people you work with. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just through curiosity.

12. Update LinkedIn. Whether you’re currently looking for a job or not, your LinkedIn profile should accurately reflect your work experience. Continue to connect to people in your industry and follow conversations.

13. Join LinkedIn Groups. Find a few groups that focus on your industry so you can learn from those who have already taken the path you’re on. Also find groups locally so you can network with people at companies you’re interested in.

14. Freelance. Especially if you don’t have the experience to get the job you really want, freelancing can help you fatten up your portfolio and make some extra cash.

15. Volunteer. Another great way to expand your portfolio is to donate your PR skills to a nonprofit or other organization. Volunteering is a good resume builder and a chance to explore new areas of interest.

16. Go Back to School. You may not need a second Bachelor’s degree, but it never hurts to take some continuing education classes or workshops to bone up on new skills.

17. Ask for the Job. If you’ve met someone who makes the hiring decisions at another company, have you truly leveraged that relationship? While you don’t want to take advantage, there’s nothing wrong with expressing interest in working for the company. It can open doors for you.

18. Be Different. The next time you apply for a job, do something different like create a video explaining why you want to work at a company (if that approach fits the company culture). Be memorable in a good way.

19. Look Internally. Rather than seeking a job elsewhere, see what opportunities lie in the company you currently work for. You’ve already proven yourself in your current role, and many companies prefer to hire internal candidates.

20. Be Diligent. You can’t give up after your first 10 resumes don’t net anything. Look for ways to constantly improve yourself, but remember, the search for the right job doesn’t happen overnight. j

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