Monthly Archives: March 2008

Interview All-Star: 3 Tricks to Tone Your Interview Skills and Find a Job

Improve interviewProfessional athletes must spend many hours working toward their goals in order to succeed. The same is true for job seekers. If you’ve been on the hunt for a job for a while, you’re probably well aware of how intensive the job search process can be. Applying and interviewing for jobs takes a lot of time, energy, and dedication. To land the job you desire, focus on beefing up your interviewing skills.

Stretch Your Small Talk Skills
In sports and in job interviews, sometimes you have to stretch yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with. You may not like making small talk, but your ability to converse well with interviewers plays a big part in their impressions of you. If you find yourself clamming up or stammering through chit chat with prospective employers, you need to practice your conversation skills. To perform well at the “big game,” rehearse answering common introductory questions such as: “What do you think of this weather?” and “Did you have any trouble finding the place?” Practice will keep your answers from being too abrupt or rambling.

Exercise Self Confidence
Star players don’t become MVPs by putting themselves down or being pessimists. When you believe in yourself, others are inclined to do the same. Even if you’ve been through 50 job interviews that haven’t resulted in a job offer, keep a smile on your face and maintain a positive attitude. Remember, successful athletes have to keep playing their best even when they’ve lost a few games. So, refrain from making self deprecating remarks or using sarcasm. Instead, convince employers that you’re the right person for the job by demonstrating self assurance and optimism.

Strengthen Your Post-Interview Follow Up
When athletes are weak in a particular area, they train hard to become stronger. If your post-interview follow up is lacking, you need to focus on pumping it up. What you do after the job interview is nearly as important as how you act during the job interview itself. You can’t win the job offer without having a good follow-up game. Keeping in touch with the employer by being available for repeat job interviews and sending a thank you note are important steps in receiving the coveted job offer. Make post-interview follow-up a top priority, and you’ll be rewarded by becoming a candidate employers can’t wait to draft.

Do you ever feel like your job search skills are in need of a work out? What type of “training” do you do before a job interview?

April Fools’ Day at the Office – To Joke or Not To Joke

Does the idea of April Fools’ Day get you pumped up for office pranks? Do you plan for weeks on end to perform the prank that will be talked about for years to come? In order for office pranks to go over well, they must be in good taste. If you’re a jokester who lives for April Fools’ Day, these five tips can help you ensure your pranks won’t get you or anyone else into trouble.

1.  Check the office policy. Check with your boss to find out if office pranks are acceptable. You don’t want to perform a trick if it won’t be tolerated in your workplace. Inappropriate pranks could result in a reprimand or worse, losing your job.

2.  Know your target. Make sure you have a relationship with your target – and know them well. Performing a prank on someone you don’t know could make them feel discriminated against and get you in hot water.

3.  Be politically correct. Steer clear of offensive jokes. Don’t make fun of protected classes, socioeconomic status, or someone’s education. These do more than cause embarrassment – they are often illegal in the workplace, especially when you use violent or sexually explicit jokes.

4.  Run the prank by your boss. Before pulling off your prank, make sure that your boss is aware of your plan. You want to make sure your bases are covered before executing the joke. You don’t want to get the OK to perform a trick only to find out later that the prank you picked is inappropriate.

5.  Put yourself in the situation. Ask yourself if this particular joke was pulled on you how you would take it. The idea of a prank is to make everyone laugh, even the person who is on the opposite end of the joke. If you think there might be a chance you could offend someone, make other plans.

Pranks should be lighthearted and enjoyable for all involved and done in good taste. A mean-spirited joke can harm someone’s career and reputation as well as hurt them emotionally.

5 Ways to Get More Sleep and be More Productive

productive sleepAre you getting enough sleep? Most of us aren’t, and it’s hurting our workplace productivity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, over 80% of American adults say that not getting enough sleep leads to poor job performance.

On top of decreasing your output at work, sleep deprivation also causes irritability, lack of concentration and a lowered immune system. To improve your performance at work, try the following five tips to get a better night’s rest.

Avoid caffeine late in the day. A cup of coffee or can of cola may get you going in the morning, but it can also keep you up at night. To ensure caffeine doesn’t disrupt your sleep, refrain from having caffeinated beverages after lunch time.

Get unplugged. Do you find yourself staying up late watching TV or surfing the Internet? If technology is keeping you from getting the sleep you need, remove TVs, computers and other electronics from your bedroom and set time limits on their use. It takes a while for your brain to wind down from entertainment. So, watching TV, playing video games or working on the computer late at night can push your bedtime back even further.

Stick to a consistent schedule. You’ll sleep best when you have a predictable sleep pattern. Make an effort to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each day. Drastic changes in your sleep schedule can throw off your body’s natural rhythms, creating an effect similar to jet lag.

Establish a relaxing routine. If you have trouble winding down at the end of the day, develop a soothing bedtime routine. Things like taking a warm bath, drinking chamomile tea and listening to calming music can help. You can also help your mind calm down by avoiding watching or reading anything too stressful or scary at bedtime.

Get comfy. A relaxed sleeping environment is essential to a good night’s rest. If pets or young children are interfering with your sleep, move them to another room or at least into a separate bed. If things that go bump in the night keep you awake, try adding some white noise, such as a fan or white noise CD. Also make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature – getting too hot or too cold can disrupt your sleep.

Do you get enough sleep? How do you think sleep affects your performance at work?

Think You’d Be Better Off Working From Home? 3 Things to Consider Before Making The Move

I have a friend who has worked from home for the past two years, but is now seeking a new job opportunity. She enjoys her job, the short commute from bedroom to office and wearing pajamas most days. But, she misses being around people and needs human contact again because she feels she’s starting to go nutty.

Have you considered working from home? Do you think you would go stir-crazy if you did, or would you adjust well? Here are a few things to consider before you make the change.

No teamwork – When you work in an office, you’re likely to work in a team environment and work with others on projects. When you’re working from home, you’re often working on projects solo and don’t receive input from others along the way. Brainstorming is more difficult because you can’t simply turn to a co-worker to get a second opinion. Instead, you have to send an e-mail or make a phone call to your co-workers and hope someone is available to help you out. Working alone is mentally and emotionally challenging for some people because they thrive on communicating with others.

More distractions –You might think that you’d face fewer distractions by working at home, but there are plenty of things at home to pull you away from your desk. Some things that might distract you include cleaning, laundry, paying bills, playing with pets or children and even watching TV. If you’ll be easily distracted, try hiring someone to help around the house so you can concentrate on work.

A shorter commute – The price of gas is continually increasing, pushing up the cost for commuters to get to and from work every day, whether they’re driving themselves or using public transportation. You’ll save money and time with no commute to the office. But, take into consideration meetings and events you might have to attend. If they’re an every day occurrence or if there’s an occasional long trip, your “commute” may still be a real issue. In fact, you may find yourself on-the-go more. My friend only has to travel once a week, but she has to travel more than my trip to and from work five days a week, so she ends up spending almost as much time and money commuting as I do.

There are many more issues to consider about working at home or working at the office. Make sure to weigh every issue fully to make the choice that will work best for you. Take the time to realize what’s truly important to you before you make the leap, considering all the good and bad things of working at home.

Are you currently working from home or would you like to? What advice would you give others who are considering a move to a home office?

Shake off the Cobwebs: How to Look and Feel Younger by Updating Your Image

Image UpdateGrowing older has its perks – more wisdom, life experience and job expertise. But, with age also comes a few things most people don’t appreciate as much such as wrinkles, weight gain and thinning hair. Typically, people don’t want to look any older than they have to – especially at work, where many generations come together in one place. The tips below can increase your workplace confidence by helping you look your best and keep your style up-to-date.

Update your ’do. Your hair is one of the first things people notice about your appearance, so ensure your style isn’t doing you a disservice by making you look older than you’d like.

Tips for men: If your hair’s thinning out, don’t try to camouflage it by sporting a comb-over. Instead, keep your look modern by having a stylist trim or shave your hair closer to the scalp. Also, long beards or mustaches tend to make men look older and less professional, so tidy up facial hair, including unruly eyebrows.

Tips for women: What’s popular for women’s hair changes more quickly than for men’s, so ask your stylist for tips on what’s in fashion. Additionally, hair that’s too dark washes out the skin and adds unnecessary years to the face. If you color your hair, consider going a shade or two lighter than usual to give your skin extra vibrancy.

Try out some fresh frames. Wearing wire-framed, square, rimless or other dated styles of glasses age you. If you’ve been wearing the same glasses for many years, it’s time to invest in a new set of frames. Tortoise-shell, rectangular, and plastic frames are trendier options for glasses. Another possibility to freshen up your specs is to try out contacts.

Let those pearly whites sparkle. As people age, so do their teeth. To turn back the clock on yellow or gray-tinged teeth, invest in professional whitening from the dentist or purchase over-the-counter whitening trays. To avoid continually staining your teeth, it’s a good idea to limit coffee drinking, use a straw when drinking dark beverages and quit smoking. A brighter, whiter smile can take years off your appearance and give you more confidence about your looks.

Following the tips above can help keep your image fresh and improve the way you feel about your looks. Confidence and an up-to-date appearance will help you make a positive impression in the workplace.

Top 3 Benefits of Temp Jobs

When looking for employment, most people don’t want a temporary job; they want a permanent one – or at least one that has the potential to become permanent. However, what many people don’t realize is that most temporary positions offer a chance at permanent employment and much more. According to the American Staffing Association, 90% of all companies use temporary employees.

Below are three additional benefits temporary work offers individuals beyond permanent positions.

Sizing up the company. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve looked for jobs in the past, I worried about impressing the employer. However, often times, after I was hired, neither the job nor the employers impressed me, and I had to figure out how to quit. To be happy in your job, you must not only make a good impression on your employer, but they must make a good impression on you. Working in a temporary job allows you the opportunity to see if you like the company’s culture, the job and the industry before making a commitment.

Building your résumé. If you’re between permanent jobs, working in a temporary position allows you to build and strengthen your résumé while looking for something more permanent. The American Staffing Association reports more than 90% of staffing companies provide training to their temporary workers, and 70% of temporary employees report gaining new skills during their job assignments. If you’re afraid of being known as a job hopper, make sure to show you worked for one temp agency and worked in many different roles. Make sure to list all the skills you obtained during your employment with the agency. Temporary positions allow you to build your résumé through on-the-job training and make you more attractive to potential employers.

Creating flexible work schedules. Maybe you’ve just had a baby, or you’re looking for a new career path. Flexibility is an excellent benefit that temporary jobs offer because it allows you to work part-time when you need to tend to personal obligations or go on job interviews while still making money. If you need some time off for personal matters, or if you just like having the opportunity to travel every few months, temporary positions offered through staffing companies allow you to work when you want. No matter what the reason – having flexible work options allows you to take care of the things that are important to you and still earn a little cash in the process.

Whether you’re searching for a new career path, building your résumé, starting a family or working to support your true passions in life, temporary jobs allow you many benefits and opportunities in the many different stages of your life. Make sure you investigate different temp agencies and the benefits they offer, as some may not offer as much as others. Click here to view the benefits of Express Employment Professionals.

What benefits has temporary employment offered you, or why do you choose to work on temporary assignments?

March Madness and the Workplace

The 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship begins Tuesday, March 18. The tournament brings Cinderella teams, buzzer beaters, rabid fans and, of course, tournament brackets. And workplaces around the country are caught up in March Madness. The ease of organization is what makes the tournament attractive for office pools. Brackets are readily available for download from web sites like and A recent survey by Vault Inc. reports that 57% of employees participate in NCAA basketball pools.

While some argue that filling out brackets can hinder productivity, many employers are viewing office pools as a team building activity for their workers. If it’s well organized, a pool like this can benefit the workplace by providing a regular fun activity and develop camaraderie among team workers. To ensure a pool is well organized, experts suggest the winnings must be divided among players, allowing all workers who wish to play and conduct the pool in person instead of over the phone or through e-mails.

Although the Vault Inc. survey reports that 86% of offices don’t have policies against pool betting, it is wise to check your company’s policy before joining or starting a pool. In some states, unlicensed gambling, like office pools, may be considered criminal activity. If that’s the case where you are, there are many alternatives. Participants can play for gift certificates, sports or movie tickets, or for proceeds to go to charity. By taking out the monetary aspect, non-gambling pools are perfectly legal.