Monthly Archives: May 2011

Is Chronic Disorganization Taking a Toll on Your Productivity?

Do you lose valuable time at work due to disorganization? If so, you’re not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Express Employment Professionals, 51% of respondents said they lose up to nine hours a week due to desk or office clutter.

Now that we are past the recession, businesses are rebuilding their workforces and new work is piling up. With more to do, every minute counts. Let us know how workplace organization, or the lack of it, is impacting you.


Take our survey!


Risky Business: Six Risks You Should Take When it Comes to Your Career


Finding and keeping a job can be two scary and challenging feats. Although there are steps you should take to do both of these, some risk is involved. Implementing some of the following risks to your career should provide some much needed direction and guidance.

1. Negotiate: Negotiating can be a risky situation because it needs to be approached with the correct attitude. Appearing too demanding or confident during a negotiation may leave the wrong impression, while allowing yourself to be pushed around is unsatisfying as well. Approach any negotiation with a calm, confident demeanor, understanding the fact that your request may be denied. However if you take the risk of losing a job offer – or job – to ask for what you want, you might just get it! That being said, if you are happy with where you are in your career, don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiation.

2. Disagree: Office disagreements can be difficult and awkward, but only if you allow them to be. Sharing your differing opinion with your employer and co-workers will establish yourself as an invested employee contributing to your company. Should a time arise when your disagreement is not appreciated, don’t panic. Collect your thoughts, attempt to explain yourself in a clearer manner, and keep your cool. Your office should appreciate your professionalism and voice.

3. Do what you love: Although this isn’t a foreign concept, not every individual applies it to their life. Discover your passion and go after it. You may falter along the way, but pursuing what inspires you is a great risk with an even greater reward.

4. Switch careers: As we mentioned above, loving your job is key. Leaving your current job for one more focused on your passions can give you a renewed sense of purpose and zest for life. Don’t be afraid to make the leap, even if it means taking a pay cut or starting at the bottom, again.

5. Vacation: Society has trained us to think of time away from work as an immediate career-killer. However, taking time for yourself allows you to reassess career goals and objectives, refuel, and come back refreshed. If you work hard while in the office, no one will question your taking a much-needed vacation.

6. Speak up: Volunteering to give presentations in or outside of the office will give you an edge. Countless researchers have found that individuals fear public speaking more than anything else. Although you may not enjoy the experience, being willing to speak publicly when others allow their fear to hinder them will gain you instant recognition in your employer’s eyes.

Although you may still have concerns about the above career risks, doing nothing can be just as damaging to your career and work-life balance. While you don’t need to do all of these things, accomplishing at least one in a timely fashion will give you beneficial insight into your career.

Three Tips for Getting Your Retirement Started off Right


When hearing the word retirement you may think of sandy beaches and hours upon hours of free time. The reality is though, without a decent amount of preparation and organization, retirement is anything but a trip to the beach.

Start now.
Ask any financial guru and they will all tell you the same thing – start saving now. No matter your age, it is never too early to begin planning for retirement. The earlier you save, the longer your money has to grow. Each year’s saving will build upon the prior year’s saving, and slowly but surely you will accumulate wealth. If you don’t have much cash to spare, consider easy ways to cut back on spending and put what money you don’t spend toward retirement.

Take advantage of help.
Some companies have great retirement incentives, like 401 (k) plans. This particular type of plan is typically a salary reduction deferral, which regularly contributes a specified amount of an  employee’s paycheck to their 401(k). This plan is designed specifically for retirement savings and can be a great way to help you start saving early. Although you may think receiving your full salary is more beneficial than filling your 401(k), remember the money you aren’t receiving today will be there when you retire.

Set goals.
The worst retirement plan is no retirement plan at all. Knowing this, set realistic goals about the type of lifestyle you want to have after you retire. Consider every expense you may encounter, including living, travel, and food. According to the Department of Labor, “almost 20 percent of retiree income will be spent on health care,” so be sure to save for emergencies as well as luxuries in your later life.

Although retirement may seem like a distant journey, it is never too late to start preparing for it. Remember, the sooner you begin saving, the longer your money will have to accumulate and the better you will be able to enjoy your new post-career life. 

Three Toxic Workplace Behaviors You Should Avoid


If you think about it, your co-workers really are your second family. They are the people who you see throughout the majority of your day, sharing successes and failures together. You share life celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and office anniversaries. You share about your weekend, your kids, and your life. But, because you share so much, there’s also a risk of sharing negative behaviors and attitudes too. Knowing this, it is important to understand how to approach and live with toxic co-workers.

The Pessimist.
The pessimist co-worker is characterized by his or her ability to consistently anticipate the worst possible outcome in every situation. To be fair, we all have gloomy days where we would rather be somewhere other than work. That being said, the pessimist has more gloomy days than not, bringing the office morale to a dangerous low. The worst thing about a pessimistic attitude is the fact that it is contagious. Recognizing this and avoiding negative conversations with your pessimistic co-worker will be imperative. Keep conversation as positive as possible. For every negative anecdote you hear, share the positive side of thinking. While you may not be able to cure your pessimistic co-worker, a cheerful attitude is contagious too. So it’s definitely worth a try. Plus, it’ll help keep your spirits lifted no matter what.

The Slacker.
We’ve all come in contact with at least one person who tends to procrastinate. Whether they’re putting off returning a phone call or avoiding a major deadline, these slackers don’t just affect their productivity, but yours as well. Typically, when an individual procrastinates, they will look for help during the final countdown of their deadline. To avoid enabling this procrastinator’s tendency, do not offer your services when the clock is ticking and derail your own productivity. For example, if your co-worker approaches you five minutes before your day is over in need of major assistance, simply say you’re unavailable for such a last-minute commitment. Helping your co-workers is a mutually beneficial behavior most of the time, but in this situation you will put an end to the slacker’s bad behavior and point him or her back to the path of productivity. 

The Showboat.
Despite your efforts to create a team atmosphere, a few co-workers may ignore you. Unfortunately in the work world, there will be times when others take full credit for something they only partially contributed to. In this situation, it really is best to say nothing. Continuing to work hard, contributing to the team, and maintaining professional relationships will stand out to your co-workers and employers. In the end, you will gain the greatest achievement of all, the respect and admiration of your peers, and most importantly, your boss. Notice the showboat stealing other people’s thunder too? Come to their aid with helpful words of praise, and they’ll be more likely to point out your achievements too. Besides, recognition is always more valuable when it comes from someone else.

Office relationships are undoubtedly tough. Stressful deadlines, workloads, and co-workers can all contribute to a toxic work environment. However, if you remember to keep your cool and professionalism, you will be able to steer clear of the majority of inner-office drama and toxicity.

New Ways to Grab Your Boss’ Attention


We have all heard similar tips on how to gain and retain our employer’s attention. But standing out from the crowd isn’t easy. Check out these new twists on ways to grab your boss’ focus to give you a little bit of an edge.

Be Different.
At work, everyone wants to fit in. To feel happy and engaged, fitting in is important, but it’s okay to be different too. To grab your boss’ attention, showcase your own personality. So don’t just always go with the general consensus. Share your own ideas too. This will display self-confidence and allow your employer to see your interests, strengths, and abilities. Your transparency will make for better job placement, tasks, and relationships. For example, if you enjoy taking photos during your spare time, your hobby could translate into a way to help your company produce cost-effective yet quality photographs to use in marketing materials. And, you’ll be able to hone your skills and impress your boss.

Give more.
Since so many people have been burnt out from heavy workloads and added stress after the recession, for some it’s all they can do just to survive the week. While giving more may not seem like a new idea, it will be refreshing for your boss to see and help you stand out. Your servant’s heart can also motivate your teammates to give more of their time and effort. Ask for more responsibilities if you feel you have the time and energy to dedicate to them. Showing your boss that you’re willing to help when the going gets tough will only benefit your career and workplace. Another fresh way to stand out is volunteering outside of the office. Devote your time to something that is meaningful to you, and you’ll find that giving back to your community will refresh your mind, body, and soul. If something doesn’t immediately come to mind, search local databases to better match your interests to a cause. Volunteering displays your characteristics by showing your employers you have interests other than your own. It gives you a chance to network and, it allows your employer to see you are truly invested in your community and, thus, planning on staying in the area for a decent amount of time. Your selflessness and investment in your community will be two great selling points for any potential promotions you may be up for.

Have a no excuses policy.
With busy schedules and deadlines, there are valid reasons why tasks don’t always get completed. Your boss is more than likely used to hearing a wide variety of justifications on any given project. Stand out by having a “no excuses” philosophy to your job. If you find a roadblock, find a solution to go around it. If you are having trouble finding a solution, seek advice from seasoned co-workers or even your boss. Never settle for “can’t” until you have exhausted every possible option. Your employer will soon see your work ethic, strengths, and ability and know you are on the path toward great success within the company.

Today’s professional world is competitive, challenging, and even a bit frightening. Being equipped with noteworthy characteristics, both traditional and non-traditional, will help you stand out in the pack and get ahead in your career.

He Said What? Avoiding and Recovering From Office Gossip

Gossip_May2011_web In a work environment, no matter how many employees there are, gossip is most likely going to occur. According to the American Psychological Association gossip can be “undeniably aversive and problematic,” for individuals. Accepting the fact that gossip will happen occasionally, it is important to know how to avoid it and what to do if it happens to you.

Turn the other cheek.
The best advice regarding office gossip is simple – don’t do it. Gossip leads to a multitude of problems, including distractions, hurt feelings, and even damaged relationships. When you hear co-workers discussing another individual’s personal or professional business, avoid joining in. Although you may be tempted to include yourself in the conversation, avoiding it entirely will help you steer clear of any further problems caused by the situation. The golden rule applies perfectly to this scenario – treat others as you would want to be treated. If you don’t appreciate your co-workers gossiping about you, don’t gossip about your co-workers.

Respond graciously.
If the time comes when you hear of others gossiping about you, respond with maturity. Brushing the situation under the rug will most likely lead to unresolved resentment and an uncomfortable workplace. If you choose to address the situation instead, approach the offending co-worker in a private setting and gently explain your thoughts and feelings on the situation. Due to the delicacy of the situation, approach your peer gently to avoid playing the blame game and creating further workplace problems. By addressing your frustrations calmly and maturely, you will help prevent further inappropriate discussions and keep the situation from escalating.

If for some reason your gracious response to the office gossip is not received well, keep calm and find support from those above you. Seek guidance from a manager, supervisor, or the HR Department within the company to find ways to resolve the issue. Just be sure your reinforcement doesn’t turn into someone you can gossip with.

Being the victim of gossip is never fun, especially at work where it involves your professional peers. Knowing the potential hurt it may cause you and your reputation, be sure to avoid it when you can spare your co-workers the same frustrations. In the end, your team members will respect your decision to maintain professional conversation far more than your knowledge of the inner office gossip.

What to do With Your References After You Get the Job

ThankingReferences_May2011_web Now more than ever, having positive references to cite during your job search is invaluable. With job markets becoming more and more competitive, potential employers will look to your contacts as testaments of your work ethic, personality, and ability to perform. However, once you achieve employment, it is important to show your gratitude to those who helped you along the way.

Send a thank-you note.

Although you may be tempted to send a thank-you via e-mail, don’t. Take the old fashion route and send a handwritten thank-you card to those who served as a reference. Spending the extra five minutes to write a note will show your appreciation in a personal and memorable way. Be sure to thank your contact for serving as a reference and assure them you will continue to work hard in order to reaffirm their praise of you. Your new job will keep you busy, but remember to show your gratitude in a prompt manner.

Exceed expectations.

Perhaps the greatest way to repay a reference is to perform well in your new position. This is especially important if your reference used personal or professional connections to help you secure an interview and job. Excelling in your job will not only make you look good, but will also reinforce your reference’s trust in you. Think of your reference as an endorsement on your behalf. In order to keep a positive, professional relationship, it is important to excel in your new position and prove yourself to both your new employer and your reference.

Keep your contacts updated.

Updating your contact on your success and growth is another thoughtful way to include them in your endeavors. Sending information regarding your job development or a recent promotion every now and then will make your reference feel involved and appreciated. This will also help keep you in contact for any future recommendations you may need.

The reality is most of us get our foot in the door based on who we know. Showing gratitude to your contacts is a great way to maintain a professional relationship that will continue to benefit you throughout your career.