Monthly Archives: October 2011

High Powered Foods to Buff up Your Breakfast

Powerbreakfast_oct2011_webFinding time in the morning to cook and eat breakfast can be a difficult task.  When living a busy and stressful work life, you need every minute you can get. Experts show breakfast is the most important meal of the day by relating skipping breakfast with type 2 diabetes. When you wake up, your body hasn’t consumed anything in more than eight hours and what you eat or don’t eat affects your metabolism and overall health.

Skipping breakfast can also lead to a lack of energy at work, which can impact your concentration and productivity. For many, settling for quick and easy items such as donuts, sugary cereals, and pastries on the way to work is normal, but those foods are unhealthy and can give you a short burst of energy with a sugar high that leaves you even more tired than before.

It’s important to have a mix of carbohydrates and proteins to not only give you a boost of energy, but also to help you maintain energy throughout your day. Most people know they need to eat better, but they may be tired of the same old bowl of oatmeal every morning. So here are some tasty breakfast ideas full of energy so your job performance can run on high-octane fuel.

Wonder Yogurt

Low-fat dairy products keep nervous systems going and can also keep you feeling full and satisfied. For extra nutrients, consider adding nuts or dried fruit to your yogurt. This can easily be put into a portable container and taken to work if time is of the essence. A quick way to add some variety and flavor to the healthier, but sometimes tasteless fiber rich bran cereal, is to replacing your milk with about eight ounces of lemon or vanilla yogurt. 

If regular cereal doesn’t sound appealing, consider layering granola or weat germ, fruits and berries, and yogurt into a parfait. There are several varieties and mixes of fruits you can try.

Super Smoothies

If you want to expand on using fruits and other natural ingredients but are constantly on the go, consider taking advantage of the breakfast smoothie. Not only are they sweet and flavorsome, but they’re healthy and give you energy too. Antioxidants and other phytochemicals in fruits can improve brain function and give you the same energy from your office coffee mug of caffeine without the midday crash.

There are several different recipes and combinations of smoothies that utilize common and exotic fruit. You can drink them during your commute or enjoy one at the office without disrupting your fellow co-workers.

Even though sugar from fruits is much healthier than processed sugar used in most pastries, try to avoid sugary smoothies and focus more on protein based smoothies as often as possible.

Whole Grain Heroes

Sometimes you’ll be stuck at a desk or station for a very long time, and you won’t always have access to a snack. Having foods with high protein like nuts and seeds keeps your metabolism under control and will help you stay full while at work because small amounts of fat help maintain energy and keep hunger at bay.

One easy way to make sure you get your whole grains and protein is to bake and prepare breakfast foods ahead of time. Foods like almond-honey bars can last for days and are easy to grab when you are in a hurry.

Just because work occasionally demands more of your time doesn’t mean you should ignore your health. Your well-being and energy can directly affect your job productivity and routine. Enjoying a nutritious breakfast doesn’t have to be time consuming and can help you tackle your busy schedule head on. What have you had for breakfast that keeps you full of energy?

Top Job Search Time Wasters And Tips to Avoid Them: Part 2

Job search time waste 2_Oct2011_webWhile there are many ways to make your job search more effective, there are little things that can slow down the job search too. You may feel like it will be easy to avoid getting distracted since you have a large amount of free time without a full-time job, but the newly found freedom can work against you. Sometimes, you could be slacking off in your search and not even realize it.

In part one of Top Job Search Time Wasters, we reviewed methods on how to avoid stress and the use of the internet to distract you from searching for a job. Here are a few more ways you could be wasting time during your job search and what you can do to avoid them.

Applying Anywhere

Aspiration during your job search is an important quality to have, but you also have to be realistic. Not only do you have to be ready to accept that maybe finding your dream job isn’t possible right after college or during this economy, but also know that being too broad in your job search can end up wasting your time.

If you’re not having much luck finding a job, it can get frustrating and you may resort to blasting your résumé for positions you may not be qualified for. Considering your résumé will more than likely only be seen by an automated keyword scanner that looks for specific words and phrases related to the job description, you’re hindering yourself. There are hundreds of frustrated job seekers doing the same thing, which is causing employers to be more selective of their candidates. The competition is too aggressive.

If you’re thinking about a role that requires a skillset that is different than your own or are wanting to switch careers,  find out what training and education you’ll need to get first before making the switch.

Safety in Solitude

Social networking sites like LinkedIn have made it easier for job seekers to connect with employers all across the world. But, don’t fall into the trap of making the internet your only source of networking and job finding. It’s easy to be a hermit and check job boards, but in-person contact is also important. 

Now is the time to reach out through your friends and family to find potential leads. Most people find a job through someone in their network. According to the New York Department of Labor, 70 – 80% of jobs are found through networking. Last year, we polled our readers they agreed that in-person networking is more efficient.

There are several places, sources, and methods for effective networking. When you meet new contacts in person, you can use social media tools to follow up and grow those connections into solid job leads.

Looking for employment can be difficult and a lot of hard work. Sometimes it’s good to stop working and relax your mind after a long period of searching and networking. But, with stressful times and increasing competition, it can be easy to give your mind a break and rest longer than you should. If you remember to avoid the traps that can keep you distracted, you can keep yourself ahead of the competition with your razor-sharp focus.

Top Job Search Time Wasters And Tips to Avoid Them: Part 1

Job search time waste 1_Oct2011_webLooking for a job can be a full-time job in and of itself. Finding a job in today’s market is more than just posting a résumé and waiting for a call. It’s a combination of old-fashioned résumé sending, online brand building, and networking. There are many rules to remember when looking for a job and it’s important to remember your job search can’t be tackled in just a few hours.    

If you’re unemployed, it can be easy to get distracted by so much that can drag down your productivity and progress during your job search. Here are a few common time wasters job seekers fall into and how you can crawl out. 

Sweating the Small Stuff

The job market still isn’t the strongest and it can be easy to get frustrated when you aren’t finding any leads, but don’t fret over a transferable skill you forgot to highlight in your cover letter or the formatting and framing of your résumé. Worrying doesn’t achieve anything. It isn’t easy, but you can choose not to worry.

Worrying over what you have no control over only hurts your time, energy, and confidence, which you might need if you get called for an interview. Use the energy for something more productive by making sure your next letter or résumé is how you want it or prepare yourself for pointing out your neglected information in your interview.

Social Media Snare 

We are more connected than ever thanks to social media networks like Facebook. At any given time, we can turn on our computer and chat with friends who could be on the other side of the world. Networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are great tools for connecting and networking with individuals who can help you find a job, but it becomes tempting to chat with a friend from high school or answer an instant message from distant family instead of connecting with your local industry expert. Consider taking time out of your day to see your friends and family in person and keep some time on social media sites directly for searching job opportunities to your advantage. Recruiters are checking social sites for candidates, so show your industry that you are looking for and keep posts relevant to your job search.

Email Entrapment

Email can take too much of your time if abused. Checking your email every hour to see if an employer has responded is only slowing you down. The hiring process isn’t as fast as a simple email, and checking your account too often will make it easy for you to read other, less productive emails. Try to check your email about three times a day, once in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the workday. 

Web Surfing Syndrome

The Internet itself can become a major distraction as well. Having access to a source of almost limitless information can make it easy to research the origin of the waffle instead of researching the company you are applying to. Try copying or printing some job descriptions and go to a local coffee shop, library, or book store with no internet and work from there. You’d be surprised at how much you can finish without the temptation of distractions.

Remember these tips and tricks during your daily search or when you are about to start looking for a new job. Keep an eye out for part two where you’ll learn about avoiding time consuming mistakes that slow down your job search.

Prim and Proper: Basic Rules for Workplace Etiquette

Worketiquette_Oct2011_webYou accepted your first job offer after graduating from college and now work in a new world called the cubicle. Or, maybe you have just started a new job and your new employer and co-workers view interaction with each other in their workspace differently than you expected. No matter where you work, there’s always a workplace modus to help employees work better with each other.

Every job, employer, and industry is different in their work culture and what is and isn’t acceptable work behavior. So before assuming anything, check your employer’s policies and practices or ask colleagues about proper manners at work. But, here are a few basic etiquette tips to help you get along with your fellow co-workers.

Respect Your Boundaries

While some offices and cubicles have very open and relaxed borders where people enter and exit freely and openly share their ideas with others from a different area, not all workplaces are that open. Some work environments have boundaries for safety reasons, and you may need proper clearance or protective equipment before entering certain colleagues’ work zones. When in doubt, call and ask to visit their space to discuss something or arrange a meeting time. At a minimum, consider knocking and waiting until invited before barging in.

If a co-worker is busy on the phone, talking to someone else, or operating machinery, come back at a later time unless it’s an emergency. If they aren’t busy but look deep in thought, think twice before interrupting. Once you get to know your co-workers and understand their quirks and work style, it will become easier to tell when it’s good to approach them.

Also, avoid office gossip, even if it’s true. What you say and what you do reflects your professional image. Keep that in mind when conversing with workmates. Respect others’ privacy and your own by restraining from eavesdropping and revealing information too personal for work. If you need to make a personal phone call, make it short or take it outside.

Decorate with Taste

Your workspace is technically your own, but it is still a place of business and you should consider others when decorating it. While a cartoon or joke may be funny to you, it may be offensive to others. If you are old enough for a desk job, then you’re probably old enough to keep movie posters, risqué pop music idols, and toys at home. It’s important to portray a professional image even if you want to make your space more personal. When posting photos of family and loved ones, try to avoid photos of wild parties, use of alcohol, or any potentially offensive activities. If you want to completely redecorate or remodel your work space, come in an hour or two before or stay late after work so you don’t disrupt anybody.

Plants and foliage are good for sound bumpers, but tend to leak water, attract bugs, and drop leaves. Take the time to properly care for your plants. Also, be considerate of co-workers who may have allergies and reactions to different plants and foliage.

Odor Offence

Beware of excessive snacking at your work place. Not only does the sound of chewing and mess of wrappers tend to annoy others, but also the smell could be unappreciated. Others may be allergic to some snacks such as peanuts. Ask your co-workers if they mind you eating at your desk. Avoid strong odors like certain cheeses and fish that tend to linger, even if you eat them in a designated lunch room.

Pay attention to your smells while at work. Basic hygiene is important to remove unflattering body odor, but too much cologne or body sprays can be overbearing as well. Keep body scents to a minimum. You never know who does or doesn’t like your new brand of perfume.  

Different workplaces have different cultures of etiquette. It’s up to you to be mindful of what they are. If you are unsure of what is or isn’t allowed, just remember to be respectful to those around you to guide your actions. What are some office manners at your workplace?

Being Hand-in-Glove With Safety

Glove safety_oct2011_webWhile many workers perform a variety of duties and jobs every day, the thing most have in common is the use of their hands. They are one of the most used and functional tools we have, and since thousands put their hands in dangerous situations for a living, unfortunately, many get injured.

The biggest cause of hand injuries isn’t a specific type of cut or burn, but from a lack of protective gloves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states 70% of workers who suffered hand injuries were not wearing gloves. The remaining 30% were wearing gloves but sustained injuries because the gloves were inadequate, damaged, or wrong for the type of hazard.  

Your hands make almost every job and aspect of your life easier. Imagine trying to tie your shoes, open a bag of chips or cereal, or write without thumbs. Making sure your hands are properly protected should be a top priority when working in potentially hazardous situations. Here are some basic glove safety tips to help you avoid injury.

Not All Gloves Are Created Equal

With so many gloves ranging from cotton, leather, rubber, and Kevlar, it can be very confusing to figure out what kind you will need for the job. It’s important to talk to your manager or supervisor in charge of safety to review proper materials and guidelines for glove usage at your job. If your management is unsure of proper glove usage, there are several resources you should consider looking into.

The International Safety Equipment Association’s glove standard ANSI/ISEA 105-2005 is a document that provides complete numeric-scale guidance for selecting gloves within OSHA guidelines to properly protect workers.

Always consult your employer’s Material Safety Data Sheet or Product Safety Data Sheet to make sure you are aware of any hazardous substances you could come in contact with so you can make an educated decision.

A common misconception when working with electricity is choosing a glove based on color. The voltage protection of a glove isn’t classified by the color of the glove, but by the color of the tag on the arm of the glove.

If the Glove Fits

One of the biggest reasons workers neglect using gloves is discomfort from inadequate size. Kimberly-Clark Professional, a safety equipment provider, surveyed safety professionals at the National Safety Council Congress in 2007 and discovered 87% of respondents observed workers failing to wear protective gloves due to “discomfort.”

Properly fitted gloves are important because they offer greater dexterity when fine finger work is needed, decreased opportunity for snagging on a work surface, and lower chance of skin irritation due to friction. To properly determine the size of your hand, use a ruler to measure the width of your hand in the knuckle area by starting at the index finger.

Double Check

Even if your employer is prepared with all the needed protective equipment, it is still up to you to make sure your gloves are in working condition. If possible, catch air inside your glove by rolling it up and squeeze the inflated glove to test for leaks. 

Check your hands, try to cover or bandage any cuts or abrasions, and wash them thoroughly before putting on gloves to avoid any bacteria or infections from building inside the gloves. Gloves may not be yours and the following shift may have to use them.

Employers should be most concerned about the health and well-being of their employees by paying special attention to finger and hand injury prevention, but real safety begins with those who actually work in the potentially dangerous environments.  If you work in these types of industries, only you can put your company safety policies into practice.

What to do When You’ve Got Big Shoes to Fill

Bigshoestofill_october2011_web Everybody has to start somewhere. No matter what you do in your career, there will always be at least one first day at work. You could have several first days depending on what opportunities you choose. One thing that can make those first days in the workplace difficult is when you find out that the person you replaced was a highly popular company legend.

It’s not always easy filling in the shoes of the company favorite. With so many professionals spending more of their time at work, strong relationships are being built with co-workers and a new employee can sometimes be seen as an intrusion, or an outsider. You’ll need time to develop relationships and become a valued member of the team.

Here are some things to remember and put into practice so you can demonstrate to your peers and managers that you are worthy of the job, no matter who came before you.

Patience is a Virtue.

It can take time to fit in. You won’t be able to shake the “new guy” stigma overnight. Everybody was the new kid on the block at some point in their career. Be patient with your fellow co-workers and their loyalty to the former employee. It would be easy to vent frustrations about the cluttered and backwards filing system the previous favorite left you, but being respectful of the former employee will earn respect from your peers. 

Take the time to ask questions. Ask why things are done the way they were, and request feedback from those around you. With a little hard work and dedication, you can be a valuable asset to your team.

Be Yourself.

The former colleague left a special place in the minds of those at the workplace that only he or she can fill. It’s impossible for you to fit into that role, so don’t even try. This is your opportunity to create your own memories and circle of influence so your team members will remember you for your unique contributions to the company. 

You have your own personality, qualifications, and skill sets, and you need to demonstrate these to your co-workers. Figure out what needs you can meet with your various talents, and develop your own goals and objectives. Write a list of things you can offer that no one else can, then figure out how to focus within your new role.

Ease Into the New.

Changes can be met with resistance and hesitation, especially if they differ from the way they’ve been done before. Consider taking your new ideas one chunk at a time and ease your colleagues into them. Don’t push all of your new and brilliant ideas into practice all at the beginning. That will cause more friction among your team no matter how good the ideas may be.

You can also earn team approval by recognizing other’s ideas. When getting to know your fellow workers, find out what kind of changes they would like to see. Maybe some of them never spoke up because they were getting in the way of the former company legend.

Coming to a new job when your co-workers have a preconceived expectation can be frightening. But, if you just be yourself instead of trying to be someone you’re not, you can become a valuable asset to your company and earn respect from your co-workers based on your own merits.

Have you replaced an office favorite? What have you done to make your own contributions to your job?

Ghastly Tricks to Make the Office Halloween a Treat

Halloweenoffice_oct2011_web Halloween may not be a federal holiday, but it’s still a highly popular and widely celebrated occasion. Americans spend more than $5 billion on Halloween merchandise every year, second only to Christmas in dollars spent, and Halloween celebrations continue to grow in the United States. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, more than one-third of American employers provide some sort of festivity in conjunction with Halloween.

For many, Halloween is what kicks off the holiday season and can greatly boost morale and interaction among co-workers. If you want to join the fun and spirit of this holiday while at the office, here are a few things you can do to make work a little more spooktacular.

Rules and Regulations

Before you turn your workspace into Halloween central, consider checking with your employer’s handbook, supervisors, or HR managers to learn company policies on Halloween celebrations. While there may not be any Halloween-specific guidelines for your company, there may be strict policies on attire and hair color you need to keep in mind when celebrating.

Dress for the Occasion

Be respectful of your managers and colleagues and keep in mind what you should and shouldn’t wear for Halloween. There is plenty of time after work and on weekends to wear your super scary costume, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to don some festive additions while working. Look for ways to put Halloween colors into your work attire. Find fun and easy ways to add a little flavor to your office look for Halloween like wearing an orange and black striped tie or blouse. 

Desk Decor

Decorating your work area can be another great way to show your Halloween spirit. Spread some fake spider webs in a corner of your desk and scatter plastic spiders over it. Place a small Halloween-themed bowl or dish filled with candy next to the web for everyone to enjoy. There are several inexpensive paper Halloween decorations found at retail stores you can tape around your desk. Be mindful of those around you, keep the decorations festive, and shy away from anything too scary or gruesome.

Festive Foods

Many employees love to celebrate, especially when food is involved. There are several treats you can provide your co-workers that are cost effective and can bring you closer to those you work with. Bake a cake, put candy bugs or gummy worms in it, and place it in the office kitchen for everyone to eat. Goody bags full of assorted candies and novelty gifts like fake vampire teeth can also be used as festive Halloween treats. If you or your company is very health conscious, put fresh fruit in a plastic caldron and put it in a high-traffic area.

Despite your opinion of this holiday, respect those who do or don’t want to celebrate Halloween. You could be working with people with an array of different personal preferences, cultures, and beliefs. Starting conflicts over Halloween is missing the point of this occasion.

What interesting or different ideas have you done to celebrate Halloween at work?