Monthly Archives: September 2012

5 Guidelines for Personal Cell Phone Use

cell phones at workMost of you probably own a cell phone and bring it to work with you so that you’re able to stay in contact with your family and friends, and have it just in case of emergencies. While some workplaces have personal cell phone usage guidelines in place, some may not enforce the rules, and others may not have any rules at all. So, to avoid a major cell phone faux pas at work, here are five guidelines you should follow regardless of your type of job or position.

1) Use it sparingly
The best place to keep your cell phone at work is out of reach, especially if you get distracted easily. You can keep it in your purse, desk drawer, or vehicle, and make your personal calls before or after work, during breaks, and at lunch. Interruptions can reduce productivity for you and your teammates and increase risks of accidents and injuries on the job.

2) Keep it quiet
If you have to have your phone at work, turn the ringer off or use the vibrate mode. The ring of a cell phone can cause mistakes and cause you and your co-workers to lose focus. Turning your cell phone ringer off will limit the distractions that you create for yourself and others.

3) Talk in private
If you have to take a personal call on your cell phone while you’re at work, try to find a place away from your co-workers so you can have your conversation in private without disturbing others. Try using a break room or unoccupied conference room, or step outside. Most people don’t want to hear a conversation between you and your significant other, children, doctor, or bank.

When you’re unable to step away from your work area to take your phone call, keep your voice down. This will keep your conversation private and limit the distractions for others by not drawing attention to yourself.

4) Keep it out of the restroom
Don’t use your cell phone in the restroom as a private or convenient place to make a call. No one wants to hear your conversation while they’re in the bathroom, and chances are, the person on the receiving end of your call doesn’t want to hear flushing toilets or running water.

Respect the privacy of others and keep your cell phone conversations out of the bathroom. End your call before you go into the restroom, offer to return the phone call later, or find a better-suited place for you to make your call.

5) Don’t use your phone during meetings
Using your cell phone during meetings will only distract you from the conversation and make you appear uninterested or disrespectful. If you’re headed off to a meeting, keep your cell phone at your desk and turn it off or use the silent mode. It’s okay to keep your cell phone in your briefcase or purse, but make sure you won’t be tempted to pull it out and use it.

If you’re expecting an important phone call while you’re in a meeting, make sure to notify your co-workers that you’re expecting a call and that you may need to step outside to answer it. Only do this in emergency situations, keep your phone on vibrate, and exit the meeting before you begin your conversation.

Whether we’re at home or work, cell phones give us the capability to keep in touch with family, friends, and co-workers. You can use your cell phone at home however you wish, but while you’re at work, make sure to follow your employer’s guidelines for cell phone use, and be respectful of others even if your employer doesn’t provide rules. Then, practice workplace cell phone etiquette by using these five guidelines to maintain a professional image.

Here’s How You Can Celebrate Update Your Resume Month

National Update Your Resume MonthSeptember is International Update Your Resume Month, which is a great time to put your job search into high gear. Just as students across the country are starting a new school year, job seekers should be taking advantage of this opportunity to inventory what they have learned, along with how they’ve grown in value, and incorporate it into updating their resume.

And even if you aren’t currently job searching, it may be a good time to update your resume. If you’ve had a job for a few years, you probably have learned new skills or have new accomplishments to include on your resume.

To celebrate this occasion and help you with some guidance in updating your resume, here are our top 10 blog posts on resumes. Take a look through these archives and find some inspiration to make your resume stand out.

•    Resume Boot Camp
•    So What’s This Gap in Your Resume?
•    30 Power Words to Power Up Your Resume & Boost Your Job Search
•    Heavyweight Debate: PDF vs. Word Resumes
•    Next at 10: How to Make Your Resume Newsworthy
•    Five Things No Resume Should Ever Say
•    What’s Missing From Your Resume?
•    Give Back and Add Holiday Cheer to Your Resume
•    Five Common Words You Don’t Want On Your Resume
•    Smart Phone Apps for a Smarter Job Search

Do you have any ideas on updating your resume? Let us know in the comments section below.

Diplomacy in the Workplace

There is nothing worse than when three minutes of your day have the impact to create a bad day. But sometimes you get thrown into a situation that catches you off guard or shocks you so much, that the filter in your brain quits working and you spout out the first thing you think of. Rarely does this end well, especially at work where people don’t love you like family or a best friend, and are slower to forgive you.

Here are a few situations where taking a few seconds to breath and think clearly can help you be more diplomatic in the workplace.

When An Action Shocks You
We typically don’t set out to lack diplomacy, but sometimes you are so shocked that you forget to think before you react. Being diplomatic doesn’t mean you don’t address something, it just means that you address it tactfully. A simple format for slowing down and thinking about this is to follow the pro/con/pro approach. This means to start with something positive, address your concern, then end on something positive. Here is an example of pro/con/pro: “I appreciate that you’re here to help (pro), but we can’t be joking around with equipment like that, it’s too big of a risk (con). Now, I know you’re really good at this, so let’s get started (pro).”

When Someone’s Lack of Understanding Frustrates You
When you can’t seem to find clarity in a discussion, instead of stating your opinion again, or explaining something for the third time, take a break from acting like the expert and try a fresh approach. Try offering options to see if you can get clarification, obviously if your solution was the only one, than you wouldn’t be in this situation, so open the discussion up a bit. For example, “We could empty all the boxes and then sort the parts, or we could sort the parts as we empty the boxes, which do you think?” Sometimes, instead of digging in your heels, you need to offer a few options to see what idea is chosen.

When the Topic of Conversation is Inappropriate
It can be hard to refrain from abruptly stopping a conversation you think is inappropriate. As a co-worker, you really aren’t in a position to regulate the actions, conversation, or opinion of others. You are also not in a position to belittle someone or take up a debate at work. But sometimes something sparks and you find yourself in a situation like this. The important thing is to realize it as quick as possible and end it. You can demonstrate discretion with a simple and gentle statement like, “Well I hear your opinion and while this is an interesting conversation I don’t think we agree, which is totally ok.” Then just casually walk away or state what you are doing next, like, “Now I better get down to the mail room” or “I need to get back to my phone.” The important thing here is to make sure your tone is approachable and light, and make sure your body language matches this. You don’t need to feel dragged into a situation just because you took the bait at first, knowing how to walk away gracefully is a talent worth learning.

Do you have a story of when your discretion saved your workplace reputation? Share it here and let others learn the best way out of a sticky situation at work.


3 Resume Elements to Land an Interview

Your resume is a critical part of the job search because it is often the one thing standing between you and an interview. Tailor your resume for each job you apply for, using your skills, experience, and education to show your qualifications for the position. Here are three basic sections to include on any resume.

Skills Summary
Carefully read the job description for the position you’re applying for, and compare the qualifications required for the job to the skills you possess. For each of your skills that match a requirement of the job, list that skill in bullet point format under the skills summary section of your resume. For example, if the position requires typing 50 words per minute and you have that skill, include “Accurately types 50 words per minute.”

If you’ve acquired any skills from participating in activities outside of work, from volunteering for example, include those skills in this section. But make sure they’re relevant and relate to the job or are listed in the job description. For instance, if one of your hobbies is photography, and the job you’re applying for requires that skill, include it in your bulleted list. Creating this list will clearly show employers the skills you’ve acquired from previous employment as well as your interests and how they match the position’s requirements.

This section of a resume gives you the opportunity to show where and how you’ve gained experience. Whether in past jobs, volunteer work, or school, this section enables you to showcase your talents and how you worked to create successful outcomes in real-life situations. Make sure any information you include in this section is relevant and relates to the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a job that states multi-tasking as a requirement, and you previously worked as a customer service representative, you can write “Answered multiple phone-line system, handling 400 calls per day while greeting customers in person.”

If you’ve volunteered in the community and received valuable work experience, and your experiences match the job description, include this information on your resume. For instance, if you supervised a team or coordinated a fundraiser, listing these experiences will demonstrate that you have the ability and expertise to lead a group and orchestrate a project.

List the highest level of education you’ve completed, including the school you attended and type of degree you received, but leave off the date of your graduation. Including the date will clue in employers to how old you are, and can open the door to age discrimination. The year you graduated is irrelevant in the workforce, so it’s not necessary to include it.

If you started a degree program, but didn’t finish it, or are currently enrolled in a program, consider including that information on your resume in addition to the highest degree you’ve received. Depending on how much of the program you’ve completed, and your reasons for not finishing it, it may be beneficial to show employers that you’ve worked toward continuing your education. For example, if you attended college for a few years but were unable to finish due to financial reasons, you want to include your college information along with your high school degree. Your resume may state, “High school diploma – City, State,” and “State University – City, State, completed 2 years of undergraduate coursework.”

Also, if you’ve attended any vocational or technical classes, seminars, or conferences that relate to the job you’re applying for and would help you in your new position, list them in this section to show that you continually work to develop your education and skills.

Take the time to create a well-written resume, and include important, relevant information to help you land an interview. Relate your skills, experiences, and education to the position you’re applying for and your resume will stand out among competitors to potential employers.

Get Employment Health with Career Fitness!

Career Fitness with Skills MastersonAre you at the entry level or are you at the NEXT LEVEL! Be smarter, better, and sharper in your career to help keep your job and get promoted! If you want a skill set that’s ready for anything, you’re going to have to work on not only your talents, but also your knowledge and connections. You’ll need to be a CAREER MASTER!

One of the best ways to master your career goals is to continually improve. How do you do that? Well, working your skills is a lot like working your muscles. Without continual practice, they become weak and flabby. Check out our extreme video where career fitness expert, Skills Masterson, gives you the power to trim your flabby skills into a set of ripped competencies for career success!

Toot Your Own Horn Bigger, Better, and Louder – How to Self-Promote Better

The Art of Self PromotionWhether you’re looking for a job or climbing the corporate ladder, others are going to have to know about your accomplishments and what you can do. Odds are, no one will know how valuable you are unless you speak up and talk about yourself.

For many, self-promotion feels awkward and sounds like bragging. No one wants to hear someone talk endlessly about how awesome they are, but if no one knows about your skills and abilities, you could miss out on several opportunities to work or get promoted. Here are ways you can effectively self-promote without sounding like a loudmouth.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Becoming known doesn’t happen overnight. Self-promotion is about building lasting relationships that develop over time. A reputation isn’t instantaneous, it’s earned. You need to take your time to let your creativity flourish. Despite what people say, your best, most creative work doesn’t come under pressure. You have to establish trust and respect, and you can’t do that quickly or with sloppy work.

Start slowly by placing small, easily achievable goals for self-promotion. Things like going to an industry event, meeting an influencer or industry leader for lunch, or writing a blog or guest column in a publication are great ways to get started. Make sure you track your progress so you can have something to measure as the months go by.

Know When to Hold ‘Em, and Know When to Fold ‘Em
The importance of self-promotion isn’t just in what you say, but it’s also in what you don’t say. You are trying to establish a personal brand,  and now that you have goals established, you have to do what will achieve those goals. If you work construction, you may want to make bold statements about a new type of material that could strengthen bases or a new tool that could speed up production on tile installation. But being vocal about your opinions on internal politics, labor disputes, or gossip doesn’t help you become known for your skills, creative ideas, or accomplishments. Talking about things not pertinent to your area of expertise won’t help you meet your goals.

Know What you Can’t Do
The more general you try to be, the more forgettable you’ll be. That’s why it’s important to specialize when self-promoting. When branding yourself, find one to three specific skills that are your best, develop and work on those skills, and then promote them. When you become an expert in a few areas, you will stand out among your peers and leaders. Most of the time, generalists look weak or lacking in direction while specialists are seen as committed to what they are good at.

When you specialize, you don’t even have to focus on your strongest abilities. Sometimes you will notice a need in your field or company that needs to be met and no one is filling it. That way, you won’t be bragging as much as you’re trying to fill a gap in your industry or with your employer.

Self-promotion can be scary and feel self-centered, but you have to get your name out there if you want leaders and decision makers to remember you when opportunity knocks. What are your strengths? How can you tell others about your accomplishments? Let us know in the comments below.

Drive to Survive With Forklift Safety

Worker practicing forklift safetyYou get to drive a forklift at work. How awesome is that – you’re behind the wheel of a 14,000 pound beast that can lift an average of one to five tons. The warehouse is your highway. But, with such great power comes the potential danger that could possibly injure or kill you or those around you.

There are nearly 100 fatalities and more than 95,000 injuries every year from accidents while operating forklifts. According to the Industrial Truck Association, 90% of all forklifts will be involved in some type of accident during their useful life. With so much power and likely danger at your fingertips, here are some ways you can stay safe while operating forklifts.

Before You Start Your Engines
Being properly trained in operating a forklift should be done before ever climbing into one. It’s illegal for anyone younger than 18 to operate a forklift, and some states require proper training and certification before anyone can operate a lift truck. Make sure you have all of the proper qualifications before handling heavy equipment. If you don’t, get with your supervisor to set up training times.

Your employer should also have a checklist of things to look for before starting a forklift. Things like fuel/battery power levels, tire conditions, control panel testing, etc. should be checked before every shift and logged. If anything isn’t working properly, make sure a manager knows immediately. Also, honk your horn to make sure it works, check to see if safety lights are working, and confirm the backup alert works once you have cleared everything else.

Know Where to Go
You really need to see where you are going. Make sure your path is always clear, dry, and open. Some forklifts can be going 10 mph, which takes about 22 feet to come to a complete stop. That’s why you don’t want to have anybody between the forklift and a hard surface like a table, bench, or wall. The same goes for passing a slower forklift. You don’t know what’s ahead and you might not have the stopping distance to avoid a collision.

If the load blocks your view, drive in reverse unless you’re going up a slope. In that case, have a spotter with you on the side to help guide you. The spotter shouldn’t be in the forklift with you because that extra weight can cause the forklift to tip over, which is the most common forklift accident.

Maneuvering slopes and inclines can be tricky when operating forklifts. If you come to an incline with a load, always travel with the load pointing uphill. But if you don’t have a load, always travel with the forks pointing downhill.

You’ll Take the Slow Road, and I’ll Take the Low Road
Almost every worker faces deadlines and time limits for projects, but that doesn’t mean you can cut corners – literally. Always turn corners slowly and honk your horn so anyone on the other side will know you’re coming. Honking the horn should be done when entering or exiting any area like going from outside to inside or going through any open doorways in order to access a different part of the building. You may be in a rush, but quick corners lead to quick tipovers and serious injuries.

Another way of keeping your forklift from tipping over is to keep your forks as low to the ground as possible when moving. Keeping the weight of your lift toward the bottom will give you a better center of gravity and more stability.

Forklifts can be a very useful and necessary tool to do your job, but remember these safety lessons so that you can keep riding your forklift free of injury and danger.