Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Shocking Truth Behind Résumés

resumelies_Jan2013_webMost people would agree that it’s still a tough job market out there. According to an article from CNN Money, for every one job opening there are three unemployed Americans, and that doesn’t even include upcoming graduates, the under-employed, and the currently employed individuals who may also be vying for the open positions. With all that competition there can be a lot of stress to impress employers.

That stress seems to be driving some job seekers to misrepresent themselves and their experience. The Economic Times recently published an infographic that highlights the results of a study about lying on resumes. And the findings paint a rather ugly picture. With over 80% of organizations reporting that they’ve caught candidates misrepresenting themselves, this should serve as a wake-up call for every job seeker to take another look at their resume and make sure they are portraying themselves accurately and honestly. You may be tempted to try and hide a work gap or a lack of education, but hiding or exaggerating facts on your resume, application, or during the interview can cost you the job. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it’s never a good idea.

Have you ever felt the need to misrepresent yourself on your resume or in an interview? Tell us what you did and how it worked out for you in the comments section below.

3 Ways to Earn Your Boss’ Trust


BossTrust_June2013_webIn the world of workplace relationships, the one between you and your boss is probably the most influential and important. And like any essential relationship, it’s built on trust. As Robert Whipple, chief executive of Leadergrow Inc., a leadership development firm, told CareerBuilder, “Trust is the most important ingredient for a workplace to function correctly.”

There’s a lot riding on how much your manager can trust you. It can affect your career advancement, yearly reviews, and workload. So, here are three ways to help earn your boss’ trust and strengthen your working relationship.

Go Above and Beyond
Don’t just do exactly what your boss asks and leave it at that. Be a self-starter with a passion for personal and professional growth. Instead of accepting the status quo on your projects or work tasks, see how you can make them better and take them to the next level. Without being asked, take it upon yourself to learn and grow, whether it’s staying up to date on industry trends or learning new software. This shows you can be trusted to be responsible and do what needs to be done.

Ask Smart Questions
If you’re being trained in a new task, ask questions so you can understand the “why” behind it, not just the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how.” Or, if you’re in a meeting and hear an unfamiliar phrase, ask what it means in layman terms. By asking your boss well-thought-out questions, you show you’re paying attention and taking the initiative to understand your job responsibilities better.

Make a Judgment Call
There will come a time when your manager isn’t around and you have to make a decision in their absence. Making the right judgment call will instantly boost your boss’s trust in you, but in order to make the correct choice you have to start preparing yourself for that moment long before it arrives. In order to act and think like your boss would, you must take the time to observe them, learn their character, and focus on how they handle different decisions and situations.

Earning your boss’ trust will not only help you advance in your company and career, but also make work more enjoyable and fulfilling. What other ways have you proven your trustworthiness to your manager? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

What’s Your Meeting Face Saying?

MeetingFace_WebI once worked for a boss who required everyone to put on a “good meeting face” during team meetings. And I’ll admit the first time I heard this, I struggled to wipe a smirk off my own face. But did you know that a significant amount of our communication with others is understood through the non-verbal cues we give – like our facial expressions? In fact according to Psychology Today, when words and non-verbal communication don’t match up, people tend to interrupt the meaning based more on the non-verbal cues we send than what we’re actually saying. So it turns out, my boss’s advice to pay close attention to what my facial expression was right and it’s stuck with me for a long time. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of meeting faces.

The Don’ts: Meeting Faces to Avoid

  • Don’t frown – It may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people unconsciously frown during meetings. Frowning sends the message you don’t approve of something or you’re unhappy. So as the saying goes, don’t forget to turn that frown upside down.
  • Don’t squint– Squinting can be a hard expression to read. When you furrow your brows it can convey a look of shock or confusion.
  • Don’t stare off into space – I struggle with this one. When you’re in a meeting it’s important to be attentive and focused. You don’t want it to look like you’d rather be somewhere else.

The Do’s: Sending the Right Messages

  • Do maintain eye contact – Eye contact is an important part of non-verbal communication so be sure to look up often to let the meeting organizer or speaker know you’re all ears.
  • Do smile – Smiling can help others feel calm and comfortable around you. And for meetings like brainstorming sessions, a calm relaxed environment is exactly what your coworkers need to be effective, productive and innovative.
  • Do remember it’s not just about your facial expressions – Communicating well with others during meetings isn’t just about your meeting face. It’s also about your body language, tone of voice, your attitude and preparation.

So, come to every meeting prepared and ready to engage. Look interested. Focus on the person speaking or the supporting presentation materials. Taking notes is a great way to show interest if you’re the timid type, just be sure to look up from time to time. Nod your head in agreement occasionally to show you’re on the same page.
If you’re concerned your meeting face might need some help ask a co-worker you respect to watch your “meeting face” demeanor, and follow their advice and feedback.
How do you make sure you’re meeting face is sending the right message?
Share your comments below.

Play It Safe to Reduce Bloodborne Pathogen Risks at Work

blood_sharps_June2013_webIf your job includes exposure to blood or other potential infectious materials, awareness of preventive measures and universal precautions are the first step toward safety. Here’s a brief FAQ on bloodborne pathogens (BBP), infectious microorganisms present in blood that cause disease in humans, to help get you up to speed on some of the best precautions.

What are universal precautions?
It’s best to treat all blood and body fluids as if they are infectious. Having the same procedure at all times makes it easier to follow and creates safe habits, so as an employee it’s important to know where these guidelines are in your company and follow them.

Guidelines for universal precautions include:

  • Wearing impervious gloves
  • Wearing gowns, eye protection, and masks as necessary
  • Cleaning areas in contact with body fluids with appropriate cleaning solution, like a 10 to 1 ratio of water and bleach.

What are engineering controls?
Engineering controls are items that isolate or remove BBP from the workplace, such as sharps disposal containers or needleless systems. Prevention is key in limiting exposure to BBP, and using the right equipment can make that easier. Make sure you understand where disposal containers for exposed items are located and what the process is for handling contaminated materials. Use gloves, gowns, eye protection, and masks accordingly and make sure they are of good quality, free of tears, and not expired or worn out.

What are work practice controls?
Having the right equipment or engineering control is great, but the next step is work practices. Work practices are the way you do things to prevent that exposure. This means being aware of and understanding your job duties and procedures in order to conduct yourself in the safest way possible. Consider things like how specimens are handled, how laundry is done, and how cleaning is completed.

For more information on bloodborne pathogens, check out this fact sheet from OSHA.

Have you experienced any innovative practices to prevent the dangers of bloodborne pathogens? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

3 Ways Gamers are Revolutionizing the Work Place

gamers_June2013_webSome people think that video games are simply child’s play but according to a recent AP-AOL Games poll shows, 40% of American adults play video games, and according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reports nearly 70% are between the ages of 18 and 35. So, it is safe to say many Gen Xers and Millennials in the workplace likely spend their off hours in front of a gaming console or computer.

Video games of the 21st century are expansive and intricate, have a broad spectrum of themes and objectives, and have graphics so realistic that it’s almost a direct reflection of reality. Not only is it entertainment but if you look closely playing them can lead to some beneficial traits for the work place. Here are a few skills that can be gained from picking up a controller.

Games often require strategy and teamwork to accomplish objectives or win competitive matches, especially those that pit two teams of six live players against each other. As the other team changes tactics many gamers step up and communicate the change and devise a solution. Or in the instance Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing games (MMORPG) the leader is often established as a leader of a group of players. These individuals direct sometimes more than 150 people to complete quests or battles. Communication, critical thinking, and planning can all be gained from this type of play.

Each leader needs a team that works together effectively. Working together like a well-oiled machine can make or break the outcome of a match or battle. And, since gaming isn’t strictly limited to one region, a player often works with a diverse group of people from other ethnicities and cultures causing them to work through common barriers that global organizations encounter every day. Learning how to play well with others digitally can easily translate to working better with co-workers in the office.

Gamers are innately physically disconnected from those that they play with. They are separated by miles and are limited usually to verbal communication. Despite this assumed constraint gamers actually excel at effectively communicating through a microphone. Being an adept communicator on the phone and interpersonally can be crucial in the advancement of your career.
These are only a few of the learning opportunities offered to gamers. If you’re a gamer and have learned skills that have allowed you to take command of your career, let us know by commenting below.

Going Above and Beyond at Work

GoingAboveandBeyond_June2013_webCareerBuilder recently shared a survey by Harris Interactive that asked “What is the strangest thing your boss has asked you to do?” The responses ranged from asking for money to seeking a surrogate mother to helping with pets. Requests like these can be awkward. But how should you handle a more typical assignment at work that is still beyond your job description? Here are few things to consider when evaluating a new request.

Can You Learn New Skills?
If you’re asked to take on a new task, like pitching in on a project or managing a contract with a new vendor, consider the opportunity to learn a new skill. If you’re not sure it aligns with your role, ask your manager to clarify your relationship to this project. Sometimes, a particular project won’t be in your current job description because it’s a new advancement for the company and it’s not yet on anyone’s responsibility list. However, if you’re worried the project would pull you further away from your critical role, don’t be afraid to share that concern.

Is it Safe?
While companies often have standards and rules in place to keep employees safe, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask what policies and procedures would directly apply to a new project. If you’re asked to do something new, find out what the training process will be and how your work will be reviewed. Showing your concern for getting the job done right should be appreciated. If necessary, check in with your supervisor or HR team to clarify whether the task and the work environment are in line with company standards and procedures.

Are You Qualified?
Ask your manager why he or she believes you are qualified to take on a new project. If it’s a task someone else has handled, ask what their experience and education was before they began the work. If the requested task isn’t part of your job description, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to say you don’t know how to do something or that you don’t understand the task.

To make things easier, now’s a good time to clarify your role prior to additional requests coming up. Get a copy of your job description and review it with your manager. An easy way to approach this is by telling your boss you want to make sure you’re clear on your responsibilities and essential job functions.

While it’s important to stay open to new opportunities at work, make sure they align with your professional goals and expertise to ensure the highest level of success. Do you have a story of when an extra task turned into a great skill building opportunity? Share it in the comments sections below.

Common Workplace Mistakes that Could Stunt Your Career

mistakes_June2013_WebIf you’re looking to advance your career, make sure you aren’t letting simple things stop you from making a good impression.

Dressing Unprofessionally
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” For men and women, professional dress can be an easy thing to let slip. What you may not realize is that for managers and HR professionals, addressing your personal style is often a sticky situation. They’ve probably put off the awkward conversation about it as long as possible. Because leaders don’t want to offend their employees, they may only address the issue when it becomes absolutely necessary, which means the damage to your professional reputation may have already been done.

Your image is often the only impression co-workers and senior leaders outside your department have of you. You don’t want your wrinkly, stained clothing or unkempt hair to be how they think of you instead of your hard work and expertise. Take time to consider what your personal style is saying about you before you have to do damage control.

Being Late  
There is something to be said for being on time. It can make you the “go to” person for certain tasks or opportunities simply because you are known for being punctual. For example, you may get to greet customers arriving for a sales presentation or be a critical asset in covering phone calls. However, if you are the person that thinks it’s okay to show up five minutes after the meeting has started, you could be breaking down trust with your co-workers and managers. If you can’t show up on time regularly, your ability to manage additional projects or take on new responsibilities could be questioned.

Being Unprepared
If you’re asked to attend a meeting or complete a task, realize that you’ve just been given the opportunity to shine. Make sure you ask the right questions to understand the project at hand so you can contribute appropriately and efficiently. If a particular topic requires you to run reports or check inventory supplies, do that prior to the meeting so you can come ready to share and get to work. If you need to get bids or survey customers to complete a project, factor that into your timeline so you’ll be able to meet your deadlines. Your co-workers and leaders are counting on you, so make sure to take time to prepare.

Have you ever been surprised about an observation regarding your work style? Share your experience in the comments section below.