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?

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?

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 5 Job Mistakes: Don’t Let Them Wreck Your Career!

Everybody makes mistakes – it’s a part of being human. While beating yourself up over the past isn’t helpful, learning from it is. As Winston Churchill once said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”

Have you committed some blunders in your career that you feel are hurting your future? The tips below can help you identify professional flub ups and get you back on track professionally.

Burning Bridges
Have you had a lot of conflict in the past with your co-workers or even your boss? If so, now is the time to work on rebuilding those relationships by showing respect, patience and understanding. To smooth things over, you may also need to apologize to colleagues you’ve quarreled with in the past or at least make a concerted effort to start fresh in the relationship.

Being the Life of Every Party
While there’s nothing wrong with having a reputation for being fun, if you’re always playing the part of office comedian, it could hurt your career because colleagues won’t know when to take your seriously. Strive to show those around you that your work is important to you and that you can be trusted with sensitive issues. Keep your light-hearted side, but just make sure you display it at appropriate times.

Strolling on Easy Street
Without ambition, it’s hard to go anywhere professionally. If you’ve let your skills get rusty or just haven’t been going after top projects, chances are management has taken notice. Focus on displaying your enthusiasm for your job by volunteering for new assignments and keeping your credentials up-to-date.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Office romances can be tempting, but they’re also risky business. If you’ve dated a co-worker in the past or even just done some heavy flirting, it may have affected your colleagues’ opinions of you. To keep interoffice relationships from damaging your reputation, it’s essential to maintain your professionalism. You can do this by treating all co-workers in a polite and business-like manner and carefully weighing the consequences before dating a colleague in the future.

Dropping the Ball on a Big Project
Have you ever worked on an important project where everything went wrong? Although you may not be able to change what happened with the assignment, you can show that you’ve learned from your mistakes. Talk to your boss about your insights on the project and what you’re doing now to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again.

To keep professional mistakes from damaging your career, focus on learning from past errors and improving your performance each day. No one is perfect, so don’t get discouraged when you’ve made a wrong turn. Instead, aim to get back on course as quickly as you can.

What have you learned from your career blunders? Let us know in the comments section below.

What’s Most Important to You in a Job?

People’s priorities change over time. For example, what was most important to you five years ago probably isn’t quite as essential as it once was. The same applies for your professional life. What you want from your work evolves as you change and grow as a person. Have you found that what you’re looking for in a career is different than it once was?

Share your feedback in the comments section, or take our poll.

Flu Hits Workplaces Hard – 5 Tricks for Staying Healthy

Flu At WorkFever, muscle aches and the chills aren’t a recipe for a fun time away from the office. But, if your workplace is like mine, you’ve probably had a lot of co-workers out sick over the last few weeks. On top of feeling miserable, getting sick can cause you to fall behind at work or use up all your time off.

If it seems like more people are under the weather at your workplace than usual, there may be a reason. This year’s flu vaccine is a poor match against the virus, which means the shot provided less protection against getting sick. According to officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every part of the country is experiencing lots of people sick with the flu.

While it’s not possible to eliminate all risks of catching the flu, you can improve your chances of staying healthy by following a few tips.

1. Take a daily vitamin. Studies have shown that vitamin E, as well as other vitamins and antioxidants, can help boost your immune system. Try a multivitamin to get all the nutrients you need to stay well.

2. Get enough sleep. When your body is worn down, you’re less able to fight off infections. Make an extra effort to get about eight hours of sleep each night when the flu is rampant.

3. Wash your hands often. Practicing excellent hygiene is one of the best ways to reduce your chances of catching the flu. Keep instant hand sanitizer handy for times you don’t have easy access to a sink.

4. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Give those who are ill plenty of space. Don’t touch co-workers’ personal items, and never share dishes or eating utensils.

5. Don’t smoke. Smoke paralyzes the cells that protect you from incoming viruses – making smokers much more prone to catching the flu. Even if you don’t kick the habit permanently, consider temporarily quitting or cutting back while trying to ward off illness.

Does Your Company’s Conscience Matter to You?

conpany conscienceHow much does a potential employer’s community involvement or world outreach matter to you? Today’s businesses are active in programs that range from global hunger relief, children’s causes and cancer research to environmentalism, domestic abuse awareness and elderly care.

In the past few years, these kinds of social issues have become more important to a growing number of employees. In fact, research shows that some employees will accept lower pay in order to work for an organization that’s making a difference for the causes they’re concerned with.

What about you – how important is it for your employer to be involved in social causes you care about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, or vote in the poll below.