Category Archives: Career

Avoid these “filler” phrases and words @ Work

Source: Fast Company, Jul 2017

“NO PROBLEM”

The speaker implies the possibility that somebody has created an issue that they’re willing to let slide.

“WHATEVER”

Whatever” is often used to dismiss another person’s idea. … “Whatever” denotes resentful resignation, even if it doesn’t sound that way to your own ears. Much the same is true of other tepid notes of assent, like “yeah,” “yup,” “sure,” and “fine.”

“IT IS WHAT IT IS”

Clichés like this make you sound like a lazy thinker. We default unthinkingly to empty expressions when we’re trying to give the impression we have something to say but really don’t, and also when we want to sound as though we’re comfortable with something but might not be.

“PISSED OFF”

“CAN’T”

To be fair, you can’t get away with never saying “can’t”—it’s just too common and useful a contraction—and I’m not suggesting you try. But it is smart to be on you guard for the contexts where you use it.

For example, you might innocently say at a meeting, “I can’t get that report to you until next Monday.” And fine, maybe you really can’t because it just isn’t feasible. But phrasing it like this makes you sound ineffective—like the person who disappoints. Why not flip it around and say what you can do instead? “I’ll have that report to you next Monday.” There—suddenly you’re somebody who delivers, and is helpfully realistic about timelines to boot.

Try to avoid “don’t” in similar situations. Rather than saying, “I don’t know what the solution is,” go with, “Let’s go over what some possible solutions might look like—I could really use some input.” Then you’ll sound bright and collegial.

“HOPE”

Here’s another perfectly innocuous word that can sound defeatist and passive (or even passive aggressive) around the office if you aren’t careful. In some contexts, it can make you sound less than confident.

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Recruiters Use Social Media to Check on Candidates

Source: ChallengerGray.com, Jul 2017

Ninety-six percent of respondents reported that they check LinkedIn before contacting a candidate, while 40 percent check Facebook. Sixteen percent search Twitter, and 14 percent see what appears on a Google search.

Learning from Others

Source: Fast Company, Jun 2017

STALK PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE ONLINE

you should probably follow leaders you’ll never hope to chat with directly, just to keep tabs on what they’re thinking about and sharing. And on the other, you should follow your peers who work in similar jobs or at similar companies. It’s called “benchmarking.” Mentors are typically pretty good at letting you know where you stand relative to the competition—what’s a stretch position for you, what you’re overqualified for, which projects you should try getting assigned.

But you can gather the same sort of intel from social media: What sorts of things are people at the same level as you posting, where, and how often? Who are they following and talking to? Pay attention over time, and you’ll gradually get a sense of your own strengths and weaknesses professionally.

LOOK FOR WAYS TO TAKE ON “STRETCH” WORK

The secret to getting more responsibilities—and eventually positioning yourself for a promotion—isn’t a secret at all: You have to nail everything in your job description and then pick up a few tasks that go beyond it. After all, few mentors can actually set you up with that killer project that’s going to make you shine—usually only your boss can.

STOP GOING TO POINTLESS NETWORKING EVENTS

check out networking opportunities where you’re likely to find these kinds of people:

  • People who currently work in a job you want
  • People who work directly with the people who work in a job you want
  • People who have a unique point of view on an industry you’re trying to advance in

If you can’t make first- or second-degree connections there, or hear something really interesting about your field that might directly change your career strategy, don’t go.

INVITE FOUR PEOPLE TO COFFEE EVERY YEAR

have a strictly informational chat with somebody you admire in your field. What does “informational” mean? That you don’t have any particular endgame or “ask” in mind—you just want to hear more about what they do.

GET IN ON WHAT THE HIGHER-UPS ARE SAYING

when in doubt, keep this line on standby for your next one-on-one with your boss: “Since my day-to-day doesn’t really touch on this, how’s the company doing in general? Anything on the broader business front that I should know about?”

REALIZE ALL THE INFORMAL MENTORS YOU ALREADY HAVE

Anyone who’s ever written a job recommendation for you, championed or praised your work (social media shoutouts count), or even just given you one-off advice that you’ve really valued—for all practical purposes, they’re your mentors. All it takes is for somebody to go out of their way for you once to make it totally fine for you to reach out for their opinion again later. (They can always ignore you or decline, but most probably won’t.)

Coping with Automation (1950’s)

Source:  Politico, May 2017

The Nation termed it an “Automation Depression.” “We are stumbling blindly into the automation era with no concept or plan to reconcile the need of workers for income and the need of business for cost-cutting and worker-displacing innovations,” the magazine said in November 1958. “A part of the current unemployment … is due to the automation component of the capital-goods’ boom which preceded the recession. The boom gave work while it lasted, but the improved machinery requires fewer man-hours per unit of output.” This conundrum, moreover, would outlast present conditions and become even more apparent in an economy that was supposed to accommodate 1 million new job seekers every year. “The problem we shall have to face some time,” the Nation concluded, “is that the working force is expansive, while latter-day industrial technology is contractive of man-hours.”

Decades later, many of the same concerns have resurfaced. The impact of automation on jobs has become one of America’s most pressing economic issues. In industry after industry—food services, retail, transportation—the robots are coming or already have arrived. Most factory floors, once crowded with blue-collar laborers, emptied out long ago because of technology; what once took 1,000 people to manufacture can be cranked out these days by less than 200.

A study by University of Chicago economist Yale Brozen would find that while 13 million jobs had been destroyed during the 1950s, the adoption of new technology was among the ingredients that led to the creation of more than 20 million other positions. “Instead of being alarmed about growing automation, we ought to be cheering it on,” he wrote. “The catastrophe that doom criers constantly threaten us with has retreated into such a dim future that we simply cannot take their pronouncements seriously.”

But Brozen was too blithe. While automation may have added jobs in the aggregate, certain sectors were hit hard, playing havoc with untold numbers of individual lives. Technological upheaval caused both steelmakers and rail companies, for instance, to suffer drops in employment in the late 1950s.

Kurt Vonnegut tapped his to write his first novel, Player Piano, published in 1952. In it, he renders a future society that is run by machines; there is no more need for human labor. Early on in the book, the main character, an engineer named Paul Proteus, is chatting with his secretary, Katharine:

Do you suppose there’ll be a Third Industrial Revolution?”

Paul paused in his office doorway. “A third one? What would that be like?”

“I don’t know exactly. The first and second ones must have been sort of inconceivable at one time.”

“To the people who were going to be replaced by machines, maybe. A third one, eh? In a way, I guess the third one’s been going on for some time, if you mean thinking machines. That would be the third revolution, I guess—machines that devaluate human thinking. Some of the big companies like EPICAC do that all right, in specialized fields.”

“Uh-huh,” said Katharine thoughtfully. She rattled a pencil between her teeth. “First the muscle work, then the routine work, then, maybe, the real brainwork.”

Nor are most job programs geared to help people enhance the essential human qualities—such as empathy and creativity—that they’ll need to work side by side with smart machines.

Starting First Jobs

Source: Fast Company, May 2017

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS TAKES WORK

ASKING QUESTIONS IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS

often the smartest move you can make in a new job is to ask a question. After all, there are only two options when faced with a situation that overwhelms or confuses you, as Huhman points out: “Pretend like you know what you’re doing and hope you don’t mess up—although, chances are you will,” she says, “or ask questions and get clarifications. The second option means admitting your limitations, but it provides you the chance to learn and avoid costly mistakes.”

THE LEARNING ISN’T OVER

“Each company has their own way of doing things, so be prepared to adapt to new processes and ways of working through problems.”

TIMING IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL

“No matter how quickly you complete your tasks, there will be delays that are beyond your control.” The fact that your time—when you’re on the clock—is out of your control can be frustrating, “but understand that all you can do is try your hardest to meet your own deadlines.”

YOU WON’T BE GETTING A “REPORT CARD”

unless you specifically ask, your boss may not be as forthright with feedback as your professors were with your test scores

if you do find an employer who regularly sits down with you to discuss progress, count yourself lucky. It could take months, or even a year, before you receive input or recognition from your boss.”

PROFESSIONALISM IS EVERYTHING

 

 

Asking Questions of Your Interviewer

Source: Fast Company, Apr 2017

  1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE COMPANY?
  2. WHAT WAS THE LAST BIG ACHIEVEMENT YOU CELEBRATED?
  3. WHAT ACTIVITIES DO YOU OFFER EMPLOYEES?
  4. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE LAST YEAR, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
  5. HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS, AND OVER WHAT TIME FRAME?
  6. HOW MUCH TIME DO THE OWNERS/LEADERS/FOUNDERS SPEND IN THE OFFICE?
  7. WHAT DO YOUR TEAM MEMBERS DO FOR LUNCH EVERY DAY?

Looking More Confident During a Presentation

Source: HBR, Apr 2017

 

Gesturing as if you were holding a basketball between your hands is an indicator of confidence and control, as if you almost literally have the facts at your fingertips hands. Steve Jobs frequently used this position in his speeches.

When people are nervous, their hands often flit about and fidget. When they’re confident, they are still. One way to accomplish that is to clasp both hands together in a relaxed pyramid. Many business executives employ this gesture, though beware of overuse or pairing it with domineering or arrogant facial expressions. The idea is to show you’re relaxed, not smug

When you stand in this strong and steady position, with your feet about a shoulder width apart, it signals that you feel in control.

This gesture indicates openness and honesty

The opposite movement can be viewed positively too—as a sign of strength, authority and assertiveness.