Friday, May 22, 2015

How NOT to Praise Your Employee’s Work (And What to Say Instead)

Providing negative feedback is one of the hardest parts of any manager’s job. For example, you would need different approaches for a new employee who may benefit from additional training as compared to a seasoned employee who always gets defensive.

Theoretically, giving positive feedback should be much easier. Your employee does something great, you recognize his or her contribution, and everyone feels good about their work.

However, it doesn’t always work out that way. In other words, managers also need to be thoughtful about how they convey positive messages.

What happens when your employees don’t take your praise in stride; when in fact, they seem strangely disheartened? As a manager, it can be confusing, because often we think that positive feedback should be intuitive. It’s good news; what more is there to know?

Actually, just like there are do’s and don’ts for giving negative feedback, there are strategies for giving positive feedback that make your employees feel valued and encouraged. Read on for two common blunders — and what you can do instead.

Head on over to Mashable to keep reading.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

53 Words You Absolutely Don’t Want to Confuse at Work

Last week, I emailed my boss that I was hoping to elicit feedback, and then, I panicked. 
Did I just say that I wanted to prompt feedback (my intention), or did I accidentally use the word that sounds the same, but is spelled differently and would suggest I was hoping for feedback unsuitable for the workplace (very much not my intention)?
You might have recently found yourself in a similar situation, writing an email that contains a word you say all the time, only to later realize that you misspelled it (and now your sentence means something entirely different). 
In order to make sure this never happens again, here are 53 commonly confused words that you definitely want to get right at work.

Ensure vs. Insure
You insure a car or a house. Think: insurance. 
You ensure the company will be a fit for you by doing your research.

Capitol vs. Capital

The Capitol is a building in Washington, DC. Do note its proper noun status.
Capital is money, as in a venture capital firm. It’s also what you’re referring to when you ask someone to stop emailing in ALL CAPS—and the spelling you’d want to use if asked to list all of the state capitals.

Perspective vs. Prospective

You have a unique perspective, or take, on events.
Prospective means potential, as in, the prospective candidates are impressive.

Gauge vs. Gouge

You’ll gauge your client’s reaction to the new slogan (i.e., take his or her temperature).
You’ll gouge out your eyes if you have to stare at your presentation slides much longer. 

Moot vs. Mute vs. Moo

The point is moot, or, in other words, it doesn’t matter. 
The TV is on mute.
And if you think the point is moo, you’ve watched too much Friends.

Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Write a Cover Letter (When You Haven't Written One Since College)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article called “3 Editing Secrets That Will Make Your Cover Letter Even Better.” To which a dear (and succinct, and purposefully overdramatic) friend wrote, “Can’t you just HELP ME WRITE MINE?!?”

Where was she stuck? In her words: “Is it terrible to say I haven’t written [a cover letter] since college and don’t even know where to start anymore?”

No, it’s not terrible. And I think a lot of people—those changing careers, those who landed previous roles through networking and never submitted a formal application, and those who have been in the same job for the better part of a decade—are all in the same boat. Here’s what I recommend:

Friday, May 15, 2015

It’s Not “Nip it in the Butt” (and Other Idioms You Might Be Getting Wrong)

One of my favorite greeting cards has a picture of two women on the front. One woman is asking the other: “Is it ‘butt naked’ or ‘buck naked’?” The inside reads: “These are the kinds of questions I come to you for.”

I doubt you need to know the answer to that question before your next meeting, however people do use common idioms incorrectly all the time.

What’s the big deal? Well, much like it looks bad when someone states incorrect facts and stats, misquoting common phrases undermines your credibility. Read on for some of the worst offenders.

To read more click here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Resume Makeover

My favorite part of most HGTV television shows is the last five minutes. Yes, I appreciate learning the family’s story and seeing the various designers and contractors work on a house, but truly, I watch for the reveal—to see the beautiful, gleaming, renovated home.

Recently, I had a before and after experience, and I have to tell you, it is actually possible to feel totally excited about your resume. But first, let’s work through how this home—err, resume—was built.

I’ve write a lot about what job seekers can do to strengthen their applications (for just a few examples, look here, here, here, and here). I have found that—for the most part—the rules are out there, and candidates want next-level advice to distinguish themselves. In other words, as more people keep their resumes to a page, proofread twice, and ditch their objective statements; resume stacks grow higher and competition—even for that first glance—is fiercer.

So, if you were like me, you’d just keep refining your content more and more—updating it regularly, using better verbs, and adding in numbers—with the knowledge that if the hiring manager actually read it, you would be sure to stand out from the crowd. But it’s that first part, if the hiring manager actually reads it, that can be a little nerve-wracking. If only there were some way for a resume to stand out the moment it was opened.

Well, that’s where my own recent experience with a designer comes into play. To continue the house analogy, my resume already had great bones—all of the content was there. But from far away, it looked like any other resume—black and white and boring. So, when Allison Tatios Elevated Resumes asked if I’d like her to redesign the my resume aesthetically, I was excited to see how it might transform.

To my delight, the process was very collaborative. I emailed Allison the designs I liked most on her site, highlighted elements I wanted to be sure to include (like the QR code), and I was able to provide feedback throughout the process such that the resume was exactly to my liking. From a content perspective, her layout allowed me to fit a “Volunteer Experience” section (which I previously hadn’t had room for) and called out the publications my work had been featured in (another feature previously omitted due to limited space).

As someone who has been responsible for reviewing hundreds of resumes, I can tell you this: I know that, personally, I would have stopped and read any resume designed by Allison even just out of sheer curiosity and interest. And as a job seeker, sometimes that’s just the hook you need. A hiring manager picks your resume up for a closer look because it stands out, and ipso facto, she’s reading your resume (translation: You’ve got your foot in the door!).

In any job search, candidates want to feel confident and put their best foot forward. I already had great content, but Allison’s revamp of how my resume looked has given me additional confidence: I’m actually looking for opportunities to share my new resume! So, if you enjoy a reveal as much as I do, check out my before and after resume below. And, if it inspires you to contact Allison about your resume, mention this article for a special promo code.

Is a Reservation About an Employee a Deal-breaker?

Hiring isn’t easy. An interviewer must consider a candidate’s potential in light of the future of a department and a company (sometimes with little guidance). In the absence of certainty, it’s not uncommon for a hiring manager to pick the applicant who possesses what Lily Zhang of The Muse describes as “sparkle.” It's easier to like a top candidate who doesn't simply excel over the course of the job search process, but who manages to outshine his competition.

But sometimes, when you’re leading a hiring process, you’ll find that an applicant who is strong on paper doesn't “sparkle.” Instead, something feels a little off. Here’s what you should do when you’re uncertain how to proceed.

1. When it’s something the candidate could overcome

A candidate might not stand out simply because he’s not a strong applicant. Interviewing is a skill, and just like there are poor test-takers, there are people who study hard and then freeze up when the big day comes. In other words, his interview performance — while less than ideal — wouldn't bear any correlation to his future job performance.

Head on over to Mashable to read the rest of the article.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What You Can (and Can't) Ask for on Behalf of the New Grad in Your Life

Looking for a job takes effort—and networking and multiple resumes and various drafts of your cover letter—at any stage. But it’s particularly challenging as a recent grad. Everything is new, and everyone makes some embarrassing mistakes and learns through trial by fire.

So, if this experience is (thankfully) in the rearview mirror, and you know a recent grad you really believe in, you might want to share your hard-earned lessons and contacts.

Without a doubt, paying it forward is admirable. The problem arises when you make a totally unreasonable (translation: uncomfortable) ask of your contact—on behalf of a 22-year-old she’s never even met. Too often, people think that asking for a favor for someone else, especially a recent grad, gives them carte blanche. In other words, while you’d never call a friend up out of the blue and ask for a job for yourself, it’s suddenly OK to ask someone to find a way to hire your niece or nephew.

So, before you start asking (a.k.a. scaring) your network, here are a few reminders of what you can—and can’t—ask for on behalf of someone else. They may not say it so many words, but your contacts will be forever grateful—and more inclined to help!—if you follow these rules.

Monday, May 4, 2015

3 Editing Secrets That Will Make Your Cover Letter Even Better

You know that it’s beneficial to have a second set of eyes review your application materials. Someone who can tell you that your resume looks good—except for that part where you misspelled your own name (FYI, you can check that, too!). Or that your writing sample is impressive, but that it would be even better if you used the correct version of “their.”

But sometimes, no one is available. Maybe a contact said he would help but hasn’t replied since, and you don’t want to pester him. Or maybe you’re taking a chance in your letter and you’re afraid feedback from your stuck-in-the-mud roommate will make you lose your nerve and play it safe.

So what should you do? Write your very best letter, and then, before you hit send, try these three tips.

To read more click here.