How to Talk to Your Boss (When the Questions Get Tricky)

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Landing a job doesn’t mean your days of navigating difficult questions are over. You should be prepared to handle uncomfortable queries, an especially tricky feat when it’s coming from your boss.

You may face one or more of these awkward questions at some point in your career. Here are ways you can respond to them professionally and keep the relationship with your boss intact.

 

  1. “Are you looking for a new job?”

If you’re putting yourself back on the job market, tell the truth. Chances are that your

boss has a good reason for asking, so a denial will only make you look bad. But don’t overshare. This question isn’t an invitation to air all your complaints about the position or the company. When responding, keep the focus on you and your career.

Keep the answer short and to the point: “I’m interested in exploring positions in a different industry. “I’m thinking about relocating to another city.” “A former colleague contacted me about an exciting opportunity, and I feel I should look into it.” “I’m looking for a position with more flexibility.” “I don’t feel I’m making much progress here.”

Be polite and emphasize that you’re committed to performing your current job to the best of your ability.

  1. “Have you heard the latest about Jamie?”
    Co-workers who spread rumors are difficult enough to deal with, but having a boss who engages in office gossip is a potential landmine. You don’t want to sound disapproving or like a Goody Two-Shoes. Your best option is to offer a noncommittal response, such as, “I really haven’t heard,” and then either change the topic or try to leave the conversation. Maintain an attitude of polite disinterest. Once your boss realizes you’re not a gossiper, he or she will drop the subject.

 

  1. “How would you rate my performance as a manager?”
    This question is particularly tricky because you might not know your boss’s motivation. Has upper management requested that he or she seek feedback from employees, is the person just fishing for compliments, or is he or she genuinely interested in constructive criticism?

To remain on safe ground, lead with positive feedback. Then choose one aspect of the person’s managerial style that could use some work, and make it actionable. For example, “The next time there’s a new project, I’d like a little more guidance so I don’t go in the wrong direction.”
 

  1. “How would you rate your performance during Q1?”
    Balance is key. Outline what you did well, and reference tangible results, such as exceeding goals or meeting tight deadlines. Then discuss a few ways you might do better next time. To show you’re serious about self-improvement, ask your boss for an assessment—and any tips for Q2.

 

  1. “Can you take on this project (that no one else will do)?”
    You may feel pressure to say yes to every request to maintain a good relationship with your boss. While it’s occasionally necessary to “take one for the team,” you need to be honest about how Project X will affect your present workload and whether it’s within the scope of your job description.

If you’re genuinely reluctant to lead this project, tell your manager that you simply don’t have the bandwidth to do it justice and get all of your regular assignments done on time. But also think about what may happen if you agree: If leading Project X will win you points with the boss and prove your leadership skills, it might be worth the extra work to say yes—this time.

Source: careerbuilder.com

How Diversity Officers Change Corporate Culture

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Diversity executive

By 2045, people of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population.

That demographic shift, predicted by the U.S. Census Bureau, is one reason why companies are starting to take workplace diversity, inclusion and equity more seriously.

In corporate America, this has manifested in part through the proliferation of chief diversity officers, who are charged with creating policies and climates supportive of workers from an array of backgrounds.

As of 2012, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies had diversity executives, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s becoming standard across companies,” says Allison Scott, chief research officer at the Kapor Center, which aims to increase diversity in the technology and entrepreneurship sectors. “I think that’s a promising and important sign.”

However, having a chief diversity officer on the payroll is not a panacea, researchers say.

“That all sounds good and well, but in the past there wasn’t as much accountability for it,” says Kisha Jones, assistant professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. “You could get an A for effort for attempting the different practices but not have to show how change happens.”

Still, the presence of a diversity executive in the C-suite is one sign job seekers should look for when assessing whether a company is equipped to hire and retain diverse workers and effectively market to the heterogeneous customer base of the future.

Learn more about what these officers do and other signs to look for when evaluating a company’s commitment to diversity.

Duties and Conditions for Success

The work of diversity officers, also known as equal opportunity professionals, cuts across departmental boundaries. They influence hiring, training and company cultural practices that relate to three “big buckets,” explains Archie Ervin, vice president and chief diversity officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Continue on to US News to read the complete article.

Which Coding Language Should You Learn?

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It’s a great time to learn how to code. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your career and become a developer, leverage a new skill in your current job, or just better understand what the developers on your team are up to, there has never been a better time to get into programming.

There’s been an explosion of coding boot camps and online resources to help you get started. But it’s a double-edged sword: with near-unlimited resources, countless different languages—and a rabbit hole of passionate voices debating which are the easiest to learn, best to help you get a job, and so on—where do you start?

The best way to learn to code is to stop endlessly analyzing what to learn and just start. So, with a giant disclaimer that these aren’t all of the languages you could consider learning to start your coding journey, here are a few languages you can learn.

JavaScript

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Think of the difference between dynamic, automatically updating Gmail account and your old static Hotmail, which needed to be reloaded to see new messages. That fundamental change was thanks to JavaScript. And, as one of the most popular languages out there, it’s still bringing websites to life in new, exciting ways. It has a ton of resources and tools available to help you use it effectively, and it opens you up to a ton of software engineering jobs. It can basically do everything, and if you’re going to be a full stack developer, you simply can’t avoid it.

Ruby

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Ruby was specifically designed by its inventor Yukihiro Matsumoto to make programmers happy, and it’s delivered upon that objective: Ruby is accessible and reads like English, allowing new programmers to focus right away on the fundamental concepts and logic, rather than basic syntax. Even beginners can start building right away. The teachers at the Flatiron School find Ruby to be extremely effective at helping students learn how to think like programmers, break problems down, express themselves technically, abstract ideas, and work together with other programmers. (The Flatiron Co-founder Avi is a little obsessed with it, too.)

Python

Great for: budding data scientists

There’s a massive amount of data out there. Companies that harness it can create better products and understand their businesses better; companies that don’t lose their competitive edge and get left behind. But while at its core, data science may be similar to your high school stats class, with so much data (hundreds of millions of records), your old spreadsheet is the wrong tool for the job. That’s where code comes in. The R language is super specific to statistics, whereas Python is a general-purpose language that happens to have great tooling available to make it a perfect language for data science. It’s actually similar to Ruby in a lot of ways: easy to read, forgiving for beginners, and there’s a passionate community around it, devoted to creating and improving the tooling to make Python even more powerful.

Swift

Great for: mobile developers, developers breaking out of their comfort zone

For beginners hoping to get into mobile app development, now is the perfect time to dive into Swift. It’s new enough that there is a lot of energy and excitement around it. Each year, Apple holds their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where Apple engineers discuss the intricacies of Swift along with all the new and exciting features (don’t be surprised if it inspires you to try implementing all the new concepts into your own apps). But it’s also been around long enough that the early kinks have been worked out, and the open source community has grown significantly. If you’re already a programmer, learning Swift is a way to get out of your comfort zone—the constraints iOS puts on your code forces you to, as Apple would say, “think different.”

Still not sure where to start? That’s OK! There’s really no correct first language to learn. The important thing is to consider what you’re excited to build, what language will help you do that, and then to just start learning!

In the end, this is why schools like Flatiron School doesn’t focus on teaching one specific technology. It wants you to learn how to learn—the only coding skill that will be never become obsolete. You don’t see Fortran or ColdFusion developers anymore. Similarly, you probably won’t be a Ruby or JavaScript developer in 10 years. Eventually, you will need to know more than one language if you want to have an awesome career and build amazing things. If you become skilled at learning languages, you’ll be ready to keep pace with technology as it changes.

Source: This piece was originally published by WeWork, which provides companies with the space, technology, and services they need to success.

Take Your Publishing Career to the Next Level with a Writing Re-TREAT

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Many people want to be authors. They have ideas for a novel, or have dreams of having a best seller, but they are often so caught up in the day-to-day duties and stresses of life that they rarely get time to simply focus on telling their story.

One expert writing coach says the best way to combat that block is to opt for a re-TREAT, which will give you the guidance, time, space, inspiration, and tools to focus on your story and help move your career along. Plus, she has an exclusive manor house retreat coming up May 5-10, 2019 in England. With only six slots, spots are filling quickly.

“You owe it to yourself to have some time to focus on your writing,” explains Annalisa Parent, fiction writing coach, author, and international speaker. “If not now, then when? If you take action now to get serious about finishing your book, just think of where you will be a year from now, five years from now. This is the time to put your dreams first.”

Parent runs workshops and retreats around the world, helping to guide countless writers to start, complete, and sell their novel. The 2019 Writing Gym England Retreat will be held in Devon, England in a historic country manor located on the edge of Exmoor, a national park famous for its beautiful coastline and spectacular views. The retreat will offer writers five days and five nights of relaxing, peaceful, and focused opportunities to tap into their creativity, learn more of their craft, and focus on writing.

The 2019 Writing Gym England Retreat includes:

  • Daily guided writing sessions led by Parent, where participants will engage in a feedback-response process that is based on neuroscience and how the brain learns and creates best. This is geared to help people advance quickly and boost their creative confidence.
  • Afternoon tea and coffee session where people can relax, mingle, and be at peace.
  • Open writing sessions, as well as time to enjoy the garden and views to get inspiration, and an optional group literary tour of Coleridge Way the path poets such as Coleridge, Byron and Shelley walked to get inspiration.
  • Writer’s discussions each evening on publishing topics, plus a one-on-one session with Parent to discuss your manuscript
  • Three home-cooked meals per day that are made from fresh local ingredients. Foods being served include free-range eggs, leg of Exmoor lamb, a full English breakfast, and fruit compote from the manor house garden.
  • An exclusive group with a focused intent, with the retreat being limited to only six participants.

“If you want to be a writer, this is where you need to be,” Linda Butler, a participant at last year’s retreat said of the experience.  “If you’re serious about writing and you’re serious about learning your process and who you are, then find a way to make the sacrifice to get into her programs. They’re some of the best I’ve ever seen,” Janiel Miller, another participant said.

To see first-hand what the retreat is like, go toThe Writing Gym Writer’s Retreat in Devon England. To hear what her attendees had to say from her past England Retreat visit: Date with the Muse. For more information about Annalisa Parent, her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise your Novel Without and Outline, and her coaching services, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com. For more information on how to become a published author, download her free e-book The Six Secrets to go from Struggling Writer to Published Author here: datewiththemuse.com/6secrets.

About Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent has worked with writers all over the world. She offers writing coaching services that have been instrumental in helping writers to go from idea to publishable piece and have the confidence to take their work to the market. Parent focuses on three main areas: Quality, Clarity and Creative Flow, all through a neuroscientific approach. For more information on her services and to set up a chat about publishing, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com.

How to Answer “So, Tell Me About Yourself”

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Job Interview

So, the first question you’re probably going to get in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” This is not an invitation to recite your entire life story or even to go bullet by bullet through your resume.

Instead, it’s probably your first and best chance to pitch the hiring manager on why you’re the right one for the job.

A formula The Editor at The Muse likes is called the Present-Past-Future formula. So, first you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular opportunity.

Below is an example:

If someone asked, “tell me about yourself,” you could say:

“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”

Remember throughout your answer to focus on the experiences and skills that are going to be most relevant for the hiring manager when they’re thinking about this particular position and this company. And ultimately, don’t be afraid to relax a little bit, tell stories and anecdotes—the hiring manager already has your resume, so they also want to know a little more about you.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article and watch the video.

Is a Sustainability Career on Your Green Horizon?

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Woman engineer

In addition to being vital to many people, protecting the environment has become an important goal for many organizations.

A way to achieve this goal is to pursue sustainability, which is using resources to meet present needs without compromising future resources. Although sustainability most often is associated with environmental protection and conservation, it also has social and economic impacts. In fact, many companies adopt sustainability strategies to increase profits, and the environmental aspects become an added bonus.

Sustainability professionals help organizations achieve their goals by ensuring that their business practices are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. Sustainability is a diverse field that includes a wide variety of professionals. Sustainability professionals can be business managers, scientists, or engineers; or they can come from other backgrounds. Although their specific career paths might differ, sustainability professionals promote environmental protection, social responsibility, and profitability.

 

What is sustainability?

The most common definition of sustainability comes from a 1987 United Nations (UN) conference. In a report, the UN defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Alternately, according to a report from the National Association for Environmental Management, sustainability is “a term that describes a company’s strategies for acting as a responsible corporate citizen, ensuring its operations are financially sustainable and minimizing its environmental footprint. Sustainability initiatives may include natural resource reduction, supply chain management, worker safety and health initiatives, stakeholder engagement and external reporting.” External reporting involves reporting information on a company’s environmental and safety record to the general public, or to government agencies.

The environmental aspect of sustainability focuses on the goals of protecting the environment and the conservation of natural resources. To accomplish these goals, sustainability professionals help organizations, such as businesses, government agencies, and non-profits implement policies to manage the resources consumed and the waste generated by an organization. For example, a sustainability professional might suggest that an organization reduce the amount of packaging it uses when it ships its products, and a reduction in packaging could help the company decrease the amount of raw material it consumes and as the environmental cost of shipping products. Less material used in packaging would cut down on materials cost, as well as weight and space taken up during transport. Since the products would take up less space, there would be fewer shipments. Fewer shipments mean less energy used for shipping products, as well as lower emissions. For example, fewer shipments made by trucks would reduce fuel consumption and lower the amount of exhaust emitted into the air.

To fulfill sustainability’s social aspect, sustainability professionals attempt to minimize the negative effects and to promote the positive effects of the organization’s activities on stakeholders. Stakeholders are persons or groups, such as employees, customers, and citizens of surrounding communities, who have an interest in the organization and its activities. Sustainability professionals work to ensure that the workplace is healthy for employees and that the products or services the organization provides are safe for consumers to use. Some sustainability initiatives affect more than one stakeholder. Many companies promote corporate responsibility where they will provide pro bono products and services to the needy, or make attempts to lessen their environmental impact. For example, although many companies are required by law to keep emissions below a certain level, a sustainability professional might help a utility company lower its smokestack emissions to an even lower level than required. This additional reduction would benefit the health of workers and local citizens, as well as provide the company with positive publicity to entice new customers and retain current ones.

Sustainability can affect current and future profitability. Whether they work for private corporations, government agencies, or non-profits, sustainability professionals strive to ensure that the costs of implementing a sustainability program are worth the expected benefits. Because organizations would not knowingly implement sustainability policies that could cause them to become financially unsound, sustainability professionals help a company’s leaders understand the benefits of implementing such techniques, by explaining future cost savings. For example, energy-saving techniques, such as installing motion detectors and changing light bulbs require an upfront investment but result in future savings.

 

Sustainability issues facing companies today

Many organizations are implementing sustainability measures for a variety of reasons. Sustainability allows companies to increase profits, to manage risks, and to engage stakeholders, such as employees, the local community, and shareholders. By pursuing sustainability, many organizations are able to run more efficiently, improve corporate reputations, retain employees, and have a more positive impact on their communities. In addition, there are other benefits to practicing sustainability. These include minimizing the effects of rising costs for energy; complying with increased regulations at the federal, state, and local levels; and pleasing customers who expect organizations to be environmentally and socially responsible.

Prices for oil, natural gas, coal, and other energy sources have been volatile over the past several decades. Most prices have been on an upward trend with significant fluctuations. Experts believe that U.S. energy prices will continue to climb, because of a limited supply of energy sources (due to a wide range of factors) and increased demand from other countries, particularly China.

Increasing costs have led many firms to seek ways to cut back on the amount of energy used in everyday operations. Companies have been finding new ways to do more with less. This includes reducing the amount of energy used for production and other operations, in addition to finding alternative sources of energy. Alternatives include wind, solar, and biofuels (fuels derived from renewable sources, such as corn, grass, or algae).

Federal and state governments have been enacting climate change regulations. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently been granted the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and many states have enacted legislation to limit carbon emissions with the goal of reducing their carbon output. Companies in these states will be under increasing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint (the amount of carbon a company releases into the atmosphere) or face increased regulation and possible fines for their emissions.

Consumers are increasingly paying attention to companies’ environmental records. Consumers base decisions on products or services to purchase at least partially on environmental factors. Companies that have a positive environmental record can appeal to these environmentally sensitive consumers. In addition to consumers, many environmentally conscious businesses and other organizations prefer to work with, or purchase, goods or services from organizations that also are conscious of the environment. Thus, by implementing sustainability measures, companies will be able to appeal to more customers.

Concerns about corporate impact on the environment and local and global communities are being incorporated into strategic business decisions. Sustainability is becoming part of how companies do business in the United States, rather than being viewed as a cost.

 

Who are sustainability professionals?

A job in sustainability encompasses the concept of stewardship—the responsible management of resources. Sustainability professionals seek to improve an organization’s environmental, social, and economic impact. Some have specific titles such as sustainability manager and director of corporate responsibility. Sustainability professionals in other roles may have had experience as industrial managers, logistics (transportation, storage, and distribution) managers, environmental scientists, civil engineers, or recycling coordinators, among others. Many of these workers are dedicated to sustainability, but some may have sustainability responsibilities, in addition to their primary job duties. These workers might implement corporate recycling programs, install equipment to increase efficiency, and monitor processes to ensure their proper function.

There is no set career path for jobs in sustainability—jobs have varying responsibilities across different organizations. For many organizations, sustainability is ingrained in their cultures and is the responsibility of many employees. Thus, these organizations may not have dedicated sustainability staff, but still pursue sustainability.

Many large corporations, some non-profit organizations, and some government agencies employ sustainability professionals. Some organizations do not employ their own sustainability professionals, but still seek advice on sustainability practices. Such organizations frequently hire consultants from sustainability firms to offer specialized skills and services, as well as additional temporary manpower for specific projects.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently does not have data on the number of workers involved in sustainability activities. However, data on employment related to the use of environmentally friendly technologies and practices are available from the Green Technologies and Practices survey. Although many different workers may be involved in carrying out day-to-day sustainability operations, the BLS definition of a green job involved in green technologies and practices is one whose primary duty is related to the use of environmentally friendly production processes. Workers must spend more than half their time involved in researching, developing, maintaining, installing and/or using technologies or practices to lessen the environmental impact of their establishment, or in training other workers in these technologies and practices to be considered in a green job.

 

Management occupations

Sustainability managers come from diverse backgrounds, have different job titles, and perform a broad range of duties. Sustainability managers are responsible for developing and implementing an organization’s sustainability plans and presenting these plans to senior staff. They might also be responsible for ensuring that an organization is in compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations. Many sustainability managers rely on their public relations and communications skills to work with concerned citizens in local communities.

 

Science occupations

Scientists who work in sustainability devise technical solutions for reducing waste and cutting costs. They assist in the development of strategies to increase safety and to reduce the risk of illness and injury for a company’s employees. Some scientists often serve as advisors to sustainability managers and are involved in performing research to minimize a company’s environmental impact. Many sustainability scientists also serve as consultants, working as technical experts at firms that specialize in providing sustainability services to companies that do not have their own sustainability staff, or those who need specialized knowledge to implement sustainability strategies. Many people with a science background move into management positions and become top-level decision makers in the business community. They use their technical knowledge to guide an organization toward more sustainable practices and are frequently promoted to top-level management positions.

Occupations in scientific research and development have become increasingly interdisciplinary, and as a result, it is common for biological scientists, chemists, materials scientists, and engineers to work together as part of a team. Most scientists work in an office or laboratory and also spend some time in manufacturing facilities with engineers and other specialists. Some scientists, such as environmental scientists or conservation scientists spend a large portion of their time working outdoors, studying the natural environment.

If the growth of sustainability continues, more organizations will employ sustainability professionals. The benefits of this growth should be noticeable in many sectors of U.S. industries, from services, such as finance and health care, to manufacturing and construction.

Sustainability professionals have a broad range of education and experience levels, mainly in science, engineering, and business management. Although many of the occupations with sustainability responsibilities require at least a bachelor’s degree, there are opportunities for individuals with a wide variety of work experience and knowledge.

As sustainability becomes more widespread, new opportunities to contribute to the field will arise. A new market focused on sustainability should build job prospects for more future workers.

 

Source: bls.gov/green/sustainability

Professionalism in the Workplace

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Think back to your first job. Was it babysitting your neighbor’s kids? Did you work at the local fast-food restaurant during high school? While you earned money during your stints at those jobs, you likely did not have to interview in formal dress to earn your position.

Now that you are looking for a job you can turn into your career, you’re starting to wonder what’s expected. What is appropriate workplace behavior? What should you do on your first day to make a good impression? What can you do to stand out and rise through the ranks—or at the very least to not attract negative attention?

Everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s natural to be nervous about beginning a serious job. While it’s true the norms and standards for workplaces can vary, some aspects of professionalism are universal. We asked professionals from a variety of industries to share some of their foundational tips for professionalism in any workplace.

8 Tips to Help You Improve Your Professional Manner

Everyone wants to hit the ground running when they start a new job—the following advice will ensure you look and act the part.

1. Dress to impress

While this one may seem obvious, it can be hard knowing what the right dress code is for a new job. Art Gelwicks, executive consultant at The Idea Pump, suggests a good rule of thumb is to dress one “level” better than what’s expected. “Don’t overdress, but remember for the first few months, every impression you make will be a first impression,” Gelwicks says.

And although many companies are beginning to veer away from traditional business attire, it’s always best to ask beforehand to make sure you are up to date on expectations.

Autumn Gray, digital marketing specialist at Goodmanson Construction, recommends asking your hiring manager what the company dress code is before your first day. “You’re already the new kid on the block, so you don’t want to dress above and beyond your coworkers.”

This can be a bit of a fine line to walk. If the dress code is casual, you probably don’t want to come in wearing a suit and tie. However, it’s always better to ask and err on the side of more formal attire your first few days until you get a feel for the office—the worst case is you may get a funny smile or two as your coworkers think back to the outfits they showed up to work in on their first few days.

2. Write things down

Your first day at your new job will likely be a whirl of faces and information. To help you remember information, write things down.

“Always bring a notebook and pen to every meeting with anyone—especially your superiors—no matter how small or quick you think it might be,” says Jennifer Schwarzkopf, founder and creative director of Estelle. “If you don’t take notes, it conveys that you don’t deem the conversation as valuable and are clearly unprepared for the expectations or follow-up.”

Don’t be afraid to ask what your next steps are or what they need from you—having a running list of things to follow up on or do will keep you organized.

3. Watch what you say

There’s nothing wrong with being friends with your coworkers; it can make for a better work environment overall. But always be mindful of what you say during work hours.

Meredith McKamey, owner of The Raw Spa, says the most important part of being professional is knowing when to keep your opinions and thoughts to yourself. That means no complaining about your boss, not gossiping with coworkers at the watercooler, keeping your personal life out of the workplace, and not shouting your political and religious views everywhere.

“It’s easy to choose the right clothes and set an alarm clock. But keeping yourself from saying ‘That’s not fair!’ when your boss gets down on you? That’s going to take some practice,” McKamey says.

4. Proofread your emails

Even if you are writing a casual email to a coworker, it’s important to always double-check your written work. “Writing clear, grammatically correct English and being careful about promptly responding is a rare soft skill that every graduate should learn,” says Gil Gildner, co-founder of Discosloth.

Being professional in your communication is essential. Having an email riddled with typos, slang and emoticons can damage your reputation and discredit you as a professional. Some companies may have more casual communication tools, such as Slack, but it is still important to present yourself as a professional there, as well. Take the time to pause and read over what you’ve written—even the best writers make plenty of errors in their rush to get their thoughts written out.

5. Come up with solutions

It’s only natural that after you settle in to a position, you will encounter different problems. Your first instinct may be to run to your manager and ask, “What do I do?” However, understand that your coworkers and manager are busy. Taking the time to think through problems and come up with solutions will show your critical-thinking skills.

“Offer solutions and not complaints. There’s nothing less professional that being the one that stirs the pot and causes trouble. Be the problem-solver, not the problem maker,” says Gina Folk, of Folk Enterprises.

Even if you’re not sure what the best solution to a problem is, taking the time to compose your thoughts about where you’ve looked for answers and proposing potential options is almost always a better look than immediately asking for help.

6. Be punctual

This may also seem like a given, but be on time for all aspects of the job. Arrive early and stay late if necessary; going that extra mile shows your dedication and gives you the opportunity to meet your coworkers and be involved.

Be on time for meetings, too. “People are busy at work. Showing up late to a meeting expresses disrespect to other’s time and is one of my biggest pet peeves in workplace professionalism,” says Levi Olmstead, Community Manager at G2 Crowd.

7. Be polite

Many of your coworkers at your new job will understand how nerve-wracking beginning a new job can be—they all had a first day, too. However, don’t let your nerves get the best of you and stop you from being friendly and approachable.

“Find a way to remember names and position titles as you go. Shake hands and look people in the eye,” says Lisa Sansom, organizational and leadership development coach at LVS Consulting.

By being polite, receptive, and respectful, you can make a good first impression that will last.

8. Take initiative

The work doesn’t stop once you are hired. Proving yourself worthy of the position from your first day forward can be a way to establish yourself in your company.

Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, suggests coming to meetings prepared. Spend time researching and go to meetings with ideas of your own. In meetings, try to participate, even if it’s to ask questions. Speaking up and showing your interest in the work will help you establish yourself as a hard worker and vital member of the team.

Ask how you can help and find ways to take on additional work when appropriate. But remember to keep it within reason—overloading yourself and failing to meet deadlines doesn’t help or impress anyone.

Author-Anna Heinrich

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Source: rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/college-life/professionalism-in-the-workplace/

Here’s How This Latina Navigated Her Transition From Finance To Tech

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Marlene Arroyo may have started her career in finance, but it was the human aspect of any job that always drew her in. From Dell to her current role as Vice President of People Operations at Liftoff Mobile Inc., a high growth tech company in Silicon Valley, she has made it her career mission to champion employees and embrace how their humanity impacts their jobs.It was knowing what her career mission was at its core that made it possible for her to transition from one career path to the next.

“Philosophically, it became apparent to me that human resources was my calling when, as a finance professional, I’d enjoy spending most of my time dissecting costs associated to SG&A, training, hiring and coaching,” shares Arroyo. “Mechanically, the way I was able to make this transition was by having informational meetings with HR executives, taking evening courses, asking for help and being open about my aspirations to my sponsors. While the art of Human Resources came naturally to me, to differentiate myself, I needed to supercharge the impact I delivered by drawing from my finance experience and ensuring that my strategic recommendation were backed by data.”

Now, she uses her skill-set to help others achieve the kind of growth that she’s constantly challenged herself to work towards.

“My biggest motivation [through this journey] has been my family,” says Arroyo. “I feel incredibly blessed to be the daughter of immigrant parents who instilled in me work ethic and resilience. While my parents still do not completely understand what I do, they know I work hard and they are my biggest fans. Each education milestone and career progression has been theirs as well. Their American Dream lives in me and owning that, keeps me motivated .”

Growing up in the Latinx culture and within her own family unit can explain in part why Arroyo has felt the desire to pay it forward to other generations by way of her career.

Below she shares advice for Latinxs who are searching for advice on how to land their dream job, how to self-care if you’re in the position of constantly pouring into others, and how to make sure you’re learning the most from your current job.

Vivian Nunez: How has your Latinidad influenced your career?

Marlene Arroyo: Passion, humility, honor, perseverance – are all a part of my core values that I hold because of my Latinidad. Knowing that there is a lot more work to be done to help young Latinas see that they, too, can achieve their goals, keeps me in the arena.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Job Reference Misconceptions That Can Damage Your Career

LinkedIn
young business woman on phone

While there are many factors for the job seeker to consider in landing that new job, one stands out as particularly critical—and often overlooked. Your employment references will surely be vetted by prospective employers and can ultimately make-or-break the hiring decision.

Unfortunately, job seekers are too often unaware or misinformed of how job reference vetting really works. Here are 6 false perceptions that explain why countless job seekers go for months, or years, without landing that next job:

Myth No. 1:
Companies cannot say anything negative about a former employee.

Reality:

While countless companies have policies dictating that only title, dates of employment, and salary history can be discussed, their employees—particularly at the management level—frequently violate such policies. Former supervisors are particularly notorious in this regard, e.g. the boss with whom you had philosophical differences, was jealous of you, or perhaps even have harassed you.

Myth No. 2
Most corporations direct reference check requests to their Human Resources (HR) departments, and they are trained to ensure that nothing negative will be said about me.

Reality:

Most Human Resources professionals will indeed follow proper protocol. However, be warned that some will not. When asked whether a former employee is eligible for rehire, some will indicate they are not—and may go on to explain why this is the case. Even if they indicate “not eligible” and offer no further explanation, a potential employee is unlikely to take the risk of hiring you without knowing the reason why a past employer has described you as ineligible for rehire.

Myth No. 3
Assuming HR has nothing negative to say about me, I should be OK with that company, reference-wise.

Reality:

Prospective employers have figured out that former supervisors are much more likely to offer revealing commentary about a company’s former employees. Your supervisor(s) knew you personally and has formed opinions about you, favorable or otherwise. When asked for their opinion, supervisors frequently forget, or are unaware of, company policies that typically instruct them to refer incoming reference inquiries to HR.

Prospective employers will invariably seek this supervisory input. (How many times have you been asked “May we contact your former supervisor?”) For this reason, it is critical that you are aware not only of how HR will respond to reference inquiries about you but also how your former supervisor(s) will respond.

Myth No. 4
I should have my references listed on my resume and distribute them together.

Reality:

You never want to list your references on your resume or indicate “References Provided Upon Request.” You do not want companies that may have little/no interest in hiring you, bothering your references. What’s more, you may be wrongly assuming that the references you list truly “have your back.” Countless job seekers offer up the names of references that ultimately provide lukewarm or unfavorable commentary about them.

Instead, job seekers should cultivate their management references carefully, treating them with respect and updating them periodically as a courtesy. In addition, the candidate should have a list of their references readily available (in the same format/font as their resume) to be given to prospective employers. When offered at the conclusion of an interview—in a highly professional format—it can create a very proactive (and favorable) ending impression.

You should personally check your key references by utilizing a firm like Allison & Taylor, a third-party reference-checking organization that identifies the commentary that previous employers will offer about you to potential new employers. You will want to ensure that your key references will truly offer supportive commentary about you to your potential new employers. You will also want to identify what your previous supervisors/HR representatives will say about you as they will be regarded by employers as more important than the personal references you list.

Myth No. 5:
I took legal action against my former company, and they are now not allowed to say anything.

Reality:

They may have been instructed not be able to say anything definitive, but do not put it past them to make your life difficult. There have been countless instances where a former boss or an HR staffer has said, “Hold on a minute while I get the legal file to see what I am allowed to say about this former employee.” Most employers are uncomfortable hiring someone who has a legal history, probably dashing your job prospects.

Myth No. 6:
Even if I have a negative reference, there is no way for me to prevent them from continuing it.

Reality:

Your first step is to obtain documentation that a reference(s) is indeed problematic by utilizing a professional reference-checking firm to document both the verbal input and the tone of voice being offered by your reference. Once a problem reference has been confirmed, the reference-checking firm can identify an employment attorney well versed in assessing possible legal options. Foremost among these—particularly when the negative input does not constitute a violation of state or Federal law—is a “Cease & Desist” letter. Such letters are typically sent by attorneys to the CEO or senior management of the firm where the negative reference is employed, identifying the negative reference by name and the fact that the reference has been documented as offering negative input about the job seeker. The letter also suggests that if the reference-giver continues to offer such negative input, legal action would be contemplated against the firm.

Allison & Taylor Inc. estimates that approximately 50 percent of all reference checks they conduct reflect some degree of employer negativity. The best way to combat this type of career sabotage is to have written documentation of its existence.

Source: Allison Taylor

 

Top 10 Questions to Ask an Interviewee

LinkedIn
business-woman-doing interview

When it comes to job interviews, preparation is key. But, that sentiment doesn’t just apply to the candidate—it’s equally important for you as the interviewer.

This conversation is your chance to determine whether that applicant is a solid fit the position, your team, and your company in general. However, that information is really only revealed if you pose the right questions.

So, what should you be sure to ask? Here are 10 good interviewing questions to put to work in your next sit-down with a potential employee.

1. What One Skill Makes You the Most Qualified for This Position?

While things like culture fit are important, your focus first and foremost is to find someone who possesses those necessary cut-and-dried qualifications to fill that open position.

That’s why a question like this one is so important. Not only do you get to hear more detail about what that candidate considers to be his core competencies, but it’s also a chance to confirm that he has the appropriate understanding of everything the role entails.

For example, if he touts a skill that’s impressive—but totally irrelevant—that’s a red flag that you’re not on the same page about the major duties of that job.

2. To Date, What Professional Achievement Are You Most Proud of?

Candidates show up to interviews with a goal of impressing you. So, chances are, that applicant is armed and ready with a few major accomplishments up her sleeve.

Whether it’s an award, a certification, or a big project that went exceptionally well, asking the interviewee what in her professional history she’s proudest of will give you a better sense of where her strengths really lie.

Plus, this question offers the chance for her to expand on something she feels good about—which can ease her nerves and help to boost her confidence going into the rest of the interview.

3. Can You Tell Me About a Time When You Overcame a Challenge?

You know that most job seekers absolutely dread these behavioral interview questions. But, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re an effective way for you to gain a better understanding of how that person’s experience translates from paper to the real-world.

This specific question is a popular one, and for good reason. Starting a new job isn’t a walk in the park. And, even after that new employee is established, he’s bound to deal with some roadblocks every now and then—whether it’s a conflict within his team or a project he doesn’t quite know how to get started on.

Getting a grasp on how that person copes with—and, more importantly, tackles—difficult circumstances will help you zero in on the very best fit for that open role.

4. How Would You Describe Your Own Working Style?

While you don’t want to build a completely homogenous team, you do need to make sure that new additions are able to work in a way that doesn’t throw a major wrench into the way things already operate.

For that reason, it’s important that you ask each candidate about her working style. Does she take a really collaborative approach or would she rather work independently? Does she perform well with a lot of direction or is she more of a self starter?

This insight into how each applicant prefers to handle his or her work will be invaluable in determining not only the right match for that job—but for the entire team.

5. What Three Words Would You Use to Describe Your Ideal Work Environment?

In a similar vein, it’s smart to ask what that candidate prefers in terms of atmosphere to ensure you find someone who can not only survive—but thrive—in your existing culture.

Perhaps he states he likes a quieter environment with lots of heads-down work. If your office is extremely fast-paced and high-energy, that could cause some friction. Or, maybe he explains that he prefers a lot of structure and predictability—which there isn’t a lot of in your laid-back startup where everybody wears a lot of hats.

For better or for worse, this question will at least help you determine whether or not that applicant would feel comfortable in the work environment you’ve already fostered.

6. If Hired, What Is the First Thing You Would Tackle in This Position?

This is a great question to ask in a later interview round, when you’re choosing between the final candidates that you’ve narrowed down.

This one is effective for a couple of reasons. First, it’s yet another opportunity to confirm that the interviewee has the right understanding of all that position will be responsible for. Secondly, it gives you the chance to understand her priorities. What does she believe should be at the top of that position’s to-do list?

Last but not least, a question like this one means you can extend beyond the generalities that often come along with interviewing and get some insight into how that candidate would actually perform in that role.

7. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Employer?

Here it is—yet another question that is sure to make every job seeker cringe. Nobody wants to seem like they’re bad-mouthing a previous boss or employer, which makes this one tricky for applicants to answer.

However, posing this question will give you some greater insight into that person’s professional history—as well as help you to identify any red flags (ahem, complaining endlessly about his boss, for example) that might indicate that candidate isn’t the best one for the job.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article

4 on-campus jobs that can set you up for success after graduation

LinkedIn

One of the first things that college students should do when they arrive to campus is lock down an on-campus job. It’s a great way to make some extra money, meet new people and even earn better grades.

But beyond these academic and financial benefits, on-campus jobs can also help students build their resumes before they enter the workforce.

Hafeez Lakhani, founder of college counseling firm Lakhani Coaching tells CNBC Make It that the key to finding the right on-campus job is identifying an opportunity that aligns with your long-term professional goals. “The best jobs, in general, are ones that appeal to our larger sense of ambition,” he says. Though, he admits, “these are not always easy to find.”

The secret is to be creative. This means actively networking with various departments on campus and, when necessary, finding alternative funding sources. “Yes, there are a multitude of library, dining hall and administrative jobs for students to fill,” says Lakhani. “But if a student can be creative — by seeking funding through grants, for instance — there is a huge payoff.”

Here are four of the best on-campus jobs for students hoping get a head-start on their peers:

Lab assistant

Lab assistant positions offer students interested in the sciences unparalleled professional experience, not to mention high wages. PayScale estimates that college laboratory assistants make around $14.62 an hour on average.

But Lakhani says that working as a lab assistant is worth more than just a paycheck. “If I’m interested in medicine, for instance, it would be a great idea for me to land a place, paid or unpaid, in a professor’s lab,” he says.

Working in a lab can expose students to a wide range of scientific processes and teach them the importance of diligence and attention to detail. More importantly, working as a lab assistant can help students network with professors which can lead to research opportunities. Getting research published alongside a widely respected professor is one of the best things that students in sciences can achieve during their academic careers.

Radio DJ

Its not easy to launch a career in music but if you have your mind made up, then you are going to have to work hard. One of the easiest ways for students to get experience in the music industry is to get involved with their college radio station.

Most college stations have opportunities for first year students to work behind the scenes in operational roles with pathways to more front-facing positions like DJing.

The key to excelling in this position is to take advantage of every chance you get. Your first solo show may be at an awkward time or you may be assigned a genre that isn’t your favorite, but by embracing every opportunity that is thrown your way, you can turn an on-campus job at the college radio station into some serious professional preparation.

Newspaper ad sales

Another way to think about what on-campus job is best for you is to think about what types of skills you want to master. If you are interested in fields like sales or marketing, the school newspaper may offer the perfect job for you.

This job often includes reaching out to local businesses to sell ad space and working with operational teams to create and adjust strategy. Working in ad sales for the newspaper can be an amazing opportunity to get your hands dirty and make real sales. It also can give students the chance to oversee team goals and budgets.

Potential employers want to hear concrete examples of when you have performed a function that is part of a role so if you want to work in sales, you are going to need examples of when you have made sales. The newspaper will give you plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Endowment office aid

Depending on what college you go to, your school may have a significant endowment fund. One of the best on-campus jobs that students can land is working for the office that manages this fund.

“If a student is interested in finance, why not apply to the office of the university endowment?” Lakhani suggests.

The trick to landing this job is networking. It’s rare for an endowment office to publicize an opening but just like every other department, this team can still take advantage of help with office work and filing. Even if you aren’t making big decisions, connecting with professionals who oversee large sums of money can give students interested in finance valuable exposure.

Continue on to cnbc.com to read the complete article.