Monthly Archives: November 2012

How to Find the Best Place to Work (for you)!

There are many businesses that tout that they have the best work environment, best benefits, best vacation policy and on and on.

So how do you determine the best place for you?

This may sound old fashioned, but get out a piece of paper, a pen and make a list.  Number your page 1-5 and then list the number one thing that is important to you in a company and go from there.

Once you have your priorities, you have direction on what to look for.  You probably already know what industry you want to work for and that information is also key in finding the right company.

There are a plethora of lists online detailing the top places to work, top places to work for balance and family, employee reviews, reviews of salaries and benefits and basically lists for any piece of information you are looking for.

A recent report at glassdoor.com detailed the top 50 companies to work for and you can also sort it by city to find a job near you.  http://www.glassdoor.com/Best-Places-to-Work-LST_KQ0,19.htm

Lists like these are invaluable for the job seeker because you can get firsthand accounts of what it’s really like to work for a particular company.

If you’re looking for a job with a company that won’t be listed on nationwide lists, then go by word of mouth.  One facebook user recently asked on a post if anyone knew anything about working for a local school district.  What it was like to work there?  What the pay was like?  Benefits?  She was surprised when she received a truckload of feedback from her facebook friends.

Because of the feedback, she was able to determine a course for her future and also received offers from people to “put a good word in” for her if she indeed decided to apply for a job at the school district.

Going straight to the source to find out information is definitely not frowned upon.  If you don’t know anyone that works at a particular place of business, ask around.  Find a friend of a friend that works there and ask them about the benefits, the time off, the work environment and what it’s “really” like to work there.

It’s okay to be picky about where you work.  You want to be happy there and the employer wants longevity from their employees.

Dressing Up in a Dressed Down World

Office attire has relaxed over the past couple decades.  Where suits were once the norm, khakis and a button down now suffice.

A relaxed office attire is definitely the norm in many creative and technology business environments where comfort is king and individuality is encouraged.

So what happens if you’re interviewing at one of these companies?  Do you dress up or dress down for the interview?  Do you try to look professional or do you try to look like you fit in with their culture?

Many hiring experts agree that no matter what the job, you should always err on the side of caution and dress up.

This may go against the job culture you’re interviewing for, but it’s always best to portray a professional image if you’re not positive on what to wear.

Unless you’re certain that a conservative appearance won’t hurt your chances for a job, then stick to the following:

1.  Basic Accessories.  Men, leave your gold chains and stud earrings at home and stick to a nice watch instead.  Women, a basic set of earrings and a necklace will be sufficient.  You don’t need to impress the interviewer with your selection of hot pink costume jewelry or bracelets halfway up your arm.

2.  Keep it neat and tidy.  Wear you hair neatly groomed.  Lose the dreds and get a sharp haircut before you interview.  Regardless of what job you’re trying to get, a neat clean appearance will always be a bonus.  And women, keep your makeup conservative.  Lose the zebra striped nails and bright red lipstick and stick to a nice, clean look.

3.  Shoes and Bag.  People often will look at shoes to determine what kind of person they’re dealing with.  Shine up those shoes or purchase new ones before you interview.  You don’t have to go with expensive shoes, just make sure they look good.

Also, watch what you’re carrying around.  Get a nice portfolio or briefcase-type bag for your paperwork and necessities that you bring with you to your interview.  Lose the North Face backpack that has been with you since college – look the part and invest in a nice case.

It has been shown in many studies that how you dress affects how you act.  If you look sharp, clean and focused – that is the image your body language will portray and may just tip the balance in your favor.

Ways to Say Thank You Without Sucking Up

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we thought it would be prudent to list some ways to say “Thank You” without being cheesy or looking like you’re trying to suck up.  This especially comes in handy when you’re thanking a boss or someone higher up in the food chain.

1.  Vent in Private – let’s face it, people can be annoying.  When you work in close proximity to someone, you’re going to get bugged at times.  Maybe it’s the way your boss clips his fingernails while at work, or the bad breath of a co-worker who invades your personal space…both are annoying and would make great fodder for a facebook post or a story among friends.

One word:  refrain.

The best way to show your thanks to someone is to refrain from gossip, back-biting and hurtful comments even when you’re 100% sure it will never get back to them.  If you practice kindness behind people’s backs, it will show up in your face-to-face demeanor with them and you will reap the benefits by having better friendships, working relationships and the respect from your peers and boss.

Plus, you won’t ever have to deal with the awkwardness of having your boss come across a facebook post about him!

2.   Acknowledge Holidays and Special Occasions - one way of expressing gratitude and showing thoughtfulness is on holidays.  You won’t look like you’re sucking up if you purchase a Christmas gift, do something for your boss on Boss’s Day or bring treats  occasionally for other holidays.

One manager had never been recognized on Boss’s Day and never gave much thought to it – it was just another day to him. A new employee had always recognized this day in her previous job and utterly shocked the boss by giving him a package of golf balls and a small treat on Boss’s Day.  It was a small gesture, but that employee was never forgotten.

If a gift is given sincerely and with a little thought, it will make a BIG impression on those special occasions.

3.  Saying Thank You – in a previous post we discussed the importance of saying Thank You.  It is just as important for underlings to use these words as it is for the manager or boss.

Thanking people for the little things does matter.

Thanking for the time off to take care of a sick child, thanking for the bonus, thanking for the couple hours off early last Friday, thanking for the healthcare benefits, thanking for the way they conduct business, thanking for their integrity or example, thanking for the feedback and even thanking for the criticism so you can do your job better – these are all ways to sincerely express your gratitude for your job and for what your boss does for you.

Just make sure that you are really feeling what you thanking someone for or you will come across as insincere and a suck-up…and no one likes a suck-up.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gracias, Merci, Thank You!

No matter what language you use, saying Thank You is a simple, yet powerful way of retaining good employees and keeping morale high in your business (or personal life).

Many employees have cited that they have accepted and stayed in a job that had standard to sub-standard wages because they felt appreciated, they felt validated and they were thanked on a regular basis.

One employee was working in a job she knew was a temporary position.  The hours were extremely long, the job was high-stress and every day was grueling.  To top it off, this employee was expecting and didn’t often feel well.  On paper it didn’t seem worth it for the employee to stay.

In reality, it was one of the most rewarding jobs the employee ever had.

Why?

Because of two words:  thank you.

The employee was thanked.  Often.  And in many different ways.  Lunches out, gift certificates and just simple words of gratitude conveyed that the company couldn’t do it without her, she was valued, she was an integral part of the company and she was appreciated.

It doesn’t take much to make employees feel good.  A few simple words each day, an acknowledgement of an accomplishment or a job well done go far in keeping employees happy and content.

An employee who feels genuinely valued and appreciated would walk across hot coals for their boss and be more patient when the money is tight, the hours are long, or the job is stressful.

Start today – make a list of people you have relationships with and then write something about each person you are grateful for, and then find a way to express this gratitude – a note, some words or even a small gift.

You will find that the more you express gratitude, the easier it is for you to do this on a regular basis and improve your business and your relationships.

A Happy Brain = Positive Business

There have been many studies about how a positive, happy brain will yield amazing results in business, personal relationships and in virtually every facet of your life.

Stories tell of General Stonewall Jackson, a Confederate general, planning a very daring attack during the Civil War.  One of his underlings was quite fearful and had heavy objections and fears because of the plan.  Jackson put his hand on his shoulder and said, “General, never take counsel of your fears.”

Being in business is definitely not for the faint of heart.  Fears of the future, fears of how to accomplish a goal and even fears of how to make payroll are sometimes a part of daily life.  In Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, Peale says that in order to be successful in your business or life, you have to first believe in yourself.

He outlines a few things to build up your self-confidence and have success in life.

1.  Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself succeeding.  Hold this picture tenaciously.  Never permit it to fade.  Your mind will seek to develop this picture.  Never think of yourself as failing; never doubt the reality of the mental image.  This is most dangerous, for the mind always tries to complete what it pictures.  So always picture “success” no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment.

2.  Whenever a negative thought concerning your personal powers comes to mind, deliberately voice a positive thought to cancel it out.

3.  Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.  Depreciate every so-called obstacle.  Minimize them.  Difficulties must be studied and efficiently dealt with to be eliminated, but they must be seen for only what they are.  They must not be inflated by fear thoughts.

4.  Do not be awestruck by other peole and try to copy them.  Nobody can be you as efficiently as YOU can.  Remember also that most peole, despite their confident appearance and demeanor, are often as scared as you are and as doubtful of themselves.

5.  Make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it by 10 percent.  Do not become egotistical, but develop a wholesome self-respect.

Being successful in business means being first successful as an individual and that requires a positive, happy brain.  Read Peale’s book for more insights on how to develop these characteristics in your own life.

4 Steps to How Online Application Systems Work

Job applicants want ease of applying, convenience, and they want it online.  Unless it’s at a job fair or through networking, people are online doing their job searches.  It only makes sense to pair the ability to apply for the job, right alongside the job description.

At www.ninjagig.com, our goal is to make you and your company look good.  We have written the software with small and large businesses in mind.  You get to customize what you want and easily make it your own site.

There are four main steps to online application systems, including:

1.  Your company posts a job opening using very easy to use software; everything is linked to your existing website if desired.

2.  Applicants see your job postings and apply using an easy online application form, with the ability to attach their resume, references, etc.

3.  Your company is notified of each new application received and can immediately begin reviewing to find potential candidates for the job.

4.  Your company makes a decision about the applicants and can easily delete applications and narrow the search down to a select few.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and www.ninjagig.com:

How Many Applications Can I Receive?  

We do not limit the number of applications you can receive from our software.

Whether you receive 1 or 1,000 applications, the price is the same. Even if you only receive one application per month, our software is well worth the price to enable the on-line application process, while giving your company the tools you need to receive, track, and manage all current and previous applications.

Can I Accept Mobile Employment Applications?  

Absolutely. We have enabled our software to make accepting employment applications from a mobile device a piece of cake. Mobile visitors will automatically be re-directed to a mobile-friendly website and still enjoy your fully-functional employment application.

What Website Will I Use?

We let you choose your own domain name and you will use that domain name on your website and other on-line job postings to point applicants in the right direction.

How do I know when a new application has been completed?    

We e-mail you every time an application is received. Then, you just login to view/organize the new application.

Liar, Liar

EXAGGERATING

 STRETCHING THE TRUTH

PADDING THE RESUME 

TELLING LITTLE WHITE LIES

These all have something in common:  they in fact are just lies. 

In a study from the University of Massachusetts, people who never met were put into pairs and instructed to get to know each other over a ten minute period of time.  Each discussion was videotaped and reviewed later by the researcher and the participants themselves.

The results were a little surprising.  In a ten minute period of time, 60 percent of the participants admitted lying at least three times.  Some lied up to a whopping twelve times – more than one lie per minute!

The conclusion was that when we are presenting ourselves to others, we often lie to make the situation go smoother and to make ourselves seem more appealing. 

Job interviews often last around ten minutes and job applicants definitely have more to prove than if they were just having a normal conversation with someone.  So, how do you tell if someone is lying or making up stories to impress you?

There are many clues which can be used as a guide to spot liars.

Body language is one important factor. A person who is lying avoids eye contact, touches their face and nose and smiles using only the immediate muscles around the mouth while the eyes remain alert and watchful.

Watch for verbal clues such as; answering in an unnaturally loud or exuberant manner, denying something instead of just stating it simply, avoiding answering questions directly, giving instead hints or clues and adding unnecessary details in an attempt to make the lie seem authentic.

Understanding the psychology behind why people lie is not difficult, but individual motivations might be hard to pin point. When conducting interviews, perhaps stressing at the beginning that absolute truth is extremely important to you and that you will check details of their resume may cut down on some of the padding and exaggerations.

(Some material above came from www.addictions.net)

The Anatomy of a Handshake

Quite often the beginning of a job interview will start with a greeting and a handshake.  Many body language experts have broken down various handshakes and analyzed possible meanings.  Some may say that body language reading is quite “hokey”, while others put a lot of stock in its meaning.

It has been thought that a firm handshake means a firm mind or personality.  But what about those people from other countries who don’t shake hands firmly because of cultural tradition or custom?

Regardless of your views, breaking down the anatomy of a handshake and paying attention to possible meanings is a fascinating exercise and could bring enlightenment and details to a job interview that would otherwise be overlooked.

The Anatomy of a Handshake

Palm Down Handshake – Usually a firm handshake, the ‘upper   hand’ tends to impose and/or create a dominant impression.

Palm Up Handshake – Usually not a strong handshake, the   lower hand has submitted to the upper hand dominance. How all this ultimately   translates into the subsequent relationship and outcomes can depend on more   significant factors than the handshake.

Handshake Using Both Hands – Whether genuine or not, this handshake   is unduly physical and (often) uncomfortably domineering.

Equal Handshake – a vertical handshake, most handshakes are like this, when   neither person seeks to control or to yield.

Pumping Handshake – A vigorous pumping handshake tends to indicate energy and enthusiasm of the shaker towards the other person, the meeting, situation or project, etc). There is a sense of attempting to transfer energy and enthusiasm, literally, from the vigorous handshaker to the shaken person, hence the behaviour is popular in motivational folk and evangelists, etc.

Weak Handshake – Avoid the common view that a weak handshake is the sign of a weak or submissive person. It is not. Weak handshakes can be due to various aspects of personality, mood, etc. People who use their hands in their profession, for example, musicians, artists, surgeons, etc., can have quite gentle sensitive handshakes. Strong but passive people can have gentle handshakes. Old people can have weak handshakes. A weak handshake might be due to arthritis. Young people unaccustomed to handshaking can have weak handshakes. It’s potentially a very misleading signal.

Firm Handshake – Avoid the common view that a firm handshake is the sign of a strong solid person. It is not. Firm handshakes are a sign of outward confidence, which could mask deceit or a weak bullying nature, or indicate a strong solid person. Strength of a handshake is not by itself an indicator of positive ‘good’ mood or personality, and caution is required in reading this signal. It is widely misinterpreted.

The Arm Clasp with Handshake – When a handshake is accompanied by the left hand clasping the other person’s right arm this indicates a wish to control or a feeling of care, which can be due to arrogance. To many this represents an unwanted invasion of personal space since touching ‘permission’ is for the handshake only.

(Information on handshakes from www.businessballs.com)

The Gut Instinct

Imagine yourself back in high school.  You walk into a new class, sit down and meet the teacher for the first time. How long does it take you to figure out if you will like this teacher, get along with this teacher, or perhaps have the most tortuous semester known to man?

Even at a young age, your gut instinct tells you things, and it tells you lightning fast.  You will literally know in seconds whether someone rubs you the wrong way.

This same principle in a classroom applies to your job applicants.  You may get the most qualified applicant in the world on paper.  You have a great phone interview and think this person could be “the one.”  You have a face to face interview and when you meet them, you get that little twitchy feeling in your gut that tells you to run like the dickens.

Don’t ignore the twitchy feeling.

A hiring manager in a call center was desperate for warm bodies.  It was a busy season and they needed help.  The applications poured in and one man in particular had stellar experience and seemed to fit the bill.  During the face to face interview, the interviewee would not make eye contact and seemed a little nervous and scared.

The hiring manager got the twitchy feeling in her gut, but hired the man any way because he was a well-qualified warm body.

Long story short.  The man worked a few weeks and then repeatedly no-showed.  The manager couldn’t reach him on the phone and couldn’t find him.  A few days later, the man’s picture was in the newspaper, and it turns out, he was part of a major shoplifting ring in the area.

Don’t ignore the twitchy. 

It will protect you and help you every single time in your hiring.