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Freelance Life Gets (A Little) Less Risky

WSJ Careers - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 10:13
Companies and groups are starting to fill the benefits gap for freelance workers, offering access to disability and other insurance that can make project work a little more secure.

Tats & Views…

Lisa Kaye - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 10:45

So you think everyone has a keen appreciation for the multi-colored art you have displayed on your inner thigh or your forearm? It’s not like anyone would dare say a nasty comment about the word “Mother” tattooed on your hand? When it comes to art what do people know anyway. Judged or be judged? Not when it comes to your interview. Think again Picasso…

You may like what you wear, your piercings or the multitude of graffiti art proudly displayed on your body but chances are not everyone has your same level of appreciation or taste. So when it comes to “dressing” the part, how do you navigate the sterile waters of interview land when you are covered in tats way down to your toes? Knowing your audience no matter what job you are applying for means making sure you don’t give up your individuality for professionalism no matter how artfully you are decked out. When the world of tats and views collide here are a few things to remember.

  1. Do Your Homework: If you are thinking of applying for a position in a company where the culture resembles a laboratory, think about what you should wear to the interview before you show up all covered in ink. No one is asking you to change who you are or what defines you. But knowing that others may or may not have the same level of appreciation for your image might make it hard to break the barrier to entry when all you are trying to do is get a job. Hey, even Cher has to cover the ink for a part in a movie-so think of it as your audition.
  2. Keep It Simple: When in doubt about whom you are meeting or the work environment best advice is to keep it simple. This means save all the jewelry, chains, metal and accouterment for the clubs or your casual look and try to package your wear in something more main stream and toned down. No one wants to cramp your style but less is more when you don’t know who is on the other end of the interview judging you before they even look at your resume or portfolio. Be smart about your choices.
  3. Don’t Take It Personal: Keeping your demeanor as professional as possible during an interview speaks volumes to who you are as an individual and how well you present yourself to someone you just met. Not everyone will like you no matter how well you come across so no point in trying to manipulate the situation to your advantage. Being yourself means honoring who you are and what you stand for. Flaunting yourself no matter how minimal shows a lack of respect for the other person and makes people feel uneasy. Remember, not everyone has your taste level so don’t make someone feel bad because you are picking up a vibe that makes you feel uncomfortable. When in doubt remember it’s not personal it’s business.

You are your own person and you should not change for anyone. Choosing a company culture that embrace that philosophy will help you target a place where you want to work. Making sure you understand that not everyone is looking at you in the same way you see yourself helps you to anticipate how to act during an interview meeting. Becoming self-aware helps you manage first encounters and shows you are insightful. First impressions do count so make the most out of yours by dressing the part and knowing your lines.

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When the Female Customer Perplexes Techie Male CEOs

WSJ Careers - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 18:16
Tech startups are dominated by men, even for companies whose customers, subscribers or users are predominantly female. That can create a problem for male CEOs perhaps best described as an instinct gap.

Gwen Jorgensen: From Accountant to No. 1 Triathlete

WSJ Careers - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:21
Gwen Jorgensen, the world's top-ranked woman triathlete, used to be a full-time accountant. She now represents America's best hope for winning its first Olympic triathlon gold medal.

Six Signs You're About to Be Fired

WSJ Careers - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 07:39
For busy and confident executives, these warnings are easy to miss.

Harsh Light for Restructuring Business

WSJ Careers - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:13
Women often don't have it easy in the restructuring industry, a business marked by demands that don't always square with family life.

Interviewing For Your Job…

Lisa Kaye - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 09:11

It might provide some peace of mind when you think you have it all and that you are nice and comfy in your current job with nothing to worry about. Just because you get a steady paycheck, have been temping in a job for a year or more or are liked by the powers that be, does not guarantee you’ve got the job in the bag. Interviewing for your job means you may have still to audition for the part just when you think the casting call is over.

Having the inside track on a position when you are currently working for the company of your dreams does not always guarantee success. Finding and keeping a job is never a sure thing not when situations out of your control at work change the dynamics of the workplace and you are caught in the middle of a game of hide and seek. You are always on the spot when it comes to keeping your job. Remember there are no guarantees that you are the one they want even if you are busting your butt at work to prove yourself to those that matter most, the decision makers. Situations come and go and people change their minds as it relates to who they want to hire for a particular position.

If you have your sights set on landing and keeping a job, remember there are a few things to keep in mind when you are asked to interview for a job you were sure was yours in the first place:

  1. Assessing the Competition: Who are you competing against? What is it about your skills vs. someone else’s that are better or worse in comparison? Understanding who you are competing against and what the hiring powers are looking for in a candidates will help you position yourself for success when it comes to being considered for a job you thought you already had.
  2. Managing Your Expectations: Everyone wants to be liked and valued in what they do and working and interviewing for a job is no exception. But knowing that there are some things that are out of your control helps you to manage your perception on your candidacy for a position even though you think it’s a slam-dunk and you are the perfect person for the job. Keeping your expectations in check means you are level headed about your situation and will be confident about how you are likely to interview for the job when asked.
  3. It’s Not Personal: As much as it feels like you are entering a beauty contest when it comes to managing your job expectations, learning how to make it less personal and to keep it professional will help you to keep the feedback objective. If you are not sure why you were passed over, it was probably less likely about how you look or spoke and more about the person involved in making the hiring decision. Keep it professional remember it’s not about a popularity contest.

When it comes to wanting to impress someone you work with or who is making a hiring decision that involves you, make sure you are positioning yourself in the best way possible. Surround yourself with allies and people who support your work and are not afraid to speak up on your behalf and you will be one step closer to keeping the job of your dreams in place even though you may not have thought you had to fight for it.

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To Make Yourself More Productive, Simplify

WSJ Careers - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 02:31
Small adjustments in work routine can vastly improve efficiency.

When One Pay Raise a Year Isn't Enough

WSJ Careers - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 13:39
As companies try to retain top employees and hit growth targets, some are ditching the annual salary review and doling out raises and bonuses several times a year.

Ever Thought, 'How Did He Get Promoted?'

WSJ Careers - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 18:02
Those co-workers with an inexplicable ability to rise in the ranks may possess "dark" personality traits.

7 Things NOT To Do In An Interview…

Lisa Kaye - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 13:58

Well you got the call and you are finally set up to meet with a team of people at the company you’ve been dying to work for. Maybe you just lost your job, maybe you quit unexpectedly because you could not take it, or, like some you keep knocking on every door hoping someone will answer. You are not alone. It’s hard to figure out what will and won’t work when you are meeting new people for the first time. Perhaps someone refers you for the job that is high up in the organization like the CEO and the position you are applying for is an entry level one-how do you position yourself? Or, you could have a friend or relative in the company that put in a good word for you, how much do you leverage your connections for the right opportunity? When it comes to meeting people for the first time on an interview, how much is too much information and what can help or hurt you land the job?

When it comes to making a good impression though, here are a few things to consider when you finally do get your interview and want to really impress the hiring team:

  1. “I’m sure I can figure it out?” When it comes to describing what your skill level is and what systems or processes you are familiar with it’s best to be honest and not try to impress someone for the sake of it. Your skills are one of many professional attributes you possess that are important to a hiring manager. Understanding and presenting yourself accurately is key when asked about skills you may not have. Telling a hiring manager you can figure it out does not leave anyone with a sense of confidence that you can master the skills for the job. Shoot straight and tell it like it is when it comes to describing what you know.
  2. “It’ not personal”: So you maybe lucky enough to know the right people but flaunting your relationship with a senior member of the company is not the way to impress the hiring team. Remember, these folks likely report to or work for the top gun. Your relationship whether real or imagined may threaten folks you are meeting with. Describing your relationship with the person who may have referred you for the job as “personal” rather than “professional” send out all the wrong signals and puts everyone who meets you in an uneasy position. Keep your personal and professional boundaries apart and be clear you are not there to forge a personal connection you are there because you want the job.
  3. “Wink & rub”: Responding to a question or comment posed by the interviewer with a “wink and rub” of the hand is not an appropriate gesture if you want to be taken seriously in an interview. You may have some good skills, but knowing how to present yourself in a professional manner will help you land the job you want and not offend the people you may work with. Touching, winking or giggling should be saved for a date and not an interview.
  4. “Sending gifts,” You may think it’s a courteous gesture to thank someone for interviewing you. No one likes it when you send chocolates, flowers or balloons to the interview team and thank them for interviewing you for the job. Bottom line, it’s viewed as “bribery” no matter how insignificant the size of the gift. Sending a follow up email, note or letter is a much more appropriate response to saying “thank you” than a Starbucks’ gift card.
  5. Trying too hard: Answering every response with “I can do that” is not a way to reassure a hiring manager that you know what you are talking about. You may be eager to please but being too eager is a sign of desperation and not of someone who wants to pitch in and be a team member. Being direct about what you can and can’t do on an interview gains you far more points that trying to be a pleaser.
  6. Doesn’t be a groupie: Everyone wants to interview someone who is interested in the company and the people who work there. But don’t feel the need to recite the entire employee directory for the company. You will likely come off as a stalker or a groupie rather than someone who is in the know and has done your homework. Underplay your relationships and talk about the company and its products and services if you want to impress someone with your knowledge rather than recite the employee listing.
  7. Chewing, biting & crunching: The only thing that should come out of your mouth on an interview is your words and not what you are eating. Chewing gum (no matter how delicately you chew), biting your lips or crunching on candy are all distractions to the interviewer and are really not appropriate during an interview. If you are thirsty ask for water don’t consume a small meal.
  8. “The color of Halle Berry’s skin please” And when someone DOES offer you a drink whether it is water or coffee (best to ask for water it’s less complicated) don’t be cute enough to describe how you like your coffee as the skin color preference of a major celebrity. It might be cute in a coffee shop, but it certainly doesn’t win you over with a recruiter whose probably got ten more candidates lined up after you and has to try to figure out the complexion of Halle Berry’s skin tone! Not cute or cool under any circumstance.

Remember, first impressions count and you do only have one shot to make it stick. Make sure you don’t say or do anything that will make you appear less than qualified for a job you really want. You are what you say and what you do in an interview so make sure the lasting impression you leave is not something they will talk or tweet about once you leave. If you want a call back, act like a star not a starlet!

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Employer Spends 13 Years to Close Gender Gap in Pay

WSJ Careers - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 08:53
McGill University spent 13 years and $19 million to ensure gender pay equity among its employees. U.S. employers could soon face similarly sticky pay issues.

10 Overused Resume Terms

Lisa Kaye - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 01:17

Making it to the interview stage may seem like a long, endless journey with you not knowing how it will end up. You may get a job offer, you may be passed over for the job or you may just feel like it’s not the right match. It might feel great when you get the call and they want to set you up for an interview but do you ask yourself how you even got that far? It may have been through an introduction or it may just have been the compelling words on your resume whatever the reason knowing what terms or phrases to avoid on your resume might help you get one step closer to landing the perfect job.

What does your resume really say about you?   If you ever wondered what works and what does not work when it comes to impressing someone you don’t even know here are a few “overused” words and phrases that you might consider eliminating from your resume if you want even a fighting chance at nailing the next job interview:

  1. Thought Leader: When it comes to describing your leadership qualities and those you may admire in others, using this phrase to highlight your ability to be both thoughtful and a leader in one phrase seems over reaching and not a great way to explain how you truly think, feel and lead.
  2. Thinking Outside The Box: Depending on whose box you are thinking “in” or “out” of may not be to your advantage when you are trying to explain how “creative” a thinker you really are. Best to think of another way that bests describe your ability to be innovative by citing a few key business examples rather than overusing a phrase that really isn’t very original to begin with.
  3. Strategic Thinker: Much like being a thought leader being strategic is not something you need to think too much about if you are truly “strategic”. Showing someone how strategic you are is always about highlighting your professional results and not merely declaring you are able to think or act strategically. You need to prove it in order to convince someone else that you are strategic.
  4. Results Oriented: Your orientation towards results is a given if you are good at what you do. Stating that fact is one thing but highlighting your accomplishments and the way your results increased profitability for the company is another. Show me the money and we’ll show you results.
  5. Highly Motivated: You may be motivated by your work and your ambition to succeed but telling someone you don’t know in your resume about your motivations is not necessarily going to win you any extra points. Let’s put it this way, one would hope you are motivated, no need to pronounce it as some professional revelation.
  6. Change Agent: Not everyone likes change. Change for change sake is not necessarily something you need to brag about. Being an agent of change implies you can make things happen. Just be careful that your agent status does not make you seem like you are a security breach or a career operative.
  7. Dynamic: Being a dynamo is great when you are setting up a dating profile but describing yourself that way in a work situation is not necessarily the way to get the support of others. Describing yourself as “dynamic” is great if you are trying out for a professional soccer league.
  8. Bottom Line: When describing your skills like a balance sheet be careful not to make yourself appear to be so goal oriented that you miss the big picture. Being able to relate to the people in your professional circle the way you can manage your departmental budget takes more skill than being a bottom line bouncer.
  9. Best in Class: This might work for entry into a “dog show” competition but not when you are trying to explain how great you are as it relates to your professional skills. Save the “best in” for a beauty contest and not your resume.
  10. Team Player: This phrase may have meaning when watching the World Cup but when you talk about how well you play with others in the workplace, it’s not necessary to let everyone know you can and will play nicely with other employees if your job depended on it.

Making sure you represent yourself in person as well as you do on your resume should not be considered an art form, but should take more than just common sense when you make an effort to stand out.

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With Offices, Companies Are Thinking Outside the Cubicle

WSJ Careers - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 15:33
More companies in New York City are experimenting with variations on unassigned seating.

Essential Financial Steps for Young Workers

WSJ Careers - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 06:00
Within your first five years on the job, make sure you do these six things.

Arizona State in Thunderbird Talks

WSJ Careers - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 18:24
Arizona State University is in talks to take over the Thunderbird School of Global Management, in a deal that would keep the financially fragile Glendale, Ariz., business school alive, but in a radically different capacity.

Hiring Process Just Got Dicier

WSJ Careers - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 06:29
The Supreme Court's decision to allow some employers to opt out of covering contraception on religious grounds may provide legal cover for companies. But discussing religious beliefs can be a legal minefield.

Gender Bias Alleged at UCLA's Anderson

WSJ Careers - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 02:34
UCLA's Anderson Graduate School of Management, one of the nation's top-ranked business schools, is "inhospitable to women faculty," according to an internal academic review.

How Elite B-Schools Pump Up Applicant Pools

WSJ Careers - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 02:33
Applications are rising at many elite U.S. business schools, but the increase may be more of a triumph of marketing than a growing appetite for business degrees.

Chinese Workers' Hopes Rise With Auto Sales

WSJ Careers - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 10:11
Ford, GM and other foreign car makers in China find it harder to attract and keep engineering talent, as more Chinese car companies offer better pay packages and at times broader professional experience.