CAREEREALISM Career Advice & Job Search Magazine Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:58:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 This is weekly program whether career expert J.T. O'Donnell reviews skills and techniques needed to succeed in your career. She also answers question live from our views. Tune in Tuesdays at 1pm ET on to join our weekly Career Q&A! CAREEREALISM clean CAREEREALISM (CAREEREALISM) Career Q&A with J.T. O'Donnell CAREEREALISM 13 Lies People Tell In Interviews Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:58:21 +0000 People aren’t always the most truthful in interviews. When you really want to land the job, it can be easy to exaggerate, or stretch the truth a little bit. You’re in the hot seat and the pressure is on – you’re willing to do whatever it takes to beat out the other job candidates. It’s... Continue reading

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People aren’t always the most truthful in interviews. When you really want to land the job, it can be easy to exaggerate, or stretch the truth a little bit. You’re in the hot seat and the pressure is on – you’re willing to do whatever it takes to beat out the other job candidates.

It’s natural, but it’s definitely not the best strategy.

Yet, it still happens. The thing is, though, interviewers can see right though it. They’ve heard them all.

Here are some of the more common lies that one might tell during an interview.

1. I’m a total people-person. Everyone loves me. I mean EVERYONE!


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2. I wasn’t fired, I quit that !@#$ place.


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3. The 2-hour commute each way won’t be an issue.


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4. I really researched the company. Your mission means a lot to me.



5. I love working with groups, I’m so patient and motivated.


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6.  I never procrastinate. I love staying busy.


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7. My last boss totally loved me, I wouldn’t even bother calling him.


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8. Relocate? No problem!


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9.  What? My GPA? Oh, I just don’t test well. I’m really more about getting involved.


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10. I am really reliable. I’m never, ever late either.


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11.  Adjectives used by former co-workers to describe me? Epic, go to-er, captain fabulous.


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12.  I’ve never caused conflict at my last job. I’ve never even participated in office gossip.


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13. Sorry I smell like smoke. My cat is trying to quit.


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So, don’t lie in interviews because it could come back to bite you!



Want to learn more about answering interview questions? Read our article “What Not To Say In An Interview.”


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4 Ways To Stop Being A Control Freak Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:40:15 +0000 Are you a control freak? Stop making excuses for your behavior and start improving your management style. Here are some helpful tips.

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I’m the first person to admit I’m a control freak. It’s not like I can hide it anyway. If you’ve known me for even a short period of time, chances are you’ve seen me in action. And no, I’m not proud. Being a control freak isn’t a good thing. In fact, some might call it downright annoying.

Related: The 8 Delegation Myths Of The Office

I used to make excuses for it:

“I can’t help it!” I’d say. “That’s just the way I am!”

But, ya know what? That’s not altogether true. I know when I’m being overly controlling. I feel it. Just like an alcoholic yearns for one more drink, I crave control in any situation. I see myself jumping in, taking charge, directing the flow of traffic. It’s cringe-worthy at times. And yet, I just continue to do it.

So recently, I decided to take control (release control) of the situation by exploring the causes and creating strategies for how I can improve my behavior. If you’re in a similar boat, I encourage you to do the same. After all, being a control freak isn’t as likeable as it sounds.

Why Am I Such A Freak?

So, is there a reason for this kind of character trait? (Note: we’re not going to call it a “flaw.” It’s just a thing that could be improved, okay?) Where does it come from?

After a little research (and some self-reflection), I’ve discovered that most control issues stem from a few things. See if any of the following statements ring true for you:

  • I have incredibly high standards and I don’t trust others to uphold them.
  • I have high anxiety and taking a leadership role makes me feel more comfortable and calm.
  • I have a fear of disorganization, failure, and chaos. If I’m in control and bad things happen, it’s my own fault. And I trust myself more than others to keep the bad stuff away.
  • I have a love of the spotlight. By taking control, I often get all the credit or appreciation for a job well done.
  • I have a big ego. I like to be in a position to show off my skills.
  • I like to feel needed. Being the one in control makes my presence seem more important.

Obviously, the items on this list aren’t very flattering. Don’t worry; no judgment here.

It’s also pretty easy to see that these issues might cause some problems.

What’s Wrong With It?

I used to tell myself that being a control freak wasn’t such a big deal. Only, it is. And here’s why:

It Can Seriously Damage Your Relationships

Think about it: When you try to control every situation, even if it’s not your intention, others start to worry that you don’t trust them. They also get sick of following your lead. You may notice friends and family starting to pull away from you, getting irritated or exasperated. Or perhaps they’ve simply given up and accepted you’re the one who gets control. That’s not really fair to them and, ultimately, they could end up resenting you for it.

It Can Cause You Emotional, Mental, And Physical Stress

And most of the time, it’s completely unnecessary! When we always feel like we have to be in control of the world around us every second of every day, we’re adding a tremendous amount of pressure to our lives. We do it to ourselves and it’s just not healthy.

So, What Can I Do?

If you’re a control freak (like me) I have a few suggestions. These come from personal experience so trust me when I tell you they work. They’re not all easy to do, but if you’re dedicated to making a change, this is a great place to start.

1. Let Go Of Your Ego

Take yourself down a notch. You’re great, but so are others. You have to share the spotlight and let others use their skills. Believe it or not, you’re not the best at everything.

2. Delegate To Others

Start small. Train people how to do things if they aren’t familiar. See what it feels like to rely on others to do the work. And enjoy how good it feels to watch them blossom with the added confidence you’ve shown in them.

3. Acknowledge You Can’t Control Everything

Give yourself a break and learn to go with the flow now and again. Once you see everything works out just fine without your intervention, you’ll get more comfortable with the idea.

4. Completely Give Up Control In One Small Area Of Your Life

Make a conscious decision to completely give up control in one small area of your life. Maybe you’ll let others decide what’s for dinner. Maybe you’ll go on vacation without planning a single excursion. Maybe you’ll just take a walk without knowing where you’re going. Whatever you choose, let the circumstances and people around you take the lead. Bite your tongue, sit back and relax. You’re a passenger. Enjoy the view.

Now, it’s worth mentioning control isn’t always a horrible thing. It’s wonderful to take control at times, show off your leadership abilities and your decisive point-of-view. But there’s a point where it goes too far. Put yourself in check regularly.

And, if you’re constantly being told that you’re a control freak, don’t just write it off as an inescapable character trait. Take a few proactive steps to share the spotlight and hand the reins to someone else. Everyone, even you, will be better for it.

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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How To Market Yourself In Today’s Economy Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:40:09 +0000 Full-time jobs are hard to find these days. Make sure you are prepared to compete successfully. Find out how to market yourself in today's economy.

The post How To Market Yourself In Today’s Economy appeared first on CAREEREALISM.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to recognize that job seekers face obstacles today that they never imagined in the past. A lot has changed in the last few years, and you’ll need to adjust if you want to succeed. Competition is intense and more and more companies are turning to temporary, or contingent, workers in place of full-time employees. Since the pace of change is unlikely to slow, if you want to be successful, it’s up to you to keep up.

Related: How To Build An Effective ‘Marketing Yourself’ Plan

Make sure you are prepared to compete successfully. Find out how to market yourself in today’s economy:

Evaluate And Identify Career Trends In Your Field

Open your eyes and ears and keep abreast of what’s hot in your industry. You need to know what skills and experiences employers seek for the jobs you want. How can you uncover this information?

  • Review job descriptions; what keywords show up again and again?
  • What topics are keynote speakers including in their presentations at your professional conferences? (You can discover this online, even if you don’t attend.)
  • What topics are thought leaders in your field writing about and discussing? (Read their blogs, newsletters and social media updates to find out.)
  • When you have informational interviews with people in your field, what do they identify as their biggest obstacles, pain points and concerns?
  • What do online tools (websites and social media sites) tell you about your industry?

Choose A Career Specialty

Even though employers are doing more with fewer people, the trend is to hire candidates with niche expertise. If you are a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and can do a lot of things, but don’t have a specialty area, it’s time to decide what you’re really good at and focus your energies on being the best in the business.

Need some help deciding what you should market as your go-to skill? Use the research you did to evaluate trends in your field to discover the most salient issues in your industry. If necessary, enroll in continuing education courses to fine tune your unique talents. Then, highlight those niche abilities.

You will stand out in a crowd of applicants when you market your specialty expertise. Then, you will be able to make your targeted case via strong application and marketing materials.

Demonstrate Your Career Expertise And Expand Your Network

Don’t just say you’re an expert in your field – show people that you have your finger on the pulse of your industry by using social networking tools to highlight exactly what you know. When you post frequent, smart updates on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn and engage in conversations with colleagues and thought leaders, you prove you have useful ideas and opinions.

The result? You’ll grow the number of potential allies in your network who are willing to refer you for job opportunities. Statistically, referrals are the best way to land jobs, so you’ll be well on your way to getting a position.

Learn How To Market Yourself

Using social media to demonstrate your expertise is a great first step, but it’s not enough to just engage in topical online conversations. You need to think about how to market yourself as if you were a company. Even if you aren’t seeing it in your field yet, studies suggest freelancers will eventually make up about 50% of the workforce, up from 35-40% currently.

If you can’t describe what you know and why someone should hire you, expect long periods of unemployment in your future.

Review your online bios; do they tell a compelling story about you? Does your LinkedIn headline include keywords and a pitch to inspire someone to want to learn more about you? Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities to make sure people who want to hire someone like you can find you online?

Do you have a professional avatar that makes you appear friendly, yet intelligent? All of these are key elements to help you maintain a competitive presence in your field and have a chance to land jobs – and gigs.

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Is Your Personal Brand Wrong? Sat, 20 Dec 2014 06:00:32 +0000 What is your resume/brand saying about you? What is the value you are offering? Does your personal brand need an update? Find out.

The post Is Your Personal Brand Wrong? appeared first on CAREEREALISM.

Does your personal brand need an update? A careerist said to me, “I need your help. I need to REBRAND my resume.”

Related: Are You Doing Enough To Promote Your Brand?

Okay. So, I was expecting, “I need a resume like yesterday.” Perhaps, “What is resume branding?” But, an outright “rebrand” — well! If I wasn’t already sitting…

Is Your Personal Brand Wrong?

Why A Rebrand?

You see, this careerist had developed a strong brand; earned a reputation as a ‘department savior.’ The problem? Most of the job offers were coming from companies in need of an immediate and truly challenging rescue. (It is a logical result. Don’t you think?) The issue is this careerist no longer wishes to come in and organize mayhem.

Now, it is not this person is not willing to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and work hard. But that their most prominent qualifications, the brand that was exuding from resume shouted, “give me your poorest, most chaotic department, with little or no employees, and non-existing resources—I like that!” The solution? A rebrand.

The Complexity Of Branding

Many careerists in a quest to outdistance other job seekers work on developing a personal brand—and that is great. The mistake is sometimes a careerist will launch a personal branding campaign based on what they have been told repeatedly they are best at. What’s the problem with that? Many of us are often cast into roles that we do not ENJOY just because we are good at them.

Yes, perhaps, when we first begin our careers that is good enough. Nevertheless, as we grow, learn more about ourselves, discover through experience what we truly take pleasure in, we often desire personal fulfillment in conjunction with meeting our financial needs. Consequently, we need to reevaluate, and yes—REBRAND!

The Value Offer (Unique Value Proposition)

First, let’s be clear. In order to win that job, you must solve a problem for employers. (Yes. This is true.) Please know companies are looking for candidates because they need to solve a problem. So, if boarding a sinking ship, steering it, and hoisting it out of turbulent waters is what you enjoy—ahoy! But (pay close attention now), as an example, if you do not desire to save a department from flounder—what then is your value offer?

Perhaps taking the department to the next level? Offering higher returns? Guaranteeing more efficiency? Promising to train even better employees? Yes, you can present a solution to a challenge they have not yet faced. Think about the latter. How often have you purchased a product you originally didn’t know you needed but as it turns out it has made your life easier? Branding. Targeting. Marketing!

You and only you can answer the question of what your value offer is, but be assured you must offer value.

What This Means For You

You must pay close attention to what you are offering via your resume and brand. What you promote most prominently will attract those in need of just that. It is that simple. It is not just about outdistancing and differentiating yourself (although it is a key component of branding) but it is about attracting the right employer by targeting the right market and promoting the right brand.

Developing the right brand is a very complex self-analyzing process. You must be extremely cautious you do not promote an undesirable brand; coming into a department and sustaining things as they are is not a bankable or differentiating brand. Thus, you must evaluate and identify what you offer a corporation that provides them with an added value and concurrently position yourself to leverage the strengths you wish to implement in your daily work life.

What is your resume/brand saying about you? What is the value you are offering? And dare I ask you, what would make you happy?

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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Rosa Elizabeth Vargas | Resume Branding Expert

About the author

Rosa Elizabeth Vargas is a job search strategist who is triple-certified as an (MRW) Master Resume Writer, (NCRW) Nationally Certified, and (ACRW) Academy Certified Resume Writer. Additional qualifications include job search coaching and social media consulting. Visit her website here.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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The Ultimate Guide To Professional Email Etiquette Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:34:17 +0000 If you don’t know email etiquette, you’re in for a rough ride. Check out these tips for professional email etiquette before sending your next message!

The post The Ultimate Guide To Professional Email Etiquette appeared first on CAREEREALISM.

Can you imagine communicating without email? It is part of our everyday life and the way many employers receive cover letters and resumes from potential candidates. So, if you don’t know email etiquette, you’re in for a rough ride.

Related: Follow Up Tips: What To Do When Your E-mail Goes Unanswered

Even if you think you have it down, you should take another look at the tips below.

Subject Line

The first thing seen is the subject line so make that work for you. For example, “Over 10 Years Ranked as the #1 Sales Performer” will certainly demand reading. Even if you have to reference the job posting number, include a summary of who you are in an attention getting way.

Email Tone

Respond with the same tone or err slightly more conservatively than the employer presents itself in the job posting to be on a common ground for communications. Remember that people hire people they like and every communication is a chance to build rapport, so keep it conversational and not too stuffy.

Embedding Graphics

You don’t know if the employer is on the same email system as what you use, so while that fancy graphic may look nice, it may come out to look like a broken image file upon receipt. Avoid embedding logos and graphics to email.

Email Length

The only purpose of the email, just like a cover letter, is to get them to read your resume. Keep your email short and to the point of what you can do for them. Have short paragraphs and make sure it is easy to read.

Read Receipt

You may want to know when your cover letter and resume has been received and read, but the employer receiving the email with the request for read receipt can get turned off quickly. Not only does it send a signal that you don’t trust the employer and the process it has in place, but employers do not have an obligation to respond to each email received and requesting for it is imposing that on them.

Urgent Delivery

Marking your email as urgent or of high importance does not necessarily give it special attention. Employers may find it annoying that the feature is being abused when you’re applying to the job like every other job candidate.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re applying for a job via email or in correspondence with a potential employer. The last thing you want to do is irk the employer and loose a chance at the job opportunity or an interview.

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

Related Posts

7 Cover Letter Mistakes You Make When Applying Via E-mail
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Don Goodman

About the author

Don Goodman’s firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013 & 2014. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109  for more information.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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This Christmas Movie Can Help You Find A Job For Next Year Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:59:14 +0000 There's a Christmas movie out there that will help you find a job. I’ll tell you what that is, and how you can use it to make 2015 your best year ever.

The post This Christmas Movie Can Help You Find A Job For Next Year appeared first on CAREEREALISM.

My wife and I LOVE Christmas movies. The classics, like The Grinch, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone are some of our favorites…

Related: 3 Steps For Transforming Your Passion Into A Career

(Though it’s hilarious to think that Home Alone wouldn’t exist in modern day times. The 10-yr old kid would have a cell phone and call his parents right away. They’d figure out a plan and live happily ever after. My, how the times have changed…)

But you have to hand it to the creators of Rise of the Guardiansthe new-ish Christmas movie starring the Easter Bunny, Santa, and Jack Frost in an epic battle against the Boogeyman.

Like other brilliant animated movies, they do a great job of making thing interesting for kids and adults…

And for you – they even throw in some wisdom that can help you find your dream job. In a minute, I’ll tell you what that is, and how you can use it to make 2015 your best year ever.

(By the way, there’s also free resource here that’ll help you find the most inspiring companies and get their attention.)

Why Finding Your ‘Center’ Can Help You Get Your Ultimate Job

The struggle that the main character, Jack Frost, goes through the entire movie is figuring who he is and what he’s meant to do…

…Which is essentially the same core struggle we all go through in life.

Finding our way – and what we’re best at – isn’t easy. Thankfully, there are tools out there to help you get there.

The tool they use in this movie is your “center.”

Santa explains it to Jack Frost like this:

On the outside, people see you in a few different ways. You might be powerful, successful, or even jolly (in Santa’s case).

Yet, as you peel back the layers, everyone has a center.

Santa’s center is wonder. So, his job is to spread wonder to the world at Christmas each year.

Jack’s is fun. His job is to create snow days and start snowball fights. (Not a bad gig, if you ask me)

… And while you may not be able to deliver presents or start snowball fights for a living, (wouldn’t that be awesome, though) you can find and use your center to find the best job for you.

How To Find And Use Your ‘Center’

In the movies, they conquer this issue in a hour and a half. Yet, for many people this process can take a little while.

You can start by taking some strengths and personality tests to gain some insight into how you work. I’ve taken every test I could find, and received a TON of valuable insight as a result.

Then there’s other methods like journaling, meditation, and even asking your friends and family members what they think you’re best at.

Then, once you start on a path, you course correct as you go. Like Tom Peters says:

Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.

And most importantly, have some fun doing it.

So, remember, finding your ‘center’ – or what love most and are best at spreading – is critical to finding a job you love and creating long term success. Once you find it, you can make sure any job opportunity you accept is aligned with your ‘center.’

And if you’d like a bit more help finding it and getting your ultimate job, check out this free video I put together alongside my mentor.

It contains three solid job seeking tips you can apply today to find and get your dream job with an inspiring company.

Good luck, and happy holidays!

Related Posts

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Ryan Niessen

About the author

Ryan Niessen is a keynote speaker and co-creator of The Gateway Method: a simple, proven way to gain inside access to the world’s best employers and get your dream job. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Facebook.





Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.


Debby Wong /

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7 Ways To Sniff Out The REAL Company Culture Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:36:55 +0000 How do you know what it’s really like to work somewhere? Here are some ideas to help you identify the real company culture before you accept a position.

The post 7 Ways To Sniff Out The REAL Company Culture appeared first on CAREEREALISM.

You read the job description and get so excited. It is exactly what you want in your next career step. You talk with the recruiter and everything seems aligned. You prepare for the interview, you ask good questions and you get good answers, you think you got this nailed. It is as good as it seems, then you start and, a month later, you realize that it isn’t what you thought it was and you feel trapped.

Related: 3 Sneaky Ways To Research A Company

You can’t quit after a few months because you don’t want to be a job hopper. You regret your decision and wish you had done things differently. So, how do you know what it’s really like to work somewhere? Here are some ideas to help you identify the real company culture before you accept a position.

1. Ask a LOT of questions

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; ask a lot of questions! Ask scenario-based questions about career paths and culture and then you need to be sure that the interviewer can back it up. Ask them to tell you stories about top performers at the company and why the company considers them a top performer. Ask about what characteristics are rewarded and revered in the company. But be sure you ask!

2. Listen to the answers & probe

Asking is simply the first part of the equation, because then you need to listen and trust your gut. Does the answer seem genuine? Do they have no stories to back up their claims? Do they seem like authentic stories? And finally, do you think these answers and stories are aligned with what you want? If the answer is maybe, probe deeper with the interviewer. If you don’t get anywhere after you attempt to probe a bit, and it remains a maybe… then it’s a no. Maybe is a “no” because you cannot afford maybe.

3. Study current and former employees

Take some time on LinkedIn. Study the company page and the people who are working for the company. Are they frequently promoted? Do they demonstrate a career path? DO they quit and come back? This can tell you a lot about the company culture and can also inform the awesome questions you have to ask.

4. Connect with current employees

Use your network to talk with people who already work there. Ask them the good, the bad and the ugly. These conversations can help you shape an understanding of the company culture from an insider’s point of view. Ask them questions about what’s important to you when you join a new company.

5. Connect with former employees

Similar to the idea above, talking to former employees is equally important. These people can tell you why they left and if they would ever consider going back. The information you learn from former employees should also inform your questions. Keep in mind, companies do change and the reason this person left may no longer be an issue. So, be sure that you are mindful of that as well.

6. Read reviews, but don’t ONLY read reviews

Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are awesome to get some insights, but I always caution that these sites can sometimes cloud your point of view. Keep in mind; people who write anonymous reviews of things are often either horribly disgruntled or shilling. If you want to read reviews, read the ones that are middle of the road. Don’t read 5-stars and 1-star. Read 3-star reviews and then either ask your network to validate or just take it with a grain of salt.

7. Follow them on social to see how they respond

Social media has forced brands to more openly communicate with candidates and customers. Some companies do an amazing job of telling you about the culture on their social media channels. Others don’t. The companies who do not share a lot about their culture, you should study how do they treat their candidates and customers. You can use this information to see what it might be like at a company, and to see what is important to the brand before you join it.

Changing jobs is a big decision. Figuring out your fit is so important so that you don’t end up filled with dread and regret or the dreaded “job hopper” label. Carefully considering a company’s culture is critical in your career because getting it wrong is too costly.

Related Posts

Company Culture: 7 Tips On How You Can Plug In
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Tracey Parsons

About the author

With passion and an innate curiosity, Tracey strives to push the envelope to create great experiences for talent. Tracey has been developing digital, mobile and social solutions for nearly 20 years in the talent acquisition space. Currently CredHive’s CEO, she is dedicated to changing the way hiring is done to create a more level playing field for talent. Visit CredHive to learn more.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Networking Hack: Don’t Forget Anyone’s Name Ever Again! Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:30:48 +0000 Do you constantly forget names? Use the following networking hack and you won't have to endure the painful awkwardness of forgetting someone's name again!

The post Networking Hack: Don’t Forget Anyone’s Name Ever Again! appeared first on CAREEREALISM.

We’ve all been there: You’ve been introduced, you KNOW this person, and it’s your responsibility to introduce them to someone else. But you can’t remember this person’s name for the LIFE of you.

And so begins the super awkward and uncomfortable moment that we all dread so much. How embarrassing.

Related: 5 Quick Tips For Better Listening Skills

Why is it so hard to remember someone’s name when you first meet them? Because for many of us, when we’re introduced, we’re so focused on saying our own name that we don’t even bother listening to the other person’s name. Then, we use the excuse, “Oh, I’m just so bad with names” as our comfort statement.

Well, it’s time to stop using that excuse and start remembering names. If you use the following networking hack, you won’t have to endure the painful awkwardness of forgetting someone’s name again!

Listen, Pause, And Repeat

Instead, when you’re introduced to someone, pause and listen to their name. Once you’ve heard the person’s name, repeat it back to him or her, then introduce yourself. Then, make sure to say the person’s name in the first sentence or question that comes out of your mouth.

Here’s an example:

“Hi, my name is John Smith. Great to meet you.”

“Hi, John. My name is Alison Pert. It’s a pleasure to meet you! Now, John, have you attended one of these events before? This is my first time and I’m not sure what to expect.”

We learn through repetition. Use their name a few times during your conversation. It helps!

I hope you liked today’s networking hack! What are your tips for remembering someone’s name? I want to know! Please share your tips, tricks, and hacks in the comment section below!

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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How To Handle A Hostile Work Environment Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:30:36 +0000 Do you really have a bad work situation or harassing co-workers? Learn the legal definition of this term and how to handle a hostile work environment.

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Sometimes terminology is used in our culture that gets adopted and used, but it isn’t being used correctly. “Hostile Work Environment” is one of those terms you hear, but it may or may not be true to the legal definition.

Related: How To Improve Office Relationships

That’s right, when it comes to this term; we have laws about hostile work environments and with the law comes a legal definition. It’s good to know the difference, because depending on what you are really talking about, your potential actions could be very different.

To quote “A hostile work environment is created by a boss or co-worker whose actions, communication, or behavior makes doing your job impossible. This means that the behavior altered the terms, conditions, and/or reasonable expectations of a comfortable work environment… and must be discriminatory in nature. (Discriminatory would be about age, religion, gender, or race.) The behavior must last over time and must be severe.”

As you can see this is a very specific set of behaviors that protect our right to work. There can be legal ramifications because someone has made working and prospering at work impossible, if this issue is not handled properly by the employer.

Since we are clear about the true, legal meaning of “Hostile Work Environment,” let’s look at what’s taking place when your work situation may or may not be aligned to this technical term, but it’s bad nonetheless. What can you do in either situation?

How To Handle A Hostile Work Environment

Know the proper way to escalate an issue. You don’t want to go from your office to the local Bureau of Labor and Industry to talk to a lawyer. No matter which situation you are in, you are expected to work from the bottom up. Your steps should be:

1. Address The Issue Directly With The Offender

Difficult for many people, but necessary, is to adequately communicate what the issue is and to give a very specific example. You don’t want to use absolutes like “you always talk vulgar to me” when that isn’t actually true, because that person may be vulgar frequently, but not ‘always.’ Consider: “When you spoke to me just now, that was vulgar and inappropriate. You do not have my permission to continue.”

2. If The Issue Continues

Again, difficult for some people, but you need to repeat your previous message and then let them know you will be escalating it to both management and HR. By this point, you should be documenting both your conversations and comments made to you by the offender. You may need this type of detailed information when you take the issue up the food chain.

3. Take It To Management And Human Resources (HR)

Not all companies have an HR, but if they do, you need to cover your bases and ensure they are in the loop. When you take your issue to your manager, you will be much more effective if you can keep calm and professional. An emotional scene won’t help make your case despite how you might feel about it. You need to be prepared to give specific examples.

You also need to be prepared for management to speak to the offender, making the previous step important. You must hold your management accountable for correcting the situation. This doesn’t mean you insisting on this person being fired, but it is reasonable to expect that they will take whatever action they think will curb the inappropriate behavior. You should expect, and ask for a follow up, to minimally hear back that they did take action.  You don’t need a full account of what was said and done, as that is confidential.

4. If It Continues…

Again, you need to follow the previous steps and waste no time informing your management and HR. You are still looking for these people to take action.

5. And If It Still Continues…

At this point, you may be out of options. If the issue does follow the definition of a hostile work environment, you may have grounds for a legal action. If it is simply someone who does annoying things, badgers your work or makes rude remarks, your only two options are:

  • Take the issue to a higher management level.
  • Leave. While it might seem unfair that you would have to be the one to leave, all too many people tend to be weenies when dealing with difficult personnel issues.You can either find a way to tolerate it, be miserable or leave.

Hopefully, you will never have to face this type of situation but if you do, learn the right way, the professional way of addressing this kind of issue. It will be more effective in the long run for everyone involved.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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Are Your Work Expectations Realistic? Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:15:50 +0000 Expectations. We all have them. We have all sorts of work expectations. Are your expectations realistic? Here are some questions to ask.

The post Are Your Work Expectations Realistic? appeared first on CAREEREALISM.

Expectations. We all have them. Our expectations motivate us and drive us to do things both good and bad. We might expect a great time at a party or expect to get bored at grandmas. We have all sorts of work expectations. We have expectations of our peers, our boss, our company, and even our customers.

Related: Want Career Happiness? Identify Your Top 5 Desires

Our expectations serve us like a yard stick where we kind of measure people both ahead of time and after an event. We think we know what to expect of others and ourselves, so we check to see if all of that expectation is missed or met.

What happens when our expectations are continuously missed? We turn grouchy, to start with. If our expectations are continually abused, it can become the catalyst of unrest and great unhappiness. Depending on your position in the company, you can bear down on the source of your missed expectations with unrelenting focus.

We hate to be disappointed. The question is – Are your expectations realistic or are you a control freak? It’s good to be good, but it’s annoying to work with someone who wants to be perfect. Besides, it’s just not possible, so you could be unrealistic and also be a real pain in the backside.

Are Your Work Expectations Realistic?

Here are some questions to ask yourself, as well as thoughts to help gauge your expectations:

1. Are You Clear About Your Expectations?

Sometimes we have them, but we can’t exactly pinpoint what they are. If you can get clear first, you can examine them more closely.

2. Did You Manufacture Your Expectations Without Validation?

Especially with others, we sometimes cook up expectations and fail to communicate to get agreement.

3. Is Someone Being Inconsistent?

One day they do things a certain way and the next day, they do them differently. You’re now confused and don’t know WHAT to expect. Time to ask.

4. How Do Your Standards Compare To Others?

There is a fine line between wanting to be the best and being obsessive. Make sure you know where the bar is set for your peers to see if it is within a reasonable range of your own.

5. Do You Need To Communicate Your Expectations?

We often go about doing our work without really communicating what we need, when we need it and what details go with it. If you haven’t shared those details, you need to have a discussion.

6. Are You Getting Feedback?

You might need to calibrate what your expectations are with someone who can give you some objective feedback and understanding of your environment. Depending on your situation, you could do that with your boss; but if that isn’t an option, consider a respected mentor or peer. Don’t’ seek out your work BFF, as they won’t be objective or candid.

7. Are They Impacting Your Work Or Career?

One sure way to know if your expectations are reasonable is if your work is being negatively impacted by someone else. It’s not unreasonable to expect others to meet quality, quantity and deadlines as it relates to the work you do.

If it turns out you are being unrealistic about your expectations of others, you probably need to lighten up. If you don’t, you risk making yourself continuously unhappy and disappointed with those around you. It’s hard to feel any kind of kinship with the people you work with when you’re disappointed with their behavior. If your work expectations are reasonable, but aren’t being met, then you have some work to do with others. It will be worth it in the long run if you do.

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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