Resume Writing Help is Finally Here

| November 15, 2017

LinkedIn just launched a great Resume Assistant tool that can help you build the perfect resume! Did you know workplace can help with resume tips as well? Let us know if you would like us to review your resume and share where you find resume writing tips and tricks!

9 Bad Habits You Must Break To Be More Productive

| October 18, 2017

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

Nothing sabotages your productivity quite like bad habits. They are insidious, creeping up on you slowly until you don’t even notice the damage they’re causing.

Bad habits slow you down, decrease your accuracy, make you less creative, and stifle your performance. Getting control of your bad habits is critical, and not just for productivity’s sake. A University of Minnesota study found that people who exercise a high degree of self-control tend to be much happier than those who don’t, both in the moment and in the long run.

“By constant self-discipline and self-control you can develop greatness of character.” –Grenville Kleiser

Some bad habits cause more trouble than others, and the nine that follow are the worst offenders. Shedding these habits will increase your productivity and allow you to enjoy the positive mood that comes with increased self-control.

Impulsively surfing the Internet. It takes you 15 consecutive minutes of focus before you can fully engage in a task. Once you do, you fall into a euphoric state of increased productivity called flow. Research shows that people in a flow state are five times more productive than they otherwise would be. When you click out of your work because you get an itch to check the news, Facebook, a sport’s score, or what have you, this pulls you out of flow. This means you have to go through another 15 minutes of continuous focus to reenter the flow state. Click in and out of your work enough times, and you can go through an entire day without experiencing flow.

Perfectionism. Most writers spend countless hours brainstorming characters and plot, and they even write page after page that they know they’ll never include in the book. They do this because they know that ideas need time to develop. We tend to freeze up when it’s time to get started because we know that our ideas aren’t perfect and what we produce might not be any good. But how can you ever produce something great if you don’t get started and give your ideas time to evolve? Author Jodi Picoult summarized the importance of avoiding perfectionism perfectly: “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.”

Meetings. Meetings gobble up your precious time like no other. Ultra-productive people avoid meetings as much as humanly possible. They know that a meeting will drag on forever if they let it, so when they must have a meeting they inform everyone at the onset that they’ll stick to the intended schedule. This sets a clear limit that motivates everyone to be more focused and efficient.

Responding to e-mails as they arrive. Productive people don’t allow their e-mail to be a constant interruption. In addition to checking their e-mail on a schedule, they take advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender. They set alerts for their most important vendors and their best customers, and they save the rest until they reach a stopping point in their work. Some people even set up an autoresponder that lets senders know when they’ll be checking their e-mail again.

Hitting the snooze button. When you sleep, your brain moves through an elaborate series of cycles, the last of which prepares you to be alert at your wake up time. This is why you’ll sometimes wake up right before your alarm clock goes off—your brain knows it’s time to wake up and it’s ready to do so. When you hit the snooze button and fall back asleep, you lose this alertness and wake up later, tired and groggy. Worst of all, this grogginess can take hours to wear off. So no matter how tired you think you are when your alarm clock goes off, force yourself out of bed if you want to have a productive morning.

Multitasking. Multitasking is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people, based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitasked a lot and felt that it boosted their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who liked to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another. Ouch!

Putting off tough tasks. We have a limited amount of mental energy, and as we exhaust this energy, our decision-making and productivity decline rapidly. This is called decision fatigue. When you put off tough tasks till late in the day because they’re intimidating, you save them for when you’re at your worst. To beat decision fatigue, you must tackle complex tasks in the morning when your mind is fresh.

Using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed. This is a big one that most people don’t even realize harms their sleep and productivity. Short-wavelength blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level, and sleep quality. In the morning, sunlight contains high concentrations of this blue light. When your eyes are exposed to it directly, the blue light halts production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes you feel more alert. In the afternoon, the sun’s rays lose their blue light, which allows your body to produce melatonin and start making you sleepy.

By the evening, your brain doesn’t expect any blue light exposure and is very sensitive to it. Most of our favorite evening devices—laptops, tablets, televisions, and mobile phones—emit short-wavelength blue light, and in the case of your laptop, tablet, and phone, they do so brightly and right in your face. This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off. As we’ve all experienced, a poor night’s sleep has disastrous effects upon productivity. The best thing you can do is to avoid these devices after dinner (television is OK for most people as long as they sit far enough away from the set).

Eating too much sugar. Glucose functions as the “gas pedal” for energy in the brain. You need glucose to concentrate on challenging tasks. With too little glucose, you feel tired, unfocused, and slow; too much glucose leaves you jittery and unable to concentrate. Research has shown that the sweet spot is about 25 grams of glucose. The tricky thing is that you can get these 25 grams of glucose any way you want, and you’ll feel the same—at least initially. The difference lies in how long the productivity lasts. Donuts, soda, and other forms of refined sugar lead to an energy boost that lasts a mere 20 minutes, while oatmeal, brown rice, and other foods containing complex carbohydrates release their energy slowly, which enables you to sustain your focus.

Bringing It All Together

Some of these habits may seem minor, but they add up. Most amount to a personal choice between immediate pleasures and lasting ones. After all, the worst habit is losing track of what really matters to you.

Are there any productivity-killing habits that I missed? Please share them in the comments section below, because I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

6 smart questions you’re probably forgetting to ask during a job interview

| August 16, 2017

Some great tips if you are interviewing about smart questions you should be asking to make sure the job is a great fit for your goals.

Áine Cain
Aug. 14, 2017, 5:06 PM

It’s crucial to ask questions during job interviews.

If you shrug and tell the hiring manager that you don’t have any questions at the end of your conversation, they’re bound to think that you’re just not that interested.

That being said, you can’t just throw out any random query that floats to the top of your mind.

It’s important to ask thoughtful questions that get at important points and demonstrate you’re a viable candidate.

Here are six smart questions you don’t want to forget to ask during interviews:

1. ‘Why is this position available?’

The job interview isn’t just about impressing hiring managers and coming across as competent and enthusiastic.

You’ve also got to vet the opportunity and the organization that you’re considering. This question will help you figure out if things are truly going well at the organization.

“It’s helpful to know if the last person quit, if the business is growing, or if there’s some other driver at play,” Angela Copeland, career coach at Copeland Coaching, tells Business Insider.

2. ‘What makes people stay at this company?’

April Boykin-Huchko, HR manager at marketing firm Affect, tells Business Insider that it’s always a good idea to get a sense of the company’s culture.

In this day and age, most organizations advertise their values and their company culture online. So, rather than directly asking about culture and values, try to figure out how exactly the company’s environment impacts employees.

3. ‘If hired, what are the three most important things you’d like me to accomplish in the first six to 12 months at the company?’

“Think of every open position as a problem or pain point the company is hoping to solve with the right hire,” Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, tells Business Insider. “The more you know about the hiring manager’s expectations and metrics for success, the easier it will be for you to tailor the conversation to demonstrate your fit for the role.”

4. ‘What will make someone successful in the role?’

Copeland recommends asking this question to make sure you’re “hitting the mark” when it comes to the hiring manager’s goals for the role.

5. ‘Is there anything I’ve said that makes you doubt I would be a great fit for this position?’

“If you can find the courage to put your interviewer on the spot, it can help you get a quick read on the situation, provide you with valuable feedback on your candidacy, and give you the opportunity to address any objections the hiring manager may have while you still have that person’s full attention,” Augustine says.

6. ‘What is your timeline for making a decision? May I call or email you to follow up on my candidacy?’

Don’t bungle the follow-up.

“This question is a must, yet many career-savvy job candidates forget to ask it at the end of the interview,” Augustine says. “Never leave an interview without finding out the company’s timeline for making a decision and determining when and how you should follow up afterwards about your candidacy.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/smart-questions-interview-2017-8

New professional development strategy: People movement

| March 14, 2017

In an age when employees seemingly have little attachment to their employers and are constantly searching for their next gig, is workforce development a waste of time?

A new survey by Dale Carnegie Training of 3,300 full-time employees around the world, including 515 in the U.S, finds that only 23 percent of U.S. workers intend to stick with their current job for the long-haul. Forty-one percent of employees say they are either looking for a new job now or plan to do so within the next year.

And yet, argues Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite, the social media management platform, companies should embrace their workers’ hunger to move on to bigger and better things by providing them opportunities to do that within the workplace.

In a column for Fast Company, Holmes calls on companies to champion what he calls “people movement.”

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“Part of this will be promotions,” he explains. “But an even more critical piece is the lateral and diagonal movements of employees leaving one team for another.”

Traditionally, a “lateral move” is not a flattering way to describe a position change within a company. But Holmes says that such changes are key to developing better-rounded employees who are in a stronger position to take on leadership positions in the future.

“In my company, we’ve seen salespeople transition to product management roles and marketing specialists shift into corporate development,” he writes. “Talented people who enter the company with one skill set are able to level up and acquire expertise in a whole new area. The result is happier, more fulfilled employees who stay with the company–but don’t necessarily stay put.”

To that end, Hootsuite has set a specific “people movement” goal: 20 percent of its workforce should change positions within the next year.

One natural objection to Holmes’ model is that the constant changing of positions leads the company to spend an inordinate amount of time on training. But Holmes suggests the opposite: the company’s focus on professional development has led it to develop extremely efficient training processes that allows it to more quickly onboard new employees.

When people are constantly moving around the company, the reasoning follows, departments are less likely to stagnate. That makes it less likely that a team will experience the drop in feedback and communication that tends to occur as employees get set in their roles and receive less support from their superiors.

The Carnegie study provides support for the view that what employees yearn for is frequent feedback from higher-ups. The survey finds that only about a quarter of workers prefer a boss whose only expectation of them is a solid performance. Three-quarters say they want to work for somebody who encourages them to improve and grow on the job.

Encouraging improvement was by far the top employer characteristic cited by employees, followed by giving praise and showing appreciation for employees, recognizing and highlighting improved performance, admitting their own mistakes or shortcomings and allowing employees to save face in difficult situations.

Similarly, a 2015 survey of 1,100 millennial workers by Boston College’s Center for Work and Family found that the young generation of employees will stay with a company as long as they are provided with ample opportunities for professional growth.

“We’ve heard in the media that millennials move quickly from one job to another, but that’s not what we found in our study,” explained Fred Van Deusen, who led the research.  “We found that they preferred to stick with one company, as long as they felt they were learning and advancing.”

The New DOL Overtime Rules

| May 23, 2016

The New DOL Overtime Rules: Employers’ Next Steps
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), non-exempt employees are required to be paid overtime at time and a half for any time worked over 40 hours a week, while exempt employees are not.

On May 18, 2016, President Obama and Secretary of Labor Perez announced that the Final Overtime Rule will finally be published to the Federal Register on May 23, 2016. Under the new rule, the minimum salary requirement to classify an employee as exempt will now be raised from $23,660 a year to $47,476, and employers may use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10% of the minimum salary. The salary threshold for Highly Compensated Workers was also raised from a minimum of $100,000 a year to $134,004. Furthermore, this is not a one time raise, rather, the new rule contains a mechanism that will automatically adjust the minimum salary thresholds every three years.

Employer Impact

Employers need to take prompt action to ensure they are in compliance by December 1, 2016. Employers have a few options and lots to consider. The first and most important step that employers need to take is to review all exempt employees’ current classifications and salaries, and ask two questions:

1. How much is this employee paid? The new threshold to qualify as exempt is $913 per week or $47,476 yearly. Therefore, all employees with annual salaries between $23,660 and $47,476 will be impacted and a plan must be in place to address the situation. After answering this question, you are able to determine how many employees are subject to change under the new rule.

2. What is the financial impact? Knowing how many employees are subject to change, and the size of the gap between their current salary and the $47,476 threshold, you will be able to determine the financial impact and whether and to what extent, your existing labor cost budget can support compliance with the law.

There are several ways you may choose to handle this situation, we will discuss several of these options below.

Reconfigure Salaries, Benefits and/or Bonuses

One option is to reconfigure an employee’s salary. This may be done in several different ways. The most obvious option would be to give any employees that need to be re-classified a raise to the $47,476 salary minimum in order to maintain their exempt status, allowing them to continue to work overtime when and where needed without additional pay.

Another option is where the employee’s base salary would be lowered such that, once overtime was included, they would be making the same amount as before the implementation of the new rule. This option does not impact the employer’s labor cost budget, but does require an accurate understanding of current overtime use, and when, where and why it happens. Employers who take this approach also will need to ensure that base salaries continue to meet the minimum wage in your state, county and/or city. With minimum wages on the rise, this may prove to be a barrier to this option.

In discussing the possibility of changing salaries, you must also consider employee’s benefits and bonuses. Lowering the base salary may affect an employee’s benefits and bonuses if they are receiving them based on their salary, position, or classification. Policies and processes concerning benefits and bonuses also need to be reviewed in order to accommodate budget challenges resulting from these potentially higher wages. You may also choose to reduce benefits and bonuses in order to escalate base salaries above the new threshold.

Reorganize Your Business

Another viable option for many businesses is to reorganize your business to keep both budget and productivity
constant. Possibilities might include staff reductions, position consolidation, increasing staff to better manage or
lower overtime, or a combination of the above. You may also choose to cut workers’ hours to less than 40 hours a
week and offset those hours by hiring new employees at lower wages and/or increasing part-time employees who
work on an hourly basis. Some businesses may be able to more effectively leverage existing or new technologies
to fill the gaps caused by reorganization and possible workforce reductions.

Outsource

This might also be the time for many businesses to take a solid look at outsourcing, particularly for back office functions like bookkeeping, human resources, or even marketing. These services ensure efficiency while allowing another entity to shoulder the burdens and risks of being the employer of the workers handling these functions. Vetting potential providers and ensuring a seamless transition takes time and money and should begin now.

Maintain Current State

Of course, employers always have the option to maintain all current classifications and not take any special steps to
mitigate the impact of the new rules. This option is perfectly fine and may prove to be the best option for your
organization. If your employees generally work 40 hours or less a week, then overtime may not even be a concern
for you. However, if you choose to take this route, you must be prepared to be diligent in monitoring employees’
work hours and to pay out any overtime that your new non-exempt employees accumulate.

Change Management and Communication

As with any change in a business, especially one that concerns salary, benefits, and position classifications or titles,
it is important to consider your employees and how these changes will affect them. Sometimes employees feel
marginalized or demoted when they are changed from exempt to non-exempt status, despite the fact that nothing
substantively changes in their position other than their ability to earn overtime. That said, the fact that previously
exempt employees may now, as non-exempt employees, have to ‘clock in’, could have an adverse effect or be met
with resistance. It is important to consider the message you will send to employees if changes to classification are
made and to develop a proactive change management and communication plan well in advance of December 1,
2016.
Regardless of the avenue your business ultimately might take, it is important to start planning for this change now.
Almost every employer will be impacted in one way or another and you should consider all your options, obvious or not, in determining your best solution.