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Archive for January, 2012

January 31st, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

Boosting ProductivityMark Twain once remarked that it was a good idea to invest in real estate, because “they’re not making any more of it.”

By that logic, it’s just as wise to make the most of every minute of the day, because they’re not making any more time, either, and you can’t replace a single minute that you’ve wasted.

But there are better reasons to make the most of your time than simply avoiding the loss of it: there’s a strong correlation between how much a person accomplishes in a given amount of time, and how happy, successful, and satisfied that person feels.

What’s more, developing the habits and practices of high-level productivity positions you to be more of a leader, more of an entrepreneur, or more of whatever else you want to be. Whatever you aspire to, whatever you wish to accomplish, increasing your productivity is a proven way to improve your chances of getting there.
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January 26th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

Avoiding MartyrdomWe’ve all known them: Martyrs — people who feel they are carrying the short end of the stick, taking the big hit for the team, suffering when and where others escape scot-free, or enduring bad luck or punishments through no fault of their own.

For a lot of reasons, some people really enjoy being martyrs. But aside from whatever pleasures being a martyr may bring, in general it’s not a good strategy for leading a happy life or becoming successful in the workplace.

Why? Because no one likes to spend time with a martyr, particularly when the martyr keeps rubbing your nose in their martyrdom. What’s more, except in legends and myths, most people who feel themselves to be martyrs tend to be exaggerating how much they suffer and how little good they receive.

Most of the time, a person who sees himself or herself as a martyr is actually refusing to take responsibility for their own actions and choices. They are giving in to sources of stress and problems they need not accept into their lives.

Many recovered martyrs eventually confess that acting like a martyr only made things worse for themselves.

Clearly, there are times when you don’t have a choice, when you are given the short end of the stick or punished without deserving it. But there are other times when martyrdom is a direct result of your own behavior. To end this pattern, you’re going to have to identify the problem, and the source, and make basic changes to avoid martyrdom.

Here are some ways to help you identify situations in which you may be feeling like a martyr:
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January 25th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in Career Advice, Recruiting & Hiring

What to Consider When You Receive a Job OfferIn this economy, getting a job offer is a big accomplishment, and sometimes people jump the gun and say yes without fully understanding what they are agreeing to. As a result, you can get into a job that’s not the right fit, or leave money sitting on the table. Instead, it is in your best interest to get details on what is being offered and to take time to thoroughly look through it.

What are the job responsibilities? Hopefully, you got most of your questions answered during the interview process, but now’s the time to ensure you understand what you will be doing in this position. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or even that the job requirements be put into writing.

Is there room for advancement? If you left your last job because you didn’t see a future there, don’t get yourself into the same situation again. You can ask to talk to someone in human resources about the different career paths and opportunities available at the company.

Why did the last person leave? You don’t need to ask your new boss this outright if you don’t feel comfortable. Instead, you can request the opportunity to speak with the person who last held your position. Sometimes this will not be possible (for example, if the person left on bad terms.) But it will usually reveal some insight into what happened.

What are the hours and benefits? Some companies will expect you to put in a 50-hour work week, so this is important to know upfront. Additionally, you should take into consideration sick days, paid vacation, 401k, health insurance, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits when looking at your compensation. (And if you do accept the offer, don’t forget to take advantage of the benefits you learn about now!)
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January 24th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, Resume Writing, Unemployment

Write Your Twin's ResumeOne of the difficulties to overcome in getting a new job is crafting a resume that will float irresistibly towards the top of the applicants pile. This is important because in today’s job market, that pile is larger than ever.

The awkwardness of writing so glowingly about yourself, as well as the difficulty of finding just the right words to convey your competence and skill set to a hiring manager, are two reasons that professional resume-writing services have become so popular: they lift from your shoulders the demanding job of crafting an accurate, compelling resume about yourself.

But another school of thought says that no professional resume-writer can do a better job of telling your story, describing your skills, and presenting the golden needles in the haystack of your employment history better than you can, yourself.

Fortunately, there’s a seldom-used strategy that helps you combine your in-depth self-knowledge with the emotional lightness that comes when you’re not writing or speaking about yourself.

The strategy builds on the existence of freely available, professionally-written descriptions of particular tasks, responsibilities, and accomplishments. All you have to do is pick a winning set of descriptions, then adapt them to fit your own resume.
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January 19th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice

More Effective RewardsPsychologists generally agree that people operate on the basis of rewards. We tend to do what we find rewarding. The more rewarding we find it, the more likely we are to keep doing it.

But unlike pigeons or monkeys, our concept of what constitutes a reward is both complicated and personal. That’s why you can’t just throw peanuts at people and expect them to feel grateful and start doing what you ask.

In fact, getting people to do what you want is pretty difficult. That’s why providing effective rewards to help you encourage them to do what you want is both an art and a science. Some elements of rewarding people, such as how and when to provide rewards, are pretty well known. But other elements - such as what a particular person will appreciate as a reward, and what he or she won’t appreciate - can be determined only by a sensitive person, and even then only case-by-case.

Generally, the most successful leaders understand both the art and the science of rewarding people. They not only factor the rewards process into their plans, they spend a fair amount of time and energy figuring how best to recognize and reward the specific efforts and activities they want to encourage - and then doing it.

Planning Rewards

The first step in providing more effective rewards is to understand and identify the efforts, activities, and/or results to be rewarded. In most cases, it’s best to develop specific criteria so rewards aren’t subject to “Target Creep”: the unfortunate tendency for standards, objectives, criteria, or goals to change, not only from moment to moment but sometimes depending on who’s next in line to get the reward.
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