On Careers

April 2009


The Dress Code Fight Isn't Worth It

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I work for a very well-known, worldwide, prestigious company. In our employee handbook, it states: "Employees should use their best judgment regarding appropriate dress for their jobs and the schedule for the day. When determining appropriate dress, employees should consider not only the task,

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What If You'd Made No Mistakes in Your Life?

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As a recovering perfectionist, I know all too well the experience of making a mistake and proceeding to mentally flagellate myself for it. I can still be merciless on occasion. It has probably been one of the biggest obstacles I have faced. And I know I’m not alone.

The crazy thing is that it is all ...

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Take Control of the Job Interview

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The problem with many job interviews is that their substance is abstract instead of concrete.

Woo-woo questions like “If you were a breakfast cereal, what kind would you be?” might reveal something about your personality, character, or eating habits. But what do they say about your ability to do the ...

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Blinding Flash of the Obvious, One Day Late

Yesterday's Air Force One flight over New York City illustrates several points.

“The FAA was told about the flight and approved it!!” was a sorry answer and excuse. Point is, if you are in a position of authority or responsibility, don’t throw anyone--and certainly not unnamed bureaucracies--under ...

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Why You Didn't Get Hired

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The job looked perfect for you. The description matched your experience and skills so perfectly, you could almost visualize yourself at your new desk. But now you're staring at a rejection E-mail and can't figure out what happened.

No matter how qualified you think you are for a job, there are all ...

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Good Lessons From Bad Jobs

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Put a new supervisor in a room with a bunch of experienced ones and odds are the veterans will talk about their mistakes. Variations of “watch out for this” and “never do that” will outnumber the more positive pointers.

So it goes with jobs--it is not unusual for us to glean the most powerful ...

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Written Up at Work? Sign on The Line

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Part 1. A friend (non-HR professional) once said that if an employee won't sign with a full signature on the provided signature line on a written warning/write up/etc., then the refusal is defined as insubordination. True? She maintained that it won't suffice as evidence of having received the ...

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Take the Slow Road to Success

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You have big dreams, and you're committed to success. You have a million things you want to do before yesterday at noon and you're running at mach speed. You're moving so fast you can scarcely breathe.

Want to know a way to get more out of all that effort you're making? It may seem counterintuitive,

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Do Women Have a Competitive Advantage Over Men?

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And, if so, why do men still earn a dollar for every 77 pennies women earn? Why are men’s small businesses larger than women’s small businesses?

It shouldn’t be like this.

Because when it comes to running anything—a family, a business, a country—women possess extraordinary leadership qualities. We’re ...

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Dear Former Employee: It's Not Your Fault

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A hypothetical look at what an honest CEO might write to a laid-off worker in today's economy.

I am sorry we had to lay you off last week. I really am.

It is a failure on my part. I should have seen all this coming. I knew our products were outdated. But, heck, they were still selling. And well, too.

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The Problem With Thinking For Other People

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The internal dialogue: Whether we're talking to other people in our heads or talking to ourselves, all of us conduct our own personal conversations--that no one else ever hears. (Some of us do it more than others.)

Thinking conversations through before they happen can be a useful tool in your ...

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What Makes a Hiring Manager Fall in Love?

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Some hiring managers are flooded with well-qualified candidates for any job they post, no matter the economy (but especially this economy). When you’re up against dozens of strong candidates, it's the smaller things that will help you break from the pack and emerge as a clear top contender. These ...

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When Management Gets Ambushed By Small Things

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We shy away from details because we don’t want to micromanage.

At the same time, we are reluctant to create systems because we don’t want to be bureaucratic.

And then we wonder why we get ambushed by small things and why our performance is inconsistent.

The details do not take care of themselves.

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Change Your Assumptions, Change Your World

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Are you creating virtual barriers to your dreams? Sometimes the assumptions we make build walls between us and our aspirations that are far thicker than any external obstacle we’re likely to meet. And the wild thing about assumptions is that they are nothing but electrical impulses firing away in ...

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The "Secret" to Success in Any Job

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Well, OK, it’s not exactly a secret.

But it’s the key to surviving these shaky economic times. In fact, it's the key to succeeding in any career at any time, no matter what shape your industry, or the nation, is in.

It’s a two-part secret:

1. Do your best.

2. And then do a little more.

Think of it as ...

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The Personal Branding Phenomenon

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For some time now in articles and books, you might have have noticed that we should all be concerned with our own “personal brands.”

No question that certain leaders have a "brand." Some even work to enhance or further their brand. Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett have brands, as do all of the ...

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The Right Time to Resign

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What is your opinion of the timing when a person decides to resign for another job? I am currently seeking another position while my organization and my department particularly is in the middle of a major, long-term project in which I play a major part as mid-level technical staff. While I ...

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Let's Drop the Overqualified Objection

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One of the most frustrating things a job seeker can encounter is the objection that he or she is overqualified.

“What am I supposed to do?” they ask. “Hide the fact that I have ten years of experience, or that I have a graduate degree?”

Put me down on the side of the applicants.

Some employers may ...

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Success Secret: Be Yourself

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Want a tip on how to succeed in your career? Figure out who you are – then be that. If you want to tap into your maximum potential, align your career path with what comes naturally.

For so many people, going to work is about getting up in the morning and heading off for another day of being who ...

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This is Why Management is Hard

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I have a small group of female employees. Two--Sarah and Julie*--are very good friends. Recently Sarah called in sick, which left Julie to do a project that had to get done that day, and Sarah hadn't prepared what she could have ahead of time. Julie was a little annoyed and came to me.

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When Your Job Hunt is Stalled

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After you’ve been on the job hunt for a while, you may start to think nothing will work. You may start to feel very negative about your prospects. You may even want to give up.

Unfortunately, you still have bills to pay, and you still need to find a job. So here are two suggestions on how to ...

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4 Spots for Frustrated Job Seekers

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After my weekend rant about job boards and the entire job search process--including HR departments that are too overworked, understaffed or unwilling to even acknowledge job seekers today--it's a good time to direct job seekers to four new and different career resources.

1. @careerealism. For those ...

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Can You Appeal a Job Rejection?

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Can you appeal a job rejection? Short answer: No. Well, usually not.

Every few weeks or so, I'm contacted by a job candidate who asks me to reconsider our rejection of his or her application. Here's the internal dialogue in my head when this happens, and I can almost guarantee you it's the same for ...

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To Motivate Employees, Get Out of Their Way

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Managers and supervisors are often looking for ways to motivate employees. Here’s one that is welcome regardless of the condition of the economy: Get out of their way. Here are some approaches:

• Eliminate those weekly staff meetings that have turned into giant time-wasters. Only hold meetings that ...

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How to Find the Genius in Your Mistakes

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Let’s face it. We all screw up. If you think you never make mistakes, you’re either in denial or playing life waaaay too close to the vest.

For many people, mistakes are painful. They are reminders of how they’re not good enough, proof that they don’t have what it takes, or any one of a bazillion ...

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How to Survive Sabotage and Save Your Job

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Layoffs have been announced and it’s likely that more than half of my department will be affected. Several of my coworkers are actively trying to destroy the reputation of everyone else in the group (including mine). I suppose they are doing this in the hopes that they will be the lucky ones.

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The Secret to Being an Interview Star

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It’s hard enough just getting a job interview--when you do get one, you definitely want to make it count. Of course you’ll be punctual, appropriately clad, armed with extra resumes, and brimming with enthusiasm.

But if you really want to stand out, you will do this: Learn to tell a good story.

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