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5.23.16
Ways to Ensure That Your Team Learns from Every Success and Failure
It's easy to celebrate when a project goes well, commiserate when it doesn't ... and then go back to business as usual. But if you want to repeat that success or avoid that failure next time, you need to make sure everyone involved understands what happened. Then you can apply those lessons to making next time even better.   1. Build a Wrap-Up Meeting into the Schedule. In the pace of day-to-day activities, we often feel that there's no time to sit down and figure out why things turned out as they did. Establishing a final meeting as an essential part of the project gives the team that time.   2. Take It Out of the Office. Team retreats involve a more significant time investment, but can more than pay for themselves in improved processes and productivity. Even an afternoon in a nearby hotel meeting room can help people gain a clearer perspective on the causes of the project's success or failure.   3. Include Analysis in Every Meeting. If a wrap-up meeting or retreat...
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5.16.16
Your Professional Network: How to Use It Without Losing It
You didn't build relationships with your professional contacts just because you wanted people to party with. You did it because they might help you in your career at some point. But the way you ask for that help can kill the relationship. Here's what not to do.   Don't ask too much. The surest way to get refused or ignored is to ask for so much time and effort, even your best friend would think twice about it. If you're job hunting, request a referral to a specific company, not to have your hand held throughout the entire process.   Don't ask at the last minute. Nobody is obligated to drop their own agenda to take care of yours. Want an invitation to a networking event? Ask at least a month in advance. The bigger the favor, the more lead time you should allow.   Don't expect them to do all the work. Before asking someone to help you write your resume, make sure they understand that you've already put a lot of research and planning into it.   Don't ask too soon in...
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5.09.16
Don't Just Copy and Paste: 4 Things to Put on LinkedIn But Not Your Resume
LinkedIn.com is a great way to get your name and skills in front of a wide audience and build your professional network. On the other hand, your resume should be tailored to a specific audience — the company you're applying with — in order to clearly show why you are the best candidate for that job. Here's what to edit out:   1. Irrelevant experience. Your high school burger slinging job is of no interest to a hiring manager who's looking for computer programmers. Get rid of it and use that space to elaborate on previous jobs, skills and accomplishments the recruiter really needs to know about.   2. Personal information. Your age (birth date), marital status, ethnicity, etc. should not be a factor in the hiring decision, so should not be on your resume. Exceptions to this rule, such as good physical condition needed for a job as a scuba diver, will be noted in the job requirements. Also leave out personal interests and hobbies, unless your experience with them somehow...
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5.02.16
Making a Major Career Change: What I Wish I Knew Before
An office worker who became a baker. A sales executive who became a National Park ranger. An Army veteran who became a music agent. They all had different routes to success, but there are a few pieces of hard-earned wisdom they all offer to anyone thinking about switching to a radically different career.   1. Have a money cushion. Figure out how much savings you'll need, whether to start your own business, acquire necessary education or be unemployed while hunting for a position in your new field. And don't forget to allow for unexpected setbacks.   2. Make over your financial lifestyle. When people feel trapped in their current job, it's often because they need every penny of their income to support their debt and make-it-spend-it lifestyle. They just can't afford to take the lower pay that will come with starting over in a new career. Don't let this be you.   3. Do tons of research. A career may seem fun and glamorous from the outside, but what is it really like...
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4.25.16
The Most Important Part of Recruiting Is...
  ...what happens afterward. Because if your employee retention rate is low, your acquisition costs are going to be unacceptably high.   Turnover costs include not just recruiting and hiring, but also training and management time, reduced productivity and increased errors while the employee learns the ropes. Have you ever sat down and figured in cold, hard dollars and cents what those costs are for your business? Here's a handy calculating guide from the Center for American Progress to get you started:   Entry-level employees: 16 percent of annual salary Mid-level employees: 20 percent of annual salary High-level or highly specialized employees: 213 percent of annual salary   As you can see, if your new hires tend to leave within a year or two, you won't even break even, much less get a return on your investment in them. Then there are the factors that are more intangible, but no less costly, such as loss of motivation among the employees who stay.   So how can...
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4.18.16
5 Reasons to Get a Side Gig (that Aren't About the Money)
    Being a moonlighter, or even an unpaid volunteer, can bring you more rewards than you may realize. Here are some reasons to expand your employment horizons.   1. It looks great on your resume. A side job allows you to acquire experience that your main job doesn't. And if it's with a charitable or community organization, it shows that you are a well-rounded and caring individual — the kind that any hiring executives in your future will love.   2. It lets you test the waters. If you're thinking about a complete change of career direction, a side gig can give you a taste of what the field is like before you take the plunge.   3. It makes you more efficient. Having a second job forces you to manage your time better; there's just no other way to get everything done by the end of the day. This is a skill that will benefit your life both on and off the job.   4. It makes new connections. For building a successful career — or social life — you can never have...
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4.11.16
10 New Ways to Intro Your Email
  Dear Fill-in-the-Name,  This is to inform you that the above is the commonest email (and letter) opening in history. It's the safe choice ... but don't expect your reader to stay awake.    If it's just a courtesy note, you don't need it to instigate immediate attention or action. But in a business setting, you quite often do. Try one of these 10 options for making a more memorable connection:    1. Hi, Fill-in-the-Name  Creates an informal conversation with people you know well.    2. Good morning/afternoon  Somewhat more formal. Also a good dodge if you don't know the name or gender of the person you're emailing.    3. Just got your email  Tells the recipient that you are making him/her your top priority.    4. Here's the info you requested  Gets high readership because it's something the recipient wants to know about.    5. I have an update/news for you  Communicates that the email contains must-see information.    6. Checking in  For...
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4.04.16
How to Make the Most Out of a Boring Job
Even the most exciting jobs in the world have their boring aspects. (Athletes have to run drills. Brain surgeons have to do paperwork. Etc.) But what if your job is totally boring every minute of every day?    The easy answer would be to quit and look for a more interesting job. But if that's not an option right now, here are some things you can do to make that job at least somewhat more bearable.    1. Imagine how this job will look on your resume.  At some point you will add this position to your resume. What skills or experience will you highlight that could help you take the next step toward your career goal? Whatever they are, whether it's customer service, productivity rate or team support, find ways to achieve recognition in those areas from your current employer.     Why does it work? Keeping your eye on the prize and setting goals for those resume-oriented achievements gives your workday a new interest and purpose. (And it never hurts to keep your resume up to...
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3.28.16
3 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Interview
You thought you were well prepared. But once you got in there, you (and the interviewer too, no doubt) realized that some of your comments — or silences — showed a few bases you failed to cover.   1. I wish I knew more about the company. These days, you're expected to do some research on what the business does, who its customers and competitors are, and what sort of economic climate it's operating in at the moment. This will enable you to answer questions like, "How do you see yourself contributing to our company's success?" in a more relatable, solutions-oriented way. For example, you might highlight your experience with a technology you know the company has just implemented.   2. I wish I knew it was OK to ask questions. Don't just prepare answers. The interview is a two-way street and you need to learn whether you want to work there as much as they need to learn whether they want you. You both will be better assured of a good fit if you get a realistic picture of...
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3.21.16
Is Your Job Candidate Bluffing? 3 Ways to Find Out
Some people will fill their resumes and interview responses with whatever they think you want to hear, regardless of whether it's 100% true. They think you won't know the difference, but here's how to prove them wrong.   1. Background checks. We don't just mean criminal records. Also verify educational credentials and employment history; these are the two most common areas for "exaggerating," and even some of the nation's top executives have been guilty of it.   You can hire a service to do the checking for you. You can also do a little investigating on your own. See if a candidate's social media pages contain discrepancies: different schools, degrees or employment dates on different sites. Contact previous supervisors, not just the employer's HR department, for more honest reports of the individual's capabilities.   2. Real-world skills tests. It's easy for candidates to tick boxes on a list of job requirements. It's not so easy to demonstrate that they can actually...
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