GET TWICE AS MUCH WORK DONE ON THE JOB

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SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 6, 2013

You’re going to get twice as much work done at your job if you start thinking of your tasks as a set of problems to solve, instead of a list of responsibilities.

This is especially useful for tasks that are not in your immediate job description: think of these responsibilities as ongoing problems that you specifically tackle in your mind’s job description.

Let’s say you’re a counselor who helps low-income youth get into college. Your job is to teach these kids about the college process, but eventually you end up teaching the entire family.

Don’t think of this as just another responsibility to add to the myriad tasks you already have lined up, think of it as a problem that needs to be solved: “These families are not educated about the college process their children are going through, and since it’s part of my [mental] job description, it’s up to me to solve it.”

When you start to implement this way of thinking, instead of falling into the role of the generic employee just doing his daily grind, you become a successful problem solver on the job.

THE WAY YOU ARE AT HOME IS THE WAY YOU ACT ON THE JOB

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SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 6, 2013

Chris Christie, a conservative in the very blue state of New Jersey, got re-elected last week with 60% of the vote.

Fascinating, considering the majority of New Jerseyans don’t see eye to eye on many of his basic issues. He doesn’t, for example, want to raise the minimum wage, and he doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage. So how did Christie get such a large slice of voters on his side?

It’s simple. Christie knows exactly who he is. There’s no bullshit demarcating him: he’s the same guy on the job, in the public eye, as he is at home. He takes his strengths and weaknesses and leverages them. What can we take away from this?

You are the same person on the job as you are at home. Whatever you do at home—the good, the bad and the ugly—you play out in the office.

The problem is you think you act differently on the job. There is some imaginary “professional mask” you wear at work that you think you take off at home.

Those mannerisms that drive your partner or friend crazy, you’re bringing that into the workplace whether you know it or not.

Let’s say you and your partner sit down and watch an hour of TV, and it takes two hours to get through a one hour show because you keep getting up to do stuff like get a snack, check your phone or computer, or brush your teeth, so you’re constantly pausing the DVR. Your thoughts are scattered and distracted. This is exactly what you take to work, and although you’re more limited in how you sidestep your tasks, you still do it on the job without even realizing it.

The first step to mitigating the problem is becoming aware of the causal factors.

How exactly do you parse out your Achilles heel(s)? Assess yourself. Ask yourself, what are a few things that drive my partner/roommate/friend crazy? What’s that complaint they always have about me? This is what you’re likely taking with you to the job. Better yet, ask them what they think your quirks are.

For example, it’s your turn to take out the trash, walk the dog or clean the dishes, and your response is always the same: “I’ll do it in a minute.” Guess what? At work, you’re likely putting everything off till the last minute, until your tasks accumulate to a point where disaster is imminent.

Here’s how to systematically assess your problems, hone in on them and shoot them down before they manifest into something job-threatening:

1) Grab hold of someone who sees you on daily basis, or has known you for years, and get them to spill the beans on what annoys them the most. They might enjoy it.

2) Take a breath—don’t be stubborn and fold your arms at their response; think about how this may affect your performance at work.

3) Lose the attitude and start observing yourself on the job—catch your quirks before you have a chance act them out.

You don’t always want to hear the truth about yourself. But this is what will get you ahead in your career. Listen to what people are saying. Lose the grand delusion of separate home and work personas. These only serve to distract you from the small, quickly dismissed foibles that affect your job performance. Once you’re honest with yourself, once you drop the bullshit, you’re going to be more liked, more respected and more likely to get promoted.

FOUR BIG SIGNS YOU’RE GETTING LAID OFF

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 30, 2013

There are four major signs that you’re going to get laid off. If you notice any of these at your job, dust off your resume and update your LinkedIn page: hunting season is approaching.

1) Big projects are put on hold with no explanation. If that project everyone’s been focusing on in the office is put on hold, it probably means something fishy is going on at the company, and the next step may be downsizing.

2) Your boss, who used to float around the office all the time, is now constantly behind closed doors.

3) You’ve always gotten good performance reviews, and now, all of a sudden, you’re not getting any or you’re actually getting a bad one. If you didn’t change the way you do your job, or you’ve been a top performer until now, management is likely starting a paper trail. They are establishing the groundwork so that when it comes time to lay you off, they’ll have evidence of your “declining” performance.

4)  If you’re asked to train a colleague, especially if it’s a colleague that’s not in your group and has nothing to do with your job, you’re probably training your replacement.

Be on the lookout for these four big signs. Just as some people are always “camera-ready,” you should be job-ready. Brush up on your interview skills and always have a resume on hand; you never know who you’re going to meet.

THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT WORDS ON YOUR RESUME

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Uncle David has gotten every job he has ever gone for, so when he gives job-hunting advice, you better listen up. Join us every week for Uncle David’s 100% Successful Job Hunting Tip.

SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

People only read the first five or six words of each bullet point on your resume, so you got to make those words count.

Start your resume bullet point items with powerful words, such as “lead,”“created,” “initiated” and “designed.”

Instead of having a few giant block paragraphs for bullet points, you could easily break those up into multiple, eye-catching list items.

DON’T LINGER AFTER MAKING A CONNECTION

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

Whether you’re introducing two people for a blind date or making a professional connection, don’t linger after you’ve made the link. Move out of the way.

If you don’t think they’re smart enough to figure out how to work together, how to hang out together, how to love together, you shouldn’t have put them together in the first place.

Make the connection and step away.

WHY CUTTING OFF YOUR RECRUITER TOO QUICKLY IS A BAD IDEA

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

There’s this misconception going around that recruiters are just the matchmakers. Job hunters assume that once recruiters get you connected to the job and set you up with the interview, you should break off communication and direct any follow-up questions to the hiring manager.

That’s actually a really bad decision. Why? Because the hiring manager is going to think you’re unprofessional. He’s going to wonder why he’s hired this recruiter in the first place. And, of course, the recruiter will think you’re trying to circumvent him and hold him back from his commission.

Case in point, you’re going to get disliked from both sides, you’re going to lose that recruiting relationship and you’re going to lose the job because the hiring manager won’t trust you anymore.

Don’t abdicate communication once you’re through the door; the recruiter’s there to guide you through the hiring process.

And that goes both ways: if the hiring manager starts to go around the recruiter, you know there’s a problem. You don’t want to be playing with people who don’t play by the rules of the game.

Happy hunting!

CHOOSE YOUR FOOTWEAR WISELY

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Uncle David has gotten every job he has ever gone for, so when he gives job-hunting advice, you better listen up. Join us every week for Uncle David’s 100% Successful Job Hunting Tip. 

SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

If you want to get the job you have to look the part. And a major component of that part is footwear.

We’ve been told our whole lives that shoes make the man, but for some of us the message just hasn’t resonated very strongly. After all, who’s going to look down at your feet?

Well, your employer is. Shoes that stand out because they’re either too raggedy or don’t match your outfit are not only an eyesore, they give off a bad message to employers.

One pair we’d like to call out in particular today are Prada’s sneaker-esque solid-black shoes.

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If your footwear has rubber soles and looks like a pair of glorified tennis shoes, it shouldn’t be worn to a job interview, no matter how good the suit looks.

The way the employer sees it is that, since you didn’t think things through from head to toe for the job interview, you’re not going to think things through on the job itself.

Yeah. we’re gaga for having good looking footwear at work, and that’s because shoes are likely the most worthwhile investment you can make in terms of wardrobe: they catch employers’ eyes and look great with a variety of suits and even denims. They’re an essential tool in your job hunting arsenal.

FREELANCERS: REACH OUT TO YOUR EMPLOYERS

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2013

This is for the freelancers.

Stop magically thinking the places where you get your assignments from will reach out and contact you. You need to check in with them.

If you cease to be on their radar, they will stop hiring you and move on to the next freelancer.

Don’t get too secure in your position; there’s always someone else knocking on the door.

MAKE YOUR RESUME LOOK SOPHISTICATED

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Uncle David has gotten every job he has ever gone for, so when he gives job-hunting advice, you better listen up. Join us every week for Uncle David’s 100% Successful Job Hunting Tip.

SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 9, 2013

They say the job god is in the details, and that includes something as minute as the spacing between the letters in your resume. It’s these little differences that make you stand out from everybody else.

Here’s how to increase the character spacing in Word and make you resume look more sophisticated and elegant.

You know those section titles you have, “Experience,” “Education,” etc.? We’ll be focusing on that today.

Right click the section title and choose “Font…”

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Next go to the “Advanced” tab (note: this is if you’re using Word 2010; Word 2007 will say “Character Spacing.” In the “Spacing:” drop-down menu, select the “Expanded” option and in the “By:” drop-down menu directly to the left, type the number “2″ in place of the “1,” and leave the “pt” alone.

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And here is the result:

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STOP FOLLOWING THE SCRIPT AT YOUR JOB

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SHOW DATE: SEPTEMBER 18, 2013

We’ve been obsessed with a recording of a customer service call that’s gone viral.

A guy called his security company’s customer service line after the service technician failed to show up for his appointment. When he tried calling to reschedule the appointment, he was scuttled around the system from person to person for three hours, growing more and more impatient, until finally his anger culminated into the following—admittedly hilarious—diatribe:

Our first reaction was to tip our hats to the rep. He remained calm and composed, despite the man’s banshee-screeches and threats of gun violence. Then we noticed the systematic pattern of the rep’s speech. Yeah, he was following a robotic script, but that’s his job, right?

Exactly. That’s the rep’s job, that’s what he’s supposed to do—the requirements, the minimum. You can see where we’re going with this and how this can be a big problem in the long run. We’re all about playing big at Job Talk, and this rep—no matter how placid—still only aimed for the lowest common denominator—he stuck to the script through and through. What this ultimately translates to is that he was afraid to try something different.

Okay, now imagine if the rep had said, “Wow, I totally get where you’re coming from,” or, “Sir, I’m sorry, that sounds horrible.” Not once did he say something genuine or empathetic, he never stopped to actually listen to the customer. The rep should have tossed the script and responded from the heart. Instead, he regurgitated lines like a robot, infuriating the customer even more.

If you stick to the minimum, you’re not getting anywhere—you’re not getting more money and you’re not getting a promotion. Two things will happen if you keep sticking to the script: you’re either going keep your job and wear that headset for your entire career, or you’re going to get fired because eventually management is going find someone who can do better. And that’s not very hard when all you’re doing is going through the motions.

You follow scripts in all aspects of your life, not just on your job. There are major scripts that you process in your head to make life easier: “I’ll be the nice guy so people won’t yell at me,” or, “I’m going to be the tough guy so people don’t see how I really feel.” These are the scripts you follow to stay under the radar, to stay safe and hidden. You can always fall back on your “minimum” requirements: “I was just being who I was,” or, “I was just doing my job.”

But in this economy, doing no more and no less than your job description just won’t cut it. Eventually, you will have to get off the script, whether it’s your boss’s or your own, and think bigger.

Here are three simple guidelines to help you start thinking outside your daily scripts:

Understand your responsibilities: This applies directly to millennials. It’s what Auntie Evan calls the “Millennial Deserve,” that stuff that seeps out of most college grad’s pores as soon as they enter the work force, that putrid stink of “I should be getting more important work,” and, “I don’t need to do these minor tasks because I’m way too educated.” You deserve nothing—you don’t have the broad skillset and you don’t have the experience to back up the entitlement. Your boss smells that stink from a mile away. Prove that you have the fundamentals covered. Do the menial, “uneducated” tasks well and beat him to the punch by asking him if he needs anything first. Only then can you begin to think of tearing up that script. 

Stop flying under the radar: For most employees, their modus operandi in work and in life is to act a certain way to get by life unnoticed. Most employees don’t like attention and would rather play it safe by following their assigned scripts verbatim. And, granted, you must perform your script well before you do anything to change it. The script is there to help with your job responsibilities, whatever they may be. It’s a launching pad, it gives structure and foundation. But it’s not a permanent fixture. If you limit yourself to the bare minimum just so you won’t have to confront any challenges, you’re limiting yourself in life and in your career; you’re condemning yourself to a life you don’t love.

Inject creativity into your script: The problem with the customer service rep was that he was so disconnected from the customer that his responses appeared robotic. While you can’t always take things personally, there must always remain a human element. When you inject creativity into your script by listening to what’s happening around you and react accordingly, you start to get noticed. Take some stuff from your personal life and utilize it: when talking to a customer, try using some of the phrases you use with your best friend. Going the extra mile gets you notices, and gets you in line for more money and promotions.