Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Follow Up Even When You Didn't Get the Job!

What do you do when you are turned down for a job?  Do you give a sad sigh and move on to the next application, or do you follow up with the employer and try to build on the connection?  Getting passed up for a job shouldn't be an ending; it should be a beginning.  This employer was so impressed with you that they were willing to take the time to meet you.  Make them part of your network and let them get to know you so that they can see that you would be an asset to their organization.     

Form long term relationships.  Networking is one of the most effective ways to grow your career and the best way to build your network is one contact at a time.  When you meet an employer at an interview, you have the opportunity to let them see what you bring to the table.  You never know; they may even refer you to someone in their network who is looking for applicants with your skill set.

Make an impression.  When most people figure out that they didn't get the job, they quietly disappear.  When you are disappointed and feel rejected, it is easier to avoid the situation and move on.  However, by taking a different approach, you make yourself stand out from the crowd.  Thank the employer for the interview and let them know that you would love to keep in touch.  You told them that you are passionate about their company; let them see that you meant what you said.  Even if they decided that you aren't the best fit for the job at this time, they may have the perfect opportunity for you at some point in the future.    

Get valuable feedback.  If you have a conversation with them, many employers will be willing to provide you with feedback about how you performed at the interview.  They may even tell you why they decided to go with the other candidate.  This feedback is valuable because it is a rare opportunity to see yourself from the employer's perspective.  When you get this information, you can make the necessary adjustments and be ready for your next interview.

As a job seeker you need to develop a thick skin.  You can't afford to get insulted when a hiring decision doesn't go your way.  Instead be professional, hold your head high, and turn that rejection into an opportunity.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stock Images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Stand Out By Being Polite

Have you ever met someone who is impeccably polite?  They truly are a delight to be around.  When you boil it right down, politeness is simply being aware of and respecting the feelings of others.  By having good manners, you can make yourself more likable to everyone that you meet.  Here are some tips that will help you take your politeness to the next level.

Say hello.  People love to be acknowledged.  By smiling and saying hi to people when you see them, you are telling them that they matter to you.

Be considerate.  Pay attention to people when they talk to you.  Learn about their interests and the names of their spouse and children.  Respect their roles and duties and do what you can to make their day easier.

Dress appropriately.  Don't wear revealing clothing or dress too casually for work.  Practice good hygiene- take a shower and brush your teeth.  It's not polite to force your colleagues to hold their nose when they talk to you.

Remember the basics.  Words like please, thank you and excuse me still carry a lot of weight.  By minding your manners you will leave people with the right impression.

Be sensitive.  It is important that you are respectful of people's differences such as gender, race, religion and politics.  Always make an effort to include everyone and never make derogatory or potentially inflammatory statements.

Usually it's the rude behaviour that stands out, but if you are consistently polite you will find that doors tend to open up for you.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Things Not to Do on Your First Day of Work

Yay!  All your work has finally paid off!  You got the job!  Now you all you have to do is keep it!  You need to impress your manager right from the beginning.  You definitely don't want to start out on the wrong foot.  Here are some things that you should never do on your first day on the job:

Keep to yourself.  Your coworkers are making quick judgements about who you are and how you will fit in with the team.  Learn as many names as you can and make an effort to get to know the people you will be working with.

Talk too much.  You need to start building relationships, but don't forget that you're the new kid in town.  Keep a fairly low profile until you have a deeper understanding of the organizational culture.

Join in on office politics.  Workplace dynamics can be complicated.  If you allow yourself to be drawn into office politics, you will almost definitely regret it.  As a new employee (who is probably on probation) you do not want to be fighting someone else's battles.  Be friendly and professional to everyone and just stay out of it. 

Criticize anything.  When you're learning the office procedures, you may be tempted to chime in with complaints or ideas of how things can be improved.  Don't do it.  As a new employee, your job is to listen and learn.  After you've worked with the company for a while and gained some credibility, people will be more willing to listen to you. 

Take too many breaks.  Your manager and coworkers are watching you more closely than you might realize.  Make sure that you give them the right impression.  Don't take any more breaks than you are entitled to and don't answer your cell phone or send text messages while you are supposed to be working.

When it comes right down to it, the key is to behave professionally at all times.  If you're not sure if you should be doing something, you probably shouldn't.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/Freedigitalphotos.net)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Do Your Work Friends Help You or Hurt You?

It is important for you to build relationships with your coworkers.  However, you need to make sure that these friendships don't do you more harm than good.  Do you often find yourself getting into trouble when you are with your work friends?  If so, then it is probably a good indication that you need to change your behaviour.  Here are some tips that will help you to connect with your coworkers without getting on your manager's bad side.

Save your long chats for lunch time.

When there is work to be done, you shouldn't be spending a lot of time chatting.  Nobody is willing to pay you to goof around, so if you are wasting time, you manager may decide that you are an unnecessary expense.

Always maintain your professionalism.

When you are with your work buddies, it is a lot easier to misbehave.  While there is nothing wrong with having a few laughs with your coworkers, you do need to keep it professional.  If your manager has spoken to you about professionalism in the past, it's a good sign that you need to take it down a notch.

Be friendly to everyone.

Once you've formed strong relationships with your coworkers, there is a temptation to stick with them to the exclusion of everyone else.  The problem with this approach is that it leaves people out.  We all know what it feels like to be on the outside looking in.  Instead, make an effort to include everyone and build a positive working environment.

Don't lose focus.

You are there to do a job.  Never forget that.  Make yourself aware of how your employer will be measuring your performance and prioritize your tasks accordingly.  When it comes right down to it, the employer doesn't really care about your social life at work.  What they really want to know is, "Are you doing your job?"

When you have friends at work, it makes your job a lot more fun.  You have someone you can laugh with and someone you can vent to when you're frustrated.  Just make sure that these friendships are positively affecting your job and that they are not dragging you down.  

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What to Do in Your First 3 Months of Work

Typically when you start a job, your first three months of work are considered to be a probationary period.  During this time, your employment can be terminated for any reason.  The employer can use this period to determine whether or not you are the best fit for the job.  Here are some tips that will help you make the right impression:

Understand the requirements of the position.

To be successful, you need to know exactly what you are required to do.  Make yourself aware of your manager's priorities and understand what measures will be used to evaluate your performance.  It is essential that you are focusing your energy on the right tasks.

Learn about the organizational culture.

In your first few months of work, you should be spending most of your time listening.  Every workplace has its own set of values and expectations so it is important that you familiarize yourself with them.  As you better understand the organizational culture, it will be easier for you to demonstrate that you are a good fit for the job.

Reach out to your coworkers.

While you may feel that you don't have time to chat, now it is more important than ever that you build strong relationships with your coworkers.  Eat your lunch in the lunchroom and make an effort to get to know them.  Your coworkers can help you perform well in your job and your manager will be watching to see how well you fit in with the team.

Work harder than is required.

This is one of the moments in your life when you need to make an impression.  Your employer is trying to make up their mind about you and they are using your work performance as a gauge.  Spend this time going above and beyond the call of duty.  Show your employer that you are grateful for this opportunity and that hiring you was the right decision.

Stay out of office politics.

You won't be the new kid in town for long before people start lobbying you.  There are politics at every workplace and everyone will want you on their side.  Don't let yourself get sucked into it.  As a new employee, the last thing that you want to be doing is fighting someone else's battles.  Be respectful and friendly to everybody but don't get too involved.

Now that you have a job, you may be tempted to take it easy.  While it's true that the hardest part is over, you still need to be vigilant about your performance at work.  Don't let yourself develop bad habits; sometimes it's the little things that  cause an employer to give up on you.  

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stock ImagesFreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Do's and Don'ts for Wearing a Halloween Costume at Work

Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year and it can be a lot of fun to celebrate with your co-workers.  Many workplaces encourage their employees to wear their costumes to work but if you do, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Keep it appropriate.  Even though it's Halloween, you are still at work.  Don't choose a costume that is sexy or offensive.

Make sure that everyone else is dressing up.  You never want to be the only one.

Don't choose a costume that makes it difficult for you to work.  Remember that you are there to do a job.

Don't go over the top.  This is not the best way to stand out at work. 

Put candy out on your desk.  You never know when you might encounter trick-or-treaters!

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photos by: Stuart Miles and David Castillo Domonici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Build Up a Social Network

To get any real benefit from social media, you need to build up a strong network of friends, followers or contacts (depending on which site you are using.)  It can feel a bit pointless when you first sign up and only have four followers, one of which is your mom.  Don't let that get you down.  If you are diligent and strategic, you may quickly find that you know more people on social media than you do in real life.  Here are some tips that will help you build up a strong following:

Friend other people.  This is the quickest way to get contacts.  Often if you follow someone they will return the favour which gives you access to a fresh new group of people.

Be consistent.  To capture interest, you need to regularly post new material.  If people often visit your site only to find that there are no new updates, they will quickly lose interest in you.  Make sure that you post on each of your social media sites at least a few times each week.

Interact.  The real value in social media is the relationships that you are able to form.  You are not supposed to use it as a pulpit to preach from.  Take the time to comment on other posts and to respond to the comments that you receive.  The spirit of reciprocity is key on social media.  If you support your contacts by retweeting and sharing their posts, they will likely do the same for you. 

Be relevant.  It's great that you went to the gym this morning, but the blunt truth is that nobody cares.  If you want people to invest their precious time into reading your posts then give them something that they actually want.  Think about who you would like to read your posts and find articles and quips that would appeal to them. 

Be interesting.  Have you ever scrolled down your wall on Facebook or Twitter only to see the same article fifteen times?  Don't post stuff that has already gone stale.  Do a bit of digging and try to find something that is new and interesting.  You will definitely attract people if you do something unexpected.

When using social media as a job search tool, you need to create a strategy.  You don't have to write out every post ahead of time, but you should have a rough idea of what type of content you will be posting.  Social media can either be a useful tool or a dangerous time trap; by having a plan in place you can ensure that you use it to your advantage.  

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: VladoFreeDigitalPhotos.net)