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Showing posts from August, 2012

Great, Now Companies Don't Even Want To Interview You In Person

I hope you own a relatively new computer with up-to-date video software, because there's a 6 in 10 chance that your next job interview will be conducted via video. Let's get ready for our 15 minutes! A new OfficeTeam HR manager survey reveals almost two-thirds are conducting job interviews over a video connection. And it could get worse for job applicants, because 13% of companies surveyed said they're likely to do even more online job interviewing over the next three years. Cue The Buggles. OfficeTeam offers job applicants quick tips for acing an online interview. Dress like you're going to a real job interview. Check. Test your video connection before the interview starts, preferably by doing a trial run the day before with a friend. Check. Treat it like a real job interview. Check. Sit in a cheerful, well-lit room with nice background scenery instead of beaming in from your dank basement dungeon. Check. Sit up, speak up, and look up into the camera. Oh God, I shou…

We Now Interrupt With A Shout Out To Our Loud Co-Workers

IS YOUR CO-WORKER WAY TOO LOUD ALL THE TIME? It's a truism of the workplace that you'll eventually work with someone who can be heard across a crowded aircraft carrier. Oh, our bleeding ears. You're trying to get some work done, but all you can hear is your voluminous co-worker "yalking," or yell-talking. This employee's speaker definitely goes up to 11. Or 12. Or 20. The knob must be broken too, because he or she seems unable to control his or her volume levels. No matter how many times you politely ask this co-worker to pipe down, he or she never does. No, this co-worker just keeps right on talking. Or yalking. Loudly. You're starting to wonder if even the elephants can hear the sonorous siren song of this cacophonous co-worker. One thing is for sure, though: This real-life Loud Howard is really starting to get on your nerves. This topic is on my mind because we've been working all summer with our children on volume control. They both have big v…

Is Your Company Ready For A Natural Disaster?

As we learn that Hurricane Isaac has breached the levees of New Orleans comes a reminder that September is National Preparedness Month. September starts Saturday. Let's start preparing. FEMA sponsors National Preparedness Month each September to "encourage Americans to make sure they are prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities." NPM is a good opportunity to review your personal and corporate disaster plans (you do have them, right?) because things change. If your corporate disaster checklist states that Jim was supposed to turn out the lights ahead of a hurricane but Jim got laid off two years ago, then you have a problem. And that's just one simple example.Ready.gov is a great resource for disaster-planning tips. You can't plan for every contingency, but you can plan ahead. An out-of-date (or non-existent) disaster plan can cost companies dearly: FEMA estimates 40% of small businesses never re-open following a natural d…

Being the Office Reject Can Be Good For Your Career

Are you an independent-minded person who feels rejected by your co-workers because you're a little bit different around the edges? Buck up, edgy one, because a new study finds that rejection is actually fueling your creativity and making you an asset to the employer. Yay! A study by Johns Hopkins University business professor Sharon Kim concludes co-worker scorn can be a good thing if you're naturally an independent thinker who is very comfortable in his or her own skin:"For people who already feel separate from the crowd, social rejection can be a form of validation," says Johns Hopkins Carey Business School assistant professor Sharon Kim, the study's lead author. "Rejection confirms for independent people what they already feel about themselves, that they're not like others. For such people, that distinction is a positive one leading them to greater creativity." However, the opposite is true for employees who desperately want to fit in with thei…

50 Ways To Look Busy At Work When There's Nothing To Do

Just in time for Labor Day Weekend comes a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report that reveals more than one-third of Americans who lost their jobs between 2009-2011 lost said jobs because there wasn't enough work to do. Hey buddy, do you have a project you can spare?In the Great Recession, the demand for projects has been greater than the supply. According to BLS, 30% of the 6.1 million long-term employed who lost their jobs between 2009-2011 did so because their job position or shift disappeared; 31% lost their jobs because the plant or company closed or moved; and 40% lost or left their jobs due to "insufficient work," otherwise known as "I guess I'll look for something to re-file."Which begs the question we're not really asking: How do you look busy at work when there's nothing to do?Busy hands are happy hands, so let's talk about busy work! The possibilities of the modern workplace are endless, really, but let's just focus on 50 of them.…

Are the Millennials Really That Technology Savvy?

I don't know why, but the themes of the week have been social media, smartphones and the Millennials. It's late August, there's nothing going on except for a hurricane that might ruin next week's Republican Convention, and no one introduces new products until September. So let's talk about the Millennials again, shall we? The Millennials have been on my mind this week after reading a Washington Post story about how they'll make the workplace better for everyone. The author seems to be saying that the Millennials and Gen Y are one and the same, but I thought they were different groups? Anyway, it doesn't matter because these kids are total phenoms when it comes to technology. The media tell us it is so: A Google News search of the term "Millennials technology savvy" pulled up 1,100 results in 0.25 seconds. Stand back, gray hairs, and let the Millennials show you how it's done. But how does the younger generation define "technology" …

BYOD Workers Are Working An Extra 20 Hours Per Week Unpaid

On the heels of my earlier post about who should pay for the BYOD (bring your own device) trend comes a new iPass Mobile Workforce Report that tells us BYOD employees are working an extra 20 hours per week unpaid. Maybe BYOD should stand for "be your own demise"? The report is based on a survey of 1,200 "mobile enterprise workers" and proceeds to throw us a curve ball: Employees don't mind putting in all of this extra, non-paid time because they get more flexibility in return! Hello? But wait, there's more! Nearly one-fifth of the employees iPass surveyed (18%) are footing their own mobile data bills this year compared to 12% last year. Have smartphone, will put in loads of extra, unpaid work time while paying for your own work-related calls, emails and text messages. In addition, iPass reports that 43% of mobile workers have incurred an expensive data roaming bill in the last twelve months. Damn you, data roaming! Of course, the Millennials who are driv…

You Did What!? Contractor Talks About the Worst Job At Google

Google has a reputation as a great place to work, but not all of its jobs are awesome and come with a side of organic arugula, apparently. A former company contractor has spilled the beans on what could be one of the worst jobs anywhere.
see more epicfails This contractor spent a year tracking down and watching the worst of the worst, dark content on the web that might pop up anywhere in Google's growing product line. This content included everything from necrophilia to decapitations and all things in-between. He estimates he was scanning upwards of 15,000 gross, disturbing, just-look-away images every day. Hey, someone has to do it to keep it away from the rest of us while we're Google searching for shoes and cute cat videos. Needless to say, the endless stream of disturbing images got to him after awhile and he says that he needed therapy. Worst of all, he claims that Google wouldn't hire him on as a full-time employee when the time came to decide. Anyway, if you think…

Should the Boss Pay You To Use Your Own Smartphone?

There's something we're not really talking about as our work culture goes BYOD (bring your own device) and walks obliviously down the sidewalk right into a utility pole: Who should foot the phone bill? It's a good question, and it's on the minds of federal employees who are being encouraged to give up their government-issued phones to use their personal phones instead. But they're reluctant to give up their government-issued phones, because who is going to pay the phone bill? From the Federal Times:Federal employees are gradually using their own smartphones and tablets for work. But few, if any, are getting reimbursed for that cost. As a result, many feds with government-issued smartphones are reluctant to give them up. But that may soon change. As early as this week, the administration will be issuing guidance on how to launch and promote "bring your own device" — or BYOD — programs, in which employees agree to use their own smartphones and tablets t…

Low Pay Tops U.S. Workers' List Of Worries

American employees aren't as afraid of losing their jobs anymore, but they sure are worried about their plummeting pay rates in relation to the ever-increasing cost of living. Hey, can we get some COLA around here? Employers are apparently dishing out fewer cost of living adjustments if you buy into the results of the annual Work Stress Survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College. Employed women are almost twice as likely as employed men to pick low pay as their number-one work stress, and women are also more likely to feel like they're stuck in the wrong career. Doing work you hate and getting paid less for it isn't a great combination, ladies. You'll need to step up your game and finally ask for a raise or start looking for a new job in the career field of your dreams. Or maybe you need to become self-employed? Otherwise, you'll just go home and take out your work frustrations on the ones you love. It's not really about the mess some…

Sick Of Your Co-worker's Cell Phone? Try This Contest

The land of my ancestors sure knows how to hold strange contests. From world air guitar championships to wife-carrying contests, Finland has competitive weirdness down to an art form. The Finns even host an annual cell phone-throwing contest. Well geez, haven't we all wanted to throw someone else's cell phone before? Casting aside our memories of all the rude people who have taken a call in the middle of a crowded or quiet ____________ (I'll let you fill in your own blanks), let me just say that this cell phone-throwing stuff is taken very seriously because the Finns tend to be oddly-serious people about solo, endurance-riddled competitions. (Biathlon and cross country skiing, anyone?) Finland has been hosting the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships for twelve, uninterrupted years. We're talking a lot of broken Nokia phones here. This year, a Finn named Ere Karjalainen smashed both his phone, and the world record, with a throw of 101.46 meters. Now that's ph…

Mr. Or Ms.? How To Handle Unisex Names In the Internet Age

I opened an email from a public relations rep the other day and was going to read it. Then I realized that the sender had addressed me as "Mr./Ms. [surname]" and I stopped reading.Like anyone who goes by a unisex name and happens to get email, I've dealt with many people over the years who mistake my gender. After all, "Chris" can swing either way. And so they guess. Incorrectly. Of course, they do have a 50/50 chance of being right, which betters the odds considerably.However, it's Murphy's Law of the business world that if you try to guess someone's gender while composing an email, then you're almost certain to choose the wrong one.I think being addressed as "Mr./Ms. [surname]" is my all-time favorite of the gender-guessing wars, because it's just so damn lazy. It's almost as if the sender is saying: I don't know what the hell gender you are based on your first name and doing a quick Google search to find out is too much …

Fewer Americans Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Do you still have some month left at the end of the money? If you're finding you can make it through the month without dipping into your dwindling savings or hitting up the parental ATM, then you're right on trend with a new CareerBuilder survey that says fewer Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. 40% of 3,800 full-time U.S. employees told CareerBuilder that they "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck. It's a 2% decrease over last year, and a 6% drop since the heady Top Ramen days of 2008 when 46% of employees said they were living paycheck to paycheck. Women -- by nearly a 10% margin, no less -- are more likely to be cash-poor: 44% of female employees surveyed report living paycheck to paycheck, compared to 36% of male employees. Why is this? CareerBuilder doesn't tell us, but 23% of employees surveyed say they're not living paycheck to paycheck and can buy whatever they need throughout the month. And the more money an employee earns, the…

Has the Great Recession Stripped You Of Fear?

How has the Great Recession changed our outlook on work? It's a conversation we're not really having, but should. And soon. A mid-40s fellow I've known for years re-entered the full-time workforce recently after three years of gut-wrenching, full-time unemployment. He works in the construction sector, which as we all know collapsed like a flan in a cupboard after the housing meltdown. I offered my congratulations when he told me the good news, the smile on his face expanding as he excitedly told me about his new gig, his great co-workers, and how it almost didn't seem real to be back at work after so long on the sidelines. Then he said something I wasn't expecting. "This time around, I'm going to be a lot smarter about how I work," he told me. Before the Great Recession, he would take on any project thrown at him, no matter the deadline pressure or the time of day. That was then, this is now. If he can't possibly make something happen by two ho…

What's In Your Closet? Old Work Clothes Bring Back Memories

We've been doing our spring cleaning in the summer, and now we're focusing on paring down our clothing collections. Too bad we can't seem to throw anything away. Actually, if I may brag a bit, I've done a pretty decent job of whittling down my closet -- at least enough to get the majority of my wardrobe out of 1995 and into 2010. Like many people, it can be hard for me to say goodbye to clothes, but I tell myself that someone else will enjoy having them more. Yes, Goodwill: I would like a receipt. Thanks. My spouse, on the other hand, can't seem to part with items in his over-stuffed closet ranging from his voluminous collection of 1990s Big Dogs t-shirts to his dusty scuba diving kit from college. He doesn't use them anymore, but he keeps them because...well, why is that? Just donate it already! So I was feeling pretty good -- if not downright cocky -- about my overall chuck rate when I reached into the back of my side of the closet to touch a rather tall, …

Whaaat!? How To Handle Verbal Gaffes At Work

Mitt Romney introduces the next President of the United States, someone gets shot out of a cannon during the Closing Ceremonies in London, and Jennifer Aniston is marrying some guy named Justin. And how was your weekend? In other news, Google lets slip about its death benefit policy where the spouses or domestic partners of departed employees continue to collect 50% of the deceased's salary annually for the next ten years, but let's not talk about Google's totally awesome death benefits. It's simply too depressing, especially in this economy, and we want to enjoy the rest of the summer. Way to go, Google, for making every other company feel like a tightwad cheapskate, though. Again. Should we talk about the CDC warning that the United States is on the verge of an antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea epidemic? That will be fun to deal with at work, especially with a survey finding many managers still can't manage, but no. Let's not go there, either. So what's l…

Here "She" Comes: Use Of Feminine Pronouns Skyrockets

Do you tend to use masculine or feminine pronouns in your writing when you have a choice? My English teachers always said to use the masculine pronoun "he" by default because, well, that's just what they told me to do. I hope they have since retired, because "he" is starting to get the heave-ho in favor of "she." And how. Three university researchers scanned nearly 1.2 million texts in the Google Books archive to study the use of gender-related pronouns between 1900 and 2008. The study concludes the "he-she" gap in books has narrowed considerably since the 1960s. "She" is booking to the front of the literary line and she's not looking back. She will no longer be confined to female-oriented writing scenarios. She's letting "her" and "herself" cut in line, too. Here she comes, and there she goes. But what about the workplace? Is "she" overtaking many a hypothetical example in memos, PowerPoi…

Are the Long-Term Unemployed Being Too Picky?

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Columbia University, and New York University has an intervention-style message for the long-term unemployed: Stop being so damn picky, will you? The economists who authored the report seem to think the long-term unemployed are not unlike the obnoxious people on reality teevee dating shows who maintain a very high opinion of themselves and can't find a life partner because no one is ever perfect enough for them. As the Washington Postreports:Here's one explanation for our stubbornly high unemployment rate: A construction worker gets laid off and spends months looking for more construction work, rather than readjust his expectations and acquire new skills to find work in, say, the health-care industry, which has experienced steady growth throughout the recession. It's what economists describe as as a "mismatch" between job openings and those seeking unemployment, and some argue that it's responsible for w…

Workplace Trends: Emotional Surveillance Systems

Forget emoticons, people. Technologists have created an "emotional surveillance system" that allows management to track employees' trending emotions. All I can say is :(-. Microsoft's social networking platform Yammer now includes a feature that captures and averages the emotions in employees' online postings so management can see how morale is trending today. They are happy! They are sad. They are angry! They are content. They are hot 'n cold and changing their minds like a girl changes clothes! As Technologyreview.com reports: The feature, called Crane, was developed by startup Kanjoya, which makes software that does the emotion recognition and logging, with close collaboration with Yammer. Once the feature is switched on for a company's Yammer network, it offers managers a view of the "trending emotions" within a company, using a line graph to show the level of excitement, confusion, and other feelings over time. The topics or words most of…

Social Media Leave Us With A Hairy Situation

Gymnast Gabby Douglas wins an Olympic gold medal, but everyone wants to talk about her hair. Rocket scientists beat the odds to land a new rover on Mars, but everyone wants to talk about one scientist's super-cool mohawk. Okay, I give up. Let's talk about hair! What strikes me about these two very public cases of hair obsession is how they've managed to overshadow the main accomplishment of winning a gold medal and landing on Mars, respectively. I mean, sticking the landing in both cases is a big f*&^%$g deal, as Vice President Joe Biden might say. Have we actually reached the point where we're focused more on a hairstyle instead of the actual achievement? We seem to be missing the forest for the trees here, or the follicle for the hair to stay on theme. Sure, most of us aren't going to light up Twitter thanks to our luscious locks or lack thereof, but all kinds of recent articles are going on and on about the "dos and don'ts" of workplace hair…

Australian Court: Social Media Pages Are Ads

Is Facebook primarily a communication platform or an advertising platform? An Australian court has ruled that it's one, big advertisement and that companies, their employees, and third parties had better start making sure their comments are non-offensive and are -- shudders! -- factually accurate. According to the Sydney Morning Herald:A RULING that Facebook is an advertising medium - and not just a way to communicate - will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate. In a move that could change the nature of the social networking site forever, companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook "brand" pages. Last month the advertising industry watchdog issued a judgment in which it said comments made by "fans" of a vodka brand's Facebook page were ads and must therefore comply with industry self-regulatory codes, and therefore consumer protec…

Ready For Your 15 Minutes Of Reality TV Fame?

Do you hate going to work these days? Has your office become one dramarama after another? Do you think your boss could use a few management pointers? Would you like to appear on a reality teevee show? If you've answered "yes" to all four questions, an award-winning television production company wants to hear from you! It's putting together a teevee pilot about employees working in "challenging" work environments, and it's seeking real-life employees who are at their wits' end either because of office disorganization, a challenging boss, or a dysfunctional work environment. To be considered, please email fix my office 2012 @ gmail. com (please remove the spaces) and be sure to include the following deets: * Your full name, occupation, and city/state of residence; * Your length of time with your current employer, and your current position; * An explanation of your work challenges, including examples of bad behavior and how you would like to see yo…

Study Reveals How Commuters Avoid Each Other

Do you find yourself trying to avoid your fellow commuters on the way to work? Take heart in your five-foot-radius of personal alienation because your fellow commuters are busy trying to avoid you as well, and a new study tells us how. Let's all put on our headphones and look down at our smartphones together! It's really no secret that commuters want desperately to avoid each other, but how are we making it happen on planes, on trains and in carpool lane-designated automobiles? A Sociology graduate student at Yale University bought a bus ticket and racked up thousands of frequent rider miles to find out for us. She observed her fellow passengers and asked them questions to learn their tactics of total avoidance. So...what did she learn after months and months of note-taking? First, there are the obvious strategies we commuters employ, such as checking our phones, pretending to sleep, going through our bags to avoid eye contact (hmm, where did I put my granola bar...), and d…

Paranoia About Being Sabotaged Makes Co-workers Sabotage You

Think your co-workers are out to get you? Well, if you keep talking about it, they will be. The University of British Columbia tells us something we've always suspected but needed a study for reassurance: anxious employees who always walk around the office trying to figure out if they're being sabotaged and snubbed by their co-workers will eventually start getting sabotaged and snubbed by their co-workers. Geez, dude! We're not out to get you, okay? Actually, you're getting so freaking annoying that I've changed my mind. Don't invite him to lunch with us! In the end, the anxious employee becomes what he or she fears most: a target for ridicule who is not invited to Subway with the rest of the gang. So what's the answer to this age-old workplace problem? Never, ever claim that you're a victim of a co-worker's evil, passive-aggressive, underhanded ways. Just suck it up and keep it to yourself, even if it's really happening. Hey, don't get m…