Keppie Careers http://www.keppiecareers.com Social media speaker, social media consultant, job search coach Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:30:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 How to work your office holiday party http://www.keppiecareers.com/office-holiday-party/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/office-holiday-party/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:30:54 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11086 If you’re gainfully employed, this time of the year likely means you are obligated to attend at least one company holiday party. Now is the time to prepare. Why should you care? Jessica Hagy, author of How to Be Interesting...

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file000668442186If you’re gainfully employed, this time of the year likely means you are obligated to attend at least one company holiday party. Now is the time to prepare. Why should you care? Jessica Hagy, author of How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps), and the blog “Indexed,” notes, “Interesting people build social capital, which is another way of saying that they’re valued by others. Interesting people are befriended, hired and retained far more easily than their boring counterparts.” You don’t want to be considered boring, so prepare to conquer the holiday party.

How can you make the most of the office holiday party – an opportunity many would prefer to avoid – and be sure it helps, instead of hurts, your chances to move ahead with your career goals? Hagy provides these tips to help you navigate the sometimes treacherous holiday party landscape.

1. Be aware of gender bias. According to Hagy, “If you are female, nothing is more socially disastrous as being perceived as haughty and aloof. If you’re male, being thought of as an awkward loner is equally devastating.” Whether or not this is fair, perceptions often follow people and influence their opportunities. If you tend to be on the quiet side, you may want to make an extra effort to step out of your comfort zone and talk to people so you are not unfairly labeled as disinterested or rude.

2. Avoid awkward moments. You don’t need to chat up the CEO, although it can’t hurt to touch base with people in leadership roles if you have something interesting to say to them. Hagy suggests you “Avoid the weeping drunks in the bathroom (unless of course, you’re curious about the truly juicy corporate gossip) who will make you appear irresponsible by association.” Instead, seek out and say hello to people, even if it is a little awkward.

3. Plan conversation starters. Hagy suggests that it’s OK to compliment people on their attire – most people appreciate a kind word about what they’re wearing. However, she notes, it’s not OK to compliment someone on how attractive their spouse or date is. Avoid awkward moments by sticking to the basics. Open-ended questions are best, as you don’t want to get into an exchange of “yes” and “no” answers. For example, “Have you ever been to Maui?” would result in a yes or no, while, “Where’s your favorite place to vacation?” can engage someone in conversation.

4. Research some anecdotes. If you’re not plugged into what’s hot and what people are talking about, it’s time to do a little research. Troll trending topics on social media sites and online news pages. “Try to steer clear of mood-killing topics like the death penalty, cancer, the weather, obvious plastic surgery performed on the VP’s mistress and recent layoffs,” Hagy says.

5. Don’t eat as if you’ve never seen food. “Make a trip to the buffet, but don’t gorge on the bacon-wrapped dates or attempt to eat anything that’s drenched in sauce. Gluttony and messiness are best indulged in more casual settings with people you actually like,” Hagy notes.

6. Don’t overdo it at the open bar. “There’s a line between being relaxed and being a liability,” Hagy says. Make sure you stay on the right side of the line.

7. Don’t run off. Spend some time at the event. You never know – you may meet a great new contact at the holiday party. The difference between meeting a new contact and missing potential opportunities may be that extra 10 minutes you decided to stay. Give yourself and your colleagues a chance; everyone has the capacity to be interesting, given enough gentle prodding and attention. “Listen closely. You just might make a friend or win over a previously antagonistic colleague,” Hagy says.

This post originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report.

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How to get holiday time off http://www.keppiecareers.com/get-holiday-time/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/get-holiday-time/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:30:51 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11234 As the holiday season approaches, many people are starting to think about time off. Planning ahead and being organized is always best, but sometimes, plans go awry or a friend decides to get married at the last minute, and you need to...

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the holiday season approaches, many people are starting to think about time off. Planning ahead and being organized is always best, but sometimes, plans go awry or a friend decides to get married at the last minute, and you need to negotiate with your colleagues for some premium time off. What should you say to secure that all-important flexibility?

Acknowledge You’re Asking for a Favor
If your organization has a “no time off” policy during certain periods or if time needs to be planned months in advance, make it clear that you understand you are asking for something extraordinary and be prepared to explain why this need does not result from your poor planning. In other words, if you decided to book a trip because the price was right, even though you knew you were working and wouldn’t easily be able to secure vacation time, you are probably out of luck and you may be burning your bridges. Depending on how firm the policy at work, if there’s a family situation or event outside of your control and planning, it’s fair to lobby for an exception to the rule in most circumstances. When you ask, explain the extraordinary circumstances and make it clear you would never otherwise ask for an exception to the rule.

Assume Everyone Needs Something
If it’s up to you to find a stand-in so you can be off, keep in mind: the first rule of negotiating anything is that everyone should walk away feeling like a winner. It’s unlikely you’re the only one in the office with an unexpected event or situation. If you need Thanksgiving off and it’s important to you, offer to work New Year’s Eve for the colleague who’s hoping to get engaged that night. If you find another person with an equally pressing need for time off and you can help each other, everyone wins.

Up the Ante
Assuming you cannot find someone to make an even swap for holiday time off, ramp up the stakes. Offer to work someone else’s holiday weekend in the future, or take an extra turn or two doing an unpopular task. For example, you could suggest you take on your colleague’s clean-up duty for the next week, or offer to work that person’s late nights for a certain amount of time. Sweeten the pot as much as necessary to sway your colleagues and you may be able to win your time off.

Plan Ahead for Next Time
If these tactics fail, it’s time to take a serious look at your work relationships. Maybe you’re avaluable employee, but are you the colleague who doesn’t give anyone the time of day until you need something, and then have no compunction about asking for a favor? Make some changes now, so next time, you’ll have a better chance of convincing your colleagues to help you out in the future.

How can you make this change? Be exceptionally considerate at work. If your automatic reply is “no” when someone asks for something that inconveniences you, start to say “yes” instead. Offer to pitch in if co-workers look swamped and you have a little free time. When people ask you to switch shifts with them, do it, even when it’s a little inconvenient for you. If you work remotely, make a point to connect with your colleagues regularly so you’re more than a name on a screen.

Become the teammate everyone knows they can rely on to help out and it will be easier to convince co-workers to step up when you need a hand or a favor down the road.

More from Miriam Salpeter
Best places you aren’t already networking
Make mistakes work for you in the office
What NOT to do to make a good impression at work

Originally published at AOLJobs.com.

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How to tell your career story so people will listen http://www.keppiecareers.com/tell-career-story-people-will-listen/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/tell-career-story-people-will-listen/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:50:17 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12261 Storytelling – does it make you think of sitting on a carpet decorated with pictures depicting the alphabet while trying to stay away from the kid who could never keep his feet to himself? Okay, maybe that was really “story...

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JobActionDay2014LogoStorytelling – does it make you think of sitting on a carpet decorated with pictures depicting the alphabet while trying to stay away from the kid who could never keep his feet to himself? Okay, maybe that was really “story time.”  Telling and hearing stories isn’t something the average adult considers part of his or her professional life.

This post is in honor of Job Action Day 2014, with the theme of “Career Storytelling.” Job Action Day is a day for all job-seekers and workers to take stock of their situations and make plans and/or take action steps to improve their careers. QuintCareers.com spearheads and runs this event every year, and I’m delighted to contribute and to suggest you visit other post about the topic. Follow #JAD14 on Twitter for information.

It may come as a surprise that marketing your skills for a job is all about storytelling. Jobseekers need to be able to tell their stories in varied ways, using a myriad of tools.

Before you bring out your quill pen – or, more likely, your laptop or tablet – to start authoring your story, your first job is to know what it is you want to tell. It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not so obvious in practice for many people. If you don’t have a very clear idea of what you do well – and why people should want to hire you to do it for them – you will be at a big disadvantage. It’s tough to get on the right path until you know your destination.

Before you start trying to integrate your “story” into your job search strategies, first focus on your skills. So many job seekers don’t take the time to really identify what they have to offer in the way of skills.  This is a real problem when it comes to the self-marketing, self-selling and interviewing aspects of the job search.  If you don’t know what you have to offer, who does?

There are many ways to approach figuring out your skills.  There is a basic one that I advise my clients to consider: review job descriptions of positions that interest you. Highlight all of the skills required that you’ve EVER used or could remotely be related to you.  Then, go back and check off the skills that really resonate and feel like “you.”  This is a basic, not time consuming and free way to get you thinking about your skills.

Describe your story as it relates to your skills. When you think about your job search story, hone in on exactly why and how you are a good fit for the opportunity of interest.

Tell the relevant story at every stage of your search:

Networking: Use your LinkedIn profile to showcase your passion for your work and why you’re good at what you do. Consider a less formal approach to help connect with readers; speak in the first person and detail why readers should want to know more about you.

In all social media, keep in mind that you are proving you have the answers to the problems hiring managers are trying to solve. Indicate how you help in your headlines – no matter how short. Even a 160-character Twitter bio can tell a brief story.

At in-person events, be prepared to introduce yourself. Don’t prepare a 2-minute speech – be able to say who you are and what you do in 15 seconds or less. You could use a slightly longer version of your Twitter bio or LinkedIn headline to get to the heart of what you want people to know.

In your resume: This is your opportunity to draw a clear and distinct line between what you offer and what the employer wants in a candidate. Focus extensively on the job description of interest and incorporate keywords that match the employer’s needs when explaining via your headlines and job descriptions why you are a good match.

In the interview: For years, coaches have advised using a “CAR” or “PAR” approach to interview storytelling. (This also works in resumes.) CAR is “challenge, action, results.” PAR is “problem, action results.” The main point is that you need to be able to tell stories explaining challenges or problems you faced and to describe how you handled them. The best part of keeping these acronyms in mind is they help remind you to incorporate the “results” piece in your story.

Once you solidify your story, you’ll be well on your way to job search success!

 

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How to finish the year strong at work http://www.keppiecareers.com/finish-year-strong-work/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/finish-year-strong-work/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 10:30:05 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11239 As the days get shorter and the calendar moves closer to a new year, many begin to think about their new-year resolutions and plan for how to start things off right in January. Ideally, before you jump ahead to 2015,...

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the days get shorter and the calendar moves closer to a new year, many begin to think about their new-year resolutions and plan for how to start things off right in January. Ideally, before you jump ahead to 2015, it’s a good idea to decide how to make the most of the current year so you’re well positioned to start the new year off right.
What can you do now to plan ahead so you’ll be ready to excel next year? 

1. Improve your habits.

Are you the colleague who annoys everyone because you are constantly late to work and can’t be counted on to get anything done on time? Take a good, close look at your work habits and think about how you could improve them now so you can really start the new year with a fresh approach.

Even if you’re not causing trouble at work, think about what habits you can change. Have you been eating a ton of junk food, even though you promised yourself to adapt a healthy diet? Are you staying up way too late on a regular basis? Think about what habits you have that you can try to change to help yourself feel better and be more productive at work and in the rest of your life.

2. Set goals.

When you saw the calendar change to November, did you get a feeling of dread because you haven’t accomplished most of the goals you set out to achieve in 2013? Or, are you like many in the workforce: did you forget to set any goals at all? As the saying goes, “You’ll never get there if you don’t know where you’re going.” You definitely “can’t get there from here” until you decide where you want to end up, and now is the time to identify some plans so you won’t be in this position next year at this time.

3. Improve productivity.

How can you get your work done faster? If you’re not already asking yourself this question, now is the time to start. If you can accomplish more in less time, you’ll free up hours for projects or interests you don’t think you have time to consider and be able to make a better impression on those you need to impress. Some key time wasters include: excessive email checking, not prioritizing projects and spending a lot of time gossiping around the water cooler or on the Internet. Start tracking your time on these activities and you may be surprised by how many hours you can recover from your day.

4. Learn something new.

Have you thought about how you could use some of your free time to learn something new? In a competitive environment at work, one way to get ahead is to put in extra effort and, in the process, to make yourself more marketable as a valued employee.

5. Identify a mentor.

If you have new goals for 2014, you may decide it’s a good idea to find a mentor or two who may be willing to help support you as you try to accomplish them. The best mentors are willing to invest their time and energy in you, and can expect to learn something in return. Consider actively seeking someone to serve in this role.

6. Extend your relationships.

Is there someone you would love to get to know better, but you’ve never made the effort? Maybe it’s a colleague at work, or a someone in your professional organization. What can you do to get to know the person better? Make a point to invite him or her to join you for coffee or lunch, or attend an industry networking event together. Never forget that your in-person relationships are key to your professional success.

7. Improve your digital footprint. 

There’s no time like the present to ramp up your digital presence. If you’ve been hesitating to get a LinkedIn profile, or you never bothered to take a professional photo to use online, now is the time. Employers are turning to social media to source candidates and to learn more about you. What will they find? It’s up to you to feed content to Google so a search of your name online results in information you want people to know about you.

8. Step up. 

It’s up to you to get things done, and you won’t accomplish anything without making an effort. Look for opportunities to take on interesting projects and make it clear to your supervisor that you are prepared to take on new challenges if you want to advance in your organization.

More advice:
How to get your side business started while working a full-time job
Things HR won’t tell you
How Twitter can help you land your next job

Originally published on AOLJobs.com.

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Job search horror stories: illegal interview questions http://www.keppiecareers.com/illegal-interview-questions/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/illegal-interview-questions/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:15:52 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12276 If you’ve been looking for a job, it’s likely you have some horror stories to share. Have you ever encountered illegal interview questions? Read this story, from Natalie: After waiting for awhile in a brightly orange-painted room, the interviewer calls...

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spookyIf you’ve been looking for a job, it’s likely you have some horror stories to share. Have you ever encountered illegal interview questions? Read this story, from Natalie:

After waiting for awhile in a brightly orange-painted room, the interviewer calls my name and sits me down at a desk.

Normal thus far until he comments on my choice of wardrobe – a green dress. Literally he said “Natalie in the green dress in the orange room!” Then he looks at my resume – “So you’re from Utah, isn’t that where all of those Mormons live? Are you Mormon?”
 
I answer in the affirmative, and a little bell starts ringing – isn’t he not supposed to ask that? He starts asking me the interview questions and randomly pauses to ask me why I switched from crossing my legs to crossing my ankles and asked (maybe leered) – are you comfortable here with me? Got a little nervous that I may have gotten myself into a bad situation at that point.
 
I got the question that every interviewer has asked…”What brought you to San Diego?”
 
“My husband and I just moved here.”
Then he starts asking – “Oh you’re married, how long have you been married?”
After my reply of one month, he literally said, “Well you’re Mormon – you’re going to have children soon.”
Now – I know that’s not right – for an interviewer to ask an interviewee about children and upcoming life events that would affect employment. But we keep going.
 
I have to admit it was a little weird when he asked me if my husband had more than one wife…I tried to politely educate him – but seriously – no SERIOUSLY?! The interview was awkward and concluded. He then walked me outside, saying he wanted to see what car I drove. Okaaaayy…then he asked what was on my ipod.
 
Maybe he didn’t like that I said Fergie mixed with country because he called a few hours later to say I didn’t get the job. Needless to say, despite wanting income, I didn’t want to work with him anyway.
 
Ah…the true horror story, complete with the illegal and generally inappropriate/irrelevant interview questions. Clearly, the main (and key) outcome here is that Natalie would not have wanted to work for this person, regardless. That is important. It’s key for job seekers to maintain control of their own destinies by refusing to work where they know they are likely to experience inappropriate behavior. Don’t ignore interview warning signs.
So, how could Natalie have managed these questions? Did she have to answer? Follow this link for information about how to handle illegal interview questions.
Have you ever been confronted with an illegal or inappropriate interview question? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Another Halloween Job Search Horror Story http://www.keppiecareers.com/another-halloween-job-search-horror-story/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/another-halloween-job-search-horror-story/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:15:43 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12272 Do you have a job search horror story? Unfortunately, many do. How can we learn from our experiences and wind up with a better ending next time? This is another story that, to me, illustrates how some job seekers create...

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treesDo you have a job search horror story? Unfortunately, many do. How can we learn from our experiences and wind up with a better ending next time?

This is another story that, to me, illustrates how some job seekers create their own results in their search.

Thanks to Laurie S. for sharing this tale:

After finding myself a smart self starting college educated experienced individual laid off and unable to find work for 15 months you can imagine I have a million stories. The following is just one of many from my journal.

The interview lined up for today was for a part-time position. Because there was nothing to chose from in the full time job opportunities. Unless a person is maybe a nurse or a DUI Attorney…it is slim pickings. The interview was with a small insurance company and I had been going round with trying to set up an interview with them.

Finally, I received an email from the company saying they would like to set up an interview and when would be a good time for me. This email hit me as a little odd. It would have made more sense for them to call me to set something up Johnny on the Spot instead of playing email games. I replied to their email because there was not a phone number to call. My reply email was greeted with yet another email letting me know the date and time I selected was not available. The sender of the email sent it out late Friday, which means I did not receive their reply to my reply until Saturday morning. The sender of the email let me know they had 9AM or 11AM on Monday morning available. I let them know I would see them on Monday morning at 9AM. This response would have been a reply to their reply of my reply to their reply are you catching my drift about the insanity with this?

…The office was right in front of me; however, there were no lights on in the office. Actually, there was not a soul in the office.

“Great now what?” I said aloud and with much disappointment.

I was less and less feeling like being involved with an interview at this moment. I was not in the mood to answer the obligatory question, “So, what is your 5-year plan?”

My mood grew from irritated and indignant to a mischievous twinkle in my right eye. I had decided that I was not leaving until I had an interview. If I had to camp out on the bench I was sitting on all day long, somebody from the insurance office was going to sit down and look at my happy little smile. After about 30 minutes, a young woman came through the front doors and headed toward the office space I wanted to call my new home. She opened the front doors, turned the lights and sat down at the front computer. I gave her a few minutes to catch her breath. I made my way into the office space.

I put on my brightest smile. “Hello,” I said warmly.

The young gal looked at me and smiled back.

“I believe I have an interview for 9am this morning.” I continued.

“Okay let me give Jason a call.” She said.

She picked up the phone, “Hey your 9am interview is here. Umm.. I do not know. Uhhh yes…sure okay I will tell her.”

“Okay Jason will be in about 15 minutes. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable.” She said.

“Great thank you.” I replied.

I took a seat and thought about the magazine I had left in the lobby. I should have brought it in because I do not want to sit and stare at the wall. I pulled out my day planner and made it look like I was organizing something in my life.

As luck would have it, my new friend at the front desk was a chatty. I  learned they received over 500 resumes for this part-time position.

“I am sorry I was late today but I had to stop and pick up the mail at our old office.” She said.

“No problem.” I answered.

“Jason should be here soon. He is actually a friend of mine that is how I got this job.” She laughed.

“We all just came back from a weekend trip to Las Vegas.” She smiled

Hmm.. I thought to myself. I am not sure about how I feel about that idea. This gal was about half my age. I was getting the feeling we did not have much in common. I lied and said, “Really that is cool your employer paid for you to have a weekend in Las Vegas.” I said

“So what do you do now?” She asked.

“Well I am one of those casualties of the economy and lost my job. It is tough out there right now so I am bartending at the moment.” I said.

A young guy with curly blonde hair whipped through the front doors.

“Hi, sorry I am running late I will be with you in a moment. Uhh, actually just follow me back.” he said breathlessly.

I followed Jason into a conference room. “Well this is our conference room.” he said. “Have a seat.” He said.

I took out a fresh resume for him. I knew since he had been running around at Mach 2 speed this morning and had forgotten our interview he would need to be refreshed about my qualifications.

After my conversation with Chatty Kathy, I learned the guy sitting in front of me was 27 and it was his Daddy’s company.

He took his time looking at my resume.

“Uh huh, uh huh” she said while nodding his head. When he finished he put his hands on the table  and said,

“Well you are over qualified for this position. Why do you want to work here?” He looked at me.

Now my real answer floating in my head was because I do not have a Daddy to give me a job. However, I smiled my most charming smile I could muster and said,

“Look I would like to work in an industry that I know is going to be around. I have a lot to skills to offer a company. I have friends who work in the insurance industry and it seems to be somewhat stable. Job security is really important to me.” I finished.

“Well where do you see yourself in 5 years?” he asked.

There it was the question I most hated. I wonder if there is some unwritten rule in an interview that this stupid question must be asked by the employer or the 5-year plan association people fine them some exurbanite fee.

I took a breath looked directly into Jason’s eyes and said.

“Everyone has plans and goals but I have personally found life these days is more about figuring out how to maneuver around all of the stuff that life throws at you. I certainly did not plan on my father dying when I was 22. I did not plan on the economy taking the biggest dump in history since The Great Depression. My brother did not plan on his employer laying him off exactly a week after he told him that he and his wife were expecting their first child. It has been in my best interest to figure out how to not let things get in my way and to continue to move forward.” I finished.

I do not think Jason knew what to make of my answer. But it was the truth. It took him a moment to get back on track.

“Well we have more business then we know what to do with and that is why we are needing to add to our staff.” He said.

“You are very blessed and this is a nice thing to hear.” I smiled.

“Would you like a tour of the office?” He asked.

“I would love one,” I answered.

I think a tour of the office is a good sign. If he were not interested in my filling the position, he would not waste his time with a tour. There was not much to see in the office. He showed me to the part of the office that would have my cubicle. It was not much but it was more then I had now. And as he said in the interview, it was a position that could grow into different things.

“Jason, do you know when you would like to have the position filled?” I asked.

“By the end of the week,” He answered.

“If you are still seriously considering this position when you get home if you could shoot me an email,” he requested.

Something about the request felt strange and I could not put my finger on what it was. I mean why I would not want the job?

I held out my hand to shake his and said, “It was a pleasure to meet you.”

Regardless of sending my email to let him know I was interested in the position and several calls to the office I never heard from Jason. Probably a blessing in disguise. 

It seems to me that Laurie sealed her own fate here by answering questions in a bit of a defiant manner. Instead launching into a tirade indicating that she wanted job security, she could have given some plausible, believable reasons that she was applying for the job. She might have expressed a real interest in the organization itself or in the industry.

In describing her future plans, she could have given an answer that did not incorporate her personal story or that of her family. Clearly, she knew she had made the interviewer uncomfortable with her reply. She knew to be prepared for this question, and could have delivered an answer that would have appealed to a prospective employer and given her a chance to land the job and to turn it down.

In my estimation, the tour was just a way to end the interview, not a positive sign of an impending offer.

On the other hand, clearly, Laurie had pretty much made up her mind that this was not the right place for her. They were late for the interview, traveled as a team for fun and it was a family business. None of this added up in Laurie’s mind as a great opportunity. However, as a job seeker, it is important to follow through so that YOU are the one turning down the opportunity that is not right. “Throwing” an interview and not taking things seriously just makes this another in a series of negative job experiences.

How great would it have been for Laurie had she landed this job, and then decided whether or not it was not the right environment for her? She could have declined the job, but boosted her confidence level at the same time.

So – think about it…Are your “horror stories” someone else’s fault? Or, are you contributing to your own downward spiral?

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Halloween Job Search Horror Stories http://www.keppiecareers.com/halloween-job-horror-stories/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/halloween-job-horror-stories/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:42:35 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12265 In honor of Halloween, I thought I would re-post some job search horror stories I’ve collected over the years. The goal is to share tales from job seekers (so you know you’re not alone) AND from hiring managers, so job...

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halloween 1In honor of Halloween, I thought I would re-post some job search horror stories I’ve collected over the years. The goal is to share tales from job seekers (so you know you’re not alone) AND from hiring managers, so job seekers can learn what things might NOT work.

I guess that I wasn’t too surprised to learn that some of these horror stories may have had different endings had the job seeker taken a different approach. NOT that this excused rude behavior on the part of the hiring manager, but it is important to learn something from these stories…

Todd shared this story:

So, this so-called executive recruiter sends me a questionnaire (10 pages BTW) and says complete it and schedule an “interview.” Well, in full disclosure, I only completed half, but went ahead and scheduled the meeting. After all, I was an executive and my resume was what I wanted to talk about. So, while waiting in the lobby of this firm, some guy walks out to greet me. He’s wearing some ridiculous looking suit with tennis shoes and showing off a shiny keychain that says “Hyundai” and acts like he’s doing me a favor by taking the time to meet with me.

The guy walks me to some conference room, throws the half-complete questionnaire on the table and begins to yell at me–literally. He proceeds to tell me that I’m a loser and have no future. I couldn’t believe it!

So, I stood up and said I made a mistake. Then–THEN–he calls me an “a-hole” as I walked out. All I said was, ” Back at ya!”

Following this, eh em…episode, I landed a job as an executive for an online brokerage firm in Texas. I always wanted to call the guy and rub it in, but why stoop to that level?

So, what can we learn here? Clearly, Todd wasn’t very interested in this job! The fact is, if he was not willing to fill out the application (no matter how long), he should not have bothered to apply! As a job seeker, it is your responsibility to follow directions regarding the application if you want the job!

On the other hand, if you see what seems like a ridiculous application process, consider it a red flag. Maybe this company has policies and proceedures that are not likely to mesh with your preferred way of doing things. Evaluate it and decide NOT to apply! Even if you are desperate for a job, you know, deep down, you are unlikely to be happy working for a place that sets up what you consider to be an absurd hiring process.

In this case, obviously, the hiring manager was a bit “off.” It’s never appropriate to yell and swear at an applicant, and you have to assume an employee would receive the same treatment. So, it was lucky for Todd that things worked out the way they did!

What do you think? Share your comments below.

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How to decide between two job offers http://www.keppiecareers.com/decide-between-two-job-offers/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/decide-between-two-job-offers/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:30:24 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12245 When it rains, it pours. Sometimes, it seems as if you’ve been looking for a job forever with no results, then, all of a sudden, you’re being offered an interview with another company when you are in the midst of...

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Keppie CareersWhen it rains, it pours. Sometimes, it seems as if you’ve been looking for a job forever with no results, then, all of a sudden, you’re being offered an interview with another company when you are in the midst of negotiating an offer. Lucky you! However, even if it’s an enviable position, it can be stressful to navigate this challenging, new terrain. How can you decide between two job offers?

This is a tricky situation, as you don’t want to put your existing invitation in jeopardy. There’s no perfect solution to this. No general advice can address every possible situation or circumstance, so consider your options carefully.

What should you do if you have an offer in hand and have a chance to interview for another job? Consider the following, and make the choice that is right for you.

Your options.

Assuming you haven’t signed a non-compete and have no legal reason why you cannot work for another organization, nothing stops you from interviewing for a new job at any time – even if you’ve already accepted an offer. If you’re still negotiating and have not signed an acceptance, you can still consider other offers.

Inform the second company.

You may want to let the second company know that you are already considering one offer and ask about the timing for their hiring process. If you believe it is worth interviewing for the new opportunity, you can try to request the organization that has made you an offer to give you more time to consider joining them.

Beware of repercussions.

Be aware, companies can rescind their offers at any time, so if you stretch things out too much with the first company before knowing if you’ll have a chance at the second company, the hiring authorities at the first company may decide to cut you loose. This is a “the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” scenario. In other words, if you have one offer, you don’t want to risk everything for the possibility of another unless the reward is big enough to be worth that risk.

Assess your standing.

You’ll want to assess your standing in being offered this role. Do you have the sense that you are a perfect fit, and they’ve been searching for someone with your skills for a long time? Or, are you more likely one of many people who are well suited to the job?

If you must make a decision before you have a chance to know your standing for the second potential opportunity, decide how much of a risk you are willing to take in hopes of landing the second job. If it’s worth the risk, you can let company #1 know you are interviewing for company #2 and see if that may inspire them to provide a more competitive offer if you are a highly competitive candidate.

If company #1 improves its offer once it knows you are being considered for company #2, your best bet is to continue and finalize negotiations with that company or assume you may lose the offer altogether unless you are the perfect candidate they’ve been waiting to meet. Only you can decide if it is a risk worth taking.

Originally appeared on AOLJobs.com.

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Should you dress up for Halloween at work? http://www.keppiecareers.com/dress-halloween-work/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/dress-halloween-work/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:30:31 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11222 For children, Halloween is a fun time to be imaginative and become anyone you want to be. Adults have co-opted this holiday for their own purposes, and some even bring their fantasy selves to work in the form of a...

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file9931269753288For children, Halloween is a fun time to be imaginative and become anyone you want to be. Adults have co-opted this holiday for their own purposes, and some even bring their fantasy selves to work in the form of a dress-up day. Is it a good idea to dress up at work for Halloween or a big mistake? The answer is “it depends.” It depends on where you work and what you plan to wear.
Workplaces Where Dressing Up Is Part of the Job

In some workplaces, dressing up is expected and considered part of the organization’s culture. For example, if you’re a teacher, and everyone dresses up as part of a “book character dress-up day” around Halloween, you wouldn’t want to be the one teacher who doesn’t play along. That will make you look uncreative at best and lazy at worst.

On the other hand, if you choose inappropriately provocative attire or otherwise misfire with your costume, you’ll be in even worse hot water. Fishnet stockings are not the best choices for a school teacher, even if your goal is to look like Fantine from Les Miserables. You may also want to think twice about donning the persona of a political figure, even an historical one. In other words, coming in as Hitler or Syrian President al-Assad isn’t likely to win favor.

Another group that may be expected to go all out for Halloween is wait staffs in casual restaurants. In that case, depending on your clientele, it’s possible you can actually embrace your sexy alter-ego and not risk your job. However, keep in mind, if you win “sexiest costume of the night,” expect that image to be a part of your workplace persona long after Oct. 31 passes.

Another factor to consider: will your costume elicit controversy and conversation you’re not prepared to manage? If you dress up as “Obamacare” or Speaker Boehner, don’t be surprised if people on the opposite end of the political spectrum have some choice comments. Just as it’s not generally a great idea to discuss politics at work, similarly, it’s not a great idea to wear your politics to work, even on Halloween.

When Dressing Up Is Unlikely to Win You Friends

Do you really want your insurance broker or attorney handing you important papers to sign while dressed as Gumby or Big Bird? The same rules go for most client-facing roles where the business at hand is serious, and the attire needs to match. Even if Halloween is your favorite day of the year, do not call your judgment into question by being the only one who takes it as an opportunity to break out of the traditional dress code to go a little crazy.

Sometimes, the role you play at work will dictate whether or not you should dress up. For example, the call center team members who never see clients may be able to have some fun on Halloween, while the front-facing sales staff need to play it more conservatively.

How to Decide How to Celebrate – Or Not!

If you’re new at work, ask your boss or a trusted co-worker if people dress up for Halloween. If you’re a sleuth, you can peruse back issues of the company newsletter to see if Halloween is depicted in past communications. If dressing up isn’t on the agenda, don’t let it put you in a bad mood; it’s possible you can celebrate the day in other ways at work by wearing a fun accessory. Just make sure you don’t distract your co-workers with a flashing necklace or by carrying around something that moans or you’ll attract the kind of attention you don’t want.

Want to know a great way to get in the spirit of the holiday in many offices? Bring in a baked good or other sweet treat to offer co-workers. As long as you’re not pushy, and recognize some people are dieting, have food allergies or aversions or don’t believe in Halloween, you can’t lose.

We are showing you how to eat, drink and be scary this Halloween season.
Read more on Halloween on AOL:

15 Frightfully Delicious Halloween Treats
11 Halloween Party Appetizers
How To Look Spooky Without Looking Scary

Originally appeared on AOLJobs.com.

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How a Digital Detox Can Help Your Career http://www.keppiecareers.com/digital-detox-can-help-career/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/digital-detox-can-help-career/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:30:00 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12167 How interconnected do you need to be? Have you thought about how being tethered to mobile devices may impact your career and wellbeing? This is a guest post by Lindsey Pollak, a bestselling author, Millennial workplace expert and spokesperson for...

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How interconnected do you need to be? Have you thought about how being tethered to mobile devices may impact your career and wellbeing? This is a guest post by Lindsey Pollak, a bestselling author, Millennial workplace expert and spokesperson for The Hartford’s My Tomorrow campaign.

Last year, 2013, marked the first year that Americans spent more time online on our mobile devices than on our computers. Millennials, not surprisingly, lead the pack in mobile—spending the most time shopping, texting and reading the news through their smartphones and other devices. This past February, Facebook announced that it would be acquiring the private text messaging service, WhatsApp, for a whopping $19 billion, demonstrating the tremendous value of owning mobile eyeballs.

Naturally, the mobile mania has made its way into the workplace, enabling employees to work anytime, anywhere. This has created a need for companies to incorporate flexibility around typical workplace hours and environments as well, making company policy on mobility and flexibility a necessity. Flexibility around the use of mobile has become an expectation for young workers in particular when evaluating potential employers.

Despite this mobile mania, Millennials are recognizing that unplugging from time to time is just as important as maintaining their social savviness, particularly as they rise in their careers. They believe it’s important for leaders to be tech-savvy, but not tech-reliant. Eighty-six percent of Millennials in The Hartford’s 2013 Leadership Survey said the use of social media holds some importance to being an effective leader, but they clearly do not view it as a major contributor. Just 22 percent said it is very important or absolutely critical.

As we all know, the lure of social media is hard to ignore at work or at home. Mobile is all around us – literally – so it’s important to take time away from our screens. A digital detox can keep your health up, stress down and refresh you so you can improve your productivity. And, believe it or not, taking a break from electronics can actually increase productivity and keep you on track with tasks. In a recent survey conducted by meQuilibrium, 50 percent of the respondents checked their work email outside the office, while at the same time 73 percent felt that using electronic devices contributed to stress in their lives.

What does a digital detox entail? Take a day off or a week off, whichever you believe will be most beneficial, and remove your work email from your phone. Check your email only at designated times during the day. Take a break from social media sites, e-newsletters, Candy Crush and even the habit of checking your weather app multiple times a day. You’ll likely find, when you are finished with your detox, you’ll feel renewed and will be able to approach tasks with a newfound energy or sense of clarity. If you cut out the use of digital tools, you also might be surprised at how much you can get done without them.

If you’re nervous about completely unplugging, start with a mini-detox during your first couple of hours after work. Try to use the time to relax and unwind from your day – not as a continuation of the last task you were working on, or to finish up the one last deliverable. Sometimes in order to objectively view a problem or business strategy you need to take a step back and view it from the outside. Removing yourself from the office, physically and digitally, is a great way to do that.

Learn more about Lindsey Pollak and read about her upcoming book, Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders, by visiting her website.

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