Monday, May 13, 2013

How to Dress for Success Today

by Dave Kerpen

I'm warning you: Based on conversations about this topic at my office, you may find this post to be controversial - you may totally disagree with me. You may even find it to be trivial. But with nearly 1.8 million college graduates this month to soon be looking for work, this seemed as good a time as any to talk about a question that's not so trivial to anyone looking for work:What should you wear to a job interview? And then once you have a job, what should you wear to work?
When I interviewed for my first real job after college, at Radio Disney in Boston, Massachusetts, I went into the interview in a full suit and tie, dressed to impress, or so I thought. Unfortunately, it was a hot September day and I was fifty pounds heavier than I am today. And unfortunately, I had a bit of a sweating problem back then.
I thought I had aced the interview. In fact, I did ace the interview. I received an offer via a phone call from Peggy Iafrate, who would become my boss and one of my early mentors the very next day. Concluded Peggy:
"We loved everything about you Dave and can't wait for you to start. Well, just about everything. Please, oh please, lose the jacket and tie."
I got the job - but not because of what I wore - in spite of it. Through most of the years since then, I've been fortunate enough to be the boss, and help set the dress code for the office, and it's always been a casual or business casual setting. I've also interviewed dozens if not hundreds of job applicants, and I've seen many men and women dressed uncomfortably formally - (and a few dressed uncomfortably informally.) Conventional wisdom says to dress up formally for a job interview. But I disagree. Through the years I've come to this conclusion, truer today than ever before:
At a job interview, you should dress comfortably and (at most) a little more formally than the rest of the office.
At a job interview, you're trying to show the organization that you'd fit in there. If you show up dressed casually and everyone else is dressed more formally, you won't fit in. That's the easy part that everyone gets. But equally true is the converse: If you show up as a man in a three piece suit or as a woman in a formal pantsuit, and everyone else there is casual, you also won't be fitting it. If a job applicant to one of our companies comes in a suit and tie, it shows that he didn't research the culture of our office - and it counts as a strike against him. Why take that risk?
Two years ago, my daughter Charlotte had a boy in her class who wore a suit and tie to school every day. It was a second grade classroom, and yes, at first, I thought Trevor was adorable. But eventually, I came to believe that his parents were doing him a disservice by letting him go to school like that every day. He didn't fit in, and on hot days with no air conditioning in that classroom, he couldn't have possible been comfortable.
Do you want to be a Trevor, at a job interview or beyond?
So what's the solution?
Before an interview, ask people at the office what the unofficial dress code is. Then come in, wearing comfortable clothes, and dressed similarly, (or just a little bit more formally) to what everyone else is wearing. You'll fit in, and you'll be comfortable and confident throughout the interview.
Remember, too: It might seem like the interview - and getting the job - is everything - but in the long run, it's just the beginning. You want to work at an organization where you'll fit in and feel like part of the family for a long time - after all, you spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else.
If you like to dress casually, do you really want to work somewhere where formal wear is expected? If you like to dress up, do you really want to work somewhere where most people dress down?
The best solution?
Decide what dressing for success means for you- and then find an industry and organization where - at the interview and beyond - you can be comfortable, successful, and fit in with the corporate culture.
Want to work in a suit? Interview at organizations that'll support that.
Want to work while dressed casually? Interview at organizations where that's the norm.
Want to work at home in your underwear? Luckily for you, more than ever before, there are telecommuting positions and work-from-home positions available. But in that case, it's probably best to get a bit more dressed up for your interview.

Monday, May 6, 2013

6 ways to kill your chances in an interview

By Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder Writer
From applicant tracking systems to appropriate résumés, there are more than enough hurdles to overcome before getting a job interview. The interview itself might be the biggest challenge for some job seekers, who leave having no clue how it went. 

CareerBuilder surveyed hiring managers to find out what's going on in job interviews and why a promising candidate may not get picked. Six factors contributed to why interviews go badly for some, and while these mistakes may not seem substantial on their own, the job market is still too competitive to allow these simple errors to slide.

When asked to identify the top mistakes made by job seekers during interviews, hiring managers reported:

Mistake No. 1: Appearing uninterested -- 62 percent of employers
Tip: Body language and how you respond to the interviewer's questions may be sending a different message than what you mean. Be attentive during the interview, sit up straight and make eye contact with your interviewer. Take your time responding to give thoughtful answers that convey your interest in the position.

Mistake No. 2: Answering a cell phone or texting -- 60 percent
Tip: As soon as you enter the site for your interview, turn your phone off and put it away. While it may be tempting to use your phone while you're waiting or leave it on silent, don't risk your chances of getting the job because you wanted to check your phone. Focus your attention on the interview.

Mistake No. 3: Dressing inappropriately -- 60 percent
Tip: While what you wear on the job will vary by industry and company, the standard and most appropriate look for a job interview is a business suit or "business casual," a collared shirt and dress pants. You should look and feel professional so both you and the interviewer can focus on your answers and not on your clothing.

Mistake No. 4: Talking negatively about a current or previous employer -- 58 percent
Tip: Interview answers can walk a fine line between showing your appreciation for past employers and asserting that the current job opportunity is preferable. Stay positive during your interview and concentrate on how your past roles have prepared you for the current role. If you did have a negative experience, keep your answer short and end on a positive, such as what you learned from it.

Mistake No. 5: Failure to make eye contact (72 percent) or smile (42 percent), bad posture (38 percent) and a weak handshake (28 percent)
Tip: While interviews can be stressful and nerve-wracking, do your best to appear confident and friendly by preparing for your interview and practicing your answers ahead of time. When you're adequately prepared, your confidence and smart answers will wow the hiring manager.

Mistake No. 6: Not providing specific examples -- 34 percent
Tip: When answering your interviewer's questions, remember that they're trying to make a smart business decision about whom to hire. While you may think that you're the most creative, capable and task-oriented candidate, it's best to provide quantifiable proof of your worth, such as how much new business you brought in or the top ways you saved your company money.

What else can job seekers do to prepare for interviews? "A job interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences out there, so it's important to plan and practice," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Have a friend run through a mock interview with you, asking questions you think will come up and some curve balls you're not expecting. Thoroughly research the company ahead of time, and draft responses that incorporate your accomplishments. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to run into mishaps."  

Friday, April 26, 2013

10 Questions You Should Ask in an Interview

When preparing for an interview, most applicants concentrate on formulating well-crafted answers to potential questions from their interviewers However, not many realize it is just as important to prepare a few good questions they themselves should ask during the interview.

"When interviewing job applicants, I often learn as much from the questions they ask as from the responses they give," John Langland, president of Langland & Langland Consulting, says. "What potential employees inquire about reveals what they deem important -- as opposed to merely answering my questions with information they think I will find important."

What can asking questions in an interview do for you?
  • Show your interest in the position and the company

  • Give you an active role in the interview

  • Offer explanations about the position and the company, which helps you decide if you want to work for that organization

  • Showcase the depth of your knowledge and help you guide the discussion into a particular area of expertise

  • Langland suggests preparing at least three questions in advance and taking notes during the interview to record the responses. "A few insightful, knowledgeable questions can speak volumes about you and distinguish you from other job candidates," he says. "However, as important as asking questions is asking bad questions, such as, 'How many vacation days does the company offer?' is worse."

    Langland advises asking these 10 questions during your next interview:

    1. What are the top three tasks you want the candidate to perform after being hired?
    This gives you a concrete idea of the projects you will be working on if hired. Often job ads list general qualities and capabilities the position requires, but the answer to this question will lay out the actual specifics of the job.

    2. Why did you choose this company?
    The answer will help you determine the organization's strengths and weaknesses with this insider's perspective.

    3. How do you see me benefiting the company?
    This tells you exactly what they're looking for in a candidate and where they see your strengths.

    4. Is there room for growth and advancement?
    This points to your drive and initiative and underscores your intent to secure a career, not just a job.

    5. Are there opportunities for professional training or further education?
    This shows a willingness to learn and adapt as changes in the position or industry occur. Adaptability is very important in today's fickle employment market and may make you very valuable to the company should a reorganization occur.

    6. How will I be evaluated and by whom?
    This provides insight into the company's corporate culture and the department structure in which you will be working.

    7. What is the general culture of the company?
    This can tell you if you will fit into the organization. If they're strictly a "suit and tie" operation and you're all about comfort clothes, you may want to rethink the position.

    8. Are there other job responsibilities not mentioned in the ad?
    This reveals exactly what the ad meant when it said: "...and other duties as assigned." Will you be helping other departments in a pinch? Making coffee? These are things you should know before going any further in the candidate selection process.

    9. When will you be making a decision on the successful candidate?
    Knowing this helps you gauge when to follow up on the interview.

    10. May I call you if other questions arise?
    This keeps the door open for further communication.

    The interview is an artful conversation designed to help both parties learn more about each other in an effort to decide if the candidate and the position are a good match. Use it as an opportunity to spotlight your accomplishments and determine if the job is right for you. 

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Phone Interviews: How To Put Your Best Voice Forward

    Today, more and more employers are conducting phone interviews before inviting job candidates to an in-person meeting. With more applicants available for each opening, employers do not have the time to invest in a meeting for every candidate that simply looks good on paper. Phone interviews make it easier to screen a candidates.
    Some of these phone interviews may include standard questions that ask about facts, such as your experience and any specific skills you have. However, there are also employers who dive right into some of the most challenging questions, such as giving you a scenario and asking for your response and plan to handle the situation described.
    As a job applicant, there are benefits and disadvantages to a phone interview. Some people are well-spoken and are great on the phone, but in person, their nervousness gets to them. Some are more comfortable speaking in-person and lack personality on the phone. Under both situations, it can be a challenge when you don’t have feedback that may typically appear through face-to-face contact.
    Regardless of the situation, you need to put your best voice forward to leave the employer with a good impression. This may be the only shot you have at getting a step closer to securing a job offer with them. Remember that the employer may change their mind about inviting you in for an interview if you fall short of their expectations or leave a negative impression on the phone.
    Note that in a phone interview, your intonation is most important in how you come across, so you should be energetic and enthusiastic and change your tone to better engage the interviewer. You should also be prepared to ask some basic questions, although save the big ones for a formal interview.
    Putting Your Best Voice Forward In Phone Interviews
    Take the tips offered here to help put your best voice forward and further advance on an opportunity to a job offer:
    Treat Every Call You Receive Like It Was An Interview
    Phone interviews may not always be scheduled. An employer may call you to respond to your submitted cover letter and resume, and the moment you pick up the phone an interview may occur right then. Most employers will be courteous to first ask you if this is a good time, but that does not always happen.
    So, if you believe there is a chance an employer may be calling, be prepared by providing a professional greeting on your voicemail or when you pick up. Also be conscious of what the caller may hear in the background if you pick up the phone. If it’s not an appropriate time or place to talk, let it go to voicemail, but try to call back immediately when it is more appropriate for you to talk.
    Talk Enthusiastically
    Since the interviewer will not see your face, all they have to work off of is the voice you present, so make sure it sounds enthusiastic and energized with confidence. Try keeping a smile on your face as you talk and be aware of your tone and pitch so you do not come off sounding monotone.
    Watch Your Words
    Keep a “can do” attitude when you talk. It will leave a more positive impression than if an employer were to hear, “I can’t,” “I don’t,” or “I haven’t.” Also be conscious of how you speak, to avoid the “Ahs,” “Errs” and “Ums.” You can come across as unsure of yourself and lacking in confidence.
    Use A Clear Line
    Many people list their cell phone number on job applications, cover letters and resumes, which is fine, as long as when the phone is answered you are under good reception. If you are the one initiating the phone call, use a landline to avoid static or dropped calls. It’s also important to find a quiet location where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
    Treat It Like An In-Person Interview
    Keep in mind points that you can use to help explain how your previous experiences or skills make you a good fit for the open position. Also, always have questions in mind to ask during the interview that show your interest and desire to work with the company. Don’t forget to also keep your resume, a sheet of paper and pen on hand. You’ll need these items for reference or to take notes while on the call.
    Find Out The Next Steps
    Interviews, whether in-person or over the phone, should end with an understanding of what the next steps are. If it was not covered, be sure to ask. The employer may also view this question in a positive way that you care about this opportunity and have a desire for it.
    Remember, phone interviews deserve a follow up thank you note or e-mail to the individual(s) you spoke with – just as you would do after an in-person interview.
    Treat phone interviews as important as a face-to-face interview. The impression you make on the phone will also be taken in to consideration when the employer is trying to decide between you and another candidate for the position.

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Top 100 Most Powerful Resume Words


    In today’s society, your resume is the most important document you have to get yourself an interview.
    Including power resume words will increase your chance of getting hired by 80%!
    When a hiring manager is seeing the same old resume time and time again which includes the cliché words and phrases such as “highly dedicated individual” or “great team player” you are guaranteeing yourself your resume will be deleted.
    Poorly chosen words and clichéd phrases can destroy the interest of the reader. Power words when chosen correctly can have the opposite effect of motivating and inspiring the reader
    Power Resume Words will make help you stand out from your competition and increase your chances of getting hired!

    Top 100 Power Resume Words

    1. Advanced
    2. Assigned
    3. Assessed
    4. Absorbed
    5. Accelerated
    6. Attained
    7. Attracted
    8. Announced
    9. Appraised
    10. Budgeted
    11. Bolstered
    12. Balanced
    13. Boosted
    14. Bargained
    15. Benefited
    16. Beneficial
    17. Comply
    18. Critiqued
    19. Closed
    20. Collaborated
    21. Designed
    22. Delegated
    23. Demonstrated
    24. Developed
    25. Detected
    26. Efficient
    27. Enhanced
    28. Excelled
    29. Exceeded
    30. Enriched
    31. Fulfilled
    32. Financed
    33. Forecasted
    34. Formulated
    35. Generated
    36. Guided
    37. Granted
    38. Helped
    39. Hosted
    40. Implemented
    41. Investigated
    42. Increased
    43. Initiated
    44. Influenced
    45. Integrated
    46. Innovated
    47. Instituted
    48. Justified
    49. Listed
    50. Logged
    51. Maintained
    52. Mentored
    53. Measured
    54. Multiplied
    55. Negotiated
    56. Observed
    57. Operated
    58. Obtained
    59. Promoted
    60. Presented
    61. Programmed
    62. Provided
    63. Projected
    64. Qualified
    65. Quantified
    66. Quoted
    67. Recommended
    68. Refine
    69. Revamp
    70. Reacted
    71. Retained
    72. Recovered
    73. Reinstated
    74. Rejected
    75. Sustained
    76. Skilled
    77. Saved
    78. Scheduled
    79. Supported
    80. Secured
    81. Simplified
    82. Screened
    83. Segmented
    84. Streamlined
    85. Strengthened
    86. Triumphed
    87. Troubleshot
    88. Taught
    89. Tutored
    90. Translated
    91. Trained
    92. Uncovered
    93. United
    94. Unified
    95. Updated
    96. Upgraded
    97. Validated
    98. Viewed
    99. Worldwide
    100. Witnessed

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Ten websites that teach coding and a bunch of other things

    By Cale Guthrie Weissman
    On April 5, 2013

    Seemingly every day there’s a new article or blog post imploring you to learn how to code. “Those who code have the power to transform their dreams into reality.” “Coding will help you keep [your job], or help you make a case for a raise.” “You should learn to program because it’s easy, it’s fun, it will increase your skill set, and… it will fundamentally change your perspective on the world.” What’s more, “If you want to start a technology company, you should learn to code.” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Year’s resolution was to learn how to code. Douglas Rushkoff, who calls coding “the new literacy of the digital age,” wrote an entire book about it. And didn’t Marc Andreessen say that “software is eating the world?” As a result, companies from Codecademy to edx and many others have popped up to meet this rising demand.

    As a person who’s grown up in the digital age, I have often heard the cry, “digital literacy or die.” Conventional wisdom – at least today – is that in the way you know how to read and write English, “you need to have some understanding of the code that builds the Web… It is fundamental to the way the world is organized and the way people think about things these days.” If you buy that then you’ll want to start now.

    But where should you go? I’ve been dabbling in the black arts, although I am by no means a ninja coder, and am ready to report back. The courses below offer everything from HTML to Python and beyond. HTML and CSS are good, because they’re the basic building blocks of Web design, and in my opinion, Python is useful, because it’s the most universal in many respects. Others say Java is better to learn, because its so prominent on the Web. I would rebut that you can learn Java from Python. Potayto. Potahto.

    In any case, each program below emphasizes different pedagogical techniques and  philosophies, and they are all mass market in the sense that anyone is welcome. No previous experience is necessary.

    MIT Courseware Online
    MIT has long been a pioneer of online courseware. One course is their Intro to Computer Science & Programming class, thought by many to be the best, most encompassing intro computing course offered. Taught by tenured MIT faculty, the online course is structured via taped lectures, written assignments, and self-assessment quizzes.

    The course itself is quite rigorous as it was an intro course for MIT students. This isn’t a sort of online class you can do some parts and not the other.  It requires a certain amount of pre-existing math knowhow to be truly successful. The course description says it only requires high school algebra as a prerequisite but I don’t buy this. I remember being pretty stumped by the second assignment, and I passed AP Calc with flying colors. This doesn’t mean the math is terribly high-level, but that it probably requires a certain amount of mathematical aptitude beyond algebra unless you want to spend the entire course scouring forums for help. As with any MIT course, there is an expectation that you not only know how to do a function, but why that function is performed and from where it stemmed. After attempting to follow this courseware for two sessions, I was officially stumped and dropped it.

    MIT and Harvard partnered up to create edX. It is a conglomeration of all of their available open courseware, along with a new department for the two institutions to perform research about the future of online courses and new pedagogical technologies. For MIT courseware, you can watch the lectures anytime, read the assignments, and self-assess. EdX has you follow the course in real time and complete the assignments and exams to receive a physical certificate from the program. It currently offers numerous classes in more subjects than just coding and far beyond the purview of Computers Science.

    Codecademy is something slightly different than the last two. It uses a curriculum of exercises to teach the basics of coding in a variety of languages (PHP, JScript, Java, Python, Ruby, etc.). It has a text box to write different codes, and a number of tasks written alongside as a way to teach different skill sets. It’s a useful program for people who want to dive in to coding and learn the basics from a more pragmatic level., in fact, listed it as one of the more successful venues for learning code. However, some of the pitfalls lie in its simplicity: it’s a series of exercises, and doesn’t teach you much beyond rote tasks. It attempts to provide some context, but it just scratches the surface (at least for the beginner courses). You are able to learn the commands, their meanings, etc., and sometimes that’s just it. Codecademy teaches you these basics; and what logically follows is the statement: “I learned code.” Beyond that, it doesn’t teach a deeper type of literacy, other than learning helpful coding tricks, for better or for worse.

    Google University Consortium
    Much in the same vein as Harvard and MIT, Google used to offer various online courses for its progam Google Code University. GCU has since retired, but Google has archived its Python and C++ classes, along with providing ways to search for other online university curricula. It is now displaying a wide range of other courses not from Google, and calling it the Google University Consortium in Google’s developers page. The offerings for coding and computing are scant. All I could find was a course on “Programming with Go”, and when I went to begin that course it was a YouTube video.

    PHP Academy
    PHP Academy is similar to Codecademy in that it’s a private, community-based site working to educate the world on web development. Its methods are a series of courses, that is, videos and forums for all who want to participate. The appearance is more scaled down than Codecademy and seems to target those who have some familiarity with coding. In that regard, PHP generally approaches coding as something you already know, or are at least familiar with, so its approach to literacy is that some foundation of it is already there.

    Coursera has been getting some real press these days. Started by a few Stanford Professors last year as a way to offer online courses from myriad universities for free, it has courses for credit and wide-ranging course offerings. In terms of computing, it has an Intro to Programing course from the University of Toronto, which is similar to what edX offers. However, Coursera offers other, more specialized code courses. I signed up to take a Social Networking Analysis course last year taught by a leading professor in that field.  Others include “Programming Languages” “Web Intelligence, and Big Data”.

    Coursera is similar to edX in that courses are on a real schedule, with a curriculum, requiring a lot of your personal time. With both Coursera and edX you are taking a college-level course, that level of intellect is therefore required. In that regard it is leading the brigade in the thought that not only digital literacy is important, but that general education can be maintained through digital means. The onus is not necessarily that everyone needs to know coding, but that digital spaces can be used for positive, educational means.
    Mozilla has entered into the online courseware game with P2PU. In the tradition of Mozilla, P2PU is completely open, and provided a non-institutionalized, community-based education experience. It has a “School of Webcraft,” which includes “Webmaking 101” – a series of seven challenges aimed at teaching you how to start and code a blog.

    The aim is less technical than, say, PHP Academy, and more community-oriented. Take, for instance, the first two challenges in “Webmaking 101.” In the first challenge you start a blog, introduce yourself to your peers, write a “magnificent blog post,” and link comments to your peers’ blogs. The second is to write simple HTML script by hand. There is a different emphasis than the rote skill-work taught in the other courses. Mozilla, in this regard, is working towardfostering a culture shift with digital literacy at the forefront.

    Khan Academy
    Khan Academy is, in some ways, an amalgam of Coursera and Codecademy. It claims to be working to change education “for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere,” listing numerous subjects from computing to the humanities. The “Programming Basics” course has a similar format to Codecademy: read instructions and complete coding activities on a text screen to learn the necessary skills. Like Codecademy it progresses in a linear fashion toward mastering a basic repertoire. Khan has gotten scads of the press coverage, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it developed a more well-rounded curriculum around its original pedagogical style.

    For a different approach there’s codingbat, which is simply a series of live coding problems. This site is tailored toward those with some previous knowledge of the subject, and has a bare bones interface pleasing to any hacker-in-training. The problems give immediate feedback to help improve skills, and were developed by Stanford CS lecturer, Nick Parlante. The two languages offered are Java and Python, and it now seems to be offering a theory course to teach skills in “small” coding so as to have the foundation to do longer pieces of code. The approach is educational at its core, but is difficult to delve in for the completely uninitiated.

    GitHub, et. al.
    Frequently coders refer me to GitHub, Pastebin, or SourceForge. These sites, like Codingbat, are not meant for the complete coding luddite and require an aptitude for “learning by doing”, and knowledge of how to navigate the confusing sitemap and specific terminology. There is no curriculum or series of online lectures. It is are a repository for coders to paste their personal code. Instead of a bottom-up pedagogy, these sites gives you successful codes from the best developers around. They are meant to foster community and keep collaborative efforts vibrant in the community. Friends of mine who code have told me that the best way to learn is to go on GitHub, study a cool code, and go from there. It is completely different than anything Coursera offers, and the end result, I think, is on the other end of the computing spectrum as well.

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Interviewing on the Sly

    Tips for Employed Job Seekers
    John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer

    When searching for a new job, dealing with prospective employers is stressful enough: the numerous rejections before you get to yes, grueling interviews, tense salary negotiations and more. But add the almost universal need to conceal your job search -- especially the interviews -- from your present employer, and the result distracts many job seekers from preparing for interviews and even conducting them properly.
    We asked several experts how to mitigate the troubles of the professional who must protect his current job while interviewing for a new one. The toughest challenges fall into three categories: scheduling interviews into and around the workday, dressing to impress without setting off alarms at work and finding excuses for those mysterious "appointments."
    Scheduling Interviews
    The best strategy for scheduling job interviews is to set expectations with your prospects about the limits work places on your availability while remaining as flexible as possible. "Tell the recruiter or prospective employer early on about your hours of availability for phone calls," advises Lindsay Olson, a partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing in New York City.
    Many initial screening interviews are conducted by phone. Tight schedules notwithstanding, it's critical to your present employment security to avoid doing phone interviews while the boss might be listening from the other side of the partition.
    "Schedule your calls; don't try to do them on the fly," says Karen Loebbaka, director of recruiting for venture capital firm Bay Partners in Cupertino, California.
    Even communicating with the prospective employer to arrange the interview can be problematic. "You've got to be creative -- maybe take your lunch hour from 1 to 2," when more managers at the prospective employer are likely to be back at their desks to take your call, says Melanie Szlucha, a job interview coach in Norwalk, Connecticut.
    Some impatient employers and recruiters may not be satisfied with the once-a-day email habit of job seekers who wisely want to avoid their work computers. "Get Web service for your cellphone, or get a BlackBerry," recommends Olson. "Ten dollars a month for Web access is a small price to pay."
    Pulling a Clark Kent
    You know the drill: You work in a khakis or jeans office, but you've got to wear a suit to a lunch interview. If you need to pull a Clark Kent, plan what will serve as your phone booth in advance.
    "I've changed my clothes in my car in a deserted parking lot," says Szlucha. "You can also use hotel or library restrooms." But the restroom of the coffee shop nearest the office is a bad place to dress up incognito.
    Another tactic is to create a diversion with decoy dress-up days. "Start wearing dress clothes to work one or two days a week," says Szlucha. You may receive suspicious glances and knowing remarks at first, but the reaction likely will fade over time.
    You can reduce the risk of raising suspicions by not dressing up more than necessary for a particular interview. "Call the receptionist or someone in HR and ask what's the dress code," advises Szlucha. "For your interview, go one level up from there."
    Making Excuses
    Now to face your biggest cold-sweat moment this side of the interview: communicating your workday absence to the boss.
    Some observers advise unforthcoming honesty. "You need to maintain a very straightforward approach," says Brenda Greene, author of You've Got the Interview: Now What? "If anyone questions you, say you have an appointment. The less explaining you do, the less you'll have to cover up."
    But if your employer corners you to ask about your "appointment," deception can be justified, some believe. "One should tell the truth when at all possible," says Michael Hoffman, director of the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley College. "But it depends on the situation and environment you're working in. If you see no alternative, you may be forced to tell less than the whole truth."
    Sometimes telling the truth would cause a greater harm, says Hoffman. "So it might be that saying you have a doctor's appointment is ethically permissible," he says.
    The bottom line, Olson says: "Once you get to the point in your career where you need to make a change, there's nothing you can do about the need to lead a double life."

    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    17 Ways to Be Happier at Work

    By Geoffrey James

    It's not difficult to experience more joy at work. You just need to know the rules.

    A reader recently pointed me to some "rules for a happier life" that various folks have posted in various forms. Here's my take on those rules as they apply to the workplace:

    1. Don't compare yourself to others.
    Everybody, and I mean everybody, starts out in a different place and is headed on their own journey. You have NO idea where someone else's journey might lead them, so drawing comparisons is a complete waste of time.

    2. Never obsess over things you cannot control.
    While it's often important to know about other things--like the economy, the markets that you sell to, the actions that others might take, your focus should remain on what you actually control, which is 1) your own thoughts and 2) your own actions.

    3. Know and keep your personal limits and boundaries.
    While your job might sometimes seem like the most important thing in your world, you're killing a part of yourself if you let work situations push you into places that violate your privacy and your integrity.

    4. Don't over commit yourself or your team.
    It's great to be enthusiastic and willing to go the "extra mile," but making promises that you (or your team) can't reasonably keep is simply a way to create failure and disappointment.
    5. Remember you get the same amount of time every day as everyone else.
    You may feel you're short on time and that you need more of it, but the simple truth is that when the day started, you got your fair share: 24 hours. Nobody got any more than you did, so stop complaining.
    6. Don't take yourself so seriously; nobody else does.
    The ability to laugh at your foibles not only makes you happier as a person, it makes you more powerful, more influential and more attractive to others. If you can't laugh at yourself, everyone else will be laughing behind your back.

    7. Daydream more rather than less.
    The idea that daydreaming and working are mutually exclusive belongs back in the 20th century. It's when you let your thoughts wander that you're more likely to have the insights that will make you both unique and more competitive.

    8. Don't bother with hate; it's not worth the effort.
    Hate is an emotional parasite that eats away at your energy and health. If something is wrong with the world and you can change it, take action. If you can't take action, you're better off to forgive and forget.

    9. Make peace with your past lest it create your future.
    Focusing on past mistakes or wrongs inflicted on you is exactly like driving a car while looking in the rear view mirror. You'll keep heading in the same direction until you collide with something solid.

    10. Don't try to "win" every argument.
    Some battles aren't worth fighting, and many people are easier to handle when they think they've won the argument. What's important isn't "winning," but what you, and the other people involved, plan to do next.

    11. Remember that nobody is in charge of your happiness except you.
    While some work environments are inherently difficult, if you're consistentlymiserable it's your fault. You owe it to yourself and your coworkers to either find a job that makes you happy or make the best of the job you've got.

    12. Smile and laugh more frequently.
    Contrary to popular belief, smiling and laughter are not the RESULT of being happy; they're part of a cycle that both creates and reinforces happiness. Find reasons to smile.  Never, ever suppress a laugh.
    13. Don't waste precious energy on malice and gossip.
    Before you tell a story about anybody else, or listen to such a story, ask yourself four questions: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? 3) Is it necessary? and 4) Would I want somebody telling a similar story about me?

    14. Don't worry what others think about you; it's none of your business.
    You can't mind read and you don't have everyone else wired into a lie detector. Truly, you really have NO IDEA what anyone is REALLY thinking about you. It's a total waste of time and energy to try.

    15. Remember that however bad (or good) a situation is, it will inevitably change.
    The nature of the physical universe is change. Nothing remains the same; everything is, as the gurus say, transitory. Whether you're celebrating or mourning or something in between, this, too, will pass.

    16. Trash everything in your work area that isn't useful or beautiful.
    Think about it: you're going to spend about a third of your waking adult life at work. Why would you want to fill your work environment--and that part of your life--with objects that are useless and ugly?

    17. Believe that the best is yet to come, no matter what.
    When my grandmother was widowed in her 70s, she went back to college, traveled across Europe in youth hostels, and learned Japanese painting, among many other activities. The last thing she told me was: "You know, Geoffers, life begins at 90."