Monthly Archives

February 2013

Career Tools

The Talk of One’s Life


Nilofer Merchant, Corporate Director at a NASDAQ-traded firm, lecturer at Stanford and formerly the founder and CEO of Rubicon, has a long list of accomplishments to boast for.  Her pedigree speaks for itself, not only is she the author of two books, and a former employee of Apple and Autodesk.  As if that isn’t enough, she is soon to be a two-time TED Talks speaker.  For those who haven’t heard of the deeply intellectual foundation that has provided more than 5,000 TEDx events in the last three years and hosts two conferences each year; TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) serves to provide “ideas worth sharing.”  According to Merchant, “People vie to speak at TED in the same way actors vie to be at the Oscars.”

As Merchant reflected on her experience as a previous TED talks speaker, she elaborated on the fact that she was not satisfied with her first round performance.  In her article “Secrets From a TED2013 Speaker: Preparing for the “Talk of One’s Life,” she provides excellent practices that can be applied to various facets of one’s life.  From talking to a stranger, introducing yourself to a CEO, or interviewing for your dream job, Merchant’s suggestions apply to any situation.

Find your one idea.

TED and TED-like venues ask you to distill your life’s work or experience into a 3, 6, 9, 12, or 18-minute talk in a way no one else has ever done. Simple, right? No, not really. Finding your idea is about finding a point of view that expresses your insight in a distinct way. In my case, I have three minutes, which means finding the most powerful expression of the idea. Because I like to write, I blogged it and made the headline the main idea: Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation. You could discover your one idea by talking with close friends or colleagues. My TEDGlobal talk was about openness, but lacked a distinct point of view given the context of the venue.

Make the ideas transferable.

Sometimes people tell a huge long story with one punch line after several minutes. It’s hard to follow the idea, even when you’re listening well. And sometimes TED gets dinged for packaging up easily digestible ideas, but the bottom line is this: Until you make an idea easily conveyable and sharable through compelling language, it doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t get spread. To make an idea transferable is not to dumb down the idea, but to clarify the idea. Speaker Cindy Gallop, who gave a four-minute talk on the TED stage several years ago, advised me to have no more than one supporting idea for each minute you’re speaking, which is dead on. Think one tweetable idea in every minute.

Merchant provides several more suggestions, these two are the most sure-fire ways to ensure your message is clear and the audience can relate.  To read more from Merchant click here.  For thousands of reflective, informative and ingenious TED talks visit:

Visit Nilofer’s web page here:


Career Tools

Millennials – Most Stressed Generation

Are you between the ages of 18-33, broke and stressed out of your mind?  Unfortunately, you aren’t alone. The annual ‘Stress in America’ survey by the American Psychological Association found that “Millennials” have much higher levels of stress compared to the “Baby Boomers” or “Generation X.”

Arianna Huffinton, President and Editor-in-Chief at the Huffinton Media Group, further discusses the key causes and pressures the newest generation is facing throughout their transition and ascent into the workforce.

Millennials Come of Age as America’s Most Stressed Generation, published February 19th, 2013

First came the “Baby Boomers,” then came “Generation X.” The branding of the subsequent generation, the one that came of age during the 2000s, was less definitive, ping-ponging between “Generation Y” and “The Millennials.” I’d like to add a third name: “Generation Stress.” According to Stress in America, a study commissioned by the American Psychological Association, Millennials are the most stressed demographic. And from what we heard out of Washington last week, the conditions creating that stress aren’t going away anytime soon. But there’s still cause for hope.

The study asked participants to rank their stress level on a scale of 1 (“little or no stress”) to 10 (“a great deal of stress”). Millennials led the stress parade, with a 5.4 average. Boomers registered 4.7, and the group the study labeled the “Matures” gave themselves a 3.7.

The findings were consistent across almost every question. Nearly 40 percent of Millennials said their stress had increased last year, compared to 33 percent for Boomers and 29 percent for Matures. Over half of Milliennials said that stress had kept them awake at night during the last month, compared to 37 percent for Boomers and 25 percent for Matures. And only 29 percent of Millennials say they’re getting enough sleep, compared to 46 percent of Matures.

These levels of stress are taking their toll. Irritability and anger from stress were reported by 44 percent of Millennials, 36 percent of Boomers and 15 percent of Matures. And 19 percent of Milliennials have been told they’re suffering from depression, compared to 12 percent of Boomers and 11 percent of Matures. “Stress is a risk factor for both depression and anxiety,”says Norman Anderson, psychologist and CEO of the APA. “We don’t have data on the specific causes of depression and anxiety in this sample, but it does make sense scientifically that the Millennials who report higher levels of stress in their lives are also reporting higher levels of depression and anxiety.”

In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that higher levels of stress put the Millennials at higher risk for all sorts of destructive downstream consequences of stress. “Stress is a huge factor when we look at medical problems such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disease,”says Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor.

Over 25 million Americans already suffer from diabetes, and almost 70 million have high blood pressure, making them four times as likely to die from strokes and three times as likely to contract heart disease. And yet only 17 percent of Millennials believe their health care providers give them “a lot or a great deal” of support in managing their stress.

Not surprisingly, work is one of the biggest causes of stress, with 76 percent of Millennialsreporting it as a significant stressor, compared to 62 percent of Boomers and 39 percent of Matures. “Many of these young people have come out of college or graduate school with horrendous student debt into a job market where there are not very many jobs,” said Katherine Nordal of the APA. “This has put their life plans, probably, on hiatus.”

The job numbers are indeed grim. According to Generation Opportunity, the unemployment rate for Millennials rose to 13.1 percent in January, up nearly 2 points from December. Among young African-Americans, it’s a whopping 22.1 percent. And if you count those 18-29 year-olds who have given up and dropped out of the labor force, the overall youth unemployment rate stands at 16.2 percent.

And even for the lucky ones who are working, the picture remains bleak. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 2000 and 2011 wages adjusted for inflation fell by over 11 percent for young high school grads and by 5.4 percent for young college grads. It doesn’t help that, as a study by the Center for College Affordability found, 48 percent of working college grads are in jobs that don’t require a college degree and 38 percent are in jobs that don’t require a high school diploma. The report concluded that from 2010 to 2020, while 19 million college grads will be hitting the job market, the economy will add fewer than 7 million jobs requiring a college degree. That’s a pretty serious — and stress-producing — gap.

To read more click here.



Career Tools

Job Searching with Social Media

Infographic Friday

The times have changed; it is no longer the applicant finding the position, but the employer finding the candidate.  With information on almost any applicant at the fingertips of every recruiter, it is the responsibility of the job seeker to manage their career and their social presence.  Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and many other personal profiling sites allow recruiters to view any applicant well beyond what is written on the resume.

Here are a few tips to put your best foot forward online:

1. Ensure accuracy on Linkedin – Job titles, responsibilities and dates of employment should all be double checked.  Keep in mind past employers look at profiles, lying or over exaggerating is not a good way to keep that connection or to maintain validity with that company

2. Put yourself on lock down – Maintaining the highest security settings doesn’t guarantee your safety, but it may deter some companies from viewing something you don’t want seen.

3. College is over – Your profile should reflect this, especially Facebook and Twitter.  Employers want to hire individuals they see a future with, if you are still holding on to your “Kegger” and “Case Day” ambitions, you might not be ready for the professional world.

4. Think of Grandma – If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see what you are posting, don’t post it

5. Know your friends – While having friends and creating a network can ensure future professional success through a possible referral, choose wisely.  The drama posted by your network is also associated with you.

 “Associate only with positive, focused people who you can learn from and who will not drain your valuable energy with uninspiring attitudes. By developing relationships with those committed to constant improvement and the pursuit of the best that life has to offer, you will have plenty of company on your path to the top of whatever mountain you seek to climb.” – Robin Sharma

View the infographic below to see how recruiting trends have significantly changed due to your web presence.

Job Searching Infographic

Career Tools

Bad Habits = Bad Employee

Click here to see the 14 Bad Habits That Can Cost You Your Job

Many of us Minnesotans hope that Spring is just around the corner, blooming flower, buds on trees, and more importantly, a temperature above freezing.  With the future growth of the oncoming season, it may not be a bad time to take inventory of some personal self growth as well.  Forbes lists the top 14 habits employees have that could end up costing any employee his or her job.  While nail biting, gum chewing and knuckle cracking are annoying, they aren’t necessarily pink slip worth.  Read through the list below to see if you need to make some changes to any traits you may have inherited over the years that could lead to your demise.

“A single bad habit is not likely to get you fired immediately, but the cumulative effect of the bad habit over time can,” says Dr. Katharine Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin and author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. “People might notice one bad habit, and it preps them to notice other faults or problems.” Also, she adds, a bad habit can lead to isolation or shunning in the office, which can affect everything from your performance evaluation to your ability to do your job.

Rick Myers, the founder and chief executive of Talent Zoo, a site formarketing, advertising, and digital professionals, agrees that bad habits can destroy one’s career—but he says the “most unfortunate part is that people rarely realize they have these habits.”

“One of the best pieces of advice to give to someone who wants to advance in their company is to become more self-aware and be sure they are practicing habits that will be of value to the company,” he says.

Here are 14 bad habits that can cost you your job:

Procrastination.  “This habit can seriously hurt you in a work setting,” Brooks says.  “If you’re one of those folks who believes that you do your best work at the last minute and put off projects or assignments until the day (or hour) before they’re due, you may not be aware of the impact your habit is having on your co-workers.”  If your last-minute rush requires others to work quickly, you will likely anger them, and you’ll be the first one blamed when a project fails or isn’t completed on time.

Lying.  Misrepresenting your credentials or intentionally plagiarizing, lying on time sheets or billable hours, misusing expense accounts or abusing company credit cards, stealing the kudos for a co-workers’ accomplishments, or otherwise robbing your employers blind can all cost you your job.

“The surest way for any of us to bring our career to a sudden and miserable end is to have the habit of hedging the truth and lying in ways small and large,” says Ann Kaiser Stearns, Ph.D., psychologist and best-selling author of Living Through Personal Crisis (Idyll Arbor Press, 2010). “Dishonesty is a slippery slope with a devastating crash waiting at the end,” she adds. “Whether we work in business or banking, academia or the army, publishing or philanthropy, housing or health care, the marketplace or the ministry, if we lack integrity and betray our employer, we don’t deserve to keep our jobs.”

Negativity. So many of us habitually gossip, whine or complain. But do any of these too often and your job could be on the line. “These all lead to the same end result: you become a headache for your manager,” says Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo. “Your boss is likely responsible for ensuring her teams are contributing to positive morale and anyone on the team who is counterproductive to that reflects poorly on her,” she adds. “Negative employees are often referred to as ‘cancer’ by upper management for good reason: they will eventually be cut out.” A good approach if you have a complaint is to speak with your manager directly, in private.  Never drum up your co-workers for support first.

Tardiness. If you constantly arrive late to work, or return late from breaks, it displays an attitude of complacency and carelessness, says Roxanne Peplow, business career program instructor and student services advisor at Computer Systems Institute. “So be prompt or even a bit early to show that you are time conscious and that you do care about your job and other people’s time, as well.”

Hoover agrees. “Whether you intend to or not, arriving late shows disrespect to the social contract of the office place, as well as your co-workers who do make an effort to arrive one time.”

Poor e-mail communication.  This can involve everything from not responding to e-mails to not being aware of how you come across in an e-mail.  “You might be perceived as abrupt or rude, or too long-winded or wordy,” Brooks says. If you have a bad habit of taking too long to check or respond to e-mails, you could miss important meetings or deadlines, cause delays or confusion, or come off as unprofessional.

In Pictures: 14 Bad Habits That Can Cost You Your Job

Social media addiction. Another common path to job loss is the habitual obsession that many employees have with social media, Stearns says. “If you said going on Facebook 20 times a day doesn’t interfere with your work, you’d be lying.” Some companies have taken measures to monitor or limit their employees’ social media use, while others have blocked these sites completely. So beware: spending too much time on social media or other websites not related to your work can cost you your job.

Bad body language habits. Do you routinely roll your eyes? Do you have a weak handshake? Do you avoid making eye contact? These could all be career killers. “People must understand that actions speak louder than words,” Peplow says. “And the majority of our communication is done through non-verbal cues.” Co-workers, managers or clients may perceive some of your non-verbal communication habits as rude or unprofessional—and these things could eventually have a significant impact on the advancement of your career.

Inattentiveness.  If you’re always distracted—a bad habit that plenty of employees possess—you might fail to properly assess the culture of the workplace, which can be damaging to your career.  “Each workplace has its own culture and style, whether it’s the official or unofficial dress code, the social atmosphere, or the official and unofficial hierarchy,” Brooks says. “Failure to observe the culture and fit in can create tension or mark you as different, and potentially less desirable.”

You’ll also want to be aware of personal habits that might be offensive or distracting to co-workers. “Working in an office setting demands that you be sensitive to co-workers and not behave in a manner which distracts them from their work or makes their work setting uncomfortable,” she adds. “This can run the range from body odor, bringing strong-smelling food to your cubicle, playing music too loudly, telling inappropriate jokes, or using your speaker-phone to make calls.”

Poor grammar. “When you hear someone using poor grammar, slang, or profanity, it translates into believing that person to be uneducated,” says Peplow. Remind yourself that you are not at home, or speaking with friends at a social gathering.  Be on point by always assuming that your boss is in earshot.

Lone wolf syndrome.  Have a habit of always wanting to do things on your own? That won’t work in the office. “While independence is good in some situations or when concentration is needed to get a project done, generally people who are team players experience more success at work,” Brooks says. “Team-playing involves a lot of positive behaviors including giving credit where it is due (that is, not taking credit for work which a colleague did), helping others when possible, doing tasks that aren’t necessarily in your job description, et cetera.” If you’re not seen as a team player, you won’t have the support of your colleagues when problems arise.

Temper tantrums. If you lose your temper, it is assumed that you cannot work well under pressure or handle responsibilities well, Peplow says. “Practice stress reduction techniques like mediation or deep breathing exercises, and never bring personal problems to work.”

Inefficiency. Bad habits like disorganization, wasting time, and being too talkative can make you an extremely inefficient worker. “You may not realize it, but many of your co-workers are there to work, not socialize, and they may not want to be rude to you by breaking off from personal conversations,” Hoover says. You don’t want to become the person your colleagues avoid working with–so, keep the water cooler talk to a minimum, keep your desk organized and don’t spend too much time on non-work-related tasks.

Speaking without thinking. If you’ve got ‘foot-in-mouth’ syndrome, you must control it in the workplace. Saying something inappropriate in a meeting or an e-mail can be detrimental to your career.

Lack of manners. “The most important things are what we learned when we were little,” Peplow says. When you ask for something, say ‘please.’  When someone gives you something, say ‘thank you.’ If you don’t know someone, introduce yourself.  If you need to interrupt someone, say ‘excuse me.’  “Manners are important, so don’t be rude.  And above all, if you don’t have something nice to say…don’t say anything at all,” she says.

These are just a few bad habits that can cause you to be fired, turned down for a job offer, or looked over for that promotion, Peplow says. “Take a look at yourself and ask others about your habits.” And if you do receive any feedback, take it seriously, Brooks adds. “Try to listen to the concern, and take some time to own it without defensively dismissing it.”

“Much of this comes down to communication,” Hoover concludes. “We all have little annoying habits, and top-down communication is really key [in making employees aware of their bad habits]. From there, it’s up to the individual to correct them.”

Article taken from Forbes by Jacquelyn Smith

Career Tools

Is That The Correct Color?


With many first and second year students embarking on interviews for full time positions and internships, their preparation should go much farther than just a typical Google company search.  Practicing interview questions, researching companies and sourcing LinkedIn profiles are the typical steps to properly preparing, but what you wear is also be a factor that should be heavily considered.  To be sure you are in the appropriate garb, review the infographic below.