The Fabulous Five

Landing a job can be harder than the job itself.

To give you a leg up, here are the five top traits employers look for, according to a recent article by Forbes.

  1. Professionalism: Potential employers assess this from the moment you walk in the door. “From the clothes you wear to the way you stand to the grip of your first hand-shake, presenting yourself as a confident, energetic professional is about as basic as career advice gets. “
  2. High-energy: you want to be the person who raises the energy level, not the stick in the mud. Think about it, who would you rather be around at work?
  3. Confident: sell yourself. If you don’t believe you’re worth it, why should anyone else?
  4. Self-monitoring: no one has the time to babysit you. Make it clear that you’re focused and on task without any help.
  5. Intellectual curiosity: “An employee who will grudgingly adopt a new database is not as attractive as one who is truly passionate about learning new things.”

Do you concur that these are the top five, as an employer or as a coworker? What other traits matter more?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Take the Leap and Clear the Hurdle of Fear

In an article on CNBC, author Tom Reiger discusses a key issue covered in his book Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from Inside Out and What to Do about It.

Due to the past and current economic climate, anxiety and fear has become a staple in the workplace. “In the midst of all of this uncertainty, managers and employees will inevitably feel compelled to build walls to protect themselves, regardless of the impact on the overall company. If left unchecked, this attitude can pit the good of the individual against the greater good of the organization—spelling death for companies.”

Two kids of courage are at play in this situation, and they are at odds:

  1. Vital courage: the inward focus of survival, which could be thought of as our Reptilian brain
  2. Moral courage: our compass of morality that leads us to take a path for the greater good

In companies that have a high level of fear, employees may be asked to make decisions that tap moral courage and suppress vital courage. But humans are wired to focus on our vitals. Thus Reiger advises companies to “make employees feel comfortable and motivated to perform acts of moral courage. The key is to design rewards and performance management in a way that balances and aligns both types of courage. ”

Have you even been in a situation where you felt at odds? Please share!

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Color Me Intrigued

Companies are painting the walls in their offices more hues “to make their offices feel a little homier, or at least like a home office, and seek new ways to motivate employees,” according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Ever wonder why call centers for customer complaints are generally painted green or blue? Soothing colors help service reps maintain their cool. On the other hand, quieter workplaces may want to add a pop of color to brighten up the environment and ambiance.

The four top picks for office spaces according to Behr Process Corporation are:

  1. Canvas Tan (light tan)
  2. Brandy (pink and brown mash-up)
  3. Ozone (grayish blue)
  4. Zen (sea-foam green)

These colors are noticeable enough to add some energy to the room and stimulate employees without reaching distracting levels of external stimuli.

What do you think about the colors of your workplace? Why do you think someone would pick a color called “ozone?”  What color works best for you?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Remote Employees Are More Engaged? Really?

Employees who work remotely are actually more engaged with their teams than their “in-office” counterparts, according to a recent Harvard Business Review study. Surprised?

Our own Keith Ferrazzi has published advice on how dispersed teams can be more productive than co-located teams in Harvard Business Review, and yet my initial reaction was disbelief. How can individuals be more engaged with people they never see than with people down the hall? But author Scott Edinger proposes several possible reasons:

  1. Proximity breeds complacency.  Even co-located teams communicate primarily through email. It’s so easy to walk 100 feet to communicate personally that people take it for granted.
  2. Absence makes people try harder to connect. People make more of an effort to connect when they you don’t ordinarily interact with people.
  3. Leaders of virtual teams make better use of tools. When your primary form of connecting with people is virtual, you master many different modes of communication.
  4. Leaders of far-flung teams maximize the time their teams spend together. When remote people do finally get face-time with people they don’t see often, leaders do everything to maximize the precious time spent together.

Do you agree with Edinger’s suppositions? Have you noticed more engagement with remote teammates?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Check Negative Emotions at the Office Door

Smiling is contagious! And that’s just one example of how our environment and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound impact on our mood. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy work environment. As a recent HBR article points out: “emotional contagion can take down your whole team.”

Author Tony Schwartz makes clear just how much emotions matter in the workplace. Remember the feeling of dreariness that envelops you when you’re at the DMV? Compare that to the level of energy and happiness that charge your experience at the Apple Store.

Emotional contagions can make or break your team. The author enumerates five takeaways on emotions in the workplace: Continue reading

The Secret Formula That Will Score You a Meeting with ANY VIP – from Christine Comaford

During her Social Capitalist Interview, multi-hyphenate Christine Comaford (author, entrepreneur, consultant, coach…) shared the secrets from her blog post titled: “I Stalked Steve Jobs and How to Get a Meeting with Any VIP.”

Christine says:

“It’s not that hard to get a meeting with any VIP. The quick recipe is to ask for five minutes of their time in exchange for you giving five hours to their favorite nonprofit.

So you’ve got to do some homework. When you first connect with them, send a letter. I prefer a letter that’s typed and sent via FedEx. One of my clients, a huge high-level executive at Deloitte just used this approach. He finally got through to someone he’s been trying to reach for three months.

You figure out what it is that you want: I want five minutes of advice from Joe Blow. So then you send a letter, one page or less. Don’t ramble on. Just say, ‘Wow, I really admire the accomplishments that you’ve made, Joe Blow, in your life. I want to do that too. I would love to ask you for five minutes of advice.’ Continue reading

Five Ways to Maximize Your Influence as the Most Junior Person on a Team

Last week I went on my first business trip. As could be expected, I was a little scared but mostly just excited. I was the most junior person on the team, and realized quickly that I could make a difference even with my limited experience. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Over prepare. If there’s even the smallest possibility that you might need that digital recorder, take it. You never know!
  2. Be prepared to be flexible. You’re probably not going to know where you’re needed in the next 15 minutes, let alone the next hour. Take cues from your environment and find a way to be useful even if things aren’t going exactly according to plan. Believe me, usually they don’t. Continue reading

How Networking Affects Your Paycheck

“Among executive board members, women earn 17 percent less than their male counterparts,” according to a recent Economist article.

The article offer explanations for why this might be the case, including career interruptions associated with having kids and simple discrimination. But the most interesting of these possible explanations is the idea that women’s networking style isn’t as effective for career climbing as men’s.

The author suggests that women tend to have smaller networks, but with stronger relationship ties. Men meanwhile stack up weak ties, or acquaintances, and do a better job keeping a high profile within those broad networks. Weak ties are well known to be the more frequent source of new jobs and opportunities. Continue reading

Be Honest About What You Want and You Just Might Get It

Sometimes the line from what you are doing right now to what you wish you were doing is not a straight one. During his Social Capitalist interview with Never Eat Alone co-author Tahl Raz, James Altucher shared a story about how, rather than attempting to map that path on the sly, coming clean about what you really want can be the best way to make it happen.

Everybody who works in a company should be thinking in this way that I’m describing. Sincere voices always rise to the top. And if they don’t, then that’s not the business for you to be in. When I worked at HBO, the television network, I was a junior programmer in the IT department. But what I really wanted to do was have a TV show. So first, I pitched to them special things I thought they should do on their website that I could do which sort of seemed like TV shows. And then I pitched directly to their television department: “Here’s an idea I would like to do for your television show.” Then they give me the opportunity to do it. They paid me to do a pilot. Continue reading

Cool New Apps to Fuel Your Job Hunt

One of the places where past investments in social capital pay back major dividends is when you are in the market for a new job. Having an inside connection at any company can up your chances of finding out about new opportunities early, and making sure your credentials get in front of the right people. Luckily, there are an array of tools emerging to make the entire process more efficient, and yes, even enjoyable.

You are probably already familiar with the ways that LinkedIn can help uncover connections you didn’t even realize existed. Whether you find job postings right on the LinkedIn site or elsewhere, a quick search to see if you have someone on the inside at your dream company should be part of your application process.

To take your LinkedIn profile to the next level, check out Re.Vu - a cool way to create a visually appealing storyboard of your past experience. To see what I mean, check out my Re.Vu page. Their site pulls your history from the LinkedIn site and gives you lots of options to add more information to flesh out and portray your past in an engaging way. My favorite part? The time graph of employment history – my past has never seemed so exciting. Sharing your Re.Vu site is more efficient than carrying around paper resumes and easy for friends to pass along on your behalf. Continue reading