5 Healthy Work Habits for 2013

This is the time of year when some of us sheepishly and quietly give up on our New Year’s resolutions. This annual ritual has inspired the development of dozens of apps designed to help you be more productive and to develop and keep healthy habits. These apps can remind you to floss, eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise, or get more sleep. Here is my take on the five habits you should adopt to have a healthier year at the office.

Get more sleep. You may think that you can function on five hours a night, but most of you are wrong. Humans function at an optimal level on seven or eight hours a night, and getting less each night is the equivalent of coming to work drunk. Sleep deprivation can cause slow reaction times, slurred speech and lower cognitive functioning. Not to mention that you look like heck – hardly the way to impress your boss.

Stand up more. Getting up each hour (using an app like Healthy Habits can create a gentle alarm to remind you) to take a good stretch and perhaps a short walk around the office can help you remain alert, perform your job better, and may even help you live longer. In studies, workers who sat less than three hours a day actually improved their life span by over two years on average.

Drink on the job. Water, or course. Many Americans are chronically dehydrated, which can have effects on your digestion, blood pressure and overall health. If you’re not drinking enough water, chances are you are not performing at your best. That headache you get in the afternoon, or the case of the munchies that shows up after work? Could be that you’re just thirsty. (Hint: feeling thirsty is one of the last symptoms of dehydration.) Get a cup or reusable bottle, add a squeeze of citrus to add some flavor, and drink your eight glasses.

Wash your hands more.  Studies have shown that most offices are bacterial breeding grounds.  Shared bathrooms and kitchens present lots of obvious opportunities to pick up viruses and bacteria, but your own desk may also be a hazard. Buy some antibacterial wipes and wipe down hard surfaces. Make it a point to wash your hands with hot soapy water several times a day in addition to the times you use the bathroom or handle food. Or keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk and use it.

Pack your lunch. Eating out is expensive and is probably responsible for those extra pounds you’re carrying.  Even healthier choices of foods may be served in portions that add lots more calories than you need. Making lunch at home allows you to save money, control your portions, and make healthier choices like including more fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t have to be hard to accomplish, either; cook a little extra at dinner and pack some of the leftovers in single serving containers for the next day. Or split your meal when you dine out and box half of it for lunch the next day.

Healthy is the new sexy for 2013. Try these tips on for a few weeks. You’ll feel better, perform better and may literally be able to run circles around the competition.

This posting was written by Candace Moody, a writer and career expert. Her background includes Human Resources, recruiting, training and assessment. Follow her blog at: http://atworkjax.wordpress.com/

This is a guest post contributed by the Ivy Exec Blog. Ivy Exec is an exclusive site where pre-screened, high caliber professionals find relevant job opportunities with leading companies. To find out more, connect with them on Facebook <http://www.facebook.com/IvyExec>  or read their company information on CrunchBase <http://www.crunchbase.com/company/ivy-exec> .

Thank you!

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

How To Network Without Annoying People

A jobseeker asked: It seems that everyone has caught on to networking. I can almost feel people cringe when I ask them if they know someone who can help me find a job. With so many people on the market and everyone networking, how can you still network without annoying your contacts?

Don’t ask for a job or imply anything close when you network. It puts the person on the defensive. It’s intrusive. It’s annoying.

But absolutely keep networking. Networking is critical to the jobseeker. Most jobs are filled via referrals, not ads. Getting inside is especially important in a slow economy, when companies cut recruiting costs. Here are some tips to network without being annoying:

Make a reasonable case for why you are networking. I recruited for a firm that only placed senior strategy consultants. We received countless inquiries from people with no background or interest in consulting. Do your homework, and only ask for things that are relevant to the people you approach.

If you approach someone repeatedly, say something different each time. Your first approach might be an informational interview. Your second approach might be a personalized thank you for the interview. Your third approach might be an interesting insight about what you discussed. Each time, new information is shared.

Use the information you are collecting. In the above example, information gleaned from the first interview is useful at least two more times. It is also useful when networking with other people in the field. You appear knowledgeable about the industry when you share insights from one insider with others.

Remember to maintain the network. When your search is over, circle back to the people who helped you along the way. Get into the habit of not only calling people for help, but of building genuine relationships.

This is a guest post contributed by the Ivy Exec Blog. Ivy Exec is an exclusive site where pre-screened, high caliber professionals find relevant job opportunities with leading companies. To find out more, please connect with them on Facebook <http://www.facebook.com/IvyExec>  or read their company information on CrunchBase <http://www.crunchbase.com/company/ivy-exec> .

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

 


It’s Not Too Late To Set A Career Plan For 2013

If you haven’t laid out a plan of action for 2013 you’ve missed an opportunity to gain a head start against your competitors for career rewards. Take that critical step today by creating what I call a “Gap Plan.”

Gap Planning is composed of three steps: (1) take an inventory of where you are today; (2) set stretch goals for the coming year; and (3) lay out a plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be December 31, 2013.

Step 1: Review 2012

Begin with a detailed review of last year. Back off, take a good objective look at those 12 months; write a comprehensive overview covering at least these seven points:

1.Changes in job responsibilities.

2.Changes in compensation.

3.Your performance, positive and negative, as you see it, and as your employer judges it compared to previous years.

4. Achievement of your stated goals for the year.

5.Progress in education/training related to your career.

6.Status of your on-the-job relationships, with your boss and    your co-workers. Any changes during the year as compared with the past?

7.Business conditions for your employer.

Conclude with a summary of the year as a whole. Build it around these six questions:

1. Are you satisfied with what you accomplished? If not, why not

2. What were your three greatest achievements?

3. What were your three greatest failures or mistakes

4. What impediments, if any, held you back?

5. What did you learn from your experiences?

6. How satisfied were you with your current situation at work as compared with the past?

Step 2: Set Goals For 2013

Spend time carefully reflecting on your review document. Don’t rush it. Then set your goals for 2013.

Make certain your goals are a real stretch, but still attainable with your best effort. Don’t set yourself up for frustration and disappointment.

Step 3: Create A Plan To Fill The Gap

Develop a detailed path of action in writing to bridge the gap between your current situation and your goals for the next 12 months. Include ways to measure progress at specified intervals. Set rewards to be handed to yourself as you reach milestones along the way.

Here are four final thoughts on Gap Planning:

1. Always think of your Gap Plan as a binding contract you have made with yourself.

2. Don’t let the sheer size of the challenges defeat you. Think of each goal as a series of smaller, manageable tasks to be accomplished day to day and plan accordingly.

3. Guard against straying off your path. Do not accept any diversions that hinder your campaign for the achievement of your goals.

4. Start now, this day.  Don’t let another year slip by – lost forever – without measurable progress toward your goals.

It has been said, “He that resolves upon any great and good end has, by that very resolution, scaled the chief barrier to it.”

I wish you career success in 2013 !!!!!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career Advice: How To Survive The Company Holiday Party

This excellent advice from the staff at Ivy Exec.

The holiday season has arrived and many of you will face the company holiday party with a mixture of anticipation and dread – anticipation for the chance to mingle informally with colleagues and make a positive impression; dread about making a career misstep that could be a setback, if not career suicide.

Here are some simple rules to keep in mind that will maximize your enjoyment of the event and protect your professional reputation:

1. Attend:

Attendance is not optional. Plan your departure time in advance and stick to it. Arrive on time. Stay at least an hour before making an exit. Make sure any early exit is quick and discrete. On the flip side, don’t be the last to leave, either.

2. Dress For Success:

Be conservative in your sartorial selections. This is not the event to make a fashion statement. You do not want to be remembered the day after for what you wore (or didn’t…)

3. Network:

This is time to mingle and mix with colleagues from other departments and more senior managers. If you do this well, you can effectively begin building and even strengthening relationships.
• Do some research pre-event so you know who’s who, and think through some business relevant points you’d like to make if you have the chance.
• Be gracious and introduce anyone you bring as your guest to your colleagues.

4. Exercise self-restraint:

In this age of instantaneous social media, don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t be proud to share with the “world.”
 Don’t overdo the alcohol (e.g., pace yourself with non-alcoholic choices outnumbering alcoholic choices at least 2 to 1)
• Don’t overdo the food (e.g., probably not a good idea to stake out territory by the buffet table.)
• Don’t overdo it on the dance floor (e.g., take a pass on burning up the dance floor with your latest and greatest moves.)
• Limit “shop talk” as much as possible and engage in appropriate small talk (e.g., no gossip, off color remarks, or griping/whining/moaning )
• Do not flirt or pursue a “romantic interest” — save it for non-work related opportunities.5. Be Present:

Turn your cell phones off and be totally present in the moment. You can do this for an hour or two. Trust us!

A company holiday party is a business function that has social aspects. If you keep this fact up front and center at all times you’ll have nothing to dread and everything to gain. Just keep “moderation” as your mantra and relax and enjoy the festivities!

I wish you success with your career including a Happy Holiday and a Great 2013.

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

For more advice on how to accelerate your career during tough times participate in Ramon Greenwood’s widely read Common Sense At Work Blog. His e-book, How To Get The Pay Raise You’ve Earned is available from Amazon.

 

 

Career Advice: Learn To Trust Your Gut Reactions

Do you trust your gut reactions when it comes to making decisions?

You may call it intuition, gut reaction, hunch, imagination or sixth sense. Whatever, until you are ready to depend on that “quick and ready insight” (Webster’s definition) that empowers you to make decisions based on “just knowing” beyond hard facts and figures, you will not function at full speed on your career path.

About 80 percent of CEOs use intuition in their decisions, according to a study at McGill University.

Albert Einstein believed that his theory of relativity was the result of a flash of insight, not his study of the objective, data-oriented research in his laboratory. “The really valuable factor was intuition,” he declared.

Dr. Jonas Salk, the creator of anti-polio vaccine, said, “It is always with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss up to me, like gifts from the sea. I work with it and rely upon it. It’s my partner.”

How Decisions Are Made

Brains are made up of two hemispheres. The left side is the part where logical, sequential, rational and verbal processes take place. The right side is the place where imaginative, artistic and creative activities are conducted. The best decisions are made when both sides are hitting on all cylinders.

It’s far simpler and more comfortable to understand and rely on the process of gathering facts. But facts can take us only so far in the total process. If we are to make good, solid decisions that build career success we also have to rely on intuition. It is there that the facts we have gathered are rolled around in our mind, bounced off our sub-conscious storehouse of all we have experienced, felt and known (aka our universal information matrix).

Then if we are cooking on all cylinders the mysterious intuition factor comes in a flash. Eureka! We see the decision. (Often, the first idea will turn out to be the best.) At that point, the logical side of our brain comes back into play to measure the soundness of our finding.

Four Career Tips

There are four steps involved in intuition-based decision making:

1. Gather facts.

2. Let them stew or incubate in our intuition tank.

3. Feel the Eureka insight of a decision.

4. Verify the decision.

Discipline, Faith and Courage

The kind of good decision-making that translates to career success requires discipline, faith and courage.

Fact gathering must come to an end at some point. Else, we would grind to a halt…paralysis by analysis. Discipline is required because going back time and time again for more data is a cozy way to put off decisions and action.

We have to have faith that our intuitive powers are real and powerful. We often have to go against the tide and withstand the ridicule of our associates. The left sphere of our brain, the seat of logic, may try to persuade us to deny our intuition. Logic always has the potential to smother intuition.

Know at the bottom line that the power of intuition separates winners from also-rans on the career path.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

 

Career Advice: 13 Steps To Cope With Losing Your Job

In times of economic turmoil anyone can get the axe at any time. It happens to good people and bad ones…hard workers as well as slackers.

Therefore, plans for your career path should include knowing what to do to survive and reach your career goals should you ever get the dreaded “pink slip”.

13 Career Tips To Survive and Prosper Losing Your Job

1. Keep in mind that the idea of womb to tomb job security is as dead as a hammer. Be loyal to your present employer, but never develop a romance with the organization. Know that the relationship can end at any time. There is enough suffering in store for anyone over the loss of a job without adding the pains of an unrequited love. Look out for yourself first.

2. Be alert and well informed at all times about the outlook for your employer and your job. If you know things are going down the drain, begin a below-the-radar search for other opportunities. If the axe falls, you’ll have a head start on finding another job.

3. Stay prepared financially.  Always try to have enough cash in reserve to cover at least three months living expenses.

4. Keep your skills up to date with the needs of the job market.  Capitalize on opportunities for additional training.  Read the literature of your field.

5. Maintain an up-to-date record of your accomplishments so you can produce a resume in 24 hours.

6. Nurture contacts with people in your line of work and with those likely to employ your type of qualifications.  Be visible through outside activities and positive publicity.

7. Help others who lose their jobs.  Also, be of assistance to those who are looking to recruit employees. They may help you some day.

8. Understand your emotions.

Psychologist Bill Weber says getting fired is very much like dealing with the death of a loved one.

“The first reaction is denial, or wishful thinking.  There’s been a mistake.  This can’t be true,” Dr. Weber says.  “Then the shock sets in, followed by anger, depression, frustration and fear.  Worst of all is the loss of self-esteem.”

9. Let it go. Allow some time for grieving, but not too much.  Don’t just sit there feeling sorry for yourself. It’s natural to be angry with your employer, but don’t let your feelings show. You may need his help in your job search. Negotiate the best possible severance package possible for continuing pay and benefits, particularly insurance coverage.  Don’t forget good references, too.

10. Start immediately to launch your search for another, better job. Use this time to reassess your career goals.  Define the job that will enable you to achieve these objectives.

11. Prepare a plan to market yourself.  Let it be known you are available; “advertise” what you have to offer.  Involve your network of friends and family in the job search.

12. Be patient. Recognize it will take time to find another acceptable position.

13. Don’t panic.  If you possibly can afford to wait, don’t jump on the first opportunity that comes down the pike, unless, of course, it really matches up with your objectives.

Fix two facts firmly in your mind for achieving career success in difficult times.

1. Anyone can lose their job at any time.

2. People often end up with better jobs than the ones from which they were fired.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

FINDING WORK/LIFE BALANCE WHEN YOU WORK FOR AN OVERACHIEVER

(Recently Ivyexec.com CEO and Founder, Elena Bajic, shared her thoughts on how to find work life balance when you work for a “Dragon Boss”.)

I can relate to working for a “Dragon Boss.” Not so much because I ever did, but because I was a “Dragon Boss” in my day—long ago before three kids, a dog, a live-in mother-in-law and a house in the suburbs, far, far, far away from NYC forced me to re-prioritize. In my “Dragon Boss” days I was 125% committed to my company, my boss (who was the CEO), and to delivering versus objectives—flawlessly. Young professionals with few external distractions fared best on my analyst team since our success demanded single– minded purpose.

I was transitioning out of my all-consuming job and had identified my successor—a talented finance professional who was a mom with two children. I remember her leaving at 5pm her first week on the job. Here was the building opportunity of a lifetime and she was leaving at 5pm. She would make dinner for her children, help them with homework and then work until 1am to stay on top of the workload. She was a consummate professional. Work/life balance? I didn’t get it. Then…

I get it now. I recently returned to the work force after a prolonged hiatus to raise a family. I love my new job, but now I’m the one dashing out the door at 5pm when the rest of the office is in full swing, swallowing guilt over the early departure because I have a long commute home, and children to feed and tuck in for the night. I am grateful I don’t work for the “old me.”

If work/life balance is important to you, necessary for you, here are some must do’s to manage the expectations of your “Dragon Boss.”

  1. Before you take a job, be totally honest with your prospective boss about the hours you will be available to work and stick to them.
  2. Make every minute at the office count. Minimize the chitchat. Carry in lunch, if you can. Try to work with maximum efficiency every day.
  3. Make every minute of your commute count, too. If you take public transit, use the time to reply to emails, organize your day’s work and tomorrow’s, and catch up on paperwork. If you are driving, and can safely do so, use that time to return phone calls.
  4. Think through your game plan for the day and tomorrow.
  5. Never over promise, even if you are by nature an overachiever and believe you CAN DELIVER.
  6. Just make your best effort every day.

I wish you great career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

 

Great Questions To Ask During Interviews

(This excellent article by Elena Batic , founder and CEO of Ivy Exec was originally written for FORBES magazine.)

I recently interviewed a candidate for a key position at my company.  I’d had several phone conversations with him and had finally brought him in to meet the team in person.  He seemed to be just the right fit for us, with the skills and experience set to handle the job, and then some.

BUT….there was a “but”…

I was perplexed because each time we asked the candidate if he had any questions, none were forthcoming.    Despite all the time we invested in this candidate, and all the openings we gave him to “ask away”, we couldn’t gauge his interest level in the job opportunity or in the company. Hmm….

Then finally, he asked a question…a great question… How does “X” get done here? “X” being the most important piece of work the candidate would be responsible for, e.g., it could be building a piece of code, creating a financial model, creating a marketing campaign, or whatever…

What makes this a great question?  The information you’d extract from the answer is practical.  It helps you understand how you will navigate your new work environment.  It also helps you build an accurate image in your head of what you’ll do your first day on the job.  Sure, you should ask questions about the long term strategy and financial position of the company, but don’t forget to ask this simple question.  It will provide great insight into your future day-to-day experiences.

With this question you will learn…

*just how collaborative or individual the work process will be.

*exactly who/how many people you will have to work with to get your job done.

*how aggressive the work pace is / the timelines are.

*what physical resources you will have available to actually do the work assigned to you.

*how much “content” already exists and  is available to build on vs. how much “content” you will have to create from scratch, and

*how high the overall “expectations” bar for the role is set.

And a final note to all of those who are interviewing — always have questions prepared. Not just this question, but as many thoughtful questions as you can think of. If you don’t ask questions during an interview process, your interviewer(s) will wonder if you fully understand the opportunity and are serious about it. If you don’t ask questions, I guarantee that you will have a harder “sell” ahead to convince your interviewer(s) that you really do want to join the team, and you may not get the chance.

Questions you NEVER ask in a job interview:

  1. Never ask if you can change the job details.”
  2.  Never ask about gossip you’ve heard.
  3. Never ask questions about the interviewer’s background.
  4. Never ask about pay, time off, benefits until you have an offer firmly in hand.
  5. Never ask “Do you do background checks?”
  6. Never ask “What does your company do?”
  7. Never ask “How quickly can I be promoted?
  8. Never ask “If I am hired, when can I start applying for other positions in the company?
  9.  Never ask if the company monitors e-mail and Internet usage.”

To get more advice on how to accelerate your career during tough times participate in Ramon Greenwood’s widely read Common Sense At Work Blog <http://commonsenseatwork.com> He coaches from a successful career as Senior VP at American Express, author of career-related books, successful entrepreneur, and a senior executive/consultant in Fortune 500 companies. For more info go to free career coaching.

 

 

 

Persistence, The Key To Success

“Persistence is probably the single most common quality of high achievers,” says Jack Canfield, renowned career coach and author of the best selling book, The Success Principles. “They simple refuse to give up. The longer you hang in there, the greater the chance that something will happen in your favor…the longer you persist the more likely your success.”

Consider the wisdom embedded in these declarations by high achievers.

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from the winning touchdown.” H. Ross Perot, billionaire and former presidential candidate.

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight times.” Japanese proverb.

“Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Calvin Coolidge, thirtieth president of the United States.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

 

 

Why Use A Search Firm To Attract and Hire Senior Consulting Talent?

There are some basic reasons why to use a search firm to hire any senior executive.  There are reasons specific to consulting, and there are some situations where it does not make sense to use a firm.

 Why use a search firm at all?

A good search firm provides specific professional expertise, which cannot be replicated using other resources.  Just as you use an attorney or an auditor, search professionals provide outside expertise to help your business function more efficiently.  Retained search provides:

  • Dedicated representation of your firm in a competitive hiring marketplace.
  • Access to the highest quality candidates, particularly if you hire a firm specializing in your field.
  • Ability to provide a strong case for passive candidates.  Candidates who are not looking generally make the best hires.
  • A justification of their own expense by saving you time, and by ensuring a quick and successful hire.  Delayed hiring or poor choices cost much more than a search fee.

Why Use A Specialty Search Firm For A Consulting Hire?

The placement of consultants provides challenges unique to executive search.   If you are looking for candidates from professional services firms, you should consider the following:

  • Consultants generally work in matrixed environments making it more difficult to identify candidates, than if they worked in a conventional management structure.
  • Many consultants have a variety of skills and experiences, so the ability to identify their strongest capabilities can present a challenge.
  • Consultants are moving targets and can be difficult to manage through a typical search process.
  • Consultants are business-savvy and must be approached with a strong marketing message in order to attract them.

Using and industry-focused, functionally-focused or generalist firm in consulting search is a risky proposition.

 

When To Avoid Using A Search Firm

Many senior hires are made without the benefit of a search firm.  There are a number of circumstances where it is best to avoid working with a search professional:

  • When the position is not clearly defined.
  • When you have a strong network specifically in the area. This is generally the case when a strong partner is hired, who has a following of more junior consultants.
  • When you are recruiting positions with many potential candidates.  These may be junior people or consultants with easily identifiable and broadly available skill sets.  Usually, these positions can be filled with help of a contingent recruiter or in-house recruiter.
  • When you have the time to dedicate to conducting the search yourself.  This is generally not the case for a hiring executive, but running the process yourself may give you insight into how and why to use a search firm.

If you find a search firm that suits your company and can successfully fill open positions, they usually justify their expense. Your due diligence should cover the firm’s expertise and track record in your area. You may also look for a firm willing to risk a portion of their fee to offset your own risk.  Your financial commitment to the search firm will return on your investment by providing high quality representation and an effective hire?

This Posting Created By The Staff At Ivy Exec.com