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  1. Bad News, You Didn’t Get The Job… What Next?

    March 17, 2015 by Jenna

    You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

    At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

    Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

    • Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

    • Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

    • Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

    • Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

    Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

    What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?


  2. Don’t forget your office etiquette!

    November 10, 2014 by Jenna

    When we think of the term ‘etiquette’, we often think of table manners or presenting ourselves professionally and politely in a social setting.

    Whether you are new to a role or have been working in the company for a long time, office etiquette is also an important factor that needs to be applied daily. You may be wondering, ‘What are some of the office etiquette factors that I need to be aware of?’ A recent article on Careerealism.com outlines the basics so that you don’t get caught out making these mistakes:

    That Text (Or Facebook Update) Can Wait

    While smartphones and tablets are advantageous in providing us with information instantly, setting reminders, etc. Be careful not to all them to become a hindrance when it comes to your meetings or presentations.

    How would you feel if you are trying to close a business deal with a client to observe them as they stare at their phone and answer a text during your pitch? The same would apply to an internal meeting with staff if you are sharing ideas with the group only to see that no one is paying attention because they are reading their Facebook updates.

    While we all believe we are great multi-taskers, if we lack engagement or connection with others it can be damaging to workplace relationships. You may also miss out on information relating to important tasks which in turn could affect your performance. So make sure to prepare in advance for your meeting. Advise management and others that you are attending meetings so that you will receive less distractions, and if need be, switch off any devices that may ‘beep’ or ‘ping’ during that allocated time frame.

    Engagement and human interaction is still a vital part of business and maintaining connections with others so make it count. Be present.

    Pretend There’s A Wall

    This needs to be considered in an open office space. While you have free reign to walk around and interact, it is still important to respect and consider others and their personal space. This includes:

    • Talking loudly or over someone else’s shoulder when they are on the phone
    • Keeping your paperwork and office items within your desk space and not allowing it to spill over onto someone else’s desk
    • Setting your phone to silent every time you receive a message or call

    If you are respectful of others and their space, they will be respectful towards you in return.

    For Workplace Fashion, Go With The Crowd

    This doesn’t mean that you need to wear the latest Cue dress or business suit, but obviously be aware of your office environment and how others present themselves. Different workplaces will allow different dress codes but you don’t want to appear like you have rolled out of bed when others are dressed in corporate attire. Find out from management what they expect from you in terms of attire, and remember that how you present yourself is showing a representation of your company image. So why not dress to impress?

    Gossip On Your Own Time

    Whether you are the source of it or partaking in it, office gossip (or gossip of any kind) should be conducted in your own time and not in the workplace. It’s not only a distraction, but it can also create tension in the workplace if the gossip is of negative nature. If someone else is trying to administer it, take your initiative to coordinate an appropriate time to discuss topics. For example your lunch break or at after work drinks. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you are too busy at the time to join in the conversation, otherwise it could affect your workplace productivity too.

    Believe It Or Not, You Can Still Learn Some Things

    This involves paying respect to other employees’ ideas and contributions to tasks, even if you would do the job differently yourself. Take the time to listen to what they have to say, especially if they have new suggestions that could improve outcomes of tasks, because you would hope for the same respect in return.

    While you may have been hired as an expert in your field you should still be open to new suggestions, feedback and even changes within the workplace. It is never too early or too late to learn new things.

    Don’t Search For Jobs On The Job

    Believe it or not I have heard of employees doing this before, and to get caught doing so at your current place of work is quite embarrassing. It also demonstrates a lack of respect and loyalty to your current employer.

    The same thing applies to telling colleagues that you are looking for another role before bringing it up to management. As office gossip can go around, this may potentially damage your current position before you even find the potential new role. If you feel it is time to move on, keep your job search within your own time and conduct it with discretion.


  3. The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking

    May 28, 2013 by Jenna

    For some people it can be quite easy to approach someone in a room full of people and begin a conversation. For others, it can be extremely uncomfortable and something you approach with confusion, hesitation, and for some a sense of dread.

    I know personally when I attend a networking event, I get nervous. Like public speaking, you are in a room full of complete strangers. Because you are connecting with someone new it takes time to let your guard down. You may fear what people think of you, and without trying to judge, we often do on our first meeting.

    But connecting with others is vital for business and career success. So perhaps it isn’t ‘networking’ itself that we don’t enjoy so much as how we approach the concept of networking. For many, networking = attending networking events, handing out business cards and “hard-sell”. It can seem fake, pretentious and impersonal.

    I have been in situations where I get approached by individuals who try and find out where I rank in the company so that they can try and sell me a service without any interest in who I am or what I do. And I am afraid to admit that there are too many people out there that do this, and I find it exhausting. However, the definition of networking is:

    Networking: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. (Miriam Webster)

    So how can we turn our perception of networking around from “fake” to “productive”?

    I tend to approach individuals in networking situations that aren’t in a big social group or who aren’t walking to each individual collecting a handful of business cards. I find that often the quiet person in the room is often the most interesting person to engage with, and at the same time I often lend them a bit of relief by approaching them first if networking isn’t their strong point.

    So let’s begin with outlining the benefits of networking. I found a blog post from Flora Lowther on The Undercover Recruiter website who describes the benefits below:

    Networking has the ability to open many windows and doors to anyone at any stage of their career. Meeting and talking to the right people can earn you free advice, awareness of you and your company, word-of-mouth referrals and if done correctly, networking has the potential to gain you credibility, trust, professionalism, knowledge and expertise.

    Keeping all of this in mind, the next two questions you should ask yourself would be what is my current networking approach? What areas could I improve upon or change?

    What makes us appear at our best when we attend a networking opportunity? The Undercover Recruiter blog goes on to describe the dos and don’ts which I have summarised below:

    Do’s

    • Put your best foot forward – Say hello and engage, chances are the person is just as nervous as you are.
    • Elevator pitch – We have discussed this in previous blogs, make the time that you have count with that person. Don’t bore them with a long winded story about your life. Keep them engaged, bring out the best in you in the time that you have and make it memorable.
    • Business cards – Make sure that you have enough with you. I have been to a couple of networking events where people have run out or ‘forgot’ their business cards. How do you expect people to remember you if you don’t have your company details on hand? Even if you don’t get contacted right away after and event, people can keep your business cards and when they require your services later down the track they at least have a means of contacting you.
    • Follow up – Touching base after an event is nice because it is easy to get caught up in your work routine or get distracted, but a follow up call reconnects you with that individual and shows your keen interest in maintaining that professional relationship from that point forward.
    • Listen and learn – Remember you can’t offer the right services if you cannot establish the wants and needs of the other person. Take the time to listen to what they want and share information with each other. You never know what you can gain from someone else’s information or experiences.
    • Quid-pro-quo – You cannot expect to get something without offering anything in return. Perhaps establish offers ahead of time before the networking event and negotiate with that individual.
    • Patience is a virtue – Don’t expect to reap the rewards immediately. Good things come to those who wait.
    • Prepare questions – Anticipate the kind of people you are likely to meet and think about what you would like to ask them, what you would like to learn from them.

    Don’ts

    • Don’t be timid – This can often involve going to the ‘safe option’ of talking to people that you already know. I am guilty of this too, but networking isn’t just for the flamboyant big shots or charismatic colleagues. We need to step outside of our comfort zone sometimes.
    • Don’t only speak to one person – The more people the better, for your own brand awareness and your organisation.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Everyone is scared of appearing ignorant or stupid but there is no need. After all we are also attending networking events to gain knowledge and experiences from others too right?
    • Avoid overzealous self-promotion – This tactic is more likely to annoy than build valuable relationships.
    • Don’t forget to follow up – Remember there are also social media connections such as LinkedIn where you can connect and send a follow up email. And if you initiate a ‘coffee’ meeting, make sure you stick with your promise and organise it within a time frame after the event.
    • Don’t get drunk – Especially at the more informal meet-ups, there is the chance they will be serving alcohol.

    I think one way or another we have been guilty of a few don’ts. But we are all human beings, and we are often in the same boat. So instead of fearing the individuals in the room or ranking them far higher above than you, place them on the same playing field and approach them to make conversation. What is the worst that can really happen?

    If you don’t make a connection with one person out of five it is not the end of the world. We can’t please everyone, but at least you have made the effort.

    Ever had a networking experience that opened doors or took you on an unexpected journey? We would love to hear your stories.


  4. How do you want to develop your career? – By Narelle Hess

    April 23, 2013 by Jenna

    I was recently invited to be a guest speaker at a lunch-and-learn session about career development, or more specifically how I developed my career.

    I began the presentation by asking the room how they got to be in their current career. Did you plan to be here? A splattering of hands went up around the room. Did you fall into your current career? Overwhelmingly the majority of the hands were raised. But we have already read about the impact of how much luck or chance can have on our careers.

    What is even more surprising to me, however, is how many people discount their current job or career as inferior because it wasn’t “chosen” or “planned”. There is this sense that those that always knew what they wanted are the ideal. But of course I am actually yet to meet someone who is that person who knew what they wanted to be, got there and it was happy ever after. If so, in the words of He’s Just Not That in to you (I can quote chick flicks can’t I?), ‘they are the exception.’ Because a career is not a destination, making a career decision is just the beginning of the start of our career development.

    1. Enjoy the ride – what can you learn now to help you at the next career stage?

    Most of us followed our interests, abilities, and skills applied for jobs and then somehow ended up where we sit today. I am one of those people. I had an interest in people so I studied psychology, but when I was 17 years old and began my university degree, I didn’t know what an Organisational Psychologist was. But it was these undergraduate studies, majoring in sport psychology, with an emphasis on motivation, performance and mental readiness that laid the perfect foundation for my current career.

    I think we each have an opportunity to enjoy our current ride. Whether it was planned or by chance – you can either lament the fact that you are not completely happy or take the steps you need to develop the career to where you want to take it. Learn about yourself through the projects you take on and the current stage in your career – what are your strengths, what do you hate, what do you love, and what are you most passionate about? A colleague at work noted for her career success came from “Always saying yes when asked to do something extra that may be out of your job scope.” – What are you saying yes to you? What can you learn now that will help you at the next career stage?

    2. Career goals to direct your action – and the skills to adapt to changing circumstances

    For me both long-term goals and short-term goals helped direct my path. But so often we stumble with the question where do I want to be in 5 years’ time? Naturally the flaw with long-term goals is the uncertainty. Because let’s also remember that 5 years ago the smart phone mayhem was only just beginning. Today because of that mania millions of new jobs and numerous new careers have been launched. How can we possibly know what we will be doing in 5 years when the job we will have then, may not even exist yet?

    But, having a vision or a long-term dream about where you want to take your career – helps motivate your efforts towards that direction. Another of my colleagues when asked what is career success? Stated “doing something you love/care about/passionate for” – for many living our passion every day doesn’t happen overnight, it takes hard work, commitment, education or skill development. Setting yourself a long-term goal, helps to keep us motivated as we take these smaller term goals to achieve this long-term vision.

    We of course need short-term goals to continue the momentum and motivate action. I review my direction in yearly increments, whilst also setting longer term goals to motivate these smaller steps. Each year I review where I am against where I want to achieve this year, often they are learning goals (i.e. a knowledge / skill or ability I want to learn). As one of my colleagues concluded career success comes from “achieving goals rather than spinning wheels”. What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months? What do you need help with that your current company can offer you to help to take that next step?

    3. You’ve got a friend in me – the importance of networking and mentors

    Without question, I am where I am today because of the people that saw in me skills and abilities that I didn’t have the skill yet to see in myself. During the course of the presentation I was asked how I made these connections. The simple answer is: being in the right place at the right time. You may have a great manager who you see as a mentor, who can help you create your long-term vision and short-term goals. If not, you may need to go outside your organisation.

    For me I was lucky enough to have mentors in my immediate managers. But I also stepped outside my comfort zone and expanded my network through attending professional association networking and professional development functions. It was through these experiences that I was able to connect with like-minded colleagues, which helped me to collaborate on projects internationally and across Australia – projects that I would never have had the chance to create if I didn’t go out there, connect and create them.

    Mentors were critical for career success for all of my colleagues – each one mentioned the need for others to believe in them and help them to stretch outside of their comfort zone. Who are your mentors? And if you don’t have mentors in your current organisation – what events will you attend to interact and meet with your future connections?

    I was asked at the end of the presentation where I plan to go to next – I didn’t have a succinct answer – I guess most of us don’t have a succinct answer. But for me I am going to be enjoying my current ride, I have a long-term vision, some short-term goals to motivate my effort – and of course look to connect with others to help create my next career opportunities. How do you want to develop your career?


  5. Why it’s great to be a temp – By Lauren Eardley

    March 4, 2013 by Jenna

    As a Temp turned Recruitment Consultant, I have certainly been exposed to both sides of the temping story. I have seen how temping can benefit both the company and the individual. The future is set to bring an increase in temporary, part-time and flexible working arrangements which means more opportunities for candidates interested in short-term work and looking for a change. Temping certainly isn’t for everybody but for some it offers fantastic opportunities to sample industries which you may never have set foot into before. If you are looking for a new start, want experience within different types of companies, and a chance to build your network – then temping may be perfect for you.

    1. A new start. In my recent experience as a Recruitment Consultant I have met numerous candidates whose positions have recently been made redundant for various reasons. Some of those people have been with the same company, in the same role for several years. Inevitably, getting back into the job market is daunting and temping often eases you through that process and gives you a taste of what it is like to work in a different company, with different people and sometimes in a completely different role.

    2. Experience with different types of companies. Temping can offer you the opportunity to experience the multitude of cultures that different companies have to offer from super corporate and competitive to laid back and casual. It can allow you to see what is out there and what options you have.

    3. A chance to build your network. The companies you temp for all employ different people and you have that opportunity to work closely with these people for a period of time. Meeting new people means building your network and who knows what these connections may bring for you in the future: job referrals; career opportunities or even just a new friend. You could receive training on a new software programs and be exposed to different operating procedures and even if your temp assignment doesn’t go long term, you can take these ideas to your next opportunity.

    Temping offers these great opportunities to experience new areas but don’t rest on your laurels, it’s not always easy to stroll into a temp role. The temp market is a competitive place; there are hundreds of quality candidates out there all competing for that one lucrative temp position. So my top tips to impress at interview and land that temp job? Practice your interview questions, know your resume, know your strengths, present yourself immaculately and be reliable. Treat the temp job like any other permanent job, take it seriously and who knows where it could take you!

    Did you know that Challenge Consulting can seek the temporary staff member that you need? Click here for more information.


  6. How Do You Deal With The Big Bad Boss?

    August 13, 2012 by Jenna

    I have heard many stories through the grapevine of managers who make employees nervous by always looking over their shoulder, managers who do not make any effort to listen or empathise with employees over workplace issues or concerns, to managers who will even claim credit for their employees’ accomplishments!

    But how do you deal with a bad boss and can you spot a bad boss at interview?

    If you have ever taken the Myers Briggs Type Indicator you would understand that there are many different personality types in the workplace, and of course no one is expected to be ‘best friends’ with their boss. However, if effective communication does not take place between both parties, or at least a mutual understanding of one another, then the workplace can turn into a sour, unhealthy environment to work in.

    So what constitutes a ‘Bad Boss’? For those of you out there looking for work, these tips from forbes.com can help you spot a bad boss in the interview process, that way you can decide if this is the right choice for your career before taking the plunge:

    1. Pronoun usage. If your interviewer uses the term “you” in communicating negative information ( such as, “you will deal with a lot of ambiguity”), don’t expect the boss to be a mentor.  If the boss chooses the word “I” to describe the department’s success—that’s a red flag.  If the interviewer says “we” in regards to a particular challenge the team or company faced, it may indicate that he or she deflects responsibility and places blame.
    2. Concern with your hobbies. There is a fine line between genuine relationship building, and fishing for information, so use your discretion on this one. If you have an overall good impression of the potential boss it may be that he or she is truly interested in the fact that you are heavily involved in charity work, and is simply getting to know you. On the other hand, the interviewer may be trying to determine whether you have too many commitments outside of work.
    3. They’re distracted. If your interviewer is glancing at emails while you’re speaking, taking phone calls, or late to the interview, don’t expect a boss who will make time for you.
    4. They can’t give you a straight answer. Listen for pauses, awkwardness, or overly-generic responses when you inquire what happened to the person who held the position you are interviewing for, and/or what has created the need to hire.
    5. They’ve got a record. Ask the potential boss how long he or she has been at the company, in the role, and where he or she worked before coming to it to get a feel for his or management style, and whether it’s what you respond to.  For example, bosses making a switch from a large corporation to a small company may lead with formality. On the other hand, entrepreneurs tend to be passionately involved in business, which can be a help or a hindrance, depending on your work style.

    Now for those of you that have been working in your organisation for a long time now, I am sure that one way or another one can relate to a situation or moment where you had clashed heads with the boss, and others are sadly dealing with a permanent ‘dispute’ day-in and day-out in the workplace.

    But my main question to you is, how do you handle these disagreements or situations with your boss? Because believe it or not your decisions/reactions can either destroy or improve your chances of a successful career.

    Kevin Kruse at Fast Company has offered this  six point plan for dealing with a bad boss:

    1. Make sure you aren’t the one with the problem. – Have you always thought your boss was an idiot no matter where you worked? Do your teammates seem to think the boss is OK?  Any chance you have unrealistic demands? Or maybe the boss slighted you years ago but you’re holding onto that grudge like a dog on a bone? Are you negative all the time, about everybody? Don’t let this possibility insult you. Take a deep breath and really think about it.
    2. Realize that your boss is human, and imperfect. – We need to realize that people become bosses and don’t always get the training or coaching they need to succeed. They, too, have demands, pressures, to-do lists, and maybe even their own bad boss. They make mistakes sometimes. (Don’t you?)
    3. Coach up. – Don’t accept that the boss has all the control, all the power, and all the responsibility. View your job, and his/her job, as a shared accountability. Ideally you can muster the professional courage to ask for a meeting to talk about “your job” and performance. In the meeting explain what parts of your job are going well and are enriching, and how you think things could go better.
    4. Focus on the positive. – If your boss just isn’t coachable, and just isn’t improving, then think about all the positive aspects of your job. Are you learning new things? Do you like your coworkers? Does it give you a flexibility you need to take care of kids or personal items? Are you paid a lot of money? Hopefully the good elements of your job outweigh the bad boss behaviors, and you can get personal daily engagement by recognizing these other blessings.
    5. Wait him/her out. – If your situation is just irreconcilable, can you just wait for your boss to move on, or for you to move to another position that reports to someone else? In large or fast-growing companies, it’s not uncommon for people to get a new boss every year or two. If this is your environment, your strategy should be to grin and bear it and realize that this too shall pass. If, however, you are in a small businesses or a company with little growth, a wait-it-out approach might not be possible.
    6. Quit. – If all else fails, you have to quit. For the sake of your mental and physical health, and for the sake of your friends and family, you have to find a new job. The truth is that if you’ve been working for a bad boss for long, you probably aren’t in a position to get a better job. I hate to be so direct, but great talent always has options, and usually doesn’t work for a bad boss. This is the key point: You have to be the CEO of your own career–you have to be mindful of your career.

    If you find that even after attempting most of the steps above that you have not achieved any higher ground or at least seen any improvement in the workplace then perhaps you need to ask yourself if this is the right environment for you to be working in? There can be situations where it just doesn’t work out, and as point 6 shows above, it is better for your mental and physical health as well as your personal life to make that decision to move on.


  7. Small Talk At Work – Love It Or Loathe It?

    July 17, 2012 by Jenna

     

    I included the awkward elevator photo as my inspiration for this week’s blog as I often find this is the prime example of where we see small talk play out – those that love small talk are initiating conversations between levels, whilst those that loathe small talk are staring ahead waiting patiently for the doors to open at their floor.

    Turns out that just as the elevator shifts between levels, so do you between loving and loathing of small talk, with most of you decidedly sitting in the middle, here’s what you said:

    • Small talk at work can be beneficial at the right times. Everyone needs a social break now and then.
    • In the middle – I am happy to say hello and have a quick chat but no longer than that. It tends to eat into time when you are working.
    • In between – I love catching up with colleagues to connect but I hate office gossip, back stabbing and stirring.
    • Sometimes love, sometimes loathe – Depends on the topic and who I am discussing it with at work and how much time I have to do my workload – when you are under pressure from deadlines, it can be hard to enjoy small talk at work.

    What makes us love small-talk is that it helps build unique, interesting connections with our colleagues. Don’t we all feel more valued – when someone smiles at you, gives you direct eye contact and asks ‘how are you?’ and actually listens to the answer?

    So what is small talk then and how can we make it most effective? Severino Consulting outlines 5 easy steps to improving small talk at work:

    1. Make it real – Disclose something that is not too personal but something that is right now on your heart, head or hands (what are you feeling, thinking and doing?)
    2. Make it useful – Think of it as a time to get some ideas on things you are working on.  Share what you are stuck on and then pause to allow the other person a chance to comment.
    3. Make it a time to learn about the other person – what was the highlight of their weekend?  Where did they go on vacation? What was their favorite holiday gift?  Ask a good question and then pause and listen.
    4. Follow up – next time you see the person, ask about their home improvement project or their new pet.  Continue to learn more.
    5. Notice what you share with friends and family — you may find a snippet of the week to use elsewhere. Maybe you Tweet or Facebook. The process of writing creates a reflection about “current events” that I can then share with others.

    Small talk is a form of engaging with others and you will only get out of it what you put in. And by that I mean, if you often avoid eye contact with others in the workplace or the casual ‘hello/goodbye’ in passing, you will start to notice other staff members stop attempting to make that effort to approach you. I tend to find it’s a common courtesy to acknowledge someone, and regardless of what type of day you’ve had, sometimes small talk can be a great distraction and often make a bad day brighter.

    So yes, we can love small talk when we make it real and reciprocal, but not all topics should be included in our small talk repertoire. About.com outlines the 10 Top Topics to avoid when making small talk in the workplace:

    1. Financial – Asking personal financial questions of people that you have just met is inappropriate.
    2. Politics – The problem with talking about politics is that you never know who in the crowd may have strong opinions.
    3. Religion – Religion is another extremely personal and potentially sensitive topic that should be avoided.
    4. Intimacy – Talking about sex or asking questions of an intimate nature is inappropriate.
    5. Death – Remember that you are in the company of strangers and this is not the appropriate time to bring up emotional topics that have the potential to be upsetting.
    6. Age and appearance – If you have just met someone, do not ask her age. Although the question might seem simple to you, it can be a hot topic for some. In addition, avoid questions related to appearance.
    7. Personal Gossip – While celebrity gossip is fair game during small talk, gossip about people that you know personally is not
    8. Offensive Jokes – Save your off-colour jokes for your best friends (or better yet, replace them with clean jokes).
    9. Narrow Topics – Although you will want to tell interesting stories at some point during small talk, avoid talking at length about topics that are one-sided.
    10. Past relationships – unless you know the person well, this can often be an emotional subject that may be awkward for some to discuss.

    What do you think – are these topics off limits or what do you love about small talk at work?

    Don’t forget to participate in this week’s poll: Do you dread a performance appraisal or does it drive you to perform better? The results will be published in next week’s blog post so stay tuned!


  8. Should employers put restrictions on the use of social media in the workplace?

    March 7, 2012 by Jenna

    We have all seen or heard of the good and bad situations with social media in the workplace.

    I have seen examples of employees complaining about their boss on Facebook, only to forget that their boss was included on their ‘friend list’ to then get fired. To negative publicity (usually spread by gossip) in the social pages of the media in previous places that I have worked in. But I have also seen business branding grow, as well as social networks and client relationships increase as a result. So I guess when it comes to how social media is viewed by the public, the good and the bad must be taken hand in hand.

    Social Media certainly cannot be avoided, it is the way that our generation is evolving, and the faster that news can travel the better.

    But as individuals of this generation, are we getting way to distracted by the latest aps, connections and sources of social media that it is decreasing our level of performance and perhaps putting our organisation at risk?

    I have worked in previous jobs where the IT Department has been able to block the use of Facebook and personal emails within the workplace. And I have seen first hand the negative results of internal gossip and emails can have when discovered by management (remember we are never the only ones who can observe our own emails at work!)

    My parents also work for a financial franchise and they have strict rules when it comes to the use of camera phones in the workplace, especially when they are handling money, vaults and cashing cheques.

    At the same time I think it is unrealistic to block out the use of social media entirely. One website that I looked at www.jeffbullas.com, identifies the 12 benefits of social media in business:

    1. Increased awareness of the organisation

    2. Increased traffic to website

    3. Greater favorable perceptions of the brand

    4. Able to monitor conversations about the organisation

    5. Able to develop targeted marketing activities

    6. Better understanding of customers perceptions of their brand

    7. Improved insights about their target markets

    8. Identification of positive and negative comments

    9. Increase in new business

    10. Identification of new product or service opportunities

    11. Ability to measure the frequency of the discussion about the brand

    12. Early warning of potential product or service issues

    In my current role I am required to keep up to date with the social media aspect of the business with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as my sources of distributing our weekly newsletter, blogs and polls. I find it incredible to see the amount or information that the general public have access to and articles are being posted constantly. We have so much knowledge available at our fingertips that were not even considered options many years ago.

    From an employers perspective I can also understand that because social media can also tend to limit privacy, if an employee does something that they shouldn’t and it is exposed to the public with the company’s name behind it, this can cause a negative outlook not just on the employee but the company at hand.

    Yet banning social media entirely may be a tad excessive. Another website www.myperfectcareer.tv makes a valid statement to employers who may be considering this option: ‘Trust people, set them objectives (employees), engage them, inspire them, manage them, lead them.  Treat them like grown ups.  If they behave like kids, treat them accordingly and deal with it.  That’s management.  Banning social media says much about the failings of management.  It’s here to stay, take it for what it is, a great tool to reach out in new and exciting ways to customers that five years ago you could only have dreamed of.’

    So what were your thoughts on the matter? Some of the feedback from last week has been listed below:

    • Policy guidelines are recommended to ensure that employers and employees are aware of their responsibilities while using social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. It is vital to ensure to protect the brand and retain goodwill.
    • Absolutely, social media opens up a minefield of issues for businesses blurring the border between personal representation and that of what the business represents. Therefore it is important to have strict policies and procedures with clear restrictions.
    • Restrictions on company computers of social media would mean more covert and undercover usage on personal mobile phones. If an employee underperforms, disciplenary actions should be taken, if they perform and meet their KPI’s, why restrict their guilty pleasure?

    Overall from what I can gather most employers are quite open to the use of social media in the workplace, as long as employees are still representing the company in a professional manner and that the distractions do not overall effect their ability to meet their work deadlines.

    Haven’t had your say? Please feel free to write a comment below, and also check our latest poll:
    The follow up call: When applying for a job, is the candidate follow up call and advantage or an annoyance?




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