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  1. The Funniest Performance Review Comments

    July 23, 2012 by Jenna

    Whether you have conducted them or participated in them, everyone can relate to a performance review. I believe the performance review is a valuable tool to assess any individual’s performance and to allow open discussion between the employer and employee about current roles and where the employee see their role taking them in the future.

    Performance reviews can also provide ammunition for TV shows, Dilbert, and laugh out loud moments where you are caught wondering: they did not just say that, did they!?! You may have had a moment like that during your recent performance discussion!

    Speaking of the funniest performance review comments, these individual quotes were reportedly taken from actual employee performance evaluations:

    • Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom…..and has started to dig.
    • His men would follow him anywhere…but only out of morbid curiosity.
    • This young lady has delusions of adequacy.
    • She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.
    • He has the wisdom of youth, and the energy of old age.
    • Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.
    • This man is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

    And in case you were wondering what those performance review terms REALLY mean:

    • Exceptionally Well Qualified…….Made No Major Blunders Yet
    • Active Socially………………………..Drinks a Lot
    • Quick Thinking………………………..Offers Plausible Excuses
    • Careful Thinker……………………….Won’t Make a Decision
    • Uses Logic on Difficult Jobs……..Gets Someone Else To Do It
    • Meticulous Attention to Detail….A Nit Picker
    • Has Leadership Qualities………….Is Tall or Has A Loud Voice
    • Good Communication Skills……..Spends Lots of Time on Phone
    • Loyal………………………………………Can’t Get a Job Anywhere Else

    What is the funniest review you have ever received? Or perhaps you have heard something through the grapevine? Either way, don’t hesitate to share your comments below. Or let us know in this month’s poll: Do you dread a performance appraisal or does it drive you to perform better?


  2. 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!


  3. Do you prefer to drive to work or take public transport?

    May 29, 2012 by Jenna

    Ah the joys of the morning commute. I posted last week’s poll to get a general idea of how many of you out there prefer to fight the traffic battle in the morning on the way to work or whether you like the fight the crowds on the bus, ferry or train on the way into work.

    When I often tell people that I live about an hour outside of work I watch as their faces tend to cringe and the response will usually be, ‘how do you put up with the travel into work?’ or ‘Have you ever thought of living closer to the city?’ And my response is always the same, ‘I really don’t mind. I enjoy where I live as opposed to where I work, I find a good balance, and if I have a good book or music to listen to , the morning commute is fine.

    Of course that is not what goes through my head on the days when the announcement comes on the train that says something along the lines of, ‘Attention all passengers, due to a technical failure/a police incident at blah blah station/an emergency situation/a passenger jumping from the platform, etc. your train will be delayed or cancelled for today. Cityrail apologises for any inconvenience caused…‘ And of course depending on what the schedule is like for the day, it is often a MAJOR inconvenience.

    At the same time, this is my only option as I don’t drive. And when I think of the cost of a vehicle, insurance, petrol and the cost of parking, I often think to myself, why bother! My workplace is across the street from the station, my home is two minutes from the station. So regardless of those unexpected incidents with public transport, I tend to think I’m in a Win/Win situation.

    However, I know that not everyone has the same situation and this is what your responses were:

    • 33% of you prefer driving to work
    • 55% of you take either the train or bus into work
    • 11% of you do a combination of driving and taking public transport into work

    I also appreciated the valid responses as well:

    • When attending my office in the city, I catch the train as traffic and parking are ridiculous! But when attending a client’s office in the suburbs I drive.
    • Having to work late frequently, it is more convenient and comfortable to jump in the car and drive home after work.  Having said that, I do not enjoy the traffic jams in the morning!
    • Can read and work on the train. Reliable and cheap too

    With that said, I can understand if you need to travel within short distances or to an area outside of the public transport zone then I would certainly say a car would be more reliable, but I also have to agree, does traffic add on more stress to your day?

    A website called www.lifehak.com advises that the use of public transportation can save your sanity and improve your productivity in the following ways:

    • Saving your money – how much does your car really cost you in the course of a year?
    • Saving your time – once you are driving, your hands and mind are fully occupied, on public transport, your time is your own.
    • Saving your sanity – how often do you lose your temper when you are stuck in slow traffic?
    • Saving yourself – how much more exercise can you get in the day running for a train or bus?
    • Saving the world – much better for the environment in the long run

    Another website called workawesom.com lists four main reasons to take public transport over driving:

    • Found time – more time reading, working, or napping if needed
    • Save the earth and some cash – as above, good for the environment and costs less per week
    • Employer benefits – employers will sometimes partially or even fully reimburse you for transit costs depending on the work related task.
    • Market research – needing statistical information from the general public, there is no better way to find like minded individuals to chat to or observe then on the train or bus.

    Besides time, one of the other major factors appears to be costs. Now I know this can be dependant on where you live, and whether or not you need to rely on a car or not to get around, but you could be saving thousands of dollars a year by taking public transport. Not to mention, have you seen the cost of parking within the central city CBD? It’s great if you have a company car space, but let’s be honest, how many of us genuinely have that?

    Well my vote is for public transport, not to be biased as I do like being the car passenger, especially on more remote trips that are outside of the city. But travelling into work, I would prefer to have my time then have to stress and worry before even arriving to work!

    Haven’t had your say? Why not add a comment below, we would love to hear from you. Otherwise we have a new online poll this week, which was created by my colleague Susan Kealy, ‘How do you feel about personality tests?’ – why not participate and be in the draw to enjoy a great night out at the movies? The results will be revealed next week, stay tuned!

     


  4. What are the best ways to cope with workplace stress?

    May 16, 2012 by Jenna

    Workplace Stress: This isn’t an uncommon term. We have all been stressed within the workplace, but whether you thrive or crumble on the daily adrenalin moments is a different story.

    Linking closely with my previous blog about effectively managing your time on a daily basis, for those that are in those situations of being in an environment that is likely to trigger stress, what are the best ways that you cope with it?

    When I worked in the events industry, it became common practice to expect that the unexpected would happen. Not necessarily to predict that something will go wrong, but it certainly teaches you to respond and adapt to any changes that may occur with an event last minute, and in some cases problem solve on the spot if need be.

    There were the times, however, when handling enquiries, liaising with chefs and the operations team, meetings, client calls and emails would get the better of you and this is where communication was a valuable tool, but often not enforced enough. Each team member that I worked closely with did not want to appear defeated or unable to cope with our assignments and we would often handle our stress in silence. This was often noticed by a tense atmosphere of mood swings, sending emails to one another instead of communicating directly, and late hours catching up on work from earlier that morning.

    At least our manager had a keen sense at detecting this tense atmosphere and had individual meetings with us to establish what was really going on.

    Working as a team environment however, one should never feel that they cannot speak up for themselves in times of stress, because the most harm that an individual can do to themselves is bottle up the feelings of anxiety inside.

    Some of the feedback that I received last week from respondents were:

    • Have a good work life balance so that outside of work, you have something else to focus on which is meaningful to you.
    • Ensure you advise your managers and direct reports of the reasons why you are stressed.
    • Try to avoid it in the first place! Stop for 10 minutes and go for a walk whenever it gets too much.

    A recent article on www.inc.com pointed out that once upon a time, society would work from 9.00am to 5.00pm. But now the demand for that has changed and in some cases individuals are expected to be available 24/7.

    I have a friend that looks after the audiovisual side of events which as you know is quite a significant component of any event. While he works a set number of hours a day with setting up, testing equipment and operating for events, he is also expected to be on call after hours in the event that there are any ‘technical difficulties’. This means he can be called at any time, and often is called at any time. He is also on his phone constantly checking email updates from the events team to make sure he has the most up to date instructions for all upcoming events. But while the job will often encompass moments of stress, he loves his job and he doesn’t let the stress get the better of him.

    Having said this, he will also know when to say ‘no’ or advise if a job cannot be completed at a set time due to another job that he may be working on. He is assertive and realistic when it counts as well as competent to achieve tasks.

    This leads me to the multiple choice options of how you rated the ways to cope with stress in the workplace, to which the responses were as follows:

    • Avoid being a ‘Yes Man’: If you have a lot on your plate, do not add to the pile if you cannot do it in time. – 16% of you agreed to this, and I know I have fallen for this.

    And the following three options were looked upon as the same level of importance at 54%:

    • Communication: If you are overloaded, make sure to speak up and ask for help
    • Effective Time Management: Setting realistic achievement goals for the day
    • Having A Positive Mindset: If overwhelmed, take a break, then come back to the task at hand with more clarity

    I threw in the last option of a positive mindset because I have known so many people who have told me, ‘I don’t feel like getting up and going to work this morning,’ or ‘today is going to be a bad day I can just feel it.’ Now while we may have different situations at work causing us to feel that way, has this viewpoint ever really accomplished anything? How often if you look upon a situation negatively will the outcome be just what you thought it would be?

    What’s to say that we can’t change the outcome of a situation for the better if we look upon it with fresh eyes and less bitterness?

    To get to an even further point, if you are that unhappy with your employment, why are you staying in that current position?

    Another website I reviewed called www.helpguide.org outlines the importance of establishing what is causing the stress in your current situation. You may not even realise you are stressed and showing the common signs by dealing with it in the following ways:

    • Drinking too much
    • Overeating or undereating
    • Procrastinating
    • Using pills or drugs to relax
    • Withdrawing from friends, family and activities
    • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

    If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged as there are healthy ways to relax and recharge:

    • Go for a walk
    • Call a good friend
    • Write in a journal
    • Sweat out the tension in a good workout
    • Savor a warm cup of tea or coffee
    • Get a massage
    • Enjoy a good book

    If you find that time restricts you from doing these things, then perhaps you need to review my previous blog What are the ways in which you effectively manage your time?

    A website called angelawilson.suite101.com outlines that one of the ways to cope with stress is to recognise the ‘Good Stress‘ from the ‘Bad Stress‘. Good Stress gives you a optimal amount of arousal to give you the motivation and focus to achieve a task (such as running a race, taking a test, getting to work on time). Whereas bad stress, when out of control, prevents us from feeling content and being successful in our daily lives. It releases nasty hormones into our bodies and has a negative effect on our health.

    Some of the other coping methods include:

    • Decrease your body tension
    • Face your anxiety situations – doing those least favourite things first so that they do not build up into something worse when it could have been handled at the time.
    • Be truthful – when people are unhappy or struggling, you can often read it in their behaviour. If someone asks you how you are, telling the truth will better deal with the tension then saying ‘I’m fine’ when it is clear you are not.
    • Don’t Give Up – Some people get so overwhelmed by stress that they often shut down and stop reacting to situations around them because it has become too much to handle. Do not let the stress get the better of you!

    Well I hope some of these tips have proven to be useful in your day to day situation, and if you have not had a chance to respond to this poll then we would be more than happy to hear your thoughts below.

    Also, don’t miss out on this week’s poll: Are more people today settling for any job as opposed to finding their dream job? Your chance to win a Hoyt’s Cinema Double Pass are up for grabs!


  5. Video Resumes: Yay or Nay

    April 26, 2012 by Jenna

    I was curious about this one, I have been hearing about it more and more through the grapevine with mixed reviews and I wanted to see if many of you out there were familiar with it?

    I can understand the appeal, it puts a face to the name and makes the individual stand out more than just a piece of paper. But I guess my concern is whether or not an individual is portraying themselves in the right light? You can edit a video to portray yourself in the right light, but when it comes to face to face are you all that you say you are?

    Let’s face it, we are a generation that loves a good reality television series, or a good YouTube video clip. Regardless of how the individual is portrayed we just can’t get enough. But does this overall portray a good image? We will soon have a reality television series being launched in my area called ‘The Shire’ and I think it has bad news written all over it.

    But please don’t take my pessimism to heart. How else can you stand out from the rest without a bit of creativity, flair and enthusiasm?

    Here are some of the responses you had stated:

    1) It is such a great opportunity to see the candidate as themselves, not just a black and white piece of the work history. We have received some fantastic video resumes and almost 100% of the time it will get the candidate to the first round of interviews. (Just make sure the video isn’t tacky or inappropriate!)

    2) I believe that a well laid out resume speaks best upon first contact with applicants. Once we have established that they meet the basic criteria of what we are looking for, then we can further cull with an interview process which allows for the applicants verbal and presentation skills to shine. A video resume can be misleading as it is edited, we personality traits etc. and can distract from the purpose of focusing on the selection criteria. As an addition and/or business card it can work.

    A website that I reviewed called http://interviewstudioblog.com pointed out some of the disadvantages of video resumes that I thought you may want to consider:

    • You will not capture your potential employer if you are simply regurgitating what is written on paper
    • Only certain personality types will shine on video
    • If sending by email, the file will often be too large to view
    • Firewall settings may block the video
    • Compatibility problems depending on Mac or PC review
    • It is difficult to review an applicants work history on video

    Another website www.recruitmentblogs.com lists the pro’s associated with video resumes:

    • Interview – this will save the employer time in determining how you are in person as opposed to on paper.
    • Identity – Hundreds of resumes can start to blend together after a while, however, a video resume can appear more personal.
    • Re-Evaluation – Something that the employer can come back to review to remember each candidate.

    So again with our generation all turning towards online branding, let’s face it we are a social network of Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, it looks like employers are not turning down this new idea just yet. As long as you are portraying the right message for your employer, and portraying the best image/branding of yourself as you can, you may just be taking that extra step to get yourself into that round one interview.

    Haven’t had your say yet? Please don’t hesitate to do so, or you can participate in our new online poll: What are the ways in which you effectively manage your time? Hoyts Cinema Double Passes are up for grabs!

     


  6. What qualities do YOU think represent a remarkable boss?

    March 28, 2012 by Jenna

    Have you ever wondered as an employee if you were given the opportunity to be ‘the boss’ for your workplace, what you would do differently? Would your approach to the role be even more remarkable than just managing tasks?

    On the other hand, you may also be in the position of ‘the boss’ and have your own methods and qualities that you have learned over the years that you have found to work really well in the workplace.

    Regardless of where your position is currently, in last week’s poll I listed what I thought to be some key qualities which were:

    • Strong leadership qualities
    • Someone who has the ability to be diplomatic in difficult situations
    • Someone who can motivate their staff
    • Someone who can adapt to changes in the workplace
    • Someone who is reliable

    Of course the list of qualities can be endless depending on your personal preferences, however, based on the list above, the top two choices that received the highest votes were: Someone who could motivate their staff (76%) and Strong Leadership Qualities (74%) with reliability coming in third.

    I was also happy to read your responses to see how important you found the value of having a close relationship with your employers, having someone who is ‘genuine’, ‘approachable’, ‘trustworthy’  and with strong ‘listening skills’ when it comes to their staff. Someone who can also promote their staff, developing them within their roles by being a mentor and sharing the company vision.

    ‘The most outstanding bosses I’ve ever had, don’t generally see themselves as ‘the boss’. They see themselves as one of the others and act accordingly. Obviously they put on their boss hat when needed and can mentor me and guide me, but we can then go to lunch and laugh together about common things.’

    I remember once in a previous role, an email was sent out with different levels on management CC’d in the correspondence about a particular event that I was running at the time. The person who distributed this email had made a comment, which appeared almost like an accusation, about a situation that had not been handled properly directed at myself without first corresponding with me on the situation.

    As we all know, tone can often be misread in emails, but needless to say I felt humiliated, especially since higher levels of management were included on this email and I did not have a chance to explain myself before being blamed for something that was actually a false conclusion.

    Without even having to ask, my boss responded with a ‘Reply All’ to that comment, as I had been liaising with her on all aspects of the event, and in a very professional and assertive manner explained the accurate details of the situation and put that staff member in their place. We later had a meeting with that staff member and we never had a miscommunication on email again.

    I know how busy employers can be, but wow did I ever feel valued as an employee that day. I was very lucky to have such open environment for communication with my boss because otherwise who knows what the outcome of that situation would have been.

    A recent article posted on www.inc.com listed ‘The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses’ as the following:

    1. Develop every employee – not just reaching targets, but providing the training, mentoring and opportunities that your employees need and deserve.
    2. Deal with problems immediately – Nothing kills team morale more quickly than problems that don’t get addressed.
    3. Rescue your worst employee – Before you remove your weak link from the chain, put your full effort into trying to rescue that person instead. Find out what is going on and work together on improvement strategies.
    4. Serve others, not yourself – If it should go without saying, don’t say it. Your glory should always be reflected, never direct.
    5. Always remember where you came from – In the eyes of his or her employees, a remarkable boss is a star. Remember where you came from, and be gracious with your stardom. If an employee wants to talk about something that seems inconsequential, try not to blow them off, as they are seeking you for a reason.

    I personally like number five. Sometimes we have been in a particular role for so long that we often forget that we were once in a junior position. We forget how important it was to seek someone that we looked up to who could guide us in the right direction, especially with our future careers. How can we ever know what potential the junior staff have if we do not allow them the opportunity to seek that advice so that they can grow?

    So maybe the strongest quality of all as the boss is to be ‘human’. If employers can’t relate to their staff and are just trying to reach deadlines, more will be at a loss then what you could gain through working together. If interaction/communication is lacking, then all employees may as well be ‘robots’ in the daily grind. Fortunately, as individuals, we are much more valuable then machines.

    Haven’t had your say? Please do not hesitate to express your feedback below, otherwise I have launched our new weekly poll: Would you hire someone based on potential or experience?

    The results for this poll will be published after 10th April 2012 as I am off to New Zealand to take part in my walk for charity so stay tuned and have a wonderful Easter! If you have time this weekend, feel free to have a look at the progress of my team The Bush Ramblers.


  7. The Candidate Follow Up Call When Applying For A Job: Advantage or Annoyance?

    March 20, 2012 by Jenna

    The job market is a competitive one when it comes to setting yourself ahead of those applicants who are all applying for that ‘perfect job’ at the same time. So how do we set ourselves ahead of the rest? How do we make ourselves more than just a piece of paper?

    If you are passionate about a position of course you are going to want to pick up the phone and make that call. This will establish a more personable approach, to allow the employer to identify with not only your qualifications but your personality and communication skills. Often this will open up the opportunity to meet face to face for the interview process.

    On the other hand, when is the follow up call a disadvantage? This was something that I wanted to gain perspective on from other organisations out there who may know what I am referring to. While some candidates believe that the follow up call(s) improves their chances, it can often be causing the opposite effect, if it isn’t being utilised properly.

    I will give you an example. We had recently advertised a position online and were receiving a high number of applications for the role. A potential candidate contacted our office requesting to speak to a consultant as they wanted to meet in person to discuss the role and take part in an interview. Great initiative and confidence right?

    I asked the candidate if they had applied online for the role or provided our company with any details about themselves or a CV with their experience/qualifications. The candidate had not done so, however, they wanted to hand over the CV in person to the consultant when they came in to have an interview.

    When working in recruitment, we need to show our clients the details of the potential candidates and review the applications before shortlisting for the interview process. We then need to schedule an appropriate appointment once the shortlist had been reviewed and after the interview takes place, to provide feedback to our clients to then look into conducting a second interview with the client directly.

    When I explained to the ‘potential candidate’ that we would first require their information and would then be in touch once reviewing the applications for this position, the candidate would simply not accept my recommendation to submit the details and asked to speak to a consultant directly. I obliged and put them through to the consultant, to which the same information was repeated to the candidate that I had requested…

    I’m not saying that all candidates react this way when a position is advertised, but for this particular candidate behaving in a pushy to almost demanding approach in applying for the job, and their inability to take instruction when I was trying to guide them into the right direction did not make them a top choice to recommend to the client in my eyes. Would you agree? Especially when two people in the office had to explain the application process before the interview could even take place!

    Another disadvantage I often experience with candidate calls is this – Venting frustration over the phone if you have not received a personal phone call confirming if you are accepted/declined for the interview process – While I understand that this can be a slow process at times, it is important to consider that there may be over 300 applications coming in for the same role, and contacting each candidate personally can be even more time consuming if not impossible for the recruiter to complete. I think one of the worst mistakes is to take it personally (especially getting upset over the phone at your potential recruiter) because again, having a bad temper doesn’t often make a stand-out candidate… in a good way.

    While conducting some research on this topic, a website called www.theladders.com outlines the following: ‘If the job posting doesn’t provide a clear closing date, HR experts and career coaches generally agree that one week after applying is an appropriate amount of time to wait before you follow up… don’t ask why you haven’t been called yet. Instead, keep the tone of the conversation or email light and friendly, and, if you can, slip in a few questions and have a bit of a conversation if it seems appropriate.’

    Another website I reviewed called www.jobsearch.about.com had the following four tips below on the follow up process after an interview:

    1. First, you want to get the business card from the person you interviewed with. The best way to get it is ask the interviewer before you leave. On most cards will be the three things you want.

    1) The correctly spelled name and title. 2) The street address. 3) The interviewer’s email address.

    2. Second, you send him/her a thank you email for the interview that very evening so it’s waiting for them when the recruiter gets to work the next morning.

    3. Third, you make a follow-up phone call to the interviewer on the fifth day after the interview. Let them know of your continued interest in the job and ask if there is any further information they needs from you. If the person who interviewed you is not available when you call, leave that basic message on their voice mail.

    4. Fourth, you send a snail mail letter to them ASAP. I call this the “reverse cover letter.” It basically expresses your interest in the job and summarises some of your strongest points as they relate to the job. About now many interviewers are thinking, “Wow, if this is the professional manner this applicant works this is the kind of person we want.” From that point on, just once a week, you politely alternate between phone, email and snail mail until she says you got the job or someone else got the job.

    The responses from our poll respondents seem to reflect that the follow up call can often encompass both advantages and annoyances and can be summarised as this:

    Advantage:

    • You can set yourself apart & make yourself memorable by making the follow up call, however, make sure you have you have some basic questions applicable to the role so the calls’ purpose isn’t just to introduce yourself but to also show interest and initiative with legitimate questions
    • Having personal contact is a definite advantage but they (the candidate) should always be pleasant about it and not be too pushy
    • I think if handled professionally, potential candidates (with specified qualifications) have an opportunity to make a solid first impression as long as they are respectful of the recruiter’s time.

    Annoyance:

    • The candidate should not appear desperate and call multiple times
    • If they call without the appropriate qualifications for the job
    • Don’t stalk your recruiter, especially if they say they will call back. They may not be a person that likes follow up calls, so pushing will only make you appear difficult

    I hope this provides a little more perspective to the applicants who are out there and are currently looking for employment, and if you haven’t had your say, please make a comment below or you can participate in this week’s poll: What qualities do YOU think represent a remarkable boss?


  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?


  9. Does caffeine improve workplace performance?

    February 28, 2012 by Jenna

    As a fellow caffeine junkie, I do feel better when I can start the day with a coffee in hand on the way into work. I love the flavoured coffees too, such as hazelnut or vanilla, and it just makes me feel so much better and able to face the day as soon as I sit down at my desk after having one.

    I’m not by any means saying that I need a coffee to cope with day to day activities, however, it is a luxury that I think has caught Australia by storm and I was certainly curious about what fellow readers thought of it.

    According to the 13 studies conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine proved that A Cup of Coffee Can Increase Workplace Performance, and prevents less workplace errors for shift workers  between the ages of 18 and 65, but most that responded were between the ages of 20 and 30. I can understand that for shift workers it would be a particular blessing when the body clock is out of whack, but what about the general 9.00am to 5.00pm crowd?

    Another website that I view called www.livestrong.com described caffeine in the workplace in the following way: ‘Caffeine is cheap, readily available and effective. Unless you’re a heavy user of caffeine, a cup of coffee or a soda will give you a reliable jolt of energy. Your co-workers are unlikely to disapprove of caffeine consumption, and chatting over the coffee pot may give you opportunities to bond with other coffee drinkers. If used judiciously, caffeine can compensate for lack of sleep, boredom or fatigue.’

    This article also went on to describe coffee and the power nap as great afternoon pick me ups, however, napping on the job may be frowned upon by employers and is often considered as laziness or lack of commitment.

    It is interesting how the ‘coffee culture’ has really grown over the years, as before it used to be ‘cigarette breaks’ that brought staff members together but now we really seem to be appreciating a more ‘European’ style of social atmosphere. Meeting in cafes I find tend to encourage the following:

    • Coffee Breaks – colleagues to interact and further build rapport within the office which can boost morale
    • To conduct interviews – a more casual style atmosphere can often help the interviewer connect with the interviewee on a more personal level
    • Networking opportunities – some potential clients may not have the time to meet for a lunch or dinner appointment, so we can make the most of the time that we have meeting over a cup of coffee.
    • Matchmaking – this can be the stage of getting to know someone before the dating stages commence.

    Depending on whether or not you are the employer, I could imagine that too many coffee breaks could become more of a hindrance than a virtue, but given the right balance I believe it can be of good value.

    For those that are interested in the health side of what caffeine does to the body, I have summarised this in some brief points below:

    • Stimulates your heart, respiratory system, and central nervous system.
    • Makes your blood more `sludgy’ by raising the level of fatty acids in the blood.
    • Causes messages to be passed along your nervous system more quickly• Stimulates blood circulation
    • Raises blood pressure
    • Causes your stomach to produce more acid
    • Irritates the stomach lining
    • Makes digestion less effective by relaxing the muscles of your intestinal system
    • Its diuretic effect caused increased urination  – although you would have have to drink about 8 cups of coffee in one sitting for this to occur!
    • Stimulates the cortex of your brain heightening the intensity of mental activity. This can result in a temporary feeling of alertness and, in the short term, banishes drowsiness and feelings of fatigue. In those who already have high levels of anxiety the heightened intensity of mental activity can produce unpleasant effects.
    • Affects the length and quality of sleep. Heavy caffeine users suffer from sleep-deprivation because their nervous system is too stimulated to allow them deep, restful or prolonged sleep.
    • The American Medical Journal has reported a correlation between caffeine and decreased bone density or osteoporosis in women.

    One of our survey respondents noted, ‘Some people think that caffeine improves performance, but coffee contains a lot of empty calories, ie. no nutrition, so a good nutritious lunch like a crunchy salad with some protein will do far more for your workplace performance. Try some!’

    Of course caffeine effects all of us in different ways, for example my flatmate tells me that sometimes she will get a shaky feeling after a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and will feel bloated, whereas I can have a coffee, perhaps a tea before lunch and then a can of V (energy drink) for the afternoon (very bad I know!)

    But besides the jittery effect of having too much caffeine, there is also the consideration of blood sugar levels as well, to which diabetes is becoming a much higher risk then most would consider.

    The overall verdict that I can see from poll respondents this week is to not deprive the caffeine drinkers of their daily intake as the withdrawal symptoms can often be grumpiness and fatigue, and to also keep the importance of ‘corporate culture’ by allowing the coffee breaks for members of your workplace team. However, if individuals are relying on caffeine for the sole purpose of improving workplace performance, you may be disappointed by the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ that can often be associated with it, so don’t forget that balancing a healthy diet and sleep patterns will overall give the results you need to be a productive in the workplace.

    Haven’t had your say? Please send your feedback below, or check out our latest online poll – Should Employers put restrictions on social media in the workplace?


  10. Is it OK to do your makeup during the morning commute?

    December 13, 2011 by Jenna

    I suppose I should begin by coming clean and explaining why I chose this as my topic for last week’s online poll and, subsequently, this week’s blog post. 

    Last Monday, I was sitting on the train during the morning commute and I became riveted whilst observing a young lass applying her makeup. And I don’t mean daubing on a bit of lippy, I mean her whole makeup routine, from foundation and concealer on those unsightly dark circles and areas of uneven skin tone through to a dusting of loose powder over her face and neck, from eyeshadow, eyelash curler and mascara through to lip liner and lipstick. A final dab with a tissue and she was ready to face the world. It was quite instructive in a way. 

    However, I felt somewhat sorry for the gentleman sitting beside her (at least I think it was a gentleman – it was difficult to be certain given the cloud of powder he was cloaked in, magician-like). 

    Personally, I do not like it. At all. I can cope with a slick of lippy and a dab of powder from a compact, but the whole routine from go to woah? No no no. No. 

    Am I overly sensitive? Should I just build a bridge and get over it? I just had to know what other people thought. I first posed the question “Is it OK to do your makeup during the morning commute?” on my Facebook profile. Reponses were mixed, but were essentially divided between “no, I hate it, why don’t you do it at home or in private somewhere?” and “yes, who cares, as long as the person is not encroaching on my personal space”. 

    I then put it out there to our eNews readership and visitors to our website’s homepage

    And again, it was pretty much evenly split between YES and NO. The few respondents who chose “Other” were basically smart alecs who said they were okay with it as long as they could shave / brush their teeth / squeeze their pimples / pluck their eyebrows / cut their toenails. 

    Gross. 

    One respondent enjoyed the fact that applying lipstick whilst on a moving vehicle was rich in comic potential: “how amusing is it to watch the application of lippy go horribly wrong as a result of heavy braking?” 

    Another respondent had no issues with a quick touch up but drew the line at anything heavily scented or that released clouds of powder or particles that might be irritating to other people or even cause allergic reactions. Fair enough, I say. 

    Another was quite adamant in their response: “Who cares what you do in your personal space on public transport! As long as it doesn’t disturb anyone else, why should it matter?” 

    And ultimately, I suppose that is the crux of the issue – we should always ask ourselves “Is what I am doing right now in this public space going to p*** the people around me off? How would I feel if someone, especially a stranger, was doing this very close to me?” 

    And that extends beyond rampant makeup application to playing computer games without using headphones, wearing headphones whilst listening to music that you may as well not be wearing because your music is so bloody loud that everyone on the carriage can hear it anyway (and why is it somehow worse when you can ONLY hear the tinny treble track or the tortuously repetitive bass track?), taking part in endless, inane conversations rendered even more so because only on side can be heard, sending text messages on a mobile phone that is not set to “silent” … I could go on. And I KNOW I am not alone in finding this list of things maddening. 

    What annoys you when you’re on the bus or train? Leave your comment below!

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