Is your office so gossipy that you feel like coming to work wearing a tortoise shell just to shield yourself from all the backbiting? If so, then you know how stressful and upsetting a gossipy environment can be.

On one hand, sometimes hearing juicy details can be interesting and break up the monotony of another dull day at the office. But on the other hand, when you’re the one whose beans are being spilled when the gossip train turns on you, it’s not so fun anymore.

  The best way to avoid gossip is to not become a part of it. That means you   don’t get  to tweet any deets about your coworkers should you stumble on them. If  you hear a sensational or very personal bit of news or rumor, leave it be. Don’t publicize it and become part of the fray.

Now comes the hard part: If you hear people gossiping, don’t listen. You may think you can cheat by listening and not speaking, but that doesn’t count. If you listen to gossip, you’re just as guilty, and you’re encouraging a negative culture within your company. You don’t want to add power to the rumor mill, lest your name be next on the news roster.

Finally, do your best not to share personal information with coworkers. While it can be tempting to share a few details with coworkers to bolster relationships, sometimes people have a way of twisting details until juice comes out and gossip is born.

If you know you work in a company where gossip prevails, think of yourself as the manager of your own personal public relations agency. You control what details you share, and professionalism should always be the first rule.

Don’t participate in gossip (which includes listening), and don’t fuel the flames with personal details of your own. You might be surprised—over time, others may choose to show the same behavior, and order can be restored so that no back armor is required.

5 Ways to be a Great Coworker

On July 29, 2011, in Career Advice, Hot Topics, Success on the Job, by Randstad Staffing

Every office seems to be filled with people who have habits that are distracting, irritating, or just plain annoying. If you’re looking to improve your career and your day to day work relations, what are the easiest ways to make sure you’re not one of those people?

Listen up. One of the worst habits to wreak havoc in offices is lack of communication. Since most of communication can be all about listening well, take the time to really listen to people. Listening rather than interrupting can save time and stress for everyone.

Manage the noise. You may not think you’re loud, but chances are good that your coworkers might. If you schedule a meeting, reserve a conference room and close the door. If you have a conference call, use a head set instead of the speaker phone. Don’t let your phone ring off the hook while you’re away from your desk; instead, set it go to voicemail or forward to your cell phone. Your coworkers will thank you!

No smelly business. You may love your spicy curry shrimp leftovers, and we’re sure they’re delicious, but strong smells bother many people at the office. If you heat it up, eat it in the break room, not at your desk. The same goes for perfume or scented lotions, which can give some people searing headaches or other allergy issues. Keep smells and scents at home.

Respect boundaries. While cubicles may not seem private, personal space is important to everyone. Before you enter a coworker’s space, knock and ask to come in. Don’t stare at people’s computer screens or comment on phone calls you’ve overhead. While privacy is often more of an illusion in an office than a reality, it’s an illusion that people treasure, and it’s important to help maintain it.

Be considerate. When in doubt, this is the golden rule of office life. If you’re not sure how to behave, then think about how you would prefer to be treated. Start asking yourself a few times a day whether you might be doing anything to distract a coworker. Do your best to acknowledge boundaries and being respectful, and you’ll be a dream coworker in no time.

Why is it that when it rains, it pours? After waiting for answers on multiple jobs, you suddenly have a fantastic problem—too many offers. Handling multiple offers, just like juggling, requires timing and precision.

If handled well, multiple offers can mean the world is your pearl. But if you handle things poorly, your reputation can be damaged and several companies might not be happy with you.

Check out this great career services page from Virginia Tech on what can happen when multiple interviews are in the works. It outlines some great strategies for what to do if you have an offer from one company you aren’t as excited about but are still waiting for an answer from another you really want to work for.

This article from Winter, Wyman also gives some great insights about the etiquette ins and outs of balancing multiple offers.

If you have more than one open offer on the line, it’s okay to be honest and let companies know you have a decision to make. If you are waiting to hear back from another company, respectfully reach out to them to let them know your situation. This may speed up their decision process, although it’s not always the case.

It’s important to make an informed decision, but deadlines for decision making don’t always match up. You have to be prepared to make a choice and decide that you have to walk away from another company or the possibility of an offer.

Whether you have been fired, or the one who has had to do the firing, it’s important to remember how not to burn a bridge. You never know when you might run into each other at another job or potential employer.

One article outlines just how likely it is that you could run into a former supervisor or employee that fired you or that you had to fire. Your previous behavior sets the foundation for this possible encounter.

If you work in a smaller market or for a specific industry, there is a chance you could run into the same individuals at companies where you get a new job, or at networking events. 

Keep your cool and stay polite, even when your emotions are running high. Don’t say something that you could regret and always stay professional.

In a perfect world, every work place would be filled with employees who mesh perfectly and get along all day, every day. But we don’t live in a perfect world.

When it comes to categories of jerks that may work beside you, the list is long: the bully, the crybaby, the thief, the gossip, the snob. Where do you turn when a coworker has you clawing your way up the cubicle wall?

Be prepared. If you know someone is argumentative, bossy, or snarky, don’t let their behavior surprise you. Anticipate what they will do and practice how you will react. A professional reaction is much better than an instinctive one, which will more likely be childish and angry or annoyed. Respond, don’t react.

Be kind. While you may wish to flush your coworker’s keys down the toilet, it’s better to be kind. Why? First, it’s the right thing to do, but second, it takes their power away. Difficult people thrive on conflict, and refusing to engage in nasty banter leaves them without any fuel. Besides, sinking to their level will make you as bad as they are.

Loop in a professional. If situations are continually escalating, get human resources involved. Calmly and rationally explain the issue and ask for mediation help. Human resources should be more than willing to help resolve the conflict.

If it’s really bad, move on. If you’ve tried every kindness and available route for resolution and your coworker still seems to be out to get you, it might be time to start looking for another job. While this may seem extreme, if the coworker is negatively impacting your work and your life, you deserve to find a better job. Besides, do you really want to work at a company where bad behavior is allowed to run the show?

You’ve been working hard on writing the perfect cover letter. You’ve researched etiquette, nailed the formatting, and outlined your experience. You’ve edited and re-edited. But despite the letter’s technical perfection, there’s one big problem: It’s really boring.

Cover letters are designed to introduce you and your resume. They quickly outline your experience and allow you to add in extra information about what makes you a good fit for a particular job. But oftentimes, people become too focused on writing the perfect cover letter and crank out introductions that are bland. Hiring managers are facing an epidemic of dull letters, and this is your chance to stand out and sell your experience.

To add a little spice to a bland letter, first think about the job you’re applying for. You want to keep the important keywords intact, but you also want to show that you’re the right fit. Think about the kind of person who would be ideal in that job and adjust your cover letter accordingly. Replace humdrum verbs with ones that show you have a little pep.  

Steer clear of jargon and useless corporate-isms. Scrap anything that isn’t relevant to you or your experience. Throwing jargon and “professional language” around isn’t impressive, it’s filler. Be direct and avoid words that aren’t pulling their weight.

Finally, while you want to market yourself, you don’t want to make the cover letter entirely about you. Figure out what needs the position is fulfilling, and illustrate how you can be an employer’s dream come true. Instead of saying “I have ten years of experience doing ___,” say, “I have ten years of experience doing ___, which can help your company to ___ and ___.”

 For more tips, check out this handy blog from author Karen Burns about how to address the needs of an employer in your cover letter.

Social media have revolutionized networking, recruiting, and job hunting. But this new fast track to your future can easily lead to some major networking train wrecks. Before you dive in head first, pause to consider some guidelines for safe, successful social networking.

Don’t fib. The Internet has made it easier than ever to double check someone’s resume, so don’t try to score points with any white lies. Be confident that you have what it takes to land the job you want, and let your true experience speak for itself. If you fib, it’s likely that you’ll be caught, which will absolutely damage your career.

Don’t forget that people are watching. Even with your privacy settings set to high, it’s important to be mindful of the words, photos, and links you post. Some companies who are looking into candidates will use employee networks to try to view your profile, so keep negative updates and unprofessional party picas to a minimum. It’s wise to create two social networking profiles—one for your professional life and one for your job search.

Don’t share too much information. Hackers and scammers are crafty, and it’s important not to give out too much information as you search. For example, never give out your social security number unless you are 100 percent sure of exactly who you’re giving it to, what they will do with it, and what their records security policy is.

Don’t be rude. While networking is about getting to the next step in your own career, remember that it’s also about what you can do to help others. When asking for help, be polite and don’t be overly blunt. Any social interaction requires manners and finesse, and social networking is no different.

For more great tips on how to make social networking work for you, read this career coach article from examiner.com that outlines more tips on how to make the most of social media in your job hunt.

Everyone thinks about getting a new job, but what about a new career all together? Most people shy away from an entirely different career because of the training and new skills or schooling that may be required to start a new career. 

But, it is possible to find alternative careers by transferring your current skills to other industries or job options. For example, if you love to teach, but would rather go into the corporate world over teaching children, look into a career as a corporate trainer.

Also, if you do want to try an alternative career make a list of your skills as well as what you do and don’t like about your current job. This will help you zero in on the alternative careers that interest you most, and then you can start an educated job search.

Check out other alternative career options from Spherion and Monster.

If you talk to experienced managers and supervisors, they may tell you that being the boss isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Although it is gratifying to move up and achieve more responsibility, some employees may not realize what moving into a management position actually entails.

According to one article, when surveyed about their top challenges, managers mostly cite issues that deal with the people management aspect of being a supervisor.

This is an important area to keep in mind when moving up the ladder. It’s not only about adding to your responsibilities in regards to the day-to-day workload. Having to deal with issues such as team conflict, performance reviews and morale are skills that need to be acquired.

Prior to moving into a supervisory role, spend some time researching the manager-employee relationship, and take note of the dos and don’ts of communicating with individuals and a team. If possible, take training classes and workshops too.

Also, don’t forget to ask a trusted supervisory peer his or her advice on handling certain situations.

Moving up the ladder is a great compliment to your skills, but it can also include areas of expertise where you do not have experience. Don’t let that deter you. Keep on moving up and look forward to the opportunity of learning additional skills.

Newly-crowned CPAs or accountants often face a difficult decision when it comes to where they should land in their first job – a small firm or large corporation? When looking for a job that will last, it’s not only important to choose a company that aligns with your goals, but also a business culture that will fit you. A lot of what you can expect from a company, and your ability to make an impact within it, can be determined by its size.

For example, smaller firms may not require as much travel or the long work hours because most clients are private and have fewer needs when compared to a typical client of a large firm or a public company.  However, if you’re looking for diversity in clientele to expand your skill base, a larger firm may be your best fit.

Here are a few general guidelines when it comes to small vs. large businesses to help navigate the right choice for you.

  • Small companies don’t usually have the extra cash for the best equipment and other top industry resources, whereas large companies have more available to invest in resources such as technology and a large network of staff and industry experts. Consider how important those resources may be to you.
  • The size of a company can also determine the magnitude of your responsibilities and the expectations of your employer. Smaller companies tend to expect people to wear more hats, and while this can be stressful, it can also be rewarding. As the small company grows, employees also have a better chance of taking on higher levels of responsibility.
  • Larger companies tend to be so structured that taking on extra responsibilities may be difficult since strict policies and procedures make them bureaucratic and extremely structured. Decisions take a long time and can be tedious, and frequent reorganizations also leave employees feeling like they don’t know where they stand or who they report to.

Some people gravitate toward the structure and resources of larger companies, which may also have a bigger network of advancement opportunities with the company. Others enjoy the flexibility and opportunity that small businesses offer.

When choosing a job that will make you happy, it’s important to remember that size definitely matters.