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Via Madison.com : 12 Signs Your Boss or Workplace Is Toxic

There’s a good chance that your boss isn’t a great leader — such folks are relatively rare. For most of us, a competent boss can be just fine — but even that isn’t necessarily the norm. Per one psychologist’s estimate, about 60% to 75% of all managers are incompetent or poor leaders. According to a Gallup report, companies choose the wrong person for the management job about 82% of the time — and that’s a problem because, according to the same report, “Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units.”

It’s hard to get ahead at work if you’re working for a toxic boss or in a toxic workplace, so it’s best to be able to identify a toxic boss so that you can consider whether you need to change jobs.

Here are some signs that your boss or your workplace is toxic:

Signs your boss is toxic

A simple way to get an idea of whether your boss is toxic is to ask yourself whether he or she frequently upsets you, scares you, frustrates you, abuses you, or in other ways makes you very unhappy at work. Here are some specific ways that can happen:

The boss micromanages: If you’re told exactly how to do every little thing, that can be frustrating and can slow you down. It also reflects a boss who doesn’t trust you to do the job well, which is a poor recipe for successful teamwork.

The boss communicates poorly: If your boss rarely makes clear what needs to be done and then is upset that it hasn’t been done, no one wins. A good boss will communicate well and make sure that his direct reports understand and are comfortable asking questions.

The boss doesn’t listen: If your boss doesn’t solicit input from others and doesn’t consider ideas and thoughts when they’re offered — perhaps believing that only she is right — then that can be very unmotivating to workers. It’s also a sign that you’re not respected.

The boss plays favorites: If your boss has a favorite underling or two and doesn’t treat all subordinates with respect and fairness, resentments will fester and productiveness will be threatened. It can kill morale, too, if favorites get plum assignments and promotions. It can also be toxic if the boss’s favorite employee is… the boss. If the boss routinely gives himself privileges that others don’t have (such as an allowance to come in late or leave early or enjoy extra-long lunches) or doesn’t follow rules that he expects you to follow, that can be toxic, too.

The boss is unprofessional: If your boss gets too chummy with you and/or your colleagues, perhaps even leaning on you emotionally, that can make things inappropriately complicated — and stressful. Being very gossipy is also unprofessional, and can be harmful. Other unprofessional behaviors include cursing and yelling and complaining. Even being too “fun” can be unprofessional, if it gets in the way of taking the work sufficiently seriously. (Think, for example, of Michael Scott in the television show “The Office.)

The boss has unrealistic expectations: If your boss expects you to do more than is possible, that’s setting you up to fail. It’s a recipe for unhappiness in the workplace and a de-motivator.

The boss steals credit: If your boss is frequently presenting work and ideas to others as his own when they’re not, that’s a toxic behavior that makes for unhappy underlings. Along similar lines, if your boss does not take responsibility when things go badly on his watch, that’s poor behavior as well.

The boss is a sexual harasser: Clearly, if your boss is sexually harassing you or anyone else that you’re aware of, it makes for a toxic workplace, featuring anxiety and stress, among other things. This situation should not be tolerated, and if you find yourself in it, you should immediately go to Human Resources.

The boss is moody: If the boss is upbeat on some days and a tyrant on others, it can make for a nervous workplace. A boss who is generally pessimistic and a downer can make it hard to be enthusiastic about your work — and can be hard to be around, as well. Good leaders inspire.

Signs your workplace is toxic

Any or all of the toxic boss behaviors above can create a toxic workplace, but they’re not the only factors that can do that. Here are some additional signs of a toxic workplace:

Toxic coworkers: Think about the people you work with. If one or more of them are doing some of the things that toxic bosses do, that can be enough to poison the workplace. Maybe, for example, a colleague is always stealing credit or a coworker is sexually harassing someone.

Cliques: If there are cliques at work, with some people feeling excluded, that’s an unhealthy situation and can keep morale depressed. It’s even worse if a clique is a negative one, full of complainers or people who insult others.

Inequality: If rules are enforced for some but not for others, or if some people with noxious behaviors are not called out on it, that can foster resentment and an unpleasant workplace. Some workers might have some poor behaviors tolerated due to the value they create, but that can make others unhappy.

Neoptism: If one or more coworkers has been hired seemingly because they’re related to the boss or someone else and not because they were the best candidate for the job, that can be frustrating and de-motivating. If they turn out not to be great at their job, that can hurt productivity and morale, too.

Some toxic boss behaviors or toxic workplace traits will likely remain no matter what you do, and your best response might be to seek another job, if possible. But some conditions and behaviors might be addressed. As a start, you might speak with someone in your human resources department to let them know and get their suggestions.

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Via The Motley Fool : If you’re looking for a job, here are a few rules you should know by heart.

Whether you’re fresh out of college or are mid-career and looking for a change, your resume will play an important role in helping you land your dream job. That’s why it’s crucial to get that document just right, and with that in mind, here are a few ground rules all job seekers ought to know.

1. Make it brief
Your resume should serve as a snapshot of your experience and talent — not a novel. Though you don’t want to skimp on details, you should also aim to keep that document as brief as possible. In fact, if you’ve only had a couple of jobs, there’s no reason your credentials can’t be summarized in a single page. If you’re a seasoned professional, on the other hand, and need to exceed the one-page mark, it’s better to do so than omit key information about your work history, but don’t go overboard, either — especially if you’re talking about a position you haven’t held in years.

2. Kill the objective statement
Nothing screams “amateur” like a forced objective statement rehashing the obvious. Starting off your resume with something along the lines of “seeking a career where I can flourish and grow” isn’t going to win you any points with a prospective employer. If anything, all that objective statement will do is take up valuable real estate on that key piece of paper. You’re better off opening up with a strong, snappy summary of who you are and why you’re such a valuable asset.

3. Be consistent
A clean, consistent resume sends the message that you’re the type who pays attention to detail. That’s why it’s important to keep your resume consistent from a stylistic standpoint. If you start off by bolding your first few job titles, continue to do so throughout that document. Similarly, make sure to use the same font size and style all over that page.

4. Never make spelling or grammatical mistakes
You don’t need to be a linguistics expert to land a job, but if you submit a resume laden with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, you’re apt to come off as unpolished or unprofessional. While running your resume through a spelling and grammar check program can help you identify glaring errors, some mistakes may not get picked up. That’s why it’s essential to not only proofread your own resume, but, ideally, enlist the help of a friend or colleague to review it on your behalf. It’s easier for someone else to spot your errors than it is to identify your own mistakes, and having an outside pair of eyes might make the difference between submitting a clean resume versus one that’s sloppy.

5. Don’t get too personal
The point of a resume is to highlight your career-related accomplishments and experience, and while it’s OK for tidbits of your personality to shine through, you should generally aim to keep its contents work-centric. While you can list a hobby or interest that pertains to your job or makes you a more appealing candidate, keep those personal touches to a minimum, and instead focus on your sales numbers, data mining skills, or editorial prowess. For the most part, hiring managers don’t care about your sports team affiliations when you’re just at the resume stage, so save those personal notes for the interview process.

A strong resume could lead to a world of job opportunities. Get that document right, and you’re more likely to get your foot in the door.

Via GQ Magazine : Expert interview tips and techniques to get you that job

Step up your interview game with expert interview tips and techniques from Rehearse It!

It’s 11am on a Friday and in a regal room in London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, I’m having a fake job interview with a fake job interviewer. Again and again. A film director is observing me, telling me after each dry run what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been asked to pretend this room is a lobby where I’ve just met my fake interviewer and we’re walking towards a nonexistent interview room. I’ve been told to make small talk and as I ask my fake potential employer about the statues in front of us she improvises back, reeling off some false history, gesticulating.

“OK, stop,” says the director. “That was good, but you weren’t mirroring enough. Let’s try it again and be more overt with your arm movements.” We go again and I swing my arms around in line with my interviewer’s as she talks. I feel ridiculous, but the director is happy. This, apparently, will help me get a job.

This is the mission at Rehearse It! (their exclamation mark): getting people hired. Since the company launched in March 2016, it says it has had 96 per cent success. It won’t get Joe Schmo into Nasa, but if you’re qualified and keep crashing down at interview hurdles, the people here can help. At one-day group workshops, you’ll be given a primer in the behavioural science that underlies what they teach, then undertake practical rehearsals that deconstruct the interview process and help you to become a shining star.

“Our performance is way more important than the content of what we’re saying,” says Rehearse It!’s erudite founder, Robin Roberts. “A powerful actor can say some lame things and come across as being a man of great gravitas and insight. Another guy can say cleverthings, but say them in a rubbish way and be judged as not knowing much.”

He speaks proudly of a 25-year-old client who was failing in his quest to become an asset manager because he found the interviews too stressful. After being put through his paces at Rehearse It!, he landed a corker.

Before setting up the company last year, Roberts spent two decades at an executive search firm, where he was a senior partner. There, he saw many board candidates “totally screw up their interviews”. Feedback would be that these candidates were hopeless; he knew that they were not. Intrigued, he began to research why it was happening, and began thinking about what he could do to help.

Back in my fake job interview, I’ve made it to the fake office. My interviewer, sitting opposite me, asks about my journey in. I was genuinely late thanks to a slew of delayed trains. She tells me she rather likes train delays as it gives her more time to sit and think before getting to work. I disagree (the delay had made me rather grumpy), but after cutting us off, the director tells me I shouldn’t have. Negative grumbling isn’t going to do me any favours, he says – I need to find some positive agreement to start forming that bond. We go again.

“I’m a zoologist by training,” explains Roberts of Rehearse It!’s behavioural science. At the workshop I attend, there’s much talk of research gathered from university psychology departments. “I’m really interested in the science in animal behaviour,” continues Roberts. “So I did a deep-dive literature review of the research about it, about how people come to judgements about other people. Influencing behaviour. And then I realised, of course, we are homo sapiens, we are animals. We are a highly social species and we respond in a very predictable way to certain behaviours in front of us.”

This information is presented to us at the workshop, where we’re told how crucial first impressions are. Research from Princeton in 2006 found that people judge us on our looks in one tenth of a second. In half a second, they’ve judged us on our looks and voice together. After 15 minutes in our company, major decisions are made. These are deep-rooted instincts, says Roberts. Frankly, it is a bit depressing. You’d hope powerful people in the position of hiring potentially powerful people would know better than to succumb to such primal reflexes. Surely Roberts finds these statistics dispiriting?

“Well, yes and no,” he laughs. “I’m not suggesting for a minute that anyone makes a hiring decision in a tenth of a second. But I am saying we can deploy things and nudge an interviewer in our favour. Say there’s a hiring manager – let’s call her Sarah – and recognise that because Sarah is human, she cannot avoid extrapolating a huge amount of information from hands. She is human because of that. For her species, hands are the most important tool. She’s also a member of the ultimate social species. And so for her it is life and death to choose a member of her team who is useful and competent. Hands have nothing to do with the complex job you’re going for, but it’s well proven that, albeit in a subconscious way, she will extrapolate a lot of good things about you if you show her your hands. So if you want the job, don’t sit on your hands. Show them to her!”

This body language, says Roberts, is vital. In my fake job interview, I’m told to relax more into my chair – don’t slouch, but don’t lean forward nervously, which I wasn’t aware I was doing. The man giving me these suggestions is Adam Batchelor, a young film director hired by Rehearse It! to train enrollees. After collating his research for Rehearse It!, Roberts had “a great epiphany” to headhunt and form a team of performing arts specialists to work with his science and help to polish performances.

“I told them, ‘All we’re going to do is teach what the science says works. It’s not a drama class,'” he says. “And that was genius, because the combination of the science and the performing arts has given us such a high success rate.” Batchelor is one of a handful of teachers, which also includes casting directors Michele Leach and Janey Fothergill, and actor Felicity Montagu, aka Alan Partridge’s long-suffering assistant, Lynn, who can’t join us today, presumably stuck in a traffic jam on the Chiswick Roundabout.

The first thing the Rehearse It! team do with recruits is give us our own starring role. Their version of “shock of capture” has them videoing us going through all the motions of a job interview, from sitting in reception, to walking to the room, doing the interview, then leaving. We’re shown one they made earlier: before and after videos of a Rehearse It! attendee, the first as he started the day, the second at the end, after his training. The former video shows the suited man behaving perfectly naturally and normally – no great disaster. The second, though, puts it in perspective – now, his confidence shines, his small talk is charming, his presentation as he reels off his achievements clear and digestible.

“The military have done huge studies into this,” Roberts explains to me later. “They use shock of capture to train airmen how to deal with being captured. It’s this massive physiological thing: we go small, blood pressure rises, digestion stops and we begin to lose the ability to think, because we are in genuine physical jeopardy. And the same physiological effects happen when we’re in a job interview, but in a milder way. We’re obviously not in physical jeopardy – the jeopardy is that we will get a no and that causes us stress because it will have a negative impact on our professional future.”

It can certainly seem like life or death, sometimes. “Exactly. I don’t claim that a client pitch meeting is the equivalent of being kidnapped. But the same physiological effects are happening and it’s the way we respond that causes our counterpart to choose someone else.”

I began my day at Rehearse It! feeling relatively confident, perfectly capable of handling myself in the right job interview. And while I did feel like a bit of a donkey with the physical mirroring and the sycophantic small talk, I left a few hours later with extra skills and reminders of how important it is to carry yourself; how subtle, seemingly unimportant demeanours and gestures can make a world of difference.

Top ten interview tips

Standing in reception
Don’t: Project swagger. Your masculinity really is not that impressive.
Do: Project positivity and confidence.

Sitting in reception
Don’t: Slouch with your legs spread. It suggests arrogance.
Do: Sit upright, with a level gaze. It shows you’re interested.

Your personal information
Don’t: Assume that they’ve read all of your CV.
Do: Offer to give a concise rundown of your CV, presented in digestible chunks.

What to do with your thumbs
Don’t: Hide or clasp your thumbs in your palms – it makes you look nervous.
Do: Keep your thumbs visible – this denotes confidence.

What to do with your hands
Don’t: Rub your face during an interview. It shows you’re stressed.
Do: Keep your hands on the desk – it helps the interviewer to engage.

Walking to the interview room
Don’t: Walk in silence – their judgement has already begun.
Do: Make small talk – make it comfortable for your interviewer.

Sitting in the interview
Don’t: Lean forward. This means you’re nervous.
Do: Sit up straight – relaxed but attentive.

First impressions
“You don’t have to do too much for too long to have a positive impact,” says Rehearse It!’s Robin Roberts. “First impressions really do count”.

Performance anxiety
Nervous body language can reflect badly on you during an interview.

Ending well
Don’t check your phone when the interview’s over, keep the process going. It’s not over until you’re out of sight.

Via Forbes : How To Apply For A Tech Internship When You Have No Experience At All

What is your advice for someone planning to apply for Society of Women Engineers internships who does not have any prior related experience?

I was in a very similar situation during my sophomore year of college. I had spent the previous summer doing research (which I also highly recommend) and found that I didn’t have the previous experience or qualifications that most companies were looking for in a SWE intern. I had the classes, I had the knowledge, but I didn’t have the previous experience.

I applied everywhere. I must have applied to over 50 companies. I handed out as many resumes as I could at my school career fair. I applied to any job I could through my school’s online career portal. I cold emailed companies asking if they had any need for an intern. Meanwhile, a friend had also referred me for an internship position at Microsoft early in the season.

By February, I had applied everywhere and had no luck. Towards the end of the month, some of my leads started to pay off. The Microsoft recruiter I was working with let me know they had a last minute opening in an on campus interview and I was able to sneak in. A small biotech start-up I had applied to weeks or months earlier reached back out to me. Another company that a friend had referred me to came through and brought me in to interview onsite. It all started to come together and I ended up having options.

Some key takeaways from my experience:

  • Apply early.
  • Referrals are gold. Of my 50+ applications, 2 of my 3 interviews came from referrals. If you have a friend or colleague that works at a company you’re interested, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for a referral. Be polite, but the worst thing they can say is “no”.
  • The above said, apply everywhere. You never know which company is going to decide to take a chance on you, or decide that your skills and experience are a perfect fit for them.
  • Be persistent. Follow up with recruiters and applications. This is something that I didn’t really internalize until a year or so after the above experience. I was afraid of being annoying but in reality, as long as you are polite and wait appropriate amounts of time between emails and reminders (1–2 weeks depending on the circumstance), it can only help.
  • Don’t lose hope. Keep applying. By February or March, many positions are filled but many others aren’t. A lot of the more competitive applicants have been snatched up already and companies are more willing to interview freshmen, sophomores, and people with less experience in general.

Caveat: You are not less qualified because it takes a bit longer to get an interview or an offer. You never know exactly what a company is looking for. Just because you don’t have as much prior experience, does not mean that you are any less qualified to do the job and do it well.

I talk more specifically about the interview and application process here: Danielle Kain’s answer to What is the typical application and interview process for a software engineering internship?

Good luck!

Via Raconteur : Engaging the disengaged leaders is key to employee engagement

The pivotal importance of engaged leadership must not be overlooked in the drive to achieve employee engagement

Take a look at almost anything written about engagement and it is almost a given the words “staff” or “employee” will feature. Globally, 87 per cent of employees are not engaged, proclaims Gallup; employee disengagement costs the UK economy £340 billion a year in lost productivity, according to Hay Group; and so the list could go on.

But the eagle-eyed may have noticed all these statistics ignore one key person – the leader. If employees’ engagement oscillates, it’s surely common sense leaders suffer the same ups and downs. But here’s the $64,000 question: how much does this really matter?

“It’s absolutely the case leaders set the tone. It’s they who set the standard, so leaders actually need to be even more engaged,” argues Kate Cooper, head of applied research and policy at the Institute of Leadership and Management. “Even when things aren’t going well, they almost need to rise above this.”

Even though academics have veered away from the great leaders’ mantra, preferring a holacratic, everyone-in-it-together approach to organisational design, what has not disappeared is the notion companies can either have inspiring leaders or leaders who inspire disengagement.

A recent Bain & Company study found 60 per cent of employees didn’t know their company’s goals, strategies and tactics, so if leaders haven’t clarified this vital ingredient for creating engagement, responsibility for poor business performance lies squarely on their shoulders.

“It’s interesting lots of leaders still don’t focus on their own engagement or what I call their own energy,” says Charlene Li, author of The New York Times best seller, The Engaged Leader. “Yet it’s even more important they maintain this over time.”

According to Ms Li, the tale-tale signs leaders are becoming disengaged are when they go missing in action, take longer to return e-mails or calls, say “no” more often, and start to support and promote those who most agree with them. And when this attitude sets in, it can have a corrosive impact on the bottom line. Staff who are “actively disengaged” – around 20 per cent, according to Gallup – specifically say they do not find their work or their leader motivating.

“Leadership is a contact sport,” says Chris Bones, professor of creativity and leadership at Manchester Business School, and partner at Good Growth. “Being an engaged leader is about being visible and present. What’s interesting though is that a reason leaders often become disengaged is because it can take time for staff to believe them. Paradoxically, leaders can become disengaged just at the point when their staff start to buy in to their vision.”

THE POWER OF ENGAGED LEADERSHIP

One leader acutely aware of the power of engaged leadership is Ken Allen, chief executive of DHL Express, who in 2013 launched what business journal HR magazine described as the “world’s biggest engagement scheme”. In what was a do-or-die decision, as the company had lost €2.8 billion between 2002 and 2009, the business has since transformed itself.

But according to Mr Allen, engagement starts from him and particularly from being imbued in the business. “I’m a company man,” he says. “I’ve been here since 1985. Today I see lots of leaders parachuted into businesses, but they will only inspire their staff if they embrace the good things that made the business successful and don’t try to do things ‘their way’.

“Until every employee thinks they can grow personally too, leaders can’t grow their business, so it’s leaders who need to create stories. I take it upon myself to be in front of people all the time, delivering my message. I don’t want to be seen as a suit from head office.”

Although Mr Allen admits leaders still “have to force themselves to be engaged”, Ms Li believes the very act of being in front of staff is not only engaging for employees, it’s engaging for the boss too. “When they challenge their people to be engaged, it’s engaging for themselves,” she says. “They reconnect; they rediscover their passion for the business.”

Because human resources literature focuses on “authentic leadership” and about being honest with staff, Ms Cooper argues leaders can be confused about the sort of engagement they have to present to staff. For instance, whether they should admit they’re feeling low or whether being emotionally bare facilitates better “followership”.

She says: “Authenticity is about saying ‘I’m having a bad day’. That’s fine, but the best leaders still need to present control. What leaders must do is create a team around them, one that has their backing rather than waits for them to fail.

“Engagement needs to be a strategic activity. Leaders need to recognise what sort of person they are. If they thrive setting businesses up and are engaged doing that, fine. But, if they also know their enthusiasm wanes, they need to know when it’s best to bring someone else in who has more energy.”

The good news is as more leaders understand the bottom-line value of having engaged staff, the more leaders themselves are understanding their role in it.

Eric Garton, partner at Bain & Company, and author of Time, Talent and Energy, says leaders need all three of these qualities, but it’s their energy or engagement that has the most power to transform. “All businesses suffer organisational drag, but the most drag is caused by lacklustre leadership,” he says. “Engaged staff are 44 per cent more productive than satisfied staff, but employees who are inspired are 125 per cent more productive than a satisfied staff.”

Mr Garton argues engaged leaders “presume trust and empower accordingly”. He says: “Millennial companies have inherently more energy because their leaders don’t tend to micro-manage. While some leaders get worn down by their own organisation, the best don’t worry about people challenging them. The best leaders demonstrate engagement by owning it – simple as that.” That’s the challenge. Now it’s up to leaders to embrace it.

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