Saturday, April 20, 2013

11 Ways To Decrease Relationship Stress

Stress has an insidious way of undermining every aspect of our health and happiness. Nowhere is this more obvious then in our closest and most valued relationships. Have the anxieties and pressures of daily life or a constricting economy begun to seep into your home life?

When we are stressed out, we need to feel that our home is a safe haven where we can find relief and comfort. A happy relationship can make all the difference during challenging times. Sadly, more and more couples are experiencing the divisive influence of outside stress in their relationship with their mate.

Growing closer while facing challenges

Are there steps we can take to protect the happiness of our relationship during trying times? When the pressure rises, is there some way for couples to actually draw closer rather than allowing their relationship to be torn apart?

Handled correctly, challenging experiences can actually bring couples closer together. This is not to say that they will be immune to the stress. What it means is that working together and facing their challenges as a unified partnership can deepen their bond and add new depth to their relationship.

11 ways to decrease relationship stress

1. Avoid making negative assumptions. If something happens that you have no control over, don't make things worse by assuming the worst. If someone loses their job it doesn't help to conclude that you will also lose your home and everything you have worked for. Instead of focusing on the negative possibilities, sit down with your mate and discuss possible solutions. If you work together in a creative way you may be able to turn this challenge into an opportunity. This is the time to let your partnership shine.

2. Don't be critical or assign blame. The blame game is very destructive to a relationship and it never contributes to unity. The goal here is to draw closer as a couple, not to alienate your best friend and life partner. The same goes for being critical of one another, all that will do is divide the relationship. Let's face it, sometimes bad things happen, that's just the way life is. Looking at each challenge as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship bond will help you avoid the temptation to blame your mate.

3. Acknowledge your partner's concerns. If something goes wrong and we feel responsible, it is easy to turn defensive when our partner expresses their concerns. Rather that turning it into a confrontation by defending ourselves, we need to put our egos aside and acknowledge their concerns with an understanding heart. If we are truly partners then we are in it together. That means we probably have similar concerns that we need to work on in a spirit of cooperation.

4. Respond rather than react. The difference between a response and a reaction has to do with the amount and type of emotion that's involved. When we just react to bad news it is very likely that our reaction will also include a negative emotional component. If we choose to respond rather than react, our knee jerk reaction will be softened by our desire to maintain peace and unity in our relationship. A response allows room for more positive emotions like compassion and understanding.

5. Honor each other's feelings. The way men and women respond to stress is often very different. To the man, it might seem like she is attaching too much emotional significance to the situation. To the woman, it might seem like he is just blowing it off or ignoring the problem. Recognizing that we all express our concerns in different ways makes it easier to honor the feelings and expressions of our mate. The fact that we express our feelings differently does not mean that one person's way is more valid than their mate's, it's just different.

6. Identify the real source of the stress. If we are feeling stress in our relationship, we need to figure out where it is coming from. If the source of the stress is external (outside the relationship), don't treat it like a relationship problem. See it for what it is! Statistically, money issues account for more relationship problems than any other source. But in reality, money is a financial problem. It only becomes a relationship problem if you let it. Working together as partners is a much more effective way to solve money problems than fighting about it.

7. Treat your mate with respect. There is an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. How sad is that? Unfortunately, we tend to be less resourceful when we are under stress. The last thing we want to do under those conditions is be disrespectful to the person we share our life with. In reality, it's not familiarity that breeds contempt; it's a lack of respect and consideration. You can promote unity and decrease relationship stress by always maintaining a high level of respect for your partner, regardless of the challenges you face.

8. Seek opportunities to encourage each other. How do you feel when your partner expresses confidence in you? It's encouraging, isn't it? And this is especially true during those challenging times when you may be experiencing feelings of self-doubt. Nothing lifts us up and restores our confidence like the encouragement of our special someone. Mutual encouragement is one of the most powerful anti-stress tools your relationship has, be sure to make good use of it. Instead of waiting for stressful situations to present themselves, why not seek every opportunity to be encouraging.

9. Differentiate between the relationship and the problem. It is vital to always recognize the difference between the actual relationship and the problems and challenges you face. The love you feel for one another needs to be protected from the problems you encounter. Confusing the two is relationship suicide. To do this we need to work at confining our response to stress so it doesn't poison our feeling about our mate.

10. Reaffirm your partnership often. It is important to remind yourself that you are allies in every struggle and challenge. Remind each other that you are there for your mate no matter what. If you make a mistake, being quick to apologize demonstrates your commitment to the partnership. Being forgiving has a similar effect. Regularly letting your partner sense how much you value the relationship will help clear away any doubts caused by trying situations.

11. Get help if you need it. When things get confusing, don't be too proud or stubborn to seek qualified help. Sometimes we are so close to a situation that we lose our objectivity. An impartial third party like a relationship coach can often see things much more clearly and provide valuable insight at just the right time. If we truly value our closest relationship then we should be willing to do whatever it takes to strengthen those special bonds of love and unity.

Thanks to Jonathan Wells / Advanced Life Skills


7 Phrases To Delete From Your Linkedin Profile (And From Your Resume/CV)

An interesting practice seems to have cropped up among self-written social media profiles, where phrases taboo on resumes like, "Self-motivated team player," are creeping back into lists of job hunter credentials on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately, these mundane, dry, and redundant phrases can make it difficult for you to maximize the power of LinkedIn in a job search.

It's also challenging for recruiters and employers to see past these overused terms when looking for your value proposition!

However, with a little ingenuity, you can pull the lackluster phrases out of your profile and replace them with powerful writing that conveys your personal style and energy.

Here are some of the worst offenders lurking among LinkedIn profiles, along with suggestions for alternative wording:

1. Accomplished professional

If this is really true, then show (don't tell!) your readers about it. This phrase is likely to prompt more annoyance from employers than appreciation.

Instead, consider using a sentence or phrase that speaks specifically to your achievements, such as, "Sales rep honored for closing 147% of quota during 2009 and 2010," or, "IT Director heading multimillion-dollar outsourcing contracts at major banks."

In addition, you can add accomplishment data (right in the Summary) that cuts to the heart of what you do and why you're good at it, with sentences like, "Sales manager honored for coaching 3 Top Producers," or, "Operations manager promoted for increasing production line efficiency."

2. Results-driven

Most companies plan on hiring someone who fits this description, and they weed out anyone who doesn't perform to their expectations. It's almost to your detriment to point this out in your profile.

You might try adding information that actually PROVES your drive for results, with mention of how you've earned a promotion in just six months, or the ways in which your performance has outpaced that of your peers.

3. Exceptional communicator

The trouble with this phrase is it's not only tough to prove, but that the person using it often misspells one or more words (really).

Since your LinkedIn profile gives you plenty of opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills, you'll have the opportunity to convey complex concepts or perhaps distill a major project into a short description…both of which would speak louder about your communications skills than this phrase ever will.

4. Proven success

Well, employers would hope so. After all, why mention your success unless you have some proof to back it up?

Here's where you're better off noting some metrics, as in, "Exceeded quota for 7 out of past 8 years," "Brought company to 87% market share," or, "Met 100% of project budget constraints despite limited resources."

These achievements can help online readers understand the scope of your work and the reasons behind your career progression.

5. Experienced

Ahem… of COURSE you are.

Even worse, "Successful experience," is so redundant you're wasting space and LinkedIn keyword optimization by even thinking of these phrases.

One way to replace this word is to simply specify the number of years you've worked in the industry.

However, be careful here, "15 years of experience in sales," doesn't quite have the same ring as, "Generated 23% average over-quota revenue throughout progressively challenging sales roles."

6. Responsible for

Just like a resume, there is no reason to clutter the landscape of your profile with a phrase that is largely assumed.

Rather than use this phrase, you can just skip to the relevant facts, "Managed $500K budget," "Supervised staff of 10," and save everyone's time.

7. Microsoft Word skills

There's no advantage to listing basic skills that nearly all candidates possess. Unless you are seeking an entry-level role requiring clerical duties, employers will be more surprised if you don't have these skills, than if you take the time to list them.

You're much better off researching target jobs and noting the skills (keywords) required for the position, then using these terms to show your competency.

To summarize, back up and take a long look at your LinkedIn profile. Are you committing the same mistakes that have been appearing on resumes for years?

If so, it's time to refresh your approach and provide specific details on the high points of your career—information others can readily relate to (and even use to hire you) from your LinkedIn profile.

Laura Smith-Proulx, founder of An Expert Resume, is a resume expert & former recruiter who wins interviews for C-Suite leaders using powerful personal branding and resume strategies.

Thanks to Laura Smith-Proulx / Careerealism


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Getting To The Heart Of Hands-Only CPR

In Hands-Only CPR only chest compressions are used. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about this procedure from the American Heart Association.

Q. What is Hands-Only CPR?

A. Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by people who see an adult suddenly collapse in an "out-of-hospital" setting. It consists of two steps:
1.   Call 911 (or send someone to do that).
2.   Begin providing high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest with minimal interruptions.

Q. Who should receive Hands-Only CPR?

A. Hands-Only CPR is recommended for adults who collapse suddenly. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends conventional CPR (that is, CPR with a combination of breaths and compressions) for adult victims who are found already unconscious and not breathing normally. Conventional CPR is also recommended for victims of drowning or collapse due to breathing problems.

Q. Do responders need to take a training course to learn how to do Hands-Only CPR?

A. CPR is a psychomotor skill. AHA continues to recommend a CPR training course to learn and practice the skills of CPR, including how to give high quality chest compressions. People who have CPR training are more confident about their skills than those who have not been trained (or have not had refresher training in the last 5 years). Even a very short CPR training program done at home, like the AHA's 22-minutee CPR Anytime program, is helpful.

Q. Do responders still need to learn "conventional" CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing?

A. AHA still recommends that people learn conventional CPR. There are many medical emergencies that cause a person to be unresponsive and to stop breathing normally. In some of these, CPR that includes mouth-to-mouth breathing may provide more benefit than Hands-Only CPR.

Q. Is Hands-Only CPR as effective as conventional CPR?

A. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR in the first few minutes of an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest. Conventional CPR may be better than Hands-Only CPR for certain victims, but any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt.

Q. Will Hands-Only CPR increase the chance of someone taking action in a cardiac emergency?

A. Yes. In a national survey, Americans who have not been trained in CPR within the last 5 years stated that they would be more likely to perform Hands-Only CPR than conventional CPR. In addition, Hands-Only CPR offers an easy-to-remember and effective option for those bystanders who have been previously trained in CPR, but are afraid to help because they are not confident that they can remember and perform the steps of conventional CPR.

Q. What should someone trained in conventional CPR who sees an adult suddenly collapse do?

A. Call 911 and start CPR. If the person is confident in the ability to provide conventional CPR with breathing (30 compressions to 2 breaths, or 30:2 CPR), he or she should provide either conventional CPR or Hands-Only CPR. The responder should continue CPR until an automated external defibrillator (AED) arrives and is ready for use or EMS providers take over care of the victim. If the responder is not confident in the ability to provide conventional CPR, then he or she should provide Hands-Only CPR and continue until an AED is ready for use or EMS providers take over.

Q. How long should someone trained in conventional CPR that includes breathing do Hands-Only CPR before switching to conventional CPR?

A. At this point, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), there is not sufficient data to provide a specific recommendation. Trained rescuers will take over when they arrive at the victim's side.

Q. For lay rescuers who have a duty to respond to emergencies as part of their job and who have received training in conventional CPR, Hands-Only CPR, AED, and/or first aid, what kind of CPR should they perform?

A. These responders may use Hands-Only or conventional CPR if they witness an adult suddenly collapse. AHA recommends that responders call 911, continue CPR until an AED arrives and is ready for use or until EMS providers take over care of the victim.

Q. Should a responder using an AED that prompts CPR with breathing just give chest compressions?

A. Responders should follow the directions provided by the AED and minimize any interruptions to chest compressions. All victims of cardiac arrest should receive high-quality chest compressions. Responders should push hard and fast in the center of the chest with minimal interruption.

Q. Not all people who suddenly collapse are in cardiac arrest. Will CPR seriously hurt them?

A. Adults who collapse and are not responsive are likely to have sudden cardiac arrest, and their chance of survival is nearly zero unless someone takes action immediately if sudden cardiac arrest is the cause of the collapse. If an adult has collapsed for reasons other than sudden cardiac arrest, Hands-Only CPR could still help by cause the person to respond (begin to move, breath normally, or speak). If that occurs, Hands-Only CPR can be stopped. Otherwise, chest compressions should continue until an AED is ready for use or EMS providers arrive and take over care of the victim.

For more information about Hands-Only CPR, go to

Thanks to Chris Kilbourne / Safety Daily Advisor BLR / BLR Business & Legal Reports


Depression, Memory Loss, And Concentration

Are you feeling forgetful and having trouble focusing? These symptoms of depression can affect your ability to get things done. Find out how to improve your memory and concentration.

Memory loss and an inability to focus may not seem like obvious symptoms of depression — but they are more connected than most people realize.

"Research has suggested that processing speed — the ability to take in information quickly and efficiently — is impaired in individuals who are depressed," explains Natascha Santos, PsyD, a psychologist and behavior therapist in Great Neck, N.Y. Many areas of the brain are involved with the creation and retrieval of memories. Irregularities in any of these areas, including those that create depression symptoms, can affect how you process memories and also influence your ability to concentrate.

Depression and Concentration: The Far-Reaching Effects

At first, depression-based memory loss and difficulty focusing may just be mildly annoying, but these types of cognitive defects can become quite serious over time and result in a diminished level of functioning in many capacities:

  • People with depression often feel like they can't focus when giving or receiving direction, which can result in misunderstandings at home, work, or school.
  • Relationships may suffer if people begin to perceive your distraction as a lack of consideration for what they're trying to tell you.
  • You may find that you can't focus on a task if other things are taking place around you, distracting you from your intended job and leaving it incomplete or below expectations.
  • Comprehending what you are reading may become difficult, resulting in missed information from written instructions or a lack of enjoyment when reading for pleasure.
  • Driving can become dangerous if your train of thought strays and you find you can't focus on the road.
  • Your ability to remember specific details may be hindered due to your lack of concentration when given new information.

Overcoming Depression Memory Loss

Getting treatment for your depression — which may include psychotherapy, medication, or other treatment modalities — is a must to get a handle on related cognitive problems such as memory loss and poor concentration. There are also specific steps you can take to improve your memory and ability to concentrate. Speak with your health care provider to determine the best options for you. Often, a combination of these treatment methods yields the best results:

  • Remediation techniques may isolate and correct your specific cognitive impairments through drills that target the tasks you're having trouble with. Computer software programs, written exercises, or group activities are often used.
  • Compensatory strategies are based on the idea that there's more than one way to reach a desired outcome. With this approach you're taught to use your strengths to compensate for any areas of cognitive deficiency. For example, if you are going shopping and have a poor verbal memory, you might not be able to remember the three items you were asked to purchase. If you're better with categorizing, you might mentally sort the items into categories, such as dairy, snacks, and pet products, which can help you remember that you need to get milk, potato chips, and cat litter. Personal learning styles and preferences factor in, so it's helpful to have an ongoing dialogue with your doctor. Over time, he or she will be able to determine the best compensatory strategies for you.
  • Adaptive approaches focus on changes you can make in your environment to help you function better. For example, if you have difficulty remembering tasks, you might use a digital recorder to dictate notes or record information that you can review later.

Depression and Concentration: Helpful Tips and Tricks

As you look to strategies to resolve depression memory loss, these tips can ease the impact of poor memory and concentration on your day-to-day life:

  • Move conversations to a quiet area with minimal distractions. Ask colleagues to speak about work matters in a private room rather than common spaces.
  • Don't answer your phone if you're somewhere you'll be distracted — let it go to voicemail so that you can listen to the call later and respond appropriately.
  • Make a list of daily tasks you need to accomplish and cross them off as they're completed.
  • Use sticky notes as reminders in places where you're sure to see them and write important reminders down immediately when they come to mind.
  • Have a set place at home and at work to store everyday items, such as car keys and your cell phone.
  • Take notes during meetings or use a recording device when appropriate so that you can review the information at a later time.

Finally, be honest with loved ones if you're having a hard time focusing, especially during a conversation. This may prevent hurt feelings or miscommunications with the people who care about you the most.

Thanks to Mikel Theobald / Medically Reviewed By Cynthia Haines, MD / EeverydayHealth / Everyday Health, Inc.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How To Keep Your Cover Letters From Landing In The Trash

Back in the "good ole days" before e-marketing took hold, I received a daily abundance of "promotional junk mail" along with the usual bills and occasional personal correspondence. One that was always fun was the letter from Publishers Clearing House. It always contained the same message…

"… and you [fill in name], are the only one in [fill in place] to receive this winning announcement!"

I may at times be a little gullible, but I wasn't convinced that I was a winner. Clearly this was a form letter and the only thing that was changed was the name and location of the recipient. So, what does this have to do with finding a job?

Just like a Publishers Clearing House letter, the goal of a cover letter is to capture attention, generate interest, and inspire action. And, just like that Publishers Clearing House sweepstake letter, most applicant cover letters are thrown in the trash. Employers aren't gullible – they can spot a mass-mail template even when the writer "cleverly" changes the recipient's name and contact information. 

An Effective Cover Letter is Not About You

The majority of cover letters are about the candidate and pretty much reiterate what is in the resume. It's as if the candidate is telling the employer, "If you're too lazy to read my resume or miss the important stuff, let me tell you what's in it."

An effective cover letter is not about you – it's about your understanding of the employer's needs and what knowledge, skills, and experience you have in fulfilling those needs.

The following are some tips on how to craft an effective cover letter:

1. Read the job announcement. I mean REALLY read it; not just the requirements, but also the description of the company and the job details/responsibilities.

2. Highlight all the key words in the announcement. These are mostly nouns that represent specific skills, expertise, and credentials. The following are some of the keywords included in a job announcement for a Procurement Specialist:

  • Acquisition
  • Production
  • Buying strategies
  • Purchase orders
  • On-time delivery
  • RFPs
  • ERP system
  • ISM certification

Be sure to include the appropriate keywords.

If you're applying online, you can almost be certain that your cover letter is going through an ATS. And, as is the case with the resume, the ATS is looking for specific keywords. Be sure to include the appropriate keywords in your cover letter.

3. Identify which keywords you can feature in your cover letter. Use one or two brief illustrations of how you applied the selected knowledge, skill, or credential to help a previous employer solve a problem/make money. Here is an example (note the keywords):

"When first hired to manage acquisition and procurement for J&J Manufacturing, they had some serious problems with production and on-time delivery. They were using a manual system to track purchase orders and RFPs were gathering dust on the previous manager's desk. Applying techniques I learned while pursing ISM certification, I immediately sat down with the management team to define and develop near and long-term buying strategies and put in place the company's first ERP system. Within the first year of taking the helm, on-time delivery increased 45%."

4. Promise similar results and request an interview.

"I'm prepared to deliver similar results for XYZ Company and would welcome an opportunity to interview for this position."

Ending a letter with "Thank you for your consideration" without specifically asking for the interview and stating when and how to reach you, may get you nothing more than "consideration."

My last bit of advice for personalizing and customizing the cover letter is this: Leave no stone unturned.

Do everything humanly possible to get the exact name of the recipient. Call the company and ask. Check the staff directory on the company website. Research the company on LinkedIn. Tap your professional network. Leave no stone unturned. No one likes mail addressed to "Dear Sir" or "To Whom it May Concern."

Yes, I know that some job announcements are "blind" leads and it is nearly impossible to know whose name to put on the letter. However, in most cases, a little extra effort on your part can really make the difference.

I need to sign off now – the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol is ringing my doorbell!

Thanks to Norine Dagliano / Careerealism / CAREEREALISM Media

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They Work Long Hours, But What About Results?

IT'S 5 p.m. at the office. Working fast, you've finished your tasks for the day and want to go home. But none of your colleagues have left yet, so you stay another hour or two, surfing the Web and reading your e-mails again, so you don't come off as a slacker.

It's an unfortunate reality that efficiency often goes unrewarded in the workplace. I had that feeling a lot when I was a partner in a Washington law firm. Because of my expertise, I could often answer a client's questions quickly, saving both of us time. But because my firm billed by the hour, as most law firms do, my efficiency worked against me.

From the law firm's perspective, billing by the hour has a certain appeal: it shifts risk from the firm to the client in case the work takes longer than expected. But from a client's perspective, it doesn't work so well. It gives lawyers an incentive to overstaff and to overresearch cases. And for me, hourly billing was a raw deal. I ran the risk of being underpaid because I answered questions too quickly and billed a smaller number of hours.

Firms that bill by the hour are not alone in emphasizing hours over results. For a study published most recently in 2010, three researchers, led by Kimberly D. Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis, interviewed 39 corporate managers about their perceptions of their employees. The managers viewed employees who were seen at the office during business hours as highly "dependable" and "reliable." Employees who came in over the weekend or stayed late in the evening were seen as "committed" and "dedicated" to their work.

One manager said: "So this one guy, he's in the room at every meeting. Lots of times he doesn't say anything, but he's there on time and people notice that. He definitely is seen as a hard-working and dependable guy." Another said: "Working on the weekends makes a very good impression. It sends a signal that you're contributing to your team and that you're putting in that extra commitment to get the work done."

The reactions of these managers are understandable remnants of the industrial age, harking back to the standardized nature of work on an assembly line. But a measurement system based on hours makes no sense for knowledge workers. Their contribution should be measured by the value they create through applying their ideas and skills.

By applying an industrial-age mind-set to 21st-century professionals, many organizations are undermining incentives for workers to be efficient. If employees need to stay late in order to curry favor with the boss, what motivation do they have to get work done during normal business hours? After all, they can put in the requisite "face time" whether they are surfing the Internet or analyzing customer data. It's no surprise, then, that so many professionals find it easy to procrastinate and hard to stay on a task.

There is an obvious solution here: Instead of counting the hours you work, judge your success by the results you produce. Did you clear a backlog of customer orders? Did you come up with a new idea to solve a tricky problem? Did you write a first draft of an article that is due next week? Clearly, these accomplishments — not the hours that you log — are what ultimately drive your organization's success.

Many of your results-oriented strategies will be specific to your job and your company, but here are a few general ways that professionals across all industries can improve their efficiency.

LIMIT MEETINGS Internal meetings can be a huge waste of time. A short meeting can be useful for discussing a controversial issue, but long meetings — beyond 60 to 90 minutes — are usually unproductive. Leaders often spend too much time reciting introductory material, and participants eventually stop paying attention.

Try very hard to avoid meetings that you suspect will be long and unproductive. When possible, politely decline meeting invitations from your peers by pointing to your impending deadlines. If that's not an option, make clear that you can stay for only the first 60 minutes, and will then have to deal with more pressing obligations. And be hesitant to call meetings yourself; you can deal with most issues through e-mail or a quick phone call.

If you're involved in calling or planning a necessary meeting, make sure it's productive. Create an agenda that organizes the meeting and keeps it moving briskly. Distribute that agenda, along with any advance materials, at least a day in advance. Appoint a "devil's advocate" for every meeting, whose job is to make sure that the potential negatives are discussed. At the end of the meeting, make sure that everyone agrees on the next steps, with each step assigned to one participant and with a specific deadline.

REDUCE READING You don't need to read the full text of everything you come across in the course of your work, even if it comes directly from the boss. Though reading a long article from cover to cover might make you feel productive, it might not be the best use of your time. Most likely, only a very small part of that article is vital to your work. Maybe you need to remember the big ideas, not the intricate details. Or maybe you need only to find one or two examples that illustrate a particular larger point. Once you start reading a text, make it a point to search for what's important, while skipping sections that are less relevant.

Of course, some materials call for you to become totally immersed in the details. If you are reading an article directly related to the company's newest blockbuster product, for instance, it probably makes sense to go over every word. But for less important tasks, this level of detail is often unnecessary. If you're not careful, these tasks can take over your entire schedule.

And avoid rereading your e-mails. I am a great believer in the OHIO principle: Only handle it once. When you read an e-mail, decide whether or not to reply to it, and, if you need to reply, do so right then and there. I have found that about 80 percent of all e-mails, whether internal or external, do not require a response. Don't let these extraneous communications clog your in-box and waste your time.

WRITE FASTER Even if you need to create A-plus work for a project, it needn't be perfect right off the bat. When some people sit down to write a long memo, they insist on perfecting each sentence before moving to the next one. They want to complete all the stages of the writing process at the same time — a most difficult task. In my experience, this leads to very slow writing.

A better approach separates the main steps in the writing process. First, compose an outline for what you are going to say, and in what order. Then write a rough draft, knowing it will be highly imperfect. Then go back over your work and revise as needed. This is the time to perfect the phrasing of those sentences.

In general, don't waste your time creating A-plus work when B-plus is good enough. Use the extra time to create A-plus work where it matters most.

AS you try these and other results-oriented strategies, you may well find yourself spending less time at the office — and that can make some bosses nervous. The traditional emphasis on face time, after all, is easy for managers: it takes much less effort to count hours than it does to measure results. That's why you may need to forge a new relationship with your boss.

You must earn your boss's trust that you can accomplish your work in less time. In part, you can do this by thinking about your organization and watching your boss. Ask yourself: What are the most important goals of your unit? What sort of pressure is your boss under — to expand globally, to introduce new products, to cut costs, or something else? How might the boss's personality and management style shape these considerations?

But it's not enough to think and observe. You need to communicate — often. Every week, write down a list of your assigned tasks — short-term assignments and long-term goals — and rank them by importance, from your perspective. Then ask your boss to weigh in on the list.

You and your boss should come to a consensus about the metrics for every project. If your boss doesn't establish any, suggest them yourself. Metrics can include both qualitative and quantitative results. They provide objective measures for judging final results — and move your boss away from the crutch of face time. And the process of establishing these metrics can help you and your boss clarify how best to accomplish a project.

Once the boss is confident that you know what to do and how to do it, show that you can consistently create high-quality results on high-priority projects. There's no particular secret here: you need to do your best to achieve the established goals. And remember that most projects run into potholes or even roadblocks on the way. Be quick to report problems to the boss and to suggest possible solutions, including a revision the project metrics themselves.

I KNOW that a change in focus from hours to results may be a challenge in some organizations. But your boss is likely to be receptive if you politely raise the question of productivity and show you're willing to be held accountable for results, rather than hours worked. You may also be able to do more work from home, if that's what you prefer.

Even in a culture oriented toward results, however, you sometimes will need to be physically present in the office to do your work. And some jobs absolutely depend on it. In almost all workplaces, colleagues need to get together to brainstorm ideas, solve tough problems or build communal bonds. But there's no reason for these interactions to take up large amounts of time.

By emphasizing results rather than hours, I'm able to get home at 7 p.m. for dinner with my family nearly every night — except when there are true emergencies. This has greatly enhanced my family life, and has given me a secondary benefit: a fruitful mental break. I've solved some of the thorniest problems in my home office at 10 p.m. — after a refreshing few hours chatting with my wife and children.

Focusing on results rather than hours will help you accomplish more at work and leave more time for the rest of your life. And don't be afraid to talk to your boss about these issues. To paraphrase the management guru Peter Drucker, although you don't have to like your boss, you have to manage him or her so you can have a successful career.

Robert C. Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of "Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours" (HarperCollins).

Thanks to Robert C. Pozen / NYTimes / The New York Times Company


Sunday, April 14, 2013

7 Resume Rules You Might Be Able To Break

When it comes to writing your resume and cover letter, how do you know where to find the best advice? Who do you turn to? There's a lot of differing opinions out there, and they're not all good!

Many articles online contain absolutes: "NEVER do this" or "ALWAYS do that." I'm always skeptical of that type of advice, because so much of what you'd write in your resume depends on your unique situation. Job seekers frequently ask what they should include or abandon on their resume based on what they've been told by friends or recruiters. My answer is usually the same, "Well, it depends."

This is exactly what was discussed at The National Resume Writers' Association (NRWA) conference last week — how there are really no absolutes in resume writing. There are too many things to consider with a client before saying never do something or always do another thing. Resume strategy is very complex, but there are things you can consider when confronted with a resume dilemma.

First and foremost, consider the audience. The same resume might look very different, depending on whether it's going to a recruiter, being emailed to a hiring manager, or being uploaded into an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Then, think from the employer's perspective. What you include in your resume shouldn't be determined by what you want to say as much as what the employer needs to hear to justify hiring you. You might think a certain accomplishment of yours is really great, but ask yourself whether the employer cares about that before you include it.

Finally, analyze the particulars of your strategy. Do you have a gap in employment you need to deal with? Are you transitioning from one field to another? Do you have weaknesses that you need to minimize? These things may influence how you apply the "rules" to your resume.

So, how did the experts at the NRWA conference respond to common resume "rules"?

1. Never use an objective statement. They are obsolete.

Most of the time, it's not recommended to label the 3-4 lines at the top of your resume with the term "objective." It is seen as outdated by many.

BUT, if you are a recent grad submitting your resume to your career center, you may need to. They often use templates, and you have to follow their format.

2. Your resume should only be one (or two) pages.

This rule is silly. I've seen recent grads with a great, accomplishment-laden, two-pager. I've seen execs with a two-page resume that clearly didn't do the job. Try hard to write as concisely as possible,

BUT tell your story. Most hiring managers don't mind something a little longer if the content is worth reading.

3. Always have a resume that is in reverse-chronological order.

Yes, establishing a timeline is important and hiring managers prefer not to see a functional resume.

BUT, I've written them, and with some networking, they can work. If you have barriers to or gaps in your employment, you might try it with some good networking. You can always change it if it's not helping you.

4. Never include hobbies or interests.

Most employers don't really care if you like knitting baby blankets.

BUT, if you are applying for a position at a daycare, it's relevant. You might want to put it in there.

5. Never use abbreviations or jargon.

You definitely don't want to overdo it.

BUT, some recruiters or hiring managers may search their ATS for acronyms or specific terms. So, you could be hurting yourself if you don't have some that are commonly used in your industry in your document.

6. Your resume should only go back 10-15 years.

This is probably true for most people.

BUT, if you are an executive, you probably need to demonstrate more expertise than only 10 years will allow. Ditto if you're returning to a previous career.

7. Never use personal pronouns in your resume.

You certainly don't want to use them if you are in a very conservative industry that expects conformity to the norm. Write your resume according to traditional resume grammar rules.

BUT, if you are using a quote in your document from a manager, sure. Or, if you are in a very creative field, I've seen it done successfully.

I'm sure this article will be controversial with folks who feel it's a cardinal sin to break any of the above rules. Before you freak about this, though, remember: resumes are as individual as the people they describe. A resume reflects our own talents and skills. Are there rules for how unique we all are, really?

What resume rules have YOU broken? I'd love to hear your story in the comments below.

Thanks to Kristin Johnson / Careerealism


How To Be The Type Of Employee Your Boss Wants To Promote

Are you the type of employee that your employer wants to promote?

I heard an interesting statistic on the radio awhile back that really sparked my interest. It stated that 90% of people who do this are promoted. Then they had listeners call in and try to guess what that one thing was. It was something I personally NEVER would have guessed.

Ninety percent of people who keep a candy bowl on their desks for people who visit their office or drop by are promoted. Can you believe it? Maybe you can… maybe you can't… but it got me to thinking. I think, as a generalization (I use this term loosely), employees can fall into one of two categories: wanters and doers. So are you a wanter or a doer?


Wanters are the employees that always want to know when they're going to get a raise, a promotion, or something that benefits them. They're the employees who never stay past 5 p.m. And you can set your watch by them; because at 5:00 p.m.—on the dot—they're clocking out, checking out, and going on about their day. Is there something amiss with this type of employee? Maybe, maybe not. I know there have been times in my life when I was this type of employee, and the reasons varied.


Doers are the employees you can count on to help bear your burden. They're right there beside you—making sure the job gets done—doing their part, and going above and beyond to help out wherever and whenever needed. They take the pressure off of their bosses. They're the type of employee that says, "Will you let me take care of that so that you can focus on something else?" These are the employees that employers want to promote.

Doers notice when a co-worker has something going on outside of work and could use someone to pitch in and help. This is tremendously helpful to the person the doer is helping; but it's not just the co-worker that takes notice—the employer does too. Does this mean you have to stay late every day, work overtime, and run yourself ragged to be promoted? No. But do you have the type of personality and work ethic that says "Hey, if something needs to get done, I'm here to help do it." Diligent and intentional people are promoted.

Thanks to Jessica Holbrook Hernandez / Careerealism