The Hiring Process
Conduct a social media audit. Review everything that you and others have posted, going back years. Take down posts that reflect poorly on you, and ask others to do the same. Remove photos of drinking, drug use, offensive activities or gestures, or inappropriate clothing. Remove posts that include profanity, intolerant views, or unethical behavior, and those of a political, religious, or very personal nature.
Be judicious with future posts. Refrain from putting anything online that could hurt your job prospects in the future.
Block or remove friends and connections, if necessary. Do not allow others’ posts to possibly reflect negatively upon you.
The Generational Challenge
Master the use of technology for job searches and interviews.
Learn the interview requirements of a particular job or field.
Develop and nurture networks.
Stay organized and follow up meticulously
The Right Brand
Take seriously all feedback received. Make personal improvements with an eye toward the future.
Determine how current skills align with future job requirements. Learn necessary skills for a new job before pursuing it. Find mentors to lend support and give advice.
Realize rebranding takes time. Be persistent and confident. Eventually, others will change their minds about you and your capabilities.
The Right Appearance
Cleanliness. Keep everything clean, including body, hair, clothing, nails, breath, and teeth. Keep a toothbrush and breath mints on hand for unexpected meetings.
Grooming. Style hair in an acceptable fashion for your work environment. Avoid extreme colors and cuts unless that defines your company culture. Keep facial hair neat and trimmed. Wet hair is unprofessional, ear and nose hair are unsightly. With perfume, less is more.
Quality. Fabric, stitching, pattern, color, buttonholes, and linings all give clues about the quality of a garment. Make sure they are top-notch.
Cost. Employ the “cost per wearing method” before buying anything. A seemingly expensive item could cost just dollars per wearing.
Fit and condition. Clothes need to fit well and be in good repair. Do not wear ripped, stained, frayed, or threadbare items or those that have missing buttons or holes.
Taste. Avoid plunging necklines, garish colors, clanging bracelets, visible underwear, facial bolts, and conspicuous tattoos unless, of course, such styles define your workplace.
Arrive early and prepared. Introduce yourself to other attendees and take advantage of this golden opportunity to “work the room.” Be sure to comply with instructions given by the meeting chair about seating, breaks, participation, and electronic device use.
Respect others’ opinions. Do not interrupt, argue, or hold side conversations.
Display attentive body language. Do not slouch, cross your arms, roll your eyes, look out the window, frown, shake your head, yawn, doze off, or doodle.
Stay in your seat. If you think there is a chance an emergency might arise, such as a call about a sick child or expectant wife, ask the meeting chair beforehand if it would be all right for you to keep your phone on for this reason only. But even then, keep it out of view and silent.
Take notes on a laptop or tablet if allowed. But do not get caught doing anything extracurricular.
The Open Office
Keep volume low. This applies to conversations, music, and electronic devices. Use earphones, mute devices, and conduct speakerphone conversations and meetings in spaces designed for these purposes.
Don’t eat at your desk. Pungent foods, such as Indian or Mexican food, or reheated fish, are not welcomed aromas for many. If you do eat at your desk, dispose of food wrappers in appropriate receptacles.
Be aware of all olfactory issues. Fragrance, worn gym clothing, and bare feet can be unpleasant smelling to those nearby.
Keep décor tasteful. Tasteful photos, appropriate objet d’art, quality desk accessories, and small plants are fine. Do not display items that could be considered offensive or controversial. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t display it!
Respect coworkers’ privacy. Do not enter cubicles unless invited, read others’ computer screens, touch others’ belongings, help yourself to coworkers’ candy or snacks, purposely listen in on conversations, or comment on anything overheard.
The New Schedules
Reserve only needed time and space. Cancel reservations you no longer need or can’t use. Tying up space unnecessarily may impact your ability to secure future reservations.
Introduce yourself. Smile and offer a friendly greeting to those sitting nearby, but take care not to interrupt them if they are obviously busy or concentrating on work.
Keep the space clean. Sanitize all surfaces and equipment with disinfectant wipes upon arriving and departing. Take trash with you when you vacate.
Leave the space as you found it. Store personal items in desk drawers while using the space, and make sure to take them with you when you leave. Do not rearrange or remove furnishings.
The New Realities
Everything is different on the other side of “the glass door.” Your agility in adjusting to a new corporate culture will determine your chances for success and happiness within it.
Know that everyday manners matter more than anything else. Good manners define your character and brand. Pay careful attention to the little things. They are huge.
Evolve with and embrace new workspaces. Or start your own.
Respect your colleagues’ work arrangements, hours, and time zones. Consider these before scheduling meetings or otherwise attempting to engage with them.
Know that workplace realities mean that our brands are always on display. Always!
If someone doesn’t want to talk, she will look away, frown, sigh, cross her arms, offer a quick furtive smile, keep her eyes on her device, or put up a physical barrier.
If someone is bored, he will look around the room, check his phone, fidget, slouch, stand at an angle, avoid eye contact, sigh, roll his eyes, or have a vacant look.
If someone is angry, she will narrow her eyes, lower her chin, purse her lips, raise a corner of her mouth, place her hands on her hips, glare, or point or wag a finger.
The Eyes Have It
Keep eyes up. Do not look at other parts of the body. Gazes should be reflective of professional, not personal or intimate, relationships.
Make direct eye contact. Hold someone’s eyes for about five to seven seconds in conversation, look away for a few seconds, and then look back. He will know you are engaged without feeling under a microscope. If direct eye contact feels intimidating, look at the bridge of someone’s nose or lower forehead.
Aim for eye contact 50 percent of the time. It can be more when listening and less when speaking. Too much eye contact comes across as aggressive and too little, timid.
Practice, practice, practice! Start with comfortable relationships, gradually moving on to acquaintances, passersby, cashiers, and wait staff. TV newscasters and even pets provide great opportunities to become more comfortable in making eye contact.
The Power of Speech
Speak louder. Think about what you want to say before you say it! Breathe from the diaphragm, and speak at an even, measured pace. Practice by reading aloud, and ask for feedback. Tune in to nonverbal cues. If others appear to be straining to hear, raise your voice, but do not shout.
Speak more softly. Record yourself in conversation to determine your volume relative to others. Practice speaking more quietly. Strive for warmth and resonance in your voice. Speak less. Use nonverbal cues to relay your message instead of words alone.
Slow down your pace. Enunciate each syllable. Have a clear message in mind, and speak in full sentences. Insert pauses, or “commas,” into your speech. Control emotions.
Speed up your pace. Read aloud and time yourself to get to a pace of about 150 words per minute. Introduce emotion into your voice.
Speak succinctly. Employ an economy of words, and be as concise as possible. Make sure conversations are not sermons. Use appropriate vocabulary, not fancy words.
The Good Listener
Remove distractions. Give the person you are listening to your undivided attention. Turn away from your computer screen. Mute your phone. Look directly at the person speaking. And perhaps take the conversation to a private room to minimize interruptions.
Be receptive. Don’t judge what is being said, finish sentences, supply words, change the subject, or commandeer the conversation.
Provide feedback and convey empathy. Emotionally connect with the person you are listening to and let them know you are interested and understand. Offer conversational “door openers” such as “That’s interesting, please go on” or “I’m glad you said that!” Tune in to their emotions by saying, “That sounds exciting!” (Or frustrating, confusing, overwhelming, etc.) Use nonverbal cues: nods, smiles, furrowed brows, or looks of surprise or delight.
Maintain discretion. Loose lips sink more than ships. They can sink your business, your career, and your finances. They can even land you in jail. Gossip breeds ill will, poor morale, lost productivity, and permanently damaged relationships. Betray a confidence and people will see you as untrustworthy, unprofessional, insecure, or just plain mean. Conversely, the person who demonstrates she can be trusted wins friends and allies and gains a reputation as someone who is mature and professional.
Answer professionally and enthusiastically, ideally by the second ring. Offer a greeting, “Hello” or “Good morning,” followed by the company or department name and your full name. Put a smile in your voice. If callers identify themselves, refer to them by their name and add “Mr.” or “Ms.” Use first names only if invited.
Use good grammar, speak clearly, listen well, and give the call your undivided attention. Others will know if you are reading, typing, or otherwise distracted. Do not eat, drink, or chew gum while on the call. Be aware of background noises.
Ask permission before placing someone on hold, and wait for an answer. If it is a lengthy hold, come back within a minute to update the caller on the status of your behind-the-scenes efforts.
Show politeness, patience, and respect unfailingly, regardless of the caller’s demeanor. A call is often precipitated by a problem. If a caller is upset, let him speak. Apologize for his inconvenience. This does not mean you are necessarily accepting responsibility for the problem, but simply acknowledging he is upset. Often, this is all that is needed to diffuse emotion and get the conversation on a positive track.
Treat every call as important. Sometimes you won’t know until after the fact just how important a call or caller was.
Social media has changed the world. Engage in ways that favorably burnish your brand, and you will be considered credible, competent, and current. Be consistent on platforms.
Digital footprints are forever. Personal reputations and company brands are at risk through social media misuse. Take precautions to mitigate these risks.
Social media benefits are incalculable. It’s a matter of making the decision to join the online conversation.
Remember, your bread plate is to the left of your plate, and your drinks are to the right. The acronym BMW, for bread, meal, and water, is a great way to remember this.
Cut no more than one or two bites of food at a time. Take small bites and swallow any food in your mouth before taking a sip of a drink. Chew with your mouth closed. Once food is on your utensil, put it immediately into your mouth.
￼ Check coats and umbrellas when possible. Purses, briefcases, papers, eyeglasses, mobile phones, and medication should be kept off of tables.
￼ Avoid food choices that may be problematic to eat. Save lobster, ribs, and tacos for dining with friends and family. Familiarize yourself with the ways in which to eat various foods.
￼ Pay with a credit card or a standing account. Do not pay with cash.
The Future Workplace
Take responsibility for your future career. Know that you are now responsible for creating and managing your career, where once employers dictated career paths and next-step promotions.
Commit to continued career development. Take advantage of free company training or invest in training at your expense and time. Stay current on industry trends and changes, follow thought leaders, and nurture your professional network. You could repackage your skills as a consultant, trainer, or freelancer.
Hone your interpersonal and technical skills. Understand that these are the nonnegotiable assets for success now and in the future.
Consider a new career. Know what you like and what you are good at—then prepare to do it. The future holds great opportunity for creative boutique businesses.