Monday, November 9, 2015
Monday, October 19, 2015
You’re at a networking event, and things are going well. That is, until your conversation partner brings up a thorny political issue that’s been in the news lately. How do you respond within the bounds of business decorum while not seeming out of the loop?
As with just about everything in the business world, preparation is key.
Even during light hearted or friendly banter with business colleagues, what you say is critical to how you’re perceived. It pays to be well-versed in many topics, including current events. It’s also in your best interests to know what not to say. What are some steps you can take to prepare for the inevitable sticky subjects that come up in professional environments?
Peruse unbiased news sources
While knowing with certainty that a news source is objective can be challenging, spotting one with clear bias is much easier. If your preferred news source harps on members of one political party day in and day out, you can be fairly certain there’s bias of one sort or another there.
Although some might argue the point, you can feel fairly confident that most mainstream news sources will give you a relatively unfettered look at the facts. If you’re going to spend time with news sources that incorporate clear bias, be sure to add some on the other side of the aisle so you have a good perspective on all angles of an issue.
Don’t assume too much
In business settings, assuming you’re in like-minded company and saying too much about potentially controversial topics can hurt you. If you get overly animated during a discussion, some colleagues may judge you harshly even if their demeanor suggests they’re playing along. Therefore, you never know what damage you might be causing your reputation until it’s too late.
Don’t make assumptions about the person you’re talking to, even if she is nodding, seemingly in agreement. Some people nod simply to be polite or to acknowledge that someone else is speaking. You don’t want to be that person who goes on for too long and too vehemently about a topic.
Get around this tendency by having many subjects in your arsenal of conversation-starters. If a particular focus of discussion starts to seem uncomfortable or you realize you’ve gone too far, you can make a quick correction.
Know what topics to avoid
You know the subjects you’d stay away from when meeting your fiance’s parents for the first time? Avoid them with business colleagues as well. Enthusiastically joining a discussion of religion, politics or other potentially controversial topics likely will not work to your benefit.
What if someone else broaches a topic that could ruffle some feathers? Be prepared to make a noncommittal statement, like “That was really interesting, wasn’t it?” Then change the subject via all the current events knowledge you’ve gleaned from your unbiased news sources.
Get ready to redirect
Some people just don’t know how to let things go, and there will always be that individual who pushes you to take a definitive stand on a controversial topic. With a broad knowledge of many subjects, you’re more likely to generate a quick idea for redirecting the conversation in a way that doesn’t seem abrupt.
If your colleague simply won’t let an issue rest, you can smile as you say something like, “My mother told me never to talk about religion or politics!” Then you can gracefully change the subject.
Practice makes perfect
Most people aren’t born with consummate professional communication skills. Through talking to many people over time, you can hone your ability to present a knowledgeable yet reserved persona. If you feel that you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth, don’t worry too much; most people are too busy with their own affairs to notice anything except the most egregious offenses. Next time, just remember to take it down a notch.
Monday, October 5, 2015
In a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 77% of respondents reported that they used social media to check out potential applicants. With the majority of HR professionals accepting social media profiles, photos and posts as a way to evaluate a potential employee, applicants can’t overlook the possibilities – or the pitfalls of social media on the job search.
LinkedIn vs Job Boards
As employers become more social media savvy, LinkedIn has become more of a professional networking site; a recent report by Social Media Today reveals that about ¾ of all employers post jobs or look for new employees on the site. While job boards like Monster.com are still relevant, LinkedIn may offer more targeted opportunities. LinkedIn also has a useful feature that allows you to see who has viewed your profile; this comes in handy if you’ve recently applied for a position or are actively interviewing.
Unofficial Background Check
A quick perusal of your social media feeds, profiles and posts could serve as an unofficial background check or social proof of your identity and personal brand. Unless your Twitter feed is set to private, a prospective employer can view all of your past Tweets, photos and your current profile.
If you are working hard to build your image as a professional all week, then posting half naked selfies on Twitter or Instagram on the weekend, you may end up damaging your career opportunities in a big way. Set your accounts to private, or post very selectively if you are concerned about the impact your social media posting will have on your hireability.
Searchable in a Variety of Ways
Your private accounts may not be as private as you think. Site terms are updated all the time, and if you miss an update, you could be exposing your personal life to anyone who wants to take a look, including potential employers.
Facebook recently offered users a way to search for friends using a mobile number. You may have even been prompted to enter your number or confirm it on Facebook; as of fall 2015, anyone with your phone number can actually view your Facebook profile, even if you have not accepted a friend request. You can get around this by modifying your privacy settings, but the key takeaway is that your profiles and posts on any site are not as protected or private as you thought.
Social Media Posts Stay Forever
If you are actively looking for a new position or want to make sure your personal brand is the best it can be, it may be worth going post diving to make sure even your older entries are presenting the image you want. Your posts don’t just disappear; they simply move further down on your timeline and are still searchable.
It is worth reviewing your older posts to make sure they represent the image you want to project when you are actively looking for work or hoping to be considered for a new position. You may not even remember making a post or adding an image that an employer might see as inappropriate or troubling, but it will still show up on your page for anyone willing to look.
Your social medial profiles and posts can work for you or against you. Used the right way, your social media network can help you make connections and build your brand; used poorly and your posts and profiles could cost you a great opportunity.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
I have been looking for a double strand of long pearls to add to my jewelry collection for some time now. When I say that, I don’t mean that I’ve spent countless hours searching high and low. It’s more like when I’m getting dressed I think, “you know what would be great with this?” and then I continue my over-scheduled day. When I stumbled upon this St. John Collection Signature Faux Pearl Necklace, I was delighted.
I like the idea of the long, double strand of pearls for a few reasons. First, it gives you visual length and keeps the line of your outfit fluid. Second, it provides movement, which can balance out a look that leans more conservative while maintaining the looks integrity. Finally, I love the contrast of conservative pearls with jeans and a blazer – one of the ways I would wear these.
I would have never considered looking at St. John Collection for costume jewelry, but it makes sense. This strand of pearls feel substantial and sturdy, and the ivory color looks realistic. Under $200 for a piece of costume jewelry that will last for years to come would be a great buy given your price per wear.
If you tend to wear high neckline styles, like turtlenecks or boat necks, the line of the necklace will balance them perfectly. It would also sit beautifully on a silk blouse for an added touch of dimension. Finally, you could layer this on a simple white tee and throw on a blazer for an elegant weekend look.
Looking for something less expensive? Off Fifth has a double strand for $20. I have purchased a few piece of costume jewelry from Off Fifth. The quality is what you would expect for the price point; however, it’s a great way to try a look you never before considered.
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