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Employers Desperate for Soft Skills, Critical Thinking … Job Hopping Common but Not Necessarily Wise … College Major Affects Earnings … 5 Habits Leaders Practice

Employers Desperate for Soft Skills, Critical Thinking

 Communicating clearly, collaborating well, taking initiative, and problem solving are in dangerously short supply, employers say. Candidates who can demonstrate these qualities will have a leg up on the competition.

nov2016_shutterstock_75231556As more industries move toward automation, the need for people who can do what machines cannot—chit-chat with customers, organize complex projects, work well in teams—has amped up.

The most valued trait, according to a LinkedIn analysis? The ability to communicate. Other qualities in demand include organization, punctuality, critical thinking, and adaptability. One employer summed up the situation thus: “I can teach somebody to slice and dice onions. I can teach somebody to cook a soup. But it’s hard to teach someone normal manners …  and work ethic.”

                                                                                           –From The Wall Street Journal

Job Hopping Common but Not Necessarily Wise

In today’s workplace, one-fourth of employees have held five or more jobs. However, a recent CareerBuilder study found that 43 percent of employers will not look at candidates with short job tenure.

Job hopping is viewed differently by various industries. For example, in the technology sector, frequent job changes are not deal killers. However, in more traditional fields and within firms having longer histories, job hopping is viewed negatively.

The survey also noted that younger employees have more latitude with job tenure. An older worker with a résumé showing frequent job changing can lead a future employer to worry about why the individual cannot seem to hold on to a job. The same cannot be said for younger employees.

In recent decades, staying at a job for a minimum of five years was the norm. However, today’s workers should stick out jobs—even those in which they are unhappy—for a minimum of two years, recruiters advise.

–From The Washington Post

 College Major Affects Earnings

oct_new_shutterstock_387199258The value of a college education in today’s workplace cannot be denied. However, new research illustrates that college students’ majors greatly affect their future earnings.

A report produced by Georgetown University’s Center on Education found that engineers—one of the STEM majors—top the list of earners. However, simply choosing a major in STEM fields alone does not guarantee an individual top-paying positions. Many fields require workers to earn graduate degrees to see a significant boost in earnings.

Likewise, the research showed a wide range in salary within typically high-paying fields. While many finance majors earn in excess of $100,000 annually, 25 percent bring in $50,000. –From Fast Company

While it’s true that college major may dictate future earnings, experts caution students to think hard about entering a field for which they do not possess the skill set required to succeed in those fields.

                                                                                             —From The Wall Street Journal

 5 Habits Leaders Practice

oct_shutterstock_342217274It’s commonly known that leaders are self-aware and admit their mistakes. Those who excel also practice these five habits:

  1. Keeping their eye on a goal. Whether playing golf or chatting during a business dinner, successful leaders always know what they want out of every situation.
  2. Looking to improve constantly. Leaders feel comfortable asking questions to get to the root of a problem, even if the problem comes as a result of something they’ve said or done.
  3. Taking care of themselves. From exercising to reading for pleasure to meditating, leaders understand that life is more than work.
  4. Showing generosity. Strong leaders give praise and recognition easily and cultivate their team members.
  5. Paying it forward. Peers, friends, family, community—leaders build connections everywhere they go.

–From Fast Company


Handling Political Questioning During Interviews…Emoji Invade Workplace Communication…To Stand Out, Shake Up Interview Q&A

Handling Political Questioning During Interviews

Although it’s illegal for an interviewer to ask a job seeker about politics, some just don’t care and ask away. If you find yourself in this awkward situation, follow these pointers.

  • Keep calm and stay neutral. If your interviewer begins to rant or tosses out a statement about a diceyoct_shutterstock_141853249 candidate or issue, nod but do not respond. Wait out the tirade. It’s likely the interviewer will return to more relevant issues.
  • Smile. It’s difficult for someone to act inappropriately if you are smiling. Doing so helps keep your private thoughts just that—private.
  • Don’t lie. Just as you shouldn’t overstate your qualifications on your résumé, do not feel pressure to lie about your political preferences. Simply avoid sharing your opinions by stating your feelings politely: “I’m not comfortable discussing this election.”

–From LiveCareer

 Emoji Invade Workplace Communication

Once verboten, emoji have creeped into acceptable workplace communication. From smiley faces to frowns, the icons are being used in work-related emails for serious purposes. According to recent research, one of the most common ways emoji are used is when supervisors include one of the characters to soften requests, making the sender seem less authoritative.

However, one business etiquette expert advises caution before inserting emoji into workplace communication. Jacqueline Whitmore suggests waiting for a higher-up to initiate the practice before inserting an emoji. She likewise cautions against using them with a client, who may find the images frivolous. Finally, Whitmore says to avoid any emoji expressing anger or romance. The best practice is to communicate with words or to stick to using a variation of the smiley face.

                                                                                    –from The Wall Street Journal

To Stand Out, Shake Up Interview Q&A

Instead of waiting until the end of an interview to bring up an important skill or experience, job candidates should break up the standard question and answer interplay during a job interview.

One expert suggests job seekers bring a list on paper (not a phone!) containing points the candidate wants to make during the interview. If one of the points has not been made as the interview is winding down, create a separate conversation that deviates from the standard interview script. A polite phrase such as, “Can I please tell you about a time I …” can provide the opening to present new pieces of information that otherwise may go unsaid. The interview is a one-shot chance—interviewees should make the most of it.

–From the Chicago Tribune


Relaxing Dress Codes Cause Confusion, Demonstrate Double Standard

It’s becoming more and more difficult to determine the proper look at work. A recent survey conducted by Robert Half International found that dressing up for work continues its path toward extinction. The finance industry, once known for its strict business formal dress code, is the latest to succumb.  J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. recently made business casual the norm. Still, old taboos die hard. A temp worker at PricewaterhouseCoopers was sent home a few months ago for refusing to wear heels.

So how should employees know what to wear to work?

From Twitter.com

From Twitter.com

For men, the answer is fairly straightforward. Business casual means slacks, shirt, and loafers. Business formal means a suit and tie. However, some say workplace dress codes single out women unfairly.

It’s not commonly known that U.S. for employers may legally enforce one dress code for women and another for men. This is evident even in the U.S. Senate. Recently Senator Mitch Holmes of Kansas sent out guidelines that read: “Conferees should be dressed in professional attire. For ladies, low-cut necklines and mini-skirts are inappropriate.” Nothing was said about what would constitute inappropriate wardrobe for men. (Sen. Holmes later was forced to issue a retraction.)

Currently, one of the most problematic areas surrounding workplace dress codes is the ambiguity over “grooming.” Grooming is a catch-all that can encompass anything from clean fingernails to jewelry choice to hair style and color. Even casual workplaces where informal clothes are the norm put a premium on grooming. For women, good grooming often translates to blown-out hair, make-up, and yes, even high heels. A perfect example of this double standard can be seen by examining the office wear of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg—grey T-shirt and jeans—and COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose high heels are nearly as iconic as Zuckerberg’s hoodies.

From Daily Mail

From Daily Mail

The nebulous directive to be well groomed is also linked to judgments about appearance. Attractive people earn more—that’s been established. However, a recent study conducted by sociologists at UC Irvine and the University of Chicago found that women who are considered attractive are deemed so entirely due to their grooming. Only half of men’s attractiveness was found to be related to their grooming.

The unsettled debate over workplace attire requires every new hire to use common sense. However, for professional women, what to wear—and how to exude professionalism—is particularly fraught.


  1. Should employees be able to express themselves through their clothing choices at work?
  2. Why do you think high heels play a part—some say a large part—of viewing a woman as a professional?
  3. In which professions might a dress code be appropriate?