Monthly Archives: January 2016

Tips for Telephone Interviews…Employers Scoff at Online Classes…Don’t Sleep on Big Decisions

Tips for Telephone Interviews

Many job seekers dread phone interviews, and who can blame them? Face-to-face interviews are difficult enough, but trying to sound enthusiastic and coherent over a phone line is challenging. These tips can help make the best out of a difficult situation.

  1. Conduct trial runs. Practice to sound confident and well prepared.
  1. Be ready to answer common questions. Rehearse answers to typical interview questions. Lists of such questions are easily found online.shutterstock_253848799 [Converted]_Feb 2016
  1. Answer with enthusiasm. Be ready to speak with the interviewer and respond with a remark that demonstrates a positive attitude.
  1. Offer to come to the office. If the office is nearby, candidates with hard-to-understand accents or who know they will perform poorly on the phone should request an in-person interview. At worst, doing so conveys enthusiasm for the position.
  1. Ask for advice. When the recruiter initially sets up the phone interview, ask for pointers.

–From Payscale.com

Employers Scoff at Online Classes

Taking an online course to broaden technological skills or completing a certificate from a coding boot camp are not sure-fire pathways to a job. Even if a firm is eager to hire employees with technical and digital skills, courses offered by providers such as Lynda.com and Udemy and massive open online courses (MOOCs) given by edX and Coursera don’t hold much sway with hiring managers.

The reason? These upstarts are not trusted or recognized the way degrees from colleges and universities are. The director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce explains that although firms need workers with technological skills, providers of the new online classes and tutorials have not yet developed consistent standards.

The solution, however, is on the way. Academic researchers and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation are working together to create standards for online credentials. Many recruiters say that until such specifications are solidified, students who elect to forego traditional university or college courses online may be wasting their time and money.

–From the Wall Street Journal

Don’t Sleep on Big Decisions

We’ve all heard the advice to “sleep on it” when we’re about to make a big decision. However, Harvard Business School researchers have found that the time worn recommendation is actually counter productive.

Research has long shown that a good night’s sleep helps make people more attentive, creative, and rational. Previous research has also shown that sleep benefits memory by stabilizing information learned during the day. The current experiment focused on how sleep might aid decision-making as well as memory.

The study, Should You Sleep On It? The Effects of Sleep on Subjective Preference-Based Choice, found that sleep does not boost peoples’ confidence about their ability to make good decisions.

The participants who slept on a decision ended up remembering more positive facts about their upcoming decision than negative ones. Consequently, the participants felt less sure about their decision rather than more. The researchers concluded that decisions should be made before sleeping on them.

–From the Harvard Business Review


What are your thoughts? Chime in!

Using Dashes Correctly

[Instructors: Download PDFs of the exercise and solutions at the end of this post.]

The English language provides three sizes of the dash, each a graphic symbol used for a specific punctuation purpose.

A hyphen (-) is used to combine a compound modifier before a noun (five-year strategic plan) and to separate numbers (805-555-1212).

The en-dash (–) is the width of the typesetter’s “n” and is used to replace the word “through” (sizes 4–12).

The em-dash (—), so named because the dash is the width of the typesetter’s “m,” is used to alert the reader that the words following it are important. For example, the em-dash is often used to create a strong break within a sentence in lieu of commas, thus:

EXAMPLE                  The winners—six of whom came from France—credited their                                                      country’s health policy in their acceptance speech.

The em-dash can also be used to set off and emphasize the words that follow it.

EXAMPLE                  All entrants to the business plan competition were engineering                                                                        majors—except for the winning team.

In some cases, the em-dash is used instead of a semicolon or a period to emphasize the following independent clause .

EXAMPLE                  This potential threat is not only happening behind closed doors—no one                                                      even knows to whom the doors belong.

Your task. Identify which dash is correct for each of the following. Some sentences may require more than one type of dash.

  1. Candidates who received scores of 10 through 15 will be called back for an interview.
  1. These networks, already an established cost management strategy, also help members comply.
  1. Providers such as Vanguard and Fidelity already offer online assistance. Wells Fargo was forced to at least meet them.
  1. Those interested in obtaining a quote should call 8005553477.
  1. The key to accomplishing diversity is to seek diverse candidates, which may entail recruiting where more diverse candidates are likely to be found.
  1. Some companies are using in network providers to keep a cap on cost increases.
  1. Only two firms met or exceeded expectations, Charles Schwab and Fidelity, and those firms were also the most highly rated by consumers.
  1. The double digit increases in drug costs have insurers seeking new ways to keep policies affordable; unfortunately, those increases result in higher deductibles.
  1. Special low cost coverage is being offered for those aged 18 through 30.
  1. The survey was released to HR professionals in late September, just weeks before enrollment season began in earnest.
  1. One on one advice can be expensive, especially for participants with low existing balances.
  1. For a variety of reasons, most of them legal, the retirement policies are full of jargon.

Key to Using Dashes Correctly

  1. Candidates who received scores of 10–15 will be called back for an interview. [Use the en-dash to replace through.]
  1. These networks—already an established cost management strategy—also help members comply. [Use an em-dash to create a strong break within a sentence.]
  1. Providers such as Vanguard and Fidelity offer online assistance—Wells Fargo was forced to at least meet them. [Use an em-dash instead of a semicolon or a period to emphasize the independent clause that follows it.]
  1. Those interested in obtaining a quote should call 800-555-3477. [Use a hyphen to separate numbers.]
  1. The key to accomplishing diversity is to seek diverse candidates—which may entail recruiting where more diverse candidates are likely to be found. [Use an em-dash to emphasize the words that follow it.]
  1. Some companies are using in-network providers to keep a cap on cost increases. [Use a hyphen between compound modifiers of a noun.]
  1. Only two companies met or exceeded expectations—Charles Schwab and Fidelity—and those firms were also the most highly rated by consumers. [Use an em-dash to create a strong sentence break.]
  1. The double-digit increases in drug costs have insurers seeking new ways to keep policies affordable—unfortunately, those increases result in higher deductibles. [Use a hyphen between compound modifiers of a noun. Use an em-dash instead of a semicolon or a period to place emphasis on the independent clause that follows it.]
  1. Special low-cost coverage is being offered for those aged 18–30. [Use a hyphen between compound modifiers of a noun. Use the en-dash to replace through.]
  1. The survey was released to HR professionals in late September—just weeks before enrollment season began in earnest. [Use an em-dash to emphasize words that follow it.]
  1. One-on-one advice can be expensive—especially for participants with low existing balances. [Use a hyphen between compound modifiers of a noun. Use an em-dash to emphasize the words that follow it.]
  1. For a variety of reasons—most of them legal—the retirement policies are full of jargon. [Use an em-dash to create a strong sentence break.]

Using Dashes Correctly

Key to Using Dashes Correctly

 

 

 

The Firm 40—A Radical Workplace Idea

In a world where 60- or even 80-hour workweeks are not uncommon, some firms are returning to the good old days of “nine to five.”shutterstock_276536882 - JAN2016

The “firm 40” is a practice in which employees focus on work exclusively when at the office—but when it’s quitting time, the job stays at the office. After-hours work is actually forbidden. Employees give their employers an honest 40 hours per week without checking social media or conducting Internet shopping, and the rest of the week is theirs. The results, adherents say, is more efficient and productive workers.

Such a set-up is increasingly rare in a world where many workers never fully leave work as a result of technology. While “work-life integration” has allowed employees to leave work to watch the kids’ soccer game as long as the work gets done on time, it also means that employees are tethered to their smart phones well into the night.

The benefits of the 40-hour workweek can be far-reaching. It allows workers to recover from stressful days. It can be a big draw to employees looking for life-work balance. In fact, some recruiters even advertise “an actual 40-hour workweek” as incentive to apply. Some employees like the idea so much they are willing to take a pay cut.

However, some firms that subscribe to the Firm 40 have had to penalize employees who cannot stick to the rule, and in rare cases have actually fired employees for overworking.

Discussion questions

  1. Would you be attracted to a job that boasted a 40-hour workweek even if you had to vow to not use social media, shop online, or conduct other non-work related activities?
  1. Why would employers want their staffs to work fewer hours?
  1. What reasons might employers have to allow their staffs to engage in personal activities during the workday?

–From The Wall Street Journal