Category Archives: 1. The Scoop

Harvard Prof Says Hard Work Isn’t Enough… Cover Letter No-Nos… Making Slide Presentations Short and Effective

Harvard Prof Says Hard Work Isn’t Enough

Hard work alone is not always enough to succeed in the workplace, according to new research published by Harvard professor Laura Huang. Huang says that many times racial stereotypes, gender inequity, and just plain unfairness surpass doing a job well.

In her new book, Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage, Huang identifies tips to further careers.

  • Know your strengths. Be aware of what separates you from others and adds value to an organization. Define your “circle of competence” and focus on what you do best.
  • Understand your limits. Know what you cannot do, but do not let those constraints define you. Focus instead on what makes you unique.
  • Surprise skeptics. The best way to overcome skepticism is to find commonalities, which Huang labels “points of connection,” and relate these shared ideas or experiences in a way that elicits a positive response: think storytelling.
  • Control how others perceive you. Be mindful of how others see you. If they have the wrong impression, guide them away from those incorrect notions by leading them to the real you.

From Harvard Business School

Cover Letter No-Nos

Since cover letters are critical for hirers to learn more about an applicant, experts suggest avoiding the following standardized phrases to avoid turning readers off.

To Whom It May Concern. The best choice is to address a cover letter to a decision-maker, but if a specific individual is impossible to locate, write “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Hope to hear from you soon. “Hope” suggests the possibility of not hearing from the hirer. Instead write “I look forward to speaking to you soon about the job opportunity.” 

I believe, I think. These phrases are unnecessary; why else would you write what follows? Write assertively, “I am the best fit for the position because of X, Y, and Z.”

Finally, a cover letter should never describe how a particular job will help the applicant or that the job seeker needs the job. No company is in business to help employees’ careers. Rather, the cover letter should explain how the applicants’ skill set will help the firm.


Making Slide Presentations Short and Effective

 Research has shown that people simply cannot listen and read slides at the same time, making long talks accompanied by wordy slides ineffective. However, a company with an odd name—PechaKucha, Japanese for chit chat—offers an antidote to long, text-heavy PowerPoint presentations.

Developed in Japan by two European architects some 15 years ago, PechaKucha (pronounced pe-chok-cha) was originally a slideshare presentation format. PechaKucha the company named itself after that format and was formed in 2018.

PechaKucha presentations use the 20×20 formula, a highly efficient narrative format that recognizes audience’s limitations and that has gained popularity over the last decade. It allows speakers no more than 20 slides that advance every 20 seconds, making the presentation last no more than six minutes and 40 seconds, similar to a YouTube slide show. The platform is used by students and businesses alike to drive a point home succinctly and effectively by cutting the copy and keeping the material snappy.

The app doesn’t offer users many options, which helps keep presentations short and more interesting. Slides may only contain images and a few words of text.




Ask Questions and Make Connections… Build a Network Beyond Peers… Robot-Proofing Résumés

Ask Questions and Make Connections

People who ask questions and keep a conversation moving are better liked and succeed more than those who don’t, according to research from Harvard.

Follow-up questions—comments that indicate surprise or interest—were shown to be the most effective way to indicate attentiveness and keep a conversation from ending. Yet research has also shown that many people are hesitant to ask questions, fearing that doing so will make them appear rude, intrusive, or incompetent.

That reluctance is the conversation death knell, and, the researchers found, often marks the end of a job interview. Why? Because when job candidates ask questions, they show high emotional intelligence and showcase what they can contribute to the organization.

From Harvard Business Review

Build a Network Beyond Peers

Developing a plan to build a network that goes beyond the cadre of associates a job seeker regularly sees requires looking at one’s world from a 360-degree perspective. Experts suggest the following steps:

Tapping every aspect of daily life. People who go to a gym can start talking to the person on the Peloton next to them. Striking up a conversation with neighbors or at a place of worship can also lead to connections.

Joining groups. Professional organizations are tailor made for networking and offer opportunities to become involved in the group’s activities.

Harnessing the power of LinkedIn. Using first, second, and third-degree connections has become one of the best ways to grow a network.


Robot-Proofing Résumés

Applicant-screening systems are notorious for overlooking the résumés of young job seekers. Put into place to help make the selection of candidates less biased, the algorithms frequently eliminate candidates due to subtle misinterpretations of data, all the while the job seekers may not even realize they are being ignored by strings of code.

However, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal suggests ways to get around these robotic nay-sayers.

  1. Integrate specific results-oriented statements into résumé
  2. Choose words from the job description to weave into résumé
  3. Include keywords for technical and interpersonal skills.
  4. Quantify results with statistics.
  5. Use a Word document to upload your résuméinstead of a PDF.
  6. Try to find a contact within the organization to recommend you.

From The Wall Street Journal

Hearing Negative Feedback is Good… Employers Changing Job Post Language… Walking the Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance

Hearing Negative Feedback is Good

While no one enjoys being criticized, negative feedback can lead to growth. Below are some dos and don’ts to consider when receiving negative feedback.

  • Do listen politely and respectfully to the feedback, knowing that it may be just as hard for a supervisor to dole out negative input as it is for the receiver to hear it. Thank the boss for the information.
  • Don’t react emotionally.
  • Do allow some time to pass to evaluate the feedback objectively.
  • Don’t spiral into depression by remembering that negative feedback is part of working.
  • Do problem-solve ways to improve your performance. Then move on.


Employers Changing Job Post Language

In an effort to attract a broader range of applicants, many companies are changing the way they reach out to new hires by writing more specific job posts. Some firms provide detailed salary ranges; others describe a typical week on the job. More are even bringing up the negatives of a position, such as having to deal with lots of e-mails or being on-call for many hours.

These changes have come about due to widespread dissatisfaction from both candidates and hiring managers alike over poorly worded job postings. Candidates have complained that many job specs are so vague that a potential candidate cannot self-select out. Recruiters admit frustration about their own non-specific wording, which doesn’t weed out unqualified applicants.

In an effort to attract more diverse and qualified applicants, companies have become more tuned in to how certain language in a job description can turn away or encourage applicants. For example, the terms “digital natives” or “passion for social media” in a job spec can discourage older applicants from applying. On the other hand, using gender neutral language tends to attract more qualified female applicants.

Experts claim that badly written, unspecific job postings failing to explain how a role fits into a company just won’t work in an economy that is vying for diverse and qualified new-hires.

From The Wall  Street Journal

Walking the Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance

Job candidates who exude confidence appeal to hiring managers. In fact, 42 percent of HR professionals in a recent study considered confidence one of the most desirable traits in new-hires. However, a whopping 72 percent of respondents to the survey rated over-confidence as “the biggest personality turnoff” during hiring interviews.

So how to walk the fine line between confidence and arrogance? Here are some ways to avoid appearing overconfident in an interview.

  1. Avoid sweeping general statements. Don’t describe your skills in general terms. Saying “I was born to sell!” or “I can sell anything!” without backing up such a statement with specifics makes you sound egotistical. Instead, use a quantifiable statistic: “I was named most improved new salesperson after only two months and increased my close rate by 30 percent.”
  2. Don’t stretch the truth. If you were part of a team that worked on a proposal, don’t claim full credit. Rather, explain your role and how you contributed to the effort.
  3. Demonstrate selfawareness. Show you know yourself by giving an example of how you are working on improving a trait. Everyone has weaknesses, so don’t deny having any.