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Trouble connecting with the boss?

BossCall it what you will — a Hallmark holiday, the most wonderful day of the year, Bosses Day-Shmosses Day –  but this Friday is National Boss Day, the day we are encouraged to show our bosses how much we appreciate them.

Love him or hate him, he’s still your boss and he still signs off on the paychecks, gives you your review and recommends you for new projects or a promotion. While you don’t need to be best friends with your boss, the two of you still need to have a civil working relationship.

Today, we have  a guest post from behavior strategist and performance management coach Joe Takash, the author of the newly released “Results Through Relationships: Building Trust, Performance and Profit Through People.”  Takash tells us the key to a great boss/employee relationship takes just simple steps. Here’s how:

The 5 Steps to Connecting With Your Boss

By Joe Takash

Managing Up
1. The rare act of transparent communication with one’s professional superior or superiors to get needs met, thoughts heard and contribute to the success of boss, team and organization.
2. Courageous upward leadership with the intent to establish trusting partnerships and own one’s results.
Interns and entry-level employees, even employees at high levels, don’t apply the tips for effectively connecting because they’re never provided a blueprint early on in their career. Practicing these diligently can expedite career opportunities and differentiate you in an economy that is in need of high-flyers more than ever.
1.  Choose Good Timing
Discover the best times in which to approach your boss by simply asking, “when are the best times to meet with you if I have questions?” This simply inquiry can build credibility because of the awareness and consideration of their busy schedule. An added benefit is that when you meet with them, you’re likely to have a more focused, less distracted listener.
2.  Prepare and Plan
Practice your approach vs. just winging it so you can succinctly explain up front why you’re there and what you need from them. WARNING: Be solution-focused! Bosses want to know what you have thought of or would suggest about the inquiries you have. This is a crucial component for demonstrating leadership and initiative.
3.  Align Understanding
If your boss does not state his or her expectations or ask about yours, don’t waste energy griping to others about it. Instead, rise above and them to be clear about what they need from you. Requesting the primary duties you should be focusing on or discovering the qualities that make up the ideal professional in your position not only impresses them, but provides you with a roadmap for success.
4.  Follow-up/Follow-through
One of the biggest barriers for positive change is lack of accountability. In managing upward, you can hold yourself and boss accountable by agreeing on times/dates to follow-up at the conclusion of each meeting or communication exchange. Your boss may think, “These behaviors would be great in a client services or sales position” which may be a promotion you earn twice as fast as you may have.
5.  Own Your Results
A young lady named Karen once approached me after a keynote presentation I delivered to her company. With a pleasant, apprehensive smile, she said: “Joe, I really believe I’m equipped to be our marketing manager. I have experience, passion and knowledge, but I don’t know what to say to my boss. I was wondering if you have advice.” I said, “Karen, I have for you a magic formula and it can be described with one word: ASK!” I politely explained to her that the biggest success stopper is that cynical voice within each of us. Owning your results doesn’t mean you won’t experience fear as you navigate your career, it’s the commitment to courageously ask for what you want and be prepared to state why and how all will benefit. 

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Nanostructured Coatings Enhance Resistance of Surfaces against Corrosion

The researchers at Tarbiat Modares University succeeded in increasing the resistance of steel to corrosion using nanometric layers.


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When you feel like giving up

help2Apparently my brain is taking a Columbus Day holiday even though I must physically be in my cube at work today. Despite surfing the Web and Twitter for inspiration and inhaling about 50 caramel candy corn (that works doesn’t it?), a bad case of writer’s block has been plaguing me all day.

This got me thinking about when job seekers hit mental blocks, and their drive and motivation is shattered. With 6.3 job seekers competing for every available job and about 5 million people classified as long-term unemployed it’s not surprising that a lot of discouraged and even giving up.

Career consultant Duncan Mathison, co-author of “Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times are Tough,” tells discouraged job seekers to “Never give up; never give in.” He are his five tips for staying motivated during a long job search:

1.       Prepare for an extended search. When the job market shrinks, it takes longer to land a job.  Adjust your finances and your expectations now to extend your staying power. Stopping the search until the economy improves is like the farmer who will go hungry at harvest because they didn’t plant seeds in the spring.  Do not give up. Keep planting those seeds.

2.      Don’t waste your time on long-shots. If you are only applying to posted jobs and those seem far and few between, your tendency is to cast a wider net by applying outside your geographic area or outside of your expertise (“I could do that job!”). This is a dead-end strategy and you will only face more painful rejection and depressing stories of 500 applicants to 1 job. When it comes to job postings: focus, focus, focus.

3.      The right job for you is out there – it just won’t be advertised. Employers cut recruiting budgets when times are tight.  Instead hiring managers use less expensive and informal word of mouth strategies. As a result a higher percentage of available positions are in the “hidden job market”.  Job seekers must significantly expand the quality and quantity of their networking efforts to find unpublished jobs.

4.      Leave the resume at home. The secret to good networking is to help your network help you. Instead of a resume, give people in your network (everyone you know) a list of 50-75 employers who you think would hire people with your type of skills.  Do not ask if the companies are hiring.  Instead ask if anyone knows people who work there – particularly managers who might hire and manage people with your skills.

5.      Contact managers directly. Get their name, get an introduction and introduce yourself to them.  Your introduction can be a simple, “I understand you have people with my kind of background and skills working for you.  I don’t assume to know if you have job openings but I would like to meet you and learn more about the type of people you like to have on your team and share with you a bit about my background.” They may say “sure”, they may say “send a resume” or they may say “no”, but now they know about you. Remember the ONLY thing managers can do to assure their success is to meet and hire great people.  And that’s you!

While these are great words of advice, many long-term job seekers will likely say “Easier said than done” or “I’m doing all these already.” We’ll continue to look for other ways to fight your despair.

If you are a job seeker or someone who was recently hired and has found a way to keep your sanity during your search, share your tips here.

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Video: Stressful jobs that are worth it

CBTVWhether you are unemployed, have taken a pay cut or have been tasked with “doing more with less” at work, it all means one thing: mounting stress. Sure we all have stress in our lives, but these days it can seem overwhelming.

 There are some jobs, however, that seem tailor-made for those who thrive on stress. And those jobs — and the people who perform them — are some we simply cannot live without.

Watch this video from CBtv to learn more, and tell us below why your stressful job is worth it.

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“I’m Just Not That Into It Today”… And Other Excuses for Calling in Sick

hookyHave you ever woken up in the morning and thought, “I don’t feel like going to work today”? I know I have. Immediately, I start to think about what excuse I could give that might allow me to stay home and just relax. More often than not, my conscience gets the best of me and I clamber out of bed and into work, anyway.

I’ve always wondered, why is it that we feel the need to give an excuse anyway? Sometimes, we are sick and that’s a reason in itself; but other times, we just need a day away from the office. What’s wrong with that?

A new CareerBuilder survey says that the economy is playing a role in employees calling in “sick” to work. The annual survey on absenteeism shows 32 percent of workers have played hooky from the office this year, calling in sick when they were well at least once. Twenty-eight percent of employers think more employees are absent with fake excuses due to increased stress and burnout caused by the recession.

About 12 percent of employees said they played hooky from work to avoid a meeting, give themselves some more time to work on a project or avoid the wrath of a boss, colleague or client. Others missed work because:

  • 31 percent needed to go to a doctor’s appointment
  • 28 percent needed to relax
  • 16 percent needed to catch up on sleep
  • 13 percent had to run personal errands
  • 10 percent had to catch up on housework
  • s10 percent wanted to spend time with family and friends
  • 32 percent just didn’t feel like going to work that day

Of course, CareerBuilder also asked employers to share the most unusual excuses they’ve heard from employees calling in sick.  Here are the top 12:

  1. I got sunburned at a nude beach and can’t wear clothes.
  2. I woke up in Canada.
  3. I got caught selling an alligator.
  4. My buddies locked me in the trunk of an abandoned car after a weekend of drinking.
  5. My mom said I was not allowed to go to work today.
  6. A bee flew in my mouth.
  7. I’m just not into it today.
  8. I accidentally hit a nun with my motorcycle.
  9. A random person threw poison ivy in my face and now I have a rash.
  10. I’m convinced my spouse is having an affair and I’m staying home to catch them.
  11. I was injured chasing a seagull.
  12. I have a headache from eating hot peppers.

Click here to read the full survey.

What about you guys? What excuses have you given to play hooky? Employers, what have you heard from employees?

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Why would an employer hire you?

Hire Me computer keyToday we have a guest blog post from Joe Turner, the Job Search Guy, who is the author of  “Job Search Secrets Unlocked” and “Paycheck 911.”  You’ll find Turner’s free tips and advice on landing a job in this tough economy at Here are some tips on answering the question, “Why would an employer hire me?” and using social media in your job search.

Using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn has been front and center on many job hunters’ “To Do” lists these days.  Most likely, you’ve made some forays into these areas already.  While some are reporting success by incorporating these sites into their job search strategy, if you have little experience using these sites, you might not know where to begin.

Before you jump into the social media fray, first decide your overall purpose.  In a recent interview, Shama Hyder, social media expert and CEO of the Internet marketing firm Click-to-Client advises job hunters to first start with a focus.  The biggest mistake she notices is that most people post profiles to social media sites without having a future employer in mind.  So start with a purposeful profile and think from the perspective of what overall first impression that employer will have of you.  Hyder suggests only listing interests that support or underscore your purpose.

When we talk about purpose or focus, most job hunters think of themselves as a list of skills, job duties and responsibilities developed over the years.  Unfortunately, this is not going to make you stand out in the world of social media.  Two major issues today grip employers: too little time and unfilled job problems.  They don’t have the time to leisurely read through hundreds, if not thousands, of candidate profiles on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Furthermore, their mind is focused on their immediate job opening and the problems this is causing them.  So, how do you break through these social media barriers?

Consider your BOD.

Before you jump into the social media world, make sure you have a clear understanding of why an employer would hire you. One good way to do that, according to Hyder, is to develop what she calls a “BOD.”  This stands for Brand, Outcome and Differentiator and is a good way to answer the question, “Why would an employer hire me?”

You can find a lot of personal brand information on the Web.  Actually, a brand is a concise sentence or phrase that can quickly describe you to an employer.  In the marketing world this is called the Unique Selling Proposition.  What is it that sets you apart from other candidates looking for a similar job or opportunity?  Since time is of the essence, Hyder goes even further by asking if your brand can be summed up with one word.  While most of us may not be able to distill our brand into one word, we should at least have it down to a sentence or phrase.

This is what I see missing from so many resumes and profiles.  What is the one clear benefit of hiring you?” Remember, employers have no interest in pawing through lists of skill sets or past duties.  They want to know whether you can solve their problem.  Right now.  So imagine that if an employer were to hire you, what is the single biggest benefit that YOU bring?  This is the outcome of hiring you. 

Employers today may look through thousands of potential candidates before settling on just a handful that they’ll interview.  So ask yourself, what makes you stand out from the pack? What do you bring that other candidates with similar skills and experience don’t?  This is your differentiator.  Examples of good differentiators might be your expertise as a cold caller, your bilingual expertise or your combined technical and management abilities as a project manager.

Look for factors that employers would highly value when searching for your differentiator.

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Researchers at Tech developing a new type of concrete from ‘fly ash’

The researchers, led by Erez Allouche, an assistant professor of civil engineering and associate director of the Trenchless Technology Center, and Sven Eklund, an assistant professor of chemistry, are working with a group of students to create a geopolymer concrete, or GPC, made from a waste byproduct produced by coal-fired power plants called "fly ash."


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High Entry-Level Salaries

education = $ written on blackboard with apple, booksLast month, I wrote a post about 50 jobs that pay $50,000 or more and a lot of you commented that you wanted to see jobs that pay that amount at the entry level.

I did some detective work and found 20 jobs whose entry-level salaries range from $41,000 to $77,000 a year. Compare these to the national mean of $41,231 for all workers and that’s a nice chunk of change for starting out in a new career.

One thing to keep in mind: While there are jobs that pay well at the entry-level, that pay is usually related to education. If you want a high starting salary, you’ll have to do your homework … literally. Certifications, post-secondary education and baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate degrees are usually needed for these jobs.

Here are 20 jobs with high entry-level salaries, according to, which powers

  1. Athlete Agent
    Industry: Sales 
    Annual salary: $59,879
  2. Compensation Analyst
    Industry: Health care 
    Annual salary: $54,568
  3. Computer Information Scientist 
    Industry: IT 
    Annual salary: $65,624
  4. Developmental Psychologist
    Industry: Health care 
    Annual salary: $45,241
  5. e-Commerce Business Analyst 
    Industry: IT 
    Annual salary: $60,022 
  6. ERI Specialist 
    Industry: Health care 
    Annual salary: $41,680
  7. Hydraulic Engineer 
    Industry: Engineering 
    Annual salary: $60,729
  8. Industrial Engineer
    Industry: Engineering 
    Annual salary: $65,600 
  9. Industrial Health Engineer 
    Industry: Engineering 
    Annual salary: $54,716
  10. Marine Engineering Machinist
    Annual salary: $58,177
  11. MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) 
    Industry: Engineering 
    Annual salary: $71,935
  12. Medical Social Researcher
    Industry: Health care 
    Annual salary: $47,594
  13. Product Marketing Engineer 
    Industry: Engineering 
    Annual salary: $53,156
  14. Sales Engineering Agent
    Industry: Sales 
    Annual salary: $55,693
  15. Scientific Artist
    Industry: Health care 
    Annual salary: $43,053
  16. Software Developer 
    Industry: IT 
    Annual salary: $77,511
  17. Systems Administrator 
    Industry: IT 
    Annual salary: $63,209
  18. Systems Analyst Lead 
    Industry: IT 
    Annual salary: $74,518
  19. Veterans Service Officer 
    Industry: Health care 
    Annual salary: $44,319
  20. Web Developer 
    Industry: IT 
    Annual salary: $66,861

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U.S. loses 263,000 jobs in September

headlineWe were waiting for two big announcements this morning at CareerBuilder. One was about Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics  – our corporate headquarters are in downtown Chicago — and the other was about September’s unemployment numbers. Well, the Olympics are going to Rio de Janeiro and the job losses were higher than expected.

The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers trimmed 263,000 jobs last month. While that number is slightly higher than predicted and the more than the number in August (201,000), it still is much lower than the numbers we saw in late 2008 and into 2009. The largest job losses were in construction, manufacturing, retail and government.

“We’re not going to see job growth until the second half of next year. And even when it does start to grow, it’s going to be slow,” said  Marissa Di Natale from Moody’s in today’s New York Times Economix blog.

Because the economy is still healing, we’re likely to see some fluctuation month to month, but CareerBuilder’s recent survey indicates that less employers plan to decrease staff levels in Q4 compared to Q3.  If you look at the number of jobs lost from May 2009 through September 2009, that average (307,000) was half of the average we saw from November 2008 to April 2009 (645,000). 

While the national unemployment rate hit 9.8% in September, there are areas in the country where that rate is much lower and much higher. If you’re thinking of relocating to greener (as in money) pastures for work, take a look at this interactive map from Forbes. It breaks down the unemployment rate of every county in the United States. Did you know the unemployment rate in Bismarck, N.D. is 3.3%?

Although the rising unemployment rate may mean more candidates applying to jobs, attendees at a recent conference for recruiting professionals discussed how this influx of candidates has not made it any easier to find the right, qualified talent for available positions. Translation: As a job seeker, you might be down, but you’re definitely not out. You just need to be competitive – something you should practice in your job search no matter the market.

What you want to do is continue to market yourself aggressively and look to those areas that are hiring today.  Currently, we’re seeing a demand for workers in health care, sales, customer service, technology and education.

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Improved Mechanical Testing

With sales of more than $1.3 billion, Hexcel (Stamford, CT) is an advanced structural materials company and a global enterprise with 17 manufacturing sites in Europe, the United States and China.


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