Two Stanford University engineers are developing a new sewage treatment process that would actually increase the production of two greenhouse gases – nitrous oxide (aka, "laughing gas") and methane – and use the gases to power the treatment plant.
Like we mentioned a few weeks ago, communication is tough. Whether you just can’t seem to find the right words to express yourself, or you’re in a different country and forget the translation for “where’s the bathroom?” life gets complicated when you can’t communicate clearly.
To only add to the nuances of everyday communication, it appears that the ability to clearly express ourselves plays an important role in our perceived credibility — at least when it comes to our accents.
A recent study done by the University of Chicago found that native English speakers view those with a foreign accent as being less trustworthy. The study found that the dialect distrust was not due to prejudice, but because those with accents were harder to understand. Participants in the study reported a small, yet definitive difference, between the believability of trivia statements when read by native and non-native English speakers.
On a believability scale of 1 to 10, the statements read by native English speakers were rated at a 7.5, while those read by speakers with a slight accent were rated at a 6.95, and speakers with a heavy accent were given a truthfulness rating of 6.84. It seems that the harder it is for us to understand someone, the less likely we are to trust what they’re saying.
The results of the study may prove alarming for workers and job-seekers with accents.
According to a University of Chicago press release on the study, “Accent might reduce the credibility of non-native job seekers.” Which in turn may make it more difficult for job-seekers with accents to land a job.
Though blatant accent discrimination is part of Title VII (the title of The Civil Rights Act that addresses equal opportunity employment) and is addressed in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission compliance manual, it is also specified that there are legitimate, business-related reasons for companies to require workers to speak clear English. Meaning that while it is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with accents, they can legally choose not to hire a worker with an accent if it will interfere with the person’s ability to effectively do the job.
According to the compliance manual “Because linguistic characteristics are a component of national origin, employers should carefully scrutinize employment decisions that are based on accent to ensure that they do not violate Title VII.”
Though the article does go on to clarify that “An employment decision based on foreign accent does not violate Title VII if an individual’s accent materially interferes with the ability to perform job duties.”
But what about the regional accents here in the U.S.? We have dozens of regional dialects, from the Southern drawl, to the Texas twang, to the “Joisey” accent, to MinneSOOHta and Boston’s “pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd.” Aren’t these regional dialects just as difficult to understand? (As somone who went to college in Boston, let me say I had just as hard a time deciphering my professors’ Boston accents as I did high school math teacher’s Russian one.)
How do you feel about accents (of all kinds) in the workplace? Have you ever been misunderstood at work because of your accent? Let us know in the comments section, below.
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A story that the Today show ran this week left me scratching my head. Not because of their reporting, which was a very good read, but because of the stories relayed by the interviewees. See, the article looks at the often discussed but still unsolved dour job situation for Millennials. The title says it all: “Gen Y: No jobs, lots of loans, grim future.”
Well, that’s cheery.
Young job seekers who have graduated from college or graduate school are struggling to find work. Some of these new job seekers are struggling not only to find the perfect jobs in their fields, but also to find any jobs that will cover their living expenses. It goes on to talk about the competition between these job seekers and baby boomers who are deferring their retirements.
“A quarter of workers postponed their retirement in the past year, with 33 percent of workers now expecting to retire after 65, according to a retirement survey by The Employment Benefit Research Institute.
“If they do manage to get hired, younger employees are often the first to be fired in layoffs. And when Millennials do land a job, it probably won’t be as lucrative due to intense competition for jobs. That means that this generation’s potential earning power is likely to lag over the course of their careers.”
Millennials are overqualified, from an education perspective. Yet, many of them lack the work experience needed for many positions so they’re not experienced enough. They can’t seem to win.
If you’ll recall, we recently asked you to weigh in on the overqualified debate. And you weighed in with passionate responses. Judging by your comments on that post, it seems that employers are turning away candidates who have too much education or too many years of leadership or just too many years in the workforce. They’re afraid you’ll jump ship the second the economy bounces back. By their logic, a 40-something year-old job seeker with 20 years of experience is a flight risk. Yet, as you readers have also told us, many baby boomers with decades of experience are being edged out by companies who want younger workers who are in tune with technology. But aren’t these younger Gen Y workers considered too inexperienced, as the Today article explains?
Judging by the comments you leave on the Work Buzz, Facebook, and Twitter, you’re frustrated with what you’re hearing from employers. (Or, in some cases, not hearing.) We want to know what feedback you’re getting and whether it’s helpful to you in your job search or if it only confuses you further.
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In her new book “What Your Body Says,” Sharon Saylor writes, “The most influential part of communication is your nonverbal. Your nonverbal can actually destroy or produce the results you want, such as inspiring employees to do better work, calming angry customers, creating fans in the marketplace and closing sales.”
In the survey of more than 2,500 hiring managers, 67 percent said that failure to make eye contact would make them less likely to hire a job candidate. Other nonverbals that hiring managers cited as negative included these seven things:
- Lack of smile – 38 percent
- Fidgeting too much – 33 percent
- Bad posture – 33 percent
- Handshake that is too weak – 26 percent
- Crossing arms over their chest – 21 percent
- Playing with their hair or touching their face – 21 percent
- Using too many hand gestures – 9 percent
“In a highly competitive job market, job seekers need to set themselves apart in the interview stage,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “All that pressure, though, may have some job seekers making body language mistakes that don’t convey a confident message. To avoid these faux pas, and ensure you’re remembered for the right reasons, try practicing ahead of time in front of a mirror or family and friends.”
Haefner offers the following tips to avoid body language missteps during an interview:
- Keep calm. To make the best impression and avoid nervous body language, take measures to stay as calm as possible before the interview. Leave the house with plenty of time to get to the interview, avoid caffeine if possible and take deep, calming breaths.
- Practice makes perfect. The old adage proves true in this case, as you’ll feel more comfortable the more you prepare for the interview, and in turn, it will help decrease your anxiety. Rehearse ahead of time with friends or family, do your homework on the company and be prepared for common interview questions.
- See for yourself. Viewing yourself while speaking can help you notice what body language mistakes you might be making without realizing. Look in a mirror while practicing interview responses or videotape yourself to figure out your typical physical movements, and whether or not you need to change them.
Saylor, who is a certified group dynamics and behavioral coach, says it is possible to change your behavior and be conscious of what messages you’re sending with your own body. Her book gives the reader tips on overcoming many communication roadblocks including how to project confidence, how to look intelligent, how to eliminate verbal pauses, and how to use your posture to show confidence.
For additional blog posts on what makes a hiring manager say “yay” or “nay,” check out the following:
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- Interview mistakes you wish you could take back
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We’re trying to simplify your job search and point you in the right direction. This week we focus on companies hiring in the Southern region of the U.S. From D.C. to Texas, we’ve got you covered.
Don’t forget you can click on the job title, company name and states to get more information about the positions or to view more jobs. Happy hunting! (Next week we wrap things up with a list of Western companies.)
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A couple of weeks ago we told you about a survey that found over half of female respondents felt more productive at work when dressed provocatively. Now, according to a different survey, it’s apparent that employers don’t agree.
The poll, conducted by UK law firm DWF, found that employers overwhelmingly feel that dress codes are a necessary part of office life, and say that inappropriately dressed employees will be sent home to change or privately asked not to wear the improper attire again.
In fact, 90 percent of surveyed employers agreed that there were clear benefits to having company-wide dress code regulations.
The top reasons respondents felt that dress codes were necessary included:
- To maintain a level of professionalism in the office
- To encourage focus on work and discourage sexual harassment
- To provide clarity and consistency of approach to staff
Of the less-than 30 percent of employers that said they relax their dress codes during summer months, 34 percent of those employers said they’ve had problems with employees who take the summer dress policy to an inappropriate level, citing “low cut cropped tops, short skirts and shorts” as the major dress code offenders.
To maintain a level of professionalism and ensure that you don’t find yourself in a super-embarrassing “Go home and change” situation, ask your boss or HR department for a copy of the company dress policy.
If your company doesn’t have a firmly-outlined dress code, check out these 10 Taboos For Summer Work Wear, by TheWorkBuzz’s Anthony Balderrama. His top taboos include flip flops, tank tops, shorts and anything see through.
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According to the late Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, 6.8 million Americans fall into the category of long-term unemployment. Long-term unemployment is identified as looking for work for 27 weeks or longer. When you think about it, that’s a lot of people not earning a paycheck right now.
Plus, if you think about how many people have taken pay cuts or worked fewer hours since the recession began, you have another large group of workers not earning as much as they’d like.
For both groups, earning income in some form is a welcome opportunity. Anyone would probably welcome the chance to earn some extra cash. Finding a traditional full-time or part-time job isn’t the easiest thing to do in this economy, and some people don’t have schedules that would accommodate such jobs anyway. Fortunately, new opportunities are available for workers, and many of them can be done from your home.
Here are eight moneymaking suggestions that you might not have considered before.
1. If you’re crafty – Etsy
Etsy is an online marketplace where creative people can sell their handmade crafts and othter times (think a purse made out of a license plate or a throw pillow for your couch). If you have the knack for handcrafted art, Etsy could be a way for you to get your work seen by thousands and get compensated for it.
Check out: http://www.etsy.com/how_selling_works.php
2. If you’re skilled in a hobby or craft – Bragadoo
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to market yourself, and logging on to Bragadoo and posting information about your area of expertise (cooking, caretaking, personal training, etc.) is a cheaper than making a TV commercial. Anyone who hires you can then post about their experience – brag, if you will – and hopefully lead others to also hire you. It’s a community built on recommendations.
Check out: http://www.bragadoo.com/help/
3. If you want to tap into your inner journalist – Seed
With traditional news outlets now competing with blogs and other websites, opportunities for freelance work are better than ever. If you’re a photographer or writer who wants to get your work published, have a visible online presence and earn money for it, submitting your work to Seed might be the way to go.
Check out: http://www.seed.com/
4. If you like to give your opinion – Free Paid Surveys or Find Focus Groups.
Because consumer data is so valuable to marketers, you can earn money just for answering questions about your purchases and consumer preferences. At either site you can find surveys to answer, which does mean answer many, many questions, but it also means getting paid for it, too.
5. If you’re a packrat – Ebay, Amazon Marketplace
What better way to make money than to sell the stuff you’re not using? People collect, well, everything. Old TV Guides? The fancy (but ugly) dishes your grandmother gave you for your wedding? A pair of designer jeans you bought two sizes too small because you thought you’d one day fit into them? Someone will buy them! Check out an online market that lets users put their items up for auction. The site might get a small portion of your sale, but you pocket most (or all) of the cash and didn’t have to do much. You could literally be sitting on money right now.
6. If you’re born salesperson – Avon
Some people are born for sales; others are not. Those of you with the gift for sales can put your skills to work with a company like Avon. If you are passionate about the company’s products and can convey to customers why they should also give the products a try, then you can probably make a sale. You make your own hours and aren’t confined to an office, which is perfect for a side job.
7. If you like to shop – Be a secret shopper
Secret shoppers are hired by a company to go to a store, shop for some items, and then report back on their experience. Their feedback gives the company insight on the customer experience, which might be used to improve that company’s procedures or marketing approach.
8. If you like to create multimedia — Sell your photos to stock agencies or license via an online photo sharing site
Although many photographers would love to have their work exhibited at a gallery, those opportunities are hard to come by. While you work toward getting your showing, you can make some money by shooting pictures and selling them to a stock agency. When companies need stock photos for an ad or an online article, they pay you a fee if they use your photograph. You can also have your work licensed through an online photograph-hosting site, such as Flickr.
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During the month of June 2010, PRI invited Nadcap stakeholders to respond to a survey to evaluate the perceived impact of the program on Nadcap accredited suppliers.
The research involves changes to the way heat pumps operate to make them more efficient in extreme cold temperatures. The technology also promises to expand the geographic range in which heat pumps are capable of operating.
You know your hyper-ambitious-friend with the start-up scented candle business, who comes to your house once a week to ask your opinion on how her new gingerbread-chocolate-popcorn- scented candles smell? She may be a total pain, but next time she stops by, humor her. She’s doing a good thing for the economy.
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, small businesses (those with less than 500 employees) create over half of our nation’s GDP and nearly two-thirds of all new jobs. Additionally, according to CareerBuilder’s latest survey, unemployed workers have a good chance of being hired by a small business — or starting one of their own — during the second half of 2010.
“Historically, it has been the small business sector that has created the most jobs at the end of an economic downturn, allowing the overall job market to bounce back faster,” said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. “The intellectual capital that companies were forced to lay off over the last 18-24 months was substantial and it is not surprising that many individuals are using their business skills to create their own opportunities.”
According to the CareerBuilder survey, from July-December 2010:
- Thirty-two percent of companies with 500 or less employees plan to hire new workers.
- Twenty-one percent will hire full-time, 11 percent will hire part-time and 6 percent will hire contractors or temporary workers.
- Twenty-four percent of companies with 50 or less employees plan to bring on new workers.
- Twenty-six percent of workers who were laid off in the last six-months say they are considering starting a small business instead of looking for full-time work.
The survey also found that there is no shortage of imagination when it comes to small-biz start-ups, either. The following is a sampling of the types of businesses survey participants indicated they have started over the last year (check out lucky #13, that candle-hawking friend story was no joke):
- Board Game Design
- Cleaning Company
- Computer Services
- Craft and Antique Business
- E-commerce retail site/EBay
- Event Planning
- Freelance Journalist
- HR Consulting
- Lawn Service
- Recycled Yarn Retail Store
- Scented Candle Business
- Sports Camp for Kids
Whether you’re thinking about starting your own version of Merry Maids or you’re looking to give Mrs. Fields a run for her money, below are a few ideas (get more tips here, here and here) to take into consideration before starting your own small business:
- Build off what (and whom) you know: Use the knowledge from your past experiences and jobs to develop your business. Reach out to former colleagues, vendors, clients, etc. to let them know that you’re in business for yourself.
- Try contract or freelance work first: Taking on contract and temporary opportunities will help you build your portfolio and networking contacts. If you’re in a product-based business, take on small jobs or orders first, to work out any kinks. If you’re starting a bakery, for example, offer to cater desserts for a family celebration, before taking on paying customers.
- Promote your business with social media:Promote your personal brand by starting a blog, or using sites like Facebook, Twitter, Brightfuse.com and others. Make sure to include links to past work, testimonials and accomplishments.
- Consider a franchise: Going in on a franchise business with others or on your own can be a great way to dip your foot in the water of owning your own business. Franchisees gain access to the names, resources, and marketing materials of well-known companies, in exchange for a percentage of the franchise profit.
Also, check out:
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