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Your shark attack survival guide (for the office)

Each summer, Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” capitalizes on our collective fear of large, toothy fish with seven days of programming dedicated to topics like “Rogue Sharks,” “Killer Sharks” and “How Sharks Hunt.”

At the same time, however, the people at Discovery Channel want us to be realistic about the actual incidence of shark attacks. The “Top 100 Shark Facts” listed on point out that shark attacks are actually very uncommon. In fact, you’re more likely to get bitten by another human than by a shark.

Since shark attacks are pretty rare and getting bitten by another person is not so rare (or not as rare, at least), we decided to focus on a more common kind of shark attack, one that most people should learn to protect themselves from as soon as possible: The office shark attack.

The office shark, characterized by its power-hungry, super-aggressive, man-eating attitude, is native to absolutely every workplace on earth. It attacks without warning and has been known to bite the head off of anything that gets in its way.

To help you survive your inevitable encounter with this beast, we put together a handy how-to guide.    

1. Stay out of harm’s way: If there was a sign on the beach that said “Danger: Shark-infested waters,” you wouldn’t go in for a dip, right? So, next time you’re assigned a project or scheduled to go on a business trip with the office shark, talk to your boss about being reassigned.

“If you are going to request a change to a new department, try to avoid using the other person being a shark as a reason, though,” says Jan Yager, author of “Productive Relationships: 57 Strategies for Building Stronger Business Connections.” Hopefully there are other reasons that will put you in a better light. ‘I understand there’s an opening in the x,y,z department and I have the skills that they seem to be seeking so I think it will be a good fit,’ or something like that.”

2. Travel in a pack: If there’s no way to avoid the shark at work, at least try to avoid being alone with her. She’ll be less likely to attack in front of a group. Plus, you’re probably not the only who feels bullied by the shark, so it should be easy to form an alliance against her. “Most likely, the shark is a shark by nature — not just with you. Talk to others and find allies,” says Yosh Beier, managing partner at Collaborative Coaching, LLC, an executive coaching firm in Brooklyn, NY.

3. Stay alert: When the shark is around, don’t let your guard down. Keep personal and professional information to yourself, since the shark may try to use it against you later, Yager says.

4. Don’t panic: Office sharks, too, can smell fear. They prey on the weak, so a confident attitude will keep them away.

“’Sharks don’t show aggression right away. Only when they feel that they can get away with it — that the person in front of them lacks confidence — do they step it up from provocative to disrespectful to aggressive,” Beier says. “If you are around a shark-kind-of-a-person, send an early message that this is not okay.”

5. Defend yourself: According to the Discovery Channel’s shark facts, “Punching a shark in the nose or poking its eyes can help to fend it off during an attack. Aim for the sensitive eyes or gills — or, if your aim is off, the much bigger target of the snout. Most sharks don’t want to work that hard for their food and will swim away.”

This same strategy will work for the shark in your office. Next time he messes with you — BAM! — whack him in the nose. Just kidding. However, like we mentioned before, sharks pick on the little guys because they can. Put up a bigger fight and chances are, he’ll walk away.

Next time the shark tries to overpower your opinion, for example, make sure that you’re heard by using this tactic: “Express your disagreement — but don’t explain yourself unless follow-up questions are asked. If you have a different opinion, don’t say things like ‘Could you listen, please,’ etc. Just continue to say ‘no,’ ‘I disagree,’ ‘not how I view it,’ etc. until the other person stops and asks you why,” Beier says.

6. Size him up: If you’re no match for the shark, be careful about how you approach him.

“There are some sharks who will fire you, if it is their company, just because you stand up to them and they want to show you who is in charge,” Yager says. “That doesn’t mean you don’t stand up to him or her, but be prepared for that outcome. That means that you have your resume ‘dusted off’ and you’ve thought through if you absolutely have a financial cushion or even another family member who is working so if you do lose your job, you won’t be out on the street.”

7. Get the heck out of there: “If you find yourself in an organization that tolerates dysfunctional behaviors – well, maybe this is not the place to be. Know your choices,” Beier says.

Do you have a shark at your office? How do you handle him or her?


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Are you suffering from summer fatigue or job burnout?

In college, one of my professors noted that the amount of absences that particular day was extraordinarily high. Despite it being a sunny, spring day, he wasn’t surprised.

“On days with really bad weather, people don’t come to class because it’s too dangerous to drive,” he said. “But I noticed that they don’t show up when it’s really pretty outside because they’d rather be enjoying the sun.”

The weather affects us. Sure, we stay indoors and lazy around when a blizzard slams the city, but we don’t necessarily accomplish more when the weather outside is delightful. A CareerBuilder survey finds that workers might be less productive in the summer than in other months, at least according to bosses.

Of surveyed employers, 26 percent believe worker productivity takes a dip in the summer.  Bosses attribute this decrease to nicer weather, vacations and children at home during summer break.

Is burnout to blame?
Summer isn’t the only culprit, however. Forty-five percent of employers believe workers are burned out on their jobs.  Well, they’re unfortunately right.

  • 77 percent of workers say they are sometimes or always burned out on their jobs
  • 43 percent of workers say their stress levels at work have increased over the last six months
  • 46 percent of workers say their workloads have increased in the last six months

One reason workers might be noticeably burned out is due to fear of losing their jobs. When the Great Recession began in 2007 and layoffs began to occur regularly for the next year and beyond, workers began to wonder if they were next to receive pink slips. Meanwhile, as companies downsized, responsibilities shifted and suddenly the old adage “do less with more” was a way of life for millions of concerned workers.

Not surprisingly, then, 30 percent of employers say their workers are more productive today than before the recession began. Of those employers who noticed a rise in productivity, 73 percent see the increase still in the workplace today; 14 percent even say an additional increase has occurred in their workplace.

What to do
If you’re sluggish this summer and you know it’s because of the weather, try not to show it at work. Employers aren’t keen on watching their employees perform below their norm.  Still, summer only lasts a few months, so eventually you’ll be back at normal speed.

If your less-than-stellar performance these days is the result of burnout, you might want to try these steps to unburden yourself:

Say no when you can
Workers, especially those fearful of layoffs, often overcommit and end up with a to-do list that no single human could ever accomplish. Learn to say no when you can’t possibly take on another task.

Talk to your boss
This one might be easier said than done, but most bosses want their employees to be happy and be good performers. If you’re doing the job of two (or more) workers and you know you’re about to buckle under the pressure, let your boss know. Don’t whine and complain. Instead, lay out your dilemma and suggest ways to solve it. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it could make your job more manageable and your performance much better.

Find some time to unwind
When the phones ringing off the hook, your inbox is overflowing with unanswered messages, and your boss keeps asking you to work a little later, you feel boxed in. Find a way to take a breather, whether that means eating lunch outside, taking a 15-minute break a couple of times a day, or going to the gym before you head to work. Do something each day that lets you forget work and think about something else.

Find flexibility
Not all jobs have room for flexibility, but some do. If your boss will let you come in late and stay later or come in early and leave early, that could make your life easier. Or maybe you can work from home some days. Some companies, especially during the summer, let workers add on a few extra work hours to each day, say Monday through Thursday, and then have Friday off. Maybe you can come in early and take an extended lunch to get a trip to the gym in. Whatever works for you and suits your job, try it. A few little changes could make keep the burnout away.


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What it’s like to be married to the boss

Imagine that, after a long day of work, you’re looking forward to a relaxing evening. You get home, put on your sweats, kick up your feet and turn on the TV. But just as you’re starting to unwind, your boss walks out of your kitchen and asks you what’s for dinner.

Sounds like some sort of backwards nightmare? For a lot of people, it would be; but if you happened to be married to your boss, then it’s just the typical evening.

Naturally, working with your spouse isn’t without its challenges, but there are benefits, too. To find out about each, we talked to several people who make their marriages work, both at home and in the office.  

The benefits

1. “I work for/with my husband. When we land a new client or when something spectacular happens, we get to share that together, which is very cool. He also understands when I am sick or not feeling well, so calling in sick is no longer a worry. Plus, he allows me to be far more creative in my particular field than most other bosses would be. I also believe most times he does listen to my new ideas, and allows me to expand my knowledge base as an employee and a person for the betterment of the company.” — Michael Ann Rosa, search engine specialist, Rosart Multimedia, Inc., a website design and development company

2. “The most enjoyable part of working with my spouse is spending time together problem solving and being creative. It feels like you understand their thought process on a deeper level and builds a firm foundation of appreciation and respect.” – Daniela Hart, who works with (not for, as she isn’t afraid to remind him) her husband at their tie company, David Hart &Co.

3. “My wife and I are business partners, but she does have final say, as this business is in her field of expertise. The way we handle the situation is the way any functional business does — assigning roles and taking full responsibility for them. We come together all the time to debate and discuss various strategies and ideas, but we are both fully aware of who is responsible for what, and we trust each other to execute to the best of our abilities.” — Michael Coxen, who works with his wife at Paper and Home, a Las Vegas-based stationery company

4. “A lot of marriages end because people stop communicating.  We will have been married for 17 years on August 6, and have not grown apart. We have a vested interest in getting along because we have three kids and two joint ventures.” — Kelly Spradley, co-founder (with her husband) of Vignature, an image-based electronic signature company in Texas

5. “Working alongside my husband [at our company] is great because we’re always on the same page.  We have the same priorities and we want the same things in life, but at the same time we bring different strengths to our company. [My husband] is very pragmatic and I’m more of an ideas person (‘What if we….?’).  We both code and design our website ourselves, so we’re a total team. He does the backend coding that gives the site its functionality, and I design it and handle all the aesthetic and usability components. It’s nice to look at it and know that we both built it. I take it for granted, but it’s also nice to be on the same schedule — if one of us is working late, odds are the other is too.” – Amy Dannwolf, who works with her husband at Powder7 .com, a leading online ski shop

6. “All of the advantages outweigh all the minor things. Since I work for [my husband’s] company, I can make my own schedule, which comes in handy when I have to take my mother and grandmother to run their errands. We have a small son who is about to start school and by having a flex schedule I can drop him off, pick him up and take him to the office if I need to. I never have to call and explain to my boss why I am running late.” – Karen Guzman-Coppock, who assists her husband at Owner Finance Buyers, a real estate financing company in Texas

The challenges

1. “Sometimes my boss is a real jerk. I do not get to go home and vent about a bad day at work, which can feel very isolating. Or, we strongly disagree and it can be hard to leave that stress at work, and it can bleed over at home.” – Rosa

2. “Business can be all-consuming.  It doesn’t end when we leave the office. We have been known to talk about strategy in the bedroom, at dinner (with the kids), on dates and on vacations.” – Spradley

3. “We leave the office and go home, but the work never completely stops. We’ll check email until we fall asleep and as soon as we’re up in the morning. If we disagree over something we’re more likely to take that home with us than bring a disagreement from home to work. Most of our dinner time conversations are about work and what we can do better; the gears are always turning.” – Dannwolf

4. “My husband and I have worked together on and off throughout our marriage. I was 19 when I started working for a company that he was working at (we were already together). The main problem was that, when I was eventually moved into a management position, the other employees always felt that it was due to the fact that I was dating my husband. It really caused the employees that I managed to be mad at me and not have as much respect for me. Now that my husband has started his own business [and I work for him], it is hard because I always want to give my feedback and I don’t always agree with his or his partner’s ideas.” – Coppock

5. “Finding a balance between your professional and personal life can be difficult. It can be challenging to go on a date and not talk shop. Sometimes we drop everything we are doing and head to Coney Island to ride the Cyclone roller coaster. It’s hard to talk about anything when you are screaming your head off!” – Hart

The final word

1. “It’s definitely not for everyone, we’ve seen a lot of couples try it and few have succeeded. At the end of the day, you’re still married and ultimately that has to be viewed as the most important thing. Too often marriages crumble due to business stresses. You have to separate the two.” – Dannwolf

2. “Remember that you work ‘with’ and not ‘for’ your spouse. Treat each other with the utmost kindness and respect. But, if it’s just not working out be honest about it. Better to switch careers than switch spouses!”  – Hart

3. “Just like everything there are advantages as well as disadvantages. For me personally, there are more advantages … I love working with my husband. Yes, he might be a pain in the butt every once in a while but by working together we get more things accomplished. Overall it just fits our lifestyle.”– Coppock

4. “Open and honest communication is what makes our business, and our marriage, possible. I wouldn’t change this situation for anything because the communication we have simply can’t exist in the corporate world.”  – Coxen

Would you ever consider working with your spouse? Let us know in the comments section.


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Personal branding part two: Marketing yourself

Last week, we told you why it’s important to have a personal brand, and how you can define your own. This week, we’re going to talk about marketing your brand.

There are a lot of ways to promote your personal brand, all of which fall into two categories: online and off.


Building a professional online presence is crucial. It’s a great way to connect with, share ideas with and build rapport with important people and companies in your industry. Plus nearly half of all human resources managers take online presence into account when screening applicants, and more than one-third believe that online presence will eventually replace the traditional résumé altogether.

When building your online presence, you’ll want to focus your efforts primarily on creating a personal website and establishing profiles on key social networks.

The first thing you should do is register a website. You can purchase a domain name and web hosting service from providers like for as little as $5 per month. For easy and inexpensive web design, choose a provider that allows you build your site on a blog platform like

When choosing a domain name, try registering your full name (i.e. first, says Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC and author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.” “If that’s taken, try to get ‘’ If that’s taken, use your first name, your middle initial and your last name, and so on,” he says.  

However, resist the urge to include professional terms in your site domain (i.e. unless you are 100 percent committed to your field. “More people are branding themselves using industry and professional terms, but don’t do that if you don’t know what you want to do in life because you’re going to get stuck with it. If you brand yourself under your name, then you can always change [the content of your site] to reflect the new topic that you’re pursuing,” Schawbel says.

In general, your site should include your contact information, a brief professional history, examples of your work (if applicable) and links to your social media profiles. If you want to go above and beyond, consider starting a blog on your site, too. “A blog showcases your creative ideas in real time,” Schawbel says. “It’s a good balance and supplement to a résumé.”

Your social networks

There are dozens of social networks out there, but there’s no need to spend time on all — or even most – of them. For personal branding purposes, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook will be most worthwhile. Though it’s still pretty early to say whether — and to what extent — Google+ will catch on, Schawbel suggests setting up a profile regardless, since the site already has more than 20 million users.

When setting up your accounts, follow these guidelines:

Be a resource: In general, says Lisa Johnson Mandell, resident blogger for Aol Jobs and author of “Career Comeback–Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want,” you want to use social networks to position yourself not only as an expert, but as a resource. “On your own pages, like Twitter and Facebook and your blog, the more useful the information is, the better. If you’re helping colleagues, businesses and others in your field with tips, you’re going to look like a team player, and like you’re cutting edge and on top of your field. That’s the kind of person other people want to hire,” she says.  

So, next time you read an informative article that relates to your field, share it on one of your social media accounts.

Create forward-looking profiles: You want your online profiles to position you for the career you want, not the job you have or most recently had, Schawbel says.

On LinkedIn, for example, this may mean changing your title from “associate at Boutique Interactive Agency,” to “Interactive marketing expert for small businesses.”

Similarly, if you’re trying to make a career or job change, your social media pages should reflect that. “Because of how the Internet works — it’s like the law of attraction — you’re going to attract the types of jobs that are reflected in your profiles, because when people put those keywords in, your profile will come up” Schawbel says.  “If you don’t change your profiles and the way you’re positioned online, then you’re going to keep attracting jobs like your last one.”

Set up a professional Facebook page: “If you’ve got a very personal Facebook profile with a lot of friends, I suggest opening a second, professional Facebook page,” Mandell suggests. “Not a profile, but a page. This way, your professional page will also come up in a Google search, and it’s also another way to have a dialogue with people in your field.”

Participate on Twitter: Interaction is key if you want your job search to benefit from Twitter.

“[If you want to build a rapport with someone] follow them, retweet them, have conversations with them, and they’ll get to know your name and your face,” Schawbel says. “That’s the beauty of these networks: people see your face, they see your name and they see your comments. So when you end up emailing them eventually, maybe after a few weeks, they’ll already know who you are and they’ll probably respond to your email, which could turn into a potential referral or job opportunity.”

Use social networks for research: A lot of the benefit to be gained from social networks happens through personal interaction, but not all of it. Social networks — Twitter and LinkedIn especially (since many people set their Facebook profiles to ‘private’) — are also great research tools. “You can find out who works where and in what position,” Schawbel says. “Using LinkedIn or (like yellow pages for Twitter), you can search for ‘public relations in Boston’ or ‘operations in Cincinnati’ and you get people in different positions in different companies in those areas.”

From there, you can follow these people on Twitter, find mutual  connections on LinkedIn, etc.


Offline, you’ll brand yourself in a more traditional sense, through tools like your elevator pitch, résumé and business cards.

Know your elevator pitch: “Having your elevator pitch down is important,” Mandell says. “A really good elevator pitch shouldn’t be more than 20 seconds; you should include your full name, what you do and how you help other people by doing it. If you’re a first grade teacher looking for a job, for example, you might say, ‘Hi, I’m Lisa Johnson Mandell, I’m a first grade teacher and I specialize in enhancing kids’ reading skills.”

Tailor your résumé: Your résumé should support and emphasize the core of your brand (what makes you different/better/special). Also, remember to make sure your résumé is consistent with your online profiles: dates, job titles and job descriptions should match up. In terms of visuals, keep a consistent look through your website, résumé and business cards, too.

Get a business card: “How many times do you meet someone and then you go to exchange information, and you’re writing on the back of a bank slip?” Mandell asks. That’s why, even if you’re currently unemployed, she suggests having business cards printed with your name, profession, tagline (which we covered in the first post) and contact information, including the URLs for your website and social media profiles. With business cards, whether you make a networking connection at a professional event or on the subway platform, you have your information neatly, professionally and instantly available.

A quick word of advice about business cards, though: avoid the freebies. “There are websites where you can get them printed for free, but if you have to pay a little extra to take that website’s advertising off the back, do that,” Mandell says. “That way, everybody doesn’t know you got them for free.”

For more on personal branding, visit or check out:

Personal branding part one: How to define yours

How to build your personal brand

How to self-promote without being obnoxious





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The right way to quit your job

Recently, a local sports announcer provided us with a great example of how not to quit your job: he gave his resignation on air.

 Qumar Zaman, a radio announcer for the Lake County Fielders, a minor league baseball team outside of Chicago, had just finished covering a game last week when he signed off his broadcast saying, “[The team] didn’t pay me all the money owed to me, and that’s why I’m leaving right now.” And he left.

A bad idea, for so many reasons (The first being that he didn’t have another job lined up).

It’s understandable that sometimes, the decision to quit just hits you. Your boss is a jerk, you’re underpaid, and most days, you’d rather get dental work than go to work. But, regardless of how strong your urge is to tell your boss where he can shove it, quitting your job should be a strategic and tactful move. What it shouldn’t be is impulsive or emotional. Or public, for that matter.

For one, you never know where an old colleague or boss will show up again in the future.

“Just like the song says, it is a small world after all,” says Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Massachusetts-based Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting and author of “The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners.” “If you have specialized in a specific field it is highly probable that you will cross paths in the future with the people you are leaving behind today. So it’s important to keep relationships positive and the communication open. You never know when you might see these people again.”

So, before you go all “Jerry Maguire” on your office (“Who’s coming with me, besides ‘Flipper,’ here?”), take a minute to think through your decision. Smith, who has served as a business etiquette coach to companies like Fidelity Investments, Marriott International and PricewaterhouseCoopers, offers the following steps as a guide to a proper, drama-free and professional resignation.

1. Write a resignation letter: A resignation letter is still an expected formality at most companies. Yours needs only three pieces of information, Smith says. “Your last day, contact address and phone number, and your signature.”

No need to include details of why you’re quitting or a personal manifesto of what’s wrong with your company. “You are better served by keeping it simple,” she advises.  

2. Time it right: “Once you have decided to leave a company you often become a lame duck,” Smith says. “Plan your announcement and your time remaining carefully. Be sure to factor in time for a replacement to be found and some training to take place, but do not linger.”

3. Set up an exit interview: As in a resignation letter, prudence is key in an exit interview. “Answer all questions judiciously. Some exit interviews are confidential, while others are not,” Smith cautions. “You want to be sure not to burn any bridges. Boomerang employees — those who leave a company only to be hired back a few years later — are becoming more and more common.”  

4. Take the high road: “Leaving a company can be a stressful and unnerving time,” Smith says. “But it is at times like these that it is especially important to keep your wits about you. Do not yell at anyone, do not destroy company property, and do not disparage the organization to the media or to the clients. What you do reflects on you.”

For more on leaving your job, check out:

10 signs it’s time to quit

Have you seen someone quit their job the wrong way? Tell us about it in the comments section.


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Putting Concrete to the Nondestructive Test

The use of the non-destructive testing methods for determining the compressive strength of high performance concrete ensures high quality.


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Are shorts at work ever appropriate? No one agrees

Fashion is subjective, and not just the artistic designer clothes you see in glossy magazines. What you’re wearing today might make you cringe 10 years from now when you flip through your photo album. To be accurate, when you flip through your Facebook photo albums on your featherweight glass tablet. Take a look around at the people walking down the street or sitting in a restaurant and you can probably find a few things wrong with what they’re wearing. A yellow shirt that used to be white. Socks with sandals. Pajama Jeans.

While workplaces usually have their own wardrobe guidelines, many employers leave specifics up to individuals. The hope is that workers can use common sense. Of course, not everyone’s definition of common sense is the same, so inevitably someone wears a Van Halen shirt to an important conference and suddenly everyone’s forced to wear a uniform. Then no one’s happy as they walk around in their white and beige clothes five days a week.

Still, when the oppressive summer heat rolls into town each summer, the fashion world and real life once again collide. Workers, dripping in sweat on their morning commutes, wonder, “Can we wear shorts to the office?”

And suddenly everyone is a fashionista with an opinion. Some people think shorts are never acceptable in the workplace. Others think it’s fine if you work in a zoo or sporting goods store, but not if you work at a law firm.  Then you have some people — including many southerners who consider a “cool” day any day that doesn’t reach 115 degrees — who believe any wardrobe that prevents overheating is essential.

Because fashion is subjective and every workplace has its own guidelines, no one person can give a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to the question. Tom Ford, king of fashion, thinks men should never, ever wear shorts. Yet designer Thom Browne thinks you can wear shorts as part of a suit. If those two can’t settle the issue, then we’re not going to cast a vote.

Instead, we took to Facebook and Twitter to ask you, the workers and career experts, what you think about shorts in the workplace. It sounds like a silly topic at first, but people feel passionately about it. To some people it’s a workplace sin; to others it would make them much more comfortable for 40 hours each week. The responses were adamant and abundant. Here are a few of our responses:

First we have the yeas.

“Yes yes yes.” – Pam Richardson

“It’s OK unless you want people to pass out from heat stroke.” - Patrick P.

“I had the great fortune to work for 17 years at two amazing companies that allowed shorts at work. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard. I feel that employees should be allowed to wear shorts providing that they look nice, (no cut-off jeans) and a nice polo/dress shirt (no ratty looking T-shirts). Of course if you are in a sales/marketing or high level executive position you might want to continue with the standard business dress until the rest of the world catches up.” - Gary K.

“You’ll miss a lot of parcels if you refuse to let the UPS guy in shorts in the front door.” - Gail C.

“I work at a university, so our dress code is very relaxed. I pretty much wear whatever I want to work. I figure if they want me to wear long pants then they will provide me with a clothing allowance so I can purchase them.” - Kevin L.

“I would love to wear shorts to work, but it’s such a taboo thing – and I don’t know why? Shorts can be professional too!” - Corey H.

“Ummm, I’m wearing them right now. They are professional and very suitable for work. Promise.” - Tamera D.

Now, the nays.

“NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!” - Charlotte W. [Note: Extra Os and ! included to preserve Charlotte’s passionate tone.]

“In HR and I say nope, if it’s in a professional business setting office. ‘Why?’ you ask. To cut down on issues in the long run because all it takes is one person not to know what ‘nice’ shorts means or what ‘professional length’ means, etc.” - Amber T.

“No. The best is business casual or dress down Friday. But not shorts.” - Jan S.

“No shorts to work. Not even when worked in Mohave Desert at [135+] degrees.” - Rose B.

“Nope not professional. I think ladies can wear dresses, and men should go for short sleeved shirts and lightweight pants.”- Tracey S.

“If companies allowed it, I think people would do it. There are some very nice, almost prof. looking shorts out there.” - Stella N.

And then the “Well, it depends…”

“It depends on the workplace, and if you meet with outside clients.” - Jeff F.

“Not at the office, but at a construction [site] – like where I work – would be appropriate.” - Steve C.

“Shorts (mid-thigh) are OK for delivery people who are often out in the heat of the day, in the summer. Inside an office they are not appropriate. Unless ‘skorts’ make a comeback (knee length split skirts) women should never wear them to work!” - Stephanie B.

“The appropriate shorts for the office are ones that are cut just below the knee or longer. They should not be of denim. It should be the shorts version of dress pants.” - Andra G.

“It depends on how much you deal with the public, or how much the public sees that half of you. I work in fast food; the public only sees us 90 percent of the time from the waist up. For this reason shorts are permitted but with guidelines on length, color, and material. Besides standing in front of three ovens all day gets hot. I for one don’t like sorts and don’t wear them though.” - Andrew O.

“For FedEx, cops and U.S. Post Office.” - Laura G.

“I work for a commercial insurance company in Boston. Wearing shorts at work is definitely dependent upon the nature of the business. In professional settings it would depend whether you meet clients in your office or not. We have an appropriate policy which allows for shorts only on Fridays during the summer season unless you have a client meeting that day. Shorts do have to be appropriate in length and style. After the summer season we can wear jeans on Fridays only. Other than that we are business casual.” - David F.

“Some places don’t allow shorts or some summer weight pants in order to maintain a professional environment. I can appreciate this concept except during this intense heat.” - Jennifer M.

Meanwhile, over at our sister Twitter account, @CBforEmployers, Amy wondered, “Shorts… what about JORTS? #kidding #maybe” And with that tweet, she proved why companies have strict dress codes. First it’s shorts, then jorts (also known as jean shorts), then Jams, and then garbage bags with arm holes cut in them.

We gave you our six guidelines for summer wardrobes, which are good rules to abide by for many workplaces. But that doesn’t mean they work for every single job and industry. Share your thoughts on wearing shorts to work. Is it a yes, no, or depends kind of situation for you?


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Companies hiring this week

We’re officially in the second half of July. Summer is sprinting past us. The Women’s World Cup was a tense, amazing ride that did not end how we expected. Harry Potter has left us. Overall, this week is an emotional roller coaster.

Wipe away your tears, friends. For today we have a list of 10 companies hiring this week. *waits for applause* So let’s turn this week around!

Industry: Consulting
Sample job titles: Regional flood plain program management lead, manufacturing operations specialist

Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Product manager, senior software development engineer

Amedisys Home Health
Industry: Home health care
Sample job titles: Clinical liaison (business development), director of operations (registered nurse)

Assurant, Inc.
Industry: Insurance
Sample job titles: Field claims adjuster, test engineer

Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Contract regional recruiter, worksite health specialist

Encore Healthcare
Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Wound care nurse, director of rehabilitation

Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Rehab liaison, speech pathologist

Public Consulting Group
Industry: Public sector consulting
Sample job titles:  Compliance analyst, quality assurance consultant

Rothstein Kass
 Public accounting
Sample job titles: Director of marketing, tax manager

Industry: Electronics and electrical engineering
Sample job titles: Experienced customer support professional, customer support professional


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Personal branding part one: How to define yours

Establishing a personal brand is now a crucial part of a successful job search. Since we think it’s such an important tool for job seekers to understand, and because the experts we spoke to had such good advice, we decided to divide our personal branding post into two parts. Part one is below, and part two will be posted next Monday, July 25.   

Why you need a personal brand

If you’ve ever conducted a job search, you’re probably familiar with a search strategy we like to call “the lottery mentality.” It’s the idea that a lot of job seekers have that — like someone who buys three dozen lotto tickets hoping to win the jackpot – sending out dozens of job applications will increase the odds of landing a job.

While this approach seems to be pretty logical at first  (more applications = more chances), the bad news is that it’s a better strategy for wasting time than it is for job search success. That’s because, instead of playing a job search like it’s a game of skill, the lottery mentality turns it into a game of chance.

Here’s why. By applying to every job you see, you start sacrificing quality for quantity. The quality of your application — the time you take to highlight what sets you apart from everyone else and what makes you special — is what will ultimately land you a job. So by giving away the quality, you’re giving away any advantage you may have had against your competition, and relying purely on chance to get you noticed among what could be hundreds of other applicants. If you’ve ever walked away from a casino $100 poorer than you walked in, you know that games of chance don’t always (or even usually) work out the way we want them to. If you’ve ever won a soccer game or a wrestling match, you’ve experienced the control you have over the outcome of a game of skill.

The easiest way to forever break the time-wasting cycle of — please excuse the bad business jargon — throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, is to establish your personal brand, and to govern your job search by it.

What it is

If you’re still new to the idea of personal branding, the overarching idea is this: In the highly competitive labor market, you need to hone in on what makes you special, what you’re good at and what you want to do, and then you need to let other people know about it. The narrower your focus and the better you can promote your expertise, the more success you will have.

How to start

“To go about [discovering your brand], you first have to figure out who you are, how you want to position yourself in the market, and the types of jobs, career and companies you’re interested in — you’ve got to get all of that information down,” says Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC and author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.” “It’s the hardest part for people, but once you know how you want to be positioned in the marketplace, you can tailor your brand to reflect that.”

When it comes to defining your area of expertise, which will be at the core of your brand, the narrower the better, Schawbel says. “If you brand yourself as just another marketing expert or operations specialist, you’re competing against millions of people worldwide because it’s a global economy, but if you narrow it down to, say, what specific audience you can best serve, then instead of becoming one out of a million [people with that expertise], you’re one in 10,000. That really helps your chances of getting you name out there and becoming more visible, and visibility creates opportunity,” he says.

Not sure which niche you want to hold in your industry? That’s OK, too. Start out with a broader focus and tailor it as your career progresses, Schawbel says.

In choosing your focus, beyond being  narrow, it should also be something that you’re good at, and something that will be desirable to potential employers, says Lisa Johnson Mandell, resident blogger for Aol Jobs and author of “Career Comeback–Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want.” “Before, employers may have gotten 20-30 applications for each position, but these days they’re getting hundreds, so it’s essential to make yourself notable, so that out of all of those applicants, you’re the one that stands out,” she says.  

Once you’ve honed in on what sets you apart, Mandell suggests creating a quick tagline or mission statement around it, and letting that tagline dictate the rest of your brand-promoting efforts. As a job search expert across multiple platforms, Mandell’s personal tagline is “Saving America one job at a time.” Schawbel, on the other hand, markets himself as a personal branding expert for Gen Y.

Want to know more about marketing your brand? Good, because that’s our topic for the second half of our blog, which we’ll post next Monday, July 25th.

Has a personal brand helped you in your job search? Tell us about it in the comments section.  



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Horrible bosses: How to get revenge on one

Prior to opening weekend, much of the hype around “Horrible Bosses” — the comedy based around three men who hate, and subsequently decide to kill, their bosses — stemmed from media headlines like “Jennifer Aniston Looks Great in her Underwear.”

While the actress, who had a starring role in the film, certainly did her underwear justice (we can’t deny it), we’ve got a bit of a different take on why the film raked in $28 million during its opening weekend.

Our hypothesis? Boss-aversion is pretty common, and an $8 movie ticket is a pretty cheap therapy session.

Besides the fact that we’ve talked to our fair share of workers about their flirty bosses, bossy bosses, idea-stealing bosses, stupid bosses and downright abusive bosses, empirical data also tells us that a lot of people have boss issues. A recent survey by Office Team found that nearly half of all workers said they’d worked for “unreasonable bosses.” Of these, 59 percent reported staying in their jobs anyway. (No word yet on how many of them hashed murder plots as a result.)

Bad bosses are not only a fairly common problem, but also — as demonstrated in the movie — one that can cause those under their management serious stress. Still — unlike in the movies – sane people don’t usually see murder as a viable problem-solving option.  But that also doesn’t mean sane people don’t like to get revenge — they just do it in a more subtle way.

“I was lucky enough to have the best possible retaliation against a boss, a corporate vice president,” says Barry Maher, a motivational speaker and author of the books “Filling the Glass” and “No Lie: Truth is the Ultimate Sales Tool.” “Even though I was one of his top people, when accounting told him I’d been slightly overpaid for a year, he decided the best course of action was to threaten me, throwing his weight around and issuing an ultimatum. Either I either paid the money back or he’d let me go. Since I considered myself underpaid, I simply resigned. Shocked and amazed, he immediately cut the amount of money I supposedly owed in half but I’d was immediately so relieved upon announcing my resignation, that I didn’t budge.”

Mere months later, Maher got the greatest kind of revenge there is in the corporate world — success. “After I left, I immediately began consulting, writing and speaking,” he says. “Within a year, the same company brought me in as a consultant, at a rate several times higher than the ‘overpayment’ rate. And a few years later, that very same VP got to sit in the audience and listen as I delivered the opening keynote at his new employer’s annual conference, for a daily fee that was considerably in excess of what I’d been ‘overpaid’ in a month when working for him.”

Ah, victory.

If you’ve got a terrible boss, doing well for yourself is probably the only kind of revenge you can get without jeopardizing your career (unless you want to be an author, in which case ‘jail time’ might be a nice premise for a memoir).

“Success and empowerment in your current and future job is certainly the sweetest revenge and can elevate you over the bad boss hump,” says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company that specializes in corporate etiquette training. She offers these tips for getting revenge the classy way, through success.

1. Don’t be a victim: If your boss is threatening to derail your career (whether she’s literally threatening you, or her actions are starting to compromise your sanity), decide to take your future into your own hands. “[Get a transfer] to another department away from your boss, and take whatever steps (emotionally and physically) to tune out the person’s behavior until you can find another job or corner office away from him or her,” Gottsman says.

2. Find a mentor: Your boss doesn’t have to be the only professional influence in your life. Choose a mentor who can be a positive, supportive figure in your career, as well as someone who can help you develop your skills. Your mentor will also be a valuable connection should you ultimately decide to change jobs.

3. Continue your professional training:  Take advantage of any opportunities to expand on your professional skill set, whether it’s finishing your degree, taking a class outside of work, joining a professional group, or even simply reading books or industry publications.

4. Write things down: “If you have a boss that constantly changes the direction of a project, immediately after your meeting, email an overview of his or her directives for confirmation, including a projected date of completion,” Gottsman says. “When your boss changes the terms you can refer to the original request and alter the deadline date as needed, based on the additional time it will take to go in another direction.”

 Put these into practice and you’ll up your odds of success despite (and, ultimately, to spite) your horrible boss.

Do you have a bad boss? Tell us what he/she did, below.


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