10 Habits to Avoid in the Workplace (from careerbuilder.com)

This is a reposting of some information from careerbuilder.com regarding workplace habits.  While it’s not “new,”  I thought it was good advice and so have quoted it verbatim below.


1. Procrastination

A lot of people work best under pressure, or at least they say so. With everyone having a different personality, you can’t say a strict schedule works best for all employees. Putting tasks off until the last minute, however, invites plenty of problems, even if you think the final result will be glorious.

When you leave yourself no wiggle room to complete a task, you run the risk of encountering an unexpected obstacle that makes you miss the deadline. Even if the situation’s out of your hands, everyone will be left wondering why you didn’t plan better and account for last-minute emergencies.

2. Being a sloppy e-mailer

E-mails are second nature to most people these days, and in informal communications they’ve become a digital Post-It note. We type out a message and send them without proofreading or double-checking the recipients. That’s a recipe for disaster.

If you haven’t learned your lesson by now, the day will soon come when you accidentally “Reply All” to an e-mail and a slew of unintended readers receive a silly note you only intended your co-worker to read.

3. Confusing informal with disrespectful

In many workplaces the boss might be the decision maker, but he or she isn’t the stern, humorless caricature you saw on TV. Using your supervisor’s first name and going for some drinks after work are common in many industries.

Still, you are the employee and the boss is the boss — the one who can fire you and tell you what to do. Don’t cross the line by talking to him or her as if you’re talking to one of your direct reports or even your best friend. You need to show some respect for their authority.

4. Taking advantage of leeway

Some companies are strict about the time you clock in and out. Others have guidelines but no hard rules. So you can arrive at 8:35 a.m. and no one cares. If over time you’re arriving at 9:10 a.m. and leaving at 4 p.m. (with plenty of breaks in between), your reputation will suffer.

This also goes for dress codes. Business casual is up to interpretation, but ripped jeans and concert tees probably don’t fall under your company’s accepted definition.

5. Refusing to mingle

Plenty of wisdom lies in the advice not to mix personal and professional lives. However, refusing to take part in any social activity — such as the office potluck or a happy hour — will not help your career.

You don’t need to be the resident party animal, but being personable with your colleagues helps build camaraderie. You get to know other people better and they get to know you as more than the person they pass in the halls.

6. Always running late

This isn’t the same as abusing leeway; this is a matter of trust. If you’re late to work, to meetings and with projects, your boss and colleagues will associate that trait with you. When it’s time for a promotion or to deal with an important client, everyone will think twice before giving you the opportunity. Who wants to trust the person who can’t manage his or her time?

7. Being rigid

One of the unfair aspects of the working world is that sometimes it seems you can’t win. If you’re hired to do a job, most bosses don’t want you passing the day by reading your favorite book.

The reason: You were hired to do a job, so do it. But if the boss comes to you with a new project that’s outside the parameters of your usual duties, it’s still yours to do. “You don’t pay me to do that” isn’t something you want to tell your supervisor.

8. Acting as the resident contrarian

We all love your spirited personality, but try not to be the person in the meeting who always has a better idea and can tell you why everyone else’s idea is dumb.

Voices of opposition are often missing in many workplaces because too many eager employees want to be “yes” men and women. But too much negativity grates on nerves and makes people dread hearing your voice. Continue to be a critical thinker, but make sure you’re doing what’s best for the company and not just trying to be the loudest voice in the room.

9. Badmouthing the company

With blogs, Facebook, Twitter and a host of other sites, you have plenty of opportunity to vent your frustration with life. If you’re going to complain about how dumb your boss is and how much you hate your job, keep those rants private.

The Internet is public domain and comments have a way of finding their way back to all the wrong people. If you wouldn’t stand outside your boss’s office and tell a co-worker how ready you are to quit, don’t express the same thoughts in an open forum.

10. Politicking

Office politics are often unavoidable, and sometimes having a grasp on what’s going on can benefit you, but you shouldn’t spend more time masterminding office warfare than you do working.

Getting caught in the crosshairs of a workplace controversy can be out of your control, but if you’re the one instigating the drama, you’re earning a bad reputation. You’re the person who starts trouble and whom no one trusts. That’s the kind of notoriety that follows you from one workplace to another.


These are good tips, no matter what kind of business you work in.


Writing Professional Emails

In today’s highly techno-focused culture, we are becoming accustomed to the speed and ease of sending instant messages or texts as a way of communicating with others.  And, the use of emails in professional settings is ubiquitous.  Unfortunately, the style of writing often utilized in instant/text messaging seems to be gradually sliding into workplace/academic email messages, to the detriment of the sender’s professional image.  In a professional setting, appropriate emails should be understood to be more similar to letters than text messages, and even quick/short emails should be more like a professional memo than a text.  In the post that follows, I provide some basic tips to help prevent your workplace/academic emails from creating problems with your self-presentation or damaging your professional relationships.

  • Utilize the subject line wisely.  A well-written subject line encapsulates the purpose of the message and will help the reader move it to the appropriate location on the “to do” list.  Subject lines like “Hi” or “: )” are inappropriate and may cost you in additional response time.
  • Greetings/Salutations are important.  Just like in a letter, starting off on the right foot is a good idea.  Simply beginning your email with a sentence can seem abrupt, demanding, or downright rude.  Consider how you would address that person if you were writing a letter and use that format (e.g. “Dear Professor Rowan; Greetings, Dr. Simone; Hello, Mr. Betts).
  • Watch your grammar/spelling/style.  While writing an email is not as formal as writing a paper, errors can both detract from perceptions of the writer and make it more difficult for the reader to understand the message.  Use spell check, but don’t count on it to catch everything.  You need to proofread as well.  Common errors include mixing up homophones (their/there, it’s/its), sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and words used incorrectly.
  • Keep your email on track.  Most people receive many workplace emails each day and if they have to wade through a long narrative or many questions about issues unrelated to the point of the email, you are less likely to get a response to what you really need.
  • Make your request/need/point clearly.  Don’t expect the reader to guess what it is you are trying to say or asking.  Remember, this should be like a professional letter.  If you are asking for a solution to a particular issue, and you have one in mind, indicate it.  For example, if you aren’t able to be in class on Tuesday, don’t write your professor and say, “I can’t be in class on Tuesday, ok?”  Indicate a particular plan of action and ask politely if it is appropriate: “I cannot attend class on Tuesday due to a funeral.  I would like to submit my assignment on Tuesday morning, by 8 a.m., via email.  Would that be appropriate?”
  • Keep your tone appropriate to the relationship and context of the message.  Do not be rude, overly disclosive, or excessively emotional simply because it is an email. “Please” and “thank you” are still polite terms and should be used.
  • Avoid “text speak.”  LOL, G2G, TTYL, B4, etc. are not appropriate for professional emails.
  • Provide contact information, in case the reply is one that cannot easily be emailed.
  • End with an fitting farewell and a “signature.”  Whatever farewell you might use for a letter to the same person (”Sincerely,” “All the best,” “Have a lovely semester”) is fine.  It doesn’t have to be completely stodgy, but it shouldn’t be “later dude” either.

By following these basic tips, you can create workplace/academic emails that get your messages attended to and leave the reader with a positive impression of you as a professional worth notice.

Happy writing,


The Hunt is On! – Job Search Planning and Strategies for Students

As the end of the spring semester approaches, many students are searching for jobs, either for the summer or post-graduation. In this post, I provide some basic job search recommendations to Rowan students and alumni.

Define Your Goals – The first step in securing a job is to decide what it is you want, both in the short-term and long-term. Establish what your objectives are. What objectives do you have for this particular job (to make money for school; to add to your resume; to begin a career)? What objectives do you have overall with regard to occupation? Knowing these goals will help you make sound decisions regarding applications.

Define Your Priorities – When selecting a job, there are many different issues to consider, including time (how many hours a week? what times of the day?), location, skills needed and built, what the position will do for your resume, job benefits, etc. It is helpful to decide what elements are most important to you before you begin your hunt. This prevents you from spending time applying for positions that really do not suit your needs and allows you to focus your energy on those most compatible with your priorities.

Develop Your Resume – Writing a good resume has become easier than ever with the availability of software and websites that assist you in that process. When writing a resume, it is important to not sell yourself short (give yourself credit for what you know and have accomplished). But, it is also important to not oversell your capabilities. Claims made about education, skills, etc. during the job application process set the stage for expectations of the employer. If you promise experience, knowledge, or skills that you don’t actually have, you may end up in a job that is a poor fit for both you and the organization.

Find Openings – As with resume writing, finding jobs has become easier than in the past. Websites like monster.com and jerseyintern.com provide an easy search mechanism for positions by type, location, etc. Trade publications, professional organization websites, online newspapers, and traditional want ads provide additional methods to find the perfect job. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of networking in the job hunt. Talk to people you know about what you are looking for; odds are that someone may know of an opening that would work well for you.

Craft Your Letters – You don’t necessarily need to rework your resume for every position, but you do need to be sure to write individualized and carefully crafted cover letters to go along with your other documents. Form letters are often obvious, and they don’t suggest to the employer that you have carefully considered your fit for the organization. Your cover letter is your chance to frame the resume, so that the skills and experience you are most proud of become highlighted. Of course, you should be sure to carefully proofread your cover letter (and resume). Surprisingly common mistakes include misspelling the name of the organization or hiring manager, pronoun confusion, and grammatically incorrect homonym usage (it’s/its, their/there).

Prepare for Your Interviews – Once you’ve secured some interviews, your task does not end. It’s very important to carefully research the organization before arriving for the interview. This will allow you to position your answers in the most compelling fashion for the interviewer and also to determine what questions you need to have addressed so that you can make your own decisions. By following these basic steps, you can increase your odds of obtaining a position that will be best for you.

Good luck in the job hunt! LBA