Bosses beware this April Fool’s Day: There’s a prankster in your office

Creeper alert: Bosses track employees’ interactions to help them work better

productivity killers

Employers are tracking how employees connect and share information with colleagues to help them communicate more efficiently.

Conducting the occasional Facebook stalk of friends and family—and maybe even a new love interest—is one thing. But the idea of your employer tracking how you connect and share information with colleagues might sound a bit more unsettling.
Until you consider how the information they collect is being used.
Companies including Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Microsoft Corp. are mining their employees' emails, chat logs and face-to-face interactions to get a better idea of how information travels through the company.
But their intention isn't to become Big Brother. For BCG—who was preparing to move offices—the ultimate goal was to design an office space that promoted more efficient employee communication.
The company utilized new technologies—including sensor-laden ID badges that track employees' movement throughout the office and programs that analyze emails and online calendars—to determine how much time employees spend in meetings, writing emails and engaging in impromptu side conversations.
BCG discovered that their employees tend to spend too much time with bosses or direct reports in formal meetings. The ID badges also revealed that employees who stopped to chat with colleagues shared information more efficiently and saved approximately five hours a week in meetings.
BCG used this information to redesign their new office space to be more conducive to impromptu conversations instead of formal meetings. The company created a town-square style lounge area and offered free breakfast and lunch to encourage employees to meet and talk throughout the day.
While there are several tech companies offering solutions to track how your employees communicate, investing in one is not necessary. A 2016 CareerBuilder survey found that 24 percent of employees view formal meetings as their biggest productivity killer. Implementing a strategy to avoid them—such as open office plans that encourage the spontaneous exchange of ideas—would greatly improve productivity without invading employees' privacy.

What are soft job skills and why are they important?

Understanding and highlighting your soft skills for prospective employers will give you a valuable edge over others who are vying for the same job.

Soft skills are some of the most difficult competencies for people to understand. Job seekers and hiring managers alike can struggle with the challenge of defining, demonstrating, and recognizing soft skills. Though they're extremely fluid and highly personalized to each individual, soft skills are a critical component for professional success — and are often the most distinguishing factor between applicants, so make sure you show off your soft skills right.

Understanding Hard vs. Soft Skills

The term "soft skills" is often difficult to understand. As the name suggests, these skills aren't as solid and clear-cut as others. Soft skills are also referred to as transferable skills, interpersonal skills, or social skills. Soft skills may include nearly any ability that pertains to the way you approach others or handle your professional life. Soft skills are difficult to measure. There aren't many tests or professional certifications that will demonstrate your proficiencies in these areas.
Hard skills, in contrast, are those skills that are very easily measured and defined. This includes things like accounting, computer programming, plumbing, or dentistry. You can easily obtain a degree or professional certification in these areas. They're very teachable, and almost always attainable if you have the means to pursue a formal education in that area.
Hard skills apply to very specific professions. Web design skills aren't applicable to a career as a surgeon. A nursing education is irrelevant if you're looking for a job as an electrician. Hard skills lock you into a particular occupation.
On the other hand, soft skills are more flexible and can serve you well in numerous occupations. Though it takes more effort and creativity to properly demonstrate these abilities, they're valuable to almost any job that you might pursue.


Professionalism is a soft skill that will set you up for success in any field. It acts as the driving force that pushes you to advance in your career. Some key skills that demonstrate your professionalism are self-motivation, work ethic, and resilience. Employees who are very professional are continuously working to improve themselves and their job performance. They're skilled in time management and organization. They also possess the skills needed to overcome common challenges, such as patience and stress management.
Some accomplishments that demonstrate your professionalism include:
  • Consistently finishing projects ahead of schedule
  • Exceeding the projections for a campaign
  • Demonstrating attention to detail and catching minute errors early in the production process
  • Taking the initiative to go above and beyond what was assigned

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are another important subset of your soft skills. These skills pertain to how you relate to others, both inside and outside the company. With your co-workers, teamwork and mentoring skills are valuable. When you're interacting with customers, it's important to demonstrate perceptiveness and empathy, which will help you understand and resolve their issues.
Demonstrating strong listening skills, emotional intelligence, and communication skills will serve you well no matter who you're working with. Those who are good at networking are a valuable asset to the company as well.
You can demonstrate your interpersonal skills by:
  • Building strong, ongoing relationships with customers
  • Working collaboratively with your co-workers
  • Leading seminars or providing effective training
  • Maintaining an extensive network of important contacts including vendors, clients, and partners

Leadership and Management Skills

While leadership skills are most relevant to those in a business management position, don't think that you have to be at the top of the pack to showcase these soft skills. Demonstrating that you're an effective leader will serve you well in any industry or position. If a hiring manager spots leadership potential, they may keep you at the top of the file for future promotions.
Management competencies are typically considered soft skills because they're so difficult to measure. Good managers are skilled with problem solving and project management. They're usually good at performing essential research and analytics. Strong leaders also know how to handle interpersonal issues that arise with those around them. They have critical observation skills that help them identify problems as well as conflict resolution skills to help them skillfully mediate disagreements.
Some accomplishments that will showcase your leadership and management skills include:
  • Successfully heading a major project with several others on your team
  • Skillfully delegating responsibilities to others
  • Identifying difficult problems and implementing innovative solutions with measurable results
  • Overseeing sales and marketing campaigns

Including Soft Skills on Your Resume

It's more difficult to feature soft skills on a resume than it is to highlight your hard skills. However, soft skills are just as important to potential employers. While all the applicants for a marketing position are likely to have college degrees in marketing, not all of them will have the same set of soft skills to bring to the job. This is truly where you can distinguish yourself from the competition.
Don't simply list off your soft skills without providing some measure of proof to back up your statements. Anyone can say that they have strong communication skills. Demonstrate yours by highlighting projects that required you communicate effectively with a diverse group of people. With soft skills, it's more important to show than it is to tell. Include measurable details wherever possible.
  • How many new clients did you land with your networking skills?
  • How much did you improve productivity with your problem-solving talents?
While training for soft skills is more difficult to come by, it does exist in some cases. If you've attended a workshop or seminar to help you develop a soft skill, don't hesitate to feature this on your resume. Not only will it demonstrate your expertise in that area, it will show that you recognize the importance of oft-overlooked skill sets and have dedicated yourself to making improvements in these areas.
Your soft skills can make the difference between a lackluster interview and one that lands you the job. Make sure you take the time to identify your strengths in these areas so you can shine a bright spotlight on the soft skills that make you stand out the most.

Creative ways to get noticed by employers on social media

social media

Some savvy job seekers are leveraging social media to their benefit to catch the attention of potential employers, and you can follow suit with these tips.

From making flippant racial remarks to posting unhygienic pictures on the job at a fast food restaurant, there are larger-than-life instances of what NOT to do on social media. On the flip side, social media could work in your favor if you're looking for a job — if you do it right.
Some savvy job seekers are leveraging it to their benefit to catch the attention of potential employers, and you can follow suit with these tips.
Update your social media profile. Whether you like it or not, social media is an extension of your personal brand. Did you know that 60 percent of employers are peeking into candidates' social media profiles? So clean up your Facebook profile or make it private. Add skills and/or recommendations to your professional social media profiles, and make sure to use keywords wherever you can so your profile is easily searchable.
Use multimedia to supplement your resume. While some job seekers have actually gone to extremes by advertising themselves using social ads on Facebook or Google AdWords, being over-the-top dramatic is not always necessary to catch an employer's attention. Consider creating an online portfolio of your work, creating videos that show off your skills, producing a Snapchat channel that highlights your creativity or using other non-traditional avenues that would give employers a sense of your professional prowess.
Make strategic connections. While it's great to connect with Ron from the last networking event you went to, be proactive and seek out professionals in your field. Don't be afraid to ask for advice — many professionals, as busy as they are, will be happy to help. Establish connections with individuals who work at the company you're applying to and reach out to them for tips on how to get your foot in the door.
Follow your dream employer's social media accounts. Not only will it help you connect with the company, but you can also follow the social media feeds to do some more research about the company and determine if it's a good cultural fit. Oftentimes, brands tend to be more authentic and engaging on social media than other corporate channels, so look for personality and fit.
Start interacting with corporate social accounts. The recruiter or hiring manager at your dream company may not return your calls or queries in a timely fashion, but chances are you'll have a better shot at a two-way communication using social media. Retweet and share relevant posts. You don't need to be a subject-matter expert or thought leader to reply to their tweets or comment on LinkedIn posts or Facebook posts — but do so only if you have legitimate feedback/opinions or something constructive to add to the conversation.
Personalize conversations. What you find out about a company or hiring manager online can help you find topics that sit well with the hiring manager so you can personalize conversations or even thank-you notes. Keep in mind there's a line between being diligent (scouring for professional insights) and creepy (looking to see how many children they have), so don't cross it.

What are management skills and why are they important?

Understanding and displaying good management skills will help to position you for a successful career no matter what level you're starting at. Learn the essential role that good management skills play in the workplace.

Management skills are something that you hear a lot about in the abstract; yet you may find you're at a loss to define what the term really means. In the broadest sense, management skills can be nearly anything that enables you to manage others effectively. While some skills will vary based on your industry, there are several that are universal across nearly every work environment.

What are management skills and why are they important?


Managers who can motivate their employees are true assets to their company. This type of interaction not only increases productivity and employee satisfaction, but it sets a good example as well. Hiring managers look for leaders who can spot employees' strengths and encourage them to develop their skill sets. The best managers have a keen eye for areas that could be improved and know how to approach these issues diplomatically so workers feel encouraged to make productive changes, rather than discouraged by their shortcomings.
Important skills in this area include:
Empowering employees to take ownership of projects
Creating an energetic and highly motivated workplace
Showing proper appreciation for employee accomplishments
Supporting coworkers who are under stress
Providing rewards and incentives for outstanding performance

Problem Solving

The right skill set empowers managers to identify, face, and overcome various problems that might arise in the workplace. This first requires outstanding attention to detail. Top managers can spot emerging problems before they're apparent to everyone in the company and identify the root of the trouble. Analytical skills are also important in management. You should know what data is most relevant to your industry, how to gather it, and what the resulting numbers mean.
Highlight these problem-solving skills on your resume:
Demonstrating resourcefulness in the face of a problem
Anticipating potential issues before they arise
Identifying factors contributing to problems
Interpreting critical industry data
Troubleshooting quickly and efficiently


Good managers hold themselves to the highest standards so that their employees will have a clear example of what they should strive for. Integrity, honesty, and professionalism are crucial skills for strong managers. As a leader, it's better to show rather than tell when it comes to work ethic and demeanor. Hiring managers look for job applicants who adhere to a strict moral code and set the right example for others.
Qualities that exude professionalism on a resume include:
Providing exceptional customer service with a professional attitude
Identifying diplomatic solutions to workplace issues
Exhibiting strong moral values
Showing initiative
Attending professional development seminars


One of the most important responsibilities that managers have is communicating effectively, both with the employees who work under them and with other managers throughout the company. They're part of an intricate web and must act as a strong connection point that bridges the gaps between lower level employees and top brass or between sales, marketing, and production departments.
People skills are crucial. You should be able to communicate effectively in both verbal and written form. Typo-riddled memos or rushed, confusing meetings won't do. The best managers are always able to send a clear message and share valuable, understandable information that will help get the job done.
Include these types of communication and people skills on your resume:
Drafting clear and concise training materials
Maintaining open lines of communication with co-workers
Negotiating successfully to resolve employee disputes
Encouraging communication among reticent employees
Leading efficient meetings that are both productive and sensitive to time constraints

Technical Skills

Technical skills are more important for low-level managers than for those at the top of the chain. If you're angling for your first managerial spot, it's crucial that you demonstrate a keen understanding of the business as a whole. Many companies promote their managers from within for this very purpose. You can't oversee a team of IT professionals if you're lost when it comes to navigating your company's programming systems. No sales manager can be effective if he doesn't know how to close a sale.
Your industry knowledge and experience should guide all those whom you oversee, helping them to achieve higher levels of success. Managers are often called upon to provide training and coaching for their employees. You should be able to impart useful wisdom and handy trade secrets that will help your team excel.
Make sure hiring managers are aware of your expertise with resume phrases such as these:
Providing customer support Handling data security
Generating reports and drafting presentations with Microsoft Office
Managing website content, social media accounts, or marketing campaigns
Offering technical support to employees and/or customers


Innovation is a keyword for nearly every company. Your competitors are always striving to develop the best new products and services ahead of you. Businesses that innovate well stay at the top of the pack, netting new customers with their fresh offerings and keeping existing clients happy with a continuous selection of upgrades. Hiring managers have a keen eye for new hires who will bring different perspectives and new ideas to the company.
Highlight your ability to innovate with these skills:
Developing innovative solutions for customers' needs
Identifying key shortcomings in manufacturing and drafting solutions to boost production
Constructing research models to test new product ideas
Generating fresh ideas for timely marketing campaigns
Redesigning systems for increased productivity or functionality

Including any of the above-mentioned skills on your resume will position you for success in management. This applies both to those who are actively pursuing a managerial position as well as those who are applying for lower level jobs. Highlight all your applicable management skills on your resume no matter what job you're after. Having the solid qualities of a good manager will position you for success at any level of the company.
Management skills are important for many reasons. They position you to act as an effective leader and problem-solver in so many situations. Work on honing these skills and watch how they can impact your job performance and opportunities.

The perfect answers to 10 common job interview questions

interview questions


We're going to skip over the obvious job interview questions, such as "Why do you want this job?" or "What do you know about Company X?" Most likely, those will make the cut, and you should come prepared with succinct, descriptive answers that don't over-embellish.
But those simple openers are the "warm up" questions that get you into interview mode—and you should use them as such (think succinct answers to succinct questions). It's the trickier job interview questions you might encounter that we're covering today, and they'll require thinking about the whole interview a little differently.
As you prepare, we want you to shift your perspective: you're going to prepare answers for certain categories rather than to actual questions.
Because the sequence, wording and content will vary from interview to interview, you should focus on general topics. Doing so ensures you're ready for whatever comes your way. Plus, by thinking in big picture terms for each category, your answers will ultimately come across as more conversational, and believable, which will make the interview better for everyone. Here are the 10 biggies you should consider:
1. "Tell me about yourself." 
At first glance, this question can seem easy to answer (and it can be), but you need to have your compass pointed true North to pull it off. 

To prepare, start by thinking of 3-5 strong and relevant adjectives that describe you and your values. Tell the interviewer what they are, then give real examples of how you embody the adjectives. Certainly, you can mention hobbies or interests in your explanation, but keep them relatable to the job.
2. "Describe a challenge or conflict you've faced and how you dealt with it."Your potential employer needs to know how you respond under pressure and how you resolve conflicts.
Most everyone has a story where they reacted less than ideally to a workplace issue. You can mention one of these experiences if you feel it's appropriate—it could ultimately make your case stronger. But you can also use an example that didn't happen in the office. The important part is how you describe the resolution, not that there was an issue. 

Choose an incident in which you were frustrated but overcame the emotional turmoil or one where you had to make a sacrifice that didn't jeopardize the quality of your output. Your interviewer's asking this question to determine if you're candid, coolheaded and willing to compromise.
3. "What's your greatest personal achievement?"Choose one or two max. You do not want to come off as boastful, even if you have accomplished a lot. Your discretion in the choices you make will speak far more positively of you than offering an endless laundry list.
The example you choose should be something that's not widely applicable, meaning don't mention graduating college. Choose something that sets you apart, such as organizing a charity drive for local animal shelters where you raised $10,000. BTW, quantifying an achievement (re: $10,000 to a good cause) is a great trick. Just don't exaggerate.
4. "What's your biggest strength/weakness?"Many of us tend to dislike this question, but we actually think it's one of the more fun questions you can be asked. It's an opportunity to showcase how well you really know yourself, which is more critical to employers than many applicants realize.
People often get stuck on how to spin a weakness into a positive asset because, admittedly, you shouldn't be telling a potential employer that you have bad habits. Let's say you have a tendency to get distracted. You can tell your interviewer that, but clarify the actions you've taken to remedy it. Mention that you've now implemented a schedule where you wake up early, work out and set aside the hours from 7-9 to respond to emails, then don't check again until right before lunch. Demonstrating your drive to better yourself is key.
5. "Why do you want a change from your current career path?"You committed to one professional direction, but you're not feeling it anymore. That's fine, but make sure you explain it in a less cavalier way than that.
You'll need more than just, "It wasn't the right fit." Why wasn't it? You can start by explaining the parts you got right (no one wants to hear you hated everything about your last job), then explain what you didn't. Lack of career advancement? Wanted more responsibility or challenging projects? 

Know your reasons, stick to them, don't apologize. You wanted something better, and that's why you're interviewing now.
6. "Where do you see yourself in [X] years?"Even if you are 100 percent positive at the time of interview that the job is right for you, it doesn't mean you're ready to commit the next 10 years of your professional life to it. Don't play lip-service if you genuinely can't see it. Instead, talk about the things you would want to do long-term.
Talk about your passion for the actual work you'd be doing: "As a product manager, I would be able to fulfill my dream of executing a business strategy from conceptualization to market; these types of business plans are what I plan to be designing for the rest of my career." 

You can also talk about personal goals of yours: owning a house, starting a diverse investment portfolio, supporting a family, managing/starting your own business. You can connect how the job description would allow you to better attain those personal goals. Just use discretion when discussing the new job as a potential means to an end. No one wants to hire someone because they cite the job as an ideal way to start their 401(k). Talk about personal goals in addition to succeeding in something your passionate about in the industry.
7. "Why are you interested in our industry?"Again, your preparation and research will come in handy here. If you have a story about what first sparked your curiosity about your industry, that's a great thing to describe now.
Pick a moment in time when you felt particularly connected to the work that was going on in your field (positive or negative) and explain those feelings. If possible, reference something that just broke in the news having to do with your industry.
8. "How do you evaluate success?"There is no wrong answer to this question. Be cognizant of the type of job you are applying for. If you're aiming for a big corporation, your emphasis should be on the bottom line. If you're applying for a non-profit, you should place more importance on social impact. If you're applying for a start-up or maybe a fashion house, you should talk about influence and media presence.
You'll also want to make the answer personal to you, such as always improving performance, furthering the company's mission, making a positive overall impact, maintaining the best quality of your work, up-keeping team morale, successfully and reliably completing projects, etc.
9. "What gets you out of bed every day?"What's important with your answer is what's implied—employers don't care if you're into fly fishing or Baroque painting, they care about your personal values, well-roundedness, and dedication.
Although you can answer this question with a work-related passion, we suggest picking a hobby or "extracurricular," so to speak. Perhaps your passion is music – why does it make you tick?
10. "Do you have any questions for me?"They want something specific from you: to see if you've been paying attention and whether you can multitask. There's a lot of new information thrown at you in an interview, and the interviewer wants to see how well you've processed it all.
You should try to ask at least three questions at the end of your interviews, but don't just ask to ask. If you can easily Google it, don't ask it. We actually recommend you prepare some questions specific to the company in advance and memorize them. If your head is spinning at the end of your interview, you can refer back to them. At the very least, they will know you did your research. 

It also doesn't hurt to ask questions about what you can expect from the role. Think of questions like: "What's the biggest challenge you think I'll face coming into this position?" "Why did the last person leave the role?" "Who would I be working with on a daily basis, and what might an average day in the position look like?"

How to determine if a late-life career change is right for you

career path

These five steps will help you determine whether a late-life career change is right for you.

Making a career change at any age is a scary prospect. But making that change later in life—after you've developed skills, gained industry knowledge and forged a career path—is scarier than trying out something new in your twenties.
But just because something scares you doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Employees in the later stage of their career have likely developed passions and better understand the type of work that will make them happy.
You just need to be smart about your decision.
These five steps will help you determine whether a late-life career change is right for you.
1. Outline your regrets.
If you're on the fence about whether to make a career change, make a list of the regrets you will have if you don't pursue your passion. If the list is long—and well-reasoned—you should seriously consider making a switch.
2. Set goals.
Hating your current job is not a good enough reason to make a total career change. You need a definable goal. Career assessments can help you identify careers that interest you.
Identifying your reason for making a change will help with this process. If money in your biggest motivating factor, you should research the difference between your current salary and the earning potential of the field you are considering. If career fulfillment is your top priority, you will need to research career satisfaction levels in the field you are considering.
3. Identify skill and education gaps.
If you are considering a career change, it is possible that you lack some of the skills necessary for your ideal position. Check resources such as CareerBuilder's Explore Careers or the Occupational Outlook Handbook to determine the education, training and qualifications necessary to enter a given field.
Consider the extra cost of the education or training as well and whether you can afford the investment now.
4. Test the waters.
Before taking a leap and ending up in a field that is no more suited to you than the one you were previously in, it's important to feel out the space first. Conduct informational interviews with people currently working in the industry. Ask them what they like and dislike about the line of work and what they wish they would've considered before entering.
For more hands-on experience, consider volunteering in the field you are considering. The low-pressure environment will give you a feel for the day-to-day life of someone in that position. If it feels like a good fit, then you can make the leap.
5. Consider the length of time to success.
It's true that age is just a number. But when making a career change, the average time it takes to achieve success in a new field. You didn't achieve success in your first career overnight, and it likely won't be the case the second time either. If you're hoping to retire at a set age, it's important to know whether you have enough time to realize your goals before you intend to leave the workforce.

Top 10 careers to pursue if you’re an organizer

Could you see yourself employed in one of the following professions that are suited for individuals with strong organizational skills?

Are you usually the one in charge of planning group outings and parties? Do you always cross your t's and dot your i's? Do people rely on you to plan, schedule and keep track of details?
If you fit that description, chances are you're probably an organizer. CareerBuilder and Emsi have compiled a list of the top 10 organizer jobs the labor market needs based on their current number of jobs (at least 100,000), remarkable growth from 2011 to 2017 (9 percent or higher), and high annual salaries (25th percentile at least $53K).
Could you see yourself employed in one of the following professions that are suited for individuals with strong organizational skills?

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