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Here Comes Careertopia!

We’ve noticed something.

And we simply can’t ignore it anymore.

Over the past few months, we’ve been paying special attention to reader feedback, blog comments, our social media conversations, and news stories about employee job dissatisfaction.

These sources have revealed that you are likely looking for something. In some cases, desperately hunting it.

And just what is it you’re looking for?

Careertopia.

Yes, we made that word up.

But it’s okay to make up a word….as long as you also make up its definition, right?

So here’s how we define Careertopia:

  • When your projects, clients and coworkers generally energize you, instead of constantly draining you, you’ve found your Careertopia.
  • When you have a sense of accomplishment at work and feel fulfilled most every day, you’ve found your Careertopia.
  • When you wake up on Monday mornings, enthused about your week ahead (and it’s not because of your cute new coworker) you’ve found your Careertopia.

Careertopia is what you experience when your strengths, motivations, and values align with your job, your team, and your work environment.

Obviously, it’s a great place to be.

And we want to help you get there.

So – as of January 29th – we’re undergoing a transformation.

Our blog will move over to MyCareertopia.com, and will begin featuring articles along these lines:

We’ll be sharing the concepts, advice and tools that will help you get more fulfillment from your career, without having to sacrifice who you are.

So if you’ve spent some time in your current job, but can’t help wondering, “Is it possible to build a career that pays the bills AND makes me happy?”

The answer is yes. Most assuredly. And we will show you how to do it.

If you’re not already subscribed, just click the image below to sign up for our weekly updates.

In addition, you could win a Kindle Fire HD. Sweet! We’ll be randomly selecting a winner from our new subscribers next week. Stay tuned!

 Are We There Yet?

If you’ve already found your Careertopia….woo-hoo! Congrats!

That makes you more fortunate than about half the folks you know.

And you know what they’d really like to hear about?

How to find their Careertopia.

You don’t want to deny them the career happiness and fulfillment you’re experiencing, do you?

You’d better share this with them. They’ll thank you for it!

Rock That Job Interview Like Wonder Woman


Did you know that standing like Wonder Woman – feet apart, hands on hips, gaze slightly upward – before your job interview can increase your chance of success?

Or that kicking back in a feet up, hands-behind-your-head position helps you exude more confidence and express yourself more authentically a few minutes later?

But the secret is, well, doing it in secret.

The posing is prep you do for a power boost before your big moment. You don’t want to do it with an audience.

In her TED talk last spring, Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy shared fascinating work on “power posing” and how your body position influences your brain.

[Cuddy's TED talk, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are" is embedded below this post.]

A social psychologist, Cuddy found herself observing what she calls the “power nonverbals” of MBA students in her classroom at Harvard.

She saw behaviors ranging from stereotypical alpha-style actions like spreading out and taking up space, to the non-power postures of other students who Cuddy says were “virtually collapsing on themselves”.

Her observations drove a number of questions, leading to her research.

We already know that our non-verbals govern how others think and feel about us.

But Cuddy set out to learn if those same non-verbals could govern how we think and feel about ourselves.

Could standing in a powerful-looking position for two minutes be impactful enough to make a person feel more powerful? Enough to cause them to behave more powerfully a short while later?

Turns out, it can.

In her lab research – which included job interview scenarios – Cuddy found that power posing increased a person’s presence in stressful, evaluative situations.

Subjects who had privately performed high-power poses for two minutes prior to a challenging job interview scenario were evaluated more highly than the subjects who practiced low-power poses.

Cuddy reports that the increased feeling of power that develops from using high-power poses makes us appear more passionate, enthusiastic, confident, captivating, and more comfortable being our authentic selves.

She states, “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

So before you go into another stressful, evaluative situation – like a job interview – try striking one of the high-power poses she shares in the video.

Just be sure to leave your lasso of truth at home.

Image courtesy of Julian Fong.

Six Steps to Boost Your Confidence

When your confidence goes up, your competence goes up.

Confidence is the single most important human ability. In fact, all other desirable abilities need confidence as a foundation. People with confidence can overcome, learn, transform and accomplish anything.

And, like any ability, confidence can be learned, mastered and applied any time you start to feel a crisis of confidence.

If you ever struggle with self-confidence, here are six helpful ways to build it up:

Review your accomplishments

You’ve already achieved some successes in your life, right?

List them, identify why they were important and identify the skills and strengths you’ve used to succeed.

Seek new knowledge

If you’re lacking any of the skills you need to achieve your goals, focus on learning them.

This process will remind you that you’re capable of growth, and mastering the skills will give you a mental boost.

Face your fears

Too often we sabotage our self-confidence by hiding from what frightens us.

Train yourself to identify and examine your fears so you can take action against potential setbacks. Be more powerful than what you’re trying to avoid.

Adjust your thought patterns

Avoid negative thinking, such as all-or-nothing thoughts (“If I don’t get this job, I’ll be a total failure”), seeing only the downside (“I finished the project, but what if people see how tough it was for me?”), jumping to conclusions (“Bob didn’t reply to my email—he hates me”), or putting yourself down.

Train yourself to see the positives in every situation. Practicing a daily gratitude ritual can help train your brain into automatically seeing the positive.

Pay attention to your appearance

You don’t have to buy a lot of expensive suits, but devoting some time to your wardrobe, hair, and overall grooming can pay off by making you feel better about how you present yourself. A neat, professional look inspires confidence from others, and helps you feel better about your prospects.

Know what you want

Vague goals won’t inspire your best efforts. You’ll feel more confident and capable with a clear idea of what you want to achieve in your life and career, and if those goals are what you want—not someone else’s idea of what’s important.

Image courtesy of Victor1558.

Non-Sucky Team Building Events? Yes, Please!

Uh-oh. It’s that time of year again.

When the boss sends out a chirpy email informing you about an upcoming team building event. You fear it could take some illegal stimulants to keep you from nodding off during yet another whiteboard problem solving exercise.

Yes, traditionally, team building exercises have consisted of little more than a dreary (or irritatingly perky) corporate coach drilling participants on what they would do if their colleagues were drowning. Hardly inspirational stuff.

But there’s a new breed of team building specialists in the mix. They take a different approach.

And you might be surprised to learn that team building can actually be fun – and of genuine benefit to you and your work mates.

How? Let’s look at some of the new wave of team building activities to give you an idea of what to expect.

Anyone Seen The Boss?

Kidnapping games are probably not the first thing that spring to mind when you think “positive team building exercise.”

But “Corporate Kidnap” is both fun and valuable in helping to promote good communication, problem solving, strategic thinking, leadership, and negotiation. This exercise involves team members working together to find and interpret clues while getting through a series of challenges to locate their kidnapped colleague.

It’s not a race or a competition. Groups work at their own pace and are each assigned roles to help solve the mystery. Every group has their own important role to play in finding the kidnapped director, boss or manager.

And who hasn’t fantasized about their boss disappearing at some stage in their working life?

Working or Working Out?

Another popular way of conducting team building exercises is through sport.

Here in Melbourne, kayaking adventures can be held right in the heart of the city.

This event includes an introduction to paddling techniques, lunch ‘on deck’ and a guided tour of the city by water. This activity provides a great forum in which to get to know your workmates better, while promoting fitness, fun, and inspiration.

Also in this new breed of team building exercises you can find Paparazzi Games, “Amazing Race” style events, rally driving, clay shooting, and corporate olympics.

Way more interesting than just having lunch together, isn’t it?

What’s In It for Me?

These kind of team building activities are a way to provide high-impact learning while increasing team skills and communications.

They can help break down barriers between individuals, and often, people who are not used to working together get a chance to participate and work as a team.

Additionally, they improve morale, productivity, and profitability. Which is why your managers plan them in the first place.

But individual team members get something out of it, too.

You gain a sense of accomplishment from working as part of the group to complete a challenging task. And you get to do it in an entirely different environment than your day-to-day activities. Maybe even see some sunshine while you do it.

And even when you really don’t expect it to, team building experiences send you back to the office reinvigorated, with a new set of problem-solving skills. We’ve seen some of the most skeptical participants learn, benefit, and even smile by the end of the day.

Sounds considerably more enticing than sitting on a plastic chair for an eight hour lecture, doesn’t it?

About the author:  Belinda Darling is a copywriter and blogger for Uplift Events. She has studied at the University of Melbourne for 4 years and has worked with various Team Building agencies in her journey. When Belinda’s not blogging she still loves to write fabulous restaurant reviews, and regularly updating her Facebook is a must.

Image courtesy of ktylerconk

How to Survive the Office Holiday Party With Your Job (and Dignity) Intact

The office Christmas party can be a uniquely dangerous event for the office worker.

A recent survey by The Creative Group has highlighted just how extreme some employees’ behavior can be.

In the survey of 750 phone interviews, advertising and marketing executives were asked to recall the most outrageous thing they have heard of an employee doing at a company event.

Here are a few lessons learned from their findings that might help you navigate these festive minefields without too negative an impact on your career prospects, or bringing abject humiliation upon yourself.

Don’t Leave With More Than You Brought

People have been known to bring Tupperware boxes to office parties in order to cheekily smuggle away spare food. Yes, we’re serious.

And while sneaking out leftovers is one thing, taking the opportunity to pillage the office of its supplies (this does also happen) is a great way to land yourself in a spot of trouble.

The opposite rule is also valid. It’s probably best if you don’t leave with fewer items than you came with – particularly with regards to items of clothing. Our advice would be to ensure that you leave with exactly the items you brought.

If you’re still worried, perhaps consider a checklist and/or some sort of inventory system?

It’s Not an Opportunity to Offer Feedback

The Christmas party is not an acceptable time to suggest how your company could be better run.

These ideas are best left for a controlled situation when you can prepare some helpful suggestions as to what the company could improve and articulate them clearly and effectively.

Leave feedback for when you haven’t been drinking tequila…everybody will benefit this way.

Don’t Go Overboard with Your Plus-Ones

Some employees have taken the ‘you may bring a guest’ rule a little too far.

Believe it or not, their survey revealed a list of unconventional guests, including whole families, cocker spaniels and even a python.

You don’t want to take advantage of your boss’ generosity. So it’s advisable you keep your plus-ones down to a single loved one, and try to make sure they’re human. That’s just more acceptable.

If All Else Fails, Remember it Could Be Worse

If you do wake up the day after with a terrible hangover, a red face, and deep regrets, you could still consider yourself lucky.

After all, you probably didn’t drive a golf cart into a river. Or ride a Ferris wheel in the nude. Both of which were reported to have happened at office Christmas parties before!

However, if your actions rivalled these, then I’m afraid you may be beyond help. Career change, anyone?

Avoid Propositioning Anyone

The survey did reveal that it’s not all chaos and destruction, however.

One worker reported that two of his colleagues got engaged at a Christmas party.

A word of caution though; unless you are involved in a long-term committed relationship with a colleague, please don’t propose to them. It won’t go down well.

About the Author: Peter Ames wishes you happy holidays on behalf of Office Genie, a UK marketplace for desk and office space.

Image courtesy of Aussiegall

5 Mobile Apps to Help Balance Work and Family

For most of us, balancing the competing needs of career and family is a constant struggle.

It’s hard to be productive in either sphere if you can’t leave work at work, and home at home.

Smartphones and tablets often cause the two to become even more enmeshed—but you can also make your smartphone an ally in your effort to maintain a healthy separation and balance.

Here are a few of my favorite apps to stay productive when it’s time to work, and then be fully present at home.

1. Chore Hero (iOS)

It can be exhausting to spend all day organizing and motivating employees, and then come home and have to wrangle your kids into doing their chores as well.

Chore Hero actually manages to turn chores into a game, with a list you create to ensure each task gets completed by the person you want—or you can set up a weekly or monthly rotation. Rewards and “achievements” are a fun way to insert a little game psychology into your kids’ daily chores. (Cost: $2.99)

2. CrunchTime (iOS)

CrunchTime gets top billing because it can really help you figure out where you are putting your time and if you’re focusing too much on one thing.

Use it to keep track of jobs and projects, and how long they are really taking you. Keep track of overtime, friend and family work schedules, and send and even record information on your mood, weight, and even vacation goals.

The price tag is pretty hefty, as apps go, but it’s a great first step in beginning to take control of your family and work life. (Cost: $19.99)

3. Google Drive (Android, iOS)

Google Drive is a favorite around the office when it comes to free cloud services. Use it to store documents and files for each aspect of your life.

Create folders and give access and permissions to work colleagues or family members to allow you to work on presentations or grocery lists. Keeping things organized helps you get your mind onto more important and immediate challenges, so use the cloud to help you keep things sorted.

This app was first designed for Android, and Apple users reported a few more interface bugs. We tested the app on T-Mobile HTC phones without any trouble, but you might have a different experience on an iPhone or iPad. (Cost: free)

4. Epicurious (Android, iOS)

It’s been long argued that one of the greatest ways to solidify a family is around the dinner table. However for many of us in the workforce, the thought of spending an hour or more preparing a meal for our family seems daunting.

Let Epicurious help out. This app can help you easily and quickly plan meals, create grocery lists based on those meals, and provide step by step instructions to master dinner-time. Creating a home-made meal is also often a healthier choice, and healthy living helps you to reduce stress and enjoy the free time you have with your family more. (Cost: free)

5. Cozi Family Calendar (Android, iOS)

We’re a big fan of Google Calendar at work and in our family, but the Cozi Family Calendar takes the cake when it comes to managing appointments, creating shopping lists, and managing house-hold tasks.

Create and share events and errands, phone numbers and other important family information all from one convenient and well laid-out application. Create multiple users to give everyone in your family access to relevant information, and let them take some of the work load from you. (Cost: free)

Shawna Davies has a talent for organization and putting new technology to work. She reviews small business tech for Going Cellular, with a focus on cloud computing. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and teenage son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.

Image courtesy of Nimbuzz

10 Over-the-Top Creative Ways To Land a New Job

 

Job hunting usually isn’t much fun. Sending out hundreds of applications makes the jobs all begin to run together.

And for the hiring managers? All the applicants can begin to seem the same, too.

But there are some creative individuals out there who didn’t stop at simply sending out copies of their resumes and waiting for the best. They went a bit over-the-top, and many of them  got exactly what they were hoping for.

Here are ten people who successfully landed jobs, and who have a creative, entertaining, story to boot.

1. Pay Attention – Jim Kukral

When Jim Kukral sat down for an interview at an advertising agency, he found himself in an office wallpapered with post-it notes.

His interviewer, the company president, explained that that was how he did his work and remembered things, be it a client’s name or an item to purchase after work.

After the interview, Kukral knew that he had a winning idea for a follow-up note.  He bought several packs of post-it notes and a piece of posterboard, and spent the evening “wallpapering” the posterboard with post-its listing his good qualities. The idea paid off and he was offered the job, though he did turn it down in favor of another opportunity.

2. Use Your Social Media Contacts – Mark Edwards

When a popular blogger decided to interview some job seekers on her blog, many people applied, hoping the exposure would land them a job.

Mark Edwards tweeted at the blogger in hopes of being featured, and it paid off! He landed a job at a media company. How’s that for return on a 140 character limit?

3. Targeted Advertising – Marian Schembari

Dreaming of a job at a publishing house, Marian Schembari turned to the ultra-targeted medium of Facebook ads.

She narrowed the ads to target only employees at several specific publishing houses – HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin, etc. – and after spending only about $100 she landed some freelance work, made contact with representatives from each company, and gained notoriety that will continue to follow her in her career endeavors.

4. Your Name in Adwords – Alec Brownstein

Going off a similar concept, but using a different medium, Alec Brownstein learned the names of NYC’s top advertising directors.

Then, he spent a grand total of $6 to buy Google Ads that would show at the top of any “vanity searches” by those directors – that is, when they Googled their own name, his ad was the first thing that appeared. He landed a job with one of those advertising companies, who were surely praising his creativity!

5. Outdoor Advertising – Pasha Stocking

After being laid off from a job in marketing, Pasha Stocking did what any marketing-savvy and somewhat desperate job seeker would do – she launched a campaign:  HirePasha.com.

She bought advertising on a billboard in a highly-trafficked area of I-95 in Connecticut, and was surprised with the results. As the job offers kept rolling in, she decided to found her own company, PR/Bar.

6. Threaten Emigration – Féilim Mac An Iomaire

Faced with the prospect of having to leave his home country of Ireland in order to find work, Féilim Mac An Iomaire decided to throw up a huge advertisement, like Pasha Stocking did above.

His billboard, however, touched a chord that Stocking’s did not.

Reading “Save Me From Emigration,” the advertisement spoke to a growing problem in Ireland, faced by thousands of other young Irish graduates who will have to leave to find employment. The so-called “Jobless Paddy” managed to escape this fate, however, landing a job with Paddy Power.

7. Win The Game – Tim Schafer

Surprisingly, the widely-acclaimed video game designer Tim Schafer initially had a hard time getting a job in the industry.

After bombing a phone interview with Lucasfilm Games (during which he inadvertently revealed he had pirated a game of theirs), Tim was told to send in his resume.

Figuring he had nothing to lose, Schafer crafted a cover letter in the form of a LucasArts adventure game, with storyboards that showed him getting the job. They responded by sending him a letter stating that they were pleased that he had accepted the position!

8. Do It Backwards – Andrew Horner

Sick of sending in applications that seemed to go nowhere, Andrew Horner decided to turn the whole process on its head. So he created the Reverse Job Application.

Instead of sending out resumes to companies, he asked the companies to apply for him. While it might sound somewhat narcissistic on the surface, the stunt succeeded and landed him a job after two interview-packed weeks.

9. Bring Out the Fake Moustache – Matthew Epstein

Armed with a creative campaign idea and a fake moustache, Matthew Epstein set out to land a job in Google’s marketing department by creating the website GooglePleaseHire.Me.

After an intense month during which he received 80 interview offers, Epstein was turned down by Google, but signed on with the startup SigFig.

But he’s not disappointed – Epstein says on his website, “If Google extended an offer to me I honestly may have declined in order to take the job at SigFig.”

10. Hack Facebook – Chris Putnam

Chris Putnam set his sights high for a prank – he wanted to hack Facebook. And he succeeded.

With the help of two friends, he created a worm that spread through the site and restyled people’s profiles to make them look like ugly Myspace profiles.

He was contacted by someone at Facebook, who told him that the prank was funny, but it was deleting contact info, which wasn’t cool. They kept talking, and it led to an interview at Facebook, where Putnam now works.

Adrienne Erin is a writer and blogger for Pongra. She worked for four years at the career development office at Vista College, an accredited online college, and continues to evaluate resumes for a local charity. When she’s not blogging, you might find her practicing her French, whipping up some recipes she found on Pinterest, or obsessing over vintage postcards and stamps.

 

Image courtesy of Shawn Collins.

11 Surefire Ways to Become Happier at Work

Today we’re featured on Shake Off The Grind. If you’d like to read the entire post, click  the link to visit their site. Thanks!


If you’re not heading into work with a spring in your step, it might be time to stop wishing for things to change and begin creating some happiness instead.

A leader in the scientific study of well-being, author Sonja Lyubomirsky advocates the phrase “creation of happiness” to the more popular “pursuit” of it. Her research suggests that happy individuals are more creative, helpful, charitable, and self-confident.

One key to creating more happiness is outlined in The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. In the book, Achor overviews fascinating research, concluding that “What we spend our time and mental energy focusing on can indeed become our reality.”

Aristotle defined happiness as “eudaimonia” which translates to “human flourishing.” Don’t you like the sound of that?

If you’re interested in becoming happier at work – or maybe even flourishing? – here’s how to do it:

Continue reading…..

Image courtesy of epSos.d.

5 Ways to Increase Your Job Satisfaction

How satisfied are you at work?

While many employees today are grateful to have a paycheck in a tight economy, that doesn’t mean job satisfaction is off the charts.

Management may have little time or inclination to bolster your satisfaction levels; it’s sometimes up to you.

So here are five ways to help move you in the right direction:

Improve Your Environment

A disorganized work environment makes every task more difficult.  And looking around at dull walls do nothing for anyone’s mood.

So start to improve your day-to-day enjoyment of your job by making your environment as pleasant as possible. If you have a cubicle or office, clean and organize the entire area. Get an attractive desk set as well as shelf organizers and baskets. Even if you work in a retail establishment or restaurant, you can organize your general area to make it a more efficient work space.

Become a Mentor

Recapture that excited feeling you had when you first started your job by becoming a mentor at work.

Find a new employee or trainee and volunteer to take him under your wing. Make it your project to turn this neophyte into a great team member.

Teach him all the little tricks you’ve taken years to learn, and clue him in on the corporate culture and ways to rise in the company. You’ll get a sense of pride for a job well done by watching your trainee improve on a weekly basis.

Practice Gratitude

It’s not always easy, but finding the little things about your job that make you happy can go a long way. There are good things all around you, if you work at noticing them.

Start every morning searching for gratitude and keep that feeling throughout the day.

Your job may be dull or stressful, but at least it’s paying the bills, allowing you to indulge in hobbies and down time and offering social occasions with fellow employees.

Whether it’s a fun group you eat lunch with every day, or a customer who always gives you a sunny smile, there is something good about every job that can make you feel a bit better about being there. You just have to find it.

New Challenges

If you feel that your job is dull and boring, it may be because you’re not challenged any more.

Few people are bored when they first start a new job. There is too much to learn, too many new skills to master.

But now, you may be feeling complacent because nothing new ever happens in your workplace. Give yourself a new challenge in your job. Volunteer to learn a new skill or job rating. Take on the task of organizing the company picnic or holiday party. Put together a company weight-loss competition. Get involved with something new and completely different from your daily tasks to perk up your interest in your everyday work.

Make It Less Important

Unless you’re working at your ultimate dream career, your job is sometimes just a means to an end. You might choose to spend your time working at a job you don’t enjoy because it’s just a stepping stone to something better.

If you feel this way, try to to focus on the good things that the job brings to your life outside the office. While you should always do the best job possible, it’s not necessary to make the job the most important part of your life.

Do a mental downgrade and start focusing on what you truly enjoy. Look at your daily tasks as a way to earn money for vacations, or the ticket to getting those flying lessons. Or even as a necessary stop before going on to crafts with your children. Take the importance out of your job and the stresses may seem less important.

The most important thing to remember is that you play a big role in your job satisfaction levels. You’ll be happier and healthier if you change your actions and attitudes, making your day run as smoothly as possible before getting on to the truly important parts of your life.

Dunya Carter is a marketing and recruitment specialist from Brisbane, Australia. She writes on topics related to business and career development for several websites and blogs. She is currently working for Ochre Medical Recruitment as a consultant.

Image courtesy of Glen Wright.

22 Killer Personal Development Resources You’re Missing Out On

We’re pleased to be featured on Lifehack today. If you enjoy the intro below, just click through to read the rest.


You’ve got the personal development itch once again.

You know the feeling. Maybe you want to be more productive, finally tackle that goal of yours, or start waking up earlier.

So you go to Google or your favorite personal development blogs. Maybe if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for you try searching for a Youtube video or ask your Facebook friends if they know of any good sites.

And that’s it. You’ve exhausted your resources and don’t know where else to look.

Sometimes you find what you need, but you still have a sense that there’s got to be more. That you don’t know – what you don’t know.

And that’s where you get stuck. Wanting more, but just not knowing where to find it.

Continue reading…..

 

Image courtesy of Sharon Mollerus