Amber Little

Big Business Blog: a guide to work, life and happiness

Five Things Not to Say in an Interview March 28, 2011

Filed under: Tips for a successful career — Amber Little @ 10:44 pm
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Bleh, interviews.  Who needs em. Quite honestly, who likes interviewing?  Crazy people.  That’s who.  Sometimes, the mere act of even thinking about an upcoming interview can drive you crazy.  By the time the interview rolls around you may be lucky to remember your own name.  Or, your heel could get stuck in the elevator and you could fall on your kiester…aaaaahhhh, sweet memories.  ANYWHO, the best thing you can do is look good, appear confident, and avoid these lovely phrases that will definitely leave you looking like the north end of a south bound horse.

1)  My last boss was such an a-hole! This one is just bad to the core.  For one, the interviewer doesn’t have time to hear about how god awful your last boss was.  Two, by badmouthing your last boss, it shows that you may not be able to handle criticism well, you have a difficult personality, or you cannot handle professional relationships.  Three, it’s a small world out there…you never know who may know who these days!  Yikes.

2)  Wait…what does this company do again? Alrighty.  You took the time out of your day, and the interviewer’s day…so take 20 seconds to look up the company for pete’s sake.

3)  How much does this job pay? Although you may simply be curious, or you don’t want to waste your time with a job you feel is beneath you, don’t ask about salary.  It isn’t gonna sit well…salary negotiations (as well as vacation, benefits, sick time, and tuition reimbursement policies) typically take place after the job is offered to you.

4)  Nope, I don’t have any questions, bye! Not having thought of at least a few questions can be the kiss of death.  It shows that you are unprepared and not very interested.  Often times, an interviewer will be more impressed with your questions than your answers.

5)  I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of things I WON’T do. Oh, we’re all tempted.  But you don’t want to start out on the wrong foot, and this will surely do just that.

Good Luck!  And watch that frickin elevator, GOSH.

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Playing Sherlock March 27, 2011

Filed under: Tips for a successful career — Amber Little @ 10:54 pm
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I’ve heard a lot about the show “Undercover Boss”, but it wasn’t until tonight I caught my first episode.  The idea behind the show is to have a posh posh senior executive get off their office hams and go on an undercover mission to see what it’s really like to be the low man on the totem pole.  For example, tonight Bill Massa, the CEO of Synagro (the largest recycler of organic byproducts in the United States) got to wade in a 22 gallon tank of sludge, separated water from solids, and dredged a lagoon.  Massa of course found that getting his hands dirty and working alongside these hardworking people was quite an eye opener…he ended up donating $10,000 to St. Jude on behalf of an employee, established vision benefits, and even implemented a program that would fund employee efforts to quit smoking.

The idea behind this show is something we should always try to keep in mind as we progress in our careers.  It’s all too easy too easy to implement strategies and processes without taking a moment to see, first hand, how these decisions will affect the people that are actually doing the work.  It isn’t until we try out the process ourselves, and also get valuable input from others, that we can truly make good decisions. Moral of the story: get off those haunches once in awhile and see what kind of impact your decisions have on others.

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If we were all the same, oh what a boring world it would be… March 20, 2011

Filed under: Deep thoughts by Amber — Amber Little @ 1:47 pm
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I have a confession.  I have an unbelievable obsession with cheesy reality TV.  When I found out that there was a new Sister Wives in my dvr the other day, I just about did a cartwheel.  It’s about frickin time TLC.  In case you don’t know, Sister Wives is a reality show that documents the lives of a polygamist family in Utah.  I’m simply fascinated by this lifestyle…and when I found out there was a reality show about such a family, I just about peed.  How do these women not go into a crazy jealous rage on a daily basis?  How do they afford to raise 16 kids?  How do the kids feel about it?  How do they deal with the adversity?  How how how?!?  And after watching this show repeatedly (oh shut it, if you saw it you’d be hooked too) I realized that this family’s main goal was not to justify their lifestyle, but rather to send a message about tolerance.  Don’t get me wrong, I personally don’t agree with their choices, and I know that this particular family does not represent every polygamist family out there, but I do respect the message.

Tolerance is something this world needs more of.  We come across people every day that are different from us in one way or another.  It’s a wonderful thing to have a conversation with a person who has a different point of view from your own.  Rather than automatically dismiss every idea that is different from yours, why not try and get some perspective?  When you get a chance to have such a conversation, take a moment and ask about religious views, lifestyle choices, how they feel about certain medical procedures, or their attitudes towards women?

By being more tolerant and less critical, we become more open to new ideas, perspectives and understanding.  We are able to learn and broaden our outlook on life in a positive way, and appreciate different belief systems and practices of individuals or cultures.  And, we are also able to appreciate cheesy reality TV in an entirely different light.  So get with it TLC, I need another episode already.

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Oh Sweet Jesus, please tell me I didn’t reply to all… March 19, 2011

Filed under: Tips for a successful career — Amber Little @ 11:00 am
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Email etiquette…it’s a doozey.  It can literally make or break you.  Take it from someone who, right out of college, wrote an email which listed (in impressive detail I might add) why her coworker was beyond annoying….and since she had this annoying coworker on her brain, she then proceeded to send said email to said annoying coworker.  Now, thanks to her catlike reflexes and whining abilities, an IT guru on the premises was able to erase the message, and the crisis was averted…but holy s#!% Batman, that was close…and extremely unprofessional.  (Mind you, that little story TOTALLY wasn’t about me, in case anyone ever asks).  Anywho, the point of the story is you have to watch yourself when it comes to email.  Keep these things in mind next time you hit that send button to avoid a possible heart attack:

Don’t be stupid: I think that little story above is explanation enough.

Use your work email for work only: Don’t get in the habit of emailing friends or family from your professional email.  Your company has full legal rights to read all emails that you send and receive over their server (this includes emails sent from your personal accounts since it is still utilizing their server).  It’s simply not worth the worry and risk.

Remember to always be professional: It’s easy to become comfortable with coworkers…so comfortable that you may forget the need to write in a professional and courteous manner.  And who knows who will eventually read them.  Don’t let your emails create the wrong impression.

Don’t use that tone with ME! Tone is an iffy thing when it comes to email.  It’s pretty easy to convey a certain tone when you are speaking, however when you write it’s a whole different ball of wax.  A good rule of thumb is to always read back over your message to make sure you are coming across in a friendly and respectful way, even if you are dealing with a tool.

Watch that reply to all: this is a very frequent mistake in the workplace.  If you intend to reply with a sassy, obnoxious or confidential comment…better off to start a new email so the entire company doesn’t get your nice little message…or rather, how about you practice NOT acting your shoe size (easier said than done, I know…but it’s a work in progress).

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Train the dog, train the person. March 14, 2011

Filed under: Deep thoughts by Amber — Amber Little @ 9:44 pm
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As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of dogs.  Yeeeaaah that might be an understatement.  Dogs are the macaroni to my cheese, the peanut butter to my jelly…ok, you get the idea.  Anywho, last August I fostered a little Shih Tzu for the Nevada Humane Society.  He had been hit by a car and needed surgery to repair a broken leg.  This little guy was having a hard time in the shelter and needed a quiet and safe place to be nursed back to health.  Welp, needless to say little Buster is now a permanent member of the fam.

However, we soon discovered that we had a big problem.  Apparently after the drugs wore off, little Buster developed a bit of an attitude.  He reminded me of one of those cute little raptors in Jurassic Park.  Of course, his Velociraptor-like behavior was far from acceptable, so I enrolled him in a training class.  On our first day, I looked around the room to see a number of different dogs, large and small.  A yellow lab, a Chihuahua, a Poodle-Yorkie mix, a Great Pyrenees, a Lhasa Apso…and a bunch of silly humans.  As the class got underway, I realized that this was not so much about training the dogs, it was about training us…and they had it right!  Dogs respond to the signals and behavior that we are projecting.  Once we learn how to modify our ways, the dogs respond accordingly.

This got me to thinking…can we apply the same logic when it comes to dealing with people?  Could it be possible that we are inadvertently giving off signals that cause people around us to react in a negative way?  Here are some helpful tidbits I picked up in puppy class that may help you interact with others, whether they have two legs or four.

Be patient. Everyone is unique and moves at a different pace.

Be kind. This goes hand in hand with being patient.  If you feel you are getting frustrated, take a breather and start again when you are calm.

Reward good behavior. We always make a huge deal when things are done incorrectly…but it is much more important and beneficial to reinforce and praise positive behavior.

Be clear. Make sure your dog/person understands you.  If not, change your method.

Be consistent. This is a big one!  Once you find a method that works, stick to it.  Constant change will cause constant confusion.

Pay attention to your tone and body language. Do you have an aggressive tone? Do you avoid eye contact?  Do you have a closed off stance?  Are you frowning?  Switch it up.  Research suggests that nonverbal signals can account for up to 80% of all communication.

Be Generous. Allocate lots of time for training, and don’t be stingy with the treats.

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Me, myself…and that crazy stressed out nutcase. March 13, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living Tips — Amber Little @ 8:18 am
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Work…and life…can be flat out stressful sometimes.  Whether you work at home, in an office, in a school, construction, or a factory (though maybe not the Jelly Belly factory, I’ve always thought that would be a lovely place to spend my days) stress can really get your goat.  Don’t get me wrong, some stress is good…it can motivate you to do your best work and make you stronger.  However, too much stress can hurt you both emotionally and physically.  It can affect your work life, and it can carry over into your home life.  Ho hum.

The key to managing your stress levels is to know what kind of stress personality you have.  Yep, we all have one…and the sooner you identify which one you are, the sooner you can manage it before things get obnoxious.

The Pleasey Pleaserson: This stress personality type always wants to say yes, always wants to make people happy, never wants to disappoint.  However, by not saying no every now and then, you are setting yourself up for failure…and unnecessary stress.  You can only handle so much there, tiger.  Remember that it’s ok (and healthy) to say no once in awhile.

The Worry Wart: This stress personality always thinks the sky is falling.  They constantly question their abilities and expect the worst.  Often times they feel that worry is a good thing since they will be prepared when disaster strikes (don’t feel bad, I’ve always been a worry wart).  While over preparing yourself can be beneficial, worrying about every little thing will hinder your abilities to focus on the main issues.  You don’t always have to sweat the small stuff.

The Driver: This is the most appealing stress personality.  We all like the idea of success, and the driver spends every last waking moment trying to get ahead.  This is an admirable quality, however it can really take a toll on your personal life.  Remember that it’s important to take some time to spend with your friends and family without sneaking in work.

The Controller: This stress personality type has a hard time delegating.  They want to micromanage every little detail for fear someone else will screw it up.  By constantly doing this, you are not utilizing resources that could make your life a whole lot easier.  I know it pains you, but try and let others help you once in awhile.  You’ll be glad you did…unless they ruin EVERYTHING.  Mooohahahaha!  I know, I’m awful.  I can’t help it.

The Busy Bee: This stress personality can never just sit the hell down.  They feel that they always have to be busy and productive.  It is that person that is always dusting and vacuuming when Shark Week is on (that’s right, I’m talkin’ to you MOM).  Although being productive is obviously a good thing, sometimes you just need to take a moment and relax, enjoy your day…and stop ruining the best week of the year.

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Are you a Hot Mess Online? March 6, 2011

Filed under: Tips for a successful career — Amber Little @ 12:55 pm
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Many of us don’t even think about it.  It wasn’t until very recently, when I enrolled in a personal branding class, that I began to give more than a second thought to my online presence…which is scary.  Sure, I don’t want those drunken pictures of me dancing shirtless on the bar (oh come on, I’m joshin with ya).  But other than that, I really never gave much thought to what was out there…other than a picture that made my nose look big…we can’t have THAT, can we now.  But really…why is it that more people could give a crap about the image they are putting out there for the world to see?  Shouldn’t we only want to project positive things about ourselves?

I know we all live in this happy little world where we think that if we make our facebook page private (a site that is well known for being plagued with security loopholes mind you), only our friends can see the shenanigans we are up to.  And even if that WERE to be true…last time I checked most people have anywhere from 30 to 500 friends.  You can’t tell me that you would want 30 people to see some of the stuff you are putting out there, let alone 500 people.  And let’s be honest…you don’t REALLY know all of those people.

More importantly, would you want your boss or potential employer to see all of this nonsense?  What you need to know is more and more businesses are checking your facebook page to get a glimpse of your social habits, and this includes your current employers. Your boss, or future boss, can QUITE EASILY get a hold of your password see those posts of the night when you were victoriously riding that mechanical bull while impressively balancing that Corona.  Nice.

Moral of the story?  Operate online as if you have no privacy…because in all reality you don’t.

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