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20 Common Work Mistakes You May Have Been Making Every Day

20 Common Work Mistakes You May Have Been Making Every Day

You want to get ahead at work, but your journey to the top won’t have to take nearly as long if you stop making these common work mistakes.

1. Overworking.

According to the U.S. BLS, Americans are 400% more productive now than they were in 1950. And you want to prove your worth, so you pack on the projects just to show you’re capable of carrying the world (and maybe Venus, too) on your shoulders. But all you’re doing is draining your capacity to crank out the stellar work you need to produce. The more you work, the more stupid you become, making costly mistakes because of your decreased brain volume (thank you, stress).

Work less, but smarter.

2. Powering through.

In 2012, only one in five Americans left their desks for lunch. But working through your break decreases your productivity and your focus. When you take breaks, you give your brain the time it needs to recharge and refresh, and this is uncompromisable (especially in creative jobs).

If you feel you’re on a roll, jot down some memory-jogging notes and you’ll pick up exactly where you left off when you get back, steam gained, not lost.

3. Lack of sleep.

No matter how many times it’s been said, it’s never enough. Many of us just don’t like to sleep. We feel unproductive and slack. But in reality, NOT sleeping makes us less productive! Sleep strengthens our memory, allows us to prep mentally for the tasks ahead, and even regulates our metabolism, as reported by recent studies in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Stop shaving hours off your night, start adding quality to your work.

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4. Writing nonsense.

You may have a lot to say in that email to your colleague or boss, but avoid it. Chit-chat is the fastest way to get that email deleted instead of read. Leaders at the top of any powerful organization refuse to read or send long emails.

You want to send a pro impression. Keep your emails short (under 300 words) and to the point, and the recipient will love that you respect their time and will actually read it.

5. Slouching.

Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you get to slouch. Slouching is not only bad for your posture, it’s bad for your image. People perceive slouchers as slackers. Your posture influences how people perceive you, as well as how confident you are. Amy Cuddy and her famous TED Talk on power postures reveals there are physical changes that happen when we adopt a particular stance and that explains why we are perceived as leaders when we stand tall and straight.

You’re in this game to win it, so work on aligning those shoulders with your ears. You may even get a raise out of it.

6. Not looking at the big picture.

You work in an office, yes, but you still want to be a leader. Do you want your boss’s job? Do you want HIS boss’s job? Don’t resign yourself to the cubicle and wait for the Universe to drop a management or ownership position in your lap.

Learn how and why the leaders in your world make the decisions they make and train your brain to make decisions based on the “big picture”.

7. Rambling.

Say what you have to say and stop. Rambling makes you look like an amateur, at best. At worst? You look like a liar.

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Keep your conversations on point at all times to let your higher-ups know you mean business.

8. Looking for another job.

You might not be happy. Who would be with minimum wage and a boss with a bad attitude? But don’t look for another job while on the job you currently have. Accountemps uncovered that three out of 10 employees job hunt while on the job. Even if you’re not trying to get ahead in the office you’re in, you could bring demise faster than you planned, if you’re caught fishing off-shore.

9. Facebooking.

Facebook on company time? Salary.com surveyed employees and found that 41% are using Facebook at work. You know your boss is reading your posts, right? What do you suppose he thinks when he sees your “Delicious Mexican for lunch again today!” post? You think he’s thinking “Let’s give him a raise”? Nope. He’s wondering why you’re not pimping your company or already focusing on what you’re going to do after lunch.

10. Complaining.

Everyone has to vent. Do it when you get home. Venting at work makes you look like a nagger and a whiner, taking away points from your overall success score. Having a listening partner can do wonders for your ability to take crap in the office (making you look like the rockstar you are).

Set up a daily or weekly time to yell and scream to an objective third party who is simply going to listen and say, “I hear you. That is frustrating.”

11. Not communicating.

If you don’t talk to your team, how will they know what needs to be done? And if you and your colleagues are working on a project together, how will you figure out who does what? They’re not mind-readers. And you’re not telepathic. The National Association of IT Professionals reports that 28% of project failures are due to a lack of communication.

Work out a time for weekly meetings to get everyone on the same page. Your boss will love the initiative.

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12. Not controlling your voice.

Asking for a raise and having your voice crack right in the middle of your request is the fastest way to a denial of said request. Learn to speak confidently and clearly so you always come across as someone who knows his stuff. As Nick Morgan, author of “Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact,” points out, the richer and more resonate your voice, the more authoritative you sound. So ask with your leadership voice, letting your voice rise with passion and fall with authority, and you’ll stand a better chance of getting what you want.

13. Not prepping for meetings.

You don’t just breeze into the President’s office, totally unprepared to rebut any possible retort he might have about your project. Being unprepared is not only sophomoric, it shows a great disrespect for your position and your colleagues. Bye-bye raise, promotion, and big cushy chair.

Know everything you can possibly know about your boss’s needs and anticipate his questions/comments/inquiries so you can address them on the spot.

14. Playing games.

You cannot become VP by spending your days playing phone games like Candy Crush. Lay off the games. Focus on your work. Focus on the objectives your management team expects from you. But go even bigger than that. Focus on the things that would make you a superstar in their eyes. Push yourself to the next level.

15. Being too nice.

You can’t keep doing favors for your colleagues. You work hard, right? Make the rest of your team work hard, too. If you’re letting them skate by, then you’re nothing more than the office workhorse and the only thing you’ll get for it is that haggard, overworked look around the eyes.

When people ask you to do them favors, think very well about what you’ll gain from saying yes.

16. Not smiling.

Who said smiling is overrated? Making your co-workers feel valued is a trait that will take you to the next level. It shows you’re a team player. You work for the greater good. And Pryce-Jones reported that smiling and happy people at work are engaged in work-related activities 80% of the time, as opposed to the unhappy grumblers who are productive only 40%. And if you don’t feel like smiling, here’s evidence that says doing it anyway will make you happier. Win-win!

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17. Overusing your phone.

Using your phone at work could cost you your raise if you’re spending more time with it in your hand than your mouse (Hint: We know you’re playing Candy Crush again. Or, worse, you’re on Tinder.)

Avoid the urge to check your email, answer your mother (again), or surf the web by locking your phone in your drawer, only pulling it out at lunch and on breaks.

18. Not writing it down.

Being creative is a must. If you aren’t creative, you have no advantage over the other Nagging Nancy in the next cubicle over. And ideas have the habit of coming at horribly inopportune times, which means you probably won’t remember them.

Spend time each day coming up with ideas and write them down. Keep a notebook with you and write down every idea that comes to you. You’ll not only have a created a journal of wealth, but you will have developed one of the most powerful muscle in your body: the one that is going to carry you to the top in the business world.

19. Wearing multiple faces.

This is not high school. This is the real deal. Don’t waste your valuable time making friends with all feuding parties. Inevitably, if you get embroiled in the office drama, someone will stab you in the back. Be courteous to all, but don’t take your eyes off that trophy position.

In the end, avoid as much as you can of office politics or learn how to play the game more ethically than the rest.

20. Not dressing the part.

Want to be a success? Make them think you already are one. Whatever the style of your office is, step it up one notch. Even Neil Patel talks about how simply wearing a particular watch vetted him profits. It’s important to look the part you want to play. Period.

Invest in a wardrobe that will increase your value.

These common work mistakes are keeping you squarely positioned in your cubicle. Get out by vowing to make this the year you break your bad work habits and develop habits that will smash your competition.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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