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Job Hunting Zombie Style (What!?)

Job Hunting Zombie Style (What!?)
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Have you noticed that those tenacious, reanimated “Walkers” from AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead are usually more successful than not? They remind me of the mythical motto attributed to postal carriers: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Perhaps that description (or epitaph in this case) also applies to our Walkers. So begs the question: Can we learn anything from them regarding the job hunt?” I think we can.

Well-Defined Focus

If we think about the Walkers’ goals, we see that they know what they want and are singularly motivated. It’s simple; they “live” to eat. The living dead have a hunger that can’t be satisfied. Whether you are looking for a job because you aren’t happy with the one you’re in or you don’t have a job and you want one, the strategy is easy: Be The Zombie.

Tip 1: Increase self-awareness.

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Take some time to answer this question: What are five things that I can bring to a company? Jot those down (or better yet, add them to your job-hunting Notebook in Evernote—an indispensable job searching tool), then begin to view these five abilities of yours as marketable assets. Next, hone your search in terms of these keywords as you scan for job openings in newspapers, online job boards, or wherever you scavenge for flesh, er…I mean employment. For example, if one of your assets is “strong communication skills,” look for terms and concepts in a job posting where communication is key.

Once this process is finished, it’s time to beef up your resume (while remaining truthful of course) so that it will reflect those communication skills as well as the other four strengths you identified. If your education strongly supports your five abilities, put it at the top of your resume and list some specific ways the time you invested in school helped develop your talents in these areas. If your work history more strongly highlights your five assets, lead with that and make sure you pepper those keywords into a vivid description of the work you have done. Finally, before you land an interview, research the companies you most want to work for and do your best to understand what they need and how your skills are a match. Prepare interesting stories from your professional history that showcase your five areas of strength.

Knowing who you are and what you are about is important but remember this: The stray Walker almost always loses his head in the end. Keep reading to maximize resources such as your friends, family, and community.

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Herd Mentality (a.k.a. Networking)

Do you remember the scenes from the Walking Dead’s Season 2 finale, “Beside the Dying Fire?” The farm that had served as a semi-safe haven was overrun by hoards of Walkers. The sheer number of hungry undead was a Game Changer that scattered the fierce band of heroes. To get the best job at the best salary rate, you need a village, your village, to help you.

Tip 2: Prepare your references.

Keep your head in the game with a Walker-like mindset. Keep your five assets handy when you talk to people in your social circles. Ask your closest friends, family, and colleagues for examples of how they have seen you live these five skills in your personal and professional life. When you ask them for letters of references or for permission to put them on your resume (and you should get permission), ask them to speak to these strengths with clear examples when they write your letter or speak to the recruiter/interviewer.

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Now that you’re hungry and you’ve surrounded yourself with others who can support your career goals, you need to stand out—but not too much.

Look Alive

How many times have we witnessed that tense moment when a character is walking down a dark hallway all gussied up with corpses that appear to be dead, really dead, and then one of the Damned lurches with outstretched arms, open-mouth, gurgling, and lands a fresh meal. Sure, Walkers who prey together, stay together but in the end, it’s your mouth you’re trying to feed. The true art of finding a job is balancing the ability to appear normal and safe but at the same time show that you have an edge that makes you stand above the rest.

Tip 3: Curate your brand.

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Way back in Season 1, Rick and Glenn adorned themselves in zombie flesh in order to pass through a Walker herd undetected. Why? Because Walkers are wholly uninteresting to each other. When you are job hunting, you need to lose the stench of unfamiliarity and be able to be recognized by the person who is pursuing you.

Make sure you have good online hygiene by using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the rest to promote the five assets that you identified back in Tip 1. Blog and post about those interesting stories where your five assets came through. Share noteworthy content and connect to influencers in your field so that you make social media work for you and not against you. And take heart, even if your online identity is currently a little shaky, it is easier (and cheaper) to control what potential employers will find about you by populating the web with what you want others to see rather than trying to erase the older, embarrassing content.

Thankfully, we don’t live in a post zombie apocalypse but it is a dog eat dog world out there. Get to work on these three tips, stay relaxed, and enjoy the hunt!

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Featured photo credit:  pallid zombie against dark background via Shutterstock

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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