6 Ways to Expand Your Cultural Knowledge

The more global the world becomes, the more diversified the workplace becomes. This means working with and understanding a variety of people from other cultures. Expanding your cultural knowledge will become even more important in the future.

In my own business I work with people in over 20 countries on a daily basis, so I get to learn a lot from them about their culture and how business works in their own countries. It\’s been a great crash course in international business that I couldn\’t get from going to college.

I\’ve been told that you really master a foreign language if you\’re able to speak to them using their own slang. Imagine someone in an office jokingly telling an employee to \”keep their nose to the grindstone\”. Someone from another culture who took that literally might be really frightened off by it. And every part of each country has their own slang. [Read more…]

Teen Summer Jobs

I remember as a teenager I couldn’t wait to get to work and start making my own money. Since I couldn\’t get a regular job until I turned 16, I was willing to mow grass, babysit, and sell whatever products I could door to door. Along with earning my own money came a certain amount of freedom. I could spend or save as much as I made. Most of the time I spent it. But boy, was it fun.

Once I turned 16 I worked at least 2 jobs and still kept up good grades. Eventually I had saved up enough to buy my first car. But today teens are having a hard time even finding one job. In 1978 the employment to population ratio went from a high of about 50% for teens 16-19. Today it\’s at a low at about 30%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Part of the reason for that could be that teens are staying in school and not dropping out, or it could be that there are simply fewer summer jobs available. Many of the jobs are taken by adults who need the work to feed their families and can\’t find regular positions. Many small businesses are too nervous about healthcare and regulations and are cutting down on hiring full time positions.

But there is also a shift in attitude about work. Because the competition is going to be so fierce for them in the job market, many are going to summer school or taking unpaid internships to get a head start and boost their resumes. There\’s nothing wrong with that. But there is also a lot to be said for the value of a paycheck. And that money will come in handy if they do decide to go to college.

I never went to college, but I think that working all of those jobs early on did help prepare me and get me interested in being an entrepreneur.


Job Interview Tips – Body Language

  • Avoid fidgeting – Fidgeting might be a harmless habit unless you\’re in a job interview. Adjusting your tie, playing with your hair, or tapping a pen can be seen by an employer as the traits of an impatient person and can also be seen as being insecure. The best way to avoid it is to be in the moment and be aware of it. Have something else to do with your hands like keeping them firmly in your lap, while occasionally gesturing.
  • Improve your posture – Good posture shows you are confident and sure of yourself. Slouching in your chair can come across as either lazy or too aggressive. It also shows a disrespect for the interviewer and will make you seem like you aren\’t interested in the job. Practice improving your posture and being very aware of it in an interview. If you\’re really interested in the job you will probably naturally straighten up and pay more attention. If you want to make an even better impression, lean in slightly and show enthusiasm for the job.
  • Don\’t invade someone\’s personal space – This one always kind of surprises me, because I would think it would come naturally. But I saw it all the time in job fairs. Sometimes job seekers would get unnaturally close to the recruiters and I could tell they weren\’t comfortable with it. A good rule of thumb is to keep the same distance you would if you extended your hand for a handshake. Wait for their signals instead of jumping in ahead of them. Let them do the leading.
  • Keep your arms uncrossed – This can be seen as a sign of hostility or negativity. I\’ve been accused of doing this myself, even though I don\’t mean it to be a sign of hostility or negativity. Again, be aware if you do it and catch yourself. Have something else to do with your hands, like resting them on a notepad in your lap. Just don\’t tap your pen on it.
  • Mirror their behavior – This is a beginning exercise that\’s used by actors. But it has to be done very subtly so the interviewer doesn\’t catch on. Especially make sure you match their tone. If they\’re serious in tone, don\’t crack jokes. Just naturally fall into their rhythm and it will seem like you are both on the same page.
  • If you really want to improve your body language, tape yourself in some mock interviews with a friend. Play it back and you might be surprised how often you make body language mistakes. Keep practicing until it becomes normal and then try it out on job interviews you don\’t really want. Then when you get to your dream job interview you should have your job search body language perfected.      

    Why Didn’t HR Call Me Back?

    Out in the dating world it’s a common complaint. “Why didn’t he or she call back?” But the same thing happens in the job market, as job seekers are left wondering “Why didn’t HR call me back?”. The interview went well, you think they liked you, but then you never hear from them again. It’s hard not to take it personally.

    This problem has always existed, but it’s even worse now with so many people out of work and for much longer periods of time. Here are a few reasons they may not be calling back:

    • They are overwhelmed – One reason they may not be calling back could be that HR departments are completely overwhelmed right now. Many of them are barely able to handle the applicants and interviews they have, and they just don’t have the time to respond to everyone that applies. It should be up to you to follow up. Start with a personal, hand written thank you note and follow up a couple of weeks later with a quick email. If you don’t hear back after that you can probably guess that they have either found someone else or decided to delay filling the position.
    • Position was eliminated – With the way things are changing so quickly these days, they may have even eliminated the position. It’s also a possibility that their position was eliminated or they were moved into another department or transferred.
    • Your contact information was wrong – It’s also possible that you had the wrong email or phone number on your resume. A couple of times I have looked for someone’s resume because I wanted to contact them and the email or phone number was wrong. That’s why it’s especially important to follow up so there is no way they won\’t have your info right there and handy.

    Whatever the case, to the job seeker, who is putting in so much time and energy into finding a job, a quick email would at least let them know that the job is no longer open and they can move on to something else. It’s up to you not to wait too long for that to happen. Keep moving, and eventually the numbers game will be in your favor.

    The Job Market is Still a Buyer’s Market

    A buyer’s market is when supply exceeds demand. This means that purchasers have an advantage over sellers and can negotiate lower prices. We usually hear this term applied to the housing market when the buyers have the advantage over sellers in the market and have their pick of choices at lower prices. Like the housing market, the term buyer’s market can also apply to the job market and right now the job market is still a buyer’s market.

    This means that employers have their pick of the best of the best to choose from. And they don’t have to pay top dollar for them. With the rate of unemployment to remain high for quite a while, it’s still a buyers market out there for employers. Many employers are simply overwhelmed by the shear number of resumes they get. Some employers can get up to 1,000 resumes, making it impossible to read all of them. If they are using automated screening systems they may be missing out on some very good, qualified candidates. These systems are initially only screening for certain keywords. If you don’t happen to have those keywords you may never even get the chance to get pass the front door.

    Since employers know they hold the upper hand, they will often write up a complete fantasy description that no normal person would fill. I’ve seen job descriptions that almost seemed like a joke. “Looking for super model with a Phd, 30 years experience, must be proficient in advanced computer skills, highly organized, and provide 3 pages of referrals for receptionist position.” Okay, so that wasn’t a real job description. But I have seen ones that are pretty close.

    As long as the job market is a buyer’s job market, job seekers must work harder at standing out and staying up to date on as many relevant skills as possible. Actively networking in person will help you skip over some of their initial automated systems and get them to see you face to face as a human being before tossing you out based just on keywords.






    Are You a Job Hopper?

    If you\’ve sent out tons of resumes and haven\’t heard back from any of them, maybe it\’s because they consider you a job hopper. When you have hundreds or thousands of resumes to sort through, one thing that stands out is the fact that you\’ve had way too many jobs in too short of a period of time. Employers call these people \”job hoppers\”, and it doesn\’t look good in their eyes.

    As someone who has been on the hiring end of things in start-up companies, I can tell you that it\’s even more important to make sure you get the right employees from the start. Hiring and training employees is one of the biggest expenses we have. Hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake.

    Job hoppers come in all ages, but is even more common in those under 30. When you just get out of college and still don\’t really know what direction you want to go in, that\’s one thing. But too much beyond that and it doesn\’t look good to the person hiring you that you\’ve had 7 jobs in the past few years.

    Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why someone would have a series of jobs before the age of 30, or at any age for that matter. But unless you are able to explain the situation to an employer or recruiter face to face you may not ever get that far in the hiring process. If you do have a face to face meeting be honest about your job hopping.

    If you really want to settle down with a job and believe this company is going to be right for you, let the hiring person know that. Explain your job hopping resume before it gets tossed in the trash.