Project U. Blog

Saying Thanks Creates a Happier, Healthier More Productive Workplace

Posted by Catherine Saar on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 08:27 AM

Saying thank you – and acknowiStock 000010530388XSmallledging someone in your workplace for a job well done or a meaningful contribution not only can make your workplace happier – it can improve retention and performance.  

You and I don’t need to read all the polls and data to know that one of the top reasons people leave a job is because they don't feel appreciated.  Money is very important, but it only goes so far.  We all want to be recognized for the value that we contribute.  At work, a simple thank you and a show of appreciation can make all the difference.  Even Gallup, the research organization, has years of research that shows engaged employees are more productive employees. 

Case in point: Doug Conant former CEO of Campbell Soup believes that giving a pat on the back is an essential part of successful leadership.  Over a ten-year period, he wrote approximately 30,000 thank you notes to employees.  Moreover, there’s proof that his attention to employee recognition as a tool for increasing engagement paid off.   After he took the helm at Campbell, his corporate culture-rebuilding program “The Campbell Promise: Campbell Valuing People.  And People Valuing Campbell,” resulted in double-digit increases for five consecutive years at a company that had previously lost half its market value.  

If that isn’t sufficient evidence that gratitude has benefits in the workplace, consider the work of Robert Emmons,  psychologist and author.  He says that gratitude enhances our sense of self-worth, while at the same time strengthening social ties.  The best part, is that his studies show that expressing gratitude increases the not only the happiness of the receiver, but also of the giver!

With that, I just want to say, thanks for reading.  Wow, I feel better already! How about you?

Tags: successful, thank you, gratitude, Doug Conant, CEO, value, Campbell, job, top reasons people leave a job, happier, healthier, successful leadership, self-worth, social ties, more productive, apppreciation, Gallup, happiness, workplace, improve retention and performance, create, increasing engagement, Robert Emmons, acknowledgement, corporate culture, engaged

Resume Tip: Highlight Achievements to Get Noticed

Posted by Catherine Saar on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 @ 12:28 PM

better resumeWhich statement is more compelling? 

“Responsible for advertising” or

“Reduced advertising expense 20% using customer data analysis while improving sales by 5%.”

Although both statements may have a place on your resume, using specific examples on your resume to provide concrete proof of how you’ve contributed to the success of past employers is critical.  

Your resume is not a laundry list of all the stuff you have done. It needs to show how well you fit with what the hiring company is looking for. Once you are clear about what skills and accomplishments are needed in the position for which you are applying, determine where and how your achievements match up. Highlight the skills and results that best demonstrate your track record of delivering the kinds of things they expect. 

Think about your experience this way:

  1. What is this company looking for from this position? What situations/problems or goals have you worked on in the past that are similar?

  2. What action did you personally take to improve or ameliorate the issue(s)? 

  3. How did your action(s) positively affect the company?  Were there savings, improvements or increased profits?

Once you have a few examples of how your efforts made a difference in the past, pepper your resume with specific achievements that show how you made a difference.   You can also include results from volunteer positions if they demonstrate your ability in ways that match up to this employer’s needs.   Of course you shouldn’t fabricate, but do think about ways you can measure your contributions. Use numbers or descriptive language when you can.

Here are some examples you might consider:

  • Corrected an internal problem

  • Improved a service or a product

  • Improved the appearance or usability of an item

  • Increased membership or attendance

  • Increased business

  • Reduced errors

  • Innovated new ways to get information, get things done

  • Avoided a problem

  • Saved money or time

  • Increased awareness of the company, a service or a product

  • Created, met or improved standards

  • Devised or streamlined a system

  • Increased customer satisfaction.

Think about it. A company wants to reduce its hiring risk. If you are a candidate who provides proof of your skills by using concrete, targeted examples (like mini case studies), you can increase the likelihood that you will get noticed - and hired.  

Complimentary 30-Minute Consultation Let's Chat!  I would be delighted to learn more about your needs and goals and  explore whether it makes sense for us to collaborate. Just click here.

Tags: applying, fit, success, skills, resume, concrete proof, contributions, get hired, goals, hiring, accomplishments, Tips, achievements

Job Hunters - Don’t Get Rejected for Being “OVERQUALIFIED”

Posted by Catherine Saar on Wed, Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:41 PM

Experience says that you have a good chance of being dismissed for being "overqualified", when you apply for a position that offers less money or a lesser title than what you previously enjoyed.    Shouldn’t companies want to hire more experience for less pay and less title?  Not if you consider the risk from their point of view.  They want to hire the person who fits in, who sticks around for a while and who won’t be a problem.   After all, employee turnover and dissatisfaction cost a company money and heartburn.

In other words, HR doesn’t want you in their office a year from now telling them how inept your supervisor is, or how unhappy you are with your pay.  The CEO doesn’t want you quitting after six months when something better comes along.  Some studies estimate that the cost of replacing a new employee who leaves after a short time ranges anywhere from 85% to 145% of that employee’s salary.

So if you think you want that job, how do you overcome potential company bias? If you’re lucky, the employer will be direct and ask you if you are overqualified for the position - then you can be ready with a good answer. On the other hand, they might toss your resume into the rejection pile before you even get a call.

To prepare for either case, you can address the challenge up front – first with yourself and then with the potential employer.  If you are clear with yourself about your motivation for applying,   you will be better able to communicate why you aren’t a high-risk hire - thereby increasing the odds of getting the job.  

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Can you honestly say that you are willing to stick around in the job for at least a year? 

  • Are you willing to take direction (perhaps from someone younger or with less experience than you have) when you are used to being in charge?

  • Is there a benefit that the position offers you (for example, personal development, or quality of life) that makes up for the lower pay or lower status?

If the answer is no to all of these questions, you are probably better off waiting for something else that is more appropriate for you. 

On the other hand, if you can honestly embrace the opportunity with a good attitude, and you can communicate your point of view effectively, you stand a better chance of staying in the game.

First, brainstorm all the benefits of taking this lesser paying/lesser-titled position. That might include learning something new, enjoying a short commute from home, or being part of a team again.  Then either prepare for your interview, or consider crafting a cover letter that includes your thinking.

Whatever it is, you want to clearly, honestly and convincingly communicate your intentions - in addition to selling the strengths and experience you bring to the table. 

Here are some examples:

  • In a cover letter, or an interview, you can give specific examples of how and why you are willing and even excited about taking this particular position.  Share what you hope to learn; talk about the benefit of a short commute, or the work hours being perfect.  Make it clear why you are not only a great fit for the position, but also why this position is a great fit for you.  For example:

    • “While I’ve enjoyed management over the last several years, I miss the excitement of sales and look forward to working directly with customers again.”

    • “Now that all of my children are grown, I am less focused on salary and title, and very excited about the contribution that I can make working as a product developer for your company.”

  • In an interview situation, you can reduce the company’s perceived risk  by suggesting creative solutions, like a trial period or a contract:

    • “I'm willing to commit for at least a year, and would be happy to sign a contract to that effect.”

    • "If you have concerns, why don’t we try a 30-day trial period so you can get a firsthand look at how my work style fits with your company?”

Get the idea? Your goal is not only to highlight your abilities, (like being able to hit the ground running) but also to alleviate concerns that might otherwise keep you from landing the job.  If you can convince yourself and prepare well, you are likely better able to convince them as well.

Tags: lesser title, potential employer, trial period, contract, overcome bias, job hunters, resume, motivation, apply for a position, overqualified, company bias, convince, creative solutions, salary, getting the job, cost of replacing a new employee, less money, challenge, communicate, HR, cover letter, highlight abilities, interivew, rejected