Productivity methods vary
Ask any professional what productivity methods they employ to give them a competitive advantage, and like fingerprints, every person will be different. Some people rely on old school methods like pen and paper and stopwatches, while others can’t live without smartphone apps, but either way, the quest for productivity is never ending.
One of the prudent steps toward improving your own productivity methods is to learn what is working for others, so in that spirit, we tapped some of the busiest people in the professional world and asked them what we were all thinking – how do you do it all?!
Social media expert relies on pen and paper
Scotland’s top social media strategist, consultant, and trainer, and Yard Digital’s Head of Social, Andrew Burnett sheds some light on how he juggles so much. “I use a moleskine notebook and a Caran d’Ache ballpoint pen to manage my day. The system I try to use is Tac Anderson’s GTD Hack although I do slip regularly into more basic list making.”
Burnett explains, “Actually taking the time to physically write something commits it to memory much easier than typing it, and all tasks are always in my pocket irrespective of battery life and/or connectivity.”
The competitive advantage goes to the well oiled machine
Jon Aston, Senior Consultant at Digital Giants sheds light on the tools they rely on most heavily to manage their team’s daily operations, citing Google, Skype, and project management software.
“We spend all day in our browsers – working with web apps in the cloud,” Aston tells AG. “Chrome is the browser of choice for 4/5 Giants. Looking past the browser, much of our work gets done in Google Apps for Business – especially Gmail, Calendar, and Drive.”
One tool others frequently hail that Digital Giants has leveraged is Teamwork project management software, which Aston says “is really quite brilliant and affordable, integrates tightly with Google Apps – and the tech support is second-to-none.”
And of course, there is Skype. Aston opines that “Most people think of Skype for free VOIP – but we use it all day long for instant messaging, link sharing, quick and easy file transfer, occasional screen sharing – and for quickly organizing coffee runs.”
PR Principal is “brutal” with her inbox
Ann Marie van den Hurk, APR is a Principal at Mind The Gap Public Relations, and handles very hectic days. How does she accomplish so much?
Every day, she sets aside time to read RSS feeds and visit social media sites, and regarding email management, she says, “I’m brutal with my inbox where I read, act, file or delete emails same day. And I use the flag system for follow-up. I have a separate email account for newsletters and such.”
For to do lists, she notes, “I’ve tried the online kind, but I’m always go back to pencil and paper.”
“It is all about timing,” van den Hurk asserts. “And just getting it done.”
Quick tip: sketchbooks!
David Svet, President of Spur Communications is very particular about his productivity methods, and while he uses the Google Apps Calendar and color coded events, he focuses on a more tangible asset. “I use a combination of GTD on Canson Universal Recycled Micro Perf Acid Free spiral sketchpads (8.5″x5.5″) because I can hold them upside down and backwards to accommodate being left handed.”
“I also like to sketch and make visual notations and the paper is good for that,” Svet added. “The Micro Perf makes it easy to cleanly tear out a sheet without the spiral bits and have a clean edge.”
PR pro always connected, but to more than just the web
Benson Hendrix, Public Relations Specialist at the University of New Mexico has an insane schedule, as he also runs the social media team for TEDxABQ as well as adjunct faculty at the University of New Mexico and studying for my APR (accreditation in public relations). And like many of the rest of us, he juggles all of that with married life.
So how does he manage? “I’m a technophile,” Hendrix explains, “but I need to find a way to keep organized across platforms (Mac, Android tablet and phone). I’ve always got Google Drive open on at least one browser tab. I have a document for important notes, for web links or notes that I want to share with students or TEDx post ideas. With Google Calendar I can keep track of a variety of appointments or upcoming tasks and I can update them from anywhere I can get data. With Google Drive I can update from any of my devices, and I’m always connected.”
But it’s more than just tools for Hendrix. “It may sound corny, but I usually wear my Buddhist Mala these days. My life is hectic, at times it almost seems like it’s coming apart at the seams but my Mala reminds me to take a few minutes at a time to slow down, be mindful of focusing on the moment and clear my mind. After that I can usually attack a task with a little more clarity.”
CEO of game development company is a scheduling pro
John Acunto, Founder and CEO of social platform game development company, 212 Decibels said, “In theory, managing a day, week or a month is easy with a great assistant, an iPad and a cell phone. I find that my days are full of the unexpected.”
Acunto added, “I schedule meetings with plenty of time before and after to address the daily issues that always arise. I also schedule an hour in the middle of day to follow up on the morning and arrange my thoughts for the balance of the day.”
“My key to remaining effective is keeping focused on the decisions required and staying in the moment,” Acunto noted. “I also use my digital notebook to keep up with my daily and weekly checklist, to ensure I don’t miss a beat.”
VP leverages technology like a pro
David Jones, VP of Social Media at Critical Mass was able to rapidly offer a litany of tech tools he uses every day to keep his insanely busy days on track.
“I work with many offices so I use RTM [Remember The Milk app] to keep my tasks listed, block of time in outlook calendar to get those tasks done,” said Jones. “Online meeting rooms are a must with agency teammates and clients in a variety of cities at any given time.” Jones uses these tools to connect with New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Palo Alto, Los Angeles and Toronto frequently, making tech tools critical to his day.
Focusing on a “wildly successful” outcome of tasks
Lisa Thorell is a Principal at Innovatini and manages a tremendous work load. Thorell manages goals and tasks daily against a deadline by implementing Excel spreadsheets for her own tasks, and Google Docs if engaging in joint activities.
Thorell says she uses the Hyatt-Gates note taking system, and tells AG that she has begun teasing out more “wildly successful” outcomes by asking one simple question (that question is explained here by Jeff Haden).
Executive speed reads, maximizes down time
Although Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Chief Visibility Officer at Leveraged Promotion employs endless productivity methods, but when asked to limit them to what gives her a competitive advantage, she had some actionable items you will be inspired by:
Abayomi-Paul does her to do lists the night before to get a head start on the day. She says her day is mapped out as follows: cash flow task for the day, research, then to-do list, then and only then, she engages in emails and meetings, never taking meetings before 11am. “No one ever died from not answering email as it comes in. Do cash-generating activities FIRST, or they constantly get pushed back,” she advises.
“I took a speed reading course, have speech to text on every device, and also type 80 words per minute so I can get my research, social networking, and blogging done faster,” Abayomi-Paul notes. “I leave social media read/reply/networking to when I’m bored and waiting. Standing in line, waiting for a meeting to start. Gives a built-in end time as well.”
Ageism: How to combat discrimination in the workplace
(BUSINESS) Ageism is still being fought by many companies, how can this new issue be resolved before it becomes more of a problem?
Google recently settled an age discrimination lawsuit to the tune of $11 million. The lawsuit from 2015 alleged that Google favored people under 40 for hiring. The federal case involved more than 200 parties. Part of the settlement requires Google to train managers on age bias in recruiting and hiring. There’s hope that the settlement will raise awareness in the tech industry, where ageism is thought to be pervasive.
IBM is also facing an age discrimination lawsuit alleging the company “systematically removed older employees from its workforce.” This lawsuit was filed in March in federal court in the Southern District of New York.
Both IBM and Google deny that there is any discrimination in hiring in their respective companies. IBM is confident that the case will fail. Google settled the case rather than fight it in court. The IBM case is still working its way through the system. It is highlighting ageism in tech, but the tech industry certainly isn’t the only one that seemingly discriminates against older workers.
Workers over the age of 55 represent the fasting growing sector in labor. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 25% of the labor force will be over age 55 by 2024. A 2018 AARP survey found that over 60% of the respondents reported age discrimination in their workplace. The figure is even higher among older women, minorities and unemployed seniors. Age discrimination is a problem for many.
How can your organization create an age-inclusive workforce?
It is difficult to prove age discrimination but fighting a lawsuit against it could be expensive. Rather than worrying about getting sued for age discrimination, consider your own business and whether your culture creates a workplace that welcomes older workers.
- Check your job descriptions and hiring practices to eliminate graduation dates and birthdates. Focus on worker’s skills, not youthful attributes, such as “fresh graduate” or “digital native.” Feature workers of all ages in your branding and marketing.
- Include age diversity training for your managers and employees, especially those that hire or work in recruiting.
- Support legislative reforms that protect older workers. Use your experience to create content for your website.
Changing the culture of your workplace to include older workers will benefit you in many ways. Older workers bring experience and ideas to the table that younger employees don’t have. Having mixed-age teams encourages creativity. There are many ways to support older workers and to be inclusive in your workplace.
What steps are you taking in your organization to reduce ageism in your workplace?
Brutally honest list of reasons you didn’t get the job interview or job offer
(BUSINESS NEWS) Job hunting is stressful and getting a good job offer can be life-altering. But when it’s taking forever and you feel frustrated, remember that you can only control what you can control.
The reasons are infinite
Job hunting is one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life, right up there with a death in the family, divorce, and illness. There’s so much at stake, and it can be frustrating. In Austin, where we’re headquartered, we operate a popular tech job group where the most universal question is “why didn’t I get the job??”
In almost all cases, you’ll never really know why.
Sorry. That’s disheartening, but it’s true. The positive side is that it isn’t always your fault. So, we’ve crafted a massive list of reasons you didn’t get the job interview or job offer that you can learn from if you read from top to bottom (we promise this isn’t the same old garbage you already know).
Don’t let this list get you nervous, the idea is that there are infinitely complex numbers of reasons humans reject each other, many of which can’t be helped. Remember, the hiring person has a lot at stake, so does the employer (it costs a lot to hire, onboard, and retain employees), not just you.
The hiring process can be inhuman and indignant and your resume goes into a black hole or you never get feedback after a phone or in-person interview, but arm yourself with as much knowledge about the process and avoid as many objections as possible. We’re pulling for you!
It’s the robot’s fault
1. Did you know that if you apply online that your resume goes through an applicant tracking system (ATS)? And if your resume didn’t match the job description (meaning none of the keywords they were looking for were used), the robots didn’t even give your resume to their HR human? Pay attention to job descriptions and tailor your resume to each application accordingly.
2. Sometimes the applicant tracking system (ATS) where you sent your application online kicked out a rejection letter without the hiring manager knowing. It happens.
3. You put your resume on one generic job search site that promises to send it to hundreds of employers (but is really just there to sell your information to third parties). At no point did you apply directly, through a third party recruiter, across various platforms, and so forth. Applying on some of the junk job search sites is not always applying (we don’t mean Indeed or Dice or reputable brands, but the “apply once to a trillion random jobs” platforms – be cynical).
It’s the hiring manager’s fault
4. Sometimes it really isn’t your fault, the recruiter or hiring manager is imperfect. That’s harsh, but you can’t guarantee that person will be perceptive or even professional. The overwhelming majority are really insanely good at their job, but they’re humans too, thus they’re fallible.
5. The hiring manager is petty and/or shallow and didn’t like the school you went to or the purse you were carrying or the car you pulled up in. You’ll never know you received a secret demerit.
It’s the company’s fault
6. Sometimes the company changes the job specifications in the middle of the process.
7. The company might have changed in the middle of the process.
Maybe the CEO is on the way out. Or there’s a temporary hiring freeze, but they can’t say that in public. Or their funding status is changing. Or the business just took a big hit and everyone’s scrambling.
8. They were never hiring to begin with and were using candidates for marketing ideas or free labor. It’s a sick practice that some companies commit.
9. Someone that no longer works there told you to start as a contractor and they’d consider you FT after 90 days, but it was never in writing and no one knows what you’re talking about and your contract is up and it’s not going to be renewed. You didn’t really get the job, amigo.
10. Your interview with the Chief Hug Officer about how many stars you give yourself as a leader wasn’t the appropriate number of stars and they didn’t want to hug you after all. Or your phone interview with the 18 year old social media intern where you couldn’t name any Marvel characters rubbed them the wrong way. Companies have unique interviewing methods that involve humans, and some are just plain silly.
11. The company’s not willing to accept your type of Visa or citizenship status.
It’s timing’s fault
12. There was a candidate interviewed before you applied that they really like and are waiting for an offer acceptance from. And now they have said yes and you’re out and sad, and I’m sorry.
13. Someone else took precedent (an internal hire, an ex-colleague, or someone the CEO said they know and is the new hire no matter what).
It’s someone else’s fault
14. Someone unexpectedly gave you a bad reference and you may never know about it.
It’s your fault
15. Let’s start with the obvious repetitive junk you already know – you have a bad resume or cover letter. There are red flags, incomplete information, grammar errors, it is too long or to short, super generic, and/or never expressed how you impacted any company’s bottom line.
16. You couldn’t answer basic questions (“why did you leave your last job?” or “why were you only at X place for 3 months?”). Or you answered any number of interview questions poorly. Or you were asked to critique something about the company and you wailed on their shortcomings rather than offer a positive, followed by a meaningful critique with actionables, closed with a positive.
17. You made a mistake on your application (you worked at Google from 1904-2006?) or you straight up lied. Some companies do basic employment checks prior to requesting an interview, so you better get your story straight from minute one.
19. You’re not a culture fit. But wait, it’s not what you think – you’re not unlikable, they’re just looking for a puzzle piece. Their division might be in chaos or the there’s already an A-type on the small team. Hiring managers deal with truly complex situations and it isn’t personal if you’re not the right puzzle piece, despite your incredible pedigree.
20. You raised major legal red flags. Nothing says you plan to sue like vaguely saying “I have schizophrenia, is that going to be a problem?” or “I’m not sure working for a male boss is a good fit, do you have someone I can answer to that is female?” or “what is your policy on sex in the workplace?”
21. Speaking of legal red flags, you put your picture on your resume which tells sensitive employers “I’m doing this so later I can say I didn’t get the job because of my [gender, race, etc.]” Discrimination is no joke. It happens, and you don’t want to put an employer in an uncomfortable situation – your picture’s already on LinkedIn. That suffices.
22. To “where do you see yourself in five years?” You said “in your job” to be clever or “President of the company” without explanation. Come on, people. How you answer that demonstrates your intent on longevity in the company, your willingness to move up, your desire to be a leader, not supplant your interviewer.
23. You applied to basically every role in the company and now they take you seriously for none.
24. You applied for a Senior-level role when you’re barely entry-level.
25. You asked nothing about the company or role during the interview. This is sadly common and so easy to fix.
26. You knew nothing about the company during the interview. Do your research, people.
27. You failed a required technical test or psych profile and there really is no coming back from that. Objective requirements are just that – objective.
28. Your work history is unstable, too short to be applicable, and/or filled with holes you can’t (or didn’t) properly explain.
29. You’re missing a certification or education level the employer wants (either publicly or secretly).
30. You’re too educated – your PhD is scaring them into thinking your salary demands might rapidly increase even if you’re currently amenable to minimum wage. This is based on endless studies and experiences of people settling – they don’t stick around for long.
31. You forgot to include your continuing education (coding courses, professional leadership retreats) because you thought they were irrelevant. They’re not – they show that you take initiative and eager to always learn more.
32. You ghosted at some point or were slow to respond.
33. You arrived (or called) way too early or way too late.
34. You were rude to the receptionist.
35. You were overly familiar during the interview because you’ve done so much research and feel like you know the company so well. This trait says you’ll be an unruly team member and will likely disqualify you. Be a pro, even if you know the hiring manager personally – anything else is disrespectful.
36. Someone random in the company met you at a networking event 10 years ago and when politics came up you called them a moron. They didn’t forget, and you’ll never know it was even a factor. But it might have been.
37. You briefly dated the hiring manager’s dramatic best friend and over drinks, you come up and she tells horror stories about you – you’ll never learn this was the reason, but seriously, it’s possible.
38. You were sweaty (if that’s a problem, wear a sweat-wicking shirt under your top).
39. You had a smell – either body odor or too much perfume/cologne/axe deodorant.
40. You had a limp or overly aggressive handshake – some people are really sensitive to that and you may culturally offend someone.
41. You looked at (or stared at) your phone during an interview when it wasn’t ringing. Or your smartwatch.
42. You weren’t memorable – some people are just boring or try to be overly calm. Remember you’re connecting with another non-robot human, so try to be at least human.
43. Your desperation permeated the entire process. They could smell it on you and it wasn’t appealing. Why? Because they know you’re going to take the job so you can pay rent, but you’ll still be job hunting and they’ll lose you quickly, so why bother?
44. You live in the wrong place – they may be unwilling to pay for relocation and may screen accordingly.
45. Salary negotiations went awry. They demanded your previous salary and you refused or they didn’t like the number or you’d done too little or too much salary research, or maybe the job listing said a range and you demanded triple (or they offered less than the range).
46. You asked questions at the wrong time – don’t lead with “so what are the benefits and how much time do I get off?” Wait until you know that they like you already. Asking pay as the first question, although the most important, can disqualify you. This is a delicate dance.
47. You failed some simple (probably stupid) test like a sales role being offered half salary and being tricked into negotiating their way up, or somewhere on the job listing it asked you to “Like” their page on Facebook and you didn’t, who knows?
48. You dressed poorly at the interview or were way overdressed.
49. When asked if you’re a night person or morning person, you didn’t say you’re flexible, you said you’re terrible at mornings, and now this company that is really serious about productivity starting at 8:00am, is no longer interested in you.
50. You fidgeted or shook during the interview.
51. You were awkward during the interview, maybe you held your bag in your lap or kept your winter coat on.
52. Your nerves got the best of you – you spoke too quickly or quietly or couldn’t stop saying “like” or “umm.”
SIDENOTE: Being introverted or socially anxious is a challenge, so during an interview, gently express that so it’s not misinterpreted. “I do tend to be introverted, but I want you to know that I am enthusiastic about this opportunity even if I sound a little shaky and nervous.”
53. You didn’t thank the interviewer (or act interested) at any point.
54. You sent an extravagant thank you gift to the hiring manager that disqualified you as it appeared to be a bribe, not the kind gesture you meant for it to be.
55. You followed up too soon and too frequently.
56. You were too cocky or too insecure.
57. You were too eager and it came across as insincere.
58. Your body language was off (you used practiced/disingenuous hand steepling, or you slouched, or maybe you couldn’t make eye contact).
59. You were too scripted – you obviously regurgitated scripts you studied online (a good HR pro can see right through that – they’ve read them, too).
60. You sneezed into your hand and wiped it on your pants, then offered it to shake at adios time. Gross, bye.
61. You trash talked a former employer or coworker (or the interviewer’s favorite sports team, or their religion, or them).
62. You didn’t laugh at the CEO’s joke during a final interview.
63. You shared way too much personal info – not stories about vacay to humanize yourself, but like made sure they knew you have irritable bowel syndrome.
64. You were overly apologetic about your past rather than calmly explaining that you took five years off to be a stay at home parent, but you’ve kept your skills sharp by studying [X].
65. You kept talking about why their competitor is awesome.
66. You accidentally called them by their hated competitor’s name during an interview.
67. You kept calling the interviewer “Jacob,” but his name was always “Jason” and now he thinks you can’t tend to standard details (or is just butthurt).
68. You’re trying to pivot from one industry to another and you do a poor job of explaining that in any way, you just hoped you’d get an interview (but it doesn’t work that way).
69. You’re painfully ugly or overly hot. Sorry, it’s possible.
70. You’re overqualified and that means you might leave when a sexier offer comes along.
71. You’re underqualified which means they’ll have to pay for your learning curve (which they won’t).
72. Your credit is awful and you’re applying to a highly regulated industry like finance or law enforcement, which may hold you back.
73. You didn’t know that your criminal or credit history might not be a disqualifier so you didn’t even try. Sometimes companies are open to certain types of offenses, or you can explain the illness in the family that destroyed your credit.
74. You failed a drug test – this is one of the few instances where you’ll know what happened.
75. You pressured them on social media (you started “IBMShouldHireMichael.com” or started #IBMHireMike and had friends use it on Twitter endlessly, which is clever and has a slight chance of working if applying to a digital media role, but almost always just comes off as annoying and overly aggressive – not worth the risk). Plus, if you depended on that being your hook and they didn’t even notice, it was a hugely wasted effort.
76. You’re so addicted to internet jargon and slang that you used it on your resume or during an interview (“btw, your shoes are on fleek”). Save it for your tumblr, folks.
77. Being cute with videos, online resumes in infographic format, and so forth, forces an employer to investigate you outside of their normal parameters and could land you in the trash bin. Do those things in addition to the traditional resume requested.
78. Your social media accounts are offensive, filled with garbage, or overly sexualized – lock it down while on the job market.
79. You bitched about the company on social media “phone interviewer at X company was straight up retarded” — uh what!? This actually happened recently.
80. You didn’t express interest after the interview. In fact, you may have closed with “well I have several more interviews to complete, so I’ll have to get back to you,” hoping to prove value but really pissing off the employer.
If you’ve read this far, you know that sometimes it’s you, sometimes the stars just didn’t align properly. Sometimes you’ll get feedback, but most of the time, your secret demerits will remain locked in someone’s brain.
But now you know some of the pitfalls that you can fix, so you will. You can only control what you can control, the rest you simply have to let go of.
Let this information empower you, not discourage you.
Good luck during your job search, and don’t let the robots hold you back!
This story first published in April of 2017.
Ageism is alive and well; diversity is more than race and gender
(BUSINESS NEWS) In regards to diversity in the tech industry, gender and race seem to be making positive strides while ageism has yet to be addressed.
The tech industry has been scrutinized lately for its lack of diversity. After being majorly called out and even facing discrimination lawsuits, many Silicon Valley companies have been forced to make a concerted effort towards increasing diversity when it comes to race and gender.
But what about age? The stereotype of a grandfatherly type who doesn’t know how to operate his grandkid’s newfangled device is definitely creating a hiring and salary bias in the tech industry.
There have already been a number of age discrimination lawsuits to prevent ageism, as well as reports of the older set seeing their salaries reduced after a certain age. There are even reports of 30-somethings getting cosmetic surgery to appear younger, and thus, stay competitive, in the tech industry.
Job site Indeed recently surveyed over 1,000 workers in the tech industry to find out how age bias is affecting their companies. Almost half of the respondents said that the average worker at their firm is between the ages of 20 and 35.
About a quarter said that the average age at their firm is between 36 and 40, with workers 40 and over comprising the last 26 percent.
Although older workers are underrepresented, tech workers generally seemed to value the contributions of their elders, with 78 percent saying that workers over 40 years old are highly qualified, and 83 percent claiming that they think older workers have gained wisdom through their years of experience.
Nonetheless, the older generation is still a minority amongst tech firms, and 43 percent of respondents were worried that they would age out of their job, with another 18 percent worrying about it “all the time.”
Another 36 percent say that, at least once, they’ve had an interaction at work where it was clear that they were not being taken seriously because of ageism.
In order to increase age diversity, Indeed recommends that tech firms review the language they are using to recruit talent, making sure that it is age-inclusive. They also recommend making sure that the benefits your company provides are appealing to not only young Millennials, but to older workers with families as well.
A Millennial may be willing to work long hours, and be excited by a ping pong table in the company game room, but older workers will care more about having paid leave to spend time with their families, and benefits like health insurance for their spouses.
The good news is that the tech industry seems optimistic. While they agreed that ageism is still an issue, 85 percent of survey respondents believe that their employer truly cares about improving diversity.
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