Kimberly C. Kisner

How to Get Happy at Work

You spend many hours at work. We think that should be a happy time.

It’s true, happy employees are generally more engaged and productive, and that’s great. But we’re not so concerned about how your happiness benefits your employer.

We think you should be happy at work because it’s good for you – for your health, for your relationships, for your psyche.

But being happy, especially at work, doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s a choice you have to make, a mindset and perspective you have to adopt.

Here are some ways to support the choice to be happy at work:

1. Seek Happiness

Think hard. There has to be something you love about your job. If it isn’t what you do, maybe it’s the people you work with, the autonomy you have or something else. Focus on the parts of your job that make you happy. You’re still going to have to deal with the not-so-great aspects of your work, but concentrate on the things that make you happy and everything will become more bearable.

2. Shun Negativity

You roll in the mud, you’re going to get dirty. The same applies to negativity – if you indulge it, you’re going to get negative. Do your best to avoid coworkers who dwell down in the dumps. And when you do interact with them, don’t feed their negativity . Listen if you must, but don’t contribute (even if you’re just trying to be sympathetic). If you do, you may find yourself slipping into their negative mindset.

3. Focus on Why

Why do you go to work every day? Dig deeper than just “to pay the bills.” Is it to support your family? To maintain a lifestyle you enjoy? To provide opportunities for your children? Focus on the good things that result from your job.

4. Engage

There are plenty of excuses for not putting forth your full effort at work: They don’t pay me enough; I’m not going to get promoted anyway; I’m not passionate about this job.

It may seem easy to while away the workday doing the bare minimum, but such lackluster performance may be hurting your psyche and nourishing your discontent. Try to get more engaged in your job and take pride in your work – when you know you’re doing your best, good feelings often follow.

5. Be a Force for Happiness

Making others happy – or at least refraining from contributing to their unhappiness – will bolster your own happiness. Compliment a coworker. Acknowledge someone’s contribution to a project. Simply smile and say hello. You have the power to bring a little joy to someone’s life every day. And when you do, you’ll find that it brings joy to yours as well.

6. Take Control

If the culture of your workplace is inherently negative, chances are you’re going to have trouble getting happy there no matter what you do. If that’s the case, it may be time to start planning an exit. Think about where you are right now and where you want to be – and what would make you happy at work — and start looking for a new job. Though it seems that there are about a million miles between looking for a new job and actually getting one, taking control and actively seeking something better can bring a degree of happiness.

By Luke Roney, CareerBliss Editor

Job Interview Success: The “tell me about yourself” trap

One of the most common questions in a job interview, yet most commonly fumbled is the question “Tell me about yourself ?” And yet this is the easiest answer for someone to present in an interview. The question often arises because the manager hasn’t really reviewed the resume in a lot of detail. So while they are catching up, they throw a pop quiz by asking you “tell me about yourself”. 

This question is an open-ended question and the answer is a free form essay which can easily lead to all kinds of perilous responses. Yet it is also a huge advantage. You have a gift—an opportunity of stating 2 or 3 of your strongest points and then controlling where the conversation goes next with a question at the end. Your answer demonstrates your ability to communicate on your feet when you’re thrown a question, your ability to focus, and your ability to clarify your personal interest and agenda. This common job interview question should be answered similar to an “elevator pitch” with an answer that is clear, bulletized andrelevant to the opportunity. It should be easy to understand and should not generate more questions than answers. It should be less than 2 minutes.

So the key to handling this question in the interview is to prepare the answer before the interview. The manager really doesn’t want to hear about your life history, what you’re interested in, a long boring sequence of your jobs, or any ego trips. An absolute disaster is occurs if instead of answering the question, you respond with hesitancy or confusion and ask “what would you like to hear?”

What they really want to hear is a focused summary of relevant bullets that can benefit him and may help him solve a problem. I say “may “ because we don’t know enough detail at this stage of the interview to use the word “can”.

So how do we structure this answer?

Lets say we want to use 5 sentences max and a steering question. Here’s how we might structure it.

A. If you prepare properly for the job interview, you’ve identifiedkeywords for products, industries, technologies, tasks and titles can easily be used to create bullets in this summary. The first 3 sentences can list some of these keywords and expand them with length of experience (years) or with breadth of experience (for tasks or titles). Then add some results and these keywords have now become “bulletized” accomplishments. Do not try to cover the entire job description. Focus on the 3 major strengths you feel you bring to the table based on the keywords.

B. Sentences 4 and 5 should be oriented toward benefits to the manager and areas of possible mutual interest (complementing agendas) which are to be explored in today’s meeting. For example, some of the biggest benefits we can bring to a company and to a manager are:

  • fast start in terms of proven expertise
  • an independent worker which requires less management time
  • someone who can take on more responsibilities over time
  • someone who can solve the immediate problem
  • someone that would help the manager achieve their personal agenda
  • someone who is low risk or high results.C. Then we end with the appropriate steering question to move the job interview towards our preferred direction.

    Here is a sample for an IT professional:

    Sample sentences 1-3;

    Mr. Manager, I’ve had 20 years of technical background in information technology, a BS in comuter science with increasing responsibilities from developer, project leader and also a presales consultant. My strongest expertise is in the Microsoft technologies including .net development, SQLserver data base and Business Intelligence where I have performed all tasks associated with defining, developing and implementing custom Business applications for the Financial Services industry. I have received increasing compensation and responsibilities in the 4 companies I have been with because I completed my projects in a timely and reliable manner. My performance ratings were always strong.

    Sample sentences 4-5:

    My personal goals at this point are to find a company where I can build upon this technical background and bring this expertise to help solve additional problems as well as add some new experiences.

    Since I’ve targeted your particular company (or When I read your ad) , it appears my background will allow me to contribute quickly, get off to a fast start and take on some responsibility to help the department accomplish its goals.

    Sample Steering Question:

    I look forward to sharing additional relevant experience with you today but before we start, could you give me some feeling for where you see this role within the department’s goals?

    So the key to handling this simple, yet treacherous interview question is to be prepared ahead of time. Pick 3 points and your steering question. Structure a very simple 4-5 sentence summary of what you bring to the table that is clear and relevant to the manager and the opportunity at hand . Do not stray into other events. Do not cover the job description in detail. Remember, it is a summary. The manager will get to the detail he needs, rest assured. Good luck and good interviewing.

    By Howard J Cattie
    Founder and Head Coach of CareerOyster

    About the Author

    Who is Head Coach and Founder – Howard J. Cattie, Jr

  • Howard has had over 30 years of Career Coaching, Recruiting, Sales and Sales Management experience before founding CareerOyster LLC. While he has been a hiring manager for most of that time, his real passion has been in helping individuals identify their longer term goals and position themselves to get there. He has extensive experience in coaching jobseekers and recruiters in effective career planning, resume writing, interview coaching and job closing strategies. He has trained over 400 recruiters and thousands of candidates in job seeking techniques with a true specialty in candidate interview preparation. Prior to that he founded and managed Custom Recruiting Services for 11 years, a specialized recruiting firm for Technology and Technology Sales and Marketing professionals. Howard was also an Executive in three national Recruiting and Staffing organizations: Source Services, Romac International (now Kforce) and Norrell (now Spherion).


    Adapting Your Elevator Pitch to the Occasion

    Practice makes perfect, but be sure to tweak your pitch to keep it effective.

    By Andrew Klappholz

    In the job search, the “make or break” moment for candidates often comes down to just a couple sentences: the elevator pitch. This is a quick statement about who you are and why you should be hired. Theoretically, it should be so brief that you can sell yourself while sharing an elevator with a hiring manager.

    But traveling between floors of an office building isn’t always the scenario where an elevator pitch needs to be deployed. Some variation of it can be drawn on during anything from a networking event or a cold call to a Little League game or a chance encounter on your daily commute.

    A base elevator pitch should be something like:

    “Hi, I’m Jane Smith. I work in sales for NBC. I’ve beaten revenue projections for the past nine quarters and I’d like to do the same for CBS. My knowledge of the industry, contacts in the business world and proven track record of success would be a great asset to your company.”

    Why would anyone say “no” to that? Well, if that exact pitch is given in the middle of the CBS executive’s yoga class, they’d have good reason to ignore you. “If you’re at a casual social event, you want to make it more casual — not so much of a hard sell,” said Patty Malone, a communications professor at California State Fullerton. Malone helps job seekers perfect their interviewing and networking skills

    She says that elevator pitches, while important to practice out loud and memorize, are most effective when they don’t sound like they’re rehearsed. And, she adds, it all depends on the setting. During yoga, it would be nice to compliment the person’s downward dog before getting down to business. If you’re at a Little League game and your son is playing the team of the CBS executive’s son, talk about the game without being an annoyance. “You can chit-chat a little bit, but don’t just hang out there,” she said. “Don’t take up too much of their time.”

    Malone said that in such a setting, Jane Smith would be better off if she seemed like a parent — not a job seeker — and mentioned, almost in passing, that she’d be a good asset to CBS. “I would walk up and introduce myself and let him or her know that I’m interested in their company,” she said. “And say that I’d like to talk to them in the future and send a resume.”

    It’s all about adapting, said Andrew Schrage, the careers expert at Money Crashers Personal Finance. “Adapt your pitch to the situation you’re in,” he said. “If you are in an office setting or a formal setting, you’ll keep your pitch more formal … and talk yourself up. In a casual setting, the Little League setting, you want to straddle the line between casual, along with being personable, and connect with that person.”

    Andrew Klappholz is a general assignment reporter for TheLadders.