How oversharing with co-workers can hurt your career.
By Robin Madell (AOL JOBS)
When you spend more hours with your colleagues than with your family, it may seem natural that you'll get to know each other. But before you start divulging details about your personal life in an effort to connect with co-workers, beware. There's a fine line between appropriate sharing and creating confidences that might kill your career.
Whether you're a new grad preparing to start your first job or a seasoned industry veteran, the rules are the same when it comes to "TMI" in the workplace. Here are five types of information to never share with co-workers:
Negative feelings about your job or colleagues. With social media just a click away, it can be tempting to vent about a bad day at work with your online network. But even if your profile settings are marked as "private," it's always a bad judgment call to fume either on Facebook or in person about negative feelings or experiences you have regarding your company, colleagues or job. Even if you think you're couching terms with discretion, you're best to save workplace opinions for your family and friends who are not connected with the office.
"You've heard the horror stories," says Marilyn Santiesteban, assistant director of career services at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. "My best advice is not to post about your colleagues or any details of your work – especially if it is negative or might be confidential. Employers love positive staff posts, but it takes a while to determine what's appropriate. If in doubt – don't!"
Opinions that may cause controversy. While it may seem like a no-brainer to avoid discussing controversial topics like politics and religion at work, the importance of doing so can't be overstated. Nothing good can come from discussions that create dissension among colleagues. Plus, in the worst-case scenario, saying something that offends someone else on these matters may lead to a lawsuit.
"There's an old adage that goes: 'Do not share things that you would not want your mother, boss or priest to know,'" says Jenny Korn, scholar of online identity at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "Now, I would substitute parent for mother. The advice still stands, because it operates on not discussing things that might cause discord with a person that is in a position to judge one's behavior, like a parent, boss or priest."
Since your political stance on an issue might not match a colleague's, raising the issue might affect work relations, Korn adds, and bringing up your choices regarding sexual intimacy could be construed as harassment.
Health issues. Sharing positive health habits like exercising on your lunch hour might earn you respect in the office. But be wary of slipping into the negative when detailing health-related issues or disclosing health conditions or health history, cautions Charley Polachi, managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search. "Discussing your health history can create uncomfortable situations for yourself and others," he says. "There are very few situations in which health history would need to be brought up, and if it does need to be addressed, it should be in private between an employee and his or her direct boss."
Certified diversity professional Eduardo Herrera, who serves as chief communications officer at Liberty Capital Group, adds that revealing personal health information in the workplace may also lead to discrimination by fostering perceptions and stigma that could hinder your ability to be viewed as a viable candidate for advancement. "Although in many instances employees are protected from this type of discrimination, premature talk of a health concern can affect an employee's future," he says.
Relationship issues and family troubles. Negativity in any form can be a turnoff for others in the office, and this goes for what you share about your personal life, too. "If you're always talking about how your home life is in shambles, your boss might think twice about giving you a promotion, because they may think you can't handle the additional stress," says Ian Cluroe, Alexander Mann Solutions' head of marketing in the Americas Region.
Yet even if the personal experiences you are sharing are positive, when it comes to talking about relationships, dating or home life, discretion is key. "We like to know a little about the people with whom we work – and that's the key: a little," Santiesteban says. "If your colleagues are intimately aware of your romantic relationships, your parents' quirks, your health/medication issues and the mileage on your car, you've crossed the line."
Even sharing too much about a fun night out might be seen as too much information. "If you spend every Monday bragging about your awesome weekend of partying, serious people – the people who can influence the trajectory of your career – aren't going to take you seriously," Cluroe says.
How much money you make. You may hope to find out how much your cubicle mate makes by sharing your own salary level with him or her. Yet Herrera says revealing salary and pay details can cause division, resentment and strife among employees. "From a management perspective, variations in salaries are justified by unique variables," he says. "But employees within a department or with the same job title would argue otherwise, because from their point of view, they're working harder, are more educated or have been with the company longer."
At the end of the day, only you can decide what you want to share with people at work. In some work cultures, it's acceptable to share more than in others, and the same holds true for different regions of the country or parts of the world.
Context plays a role as well. "If the conversation is about addressing urgent issues that need a speedy resolution, and the person speaking with you is the one charged with the accountability, it probably is not a good time to go off topic and share anything personal," says Connie Bentley, U.S. general manager of Insights Learning and Development. "If, however, a close colleague is struggling with an issue related to child care during school holidays, and you have some experience that could help, that might be perfectly appropriate."
However, Cluroe leaves us with this caution: "Just remember that everything you say leaves an impression – and if you want to create a good impression that will further your career, less is more."
Don't Ask These 5 Questions in Interviews! Yes, you should ask questions – just not these ones
By Vicki Salemi
This sounds like an oxymoron, right? After all, you should ask questions during the interview – they're a must. If you don't, a hiring manager may consider it game over before it began.
Here's the kicker though: Not all questions are created equal. Use them wisely, and you can gain tremendous insight into the organization and gauge if you can see yourself working there and ultimately thriving. The other scenario is asking weak questions only to get weak answers. It's kind of like the lifeline situation on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Leverage that lifeline when the going gets tough, rather than in the earlier, easier rounds.Search JobsIn Partnership Withcareerbuilder
With that in mind, don't squander your questions. It's not about quality, not quantity. Consider the questions you ask to be equally as important as your answers to the interviewers' questions.
Take time to plan your questions thoughtfully and methodically before the interview. As specific questions arise during the interview itself, ask them, but please avoid the ones below. The following questions won't provide you with an inside view on the organization and probably won't give you substantial answers.
1. "When are you looking to fill this position?" Yes, it may be tempting to ask this, but here's the thing: Recruiters hear this question on a daily basis, and you may end up getting a snarky response – and rightly so. They're not looking to fill the position six months from now – not even three months from now. They're looking to fill it right this very minute and, in most cases, yesterday.
Although recruiters want to hire quickly, you need to factor in at least two to four weeks for the chain of command approvals and background check. And that's assuming the interview process is towards the tail end.
It's in the hiring manager's best interest to move things along swiftly, too. If not, his or her boss can say, "Hey, this position has been open for three months and is still vacant. You're clearly getting by without this additional team member, so you technically no longer need it." And just like that, the job opening disappears. So, yes, everyone is on the same team here: Hire, and hire fast.
2. "Why are you hiring?" These specific words are key, and the simple answer is, "because we have a need." Even though we know what you're getting at here, you may end up getting a succinct, non-descriptive response that beckons a follow-up question anyway.
The better, more insightful question to ask is, "Why is this position open?" Is it because the group is expanding? If so, that's a great opportunity to ask a follow-up question about how many people are expected to be hired within the next two years. Is the position open because the person who previously held the position got promoted? That's another great sign the organization espouses career growth and promotions. Or is the position open because an employee left? In that case, you have to wonder what the turnover is really like.
3. "What is your policy on drug and alcohol use?" Seriously, please don't be that guy or gal. Next question ...
4. "What are the hours?" This sounds like a Catch-22, given that you need to know the hours to show up on time. However, asking about the hours shows you're going to be watching the clock. And yes, we should all watch the clock for work-life balance, but this question won't necessarily look good for your work ethic or make a positive first impression.
Your future boss is evaluating everything you say and wants to know you'll do whatever it takes to get the job done. Plus, answers to this question won't give you insight into the job, company or its culture.
You can, however, learn from observing. If your interview starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m. as the staff circulates menus to have dinner delivered, that's a sure sign you'll be working well into the evening.
5. "Why do you like working here?" This isn't necessarily a bad go-to question to ask the interviewer about him or herself, but it often leads to a major dead end. Here's why: The most common answer is typically "the people." And even if it's not the people, they'll still tell you it's the people.
Instead, you can ask, "What's one of the main reasons you like working here aside from the people?" or "What do you like most about this corporate culture aside from its people?" This will give you further insight. Is it due to training opportunities and the ability to grow? Maybe this person has an amazing mentor who has guided him or her? Maybe the benefits are stellar?
This is a good line of questioning to ask toward the end of the interview, when things feel less formal and you've established a rapport.
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Thanks to Mrs. McKenzie, the CTC English consultant for this great information. Please check it out.