Why You Should Go To the Holiday Office Party

office holiday party

It’s that time of year again: The holiday office party. You’re already stuck with these people all day. Why should you give up your “you” time for mandatory fun?

Even if you truly enjoy being with your co-workers, you don’t always want to spend your off-the-clock time with them, too. But if you’re thinking of skipping the office or department party, take a moment to think of it this way:

This party can help you in your job and overall career. 

Having a more personal connection with your coworkers can enhance your professional relationships with them, and an office party is a great opportunity to get to know people in a more relaxed setting.

Not sure how? Consider these suggestions:

  • Go with a vision. I know. Just hear me out. Even if you can’t change anything else about the party, from having to go in the first place to having to do the planned activities, you can change one thing: Your attitude. If you set up the expectation for yourself that you’ll have a good time, or at least not a wholly unpleasant time, that puts some of the control of the situation back on you. With control, you get confidence, and that confidence will show on the outside.
  • Don’t just hang out in a corner with people you already know. It’s tempting. I do it myself. But this is a prime time to talk with someone you don’t know well or at all. You never know who may help you later, whether in this job or something else down the road. That said…
  • It’s okay to have a wingperson go around with you when approaching new-to-you people. You’ll be more relaxed and you’ll have someone else who can jump in to talk while you take a much-needed few moments.
  • Speaking of talking, have no idea what to say and hate small talk? Get the other person to talk instead. You don’t have to stick to work or holiday-related chat, either. This Master List of Icebreaker Questions by Liz Williams starts you off with 74 conversational ideas, including “Piece of art that moved you deeply?” and “What always makes you laugh?”
  • Don’t forget the bigwigs. Have 2 or 3 key influencers you want to connect with, but keep it casual: Get on their radar, don’t jam it.
  • Even if you know everyone and are completely comfortable, you can still use this time to brush up on your networking skills. Remember: At its most basic, networking is really just having a conversation.

Holiday parties can be a great opportunity to celebrate company milestones, boost morale, and do a little team-building before the new year starts. You might as well use the time to boost your own skills and connections, too.

What are your holiday office party dos and don’ts?

Adapted from this #careerchat session.

Pic from Ulrik Tofte / Thinkstock.

3 Things NOT to Assume After Getting Fired

bummed out jobseeker

When you’re unceremoniously booted out of a job, you can feel anything from anger and hurt to bewilderment and depression. This is normal; after all, you just went from a known thing to a lot of unknowns.

But while you’re working through your feelings and figuring out your next steps, try to avoid some common pitfalls so you can get on with making your transition easier.

Three Things NOT to Assume After Getting Fired

(Without more than circumstantial evidence, that is.)

1) That your old boss is out to get you.

Has your ex-boss remained cordial? Accepted or offered lunch invitations or other get-togethers? Introduced you to key people in your industry?

If so, your boss is willing to help you, not out to get you. Think of it this way: Just because your previous job didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean your boss doesn’t recognize your valuable, viable skills. You just need to find the right fit for them. And if your boss is willing to actively advocate for you, that’s well-nigh priceless stuff right there.

You do still have to do most of the work yourself. Instead of daydreaming about being sabotaged, follow up on those key people. Work on your resume and online presence. Keep making connections. And be sure to thank that old boss of yours when something they started for you works out.

2) That it was the company’s fault.

It’s not the most pleasant of thoughts that you could have done yourself out of a job. And it can be very true that you were in a toxic environment with a toxic manager (if so, avail yourself of the AskaManager blog for help and support before, during, and after).

But if there’s a pattern in your job history of being let go instead of walking out on your own two feet, it’s worth it to take a closer look at the common denominator: You.

The hard part about this is we all have our own perceptions of ourselves, and when they don’t mesh with how others perceive us, we have a tendency to think the problem is on their side. And yes, sometimes it is.

When it comes to holding down a job, however, you may not literally be able to afford this kind of attitude. It doesn’t mean you aren’t the fabulous person you are. You just need to make sure some parts shine through more than others.

What can you do about it? Everything! Remember, you still have all the skills, knowledge, and experience you had when you had that job. Those things don’t go away.

What you need to do now is think honestly about your past work history. Then think about the skills employers love for you to have, such as accountability: Did you promise a lot of cool things but failed to deliver? Did you come up with great ideas but always left the actual execution for “somebody” to finish?

I’d even recommend looking at past reviews. If you thought you were doing well, but your performance reviews said you weren’t, did you try to improve or did you brush it off?

Armed with these new tools, you can work on your most important asset: Yourself.

The last thing you shouldn’t assume is…

3) That you’re alone.

You aren’t. Friends, family, former co-workers, people at networking events, that guy walking down the block, that person headed off to lunch–it’s a fair chance that everyone has been out of a job at some point. They know what it feels like. So with that in mind, approach people with your head up and don’t be afraid to ask for help–even if you aren’t always sure of the reception.

Just don’t: Ask them to “get” you a job. That’s a no-no!

What have you done to get back on your feet after being let go?

“Bullying will never go away!” Why I believe it can

I find I just can’t let statements such as “Bullying will NEVER go away” rest easy.

Insert any issue you like, but take a moment before you believe it as it stands.

Why? Because there are so many things that have changed throughout history that people claimed would never change. So many things we use today that people said would never work. So many things that, if you don’t know your history (or anyone else’s), you take for granted as being perennial. Large or small,

And there are so many people that have turned those “nevers” into “Yes it can,” or “Yes, I can.” But they aren’t always loud about it, and they aren’t always noticed. And with most things, even as it starts with one person, it takes a community to change.

That’s why, as it’s coming up to National Bullying Prevention Month (October), I wrote this post here to herald the #31bullying campaign. I hope you check it out. We’ll cover 31 difference makers in the world of bullying, and 31 resources to help you do more than just sit around and say “never” like an ill-fated raven.

I get that human nature is perhaps the hardest thing to change, so it’ll take time and more than time, but I take heart at the people and the things I’ve seen that work to prevent, manage, and dispel some of these never-changes.

Seeing “This will never change” isn’t being part of the solution. But if it sparks people to do something instead of sitting around with a bunch of nevers, then I am glad for that.

What do you think?

How to Get a Job: Secrets of a Hiring Manager

how-to-get-a-jobWhat’s this? Just a shout-out to a MASSIVE DISCOUNT just spotted on the eBook, “How to Get a Job: Secrets of a Hiring Manager,” by Alison Green.

I’m an avid reader of Alison’s Ask a Manager blog, where you get awesome advice (and opinions) free of charge that help keep you on your career path, so I have no compunction wholeheartedly endorsing this eBook.

Click here to read more and get your copy.

Death by depression

Faced with the shocking and saddening news about Robin Williams, one of my dear friends, Bob Rettmann, wrote a poignant piece that I truly feel needs to be shared among the other heartfelt posts I have seen this week.

While I won’t pretend to understand all that depression can do to somebody, I do understand the message said here and elsewhere: Suicide is but a symptom. It’s depression that kills.

What can we do about it? For starters, get some empathy. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone you work with or someone you live with, someone you know or someone you see on the screen. Depression, like so many other diseases, doesn’t play favorites.

I’ll let him tell the rest in his own words, and please do respond in the comments (here or there) with posts and resources that have helped you as well.

Let’s Call It What It Is: Death by Depression.


Image from ninerfans.com.

An Example of a Great Intern Cover Letter

[Used with permission, all names redacted.]

Every year our company hopes to find great interns to fill our paid internship positions. With that, a good cover letter goes a long way, especially if your resume may not have a lot of actual work experience at this stage.

Here’s an example of a cover letter that shows character, accountability, willingness to learn, and a heck of a lot of personality and promise.

No plagiarizing, please; use this only as inspiration.

To Whom It May Concern:

In today’s exceedingly competitive and fast-paced market, it is vital for organizations to entail strong and aggressive leadership to meet constantly evolving business development goals. I am confident that my driven personality, outstanding ability to multitask, exceptional oral and written communication skills, market research and sales experience, as well as vast knowledge of business finance and computers can contribute to the superior level of performance and innovation at <your company>.

What intrigues me most about this position offered by <your company> is the expertise and experience I would be able to gain in constructing customer identities in each of the company’s market segments, including description of roles in segment organizations by job title, what influences them to purchase, and many more. I would be able to utilize the knowledge I currently have in market research from developing a marketing plan for a college of nursing as well as constructing a new marketing strategy for <company>. Also, I would be able to apply my experience and knowledge in sales to the position, which is great when gathering information from the sales department and applying it to the market segment research.

Currently, I am seeking a position where I can uphold strong business development, marketing, sales, finance, or management performance standards, work directly with clients and make an instantaneous impact on the company. I am a full-time student athlete who works 25+ hours per week, which allows me to exercise and enhance acute time management skills. As a member of your team, I am confident that my sociable personality, innovative philosophies, and experience can make an immediate contribution to the continued success of <your company>.

The location of <your company> is not an issue seeing as I am planning on taking up residency in <your city> for the summer after spending most of the previous summer on <campus>. My resume is available for your review and consideration. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you regarding available opportunities with <your company> for the upcoming summer.

A great cover letter doesn’t have to be perfect. But if it shows, not tells, who you are and what you can bring to the company, it will get attention. And in this case, it got this person the job!

Would this style of cover letter make or break this person’s chances with your company?

Why I Don’t Spoil My Guinea Pig

My guinea pig, Teddy, has a 2 x 4 C&C cage with a 1 x 2 upper lair. He comes out to run in our guinea-pig-proofed second bedroom every day.

He gets a variety of vegetables and fruits. He has fleece to lay on. He has a plush couch. He has tubes, boxes, and other toys.


He also gets to go outside in a carefully-supervised, guinea-pig-fence-and-coverage arrangement on days favorable to guinea pig constitutions.

In short, he has more accessories than I do.


Perhaps inevitably, strangers and friends have said to me, “What a spoiled piggie!”

And that’s so not what it is.

Imagine a 6’x6′ office cube is ALL you have to live, eat, work, and do your other business in for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s it; that’s your space.

Then imagine you are entirely dependent on someone else to provide you with everything you needed to survive. Not just for some things, everything, including getting out once in awhile. Not just for a few formative years of your life or a few end years of your life, but your whole life.

Would you consider yourself spoiled if you got let out of your cube sometimes, got it cleaned, or got served something other than the exact same meal every day? Would you want to be considered spoiled?


I’d be pretty happy about it, if it were me!

I understand the phrase I hear is often laced more with an expression of disbelief than outright negativity, depending on who says it, of course. Yet the very word “spoiled” is negative in both definition and connotation, and I object to the overt nuances (and often outright spoken-nesses) of “Why are you wasting your time?” and “It’s JUST a guinea pig”-isms.

That’s why I don’t see what I do as spoiling. I see it more as treating someone as a being of consequence. There’s no “just” when someone is in your care. This is both simple and natural to me.

How do you deal when someone says you’re spoiling your pet?

And now he’s taking up an instrument: Teddy inspecting my ukulele.





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