On-the-Job Shaving for Your Office Werewolf

Do you start your workday looking as freshly scrubbed as Twilight’s Taylor Lautner … and by late afternoon look more like the wolf his character becomes?

For some men, keeping a clean-shaven look throughout the day feels like a losing battle. But bringing your home-shaving routine to the office is not always the easiest (or the most mannerly) thing to do.

So how’s a guy with a 5 o’clock shadow by lunchtime supposed to strike down the stubble? We’ve got several tips:

Give yourself a better shave in the morning.

Do so in the shower to banish any sign of whiskers. For the closest-possible trim, experts recommend a blade that you replace regularly instead of an electric razor.

Stage a second shave.

If you have a gym near the office, hit the weights on your lunch break and then the showers -- this will give you a chance for a second shave during the day. Unless you really are a wolf man, this preemptive attack should last you till well after closing time.

Keep a Dopp kit at your desk.

Include your razor, shaving cream and fresh blades in the kit. Like the spare dress shirt, tie and blazer you have hanging on the back of your office door, the workplace razor can be a lifesaver.

That said, you don’t want to make a habit of shaving in the washroom. For example, do you really want your boss to think you’ve got nothing better to do than groom yourself on company time? Nonetheless, there will be occasions when you have little choice. So if your beard is blooming, arrange to shave at a time when it will not inconvenience others who use the same facilities. Ideally, schedule your shaving session for when the boss has left for lunch or an off-site meeting. Either way, keep it quick, and clean the sink of any shaving residue once you’re done.

Yes, with a little bit of forethought, even the most hirsute among us can remain within a hair’s breadth of being clean-shaven -- the whole day through.

Make Your Resume Stand out in the Digital Age

You’re a job seeker who’s just crafted an e-mail you’re positive will get you an interview for your dream job. After attaching your killer resume you hit “send” and wait for a call from the hiring manager. And wait. And wait. Weeks later, you’re shocked to learn the position has gone to someone else. You never even got in the door.

If this has happened to you, chances are good that a computer program -- not a human being -- eliminated you from consideration. In an age in which there are far more job seekers than jobs, an increasing number of businesses are relying on software to weed out applicants. “The vast majority of companies with 50 or more employees are using this software,” says Chandlee Bryan, a certified professional resume writer based in New York. So how do you ensure you don’t fall victim to a thumbs-down from a machine? You’ve got to give the machine what it wants: keywords.

Deborah Bell, a certified career counselor based in Santa Rosa, Calif., recalls the time when, as an experiment, she answered an ad with nothing but a long series of words lifted straight from the job description. “I got an e-mail back saying that I matched the job description and that someone would be calling me shortly to set up an interview.” The call never actually came -- apparently, humans are still good for something -- but the fact that her application made it as far as it did underscores how important keywords are for getting noticed.

What’s the Word?
To determine your keywords, Michele Dagle, a certified Los Angeles-based professional resume writer, suggests crafting the text by cribbing from several job listings similar to the position you’re seeking. “Other excellent sources of these terms are industry websites, blogs and e-newsletters,” she says.

Once you’ve collected a batch of ads, you can quickly suss out the most important words by pasting all the text you’ve collected into the website TagCrowd.com, says Bryan (who also co-authored The Twitter Job Search Guide). In the resulting tag cloud, look out for the words that literally loom largest (the size directly correlates to frequency). Those are the terms you definitely want to use in your resume.

Bobbing and Weaving
So what’s the best way to work those words into your resume? Not by sneaking them in, Bryan counsels, explaining she has heard of candidates who “hide” keywords in their resumes by changing the words from black to white so they don’t appear on-screen or in print. This subliminal scheme goes awry, however, when the resume is scanned and converted to plain text. Suddenly, those stowaway keywords go from invisible to visible, and a recruiter will easily be able to read between the lines, so to speak. “If you don’t have the skills, don’t use those keywords,” says Dagle. You might get an interview, but you will be eliminated once it becomes apparent you don’t have the skill set you said you did.

Your goal is to get the important keywords into both your executive summary and body of the resume. Use the terms in your bullet points to convey your experience and, where possible, associate them with specific accomplishments you made at each job.

It’s not necessary to include every keyword, says Bryan. “As long as you’ve got 60 to 75 percent of what they’re looking for, you should most certainly apply.”

Format Wars
And when you’re finally ready to transmit your qualifications, make sure to follow the submission instructions. For example, don’t send a PDF if the ad calls for a Microsoft Word file. And be careful with non-text characters such as bullet points, which can show up differently depending on the computer. Last but not least, do not title your attachment “resume.doc” -- be certain your last name is in the document name. In this market, if you give a company the opportunity to disregard or forget your application, it most likely will.

The Art of Networking in 2010

Given these turbulent economic times (high unemployment, a shaky stock market, the Euro dropping...) people are looking everywhere for money-making opportunities. It’s reached a certain fervor: Average citizens have transformed into networking-vampires looking to suck job-info out of anyone they meet -- even if the encounter is at LeClerc or Roissy airport, or any other unprofessional setting.

Efficient and proper networking can be tough to navigate at the dawn of this new decade. So how to best job-hobnob? Follow our advice and you’ll learn how to find the gatekeepers standing between you and the secret opportunities. They’ll do much more for you than those people you killed time with while you waited in line.

Present yourself right

The initial step to building a network is classic, basic -- and so important: Make a good first impression. It’s pretty logical. If you want to build a web of people around you, you’ve got to attract them to you. If you’ve registered with a professional online social network, sticking a photo on your CV is the easiest way to get noticed. According to Nicholas Vieuxloup, head of PR for Paris-based site Viadeo, CVs posted on Viadeo with photos are looked at 5 to 10 times more frequently than those without pics. Also, he recommends filling out your profile, from your studies and competencies down to your centers of interest. The same goes if you’re headed to a networking soirée or a get-together where you know you might be able to make some interesting business contacts: “You make sure you’re dressed well, shaved, smiling. You present yourself, say why you’re there, and what you’re looking for. That’s how others learn about your savoir-vivre.”

Show what you can give, not just what you’ve got

Business connections work the same as friendships, marriages, or any other relationship -- everyone involved gets something from them. Otherwise they won’t last. Nicolas Thébault, founder of career advice agency Tebopro, warns that being a “collector of anonymous contacts” online won’t get you anywhere. You’ve got to show how you’ll bring value to the person you’re reaching out to. Moreover, remember that networking isn’t just about finding a job. In fact, it’s more effective when you aren’t looking for something from a potential contact. “Go toward him in the hope of exchanging information about a shared interest, much as a journalist would approach an expert,” says Thébault. “The most common networking error consists of being solely centered on yourself and your own interests.” The shared subject doesn’t even have to be about work -- if you both like running, ask him about his next race. Maybe he’s looking for a training partner. If all works out, you’ll end up building a real relationship with him, which will serve you down the line.

Get down to business

Whether you’re talking to an HR representative, writing to someone online, or hobnobbing at a networking party, “in 30 seconds or 5 lines you must be able to succeed in attracting a person’s attention,” says Thébaut. Have your pitch prepared in your head beforehand and, if your delivery succeeds, you’ll get a chance to have a fast back-and-forth dialogue. Then hopefully something more lasting develops. A valuable contact is one who gets to know you and will recommend you as a professional, says Vieuxloup. “It will activate your career on the long term.”

Manage your reputation

Again, networking isn’t only -- or even principally -- about looking for jobs. Vieuxloup suggests using online business networking sites (besides Viadeo, LinkedIn is another big one) as resources for finding investors, generating business, looking for products, and just generally building a name for yourself. The latter is super important in this Age of Information. “Your reputation is really fundamental,” says Vieuxloup. “You have to think about it and have a strategy -- know what you want to do, who you should get in contact with, and what you should say to them.” For instance, don’t approach someone with, “Pierre Bloch referred me to you,” if Pierre didn’t. He very well might know Pierre -- business communities tend to be tight (bankers eat lunch together, newspaper editors hang out together, etc.). Maybe he doesn’t have the best relationship with Pierre; or maybe he’ll check in with Pierre, who will be perturbed that you used his name. With one simple sentence you’ve hurt both an existing relationship and an opportunity. So be prudent!

Out-of-the-Box Ways to Get That Job

The spiel of the Manhattan subway panhandler is usually pretty predictable: “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. I’m sorry to interrupt your ride ...” (This is usually followed by jaded passengers pushing their iPod buds in tight and averting their eyes.)

One day, though, that familiar refrain was followed by a completely unexpected pitch: “I graduated from college with a degree in marketing three months ago, and I really need a job.”

As subway riders looked up cautiously, they saw an impeccably groomed young man -- wearing a suit and freshly shined wingtips -- holding a stack of résumés. “If you know of anyone who might have positions open, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take one of these and pass it along.”

The fate of this earnest young grad remains unknown. But what do recruiters and HR pros generally think of this kind of creativity and moxie when it comes to job hunting? Is it OK to let your search go rogue?

“We’ve all seen the reports on CNN of job seekers wearing sandwich boards advertising their skills,” says Margo Morgenlander, founder of Professional Recruitment Solutions, a staffing company based in Orange County, Calif. “But that technique can backfire, particularly if you’re targeting a fairly conservative company.”

And don’t even think of posting photos of yourself on Facebook wearing that sandwich board or, worse, the gorilla outfit you rented to generate attention in your dream company’s parking lot. “Hiring managers absolutely check out your Facebook profile,” says Morgenlander. “When they see a picture like that, they’re going to say, ‘I don’t want that wackadoodle in my company.’” (But then, do you really want to work at a company where people use the word wackadoodle?)

Deborah Bell, a private certified career counselor in Santa Rosa, Calif., who also conducts workshops for Sonoma County’s employment and job-training program, agrees. “One of the most unusual instances I saw was of a candidate who taped a résumé to a box of chocolates.” This Forest Gump–style move makes more sense once Bell explains that the job listing read: “Must have a sense of humor and love chocolate.” And then there was the applicant whose cover letter said, “I’m a shoe-in for the job. The résumé was delivered in -- what else? -- a shoe!

Another example of clever self-promotion was pulled off by Alec Brownstein, a job seeker who used Google AdWords to buy search ads containing the names of the creative directors whose attention he sought. Any time one of them Googled themselves, Brownstein’s ad appeared, calling out for attention -- and a job. He ultimately landed a position at the white-glove Madison Avenue firm Young & Rubicam. What does Morgenlander think of this modern-day Mad Men scheme? “It was simply brilliant -- for his target audience. Would I suggest this strategy for other professions? Not necessarily.”

Vicki Salemi, a New York–based career expert, public speaker and author of Big Career in the Big City, agrees. “These measures can work well if you’re applying for a job in a field that rewards that sort of thinking, such as advertising or marketing,” she says “Otherwise, it shows you to be a loose cannon.”

So how does a job seeker stand out in a market where, according to Bell, one job listing can attract 300 or more applicants? “Make sure your résumé contains all the keywords in the ad,” she says. Many companies use screening software that will immediately weed out your application if you don’t have the same skills enumerated in the job listing.

“Enable yourself to your network,” says Salemi. Every meeting, every graduation party, every birthday, every hour on the golf course is a potential networking opportunity. So have your elevator speech ready -- wherever you go. And when you do get that interview, she advises, “Be polished. Shave. Don’t swear. And even if you normally wear three earrings, take them out.”

Few hiring managers could legally admit this, says Morgenlander, but “people always hire individuals whom they like and like to look at -- even if they’re not the most qualified candidates for the position.” So it behooves you to find out as much about the hiring manager as you can in advance. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to investigate common ground you might have, and discuss those shared interests when you get a foot (not a shoe!) in the door for an interview.

In the long run, if you follow these proven techniques, you’ll have a much better shot at the job than you’ll have hanging out next to the headquarters of Intel or Bank of America in a rented gorilla suit. Besides, says Morgenlander, “Who wants to be wearing a gorilla suit in summertime anyway?”

Return to Work Way Ahead of the Game

My current situation:

About to embark on a weeklong international trip, where I’ll have little or no Web or cell access.

My dilemma:

My to-do list is shorter than it was yesterday, but there’s one thing I’ve yet to cross off: finishing this article. Oh, the irony.

I’ve always envied the organizational habits of friends who can leave for a vacation without spending as many hours preparing for their absence as they plan to spend being absent. Determined to master their secrets, I sought the counsel of some organizational pros, the sort of folks who always have perfectly sharpened pencils on their desks and impeccably labeled files in their cabinets.

Get Organized -- For Good

Peggy Duncan, a personal productivity expert based in Atlanta says the key to enjoying a holiday without leaving mayhem behind is to be organized all year round. “For people who work stressed out every day and then go on vacation for a week, the break will not do them any good.”

Even for those who are able to put work out of mind before a trip, Duncan is not hopeful about what they will encounter on their return: “They’ll have to deal with the week of chaos that built up because of how disorganized they are.”

Stay in Touch

John Trosko, a professional organizer based in Los Angeles, offered some (metaphorical) adhesive bandages. He says he urges people to maintain at least some contact with the office while they’re away. “How really unplugged from work do you need to be?” he asks. “When I was a production coordinator for Walt Disney Animation Studios, I had a coronary every time I went on vacation. Now, with our smartphones and laptops, it just feels a little easier.”

Give Access, Get Automated

Even for those who prefer to be “off-grid” while they’re gone, Trosko offers these bits of advice:

  1. Delegate to a good team.

    If within your control, have a good team in place to fulfill time-sensitive responsibilities while you’re away. And make sure outsiders know who to call for assistance with urgent queries.
  1. Share important documents

    with those who’ll need to access them via tools such as Google Docs or SharePoint.
  1. Allow an assistant to access your email

    while you’re gone so spam and non-important messages can be deleted before you return.
  1. Set up an auto response

    using keywords so that any emails pertaining to ongoing but mundane situations can be handled automatically.
  1. If your office is a mess, clean it.

    Typically operate using the excavating-though-a-large-desk-pile system? Ask yourself whether it’ll be as “logical” for others who might need to pitch in while you’re gone. Don’t count on your colleagues to be able to find everything they need all on their own. Before leaving, put all important items in one area -- ideally in a binder -- for easy access.
Hit the Return Key

And what about maintaining your sanity (and relaxation) post-vacation? Duncan has these pointers:

  1. Spend one day in the office the weekend before you’re due back at work.

    It’s worth giving up a day on your weekend so you can come back more calm. Just treat yourself to something special when you finish getting caught up.
  1. Schedule no meetings

    the first two days after your return.
  1. Arrive extra early

    -- before most of your associates arrive in the office -- on your first day back to work.

“I’ve systemized my business,” explains Duncan, who is also the author of The Time Management Memory Jogger. “Because I work smart all the time, I don’t ever feel like I have to take a break.”

I don’t know whether I’ll ever achieve Duncan’s level of Zen, but the good news -- at least for now -- is, I’ve still got a few hours to get to the airport, and this story is done. Even better, I now know how to make my next vacation a stress-free one before, during and after.