The Right Way to Toot Your Own Horn at Work

It is crucial that your employers are cognizant of your hard work and efforts…and the only one who will communicate this is…YOU.

However, you may be like many and feel uncomfortable talking about yourself.  Without practice, informing can turn into bragging.

To avoid this and successfully communicate your progress to your employer, follow these tips:

Use a Positive Tone

Present yourself with a positive attitude, smile, and do not dwell on your dislikes.  You want your employers to think happy thoughts when they think of you.  So, you will need to talk about your achievements and what you like about the job.

If you feel like you are a victim and are forced to do a lot of work, then you are not going to get as much praise as someone who touts that they accomplished A, B, and C.

Be positive and speak about your progress.

Focus on Yourself, Not Others

This is not sibling rivalry and you are not your coworkers.  Even if you are doing a lot more work than others, do not mention this in a progress report.

When you compare yourself to your colleagues, you make them the standard (to which you are indicating that you should be held).  You also make yourself look petty.

This should be all about you and the great things that you are doing.  You really do not want your employers to be thinking about your colleagues during this discussion.

Provide an Update, Not a List

Lists are great for quantity, but details are needed for quality.  Have a conversation.  Let your employer know about any special cases or projects that you worked on.

Let them see your passion by explaining the process and details of specific tasks.  Show them that you go out of your way to do a great job by giving them examples.

Regulate Your Horn Tooting Frequency

Clearly, you do not want to give updates too frequently or to sparingly.  However, the frequency depends on the nature of your work…as well as your relationship with your boss.

Set up a standing meeting with your boss.  To decide whether it should be weekly, biweekly, or monthly, ask yourself:

  • How often do I complete new tasks that I can report?
  • What frequency would be most convenient for my employer?
  • How often does my employer complete spot checks where we discuss the task at hand?
  • Do I provide updates in staff meetings? How frequently? How detailed?

Always Mention the Future

Employers love employees that are always trying to improve.  To avoid bragging, you need to mention one or two challenges.

But, of course, you cannot mention a problem without a solution.  Clarify your desired end-result and a summary of your plan to get there.

For example: “I am struggling my patient load, since I want to give detailed attention to all of them.  But, I know I must prioritize.  So, I am going to pilot a strategy where I “screen” all the patients per station, prioritize them, and determine the amount of time that I can dedicate to each.  I will let you know how this works next time we meet.”

Use these strategies to reveal your value at work.  A little communication goes a long way.

For more insights, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

About the Author

Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD is the founder of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals. She has spent over a decade providing education and career guidance to nutrition students, interns, and professionals.

Connect with Devon on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

Boundaries: The secret to work-life balance

Each time you work extra, you spend less time on the other factors of your life…including your family and yourself. 

The way to combat this is much easier said than done.  Set boundaries and stick to them. 

But, how do you do that when you are feeling pressure to stay late, work extra, and compromise other aspects of your life?

Well, it really depends on how you introduce those boundaries to yourself and to others in your life.  Use the following strategies to help you find the balance you crave.

  1. Set Realistic Time Boundaries

We all know about the 40-hour work week, but this is not the norm for a lot of professionals.  Ask yourself as well as your employer how many hours you should dedicate each week to your job. 

You may want to work 45-50 hours out of the 112 weekly hours that you are awake.  Or your employer may be more focused on productivity rather than time.  Which means efficiency is your best friend.

Whatever the case, select the total hours per week that you will work.  Develop a schedule in which these hours are routinely reached.  Write it down and share it.

  1. Define Working Behaviors

The location of your work is not as important as the behaviors that you do to engage in work.  Why do I say this?  Well, too many times do I have clients who discover that their phone and laptop are conduits to work…conduits which accompany them everywhere they go. 

Emails, phone calls, scheduling, and more are all involved in work and need to be recognized as working behaviors.  Separate work communication from social communication with different email addresses, phone numbers, and even social media accounts. 

Write down all of your actions related to work for at least one day.  Determine the actions that could easily invade your personal life.  Set boundaries on these and include them in your time boundary. 

(*Extra tip: Determine whether professional behaviors such as volunteering, being active in a professional organization, or professional gatherings are going to be included in your work time or your social time.)

  1. Be Rigid

You need to be unwavering in upholding these boundaries.  Hence the need for realistic boundaries that include pre-defined exceptions and pre-planned breaks. 

This means that only emergencies of vital concern can lead to flexibility in your boundaries.

  1. Write Them Down

Make a full commitment to these boundaries by writing them down on paper (or typing them up).  This will not only make these boundaries more concrete, but will also help you clearly define them.

 

  1. Share Them With Others

Help others hold you accountable by sharing this with your employer, your family, and your friends.  If it impacts them, share it with them…this may even mean your coworkers who rely on you.

This is often the key to finding work-life balance…let everyone know your efforts in doing so.  Those that are interested in your happiness will support you.  Those who won’t support you are not worth your time.

Follow these strategies to develop, compose, and communicate your work boundaries. 

Do not forget, that balance goes both ways.  Unexpected family time will lead to compensatory work time.  But, let’s face the facts…this is not typically the case.  Plan this in your boundaries and you will not need to lean on flexibility to make them work. 

For more insights, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

Also, check out the online course, Developing Your Career Plan, to earn 5 CPEUs while planning the career that considers your value for balance.  

 

When To Leave A Job You Don’t Love

Many of my clients have mentioned their concern of looking “flighty” if they leave a job before 2 years has passed.  They are fearful that this will communicate that they are not able to make a commitment.  This concern resonates to such a high degree that they are willing to stay at a job that is clearly a professional dead end.

Truth is, some potential employers may look at a resume with several 1-2-year duration jobs and think “Why can’t this person settle down?”.  The question is: Do you want this person to be your next employer?

Wouldn’t you rather work for the employer who gives the applicant the benefit of the doubt?

The one that thinks highly of the increased exposure?  

The one that recognizes that great employees who cannot grow within one system find a different system?

The way we work has completely changed and the wisest employers recognize that promotions, advancement, and professional development are just as important as pay.  Amazing employees who are at a job for over a year and have not taken a step up on the development ladder get bored and restless.

If you are at a job that is not “ringing your bell” despite your efforts to advance, improve, and grow…then you have not been given a reason to commit.  You do not owe your allegiance to an employer that does not meet your needs.

Given, this is not an excuse to leave your job because of a bad week, a failed project, or a denial in promotion.  This is not an excuse to leave a job before making efforts to challenge yourself and break into new areas.

Before leaving, consider how to improve your status.  The best bet is to find or create a role that would bring more meaning and joy to your workday.

But, if months of trying to remediate the feeling of being undervalued, underpaid, overworked, and/or bored have resulted in nada…then, it’s time to get ready to leave.

Before you leave, complete a self-assessment.  With each new experience, you will need to reassess your values, skills, and interests.  Determine what you need to be happy before you start interviewing.  In fact, bring these requirements to your current employer to see if they can help you fulfill them.  If they can’t or won’t…bye bye…someone else will.

Life is too short to work at job that you do not love.

To learn more about self-assessment and career planning, check out the online, self-study career planning course (worth 5 CPEUs). 

For more insights, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

About the Author

Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD is the founder of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals. She has spent over a decade providing education and career guidance to nutrition students, interns, and professionals.

Connect with Devon on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

Is it time for a break from work?

There is a fine line between needing a break and breaking down.  There are a few signs that all professionals need to know before they cross this line.

Pay attention to the following to determine if you need to take a break.

Down-swing in attitude

Do you find yourself complaining more often?  Are you overly annoyed at pesky issues? Are you speaking less to colleagues and smiling less at work?

These are all signs that your attitude is declining and you need to take a break.

Loss of motivation

A drop in the drive to do your best, to please others, and to make the most out of each day is a very clear sign that you need a break.  If you hear yourself saying “I just don’t feel like doing work today,” then you have lost motivation.

General malaise

Sometimes a reduction in motivation is disguised as fatigue.  You just don’t have the energy to deal with everything.  You are tired and are constantly reducing your list of priorities.  Sick or not, you need to take a break.

Reduced tolerance of others

Are your coworkers and bosses bothering you more than usual?  Are you dreading interaction with people at work?  Withdrawing from social interaction is a clear sign that you need a break.

Numbness to the purpose

If work feels meaningless and you feel like you are just another cog in a pointless machine…then it is time to take a break and evaluate.  Successful professionals have a purpose.  Take the time you need to make the necessary changes to find your purpose.

Noticing even one of these signs is a strong indicator that you need to take a break. 

You may just need a vacation so that you stop thinking about work.  You may need to shift your focus to other parts of your life.  You may need to evaluate your career plan and question your position, duties, or even your job.

Do not wait until you are at a breaking point.  Pick up on the signs and act.

To learn more about planning purpose into your career, check out the online, self-study career planning course (worth 5 CPEUs).

 

For more insights, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

About the Author

Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD is the founder of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals. She has spent over a decade providing education and career guidance to nutrition students, interns, and professionals.

Connect with Devon on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

Dealing with Professional Gridlock

Authored by Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD

You entered the field because you wanted to help others through one of your passions.  Yet, here you are…a credentialed professional working at a typical job in the field and… you are not happy.

You start to think: “Maybe this profession is not for me.”

Take it a step further and you may even find yourself frustrated with the field politics, the employment norms, and the status quo. 

Your attitude may even have taken a dive.

What should you do?

Don’t get discouraged.  You are on the right track for acknowledging this inner turmoil.  If you are feeling this way, it is time to ask questions and make changes.

I have helped many people in the same position.  With a little bit of analysis, you can make informed decisions that will lead you to a more fulfilling career…whether it is in this field or not.

Let me introduce you to the P.P.P’s.  These are three important areas to explore when evaluating your career.

Purpose

Why did you originally get involved in this field?  What was your purpose?

Do you still want to do that?

Do you feel you are doing that?

Position

What do you like and dislike about your work? Making a ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ list will help you evaluate and summarize your feelings.

Of all the dislikes, which ones are “deal breakers”? Knowing the dislikes is only part of the assessment…you need to know why you still encounter these dislikes. What are the barriers to your professional fulfillment?

Explore the circumstances.  Are these barriers related to the job, the sector of the field, the entire profession, and/or to you?

Possibilities

What are your options?

Starting all over in a new field is certainly an option…but is it the best one for you?  Explore all your options before deciding.  You can make changes in yourself, in your position, and within the field.

 

Explore these three areas to get yourself back on track to a fulfilling career.

 

Visit www.icenp.org to learn more about the online, self-paced career planning course (5 CPEUs) as well as the professional guidance and coaching services.

For more insights, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

The Power of Nutrition Professionals Who LOVE Their Job

Nutrition professionals are most effective when they are working in a job that they love.  Watch this video to get a small hint of the power of nutrition professionals.

If you are not in a job that makes you feel like you are making a difference, then it is time for some changes.  Join the thousands of nutrition professionals who feel fulfilled in their career.  Go to bed every night knowing that you made a difference that day.

For individualized guidance, go to www.icenp.org

To learn more strategies, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

About the Author: Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD

Dr. Devon L. Golem has been a registered dietitian for 14 years and has worked in a variety of settings.  She earned her PhD in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Exercise Sciences from Rutgers University.  She has educated dietitians and pre-professionals since 2003. Devon is the founder and CEO of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals.  Feel free to contact her at the Institute website (www.icenp.org) or connect with her on LinkedIn

 

How Your Blog Can Help You Get Hired

When applicants include a link to their professional blog on their resumes, a few positive attributes immediately come to mind:

  1. Self-motivated. They are not required to have a blog and spend the time posting, but do.
  2. Passionate. Their interest in the field is deep enough to write about it regularly.
  3. Technological Potential. They are familiar with a blogging platform and possibly other online resources.
  4. Communication Potential. They are currently practicing at least one mode of communication.

These thoughts occur even before I click on the link or look at the rest of the resume.  

Pretty great start to the 5 second “look over”. If the rest of their resume even minimally meets the position criteria, I will click on their blog link.

When an interviewer visits your blog, this is what they look at:

Style and Presentation

From the overall website layout and theme to the style of writing, the reader will get a sense of your personality within a couple clicks of your website.  

It takes a lot of effort to set up a website, even with the use of templates. Make your selections intentional and to your liking. Your website represents you…make sure you are proud of it.

Content: Appropriate & Appealing

Of course, field-specific content is appropriate. To show that you are highly interested in the field, you must write about it. But, what I really mean by “appropriate” is that it is evidence-based content. 

Avoid sharing opinions that are not supported by evidence. Avoid lopsided reporting on any topic and provide a well-rounded view. Share safe, reasonable advice.

Get creative with titles, graphics, and methods of blogging. Feel free to include vlogs (video logs), video scribes, and infographics. You do not need to dress up all your blogs, but they all need to be appealing to readers.

Organization of Thoughts

Not only is the organization of the website crucial, but the organization of information in your blog posts is just as meaningful. 

Blog posts are micro-articles with a beginning, a middle, and an end. There should be subtitles and bullet points for ease of reading. Use pictures to break up the monotony of words.  

These are just some tactics that help you organize your thoughts in a methodical manner.

Use of Resources

There are two types of resources that can be seen on a blog website: reader resources and blogger resources. 

The act of sharing resources is a big part of our profession and we need to use all modes of communication to do this. Inserting a link to an authoritative source is an easy way to provide the readers a resource.

Blogger resources are often used to connect with the audience. The use of contact forms, email subscription forms, and share links to social media platforms reveals that the blogger can utilize resources available to them.

About the Author

Paired with a professional picture, the bio is a chance for the interviewer to get to know you a little more. This one-paragraph summary can provide the reader with additional information that they would not obtain from standard application materials. 

To remain professional, avoid run on sentences and getting too personal. Most the summary should discuss experience, achievements, and education. Limit personal background to 1-2 sentences. 

In conclusion, your blog not only reveals that you are motivated, passionate, and hardworking…it also gives the potential interviewer a lot more information about you.

To get more insights like this, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

Need some one-on-one coaching? Get professional guidance from Dr. Devon L. Golem. Email icenp@icenp.org or go to www.icenp.org to learn more and request an exploratory call.  

Dr. Devon L. Golem is a registered dietitian and earned her PhD in Nutritional Science with an emphasis in Exercise from Rutgers University. She founded the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals (www.icenp.org) in 2016 to provide guidance and education to nutrition professionals and preprofessionals.

 

Connect with Devon on LinkedIn or join one of her LinkedIn Groups:

Nutrition Professional Resource Group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12001356)

Dietetic & Nutrition Students & Interns (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12008828) which is also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/DieteticNutritionStudentsInterns/)

Why Blogging Should be Mandatory for Nutrition Professionals

Many dietetic programs are now including blog-based assignments in their curriculum.  This is a great move on the part of the educator.  However, introducing this skill to students is just the beginning.

It is time for nutrition professionals, of ALL types, to start seeing blog posts as a standard mode of communication.

Don’t get me wrong…there are a lot of nutrition blogs out there and a lot of nutrition professionals who are honing this skill.  (Give yourself a pat on the back if this is you.)

But, for those who do not think that this applies to them or their line of work, keep this in mind…

Many people will read a blog post before being informed by other modes of communication.       (This means your employees, patients, and/or patrons.)

Don’t believe me?  Check out some of these statistics:

  • In 2012, a survey completed by BlogHer revealed that 81% of online consumers in the US trusted information and advice from blogs.
  • MyMarketingDept projected that over 125 million people will be regular blog readers, back in 2013.
  • On any given day, approximately 2 million blog posts are written before 10:00 a.m. EST. (http://www.worldometers.info/blogs/)

The phenomenon of blog posts has transformed into a standard mode of communication and is no longer heavily studied (hence the old survey dates).

Blogs are not just being used to reach out to the public.  They provide another way to communicate to your employees, colleagues, patients, and customers.

Communicate using a mode that many people prefer.

Start incorporating your professional messages into blog posts and see the response rate.

 Employees start reading memos, patients start reading about their nutrition therapy, and interdisciplinary team members start learning more about your plans.

It’s time to use this tool to outnumber self-proclaimed experts and to communicate to those we work with.

To get more insights like this, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

Need some one-on-one coaching?  Get professional guidance from Dr. Devon L. Golem.  Email icenp@icenp.org or go to www.icenp.org to learn more and request an exploratory call.

The Skills You Gain From Blogging

Anyone can start a blog, but not everyone can maintain one.  It’s a challenge…because it requires you to grow and gain skills.

Here are the skill sets that you will hone by diving into this new communication mode:

Teaching Skills

Readers want to learn.  This is the reason that they click on any appealing blog post link.

If they dedicate their time and attention, they should gain a new perspective and/or new information.  This means that a blog post is an educational tool.

Blogging provides the opportunity to provide educational messages that are evidence-based and well-rounded.

Communication Skills

The communication style is completely different in a blog post compared to other informative platforms.

Unlike scientific publications and textbooks, blog posts must be brief, concise, and engaging.  The message needs to be communicated in a short amount of time.

Readers are looking for quick, eye-appealing information.  The use of short sentences, segmentation, and pictures are necessary to convey a message quickly.

Bloggers break a lot of writing rules to write in a conversational manner.

To see what I mean, pay attention to the writing style of the posts you read in-full vs. the ones you don’t.

Marketing Skills

Do not confuse blogging with journaling or writing in a diary.   To maintain a successful blog, posts must be timely, attractive, and directed to the desires of the audience.

Bloggers must create striking blog covers with enticing titles.  They must provide genuine and useful information.  They must know their audience well enough to casually speak to them through their posts.

The number of views, likes, and positive comments are all indicators of the success of a post.  Bloggers also learn to grow their subscriber base and maintain relationship with their followers. All parts of marketing.

Technological Skills

Of course, a blogger must know how to manage their own website and how to post on that website.   They also learn ways to share their posts on a variety of social media platforms.

Successful bloggers often manage an email campaign service  to engage regularly with their subscribers.

Blogging enables them to gain more exposure to new tools and resources online…from creating appealing graphics to scheduling the post…bloggers do it all.

Blogging has become a standard method to communicate and educate…two necessary skills for all nutrition professionals.

Whether you are managing employees, providing care to patients, working with medical teams, or counseling clients…blogging can help you communicate.

Its reach and use has expaned to all areas of the field.  Improve your communication skills…start blogging today.

To get more insights like this, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

Need some one-on-one coaching?  Get professional guidance from Dr. Devon L. Golem.  Email icenp@icenp.org or go to www.icenp.org to learn more and request an exploratory call.

How to Talk to Important People Over the Phone

Prepping for a phone interview? Do you need to schedule an important phone call?

Watch this video or read the article below!

Although we do not talk over the phone as much as we used to, phone calls fulfill a very specific set of communication needs. 

I always recommend that applicants call organizations before they apply. Job applicants should call potential employers and current employees.  Academic or internship applicants should call program directors and current students/interns. 

The more people you talk to, the more information you gain and the more connections you make.

Phone calls are an efficient means of communication and provide the opportunity to build a personal connection. Unlike typed/written communication (e.g. email, text, etc.), phone calls support relationship building through real-time communication. BUT…

Talking over the phone poses a challenge to many people.  We email, text, and message much more than we talk over the phone. The time to contemplate and edit is dramatically reduced when speaking in real-time. So, many are uncomfortable over the phone and prefer emailing.

How do you overcome this challenge?

Whether you are preparing for a phone interview or an important phone meeting, practice is key. The more you talk over the phone the better you will get at it. However, “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

How do you practice perfectly? 

First, you must remember the reason you are talking over the phone instead of emailing: to make a connection. In order to do this, you must convey your personality and character.

Here are six strategies that will help you convey your character and build a connection over the phone. 

6. Prepare

If you are hopelessly dependent on written communication, then compose an outline or email prior to your conversation. There are a few questions to answer when preparing for an important phone call:

  • a.  What do you want to accomplish? Determine the overall goal of this phone call.  Keeping this goal in mind will help you feel more confident and focused. 
  • b.  What are you two going to talk about? Plan the topics or points you want to address. Write them down.
  • c.  What kind of connection are trying to build? Professional? Respectful? Friendly? Brainstorm a list of terms and phrases that convey these adjectives. Thinking of these will help you incorporate them in your speech.
  • d.  How are you going to address this person? Determine whether you are going to use formal or informal (professional or casual) language. For example, how are you going to address this person (e.g. Dr.; Mrs.; Billy)?

5. Smile

Typically, you want to project a positive tone. Although the person on the other line cannot see you, smiling can be heard. The activation of these particular orofacial muscles changes your pronunciation and tone. It also releases endorphins which makes you feel more at ease.

When you feel at ease, so does the person on the other line. 

 

4. Pose

 If you are not power-posing yet, then it is time to start. The posture of your body influences your mood and behavior through hormonal fluctuations. 

 When you open up your shoulders and chest, stand tall, and stand proud…then you feel tall and proud. 

While on the phone, try to open up your posture and make yourself as big as possible. So, place your appendages outside the width of your torso. This can mean placing your hands on your hips and the back of your head, standing with feet hip-width apart, or crossing your ankle over your knee when you sit.

 For more information on power-posing, see Dr. Amy Cuddy discuss her research HERE.

3. Look Awesome

For important phone calls, you should feel important. Do not confuse this with dressing in an out-of-the ordinary, uncomfortable business suit. 

Only your opinion of “looking awesome” counts here!

Select an outfit, hairdo, and other accoutrement that makes you feel ‘on top of the world’. 

The better you look, the better you feel….the better you communicate.

 

2. Breathe

If you find yourself gasping for air, then you are not breathing. As innate as this is, without practice, we can improperly alternate speaking with breathing. 

This means that you are not thinking of your conversation in terms of sentences. You cannot breathe at the end of a sentence if you do not know where it is. 

Here is a technique to avoid this:

  • Start a thought with a preface word or phrase “Well…” or “What I was thinking…”
  • Take a deep breath. Loud enough for the other person to hear it. Out and in or in and out.
  • During the breath, think about the sentence you are about to say.
  • Finish the sentence with another breath while you think of the next sentence.

People do not mind hearing you breathe…this actually lets them know that you are still on the line. This breathing pattern will also let you set the pace. 

Once you find your pace, you will not have to think about it. So, practice with friends and family.

1. Get comfortable with silence

You also must practice to avoid filling silence. The need to fill silence with speech leads to jabbering. Providing too much unnecessary information can lead the conversation off topic, off schedule, and can make both parties feel uncomfortable. Not ideal.

If you are preparing for an important phone call, then you may want to ask someone that you are not 100% comfortable with (e.g. a colleague, a family member of a friend, an acquaintance, etc.) to practice with you. 

Do not let them know that practicing bouts of silence is one of your aims. That way, they will say something if your bouts of silence are too long. 

Follow these strategies and soon you will be a pro at connecting over the phone.

For more tips like these, sign up for the Professional Insights newsletter.

To learn more about talking to DI Directors and dietetic interns over the phone, try out the DI Application Crash Course

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