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What’s Holding You Back at Work? How Small Things Have a Big Impact by Anita Bruzzese brought to you by

It’s often the small things… … that can hold you back. While your boss may not say it outright because he or she fears legal action or just isn’t comfortable discussing the subject, that wrinkled old pair of slacks you wear four days a week, tattered at the bottom from sweeping the floor, just doesn’t make a good impression. After all, how can your boss offer you a big project when they fear you’ll meet with important clients wearing such hideous attire?

It’s often the small things… … that can hold you back. Or, maybe your continual conversations about all the details of your personal life make them wary of offering you a promotion. The boss may worry about putting you in charge when others are embarrassed or fed up with hearing details of your hernia operation or very personal extra-curricular activities.

Are you clueless about how you’re unwittingly hurting your career? Here are some things of which you want to be aware:

1. Dress appropriately at all times If you can wear it to mow the lawn, to go to a dance club, or wear it to sleep in, you should never wear it to work (even if it’s a casual work day). A note to women: Cleavage is never appropriate at work. If you can see your cleavage when you look down, so can everyone else.

2. Watch how you sit Women have a tendency to tuck their feet into their chair, while men will throw their legs out in front of them as if they’re claiming their territory. Follow your great aunt’s advice and sit up straight and don’t fidget, tap your fingers or play with your hair.

3.Clean up your speech pattern There’s no greater wake-up call than recording yourself having a phone conversation.


If your speech pattern is full of “likes” (“It’s like, you know, like I can’t find my report”) or up-speak (“I can’t find my report? So I’ll be late?”) then you’ve got some work to do. Also work to eliminate “uh’s” or “you knows.” Talking like a teenager isn’t going to help the boss see you as promotion material.

4. Don’t have a messy space While it’s not necessary to have a pristine work space that would pass a health department inspection, having piles of papers, old coffee cups and a blizzard of Post-It notes covering your cubicle does not reassure the boss that you’re organized and ready to take on new challenges. For many bosses, a messy space equals a messy mind.

5. Don’t be a social media dummy While your boss may not have any formal social media policy, he or she is aware when you’re posting non-work related items during business hours and behaving lessthan-professionally after hours. Even if your boss is very flexible with expectations of online behavior, you still want to maintain an aura of professionalism and make sure your behavior online could stand up to scrutiny.

6. Your cell phone should not be a security blanket Holding your phone at all times, going to the bathroom with it and being glued to it during meetings does not reassure the boss that you’re capable of interacting well with others in person. One of the biggest complaints by managers is that employees don’t have enough interpersonal skills. Focus on eye contact and in-person communications, rather than your phone.

For more tips and insight and the latest academic jobs visit:

This presentation is based on an article written by Anita Bruzzese, freelance writer on topics related to workplace & career issues.

What’s Holding You Back at Work?  

How Small Things Have a Big Impact

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