Category Archives: tips & tricks

What should I wear to a campus interview? (Men’s version)

I over-use the Bell Curve when describing averages. Though it’s so applicable in so many and varied situations that I can’t help myself. And believe it or not, what people wear to a campus interview falls into the standard deviations laid out in the Bell Curve.

We all know the curve. The bulk of the curve, the hump, represents 70% of the populace. They’re all within expected norms of this measure. In this case, it means 70% of campus interview candidates dress alike. This is true. It also means that 15% of candidates dress impressively, while 15% dress unfortunately. This is also true. And while some may argue that there are more nuances and degrees of appropriateness, there aren’t. There really aren’t.

So let’s take a look at the three different groupings of male attire for campus interviews. I’m not necessarily going to recommend anything, but at least I’ll highlight what’s happening with the competition.

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Anne Hathaway has T-Rex arms!

Did anyone notice how uncomfortable Anne Hathaway looked while hosting the Academy Awards? Maybe it was nerves, or maybe it’s because her co-host was wooden. But whether she was anxious or not, her body language did little to help. If there was an Oscar for using T-Rex arms, she would have won the hardware. Take a look at her performance:

See how her lower arms, wrists and hands are often caught between her waist and shoulders? This is colorfully called T-Rex arms. Uncomfortable or novice presenters share these traits: A) they don’t know what to do with their hands, and B) they want to hide behind something for security. This results in T-Rex arms, when the arms and hands are used, or sort-of played with, in front of the torso in a manner that does not pertain to the presentation.

Anne clearly doesn’t know what to do with her hands. And when she does have a germane gesture, she goes way overboard–another sign of discomfort. Watch at 00:46, when she proclaims that it’s “Hollywood’s Biggest Night!” It looks like her arms finally release all the potential energy she built fiddling around her waist. Could you imagine Meryl Streep doing that with her arms? No. Not just because she’s more mature and reserved, but because she’s more comfortable and confident. T-Rex arms are a clear differentiator between confident and nervous presenters. Continue reading

Can I get people to like me more?

I like some people right away. Others take a while, though I may end up liking them more in the end. Why is that? And how do others react to me when we first meet? I did a little research on how to get people to like you, and here are ten of the top tips, in no particular order:

1. Give sincere compliments and thanks. Everyone knows a suck-up, but it’s pretty easy to give honest compliments even if you’ve just met someone. Clothing and accessories are a sure bet. “Hey–that’s a great bag.” Personal traits or characteristics work, too. “I admire the team you’ve built. They work together so well.” “Thanks for introducing yourself. I appreciate that you went out of your way.”

2. Ask lots of questions. Most people love to talk about themselves. It’s their favorite topic. And one of the first lessons in sales is that the person asking the questions is the one in control of the conversation. Asking questions to get to know someone you just met is a sign that you’re interested in them, and we’re all more apt to like people who take a shine to us, right? Continue reading

10 questions to ask your boss


Not this kind of boss

Building a rapport with the big cheese is an integral part of success–it never hurts to have friends in high places, and leadership is in the best position to provide performance appraisals and suggest options for career development. Here are ten questions to help on both fronts:


  1. What are two or three important things for me to focus on learning or improving in the next 3 months?
  2. How do you define success for this position?
  3. What can I do to make your job easier?
  4. (If the boss held your position in the past) What did you think was the best part of this position? What was the hardest part?
  5. Do other companies have this position? How do they implement it?
  6. Why do you like working here?
  7. What’s the hardest part about your job?
  8. What is something you know now that you wish you’d known at my age?
  9. What do you do when you want to get completely away from work?
  10. Is there any additional training I can take, or particular topics I could educate myself on?

Demonstrating commitment to the job and a personal interest in your team is a great way to get a leg up, and these questions are an easy start.


Post #100: Here it is!

I’ve seen post #100 coming for about two months now, and I’ve been pondering a weighty topic deserving of this milestone. And you know what? Nothing fit. Nothing matched my lofty expectations, and maybe that’s the lesson here. I turned Post 100 into the New Year’s Eve of blogging.

Truthfully, there’s no point in putting so much pressure on myself to write the perfect post. I’ve always got the next one, and the one after that. And nobody but me knows how many posts there are on Get a Leg Up anyway. Guess the cat’s out of the bag.

“Perfection is the enemy of good enough,” said Voltaire. So instead of a long, pithy, thought-provoking article (there’s a first time for everything, right?), I’m going with a short, simple, easy to digest morale.

Stop worrying about getting it done perfectly, and just focus on getting it done.

And that’s Post 100.

What if you can’t get motivated?

It’s Friday afternoon at 4:55PM, and I’ve lost motivation. I wish I had a great idea to share, but I just don’t. I want to blog, but I can’t for the life of me figure out anything to write.

So instead I’m going to walk through what I do when I’m unmotivated. (Look at me–I’m writing about not having anything to write. Trippy.) I wrote about being unmotivated at work before, but that was a list of specific tasks you can do when you can’t think of anything else. This is more like a process I use to get the juices flowing.

1. Make a list. The first thing I do when I’m unmotivated is organize. Sometimes I clean out my inbox, other times I sort the papers on my desk. I’m so much more efficient when I work from a list, so putting my to-dos down on paper is a great way to get started. I ask myself “If I was motivated, what should I be doing?” Continue reading

I can’t make friends at work!

Starting a new gig presents a different set of challenges. Not only are there concerns about learning the business, getting around campus, and driving a new route (or–gasp!–figuring out the bus schedule), but you also have to meet new people. I know lots of outgoing, friendly types who don’t have a single problem with this. But I know just as many people who are more naturally introverted or shy, and would prefer to be introduced by someone else rather than take the initiative. For these folks, making new friends at work can be a challenge. Continue reading