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  • It takes more than technical wizardry to emerge as a standout success at work. Unfortunately, many professionals lack the soft skills—including dedication, leadership, motivation, team spirit, etc.—that are essential to get ahead. Indeed, nearly one-fifth of managers cite a lack of these skills as a key reason for not hiring job candidates. With that in mind, we present the following 12 ways to make a great impression. They were adapted from the recent book, You Did What?! The Biggest Mistakes Professionals Make (Career Press/available now). In the book, authors Kim Zoller and Kerry Preston cover everything from written and verbal communications to networking etiquette to meeting decorum to handshakes. Taken individually, you may conclude that these practices aren't really a big deal. However, when you incorporate each one into your routine, you elevate your professional presence and position yourself for career advancement. Zoller is president and founder of Image Dynamics, a professional development consultancy. Preston is a leadership, communications, strategic planning and time management consultant.

  • Do you ever get the feeling that you're living in the Golden Age of technology? If so, the latest Randstad Technologies' Employee Confidence Index will confirm your belief, as overall confidence among technology professionals has soared to a record high. The positive vibes are driven in part by an increasing number of tech workers expressing confidence in the future of their employers. In addition, more IT staffers are convinced that—if they need to—they could find a new job during the next 12 months. But that's not likely to be the case, since fewer of them expect to get laid off anytime soon. "Given the rapid increase in demand for technology skills to help companies assess trends and implement emerging technologies," said Bob Dickey, group president of technology and engineering for Randstad, "we will likely see even higher confidence levels among IT professionals in the future. … This is the year of mobility, big data and cloud computing, and these rapidly evolving fields are driving tremendous demand for IT professionals with related skills." The findings include gender breakdowns, which reveal that female IT employees are significantly more likely than their male counterparts to seek a new employer over the next year. An estimated 170 U.S. tech workers took part in the research, which was conducted by the Harris Poll.

  • There's much to envy about IT workers: They're usually well-compensated. They're essential contributors to their organization's business strategies. And they often operate on the cutting edge of innovation, developing the "Next Big Thing" that everyone will be talking about tomorrow. But, among the many advantages of being a tech professional, did you ever consider … outstanding work-life balance? For most IT pros, it's probably not the first benefit that comes to mind, given the notorious hours and deadlines involved with tech professions. However, in a recent ranking of the "25 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance" from Glassdoor, IT occupations dominate, accounting for three of the top five positions and six of the top 10. And tech grabs the No. 1 spot for the best work-life balance job: data scientist. Overall, tech roles account for 15 of the 25 jobs ranked by Glassdoor, and we're highlighting those here. Along with providing the work-life balance rating, the company also lists salary information and the number of job openings for each position that were recently posted on its site. To come up with the list, Glassdoor considered jobs with at least 75 work-life balance ratings contributed by the U.S.-based employee users of its service.

  • Did you ever think that you'd be more productive in the office if, well, you didn't have to work in an office? If so, you're not alone. In fact, IT employees and other knowledge workers spend far less time getting the job done at their desk than you'd probably expect, according to a recent survey from Jabra. The accompanying report, "Productivity at the Office—Challenges 2015," paints a picture of what we'll call the "onerous office," one in which incessant emails and meetings distract employees from more important tasks. They're even sidetracked by room temperature levels and office noise. Chalk it up to a sign of the times: With more open space designs and the push for greater collaboration, workspace designs are transforming traditional norms about what constitutes the work day. "Time at work has changed considerably," according to the report. "Today it is non-routine, specialized, diverse, intense and complex. … Colleagues, rather than managers, are increasingly taking over the coordination of work. More decisions are made together, and progress of projects [is] shared more openly. This makes the requirements for effective work performance more complex." The report includes revealing insights about why meetings are often ineffective, as well as issues with an old "favorite": the conference call speaker phone. Nearly 2,500 global knowledge workers took part in the research.

  • While today's professionals describe themselves as highly productive in the office, they're also constantly dealing with work matters during their personal time—including weekends, according to a recent survey from Workfront. The accompanying "State of Enterprise Work" report indicates that technology tools such as email and mobile devices that provide anywhere, anytime access represent a double-edged sword: They help employees get their job done faster, but they also compel workers to constantly stay connected to the office. Many employees surveyed said that this 24/7/365 availability is expected at their company, and they feel obligated to always be within their clients' reach. "As enterprises grow, so do the demands on their employees in terms of productivity and communication," the report states. "Too often, this pushes existing tools, processes and schedules to the breaking point. … Conflict and misperceptions flourish, team workloads become unbalanced and employees work increasingly longer hours." More than 615 U.S. office workers took part in the research, which was conducted by the Harris Poll.

  • The vast majority of workers queried would prefer to receive additional benefits and perks over pay raises, according to a recent survey from Glassdoor. The most in-demand benefits include better health care coverage and more time off. That's certainly a sign of the times, given the continuing national debate over health care and the ongoing concerns about the lack of work-life balance. Management should pay close attention to this trend because, in today's job market, very few professionals are worried about getting laid off. And, even if they did lose their job, most of them are confident they'd be able to land a new, suitable position in a relatively short time. "As the U.S. economy continues to expand and job market confidence continues to rise, there is no doubt that it is a job seeker's market," says Rusty Rueff, a career and workplace expert at Glassdoor. "This is a clear signal to employers that, in order to compete in today's labor market, it's not just about salary and compensation. Employers should be communicating clearly about nontraditional compensation. Recruiters should take note that touting the benefits and perks offered can help win talent of different demographics, industries and occupations." More than 2,000 U.S. adults took part in the research.

  • Believe it or not, IT professionals are considered the folks with the cool jobs. In fact, the majority of non-tech employees said they'd consider a transition to an IT career, according to a recent survey from Robert Half Technology. Why? Well, in addition to the attractive salaries in technology, there's the promise of working on projects that invite innovation and intellectual stimulation, along with the tech industry culture. In the bigger-picture context, tech professions are growing increasingly popular because of the way they're influencing business on a global scale, as well as affecting the way we live our lives. Meanwhile, tech unemployment remains comparatively lower than the rates in other industries, and overall salary increases are projected to average 5.3 percent next year, according to the survey report. "The widening demand for technology talent makes now a great time for interested job seekers to find their place in the tech field," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Many tech jobs require a college degree and training, but some have fewer barriers to entry and can be attractive career paths for those who are looking to transition into the field." The research includes a sampling of tech positions with their salary ranges and certification requirements, in addition to transferable skills that make for good candidates. We've included some of that information here. More than 300 U.S. workers took part in the research.