7 Bad Habits That Are Secretly Driving Your Co-Workers Crazy

Are you guilty of engaging in any of these insanity-inspiring habits at work?

1) Making an unreasonable amount of noise. Without fail, the first annoying office habit that every expert I interviewed mentioned was making too much noise. Most office workers are reasonable enough not to expect silence throughout the workday, but excessive or repetitive noise gets annoying fast. Think “listening to voicemail on your speakerphone in a cube environment,” says Johanna Rothman, author of “Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management.” Talking too loudly on the phone, popping gum, crunching ice, munching on chips, singing and noisy tics such as throat-clearing, were other annoying examples experts mentioned.

2) Causing chaos on conference-calls. A subset of making too much noise is being the source of distracting background noise during a conference call or remote meeting. People can hear if you’re pulling pretzels out of a crinkly bag, says Rothman. She recommends getting a high-quality headset instead of using speakerphone to go hands free because it will pick up much less background noise. “There is a difference between a $30 headset and a $100 headset. Don’t scrimp,” she warns.

3) Being a source of strong smells. Your family may beg for more of your extra-garlicky recipes and your girlfriend just loves the smell of your cologne, but “your colleagues probably don’t feel the same, and so are greatly irked” when you bring those smells into the office, says Anita Bruzzese, author of “Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy. . . and How to Avoid Them.” They also won’t be happy if you neglect your personal hygiene and bring body odor to work, says Miller.

4) Engaging in excessive chit-chat. The office is first and foremost a place to get work done, and co-workers can get annoyed if you spend too much time engaging in small talk instead of concentrating on the task at hand. “Watch people’s body language,” says Carolyn Hax, who writes a syndicated advice column at The Washington Post. “When you’re telling that hilarious story about your weekend, are your colleague’s eyes on you, or drifting over to her computer screen? If it’s the latter, cut yourself off, apologize for getting carried away with your saga and say you’ll finish it later. Then, don’t finish it later unless your colleague specifically says, ‘Hey, you never finished telling me that hilarious story about your weekend.’

5) Doing things that gross people out. This could be coming in when you’re coughing and sneezing like crazy, clipping your fingernails or toenails, or picking your nose or fingernails and then touching a piece of shared office equipment. “Even if I was not ick-factored out, I would get germ-factored out,” says Rothman.

6) Touching too much or in unwanted ways. “Touchy-feely types” who poke, hug, tickle or grab their fellow employees or who reach out and touch or pat pregnant bellies commonly drive co-workers crazy, says Miller. Remember your co-workers aren’t necessarily your friends and even those who are may not enjoy being touched.

7) Invading others’ personal space. “Space invaders burst uninvited into cubicles and “borrow” office supplies without asking,” says Miller. Even though cubes don’t have doors, they do constitute personal space, so remember to be considerate. You also want to be thoughtful when you’re collaborating around a single computer. “I don’t like people putting their fingers on my monitor,” says Rothman. “I point to the monitor with the back end of my pen to avoid scratching or damaging the monitor.”


Technology is giving us clues into how people read online resumes—how their eyes travel over the page, where they pause, what they move to next. Dr. Jakob Nielsen, a pioneer in the field of usability, conducted an eye-tracking study on the reading habits of web users. The research study displayed that participants exhibited an F-shaped pattern when scanning web content.

With this “F factor” in mind, when you are composing your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, or other career-comm documents, think about how you can position key information and impressive accomplishments in these areas. Doing so will increase the likelihood of readability and comprehension for recruiters and hiring managers.

Here are six secrets to leverage the “F factor” in resumes:

1. Use Keyword In Headings And Subheadings

Choose keywords for headings and subheadings when possible. For example, instead of “Professional Experience” as a category heading on your resume, consider “Sales Management Experience” or “Customer Service Experience” or other appropriate title. As recruiters scan the resume headings, they’ll get an extra dose of the keywords they’re looking for.

2. Position Impact Statements Near The Company Name

Since readers look for company names and dates as part of their first impression, consider adding a key impact statement or accomplishment between the company name (on left side of resume) and the date (on right side of resume), as this example with yellow highlighting shows:

3. Lead With Info-Carrying Information

Front-load paragraphs and bullet points with info-carrying words, accomplishments, and/or numbers. For example, instead of saying “Developed strategy to boost untapped VA contract from $250K to $2.5M”, lead with “10-fold increase: Built VA contract from $250K to $2.5M.”

4. Use Graphics To Convey Key Information

Consider adding a graph or chart to convey important information. A picture IS worth a thousand words!

5. Keep Key Info Above The Fold

Keep the meatiest information up high on the page. Even though many resumes are read on a computer screen, the information near the first third to half of the page is still the most important real estate on the page/screen.

6. Center Important Points Near “F” Bars

Consider centering key information in a text-box, as the example below shows.

Review your resume today and consider potential tweaks to increase its readability. Getting the “F Factor” into your resume may earn you an “A” in your job search!


Questions You Should NOT Ask at an Interview

Chances are you’ve prepared answers to a variety of questions an interviewer might throw your way, but have you spent equal time considering the questions you want to pose to a potential employer? What you ask (and sometimes when) can speak volumes about your interest and work ethic. Keep interviewers from cringing — and possibly questioning your suitability for the position — by avoiding these seven questions:

1. What does your company do?

Sure, an interview is a two-way street designed for both parties to learn about one another. Yet how can a job seeker prove he is the person for the position if he doesn’t even know the basics about where he wants to work?

“I feel that if someone is coming to an interview, he should have some background about who we are and what we do,” says Tina Kummelman, human resources business partner for Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore, Md. “Specific questions are great, but the overall blanketed question tells me someone did not do his homework.”

Bottom line: Don’t waste the interviewer’s time by having her recite what could have been learned beforehand on the company’s website.

2. How much does the role pay?

It may be the answer you’re dying to know, but seeking this information too soon can make you look like you’re jumping the gun.

“Just don’t ask it. It sends the wrong message,” says Chris Brabec, director of leadership talent acquisition for Western Union. Adds colleague Julie Rulis, senior recruiter with the talent acquisition team, “I believe this question should be saved for later stages in the interview process. Asking about salary or benefits in the first interview isn’t the impression you want to leave with an employer.”

A better idea: Do some research ahead of time to get a feel for what similar jobs are paying.

3. What are the hours of this position?

“This one question makes me cringe more than any other,” says Paul Solomon, president of Solo Management, a New York-based executive recruitment firm that specializes in financial industry recruitment. “Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question I know the candidate will not be the right fit.”

Rulis agrees. “Although I understand why candidates are eager to know this upfront, it
can raise a question regarding their work ethic if asked too early in the process.”

4. How many sick days do I get?

What goes through the interviewer’s mind when hearing this question?

“We are in the business of developing leaders, not slouchers,” says Gary Rich, president of Rich Leadership, an executive coaching firm in New York City.

Keep a potential employer from questioning your motivation (or your health) by looking this up in the employee handbook later.

5. How much time do I get off?

Like numbers three and four, this question can make a potential employer wonder if a candidate is more interested in getting out of work than contributing. It is especially frowned upon in fields requiring significant motivation from the get-go.

“A career as a financial representative is what you make of it. Your hard work helps determine your rewards. You have the ability to be your own boss, build your own practice and arrange your own schedule, while making a positive impact on your clients’ lives,” says Randi Michaelson, a director of recruitment and selection for the McTigue Financial Group in Chicago who recruits career changers to work as Northwestern Mutual financial representatives. “In the beginning, it takes time, energy and commitment, but successful financial representatives — like successful entrepreneurs — are able to enjoy work-life balance among other rewards.”

6. If I’m hired, when can I begin applying for other roles within the company?

“This question makes it seem like the candidate isn’t really interested in the job she is currently interviewing for — that she really just wants a foot in the door,” Rulis says.

While ultimately you might have higher aspirations than the position for which you are applying, remember that an employer is looking for the best person to fill an opening for what the company needs now, not in the future.

7. Do you do background checks?

If you don’t have something to hide, you probably aren’t going to bother asking this one. If you do …

Rich sums up the feelings most interviewers have after hearing this question, “I definitely don’t want this person on my payroll!”

Employment Indicators

If you pay attention to the news, you know that employment is a lagging economic indicator. It means, of course, that the recovery can be well under way before employment figures improve. But a lesser reported fact is that staffing figures for temp agencies lead other employment indicators. What does that mean? It means that before companies do much wholesale hiring, they dip their toes into the temp pool.

Why? Because from the employer’s point of view, paying a slightly higher hourly rate for an employee with a specific skill set is cheaper than the cost of hiring a full-time permanent person. The agency does all the looking and shifting of candidates, not to mention the paperwork. If the company is not sure how long a full recovery will take, temporary workers make a lot of sense.

What does this mean for you? Look to staffing agencies to help you locate jobs that haven’t yet reached conventional lists. Remember: Pick your agency well. Even though you can find work in almost any field, from day laborer to technical writer, many agencies specialize. You want one that will place you in the right industry for you.