Turn office gossip into a career builder

Using Gossip to Your Advantage (for Career Advancement/New Job)

Redefine "gossip." Not all gossip is innuendo. Neither is the intent of all office chitchat meant to put down others. You can learn useful information from chitchat that happens in the break room - such as hints that your company is slashing budgets from something as little as complaints that snacks are no longer provided. Or you might learn about impending layoffs just by staying alert to conversations or communications around you.

Stay open -- put yourself in places to be receptive. Participate in lunches or happy hours with coworkers (of course make sure you keep your behavior appropriate). Attend networking events with relevant professional groups or industry associations - you may learn some important information about your company from an outsider. As with all networking, be sure to listen carefully and ask probing questions.

Of course, you may also learn some unsavory bits of information that you will have to filter and NOT act on. If unsure, ask yourself: "Is this info good for my positive career movement without compromising my integrity or reputation and/or resulting in reckless malice toward others?"

Look for opportunities to use the info you've learned. For example, if you learn that your boss's boss shares your love of sailing, use that for conversation starters that can help build rapport - you never know where relationships like this might lead. You may find out about an industry trend or business opportunity that will help your company and you might take initiative to be a leader or pursue a related new job.

Toot your own horn. You can't always count on others knowing about all your achievements, and you may need to keep ready for opportune moments in a staff meeting or discussion with your boss to highlight achievements that might otherwise go unnoticed. Be careful to use good judgment about time and place - you don't want to sound conceited or demanding of recognition.

About Tom Musbach Careers Expert and Columnist, Yahoo! HotJobs:

Tom Musbach is a career expert and managing editor for Yahoo! HotJobs, where he directs the creation and production of editorial content focused on a wide range of employment topics, from resume and interview tips to salary negotiation and management issues. Through Tom's extensive background, he can also offer insights into the current employment landscape and hiring trends. Tom excels in sharing advice with individuals looking to find exciting new opportunities and to those interested in proactively managing and advancing their current careers. He earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco and a BA in English from Yale University.

To read Tom Musbach's column on this topic go to hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-gossip or for the latest in employment news, career advancement and local jobs go to hotjobs.yahoo.com

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