Halloween & Small Talk with US Counterparts

Halloween falls on October 31st every year. Many equate Halloween with candy and dressing up in costumes, as in the picture to the right.
Children in Pop Culture Themed
Halloween Costumes (source)
The girl to the right dresses as a popular Monster High character (front), while the boy is a classic scary skeleton (back) for Halloween. 

Making small talk about this holiday is a good icebreaker with Americans throughout the U.S. 

Let's take a look at the small talk dos and don'ts when it comes to Halloween:

Acceptable topics:  
  • In general asking if they celebrate Halloween 
  • Is Halloween celebrated at work and how? 
  • If they wear costumes to work, what costume will they be wearing 
  • You can ask how you and/or your family (spouse or children) can celebrate this fall holiday
  • You can ask about trick or treating in the area, where are the safe neighborhoods, and what are the popular costumes
    Childrenlooking at all the candy they
    got from trick or treating.
  • Ask if you should give out candy to trick or treaters coming to your house and how you would do that
  • Ask about all the different candies or treats that can be given for trick or treating 
  • Ask what exactly is trick or treating (see this post for more)  


Only if you know they have children, you can ask them how their children celebrate Halloween at school, and if they go trick or treating or participate in any other activities.  (Note, it's ok to bring up/talk about your own children and ask questions in relation to your own children, but take care to talk about other's children unless you are already friends with your colleague and know they have children.) 

Avoidable topics: 
Baby reaches out to touch a
creepy pirate.
Some Americans may not celebrate Halloween for religious reasons. It's better not to talk about the connection between Halloween and religion with your US counterparts.   

As an expat or foreigner in the U.S., have you made small talk with Americans about this holiday? Share your experience in the comments below.

If you are an American with more ideas or feedback about making small talk or regional differences on this holiday, let us know in the comments.

Jennifer Kumar, author of this post, is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys. Authentic Journeys provides U.S. Culture Preparation Training for expats in or going to the U.S. as well as global and virtual team members working with Americans. Contact us to know more today. 

Photos courtesy of Amanda McMahon. Amanda is a US based blogger and mom of two. Their family spent two years living in India so the kids could know their Indian heritage and family.

Related Posts: 
What is Halloween & Trick or Treating?  
Words that describe Halloween (vocabulary building)  
Yearly Calendar of Holidays in the USA 
U.S. Cross-Culture Training - Small Talk What to Say, What not to Say 

Resume E-mail Attachments: Do’s and Don’ts

Recruiters see hundreds, and possibly thousands of resumes in a given day or week. To assure yours gets through the first round of review, use the following tips recruiter Yolanda M. Owens uses to screen resume submissions via email.  

Use This Formula For Ideal Resume File Names:
Last name, First Name Resume

Tips on Naming Your Resume Attachments:
DON’T use general file names that are meaningless to another person. File names such as:
  • My resume/my_cv
  • My_pages/Doc 1.doc
  • Resume (1), Resume 2014, Resume New
  • Use only first names
Tips on File Types and Extensions:
  • DO use .pdf file extension. PDFs are universally accepted and read by all computers. Word documents or .docs are preferred second.
  • DON’T use .pages files. Files with the extension .pages open only in Macbook. As most recruiters do not have MacBooks, in preference to Microsoft Windows, dot pages files would not easily be read by Windows machines.
  • DO assure your file is keyword searchable. If files are not readable, they are not keyword searchable. Many recruiters may not even read the resume, they may browse hundreds of resumes at a time using keywords, like searching on Google. Therefore, global readable file formats are preferred.

Tips on Formatting Text:
 DON’T use:
  • All Caps
  • All Bold
  • All lower case

Tips on Writing Your Name:

  • Use your first and last name when using your name
  • Capitalize the first letter of your first and last name
  • Use short and sweet names, less than 15 characters, if possible
  • Include your FULL address (street, city, state, zip (US)/PIN code (India) if applicable)
  • Include the phone number where employers can best reach you
  • Don’t forget to include your email so recruiters can send you confirmations

What should I do if the email gets sent, but the attachment doesn’t?

Don’t panic. Simply send a follow up emailing saying “The resume attachment is missing from my previous email. I have attached it to this email for your reference. My apologies for any inconvenience.”

Take note: This email should be a proper email with an opening and a closing. Do not write to recruiters in the form of instant messages or text messages. 

CareerSensei is a career consulting company focused on resume writing, career coaching, job search education and advice for individuals looking for the next best steps on their career path. With a proven corporate recruiting and career advice background, CareerSensei knows what companies want and what you need to gain an inside edge over the competition. So if you’re looking to spruce up your resume, polish your interviewing skills, or need a complete job search make-over, CareerSensei has you covered! To learn more, check out the link to my website page and spread the word.

Related Posts: 
Video Tutorials on Business Email Formatting (Get your email read and responded to faster)
How to Close an E-mail  
Interviewing Successfully with Western Recruiters (Cross-Culture Training PPT)  
Review of Yolanda's Career Search Guide  

Networked blogs link: http://nblo.gs/YqC4T

Outsource Expat Training to an American Living in India!

Increase workforce effectiveness of your international
assignees with cross-cultural coaching!
It is no secret that every year many Indians (and other foreign nationals) come to the US for short-term, long-term or permanent professional assignments. 

As is the case with many assignments, everything seems to be rushed at the last minute before getting on the plane. In some cases, the assignment is only given a week or less before the actual departure date. And, for those with families or already living away from home, this transition from India (or any other country) to the U.S. can feel like a whirlwind of tasks and emotions. 

While many companies in India do offer cross-cultural business training for virtual teams or even seminars on preparing for life in the U.S. before going, sometimes with this whirlwind of activity that happens before the plane takes off, there is just no time to either attend or set up the class. Trainers may not be available. Space for sessions may not be available. Time is lacking.  

Hence, many of the offshore team members arrive in the U.S. with very little understanding of how to do basic things. Here, we are not talking about work so much as how to set up their life in the U.S.  

As an American citizen living in India, and the principal trainer of Authentic Journeys, it is clear that everything is so different between these two countries when it comes to setting up one’s life. Many companies simply don’t have the resources to help their expat and international assignees with this transition. Due to this, many face immense culture shock at the get-go. This can impact and does impact their ability to function at work. Ordinary, simple things for locals offer steep learning curves for foreign team members as world cultures vary so vastly. There is no doubt that the practicalities of living abroad can overwhelm one’s work, even for those are top performers. In some cases, these international assignees may leave early without even finishing their intended purpose for coming. This financially impacts companies in unexpected, negative ways.Ordinary Things that Can Frustrate Expats in the US:
  1. getting around
  2. how to cross the street 
  3. getting ID 
  4. using a bank account 
  5. getting an apartment
  6. finding a good school 
  7. daycare for their children
  8. ordering food in restaurants or at drive thrus

This financial loss does not only impact the host company or client in the U.S., but the sending company or satellite office in India. There is a tremendous expense in the administrative elements of arranging international travel for an employee. The costs and fees can exceed upwards of twenty thousand U.S. dollars. For complex visa processing cases or for employees who may have to reapply for visas multiple times before getting accepted, this fee will increase. Keep in mind, also that when flights to the U.S., living expenses, travel, food and other per diem expenses are factored in, the entire cost of going to the U.S. rises even more.

While cross-cultural training may seem unnecessary and an additional expense, in the whole scheme of this expansive budget, it is only a fraction. And, this fraction can save all this money in the long run from being a loss if the cross cultural training and follow up is handled properly.

Authentic Journeys has provided training to over 800 professionals from India traveling to the U.S. for work. The sessions that have the greatest success combine elements of daily living skills, work expectations, small talk tips, inclusion and diversity, and exercises and other modules as per company requirement. When this classroom session is followed up by 1:1 or small group follow ups once onsite, this is a winning combination for onsite success. However, as mentioned before, many may not get the option of the cross-cultural preparation or predeparture training before leaving their home country. In such cases, this should be done as soon as possible once the candidate reaches the US. But, as they will be very busy with work, finding a place to live, getting a cell phone or internet connection, buying a car, and arranging other immediate living needs, shorter sessions of 30 minutes to 1 hour covering the most relevant topics of the day in more of a coaching environment seems to be the most effective.

As Authentic Journeys is in India, you can benefit from competitive rates of outsourcing and offshoring your training to India. Training is done by a U.S. citizen who has lived and worked in India for over 5 years. Jennifer Kumar, the Managing Director and principle trainer, has delivered cross-cultural business training to virtual teams and US predeparture training to over 1600 professionals in various career paths and domains.

If you’d like to explore how Authentic Journeys can improve your international assignees workforce effectiveness through training, coaching or consulting, contact us today.  

Small Talk Newsletter-
This newsletter, published 10 times a year is delivered to onsite team members working with Americans as well as expat worker onsite in the U.S. The newsletter introduces your employees to the upcoming U.S. holidays, how to celebrate it and small talk tips about the holiday. The newsletter also includes other tips to work more effectively in the U.S. To sign up your team for free to this newsletter, contact us today.