Archive | June, 2014

3 Habits of Successful Employees

June 26, 2014

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You may be an underling now, but one day you’d like to run this joint. How do you get to be top dog? You work hard now. And a lot of that hard work falls on mastering proper business etiquette. Here are just a few tips that will help you look more professional regardless of your industry or profession. Learn these habits of the successful and soon you’ll be following in their footsteps:

1. They show up to work early.
No, you don’t have to be the first one in and the last one out. But if your manager can count on you to be at your desk every morning at 8 AM sharp, that won’t go unnoticed. Make sure you’re showing up “put together” though. Wet hair, bed head, and groggy yawning don’t look very professional — even in the morning.

2.  They ask for feedback — and accept it.
Even if your manager or company hasn’t established a formal check-up process, request that you start one. Be it weekly or monthly, these check-ins are a good chance to take a look at the big picture of your career and your performance. Whatever the feedback, accept it with grace and a positive attitude.

3. They talk the talk.
Learn the lingo of your industry and your company. You’ll seem like a seasoned pro — even if you’re a newbie — and the higher ups will respect your professionalism. All those internal acronyms might seem silly now but knowing them like the back of your hand is crucial to your career success.

What other successful habits have you witness at work?

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You’re Unemployed. Now What? Here Are Your First 5 Steps.

June 24, 2014

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Whether you were the victim of a layoff or you left a job on your own terms, a wide open schedule is starting you right in the face and there’s no paycheck in sight — and that’s scary. Hopefully you were able to negotiate a severance package if you were laid off or you were able to stash away some cash before you left your job. Regardless of your situation, stay calm. Here are the first steps you should take:

1. Update your online profiles.
You might be ashamed to admit your new status, but letting your network know you’re a free agent is the first step in finding a new opportunity. Change your LinkedIn title to something like “[Insert Industry Here] Professional Seeking Employment in [Insert Ideal Position].”

2. Notify your network.
Make a list of all the important contacts in your network who are willing to help you during your job search. Get in touch via LinkedIn message, email, or a phone call and set up a time for a coffee shop date, a phone chat, or an informational interview. Even if you just “catch up,” don’t think of it as time wasted. Building your network is always good for your career.

3. Reach out to a recruiter.
Partnering with a recruiter means there will be two of you searching for your next job — and there’s nothing wrong with that! Even if you just pass along your resume informally to a recruiter on LinkedIn, you never know when something could show up. That recruiter could contact you a year from now with a great opportunity. And that’s okay!

4. Start applying. 
The more you put yourself out there, the better. But don’t just blindly apply to jobs online. Do some extended research. If there’s a position you’re highly interested in — and highly qualified for — use your network and LinkedIn’s search tools to find a person you could speak with at that company. Think of job searching as fishing. If you want to catch the best fish, you need some good bait!

5. Repeat.
Repeat steps one through five until you’ve landed a new position. Remember that every time you update your LinkedIn profile, your network is notified. And every time you meet up with a contact or a recruiter, your network grows stronger. And every time you apply for a job, that’s one more egg in your basket. The job search is a long process but you the payoff is well worth it.

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Common Reasons Why You Failed the Interview

June 19, 2014

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It sucks to fail an interview. All that work spent following the hiring process and what do you get in the end? Nothing. Well, that’s not totally true. You got practice interviewing. And becoming an expert at interviewing takes a lot of practice. We’ve already talked about the three biggest mistakes you can make during an interview, but unfortunately that’s just the start of it. Here are three common mistakes that might not seem like a big deal to you, but are a big deal to your interviewer:

1. You dressed inappropriately.
Remember: it’s much better to be overdressed that underdressed. It’s pretty safe to say that you can never overdress. An interview is very important and dressing up for it shows that you recognize that importance.

2. You badmouthed your former employer.
Whether you were laid off or left amicably, there is no reason to speak negatively about your former employer or coworkers. There’s a professional way to acknowledge that you were ready to move on — just focus on the positive. Discuss the fact that you are looking for new growth opportunities and learning experiences. The end.

3. You seemed uninterested in the position.
No, you don’t want to look desperate. But you also don’t want to look too cool for school. Always end the interview by reiterating your interest and reiterate it again in the thank you cards you send immediately following an interview. It’s not a desperate move — it’s smart.

 

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Nail the Interview with Help From These 4 Mind Games

June 17, 2014

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Have you ever played a mental game with yourself to calm down? You may have tapped your pencil quickly on your desk before an exam, taken deep breaths before a big game during your high school sports team days, or closed your eyes and visualized a naked audience before a big speech. An interview is no different. There are tricks and ticks that can help put you in the right frame of mind.

Mashable wrote a piece recently called 4 Surprising Mental Hacks to Nail Your Next Interview. Here are is a summary of our favorite points from the article:

1. Force yourself to smile.
You’ve heard it before because it’s true — if you force a smile onto your face, you will eventually feel a little happier. And that smile might turn genuine. If you’re smiling, it’s a little hard to feel stressed.

2. Chew gum.
Apparently the chomp-chomp-chomp motion of gum chewing has been proven to have a calming effect. Chewing a stick before your next interview might help you focus on the task at hand. Just be sure to spit it out before the interview begins.

3. Think “challenge” not “threat.” 
Convince yourself that this interview is an exciting challenge you can overcome. This “cognitive reframing” can actually work. Try it!

4. Mirror your interviewer.
During the interview, mirror the body language and tone of the person who’s interviewing you. Duplicate their posture, their gestures, or their volume of voice. It creates a positive energy between the two of you — and they might be more likely to hire you.

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Why Networking is Good For Your Mental Health

June 12, 2014

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The word “networking” might make some people’s stomachs churn. They imagine an oversized event with a bunch of empty faces, name tags, and awkward handshakes. But networking is a muscle that needs exercise before it becomes strong. And once your networking game is rocking and rolling, you’ll feel a sense of calmness in your career. Why? We’ll tell you.

Because you have a plan B.
If you were to lose your job suddenly, you’d have a crew of people and opportunities to turn to. With practice, networking can create strong contacts that you’ll feel comfortable reaching out to in times of need. They may have already shared some career opportunities out there that might be relevant to you.

Because you’ve built up a strong support group.
If you pat someone’s back, they’ll pat yours. If anyone in your group is looking for a new opportunity, help them out. Tell them about the opportunities available at your company. Give them a recommendation. Put them in touch with some relevant contacts. Then when you need a hand, they’ll be more than happy to lend theirs.

Because you know what’s out there.
Networking opens your eyes to new opportunities. But it also opens your eyes to how good you have it. With a little bit of research and networking, you may learn that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Or maybe it is? Either way, you’ll know and you’ll feel confident in your decision to either stay put or move on in your career.

Because you’re comfortable talking about your career.
Networking is good interview practice. Talking about your career achievements and future goals will become more natural to you the more you network. Then when it does come time for a job change, you’ll look especially confident speaking about your experiences in the interview. Cheers to that.

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How to Make Your Resume Keyword Friendly

June 10, 2014

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It’s no secret that some robots are reading your resume as well as recruiters. Applicant Tracking Systems scan submitted resumes and push the most qualified candidates forward — the candidates who meet the keywords they’re looking for. So how can you make your resume more effective? Tailor your resume to each position you apply for, and follow these tips:

  • Make sure all of the necessary requirements listed in the job description are also listed in your resume. This list is a good hint of what the recruiters are looking for as they whittle down the applicant pool, so be sure to list all of the expectations you meet.
  • Use the language the recruiter is using in the job description. You may call yourself a “digital marketer” but maybe they are calling it “online marketing manager.” Rework your resume to appeal to their internal lingo.
  • If your last job title was different in name but not in job responsibilities as the job you’re applying for, be sure to list the alternate job name in the bullet points beneath your former position. For example, “As the marketing copywriter, I acted as a digital content creator and supported our newest product releases.”
  • Send a .doc file, not a .pdf or any other kind of image. If your resume is an image file, the individual words in the file might not be able to to be read. Don’t risk it!
  • Your resume isn’t the place to try out fancy fonts. They might not convert once they go through the system — that wouldn’t be good! Stick to Times New Roman or Arial.
  • These digital systems keep track of your every move, which means they notice if you’ve applied to multiple positions at a company. That’s not a bad thing as long as the positions are similar in nature. If they’re not, you might look a little unfocused in your career search and a recruiter might think twice about hiring you.
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How to Maximize Your Next Meeting

June 6, 2014

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Hopefully you’ve already mastered our six steps to a great meeting and now you’re looking for a way to really take your meeting mojo to the next level. After all, so many of us spend so much of our day locked up in conference rooms instead of getting work done at our desks. It’s easy to dread these interruptions in your work day and see them as a mandatory pain in your rear end instead of an opportunity. But opportunity they are. When used in the right way, meetings can be productive. Here are a few more tips that will help you maximize your next meeting:

1. Don’t invite everyone.
Invite the right people, not all the people. Handpick the decision makers, the contributors, the knowledgeable, or the inspired — whoever it is you need at that moment. Think about who can make an impact on the goals that must be met at the end of 30 minutes. The phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” doesn’t have anything to do with cooking. It has everything to do with making timely decisions.

2. Become a note taker.
In a good meeting, there will be a lot of discussions and a lot of ideas. Instead of jumping in at an inappropriate time, jot down some notes so that when you do get a chance to speak you will touch on all the points you need to make. It’s better to chime in at the end with a well thought-out response than to barge in mid-sentence with an incomplete idea.

3. Circle the conversation back to the agenda.
When you do chime in, make sure your talking points touch back to the agenda and the goals of the meeting. It’s easy to get on tangents and waste time. If it’s necessary, print out the agenda and pass it around to each attendee or write down the three main goals on a whiteboard for all to see. Whenever someone strays from the goals, try to reign them back in.

At the end of the meeting be sure to recap, discuss the next steps, and follow up as mentioned in our six steps to a great meeting. With these tips and some cooperation from your coworkers, your meetings and your entire work day can become more efficient. What other tips would you add?

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5 Phrases Every Successful Employee Isn’t Afraid to Say

June 4, 2014

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In your work life, you’ll encounter a lot of interesting people and interesting situations. The way you handle those situations in a professional environment is different than the way you may handle them at home. That’s why it’s important to tuck a few of these phrases into your back pocket. The next time you find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place, you’ll feel more comfortable addressing the problem at hand and moving on. Read on and you’ll see what we mean…

When your coworker stops by to chat about last night’s Game of Thrones episode, but you’re busy working…
“I would love to chat right now but I’m right in the middle of something. Can we chat about this at the end of the day?”

When a coworker contributes something in a meeting that’s not relevant to your meeting’s agenda…
“Thanks for chiming in. It’s a valid point but I think we need to stay focused on the goal here.”

When a coworker is holding you back from meeting a project’s deadline…
“I know we’re all under a lot of stress but this is mandatory deadline that I can’t meet without your help.”

When a coworker gossips to you about another coworker and you don’t want to be a part of it…
“I feel uncomfortable getting involved in their personal affairs. [change the subject] Did you watch the Brewers game last night?”

When a coworker gives negative feedback to one of your ideas…
“Thanks for sharing your opinion. I’ll take that into consideration as I rework this.”

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