A stellar promotion. A hefty paycheck. Sitting first class on the company dime. This sounds like career success, right? It’s the prescription we often follow, but it’s not for everyone. Each person’s definition of career success should be different. The key to finding happiness in your career path is clearly defining what success means to you. Here a few traps that we easily fall into when measuring our success against others.
If you find yourself yearning for a promotion to a managerial role, ask yourself: do you truly want to manage a team? Are you passionate about becoming a great leader, inspiring others, delegating work, and making key decisions? If that’s not what motivates you on a daily basis, define what does: challenging work? Purposeful projects? Quality relationships with your coworkers? Pursue that instead.
Just because someone makes more money than you, does it make them more successful? Perhaps success can be defined more simply: paying your bills on time, supporting your family, donating to charity, or having some “fun” money. Which is most important to you? It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about what you do with it–and if it meets your needs and goals.
The End Game
For some people, retiring early or quitting your job to travel around the world is the ultimate definition of success–but is it yours? What are you working toward? What do you want your life to be like in five, 10, or 20 years? Work toward your dreams–not someone else’s. That’s the only true barometer of success.
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Public speaking is a natural part of corporate life. Whether you’d like to become better at simply expressing your idea to a co-worker or presenting a solution to a huge audience, there’s a trick that will help. TED speakers swear by it as well as high-performing athletes.
It all comes down to practice. But not just practicing by yourself in front of a mirror or simple re-reading your notes so you feel comfortable with your talking points. It’s all about practicing in self-imposed stressful situations. Even just a little bit of stress can help. For example, practice by giving your Powerpoint presentation to a significant other or friend the night before giving it in front of a large audience. Time yourself to add a bit more realistic pressure.
But why does this tactic work? Inc. further explains this phenomenon in an article titled The Best TED Speakers Practice This 1 Habit Before Taking the Stage. It’s all about building up a tolerance for pressure so you don’t choke once it’s placed on you. If you’re the kind of person that can memorize a poem perfectly, but then totally freezes once you’re on stage, this strategy will be especially helpful.
Practicing alone can only do so much. You need to mimic the real-world circumstances that you may be faced with. Think about how much more you learn once you’re on the job, versus what you learned in a classroom setting. Public speaking is no different.
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We talk often about work-life balance–and how hard it is to achieve!–but we’ve also made one point clear: hobbies are good for you. If you’re a high-stress-high-achiever kind of person, you may find it hard to relax and therefore find it challenging to dedicate your precious time to hobbies. It feels like a waste! Well, there’s good news for you: the following hobbies perform a double whammy. They’ll help you excel at home and at work.
Incorporate reading into your daily routine whether it’s on your commute, your lunch break, or before bed. Audio books count! Sure, business and self-improvement books are a sure-fire way to spend your time, but fiction books are also beneficial. Novels can give you a dose of creative thinking, relaxation, and escape which can all help you perform better on a daily basis.
This one is an obvious choice, but one that’s too easily overlooked. How often have you skipped a workout to do work instead? Not okay. Exercise can not only improve your mood, but it can improve your brain function too. And it obviously keeps your body in tip top shape so you can focus on the things that matter in both your personal and your work life.
3. Learn a language
Who said a “language” has to be strictly verbal? Whether it’s a foreign tongue or a coding language, mastering a new skill like this can help you become more valuable to your company–and it gives your mind a great workout. You’ll gain confidence along the way, which is helpful at work and at home.
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It’s hard to smile through a sea of rejection letters. The job hunt is certainly stressful regardless of how short or long it becomes. If you’re erring on the longer side of the job search spectrum and you’re feeling down, try not to let those feelings overcome you. Here are a few tips that can help.
1. Don’t get jealous.
Envious of a friend who just secured a great position? Remember that it’s not her fault that you don’t yet have a job. She may have been searching for a new job for just as long as you have or her interview process may have been incredibly stressful. Be happy for your friends. Do unto others…
2. Keep the faith.
You will eventually get hired–remind yourself of that daily or even hourly! The right position is out there. If something didn’t work out, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. The perfect match will come along. They’ll realize your potential and swoop you up with open arms.
3. Enjoy the little things.
Whether you’re unemployed and job searching or unhappy in your current position and job searching, it’s easy to get down on yourself. Find time for things that make you happy like exercising, spending time with friends, or practicing your favorite hobby.
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What skill will have the biggest impact on your career? It’s not your knowledge. It’s not your excellent communication chops. And it’s not your attitude. So what is it? Your network.
A recent Fast Company article called Forget Coding–Here’s the Skill You Need Most When You Start Your Career, outlined the reasons why networking is the one skill that will get you ahead. It’s even more important for recent graduates who are just starting their careers. Networking can help open doors for you, give you industry and career insight, and set you apart from a pack of similar-sounding applicants.
We’re all about being proactive, so we’ve rounded up our best posts on networking. Start taking notes…
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It’s clear now more than ever that social media holds power — power to get you recognized, the power to meet new people, and the power to find more opportunities. Unfortunately that power can be a double-edged sword. There have been so many instances of employees losing jobs due to an inappropriate social media post.
Before you begin your job search, get your social networks buttoned up. But don’t ignore them — also start using them to your advantage. Here’s a checklist you can run through before getting “social” during your search.
- Google yourself and see what comes up.
- Upload a consistent profile photo and bio across all networks.
- Turn on the highest security settings to your personal accounts, especially Facebook.
- Double-check your security settings occasionally, especially after a new update.
- Consider creating a personal account and a professional account on a network like Twitter.
- Connect with industry leaders and alumni who would be willing to network with you.
- Research the career path of people you aspire to be.
- Showcase your skills or portfolio on networks like Instagram and LinkedIn.
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Whether the interview went perfectly or not, the waiting period just after can be completely stressful. You may start to overanalyze everything or feel like your destiny is completely out of your control. Fast Company published a stellar article recently called Exactly What to Do While You Wait to Hear Back About a Job.
According to a recent survey mentioned in this article, half of the applicants who apply for a job don’t hear back–at all. The tips in this article can help you take back a little more control of your future. Here’s a summary of the highlights.
Why you may not have heard back after the interview…
- the recruiter may be waiting to hear back from the hiring manager
- there may be a lot of candidates left to interview
- you may not be a great fit
What to do if you haven’t heard back after two weeks…
- check in up to three times (your handwritten thank you note counts as one check-in)
- don’t call or use social media–send an email instead
- be enthusiastic and interested, persistent not pushy
Read more fantastic tips from the Fast Company article here.
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During the job search, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have the upper hand. You may find yourself sending mass messages to your acquaintances like, “Please check out my LinkedIn profile! I need a job!” or “Can you help me find an ‘in’ with your company?” or “Will you recommend me?” There is one problem: these are all demands. This is the opposite of networking. And it’s lazy.
Quality relationships, internal recommendations, helpful advice, and shared knowledge must be earned. It takes time, effort, and strategy. In order to transition from “demanding” to true networking, you’ll have to sweeten the deal for the other person. There are a few ways to do this:
- free lunch or coffee
- praise and compliments
- common interests or experiences
- even trades (“an eye for an eye”)
Here are a few sample scripts that show these approaches in action.
- “You really know how to write up a shining resume. If you have five minutes to spare, would you be willing to share some big picture feedback on mine? I’d so appreciate advice from an expert like you.”
- “Your career is on fire! I’m so impressed by your recent promotion. I’d love to take you out for coffee and learn more about the company. I’m considering applying for a job there and I’d so appreciate your insight.”
- “Would you be willing to swap recommendations on LinkedIn? I’m looking for past coworkers to vouch for my leadership skills. I’d be happy to talk about your top qualities like problem solving and team building.”
- “I admire your amazing career. You’re exactly where I’d like to be in five years. Would you be willing to have a 20 minute phone call with a fellow University of Wisconsin alumni? I’d love to learn more about how you found such success.”
See the difference? Now it feels like you have the upper hand because you’re suggesting a proposal that will be hard for them to turn down. What a difference a little effort makes!
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“Check me out on LinkedIn!”
“Give me a call, here’s my number!”
“I’d be a perfect fit for any position in your company! Message me!”
Recruiters and HR department team members see things like this all the time, especially on social media. Some job seekers believe that sending a “You should hire me!” message is as effective as actually applying for a position. It’s not.
Companies hire new employees for one reason: to fulfill a need within the company. Employees solve the problems that companies have. You need to be the best solution for a specific problem. You may be a great person and a great employee but unless a company has a specific need for your skills, they can’t hire you.
The first step is sending in a sparkling application for an available position. You want to make it as easy as possible for a company to hire you. Asking them to do the leg work by browsing your online profiles and then finding a job that would be a fit for you is not the best way to conduct your job search. It’s your responsibility to see if there’s a position at that company that’s appropriate for you, not the other way around.
If you can’t solve that first problem–how to find and apply for an open position–how will a company be able to trust that you can solve other problems that get thrown your way? You need to be the one that goes out of your way to sell yourself throughout the job search and interview process.
At Spectrum Brands, we list all of our available position on our careers website. You can set up job alerts for new openings. We also tweet new job listings on Twitter @WorkatSpectrum and share postings on LinkedIn.
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Small changes can make a big difference, and the following three examples prove this point. Sometimes we go through our day on autopilot. We don’t stop to pay attention to how and why we do it. Take a look at your day-to-day schedule. Which bad habit will you break first?
1. Bringing your phone to bed.
The last thing many people often see at night is a social media feed on their phones. Not only does the blue light emitted from electronic devices interfere with your sleeping patterns, but checking your phone means you’re not doing something that’s a better use of your time–reading. Instead, pick up a Kindle or a book.
2. Hanging out with people who don’t make you feel great.
It’s often said that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. If you find that one of those people is a complainer, someone who makes you feel bad about yourself, or a Negative Nancy, stop spending time with them. Life hack: you don’t have to be friends with people you don’t like.
3. Saying yes to everything.
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed and the lines on your forehead are becoming progressively deeper, it’s not time to get Botox–it’s time to start saying “No,” without feeling guilty. Your sleep, your happiness, and your priorities should always come first. Don’t let outside sources change that.
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