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5 Critical Mistakes that Could Destroy Your Career

This is that time of the year when many of us start to review our career; this usually starts with an audit of the past year — we review our goals, what we achieved and what we didn’t, and career highlights from the past year. It is then followed by setting resolutions and career goals for the new year. While there is nothing wrong with setting goals and making career resolutions for the new year, it is important that your career plans for this new year is made with a focus on one thing: mistakes to avoid.

If you want to achieve your career goals this year and have a much successful career than in previous years, you need to avoid these mistakes. Making one or more of them could destroy your career:

1. Ignoring Relationship With Co-Workers and Higher Ups

Most people wrongly assume that their career progression depends on their IQ and academic qualifications. This is very far from the truth. While these could have gotten you a job, you will need much more than that to have a progressive career.

According to Law Settlement Funding, “By far, one of the most important things if you want to move up in your career is to have a good relationship with your co-workers and superiors. In fact, this is often reported to be more important than other factors. If, on the other hand, you are not on good terms with co-workers and superiors and you think ‘it is just enough to do an excellent job,’ don’t be surprised if you are out of a job soon enough.”

2. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Many people sacrifice sleep in the belief that it is required to achieve their career goals and objectives. Not only is this not true, but it can be very dangerous. Besides the fact that lack of sleep has been linked to psychopathic behavior (and remember, not being able to get along well with employees and higher-ups can destroy your career), research actually shows that not getting adequate sleep does not necessarily give people the performance boost they assume they are getting. Instead, getting inadequate sleep (less than six hours daily for an adult) leads to the same effect as being drunk: it diminishes your performance and reduces your cognitive abilities.

So, if sleeping less is part of your plan to achieve your career goals, it could diminish your performance and reduce your cognitive abilities. It could also lead to you making career-damaging mistakes (since you could be operating on the same level as a drunkard).

3. Diversifying Instead of Focusing

While many will advocate “diversifying” as key to success, focus is what really makes a great career. Putting a lot of focused, undivided attention into being the best at what you do will lead to you having a stronger career than diversifying your efforts and energy into a lot of things. In fact, an analysis of the billionaires on the Forbes 400 list found that the majority of these billionaires got to where they are by being focused on one thing and reaching the peak of their career in the area of their focus. If you take a look at people at the top of your industry you will most likely notice the same thing.

“Diversifying” could limit your career trajectory. It could even destroy it. If you’re an accountant, for example, you will stand a better chance career-wise getting your CPA than learning to bake as a “side skill.”

4. Limiting Yourself by Not Networking

If you want to move forward in any industry, networking is the rule of the game: networking allows you to be aware of more opportunities, to connect to more people in your industry and to know about how things work beyond just your workplace.

Don’t make the mistake of limiting yourself by not networking — not only could it limit your growth potential, but it could make you redundant and potentially negatively affect your career prospects. Instead, network by attending industry conferences and events and connecting with people in other organizations similar to yours.

5. Not Being Careful About Your Social Life

Of course, it used to be that (for the most part!) what you do in your private life has little bearing on your career. Not anymore. In the age of social media and super fast information transmission, especially where most information posted online remain there permanently, not minding what you post on social media could not only cost you your current job, but it could also cost you future jobs and prevent you from moving forward in your career.

Being careful about what you post on social media should be paramount on the list of steps you take to advance your career — ignoring this rule could affect you beyond just this year. It can affect your career prospects forever.

Source: http://bit.ly/2EV84fm 

How to Be a More Engaged Employee

The struggle is real, folks. Employee engagement is on the decline, and it’s something every employer — and employee — needs to take seriously. According to Office Vibe’s Global & Real-Time State of Employee Engagement:

The statistics don’t lie: many employees are not engaged. But it’s not just on employers — I firmly believe that employee engagement is a two-way street.

Employers should be engaging with their employees to build meaningful relationships — at my company, we send out bi-weekly pulse surveys to gain regular feedback from our employees — but employees should also show some initiative to become a more engaged employee. Because odds are, becoming engaged will make your day-to-day life at the office a whole lot more enjoyable. It might even boost your work performance!

Having personally read through hundreds of comments submitted by employees, I’ve found myself providing some of the same tips and advice over and over again.

Below are my suggestions on how to become a more engaged employee.

Provide Feedback

How is a company supposed to fix a problem they aren’t aware exists? If your company is investing in surveys and feedback tools, the least you can do is engage and provide your thoughts and feedback. And if your organization does not have these tools, request them!

Transparency is expected in most organizations today. Let your employer know you don’t understand a certain policy or don’t agree with something. If you have a great suggestion, then share it! It doesn’t necessarily mean your new idea will be implemented, but at least you can have your voice heard and be a trusted source of feedback for your employer.

If you don’t speak up now, it’s hard to complain later. Just remember, feedback is nothing without honesty —  that’s what your employer is asking for!

Ask Questions

Question your employer. Not in a rude or “gotcha” fashion, but ask tough questions. I’ve found that when an employee asks a question, and I can provide context as to why a decision was made, it benefits all parties involved. Not only do you get your answers, but you show your employer that you’re invested in the company.

Set-up a regular meeting cadence with your manager — you can ask questions, talk about your performance and set career goals. These meetings don’t have to be long, but dedicating time from you and your manager’s calendar shows how important this meeting is to your success.

Become an Ambassador

You hear a lot today about employer branding (defined as a company’s ability to differentiate and promote its identity to a defined group of candidates that they’re interested in hiring). HR writer, speaker and advisor William Tincupsimply states employer branding is “your unique scent.”

There’s no one better to help share your company’s message than you — an employee of the company. Studies show time and time again that employees are viewed as more trustworthy than CEOs and/or marketing departments, and recommendations from friends and family always rank near the top with respect to trusted referral sources.

When your employer publishes a great blog post, share it with your network. At the next company event, take some fun photos and post them using the company’s branded hashtag. Being an employment brand ambassador will show employers you care about the company, and not just yourself.

Give Back

To give is better than to receive. Whether you’re talking about presents or philanthropy, this statement always rings true. Many companies are fully on board with social responsibility and giving back to the communities where their employees live, work and play.

If your organization sponsors and/or volunteers at these events, do yourself a favor and be present. Sometimes these charitable events are after hours or are on the weekends and not necessarily convenient. However, your attendance will not only impress your employer, but more often than not, will also enrich your life in more ways than one.

No one person, or even team, is responsible for employee engagement. Every employee at an organization adds to or takes away from the company culture. We spend a tremendous portion of our waking hours at work — why not be engaged while you’re there?

HR Interview Questions That You Must Be Ready For

Behavioral interview questions ask you to spill out as to how you have behaved in certain situations in the past. Your responses give the HR interviewer an insight into how you might respond to a similar situation in the future. A small mistake in answering these HR interview questions can cost you that job; here are three questions that you must be prepared for.

So what is your salary expectation?

This is the dreaded money question. In the best case scenario, you want to do whatever you can to keep your options open and get the hiring company to provide a salary range first. “Competitive” means you expect to be compensated fairly and this approach puts the money ball back in the interviewer’s court. The interviewers may very well keep pressing you. Follow-up questions could include “What does competitive mean to you?” or “What do you make now?”

If you feel you must name a figure, choose a salary range that provides some negotiation room, and it is fair based on market value in your industry and city, as thumb rule the top of the range should be a number that would make you very happy (within reason).

One of the likely answers for this HR Interview question that you can give is,  “I’m very interested in this position so that I would be open to any competitive offer.”

Can you please explain this gap on your resume.

The HR interviewers tend to review your resume carefully and will notice if you have bee out of work between positions, and this is often seen as a sign that one of your job stints didn’t go, as you would have planned for. The career break may be for reasons that may be beyond work performance; your ex-employer may have gone out of business, your division got restructured, etc.  However, unless you clarify the interviewers tend to assume that you were fired or left under unfavorable circumstances.

You May Also Like To Read: 10 Tricky HR Interview Questions & Their Answers

If you have a positive or neutral reason for the gap, go ahead and concisely explain it. If it was a layoff that was unrelated to your performance, make that amply clear. If you were let go or there was another potentially sensitive reason for your departure, you’ll have to tread a bit more carefully. The key is to keep your explanation crisp and then make an effort to move the conversation along to more positive topics.  In these cases, it’s widespread to get sidetracked into discussing the grisly details of the separation or criticizing your former bosses or coworkers. You must explain what happened in few words and make it clear it’s something that could never happen again. At all costs, you should try to avoid using the word “fired” if you can. Deflect the interviewer attention to your track record of jobs that ended well. If the gap between jobs was lengthy, you should also make it clear that you were keeping busy with up-skilling, volunteering for social work, or taking a break to do your hobby. This shows that you are proactive and energetic.

One of the likely answers that you can give for HR Interview question is,  “The job and I did not fit together. On the hindsight, I ignored my gut feeling and took the position because it was a very generous offer. I have learned a lesson and won’t remake the same mistake.  Apart from this slip-up, I have been very successful in all the roles that I have picked up.”

Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone difficult

This HR interview question is designed to test your ability to handle conflict and work with different personalities. This question puts you in a spot because it forces you to talk about someone who derailed your apple cart. You have to handle this HR Interview question diplomatically and avoid any sign of negativity of ill feeling. Step out of the zone and try to recollect a situation in which you managed to keep a positive professional relationship with a difficult coworker, manager, client or partner.  By answering this HR Interview question smartly, you can help the interviewer see your professionalism and ability to remain calm under pressure.

 

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10 Easy Skills to Pick Up Before Applying to a Job

So you’re writing your new resume, and suddenly you get to the “skills” section. You pause. Wait! What skills do I actually have?  

If you can answer that question with a slew of marketable skills, congratulations! If you have to take a bit of time to answer it, you’re not alone. Developing a slew of marketable skills takes time, and in addition, the skills you choose to highlight may be different based on the jobs you’re applying for. 

Here are a few easily learn able skills that you can use to bulk up your resume(and a few skills mixed in there that won’t necessarily help your resume, but are good to have in general for your job and for life).  Start practicing! 

Public speaking

Effective communication in front of others isn’t just useful for an interview – you’ll also use it every day you’re on the job. You can find tutorials online, everywhere from the Stanford Graduate School of Business to public speaking experts on how to communicate your ideas to an audience – not to mention the guidance and inspiration that TED talks can provide. 

HTML coding

So, this is one of the more time intensive skills to “pick up” on this list. But if you’re new to coding, don’t write it off – learning how to write (or even just recognize!) few basic, useful commands in HTML is a whole different ballpark than trying to teach yourself C++. Websites like Codeacademy offer to teach the basics of HTML in just a few hours of lessons. It’s well worth two afternoons of your time. 

Negotiation

Negotiation is a delicate art that requires a confluence of other soft skills, such as communication, listening, and innovation. You’ll use negotiation during the job application process, when you angle for a better salary or stock options offer. Negotiation will also come in handy when you’re pushing for a raise. Make sure to practice these five soft skills in order to perfect your negotiation prowess. 

PowerPoint

The natural corollary to public speaking skills? PowerPoint. (Or Google Slides, or Prezi, or whatever else you choose to make your presentations). Knowing how to create and present good PowerPoints is a must-have skill for more jobs than you would think. There is a multitude of tutorials and examples online that you can use as a jumping off point. And again, TED talks often have some of the best examples. 

Confidence

Confidence isn’t just something that some people were born with, and others weren’t. It is a skill that can be practiced, refined, and embodied into your daily lifestyle. Amy Gallo writes in the Harvard Business Review to remember to “be honest with yourself about what you know and what you need to learn,” as well as “practice doing the things you are unsure about” and “embrace new opportunities to prove you can do difficult things,” all as simple methods to boost confidence. 

Microsoft Excel

Excel is a powerful tool, and you could spend years learning all of the ins and outs of what you can do with it. Luckily, you usually don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details of Excel to be able to use it effectively. There are variety of free and paid options to make you into a confident Excel user within just a few hours, or a few days, depending on how much time you can put into it. 

Task management

The ability to manage your time and prioritize your tasks is one of the most widely cited skills of highly productive people. There are so easy methods you can learn to help from this, from waking up a bit earlier to starting the day with your most difficult tasks. If that’s even too much for you, check out the scores of time management apps on the market that can help you use your time more effectively.  

Stress reduction

While stress reduction is not exactly something you can put at the top of the “skills” section of your resume, it’s arguably one of the most important skills you can have on the job— regardless of where you work and what your title is. One method that people are increasingly turning towards to reduce stress in the workplace is meditation. “The busier we are, the more we need that centering time—that time to actually be able to connect to our inner wisdom,” says Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and advocate of daily meditation. Apps like Headspace or Insight Timer, or locally offered meditation and stress-reduction classes, can all help you find that “centering time” in your next job. 

Handshaking

Believe it or not, a handshake can speak volumes about a person. Your clammy, dead fish grip might be giving recruiters the wrong impression. Practice turning your limp handshake into a powerful grip, with locked eyes and a smile. Ask your friends, ask your family, ask people on the street to give you feedback on your handshake – this couldn’t be an easier skill to practice. 

Brainstorming

It’s not just at start-ups where ideas are shot rapid-fire around a table and onto a whiteboard (although if you’re applying to a start-up, it’s also a great skill to have).  In pretty much any job you ever have, you’re going to have to think collaboratively with other people. Practice with friends or with family to brainstorm any random topic, and see what you learn from it. 

Source: http://bit.ly/2zaXVe9