Posts Tagged “job”

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So you just landed a leadership role at a new company. Congratulations! Going in, you know there’ll be a learning curve when it comes to handling your new responsibilities. But there’s also the people factor to consider.

Being the boss of a completely new team also means influencing a group of employees you don’t know very well to work together (and with you) toward a common goal. Nerve-racking, yes. But not impossible!

Even seasoned leaders make mistakes when managing a new team. Here are four common ones to avoid if you want to make your transition as smooth as possible for both you and your direct reports.

Mistake #1: Acting Before Understanding
If you think the first thing you need to do when joining a new team is to start making changes—slow down. Yes, part of your role is to help things run better, and you were most likely hired to bring in some new perspectives and fix some outdated or dysfunctional strategies. But ignoring input from experienced team members—particularly those who have been at the company for a while—won’t win you any fans.

Instead, you’ll signal to your team that you’re only interested in running a one-person show. And it will leave you vulnerable to making bad decisions that could’ve been avoided had you gotten some context.

This isn’t to say that you need to form a whole committee to make decisions on every little thing. You’re the boss, after all, and sometimes it’s your duty to make the final call. But strive to implement changes (especially big ones) in baby steps and over time. Be receptive to (and ask for!) feedback from your team before moving forward, and communicate your intentions clearly and proactively when you do.

Mistake #2: Constantly Talking About the “Old Job”
Do you find yourself saying all too frequently, “At my old job, we…”? Maybe you’re trying to prove yourself by bringing up your old wins. Or you may just feel comfortable referring back to a time when everything didn’t feel so foreign. (Being the new kid on the block isn’t easy.)

Here’s the thing: Your current team will quickly tune you out if you’re constantly talking about how things were done at your previous company. They want to see that you’re able (and willing!) to adapt to a new environment, and that you can competently lead and work with their unique skill sets.

Yes, you achieved great things in your last role. But don’t get caught living in the past—it’s time to focus on creating new wins with what your new team has to offer.

Mistake #3: Hiding in Your Office
Closing your office door or hiding behind your monitor can give off the appearance that you’re not interested in being there for your employees.

You may think, “I’ve told my team they can come to me any time with questions.” But as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, and it can be intimidating for employees to knock on a new boss’ door. There’ll be times when you’ll need (or want) to close the door, and that’s OK—but make sure this doesn’t create a barrier between you and your team.

Make a conscious effort to show your employees that they’re welcome to come seek guidance or share concerns. Literally keeping your door open helps, so does providing “office hours” or popping your head out every few hours or so to see how everyone’s doing.

If you work in an open office, try to avoid wearing headphones all day, and when you can, sit near your team. You can also schedule weekly touch-base meetings with your direct reports so you have dedicated face time with them on a regular basis—and so that they know they will always have the opportunity to discuss something with you.

Mistake #4: Believing You Don’t Need to Know the Details of Your Employees’ Work
Some people think that the role of a leader is to just tell others what to do and set expectations. But there’s more to it than that. You can’t hold employees, especially new direct reports, accountable if you don’t fully grasp what their roles entail and how they approach their work.

While you don’t need to know all of the nitty gritty details of their responsibilities, you want to do more than just care that tasks are getting done. Understanding the “how” of operations and the “whys” behind how your employees tackle them will make both you and your team function better. You’ll be able to better manage them knowing their strengths, weaknesses, and preferred forms of communication, and they’ll feel more comfortable around you and motivated to do great work with the knowledge that you’re invested in their success.

Take the time when you’re just starting out to talk to each employee individually to learn about what they do, what their current challenges are, and how their tasks fit into team or company goals. You can even ask the following questions in your next one-on-one:

What challenges are you facing that are making you less productive?
What’s missing from the team that will help make everyone’s life easier?
How do you like to receive constructive feedback?
What are you hoping to learn from me that will support you in your role?
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Or you can have them fill out this user manual so you have all the information you need about their working style.

Mistakes are going to happen when you’re starting a new job, whether you’re a manager or not, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get things “right” the first time. Even just reading this article means you care deeply about being a good boss to your new team—and that’s a great place to be in!

Most importantly, make sure you enjoy this new beginning—because it’s one more phase in your career that will help you grow and become the kind of leader you want to be.
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/common-mistakes-starting-new-job-boss?ref=recently-published-1

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When you’re starting a job search, your goal is to make your credentials strong enough to get you selected for a job interview. Once you get to a job interview, you can sell yourself to the interviewer by confidently making the case that you’re an exceptional candidate. Before that though, what’s on your resume and cover letter is going to be the pitch that gets you picked for an interview.

One of the best ways to achieve that goal is to brand (or rebrand) yourself if necessary, so you’re a close match for the jobs you’re targeting. What does this mean? And how do you do it?

What’s in a Brand?

Branding (if you haven’t worked on creating a brand yet) or rebranding (if you’re considering a job or career shift), means deciding what professional path you’re on and tailoring your credentials, expertise, and what’s visible to network connections and prospective employees, to match that brand.

How to Get Started

The first step in creating or reinventing your brand is to determine what you want that brand to represent. What type of job would you love to have? Would you like a new job in a similar role or the same job in a different industry? If so, that’s a relatively easy brand update. If you’re looking for a career change, you’ll need to invest more time and energy into rebranding yourself.

Check yourself out. Google yourself and check the results before you start making any changes. You will want to see how the current information available about you reflects your professional persona, and ensure that it clearly reflects where you are in your career and where you want to go next. Look at it from the viewpoint of a hiring manager to see what narrative you are sharing about your achievements and aspirations.

Make a plan. It’s important to figure out how you’re going to get to where you want to be. Does your career need a makeover? Do you need new skills or certifications? Or can you tweak your brand and update it so it’s a fit for where you want to go next? Make a list of what you need to do before you get started. There are things you can do at your current job to position yourself for success in the next one. If your career needs a major overhaul, it will require more planning and a bigger investment of time.

Upgrade your credentials. Are you short on the skills you need to make a successful brand switch? If you can carve out some time, it can be easy to gain the skills you need to bolster your qualifications. There are many free and low-cost classes you can take to get the career skills you need. Once you’ve upgraded your skill set, take on some freelance projects to create a portfolio of skills related to your rebranding objective. You can add those skills to your resume and LinkedIn, and refer to them in your cover letters.

Be careful. As with a job search when you’re currently employed, be careful about the changes you make that are visible to your current employer. For example, if you’re working in sales, you don’t want your Twitter feed to be all about product development. Gradually mix in the new topics if you’re using social media for business purposes. Make sure “Share with network” is turned off while you’re updating your LinkedIn profile if you’re connected to current colleagues. If you make changes slowly and carefully, it’s easier to stay under the radar.

Create a Branding Statement

A branding statement is a short and catchy statement that encompasses what makes you a strong candidate for a job. Writing a branding statement can help you to capture the essence of what you want to accomplish in the next phase of your career. Taking time to write your own statement will help you to focus on what you want to accomplish with your branding or rebranding.

Add a Branding Statement to Your Resume

Adding a branding statement to your resume is a way to show employers how you can add value to the organization if you were to be hired. Don’t use the same branding statement every time you use your resume to apply for a job. If your branding statement isn’t a perfect match for the job, take the time to tweak it so it reflects the attributes the employer is seeking. As with all job search materials, it’s important to show the employer how you’re among the best-qualified candidates for the job.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Also, update your LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t have to match your resume exactly, but it should be close enough to pass scrutiny because employers will check it. Take time to write a summary that’s informative, reflects your career interests, and will grab hiring managers’ attention.

Check Your Other Social Accounts Too
Is the message you’re sending to recruiters and networking connections consistent? When they look at each of your various public social media accounts will they get the same impression? Consistency is important when you’re using social media for career development. Using the same professional photo across platforms will help to build your brand.

Rebrand Yourself (Carefully)

When you’re thinking about a major job shift or a career change, rebranding might be in order. Rebranding is something you should do slowly and carefully if you’re currently employed. You don’t want to advertise to your current manager, other employees of the company, or clients that you’re rebranding your credentials and seeking new opportunities. That way you won’t jeopardize the job you have, and you can move on when you’re ready.

GRADUALLY CHANGE YOUR LINKEDIN PAGE

Making small changes over time will be less noticeable. For example, you could gradually change your LinkedIn profile by reworking some of your job descriptions to fit better the brand you’re aiming for. They should still reflect what you did at each job, but the focus can shift.

UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN HEADLINE

The headline section of LinkedIn is designed for short, descriptive text. Use that to highlight the skills you have that match your goals. Again, don’t get too far off-base from your current role if you’re employed. If you’re not currently working, you’ve got some more flexibility in how you write your headline.

REWORK YOUR RESUME

Another option is to keep your LinkedIn job descriptions brief and vague. Instead of changing LinkedIn, you can tweak your resume to match better with each position you’re applying for. There won’t be a noticeable difference to current or prospective employers. There are small and simple, but very powerful changes that you can make that can have a big positive impact.

Use Your Cover Letter to Explain

What’s in your cover letter is between you and the hiring manager reading it. Employ your cover letter to tell the story of your career pivot. Write a targeted cover letter that highlights your strongest accomplishments and assets that qualify you for the job, helping to convince the hiring manager that you’re well worth interviewing.

Start All Over Again

Rebranding your career isn’t a one-time deal. Technology changes, the economy goes up – or down, in-demand skills change over time, and most people’s career aspirations change along the way. The average person changes jobs 10 -15 times over their career. Your career will most likely shift over time too.

As you gain additional work experience, take a course, or otherwise learn new skills, add them to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Tweak your job descriptions as you move forward so they reflect where you are going, as well as where you’ve been.

By making some slow and steady changes your rebranding will be a work in progress, and you’ll be able to use your brand successfully to boost your career.

 

Source: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-brand-yourself-for-the-job-you-want-4583968

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There’s a whole lot of talking about yourself that goes on in an interview. One of the most stressful parts might be when a recruiter or prospective boss asks you to tell them about your strengths and weaknesses.

You’re bound to hear, “What would you say is one of your weaknesses?” or “What’s your greatest strength?” or both in virtually every hiring process you’ll ever go through. While that might be frustrating—really, every time?!—it also means that you can anticipate the questions and craft thoughtful answers that will impress the interviewer.

In other words, with just a little bit of preparation, you can master the art of selling your strengths without sounding conceited and talking about your weaknesses without undermining your candidacy.

Why Do Interviewers Ask These Questions?
Before you get started planning your responses, it’s helpful to understand why interviewers are asking these questions in the first place and what they hope to get out of them.

“All interviews are about getting to know somebody,” says Muse career coach Angela Smith, founder of Loft Consulting. “I know some people feel like the interview is trying to trip them up or put them in an awkward position, but at the end of the day it’s really about getting to know the person so that you can make the best decision that you can,” she adds. “When I ask those questions, that’s where I’m coming from.”

In this case, the actual strengths and weaknesses you bring up probably matter less than how you talk about them. “I’ve done a ton of interviews over the years and when pressed for it, I can’t really remember the answers,” Smith says. That doesn’t mean the questions aren’t important at all, it’s just that what an interviewer is evaluating likely goes deeper than which specific strength or weakness you cite. They’re trying to understand what kind of employee you’d be and how you’d carry yourself in the role.

“For me it’s: Are they honest? Do they have self-awareness? Can they own their stuff in a professional and mature way? Is this someone that we can have growth and development conversations with? Are they going to hit a wall [when] it comes to giving them feedback?” Smith says. “How they answer that question really tells me the answer to all of those other things—and those are the things that matter.”

5 Tips for Talking About Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview
Okay, that’s all great in theory, but what do you actually need to do to discuss your strengths and weaknesses successfully?

1. Be Honest
One of the most important things to get right when talking about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview setting is honesty. It might sound trite, but it’s also true. An answer that sounds genuine and authentic will impress, while one that sounds generic, calculated, exaggerated, or humblebraggy will do the opposite.

A boss doesn’t want to hire someone who can’t recognize and own what they bring to the table as well as what they need to work on. You’ll be a better employee if you can understand and leverage your strengths and acknowledge and learn from your weaknesses. So you want to show in the interview that you’re capable of that kind of self-reflection.

2. Tell a Story
Here’s another cliche you shouldn’t discount: “Show, don’t tell.” Anyone who’s ever taken a writing class—whether in seventh grade or graduate school—has heard it. You should keep it in mind when answering just about any interview question, and it’s certainly helpful here.

“Anytime you can have a real-life example or a concrete example, it’s a good idea. It just helps to contextualize the response a little bit,” Smith says. “We just understand concepts and situations better with a story. So if you can tell a story that supports your thesis, then it’s always helpful.”

Talk about a time your strength helped you achieve something in a professional setting or when your weakness impeded you. For example, if you’re talking about how you’re calm under pressure in a fast-paced environment, you might tell the interviewer about that time you delivered a revamped client proposal after a last-minute change of plans. If you’re admitting that your weakness is presenting in front of high-level executives, you might start by briefly describing the time you got so nervous presenting your plan for a new marketing strategy that you weren’t able to effectively convey your (thorough and pretty brilliant) approach and your boss had to step in and help get the plan approved.

Not only will sharing a real example make your answer stand out, but it’ll also make it sound thoughtful and honest and highlight all those other characteristics interviewers are actually looking for.

3. Remember to Get to the Insight
An answer that’s genuine and includes an illustrative anecdote is a great start, but it’s not complete until you add some insight. This goes for both strengths and weaknesses but looks a little different in each case.

When you’re talking about a strength, the last beat of your answer should tie whatever skill or trait you’ve been discussing to the role and company you’re applying for. Tell the interviewer how that strength would be useful in this particular position at this particular company.

So going back to the revamped client proposal example, you might add, “Since things move quickly at [Company], this would allow me to come in and earn a new team’s confidence and foster a trusting team culture while also ensuring we’re all hitting our goals and delivering high-quality work.”

In the case of a weakness, “tell me how they’ve grown from it or what they’ve done to accommodate that or what they’ve learned from it,” Smith says. “Really showcase your growth trajectory, your learning curve, what you’ve done as a result of the awareness of that weakness,” she adds. “It gives you an idea like if I hire this person and they’re here, this is the kind of problem solving or growth that I can expect to see from them.”

So if you were the candidate with the presentation snafu, you might talk about how you sat down with your boss to make a plan to improve your public speaking skills, and how the next time you had to present to the execs you knocked it out of the park.

4. Keep It Short
You don’t have to devote half the interview to these answers. You can keep your response relatively brief and focused on one or two strengths or weaknesses, depending on how the question was phrased. To add to our list of overused-but-handy phrases: Think quality, not quantity. Don’t dive in and rattle off a litany of things you think you’re good or bad at without explaining anything. Instead, narrow it down and go into detail.

5. Don’t Sweat It So Much
While you definitely want to prepare and do your best to nail your answers, try not to stress too much. “Don’t panic,” Smith says. “I have never known an employment decision to come down to how someone answers those questions,” she adds. “It’s just one data point connected with a whole bunch of other ones. So don’t give it too much weight.”

How to Answer “What Are Your Strengths?” in an Interview
The key to talking about your strengths in an interview is to use the opportunity to demonstrate that you’re the best fit for the role, the team, and the company.

Smith recommends reading carefully through the job description and learning as much as you can about what the company is up to and what the culture is like. Read various pages on the organization’s website, take a look at its social media accounts, and catch up on some recent announcements and news coverage if applicable. Use what you’ve learned to identify which of your strengths is most relevant and how it will allow you to contribute. Then make the connection inescapable. “Every answer should position you to help them see how you can solve a problem” and help the company achieve its goals, Smith says.

At the same time, you don’t want to go overboard. “It’s such a fine line. I always tell people not to worry about bragging, but you also don’t want to come across as cocky or too full of yourself,” Smith says. Give a confident and honest assessment that does your skills justice, but don’t let yourself veer into hyperbole.
What It Might Sound Like
If you’re applying for an operations role at a startup, you might say:

“I’d say one of my greatest strengths is bringing organization to hectic environments and implementing processes to make everyone’s lives easier. In my current role as an executive assistant to a CEO, I created new processes for pretty much everything, from scheduling meetings to planning monthly all hands agendas to selecting and preparing for event appearances. Everyone in the company knew how things worked and how long they would take, and the structures helped alleviate stress and set expectations on all sides. I’d be excited to bring that same approach to an operations manager role at a startup, where everything is new and constantly growing and could use just the right amount of structure to keep things running smoothly.”

How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?” in an Interview
While you’ll definitely want to tie your strengths to the role and company you’re applying for, you should avoid that approach when talking about your weaknesses. “You don’t necessarily want them associating a weakness with their company or with what they’re looking for,” Smith says. For example, if the job description for a sales role lists excellent verbal communication skills, you shouldn’t say one of your weaknesses is thinking on your feet during phone calls, even if you’ve worked hard to improve and feel more than competent now.

It’s the same advice she’d give someone writing a cover letter when applying for a job for which they have most, but not all, of the qualifications. Focus on the requirements you do bring to the table, not on the ones you don’t.

Instead, prepare a couple of standard options to choose from and in each interview, talk about a weakness that doesn’t obviously impair your ability to perform the core functions of the role. Make sure you admit the weakness, pivot to the insight, and end on a strong note. “If someone can be honest and have the self-awareness to answer that question, I think that says a lot about their emotional intelligence and their professional maturity,” Smith says.

Her last piece of advice? Don’t pick a “weakness” like “I’m such a hard worker” or “I’m too much of a perfectionist.” Going down that route will backfire, because it comes off as disingenuous, oblivious, or immature—and none of those are qualities that’ll get you the job.

What It Might Sound Like
If you’re applying for an engineering job, you might say:

“My greatest weakness would probably be waiting too long to ask questions to clarify the goals of a project and to make sure I’m on the right path. I noticed in one of my first coding jobs out of college that I would get an assignment and, because I assumed I should be able to work independently, I’d waste time going down a particular road that didn’t 100% align with the ultimate goal and then would have to spend additional time making changes. After it happened once or twice, I started asking my manager more questions about why we were adding a particular feature, who it was intended for, what about the previous functionality had made for a poor experience, etc. And especially for bigger projects, I would reach out when I needed a gut check to ask follow-up questions as well as to share the work I’d done so far and what I was planning to do next. In the long run, it meant I could finish projects faster and do better work.”

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/strengths-and-weaknesses-interview-question-answer-examples?ref=recently-published-1

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When you’re getting ready for a job interview, it’s always good to try to predict which questions an interviewer might ask. If you’re like most people, you’re fully prepped to field queries about what you know and the experience you have, like “Tell us about your responsibilities in your current job” or “Explain the strategy you used for [project on your resume].”

But don’t stop there! Recruiters and hiring managers also often ask behavioral questions, which can help them get a better idea of your personality and your soft skills. This could include questions like, “What type of work really excites you?” or “Tell us about a time you were frustrated by your colleagues.”

An even more sophisticated example that may not initially seem like a behavioral question is “What do you like least about your job?” Because it can be a bit of a “gotcha” question, you’ll want to craft your response with care. We talked to a few career experts and got their insights to help you avoid the pitfalls and answer it the right way.

Resist the Temptation to Vent
Even for those of us who genuinely love our careers, “What do you like least about your job?” is a question that we could easily wax poetic about over a few rounds of drinks with friends. But an interview is not the time to dish about, for example, how your boss is not nearly as smart as you.

That’s because this question isn’t really about discovering what you dislike, points out Conrad Woody, a partner at Odgers Berndston, an executive search and recruitment firm. More likely, it’s a test of how you would respond to an invitation to vent. “The interviewer wants to know if you’re the type of person who will go negative when given the opportunity,” says Woody.

Your answer should not leave the interviewer believing they could be your next gossip victim if things don’t go well. Speaking negatively of your current employer ends up reflecting poorly on you, not the company. If you must vent, save that for your friends—ideally not ones you work with.

Focus on New Opportunities
A great way to answer this question is to talk about a responsibility or duty you’d get to have at your new job that your current role doesn’t offer. For example, if the job you’re interviewing for requires that you deliver presentations to large groups, you could share that you wish your current job gave you the opportunity to flex the public speaking skills you’ve honed at your local Toastmasters club.

Alternatively, you can speak about a responsibility at your current job that simply isn’t challenging you any longer because you’ve mastered it. Just make sure that whatever it is, it isn’t a duty that’s integral to the job you’re interviewing for!

Frame the Answer in a Positive Way
No matter what you talk about, always take the opportunity to turn the negative into a potential positive with your new employer. “You don’t want to focus too much time on something you hate or don’t like,” says Tamara Rasberry, an HR Manager in Washington, DC. “Even when you briefly mention something you don’t like, highlight that you are well-versed in it but that it simply doesn’t challenge you anymore or utilize all of your strengths.”

By quickly pivoting to how your current role was a necessary and informative building block for your next career move, you show your ability to find the silver lining and do what needs to get done.

What This Looks Like
Need some inspiration? Consider these sample answers:

The “It Was Fun While It Lasted” Answer
By concentrating on the positives of the new employer, you can avoid mentioning anything explicitly negative about your current job:

“While I enjoyed working for a large law firm because I was able to gain experience across several subject matters, I’d prefer to bring all those learnings to your firm because I believe that your singular focus on the entertainment industry would allow me to have deeper impact.”

The “I’d Rather Be Doing Something Else” Answer
This answer briefly mentions a current responsibility, but focuses on the opportunity the new job would provide:

“In my current role, I’m responsible for drafting media lists to pitch. While I’ve developed a knack for this and can do it when it is necessary, I’m looking forward to a job that allows me to have a more hands-on role in working with media partners. That is one of the things that most excited me about your Account Supervisor position.”

The “You Asked, So Here Goes” Answer
There is of course, always the bold option, which is to speak more bluntly and directly about something not-so-great about your current role or company. But again, you’ll want to end on a positive note that spotlights your enthusiasm for the new job:

“My current company acquires new business through traditional methods like cold calling and direct mail. I’m impressed with the digital, email, and social acquisition campaigns you have implemented and how they reflect a more modern, innovative approach. While I am flexible enough to succeed in a diversity of work environments, I’m eager to work for a company that embraces change.”
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/what-do-you-like-least-about-your-job-interview-question-answer?ref=carousel-slide-0

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You’re in a job interview, and things are going well. You didn’t get lost on your way to the office, you made some friendly small talk with the hiring manager, and you’re nailing your answers to the questions you’re being asked.

Just when you start thinking you have this in the bag, you hear the interviewer say, “Tell me about a time when…”

Your stomach drops. You rack your brain for something—anything!—you can use as an example. You grasp at straws and finally stumble your way through an anecdote that only sort of satisfies the prompt.

First of all, take comfort in the fact that we’ve all been there. These types of interview questions are tough to answer. But, here’s the good news: There’s a strategy you can use to come up with way more impressive answers to these dreaded questions: the STAR interview method.

What Is the STAR Interview Method?
The STAR interview technique offers a straightforward format you can use to answer behavioral interview questions—those prompts that ask you to provide a real-life example of how you handled a certain kind of situation at work in the past.

Don’t worry—these questions are easy to recognize. They often have telltale openings like:

Tell me about a time when…
What do you do when…
Have you ever…
Give me an example of…
Describe a…
Thinking of a fitting example for your response is just the beginning. Then you also need to share the details in a compelling and easy-to-understand way—without endless rambling.

That’s exactly what the STAR interview method enables you to do. “It’s helpful because it provides a simple framework for helping a candidate tell a meaningful story about a previous work experience,” says Al Dea, the founder of CareerSchooled and a career and leadership coach.

So, let’s break down that framework. STAR is an acronym that stands for:

Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

By using these four components to shape your anecdote, it’s much easier to share a focused answer, providing the interviewer with “a digestible but compelling narrative of what a candidate did,” says Dea. “They can follow along, but also determine based on the answer how well that candidate might fit with the job.”

Answering Interview Questions Using STAR
Knowing what the acronym stands for is only the first step—you need to know how to use it. Follow this step-by-step process to give the best STAR interview answers.

1. Find a Suitable Example
The STAR interview method won’t be helpful to you if you use it to structure an answer using a totally irrelevant anecdote. That’s why the crucial starting point is to find an appropriate scenario from your professional history that you can expand on.

There’s no way for you to know ahead of time exactly what the interviewer will ask you (although our list of behavioral interview questions can help you make some educated predictions). With that in mind, it’s smart to have a few stories and examples ready to go that you can tweak and adapt for different questions.

“Brainstorm a few examples of particular success in your previous job, and think through how to discuss that success using the STAR framework,” says Lydia Bowers, a human resources professional. Repeat that exercise for a few types of questions.

If you’re struggling during your interview to come up with an example that fits, don’t be afraid to ask to take a minute. “I’m always impressed when a candidate asks for a moment to think so that they can provide a good answer,” says Emma Flowers, a career coach here at The Muse. “It’s OK to take a few seconds.”

2. Lay Out the Situation
With your anecdote selected, it’s time to set the scene. It’s tempting to include all sorts of unnecessary details—particularly when your nerves get the best of you. But if the interview asks you to tell them about a time you didn’t meet a client’s expectations, for example, they don’t necessarily need to know the story of how you recruited the client three years earlier or the entire history of the project.

Your goal here is to paint a clear picture of the situation you were in and emphasize its complexities, so that the result you touch on later seems that much more profound. Keep things concise and focus on what’s undeniably relevant to your story.

“The STAR method is meant to be simple,” explains Flowers. “Sometimes people provide too much detail and their answers are too long. Focus on just one or two sentences for each letter of the acronym.”

For example, imagine that the interviewer just said, “Tell me about a time when you achieved a goal that you initially thought was out of reach.”

Your Response (Situation): “In my previous digital marketing role, my company made the decision to focus primarily on email marketing and was looking to increase their list of email subscribers pretty aggressively.”

 

3. Highlight the Task
You’re telling this story for a reason—because you had some sort of core involvement in it. This is the part of your answer when you make the interviewer understand exactly where you fit in.

This can easily get confused with the “action” portion of the response. However, this piece is dedicated to giving the specifics of what your responsibilities were in that particular scenario, as well as any objective that was set for you, before you dive into what you actually did.

Your Response (Task): “As the email marketing manager, my target was to increase our email list by at least 50% in just one quarter.”

 

4. Share How You Took Action
Now that you’ve given the interviewer a sense of what your role was, it’s time to explain what you did. What steps did you take to reach that goal or solve that problem?

Resist the urge to give a vague or glossed-over answer like, “So, I worked hard on it…” or “I did some research…”

This is your chance to really showcase your contribution, and it’s worthy of some specifics. Dig in deep and make sure that you give enough information about exactly what you did. Did you work with a certain team? Use a particular piece of software? Form a detailed plan? Those are the things your interviewer wants to know.

Your Response (Action): “I started by going back through our old blog posts and adding in content upgrades that incentivized email subscriptions—which immediately gave our list a boost. Next, I worked with the rest of the marketing team to plan and host a webinar that required an email address to register, which funneled more interested users into our list.”

 

5. Dish Out the Result
Here it is—your time to shine and explain how you made a positive difference. The final portion of your response should share the results of the action you took. Of course, the result better be positive—otherwise this isn’t a story you should be telling. No interviewer will be dazzled with an answer that ends with, “And then I got fired.”

Does that mean you can’t tell stories about problems or challenges? Absolutely not. But, even if you’re talking about a time you failed or made a mistake, make sure you end on a high note by talking about what you learned or the steps you took to improve.

Bowers warns that too many candidates skip over this crucial, final part of their response. “They don’t make it clear how their action made an impact—the result,” she says. “That’s the most important part of the answer!”

Remember, interviewers don’t only care about what you did—they also want to know why it mattered. So make sure you hammer home the point about any results you achieved and quantify them when you can. Numbers are always impactful.

Your Response (Result): “As a result of those additions to our email strategy, I was able to increase our subscriber list from 25,000 subscribers to 40,000 subscribers in three months—which exceeded our goal by 20%.”

 

Putting it All Together
It’s making sense now, isn’t it? Here’s one more question-and-answer example for some added clarity.

The Interviewer Says: “Tell me about a time when you had to be very strategic in order to meet all of your top priorities.”

Your Response:

Situation: “In my previous sales role, I was put in charge of the transfer to an entirely new customer relationship management (CRM) system—on top of handling my daily sales calls and responsibilities.”

Task: “The goal was to have the migration to the new CRM database completed by Q3, without letting any of my own sales numbers slip below my targets.”

Action: “In order to do that, I had to be very careful about how I managed all of my time. So, I blocked off an hour each day on my calendar to dedicate solely to the CRM migration. During that time, I worked on transferring the data, as well as cleaning out old contacts and updating outdated information. Doing this gave me enough time to chip away at that project, while still handling my normal tasks.”

Result: “As a result, the transfer was completed two weeks ahead of deadline and I finished the quarter 10% ahead of my sales goal.”

 

The STAR interview process for answering behavioral interview questions might seem a little overwhelming at first. But it will become second nature with a little practice. And make no mistake, practicing is definitely something you should do.

“Whether it’s in a mock interview or just practicing your answer in the mirror, talk through your response so that it feels natural and comfortable when you’re actually in the interview,” Flowers says.

With just a little preparation and strategy, you’ll soon view behavioral interview questions as less of a burden—and more of an opportunity to emphasize your awesome qualifications.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/star-interview-method?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-0

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Anyone who has built a career knows that finding your first job is a real challenge. There’s no class in college called, “How to Find a Job That Will Make You Happy,” and many stumble to carve out their own paths in those first couple of years.

When you’re on the verge of graduating, it’s tempting to get buried under online applications and advice from career counselors, all the while forgetting there’s one untapped resource right at our fingertips. Remember those people who raised you?

Your parents are a great resource for the job search process, serving as consultants who help you hone in on your strengths, tap into a wider network, prepare for an interview, and evaluate an offer. But don’t just take our word for it, we spoke with Campus Recruiters at Philips, Brett Romary and Rebecca Abrahams, about how to leverage your parents’ wisdom to make that big jump into your first job a great one:
Get Their Feedback
Your parents, it turns out, know you better than almost anyone. They’re a great resource to help you understand your strengths and passions. And luckily, parents are always there (remember when you couldn’t get away from them fast enough?). They can help with the job search process from the very beginning—from figuring out what cities you want to live in, to what kind of role you want to pursue.

As you consider the route you want to take—and the opportunities that arise from there—parents are a great sounding board to help you process this big life change. Rebecca says, “Young professionals and their parents would benefit from having a good conversation about each opportunity. Is this something that’s aligned with what you did in college and your interests?” You can be a bit more vulnerable (hopefully) with your parents than with your career counselor, which will help you to honestly examine how you feel about a certain opportunity.

That said, make room for your own instincts, too. Sometimes, parents want to sway you in a certain direction; building awareness around that will help you strike a balance between benefiting from their support and making independent decisions.
Tap Into Their Network
Parents have networks, even if they’re informal. These communities may be the key to making inroads into your first job, and they’re worth tapping into. “Making professional introductions is huge,” says Brett. “Parents probably have connections somewhere, whether they work in this field or not. They can really help candidates learn more; the possibilities of these connections are endless.”

Don’t dismiss your parents’ network just because they don’t work in a field related to your interests. Although it’s hard to believe, your parents are social beings. Maybe a neighbor, PTA member, or friend of your dad’s has your dream job. So, ask your parents to mention to their friends (and acquaintances) that you’re looking for a role—you never know what will come of it.

As Brett notes, “These communities often serve as the bridge between students who are just graduating and a job.” And, your parents’ network is one of the easiest ways to get your hat into the ring—you know your parents are dying to brag about your qualifications!
Ask for Professional Prep
Many parents have worked in a professional setting for years, if not decades, so they have a wealth of information about how to navigate a new job. Talk to your parents about the most important career lessons they’ve learned along the way. “Parents can really help their children develop business acumen within the field,” Brett says.

In no situation is this truer than in the interview process. “Young professionals are really nervous because they’ve never interviewed before,” says Brett. “We tell them to practice; if their parents can help prep them at all, it’s a huge plus.”

Set aside time to do a few mock interviews with mom or dad. This kind of exercise will make it easier to get comfortable when you’re in front of a hiring manager, and ask your parents to give you helpful tips to improve your pitch.
Evaluate Compensation
When you’re evaluating a compensation package, it’s difficult to know where to even begin. You probably don’t know the difference between HMO and PPO insurance plans or have a clear sense of expectations for vacation days.

Online research can be really helpful, but if your parents have experience negotiating compensation packages, they could be your best resource. Rebecca says, “It can become really overwhelming to assess your first package because you’re not sure what’s the norm. That’s why we encourage students to talk to their parents.”

Beyond helping you assess the package itself, they can give you insight into whether the compensation is something you could really live on. Work with your parents to create a budget around your potential salary to make sure you can cover daily expenses, have savings, and plan for retirement.
As a young professional, you’re in the driver’s seat. But use the knowledge and experience of your parents, and give yourself a boost when you need one most. We bet your parents are going to give you unsolicited advice anyway, so why not solicit the advice you really need—that extra support from your parents could help you launch your career.

 
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/use-your-parents-as-resource-when-looking-for-job?ref=recently-published-1

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Most people have a general understanding of how to prepare for an interview. Yet, it can be easy to overlook some of the details, especially if you’re feeling a bit nervous or you’re focusing on preparing for common interview questions.

To help take some of the stress out of your prep, here’s a handy guide to your interview preparation.

1) Mental preparation
Background research: The first step in your preparation is to gain a detailed understanding of the role and the organisation. Pore over the job description so you understand everything that’s involved and gain an understanding of the team you’ll be working with. Research the organisation using all the sources of information at your disposal: the company website; press releases and annual reports; news and other media; social media and LinkedIn; friends and contacts.

Learn about the organisation’s products and services, areas of growth, financial performance, its history, management team, company culture, and its place in the industry. This information will help you understand how you would fit and add value. Also check the LinkedIn profile of the person interviewing you so you understand their role and where they fit into the organisation.

Self-reflection: Now that you’ve gathered information about the organisation, it’s time to reflect on you – your experiences, the skills you’ve developed, your professional achievements and goals. Go through your resume to refresh your memory on the details of your work history.

Think about the specific points you need to be prepared to articulate: your career ‘story’, personal brand and USP, your key capabilities and achievements, what interests you about the role, how you can help the organisation achieve its goals, and why you are attracted to the company and want to work there.

Prepare for common interview questions and behavioural interview questions, and jot down key points. As much as possible, use the terminology used in the job description to describe your competencies and experiences. Also prepare your own questions to ask in the interview.

The most important thing to emphasise in the interview is the fit: between your capabilities and the requirements of the role; between your career goals and what the organisation is offering; and between your personality traits and the culture in the team or organisation.

2) Logistics
Practical details: Sorting out the practical details involved in getting to an interview is just as important as mental preparation, and helps you remain calm on the day. This includes planning what you will wear to the interview and what you will bring to the interview (printout of your CV, notepad and pen, examples of your work). Check the weather – is it likely to rain so will you need to bring an umbrella?

Getting to the interview: If there’s one golden rule about interviews, it’s that you must arrive on time. That means ensuring you know exactly where to go and how to get there, and who to see on your arrival. Make sure you have the interviewer’s full name and its correct pronunciation, and their title.

If you’re taking public transport, check schedules and estimated travel times and give yourself a generous buffer in case of delays. If you’re driving, check the route on Google Maps. If possible, do a test run before the interview and keep your eye out for one-way roads and roadworks. Do you have enough petrol in the car? Always allow more time to get to the interview than you think you’ll need, especially if you’re travelling in peak hour or if rain is expected.

Physical preparation: To perform at your best in the interview, it’s crucial to get a good night’s sleep the night before. Eat a nutritious evening meal (not too heavy or late), avoid alcohol and start winding down before you go to bed. Get an early night and of course, don’t forget to set your alarm.

3) On the day of your job interview
Before leaving: Give yourself time in the morning to review your resume and notes, and run through specific points you wish to make. Ensure you leave early enough to arrive at the interview a few minutes ahead of time.

Final tips: While a morning coffee can help make you more alert, it might be wise to avoid having too many as you don’t want to be jittery during the interview. When you arrive at the interview, give yourself a final once-over: tidy yourself up (check your face, clothes and hair), turn your mobile phone to silent, and take a few deep breaths. When you meet the interviewer, greet them by name and don’t forget to smile!

Source:https://au.hudson.com/career-advice/how-to-prepare-for-a-job-interview

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Searching for a job can be a job in itself and is not truly finished until you are offered employment. Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy offers a few tips on how to stay motivated during this often trying time:

1. Clarify your values: If the company’s values are in opposition to your personal value, the employment is inherently set up not to work. This determination of values can be done by being honest with yourself and doing a self-appraisal of what you believe in.

2. Write out your marketable skills and areas of execellence: When you are switching jobs or looking for a more challenging opportunity, be sure to emphasize your strengths. Emphasize how your skills have resulted in measurable consequences in the past. Moreover, certain areas of specialty can serve to add flavor and interest to your candidacy for a job.

3. Pinpoint your areas of weaknesses and determine how you can improve them: Try to avoid fluffier answers like, “I am a perfectionist.” Be honest with areas in which you are not the strongest and think actively about how you can make yourself better.

4. Don’t let the world decide your path for you; choose something you love: Tracy brings up the point that you will spend more time in your life working than any activity other than sleeping. Make sure it’s something you can not only tolerate but find purpose in doing.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/video/312868

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A job title is a nicely packaged label, but we’re more than just a title.

Your background and experiences provide a wide array of knowledge, skills, and strengths that you can transfer over to any job.

Instead of searching by title, I’d start by researching the responsibilities that excite and energize you. That means instead of confining yourself to a job title, start describing what’s involved with your ideal role instead.

Here’s How to Do That

I recommend starting with an exercise that resembles digging for career gold, where you’ll evaluate all of the positions you have held throughout your career and ask yourself things like:

  • What did I love about this job?
  • When did I lose track of time?
  • When was I most excited?

As you go through this process, jot down all of the responsibilities you enjoyed and skills you liked using.

Next, I want you to take a look at this list and start identifying common threads and patterns. Were you happiest when crunching data? Interacting with clients? Problem solving in a team? Building something from nothing? Working on one long-term project vs. multiple short ones?

As you start to understand your skills and interests, you can lead your job search by sharing the story of what you’re looking for. Each time you share your dream role including the skills and interests you align with, two things will happen:

You’ll open up closed doors as more people hear you stating what you’re looking for. It’s amazing what connections and opportunities crop up once we share our goals with the world.

You’ll hear recommendations from people that often sound like, “Have you ever considered [blank]?” or “Have you talked to [blank]?” Whether you’re talking to career experts, recruiters, friends, or strangers, everyone in the world has unique perspectives, contacts, and experiences that they are able to share with you in turn.

Once you figure out what types of roles really intrigue you, then you can craft your personal brand and ensure you’re highlighting a cohesive and consistent story in all of your online and offline marketing materials.

More importantly, you can start a targeted networking campaign to spark conversations with people who will be able to share more about the career paths you’re truly interested in. These informational interviews can lead into informal job interviews… which can lead to offers.

It’s easy to feel welded to your title in your job search, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Turn your attention to your skills and experiences instead, and I’m confident that you’ll find job opportunities that are way better suited to what you’re looking for. Good luck!

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-job-search-with-vague-job-title

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If you know you’re capable of doing more than fetching coffee (and I know you are!), then you need to walk into that interview room with the confidence and command that says so. How do you do that? Use these tips when readying yourself for your next interview.

1. Make a List of What You’re Great at

Think about the things that make you feel good about yourself. Are you gifted at organizing or creating systems and processes that improve efficiency? Or, are you great interpersonally and have a knack for making people feel heard and welcome?

Start creating a list of those attributes. This will not only shore up your inner confidence, but it will also give you content that you can relate to what your interviewer is looking for in the company’s next hire.

2. Think Through Your Day-to-Day

So you’re telling me that someone paid you for 40 hours each week plus benefits to only get coffee—and that’s it? Even the most prodigal of companies probably had a few more expectations than that.

When you’re struggling to think of other responsibilities, it’s helpful to talk through your day-to-day with a friend. It’s easy to take for granted the other things you do, and by relaying what you spend your day doing, you’ll be able to come up with significantly more content and depth than you previously thought.

For instance, in addition to getting coffee, did you also ensure the office was appropriately stocked and presentable for visitors and employees? Did you manage the conference room schedule and ready rooms for meetings? Did you liaise with building maintenance staff on the upkeep of the office?

Look at that! You’ve just described the background of a perfect office coordinator or administrative assistant.

3. Unlock Your Potential

Remember, potential is not what you’ve done, it’s what you can do. Rather than fixating on the most literal definition of yourself and what you’ve previously done, use this as an opportunity to think and dream expansively.

What more can you do? What more is within you? Listen carefully to the needs of the person interviewing you and find ways to relate your background or personality to those needs. Your previous job doesn’t define the whole you, nor should it define your potential.

The job search is enough to shake anyone’s confidence—particularly when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t have valuable skills or experience to offer. But, I’m willing to bet you bring way more to the table than you think!

Put these tips to work, and you’ll tackle your job search with the confidence of someone who’s more than deserving of that open position.

 

Source:https://www.themuse.com/advice/job-search-with-confidence-when-skills-are-lacking?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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The first 90 days of your new job are crucial to set yourself up for long-term career success. It’s where you make good on the promises you touted during your interview and set the stage for how people perceive you.

That’s why asking for feedback during this time is so, so important. It quickly demonstrates to your new boss that you’re invested, you’re committed to excellence, and that you’re in this for the long haul.

Plus, if done well, you can earn major brownie points that may help you get recognized later for opportunities to work on interesting projects or even advance more quickly.

Easy enough, right? Now that you know just how important your first 90 days are, here are some guidelines for how to ask for feedback to ensure you’re on the right path (or how to get on it).

When Should You Ask?

Eliciting feedback in these crucial first few days is a balance between giving your new manager and co-workers enough time to form concrete thoughts and opinions of you, while also being proactive in prompting feedback that will help you as you get onboarded.

Rule of thumb: Don’t expect a formal review by the end of week one. After that, it’s all a judgement call. How much real work have you actually had a chance to do? If you’ve just completed a big project or finished a tougher assignment, now may be the perfect time to ask for some input on how you did. Regardless of the above, don’t let three weeks go by without making the big ask.

A good rhythm for how frequently you continue to check-in will hinge on the volume and involvement of your work. That said, a good best practice is no more than once a week, but no less than once a month.

How Should You Ask?

Don’t pounce at the water cooler or in the bathroom while your boss is washing her hands. Reach out to your manager via email or in person and request a meeting directly. Explain what the meeting is for—people will appreciate having a heads-up so they can prepare ideas ahead of time.

Try something like, “I’d like 15 minutes of your time to talk about how you think things are going so far with me. Are you satisfied with what I’m doing, and the work I’m producing? Is there anything I can be doing differently?”

What Should You Ask?

Give your manager suggestions on what you want to hear, such as, “How am I integrating within the team?” “Am I operating at the speed you need me to?” or “How is the quality of my work? Any development areas you have already identified that I can work on?”

This is also the time to coach your manager on what you need in terms of resources. Would you benefit from regular one-on-ones or additional training? Perhaps a tracking system that you and your manager have access to to share what you’re working on?

Who Should You Ask?

Besides your boss, co-workers are also a great resource for feedback. While it doesn’t need to be as formal as with a manager, try crafting an email along the lines of, Hey, I’m loving it here so far, and would love to get some feedback from you to make sure I’m setting myself up for long term success. It’s really important to me I’m doing a good job and making a good impression.

The reality of soliciting feedback is that it may not always be 100% positive. So, prepare yourself mentally. All your good intentions will immediately be nullified if you go into “defensive” mode. Keep your ego out of this conversation and stay open and non-judgmental.

Then, send a follow-up email thanking your manager or colleague for their time and candor, and briefly outline your takeaways and any next steps you plan to take. Implement any areas of improvement right away and follow-up with your boss to make sure the adjustments you’re making are correct and noticed.

We know there’s a lot to learn in your first 90 days. You’ve got new systems, technologies, faces, and names to remember, and so much more. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Incorporating this advice displays maturity and commitment on your part, and will also give you a good indication of whether you’re doing well, or need to make some adjustments before its too late. Regardless of what you learn, it will empower you to excel in your new role.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-ask-for-feedback-first-90-days-successful-new-job

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I sat fidgeting in an uncomfortable chair that was placed adjacent to my boss’ expansive desk, feeling the sweat already start to tickle my forehead. I kept picking at a piece of torn upholstery toward the bottom of the seat, despite my best attempts to look cool, calm, and collected. But, no matter how many articles I crank out about successfully putting in your two weeks notice, I’ll admit it’s pretty tough to look confident and composed when you’re quitting your job.

That’s exactly what I was doing. I was seated across from a man who had been my manager for years—starting when I was just a college intern to when the company took me on full-time—and explaining to him that I was hitting the road.

“So, I guess you could consider this my two weeks’ notice,” I said to him while doing my best to avoid any direct eye contact. “Oh, here, I put it in writing too, in case you need that or, like, something,” I added while practically throwing him an unsealed envelope and simultaneously trying to edge my way out of the room.

“Well, this is a surprise,” he said, with a forced smile on his face. “Where are you going? Did you receive a better offer elsewhere?”

I swallowed nervously, took a deep breath, and attempted to keep my voice from trembling. “No, not exactly,” I replied, trying to stifle the nauseous feeling that was slowly rising from my stomach to my throat.

“So, why are you leaving?” he pressed, “Where are you going?”

“I want to be a freelance writer. I’m going to do that full-time,” I quickly responded.

His face said it all. Like so many others, he was confused as to why I would leave the comfort and security of a traditional, full-time job (and, hello, health benefits!) for a life of uncertainty as a freelancer.

I wanted to explain to him that this was something I just had to do. I’d been thinking about it for ages, and I could no longer tolerate it being only that—a thought. I needed to take action and give it a try.

But, in reality, I didn’t say any of that. Instead, I kept my mouth shut. Why? Well, the truth of the matter was I didn’t really have a plan that I could share with him. Sure, I had one big client that I was hoping would carry me until I could get things off the ground (that client actually ended up dropping me only a few months later, but that’s a story for another time). But beyond that, I didn’t have any other potential opportunities lined up. I lived in a small town with very few connections to the type of work I wanted to be doing. I really had no idea how I was going to go about running my own freelance business. Oh, and I had absolutely zero clue how I was going to pay those pesky things called bills.

As someone who loves security and predictability, to this day I have no idea what came over me. But, regardless of the fact that I didn’t really know what was coming next, I quit my job anyway.

Looking back, jumping ship from my full-time position with no firm back-up plan in place probably wasn’t the smartest thing. And, I’m definitely not trying to encourage you to march into your own boss’ office tomorrow and use that exact same tactic—unless you’re prepared for a lot of shameless crying into an open carton of those delicious (and somewhat addicting) frosted animal crackers.

However, I do think taking that terrifying leap of faith was one of the most enlightening career experiences I’ve had so far. Call it stupid, impulsive, or brave—at the very least, it was educational. Here are a few of the (many, many, many) things I learned.

 

1. You Don’t Need the Approval of Others

When I would tell people about my plan to sprint away from my cubicle in favor of the freelance life, I so desperately wanted them to reassure me with statements like, “Oh wow, you’re so brave!” “Good for you!” or even a friendly and dad-like, “Go get ’em, tiger!”

Unfortunately, that’s not really what I got. Instead, I was faced with a lot of, “Wait, you’re doing what?” types of comments.

In the end, it really didn’t matter. I was the only one who needed to feel good about my decision. And I did—at least in between the animal cracker crying sessions mentioned earlier. Yes, we all naturally crave approval and reassurance from others every now and then. But, trust me, you don’t need it—at least not as much as you think you do.

 

2. Scary Is Exciting

There’s a reason that people fork over wads of cash in order to see a horror film about possessed grandparents or to walk through a haunted house where someone is guaranteed to leap out with a chainsaw. There’s a big part of being terrified that makes you want to run and cry—but the other piece is actually somewhat thrilling.

In the first few days (ahem, alright, months) after leaving my full-time gig, I’d sit down at my computer and feel totally overwhelmed. Every day was a battle to try to scrounge up work and at least take one step in the right direction. But, at the same time, I felt absolutely exhilarated. I had no idea what was coming next, and that actually made me feel surprisingly motivated and optimistic. It was one of the most distressing, nauseating, and anxiety-inducing times in my life—but it was also the most exciting.

 

3. You Never Know Until You Try

I hate to sound like a cheesy, cliché high school commencement speech. But, this sentiment really does ring true. You have no idea what you’re capable of until you push yourself to try it.

I’ll be honest—it’s not that I strongly disliked my full-time job. However, it didn’t set my heart on fire either. A big chunk of my duties were administrative. And, while I did perfect the art of mail merging like a total boss, I didn’t really feel all that challenged or fulfilled by my work.

However, as a self-described creature of habit, I think that I likely could’ve dealt with that mundaneness for the rest of my life. There was a big part of me that figured I was suited for that sort of life and career. It was safe and predictable. I was content.

Fast forward to now, and I’ve accomplished things that I never even thought were a possibility for me. I’ve been published places that I assumed were mere pipe dreams. I’ve worked with people who are essentially celebrities in my eyes. Just think—none of it would’ve happened if I had stayed with the “safe” route.

 

4. Your Career Really Doesn’t Define You

We all have the tendency to use our careers to define ourselves. But, it’s important to remember that your job isn’t who you are—it’s what you do. As Muse Managing Editor Jenni Maier explained in her article about being laid off, your position definitely adds to your life, but it doesn’t make up the entirety of it.

When I left my job, I felt the need to justify my decision and clarify every last detail until people were literally snoring in front of me. There was this immense need to explain my employment situation in order to give myself a purpose and identity.

Turns out, that’s really not the case—all of that pressure to define myself using my career was totally self-imposed. In fact, most people honestly didn’t care if I was a dog walker or the Dalai Lama. Although, above anything else, they were most likely just wondering why I gave them a play-by-play career breakdown when all they asked was, “Paper or plastic?”

Jumping ship from my full-time job was undoubtedly one of the scariest career decisions I’ve made in my life thus far. But, even though it had my knees shaking and my palms sweating, I’m glad I did it. It’s worked out well so far, and I’ve managed to learn a lot along the way.

So, if you’re contemplating taking your own leap of faith anytime soon, I hope these lessons encourage you and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. And, in those moments when all you feel is sheer panic? Well, reach out to me on Twitter. I’ll come running—frosted animal crackers in tow.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-lessons-i-learned-from-quitting-my-job-with-no-backup-plan

1

The prospect of returning to work after years away from my career was daunting. I faced a host of challenges: a lack of recent and relevant experience, outdated corporate skills, and uncertainty about my Baby Boomer place in a Millennial-focused world.

I still thought, however, based upon my early career success and an advanced degree in my field, that I’d get a great offer in no time. It didn’t happen. My strategy—jumping into a role that was the wrong fit (and later leaving), followed by picking up consulting gigs here and there and then trying to explain it all in a resume with gaps and changes—was failing. I needed a strategic shift.

So I changed everything, from how I was approaching the job search process to my end goal. As a result, I applied for and landed a returnship, with Goldman Sachs. (If you’ve never heard of it, a returnship is an internship for people returning to the workforce.) It enabled me to add current and substantive experience to my resume, and reset my career path so I could once again move forward.

Here are the six most important lessons I learned in my quest to get back on track.

1. Update Your Online Presence
Being a somewhat tech-savvy boomer, I had a LinkedIn profile.

But too many people have ones that are lackluster or outdated. If that’s you, place this at the top of your to-do list. Both recruiters and hiring managers use the site to find and screen candidates.

I left off dates for my degrees to minimize age bias, and truncated my experience to the past 10 to 15 years (I recommend you do the same!).

2. Network—Always
You may think that networking is just for young professionals who need to meet new people. That’s simply not true. It’s beneficial regardless of your age.

For example, I had a friend put in a good word for me, and I know that helped me to be considered for the role at Goldman.

Here are four things you should start doing (if you’re not already):

Periodically touch base with professional contacts. Be memorable by sending a personal note and an interesting article once a month.
Let the other person know that you respect their time by being specific when you have an “ask.” Say (or write): “I’d really appreciate your perspective—can we speak/meet for 15 minutes?” And then stick with that time commitment.
Extend your network. Ask your contacts to connect you with their contacts.
Follow-up with a thank you note, every time. Take it to the next level by offering to be of help if they ever need your perspective or expertise.

3. Make it Easy for People to Help You
If you’re asking someone to refer you, give them everything they need, so they can simply send along your details.

So, if you’re applying to a role at their company, this includes the job name, job number, your resume, and bullets outlining what skills and experience you’d bring that match the requirements for the role.

People are busy, and so if you give them a complete email they can simply forward, it’s a lot more likely it’ll get passed on.

4. Refine Your Elevator Pitch
When you’ve had a lot of experience, it’s important (though often hard) to be clear about your objectives.

What are your areas of expertise?

What type of role are you looking for?

It’ll be tempting to rattle off everything you’ve done in the past, or say, “I can really do anything.” But a long speech can be overwhelming for listeners—and can make you look overqualified—and unfocused. So, cut it down and zero in on one thing you want the other person to come away with. My rule of thumb is that it should be no longer than 30 seconds.

5. Practice Self-Care
Unreturned emails, closed doors, and rejection all sting. But, it happens to pretty much everyone, especially when you’re outside the “sweet spot” of hiring prospects.

There’ll be surprises for better and worse: People that you’d have bet would be right there to help aren’t; and people you barely knew will do all they can.

So, it’s all the more important to be kind to yourself: go the gym, meet friends, and see a movie! That stuff may seem frivolous when you’re job searching, but it’ll help you feel happier—and keep you from letting your identity be wrapped up in your professional life.

6. Pay it Forward
Once you’ve landed in your new role, do what you can to help a colleague or friend of a friend. It could be at work, like offering to mentor junior employees.

Or, it could be that someone contacts you seeking your advice. Remember how you felt when you were job searching and do your best to find the time!

And of course, when you’re hiring in the future, give those who’ve had winding career paths a second look.

After my 10-week returnship program ended, I was asked to stay on for another year—and I did, happily. When my role recently came to an end, leaving Goldman Sachs was bittersweet.

But one thing that made me feel better is that I knew I was ready to find my next, more permanent position. On this search, I have not only a solid and recent accomplishment to leverage, but all of the lessons I’ve learned the last time around, as well as some new and treasured Millennial friends.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-6-best-job-search-lessons-i-learned-after-10-years-away-best-of?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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Why would I quit my good job?

Even if we’re not happy, many of us stop short of leaving because of that question. If you have good benefits, decent pay, and a reasonable boss, you feel ungrateful for wanting to go (even if you dread the work itself). You know many people would kill for the positive things you just listed off.

If you’re torn between whether you should leave, or try to make it work, ask yourself the following questions.

1. Did I Daydream About Being Somewhere Else Today?

Do you spend a good amount of your workday reading random articles or thinking about vacations you have no intention of going on? I get it—it’s fun to fantasize—but at a certain point, it’s a red flag that your job isn’t engaging enough.

Follow-up Question: Am I Just Easily Distracted?

In many situations, these sorts of distractions come down to your ability to focus, not how well your job suits you. If this is the case, you’re better off making a concerted effort to improve your focus and develop productivity skills than looking for a new role. A great place to start is reading Brian Tracy’s famous book, Eat That Frog.

On the other hand, if you typically have laser-focus and realize you’ve recently stopped caring, it may be time to move on.

2. What Would it Take for My Job to Make Me Happy?

Make a list of the things that would need to change for your job to be really fulfilling for you. Maybe your workload is massive, or maybe your team is structured in a way that causes friction. If your unhappiness is stemming from something circumstantial, talk to your boss and see if you can change things for the better.

Follow-up Question: Are These Changes About Me (and Not My Job)?

Often times, when I ask my clients to do this exercise, they wind up with a list of things they’d need to change in themselves for their job to make them happy.

What this signals to me is that they aren’t unhappy with the work. Rather, they feel they’re holding themselves back in some way. Building new skills can be a way to boost your confidence and open your self up to new opportunities—both in current and future roles.

Online courses provide tons of training and advice. Along with that, I’d recommend reading books in your area of focus, as well. Once you’ve changed up what you have to offer, it’ll be easier to assess whether it’s you (or where you are) that isn’t quite working.

3. Am I Worried About Money?

Fear’s a powerful motivator—and understandably so. It’s disconcerting not to know where your next paycheck is coming from. However, if all your job does is help you pay your bills, I encourage you to see if there are other opportunities you’d find more compelling (without bankrupting yourself).

Follow-up Question: Am I Unhappy Because I’m Financially Vulnerable?

I’ve repeatedly noticed that when people are stressed about money, they become more risk-averse in general. Their anxiety about losing their job actually drives them to underperform. This drop in performance makes them more anxious, and as result, they begin to hate their job.

If this describes you, then the next step for you is to buckle down and get brutal about your finances. How can you right now budget a life that leaves you a financial safety net and takes the pressure off?

This will help you either way, because if you secure yourself financially and you’re still unhappy, you’ll know it’s time to go.

The last question you should ask yourself is: “Am I afraid of what people will say?” This is a fundamental fear that holds people back. Many of us are terrified of what people will say when we quit a “good job”—especially if it’s for something less profitable or uncertain. They might think you’re ungrateful, insane, over-confident—who knows, maybe all of the above!

Forget them. Would it be really be worth staying in a job you don’t like—each and every day—just to have other people be impressed with you? Those people could think you were a hero, but you’d still be unhappy. Make this choice about you and your personal happiness, and you’ll come to the right decision.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-questions-to-ask-yourself-before-quitting-your-perfectly-good-job?ref=carousel-slide-0

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When you think of what you can do in 10 minutes, you probably think of taking a shower or checking your email—nothing too crazy.

But, what you may not realize is that this is actually plenty of time to do something far more productive and valuable, like get ahead in your career.

Wait, but how? We asked nine successful entrepreneurs from YEC to share the best ways you can advance your knowledge and skill set in just 10 minutes of free time. Because why not take advantage of every second you have?

  1. Research and Pick a New Podcast to Listen To

I love listening to podcasts as I’m driving or walking. I’ve learned so much from hearing different career stories, and it entertains me during my down time.

  1. Learn From Experts

Identify an expert in your field and spend 10 minutes a day analyzing his posts on social media, his blog, or videos of him speaking. Pay attention to how he words things and how he appeals to audiences. Make time in your schedule for 10 minutes a day to do this, and in a year’s time, you’ll have spent over 60 hours learning from the masters.

  1. Learn Anything Outside of Your Job

It’s often the most unexpected things that contribute the most to our careers. If you’re living in an information vacuum and only learning things directly relevant to your job, those bolts of lightning won’t strike. That’s why I spend my free minutes during the workday unwinding and learning something completely new, whether it’s through a short video or an interesting article.

  1. Skim Industry Publications

Stay on top of your industry by using 10 minutes to skim through a relevant magazine or website. Not only does this keep you up-to-date with your profession, but it may spark ideas for new projects   or initiatives at your company.

  1. Reach Out to Someone in Your Network

We all think we’re too busy to keep up with the vast majority of our connections, yet we know that there is undisputed value in maintaining those relationships. In 10 minutes, you can quickly text or email someone whom you haven’t spoken to in a while and let her know you’re thinking about her. It goes a long way.

  1. Watch a TED Talk

With each TED Talk you watch, even if it’s only for 10 minutes, you get to learn something fascinating about a new subject from experts in that field. Plus, you see firsthand how you too can turn any subject into a compelling narrative.

  1. Take a Risk

Sometimes, the only way to push forward is by taking a leap of faith. For example, write that email you’ve been hesitating to make to that potential employer. There are times when the only way overcome stagnancy is to face rejection or accept an offer from someone who’s willing to bet on you. Take the risk, and reap the rewards (or fail and try again).

  1. Take a Walk

When I have 10 free minutes, I take a walk around the office or outside. I try not to think of anything in particular, but to observe what’s happening around me. It refreshes you, and you may notice things that you normally wouldn’t while actively engaged in a task. It’s when I’m doing ‘nothing’ those solutions to problems occurring to me.

  1. Subscribe to a Publication

Sign up for a daily email from a publication related to your field. They usually contain a word or story of the day that teaches you something new and informs you of the different aspects of your industry. Reading these emails generally takes no more than 10 minutes and gives you a powerful bit of knowledge for the day!

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-10minute-activities-thatll-make-you-better-at-your-job-and-impress-your-boss-in-the-process