Thursday, January 31, 2013

Are You Making One of These LinkedIn Mistakes - Part 3

In this third installation of common LinkedIn mistakes, I want to evaluate your communications that take place through this valuable social networking tool. Let's look at two facets of communication - within the LinkedIn site itself and outside of LinkedIn.

Communication Within LinkedIn
The creators of LinkedIn were so generous when they launched the site. Any time you go to communicate with someone within LinkedIn - sending an invitation, requesting an endorsement or simply sending an email - the website generates an automated communication. However, if you want to truly use LinkedIn to its full potential, never send the automated communication.

  • Always customize your communication with a personal note - even if the contact is someone you work with on a daily basis.
  • If attempting to connect with a recruiter or establish a networking contact within a company, preparation is key. Research the company's needs, problems, and values to identify how you can be of assistance to them.
  • Reach out to human resources or hiring manager contacts by sending a customized invitation to connect. This invitation should state your background and skill set and convey your desire to keep on top of what is happening in that company's industry by making connections via LinkedIn.

Communication Outside of LinkedIn
Use the connections you form on LinkedIn to take that online relationship outside into the "real world." Don't rest on your laurels and revel in the number of connections you have established on LinkedIn. Instead try to form real human relationships using your LinkedIn connection as a launching point.
  •  Request informational interviews where you can either meet in person or speak on the phone for 15 minutes and get the chance to pick your contact's brain for additional inside scoop.
  • Think of LinkedIn as a resource that you can proactively use to build your network. Be willing and available to make recommendations and endorsements when requested. In order to expect assistance and referrals from your network, you must be willing to make the effort to help them as well. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: The Art of Doing

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video Forbes writer Jenna Goudreau shares some insights from a book about "super-achievers", including the need for daily dedication to a vision.

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Are You Making One of These LinkedIn Mistakes - Part 2

Last week, I wrote a blog post about making mistakes with your profile on LinkedIn. Heaven forbid you should go to the trouble of creating an online profile, just to have it come back against you because you did not properly manage the process.

Just like you reviewed and edited your resume and researched and prepared for your job interview, your LinkedIn profile is a work in-progress. It is not a set it up and forget it type of entity. If this is your approach to LinkedIn, it is unlikely to produce positive results for you. On that note, let's look at how you can remain active on LinkedIn and the mistakes you may be making.

Your Connections
There are two schools of thoughts on connections - the "more is better" and the "only connect with strategic partners" theories. Being the rule breaker that I am, I believe you can combine the two to have the best of both worlds.

  • Connect with as many people as you can, including your competition. As a business owner, this was hard for me to wrap my mind around. I was afraid my customers would see my competition in my connections and they would take my business. However, this is a two-way street and I am amazed at what I have learned about my industry by connecting with my industry peers.
  • Be strategic in your partnerships and connections. Who are the movers and shakers in your industry? Seek them out and make connections - you might just find a mentor. Who are your customers - or potential employers? Connect with them and you may have a way to network your way into a job.
  • Use LinkedIn connections to put a name to the face when networking your way into a company. Just last week, one of my clients reached out to a recruiter with the company she is targeting and connected with her online. On a whim she stopped into their corporate headquarters and ran into the woman on LinkedIn. She introduced herself in person and had an interview within 24 hours, thanks to the social networking connection she made.
  • Evaluate who is looking at your profile and consider reaching out to them to make a connection. Be careful how you word your introduction - you don't want to appear desperate - you simply want to come across as a savvy networker.
This brings me to our last category of mistakes, communication and activities on LinkedIn. Check back on Thursday for the final Part 3 of this LinkedIn mistakes series.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Designing a safe space for communication: second in a series

In my last post I discussed the importance of creating a safe space for communication as an important leadership practice, whether you are a front-line worker, a manager, or a senior executive. A critical component of developing strong relationships with others and a team-oriented work environment, psychological safety builds trust among and engages team members productively. Not every work culture embraces psychological safety, however, which is why it is important for leaders at all levels to know what they are up against (i.e. power dynamics) before setting upon this course. 

Once that dynamic is acknowledged, the leader needs to proceed to the next step: 

Step two: Designing a psychologically safe space
Designing a psychologically safe space does not happen naturally: it takes faith, time, and clear communication on behalf of the leader. The latter of the three is critical as expectations and group ground-rules should be considered, discussed and agreed upon.

A discussion like this can seem like a strange one, as many just assume and follow the common practices of organization culture (which are oftentimes harmful to psychological space). You, as a leader, should initiate the discussion to create this space.

To begin, ask the group for permission to address the topic, and articulate the notion that groups can oftentimes be waylaid by communication issues, and you wish to address them now before they can become problematic. Most will agree with you outright, and those that do not will be intrigued to listen further. 

Once you have the group listening, say that you would like to create a group space of safety, one where  anyone can communicate ideas that are considered positively or negatively by the group. No person is to be ridiculed, but no idea is to be free from discussion.

Another point of discussion should be the roles that group members play. Regardless of the organizational "rank" of the individuals in the group, the group's goals outweigh them. Thus, everyone in the group should have he ability to speak-up freely without fear of reprisal. 

After articulating your vision, practice what you preach by opening it up for discussion. What are you gaining by agreeing to this new way of working? What are you losing? To what level of responsibility is the group now aspiring?

When the discussion ends and the group appears to have come to a consensus on its norms and expectation in this new way of thinking, address one more aspect: the invitation. What you are asking them to do is to embark on something extraordinary...and different. Can they step into it? By accepting the invitation, they are making a commitment to do so and to take responsibility for what comes up.

Assignment: create a conversation patterned after the one above, one that designs a space of psychological safety. Discuss what happened in the comments section below. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • Improve Your Networking Skills  -- Right Now"Try to listen more than you talk, be thoughtful in your interactions and generous with your time when you can."

  • How to Have a Year that Matters: "Rugged individualism is nice in theory, but the truth is: if you're going to make a difference, you're probably not going to make it happen all by your lonesome. So who are your mentors and allies, friends and peers? Who's at your back, manning your sails, crewing your boat?"

  • How to Be a Career Prepper"Begin seeking opportunities to meet people who work outside your company and build mutually beneficial long-term relationships. Also begin creating a personal reputation of excellence, on- and off-line."

  • 4 Ways to Figure Out Your Future"For one week, invest an hour every day to research. Check out top job lists, browse career exploration sites, or just read your favorite section of the newspaper. Your goal? Write down any career that catches your attention. This exercise can stretch your vision of what opportunities actually exist."

  • Why You're Not a Leader"True leadership isn’t found seeking the spotlight, but seeking to shine the spotlight on others. The best leaders only use 'I' when accepting responsibility for failures. Likewise, they are quick to use 'we' when referring to successes." 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Top Cities for Finding a Job in 2013

Despite high unemployment rates, some cities in the United States have great job opportunities. If you’re looking in the New Year, here are some recommended locations.

According to U.S. News and World Report writer Danielle Kutzleben, Washington, D.C. is considered one of the most opportune of all cities. Government jobs make up a large portion of these employment opportunities, but many other careers are available in the consulting, non-profit, and education sectors. Oklahoma City, also has over 35,000 government jobs available, as well as a large number of telecommunication jobs.

Also on Kurtzleben’s list are Salt Lake City; Baltimore; and Milwaukee; each with a strong health-care industry and large medical centers/universities that employ thousands. Austin is hot for technology jobs; it’s home to Dell and hosts large offices for both IBM and Apple. Combined, St. Paul and its neighboring twin city of Minneapolis are the headquarters to eighteen Fortune 500 companies.

Hartford, is home to aerospace supplier United Technologies and is the headquarters location for many insurance and financial companies. Also on the east coast, Boston is known for its concentration of universities, not to mention, hospitals, health care, and insurance employers. Plus, New York City is still known for its number of jobs per capita; although unemployment for the city still remains high, jobs in the financial sector and hotel and restaurant industries remain strong.

According to Chad Brooks of BusinessNewsDaily (January 2, 2013) job openings are plentiful in the West in cities such as Phoenix and Tucson, Austin and El Paso, and San Francisco. For more information from BusinessNewsDaily, click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Are You Making One of These LinkedIn Mistakes?

I have talked at length about how important LinkedIn can be to your job search. The last statistic I heard was that 80% of employers will look you up on LinkedIn before calling you for an interview. Just in the last week, I have spoken to a handful of clients who have been contacted through their LinkedIn profile for career opportunities.

Hopefully, you have taken the advice and have created a LinkedIn profile. However, like all social media there are positives and negatives that can go along with LinkedIn. Review your profile and how you use LinkedIn to be sure you are not making errors in one or more of these areas.

Your Profile 
  • You should ensure your LinkedIn profile is as professional and polished as possible. Ensure your profile is 100% complete. 
  • Your summary section should not be too lengthy. Offer your value proposition and set yourself apart from the crowd with a 2 to 3 small paragraphs or 5 to 7 bullet points.
  • The default on LinkedIn is to use your current job title as your headline. To distinguish yourself from the competition, customize your headline with a personal branding statement. Mine says "Resume Writer - Career Services Trainer - Outplacement Consultant - Personal Branding Advisor - Military Transition Guru." Another example is "Customer Service Enthusiast with 10+ Years' Experience Building Repeat Customer Relationships." What do you want people to know about you?
  • Whether we like it or not, people make judgments based on appearance. For this reason, you should take extra care with your profile picture. Your picture should be professional - no kids or dogs involved. It is a good idea to have a professional photo taken for a nominal fee. This will ensure the photo quality and setting are professional as well. Your photo should look welcoming and friendly. Don't forget to smile and be sure to wear professional attire, not "going out dancing" clothes.
Check back next week when I discuss the mistakes you may be making with your connections and your communications on LinkedIn.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Follow Your Passion

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video Warren Buffett shares his career advice to find something you are passionate about.

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

5 Signs It May Be Time to Quit Your Job

For the last few years, as the job market has been challenging, many of us were just thankful to have a steady paycheck and a stable job. Now that the market has been slowly improving, you may be thinking about whether or not you are happy in your career. Of course, I always recommend putting a lot of thought into this decision. However, there are these few situations where you may want to consider making a change.

Your values don't match the company's values.
This is a deal breaker for most people. If you feel that ethically and morally the company's decisions do not match your own, it may be time to move on. You should seriously consider moving on before you compromise your values and beliefs for a job.

The job is making you ill.
There are jobs out there that are quite literally making people ill. Your job may be asking you for physical exertion beyond what your body can handle, or you may not be getting rest because of stress or long hours. Are you being mistreated at work as the victim of harassment or discrimination? What about that sick feeling in your stomach every day when you have to go into a job that simply makes you unhappy? Sometimes the only answer to taking care of yourself is a change of environment.

You have no passion for your job.
A job will always just be just a job if you do not love what you do. In order to reach your full potential, do what you are passionate about. There is nothing like a day at work that flies by because it is so enjoyable. Think about what it would feel like to be paid to do what you love! Find your passion and pursue it as a career.

You are not being paid market value.
We have all tightened our belts and been willing to wear extra hats in our jobs for the last few years. However, as the economy strengthens, your company may not change its expectations back to where you were before the recession. Do some research in your industry and in your local area to see if you are being fairly compensated. If not, try to have a conversation with your employer. If they are not willing to budge on your salary, you may have to look elsewhere.

Your company is floundering.
I talk with people all the time that claim to have had no idea that they were about to be laid off. When we begin to talk about their company, the signs that the company was in trouble were everywhere and they just chose to ignore them. Keep your eyes and ears open to what is going on within your industry and your company at all times. Know your competitors and build relationships within your industry. Open your eyes to the writing on the wall and get out before you get dragged under with the sinking ship.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Communication and getting to the truth - one in a series

If you have ever been in a leadership role in your career - whether as a supervisor, unit head, project manager, or some other role where you are leading an initiative - inevitably a thought is going to cross your mind: am I being told the truth?

It's an excellent question...and one that can make or break a leader.

Creating an environment of psychological safety - where your team members can speak up freely about their thoughts and opinions on a topic and not fear condemnation or reprisal - is at the heart of outstanding group communication and being told the truth. Managers - from CEOs to front-line managers - struggle with this component of their jobs more than any other. It's one thing to make claims about wanting others' opinions to be heard, but it's an entirely different thing to create an environment where it is true.

Building a safe psychological space requires an acknowledgment of current organizational dynamics, a shift in perspective, intense intentionality, and constant reinforcement. In this series, I will delve into these different components individually and provide you with assessment questions or assignments to help you strengthen psychological safety for your work unit.

These steps can be helpful to managers, or to front-line staff who have the courage to talk with their supervisors about this important component of teamwork.

Step one: Acknowledge the power dynamic
Since most organizations are hierarchical (with a top-down reporting structure) and possess a culture (the rules - both written and unwritten - that dictate how communication is handled, tasks are accomplished, and where power lies) that reinforces the power of the supervisor, I believe the first and most critical thing you can do is to understand and acknowledge this, particularly if you hold performance review and/or firing power over your team.

Through understanding and acknowledgment, you become aware of what you are up against. Fighting hierarchy and culture is a difficult proposition. You could get some push-back from peers or from your supervisor. Further (and possibly even more daunting) you will be fighting with your more skeptical and jaded team members. They are not bad people: they likely have been hurt before by those before you who told them that the space they worked in was psychologically safe...only to be shown that it is not.

Creating a space of psychological safety can seem like an uphill battle and - at times - not worth it. But witness the output and dynamic of any high-performing group and you will see a space of extreme psychological safety.

Assignment: reflect on these questions before committing to creating a space of psychological safety:

  • What is in it for me?
  • What is in it for the team?
  • What am I willing to let go of?
  • What will I need to persevere against?
  • How far am I willing to go?
  • What are the benefits of doing this?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, January 18, 2013

Making the Most of a Conference

Almost every industry and profession offers conferences. They are a great way to keep current on what is happening, learn what the future holds, discover new ideas, and make new contacts in your industry or profession. Some people are fortunate enough to work for a company that will pay to send them to a conference. If you aren’t that lucky but can shoulder the personal expense and time away, you should make it a point to look into attending a conference.

Plan ahead
To get the most out of a conference, plan for it. Review conference materials to determine what speakers and lectures or workshops you want to attend. In addition to looking for interesting sessions, consider those that would be most helpful to your current job or career. Factor in the expertise and delivery style of the speaker. Most importantly, make sure the content of the conference sessions is worth your time and money.

Capture key messages and ideas
Conferences are typically loaded with content and ideas, and it can be daunting trying to recall the content once you return to the office. To help with this, capture notes or handouts during the session, and if there’s time, recap immediately after a session.

Network while you’re there
Conferences are one of the best ways to broaden your professional network, so take advantage of all the opportunities. Before attending, prepare a 60-second “elevator pitch” of who you are and what you do professionally. Take in some of the off-hour social events, which tend to be more informal but designed for networking. Interact with those you know, but remember, your focus should be on meeting new people. Gather business cards from people you would like to stay in touch with, and then reach out to them within a week or two of the conference.

Planning enables you to be fully engaged at the conference so that you come away further energized and even more excited about your profession and/or industry.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The 5-step Recovery Strategy for When You Make a Mistake at Work

You may have noticed that the title says "when" you make a mistake and not "if" you make a mistake. We all make mistakes, some are just more serious than others and some are just more public - I'm talking to you Lance Armstrong - than others. There will come a day when you make a workplace error, so you might as well be proactive and use this 5-step strategy to correct the mistake when it does happen.

Own up to it. We are often disappointed when we hear of people making mistakes. However, I feel the issue is made worse by first denying the issue, then later coming out and not only having to admit the mistake, but also admit to lying. Unless your error is insignificant and will have no long-lasting repercussions, tell your supervisor about the issue immediately so that it is not discovered by someone else.

Solve your own problems. When I was a manager, I always told the people who worked with me that they could come to me with any issue. However, I also told them that they were not allowed to dump their issue in my lap; they must come with a potential solution in mind. Before you go to your boss to admit your mistake, take time to research to effect of the gaffe and outline a plan to correct the mistake that includes any potential costs to your employer.

Don't point fingers. There may be others who share your responsibility for the issue at hand. You should go to them and encourage them to follow your example and admit their role in the problem. However, when you point fingers, you only make yourself look worse.

Go above and beyond to correct the mistake. If your plan for correction includes an expenditure of time, try to do it on your own time. Offer to work through lunch, stay late, or work on weekends; just don't expect to be paid extra for the time it will take to correct your mistake.

Don't dwell on the problem. Lance Armstrong admitted his mistake and apologized for what he did. However, I don't expect him to continue to apologize and castigate himself every time he opens his mouth from here on. Once you admit your mistake and take corrective actions, you must move on, forgive yourself, and ensure you have learned from your mistake so it does not happen again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Staying Motivated

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video career coach Aimee Bateman shares tips for staying motivated during the job search and advises viewers to treat the job search "like a job."

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why do Employers Ask Bizarre Interview Questions

Glass door recently published its top 25 oddball interview questions. You can see the full list here, but here are some of the highlights.

  • What song best describes your work ethic? - asked by Dell 
  • What do you think about when you are alone in your car? - asked by Gallup 
  • How many windows are in New York? - asked by Bain & Company 
  • What two celebrities would you pick to be your parents? - asked by Urban Outfitters 

This menagerie of off-the-wall questions is quite entertaining, but more importantly you need to know why companies ask these types of questions. Unless the interviewer is inexperienced, unprepared, and just "winging it" by asking random questions, the motivation behind the oddball interview question usually fits into one of these three categories.

They are evaluating how well you can "think on your feet." Interviews are already pressure-filled situations. Add in the extra stress of an odd question and many people believe the candidate's true colors come out. They don't really want to know what kind of animal you would like to be, they simply want to see how quickly you can formulate an intelligent response.

They are assessing your problem solving skills. Microsoft was one of the pioneers of the "puzzle" questions. These questions are designed not to elicit the true answer to the original question (i.e. how many windows are there in New York) but are asked to assess the logical process through which you can solve a problem.

They want to know if you fit into the company's culture. The question asked by Urban Outfitters about celebrity parents is a very strategically asked question. Urban Outfitters is a hip and trendy retailer that wants to hire people that it into its culture. If your answer is that you would want Mike Brady (from the Brady Bunch) instead of Tom Brady (the quarterback married to a supermodel) you probably will not fit into their company! By researching your potential employer's culture and values before you go into the interview you should be able to show that you will fit in nicely.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Create a Vision for 2013, not Goals

It's almost universal that the beginning of a new year is a time for establishing a new direction for ourselves, particularly our careers. Like many people, you have probably spent time pondering what you would like to do differently in your professional life in 2013. Perhaps you have thought about or have started creating goals for yourself. If you have done this or in the process of doing this, I have one thing to say to you...

Stop. Immediately.

Don't get me wrong: goals are important. But they are only one part of the success equation. In fact, they are merely the manifestation of something bigger and more compelling for you and your career:

A vision.

Visions are powerful and are the drivers of goals. Before you set the goal to lose 30 pounds or write that novel, feelings manifest around what it would be like to accomplish those goals. There's an underlying state or result that you are trying to accomplish and you use goals as a means to do so. But to make your goals powerful and more likely to be accomplished, it's essential that you have a strong vision that taps into those feelings.

How do you create a strong vision? Answer this question: what would be different for your career in 2013 that would make you feel powerful, accomplished, and terrific about yourself?

From there, continue with these questions (and don't just answer them: feel them. Experience them.):

What about this "different thing" would make you feel powerful and accomplished?

Imagine that it's the end of 2013 and you've created that which you want to be different: what would that be like?

When you think about the previous question, where do you feel it in your body? What "glows?"

Who would you become by this happening (not in the physical sense, but the spiritual one)?

What is a metaphor for this vision that you can tap in to when needed?

What is a visual (an object, a picture, etc.) that you can keep close by you to remind you of this vision?

Spend your time to create powerful, clear visions for your 2013, and create your goals from those visions. And spend time - every day - revisiting those visions to help strengthen your commitment to your goals.

How are you envisioning your 2013? Share in the comment section below.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Career Myths, Rebooting, and More

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • 6 Career Myths You Shouldn't Fall For"You've probably heard the same bits of career advice tossed around over and over ... But plenty of the maxims that we hear repeated actually aren't true. Here are six of the most popular career myths that you shouldn't fall for."

  • Starting Over? 10 Tips to Reboot Your Career: "If big changes feel overwhelming, focus on small daily actions. Even taking mini-steps—setting up an informational interview, writing a thank-you note, reading an industry blog, etc.—make you feel more in control as you slowly build up to your goal."

  • How to Meet and Influence People You Don't Know"Your goal is to increase the number of people who know, like, and trust you. You should identify people ... who have the chance to influence hiring decisions."

  • Take Back Your Life in Ten Steps"Human beings aren't designed to work continuously. We're meant instead to move between spending and renewing energy. Ideally, take a break every 90 minutes, even if only to spend a minute or two breathing deeply."

  • 13 Little Things You're Doing to Sabotage Your Success"If you promise me a miracle, I’ll expect it. If you promise me a little, I’ll be happy with a little and delighted with a little more. Being impressive is mostly about being reasonable in your projections and hitting them consistently." 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rivalry in the Workplace

A bit of competitive rivalry in the workplace can be a good thing, particularly when it motivates the team as a whole to do its very best.But workplace rivalry that negatively impacts communication and collaboration can result in a lack of trust and respect and cause general discord among workers.

Rivalry can be more prevalent during periods of economic uncertainty or dramatic change in an industry or company, such as during a corporate restructuring. This is when workers are most apt to feel their jobs are in jeopardy and thus may feel increased pressure to prove their worth. Unfortunately, this can cause some workers to become downright cutthroat, leading to some unscrupulous tactics in the workplace.

Overall, competition in the workplace may be on the rise. According to a 2011 survey conducted by OfficeTeam, a global staffing services company, one thousand senior managers reported that they felt coworkers were more competitive with one another now compared to what they witnessed ten years ago. 

The best tactic for dealing with coworker rivalry is to rise above it, and here are a few tips for doing so:

  • Work hard and stay focused on doing quality work 
  • Demonstrate loyalty to the company, your manager, and teammates 
  • Be respectful of your coworkers, even those with different work styles and opinions 
  • Open yourself up to learning from others and hearing new ideas 
  • Foster teamwork and suggest ways for collaboration 
  • Identify and work toward common goals 

You may not have control over coworker rivalry; however, you can control your own response and attitude toward it.  Set a good example for others and maintain a professional reputation that you can be proud of and others will respect.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Five Skills You Must Develop if You Want to Become a Manager

I have talked to several customers this week who have stable, well-paying jobs in very popular industries. However, no matter how good their job may be, they want to do "more" with their careers. If you are feeling stagnant in your career and want to move forward into a leadership role there are several steps you must take.

The first of these steps is to let your goals become known. Ensure your manager and human resources knows of your aspirations so they can help you develop a plan of action. Show the leadership team of your company that you are serious about your goals by developing your skills in these key areas.

Communication and Listening
No matter how good you are at managing tasks or projects, if you can't communicate effectively with people, you can only go so far in your career. A good manager must be able to interact effectively with all members of their team. You need to be able to communicate with your employees, your customers and your own manager. You must be flexible and adaptable enough to know how to change your own style of communication to connect with everyone at all levels.

Effective managers must emphasize listening as much as talking. No matter how important you become, a manager's job is much more than telling people what to do. The art of listening - both to what is said and what is not - is critical to knowing what is really going on around you.

Training and Coaching
Ask for opportunities to mentor and coach new employees. This is an excellent way to gain experience in training and will allow you to demonstrate that you have the skills to develop new employees - an important skill for being an effective manager. If these opportunities do not exist within your organization, consider joining an professional organization that will match you with someone you can mentor.

Taking initiative is another way to demonstrate your value to the organization. Look for inefficiencies or opportunities for improvement in your organization. Put together a comprehensive plan for overcoming these obstacles and ask your manager for permission to present and implement your ideas. Try to anticipate your manager's needs and take care of the details of your current job without ever being asked.

Problem Solving
Managers are most often problem solvers and "firefighters" resolving the issues of customers, team members, and higher leadership. Show your ability to determine the source of issues and be proactive in resolving not only the problem, but the underlying root cause.

Leadership and Management
People often use these words interchangeably, but they are not necessarily the same thing. Managers plan, organize, and coordinate while leaders inspire and motivate people to follow them. Managers focus on the short-term priorities where leaders have their eye on the long-term goals of where the organization is headed next. You must be able to do both - especially in today's economy where companies try to do more with less.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: David C.M. Carter on Success

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this interview, mentor and author of Breakthrough David C.M. Carter discusses his book and provides ideas for success, including how to "become the very best version of yourself." 

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tips on Handling a Poor Interviewer

There are many books, classes and educational materials available to the interviewee to learn proper interviewing methods. However, the person conducting the interview may not be as educated on the interview process as you, the interviewee. Keep in mind, not everyone who conducts those interviews has been educated in how to conduct an interview effectively.

A bad interviewer may be unprepared, uninterested, or unfocused. They may dominate the interview by talking too much or they may ask illegal or inappropriate questions. No matter how well-trained your interviewer may be, to make it further in the process, you must get past them first. Follow these tips to make the most of what can possibly be a bad situation.

  • If you meet an unprepared interviewer, one who has not read your resume or does not have any questions prepared, be ready to gently take charge of the interview. Offer them a copy of your resume and request permission to take them through the highlights of your career.
  • For the interviewer that dominates the conversation and talks more than they ask questions or listen, show them that you are an attentive listener. Take the opportunity to ask questions or make points about how your experience fits right into the company situation they have been describing whenever you get the opportunity to speak.
  • Some interviewers don't know how to get an interview started and waste time talking about the weather or sports. If you feel like the interview is winding down and you have not yet been able to make your key selling points, once again you may need to subtly take charge of the interview. Say something like, "I see we are running out of time. There are a few points I'd like to share about why I think I am a great fit for this position. Would you mind if I shared those with you now?"
  • If you encounter the busy or distracted interviewer, checking emails, glancing at the clock, or taking phone calls, you may want to ask if they would prefer to reschedule the interview to a time that works better for their workload. This will politely point out their bad behavior as well as show that you respect their busy schedule.
  • When an interviewer asks illegal or inappropriate questions, you must make a decision about whether or not you choose to answer the question. I once heard an ongoing interview where the interviewer's questions all resolved around the candidate's religious beliefs - very illegal. The interviewer, and their questions, can give you a glimpse into the company's culture and work environment. Be confident in your ability to turn down the job opportunity if you discover it may not be the best place for you in the long run.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Four Agreements at Work - Final in a Series

This post is the final in a series of posts pertaining to the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and how it relates in a career context. Click to read the first, second, and third posts.

What is your "best?" We have been told throughout our lives to "do our best" without a real understanding of what that means. Ruiz brings together the previous three agreements into this powerful and evocative fourth agreement.

The fourth agreement: Always do your bestWhen I was working with a personal trainer, he described to me what I should experience while stretching: "it should be uncomfortable, but not painful." This statement reflects the operationalization of the fourth agreement: doing your best should make you uncomfortable, but it should not tax you beyond your limit.

Ruiz writes that your best is different moment to moment. Some days you feel (and you are) unstoppable: you got a good night's sleep, you have made healthy eating and drinking choices, you are physically active and are honoring the other three agreements. Other days, you simply are not: your body isn't well-rested, you have been eating and drinking harmful substances, you have not been active, and you are not honoring the previous three agreements.

The ramifications of your choices are palpable regarding this agreement.  Would you recommend to someone before a big work presentation to go out clubbing the night before? If someone had an important job interview, should they spend their time taking personally all of the negative things said about them? Is it right to lash out in verbal retaliation against a work colleague who has criticized you?

The reason why always do your best is the fourth agreement is because it is a reminder to practice loving mindfulness in what you do and how you act. None of the previous three agreements can be realized without intentional effort towards them. When you are mindful, you keep the ideals and principles of the agreements in mind and focus on achieving them, directing your intentional effort. But, inevitably, you are going to fail. Fail over and over and over again. Fail before you get out of bed in the morning, perhaps. This speaks to the importance of being loving with yourself and others...but especially yourself. When you fail, get back up and continue to try. With patience and persistence, you will notice a change coming about, a change that will eventually permeate itself into your inner being. And as you change, you will begin to experience a change in your career. Calls will be returned, opportunities will open up, and experiences will be presented to you.

The Four Agreements are a powerful means of career transformation. Being impeccable with your word will show that you are trusted, reliable, and impervious to office politics. By not taking anything personally you are committing to loving yourself and taking information in objectively and for the benefit of your career. Through not making assumptions you escape the poison created by assuming negative and dangerous perspectives on neutral events or occurrences. And by always doing your best you recognize your humanity and strive to continue your development regardless of your inevitable failures.

Agree to following the Four Agreements for the benefit of your career...and yourself!

Challenge: commit to one of the four agreements this week, and write about your experience committing to it below.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • 5 Career Goals You Can Live With"Get clear on your performance expectations.  Sit down with your boss to fully discuss their expectations of you for this year.  Ensure you ask how you will be measured."

  • The Future of You: "Welcome to a new era of work, where your future depends on being a signal in the noisy universe of human capital. In order to achieve this, you will need to master three things: self-branding, entrepreneurship, and hyperconnectivity."

  • How to Turn 3 Career Resolutions into Reality"Making resolutions is easy; putting them into action can prove to be more challenging. If you're ready to take action, read on for some helpful hints to achieve those career goals you've set for 2013."

  • 8 Reasons Why You Never Hear Back After Applying for a Job"Your online brand stinks. With many companies using social profiles to research candidates, you can’t afford to leave your online presence unattended. Run a Google search of your name to ensure all results are favorable, and tailor your public profiles to reflect your career goals."

  • New Year's Resolutions for Your Career"Has someone made your life at work easier, connected you with a helpful contact, or simply been a pleasant person to interact with this year? Tell them—and vow to keep thanking people into the new year." 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Job Search Pointers You’re Not Sure Are Worthwhile

Have you occasionally found yourself wondering whether certain job-search pointers are worth your effort and time? Read on. Many hiring managers, recruiters, career coaches, and others agree that the following pointers may indeed get you noticed and make the difference in how you are perceived as a job candidate.

Ask a Professional to Proofread Your Resume: Anyone will tell you one of the worst mistakes you can make is to submit a resume containing a spelling error. Yet, it is a common mistake. Do yourself a huge favor and ask a professional proofreader or editor to look over your resume. Rates vary depending on geography and the experience of the editor, but a good median range is $30 to $40 per hour. Save money by reviewing your resume closely before handing it off for proofreading or editing.

Write Targeted Cover Letters: Many job seekers question whether they should bother submitting a cover letter with each resume. The answer is “yes,” and make sure the letter is targeted to the position you are pursuing.

Don’t Overlook the Value of Volunteer Work: Volunteering is a great way to use existing skills and talents, acquire new ones, and meet new people. Volunteer when you have the opportunity, and then include on your resume those skills that will translate well in the job market.

Follow Up After An Interview: Have you ever attended an interview and then not heard anything back? Hiring can be an incredibly slow process, involving several steps and people. Always challenge yourself to follow up about the job status after the interview. This gives you an opportunity to enthusiastically reiterate your interest in the job and the company.

Send a Thank You: Many job seekers neglect to send a thank you after interviewing or after receiving help with a job search. Don’t underestimate the importance in sending a thank you. When possible, send a handwritten note. This gesture is often noticed and appreciated.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Seven Tips to Improve Your Professional Appearance on Your Next Phone Interview

Normally, you think of professional appearance for an in-person interview. However, your professional image is just as important when talking on the phone. In fact, it may be even more important because phone interviews are usually used for the initial screening interview. If you don't make a good first impression, you probably won't get that second chance to improve!

Here are several details you may normally overlook. Follow these tips to improve the phone interviewer's perception of your overall professional appearance.

  • Dress for the interview.  Get out of your pajamas or sweats and look the part. When you look the part, you will feel the part and it will positively impact your performance.
  • Use a land line and a hands-free headset if possible. If you must use a cell phone, ensure well before the interview that the room in which you plan to conduct the interview has acceptable reception.
  • If you have a home office or desk, this is where you should sit to conduct the interview. Try to avoid looking out a window and avoid the temptation to surf the Internet or play computer solitaire during the interview.
  • Don't forget to smile during the conversation. A smile on your face often conveys itself through your voice. If possible, set up a mirror in front of you when you interview. You may feel silly, but making eye contact with yourself will strengthen the confidence in your voice and will remind you to smile.
  • Arm yourself with information. For some unknown reason, people tend to prepare less when they are conducting a phone interview. Stand out from the crowd by having your resume, the job posting, your research on the company, your pre-prepared questions for the interviewer, a list of your accomplishments and skills, and your calendar on the desk in front of you.
  • Watch your tone of voice. Inject enthusiasm into your voice without talking too fast. Be careful to speak slowly without droning on in a monotone.
  • Remove all distractions such as animals or children. Turn off the telephone and your cell phone or silence any additional phones in the room. Don't type on your computer during the interview. You would be amazed at how much can be heard in the background of your call.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Can Tattoos and Body Piercings Prevent You From Landing the Job?

Tattoos and body piercings are quite common these days. In fact, as someone who does not have a tattoo or a piercing beyond the standard pierced ears, I often find myself in the minority. To put it into perspective, 30 years ago 1 in 100 people in the U.S. had tattoos. Now 1 in 10 Americans have tattoos and more than 30% of people aged 25 to 30 have tattoos. However common place they become, there are work environments where they are simply not acceptable.

If you have body art or piercings, you must be aware of the fact that there is a distinct possibility that they can hinder your job search process. In fact, conducted a survey where 60% of employers said they were less likely to hire a candidate with tattoos or piercings. For some hiring managers, they can not get beyond the stigma of the type of people who used to get tattoos - gang members, prisoners, and pirates to name a few. It may also be that they simply view them as unprofessional. Keep in mind, there are many well-known corporations - Starbucks and Wal-Mart for example - that prohibit visible tattoos and/or body piercings in the workplace.

If you have tattoos and body piercings your options for ensuring they don't impact your consideration for a job are limited. Your first option is to cover up body art with clothing, band-aids, opaque stockings or strategically placed jewelry. Temporarily take out body piercings or use a less visible, flesh colored or clear plastic insert for those piercings that can not be removed. The only other option is to do your research in advance. Find out your potential employer's policy on body art and piercings. If they are prohibited in their dress code, you should take care to make them invisible for the interview or determine that the company may not be the best fit for you.

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Rachel Botsman and Reputation

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this TED talk, author Rachel Botsman  speaks about the importance of our reputation and the implications this has for collaborating with others and developing our careers. She says, "with every trade we make, comment we leave, person we flag, badge we earn, we leave a reputation trail." 

Watch the video below for more: