Category: Best Advice

Generosity: The Key to Getting Ahead

Filed under: Best Advice, Efficiency, Good Habits, Happiness

Have you ever worked for a jerk? How about a boss you loved, respected, admired? Who did you perform better for?

We all do better work for someone we trust, admire, respect. And yet, if you took a poll of critical business skills, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a list that didn’t include vision, leadership, drive, ambition, or intellect. You’d be equally hard pressed to find one that included, much less led with, generosity. That generosity is important and valued isn’t news—but the #1 key to success? That’s not where it usually lands.

Generosity is more typically an afterthought, a by-product, a “nice-to-have” quality. If a manager or leader is generous, they’re probably well liked. But it’s more than that: Elegantly simple, yet extremely powerful, generosity can make your career.

Generous people share information readily, share credit often and give of their time and expertise easily. What comes across is a strong work ethic, great communication skills, and a willingness and ability to collaborate. Generous bosses get 10x the productivity from their employees; generous employees’ stars rise in tandem with their bosses…

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When To Go With Your Gut

Filed under: Best Advice, Decision Making, Productivity, Quick Tips

As a general rule, gut instinct is nothing to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite. It’s really just pattern recognition, isn’t it? You’ve seen something so many times over your life or career that you just get what’s going on without a lot of deep thinking. Gut instinct is a deep, even subconscious, familiarity — the voice inside you that tells you “Go for it now” or “No way — not ever.” We would wager, however, that the most common gut call falls in between the two. We’re talking about the “uh-oh” response in which your stomach informs you that something is not right.

The trick, of course, is to know when to go with your gut. That’s easy when you discover, over time, that your gut is usually right. But such confidence can take years.

Until that point, we suggest a rule of thumb: Gut calls are usually pretty helpful when it comes to looking at deals and less so when it comes to picking people.

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>

9 Career Lessons From Millennials

Filed under: Best Advice, Career Advice, Insights, Professional Development

Last week I had the chance to sit down with a group of college students and new graduates to pick their brains on how kids these days are starting their careers. One of the most exciting things about working at Collegefeed is the access to millennials from all walks of life. Collegefeed’s mission is to help every single new graduate get hired, regardless of whether they’re engineering majors from Stanford or literature grads from tiny private schools.

Despite facing skyrocketing tuition fees and a pretty scary unemployment rate, what struck me most was the enthusiasm, conviction and hope they all had in taking that first step. As we spoke, they shared insight into how today’s first-time jobseekers approach the job hunt.

Click here to read the rest on The Huffington Post >> 

The Importance Of Scheduling Nothing

Filed under: Best Advice, Productivity, Rational Thought, Time Management

If you were to see my calendar, you’d probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no indication of what’s going on. There is no problem with my Outlook or printer. The grey sections reflect “buffers,” or time periods I’ve purposely kept clear of meetings.

In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It’s a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.

At first, these buffers felt like indulgences. I could have been using the time to catch up on meetings I had pushed out or said “no” to. But over time I realized not only were these breaks important, they were absolutely necessary in order for me to do my job.

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How To Stand Out From The Rest

Filed under: Best Advice, Job Search, Quick Tips

Lynda Fraser, Vice President, Human Resources Contract Division, Solomon Page Group

Small things can pack a big punch when you want to stand out from your competition. These few simple strategies can focus attention to where you want it to be – on you!

Polish Your Resume:   If you want to be viewed as a professional, then your marketing collateral (your resume) needs to be polished and professional.  This means a total absence of spelling or grammatical errors.  You’re probably thinking, “well everyone knows that.”  Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean they follow through and proof carefully.  Make sure your vocabulary reflects the level of the position you seek and is appropriate to the culture you work in.  “Good enough” just isn’t good enough to set you apart.

Demonstrate Your Value:  Highlight the impact you have made in your various positions.  A simple series of bullet points that could have been lifted straight from a position description is more an indication of ‘time served’ than anything else.  Include significant achievements and accomplishments. What sets you apart from the dozens of other candidates?  What demonstrates that you have initiative or a work ethic that signifies effort and commitment?

Seek Help When You Need It:  Not everyone is a good writer.  If you know this is not your strength, ask for help from someone who does this well.  Your resume is not a novel, but you want to make sure that your story, employment history, and abilities are articulated in a thoughtful and coherent way.

Fast Forward . . . You Have an Interview:  Congratulations!  And now you have another chance to stand out!  What counts here is your presentation (well dressed and well groomed), communication (poised, open, direct and engaged) and your obvious preparation (you have done your research on the company, the position and key people, you have intelligent questions to ask and have anticipated questions you are likely to be asked).  Again, seek help if you need it.  If you’re concerned about being nervous, don’t hesitate to practice in front of a mirror or use a tape recorder to understand how you sound.  Ask your recruiter or someone whose opinion you value to run through questions you think might pose a problem or to help you articulate the points you would most like to get across.

Follow Up:  Understand that the interview doesn’t finish when you walk out the door.  A short but sincere thank you note can seal that first impression.  Being able to refer to a point covered during the meeting will help demonstrate your engagement during the interview.  And if you are working with a recruiter, be sure to follow up.  Building a relationship with your recruiter can be a powerful advantage for both the short and long term.

It is a highly competitive landscape out there and a tough one in many ways.  While there is nothing revolutionary about these tips to stand out, you would be surprised how few people take the extra effort required to be noticed and to be remembered.  The amount of time required is small for potentially great reward.  Someone once said “Life is not a matter of chance… it is a matter of choice.”  Choose to make your chances count!

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Filed under: Best Advice, Goals, Your Career

Chintan Vora, VP of Technical Staffing, Solomon Page Group

Different isn’t always better. Different can be a game changer. When you’re thinking about changing employment, it’s not the time to flip a coin.

The best preparation for making this kind of decision should take place when a new job isn’t even on your horizon. Identify your goals and outline a plan on how to achieve them. Reconcile the gaps between where you are at this point in time, your vision of what you would like to accomplish next and what you ultimately want to achieve. And this part is important – for each step along the way understand your motivation for the goals you’ve set.  Are you looking for more money, greater responsibility, to work in a more challenging environment, stronger leadership, greater support, or maybe more opportunity to think and create?

Faced with a legitimate opportunity that requires a decision, already understanding what you want from change will help you be objective. Compare your motivating factors against the goals you’ve set for yourself. Will the change you are contemplating help you achieve your goals or just provide a change of scenery? Have you exhausted the possibilities for growth in your current situation? Is leaving your comfort zone to challenge your abilities and move to the next level long overdue? Having a game plan for what you want to achieve and the kinds of transitions that will satisfy your goals will let you make a confident decision. 

The Only 4 Dimensions That Matter In Hiring (& Why You’re Probably Evaluating Them Wrong)

Filed under: Best Advice, Hiring, Interviews

Does this sound familiar? You interview a candidate who has deep knowledge of your industry and checks off every box in the ‘skills’ section of the job description. They assure you that they are the perfect fit for the position, able to hit the ground running on day one. They look great on paper and seem to be excited about the job. You make an offer, the employee starts working, and soon you are inundated with red flags and problems coming at you from all sides.

What went wrong? You didn’t assess the two most important criteria for any new hire: personal characteristics and motivation.

There are four key hiring dimensions: #1 personal characteristics, #2 motivation, #3 skills and #4 knowledge. In the above scenario, the focus was on just skills and knowledge. And while these are still critical to predicting the success of a potential hire, they should take a backseat to personal characteristics and motivation.

For the most comprehensive picture of a potential candidate, you have to look at all four dimensions, in this order of importance:

1. Personal characteristics are just that—core to one’s personal character. 

Click to read the full article on LinkedIn >>

Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Career Advice

Filed under: Best Advice, Passion, Your Career

Self-help books and career-building workshops love to peddle one secret to a successful career: Follow your passion. Ever since Confucius proclaimed, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” chasing one’s passion has been frequently served up as a quick fix for career happiness.

“Following your bliss” may be perfectly good (if a little hackneyed) advice, but when it comes to building sustainable success in your career, the answer might not be that obvious, according to Monique Valcour, a professor of management at EDHEC Business School in France, who has spent 15 years researching careers.

“The ‘follow your passion’ self-help industry tends to under-emphasize this key point: all of the self-awareness in the world is of little use if you can’t pitch your passion to a buyer,” Valcour wrote in a recent Harvard Business Review blog. “A sustainable career is built upon the ability to show that you can fill a need that someone is willing to pay for.”

So what would a sustainable career even look like? Click the link to read more at Huff Post >>

Dealing with Office Politics

Filed under: Best Advice, Office Politics, Your Career

“There’s too much wrangling and maneuvering going on – I just hate this office politicking”. “Joe, well he’s a smart political mover – knows exactly how to get what he wants and how to get on.” Whether you hate it, admire it, practice it or avoid it, office politics is a fact of life in any organization. And, like it or not, it’s something that you need to understand and master to be sure of your own success.

“Office politics” are the strategies that people play to gain advantage, personally or for a cause they support. The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good. In this context, it often adversely affects the working environment and relationships within it. Good “office politics”, on the other hand, help you fairly promote yourself and your cause, and is more often called networking and stakeholder management.

Perhaps due to the negative connotation, many people see office politics as something very much to be avoided. But the truth is, to ensure your own success and that of your projects, you must navigate the minefield of Office Politics. If you deny the ‘bad politics’ that may be going on around you, and avoid dealing with them, you may needlessly suffer whilst others take unfair advantage. And if you avoid practising ‘good politics’, you miss the opportunities to properly further your own interests, and those of your team and your cause.

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How to Get Everything You Want. Seriously

Filed under: Best Advice, Success, Your Career

You’d like to be successful in everything you do, of course. Here’s how to make it happen.  Getting what you want in your career and in life isn’t as difficult as it may seem. I mean it.

Listen First and Never Stop Listening

Listening is the single-most important skill in professional and personal relationships. Ernest Hemingway said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” It’s sad, but true: Most people have their own agenda and are too busy talking (or waiting to talk) to listen to you. So here’s the paradox: If you, unlike most people, can truly listen with empathy, then people will like you–and eventually help you get what you want.

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