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Archive for March, 2012

March 29th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice

Improve These Taken-for-Granted Skills to Upgrade Your BrandAre your job-hunting procedures not working as well as you expected, or as they have in the past? One reason may be that the “brand-package” you present to prospective employers is weak in some of the bedrock leadership, communications, and teamwork skills most people take for granted. If your personal brand doesn’t appear to include top-of-the-line skills, you may well be losing out to candidates who lack your overall ability, knowledge, and experience, but who seem at first glance to be stronger candidates.

Here are five taken-for-granted skills that you may want to polish:



Your Listening Skills These are probably the most frequently overlooked skills of all. One sharp young marketer was fired from several jobs and failed to make the short list on other positions for which he was well qualified simply because he didn’t take the time to listen when people spoke. His mind raced ahead and grasped the point the person was making, prompting him to interrupt in order to give his eager response. No one cared that he was smart and knowledgeable. His refusal to hear others out in full earned him low marks from almost everyone with whom he talked. Listening to others carefully and thoroughly is fairly easy to do, but it will happen only after you make the conscious decision to do it.

Your Speaking Skills The way you express yourself is fundamental to other people’s overall impression of your personal brand. In fact, it’s quite common for someone who knows what he or she is talking about - but who hesitates, chooses the wrong word, or even just mumbles - to appear less knowledgeable and capable than other candidates who possess the gift of gab. Fortunately, you can easily upgrade your speaking skills, either by means of professional training, or just by recording yourself on a regular basis and paying attention to the playback. There are also public-speaking organizations, like Toastmasters, where you can learn to make a much better impression whenever you open your mouth to speak.
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March 27th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

How to Break Bad Work HabitsEven though there’s been a bit of a rebound in the job market recently, we all know that things still aren’t good, and probably won’t be good for a while. However, if you’ve been let go from several jobs in the last few years and can never seem to latch on to any permanent positions when you go through temp companies, it might be time to take a good look at yourself. We all have a bad habit or two that we take with us to the workplace, whether it’s arriving late, taking too many breaks, gossiping, complaining, or spending all day on Facebook and Twitter. If you believe there are things you might be doing that are hurting your chances at getting and keeping a job, it might be time to break the cycle. But how?

Identify the bad habits. The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself about your negative habits. It might even be worth it to ask a former trusted coworker if there were any things you did at work that bothered them. Hearing these things might not feel good, but it’s important to know so that you can get better.

Come up with positive strategies. If your problem is that you’re always late, set a goal to leave 10 minutes earlier and do whatever you need to achieve this - alarms, going to bed earlier, showering the night before. If you put off answering emails, schedule time each morning to work on them. Your strategy should fit the nature of the problem.
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March 20th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, Job Search

Don't Fear MistakesOne of the saddest aspects of our dog-eat-dog culture is that so many people are brought up to be fearful of their own ignorance, errors, and outright mistakes. That’s a shame, because - just as with learning to ride a bicycle - some things are very difficult to master without a period of trial-and-error. This includes all things musical, artistic, and athletic. It also includes most creative thinking, inventing, and science.

The whole notion that making a mistake is a mistake, is a mistake.

In fact, just as giving away a dollar to get back two (we call this “investing”) is a basic business activity, learning more from a mistake than the mistake itself costs you is a basic pattern of human growth.

When you unpack this notion, you realize first that you aren’t making a mistake if you know in advance that a particular choice or action isn’t going to work out well. That’s just being stupid, or self-destructive.

An honest mistake involves a sincere advance belief that it’s going to work out great. When it doesn’t, you may feel foolish. You may have singed your hair a little. You may have lost some coin or some advantage that it took you a long time to amass. But if you have the right attitude, and take the time to study your mistake, you may learn enough from it to make your mistake a worthwhile expenditure of time, money, opportunity, and effort.
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March 16th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

How to Say No to Your BossWorkplace politics are always tricky. Who can you trust to give you helpful advice without making it seem like you don’t know what you’re doing? Is it okay to vent to one coworker about another one? What about going around or over the head of someone that you don’t work particularly well with? But one of the most challenging experiences has to be figuring out how to tactfully tell your supervisor no when they request something of you.

Is their request even possible? The last thing you want is to tell your boss that something can be done when you know it can’t. It can be hard, but you are far better off being honest with them; many bosses will even respect you more for your knowledge about something if you are confident in your answer - even if that answer isn’t what they want to hear.

Do you have the bandwidth? Even if you’re juggling 20 tasks and the boss asks you to take on another one that you know you won’t be able to do, it can be hard to find the strength to say no. Here’s a great tactic, though: “Sure, I can do that, but I’ll have to put X project on the backburner till next week.” This will show your boss that you are conscientious about your duties and willing to prioritize based on his or her needs.
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March 14th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

Build RapportSome of us are charming and charismatic. Others of us have a way of creating distrust or antagonism within moments of meeting someone new. But most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes. So there’s a good chance you can learn to improve your ability to develop a feeling of harmony and friendship - a feeling of rapport - with others.

Rapport is helpful because those with whom we feel it tend to be more open to us, more interested in spending time with us, more willing to help us, and - yes - even more likely to buy what we’re selling.

Unfortunately, you cannot unilaterally generate rapport with another person. All you can do is lay the groundwork for rapport to develop on its own. If you do this right then, in many but not all cases, it will.

There are several simple steps you must take to lay the groundwork for rapport to develop. These include:

Look for Interests in Common. When you meet a new person and find they grew up in the same neighborhood as you, or went to the same school you did, it’s natural to transfer some of your good feelings about that neighborhood or school to the new person. In other words, you begin to build rapport.

This process works so well that it’s helpful to jumpstart a feeling of rapport with another person by looking for commonalities. But don’t turn this quest into an inquisition. Instead, simply ask a few open-ended questions and listen carefully for clues that he or she may have some experience, interest, relationship, or preference in common with you. It doesn’t have to be big; it just has to feel big to both of you.
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