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Archive for the ‘Career Advice’ Category

November 2nd, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

Think Better on Your Feet - Part 2When you’re put on the spot and under pressure to answer an unanticipated tough question or respond to a pointed remark, it’s useful and important to be able to “think on your feet.”

Once you master this skill set, you’ll find it far easier not only to come up with something worthwhile to say, but to say it quite effectively. As a result, others will feel more confidence in you, and respect you as smarter and more trustworthy than someone who seems to babble and bumble under pressure.

Last time we talked about speaking from a place of confidence, and mentally preparing in advance. Here are four other, equally valuable techniques to help you think better and faster on your feet:

Relax First, Speak Second

When you’re put on the spot, your first reaction might be to take action. Since you probably can’t run away, you’ll often feel the urge to start babbling. Resist it. Whenever a spotlight hits you, adrenalin immediately tenses your muscles, which in turn tends to impair your performance. The better response is to take a few slow breaths and consciously relax before you open your mouth.

It’s easy to develop a few facial expressions and hints of body language that convey: “Fascinating question. Give me a second to think about it before I answer.” Get in the habit of using them while you prepare to dazzle the crowd.

You can even use silence to improve how others perceive you. A brief pause before you speak, or between a few of your key sentences, can convey the idea that you are in control of the situation, and can also add impact and layers of meaning to relatively simple ideas.

Observe in Depth

It’s a big mistake to shoot from the hip in unanticipated situations. You might respond to a less important part of the whole situation, or overlook the largest opportunity. Instead, get in the habit of observing the people around you in depth: not just their words, but their tone of voice, the expression in their eyes, their behavior, body language, and the words they don’t say as well as those they do.

By processing all this information you’ll come to a deeper understanding of the unanticipated situation that confronts you, and you’ll automatically have a basis to formulate a smarter response.
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October 12th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in Career Advice

istock_000012525712xsmallMore than people in most other countries, as Americans, we identify ourselves by our jobs - “I’m a doctor,” “a plumber,” “a librarian,” “a cashier at Kroger.” What we do for a living defines us - both to others and internally - and sometimes our jobs can come to take over our lives in an unhealthy way.

So how do you know if you’re working too much? Read on.

Your friends stop inviting you to things. No one should make you feel bad for missing things once in a while - friends have to understand that life gets in the way sometimes. But when you’ve done it so much and for such a long time that your friends no longer call or email, you might need to rethink your work-life balance a bit.

You grab for your smartphone the second you wake up. Technically, this could also be an internet or technology addiction, but if you’re checking work emails in the shower, it’s a problem.

You can’t focus. Multitasking is often considered a good thing, but there comes a point when everyone reaches diminishing returns. If you have so much going on that you can’t seem to focus on anything, chances are that you are working too much and need to engage in that most important workplace skill: delegating.

You toss and turn at night. If your brain is so focused on work that you’re counting emails instead of sheep when you go to bed, something is going to give. Try keeping work and home life separate and getting into a relaxing routine before bed.

You put off work. Wait, huh? How does putting off work mean you’re working too much? Because often procrastination is our subconscious way of telling ourselves that we need a little rest and relaxation.
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September 26th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice

How to Help Others ImproveOne of the best ways to make yourself more valuable on your job, and in your life, is to learn some of the basic skills involved with helping others to get what they want.

You don’t have to make a career of coaching to offer other people significant help in dealing with a crisis, making tough choices, or gearing up to improve themselves.

First Steps

The start of any helpful encounter with another person is to work together to establish both the problem to be addressed, and the details of what a solution would look like.

Is the person out of shape? What would being “in shape” look like? Does the person face a difficult decision? How can he or she know they’ve made a satisfactory choice? Is the person having difficulties at work? What’s the standard for knowing those “difficulties” are over?

In setting these criteria for monitoring improvement, remember to make them as specific as possible. That way, they’re more likely to stay fixed and achievable as the situation improves.

These standards should also be measurable in some way.

You also want to make sure, as a helpful person, that these performance standards are realistic, so there’s a fair chance of achieving - and recognizing - success.

Second Steps

With the problem defined and the goals or standards for success established, it’s important to take some time and clarify the problem situation. Try to identify the important actions the person is taking, as well as the people and the forces in play. Any or all of these may be contributing to the problem or become a pathway to a solution.

The more details that are explicitly itemized about what’s going on in the person’s life and work, the more likely you’ll find the best path to an acceptable solution.
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September 10th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz   Posted in Career Advice

The road to successWhen Columbus discovered America, when President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, when the U.S. completed construction of the Panama Canal, these events changed the map of the world.

That’s a perspective you can productively maintain when you’re thinking about your own future and how to build yourself a better life.

Missing Advice

There’s lots of advice given about goals, including setting goals, honoring goals, achieving goals, breaking goals down into bite-size tasks, sequencing goals, and celebrating goals.

Those sentiments are all well and good. But we hear nowhere near enough advice about working toward really big goals that - if and when you achieve them - will change the map of your life.

Such large goals should probably not occupy all your time - after all, you have everyday responsibilities and priorities, like eating, maintaining relationships, taking care of mundane business, and so forth. But at least one “map changing” goal ought to be on your “to do” list all the time, because a “map changing” goal deserves to absorb at least some of your time and energy every day.

Map-Changers Defined

Basically, a “map changing” goal is one that will fundamentally change your life for a very long time, if not permanently. There are several important differences between a “map changing” goal and an ordinary goal. For example:
  • An ordinary goal fits into the regular flow of your life. A map-changing goal revises that flow
  • An ordinary goal should be set so you have a reasonable chance of achieving it. Map-changing goals are so large and significant that you need not expect to reach it - ever. It’s like trying to win the lottery: Great if you do; no downside if you don’t.
  • An ordinary goal is generally aimed at down-to-earth interests and objectives.
  • Map-changing goals are aimed at fulfilling your dreams and wishes.
  • An ordinary goal is all about ambition and hard work. Map-changing goals are all about overcoming fears and allowing wonderful things to happen.
The basic idea of adding map-changing goals to your life is to think big, and to take the steps necessary to allow that big thing to happen.
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August 22nd, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler   Posted in Career Advice, Resume Writing

How Long Should Your Resume Be?Generally, the answer is: as short as it can be. Some people belong to the school of thought that anything over a page is simply too long. It’s just one resume among a pile of dozens or hundreds more, so you need to make your case fast before they move on to the next one.

But here’s the thing: you also don’t want to leave off key experience because you’re trying to artificially cram everything onto one page. The key is to highlight the relevant experience, skills, education, and attributes, and for some, this may require two pages. In the case of senior executives with a lot of time in the workforce, your resume may even be longer. However, if you’re a recent college graduate or someone with just a few years of work experience, there’s no reason to have a resume over one page.

Some people incorrectly believe that having a longer resume will make them look more qualified or accomplished, but if you don’t actually have the experience, simply making it longer won’t fool anyone. In fact, it will just take them longer to get to the information that is relevant and may end up in you being passed over for the position.

What You Can Cut

So how do you know if your resume is as short as it can be? Look it over to see what’s extraneous. Each section and each item should be a selling point that gives the potential employer evidence that you are the right candidate. Here are a few common places where you may be able to cut down - or remove things altogether.

References

It’s no longer customary to include your references on your resume, so this is a great section to cut. If your employer is interested in contacting people for recommendations, you can provide them on a separate sheet. Similarly, you don’t need to include a line that says, “References available upon request.” The potential employer will assume this is the case.
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