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Tools To Help You Find a Career

Career success isn’t rocket science–it’s a simple 3-step process. (1) Learn what you want to achieve. (2) Define what success looks like (how will you understand you achieved it?) and (3) Take action. The more you do, the faster you’ll get there.

Circumstances do not make or break success. It’s determined by believing you can achieve your goals; by adopting specific, more useful patterns of thinking; and by preparing yourself mentally and physically to develop the habits of success. Success may be an “inside position” but it still requires a lot of work! Here are ten tools to benefit you more easily and help you make your mark.

TOOL #1: A contact relationship management (CRM) system

Everyone is a position seeker. Some are active job seekers; others are passive ones. Passive position seekers become active position seekers every 3 to 5 years. If you are a student now, the US Department of Labor estimates you will have 10-14 jobs by age 38!

Looking for work can be grueling. Don’t spend valuable job search time trying to invent an organizational system. Get yourself a good contact relationship management (CRM) tool applied JibberJobber instead. It’s free and lets you track all the critical information you collect during a position hunt and when networking. Track companies you apply to or think you’d like to work for someday. Track each job you go after and log the status (date of first interview, thank you letter sent, etc.).

TOOL #2: A professional online presence (your web site, MySpace, and LinkedIn pages)

Companies are now using the internet to find and qualify new hires. At the very least, you should have your own name reserved as a web site domain name where you can post an online version of your resume and other pertinent job information.

Many domain registrars have low sign up and hosting fees and offer tools for office a web site that require no technical experience. For example, my web site was built in a single weekend using only the service provider’s web page templates. It costs just $0.35 per day to make up-to-date information about my job and my resume instantly available to anyone. No more mailing or photocopying expenses!

Having an online presence makes you stand out from your competition. Start by reserving your domain name. If you have a common name, like John Smith and the domain is not available, try a variation such as MrJohnSmith.com or MsJaneDoe.com. If that doesn’t work, try adding your initials, job or city (e.g., JSmithArchitect.com or JaneDoeMiami.com).

Create a free LinkedIn page designed to market yourself professionally, not socially (and don’t forget to screen your “social” pages for career-killing content).

Check your “Google factor” periodically. Search for your own name and see what comes up! As you grow in your job, so too will your online presence. However, always remember “What goes on the net, stays on the net!” so keep that in mind when posting in favorite blogs and forums.

Video resumes are becoming increasingly popular however can work against you if you aren’t careful in what you do and say in them. If you decide to do one, get professional benefit with it (services are available for <$200). Some, who have created video resumes on their own, crashed and burned and few examples posted on YouTube are amazing models to follow.

TOOL #3: A good headshot

You need a professional headshot (not a “glamour” shot) when you are promoted to the higher ranks. Investing in one now will have you moving up even faster. Have a good black and white and a color digital photograph created in both high-resolution (300 dpi) and low-resolution (72 dpi) files available at all times. Update your headshot every 2-3 years. Initially, you’ll use it on your resume and business card (the ones you create for yourself). Eventually, you’ll use it in other places where you are building your success brand. For instance, to show next to articles you write for your business newsletter. Always control your image where you can.

TOOL #4: An hourglass (the ultimate uncomplicated personal productivity tool)

Time easily slips away. An hourglass quietly reminds you of this. Displaying a classy hourglass (or collection) is guaranteed to get you noticed and remembered for being conscientious about personal productivity! Self-imposed time limits benefit you focus better and produce more. And to get the most out of the workday, you must stop wasting time. This simple tool has an amazingly powerful impact on your productivity when used to benefit you be more aware of passing time.

Hourglasses come in sizes from 3 minutes (egg timer) to 90 minutes. In SmartStart we use a 3-minute timer to limit time spent on phone calls and answering routine email. And we use a longer one for tasks requiring more time and concentration.

TOOL #5: A chess set (secret weapon of the world’s best group builders)

Forget about candy dishes and donuts for in-office networking and team office. Display a fantastic-looking chess set instead! Put it in an open spot near your work area. Use a picture frame to display a sign that says “Get in the game!” and lists a few simple rules for players passing by. The only principals you need to post are:

1. Anyone can play and

2. After making a move, please turn over the black/white card so the next passerby knows which color chess piece to move. (Then have a card next to the chess board that says “White goes next” on one side and “Black goes next” on the other.)

You’ll be amazed how many people participate in this open match. You’ll give yourself and your department or group a fantastic name throughout the entire company. Plus, everyone who plays will be sharpening strategic thinking and crisis solving skills! This promotes team harmony and reinforces that everyone is on the SAME group while advancing your success!

TOOL #6: A networking kit

Networking is not something you do when looking for work or favors. It’s something you do every day. And your network is not all the folks whose employer cards you have or whom you’ve entered in your CRM tool–your network is the individuals who would take and/or return your phone call! It is going to take some effort and advance preparation to grow your network. That’s what your “networking kit” is for. Don’t take a chance on leaving a negative first impression because your breath is stale or offensive. Pop a subtle breath mint before making social rounds.

Before attending networking events set 3 goals. Write them down and review them before launching yourself onto the scene. The first goal could be how many strangers you plan to meet; the second how many things to know about each new connection; and the third might be how many connections/reconnections to follow up on before leaving.

You need a fantastic business card, even if you have to get it made yourself. Nearly all employer cards (90%) are thrown away. Yours will be kept if you make it, the conversation, and the card exchange more something to remember. Use both hands to present your card to someone you’ve just met (it makes the gesture feel different and you more memorable). Always speak in good taste when exchanging cards (pass along a compliment and avoid making boorish comments or using negative language). Never write on a employer card you receive in the worker’s presence (it’s rude); leave the space or immediate area before putting your memory-jogging information on the back.

Carrying around your business cards without a protective case is like throwing your laptop into the car bare. You need a case to keep your business cards safe, neat, clean and handy. Talking with strangers can be nerve-wracking; but, when you have an unusual employer card case it can be a handy dialogue starter. I carry two; one for my own cards and one reserved for company cards I collect.

Discipline yourself to follow up. Exchanging business cards is not networking; developing relationships with those you meet is. Use your image-enhancing pen (which does not need to be expensive) to make notes to benefit you follow up in a meaningful way, then send personal handwritten cards to those you want to stay connected to over time.

TOOL #7: “Signature” stationery

Fine stationery enhances your businesslike image and is a intelligent investment. It takes little effort to develop your “signature” style. Before selecting affordable items at local retailers, get familiar with options offered by a specialist in high-end stationery.

If you study the “Manager” offerings at Stationery Studio you’ll see many designs that support your desired businesslike image without sacrificing personal style. Use their virtual tool to experiment with unique lettering styles, ink colors, design motifs and envelopes with tissue linings. When you’ve found something you like, print it off and go shopping. Look for similar items to purchase at lower cost. Once you’ve chosen your “signature” stationery, use it consistently to keep in touch with those in your network. It becomes your trademark.

TOOL #8: A success library and toy box

Successful individuals read. A lot. Carry your books around in audio files on your iPod or set aside a different bookcase at home but do create your own library of personal development materials. (A minimum of 10% of your workweek should be spent in “learning” mode.)

A well-stocked personal success library includes: biographies and autobiographies of people you apprehend, collections of inspirational quotations that appeal to you, foundational texts that shape your thinking, reference texts that build your skills in specific areas (language and communication, technology, other key cities of businesslike interest), and other books of personal interest (both classics and current best-sellers).

In your “toy box”, you can have any number of cool items such as Brain Age (an electronic game), puzzles (crosswords, sudoku, and brainteasers), ThinkerToys, brainstorming and mindmapping aids and other tools for sharpening your mental reflexes. These make for fantastic entertainment when you just don’t feel like reading on your commuter train or while waiting around in airports, traveling on company, or being stuck in dreary hotel rooms.

TOOL #9: A membership in toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org/)

Toastmasters is not exaggerating when they say “your success in company is based on how effective you are”. The higher you go, the more your communication skills are on display. By participating in Toastmasters programs individuals from all backgrounds develop and enhance their vocal power.

Start preparing now in the arts of speaking, listening and thinking! These vital skills promote self-actualization, develop confidence and self-esteem, enhance your relationships with others, and position you for making significant contributions to your business and the world. A membership in Toastmasters is a personal growth know-how you won’t regret.

TOOL #10: A personal stylist

Your image is part of personal branding. The world is full of individuals with great degrees who are completely lacking a sense of style. You only get one opportunity to make a good first impression and doing so is a necessity for winning in the competitive company world.

Investing in the services of a personal stylist costs less than you might think, pays big dividends, and is of fantastic help when you:

Are about to make your “debut” in the corporate world . want to change careers and work in a special industry or sector . want to move from a technical role to an operational one . have excellent performance reviews however just aren’t getting ahead . want to strategically position yourself for a higher rank . are faced with a life-changing transition (pregnancy, divorce, etc.) . will be making money in a country or with a culture you weren’t born into

Businesslike stylists are objective about what really suits your coloring, body shape, and the business image you must project. You do not need to spend a fortune to look fantastic; it is possible to spend a fortune on garments that only hold you back from moving ahead.

Working with an expert to develop your style is empowering. Taking time out to develop or refresh your style and update your professional look can reenergize a flagging sense of self and kick start a stalled career. When you understand you look your absolute best you carry yourself differently, with more confidence. People feel that energy and perceive you as even more capable. The medium is the message; never second-guess your style!

While these are all excellent and highly recommended tools, the one tool that tops them all is a personal mentor.

THE TOOL THAT TOPS THEM ALL: A personal mentor

Sometimes, what you can’t see keeps you from achieving your goals. Having a mentor gives you access to information otherwise not available to you. A coach may tell you what to do however a mentor will also tell you why. That makes a fantastic mentor priceless!

Even the best university education can go you unprepared for handling the substantial emotion and cultural politics that exists in all organizations. Everyone requirements a “safe harbor” when self-doubt and fear are rocking the boat and a steady, experienced hand to guide them at the wheel when negotiating foreign waters.

A mentor shares personal experiences and helps you create new learning chances. S/he can also connect you to other resources that benefit advance your goals or serve your needs if they are beyond the mentor’s expertise.

Many business principals you’ll be judged by are unspoken or require translation to be fully understood and usefully applied. Often only a mentor will tell you the truth or rise to your defense in a sticky situation. If you’re lucky, you’ll have more than one in your lifetime. Cherish them all and honor them well for shortcutting learning and helping you succeed.

All of these tools are readily available and anyone can use them. The question is, how many will you put to work for you?

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Job Interview Questions You Should Prepare For

Preparing for interview questions in a job interview isn’t easy, but a few tips and hints might help. Applicants have read the company’s about us page in the application process, so they are aware of the company’s philosophy. Write down a few questions pertaining to that philosophy and then answer them. Another tip for answering questions in a job interview would be to have a friend ask you some questions about the job. Then switch places and be the interviewer. Ask your friend the questions you have already prepared. It will give you a chance to see how it feels on the other side of the desk. That confidence will take you through the interview very well.

A hint about interviews is that many of the questions can be found in the philosophy mentioned above and also in the application itself. Try to recall other interviews with other questions, because most all human resources people use the same questions. The questions will vary with industry, of course, but other questions remain the same.

Questions an interviewer might ask are as follows:

1. How do you handle upset customers?

2. How would you deal with employees who tell the supervisor one thing, but tell you another?

3. If you accept a management position with our company, tell me how you would conduct yourself in the event of a robbery?

4. Tell me about the last time you raised sales in a quarter and in how many subsequent quarters?

5. Describe your best presentation to a client.

6. Why are you the person we are looking for?

7. Tell me about the worst day you ever had. What did you do to overcome it? How did you make it better for those you worked with? How did it affect your performance in the following weeks?

8. What does a client look for when you make a presentation? How do you supply it? Why do you supply it?

9. If you worked at home, how would your performance match working in the office? Would you accomplish as much? Does supervisory attention bother you?

10. Why is greeting a customer coming in the door so important?

11. What do you do when you see someone stealing?

12. What is the single most important thing people look for when they come in the door?

13. Where do you see yourself in five years?

14. What are your ultimate goals for your life?

15. Would you like to have my job?

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Character Based Interview Questions

Why are you leaving your present job?

I am looking for more challenges and more responsibility in a new position. I don’t feel as though my unique skill set is being fully utilized. I’m looking for a position where I can truly shine and put my education and experience to work. Unfortunately, my current job just doesn’t offer a whole lot of room for personal growth and career development. I don’t feel as though I’m being challenged enough. I feel as if I could be more of an asset to a company where I can utilize my education and skills. I would love the opportunity to work for a company where I’m challenged on a daily basis to put my best work forward. I am sad to leave my current boss and coworkers, but I’m looking forward to this next step in my life.

How do you feel about leaving all of your benefits?

I’m looking forward to an opportunity to prove myself in a new office environment. Unfortunately, that means giving up my current benefits package. I have no doubt that I will excel during a probationary period in my new position. I’m excited about making the leap into a new position. I am ready to accept the new career challenges and work hard to achieve my goals. In addition, I don’t think that any employee should stay in a position for a benefits package alone. That is a recipe for an unhappy, unproductive worker, and I don’t think it benefits the company either.

Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment.

My ideal working environment is pretty flexible. I work incredibly well by myself and with others. It is important to me that I get the chance to put my best foot forward each day. I enjoy working independently, and I do very well in a quiet, distraction-free workspace. In addition, I also enjoy collaborating with others. I’m a valuable team player, and I understand the importance of working well with others. My flexibility makes me a great choice for a dynamic office environment.

How would you evaluate your present firm?

I love my present firm. I hate to leave them, but the current position just isn’t right for me. I will miss my coworkers and teammates. The only thing I haven’t enjoyed about my present firm is the lack of challenges in my daily work. I feel as though I could be putting my knowledge to much better use. Although I will miss all of my former team members and coworkers, I am looking forward to a more challenging and exciting position. I am ready to take the next step in my career. My present firm was perfect when I first began, but now I’m ready to move into a more difficult and demanding position.

Why haven’t you found a new position before now?

I have only just started looking for new positions. Although I’ve been thinking about a career change for a little while, I only just made the decision to pursue new positions. This is actually the first position I came upon. I do have a couple of appointments lined up, but your company is my top choice. I would love the opportunity to put my education and skills to good use here. In fact, I am really interested in hearing more about the intricate daily details of the job.

Had you thought of leaving your present position before? If so, what do you think held you there?

I have thought about leaving my present position before now. It was a fleeting thought a little over a year ago. I just felt as though I wasn’t fully utilizing my education and skills. I feel as though I’ve been wasting my talents at my current position. At first, it was just a though. I didn’t seriously begin looking for a new position until just recently. Ultimately, it is important for me to put my education and talents to work for my company. I’m looking forward to working in a challenging position where I can put all of my skills to work.

What do you think of your current boss?

My current boss is fantastic. I’m sad to be leaving, but the position just isn’t right for me. I enjoyed completing my assignments on time, and my boss was great about recognizing achievement. I was always happy to come in early or stay late when it was necessary. In addition, my boss had a fantastic open-door policy. It was so easy to speak with him about any issues that needed to be addressed. In fact, when I told him I was leaving, he was incredibly supportive. He would be happy to give you an excellent reference for me if you would like to call him.

Would you describe a situation in which your work was criticized?

My work was criticized on a fairly regular basis. It isn’t uncommon for somebody in my position to have regular reviews. I actually really enjoy the review process. I like to know how I’m doing, and how I can improve. Recently, my boss gave me a great review on one of my reports. He did point out a few minor issues that I could improve on. My very next report was perfect. I take criticism very well, and I think it is important for developing a great working relationship.

What other types of jobs or companies are you considering?

I am considering similar positions at a few different companies. It is no secret that your company is an industry-leader. I would love the chance to work for you. I do have a few other interviews lined up, but I’m just not as excited about them. Ultimately, this is my top choice, and I would love the opportunity to put my knowledge, education and skills to great use.

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Typical Interview Questions and Answers

Why did you leave your last job?

Although I thoroughly enjoyed working my last job, I decided to leave for a few different reasons. Working a graveyard position does have benefits, but being away from my wife and son at night made this a difficult position to work in. I also really enjoy talking to people, and providing my customers with the best customer service possible. Unfortunately, while working a graveyard position, I interacted with few customers throughout the night. My primary focus was prepping for the following day, and these tasks did become monotonous.

What experience do you have in this field?

Since this is my first job, I didn’t have much experience in the field. I had to learn how to prepare foods, properly clean and sanitize dishes, and use the cash register. I also had to learn how to do cash-ins and cash-outs, as well as cash drops. This was all new to me. On the other hand, I’ve been in Internet Marketing since 2008, so customer service came as second nature. The customer is always right, and I always know that I need to put the customer first, in any business situation.

Do you consider yourself successful?

I definitely do consider myself to be successful. Success is defined by your daily ability to focus on tasks that will make you successful. Success is also defined by the happiness that you receive by performing these tasks on a daily basis. I’m successful because I enjoy what I’m doing, and I’m persistent at reaching my goals every single day. On a more basic level, I see success as having a roof over my head, and being able to feed my family every single day. For those reasons alone, I’m both successful and blessed. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

What do co-workers say about you?

My co-workers say that I’m nice, enjoyable to be around, and hardworking. When it comes to me being nice, I like to always put others before myself. I always like to do my best to help others, and I always like to be sure that I’m respecting everyone who I come into contact with. I believe I’m enjoyable to be around because I respect others, but I also like to have a good time. I like to joke around, but be serious when it comes to completing tasks. Finally, coworkers say that I’m hardworking because they see me rushing to meet deadlines. If I have 5 minutes left in my shift, I don’t wait for my shift to end and then hand my job over to the next employee. I rush, sweating if I have to, to complete the necessary tasks to get the job done.

What do you know about this organization?

I know that this organization was founded over 10 years ago, and started off on a small scale. I also know that they’re a franchise, and have grown into a huge organization over he years. I know that this organization strives on customer satisfaction, and a system that allows for things to be done in the shortest amount of time possible. It goes without saying that this is the most well-known organization in its’ niche, on the planet.

What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?

I’ve done many things to improve my knowledge over the past year. I’ve taken a number of business classes, and I’ve also taken a class on sales persuasion, which came to be very useful in work, and in my Internet Marketing business. I’ve also been reading many success books, and the one that really comes to my mind is, “4-Hour Work Week.” This book has taught me how to better manage my time, and focus only on tasks that will bring success my way. Before “4-Hour Work Week,” I would waste a lot of time on tasks that didn’t do me any good. Today, I only focus on tasks that will bring me in income.

Are you applying for other jobs?

I’m for many jobs. Right now, I’m applying to be a writer across many freelance writing websites on the Internet. I’m also applying for jobs at a few different call centers. In the future, I may consider personal training and medical assisting. For now though, my main focus is getting a job with your organization, which is my top priority. Still, I do have to apply for other jobs for the sake of my family, and keeping food on the table, and a roof over our heads.

Why do you want to work for this organization?

There are a few reasons I would like to work for this organization. For starters, I will be working during the day. Graveyard is killing me, and it would be nice to work normal hours. The great thing is, I can choose to work 3, 13-hour shifts, 4, 10-hour shifts, or 5, 8-hour shifts. Next to getting 40-hours a week, the base-pay is roughly $14.00 an hour, and I’ve heard that benefits are included. Most importantly though, I will finally be talking to customers.

Do you know anyone who works for us?

I actually don’t personally know anyone who works for you. I’ve had a few people come in and talk about their experiences with you. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone directly who has experience working in this position. The feedback I’ve received has been positive, and it’s lead me to applying for this job opportunity.

What kind of salary do you need?

I don’t need a salary, as long as my hours are consistent. What I would like is to start off with the base pay of $14.00 an hour. From there, I would like to work my way up to team-leader, and eventually get to $20.00 an hour. If salary is an option, I would like to be making $5,000 a month. $5,000 has always been a goal of mine, and that would make my family and I more than comfortable. We’d also finally be able to begin saving up for a house.

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Standard Opening Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself
“Thank you for this opportunity for me to provide a deeper reflection of my training and experience. I have enjoyed being the youngest of four children. This afforded me the opportunity to observe how my older siblings handled the successes and failures of life. This experience also helped to formulate both my professional and personal goals and aspirations. I observed the perseverance of my parents in providing for our family. This helped me formulate my values and work ethic which was a catalyst for me to be very dedicated in accomplishing tasks. I also like giving back to a community that has supported me in accomplishing my goals. I have a great sense of humor, and open to constructive criticism. I enjoy watching and participating in team sports, but enjoy playing golf. I enjoy listening to a variety of music genres.”

What do you know about our company?
“According to S&P, you are the fifth most successful company in this market in the world. I see you have designated ten percent of your profit annually to childcare facilities in the community. This is a family friendly company. I read that the CEO of the company is a graduate of one of the finest schools in the country, which I have found to be one of the forerunners in the technological industry. The annual report also reveals that the Board of Directors has taken great care in employing people whose capabilities match with the company’s mission. I have also reviewed your P&L statements that reveal a stability and profitability in this market.”

Why do you want to work for us?
“I am very excited about this opportunity to work for you because of your reputation in the market place about giving back to the community. It is a match with my personal goals for a successful business model. I have researched your training model, and it will provide an avenue for me to build upon the skills I bring to this company as well as assist your organization in moving forward.”

What would you do for us? What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
“I have a certain set of skills that are compatible with your goals and objectives which will assist me in contributing to your profitability. I believe the combination of my technical training and the life experiences both personal and professional are the right match for the both of us. I bring a strong worth ethic, team-work orientation, and a ardent fervor for demonstrating my craft.”

What about the job offered do you find the most attractive? Least attractive?
“I like the workplace environment, facility, and the goals and mission of the company. The company’s philosophy of your treatment of the people working for you, and the research into how you value the input from your employees is a great incentive to want to come and work here. As far as the least attractive I would say it is the commute by automobile is longer than I anticipated. But I like the idea that the public transit system is available and I would save both time and it is economical as well.”

Why should we hire you?
“I know that I have received the highest quality of training in this field, but I do know that learning is a continuous cycle. So I will be an asset to your company because I am capable of blending these two components. Your company has proven to be a prototype in this market for innovative concepts, and I feel my qualifications can lend to your mission.”

What do you look for in a job?
“I am excited about the opportunity to work in a place where I feel that my job skills will be both challenged, enhanced, rewarded, and there is room for growth and movement. I look for a work environment where positive morale between employer and employee is paramount to the success of the business. One thing that is necessary for both a successful, healthy personal and professional life is controlling stress. There are always complications in any situation, but the atmosphere in which you have to handle them must be positive. The management of any organization or corporation must be cognizant of their work environment for their employees to flourish and contribute to the mission of the company.”

How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
“Nothing in this life is concrete, and we cannot predict what will happen. We only prepare according to our set of life goals. I understand that there is a required orientation period for this company, and I understand that you provide excellent guidance in order to hone in on my craft. Depending on the product or service developed, and the training I bring to the table for this market, you can depend on my dedication to completing tasks in a timely fashion or according to the set timeframe.”

How long would you stay with us?
“As anyone knows, life can be unpredictable, but I have a timeline for my occupational goals. This company has a proven track record of maintaining a consistent and stable workforce. I see working with this company as a part of my long range plan, and I look forward to the opportunity of contributing to this company and developing a committed relationship.”

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Performance Based Interview Answers

How have you helped increase sales? Profits?

My ability as a sales leader has helped encourage my coworkers and managers to increase profitability. I look for the highest potential when making a sale, and I can recognize when a deal is going to go through. Over the past few years of my employment, I have generated more revenue than most of my teammates by working longer hours, seeking out optimal clients and dedicating myself to the organization’s growth. I attribute this to my strong leadership role. Recognizing where a team’s strengths lie has helped propel not only myself but also my organization, which has led to increased sales and profitability.

Have you helped reduce costs? How?
Knowing when to cut back is an important quality, and it’s one in which I happen to pride myself. Sometimes, you just have to scale down services in order to achieve results. This does not mean cutting quality, but rather cutting excess baggage that weighs down a company’s ability to produce. I work within the confines of my organization’s needs, meaning that I work longer hours while still within my set salary, which reduces overhead and operating costs. Encouraging my teammates to do the same means that eventually, when the company is stronger and the economy has bounced back, we will reap those benefits.

How much money did you account for?
In terms of what I personally was held accountable for, I was responsible for maintaining several of our larger, more established clients. Over the period of the last few years, I have attracted big clients to the organization, some of them by simply outlining our organization’s success and some by personal connection. I have a great ability to connect with people, which helps me to increase our sales. This ability allows me to draw in successful a new client base while maintaining our existing clients on all levels. It’s an overall satisfactory situation for me, the clients and my organization.

How many people did you supervise on your last job?
I have always had a knack for getting the best out of people. Recognizing this, my superiors have placed a fairly large number of people in my direct line of supervision. I supervised a team that proved to be very successful, as our numbers indicate. Noting that people have different strengths and weaknesses, I am able to assign tasks to the right people to enhance and increase our productivity. Allowing people to work within their interests and skills allows us to be more productive as a unit, which in turn increases the organization’s success. Supervising well has become one of my most valued attributes.

Do you like working with figures more than words?
I would say that I prefer both for various reasons. On the one hand, running numbers and managing accounts comes naturally to me. I enjoy the solidity of numbers, the way that math doesn’t change no matter what else does. On the other hand, I also appreciate words for their ability to connect and motivate people. Without the right words, I could not do what I do so successfully. People get lost when you start giving them figure after figure; instead, I can paint a picture that speaks to the nature of the accounting aspect without losing them in dozens of figures. I would say that I equally respect both figures and words.

In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least?
In my last position, I had a manager who liked to micromanage, and it seriously affected my ability to get anything done. I feel that people in positions like mine do not need as much hands-on structure as other employees. In this case, my manager took such a participative role in my work that it led to my resigning due to lack of support. I never felt trusted. Conversely, working here has allowed me to hone my skills and get guidance from my managers without feeling that they distrust me. I can work without someone constantly hovering over my every move, which allows me to work more efficiently.

In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments?
In my current position, I have: increased profits by significant margin, built a solid team of people, worked well with my managers to accomplish more than we thought possible, learned several new skills that will help me in the future, and I have spoken at several conferences on business practices. Each of these things has contributed to my overall success and stability in my position, and they will propel me forward in the future. I could not have done any of these without the support of management and my team, for which I am very grateful.

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Why Do We Work Hard For Others?

I have been thinking a lot about why a lot of us work so hard for our employers.  I know that the unemployment numbers are still high in some areas so that those of us who are employed are considered fortunate, but why do so many of us spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our families?

If you have a normal 40 hour work week and commute to the office then you would be away from home for 50 hours or more a week.  When you get home you are often tired and grumpy and maybe watch a few shows and then go to sleep.  When I think about it, most people spend more than half of their waking hours doing work related things.  This is perfectly fine when you enjoy your work, but so many people hate their jobs and they still continue on the same path.  Why?   Here are some of my conclusions.

1. Routine–  Many of us know our jobs well so that it is easy to finish our daily routine.  There are occasional challenges, but at every job there is just a good amount of work that needs to be repeated over and over again.  This makes the job easy after you get used to it.  Most of us have clear projects and directions at work, and that makes it easy.

2. Environment–   Another reason why working for an employer is easy is that so much infrastructure is already set up for you.  You have a workspace, a paycheck, and a defined set of benefits.  Usually there is very little that is unknown.  If your employer loses money chances are you will still get paid and life goes on.  For the most part you don’t have to worry about things like corporate taxes, lawyers, or paying other people.  You just concentrate on your portion of the work and it is fine.

3. Structure – It’s easy to fit in when you have a “regular” job.  The most common question ask when people meet you is usually, “what do you do?”  If you’re over 22 and under 65 most people expect you to have a job.  This is not exactly a reason why people work so hard for an employer, but it is a reason why so many people choose the set path of working for a corporation or some other established entity.  It is considered normal to work 40 hours a week plus or minus 10 to 20 hours of commute time and overtime.  Being normal is easier.

I have to admit that I know that keeping my job is much easier than quitting and starting something on my own.  I know that many small business owners put in a lot more than 40 hours a week, and those that hire people have to worry about a lot more than just themselves.  I am glad to see that many people have become self employed in this recession because they got kicked out of their easy jobs.  Hopefully a good number of them are starting businesses that will hire people in the future.

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Why A Career Development Plan Matters

Those wishing to enter new job markets or change careers can greatly benefit from following a career development process. Whether undertaken on individually or with career advisers, the following are some of the most essential steps that demonstrate the importance of this process.

Self Assessment

It is essential that professionals and job seekers examine individual interests, skills, motivations and goals in order to chart a meaningful career path. This is why the first step in the career development process requires individual intellectual, emotional, motivational, personality and physical characteristics. It is through this awareness that the proper job and career path can be determined.

Job Markets

While assessing personal skills and interests, career and job seekers need to begin surveying the current job market to identify the most relevant current and future opportunities. This particular step allows individuals to match aptitudes and interests with potential positions that economies are likely to need in the future. Career seekers also need to be aware that these jobs will change and emerge according to technological and economic changes. Therefore, it is necessary to update job skills regularly to stay ahead of the pack and to be recognized as a serious candidate for any position.

Acquiring Job Skills

After identifying personal interests, aptitude and motivations, job seekers can select the careers with the most promising futures. In this way, individuals may move on to the next steps in career planning. For example, acquiring the most requisite skills for each chosen path. When individuals already possess needed skills, they may skip over to searching for jobs within their desired fields of choice.

Preparing for New Jobs

Career planning and development also entails acquiring specialized work-related skills. Individuals interested in careers need to focus on the types of skills that are needed in the new job markets. For example, they should learn about how to develop their existing skill sets into ones that are demanded by their career choices.

Certain technological advancements and economic conditions require continual adjustments in order to stay relevant. It is also important to consider acquiring many new abilities that will be required in the future. Acquiring these skills is an ongoing process, rather than a single time activity.

Now more than ever, career development plans are essential for professionals and any job seeker. Individuals who stay abreast of new job market requirements demonstrate to interviewers their dedication. Thus, they can stay ahead of the competition and in the forefront for new positions.

It goes without saying that continuing to keep up with the ever evolving job market and learning new skills is the best way to meet the demands of the future. Career planning helps to identify and evaluate career objectives so that candidates can become marketable in the most effective ways.

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The Importance of Networking

Why network, you may ask? Networking is a time consuming, terrifying prospect. So why do it, instead of investing more time elsewhere?

The truth is that networking is extremely important, no matter where anyone is in their career path. Networking allows individuals to build relationships and partnerships with people who share similar interests and goals. As a result, a relationship fostered through networking can easily develop beyond a basic networking relationship into a mentoring relationship, a friendship outside of the office, or perhaps a business partnership down the line.

For the experienced, networking is a crucial way businesses form partnerships, expand, and grow as a whole. For individuals and job hunters, who you know via networking can make all the difference considering that long before they even make it to a company’s website, the vast majority of open jobs are filled through recommendations from people currently working at that company. These are just two examples of the benefits of networking.

Where can you begin networking? That depends on your personal interests and goals; while many people today network using social media, nothing beats meeting with people face-to-face. To do this, focus on looking for things happening on a local level; for example, a quick Google search can reveal what sorts of professional networking groups exist in your area. Similarly, career fairs are always a great opportunity to meet with representatives from specific companies. Many organizations also advertise happy hours targeted to specific professions or age groups through newsletters or social media. Any of these events are great places to make connections.

Still worried about networking? Have no fear! Here are a few simple ways to make networking easier and help get you started:

  • Start small. Before making cold calls, start by talking to people you already know; reconnect with your current network – parents, old professors or coworkers – and consider reaching out to fellow alumni.
  • Ask for Introductions. Networking is all about building new relationships; once you reconnect, ask your current contacts if they know anyone you should meet, and if they could do the introductions.
  • Tap into your passions. Volunteer with a nonprofit organization that you’re interested in. You’ll definitely meet people with similar interests if you work with a cause you care about.

Don’t forget: networking is an ongoing experience. Once you’ve built a networking base, don’t stop; keep reaching out to people in your field and community and making connections!

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Managing Performance and Cultivating Success

Acting as a people manager, to work with employees, and succeed along with them, is one of the hardest jobs in business. Managing performance requires you to be on the same page as your employees, at all times. This means that you have similar goals, agree on action items, timing, as well as an open relationship.

Managing performance means always having open communication with the people you are responsible for. As a people manager, you want to establish goals, which your employees, are going to strive for. These goals need to be beneficial for what you need to accomplish, as well as to help them, push forward in their career. You could give someone a goal of copying ten thousand sheets of paper, but it does them no good, or gives them no motivation, to see any benefit in it for them. Deciding on beneficial goals for both sides, and action plans to reach those goals, is a great way to begin to cultivate, positive performance.

Once you have action plans, and goals in place, you want to decide on the timing, or estimated completion. Again, these needs to be built around open communication, so both sides can have a say, in terms of what of a reasonable time for completion. Discuss responsibilities outside of the goals you are trying to reach, to gauge workload, and availability.

Once you have a time frame in place, you will want to schedule checkpoint meetings, so that you can gauge progress. This is also an opportunity, to discuss challenges currently faced, so that action plans can be adjusted, to ensure performance goals are still met. These checkpoints do not have to be more than five-minute meetings, but they will keep you in-tune with what is happening, and really help build relationships. These relationships are what will make your people want to succeed, not only for their own benefit, but for you as well.

The role of a people manager means constantly working, to manage performance, and help achieve success. Open lines of communication will help your employees achieve their goals, with well-defined action plans, time frames, as well as checkpoint meetings. The business world can be rough, but a good people manager, can help any person succeed, and achieve what they want.