If you’re like me, I’m sure that at some point in your professional career you have asked yourself, “Am I going the right way? Is my career going in the right direction? HOW DID I END UP HERE?” Not to panic, it’s common to give yourself a self check-up every now and then to ensure that you haven’t gotten stagnant or complacent, and also that your current career path is the right fit for YOU.
To help you with this self check-up, Forbes published a list just today of 6 must-ask questions that will help to keep your career on track. Below I have provided my top 3 from the article:
Are you learning new things that accelerate your growth every day at work?
If you are not learning, you’re wilting. If you are wilting, you are going backward – not forward in your career. You know your career track is working for you, when you are continuously learning and growing in the process. Too many people go to work and just do what they are told; instead of putting themselves in positions to develop themselves.
You have a choice in how you manage what you learn and whom you learn it from. Don’t be linear in your thinking, employ your circular vision and adopt a more wide-angle outlook in learning at least 5 new things every day and map-out a plan that allow you to put this knowledge to the test. Journal what you learn and how it applies to your career growth. If you adopt this mindset you will have learned a minimum of 25 new things this week.
Are you challenging yourself enough?
This is an interesting question and should not be taken lightly. Perhaps you can do steps 1 -3; in fact there are many people that can. However, are you challenging yourself enough to know that you are earning the career opportunities inherent with the effort?
To manage yourself, is to challenge yourself. Set goals that are attainable, but require you to work at it. Don’t just go with the flow. Manage yourself to a standard that will produce a set of expectations and outcomes. Don’t measure yourself based on a comparison to those around you, but based on what you desire to achieve for yourself. We compete in a dog-eat-dog world. Those that have a large appetite find themselves and their careers tracking ahead of plan. Notice how those that are challenging themselves are always investing in themselves!
Does your employer appreciate your talent?
Sounds like an easy question, but it requires you to do some research. For example, are your best talents being showcased, recognized and rewarded at work? If yes, keep up the momentum. If no, (as is the case for most people), then find out – why not. Career management and tracking requires you to know how your talent is progressing. Perhaps you are running on auto-pilot and don’t even know it. Don’t assume that you are maintaining your high levels of performance. Competition is fierce and you must find ways to elevate your game at all times. You will know that you are being effective at this if your employer continually appreciates you and your talent contributions.
With things changing so fast, you must manage yourself to stand out from the crowd. Don’t self-promote; just stay focused on sustaining your talent momentum in your work. This means putting new ideas to the test, always being relevant and focus on being significant. Don’t be the victim of self-mismanagement.
The Forbes list is not all inclusive. Make sure that you ask yourself questions related to your specific role, organization, and industry as every career situation is unique.
Want to review all 6 questions? Read the full Forbes article at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2012/06/11/6-must-ask-questions-will-keep-your-career-on-track/
Connect with us! Follow us on Twitter: @aprofessional1
Contrary to popular belief, not all interview questions are fully straightforward and transparent. Sometimes interviewers may ask loaded questions designed to trick and unnerve you in order to quickly eliminate less-qualified candidates. A recent Forbes article highlights ten of these rather “tricky” questions with commentary from Joyce Lain Kennedy, author of Job Interviews for Dummies. Below are a few:
No. 1: Why have you been out of work so long, and how many others were laid off?
This question may also be followed by the more direct, “Why were you laid off?” Kennedy says it is an attempt to figure out if there’s something wrong with you that your former company or that other potential employers have already discovered. The interviewer may be trying to determine if themes of recession and budget cuts were used to dump second-string employees, including you. Rather than answering the question directly and chancing an emotional response or misinterpretation, Kennedy advises punting. Respond: “I don’t know the reason. I was an excellent employee who gave more than a day’s work for a day’s pay.”
No. 2: If employed, how do you manage time for interviews?
“The real question is whether you are lying to and short-changing your current employer while looking for other work,” says Kennedy. The interviewer may wonder: If you’re cheating on your current boss, why wouldn’t you later cheat on me? She suggests placing the emphasis on why you’re interested in this position by saying you’re taking personal time and that you only interview for positions that are a terrific match. If further interviews are suggested, Kennedy advises mentioning that the search is confidential and asking to schedule follow-ups outside of normal working hours.
No. 3: How did you prepare for this interview?
The intention of this question is to decipher how much you really care about the job or if you’re simply going through the motions or winging it. Kennedy says the best way to answer is by saying, “I very much want this job, and of course researched it starting with the company website.” Beyond explaining how you’ve done your homework, show it. Reveal your knowledge of the industry, company or department by asking informed questions and commenting on recent developments.
So as you get ready for your next interview, keep in mind that not all the questions will be exactly what they seem to be. Be prepared to not only read the lines, but to read between and beyond the lines.
For the full article, please check out: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/02/23/watch-out-ten-interview-questions-designed-to-trick-you/
Still looking for employment? Here’s an opportunity to be seen!
The National Urban League is hosting a virtual career fair in honor of Black History Month. The career fair is FREE (I repeat, FREE) for ALL job seekers! All you need to do is upload your resume in order to be seen by recruiters nationwide.
To get started, visit: http://blackhistoryvcf.careers.adicio.com/careers/resumes
Hurry, the career fair ends on February 29, 2012! And be sure to pass the word on in order to help others in their job search as well.
To learn more about the National Urban League, check out http://www.nul.org
For those of you who have been on the job hunt for sometime now, you may have become all too familiar with job boards in your search: CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed, and the like. If you haven’t had much success to this point, you may be wondering whether posting your resume to these sites is worth it. However, an article in The Career News newsletter says YES and explains why your time really isn’t being wasted. Here are a couple of excerpts to offer encouragement:
Are There Jobs Available?
More than ever with the continuing upswing in the economy, companies are searching career websites to locate job candidates to fill new job openings in their businesses.
And while there are currently millions of jobs listed on all the top career websites, many companies report they are searching the job boards for candidates without posting their upcoming jobs — due to a fear of an onslaught of unqualified applications.
That makes this the BEST time to put your resume on all major career websites reported to be searched by 1.5 million employers, recruiters and hiring managers daily.
According to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management, 88% of human resource professionals now rely on the Internet to fill open positions in their organizations.
Why Post To All The Career Websites?
The answer is: To be in the right places at the right times! Especially now.
While many companies search the largest career websites, increasingly employers and recruiters are cutting costs by searching the lesser expensive mid-sized career websites.
This means that the hiring managers and jobs are dispersed amongst a large number of career websites. And in this market, the window of opportunity for a job is a little smaller than usual, so it’s important that you’re where the jobs are when they’re available.
Does It Really Work?
It’s a fact that most hiring managers use the internet to find their candidates. Of course, when there are more jobs available in the market, your chances are better of finding a job faster.
However, even when the job market is weak it’s even more important that you give yourself a competitive advantage over others competing for the same jobs, by making sure your resume is “findable” on ALL top career websites.
So before you close the job board browser windows and shut down your laptop, remember that in order to find a job, the employers also need to be able to find you. Happy hunting!
Happy New Year!
If your resolution for 2012 is to finally land a job, here’s a piece of advice: start fresh! If you have been shopping that same resume around for the past several months to a year with no luck, scrap it! Start with a blank page, and build an all-new resume. Present your skills and experience differently. Rewrite those bullets points/paragraphs. Change the layout.
The same goes for your cover letter. If you have had the same cookie-cutter cover letter that you just tweak ever so slightly for each job application, it’s time to write it in a new voice. Get creative and innovative with how you present the reasons for wanting to work at XYZ firm, and why you would make a great addition to the company.
Finally, do some new things this year! Whether it’s taking new courses, learning a new skill, or finally finishing a certification, take time to add new things to your professional arsenal. In an economy where there is an overabundance of skilled and qualified people in the worker pool, it is important that you are consistently developing your skills and finding ways to differentiate yourself from the overwhelming sea of applicants.
With all reports stating that hiring is likely to increase further in 2012, now’s the time to position yourself in the best way possible to finally get the job you rightfully deserve. You just need new tools, a new approach, and a new attitude!
Yes! You’ve scored an interview! But what do we do now? When it comes to interviews, it’s important to remember that you never get a second bite at the apple, so you must make this first opportunity count.
In order to help you take full advantage of this face-to-face meeting with a potential employer, the folks at MarketingJobForce put together a list of the top 10 interview mistakes and how to avoid them. We’ve highlighted the top 5 below:
1. Dressing Dreadfully: According to a Careerbuilder.com survey, the single most common mistake made by candidates in job interviews is inappropriate dress. It’s almost a certainty that you as the candidate will be expected to wear a business suit or other formal dress to the interview. The one exception to this rule can be high-tech companies, where anything other than jeans and flip flops might make you stick out like a sore thumb.
2. Badmouthing The Boss: Believe it or not, the second most common mistake made by a job candidate was badmouthing their former boss. How do you think your perspective boss will feel if they hear you harping on your prior boss? They’re going to wonder whether they’ll be the topic of conversation if you should happen to move on to another company in the future. Even if you have excellent reasons to be bitter, don’t do it.
3. Lack of Excitement: If you can’t get excited for the job interview, your interviewer will probably figure that you won’t be very enthusiastic while you’re on the job. Sit or stand up straight. Smile! Make sure the interviewer knows how excited you are to be interviewing for this particular job.
4. Acting Like a Know-It-All: There’s probably nothing that annoys an interviewer more than an applicant who comes in and is aggressive to the point of arrogance. While it’s very important to engage with your interviewer and ask questions, there’s a fine line between showing interest and monopolizing the conversation to the point where the interviewer can’t get a word in edge-wise. Be sure to let the interviewer finish their sentences, and try not to ramble on when you’re speaking.
5. Lack of Preparation: On the other hand, it’s vital that you prepare for a job interview by researching the company and preparing for all the typical questions you’re likely to be asked. If the interviewer asks a question you don’t know the answer to, you’re much better off telling them so than stuttering and mumbling as you grope for an answer.
Some of these may seem like common sense, but it is essential that you keep them in mind nonetheless. Many times the smallest thing can be the deciding factor between securing a position and finding yourself still in the applicant pool.
For the full list, check out the entire article on MarketingJobForce.com:
In light of the recent economic downturn and the seemingly persistent high unemployment levels, many job seekers have become frustrated with the job application process and the idea of attending career fairs. “There are so many people”, “There’s not enough time”, “Am I as qualified as everyone else”, “Will I actually get a job” are just some of the concerns that folks have when it comes to career fairs. But one thing is clear: Career Fairs are useful. Otherwise, there would be no need to organize them, and no one would ever attend. However, the level of success you have at a career fair depends on two things: 1) expectations, and 2) preparation.
First, it is important to manage your expectations and set realistic goals when you decide to attend a career fair. You will have to come to terms with the idea that you may not immediately get a job interview as a result of attending the fair. Many job seekers walk away from career fairs disappointed and discouraged if they don’t receive an interview invitation or get a job immediately. However, career fairs are just as much about networking and learning about various companies and industries as they are about getting a job. Career fairs also help you to build your interview skills as you will no doubt talk to representatives from at least 10 or 20 firms, and you will need to sell yourself in a very limited amount of time. So it is critical that you walk into a career fair with the mindset that you will maximize your time, regardless of whether you secure an interview. Collect business cards, talk to other job-seekers as well as the potential employers (you never know where an opportunity may arise), identify new technical skills that you may need to make you more marketable, and learn as much as you can about the companies and their imminent personnel needs. Even if you don’t receive an interview invitation, you now have identified leads, contacts, and skills that can potentially bring you one step closer to finding a position.
Second, it is crucial that you prepare appropriately for a career fair. Many times job-seekers attend job fairs without first doing their homework and wonder why they don’t receive a callback. You must do your due diligence prior to the fair and complete all necessary follow-ups after the fair. In terms of due diligence, take time to research the firms that will be in attendance. Most of the job fairs today have websites that provide a list of the participating employers. Scan the list and see which firms you would like to approach, and then review information from the individual company websites to ensure you will be able to speak intelligently with the company representatives. When it comes to physical preparation, dress for success! Wear business professional/interview attire, and bring a portfolio that contains a notepad and a pen (to take good notes and write down contact information), compartments to hold business cards, and several copies of your resume (we’ll cover resume format and presentation in future posts. As for follow-ups, ensure to send out thank you notes to various company representatives and recruiters and supply any additional requested information or qualifications.
In short, your elevator speech is an opportunity to sell yourself in approximately 30 seconds. The term “elevator” reflects the notion that you should be able to deliver your speech in the time span of an elevator ride (the time it takes the occupants to reach their floor). Your speech should provide a brief overview of your knowledge, skills and accomplishments. After listening to you, one should know who you are, where you’ve been, and where you plan to go in the future.
An elevator speech comes in quite handy in several situations. For those of you on the job search, having an elevator speech ready will help you maximize face time with prospective employers at career fairs and job events. If you’ve decided to take the entrepreneurial route, your elevator speech can make all the difference in securing start-up funding from venture capitalists and/or angel investors. They can usually decide whether or not your idea is worth their investment within those 30 seconds. And if you may be embarking on a sales or marketing career, your 30-second speech about your product and/or brand can be the key to securing new business.
It is important that you put time and effort into crafting your elevator speech. Even though it is such a short span of time, it can often spell the difference between success and failure in any given business encounter. It should be well-thought through, but you want to ensure you capture the listener’s attention without bombarding him/her with TOO much.
Need help getting started on your elevator speech? Here are a few useful links:
Job Search: http://www.quintcareers.com/writing_elevator_speeches.html
Do’s & Don’ts: http://www.quintcareers.com/elevator_speech_dos-donts.html
It’s really quite simple: You want to become a better professional? Start reading like one! In the workplace and in business generally speaking, it is important to be well-read and informed. For many of you, this may come across as a no-brainer, but it bears mentioning here.
It is critical to read a variety of sources. Don’t just read the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. Those sources are good, but shouldn’t be where your readership ends. Take time to read materials from both domestic and international sources. With globalization and the increasing interdependence of economies worldwide, it is imperative that you are aware what’s happening at home as well as abroad. Furthermore, depending on where you are seeking to work, you are more likely to succeed professionally when you have the knowledge necessary to understand the needs of a client base that is spread across the world. Lastly, let’s not forget the personal development benefits that come from reading and expanding your horizons.
You may be thinking, “Well I don’t have time to purchase a newspaper or magazine, and simply sit down and read page by page.” Well have no fear. If you have a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Android device, etc.), there are tons of apps that you can download from various news and media sources (many of them free) that will allow you to read on the go. So while you are riding the bus to work or enjoying ur morning cup of coffee, you can easily catch up on current events.
Time to start reading!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has several definitions for the word “professional”. But there are two that particularly stand out: (1) characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession, and (2) exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace. These definitions, specifically the second one, highlight a very important point – being a professional is not simply about what you do; it’s who you are and how you present yourself. When people look at you, what do they see? In completing an interview, do you come across as poised, prepared, and knowledgeable? On your job, do your coworkers and the management team see you as helpful and cooperative with an ability to lead? Whether you are preparing for an interview or just heading in for another day in the office, your character and the image you present are the only things YOU can control. In seeking to become a better professional, it is imperative that you make a conscious effort to always put your best foot forward. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.