January 27, 2017 by Anna Peters
With increasing vacancies for STEM related jobs, liberal arts students might be feeling left behind. If you are in college and would rather study Psychology than Biology, or you prefer World History over Engineering, don’t despair. Employers do value liberal arts skills because you have unique skills to offer. However, if you don’t work on marketing these skills, employers may pass you over. We spoke with Michele Mavi, a job search expert at Atrium Staffing. Michele told us how students can market their liberal arts degree.
College Recruiter: What are liberal arts anyway?
Michele: A liberal arts education is interdisciplinary and while students have a concentration in one subject they have a broad range of requirements that leave a student with a well-rounded view of the world and an understanding of how different disciplines contribute to broader global issues.
How can a liberal arts student make the case that they are employable?
A recent study sited that communication skills are the top skill employers look for in new grads. This is where liberal arts majors excel. Almost all courses of study build communication skills, from the obvious writing and literature classes to modern European history. Liberal arts majors are exposed to coursework in many different disciplines. They are forced to analyze things, conduct research and form opinions. They need to make a case for their point of view and use logic and critical thinking to formulate a compelling viewpoint and then be able to communicate that viewpoint in a way that makes sense, even to someone who might not hold the same opinion. It’s a skill that will take people far in the business world!
Employers value critical thinking skills. Why are liberal arts students better prepared as critical thinkers? Continue Reading
January 25, 2017 by Guest writer Bill Driscoll, District President of Accountemps
Are communication skills a factor in deciding who gets a promotion?
According to research from Accountemps, CFOs say poor interpersonal skills is the most common reason for employees to fail to advance at their company. For example, you need verbal communication skills to explain the reasoning behind business decisions to various audiences. You need to master public speaking or presentation skills in order to move up the ladder into leadership roles. Even if you are in an entry-level position, it’s not too early to learn to present information in a compelling way, and to package information and explain technical information to stakeholders.
What are examples of how employees do not have good communication skills?
Many people have poor communication in various ways: in writing, phone conversations and face-to-face. Written communications shouldn’t be longwinded. You should write in crisp and highly focused style, and error-free. If you are easily distracted during phone conversations or worry your message could be misconstrued, consider meeting in person. This will also help build rapport with your colleagues. Don’t send mixed signals with your body language. Face the person you are speaking with and make eye contact. Be an active listener by nodding or giving small verbal cues occasionally, without interrupting, to let them know you understand.
What is the difference between communicating well as a team member, and communicating well as a manager?
Staff members should communicate clearly to avoid confusion on their projects and ensure they’re in sync with colleagues. Managers need to communicate their vision of what success on a project looks like, and what expectations are of each individual, to ensure everyone is on the same page. They also need to deliver clear messages to senior executives to gain additional resources or support.
How can someone improve their communication skills?
With time and practice, communication skills can be learned. Ask a mentor or manager to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Also, research professional development opportunities your company may offer. Seek out online courses. The internet offers a wide variety of effective training options for professionals looking to improve their verbal communication skills. Utilize resources provided by trade associations. Professional organizations can help their members update their knowledge of fundamental business skills through seminars and workshops.
About Bill Driscoll: Bill Driscoll is the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half. Bill oversees professional staffing services for Robert Half’s 23 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and portions of New York. He serves as a national spokesperson for Accountemps and has been featured in several top publications, including the Wall Street Journaland the Boston Globe. He has also made appearances on local and national outlets, including WFXT, WBZ, WCVB, NECN, PBS and Fox Business News. Bill is considered a local and national expert on recruiting practices, hiring and job search trends, and other workplace issues.
January 19, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
The first thing one needs to realize once they move to a management role is this:
Your job has changed! Drastically.
Many people happily take on the title of ‘manager’ while assuming that most of what they will do and be responsible for on a day-to-day basis won’t be all that different, says MacKenzie Kyle, a management consultant and author of The Performance Principle: A Practical Guide to Understanding Motivation in the Modern Workplace. Given that there is limited time each day, and that management responsibilities are their own full-time job, this can result in significant personal stress, working excessive hours as the person attempts to do two jobs, and feeling like he or she has to ‘waste’ time on activities like communication and reporting, which doesn’t produce the same immediate and obvious results as ‘production’ work.
But, as a manager, it is now a big part of your daily job to effectively facilitate the flow of information. So don’t expect that as a manager you’ll get to avoid those regular status meetings or email updates; instead, you’ll be the driving force behind them.
“You are moving to a role that includes a significant component of communication,” says Kyle.
And that means communicating with different personalities, styles, and generations. That in itself is another great challenge all new managers must master. Especially for Millennials trying to communicate and report up across generations, specifically with baby boomers.
In fact, reporting challenges between generations in the workplace are an offshoot of the Grand Communication Canyon between Baby Boomers and Millennials, says Chris Butsch, author of The Millennial’s Guide to Making Happiness, a positive psychology book for young people driven by humor, science, and stories from Millennials around the world. So what’s driving these generations apart? Well, they both want something the other isn’t providing.
Millennials want feedback.
“I’m often asked why we seem to need feedback at every turn, and the answer is quite simple: this is the system we’re used to,” says Butsch. “We’re the most educated generation in America’s history; with over 50% of us holding college degrees. That means more than any generation before us, we’ve spent more time in the education system receiving precise feedback on everything. Even in college, which prepares us for work, we received a percentage score on every deliverable: Here’s what you did right, here’s where you screwed up, 89%, B+.”
But baby boomers are industrious and often bottom-line driven, says Butsch. So if you are a new manager communicating with a baby boomer follow these guidelines from Butsch when managing the flow of communication in the workplace:
Imagine this scenario: Yesterday morning, your client asked for something you have no experience in. This afternoon the manager who you report to asks this:
Haven’t heard from XYZ client in a week- how are things going?
BAD REPORT: Yesterday morning they asked for something I don’t know much about, so I’m kinda stuck. Could you help?
This response creates more questions and more work – baby boomers – often senior managers in today’s corporate hierarchy, hate this. Instead, impress them by showing how much work you’ve already done, covering the three bases above:
GOOD REPORT: (1) Things are well and we’re speeding towards go-live by Monday EOD. I’ve completed 5 of the 7 tasks this week. (2) However, they’ve asked for recommendations for ideal CRM software, and (3) while I’ve thoroughly researched the top 4 options (Pipedrive, Salesforce, Insightly, and Zoho), I don’t feel qualified to make a recommendation without experience. Could you connect me with someone who might have experience in this area?
The latter response tells them things are going well, you’re on schedule, and you specify precisely where you need help.
The biggest thing to remember when communicating as a manager, whether it’s with direct reports, or to senior leaders is this, says Butsch: Stop treating everyone the same.
Butsch references a 75-year-long Harvard study that found the No. 1 indicator of life satisfaction is the quality of our relationships. If you build relationships with the people around you, you’re also building trust, likability, and efficiency between you.
“Building a working relationship doesn’t necessarily mean being buddy-buddy with everyone; it means understanding them,” says Butsch.
How can new managers understand the many different personalities and work styles across generations in the workplace? Start by making mental baseball cards, says Butsch. Like this:
Danielle (hospital director)
Likes: directness, short meetings, short emails
Hates: getting lost in details, anyone who’s late
Kyle (scheduling software analyst)
Likes: positive feedback, 1-1 attention, clear walkthroughs
Hates: feeling lost, going too long without feedback
So if communicating with Danielle and Kyle, Butsch would spend an hour walking Kyle through a new workflow, then fire Danielle a 1-sentence email letting her know that the scheduling software is on track.
As you build these relationships, and start to understand each person’s own unique style – and quirks – you’ll simply enjoy working with more people, and will also build trust with them, meaning you’ll feel more comfortable asking for favors or support in times of need, adds Butsch.
The reality of the job of manager is often different than expectations, and a large number of people don’t find the activities of being a manager – all the communication, supporting other people to do the actual work while dealing with many of their problems, rewarding, says Kyle. But the manager’s role is to coordinate and support the production work (not to do it) and this requires significant time spent simply communicating with the members of the team. Learning how to communicate successfully with different personalities and across generations is a big factor in one’s success as a manager.
Are you ready to make that change? Then you’re ready to succeed as a first-time manager.
December 27, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
As 2016 comes to a close many college students have now handed in their final paper, taken the last exam of their collegiate careers and entered the job market. But according to a study of 503 entry-level job seekers by national career matchmaking firm GradStaff, recent college grads seem largely unaware of career opportunities and unsure of how to apply their skills in the workforce. So what strategies can December college grads put into action now to create results that land a job? Start by following these 10 strategies for success.
1. Develop a strong value proposition: Start by developing a strong value proposition and identifying those important soft and transferrable skills, says Bob LaBombard, CEO of GradStaff, a company that serves as a career matchmaker for recent college graduates, and companies that are looking to fill entry-level jobs.
“These soft skills – such as critical thinking, effective communication, time management and leadership – are in high demand among prospective employers,” says LaBombard. “Grads should consider how and where they’ve applied these skills during college, whether in classes or extracurricular activities, or in non-professional jobs, including restaurant and retail service positions.”
2. Sell what you want to do next: Next, be prepared to talk about what it is you want to do now that you are graduated. Everyone that you know, run into, or talk to, is going to congratulate you on graduating, then ask “what’s next?” or “what do you want to do now?” The “I’ll take anything” approach is not a good option, says Kathleen I. Powell, Associate Vice President for Career Development at The College of William & Mary, and President, National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Case in point, if you tell someone you’ll take anything, it’s hard for that person to find “anything.”
“If you tell someone you’re interested in arts management, accounting, psychology, now you’ve given that person an area to focus on and they can start thinking of contacts in their networks,” says Powell.
3. Casual conversations can lead to opportunities: Don’t blow off those casual conversations with friends, family members – that wacky uncle just may be well-connected in an industry where you want to work and be able to point you to a job opening, a mentor, or someone with whom you can set up an informational interview. Members of your church, social networks, parents of high school friends, relatives of your significant other, when they ask “what’s next” they are generally interested – so be prepared to effectively sell your excitement of what you want to do next. That’s the only way they can possibly help you, by knowing what you truly want to do.
4. Network, network, network: Because, it really is about networking. Recent ADP employment reports show the bulk of all new job growth – often as much as 70-80 percent in a given month – is driven by small and mid-sized businesses. “These companies often don’t have the resources to recruit on campus, and tend to rely on referrals from employees, clients, vendors and other partners to identify candidates,” says LaBombard. “As a result, personal networking is critical. All entry-level job seekers should seize opportunities to ask parents, teachers, friends, clergy and even former employers for connections in industries of interest, and they should continue engaging with professional associations, alumni groups and others for face-to-face networking opportunities.”
LaBombard offers these additional tips:
October 27, 2016 by Matt Krumrie
Analytics, big data, data mining, and data science. Those are not just buzz words, but job titles for some of the hottest jobs of the future. And actually, the present. Especially in health care careers, where professionals throughout the world are using a variety of analytics and data to help cure diseases and solve business problems.
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. used data mining to model patient populations and define chronic disease groups, which ended up improving their ability to help diabetic patients manage and reduce complications of their disease. Health care providers are using predictive analytics to find factors associated with high-cost patients. They can detect insurance fraud and even forecast medical outcomes. Analytics and data continually make more impact in health care. And so do the job opportunities. But for recent college grads, understanding the job titles and career paths of analytics and big data careers can be confusing.
“The good news is that opportunity is abundant,” says Kevin Purcell, Ph.D., a Professor in the analytics program at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Harrisburg, PA. “As with any new field, sometimes deciphering job titles is the first hurdle.”
Purcell breaks down these potential job titles and what the job entails:
- Data analysts: Responsible for gleaning information from data using various software packages and their knowledge of SQL on databases. This is often combined with intermediate level statistics.
- Data scientists: Responsible for gleaning information from data, but at a larger scale and also often tasked with more open questions. The skill also demands more advanced statistical knowledge such as machine learning as well as programming skills to better manipulate data to his or her own will.
- Data engineers: Typically software engineers that focus on building robust data pipelines that clean, transform and aggregate messy and unorganized data into usable data sources.
- Big data architects: Develop plans for integrating, structuring, and maintaining a company’s data sources often employing big data technology such as Hadoop
Chris Lee is the Manager of Performance Measurement at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) in Orange, California. He sees two key skills that are crucial to success working in analytics and data in the health care industry. Those skills are analytical and technical skills – combined with interpersonal skills. Sure, it’s important to have advanced Excel skills, knowledge of databases, strong data mining and presentation skills. However, the most technical people need interpersonal skills to work with others, including non-technical co-workers.
“The main thing I’ve learned in the field that students can’t learn in the classroom is the interpersonal aspect of working with people who request data,” says Lee. “The people you will work with in the real world have all sorts of personalities and traits. Great interpersonal skills will help one foster relationships and make the data analysis portion of the job much easier when you can clearly define and understand the data elements that the requester is asking for. Most successful analysts have that right balance that enables him or her to interact with the data requester to generate/create the correct data analysis.”
Purcell agrees: “It is imperative for both data analysts and data scientists to be competent communicators,” he says. “Data storytelling is an indispensable skill needed to communicate technical findings to non-technical audiences with a focus how the findings can impact the business or organization.”
Purcell says employers look for other core skills such as intellectual curiosity, analytical thinking, and knowledge of software tools such as R, Python, a high-level programming language (Java or C++), and GUI-based visualization.
Kevin Huggins, Ph.D., also a Professor in the analytics program at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, says getting hands-on, real-life experience is crucial to launching one’s entry-level analytics and data career.
“Nothing can replace practical experience,” says Huggins. “Internships are excellent options, but sometimes not available to everyone. Since most platforms are open, contributing to open competitions or open-source collaborations can provide experience where professional opportunities are scarce.”
Carolyn Thompson, Managing Principal, Merito Group, LLC, a talent acquisition and consulting firm, says the single most requested skill set in healthcare analytics that employers seek is revenue cycle experience. “Because of the complex nature of payment and provider relationships, this is an area where the demand is literally never fully met,” says Thompson. “These people have strong Excel skills, good business judgment and can do modeling and forecasting around all the various aspects of healthcare revenue.”
Andrew S. Miller, President & CEO of BrainWorks, a leader in big data recruitment, says employers want recent college graduates who are trained in statistics, math, quantitative analysis, using programs, and algorithms. But ultimately, recent college grads also have to be able to communicate and present the data.
“The ability to take your finding and present to key business stakeholders is critical,” says Miller. “Employers want a person who can not only massage and manipulate data, but interpret the data into insights and meaningful conclusions. If they can’t convey the information in a way that makes sense or sells management or what action to take, their value to the employer becomes limited.”
Analytics and big data jobs are hot and in demand. Especially in the health care industry. Use these tips to advance your career and land that first job or internship.
August 08, 2016 by Bethany Wallace
In today’s global, competitive workforce—where Millennials are the largest generation to date—jobs are tough to find and competition is more than 10 times worse than before the last economic downturn in 2008. For the past eight years, evidence shows a stalling, declining economy with pockets of hope but mostly despair. A recent poll cited that college graduates and Millennials under the age of 35 are moving back in with their parents in the homes they grew up in at alarmingly increasing rates. Other recent findings include the following factors that can hinder a graduate’s job search: taking too long to graduate while others fill jobs; going on to graduate school and delaying a career start; not being able to afford to work for less in a career start due to heavy college loan debt.
What is a newly minted college graduate to do? Is the college degree they hold in their hands worth it? Will they find a job? Will they make enough to pay off student loans and college debt while at the same time living independently from their parents?
Welcome to the “new normal” of what is the big Millennial challenge: Finding jobs that pay well enough to satisfy debt while at the same time affording a lifestyle.
In this brave, new world of global capitalism, government spending, and oversight, new regulations such as the new overtime mandate of paying salaried workers more for overtime…. graduates are in for a big wake up call! And more, older, qualified and more senior workers are standing in line for those jobs.
Happy yet? Keep reading. The US economy is stalled. Unfortunately, the government has decided to make it their role to tell employers how to run their businesses. Small businesses—the county’s backbone of entrepreneurship—have become stressed and many have closed or re-shifted to allow for these regulations. Some economists are predicting layoffs over the next few quarters as a result of a stalled economy coupled with higher mandated wages. Additionally, technology is often replacing workers in the workforce adding to the “do less with more” theme in many business operations.
Here are the top things you must do if you want employment in this US economy, and this includes being able to pay off debt:
Get more than one job: It may take a career start for less money combined with a job waiting tables on nights and weekends to make enough money. There is no shame in this, and in fact, future recruiters and employers will react positively to those Millennials who demonstrate a good work ethic.
Don’t expect it to be handed to you: Gone are the days of jobs awaiting. Employers want employees with “go get ‘em” work ethics. As an employer of Millennials, I am always looking for young talent willing to earn their way into my business.
We don’t care about your yoga, essential oils or feelings at work: They call it work for a reason. While some larger companies (Google, Twitter, etc) have offered amenities and benefits attractive to Millennials, these jobs are often reserved for the top few. A recent news report cited high competition for these coveted jobs. Most businesses cannot afford to “cater” to a certain type of demographic like the Millennials.
Communicate the old fashioned way: Look people in the eye, shake hands, talk persuasively, and send a hand-written thank you note. In a recent report by DC-based, NRF (National Retail Federation), communication skills place last on a list of training wants for Millennials. Placing first on the employer’s list? Communication skills. Millennials who understand what corporate recruiters are seeking will be those better able to get employed.
Secure a job that you know you can achieve in and take it: Work hard to prove yourself. My friend, Patti Clauss, Sr. VP of Global Talent for Williams-Sonoma and related companies says to “follow my lead and communicate with me like I communicate with you. Stay put in your job long enough to learn something valuable and transferable,” says Clauss.
Stay in your first job long enough, and work hard to generate results that are good enough to brag about: You must achieve results, get good feedback and move the ball down the field. Only then will people notice you and want to promote you or hire you away.
Don’t be a quitter: The problem with Millennials is they don’t stay put long enough to learn enough to make them valuable to the next employer: Hopping around in jobs is not a career enhancing practice. Employers will take note of a graduate who has moved around more than once within a two to three year time frame. Nobody wants to invest in someone if they know they won’t stay long enough to add value.
Reach out and engage with older, more established mentors in your job or career who can give you advice you won’t get anywhere else. Listen to those who have forged their paths before you and learn.
Read the local paper and read blogs by those in your area of work.
Know that your college degree is only as good as the paper it is on: While we believe a degree is a door opener, it is just that. What you do with it is what matters. A degree (or many) will not convince an employer to select you over others. We see many smart, degreed people out there looking for any job—often an entry level job.
Times are so different and it is critical that Millennials get into high gear and work to get ahead. They must understand that getting a degree is just one quiver in their pack of arrows. Today, they must have many other weapons with which to compete.
Amy D. Howell is founder and owner of Memphis PR firm, Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC, a mother of a college student, high school student and author of two books, “Women in High Gear,” and most recently “Students in High Gear.”
June 26, 2016 by Bethany Wallace
One of your top goals is to have a happy and successful life.
Your career is the key to achieving this goal.
You’ve got a nice degree, have a lovely smile and are ready to work, but there’s one more thing that could stop you from realizing your dreams:
Some mistakes could harm or even end your career. You have to recognize and avoid them at all costs if you really want to have a successful life.
There are 10 career defining mistakes.
1. Dressing badly at work
Sure, you deserve to get the respect you think you deserve and get people to listen to you. People should respect you because you know what you’re talking about.
So why should you wear expensive socks to get people to respect you?
Let me tell you a story.
One day I was on a bus headed to my friend’s house. It’s been a long time since I went to the neighborhood so I wasn’t so sure which stop to get off at. I was constantly looking out at the window, and the gentleman sitting beside me could not help but notice it.
He nicely asked where I was going and if I needed help. I told him where I was going, and he said I should exit in two stops. I thanked him.
A few minutes later, another man sitting behind me said “Actually, you should get off at the next stop.”
I thanked him and exited where he told me, ignoring the advice of the first guy.
Now, you may want to ask me why I chose the second guy’s advice.
As I walk away from the bus stop, I realized I ignored my seatmate’s advice because he was wearing sweatpants, had a dark stain on his T-shirt, and looked like he skipped showering that day. I realized that I chose the second guy’s advice because he wore a collared jacket, well-polished shoes, and designer glasses.
When you dress well at work, people will notice you. Your superiors will notice you, and they would admire you for that. That would open up more opportunities for you.
2. Expressing a rude and negative attitude at work
Even if you’re a highly-talented employee but always express a bad and negative attitude at work, you’ll have a high mountain to climb to advance your career. Many managers hate working with employees who have bad attitudes because they decrease the team morale.
According to studies from Leadership IQ, 87% of employees say that working with somebody with a bad attitude has actually made them want to change jobs. And as much as 89% of new hires who fail within 18 months actually failed because of attitudinal issues, not skills. Bad attitudes also include laziness, tardiness, inappropriate jokes, unresponsive to emails, etc. List all the bad and negative attitudes you have and make a consistent effort to overcome them.
3. Not building good relationships with your colleagues
Bad relationships are bound to happen from time to time. How you deal with them is the most important thing.
Your colleagues are the keys to your happiness at work. If you’re not happy with your coworkers, then you’ll certainly be looking for work soon. I’m a big believer of the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you want your coworkers to be kind and respectful to you, then you have to be kind and respectful to them.
Make sure you remember your coworkers’ names and address them by their names. It’s easy to say happy birthdays to your coworkers on Facebook when you rarely talk to them at work. Make sure you’re doing that important one-on-one conversation. Get on the phone and tell them “Happy Birthday.” Go an extra mile and surprise them with a gift. This little generosity will make you more likable at your workplace.
4. Writing unprofessional emails to colleagues
You know there are some unprofessional things you shouldn’t say to your colleagues in the workplace. The same is true for work emails.
For example, it’s not appropriate to answer a colleague asking you how your job search is going inside your work email. Another example is when your colleague complains about other coworkers and says nasty things about them.
These are discussions you shouldn’t allow inside your work email. I don’t think it’s good to allow it at all whether it’s your personal or work email. You should know that you don’t own your work email, your employer does. Your employer can monitor who you’re communicating with on your work email. You could be in trouble if you’re making inappropriate remarks about sensitive issues at your workplace.
In addition to that, there are some email mistakes that can make you look really unprofessional.
- Using informal or curse words you’re not allowed to use at work
- Rambling in your email instead of getting straight to the point
- Forgetting to attach files when you say you’ve attached files
- Spelling the person’s name wrong or using a different name to address the recipient
These email mistakes may not look big to you, but they are serious mistakes that can prevent you from accelerating your career.
5. Making career choices based on earnings
The love of money could lead you down the wrong career path.
I’m not saying “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
You need money to do a lot of things. You probably need money to pay student loans, buy some nice outfits and keep the roof over your head. So you definitely need money. We all do.
But when you choose a career or a job you don’t even enjoy based on your goal to make $90,000 per year, that’s when it becomes a problem. You need to ask yourself:
Does your desire for money match your passion and skills? When you choose a job you’re less passionate about, you’ll be pushing yourself to get things done. And this would be visible in your performance. You should choose a job where you have the skills and abilities to get the job done.
6. Not investing in yourself
If you strip Larry Page of his assets and dump him on the street, I can assure you that he would be back living a comfortable life within a week.
Larry Page has a ton of human capital.
According to Wikipedia, “Human capital is the stock of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value.” In other words, human capital is a collection of resources—all the knowledge, talents, skills, abilities, experience, intelligence, training, judgment, and wisdom that are possessed by an individual. If you want to achieve a lot of success in your career, you need a lot of human capital. Focusing on building your human capital is a lot more productive than worrying about “job security.
So how do you build your human capital?
You build up your human capital by investing in yourself through:
- Improving your skills
- Acquiring complementary skills
- Reading educational books
- Starting healthy habits
- Building your personal brand
- Getting a mentor
As you do these things, you’ll become irreplaceable in your organization. You’ll become the go-to person within your company. Many more people will start looking up to you. All these help you accelerate your career.
But when you stop investing in yourself, you become stagnant. Your skills become obsolete.
7. Not maintaining a healthy work-life balance
A poor work-life balance is bad for both the employee (you) and the employer.
People who have a poor work-life balance are more stressed and experience more family conflicts. They also tend to have both mental and physical problems. If your private life is suffering, it will negatively impact your professional life. Your private life comes first. When you experience more problems in your private life, your creativity, engagement and productivity at work will suffer.
The only way to prevent this is to keep a work-life balance.
This may not look like a career mistake to you, but it’s a mistake that can have adverse effects on your career. You should set work hours and stick to them. Don’t work during times when you should be with your family or have set aside times for tending to personal matters which are a priority to you.
8. Not improving your communication skills
“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”—Theodore Roosevelt
The consequences of poor communication are great.
For example, if your communication skills are poor, your message would be hard to understand, and this can lead to serious confusion among your colleagues.
Too much information when it is not needed can also affect the concentration of the listener.
Poor communication becomes more serious when you communicate with customers. If customers are not serviced in the right manner, it would reduce sales, thereby affecting business goals.
Great communication skills help you do well at your job because you’ll be using these skills when requesting information, discussing problems, giving out instructions, and interacting with your colleagues. As a result of demonstrating good communication skills, you’ll enhance your professional image, build sound business relationships, and get more successful responses.
You have to continue sharpening your communication skills if you want to get and stay at the top.
How do you do that?
You sharpen your communication skills by:
- Striking up conversations with strangers
- Reading good books
- Listening to others
- And engaging in more one-on-one conversations
9. Not networking outside your company
Your network is your net worth.
Your network is your source of job opportunities, potential business partnerships and much more. Your network won’t only find your next job, but it will help you improve your current position.
“NETWORKING is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization!”—Adam Small
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is to network when they are only looking for a job. You can’t only rely on people you already know within your current workplace to help you land your dream job. You must always be networking outside of your company, and even your industry.
For example, let’s say you’re a website designer; networking with other website designers alone would limit your opportunities. You should network outside your industry like in the Healthcare, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Energy sectors. People in these sectors could be good references. They could become customers. They might know someone who needs your service.
LinkedIn is a very good place to start networking with people outside your industries.
But your conversation with those people shouldn’t be limited to the web. Take it offline. Do face-to-face meetings with them. That’s how you expand your network and increase your chance of career success.
10. Not serving your network
The truth is the people in your network needs you as much as you need them.
You can’t just expect people in your network to connect you with other people they know. You can’t just expect them to link you up with job opportunities without you giving them some value. You’ll appear selfish if you always expect people to do things for you but offer nothing in return.
The best way to keep people interested in you is to serve them. When you diligently do something good for people, they will want to return the favor, though, your major aim of helping people shouldn’t be to get something in return. The more people you serve, the more your network grows, and the more your network grows, the more opportunities will come your way.
Michael Akinlaby is a freelance writer and SEO Consultant. He’s the founder of RankRain, an internet marketing agency that specializes in content marketing and Search Engine.
June 07, 2016 by Bethany Wallace
Did you know that 80% of workplace conflicts and problems arise from communication glitches? It’s true. You can do your part to prevent workplace conflicts—originating from miscommunication—by developing your soft skills, namely communication skills and networking skills. If you improve your relationships with your colleagues, clients, and supervisors via networking in the workplace, you’ll be much less likely to face problems at work.
As a new employee, particularly as a recent grad or intern, it’s also important to network with others at work in order to build rapport with the people you rely upon for help and information to perform your job duties well. If you want to succeed, you’ll quickly learn that it pays to maintain positive relationships with everyone around you.
Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, offers seven tips for networking in the workplace in this short video.
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1. Know yourself well.
If you can detect when you’re having an off day, take steps to prevent taking it out on everyone around you. Stay in your cubicle or office on those days if necessary or take more frequent breaks. Before you begin working, get an extra-large coffee and take some deep breaths or read some positive literature. Look at some funny photos for five minutes. Find a solution that works for you. If you find yourself in a negative place due to personal circumstances, and you’re allowing your personal life to affect your work life, talk to your human resources officer confidentially to see if your company offers wellness benefits, including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
In addition, taking a DISC inventory or other personality inventory—ask your career services office about taking these inventories at no cost on your college campus—can help you to learn more about your work style. It might take one hour to take the inventory, but you’ll then be armed with information about how you work best, how you prefer to interact with others, and what to avoid when interacting with others. The sooner you learn this information about yourself, the better.
2. Treat others well.
Treat your colleagues and clients well regardless of their level of expertise, pay grade, or how much money they are spending with your company. When networking, your contacts will appreciate being treated with courtesy, kindness, respect, appreciation, and fairness. You’ll build a reputation of treating people well, and a great reputation goes a long way in the workplace. If you decide to stay with your present company, you may want to apply for an internal job promotion. If you’ve been networking with others at work and treating everyone well, your behavior will likely speak just as loudly as your resume, cover letter, and job application. If you decide to leave your company to pursue other job opportunities, you’ll be glad you treated others well when potential employers call to check your references and hear about how kind, thoughtful, and positive you were at work every day.
3. Don’t be afraid to collaborate and share.
Collaborating and sharing ideas and information in the workplace today is a great way to network with your colleagues and to show them that you want to help, not hinder the growth of the organization or team. Sharing your ideas with others also encourages others to share their ideas, and the workplace becomes a more creative place.
4. Don’t do halfalogues.
What’s a halfalogue? A halfalogue is when you only participate in half the conversation or dialogue because you’re holding your phone, scrolling through a text message or email, and aren’t able to fully participate and interact with your colleagues as a result. At work, you have to put down your phone if you want to make good impressions and build positive relationships with your supervisors, colleagues, and clients. It’s not just rude to play on your phone during meetings; it’s also important to pay attention when stopping by someone’s office casually to say hello.
5. Address people by name.
This is like networking 101. Referring to people by name during conversations or even in emails makes them feel more special, and that’s always a good thing. How long does it take to type out, “Bethany?” Maybe one or two seconds. It’s worth it to improve your communication skills and reduce the potential for future workplace conflicts.
6. Focus on the solution, not the problem.
Be a positive influence at work. When networking, whether at workplace events or during daily interactions in the workplace, keep conversations “light and polite” and focused on positive topics and on solutions, not problems. It’s inevitable at work that you’re going to be asked to discuss problems and conflicts during meetings. What’s important is that you find a way to discuss problems in a positive light and to focus on taking constructive action.
For example, if you’re discussing a challenge you’re facing as a new employee tasked with visiting with patients at a clinic, and you have discovered you simply cannot keep up with the volume of paperwork and still provide quality service to the patients face-to-face, you can be honest about the problem yet discuss potential solutions.
“I am really glad we have so many patients coming to the office. I like talking to them and helping them get set up to see the doctor. I’m just feeling overwhelmed by the documents to scan and know I’m getting behind. I think I need more time to scan documents, but I don’t want to offer patients a lower level of service either. Do you think I could work on documents for 30 minutes in the morning before I start seeing patients every day? Maybe this would help me to keep it managed.”
Presenting a potential solution—even if it’s not the solution your employer prefers or selects to implement—suggests that you’re not just belly-aching about problems. It also showcases your soft skills, including your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These are not just great networking skills but are great workplace skills any employer values.
7. Interact face-to-face whenever possible.
It’s not always an option, but interact face-to-face if you can. Face-to-face communication helps you avoid most communication errors and opportunities for miscommunication because it is channel rich. When you’re speaking with someone face-to-face, you’re provided with multiple cues that help you interpret meaning: voice tone, spoken word, facial expression, hand gestures, and many more. When you communicate with someone via email or text message, communication is channel lean, meaning you’re relying on just one thing–words. Have you ever received a text message from a significant other, and the intended meaning is not the meaning you interpreted? This likely caused some hurt feelings or even a huge fight. The same thing happens in the workplace.
For this reason, it’s best to hold meetings face-to-face. If you work remotely, consider hosting meetings virtually via Zoom or Skype. If that’s not an option, you can conference in by phone. At least you can hear voices rather than simply read words. Simply hammering out emails back and forth gives you the illusion that you’re saving time, when in fact, you often waste time because you create confusion which you have to clarify by writing three more emails. Save yourself the hassle—and build better relationships—by talking to people face-to-face when possible. You’ll probably find that your networking skills and communication skills will grow, and you’ll build great relationships, too.
May 24, 2016 by Bethany Wallace
This video, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, offers five more tips to help you shake off the first day jitters and prepare for your first day of work with confidence.
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On your first day at work—or even within the first few weeks or months of a new position—spend more of your time observing and listening than you do talking, saying yes, and volunteering for every opportunity that comes your way. You will learn a lot about company culture, your coworkers, your supervisors, and your new position by observing. You can figure out which circle of work friends you want to align yourself with and which group of friends to join for happy hour. You’ll figure out how to fit in and how to avoid major communication pitfalls. And you’ll avoid getting in over your head by overfilling your plate with unnecessary commitments, too.
2. Say yes to lunch.
On your first day and within the first week of work, you may be invited to lunch by coworkers who are trying to make you feel welcome. In general, it’s a good idea to say yes. Going to lunch isn’t a huge commitment. It gives you an opportunity to network and to learn about the workplace in a less threatening and less formal environment. If you go to lunch with someone and determine you don’t necessarily click as friends outside of work, you haven’t lost anything or made a commitment to joining that person for lunch every day of the week. No harm, no foul.
3. Silence your cell phone.
You have to be responsible enough to remember to do this yourself; chances are, no one’s going to remind you, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than your phone buzzing or ringing during a team meeting, onboarding training session, or worse yet, an all-company meeting. Take it a step further and implement a personal policy of avoiding carrying your phone around with you during work. Sure, everyone needs to send an occasional personal text message or personal email. But for the most part, work while you’re at work, and tend to personal business when you’re not at work. This helps you to stay focused on doing a great job and learning the ropes of your new position, and it demonstrates respect for your coworkers when you’re communicating with them (rather than gazing at the screen on your phone).
4. Use names.
Referring to people by their names is a great idea throughout life for several reasons, but it’s particularly helpful when you start a new job. When you refer to coworkers by name, you make them feel more important. This is a basic networking tip. In addition, referring to people by name often softens the blow when you’re making requests, giving orders, sharing information, and sending emails which otherwise seem cold and impersonal. And lastly, referring to people by name helps you to remember who you’re talking to.
5. Say thank you.
When coworkers, supervisors, and others at your new company treat you with kindness and courtesy during the onboarding process, respond with gratitude. Say thank you if someone opens the door for you, gathers office supplies for you, sets up your computer, or invites you to lunch. You might even consider writing thank you cards or at least emails to individuals who go above and beyond to make you feel welcome during your first few weeks of work. Remember, you’re establishing long-term working relationships with people within your company, and what better way to do that than to demonstrate gratitude for their help and kindness.
May 19, 2016 by Bethany Wallace
When entry-level candidates apply for jobs, they often claim to have great soft skills. However, after employers hire candidates, they may find that candidates don’t have the excellent soft skills they boasted about possessing. This creates a problem for employers in the onboarding process and afterward, too, as they are left to deal with new employees lacking basic soft skills required to adapt to the workplace and corporate culture.
Can the new employees interact well with their teammates? Are they capable of making strong decisions on their own without input from management every step of the way? Do new employees manage their time well, resolve conflicts as they arise, and communicate clearly, effectively, and appropriately with clients and coworkers? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ employers have big—often expensive–problems on their hands.
Pete Joodi, Distinguished Engineer for IBM, provides entry-level job seekers and employers with insight into why soft skills matter so much in today’s workplace, particularly in the field of information technology. In this interview by Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, Pete Joodi discusses the soft skills dilemma.
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At IBM, Pete Joodi, Distinguished Engineer, focuses on research and innovation in information technology. He focuses on optimization strategies; his goal is to find ways software and technology can improve energy efficiency, cost containment, and compliance.
Pete mentions that within the last 50 years, the world has truly expanded thanks to technology. We need to know how to work with each other now more than ever. This is the reason soft skills are more important than ever before.
IBM conducted a study in 2014. One of its findings indicated that soft skills are in great demand by employers but are most lacking in students graduating from institutions of higher education today. Pete Joodi doesn’t see this as a negative finding, however. Instead, it indicates an opportunity for growth and improvement for employers.
At IBM, the focus is on leading and contributing to technological innovation in the ‘cognitive era.’ Candidates applying at IBM need the following soft skills in order to succeed: communication skills, teamwork and collaboration skills, problem-solving skills, adaptability and flexibility skills, language and translation skills, ability to interact well with colleagues and clients, critical thinking skills, and conflict resolution skills.
Truly, soft skills are highly relevant at IBM. The world is more complex than it was, but it’s also more rewarding to work in the world today. In order to create consumable products, IBM and other companies must hire candidates with excellent soft skills.
For more details about how to improve your soft skills, transferable skills, and non-verbal skills, visit CollegeRecruiter.com, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.