If you can't seem to be part of the team in the workplace or struggle during a group interview when you're out on the job hunt, it may be time to reconsider how you interact within a group of people in a professional setting. In many workplaces, being able to collaborate successfully is extremely important, especially if you're working to accomplish common goals for the company. If collaborative situations fill you with tension, try readjusting how you work within a team. Here are four tips for becoming a better team player at work:
1. Know when to step back
For certain people, ambition in a professional setting may push them to always take the point role or try to separate themselves from their peers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in collaborative situations it can be harmful to creativity and innovation. These ideas have become highly valued in the contemporary workplace, and rely on workers to know when it's time to take the lead and when it's time to follow. The fact is, others will have good ideas and subject matter expertise in certain areas that you lack. It's necessary to be able to step back in those moments and listen to others earnestly.
2. Learn from your mistakes
If you or your team in general makes a mistake, learn from it next time you are in a similar scenario. Errors are an inevitable and necessary element of innovation, so it's better to embrace them than shrug them off.
3. Don't take information for granted
Communication is key in a collaborative workplace. If you assume that everyone has access to the same information, it may slow down your progress as a team. Make sure to share ideas and materials candidly if it is of value to the entire team. In general, making assumptions in the workplace can lead to unfavorable outcomes. Communicate openly about any concerns or issues you have with your team or a superior to ensure that they aren't exacerbated later.
4. Play to your strengths
While it's important to know when to follow, it's also crucial that you are vocal about your strengths. For example, if your work team has a big upcoming presentation and you have significant experience with PowerPoint or other presentation software, make sure that it is known amongst the group. Be proactive about taking on tasks at which you know you excel. It'll be beneficial for both you and your team.
Everyone has days where they walk into the office and just want to walk out. It's natural. Occasionally, work can seem overwhelming and tedious, and in those moments we tend to get distressed, irritable or uninterested. However, if these emotions are becoming a chronic part of your time at work, it may be time to consider looking for a new gig. At the end of the day, if your job isn't rewarding and you're unhappy, it's time to get out of there. Here are five reasons to consider parting with your current employer and taking your job hunt up a level:
1. You're stressed and unhealthy
If your job is causing you an unhealthy amount of stress, it may be time to call it quits. Are the long hours at your desk leaving you fatigued and causing you to put on unwanted pounds? Are you losing sleep because you're thinking too much about work before bed? Maybe it's time to find a place of employment that puts more stock in your well-being.
2. There's no room for advancement
It shouldn't be too hard to identify if there's room for advancement in at your place of employment. If you've seen peers and superiors rise the ranks and you know you can do it too, then maybe it's worth sticking around. But if it's abundantly clear there's nothing more than lateral movement – or maybe no room to move at all – then you should start looking for a position with more opportunities for growth. After all, you can't climb the corporate ladder if it doesn't exist.
3. You're not developing career skills
The fact is some less-than-desirable employers are going to treat you like a robot. They will see you as a trained machine designed to accomplish a specific task, and show little interest in your skills outside of that. However, good businesses take advantage of their staff's distinct professional skills and foster an environment in which their employees can flourish. If your job feels redundant and uninspiring, it may be a sign that you're not being challenged enough. In this case, start looking for positions that may more fully utilize your creative talents.
4. You don't have respect for the company
Sometimes, you may not realize that a company is unprofessional or unethical until you're deeply embedded in the day-to-day activities that occur there. If you've been working at a company and have come to realize that you don't respect its values, it's time to start job hunting right away. It's nearly inevitable that eventually your dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the business will come to light, and in the heat of the moment you could burn a bridge. Rather than allow pressure to build up, begin looking for positions with companies that seem to align more with your beliefs.
5. You keep vowing to quit
If you're just getting through work week to week and vowing that one of these days you're going to get out of there, then make good on your promise. If you're already considering quitting, it's probably only a matter of time before you go through with it. Again, don't wait for your frustration to boil over. If you erupt and quit your job without a plan, then the following period of unemployment will be equally if not more stressful, as well as financially draining. Instead, double down on your job hunting efforts, and imagine how nice it will be to professionally put in your two weeks once you have been offered a new position.
It's only natural that sometimes you're going to feel ready for the next step in your career. In fact, you should be considering where your career is headed all the time. Whether you're simply looking for a change of scenery or a big promotion, it's important to be able to negotiate the terms and value of your work. For example, if you interview for a contract or consultancy position, you'll need to be prepared to lay out your terms during an interview. If you've been working your butt off for an internal promotion, you'll need tangible evidence of why you deserve it over your colleagues. All in all, there's an art to negotiating what you're worth, and though it can take years of time and practice, here are five tips to get you started:
1. Do your research
At the end of the day, there's no excuse for not having some idea of what others are making in positions comparable to your own. This information is listed on a wide range of locations across the Web, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com and Salary.com, among others. Learn how your salary compares to your peers across the industry, and also have an idea of the average salary for those in the position for which you are gunning.
2. Know what you're asking for
If you're sitting down with your boss to discuss your performance and hoping to get rewarded for your hard work, be prepared to explain exactly what you are asking for. Do you want a raise or are you looking for benefits? Do you feel you've earned extra vacation days? Is the change in title most important? Be able to discuss in detail why you believe you have earned more responsibility or specific perks.
3. Show off your worth
It's dangerous to enter a negotiation feeling undervalued without concrete evidence to support your claim. In the case of an interview, having tangible examples of your past work may make the difference when negotiating pay. If you're vying for a promotion, having firm proof of how you have gone above and beyond during your time with the company may be pivotal. Remember that you'll need to demonstrate consistency. Showcasing your worth means going that extra step on a daily basis.
4. Keep the conversation going
If a negotiation gets put on hold, make sure you actively work to keep it going without being too pushy. Establish what was accomplished during a discussion and reiterate it clearly to those involved before tabling the negotiations for later. Also, make sure to take notes on what was discussed so that you may refer back to it. If you bring up the subject with your boss several times and are brushed aside, it may be a sign that you should start looking elsewhere to continue your career development. Stagnant jobs with no room for advancement can quickly become unrewarding, and you should consider moving on to a new company if it seems you're stuck in one place.
5. Leave room for compromise
You can't walk in and expect that all of your demands are going to be met unquestioned. Remember that a negotiation requires wiggle room on both ends. Don't bow out right away and accept a low offer, but also be prepared to get pushback on your terms. Rather than say no to a specific offer, ask for more information about your boss's thought process and what they see for your future with the company.
If you've been putting in a lot of extra hours and taking on new responsibilities at work, it may seem that a promotion is just around the corner. Maybe it's an internal position that just opened up or you're taking on a huge new account, but whatever the catalyst, it's usually pretty easy to tell when you're ready for the next step. This can make it all the more devastating if you get passed up for a promotion by someone you feel doesn't fit the bill. In these situations, it's easy to lose your head. However, fight your initial instinct to storm out and then reevaluate. Here are five things to do when you don't receive a much-deserved promotion:
1. Don't act right away
Don't let yourself do something regrettable in the heat of the moment. It's a natural to have the urge to shut down, quit or badmouth the person who received the promotion. Remember that reacting in this way will only make the situation worse. While you may have gotten passed up, you never know what opportunities the future will hold, and it won't do you any good to burn bridges in the meantime. In the moment missing out may seem like a bigger deal than it is in actuality.
2.Shake it off
Take some time to collect your thoughts and cool down. It's perfectly acceptable to ask your boss why you were passed up or for criticism on ways you can improve, but if you do this while you're still frustrated you may react unfavorably. Give yourself enough time to find a collected and professional way of approaching your boss or other higher ups to learn more about how the decision was made.
3. Find out why
When you initiate the conversation, make sure to position your questions in a professional manner. Don't ask why so and so was chosen over you. Instead, politely inquire as to what held you back this time around and how you can improve. Be prepared to take constructive criticism, and avoid being defensive or standoffish. Remember to be diplomatic. Take note of external issues that may be out of your hands, as it may be a cue as to your future opportunities with the company.
4. Actively work to get better
Ideally, once you've talked with your boss, you'll have a better understanding of what you can be doing to earn the promotion next time around. Focus on the specific reasons that were cited for you being passed over, and work to strengthen these areas. For example, if you did not receive the promotion for not having enough leadership experience, find ways to become a more active leader around the office. Spearhead new projects and vocalize your ideas. Hopefully, this initiative will be easily recognizable and then there will be no question of who to promote in the future.
5. Look for other opportunities
If your efforts are going unrecognized and unrewarded, it may simply be time to start looking elsewhere. Get a pulse on other open opportunities and double your networking efforts. Though you may not make the switch immediately, it's important to remain focused on advancing your career. You can't wait around in hopes that an internal opening simply pops up or the next promotion presents itself. Once you've sorted out why you were passed up, make a point of updating your resume, browsing the job market and meeting new people. Ideally, if you remain active at work and in your job search, a new opportunity will soon become available.
Perfecting your resume can be a lengthy and tiring process, but it's all worth it when you get called in for an interview. However, while you may think your resume is flawless, you might be making common mistakes and be completely unaware of it. There's a lot of subjectivity around what goes into a good resume, but there are also some major errors that can turn off recruiters or hiring managers. Here are five common resume mistakes to avoid:
1. Formatting issues
Sending out a resume online can be nerve-wracking, considering the entire process seems rather nebulous. Once your resume is submitted, there's no way of knowing how much time a hiring manager spends looking over it. However, if you don't format your resume appropriately, they may not look at it at all. When submitting applications online, make sure that your resume is in the proper format (.doc, PDF, etc.) so that your application doesn't get discounted. Also consider that complex elements such as charts, graphs, headers and footers may not automatically format into the application system.
2. Not aligning your profiles
If your resume and professional profiles have disparate information, it can make you look untruthful or show a lack of attention to detail. The information on your resume, LinkedIn profile, portfolio and other professional materials should all corroborate. This doesn't mean you should just cut and paste your resume across different platforms online, but you should make sure that your name and contact information are consistent and that your professional qualifications line up.
3. Listing skills at the bottom
Once you've listed all of your past work experience and education on your resume, it's easy to try and sandwich in a list of skills near the bottom of the document. Your skills shouldn't be an afterthought, place them in the top third of your resume so that they catch the attention of recruiters. Remember that hiring managers like to see keywords and relevant skills that immediately distinguish you as a viable candidate for the position.
4. Adding irrelevant information
Listing hobbies, interests and other personal information only makes sense if it's directly related to the position. Your resume has a very finite amount of space, and rather than add frivolous information, stick to info that's relevant. For new job seekers, it may be hard to fill up an entire page with professional qualifications. In this situation, remember that white space can be a valuable asset on your resume as well. Use spacing to draw attention to important details on your resume rather than clutter it with random activities.
5. Using an objective
Putting an objective at the top of your resume has become somewhat outdated and generally doesn't convey the image you are hoping to achieve. Instead, opt for an executive summary that provides a general description of your skills, accomplishments and qualifications. While it can be a daunting task to summarize your resume in one or two sentences, this will ultimately be much more valuable than an objective. Think about it this way: A summary tells an employer what you bring to the table, whereas an objective expresses to employers what you want. The former shows initiative and demonstrates that you're ready to take on new challenges. The latter has an inherently selfish quality.
Overall, make sure your resume is precise and customize it to fit every position for which you apply individually. Keep information relevant and consistent, and make sure your resume provides recruiters and hiring managers with tangible evidence of your abilities.
While you may be able to easily prepare for common interview questions, sometimes an interviewer will ask you something you simply won't see coming. This may seem like nothing more than an attempt to throw you off your game, but there's usually some logic behind these inquiries. Though you may not be able to plan out an answer for this type of question, you can still answer articulately in a way that will impress potential employers. Here are three examples of odd questions interviewers may ask you and the reasons they may be asking them:
1. Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?
Asking this type of question allows an employer to learn a couple things about you. First, it serves as an opportunity to see how you react on the fly. Most positions require flexibility and adaptability, especially in high-pressure situations. Consider this type of question a chance to show off your problem-solving and improvisation skills. Moreover, if you come up with several probable answers to this type of question, it shows interviewers that you have the ability to logically approach a problem.
2. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
This question is a bit more lighthearted. An interviewer may ask an inquiry such as this so he or she can gauge what kind of personality you have. Not only does this type of question give you an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity, but also provides an opening to tell interviewers more about yourself. When addressing questions such as this, don't feel inhibited, rather answer honestly and explain why you would opt for a specific choice.
3. How many snow shovels were sold in the US last year?
Similar to the tennis ball question, asking this type of inquiry gives you a chance to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. While it may seem like a good idea just to take a random guess, instead take your time and talk through the problem. Explain your thought process to the interviewer so he or she can see that you're taking the time to think it through and work out the details.
Anytime you are asked a question that might be challenging or unorthodox, take the time to answer it thoughtfully. This will prove to interviewers that you will approach tasks with intelligence and dedication.
If you're looking to find your first job and break into your career, the entire job hunting process might seem new and complicated. It can be challenging to know exactly where to look for jobs and how to make contact with key hiring personnel. In many cases, simply finding open positions that you're passionate about may be a challenge. However, this is partially because many of the most desirable job openings never make it to major job boards. Rather than spend time digging through dozens of outdated posts, use niche job boards and other strategies to locate the position of your dreams. This can be a confusing concept for many novice job seekers, because sending out resumes on the Internet feels like action. While filling out applications for hours may seem like progress, it is often a fruitless venture. In fact, when you apply to unadvertised positions, there is often a better possibility of getting an interview. Here are five tips for seeking out unadvertised position openings:
1. Use your network
A majority of jobs are found through networking. At the end of the day, you likely have friends and acquaintances with common interests, some of which may work in the same industry you're hoping to enter. It's important to identify people in your network that can inform you of unadvertised job openings and may be able to introduce you to recruiters and hiring managers in your industry. Attend networking events and meet a wide range of people to help ensure you remain abreast of new job openings.
2. Create a list of desirable companies
The companies you dream of working for might not post listings on large job boards. In many cases, companies that receive lots of applicants and job inquiries may only post openings on industry-specific job boards or on their own websites. This makes it easy for them to identify who is taking the time to seek out their company specifically. Create a list of 10 or 20 businesses at which you would love to work. This list will give you a resource to refer back to at anytime, and then you can go through and browse the job listings on each company's website individually.
3. Be active on social media
It's easy to set up social media accounts and update them occasionally. However, it can be a bit more challenging to regularly post and exchange information via these platforms. Using forums such as LinkedIn and Twitter to actively engage with other users, share news and showcase thought leadership can attract recruiters and potential employers. In particular, recruiters are generally active on these websites to scout out talent and find candidates to fill positions. If you use these sites passively, you'll potentially get looked over by these key hiring professionals.
4. Get out of the house
It might seem logical to sit down at your desk and dedicate yourself to several hours of filling out applications. Yet, isolating yourself means you're not interacting with other professionals and potentially missing out on networking opportunities. While at times it may be important to sit down and fill out paperwork, don't rest your entire job search on submitting resumes online.
5. Volunteer and find other projects
Seeking out volunteer opportunities or professional side projects can be beneficial to your job search. Not only do these ventures allow you do more networking, but they also give you a chance to demonstrate your professional skills and work ethic.
While you're in high school or college, a summer internship is a great way to gain some professional experience and have something to put on your resume. However, while internships are quickly becoming a norm for students and new job seekers, not every internship results in a job offer. Entering an internship under this false assumption would be foolhardy. Instead, consider an internship an opportunity to make yourself indispensable. Prove that you are not only ready for a full time position, but also deserving of it. Here are five tips for turning your summer internship into a possible job offer:
1. Ask questions
Remember that an internship is a learning experience. Since you're brand new to the workforce, odds are you'll have lots of questions and be unsure of how to approach certain tasks. Rather than waste time trying to figure it out on your own, take opportunities to learn from your superiors. This practice will also help you demonstrate engagement in the position and learn the ins and outs of the business. Make sure to take notes that you can refer back to as well.
2. Show off your professionalism
In the professional world, it's often easy to separate an intern from the rest of the workers. Many students are accustomed to a relaxed work environment, informal dress code and (in some cases) showing up hungover. However, approaching your internship with a laid back attitude can potentially suggest to your employer that you're not ready to take on more responsibility. It's important to act as if the internship is a full time position and convey professionalism. To do so, follow the same dress code as the rest of the employees, use proper business etiquette in the workplace and adhere to the expected office hours.
This is something you should be doing throughout the entirety of your internship. Rather than try to connect with everyone on your last day, meet people through the duration of your time with the company. Always use a professional tone and interact with people with which you don't work directly. Also take the time to network with other interns. Remember that even if there's not a full time position available for you with the company after your internship ends, the connections you make may recommend you for another position or pass on their praise.
4. Choose an internship with potential
It's easy to say yes to the first internship that comes along, but consider how the program is structured before you dive in. Some companies may only offer temporary student internships on a rotating basis without having any real intention of hiring on anyone full time. Consider as well if the place you are interning is somewhere you can actually see yourself working afterward.
5. Keep in touch
If your internship ends and a position isn't available at the time, don't get discouraged. Getting offered a full time position after an internship can sometimes be nothing more than a matter of timing. Be persistent and keep in contact with people from the company to stay abreast of any positions that open up. Furthermore, staying in contact helps ensure that if there is an opening, hiring managers may already have you in mind. To stay in touch, make sure you find appropriate and professional ways of asking for contact information near the end of your internship. Moreover, this gives you an opportunity to send your coworkers and employers thank you notes once your internship has come to a close.
If you're trying to find a new job the Internet seems like a logical place to begin. After all, the world wide web is loaded with job boards and company websites, making it easy to fall down the rabbit hole of sending out resumes en masse, squandering away hours hitting send. In some ways, this is a logical human instinct. More sent resumes will lead to more potential phone calls leading to more interviews and then a job offer. However, odds are a significant percentage of your applications get skimmed over if read at all. More so, there are probably hundreds of other applications who have applied to the same position, making it hard for you to stand out in the crowd. At the end of the day, the Internet is an important resource, but should not be your sole line of attack.
Use your network
When you're looking for a job, consider who you know that can help you in your search. Look to family, friends, colleagues, former classmates and other acquaintances for an in. If you find your dream job browsing the Internet, ask yourself if you have any connections to the company. Do you have a friend or family member that works there? Do you have any LinkedIn connections that have worked there previously? Before just sending in a resume willy-nilly, look at the company website. Is the company hosting an event in the near future? If so, attending might be a perfect opportunity to make a connection and score an interview.
Attend professional events
Meeting people in a face-to-face setting is incredibly important when looking for a job. If you sit in front of a computer screen all day filling out applications, you're potentially missing out on opportunities to interact with potential employers. Moreover, isolating yourself during your hunt may dull your social skills and make it challenging to talk with peers and higher ups. Attend professional events such as career fairs regularly to make in person connections and make an impression. Invest in business cards so you have a physical document to give to hiring managers. This will have a lasting impact and encourage name recognition. Request informational interviews for a chance to meet with recruiters and hiring managers one-on-one. Overall, pushing yourself to expand your job search from a computer screen to the real world will help you seek employment more holistically.
It's good practice to get in the habit of sending thank you notes to those who help you during the course of your career, whether it's someone helping you network or an internal contact at a company that pushed your resume to the top of the pile. Yet, what is of utmost importance is always sending a thank you note to those you interview with while searching for a job. This form of recognition does way more than express gratitude to the person or people that took the time to speak with you, but also makes the interview an ongoing conversation. In fact, in some cases otherwise perfect candidates may lose out on a job simply for overlooking this basic matter of etiquette. To ensure you don't lose out on your dream job, here are some tips on sending a thank you note after an interview:
Never write a thank you note in advance
A thank you note should always be personal and customized to relate back to your interview and the company potentially hiring you. Generic thank you notes written in advance come off as lazy and uninterested. Essentially, though you may intend to demonstrate initiative, it comes off as indifferent and fails to further address what was discussed during your interview.
Email or snail mail are OK
A thank you note via email has become an acceptable form for such a document. However, if a company is more traditional, a handwritten thank you note may go a long way. Emails are advantageous when you're trying to communicate quickly, and they are also generally more convenient, whereas handwritten notes may take a day or two to arrive through the postal service. For this reason, handwritten thank you notes should be sent as soon as possible after an interview.
Go beyond saying thank you
While graciousness is important, you taking the time to interview was necessary for the company as well. Besides expressing thanks, you should emphasize memorable details about your interview, continued interest in the available position and your understanding of the next steps in the hiring process. Don't forget to include your contact information as well.
Don't send gifts or use the phone
Sending any type of gift puts a hiring manager in an uncomfortable situation. Avoid mailing anything more than a professionally worded note. Also, don't try to thank a hiring manager via phone call or text message – a phone call will interrupt their busy day and a text message is impersonal and inappropriate.