CAREEREALISM http://www.careerealism.com Career Advice & Job Search Magazine Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:14:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 This is weekly program whether career expert J.T. O'Donnell reviews skills and techniques needed to succeed in your career. She also answers question live from our views. Tune in Tuesdays at 1pm ET on www.careerealism.com to join our weekly Career Q&A! CAREEREALISM clean CAREEREALISM info@careerealism.com info@careerealism.com (CAREEREALISM) Career Q&A with J.T. O'Donnell CAREEREALISM http://www.careerealism.com/home/jtodonnell/careerealism.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/CTV_Podcast_Image-01.png http://www.careerealism.com 5 Tips For Building Your Brand On LinkedIn http://www.careerealism.com/building-your-brand-linkedin-tips/ http://www.careerealism.com/building-your-brand-linkedin-tips/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:14:38 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=39731 Personal branding helps you stand out. On LinkedIn, this means building a “Brand You” platform. Here are some tips for building your brand on LinkedIn.

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There are more than 300 million LinkedIn users in over 200 countries. How can you possibly stand out in a crowd that large? The answer lies in your personal brand. Who are you and what do you stand for? What have you achieved throughout your career? By building a stronger LinkedIn brand you can attract more attention from recruiters and open the door to more career possibilities.

Related: 10-Minute LinkedIn Makeover

Personal branding as a concept was first described by author and management expert Tom Peters who said, “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

The Personal Branding Wiki defines branding as “the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal. In this way, individuals can enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.”

5 Tips For Building Your Brand On LinkedIn

Branding matters because it helps you to differentiate yourself. On LinkedIn, this means building a “Brand You” platform. Here are some tips for building your brand on LinkedIn:

1. Choose your brand focus

The key place to highlight your career targets is your LinkedIn headline. At a minimum, yours should contain your target title(s), industry(ies), #1 geographic preference, and skill keywords. Since you only have 120 characters to work with, you will have to keep your headline brief. Here are a couple of examples that show different ways to achieve this goal.

Headline sample #1 (117 characters): Senior Operations Executive/CEO in Chicago Electronics Manufacturing Sector | Excel at Lean Six Sigma Transformations

Headline sample #2 (120 characters): Saved >$750M & positioned >$3.5B in bio-tech sales | Healthcare IT Exec | CIO/CISO/CTO | Open to US or global relocation

There are several important things to note about these examples:

  • Non-critical words are omitted to make every syllable count.
  • A divider is used in place of a semi-colon to increase readability.
  • Title abbreviations and other keywords make up 98% of their content.
  • The first example summarizes the candidates career targets and key skills while the second emphasizes achievements.
  • These kinds of headlines are easily used by those who are job searching overtly. If you’re in a covert search, you may need to tone down or eliminate one or more elements to achieve the level of self-marketing you’re most comfortable with.

2. Prove your UVP

If your claim to fame is generating sales, then your LinkedIn profile needs to prove your abilities to do so. Use your summary to deliver that proof through mini achievement statements or by structuring your whole summary as one or more CAR stories (Challenge – Actions – Results). Utilize personality adjectives, quotes, awards, career credentials/pedigree, or thought leadership to make your case. You might want to check out these summary mini-templates for more help in this area.

  • Use personal adjectives sparingly and choose them very carefully. All you need is one to three great descriptors, which should of course be the most relevant characteristics you possess in relation to your targeted career(s).
  • Don’t repeat LinkedIn testimonials, but do consider adding additional quotes about your background and capabilities. You can draw these from emails, verbal expressions, thank you letters, letters of recommendation, or performance evaluations. Giving insight into how others think about you helps communicate your brand.
  • If possess key degrees or certifications that are relevant to your career goal(s), note them in your summary. Or, if you have experience working for industry-leading companies in your field, make mention of those experiences.
  • If you are a current or emerging thought leader in your industry with some combination of speaking, training, honors/awards, or publications to your name, it is vital to highlight this briefly in your summary.

3. Infuse your profile with keywords

By now you have hopefully heard how important keywords are to an effective and brand-driven LinkedIn profile. Because the LinkedIn search algorithm sources keywords from different locations in your profile, it’s important to include them throughout:

  • Headline: I’ve already noted this so I won’t belabor the point, but it is imperative to include industry-relevant keywords in your headline.
  • Summary: Likewise, they must be used throughout your profile. You will often also see folks adding a Skills or Specialties “section” in their profile, which is another great way to boost your profile’s keywords.
  • Position Titles: LinkedIn allows you to use up to 98 characters in your title spaces so this is a legitimate way to sneak in still more keywords. Adding a short list of key skills used in the role after your title would be a great strategy.
  • Position Descriptions: In addition to or instead of weaving keywords into your position titles, you can also insert them as a list within your job descriptions. LinkedIn allows you 2000 characters per position, so this should be plenty of space to incorporate multiple keywords per role.
  • Skills & Endorsements: This skills section is one of the most critical keyword pieces of real estate on LinkedIn. Hence it’s vital that you identify 50 keywords encompassing your target industry(ies) and insert them in this section. Make sure you move the most relevant keywords toward the top of your list to cultivate endorsements. And also make sure you use alternative phrasing for your most critical keywords. If you excel at relationship management, for example, try including stakeholder management in your list as well, so regardless of which term is used your profile will rank higher.
  • Additional Sections: Don’t overlook additional keyword placement in the extra sections LinkedIn allows you to add to your profile. If you just finished an MBA, for example, why not list some of your courses? This will embed more keywords for you. Listing recent professional development coursework and associations also helps.

4. Request brand-focused testimonials

Did you know that LinkedIn identifies the keywords used in the testimonials others have written about you and counts them toward the total that helps rank your profile in searches? When soliciting testimonials from current and former managers, colleagues, clients, and peers, you’ll find it helps if you gently direct their testimonial toward select keywords.

If you worked on a project with a colleague, for example, ask them to focus their testimonial on your project management skills. Not only will this boost your LinkedIn keyword count, it will also make your testimonial more insightful for your profile readers.

5. Share brand-driven status/group updates

One of the most powerful ways to bolster your LinkedIn brand is to share regular updates or resources via the status update or Group discussion forums, yet only .4% of users ever share, say, a blog post they enjoyed. Sharing updates and prompting or participating in Group discussions helps broadcast your brand throughout the greater LinkedIn community if you use them wisely. Considering that sharing such resources gently reminds your network about your brand and your capabilities without overtly hitting them over the head with your expertise, how can you afford not to do so?

It’s important to stand out on LinkedIn, but it’s even more important to stand out for the right reasons – ideally for your history of achievements and measurable impacts to date. And if you’re worried that you shouldn’t do so because it appears that hardly anyone else is, remember that in today’s strained economy you must stand out to get invited in for interviews. Besides, why follow the crowd when you can lead and get rewarded for your brand in the process?

Related Posts

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7 Ways To Meet New People (And Have Fun Doing It) http://www.careerealism.com/ways-meet-new-people/ http://www.careerealism.com/ways-meet-new-people/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 05:10:08 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=34389 It can be hard to meet new people, but it can be done! Stop making excuses. Check out these fun ways to expand your social and professional network.

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It can be hard to meet new people. You might not think you have the time, patience, or social confidence to go out and build your network on a whim. Who does?

Related: 5 Reasons You Should Network With People Who AREN’T In Your Industry

Don’t let negative self-talk bring you down and stop making excuses for not going out and meeting new friends and/or professional contacts. You can do it (and have fun doing it, too)!

7 Ways To Meet New People

So, where can you meet new people? Here are some ideas for ways to meet new people:

1. While You’re Practicing Your Presenting Skills

Toastmasters is a great program, especially if you want to meet others. The group brings together a diverse group of individuals with the same goal: to improve their speaking skills. Although it may sound intimidating to practice your public speaking skills to a room of random people, the groups are typically very understanding friendly. Remember, even the best speakers probably had a shaky start, otherwise they wouldn’t have joined.

Make an effort to go to the meetings and learn about the people in the group – you never know who will be a valuable contact in the future!

2. While You’re Competing

If you love competition, join a sports club or league! It’s easier for some people to connect with others while in a team setting. This is a fun way to meet new people, play new sports, and learn how to work on a team.

3. While You’re Sipping A Brew

Whether you enjoy a fancy cocktail or you’re content with a beer, there are plenty of opportunities for networking. Events that surround drinking are fun because people are typically laid-back and more willing to socialize.

Here are some ideas for events to look out for:

  • Local beer tours
  • Booze cruises
  • Bar crawls
  • Beer and wine tastings
  • Cocktail parties

4. While You’re Breaking A Sweat

Okay, I never really understood why people tried to meet others at the gym. Honestly, the last thing I want to do is talk to someone when I’m on the treadmill, jamming out to Katy Perry, and sweating like it’s my job!

…But that’s just me.

Instead, join a fitness class. It’s more of a social setting and the classes are usually pretty fun and diverse.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Zumba
  • CrossFit

Of course, there are a ton of other awesome classes out there, so check your local fitness clubs!

5. While You’re Helping Out

Volunteering in your community is a great way to meet new friends and professional contacts. You could do anything from event planning to building houses. Check out what volunteer opportunities are available in your area by going online or scouting out the bulletin boards around town!

6. While You’re Learning

What are you interested in? What do you want to learn more about? Whether it’s on social media or pottery, try taking a class. Check out what classes and workshops are being offered in your area. This is a great way to meet new people with similar interests as you! (Cool idea: paint along classes. These classes are gaining popularity – you learn to paint while sipping an alcoholic beverage!)

7. While You’re Exploring

What’s happening in your area? Is there a chili cook-off this weekend? Is a local band playing at your favorite bar? Is there an art show? Does your local park have picnics, festivals, or outdoor plays? Find out what’s going on in your town and go check it out. Then, talk to people working, volunteering, or attending the event to learn more about it!

How To Find Events And Groups

So, now you know where to meet people, but how do you find out where to find these groups, events? Well, in addition to talking with your existing network about the local happenings, try these ideas:

Meetup.Com

Meetup.com is a huge network that helps local groups come together, face-to-face. It’s a great tool for anyone looking to meet new people or try new things.

Here are just a few of the many types of groups that you can find on Meetup:

  • Professional groups
  • Recreational sports
  • Hobby clubs
  • Social outings

Want to start a book club in your area? Meetup makes it easy to do that, too! Not only can you find awesome, local groups with the click of a button, but you can also organize your own group.

Local Bulletin Boards

While you’re at the supermarket or post office, be sure to take five minutes to check out the bulletin board. You’ll find things like brochures, business cards, and flyers from local groups, businesses, and events. There’s probably something you’d be interested in doing and/or learning more about!

Twitter & Facebook

Like or follow local social media accounts to see what’s happening in your area. This is a great way to get information on local happenings.

Here are some types of accounts to start following:

  • The local paper
  • The chamber of commerce
  • Local organizations, groups, and businesses

Groupon & Living Social

These coupon sites offer awesome deals on local outings, events, lessons, memberships, hotels, and bars and restaurants. You can find great deals on things like horseback riding lessons, fitness memberships, and local outings or events.

(This summer, I got coupons for a parasailing trip, a Boston harbor cruise, and tons of local restaurants!)

Even if you don’t end up getting the coupon, you can still get awesome outing ideas from these websites!

What are your favorite ways to meet new people? Tell us in the comments below!

Related Posts

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5 Ways To Meet New Professional Contacts
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5 Ways To Say ‘No’ Effectively http://www.careerealism.com/art-skill-effectively/ http://www.careerealism.com/art-skill-effectively/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 04:50:17 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=10555 Saying "no" in a way that is respectful but firm is a key skill you can develop - It's also an art. Here are five ways to say "no" effectively.

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We all get bombarded with requests and demands for our attention and our time. Learning to say “No” in a way that is respectful but firm is a key skill you can develop to handle those requests you simply do not have time for (or the knowledge to do effectively).

Related: 4 Tips For Becoming The Co-Worker Everyone Loves

I recently re-read the book, The Power of a Positive No, written by William Ury. His book offers great advice and tips for how to say “No” with grace and effect. In his book, William offers the following specific phrases you can use to say “No” to the demands of others in a manner that is appreciative and flows naturally and sincerely:

“No” Or “No Thanks.”

Directness has its place, but it can also be expressed gracefully. Adding the word “thanks” to your “no” shows respect and care for the relationship.

“I Have A Policy.”

Examples include, “I have a policy to never lend money to friends or family members,” or, “I have a policy to never make significant purchases without first speaking to my wife (or husband, or partner).”

“I Have Plans.”

A great concrete everyday phrase that can affirm your interests as well as you power without spoiling your relationship is, “I already have plans,” or, “I have another event I’ve committed to that evening.”

“Not Now.”

Maybe another time. This softens the blow of a “No” and leaves the door open to a future request. “Not now” should only be used in those cases where there does exist a real possibility for addressing the others’ needs in the future.

“I Prefer To Decline Rather Than Do A Poor Job.”

When you decline rather than do a poor job, you are not only affirming your own interests but also paying attention to the relationship. You would both be worse off, and so would your relationship, if you say “Yes” and then a job that turns out to be much less than satisfactory.

Know your limits and acknowledge them freely. Spend your time doing what you do well and what is truly best for you. Both you and the other will be better off in the long run.

Related Posts

3 Steps To Genuine Productivity At Work
5 Tips For Dealing With An Annoying Co-Worker
3 Tips For Multitasking Smarter, Not Harder

 


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5 Conversations You Must Have With A New Boss http://www.careerealism.com/conversations-new-boss/ http://www.careerealism.com/conversations-new-boss/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 05:23:06 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=34370 Congratulations! You're starting a new job. It’s an exciting time, but also an uncertain time. Building a relationship with your new boss is crucial.

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Congratulations! You’re starting a new job. It’s an exciting time, sure, but also an uncertain time. There are so many questions: Will my responsibilities match the job description? Will I mesh with the new team?  Will they recognize my prior experience?  Will I be successful in my new role?

Related: 4 Phrases Your Boss LOVES To Hear

These are questions that time and on-the-job experience will answer, right?

Sure… to an extent.

While time and “just jumping in” with the team will ease some of those new-hire insecurities, the key element to beginning a new role is building a solid relationship with your manager.  Regardless of the “rockstar” status you possess in your industry or with a previous job, your prestigious degree, or even the years of experience that fill your resume, your manager is the gateway to success in your new role.

Some managers are better than others at nurturing a new employee. Right now, you’re probably thinking of a time when you started a new job, and your direct supervisor was, for all intents and purposes, non-existent.

Sidenote: If you are a manager and this describes you, take this bit of tough-love advice: Your employees deserve better than that. They need you. Be the manager you would want to work for.  Take a moment to ponder that.

Building a relationship with your new manager isn’t complicated. It must be intentional, genuine, and built on a foundation of respect. As a new employee, ideally you should be spending some time with your manager every day for the first couple of weeks, even if only for a brief check-in. These meetings are ideal opportunities to jump-start the dialogue.  Here are five simple conversations you need to have with your boss when you start a new role:

1. Why Me?

Naturally, you were the most qualified among the applicants, right? Chances are, more went into the decision than simply your thoughtful interview answers, dazzling wit, and well-tailored suit. The hiring manager saw something in you that s/he felt would add value to the team. Find out why you were chosen, and spend each day proving that value.

2. How Can I learn?

Onboarding does not end with New Employee Orientation. Orientation is an event. Onboarding is a process – a learning process that should embrace a new employee in three ways:

  • Welcome the new employee to the COMPANY
  • Acquaint the new employee with the TEAM
  • Immerse the new employee into the ROLE

Like any new job, there is so much to learn about the company you’ve just joined, the team you are now a part of, and the role that you will be filling. Your manager should provide guidance, resources, and an opportunity to learn. With your manager, create a learning plan that will integrate you into your new role.

3. What’s The Plan?

Chances are your manager had a plan in place prior to your arrival. Spend time with your manager discussing this plan. Seek out opportunities to secure quick wins that will propel your credibility, but also create long-term, measurable goals that will impact the team and company. Ask your manager what your departmental and organizational objectives are, and ensure that your personal goals are clearly aligned.

4. I Need Your Feedback, And You Need Mine

Transparency is a key element to any successful relationship. Asking your manager for feedback and guidance will strengthen your alliance, and help ensure that you are meeting (and hopefully exceeding) expectations. While receiving feedback is important, so is providing feedback to your manager. This transparency breeds trust between an employee and manager. Remember, ask permission to provide feedback to your manager, and keep it respectful and relevant.

5. Be My Champion, And I’ll Be Yours

One of the greatest things an employee can do is to make his/her manager look good. To make that manager’s job a bit easier. And, of course, to give that manager something to brag about. What are you doing to support your manager? What are his goals for his own role – or for his future path within the organization? How can you help him be successful? Demonstrating a little selfless benevolence can go a long way to securing your own success.

Five simple conversations. Five opportunities to clarify expectations and build a solid partnership from the beginning. Take the time to get to know your manager, and help him/her affirm his/her decision that you are the right person for the job.

You are, after all.

Related Posts

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5 Ways To Be Smarter With Your Job Search http://www.careerealism.com/5-ways-smarter-job-search/ http://www.careerealism.com/5-ways-smarter-job-search/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:00:48 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=11215 Job seekers: there is no doubt you are facing a very challenging time. Here are five ways you can be smarter about your job search.

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Job seekers, there is no doubt you are facing a very challenging time. Whether you have 20 years of experience or only a year, the pressure is on. But realize it is not impossible to find opportunities, despite our current economic standing.

Related: Should Job Seekers Take A Vacation?

You have to go the extra mile to show employers you are the right fit. A few years ago, employers could handle the risk of hiring the wrong fit, but today it is very different. The cost to let an employee go and hire another is very high. Employers want to pick the right fit the first time around.

5 Ways To Be Smarter With Your Job Search

Here are my job search tips to help you stand out:

1. Determine Your Brand And Value Proposition

What will you bring to the employer? What makes you better than the rest? This needs to be communicated in your resume, cover letter, interview, and even as you network. Have your elevator speech down. If you met the CEO of your dream company and had 30 seconds to talk about yourself, what would you say?

2. Utilize Free Career-Related Workshops Offered In Your City

Services that can cost hundreds of dollars are available at no cost (or very small fees) from organizations looking to help out job seekers in transition. Do your research! You might be able to get assistance with resume development, interview preparation, networking effectively, and much more for free. If you are in Portland or Washington, stay tuned to my site for information regarding events coming up in the area.

3. Research Every Organization Before You Submit Your Resume

You need to know about these companies well before an interview. It shows your professionalism and more importantly your interest in the company. Employers want employees who will love their company, not just the job. This will help you stand out by showing you are genuinely interested in the organization and you will be ready to hit the ground running day one.

Don’t just check out the company’s website. Read articles on the company and create Google News alerts for companies you wish to work for. Your goal is to impress the employer with your knowledge of their company.

4. Join LinkedIn

Job seekers are having amazing luck on LinkedIn. Recruiters, headhunters, hiring managers and others with hiring decision power are recruiting via this site. Make sure you are taking advantage of every aspect of LinkedIn. Many resumes and business cards will have a link to a LinkedIn profile. This is a requirement. Create your profile today.

You can also use LinkedIn to find out more about a company and their employees. I know some job seekers use the site to become more familiar with the person they will be interviewing with. You can also use it as a powerful networking tool and meet people who have similar interests as your own.

5. Create Flawless Documents

Resumes, cover letters, thank you letters, websites, social networking sites, portfolios and any other tool you are using to market yourself must be perfect. I know this seems like an obvious one, but typos and grammar issues are pet peeves of employers today. If you can, get the advice of someone in the industry you are looking to go into. Again, all marketing tools need to be 100% error free and be relevant to the industry you are applying for.

Related Posts

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Is Your Resume A Career Obituary? http://www.careerealism.com/resume-obituary-career/ http://www.careerealism.com/resume-obituary-career/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:00:18 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=20415 To write an effective resume, don’t begin by looking back over your shoulder to see where you have been. Don't write an obituary of your career.

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Don’t let your resume be like this career obituary.

Related: 7 Ways Your Resume Is Boring Just Like Everyone Else’s

Peter A. Professional’s Career, 2000 – 2012

Here lies Peter Professional’s career. A victim of the current recession, Peter’s career has been on life support since a layoff from a healthcare consulting firm. Prior to its final demise, Peter took his career through a stint as a personal fitness trainer and ended it working as a car salesman with a luxury-car dealership.

Peter was a graduate of a prestigious university where he earned a degree in integrated science and technology. He immediately began employment as a tumor biology lab technician where he worked for two years before joining the consulting firm. While there, he “utilized empirical data and statistically significant best practices to influence positive change for client’s capital efficiencies.”

In addition to the above, Peter was a certified phlebotomist, published numerous medical research papers, and played high school soccer. Peter’s Career was only seven years old. In lieu of flowers, please send condolences to the guidance counselors and college advisors who failed to help Peter find his best career fit and the writer who created the erratic document referred to as his “resume.”

I hope you get the picture. Although the name is obviously fictional, the rest of the information is unfortunately true. I know this, because I took it directly from his resume.

Like many professionals, Peter never thought of his resume as a marketing document that targeted a specific audience with a promise of adding value. “I’m not really sure yet what I want to do,” he told me, “so I figured I’d just put it all in there so an employer could figure out how to use me.” And they sure did “use” him!

To write an effective resume, don’t begin by looking back over your shoulder to see where you have been.

I suspect your career path, like Peter’s, was rarely a straight line. Most careers zig and zag in many directions. Take some time to delve deeply into all of your experience.

Look for common themes.

  • What knowledge and skills did you most enjoy using that you want to take to your next job?
  • What types of problems do you most enjoy solving?
  • What words do others use to describe you?
  • What specific details can you pull from your experience to illustrate your answers? If you don’t know, you can hire a professional to help you.

Identify your target audience.

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • Who are their customers and what problems do they specialize in solving?
  • Talk to people in the industry. Read business and industry news. Print out job announcements and begin making a list of the knowledge, skills and experience employers seek in candidates.

Look for crossovers.

  • Who you are and what do you offer compared to what the employer wants and needs?
  • Identify the point where these two paths intersect and begin writing your resume from there.
  • When you look at your past, choose those items that are most relevant to your future and craft the content of your resume around them.

Don’t let your career suffer an untimely death – or worse yet, linger on life support for years (maybe even decades). Look ahead, identify your target, and then assemble and deploy the tools you need to get there. Make sure one of those tools is a well-crafted, strategically focused, and uniquely branded resume!

Related Posts

4 Horrible Resume Writing Tips To Avoid
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4 Ways To Stop Being A Control Freak http://www.careerealism.com/control-freak/ http://www.careerealism.com/control-freak/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 05:40:15 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=16121 Are you a control freak? Stop making excuses for your behavior and start improving your management style. Here are some helpful tips.

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I’m the first person to admit I’m a control freak. It’s not like I can hide it anyway. If you’ve known me for even a short period of time, chances are you’ve seen me in action. And no, I’m not proud. Being a control freak isn’t a good thing. In fact, some might call it downright annoying.

Related: The 8 Delegation Myths Of The Office

I used to make excuses for it:

“I can’t help it!” I’d say. “That’s just the way I am!”

But, ya know what? That’s not altogether true. I know when I’m being overly controlling. I feel it. Just like an alcoholic yearns for one more drink, I crave control in any situation. I see myself jumping in, taking charge, directing the flow of traffic. It’s cringe-worthy at times. And yet, I just continue to do it.

So recently, I decided to take control (release control) of the situation by exploring the causes and creating strategies for how I can improve my behavior. If you’re in a similar boat, I encourage you to do the same. After all, being a control freak isn’t as likeable as it sounds.

Why Am I Such A Freak?

So, is there a reason for this kind of character trait? (Note: we’re not going to call it a “flaw.” It’s just a thing that could be improved, okay?) Where does it come from?

After a little research (and some self-reflection), I’ve discovered that most control issues stem from a few things. See if any of the following statements ring true for you:

  • I have incredibly high standards and I don’t trust others to uphold them.
  • I have high anxiety and taking a leadership role makes me feel more comfortable and calm.
  • I have a fear of disorganization, failure, and chaos. If I’m in control and bad things happen, it’s my own fault. And I trust myself more than others to keep the bad stuff away.
  • I have a love of the spotlight. By taking control, I often get all the credit or appreciation for a job well done.
  • I have a big ego. I like to be in a position to show off my skills.
  • I like to feel needed. Being the one in control makes my presence seem more important.

Obviously, the items on this list aren’t very flattering. Don’t worry; no judgment here.

It’s also pretty easy to see that these issues might cause some problems.

What’s Wrong With It?

I used to tell myself that being a control freak wasn’t such a big deal. Only, it is. And here’s why:

It Can Seriously Damage Your Relationships

Think about it: When you try to control every situation, even if it’s not your intention, others start to worry that you don’t trust them. They also get sick of following your lead. You may notice friends and family starting to pull away from you, getting irritated or exasperated. Or perhaps they’ve simply given up and accepted you’re the one who gets control. That’s not really fair to them and, ultimately, they could end up resenting you for it.

It Can Cause You Emotional, Mental, And Physical Stress

And most of the time, it’s completely unnecessary! When we always feel like we have to be in control of the world around us every second of every day, we’re adding a tremendous amount of pressure to our lives. We do it to ourselves and it’s just not healthy.

So, What Can I Do?

If you’re a control freak (like me) I have a few suggestions. These come from personal experience so trust me when I tell you they work. They’re not all easy to do, but if you’re dedicated to making a change, this is a great place to start.

1. Let Go Of Your Ego

Take yourself down a notch. You’re great, but so are others. You have to share the spotlight and let others use their skills. Believe it or not, you’re not the best at everything.

2. Delegate To Others

Start small. Train people how to do things if they aren’t familiar. See what it feels like to rely on others to do the work. And enjoy how good it feels to watch them blossom with the added confidence you’ve shown in them.

3. Acknowledge You Can’t Control Everything

Give yourself a break and learn to go with the flow now and again. Once you see everything works out just fine without your intervention, you’ll get more comfortable with the idea.

4. Completely Give Up Control In One Small Area Of Your Life

Make a conscious decision to completely give up control in one small area of your life. Maybe you’ll let others decide what’s for dinner. Maybe you’ll go on vacation without planning a single excursion. Maybe you’ll just take a walk without knowing where you’re going. Whatever you choose, let the circumstances and people around you take the lead. Bite your tongue, sit back and relax. You’re a passenger. Enjoy the view.

Now, it’s worth mentioning control isn’t always a horrible thing. It’s wonderful to take control at times, show off your leadership abilities and your decisive point-of-view. But there’s a point where it goes too far. Put yourself in check regularly.

And, if you’re constantly being told that you’re a control freak, don’t just write it off as an inescapable character trait. Take a few proactive steps to share the spotlight and hand the reins to someone else. Everyone, even you, will be better for it.

Related Posts

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4 Tips To Jump-Start Your Teaching Career http://www.careerealism.com/jump-start-teaching-career/ http://www.careerealism.com/jump-start-teaching-career/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 05:30:53 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=25813 Are you interested in a teaching career? The rewarding career requires some big decisions and lots of education. Here are 4 tips to get you started.

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It’s a thrilling experience to walk across the stage to receive your college diploma. However, graduating requires some major decision making. Where will you live? Where will you work? What job will you find the most fulfilling?

Related: Why Teaching Is Not A Back-Up Career

If you have decided that you want to become a teacher, then you can look forward to a satisfying teaching career enriching the lives of youth. But it’s not as simple as applying for any position that looks interesting and waiting to hear back from an administrator. The path to becoming a teacher is rigorous, and you need to meet specific state certification requirements as well as compete for your desirable position. Here are some tips to jump-start your teaching career:

1. Do Your Research

You need to choose what kind of teacher you would like to be, and the possibilities are enormous. Decide whether you are best suited for elementary, middle, or secondary levels. If you would prefer older students, decide what subject your undergraduate degree would best match (math, science, English, social studies, art, etc), this way you will not be spending thousands of dollars on an additional degree. If you have the opportunity, talk to working teachers to find out more about their day-to-day responsibilities.

You also need to consider where the opportunities are. Special education teachers, for example, are more in demand than social studies teachers. Some larger cities are more eager for teachers in every content area than others. To find out where the demand is, visit Teach.com, which hosts details on high-demand occupations and in-demand areas.

2. Understand Certification Requirements

Once you know what and where you want to teach, you need to meet the specific certification requirements of teachers in that locale. Each state has a unique combination of course requirements and tests required for certification. You may need to student-teach, if you have not done so already. Certification Map is a resource that offers descriptions of the requirements of each state, including links to each respective state’s department of education, where you can find the exact details.

3. Look Into Master’s Programs

Embarking on the path to your master’s degree will increase your pedagogical knowledge and make you more desirable to prospective employment opportunities. If you do not have a teaching certificate, there are many master’s programs that you can enroll in to obtain both your certification and degree simultaneously.

4. How To Find A Job

There are several organizations that specifically help new graduates procure teaching positions. Teach For America will help train you to become a teacher by embarking on a two-year commitment to work in an under-served area. Americorps offers stipends and some loan forgiveness programs for tutoring high-needs students. The National Center for Alternative Certification helps you find a program that would get you certified through nontraditional and more flexible routes.

If you have completed your certification program and hope to find a position locally, Edutopia offers some tips on obtaining the job of your dreams, like hand-delivering your application to the school that you are interested in. You can also check the local want ads and employment websites. Often, schools list their current openings on their websites, or you can contact human resources departments for details. Also, make sure that your resume, application, and professional portfolio are impeccable and error free.

This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator, Sarah Fudin on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2tor – an education-technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as USC to deliver their Masters in Teaching degree online.

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How To Write A Hot Cover Letter http://www.careerealism.com/how-write-hot-cover-letter/ http://www.careerealism.com/how-write-hot-cover-letter/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 05:10:42 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=25158 In this new ADD world, your cover letter must be able to get someone’s attention in tweet-like speed. Find out how to do it right!

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“Focus,” said the master, “and the world will be yours…”

Related: Important Cover Letter Guidelines You Can’t Afford To Ignore

In today’s fast-paced working environment, focus has become a four-letter word. In a world where “multitask,” “app,” and 140 character tweets are creating a sensation nation that lives on caffeine, energy drinks, and coconut water, most HR professionals and employers destroyed their ability to focus years ago.

How To Write A Hot Cover Letter

“I can always be interrupted,” and “I regularly juggle 15 projects with no problem,” are the new words of wisdom. There isn’t any time to think and meditate deeply, and there probably isn’t time to read your cover letter. All marketing begins with audience and unless you are applying to be a yoga instructor, the likelihood is that your audience isn’t patient.

Would Your Cover Letter Retweet?

In this new ADD world, your cover letter must be able to get someone’s attention in tweet-like speed. The letter’s first few sentences needs to grab your reader. This is done predictably well using three different strategies:

  • Humor
  • Combining unexpected metaphors (used above)
  • Conveying an amazing new or original idea

For example, that first sentence might say, “I don’t want this job, I want yours.” Or “Six Sigma isn’t for sissies, it’s for singing scientists. I sing Opera in my spare time to keep my mind limber.” Or “Cracking Google Panda and Penguin was tons of fun; I simply applied the following algorithm…”

Bullet Points Are Better Than Butter

Once you have the reader’s attention, follow with a few filler sentences and then move on to bullet points succinctly describing why they should hire you, what you have done and what you want to do in the future. These might read something like:

  • Team player, basketball, baseball, and especially soccer.
  • Quick, agile thinker always willing to take on new tasks.
  • Increased monthly ROI in my division by 20%.
  • Developed 5 best-selling iPad apps over the last year.
  • Looking to learn server-side maintenance while also bringing valuable new products to your company.

Cover Letter Format: Move It, Move It, More

So far the cover letter is brief and filled with verbs. Even the most overworked, stressed out HR professional has probably made it this far. From here the rest is smooth sailing. Take the five bullet points and expand each one into detailed amazing paragraphs. Attach a resume with all the pertinent details for reference. If your reader wants more information they should be able to find it somewhere in these short few pages.

The format above is very different from the introduction, middle, and final paragraph format of the traditional cover letter. Make sure to review the traditional format and even prepare a traditional cover as backup. The person in HR will ask for this if he/she believes the bosses will not appreciate a divergence from the norm. The goal is to get the letter read and secure the phone interview. A world of little time and attention demands a new approach that is short, succinct, and vibrant.

Fit The Cover Letter To You And The Audience

The above example is very relaxed. This is a tech cover letter written for an industry that specializes in couch naps and campuses. As an industry they are receptive to this type of approach especially if it is attached to a resume showing work experience at Apple computer and a degree from MIT.

Every industry is different. Whenever a tailored cover letter fails to land a phone interview make a follow up call to find out why. Use the information gathered from rejection to write a better letter for the next position.

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5 Time Management Tips When Juggling Work And School http://www.careerealism.com/time-management-tips-work-school/ http://www.careerealism.com/time-management-tips-work-school/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:48:31 +0000 http://www.careerealism.com/?p=39719 If the stress of juggling school, work, and family is making life difficult, you are not alone. Here are five time management tips that will help you out.

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If the stress of juggling school, work, and family is making life difficult, you are not alone. In 2011, 71% of the nation’s 19.7 million college undergraduates also worked while getting a degree. Two in five worked at least 20 hours a week. One in five worked at for least 35 hours. A quarter have dependent children.

Related: 7 Tips For Juggling Work And Grad School

Not surprisingly, time-shortage is one of the biggest reasons for students dropping out before completing their degree. So how do you make sure that you stay the course? Here are top five tips for managing your time for academic – and professional – success.

1. Talk

Does your college offer courses that work with your life rather than against it? You’ll have a better chance of attaining your life goals if they do. So, talk with the admissions counselor and find out if courses are available online as well as in class, whether courses are flexible, and whether you can complete your program at your own pace. Many campuses offer help with time management, so try to find out what support is available. You could even consider setting up a peer mentoring program to give and get support from fellow students if your college doesn’t have one.

You should also talk to your employer. Assess when busy periods are likely to be, and try to avoid big assignments at the same time. Show commitment and consideration, and you are more likely to get your boss’s support. If you can, look for assignments where you can exploit your professional experience – it’s a more efficient use of your time.

2. Prioritize

Busy, successful people understand what they can do each day, how they use their time, and what can realistically be accomplished. Learn from their techniques and you can do the same.

Record your daily activities to find out how much time you really have. Assign a specific time to important tasks rather than hoping they will happen at some point. Get smart when prioritizing tasks so that ‘clean the attic’ does not have the same weight as ‘write term paper.’ Build in buffer time for the inevitable interruptions. And set time limits for each task to stop it spreading into the rest of your day.

Once you have your schedule, beat procrastination by breaking down massive projects into manageable blocks. Work is usually the best way to get working: so start with small tasks to get the ball rolling. Finally, once you’re in the zone, note any good ideas that pop up and move on. That way your ideas for your company’s Sales Conference won’t distract you from your revision – and you won’t forget them.

3. Delegate

John C. Maxwell, author of How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life put it best: “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!”

Clear out the clutter of unnecessary tasks and make more room for more important activities. Evaluate your commitments, discuss realistic goals with friends and family and then learn to make use of other people. It can be hard to let go sometimes, but you don’t have to do it all. There are almost certainly tasks in your daily routine that can be done easily by others, even if your only available resource is a willing spouse or child.

4. Focus

Stay in the here-and-now and focus on one class at a time. If you complete one or two courses, you’ll be motivated to take another. Equally, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to complete your degree within a certain timeline.

Success is the biggest motivator so acknowledge a job well done but don’t allow yourself to be distracted when things don’t go according to plan. Learn from mistakes and then move on. Remember that learning is a cumulative process: you won’t be judged by one project alone and you don’t have to be perfect every time. Sometimes, good enough is just that.

5. Sleep

Extra-strong coffee is not a long-term study aid! When schedules fill up, sleep is often the first to be sacrificed. But lack of sleep actually makes your task much harder: your mental health, physical health, stress levels, and schedule are all affected.

Make sure you take time to look after yourself. It doesn’t take long for the constant round of class, study, work and more study to take its toll on your ability to perform. Plan time to relax and be social – and treat it like every other commitment. It will improve your productivity overall.

Time management isn’t a skill you pick up right away. Ironically, it too takes time. But the good news is that more and more students are managing to earn a degree while working full-time. The even better news is that the time management techniques you learn when balancing your various commitments can be applied throughout your career to enhance your chances of future success.

Related Posts

The Solution To Your Time Management Problem [Infographic]
How To Balance Grad School And Work A Full-Time Job
Overcoming Time Management Obstacles

 

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