Tips for Landing Your First Job at a Digital Agency

Every year, recruiters get hit with waves of resumes from newly graduated college students looking for internships or starting positions at top firms. In order to make an impact with your potential employer, your resume has to stand out. To help you do this, we made a helpful guide on applying to and landing jobs in digital fields. (This advice is equally relevant for graduates looking for management consulting jobs.) After reading this, you will be able to conduct a successful job search for either an internship or part-time position. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s jump right in. Your job search journey begins with networking!

1. Networking

Landing a job at a digital agency is all about who you know. You have to increase your personal brand to network with industry leaders. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a LinkedIn profile. Even better, attend conventions pertaining to your industry. There you will be able to meet and connect with new faces who can help advance your career.

2. Use Social Media

Although millennials are familiar with social media platforms, these tools can help you land your dream job. You can use social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to help you get to know your employer, as well as the company they represent. You can also use these platforms to promote your professional brand.

3. Do Your Research

A necessary step towards landing your first job is to research the companies and graduate programs that interest you, and any recruiters that can help you land your first role. Be sure to use your social media platforms to their full potential. The more knowledge you have about the company that you’re apply to, the more likely you are to be successful.

4. Create Custom Resumes

Every firm will be different, and have slightly different requirements, that’s why it’s important to alter your resume to fit the job you’re applying for. You should highlight skills and experiences which demonstrate the qualities the company is specifically looking for.

5. Have an Awesome Personal Website

Whether you’re a coder, designer, writer, or aspiring consultant your personal website has to look amazing since it portrays not only who you are, but also the style and quality of work you do. Employers and recruiters will pay attention to every detail. If you leave any stone unturned, it may cost you an interview or a job offer.

6. Follow Directions

When you are applying for jobs, read all of the instructions and follow them carefully. Applications that do not follow the firm’s criteria may not even be looked at.

7. Ask For Advice

Don’t be nervous to talk to the recruiter or company you want to work for. Often they will be happy to provide you with advice on how to apply, and answer any questions you may have about the process or the firm. If you have any contacts who work at the firm, ask them if you can buy them a cup of coffee and ask them a few questions about the organization. Even if the company is not currently hiring, doing something like this can help you make a great first impression, and be in a better position to land your dream job in the future.

8. Be Passionate

If working for a web design agency is what you want, then make sure the firm knows how much you want it. You can stand out from all the other applicants by demonstrating your passion for and commitment to your industry. Having a genuine interest in what you do can make up for a lack of work experience.

9. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

At the end of the interview, the interviewer will likely ask you if you have any questions. Even if you think you have the answer, ask a question anyway. This shows the interviewer that you are truly interested in the position and the company.

10. Show Your Appreciation

This is one of the best and easiest interview tips to follow. After the interview is over, send a thank you email to everyone you met. This will not only exhibit your appreciation but also your interest in working with the company.

Finding your first real job may seem like an anxiety-inducing task, but with a little preparation, it can be done. All you need is a little dedication, effort, and patience and in no time at all, you will have a foot in the door.

With these ten tips in mind, your job search will be much easier and less stressful to complete.

Do you have any advice for first-time job seekers? Please share your thoughts in the forum!

Wassana Lampech is a medical technology graduate and a freelance writer. She has been writing since her college days, and has been a freelance writer for the past 4 years. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Image: Pexels

How to build your emotional intelligence and look out for those around you

There are few responsibilities we have at work that won’t be handed over to computers and automatons in the decades to come, but one skill that will never be fully devolved to the robots is emotional intelligence.

Every encounter you have at work is defined by the emotional intelligence of those involved. Even when you work by yourself, the way you respond to challenges and set-backs is defined by your so-called ‘EQ’.

So while Silicon Valley boffins work away at ‘affective computing’, a form of artificial intelligence that will augment our own use of empathy, insight, and self-control. Ultimately, you remain responsible for your own interpersonal relationships and how you manage your emotions.

If it’s an area of your game – and, indeed, your very existence – that you’ve neglected, it could be time to pay a little closer attention to your emotional intelligence. Maintaining high levels of EQ can help make your workplace a more pleasant, creative, productive place to be, as well as reducing your personal stress levels and enabling you to identify, work towards, and achieve your fundamental ambitions.

Get to know your own emotional universe a little better, and you will come to understand how those around you function, too. Hold regular meetings with yourself, and take good minutes. Ask yourself not how you’ve performed today, but how you’ve felt, and how you’ve reacted to issues that have arisen. If your instinct has been to hide from, shout at, or bury problems as they’ve emerged, you can probably consider yourself in need of a thorough emotional overhaul.

Find a quiet moment and a pencil and paper and try to trace back your flawed reactions to their basic underlying causes. Did you hide because you feel inadequate? Shout because you felt out of control? Bury a task because you felt swamped by your workload? The good news is: these are symptoms of underlying problems that can be addressed in positive ways.

Feelings of inadequacy cause some of the worst reactions in human beings. We lash out or hide away because we’re afraid of being found out. But these are not solutions that will help next time those feelings rear their ugly head.

Instead, use feelings of inadequacy as an opportunity to address potential areas of improvement. Turn a task that frightens you into a learning experience, or into a chance to collaborate with a like-minded soul. Figure out how you can turn mistakes or weaknesses into strengths – for example, by using gaps in your understanding as a prompt to ask ‘childlike’ questions about the way that things are done, and to expose potential areas of improvement.

When you know yourself better, and feel more confident dealing with your emotions, you will be better equipped to understand and facilitate the emotions of others. When you deal with a colleague or customer who responds in a way you didn’t expect, try to put yourself in their shoes. What have they already been through today? How has your part in the interaction derailed their expectations? Are they acting in a way that suggests they could be feeling stressed, out of their depth, betrayed?

When this is the case, it is time to look both ways. Help your colleague along with similar EQ tools to those that you’ve been developing. If your employee feels inadequate, turn their tough task into a training opportunity. If they’re red in the face and ready to explode, suggest everyone takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And look at yourself: have you said something aggressive or defensive to provoke them because of your own emotional state?

Well, the computers have got it easy compared to us. But actually, a few mindfulness techniques and a concerted effort to take the time to improve your levels of empathy and self-knowledge, can put you in control sooner than you’d think. Check out this new visual guide for some great ideas on how to do so.

G. John Cole is a digital nomad and freelance writer. Specialising in leadership, digital media and personal growth, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in Norway, the UK and the Balkans.

Image: Pexels

Mastering Your Career: The Right Postgrad to Pursue

Everyone knows what an MBA is, but if you’re living outside Europe, the MiM, or Master’s in Management, may have passed under your radar. Nonetheless, whether you’re looking to change your career or kick-start it, a Master’s program is worth looking into, and in the world of business, the MBA and the MiM are the top contenders.

So which one is right for you?

The first step is to be honest with yourself. Unlike most other Master’s programs, the Masters’ in Business Administration and in Management are not mainly academic, but rather a ticket into a “members only” club with equally ambitious and accomplished individuals that can help make or break your career. It is hence extremely important that you pick the right club for yourself.

Length and goals

The MiM can more or less be considered a mini-version of the MBA. The duration of MiM programs averages out at less than a year, while MBAs will take anywhere between 1 and 2 years, which will allow enough time for an internship in case you are looking to experiment with different roles. More importantly, the MiM caters to recent graduates who either haven’t entered the workforce yet or have worked less than a certain period. As a result, the MiM is obviously less specialised and more theoretical than the MBA, where there is usually a minimum experience requirement, giving you the opportunity to share experiences and insights with people more advanced in their respective careers and apply what you already know to cases and real-life scenarios. That said, the MiM does bear the added benefit of allowing those without business-related backgrounds, i.e. athletes, arts majors, scientists, etc. to break into more “business-oriented” roles by offering a well-rounded foundation of basic concepts and theories to help you get started.

With this in mind and before you go any further, stop and ask yourself: where am I in my career? Would you qualify for an MBA? More specifically, would you contribute and benefit more from building a foundation of business concepts, or from being thrown straight into the water to discuss them?

Outcomes

Being a shorter and more recently introduced program, the MiM almost always costs less than an MBA within the same school. As a natural result, it will often be the case that an MBA grad will be compensated much more generously for their subsequent role. Similarly, MiMs will usually have an entry level or graduate role after they graduate, rather than a managerial role as the name of the program might imply.

Where to do it?

Going back to our first point – that is, MBAs and MiMs are more social than academic – it goes without saying that the choice of business school to attend is much more crucial than the program you decide to enrol in. You might find that you qualify for MBAs at hundreds of good schools, but only a MiM at the top-ranked one you want, and the best decision for your professional future might be to go for the less senior program at the more prestigious school. A lot of the importance and status of your degree will come from getting into a top school rather than what you did there, so the name of the university will make all the difference in the world. Your degree will represent a stamp of approval on your CV, increasing your employability and potential salary. The bigger the school, the bigger the stamp.

However, this isn’t the only reason it’s important to put a lot of thought into the school you attend. Effectively, both of the programs we are discussing are more about the people than anything else, and the choice of school is the choice of people to spend the next one to two years with, to refer and be referred by, to be inspired by, to start ventures with, and even to go sailing with, which means it will have a greater impact on the kind of experience you will have. Whether you decide on a MiM or an MBA, you will have access to the same student body at the same time, and to the same network of alumni later, so similarly to our previous point, you might have gotten into two top schools, but you might want to go for the school with a slightly lower ranking, but a reputation for a great culture which will increase the odds of your time there being enjoyable and of being a beneficial investment in the long run.

It is then clear that there are a lot of factors to consider before making a decision; Do you have the necessary work experience? Can you afford it? Will the name of the school help you progress faster and get more interviews when you start looking for a job? The list goes on, but the best way to help yourself decide is to figure out your strategy. Where do you want to go? Will a business-related master’s degree be helpful at all in getting you there? Which one would get you closer? And keep in mind that, yes, these programs are intended to help you change your career or progress more quickly, but there is more out there and if they are not perfect for you, there are countless more or less technical programs to choose from, and which will only make you stand out more.

Sarah Yakzan is a Master’s in Management candidate at London Business School. Before moving to London, she got a BA in English Literature from the American University of Beirut, and worked for a year as Marketing and PR manager, External Relations Coordinator, and Blogger. She will start her next role at Facebook in August.

Image: Pexels

5 Steps to Structuring A Professional Email

One thing they don’t teach you at university, but which every young professional needs to learn, is how to write an effective email.

Here are five (5) steps to help you successfully structure your professional emails.

Step 1: Start with a greeting

You should start your email with a greeting.

It is important to do this for three (3) reasons. Firstly, it is convention; presumably a tradition carried over from the days when people communicated via telegrams and letters. Secondly, your greeting will help the recipient identify whether the email is intended for her. Thirdly, and most importantly, a greeting personalises your email and increases the chance that the recipient will continue reading. Emails without a greeting are much more likely to be ignored.

Generally, you should include in your greeting the name of anyone whose email address appears in the To field. Although, if you are sending the email to more than three people, you can start with a more general greeting such as:

Dear all,

Hi team,

 

If you don’t know the name of the recipient, or you are sending a bulk email to multiple recipients, you can use various alternatives such as:

Dear shareholder,

Dear customer,

Dear Sir/Madam,

If your relationship with the recipient is formal, and you are emailing the person for the first time (for example, a manager, partner, client on a project, or a professional at another firm), then you can use “Dear” followed by the person’s first name. For example:

Dear Sarah,

If you are exchanging emails back and forth and the recipient has dropped the word “Dear” in response to your emails, or if you feel that some rapport has been established, then you can drop the word “Dear” and simply use the recipient’s first name. For example:

Sarah,

If you are sending an email to a friend, or if you are sending an email to a colleague who you know well and your work culture is quite casual, then you can use a more informal greeting, such as:

Hi Sarah,

Hey Sarah,

Step 2: Open with a compliment, pleasantry or word of thanks

After greeting the recipient, you should open your email with a compliment, pleasantry or word of thanks. This is polite, and will make the recipient more receptive to your message.

If you are writing to someone you don’t know for the first time, then you might open your email with a compliment such as:

I enjoyed your talk about Artificial Intelligence last Friday.

I just finished reading your article about Cryptocurrency. Very insightful!

If you are writing to someone you know, you can open your email with a pleasantry such as, “Hope you are well!” or “How are things?”.

Alternatively, if you are replying to an email, then you should start by thanking the other person. For example:

Thank you for your questions.

Thank you for your prompt response.

Thanks for getting back to me.

Step 3: Communicate your message

The third thing you need to do is to communicate your message.

In doing so, there are five (5) tips to keep in mind.

1. State your purpose:

Start the substance of your email by stating your purpose. For example, you could say “We are writing in relation to …”, “We are writing to enquire about …” or “I am emailing to ask you about …”. By stating your purpose at the beginning, this will help the recipient to understand the relevance and importance of your email, to digest and understand your message, and to take action more quickly.

2. PDS:

Your email should be polite, direct and specific. Language can be ambiguous, and any uncertainty in your email will create stress and waste valuable time.

For example, instead of saying something like “We have a few comments on the documents.” you could instead say “Please see below our comments on the shareholder’s agreement.” (emphasis added)

If you are writing an email to multiple recipients, and some of them need to do something, then you should mention those specific people by name in the email.

3. Highlight key information:

Format your email and highlight key information to help the recipient scan your email and quickly digest your message. You can do this in various ways, for example:

  • Separate each paragraph by a blank line. Large unbroken blocks of text are daunting and hard to digest.
  • Bold key words.
  • If it is a long email, group information under headings.

4. Refer to attachments:

If you are attaching documents to your email, refer to them in your email; don’t just leave them hanging. For example, instead of saying “We have some comments on the business plan.” you could instead say “Please see attached our comments on the business plan.” or “We have some comments on the business plan (attached).”

5. Clarify next steps:

After the recipient has read your email, what needs to happen next? It is generally a good idea to clarify the next steps. Who needs to do what, and by when? For example:

Could you please send me your comments this evening?

Could you please write the article by Friday 31 March?

Please talk to John about the business plan, and then get back to me.

If appropriate, provide the recipient with a range of options. This will increase acceptance and allow you to better control the relationship. For example, instead of saying “We need to discuss.” you could say “Can we please have a call to discuss the shareholder’s agreement tomorrow: 10am-11am, 2pm-3pm, or 7pm-8pm?”

Step 4: Close with polite remarks

You may find yourself working on multiple deals or projects at the same time, all of which have tight deadlines. This can sometimes become very stressful. As a result, it is important to always conclude your emails on a positive and friendly note.

Your closing remarks should make it clear that the email has come to an end, and might also re-iterate your call to action.

It is best practice to conclude with some polite closing remarks and by thanking the reader. Examples of polite closing remarks include:

If you have any questions, please let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Which should be followed by a word of thanks, examples of which include:

Thank you for your cooperation.

Thank you for your help with this.

Many thanks!

Step 5: End with a friendly signoff

The last step is to include an appropriate signoff along with your name.

You can select a professional signoff such as “Kind regards,”, “Best regards,” or “Sincerely,”.

Be careful to avoid casual signoffs such as “Best wishes,” or “Cheers,” unless you are good friends with the person.

If you found this article interesting or insightful, please download “How to Craft an Effective Business Email.” It contains additional information, plus a sample of an effective professional email.

(Image Source: Flickr)

2010s or 1920s – In the World of Work, the Only Constant is Change

How are you dealing with the 21st century? Those who’ve been in the work market for a couple of decades or more have witnessed a hastening evolution of how things are done and what you need to do just to get by – let alone to excel.

Even millennials can find themselves somewhat adrift when new skills become outdated and employers experiment with workplace environments that are wildly different to what you were prepared for in school.

However, we’re lucky enough to live in an age of apparently infinite resources for self-improvement, career development and entrepreneurship. The online world is full of advice, training courses (many for free), and forums filled with like-minded individuals and more experienced professionals who are eager to share their knowledge.

Look back ninety years or more and the picture is quite different. The forerunner of that same communication network, the phone system, was made to function not by codes and algorithms but by real live “Hello Girls” whose job was to connect caller to call-taker by plugging and unplugging jacks and cables at the telephone exchange. Imagine if the same process happened every time you typed a different URL into your browser!

Even getting up to go to work in the morning was a more difficult process. Today, aside from the few lucky people who can reliably depend on their ‘internal clock’ to wake them in the morning, even the most ambitious among us need our iPhone or old school alarm clock to stir us from slumber. In those days, you might make more money as one of the few professional ‘knocker uppers’ – human alarm clocks – than the factory workers who relied on them. Which would you have been: the knocker upper, banging on windows before the sun rose, or the factory worker with a job for life but no real sense of self-determination?

But professionals in the 1920s had to deal with changing times and technological progress just like the rest of us. For example, in 1927, movies started to be released with synchronised sound, which meant that many of the legendary stars who’d been admired in the silents were now heard speaking for the first time. If an actor’s voice was not as luscious as his or her looks, or they just couldn’t act to the standards now required, they would soon become yesterday’s news – and end up joining the rest of us in the queue to become a salesman, a laborer or a telephone operator. Those knocker-uppers were replaced by radio alarms and smart phones, and robots are still in the process of taking over the factories.

To see where you might have ended up in the 1920s, and what your financial prospects might have been, have a look at this new infographic from OnStride Financial. It might make your feel a little more empowered over your 21st century career!

John Cole is a digital nomad and freelance writer. Specialising in leadership, digital media and personal growth, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in Norway, the UK and the Balkans.

(Image Source: OnStride Financial)

5 Strategies To Create Workplace Happiness

5-strategies-that-create-workplace-happiness

This is a guest post from Riya Sander.

Creating a happy workplace can make it easier to retain your workers, allowing you to avoid the costs related to employee turnover. It can also increase the morale of those who stay, which may lead to higher productivity and a greater likelihood that your people take ownership of their work.

If happy workers are more loyal and productive workers, then worker happiness will have a direct impact on the profitability of your business.

What are some steps that you can take to ensure that your people are happy at work?

1. Emphasize Employee Wellness in the Workplace

If you want to keep your people happy, you will need to keep them healthy. Emphasizing health and wellness in the workplace ensures that employees don’t come to work sluggish, sick or injured.

Ways that you can improve worker health include providing an on-site gym, an on-site urgent care center or allowing workers to take time out of their day for a short walk. As a general rule, a brisk walk to reduce stress is a much more healthy and effective way to keep energy levels up compared with common alternatives like a cup of coffee or energy drink to perk up in the middle of the afternoon.

2. Ask Employees for Their Input

Conducting an employee happiness survey will allow you to learn more about what your people like and what they wish they could change about their jobs. For instance, you may discover that they don’t mind working 12 hours a day so long as they have the flexibility to choose when and where they work. By asking your people for this type of input, you can craft a schedule or create other working conditions that best meet the needs of the company and those who work for it.

ask-employees-for-their-input

3. Provide Office Cleaning Services

Employees may have a hard time keeping their mind free from clutter if the office is a mess. Therefore, it may be in your company’s best interests to hire an office cleaning service that can vacuum the floors, take out the trash and get rid of dust and other irritants in the air. In addition to helping your employees get more done, they may be healthier for it in the long run.

Hiring an office cleaning service may be a good idea even if employees share a communal working space. In fact, it may be even more important if employees share one work space since you don’t want insects or rodents running around or germs being spread between people who are working in close proximity to each other.

4. Provide Financial Incentives for a Job Well Done

You should give your workers as much incentive to do a good job as possible. For those who go above and beyond what is expected of them, you might want to compensate them for their efforts. Providing workers with a bonus for doing a good job with a client or for adding a new account will show your people that their efforts are recognized and valued. You may also want to give employees stock options or an equity stake in the company if it makes sense to do so.

5. Give Your Employees a Chance to Step Up

Employees generally don’t want to feel stuck in the same position for their entire careers. If an employee doesn’t think that they have a chance to make the most of their talents with your organization, they may look elsewhere. This is generally true even if the person enjoys working for your business. Therefore, it may be worth implementing a training program to help workers develop their skills and communicate their desire to expand their role. This will allow you to identify your potential future leaders, which will make it easier to promote from within and to replace your top managers when they eventually leave.

Your employees deserve to have a rewarding and fulfilling work experience. If you can provide them with the right incentives and encouragement, then your business will find it easier to attract and retain a large pool of talented, loyal and productive employees. This is just what you need to keep your business thriving for years to come.

Riya Sander is a reader and Australia-based writer. As a freelancer, Riya understands the importance of productivity at work. She never stops finding new ways to increase her productivity. Follow her on Twitter.

(Image Source: Pexels 1 and Pexels 2)

The Perpetual Motivation Machine

The Perpetual Motivation MachineMotivation is about being in the moment, and being fully present; in that state, deciding what you want and then taking steps towards it tend to happen naturally.

How often do you hear of a baby that failed to learn to walk?

The strange thing about motivation though is that it can often feel illusive. Why is this the case?

To understand where things may have gone wrong, let’s start at the beginning.

The education system is valuable in many ways but it is also designed to provide students with the illusion of progress.

Students are almost always advanced to the next level even if they have failed to grasp basic concepts (this rarely happens in the workforce or in start-ups or in life).

Students are also forced to study a broad range of subjects, even ones which they find boring, difficult and pointless (people who tend to excel in later life usually pick activities that they find easy, interesting, and useful).

In short, one of the key lessons that the school system teaches young people is that they should persevere in the face of boredom.

And having learnt that lesson, many of us continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

Evidence of this fact is that there is an entire industry dedicated to helping people stay motivated.

Famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said that “people often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

This is good advice in that it is helpful for people who find themselves trapped in difficult, boring or meaningless jobs. And if this is the case for you, then following Zig’s advice is probably a very good idea for the time being.

The problem with Zig’s advice though is that lack of motivation is probably a symptom of an underlying problem.

Society and our families often place subtle or direct pressure on us to shoot for the high paid or prestigious job options, even if these are not the ones which are the best fit with our interests and aptitudes.

People often talk about “selling out”, and what I think they mean by this phrase is that when we allow ourselves to accept more money or more prestige for a job which we don’t enjoy, aren’t good at, or which has little positive impact on the community, then we have sold ourselves drastically short.

Selling out costs us our time, and with it the freedom to create and produce things that we can really put ourselves into.

It can also sap our motivation, making future success just that little bit more illusive and harder to achieve.

We now live in a world where it is possible to connect and collaborate with more people more easily than ever before; all you need to find is the motivation to do so.

What are you waiting for?

Go, hurry, we need you.

(Image source: Flickr)

Emulate vs Imitate

Emulate vs Imitate

(Source: Flickr)

When we imitate someone the goal is to copy what we see; to replicate; to produce more of the same. Think Rocket Internet or cheap Japanese electronics from the 70’s.

When we emulate, on the other hand, we take inspiration from a role model, a hero. And with effort we might one day hope to acquire their qualities, and to equal or surpass their level of skill and recognition.

We can learn from the successes and failures of our role models, and use these lessons to guide us on our personal journey.

In time we might create something worthy of recognition, and become a role model for the people who are seeking to emulate the success of the people who have gone before them.

Play The Game

Play The Game

(Source: Flickr)

I recently had a conversation with a friend who is studying a PhD here in Oxford.

She is originally from China, and her intelligence is only exceeded by her work ethic and desire to make her PhD supervisor happy.

She confessed to me with a look a mild despair on her face, “I am making slow progress. I send emails but people don’t respond. I think they are ignoring me.”

Intrigued, I wanted to find out more, and asked a few questions to see what might be the matter.

“Have you called the person?” “No.”

“Have you been to see them in person?” “I spoke to him once, but I almost felt like crying.”

“And what did he say?” “He asked me to provide a detailed plan before I can run the experiment?”

“And have you created the plan?” “No. That’s the strange thing. I haven’t.”

Hmm, I seemed to be getting closer to the heart of the problem.

How could it be that a competent, motivated and well meaning individual (an Oxford student no less) could be stopped dead in her tracks by a seemingly surmountable obstacle?

Some would say that it’s simply a matter of emotional intelligence and having the maturity to deal with people.

That’s certainly part of it, but I think the problem is slightly more interesting and complex than that. In fact, this is not the first time I have experienced this situation. I have actually confronted it myself.

If you come from a culture or a family that has taught you not to assert yourself (which I believe is influencing my friend’s situation), then being assertive in the workplace is likely to be near on impossible, even if you are otherwise quite emotionally intelligent and pretty mature.

If you have a personal belief or way of acting that has been reinforced over time, so much so that you no longer see it as a matter of choice, then how can you possibly overcome it?

How can you overcome something that has become a part of you?

Luckily, as it happens, I believe there is a simple solution.

Role playing.

People seem to have no trouble taking on new and different personas when they believe they are playing a game.  And being at work is just another game. There are rules to follow, goals to achieve, and prizes to be won for good performance.

You may not be assertive by nature. But that needn’t stand in your way. You just need to play the game.

Building An Asset

Or just getting paid?

IF you continue with your current line of work, will you be more capable, better known and have a stronger network in 12 months time?

Or will you just be one year older, one pay grade higher, and one step closer to that “promised” promotion? Financially richer, yet one year poorer at the same time.

When your author was an undergraduate student people used to joke about corporate jobs and “selling out”. It wasn’t entirely clear what that meant at the time or what was so bad about earning a wonderfully high salary. After all, isn’t that why people work? To become wealthy?

The problem is an insidious one, and easy to miss if you’re busy, or ambitious, or afraid.

The situation at work, in your industry and in the broader economy may change. In fact, it is constantly changing, evolving and improving.

But are you?

Constant personal and professional growth should be the norm, but all too often it becomes the exception.

How does this happen?

Well, take a bright eyed graduate fresh out of university, for her securing a job at a reputable firm is a great opportunity. The firm offers training, a nice salary, opportunities to network, and there is a lot to learn. So far so good.

In the second year, she is loving the corporate life. Her salary has never been higher and her expenses are low, there is still a lot of training, she is getting a good handle on her role, and she now knows lots of people at work which is fun. Life couldn’t be better.

In year three, our bright eyed graduate has now become a battle hardened grunt, she is in the thick of it. She knows her role and is incredibly busy with work. There is no time to attend training sessions, and besides these are mostly for the junior staff. Her pay is high but not nearly high enough to cover her mortgage and car payments and she hopes for a raise at the next salary review. She has no time to meet new people and barely time to see the ones she already knows.

A slippery slope.

Nobody plans on becoming a sell out, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But if you’re not expanding your capabilities, reputation and network, then it may be time for a change.

A new project, a new opportunity, or a new way to solve a problem for people who care.

Are you building an asset, or just getting paid?

Strategic Fail

Fail fast. Your success depends on it

BACK in high school, you teachers probably trained you in ‘exam technique’.

For example, your maths teacher probably gave your class exam-prep advice which sounded something like this: “do the easy questions first, skip anything you don’t understand and come back to it at the end of the test if you have time. Use your time carefully.” This is excellent advice. That is to say, it is excellent advice if you want to pass a high school maths exam.

Fast forward 15 years and imagine little Jimmy from your maths class, now a medical doctor, standing in an emergency room doing surgery on your father. Do you want him to skip the tricky bits and come back to them at the end?

Would you prefer a doctor who is good at surgery and good at golf? Or a doctor who is excellent at surgery and horrible at golf?

The advice that got us through high school exams, won’t get us through life. Trying to be good at everything is only a good strategy if you are trying to ensure that you don’t become excellent at anything.

Fail strategically, and fail fast.

Your success depends on it.

Finding and retaining talent

THE ability to find and retain talented employees is vital to sustained business success.

Attractive remuneration, stock options plans, medical benefits, and other incentives are attractive enticements for any employee. But what factors are important in attracting, focusing and retaining the most productive and talented workers?

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, in their international bestselling book “First Break all the Rules”, present the fascinating results from two Gallup studies conducted over a 25 year period. The studies searched for those questions that would elicit positive responses from only the most loyal and talented employees.

As it turns out, the key factors for attracting and retaining the most talented workers can be captured by 12 simple questions.  The more questions that an employee can answer in the affirmative, the more likely they are to be a productive and talented worker:

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of the company make you feel like your work is important?
  9. Are your co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, have you talked with someone about your progress?
  12. At work, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?