Gigats: Whatever It Takes

10 Ways to Boost Brain Power

Most people believe that intelligence is a fixed quantity set. In reality, how we approach situations and how to exercise our brain can help to improve our intelligence. Add these 10 habits to your daily routine in order to boost your brain power:

1. Be Smart About Time Online

You don’t have to spend every online break that you have checking your Facebook page and looking at funny memes. Instead, take advantage of the many great learning resources on the web, including online courses, TED talks, and vocabulary-building tools. Replace a few minutes of your social media time, with some time to mentally nourish your brain.

2. Write it Down

You don’t have to draft a novel, but taking a couple minutes each day to reflect in writing what you learned during the day can help to boost brainpower. Yoga teacher Caludia Azula Altucher recommends writing 400 words a day on the things that you learned.

3. Make a “Did” List

Intelligence is often related to confidence and happiness. Boost both by listing the things that you have to do, in addition to the things that you have already done. Famed VC Marc Andreessen recommends completing a “done list.” Create a list of times that you have completed that make you feel accomplished.

4. Play some scrabble

Board games and puzzles are also a great way to work out your brain. Playing games can help give your brain a necessary boost.

5. Have Smart Friends

One of the fastest ways to learn is to spend time with others who are more clever than you are. “Keep a smart company. Remember your IQ is the average of the five closest people you hang out with,” Saurabh Shah, an account manager at Symphony Teleca, writes.

6. Read a Lot

While opinions vary on what the best type of brain-boosting reading material is, everyone can agree that reading helps intelligence. Some experts suggest reading a daily newspaper, while others say a variety of fiction and nonfiction is best. In reality, quantity is what is important, so find something that you like and read a lot.

7. Explain it to Others

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” Albert Einstein said. To determine if you have really learned something, try teaching it to others. Student Jon Packles elaborates on this idea: “For everything you learn—big or small—stick with it for at least as long as it takes you to be able to explain it to a friend. It’s fairly easy to learn new information. Being able to retain that information and teach others is far more valuable.”

8. Do Random New Things

Even if something doesn’t seem immediately useful or productive, take the time to try brand new things. Whether it is an art class or a new sport, spend time developing your random skills and apply it in your professional life.

9. Learn a New Language

You don’t need to become a language expert, but learning the basic mechanics of a new language can help to boost intelligence. No need to jet off to a foreign country, instead practice at the comfort of your desk. There are several great, free online sites such as Livemocha or Busuu that can help teach the fundamentals.

10. Take Some Downtime

Whether it is running, reading or simply meditating, take some time for yourself each day to quietly reflect and do the things that you want to do. Investing time in yourself can help you feel more refreshed and ready to learn more moving forward. 

Adding the 10 habits listed above to your daily routine can help to boost your intelligence and improve your professional career. Invest time in exercising your brain and trying new things.

Ridiculous Emails and How to Respond

 

Every day we log into our email inbox and see a huge list of emails that require diligent responses and hours of attention. Often times, some of those emails will leave us saying, “huh?” If you are faced with the regular problem of trying to decipher an email request, then read below for some of the most ridiculous emails in your inbox and how you should answer them:

The Rambling, Non-Ask

This type of email is usually very long, with a lot of detail and very little structure. Most the time, it is unclear what the sender is trying to accomplish. After reading it several times, you realize that it is a fuzzy request and you need greater clarification. When you respond to this type of email, send a quick note that thanks the person for their email, and express that you would like some clarification by making a statement such as, “In the interest of getting back to you promptly, could you help me understand exactly what you’d like me to assist with?”

The Context-Less Ask

The person who sends you this type of email is looking for help with a decision or an answer to a question, however they do not provide you with sufficient data or context to do so. To effectively respond to this email, request that they provide you with more context on the situation and that they send over more information. Let them know that you are happy to help, but that you require more information in order to respond.

The Laundry List

The “Laundry List” email typically includes a list of bullet points, action items, questions, and commentary that requires a lot of effort and time to get through. Your response to this email will depend on whether or not the sender has the authority to assign you work or not. Begin by asking him or her to prioritize and split up the work. In your response, let the person know your timeline for when you will get started on the project, and about how long it will take you to complete it.

The Cold Email for Advice

When people email asking for advice, it tends to be in our nature to want to help others. However, some people are better at asking for advice for than others. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know well, asking for something time-consuming or several overwhelming questions, then start by asking them to reframe their request. Respond by informing the individual that you are a bit busy but that you would like to help. Have the person prioritize the number one question that your background and experience can help answer, and minimize the amount of advice that you are going to have to provide.

You can only control personal communication skills, and not the skills of others. Don’t let another person’s inability to effectively communicate via email hinder your job performance. Move the burden of understanding and prioritizing emails back into the sender’s court, reduce response time and minimize you headache by following the steps above for each sticky, email situation

5 Tips For Perfecting Your Interview Image

Whenever it comes time for an interview, one of the most common initial questions one will ask is “How should I look for a job fair or interview?” While professional attire should represent your personality and preference, here are five tips for perfecting your interview image.

1. Interviewing is Visual

People naturally have a more positive reaction to meeting someone who is similar in appearance standards than someone who is dissimilar. In other words, matching the dress code for a targeted company gives you a better chance of making a great first impression. For example if you’re looking into interviewing with a consulting firm, check out the employer bios on their website as well as profile pictures of key leaders in the company on LinkedIn to determine if the business has a conservative, fashionable, or a more business casual environment. Prior to your interview, you can also ask an employee about the preferred attire.

2. Details Count

For most individuals, you don’t have to be obsessed with fashion in order to be successful at the job you are applying for. However, paying attention to the visual details of your look may convey preparation, planning and respect for those you meet. Make sure to avoid details that can damage your appearance such as stains, wrinkles, iron marks, smells, unkempt nails, worn out belts, weathered/mismatched socks and scuffed shoes. At least the day before an interview, try on your outfit – head to toe. Do your clothes fit right and are there any undergarments showing? Are you able to comfortably move in the clothing, extend your arms for a hand shake, sit down and stand? It also helps to look into the mirror and sitting down. Does the outfit still look professional and portray you well? If you have an issue in any of these areas, make a change. The right ensemble will make you feel comfortable and allow you to focus on the interview questions and not the coffee stain on your blouse.

3. Minimize Distractions

In order to make a good impression, minimize the distractions that may pull focus from you and your conversation. A common distraction is the result of wearing perfume or cologne. If your scent is too strong, it will be hard for them to want to spend time with you. Also, try to keep the makeup to a minimum. Not only do you run the risk that the interviewer prefers a more conservative look, but heavy makeup has a greater chance of smudging, smearing, bleeding and sticking to your teeth when nervous. As for jewelry, you don’t want the interviewer to remember you as the girl who jingles every time she moves. This is also a good time to remove any plastic, string and rubber jewelry and optional piercings – relax, you can always put them back in when you leave.

4. Mind the Baggage

If you can leave your oversized purse, backpack or briefcase behind, do. Baggage is not only distracting and bulky, but it can wrinkle your clothes, make it hard to have a free hand for shaking or present a tripping hazard. A disorganized bag, may reveal something negative to the interview and allow them to jump to conclusions about your organizational skills.  Instead, aim to bring a clean simple folder or portfolio with cover letters, resumes, prepared questions, blank paper and pens. If you must have a bag with you, make sure it looks clean and can be zipped shut.

5. Lose the Drink

You would think it’s common knowledge, but never enter a professional networking event, career fair or interview with a drink in hand. If you if you are sincerely concerned about your hydration, a closed water battle tucked away in your purse or briefcase is an option. Often times, if you’re in an extended interview, an employer will offer you a water. Plus, you will eliminate the possibility of spilling on yourself or your interviewer.

Making a strong first impression is necessary for successfully landing a job. Take extra time to avoid making simple errors in your professional attire. A good first impression is easy to obtain by carefully preparing and arriving with a professional appearance. 

3 Ways to Ruin Your Reputation

Most of us will make a mistake or two at least a handful of times in our professional lives. For many of us, it is easy to pick up the pieces, keep moving and to recover from the error with many of our co-workers quickly forgetting about the blunder. However, every now and then, there are few cases in which workers begin to create a reputation that fosters a negative attitude in the office. Avoid these recipes for disaster and the three sure-fire ways to ruin your reputation at work:

1. Take credit for someone else’s work:

Taking credit for something that you don’t deserve is a sure fire way to invite scandal into the office. In order to avoid earning the reputation as someone who steals the credit, analyze the successes of the business. Consider the role that you played, and whether or not it is even necessary for you to stake claim to the overall outcome. Experts suggest that you avoid taking credit in the first place. Let the work speak for itself and avoid irritating your co-workers or manager.

2. Cover up and error:

People have been fired over smaller errors. Regardless of the mistake that you make, the severity of the situation and who was involved, covering up a problem at work will not end well. Instead, fess up to the error right away. The sooner you come clean about the mistake you made, the sooner everyone can begin to deal with the problem and remedy the situation. Allowing the mistake to stay hidden or purposefully covering it up will simply create a ticking time bomb that is guaranteed to go off, and ruin your reputation.

3. Let your tasks slide routinely

In work setting, no one is really expecting you get every single project done exactly on time. Things come up, plans change and sometimes we get swamped at work. But when the problem is frequent enough that you begin to earn a reputation for not completing tasks, then it may be time to address the situation. If you miss the mark on a few tasks, work extra hard to compensate on the next project and to regain your positive reputation. People are more likely to be forgiving if you finish your work early and do everything in your power to fix you previous errors.

A negative reputation can make your day-to-day work life incredibly difficult. Avoid making the three mistakes listed above in order to maintain a positive persona at work and to continue growing professionally. If you make a mistake, own up to the problem and begin the process to remedy the situation to get right back on track. 

Cover Letter Mistakes

Although it is a very important document of your experiences, cover letters don’t get as much love as they should. Considering how tough it is to write a good one, many job seekers tend to throw them together at the last minute (or update one they wrote last month), attach their resume, and call it decent. Hastily drafting a cover letter without a considerable amount of thought and effort is one of the largest mistakes that a job seeker can make. In fact, the cover letter is one of your best chances to give the hiring manager a glimpse of who you are, what you bring to the table, and why you – above other candidates – are the best fit for the job.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to share your best qualifications in a fresh, unique way. While you’re at it, avoid making the following seven common cover letter mistakes that make hiring managers cringe:

1. Starting Your Cover Letter

First off, never start your cover letter with your name. Your name should be listed on your resume, the sign-off in your cover letter, and in other parts of your application. Try to start with a relevant qualification as a way to introduce yourself. If you’re a recent grad with a passion for environmental activism, go with that. Or, maybe you’re a marketing professional with 10+ years of healthcare industry experience – introduce yourself as such and connect it with the position you are applying to.

2. Rehashing Your Resume

If your cover letter is basically your resume in paragraph form, you’re probably going to need to start over. Instead, focus on one to three (maximum) examples of your work that highlight what you can bring to the position, and try to help your reader picture you doing the work by really diving into deep detail of your impact. You want the hiring manager you be able to imagine placing you onto their team without a glitch.

3. Be Flexible With Your Format

Your cover letter is not the place to show off the ‘three paragraph format’ you learned in school. Relatively, the format of your cover letter should be structured to your message. If you are going to spend the majority of the letter describing one particular relevant experience – maybe that ‘three paragraph format makes sense. However, if you’re thinking about transferable skills or want to explain how your career has taken you from teaching to business development, a more creative approach may be more appropriate. A cover letter can tell stories, use bullet points, or showcase videos to (successfully) get their point across.

4. Less Is More

There are exceptions to the rule, but generally, for resumes and cover letters alike, don’t go over a page. Plus, chances are the hiring manager won’t even look past the first page. Keep it brief and ideally have it wrapped up around ¾ of the way down the page. Remember, you’re not trying to get everything on one page, you’re trying to entice the hiring manager enough to bring you in for an interview. Consider your cover letter a ‘highlights reel’ of your career.

5. Over Explaining

Planning on changing your career or doing a long distance job search? No matter how specific your reasoning may be for applying for a job, you don’t need an entire paragraph to explain why your specific circumstances. If you wish to include some added explanation as to why you’re applying to a position, do so but keep it short. Limit yourself to a sentence either in the first or the last paragraph for a location change, and no more than a paragraph to describe a career change.

6. Focusing Too Much On Training

At the end of the day, what hiring managers care about most is your work experience – what you can walk through the door and deliver on Day 1. Certainly mention your educational qualifications if they are relevant, but focus the bulk of your cover letter on experiences. Even if your most relevant experience is education, present it more in the form of projects you worked on and job-related skills you gained, rather than actually explaining course content.

7. Sharing Irrelevant Information

There’s no question that it’s important to tailor your cover letter to each company to show your compatibility. But it starts getting a little strange when you start writing about your bowling league or active social life. A better way to portray that you are a strong cultural fit is to focus on values – not activities. Research company websites for the way they describe their company culture, and then use that information to show how your own values align.

As for the companies that have parted ways with the cover letter requirement, an additional opportunity to show off what you have to offer is lost. But, for those that require cover letters or deem them optional, you should absolutely make the most of them – and of course avoid the all-too-common mistakes. 

Should You Visit HR After a Negative Performance Review?

In a 2013 poll of U.S. employees, 53% of respondents said their review was not a fair, accurate representation of their performance, and 65% said they were surprised by review feedback they got. If you’ve ever received an unfortunate professional review, then you aren’t alone. At some point in your career, you will likely get a performance review that you don’t agree with, leaving you with concern over how you should handle the situation. Before taking the issue to your human resources department to make sure that your performance gets represented accurately, assess your personal situation.

Whether or not you should take the issue of a poor performance review to HR will depend on the situation, your relationship with your manager, and the role of HR in your organization. According to Wendy Matyjevich, an HR executive, “HR walks a fine line representing the company versus the employee. True HR professionals are risk managers who will investigate fully without bias.” Keeping that in mind, there are three specific times when a negative review might warrant a chat with HR:

1. Your Manager is Seeking Revenge

It is appropriate to speak to HR if you feel as though your manager is taking retaliatory measures against you. For example, if you do not agree with a particular strategy and you escalated the issue above your boss, involving her higher up and feel as though the negative review is in reaction to that situation, then involving HR in the situation would be beneficial.

2. Your Manager is a Bully

If in the past your manager has been coached on or cited for behavior issues and your review appears to continue to fit that pattern of behavior, then HR will want to know. If your manager used a lot of negative, strongly worded feedback that included very little specificity or evidence to support their argument, then bringing HR into the discussion will help to evaluate what needs to happen next.

3. Your Manager Can’t Back Up the Feedback

If your review does not match up with positive feedback that you have received all year, and your manager is unable to explain why there has been a sudden change in your evaluation, then a conversation with HR may be appropriate. Before approaching HR, however, be sure to gather facts, figures and other data points to support the discrepancy between the messages that you received throughout the year and on your review.

If you ultimately decide to approach HR, be sure to be calm, professional, respectful and solutions-oriented. Avoid whining and complaining, and instead carefully provide facts and figures that will support your claim that your review was inaccurate or unfair. If the negative feedback is warranted, then carefully assess what you can do to improve your work performance and return to receiving positive reviews. 

So You Hate Your Boss…

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Unfortunately in our working lives, we can’t always choose our bosses. Management can change, people move on and some managers seem great until the day you actually begin working for them. While it certainly is hard to have a difficult boss, hating your job because your boss is a jerk isn’t going to lead anywhere good.

According to Gallup, more than half of the U.S. workforce either are just enduring their job or actively hate where they work. In other words, you aren’t alone in your dislike for your job. However, moving forward it is important to understand the two reasons why disliking your boss won’t help things for you at work:

1. It’s easy to label others and be vague

Labeling someone with a vague disapproving term absolves us of any responsibility to do anything. A statement such as, “She’s an idiot” and “What a____” are very similar. You have successfully engaged in name calling, but now what? If your boss acts like a jerk, then begin to really think about what that means. What has he or she done that you disagree with? Is it the decisions they make? How they communicate? Or how they treat others?

Once you have identified the specific actions or behaviors that bother you, then you can begin to develop a plan of action of how to deal with them. Leaving it as “he’s a jerk” gives you no plan of action and does nothing to resolve the scenario.

2. You can still enjoy your work even if your boss is difficult

It is obvious that a person’s relationship with his or her manager is influential; however it isn’t the only factor that impacts your work. Your job entails several different characteristics including the tasks you must accomplish, customers, co-workers, and other interactions with the community. Attempt to focus on the other aspects of your work by becoming the best at what you do, developing your sills and finding positive co-workers to spend time with.

Additionally, try to recognize some of the beneficial skills, strengths, knowledge or character qualities that your boss may have. Although the person may be very different from you, chances are he or she aren’t a total moron that has evil intentions.

Approach your work with a positive attitude in order to enjoy your work and to get past having a difficult boss. Research has shown that people who have a positive, grateful attitude for their work actually enjoy their work more. So yes, your boss may be a jerk, but your daily experiences are what will define your situation and make the work day more tolerable. 

Setting Boundaries for a Work-Life Balance

In your professional life, there will always be more work to do tomorrow. Keeping that in mind, there will be moments in your career where everything won’t get done in a single day. The last thing you want to do is stay until 8 P.M to finish an assignment. Although there may be times where it is a complete necessity, it is important to set boundaries and to maintain an effective work life balance.

When you are first starting out on a job, begin by setting boundaries by leaving on time whenever possible. If you have completed your work, there is no need to wait around for your co-workers or boss to head out the door. You can still establish yourself as a hardworking employee within the first few months, while also introducing the idea that you will not stay late every day. By approaching the scenario delicately and gradually, you can set the tone and address the issue of staying after hours. Make sure that your boss becomes acquainted with your priorities, and do so without outright demanding things.

After being on the job for quite some time it is likely that you will know whether or not your boss is satisfied with your work. If you have already proven yourself, then you should feel comfortable talking to him or her about your hours. Select a time in which your boss isn’t too busy to sit down and address your personal priorities. Emphasize the positives of your job early in the conversation, and carefully demonstrate that you are fully on board with the fact that some days may require you to work a little late. Explain why it is important to you that you are able to leave on time when the opportunity presents itself.

Finally, after having been an employee for an extended period of time it will become much easier to address concerns with your boss. If you have a negative relationship however, the conversation may be more complicated. Present solutions versus grievances in order to ensure that the conversation goes over well.

By initially setting your hours and sticking to them as much as possible you will carefully set the boundaries necessary for maintaining a work-life balance. Learn to communicate effectively with your boss and colleagues so that they understand you priorities and needs. Also keep in mind, that there may be times where you have to stay past your typical hours. In those circumstances, continue to work hard to get the project done quickly so that you can return back to your normal routine. 

9 Minutes to a Better Career

On the surface, building and maintaining an effective online presence sounds like a whole lot of work. Despite the apparent benefits that social media can have on our careers, many professionals are relecturant to spend hours a day navigating on LinkedIn, writing up blog posts, or tweeting various information. In reality, it doesn’t take nearly as much time to build an online presence as most people think. In fact, just nine minutes a day should do the trick.

LinkedIn recently asked personal branding guru William Arruda how much time careerists should dedicate to putting themselves out there every day. After conducting some research, Arruda determined that nine is the magic number.

Arruda settled on the number after determining that dedicating only nine minutes to your career and your professional goals means that you won’t lose focus or become overwhelmed with brand management. When professionals dedicate an hour or even 30 minutes to promoting themselves, it becomes easy to get sidetracked and loose valuable time. Instead, professionals should choose to accomplish one task for their career every day. Doing so, makes the goal feel more attainable and increases the likelihood that you will actually complete the task.

There are various things that you can accomplish within nine minutes to boost your career. To get started, view some of the ideas below:

  • Send an email to a network contact that you haven’t spoken to in a while, or attempt to connect with a brand new contact.
  • Join a LinkedIn group and share an industry relevant article or join in on a conversation
  • Revise your LinkedIn summary
  • Find and post an interesting article related to your industry or field on LinkedIn, Twitter, or another social network
  • Spend some time to connect with two or three new people on LinkedIn and to learn about what they do.

In order to get the most out of your nine minutes, choose a time of day that works best for you and dedicate yourself to spending it doing something to build up your career and personal brand. Before you know it, you’ll find that the results add up quickly and will help to improve your overall professional life.

3 Tips to Work Smarter

The success of your work day is determined by how efficiently you are able to complete your day-to-day tasks. By carefully prioritizing your tasks and time, you can find the ability to complete important projects and accomplish a lot in your day. As creatures of habit, we implement planning and routine into our work and personal lives. In order to improve how you get through the day follow these three tips for making your work day more efficient:

Plan

The first thing you should do when you sit down at the start of the work day is to plan. Planning can help to focus your mind and ensure that you don’t end up questioning what you accomplished at the end of the day. At the start of your day, write down the things that you need to get done. Break bigger more complicated tasks into component pieces to make the tasks less intimidating and more achievable. Then, prioritize your tasks, getting the more unpleasant tasks out of the way first. Keep your list of prioritized tasks visible so that you are able to regularly check your progress throughout the day.

Avoid Meetings

We have all been there, sitting in seemingly endless meetings that have very little impact on our actual work. Before you agree to a meeting, ask yourself if it is really necessary to have one or whether it is essential for you to attend. If the meeting doesn’t require your attendance, then politely decline. Alternatively, consider a quick phone call versus an hour long face-to-face meeting. If you have a meeting that you are unable to avoid, then make sure to get the most out of your time throughout the other parts of the day.

Use Downtime

Throughout the day there are always quick moments of downtime, whether you are waiting for a client or there is a brief delay on a meeting. Those quick, short moments can add up throughout the day to create moments of productivity. As part of your daily planning process, make a list of small tasks that you are able to complete at any time. It could be something as simple as ordering new business cards, rearranging your desk or paying a bill. With the spare minutes that you get, tackle the task to get it out of the way.

Planning your day, avoiding unnecessary projects or meetings, and using downtime efficiently can increase your level of productivity in the day. Prioritize your tasks to ensure that you get what matters most done early and provide yourself with extra time to accomplish the smaller items on your to-do list. Complete the 3 tasks above to work smarter and not harder. 

5 Steps to Producing Results in Your Job Search

If you have been sending out applications, building relationships, establishing an online presence and completing several other things that you have heard you should do in a job search, but haven’t heard anything back it can be very frustrating. Instead of panicking or throwing in the towel, follow these five steps to start producing results in your job search:

1. Temp

Although temp agencies aren’t as popular as they used to be, they still provide an option that job seekers should explore. When you have open availability and are willing to do a wide range of work, your chances of getting a temporary work assignment will go up. Temping provides you with a paycheck and something that you can put on your resume, while also providing you with the opportunity to build connections. Some temp roles are even temp-to-perm, giving you the opportunity to transition into a permanent position.

2. Volunteer

Volunteering is another great way to keep your skills up-to-date and provides you with recent work to put onto your resume. Volunteering also exposes you to new fields and expands your contacts. During your job search volunteer in an effort to build a track record and develop a reputation in a new area, and learn about potential new openings.

3. Revamp your resume

If you aren’t getting interviews chances are your application materials are part of the problem. Revamping your resume could make an enormous difference on your efforts. Revise your resume to focus on what you have achieved at each job and reveal to the hiring manager how you have performed in the past.

4. Revamp your cover letter

Just like your resume, if your cover letter is weak it could be hurting your job chances. Your cover letter should add something new to your application about why you are ideal for a job, not just summarize your employment history. Write your cover letter as if you were writing to a friend about why you would be great for the position. Adding personality will help to grab the employer’s attention and secure you an interview.

5. Apply for fewer openings, but spend more time customizing your application

When you begin to feel desperate during your job search, you may be encouraged to apply to any and every job position open. Instead, customize your cover letter and resume to each opening you apply for and focus on seeking employment with companies that you are truly interested in. Try applying for fewer jobs and putting more time into your application for each.

Adjusting your job search process when you haven’t seen many results can help to shake things up and provide you with a positive boost of energy. Follow the steps above to revamp your job search process and to increase your chances of receiving an interview and landing the job. 

How to Become Irreplaceable at Work

Although it may be true that there is always someone who is capable of taking over the responsibilities in your job description if you were to leave, there are ways to ensure that you can make it really, really hard to completely fill your role. Seth Godin discusses how to be indispensable in his book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable, and poses the question: What would your company look for if it wanted to replace you with someone better? Becoming a unique, coveted asset to your company requires completing three different steps: connecting, troubleshooting and specializing.

1. Connecting

In order to go from being a good employee to a great one, a professional must learn how to connect with other people. Leveraging your connections, and spending time communicating, interacting and building relationships with your coworkers and clients can help to make you an irreplaceable part of the team.

2. Troubleshooting

Standing out as a solution-oriented individual is another way to become indispensable in your office. Demonstrating to others that you are able to solve problems, versus simply point them out or avoid them, allows them to trust you and your ability to take initiative. Anyone is capable of following a task list or job description, but a worker who takes the initiative to troubleshoot and identify solutions is a huge asset to the team.

3. Specializing

The final way to ensure that you are an irreplaceable part of your work team is to specialize in something. Bringing something to the table that no one else is able to, whether it is a skill or a personality trait, will help to further distinguish you as a valuable individual pertinent to the team’s success.

Your goal as a worker should be to become essential to your company by maintaining positive relationships, serving as a problem solver and specializing in a high value skill. Completing the three steps above will help to demonstrate to others your overall value and make it very difficult for a company to part ways. 

Asking for Help at Work

As difficult as it may be, four simple words, used correctly with the right intent, can make a powerful impact on your life, profession and especially on other people. Sometimes in our professional and personal lives we must remove our pride and realize the appropriate time to ask the question,“Can you help me?”

We’re no longer children. We’re adults, and adults are accomplished, smart, savvy and experienced. We’ve earned our place in the world and in our profession. So when we ask for help we also have a tendency to unconsciously add image enhancers. For example, if an individual asks for help on a presentation they might go to someone and say, “I’m giving a TED talk next week and my slides need some formatting tweaks.”The problem with this wording is that the person is clearly protecting their ego by signaling their “importance.” 

Instead of protecting your pride and dancing around the concept of assistance, directly ask the individual for help by completing the steps below:

Ask for help directly

No matter who you ask or what type of help you need – put the deep-toned voice aside and sincerely ask, “Can you help me?” The other person will likely say “yes” or “I can try” but it is highly unlikely that you will ever receive a “No” from a coworker. The words “Can you help me?” speak powerfully to our instinctive desire to help others making people more inclined to pitch in. 

Frame your request properly

Don’t try to protect your ego. Don’t imply you’re in any way higher on the status ladder. Don’t make such a specific request and don’t say what you need. Instead, say what you can’t do. Say, “I’m terrible at PowerPoint and these slides look awful.” Or say, “We absolutely have to ship this order by Tuesday and I have no idea how to make this happen.”

When asking for help this way, several powerful things come to light for the person you are asking. First, you will convey a level of respect that is empowering to that other person and flattering. Without actually saying it, through your request you have acknowledged the fact that they are better at something than you, and that you could use their expertise. Second, you will also convey a level of trust, vulnerability and your ability to admit weakness. Finally, you will demonstrate to your co-worker that you are able to listen and accept their feedback.

Showing respect and trust in other people, and by giving them the freedom to express their expertise and knowledge, you don’t only get the help you think you want, you get the help that you actually need.Setting your pride aside and asking for help in a straightforward and respectful way will help to advance your career. 

Networking Do’s and Don’ts

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Establishing a network is a necessary step in our work lives. Many of us use our networks to connect with other people, co-workers and businesses and further advance our careers. Building a strong network doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time, effort and strong understanding what networking is and isn’t. Follow the 10 do’s and don’ts of networking in order to boost your efforts:

Networking Do’s:

1. Networking is about taking a keen interest in people and what they do. People enjoy talking about themselves and the work that they do. Take the time to establish connections on both a personal and professional level and to grow your network.

2. Networking requires you to carry business cards everywhere you go. Be prepared to provide a card to another individual upon request, or anytime you meet someone new.

3. Networking doesn’t just mean meeting new people, it is also about joining an organization, association or committee outside of work. Seek enjoyment and fulfillment from the organizations and invest in participating.

4. When Networking, you should also take the time to attend a business reception or cocktail event at least once a month. Attending networking functions gives you a chance to get out of the office and meet new people. 

5. Networking also requires staying in touch. Solidify bonds with people you have met by following up via email or making a quick phone call. Reach out to acquaintances in order to maintain your presence and network. 

Networking Don’ts:

6. Networking isn’t just a “one-off” activity or something you can “switch on” whenever you need something. Networking requires a continuous effort to maintain relationships. 

7. Networking also doesn’t require you to create a huge number of contacts over a short time period. It is more important that you develop quality relationships over the span of your career. Find out more about the people in your business or social circle and establish strong, lasting relationships.

8. Networking doesn’t mean that you attend business functions to simply find a new customer or pitch for new business. Even if the event is industry related, people aren’t interested in hearing a sales pitch at a nice cocktail reception. 

9. Networking isn’t a one way street, it requires give and take and must be a mutually beneficial relationship. In order to receive help from your network, you must provide referrals, make introductions and be a helpful contact.

10. When you network, you shouldn’t just rely heavily on social media. Facebook and LinkedIn are excellent networking tools, but in order to build up your network you must extend your efforts beyond the sites.

Networking requires extensive effort and relationship building. Be sure to remember the do’s and don’ts of networking in order to improve your efforts and establish a helpful, long lasting network of professionals. 

Creating an Eye-Catching Resume

The amount of time that recruiters spend looking at resumes is said to be anywhere from six seconds to 15. With less than a minute to snag a recruiters attention, it is imperative that your resume stands out and catches their eye. Recruiter Gar Nelson believes that in order to successfully catch a hiring manager’s eye, your resume must pass the “blink test.” In other words, you must grab the attention of the recruiter instantly.

In order to make your resume eye-catching, follow these 3 simple steps:

1. Use a Basic Resume Format

Many job seekers will attempt to make their resumes more flashy by getting creative with the formatting. For arts-centric professions, this is perfectly acceptable, but in general you don’t want to change standard resume formatting too much. Changing the look of your resume can make it harder for recruiters to find what they are looking for. Recruiters won’t forward a resume because it is pretty- they will forward it because they deem a candidate as being qualified. 

When selecting a simple format, be sure that your skills are easily seen. Keep your name and contact information at the top and make your headings stand out. Use bullets to list your achievements and statements and make it easy for the recruiter to find the right information about you. 

2. Make the Best Things the Most Noticeable

Without changing the formatting of your resume too much, it is important that you make sure your most relevant experiences are as close to the top as possible. The recruiter is going to look at the very top of your resume with the first glance so arrange your resume according to the specific position you are applying for. 

The key is to ensure that whoever is reading your resume sees the message about what you have to offer instantly. Bring your most relevant content to the top of the page in order to demonstrate your qualification as a candidate.

3. Use Emphasis Strategically

In addition to carefully selecting your format and moving your most relevant content to the top, you should be careful about what is highlighted throughout the resume. Think about what you want to showcase and use bolding, underlining and italicizing to emphasize those things.

Your resume only gets one quick glance. By bolding information on the resume, you guarantee that it is going to be what is looked at.

Your goal as a job seeker is to make it easy for a recruiter or hiring manager to find evidence that you are qualified the the position that you are applying to. In order to pass the resume blink test, follow the three steps above and create a tailored resume that highlights your talents.