Finding a Job you Love!!

Feb. 17, 2014

If you’re stuck in a job or a field you don’t particularly like, you’ve probably found yourself asking some tough questions: How did I wind up here? Will I be here forever?

As a young professional, you might feel compelled to decide right this very moment what your future career path should look like. In reality, you don’t need to have it all figured out. Most people don’t. Most college students don’t know at 17 or 18 what their career passion is. They may not know at 27 or 28, or even at 47 or 48.

Even if you don’t know what that perfect-fit career is just yet, here’s how you can actively explore your options and work toward the job you love:

You have more than one talent

You might like your career track, but don’t want to give up other skills and passions. Or you might feel limited by your chosen career track and want flexibility to do something else. Either way, you have every reason to explore other avenues.

In today’s world, it doesn't make sense to focus your work around one single talent. You’re a multi-faceted individual with multiple talents. If you want to learn or do something else, go for it.

Diversify your career portfolio

Developing several talents and building multiple income streams provides insurance. You don’t have to put all your career eggs in one basket. It’s just like diversifying risk in your investment portfolio. One stock or bond might not do so well this year, but you can always count on another. It’s the same with your career.

Try something else on the side of your full-time gig to expand your skill set and build career insurance.

Think outside the one-track career box

Think about what you like to do — not just what your school work has proven you’re good at, but what you really enjoy. Then think of careers that need someone with those skills. You can likely try a few different things at once.

Math whiz? You don’t have to choose between becoming an engineer or a math professor. You could pursue a career as an engineer and work as a math tutor on the side.

Love to write? You could make a living as a journalist and write short stories and blog posts on the side. Great at using your hands? You could develop a talent like woodworking and create a carpentry business while you pursue another line of work.

Interested in people? Besides customer service or sales, you could also pursue hypnosis, therapy, HR, behavioral profiles or market research.

Sharpen your talents outside of work

You might start your first job and and find it doesn't require the same talents and skills you thought it would. Though you can succeed at work without putting certain skills to use, find ways to hone those talents and keep them fresh.

  • Volunteer or study those skills in your free time.
  • Continue to learn about and evolve those skills.
  • Get involved with people who specialize in (and are making money) doing what you love.
  • Don’t let your skills get rusty.

The more versatile you are, the more career options you’ll have. Down the line, you may be able to turn your hobbies into a lucrative career.

Don’t focus on just the skills your employer wants

Many career experts recommend you focus on a specific skill area or build expertise in a particular function. Recruiters want to put the square peg into the square hole. If your background doesn't match the job 100 percent, it can be hard to prove a good fit.

Don’t bounce from job to job trying to see what works. Being scattered is not a positive trait.

While you build your resume and work experience, it’s OK to look for opportunities to do more of what you do well, then incorporate those skills outside of your job.

  • Take notes about your best talents. Capture proof points in a journal about all of your talents and how they manifest.
  • Find ways to incorporate them elsewhere. Stay sharp by using those skills at a side job, through volunteering or by helping friends and family.
  • Post your talents online. Tweet about them, showcase your abilities on your blog and let your friends know what you can do.
  • Keep it up. Stay sharp and focus on developing your talents. Your knitting skills may not be useful in your customer service job, so knit during your breaks and on weekends.

Focusing on one area may work for some people, but for many, life is filled with so much more than one interest or passion. Keep exploring what’s right for you.


7 Tips For How To Become A Leader At Work

How To Become A Leader At Work

There are many ways, but listed below are some that come to mind. You can use these actions that will inevitably position yourself as a leader at work without being too obvious about your ambitions.

1. Take Responsibility

You want to be a leader at work, learn to take responsibility for anything that has your fingerprint on it. That means, as long as you participate in the project, you have a hand at the failure of the project.

Learn to take responsibility for not just the good things, but even bad ones. Admit to your mistakes - it’s okay to be wrong. You cannot learn if you have not made any mistakes.

2. Believe In Win-Win

A rising tide lifts all boats – always think win-win. It exists. Just because the world thinks the business world is nasty, and that you need to be manipulative and maneuvering to win, you need not participate in it.

In fact, make it your contribution not to be nasty and bullying in your ways. You want to be a leader at work, believe in your hands as leader to change the world.

The power of positive influence you have on the people around you and the power to inspire people to greater heights is in front of you.

3. Push The Envelope

Try new things. Take some risk. Make yourself uncomfortable. Do the things that may risk making you look foolish – what do you have to lose? Leaders take risks. They are not afraid of doing what they believe.

What do you believe in that you are willing to take some risk? To be a leader at work, you need to take even simple risks like taking on the project no one wants.

4. Do It, Write It

I have often said this. This world is full of people who talk too much and don’t do enough. If you want to be a leader at work, act upon something. Work that plan.

If you have any ideas that are simmering in your mind, write it down. It doesn't matter if it’s not a plan yet, just write it down.

If you don’t write it down, there is no one to present to and there is no record of the idea. How can it count? If you want to be a leader at work, you have practice writing down everything.

5. See Opportunities Everywhere

There is no need to create opportunities for yourself to lead. The opportunities to lead are everywhere. You need to be mindful of these opportunities.

I have just mentioned one earlier. Are there any opportunities to take on the project no one wants? If you don’t see opportunities everywhere, you are missing the point.

6. Be Open

Be open to criticism, otherwise you are just living off yourself. What does it mean? When you are open to feedback, you are being fed ideas from others that are free. Often times, these ideas come from people smarter than you. They will give you tips on how to improve and how to be better.

That’s what a leader needs - constant feedback. You need feedback to be a leader at work, otherwise you are “feed-own” (I just created that word to mean feeding yourself) and you will go hungry soon. With no new ideas, a leader dries up.

7. Give, Give, Give

That’s how you open up. Pour out all you got from inside you. Give all you have ideas, thoughts, plans. Feel the vulnerability and learn to like it. When you pour all your ideas out you will need new ones. Where do new ideas come from? From critics who want to tear you down, from well-meaning supporters and from people you least expect.

More comes back to you. You have more to input. It enriches you. That’s how you become a leader at work.

These are the seven actions to position yourself as a leader at work. You want to be a leader at work? Do not be afraid of taking risks. You have more to gain than lose when you open up.

Have JobCrystal day all!


Surviving Psychometric Assessments

Sept. 6, 2013

If you are applying for a senior job in the public sector or are seeking a move into the private sector then it is likely that you will encounter the assessment centre at some point.

The psychometric assessments are a series of structured , timed, exercises which are designed to simulate the kind of activities you would be doing in the job itself.

  • As well as interviews, these could include:
  • Presentations (Individual or Group),
  • Role Plays,
  • Group discussions and tasks
  • Written case studies
  • Psychometric tests of aptitude and/or personality
  • Social and networking events (such as meals)

The aim of these tests is to be as objective and scientific as possible in evaluating candidates’ potential.

This means that:

The assessors will be trained to document everything you do and say in order to evaluate you against a pre-agreed framework of competencies.

You are usually scored numerically against each of the competencies. Each competency is assessed across a number of exercises. Your scores for each competency are then reviewed by the panel and a decision taken whether to hire.

Here’s how to ace the psychometric assessments:

Prepare In Advance

Research the organisation and job as you would for a normal interview. Make sure you are familiar with the competencies for the job.

In addition you should:

Think about how you are going to introduce yourself to staff and other candidates in the introductory session and during social activities. This is your ‘elevator pitch’ and needs to be polished (see Your Personal Profile)

You may be asked to deliver a short impromptu presentation on a familiar topic (common ones are The Best Day of My Life or My Favourite Hobby). Preparing a few ideas in advance can reduce stress.

If you are given a presentation to prepare, make sure your timings work. Prepare a few extra slides/points and a few you could take out in case you run over or under time.

Keep It Simple

When asked to deliver a presentation or participate in a group exercise, the assessors are evaluating your general approach , communication and organisation skills. They are more interested in the process than the subject matter. So don’t get drawn into too much detail or agonise about the right answer to a problem. Stick to delivering a few key points well .

Listen and Co-operate

Being open to the views of others, demonstrating listening skills through your body language, seeking to build consensus and helping the group focus on the task in hand are more effective ways to show leadership than coming up with lots of ideas or issuing instructions to others. Avoid the temptation to argue with, criticise or interrupt others at all costs Standing up for your views in a diplomatic way is your aim .

Participate enthusiastically

Employers often comment that successful candidates are those who are ready to have a go at any exercise, who show genuine interest in fellow candidates and who participate actively in discussions. Try to enjoy the assessment centre as an experience in itself which will enhance your self knowledge, regardless of the outcome. Your enthusiasm will shine through.

Be Yourself

Let your natural personality show. Don’t try to second guess the sort of person you think the employer wants . It’s impossible to keep this up over an extended period and your behaviour will appear unconvincing, and you risk being placed in a job for which you are unsuited.

Ask For Feedback

Whatever the outcome of the tests, ask your assessors for feedback soon after you hear their decision. This can pinpoint where you might want to improve when preparing for your next selection centre and once in the job.

Most of all...RELAX...and have a JobCrystal day!!


Creating Credibility: Ten Tips for the Workplace

July 19, 2013

Words have to match actions. In addition to meeting your deadlines and hitting all your goals, it's vital to establish trust in your build your credibility. In both verbal and written communications, including everything that you publish through social media, a lack of trust will lower your credibility. And once you’ve lost it, it’s all but impossible to win back.

No matter where you are in your career, follow these rules to establish and maintain your credibility.

Show Concern.

People will care about you, and more importantly trust you, when you care about them. People want to know that they have a sympathetic ear in you. Even companies in reputation crisis mode know the first reaction must be to show sincere concern over individuals in question.

Demonstrate Cooperation with Good Intentions.

To be credible, you must demonstrate that you are acting in good faith to the best of your knowledge and ability. People must believe that you want to cooperate to help them achieve their personal and career goals. They will forgive you for poor judgment, but they will rarely forgive you for poor intentions.

Admit What You Don’t Know.

When people smell blood, they start to dig. It’s human instinct to push when they feel they are being bluffed, especially when you’re trying to gloss over spotty patches in knowledge, memory, experience, or something else. Admitting ignorance is a simple principle...easy to remember and easy to accomplish...but can be a difficult pill to swallow. Nothing makes people believe in what you do know like admitting what you don’t.

Be Complete.

Are you telling all you know? You need to recognize the difference between lies, half-truths, omissions, and cover-ups. True but incomplete statements can lead to false conclusions; literal truth, when offered without complete explanations, can lead to literal lies. Knowing smiles accompanied by long silences can elicit wrong conclusions. Lying happens in numerous ways. Intentions stand center stage here. Ultimately, questionable intentions cast doubt on character.

Stay Current.

Give up outdated data, opinions, and stereotypes. Given today’s information overload, data more than two or three years old can’t support your decisions. Correct but outdated statistics soon become incorrect.

Be Clear.

Sometimes the better we understand something, the worse we are at explaining it; our familiarity makes us careless in describing it. It’s difficult to remember a time when we didn’t know something that has become second nature to us. Ambiguity creeps in when we least expect it. Meanings depend on context, tone, timing, personal experience, and reference points. The best test of clarity is the result you see.

Keep Confidences.

What happens when a boss or confidante tells you, “This information is not to leave the room,” and it instantly does? And you’re the carrier pigeon? When people know you break confidences -- that you share personal, confidential matters -- they fear you. Breaking confidences speaks volumes about your character. People who observe your ability to keep your promises and your confidences will begin to trust you with their real feelings.

Avoid Exaggeration.

Did you wait on the phone for five seconds or five minutes? Did the supplier raise the rates by two percent or ten percent? Did the scores dip to 30 or to 10? Spinning a story can put you on a slippery slope. Exaggeration makes for great humor, but it's a credibility killer.

Accept Responsibility.

If you were involved in the decisions, actions, and results, or had some control over a situation that didn’t end the way others wanted it to, own up to it. Shirkers suffer credibility gaps.

Be Sincere and Genuine.

People who pretend to be sincere can pitch an earnest plea, look at you with pleading eyes and a straight face, and promise the world. But genuineness comes from character and is therefore harder to generate on the spot. You either are or you aren’t. What you experience is what you share. What you value is what you give. What you say is what you believe.

I will end off with an excellent quote from John Quincy Adams..

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Have a JobCrystal Day!


Why Relationships and Your Network Are Important to Your Career

June 7, 2013

Let’s get clear about your network and its importance.

What is a network?

A network is nothing more than your relationships with a variety of people. They range from the well-known best friend to the casual acquaintance at the gym. They are all part of your network. Your network is also a living organism, as there will be people that come in it and out of it on a continual basis. The easiest way to define your network or networking is to say “relationships” or “building relationships.”

What are the ways in which a network can support your career?

Your current career.

You are not alone. You can only accomplish things in your career with and through others. That means that the relationships you develop will be one of the things that will define how well you do both short and long term.

New Job. When you are first in your job, your peers will help train you and help you understand the way things work in your company. Your relationship with your co-workers can play a significant role in how well you enjoy your job.

Dependencies. Your ability to perform your job well will depend on how well you work with others. In the work place, you’re all connected. Sometime these relationships extend beyond the next aisle. They could be vendors and customers. These dependencies can help deepen your relationship as you grow to support each other’s ability to succeed.

Support. We aren’t always able to see ourselves, nor all of the political dynamics going on at work. Your relationships can give you much needed input that will help you navigate successfully.

Mentor. Some relationships you develop will be with people who are higher levels than you and have advanced skills. These people are great to learn from and can often times support your promotions.

Influence. As you all grow you will find some people moving at a faster pace. They not only can influence your actions, but they can influence others in support of you.

Outside information. A key element of all relationships is the ongoing sharing of information. If you keep track of people as you and they move around, you will find that they can become an important source of outside information for all kinds of things like competition, trends and opportunities.

Career opportunities.

New jobs. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking or not. A person in your network can be the link between you and a new job. If you notice, you don’t see jobs for executives posted, which has to make you wonder how they get their job. This is how it happens – with and through their network. You can network like an executive and have the same benefits regardless of your current level.

Promotions. As you move up so do those around you. Eventually one of those people will either directly or indirectly impact your promotions. If you have developed a good working relationship along the way, the decision will be much easier to support.

Business opportunities. It doesn’t matter if you work for a non-profit or a for-profit business. The better connected you are with people in other groups and other businesses, the more business opportunities will arise. It can range from benchmarking or sharing best practices to partnering on a new project.

There is no downside to having and continuously growing your network. Sometimes we think it is “fluff” or “nice to have”, but it isn’t. It is actually vital to your ongoing success.



Click on the RSS link above to subscribe to the JobCrystal blog.