Am I a Remarkable Employee?

Aug. 21, 2014

1. Be first, but with a purpose.

Many people try to be the first to arrive each day. That's great, but what do you actually do with that time? Organize your thoughts? Get a jump on your email?

Instead of taking care of your stuff, do something visibly worthwhile for the company. Take care of unresolved problems from the day before. Set things up so it's easier for other employees to hit the ground running when they come in. Chip away at an ongoing project others ignore.

Don't just be the one who turns on or off the lights – be the one who gets in early or stays late in order to get things done. Not only will your performance stand out, you'll also start to...

2. Master a specific -- and valuable -- skill.

Meeting standards, however lofty those standards may be, won't help you stand out.

So go above the norm. Be the leader known for turning around struggling employees. Be the shipping manager who makes a few deliveries a week to personally check in with customers. Be the VP who promotes from within. Be known as the employee who responds quicker, acts faster, or always follows up.

Pick a worthwhile mission and then excel at that mission. I promise people will notice.

3. Create your own side projects.

Excelling at an assigned project is expected. Excelling at a side project -- especially one you created -- helps you stand out.

For example, years ago I decided to create a Web-based employee handbook my then-employer could put on the company Intranet. I worked on it at home on my own time. Some managers liked it but the HR manager didn’t, so it died an inglorious death.

I was disappointed but the company wasn't "out" anything, and soon after I was selected for a high visibility company-wide process improvement team because my little project had made me "that guy."

Try it. For example, experiment on a new process or service with a particular customer in mind. The customer will appreciate how you tried, without being asked, to better meet their needs... and you'll never be forgotten.

4. Put your effort where your mouth is.

Lots of people take verbal stands. Few take a stand and put actual effort behind their opinions.

Say you think a project has gone off the rails; instead of just pointing out its flaws so you can show everyone how smart you are, jump in and help fix it.

Everyone talks about problems. The people who help fix problems are the few who stand out.

5. Show a little of your personal side.

Personal interests help other people know and remember you. That's a huge advantage for a new employee or a company competing in a crowded market.

Just make sure your personal interests don't overshadow professional accomplishments. Being "the guy who does triathlons" is fine, but being "the guy who is always training and traveling to triathlons so we can never reach him when we need him" is not.

Let people know a little about you; a few personal details add color and depth to your professional image. (Plus it makes you a lot more likeable.)

6. Work harder than everyone else.

Nothing – nothing – is a substitute for hard work. (Sure, you can also work smarter -- but why not do both?)

Look around: How many people are working as hard as they can? Very few.

One way you can always stand out -- regardless of talent, experience, or skill -- is by outworking everyone else.

It's also the easiest way to stand out, because I guarantee you'll be the only one trying that hard.


6 Signs That It's Time To Make a Career Change

Aug. 4, 2014

Here are six signs that indicate it’s time to make a career change:

Loss of Purpose and Passion
Like any relationship, when your career has no meaning, it’s lost its purpose. When you are not excited about it, then you’ve lost your passion. If you have grown tired of getting up in the morning to compete for something you don’t believe in anymore – it’s time to move on. Your happiness is central to your ability to perform and advance in your career.

Early on in my career, I had the opportunity to take my career in another direction and make more money. But because my job at the time was meaningful and my employer invested in my future, I remained loyal and my passionate pursuit of excellence remained strong. The financial incentives are not enough, when the chance to find real personal significance and happiness is missing. This career decision allowed me to multiply my earnings five years later without leaving the company and industry where my purpose and passion was flourishing.

Talent Potential Is Not Valued
When your talent is not valued, it’s difficult to stay motivated. When your boss doesn’t trust your potential and will not sponsor your career advancement, it’s extremely hard to remain loyal.

My Dad – who just turned 97 years old – taught me to always value myself and to manage the development of my talent to assure its value kept growing. If your talent is not valued by your employer as you believe it should be, it may not be the best fit for you.

You must value your talent potential more than anyone else. Never allow your talent to be taken for granted. If it is, it may be time to move on.

Professional Growth Is Stunted
If you are bored, dissatisfied and unfulfilled, you must assess yourself and your career. For example, are you associating yourself with the right people? Are you in a comfort zone that is not allowing you to grow? Are you a big fish in a small pond?

When you go to work each day, are you stretching yourself to do more? Get out of the safety zone and put your entrepreneurial skills to the test. If you are unable to challenge yourself to grow and mature, then how can your employer help you? Are they investing in your professional development or are they content with your performance?

If there is no solution in sight, you must move on – or pay the price later on in your career when your resume doesn’t reflect enough success stories to merit advancement in your career.

Workplace Culture Is Not Trustworthy
A hostile work environment that operates in silos – where the executives are not transparent and are not touching the business as much as they lead it – is difficult to trust. This type of workplace culture becomes corrupted and begins to impact your performance and ability to advance. For example, when your employer continues to deliver false career succession plan promises without a legitimate reason, you should be concerned about its leadership and whether or not your employer deserves your talent and capabilities.

When you are part of an organization that is full of human capital, leadership and workplace problems– it’s time to consider a career change.

Not Sufficiently Rewarded
Your employer can invest in your career in a variety of ways – salary, bonus, professional development, benefits, stock-options, mentorship, sponsorship, promotions, etc. Only you know your hierarchy of needs – and what matters most to you. Manage your checklist and evaluate it quarterly. Hold yourself and your employer accountable.

It’s easy to become complacent in your career, but in today’s fiercely competitive and dynamic marketplace, you must be your own manager and continually be accountable to keep a “reward scorecard.” Rewards are not emotional – they are qualitative and quantitative measurements. If you are not being rewarded for your work – based on industry standards (or better) – it’s time to consider a career change.

Your Personal Brand Remains Dormant
If your employer does not allow you to be your authentic self at work – then it becomes impossible to perform and contribute at your highest levels. Being authentic means you can think, act and innovate in ways that come most naturally to you. When you become a victim of an identity crisis that is caused by your employer – it’s time to evaluate your career.

This happened to a colleague of mine at a Fortune 500. Though he survived several layoffs, he was eventually moved from a creative position to one crunching numbers. It was a total departure from his career path and personal brand, and it created such an identity crisis at work that it wasn’t long before he took action and moved on.

Whether employers are threatened by the desire of their employees to develop and live their own personal brand or simply don’t care – they are putting their company at risk of losing their top-talent.

Many Fortune 500s fall into this trap, only to find their employees conducting “digital makeovers” (i.e., developing a strong online presence for their own personal brand) to help themselves get discovered.

Review these six critical factors carefully and evaluate how they apply to your own career. You may also want to ask your employer to review them as well – as they are valuable reminders of what is required to retain and develop top talent – especially in their desire for a career that is more meaningful and purposeful than ever before.

(Written by Forbes 2013)

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!!



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