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Planting New Seeds in Your Career

In the book, The Seasons of Life by Jim Rohn, he uses the seasons as a metaphor for how we live our lives. In life, if the farmer doesn’t plant seeds in the spring, come fall, there won’t be a harvest. And so it is with careers, if employees do not take the time to plant new seeds, their careers may flounder and not flourish. Are you feeling like your career is stuck-in-a-rut? Perhaps it is the right time to plant new seeds.

Seeds take time to grow: When you plant a seed, the plant doesn’t appear the next day. And there are instances when the time between planting the seed and it breaking ground is so long that you think nothing is happening because it is not visible to the naked eye. For you, planting new seeds could be taking courses to give you more employment options, it could be letting your boss know that you are interested in a new role, it could be letting people in your network know that you are interested in new employment opportunities, or it could be tweaking your online social media profiles and becoming more active. In all of these instances, you are taking action, you are planting new seeds, but you have to realize that some of these seeds you have planted will take time to bear fruit, and some may not bear fruit at all.

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Reference-Checking Your Future Boss

During an employment interview, an employer is checking out job candidates to find the best one for the organization, but it should also be a time when job seekers are checking out prospective employers to decide if they are the best fit for them. As a job seeker, you already know the situations and environments in which you thrive, therefore, you want to make the best choice in employment. The last thing you want to do is accept a job and later discover that you cannot work with your boss. One of the best ways to discover if a job is really the best fit for you, is to reference-check your future boss.

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6 Tips to Get Your Stalled Job Search on Track

There are times during a job search when job seekers veer off their intended path. Professionals who are feeling like their job search is stalled can take several corrective actions.

Focus your job search: Evaluate what you have done so far, are you applying for the right jobs?  Do you need to revamp your resume? Is your brand evident? Are you using the various tools available – networking, job sites, recruiters and social media?  Have you expanded your target list of companies that you would like to work for?

Create a professional blog: Market yourself to employers on a blog by building your expertise – blog about issues that impact your industry. Install LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter share and follow buttons to make it easy for others to share and connect with you. Create a page on your blog to post your resume.

Get job search help: Seek outplacement services, hire a coach or an employment counsellor. Take full advantage of all such services your company might provide.  You don’t have to go it alone since there are qualified professionals who can help you to kick-start your job search.

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Creating a Killer Elevator Pitch

At networking events and job interviews, a common ice breaker is, “Tell me about yourself.” To respond confidently, it’s vital to have a practiced elevator pitch that sounds impressive, authentic and engages others so they want to learn more about you.

There is a basic formula that works all the time.

Background/Branding Statement/Target Position: State what you do and how long you have been doing it. Include what you are best known for – your keys strengths, unique selling proposition and the value that you bring.

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The Importance of a Positive Work Attitude

Have you ever noticed that the employees with the most positive attitudes in the workplace have the most friends? People want to be around those who make them feel better about themselves. Employees with positive attitudes tend to be more productive employees because they always see the accompanying opportunity with every challenge. Things are seldom as bad as you think they are: Research shows that only eight percent of the things we worry about are worth being concerned about. People with positive work attitudes know this, therefore they do not waste time worrying, and they expend their energies on more positive activities. There are several benefits to having a positive work attitude, and many ways to cultivate a positive work attitude.

Benefits of Having a Positive Work Attitude

Better for your mental health because you are better able to cope with stressful situations at work [link to Stressed Out on the Job? Relief is on the Way!].
Ability to inspire and motivate self and others.
Ability to turn every challenge into an opportunity, or make less than ideal situations into better ones.
Seen as role models and garner more respect.

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7 Interviewing tips to help you get the job you want

The job interview is probably one of the most important parts of getting the job you want. It’s your opportunity to show off your skills and impress your future boss.

However, it’s easy to get nervous, which can cause you to fumble over words – and possibly even forget how to answer an easy question.

So here are 7 ways to knock the socks off the interviewer – and get the job you want:

1. Research the Company
One surefire way to impress your employer is do research on the company. Learn about the company’s mission, its customers, its competition, the industry, and read any current press releases. Visit the company’s website and learn everything you can. The more you know, the more likely you may impress your future employer.

2. Memorize Some Company Facts
Make flash cards with some key points you learned about the company. Memorize any important details you could mention in your interview to show the interviewer that you have done your research.

3. Dress to Impress
Make sure you walk into your interview dressed very well. It’s better to be over-dressed than to look like just a regular employee. You want people to see you and think you are a top-notch consultant.

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Get people to say “yes” with one simple conversational trick

There are lots of techniques for becoming more persuasive, but perhaps the simplest, most practical technique is the “But You Are Free” method. A review of 42 psychology studies (on 22,000 people) suggests this technique could double the chances someone would say “yes” to you. Read on to see how this works. If you want to, that is.

See what I did there? That’s the “But You Are Free” technique, basically: Make a request, but acknowledge the other person has a choice. PsyBlog explains that this persuasion technique reaffirms the person’s freedom of choice and indirectly tells the other person that you’re not threatening his/her ability right to say no.

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How to Set Goals That Lead to Happiness

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, may answer one of the paradoxes of happiness: why trying to be happy sometimes makes us less happy (Rudd et al., 2014).

Perhaps, suggest the authors, our goals for happiness are too broad and all-encompassing, when they’d be better off specific and achievable.

Unrealistic expectations of how happy we can be and what we can achieve may lead to more unhappiness in the long-term.

One of the study’s authors, Jennifer Aaker, explained:

“Although the desire for personal happiness may be clear, the path to achieving it is indefinite.

One reason for this hazy route to happiness is that although people often think they know what leads to happiness, their predictions about what will make them happy are often inaccurate.”

To investigate these ideas, the researchers carried out a series of six experiments.

In one experiment, participants were divided into two groups and each formed a slightly different type of goal:

One group formed the goal of making someone happy,
Another group formed the goal of making someone smile.
People then performed all sorts of acts of kindness in pursuit of this goal, like:

Giving a gift.
Telling a joke.
Sharing an amusing video.
Giving some food.
What the researchers found was that the acts performed in the service of the concrete goal (making someone smile) made the givers themselves feel happier than the abstract goal (making someone happy).

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How To Set Better Goals: Avoid Four Common Mistakes

It’s no accident that goal-setting pervades so many areas of modern life.

There are hundreds of research studies going back decades showing that setting goals can increase people’s performance.

Most have heard the goal-setting mantra that goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T.); but few recognise the dangers of poor goal-setting and the unintended consequences that can follow.

Here’s how to avoid four common problems with goal-setting, which are highlighted by Ordonez et al. (2009) at the Harvard Business School.

1. Too specific

The problem with setting goals that are too specific is that they can bias people’s behaviour in unintended ways.  For example:

If you use goals to effectively tell a university professor that all that’s important is publishing articles, then what is going to happen to her teaching?
If you tell call-centre staff that the main thing is how quickly they answer the phone, what’s going to happen to how they deal with the call?
Very specific goals can degrade overall performance by warping the way people view their jobs.

Better goals: keep them somewhat vague. This gives people control and choice over how they do their jobs. When people are given vaguer goals they can take into account more factors: in short it makes them think for themselves. It’s no wonder that having control is strongly linked with job satisfaction.

2. Too many goals

Perhaps the answer, then, is to set loads of goals which cover all aspects of a person’s work? Not necessarily, as that introduces its own problems.

For one thing people tend to concentrate on the easiest goal to the exclusion of the others. For example, in one study participants were given both quality and quantity goals related to a task. When quantity goals were easier to achieve than quality, they focused mostly on quantity.

This study is showing how a well-meaning goal can warp people’s behaviour in unintended directions.

Better goals: limit the total number of goals. Apart from anything else, who can remember 10 or 20 goals they are supposed to be working towards?

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Tidy or Messy Desk: Which is Best For The Mind?

And yet the messy desk can attract smirks and even censure in the office.

So, how to solve the great messy/tidy desk debate? Who is right?

Well, new research has found that order and disorder in the environment have different psychological consequences.

In their first experiment participants were asked to fill out some questionnaires in an office (Vohs et al., 2013). Some did it while the office was clean and tidy and others did so when it was messy, with office supplies and papers strewn about.

Afterwards they had the chance to donate to charity and choose a healthy or unhealthy snack. The results showed that:

“Being in a clean room seemed to encourage people to do what was expected of them. Compared with participants in the messy room, they donated more of their own money to charity and were more likely to choose the apple over the candy bar.”

So the workplace that wants compliance and good behaviour is probably right to put a premium on tidy desks.

What, though, if you want creativity?

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