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Beware of An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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“Beware of an idea whose time has come.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It doesn’t matter what side of the political discourse one occupies, Secretary Hillary Clinton’s nomination (and acceptance) has put her in line to become the first woman President of the United States. This is huge! The significance of this is that twenty-one years ago, it did not seem possible. If and when she assumes the presidency, she will have Margaret Wade (of Dennis the Menace fame), and Psychologist Ann Ruben to thank.

In 1993, Ann, who had been studying children’s perceptions of women leaders, surveyed 1500 boys and girls from elementary schools, and asked them what they thought of a woman becoming President. Nor surprising, more girls thought it was possible. In 1995, while her husband was watching Dennis the Menace, he heard Dennis’ playmate Margaret Wade telling him thatSome Day a Woman Will Be President.”

That comment pushed Ruben to contact the creator of the popular comic strip to get permission to use the phrase on a t-shirt. She began selling the shirts to women’s organizations, and because of their popularity, she contacted her local Walmart to enquire if they would carry them. They bought dozens of them, but six weeks later the shirts were taken off the floor because some customers had found themtoo offensive”. Walmart’s head office even said they went against the company’sfamily values”. Well, the people spoke. They rallied against Walmart’s action and the t-shirts were put back on the shelves.

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The CBC interviewed Ann Rueben in 1995 when the Walmart story broke. Ann Rueben’s Interview with CBC.

So, twenty-one years ago, it didn’t seem possible. Now we are only a few months away from potentially having the first female President of the United States. How many of us had dreams from that many years ago that are still on the back burner because some people told us they couldn’t happen? How many of us have attempted to bring those dreams into reality only to be thwarted by our own doubts and fears, or by the fears inflicted on us by others?

In an interview with the Washington Post, Ann Ruben said that her father told her “Annie, you’re very smart, and whatever you decide to do in your life, you’re going to be successful. So don’t ever give up, Annie.” Those words gave her the incentive to continue her life’s work of helping to build the self-esteem of girls.

When I launched my mini non-profit Let’s GROW project earlier this year, it wasn’t as grandiose as Ruben’s t-shirts, but it was to encourage women to have a conversation with me, discuss a dream, go after it, and to never give up. Imagine staring at the college diploma of a woman who had a rough life, told she wouldn’t amount to anything, and lived her life believing it. At age 38, and with the help of a coach, she stopped believing the lies, went to college and now has a diploma to prove she is somebody.

Many of us never reach our full potential either because we don’t believe in ourselves or we give up too soon. But, perseverance is the key. When you are knocked down by life’s circumstances, pull yourself up with all the strength you have, and try again. If you cannot do it alone, ask for help. Christian author Dr. Jaime Fernandez Garrido said, “Many winners have reached success by climbing a special ladder called ‘never give up’”.

We are not all Hillary Clintons, and we might not aspire to be President of the United States, but what about taking charge and aspiring to be President of our own lives? You, too, can shatter the glass ceiling of whatever is holding you back. As Secretary Clinton herself said, “When there is no ceiling, the sky is the limit.”

As you reflect on the enormity of Secretary Clinton’s nomination, politics aside, and think of what is possible, may it serve as a motivating force to push you forward in whatever direction you choose. In the meantime, heed Ann Ruben’s advice: “You’re smart. Get educated. Don’t ever give up on your dream and you’ll make it. Hillary made it. She never gave up on her dream.”

“I Am the Greatest…”

Gotcha!

It’s not about me…

It’s not about Muhammad Ali…

It’s all about you!

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Last week I was preparing for one of my advanced speeches for Toastmasters. The project was a sales training speech to teach marketing and selling techniques to my audience.

As ironic as this sounds, I started the speech with this quote, “I am the greatest thing since sliced bread,”  intending to use it as a rally / pep talk for the audience. A few days later, I heard of the passing of Muhammad Ali. When I started preparing the speech, he and his famous “I am the greatest” quote were far from my mind, yet it was the same message I wanted to convey to my audience.

Ali branded himself as “The Greatest” and it stuck. He affirmed it until it became his reality. Most of all, he used it to taunt and conquer his boxing opponents. But, those words also encouraged many of us to believe in ourselves and our capabilities. Whether you liked him or not is debatable, but he was authentic, and believed in himself and his message. Why was he so effective? Because he believed that “as a man thinketh, so is he.”

Now, before anyone starts wondering how could a human being propagate himself to be the greatest, let me allay your fears. Even Ali himself recognized his limitations, when he said, “I am not greater than God; I am just the greatest in the ring.” And I concur.

What does Muhammad Ali’s quote have to do with career advice? It’s about the mindset. Writer Arthur Golden said, “A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.” Isn’t that true? When we clog our minds with doubt, or when we surround ourselves with people who speak negativity all day long, we are not opening ourselves to attain what’s possible.

As I reflect on some of Ali’s quotes, I want to remind you that you, too, are great, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You will meet naysayers of all stripes, but don’t let them throw cold water on your dreams. I have been there. I have many met people who tried to tell me what I could and could not do.

When I wanted to teach at a college years ago, there were people who asked me who told me I could. When I first announced I was going to write a book, one individual asked me a similar question. In their mind’s eye, it didn’t look possible, but I didn’t listen to them. Instead, I acted like the bumble bee. The story is told of the bumble bee who didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t supposed to fly. Although it has wings, the shape of its body (according to the law of aerodynamics), should prevent it from flying. No expert could talk this bumble bee out of flying. I imagine it felt its wings on its barrel-shaped body and something in its DNA said, “I am supposed to fly. I am not made to just crawl around on the ground”, and away it went flying. Muhammad Ali once said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”  The bumblebee took a courageous risk and look what happened.

You have to be courageous like the bumble bee, and take a risk. You can’t have a positive life with a negative mind. When negativity calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it, just hang up! That job opportunity you are after can be yours; that teaching position your are looking for can be yours; that business you are yearning to start can happen…just believe in yourself.

Champions

But, belief in self alone won’t cut it. You need to take action. That’s where most of us falter. We get excited about the possibilities, but fail to take action, or we give up after the novelty wears off. When you have been knocked down by the blows of life, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and remind yourself that you are the greatest. Remember, “Champions are not made in gyms. Champions are made from something deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will, but the will must be stronger than the skill.” ~Muhammad Ali.

Let me end with one more quote from Ali’s book The Soul of a Butterfly:

THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS

“All of my life, if I wanted to do something, I studied those who were good at it; then I memorized, what I learned, and believed that I could do it too, then I went out and did it.”

Dare to dream big! Dare to take chances. Let your mantra be “I am the greatest!” and believe it. Then apply the will and follow through, and see what happens.

 

Caught in a Salary Negotiation Trap? NEVER, EVER Do This…

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When it comes to salary negotiations, experts will tell you to postpone such discussions until you have been offered the job. That does not mean you should wait until that time to craft your negotiation story.

Imagine this: You have moved to a different state where the economy isn’t booming and the job market is gloomy. You have been applying for jobs and getting interviews but not the offer. Finally, in one of these interviews you are asked about the salary you are expecting. You are thrilled, and you start your answer “Well, I am new to the city, I know the job market isn’t that hot right now. Although I have the credentials for the position, and several years of experience, I only have two years experience in the field. I am willing to start at an entry-level salary of $50K.”

The interviewer wraps up the interview and you leave, feeling a bit uncertain. Imagine a few days later you see the same job advertised with a salary range of $70-$100K. What do you do?

This is a real scenario that happened to one of my clients. I listened to him as he explained his dilemma. Family circumstances necessitated the move, and now he is in a situation where he has to get a job, any job – even an entry-level one. I could sense the desperation in his voice.

Salary negotiation is not a comfortable topic for most people. It becomes even harder when our words and body language tell a story of desperation. As desperate as you may be though, never, ever do what this client did. George C. Fraser, Chairman and CEO of FraserNet Inc. said, “Never bargain or job hunt from a position of weakness. Soar like an eagle, even when you are feeling like a wounded pigeon.” Easier said than done, but there are tools to help job candidates navigate the salary negotiation maze.

The first step is to conduct research so you are more informed when the discussion comes up. At minimum, start with tools such as Salary.com, Payscale.com, salary.monster.ca, Careerjournal.com and Salaryexpert.com. Canada’s Job Bank also has information. These tools allow you to conduct research about salary ranges based on industry, location, job title, experience, etc.

A new resource featured recently on Fast Company, is Paysa.com. One of its cofounders, Chris Bolte told Fast Company that the goal for the platform is to help people figure out how to understand what their value is in the market, and prepare them to have a more balanced, data-driven conversation with either a current or future employer.

To use the tool, a candidate would enter information such as job title, years of experience, company, location, education level, and skill set, and the Paysa platform would give a comprehensive picture of what the candidate is worth in the market.

Having said all of the above, it’s important to keep in mind that salary figures are not universally applicable. You need to take into consideration locations (cities, regions, provinces, states or territories). Having some information puts you in a better position to negotiate.

While you are negotiating don’t get stuck on the dollar figure. Some companies might not pay the salary you want, but you could negotiate for additional vacation, a more flexible work schedule, company-paid training, or other perks. These, if converted to dollars, could raise your total compensation package.

Additional Advice from an Expert

Carole Martin, President of The Interview Coach, and contributor to my book, Tell Stories Get Hired, said that the first rule of salary negotiation is to be prepared with your numbers. You need to know what you want. You never want to be caught off-guard. When they ask you questions about salary you want to be prepared and ready with answers.

You have several options when faced with the question:

  • You can tell them what you were making at your last job. (Weigh the pros and cons before you offer this information).
  • You can give them a range that is acceptable to you – making sure that the lowest number is enough to cover your basic needs. (Better way of handling this difficult question).
  • You can postpone the discussion until you have more facts about the company and the entire package. (If possible this is the best scenario for you. Only then will you be able to do a fair comparison of what you have made in the past; satisfy your own basic needs; and get the deal that is the best for you).

How you handle the salary negotiation discussion will be key to your ability to get what you want, and more, and you won’t get caught in a salary negotiation trap.

 

Warning! You Could Be Damaging Your Brand With This Resume

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Want to distinguish your resume from every other resume on the recruiter’s desk? Yes, you can! And you don’t have to create one that looks like a patchwork quilt. This type of a resume is one where an individual copies phrases and sentences from other people’s career marketing documents (resume, cover letter, bio, LinkedIn Profile), and present them as their own.

This is a fairly common practice, and one that might start quite innocently. Someone might read a line or two from a resume, cover letter or LinkedIn Profile that sounds great, and feels it would fit snugly into their resume. The problem here though, is that this is no different from the many documented cases of high profile individuals who embellished their resumes with degrees, skills, experience and awards that they did not have.

One incident that comes to mind is the British-born chef who once had a successful cooking show on the cable channel Food Network. He cooked up a lie that he had been a chef at Buckingham Palace, and was even knighted by the Queen.

Some may argue that it’s a stretch to equate some of these famous lies with copying blocks of text or bits and pieces from other people’s job search documents and inserting them into a resume. But, you can bet if such a patchwork quilt resume lands on the desk of an eagle-eyed recruiter or hiring manager, one’s credibility could be called into question.

HOW TO SPOT A PATCHWORK QUILT RESUME

It is very easy to spot a patchwork quilt resume. The information is incoherent; statements are generic, and some phrases do not match the person’s level of experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of copyright infringements, plagiarism, and ethics. The fact is, if you are not able to capture your uniqueness on paper (or online), then you are better off seeking professional assistance.

HERE ARE SOME FACTS:

  • Your resume is a branding tool that tells YOUR story. It is authentic and compelling and showcases your value. This means, even if someone wakes you up in the middle of the night, you could easily and effortlessly articulate your accomplishments without fumbling. Why? Because you own those stories.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. Differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a resume that captures YOUR unique talents, accomplishments and experience. As much as you may be tempted to copy phrases, keywords and sentences from other people’s resumes because they sound good, it doesn’t help you in the long run. You are unique, and so should your resume.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Instead of copying your friend’s resume or searching the Internet for samples you can reproduce as your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself these questions: “What have I done with all the responsibilities I was given? What is my legacy in that role? How has the company benefitted from my presence?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what?’ principle to each. If one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened? “What was the outcome?”
  • Review your performance appraisals and comments from your boss and your peers. What is consistent about those comments? Do they highlight your strengths? Also, look for nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a resume that tells YOUR story. For years you have been accumulating education, training, and experience and depositing them into your skills bank. Now all you need to do is to tap into that bank, withdraw the experience and achievements that relate to the position you are targeting, and you are ready to craft a resume that’s uniquely yours. In doing so, make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the “Why should we hire you?” question.

In this highly-connected digital environment that we occupy, a patchwork quilt resume will not work. In fact, it does not speak to the real you, and will more likely give the impression you have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. You goal should be to craft a resume that reflects who you really are, and not one that could damage your brand.

Need professional assistance? Reach out to someone who can help you tell your unique story to make you stand out from your competitors.

It is 2016: Do You Know Where Your SMART Goals Are?

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It is 2016! Do you know where your SMART goals are?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”  Wise words indeed, but, how many people really set goals, even though they believe in the concept? Not too many.

Mind map created on blackboard with colorful crumpled sticky notes and white chalk - setting personal goals in different areas of life (artistic, attitude, care

Goal setting might sound like a cliché, but it is a powerful exercise as it provides a sense of direction, helping us decide where we want to go and how we will get there. But, it requires SMART thinking. It requires that our goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, and aligned with our deepest desire. Below are five SMART steps that could help you stay focused and achieve your goals in 2016:

SET GOALS INSTEAD OF RESOLUTIONS

It is common for many of us to make New Year’s resolutions. We are turning over a new page, everything looks and sounds exciting, and we resolve to do a lot of things. The problem is these resolutions are transitory. They disappear almost as fast as they are made. Goals, on the other hand, seem more tangible and realistic, and easier to be attained. Goal setting is a critical element of one’s career, or life, but it requires discipline and commitment. It doesn’t make sense to say, “I resolve to get a new job, change my career, or start a business”, then sit around and wait for them to fall in your lap. It’s not going to happen! You need to commit to a plan, follow up with action, then have the resilience to stick with it to the end.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

My well-used, dog-eared copy of Henriette Anne Klauser’s book, Write It Down and Make It Happen, is a great reminder that keeping your goals in your head won’t make them happen. You have to write them down. When you do this, you create a major shift and suddenly it makes you feel you are halfway there. So, write your goals down and make them happen.

ABANDON NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

This one saps every energy out of you. When you regularly engage in negative self-talks, or surround yourself with negative people, you are setting the stage for these negative behaviours to coalesce and hold you back from achieving your goals. Let go of negativity in all its forms and embrace positive, confidence-boosting self-talk.

REVIEW YOUR PROGRESS

It’s always a good idea to review your progress. Spend at least 10 minutes each day checking to see where you are. This ensures you are still on track, and demonstrates your commitment to the process. To keep you motivated, reward yourself for each milestone reached. These rewards don’t have to be big, but enough to encourage you to carry on.

THINK BIG!

It is often said that one of the mistakes we make in setting goals is not thinking big enough, but big goals generate excitement and passion. They might make you feel uncomfortable, but that’s OK. Don’t settle for goals that are too easy to reach. Strive for the ones that will stretch you beyond your comfort zone. If they appear too challenging, break them into small, manageable steps, but don’t give up, think big.

You now have some additional tips to help you set SMART goals in 2016. Take the process one step further by sharing your goals with a circle of people who want to see you succeed; those who will encourage and inspire you when the going gets tough. Commit to your plan and become your own success story in 2016. Happy New Year!

Thinking Your Way to the Top: 10 Ways to Think Through a Thought

Positive Thinking Mind Showing Optimism Or Belief

 

 

The Cover Letter is Dead…Long Live the Cover Letter

Cover Letter_TheWrightCareer2Every so often we hear or read about the death of the resume, but somehow it continues to hang on for dear life. Nowadays, though, it seems that this prediction has reached the cover letter.

In two recent articles – one from Elevate Talent Network, and the other from The Huffington Post – it is being inferred that the cover letter is dying, or has died. This post is not to persuade the converts. It is purely to stand up for the cover letter even if we are witnessing its demise.

Are Cover Letters a Waste of Time?

In February, a few recruiters met with about 80 residents of Liberty Village in Toronto to discuss job search strategies. In answer to the question, “Should I write a cover letter?”, they responded with a resounding and unanimous ‘NO’. The blog post about the event stated “Cover letters were seen by far as a waste of time. Recruiters don’t have the time or the inclination to read your cover letters.”

When I read it, I wondered aloud if it was or is an absolute that exists in recruiter-land. But No! Many people involved in hiring have said the same thing. I was speaking with a human resources manager in one of our regional governments a couple of years ago, and she said that they did not require cover letters, yet they want to see an Objective on the resume. Well, let’s say the Objective requires another debate.

What About the Other 50%

In a survey I conducted several years ago with Canadian HR Managers, recruiters and others involved in hiring, 50% of them indicated that they did not want to see a cover letter, or that cover letters didn’t matter one way or the other. I wondered then about the other 50%.

My colleague Maureen McCann mentioned a time when she was pitching a workshop to human resource managers in one government agency. When she asked the question about cover letters, she received a 50/50 response. This is a quote from Maureen:

“For the 50% who said cover letters remained an important part of the application process, a number of them went further to explain the cover letter is an essential part of the application process. So much so, that the application instructions specifically read (in bold text):

“In addition to your application, you are required to submit a cover letter which demonstrates clearly in writing with concrete examples how you meet each of the essential Education, Experience and the Asset qualifications. Resumes will only be used as a secondary source to validate the information provided in the cover letter.”

There is certainly a valid argument against cover letters. Time is definitely an issue for recruiters who want to fill a position quickly. And as one of the recruiters said in a response to me, “…with the wide spread adoption of the ATS they [cover letters] don’t often make it into our hands (even if we were inclined to read them).”

But what happens to those recruiters and hiring managers who want to see a cover letter? How will a candidate know which ones want or do not want to read a cover letter? Some companies request in their job postings that candidates submit a resume and cover letter. The website of one provincial government asks that the cover letter be combined with the resume and submitted as one document.

The Huffington Post article mentions Allan Jones, chief marketing officer for recruiting site ZipRecruiter, who points out that while some cover letters “… are uninspired copy-paste form letters [they] can still be effective in some cases, especially when they are personalized and reveal specific reasons why a candidate might be a good fit for a position.”

Who Will Stand Up for the Cover Letter?

With such diverse opinions, it’s hard to know which way to go. As a result, I have listed below three simple reasons why the cover letter may still have a life:

  1. Job seekers do not know what side of the 50% cover letter equation some recruiters fall. Therefore, they should err on the side of caution and send one anyway. It is better to have it ignored or tossed out rather than to regret not sending one.
  2. A cover letter can address certain situations that won’t necessarily fit on a resume, such as reason(s) for a gap in employment. It can be used to draw their attention to one of the pain points you (the job seeker) can solve.
  3. Even for those who do not want to see a traditional cover letter, a candidate can create a cover letter within the body of the email when attaching the resume. Most people will open and read an email, especially when it has a strong subject line.

Is it time to let go of the cover letter, or does it still have a life?

Related Links:

Resume Questions from the Heart of Liberty

5 Reasons the Cover Letter Should Just Die

Also posted on LinkedIn

Give Your Job Search a Boost: Do the Unthinkable!

Obstacles_photodune-6077247-rock-xsLauren Holliday, a contributor to my book Tell Stories, Get Hired: Innovative Strategies to Land Your Next Job and Advance Your Career, decided to create an email marketing campaign to contact potential employers after she had tried all traditional job search strategies. Her effort garnered 15 interview invitations.

Recently, the Toronto Star published the story of Xingyi Yan, a University of Toronto graduate, who used an unconventional technique to find a job. She donned a large placard announcing her availability for advertising and marketing opportunities. For seven days last December she stood in the frigid streets of Toronto with the sign around her neck. There were skeptics; there were those who brought her coffee to keep her warm, and then there was the managing director of Reprise Media, Joseph McConellogue, who took a chance on her.

McConellogue remarked about Yan, “We were very impressed with her initiative and her resourcefulness …She took things into her own hands, took a very different approach to finding a job. You don’t see that in a lot of people.”

Last June, Canadian Business had a story about the changing of the guards at Royal Bank – Dave McKay was replacing Gord Nixon as CEO. The headline grabbed my attention: With a new CEO and $4 billion to spend, RBC looks primed to make a major acquisition. I sent the link to two of my clients (one a General Manager, and the other a Director of Finance), with the following message:

“A new CEO of Royal Bank, Canada’s largest and most profitable bank, is taking office in August. According to the article, the bank has so much money he (the CEO) won’t know what to do with it. Wouldn’t it be a great idea for someone to build a business case and let him know what to do with that much money?

This approach might not land you a job there, but at least you would get on his radar and he would know you exist! Sometimes we have to try unconventional ways to get attention even from the head honcho!”

As far as I know, they didn’t take my advice. They probably thought that such an approach was too brazen, while I was thinking  it was a risk worth taking. I asked David Perry, of executive search firm, Perry Martel, what he thought of my suggestion to the two individuals. He said, “I could be wrong, but I think they were scared. Most people won’t do something novel or different unless not doing it is more painful than doing it.”  Could it be they felt intimidated?

Last week, I spoke to some students at Centennial College encouraging them to take chances. I weaved pieces of my story into the presentation: how I sometimes took chances and did the unthinkable without knowing if it would work. Like the time years ago when I applied for a job at the UN during a short stopover in New York. I got the job, and that delayed my move to Canada. Another time was when I got an opportunity to teach at Sheridan College after I didn’t listen to the naysayers who asked me what I knew about teaching.

Sometimes we have to be like the bumblebee, and do the unthinkable. It is said that because of the shape of its body and size of its wings the bumble bee did not get the memo that it was not supposed to fly. It took a look on both sides of its body, discovered it had wings, and said, “These wings were made for flying. I’m not made to just crawl around on the ground. I am going to do the unthinkable”, and away it went flying.

Whether you are an entry-level or senior-level candidate, sometimes you must allow yourself to be vulnerable, and try unconventional methods to get the attention of and engage potential employers. This is not the time to be shy or be intimidated. With competition in the job market, and layoffs making the news, it might just be worth your while to take a chance, do the unthinkable and give your job search a boost.

Hard Facts About Soft Skills and Why You Need Them

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“During the session you told me of a document I need to complete. When can I expect it?”

“I have all the requirements for the attached position, when will we discuss it?”

“Sorry to miss our meeting. I am available tomorrow at the same time.”

Ouch! Those are snippets from email correspondence from a client before we had a discussion on the hard facts about soft skills. He is a brilliant and technically savvy professional, but with such a brusque attitude, and one that lacked common courtesies, he was heading in the wrong career direction.

It is often said that the majority of employees fail in their jobs, not because of their technical prowess but because of poor interpersonal skills; a shortcoming in their social, communication, and self-management behaviours. These are soft skills, and they play a significant role in one’s ability to.

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

Hard skills are the technical abilities required to do a job or perform a task, and are usually acquired through education and training. They include the ability to use computers and software programs, operate machines, analyze data, etc. These skills are easy to observe, quantify, measure, and teach.

Soft skills, also called “interpersonal” or “people skills”, are harder to observe, quantify and measure. They are required for everyday interactions in and outside the workplace, and complement the technical or hard skills. Soft skills relate to how people communicate, listen, engage in discussions, give feedback, collaborate as a team member, solve problems and resolve conflicts.

An interviewer will not ask a candidate if he or she has soft skills, but will ask questions to uncover how the skills were used. The same could be said about the term ‘corporate fit or culture’. No one will ask a direct question like, “Do you think you will be a good fit for our company?”, but they will ask questions to see if, and how well, a potential employee will fit into the company. Will they mesh with the team or will they disrupt team synergy.

An individual could have the required expertise, but that, by itself, is not enough. Companies also look for people who are can communicate well, and who are positive, respectful, reliable and honest. They also look for people who are able to function in cross-cultural environments, appreciate differences and contribute to a team.

In a Huffington Post interview recently, Faizolhardi Zubairy, Head of Digital Media at PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad, was asked what was the most valuable advice he had ever received when he was facing challenges in his career. He said, “Hone your soft skills. While your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your people skills will open more doors for you.

Your work ethic, attitude, communication skills, negotiation skills, emotional intelligence and leadership are the soft skills that are crucial for career success.

As you can see, hard or technical skill is not all that’s required to obtain and keep a job. One’s attitude and attributes are also very important. The fact someone might know their job well is not a guarantee of on-the-job success. In fact, given the choice, some employers would prefer to hire someone with more soft skills and less hard skills, because they believe they can teach someone the hard skills, but it’s difficult and time-consuming to teach soft skills.

If you are someone who struggles with a lack of soft skills, all is not lost. These skills can be developed and sharpened through training and practise, and this will help you to advance in your personal and professional life.

Welcome Aboard Flight 2015

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Welcome Aboard Flight 2015! This is both a New Years’ greeting as well as a dose of my usual Monday Rx.

First of all, I am not the author of the original message, and I do pay homage to that person for his or her ingenuity. But, I thought it was such a classic New Year’s message that I decided to create this Infographic and put a slightly different spin on it.

Since it’s the first Monday of the year, I think it would be a good idea to think of what’s ahead for you as you board flight 2015. Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Have you set any specific goals for the year? If you haven’t, it means you have indirectly set one, and it is to remain where you are.
  • Have you decided if you will be a passenger or the pilot of your career this year? It’s up to you to determine if you will be taking charge of your career in 2015, or you will be assigning such an important responsibility to others.
  • Are you ready to eliminate the negative thoughts or people that surrounded you in 2014? My advice is, when negativity calls you on the phone this year, don’t argue with it, just hang up!

In addition to those thoughts, here are some wise words from famed basketball coach, John Wooden. Unlike resolutions, these are promises you can keep:

 

  • Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness, and prosperity as often as possible.
  • Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value.
  • Promise to think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best from yourself and others.
  • Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  • Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future.
  • Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile.
  • Promise to give so much time improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit trouble to press on you.

We cannot rewind the past, but we can take advantage of the present, and leap into the future with great expectations. That’s my wish for you in 2015. Welcome aboard flight 2015. Enjoy the ride, and contact me if you need a career companion!