The Power of Saying ‘No’

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Whether you are a young professional fresh out of college or a seasoned veteran entering your first day at your new company, making a strong first impression will always be one of the biggest priorities at the workplace. It is, in itself, an inauguration to the position and professional brand you want to establish the minute you walk through those doors. But as much as it is important to please those around you, it is absolutely imperative that you learn the concept and power to say ‘no’ to certain things.

In today’s society, we are driven by our ideals and endeavors to be the Jack-of-all-Trades at whatever company or organization you are affiliated with. While I will never reprimand a person for giving it their best to a particular position, I will say that when it comes to success, success and all of its glory will come when you know how to pick your battles. To this, I mean saying ‘no.’

Like many others, saying ‘no’ can be an incredibly difficult thing. With the word yes, you are not just accepting new and exciting opportunities, but also assuming new responsibilities for leadership and growth. While the positive gains will always favor that of saying ‘yes,’ you also have to live in the realm of reality. Not everyone can do XYZ while also managing an entire company. Understanding the limits and negative impacts that the word ‘yes’ can have can save you from undoing your success.

To start, as much as saying yes gives you opportunities for success, it also gives you ever-growing responsibilities for stress and anxiety. With a new task, you will be forced to assume various roles that go beyond the standard. Now, it never hurts to assume those particular roles. But if you know said-opportunity will hinder your work, it is your job to evaluate whether or not the overall return on investment and sacrifice is worth the hassle. Yes, you will need these chances to grow, but you also do not want to risk your own personal work because of the addition assignments you take on. Make sure you know your limits. Many young professionals are blinded by the opportunity to move up within the ladder that they end up shooting themselves in the foot because they were not paying attention to their initial responsibilities.  If you know the additional assignments are too much for you, just say no. The only harm a simple ‘no’ can do is that the new assignment will be given to another person.

Now to speak more about saying ‘no,’ the one thing every business will tell you is that quality is, and will always be, better than quantity. It is a simple concept taught to us throughout our formative years but has somehow lost its way when it comes to the corporate environment. While handing a bunch of tasks and completing them will always be seen as an achievement, nothing can showcase your strengths and professional development than the quality of your work. The simple reason is that quality is everything. It provides a stronger attraction and holds a more lucrative profit than anything in the world. When it comes to saying ‘no,’ you want to make sure that those opportunities you do say ‘yes’ to will not impact the quality of your current work. Yes, the work itself will change because of the amount of task you will be assuming, but if you know that the standard of your work will greatly suffer, then say ‘no’ might be your best option. Think of this in baseball terms, if you want to knock it out of the park, one home run will always be better than two doubles. Make your standards and your quality your top priority. Anything else should be secondary unless you know you can handle both tasks.

Lastly, after assessing the request and evaluating an opportunity’s benefits, make sure you say no in a proper and respectful way. Harvard Business Review goes over this concept and outlines specific tips that can help you through this process. First and foremost, after politely declining the opportunity, still show a willingness to pitch, even if it is in a small way. The ability to still be an asset will showcase your versatility and respect within the office. In addition, practice saying ‘no.’ The more you do it, the better and easier it will become. Make sure you are cognizant of your tone and provide a specific logical reason for bowing out at the opportunity. The more transparent and understanding you can be, the better.

Time Management Tips

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When it comes to work, it seems as if our lives become busier and busier each and every day. While it usually impossible to check off everything on your ‘to-do’ list or calendar, there are certain time management tips that you can utilize to help you prioritize your day. This, in turn, will allow you t to alleviate iron out all of the logistics within the workplace, while also alleviating your stress and anxiety at the office.

To begin, it is imperative that you plan ahead. I like to call this backward planning. Yes, we all have a calendar that, at times, dictates our day-to-day. But to create a schedule without an end-goal in mind will leave you scatterbrained and disorganized no matter what you have planned out. To do this efficiently, effectively, and consistently, start by creating a goal of what you want to accomplish within the workweek. You can even go as far as to create a backward plan for the entire month. Whatever is the case, make sure you are planning for the future. From there, you will be able to prioritize various projects and assignments and create a tangible realistic list that you can accomplish each and every day; the more comprehensive your plan and end-goals are, the better. Look at this in the perspective of a teacher. If a teacher is looking to have their students write a book report at the end of the month, they need to make sure they can compile and consolidate various lessons that can help them achieve their goals on a day-to-day basis. While everything cannot be accomplished within a day, having that time frame because of their backward plan strategy will allow them to leverage and capitalize various holes and opportunities for their students Similar to a teacher, you want to make sure you create your daily operations in a similar way. If you know you have a project to accomplish within a three-weeks time, make sure you break it up. This will also give you an opportunity to internalize the problems and task on a deeper level so that you can execute it in the most optimal way possible.

Now to have that sort of plan, make sure you have various systems in place. For many young professionals, one of the biggest mistakes they make is not creating an organizational structure that irons out all of the logistics within the workday. One thing that you absolutely need to master is your calendar. Some people do this in a variety of ways. Whether it is online or by hand, make sure your systems allow you to effectively execute on whatever task you are working with. Allow it to even work in your favor even if there are flaws within the system itself. By creating a system of this magnitude, you will be able to take control of various situations even when they may not seem manageable at the time.  

One way to truly perfect your systems is, of course, perfecting how and what you prioritize within a day. Prioritizing will be an extremely important fact when you are planning your day. While you want to, of course, tackle the toughest and most urgent projects first, you want to make sure you have a specific game plan for each task. Remember, projects of that magnitude will always take time. Because of that, break that task down and prioritize and hit specific objectives that can lead you to your end-goal. By prioritizing your schedule in this way, you will be able to alleviate stress and schedule certain blocks of ‘free time’ to answer calls, respond to emails, and eliminate unnecessary distractions. Remember, a simple email will always be there for you to respond to within a day. But the task of getting a project started will always be the first hurdle to your success within your company.

Now, as much as you want to be a go-getter within the office, you will often find out that some things are just impractical to do. This can be a specific team assignment a person is asking you to do or a new task given to you by your boss. If you know you already have a lot on your plate, do not think you are in the wrong or saying ‘no.’ Saying no can be a powerful tool within your artillery. With the armies of work may be at the gates, you as a professional need to prioritize your time for the more important tasks. Because of this, this will require you to say ‘no’ to particular opportunities, even if they benefit you in the future. If you do see a greater return on investment in those opportunities, try and find a way to capitalize it. If you know for a fact that those opportunities will hinder or impact your work in a negative manner, politely decline. At the end of the day, quality will always be better than quantity. Never mistake that.

Lastly, spend some time reflecting on your day-to-day. If you found that today was filled with stress and anxiety, ask yourself what you could have done to alleviate or lighten your load. At times, that type of positive thinking will help you improve and develop as a professional. One mistake many people make is that they allow those bad days to weigh heavily on them. While bad days will always exist, you cannot allow that to question or doubt your abilities. Everyone has those bad days, but to self-reflect and to find various ways in which you can improve on them through your work schedule will be incredibly beneficial in getting you back on track.

What to Learn from Failure

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The road to success can be a very difficult and arduous task. As a young professional, you will face a variety of different obstacles. But the one biggest obstacle that we all face in life is failure.

While failure itself has a negative stigma associated with it, the concept and overall idea provides great lessons and insights about ourselves. Many people have even gone as far as to say that failure is the great teacher. While true in a way, accepting the concept of failure is harder than that it seems. Why? The problem is that failure is not just cryptic in its nature, but also it is downright damaging. Trying to figure out its lessons is no easy task, especially when you are nursing a bruised ego and are trying to move beyond the frustration, disappointment, and demoralization of the situation. For some people, it takes a few weeks. For others, it takes almost a year. But as much as you can refer to those moments with resentment and hopelessness, it is imperative that you, as an individual, accept them as they are if you want to grow both personally and professionally and move on to greater things.

Now to do this, you need to see these disappointing moments as windows of opportunity. As difficult as it may be, framing these incidences in this manner will allow you to learn and uncover those hidden teachable moments so that you can not just move on, but also grow in a bigger and better way. To help you deduce what exactly those lessons are and how they can help improve your chances of future success, I have provided various guidelines so that you can understand, plan, evaluate, and execute later on down the road.

To being, think back and reflect on those moments. Ask yourself those overarching questions of what happened and why did the result end the way it did. By challenging yourself with those hard-to-ask questions, you will be able to dive deeper into the minuscule flaws that you could have refined to help rectify the situation. Now, this is by no means a way for you to regret anything that you have done. What was done is in the past. The only thing you can do now is to learn from those mistakes and move forward. If there is a way where you can change your style of work or change your style of thinking, do that. If not, try thinking of other alternative routes that can help you get to your end goal.

Once you have self-evaluated and reflected on your goals, it is now time for you to reevaluate your planning and preparation for the next step. For some people, this is just the next project. For others, this is for their next job. Whatever is the case, make sure you spend your planning on the basis of your personal and professional goals. If the task and or job was similar to that specific moment of failure, try and strategizing of various ways of how you can avoid those similar mistakes. Remember, learning to anticipate for hurdles and problems will be your biggest asset starting anew. In the grand scheme of things, a vast majority of people spend a little time planning and deciphering these moments and continue to run into the same obstacles and unexpected circumstances. To prevent that from happening to you, utilize what you know and leverage it to your benefit.

After strong and strategic planning, try and focus on variables in your own control. During the early stages after a failure, you can often feel very passive and helpless going into a variety of situations. That fire that was once there seems to be only a flicker of light that may or may not be extinguished. While the dark times can be suffocating, do not allow that perceptual distortion to push you out of your locus of control. Instead, leverage what you know. Much of this goes back to the strategic thinking and self-reflecting portion of this blog, but to start executing specific objectives will give you the confidence necessary for controlling your failure and putting you back on the path of success.

Keep this in mind; failure is a part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn, you will never change. See these moments as not the opposite of success but as a part of your growth and success in the future.

Applying to the Big Firms

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With application season continuing all year round, it is imperative as a young professional to truly understand the logistics that goes into applying for a job, especially for the big banking, consulting, and accounting sector. For many of these companies, hiring managers are searching for reasons to rule out applicants. To help better prepare your application in the best light, make sure you invest a strong amount of your time to design a strong and viable foundation that can help design and showcase your personal and professional background and achievements in the best possible way.

Now to start, it is imperative that you understand the type of company and job you want. For many people, it is easy to say that you want to work for Goldman & Sachs or Bain Capital, but to have a strong and holistic understanding of the nature of the job, it is imperative to your job application that you do a sufficient amount of research and cross-examination for that desires and needs of your future employer. To help narrow down your options, think about the kind of position you want and the type of qualifications and assets that you can bring to the table. For many of these high-level positions, they are seeking world-class applicants that are the Jack-of-all-Trades if you will. While this may seem daunting, do not let this discredit your educational and professional work experience. Consider the field and the position and the skills that are required from you and your future employer. If you feel that you have an ample amount of knowledge and skills to handle said-position, continue doing your research. If you feel it may be a bit of a stretch, still do further research. There may be other alternatives for you to get to that position in a different path. The main thing here is for you to create strong and tangible goals that can help proliferate your professional trajectory in the best possible way.

Once you have done a strong overview of the various positions and companies that you are interested in, make sure you take a look at their recruiting timelines. While hiring may be an ongoing thing, do not make the mistake of missing specific recruiting applicant timelines. For many of these big firms, they take weeks, sometimes months to decide if an applicant is right for them. Because of this, they have set specific recruiting timelines in the Fall and Spring, most usually around January to seek prospective applicants from all different backgrounds. By paying attention to the recruiting timelines, you will be able to take advantage of any recruitment events and meet and greets that can get your foot into the door.

Once you have mapped out the recruiting timeline, go back to the drawing board and review the position and application requirements. During this process, you should only have a handful of companies to look at, especially if it is within one of these specific fields and firms. Make sure you do a strong amount of research on the company, the company’s history, and the company’s goals. In addition, look at the application requirements. For these positions, they will go beyond the standard background information and ask you to do various case studies. If they have a particular application toolkit, make sure you utilize that to your advantage. The more prepared you are, the better. In addition, take a look at this in this perspective, much of these interviewing processes are strong learning experiences for the next opportunity. What you say and do that be big factors in helping you move forward in getting that dream job. Now, last but not least, make sure you know what your position entails. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to only know the position by the title itself. Do your research and even ask and interview friends or mentors who are in similar fields. This can give you a greater insight into the type of work you will be doing in the future, while also highlighting your knowledge to a said-hiring manager.  

As you are going through the application process, just know that this will take a lot of time and dedication to truly know the ins-and-outs of the business. Every task and preliminary application case study you will be working on will speak loudly to the type of worker and application you are to whoever is reviewing your work. With that being said, make sure you give yourself an ample amount of time to work on your application. For these companies, they want to see an investment portion as well as the skill during this process. Be cognizant of any mistakes and take a third or fourth look before submitting anything. Any preliminary sloppy work can be incredibly costly to your chances. Remember, not many people have this shot to make it that far. Show them that you are the person that they need.

Last but not least, practice specific interview questions. In many of these situations, you will be asked to interview in a variety of ways: Skype, phone, or in-person interviews. To get you ready for those situations, make sure you have a holistic understanding of your resume, your application coursework, and your knowledge and understanding of the company and the position. Besides the standard application questions, try and think of higher order thinking questions about your previous jobs and what skills can be transferable to that new position. This can give them a greater insight of what you can do for them in the future.

Good luck.

Microsoft Acquires LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion

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While I usually post various ‘how-to’ articles on career and professional development, I felt that it was important to highlight the on-goings within the business sector today. Just recently, it has been reported that the global tech-giant Microsoft was able to acquire LinkedIn Corporations, announcing that they have entered a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction at a value of $26.2 billion dollars. While LinkedIn will still retain its distinct brand, culture, and independence, millions of people across a variety of different sectors are asking the $26.2 billion dollar question: What is next with LinkedIn?

To begin, we have to look at the remarkable growth that LinkedIn has accrued since its launch back in May 5, 2003. Starting off as a simple platform for professional networking, this Web 2.0 social media networking service has taken the world by storm with more than 400 million users to date. For many people, especially young professionals, LinkedIn provides hundreds of millions of users with the ability to connect with the world’s professionals and top companies in order to make more productive and successful growth within their soon-to-be established fields. In addition to networking, overall site allows users to create their professional profile and control their top search results for their name. But with social media becoming an ever-evolving monster, we have to consider the other possible changes LinkedIn will make to its platform in the future.

While Microsoft and LinkedIn do come from two different worlds, their goals and visions for the future are same. Like LinkedIn, Microsoft wants to power people and organizations to achieve more. With LinkedIn’s underlying goal of professional networking, Microsoft looks to leverage LinkedIn’s identity with strong and viable features where users can utilize Microsoft products such as Word, Excel, Skype, and Outlook for their daily use. For them, their idea connects to simple and short phrase, “a single source of truth.” With these new features, LinkedIn can continue to provide a stronger podium that provides definitive features for young professional to further connect and brand themselves in the most professional manner.

Another promising feature that was discussed was their overall enhancement for an ‘intelligent news feed.’ With LinkedIn Pulse (launched back in 2013) being an already great source for professional information, an intelligent newsfeed of this caliber can generate better-targeted content for each user so that they can stay up-to-date with any information or news within their specific fields.

Regardless of how you feel, this partnership between the two tech-companies will be a fantastic opportunity in connecting various users with the world’s professionals. In my opinion, LinkedIn working with Microsoft is probably the best option. With the site undergoing various criticisms the past few years, the new objectives and visions for the future seem highly positive. All we can do now is wait and see what LinkedIn will have in store for us this year.

Balancing your Work Life and your Social Life

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For many young professionals, the expectation to work overtime beyond the office norms has become an ever-growing problem in today’s society. While it is not an issue to stay a few hours after work and learn more about the company and or the trade of the business, the fact of the matter is that many individuals, especially young millennials, are going beyond the go-getter personality and overworking themselves to exhaustion. Don’t get me wrong; we have all been in situations where we need to stay late at the office. But with this constant trend continuing amongst the younger generation, various experts have resoundingly agreed and advised many companies and businesses to raise awareness for balancing their employees work life and social life. Avoiding this type of awareness can lead to various negative damages, both physical and mental to the individual and the company.

When we talk about the effects of a company, you would think that employees who work overtime would be seen as a good thing. While there is a short-term benefit to the additional work they are contributing for your business, the long-term negative effects such as high burnout rates, employee turnover, and toxic negative culture can demise an entire company. As for the employee, a lack of balance between their work life and their personal life can lead to stress, self-doubt, low-morale, and eventually apathy. One thing to keep in mind is that work will always be stressful. There will always be a task that will require you to go above and beyond the 9-to-5 norms. But even with that there, it does not mean you cannot confidently take control of the situation and implement various logistics that can balance your personal life and your work life.

Now, one of the worst schedules you can be sucked into is when the day-to-day becomes somewhat clockwork. Yes, having routines is important, but if it does not provide value and action within your life, your burnout rate will only rise. Many young professionals find themselves within a black hole schedule where it seems like after work, they sleep and rest only to wake up for work again the next day. Unless you have unlimited vacation days, you will always go to work. But this does not mean you cannot do things you enjoy in between the workweek.

To accomplish this, make sure you organize your calendar. Some people use their phones, while others actively write it down. Whatever is your approach, make sure it is there. The more detailed you are, the better. This will allow you to optimize you schedule and iron out any logistics so that you can have a stronger sense of self-control. It will also give you and opportunity to find various slots where you can capitalize your free time into something fun and productive.

Remember, the one piece of advice about creating a balance between your personal and professional life is staying active. Working constantly is just not sustainable. To prevent you from diving into the ‘schedule of doom’ try looking at extracurricular activities that interest you. This can be anything sports related such as a gym or a recreation league or anything social that can help refresh your batteries like a happy hour session or a vacation. Whatever is the case, make sure you find ways throughout your workweek where you can enjoy these interest. This will give you something to look forward to, while also relaxing you for the next day.

How to Stay Organized at Work

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It is not a secret that recruits and hiring managers are looking for an individual with strong organizational skills. For them, productivity is everything. The more you can do in less amount of time is something that speaks loudly to the efficiency and effectiveness of your day-to-day logistics. That is why it is imperative that you take control of your day and focus on these two segments of your life: 1. Time and 2. Mindset.

Time: “Having a clear mind and a clear space allows you to think and act with purpose.”

One of the biggest flaws to a person’s professional career is getting acclimated to the workload. While you may be new to the job, you will be expected to quickly organize yourself in the most optimal and professional manner. For some people, it can take days. For others, it will take weeks. Whatever is the case, make sure you are able to hone the logistical operations of your day. To do that, you need to be cognizant of your time.

Start the day by structuring your time by either creating a work ‘to-do-list.’ As minimal as it may seem, that will allow you to map out a holistic overview of your day. For many successful professionals, they usually go through their emails and social media updates at the beginning, middle, and end of the day so that they are not overloaded and overstressed. In addition to your emails, make sure you commit to a specific time period when coordinating and scheduling your task. For example, if you have a report or a task due, try and give yourself a particular deadline so that you can continue on to the next task. This will allow you to hit your objectives while also adjusting anything within your schedule as your day continues.

For meetings and breaks, make sure you note that in your schedule. At many companies, they will usually have weekly meetings at specific times. To help get you on track, enter those dates and time in your calendar. One useful tool many people use is Google calendar. Google calendar will help you stay on track while also notifying you of any upcoming deadlines or meetings within the week. Remember, the more logistically sound your schedule is the better. This will eventually give you a specific routine within your day to work at your best with minimal effort.

Mindset: “Never underestimate your strength, never overestimate your weakness.”

When it comes to the job at hand, you have to understand that a majority of your success comes down to your confidence and awareness of a situation. Rather than allowing the situation to overcome your day, take control and focus on doing the right task for the right moment. This will require you to manipulate your schedule when need be. In turn, you will be able to reduce the feeling of overload and procrastination associated with taking on big jobs. To do this effectively, make sure you understand the importance of each day-to-day task. If you have a big project on the line along with a report, try focusing on the more pressing issues. This will give you back the power, even when your schedule may seem overbearing. Try and utilize your checklist as a way to order (or reorder) your day-to-day objectives by importance and priority. That mindset will allow you to stay organized and confident as you accomplish each task on your list.

Now there will be times where things may seem a bit overbearing and downright daunting. Whatever is the case, do not allow this to psych you out. Instead, utilize your list and organizational skills to take control of the matter. That type of confidence will allow you to overcome the hurdles that may potentially block you from succeeding day in and day out.

Avoid these Common Mistakes New and Inexperienced Managers Make

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Congratulations! After all of the time and sacrifice you have put into your company, you have finally been promoted to the position you rightfully earned. This type of achievement is something that will definitely not go unnoticed. But like with anything in life, the higher the climb, the bigger the fall. As a director, supervisor, or manager of your company, it is imperative you understand and internalize the overall struggles that these leadership positions will entail. For many novice and inexperienced managers, they make the big mistake by not internalizing the various ramifications their actions can have on the company and their employees as a whole. Without understanding these flaws, you can find yourself in a very difficult position later on down the road.

To be an effective business leader, it is imperative you understand these overarching mistakes. By highlighting the political, control, and motivation hurdles, you will be able to lead your team in achieving their goals each and every day.

Below, I have highlighted some mistakes new managers have made or seen. While you may still experience some of these mistakes later on down the line, you will be able handle them in the most efficient and effective way possible. To help aid the process, I have broken these flaws into four different categories:

  • Performance Management
  • Career Development
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Skills

Performance Management

As a supervisor or manager at your company, it is important that you maintain a high level of performance and responsibility within your job. One of the biggest mistakes many novice managers make is being slow with dealing with performance issues. Yes, you are essentially the new kid on the block. In fact, you may have employees who undermine your authority because of your age and experience with this leadership position, but this should not deter you away from putting out the fires within your team. If you are noting specific performance issues early on, you will be able to give and create helpful feedback and viable solutions to ongoing or future performance issues. Now while all of this is happening, make sure you document any type of performance, whether they are positive or negative. Understanding the strength of your team will help you adjust your own strategies in leveraging the best out of your employees. If you find that the situation has escalated to unforeseeable outcomes, these notes may give you enough reason to terminate a particular employee. In addition, understanding the strengths of your employees will alone, provide a stronger and more holistic understanding to  those who can handle any high-level task. Remember, play the cards that are dealt. While some might not be in your favor, try and strategize so that they can benefit you your team as a whole.

Career Development

It goes without saying that a great leader is not a person who sets out various objectives, but inspires innovative and strategic action. To do this, it is imperative that you know your employees. Take the time to understand their personal and professional goals. Ask them overarching questions of their feelings about the job and where they see themselves five (ten, twenty) years from now. By understanding their own personal objectives, you will be able to help move them into either a better position or a different company. In addition, make sure you understand their strengths and weaknesses. While I have already mentioned this before, internalizing and noting the strengths and flaws of your workers will give you areas that you know your employees can excel and thrive in. It will also give you areas in which they themselves can grow and professionally develop in the future. Start off with their work. Understand their own personal work ethics and various tasks they can do well. If you know there is one particular flaw that they have, be sure to notify them of that weakness. For some employees, they are unaware of that limitation and can oftentimes overlook their own work ethics. This will give you the opportunity to showcase your leadership skills and build them to be efficient, effective, and consistent rock stars later on in their careers.

Leadership

While leadership has become more of a buzzword within the business sector, you have to understand the various attributes that align to it. Strong and successful leaders look to create and grow opportunities for their team. They will not only allocate any resources that can aid them in their efforts, but also specify what objectives they want to hit each and every day. Now, as much as I can talk about the organizational and managerial skills all leaders encompass within their professional careers, I have to highlight the true goal of a leader, inspiring action. The art of a leader is not to simply dictate various tasks. Instead, they are to inspire creativity, ingenuity, and action. This type of leadership is something that can take a mediocre team in hitting their objectives each and every day. To do this, be positive and transparent. Be informative and creative. And most importantly be decisive and confident.

Organization

Successful managers are great at their jobs because they are simply organized with their day-to-day task. As a manager, your role will require you to create a logistical system that workers in overseeing your employees’ task and your own. One of the biggest mistakes novice managers make is not taking a holistic approach is preparing their systems. Make sure you spend an hour or so compiling a system that works for you. The more organized and sound your logistics are, the better off you will be in executing any task that comes your way.

What to do When you Start a New Job

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Starting a new job is an opportunity for reinvention. Unlike your previous job, you are able to establish a new positive perception that can solidify your personal and professional brand within the office. For this to be beneficial, you have to of course think about the person and employee you want to be. As much as you can be the entertaining guy at the office, you want to make sure your actions and thought process are geared towards career success. To do this, align your actions with your goals. This type of mentality will allow you to clarify and foster the person you are meant so that you are ready for your big first day.

Now as exciting as it may be to enter into a new position at a different company, you have to understand that you are still technically on a probation period. To secure your job and establish that positive presence within the office, you want to provide a strong first impression amongst your peers and management. Unlike college, a quirky joke or a favorite sports team will not be the saving grace in establishing that positive image. Instead, being thought provoking, strategic, and hardworking will help specify your presence within the office

To help you through this process, I have provided various helpful tips that you can utilize on your first day. Like it or not, first impressions do matter. And if you are looking to grow and succeed at this new company, you want to make sure you start things off on the right foot.

1. First one In, Last one Out

As stated above, your first few weeks within this position is more of a probation period than anything. During this time, a majority of your coworkers, especially your managers, will be observing your work ethics and your work behavior. With that being said, embody the phrase, ‘first one in, last one out.’ Now I am not saying that you have to be the first one in the office. But if you are looking to make a positive impression on your managers and higher ups, try arriving earlier than most. In addition, just don’t hang out in your cube or relax in the break room. Instead, try talking with some of your colleagues and start working immediately.

2. Ask a lot of Questions

Remember, you are the new kid on the block. As much as you want to showcase your strengths, you have to understand that you are still miles behind the rest. To help you with this, make sure you ask a variety of questions. Constantly asking will allow you to learn more about the culture and overall role of your position. In addition, try going beyond the parameters of your position and connect and network with other departments. This may lead to something more positive in the future.

3. Network, Network, Network!

Regardless of your position or your field, network will never stop. In fact, the concept to connect with another person should be a natural tendency if you are looking to move and grow with your company. To learn more about the office and your colleagues, make sure you are connecting both in and out of the office. In addition, try networking with some of the higher ups. This can possibly provide them particular ideas, especially with promotional talks.

4. Do the Dirty Work

Like it or not, you are still the newbie and as much as you want to tackle the bigger clients or the more lucrative campaigns, you have to understand your place in the totem pole. During your first few months, make it a priority to volunteer your time to your team, especially if you are done with your work. This will, in turn, allow you to gain a stronger insight about your position and propel you to where you need to five months down the line. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. So why not start by engaging and learning from those around you.

The Top Five Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

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In today’s world, young professionals have an incredibly distinct advantage than their predecessors. They are better educated, more ethnically diverse, and more economically active. But even with all of their great talents and academic accolades, many millennials are still having trouble having landing that dream job.

As competitive as the job market is, there will always be a way for you to improve and better yourself for that next job interview. To help, I have provided five of the most difficult questions and various tips in how to answer them. If you would like more practice, please visit my SlideShare presentation, 50 Job (and Graduate School) Interview Practice Questions by Geoffrey Byruch. This presentation provides fifty real life practice questions that are constantly asked at interviews for both businesses and graduate schools.

1. Tell me about yourself.

If you have not heard this question, then you have not been on an interview. While simple in its phrasing, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ requires a lot of thought to speak openly and candidly about yourself without having to sound too egotistical. To help with this process, first understand the overall environment of the interview. For many of these interviewers, they want to know the type of person that could potentially be working at their company. To do this in the most beneficial way, try walking through your resume with a theme in mind. The idea of ‘I’m a numbers person’ or ‘I constantly look for challenges’ can be great way to format and explain your personal and professional experience. Be sure to be organic and informative. If you can, try lightening up the mood with a bit of humor or empathy. Playing with emotions, especially if you have done charity or nonprofit work, can be an excellent way in reeling them in for more.

2. What interest you about this company?

No matter what program or job interview you go to, you will always be asked: ‘What interested you about this company?’ For those individuals who did not do their homework, this may be incredibly difficult to answer. But for those prepared candidates that were able to thoroughly research both the organization and the position, this will be your moment to shine. For many recruiters, they are looking for their candidates to have a strong grasp of their company. Whether it is the company’s history or the overall job itself, having those concrete points can showcase your investment and preparedness for the interviewer. To help you with this process, make sure you research the company, the company’s history, and the position. Take a few notes and highlight any points that stand out to you. These points may come in handy later on down the line, especially during your interview.

As for your answer, make sure you can relate it to your previous roles and future goals. Having that type of connection can showcase various transferable skills that you can bring to the table each and every day.

3. What are the most difficult challenge you had to face and how were you able to handle it?

For many recruiters, they want to know that you are able to handle the arduous ups-and-downs of the workday through an example of a difficult challenging work experience. While this question may not come as a surprise, many job applicants are often confused as to which situation they should speak candidly about that could best showcase their strengths. To make it easier on yourself, try and pick an example that you know incredibly well. Make sure the example is relatable to the situation and can highlight your strengths as a leader and a thinker. Last but not least, make sure you can tell it well. Even if you feel like you are telling the same story to every interviewer, stick with it. That story can help positively direct the type of candidate you are for their company.

4. What can you say are your greatest strengths? What about your weaknesses?

Having a deep understanding of your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses will always be incredibly important no matter where you go. For many hiring managers, they know that you are not perfect. In fact, no one is perfect. Because of this, they are looking for particular characteristics that you can leverage or utilize if you were hired with that company. In addition, they also want to make sure you personify the same traits as their own workers. To help you with this process, be honest about yourself. If you know you are weak at communicating, be sure to mention that. But make sure you follow it up with various solutions of how you are willing to improve on that skill.

5. Where do you see yourself in X years?

At the end of the day, hiring managers want to make sure that they are speaking to someone who is highly drive and ambitious. For you to showcase this, make sure you are able to speak openly about your goals and where you want to be in X years. One point you want to of course highlight is the leadership opportunities within the company. Talking about leadership will not only show ambition, but also commitment for said-company.