Career Tune-Up – 6 Ways to Give yourself an Edge

Career Tune-Up

6 Ways to Give yourself an Edge

 

22 Chess

 

 

When it comes to tuning up your career, you want to do what it takes to give yourself the edge in the marketplace. Often little things make a big difference!  Here are a six ways to give yourself an edge and distinguish yourself so that you are the one who is hired or promoted.

  • One. Do more than is expected.  Those who do more than they are asked, assume responsibility, and work hard are the ones who move ahead.
  • Two. Make things better. The old Scout motto of leaving a place better than you found it is true on the job. Look for ways to make your workplace, your productivity, your boss, etc. look better.
  • Three. Be a team player. Work well with others. Give others credit when credit is due. Communicate, share ideas, and focus on problem solving. Everyone does better when they work well with others.
  • Four. Add a secondary skill. A secondary skill is another skill not required for the job that supplements it. Say, you work on a computer. Learn a new computer application as a secondary skill. This will allow you to differentiate yourself from others. If you work with the public, learn a second language. If you can do the job and do something that others can’t you have created good job security for yourself.
  • Five. Be a problem solver. When issues arise, figure out how to solve them. In doing so, you will become the indispensable “go to” person to solve problems.
  • Six. Learn on the job. Continue to learn new things. As someone asked “Are you doing the same job 20 times over 20 years or are you continuing to learn and doing a new job, even if it is in the old title, for each new year?” If you continue to learn new things, you will keep up with changes in the workplace.

As you adopt these six ways to give yourself an edge you will find that you put yourself in a strong position in the workplace and prepare well to be the one to move into a more responsible and lucrative position!

Present a Professional Image

Present a Professional Image

17 Professional Image

As part of your career tune-up consider ways to present a professional image.  Your image is based on what you wear, what you say and how you act.

What you wear

Make sure that the way you dress reflects the image that you want.  Try to dress as someone the next level up in your organization would dress.  If you dress like the boss, it will be easier for you to become the box.

Focus on wearing conservative attire, dress or slacks, tailored skirts and dresses, ties and suits with appropriate jewelry,scarf or purse.  Make sure you are clean and avoid strong perfumes or smells.  Cover up tattoos and piercings.  Make your image project professionalism.

What you say

Make sure that your words are professional, positive, and help you communicate well.  You don’t want to use slang, swear words, or abbreviations in your speech.  Look for ways to interact in positive ways with your coworkers, boss, and others.  Speak kind words, even while being firm about commitments.

Avoid boasting, back talking about coworkers,  saying that you can do things you really can’t, and negativity.  If you find any of these things slipping into your words, be sure to work to get them out.

Your words can have a lasting impact on your coworkers, so be sure you are leaving a good feeling behind when you finish what you have to say.

How you act

Your actions should also reflect professionalism.  Make it easy for others to interact with you.  Be like an old shoe – comfortable to be around.  Of course, you don’t want to be so comfortable that you start to slouch and not do your work.

Avoid workplace tantrums, hysterics, and confrontations.  Find ways to work through things by communicating well to solve problems.

A professional gets to work early, exceeds work expectations, and gets the job done.  Make yourself know by being the one who does the most work, is most personal to get along with, and works well with others.  These are the ways to earn a promotion!

Look the part you want to be.  Present a professional image through what you wear, what you say and how you act.

 

 

07 EArn a Raise

Career Tune-Up – 5 steps to getting a raise

Career Tune-up – 5 steps to getting a raise

It’s time for a career tune-up.  Nothing better than an increase in salary to tune things up.  Here are five steps to getting a raise.  Take the time to work through each step to prepare for a raise.

Step 1. Know what your company wants.

The first step to getting a raise is to know what your company wants.  Find out what your company goals are and what the company wants from you as an employee.  Figure out how your job function fits into the big picture of the company.  Research the competition so that you have insight on what your organization needs to do to meet or exceed the competition.  Know the market for your product or service.

This information will help you see where you fit in. Identify how you can help the company reach its goals.  If you have a choice of doing two things, ask “What activity will best promote company goals?” Try to align what you do to what the company wants and needs.

Step 2. Add value.

The second step to getting a raise is to add value to your company.  You add value to your company by making sure that you are the one who helps the company and your boss meet goals.  Align your individual work goals to those of the company.  Make sure that you are the one who “meets the numbers.”  This makes you look good, makes your boss look good and makes your company look good.  This is how you add value.

Don’t wait to be asked to do something.  If you see something that needs to be done and it falls within your job function, then dive in to do it.  Take the initiative and the company will notice!

Step 3. Know what you are worth.

The next step is to know what you are worth. Do the research to find out what others in your field are making.  What are salary ranges in your field?  In your community? How does your experience and capability impact where you are in the salary range?  If you are new, then you may need more experience to earn a higher salary.  Make it a point to get the experience so you will be ready when raises happen again.

Be realistic about what you are worth.  Some individuals have an over or under inflated view of their workplace worth. Compare yourself to others who have the same capabilities and job description you do.

Once you know your worth, you can compare what you think you should earn to your salary.  Depending upon your company, you may need to make a lateral move to get the salary increase you desire.  You can evaluate these options once you know what you are worth.

Step 4. Document what you have done.

The fourth step to getting a raise is to document what you have done.  Create a record of your performance.  Look for objective measures of how well you are doing.  Here are a few measures to consider:

  • Productivity – Demonstrate what you have done,
  • Timeliness – Document how you have met deadlines,
  • Quality – Show the high quality of your performance,
  • Customer Satisfaction – Know who your customers are – both inside and out of the company and show how you meet or exceed their expectations,
  • Going the extra mile – Document how you have gone above and beyond the required job description.

Gather all of your documentation together in a nice format, so it is easy to demonstrate how well you are doing.

Step 5. Talk to your boss.

The last step to getting a raise is to talk to your boss.  Discuss how you “add value” to the company and how you help the company meets its goals.  Share your documentation of what you have done.  Indicate where you think you should be salary wise in the industry.  Make it clear why it would be important for your boss to keep you happy on the job. Make it easy for your boss to say yes to a raise.

Sometimes, after all of your effort, you still get a “no” to a raise.  When this happens take the time to evaluate.  If the no is because you need more capability or experience or because your performance suffers, then find out what you need to do to be eligible for a raise next time around.  Get the experience, improve your performance, and prepare for a raise.

On the other hand, if after your best efforts, the answer is no because the company has a tight corporate budget, you may want to explore other options.  Some workers get a raise by making a lateral transfer to another company that is able to pay more.  Use the information you have gathered to talk to your boss and talk to a potential new boss instead. Its all about Getting the Raise you Deserve.  For further reading review 14 tips for getting a raise when they’re not handing them out, how to get a raise or job promotion at work, or 10 tips for getting a proper raise.

04 Career move

Five Ways to make your Next Career Move

Five Ways to make your Next Career Move

 

 

Professional development means continuing to plan and prepare for the next career move.  You don’t want to get stagnant, stuck, or sidetracked.  Stay focused on your individual career goals and continue to do what it takes to move forward in your career. There are five ways people typically make the next career move.   Evaluate your own situation to decide what your next career move should be, then prepare now to take the next move.

One: Find Work.

If you don’t have a job, start by preparing for and finding work.  Do the hard work that it takes to look for current job openings, create an application and resume, interview, and apply for the job.  Here are some web sites which post job openings. Treat finding a job like a job and look hard to find a good job that matches your interests and skill set.

Two: Change your work.

Maybe you have a job, but want a job that is more fulfilling.  Prepare to change your work.  This may require getting a degree, taking a class, becoming certified, or learning a new skill.  Invest in yourself in order to be prepared to change to a job you will love!

Three: Move into Management.

Maybe you like your job, but want to assume more responsibility. Prepare to move into management.   Learn what managers know.  Once you know what managers know, practice applying management principles in what you do.

Four: Start a Small Business.

Maybe you like your job, but want a little extra cash on the side or want to prepare for a retirement job – consider starting your own small business.  Learn what you need to do to take the big step and set up your own business.

Five: Become an Expert.

Maybe you have years of experience you can share with others.  Maybe you want to develop expertise.  Make a decision to become the best at what you do.  They say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get really, really good at what you do.  Invest the time in doing what you love and one day you will turn into an expert.

Use these five ways to make your next career move. Consider which of these ways will help you take the next step in your career. One:  Find Work, Two:  Change your work, Three: Move into Management, Four: Start a Small Business, or Five:  Become an Expert.   This can be the time for you to find the satisfaction that can come from taking your career to the next step.

 

Three ways to use Technology to Boost your Career

Use Technology to Boost your Career

Use Technology to Boost your Career

Three ways to use Technology to Boost your Career

Technology changes rapidly! . Read about Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015. It takes some time to learn how to use the new technology;  but  knowing technology can enhance your capabilities on the job, make you a valuable resource, and expand your job opportunities. Read three ways to use technology to boost your career:

            First, Know the Basics

            Second, Connect Using Technology

            Third, Use Technology To Be Productive

Regularly look for ways to learn something new about technology.  This will keep your job skills competitive in a changing workplace that includes regular, new technology advancements. Invest in yourself and invest in technology. Include technology in your career plan.

First, Know the Basics

Cell Phones.

Do you use your cell phone to its fullest capacity?  Your cell phone vendor may have free classes or online tutorials to help you master your new phone.  Be on the lookout for new apps that will improve your productivity.  Talk to others with a similar phone and share phone tips!  Make sure you know all the basics to use your phone as part of your job networking, search, and application process. For tips on the basics of using a cell phone review the article on How to Use a Cell Phone.

Tablets

Do you have a tablet and know how to use it?  This year may be a time to purchase a tablet for use at both work and home.  There are a variety of options.  Review the Tablet Buying Guide – How to Buy the Right Tablet, Tablet Review – 2015 Buying Guide and Top Picks, or review consumer reports Top Tablet Rating – Tablet Buying Guide.

You can boost your ability to carry a book, newspaper, magazine or other content around with a simply e-reader.  You can try Kindle paperwhite, Kindle touch screen, or  Kindle Fire HDX 7’ tablet, depending upon your needs. Maybe it’s time to try an IPAD.

Computers

Do you have a current computer that you use, or are you using an “old dinosaur” that is out of date?  Make sure that your computer and your computer skills are refreshed to keep you current in the workplace.  Maybe you need a course on computer basics such as Computer Skills for the Workplace, Keyboarding,  Introduction to Windows 8or Introduction to PC Troubleshooting.  

If you are ready for something more advanced, you may be ready for a more in-depth course on computers such as Introduction to Programming, How to Get Started in Game Development, Introduction to Database Development, Introduction to SQL , or Mac, Iphone, and IPAD programming.

Internet. 

Use social media to advance your business by taking a course on  Using Social Media in Business. Learn to create a website by taking a course on Introduction to Creating WordPress Websites or learn to create a web site with a course on Creating Web PagesMake sure people get to your web site with a course on Achieving Top Search Engine Positions.

Second, Connect Using Technology

There are many ways to connect using technology. Learn how to use technology to help you network, search for a job, or even apply for a job!  Look for ways to connect using technology to help you find that dream job, grow your business, or move up in the workplace!

 

Use Your Phone

Explore ways to use your phone in the job search and application process.   Review the Top 10 Tips for Using Your Phone to Job Search and learn How to apply for a job over the phone.  Use LinkedIn in Applying for a job in LinkedIn on your Mobile Device.  This can make it easy to apply for a job from any location.

Social Media. 

Learn how to Jump-Start Your Career  with LinkedInUse facebook or other social media pages to market a profile or your small business.  Connect to others with similar business interests and share information. Review 10 Smart Ways to Use Social Media in your job search or How to Use Social Networking to Boost your career.

Twitter.

Don’t let technology leave you behind.  Brush up on some skills or learn a new skill.   Take a class on Blogging and Podcasting for Beginners.   Look at how Using Twitter for Career Networking can help you network.  Follow the career hashtags on twitter by knowing the 10 popular twitter hashtags for job seekers to follow.

Third, Use Technology to Be Productive

Cell Phone Productivity Apps. 

Regardless of the type of phone that you use, there are a variety of productivity apps that can help you “work smarter”.  Review apps that will make you more productive on your phone: 18 Must Have Android Productivity Apps, 20 Best Windows Phone Productivity AppsProductivity – Android Apps on Google Play, or Top 5 productivity apps for smartphone, The best 100 iphone apps of 2015.

Consider moving beyond using apps to developing your own.  Take a class on Creating Mobile Apps with HTML5.   If you are good with technology, app development itself could become your job!

Tablet Apps. 

There are a number of good tablet applications to improve productivity.  Whether you using an android tablet or an IPAD, there are many tools to help boost your productivity.  Read about some of the reviews of tablet apps:  20 best productivity apps – Tom’s Guide, 10 IPAD Apps for Personal Productivity, or The 100 best IPAD apps of 2015.

Computer Productivity.  

Make sure you know how to use the computer and common software applications.  Take a class on Computer Skills for the Workplace or learn about a specific computer application such as:   Introduction to Microsoft Word 2013, Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint 2013Introduction to Microsoft Excel 2013, Introduction to Microsoft Access 2013, Introduction to Microsoft Project 2013Introduction to QuickBooks 2014, Introduction to Adobe Acrobat XBecome the one who knows about project management with a Project Management Fundamentals course.

If your home computer or laptop has gotten out of date, consider an upgrade so that you can “get up to speed” on current hardware and software as part of your job preparation.  Laptops have never been more affordable:  HP Stream 11 Laptop, Asus 15.6” Intel dual core Celeron 2.16 Ghz laptop, or Dell Inspiron 15.6” laptop intel Celeron processorThere are also many desktops in the affordable range: Dell Inspiron i3043-5000BLK 19.5” touchscreen all-in-one computer or HP Pavilion 23g 10.23” all-in-one desktop.

Make sure you use these three ways to use technology to boost your career: (1) know the basics, (2) connect using technology, and (3) use technology to be productive.

5 ways to get people to remember you (in a good way) while networking

5 ways to get people to remember you (in a good way) while networking

Quick. Say something memorable about yourself, on the spot, in less than 15 seconds. Now come up with another – and then smile professionally, right in front of a bunch of strangers.

Oh, and if you’re feeling bold, drop in a phrase that indicates you’re looking for your next job or another client. That’s your mandate at the next professional association, MeetUp or chamber mixer.

Don’t just introduce yourself. Stand out and be memorable; be the person they recall the next time a project manager job opens up or a colleague needs a first-rate translator. After all, networking is one of the best ways to land a new job.

Your introduction ought to build on your personal brand, and it might be light-hearted or heart-felt. But it definitely must be short and memorable. Here are five easy ways to network more effectively in person:

1. Create a clever one liner about you

“Spend some time before your next networking event coming up with at least one humorous, self-deprecating or intriguing way to introduce yourself and what you do,” a blog post for the National Association of Entrepreneurs recommends. Use “short pithy snippets of information … keep it light and snappy and you will be memorable.”

2. Jot it down and try it out

Consider what it conveys about you and how it could be misconstrued. Refine your pitch and “try different things to see what works,” said Gail Tolstoi-Miller, who runs a recruiting and speed networking company in New Jersey.

3. Consider your value.

Often the best pitch shows how you benefit other people, what problems you can solve, said Tolstoi-Miller. This pushes you way past your job title into thoughts on how you could help the person you are about to meet. Sometimes you cannot know that, so Miller suggests you may want to end your introduction with a question such as ‘How can I help you out?’ or ‘How can we help one another be more successful?’

4. Add a twist

Most people use their job title to introduce themselves. That works better if you jazz it up or add a surprise or a mention of some interest that jazzes you. Think of the twist as the squirt of fresh lemon juice in a big glass of water or the olive in the martini. Try saying: “I’m Julie Jobseeker, and I’m an HR manager who loves to shop. I want to land a job at a mid-sized or regional retailer with a great employee discount!” Or “I’m Jeff Jobhunter. I believe in second chances – for people and furniture.” He sells used office furniture and is striving to create a second career in sales training. Or use your nametag to highlight your hobby or some fun fact about you to be more approachable, Tolstoi-Miller suggests.

5. Practice your pitch, but be perky too

It doesn’t matter that this is your fourth networking event or career mixer this week. You still need to sound enthusiastic and passionate, said Tolstoi-Miller. Smile. If you feel discouraged or tired, “be an actress and pretend you’re happy,” she said. “Leave your problems at home” and remember you have only now to make a memorable first impression.

Do Women Undermine Themselves With Punctuation??!!!!:) How Professional are your e-mails?

Do Women Undermine themselves with Punctuation??!!!!

How professional are your e-mails?

What makes a professional e-mail? Women tend to put more emotion and consideration into their emails, which often translates into more punctuation. Is punctuation actually undermining your abilities?

Why unprofessional e-mails happen

Sometimes we get tired, or overly casual, or just plain excited, and we get a little crazy with our work emails. We fall into a pattern where in order to convey passion or receive approval we use exclamation points A LOT. You’d think we were gaining points in a game for how many exclamation points we are using.

Or perhaps you may even slip into smiley face territory or, worst of the worst, emoticons. And not to beat up on my sex, but I notice that women tend to toss around the fun punctuation more than men (myself included!!!!***###). Men get to the point. They use big, fat periods. And then they go out and kill a bear and eat it. But should we try to be more like men in their writing style, which can often come off as brash?

Professional E-mail

With email, the main purpose is to get to the point and to get to it quickly—and men tend to do that more 🙁

Perhaps the problem here is not knowing whether the conversation really needs a phone call or not. Sometimes we would love to do everything over email because most of us stopped putting pen to paper only a few years after we learned to use email. (There was a time when I had great handwriting; now I get texting cramps.) But sometimes a phone call or Skype chat is really the only way to go.

Email being sent through the workplace needs to be more formal. Punctuation can not only undermine you in email, but it can convey your intentions incorrectly. You may think putting a bunch of question marks shows interest, but it could easily be interpreted as impatience, she says. And those friendly exclamation points can quickly be translated as anger or shouting!!!!!!

According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, if you send email replies to your work colleagues regularly, your chances are no better than 50 percent of it being interpreted correctly, even when the writer believes he or she has correctly ascertained the tone of the emails. For example, sarcasm is extremely hard to convey over email. Chandler Bing would not have been funny if you had only been reading his lines.

Abbreviations

It is important for both genders to remember you may be emailing people of a different generation. You cannot use emoticons or LOLs when you are emailing a baby boomer. (Trust me, it took me hours to explain “TTYL” to my father—a doctor and Princeton graduate. And don’t even get me started on the day that was lost to “YOLO!”)

Julie Spira, “netiquette” expert and author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Digital Manners, states that “using LOL might be appropriate with your best friend who knows that it stands for ‘Laugh out Loud,’ however your boss might not take you seriously. I urge women to limit their use of punctuation marks to personal emails. If you get a new job or get engaged, an exclamation mark or two is appropriate, providing it’s sent to your inner circle.”

Nicole Emerick, founder of Ms. Career Girl Media, told us that young women should think about these three things before going punctuation crazy in an email:

Why do you think you need this extra punctuation?

Emerick says that before sending emails, young professional women should get in the habit of asking themselves WHY they are using emoticons, exclamation points, and “haha’s” in emails. Are you intimidated by the recipient? Do you wonder about the answer to their question? Are you trying to over-compensate for something? Do you want to make them like you?

Tweet, Tweet: You want the email to be concise

Think about work email the way you’d think of Tweeting, says Emerick: Imagine you are limited to 140 characters and must boil it down to ONLY what’s important. When thinking like this, emoticons, “haha’s” and !!!!!’s often add more confusion—and characters—to the message.

Are you trying to hide behind punctuation?

Emerick says, “I love a good 🙂 as much as the next girl, and I do believe there are times where they can add personality. What I am NOT a fan of is using them as a bandaid or distraction from a serious email that may not be easy to write.” Removing the smiley faces and “LOLs” from your emails may feel scary or too direct at first, but it’s important to get comfortable with being direct sooner, rather than later, in your career.