Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What to do After the Interview

The thank you note is a necessary tool for any job hunting strategy. But should you send it by email or snail mail, handwritten or typed? In this fast-paced computer age, the question baffles even the most sophisticated job hunters. Follow these guidelines to help you through the maze.

Email Thank You Notes
How did the company initially contact you? If you have always corresponded with them via email for setting up the interview and answering questions, then by all means send an email thank you note as soon as you return from an interview. However, make sure to follow it up with a typed note to show that you are not Mr. or Ms. Casual. Email thank you notes have one clear advantage over their snail mail counterpart: They can put your name in front of the interviewer on the same day -- sometimes within hours -- of your interview.

Snail Mail
If the company you interviewed with is formal and traditional, use snail mail to send your thank you note. Should it be handwritten or typed? Typed is standard. Not only will you show that you are business-like, you'll also prove you know how to put together the salutation, format a letter and sign off. Executives want to know their administrative assistants can do this, since writing letters for your boss will be a big part of your job.

Handwritten notes are appropriate if you'd like to extend your thanks to others in the office who helped you out. For example, if a receptionist, assistant, office manager, or other person involved with the interviewing process was especially helpful -- say they took you to lunch or guided you from office to office -- then a handwritten note is a nice gesture to show your appreciation.

What to Say
More important is what you say and how you say it. A standard thank you note should accomplish several things:

* Thank the person for the opportunity to interview with the company.

* Recap some of the conversational highlights.

* Clarify any information you needed to check on for the interviewer.

* And most importantly, plug your skills. Use the last paragraph as the chance to state, "The job is a good fit for me because of XYZ, and my past experience in XYZ."

Interviewers have short memories. A thank you note is your final chance to stand apart from all of the others who want the same position.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Interview Errors and how to Fix Them

The best way to avoid the most common and dangerous interview mistakes is to think ahead and decide not to make them... Read on for a whistle-stop tour of the top ten interview errors!

1. Lying
Although it's tempting, it doesn't work. By all means gloss over the unflattering things. But out-right fibbing NEVER pays.

Mark Twain said: "If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything." Think about it. They will catch you out later.

2. Slating your current company or boss
Fed up with your current job and would give anything to leave because they've treated you badly? Your job interview is NOT the time to seek revenge. Bear in mind that the interviewer will be listening to your answers and thinking about what it would be like to work with you. Ask yourself: do you like working with people who constantly criticize others? Isn't it a bit wearing? The trouble is that the interviewer draws massive conclusions from your answers. So your throwaway comment about your boss or employer may be interpreted to be your "standard" way of thinking. It makes you look bad, not your employer.

3. Being Rude
If you find you were accidentally rude, then apologize calmly and genuinely. Then leave it behind you and get on with the rest of the interview. If you dwell on it, it will affect your performance. What's "rude"? Well, that depends on your audience.
As a rule of thumb, avoid cracking jokes about potentially sensitive topics and beware of being too friendly with the interviewer: polite and friendly is enough. After all, you're not in the pub with them. So stay professional. Also bear in mind that everyone you meet could be involved in the selection process. So blanking the receptionist or talking down to the junior members of staff could cost you the job.

4. Complaining
Ok, so your train journey might have been a nightmare and maybe you thought the tube would never arrive, or the tailbacks on the motorway were endless. But your interviewer doesn't want to know that!

Complaining, even in jest, is not a recommended icebreaker. It may be completely harmless, or it might simply make the interviewer switch off. Don't let complaining set the tone for the interview!

5. Talking about people you don't get on with at work
These days, it's common to be asked how you deal with conflict. Companies realize the importance of interpersonal relationships in the working environment. So if they ask you about difficult people or situations, make sure you hold back from character assassination and blaming others for problems because it won't do you any favors! If you accidentally do "break" this rule, apologize and explain what you "really" meant.

6. Not Being Prepared
Re-read the relevant version of your resume and the job advert, just before the interview. You'd be surprised how many people can't remember what they wrote on their resume. And if you remember what type of person the job advert was looking for, it's easier to demonstrate that you have those qualities.

Make sure you've brought with you anything you were asked for. It's fine to bring a note-pad and pen, but make sure they're tidy. It's even ok to bring notes with you; particularly if you have any questions you want to ask. It shows you're taking the job application seriously. Ill-prepared candidates rarely get job offers.

7. Appearing to be too nervous, or too confident
If you appear too nervous they'll think you're not confident enough to do the job. However, appearing too confident will make them think you won't fit into the team. If interview nerves are an issue for you, it's worth getting practical help from a professional, such as an interview coach.

8. Making a weak first impression
Unfortunately, no matter how hard the interviewer tries, a lot of "don't want to hire them" decisions are made in the first few minutes of contact. If you make a strong first impression, the interviewer will be more inclined to overlook "imperfections" in your answers.

9. Not having researched the company

As a general rule, the more famous the brand, the more they will expect you to have done your homework. Researching the company shows you're serious about the job.

10. Putting your foot in it and not noticing
Yes, we know, you didn't mean to put your foot in it. But it doesn't really matter what you intended. What counts is how the other person reacts. So what can you do? Be prepared to simply say "sorry, that's not what I meant!" This requires you to actually be paying attention to the interviewer, rather than your own thoughts and feelings. Once you've apologized, leave it there, take a deep breath to help you relax and move on with the job interview.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Job Interview Help

After coming through all the hurdles of the selection process, you will eventually arrive at an interview. This is of course, a major obstacle for many job applicants. Although they may have the qualifications, experience and a proven track record, they may lose out to a candidate who 'interviews better.'

So what does 'interviewing better' actually mean? It comes down to the candidate being well prepared and confident. A candidate who can answer questions in a way which is acceptable (but not necessarily right) to the interviewer, someone who knows something about their potential employers business and the post they hope to fill. These are really the basic components of any candidate who 'interviews well'. There are undoubtedly other aspects employers may look for in relation to specific posts - having their own ideas, articulate, thinking on their feet, aspects which will be related to the job and to the company's preference in employees.

The employer will also be looking to fill a post, which has a particular job specification - in other words personal aspects besides the experience, and qualifications that can be put down on paper. The interviewer will set out to ascertain that the candidate has these personal qualities, skills and abilities the company requires.

These two essential ingredients are interlinked. Good preparation instills confidence.

So the basic approach to an interview is to be well prepared. This means two things - preparing yourself practically for the interview, and gathering knowledge and information you can draw on during the interview.

* Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview and name of interviewee where appropriate.

* Check out how you will get to the location, and when you need to set off to be there in good time - do a dummy run if necessary. Plan to get there no earlier than half an hour before the interview time, anticipate delays.

* Have what you are going to wear ready in advance - everything down to your underwear.

* Do not go to the interview laden down with baggage - psychological as well as physical.

* Take the bare minimum of belongings necessary.

* Concentrate on the interview at the interview - nothing else.

* If you are asked to bring certificates, references etc, get them ready before the day.

* Take your interview letter.

* On arrival ensure the receptionist knows you are there, visit the toilets to tidy up etc.

If you are well organized and have planned for the day your confidence will increase.

The interview is a chance for you and the employer to get to know one another. It is NOT the time to get to know about the post or the employers business.

Do gather information about your employer before you are interviewed - what do they do, what are their current projects, what other interests do they have? Ask staff - many companies will offer you the chance to talk about the vacancy with someone, use the opportunity to find out more about the company.

Bigger companies will have PR departments, smaller ones will provide you with some information - libraries can provide information on local business and keep directories of national business. Use the internet - many companies have a presence here now.

Make sure you know what the job entails - get a job description, ask someone in a similar post; ring the company to clarify if unsure.

Remember the employer is interested in you as a person, your experiences and your opinions (in most cases). Do take the time to sit down and think about you, who you are and what you've achieved. It can be highly embarrassing to know more about the employer than yourself.

Sit down with your CV and make notes, about your work record, what you've achieved. Look at yourself as a person in employment - how do you see yourself, what have you done, what ambitions do you have. Make notes and prepare and rehearse sound bites about yourself. Remember that one of the most common of interview questions is 'Tell me about yourself' prepare a sound bite for this in particular, but not a life history. Usually interviewers want to know about personal qualities not achievements - though examples can be included to support your statement.

Interviews vary tremendously, from very informal to formal. However, some questions can be anticipated, as can the subject matter. If you are well prepared, then the majority of problem questions should not arise. You will know about the company, you will know about yourself and you will have a good idea of the demands of the job - these questions will not be a problem to the well prepared interviewee.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Considering a Career Change? Pay Attention

Changing careers is never easy. Half the world thinks you've lost your mind, headhunters say you'll never work again and your mother-in-law steps up the old, "I told you so" routine. But for many burned-out, bored or multitalented folks who are sitting on skills they're not getting a chance to use, changing fields is the only way to keep from losing their marbles.

Regardless of your career change strategy, never make these 10 mistakes

1. Don't look for a job in another field without some intense introspection.
Nothing is worse than leaping before you look. Make sure you're not escaping to a field that fits you just as poorly as your last. Check out these self-assessment articles.
Get thorough information about the fields you're considering by networking, reading and doing online research. Having informational interviews with alumni from your college, colleagues, friends or family is a fun way to get the scoop on different fields.

2. Don't look for "hot" fields unless they're a good fit for you.
You wouldn't try to squeeze into your skinny cousin's suit, so why try a field because it works for him? People who are trying to help you will come along and do the equivalent of whispering "plastics" in your ear. Instead of jumping at their suggestions, take time to consider your options. Decide what you really want to do. When you enter a field just because it's hot, burnout isn't far behind.

3. Don't go into a field because your friend is doing well in it.
Get thorough information about the fields you're considering by networking, reading and doing online research. Having informational interviews with alumni from your college, colleagues, friends or family is a fun way to get the scoop on different fields.

4. Don't stick to possibilities you already know about.
Stretch your perception of what might work for you. Read some job profiles and explore career fields you learn about from self-assessment exercises.

5. Don't let money be the deciding factor.
There's not enough money in the world to make you happy if your job doesn't suit you. Workplace dissatisfaction and stress is the number-one health problem for working adults. This is particularly true for career changers, who often earn less until they get their sea legs in a different field.

6. Don't keep your dissatisfaction to yourself or try to make the switch alone.
This is the time to talk to people (probably not your boss just yet). Friends, family and colleagues need to know what's going on so they can help you tap into those 90-plus percent of jobs that aren't advertised until somebody has them all sewn up.

7. Don't go back to school to get retreaded unless you've done some test drives in the new field.
You're never too old for an internship, a volunteer experience or trying your hand at a contract assignment in a new field. There are lots of ways to get experience that won't cost you anything except your time. A new degree may or may not make the world sit up and take notice. Be very sure where you want to go before you put yourself through the pain and debt of another degree program.

8. Be careful when using placement agencies or search firms.
Do some research to be sure to find a good match. Ask those who work in the field you're trying to get into or other successful career changers for suggestions. Try to find a firm that knows how to be creative when placing career changers -- not one that solely focuses on moving people up the ladder in the same field.

9. Don't go to a career counselor or a career transitions agency expecting they can tell you which field to enter.
Career advisors are facilitators, and they'll follow your lead. They can help ferret out your long-buried dreams and talents, but you'll have to do the research and the decision making by yourself. Anyone who promises to tell you what to do is dangerous.

10. Don't expect to switch overnight.
A thorough career change usually will take a minimum of six months to pull off, and the time frequently stretches to a year or more. Changing fields is one of the most invigorating things you can do. It's like experiencing youth all over again, except with the wisdom of whatever age you are now.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dressing Etiquette for the Interview

A job interview can perhaps be one of the most distressing experiences any job seeker can ever have! You want to make a great first impression but not go overboard. You want to stay humble and grounded but not undersell your capabilities.

Your first assignment before you interview for any job should be ‘perfect grooming’! Clothes might not say everything about you but they sure play a big part in making your perfect first impression! Whether you’re a young whippersnapper heading for your first interview or a seasoned pro, read on to know all important tips for looking sharp and giving off a great first impression.

Keep Things Subtle and Stylish

When you appear for an interview, you should dress in a manner that shows that you have put in a lot of effort to dress well and appropriate for the occasion. Don’t wear anything too distracting and avoid casual or flashy clothes. In fact, your ensemble should show how focused, resolute and grounded you are when it comes to a job.

Guys can have it easy –almost fail proof!

A white shirt or a light blue one should be a good idea to start with. Abstain from wearing bold colors as they look quite garish and brash. A smart light-colored shirt with a matching tie can be the perfect choice. Also while making your choices try and keep them conservative! The interviewer should hire you for the job because of your qualities and not because you can dress yourself straight out of the pages of a men’s fashion magazine!

Women should remember that an Interview means business!

There are some fashion no –no’s that should always be followed. Refrain from showing too much skin. Avoid wearing sleeveless tops or dresses. Remember to show an element of your personal style. The trick is to tone down and not hold back! Stick to classic clothing, like a white button down shirt and a simple skirt or pants.

Do your homework right

All people should follow a basic check list when preparing an interview outfit. Knowing about the company’s culture can be a god idea to start with. Find out how people in the position you’re applying for dress at that company. It’s also perfectly ok to ask the hiring manager about the dress code of the company.

A Polished Look Matters

Try and avoid looking dowdy! Make sure your attire is well fitted and pressed. Adding a dash of color to your outfit like a scarf can help you appear cheerful and optimistic to your prospective employer. Also keep your makeup negligible and your hair in a way that is suitable for the occasion. No matter how you normally comb your hair, any extreme or trendy hair style is major faux pas for any job interview. Again, conservative is the key word here.

Remember, an interview is the perfect time to showcase personality to your interviewers. Let your clothes be an accessory to elevate your standing above your competitors’. As always, style rules are written in pencil, not ink. Play around with it, be bold, show your individuality, and discover your own style.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All You Need is the Right Body Language to Ace the Interview

Your heart skips a beat every time you think of your job interview! You’ve thought about questions to ask your interviewer, and cautiously selected anecdotes of your work experience that will let the employer know that you’re perfect for the job. You look the part. You sound the part. But is your body language going to let you down?

Read on to know the Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to the nonverbal communication:

Eye Contact:

We all know that eye contact is a great way to connect with people, but it can also be a double-edged sword. You can appear aggressive and improper if you use too much of it while you can appear dishonest and low on confidence if you use too less. The trick is to use just the right amount and create that sense of balance between looking shifty and looking like you’re about to dare your interviewer for a duel! Good eye contact is about keeping eye contact, but not staring at the person for 30 long minutes!

Right Posture:

Whether you are standing or sitting, your posture says a lot about your confidence level. It also shows whether you are ‘hooked onto the conversation’ or not. If you slump, it implies low confidence and interest and if you sit stiff as
a rock then you exude nervousness which then makes the situation tight for any rapport building. It’s also seen that sitting with your arms and legs crossed might be interpreted as building a barrier and can send out negative ripples.

Don’t Tap Your Foot:

Shaking your leg or foot tapping are signs that you are nervous and extremely uncomfortable. Typically, this habit is more common with men but everyone should be cautious about this. Placing your feet flat on the ground with your knees touching is the best way to reduce both leg shaking and foot tapping.

Don’t use your hands too much:

Your hand movements can convey confidence, arrogance or defensiveness. They often emphasize your verbal statements but too much of it can distract the interviewer. Let your hands lie loosely on your lap or keep them on the armrests of your chair. Use your hand gestures only when and if needed then to support your words.

A smile can say it all:

A warm smile can be your biggest secret weapon! It’s seen that candidates often forget to smile because they are totally engrossed and worried about answering questions. Smiling in an interview not only tells the interviewer that you are relaxed but also helps you relax as well! It also shows your employer that you are a warm, open and friendly person.

Don’t be a nervous wreck:

Are you a pen clicker? Do you love to crack your knuckles? There is nothing like a quick distraction to send your interviewer completely off track and frankly up the wall. The message here? Keep your interviewer’s attention intact and avoid fidgeting!

Remember, your body language will be communicating throughout the interview process. It should convey a candid, robust and likeable persona. Applying these tips won’t compensate for being under qualified or unable to speak in complete sentences, but they will sure go a long way in making you a stronger candidate. And these days, when jobs are scarce, that could make all the difference in the world.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Have You Thought About Asking for a Mentor at Work?

Much has been written about the mentor-protégé relationship. A mentor affects the professional life of a protégé by promoting insight, identifying the much-needed knowledge, and expanding growth opportunities. Professional mentoring spans across all industries and professions, allowing you to find someone who has common goals. Although the relationship is directed at helping the mentee succeed in his or her career through business enrichment and goal setting from the mentor, the learning often goes both ways.

Reap Benefits from Experience and Perspective
One can enjoy the benefit of both experience and perspective by interacting with a mentor. The mentor can help you take onboard a new position and give you an insider’s view on how to execute things. Since every company has a culture filled with different personalities, procedures and politics, mentors can help you navigate in a new landscape by passing on their rich experience and wisdom. The protégé can follow the footsteps of his mentor and can skip several hurdles. It is a mutually beneficial relationship where in the mentor can also gain new insights regarding the new techniques and technology making rounds.

Help You Think Out of the Box
Mentors can give you a different perspective and make you look at situations in a myriad of ways. They can help you use your emotional intelligence so that you become adept in understanding yourself and your impact on others. Many a times in looking at situations in a different perspective, you somehow challenge your deep-rooted limiting beliefs. While you struggle to overcome those challenges, the mentor can often ask questions that can elicit an essential change of thinking in you.

Get Industry-Related Tips
There is nothing like learning from a person who has already been there. Lack of basic business knowledge and expertise is something that most beginners face as hurdles. However, mentors in the same profession can help you identify tools and techniques that work well and steer you away from the bad ones. When faced with a challenging situation, you can often use your mentor’s opinion as a yardstick.

Identify and Reach Long-Term Goals
Mentors can help you chalk out your career plans without getting distracted by day-to-day pressures. They can breed accountability and responsibility in you. Mentees soon get into the pattern of holding themselves responsible for completing their action plans. They then strive for achievements that they previously thought were not possible. A good mentor also provides you with impartial advice and acts as your counselor and motivator.

Get Inspired to Work Better
Mentors can be a source of inspiration for you. Under the guidance of a good mentor you can polish your skills and work efficiently with a clearer view of the future. You can also expand your network contacts and business acquaintances and open doors within your company and in other companies as well.

Develop a Meaningful Relationship
Friendship can’t be the criteria in a mentor relationship. Mentors can be a great sounding board for all issues and can be trusted confidantes. This relationship should be based on mutual respect, dependence and honesty. You should always value and respect the time that your mentor is giving you. You shouldn’t come across as being too pushy or needy. You should preferably try and hold back things that can wait until the next meeting if possible.

Always remember, this is a commitment on your part and your seriousness should be evident in your efforts. Mentors exist in all forms throughout your life and career. The relation that you share with your mentor is one of directness, introspection, responsibility and sharing successes and failures alike. In fact, mentors are great supporters of your positive attributes and they always help you during the bumpy spots of your career.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Don't Be Afraid to Say "NO" at Work

A new job comes with a baggage full of expectations, along with the prospects of a bright future. You go through myriad of emotions as the new job brings a new environment, new way of working, new co workers etc. It is only natural for you to experience happiness as well as stress at the same time.

Initially, you put in a lot of effort to carve a niche for yourself and create trust and respect in the eyes of your superiors. In the process you take on extra work, stay on your toes and tend to bend backwards to make everyone happy. As more time passes by, it becomes more and more difficult to keep the extra effort going and then comes the big question – how to tackle this situation that you have seemingly gotten yourself into? The tact of saying no will come in handy to get you out of this soup.

How to Say No?

When you are under pressure from a superior or a co-worker, you might feel compelled to say yes to an extra task or a favor that they are asking of you. However, you need to let go of your people-pleasing impulses and focus on your well-being and career growth and take on only the tasks that you can do quality work on and yet deliver in time.

Furthermore, you have to be careful that you do not offend the superior or co-worker by declining their request. Here are a few pointers that will be useful:
  • Use a Neutral Tone
    The tone of your voice should be neutral and not aggressive. Be not only firm and assertive but also polite and respectful while you explaining that you would need more time to be able to duly address the task at hand.
  • Explain your Position
    If you are not bound by confidentiality, it would be helpful to give the other person a background of why you are unable to say yes to the additional responsibility. You can elaborate on the current tasks allocated to you and their importance for the team or business and how they need to be tackled before the new work item you are being asked to deliver.
  • Clarify the Priority
    If it seems that you would have to take on the additional work, make sure you get a clear idea of which tasks are more important and need to be dealt with before others. This would help you in keeping focus on what is important and it would also help the colleague in understanding the relative priority of various tasks assigned to you.

Lastly, it is important to understand that you should always try to strike a balance such that you say no only at the right time, the right place and only when it is absolutely necessary.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Do Not Underestimate the Importance of the Cover Letter

Ever slogged over your resume and still were not shortlisted for the lack of a polished introduction? A cover letter, more often than not, is the most overlooked aspect of a person’s job search. As a formal opening, a well-drafted cover letter introduces you to the potential Recruiter. It not only presents your qualifications and work experience but also defines the purpose for sending the resume. It brings a note of professionalism to your job application and persuades the Recruiter to review your resume and consider you as a competent candidate for your dream job.

Some important tips that can help you write an effective cover letter:

  • Keep your letter short and precise.
    Your cover letter should not be more than one page long. A short cover letter will introduce you and pique the curiosity of the recruiter such that the recruiter is more inclined to go through your CV.
  • Personalize the letter for each job
    While applying for a job, include the name of the recipient and the name of the company name in the cover letter. Moreover, do some research about the company and the respective job opening and tailor your letter to exemplify your fitment with the needs of the organization you are applying to.
  • Follow a structure
    The cover letter must be well-structured and organized. An example structure could consist of three paragraphs. The first paragraph should include details of the job opening – how you heard about the job, why you are suitable for the position and show that you have done your research before applying. The goal of this paragraph is to make a connection with a recruiter. The second paragraph should highlight your most relevant experiences and qualities as they relate to the position you are applying for. Focus on the employer’s needs and how your skills and experience will make you a perfect fit. However, a caveat, this content should not be a copy of your resume. Finally, in the third paragraph, draw the recruiter’s attention to the attached resume, request and interview and thank the reader for his or her time and consideration.
  • Proofread
    Use simple and clear English. Run a spell check on your cover letter. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes are a complete no-no.

Finally, ensure that you have provided your complete and correct contact details to be able to get that interview call!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Get Promoted

Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.” This saying is absolutely true for people who never quit no matter what is thrown their way. They just keep climbing the career ladder. Although everyone works with full dedication, few get lucky. In today’s competitive workplace, competition is at a premium, and getting noticed is more important than ever. Only being competent and able won’t do the trick, it needs some focused approach. One can refer to the following 10 ways to earn a promotion and make your way up the career ladder.
  • Build accountability for yourself – Building up accountability at your workplace is the key to success. No one gets a promotion handed over to him on a silver platter, one needs to become worthy of this reward. This can only happen when one carries out one’s current duties and responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner.
  • Excel at your work – In order to excel, one must be completely dedicated to ones work. Organizations always remember those who show 100% dedication and commitment to their job and give excellent results. Enthusiasm alone is not enough, one must utilize ones full potential and then only the results will be stupendous.
  • Stay ahead and volunteer for jobs – Being a volunteer at the workplace can always enhance credentials. Be ready to exchange your new insights and experiences and never shirk away from work related responsibilities. When a person is ready to handle more responsibilities, he comes into the good books of management. But at the same time it is imperative to know that additional responsibilities must not hamper your current duties.
  • Highlight your leadership skills – It’s always imperative to showcase your strengths and positive qualities at your workplace. Professionalism in the workplace can be a pivotal point of your success in your profession. As one climbs the ladder of success, more and more responsibilities are added to ones profile. One needs to exhibit abilities to lead and motivate people. Try to become a team player! Your fresh ideas will garner respect for you from your subordinates and management will also take notice of your capabilities.
  • Build Contacts – It is very significant to build good contacts with superiors, colleagues and subordinates. A good image always plays a crucial role while making decisions for a promotion. Interpersonal skills, team management and people’s skills are also an important factor while deciding on promotions.
  • Look for a mentor at work – A workplace mentor is an individual who supports your development in the workplace and reviews your progress and achievement at work. To earn yourself a promotion, it is also advisable to connect with such a person who is already aiming for fast success in the organization. Not only will you get lots of hands on guidance from him but also various means to grab success in your hands.
  • Be ready to learn new things – Learn to dream big! Life is a constant learning so one must always be ready to learn new things that will not only improve one’s profile but will also help one stay in the forefront. One should always have the hunger to learn new things. Since the environment is so dynamic in nature, it is very important to keep pace with the changes happening. It is also important to keep yourself updated about the latest techniques and skills.
  • Reinforce your past accomplishments – It is not wrong to remind your superior about your past accomplishments and successes so that when the time comes to refer a name for promotion, your name is always at the back of his mind. It is human nature that negative happenings are always remembered and positive happenings fade away from our memories. So it is advisable to reinforce your accomplishments to ensure your success when it comes to promotion. But remember that no one can bask forever in one’s past glory so it is essential that one is constantly achieving.
  • Refine your personality – Your unique personality can be an asset in the workplace, so make sure that you display it to the very best of your ability, without losing a professional edge. No one remembers a person who has a laidback personality. Appearance plays a lot of importance and a person who is slouchy in appearance has very little chance to be considered for a promotion. Capabilities and skills alone cannot help you fast track your career graph in today’s highly competitive and globalised corporate environment. It also demands good communication skills and perfect grooming.
  • Make the most of challenges – To be a successful ‘fast tracker’ you need to be a self-starter. Try and constantly match and exceed expectations at your workplace Instead of getting fearful of challenges, it is better to turn these challenges into opportunities and strengths for the organization. Challenges will keep on pouring so it is better to learn from these challenges and change them according to your needs and requirements.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

If You Are Creative, Here're Some Job Suggestions

Creative minds think in a different manner and that is why their depiction is also different. Earlier, the career avenues for creative minds were very limited. They were painters, poets or theatre artists with a limited scope to portray their talent. However, over the years, the career options for creative people have broadened immensely. From theatre to corporate offices, you can find such minds working to create a difference.

In the last few years, Graphic Designing and Writing have emerged as two promising fields which provide them the opportunity to unleash their creativity.

Graphic Designing

Graphic designing is one of the hottest career options in India that covers all ends of a creative spectrum. It involves art, computers and problem solving by planning, analyzing and creating visual solutions to communication problems. India is catching up with the latest technologies and is flooded with jobs for graphic designers.

The job of a graphic designer is to find the most effective way of sending across the messages in print and electronic media by using various print and layout techniques. They may develop the layout and production design for magazines, newspapers, corporate reports, journals and other publications. Their work also involves designing logos, producing promotional displays, packaging and marketing brochures and developing environmental graphics for products and businesses. They also develop material for Internet web pages, interactive media and multimedia projects and produce the credits that appear before and after television programs and movies.

Graphic designers are considered as visual problem solving specialists who aim to create an effective design that is pleasing and attractive for the viewer. The job profile and work environment may vary highly depending on the industry and company that they work with. The remuneration in the field is quite good as the scope and demand for graphic designers is growing with time. Jobs for graphic designers are available across industry verticals such as electronic media, packaging firms, film and animation, advertising agencies, marketing firms, design studios, educational institutes, printers and typesetters, exhibits and displays, audio-visual media, publishers, manufacturers and department stores etc.


Writing has become an extremely vast field and offers diverse areas of expertise to individuals with a flair for writing. With such tremendous internet penetration, it has become an important source of catching attention and making people aware of products and services, asking for help in social causes, updating and inviting them for events and many other purposes.
A writer is required to communicate the message effectively across the audience in an eloquent manner so as to establish strong business associations and credibility of the company. The demand for writers has been increasing in all kinds of industries in India creating large number of jobs in writing.

Various kinds of jobs in writing are:
  • Writing Blogs
    Blogging is the most widespread phenomenon of writing today. Bloggers are now counted among the most respected and have been gaining popularity at the speed of light. Companies are seeking bloggers who can write well and keep customers updated. This has resulted in high demand for quality blog writers.

  • Copywriting
    Copywriters are the need of every business as they are the ones who come up with ideas that define and promote brands in a favorable way. Creativity to the core is the only demand of this profession. The demand for copywriters will always remain high as they help customers associate with brands and build immense brand value.

  • Technical Writing
    Technical Writers are among the highly demanded writers and their need is mainly generated by software companies who wish to give out some technical details. Web content writing and article writing can also be done by technical writers as it involves expressing content on the web or in an article form that can give detailed descriptions of some technical processes or procedures. This job includes writing user manuals, white papers, charts, product specifications, flow equipment or material lists, functional requirements, descriptions, etc.

  • Business Writing
    The writing of Press releases, newsletters, business proposals, guides and manuals, etc. is all part of business writings. Press release writing is the announcement of new products, services, features or achievements of a company. Newsletter writers promote services and provide user guidance while connecting with them. Jobs in newsletter writing include giving information on products, services, users, employees, achievements, surveys, results, events etc.
Writer jobs in India are burgeoning. So, if you have it in you to be a writer, you have a wide array of options to choose from.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Negotiate Your Way to a Higher Salary

When you are trying to negotiate your salary, patience really helps! One of the keys to effectively negotiating a higher salary lies in the knack to disconnect yourself from one of the most decisive factors in taking a job: your compensation. You really don’t want to include your salary range by making it sound like you simply added up your bills and tossed in some extra for a vacation cruise! In most cases, conversation about your pay must never be initiated by you. It should ideally start only after an employer has put an official job offer on the table.

So read on to know how with a proper mindset and a little finesse, you can “sweeten the pot” in a job offer by 10% or more.

Don’t be reluctant to ask for a higher salary

The horror of getting rejected or the fear of coming across as too pushy are reasons enough to stop people from asking for more. If you are someone who hesitates in asking for more money for reasons ranging from fear of sounding greedy to a lack of confidence in your worth, then its time you faced your nemesis. Fear is a killer of all good things in life and the sooner you face it the better off you are both mentally and financially.

Toughen yourself

If you don’t ask for it, you seldom get it! Employers are not mind readers nor do they unexpectedly feel like multiplying your salary for no rhyme or reason. Remember, while a “no” can be a probable answer, so can be a “yes” or a “we’ll see what we can do”. In both cases you still manage to open the employment relationship with an optimistic message of courage and pluck. Remember, if you don’t ask for it somebody else would. So be the gutsy one instead!

Build you case and show your worth

Reflect on things that make you exclusive and valuable. It is all about creating your professional worth and confirming to yourself the reason to ask more. Measure your skills and knowledge with your contemporaries and put down factors that make you “a cut above” the others. Highlight your strengths, provide concrete facts and give in depth proof of your worth to your employer.

Be pragmatic and rational

It is foolish to wait for the stars when you’ve already been given the moon. Aiming for a higher salary is a good objective but asking for a sky-high compensation, much above the top end of your position’s market worth is quite risky. Only if you have an exceptionally good reason to do so, be careful to pitch it just right! Some companies can only afford so much before your “uniqueness” gets way out of their league.

Be prepared for a “No” and end it on a good note

It is good to know in advance how you’ll react to a “No”. Aim to be affable and remind yourself that this is business and not personal. A simple “okay thanks” is a good enough way to respond. Don’t turn a “No” into a backlash and invite a withdrawal for any job offer in the times to come.
Also remember that your salary is a big piece of the pie, but not the only one. There are some great ‘benefits’ and “perks” that can make a lower salary the most appealing. So learn this delicate art and keep the door open for new offers in the future.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Certifications can Boost Your Career

You might have seen a CMP, SAP, or PMP behind someone’s name and not really had a clue what it meant -or wondered if it meant anything at all? Opposite to what you think, these letters are not just adornments but they are power packed letters- ‘Certification’. In today’s heated business climate, getting a certification not only adds value to your resume but also sets you apart from the pack. It clearly emphasizes your dedication towards your profession! That’s because every employer desires a person who has precise knowledge, skills, and ability in the exact area of the discipline for which they need an employee for.

So read on to know why getting ‘certified’ should be your next career move!

Beef up your resume

You are possibly the most coveted employee in your organization and your skills are in great demand even without a certification! But in a highly competitive job market, gaining extra credential never hurts and can surely give you the much required push while choosing your next employer. It also adds to your qualification and supplements your career credentials.

Qualify for Employers with High standards

If working with a blue chip organization is on your wish list, then a certification might just help set your application apart! It’s a competitive job market out there. So if you want employers to see your resume, then adding a few certifications might be just enough to give you a leg up on the competition and help you clinch the best of the deal.

Double your chances to earn more

Professionals with certifications are assured as skilled and reliable, are easier to train, and require to be replaced less than often. So for employers, they are worth hiring and are worth giving higher salaries to retain. A certification clearly identifies you as someone who has demonstrated mastery of a certain skill and it often acts as the “deal clincher” while deciding on whom to interview and whom to hire.

Broaden your scope of practice

The positive impacts of certification stay with you throughout your career. In today’s fast-changing world, employees are expected to match pace with the new emerging technologies. Certifications polish your skills and knowledge and give your employer a clear idea of your eagerness to advance your own professional development, which they identify as a valuable attribute of a successful employee. Certification prepares you for greater on-the-job responsibilities and gives you an edge over the others during promotions or other career opportunities.

Meet the market needs

A plethora of websites, online portal, online magazines, print publications and e-newsletters are great resources for certifications. Read and analysis to find out what “shortages” or gaps are there in the job market. Getting an idea of this can help you decide on a certification that will be the most appreciated, highly demanded and most sought-after by most employers. Adopting new technologies early on will not only push you to the fore in terms of skill and knowledge but will also give you an added advantage in the job competition.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Answering “What Are Your Weaknesses”

Trying to answer the “Weakness” question is like trying to walk along a tight rope: a solid answer takes you ahead unhurt, while a misstep sends everything crashing down. Questions like these are the clinchers. By not admitting to any weakness you come across as phony and fake. And on the other hand admitting to them puts you at risk of losing the offer!

So, do you really reveal your biggest weakness to those who matter? Do they want to hire you still? What if you say you have no weakness? Then do you run the risk of not sounding genuine?

Read on to know solutions that can help you tame this dreaded monster:

Being prepared is the key

Anticipating questions that can come up your way can save you from ending up in a tight spot. So, it’s best recommended to review your job description for your potential employee and connect one of you areas of weakness to them. A smarter tactic is describing something that was once a weakness and elaborating on how you managed to overcome it. For example, if you always had difficulty with numbers, then you could say,” I have always dreaded Math but I took up a crash course in Excel to get a better grip on it.” This way you are not only helping the employer identify the red flags but also projecting your honesty and self awareness.

Project it right

It mind sound cliché, but every cloud has a silver lining. Choosing a short coming that can be best explained in the most positive light is the best thing to do. Putting an optimistic spin on your negative attribute and using words that are seen as professional strengths should be the call for the day. For example, if you are not a very meticulous person and skip details, you could say, “I have always been a ‘big picture’ thinker and have to confess that I occasionally give the smaller details a miss. By willing to offer both sides of the coin while talking about your shortcomings, you are in a way demonstrating how you are working to deal with the issue.

Pick the Best one

Not all weaknesses put you in the same jeopardy of not being hired. While you don’t want to talk about something that can irrevocably damage your chances of getting a job, you can always talk about a weakness that you are trying to overcome, but which is not a part of the core skill set needed for the job. Or best talk about a previous weakness and how you successfully managed to overcome it!

Just remember one thing; your interviewer isn’t expecting you to be 100% perfect. In spite of whatever strategy you are using, your main objective is of talking about a real weakness that does not harm your possibility for the position but also doesn’t come across as impractical or staged. If you are unsure of the negative weakness that you are most likely to discuss, then evaluate the criteria for the position you are applying for. Put yourself in the place of the employer to consider what you would like to hear and what you would think as ‘negative’. Take out time to practice difficult answers, sound confident and show the yearning to improve on whatever weakness you possess.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Better Manage Your Time

Your boss in all probability has your time pretty well under control at your job and if you work for yourself, you’re most likely a slave to deadlines set by customers and clients! As a professional, you’re forever busy. But where does it all end? When you get more successful, do you think your agenda will magically get less hectic and fill up with lesser obligations? Think again. Instead, you’ll have more to be done in lesser time. And unless you have a structure in place, it might prove difficult.

Everybody is different, and the same strategies don’t work for every person. But if you know how to juggle your time well it can certainly help you take charge of your life and feel more in control.

Organize and Prioritize

You can save a lot of headaches if you have an organized system in place. The first step towards improving your time management is getting started with a simple to-do list and prioritizing your work. Inevitably, you are required to execute numerous tasks simultaneously as multi-tasking is the need of the hour today. A lot of times your colleagues and subordinates approach you with eleventh hour requests. In such cases, it is very important to know what needs to be done first. However, don’t make the common mistake of taking too much on your plate. Learn the art of saying no when required.

Tame your Technology

Do you find your whole day being devoured up by calls and emails? You might think that you’re being proficient by responding to every new communication coming your way, but the reverse can be true. Divert your calls to voice mail and switch off your email notifications while working. Check your messages one time in the morning, probably sometime after lunch, and once more before you call it a day. You’ll realize that you are able to reply to the significant ones as they come up, and still have time to get some real work done!

Take a break

A lot of people prefer working through their lunch breaks to squeeze in some more time at work. But a lot of experts feel that 45 minutes away from work can actually help you to be more efficient in the afternoon. A break is a perfect time to unwind and think of things other than work. Take a lazy stroll outdoors or, better still, do some free style exercises. You’ll come back to work feeling rejuvenated and with renewed focus. Scheduling your day with a lunchtime break will also help you to break up your work into more manageable chunks.

Don’t switch gears

Trying to juggle too many activities can be a huge time-waster. If you filing pieces of paper then making calls then sending emails then again filing more papers, your brain in a way is switching gears at every step. So try completing one type of to-do before moving on to the next task. You’ll find that you progress faster and get things done in a shorter amount of time when you’re in a groove!
These might seem like simple tasks but when combined they add up to a great improvement in efficiency and time management in your workplace.

If You're Looking for a New Job...Keep it Quiet!

They say it’s always better to start searching for a job while you already have one. But looking for a job while you’re already working can be rather tricky, particularly in the age of social media where privacy is scant! In a market where jobs still haven’t rebounded, you don’t really want to do something to risk your existing job—let alone jeopardize your chances of getting a new one.

So what happens when you already have a job and something better piques your interest or you just feel you’ve outgrown your existing job? Also in times when employers are poaching top performing workers from other organizations, you don’t really want your present employer to know that you’re looking for a new job!

So just read a few tips on how to look for a new job while keeping your current one secure:

Carefully choose people to confide in:

Keeping your intent to yourself can be the best thing that you can do to start with. Word gets around, and if a co-worker or your boss gets the wind of this then they may start looking for your substitute, even before you’ve actually scheduled for an interview. So for all reasons and intents, avoid slacking off, behave normal and stop ranting about how much you would prefer being somewhere else.

Network with Caution:

Your social media profile can be a brilliant tool for searching a job, but not essentially in the way you might think. Revamping your online profile suddenly and uploading your resume can draw unwanted attention. Rather, you should quietly explore your network of connections for job opportunities. And in case you have several connections, you can look for people who have the same skills as yours and see what companies they work for. This can give you some really good clues for your future job search.

Do it in your own time:

Steer clear of taking calls or scheduling interviews during your working hours. Try doing them on weekends or after office hours. If it is unavoidable, then take a day off, but do it with discretion. Taking too many days off without any valid reason can set the alarm bells ringing. It’s always good to talk to your potential employer about scheduling your interview after office hours. Not only will they appreciate but also value your commitment towards your existing work.

Be selective about your references:

It’s quite possible that your references are a part of your close-knit network, so let them know that you are searching off the record. And of course – if you wish to keep your job search confidential from your existing managers, make sure that you don’t list them as a reference. Instead, give the names of previous managers or trusted colleagues from your present company who are aware of the scenario and can talk about your performance.

Don’t burn the bridges, leave on a positive note:

Till the time you at your existing job, keep working hard and doing the best that you can. Do not check out psychologically before you actually make an exit. Make sure you follow the appropriate protocol for resignation and not abscond without tying up any loose ends. You never know when you might require the recommendation of your current manager someday!

On the flipside, in case your manager gets to know that you are looking out, it’s always better to come clean and talk about it. Denying can make the situation awkward in the workplace. Best case scenario- it could be the opening point for some discussions for keeping you on board!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

These Days Most Employers will Run a Background Check on You. What will they find?

While searching for a job, you often get tied up in the mundane task of submitting resumes, acing networking events and perfecting your interview skills. But one thing that generally slips your mind is another hurdle that you might have to cross: background check! Your heart starts to pound and questions fly through your mind: What exactly will the employers look for? And who all are they going to talk to?

In today’s security conscious world, ‘Background Checks’ have become the norm of the day.

Because of this increasing spotlight on employment background checks, job seekers are discovering ways to verify their own individual information before their future employers verify its precision. One way to validate the information found during employment screening is through a “self” background check. By doing so, candidates are not only proactively telling employers that they have a clean background but also increasing their chances of getting shortlisted.

Anatomy of a Background Check:

Companies have certainly become more cautious while hiring and are doing background checks of candidates more than ever before! This is to ascertain whether they are hiring the right person or not as research suggests that 60% job seekers are “fudging facts” on their résumés. For many employers, a background check is a dependable way of cross checking claims made by candidates during hiring.

In a tight job market, the appeal to overplay educational qualifications or enhance job histories is growing. And as a potential employee, wouldn’t you feel more secure in knowing that your colleagues have been screened to ensure they are eligible for the jobs they hold?

What do they look for?

Previous Employer Verification:

This is what makes most candidates nervous! Nearly everybody has had some sort of disagreement with their bosses. The apprehension centers on what those employers will say and how good or bad it would be. Generally, previous employers only confirm dates of employment, compensation and designation. References, both good and bad are normally not provided.

Your Education details:

Background Verifications also verify dates, degrees, majors and certifications that you have earned. This has become common as a result of the overpowering amplifications made by job seekers. Here is a tip: Candidates without formal degrees should not waste money on phony degrees or certifications. Be candid about your education. If you think you need something additional, sign up for a certified school. Your efforts to enhance or complete your learning will definitely be seen positively.

The Smarter thing to do:

Your future employer is most likely to run a background check on you. Depending on how in-depth their screening will be, they will learn about your educational records, past employment history and professional certificates. So why not be the smarter one and tell employers in advance about your pre- verified background? Well, now you can get your employment & education credentials pre-verified with the latest background check tool from It will not only authenticate your experience and education but will also make you stand apart from the crowd.

The background screening industry is still in its nascent stage. However, the good news is that this trend is here to stay. So why not take matters in your own hands by proactively conducting a “self” background check on yourself and add credibility to your profile!

Monday, December 2, 2013

How Not to Stress at Work

Feeling so stressed that you just cannot think straight? Trust us, you’re not alone! Pretty often, in the race against time when we try to focus our attention on getting things done, we most likely experience resentment and anger when our intent or path gets blocked by others.

With faster lifestyles, 24/7 schedules and global workforces, the impact of stress at workplaces have become brutal on professionals working anywhere in the world. Things don’t always go as planned. Mistakes happen and emergencies arise! Therefore, we are left with no choice but to adapt to situations regardless, and in doing so, we often find ourselves surrounded in utterly spontaneous and at times stressful situations. Some say they function at their best when things get taxing. In fact, they find it quite exciting. But for many others, stress can have some very serious side effects.

So here are few quick ways to help you clear your mental clutter and stress less!

Don’t React, rather Act

We normally experience stress when we feel that a situation is out of our control. It triggers the stress hormones and if chronic, wears down self-confidence, focus and happiness. So, it’s very important that you identify the things you can control and things you cannot! Typically, you’re in control of your own responses and actions, but not of macro forces or somebody else’s attitude. Just be perfect for your own 50% and let go of the rest.

Streamline your work

Think of ways to manage and streamline your responsibilities. Planning, prioritizing and organizing are useful stress managers. Other strategies include defining roles, clarifying expectations, overseeing project schedules and finishing tasks ahead of deadlines. Sharpen your focus as well: Find ways to allocate time to the most significant tasks and learn the art of prioritizing in both your personal and professional lives.

Do away with Interruptions

Almost each one of us is bombarded with disruptions during the day. Emails, pop ins, calls, messages and urgent, unexpected deadlines conspire to distract you more than ever. While you may not be able to control the interrupters, you sure can control your responses. Accept the interruptions, cut them off or analyze their importance and make plans. Several interruptions are habitual and can be foreseen. You need to have preset criteria for responses you aspire to make. You can also train others around you by answering emails during certain windows, setting up hours in office for talking in person or closing the door when you require concentration.

Include stress breaks

Most people agree that they handle stress by temporarily disconnecting themselves, either psychologically or physically, from the source of their stress. One way is to get up from your work station and simply walk around or just get out for some fresh air after every few hours or so. Indulge in some shoulder shrugs or deep breathing, or just close your eyes for few minutes. Bonding with your colleagues is one of the most successful antidotes to stress in the office. Chatting over the water cooler, going together for lunch and sharing problems could be the best form of therapy.

Don’t ignore your health

Are you frequently too drained to deal with problems, queries, and others’ requirements? Do you yell often, slam doors, and lose your temper? Stress can be draining and devastating. If you are not exercising enough or getting fresh air into your lungs, then your body will eventually suffer and will make matters worse. So start today. Go for brisk walking until you feel puffed. Slow down your pace, then sit and watch the world go by for another 10 minutes while you recover. You will feel healthier already.

Remember, the best cures for stress are free! There are no pills or potions for stress. Simply changing your attitude, accepting things you cannot change, managing your well time and agreeing with people some of the times can do the trick for you.

Friday, November 29, 2013

How to Deal with a Bad Appraisal

It’s that time of the year again when you would have received the much awaited appraisal letter…. For some, it would be a sheer delight but for some a heartbreak! So, what do you plan to do? Just sit back and pine? Or twiddle with the thought of barging into your boss’ cabin and demand a reply? Or simply quit your job?

A negative appraisal surely leaves a sour taste, but does not imply failure, provided you know how to react. The natural instinct makes you angry and frustrated. But the idea is to stay calm and get a grip on your emotions. Receiving a negative appraisal can unnerve you a bit but it can also help you identify and defeat the hurdles in your career path.

So here are few tips for turning a negative into a positive:

Stay Calm:

The toughest thing is getting past your emotions! Criticism often evokes extreme reactions and when it’s about something as personal as your work, it’s natural to become defensive. Try to be logical and sensible- that is what will get you out of there. Lashing out at your manager will swiftly turn a challenge into a crisis! So take a minute and collect your thoughts. If you want to proactively do something about it, it is best to take it up with your immediate manager.

Assess yourself objectively:

Ranting and raving will get you nowhere! Most of us don’t really get a bad appraisal without some valid reason for the same. Be realistic and assess yourself objectively and think of areas where you could actually improve. Acknowledge the areas where you feel you didn’t perform and pick your battle for the areas where you feel the manager has been unreasonable.

Clarify doubts:

It is significant to comprehend criticism, whether you agree with it or not. And if you don’t, then discuss with your boss and ask for details if you feel something is vague. And try to get exact instances, explaining that you want to understand their observations better, not defy them. If needed, correct genuine errors that your manager might have made in your review by giving quantifiable data. But don’t be defensive and give pointers to support yourself.

How to go about it?

The best way to deal with a poor appraisal is to first have an honest frame of mind and then introspect your performance vis-à-vis the targets. A discussion with your boss can surely help you put things in perspective and help you understand your appraisal better. For instance, you might have met your quantitative targets but not the qualitative ones. If there is a huge gap between your judgment of yourself and your supervisor’s assessment, it’s time for a reality check. Try and take the negative remarks as constructive criticism and use this as an opportunity to improve. A bad appraisal is not the end of your stint in the organization. Take it as a challenge and push yourself to better your performance next year.

Plan a strategy:

Actions speak louder than words! Develop a strategy which translates your crucial evaluations into exact actions. For example: If you are blamed for not meeting deadlines, reschedule your calendar and reorganize your every day priorities. Once this is set, tell your boss about it. This might ease their concerns and also involve them in your approach. Also ask for constructive feedback. Bosses are forever busy and don’t generally have the time to appreciate you of your good work. The bad stuff needs fixing but the good stuff shouldn’t slither by unnoticed! So, if you feel like your appraisal was all negative, just ask your boss about things that went well that year. That will not only remind him of the good stuff you’ve done but also give you a small shot of self-confidence in the course!

An honest appraisal can help you identify and conquer obstacles that have been holding you back. Accept the positive criticism and work towards addressing it. You will definitely give yourself a higher chance of getting a stronger review the next time around.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Interview Mines to Avoid

An interview is the perfect opportunity to present the very best version of yourself and convince employers why you’re the right person for the job. In actuality, this high-pressure experience can induce all kinds of weird behavior and gaffes.

Job interviews can be an excruciating, with most of us finding ourselves bumbling and stumbling through them. However, if one focuses on the significant things, they can feel relaxed and more in control of the situation.

Here we share some of the common interview mistakes that you can avoid to clinch the best possible deal:

You are late, dude!

Arrive at least ten minutes before the interview starts. After maneuvering your way via a private or public transport, it is most likely that your hair and clothes don’t stay in pristine shape. Arriving early for your interview gives you a chance to make sure you know where you are going. It also gives you enough time to settle in, get calm and collected before entering the company doors.

Dressing sloppily

Dressing for success is a common saying but most of us often take it lightly. If you think you can never go wrong with an elegant suit and polished shoes then think again! While a suit is normally preferred in a serious industry like Finance, it could appear as stifling and boring in a creative media company. So the idea is to dress according to the job you are applying to. It’s better to verify the dress code prior to the interview. Be presentable- show up in neat professional clothes. Dress on the conservative side and avoid wearing anything distracting and jazzy.

Not being prepared

This interview could be an important landmark in your career so reread your resume and the job description just before the interview. You would be amazed to know how many people forget what they write in their resumes. Also, know the job description well so that you can draw on your experiences, strengths and skills and connect them with the needs of the employer. Emphasize on how you are perfect for the job. Make sure you carry with you everything you have been asked for, like your important educational certificates as well as your personal portfolio.

Failing to research the company

Nothing spells lack of interest like a candidate who hasn’t done a pre-interview research. On the flick side, the best way to impress your employer is to display your interest with a few well thought out questions that echo your acquaintance with the organization.

Discussing salary way to soon

Don’t jump the gun regarding the salary. The right time to discuss your compensation is when a concrete offer is on the table. Don’t bring up the issue prematurely. You might hurt your chances of getting the job. The subject will come up inevitably but let your employer raise it, which will typically take place in the second round. Once the topic is raised, you can ask whether it’s open to discussion and what benefits come along with it.

Lack of self-confidence and eagerness

Lack of self-confidence can be a huge turn off. If you come across as too edgy, it might appear that you are not confident enough. If you really want the job, you have to sell yourself to the employer. Sound interested and excited for the job prospect. Maintain eye contact, greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and smile and show general courtesy. You don’t have to blabber in the interview. Make sure to ask few intelligent questions as interviews are an exchange of information, and not coming in with questions shows that you are not prepared enough.

No follow up

A thank-you or a polite email to the interviewer is the perfect way of expressing gratitude for their consideration and time. And while you don’t want to call the company every other day, it’s is ok to check on them once in a week after the interview.

Avoid these and give yourself a genuine shot at a second round interview. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keeping Up at Work with Generation Y

In an increasingly aggressive job market, staying relevant is no longer a choice but a necessity! Over the last couple of years, workplaces have undergone both subtle and radical changes. From technical advancement to the arrival of Generation Y, the career backdrop has changed considerably. Gone are the days of ‘deadwoods’ or employees who merely went through the motions of their jobs. These days, employers look for people who continuously add value to their organizations.

But what should employees do to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving world of work? Well… staying relevant in the workplace requires planning and reinventing of oneself. It starts with finding a job that you are passionate about. If you love what you are doing then improving your knowledge and skills comes naturally to you! And staying relevant doesn’t become a chore but an instinctive progression.

So here are some pointers for knowing the pulse of your industry and keeping your skills fresh:

Always be eager to learn:

The eagerness to learn is the most important quality needed to succeed in your career. Embrace learning as a lifestyle! Read journals, articles and anything you can get your hands on related to your career and industry you work in. Try and carve out an hour a week to read the latest career and industry news. Learn by reading, asking questions and by experimenting. Learn by whatever method you prefer to benefit and motivate yourself in your overall general and career well-being.

Know the dynamics of your industry:

Myopia serves no one! Keep yourself abreast with the latest developments both in your company and outside so that you are in the best position to know if your own techniques are favorable. Try understanding the bigger picture. Remember it’s not just about capability, it’s about the best possible performance and merely “competent” players are forever in the risk of being rendered redundant by professionals who have optimized performances and have carved a place by redefining or raising the bar.

Verify the needs of your clients regularly:

Just as the world is continuously changing so are the needs of your clients over the time. Most clients don’t tell you what becomes immaterial to them or no longer meets their requirements. Make sure to survey your clients to ask what they’d like you to stop, start, and continue doing for them.

Know your competitors well:

Knowing the latest products your competitors are offering or developing is another great way to make yourself and possibly your entire organization relevant. We are not talking about corporate espionage but a quick Internet search will most likely give you the answers you want.

Network through social media

We constantly hear that in today’s time “who” we know is as significant as “what” we know. So join online professional groups and use the latest forms of social media to stay on top of things. Try and be actively present on these business groups and pages and start creating an online name for yourself as an “expert” on certain topics. You will not only connect with like minded people but also pick up fresh business insights which would serve you well in your own job.

Look at the bigger picture:

Taking out time to sit back at frequent gaps and tracking your own progression to know if your performance and professional growth tangent are as they should be is also the key. From the very start you should chart your individual growth plan. It should include short term and long-term goals and ways to expand your skill sets and achieve all the major and minor milestones along the way.

The world is evolving so fast that one can become irrelevant in the blink of an eye. Staying relevant is a constant learning curve. There’s always some young gun right behind you armed with the latest training and technology to usurp you. Proactively managing your career and staying relevant takes effort and dedication. But the benefits and rewards of increased job satisfaction and development are well worth it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's Unusual But.. You can Find a Job you Love!

We spend about one third of our lives working so finding a job that we truly love becomes extremely important for our general well being. But if you are amongst those who are miserable in their jobs or who have the frequent nagging feeling that your job and self are out of alignment, then you are not alone! One of the toughest things about finding a job that you love is identifying what really makes you happy and what you are actually good at. The tricky part for most people is conquering the fear of change and negotiating the labyrinth of choices, particularly in a tough economy!

So here are few realistic steps to help you tame this fear and find the job that you love:

Being confused is perfectly normal:

Firstly, a soothing thought: Confusion about career choices is absolutely normal. We often become so nervous about making the wrong selection that we end up making no choice at all. Psychologists call this the “paradox of choices”: several options leading to decision paralysis! Then add to this the integral repugnance to risk. Humans have the innate ability to magnify everything that can possibly go haywire. So one needs to realize that confusion is normal and get ready to look beyond it.

Reflect on your current work

Most people switch jobs to get away from bad situations. However, before you start hunting for a new job, think about what you don’t like about your existing one. Is it the actual work, the surroundings, your colleagues or your boss? If you actually enjoy your work then look for a similar role at a different company. But, if you hate your work itself, it’s time to think of an entirely new career field.

Tune into your interests and passion:

The single wisest piece of career advice was offered thousands of years ago when Aristotle stated, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” And he would have definitely endorsed the modern research findings which show that those chasing status and money are not likely to feel content. So, the best option is to search for the right career, which focuses on issues and values that matter to you, and which also lets you to do something that you’re really good at.

Dare to be different:

Each one of us has special gifts and talents. Don’t write off your love for talking to strangers at social gatherings or your inclination for chalking out plans or your flair for organizing parties. These are all profitable talents and rarer than you might think. Try combining what you naturally enjoy doing and use them as a starting point to explore areas you find exciting. Something like planning an event for a social butterfly or consulting for a business freak? Just dare to be different, do your research and try some innovative combinations. You never know when a stylish art space might be looking for a financial expert!

Tread carefully:

Many a times, we aren’t too sure of what we like and what we don’t. We haven’t tested our abilities enough to make a good decision. There’s so much we can do to find the career that we love that it often becomes overwhelming. So, go slow and avoid doing too many things in different directions! Start with making a coffee rendezvous with an exciting new contact or scheduling an unofficial interview with your dream organization. And who knows—you might end up spending time with a future boss or co-worker.

Network your way through:

You have shortlisted the jobs that you love but you just can’t get through them! Here, networking comes in handy. Wake up the network of people you know and find a link that might fix up the interview you are keen on. Most companies are keen on referrals. So, just go through your network of family and friends and find a common link.

Taking the decision to follow your dream can sometimes be tougher than actually achieving it. So do some research, have self-confidence and a positive attitude and find out about the first steps you need to take — and then take them!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Calling it Quits...

“I hate my job!” This common place phrase is uttered by irked employees almost everywhere in offices. Sometimes, you just know that your job isn’t right for you. The vagueness of it all blinks at you like a massive neon light from the minute you walk into your workplace every morning. Other times it’s a little subtle. It doesn’t reach out and grab your attention but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there!

All of us have been in a wrong job before where we come in everyday just to keep our heads above the water and not get noticed for being incompetent. Disillusionment seeps in swiftly as a job plays out day to day. You realize that your responsibilities don’t mesh well with your personality or talents. But how can you tell when it’s the right time to call it a day? Quitting a job can have a negative impact on your career and can upset your personal life. But staying in an undesirable situation could be worse!

So here are some early warning signs that tell you’re ready for a new job:

You are constantly ‘Bored’ at work:

If boring becomes your favorite word at work and re-tweeting posts or updating your status on Facebook are the only exciting things that you do during the day, it’s time to update your resume. At times, things get a little slow when you’re just learning the ropes, but if the inactivity persists, you need to think about the situation and your career seriously.

Resentment & constant Irritation:

You keep telling yourself that you’ll give up but you never do. This is an indication that you are not completely satisfied with your existing role and this series of “false starts’’ is a sign of something much bigger. Be honest with yourself! Are you frustrated on a regular basis? Do you resent your boss or teammates? If so, don’t let risk-aversion fright you from pursuing an unexplored path or begin a new career.

Your skills are not valued:

You have certain qualities, skills and quirks you are proud of but don’t have the opportunity to use them at work. Or maybe you don’t derive any contentment from what you do at work. Let’s say you are a people’s person who prides yourself for your communication skills but are stuck in a place where the only interaction you have is with your computer! This disconnect between your work and your skills can be pretty demoralizing and its more likely that you are wasting your time and talent at the wrong place.

You have reached a dead end:

Employment is a two-way road and a lot of times people are simply chasing the dollar and compromising on their abilities, intelligence and personal aspirations for a quick buck! Of all the things that can go possibly go wrong with your job, the feeling as if you’re not growing is the most dangerous one. The market is evolving each day, and unless you are growing, too, you run the risk of becoming obsolete. That means it is certainly time to run, not walk, toward new opportunities! While still working, start looking for options or if changing your job is not practical, speak to your manager and voice your professional needs. Be precise as to what you want and be confident to back it up with strong reasons as to why you want what you are asking for. Most managers are very conservative, but with a good “why”, you can surely turn things around in your favor.

If you’re hanging onto a career or job because of the time and money you’ve invested then the first thing you should do is let reality sink in. It’s easy to find yourself on the wrong career path! When that happens, the solution is to stay vigilant for the warning signs, watch for the signposts, learn from those unavoidable detours, get directions, and then slowly start inching your way towards the right career path!

Friday, November 22, 2013

How to Escape the "Overqualified" Label

Sometimes employers say it on your face; other times you feel it lurking right behind you. That scary label: overqualified! Being labeled as “overqualified” is a crisis that any job seeker can encounter at any point of their career. The tag is applied in situations where the background-education, salary or experience is well beyond what the position actually requires. An overqualified candidate raises numerous red flags with hiring managers. They might question why you’re ready to take a step down and whether you’ll jump the ship as soon as something better comes along. If they think you’re applying for a job because you’re keen to take any offer, you’ll be swiftly passed over! The last thing a company wants to do is hire and invest in somebody who isn’t keen to stick around for long or not perform the expected responsibilities.

There are no set rules about being labeled overqualified. The so-called over qualification is just a perception or version of the potential employer who questions one’s fit for the opening. The lingering questions however are- how can a labeled candidate conquer the concerns of a hiring manager? And if the issue comes up during an interview, how can one handle it tactfully?

Here are some tips to break down the barriers and get a job when you are overqualified or perceived to be:

Wearing your attitude right:

If you are applying for a job for which you are overqualified and are lucky enough to land an interview, go with an open mind and understand that every opening is your door to a new opportunity. To start with, the hiring manager shouldn’t feel threatened by your expertise! And for this where your attitude plays a big role in it! You have to show your keenness for the job and emphasize your interest in learning new things and performing all kinds of tasks. Portray that no job is small enough and that in fact the new job will allow you to get more involved in the day-to-day operations.

Downplaying your resume:

In such a scenario, it always better to “soften” your resume a bit! You’ve most likely heard that tweaking your resume for every position you apply for is the right thing to do. Well a lower level position is no different. So focus on the skills only which are required for the job you’re applying for. You don’t have to make a laundry list of all of your management skills and experience since it’s probably not relevant. You might want to tone down job titles as well, since they are fairly flexible. You have to create the perfect image of yourself as the right fit for the job.

Avoid highlighting compensation specifications:

One of the fears of hiring an overqualified candidate is that they would cost too much! So minimize the fear of the hiring manager and show flexibility as far as your salary is concerned. This doesn’t mean abandoning your salary target goal but projecting that money is not the primary factor in your present job search. And if you’re as good as you think you are, your salary will eventually catch up to your credentials.

Turning the tables:

Be ready when your interviewer asks if you feel you’re overqualified. What the question actually means is “Are you a good fit for us?” Your best line of attack is to turn the question around. Ask what their perfect applicant looks like, and prove how you fit that depiction. It’s an extremely positive move which will reframe the conversation and start a discussion where you’ll be able to give instances of your relevant experience.

Being labeled as overqualified is not a job-killer! The fact that you’re competent enough to tackle such a tricky issue without being flustered will most likely turn it into a friendly exchange and will help you build a healthy rapport with the decision-maker.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Panel Interview...How to Handle it!

For an anxious job seeker, nothing can be more alarming and intimidating than a panel job interview! If your palm begins to sweat and twitch before a one-on-one interview, you can imagine your plight when a prospective employer informs you that you’ll be meeting with not one, but five people—all at the same time! Panel interviews can take you by surprise, but a growing number of companies are using them to effectively find candidates and expedite the interview process.

However, the reason behind conducting panel interviews is not to intimidate you; rather, it’s a time-saving technique to meet with people that you are most likely to interact with in the new organization and collect their thoughts all at once. An invite to attend a panel interview in fact signifies that you are a top contender as such interviews are typically the final step in the hiring process. In reality, you stand an excellent chance of getting the offer.

So, read the following survival tips to feel more in control while facing a group interview:

Acknowledge everyone in the room:

Sometimes, panel interviews are more of a peer interview. The main goal of the potential employer is to see how you would intermingle and “fit-in” as a new team member. So focus on the chemistry and connect with all individuals on a personal level. Remember to look at each person while introducing yourself. If possible, do a bit of research and find out the names of every Interviewer. You can also check out company website for photos. You are likely to feel less intimidated if you walk into a room already being able to put faces to the names.

Build a rapport with the entire panel:

Building a rapport with several evaluators becomes difficult at times but it is definitely not impossible. So, while fielding questions, avoid gazing at a single person as this can make you look more “frozen”! Instead, relax and smile, and open your gaze to the others in the room. Even when a single person in the group asks you a question, look around at the others while answering it. Doing this will make you look confident and also help you build a rapport with the entire panel at the same time.

Gear up for follow-up questions:

Beyond the fast pace, this kind of interview also typically evokes a lot of follow-up questions than usual. Multiple panelists mean multiple perspectives—and what might satisfy one interviewer may spark extra inquiries from the others. So make sure you’re equipped with several anecdotes and examples to explain your experience and background. There can be some awkward moments of silence as well when you have several people asking questions. Don’t let that bother you. Avoid filling up the dead spots with words, you are better off just sitting tight and waiting for the subsequent questions.

Know your stuff:

Avoid embarrassment of any sorts by familiarizing yourself with industry jargon. Check out the website of the company and business magazines for clues. If there are terminologies you’re not acquainted with, learn what they mean and use them in context. It’s absolutely acceptable to carry your own set of notes to ask the panelists. You can also keep reminder notes to prompt you if you actually get stuck for words. But remember they are for emergency only! If you find yourself overwhelmed or tongue-tied, a quick glance at them can help you refocus. Sometimes, simply knowing they are there can help you relax!

Remember your Thank You!

If you are given business cards of every single panelist, then you must follow up with a personal thank you note for each. This is vital as it can leave a great lasting impression!

Don’t dread panel interviews! Instead see them as a constructive opportunity. Stay composed, be honest and answer questions as best as you can. Then, breathe a sigh of relief—that you survived!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Things to Do The Day Before a Job Interview

Job interviews can be pretty nerve-racking causing us to lose our train of thought and not “perform” to the standards that we would ideally have liked to. You might feel uncomfortable “selling” yourself or fielding unforeseen questions, or the prospect of meeting and impressing new people can cause you anxiety. From sweaty palms, to dryness in the mouth or nausea, you can experience all kinds of symptoms. The comforting part however is that you are not alone! Almost all jobseekers find interviews stressful. But the trick is to appear as normal as possible and get through the ordeal successfully. The art is controlling your stress and appearing as likable even in the face of adversity!

During interviews, most jobseekers become so nervous that they either get tongue-tied or blabber too much. While few people welcome stress, the reality is that a manageable level of anxiety can actually perk up your performance. It can quicken your mind, sharpen your conversation and pump more adrenaline into your system. But if your blood pressure rises too much and your palms get sweaty, it’s time to control your reactions!

So here are some simple techniques that can relax you and help you through your interview woes:

Stay calm and relaxed:

The self-imposed stress of trying to ace an interview can make you focus too much on how you look and act. Even preparing your responses well in advance can hurt if you’re too nervous. It can choke your spontaneity and your capability to field the unforeseen questions. So, remind yourself that whatever happens, you’ll live to survive another day! And the less you fret about making slip-ups, the less anxious you will be.

Sleep well and plan ahead:

It’s great to plan ahead in order to do away with any kind of stress. This means sleeping early the night before your interview and reaching the venue a little before the scheduled time. Rushing, getting lost or the dread of being late can all provoke anxiety and set the panic button on. So print out the directions of the desired location and try to arrive 30 minutes early. Listen to some calming music on the way to unwind and relax a bit.

Know your etiquette:

What do you do when you feel stressed? Do you chew your nails, grind your teeth or twirl your hair? Right down each gesture and try solving these issues prior to the interview. For instance; if you bite your nails then clip them to avoid any distraction. Your body language also has a very important role to play here. It can say more than your words and can easily reveal that you are stressed and fidgety. So after talking to your recruiter for some time, try to lean forward in your chair. This will reveal that you’re engaged and listening. Also, smile while you talk as it releases tension in your muscles and transforms your perspective into a more positive one. It also makes you feel and look more confident. Plus, a returned smile also eases anxiousness.

Research well:

Stress is caused partly by uncertainty! So the more you lessen the uncertainty, the lesser stress you are likely to feel. Research your prospective employer well and prepare answers to the regular questions. Every bit of groundwork will help you relax and make you feel more confident. Gather as much information as possible to gain a sense of control. Research about the industry and job extensively so that you have a thorough knowledge of what your interviewer is looking for and what it is about your silhouette that can be remarkably significant to the job in question and can directly impact the bottom line.

Take your time and don’t succumb to pressure:

You might be interviewed by somebody who grills you to see how you tackle stress. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t let the interviewer ruffle your feathers. Know that the other people were treated the same way and that it’s not an indication of your capabilities or you.

There are numerous ways to reduce stress and ease your nerves before an interview. Just figure out what works best for you. Remember that you have to believe in yourself in order for anyone else to think it’s worth believing in you. Being well-prepared is a great antidote to stress. Lowering the stakes can also reduce your stress level significantly.