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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Are you on the Right Career Path?

It’s envious how some people have it all figured out! Discovering the real “you”: the person who actually resides behind the facades, stresses and defenses of everyday life and in the process knowing what you are meant to do. Once unmasked, your journey continues with various career explorations. And finally you identify a career that permits you to make great use of your skills and talents.

But the question is where to begin, and how to steer clear of making too many mistakes or following too many phony leads along the way? And the bigger question is how to establish a flourishing and successful career path and execute a plan to achieve it?

Here’s how to take a good at yourself, figure out what you really want to do and chart a career plan that will help you get where you want to, both personally and professionally.

Start by evaluating yourself:

A sincere evaluation is the key to figuring out your ultimate goals. Start by taking stock of where you stand professionally. Your resume and job title can only say so much about what you do, so start taking notes of what you do actually. Your key responsibilities and everything else you spend time on at work, even if it’s marginal to your ‘real’ job. Thoroughly review all that you have achieved in your profession so far. Focus on experiences that have taught you significant lessons and assisted you in learning fresh skills. Peruse feedbacks or performance appraisals that you have and then evaluate things you have learned. And as you examine your past, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and how they connect to your chosen career path.

Devise plans for progressing towards your goals:

Your goals symbolize your destination. If your goals are vague, your career development will be fuzzy and random. So set clear goals and remember to keep the end result in mind. And as a career driven professional, brainstorm ways to bridge the gap between the two. Every goal of yours should have small, well defined action steps to help you get there. Think of the skills you need to develop, whether through learning or work experience. Be a reflective learner! Don’t shy away from individually reflecting on your own opportunities for development. By doing so you will allow yourself to independently develop innovative ways of conquering personal barriers if any.

Take Actions!

Your organization can support you by providing guidance, resources, training and development opportunities. But your career is still your career and only you can decide where you want to be in ten or fifteen years down the line and develop a plan to get there. So reflect on your experiences! Are you making use your knowledge and expertise in a winning manner? Are your professional aspirations aligned with your existing experiences? If not then identify ways to meet your goals. Find a mentor; take training or other learning opportunities. Take whatever actions are required to lead to higher job fulfillment and lower stress levels. You can also create an Individual Development plan that is aligned to your organization’s mission. Once you’ve done that, involve your manager in the process by sharing your objectives and goals. Ask for feedback on your skills and talent and get advice on how you can develop them further. You can also set up regular discussions to inform them of your progress.

Realignment of your goals:

Your career path is not a one-way street from which you can never reroute! Instead, plan on regularly looking at the map you’ve created to see if it’s still your best course. Pay close attention to any major life events that might affect your priorities. Similarly, the professional world is also not a fixed entity. Planning a career ten, fifteen years ahead is tricky and can swiftly become obsolete because there are several factors that might affect an individual’s career, like a varying economy or swift technical advancements. While it may appear that crafting a career course would be restraining in the face of alterations and challenges, the contrary is actually true. A well-planned roadmap makes for effortless navigation by laying out the bigger picture.

So know where are headed to, and chances are you’ll eventually get there.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Set your Resume on the Right Path

Entering the professional world is intimidating! You are about to get a taste of the real world and begin job searching. And part of it also means you are about to craft your very first resume!

Panicking, are you? Well…The first resume is always the hardest to write! There’s typically just not much that you can put out there. The real challenge is selling your work experience when you have no experience at all! So how do you do it? And how do you identify your marketable assets and present them in a way that makes you look like an ideal candidate?

Read on for some important rules to ensure your first resume measures up:

It’s never too easy to start from scratch!

Everyone starts out with zero experience! You might flounder and falter at the outset but eventually you’ll come up with a resume that will act as your career launch pad! But before you start penning down your resume, you need to keep some essential principles in mind. Be honest, confident, crisp and clear. Never try to trick, copy paste, over-commit, be verbose or sound unprofessional.

Understand that your resume does not have to narrate the history of your life. It has to simply showcase your capabilities to potential employers, and tell them what value you can deliver.

Start with the layout:

Search for a resume template online that you find most appealing. Avoid anything that is too fancy or complex. Start with your contact details- your address, mobile number and email address. Get yourself a new email address if your current one sounds too personal or unprofessional. Also make sure that you are reachable on all these addresses at all times. Your resume should be in a font that is easy to read, such as Ariel, Times New Roman or Verdana. Capital letters or bold texts for headings are more effective.

Make a combination resume:

Instead of creating a conventional chronological résumé, think of a combination résumé. This format lets you highlight your professional skills by assembling them near the top of your document. For instance, you can have a segment titled “Computer Skills” or one called “Voluntary Experience.” Don’t limit yourself to skills you’ve honed through regular jobs only. The ones you’ve gained through volunteer work, internships or social committees can be just as significant.

A brief and arresting summary:

The true purpose of your résumé is to market you! So you have to package it effectively and merchandise the product to attract the right audience. For the main body of your resume, write a short and crisp profile that best describes your skills and accomplishments and gives employers a “snapshot” of the kind of career you’re aiming for. Start with the details of any formal work experience that you already have, beginning with the latest. Show company names, your job titles and include internships, significant summer jobs, voluntary work or other experiences that might have added to your skills. Use bullets instead of paragraphs as they are easier to read. But add things only which are relevant, don’t make them up to pad your resume. It’s ok to have no work experience at all. In a situation like this, choose activities where you’ve played a pivotal role or have demonstrated growth. Remember- employers prefer quality, not quantity!

Enrich with the right keywords:

In times when companies are using keywords screening software to filter through piles of resumes, if yours doesn’t have the right blend of job-specific keywords, it might stay buried in the digital dungeon or the rejected pile even if you’re totally qualified for the job. So cull out jargons or buzzwords that are unique to the job and industry you are applying for. Pay close attention to words that specify skills, experience, academic qualifications or any unique expertise that the position requires. You can add to your list by visiting industry trend websites.


Mention your educational qualifications at the end. Give the dates, the names of the schools or colleges and the qualifications. Mention your grades where you did exceptionally well or projects that might be significant to any future jobs. Current and probable studies are also worth citing.

The final touches:

Your resume is your ticket to the professional world so it’s absolutely vital to get it right. Apart from proofreading it several times before submitting it, ask a few reliable friends, mentors or family members to re-examine it for errors. Also ask for feedback on the layout and content. After all, most of have them might have written résumés and their advice could actually help you turn yours into a great one.

For a first timer, no one will expect you to have a fully packed resume with loads of impressive experience yet. You will one day, but for the time being, just keep it simple and honest.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Become more Productive at Work

For years, go-getters have tried to crack the productivity code! The idea of getting more done in lesser time is an enticing one. With scores of tasks competing for our attention, how can we not love the idea of getting a handle on the endless to-do list? But keeping it all together” is myth, and most of the stress we feel about our schedules can be traced to some key practices.

Productivity and organizational growth are in a steady relationship, directly proportional to each other. A workplace has to be driven by efficiency and attainment that manifests itself in the form of tangible results for the organization. However, when your to-do list begins to grow, your efficiency often starts to dip. You start having trouble focusing and working to your optimum level. So how do you address this individual concern and overcome this challenge? And how to keep the distractions at bay and increase your productivity level?

Read on for some tips on how to increase your productivity and get your job done faster!


An important factor that determines your efficiency is having the realization that you are slacking off. If you think that taking a 30 minute break after your lunch is your right, then something is definitely wrong! The consciousness that you’re wasting your and your employer’s time is the biggest motivation you can ask for. Knowing your level of efficiency will help you perform better simply because you know how and where you’re wasting time.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Prioritizing your work can take you far when it comes to enhancing your productivity. Make a mental note of all the tasks you need to complete in the day and follow them meticulously till you’re done with them. Employ strategies to manage your time, work pressure and energy. You should know what your goals are and should calculatedly work towards them. This will help you craft a timeframe for finishing your chores. You will also spend the right amount of time in the right areas and not major in the minors.

Avoid Multi-tasking:

That may sound strange in a world where we are taught that multitasking is the answer to improved productivity. But the truth is far from it! You not only lose concentration and interest when you multi-task but often tend to forget things. Try focusing exclusively on one important task at a time and see your productivity skyrocket!

Delegate and Clump up the smaller tasks:

All working individuals have a list of regular tasks to be performed on an everyday basis which can be broken into smaller tasks. It is advisable to pick out and “clump” the related items together. This prevents us from having to jump back and forth to the similar duties which hinder productivity. This is where a solid support system can also come in handy! Are there people around you who can help you and on whom you can easily rely on? They are your resources, so whenever suitable, utilize their time and talents judiciously to execute things more quickly.

Choose the right time:

Almost everybody has that time of the day when they are most efficient and time when they tend to drag. Your prime time is when you are your most productive. For most it’s either the mornings or the evenings. Use this time to take on your most challenging and valuable tasks. You can also create chunks of nonstop, focused time where you can work steadily for 60 to 90 minutes. Aim for this during your prime time and get rid of all distractions. You will be surprised at how stress-free and productive you can get at the same time.

Revitalize yourself:

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most essential meal of the day but most of us often skip it. Start your morning with something wholesome and healthy as an empty stomach can leave you feeling exhausted and less productive. Also with increasing work pressures, most people overlook breaks completely. But taking a suitable lunch break has its positive psychological advantages. It’s the best way to get an instant power boost for the left over day. Employees who take proper lunch breaks regularly end up spending an astonishingly efficient and resourceful second half of their workday.

Know how to balance stress:

People with high productivity levels have exceptional emotional and social wellbeing. They can perceive the bigger picture! They are conscious of their pressure points and can identify moments of stress and respond accordingly. They are resilient and can confidently bounce back from demanding situations. They know where they are headed to and realise the significance of stopping to ensure that they are on the correct path. They know how to recharge!

None of these strategies are impossible! We can all make subtle alterations to the way we think, work and balance stress. So start thinking about what can you do differently, go ahead and do it!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Effective Employment Search Advice

Job Search elicits a wide range of emotions. From elation to irritation, from glee to dissatisfaction, from pleasing surprise to disbelief — the classic job seeker most likely experiences it all. The search itself involves an assortment of hurdles and rewards. But with an optimistic attitude, it can be a wonderful learning experience wherein you can gain invaluable skills, knowledge and a lot of experience.

Finding a job in today’s economy can be tough, but there are opportunities if you know where to look. All you need are the right tools which can enhance your search, widen your networking opportunities and align you to a career that matches your skills.

So here are some tips to kick-start your job search again with some fresh perspective.

Know what you want:

Before you frantically start searching and applying to jobs, it’s great to take a detailed inventory of your interests, skills, experience and goals. Take time to introspect about where you are today and where you’d like to be 5 years down the line. What are your aspirations, strengths and weaknesses? Roles you’ve liked, not liked? By taking out time to define what you want as a job seeker, you can identify your best selling points and skills that you can offer to an employer. You can also define what you want out of a job and can apply for the ones that are better aligned with your overall career goals.

Make a powerful resume:

Remember that the employers know nothing about you except what they can deduce from your resume. So it should demonstrate your intention, clarity of mind and much more. No fluff, no high-flying statements, just the facts – written in an impactful presentation that sells your qualifications, skills, accomplishments and success. Create a resume that is dynamic enough and highlights the values you bring to an organization.

Re-evaluate you strategy:

Maybe you haven’t devoted enough time in a day to search for jobs or complete every job application. There is something that you have definitely not done right! So re-evaluate your present strategy to uncover any limitations or possible areas of improvement and then readjust accordingly. Are you signed up for job alerts to receive the most updated list of opportunities? Are you networking enough or experimenting with social media? There are numerous ways of taking your job search in newer directions if you think your present resources aren’t giving best results. If you’ve been searching for jobs for months and haven’t got responses yet, it’s time to switch gears.

Broaden your search:

Today’s job search can be summed up in one word: hustle. The more you push your limits, the more opportunities will come your way and will put you ahead of the pack. So match pace with the industry trends and know what all new is happening. If you love what you do, this will happen naturally! Spend quality time on researching and exploring new trends in your line of work. Choose something that peaks your interest and become an “expert” in this title. You can then create your own personal brand based on this. Before you know it, you’ll become sought after by people eager to learn what you know, and employers will follow suit.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Surviving a Government Furlough

Tough people last, tough times don’t, right? You’ve lost your government job, but it’s not the end of your world or career! In today’s economy, more governrment employees than ever are suffering job losses from budget cuts, downsizing or agency restructuring by their organizations.

Getting laid off is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to you and can be a huge psychological blow. Sometimes you can see it coming, and sometimes you can’t! Whatever be the situation, it can certainly stir up a lot of negative emotions, mostly towards your employer. But you can’t let these feelings affect your chances of getting another job

Don’t let a furlough throw your life off track! Use these tips to successfully thrive, not just survive after a furlough.

Accept the situation:

Before anything else, be honest about the intensity and force of the emotional fallout and be easy on yourself. You’re likely to experience disbelief, anxiety, a sense of identity loss and dread all at once. All of a sudden your dreams will come to a standstill, along with your financial stability.

Acknowledge that it’s ok to feel these emotions. Don’t be scared to seek counseling or emotional support while you are coping with the loss. The sooner you work through your emotions, the faster you will recover and find yourself back on your feet again.

Reflect and Restore:

Take some time to step back and clear your head. Don’t sit around and mull over it endlessly with your friends, family or colleagues. This can make the condition a lot worse as you feed off one another and create a huge ball of negativity or panic others around you with your anger and vehemence. Neither is conducive for good decision-making or clear thinking. So sort your emotional baggage or else jeopardize dragging it with you on your job search

Organize your finances:

There is nothing faster that burns after a furlough than Cash. So the best thing is to take an inventory of your expenses. Everything comes out of your pocket –  payments and all other expenses. Take a good look at your spending habits and list your expenses into two groups- compulsory and optional.

If you are already without a job then limit your expenditure in the first group. And if you are still employed but foreseeing a furlough, start cutting back in the optional areas. Think of ways to save a few bucks here and there. A general rule of thumb is to set aside enough cash for at least two months for expenses and other emergencies. In case you didn’t get a chance to do so at the time of your termination, you still have alternatives. If you are in the private sector, almost all companies offer a severance package to laid off employees. If need be take some good financial advice from your bank and financial counselor for helping you tide through the layoff or furlough period before you get a new offer.

Create a plan for success:

Ideally, you would want some time to recover from the shock of being furlough, but often the best way to overcome this is by laying down a fresh routine like your old job schedule. Set your alarm, take a shower and get your day started! More essentially, have precise actions for your day, which should include networking, meeting up with ex- colleagues or advancing your professional expertise through formal or informal learning opportunities. Also keep aside an hour or two for your “me” time wherein you can indulge in your favorite leisure activities. Inevitably, your job hunt will take longer than you want. So mentally get ready for the long-haul by integrating a healthy equilibrium: eat right, sleep well, exercise and do everything in moderation. Also start networking aggressively! Be open about your layoff and inform all relevant people that you are presently in the job market. It is not a disgraceful thing; it is merely a reality of businesses failing in good monetary management.

Networking is the number one way people find jobs and it can be done in innumerable ways. Connect with influencers on Twitter or Facebook, join professional groups or volunteer in industries that interest you. The more contacts you have and the more people know that you are searching for work will increase your chances of landing an interview and ultimately a new job.


This is a fantastic time to reassess your federal career, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, chronicle your accomplishments and decide where you want to be eventually. If the government job you just lost wasn’t a stepping stone towards the career you wanted, you now have ample time to mull over the other options.

Oddly, being furlough can prove to be a blessing in disguise! We often stick to jobs we don’t like out of inertia. A furlough drives us “out of the government job nest” into an instinctive job search — which can lead to a better opportunity, a career change, more money and even more happiness!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Finding a job in tough times

We hate to agree but times are tough, especially if you're looking to work for the federal government! Everywhere we turn; it seems that more and more companies are cutting jobs across the board and announcing enormous layoffs at all levels. If you’re happily employed, you’re perhaps relieved it’s not you. But if you are young, well-read and unemployed and have been scouting for a job for long, this seems like the perfect time for a reality check!

Today’s job market is awfully tough! Thousands of jobs have left and are never coming back. Several jobseekers have gone astray and are in a vicious cycle of putting in applications and fine tuning their resumes without any progress. But sometimes this is not enough! When times are tough, you need to readjust your focus and approach towards your job search. To succeed you need to know how the market really operates, foresee employer responses and behaviors and do the right things, in the right order, at the right time!

So here are some tried and tested tips to help you navigate through the madness and come out on the top in today’s rigorous job market:

Let nothing shake your determination:

There can be a lot of negativity around you, depressing economic analysis, diminishing volume of publicized jobs etc. etc. Well, you can either choose to be negatively affected by them or tune out some of this noise and not let it manipulate your own internal ‘voice’. Not suggesting that you overlook reality but you need to tell yourself that it is all transitory. Else all the negativity will impact your confidence and energy levels. So, start with the premise that you will sooner or later find a good position, chart out your plan, get help if required and get started.

Timing matters:

Several people hurry into a job hunt. They put themselves in front of the employers with no answer to the questions like “what are you looking for?”Or what all can you offer?”You throw yourself at opportunities without having the idea of what the employers are actually looking for. You might get an interview but most likely you will trip over the tricky questions about your enthusiasm to find a job as you are highly attuned to the early signs of rejection. So take time at the start of your job search to get your head around the change you’re trying to make. Going to the market prematurely means that you’ll be remembered for ambiguity. It’s always better knowing what’s out there and what employers are looking for while you are exploring to register your strengths. Don’t use genuine job applications as try-outs – interviews are difficult to get, so make each one count!

Get seen, Get heard:

Networking is merely chatting with people to dig out contacts, get insight into organizations or discover hidden opportunities. Keeping your job search an awkward secret merely adds to the time you spend doing it. So get used to talking to people. It can make a hell lot of a difference! Start by telling people what you’re interested in. You might be surprised at how many people you know who can actually help. Indulge in relaxed conversations with them about the work you’d love to do. Tell them areas you want to know more about and the organizations and professionals you wish to talk to. Professional networking sites are also a great platform to grow your base, particularly when connecting with ex- colleagues or classmates. So join professional groups and participate in events to know people in your domain. Work on your social media presence; take part in significant online forums; write articles on your areas of expertise or better start blogging! Do everything to elevate your professional profile. Build relationships with people who can probably campaign for you. You never know, the very next person you speak to could be the one who creates the lead to an incredible job offer!

Don’t limit your search:

Let me break it to you: In a tough job market companies are not waiting around to offer you that dream job! So don’t limit your search by only applying to openings that meet your precise criteria. Instead get innovative and keep an open mind when assessing job descriptions. Jobseekers often worry that they are either less qualified or too quailed for positions they apply for. Be candid with yourself about what you are competent for. Employers want to know what you have to offer them. So give your resume an overhaul and quantify your achievements and highlight what you have done. Demonstrate that you comprehend the industry lingo and sprinkle a few buzzwords into the mix.

Remember, even in tough times, some people are still doing well and so can you! So don’t be scared to show your eagerness for opportunities. Act hungry and show employer your enthusiasm to work! They want to hire people with energy and passion. People who can roll up their sleeves and hit the ground running, bringing instant value to the organization. Be open and passionate about what you’re looking for and what you have to offer in exchange.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Change it up! Tips for a Midlife career switch

Youth comes with a number of advantages, one of them being an enhanced ability to bounce back from adversities with energy and passion. As we grow older, we often settle into secure patterns, and don’t always have the enthusiasm to make bigger changes in our lives. But a career change at this time in our life can be a welcoming choice!

Undoubtedly, a midlife career change is a frightening business, laden with obstacles—an unwilling spouse, financial apprehensions or the fear of failure. But the opportunity to follow your passion and do the kind of work you’d always dreamt of doing could be well worth the effort. It can get taxing, but if planned properly and executed, it can be a gratifying and enriching experience. You might be even amazed at your ability to fine-tune and succeed when presented with newer challenges.
So where do you exactly start? And how do you prepare yourself for the path ahead?

Set below are few tips to help you handle a mid-life career change with enthusiasm and grace.

Take inspiration and stay realistic:

It’s great to take motivation from all those who ‘made it’ later in life and who credit their former experiences in preparing them for the career they ultimately found success in. But before you think of making a similar move, mull over your personal situation from all significant angles critically. Assess your financial condition and other realities you’ll be accountable for. Be certain you’re not seeing a new career through rose tinted glasses; research it extensively, speak to those already in it, and have a genuine zeal for it that’s so absolute, it’s almost real.

Don’t be in a hurry:

Don’t move too quickly! A mid life career change is a huge step, full of career and financial pitfalls. Don’t imagine all you job disappointments to fade away magically. Instead, utilize this time to take stock of what you cherish in life, what you want to leave as a legacy from your life and work, and how you would want to balance out the first phase of your life. You might experience bouts of fear and anxiety but do it anyway! – As long as you have done a thorough self-analysis and the career transition seems like the better option – go for it! There will always be some doubt, but don’t let that paralyze you or stop you from achieving better things in life. Leaving a secure job you have had for a long can be tricky, but don’t throw away the opportunity you have to create a more meaningful life. You might think that the time for challenges and thrilling opportunities are over but it’s always better to give it a shot rather than regret later!

Don’t Short-change your skills:

At some point, it might seem like you need to have a vast assortment of tech-based skills just to match pace with the younger generation. If you see things this way, it’s time for you to change your perspective. Your knowledge is worth more than a lot of certifications and is extremely important. You have made things happen during your career and your knack to drive results makes you exceptionally attractive to organizations that need people with years of experience behind to come in and make significant improvements. These qualities are unparalleled and are hard to come in from the younger generation. So don’t be reluctant to let the world know about the tools in your toolbox!

Test the waters:

As per research, people looking for a midlife career change are more likely to make successful switches experientially rather than analytically. The big exposure comes from diving in and trying new things to see what works. The choices are way too many depending on the field you are in. Sabbaticals, college courses or even short apprenticeships can allow you to step out of your daily practice, get hands-on experience and test-drive a new path before quitting your job.

Reach out to your peers:

One of the toughest parts of handling a midlife career change is the feeling that you have to do it all alone. Switching careers takes guts, and doing it all by yourself can get draining. Fortunately, there are several other professionals who are in the same boat as you. So reach out to them to find opportunities more easily and quickly. Additionally, you can also foster connections that will help you build your new career once it’s off the ground.

Remember guys, it’s never too late! Like many other professionals, if you’ve spent time doing work that doesn’t seem to be your true calling , embrace the exhilaration that comes from forging a new career path. You have amazing skills and talents and you’re finally in a position where you can explore your abilities. So stay positive and gear up for the most satisfying time of your professional life. The possibilities are limitless. Just set aside fear and take the plunge. Because the biggest rewards come from taking the biggest risks!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Does Your Resume Have The Magic Keywords?

In an age where resumes are dime a dozen, making yours stand apart becomes quite critical. Adding the right keywords to your resume is an excellent strategy while you are aggressively looking for a job or just testing the waters for your next probable career move. But what, exactly, are “keywords” and why are they so significant? Keywords are industry- or job-specific terms, jargon or buzzwords. In times when more and more, companies are using search engines to scan resumes, the right keywords have the ability to land your resume at the top of an employer’s pile!
So how exactly do you use keywords and what difference can they make in your resume? Read on to know more.

Job Description- The perfect place to locate the keywords

The job description of the role you are applying for is the ideal place to find keywords. If it says that a candidate needs to have good communication skills, then the keyword “good communication skills” should ideally show up at some place in your resume. It is also recommended that you search for ads of similar jobs of other companies. Every industry has its own jargon, and getting familiar with a broad range of ads help you see keywords that show up again and again in the ads.

Use them effectively

The usage of keywords while writing your resume should be done generously all through but using them near the opening, particularly in your Professional Profile or Summary Section makes more sense. You can utilize these sections to give your keywords a more general context in relation to your complete professional silhouette. While recounting your previous role and experience, focus on skills, job-specific terms, functions and industry terms. Make sure to bring out the types of products and services you dealt with in your earlier work and the particular industry, rather than just the name of the company so that the computer’s search engine can search these terms.

Use the ones that exhibit your worth

The trouble with most resumes is that they come across as biographies. Employers don’t really bother about the story of your life; all they care about is whether hiring you is of any value to them or not. That’s where keywords come in handy. Potential employers want to establish within 30 seconds what value you bring to the table. So, you have to emphasize on the work skill sets that make you eligible for the job that you wish to target.

Refrain from going overboard

As significant as keywords are in helping you get noticed, cluttering your resume with words that don’t exactly replicate your work experience may not work in your favor. Too often, candidates simply spoil their resumes by stuffing in too many keywords. The trick is to weave in the keywords with your accomplishments. Just put enough to help employers find you faster. Remember this equation: Excellent Resume + Keywords = Job Opportunities.

Remember one thing, after your resume is scanned and selected through technology; it goes through a review by the human eye as well. So, you don’t really want to stuff your resume with keywords that do not make sense or efficiently display your qualification for the job. Try and use the keywords in context. The overall presentation and good writing still count in making a perfect first impression.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to Answer “Tell me about yourself” Question!

The “tell me about yourself” job interview question is not only a warm-up question but also a perfect chance to sell yourself as the ideal candidate for the job. Technically, ‘Tell me about yourself’ isn’t even a question. It is an open invitation for you to impress your interviewer and get the job. But most candidates often stutter, stumble and freeze in the moment and articulate just a couple of irrelevant points.

So read on to know our TIPS on how to come prepared for this open-ended classic!

There are multiple ways to approach this question. You can resort to the popular method of preparing “your own 30 sec commercial” or can prepare and practice separate answers for different individuals you might interview with.

Start off with your name

This question sets the panic button on for most candidates who often assume that the interviewer has asked an overloaded question. In actuality, he wants to check how well you can sell yourself and how confident you are. Start with your name and feel free to add a line or two about things you like to do.

Talk about your background

Always back up your introduction with a short narration of your education and experience. Think bullet points and hard facts – do not waste your time on trivial details. Mention your pedigree and also where you see yourself heading in terms of your dreams and aspirations. Don’t be taken aback if the person interviewing you starts taking down notes. It is a positive indication and means that the interviewer is hooked onto your conversation and is listening to you keenly. So exude confidence and remain honest throughout!

Connect it to the Position you are applying for

This is where the catch is. Your aim is to narrate your accomplishments that are related to the position you are applying for and smartly blend them with your background history. You need to convey that you are the person they are looking for!

Turn the table on them

Don’t be scared of asking questions! If you say, I’m originally from Bombay;” back it up with “Have you ever been there before?” If you say “I worked on a marketing project,” back it up with “Does your firm focus on B2C or B2B projects?” These examples might not fit your situation but the point is to engage your interviewer and not just rattle off points. Remember it is a conversation after all!

Don’t Blabber

Less is more! Apply this same rule to this age-old question. If you just sit there blabbering and telling the interviewer the story of your life you’re eventually going to bore him to death. Smile, keep an optimistic and eager tone during your abridged, micro-biography and let the rest of the interview begin.

Remember, your answer should be targeted to the job, not a personal biography—because employers don’t really care where you grew up. What matters to them is how you’ll be a value addition to their company!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is your resume keeping pace with the changing times?

Not long ago, resumes were merely chronological fact sheets and jobseekers had a somewhat strictly defined rule about writing them. But those times are long gone! Not only has the job market changed radically over the last couple of years but the competition has also become rife.

A hiring manager’s first impression of you is most likely your resume. So you would ideally want to package it and hope that this cautiously crafted employment record catches the attention of those with the hiring power. However, capturing this much sought-after attention isn’t always easy! Employers are inundated with multiple resumes and making sure that yours makes the impact you seek requires much more than just a few tweaks.

So why not put in a bit more effort to spice up this humdrum document with a few creative changes:

Try some color:

Add a subtle creativity to your resume by spicing it up with some color. By this we mean not a riot of colors! You can create blocks of the selected color on the sides of your resume to hold additional information, like your references. While some creative options might be too much for a conventional office job, this one is placid enough not to upset, regardless of how old-fashioned your reader might be.

Use the latest fonts:

A “font” is the shape and style of the words on your resume. The more “traditional” fonts are Times New Roman and nothing too fancy. So if your resume is in Times New Roman font like most, change it to Arial. You’ll be surprised at how much cleaner, contemporary and more professional it looks.                                                                               .

Add Infographics:

Infographics or Visual resumes are a growing trend these days. The paper resume certainly isn’t going anywhere, and the visual resume is not designed to substitute the conventional resume. Visual resume is basically a supplement to the conventional paper resume. It’s that ‘something extra’ that can give you a competitive edge over the others! It can represent your experience and information in a visual and creative way that makes it easier for the employers to review at a glance. It can also showcase a distinct flair and determination to your potential employers, something innovative that they might not have seen before. It can bring you and your skills to life!

Modify it frequently:

Do you read the last month’s news to get the recent information? No. Then why should anyone read your obsolete profile to discover what you’re doing right now? Not updating your resume frequently can communicate sluggishness if you’re seriously trying to use your profile to get jobs. Today, it’s very important that you send a distinct resume for every job you are applying for. So take a few moments to tailor your resume for the exact job posting. But remember – when you are updating your resume, do not warble a lot in the additions that you are making to your resume. Keep the information short and concise. If you want the job; spending 20 minutes updating your resume is well worth the time.

Make it exclusive:

Your resume mirrors the progression that you have covered in years as a professional. So if you think it should get the attention it deserves, make it unique! Think of ways through which you can make it stand out in the pile. Consider putting your resume on a DVD or a flash drive or better make an E- Resume. But just be wary of getting too imaginative if the industry you’re applying to doesn’t value too much creativity.

Whatever design or format you choose for your resume, remember to inject individuality while maintaining professionalism! Demonstrate your expertise in a significant way and last but not least, pique the interest of the recipients.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Best (and proper) Way to Resign

Once a new job has been accepted, you need to consider is the timing of your resignation. Since two weeks’ notice is considered the norm, make sure your resignation properly coincides with your start date at the new company.

Try to avoid an extended start date. Even if your new job begins in 10 weeks, don’t give 10 weeks’ notice; wait eight weeks and then give two weeks’ notice. This way, you’ll protect yourself from disaster, in the unlikely event your new company announces a hiring freeze a month before you come on board. By staying at your old job for only two weeks after you’ve announced your resignation, you won’t be subjected to the envy, scorn, or feelings of professional impotence that may result from your new role as a lame-duck employee.

Some companies will make your exit plans for you. I know a candidate whose employer had the security guard escort him out of the building the moment he announced his intention to go to work for a direct competitor. Fortunately, he was still given two weeks’ pay.

Your resignation should be handled in person, preferably on a Friday afternoon. Ask your direct supervisor if you can speak with him privately in his office. When you announce your intention to resign, you should also hand your supervisor a letter which states your last date of employment with the company. Let him know that you’ve enjoyed working with him, but that an opportunity came along that you couldn’t pass up, and that your decision to leave was made carefully, and doesn’t reflect any negative feelings you have toward the company or the staff.

You should also add that your decision is final, and that you would prefer not to be made a counteroffer, since you wouldn’t want your refusal to accept more money to appear as a personal affront. Let your supervisor know that you appreciate all the company’s done for you; and that you’ll do everything in your power to make your departure as smooth and painless as possible.

Finally, ask if there’s anything you can do during the transition period over the next two weeks, such as help train your successor, tie up loose ends, or delegate tasks.

Keep your resignation letter short, simple, and to the point. There’s no need to go into detail about your new job, or what led to your decision to leave. If these issues are important to your old employer, he’ll schedule an exit interview for you, at which time you can hash out your differences ad infinitum. Be sure to provide a photocopy of your resignation letter for your company’s personnel file. This way, the circumstances surrounding your resignation will be well documented for future reference.

Monday, November 4, 2013

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail: Preparation before the Interview is the Key to your Next Job.

As the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". So here is a valuable insight into the world of interview questions and the techniques best used to answer them. There are some questions that are asked frequently in interviews and you should prepare your answers beforehand. The key things to remember when responding to interview questions are to keep your answers relevant, brief and to the point. If you are faced with a difficult question, make sure you stay calm, don't get defensive, and take a moment to think about your response before you answer. Remember, these responses are only suggestions. Try to personalize your response as much as possible.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: Identify some of your main attributes and memorize them. Describe your qualifications, career history and range of skills, emphasizing those skills relevant to the job on offer.
Q: What have your achievements been to date?
A: Select an achievement that is work-related and fairly recent. Identify the skills you used in the achievement and quantify the benefit it had to the company. For example, 'my greatest achievement has been to design and implement a new sales ledger system, bringing it in ahead of time and improving our debtors' position significantly, saving the company $50,000 per month in interest'.
Q: Are you happy with your career to date?
A: This question is really about your self-esteem, confidence and career aspirations. The answer must be 'yes', followed by a brief explanation as to what it is about your career so far that's made you happy. If you have hit a career plateau, or you feel you are moving too slowly, then you must qualify your answer.
Q: What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?
A: The purpose of this question is to find out what your definition of difficult is and whether you can show a logical approach to problem solving. In order to show yourself in a positive light, select a difficult work situation which was not caused by you and which can be quickly explained in a few sentences. Explain how you defined the problem, what the options were, why you selected the one you did and what the outcome was. Always end on a positive note.
Q: What do you like about your present job?
A: This is a straightforward question. All you have to do is make sure that your 'likes' correspond to the skills etc. required in the job on offer. Be enthusiastic; describe your job as interesting and diverse but do not overdo it - after all, you are looking to leave.
Q: What do you dislike about your present job?
A: Be cautious with this answer. Do not be too specific as you may draw attention to weaknesses that will leave you open to further problems. One approach is to choose a characteristic of your present company, such as its size or slow decision-making processes etc. Give your answer with the air of someone who takes problems and frustrations in your stride as part of the job.
Q: What are your strengths?
A: This is one question that you know you are going to get so there is no excuse for being unprepared. Concentrate on discussing your main strengths. List three or four proficiencies e.g. your ability to learn quickly, determination to succeed, positive attitude, your ability to relate to people and achieve a common goal. You may be asked to give examples of the above so be prepared.
Q: What is your greatest weakness?
A: Do not say you have none - this will lead to further problems. You have two options - use a professed weakness such as a lack of experience (not ability) on your part in an area that is not vital for the job. The second option is to describe a personal or professional weakness that could also be considered to be a strength, and the steps you have taken to combat it. An example would be, 'I know my team think I'm too demanding at times - I tend to drive them pretty hard but I'm getting much better at using the carrot and not the stick'.
Q: Why do you want to leave your current employer?
A: State how you are looking for a new challenge, more responsibility, experience and a change of environment. Do not be negative in your reasons for leaving. It is rarely appropriate to cite salary as your primary motivator.
Q: Why have you applied for this particular job?
A: The employer is looking for evidence that the job suits you, fits in with your general aptitudes, coincides with your long-term goals and involves doing things you enjoy. Make sure you have a good understanding of the role and the organization, and describe the attributes of the organization that interest you most.
Other questions to consider:
• How does your job fit in to your department and company?
• What do you enjoy about this industry?
• Give an example of when you have worked under pressure.
• What kinds of people do you like working with?
• Give me an example of when your work was criticized.
• Give me an example of when you have felt anger at work. How did you cope and did you still perform a good job?
• What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with?
• Give me an example of when you have had to face a conflict of interest at work.
• Tell me about the last time you disagreed with your boss.
• Give me an example of when you haven't got on with others.
• Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? Why?
• This organization is very different to your current employer - how do you think you are going to fit in?
• What are you looking for in a company?
• How do you measure your own performance?
• What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?
• Are you a self-starter? Give me examples to demonstrate this?
• What changes in the workplace have caused you difficulty and why?
• How do you feel about working long hours and/or weekends?
• Give me an example of when you have been out of your depth.
• What have you failed to achieve to date?
• What can you bring to this organization?

Friday, November 1, 2013

43 Reasons for Not Getting a Call Back from an Interview

1."Poor communication skills (excessive talking, no projection, hand over mouth when talking, poor poise/diction/grammar, indistinctive speech)"

2.Unable to articulate clear goals or future career direction

3.No match between skills or academic background and position

4.Level of technical competency insufficient for job

5.Lack of general enthusiasm and energy; appears unmotivated

6.Weak interpersonal skills

7.Failure to demonstrate leadership or management potential

8.Inadequate analytical or problem-solving skills

9.No active participation in or contribution to extracurricular activities

10.No pattern or history of top performance or success

11.Narrow interests

12.No relevant work experience part-time or summers

13.Did not prepare for interview; lack of company and/or industry research evident

14.Immature or lacking in self-confidence

15.Arrogant, overly aggressive, or over-confident personality

16.Misrepresentation on resume in regard to education, GPA, experience, or skills

17.Candidate not competitive with applicant pool

18.Poor personal appearance

19.Unrealistic expectations; unwilling to start at the bottom; expects too much too soon

20.Late to interview without good reason

21.Asks no questions or very poor questions

22.Overemphasis on money

23.Lack of tact, courtesy, social understanding, or appropriate manners

24.Condemnation of past employers

25.Marked dislike for school work

26.Lack of vitality; limp handshake

27.Failure to look interviewer in the eye


29.Loafs during summer vacations

30.Unhappy personal life

31.Friction with parents

32.Sloppy application

33.Merely shopping around or wants job for short time only

34.Little sense of humor

35.Parents make decisions for him/her


37.Questionable ethics or low moral standards

38.Intolerant; strong prejudices

39.Poor handling of personal finances

40.Inability to take criticism

41.Lack of appreciation for the value of experience

42.Radical Ideas

43.Never heard of employer