Monthly Archives: July 2008

Follow Your Heart to Find Your Passion

We hear all the time how important it is to listen to your heart when searching for a career path. But when I read, a commencement address that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, gave at a graduation ceremony at Stanford University in 2005, I wondered how often do we actually follow that advice?

Steve’s journey started with a simple calligraphy class he sat in on after dropping out of college. In his search to find what interested him, he found himself mesmerized by this style of writing. What he didn’t know was that this would later influence him when he started designing the first Macintosh computer. It became the first computer with beautiful typography.

In his address, Steve spoke about three specific times in his life that got him to where he is today. The first story was about connecting the dots, the second focused on love and loss, and the third story spoke about death.

These three ideas can help you find your own passion. Here’s how:

Connect the Dots. Examine your past. What are some of the things that have interested you the most? Whether it’s a bio-chemistry class or a calligraphy class like it was for Steve, no interest is too small to help point you into the right career.

Love It and Lose It. Stick to your passion. It doesn’t matter that you may have tried to be successful doing what you love and failed. Try again from another angle. Persistence pays off. Remember the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Find creative ways to interject your passion into your work life, and see what happens.

Live Each Day. If you haven’t discovered your passion, live each day to the fullest by trying new things until you have found your niche. Explore new hobbies or chase your dreams. There is something out there for everyone; it just takes initiative and courage to find out what you love and let it change the way you work and live.

Remember, hardly anyone is born knowing their passion. It takes time and a little soul-searching. So, follow your heart. Dig into your curiosity. You never know where your dreams might lead you!

Broaden Your Job Search. Think Beyond the Internet with These 3 Tips

In the digital age, most people rely on the internet as a primary source to search for a job. Although it’s a great place to start, you don’t have to limit yourself to only searching online job postings. Some companies choose not to post their open positions online. They may prefer to use the local newspaper or word of mouth to find job candidates. So, if you’re looking online for a job and can’t find a position you want, think outside the internet box, and use these three resources to track down job leads.

1. Newspaper classifieds – You may think that posting a job opening in a newspaper is old school, but not all employers post positions online. Some may use the classifieds because they want to limit the opportunity to local job candidates, or they may simply be accustomed to using the newspaper. So don’t forget to check out your local newspaper when you hunt for a job.

2. Staffing agencies – Many offer a wide variety of jobs for different skill levels, qualifications, and industries, and not all of them are just temporary positions. If you’re not sure what type of job you want, or what company to work for, try using a staffing agency. Some provide tests to determine your qualifications and help you find the right fit.

3. Networking – Contact former co-workers, supervisors, or clients and tell them you’re looking for a job. See if they have any open positions or know of any. This can help you land an interview and potentially a job offer when you’re struggling to make a connection with an employer. Because employers value what others have to say about a potential candidate, it’s always good to be on the inside track by having those connections with others.

Sometimes the perfect job isn’t in plain sight, especially if you’re only looking in one place. So, try using these three traditional methods to expand the possibilities of finding the job opening you’ve been hoping for.

Look Your Best to Land the Job. 4 Tips to Dress the Part

The way you present yourself physically creates a lasting first impression to interviewers. You should appear professional so you can show potential employers that you can positively represent their company. Here are a few tips to help you polish your outward appearance for your next job interview and impress prospective employers.

1. Personal hygiene – Don’t roll out of bed and run off to an interview. Make sure you take the time to shower and attend to your personal hygiene. Your hair should be clean, combed, and follow your everyday style, and don’t forget to brush your teeth. The last thing you want to do is knock over the interviewer with bad breath.

2. Facial appearance – Men, trim your facial hair appropriately or shave it all off. A three-day beard just looks unkempt, and interviewers may wonder if you’ll always look shaggy. Women, wear natural-looking makeup, not the glamorous night club look. If you need a touch up, do it before the interview in the restroom. Don’t reapply your lip gloss or buff your nose in the middle of the interview.

3. Limit perfume and cologne – Some people are allergic or highly sensitive to fragrances. So, limit the amount of perfume or cologne you use when meeting new people. Or better yet, don’t wear any at all. You don’t want to distract your potential employer by drawing attention to how you smell instead of your qualifications.

4. Dress to Impress – Plan ahead what you’ll wear, and take time to make sure it is in good condition. Make sure your clothes are clean, tidy, and pressed because wrinkles, stains, and odors aren’t impressive. Shine your shoes if they’re dull, and clean them if they’re dirty. You don’t want to wear anything torn or ragged, because you’ll be sending a non-verbal message to the interviewer that you don’t care.

A lot goes into preparing for an interview: researching the company, practicing answering interview questions, thinking of questions to ask the interviewer. But don’t neglect your appearance. You are the first thing employers will see, so make that first impression positive by looking the part.

4 Tips to Improve your Communication Skills During an Interview

Ever wonder what you sounded like or how you came across in an interview? Do you have a problem with “uhms” and “likes” when you’re trying to get your point across? Although you may know what you’re talking about when you’re explaining your experience and expertise, the person you’re talking to may not understand. If you’re unable to communicate clearly with an interviewer, chances are you aren’t going to impress them. To improve your communication skills for a job interview, try following these four tips below.

1.  Listen. Don’t monopolize the interview with constant chatter. Pay close attention to the interviewer’s pace, and match that style. Remember, you’re there to learn about the company and inform them about what you can offer. If you don’t listen because you’re talking too much, you might just talk yourself right out the door.

2.  Pause. When you’re running out of breath, lost your train of thought, or just need a moment to decide how to answer a tough question, take a moment and pause. This will allow you to gather your thoughts and answer with a well-thought out response.

3.  Rephrase. Don’t be afraid to rephrase the interviewer’s question to make sure you understand what they’re asking. You want to make sure there is no miscommunication, and that you can give the best possible answers to the questions they actually asked.

4.  Refrain. Make sure to stay on task, which is the interview, and refrain from talking about inappropriate topics such as religion, age, race, politics, or sexual orientation. Even if the interviewer makes a comment on a particular topic in passing, don’t add to the conversation or you could find yourself without a job offer. Also, it’s illegal for them to ask and make decisions based on these topics, if you’re asked a question about one of these subjects, simply explain that you’re not comfortable discussing these issues, and move on.

Communication is an essential interviewing skill because it can help you land a job. So, the next time you go on a job interview, remember these tips and feel the confidence of a well-executed interview.

What Would You Do for a 4-Day Work Week?

With high gas prices, employees are struggling to meet the increasing cost of simply getting to and from work. And businesses are paying attention. There are stories of some employers getting creative, using incentives to help employees pay for gas. It’s all over the news how employers in some fields are meeting worker demands by offering a 4-day work week. The idea is to fit a 40-hour week into four 10-hour days so employees have one less day a week to travel to work.

But when it comes to business, a 4-day work week isn’t quite as simple as that. In fact, most places that have gone to a 4-day work week are government or non-profit entities. Some businesses face complications like losing profits and customer service by operating just 4 days a week.

The truth is, every benefit they add costs employers cash they have to make up for somewhere else. When you think about it in those terms, how important is saving money on gas to you in the big picture? Just how valuable is that extra day off each week?

Getting the Most Out of Your Workday: Part 3 of 3: Organize and Prioritize for the Future

Previously, we discussed creating a productive schedule and avoiding disruptions in this 3 part series to get the most out of your workday. Here we’ll discuss organizing and prioritizing your workweek to increase productivity.

Plan ahead.
When you start the workweek or begin the day, sometimes it can be hard to remember what tasks you need to accomplish. Instead of wasting time and productivity by trying to recall which tasks to complete, create a daily or weekly “to do” list. Spare about 15 minutes at the end of your workday to plan out and prioritize your tasks for the future, whether is a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. Also, use this time to tidy up your work area and finish any remaining tasks, like replying to nonessential emails. This allows you to come to work the next day and jump right in.

Find a routine that works best for you, plan ahead, and cut back on distractions and interruptions. By doing so, you’re taking the appropriate steps to a more focused and productive workday, making yourself an invaluable employee to your company.

Do you find it hard to stay on task and consistently meet deadlines? What other tips and tricks have you found helpful to keep your productivity up?

Getting the Most Out of Your Workday: Part 2 of 3: Avoiding Distractions

The first part of this series was on identifying the best routine for optimal productivity. This part of the series discusses how to avoid distractions to get the most out of your workday.

Have what you need nearby.
By constantly getting up to retrieve essential items, you’re wasting valuable time and interrupting momentum built up from productive work. Keeping items within reach will leave you with more time to complete tasks. Storing nutritious snacks and bottled water nearby will prevent you from constant trips to the vending machine and water cooler, where you can get sucked into lengthy discussions by co-workers.

Slip on headphones.
To cut back on background chatter, slide on your headphones and listen to some music. Your train of thought can be easily broken by office noises, such as printers or copiers, or by ongoing co-worker conversations. Music can help drown out the sounds and keep you focused. If you can’t work while music is playing, try slipping the headphones on without music as a “do not disturb” sign to others. Be sure to keep iPod etiquette in mind at the office.

Make time for breaks.
When you’re swamped, taking breaks might sound like the last thing you should do, but breaks keep you fresh and prevent you from burning out after a few hours of work. Time away from your desk can help you re-group your thoughts to focus on the task at hand when it’s deadlines are looming.

Check out the last part of this series in our next post on organizing and prioritizing your workweek to increase productivity.