3 Tips to Finding Your True Strengths in the Workplace

Everyone is born with special talents, skills, and gifts that they exercise throughout their lifetime. Whether it’s personal growth or growth within your job position, there are ways you can improve your skills. In your career, it’s important to find your strengths and build on your skills. Learning new skills and tools help you develop yourself or even help make your job easier. Follow this three-step process to improve yourself in the workplace.

Discover your strengths. You have lots of different skills and abilities that help make you who you are as an employee and as a person. Your strengths will help you stand out at work. But, in order to put your strengths to good use, you have to know what they are. So, take the initiative to find resources that can help you identify your assets and skills. Books like Strengths Finder 2.0 are great for identifying your strengths and learning how you can build on them. Talking to your employer, co-workers, and friends is another great way to get perspective on the things you excel in. Building your skills and strengths is important to your future. So find ways to learn about your today.

Develop your skills. When you’ve figured out what you’re good at, continue to cultivate those skills. But, don’t just stop at the skills you’ve already established. It’s not only important to develop the ones you have, it’s also important to constantly seek new ones. After finding your strengths, identify your weaknesses, and find out how you can improve and overcome them. If you want to develop a particular skill, don’t wait for someone else to lead the way. Instead, look for resources on your own. Want to develop your skills even more? Find ways to use your strengths outside of work like in organizations and at networking events or association meetings. And, don’t forget volunteer opportunities in non-profit organizations. Developing your strengths at work and in your community can improve your resume and impress your boss.

Put your strengths to good use. Building your skills and strengths is important to your future. Once you’ve identified your greatest strengths, find how you can use them. What role do you play in the group – facilitator or follower? Do you enjoy tackling problems? Once you know what your skills are, start utilizing them throughout the day. Ask your employer for projects you can tackle or for leadership opportunities in the work place. Participating in team building activities can help you develop your talents. Using your strengths during meetings and on projects will help you reach your potential. The more you use your skills, the more expertise you’ll have.

There are many things you can do to develop your skills and grow your strengths. For example, setting a goal to read a business book each month is a great start. You will be amazed at how successful you can be when you have a lot of knowledge, not to mention how helpful you will be to your business, company, and your boss. Staying in tune to what’s going on in your field is also a great way to get new ideas so be sure to stay up-to-date updated on industry news online. Check out blogs and newsletters, and focus on things you’re interested in. In addition, be sure to attend webinars and conferences where you can learn effective tools you can use at work.

Discovering skills and strengths will not only make you better at your executing tasks, but it’s also a fun and exciting way to figure out things you didn’t know about yoursel!

6 Important Steps to Resigning

Are you preparing to leave your current job for a new one? Resigning from a job can be a very difficult thing to do. So, before you quit your job, think thoroughly about the reasons for leaving. And, if you’re still ready to move on, resign from your job the right way.

Leave for the right reasons. There are many motives for leaving a job. Employees quit for reasons like new opportunities, higher salary, or relocation. The last thing you want to do is leave a job for the wrong reasons because you could end up regretting your decision. If you’re leaving a job for an issue such as a misunderstanding or conflict with a co-worker, try to resolve the issue first. Whatever the motive, make sure your decision is the right one for you before you break the news to your boss.

Inform your employer first. Once you’ve made the decision to leave and found the right job, you may be tempted to confide in your co-workers. But, be careful because you don’t want your employer finding out through the rumor-mill. So, tell your boss first. In addition to talking with your employer, be sure to hand-deliver a resignation letter at the time of your resignation. Writing a resignation letter is not only a professional way to explain your resignation, but it’s also good for documentation purposes.

In your letter, be professional and avoid any malicious statements that could be taken negatively. You don’t want to burn any bridges between you and your employer. Remember to start your letter by stating your reason for leaving, but be careful with how you present your reasons. You don’t need to go into detail about what went wrong. Instead, simply state that you’re leaving for a great opportunity or for career advancement. Be sure to give a specific end date of work and thank the employer and company for the opportunities you have had to work for them in your letter.

Give sufficient notice. No matter what, you want to leave your job on a good note, because you’ve worked hard to develop professional relationships with your boss and co-workers and you never know when you’ll need a reference. Consult your employee handbook to see what the company’s notice requirements or procedures are before leaving a position. You want to give time for projects to be completed or re-assigned. This also allows the company time to look for and hire a replacement. The traditional amount of notice individuals give is two weeks, but the more responsibility you have at that company the more advanced notice you may be required to give in order to have a smooth transition.

Wrap up your projects. Start working toward getting all of your projects wrapped up and completed before you leave. Also, be sure to clean up your e-mail inbox and gather all files and projects so you can hand them over to your boss or the person taking them over. Be sure to stay active while you’re still working for the company. Make sure your boss and coworkers have the materials they need to train your replacement. It is natural to feel a sense of withdrawal, but it’s important to stay focused on work until the end. Leaving a job on a good note will help you maintain key networks later, So don’t leave on bad terms by slacking off during your last week of work.

Enquire about your benefits. Be sure to talk to your HR department or your boss about employee benefits like health insurance to find out when they expire, or if life insurance policies and retirement benefits will transfer with you.

Be ready for an exit interview. Many companies use this opportunity to know the real reason why you’re leaving. The interview will usually be conducted by a HR person to gather information about improving working conditions and how to retain employees. Be aware that you may be asked to complete a questionnaire.  Be honest during your interview, but remain professional and positive.

Feeling a little guilty is natural when resigning from a job. But, for the most part, your co-workers and employer should be happy for you if you handle your resignation properly. Don’t create the impression that you are spiteful. Before hurrying out the door, try to resolve any conflicts that may have led to your decision. There is no point leaving on bad terms and you’ll want to avoid any problems in the future, especially for referencing purposes. The most important thing to remember as you are going through your resignation process is that you leave on a good note.

7 Tricky Job Interview Questions and Ways to Respond

It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about an interview. You are meeting someone you don’t know well and you have a very short period of time to make a standout first impression. And, then they stump you with questions you’re not sure you know how to respond to. Many people misinterpret questions asked by employers, so they either say something they shouldn’t or they don’t know the appropriate way to respond. Once you know what to expect, you will likely perform better. To help you, here are some frequently asked questions and how you can answer them correctly.

What are your strengths? This question gives you the opportunity to talk about your attributes. This is a good time to showcase how your skills correlate to the key job description. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a bank teller, telling the employer that you’re excellent at baking bread is probably not the best answer to give considering it’s not the skill they’re looking for. Always tie in your strengths and be sure you explain how your skills and strengths correlate to the job.

What are your weaknesses? This is a common question, but can be very tricky. Be careful how you phrase your answer. Employers know that you have weaknesses – we all do. So, don’t tell them that you don’t have any weaknesses. First, be straightforward and honest about your weaknesses, but be sure to positively phrase your weaknesses as challenges you have overcome or are currently working to overcome. For example, instead of saying, “My weakness is that I’m highly disorganized and I have trouble with task management.” You say something more like, “Being organized wasn’t always my strongest point but I have taken time to implement and incorporate a daily and weekly time management system that has allowed me to better handle more projects and consistently complete them on time.”

The key to answering this question is to show the employer that you’re taking steps to better yourself and are constantly working on turning your weaknesses into strengths.

Why are you seeking new employment? Be careful of how you answer this question. The last thing you want to do is bash a former employer. Telling an interviewer about the bad bosses you have had and how miserable they made your life will not get you anywhere in an interview. Instead, say something like, “I learned a lot from my previous job, but I am ready for new opportunities and to continue growing my skill set.”

Tell us about your work gap: If you have a work gap, an employer may be curious to know why and may ask what you did during that period. This is a great time to talk about opportunities where you’ve worked on growing your skills or discovering new talents. This shows the employer that even though you were out of a job, you still took the time to keep your skills current.

If you’re currently unemployed and have a work gap, seek out opportunities to use your skills in volunteer organizations. This still allows you to do work that interests you that you could also put in a portfolio.

What is a difficult situation you’ve faced in the past and how have you handled it? This interview question will help an interviewer discover how you handled and overcame certain situations in the past. For this question, don’t go into extreme detail about the situation, but tell how you implemented solutions to solve the problem. Give concrete examples. Before your interview, refresh your memory on how you have tackled difficult situations.

What are your salary requirements? It is best not to bring up salary negotiations in the first interview unless you interviewer mentions it first. Be sure to do your homework prior to the interview to know a salary range for the job. To help with your research, check out salary.com. But remember, don’t discuss salary until the employer mentions it.

Why should we hire you? Talk about your skills and how you can be an asset to the company. Remember to tie your strengths into the job description. Also talk about how your skills can benefit the company. Impress them with what you can do for them. Give examples and highlight why your skills qualify or make you the best candidate for the job.

At first glance, some questions may seem difficult for you to answer, but they don’t have to be that way. Use the above tips to learn how you can effectively answer some frequently asked interview questions and shine during your next interview.

8 Tips to a Job Interview over Lunch or Dinner

At some point in your job search or career, you may be invited to a job interview over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. While meal times are usually relaxing and entertaining, business-related dining for a job interview is more professional and employers use the opportunity to test an applicant’s social skills. If you’re nervous about attending a job interview over lunch or dinner, don’t panic. Use these tips to help improve your dining etiquette and get the job.

Arrive early. Many lunch interviews will take place during office hours, so interviewers may be pressed for time to get back to the office. Be respectful of their time and show up when expected.

Dress appropriately. Even though you might be in a casual restaurant, be sure to dress appropriately for the interview. For instance, you might wear a suit if you’re applying for a more professional job or a nice pair of slacks if it’s an industrial job. Depending on what kind of job you’re applying for, make sure you find out what is appropriate for that specific field.

Turn off cell phone. You’re making a first impression from the minute you step into the restaurant. Stay focused on why you’re there. To avoid possible distractions while dining, it’s best to leave your cell phone in the car during an interview. If you’re expecting an emergency phone call, be cautious and let your host know in advance. If you must take your phone with you, put it on silent.

Make conversation. Prior to your interview, gather as much information as you can and talk with the interviewer about what you know about their company and their job. It’s easy to get nervous during an interview, but don’t let that prevent you from being conversational. Chat with your interviewer as you’re ordering your food.

Use good manners. Be sure to sit up straight and engage yourself with your surroundings. Don’t slouch on the table. Since it’s an interview, you’re going to get a lot of questions so avoid talking with a mouth full of food. Also, avoid ordering food like spaghetti or lobster so you don’t make a mess, and remember to keep your elbows off the table.

Follow the interviewers lead. Mirror the body language of your host. If they lean forward, do so too. Also, follow their lead when ordering your food. Stay within the price range of your host, but if your host asks you to go ahead and order first, pick something that isn’t too expensive. Also, be sure to make your food choice quickly. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to decide what you want to order. Remember the reason you’re there is to interview, not to hang out with friends.

Be polite. Don’t be rude to a server or restaurant staff because it will reflect badly on you. Don’t forget your host is watchful of your behavior so be sure to say please and thank you when necessary.

Send a follow-up thank-you note.
In a situation where you and other candidates may possess equal qualifications for a job, a thank-you note can be used as a tie breaker. So, after your lunch or dinner, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note.

Most interviews conducted during a breakfast, lunch, or dinner setting are a little different than being in the interviewer’s office. These interviews can reveal your social skills and how you act in situations other than the business environment. Remember that confidence goes a long way in every interview so be sure to smile and maintain eye contact when necessary. Relax, enjoy the food and company, and show potential employers that you’re the perfect match for the position you’re interviewing for.

Making the Switch – 5 Tips for Changing Careers

Maybe you’re bored with your current job or you have just started to lose interest in it. Perhaps you’re looking for a job where you can make a difference in someone’s life or you want a job that allows you a more flexible schedule. It’s very common for people to want to change careers or industries at some point in their lives. But, changing careers can be nerve-racking. To help relieve anxiety and frustration, follow these tips to make your career change a smooth transition.

Evaluate your current situation: What’s your reason for wanting to switch careers? Are you looking for a more challenging job? Or, are you just looking to get a better paycheck? Whatever your reasoning, before making a change, be aware of what is at stake and what you have to gain from a career move. Determine if your reasons for leaving could easily be solved. If you’re bored, talk with your boss to see if you can take on some more interesting projects. If you don’t think there’s growth opportunity at your current job, ask about career pathing to make sure you know your options. Then, if you’re still ready to move on, research the industry. If the benefits outweigh the negatives, it may be a good time to move on.

Researching new careers: Researching careers is a very crucial part of deciding to change careers because it will help you understand the ins and outs of your chosen field, and also help you realize what you’re getting into. Before making this important decision, find out everything you can about your desired career move. Things to find out include; salary range information, job opportunities in your area, and working conditions. If you don’t want to relocate, you want to make sure your area has growth opportunity for the industry you’re interested in. You can also check the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook for more career information. Doing research ahead of time will prepare you for what to expect and help prevent any unwanted surprises after you enter your new industry.

Get the training you need: Be aware that a career change may require you to get additional training. The training may require just taking a few classes by getting a brand new degree. It’s important to always seek new ways to grow your knowledge and skill set when it comes to today’s job market. This will make you more competitive, as well as an overall better employee.

Network with industry leaders: The people you network with may be able to give you job offers or advice. Find out about the networking organizations and associations relating to your industry and get involved. Seek out individuals who are experts in the field you want to go into. And, talking with people in your field of interest could help you decide if it is something you’re really interested in.

Find a mentor: Mentoring is important for most professions, but it’s especially important when you are new to a profession. A mentor will serve as a guide and will offer you the direction and coaching you need when first starting out. You can shadow them to learn the ropes of your new job or just gain insight into what you want to do in a career. A mentor can be a great resource of information for any questions you might have. Find someone who has experience in the field you are looking to enter. It can be anyone from a boss to a co-worker to a former professor.

Changing careers can help you to learn new things and expand your skills. But it’s also a big decision and one that can be scary. It is important to take your time to carefully think about your choices and what you want to do. The extra time and research will help you to find the job you really enjoy.

5 Free Investments for New Job Seekers

You can start investing today in your future by making use of free resources that will help you in your professional career. As a recent graduate or a new job seeker, it may seem difficult to find the right job. No matter what field or industry you’re in, you can make use of some of the following tips to set you apart from the competition, and increase your chances in finding a job. These tips will also help you tackle any challenges in your career.
Read career blogs:
Career blogs are becoming more and more popular as time goes on. Job experts are now using them as a way to share information and offer advice on various topics from how to ask for a job reference to top questions to ask during a job interview. They are also great because they’re free and easily accessible and thus some employers might expect you to be well prepared for an interview because of the plethora of information that is readily available to prepare you for the interview. Use the information to gain insight and quick tips on everything about careers. Learning never gets old, so take advantage of this opportunity. These blogs can help you be better prepared for what employers are looking for in a job candidate.

See a career counselor or visit a local staffing agency: Career counseling is available on many college campuses and is a very helpful resource in choosing the right career path. Talk to a college counselor to gain more insight about your skills, learn what your interests are, and discover what career path is best for you. Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you can ever make, so it’s important to get all the advice you can before making your decision. For those who may not have access to career counselors, staffing agencies are another great resource to help you find job openings in your area of interest. So, check with your local staffing agency to find out how they can be of service to you.

Ask questions: Asking questions is very important because it helps you gain insight into your potential job path and clear up any confusion or concern you may have. Educate yourself on choices before you make them by talking to people who have experience in the field you’re interested in. Also, find out if you can job shadow someone in the field that you’re curious about. This will give you a clear vision of their job and its daily functions.

Go to a job fair: Job fairs are great opportunities for you to meet with various employers in one place and in a small amount of time. For businesses, this gives them the opportunity to perform initial screening and recruit for entry level jobs. In order to make the most of a job fair, it’s good to research what companies will be attending the fair in order to make a list of your top choices so that you can meet with them first. Researching companies ahead of time or before attending a job fair would give the recruiter the impression that you have an interest in their company and that you are responsible enough to do your homework. Know what the companies do and be able to speak about them in addition to telling them about you.

Make sure you prepare a list of questions you want to ask. For example, ask the recruiter questions about the company’s culture and values. Also prepare to answer questions from the recruiter. Some questions you may be asked are questions like, “What are your goals?” or “Why do you want to work for our company?”

Making a good first impression is the most important thing to remember when attending a job fair because right from the get-go you’re being analyzed and screened. Job fairs are a great opportunity for you to market yourself and show what sets you apart from everyone else. So, be sure to dress appropriately, wear what you would for a job interview because essentially, that’s what you’re doing even if it’s not in a traditional location. Avoid carrying too many things so you can move around freely, and carry a portfolio with plenty of résumés so you can hand them out to the companies you’re interested in. Lastly, remember why you’re attending the job fair. Don’t get distracted by all the freebies some companies provide during job fairs, be professional. Smile and give a firm handshake.

Start a blog: People are now using blogs as a tool to market themselves. Blogging allows you to share information about yourself and your interests. As social media continues to grow, this is a good avenue for employers to familiarize themselves with your interests. Starting a blog will help you establish yourself as a subject-matter expert and develop online persona. Remember some industries may be less interested in blogging and social media than others, so be sure to take note of other tips that are more applicable to your field. If you decide that starting a blog is a great tool for your career, be careful what you put on it. Remember your blog reflects on who you are. So, be professional and avoid anything that may give a bad impression about you. 

Whether you’re a student, recent graduate, or just new to your career field, make use of the above tips to either boost your chances of getting a job or to learn important elements to succeed in the business world. Stay in touch with what is happening around you. You owe it to yourself and your career.

How to Show Confidence in a Job Interview

Interviews can be nerve wracking. They can make your heart race and your palms sweat. But, it’s important not to let your nerves get the best of you. When interviewing, employers are seeking those who exude confidence and are able to present themselves as professionals. Confidence is a belief in yourself and your abilities. So, here are few tips to help give you some extra confidence before your next job interview.

Be prepared: Before every interview, take time to prepare. Visit the company’s website and get a good overview about the company and its philosophy. Also, if you can, find out general information about the person interviewing you. You don’t necessarily have to know everything about the individual, but definitely know their job title and how to pronounce their name correctly to help ensure you create a good first impression. Be sure to know the details about the job you’re applying for and be able to speak about it. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be. So make sure you do your homework and know about the employer researching the company.

Arrive early: Being late to an interview can make you feel flustered and stressed – not a great start for exuding confidence. So, be sure you arrive early to your interview to give yourself plenty of time to locate your interview location and familiarize yourself with the environment. And if you’re early to your interview, you’ll also have time to review your talking points and calm your nerves.

Know how to answer common questions: Be prepared to answer questions an interviewer is likely to ask. Go over common interview questions until you can answer them flawlessly. Ask a friend to pretend they are your interviewer and practice answering those questions in various ways. By practicing common interview questions, you’ll be better prepared for whatever questions come your way. Knowing that you have practiced in advance and that you have good answers prepared will definitely boost your confidence. Also, most interviewers like it when you can give them examples of past situations that can give them insight into your work ethic and professional demeanor. So, give examples of scenarios in your career or life when trying to explain a point. For example, if the interviewer wants to know about your strengths, give them an example of when your strengths enabled you to excel in a task.

Ask questions: This is where a lot of interviewees choke. Expect that an interviewer will ask you if you have any questions for them. Instead of replying no, prepare some questions you want to ask. This shows you’ve put some thought into your interview and you think it’s important. It will also show a potential employer your confidence and that you’re not afraid to ask questions. 

Dress appropriately: You can boost your attitude and self-confidence just by the way you dress. When you’re dressed well, you feel good about yourself. If you’re applying for a professional job, consider wearing a suit. If you’re applying for a construction job, a nice pair of slacks and a polo shirt might be more appropriate. In order to make a great first impression, choose professional attire which includes button down shirts, conservative shoes, and solid suits.

Be aware of nonverbal cues: Maintaining eye contact is probably one of the most important nonverbal cues you can have in life and definitely in an interview. This shows the interviewer that you are interested and paying attention to what they’re saying. It shows you’re engaged in the conversation. Be sure you look at them when giving your answers. But, you don’t want to stare them down. It’s OK to break eye contact and look around. Also, before you allow shyness to overwhelm you, sit up straight. Good posture communicates that you’re alert and excited about the opportunity. Slouching sends the impression that you’re bored and don’t care. Finally, mirror the nonverbal cues of your interviewer. Lean forward or sit back when they do to demonstrate that you’re engaged in the conversation.

Be confident even in your weaknesses: Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Letting the interviewer know your strengths will definitely show what you are capable of. But, it’s also ok to mention your weaknesses. Actually, interviewers prefer to know that you have some and that you are aware of them. After all, nobody is perfect. But, be prepared to talk about how you are trying to work for them. By telling the interviewer how you’re working to improve on those weaknesses, you will show your willingness to be better and how you’re trying to turn your weaknesses to strengths.

Confidence can easily set you apart from others applying for the same job, so be sure to be eloquent, clear, and concise when speaking. Follow these tips to help make your next interview a success.