Tag Archives: competition

The Results Are In: How Do You Beat the Career Competition?

statistics 3When it comes to finding work, you’re most likely not the only one trying to land the job you have your eyes on. In fact, the career competition can be pretty tough. Since there are many ways you can set yourself apart from other job seekers, we recently asked what steps you take to beat the competition.

The Results
The overwhelming majority of respondents (35%) selected the option “research the company,” followed by 17% who chose “follow-up after interview.” Another 15% of readers “keep an updated resume,” 14% “possess a strong set of references,” and 14% “rehearse interview scenarios.”

An additional 8% of respondents selected the “Other” option and provided the following answers:

  • Eye contact during the interview
  • Project a sense of teamwork
  • Maintain active communication
  • Target the cover letter
  • Build comradery and show interest
  • Talk about how you will add to their return on investment

Adjust Your Game Plan
If you’re one of the 35% of job seekers who research the company before an interview, that’s great. But, what about that other 14% who rehearse interview scenarios? They may be one step ahead of you, and it could cost you the job. Consider taking additional steps, like sending a thank-you note or updating your resume, to ensure you’re doing all you can to stay ahead of the career competition.

What other ways do you beat the competition? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Is It Possible to Be Too Competitive?

touchdown_career_moves_webA little friendly competition in the workplace can lead to positive results. But, what happens when it goes too far? Is it really possible to be too competitive? The simple answer: yes. When competitiveness gets out of hand, the results can be detrimental for any workplace, including a drop in morale, an increase in stress, and a rift in relationships. If you think your competitiveness may be crossing the line, take a look at the tips below.

Don’t compare yourself to others
In reality, there’s always going to be someone better than you. It doesn’t matter what you do, there’s likely someone who can do it better, faster, or more efficiently. While striving to be the best at your job is healthy and can help you reach your goals, be careful when it comes to comparing yourself to others. Steve Lowell, manager of Voice123.com, a marketplace for voiceover talent, says, “Success should be measured in the form of self-defined goals.” Instead of focusing on what your co-workers may or may not be accomplishing, set goals for yourself that help you stand out in a healthy way.

Work together
Working as a team can help you keep your competitive nature in check. In fact, according to Marilee Sprenger, author of The Leadership Brain for Dummies, “Working together and helping each other releases brain chemicals that enhance motivation, pleasure, and bonding.” Instead of pitting yourself against a co-worker, try to find ways you can work together. This allows you to use your strengths and determination to reach a common goal, and includes others in your mission.

Build your confidence
Do you overexert your competitive spirit as a result of feeling inferior in some way? For example, if you aren’t confident with your ability to sell a product, do you find yourself pushing yourself past your limits to outdo a co-worker’s sales quota—all the while making yourself sick with stress? Instead, take time to build up your confidence. Consider learning a new skill, taking a class, or earning a certification in an area you wish to improve. When you grow your strengths, you’re likely to focus less on your weaknesses and avoid invoking unhealthy competition.

Don’t bring others down
It’s easy to want to be the best. And, if you do happen to outperform a competitor, it’s a natural instinct to feel a sense of pride. But, be careful not to let that pride get the best of you. React positively to your accomplishments—and your failures—so you can lift up those around you. If a co-worker is trying to accomplish their goals, whether it’s to obtain a professional certification, land a promotion, or increase sales, encourage them. It may be difficult to put your pride aside and wish them luck, but rooting against your colleagues can seriously damage your work environment.

Not everyone likes competition
Everyone is different. Some people thrive off of stress and work well under pressure, while others prefer a calm work environment to perform at their best level. Recent research found that while 50% of workers benefit from competition, another 25% actually shut down in a competitive environment. That means that one in four people don’t perform well when faced with competition. Given that, it is possible that being too competitive in the workplace can hurt not only yourself, but your co-workers as well.

Remember, not all competition is productive. While trying to make the most sales calls can lead to an increase in productivity, attempting to be the first to a meeting or visiting the coffee pot the most times in a day likely will not lead to positive results. Besty Winkler, from PeopleResults, suggests, “Focus on what drives business results, not all of the activities underway.”

How do you keep your competitive nature in check? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

How to Beat the Interview Competition

12-28 Competition2Landing an interview is a big step in your job search. With all the hard work you’ve put into looking for a job, it’s natural to feel anxious about an upcoming interview. One thing you shouldn’t worry about, however, is your competition. Not only is it distracting, it’s not beneficial. To beat the interview competition, the only thing you should concentrate on is doing your best and being as prepared as possible.

Dress the part
No matter the job, you want to do your best to look professional. Does that always mean a suit and tie? Some people would say yes, while others would say no. The key is to know the company and what they would expect. If you’re unsure, just call the recruiter ahead of the interview. They’ll be able to tell you what’s expected. For more tips on what to wear to an interview, check out this Movin’ On Up article.

Fit the job description
Several days before the interview, take time to thoroughly review the job description. Find key points that line up with your strengths and be sure to focus on them in the interview.

Practice, practice, practice
Grab a friend or family member, or even videotape yourself going over possible interview questions. This helps you work out the kinks in what you might say and gives you confidence to answer correctly. You don’t want to sound too rehearsed, but organizing your thoughts ahead of time is never a bad idea.

Prepare examples
Most interviewers will ask candidates behavioral questions like, “What would you do if…” and “Tell me about a time when…” By having examples ready for these kinds of questions, you show that you’ve put in work ahead of time and you’re less likely to draw a blank in the middle of the conversation. For more tips on how to prepare your responses to interview questions, check out these Movin’ On Up articles:

Don’t think about the competition
Remember, you have zero control over what the competition says or does in their interview. You can only control your own, and you don’t need the additional stress of worrying about how they’ll perform. Focus on being the best candidate you can be and what unique skill sets you bring to the table.

Send a thank you
Stand out from the competition by taking the time to write a thank you note after your interview. Not everyone will do this, and it’s a great way to demonstrate your desire to work for the company and your professionalism. If you need some guidance on writing one, follow this how-to article on Movin’ On Up.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Competition and Productivity: A Balancing Act

Best and Worst Jobs 2013When you think about competition, your first thoughts probably drift to sports arenas and the like. Yet, competition also lives in the workplace. And, while competition can breed productivity, it’s important to know how to balance the two to create the best workplace environment for your company and your career.

Competition Can Increase Productivity
The relationship between competition and productivity has been studied by numerous scholars, and most agree that competition can be beneficial in producing a higher level of productivity and efficiency.

Healthy competition among your co-workers is a natural way of pushing each other toward team goals. When members of a team are competitive in an appropriate way, there’s more focus, drive, and determination to provide quality work.

Along the same lines, competition in the workplace drives efficiency. As this happens, goals are met more quickly, things get done, and the company can see profitable benefits.

Finding the Balance
For competition to create productivity in the workplace, it has to remain healthy. When co-workers become overly competitive, stress levels go up, trust declines, and the overall team can deteriorate. It’s important to find the balance between being competitive enough to drive productivity and being so competitive that you drive away anything beneficial.

Here are a few ways to help you find that balance:

  • Learn from mistakes – You will inevitably make a mistake, but when you do, figure out how to learn from it. Sometimes when competing, you may let your competitive drive overshadow the bigger picture, allowing a mistake to happen. If and when you do make an error, take time before you react. Give yourself a breather, relax, and regroup.
  • Focus on relationships – When competition becomes unhealthy, it could be due to poor relationships. You won’t always get along with everyone you work with, but you have to learn to work well with others and grow relationships with those who can help you put your energy into generating productive outcomes.
  • Be a classy competitor – Unlike the sports world, you have to continue to work with and around those you’re competing against on a daily basis. Avoid putting others down and focus on your long-term growth at that company. Let your work be proof of your determination and skill, and if anyone tries to create an unhealthy environment for competition, maintain your integrity. The reputation you build as a classy competitor will speak volumes to your employer.

Do you have any tips for balancing competition with productivity? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Important Career Lessons From This Year’s Super Bowl Teams

Super_Bowl_2016_webEvery year, the best of the best in the NFL gather to put it all on the line for the chance to earn the title “Super Bowl Champion.” While most of us will never have the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl, there are still plenty of important lessons we can learn from the teams who are gearing up to compete this Sunday. In fact, studying the players and coaches from both teams may just help you in your job search and career. To see how, take a look at these important career lessons from this year’s Super Bowl contenders.

Peyton Manning’s lesson on longevity.
On Sunday, Peyton Manning will become the oldest quarterback to start the Super Bowl. Manning began his career with the Indianapolis Colts in 1998, and is still playing nearly 20 years later. For an athlete, that’s an astounding feat. His longevity and perseverance are characteristics that make Manning an ideal employee. If you’re looking for a job, highlight any previous jobs you’ve held for a long period of time to showcase your dedication to your employers. If you’re currently in the workforce, consider Manning’s example of perseverance and remember that loyalty is a trait employers love.

The Panther’s lesson on competition.
The Carolina Panthers have never won a Super Bowl. While that may change this weekend, it remains a driving force that pushes them to excel. There’s no doubt they want to win, just like you want to land that interview or get hired. Last season, the Panthers finished the year with a losing record and now they’re playing for a championship. Take a lesson from the Panthers and polish up all aspects of your job search from your resume to your interview wardrobe. Spend a few moments updating your references and practicing popular interview questions so you’re prepared to take home the job search trophy when your opportunity comes.

Quarterbacks’ lesson on generational relationships.
When Peyton Manning and Cam Newton start the Super Bowl, they will have the largest age gap (13 years) between two quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. While 13 years isn’t a big difference in the workplace, its impact on the football game can teach us a thing or two about how different generations operate. Refresh Leadership, a blog for business leaders from Express Employment Professionals, recently profiled the five generations that exist in the workforce. Since knowing how to engage with all generations will set you apart from the competition, study the habits and preferences of generations other than your own.

The Bronco’s lesson on never giving up.
This Super Bowl marks the eighth appearance for the Denver Broncos. Of those trips to the championship game, the team has lost five times–the most of any NFL team. Despite their losses, the Broncos have not given up. Like the Broncos, you will face competition in your job search. And unfortunately, you may also face defeat. If you land an interview and do your best to prove you’re the right candidate for the job, but you don’t get hired, it’s easy to give up. But, you have to keep trying. When you’re faced with a stressful job search, remember to get back in the game and try again. Your next win may be just around the corner.

Ron Rivera’s lesson on mentorship.
The Panthers coach has been both a player and a leader in the NFL, and he didn’t get there alone. In fact, Rivera has been counseled by one of the game’s greatest coaches, NFL Hall of Fame member John Madden. According to Rivera, Madden’s mentorship style includes celebrating wins and being honest with his advice. If one of the league’s greatest coaches can benefit from a mentor, maybe you can too. In today’s digital age, mentoring is easier than ever before. And the benefits of building positive mentoring relationships can help with both your career and your personal goals.

Gary Kubiak’s lesson on improving your skills.
You may get knocked down in your job search or career, but it’s important to get back up and keep trying. Sometimes, you may even need to take a break and reassess your path. That’s what happened to Gary Kubiak, who took a year to reevaluate his strategy after it wasn’t leading to wins. To better his job performance, Kubiak recently completed an apprenticeship under John Harbaugh, a Super Bowl-winning coach. Apprenticeships and internships are great ways for you to gain hands-on experience in the field of your choice, improve your skills, and make important networking connections. Going back to school can also improve your chances of landing a job.

Peyton Manning’s lesson on teamwork.
There’s no doubt quarterbacks are natural leaders of their teams. But, it definitely takes the entire team to win a championship. In a recent interview, Peyton Manning highlighted the importance of teamwork when he said, “I haven’t led the team to the Super Bowl. Our defense has. I’m part of it.” Like Manning, recognizing your team’s input and efforts can help you win big on projects and goals. Even if you feel like you led your team to a win, it’s important to appreciate each contribution they made.

Michael Oher’s lesson on discipline.
If you watched The Blindside, you probably remember Michael Oher. He was the football player who grew up with a rough childhood before being adopted by a family whose past was unlike his. Oher attended 11 different schools during the first nine years of his education, moved from foster home to foster home, and had to repeat several grades. Now, he’s set to play in his second Super Bowl after winning a championship in 2013 when he was with the Baltimore Ravens. Oher’s determination to rise above his circumstances is a reminder of the importance of self-discipline and goal-setting. Like Oher, you too can overcome your obstacles. If you lack the skills you need for the job, learn them. If you lack experience, gain it. You have to remember not to give up.

What other lessons can we learn from this year’s Super Bowl teams? Let us know in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

What Does Your Job Search Competition Look Like?

12-28 Competition2When it comes to your job search, competition is inevitable. Job seekers are in a fierce battle for quality positions, and you may wonder how a recruiter chooses between two similar applicants.

Although no two cases are alike, there are ways to make sure you stand out from the crowd. Consider these tips:

Dress the Part
To get the job you want, you must look the part. The old saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” is often-quoted for a reason. Hiring managers will evaluate you almost instantly based on how you dress. When you look your best and as professional as possible, you’ve already beat the first hurdle.

Ask Intelligent Questions
At the end of most interviews, you are asked if you have any questions. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask thought-provoking questions about the company and its culture. A good tip is to visit the “about us” section on the company website to find topics to ask about. Not having questions implies a lack of engagement or interest in the business.

Share Your Achievements
When interviewing, share stories that demonstrate your work abilities, your personality, and your successes. If you can “show, not tell” how you are a perfect candidate for the position, you’ll stand out from your competition. Don’t just rattle off a dry list of skills. Instead, tell a tale that shows how those skills helped your former employer.

Follow Up With Current and Former Interviewers
As soon as an interview is over, send a thank you letter that summarizes your abilities and skills. However, don’t forget about contacting businesses that you’ve interviewed with in the past, especially if you were shortlisted for a position that went to another candidate. Maybe the person they chose didn’t work out or maybe they have a new position open that is a good fit.

Make Sure You Stay Sharp
You can’t compare yourself with others, but you can compare yourself to your past. Are you learning new skills? Are you updating your resume and websites? Have you practiced your interview questions lately? It’s important to always keep improving.

In your job search, you can send in a cover letter and resume like everyone else, or you can take steps to stand out from the competition for all the right reasons. Do not beat yourself up by trying to compare yourself to other candidates, but be aware they too are looking for ways to stand out.

In what ways do you stand out from your job seeking competition? Share some tips with us in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Why Customer Service Matters in Any Role

customer_service_matters_webNo company is too big or too small to avoid the effects of customer interaction with current, new, or potential customers. If a company has good customer service, people will assume they also have good products.

And since customers will remember if they have a bad experience with you or your employer, it’s extremely important to maintain a positive attitude and provide excellent customer service every day. To help you put your best foot forward, take a look at these reasons why customer service is important. Then, check out a few quick tips to remember when you interact with customers.

Positive customer service can help your career path.
Employers keep a close eye on their employees to ensure they are doing great work. This means you have a perfect opportunity to stand out and shine in your role. Show up to work on time, maintain a positive attitude, answer customers’ questions quickly, be helpful, and go the extra mile when you can. It may seem like a lot of work, but when your employer notices how important customer service is to you, it may lead to promotions, raises, bonuses, or other rewards. And if you’re on a temporary assignment, great customer service can even lead to a permanent job.

Good experiences lead to return customers.
Customers who have positive interactions with employees and experience a high level of service will likely return to the business. If you went to a restaurant that had poor service, would you return? Most likely, the answer is no. Likewise, if you went to a restaurant with exceptional service and a positive atmosphere, chances are good that you’ll return. The same goes for customers who visit your workplace. In fact, a study by InfoQuest found that a totally satisfied customer contributes 14 times as much revenue as a somewhat dissatisfied customer.

Customer service can separate you from the competition.
Companies must compete for business, and customer satisfaction can be the one thing that sets them apart. If there are two businesses that sell similar products, but one has a poor customer service record, which business will likely receive the most customers? The one with the better service, of course. Today, reviewing companies and receiving recommendations for businesses is easier than ever. Even one poor customer service interaction can lead to a negative review, which could lead to lost customers.

Happy customers can lead to a happy work environment.
When a company keeps its customers happy, it usually creates a trickle effect on employees. According to Forbes, positive customer interaction leads to great work, which “leads to greater productivity, less absenteeism and turnover, and reduced retention costs.” If your supervisors and co-workers are as determined as you are to be great every day, your work environment is sure to improve. As Forbes states, “Often, doing things for your customers also works better for you.”

Now that you know how important customer service is, how do you make sure you’re doing your best?

Evaluate your own customer service experiences.
When it comes to how people interact with your company, it’s about more than products. People are interacting with you, and they expect to have a positive experience. Taking the time to be courteous and respectful goes a long way. Think about your own experiences and the businesses that left you either smiling or steaming. Consider adopting the positive elements from those experiences so you can help your customers enjoy the interactions they have with you.

Be positive from the start.
Excellent customer service begins with the first word you say. Whether it’s a greeting as customers walk in the door, an exchange over the phone, or the opening line in an email, you set the tone for your customer interaction. Remember to smile, offer assistance, and speak clearly in all communications.

Lend an ear.
It isn’t always easy to be on the receiving end of customers’ frustrations, especially when you are not to blame. But, attentive listening can be a catalyst for breaking down barriers and creating a fix for the situation. When you listen politely to a customer, you help them feel valued and may be able to solve their complaint more effectively. Remember to ask for assistance from your supervisor if a complaint is out of your control or you cannot remedy the situation.

Follow up in a timely manner.
When a customer has a question, always be as helpful and quick as you can. If you don’t know the answer, let the customer know that you will find out as soon as possible and follow up with the answer they need. If a customer has a complaint you can’t resolve, let your supervisor handle the situation, but be sure to follow up with the customer to ensure they received the help they needed.

Exceed expectations.
Whenever you can, go above and beyond. Anticipate your customers’ needs by offering assistance, making suggestions, or following up with them. Impress your supervisor by exceeding quotas, asking if you can help with additional tasks, or offering to stay late if the workload is overwhelming. When you go above and beyond, customers will notice and may even tell your supervisor. As much as a positive review can help a business, it can also help your career.

How do you maintain excellent customer service? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.