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Tools for Success

  • 11 Ways to Improve Your Leadership Skills

    by: Margaret Buj | Apr 02, 2018

    Whether you are aware of it or not, on some level you are continually leading yourself and others. Consider these 11 tips for how to improve your leadership skills and think about ways you can implement them in your daily life at work.

    1. Have a clear vision. Take the time to share your vision, your mission and your goals with your team. Your job as a leader is to provide a clear path that your team can follow. Your team also must understand why the goals you have set are valuable to them. Take the time to explain to them, in detail, why and how your vision will not only improve the business, but how it will benefit them in return.
    2. Know and utilize your strengths and gifts. You have unique gifts, leadership skills you were born with and personal strengths you have developed over your lifetime. Realizing these gifts and strengths and applying them will assist you in being a formidable leader.
    3. Be Passionate. Passion is one of the most important lead - ership skills! Great leaders have a genuine passion and enthusiasm for their projects. Start by thinking of different ways you can express your zeal. Let people know that you care about their progress. When one person shares something with the rest of the group, be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their contributions.
    4. Live in accordance with your morals and values. Making choices aligned with your morals and values helps you succeed almost as effortlessly as key leadership skills. People sense integrity and will naturally respect your leadership.
    5. Serve as a role model. The best leaders walk the walk and talk the talk. As a result, group members admire these leaders and work to emulate these behaviors. If you want to become a better leader, work on modeling the qualities that you would like to see in your team members.
    6. Set definitive goals and follow concrete action plans You have to know your destination before you can map out a plan to get there. To improve your leadership skills, first set specific life goals with appropriate timelines. Design your goals by moving backwards from the end of your life to the present week. Then, formulate action plans you can commit to that will get you where you want to be.
    7. Maintain a positive attitude. No one respects a grumpy or negative person. With a positive attitude, you are looking at the bright side of life. People are naturally attracted to others who have a positive attitude. By being positive, you will lead a happier life and surround yourself with other positive people.
    8. Improve communication skills Having great leadership skills includes being able to clearly and specifically communicate your vision, goals, skills, intentions and expectations to others. It also includes listening to what other people have to say and how they are communicating.
    9. Motivate others to greatness. The greatest leaders are those who em - brace everyone in their sphere of influence by recognizing each person’s unique value. To be one of these leaders, look beyond the obvious and see others with insight and compassion.
    10. Admit failures and weaknesses and learn from them. Face it—no one is perfect. Everyone has made a mistake or two in their lives! The most successful leaders know that the key to success is not in avoiding falling or failing, but to learn from their mistakes. As a strong leader, you will also be able to communicate your weaknesses to your team, so that you and your team can determine who excels at that particular task or activity to balance the load.
    11. Continue to educate and improve yourself. Great leaders not only demonstrate effective leadership skills but, most importantly, they continue to improve themselves in every possible way. The person who thinks he is an expert has a lot more to learn. Never stop learning. Be receptive to others’ perception and to information you glean from the world around you. Always grow and learn.

    About the Author

    Margaret Buj is an Interview and Career Acceleration Coach who specializes in helping professionals get any job they want at their best-ever salary.

  • The Top Three Things Holding You Back From a Promotion

    by: Roberta Chinsky Matuson, Matuson Consulting | Oct 03, 2017

    You work really hard, perhaps too hard. And you’re doing what you believe are the right things in order to advance your career. Yet, here you are. In the very same role where you started. The word “frustrated” cannot begin to describe what it feels like to be in this position.

    In my work as an executive coach and job search mentor, I have seen this scenario countless times. In particular, I see three things holding people back from being promoted.

    Failure to self-promote

    Early in my career, I daydreamed about receiving calls from headhunters near and far asking me to consider new opportunities. In retrospect, my time would have been better spent letting my boss and her colleagues know about all the great work I was doing, as my daydreams never did come true.

    In today’s workplace, there is much competition for attention. As I wrote in my book, Suddenly in Charge, you have to pump up the volume and make enough noise so people in the organization know who you are and what you are accomplishing. You do not want to be obnoxious in promoting yourself, but others in the organization need to know your value; they are not likely to find out unless you make them aware.

    Think about one or two things you are most proud of and be sure to weave these accomplishments into your everyday conversation with your boss and their peers. Do not worry about sounding boastful. People will see you as a person of interest, which is exactly how you want to be seen in order to get noticed.

    Lack of confidence

    Imagine you are the boss and have to decide who to promote into a leadership position. You have one employee who is confident and rarely resorts to second-guessing and another employee who is always looking to you for validation. If you are like most people, you choose the candidate exuding confidence.

    If you are more like the candidate with a lot of self-doubt, you need to work on increasing your confidence level. This starts with a new mindset: You have to believe you are in your job because someone thought you had what it takes to do the job. Otherwise, they would have hired someone else. You also have to believe you deserve the promotion you seek.

    You can hire a coach to help you work on boosting your confidence. If that’s not in your budget, then consider asking a trusted work colleague to signal when you are sliding back into self-doubting behavior. You can also work on increasing your skill level by reading books or taking online courses in areas where you want to improve.

    Not asking for a promotion

    It is certainly nice to be tapped on the shoulder and asked to take on more responsibility at work. But that is not always how promotions occur. Sometimes the person who asks for the job is the one who actually gets it.

    You may be thinking, “How do I ask for a job that I don’t even know is available?” Well, you do not have to ask for a specific promotion; you can simply tell your boss you are interested in taking on more responsibility and that you would like to be considered for a promotion the next time a position opens up. A reminder every now and again will be helpful as well, to ensure you stay on top of mind.

    About the Author

    Roberta Chinsky Matuson, The Talent Maximizer® and President of Matuson Consulting, helps organizations achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is the author of four books including the newly released, The Magnetic Leader.

  • 5 Competency-Based Interview Questions

    by: Margaret Buj | Apr 04, 2017

    Competency-based interviews have become a standard practice by interviewers. A competency-based interview consists of a set of questions that test your knowledge of different areas specific to the job in question. They are also used to examine your outlook and attitude toward managing day-to-day tasks, problem-solving, and crisis handling. Competency-based questions often require candidates to present real-life examples of how they handled a specific situation.

    Here are five typical competency-based questions you may be asked during an interview.

    1. Your Level of Organization

    Most, if not all, employers value highly organized candidates. Employees who are organized tend to be more productive. In addition, those in managerial roles perform better by providing project frameworks and details in a timely fashion and staying on top of tasks that need to be accomplished quickly.

    Questions in this arena may examine how you managed several projects at once, particularly if you had to prioritize, or if you had to work on a project that involved multiple departments. Be prepared to answer questions on project management, managing communication, and securing assistance and tools to keep everything rolling smoothly.

    2. Your Communication Skills

    Communication skills are a must in any successful company, and you will be presented with questions on your communication skills at every interview you attend. Whether you are a good communicator via speech or writing, be prepared to discuss this essential skill with your employer, and indicate the type o f communication that bests suits you.

    Questions in this arena usually include detailing situations in which your communication skills helped solve a problem or defuse a conflict; they may also inquire into a situation where your communication skills failed, and what you did to redress the problem. As with any question that asks about your failures, it is important to be honest—both about the failure and how you sought to address it.

    3. Your Decision-Making Abilities

    Good decision-making abilities are important. Many supervisors value employees who do not constantly need to be told what to do and are capable of making decisions about execution, prioritization, and methodology. Being a good decision-maker in difficult decisions is also a valuable quality, especially if you are applying for a supervisory position.

    Expect to be asked about a time where you had to make a difficult or complicated professional decision, and whether it yielded positive or negative results. Be prepared to explain what you learned from either situation, and how these experiences may have improved your decision-making ability. Once again, be frank.

    4. Your Ability to Recover from Failure

    “Failing forward” has become something of a catchphrase in professional circles, and with good reason. A candidate’s ability to recover and learn from failure not only develops their professional capability, but serves to assist the growth and development of those they work with by communicating those lessons to their co-workers.

    Almost every interviewer will inquire about a time you failed to achieve something, or a situation in which your skills were not equal to the problem. Answer this question honestly and be prepared to discuss the subsequent results. Think very carefully about what you learned from the situation, and if it prompted you to further develop your skills in a particular area. Demonstrating that failure prompts you to work harder and smarter can help you secure a position.

    5. Your Ability to Be a Team Player

    While some people work best alone—and you should say so if this is the case— learning to work as part of a team is still a critically important skill, particularly with regard to high-stakes or large projects.

    Be prepared to answer questions about times you worked as part of a team, and what you contributed to the team or project you were assigned to. Talk about how your skills complemented those of other team members, and what you were able to achieve together versus what you were able to achieve on your own.

    About the Author

    Margaret Buj is an interview coach who has helped hundreds of professionals across Europe and the United States get the jobs and promotions they really wanted.

  • 4 Reasons Leaders Are Readers

    by: Jeremy Kingsley, OneLife Leadership | Mar 06, 2017
    “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” — Mark Twain, American author and humorist

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “Readers are leaders.” If you’ve taken the time to research the habits of well-known leaders, you’ll see that most list one habit in common: reading. Leaders make time for it in their busy schedules. Why do leaders feel this is so important?

    1. Reading Serves as a Reminder of Important Concepts

    Many leaders reread the same article or book multiple times. It’s not because they didn’t understand the concepts the first time. It’s because the concepts are so important to the leader that they want to be reminded of why they are important. Leaders are readers because they want to keep the best business concepts in the forefront of their thoughts.

    2. Reading Presents New and Thoughtful Ideas

    Like anyone else, leaders must be exposed to new and thoughtful ideas. The key is to choose books that are insightful. Don’t be afraid to read something outside the norm. For example, a physician who runs a small medical clinic may generally only read medical journals. But picking up a a book on business management could provide the physician great insight into how the practice could be managed more efficiently.

    You may not feel as if you’re in tune with a particular book—that happens sometimes. But in the future, that book may inspire your own new ideas.

    3. Reading Gives Leaders an Advantage

    Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think, spent years interviewing 1,200 of the wealthiest people about their habits. One commonality? They were regular readers. And they didn’t just read for fun. Rather, they read for knowledge. Mark Cuban reads for almost three hours a day. Why? Because he understands that reading provides knowledge accessible to anyone.

    Yet, not everyone will take the time to read. Cuban understands that this creates a distinct advantage for him. He’s not alone. In fact, Warren Buffett is known for his reading habit as well. He’s one of the richest men in the world. Buffett is known for reading between 600 to 1,000 pages each day. Buffett estimates that he spends around 80% of his time reading.

    4. Reading Encourages Better Decision Making

    Reading gives us access to experiences that are not our own. It exposes us to how other people approach problems in business and in life. This gives leaders more options to make better decisions. Through reading, leaders are exposed to different perspectives that may encourage them to take a new or different approach to conflicts. It also promotes tolerance of other viewpoints.

    Reading is one of the best possible ways to become a better leader. Take some time to find some great books—biographies, bestsellers, and stories from people you respect. You won’t regret it.

    About the Author

    Jeremy Kingsley is a professional speaker, leadership expert and bestselling author. Learn more at www.jeremykingsley.com.

  • 3 Surefire Ways to Impress a Hiring Manager

    by: Joshua Waldman, Career Enlightenment | Jan 30, 2017

    I’m learning how to hire. My business is growing and I recently needed to hire a new customer service rep. So, I got a book on interviews and read some articles online.

    Every HR expert seems to have their own strongly-held-to opinion about the best questions to ask, and what to look for in a candidate.

    So I tried out three of these “must-ask” questions that I read about for my series of interviews. After the third interview, I realized that the questions I was asking weren’t as important as simply knowing three important things about a candidate.

    When going into a job interview, make it your No. 1 goal to be sure your interviewer knows these three things about you, even if they don’t ask directly.

    1. Can You Be Trained to Do the Job?

    I am building a new process for handling clients. My new customer service rep will be part of developing that new process. So I can’t just ask them, “Can you do this?”

    I really need to know if they can learn my way of doing things using my software.

    The best answer I received was from my second candidate who recounted a story from her last job. There, she’d observed the chaotic nature of her boss. After a few weeks of chaos, she built a system to help keep him, and the business, more organized.

    I’d rather hire that experience than someone who simply knows how to handle an angry customer (which is also important, but can also be trained). I needed someone trainable and flexible.

    2. Do I Even Like You?

    One of the must-ask questions I read about was, “If you had a superpower, what would it be? Why?”

    I asked all of my candidates. Many of them wanted to be invisible. Not a fan!

    One laughed at my question (good sign!) and then asked me the question back (another good sign!).

    I told her I would like the ability to fly. She said, “That’s a good one. I think I would teleport. I like to travel but don’t like waiting for visas.”

    This one conversation stood out to me because it wasn’t a one-word answer. There was some humor and character. She showed personality and I like that.

    If I were to hire her, I’d have to get along with her. I’d also rely on her to give me feedback I might not want to hear.

    3. What Really Motivates You?

    Anyone can BS a job interview. I know. I’ve done it many times!

    What happens six or 12 months later? Are you still as peppy as you seemed that first day?

    In my recent interviews, I distinctly looked for candidates who could show me they liked what they did and had every intention of keeping up that energy for a long time. Sure, I’m just offering them a job. They don’t have to live and die for it, but some amount of interest would be nice!

    One candidate’s passion for building desktop computers alone was a red flag. He spends his free time at a very individual task. Even as an introvert myself, I still like to be with people, be it friends or family.

    Another candidate, on the other hand, showed excitement when talking about interesting conversations he’d struck with random people during his vacation holidays.

    I’d definitely go for the person excited about random conversations for my customer service job!

    Answer These and Ace the Interview!

    Keeping these three questions in mind and trying to answer them during a job interview is going to help you land meaningful work.

    But, if you can answer these questions BEFORE you sit down for an interview, you’re one step ahead. Not only will you land more interviews, but your interviewer will be more at ease with you. The trick is to make sure your LinkedIn profile and other social networks also answer these questions.

    About the Author

    Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, is the founder of Career Enlightenment, which offers professional LinkedIn profile writing services and career advice for the modern jobseeker.

  • Resume Rule #11: Everyone Likes a Good Story

    by: Perry Newman | Jan 03, 2017

    There is a reason authors like James Patterson, John Grisham, Michael Connelly, and David Baldacci, among others, are constant fixtures on The New York Times Best Seller list. They create compelling stories that grab readers’ attentions, stirring their imaginations to read on and see how the characters develop and the story unfolds to its conclusion.

    I’ve been writing resumes and advising people on how to interview for quite some time now. I’ve been told that the reason my clients’ resumes and their resulting interviews are so successful is because I advised them to tell a story above all else.

    I don’t dispute that keywords, achievements, and accomplishments are important for success, but how you use them to tell your story trumps all else. So when you begin to prepare a resume or arrange to have a professional resume writer draft one, consider the following:

    Define the story you want to tell. Is it one the reader wants to be told?

    Is the main character (you) memorable in the reader’s mind? If not, how do you make it so?

    Does your story contain action and intrigue, or is it cliché, hollow, and boring?

    Does the main character (you, again) come across as likeable and sincere or arrogant and braggadocious?

    Is the content relevant to the story you want to tell, or is it mostly fluff/filler and self-aggrandizement?

    Does your resume read more like a thriller, a classic novel, a textbook, or a horror story?

    If you assimilate all this into your prep work and keep it in mind as you write, you can end up with a great resume, depending on how good of a writer you are in the first place. To really wow your readers, you also need to be a good researcher to find the right information that hits the right spot.

    All of these points also apply to your how you prepare your responses in the interview, since a successful interview is also about storytelling. The difference is, for an interview, you need to strategize how you present your story verbally rather than in writing. For some, this is easy; for others, this is the hard part. In either case, you need to perfect your story and storytelling ability in both writing and speech.

    About the Author

    Perry Newman, CPC/CSMS, is a nationally recognized career services professional, an executive resume writer and career transition coach, a certified social media strategist and an AIPC-certified recruiter. He can be reached by email.

  • 5 Ways to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Group

    by: Joshua Waldman, Career Enlightenment | Oct 03, 2016

    In 2006, when I still worked at Cisco, I started a little LinkedIn Group called “Cisco.” Okay, not a very creative or original name, I’ll admit. But I thought it was a good idea at the time to help Cisco folks leverage our mutual LinkedIn networks for career opportunities. HR didn’t like the idea though—which naturally made me want to do it more!

    Today, this group has over 17,000 people, grows by 100 people every week, and houses discussions about job postings, business strategy, and even sales on Cisco gear.

    Recently, however, requests to join became overwhelming, and I “hired” a co-manager to facilitate the group.

    What is a LinkedIn Group?

    Simply put, groups allow people within the vast network of separated professionals on LinkedIn to connect on a single theme. Groups are a great way to network with new people minus the introductions or cold calling. Why? Because you have something in common.

    Groups can be anything from alumni associations, professional associations, common interests, companies, and even subsets within companies. Hell, you can even create your own group in about two minutes.

    Why Groups are a Great Job Search Tool

    By joining and participating in a group, you (the jobseeker) have a powerful way of adding value to, and grow, your online reputation. As a group facilitator, I can tell you who are the leaders of the discussion, and who are the valued contributors to the group. When you participate, people notice.

    Furthermore, by being members of the same group as your target company, your odds of getting a favorable response to your job inquiry are much higher.

    5 Guidelines for LinkedIn Group Success

    1. Join a group that takes you where you want to go, not one that keeps you where you are.
    2. Join a group that you will actually participate in. Don’t be a fly on the wall.
    3. Participation in a group means posting and responding to discussion. Make sure you are putting your best foot forward, are positive, and show your motivation.
    4. Tell your truth but don’t shout! If you are unemployed, don’t be ashamed and try to keep it a secret, but don’t flaunt it either. Just be cool and make sure that you are always honest about where you are and what you are looking for.
    5. Identify other leaders in the group and determine whether they could be valuable connections or information sources; if so, then by all means reach out to them.

    [Editor’s Note: Interested in joining a LinkedIn group? Look for the “PDA - Parenteral Drug Association” group on LinkedIn.]

    About the Author

    Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, is the founder of Career Enlightenment which offers professional LinkedIn profile writing services and career advice for the modern jobseeker.