The Surprising Leadership Trait That’ll Earn You More Respect

 

 

pilbox.themuse.com.jpgThe Board of Directors had just raked my boss over the coals for losing out on a project. And while he said he was “good,” I knew firsthand that he wasn’t.

This wasn’t the first time the board had been tough on him. He was failing, and he knew it. His team wanted to help—and we could have—but he refused to talk about his problems with us. I felt bad: He was always there for us, but he wouldn’t let us be there for him.

Later—at his going away party—he admitted he’d been too proud and afraid to ask for support. He tried to do it alone which he saw as his real mistake. Watching him taught me that being vulnerable when you’re the leader isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it’s very important, and it’s a trait all good leaders have.

It takes a lot of courage to share your imperfections and perceived weaknesses. Still, too many managers are stuck in the old belief that admitting they don’t know something means they’ll lose the respect and confidence of their team. (Maybe so, but you’ll lose it for sure if you never ask for support and blow it.)

Beyond that, being vulnerable is about more than getting comfortable admitting you need help from others; there are five ways it can make you a better leader.

1. You’ll Build Better Teams, Faster

Managers are role models. Surely, you don’t want your team to “fake it to make it” if that means failing—when it was totally avoidable.

When you’re vulnerable, you send a message that telling the truth is better than pretending. Teams that can be honest with one another have better results, because they’re not afraid to point out a problem or seek help when needed.

2. You’ll Have Less Conflict

Transparency leads to authentic two-way communication, which in turn reduces confusion. When you start a conversation by being upfront, it encourages the other person to do the same thing. When you’re vulnerable, it encourages the other person—including someone who’s upset with you—to do the same.

Let’s say an employee comes to you because he’s feeling neglected. He’s upset that you keep rescheduling meetings with him and haven’t been responsive over email, either. He feels like you aren’t providing the support he needs to do a good job. You’ll be tempted to be defensive, to deny any wrongdoing and simply say that you’ve been busy and other things took priority. After all, admitting you did something wrong, might make you look weak.

Actually, it’s quite the opposite. If you’re honest that you’ve had a tough time balancing all of your responsibilities and made a mistake by not being there for your team, you’re employee will be more confident in your leadership. Telling the truth and sharing your imperfections builds loyalty and trust. He’ll appreciate that you didn’t dismiss his concerns, and he’ll know that you genuinely want to avoid being an absentee manager.

3. You’ll Receive Useful Feedback

Instead of feeling the need to protect themselves from critical feedback, vulnerable leaders accept their imperfections as a normal part of being a person. As a result, criticism’s less daunting, and they’re able to receive it more openly and less defensively.

It’s common to think of feedback going from boss to employee, and many people find it intimidating to suggest improvements up to their managers. But your team often is composed of the very people who can pinpoint areas where changes would make a big difference.

By showing you’re comfortable hearing what they think—even when it’s critical—you’ll empower them to share observations from how you can avoid potential pitfalls to communicate with them more effectively.

4. You’ll Promote Healthy Risk-Taking and Accountability

People who work for vulnerable leaders are more able to manage uncertainty and risk, because they know it’s OK to try something new—even if the outcome is uncertain. Because they’re honest with themselves throughout the process, they’re willing to take ownership when things don’t turn out as they had hoped.

However, there’s a good chance there will be a positive outcome, since these people aren’t afraid to ask for help along the way. Their strong support networks will help them execute new ideas more successfully. (And again, even if they fail, they won’t be ashamed to own up to it—which can lead to learning valuable lessons.)

5. You’ll Improve the Overall Environment

As Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly, “In an organizational culture, where respect and the dignity of individuals are held as the highest values, shame and blame don’t work as management styles.”

This reduces what she calls “Cover-Up Cultures” where people hustle for approval to avoid being embarrassed or belittled. With a leader who admits their own shortcomings, people can bring their whole selves to work because they know that, no matter what, they won’t be made to feel small when they make mistakes.

Vulnerable leaders aren’t blind to the risks that come with being wholehearted and open. But they know that being defensive is risky, too. The difference is one behavior creates the potential for joy, success, and great relationships. And while defensive leaders may be able to achieve just as much success, when they get there, they’re usually all alone.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-surprising-leadership-trait-thatll-earn-you-more-respect

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

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3 Ways You’re Messing Up the Answer to “How Do You Deal With Stressful Situations?”

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The hiring manager asks how you’d approach a stressful situation. And your first thought is: You mean—like this job interview?

Clearly, you know that’s not the best way to start your answer.

So, you go with the next thing you think of. And while it sounds good in your head, well-meaning replies can actually raise red flags for interviewers.

Here are three common answers that make you look bad—plus better options.

1. You Say: “I Just Put My Head Down and Push Through It”

You think this answer will make you look like the non-complaining hard worker you are.

Unfortunately, it raises two red flags.

First, it makes it seem like you’re someone who wouldn’t think to loop in your boss, even if there was a problem. (Are there times when you could handle it on your own? Possibly, but this tendency can lead to mistakes that could’ve been avoided through proactive communication.)

Second, the interviewer may fear that’ll you’ll push yourself so hard you’ll burn out. And odds are, if they’re asking this questions, there’ll be a demanding workload.

Instead Say

“I stay motivated by thinking about the end result. I’ve found that even in the midst of a challenging situation, reminding myself of my goals helps me take a step back and stay positive.”

2. You Say: “I Don’t Get Stressed Out”

To you, this answer shows that you’re able to control your emotions. Or, maybe you’re trying to say that you capably manage your workload.

But it could make the hiring manager worry that you have low self-awareness. They don’t want to hire the person who’ll be snapping at his colleagues or making rushed decisions—and not even realize he’s not at his best.

Instead Say

“I like to practice mindfulness [or some other strategy] to stay even-tempered.”

3. You Say: “I Delegate”

If you’re interviewing for a management role, you’re going to walk to talk about delegating. But this is not the way to do it.

That’s because, if you’re doing it right, you’ll be thinking about giving meaningful assignments to you team in relation to overall goals, not your personal workload. No one wants to work for a boss who hoards projects until she feels overwhelmed, and then assigns them elsewhere to “manage stress.”

Instead Say

“I realize that, as a manager, my response to stress will affect my whole team. My goal would be to model what I’d want my team to do, so I’d openly communicate that there was a high stress situation and ask if anyone had the time to pitch in and interest in troubleshooting.”

Yes, it’s ironic that you’d be asked how you cope with stress in the midst of a high-stress situation like responding to interview questions. And if makes you feel any better, you will get points just for being composed the whole time! But if you can go beyond that and explain how you handle pressure at work—while sidestepping any common wrong answers—you’ll stand out from the other applicants in the best way possible.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-ways-youre-messing-up-the-answer-to-how-do-you-deal-with-stressful-situations

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

7 Simple Habits That’ll Make You Happier

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Everyone wants to be happy, yet many people aren’t. Is that because of their circumstances, or because of their perspectives?

That’s a great question. Approximately 50% of your level of happiness, or what psychologists call your “happiness set-point,” is determined by personality traits that are largely hereditary. That means half of your level of happiness is largely outside your control.

That’s too bad, but it also means that 50% of your level of happiness is largely within your control: health, career, relationships, activities. So even if you were born with a tendency to be at least a little gloomy, you can still do things to make yourself a lot happier.

Like these:

1. Actively Pursue Your Goals

Goals you don’t pursue aren’t goals, they’re dreams, and dreams make you happy only when you’re dreaming.

Pursuing goals, though, does make you happy. According to David Niven, author of 100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It, “People who could identify a goal they were pursuing were 19% more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26% more likely to feel positive about themselves.”

So be grateful for what you have, and then actively try to achieve more. If you’re pursuing a huge goal, make sure that every time you take a small step closer to achieving it, you pat yourself on the back.

But don’t compare where you are now with where you someday hope to be. Compare where you are now to where you were a few days ago. Then you’ll get dozens of bite-size chunks of fulfillment—and a never-ending supply of things to be thankful for.

2. Do What You Do Well, as Often as You Can

You know the old cliché regarding the starving-yet-happy artist? Turns out it’s true: Artists are considerably more satisfied with their work than non-artists—even though the pay tends to be considerably lower than in other skilled fields.

Why? I’m no researcher, but clearly the more you enjoy what you do and the more fulfilled you feel by it, the happier you will be.

In The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Achor says that when volunteers picked “one of their signature strengths and used it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed.”

Of course it’s unreasonable to think you can chuck it all and simply do what you love. But you can find ways to do more of what you excel at. Delegate. Outsource. Start to shift the products and services you provide into areas that allow you to bring more of your strengths to bear. If you’re a great trainer, find ways to train more people. If you’re a great salesperson, find ways to streamline your administrative tasks and get in front of more customers.

Everyone has at least a few things they do incredibly well. Find ways to do those things more often. You’ll be a lot happier.

And probably a lot more successful.

3. Make Good Friends

It’s easy to focus on building a professional network of partners, customers, employees, and connections, because there’s (hopefully) a payoff.

But there’s a definite benefit to making real (not just professional or social-media) friends. Increasing your number of friends correlates to higher subjective well-being; doubling your number of friends is like increasing your income by 50% in terms of how happy you feel.

And if that’s not enough, people who don’t have strong social relationships are 50% less likely to survive at any given time than those who do.

Make friends outside of work. Make friends at work. Make friends everywhere.

And make real friends. You’ll live a longer, happier life.

4. Actively Express Your Thankfulness

According to research, couples who express gratitude in their interactions with each other experience increased relationship connection and satisfaction.

Of course the same is true at work. Express gratitude for employees’ hard work, and you both feel better about yourselves.

Another easy method is to write down a few things you are grateful for every night. One study showed people who wrote down five things they were thankful for once a week were 25% happier after 10 weeks; in effect, they dramatically increased their chances of meeting their happiness set-point.

Happy people focus on what they have, not on what they don’t have. It’s motivating to want more in your career, relationships, and bank account, but thinking about what you already have, and expressing gratitude for it, will make you a lot happier.

It will also remind you that even if you still have huge dreams, you have already accomplished a lot—and should feel genuinely proud.

5. Help Other People

While giving is usually considered unselfish, giving can also be more beneficial for the giver than the receiver: Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it.

Intuitively, I think we all know that, because it feels awesome to help someone who needs it. Not only is it fulfilling, it’s a reminder of how comparatively fortunate we are—which is a nice reminder of how thankful we should be for what we already have.

Plus, receiving is something you cannot control. If you need help—or simply want help—you can’t make others help you. But you can always control whether you offer and provide help.

And that means you can always control, at least to a degree, how happy you are— because giving makes you happier.

6. Realize That More Money Won’t Make You Happier

Money is important. Money does a lot of things: One of the most important is it creates choices.

But after a certain point, money doesn’t make people happier: “The materialistic drive and satisfaction with life are negatively related.” Or, in layman’s terms, “Chasing possessions tends to make you less happy.”

Think of it as the bigger house syndrome. You want a bigger house. You need a bigger house. (Not really, but it sure feels like you do.) So you buy it. Life is good for a couple months, until your bigger house is just your house.

The new always becomes the new normal.

“Things” provide only momentary bursts of happiness. To be happier, don’t chase as many things. Chase a few experiences instead.

7. Live Your Life the Way You Want to Live It

Bonnie Ware worked in palliative care, spending time with patients who had only a few months to live. Their most common regret was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

What other people think—especially people you don’t even know—doesn’t matter. What other people want you to do doesn’t matter.

Live your life your way. Surround yourself with people who support and care, not for the “you” they want you to be, but for the real you.

Make choices that are right for you. Say things you really want to say to the people who most need to hear them. Express your feelings. Stop and smell a few roses. Make friends, and stay in touch with them.

And most of all, realize that happiness is a choice. 50% of how happy you are lies within your control, so start doing more things that will make you happier.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/7-simple-habits-thatll-make-you-happier

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

20 Different Ways to Get Through a Rough Patch at Work

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Your alarm goes off, and you can’t help but groan and shrink back down under the covers. The thought of facing another workday makes you uneasy (to put it mildly). Things haven’t been going well for a while, and you don’t have a clue as to how to make them better. Job searching isn’t in the cards for you right now, so your only viable option is to grin and bear it. Or, is it?

Career Coach Evangelia Leclaire explains that it’s “common to hit a rough patch in your career where you feel complacent, disconnected, or disengaged. Maybe you’re stuck in a rut, tired and uninspired…You slip under the radar and feel like you’re just getting by.”

But even though rough patches at work are bound to happen, you don’t have to sit idly by and accept being miserable—not when 20 of our career coaches have far better advice for you.

1. Make Friends, Not Enemies

Negative work situations can be disappointing. But it’s important not to let disappointment ultimately stop you from thinking strategically or acting professionally to accomplish a greater good. This is why it’s essential you find a way to connect with your colleagues and build camaraderie. You can’t imagine how much this will change your situation for the better.

Avery Blank

2. Try Something New

Request to lead an initiative, take on a new project, or plot out a fresh path for your sanity and success. If you don‘t see that as an option at the office, take on something unfamiliar outside of work, something that won‘t stress or burn you out. Taking on a new project or charting out a plan for success will stimulate your brain, causing a surge and release of endorphins, and give you a feeling of expansion.

Evangelia Leclaire

3. Leave Work at Work

The worst thing about suffering from a negative work situation is that it tends to impact every other aspect of your life. When you leave the office, try to avoid gossiping and complaining about it. It is a hard thing to do, but it’s important. If you feel this is impossible, then allow yourself a specific time each week to bring work home, and the rest of the time, leave it at the office.

Neely Raffellini

4. Stop Avoiding It

Acting like a bystander in your career, perhaps by not pushing back where appropriate or assuming your efforts will speak for themselves (in the form of being granted a promotion), can make a work slump worse. Evading issues that bother you clearly doesn’t serve you or your employer—you sink deeper into a slump and your job may suffer as a result. Turn things around by identifying decisions you’ve been avoiding. Confronting what’s nagging you will not only dissolve your frustration, but will also allow you to make the most of your current situation.

Melody Wilding

5. Check Your Attitude

So much of how we‘re perceiving the world—things suck, I’m stuck, I’m bored—are really a function of the frame of mind that we have when we‘re seeing the situation. Ask yourself if your thinking is coloring your perception of it. In the end, things are just things. How we feel about them is completely a function of our perception, and altering your attitude can mean all the difference.

Bruce Eckfeldt

6. Keep Showing Up

Do the best work you can do. Shirking your responsibilities and withdrawing (i.e., increased absenteeism, lower productivity) will only make the situation worse. Jot down the root causes of the situation, and if there’s anything you feel comfortable talking to your manager about, schedule a meeting to go over what’s on your mind.

Joyel Crawford

7. Stand Up for Yourself

Often what makes for a bad work situation is that your boss or co-workers, treat you unfairly. Maybe they give you work to do that is outside the realm of your responsibility. Perhaps you have a manager who talks down to you. Learn to say ‘no!’ You can do this respectfully and assuredly. Say, ‘Are you asking me to do this and put my other work on hold? I can’t do both.’ If you’re being talked down to, ask to meet one-on-one with the person to discuss the importance of respect. The end result will be that you will feel better even if nothing changes, though chances are good that things will change.

Theresa Merrill

8. Shift Your Perspective

It’s all about perspective. Oftentimes in work, we’re miserable in a situation and can’t see our way out. And that makes us even more miserable, creating a vicious cycle. Fortunately, we have the ability to shift our perspective. Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Look at the situation from another point of view and see if you might be interpreting things in one way where there could be many more ways to do so. This exercise allows us to see that we’ve got options, and it enables us to feel less trapped or frustrated.

Kelly Poulson

9. Don’t Suffer in Silence

Be open and honest with your supervisor about the difficulty you’re having. Share examples of why you’re unhappy or restless. It’s crucial that you don’t simply complain: Share specific examples of the challenges, but also offer some solutions or alternatives. It may be that your supervisor doesn’t realize you’re struggling, so giving him the opportunity to change direction for you would be good. There may be nothing to modify, but at least you’ll know that you did what you could to make things better.

Angela Smith

10. Utilize a Learning Log

One of the most helpful things you can do for yourself is to keep a learning log for yourself. Create a spreadsheet, and at the end of each week, write down one thing you learned. You’ll probably be surprised to discover how many things you’ve learned over the course of a month. Just acknowledging this can help you through your rough patch.

Rajiv Nathan

11. Seek Opportunities

Try thinking about what the job can do for you, rather than what you can do for the job. Are there opportunities for you to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills? Are there co-workers you can connect with for mentorship? Are there any committees or groups you can join within the organization to gain exposure to bigger-picture plans to gain context for the work you do (opening the door for greater fulfillment)? Your company exists for your professional development as much as you exist to fuel its growth and success.

Melody Godfred

12. Uncover Positivity

Accept that you can’t always turn around a bad situation. Sometimes the best way to combat negativity is to surround yourself with those that support you and focus on the aspects that bring positivity to your career. If you can peel back the layers a bit and find something that’s really good in your day-to-day, things may start to look up.

Ryan Kahn

13. Take Control

Is the situation something you can or cannot control? If colleague or client is causing you stress, remember that you can control how you respond. Often, a negative situation gets worse when you avoid a difficult conversation. Challenge your notion of what’s negotiable (and re-negotiable). Don’t like your commute? Ask for a flexible work schedule. Evil client giving you hell? Ask for a reassignment. Brave an honest conversation about your frustrations and turn a complaint into an ask.

Jamie Lee

14. Make a Decision

When you’re dealing with obstacles, follow this mantra: Change what you can control, influence what you can’t. I use the ‘won’t do’ versus ‘will do’ strategy. Rather than deciding you won’t get into an argument with your rude colleague when you’re hashing out responsibilities for a project, decide what you will do instead: ‘When John interrupts me next time, I will pause and take a deep breath, then move the conversation forward by asking a question about the next topic on the agenda.’

Alex Dickinson

15. Review and Assess

It’s important to take a step back and review everything leading up to your current state in an objective manner. It helps to write or draw out the situation with pen and paper to visualize what’s really going on. Be sure to include all people and timeline of events involved. Then critically assess, ‘What is my role in this situation?’ Have you been accommodating, positive, optimistic, clear, and direct? Or do you find yourself being alienating, negative, pessimistic, ambiguous, and avoiding? Oftentimes negative work solutions are created out of misunderstandings or unvoiced animosity. Get to the bottom of it by following the 80/20 rule (80% listening, 20% talking), and collaborating toward a resolution.

Emily Liou

16. Be Proactive

To start resolving a negative situation at work, first call a spade a spade. If your boss micromanages or otherwise makes your life miserable, address the issue head-on at your next meeting—without being confrontational. Always make it about the team and the company’s mission first and about yourself last. The key is always to connect the severity of the problem to the team and company, so that it doesn’t seem too much about you and doesn’t make you a complainer.

Yuri Kruma 

17. Practice Gratitude

Try focusing on what you’re grateful for, whether it’s a paycheck or the great team member you have. Over time that gratitude may completely flip your perceptions of your current situation. Perhaps you can find more ways to boost your happiness outside of work (delve into that hobby you love, socialize with people who make you happy). Take advantage of the things you’re grateful for while you figure out what’s next.

Annie Nogg

18. Find an Ear and Connect

Even if you‘ve tried to rise above your rut and still can‘t seem to break out of it, it’s helpful to get a fresh perspective on how to improve your situation. Talk to someone and brainstorm ways to pick yourself up. Ask for a story or example of when she pulled herself out of a rough patch. Listen with an open mind, and end with a few actionable ideas so the conversation leaves you with next steps. It’s helpful to know that you’re not alone.

Loren Margolis

19. Make Lemonade

You always have more power than you think you do, and although you can’t control a lot of what happens outside of you, you can always control how you respond. Perhaps you need to learn how to be more assertive, set boundaries, or advocate for a different assignment that makes better use of your talents. Regardless of the nature of the negative situation, you can make adjustments to deal with it, even if it is just an attitude adjustment.

Kristina Leonardi

20. Reject Boredom

At times it can be easy to become bored with the monotony that accompany most positions. Consider creating a motivation tool that’ll help you avoid this. Write in a journal or even create a short video that details a project you’re working on or the challenge you’re experiencing. Include the obstacles, what you’re learning, your role, and accomplishments. Through the development process you can find ways to become more inspired, explore creative solutions that invigorate interest, and identify areas for professional development. This is not only a way to encourage yourself but also to determine where you can use support to grow in your position.

Adrean Turner

https://www.themuse.com/advice/20-different-ways-to-get-through-a-rough-patch-at-work

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

Don’t Do It: 7 People You Should Never Put on Your Reference List

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I’ll never forget the first time I conducted a reference check that went south. At the time, I recruited and supervised volunteers for a nonprofit organization. I naively assumed this part of the process was just a matter of dotting my “i’s,” thinking, “What kind of idiot would list someone who doesn’t support him?”

Well, in one instance, the person I called didn’t know the person I was calling about. In another, the reference said something to the effect of, “Oh my God, she applied to volunteer with your organization?! No, no, no. I can’t recommend her.”

Since then I’ve had my fair share of bizarre experiences on the other side of the reference equation as well. One woman asked if I would provide one for her sister—who I had never met. Another acquaintance asked if I would recommend him because he was applying to a coveted, high-level position in my company, never mind the fact that he had been fired from multiple jobs, was never on time to anything, and had made an ass of himself in front of me more than once.

Having a bit more experience under my belt, I now realize that many people don’t quite comprehend the point—or importance—of a reference. This is not the professional equivalent of social media “likes.” Your potential boss isn’t going to assume it’s a set of endorsements; she’s going to contact the names on your list to dig for information about the type of employee you are.

Because I don’t want you to look like a fool when an employer contacts the names you’ve provided, I’ve compiled a list of people you should think twice before using.

1. You Haven’t Had Contact With the Person in Years

It’s best to use people who can talk about the amazing work you’ve done recently, your up-to-date industry knowledge, and your work ethic in general—lest a hiring manager wonder if you’re hiding something about your recent experience. Plus, you don’t want to use someone who may not actually remember you or the great work you did. If there’s someone from your past who’s so important that you believe including him would benefit you despite your distance, here’s a guide to help you reconnect in a way that increases your chances of getting a good reference.

2. You Don’t Know the Person

It might be tempting to ask a friend of a friend of a friend who works at your dream company to give you a reference. Don’t. If they don’t know you, anything they say will be a wild guess, and no sane person would lie to their employer for a stranger. If you want to leverage this loose connection, do it the right way by asking for an introduction
and sharing information about yourself and why you’re a good fit for the company, in a gracious and non-obnoxious way.

3. You Don’t Know the Person Well

A vague acquaintance isn’t much better than someone you don’t know at all. She’s going to struggle to answer questions about you with any depth. When her responses are shallow and vague, your potential employer will wonder why you don’t have people who can speak intelligently about your experience and abilities. As with someone you don’t know, if your acquaintance works at your dream company, do your homework first if you want to include her.

4. You Never Actually Worked With the Person

Your references need to be able to talk about your professional accomplishments, how you handle challenges, your specific skills, and so forth. It’s okay if the work you did together was volunteer-based or connected with a student or community organization, especially if you’re a recent graduate or returning to the workforce after an absence. It’s not okay if there’s no actual work—just lots of fun times—in your history together.

5. The Person Has a Bad Rep

This is most important if you’re applying to a company where your reference is already employed. While you may not know another person’s reputation, you can make an educated guess by the way he talks about work. If it’s full of bitterness, complaining, and stories of confrontation, you might think twice about using him.

6. The Person Has Been Out of the Workforce for a Decade (or More)

There may be a person who worked with you previously, who you still know well, who could talk at length about how great you are. But if she’s out of the loop with current industry trends, her endorsement may be of little value because she can’t talk about your industry knowledge. If you do include her, be sure your others are current ones!

7. The Person Fired You

I wish I didn’t have to explain this, but I’ve actually been asked, “How do I deal with the fact that one of my references fired me?” There may be times when you can’t avoid a potential employer talking with a past employer with whom you had a terrible relationship. But you don’t have to serve that up on a silver platter by including them on a document you control. There’s no universal mandate that you have to use your most recent (or any past) supervisor for this. Sometimes an employer and employee clash and the relationship ends on a bad note. It happens. Unless you can’t get along with anyone, you should have other supervisors and colleagues who can vouch for you.

Compiling a reference list isn’t complicated—here’s how to do it. If you’ve invested the time building genuine relationships, it’s just a matter of asking the most appropriate people from your network if they’d be willing to support you. If they say yes, make it easy for them by providing a copy of the job description and your resume. Don’t forget to follow up with a thank-you, and return the favor if possible, so they will continue to be willing to help you when you need it.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/dont-do-it-7-people-you-should-never-put-on-your-reference-list

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

 

A Better Way to Schedule Your Time if You Want to Get More Done

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Everyone dreams of being a productivity machine. The best you can hope for is to be fully focused on what you’re doing at any given moment.

There are six essential components to your life and work, and each one feeds into the other. If you’re a writer, for example, you can’t expect to be banging out perfect prose all day. Sometimes you have to research, sometimes you have to aimlessly read, and sometimes you have to send invoices.

In the process of helping reinvent Google Calendar, I discovered the six essential factors of achieving full focus. If you arrange your days and weeks with these in mind, following the ebbs and flows of your energy, you’ll always be fully concentrated on the task at hand.

1. Prioritize

Prioritization and planning enables smooth and swift action. You aren’t questioning what you should be doing, you’re just doing. You can prioritize by deciding what to do and what not to do, or by building habits to eliminate decision fatigue.

Prioritization is the most mentally-draining type of thinking, so make time to do it when your brain is fresh. I do a prioritization session every Sunday afternoon, where I plan my week.

2. Generate

Every creator loves the time when they’re generating. This is when you’re in that flow state, and words or design or code are coming easily while the clock glides forward. You can only be in this state so many hours in a day.

Pick a time, every day, for this kind of work, and protect it. Block out all distractions. Counterintuitively, your best time for generation may actually be when you’re groggy.

3. Explore

Everyone has made serendipitous discoveries. Maybe you’re scanning your Facebook feed, and a link a friend shared just happens to have that missing piece of the puzzle. The danger of this is that you then subconsciously place too high a value on scanning Facebook—and that may cut into your generation time.

Make time for exploration—reading books, watching movies, or surfing the web—in a way that won’t interfere with your prime thinking time. Be strategic about what you consume by following your curiosity.

4. Refine

You have standards of quality, but sometimes those standards can knock you out of flow. If you’re a writer, for example, don’t let looking up a historical date, or a fact, or the spelling of a word, knock you off track. Put it in brackets, and keep moving. Switching mind states is too taxing, and every moment of that prime generation time counts. It’s better to make a separate session where you refine the details.

5. Administer

We all have pesky details we need to attend to. Filling out expense reports, or reviewing our site stats, for example.

Don’t let the administrative details get in the way of your most productive time. Make them the lowest priority. If I get an email from my accountant, for example, I’ll Boomerang it so it comes back to me on Friday. By that time, I’ve exhausted my creative juices, so it’s a good time to review finances.

6. Recharge

You know you can’t produce 24 hours a day. Actually, you can, but it just doesn’t look like it. When you rest, your knowledge consolidates, and connections get made for later creative bursts. This is especially true when you’re sleeping.

Make time to recharge, even if you don’t want to. Practice doing nothing, and spend time with people you care about. Your generation session on Monday will be more productive for it.

If you start to take note of how your work and life are made up of these six essential components, you can start to arrange your schedule accordingly. When each moment has a purpose, you eliminate procrastination, harness momentum, and work like a perpetual motion machine.

Tuning your work and schedule for full focus is an ongoing process—it doesn’t happen overnight. You may have to try some unconventional methods, but if you’re persistent, you’ll eventually produce great work effortlessly.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/a-better-way-to-schedule-your-time-if-you-want-to-get-more-done

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

 

Cheat Sheet: What You Need to Know to Nail a Last-Minute Interview

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For weeks you’ve been actively sending your resume out and applying for job openings when (finally!) you get a call from a company who wants you to come in for an interview—today! Because you still have to do your current job today, you have exactly an hour to prep. How do you get ready for this?

You obviously don’t have time now to do exhaustive in-depth research, so you’ll need to prioritize and nail the basics. As an agency recruiter, I know firsthand what an employer actually expects you to know when you walk through the door for an interview—both when it’s been scheduled in advance or when it’s been arranged at the very last minute.

In this scenario, after you Google directions and figure out exactly how to get there and how much time you’ll need (better to give yourself extra minutes so you don’t run the risk of arriving late), here’s what else you can do with your limited time.

The People: Who Are You Interviewing With?

Names and titles can be a blur, particularly if you’re hearing them for the first time. Write down everyone’s name and check out their LinkedIn profiles. This may help you find commonalities or shared interests that could be helpful in building rapport. If the company website has an “About Us” page, read through it and memorize key facts, names, and titles.

The Organization: What’s the Latest News?

See if there’s a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Instagram handle, or Twitter presence, and pay attention to anything striking. For example, did the company just secure another round of funding or launch a new CSR initiative? Knowledge of these types of items can be good conversation starters, particularly when you don’t know as much about the organization as you would if you had more prep time.

If nothing of note stands out on social media, you can do a simple Google News search with the company name, or, if they have a press page, you should be able to find recent coverage or press releases.

The Product: What Is it Selling?

Make sure you’ve tried the product and know what it’s about. In an ideal world, you’re applying to companies you admire or already have some familiarity with. But, if you’ve been sending out tons of applications and the interview happens to be at a company you’re less knowledgeable about, use 20 minutes to take a high-level stock of what your potential future employer does.

Nothing’s more annoying or disheartening to a hiring manager than to see that the interviewee has no idea what the organization does. It’s OK to ask for clarification about the company’s product or to probe for more info during the meeting—after all, this person knows he or she just called you in—but the expectation is that because you applied for the position, you have a baseline understanding.

The Culture: What’s the Dress Code?

The biggest way to signal you don’t understand your potential employer is to arrive in an outfit that totally clashes with its culture. Don’t arrive in a very formal and conservative look if you’re interviewing with a scrappy tech company. Likewise, you’re not going to want to go straight from your bare-bones startup, where your uniform is basically jeans and a T-shirt, to a law firm.

If you have no time to change, remain calm and do the best you can. Freshen up in the bathroom at your office, make sure your shirt’s tucked in, double-check there’s nothing in your teeth. If you can’t dress the way you would’ve liked, you can at least make yourself look as polished and put together as possible.

And if your outfit’s completely off-base, let the hiring manager know that you’re aware. It’s as simple as saying, “As you may know, I was invited at the last minute to interview today, and didn’t have time to change. I definitely recognize that this is a formal work environment [or a casual one], and will be more appropriately dressed the next time. “

The Candidate: What Do You Have to Offer?

During your commute—whether you’re driving or taking the bus—take advantage of the minutes leading up to your arrival. Spend a few minutes thinking through your work history and career trajectory. Can you recall a specific example of an achievement you’re proud of, a challenge you overcame, and what and how you learned from those experiences? You better believe someone in the interview is going to ask a question that prompts you to connect the dots and demonstrate your value.

Remember: This person’s on your side and he called you in at the last minute because he’s very interested in meeting you and moving you through the process. The last thing to do before you step into that room is take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’ve got this.

And if the worst-case scenario happens and you bomb, fear not. Even a bad interview isn’t always the end. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-written thank you note. In this letter, along with thanking everyone for their time, you can address the parts you fumbled over. Explain that you while you weren’t able to articulate a response on the spot, after having some time to think it through, you have an answer you’d like to share now. That small gesture often leaves a lasting impression.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/cheat-sheet-what-you-need-to-know-to-nail-a-lastminute-interview

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com