It's a JUNGLE out there...whether you are hiring or looking for a job.
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The Bosses – Thoughts from the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 30, 2016 in Building Confidence, Career Path, Job Search

jungle3As a recent graduate starting out in your career, or a seasoned professional looking to make the next move, the most influential person you will interact with in your new position will be your boss. The majority of our waking interactions during the week are going to be at work with our boss. That is a lot of time to spend with one person. A boss has the opportunity to make you feel completely inadequate to the point of wanting to reevaluate your career path OR so empowered and encouraged that you can move mountains with a click of a mouse. Much like choosing a major in college, where often times we end up picking our academic career based on one teacher who changed our perspective, the decision to continue on a career path can be dependent on the bosses you encounter.

A good boss doesn’t just want you to fill a gap or need within an organization. They want you to grow into an employee that is able to do much more than a job description requires. They want you to move towards the tasks that are in line with your interests so that they can see the passion your eyes. They want to challenge you to exceed expectations and go out of your comfort zone so that you are prepared for the position that comes next. A good boss wants to hear your ideas and welcome new perspectives outside of their own while trusting you to accomplish your work unsupervised and without micromanagement.

When faced with a job offer, always make sure you really know who it is you will be reporting to. It may seem like an obvious thing to do but depending on the role, you sometimes only have the opportunity to interview with the head of the department or other members of a team, for example. You want to make sure that before you accept a job, you are able to at least meet your manager face to face. If possible, try to see if there would be an opportunity to shadow a team member in a similar role to you. That way, you are able to see not only how the team interacts with each other but also with the boss. It is important to know your work personality to identify which management style aligns with your needs. There are some people who enjoy the structure of clear guidelines while others prefer flexibility to stay creative. Young professionals believe earlier in their careers that a boss is just someone you will be working FOR to pay rent, but really, it is someone you will be working WITH, day in and day out.

At the end of the day, people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.

Tori Zalewski

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The Dolphin – In the Job Market: The Importance of Social Quotient

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 22, 2016 in Building Confidence, Job Search, Thinking Positive

DolphinImage Source

The job search jungle has often been characterized by the diversity of its inhabitants. Be it the kind of environments one has to cope with, or the competition you’re up against while making a run for the best of career options suiting your needs, it has never been an easy fight while surviving here. However, there’s one thing that you can learn from the animals around and especially the ones living underwater.

Be it the whistling, grunts, squeaks or the loving nature they display with those near, the dolphin has been adored by all owing to its social prowess. Known as the most ‘socially active’ animal after humans, Dolphins live together in pods (groups), with each group including species of variable sizes. This sure does press over the fact that your stature in the job market doesn’t matter. All that counts is the group, or simply put, the network you represent. Communicating actively to tackle problems together, Dolphins have immense social skills that you can learn from and implement in your job search strategy.

Consulting Your Network Every Now and Then

Obviously, the most significant step in this instance would be building a network full of professionals and connections you can learn from, one that keeps you together even during the most negative of situations.

Building on similar lines, being an active communicator to your network and expressing your concerns, such as resume formatting or difficulties, while following up with employers is also necessary. Observe Dolphins and you will surely find their entire pod coming up against the Shark every time they get attacked. All it takes is a message from a single Dolphin and the network stands as one from there on. This can happen with you as well, just stay active in expressing your concerns.

Beating the Stress through Efficient Means

Dolphins have quite a large brain and a great capacity to memorize complex tasks. Such is the case with you, except for the fact that you face the downs that come with stress and anxiety while chasing employers or waiting to hear from one. The moment Dolphins find themselves stuck in any such situation, you’ll observe them frolicking around with those around them (out of the water even). This calls for you to behave similarly and use your ‘social quotient’ to stay in touch with your network, friends, seniors, and mentors. Find ways to keep your mind off the stress and keep performing at your own pace. That is what the modern job search is all about.

Keep Finding More and Don’t Just Settle

Watch a Dolphin doing tricks and jumping out of the water, scoring a fish or squid snack every time and it still isn’t satisfied until a larger meal. Well, that certainly is a quality you can adopt for your job search campaign as well. Think about it every time you’re about to compromise on your choices and settle for an alternative just because the competition is fierce. Being socially active, there will be numerous chances for you to stay on an active lookout for opportunities while being updated regarding the competition around also.

Dolphins always keep an eye on their mates while staying on a fish hunt, but keep searching for better options, nevertheless. It is this knack that will get you in to the corporation of your dreams, soon enough!

This Guest Post was contributed by Anshuman. Anshunan Kukreti is a professional writer and a keen follower of the emirates job market. An engineer by qualification and an artist at heart, he writes on various topics related to employment across the globe. Reach him @ LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Guide – Leaders in the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 22, 2016 in Building Confidence, Executive Coaching

PRESENCEForest

Successful leaders have a certain “Je ne sais quoi” – an air of authority, trust, confidence and knowledge that inspires others to follow them and move towards the goals they have set. Jungle guides are the most valuable members of the excursion party. Without them, the group may become hopelessly lost, run out of food, or become food themselves. If the guide effectively projects their knowledge and authority, the group will follow the guide safely through the jungle.

As someone moving up the ranks towards leadership, it’s imperative to create your leadership presence early on. In order to be the one that’s tapped to take on new leadership assignments you need to assume the presence of a leader before you can actually be one.

Consider what you say, how you say it and how you look saying it.

WHAT YOU SAY

Leaders phrase things positively. They move as quickly and efficiently as they can through a process to a successful conclusion. Listen to great leaders who choose their words wisely and adjust your delivery to mimic theirs. Researching great speeches of the past is a good place to start to learn to frame your comments positively. Rarely do great leaders talk about all the problems they have had and what they are trying to avoid, they only speak about where they are going and how they are going to get there. Avoid negativity and find the positive in every situation first and only talk about the positive which will eliminate any appearance of negativity.

HOW YOU SAY IT

Contrarians are never the leader – they are the outliers. There are many times you may not agree with something, or have a differing opinion, which is how creativity and growth are often generated. But how you deliver the message is the difference between someone who is considered a leader and someone who is branded as not supportive of the company’s goals. The best way to offer a new idea that may not be in alignment with others’ thinking is to present it as a “brainstorm” by starting off the introduction with something like, “I don’t know if we’ve ever looked at it this way, but what about the possibility of…”, or “These are really important and great ideas, can we brainstorm for a moment here?”. Avoid blurting your disagreement directly out for risk of alienating others in the room. Remember, it is possible that your ideas have been explored in the past and were overlooked or avoided for some reason you are not aware of.

Don’t take it personally if others don’t like your ideas every time. Remember, it takes a village, so do your best to contribute AND collaborate when it’s time for you to support someone else’s ideas that are being adopted.

HOW YOU LOOK SAYING IT

Even if its casual day, a put together look is key. No matter how crazy their morning was, leaders never come in and talk about chaos in their lives, they just manage it. If others view you as unable to manage yourself to be where you need to be and looking ready, you won’t be the one they choose to be a leader. Always putting your best self forward will ensure others view you as a leader at all times. Leaders don’t make excuses, either. They take responsibility for what they do, where they are and their outcomes. They embody this by making it to meetings and appointments on time, dressed appropriately and being organized and ready for the meeting or conversation. Traffic doesn’t keep them from being on time. Their kids don’t prevent them from getting somewhere they need to be when they need to be there. They get it done, consistently and build confidence in others by being reliable and dependable.

Wondering if you are on the right track?  Look at people in the hallway – are they making eye contact with you?  Are they saying hello?  Do the big bosses know you by name?  Take the lead and greet others as they pass you in the hall; introduce yourself in the elevator to someone you know that may not know your name. Leaders are natural connectors, too – introduce others you are with to the people you are meeting to take the lead and position yourself as a leader.

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The Lion – 5 Top Tips To Lead Like A Lion

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 9, 2015 in Building Confidence

Lion2It really is a jungle out there in the business world. Finding the right people for the job can seem near impossible sometimes and therefore retaining and improving the people you have has become so important. So with this in mind, here are some top tips to be the best possible leader, taking after the leader of the animal kingdom and making your roar count.

Round up the pride

As a leader it’s your job to bring your team together. Make sure each member of your pride is working well together and most importantly all working towards the same goal. It’s no good if half the team is chasing one gazelle and the other half are making plans to chase another halfway across the savanna.

Get everyone pumped

Just like the pre-game speech before a match, a good motivational roar can really get your employees on the same page and motivated to do their best for the company. Make sure people know what they’re fighting for and why.

Know your obstacles

Throughout the business kingdom there are many branches, pot holes and obstacles that could trip you up on your way. If you know what these obstacles are, how they might affect you and when, you’ll be able to make a plan of action so you and your team can leap over these with ease. Then if something does go wrong, you have the solutions in place to put it right and your staff will stay motivated.

Get your roar right

It isn’t the loudest roar that is listened to, it’s the roar that explains both positive and negative results in a clear way. As a leader you must ensure you’re communicating with your staff on every level so no one is left behind and everyone understands what they’re meant to be doing, what they’ve done right, what’s gone wrong and how to prevent this happening in the future.

Know your pride

A good leader knows what gets the team going. This means as a group and on an individual basis. Uncover what motivates them, what their goals are, what their values are and how they currently feel about the team. Employee assessments can help with this, as a way to ask employees the right questions and come out with the ways to help employees develop and succeed.

Being a leader in the world of business requires thorough communication throughout the whole journey from briefing to following up with useful feedback. Most importantly, a leader needs to understand the values of the business and ensure everyone understands and shares these.

So good luck all you leaders out there and keep retaining and developing your staff to be the best for your business.

This Guest Post was contributed by Terry of Collingwood Search.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Firefly – Lighting Up The Jungle With A Video Contest!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 6, 2015 in Building Confidence, Thinking Positive

Hey you! Yes, YOU! Do you love your job? I sure hope you do..

Just like the firefly lights up the jungle with its brilliant glow to let everyone know how great they are, YOU CAN TOO.

The Merito Group is launching a nationwide video contest! It seems as though a lot of people just go through the motions and check the box at their 9 to 5. However, there are some people out there who truly love what they do and we want to celebrate that. Light up the jungle and make a 60 second video telling us and the world why you love your job!

Hopefully by seeing how much other people enjoy their work it will encourage others to see the positive in any situation. After all, enthusiasm is contagious! #ILOVEMYJOB

Prizes such as a $500 Amazon Gift Card, Go Pro, and $100 Starbucks Gift Card will be offered to the best videos! Find out more at www.facebook.com/meritogroup or visit http://www.meritogroup.com/ilovemyjob/.

Ilovemyjob

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The Expedition – Trust In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 26, 2015 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement

ExpeditionOur office has recently seen many individuals make significant employment changes from one large company to another; leaving behind the teams they built over the last 5-10 years for the unfamiliar terrain of a new executive position filled with fresh faces to groom and lead. The conversations about how the new role is going seem to center around a common theme – the first priority of building a new team that they can trust. This begs the examination of what is really the definition of trust.

Webster’s Dictionary says, trust is the “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective.” Wikipedia offers a social definition as when the “trustor” is willing to rely on the actions of another party (“trustee”).

It takes time for people to build credibility with each other. You must exemplify trustworthiness in order to receive it from your team and build your own trust in them. Consider these 5 tips for making a daily effort towards building your leadership trustworthiness offered by Jennifer Miller from SMARTBLOGS:

  • Get to know people’s minds and hearts.
  • Keep promises.
  • Maintain confidences.
  • Ask, “How are you doing?” Then shut up and listen.
  • Back your people up.

Jennifer stresses as her first point that building and promoting your team’s skills is not enough, you also need to understand their motivations. Recognize the underlying influences that drive your team beyond the technical so that you can better position them for success in the group, and in their career path. This will solidify your team’s confidence in your abilities as a leader. Ask your team members what gets them to work in the morning beyond salary and social aspects.

Equally important is keeping your promises, both positive and negative. Creating a track record of consistency will allow you to ask the same of your team. Nothing erodes trust in a leader faster than broken promises and false hope. Be especially careful about assurances that could be undone because of a lack of information or support from senior leadership. It will be viewed by your team as a significant weak point in any future promises you make no matter how much they trust you.

Get to know your team and their individual personalities to maintain confidences. Your team’s observance on how you treat privileged information about them builds, or destroys, a foundation of trust in what they are willing to share about themselves to you. This can extend to simple praise and criticism where one employee may not mind being corrected or complimented in public and another may prefer to receive any feedback in private.

In this age of technological progress where communication is faster than ever, people seem to have less and less time to truly listen. This is especially true the further you are in your career. Asking how someone is doing and then being able to take the time to truly listen to the response is very rare. Schedule time on your calendar for members of your team to discuss ideas and concerns with you to avoid only half listening while writing an email or having to cut them off to rush to a meeting. Making yourself available to be able to respond with your whole attention will help you develop a deeper relationship with your team.

To err is human and to pass the blame is the mark of a team’s shaky confidence in its leader. If the team makes a mistake, correcting that mistake in the work product should take precedence over whose individual fault it is. If the fault is yours, own it. Even if your only mistake was not catching the error before the project was submitted. When your team is comfortable knowing they won’t have to waste time and energy constantly covering their own rears at the expense of the team’s cohesion, they will be able to get back to business more quickly after a minor slip-up. A single team member can be coached in private if they are the source of reoccurring issues.

Trust must be built over months and years but it can be shattered in an instant. Maintaining trust requires continual investment in the leader-employee relationship. Show your trustworthiness by getting to know your team personally to position them for success, keeping your promises, maintaining confidence, and really listening to and backing your group is the fastest way to develop a team that you will be able to trust. In the wild Job Search Jungle, your team may be your only hope for survival so make sure the trust you build can get you through any obstacle.

(http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2015/03/10/building-trust-its-not-a-one-and-done-deal/)

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Travelers In The Jungle – Set Your Goal To Become A Great Networker in 2014

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 30, 2013 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement

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Boots
Taking a hike in the Job Search Jungle can be a daunting experience, but there are so many people to meet! Put your best foot forward and make your 2014 goal be one of confidence in networking.

Many people find networking a very painful exercise. Why? It exposes us at our deepest level of vulnerability. Executives who are accustomed to controlling a meeting with an agenda can find networking a paralyzing experience because they are planners who have yet to master living in the moment.

One sure fire way to master these skills is to make a plan that you can execute in any situation. In preparing for my upcoming Networking Know How presentation at the National Education Association Leadership Summits in January and February, I found this great article by Shane Parrish, (Farnam Street) on TheWeek.com highlighting Robin Dreeke’s book: It’s Not All About “Me”.

Here are the top 10 points from the book:

1. Establishing artificial time constraints – The first step in the process of developing great rapport and having great conversations is letting the other person know that there is an end in sight.
2. Accommodating nonverbals – You want to look nonthreatening. Smile and make eye contact. How you shake hands matters too – match the strength of the other person.
3. Slower rate of speech – Speaking fast may mean you’re excited, but speaking slowly gives you more credibility.
4. Sympathy or assistance theme – If you’re like most people, you’ve felt a bit of regret when turning down someone seeking help. As human beings, we are biologically conditioned to accommodate requests for assistance.
5. Ego suspension – Put the other individuals’ wants, needs, and perceptions of reality ahead of your own.
6. Validate others – through mindful listening, demonstrating thoughtfulness and honestly understand the other person’s point of view and then build upon that base with your ideas that are not contrary but rather complimentary.
7. Ask … How? When? Why? – Open ended questions require detailed answers; generating two way conversation as opposed to a simple yes or no answer.
8. Connect with quid pro quo – Giving a little information about you will help you engage someone who is either very introverted, guarded, or both
9. Gift giving – This is conversational reciprocation in action. The key is to do this without an agenda. If you have an agenda you’ll come across as insincere.
10. Manage expectations – Underpromise and overdeliver- The surest way to avoid disappointment is to meet expectations.

Purposefully networking to advance your own professional needs is paramount to your success. Mastering the art of networking know how where there is a two way reciprocation and development of a meaningful relationship takes time. Establish trust, be available to others and don’t put your own needs first and your network will ultimately pay off in spades.

So get out there and network!

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The Squirrel – Bargain Hunting in the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 15, 2013 in Building Confidence, Career Path

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Squirrel2As the holiday shopping rush starts, it has dawned on many that the New Year is now just a few short weeks away. It’s that time of the year to grab a moment and simply take stock of what you’ve done well this year, what you want to improve upon for next year, and set goals. Most importantly, it’s resume update time!

Many people don’t take the time to update their resumes annually which creates a monumental chore when you suddenly need it (job change, promotion, bio, etc.). As we all rush through the malls and stores on Black Friday trying to get in the bulk of our Holiday shopping, think about another way you will be able to save during this season. Instead of wracking your memory for accomplishments from the previous 5 or ten years and taking days or weeks to pull your polished resume together when it is needed, make updating your resume a part of your holiday list. It is so much easier to keep things in perspective and keep track of what you have contributed year over year if you have an annually designated time to update. This year’s accomplishments might not be as significant as next year’s but it can become more difficult to remember details of projects as your work evolves. Making note of these things every year will save you time and worry. Time is money, so save yourself both by being prepared.

Just as squirrels collect and store nuts so they’ll have food to last through winter, you can stockpile your accomplishments in your resume every winter. TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME is a convenient source for you to download from Amazon.com with real life examples of how to organize your resume in order to find the PERFECT JOB. A good job description with your specific accomplishments listed under each role showing what you have made, saved or achieved will give future readers of your document a great picture of not only what you have done but what you can do for them if they hired you. Use numbers, specifics, percentages, etc. to quantify your contributions. Definitely note any special awards or accolades you may have received.

Try answering these questions:

  • What change occurred in my company this year and how was I involved in that?
  • How has my department and/or role evolved this year?
  • What were the major projects I worked on and how did they affect the division/ company’s performance?

Year end is also time to make sure you have completed your necessary CPE (continuing professional education). If you have earned licenses, keep your continuing education current so you aren’t scrambling to find classes that will meet your needs at the last minute.

The squirrels who have gathered the most nuts will be prepared for any kind of winter, so follow their example and you won’t have to go nuts to catch up!

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The Alpha – Projecting Confidence In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 4, 2012 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement

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Zoosemiotics is the study of animal communication; any intentional behavior on the part of one animal that has an effect on the current or future behavior of another animal. Examples can include sounds such as bird calls or tail-wagging in dogs.

When competition is fierce in the jungle, you have to project confidence using effective communication techniques. In the job search or workplace jungle, this doesn’t mean marking your territory or baring your teeth. It can be as simple as being conscious of how you would like others to perceive you when you speak. Combine refined speech with confident body language in your communication to give you the alpha edge.

Cara Hale Alter, author of The Credibility Code: How to Project Confidence and Competence When It Matters Most (www.thecredibilitycode.com), offers these tips (taken from the Costco Connection):

Keep your head level

Speak with optimal volume

Hold eye contact for three to five seconds

Keep your hands in the gesture box

Avoid using fillers or uptalk

Visit the original article (link above) or www.thecredibilitycode.com for more tips on how to project confidence!

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The Elements of the Sea – Traversing the World of First Time Employment

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 16, 2012 in Building Confidence, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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There are few things more terrifying to a 20-something than entering the world of “real” employment. You’ve obtained your degree, put in the classroom hours, stayed up late in the library, written that final essay, and walked that final trip from campus to the ever-looming “real world”. While the working world has always been a challenging aspect of growing up for young adults throughout the year, 20-somethings today face several new (or seemingly new) challenges. With a job market that values experience, an economy struggling to survive, and a youth society burdened by hefty student loan debt, the waters of the “real-world” are turbulent and harsh at times. Many new graduates are either struggling to find work and struggling to stay afloat in the working world. That being said, the waters of new employment don’t have to be overwhelming. As an educated, intelligent, and passionate young professional, you are equipped with the wits and ability to swim the employment sea—and even enjoy the waves.

Jumping In

The first step to succeeding in the world of first time employment is to fully commit to the process. The water might be cold and uninviting in many ways, but you’ve got to just jump right in. Throw yourself out there. Send out endless resumes. Network with everyone you can. Make the job search your first full time job. Trust me—you’ll succeed eventually. Once you land that first “real” job, dive in head first once again. You have to commit. Your first position may not be that dream job you’ve always wanted, but it is a start. Commit yourself to completing the best work you possibly can. Diving in full force will help you make the most of your experience. Try not to be the reserved and timid new kid. Take charge (in the appropriate ways of course) and own your work.

Head above Water

As a first time employee, it can be easy to feel in over your head at times. Just as swimming in the big waves can be scary the first few times, a new job can take some time to find your footing. But, never underestimate your ability to stay afloat. Those first few weeks at a new job can be a struggle. You’re meeting new people, learning new tasks, familiarizing yourself with new procedures—it can be a lot to take on. Even more so, new grads have the added challenge of being new to the employment waters completely. It will take some time to feel comfortable among the waves and choppiness, but you’ll eventually find your way past the break.

Going with the Motions

As a newbie employee in the workforce, things can be choppy at first. The working world isn’t going to be exactly like college. But, even with the changes and challenges, you are well prepared to succeed with your professional pursuits. Think about the things you did in college to succeed and translate those pursuits to your professional life. Your drive, motivation, brains, and goals drove you to succeed in school—and will drive you to succeed in a career as well. While making flashcards and staying up all night in the library may not be the right plan of attack anymore in the working world, that dedication is still essential. You’ve got to learn to go with the motions when you enter the working world for the first time. Things are going to be different. Think of it like this—college was like swimming in the Gulf and the professional world is jumping fresh-faced into the Atlantic (it’s a different pond). Learn to go with the motions. Don’t fight to try to do things the same way you always have. Sometimes you’ll have to let yourself just move with the waves and learn as you go (and with some help).

This guest post was contributed by Samantha Gray. Samantha is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about career advice for college students. She enjoys spending time with her various pets, reading poetry, and traveling to off-the-beaten-path countries and regions. She welcomes questions or comments at samanthagray024 @gmail.com.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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