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The Quagmire – Limits of Unlimited Leave

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 3, 2016 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

quagmireWhen a company uses an unlimited leave plan to attract people, what’s really going on behind the scenes is a culture that drives the highest performers higher and enables lower performers to fall by the wayside into a professional quagmire.

Webster’s dictionary defines quagmire as: “an area of soft, wet ground: a situation that is hard to deal with or get out of: a situation that is full of problems.”

Companies who have this policy are generally known as high performing companies. Top spots are competitive and expectations are high. Work assignments are distributed to those employees who have proven themselves as reliable, dependable and willing to put in the extra time necessary to get a job done on time and within budget. High performing professionals do an excellent job of prioritizing work and combining that with balancing their personal lives, vacations and family commitments.

Lower performers choose personal life over work, and work to live, not live to work within a balanced framework. Employees who are seemingly unavailable are often passed over for both prime assignments and promotions which often leads to them being laid off or let go for circumstances that are actually easy to avoid.

Having a clear and complete understanding of what the employer’s expectations around deliverables is the number one contributing factor to an employee’s success and to prevent themselves falling into a performance quagmire they most likely cannot emerge from.

Use your performance review process to clearly identify and establish what both meeting and exceeding expectations looks like with your supervisor. Use common language and have both qualitative and quantitative goals that both parties agree to in writing. Avoid using generalizing terms like always or regularly and replace them with terms like daily weekly or monthly which are clearer for both parties.

Should your supervisor change, having these in writing to discuss with your next supervisor will ensure a smooth transition and allow as a starting point for discussions around their expectations as your new boss.

Remember, there is no free lunch, and unlimited leave does, in fact, have limits. Meeting expectations is good, but exceeding them is great.

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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 Howling Sessions – How To Communicate Effectively With Your Colleagues

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 10, 2016 in Self Improvement

HowlingWithin the Job Jungle, plenty of animals work in packs. Wolves, monkeys, many kinds of birds – all of these rely upon group coherence to survive. And the most successful packs are the ones which can work together effectively. In order to work together, pack animals need to be able to communicate clearly and well, without conflict or confusion. If you want to join one of these successful packs, you, too, will need to demonstrate these exemplary communication skills. Here’s why communication is important, and how you can improve your working communication skills.

Without Effective Communication, There Is Chaos

Every company, and everyone working within a company must balance the needs of the collective with the needs of the individual. Humans are social animals, and a large part of our brains is given over to working with others. However, we’re also individuals, and our own individual needs and desires often clash with the needs and desires of others in the group. When this happens, conflict occurs. In most cases, conflicts within organizations work to the detriment of the organization as a whole. Conflict can sometimes be an essential precursor for necessary change – but in order for this to be the case, the conflict needs to be framed within civilized communicative boundaries. On a lesser level, failures to communicate effectively can result in tense working environments, frustrations, and even damage to the fabric of the company. A surprising amount of insurance claims result from people misusing equipment etc, simply because what they were supposed to be doing and how they were supposed to be doing it had not been communicated effectively. In order to create and preserve constructive working relationships, companies need people who are good at both talking and listening. If you can prove that you’re good at communicating, you’re more likely to get the job than someone who’s otherwise highly qualified but can’t communicate as effectively as you.

Listening

When people think of ‘communication’, they tend to think of chatter and words. However, a huge part of what makes someone an effective communicator is their ability to listen. This doesn’t just mean staying quiet while someone else talks – your mind really needs to be on what they’re saying, absorbing their words, and considering the implications of them. Listening is as much a character trait as a practical skill. If you’re the kind of person who decides on their line and sticks to it whatever the other person says, you’re not really listening, however much you ostensibly hear their words. Chances are that you’re using the time while they’re talking to think up counter-arguments, rather than critically and open-mindedly assessing what they’re telling you. Listening well does not necessarily mean agreeing with your co-converser. But it does mean giving their words a chance. It’s also worth noting that good listeners tend to be more respected and liked than those who are less skilled at listening A good listener will:

  • Not talk over other people. Don’t interrupt, and don’t finish their sentences for them. If you really feel the need to engage while they’re talking, do so through non-verbal cues like nodding and smiling.
  • Encourage the speaker. They won’t display disinterest or frustration. They will signal that they are interested and focused and wish the speaker to get their point across.
  • The listener will not let their attention stray from the speaker, either visibly or invisibly. They will concentrate on what the speaker is saying, and let their meanings fully sink in.
  • The listener will do their best to understand and empathise with the other person’s point of view. This does not necessarily mean agreeing with them – simply appreciating where they’re coming from, and the experiences or considerations which have led them to this viewpoint.
  • Be patient. Sometimes it can take a while for speakers to get their point across. A good listener will have the patience to wait this process out and remain engaged throughout, even when they feel that they know where the speaker is going.
  • Listen to volume, tone, and body language as much as words. Non-lexical cues can tell a good listener a lot about what the speaker is really saying, and add a valuable dimension to their comprehension of the speaker’s point of view.
  • Work out the bigger picture. Rather than snatching isolated soundbites, a good listener will try to look at the bigger picture which the speaker is painting.

Speaking

Speaking is, obviously, another aspect of effective communication. To properly engage with your colleagues, you will need to be able to talk to them in an equable and clear manner. People who can’t make themselves clear through speech, or whose speech isn’t received well will not be as able to get their ideas or points across as well as they might, which can cause conflict-creating frustrations. Nor will they be as able to make friend and form effective team bonds. If you wish to be a good speaker, try thinking about the following things:

  • The pace of your words. Often, if we’ve grown up with our words marginalized, we may speak in a rush to try and get our points out before someone else speaks over us. There is no need to do this. If someone speaks over you, that is a problem with their listening skills – do not make it become a problem for your speaking skills. Pace your speech comfortably, so that people have time to absorb your words, and you don’t come across as desperate, harried, or panicked.
  • The thought behind the speech. Don’t launch in without thinking first about what you’re saying, and the implications of that. One well thought-out piece of speech is worth a thousand vague and inconsequential words!
  • Get to the point. While a good listener will stick with you while you go off on tangents and beat around the bush, it’s still best to avoid doing this as much as possible. If you’ve thought out what you’re going to say, you should know the point you’re trying to make. Get to the point while talking, and don’t waste unnecessary words. You can explore avenues arising from your point in ensuing conversation.

Also – be yourself. Ok, so we’ve just told you to control what you’re saying, and now we’re telling you to ‘be yourself’. What if the ‘real you’ speaks quickly, beats around the bush, and doesn’t think before they speak? Don’t worry – you can still be the genuine ‘you’ while taking care to make your speech clear and concise. Simply make sure that you’re staying true to your own ideas, and keep your mannerisms and tone natural. People appreciate and will listen to someone with integrity – and staying true to your own self is a great way to demonstrate integrity.

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

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 Sick Parrot – Why You Should Take Time Off If You’re Ill

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 25, 2016 in Lessons Learned

Parrot2The parrots are one of the most beautiful and lively features of the jungle. Always active, always cheering, always loud and colorful, the parrots provide joy and inspiration for the other animals. Unless they’re sick. The sick parrot is a marked contrast to his healthy fellows. Rather than flying around the treetops in streams of wild colour, he sits on a branch, feathers ruffled, shoulders hunched, looking thoroughly miserable and making everyone who sees him miserable as well. If he retreats to a safe perch and rests until he feels better, the sick parrot does not impact upon the life of the jungle too much. Often, however, sick parrots try to hide their illness so as not to appear weak. This rarely works out well for the other parrots. If the sick parrot tries to fly with the other parrots, he’s likely to disrupt the aerial display, infect his fellows, and add a distinctly duff note to jungle proceedings. The sick parrot is a great exemplar of why, despite our yearnings for productivity and excellence, we really should take time off to recover if we’re sick.

Infection

Time taken off for illness is, it cannot be denied, a big issue for many companies. It results in lost productivity, and sometimes on claims to the company’s health insurers, which can prove to be an administrative headache. However, most companies are far more concerned about people faking sickness in order to get time off than they are about genuinely sick people staying home from work. If your boss seems to have a bit of an attitude about sick leave, it’s probably because they’re worried about people faking it rather than an actual desire to force people to work through sickness. Indeed, if you’re genuinely sick, the majority of bosses would probably rather that you stayed away. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons, top of which is probably the risk of infecting others. If you’ve got some horrible virus, it’s better that you stay away and keep your germs to yourself rather than passing them around the office. Better to have one person sick than to have twenty people sick – that’s basic common sense! There are things that can be done to reduce the risk of infection (good hygiene practices, for example) – but there’s only so far that these can go. In general, the best way to prevent a workforce from succumbing to viral infections is to isolate the initial carrier at home, and stopping them from exposing everyone else to the virus.

Motivation

You may feel well capable of working through your sickness, and you may well be right. However, if you’re not feeling 100%, you’re unlikely to be able to act 100%. You may be tired, moody, dull. You are likely to be quite ‘down’, and this can correspondingly bring the mood of the entire workplace down along with you. If people are stepping on eggshells around you because you’re irritable, or worrying about your state of health, or simply absorbing your low energy and feeling lethargic themselves accordingly, productivity is likely to diminish. We all have bad days, and we all sometimes find ourselves bringing the workplace energy and vibe down, but if the reason you’re doing so is because you’re ill, it’s probably better to phone in sick until you feel well enough to perform at your optimum. Better to lose a day or two of work from one person, than to diminish everyone else’s productivity exponentially.

Image

If you’re working in a customer-facing role, or interacting regularly with clients, it does not present a good corporate image if you’re obviously ill. If you’re sniffling, sneezing, bleary, or in pain, customers will not be left with a positive image of the company. This doesn’t mean that you have to be perfectly beautiful, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed in order to do your job – but it does mean that you’re better off working when you’re capable of summoning some enthusiasm and positivity. Which, as we all know, is pretty hard to do when you feel like crap! Stay home and get better rather than leaving clients and customers with an image of a sickly company!

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

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 Deciduous Forest – Question of Quality

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 8, 2016 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

Forest2The job search jungle includes all biomes and species that are all indicative of Carolyn’s vast experience in her field. My name is Cammy Cohen, and as a summer intern at Merito Group I feel I am qualified to speak metaphorically on only one ecosystem. I have chosen the Temperate Deciduous Forest because of its seasonal changes. Unlike the Tropical Rainforest, which has the same temperature and weather patterns from season to season, my summer, winter, spring, and fall are all very different. I am currently a student at Virginia Tech and love being a Hokie. In Blacksburg, everyone is wearing maroon and orange on game day and you can order pizza bigger than your face until 2am. I want to share my glimpse into the professional world and my view as a college student. I truly cannot express my gratitude enough to Carolyn and everyone in this office for investing in me and immediately making me feel like part of the team!

People are always taken aback by the fact that I want to be a recruiter. It seems to be a job that most just people find themselves in rather than set out for as a career. I suppose I am the exception to my perceived rule but so far, I believe this is the right path for me. I believe recruiting is an incredible use of my marketing degree. I don’t just want to market products, I want to market people’s skill sets and ambitions. I want to bridge a company’s needs with what my candidate wants, and market my firm in the process. I want to help people with the next step in their career by reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. But above all, I want what everyone should want from their career- to feel passionate about the work and to know that it has significance.

In the summer months the warm temperatures and ample sunlight harbor the growth of lush vegetation in the forest. In my current position, I am learning and growing as a professional every day. I am currently on a project with one of our clients who is a large government contractor. I am part of a team conducting the initial screening process of many diverse individuals every day.

My peek into the recruiting world has been a fantastic experience thus far, but not without falters in confidence. What I struggled with most was understanding the reason for implementing specific metrics- or why we have metrics at all. My idealistic view of recruiting was focusing on the candidate’s potential, finding the perfect job, and then making a “happy every after.” I was spending upwards of 10 minutes with candidate running through a conversation that should take no longer than 5 and stumbling through the computer software. I was reassured that I was still just learning, but that I wasn’t meeting my metrics meant that I wasn’t doing my job. This weighed on me and made me ask the question “at what point does quantity override quality and does this signify the nature of the industry?”

One day, after staying late in the office I asked this question to two of my colleagues. The question that had been nagging at me every time I opened my underperforming excel sheet. Both of them seemed surprised. My project deals with a high volume of candidates and they assured me I would get the hang of it. But that wasn’t what was concerning me; I wanted to know if this was truly representative of recruiting. They told me they felt the metrics kept them on track and was a fair, quantitative way to monitor progress. I left feeling unsure determined to understand the balance.

The next day I came back a new intern determined to streamline my efficiency without sacrificing the quality of my candidates. I found the best way to navigate the software and strived to keep my conversations concise and meaningful. Everything from this point on has clicked (which is the reason I have time to write this, might I add.) My point here is that everyone was right, I just needed to see it to believe it. So my first lesson has been learned- in a corporate environment there are quantitative standards you are required to meet but the true value of a recruiter is bringing quality alongside those metrics.

This Guest Post was contributed by Cammy, our fabulous summer intern! To see if Cammy has a position for you, apply here: Merito Group Career Opportunities

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The Polar Bear Cub – Life Skills For Graduates

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 15, 2016 in Career Path, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

Polar BearThe hope of many college seniors is to quickly land a post-grad entry level position with their first choice company, doing what they majored in, with a competitive salary, and opportunities for professional development. The reality is quite different for many hopefuls.

A polar bear mother spends a few months of the year in a den with her newborn cubs. When the cubs are larger and stronger, they are able to leave the den and walk around. The cubs are glued to their mother’s side for the next few months playfully imitating her hunting habits in preparation for later life. For life after college, many graduation seniors are woefully unprepared as they leave the protective den of their alma mater.

Carolyn Thompson of Merito Group, and author of Resumazing – Ten Easy Steps to a Perfect Resume, touched on some of the more significant challenges that the 2016 class of graduating college students face when they begin to look for job opportunities in her interview with David Rawles, host of Career Solutions Radio.

You can listen to the interview here.

One of the most underused resources on a college campus, Carolyn points out, is the career center. Many students don’t even know where it is and once you graduate, its resources will no longer be available to you. The career center can help you figure out your value proposition and connect you with employers hiring for the skills you have. They also have information on employers that recruit on campus most frequently. While you are still near the den, utilize the resources available for you.

The worst thing that many students realize at graduation is that they did not get any work experience at all and have nothing on their resume. “Any job is better than no job.” Carolyn says. You are developing a history of reliability and dependability by having a regular responsibility outside of school. You can also volunteer or take an unpaid internship to get experience and references. For instance, if you are working in a bar as an accounting major, the bar is still a business that has to do bookkeeping and taxes. Volunteer doing small tasks for them if you are having trouble finding a job in your major or field. Take a lesson from the polar bear cubs and get the experience you need before graduation without the stress of needing the skills to survive.

For all of you graduating seniors in the Metro DC area, APPLY HERE.

To help prepare in the next couple of months before graduation while you are still warm in the den (besides a visit to your career center), spruce up your resume with these tips from Carolyn:

  • Make sure your contact information on your resume is accurate. Typos in your email and cell phone number are very common mistakes.
  • Include at least your zip code in your contact information. Locality can play an important role in certain positions and your resume might not come up in searches.
  • Add a description of the companies you worked for (i.e. public or private, number of employees, revenue – whatever is relevant to the industry).
  • Bullet point your accomplishments outside of your job description so they stand out and set you apart – what you made, saved, or achieved in the role. All polar bears are white to blend in with the snow, but here you need to standout!
  • Write your skills together on your resume so they are easily found and can be reviewed quickly. (Technical skills, licenses, etc.)
  • Make sure the skills you include are relevant to the job you are applying for. Saying you have your real estate license takes up space if you don’t need it for the job.

(Editor’s tip – if you worked through a temp agency, remember to note that on your resume so your employer can check your background more efficiently)

For those young entrepreneurs out there: Carolyn tells a story of a young person who ran his own lawn care business in college. LISTEN HERE to find out how she rewrote his resume to help him land a position as a financial analyst after graduation.

One thing to note for your job search, Carolyn mentions, is that small to mid-size companies have more flexibility in a single position to allow you to learn and do more.  A lot of grads are attracted by marque name companies, but they might not get to do much in the role in such a large organization.

In the interview, David Rawles asks Carolyn about what she thinks is the biggest myth that many students may be thinking as they enter the workforce. Carolyn replies that some people think their first job dictates their future, but this is not the case. If you don’t land your dream job right away, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen later. Many people don’t get the job they thought they wanted and even those who do get their first choice may realize that it’s not for them and change. There is more than one ice floe in the arctic!

For more information about Career Solutions Radio with David Rawles click here.

-Lindsay Sellner, editor

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The Beasts – How To Crack An Interview In One Of The Giants In The Industry

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 5, 2016 in Interviewing Skills

EagleGetting an interview call is one thing and being successful is another thing. Everyone who has appeared for an interview knows this. It is a dream come true for anyone who successfully cracks an interview in one of the giants in the industry and start a career in Microsoft, Google, etc. We can always compare the competition involved in getting a job to that of the ways of the jungle. You need to be a powerful or a cunning one according to the situation and pounce on the prey (read job opportunity) at the right time.

Here this article will provide a view on how an interviewee can behave like a beast of the jungle to prey on a job opportunity with success. Are you going to be an opportunist or force your way to the job? Let us look at some of the ways how you can achieve it:

Be a juggernaut like a rhino

When it comes to interviews you will need to just focus on a certain goal and move rapidly towards it. In other words you need to be a juggernaut and sweep away all other candidates with your expertise. You cannot be viewed as a weak one when interviewing for one of the biggest companies in the world. They are going to grill you with some of the toughest answers that you will come across. So you need to move forward fast and without backing down.

Roar like a lion

Interviewers are going to intimidate you with some of the toughest problems and you need to let them know that you are the best suited candidate for the job. Just as the roar of a lion is distinguishable from the rest, which makes it king of the jungle, you will need to voice your skills loud enough (metaphorically) to let the interviewer know that you can do the job perfectly. Let them know that you are going to be majestic in your field.

Be cunning like a fox

Sometimes force simply does not work; you need to be careful, cunning and dodgy like the fox. If you are asked questions that seem complex, think before answering and be clever (innovative), which will give you an edge over the other candidates. Remember sometimes you will even need to dodge an answer if you are not too sure and this requires skills which you can acquire by preparing well for the interviews. Check out the type of questions that have been asked in the past and prepare accordingly.

Swoop on an opportunity like an eagle

Sometimes you will be given a hint or a glimpse that the job is yours for the taking but the interviewer is expecting more from you. In such cases you should know when to make the swoop and let him know why you are the best person for the job with clear reasons and how you are going to be successful. Good candidates know when to make the kill for the job. In simple they know when to give the right answer and how it will count.

Move fast like a cheetah

In a modern workplace, the candidates need to be fast-paced and easily adapt to the situations around them. You will also have to be a fast-learner as the competition is rising and professionals have to keep abreast of the latest technologies. These are things that the interviewer also look for in a candidate while offering them the job.

Overall you will need to be a powerful beast of a candidate to force your way into the job, when you are interviewing for a position in one of the best companies in the industry

This Guest Post was contributed by Hasib. Hasib is a professional writer working with one of the top job sites in India. He often writes articles related to interview preparations and also helps professionals in making their career decisions. He is an avid reader and passionate about the beautiful game of football. Reach him @ twitter, Google+, LinkedIn

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 Competition – Surviving Competitive Workplaces, The Natural Way

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 25, 2015 in Career Path, Self Improvement

CompetitiveCompetition in the workplace is nothing new and if you cannot make your mark in it, you are going to lose in the long run. There will always be someone looking to fill your position and will try all methods to get ahead of you. Doesn’t it sound a bit like the jungle? Yes, a competitive workplace is like a jungle, where everyone competes with each other for their survival.

You will find the strong cats in there sneaking upon its prey, bullish elephants pushing ahead of everyone and the sneaky reptiles slithering its way, biting anyone that challenges them. A competitive workplace is sometimes a good thing for an organization to get the employees motivated and productive. But as an individual you may feel that this is all too overwhelming.

As nature is the best teacher, we can learn a lot from nature about adapting in the cut-throat competition that is seen in some workplaces. Here are some of the acts that can be attributed to the likeness of surviving in a jungle, which will help you to get ahead of the competition:

Survival of the ‘skillest’

This is in analogy to the popular concept of “survival of the fittest” put forward by the great naturalist, Charles Darwin; which states that the fittest always survives and moves forward in the evolutionary ladder. In a competitive workplace, to be fit means to have the skills necessary to remain an important part of it. You will have to learn new skills whenever necessary in order to step up the corporate ladder, as skills are the only determining factor that will make you stand out of the rest. Take time out to learn new skills that you think are connected to your industry. There are various online courses nowadays that help one to gather new skills at your convenience.Just like squirrels hoarding nuts for the winter, you will understand that hoarding skills may help you in the future; if you ever have to face that allegorical ‘winter’ of your career.

Evolve to adapt

I will give you an example of the Darwin’s finches here. It is a group of finches which shows highly developed beaks to adapt to the different environments they live in. If you feel that remaining the same person in this competitive workplace is not going to help you, then you should know that it is time to evolve into something which no one is expecting. Be unpredictable and along with the new skills that you might have learned as mentioned above, you will become an eye-turner. Today’s world is dynamic and change can happen any moment. You will need to learn to evolve in accordance to the environment you work in.

Mimicry

You may not be aware of the fact that corporate culture is developed upon the theory of mimicry. What is meant by when one says we have a typical work culture? So where did this work culture actually start from? It all started one face at a time from emotional contagion. Emotions are highly contagious and before you realise anything, you are mimicking the posture of the person in front of you to receive his attention. Someone smiles, you smile back unconsciously; this is what mimicry is all about. You can use this mimicry in order to survive a competitive workplace. In nature, animals mimic their surrounding in order to not arouse any suspicion among the preys or attackers. Even though it is not highly recommendable, you can always mimic your way to be accepted in a working environment.

Pounce upon opportunities

In a competitive workplace there is no place for chivalry. This may come hard but it is true. Just like in the jungle where every moment is a struggle for existence, a competitive workplace is a continuous struggle for leapfrogging ahead of others. No big cat is chivalrous enough to give a deer a head start. If you are the deer in this environment, you will be wiped out of the workplace’s existence.

Remember to pounce upon any opportunity to show that you are superior and that your work is valued. Volunteer to do things that no one else does and gets noticed by the right people in your organisation. If you let others do it, you might have well lost one great opportunity to show your competence.

Territory master

What happens when a dog enters into the territory of another dog? All hells get loose and the second dog viciously protects his territory. No, I am not asking you to bite or kick anyone; just learn to protect your territory (aka position). If anyone tries to give a challenge to your position, use your experience and the skills to know who the alpha-professional is.

You can no wonder learn a lot from nature and if you use the lessons provided by nature to get the most out your professional life, you can cruise smoothly through all the competition. Instead of going through job sites to get out of the competition, try following the tips mentioned above.

This Guest Post was contributed by Hasib. Hasib is a professional writer working with the job portal –naukri.com and often writes articles related to career and education. He is an avid reader and lives for two things – football and food. If he is not involved in any of those, you can find him contemplating existential issues. Follow him @ twitter, Google+, LinkedIn

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 Cat – Herding vs. Teamwork

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 11, 2015 in Executive Coaching

Cat3You may have heard the phrase “managing [x group] is like herding cats.” While a group may exist with shared goals it, like the territorial cat, may not collaborate as a high performing team even if they are familiar with its members. The essence of high performing teams is collaborative independence and participative leadership but the wild cat, while independent, is not known for its teamwork.

All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. Next time you find yourself herding cats in a group, use these characteristics of cohesive, high performing teams:

  • Members of a high performing team have complementary, yet unique, skills.
  • The team as a strong group identity which can be underlined with special names or methods of identifying the group (such as uniforms/shirts/pins/Internet groups).
  • The members maintain a clear understanding of both the importance of the work, their individual role, and how it relates to overall goal achievement.
  • Members have the authority to act autonomously and with discretion to complete their necessary tasks. This doesn’t mean they aren’t supervised, rather it means they are properly empowered to take risks.
  • Members believe success is achievable as a group and are individually passionate about the results and accountable for their own performance.
  • Members treat each other with respect and sidebar conversations that are dissenting or subversive to the goal.
  • Underachievement, or social loafing, is not tolerated in the team. They establish minimum standards for performance or level of effort and members who are deemed ineffective or disruptive are eliminated.
  • They set their own goals, rules, schedules and norms for behaviors and follow them.
  • Use democratic decision making and leadership is participative.
  • Evenly divide the work space and level of effort.

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The Woodpecker Approach: Importance of Persistence during Job-Search

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Mar 10, 2015 in Job Search

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The job-search jungle has long been ruled by members of the cat family. Power and ability to dominate being the foremost reasons, of course. However, there have been sufficient anomalies to prove that securing the most desirable job is not only the prerogative of those having power or resources. It is quite as much within the reach of other members too.

Your job-hunt might have been moving forward on the ‘ideal’ lines, but you aren’t finding returns favorable enough, right?

Well, that does force you into a deep introspection about things that might have gone wrong. Yes, speculating is a human tendency and so is getting hopeless.

An Ivory-billed Woodpecker stands as a great example in such a case. Boring nests in the tree trunk with a short and narrow beak, clearly indicating that with due persistence in one’s kitty, everything is achievable. The Woodpecker might find the tree trunk hard enough to penetrate with a timid beak, but driven by sheer will-power, the incessant taps never go in vain. That’s pretty much what you need to imbibe at the moment. Giving up on a job application and resting your case won’t land you in the workstation you desire. However, the spirit of not giving up definitely would!

Yes, you need to give calls repeatedly, drop messages on LinkedIn, follow the same process with a multitude of recruiters, find referrals and meet people, in short- you’ll have to be an opportunist from the get-go!

Here are some subtleties you can work on and be pleasantly persistent to land in your dream country job.

 

  • Have a Concrete Reason for Contacting

The Woodpecker doesn’t tap the wood without a reason. It cares to bore a nest and is putting all its energy towards it. Likewise, you need to have a specific reason to contact a person during this process. ‘I’m just calling to follow up’ often sounds like a phrase stemming out of formality.

During your first contact, an introduction from a mutual acquaintance or because you read an article the person wrote, come across as legitimate reasons. Once you form a connection, an update on some prior discussion could be the reason to drop a call or schedule a meeting.

 

  • Try and Schedule the Next Few Steps

A key-mistake most of the job-seekers commit after getting a recruiter’s attention is leaving the follow-up, up in the air. Always try to schedule the next chat or meet-up. The least you can try is to get permission to reach out again, within a certain timeframe.

In case you’re given a specific advice to follow at the first instance, reconnecting to give an update on what you did is also a worthwhile idea.

 

  • Be in Touch with Multiple Professionals Rather than One

A Red-cockaded Woodpecker often prefers staying in a group of up to nine during the breeding season. Obviously, the power of a network holds due significance in nature’s every element.

Similarly, you can be in simultaneous touch with more than one personnel in an organization. If you targeted professional isn’t responding, try connecting with someone else.

Always avert being cynical about a person who isn’t being responsive and make sure you don’t spam an entire company.

 

  • Being Explicit Would Work

Chipping off wood, flake by flake is how it goes about building a nest. Yes, perfection does lie in the details and that’s exactly what you need to keep in mind during your job-hunt.

Sometimes, it might just happen that the above strategies don’t work despite your best efforts. Such a situation demands for you to give the person a good enough reason to talk to you and give you a share of his valuable time.

This has worked on multiple occasions and has led the person to apologize for being unreachable. Going into the details and being explicit in your approach makes it hard for someone to believe that you’re annoying. Usually a last-ditch effort, but using this tactic more than once might not be a lucrative avenue.

It’s simply not enough to appear in an interview and waiting to hear back. Employers look forward to people with drive, passion and will-power to secure a job. So, arm yourself efficiently to go the extra mile. Results will surely be in your favor.

This Guest Post was contributed by Anshuman Kukreti.  Anshuman 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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