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The Harvest – Taking Stock

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 5, 2011 in Career Path

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In the retail jungle, the holiday shopping season is traditionally followed by yearend inventory counts.  On the farm, it happens right after the harvest. As professionals, we should also conduct our own yearend inventory and update our resumes with our most noteworthy accomplishments of the year. 

As illustrated in my book, TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME, you want to have a good description of your company, role, and primary responsibilities as well as a brief list of your most significant accomplishments. Accomplishments are separate from your job description, what you or anyone else would be doing in your position, and they are what most set you apart from others. Accomplishments are details about what you made, saved, or achieved that are special. Relevantly describe how they, and your role, relate to the overall company structure.  Include projects you designed, led through development, and took to completion.  Describe initiatives you were involved in on a team or awards and recognition you received that show you went above and beyond the call of duty.

When describing your accomplishments it’s important to use numbers, percentages, or other quantitative descriptions to show your contribution to your role and the company as a whole. You may have found budget cuts of 10% that increased company profits by $50,000, or you led a software implementation that created efficiencies in reporting and reduced your monthly close by 2 days.  Whatever your situation, show the metric, or key performance indicator (KPI), that you affected through your outstanding performance.

Some people have a hard time bragging about themselves, so try answering these questions as a start:

    • 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?

Your answers should spur your train of thought about what increased or decreased and what your part was in that change.

This process can also help you with your goal setting.  Perhaps, after you see your accomplishments on paper, you’ll realize there is a fundamental intellectual challenge that you are lacking or something you really wish you had been involved in that would have offered you personal and/or professional growth. 

Even if you are content with your current role and/or employer and not considering a job change next year, it’s important to keep your resume up to date.  Companies change over time, people take on more responsibility and taking stock of the harvest at the end of the year will make it much easier to update your resume when you do need it. Remember, your resume should be an accurate reflection of the experience that you intend to carry forward, not everything you have done, so choose your examples wisely.

Related Article: Setting Goals

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The Fittest – Self Improvement and Survival

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Feb 1, 2011 in Building Confidence, Job Search, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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There’s much we can and should learn from the animal kingdom, with the most significant lesson being that only the best survives to see another day. A lioness chasing a herd of wildebeest across the African plains knows that it’s the slowest of the lot that she has to target. A mongoose may not seem to be much of a match for a cobra, but it holds its own and emerges a winner because of its quick reflexes. When two male animals lock horns over a female of the species, the stronger and wilier one wins both the fight and the female. An ant may be an insignificant creature, one which we stomp on without a second thought, but it is clever enough to hoard food for times when it is scarce.

We can go on and on about the wonders of the animal kingdom, about how creatures that have no sixth sense seem to have much more common sense than humankind. However, what would be more useful is if we took a leaf out of the books of these creatures and applied their wisdom to improve ourselves and our way of life. You’ve probably heard of the “Survival of the Fittest” postulation (no, it was not Charles Darwin who put this forward as most people believe; British philosopher Herbert Spencer coined the phrase based on the theory of natural selection that Darwin explained in his book On the Origin of Species) – here, fitness does not refer to just physical strength alone, but also to mental acuity and the ability to adapt to change and go with the new flow instead of trying to fight it.

So based on this, what can we learn from the animal kingdom that helps improve ourselves? Looking at wildlife, we see that the species that adapts is the one that survives and evolves. Improvement is all about evolving and changing with the times; it is a combination of striving to achieve your personal goals within the constraints that restrict your life.

You could choose to improve yourself professionally and/or personally; the improvement can be on your terms, and constitute what you perceive to be necessary to make the quality of your life better and boost your inner satisfaction. Animals adapt naturally without applying thought because they’re instinctive creatures – put them in a zoo away from their natural habitats and they soon get used to their new surroundings if climate and other conditions are not too different from what they’re used to; keep them as pets at home and they become accustomed to your lifestyle.

Human beings however, must apply thought and planning in order to improve. Self-improvement can be achieved by adapting to your environment, playing to your strengths, and playing down your weaknesses. In order to improve, it’s important to take stock of your life, of your temperament, and of all the things that don’t satisfy you, within you and in your life. Think of what you can to do bring about a positive change in these aspects, and focus on doing these things. Self improvement is all about choosing good habits to follow, and working hard to inculcate these habits into your daily life.  

This guest post is contributed by April Davis, she writes on the topic of Accredited Degrees Online . She welcomes your questions and comments at april.davis83 @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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The Adaptation – Interviewing Skills

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 9, 2010 in Building Confidence, Career Path, Executive Coaching, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

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Last month, I had occasion to work with Walter Bond on a project where we were working with unemployed people from all walks of life. With over 20 years of experience in executive search and coaching, I was amazed by Walter’s ability to read people. As a former NBA player and entrepreneur, Walter meets a lot of people in his world and he can spot a poser from a mile away.

Many Americans are unemployed. Our goal that day was to work with a few people who were really struggling to hone their resumes, interview skills, personal appearance, and approach to their job search. Let’s face it; the world doesn’t owe us a living. Some of the people had advanced degrees; some were taking on line coursework towards a degree. As I worked one on one with each person, listening to their stories of getting laid off or fired, it was those people that were open to change that struck me as the ones that will really succeed after being given assistance.

I was amazed at how many people had such poor interviewing skills. One lovely woman had a strong background in bookkeeping and told us she loved it, but when asked what kind of job she was looking for answered, one that works with children. Another woman, with an advanced degree who really wanted to work in program management, had chosen to pursue work as an executive assistant in the hopes that she would land a job with an executive that would see her talents and ultimately chaperone her move her into a similar role.

Those that are willing to adapt and change will find new jobs. Finding new ways to attack a chronic problem is the only way out of a rut. If you’re one of these people, consider how you are answering interview questions. Over the next few weeks we will dissect basic interview questions a few at a time so the next time you are faced with the tough challenge, you will have the basic training to give the appropriate answers and succeed in getting the offer!

Carolyn Thompson

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