Great employees spend the majority of their time helping other people succeed: Their company, their employees, their customers and vendors and suppliers... the list goes on and on.
Great employees also spend some time helping themselves succeed, both for "selfish" reasons and because their success creates success for others.
To succeed you must stand out from the crowd. Here are 6 great ways:
Be first with a purpose.
Lots of employees, managers, and business owners are the first to arrive each day. That's great, but what do you do with that time? Organise your thoughts? Get a jump on your email?
Instead of taking care of your stuff, do something visibly worthwhile for the company. Take care of unresolved problems from the day before. Set things up so it's easier for employees to hit the ground running when they come in. Chip away at an ongoing project others ignore.
Don't just be the one who turns on or off the lights – be the one who gets in early or stays late in order to get things done. Not only will your performance stand out, you'll also start to...
Be known for something specific.
Meeting standards, however lofty those standards may be, won't help you stand out.
So go above the norm. Be the leader known for turning around struggling employees. Be the owner who makes a few deliveries a week to personally check in with customers. Be the manager who consistently promotes from within. Be known as the employee who responds quicker, acts faster, or always follows up.
Pick a worthwhile mission, then excel at that mission. People will notice.
Create your own side project.
Excelling at an assigned project is expected. Excelling at a side project helps you stand out.
The same applies for a business owner. Experiment on a new process or service with a particular customer in mind. The customer will appreciate how you tried, without being asked, to better meet their needs, and your business will become "that business."
Put your muscle where your mouth is.
Lots of people take verbal stands. Few take a stand and put effort behind their opinions.
Say you think a project has gone off the rails; instead of just pointing out its flaws so you can show everyone how smart you are, jump in and help fix it.
Everyone talks about problems. The people who help fix them stand out.
Show a little of your personal side.
Personal interests help other people to identify and remember you. That's a huge advantage for a new employee or a company competing in a crowded market.
Just make sure your personal interests don't overshadow professional accomplishments. Being "the guy who does triathlons" is fine, but being "the guy who is always training and traveling to triathlons so we can never reach him when we need him" is not.
Let people know a little about you; a few personal details add colour and depth to your professional image.
Work harder than everyone else.
Nothing – nothing – is a substitute for hard work. Look around: How many people are working as hard as they can?
The best way to stand out is to out-work everyone else.
It's also the easiest way, because you'll be the only one trying.
How To Survive In a Competency Based Interview
Lets face it, competency based interviews are tough. Competency based interviews are being adopted by many companies as a more in-depth way of assessing a candidate’s suitability for a particular role. The questions may be intentionally difficult and will demand that you provide examples to back up your experiences. The interviewer will look to obtain specific examples of when and how you demonstrated particular behaviours. The employer’s philosophy is that these past examples will display how a candidate will behave in the future.
Preparation for these interviews is vital, particularly if you have not interviewed recently. These interviews will not only highlight you as an individual, but will also show the employer how you cope with stress and challenging situations. Only those prepared will be successful.
Dissect the job spec, highlighting the key skills needed from their ideal candidate. Generate examples from all aspects of your life: work, voluntary involvement, education and personal projects, ensuring they are relevant to the job role you are interviewing for. Try to think of relevant examples.
When explaining your answers, consider adopting the STAR approach. It is an excellent communication technique designed to enable you to provide meaningful, structured and complete answers to their questions. At the same time, it has the advantage of being simple enough to be applied easily to any example. The information will be produced in a rational manner and, as a result, your interviewer will be more receptive to the messages you are trying to communicate.
Step 1 – Situation or Task
Describe the situation that you were confronted with or the task that needed to be accomplished. With the STAR approach you need to set the context. Make it concise and informative, concentrating solely on what is useful to the story. For example, if the question is asking you to describe a situation where you had to deal with a difficult person, explain how you came to meet that person and why they were being difficult. If the question is asking for an example of teamwork, explain the task that you had to undertake as a team.
Step 2 – Action
This is the most important section of the STAR approach. It is where you will need to demonstrate and highlight the skills and personal attributes that the question is testing. Now that you have set the context of your story, you need to explain what you did. In doing so, you will need to remember the following:
What you did and how you did it
The interviewers will want to know how you reacted to the situation. This is where you can start selling some important skills. For example, you may want to describe how you aided the team to achieve a particular objective and how you used your communication skills to keep everyone updated on progress etc.
Why you did it
For example; when discussing a situation where you had to deal with conflict, many candidates would simply say: “I told my colleague to calm down and explained to him what the problem was”. However, this does not explain WHY you did this. How did you ask him to calm down? How did you explain the nature of the problem? By highlighting the reasons behind your action, you will make a greater impact. For example:
“I could sense that my colleague was irritated and I asked him gently to tell me what he felt the problem was. By allowing him to vent his feelings and his anger, I gave him the opportunity to calm down. I then explained to him my own point of view on the matter, emphasising how important it was that we found a solution that suited us both."
This revised answer helps the interviewers understand what drove your actions. It reinforces the feeling that you are calculating the consequences of your actions, thus retaining full control of the situation. It provides much more information about you as an individual and is another reason why the STAR approach is so useful.
Step 3 – Result
Explain what happened eventually – how it all ended. Also, use the opportunity to describe what you accomplished and what you learnt in that situation. This helps you make the answer personal and enables you to highlight further skills.
This is probably the most crucial part of your answer. Interviewers want to know that you are using a variety of generic skills in order to achieve your objectives. Therefore you must be able to demonstrate in your answer that you are taking specific actions because you are trying to achieve a specific objective and not simply by chance.
· Be specific and personal. The interviewer wants to see how YOU respond to situations.
· Try to think of genuine examples. Make sure you know the outcome of the example you are using, as this is the focal point of the interview.
· Explain your answers logically and justify your actions.
· Arrive at the interview unprepared. It will show, and the interviewer will lose interest very quickly.
· Assume the interviewer knows what you are talking about. Go into some detail and explain your responses concisely and coherently.
Be yourself, and GOOD LUCK!!!!
A Comprehensive List of Major DONT's When Applying For A New Job
As you can imagine, working as a recruitment consultant I see all sorts of applications from people all around the world. Some clearly take their applications seriously, taking due care and attention over the process, ensuring the information they are conveying is clear, concise and......TRUE! Others, sadly, do not. I've compiled a list of common faux pas that I come across on a daily basis from potential employees, points that if you take heed of, will optimise your chances of getting that much needed interview!
First things FIRST:
1. DON'T put the wrong information out there.
Wondering why the phone isn't ringing? I've had countless applicants put incorrect telephone numbers and other personal information on their CV. How am I supposed to contact you if I don't have the correct number? ? This also makes me wonder what kind of candidate you are if you can't even get your own information right.
On that note also consider offering alternative modes of communication. Only providing me with an e-mail address seriously limits my ability to contact you. Make sure this is a professional email address, as opposed to email@example.com, as this doesn't send the right message. If you have to, establish a work related e-mail that you specifically use for job hunting.
2. DON'T think we don't use social media.
Recruiters use social media as an excellent tool to assess candidates. If you're job hunting, it would certainly be worth adjusting your privacy settings on your Facebook account, so potential employers can't see photos of you asleep in the gutter last weekend. Also, I've said it time and time again, GET A LINKEDIN PROFILE!!! This is such an excellent professional outlet, where you can not only job search, but have colleagues reccommend you. This also creates a great level of transparency, and it generates an excellent professional presence for you online. A MUST!
3. DON'T put whimsical information on Job Boards.
I've come across many a candidate who has put nonsensical information on their job board profile, which definately doesn't put you in a great light. If your ideal job is to be "emperor of China", I'm unlikely to even consider looking at your CV as it's clear you're not taking job hunting seriously. Also, we see the salary brackets you offer, so if you say you want £65k when you're only on £14k, you're going to find it tough to move on from McDonalds......
4. DON'T sling out a generic CV and cover letter to EVERY job.
We can tell if you're doing this, as often there will be an incorrect job reference or a delivery of skills that aren't relevant to the role. This lack of attention is certain to get your CV neglected. If you're serious about a job, take the time to be precise in your application, hone in on the job spec and make sure your CV fulfills the criteria of the role. If you're not doing this, your CV will be too generic for every role you apply to - and you are unlikely to get interviews lined up.
5. DON'T apply and forget about it.
Again, if you are serious about a role, then follow it up several days after your initial application. We get, literally, hundreds of CVs coming through every day. Don't you think it's worth shining some light on your CV, and standing out from the crowd?
6. DO NOT NEGLECT SPELL CHECK!!!
This is free on every single Microsoft Word package. I have very serious concerns with any CV that isn't spell checked and has poor grammar. This a such a basic element which is greatly overlooked by so many candidates, and it speaks VOLUMES about a potential candidate. If you are too lazy to take the time to review you CV, spell-check it and re-read to make sure it makes sense, then you are probably too lazy to hold a job down for any consistent period of time. If you're having trouble composing a CV, check out our handy CV writing tips.
We are in a digital era where there are so many outlets at your disposal with regards to finding yourself the perfect job. Make sure you're using every single one of them to your advantage to promote yourself professionally. Also make sure you are devoting time to job hunting, as these things can take time, but with patience, and taking heed of the above comments, you can at least guarantee you are giving yourself as much ammunition as possible to land that dream job!
Written by Ashley Sinclair, Recruitment Consultant at Agile Talent Management
Top tips to get your CV and looking clean and professional
Some people think that writing a CV is easy. However, for a lot of us that aren't seasoned recruiters we can finding compiling a concise, professional CV extremely taxing. Why? They take a long time to get right, but with these handy tips and embracing the notion that you need to be confident in articulating your skills, you're sure to have the jobs lining up.
Tips and Ideas that will greatly improve the transparency of your CV:
Written by Ashley Sinclair, Recruitment Consultant at Agile Talent Management
Hiring the right people is critical for any business but especially for a small company with relatively few employees. Hiring mistakes not only waste time and money, they create a ripple effect that impacts other employees and your business.
Here are five hiring mistakes you absolutely must avoid:
1. Thinking you can change a leopard’s spots. All employees typically must follow company rules and guidelines, whether formal or unwritten. Still, some people can’t — or won’t. The outstanding salesman with the incredible track record of generating business and terrorizing admin and support staff won’t immediately play well in your sandbox just because you hired him. The kid who works Dracula hours fueled by Mountain Dew and Cheetos won’t magically transform into a model Mr. 8-to-5. For some people the work itself, and how they perform that work, is what matters most — not the job. Don’t think you can change them.
Instead: Two choices: One, decide you will accept the total package. If you desperately need revenue you might decide to live with the proven sales superstar’s prima donna behavior. Or letting the valuable programmer work nights may be okay even if everyone else works day hours and communication will be less than optimal. But if you’re not willing to accommodate or compromise, pass. There is no middle ground.
2. Hiring for skills rather than attitude. Skills and knowledge are worthless when not put to use. Experience is useless when not shared with others. The smaller your business the more likely you are to be an expert in your field; transferring those skills to others is relatively easy. But you can’t train enthusiasm, a solid work ethic, and great interpersonal skills — and those traits can matter a lot more than any skills a candidate brings. (According to this Leadership IQ study, only 11% of new hires fail in the first eighteen months due to technical skill deficiencies.)
Instead: If in doubt, always hire for attitude. A candidate who lacks certain hard skills is cause for concern; a candidate who lacks interpersonal skills is waving a giant red flag.
3. Selling your business. You absolutely need employees who want to work for you. That’s a given. But never try to sell a candidate on your company. Why? 1) Good candidates have done their homework; they know whether your company is a good fit, and 2) You skew the employee/employer relationship from the start. An employee grateful for an opportunity approaches her first days at work much differently than an employee who feels she’s doing you a favor by joining your team.
Instead: Describe the position, describe your company, answer questions, be factual and forthright, let the candidate make an informed decision… but never sell. The right candidates recognize the right opportunities.
4. Hiring friends and family. I know: Some successful businesses look like a perpetual family reunion. Still, be careful. Some employees will overstate a family member’s qualifications when making a recommendation. Their heart may be in the right place, but their desire to help out a family member doesn’t always align with your need to hire great employees. Plus friends and family see each other outside of work, too, increasing the chances of interpersonal conflicts. The smaller the company, the greater the potential impact. And one more thing: Two brothers in a five-person business may just wield more effective power than you.
Instead: Either set up an appropriate policy, like “no family members in the same department,” or do an incredibly thorough job of evaluating the candidate. In general establishing and following a policy is the cleanest solution if only because you will never appear to favor one employee’s request to interview a friend over another.
5. Ignoring intuition. Nothing beats a formal, comprehensive hiring process — except, sometimes, intuition. Always weigh impressions against qualitative considerations. And feel free to run little “tests.” I always took supervisory candidates on an informal tour of our manufacturing areas. Sometimes employees would interrupt to ask a question; I stopped because employees always come first. A candidate who appeared irritated or frustrated by the interruption was a cause for concern. Same with a struggling employee, say one who got behind while stacking boxes. I would naturally pitch in while still talking to the candidate. Most would also pitch in, some self-consciously in an obvious attempt to impress, others naturally and without affect. (It’s easy to tell who automatically helps out and who does so only because you’re watching.)
Instead: Let your experience and intuition inform your hiring decisions. And don’t be afraid to conduct your own tests. A classic is the waiter test: How someone interacts with a waiter (or anyone in a position to serve them) is often a good indication of how they will interact with your employees. You know the intangible qualities you need in employees; determine a few simple ways to see if a candidate has or lacks those qualities.
Bottom Line: If in doubt, cross ‘em out. Everyone makes hiring mistakes, no matter how hard they try. Never put yourself in a position to look back and think, “I knew I shouldn’t have hired him…”
Ashley Sinclair is a recruitment consultant for agile talent management, a leading digital recruitment brand based in the UK
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