7 trends to watch in the New Year

2014 trends.

By Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder

The U.S. economy experienced its share of ups and downs in 2013. Yet as the year comes to a close, the economy is showing signs of improvement that should continue into 2014. The housing sector is rebounding, the stock market has hit new highs, consumer spending is up and unemployment is at its lowest in five years. Even with these positive indicators, the debt issues in Washington will continue to play a role in impeding a more accelerated jobs recovery.

Employers are cautiously optimistic that 2014 will bring a stronger job market, but they aren’t ready to commit to upping their staff until the outcomes of debt negotiations and other issues affecting economic expansion are clearer. While we’ll need to wait until these issues are resolved to know the full impact they’ll have on employers’ hiring plans in the New Year, job seekers should pay attention to the following seven trends shaping the 2014 job market, identified in CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast.

1. Full-time, permanent hiring stalled
The uncertainties surrounding the debt ceiling will cause employers to be more guarded in their plans to hire permanent staff in 2014. Twenty-four percent of employers expect to hire full-time, permanent workers – down from 26 percent last year – yet one in ten is still undecided about recruitment plans. Nearly one in four employers will hire at a slower rate or will hold off on headcount expansion until the debt ceiling is resolved in the first quarter.

Sales will lead the way in positions employers will most need to fill in the New Year, with 30 percent of hiring managers planning to recruit full-time, permanent employees for sales-related roles. Information technology is close behind, at 29 percent, followed by customer service (25 percent), production (24 percent), administrative (22 percent), engineering (17 percent), marketing (17 percent), business development (17 percent), accounting/finance (15 percent), research/development (13 percent) and human resources (10 percent).

2. Companies relying on temporary and contract hiring 
A trend that has been growing post-recession is for companies to turn to contract and temporary help to meet their hiring needs. This allows them to have flexibility in their workforce, so that as market demands change, they can dial up or dial down staffing as needed. Forty-two percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers in 2014, up from 40 percent last year. Of these employers, 43 percent plan to transition some temporary employees into full-time, permanent members of their staff.

3. Part-time hiring on the rise
Companies will also rely more on part-time employees in the New Year. Seventeen percent of employers expect to recruit part-time workers over the next 12 months, up three percentage points over last year. While various factors will influence this trend, 12 percent of all employers stated that they will likely hire more part-time workers in 2014 due to the Affordable Care Act.

4. STEM occupations continue to grow
As the U.S. continues on its path of economic recovery, there are certain occupations that will be a driving force behind the rebuilding and strengthening of our economy. The technological innovations, new products and discoveries that come from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations help fuel economic growth and keep the U.S. competitive in a global marketplace. These occupations, which have been a major focus in the past several years, will continue to remain center stage, with more than one in four employers (26 percent) planning to create jobs in these areas over the next 12 months.

5. Skills gap widening
While the growth of high-skill, specialized occupations is a positive sign for the economy, human resources managers are struggling to keep up with the demand to fill these jobs. Looking at a subset of HR managers, 51 percent said they currently have positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates. Forty-six percent said these positions go unfilled for three months or longer.

Companies have come to realize that if they wait for the perfect candidate, he or she may never come, so they’re putting more emphasis on training and development to help shrink the widening skills gap. Nearly half (49 percent) of employers plan to train people who don’t have experience in their industry or field and hire them in 2014, up 10 percentage points over last year. Twenty-six percent of employers are sending current employees back to school to get an advanced degree – and covering all or some of the expense.

6. More companies “onshoring” jobs
The U.S. government has strongly supported initiatives to bring jobs back to America as a way to spur U.S. growth. It looks as though the push for more “onshoring” is proving fruitful: 23 percent of companies who offshore jobs said they brought some of those jobs back to the U.S. in 2013. What’s more, 26 percent plan to do so in the next 12 months, indicating that this is not just a passing trend.

7. Compensation more competitive for specialized and in-demand positions
In order for companies to find and retain the best talent, they’ll need to offer competitive compensation, especially for in-demand or hard-to-fill positions. Sales and IT – the top two positions companies plan to hire for in the New Year – are also where employers expect to provide the biggest salary increases. When it comes to high-skill roles, 26 percent of employers plan to raise starting salaries for these specialized positions in 2014.

Looking across positions within an organization, 73 percent of employers expect to increase compensation for existing employees – on par with last year – while 49 percent will offer higher starting salaries for new employees – up from 47 percent last year.
Employers are continuing to proceed with caution with their hiring plans as they head into 2014. Yet, as the economic issues plaguing Washington play out over the next few months and employers find their footing, there is greater potential for the average monthly job creation in 2014 to exceed that of 2013.

The do’s and don’ts of turning a holiday gig into a permanent job

iStock_000030319642XSmallAs the year wraps up and companies look to finish the holiday season strong and turn to the New Year, seasonal employees are helping companies handle the heavy workload in a number of industries and areas, like customer service, shipping/delivery, inventory management, administrative/clerical, sales, marketing and accounting/finance. These workers also have the unique opportunity to vie for permanent positions. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 49 percent of U.S. employers who are hiring seasonal workers plan to transition some into full-time, permanent staff.
How can you turn a holiday gig into a permanent job? Between the survey findings and expert advice from career coaches, we have plenty of ways to point you in the direction of permanent employment and keep your career on track.
DO let the employer know your intentions
More than half (53 percent) of employers said that you should let the hiring manager know up front that you are interested in a permanent role with the company. It will set you apart from other candidates. If you don’t come to this decision until closer to the actual holidays, though, there’s still time to share your interest. Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli, a professional résumé writing and career services firm, recommends pitching why you’d be a great addition to the team. “This proposal should not only clearly communicate what you want but also address the company’s needs head-on,” Terach says. “Your reader should get a crystal clear picture of how you’ll be spending your time, what it will cost them and what you hope to accomplish that will help the company solve a particular problem or to take advantage of an untapped opportunity.”
DON’T come in unprepared
Whether you’re coming in for an interview or want to make a good impression on your boss, know the company’s history, mission and services or products offered. One-third (33 percent) of employers tend to dismiss candidates who know nothing about their company or products. Make sure to check out the company’s website and recent news announcements. Also browse their social media pages.
DON’T focus on the discount
While a store discount may be strong motivation to work with a particular company or brand, don’t let that be your only reason for applying to the company — or your answer when the interviewer asks why you’re interested in joining the team. Thirty-nine percent of employers are turned off by candidates who seem more interested in the discount than the job opportunity. Wait for the employer to bring up the discount if one is available.
DON’T show up in a competing brand
Along with understanding the company’s background, services and products, know who the competition is and why. This will help you sidestep a major faux pas in the interview or on the job, as one of the biggest pet peeves for 18 percent of hiring managers is a candidate who comes to the interview wearing clothes or other merchandise from a competitor’s store.
DO provide good customer service
One of the most effective paths to becoming a full-time employee is to act like it. Whether you’re offering good customer service, noticing problems before they become problems or helping other employees, being a strong part of the team is a good way to stay a part of the team. Fifty-nine percent of employers said proactively offering help instead of waiting to be asked for it is a great way to differentiate yourself.
DO go above and beyond
If you want the employer to consider you for a permanent job, two in five hiring managers recommended asking for more projects (46 percent) and offering up ideas (44 percent).“For example,” Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” says, “If it is a seasonal retail job, show how you have generated additional revenue by creating a new pipeline for customers. How? By reaching out proactively to drive customer traffic through organizations and/or activities you may be involved in. Sending a note to members of your church or synagogue, the PTA, etc. When you generate incremental revenue, not what anyone else would have added just by being there, you show that you have made a difference. That is what retailers are looking for in order to justify adding a new person to the payroll.”
DO express a long-term interest in the company
Don’t fret just yet if there isn’t room for you to join permanently. Cohen says, “If a position is not available right now, one might be at some point soon. None of us can predict the future but I do know with certainty that organizations evolve…people leave, business improves, new initiatives are planned. Organizations appreciate having strong, proven candidates in the pipeline when these opportunities become available.”

The Differences Between Cover Letters To Hiring Managers And Headhunters

cover letter recruiter hiring manager differences
A reader asks, "What are the differences between a cover letter to a recruiter and one to a hiring manager? Do you make the same points?" Good question, the simple answer is that while the overall structure and intent of the letter is the same:
  • Sell to the customer's needs as you understand them
  • 2-5 paragraphs
  • For a printed document never more than one page
  • For an email the same points apply, with your strongest selling points visible on the initial screen view of the page, with minimal scrolling beyond
  • Legible 11or 12 point sans serif font (the font has none of those touchy-feely curlicue touches that only Kindergarten teachers are authorized to use)
A hiring manager has one very specific set of needs and the better you can understand those stated needs, and what is behind them, the more effectively your cover letter can speak to your ability to address them successfully. When you do this, it will establish relevance, arouse interest and build a bridge for two professionals to discuss a common interest.
Writing to a headhunter is a more complex issue. S/he represents a range of hiring managers and their interests, and is also keeping an eye out for interesting candidates for a wide range of past and potential future clients.
Many times when you will write to headhunters with no job opening in mind, but because they specialize in your profession/work. You hope they will introduce you to companies and hiring managers of whom you have never heard.
In these instances you obviously cannot sell yourself to one specific set of needs. Instead you will...
  • Introduce yourself as someone qualified for a certain type of job
  • Address the skills and capabilities you bring to that work
  • Identify the industries in which you have experience
  • Identify the types of companies in which you have worked and been successful

If you are writing to a headhunter about one particular opening, you can address it in the same way as you would with a hiring manager. However, if you have a range of skills that qualify you for other openings, it would be wise in a closing sentence to reference that wider range of skills and to which jobs they might apply they might apply.

How having a bad boss can teach you management skills

Dissatisfied manager
By Gretchen Barton, writer for National Association of Sales Professionals

Unfortunately for the American worker, management skills are not always taught in the way they should be. Many books and articles have been written on the subject, but most management skills are most powerfully taught on the ground, experientially. As a result, new managers, for better or for worse, often just mimic what their former managers did when they were under their charge. Many an employee has been subject to a difficult manager, and while these experiences are certainly unpleasant, they’re also learning opportunities for those who wish to avoid the mistakes of those who have come before. Here are some habits inspired by bad bosses of this author’s past to avoid practicing in management.

Being overly controlling: Managers who enjoy their status can often be overly controlling. Whether it’s micromanaging their subordinates or creating impossible rules to follow, being overly controlling can discourage workers who are self-motivated, hamper creativity and create a culture where all employees become overly dependent on managers to do their job.
Can’t admit mistakes: Albert Einstein once said that “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” If Albert Einstein believes that mistakes are necessary, certainly managers can make mistakes. And they will make mistakes. It’s only human. But it’s wrong for a manager to not admit when he’s made a mistake. Mistakes happen, but not admitting them sets the wrong example.
Double standards: Managers who give out mixed signals by saying one thing and doing another only frustrate and confuse their staff. When the one rule of thumb is, “Do as I say, not as I do,” you can be sure that double standards are in place. Managers with double standards often model the very behaviors they want to eliminate in their staff, from being late to work to being a workplace gossip to failing to continually improve and strive for excellence. Managers have the privilege of setting the tone at the workplace, and if the tone is positive, the workplace will reflect that.
Punish the good, reward the bad: Along the lines of the double standards principles, managers who are often intimidated by their better employees will find ways to punish and ultimately bully their best workers. At the same time, managers will reward their worst workers. Why? Because punishing the good and rewarding the bad is a way for managers with low self-worth to feel better about themselves. It’s also a way to destroy a business.
Certainly, managers play an important role in creating a business culture which is positive, growth-oriented and stimulating for the workers they are supervising. While management skills are often picked up from managers who have come before them, new managers have an opportunity to take the management skills they’ve learned and consciously use them or discard them based on whether or not they are skills which grow a healthy business.

Interview Tip No. 1: Send thank-you notes

Those few moments after an interview ends can be a rush of emotions and thoughts. “Nailed it! Glad I brought in my portfolio. How crazy that I went to the same school as that manager! Why did I tell that corny joke?” But among the whirlwind of thoughts, be sure to remember one thing:
Thank-you Note58 percent of employers say it’s important to send a thank-you note after an interview. 24 percent say it’s very important.
If almost two thirds of employers expect this final step in the interview process, you definitely don’t want to pass on this last opportunity to shine. Keep these tips in mind when it comes to thank-you notes:
  • Recap the highlights of the interview. In your note, thank the interviewer for their time, mention a specific part of the job or interview you connected with, reiterate your interest in the position and close with, “I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks,” and sign your name, including your contact information again.
  • Don’t wait more than 24 hours to send your thanks. While a card and envelope may be more elegant than email, it’s important to send a timely message while you’re still fresh in their mind and before they make their decision.
  • Thank-you notes are a good idea for other work occasions, too. If a mentor takes you out to lunch, you connect with somebody at a networking event or a friend helps you with your résumé, the gesture will be appreciated.

How to Break Into Biometrics

Specialized degree not needed for biometrics career

Fingerprint on screen in forensic lab
Getty Images
By Maryalene LaPonsie

Cellphone passwords are so passé. With the launch of the iPhone 5s, the new way to unlock your cellphone is with a fingerprint. It is one of the latest -- and most visible -- ways biometrics is going from the realm of sci-fi fantasy to mainstream reality.

Biometrics holds the potential to do everything from enhance national security to improve marketing displays in stores. It's a hot field that isn't going to be replaced anytime soon, meaning there should be plenty of jobs in the biometric field for years to come.

Biometric basics
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, biometrics are biological or behavioral characteristics that can be measured. In other words, biometrics is what allows Facebook to suggest you tag your roommate in that photo on your newsfeed. It also includes voice recognition, optical scans and even the keystroke dynamics of how someone types on the computer.

Despite the recent hype around biometrics with the iPhone launch, it is nothing new. The granddaddy of biometrics is fingerprinting, and the FBI has been amassing a collection of fingerprints since 1924. Even the more high tech biometric applications aren't all that new. Consider that more than 20 years ago, Robert Redford was fumbling to convince a security system "My voice is my passport" as he worked to bypass a biometric system in 1992's minor cult classic "Sneakers."

What is new is the price. While biometric systems were previously so expensive that their applications were limited, technology has advanced to the point where the cost can be comparable to other non-biometric systems.

Christian Petrou is the CEO of RVNUE Technologies, which recently partnered with Korean company Suprema to launch a face recognition terminal that could replace other security measures in luxury high rises. "The price point is similar to key cards," said Petrou, "but biometrics gave us a better way to access control -- it manages [an individual's] identity, not their credentials."

The next generation of biometrics
As far as Petrou is concerned, identifying people is only scratching the surface of what biometrics can do. "Right now, we are scanning faces and fingerprints," he said. "The next step is analyzing that information into a consumable format."

For example, Petrou notes that face recognition systems can actually detect when someone is under duress. That may be as dramatic as having someone with a gun behind him or as subtle as a medical condition such as low blood sugar. With the right programming, a biometric system can read the presence of distress and then notify authorities to check on the individual.

The International Biometrics & Identification Association has identified 15 categories of common applications for biometrics systems. These range from more novel uses, such as identifying cheaters on casino gaming floors and recognizing students eligible for subsidized meals in elementary schools, to more common applications, such as allowing access to buildings and verifying the identity of travelers.

Breaking into the field
To create systems this responsive, workers in the field need to not only understand the tech behind biometrics but the human element as well.

"The analytical information is only as good as the person behind it," said Petrou, suggesting this is an area ripe for women who are interested in breaking into a tech field. "Typically, we see females do very well. They pick up behavioral patterns right away."

To give students the comprehensive skills needed for a career in biometrics, some schools are launching new degrees in the field. As of September 2013, the Purdue College of Technology is now offering a master's degree in biometrics online. Meanwhile, West Virginia University says it is the first to offer a bachelor's degree in biometric systems.

However, a specialized degree may not be necessary, Petrou says. He notes that these programs may lack a strong focus on the business models that are critical to making biometrics work in the real world.

For instance, a retail store might use biometrics to analyze shopper behavior and determine whether a display is attracting customers and converting sales. However, to make this type of system work, one would need a firm foundation in human behavior as well as in technology.

"I can see the course curriculum being psychology, behavioral analysis, forensics and then translating that to tech," said Petrou, when asked what sort of educational background those working in biometrics should have.

In addition, he notes that science fundamentals, IT networking, statistical analysis and even anatomy are important components for every biometric professional to understand.

Double-digit growth in the biometrics market
As an emerging field, there are no hard numbers on employment and average salaries for those working with biometrics.

However, Transparency Market Research says the market for biometric readers is expected to have a compound annual growth of 48 percent, reaching $363 million by 2018. The market for automated fingerprint identification systems is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2015, while the market for facial, iris and voice recognition systems should be valued at $3.5 billion that same year. Both are expected to have growth nearing 20 percent.

For those interested in a career that's ahead of the curve, evidence points to biometrics being an area that will rapidly expand to fill all aspects of life. That wide reach may be some of the best security a job can provide.

Why Older Workers Should Expect Age Discrimination

How to fight back against age discrimination

C539XP Successful business people looking at laptop display in office Wage gap women's payday man; woman; planning; project; com

I got this from an AOL reader:

I am 57 years old. I work in a large company. I am in IT and have had the responsibility of supporting our field staff. I have headed up various projects. I was "key" in the roll out of all mobile devices to personnel. I have had college interns assigned to me to mentor and have done a great job with them. They contact me to this day and tell me how I helped groom them for their current jobs.

All of this being said, we now have new, young management who have realigned our company. I was literally kicked to the curb. My manager was laid-off after 41 years of service. Another long-time executive of 58 years of age was pushed to the side, but eventually retired and went to another company. I was given a "token" position as a business analyst. Since this time, I've literally been twiddling my thumbs. I'd love to jump ship, but at my age, it's difficult. I am high energy. I have always gotten excellent reviews. I have always made myself available to my field personnel. The folks I have supported have only good things to say about my performance and support. I am sick about this turn of events. It's on my mind constantly. Is this the way our careers are supposed to end? I went from being over productive to this? I've heard our president say...think younger. His secretary retired and was replaced with some 25-year-old...speaks volumes. Young is good. We need younger folks to take over. But, like this? This is brutal.

I really cannot retire. I have a small pension, but still have a couple of things to pay off. My home is almost paid off, but I need a few years. I could go on, but it's so darn painful. I'm rambling. I am usually a lot more coherent and professional. If you could offer me any advice, I would appreciate it. I'm reaching out blindly looking for some answers and some guidance.

My first thought upon reading this was...

You Should Have Seen It Coming

It's so hard to point this out to someone who is clearly in a lot of pain, but this is not a new workplace phenomenon. Companies have been restructuring as a way to get rid of older employees they feel are under-performing for decades now. The "retire and get a gold watch" mentality has been gone for a long time now. Anyone who has been at a company more than 20 years these days should be paying close attention to their strategy for keeping themselves employable against younger candidates. The phrase, "out with the old, in with the new," comes to mind. In these situations, "younger" means less expensive and easier to handle. So, if you aren't positioning yourself as irreplaceable (priced right for the value) - then you're at risk of being let go to make room for a younger employee.

NOTE: There are laws against age discrimination that you can research and pursue. However, the process can be costly and take time. So, while you may want to consult with a lawyer, most older workers find it's better to find a way to deal with the discrimination instead.

Tips for Being "Ageless" at Work

If you want to avoid being affected by age discrimination, you need to focus on appearing as "ageless" as possible. Your goal has to be to avoid falling into the "older worker" category. The easiest way to do this is to make it clear you don't act like the traditional older worker they associate negatively with. Here are some tips to help you:

1) Remember, "people hear what they see." That's a famous quote by Doris Day and it applies here. Consider giving your entire look an overhaul. Get some younger family members to help you update your work attire, haircut, make-up, shoes, and anything else about your visual appearance that can make you look dated. You don't have to dress like a 20 year-old, but you do have to dress like a 50- year-old who is committed-looking and feeling young for their age.

2) Spend more time with the young people at work. Strike up conversations with them. Find common interests. (I wrote this article on AOL that maps out a technique to help you succeed at this.) Focus on their hobbies and activities outside of work. In short, show a sincere interest in their lives. Most older workers tend to go to work and leave. They don't want to be bothered by making new friends at the office. Especially with young people who they feel can't possibly understand their lives. Yet, these younger workers could be powerful allies to you. If they like spending time with you, they'll tell management you are great to have around.

3) Stop acting like tenure matters. Whether you realize it or not, you've most likely been giving the impression that the established way of doing things is the right way. A new management team is brought in specifically to get rid of outdated systems and ways of thinking. The moment you start touting the praises of processes and procedures that pre-date them, you're seen as the enemy. Instead, you should assume the first day of the new management team was your first day on the job too. Start looking for ways to improve things and show enthusiasm for the new management team's mission. Otherwise, you will find yourself on the "not one of us" list. (Here's how you could be labeled as "overqualified" by management for acting this way.)

4) Find a problem they need solved ASAP - and then solve it. The new management team wasn't here for all your past successes. It means nothing to them. You need to have new successes as quickly as possible. Preferably, solving a problem or alleviating a pain for the current management team that will show them your value. Try to find out what their main concerns are and then work to identify and fix something that will show your support for their business agenda. That kind of proactive behavior will score a lot of points. It's the exact reason they want young people on board - for their desire to be a hero to management.

5) Start looking for a job while you have a job. All of the above won't guarantee you'll keep your job, but it can help. If you don't feel you can do the above, then you need to start looking for a job immediately. Finding a job while still employed is much easier than finding one after being laid-off. Especially, if you are over 50 years old. Age discrimination is even worse for the unemployed.

Career Accomplishments Aren't Like Retirement Savings

Here's one last thing to consider: as we age, we often assume as we succeed on the job we're putting professional "credits" into our career account. We think that older means wiser - and with that should come some return on our investment. Far too often, I see older workers who feel they should be paid a higher wage and be able to do what they've done for years without having to learn new skills, increase their value, or even push themselves to new levels of career success. They assume if they just do their job and people like them, they'll make the same money and be able to do the same thing for as long as they want. But, that's not the case. Your career isn't like a retirement account where you can live off the interest of earlier investments. You must always be adding to your career account in the form of new accomplishments if you want to stay employable.

Pinpoint What You Were Born To Do

Unpack your strengths and weaknesses

Getty Images

The following is an adaptation from What Is Your WHAT?, the new New York Times bestseller by Steve Olsher. You can now get a free copy of the book at the Whatisyourwhat website.

By Steve Olsher

Mahatma Gandhi. Mother Teresa. Dr. Martin Luther King. Aside from being three of the most revered and influential people of the past century, they had another thing in common: Each discovered their "What," pursued their "What" with strategic abandon and persevered until they provided the benefits of their "What" to those who needed it most.

Your "What" is the one amazing thing you were born to do and is comprised of your inherent gifts, the vehicle you will use to share your gifts with the world and the people you are most compelled to serve.

To identify your gifts, follow this three-step process:

Step One: Answer the question: What do you love?

Think about all the things you love doing and write them down. Look back: What did you enjoy doing as a teenager? Even if you haven't done something for years, if it would still bring you pleasure, write it down.

Focus on the activities and interactions that lift your soul. Avoid listing skills you're good at simply because you've practiced them over time.

Now, dig even deeper.

Remember a time years ago when you laughed hysterically? What triggered the laughter?

And as an adult, what gives you goose bumps? Maybe it's the moment when you come up with a really good idea and realize you've found the solution you've been looking for. Tie the goose bumps moment to descriptions that encapsulate the activity in noun or adjective form - such as singing, teaching or healing.

When recalling a special moment, try not to be too literal; look for the subtext. For example, imagine you have a fond memory of an evening spent bowling with your grandmother. Instead of writing "bowling with Grammy" on your list, broaden it to "investing time with a beloved family member."

As another example, say you closed a huge deal last year and felt really good about it. The monetary rewards are the tangibles, but what matters for this exercise is the sense of accomplishment you felt and how it enhanced your self-worth. This might be summed up as "closing a big deal."

Next, think about your character traits. Are you bold, fearless, adventurous, funny and/or entertaining? Perhaps you're creative, intuitive, a great organizer or have an ear for music.

Think about how these traits are expressed through your interactions and activities. For example, if you're an organizer extraordinaire, maybe you love arranging people's schedules or homes.

Next, put the activities you've identified in order of preference.

I came up with 29 activities. These were my Top Three:
  • Having special time with my wife.
  • Investing time with those I love.
  • Teaching others how to discover their "What."

Step Two: Answer the question: What do you loathe?

If you're clear about which activities you despise, you can establish a strong foundation for moving your life forward by starting to let them go.

Whatever it is that pushes your buttons (in a bad way), write them down. Even if you worry that others might see these things as petty, include them. The key is to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings.

Now, reflect on why you deplore an activity. Tie these moments to descriptions that encapsulate the activity in noun or adjective form - for example, cleaning, watching TV, eating unhealthy food, being around miserable people, shopping.

Next, put the activities you've identified in order, from most to least distasteful. I came up with 15 activities. These were my Top Three:
  • Dealing with minutiae.
  • Being affected by others' lack of integrity (e.g., people not honoring their commitments).
  • Being with people who minimize or mitigate my feelings.

Now think about how you spend a typical day and figure out how much time is devoted to these activities you despise. You have to stop doing most of these things because life is too short and they're slowly killing you.

Step Three: Discover the Seven Seeds of your Soul

Now, get your lists of Things I Love Doing and Things I Hate Doing. Start with the top item on your list of Things I Love Doing and ask yourself each of the six questions below as it relates to the activity. Each answer should be a definitive yes or no.

1. Even if you didn't get paid a cent for it, would you still do this?

2. Would doing this inspire you every day?

3. Does doing this come as naturally to you as breathing?

4. Do you feel you've been given a special gift to do this?

5. Does time seem to fly by when you're engaged in this activity?

6. Can you possibly make money doing this?

People often have difficulty answering yes or no to Questions No. 4 and No. 6.

For Question No. 4, keep in mind that while you might not yet be a master of this activity, if you feel passionately about it and/or spend a lot of time engaging in it, you may have been given a special gift to do it. In such cases, your answer to Question No. 4 is likely to be yes.

For Question No. 6, base your answer on whether you can possibly make money performing the activity, not whether you're currently doing so. If you have a genuine gift, you can monetize virtually any hobby, interest or endeavor. Therefore, your answer would be yes.

If any of your answers to these six questions is no, cross out the activity and move to the next item on your list of Things I Love Doing.

Continue this process until you reach an activity that results in a yes to all six questions.

When I completed this exercise, one of the activities that came up with all six yes answers was: Teaching others how to discover their "What."

When you arrive at an item with six yes answers, circle it and then ask yourself this final question:
  • Does performing this activity involve anything on my list of Things I Hate Doing?

For the beloved activity to pass the criteria of The Seven Seeds of Your Soul, it has to match no more than twoof your hated activities. (Virtually any activity you engage in will include some aspects you dislike. The discomfort level just has to be low enough to be tolerable.)

If you can answer yes less than three times, double circle the activity because you'll be returning to it.

It's possible that your inherent gifts won't appear in the first half or even the first two-thirds of your Things I Love Doing list, so be patient and work through every item.

Now, write down the activities you double circled. If you came up with more than three, chances are you weren't being sufficiently honest with yourself. In that case, try again.

Once you've identified three or fewer activities, your last job is to identify synergies betwen them and/or choose the specific nouns or adjectives that best define your gifts. These will typically be the first words of your activity statements.

In my case, they were Teaching, Speaking and Inspiring.

After thinking more deeply, I realized they were all part of an over-arching theme: Communication. This represents the first part of the "What" equation - my true gift.

Review your results and write down your gifts using one or, at most, two words for each. If possible, identify an over-arching theme.

If you can pinpoint your gifts and complete your "What" equation by also identifying the vehicle you will use to share your gifts with the world and the people you're most compelled to serve, you'll probably feel like you've thrown a 500-pound bag of sand off your shoulders.

Identifying your "What" is often a very emotional experience. It should move you and put a fire in your belly.

Pursue living as who you were born to be and you'll achieve your true destiny.

Make the Coming Year Different with A Mindful Plan

What do you want and why is it important to you?

Young woman running on beach.
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Introducing contributor Christine Faucher-Kelley, who offers this pre-New Year exercise to work on. She'll be back in January.

Only 8 percent of us achieve our New Year's Resolutions. We don't get clear on why they are important to us. Taking some time to understand your "why" -- before the New Year -- could make you make you part of that successful percent.

As a two-pack a day smoker, for nearly 30 years, I was part of the 92%.

Ironically, my friends called me a "health nut". I ate well, did yoga... and smoked! But it was catching up with me: I had developed a "hack" and my addiction was so out of control that I was craving another smoke moments after lighting up. Despite all that, my multiple attempts to quit failed. I was a slave to nicotine.

And then something happened. I was at a yoga retreat and I had snuck into the woods to have a smoke. I felt like a fraud. All the "good reasons" why I should quit were not enough, but this one made sense: I could no longer look myself in the eye. I was ashamed because I had betrayed myself.

So around Jan. 3, over eight years ago, I broke away from my enslavement. While it took nearly a year to be "smoke-free" I ultimately succeeded.

How did I do it?
Rather than hide in a "cloud", I had to get "mindful" (or aware) about what made me want to smoke, and why it was important to quit. When I wanted a cigarette I'd ask myself, "What's going on?" I'd consider solutions to relieve the stress and then I'd go for a run, or I'd breathe. Seriously. Smokers don't breathe, we smoke. By deeply inhaling air instead, we can reduce our stress. Breathing is highly underrated.

Once I got mindful about why my resolution mattered to me, I was able to follow it through.

We must start where we are.
Is some version of this a familiar start for the New Year? You:
  • charge down the road in your new sneakers,
  • post your revised resume on all the job sites,
  • vow to stop eating lunch at your desk, and
  • slap on a nicotine patch?
A few weeks later...
  • the sneakers are collecting dust,
  • your inbox is full of unread job listings,
  • there's a half-eaten burger on your desk, and
  • you're stubbing out another cig while you're wearing the patch? (That was me!)
When it comes to resolutions, most of us want to start at the end and we don't enable our success by having a plan. But before we can know where we're going, we've got to know where, and more importantly why, we are.

Back to the basics.
(Grab pen and paper, and get ready to make clear resolutions.)
A key part of any change is seeing yourself on the other side of it. I envisioned what would it be like to stop hiding my addiction from people who loved me. How would it feel to look myself in the eye again and be proud?

What do you want and why is it important to you?
This New Year it is your life that you are creating when you decide to change. Follow these steps to create your Mindful Plan.

Step One: Why does it matter?
Effective resolutions include an important outcome. Knowing the difference it will make helps you to stay the course. For example: Working 60-hour weeks but you're craving balance so you can do some volunteer work for your community?

Apps to Supercharge Your Job Search

Conduct an expert job search from your smartphone

close up of woman and man hands ...
Shutterstock/Syda Productions

Job search demands a very specific set of tools for one of the toughest jobs you'll ever have. Your toolbox is likely within reach or even in your hands right now. Yes, your smartphone is filled with almost every tool you need to wage war on unemployment.
Calendar, contacts, maps, email, weather, clock and camera and more. Oh yeah, it works as a telephone, too. It is perfect for making your job hunt light, instantly accessible and, above all, mobile. Now, you can make it happen ANYWHERE. This is your toolbox. It's up to you what you put inside.

Let's start with the essentials. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and WordPress. If you are not using these apps as part of your search you are hurting your chances of landing the gig you want. LinkedIn is central to any job search and the other three are pivotal communications and content tools that should play key roles in your strategy.

However, I want to talk about a few more specialized apps that add some real firepower to your arsenal.

Evernote – I can't say enough about this app. You can take notes, clip links, save pictures and so much more. This app is rich and syncs across all your devices. Everything you need to remember can be outsourced to Evernote. Save your brain power for the interview and let Evernote be your job search hard drive. Evernote is free, but I recommend the premium upgrade as this app is deep and powerful. It will take some effort and time to fully utilize Evernote, but it will be time well spent. (Free iOS/Android/Windows Phone/Blackberry)

LinkedIn Contacts – Want the best of LinkedIn, but don't want to sift through the full LinkedIn feed? This app gives you everything you need to know today. Who's changed jobs, birthdays, work anniversaries and who's in the news. It's all here! Now you don't need a reason to send a check-in email. LinkedIn Contacts provides you with fresh material every single day. (Free iOS)

Both Hello (from Evernote) and CardMunch (from LinkedIn) solve the problem of that giant pile of business cards haunting your wallet, pockets and desk drawer. You take a quick picture of the card and these apps do the rest. They instantly convert those cards into contacts. Card Munch draws upon information from LinkedIn while Hello takes it a step further and draws upon all your contact's social profiles. Plus, it builds a history of your networking and you can add notes for future reference. (Hello Free iOS/Android) (CardMunch Free iOS)

Fantastical 2 is a bigger, badder version of the awesome calendar and reminder app Fantastical. The default calendar app on your phone may be sufficient, but Fantastical is your calendar on steroids. It digs deep into all your information and somehow improves on just about every available calendar app. If you are working across several email platforms it ties all of your calendars together neatly and without conflict. It is simple, intuitive and powerful. Don't let your calendar master you, master your calendar with Fantastical 2. ($3.99 iOS)

Every job search requires a good to-do list. My absolute favorite is Wunderlist. It syncs across devices and can be a simple or in-depth as you need. You can share with others easily. Tasks can be broken down into sub-tasks and you can add reminders, notes and due dates, Once again, let the app do the busy work while you get things done. There is a pro option, but the free app is pretty robust as is. (Free iOS/Android/Windows)

If you want something simpler, Clear, Tick and Begin are all smart, simple to-do lists that will help you accomplish your daily goals.

Refresh – This is a killer networking and job search app. Refresh scours your calendar for upcoming meetings and provides you with a dossier on the person you're meeting. You get job info, mutual friends, social profiles and even their favorite sports teams and leisure activities. This is perfect for a last-minute refresher right before your meeting. (Free iOS beta/Android soon)

Bonus Gmail Add-On – Rapportive – Get full contact info delivered to your desktop with Gmail. When you get an email, Rapportive populates the right rail of your browser window with key information on your contact. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and more. You can also make notes on your contacts for later reference. (Free Firefox/Safari/Chrome)

Bonus Email Awesomeness – FollowUp.cc – Don't have time to deal with that email right now and know you have to handle it eventually? Choose when you want to process it and mail it to FollowUp.cc. It will come back to you exactly when you want it. Keeps your inbox clear and outsources having to remember it. (Free)

Each of these tools has made my search easier and more efficient. They've allowed me to be mobile, immediate and prepared wherever and whenever. Tell me about the tools that have worked for you. And as always, good luck with your search!

1 Simple Secret to Being Liked and Making More $$$ at Work

Get more money with this easy technique

Portrait of businesswoman, smiling
Getty Images
Life isn't fair, and work is part of life. Plenty of studies have been done to show the following types of people make more money and get promoted more often:
  • Attractive youthful people.
  • Happy outgoing people.
  • Highly competitive people.

If you don't fall into one of those (and that would be millions of us), I've got good news. There's a technique you can use to level the playing field, create better alliances at work, and get that raise.

C.A.R.E. - The Easiest Way to Get What You Want at Work

When you C.A.R.E., you give your co-workers and managers four things they all crave:

Act Concerned
Let's look at how easy it is to do each one....

Compliment - Find the Strength in Everyone

Even if you don't like the people you work with (here's a time when I gave a compliment to the world's most evil co-worker), you should be able to identify something they do that is valuable to the organization. Take that extra step and compliment them on it. In the event you just can't find a thing they do well, then find something to compliment them about their style. Are they wearing a nice scarf today? Tell them. Did they handle a customer well? Tell them. Set a goal to give each person in your workplace a compliment every week and watch what happens. You'll find people warmer and friendlier.

COMMENT: Some of you are thinking, "Isn't this being fake?" No! I'm not suggesting you give an insincere compliment. The goal is to train yourself to be nicer - because nicer people make more money - and that's your goal, right? Now, let's look at the other ways you can train yourself to C.A.R.E.....

Act Concerned - Your Co-workers & Boss Are Human Beings

None of us are blind to when people are having an off day at work. So, why do we ignore it? Instead, reach out to people who are frustrated or look stressed and say, "Hey. How's it going? Is there something I can help with?" Most of the time they won't take you up on the offer, but they'll appreciate you are concerned about them. It's also good to follow up when they share about a personal matter. Did they mention their dog is sick? Ask how he's doing. And, it doesn't always have to be about something negative. Maybe something exciting is going on in their life like a wedding or birth of a grandchild. Whatever it is, take a moment or two to ask them about it. Watch their face light up as they talk about what's happening in their lives. Trust me, they'll remember who took the time to inquire. Once again, you are training yourself to be nicer - and that comes with a reward.

Relate - Find Your Commonality & Discuss It

The best way to build friendships at work that can be used to advance your career is to really connect with co-workers and managers through a common belief or interest. Do you like the same shows on TV? Talk about them. Are your kids into the same activities? Share your experiences. Invest some time in connecting on non-work related things so you can recognize that each of you have interesting lives outside of the office.

Enable - Find A Way to Make Their Work Life Easier

The last tip is to identify and execute steps to help your co-workers and boss achieve their goals. Everyone feels like they have a lot of work to do. When you take time to help out another person in the office to lighten their workload, you are seen as valuable resource. Find ways to assist your peers and management so that they can say, "I couldn't have done this without you." When you offer proactively to help, they know you care and they'll want to return the favor.

NOTE: This works especially well with bosses. When you can show that you see how busy they are and you want to make their life easier, you will score huge points.

This is NOT Brown-Nosing - It's Smart Professional Development

Some of you may think the above is kissing !@# and you don't want to do it. That's fine, it's your choice. But, for those of you who recognize you are a business-of-one who must market their services to their employer to get what they want, then you know the secret is amazing customer service. (I wrote this article on AOL that talks more about using the customer service technique to get a raise in 60 days.) That's what wins. C.A.R.E. is the model you can use to deliver that customer service and get what you want.

3 Keys To Selling Just About Anything, Including Yourself

Selling ice cubes to Eskimos and other core techniques

Two Businesswomen Shaking Hands In Modern Office
By Gretchen Barton

To me, selling always seemed like a magical pursuit. Growing up in a sales family, I would hear stories about salespeople who somehow were able to sell just about anything -- whether it was selling organ meat that no one wanted to eat or selling ice cubes to Eskimos.

If I didn't know what I know now, I would've thought that salespeople were either magicians or hucksters -- or perhaps both. For a long time, hearing about the best salespeople always seemed to be coupled with a story of how a salesperson "got one over" on somebody or tricked somebody into buying something that, if they were in their right mind, would never buy. But now, I know differently. Sales is not, nor ever was, about tricking people into buying what you have to offer. Rather, sales is about connecting with people professionally and finding out how what you have can help with what they need. Here are the three core sales techniques (that don't involve ice cubes or Eskimos), which have helped me in my role as a salesperson.

1. Be fascinated: When it comes to sales, if you're not fascinated with your product or your prospect, you're in trouble. Successful selling relies on your ability to be obsessively curious and captivated with the product you are selling and the person to whom you are selling.

2. Connect the dots: Selling to people relies on your ability to connect the dots. As a salesperson, you must be able to find what is known as the pain point -- the thing that the client truly needs -- and then connect that point to what you have to offer. Whether it's connecting a pain point of being really hungry to offering your client a hamburger, or connecting a pain point of wanting to be stylish and you are offering your client a stylish new car, connecting the dots allows you to find and ultimately fulfill your client's greatest need.

3. Be impeccable: To differentiate yourself and give your client every reason to trust you, it is essential to be impeccable in every way as a salesperson. Being impeccable means selling professionally and with integrity each and every time. It means showing up on time, being honest, dressing with care and having a great attitude every time you engage in the selling process. When you are impeccable in every way, it reflects well on you and on what you are selling, ultimately leading to more sales and more success.

'Tell Me About Yourself': Answer This Dreaded Question The Right Way

Avoid rambling and telling your life story

By Brazen Life 

By Jessica Stillman

Your natural impulses when it comes to answering the interview question "So tell me a little about yourself" are likely all wrong.
You've got a big interview coming up. How do you prepare? If you're a regular Brazen reader, you know the answer: research the company, polish answers to common questions and hone in on the ways your skills and experience will help you achieve results in that particular job.
But you can do all that and still flounder in the interview. Many candidates stumble at the first hurdle because it doesn't seem like it requires a lot of effort to clear. What is it? The typical opener that invites you to tell the interviewer a little more about yourself.
This hardly seems like the toughest question you're likely to encounter. You know your own biography, after all. But according to career coaches, this prompt is a common stumbling block for inexperienced candidates who go wrong by taking the question at face value.
Many candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters. - Nancy Fox, Fox Coaching Associates.
Fellow career coach Jane Cranston agrees:
The biggest mistake people being interviewed make is thinking the interviewer really wants to know about them as a person.
I was born in Tallahassee...
If your answer starts anything like that, you're probably spoiling your chances of getting the job. No matter how natural it may seem, fight the impulse to start at the beginning and go in chronological order.
Instead, take the advice of Melanie Szlucha. Think of your response as a movie preview, she advises:
The movie preview always relates to the movie you're about to see. You never see a movie preview for an animated flick when you're there to see a slasher movie. So the "tell me about yourself" answer needs to directly fit the concerns of your prospective employer.
It should also be as short and engaging as a great trailer.
If you're looking for the exact words to accomplish this, Brazen has examples of pithy self-descriptions for interviews, and Lifehacker also has 20 ways to complete the sentence "I am someone who...."
The time travel approach
Short summations may work in some interviews, but what if you get the impression the person sitting across from you wants to go into more depth, or they push you to include biographical information or meaty details about your professional background?
Venture capitalist Brad Feld may have the solution for you. It's one he developed over a long career of both interviewing others and telling his own story. His suggestion is to do the opposite of what comes naturally and go backwards in time:
I don't care where you went to school (I never have). I don't care what your first job was. I don't care what happened 15 years ago. I care what you did yesterday, and last month, and last quarter, and last year. That's probably as deep as I want to go in the first five minutes of our interview. I'm no longer interested in telling my own story. Each time I do it, I realize I am wasting another 15 minutes of my life.
Feld adds that hearing a chronological retelling of your story is not only boring for the listener, it's also pointless for the speaker. Instead, he's decided to take a new approach, one he also recommends for job interviews:
By starting with the now, and not worrying about going backward, I can get to the meat of whatever I'm communicating, or want to communicate. I'll more quickly engage whomever I'm talking to - making the conversation immediately active instead of passive. When I need to reach into the past for a story to support an example, I will. I've decided that going forward, I'm telling my history in reverse chronological order whenever asked.
Do you have a set answer for the "So tell me a little about yourself" interview question?


How to identify top performers: Tips for hiring your dream team

By Matthew Crist, freelance writer

What are the personality traits of a top performer? How can hiring managers and recruiters identify the makings of a successful employee? What does a true dream team look like? Don Fornes can tell you.
In the following Q&A, the founder and CEO of Software Advice discusses the research his company recently conducted that identifies the personality traits of successful employees, the four types of top performers, the roles they excel in and how to hire more people like them.

Q: What was the inspiration for your research around the "Psychological Profiles of the Dream Team"?

Fornes: In the eight years we've been in business, I've picked up on some of the characteristics that make our top performers successful. I wanted to develop a more sophisticated understanding of our employees and applicants, so that we could hire the right people, put them in the right roles and manage them more effectively.

Q: How did you conduct this research and/or come up with these profiles?

Fornes: Through my day-to-day interactions with some of our top performers, I started to get an idea of their personality types, but I wasn't sure if my ideas were quite right. So I commissioned a local psychologist, Dr. James Maynard, to help us. He met with each of these top performers and talked with them about their backgrounds, what makes them tick and how they prefer to be managed. It was an informative exercise, and the team seemed to really enjoy it. I think they liked getting the opportunity to explore their own minds. From there, Dr. Maynard shared his findings with me, and, with the help of our managing editor, Holly Regan, we researched each personality type further. Together, we published our "Psychological Profiles of the Dream Team."
Q: How many different profiles did you identify?

Fornes: So far we've identified four unique profiles: The Giver, The Champ, The Matrix Thinker and The Savant. But there are a lot more out there. For the sake of what's manageable and effective, however, we wanted to focus on profiles of the top performers who really make a difference in our business.

Q: Can a person fit more than one profile?

Fornes: I think so. Dr. Maynard mentioned that, at the highest level of the organization, you have senior executives who fit multiple profiles. For example, you might have a CEO who is a Matrix Thinker but also exhibits many of the characteristics of a Champ. And, perhaps most importantly, senior executives have maturity, which allows them to leverage their unique strengths while keeping their weaknesses in check.

Q: Are there profiles hiring managers should avoid entirely?

Fornes: Of course. Sociopath comes to mind. But we haven't really dug into those profiles. We're trying to identify the ones that improve our business. In terms of the profiles we developed, hiring managers shouldn't avoid any specific one. Instead, they should assess the maturity level of the candidate, where they fit on their spectrum and determine whether or not they'd fit the role and company culture.

Q: In undertaking this research, did you learn anything that surprised you?

Fornes: One thing that surprised me was how every personality type is sitting within a spectrum, where one end is powerful and positive, and the other can be destructive and negative. For example, The Champ is driven by a twinge of narcissism. Their self-confidence empowers them to do great things, but it doesn't take much for that narcissism to become too strong and manifest itself in damaging behaviors. Again, their ability to control these negative impulses comes down to maturity. We found that the same is true for Savants who struggle with interpersonal skills, Givers who can be passive-aggressive and Matrix Thinkers who can devolve into chaos.

3 Ways Companies Create Gender Equality

Women occupy 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 corporate board seats

The glass ceiling remains hard to shatter. That's the main takeaway from the annual census report on women in the workplace just released by the New York-based non-profit women's research group, Catalyst. The results of the census found that women only hold 16.9 percent of corporate board seats among the Fortune 500. And that figure has essentially been flat for the past eight years.

The executive suite remains similarly stagnant, with women occupying 14.6 percent of all c-suite positions. That number, for its part, hasn't seen major movement in the past four years. And so the tapping of a woman, Mary Barra, to be the next CEO of GM remains the exception and not the rule.

"It's hard to believe that at the end of 2013 we still see more than a few all-male corporate boards and leadership teams." said Ilene H. Lang, the president & CEO of Catalyst, in a press release. (Catalyst only conducts research at the managerial level.) Post-IPO Twitter, most notably, just added a woman to its board.

And then the exceptions
Amid such stagnancy, however, there are companies that stand out for greater gender parity in their upper ranks. A handful even see women occupying as much as 45 percent of director positions. Not surprisingly, several of these companies specialize in lifestyle products popular among women, but several do not.

But as Deborah Gillis, Catalyst's chief operating officer, told AOL Jobs in an interview, boosting the number of women in a company's workforce is not simply a humanitarian gesture. "If you want to have as successful a business as possible, you can't possibly do so by shutting out half your talent," she said.

Old habit dies hard. See below for three practices companies are embracing to boost gender parity as well as the ten companies with the highest representation of women at the director level.

1. Intentionally promote women. Any concern over political correctness in actively seeking out women for open positions is foolish, according to Gillis. "Leaders send a message that it isn't hard to find qualified female applicants if you focus and make advancement of all talent a priority," she said. "It's the only way to make your company look like the market it serves."

2. Assign women to 'hot' projects. It's not just simply a matter of making sure women have a seat at the table, according to Gillis. As she put it, companies have a tendency to place men on the "hot" assignments, which puts them on the path for leadership positions. "Visibility to senior leaders is vital for advancement," she said. And Catalyst has recognized Alcoa Inc. for pursuing such a policy with its "Hard Hat" initiative it launched in 2008 to increase the number of women supervisors and leaders at the company's refineries, smelters, and factories worldwide. And between 2008 and 2012, women's representation for executive roles grew companywide from 15.8 percent to 19 percent.

3. Impose accountability for hiring of women. "Companies that have been successful in hiring women have held their executives accountable with expectations," Gillis said. In order to do so, leaders are setting quantifiable goals. Coca-Cola, also recognized by Catalyst, has for instance told its managers it expects all divisions to be gender-equal by 2020. And at Toronto-based Scotiabank, advancement of women is included as an annual performance goal for c-suite executives and other senior leaders as part of their annual scorecard, which is tied to compensation.

10 tips for surviving the phone interview

You may know that phone interviews are used by many companies in their initial screening process. What you may not know is that the main aim of the phone call may be to eliminate you as a potential candidate for the job in order to create a manageable shortlist.

Employers may screen as many as 100 candidates during phone interviews. How do you make it through to the other side and secure a face-to-face interview? These 10 tips will help you to stand out from the crowd.

1. Preparation: Thorough preparation is essential for every interview. Who will be calling you? What is their position within the company? What do you know about the company and the vacancy?  Research the company website, including recent news updates and press releases, so you have a good idea of their challenges and successes.
2. Choose your time: Agree on a scheduled time in advance so you can properly prepare. Taking an impromptu call from HR means you are unprepared and unlikely to respond effectively to the interviewer's questions.
3. Use a landline: If your cellphone drops out halfway through the conversation, your chances may go up in smoke. If it's not possible to use a landline, choose an area where your cellphone service is excellent.
4. The sound of silence: Don't be afraid of a pause in the conversation. It may mean that the caller is taking notes on your relevant answers to his questions. Don't be tempted to fill the silence with inane chatter; demonstrate your confidence by waiting for the next question.
5. Location matters: No dog walking, background television/kids/household noise, running a bath or anything else that screams "unprofessional." First impressions count; choose a quiet location where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
6. Watch your body language: It might have been a long day, but don't slump over your desk with your head in your hands. Sit up straight, be alert, listen, be positive, don't lean back in your chair or slouch on the couch. While the interviewer can't see you, it will reflect in your tone of voice. Try smiling and see how it enlivens your whole demeanor.
7. Avoid the monotone: Your smile and enthusiasm should extend to your voice. A dull mumble is guaranteed to encourage your interviewer to press the delete button next to your application. Speak clearly, express enthusiasm and don't chew gum. You may think it's not discernible on the other end of the call but trust me, it is.
8. Prepare your questions: Prepare a list of questions that demonstrate your interest in the role. Think about what you need to know about this position, the opportunities, the culture, what success looks like in the role, why it's vacant and so on.
9. Be professional: This is an interview, not a catch-up with a friend. Be professional and confident with your choice of words. Use "I can" and avoid vague responses such as "possibly" and "perhaps." Don't be over-familiar with the interviewer -- your aim is to stand out from the crowd.
10. Finish on a positive note: An abrupt end to the call doesn't indicate a lack of interest, it may simply be that the interviewer has run out of time and has to move on to the next candidate on the list. Thank the caller for her time and reiterate your interest in the position. Be happy that you've done everything you can to raise your profile for this role.

How to answer behavioral interview questions


The behavioral interview is increasingly used by employers as a key part of the hiring process.
A traditional interview will typically involve questions such as, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" or "Why do you want to leave your current role?"
The behavioral interview will focus on how candidates perform in given situations. The premise for the behavioral interview is that past performance predicts future behavior -- i.e., how you performed in a previous job will inform the employer of your suitability for the current role.
Behavioral interview questions are normally preceded with "Give me an example of ..." or "Tell me about a time when..."  The questions will focus on characteristics such as teamwork, leadership, problem solving and so on.  It is essential to be prepared to explain what you did, what you said and how you felt.
Examples of behavioral interview questions
  • Customer service: Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to provide the best possible customer service. What did you do and how did the customer respond?
  • Teamwork: Give me an example of how you adjusted to a co-worker's working style in order to achieve your performance objectives.
  • Conflict: Tell me about a time that you resolved an issue with a difficult colleague.
  • Leadership: Give me an example of a situation when you assumed a leadership role.
  • Problem solving: Describe a situation when your experience did not prepare you for a set task and how you dealt with it.
How to respond to these types of questions
A popular way of preparing responses to behavioral interview questions is the "STAR method:"
  • Situation: Review your career history for a situation which had a positive outcome
  • Task: Describe what you had to do
  • Action: Detail the actions necessary to fulfill your obligations.
  • Result: Explain the result
You may find the following helpful to prepare your answers using the STAR method:
  • Review the job description to evaluate the necessary skills.
  • Review your résumé to identify your relevant achievements and skills for the position.
  • Highlight your top three or five attributes and skills that set you apart from the competition.
  • Create your individual response. Focus on teamwork, motivation, leadership, commitment and problem-solving issues related to the job. Be prepared to give examples of where you failed and how you responded to that failure -- nobody's perfect and employers need to see examples of resilience.
  • Prepare detailed examples. Employers want specifics -- not generalizations.
  • Quantify your answers with your achievements.
  • Be truthful with yourself. If the position isn't right for you, or you lack the key skills for the role, it is important to acknowledge that.
In a behavioral interview, there are no right or wrong answers. The hiring manager is simply trying to assess whether you are a good fit for the company by understanding how you will behave in a given situation. The key is to listen carefully, provide specific answers and, above all, to be honest.

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