Friday, May 15, 2015

Stop These Career-Killing Attitudes

When we have unpleasant experiences, many of us tend to put our minds into autopilot and start imagining things. For example, when you do not get the promotion you have all along been thinking you will get, you may immediately come to the conclusion that you are not good enough for getting it. Still worse, you may think that you will never be good enough during your entire career and so, you will never get that promotion.

If such a self-depreciating thinking is an isolated incident, you need not worry. But if you allow a torrent of such thoughts to wreck your life, this is an attitudinal problem. They are also known as cognitive distortions. You must therefore stop them because they may kill your career. If you have this problem, you may tend to interpret a simple event in such a manner that it may cause extreme mental stress. 

The greatest problem with this attitude is it may negatively impact your self-esteem. Eroded self-confidence will affect your productivity. You should therefore know about some of the cognitive distortions so you can stop those attitudes.

Projecting an isolated failure upon every endeavor you undertake

During the course of doing your job, you can not rule out failures. But projecting an isolated failure on future endeavors is wrong. Experts call this as "Black-or-White Thinking."

For stopping this, you must learn to listen how your mind speaks. When you hear your mind speaking such an extreme and unrealistic language, you must push those thoughts out. You must instead recall your past endeavors in which you achieved success. You can also recall the promotions you got or the occasions when you were showered with heaps of praises by your managers and co-workers for well-executed tasks..

Failing to take control of situations when something goes wrong.

When you face a tricky situation and if you allow your negative imagination to fly high, you will not be able to think in the right perspective. Not only that, you may conclude the outcome of the situation may be catastrophic. Such Catastrophic Thinking will not allow you to take control of the situation. 

So, when you face such situations, you must study the situations well to know if there are any areas that can be controlled. You can be certain that regardless of the seriousness of a situation, there may be certain steps upon which you may have control. Therefore, take appropriate action and do your best. This will reduce your stress.

Not allowing the positives to influence your thinking

Risks of failures will always be there. As experts put it, only if you do not take any action, you can avoid failures. But it you fail in a particular task, it is not that you will fail in whatever you do. In fact, you may have accomplished many things in your career. You must not forget those positives. If you forget them, you will be allowing only negative thoughts to reside cozily in your mind. 

The right approach to get rid of this problem is to to forcibly tune your focus only on your positives. You can keep a journal that contains all your accomplishments. Whenever you are staring at a failure, you should immediately take out the journal and go through its contents so you will not allow negative thinking to take on the reins.

Coming to conclusions without knowing the complete facts

When you come across a situation, you should not come to conclusions without studying all the facts completely. This may lead to a lot of stress. You must therefore ask yourself whether you have all the facts and if you have studied them fully. In short, your conclusions should be based only on facts and facts alone.

External control may be a fallacy

Many a time, all of us think that we become victims of circumstances. For example, if you have failed in an interview, you are only responsible for that. You may not have prepared well for the interview session. There is absolutely no external control here. In fact, when you analyze any situation, external control may be a fallacy. You should therefore not blame your circumstances or others for your failures. If you do so, it shows you are not taking responsibility for your life.

To summarize, only if you recognize that you have such attitudes, you will be able to overcome them. You must implant new and different thought patterns in your mind so you can push out the distorted thoughts. If you learn to challenge these career-killing attitudes, you can not only get rid of your stress but can build your self-confidence as well. This will go a long way in helping you climb your career ladder.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quitting Is Not The Right Option When Employees Are Unable To Achieve Work-Life Balance

In the recent years, a considerable number of employees including those of popular companies have quit their jobs declaring that they could not achieve work-life balance at all. These employees might be thinking that the step they have taken is right and may do good to them. But in reality, they have not done good either to them or to their companies.

Most importantly, their step of quitting does not help the thousands or may be, millions of other employees who may experience the same plight of over-working and not being able to spend quality time with their friends or family members. But since they may have other problems including lack of other resources, they are not able to quit their jobs.

One of the classic examples of those who quit their jobs due to this problem was Max Schireson, former CEO of MongoDB, who could not balance his roles of a dad and a CEO. Similarly, Patrick Pichette, former CFO of Google, quit the company citing the reason that he wanted to spend quality time with his family. Mohamed El-Erian, Pimco’s CEO, resigned when he was given a list by his daughter how he had missed more than 20 childhood milestones due to his work pressure. Thanks to their work-packed hours, these people lost the time they had to spend with their families. 

But instead of quitting, they should have chosen to make use of their experience and creativity to find work-life balance. In fact, if CEOs and managers strive to bring a good change in the corporate policies, all the employees will benefit. Their organizations will ultimately benefit also.

"Flexible working hours - A perk or a smart decision?

Companies have all along been thinking that flexible working is a perk to employees. But management experts opine that it is a smart decision made by business owners. Flexible working can do immense good to departments such as finance and HR management and most importantly, to employees.

The best benefit to companies is they can save substantially if they utilize the services of telecommuting employees. Further, these employees remain more engaged than the normal employees. Studies reveal that in companies that offer the flexible working option to their employees, employee satisfaction levels increase by more than 80%. Likewise, these companies are able to retain talents also.

How a flexible working program can be implemented

Assess the current situation as well as requirements of your company 

You must first know the problems the flexible working program you are offering will solve. Never make a guess but try to gather as much data as possible so you can know what work-life balance issues will get resolved by your offer. You can explore what types of options are available to you. You can offer the working-from-home option or you can accede to employees' request of choosing the starting and ending times of their working days. You must keep an open mind so when you stumble upon unique and new options, you can add them to your list of offers.

Change may take time

You should put in place a good strategy for testing new policies. The details of the policies you introduce in your company must be communicated in lucid terms to all the employees. You are not advised to implement the new policies in a full-fledged manner while taking the first step itself but at the same time, you need not hesitate to make a beginning. But be committed to your implementation goals so you can move forward steadily. For example, you can initially offer flexible working hours for a day in a week. If you think it works well, you can increase the frequency. You can make suitable changes to your policies as and when necessary. Do not hesitate to solicit feedback from your employees because this is a very good trust-building step.

Be a role model

When you introduce the flexible working policy, you must be the first to use the option. Most of the employees may not feel safe when they observe that their bosses themselves do not use the new option. So, you must inspire your staff to follow suit by leading from the front.

Your managers must be suitably equipped with excellent techniques

If your employees think that just attending office and being at the desk or the workplace throughout the day are enough, you must bring about a change in their attitude. They should understand that being productive is much different from being present in the office. Employees who choose the option of flexible working should know that they must focus on the company's goals and targets and work towards achieving them. This means your managers must proactively and clearly communicate the targets as well as goals of the company to their subordinates. Managers must also collaborate with the employees for making them work towards these goals. If employees realize that the company has realistic expectations from them, they may not hesitate to take all the steps to optimize their productivity.

Managers should get rid of all the passive and useless techniques they have all along been adopting and switch to new skills that may suit employees who work the traditional way as well as those who choose flexible working.

Findings of a study reveal that by 2020, more than 50% of employees will opt to work remotely. So, companies must provide employees with more control so they can choose where they work from, when they should work and how they intend to work. This will boost their productivity and their health will also improve. They may derive more satisfaction from their job. They may work for longer hours than the employees who work the traditional way. This will ultimately lead to better work-life balance.

So, those employees, managers as well as CEOs who decide to quit because they are not able to find good work-life balance must choose to stay so they can spur the necessary changes in their respective organizations. This will improve their relationship with their families. Thousands of employees who are forced to stick on to their jobs despite the fact that they are not able to balance their work life and family life will benefit also if business owners and managers introduce this viable option of flexible working in their organizations.

Regardless Of Your Age, You Can Optimize Your Earning Potential

Whether you are beginning your career or have been working for a few years, the best asset you have is your earning potential. Every person is different and so, you are certainly different from those who may be financially successful. These successful people may be following good habits such as saving regularly, controlling their expenses and not indulging in any stupid things with the investment options available to them. Though these habits are very important, it is highly essential that you must utilize your earning power wisely. Managing your career is very important in order to use your earning potential optimally. So, when you make vital decisions at your workplace, you must never forget that these decisions can impact your future as well as your earning potential.

The following few suggestions may help you maximize the power of your earning potential.

If you are in the early stages of your career:

Being socially savvy will help

If you ensure to have a good and strong profile on social media sites such as LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, etc., you can benefit immensely because more and more employers are using these sites for finding talents. If your profile that contains details of your skills and accomplishments attracts the attention of hiring managers, you will become one of the highly sought-after candidate for the jobs they have. You must ensure to add a suitable photo also because hiring managers have to be certain that they are dealing with a real person.

Play your numbers wisely

You should adopt a professional approach and be wise to negotiate your remuneration in the initial stage itself. Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever who have authored the book "Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide" say that those who fail to negotiate their remuneration in the initial stage of their career may lose even over $500,000 before they reach their normal age of retirement. So, do not hesitate to put your expectation on the negotiating table so you can get the desired salary at the end of the discussions. For knowing the prevailing salary levels, you can talk to your peers or those who are working for the company you wish to work with. You can use the details on sites such as and

Do not leave the game

It is true you may have a lot of domestic chores including taking care of your small children. But the effects of losing your momentum and lost wages are too huge to ignore. A study conducted by Harvard University experts also reveals that earnings of women MBAs who left the game for about 18 months were less by 41% than what their male counterparts could earn. So, before you contemplate quitting completely, try to negotiate to have flexible working works or for working part-time or as a freelance worker.

Never lose your touch 

Even if you have no other alternative except to quit, you must not lose touch. You can even opt for “strategic volunteering” that may dovetail your interrupted career. You must ensure to add this to your resume so prospective employers do not come to the conclusion that you may have lost touch with the field. You can continue to maintain relationship with your co-workers because it will help you keep abreast of the developments in your field. Carol Fishman Cohen, who has co-authored the book, "Back on the Career Track" also opines that it is more important to keep your connections strong especially when you quit and take a break.

Impress the higher-ups

If you have the support of senior–level mentors, you can earn much more than what you can earn otherwise. This fact has been corroborated even by Catalyst, that is a popular workplace researcher. So, you must be proactive and create situations wherein you can prove your worth. You can also seek special assignments that can show how you stand out from others. Be careful to choose those assignments that provide you with a chance to interact with the movers and shakers of the industry in which you are working. If you are working for a company, the assignments you choose must get you access to the top brass of the organization.

Be active

Studies conducted by Vasilios Kosteas, Professor of Cleveland State University reveal that those who are active or who do regular exercises are able to earn 6 to 9% more than those who do not do their exercises. In short, employees who are fit are certainly more productive because they can manage their work-related stress more efficiently. So, they can advance in their career more quickly than the other group.

If you are in the middle of your career:

Modify your resume by giving a facelift to it

Chances of landing in a new and better job increase manifold if you modify your resume by giving a facelift to it. The Ladders, a popular job site suggests that you can take professional help for doing this. Experts advise that it is better you lop off those years and experiences prior to the latest 10 years because employers are interested only in knowing what you have been doing lately.

Tap your connections or contacts

According to "Unlock the Hidden Job Market" that has been authored by Duncan Mathison, more than half of the job openings that arise are never advertised at all. So, if you wisely tap your connections or contacts, you can know even those opportunities that are not advertised.

Research about companies that may be looking for experienced candidates like you

There are a number of companies who may be on the look-out for experienced candidates like you. AARP has a site known as Life Reimagined and CareerBuilder has another site called Prime CB and these sites may help you find such opportunities.

Get tech savvy

There is a conception that older workers are not tech-savvy. You must bust this misconception. Keep abreast of all the technological developments that keep taking taking place and the latest trends by discussing about them with your connections on social media.

Building your brand is essential

Creating a professional website will help. helps you create one for free. You can host the site by making a meager payment and this will get you mobile-publishing support also. A website will help in showcasing your work. If you regularly post articles, speeches, client testimonials, and presentations and keep adding your accomplishments and examples of your good work to your site, you can improve your chances of being contacted by companies that may require your services. You can create a blog on the website and keep updating it with posts. This will bolster your chances of landing in a better job.

Never stop acquiring new skills

Being an experienced employee, you are more vulnerable for cutbacks than new employees. Similarly, you may be very slow in rebounding from such situations. Therefore, keep acquiring new skills and add them to your resume so those organizations that seek experienced candidates with such skills may find you easily. In short, you will be protecting or rather improving your earning potential by acquiring new skills.

Be a mentor

You must turn a mentor also for a few deserving employees. The top brass of organizations are always watchful and they have a liking for experienced managers who mentor upcoming and enthusiastic employees at the lower level. They offer more remuneration to such managers than what they offer to non-mentoring managers.

You can maximize your earnings if you take these steps sincerely.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This Advice Can Help You In Advancing In Your Career

If you think that having a mentor is enough for advancing in your career, you may be terribly wrong. It is true that having a mentor is a wonderful thing because he or she may help you gain some of the critical skills that are required for your job. Your mentor may also help you navigate the challenges you may face at your workplace. You can use your mentor also as a sounding board when you are staring at a crossroad-like situation in the career you have chosen. But in the present-day environment when a highly competitive climate is prevailing in every field, you can not climb your career ladder without the help of a sponsor.

Jenna Goudreau who has authored an article entitled “Why You Need a Sponsor—Not a Mentor—to Fast-Track Your Career,” says that recent studies categorically establish that sponsorship, and not mentorship, can trigger power transfers in a workplace. Even many other management experts admit that sponsors can wield their internal social and political power as well as capital in helping their candidates move their career forward. This means they will be willing to argue the cases of their favorite candidates with the top management, of course, in camera. In other words, sponsors are spokespersons who can influence the top management by putting forth arguments in favor of your capabilities. The main difference between mentors and sponsors is that mentors will talk with the candidates but sponsors will talk about their candidates. Mentors give perspectives but sponsors provide their candidates with opportunities.

Another explanation can be mentors may help you in your efforts to “skill up” while sponsors will hep you in your upward movement in your career ladder. If you acquire the support of a good sponsor, you can rest assured that you are protected by a safety net so you can take risks confidently. You can demand for a stretch in your assignment and you can even ask for a promotion. Your sponsor will act as what experts call as "the protective bubble" and will shield you from drastic organizational changes such as layoffs, reorganizations, etc. On the positive side, when high-level talent and development discussions take place in camera, they will not forget to talk about you. Conversely, if you are moving up in your career ladder faster than others, you can assume that a sponsor has pulled strings for you.

How to choose a sponsor?

This is a wrong question because you never have an option to choose your sponsor. The fact is that it is a sponsor who chooses you. But if you possess certain behaviors, you will certainly attract the attention of even high-level sponsors. The good news is that you can tilt the scales in your favor and increase the chances of such high-level sponsors advocating for you by acquiring these behaviors.

1. Performance

No other behavior can attract a sponsor better than a great performance. Sponsors may hate to advocate the cases of incompetent people. Therefore, you must make all possible efforts to enhance your performance levels. For example, if you perform beyond the role that has been assigned to you, you are more likely to attract the attention of a high-level sponsor.

2. Get to know who high-level sponsors are

Identifying such sponsors may be a tricky task. But you can easily find the talent scouts or talent developers in your company. Do a little more research about them so you can identify a high level sponsor. Leaders or managers in the top hierarchy of your company who do not hesitate to praise their subordinates publicly and to back them even when contentious issues crop up can be good sponsors. Likewise, high-level sponsors are those who never hesitate to offer huge and challenging assignments to subordinates who are enthusiastic, who are upcoming but who are yet to prove themselves.

3. Be ready to grab Exposure Opportunities

A sponsor may hesitate to advocate your case if he or she does not have the opportunity to know your competence or the quality of your skills. So, when a project that gives an opportunity to work under such a sponsor comes up, you must not hesitate to grab it. In fact, you must be proactive and find such a project. You can even join a task force or a committee that is specially formed by such a sponsor so he or she can directly see your enthusiasm, your activities and the quality of your competence.

4. Your values must be 'visible'

Your achievements and your values must be visible to everyone and more particularly, to such high-level sponsors of your company. Never think that your values, skills or competence should be kept a secret. When you get a chance to meet potential sponsors either in the elevator or in the office canteen, you must not hesitate to share a sound-bite that describes your accomplishments.

5. Have Clearly Defined Career Goals

Unless you have clearly defined career goals, your sponsor may not know the right opportunities that match with them. After all, you can not expect your sponsor to know them when you yourself do not know what you want to achieve.

6. Sharing Your Career Goals With Potential Sponsors Is Not A Mistake

You must share your career goals with your mentor, the managers of the company and more importantly, potential sponsors so they will remember them at the right moments. In short, sharing your career goals will always keep you ‘sponsor-ready.’

Is Following Your Passion To Choose Your Career A Good Advice?

When you ask someone for advice about your career, the standard advice you may get is that you must follow your passion while making your choice. Experts have now come to the conclusion that this can be the worst career advice because it may not work.

Do you know why this standard advice fails very often? The main reason is you may have interest in many things but none of them may stand out. Likewise, you may have capabilities in many things but none of them may be worth mentioning. Other reasons may be you may have a notion that you do not possess any abilities or it is not possible for you to identify a career that blends your skills, values and interests. Contrary to this, you may identify a number of careers that may involve your interests, skills and values. The last reason may be the skills and interests you have are so common that you may want a highly popular career.

Ironically, even if you identify a career that fulfills all these aspects and you land in a job in that particular career, there is no guarantee that you will have career contentment. Even if you are paid well, you may not be treated properly. So, you may have landed in your 'dream' career but still you may be an unhappy person. Therefore, following your passion may not be a cool advice.

What is the solution?

For having career contentment, people in general look for certain non-negotiables. Some of them are the job you land in is not very hard and at the same time, is not very easy also, the company where you choose to work makes you feel worthy as well as ethical, the boss of the organization treats you properly, you are able to get on well with your coworkers and more importantly, the organization provides you with many good opportunities for learning. Further, the work hours, the pay and the benefits of the job should be reasonably good. Above all, you must have job security and the commute to the workplace must not be very harsh.

You may have many jobs that fulfill all these non-negotiables. It is better you choose one of these jobs instead of looking for a job in which you have passion and interest. It is not that you have to give up your passions or dreams. You can pursue them as hobbies.

In short, status, pursuing passion and coolness seem to be the enemies of career contentment. But it is certain non-negotiables are the best friends of career contentment.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

This Will Help You If You Feel You Do Not Deserve Your Job

You may frequently earn accolades in your job. Your manager, co-workers and everyone in your office may heap praises on you. You may be getting excellent performance reviews also. But in your heart of hearts, you may be feeling that you do not deserve the job. You may also be constantly afraid that someone in your company will find out that you are not fit enough for the job.

Experts have given a name to this phenomenon and it is called “the impostor syndrome”. According to researchers of Georgia State University, even a number of high achievers have this problem. Dr. Valerie Young who has authored the book "The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women" says that those who have this problem may downplay their achievements or accomplishments and may think that if they can do a job, anybody else can also do. This means these people are looking for reasons outside of themselves to explain their success or achievements.

Such chronic self-doubts are common but they may prevent people from taking up challenges. So, they may fail to realize their fullest potential. If you belong to this group also, you may find the following tips useful so you can overcome this impostor syndrome.

Redefine what competence, success, etc. are

According to Dr. Young, how impostors define competence is not sustainable. Likewise, "success" does not also resonate for some of them because of their thinking that they can not be considered smart. Many of the impostors think that they can be considered successful only if they get a "gold medal" or its equivalent for their work. In short, they think that only if they get perfect performance reviews continuously, if they come out with the right answers for every question and if they are knowledgeable about everything in their field, they can be considered successful. There are yet a few others who feel accomplished only if they move ahead without the help of others.

If you have this impostor syndrome, you may require a big shift in your beliefs. This means you must remind yourself as often as possible that no one can be perfect all the time. You must also remind yourself that equating success with not failing or being perfect is wrong. If have this wrong thinking, you will never learn from your failures and may never grow also.

To have this mental shift, you must change how you do your self-talk. Especially, when you encounter a challenge, the dialogue you have in your head should be something like "this is the right opportunity for learning many things." Of course, this needs a lot of practice but it is not impossible to achieve. Once you make this attitudinal change, you can see wonders.

Validating Your Skills

Even Joyce Roche, who was the Vice President of Global Marketing for Avon Inc. had impostor syndrome despite the fact that she had an Ivy League MBA qualification. It is in her book "The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success", she explains how she got over this problem. She prepared a list of her accomplishments and focused constantly on the list. This proved to be an effective technique for surmounting her problem. By adopting this strategy, she could validate her skills internally and for herself.

Fake It 

To get over your impostor syndrome, you must change your body language suitably so you become a personification of confidence. You may have fear in your mind but if you change your body language and walk holding your head high, you can feel as if confidence is getting infused into your system. 

Amy Cuddy gave a remarkable explanation about this strategy in her TED Talk . According to her, tweaking how you carry yourself will help you change the way your life should unfold. She adds that just two minutes are enough for adopting this strategy and raising the hormones in the body so your leadership qualities and performance levels are enhanced. In short, appropriate body language can help you feel confident.

To summarize, it is easy to get over the impostor syndrome if you redefine success and focus on your accomplishments.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ways to Earn More in Your Career

It is not necessary that you should become a super-saver for building wealth in your career. But do not think that this is an advice against saving money. Regardless of whether you are beginning your career, at the crucial period of your earning years or planning for a career for the second time, you have ways to earn more.

Choose to work in a city where wealth-building is easy

There may be certain cities in your country in which you have maximum earning potential. Another factor you must consider while choosing such a city is housing in that city must be cheaper. There is no point in earning more and parting with a large portion of it towards housing.

You can request for a revision of pay anytime

Some people wait for the time when the performance review is done for requesting for a pay revision. In fact, you can request for an increase in your emoluments any time but you should have a valid case to present for making such a request. Negotiation experts suggest that when you have a discussion with your manager regarding this, you must begin with the raise you desire to have and then, explain the reasons of why you deserve the raise. You must also give a range like you need a raise between $5,000 and $7,000. This gives your manager a choice and this is better than asking for a specific amount. This approach shows that you are flexible. At the same time, the boss can not come out with what is known as a "lowball counteroffer."

Explore the possibilities of becoming a free agent

For regular employees who are on the roll of a company, the raise may not be very big. But if you opt to be a free agent, chances of boosting your income significantly are very high.

Repackaging yourself

After you have put in certain number of years of service, you may have acquired a good amount of experience and your level of expertise may have also gone up. You should therefore make changes to your resume accordingly. Likewise, when you are applying for a specific job, you must customize your resume so you can explain to the prospective employer how your experiences can suit the job. 

Automating job search

There are several simple ways using which you can help hiring managers spot you. One of the ways is to customize your profile on LinkedIn using appropriate keywords that suit the job you are looking for. There may be companies that may have job postings that match with your expectations. Know the keywords they have used on their job listings and incorporate them in your profile.

Climb the rungs of your career ladder fast

A great way to earn more income from your career is to make all possible efforts for climbing the rungs of your career ladder.

Switching ladders

If you are not able to get the promotion you expect despite all your efforts, do not hesitate to have a smooth exit from your existing company so you can join another organization that offers the position you desire to have.

Have alternate plans

Put in place alternative plans like taking up short-term projects, freelancing jobs or pursuing a business in case you think that earning big money in your career is not possible.