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Navigating Your Career with a Mentor

I have a job, I’ve got my degree, and I don’t need a mentor. That is the usual response when the topic of mentoring arises. This is an extremely narrow and obtuse view of the process. For both the novice and the seasoned practitioner, having a mentor can improve your job performance, help you work through the difficulties of the workplace, and provide an array of benefits, both professionally and personally.

The idea that mentors are invaluable is as old as civilization itself. Confucius said that, “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know;” while Socrates posited that “The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.” To be an effective professional, you must constantly seek methods and means to improve yourself, to start to know what you don’t know. You can read books, you can go to continuing education classes or seminars; but, these are merely mentoring by proxy. Much more effective would be to identify someone within your chosen field who has walked the road that you have chosen, and achieved a modicum of success.

Rather than the cold, impersonal pages of a book, this method allows you to find someone whose life experiences mirror yours, who can appreciate and understand the complexities of your situation because they have been there. They can also help you work through the intricacies of your situation, and help you make appropriate decisions based upon the unique set of factors you face, rather than offering a set of universalized platitudes.

The idea of a mentor is not new. Informal mentoring is an accustomed and expected part of evolving within a business. However, your career trajectory may place you outside of your current company, and provide problems that you are not comfortable discussing with someone on the inside. These people, often foisted upon you, may be able to help considerably with how to navigate your present company, but they are much less likely to be able to help you with broader problems, or be willing to extend their advice to topics not related directly to the immediate workplace. It would be difficult to talk openly about wanting to change jobs, move up within the current company, or discuss problems that may impact or influence their job.

Choosing a mentor also gives you the power to decide. You can identify and approach someone that you think reflects your values and vision, rather than having someone’s advice forced on you. Whether this becomes a formal, ritualized meeting, or is an organic result of a developing relationship, make sure that you identify someone who is willing to give you time and advice. Build a relationship and structure that works for both of you, and be sure to express your thanks for any help you receive.

If Socrates and Confucius recognized that they needed outside advice and information, it might behoove you to think just as critically about your future. A mentor is that voice, the advisor who can help you navigate what it is that you don’t know. Perhaps, with a mentor, you can find the true wisdom that will help you have a successful career.

How to Deal With Stress During Your Job Search

It has always been something of a given that adulthood brings with it a certain level of stress. For most folks that has always been manageable, but the economic events of the past few years has meant that there is a lot more stress to go around. You can’t switch on the TV or pick up the newspaper without hearing about another round of layoffs, a record number of foreclosures, and the number of people unemployed reaching percentages that are more than just a little alarming. It’s easy for stress to take a hold, but you have to figure out a way to keep it at bay as much as possible and stop it from ruling your life. Let’s look at a few ways you can do just that.

The first thing you have to do is limit the amount of negative news that you are exposed to. We’ve already said that much of the bad economic information is delivered via the media, so adjust the types of programming that you watch and switch your reading habits. This is especially true if you are unemployed and looking for work, as that sort of negative press can dishearten even the most upbeat of job searcher. It doesn’t mean that you have to ignore the media altogether, it just means you should watch and read something entertaining and fun as opposed to being bombarded with doom and gloom.

Having a little too much time on your hands can often lead to you thinking about all the negative aspects of your life. The more you linger on those negatives, the more likely you are to allow stress into your life. Try to establish a regular daily routine and stick to it as much as possible. Keeping yourself busy is one of the best ways to keep stress at bay and it can also be beneficial to loved ones. Stress has a way of rubbing off on people that you are close too, as they tend to worry when they see you doing the same. Positive actions beget positive thoughts, so fill up your calendar and stick to your schedule.

While a busy schedule is a good thing to maintain, it can only be achieved if you are in good health. Stress can wear you down physically, as it often results in lack of sleep and the loss of desire to eat properly. You have to make sure to look after your mind and body, as doing so will give you the strength and energy to tackle every day in search of positive outcomes. You might think about starting your day with a nice, brisk walk and a good breakfast, as that is often enough to fill your energy reserves for the day ahead. You could also end your day by keeping a journal that lists the positive things that happened during your day. These don’t have to be major events, but just a few good things to help you hit the pillow with a smile.

5 Things You Can Do After the Interview

Going for an interview and answering all those questions presented to you is hard enough but your work isn’t done just yet. There’s more to finding a job than just the interview process. After the interview you have several things that you need to do to increase your chances of finding a job.

1. Keep looking for work

Just because you went to an interview doesn’t give you an excuse to stop looking for work. There’s no guarantee that the hiring manager will make you an offer. If you keep looking you might be able to setup another interview while you wait for the decision of your previous interview. Make sure that the moment your interview is over you start looking for the next job because you’ll increase your chances of getting one if you continue to send out resumes and fill out applications. Don’t sit on your hands and wait for that call, keep looking.

2. Send a thank you email

Be sure you acknowledge the interview and send out a thank you email once you get home. This can be a simple note thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet you. This will let the interviewer know that you actual cared about the interview and that you’re genuinely interested in the position. This might make them look over your application a second tіme and you could just get the job. This might seem like wasted effort but it’s a really good way of presenting yourself in a positive way to potential employers. Surprisingly, very few job seekers do this.

3. Evaluate how you did

Take some time to look over what you said in the interview. Is there any way you can improve your responses in the next interview? Decide what went right in the interview and build off of those positive points. This evaluation can help you better prepare for the next interview. If there’s something that went wrong in the interview then figure out why it went wrong and work to correct it.

4. Remember questions that were difficult

Make note of questions asked of you that you found difficult to answer. Work on these questions and decide how you’ll answer them in the future. It’s possible that during new interviews they will crop up again. Make sure the next interview is a good one and leave a lasting impression by being able to answer all questions even the harder ones asked of you.

5. Follow up with a call or email

Make a call or send an email if you haven’t heard back after some time to determine your status. This can go a long way and the company may see you as someone with determination and might take a second look at your application. If you keep calling then this will probably leave a negative impression so keep it at one or two calls at the most.

Top Six Essential Skills for Job Seekers

As a job seeker you need six essential skills in your job search efforts. These skills will help you with your job searching and more importantly, help you land that job that you have been seeking for so long.

Marketing

You need to be able to market yourself to land a job. Maybe you could have a blog about that demonstrates your expertise in your industry or a particular skill. Have a LinkedIn profile and make sure you’re on Twitter as well. The more you are out there the easier it’s going to be for potential employers to find out more about you. This is thinking outside the box and what you have to do in today’s current job market. This is important especially if you apply for jobs through online job sites.

Sales

When you’re out looking for a job you are essentially selling yourself to the company. You need to have something special that the company needs. You need to rehearse what you’re going to say at an interview and then sell those essential skills to your potential new employer. This could be previous work experience or some skill you have that the employer could benefit from.  Sell yourself as a commodity that will benefit the company. Show them you have what other job seekers don’t have.

Persuasion

With persuasion you don’t want to be pushy but you must let the employer know why they should hire you in the first place. Use the main points that you have about yourself and use these to show the employer why you should be hired. Work experience, your work ethic, and skills all come into play here. It’s more than selling yourself it’s a valid reason why your skills would work for the company. Talk about the total package you offer.

Psychology

You need to know how to ‘read’ your potential employer. Try to pick up on the messages and signals he or she is sending out. If you can figure out the hiring manager during the interview, this will go a long way towards having a successful interview. If it doesn’t seem like a right fit for you at the interview then there’s a good chance that this employer isn’t right for you.

Body Language

Don’t send out negative body language signals during your interview. This can include playing with your hair, slouching, or making other awkward movements. This shows your potential employer that you lack confidence and they will question whether or not they want to hire you. If your interviewer shows similar signals then you need to pull out the stops and get their attention again.

Charisma

You need some personality and charm during your interview. Good looks won’t get you very far when it comes to getting a job. Work on your charisma at home in the mirror and show some confidence when you go for the big interview. The more you do this the better your chances of getting the job. Your personality can matter just as much as your skills or talents. It’s all about how you present yourself.

Use These Techniques to Get That Job

These six techniques will help you land that next job. Just remember that you need to put your very best out there for each interview and grab the attention of the interviewer and keep the attention focused on you and what you have to offer the potential employer and company. Make note of each of these six skills and work on them to the best of your ability.

Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

In her new book “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking“, Susan Cain, a distinguished author, talks about introversion and extroversion and why they are both unique in themselves. In this book you will discover that society has made people think that there is something extremely wrong with being an introvert. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth according to Ms. Cain. In the information that follows, we will take a closer look at this new book and try to provide some insight that will help the reader understand why being an introvert is also part of the overall human makeup.

To begin with, you will get a whole lot more out of this book if you understand the basic meaning behind being an introvert versus being an extrovert. After all, the main purpose behind the book, “Quiet” is to provide you with a deeper understanding of what it’s like to live as an introvert in an overly celebrated extroversion society.

Being an Extrovert: Qualities

  • Obtaining and being concerned with gratification that comes outside of one’s self
  • Comfortable in large groups
  • Always involved or engaged in public or community activities
  • Gregarious
  • Assertive
  • Talkative
  • Extremely enthusiastic

Being an Extrovert: Work Environment

  • Sales
  • Managing large groups
  • Teaching
  • Political aspirations

Being an Introvert: Qualities

  • Predominately interested and concerned with one’s own mind
  • More energy during self reflection
  • Much more reserved
  • Less talkative
  • Much more independent
  • Much more solitary

Being an Introvert: Work Environment

  • Inventor
  • Writer
  • Computer programmer
  • Sculptor
  • Painter

Although the information listed above will show only some differences between introversion and extroversion, the idea is to give you an understanding of what it means to be either one, and how this book talks about being an introvert living in a society that promotes extroversion.

This book touches on a variety of different issues which begins with the ideal of being an extrovert. This is something that has been instilled in almost every one since their first day of school. Because of this cultural ideal, school systems combine 20 to 30 students in a single classroom based on the ideology that everyone is an extrovert, therefore everyone learns the same way. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ms. Cain goes on to talk about charisma and leadership and how collaboration can sometimes be the main killer behind creativity. This is talked about in great length because there are introverts who are forced to collaborate with others and move away what comes natural to them and that is their creativity that comes from living and being within themselves. She also talks about how the extrovert ideal creates individuals that are not all that individual. Most people, over time begin to mirror each other which ultimately will limit the production of individuality.

In this book, Ms. Cain also talks about the historical roots of the extrovert ideal, the pitfalls, defining both introversion and extroversion, distinguishing what introversion is, and differentiating the core of both identities. She also talks about those that have both personality traits whereas sometimes a person may act as though they are an introvert, and at other times act as though they are extroverts.

Towards the end of the book, Ms. Cain also talks about the psychology of temperament, what it’s like to be an introvert in the workplace, child and education development, finding a balance in a person’s life in terms of trying to dominate one ideal or another, and what the future holds for the extroversion idealism and what it will be like to be an introvert in the future.

Quite frankly, this is one book that will have you riveted to the pages simply because of the information provided on both aspects of a person’s personality. “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” is a book that will help you understand that you have been created the way you are for a purpose. And as an introvert, you may feel that extroverts have it good right now; however, it’s important for you to know that you have a place – because when all of the noise dies down, people tend to look towards the thinker because for the most part an introvert really does have superior characteristics.

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