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Good Networking Is About Great Listening

The one thing you cannot create more of is time, so you need to maximize every opportunity you have to its fullest potential — especially when you’re networking.

You know the importance of networking for your career today and in the future. What you may not know, however, is exactly how to use a networking event to enhance your personal brand. If you want to set yourself apart and establish a great, lasting reputation, your best bet is to use these events to practice and improve your soft skills — especially as a listener.

In today’s world, people are too quick to talk about themselves, and if they aren’t talking, they are thinking about what they want to say next. Very few of us ever really listen to the people with whom we are speaking. This leads to one-sided conversations where both parties are simply talking at one another.

Here are some tips on how to become a better listener and utilize your next networking event to bolster your personal brand:

1. Do Some Preparation

Before you attend the networking event, see if you can find out who else is attending. Are there any names you recognize? Take a look at your LinkedIn connections: Will any of them be there?

Write down a list of names of the attendees with whom you want to connect at the event. It really helps to be a LinkedIn connection first. That way, people at the event will at least recognize your face as familiar.

Look up your target connections to learn more about them. For each person, prepare a relevant lead-in question based on the information you uncover. This will help you get conversations going on a more personable and engaging note, ensuring a positive first impression.

2. Good Listeners Are Remembered

You will talk to many different people at a networking event, but as mentioned above, those who stand out to you will be those who really listen and really respond to you. You should try to be one of those people for other attendees.

Everyone is an expert on themselves, so their default is to talk mostly about themselves. Instead of returning the favor and talking about yourself, focus on the other person. You’ll earn a lot more respect in return. Good listeners are rare, but they always make their conversation partners feel great about themselves. Sure, being a good listener may not be the kind of skill you can list on a resume, but it is the kind of skill that makes your reputation skyrocket.

3. Ask Insightful Questions

You can boost your credibility significantly by asking insightful questions that encourage the other person to continue talking about something for which they have a passion. Remember, the idea is to let your new connections do most of the talking while you act as an intentional listener.

As a person is talking, listen for key ideas that can clue you in on how you might be able to add value to their life. For example, if someone is talking about a problem they have, think about whether you have a solution. You may not be an expert in their specific line of work, but you may know someone who is and can offer assistance.

The networking event itself isn’t always the best time to go into specific details, since interruptions can happen at any moment. Instead, get the person’s contact information and follow up with them later.

When you combine listening skills with insightful questions, people will take notice. When you leave a conversation, people will be thinking very highly of you — even if you didn’t say much.

4. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Even if you have mastered the first three tips, your efforts will be wasted if you fail to follow up. You don’t have to call, email, or text your new connections as soon as you’ve left the event, but consider reaching out to thank them for their time within the next day or so. At that point, you can invite them to other events or see if they would like to get together with you individually. You don’t necessarily have to follow up with every person with whom you talked at the event, but you should follow up with the people you connected with the most.

It takes a well-rounded effort to be seen as an expert in your industry. Listening is a key part of that effort, especially when you attend networking events. You want to be remembered for the right reasons — and being remembered as the person who sincerely cared about helping others is one of the best ways to be remembered. To keep you personal brand at the top of others’ minds, take the time to connect with them by putting your listening skills into action.

Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, CERW, CEMC, is a certified professional resume writer, career consultant, and the president of Professional Resume Services.

Start Small: 22 Simple Ways to Start Investing in Your Success Today

Financially speaking, smart people invest early and use the advantage of smaller gains in the shorter term to create big payoffs in the long run. Whether we’re talking mutual funds, CDs, or your retirement portfolio, slow and steady wins the race.

As it turns out, the same logic applies to investing in yourself: By making incremental investments of time and energy in small changes today, you can rack up massive dividends in the long run in the form of better health, happier relationships, a more successful career, and even a longer life.

Lexington Law put together an infographic outlining 22 science-backed ways you can start investing in your own success today. Each of these investments is relatively small, but in aggregate and over time, they can lead serious returns. Check it out below:

Landing Your First Post-Graduation Job: 7 Practical Tips

Congratulations! Graduating from college and looking for your first “real” job is an exciting and daunting time!

The good news is the national unemployment rate is only 3.6 percent as of April 2019.

The bad news: It takes an average of five months to land a job, and 82 percent of job seekers find the process stressful, according to a recent study.

So while the economy may be strong, you are still likely to face some challenges along the way. If you want to find the fastest path to job search success, use these tips:

1. Focus on the Basics When It Comes to Your Resume

What makes for a perfect resume depends heavily on the industry and specific job you’re targeting, but there are a few best practices every applicant can follow.

First and foremost, do not lie on your resume. Embellishing slightly to position yourself in the best light is different from outright misrepresenting your skills and experience. Bottom line: You will be found out quickly, so stick to the truth.

Be sure to spellcheck and proofread your resume as well! Spelling and grammatical errors indicate carelessness and a lack of attention to detail on the part of a candidate. Do not rely totally on digital spellcheck tools; they are not perfect. Print out a copy to review carefully for yourself, or ask someone you trust to proof it for you.

Lastly, always bring a hard copy of your resume to an interview. This is a tried-and-true rule, and it shows you are prepared to present yourself for the opportunity at hand.

2. Understand Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant tracking systems (ATSs) are increasingly popular. According to Jobscan, about 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies use them.

ATSs help weed out unqualified applicants based on job- and company-relevant keywords and criteria in their resumes. This is why it’s a bad idea to blanket apply to every job you come across. Getting through the initial ATS screening requires that you tailor every part of your application, including your resume, cover letter, and any supplemental information. Make sure your experience and qualifications are presented in a way that is clearly relevant to the job, and incorporate keywords from the job description itself to pass the ATS scan.

3. Ask Thoughtful Questions

Once you land an interview, you have to do your homework. You should come prepared with a list of questions about the role and company. Skip the vague and generic questions, and instead ask ones that are concrete and specific. Thoughtful, nuanced questions show that you are a serious candidate who has thoroughly researched the company. In my experience, these three questions from candidates were especially impressive:

– What is the financial well-being of the company?
– Can you tell me about the history of the company?
– What is the employee engagement score of the company? What are you doing to improve it?

4. Prepare for Different Interview Styles

You may encounter many different types of interviews. For more technical roles, you might even be expected to whiteboard or take tests. Always gather as much information as you can about the interview format ahead of time to prepare properly.

In general, there are two types of standard interview questions you must be ready for: behavioral and situational.

Behavioral interview questions focus on things you’ve done in the past. The interviewer may ask you about a difficult experience or how you managed multiple tasks at once. They want responses based on real-life events that demonstrate your ability to work through problems and adapt to various situations.

Situational interview questions are more difficult, and they generally require you to think on your feet. The interviewer will a pose hypothetical situation to get a sense of how you would handle yourself in a certain circumstance.

Many employers will incorporate both types of questions into their interviews to get a well-rounded understanding of the individual and determine whether there is a good fit. Prepare for both so you are not caught off guard.

5. Make a Strong First Impression

Even in our age of laid-back workplaces, it is still incredibly important to be mindful of how you present yourself. If you’re unsure about proper interview attire, ask about the company dress code or wear business casual to be safe. Remember that you can never make another first impression.

6. Know the Proper Etiquette

Many interviewees are unsure whether they should ask about salary and benefits. The short answer is: Don’t bring the topic up during the first interview, unless the employer does. During the initial stages of the hiring process, it is far more important for you to focus on the role and company and determine if you can see yourself there. Once a fit is established, you can open lines of communication about salary during the next step.

7. Be Proactive After Your Interview

If you don’t already have your interviewer’s email address, be sure to ask for it before you leave. Then, send a thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview. It’s a simple practice that many job seekers forget, but it can make all the difference. Hiring experts agree that a thank-you note will make you stand out from other applicants.

Additionally, make sure to ask about the next steps so that you have a timeframe and know when it is appropriate to follow up.

Take the time to properly prepare for your job search. Research and due diligence will make all the difference!

Sandi Knight currently serves as senior vice president, chief human resources officer, of HealthMarkets.

How to Market Your Resume Like a Pro

When you’re eager to jump into a new role and have spent time and effort crafting a fresh resume, it can be almost soul-crushing to have your applications repeatedly rejected or simply ignored.

However, if you’re only applying to publicly advertised jobs, you’re missing out on a huge pool of opportunity. The perfect role is out there, and you can get it — you may just need to dig a little deeper to find the right set of hands for your resume.

If you want to catch more employer attention, follow these tips to market your resume like a pro:

1. First, Make Sure Your Resume Is Flawless

No matter how skilled you are or how smartly you market yourself, you won’t make any progress on your job search if your resume is less than stellar. The document should be well designed and easy to read. It should be a breeze for recruiters and hiring managers to find the critical information they’re looking for when they scan your resume. Keep your resume clean and readable with bullet-pointed lists. Ensure there is white space between each section, use a clear and simple font, and utilize bold text for subheadings and key information.

You should also ensure the most relevant and impactful information appears in the top third of the first page of your resume, as this is what recruiters will read first. Don’t forget to tailor your resume to each company and role you apply to. Finally, finish by triple-checking your spelling and grammar.

2. Make Your Resume Easy to Find

You have probably already applied to advertised jobs, and you should definitely continue to do so. However, you are not fully leveraging job sites to your advantage if you are not also uploading your resume to these sites. That way, recruiters and employers will actually start coming to you.

Hiring authorities use job sites to source, identify, and contact suitable candidates for their roles. If you keep an updated resume on the right job sites, you will turn up in their searches. In effect, the jobs will start coming to you.

Try uploading your resume to the big names like Glassdoor, Monster, and Indeed, as well as any niche sites that are relevant to your target industry or role.

3. Make the Most of LinkedIn

Most recruiters use LinkedIn as a key part of their recruitment strategies, and in many industries, LinkedIn is the first port of call when a new job opens up. For that reason, having a well-written LinkedIn profile is essential. Not only will this allow recruiters to contact you directly about relevant roles, but it is also quite likely that employers will check out your profile before inviting you for an interview. Make sure they like what they see.

Your profile should offer an in-depth view of your skills, strengths, and professional experiences. Build further credibility by asking current or former colleagues to leave you recommendations and endorse your skills as well.

4. Send Speculative Applications

When you apply to a job advertisement, you are adding yourself to a huge pool of competitors who all applied for the same role. The better bet is to get your foot in the door before a job is even advertised.

That may sound impossible, but it really isn’t. You just need to send out speculative applications. Essentially, this means reaching out to companies for which you’d like to work and getting yourself on their radars. Even if the organization doesn’t have a role for you at the moment, you will be top of mind when something opens up.

Do some research and make a list of target employers where your skills and personality would be a good fit. Then, use each company’s website and/or LinkedIn to find email addresses for relevant recruiters and HR managers. Once you have the contact info, send out a customized email detailing your interest in the company, why you’d be a good fit for the team, and what sort of role you are looking for.

5. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

If you have applied for tons of vacancies but have heard nothing back from most of them, there is no harm in following up. In fact, doing so may give recruiters a nudge to look at or reassess your application.

Keep a simple spreadsheet of all the jobs you apply to. If you don’t hear back within a week, send a polite, professional email to ask if the person has had a chance to read your application yet. Make sure to reiterate your interest in the job, why you’d be a good fit, and that you would appreciate the opportunity to interview.

By adding these tips and techniques to your job-hunting strategy, you can significantly boost your chances of finding the right role.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of StandOut CV.

5 Ways to Bring Humor Into Your Next Interview

Imagine you’re trying to decide which of two candidates to hire. One has all of the requisite skills, but their interview was incredibly boring. It’s possible they’re actually a robot. The other also has the right skills, and you had a great time chatting with them. There was lots of laughter to be had.

Unless you’re specifically looking for an android, you’re most likely going to hire the second person.

Using humor in an interview is a great way to stand out, be memorable, and have fun during the challenging process that is the job search. Here are five ways to take a more humorous approach to your next interview:

1. Talk to Your Hype Person

Your mindset going into a challenging conversation can determine how you perform, so make sure yours is a positive one.

Ahead of the interview, chat with a friend or family member whom you can count on to hype you up about how awesome you are. This should be the person who says your haircut looks amazing even when you know it’s the wrong look for you, not the person who still brings up that one time you spilled chocolate milk all over your pants in middle school.

2. Smile

As Victor Borge once said, “The shortest distance between two people is a smile.” When we see someone smile, the mirror neurons in our brains cause us to reflect their behavior. So, if you walk in with a smile, the interviewer is likely to smile back — and you’ve just started building a human connection.

Research also suggests our body language can have a huge impact on our mood, which means striking the right pose can actually make you happier. Plus, no one wants to work with a curmudgeon.

3. Respond With Stories

Answer (some) questions with a story instead of just giving one- or two-word responses. In those stories, share relatable details that add color and serve as connecting points for the interviewer.

For example, rather than just saying, “I worked at P&G as a project manager,” you can say something like: “I grew up in Cincinnati, home of the best ice cream on the planet, and I always wanted to work at P&G. I went to Ohio State to get a degree in computer science and engineering, and I started working as a project manager after I graduated.”

Now, the interviewer can follow up on only the work-related details if they want, or they can ask about Cincinnati, amazing ice cream, or the Ohio State University.

4. Ask Culture Questions

People sometimes forget that an interview is just as much about you deciding if you want to work for that company as it is about the company deciding if it wants to hire you. You can better determine whether the company is a place you actually want to work by asking questions about the culture.

A question like “When was the last time you laughed at work?” can help you gauge whether or not people like to have fun. An answer like, “Oh, we laugh all the time! Just this morning …” is a good sign. On the other hand, “Hmm, I accidentally laughed once back in 2012 because my phone headset tickled my cheek” is not.

5. Follow Up With Humor

The job search is not over once the interview ends. When sending a follow-up email, include a link to something funny that reminded you of the interviewer or the company (make sure the humor is positive, of course).  This provides value to the interviewer, helps build the relationship, and says you’re not just in it for the money (even if you really are).

Humor can be a fantastic way to get better results while having more fun, and a job interview is a great time to use it. By using positive, appropriate humor, you’ll stand out from the boring candidates and show that you’re someone worth spending the workday with.

Andrew Tarvin is the author of Humor That Works: The Missing Skill for Success and Happiness at Work and CEO of Humor That Works. Connect with him on Twitter: @drewtarvin.

Considering a Coworking Space? Keep These Things in Mind:

Accepting a position as a remote worker no longer means working at home alone in your PJs. As coworking spaces gain popularity across the country, you have more opportunities to work with — or at least in the company of — others, and possibly work more productively.

A coworking space is a shared work area designed for members and guests to spend all or part of their workday. Most coworking spaces use a membership model where you pay different rates depending on the access you want, from unlimited to a specific number of days or hours per week. Some coworking spaces also offer guest rates if you need to use the facilities for just a day.

Coworking spaces offer all the amenities of your typical office, including plenty of seats, desks, and even comfy couches. Private offices are often available for drop-in use or reservation. Most coworking spaces are equipped to accommodate technology needs as well, from high-speed Internet connections to video conferencing facilities. Shared kitchens and mail service are also common.

While coworking spaces are popular with small, home-based business owners, remote workers from larger companies are also finding these spaces valuable. Home-based business owners often use coworking spaces for meetings or as reliable mailing addresses, while remote workers enjoy being able to telecommute while still having the benefit of a social office environment. If you need to travel as part of your job, you might be able to find a coworking space with locations in multiple cities that you can access under one membership fee.

What to Look for in a Coworking Space

If you are considering accepting a remote assignment, it is worth looking for a local coworking space while you are engaging in your job search. You could negotiate the membership fee into your job offer. The challenge will be finding the right space for you. As the number of coworking spaces increases, you have more options.

First, you should consider the hours you will need access to the space, which are particularly important if your work will require you to connect with people in different time zones. Some coworking spaces are available 24 hours a day, while others are more limited.

Next, you should make sure you are comfortable with the security measures the coworking space has in place. Learn about the system to gain access to the space. The space may provide pass cards for 24-hour access, but you will want to make sure there are additional security features as well, such as cameras. You should also inquire if there is staff present on site to enforce security measures or help with technology. If staff is available, be sure to check what their schedule is.

Before making a commitment, visit the coworking space to ensure the environment is comfortable for you. You will want to check noise and traffic levels at different times of day. Will the type of workspace you need be available when you need it, even during busy periods? Will you have access to private spaces when you need them?

Some coworking spaces emphasize community, hosting happy hours, educational gatherings, or other special events. Others may promote privacy and enforce a professional on-site etiquette of keeping to yourself. Some spaces now provide access to child care, while others allow pets. Finding the right match could turn your lonely remote work assignment into an opportunity to spend time in a unique and productive work environment.

Dr. Lori Long is a professor of management at Baldwin Wallace University.

7 Reflective Questions That Lead to Better Habits

Article by Jacklyn Janeksela

It hurts to admit you have not pursued happiness or the best versions of yourself. To escape this reality, we often convince ourselves everything is okay, in the process ignoring or diminishing our actual well-being. We fall victim to old habits as coping mechanisms, which prevent us from committing to change and stifle growth.

When you realize the life you have isn’t the one you had envisioned, what do you do? Or better yet, what should you do?

First, you must start by evaluating your old thought patterns and habits, and then you must continue the journey by asking hard questions — questions that address core issues and tackle old habits while opening space for new ones to blossom.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you rekindle a relationship with your own version of happiness and a life full of significance:

1. Can I Take Small Steps Today That Lead to a Better Tomorrow?

To avoid jumping in over your head, start small. Manageable, meaningful actions effect change. Habits are built from small changes over a long period of time. The key to success here is consistency.

Daily changes reinforce positive attitudes and energies. Don’t go this step alone. Ask your loved ones to join you as accountability partners. Let your momentum provoke others to create better habits for themselves as well.

2. What Value Do I Want to Bring to My Life?

Which areas of your life do you wish to highlight? Does your mission deal with self or with others? Can you describe the value of that mission in five words?

If you are not sure where to start, consider what you were drawn to as a child. Does that feel like a value you’d like to pursue or share with the world? Touch base with what matters to you most to foster a fresh relationship with your best self. If you notice that some habits no longer support your life’s purpose, you’ve got to let them go. The value you desire cannot conflict with your actions, otherwise you’ll get nowhere fast.

3. Where Do I Struggle With Time, Energy, and Excuses?

It is easier to give excuses than to take the appropriate steps toward better habits. However, knowing more about these excuses will help you pinpoint their triggers.

There is a science to breaking bad habits. If you struggle with time, can you remove a habit that no longer serves you to make room for a habit that supports growth? If you struggle with energy, consider where you spend your energy on insignificant details that prevent you from gathering energy for positive goals. Make time and energy work for and not against you. Old habits become crutches, and along the way, we convince ourselves the bone will never mend, the wound will never heal. The truth is most excuses are directly linked to fear.

4. What Am I Afraid Of?

We often get attached to bad habits because we’re not ready for change. Victimhood, although painful, is a safe place because it is comfortable and familiar.

In order to break ties with old habits and make room for positive ones, a few things must happen. You must be willing to be vulnerable and honest, which involves telling truths that are uncomfortable. You must be compassionate with yourself and avoid judgment so that better habits can grow. Each time a fear surfaces, sit with it and ask how you can turn the negative into a positive.

5. Who Can Be a Source of Inspiration, an Expander, or a Supporter?

Surround yourself with positive people doing positive things and you’ll organically follow suit. A community is a key ingredient of successful change. Don’t be afraid to go forward. Push into those growth edges by asking people for help.

The people around us are reflections of who we wish to become — and sometimes, of who we don’t want to become. When you immerse yourself in a healthy community, you’ll find yourself mimicking healthy behaviors in powerful ways — perhaps even subconsciously. The power of human connection should not be underestimated.

6. Do I Love Myself?

Even for those of us who are already on a quest for self-love, this question is tough to ask and answer. Still, loving yourself matters a lot. Loving yourself means seeking habits that build a better version of you. Self-love is both the pursuit of happiness and the willingness to be selfish. Loving yourself also means giving back to others to diminish your ego. Better habits can start by helping others lead better lives, too.

7. What Would My Younger Self Say About Me Today?

Your younger self should be proud of who you are today. What habits do you engage in that don’t bring a sense of joy to your younger self?

The goal is to be a light unto your own path. Inspire yourself. Be a hero. Be the person your younger self would admire. When you tap into this mindset, many old habits become easier to eliminate while others simply fade away.

A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA, is a freelance writer and a poet. Her online self, aka that writing life, can be found here. She works for Culture Designers, Thrillist, and Honey Colony, among others; her poetry is tangled on the interwebs. Her herbal alchemy meets astrology creative business can be found here. She explores self through poetry, planets, and photography at female filet.

Knowing When to Bark: How Thinking Like a Dog Can Help You Advance at Work

Need a little career advice? Maybe you should ask your dog.

That’s the premise of the new book from business strategist and corporate CEO Scott MacDonald, Think Like a Dog: How Dogs Teach Us to He Happy in Life and Successful at Work. “Cowritten” by MacDonald’s rescue dog Sadie, Think Like a Dog explores the myriad ways in which we could all stand to be a little more like man’s best friend.

In the following excerpt, Sadie and MacDonald ruminate on the importance of barking — or, as we humans might call it, knowing when to speak up.

***

Barking can serve as a warning, like when I see a stranger approaching my house. And barking provides protection, because no one likes to confront a barking dog. Dogs bark more when leashed than when walking off leash; we are usually protecting our companion or warning others not to harm them.

Generally, barking is a good thing, but too much barking or dogs barking at the wrong things can really irritate people, and it is not worth it. Rosie barks at almost everyone when she is on a leash. Maybe she is afraid or anxious about being constrained by the leash, because she doesn’t bark much when she is not on the leash.

Barking is an important form of communicating. I cannot imagine a day without barking. But knowing when to bark is key to doing my job and being rewarded.

People exhibit similar tendencies to those described above by Sadie. Although people don’t bark because someone else barks, we do often mimic others. Investors often buy a stock just because other investors are buying it; it’s called “momentum investing.” Automobile drivers often slow down when others slow down, even if there is no accident or construction. Doing something because someone else is doing it may not make sense, but it is fairly common behavior.

In personal relationships, “barking” can have a significant effect on how good or bad a relationship becomes. Frequent complaints and criticisms cause resentment and unhappiness. The abused (or barked at) partner often withdraws or, alternatively, fights back and escalates the confrontation.

Failure to discuss problems (i.e., not barking) can also lead to resentment and future confrontation. When problems are not communicated and discussed, they do not go away but rather build up. Problems that are not addressed become bigger, more impactful, and more difficult to resolve.

In human terms, barking that is not alerting or communicating information can be viewed as complaining. Psychologist Dr. Lisa Juliano warns about those who complain too much. Characteristics of chronic complainers include the following:

– Nothing is good enough for them.
– They expect the worst — or, if not the worst, disappointment.
– They find themselves perplexed by those who seem cheery most of the time.

If someone exhibits these traits, he or she is probably complaining too much and irritating others.

Dr. Juliano divides complaints into three general categories, which I have paraphrased:

  1. The person complains about poor service or product deficiencies and is often effective in registering and bringing attention to the perceived problem. This can lead to a good outcome.
  2. The person is venting or getting something off her chest, which might make her feel better but does not lead to productive engagement. Constant venting without action is the same as whining.
  3. The person makes ineffective complaints, usually about something he has no control over, which can be an excuse for failure or a way to blame others for problems he encounters.

According to Dr. Juliano, some barking or complaining is good and helpful in achieving desirable results. For example, my partner, Patti, was a school principal for several years. When a teacher misbehaved or performed poorly, Patti usually knew about it, but sometimes it came to her attention because another teacher or a parent complained. Without a complaint, addressing the behavior would have been unnecessarily delayed to the detriment of the schoolchildren. Complaints, as long as they are fair, can provide an important and timely alert — like barking can.

In other situations, barking or complaining can be counterproductive and ineffective. Complaints have an important role in people’s lives, but excessive complaining, venting, or unfairly blaming others for one’s problems can be irritating and unproductive.

At work, a barking employee sometimes intends to promote his or her advancement or compensation. However, beware of self-promoters. The opposite of advancing oneself through demonstrated work effort is acting as a self-promoter. These employees try to take credit for what others have helped accomplish; they talk about their success instead of the organization’s success; they are individuals when teammates are needed. Successful operations are not built around people who are self-focused and always barking to draw attention to themselves.

In business, most companies — like Investa, where I was CEO — have formal annual staff reviews. This is a key time for an employee to speak up, review accomplishments, and ask for recognition and compensation. Companies and organizations typically invite employee responses during this time, and everyone needs to take full advantage. If companies or organizations do not have a formal employee review period, they are not managing their people well. A regular formal review is an essential part of people management. A confidential employee attitude survey is also a key management tool.

Between formal review periods, it was not uncommon for an employee to ask me, “How am I doing?” or ask advice on how to move ahead. Executives and managers (including me) typically like to give advice when asked. Asking for guidance and advice shows someone is concerned with self-improvement and advancing his or her career by helping the organization meet its goals. These people merit watching and mentoring.

If an employee sees something that is inappropriate or unethical, it is his or her responsibility to raise the issue with executives. No one should work or live in an unethical environment. No dog should remain silent when barking is the right thing to do, and no job is worth losing one’s self-respect by countenancing wrong behavior. The consequences of doing nothing are generally worse than the consequences of speaking up.

For years, sexual harassment was tolerated in many companies and organizations. Victims often did not register complaints because they feared losing their jobs or status, and when complaints were filed, they were often ignored. In more recent times, victims are “barking” complaints about bad and unacceptable behavior, and the chorus of barking has led to resignations of senior executives and widespread changes in practice and policy. Collective barking can be very effective by making too much noise for anyone to ignore.

The importance of moral and ethical behavior in business has become embedded in better business schools. The prestigious Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, for example, has 10 professors in its business ethics group, including Tim Fort, who holds the Everleigh Chair in Business Ethics. I met Fort — who owns and loves dogs — and we discussed the business ethics of honesty and trust as well as dogs, which behave consistently with love, affection, and trust. Fort has published several books, including Ethics and Governance: Business as Mediating Institution. The Kelley School’s focus on ethics in business is admirable and commendable.

In business and in life generally, don’t be distracted; focus on what is really happening and what you can do about it. Don’t hesitate to bark when the situation calls for it.

This has been adapted from Think Like a Dog: How Dogs Teach Us to Be Happy in Life and Successful at Work, 2019 by Scott MacDonald and Sadie, Rescue Dog. Published by Prestyge Books/Indiana University Press.

Never Win Alone: 5 Pieces of Professional Advice for My Younger Self

I’ve spent my entire career servicing the staffing and recruiting industry, and it has been nothing short of incredible.

Throughout the course of my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s largest staffing agencies and the individuals who lead them. The trajectory of the staffing industry and the year-over-year growth at Bullhorn, where I am a managing director, have presented me with amazing experiences that have allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. These last 12+ years have been exciting for me: I started as a business development representative in corporate headquarters in Boston before evolving into a managing director role on our enterprise team, where I now work remotely out of Austin, Texas.

I have been able to grow into the person I am today thanks to the mentors I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned through both good and bad experiences. Given the opportunity share some of the wisdom I gathered over the years with my younger self, here’s what I would say to him — and to anyone else just starting out on their professional path:

1. Bad Meetings, Misaligned Expectations, and Misunderstandings Are Inevitable

These things are going to happen. It’s all about how you respond to the adversity and learn from the experience.

With an analytical mind and an organized approach to task execution, you’d think that planning guarantees success in all of your conversations and meetings. You’re constantly chasing perfection and the satisfaction of meeting and exceeding expectations. However, the reality is that life throws curve balls. There are going to be times when everyone — colleagues, prospects, and even customers — isn’t on the same page. Not all meetings are going to follow an agenda or align with your presentation. Your first meeting with a client being transitioned to you will be a prime example.

You’ve done your homework; you’ve studied their business, read recent press releases and news stories, worked with the previous account manager, and spoken with platform owners. It’s not enough. The business owner has never spoken with you and isn’t excited about a transition. You’ll be frustrated that all of your efforts are going unnoticed, but it’s important you don’t mentally check out. This will be an eye-opening experience, an opportunity to see that sales doesn’t follow a checklist and that relationships across all levels of an organization are critically important. Embrace the experience and grow with it.

2. Stay Focused, and Be Flexible

Constantly set personal goals and lean on yourself for the motivation to reach them.

Sales professions are full of goals — monthly activity goals, quarterly booking goals, and annual growth goals — but you need to supplement them with personal goals so you don’t burn out and lose focus. Personal goals also allow you to hold yourself accountable, and never will this be more important than when you work remotely, like you will in Texas.

Transitioning from an office employee to a remote, home-based employee is challenging. A routine you’ve established over the years will be disrupted, and the face-to-face conversations you’ve come to love and rely on will be harder to have regularly.

Stay flexible and recognize the opportunity you have; use remote work as a catalyst to build a new and more efficient routine. Account for time zone differences and make sure you maintain (and build) relationships with your colleagues through any communication channel necessary. You’re going to miss the water cooler talk, but you’ll appreciate the new work/life balance and the flexibility a home office can grant you. Change is good, and if you embrace the short-term disruption, it’ll help you build some new skills.

3. Never Win Alone, and Never Lose Alone

This mantra comes from my colleague and friend Donny Payne, and it’s a very important one. Selling is a team sport. You’re going to collaborate with others to reach desired outcomes and land the win.

Early in your career, you’re going to be excited by the opportunity to win some deals and make a name for yourself. You’ll think you have what it takes to do it on your own and earn all the glory — and then you’ll lose, only to find out the lessons your colleagues have learned could have been applied to your campaign and changed the end result.

On the enterprise team at Bullhorn and in the sales organization overall, everyone is in it together. We’re a team first. That mentality has to extend beyond your peers on the team to include colleagues in all other functional groups, such as marketing, product, services, and support. Selling enterprise software and solving complex business issues require a collective group to work in unison, and it’s your job to identify the strategy and keep everyone organized. Delivering an incredible customer experience will follow when everyone is equally vested in the success of the client. Remember, you work with some of the most talented people in the industry, and they want to help you.

4. Sales Is a Short-Term Memory Game — Be Wary of High Highs and Low Lows

Sales is a results-driven career, and success is ultimately measured through production and quota achievement. However, it’s also important to remember that each year — and each quarter — the scoreboard resets. Sales is about what you have done lately; keep this in mind when measuring and responding to individual contributions, whether they’re wins or losses.

The work doesn’t stop when you win or lose. In fact, the stakes get higher. When a customer chooses your software or wants to add on to it, they’re entrusting you to help their business achieve key goals or outcomes. You can celebrate once you’ve guided them through a successful implementation and delivered on the sale.

You’ll also learn that your character is truly assessed in how you respond to the losses. People, both internally and externally, will take notice, and the relationships you establish will last beyond a transactional sale. Trust me when I tell you that not everything goes as planned; individuals who may have told you they were going in a different direction will call you months or years down the road looking to reopen a conversation.

5. Remember to Step Back and Appreciate the Journey

You’re the type of person who is constantly thinking about the next step and the next goal, measuring yourself against your colleagues and friends. But not all paths are the same. You need to appreciate what you’ve accomplished on your journey.

Once in a while, you should step away from the day-to-day to remind yourself how fortunate you are to have an opportunity to work for an amazing company that supports your growth professionally and personally. You’re surrounded by all-stars who want to coach, mentor, and provide feedback at any opportunity. Take it all in. If you do that, you’ll continue to grow, and your appetite for change, an agile work environment, and new responsibilities will be fulfilled. Hard work pays off, and you should celebrate your successes with family and friends, preferably on beaches in exotic locations (or wherever your favorite vacation destination may be).

As the saying commonly attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger goes, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” While I have no idea what the next decade will bring, I can only hope for a bit more luck so I can continue to be proud of my accomplishments, the career path I’ve chosen, and the person I’ve become.

Greg LaGarde is a managing director for Bullhorn.

How to Finally Start Leaving Work on Time

In a fast-paced, competitive work environment, it can be a challenge simply to walk out the office door on time. Whenever 5 p.m. rolls around, it feels like there’s still more work to be done. You certainly don’t want to fall behind or look bad compared to your coworkers who are laboring late into the night, and you definitely want your boss to see you as a hard-working team player.

However, a healthy personal life is just as important to your overall well-being as a successful professional life is. Furthermore, finding a consistent way to leave the office on time can actually combat burnout, give you more time to recharge, and make you more productive when you return to work the next day. In short, clocking out on time can make you a better worker, not a less dedicated one — provided you’re getting done everything that needs to get done.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your workday so you can leave at 5 p.m. every evening — without feeling guilty:

1. Learn to Prioritize Your Work

You can’t have a truly effective, highly productive workday without first learning how to prioritize your work. When you know which tasks on your to-do list are most important and most impactful, you can plan out your day to ensure the work that matters most always gets done.

Getting the most important tasks done at the beginning of the day, when you are fresh and energized, can make a world of difference to your productivity. Most of us know the afternoon slump well. Saving your high-priority tasks for later in the day will only make those tasks harder to accomplish. That, in turn, leads to more late nights.

Need help prioritizing your tasks? Try using the Eisenhower matrix method.

2. Exercise Technology Discipline

Do you find yourself browsing social media during work? This is probably slowing you down and consuming valuable time that could be spent on getting those high-priority tasks off your plate.

If you limit your distractions at work, you can increase your productivity during regular work hours and minimize overtime. It’s a simple equation, really: The more time you spend actually working during the day, the less time you’ll have to spend making up for lost work hours during the evening.

If you need help keeping your social media urges in check, explore mobile apps that are designed to reduce digital distractions and keep you on track. A couple I’ve found useful are OFFTIME and Moment, which help coach you away from your phone through time tracking, app blocking, and communication filters.

3. Leave Your Desk More

These days, most communication happens through email. Just because it’s common, however, doesn’t mean it’s effective. We’ve all had the experience of wanting to finish a crucial task but not being able to because we’re still waiting on vital details or resources from a collaborator.

Sometimes, the better option is to get up, take a walk, and have a face-to-face conversation to get things moving and save precious time that would otherwise be spent sitting around and waiting for a response. Get to know the key players on the different teams with which you work so you can go to the right people with the right questions when necessary. When it comes to collaborators outside your organization, try picking up the phone instead of typing yet another email.

4. Establish a Wrap-Up Routine

Give yourself 20 minutes at the end of each day to tie up loose ends. Use this time to review the to-do list you made at the beginning of the day. Is there anything else that needs to get done before you head out? Any finishing touches you have to put on your tasks?

By setting aside a chunk of time to wrap up your daily activities, you not only give yourself the peace of mind to leave work for the day, but you also set yourself up to come in the next morning and get right back to business.

Jordan Perez is an HR expert at ResumePundits.com.