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Success Starts With Self-Love: How to Appreciate Yourself

Article by Michael Pietrzak

John was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1954, but for him, life wasn’t much to be thankful for. A birth defect caused John to wear painful leg braces, and his first-grade teacher told his parents he would never read, write, or amount to anything in life. (Dyslexia and speech impediments, both of which John had, weren’t well understood in the ’50s.)

Accepting that he was worthless, John dropped out of school at age 14 and moved to Hawaii to live in a tent. After a near-death experience, fate brought John an enigmatic 93-year-old mentor who changed his life with a single statement: “Each of us, no matter how seemingly worthless, has genius within us.”

John’s self-image radically improved. He began to read voraciously. He put himself through college, where he graduated magna cum laude. Today, Dr. John Demartini is one of the world’s top human behavioral specialists, a sought-after speaker, and the author of more than 40 books.

Fear and Loathing in the Modern World

“I tell you, my man, this is the American Dream in action!” — Hunter S. Thompson

Most of us born in the West had a much easier start in life than Dr. Demartini, but we still laugh to think we have genius within ourselves. In fact, many of us suffer from low self-esteem.

At a personal development seminar I attended in 2016, one speaker asked the crowd, “How many of you feel like you’re not enough as human beings?” In a stadium packed with successful professionals, 95 percent of the audience raised a hand.

Epidemics of depression, anxiety, addiction, and social isolation are spreading. In a society that idolizes celebrities, athletes, and experts, why do we have so much trouble appreciating the most important people: ourselves?

How to Spot Low Self-Esteem

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” — Mark Twain

Poor self-esteem is subtle. People don’t generally interrupt your morning coffee to tell you how much they suck, nor do we often notice it in ourselves. Instead, unhealthy self-opinions manifest in sneaky ways:

• Depression, anxiety, and body image issues: At times the symptoms are overt, but sometimes you would have no idea a successful person was battling inner demons.
• Perfectionism: Perfectionism doesn’t stem from having high standards, but from wanting the approval of others. The fatal failing of this behavior is that, in striving to be flawless, you’ll always fall short.
• Constant anger: People often use anger to mask their pain. If you’re angry, you don’t need to deal with your shame, hurt, or guilt. It’s a way to pretend the opinions of others don’t actually affect you.
• People-pleasing: A genuine desire to serve others is commendable, but people-pleasing goes beyond service. It becomes a desperate attempt to get from others the love and respect we’re not giving ourselves.
• Addiction: Our society says moderate drug and alcohol use is harmless fun, but these behaviors can be the doors we use to escape from a reality in which we don’t like ourselves very much.
 Narcissism: Know people who are reeeal big on themselves? This self-promotion likely serves to cover up a deep sense of inadequacy. People who are genuinely confident don’t need to tweet about it.

Once you spot one or more of these traits in yourself, you can work to remove them. But then again, what’s the point? Doesn’t achievement require a little suffering?

What’s Self-Love Got to Do With It?

“[L]ove of one’s neighbor is not possible without love of oneself.” — Hermann Hesse

I see you over there, rolling your eyes. I know you. You’ve never missed a credit card payment, your ride still has that new-car smell after five years, and you get too few back-pats from the boss for staying late. Give yourself a hand, because civilization needs you to function.

To you, work and accomplishment are the ultimate successes. Yes, you love your family, but you believe the best way to serve them is to bring home the bacon.

It speaks volumes, then, that so many millennials whose immigrant parents worked 17 jobs to pay for their medical degrees at Harvard are opting out of 40 years of 100-hour weeks in order to enjoy life more. It’s not that they don’t appreciate their parents’ toil, but that they see the insanity of the game.

Our failure to be kind to ourselves has created all the world’s problems: the rampant overconsumption that now threatens the survival of our species, the consumer junk we blow all our disposable income on hoping to fill the void we should fill with genuine self-love.

Accomplishment is noble but empty without fulfillment. Self-love is not an optional frill, it’s the core of life. When it comes to appreciating yourself more, there are two key habits to adopt: words and deeds.

Habit No. 1: Self-Talk

“Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

“Honey, I love you, but you just don’t measure up to my expectations, you embarrass me in public, and you’re not making enough money.”

You wouldn’t talk to your partner this way, yet I bet you don’t hesitate to say such things to yourself. If you want to appreciate yourself, you need to start with the way you talk to yourself. Your mindset determines how you experience life.

Thought creates reality. When your self-talk is healthy, life will seem beautiful. Conversely, negative thoughts cause negative emotions and make life hell.

According to psychologist Dr. David Burns, negative self-talk manifests in distorted thoughts. Some common examples include:

• All-or-nothing thinking happens when we evaluate events as black and white. Example: I lost the sale; my career is over.
• Overgeneralization is a belief that one instance of failure means you will always fail. Example: I asked a woman out and she said no; I’ll be forever alone.
• Mental filters cause us to focus on a single failure and ignore our many successes. Example: I missed that one free throw; I’m not cut out for basketball.
• Disqualifying the positive happens when we turn a good thing into a bad thing. Example: You receive a compliment and think, “They’re patronizing me.”
• Mind reading happens when you pretend to know what someone else is thinking. Example: My audience looks tired. I must be boring!
• The fortune-teller error takes place when you convince yourself that you just know something will go wrong. Example: I’m definitely going to fail this exam.

Low self-esteem always starts with negative self-talk. Pull this thinking up by the weeds and you’ll eliminate negative moods.

A word of caution: In your quest for a healthy self-image, avoid taking a wrong turn down the road to narcissism. Healthy self-esteem does not require that you feel superior to others. All players lose that zero-sum game. Don’t confuse loving yourself with loving your ego.

Habit No. 2: Self-Care

“A field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.” — Ovid

Practicing healthy self-talk is how you start to appreciate yourself, but it’s not enough on its own. If your boss constantly told you how great you were but forced you to work 18-hour days, the praise would become worthless.

Action needs to follow your words. Think of positive self-talk as the foundation for healthy self-esteem and self-care as the structure you build on top of that foundation. First, you tell yourself you’re worth it; then you prove it.

Self-care is the act of recharging your battery and topping up your tank. Each of us has unique needs, but we all know intuitively what fills us up. There’s no shortage of self-care ideas out there if you need inspiration. Google usually returns a list like: get a massage, eat healthy, or go for a walk.

Rather than write a prescription for you, I’d like to share some strategies to help you create space in your life for self-care. But first, a word of warning.

Adulting Is Not Self-Care

Self-care is not self-maintenance. You know that getting a regular checkup and brushing your teeth will make a better you, but self-care includes only those activities that truly give you joy and recharge your energy — things that simultaneously plant your feet on the ground and lift your soul to the clouds.

In my case, an hour walking alone in the woods takes me out of the fray of an ambitious to-do list and moves my focus to my heart. I re-enter civilization with new ideas and energy, but also with the peace of knowing my biggest challenges are trivial in a 14-billion-year-old universe. If you don’t come away feeling at least half this good, you may be choosing the wrong self-care acts.

Beware: Numbing is also not self-care. The right acts will make you feel more — more alive, more connected, more calm, more excited, and more appreciative. Self-care that numbs you can’t recharge you. Escaping into TV, alcohol, or Instagram can be a welcome break from work stress, but too much escaping is about as wholesome as eating a box of cardboard and can be a quick route to self-loathing. If you’re drawn to this kind of escapism, it may signal a need to change your relaxation habits.

Self-Care Strategies

These practices will help you create space for self-care in your life. Pick whichever works for you.

1. The Artist Date

“If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked.” — Julia Cameron

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron teaches two fundamental self-care practices: morning pages (journaling) and the artist date (or “me time,” if you prefer). These work for everyone, not just artists.

Cameron defines the artist date as “an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers.” Two hours a week is enough for such a date.

What do you do in this time? Anything you want! The only rules are you have to do it alone and it has to be fun. The activity doesn’t need to be edifying (e.g., taking a class or reading), and it works better when you chase your curiosity. In this space, you can start to hear your inner voice again, the one that’s always there, ready to tell you how to be good to yourself.

2. The Deloading Phase

“Music is the silence between the notes.” — Claude Debussy

Top athletes tend to claim they’re always giving 110 percent, but they know results do not come from constantly running at the redline.

All effective training includes a deload phase, usually a week, during which you scale back your efforts. In my own weightlifting, this means loading up with only 50 or 70 percent of my training weight. It feels ridiculous, like throwing around a sack of feathers, and my mind fights it. However, all things have a rhythm, including your body, which needs a lighter week to “prepare … for the increased demand of the next phase.”

Work life guru Tim Ferriss has applied the deloading concept to his professional activities. He batches intense periods of similar tasks (writing blog posts and recording podcasts, for example), which he balances with periods of what he calls “unplugging and f—ing around.”

Like Ferriss, I defend my deload time. By working less, I accomplish more. Build a deload phase into your calendar now (it doesn’t have to be an entire week), and you’ll learn that by slowing down from time to time, you can go faster overall.

3. Just Play More

“[S]eriousness is someone speaking in the context of the possibility of tragedy.” — Alan Watts

Jane McGonigal turned her recovery from a concussion into a game, then a graduate school project, and then a viral TED Talk with 6 million views. Today, she’s the world’s foremost advocate of play.

When we face failures and challenges, we feel overwhelmed, anxious, and maybe depressed, McGonigal says — but “we never have those feelings when we’re playing games.”

In the same way that it’s impossible to experience negative feelings when we’re filled with gratitude, play can help us trade self-flagellation for self-love. When we play games, we experience “eustress,” or positive stress, which makes us feel optimized and energized. On the other hand, the stress caused by real-world problems can dominate our consciousness when we neglect self-care.

Play is a human need, a loving act of self-care that can make our lives feel less like work. Psychologist Dr. Neil Fiore suggests scheduling play before work each week as a prescription for procrastination. It worked for Albert Einstein: It is said that, when stuck on a problem, he would play the violin.

When Guilt Attacks!

“There’s no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.” — Bill Watterson

For those of us who believe our work equals our worth (all of us), you can bet you’ll feel some guilt when you first adopt a policy of intentionally creating me time. The decision to take the afternoon off to be “selfish” will meet mental resistance at first. For example: “I’m a mother of three kids under 5 who need me all the time! How could I just abandon them to go get a massage?”

You do it by recognizing that self-care is child-care. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Want to be a great mother/father/employee/partner? Then take an artist date to go play during your deload week. The people around you, and your work, will benefit from a happier, more creative, and more effective you.

Appreciating yourself might sound like a luxury you can afford only when all the chores are done, but having compassion for yourself is the most practical, responsible approach to life because it lets you serve at your maximum potential.

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

Michael Pietrzak is a mindset and habits coach to entrepreneurs. He founded So You Want to Write? Inc., which helps writers improve and get published. Michael is passionate about weightlifting, great books, and playing guitar.

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What Are You Willing to Be Fired For?

When we work hard on something we believe in, it’s called passion. When we work hard on something we don’t believe in, it’s called stress. – Simon Sinek

When searching for the next dream job, we often consider factors like the type of work we will be doing, compensation, and title. Too often, we fail to dig deeper and learn what it would truly be like to work in that organization, what the cultural norms are, and whether they align or conflict with our own core values. Alignment will allow you to show up fully at work and thrive. Misalignment can create conditions for stress, underperformance, and disengagement, which may ultimately lead to you quitting or being fired.

Knowing your own core values — those fundamental beliefs that guide your behaviors and decisions — allows you to set boundaries. Boundaries, as defined by loveisrespect, are “where we personally draw the line between what is and is not okay with us.” They indicate how we want to be treated by ourselves and by others. For example, if you value family connection, you may set a boundary that you will not regularly work into the night or on weekends. If the norm of a company is that all hands should be on deck all of the time, that company may not be a fit for you. Whether or not a company is going to respect your boundaries should be a primary concern during any job hunt.

Stand Up for What You Believe In

Whether you are fulfilled in your current role or on the hunt for a new opportunity, defining your core values will help you operate with strength and clarity every day. You will be able to define the choices you make, the company you keep, and what you are willing to stand up for despite the consequences.

Here’s a real-world example. In one particular company, I (Nancy) faced a circumstance that involved my boss asking me to deploy a large marketing campaign that would hurt the business while my boss would personally and financially benefit. Fear set in. This was my boss, so if I didn’t do it, I could be fired for insubordination. But if I did the marketing campaign, it would be unethical. I felt paralyzed.

I had to ask myself what my core values were. At first, I thought of the core values of the company, not my personal values. This wasn’t right. So I sat down with a piece of blank paper and tried to come up with my own, but the words I wrote were not connecting with me. They were nice words, but they didn’t feel authentic.

Finally, for more clarity, I asked myself one simple question: “What are you willing to be fired for?”

Being fired was my biggest fear and, given the scenario, a reality staring me in the face. If I had values that were more powerful than my biggest fear, what would they be? The moment I asked myself this question, the answers came naturally without hesitation: family, freedom, and physical strength.

Was I willing to follow through with the campaign if it meant compromising these three values? The answer was no. If I didn’t follow through with the campaign, would I be willing to get fired over it? The answer was heck yeah!

Boom! I was suddenly grounded in what would become the most powerful foundation of my life. These were my new parameters, my boundaries: family, freedom, and physical strength.

Rather than saying no to the campaign ask, I chose to leave the company entirely. I left without hesitation and immediately found balance with my core values. Since then, I have encountered a handful of similar situations and applied my core value filter each time. Decisions became easier; I was in control of my own destiny. These values are now part of my personal identity. People know they can count on me to always stand up for what’s right instead of taking the easy route.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

4 Ways to Connect With Your Core Values

How present are you to your values? How intentional are you in making choices that align with your values? How intentional have you been in the past? To find out, consider the degree to which your choices and actions have led you to fulfillment, engagement, presence, and strength — or frustration, fatigue, smallness, and inauthenticity.

Here are four exercises you can use to get in touch with your core values:

1. Analyze

Create a checklist of questions that reflect your values to ask yourself when making a decision. Rate on a scale of 1-10 how well the decision would reflect what is most important to you.

2. Envision

Fill in the blank: I have made the decision to ________.

Now, look 10 years — or perhaps just one week — into the future. From the eyes of your wise and knowing self, what is happening? Is this really what you wanted? How are you feeling? Are you operating at your best?

3. Connect

Engage those who know you best, those who hold the vision of who you truly are and won’t be derailed by your shoulds, fears, or sabotaging thoughts. Ask them how well your choice would reflect who you are.

4. Ponder

Take a minute. A day. A week. Consider what you really want. If it’s a new job, think — and be honest with yourself — about the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, the extra-cherry-on-tops, and the can-not-tolerates.

How does this potential opportunity fit with your criteria? If it aligns, fantastic. If it does not, don’t try to justify, downplay, or acquiesce. Consider the consequences down the road (see the envisioning exercise above). There is an opportunity out there that will give you what you need and want. Be patient.

Living your life without active consideration of your core values is like paddling a rudderless boat. You might be moving, but you are not moving with purpose. Defining your values will give more meaning to your work, make difficult decisions easier, and lend clarity to your actions in the face of challenges.

Nancy Richardson is the founder and principal strategist of Dragon Lady and CEO of Mom ‘n’ Pop ShopRochelle Davidson, CPCC, ACC, is chief embolden officer at Rochelle Davidson Coaching. Their new book, Work Freely: Love Your Job. Love Your Life., is available at WorkFreely.co, Amazon, and other fine booksellers.

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Everyone Thrives Somewhere: 3 Ways to Find the Right Company Culture for You

Article by Jeff Thompson

I had always wanted to work at a place that had fun: lots of laughter and smiling faces, an open-door policy, people working together. In short, I wanted to work at a place I could call home.

So, in the ’80s, when I was working for a frozen pizza brand, I took it upon myself to seek out my ideal company culture, the one I knew I’d thrive in. I carefully observed how district leaders’ behaviors and communication habits created distinct cultures within their districts. When I was promoted to a district manager position at 26, I was able to use my observations to begin building the specific culture I wanted to be part of and provide for those around me. I’ve been curating the cultures of my companies ever since.

According to Gallup’s “2017 State of the American Workplace” report, only about half of professionals are currently engaged at work. Company culture drives engagement, and engaged employees are more productive, happier, and more empowered to perform at optimal levels. I believe company culture may be the single biggest determinant of success for employees.

But company culture is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different people thrive in different cultures, and you need to determine what style will keep you engaged and motivated at work.

Throughout my career, I’ve personally encountered three distinct types of cultures:

1. The Competitive Culture

When I worked at the pizza company, highly competitive cultures were the easiest to recognize. Competitive leaders believe success is entirely up to them. They believe if they don’t win, they lose, and they look out for themselves first. These were the managers who attracted salespeople who wanted to be No. 1 in the district — and wanted it at any cost. Anything less than an all-out drive to be at the top meant you probably wouldn’t survive. Managers fired their lowest-producing workers every 12 months (if they couldn’t force them into quitting first).

Though this competitive culture was riveting for thrill seekers, it also created a distrustful environment. Everyone was working against each other, and district managers encouraged the competition. People who lead this way can be successful in the short term, but eventually, the competitive culture will instill fear in employees, whether that’s fear of being fired or fear of not measuring up. Such fear leads to low employee confidence and, ultimately, low retention. In fact, 43 percent of employees say they’d leave their current job if the environment became too competitive.

2. The Hands-Off Culture

If you tend to think people put too much pressure on themselves and your top priorities aren’t money and success, you’ll feel right at home in a hands-off culture. At the pizza company, the district managers who paid the most attention to themselves, their families, and their jobs built this type of culture.

These managers didn’t micromanage their salespeople or push them to compete; they simply let them do their own thing. This was good and bad: While the managers didn’t foster toxic competition, they tended to have a “do your job to make me look good” mindset and didn’t put much effort into the management aspect of their jobs.

As a result, mediocrity reigned supreme in these cultures. There was minimal pressure to succeed, and nobody pushed anybody. In effect, this culture was really more of an absence of culture. The district managers rarely showed up in their territories, mostly kept in touch by phone, and often rewarded employees with perks like dinner or parties when they did well. No one really grew within this culture.

3. The Collaborative Culture

In a collaborative culture, managers put their employees first. I most admired the district managers who built this kind of culture. They visited every territory equally (even the less profitable ones) and went to bat for their employees if a corporate goal was unachievable or they needed additional promotional time. They refused to fire good workers, even if it meant putting their own jobs on the line.

A collaborative culture is one that builds trust and support between all employees. According to the “Slack Future of Work Study,” 91 percent of employees want to feel more connected to their coworkers. A collaborative culture is founded on such connection. When your coworkers and managers are committed to helping the people around them succeed, it means more success for both the company and the individuals within it.

When I became district manager at the pizza company and began forming the culture on my own, I focused on the collaborative style. Since then, I’ve stuck with it. I’ve now been instilling a collaborative culture in my current company for more than 25 years. My company’s management team engages our company values of integrity, knowledge, care, communication, and commitment to create a business where we balance our reputation, our agents’ needs, and our clients’ happiness.

Those who welcome support in their careers and want to collaborate rather than compete are drawn to this kind of culture. These are people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves, value shared leadership, and raise others’ voices up.

Finding Your Cultural Match

How can you evaluate a company’s true culture when exploring new job opportunities? It seems like a tall task, but it may actually be easier than you think. I find that the simplest, most accurate way to get a good gauge on a culture is by visiting the company in person. Ask to tour the office when you visit and make mental notes of things that stand out to you.

For instance, what do people’s workspaces look like? Are they messy, fun, or rigidly organized? If desk spaces look barren and include very few personal touches, you’ve likely found a competitive culture where employees tend to be more focused on one-upping each other than on creating a warm, inviting space. The desk spaces in hands-off and collaborative cultures will similarly vary: some sparsely decorated and others laden with personal touches.

Be sure to listen or talk to the employees you come across on your tour. If the space is dead silent, it’s more likely to be a competitive atmosphere than a collaborative one. Conversely, if it seems a bit too rowdy and unfocused, the culture might be a little too hands-off.

Even front-desk staff members can give you an excellent idea of what it’s really like to work at a company. Sure, they’re welcoming when you first enter the building, but hang around for five minutes and see if they still give you the same smile. Listen carefully when they answer the phones and talk with other employees.

Pay attention to what you hear, see, and most importantly, feel as you walk through the office. It might not be a tangible metric, but the vibe of a place goes a long way in conveying its true personality. In my experience, the feeling you get when you first walk into an office is generally an accurate reflection of the company’s culture.

Here are three more steps to help you find the company with the perfect culture for you:

1. Know Thyself

It’s hard to change your personality. Just because you want to be in a collaborative culture doesn’t mean you’ll actually fit in there.

Once, I interviewed someone who had a reputation for being competitive, hard-nosed, and difficult to work with. I addressed this during her interview, and she expressed her desire to change, saying she wanted to work with our office because of our reputation for collaborating with other offices. She wanted to change her image, and she believed we could help. Though we worked hard at it — and I believe she did, too — the task proved too difficult. She could not change who she was, so she moved on.

Know yourself well enough to choose a culture that fits you, and everyone will be happier. Take the time to self-reflect, and ask your friends for their opinions, too. You may not think you’re highly competitive, but those closest to you could have a different opinion!

2. Check the Company’s Footprint

Do some research on the company — and I’m not just talking about service lines or revenue projections. Take a good look at a potential employer’s website and social media channels to see how the company presents itself and how it interacts with others online.

For example, let’s say you value a sense of humor. If you get 10 posts into a prospective employer’s social media profile without seeing anything more than sales content full of industry jargon, chances are the company isn’t the best fit for you.

3. Buy Someone Lunch

If you know someone at a company you’re looking into, do some networking and invite that person out to lunch. If you don’t know anyone there, this step will require you to go out on a limb, but it will be worth it. Research the company to find employees who are doing what you want to do. Then, reach out via LinkedIn or email. Tell them you’re interested in learning more about the company, and invite them to meet you somewhere close to the office.

Don’t bombard a person, but do come prepared with questions that will help you determine whether the culture is the right fit for you. If you like to chat with coworkers, for example, ask if employees spend time together outside the office. If you like to flex your creative muscles, ask if employees are allowed to decorate their cubicles. Don’t look past the little things.

The bottom line? Listen to your gut when it comes to culture fit. I’ve had successful new hires tell us our office “just felt right” when they walked in, and that was how they knew they wanted to work with us. A company’s vibe is hard to miss if you’re paying attention to the right things.

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

Jeff Thompson is managing partner at Windermere Group One (WGO). WGO is a member of Windermere Real Estate, a real estate network comprising 300 offices and more than 6,000 agents throughout the western United States. Jeff is truly passionate about helping build companies by building their people. He leverages his 25+ years of experience in real estate to coach other managers and brokers. Jeff credits much of his success to hard work and a willingness to partner with good people.

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The Heart-Mind Alliance: Find Your Core Values and Let Them Guide You at Work

What comes to mind when you think about your morals and values? Is it plausible to think these very basic principles could quite possibly be responsible for your perception of the world around you? What about the effect they have on your job or your work ethic?

Family development expert Stephen J. Bavolek defines our morals as a code of conduct with identified rights and wrongs; he defines our values as set of beliefs that have worth. Our values and morals were developed even before we were born by our families of origin, and we contribute a few minor tweaks here and there along the way.

These core beliefs are deeply rooted and highly individualized. They help make up and define who we are when no one is watching, and they have a serious impact on how effective or ineffective we are at our jobs. Regardless of the type of work you do or where you work, understanding this complex belief system that guides you is essential when it comes to meeting your goals and being successful in your career.

But how does one determine what one’s core values are? And how does one then use those values to become a better employee or boss? Here are three steps to get you started:

1. Understand Who You Are

Understanding who you are is the first step in uncovering your core values. Start by identifying your likes, dislikes, interests, etc.

Note that negative experiences can cause some individuals to struggle when they attempt to pinpoint a few positives about themselves. These same individuals, however, are very quick to identify and point out all the negatives about themselves. They also tend to say what they think others want to hear. In light of all of this, they are unable to be true to themselves and, by definition, are unable to ever really understand their core identities. This lack of self-awareness or self-confidence can deter an individual from becoming the best version of themselves.

How does this affect your career? By understanding who you are, you can consciously work to obtain a position or career that matches your core values. Such a career would be intrinsically rewarding to you, and you would have an easier time putting in the effort and advancing in that field.

Society can be very negative these days, and all the negativity around us can trigger a negative self-concept and a lack of self-esteem. The constant pressure we feel to be what society wants us to be is in direct conflict with who we would become if we were able to simply focus that energy inward. You cannot find yourself if you pursue the dreams of another.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

So ask yourself: Who am I? What field of work would I be successful in? Once you know the answers, pursue them.

If you need additional guidance, it may be beneficial to complete an aptitude test of some sort in order to determine what field of work would best match your core values. That said, be sure to always listen to your intuition. It isn’t a gift you were given on accident.

2. Accept Who You Are

Once you understand who you are, you must accept it and the career path that matches it. This has to be done without exception or hesitation. More than that, you have to love yourself unconditionally.

Please hear me when I say it is not possible to truly succeed in your line of work if the career path you choose does not match your personality or core values. Because your neighbor is a bank manager does not mean you should be a bank manager (unless that is truly your calling). Sure, you might be able to do the work competently, but you will never truly excel at it.

Excellence is born from passion. True passion and love for what you are doing cannot be manufactured based on another person’s ideal of what you should be doing.

3. Listen to Your Intuition

Once you understand who you are and learn to accept it, take note of what your intuition is telling you. It is important that you take a personal inventory here so you can be sure that your heart is in alignment with your mind. Do not rush the process.

The heart-mind alliance is necessary if you want to stay true to your core values and be successful in what you do. Impulsive decisions can lead to unknowingly compromising your value system, resulting in unnecessary frustration and unaccomplished goals.

Do not sell yourself short. Be a leader, and be proud of who you are in the workplace. Your morals and values will be a guiding light throughout your career and your life as a whole.

Emeka Anyiam PhD, LMFT, is founder and CEO of Embridge Counseling Services. To learn more, please visit embracinglifebook.com and embridgecounselingservices.com.

Mind Over Moment: 6 Tools to Build Resilience, Happiness, and Success

Article by Anne Grady

Do you often feel like you have spent your whole day chipping away at your to-do list without accomplishing any of the things that are most important to you? You are not alone.

As a CEO, mom, wife, volunteer, friend, daughter, and overachiever, I know how that feels. It’s like you’re on a hamster wheel, never making any progress. You go through the week looking forward to Friday, and then you spend the weekend catching up on all the stuff you didn’t get done during the week. Monday comes, and the vicious cycle starts again.

While you can’t control the chaos, you can control how you respond to it. Although there is no simple solution to the frenetic pace of life today, there are things you can do to continually bring yourself back to what matters most in your life. I call these tools, collectively, “Mind Over Moment,” and they are all about making sure you are living life on purpose rather than slipping into autopilot.

Mind Over Moment means paying attention in each moment to decisions you would otherwise make unwittingly. It’s about stopping to ask, “Is the way I am thinking and behaving going to get me the result I want?”

How can you keep your grip, even when the demands of life feel like fast-rising floodwaters, trying to pull you off balance and sweep you downstream? There are some proven tools for building resilience, happiness, and success — but they work only when practiced. Let’s take a look at how:

1. Mindset

How are you interpreting the situations that happen to you? Our beliefs about ourselves, and the stories we tell ourselves as a result of those beliefs, have a profound effect on our happiness and relationships.

Many of us have what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” That is, we believe we are unable to grow or change, and we are endlessly trying to prove ourselves as a result. Dweck contrasts that with a “growth mindset,” the belief that we can change and grow to meet the challenges we face.

Cultivating a growth mindset frees you from believing that your happiness is based on your performance and allows you to measure your progress according to your ability to grow. When you adopt a growth mindset, you can understand failure as a sign that you need to get better at a particular task rather than a crushing defeat.

What stories have you been telling yourself about yourself? If they are not moving you toward your goals, it’s time to tell some new stories based on your ability to grow.

2. Optimism

Scientific research has verified that when we look at life through a lens of positivity, we are more likely to enjoy better mental and physical health. Optimism is also a key component of business success: Entrepreneurs who are able to maintain a positive outlook are better positioned to attain goals such as profitability, business growth, and innovation, according to an analysis of 17 studies.

Optimism isn’t about wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s about choosing how you interpret the events in your life. Crappy things happen to good people every day. How you choose to learn from those experiences is a large factor in determining your resilience.

3. Gratitude

Closely connected with optimism, gratitude for the good in our lives keeps us focused on the positive. The simple act of looking for things to be grateful for attunes our brains to the good. Gratitude is closely linked to our sense of well-being and makes us more resilient in the face of adversity. Expressing gratitude reduces toxic emotions, diminishes depression, increases happiness, and enriches relationships. We find what we look for, so make sure you are looking for the right things.

4. Connection

Like optimism and gratitude, the happiness boost you get from connection with others is crucial to your health and well-being and a key element in building resilience. Friendship and belonging are considered core psychological needs, and they have big impacts on our physical health.

One study found that loneliness can be more harmful to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. On the flip side, people who are more connected to friends and family are “happier, healthier, and live longer than people who are less well connected,” says Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. They also enjoy better brain health as they age.

5. Humor

Finding ways to laugh at challenges, stressful situations, and even personal tragedy is one way resilient people cope and grow through misfortune. Humor broadens our focus of attention and helps us face our fears while “foster[ing] exploration, creativity, and flexibility in thinking,” according to Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney, psychiatry professors and coauthors of Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges. Being able to laugh at challenges “provides distance and perspective, but does so without denying pain or fear,” they write. “It manages to present the positive and negative wrapped into one package.”

6. Acts of Service

Growing evidence suggests helping others benefits the giver as much as those on the receiving end. For example, a recent study looked at how New Zealanders helped survivors of the Christchurch terror attacks that killed 51 people. The researchers found actions like providing home-cooked meals, sending flowers, and other small acts of kindness actually strengthened the resilience of those who performed them. Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal calls this the “tend-and-befriend response”: “Caring for others triggers the biology of courage and creates hope.”

Most of us are a lot better at prioritizing our schedules than scheduling our priorities. If I tracked your time for a week, would it be representative of what you say is most important to you? Do your actions match your intentions?

Write down what is most important to you, then track how much of your time each day you are actually devoting to these priorities. If the answer is little or none, that’s a clear indication you need to make some changes.

The only way to get off the hamster wheel is to gain control of your life rather than having it control you. Mind Over Moment is about being deliberate about where we invest the limited time and energy we have so we can make the most of each day.

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

Anne Grady is an internationally recognized speaker and author. She shares humor, humility, refreshing honesty, and practical strategies anyone can use to triumph over adversity and master change. With a master’s degree in organizational communication, Anne started her own company as a speaker and consultant to top organizations despite challenges she outlines in her new TEDx talk. Her new book is Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience, and Triumph. She is also the author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love, and Work. For more information, visit GetStrongEnough.com.

Have a Plan, But Keep It Flexible: Thriving Professionally After a Medical Diagnosis

When someone is diagnosed with a serious health condition, it impacts several important areas of their life, including work. A person may start to wonder:

– How do I balance work and medical treatment?
– What can I expect from my employer?
– What are my legal rights?
– What do other people do in this situation?

One common misconception is that people who have serious illnesses do not want to work. The results of a 2018 survey of cancer patients and survivors commissioned by Cancer and Careers show otherwise. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said working through treatment helps or had helped them cope. Each person’s reasons for wanting to work vary and are often multifaceted. For some, a steady income or access to benefits drove the decision to stay on the job, while others found in their work a sense of normalcy or purpose during prolonged or intensive medical treatment and recovery.

As you think about your own reasons for working following a diagnosis, here are some strategies to make it easier to thrive professionally while undergoing treatment and recovery:

Plan for Managing Side Effects at Work

Have a conversation with your healthcare team about the specific details of your treatment and how it might affect you at work. Be sure to share specifics about the mental and physical demands of your job.

Discussing common side effects of your treatment and how to manage them can help you make informed decisions about work accommodations you might need, such as modifying your schedule, making changes to your physical workspace, etc. Keeping a work diary to monitor how you feel throughout the day/week can also help you figure out how side effects might be impacting your work — and then find ways to address them.

Understand the Relevant Laws and Study Your Options

The law is one of the many tools you can use as you figure out how to navigate work after a serious medical diagnosis. Federal laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as certain state laws, may be applicable and can create a framework of support.

For example, under the ADA, your company might be required to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with serious health issues to help them continue to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Sometimes small adjustments can be all it takes to help you work while undergoing medical treatment.

Keep in mind that even if your employer isn’t required by law to provide you with an accommodation, that doesn’t mean it won’t. Typically, companies want to retain good employees, so it never hurts to ask for what you need to stay on the job. It’s also important to learn about your company’s policies on disabilities, flex time, telecommuting, and related matters before you disclose your diagnosis at work.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Sharing Your Diagnosis

Whether to tell your employer and/or coworkers is a very personal decision, and you should weigh several factors before you make a choice, including:

– What treatment side effects are you likely to experience?
– What does the law require and how might it work in your favor?
– What is your work environment like?

Answering these questions can help you figure out whether you want to disclose — and, if so, what and when. Generally, you are not obligated to share any information about your health (though there are some exceptions). If you do decide to share, start by talking to those with whom you’re most comfortable or those who will be most useful in creating a workable solution for you (possibly your supervisor and/or HR). If you think you may need to request a job modification, you might have to provide some information about your health issue, although not necessarily an exact diagnosis.

Create an Action Plan

Having a plan can help restore your sense of control, but keep it flexible because things may change over time. Start by making a list of everything you need to do; breaking each task up into small parts can make things less stressful. Next, prioritize the tasks on your list and accomplish them one by one. Try to avoid multitasking, and be sure to delegate tasks when possible.

Setting Professional Boundaries

Knowing your limitations is important as you balance your work and health needs; you don’t want to feel overwhelmed. Although it might feel difficult to decline certain requests, there are ways to say no in a professional and team-oriented way — e.g., “I appreciate that you thought of me for this project, but I’m a bit swamped this week and am concerned about my ability to get this back to you in a timely manner.”

A serious medical diagnosis can lead to a wide range of treatments, side effects, and recovery processes, so it’s important to weigh all those factors and make the right decisions for yourself. While it’s difficult to know all the variables that may come into play when you are facing health challenges at work, there are things you can think about, organize, and communicate to get the information, clarity, and assistance you need to thrive.

Rebecca V. Nellis is the executive director of Cancer and Careers.

13 Go-To Hacks for When You Need a Boost of Creativity

Article by YEC

Creativity inspires us. It gives us purpose and direction, providing a way to pursue goals and establish dreams.

However, creativity does not always come naturally, particularly during moments of stress. Sometimes, even the most creative minds need a little help to get that spark back.

Boosting your creativity can be a simple matter of taking a step back and discovering what works best to motivate you. For more insight, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council about their go-to hacks when they need a boost of creativity. Here is what they said:

1. Learn a New Skill

When you need a boost of creativity, usually your unconscious is having difficulty surfacing to your consciousness. To circumvent this, learn a new skill.

For example, if you’re struggling with writer’s block and you normally write technical pieces, take a quick course on how to write comedy. It frees up your ability to think and changes your perspective enough that you can tap into creativity.

 – Klyn Elsbury, Shark School

2. Go on Social Media

If I need a boost of creativity, I like to go on social media to take my mind off of anything technical. Immersing myself in something completely different gets the wheels in my head turning and encourages me to think differently. It’s important not to focus on one thing for too long, and social media helps me do just that.

– Jared Atchison, WPForms

3. Write Things Down

When I need a boost of creativity, I like to brainstorm by writing things down. I write down anything that comes to mind — thoughts, feelings, ideas, concepts, and so on — without giving it much thought.

Afterward, I read my list. I always find that at least one of my random thoughts can inspire some creativity.

– Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

4. Go for a Walk

It’s incredibly simple, but don’t let that put you off. Studies have shown that walking increases creativity.

Every time I catch myself in a slump, I take a 20-30 minute walk near the office without trying to force anything to happen. As you walk, you’ll slowly ponder on the problem you’re trying to solve, and you are likely to come up with a unique angle as you do. Worst case, you come back to work refreshed.

– Karl Kangur, Above House

5. Research Other Brands

One of the best ways to find inspiration and trigger creativity is by researching other brands. Avoid competitors and, instead, look at what companies in similar industries are doing with their customer service, marketing, and design. Browse their websites, social media profiles, and customer reviews to see what they’re doing differently. This knowledge can help you ideate new ways to improve your business, too.

– Firas KittanehAmerisleep

6. Have Dinner With a Diverse Group of Smart People

By bringing people from different backgrounds together to break bread, you will spark amazing conversations. When business leaders, engaged citizens, sharp engineers, scientists, artists, social entrepreneurs, and others come together for innovative exchange and big thinking, you will definitely receive a personal boost from these creative conversations.

– Eric MathewsStart Co.

7. Play Video Games

I like playing video games because it diverts my mind to a different way of thinking, which allows me to come back later and do something more creative. It’s stimulating for me and provides the outlet I’m looking for to give my brain a break.

– Angela RuthCalendar

8. Listen to a Podcast

There are thousands of podcasts to choose from that cover all different topics and use different approaches to connect with listeners. I like to listen to storytelling podcasts that have nothing to do with work when I need to unwind. It refreshes my mind and activates other parts of my brain. Listening to something completely different from what I’m working on sparks my creativity.

– Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

9. Listen to Music

Whether listening to it or playing it myself, music is my go-to hack when I need a boost of creativity. It’s hard to focus your thoughts sometimes when you have so many things on your mind. When I listen to music, I can just relax and focus on the song. That’s when the ideas come more easily.

– John TurnerSeedProd, LLC

10. Play With Your Kids

Kids have a never-ending supply of creativity. I’m constantly inspired by the way my almost-2-year-old makes everything fun. He finds ways to use and play with things I would have never considered. When I need a creative boost, I play with him (blocks, painting, reading, etc.), ask him questions, and draw inspiration from his endless fascination with the world.

– Brittany HodakKeynote Speaker

11. Take a Power Nap

A short nap can reset your brain and get you in the right frame of mind for creating. I usually take a 20-minute nap if I’m feeling creatively bankrupt.

At first, you’ll find it difficult to nap when thinking about a project, but a short nap helps fuel creativity more than staring blankly at your screen ever could.

– Blair Williams, MemberPress

12. Try Sensory Deprivation

Improving your focus through sensory deprivation can be a great boost for creativity. While going for a walk is a simple way to do this, a lot of entrepreneurs and professionals go so far as to use sensory deprivation services like Urban Float.

Whatever you do, when you get rid of the overstimulation of the environment around you, it becomes easier to achieve clarity and creativity.

– Andy KaruzaFenSens

13. Write a Top 10 List

When I need a boost of creativity, I develop a top-10 list on the topic. The first seven ideas are usually fairly easy to come by. It’s ideas 8-10 where I slow down and really have to think. The boost of creativity kicks in after all the easy ideas are out of the way, and then you’re stacking on good ideas or something completely outside the box.

– Richard Fong, Bliss Drive

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

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Fall Into Routine: 5 Ways to Have a More Productive Autumn

There’s no better time than the fall, the season of heading back to school and new fiscal-year possibility, to create new routines or recalibrate old ones.

As a successful entrepreneur, I use routine to set myself up for productivity. Routine is the key to maintaining focus on your goals and preventing yourself from falling prey to impulse and circumstance. Here’s what has worked for me:

1. Create an Exercise Routine

Regular physical activity is a nearly universal habit of successful people. It’s no wonder why, as exercise offers a host of benefits, from improving your mood and helping you sleep better to fighting stress and promoting a long, healthy life.

For years, I’d been in the habit of exercising first thing in the morning, but surgery to repair an old injury knocked me out of that habit. Now I’m working on my new exercise routine, which starts the night before. I set out my workout clothes by my bed and leave my bag by the garage door. When my alarm goes off, I don’t have to do any thinking at all — I just pull on what’s already laid out, grab my bag, and head to the car.

2. Create an Email Routine

When I return from my workout, I pour myself a coffee and go through the emails I received over the course of the previous night — but I don’t answer any of them. Not yet.

Instead, I head to the shower, where I do my best thinking. I let the emails burble around in my head as I devise responses and hatch plans. Sometimes the epiphanies I get in the shower are so good that I have to write them down — and to make that easy, I’ve installed a whiteboard and markers on the wall of my shower. (It works! Try it!) After my shower, once I’m dressed, it’s back to the laptop to tap out the replies.

Your system doesn’t have to involve a shower, but you do need some sort of routine to stay on top of all those new inbox arrivals.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. Create a Routine for Important Meetings

The worst feeling in business is standing up to pitch a client and realizing you haven’t adequately prepared. That’s why I’m a maniac for planning ahead.

The night before an important pitch session, I’ll think through everything. What am I going to say? How will I begin? What if the client has this or that question? I’ll even set out what I’m going to wear. I’ll print off the documents I need to review, place them in my briefcase, and set my briefcase by the garage door. The next morning, I’ll ensure I’m at the client’s office building a full hour before things start. By arriving early, I build in time to glance over my notes so that I’m ready to go by the time we’re in the conference room shaking hands.

4. Create a Productivity Routine

The biggest mistake you can make when you first sit down at your desk is trying to conquer the world. That only sets you up to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Instead, ask yourself: What are the three impactful tasks I can accomplish right now? They should be easy tasks that build up to a bigger win. Every day when I sit down at my desk, the first thing I do is get out my yellow sticky pad and write down three things I can accomplish within the hour. Once I’ve done those three things, the feeling of accomplishment powers me through the bigger tasks of the day.

5. Create a Routine to Evaluate Your Routines

No one is perfect, so allow yourself to make mistakes without giving up on routines. Instead, set up a time on a weekly basis — like Sunday after dinner — to examine how you’re doing. That Thursday when your 5:30 a.m. alarm rang out and you turned it off, rolled over, and slept until 7 — what exactly happened there? Did that routine failure have anything to do with the previous night’s late business meeting? Next time, let’s cut things off by 10 p.m.

In other words: Your routines need a feedback loop. Examine the instances you didn’t adhere to them, and then improve.

Many people dismiss routines as boring, the products of uncreative minds. That’s destructive thinking. The best routines are all about delivering simplicity to yourself to liberate you from temptation, impulse, and directionless inefficiency so you can focus on productivity.

Michael Contento is the CEO of My Blue Umbrella. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

How to Build a Bigger Retirement Nest Egg With Your Side Hustle

Financial experts recommend you save $1-1.5 million to retire comfortably. If that number sounds impossible, you may be part of a national trend. According to the US Government Accountability Office, 48 percent of households headed by someone aged 55+ have no retirement savings at all.

If your retirement fund isn’t as large as it should be, launching a side hustle can be a smart way to boost your income and rectify the situation. Here’s what you need to know and do to get ahead:

Track Your Earnings

Side hustles are great because they’re so flexible. Whether you drive with a rideshare company or become a freelance writer, you can work when it’s convenient for your schedule. You can also scale your work up and down to meet your needs. Over time, you could work up to earning thousands of dollars each month.

Because side hustle income can be so variable, diligently tracking your earnings is important. It’s a good idea to open a separate bank account and business credit card solely for your side gig income and expenses so you know exactly how much extra money you have coming in each month.

Consider using a program like QuickBooks, Wave, or FreshBooks to manage your income and expenses. Having a clear picture of your income will help you budget accordingly so you can invest more of your earnings into your retirement fund.

Set Up the Right Accounts

If you have an employer-sponsored 401(k), make sure you contribute enough to get the full employer match. That’s free money you’d otherwise leave on the table.

If you’re operating a side gig with the intention of using your earnings to boost your retirement savings, consider opening a new retirement account in addition to your 401(k). By doing so, you’ll be able to contribute money beyond the maximum allowed by a 401(k). Some options for your side hustle earnings include:

  1. Traditional IRA: With a traditional IRA, your earnings grow tax-deferred, meaning you only pay taxes on investment gains once you start making withdrawals when you reach retirement. If you’re not covered by a retirement plan at work, you can deduct your total IRA contribution on your tax return. You can contribute up to $6,000 per year ($7,000 if you’re aged 50 or older) into a traditional IRA.
  2. Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA: Any self-employed individual, including someone with side hustle or freelance income, can open up a SEP-IRA. You can contribute up to 25 percent of your compensation or $56,000 for 2019. Contributions made to a SEP-IRA are tax-deductible and tax-deferred.
  3. Roth IRA: With a Roth IRA, you make contributions with after-tax dollars. As a tradeoff, your contributions grow tax-free, and you can withdraw money from your account without having to pay federal taxes on it as long as you’re 59.5 or older. As of 2019, you can contribute up to $6,000 per year ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older), so long as you fall within the IRS’s income guidelines.
For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Getting set up with these accounts can be easy. You can even open an IRA with an online brokerage firm or robo-advisor like Betterment, Wealthfront, or Wealthsimple.

Remember to Pay Taxes

If you’re earning income from your side hustle — even if only small amounts or you’re only paid in cash — you have to pay taxes on it. If you make $600 or more from a single source, the company that paid you must send a 1099-MISC form detailing how much you earned. However, you owe taxes on any money earned even if it totals less than $600.

You’ll also have to pay estimated taxes each quarter or be subject to costly penalties. If that sounds like a hassle, you can adjust your withholdings on your W-4 at your full-time job to take out more of your income for taxes. By doing so, you can avoid having to pay estimated taxes.

To prevent any surprises, it’s a good practice to set aside 30 percent of your side-hustle earnings in a separate bank account for taxes. That way, you won’t have to raid your savings account when tax season comes around.

Automate Your Savings

Once you’ve opened a retirement account and set aside money for taxes, make sure you deposit regular contributions into your retirement account. You can manually put your earnings into your retirement account whenever you get paid, but it’s both smarter and easier to set up automatic deposits. By automating the process, you ensure money is consistently contributed to your retirement fund no matter what.

If you’re behind on retirement savings, starting a side hustle and investing your earnings in a retirement account can be a smart way to catch up. Whether you decide to deliver groceries or walk dogs, you can boost your income and build a solid nest egg.

Kat Tretina is a freelance personal finance writer based in Orlando.

Why You Should Think Like a Salesperson When Hunting for a New Job

The art of sales and the art of securing a job aren’t all that different. Both center on your ability to hold a meaningful, mutually beneficial conversation.

Both also have reputations for one-sidedness. Salespeople and hiring managers are often seen as prize-grabbing characters trying to get what they want while offering little in return. That couldn’t be further from the truth: Both selling a product and winning a job offer are two-sided transactions that should leave both parties better off.

Applying for a Job Like a Salesperson

Whether you’re aiming to become a sales manager, a barista, or a teacher, taking a page from the art of sales could give you the boost you need to make an impactful connection with your future employer. Here are some ways to apply successful sales thinking when plotting your next career move:

1. Do Your Research

They say a great salesperson can sell ice to a polar bear, but the truth is that successful selling means figuring out what people want and showing them why your product will help them get it. The same holds true when you’re selling yourself as a potential hire.

You’re not going to appeal to everyone (and why would you want to?), so it’s vital to do your research into the company’s mission, its culture, and the particulars of the role. You need to figure out whether you have what the organization is looking for and whether this employer can offer what you want.

2. Leverage Your Connections

Experienced sellers start the sales process with the people they already know, because buying is an emotionally driven experience based on trust. This is why social selling is so effective: Buyers are able to get to know and trust the faces behind an organization.

Despite often being presented as rational and quantitative, hiring is just as emotionally driven as sales. Decisions are largely made on instinct, the perception of shared values, humor, and loads of other variables that people aren’t even consciously aware of. While there are some exceptions, a good rule of thumb is that people hire based on emotion and justify their decisions with logic.

Use this sales tactic to your advantage by reaching out to people you already know who could help you get out of the resume slush pile and closer to the decision-makers. The strength of your network can lead to new opportunities — and get you in front of the right people to seize those opportunities in the first place.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. Be Prepared to Provide Value

The best salespeople don’t just think about their own needs when they’re on a call, nor are they thinking about their paycheck, their commission, or their reputation. Instead, they focus on the needs and wants of the person on the other end of the phone.

We’ve had candidates come in and talk about interesting marketing campaigns we’ve done, offer feedback on our go-to-market strategy, or seek us out during relevant conferences. When a candidate is really interested in and dedicated to what my company is doing, I’ve occasionally given that person a shot even if I wasn’t yet confident in their skill set or experience.

In the job market, the most impressive candidates are not the ones who wax lyrical about their own achievements — they are the ones who ask informed questions about the company’s work to find out what the company needs. These candidates identify specific company projects and discuss how their own skills align with the company’s strategies. The best candidates understand that hiring is a two-way process and that it’s critical for an opportunity to be a fit for both parties.

4. Practice Your Pitch

Salespeople don’t always work from a script, but by researching, planning their approach, and considering the questions that may arise during a sales interaction, they give themselves a leg up and appear more confident and knowledgeable. Similarly, a little practice can do wonders for your interview performance.

Prior to the interview, prepare a list of questions the hiring team might ask. Explore sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and company blogs to get a sense of what the hiring team might be interested in. You don’t necessarily need to rehearse your responses, but you should have a general sense of why you want this job and why the company should want you. Figure out what makes your experience and technical skills unique. A lot of other people are likely to have the same baseline skills, so it’s important to be able to articulate what makes you stand out.

In addition to functional skills, employers are increasingly looking for new hires who possess soft skills, or the ability to work collaboratively and communicate effectively with a team. More than 90 percent of talent professionals say these skills matter just as much as hard skills, so make sure to include your soft skills when you make your pitch.

As you think about the next step in your career, look to the tried and tested patterns of great salespeople. Prepare yourself by thoroughly researching potential employers, leveraging relationships, and figuring out how your skills and experience can help companies reach their goals. This will put you in the best position to secure that new job.

Greg McBeth is the head of revenue at Node.io.