Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Top Skills and Values Employers Seek from Job-Seekers

Looking to land your dream job? Before you can truly interview well, you have to understand what hiring managers are looking for and how that aligns with your job skills and experience.

After all, when they ask you about your strengths or fit, you want to wow them by describing the strengths that they most want and need in a candidate.

Every job requires different technical knowledge and abilities, but beyond that, there is a set of essential job skills and competencies that will increase your value with just about any employer.

Communication Skills

Employers want to hire people who are able to communicate effectively with those inside and outside of the organization.

It's not enough to be well-spoken. In most roles, you must be able to tailor your communications for different audiences. You have to be able to provide the big picture to senior executives and then get down into the detailed instructions for the technical experts.

Strong communication skills make you more productive and more effective. When you communicate well the first time, you save a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted on clarifying, answering questions, correcting wrong perceptions, chasing people down, and fixing mistakes.

Great communication skills can set an employee apart. At the very least, they can mean the difference between the potential for advancement and a stagnant career.

Once you're in the job, your ability to communicate reflects, for good or ill, upon the entire organization.

Many times, poor performance can be traced back to poor communication skills.

Effective communication may be one of your strengths if you:

• Served as the spokesperson for your group in college classes (and got A's on all of your papers)

• Shine when making presentations at work

• Receive positive feedback on written reports

• Handle unhappy customers (or colleagues) with ease

• Facilitate discussions and bring people to agreement

Be sure to mention examples like this on your resume and in your interview as they serve as indicators that you are, in fact, an outstanding communicator.

Teamwork/Ability to Work Collaboratively

Working well as a member of a team requires a combination of qualities — communication skills, being open to collaboration, a generally positive attitude, and the ability to deal with different personalities (especially the "demanding" ones).

We've all worked with people who didn't "play well with others"— and it can really have a negative effect on both productivity and morale.

A team player is able to work with different personalities, can work through disagreements productively, and makes his or her individual preferences secondary to achieving the goals of the team.

Employers like to see evidence of your ability to work in teams when reading through your resume and cover letter or listening to your answers in interviews. For a new graduate or junior-level candidate, it's important to show that you'll be able to get along in the office environment.

If you haven't yet had much opportunity to work on a team in a work setting, be prepared to talk about academic group projects or extracurricular team experiences. You want to show that you can jump right in and get along with your co-workers and clients.

What Makes a Good Team Player?

Here are a few qualities that make someone easy to work with as a member of a group:

• Focus on results, not who gets credit

• Ability to listen

• Respect for all group members

• Appreciation of the perspectives of others

• Communication skills (see above)

• Ability to take constructive feedback

• Reliability and work ethic

Teamwork may be one of your strengths if:

• Coworkers are constantly asking to run ideas by you

• People frequently ask you to join their projects

• You're often invited to lunch with coworkers to talk shop

• You are regularly called upon to provide an objective opinion or mediate disagreements

• You can find a way to connect with just about anybody

Sample Teamwork Interview Questions:

• Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team.

• Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult person.

• Share an example of a group you've worked well with (or not so well with).

• Have you ever had a conflict with a coworker?

• Tell me about constructive feedback you've received.

Note:  For more information on answering teamwork interview questions, be sure to check out Big Interview's Answering Behavioral Interview Questions:


Initiative is doing the right thing without being told. Employers want self-starters who are constantly looking for ways to contribute instead of sitting around waiting for assignments. The goal is to have employees who proactively seek out ways to propel the business forward.

Many employers also see initiative as the ability to take ideas and run with them, to persist in the face of difficulty and inertia, and see a project through to completion.

In today's competitive and fast-moving business environment, companies are always looking for an edge on the competition. To position yourself as an ideal hire, you need to show you will go above and beyond the job description and really contribute.

Initiative is attractive in any candidate, but it's particularly desirable for certain types of positions. For example, startups typically look for people who can wear multiple hats. Many teams within larger organizations also find themselves tasked with "doing more with less" and greatly appreciate a candidate who can contribute beyond their formal job description.

For employers, it's hard to know if a candidate has initiative through their resume alone. Smart hiring managers will use behavioral questions ("Tell me about a time…") to get a sense of how the candidate has approached work in the past and if he or she has a history of taking initiative on the job.

Initiative may be one of your strengths if you:

• Prefer to start projects early to ensure you'll have time to do a fantastic job

• Seek out new assignments, especially those outside your comfort zone

• Never say, "That's not my job."

• Rarely say, "What else do you need me to do?"

• Are known as someone who gets things done, even in the face of obstacles

• Volunteer for committees or special projects

• Look for training opportunities to help you contribute more

• Read up on industry trends in your spare time

Friday, 26 August 2016

Self-esteem: Take steps to feel better about yourself

Confidence is a tool you can use in your everyday life to do all kinds of cool stuff, not least to stop second-guessing yourself, manage your fears and become able to do more of the things that really matter to you. But not many people realise that their self-confidence works just like a muscle – it grows in response to the level of performance required of it.

Most of us underestimate our abilities and spend too much time caring about what other people think. Ironically, our self-esteem tends to be at its lowest when we've achieved very little in a category, and also when we've had high achievements.

This tells us two things:

1. Most of us deserve to have a higher self-esteem than what we already feel right now

2. Self-esteem and confidence are subjective, and can be shifted by changing how we think

Since our mindset is the key factor driving our confidence and self-esteem, let's talk about 7 things you can learn today to build confidence.

1. Meditation

Meditation has been a long standing tradition in many Asian countries like Japan and China, but it has recently been gaining popularity in Western countries too.

Many high-level CEOs, business leaders, and athletes have reaped the benefits of meditation, and so should you.

Meditation helps us reduce our anxiety levels, increases our productivity, and even improves our memories. This clarity in our mind helps us make better decisions, feel less stress during the day, and yesboost our confidence!

2. Public Speaking

Many people have said that the fear of public speaking is bigger than the fear of death. The reason, according to one psychologist, comes from our ancestors.

For millions of years, humans roamed in groups in order to fend off life-threatening risks, such as large predators and starvation. The great part about this is that it's the underlying reason why humans are still social today.

But it also means that anything threatening our status of being included in a group seems very risky to us. This is why we're fascinated by great public speakers that can win over an audience; because it's something we can't fathom doing ourselves.

Once you understand this human desire, you can use it to your advantage by working on your public speaking skills. A great place to start is to record videos of yourself, talking about a topic that interests you, and uploading it publicly when you're ready. Another place we recommend is checking out your local Toastmasters meet up, where you'll be surrounded by a supportive group of people.

3. Growth Mindset

Do you have a glass ceiling that's limiting you?

This is why Carol Dweck, bestselling author of Mindset, calls a fixed mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset seeks success as affirmation for intelligence, versus a growth mindset, which thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a catalyst for growth and stretching beyond our existing abilities.

While an obstacle may lead to lower self-esteem or confidence for someone with a fixed mindset, it only fuels a person with a growth mindset.

4. Foreign Language

Learning a new language is no trip in the park, which is why it's so rewarding when you make progress.

I remember when I first learned Spanish. There was a thrill of excitement and confidence that ran through my body, because I could now speak to someone that I could have never been able to before.

Most of us are limited to only one language, which puts a ceiling on the amount of cultural experiences we can have, career opportunities, and most importantly, people we can build a relationship with.

But the simple act of committing to learn a new language, can be a game-changer to build confidence, because we're setting out to take on a form of communication that few around us have the ability to understand.

That's powerful.

Luckily for us, we don't need to travel to the other side of the world to immerse ourselves in a language. Websites like Rype, provide unlimited private language lessons (for Spanish) online at the comforts of your own home.

There's no excuse not to know another language in the multicultural world we live in.

5. Starting a Business

Creating a business from scratch is like having a baby. And as the baby gets bigger, you have to now overlook other people who are taking care of the baby with you.

These people depend on you for putting food on their family's tables and paying their bills every single month.

Talk about pressure, right?

Yes, starting a business is tough. But after starting several online businesses, I can personally share that it's one of the most fulfilling things you can do.

When you wake up every day with the mission to serve someone or something that's beyond yourself, what other people think of you starts to matter less and less.

Even if you're starting a business as a solo entrepreneur, you have to think beyond yourself, because you have clients, customers, and users to accommodate.

6. Selling

We've all heard of this used car salesman term. Some people jump across to the other side of the room when they hear the word "selling."

It comes off sleazy or dirty, and when asked to do it themselves, they're uncomfortable at the thought of it.

Let's face it, all of us could use some form of sales skills. Whether it's to win over a client, receive a promotion, or even persuade our friends to watch one movie over another.

Most importantly, selling skills train you to look at the world from someone else's perspective. When you're focusing less on yourself, but rather the person sitting on the other side of the table, your self-consciousness diminishes almost immediately.

7. Weight Lifting

Lifting weights to build confidence is nothing new.

You've probably seen inspiring videos of people losing 50lbs, and how it has transformed their lives.

Beyond the obvious benefits, weight lifting contributes heavily to our mental health. It improves our blood circulation, which in turn increases our energy levels and overall happiness. Moreover, studies have shown that it also improves our cognitive functions, such as our attention, memory, and decision making.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Start-up Growth: How to grow a small business

Our world is moving faster and continuously progressing in terms of innovation and creation. In this world, the newest yet fastest growing market is the Start-Up network. Our millennial's, the youth of this century are moving faster than light, in producing new ideas, innovation and creation. Everyone's different but fighting for the same purpose better health, education, travels, comfort, and happiness.

Systems in many organizations typically focus on boosting and measuring financial performance, as an organization grows, it is often important to build systems that measure qualitative factors such as employee and customer satisfaction, learning, innovation, and growth.

Structure is how people are organized and their reporting relationships. Traditionally, start-ups begin life with a functional organization--with executives in charge of, say, product development, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and finance. As an organization grows, it may create divisions with general managers who run different product lines as businesses within the business.

And shared values represent the kinds of conduct a company seeks to encourage. Start-ups with clearly articulated shared values do a better job of hiring people who fit with their culture, and use those values to decide whom to promote and whom to manage out of the company.

If your start-up is struggling to manage rapid growth, here are five steps you could follow to improve your structure, systems, and shared values.

1. Build a project team.

If you want to change these three S's, you can't do it alone. You should assemble a team of your key direct reports, and you might want to include representatives of your leading customers and key suppliers as well.

And once you form that team, you ought to develop an approach to managing your growth, possibly with the aid of an outside consultant. The project team should develop a method for going forward, including a process for communicating progress and getting feedback to keep the project on track.

2. Interview start-up CEOs and experts.

The next step your project team should pursue is to pick the most burning issues your start-up faces when it comes to managing growth. 

For example: Do you have the right organizational structure, or is it slowing down decision making? Are you measuring and rewarding people on the right variables? Are you hiring people who fit well, or are you suffering from high turnover?

By identifying this list of burning issues, you can develop an interview guide. You should use this guide to structure your conversation with 15 to 20 CEOs of fast-growing start-ups and experts in managing change.

3. Analyze research findings and develop a diagnostic tool.

One you've conducted the interviews, you should analyze the results and use the insights to generate ideas for how you can improve your start-up's structure, systems, and shared values.

But before you move forward with these ideas, you should develop a diagnostic tool. This tool will be a set of questions that you can ask your start-up's stakeholders--its employees, customers, suppliers, and investors.

4. Compare diagnostic results to best practices and identify improvement opportunities.

Once you've completed those interviews, you can assess where your start-up's structure, systems, and shared values are strong and where there are opportunities to improve them. You should benchmark your start-up against the best practices that you identified through the interviews with other start-up CEOs and experts.

This will help you narrow the scope of where you need to change how your company works.

5. Develop and implement improvements.

Finally, you should work with your project team to develop ideas for how to improve your start-up's structure, systems, and shared values. Here, you should use the ideas from best practices to brainstorm many new ways to make your start-up's structure, systems, and shared values more effective.

For instance, you might decide that you need to get customers involved earlier in your product-development process; measure your people not just on how much they boost sales but also on how well they work with those in other departments; and add giving back to the local community as a core value.

Fast growth in a start-up is a sign that customers like what you're doing. But if your organization can't keep up, your growth could quickly reverse. Follow these five steps, and you'll lower that risk.

Manage Your Time, Solve Your Problems

Time management isn't just about being "on time"; it's about directing yourself and your employees towards solving issues for your business in a systematic and organized way. If your start-up is still a one-person show, your time management skills are going to be focused on what you alone can achieve, what problems need to be addressed, and how long it will take you to do so. If you have employees or are part of a team, then you will be incorporating time management techniques into delegating tasks and charting a course for your business. For some, you'll be doing both.

It could be that you are naturally well organized and that your business already runs efficiently, but there are always improvements to be made. Stagnancy and complacency are precursors to failure, especially at this early stage. Alternatively, you could be big on passion and ideas but lack appreciation of time as a valuable resource. In this case, time management is even more critical to you.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Science of Great Ideas-How to Train Your Creative Brain

Ever felt yourself on the brink of an amazing idea, but suddenly, your creativity seemed to grind to a halt? If you've experienced this annoyance before, you're probably keen to learn how to get the creative juices flowing again.

In this day and age, creativity is as important as it's ever been. Even in the business world, the greatest success is achieved through innovation, for which we must have creativity!

If you've ever felt let down by your current level of creativity, it's time to work on improving it. You may be surprised to realize that intelligence only plays a modest role in creative genius.

1. Believe Creativity Can Be Grown

While this may seem obvious, it's essential for you to harness all your willpower from the start. The mere act of belief is one of the most powerful motivators.

You must throw away the concept that creativity is an inborn gift. It's true we naturally develop a certain level of creativity, but then it's up to you to encourage and allow its growth.

Align your belief now and you will commit yourself to becoming more creative.

2. Choose Lateral over Vertical Learning

Broadly speaking, there are two different ways we acquire knowledge. Vertical learning is specialization in a particular knowledge field, whereas lateral learning gives us a grasp on a variety of different knowledge fields.

Naturally, you'll find yourself gravitating towards one or the other. If you're typically a logical thinker, you'll often lean towards vertical. However, making an effort to focus on lateral learning will fuel your creativity greatly. Having a wide variety of knowledge in different fields will give your creative side more resources to flow through.

3. Train Your Creativity as You Would a Muscle

Steve Jobs was without a doubt a creative inspiration to all of us. During his time, he shared a wealth of creative wisdom, including this quote:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." – Steve Jobs

However, it's worth knowing that Jobs already had some mighty creative muscles in place. Without them, it's difficult for us to achieve the same.

Fortunately, we can train the creative functions of the brain much like we train our muscles in the gym. By providing regular stimulation and pushing ourselves, growth can be triggered.

Practice stretching your creativity using methods such as brainstorming or writing as many ideas as you can on paper. As you become more creative, you'll notice ideas flowing more easily.

4. Dedicate Time to Creativity

If you're serious about becoming more creative, you'll need to dedicate time to it. Save at least one free hour per day solely for your own creativity. Allow your mind to wander without daily activities and duties interfering.

Don't see this as unproductive time, see it as essential playtime for your creative side. When you grant your mind this freedom, you'll be amazed at what you can come up with!

5. Keep a Thought Journal

Have you ever experienced a spark of creative genius, only to have it fade away before you can act upon it? This is actually quite common, even for the greatest creative thinkers of our time.

Creativity is introspective and sensitive to our feelings. Ideas can come and go as fleetingly as our emotions. Inspiration can strike at any moment and be gone in the next.

Creative geniuses often keep thought journals for jotting down these thoughts as they go about their day. Start capturing your fleeting thoughts on paper, then you can revisit them later for deeper reflection.

6. Consciously Use Both Sides of Your Brain

Creativity is not black and white. It's not a simple case of left-brain for logical and right-brain for creative thinking. True creativity comes from a harmonious balance of both.

Becoming more self-understanding will help bolster your creativity. Start by identifying your usual thinking patterns and purposefully balancing yourself out. For instance, if logical thinking is too dominating, you should simulate the creative side with activities such as drawing or painting.

Ultimately, you should be able to easily transition between both creative and logical thinking. Once you have mastered this, you will be well on your way to becoming a true creative genius!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Habits That Will Change Your Life in 5 Minutes

When it comes to being productive with your time and focusing your days on what really matters to you, there is a 5-minute habit that can have a significant effect on your life. It's very simple: You must tell your time where to go.

Taking 5 minutes every day to write down your schedule for the next day can help you stay on track toward your goals; decrease time wasted on unimportant activities, and helps you make sure you are spending your days doing what matters most to you.

Here are some tips to maximize the power of writing down your schedule.

1. Set aside time to do something you love

Every day, plan some time to do something you love, even if it's for just 5 minutes to start. When you take time to regularly do the things that light you up, your life will change and so will the people around you.

2. Make sure you're living your top priorities

Writing down your schedule can help you stay focused on what's truly important in your life. As you write down your schedule, make sure you're spending time on your top priorities. If you notice that month after month, you're neglecting what's important and filling your schedule with junk, it's time to re-evaluate yourself. By consistently writing down your schedule, if you discover that you're not living your top priorities, dig deep and be really honest with yourself about what your priorities are, and re-evaluate your life and schedule so you can truly live your priorities.

3. Group similar tasks together

When you write down your schedule, consider batching tasks together that are similar or that require you to be in the same location. This can help you minimize time spent transitioning from one activity to the next, which can help increase your productivity. Think about your daily tasks and group them in ways that allow for seamless transitions.

4. Give yourself deadlines

Deadlines are very powerful, as they can help us significantly increase our effort. When you write down your schedule, put time limits on your tasks. When you feel like the task must be completed in a certain amount of time, it can help you avoid procrastination and take immediate action.

5. Include a small step toward a big goal on your daily schedule

In order to make regular progress toward your big goals, commit to taking a small action step every day. Each day, write out the action step you will take the next day to move yourself closer to your dreams.

Writing down your schedule is a very simple exercise, yet it can be life-changing. When you tell your time where to go, it helps you focus your life on what truly matters to you. This will enable you to live a more fulfilling life. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Habits of Financially Secure People

In our world these days, money has become a debatable conversation. On one end of the world, the elites hoard money and gold bars while on the other end millions are fighting for a dollar. Therefore it has always been the largest community in the middle that's in the fine line of falling through either end or staying stable.

Financial literacy has been a major subject for many discussions as we lack financial education in our schools, home, and work. These have led to many unforeseen circumstances for many families; the impact has been a catastrophe, which wasn't intended. Therefore, it's become crucial for one to understand how to protect one's assets.

Here are a few pointers to ensure your financial stability excellence despite a terrible economy in the future.

Invest in your future.

If you're young, you probably don't think about retirement much. But it's important. Even if you think you can always plan for retirement later, do it now. The growth of your investments over time will be amazing if you start in your 20s. Do a little research, but whatever you do, start now!

Implement a budget plan

It is your guide to prevent you from overspending and saving money.  A budget plan will help you become more conscious about earning and spending money.  It will give you directions on eliminating or controlling unnecessary items that you buy regularly. At the end of the day, it will help you save and this is one habit that you should maintain if you want financial security.

Count your calories also, not only your money

Maintaining good physical health and condition is one of the best and natural ways to save money.  When you are in good health, you do not need to spend on diet pills, fat burners, medicines for different illnesses and medical complications.  In addition, when you are in good health, you do not run the risk of emergency situations such as heart attacks that will help escalate expenses.  Thus, one habit to maintain is to exercise in order to stay in the pink of health and avoid spending money on expensive medicines.

Eat well and spend well

Some foods appear to be cheaper like junk foods but the long term effects can be financially disastrous.  Junk foods contain a huge amount of salt and too much salt can damage your kidneys and when kidneys are damaged, you might need regular blood transfusion to keep it functioning.  Thus, the next habit that should be promoted to avoid expensive operations and transfusion is to eat healthy foods as well.

Look to grow your net worth.

Do whatever you can to improve your net worth, either by reducing your debt, increasing your savings, or increasing your income, or all of the above. Look for new ways to make money, or to get paid more for what you do. Over the course of months, if you calculate your net worth each month, you'll see it grow. And that feels great.

Monday, 1 August 2016

7 Strategies to Deal with Toxic People

Life is stressful enough for most of us. Allowing a toxic individual to ravage your immediate environment can cause havoc in your mental well-being, which can lead to physical challenges.

A bad state of mind not only affects your physical well-being but makes it difficult for you to respond calmly under pressure. Ninety percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions, so your ability to perform effectively can be affected if you do not adopt strategies that will allow you to deal with toxic people.

It's painful to feel like you're surrounded by that negative energy and what's worse is that you always feel at-risk for getting sucked into it. The truth is that people are not actually toxic. What is toxic is your reaction to them.

So the way to not feel like this has nothing to do with the other person, it's all about retaining a sense of self. Here are some points to help you do that.

1.  Move on without them.

If you know someone who insists on destructively dictating the emotional atmosphere, then be clear: they are toxic.  If you are suffering because of their attitude, and your compassion, patience, advice, and general attentiveness doesn't seem to help them, and they don't seem to care one bit, then ask yourself, "Do I need this person in my life?"

When you delete toxic people from your environment it becomes a lot easier to breathe.  If the circumstances warrant it, leave these people behind and move on when you must.

A healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you're always giving and they're always taking.  If you must keep a truly toxic person in your life for whatever reason, then consider the remaining points.

2.  Stop pretending their toxic behaviour is OK.

If you're not careful, toxic people can use their moody behaviour to get preferential treatment, because it just seems easier to quiet them down than to listen to their grouchy rhetoric.  Don't be fooled.  Short-term ease equals long-term pain for you in a situation like this.  Toxic people don't change if they are being rewarded for not changing. 

3.  Speak up!

Stand up for yourself.  Some people will do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others – cut in line, take money and property, bully and belittle, pass guilt, etc.  Do not accept this behaviour.  Most of these people know they're doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronted.  In most social settings people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up, so SPEAK UP.

Some toxic people may use anger as a way of influencing you, or they may not respond to you when you're trying to communicate, or interrupt you and suddenly start speaking negatively about something dear to you.  If ever you dare to speak up and respond adversely to their moody behaviour, they may be surprised, or even outraged, that you've trespassed onto their behavioural territory.  But you must speak up anyway.

4.  Put your foot down.

Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and disgracefully mocked, but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it.  It's all about finding the strength to defend your boundaries.

Demonstrate that you won't be insulted or belittled.  Much more effective has been ending conversations with sickening sweetness or just plain abruptness. Truly toxic people will pollute everyone around them, including you if you allow them.  If you've tried reasoning with them and they aren't budging, don't hesitate to vacate their space and ignore them until they do.

5.  Don't take their toxic behaviour personally.

Toxic people will likely try to imply that somehow you've done something wrong.  And because the "feeling guilty" button is quite large on many of us, even the implication that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsettle our resolve.  Don't let this happen to you.

Remember, there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  Most toxic people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  Even when the situation seems personal – even if you feel directly insulted – it usually has nothing to do with you.  What they say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection. 

6.  Practice practical compassion.

Sometimes it makes sense to be sympathetic with toxic people whom you know are going through a difficult time, or those who are suffering from an illness. There's no question about it, some toxic people are genuinely distressed, depressed, or even mentally and physically ill, but you still need to separate their legitimate issues from how they behave toward you.  If you let people get away with anything because they are distressed, facing a medical condition, or depressed, even, then you are making it too tempting for them to start unconsciously using their unfortunate circumstance as a means to an end.

7.  Take time for yourself.

If you are forced to live or work with a toxic person, then make sure you get enough alone time to relax, rest, and recuperate.  Having to play the role of a "focused, rational adult" in the face of toxic moodiness can be exhausting, and if you're not careful, the toxicity can infect you.  Again, understand that even people with legitimate problems and clinical illnesses can still comprehend that you have needs as well, which means you can politely excuse yourself when you need to.

You deserve this time away.  You deserve to think peacefully, free from external pressure and toxic behaviour.  No problems to solve, boundaries to uphold, or personalities to please.  Sometimes you need to make time for yourself, away from the busy world you live in that doesn't make time for you.