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Millions of people vow to start the new year with increased resolve to improve their health. Unfortunately, losing weight and getting fit is one of the resolutions most often broken, according to Time.com. For those of us who work in an office, this isn’t surprising. When you sit in one place for the majority of the day, physical fitness is bound to suffer.
I’ve been thinking about this sedentary office lifestyle and how it affects my friends and family, so I reached out to fitness expert Andrea Jones for some easy tips. She is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Alchemy, a hot new group fitness concept in Minneapolis and she knows her stuff!
Her very first suggestion: seek accountability.
“Whether it’s a workout buddy or a clean-eating friend, your healthy habits are more likely to stick if you share your commitment to being healthy with a colleague,” says Jones.
You can even take this idea one step further and work with HR to create some optional office-wide challenges. For example, start a walking club or challenge coworkers to bring healthy brown-bag lunches for an entire month. Last year we hosted the “LinkUp Fitbit Challenge,” which was a great way to get motivated and have fun doing it!
On the subject of eating, do you ever feel like the overflowing availability of treats in the breakroom is constantly tempting you? It’s time to kill the donut and bagel frenzy with a little smart planning.
“You don’t have to be a buzzkill walking into an office party or breakfast meeting, counting your almonds and apple slices, but you can be the change,” Jones says. “Bring fresh or dried fruit and nuts, hard-boiled eggs, or sliced turkey and cucumber roll-ups for a refreshing, delicious and healthy alternative.”
Snacking healthy and surrounding yourself with positive influences are great first steps for people who work in an office environment. Next, it’s time to get out of the comforts of the adjustable chair and get moving.
“Carve out time on your calendar for a workout,” suggests Jones. “Wake up an hour before work, make it a lunch date, or swap happy-hour drinks for a group fitness class. It’s trendy, it’s healthy, and it will make you fitter than the cocktail and cheese curds route.”
In addition to physical health, mental health is equally important to your overall well-being. Jones recommends a smart exercise to shift your outlook and improve your attitude.
“Take a page from the 5 Minute Journal and spend a few minutes when you wake up to write down what you are grateful for and what would make today great,” she says. “As you wrap up your day, jot down at least one thing that made today amazing and ask yourself, ‘What would have made today better?’ Try this exercise for a week and you’re bound to be a better version of yourself by week’s end!”
Finally, Jones suggests simply letting go. “The excuses, promises of commitment and guilt are weighing you down. If you are singing the same sad tune from last year, let it go,” she says. “Today is the day to make a change. Want to drink more water? Do it. Need some motivation? Join us at Alchemy for the 365 Challenge. It starts Monday.”
Andrea Jones is co-founder, owner, and chief marketing officer at Alchemy, and is vice president of the Union Fitness CrossFit studios in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, and St. Paul. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn.
Rarely, if ever, am I at a complete loss when trying to generate some commentary around our labor market forecast. I’m not sure if the problem is being too distracted by the start of a new year, too busy with our core business, too pessimistic about the increasingly worrisome state of the economy, or too horrified by the current state of the world, but it’s been a struggle this week to muster the time or energy to publish our forecast.
My current media consumption, ranging from dark and moody (The Affair, season 2) and stressful and chaotic (Homeland, season 5) to terrifying (True Detective, season 1) and gut-wrenching (Between The World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates) hasn’t helped my malaise.
Nor has the absolute absurdity that is the field of Republican presidential candidates, the NRA, militia in Oregon, flooding in Illinois, global warming everywhere, or just about anything else going on in the news these days.
Jason Hirschhorn, the brilliant, mastermind curator behind REDEF, said it perfectly in this morning’s rantnrave:// – “It’s the new year and it looks like the world is falling apart again. Is it me? SAUDI ARABIA and IRAN. NORTH KOREA. SYRIA. ISIS. Terrorist attacks. Militias. Gun debates. The most important Presidential election in my lifetime and a cast of clowns. What does armageddon look like?”
Thank God for SNL.
It’s also very possible that my paralysis is the direct result of recently seeing The Big Short and having to stare into the abyss once again and face the terror, dread, nausea, abhorrence, and revulsion of all that was The Great Recession.
Or perhaps my lack of enthusiasm for our non-farm payroll is simply the result of the fact that we are predicting a rather uneventful, ho-hum jobs number of just 205,000 for December.
And in one of those great moments of serendipity (a very good movie, by the way), as I stare at a blank WordPress screen, my Tycho station on Pandora plays this song:
And what better theme could there be for December’s jobs forecast? Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. (Most assuredly not the strongest theme I’ve ever woven into a jobs forecast, but it’s the best I’ve got this week).
So here’s our forecast:
Based on flat numbers in November, we are forecasting a net gain of just 205,000 jobs in December, essentially the same as last month.
In December, however, job openings in our search engine rose again rather sharply, so perhaps we’ll start 2016 off with a huge month of job growth in January.
Jobs by category showed similar gains.
So on Friday, que sera sera.
And by the way, see and/or read The Big Short. Seriously.
We think this year should be all about improving the candidate experience, in fact, it’s our biggest recruiting resolution of 2016. Of course, the most logical place to begin is where a job seeker does, the employment application. It’s simple, if a job seeker is turned off by the length of your application or an arduous process they are going to bail and you are not even going to have any candidates to consider.
We reached out to Liz D’Aloia, CEO of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX, for her expertise on the subject. In this post we go back to the basics asking her thoughts on the purpose, common mistakes and what makes a perfect application. Next week we’ll get more tactical with Liz’s perspective on which questions to include and avoid, as well as how to reduce application abandonment.
Q: What is the overarching purpose or goal of a employment application?
A: It’s twofold. From the candidate’s perspective, it’s an expression of interest and qualifications for a job. From the employer’s perspective, it’s the first step in the screening process and it acts as a source of candidate contact information.
Q: What are the most important components of a employment application?
A: An employer needs to gather contact information, understand the candidate’s qualifications, ask some basic screening questions, and convey legal statements.
Q: Job application vs Resume? What are the main differences from the employer and candidate perspectives?
A: Savvy employers are beginning to realize that they need two different application processes: one for exempt, and one for non-exempt candidates. For exempts, it’s not unusual to get sourced on LinkedIn, submit a resume, and fill out an application later in the process. The resume is more important than the job application since it details experience, accomplishments, etc. in a way that it’s hard to convey on an application.
Non-exempt candidates are in an entirely different arena. Many don’t have resumes. And even if they do, those resumes often reflect the entry-level nature of their jobs. They don’t offer much value to employers, and candidates struggle to write them. So why ask for them when you can get the information you need through a short, mobile-enabled application and some screening questions that are very job specific?
Q: What is the biggest mistake employers make on job applications?
A: Employers make 4 major mistakes on their job applications.
1. Failure to provide a truly mobile experience. Pew published a research paper in November 2015 that highlighted the challenges that candidates — and employees face with job applications. From a practical standpoint, the first mistake employers make is assuming that their online application (usually through an ATS) will translate into a mobile experience. This is the number one complaint we hear from our clients who are using a “mobile” enabled ATS. Consider the data from Pew:
- 28% of Americans — including 53% of 18-to-29-year olds — have used a smartphone in one way or another as part of a job search
- 50% smartphone job seekers (representing 14% of all adults) have used their smartphone to fill out an online job application
We’re at full employment in the US, and any recruiter will tell you how hard it is to find talent. Companies can increase their candidate pool by making it easier for people to apply online and on their smartphones. Consider:
Nearly half of smartphone job seekers have had problems accessing job related content because it wasn’t displaying properly on their phone or had difficulty reading the text in a job posting because it wasn’t designed for a mobile device.
More than one in three job seekers had trouble entering a large amount of text needed for a job application or had difficulty submitting the files or other supporting documents needed to apply for a job.
2. Lengthy applications with questions that don’t relate to the job applied for. This is a very easy fix if you use the right software. Don’t forget that candidates will abandon a lengthy online process. According to the CEO of Snagajob, a whopping 97% of applications are abandoned when companies only offer a lengthy online process that candidates try to complete on their phone.
3. Asking for sensitive, personal information (social security number, DOB) on the employment application. Many candidates will abandon an application process that requires this information
4. Requiring a resume to apply. First, most ATSs don’t parse resumes well. Also, according to Pew, 17% of Americans indicate that it would not be easy to create a professional resume if they needed to do so. But here’s where employers really find themselves in a bind, they have one process for all candidates from senior executives to entry-level hourly roles. Consider:
Q: What makes the perfect job application?
A: The “perfection” of a job application can really only be measured by its completion rate. Most companies either don’t measure this, or are struggling to increase it. This is a tough fix for companies since many have spent millions of dollars on complex ATS systems that aren’t mobile friendly. We’re starting to see a shift away from the “old school” ATS platforms that are bundled with other talent management and HRIS modules. The customers and HR pros I regularly speak with understand that it’s really hard for technology companies to do a lot of things well, and they’re starting to separate their ATS, HRIS, on-boarding, and talent management systems.
One thing I kept in mind while building the HR Virtuoso System is that companies usually have a lot of time, effort, and expense associated with their current systems. It’s a big leap for them to change their application process, but the job market has changed quickly, and they have to evolve in order to remain competitive. So, the perfect job application is short, mobile-friendly, and will integrate with whatever system the employer chooses.
Stay tuned next week for more insights from Liz on constructing the perfect employment application!
Liz D’Aloia is the founder and CEO of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX. She is an HR professional, employment attorney, speaker, and blogger. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso Liz worked at national transportation companies and at a global retailer. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn and follower her @hrvirtuoso.
2015 was a great year for the LinkUp blog! Our readership grew exponentially and our posts received a lot of great engagement. As we look back at the year, it’s been fun to see which posts created the most buzz, garnered the most readers, and struck a chord with our job seekers and recruiters. So with out further adieu, here are our top 5 blog posts of 2015!
Following someone on LinkedIn is like subscribing to their blog, but we’d argue that it’s better. Why? In addition to reading insights and expertise, you can also see other articles each influencer shares, as well as the engagements he or she has with other members. You can even participate in the conversation yourself to show your own familiarity with the subject matter.
Here at LinkUp, we recommend following these top 10 LinkedIn influencers to give your job search and career a boost. Read more
Daily headlines tout reasons why you should quit your job or discover your passion. Doing so is a good thing … if you are truly unsatisfied. Unfortunately, what often gets overlooked in the excitement of a possible new opportunity is all the positive things that having tenure at your current job provide you.
In fact, if you think about it, there’s probably a lot of really great reasons NOT to quit your job. Before you make the jump, consider our list of seven compelling reasons you should stay at the job you currently have. Read more
Earlier this year NBC announced Brian Williams’ suspension without pay for 6 months from his job as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News. He had falsely recanted a story from 2003, in which he claimed a helicopter he was riding in during the Iraq war was shot down, resulting in countless headlines about his journalistic and personal integrity.
For HR professionals, the topic of employees lying is no laughing matter. When it is uncovered that an employee has been untruthful, what are the proper procedures to take? Much depends on the type of lie and severity of the situation, of course. Regardless, having an internal plan to reference ahead of time can be helpful in clarifying the process so any investigation can be handled in a quick, professional manner. Read more
Job search is hard, and certainly not without frustration. From not hearing back on job applications to wonky applicant tracking systems, job seekers are fed up! In this post, we highlight the woes of job seekers, as many are at their wit’s end with recruiters and the bad habits they’ve developed.
Check out the most popular pet peeves that drive job seekers crazy, pulled directly from reader comments about recruiters. Read more
Speaking of recruiter pet peeves, our number one post of 2015 highlights those we hear most often. From the people who dress way too casual for an interview (no, board shorts and cutoffs aren’t okay) to those who show up way too early for an interview (two hours just isn’t necessary), they’ve seen it all.
Beyond the interview no-shows, what really grinds their gears? Job seekers beware: here are 10 pet peeves that drive recruiters up a wall. What other annoyances can you add to this list, all you recruiters out there? Read more
What’s on tap for 2016?
Thanks for making 2015 the most successful year yet for the LinkUp blog! We’re looking forward to what 2016 will hold but we need your help! What topics should we cover in 2016? Reply in the comments!
As the job market continues to turn in favor of the applicant, employers need to be strategic in order to make a positive lasting impression. To attract top talent in 2016 and beyond, it’s more important than ever to offer a delightful candidate experience.
A clunky application system. A confusing interview process. Lackluster communication and no rejection letter. These are major faults of companies big and small across the country. Create a bad experience and the candidate may never apply again. Furthermore, you can bet applicants will talk to their friends about the experience, which means others may be deterred from applying.
Resolve to make 2016 the year you breathe new life into your company’s candidate experience so you can garner top talent and improve your reputation among professionals throughout the industry. This checklist offers the perfect way to get started.
1. Experience it for yourself
Most companies are unaware just how bad the candidate experience is. Start by putting yourself in the applicant’s shoes and go through the process. Yes, that means applying for your own jobs. Be prepared to have an eye-opening experience.
2. Simplify the application
If the application process is convoluted, consider a redesign. If the industry requires a detailed application due to regulatory reasons, consider adding a short video that clarifies application steps on the website.
3. Prioritize communication
Lack of communication is a top applicant complaint. It’s important to communicate with candidates throughout the entire process, not just if you want to move forward with an interview. Even a short email is helpful.
4. Clarify the process
Every company has a different hiring process and it can be helpful to candidates to clarify the steps from start to finish so they know what to expect. That could include a flow chart on the website’s careers page, an email after an application is received or a handout at the interview.
5. Support candidate preparation
Help ensure interviews are as productive as possible by sending out a standard communication package to candidates a few days prior. This could include company history, product profiles, hiring team bios, etc.
6. Convey the culture
Both you and the candidate want a good personality fit, so it is beneficial to add video, images and copy to your website in order to convey company culture. Some examples include employee bios and experiences, company awards and special outings, and, of course, a mission statement.
7. Combat brandjacking
Criminals are increasingly posting false job ads in order to obtain personal information from job seekers. This type of identity theft hurts the brand and puts candidates’ private info at risk. Pay attention to brandjacking and deal with it accordingly.
8. Facilitate the interview
Streamline the interview process to leave candidates feeling elated. Have a specific person to greet and guide candidates to each meeting. For long interviews, plan breaks that include water, coffee and snacks. Always offer an office tour to help candidates better understand the job atmosphere.
9. Provide tactful rejections
While rejection sounds harsh, it provides much needed closure for candidates. Go one better by telling them how many people applied — it can be easier to deal with rejection when you know the competition was fierce. Then, add in appropriate next steps, such as asking rejected candidates to apply for future positions directly.
10. Get feedback
The candidate isn’t the only one who can benefit from feedback. You — the company — should want it, too. Solicit feedback on the candidate experience via phone or email, or do so in a survey sent to candidates post-interview. Use the results to analyze and improve processes.
It’s a job seeker’s market in many industries, which means 2016 is ripe with opportunity for those looking for new positions. If you’ve been pondering the future, it’s time to stop daydreaming and start taking action. The beginning of the new year is the ideal time to jump-start a job hunt, and these 10 tips will provide just the motivation you need.
1. Partner with a mentor or career counselor
Want an edge? Find someone to hold you accountable for your search and support your goals. A trustworthy mentor or career counselor will keep you sharp throughout your search.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” — Lou Holtz
2. Set aggressive yet achievable goals
Searching for and securing a new job in two weeks would be amazing, but that is an unrealistic goal. Set smaller daily and weekly goals while keeping your eye on the prize.
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”— Norman Vincent Peale
3. Prioritize preparation
Take time to update your resume, fine-tune your LinkedIn profile and join an industry association. Be prepared for interviews and know your most marketable skills. Preparation is key.
“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” — Oprah Winfrey
4. Celebrate quick wins
Job search wins don’t include only the interviews and offers. Be proud of small victories, too, such as submitting an application at a dream employer. These tasks represent your hard work and dedication.
“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” — Robert Collier
5. Go beyond the minimum
When you’re done for the day, always do one more thing. Comment on a LinkedIn post, shoot an email to a former colleague, or read an educational blog. It will speed up your job search.
“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” — Thomas Jefferson
6. Apply for dream jobs
If you’re extremely interested in a job and you have some but not all the required skills, apply anyway. You’ll never get the job you don’t apply for.
“Anything’s possible if you got enough nerve.” — J.K. Rowling
7. Network daily
Your professional network is one of your biggest assets during a job hunt. Make sure to do something every day to expand this important group of people.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” — African proverb
8. Believe in yourself
Keep your confidence shining bright, even if your job search lingers. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you, and be sure you believe in yourself.
“The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not the job.” — Zig Ziglar
9. Take breaks
The best job search strategies require daily activity, but that doesn’t mean it has to take over your life. Ensuring you have time to decompress will energize you for your search.
“Taking time to live life will only inspire your work.” — Unknown
10. Learn from failures
Always take time to learn from the jobs you don’t get. There are lessons in each rejection and it’s important to use each as motivation for the future.
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” — Bill Gates
This week it was announced that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face charges of desertion and endangering troops after he willingly left his post in Afghanistan in 2009. The Taliban captured and held Bergdahl captive for five years before negotiating with President Obama in 2014 for his release. In exchange for his safe return, President Obama released five Taliban members from Guantanamo. The trade and Bergdahl’s claims have since faced extensive scrutiny.
He’s been called a traitor. Reckless. Deserter. Bergdahl’s motives have been questioned and his story is a mystery that slowly unravels. He claims he left to call attention to alarming conditions in his unit, and he believed his actions would make a statement that couldn’t be ignored. However, whether warranted or not, he endangered the lives of his fellow service members and set a dangerous precedent for future prisoner-of-war negotiations.
Bergdahl’s claims are thought provoking. Here at LinkUp, we’re already addicted to season 2 of the Serial podcast that focuses on his story. Some questions we have asked each other include: Why didn’t he tell his superiors his concerns? Were there no mechanisms available to directly or anonymously raise them? If there were, why didn’t he feel comfortable using them? If he is in fact being truthful, what could have been so bad that he couldn’t report it?
At the very least, this situation should spark a conversation about communication within the military. It’s imperative that any organization provide a system for internal concerns. Failing to do so creates risk and jeopardizes the safety of all employees, and it could also affect the entire organization in question.
So what lessons can businesses learn from this saga in order to create productive systems for employee feedback? It all starts with the company culture. The entire organization from the top down must create an atmosphere of trust and maintain open lines of communication. Leadership must genuinely believe in it and adopt it.
HR is a good place for feedback systems to develop. Mechanisms for providing direct feedback (such as meeting with a manager or human resources rep) should exist alongside those for providing confidential feedback (like submitting concerns via web-based hotlines or an old-fashioned suggestion box). Employees need to feel confident in both systems so they can use them without fear of retribution.
Not only should systems for feedback be established, but so should detailed plans regarding how the company will follow up with each concern submitted. If action isn’t taken, the system is flawed and no one will take it seriously. Employees must have a voice regardless of the organization’s size.
If you are concerned that these systems will become a sounding board for seemingly minor complaints like drippy faucets or bad cafeteria food, remember that what is minor to you may not be to another person — for reasons you may not realize. Whether the concern is big or small, soliciting this feedback is critical to establishing a positive employee-employer relationship. It helps managers stay in touch while building trust and loyalty. Plus, it demonstrates good ethics.
Only time will tell how Bergdahl’s tale unfolds, and hopefully someday we’ll know the truth about his motives. In the meantime, I hope it encourages organizations across the country to both invite and actively respond to feedback.
Admittedly still reeling from such a colossal miss last month, it’s a bit tough to jump back in for our November NFP forecast. For certain, some level of solace can be found in the fact that not a single economist surveyed by Bloomberg predicted job gains higher than 250,000 in October. In fact, the general mood for October was quite pessimistic with an average estimate among economists surveyed by Bloomberg of just under 185,000, well below monthly average job gains in 2015. But without a doubt, the magnitude of the miss last month still stings.
It was, to say the least, a sobering month, one that broke a nice streak of strong forecasts from August and September.
The only other piece of evidence I’d offer in my defense is that other than a surprising gain of 271,000 jobs, October’s Employment Situation was rather banal. Highlights included the following statements from Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 271,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.0 percent…”
“Both the unemployment rate (5.0 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (7.9 million) were essentially unchanged in October…”
“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.7 percent), adult women (4.5 percent), teenagers (15.9 percent), whites (4.4 percent), blacks (9.2 percent), Asians (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (6.3 percent) showed little or no change in October.”
“The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.1 million in October and has shown little change since June.”
“The civilian labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.4 percent in October, following a decline of 0.2 percentage point in September. The employment-population ratio, at 59.3 percent, changed little in October and has shown little movement over the past year.”
“Among the marginally attached, there were 665,000 discouraged workers in October, little changed from a year earlier.”
“The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained [i.e. unchanged] at 34.5 hours in October.”
Given the accelerated, largely seasonal hiring that usually occurs in October, combined with the steep declines in job openings on LinkUp in Q3 (see chart below), I would not be surprised at all if BLS revises October’s jobs number downward in November and/or December’s employment report(s).
The pessimism stemming from weakening labor demand evidenced in Q3 has migrated into panic-territory in November as new job listings on LinkUp fell off a cliff, declining 31% from October. Total job listings fell 9%, and perhaps most alarmingly, every single state showed a drop in new and total job openings.
Unfortunately, jobs by category showed similarly dismal numbers.
With a .3% uptick in a blended average of new and total job openings on LinkUp in October, we are forecasting a net gain of 275,000 jobs in November, essentially unchanged from October. As a bit of a cautionary, defensive measure, I’d also say that if October is revised downward this month or next, November’s job gains will come in roughly 5,000 higher than wherever October ends up.
Based on the horrific declines in job listings on LinkUp in November, our preliminary forecast for December’s non-farm payroll (NFP) number is a net gain of just 125,000 jobs. Our December forecast will be updated when we get the pairing of NOV/DEC jobs numbers from our paired-month methodology, but at this point, 2015 looks like it will end on a pretty sour note.
If our forecasts for November and December are somewhat in the ballpark, individually or in the aggregate, the 4th quarter will have seen a net gain of 670,000 jobs – a 30% increase from Q3 but down 31% from Q4 last year.
Furthermore, assuming again that our forecasts are in the ballpark, it is safe to assume both that the Fed will indeed raise rates in December and they will be unfairly eviscerated by Fed-haters in January when the December jobs numbers come in below consensus estimates. I say unfairly because 1) signs of a weakening labor market have been evident since July and 2) the Fed has done a miraculous job since 2008 in saving the U.S. from a depression.
Remember this chart?
That’s the hole that the Fed dug us out of, single-handedly. Forecasts during the abysmal depths of the Great Recession anticipated that the labor market would not fully recover all the lost jobs until 2016/2017. As a direct result of the Fed’s policies, and in spite of every single obstacle that the crazies in congress could throw on the road to recovery, job gains have paced both ahead of forecast and ahead of population growth.
The total number of employed people in the U.S. rose from 129.7 million in 2010 to 142.6 million today, an increase of 12.9 million employed people or 10%. During that same period, the employment population rose from 221.7 million to 240.5 million, an increase of 18.8 million people or 8.5%. So while the labor market is clearly showing signs of slowing down, a fact that will result in volatile jobs numbers in the coming months, the long-term trend has been slow but steady monthly job gains that have paced ahead of expectations.
Let’s hope that continues to be the trend in 2016 and maybe, just maybe, the crazies in Congress might decide it would be worthwhile leveraging some legislative and fiscal tools to help grow jobs and strengthen the economy.
Wouldn’t that be a nice change from the past 7 years?
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”
Benjamin Franklin said those wise words. There’s no arguing that each person’s top qualities can dramatically influence their career path and life’s purpose. The problem, however, is that many people aren’t really sure what those qualities are.
Furthermore, people often put much more effort into defining and overcoming their weaknesses than developing and leveraging their strengths into a career. It appears we may have the whole thing backwards!
If you want to reach your full potential, it’s important to identify and capitalize on your top qualities. Once you know what they are, you can leverage them in your career and personal life. When you’re doing things you know you’re good at, it stands to reason that you’ll be more enthusiastic, have higher self esteem, enjoy your work more and, ultimately, enjoy greater success.
If you’re just starting on your journey toward understanding your talents, you don’t need to read lengthy books or consult career counselors. These five quick steps can help you determine your strengths so you can focus on your best qualities.
1. Think about compliments you receive
Do people always comment on how organized you are? Do others admire your originality and creativity? Did your boss mention she appreciates your ability to lead? Think about compliments you’ve received at work and in your personal life, as these can be indicators of your true strengths.
2. Ask someone who will tell you the truth
Find someone who knows you well and ask them to tell you the truth about your strengths. It could be a best friend, a trusted colleague or even a parent. Remember to be open-minded and don’t get defensive when you hear the answer. Your true strengths may be different from what you think they are.
3. Consider how someone would describe you
How would other people describe you in just three words? Limiting yourself to just a few phrases will really help you focus on the best of the best qualities. If your best friend were to describe you, what would he say? Find out if his answers match what you think.
4. Reflect on past successes
Think of the moments you are most proud of at work and in your personal life. What qualities contributed to your success? Did you need to be focused, creative, dedicated, brave, a team player, etc.? Determine the main reasons you were able to achieve these things and it will help you identify your strengths.
5. What makes you happy and why
Finally, think about what you are most happy doing at work and why. Do you enjoy working in a team or would you rather work alone? Do you love writing pitches but hate crunching numbers? Do you jump at any chance to present to a group or do you loathe public speaking? When you think about your happiest moments at work, you’ll often realize those are the times when your strengths are shining brightest.