ThriveYard provides in-depth/detailed career advice articles, infographics, videos, and slides to help people get a job, love their job and succeed in their careers.Topics addressed include interview preparation, resume writing, cover letters, job promotion, resigning gracefully, managing email, using LinkedIn, job searching, being proactive, taking initiative.
This article walks you through great tips on how to prioritize work and meet deadlines. Prioritization entails identifying what should be done first out of an ocean of competing priorities.
When everything seems like a top priority, when you are constantly rushing to finish your work and when you are stretched too thin, it can be difficult making choices on what to do at a particular time and what to do later.
It takes planning and effort to decide what should be handled first and also coming up with a sequence or order for doing things.
Prioritization helps when faced with an overflowing to-do list and constantly moving targets.
Mastering time management is improved through trial and error before you settle down to a comfortable rhythm where you can manage your workflow efficiently and complete more work.
When you are accomplishing your tasks effectively, it gives you peace of mind, personal satisfaction and improves your reliability and credibility in the workplace.
You can quickly skim all the 20 prioritization tips on the table of contents below then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
The first logical step before beginning a prioritization exercise is to list down all the specific tasks that you want to do. This gives you a big picture overview of your workload from day-to-day.
On your to-do list, write down all the daily tasks that you hope to complete. In addition, list down both short-term and long-term activities that you need to complete. These can include items to be done within the next week, month, quarter, year or beyond one year.
Identify the due dates for the tasks on your list, these can also be written in parenthesis.
A simple to-do list can have four columns showing item numbers, tasks, due dates or deadlines and priority levels.
It is important to maintain an up to date to-do list and also to keep an electronic back-up of your to-do list. Your master to-do list serves as a running log of what you need to accomplish over time.
Since a master to-do list can change rapidly, it is easier to manage and regularly update it in electronic format.
A good practice is to update a to-do list at the end of each day where you delete items that have been completed and add new tasks to work on. This also gives you a preview of what the following day’s schedule would look like.
If you are not able to update your to-do list in the evening, the next best option is to update it first thing in the morning when you get to work.
Benefits of writing a to-do list include the following:
Helps you to keep track of everything that you need to work on.
Helps you to stay organized and manage time.
Aids our memory so we don’t have to struggle to remember everything we need to work on.
A good reminder for recurring or repetitive tasks.
Personal satisfaction when tasks are accomplished.
2. Prioritizing Your Work
What will happen if you don’t prioritize your work? Do you feel as if you are always putting out fires and everything needs to have been done yesterday? Do you feel as though you don’t have enough time to finish your to-do list even when working as fast as you possibly can?
It can be overwhelming trying to complete everything on your master to-do list in a single day.
To help you to properly manage your time, the next step after preparing a to-do list is to prioritize your tasks where you select what should be done first or immediately and why it should be done.
Prioritizing helps you to visually see the highest to the lowest priority tasks.
Prioritization is an ongoing activity; it can be done once a day and sometimes even multiple times a day as priorities change during the day.
Constantly keep an eye out on the deadlines of each task when prioritizing your work. Some work needs to be started well in advance of a deadline to complete it. Some other types of tasks require input from others hence build in enough time on your schedule and a buffer for possible delays.
Below are a few questions and considerations to take into account when setting priorities and also when evaluating your progress.
Questions to guide you when setting priorities:
What needs to be done immediately?
What are the consequences if the task is not done?
When should you start working on the task?
What resources and inputs do I need to complete this task?
What has not been done that should have been done?
Questions to guide you when tracking progress on your priority list:
What tasks have I completed?
What is the outcome when a task is completed?
What am I constantly postponing on my list? Why?
What should not have been on the list in the first place?
How can I shorten my to-do list?
Is this to-do list relevant anymore? From time to time re-write a fresh master to-do list at least every month or two.
3. Ranking Your Priorities
An easy method for prioritizing tasks is ranking using simple ABC priority levels namely: category A (do it now), category B (do it soon) and category C (do at leisure).
Where items in category A have to be completed immediately (do it now), items in category B can wait for now but should be done soon (do it soon) and items in category C can be done when you have downtime or when time permits (do at leisure).
Items in category A are high priority items – things to be done first including those with immediate, urgent or closest deadlines and the most important projects with highest returns and significant consequences if not done.
Items in category B are medium priority items which have later deadlines. These items transition to category A items as the due dates approach. It is important to start working on portions of medium priority items over time so that they can be ready when due. These can include long-term projects which can be done over a longer period of time such as writing an annual report or planning a conference.
Items in category C are low priority items which have low consequences if not done or if not done now i.e. things I would like to do when time permits.
As mentioned earlier in Section 1, a simple master to-do list can have four columns showing item numbers, tasks, due dates or deadlines and priority levels.
Two simple ways of managing your priorities so that you don’t end up with too many lists is firstly to add the rank next to tasks on your master to-do list. Then you can sort your list by priority level.
A second way is after you have ranked items on your master list, you can then extract the high priority items every day and put them on a small list for the items that you will work on within a particular day.
Keep your priorities in front of you and look at the list regularly throughout the day to ensure nothing gets forgotten. This is your daily compass.
A typical end of day sequence for staying on top of your tasks can entail the following steps:
Updating your master to-do list by deleting items completed each day and adding new tasks.
Updating the priority levels of tasks.
Extracting the key items that you will work on the following day.
Organizing your top priorities in the sequence or the order that you prefer to handle tasks during the day.
4. Breaking Large Tasks into Smaller Pieces
The thought of handling a big task or project all at once can be overwhelming that is why it is a good idea to break up large projects into more manageable components then start working on one small step after another.
Breaking down projects helps to keep sight of future tasks that need to be started early on to meet the due date.
For example if you are preparing an annual workshop, it can be split up into milestones such as preliminary activities to do be done 9 months before the event, activities to be done 3 months prior to the event, activities to be done one month prior to the event, activities to be done on the actual day of the workshop and post-event activities or tasks to be done after the event has ended.
Under each milestone, there will be a specific list of either one-off or recurring items to be handled. As you handle each small task one after the other, slowly and surely it lays the foundation for the preparation and execution of a successful event.
Similar to how laying one brick after another helps to build a house, likewise when milestones are paired with mini deadlines, and when achieved, they cumulatively lead to the accomplishment of a larger task or project.
5. Estimating Time and Effort/Being Realistic on What You Can do in a Day
Estimating the time and effort it will take to do a task helps in organizing your priorities and enables you to have a realistic plan regarding what you can possibly tackle in one day.
When a list of priorities is too long and is frequently not completed, it can cause frustration over time. Trying to do too much at once could have the opposite effect in terms of overpromising and missing deadlines, redoing work to fix mistakes, declining productivity, being anxious and experiencing burnout.
The more realistic the to-do list is the better. Ideally, planning for daily priorities should capture how much you can do within the available time taking into account your normal working pace or speed.
It could be hard to accurately estimate how long it would take to do a task that you have never done before. You can rely on your best estimate and also inquire from others who have done it how long it would typically or reasonably take.
For tasks that you have done before, you can be able to determine from your past experience how long it would take to finish a task and conversely how many tasks you can complete within a day.
Setting realistic expectations helps to build and preserve your reliability and credibility. In addition, it not only meets personal expectations but also meets expectations of your boss, team members and others.
Below are some tips on how to best plan and execute your priorities:
Visualize what the final outcome will look like for each task you do.
Plan to work on similar tasks together.
Endeavor to start and work on a task until it is finished.
Schedule time to do work on your calendar.
Do one thing well at a time.
Build momentum by moving from one completed task to a new one seamlessly.
Start work on your priorities early enough to avoiding rushing at the last minute to meet deadlines.
Take small breaks to get rejuvenated.
Follow up on delegated work.
Commit to completing your tasks.
Anticipate challenges that you may encounter.
Reflect on items accomplished.
If needed, have an accountability partner who helps you to stay on track in meeting your priorities.
6. Managing Deadlines
Many tasks at work are driven by deadlines. Deadlines help in managing priorities and also give a roadmap on how much time you have to complete a specific task. This helps one to adjust their effort and speed accordingly.
Deadlines create sustained pressure to perform which is released when the deadline is met. They also stimulate action aimed at either meeting or beating the deadline.
When given a project to complete, begin by analyzing the work required and identify if you have all the information and resources to successfully complete the activity. Seek any clarification early enough to ensure that you fully understand the work requirements.
Visualize the steps needed to reach the end goal, develop your outline, roadmap or strategy, divide work into smaller tasks and begin working on it piece by piece.
When met, deadlines help to track and measure progress and accomplishments.
Ways to manage and meet deadlines include:
When scheduling your tasks give yourself early completion deadlines – these act as a buffer or contingency for unforeseen emergencies, last minute adjustments and provide time to polish up the final output.
Maintain a running list of all external firm deadlines – update the list regularly.
Regularly look at and adequately prepare for upcoming deadlines.
Set reminders for deadlines.
When working with others on an activity, send regular reminders to all regarding forthcoming deadlines.
Take note of specific deadline submission details such as person to send the final project to, format of final work, means of delivery, due date and time plus time zone differences.
7. Dealing with Interruptions
Interruptions are an inevitable part of the work day. Too many interruptions can take a toll on your productivity and eat up valuable time that could be channeled towards your priorities.
Typical interruptions include emails, telephone calls, text messages, app notifications, instant messages, browsing, frequent meetings, chatting with colleagues, colleagues talking loudly and constant traffic especially if your desk is close to shared printers and photocopiers.
When you get interrupted, you lose your momentum and it takes time to get back to a steady working pace or rhythm. When you are regularly starting and stopping a task because of interruptions, it can cause frustration and increase the amount of time needed to complete a task.
Assess what kind of interruptions you face frequently. Find out if there are specific patterns and come up with solutions to keep the interruptions under control as best as you can. For example if it is a specific colleague who is always dropping by to chat or you are being pulled into meetings that are not relevant.
It is important to note that not all interruptions are bad; you could be getting or receiving important information that can aid you in completing your priorities. Conversely, you could be saving someone from making a grave mistake by simply listening to their request and offering a quick response.
Here are a few ways of dealing with constant interruptions:
Turn off notifications for emails, voicemail, apps, instant messages, text messages etc.
When interrupted by someone, quickly listen to what the request is to determine the urgency.
If a request will take time to process, request to talk later and actually follow through.
If you can quickly address the request, give your answer and get back to your priorities.
Let your colleagues know when you are working on a time-sensitive deadline to give you some space.
Share your schedule or calendar to keep others updated on when you are busy to help them identify a better time to talk when you are available.
If you are struggling with making a decision, come up with a few choices and present them to your boss to guide you on the best option.
A long-term strategy entails working with a mentor who can guide you in your job and you can benefit from their years of experience.
Similarly, network widely within your company with colleagues from other departments to get to know them, learn what they are doing and even collaborate on interdepartmental projects.
9. Preparing Agendas for Meetings
In the absence of an agenda, a meeting can easily veer off in many different directions and waste attendees time.
When planning a meeting, an agenda helps to prioritize the important items to discuss.
An agenda also acts as a compass in guiding discussions to ensure that the meeting time is utilized efficiently.
Aim to send the agenda and any background materials at least a few days in advance to meeting participants.
Bring enough copies of the agenda to distribute during the meeting.
Similarly encourage others to develop agendas for the meetings they convene.
When requested to attend a meeting, ask for an agenda. This can also help in weeding out unnecessary meetings which you don’t have to attend.
By reviewing the agenda you can determine the value of a meeting and whether your input or participation is required, thus helping in prioritizing your time.
Contents of a typical meeting agenda include:
The title of the agenda.
The purpose or objectives of the meeting.
Time for the meeting (starting and ending time).
Meeting venue or location.
List of participants could also be included as an option.
Items to discuss listed in order of importance.
You can also include the approximate allotted time for each meeting item.
An additional step is to include the name of the person who will be discussing or leading a specific item on the agenda.
If some participants will be joining remotely, the agenda can include dial-in/conference call information.
10. Giving Status Updates/Reporting Progress
Critical components for getting along well with your boss and other stakeholders include regular communication and providing status updates.
This is typically achieved through regularly scheduled check-in meetings with your manager and also through meetings with others.
The reporting of status updates can be achieved through various modes such as an email update, a telephone conversation, a text message, an instant message, weekly status update reports, a summary progress report, a detailed progress report, a morning huddle meeting, a presentation, a site visit etc.
Make an effort to regularly provide relevant stakeholders with progress updates on the tasks you are working on, tasks completed, upcoming priorities, challenges, solutions, feedback and address any questions raised to ensure that all parties are on the same page regarding expectations.
Frequently updating others especially your immediate supervisor helps to get your work and efforts noticed and sets you up well for a track record of consistent performance during performance evaluation period.
In addition, status updates give your manager peace of mind because they know how things are progressing at regular intervals.
11. How to Support Your Boss’s Priorities
How can you help your manager to succeed in their role?
Generally, some bosses are much easier to work with than others.
To a great extent, job success and personal satisfaction at work depends on the kind of relationship that you have with your direct supervisor.
Your boss can help you to grow in your job and advance within the company.
This in-depth article discusses how to be more productive in the workplace. Productivity at work entails being the best that you can be at what you do, being methodical, being systematic, being well prepared, being organized, prioritizing, working smarter and doing what needs to be done in a timely manner.
When you are working efficiently, you are able to do both more and better work in less time or within the time available to do a specific task.
The tips outlined in this article will help you to improve your productivity, increase your performance and achieve more results at work.
You can quickly skim all the 39 productivity tips on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
1. Decide to be productive/adopt a productivity mindset
The first step on your journey towards productivity is deciding that you want to be more productive than you currently are.
Take an inward look or self-assessment and ask yourself two critical questions: what is my current level of performance and what performance level do I aspire or want to be?
In addition, identify the factors that have been hindering your productivity and resolve to overcome them.
Productivity killers in the workplace include the following: underestimating the time needed to complete tasks, overloading your to-do list or trying to do too much in one day, procrastinating, distractions, disorganization and frequent interruptions.
Your track record of efficiency at work and level of industriousness can aid in positioning you for job promotions, career advancement or even in a quest to secure a new job.
2. Prepare a to-do list
At the end of each day, take a few minutes to prepare a list of specific items to work on the following day. This practice lays out a road map for what you want to do or accomplish on a daily basis.
Mentally note or estimate how long each task should take and by what time you want the task to be done.
Writing down everything that you need to do helps you to manage your time and safeguards against an activity being forgotten.
A to-do list can be either electronic or a paper list.
At the beginning of each day, go over your list to refresh your memory. In addition, look at your list at specific intervals throughout the day to ensure that nothing is skipped.
Check off, cross out or delete items when you complete them.
At the end of the day, rebalance your to-do list by removing completed items and adding new items.
If you are unable to prepare your to-do list at the end of the day, you can also prepare it first thing in the morning when you get to work.
For more information on different types of to-do lists, see this article:
One simple method for ensuring that you have quality time to work on your tasks is by scheduling work blocks on your calendar.
These are blocks of time where other people cannot schedule other activities for you such as meetings.
Booking working blocks on your calendar helps you to protect your time. It frees you up to focus on your assignments or projects and enables you to control your workday instead of reacting to what others schedule for you.
When you schedule work time on your calendar, estimate how long it will take to complete a task and also write down the specific task that you want to work on during that time period.
You can also block off time for reading and responding to emails.
5. Break up big tasks into smaller components
When you have a big project or assignment to complete, it can be overwhelming thinking about how to complete it. This could even cause inertia and lead to procrastination or delaying starting on the task.
An effective strategy is to break down a big task into smaller activities which can be handled one at a time.
By handling a series of small activities, it will eventually lead to completion of a big task for example breaking down a report into small sub sections and then completing one sub section at a time and ultimately you will finish the whole report.
6. Set earlier deadlines
Deadlines create urgency. Move your personal deadlines forward so that you aim to finish tasks ahead of normal deadlines.
In other words, create your own early deadlines. When you aim for and beat your early deadlines, it helps reduce stress and give you more peace of mind.
It similarly boosts your confidence. The more you meet deadlines the more your confidence increases about meeting other deadlines.
Completing tasks ahead of deadlines gives you time to review your work, correct errors and submit or provide good quality outputs and it frees up your time to move on to other projects.
Additionally, when you consistently meet deadlines, it establishes your credibility and reliability in the workplace and people know that they can count on you.
At a minimum, it is a good idea to track your work progress on a weekly basis.
Review what you have accomplished during the week, make any needed corrections or adjustments to your methods, tactics or strategies, and move forward to embrace the following week with renewed focus and energy.
For tools and apps on how to measure performance, read this article:
You can think of a routine as similar to preparing a recipe. The first time you prepare a recipe it can be a hit or miss.
Your actual results might or might not be similar to the intended outcome, however, the more you practice working on the recipe, the better you become at it.
Over time you make improvements until you reach a point where you can even add your own twists and creativity to take the recipe to a whole new level. In other words, you transform it into a personalized recipe rather than a mass market recipe.
Likewise, the process of making and following a daily routine begins by identifying what you want to do in a particular day and sequencing a set of steps to get you through the day.
Then you keep repeating the same pattern each day whilst making improvements, corrections and adjustments along the way or adapting depending on circumstances.
A typical daily routine entails the time you wake up, prepare for the day, leave for work, arrive at work and start doing your work, take breaks and lunch, continue working, finish working, preparing for the following day, heading back home, preparing for the night, sleeping and then repeating the process again the next day.
Having a daily routine helps in the following ways:
It acts as a compass to guide you throughout the day.
It helps you to quickly get ready for the day.
It charts out a familiar path which reduces uncertainty.
It makes it easier to go through the day via a pattern of executing repeatable steps.
It helps you to get back on track when you fall off.
It offers opportunities to make small improvements everyday which can add up over time.
It helps you to identify common failure paths and avoid problems before they occur.
It makes it easier to quickly settle down into the day.
It helps to build up momentum and productivity as you accomplish one task after another.
9. Take short breaks
One effective way of boosting your productivity at work is by taking small breaks.
At a minimum aim to take at least two small breaks during the day excluding lunch break i.e. one short break in the morning and another one in the afternoon.
Short breaks help to recharge you, reenergize you, increase your concentration, relax you, break monotony, reduce boredom, boost motivation and productivity and help to reduce errors from fatigue or burnout.
Things to do during breaks include taking a walk, walking up and down a flight of stairs, taking coffee or tea, chatting with a colleague, looking outside, listening to music, stretching, catching up on news, thinking, calling a friend, reading personal email and taking bathroom breaks.
10. Avoid distractions and time wasters
Distractions abound in the workplace and they eat up valuable time that could be spent working on your tasks.
It takes time to refocus on your work after an interruption.
Typical distractions in the office include social media, browsing the internet, email alerts, chatting with colleagues, gossiping, personal phone calls, text alerts, instant messages and unnecessary meetings.
The first step in combating distractions is by knowing the distractions that you often succumb to. Once you know these hindrances, the next step is to methodically build your tolerance so that you can resist, ignore, tune out or eliminate the distraction.
Switch your cell phone off or put it to silent, allow calls to go to voicemail and check your messages during scheduled breaks.
Ways to overcome distractions include don’t browse the internet, stay away from social media during your productive periods, tune out background noises with earphones, avoid gossiping and avoid gossipers and avoid unnecessary meetings whenever possible.
Let others know when you are working on a tight schedule or urgent tasks.
Challenge yourself to strictly follow your to-do list, monitor and remind yourself to stay focused on the task.
When interrupted take a note of where you were so you can quickly resume from that point after the interruption.
If possible you can move to a quieter private area to work, manage how often you check email and be more organized to avoid spending time looking for things in your desk.
11. Do one thing at a time/avoid multitasking
To the greatest extent possible work on one task at a time. By doing this you give greater attention to the activity, are more engaged and the quality of your final output is likely to be higher.
Once you have finished one task, move systematically to another. You can also arrange your tasks in such a way that there is variety or mix and match the tasks you are working on to create excitement and break monotony.
When trying to do many things at the same time, it taxes your focus, energy and concentration across the different tasks. It could lead to more fatigue, lack of focus and inconsistent results or quality. It can similarly take longer to finish work.
12. Set goals, milestones and timelines
A goal entails identifying a target and working towards it or working towards a desired end result.
Having a clear goal increases your motivation, drive and determination. It keeps you focused and helps you to work methodically to achieve your objectives.
Goals can be both short-term and long-term.
The first step in goal setting is to determine what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and by when.
The next step is figuring out how to achieve your goal. Depending on the ease or complexity of the goal, the figuring out process could either be easy or hard.
The ‘how’ is the game plan or road map to get to your destination.
Write down your goals and look at them regularly to remind yourself and set a deadline of when you should accomplish your goal.
Break down the goals into a series of small tasks which when done over time will progressively lead towards accomplishing the overall goal.
How will you know you are achieving your goal? It is additionally important to identify specific milestones or guideposts along the way which will let you know the progress you are making.
At specific intervals assess what you have done so far versus what you need to do. Also assess what you have done at a specific point in time versus what you had planned or expected to do by that time period.
Create a routine for working towards your goals such as:
Looking at your goals on a regular basis.
Visualizing the end result.
Doing one small task every day or on a regular basis that supports your goal or gets you a step closer to your goals.
Adjusting your tactics based on progress and feedback.
Acknowledging there will be challenges, setbacks and unforeseen circumstances along the way and choose to stay firm in your resolve to reach your goal.
Bouncing back when you encounter difficulties.
Making it a game where you compete with yourself and endeavor to break your past records of accomplishment.
Breaking down goals into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual goals.
From time to time, think about your long term goals; don’t get so caught in day to day activities that you forget to strategize e.g. working towards a promotion, career growth opportunities and professional development i.e. the skills you want to learn or improve on.
For more information on goal setting, see the three articles below:
Your overall outlook can influence your perception of what happens around you and how you relate with others.
Adopting a positive attitude can help strengthen your interpersonal relationships and help you get along and work better with others. When you are an easy person to work with, you will be likely to gain cooperation of others.
This article guides you through in-depth tips on how to prepare for job interviews and also outlines the steps to take to improve your interview performance and success.
After you have written and submitted your resume and cover letter, the next step in the process is an interview or a series of interviews before securing a job.
Preparing thoroughly for an interview helps you to overcome nervousness, increase your confidence and boost your ability to sell yourself effectively during an interview.
This article walks you through what to do before, during and after a job interview.
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
You can quickly skim all the 30 tips on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you and I wish you the warmest best wishes and success in your interviews.
This section covers what to do before an interview. This section is broken down into the following nine parts: pre-interview preparation and planning; researching a company before a job interview; dressing for interviews; preparing your professional references; resume preparation; conducting a dry run; interview role playing; pre-interview checklist/interview preparation checklist and steps in the job interview process.
1. Pre-Interview Preparation And Planning
The first step in preparing for an interview is to begin by confirming your availability to attend the interview.
When you receive a telephone call, voicemail or email with a request to attend an interview ensure that you promptly respond and confirm that you can attend on the date and time requested or identify an alternative mutually convenient day or time.
It is also helpful to request for directions regarding the best way to get to the company.
Some companies usually have written down guides and directions that show the nearest bus stops, train stations and best and convenient routes for reaching their offices. These directions are normally given to interviewees when they are invited for an interview.
The next step in pre-interview preparation is to review the job description again to refresh your memory.
Think through how your skills, experience and qualifications match the job requirements.
Think about specific examples, accomplishments and success stories that you can talk about for each of the major tasks outlined on the job listing.
Take note of the interview essentials as well such as the interview date, time, position you are interviewing for, the name of the company, who you will be meeting, how long the interview is scheduled for and write down the exact location of the interview.
Prepare items that you will carry with you such as a notepad, pen, bag or briefcase, bottled water, some money etc.
Print a few copies of your resume to carry with you to an interview.
You can also assemble a portfolio of special projects which you can show the interviewer as examples of your past accomplishments.
In addition, prepare a list of good questions to ask during the interview.
If you have been given any forms or pre-interview questionnaires to complete ahead of the interview, ensure that you have completed them.
Look at the weather forecast to know what kind of weather to expect on the day of the interview. In case it will be raining or snowing, plan to leave earlier than normal and carry an umbrella.
Prepare your interview clothes the night before the interview and polish your shoes too. Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep, groom yourself well, eat breakfast and head out early for the interview.
Aim to arrive early at least 10 minutes before the interview.
2. Researching A Company Before A Job Interview
Before going for an interview always do your research on the company. Arm yourself with as much knowledge about the company as possible. The more details and information you know, the better prepared you will be.
Begin your research by reviewing the company website. The first place to focus on is the ‘about us’ page.
This is where companies typically outline their mission, vision, history and what they do.
Find out the company’s products or services, leadership team, CEO’s name, number of employees, company values, how long the company has been in business, office locations and location of headquarters.
If available, read the company’s latest annual and financial reports.
Take a look as well on the company’s social media profiles and professional online profiles.
Make use of search engines to look for information about the company including news, product launches, mergers, acquisitions, layoffs etc.
Other areas to research on are online reviews about the company, press releases, company videos, key customers, competitors and investors.
Read as many company blogs as you possibly can and watch company videos to get first-hand insights about the organization.
Additionally, learn some information about the interviewers, immediate supervisor and your predecessor.
What is the location of the interview? How long will it take you to get there? What are the best routes for arriving at your destination?
Whenever possible, it is a good idea to conduct a dry or trial run to the interview location.
This is especially important if the interview will be held at a location that is unfamiliar or somewhere you have never visited before.
You wouldn’t want to get lost finding the location on the day of the interview.
A dry run entails taking a trip or visit to the interview venue. Important things to note and observe include: how long it took to arrive at the destination, the exact location of the office, some landmarks to take note of such as a building, a road etc. and where to park your car.
Write down the name or names of who you will be meeting with. Additionally, write down the telephone number of someone in the company such as the Human Resources Manager, Hiring Manager or front desk so that you can call and alert someone in case you are running late on the day of your interview due to an emergency on your route.
In cases where it is not possible to do an actual dry run, the next best option is to do a virtual dry run.
This consists of viewing an online map of the route that you would take to get to the interview location.
Take special interest in observing the destination. Look at exactly where the company is located and its surroundings.
Take note of landmarks and special areas of interest to guide you as you navigate and print a back-up copy of the directions.
7. Interview Role Playing
If you are feeling nervous about an interview, you can do interview role playing to help you prepare for the interview and boost your confidence.
Ask someone who you trust and are comfortable with to act as an interviewer then they should ask you interview questions.
During the interview simulation, provide good and well thought out answers just the same way you would do if it were a real interview.
A good friend should be able to listen attentively to your answers and provide feedback, guidance and encouragement based on your answers, your delivery and nonverbal communication.
You can also work together on improving your nonverbal communication such as practicing a strong handshake, maintaining eye contact, proper posture, portraying confidence, limited use of hand gestures, voice projection and giving a genuine smile.
An interview preparation checklist will help to ensure that you have taken care of important items before you head out for an interview.
The following is a simple pre-interview checklist:
Have I confirmed my availability for the interview?
Do I know what type of interview I will be attending?
Have I written down the interview location?
Have I figured out how I will go to the interview?
How long will it take to get to the interview location?
Have I prepared my interview attire?
Have I reviewed the job description again?
Have I reviewed my resume one more time?
Have I printed extra copies of my resume?
Have I prepared a notepad, pen and briefcase or bag to carry?
Have I written down a few questions to ask?
Have I thought about how to answer interview questions?
Have I done research about the company and interviewers?
Have I given my references a heads up that I am interviewing for a job?
Is my professional online profile updated and does it match the contents of my resume?
9. Steps In The Job Interview Process
Job interviews normally proceed in steps, rounds or stages, whereby when you perform well in one step you are then invited to proceed to the next round until a hiring decision is made.
Typical interview rounds include the following:
9.1 First round
This is usually a telephone interview that aims to narrow down the pool of candidates. In this interview you will be assessed against the major criteria, requirements and qualifications for doing the job.
9.2 Second round
This is typically an in-person interview where you could be interviewed by the immediate supervisor for the position and one or more company representatives,
9.3 Third round
This is where you would be interviewed by many people including co-workers, representatives from other departments, other managers or directors and even senior executives. You could also be required to do a work related exercise or test at this stage.
9.4 Fourth round
The information gathered from the first to third round is usually enough to make most hiring decisions. However, for high level or senior positions, there could be a need for an additional in depth interview that could also entail making presentations.
B. DURING THE INTERVIEW
This section covers resources for during an interview. This section is broken down into the following ten parts: ways to make a good first impression during an interview; making an elevator pitch; types of interviewers; common interview questions; behavioral interview questions; types of interviews; questions to ask at a job interview; interview mistakes/interview don’ts; interview tips for success/interview do’s and items that are evaluated during job interviews.
10. Ways To Make A Good First Impression During An Interview
Here are a few easy ways to make a good first impression during an interview:
Arrive on time.
Be polite to everyone.
Greet the interviewer.
Remember the interviewer’s name.
Offer a firm handshake.
Maintain good upright posture.
Show confidence and enthusiasm.
Maintain good eye contact.
Give thoughtful answers.
Provide relevant examples.
Be knowledgeable about the job and the company.
Write down a few good notes and refer to them.
Thank the interviewers at the end of the interview.
11. Making An Elevator Pitch
Practice making a brief introduction in less than two minutes to summarize who you are, what you have done and what benefits you can bring to the company.
Elements of a good elevator pitch include your name, the position or positions that you have held in the past, your key skills and qualifications, your major accomplishments at work and what makes you stand out from the competition.
A good pitch should sound enthusiastic, natural and delivered at a good pace. It should not sound rehearsed.
To nail down your pitch, write down the important points that you wish to convey then practice speaking your key points.
Rehearsing your elevator pitch helps you to tweak and improve it and increases your confidence when you do the actual delivery.
12. Types Of Interviewers
During the course of interviewing for a job you will likely meet your fair share of different types of interviewers.
Interviewers have different styles, approaches and personalities. It is important to be flexible and quickly adapt to different interviewers and provide good answers to improve your chances of success.
Regardless of which type of interviewer you meet, do not let your guard down. Be focused, be respectful and remember that your primary goal is to sell yourself effectively to get the job.
On the other hand, it is also quite possible that the different types of interviewer personalities you meet in an organization could be a test to throw you off your game; to see how you respond and adapt under different or challenging circumstances.
Here are a few types of interviewers:
12.1 The easy going and friendly interviewer
This type of interviewer makes you feel comfortable. They would be calm, relaxed and can even engage you in informal chit chat before and even during the interview.
The interviewer could offer encouragement and positive feedback during the interview.
The interview could feel informal and more like a conversation. The key thing to remember is to speak professionally at all times and being careful not to ramble on revealing more information than necessary.
12.2 The interrogator
This type of interviewer would usually have a list of questions that they would ask one after the other.
They would stick to a predetermined script with a sense of urgency in ensuring that they ask the same set of questions to all interviewees.
Get ready to give well thought-out answers in rapid succession. Sometimes you might need to take a moment to think about your answer and this is ok.
Stay calm even when being peppered with questions and respond gracefully, respectfully and as best as you can.
12.3 The unscripted interviewer
This type of interviewer is unscripted and their interview style is off-the-cuff.
They would run the interview by beginning with a question or a set of questions and probe into different directions based on your answers and the specific requirements of the job description.
In this situation one question or answer could lead to more related questions and answers. Be ready for in-depth probing and be comfortable in providing detailed and specific responses.
12.4 The unprepared interviewer
This type of interviewer would perhaps be reading your resume for the first time during the actual interview or maybe they just read your resume a few minutes before the interview began.
Get ready to pleasantly explain and answer many questions based on your resume.
Even though the interviewer might appear unprepared, do not let this distract you or let your guard down.
Be friendly, positive and respectful at all times and provide good answers.
13. Common Interview Questions
These are questions that are likely to be asked during many interviews. The questions help the interviewer to understand and learn more about you.
Take time to think about your answers to the questions before the interview.
You don’t need to repeat your answers word for word. What is of utmost importance is grasping your key points and being able to state, discuss or elaborate on them in various ways.
Behavioral questions seek to probe deeper into how you perform your responsibilities under specific or different work conditions.
Your answers to behavioral questions will give the interviewer insight into your logical thinking process.
Your answers would typically walk the interviewer through critical processes such as how you make decisions, how you choose between alternatives, how you solve problems and how you accomplish results.
Give examples and stories highlighting situations or challenges that you have faced at work. Explain what you did to resolve a specific challenge and then outline the results or what happened next.
Provide real life situations such as how you handled conflict between yourself and a coworker, how you resolved a disagreement or misunderstanding with your boss or how you dealt with an angry customer and resolved the issue.
Other examples could include how you worked with team members on a difficult assignment and how you handled multiple competing priorities, uncertainties and last minute changes to plans and processes.
Examples of behavioral interview questions include:
Describe a situation where you faced a difficult challenge at work?
Tell me about a time when you had to work under a tight deadline.
Describe a major failure that you have faced at work and what you learnt from it.
Tell me about your biggest accomplishment at work.
Give an example of a time when you had to handle change at work.
Describe a time when you faced conflict at work and explain how you resolved it.
Describe a time when you dealt with a difficult customer.
Tell me about a time when disagreed with co-worker.
Describe a time when you proposed an idea to a team. How did you go about it?
Tell me about a major goal that you set for yourself at work.
If you are thinking of resigning, take a moment to think about the major reason or reasons why you want to quit.
Assess how strongly you feel about leaving your job. Perhaps the thought of resigning has been recurring in waves or cycles, over and over again on your mind.
It might have been a small thought initially which subsequently progresses to a strong feeling which compels you to take action.
Perhaps you have lost passion about your job. The spark, fire and enthusiasm that you once had for your job has gone or is now just a dim or flickering light.
Perhaps the work conditions have deteriorated or your prospects for career advancement have stagnated.
Perhaps your motivation has dwindled over time and you feel that you need a fresh start.
Perhaps you are already searching online for resources on how to resign or how to write a resignation letter.
When you find yourself constantly asking – Should I quit my job? – then it quite possibly could be time to do so.
Keep reading this article for deeper insights on the proper way to resign without burning bridges to ensure long term career success.
2. 3 Signs It Could Be Time To Quit Your Job
Some warning signs that indicate it could be time to quit include when you are always stressed, uninspired or demotivated.
2.1 When you are constantly stressed
When the demands of your job significantly outpace your capacity to meet them, this can lead to stress.
Stress at work can be caused by many factors such as continuous never ending urgent deadlines, excessive fear, worry or anxiety, feelings of powerlessness, loss of control and a toxic or hostile work environment.
The stress can lead to body aches, pain and tension, loss of appetite, constant fatigue or exhaustion, loss of concentration, inability to sleep properly, irritability etc.
A little stress at work can be manageable and could possibly push you to be more productive.
However, if the stress is too much to the point of affecting your health and well-being, it could be time to make hard decisions about whether to stay or move on.
2.2 When you are uninspired
At the workplace, people are usually inspired by many things such as the company’s vision, mission, your boss, the team, your work, your goals, training opportunities, customers, doing something that benefits many, making a contribution and doing good and meaningful work.
If one or a combination of these things change, it could affect your levels of enthusiasm – for example, if your boss who you worked with well and had great rapport together is transferred or moves on to another company.
The change in leadership could adversely affect some people especially if a new boss comes who doesn’t connect well with the team.
2.3 When you are demotivated
If waking up to go to work has become a challenge, if your self-drive is gone, if you no longer feel enthusiastic about a job that you used to like then it could be time to assess your situation.
Find out what has led to the loss of enthusiasm? Is it a one-time event that has happened or is it a series of things that have slowly eroded your motivation over time?
Is there anything that can be done to recharge your passion?
What has caused you to be demotivated?
Perhaps it could be lack of promotion, being passed over again and again for promotion, lack of recognition, unethical or questionable practices in the office, a toxic or hostile work environment, your skills and abilities are not being stretched or fully utilized etc.
3. What To Consider Before You Resign/Resignation Checklist
Before you decide to resign, it is a good idea to go through a checklist of important things to do or address to ensure that you make a graceful exit.
Below are 14 items to include on a resignation checklist to safeguard that you have covered all angles before leaving your current position.
Why do I want to resign?
How much notice do I want to give?
Have I determined my last day at work?
Do I have a job offer ready?
Have I written a resignation letter?
What are the major pending tasks that I am working on?
Have I written handover notes?
If I don’t have another job lined up what plans do I have for accommodating living costs?
Have I removed personal documents from the computer?
Have I cleaned out and packed personal items? Because in some companies you might be asked to leave immediately after you tender your resignation.
Have I scheduled a resignation meeting with my supervisor?
Have I prepared for an exit interview?
Have I thought about how to say goodbye to colleagues?
Have I asked for references?
4. 30 Reasons Why People Resign/Quit Their Jobs
People quit jobs for various reasons. What would make one person quit is different from what would make another resign.
Below are 30 reasons why people resign from their jobs.
Found a better job.
Too much work.
Bad boss or manager or lack of chemistry with a new boss.
When you are always unhappy at work.
Low salary or pay cut.
Lack of or poor benefits.
Conflicts with co-workers.
Hostile or toxic work environment.
Lack of appreciation or recognition.
Lack of career advancement opportunities.
Long commute to work.
Hectic or inconvenient work schedule or hours.
Lack of challenge at work, boredom or the work no longer stimulates or excites you.
Poor work life balance.
Going back to school.
Company facing financial difficulties.
Family or personal situations such as starting a family, caring for a loved one or illness, medical or health reasons.
Being passed over for promotions.
Lack of training opportunities or professional development.
Bad company culture.
Poor company leadership or management.
Pursuing a dream.
The job is not a good fit.
Unsafe working conditions.
Bait and switch – the job you are doing is different from the one you had applied for.
Company facing external pressures such as government regulations, severe competitive threats, technological changes that could make the company obsolete etc.
You are about to get fired.
Taking a career break.
5. How Much Notice Should You Give?
The official resignation notice period differs from one company to another.
The exact amount of notice to give would be stipulated on your employment contract or the company’s employee policy, manual or handbook.
The typical notice period is usually two weeks.
If you are in a more senior position, a one month period would be appreciated or even required to help in the smooth handover of your tasks.
Depending on the complexity of your job and your own personal goodwill towards the company, your boss and colleagues, you can choose to give more notice such as one month notice instead of two weeks.
Always remember to clearly state your last day of work.
6. 10 Tips For A Successful Resignation Meeting
Your boss should be the first one to know about your decision to resign.
It is inappropriate for your boss to learn or hear from others that you are planning to leave the company.
Once you have made a decision to resign, the next step is to write a resignation letter then schedule a face-to-face meeting with your supervisor to break the news to them.
The resignation meeting can be nerve wrecking both for yourself and your boss.
It would be especially tough if you were a highly valued employee because your boss would feel sad to loose you.
Below are ten tips for a successful resignation meeting.
6.1 Schedule a resignation meeting immediately
As soon as you decide to resign, immediately schedule a meeting time and date with your boss.
Aim to have the meeting behind closed doors – in private.
Ideally the meeting should coincide with the beginning of your notice period.
In other words if you intend to give a two week notice, then your resignation meeting should be shortly before the two weeks countdown begin or on the actual day the countdown begins.
Do not schedule a resignation meeting on your last day at work.
6.2 Have a resignation letter ready
When you meet with your boss to break the news that you are leaving, have a resignation letter ready.
It is best to first have a formal discussion where you break the news that you are resigning then at the end of the meeting you can handover your resignation letter.
Alternatively you can inform your manager that you will email your resignation letter immediately after the meeting.
Emailing helps especially in circumstances where you need to simultaneously alert Human Resources and any other key staff about your departure.
In this case you would “cc” them on your resignation email with your resignation letter as an attachment.
6.3 Express gratitude to your supervisor and the company
Take a moment to sincerely thank your boss for the opportunity to have worked in the company.
Mention a few key things that you learned and enjoyed such as opportunities for training, working with great colleagues, the good leadership skills of your boss, the mission of the company, the company culture, clients etc.
6.4 Reason for leaving?
During the resignation meeting, the topmost question that will be on your boss’s mind is – Why are you leaving?
Your boss might ask you this question or they could wait for you to volunteer any information.
In this case it is up to you to decide how much information you want to share with your manager.
If you don’t want to share any information or details, you could give a high-level and respectful summary such as “I found a great opportunity which I believe will help me to advance in my career.”
If you decide to share details you can mention or reveal what your new job will be and the name of the company.
Alternatively, if you are leaving to pursue other interests or opportunities such as going back to school, starting a business, traveling, starting a family, relocating, career change etc you could also share or disclose what you are comfortable revealing.
6.5 Give your notice period and specify your last day
Inform your boss about how much notice you want to give and also ensure that you specify your last day of work.
This helps to ensure that both of you are on the same page and prevents any misunderstandings.
6.6 Outline how you can help with the transition
Mention that you are willing to assist in ensuring a smooth transition.
Point out ways you can help such as updating your job description with all your roles, preparing handover notes, training colleagues etc.
Also ask your manager for their preference in the handover process and when to begin it.
6.7 Identify pending tasks on your plate
Discuss with your boss the status of major tasks and projects that you are working on.
Point out any pending tasks that will need to be addressed after your departure.
Offer to prepare a list of major or pending tasks that you were working on as well as sharing tips, tricks or tidbits for how to efficiently perform your job.
Mention where everything is located such as files, documents, passwords etc.
6.8 Listen to your boss’s tips, views or feedback
Your boss might have some words of wisdom to share with you or some tips.
Your boss might also want to share some feedback such as expressing appreciation for your work, mentioning aspects that they liked about your work performance and wishing you success as you move on.
Listen and thank your boss for wishing you well.
On the other hand sometimes a boss might be shocked or angry that you are leaving.
If your boss is angry, yells or shouts, stay calm and be quiet. Don’t yell back, this can escalate the situation.
Your boss could be reacting out of fear or they might feel betrayed that you are leaving.
Calmly and respectfully restate that you are willing to help with the transition, reaffirm your last day at work and thank your boss for the opportunity to have worked in the company.
6.9 Request your boss to be your reference
You might want to ask your boss to be your reference.
This is especially true if you got along well and had a cordial, friendly, respectful or pleasant working relationship.
A strong and positive reference from your immediate supervisor will serve you well in your career.
In most organizations, the Human Resources Department would typically provide bare bones reference such as confirming your job title, salary and employment starting and ending dates.
Whereas this information is important for administrative fact checking or background checks, usually a much stronger reference than this would be needed to comfortably secure a job.
On the other hand, your boss can speak directly about your work abilities, skills, attitude and achievements.
The best time to ask your current boss to be your reference is after you have already received a contingent job offer.
It would not be advisable, except in extreme circumstances, to ask your current supervisor to be a reference while you are still working on your job.
This scenario can be challenging in a situation where you don’t get a new job offer and then you continue working on your present job.
Your supervisor might get doubts about your commitment.
6.10 Ask your manager how they wish to break the news to others
At the end of the meeting, ask your supervisor how they would prefer to share the news to others.
Some bosses might prefer to communicate the news directly to team members in a meeting or through an email.
In some companies there could be a policy where only the Human Resources team can communicate staff departures to all staff.
In other companies it would be ok for the departing employee to communicate the news to either team members or all staff.
Some companies even have a culture of doing a farewell party for departing employees so team members would need to know your last day at work so that they can plan the sendoff party accordingly.
7. How To Write A Resignation Letter
The elements of a good resignation letter include the following:
7.1 Effective date of resignation
Clearly identify the last day of your employment at the company.
You can write a statement such as “My last day of work will be month/date/year.”
It is very important to include a date on your resignation letter. The date will be at the top or at the beginning of the letter.
This date signifies when the countdown begins towards your effective resignation date or your last day of employment.
Your notice period is the duration between the date on your resignation letter and your last day at the company.
7.3 Supervisor’s name
Write the name of your boss and their job title.
7.4 Company name and address
Just below your supervisor’s name, write the company’s name and address including physical location, zip code, city and state.
7.5 Reference or subject
It is optional to include a reference line. The subject helps to quickly convey at a glance what the letter is about.
The reference can simply say “RE: Resignation” then you format it in bold and underline it.
Depending on your relationship with your boss or your preference, you can address your supervisor by their first or last name.
For example Dear Jason or Dear Mr. Brown or Dear Ms. Taylor.
7.7 Identify the position you are resigning from
On the opening paragraph of your cover letter, clearly state the job that you are resigning from.
For example you can state it as follows: “Please receive this letter as notice of resignation from my position as an Administrative Coordinator at Company XYZ.”
7.8 Opening or first paragraph
This is where you identify the purpose of the letter.
Items to include in the first paragraph are a clear statement that outlines you are resigning, the notice period that you are giving, the position and company your resigning from and your last day of employment.
7.9 Second paragraph
Here you convey gratitude for the opportunity to have worked at the company.
Mention your willingness to offer support in the transition process or handover activities.
You can also highlight a plan or specific actions that you will do to help in the handover.
If you choose to, you can provide brief information about your next move or your new job.
Discussing your future plans is not required. Volunteering this information is optional.
7.10 Third or closing paragraph
Thank the reader and end the letter. Thank your boss and wish the company well.
7.11 Signing off
Write the word sincerely and include your signature. Your will then add your name below your signature.
7.12 Cc line
Sometimes you might want or could even be required to officially inform other parties about your resignation.
In this case add a “cc” line below your name at the bottom of the resignation letter.
Write “cc” and then list the names and titles of other people who should receive a copy of your resignation letter such as the Human Resources Manager or Director.
8. Sample Resignation Letters
There are generally two types of resignation letters in terms of content.
The first type of letter gets straight to the point where you simply announce your resignation and do not provide any details about your next move.
The second type of resignation letter divulges information about your new opportunity such your job, the company or any other opportunity that you are pursuing.
It is your personal choice regarding how much detail you want to include in your resignation letter.
Always review your letter after you have written it ensure that it is free from typos and spelling mistakes.
8.1 Sample 1 – Straight to the point resignation letter
This sample resignation letter highlights the key facts in a simple and respectful way.
Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from my position as a <insert your position/job title> at <insert company name>. My last day of work will be <clearly specify your last day in the office – month, day and year>.
I appreciate the opportunity to have worked at <insert company name> and I look forward to help in ensuring a smooth transition.
<Your first and last name>
8.2 Sample resignation letter 2 – Where you provide details on your next move
The additional details can be as simple as shown on the second paragraph on the sample resignation letter below.
Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from my position as a <insert your position/job title> at <insert company name>. My last day of employment will be <specify your last day in the office – month, day and year>.
I have received an offer to work as a <insert your new position/job title> at <insert company name>.
It has been a great pleasure working with you and my colleagues.
I would like to help with the transition of my duties so that work continues smoothly after my departure.
Thank you again for the opportunity to work for <insert company name>. I wish you and the company the very..
This article discusses 25 tips on how to be proactive at work. Being proactive is a desirable trait.
Bosses, colleagues and customers all like and appreciate employees who are proactive.
Your level of self-confidence, happiness and satisfaction at work increases when you are on top of things and are handling your tasks in a timely, deliberate and efficient manner.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines proactive as “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.” It is further defined as “controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems.”
Being proactive means anticipating what might happen, planning ahead, preparing in advance and acting ahead instead of simply reacting to circumstances.
Being proactive builds your personal brand and reputation at work. People can count on you for your reliability.
A proactive employee thinks ahead, acts ahead and gets ahead.
You can quickly skim all the 25 tips on being proactive on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
When you receive an email you can quickly determine if the email is just for your attention and no action is needed, or if it is for your attention and action is needed either immediately or later.
If it is something you can quickly answer, provide your response straightaway.
If it’s something you will work on or research on before answering later then send a brief email confirming you will send feedback by a certain time or date.
Acknowledging receipt enables the recipient to know that you received their email and when they can expect feedback.
People appreciate prompt responses to their emails. You could win new business by being first or fast in responding to a customer.
Do not ignore replying. If you happen to forget an email, apologize and reply as soon as you can.
Always include an email subject and begin by thanking the sender for reaching out.
For external emails make it a practice when replying to include your email signature with your name, title, company and contact details.
Also respond to everything that has been asked on the email rather than answering just a few parts.
At all times verify if you have included an attachment. Go an extra step and open up the attachment to double check it is the right one.
Additionally, take a moment to double check whose email address is on the ‘reply to’ line. Sometimes the autocomplete can populate the wrong email address.
Block specific times during the day for when you respond to emails.
Routinely check your spam or junk folder to verify that legitimate emails did not end up there. Also use great judgement before selecting the “reply all” button.
It is a good idea to know your company’s policy for response time for emails. Strive for relevant and brief responses to emails and proofread your emails.
At a minimum respond to emails within one day, for urgent emails respond sooner.
2. Responding to phone calls quickly
Critical aspects in responding well to a telephone call include:
how soon you answer when the phone rings,
your tone of voice,
how you introduce yourself,
referring to the caller by name sparingly,
having empathy and
repeating back critical information such as names, numbers and addresses.
A challenging part for callers is when they are transferred from one person to another.
Manage this process well by letting the caller know you are transferring them to a specific person and explain why you are transferring them for example that person is a specialist who can assist them further.
Master the operations of the phone system and use its various functions seamlessly.
It is also helpful to know the roles of different people in the company and keep an internal phone book nearby.
When responding to calls from colleagues, bosses or customers, speak in a clear and upbeat voice, and be ready to offer help and resources e.g. links to websites.
Make a mental note of the key points during a phone call or you can write them down.
If you have kept someone on hold while you verify something or do quick research, reassure them from time to time that you are still on the line and working on their request.
If you tell someone that you will call them back, make it a point to do so.
3. Addressing requests and complaints swiftly
Requests and complaints can come from multiple internal and external sources such as colleagues, supervisors, vendors, suppliers, customers, shareholders etc.
Handling requests and complaints in a timely manner is vital for good customer satisfaction.
Begin by understanding what the request is, what is needed and by when. Then assess how to handle the request and what resources, if any, are needed to comply with the request.
The keys to addressing requests properly include:
being available to handle the request,
doing your homework,
following instructions well,
knowing when to refer up,
providing clear well thought out answers and
providing additional tips that might be helpful.
On the other hand, complaints are an ever present aspect of work.
One of the most important things to note is the use of tone when responding to complaints, whether it is a response via email, phone or snail mail.
Responsiveness to customer complaints breeds loyalty.
Some tips to keep in mind when handling complaints include: handle everyone with respect at all times, being firm but friendly when rules cannot be broken, not over promising, being sincere and polite, being patient and controlled, listening well, being perceptive or understanding, having a positive outlook and don’t take it personally.
Other tips when responding to complaints include: owning up and apologizing when something goes wrong, providing clear instructions, checking in, offering high quality customer care and negotiating and persuading.
4. Having a to-do list
Get into the habit of writing a to-do list for the things you want to focus on each day. This is an efficient system of planning your workday.
The ideal time to write a to-do list is at the end of a workday when you review what you have done versus what you had planned to do.
Also assess additional new tasks that that have been added to your plate. Then develop a draft to-do list for the following day.
You will leave work knowing what your priorities are for the next day and when you arrive in the morning you simply review your tasks and begin working.
The best part of having a to-do list is checking off an item after you have completed it.
A to-do list gives you a big picture overview of what you are supposed to be working on.
It helps to keep you on track and reduces the risk of forgetting to do something that you were supposed to work on.
5. Prioritizing tasks
Prioritizing begins by writing a list of all the tasks which you need to do then ranking them according to importance.
Mark items as urgent vs. non urgent and work immediately on the most pressing items first.
Estimate how much time it would take to complete tasks to have an idea of how your day would look like and stay focused as you complete the tasks at hand.
Give yourself a cushion to cope with unexpected situations, surprises and last minute requests.
Communicate key priorities with your team or boss so that they know when to support you or steer clear to give you room to work.
Use deadlines to plan and manage priorities.
Break down big projects into small tasks and assign mini deadlines for each task.
6. Developing your efficiency methods
To be more proactive at work, develop simple methods that can aid in doing your work faster and more efficiently.
Simple efficiency methods to adopt include: documenting your major duties and operations for others to have during your absences; knowing your company’s policies and procedures; knowing what other units are working on to avoid duplication and waste of time and resources and collaborating with others.
Other methods consist of: developing flowcharts for critical procedures and operations; developing work plans and Gantt charts to track projects; preparing standard operating procedures; writing manuals, guidelines and handbooks and creating FAQs for commonly asked questions.
Developing how to videos and explainer videos; preparing step by step screenshot explanations to make it visually faster for others to understand processes and developing indexes, executive summaries and table of contents for documents to make them scannable or skimmable.
Properly filed and well labelled documents; factoring review periods or quality control for work done; scheduling regular status update meetings and having standardized scripts for repeatable processes such as sales calls.
Outsourcing labor intensive activities e.g. events management and using customer friendly systems such as online chats on websites to help customers and provide them with a transcript of the online chat session.
Additional efficiency methods include regularly reviewing existing processes to make changes as appropriate and identifying what is working and what is not working; designing a map of the office layout showing where different staff are located; providing good training for new staff and interns and maintaining good posture and comfortable seating.
Maintaining an organized work space, desk, email, computer folders and hard copy files to enable easy document retrieval. Being organized is good for your well-being.
Having a tidy work area and knowing where everything is, is liberating and helps boost your productivity and responsiveness.
Make an effort to regularly declutter your desk.
7. Managing your calendar
How do you keep your calendar under control?
If you don’t keep an eye on it, your calendar could get out of control leaving you running around in circles.
Utilize your calendar as a deliberate scheduling tool.
It is a good idea to have all your meetings and appointments in one calendar and look at it every day.
If you have the luxury, you can start off by booking work blocks when you intend to fully focus on projects.
Schedule times during the day for when you will look at emails and provide feedback be it simple responses or in depth answers.
Book recurring meetings and leave open slots on your calendar where others can book meetings with you.
Take into account time zone factors which can affect meeting times especially when international meetings are planned, the time differences can be significant.
Schedule time off and vacations on your calendar because burnout and fatigue affect your responsiveness. Being well rested and alert helps improve your response time.
8. Honoring your commitments
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines commitment as “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future.”
Keeping promises you have made strengthens your credibility.
One reason why commitments are missed is simply because they were forgotten.
Make it a point to note down the major commitments that you have promised others. What was the commitment specifically? When is it due?
Assess your capacity to enter into new commitments.
Estimate how long it would take, identify the steps needed to fulfill the commitment and remind yourself what the commitments are.
Work your commitments into your daily routine.
Plug your commitments into your calendar and monitor your progress as you work towards meeting the pledges.
Give an early heads up over any anticipated setbacks or delays.
9. Anticipating problems and problem solving
Think ahead and address problems before they arise to the greatest extent possible.
Ways of anticipating problems include conducting surveys to find out undercurrents, analyzing recurring or cyclical events that have been problematic in the past and zooming in on those areas prone to breakdown before they do so.
Additional methods are staying ahead of what needs to be done, envisioning the project in your mind and asking others how they have handled similar problems in the past.
Other ways of anticipating problems include reading online reviews about your company – what are the complaints and how can they be handled?
On the personal side of things, review your to-do list regularly to see if there tasks or items that you are avoiding or procrastinating.
Typically a task that is being avoided has the potential to be problematic when the deadline is looming closer and the work has not yet been done or even started. These have potential of causing problems down the road.
Waiting to do things at the last minute can become an ingrained behavior that is self-defeating.
Be proactive in finding solutions to problems. Troubleshoot problems and identify when they started, diagnose and find the underlying cause quickly.
Develop solutions, back-up plans and be comfortable making decisions.
Develop steps for either preventing problems from reoccurring or steps for handling problems when they occur again.
10. Having a routine for how you work
Having a standardized routine for your workday is beneficial. It helps to boost your productivity.
By having a routine, you will have charted a familiar path which you can keep on repeating and improving each day, while at the same time being aware of the typical turbulence that can throw you off course and what corrective action you need to engage in to get back on course.
Develop a routine for doing tasks and then keep improving your routine and performance.
A sample routine for a work day could be as follows:
Tidy up your work area in the morning.
Write your to-do list.
Prioritize your tasks.
Do hard tasks first then easy tasks.
Or do easy tasks first to build momentum then do the hard tasks.
Do one task steadily until you complete it.
Check off items done.
Respond to email requests, telephone calls, colleagues, meetings etc.
Take short breaks.
Review the work done at the end of the day.
Add new tasks and draft a plan for the next day’s work.
11. Working well with others
Having a friendly attitude goes a long way in strengthening relationships at work and how people respond to you.
Support others in their projects especially when they ask for your help and you are in a position to assist.
Endeavor to participate in brainstorming meetings to help come up with ideas to improve the company and support customers better.
Be known for submitting work on time and even for submitting work earlier than anticipated. Develop the capacity to work efficiently under pressure.
Be flexible and open minded. Listen to other people’s opinions, suggestions and viewpoints.
Practice being consistent and build the capacity to think on your feet especially when dealing with surprises.
Get along well with colleagues by being collaborative, setting a good example and sharing the credit with others.
Be compassionate, polite and kind. Have energy and enthusiasm. People will respond to your enthusiasm.
Have passion about what you are doing. Give your best efforts at all times and take pride in doing a good job.
Also have a winning mentality and think of possibilities.
Carve out time for socializing with coworkers during company events and have a sense of humor.
Look neat and presentable at all times. Treat everyone with respect regardless of their rank or titles.
Take time to deliberately and sincerely praise others for doing things well.
12. Following up
The art of following up is part of the arsenal of a proactive person. Following up and being persistent are ingredients for success in one’s career.
It takes will power to constantly follow-up especially when you don’t receive any response.
Follow up is needed in instances such as scheduling meetings or invitations, after meetings, after events, job applications and generally when you have sent someone an important email and they have not responded.
You can also follow-up when sending reminders ahead of important deadlines, events or meetings.
Additionally when thanking your customers and also when sending reminders for subscription renewals.
When following up, personalize your email and refer to any email or communication you had previously sent.
Following-up can be done through different avenues such as email, telephone, text, snail mail, meetings or social media.
One way of going the extra mile is checking in on clients a few weeks or months after you have delivered a project just to see how things are going. It is granted to make the clients or customer pleasantly surprised.
13. Not over committing yourself
Spreading yourself too thin is a recipe for dropping the ball. Being over committed affects one’s ability to be proactive.
It is necessary to have a good idea of what your current commitments are at all times to enable you assess whether you can take on additional work.
If you are unable to honor a commitment, it is best to say no and offer a polite explanation that your plate is currently full.
You can also have negotiation discussions to agree on later deadlines, revised or reduced scope of work.
14. Adapting to change
There are constant changes in the world of business. The ability to adapt to change easily affects one’s capacity to be proactive.
When confronted with change take time to analyze and understand the reason for the change, the impact of the change and how you need to adjust seamlessly moving forward.
If you are the one initiating the change, it is critical to communicate the change well to others.
Ideally involve them in every step of the change and let people understand the reason why the change is being introduced and the potential benefits.
15. Using auto-responders
Be proactive by using auto-responders appropriately.
Auto-responders that you can use to increase your efficiency include out of office email notifications and voice mail greetings and notifications.
When you are away from the office for a meeting, training, vacation etc. it is a good practice to activate your out of office email.
This should have a brief message mentioning the dates when you are unavailable, when you will be available, who is to be contacted in your absence as well as their contact details or alternatively specify when you expect to read emails.
Set up the auto responder with a specific start and end date and time. When you are back in the office double check to ensure that your auto responder is not sending emails, it can make you look disorganized.
Similarly out of office voicemail can serve the same function as out of office email notifications. Remember to deactivate this once you return to the office.
Additionally setup a standard voicemail greeting. The tone of your voicemail greeting should be friendly.
State your name, title, company, department and a brief message for callers to leave their name, contact details and a message mention you will get back to them as soon as you can.
You could also state what your normal business hours are to give callers an idea of when they can expect to reach you or hear from you.
Check your voicemail on a regular basis and respond to voicemail as soon as you can.
16. Providing timely updates
When working on a project, update your boss, your team, client and other relevant stakeholders on the progress at regular intervals and also once the activity is completed.
Complete the project on time.
If you are not able to provide updates as earlier envisioned, let your boss know in advance.
In addition let your boss hear your mistakes from you first or any potential holdups.
17. Acting on feedback
It is important to receive feedback because it gauges how you are performing.
Demonstrate a willingness to learn and desire to be corrected when you are wrong. Ask feedback from colleagues, supervisors and customers.
Feedback can come from multiple sources such as performance reviews, suggestions, complaints, listening to ideas and asking good questions.
The next step after receiving feedback is to reflect on it and put it to use.
What are you doing well? What should you continue doing? What areas should you improve on? What behaviors or actions should you stop doing? What new things should you start doing?
Good feedback is timely, actionable and specific. You should also welcome constructive feedback that is aimed at making you better, more efficient and proactive.
Remember to thank those who take time to give you feedback.
Just as it is important to receive feedback, it is equally important to give others feedback.
Give others feedback in a specific and respectful way. Think of what information and suggestions you can share to help others improve their behavior and succeed at work.
One more form of feedback is letting employees know or see the results of their work i.e. who benefits from what they do and how they benefit.
18. Managing time and meeting deadlines
Since time is a non-renewable resource, we should utilize good methods to maximize the time available. Time is limited.
One way to build a strong relationship with your boss is to ensure that both of you are on the same page.
It is important to have clear discussions and clarify areas that you are unsure about. Learn what items are on your boss’ topmost agenda.
Discuss and share your goals and what major items are on your plate so that your boss is aware.
Sometimes your boss’ priorities might override your own, be flexible enough to accommodate these requests.
Know what your boss expects from you in terms of work performance and work diligently to meet or even exceed those expectations.
2. Meet Deadlines and Commitments
Deadlines are a necessary part of work, they help in proper planning. Deadlines help in aiding the smooth flow of work and lead us to perform tasks faster.
Failure to meet deadlines especially chronic failure can lead to disastrous consequences.
Be known as an employee who regularly meets deadlines and you will be in your boss’ good books.
Be a good time manager. Keep a running list of your key tasks, projects and deadlines. Look at the list regularly to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Break down big tasks into smaller components to make it easier to tackle them.
Strive to meet your work commitments at all times. Be known for doing what you promise you will do.
In the event that you are working on a project and you anticipate not meeting the deadline, it is advisable to give your boss a heads up in good time.
Let him or her know that you are running late and discuss options available such as rescheduling, negotiating deadlines, getting support from others or otherwise.
3. Be Responsive and Keep Your Boss Updated
Bosses like employees who are highly responsive. Different bosses have different definitions about what being responsive means to them.
Some bosses are comfortable with a weekly update, others prefer a daily update whereas others might even require an hourly update or every few hours.
When working on a project, update your boss on the progress at regular intervals. Complete the project on time.
If you are not able to provide updates as earlier envisioned, let your boss know in advance.
Being reactive creates challenges for you, your boss, team and other stakeholders.
4. Have Regular Check-In Meetings
Having regular one-on-one check-in meetings with your boss is a good practice.
It creates a good opportunity to discuss with your boss what you are working on, progress and accomplishments and any challenges that you are facing.
One-on-one meetings can be scheduled on various intervals such as daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. A comfortable interval is either once a week or once every two weeks.
Use these meetings as opportunities to get input and feedback from your boss on how you are performing. Take good notes during check-in meetings.
Proactively prepare an agenda for each meeting and submit it to your boss prior to the meeting to give him or her a chance to review it and note down the points that they would like to discuss with you.
5. Pay Attention To Details
Endeavor to pay great attention to details for any activity you are working on.
Be known as someone who takes time to plan, then properly execute and review work after it has been completed.
Over time your boss will come to trust on your reliability thus strengthening your working relationship.
Ways of paying attention to details include: preparing a to-do list; prioritizing your work; following instructions well; proofreading your work; ensuring proper formatting of documents and observing body language and responding appropriately.
Other ways include: connecting the dots by seeing trends and making projections; double checking calculations and totals; developing and using checklists; recalling information such as names, dates, events etc. and having strong observation skills.
6. Work Well With Team Members
A strong team player is able to forge relationships with colleagues within their department and also in other departments.
Bosses get pleased when they receive good reports from others about their direct reports.
Skills to become a valuable team player include being organized; understand different working styles of colleagues; ability to communicate well to different people; sharing relevant information; collaboration; cooperativeness; trust; listening attentively, respecting others and ability to make decisions.
Other ways to work well with others are leveraging the unique strengths of team members; involving others in planning and execution; clarifying issues and misunderstandings; staying on track; participating in group work and team meetings; generating ideas during brainstorming sessions or meetings and getting ideas from team members.
Additional ways are leading meetings; being available for any questions; researching and being knowledgeable on topics; giving feedback; ensuring that everyone understands the tasks at hand; assessing logic and risk in options proposed.
Remind team members about common goals at hand and importance of achieving them and thank people sincerely when they do a good job.
7. Meet Performance Targets
When someone is hired they are presented with a job description which details the roles and responsibilities that will be doing.
Typically every year employees have annual performance goals and targets to work on.
These annual goals can be broken down further into semi-annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily targets.
Your number one job as a good employee is meeting your targets. Your periodic evaluations are based on how you perform against previously agreed upon milestones.
By consistently meeting and even exceeding your performance targets, you demonstrate your reliability and your boss knows that they can count on you.
You also create trust by meeting your targets.
Make it a goal to send your boss a weekly or monthly list of your accomplishments to keep them up to date on what you are doing. In addition when you receive any praise from others forward it to your boss.
8. Have a Good Attitude Towards Work
What kind of attitude do you have at work? Your internal attitude affects the spirit in which you perform your work and also how you interact with others.
Be especially careful about the attitude that you project when interacting with your boss.
Ways to develop a good attitude include being kind to yourself and others; smiling; admitting your mistakes and learn from them; accepting compliments graciously; praising others genuinely; complaining tactfully; identifying the good things that are happening in your life and being grateful; using positive and uplifting words.
Other ways are having a sense of humor; having goals for your life and constantly work on achieving your life’s vision and strengthening your self-confidence by always doing advance preparation.
Being unprepared especially for a planned event can bruise your confidence levels.
More ways include improving your overall quality of life by taking good care of your health; treating yourself well by getting enough sleep, enough rest, eating healthy, staying hydrated and exercising; from time to time go outdoors and enjoy nature and the outdoors and having fun with family and friends.
9. Take Initiative
Having initiative, being resourceful and going the extra mile are all positive ways of strengthening your day to day interaction with your boss and building your credibility at work.
However, the first rule of taking initiative is don’t neglect your primary responsibilities at the expense of doing extra work. You job takes precedence at all times; do it and do it very well.
There are numerous ways of going above and beyond at work such as looking for challenges that stretch you and increase your competency, skills and confidence; anticipating what your boss might require, request or need and preparing for it in advance.
Thinking of solutions for work place challenges and problems and mastering the big picture about the company, having an interest in the success of the company, its products, services, customers, and thinking of ways to make a positive contribution.
You can also demonstrate initiative by volunteering to help your boss and colleagues; asking good thoughtful questions; improvising and thinking on your feet; attending events, workshops, exhibitions and webinars; writing articles and blogs for the company newsletter or website; preparing video presentations and developing “how to” materials to teach and train others.
Other ways of taking initiative include polishing up your speaking skills by speaking publicly, making presentations and leading more meetings; writing good minutes; observing what other leaders do and seeking role models.
Networking strategically in your organization and with vendors and suppliers, and developing manuals, flowcharts, guidelines, policies and standard operating procedures.
10. Take Time To Know Each Other
Break the ice by getting to know your boss as a person.
Make a deliberate effort to have a deep, meaningful conversation where you learn more about each other.
Genuine topics such as where you each grew up, where you went to school, what you learnt in school, jobs you have held, your career goals, where you live, family, pets, hobbies, interests etc.
You never know, you might even discover similar interests such as being fans of the same football team or a passion for watching home improvement shows.
Connecting at this level adds richness to your working relationship.
You do not need to be best friends with your boss you just need to make an effort to know each other at a human level rather than a strictly boss-subordinate relationship.
11. Consult When in Doubt
When in doubt consult your boss. If you had received instructions and later on got confused or overwhelmed during execution, it is advisable to take a few moments to consult with your boss.
Clarify, ask questions and take notes to ensure that you clearly understand what is expected of you.
In some cases you can paraphrase to your boss what you heard either verbally or in an email to ensure that you are both on the same page.
If there are any additional misunderstandings your boss will let you know.
12. Maintain Confidentiality
Bosses value employees who are tactfully in handling sensitive and confidential information.
Sometimes you might be required to sign non-disclosure agreements where you agree to not disclose the confidential information of a company.
Confidential information in the workplace includes trade secrets; human resources records; personal information; salary information; medical records; list of customers and their contact information; production or operation processes and prototypes.
Others include formulas; business plans; financial information that is not publicly available such as budgets, profits, losses and revenues; financial projections; credit card information; product designs; proposals; sales and marketing plans; software and technology systems.
13. Be Focused
To be highly productive and efficient at work, practice being focused. We constantly face pressure to do many things within a limited amount of time.
Ultimately we end up doing many things at the same i.e. multitasking. However, the key question to answer is: What is most productive – multitasking or single-tasking?
The most prevalent form of multitasking in the technological age is talking or listening while looking at one’s phone – either simultaneously sending a text, catching up on news, social media etc.
Another form of multitasking is working on and having several pages or applications open at the same time on the computer.
The downside of multitasking includes not being fully present in the present moment, not giving someone else your undivided attention and missing out on key pieces of information because you were not paying full attention.
It takes a lot of mental effort to switch from one task to another in a back and forth motion. To do an activity really well you need to be fully immersed into it.
The disadvantage of spreading your time over many pieces of work is ending up with many half-finished or poorly finished results.
It is also possible that instead of saving time you could actually end up spending more time having to correct or re-do work that was not done properly in the first place.
A better alternative is to prioritize tasks and do things in a sequence.
Whereby you work on the first item then when you complete it you move to the second item, then the third item etc. thereby creating a rhythm that would propel you towards actually accomplishing better results than if you were jumping from one activity to another.
You could also pair up similar activities and complete them in groups such as responding to all unread emails, then writing reports, then preparing budgets, and then returning phone calls.
Typically, interruptions are inevitable in the course of working.
You can deal with and manage interruptions by making a brief note of where you were or what point you were at in your work when you were interrupted so that this can help you to quickly restart from where you had left off.
14. Offer Solutions To Problems
Focus on solutions instead of problems. When things breakdown, brainstorm solutions to solve a problem and help in analyzing available options.
Find out why processes and standards were not followed and how to prevent this from happening again.
Ask questions to help figure out corrective action.
Become known as a problem solver in your organization; someone who offers suggestions and recommendations for corrective action.
When you approach your boss, present a set of solutions and accompany this with pros and cons for the proposed solutions.
This makes your boss’s role easier because they simply have to select the best course of action rather than figuring out from scratch what the solution to a problem should be.
15. Offer To Train Others
Offer a lending hand by training others. Willingly share your skills, knowledge and expertise with others.
You can train colleagues, new employees, interns and even managers.
Train new colleagues and interns about the company, department roles and how to do specific job responsibilities, how to use company systems, introduce them to team members and learn more about each other.
If you learn something new at a training, workshop, seminar or webinar, cross train colleagues and share relevant training materials with others.
Show others tips and tricks for doing processes faster and efficiently. Share a tip during regular team meetings.
Take others under your wing and mentor or coach them. Bring out their potential, encourage and help them to grow in their careers.
If you come across something valuable in the news, online or a report, share or forward this information to relevant colleagues who might benefit from it.
Organize brown-bag sessions or simply schedule a training meeting where you walk colleagues through specific topics that you have expertise in.
Prepare your mini-course that includes the main training objectives, an outline of the lesson plan and detailed information for the topic you want to teach.
These training materials can be recycled and shared on company intranet for wider distribution.
Become a fast learner and new adopter who quickly learns new systems and processes and then turns around and trains others.
If you have been promoted or are leaving for a new job opportunity, either take time to train your replacement or train colleagues who can then train your successor.
Prepare good handover notes that document key steps and procedures for doing your job, performance goals, notes showing what tasks are pending and useful reference materials that can help someone succeed in the role.
16. Treat Your Boss With Respect
Speak respectfully to not only your boss but also your colleagues and other stakeholders.
Respect your boss’s time and avoid unnecessary interruptions.
A healthy dosage of respect at work fuels the interplay between your independence as a professional and cherishing your interdependence with your boss where you both need and rely on each other for success at work.
17. Be Accountable
One of the profound challenges that many people face is trying to keep their word.
We usually make promises with the best intentions of keeping them but due to either external circumstances or internal shortcomings, we end up not honoring our promises.
As this cycle keeps repeating itself over time a person tends to loose credibility where their word or promise has little to no weight.
However, the behavior of keeping your word can be learned over time and achieved through a series of small wins.
Start off by promising something small and give yourself more time to do the thing that you promised to do so that you do not get caught up by the deadline pressure and have to rush to quickly fulfill your promise or risk breaking your word and let it go or be tempted to conveniently forget to do what you had promised to do in the first place.
As you build your reliability muscles through a series of small wins you can then graduate over time to confidently giving your word on bigger things and coming through.
The net effect is that people will trust you more and look up to you as someone that they can count on.
In the workplace it will open doors for you to propel you towards higher responsibilities, recognition and even promotion. Bottom line is when you say you will of something you do it.
At a very minimum when you make a promise and due to overwhelming circumstances you are unable to make good on the promise, it is best to give a timely heads-up to alert the other person. Don’t make excuses.
18. Be Consistent
Be on your boss’s good books being consistent. Your boss should know that they can always count on you.
Some examples of being dependable include: consistency in performance, attitude and work quality; maintaining passion for the company and what it does; keeping your word; being reliable; being punctual and meeting deadlines.
Other ways are being organized; stepping up; providing timely updates; assisting colleagues and being a good team player; participating in meetings and sharing your ideas, thoughts, opinions, suggestions and recommendations.
19. Resolve Misunderstandings Quickly in Private
In the course of work, there will be moments of disagreements between you and your boss. This is just natural just like in any other human relationship where people face ups and downs.
A key skill to nurture is learning to reconcile. Reconciling strengthens the working bond.
Nurture the ability to forgive each other, apologize and move forward.
When you emerge through disagreements, it actually strengthens your bonds because you learn more about one another and emerge more mature and enlightened from the experience.
Misunderstandings between you and your boss can arise from circumstances such as lack of communication when either party does not communicate what is going on; when someone takes all the recognition for work done and the boss showing favoritism or does not enforce rules consistently.
In addition, conflicts can occur when the other team members don’t work as they are supposed to and team members making critical mistakes such as missing deadlines or poor planning.
There should be no personal attacks. Give feedback in a respectful manner. Identify the specific behaviors and how improvements can be made, not an attack on the person.
Bosses are also human and they make mistakes.
Always give feedback from the mind frame and perspective of someone who cares, someone who believes in the other persons potential and you would like to see them succeed.
It takes courage to speak up to seek an amenable solution with your boss. When you meet your boss have brief notes or a list of what you would like to discuss about.
Remember that deep down your boss wants to improve as well; they also have their own performance targets and part of their success feeds from you being successful.
20. Work on Your Professional Development
Demonstrate an interest in improving your knowledge, skills and abilities. Working on your professional development should be a feature of your annual performance plan.
Plan and discuss with your manager which areas you would like to improve on.
Your manager can also point out which areas they want you to improve on and identify a time..
This article discusses 17 tips on how to take initiative at work. The ability to see something that needs to be done and stepping up to do it is a game changing habit that can help you to stand out at work.
Taking initiative demonstrates a sense of self-drive, self-awareness, insight and personal motivation.
The habit of taking initiative strengthens your personal brand. You will become a role model to others who will seek to emulate you.
My favorite tip on taking initiative is # 16 “How to Maintain Your Enthusiasm at Work”. What is your favorite tip?
You can quickly skim all the 17 tips on the table of contents below then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
One crucial skill that can serve you well in both your personal and professional life is the ability to take initiative. If you constantly wait to be told what to do, then you waited too long.
The habit of initiative entails seeing something that needs to be done and either doing it or figuring out ways to do it.
The more you work on initiative, the easier it becomes. The key is finding ways to be resourceful and taking action or doing something before others do it or before you are told to do it.
Taking initiative shows the hallmarks of a leader in the making.
Examples of initiative include: when you see others struggling reach out and offer help. When you see areas where your life is not going as well as you would like to and you decide to do something about it.
When you see bad decisions being made that could be disastrous and have courage to speak up and point the flaws rather than waiting for the bad thing to happen and then make statements such “I thought that wouldn’t work out well”.
Other ways of developing your initiative include learning to ask the right questions, probing questions which can bring to surface negative undercurrents that need to be addressed.
Taking initiative helps to build and strengthen your decision making skills and analytical skills where you get to analyze pros and cons of different courses of action.
Taking initiative also helps to identify opportunities and capitalize on them.
The habit of taking initiative strengthens your personal brand. A person who takes initiative will be a role model to others.
You will chart a new path and try out a new way of doing things that could help improve your life and those of others.
2. What Does Taking Initiative Mean?
Taking initiative means going the extra mile or going above and beyond your normal job responsibilities to make things happen.
Taking initiative means the ability to see something that needs to be done and deciding to do it out of your own free will without someone else telling you to do it.
Doing something that needs to be done out of your own personal drive with a desire to make things better than they were before or improve processes and ways of doing things.
Doing more than your normal work duties and adding a little unexpected surprise for others at work.
Being proactive instead of reactive, thinking ahead and taking action.
3. How to Develop Your Initiative Muscles
Developing your initiative begins by knowing what you want to achieve in your career, what things you have to and are willing to do and how fast you want to achieve your career goals.
Learn how things work and figure out efficient ways of working. Look for opportunities in problems.
Persevere and be willing to start small. You don’t have to dive into a big project immediately; build your initiative muscles one step at a time.
Observe colleagues who are masters at taking initiative. Talk to them, learn from them, work with them, learn their thinking processes and most importantly study how they execute ideas and accomplish goals.
Practice speaking up and making your voice heard. You could start by contributing and participating actively in small group meetings then graduate slowly to larger groups.
Let people get used to hearing your input. When you consistently offer good ideas, suggestions or recommendations, your opinions will be sought over time.
Learn to be decisive. Become comfortable at making decisions rather than agonizing endlessly over decision making.
Think long term. Study how different things are interrelated and connect the dots such as the interplay between individual annual goals and the strategic goals of the company.
4. 25 Ways to Show Initiative at Work
There are many ways and opportunities to take initiative at the workplace.
Typical ways to demonstrate initiative at work include the following:
Seeking more responsibilities.
Going the extra mile.
Doing things and projects that others avoid or don’t want to do.
Willingness to roll up your sleeves and do what it takes.
Stepping in when someone is unavailable or absent.
Inventing unique solutions to problems.
Being a fast learner and training others or explaining things to others.
Leading events or meeting and working with different teams and departments.
Referring good potential employees.
Helping in interviewing and hiring process.
Brainstorming ideas to improve the company.
Becoming a champion at team building.
Supporting your boss.
Helping others to see their strengths and qualities.
Thinking ahead, anticipating and preventing problems before they occur. Especially by drawing from your past performance and knowing typical failure paths or where mistakes usually happen in a certain project and avoiding errors ahead of time.
Dressing sharp and professionally representing yourself and your organization well.
Sharing the credit not being a credit hog.
Maintaining high standards.
Making good decisions and being decisive.
Doing quality control for finished projects.
5. Benefits of Taking Initiative
You should take initiative because it gives you visibility at work, you stand out, you get recognition, and it enhances your value and personal brand.
Taking initiative improves your potential for promotions and career growth.
More problems are solved at work, time is saved, resources are saved or utilized efficiently and processes are improved.
Taking initiative and trying different things, methods or processes can lead to breakthroughs.
Additionally relationships are strengthened when you help others resulting in stronger team dynamics.
It likewise creates independence, higher morale, bosses and supervisors are happy with your contributions, you become a role model for others, you stretch your critical thinking skills and challenge your problem solving skills.
Other benefits of taking initiative include strengthening your people skills, identifying synergies, removing redundancies and duplication in work and improving your self-confidence as you tackle things and obtain results
Moreover, the habit of taking initiative adds to your personal happiness and job satisfaction.
6. Things to Consider Before Taking Initiative
In as much as taking initiative is to be praised, there are some caveats to take into account before diving into the depths of demonstrating your initiative.
The first item on the checklist is to ensure that you finish your normal tasks satisfactorily before taking on more work.
Your primarily responsibility is the job that you were hired to do. Efficiently handle what is on your plate first. Avoid overcommitting yourself.
The second item on the checklist is to know the limits of your authority. Before taking initiative on matters in a gray area, consult as appropriate.
Work with your boss on critical high profile initiatives or obtain your boss’ permission to proceed on your own. Do thorough research before changing things or proposing major changes.
Taking initiative also means taking risks. Assess your risk tolerance. Know that there is a potential to make mistakes and fail.
Don’t overpromise and under deliver – it affects your credibility. There could be situations where you need to own up and admit your mistakes when you fail. Have resilience and a good attitude.
Additionally your sincere initiative efforts and ideas could be ignored or unwelcome. Rein in your ego when you encounter rejection of your ideas, don’t take it personally. Keep your cool.
Have the ability to bounce back and keep on going with enthusiasm.
Don’t try to solve all the company’s problems at once. Likewise don’t try to do everything alone. Feel free to ask for help when you need it.
When you stick your neck out you can attract haters; people who won’t be happy by your progress. You can be taken advantage of by others and have extra work dumped on you.
You can encounter people who want to put you down for no reason. Be cautious of idea killers especially when idea is at infancy.
Don’t appear as a know it all – be a sponge, absorb, learn and soak up knowledge. Don’t brown nose. Practice being patient, change takes time.
Sometimes you will underestimate the effort involved in executing a task; this is part of the learning process. You will become better at estimating effort required over time and through practice.
At all times, take care of yourself, be well rested, take time to do a job well rather than hurrying up to finish the work, be open to other people’s viewpoints, be humble, and respect yourself and others.
7. How to Take Initiative as a Team
Ways of taking initiative as a team consists of problem solving as a group, brainstorming ideas – presenting a raw idea to a team can result in a much better idea after input of different people, and volunteering on an internal or external activity as a team.
Other ways entail working collaboratively on designing manuals, standard operating procedures, guidebooks, flowcharts etc. for others to use and teaching each other through formal or informal learning sessions.
Taking team retreats to work on developing ideas, concepts and projects and working on team building initiatives to strengthen working relationships.
Remember to thank others and acknowledge other people’s contributions in making the teamwork a success.
8. How to Encourage Employees to Take Initiative
An organization with a culture of employees taking initiative can achieve substantially more results than a company where staff do not take initiative.
How can you create a culture of taking initiative in your company? By acting on employee feedback and suggestions from staff surveys. By praising staff for doing a job well.
By providing company-wide rewards tied to taking initiative to stimulate creativity and innovation. By inviting well respected industry leaders to talk to, inspire and motivate your team.
Encourage employees to take initiative by creating environments necessary for initiative to prosper such as weekly meetings where staff share their initiatives and the successes achieved, including employees in planning goals, publicly appreciating and recognizing those who take initiative and empowering employees.
Other ways of stimulating creativity include knowing what your employees are good at and encouraging those positive traits, sharing the company vision and inviting clarifying questions, showing employees the results of their efforts i.e. who benefits from their work and equipping employees with knowledge, skills and tools to succeed.
Challenging employees to improve processes and create efficiency, being accessible to staff and listening to their ideas, making it ok to take smart risks and make mistakes.
Being open and sharing information about what is going on in the company, encouraging sharing of knowledge and information and senior leadership to make taking initiative a priority.
Good management, culture of initiative being supported, actively seeking suggestions, ideas and recommendations from employees on how to fix what is broken and areas of improvement.
Encouraging teamwork, allowing work flexibility and telecommuting, giving employees regular and actionable feedback and hiring people with a history of taking initiative.
9. What Causes Lack of Initiative?
There are many reasons why people do not take initiative such as fear of presenting your ideas, fear of speaking up, fear of criticism, self-doubt, lack of faith in one’s ability and thinking someone else should do it.
Doing the bare minimum to survive in your job, making excuses, playing the blame game, playing the victim, waiting to be told what to do and believing that the boss has all the answers.
Other reasons why people do not take initiative consist of: lack of interest, shyness, don’t want extra work, self-sabotage and not seeing the benefit of doing it.
Not wanting to rock the boat, procrastination, search for perfectionism, it simply takes too much time, resistance to change, mistrust, coming up with reasons why it won’t work, negativity, burnout, other commitments and being overstretched.
External reasons for lack of initiative include people pulling each other down, constant complaining and doing nothing, taking initiative is frowned upon, your ideas getting stolen by others, not getting the credit you deserve and people satisfied with the status quo.
Being held back by past failures i.e. we tried that before and it didn’t work, short term thinking, busyness, low morale, poor team spirit, micromanagers and fearful managers who are threatened by employees’ success.
It is worth noting that despite all your good intentions while taking initiative, there are some bosses for whatever reason who might feel insecure and threatened when you take initiative at work.
10. 20 Qualities That Can Help You Take Initiative
The following 20 traits can aid you in the pursuit of initiative:
Planning and then taking action.
Knowing what you want to progressively achieve in your career and deliberately taking steps to get you closer to your career goals.
Concern and consideration for not only the well-being of the company but also about the well-being of colleagues.
Teamwork, cooperation and working well with colleagues, bosses and customers.
Boldness to take smart risks and having confidence that what you are doing will have a positive impact.
Interest in how things work and trying to figure a way to make things and processes better.
Reading widely. Keen observation to see different perspectives and connecting the dots.
Not agonizing over making decisions and choosing options. Thinking on your feet.
Conducting relevant research, analyzing, interpreting and drawing timely conclusions and recommendations.
Persevering even when the going is tough or when it takes a long time to reach the desired result.
Not giving up. Following through.
Set targets for yourself and actively work on meeting and even exceeding your goals.
Let your goals excite you and energize your actions. Measure your progress.
10.10 Good attitude
Having a good attitude complements all your other traits.
It makes it easier to get along with others. Smile. Practice being grateful.
10.11 Good communicator
Strong listening skills. Talking, writing and expressing your thoughts in a logical organized and persuasive manner.
Be aware of your tone of voice. Pay attention to body language or nonverbal communication.
Keeping your ego in check. Valuing other people’s ideas and opinions. Respecting others.
Concern for others and their feelings. Not over stepping your boundaries.
10.13 Open minded
You can learn from anyone and any situation. Being open to new methods of doing things.
Thinking of possibilities and potential benefits.
Good planning skills. Good time management skills.
Passion for your job, for success, to teach others, to contribute positively and the desire to make a difference.
You can be counted upon. You always do what you say you will do.
Pushing yourself to accomplish what you set out to do. Having internal motivation and the will to see it through.
10.19 Thinking big
Thinking about the big picture of the company and how your seemingly small efforts can benefit the overall organization. Dreaming big, creativity and innovation.
10.20 Willingness to change
Flexibility. When your assumptions don’t work as expected re-calibrate and try another way. Desire and willingness to keep improving.
11. Solving Problems at Work
Inevitably problems are a part of our daily lives. Problem solving skills are important for the career-minded professional.
The foundational pillars of taking initiative include the ability to solve problems.
A quick way of solving problems in the workplace entails:
Understanding what the problem is.
Listening to and assessing all available viewpoints.
Identifying what solutions have been tried already if any.
Brainstorming possible solutions.
Analyzing how the problem arose.
Resolving the problem.
Mapping out repeatable steps for the future.
12. How to Think Like an Owner of a Company
When you imagine yourself as the owner of a company, it can help stimulate your appetite for taking initiative.
A business owner is responsible for the success or failure of the company. This mindset requires thinking about all the moving pieces of the organization and ensuring proper alignment.
To think like an owner of a company, ask questions such as – how can this company go to the next level?
An owner thinks about the big picture and creates systems to make processes easier including automating tasks, delegating and even outsourcing some activities.
They also work on setting goals, taking responsibility and not making excuses or blaming others, keeping good records, treating customers like royalty, following up regularly with customers, taking risks, develop the brand and reputation and studying other successful business leaders.
Being decisive and not getting caught up in analysis paralysis, thinking of potential revenue generating ideas, how to grow the business, how to improve processes, how to save costs and where to get good employees.
A business owner also encourages staff, prioritizes work, networks, builds rapport and alliances, negotiates, sells, forecasts, innovates, studies business trends, looks for opportunities, manages, visualizes and plans.
Studies the competition, seeks mentors, makes presentations and pitches, improves processes, reduces expenses, works on customer satisfaction and learns from failure and mistakes.
13. Asking Good Questions
The art of asking good questions is a relevant ingredient in the process of taking initiative. Question why things are the way they are.
In a respectful manner, ask open-ended questions and also follow-up questions. Don’t ask too many questions at once.
Take down good notes. Later on take time to review and reflect on the important points you learned.
Become proficient at gathering data, understanding details, figuring out how things work, understanding bottlenecks, listening well, paraphrasing, not interrupting, recapping, assessing pros and cons, testing theories and assumptions, and making logical conclusions.
Seek feedback and use it to spur on your initiative efforts. Talk to supervisors and colleagues to learn what you are doing well and should continue doing.
On the other hand also learn about which areas you are not performing well and what you need to do to improve.
Talk to customers, ask them what they like and what they don’t like and seek any suggestions for improvement that they might have.
14. How to Be More Confident At Work
How much initiative you take can be determined by your level of confidence at work. So how do you increase your confidence so that it spurs you take more initiative?
Simple ways of increasing your confidence include: being good at your job and having a record of accomplishments, being knowledgeable about your subject area, increasing your skill levels and competence.
Paying attention to details, not making excuses, knowledge of both the big picture and the nitty gritty, building alliances and networks at work, supporting colleagues and supporting your boss.
Other ways entail working on your posture and body language, speaking with confidence and projecting your voice well, participating in meetings, keeping your supervisor updated, planning your work and meeting deadlines
Having goals and meeting them, being well prepared, dressing well and comfortably, smiling, stretching yourself, going beyond your comfort zone, being kind to yourself and practicing positive self-talk.
15. How to Pitch a Proposal or Idea to Your Boss
Part of taking initiative at work will entail sharing and pitching your ideas to your boss.
When you have a proposal or a new idea, write down the idea, list the major benefits of the idea, list the drawbacks and disadvantages, explain what resources would be required to implement the idea, how to execute and implement the idea, what are the implications if the idea is not implemented and a timeline for implementation.
Prepare a one or two page outline that covers the points above then schedule a good time to meet with your boss.
If you are looking to excel in your career, here are great tips to help you become much better in your field. This article discusses 22 ways to be successful at your job. Being successful at your job is essential for your long term career growth.
When you are hired as an employee in an organization, you typically get a job description which is a roadmap that shows what roles and responsibilities you will be in-charge of and how these intersect with the overall goals of the organization.
Once you start working, you will have the opportunity and capacity to either transform your position phenomenally or just ramble on by providing the bare minimum amount of effort necessary to receive a steady paycheck.
By being internally motivated and staying aligned with the organization’s mission and vision, you can put to work the following 22 tips, strategies and tactics on how to be successful at your job.
You can quickly skim all the 22 tips on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details.
For your additional convenience, there is a summary at the end of each tip. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
Genuinely care about the well-being of the organization. Treat your organization as if it were your own company. Be passionate about doing good work for your employer.
Give your best work and then give some more – go the extra mile. Do a good job all the time regardless of whether you get recognition or not.
Your job is your domain, you should bring as much passion, energy and excitement to your job as you possibly can.
As an employee, one of your aspirations is to have a job that you thoroughly enjoy and at the same you feel challenged, needed and get a sense of personal satisfaction from doing the job well.
A few simple ways of demonstrating passion in your work include the following: start by loving what you do, take pride in doing amazing work, try a different way of doing routine tasks and think of how others benefit from the good work you do.
Solve problems by thinking of new and creative ways to do tasks, have high aspirations, innovate, take smart risks, build on successes, laugh at yourself, enjoy each step of the process, learn from your experiences and connect with others.
Other ways include set high standards of excellence for yourself, take initiative, be resourceful, exhibit confident body language, be determined, genuinely care about colleagues, help others to learn what you know, think excitement and reduce distractions to broaden your focus.
Be self-driven, take baby steps to decimate big tasks, do your work with a good attitude, have goals for yourself, know what you excel at and keep doing more of it, seek inspiration and think of the end goal.
Trust that in the circle of life, when you do good, your reward will come at the right time. In the short-term, your reward will be the personal satisfaction in knowing that you are giving the very best outputs and results that you can.
Great passion also inspires others and collectively the team’s performance becomes much greater.
Treat and care for your organization as if it were your own company.
Enthusiastically give your best work then give some more – go the extra mile.
Great passion inspires others and collectively the team’s performance becomes greater.
2. Go Above and Beyond
Take control of your career by expanding your knowledge. Set aside time to read something new every day. Look for free online training courses for your professional development.
Learn as much as you can about the big picture regarding the company.
Be continuously hungry and curious about learning new things even in totally unrelated areas then develop the skill of connecting the dots on things that might seem unrelated at first glance but somehow there could be a bigger connection or hidden connection.
Be proactive. Always think ahead, plan as best as you can then execute.
Under promise and over deliver, think of solutions instead of problems, anticipate requests and questions from your boss and prepare for them, support your boss, give regular status updates and schedule regular check-in meetings.
Develop resources that will help other staff such as manuals, writing down key steps and procedures for doing tasks, develop flowcharts and pictorials, and develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for tasks that you do on a routine basis.
Train others on these procedures. Strive to automate your work processes by developing templates and forms for routine processes. These initiatives are especially useful when training new hires.
Take control of your career by expanding your knowledge. Read something new every day.
Think of solutions instead of problems. Anticipate requests from your boss and prepare ahead.
Develop resources to help others e.g. manuals, flowcharts and standard operating procedures.
3. Do Regular Self-analysis or Self-evaluation
Organizations typically do at a minimum an annual performance review of individual staff, some organizations even do two semi-annual reviews and some do quarterly reviews.
Likewise it is important to do self-evaluation at regular intervals to measure your progress and identify gaps in your plans.
Be honest with yourself and at regular intervals ask yourself deep probing questions about what you have done, what did you want to accomplish, did you get it done, if not why not, how are you improving as an individual, how are you improving your organization?
At what stage are you at in your career path? What is the ultimate destination that you envision for yourself career wise and how long will it take you to get there?
Ask yourself how am I improving the company? What is my contribution? What can I do better?
Do periodic self-analysis to measure your progress and identify gaps in your plans.
What stage are you at in your career path? What is your ultimate destination career-wise?
Ask yourself how am I improving the company? What is my contribution? What can I do better?
4. Learn From Your Mistakes
When we make mistakes, the knee jerk reaction is to run and hide, cover up, make excuses, lie or deny.
However, on the flipside you can learn a lot from mistakes and failure in fact they can be the foundation for future success.
Admitting mistakes is not always easy to do. It is the hallmark of maturity to admit a mistake.
Directly inform your supervisor in a timely manner when you make a mistake.
Do not blame others, apologize, reflect on the mistake and ask yourself what did I learn from this, how can I do it better next time and keep moving forward.
Come up with solutions for how to avoid the mistake from happening again in the future.
You can learn a lot of lessons from mistakes and failure.
Admitting mistakes is not always easy to do. It is the hallmark of maturity to admit a mistake.
Come up with solutions for how to avoid the mistake from happening again in the future.
5. Make Your Boss Look Good
As an employee, a key investment that you can do is to thoroughly study and learn your boss.
Get to know your boss’ working style, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots.
Identify ways that you can further support the strengths and on the other hand find ways to turn the weaknesses to strengths or at a minimum mitigate the weaknesses.
For example if your boss is not very keen or savvy in filing, come up with a user friendly easy to use filing system for your boss to use.
If your boss is not good at preparing and circulating an agenda before meetings, seat down with your boss and identify the key things to discuss in a particular meeting then develop an agenda around this.
Share the draft with your boss and circulate the final agenda to meeting participants at least one day before the meeting.
You should avoid brown-nosing your boss. Have genuine and honest interactions with each other. Treat your boss with respect. Learn the communication style preferences for your boss.
Does he/she prefer a detailed email or a brief email, do they need a detailed written report or a summary, do they prefer to chat by email, telephone or face-to-face?
How often do they like to be updated – twice a day, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly? Is your boss a morning person, an afternoon person or an evening owl?
Learn as much as you can about your boss’ style, adapt to this style, keep him/her regularly informed and updated, offer your help when needed, ask for your boss’ guidance when you need it and then feed him/her with success.
A happy boss equals a happy employee.
Learn your boss’ working style, preferences, strengths, weaknesses and blind spots.
Support your boss’ strengths, turn weaknesses to strengths or mitigate the weakness.
Keep your boss regularly informed and updated. Ask for your boss’ guidance when you need it.
6. How Much Horsepower do You Bring to Work?
In the wonderful world of cars, one fascinating fact of distinguishing the performance of one car from another is its horsepower.
A typical and common selling point includes loudly proclaimed features such as a car which can go from 0-60 mph within the shortest amount of time.
Conversely in your job, how much Horsepower do you bring to work? How much work can you do compared to others in similar roles as yourself?
What is the industry average for peak performance in your role? What was your average work output one year ago as compared to your output now? Is your productivity increasing or decreasing?
Strive towards becoming a topmost performer in your team who not only produces fast work results but also does it accurately and error-free to the greatest extent possible.
How much work output can you do compared to others in similar roles as yourself?
What was your average productivity one year ago? Is your output increasing or decreasing?
Aim to become a top performer in your team. One who produces fast and accurate results.
7. Have Imagination and Vision
Think like a CEO when at work. Enhance your visioning skills. Constantly imagine if you had just one idea that could transform your company, what would that idea be? Stretch your imagination.
Think of new and unique ways that you can add value to your company and once you strike a golden idea, clearly write down that idea/proposal and present it to your boss.
A written down, clear vision helps you to be organized and it helps in aligning short term-term and long term goals and activities.
Care enough about your company to visualize ahead to five or ten years; What would the business landscape look like? How will we cope? What are the evolving trends?
What new ideas would be needed to keep your company relevant and competitive? How can we keep and retain many customers?
Think long-term like a CEO at work. Enhance your foresight and visioning skills.
Think of unique ways to improve the company. Write down ideas and present to your boss.
Visualize 5-10 years ahead: What will the business environment look like? How will we cope?
8. Learn from Others
Workmates are a definite source of knowledge; some work colleagues are literally ‘human libraries’ who are smart, talented and skilled in various professional areas.
One easy way to increase your knowledge base and skills in areas where you are weak is by identifying a work colleague who has great skills in a specific area and learning from them.
It could be skills such as spreadsheets, customer service, programming, closing sales, accounting, negotiating, presenting, marketing etc.
Approach your colleague and in a sincere way say that you admire their skills in area x, y or z and that you would be grateful if they could spare some time to train you a bit on their skills.
Once you have both scheduled a mutually convenient time, you can learn first-hand from your colleague or colleagues and thereby improving and increasing your job skills in the process.
As a way of giving back and ‘paying it forward’, you can train others and share your skills to benefit other colleagues as well.
One great way to increase your knowledge and skills is by learning from your work colleagues.
Some work colleagues are literally ‘human libraries’ with vast knowledge and many years of experience.
Keep the learning cycle moving by training others in turn as well.
9. Volunteer for Opportunities to Lead
Leadership skills are very valuable for anyone who aspires to rise in their career.
You can test-drive your leadership skills while you are in your current position by volunteering for opportunities to lead small meetings, opportunities to organize events and workshops, and opportunities to make oral presentations.
By doing these activities you can sharpen skills such as communication, coordinating, negotiating, managing, decision-making, time management, resources management, conflict resolution, directing and even supervising.
Also look for opportunities to help out in research and data gathering/collection. In addition, help out in writing reports even if it is just developing the first draft of a report. Learning how to prepare a budget is an added advantage.
Research, report writing and budgeting skills are additional assets to master in your quest to become successful at your job.
One more asset to add to your collection is to learn how to read and interpret financial statements.
Leadership skills are very valuable for anyone who aspires to rise in their career.
Test-drive your leadership skills by leading meetings, organizing events & oral presentations.
This sharpens skills e.g. managing, negotiating, decision-making and conflict resolution.
10. Practice Humility and Have Empathy
Nobody likes to work alongside an arrogant, proud, braggadocios or boastful person. Humility is an important virtue. Being humble goes a long way in solidifying your character and how you interact with colleagues.
The foundation of humility stems from self-awareness and understanding your strengths and weaknesses.
The very thought and knowledge that you cannot do everything and that you don’t know everything, is a humbling thought that should help you to stay even-keeled and respect others for their unique skills and contributions.
Recognize that no one is perfect and that we all have our limitations.
Empathy is all about putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Cultivate empathy by learning to let go of your ego and see things from other people’s point of view.
Share credit with other people, be genuinely interested in others, ask others for help and advice when you need it, collaborate with others, cultivate a pleasant personality, be open to learning, be vulnerable and pay attention to others.
Say I’m sorry when you slip-up, do not be afraid to say you don’t know and finally treat others the same way you would like to be treated.
Of course you should not be a doormat that others can walk all over on. Know your limits and boundaries and assertively communicate this.
Always strive to be kind. Help others whenever you can without expecting anything in return. Keep planting these good seeds.
Use common courtesy words such as please, thank you, and excuse me.
Avoid gossiping, respect other people’s time, avoid never ending complaints, be happy for others, respect the opinions of others, and give others your full attention by not texting or typing when they are talking to you.
No-one likes to work with an arrogant, proud or boastful person. Cultivate a pleasant attitude.
Being humble helps in solidifying your character and how you interact with colleagues.
Cultivate empathy by learning to see things from other people’s point of view.
11. Do you have a Mentor?
Finding a mentor is a great investment. This is a person who has already been there and done that and can offer you advise and guidance based on real-life experience.
A mentor can be able to identify your blind spots and help you to navigate your career and office politics. A mentor will help you to think critically, challenge your assumptions and push you to think bigger and better.
If you are lucky enough, your organization might already have a mentorship program where typically a junior staff is paired with a senior staff member.
You can also identify a senior staff member who you respect, admire and believe can add value to your career growth and request them to take you under their wing as a mentee.
Build a relationship of trust with your mentor and be open to receiving constructive criticism that is aimed at making you a better person.
An ideal mentor should be one who is available for you and encourages you to ask him or her lots of question especially about their own career story.
How did they start out in the career, what challenges did they face, why did they choose this career, what advise do they have for an ambitious professional etc.
You can also look for a mentor outside your organization. Identify your own criteria for who you would like as a mentor and then set out to knock on doors to establish a mentor-mentee relationship.
Introduce yourself through email or telephone, schedule an initial face to face meeting, discuss what you hope to gain from the relationship and set-up mutually agreed targets and regular intervals for check-in/progress meetings.
An additional option is to identify a virtual mentor. This can be a well-known scholar, an author, an executive etc. and usually this person has written books and produced audio CDs and videos of their teachings.
Read their books, listen to the audio CDs and watch the videos for ongoing inspiration. Similarly, read widely about successful people and learn the habits that they employed to become successful in their careers.
If you are open minded enough, you can likewise look for a mentor who is within your peer group – same rank and file.
You might find someone in your same job level who is a super-star employee and they can coach you in new and unique ways that you hadn’t even thought of before.
A mentor can identify your blind spots and help you to navigate your career and office politics.
A mentor will help you think critically, challenge your assumptions and push you to think bigger.
An ideal mentor should have time for you and encourages you to ask them questions.
12. Listen more than you Talk
Active listening is a critical skill that can help you become a master CEO of both your job and in your personal life. Many people are guilty of talking too much.
Learn to listen attentively when talking to a colleague or when in a meeting. Do not just listen with the intention of jumping in and unloading your thoughts.
Do not be high on your own voice.
Genuinely engage in conversations and show attentiveness by nodding, paraphrasing, asking for clarification, asking open ended questions and maintaining eye contact when talking to someone.
Having a pen and a note pad handy is highly recommended and you can write down key points of discussion. You can also take notes using your smart phone or an iPad.
Later on reflect on your notes to improve your understanding and comprehension of the material that was being discussed.
An interesting fact of life is that you can learn from anybody if you just take the time to listen keenly.
Attentive listening is a critical skill in succeeding in your job and your personal life too.
Many people are guilty of talking too much. Please listen attentively. Ask for clarification.
Genuinely engage in conversations, repeat back in your own words & ask open ended questions.
13. Be Self-Driven and Bounce Back from Setbacks
Write down a Personal Mission Statement for your job. This should be brief and specific and guide your daily work behavior. Think about challenges that are currently facing your department or the whole organization.
Figure out what improvements can be made to increase efficiency. Do this out of your own internal self-drive, do not be focused on what personal rewards you will get in return.
Others should be able to describe you using words such as Forward-thinking, Proactive, Persistent, Determined, Dependable, Resourceful, and Accountable.
Naturally, as you work on solidifying your career growth you will face challenges and struggles both professionally and in your personal life.
There will be moments of self-doubt, anxiety, low confidence, second guessing yourself and outright fear. Acknowledge that these bumps on the road are part of the journey.
When you fall down, pick yourself up, bounce back up like a ball, and don’t give up.
Establish a reputation as a go-to person who perseveres and solves problems. By consistently acting in the best interests of your company, your employers will notice you as a potential candidate for future promotion.
Even if you don’t get promoted, all the key improvements that..
This article explores 25 in-depth tips on how to get promoted at work and also reviews what can short circuit your hopes for a job promotion.
Getting a promotion is an exciting milestone in your career. Many people aspire to get promotions at various intervals throughout the course of their careers. Promotions help you to advance in your line of work.
The reality is that promotions are not guaranteed and you have to put in effort to get promoted. So what can you do to increase your odds of getting promoted?
You can quickly skim all the 25 tips on the table of contents below then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
According to the Business Dictionary, a job promotion is defined as “The advancement of an employee within a company position or job tasks. A job promotion may be the result of an employee’s proactive pursuit of a higher ranking or as a reward by employers for good performance. Typically is also associated with a higher rate of pay or financial bonus.”
Things that can change after a promotion include a new boss, new or more responsibilities, increase in pay, change in title, new department, new team members and more authority.
2. Types of job promotion
There are two major types of job promotion:
2.1 When you are advancing or growing within your current job
This is where you grow from one job level to another such as from a manager to a senior manager, from an assistant to a coordinator etc.
These events typically occur during the performance appraisal period based on factors such as good performance or increase in job responsibilities.
This promotion is aimed at motivating staff, rewarding and recognizing their outstanding performance or moving them progressively up the career ladder.
2.2 When you are moving from one job to another within the company
This is where a vacant position arises within the company and it is advertised either publicly, internally or both so that both internal and external candidates can competitively apply.
The job can be in your department or another department and even another branch office or region.
This kind of vacancy arises when someone who was in the particular position is promoted or when someone leaves the company for any reason such as resignation, retirement etc., or when a new job position is created.
3. 7 reasons for wanting a promotion
Why do you want a promotion? Different people have different reasons for why they want a job promotion. Typical reasons include a desire for career growth, need for more challenges and responsibilities and more money.
3.1 Career growth
Each person is ultimately responsible for managing their career growth. After you have written down your career goals, seeking a promotion is an avenue of meeting your career goals faster and growing within your profession.
3.2 More responsibilities
Promotions are sought out by people who are seeking more responsibilities and new challenges in their job.
3.3 Increased income
A promotion can help in the quest for a better pay.
3.4 There is an opportunity
Sometimes a desirable opportunity opens up within an organization that is too good to pass up.
3.5 Ambition and drive
When one has mapped out their career goals and their desired career path, it gives them a sense of what stage they would like to be in their career at any point in time. This roadmap enables the ambitious individuals to work towards opportunities that can help them accomplish their goals quickly.
A promotion can be an antidote for when one is bored with their job and they desire change or want to move to a new role or want to do more meaningful work.
When someone desires to move to a different department or transfer to another region or country, this desire can be fulfilled through a promotion.
4. Things bosses look at to promote staff/Job promotion criteria
Job promotions and new salaries are determined by factors such as:
Company policies on promotion.
Salary bands or ranges for your new position.
Comparable market compensation data.
Historical and current salary of people in similar positions.
Your experience, skills and knowledge.
Your current salary.
Your track record and performance history.
Your level of initiative.
Your educational qualifications.
Your potential to perform at a higher level.
How long you have worked in your current position.
How long you have been in the company.
When you were last promoted.
Availability of promotion positions.
The number and caliber of candidates competing for the available positions.
Your teamwork, cooperation and collaboration skills.
Your boss hearing from others about your good work.
Other criteria such as problem solving, decision making, integrity, people skills, management and leadership abilities.
The company’s financial position and budget available for promotions.
Training and professional development that you have done and applied to improve your performance.
5. Reasons why employees are promoted
Some reasons to promote staff include the following:
To motivate staff.
To increase morale, job satisfaction and work engagement.
To retain talent and top performers.
To reward employees.
To better utilize the skills, knowledge and education of staff at a higher capacity.
To fill vacant job positions.
To encourage loyalty.
To acknowledge and encourage good job performance.
To encourage healthy competition within the organization.
To encourage employees to do more and acquire more skills to move up.
To reduce employee turnover.
6. Selling yourself at work/Tactful self-promotion
You do not necessarily have to loudly trumpet your every move or accomplishments; instead you can strategically sell yourself at work through the following methods:
Let your boss know what exactly you do, what your daily job entails.
Work with other high performers.
Speak up appropriately.
Seek constructive feedback to improve yourself and performance.
Lend a helping hand to others teach others prop others up.
Take pride on doing your job well.
Believe in and have confidence in your abilities.
Get to know your boss as a person.
Ask questions to improve processes and ideas.
Create processes, templates and systems that benefit many and make their work easier.
Share the credit.
Set high standards for yourself.
Increase your expertise, skills and knowledge.
Write articles, blogs, how to videos and manuals.
Give public presentations, speeches and host business events.
Be well prepared when making presentations.
Teach and facilitate workshops.
Stay abreast of technological changes and advancements in your line of work.
Make each day more exciting, more productive and more successful than the previous day.
Lead by example.
Join and participate in a professional association.
7. Supporting your boss
Supporting your boss begins by knowing and understanding your boss’ main goals, priorities and vision.
Endeavor to not only develop a good working relationship with your boss but also maintain good relationships with your colleagues.
Ways of supporting your boss include the following:
Become a low maintenance employee – work well on your own and have initiative.
Report back regularly and keep your boss updated.
Make your boss shine in front of the senior bosses.
Look for the responsibility that everyone is avoiding and find a way to make it work.
Anticipate what your boss needs.
Know your boss’s preferred working style.
Do your homework.
Support your boss by taking good notes during key meetings.
Work well with colleagues and other departments.
Provide good ideas and insights recommendations suggestions.
Actively solicit for and implement feedback from your boss.
Let them hear problems and mistakes from you first.
Propose corrective action when you make mistakes.
Learn new skills.
Stay abreast of industry news, current affairs and trends.
Participate in meetings and help prepare agendas.
Maintain a good relationship with your boss’s boss and other bosses.
Acknowledge and recognize your boss’s contributions and efforts.
Sincerely praise or compliment your boss when he or she accomplishes something great. Bosses need appreciation too. Just ensure that you are not giving insincere flattery.
Tell them what you are good at, what your goals are, what you enjoy doing and areas you want to grow.
Maintain a good relationship with external stakeholders customers, vendors, suppliers and partners.
Have Empathy for your boss. Know that bosses have their own fears, anxieties and insecurities as well. They could also be under tremendous pressure to perform, meet targets and show results.
8. How to ask for a promotion
Basic steps in requesting for a job promotion include: timing, planning, preparing, asking and justifying.
When to ask for a promotion is a nail biting and sometimes even fearful decision. Your timing is important.
If the company is undergoing financial challenges such as staff layoffs, cost-cutting, making losses, losing market share and customers, then it is not a good time to ask for a promotion.
If your work performance is not up to par or exceptional, then the timing is not right. Ensure that you have solid accomplishments to back up your promotion request.
If the timing is right then schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss the promotion.
Assuming that your company is in good financial standing, the ideal time to request for a promotion is at least 3 to 6 months before your annual performance review – to give your boss enough time to propose the promotion raise and have it approved and included in the budget for annual salary adjustments.
If you wait until the annual review meeting to ask for a raise it could be too late because by then the raises have already been decided and approved, you might have to wait until the next annual cycle unless your organization accepts mid-year raises. It is better to ask for a promotion a bit early than too late.
Planning begins from knowing your career goals and mapping out where you want to be in the future.
Find out which job vacancies are available in your company. What specific job do you want? Why? What are the internal application requirements, processes and deadlines?
Research market salary data and be prepared to support your salary request with the data based on your experience skills and educational qualifications and job location.
Talk to people who have been promoted in the past in your company, learn from them what they did to get promoted, ask them what tips they can share to help you get promoted – you might get a useful tip or two.
List down your major accomplishments that strengthen your case for a promotion. Show what extra responsibilities you will be doing and how they will benefit the company.
Update and polish up your resume. Write a customized cover letter or a promotion justification letter.
Sometimes your job might have changed over time. Specify how your job description when you were hired differs from what you are currently doing in other words you could be asking for a promotion for responsibilities that you are already doing.
Before proposing a salary look at salary market data, comparable pay scales for the position you seek.
8.4 Asking and justifying
Discuss with your boss about your desire for a promotion. Mutually discuss what you can do to advance to the next level. Ask what you need to do to get a promotion, what you need to work on, which skills you need to improve etc.
Specifically ask for what you need such as more job responsibilities, a new title and the new salary amount you desire.
Explain why you deserve a promotion. Explain what you will achieve in the new position; show how it will benefit the company.
When asking for a promotion, don’t be overconfident or entitled. Watch your tone and nonverbal communication. Be respectful, professional and pleasant at all times during the meeting – project confidence, smile and maintain good eye contact.
Do not talk about what others are earning or being paid. Focus the case on yourself, do not focus on your personal financial challenges and don’t compare your performance with other staff.
Prepare yourself for a yes or no answer
Seek for feedback and guidance if your request is denied. Listen carefully to what your boss says and take notes, ask about what path you can take to get a promotion in the future. Thank your supervisor for taking time to meet you.
When asking for a promotion remember to genuinely talk about the good things that you like about your current job and what you like about the company.
9. Applying for a better job in your company
When applying for a job vacancy in your company, begin by checking all the available job listings within your company. These could be posted on the company’s website, intranet, notice boards, circulated on email or advertised on external job boards.
Identify a position that suits or interests you then get into job search mode where you polish up, update and customize your resume and cover letter, then begin preparing for an interview. Take the internal job application and interview process very seriously.
Don’t underestimate the competition whether it is internal or external candidates. Do not assume that you are entitled to get the job. Prepare yourself in case of rejection on how to maintain your enthusiasm as you continue working on your current job.
Talk to your boss about your interest in the position. Let your boss know they would be your reference. In some organizations you would need to obtain formal approval from your supervisor in order to apply for an internal position. It could be company policy – a requirement to get approval in writing or clearance from your boss.
Also consider requesting for a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. It acts as an endorsement of your skills, contribution, potential, work ethic and provides relevant examples of your accomplishments. It gives more strength to your application and clearly demonstrates that your boss approves of your career growth goals and is keen to help you succeed in your career.
Outline in your application what have you done in your current position that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Demonstrate your knowledge about the company. Highlight which new ideas you can bring. Show the value that you can bring as an insider and explain that you can settle quickly in your new position based on your insider knowledge.
Promoting from within has ripple effect benefits within the organization because employees see potential for growing in their careers in the future and are motivated and encouraged to stay longer and worker harder and smarter. It improves morale.
10. Interview tips for a job promotion
Job promotion interview questions would be more or less like any other interview where you are applying for a job.
Job promotion interviews should be taken seriously, don’t be overconfident, don’t expect any special treatment and never assume that you have any advantage simply because you work at the company.
You could be competing with external candidates who have thoroughly prepared for the interview and are ready to fight for the opportunity.
Similarly, you might not be only one who wants the promotion from within. You could be competing with colleagues.
Practice common good interviewee behaviors such as arrive for interviews in good time, be smartly dressed, have strong and firm handshake, maintain eye contact, call interviewers by their names, thoroughly research the company, speak clearly, speak with enthusiasm, asked good and well thought out questions and follow- up the interview with a thank you letter.
Interviews are two way streets and the more engaging and enthusiastic a candidate is, the more memorable and likely they are to make a positive impression on the interviewer and possibly lead to a job offer down the road.
Present your case confidently during the interview. Show big wins and practical examples of your accomplishments. Demonstrate thorough understanding of the new role.
Be prepared for a “no” answer and think ahead of time how you will bounce back to continue doing your old role if you don’t get the promotion. As you re-strategize for the next promotion opportunity.
On the other hand if you are offered the position, let your current boss be the first one to know.
You will be interviewed by colleagues, be prepared to tell them all your achievements and do not assume that they already know about what you do and your accomplishments.
11. 10 sample job promotion interview questions and answers
Below are 10 sample job promotion interview questions and guidelines for answering. Ensure that your responses to interview questions are authentic and delivered with the right dose of enthusiasm and positivity.
11.1 Why do you want this promotion?
This is where your passion should come bursting out like a raging river. Mention how thrilled you are for the opportunity to interview for the new position. The enthusiasm should show in your voice.
Highlight what makes you the best candidate for the position. In other words you are explaining why you want the job.
Demonstrate that you have the skills and abilities necessary to succeed in the job.
Mention the specific skills that you have learnt and honed in your current position which you are eager to put to even better use at a higher level position.
Say that you are looking for more challenges. Highlight that the new position offers an opportunity to stretch your capabilities and learn more.
11.2 Why do you want to leave your current position?
Talk about your career progression goals and how the promotion fits within your career goals.
Discuss about how you have done great work at your current position and are eager to continue performing better work for the company at a higher or different position.
Explain that you aim to leave a trail of success in every position that you hold. You could also say that you are looking forward to working with a new team, new department, new region, new area of focus etc.
It is helpful to mention that you have developed strong and positive working relationships with your boss, colleagues, other departments, customers etc. Always strive to leave any position in good terms with all stakeholders.
11.3 What do you like most about your current position?
Be gracious and thankful about the job you currently have. Speak positively about your boss and colleagues.
Express your gratitude for the opportunity to learn new things. Other positive aspects to point out can include flexible working hours, receiving appreciation for your efforts, a supportive manager and stimulating work.
Show pride in the good work you have done for the company.
Talk confidently about the challenges you have overcome in your job. Explain how things were when you started your current job and the specific transformations you have done.
Mention how you have collaborated with others to achieve progress. Mention the new processes, systems or innovations that you contributed in your current role.
11.4 What is your understanding of the responsibilities for the new job?
This question tests your knowledge of the job requirements.
Having taken time to thoroughly read and understand the job description and requirements, you can confidently say in your own words what the position is all about.
In addition link the key responsibilities with what you have done in the past and show how you can do what is required.
Remember to point out your inside knowledge of the company as an advantage that can help you to settle down quickly in your new position.
11.5 What are your major achievements relevant to this role?
Give examples of your past or recent accomplishments that directly relate to the new role.
Explain what the initial situation or challenge was and what actions you undertook to ensure success.
Also you can point out the major problems or decisions you have encountered in your job and what solutions you implemented.
Briefly discuss what the impact or outcome was. Quantify your achievements whenever possible.
Think ahead about what major contributions and ideas you can bring to the new role.
This article discusses 57 common interview questions, answers and examples. It gives tips on how to answer questions that are likely to be asked in many interviews.
The best practice for answering common interview questions is to prepare ahead, think carefully about your answers, internalize and personalize your answers and deliver them in a genuine and enthusiastic way.
You do not want to sound rehearsed, unenthusiastic or inauthentic when responding to interview questions.
The way you respond to interview questions plus what you say, gives the interviewer clues and insight about yourself. It either elevates you as a candidate or diminishes your prospects of getting a job.
The hypothetical examples used in this article are for illustration purposes only and may not reflect your unique interview situation, background or circumstances.
It is unlikely that you will be asked all these questions in one interview however; it is helpful to know, anticipate and prepare for the questions.
It is always prudent to over prepare when it comes to interviews rather than under prepare.
For your ease and convenience, the 57 interview questions have been grouped into 8 simple categories as follows:
(a) About yourself, (b) Your work experience, (c) About the job, (d) About the company, (e) Your working style, (f) Your problem solving abilities, (g) Your reputation, and (h) Interview concluding questions.
I wish you the very best wishes as you prepare for your interview as well as when you attend your interviews.
You can quickly skim all the 57 interview questions on the table of contents below then click on any question to read the answers and examples. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
This question is a common ingredient during interviews.
It is usually among the first questions asked after you have settled down and had any informal pleasantries or chit chat with the interviewer.
Some of the nervousness around this question stems from lack of preparing for it and not thinking through what you want to say.
Think in advance about your strategy for answering. Your key objective should be to provide a clear summary about what you have done and why it makes you a good candidate for the position.
One way to answer the question is to begin by saying what your current title is, where you are working and the major responsibility that you handle.
Then work backwards to mention a few relevant positions you have held.
Briefly point out your educational qualifications and then tie it all together by saying that out of your work experience you have accomplished x and y which are essential for the current job you are interviewing for.
It helps to practice your elevator pitch beforehand. This reduces anxiety when you are in the interview.
You can write down your pitch then time yourself to see how long it takes.
Aim to have it at between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This is a reasonable length.
Do not ramble endlessly about your entire life history. Remember to deliver your pitch at a moderate pace. Do not rush through.
In addition, you do not have to repeat your pitch word for word. Simply internalize major bullet points and speak naturally.
In fact during your practice sessions, you can write down your pitch in bullet points to help you as you practice saying it.
You can also go a step further and record yourself as you say your pitch then play it back and listen to how it sounds.
Do you sound convincing and enthusiastic? Keep tweaking it until you feel the rhythm, delivery and content sounds just right.
“My name is Susan Klein and I am a Product Manager at Company XYZ. I have previously worked as an Assistant Product Manager at both Company ABC and Company DEF. I’ve done a Degree in Product Management.
Out of my 8-year work experience, my greatest accomplishment has been to design, test and launch products in two foreign markets three months ahead of schedule and 25% under budget.
I have made it my personal goal to take time to build solid long lasting business relationships with international suppliers, vendors and partners.
I have even taught myself conversational foreign languages to break communication and trust barriers. I take pride in being able to negotiate production and distribution deals that save a lot of costs.
I will bring the same expertise to your Company as a Product Director, in your quest to launch new product lines in international markets.”
2. What are your major skills?
Your potential employer is very interested in the value that you will bring to the company. One way to demonstrate your value is through the skills that you have acquired.
Before the interview, ensure that you read through the job advertisement one more time to ensure that you remember the exact skills the company is looking for in a candidate.
List down your skills alongside those required. The aim of this exercise is to ensure that you meet or even exceed the required skills.
During the interview confidently discuss about the major skills that you possess and in addition give examples of how you have achieved positive results via your skills.
If you have extra skills than the minimum ones required you can briefly mention that in addition to the skills needed for doing this job you also possess extra skills x and y which you have used in the past to accomplish a and b.
You can also point out the level of your technical skills such as beginner, intermediate or expert.
You could even point out extra certifications in your skills or the fact that you are a master trainer who trains others on specific skills.
You can mention that in the past you have trained others on your skills and they went on to achieve sterling performance.
Employers are interested in staff who are not only knowledgeable but also willing to train others.
“My major skills are in the area of prototype designing for racing cars. I am an expert in designing and supervising the creation of real life molds for racing cars.
Two years ago I headed the design project for a custom made, aerodynamic, twin turbo race car that went on to win the world championship Series XYZ race.”
3. Why should we hire you?
This question asks about what makes you a great candidate for this job? Out of all the candidates who have applied and are being interviewed, what makes you stand out from the rest?
This is where you put on your salesperson hat so to speak and get to work on selling yourself. Have a mental bullet point list of the top five reasons why you should be hired.
Think about why it will be a good deal or advantageous for the company to hire you. Your reasons should focus mostly on the company’s needs and not what you want to benefit from the company.
Mention things such as based on your experience and having worked with similar systems and processes as the company does, you are likely to settle in quickly and hit the ground running.
Highlight how you work well in a team and your ability to support others to achieve shared objectives.
You can say that in addition to the requirements that they are looking for you also bring additional expertise and knowledge that is relevant in the current rapidly evolving and competitive market.
You can mention that you were consistently ranked as a top performer and your output was almost twice as high as other similarly qualified colleagues.
Mention that you are passionate about joining the company, you respect the way they conduct their business, their ranking in the industry, their products and services and you are eager to be part of their ongoing strategy and vision.
At the same time mention that you are eager to do a good job for them and back it with brief examples of good work you have done in the past.
Your passion and enthusiasm should also be evident in your voice as give your top reasons. That is part of the persuasion process.
“I have always loved the world of fashion and your company is one of the most respected fashion houses in the country.
I started my career as an Accountant then went back to school part-time to study Fashion Design. Four years later I made a career switch starting out at the very bottom of the fashion career ladder.
Through my hard work, efforts and tenacity I have risen through the ranks in a relatively short period and I now support the digital content department for a leading fashion magazine.
I have come up with concepts that have helped us reach previously ignored customer groups hence increasing subscriptions and revenues.
I have even written fashion articles during my free time that have been featured in upcoming fashion blogs and magazines.
I am known for working tirelessly to meet editorial deadlines and ensure that I am supporting my colleagues appropriately. I will bring the same indefatigable spirit to your company as an Editorial Manager.”
4. What are your major strengths?
This is perhaps one of the less difficult interview questions. Perhaps your only challenge could be that you have too many options to provide.
There are two main ways of identifying your strengths: the first way involves self-awareness on an individual’s part to know and identify what they are good at and the outstanding traits that they possess.
The second way of identifying your strengths is from third parties such as your boss, colleagues, family and friends. These are people who have worked close with you and have observed how you perform under various circumstances.
They are likely to have insights on what they think you are good at and areas where you excel. In addition, perhaps your boss or colleagues have complimented you on specific things that you do.
Especially if different people keep complimenting you on the same quality that could mean it is one of your dominant traits.
When you are asked what your main strengths are, you can describe yourself in one or more words such as organized, punctual, responsive, focused, dependable, resilient, resourceful, knowledgeable, flexible, proactive, competitive, decisive, creative, innovative, compassionate etc.
Then think of an example or examples to support each of the traits above. The traits and examples that you choose should be relevant to and support the job you are interviewing for.
It is best to have a mental checklist of your top 3 traits and short stories or examples to support these traits.
Your short stories can mention things such as the problems that you have solved, revenue increased, processes improved, costs reduced, new ideas generated, new customers acquired etc.
In addition, you can also describe your strengths using a functional work activity that you do very well such as coding, designing, driving, cooking, researching, investigating, reporting, writing, coordinating, analyzing etc.
“I am organized, dependable and responsive.
As an Executive Assistant to three very busy Vice Presidents, each of my work days is different and more challenging than the previous one.
I ensure that all the VP’s calendars and appointments are properly booked, prepare draft presentations and reports on technical information, write and circulate accurate minutes in a timely manner and make local and international travel arrangements.
I even stay up late at night to put out fires across different time zones when a VP is stranded in a foreign country that is 12 hours ahead of us or has last minute schedule adjustments.
My supervisors have come to trust and depend on me for all their administrative needs and I have received numerous accolades from them over the past few years.
They have made it known across the company about how satisfied and happy they are with my work. I am eager to bring this same level of passion and results to this position.”
5. What are your major weaknesses?
The last thing you would want to do is to mention that you have no weaknesses. Nobody is perfect, everyone has one form or another of weaknesses.
What is important is being honest with yourself and self-aware enough to know and acknowledge your weaknesses and take mitigating steps to either eliminate the weakness or take steps to keep it under control.
When answering this question, you need to walk a fine line between being honest and being careful not to shoot yourself on the foot such as an outright weakness that can put a red flag on your chances of getting the job.
“One of my weaknesses is being too quiet and socially shy. My supervisor even pointed this out as an area for improvement during one of my past performance reviews.
She mentioned that it was very important for me to network and form strong social bonds with staff from other departments and I was challenged to attend more company-wide activities and proactively interact with others.
Although it has not been a matter of flipping a switch and making an instant transformation from being quiet to an extrovert, I have been taking baby steps and putting myself out there, interacting more with others, striking up conversations, participating in company activities, volunteering in events such as organizing staff baby showers and planning birthday celebrations.
As a result of these efforts colleagues from other departments are gradually warming up to me and I have even been invited to participate in a few highly visible cross-departmental projects.”
6. What are your major accomplishments?
Here is where your brilliance shines.
This is an opportunity for you to showcase the great things that you have done in your current and previous jobs such as teams led, decisions made, problems solved, processes improved, revenues generated etc.
It is important to ensure that the accomplishments you talk about are related to the job you are applying for.
You can also give examples of accolades, honors and awards such as being recognized as staff of the year, receiving a certificate of good or long service, receiving an industry award and getting featured on a newspaper, radio or television.
The interviewer should be able to make a correlation between what you have done and what they are looking for in a candidate.
Make the interviewer’s job as easy as possible by discussing about an accomplishment and then matching it with a specific job requirement.
Think about and even write down your top three accomplishments at the jobs you have held.
Prepare to discuss what the situation was before, during and after.
Using a storytelling format, explain your achievement starting at the end of the story then work backwards to the beginning.
In other words briefly state what you accomplished or the final result, then talk about how you accomplished it and conclude by detailing what the prior or initial situation was before your intervention or involvement.
“One of my greatest and proudest accomplishments is successfully planning and executing two major events within one month of starting a new job.
This happened three years ago when I was hired as an Events Coordinator at Company XYZ.
During my first week on the job my boss informed me that we should plan for two high profile events which were to be held back-to-back, one day apart, within a month’s time.
The meetings were to be held at two separate venues 60 miles apart.
The following few weeks were a frenzy of activity. There I was a new employee trying to figure out the telephone codes and at the same time calling and inviting key business leaders to attend one of our events.
On the other hand I was booking hotel venues, securing accommodation for participants, discussing menu preferences, making transport arrangements, preparing name tags, preparing and printing meeting materials, and assembling printouts and meeting materials into binders for two separate events simultaneously.
In addition, I was handling requests from the meeting facilitators, following up with participants who had not RSVP’d and also regularly updating my boss on how everything was coming along.
It was a whirlwind of activity within a short time frame and I was doing all this alone with expert guidance from my boss.
The two events went off successfully with over 100 participants attending. Although I was exhausted at the end of it all, I felt very happy about the accomplishment.”
7. What are your educational qualifications?
Job advertisements usually highlight the minimum academic qualifications for a specific job vacancy.
Most job listings will specify the educational level required such as GED, High School Diploma, Associate Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree etc.
Some employers even explicitly state on the job listing that you should not apply if you do not have the minimum education level required.
You should not only talk about the academic qualifications received and from where but also talk about what motivated you to choose your area of study.
Remember to explain whether you have graduated, if your study is ongoing or incomplete.
Highlight how your education has prepared you for the jobs that you have done as well as for the job you are interviewing for. Mention any honors that you have.
Point out any relevant or significant experiences, lessons and insights that you would like to share. For instance if you did a research study or thesis that gave you insight into the inner workings of the real world..
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