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What is Business Communication?

communication in business

Knowing how you communicate helps you understand yourself and others better while making you a more effective and productive interactor in the world.

What is Business Communication?

Business communication refers to any communication that goes on within a professional setting. This includes presenting information in meetings, brainstorming in a team, or problem solving with your coworkers.

Why is Communication in Business Important?

Whether you are a large or small business owner, good communication is always good for business. Effective business communication can also help with employee engagement.

A survey was done with 400 different companies and 100,000 total employees, and they found that each company lost an average of $62.4 million in profits because of poor communication. That’s a lot of lost profits all because of bad communication. But these losses can be easily prevented by taking the time to learn about how you and those around you communicate.

Types of Business Communication

types of business communication
 

By understanding the different types of communication you can know better how to utilize the different communication forms to your advantage. There are 2 primary forms of communication, verbal and nonverbal. Verbal is going to include talking out loud to each other, whether in person, on the phone, or over a video call. Nonverbal includes body language and writing.

Verbal

Verbal communication is the standard face to face type of communication. It can also be communicating through things like conference calls or a phone call. Choose your words and tone of voice wisely and appropriately for the person and the situation. Don’t use terminology they won’t understand, and don’t overload them with lots of verbal information all at once. We tend to only remember the last parts of what we hear, so either make that the most important thing, or include note taking.

The trick to verbal communication is taking the other person’s perspective into account so that they will understand your words as you intend them. This is why reading articles like this one, to understand others better, is paramount to becoming an effective communicator.

Nonverbal

Body language is all about how you physically present yourself, and what others can observe or assume from your outer appearance and demeanor. Our facial expressions can also offer subtle cues to an observer of what we’re thinking or feeling. If you want to seem open and confident, don’t cross your arms over the front of your body, practice good back posture, make eye contact, and dress appropriately for how you wish to be received.

Technical Communication

One form of communication you may need to be familiar with in your job is technical communication.

Technical communication can be when you need to talk about technology or other specialized subjects in your field.

It can also be when you use technology, like slides, to communicate effectively.

And finally, technical communication can also be when you need to communicate instructions. Giving instructions comes with it’s own set of rules and guidelines so that you can be clear when offering a step by step process.

In many professional fields employers and employees alike will need to have a measure of skill utilizing technical communication in order to effectively share information in their area of expertise.

Communication Styles

communication styles
 

Many people have researched and studied the different styles of communication we all use. They have found differences in communication styles between genders, generations, and cultures.

Multiple researchers have attempted to categorize communication types into 4 or 5 main groups, but the truth is, communication is such a vast and complicated aspect of human interaction that truly defining it into a handful of categories is near impossible. For the sake of simplicity we will divide communication styles into 2 sections that can often overlap.

Logic-Based

People who base their communications in logic can get a bad rap from other people for being heartless or cold. But details and figures are just the way they best understand the world around them, just as an emotion-based communicator make sense of the world through their intuition. Logical communicators are a major asset to your business as they will keep your projects focused.

  • Focus on facts, numbers, data
  • They make their decisions based on figures rather than how they feel about the choices
  • They are great researchers
  • Detail oriented
  • They like the process of things and breaking large tasks into small ones
Emotion-Based

Emotional communicators like to rely on their intuition to make decisions. They make sense of the world around them through their instincts and emotions. Emotional communicators can be a great asset in connecting your business to your customers and creating the kind of environment that welcomes consumers and coworkers alike.

  • Rely on intuition, instinct, gut feelings
  • Focus on the big picture goal or main idea of what you want to accomplish
  • They are often creative and good at brainstorming
  • Social
  • They care about human connection and thus have strong interpersonal skills
  • They are often the diplomatic peacekeepers in their group
Passive

Passive communicators don’t communicate very well. They are the people who go with the flow. If you have a peacekeeper personality you might be guilty of being a passive communicator. They have trouble expressing themselves, or voicing their own opinions and feelings.

This kind of communication is a problem because it can lead to a build up in stress and it keeps you from offering your insights. It can also lead to misunderstandings in communication because others are forced to assume your thoughts or stance on things rather than hearing it from yourself.

The benefit of a passive communicator though, is that they are great listeners and can be great confidants and peacekeepers in the office.

Aggressive

Aggressive communicators are the opposite of passive communicators. They are on the other side of the spectrum, where they always say what’s on their mind. They are often described as demanding, authoritarian, and dominate and control the conversation.

The problem with aggressive communicators is they can be seen as rude, have a hard time listening or letting others get a word in edge-wise.

But the benefit of aggressive communicators is that they can make great leaders and get things done. They aren’t afraid to delegate.

Passive-Aggressive

Passive aggressive communicators are inwardly aggressive communicators, and outwardly passive. They have so much they want to say, but never do, whether out of fear or a lack of control. But their aggressive communicator side breaks free in subtle ways, but the communication is never completely clear or direct.

Assertive

The most ideal form of communication is assertive. When you are an assertive, you communicate openly without dominating the conversation too much. Assertive communicators have found the balance between passive and aggressive communicating.

They know when to listen, and when to speak up.
If you are interested in finding out what type of communication style you naturally favor, you can take this communication style quiz from glassdoor.

Business Communication Skills

skills and techniques
 

Now that you have a better understanding of the types and styles, we can move on to the techniques you can use to better your communication practices.

Don’t be afraid of silence

You can learn a lot from silence. Silence gives the other person in the conversation full opportunity to finish their thoughts, or add important details. This way you don’t miss any important contributions the other person might have.

Being comfortable with silence will also help people feel more comfortable and at ease conversing with you because it teaches you to be a less nervous conversationalist if you’re not worried about filling silence.

Ask questions

Learning to ask the right questions can be the key to really effective communication. Asking questions also shows you have personal interest in the topic or people a part of the conversation.

Stay current

Being learned will help you to have more meaningful conversations, and it will make you a more helpful asset in general in your workplace.

Manage your stress

Nothing leaves you more muddled in the head than when you’re stressed out. When you manage your stress properly, your mind will be clear, focused, and you’ll be better able to make decisions and think clearly.

Avoid filler words

Filler words are any words, phrases, or sounds that get used too often in speech. Many times filler words are subconsciously used to fill pauses in between thoughts. Becoming comfortable with silence will also help you with this communication technique.

Some examples of filler words include: um, like, uh, ah, ok, you know, yeah.

Learn and use people’s names

People really appreciate it when their names get used and remembered. By putting forth an effort to learn and use names you’ll make a friendly and amiable impression on anyone you meet. Showing that you can remember names also shows those around you that you have a good memory.

Use “I” statements

Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements is a great communication tactic. Using “you” in your speech can sometimes come off as demanding, or accusatory, which will cause others to clam up or get on the defensive when talking to you. So rephrase your speech to avoid using “you” too much so that you don’t come across as accusing.

For some other tips and tricks to communicating effectively, check out a business communication PDF:

Communication is a giant part of good business. At your job you’ll need to brainstorm, work in groups, and solve problems by communicating effectively with your coworkers, subordinates, and superiors.


READ MORE

If you need help finding a career first read, “How to Choose a Career.”

If you need even more tips for great communication read, “What is Communication?

Read a book all about technical communication, Technical Communication: a reader-centered approach

Check out this business communication book, Speak with No Fear


How to Make a Good Resume

make a resume

Resumes are a very important part of the job application process. A resume is often the first impression you’ll make on an employer and can be what gets your foot in the door and gets you that interview!

 
What is a Resume?
Create a Master Resume
Resume Sections

Design a Resume
How to Make a Resume for a First Job
How to Make a Resume for College
How to Make a Cover Letter for a Resume
 

Job seekers everywhere are panicking about how to make an effective resume so they can start seeing success from their job searching. Even if you’re just starting out in your field you still want a professional resume that will clearly show any hiring manager what you can bring to the table.

What is a Resume?

A resume comes from the French word, résumé, meaning outline. Now we spell it without the accents and use it to refer to an outline of our work history, expertise, and skills.

Resume is pronounced re-zeh-may, or “re-zə-mā” if you understand the phonetic alphabet. Either way you can easily listen to the pronunciation of the word at Merriam-Webster.com.

Resume Objective

The objective of a resume is to show a potential employer, an easy-to-read, brief outline of why you qualify for the job. They want to see a quick glance at your career, accomplishments, and what skills and qualifications you’ve gained so far.

It is a formal document showing your professional life thus far, that a potential employer uses to make an educated decision about whether you merit an in-person interview or not. When creating a resume you’ll want to make sure it includes all the information an employer would need to make this decision.

Create a Master Resume

It’s a good idea to create a master resume where you simply write everything you could ever put on a resume. This can also be considered a curriculum vitae (CV)—a lengthier version of a resume that isn’t meant to be an overview, but instead a thorough outline of all your experience, certifications, awards, achievements, projects, and publications. A CV or master resume, is meant to be a complete history of your academic and professional career, endeavors, and accomplishments. You want to keep a copy of your master resume, or CV, because different jobs are going to necessitate you include different information, depending on the job.

For instance, if you’re applying for a job where you’ll be designing someone’s website, you won’t need to include the cashier job you had as a teenager. But if you’re applying for a job in customer service, then the employer will want to know that you have that customer service experience as a cashier.

You also only want your resume to be a page long, but a resume with absolutely all the experience you’ve ever had in your life is going to eventually be longer than a page, so keeping all this information in one place on your master resume is a good idea to have as a reference.

resume example

Resume Sections

There are a few key sections that go into every professional resume. Once you have a master resume to work from you can start putting everything into these main sections.

Personal Info

Somewhere near the top of your resume, you want to put your name on the center stage of your resume so the employer can easily know right away who they are looking at. Then you can kind of introduce yourself briefly by including a personal bio section that may list your personal interests and hobbies. If you’re including a cover letter on the front of your resume, you can also put this personal introduction there instead.

Contact Info

You’ll also want to include your preferred contact information on your resume. This information is usually so that they can contact you in case they want to offer you a job interview, so make sure you put down the best way for them to contact you for this. Usually this includes your phone number and email address.

Your email address on a resume should be simple and professional. If you don’t already have an email username with your name instead of a TV reference, then it’s time to make one for professional purposes like this.

You can also include other ways for them to get to know you and see your qualifications if those apply for you. If you have a personal website, or an online portfolio you can include that here too. You can also include any professional accounts you have, like your LinkedIn profile.

Experience

Here is where you outline your job history. You don’t necessarily need to include every job you’ve ever had, sometimes it makes more sense to show the work experience that most applies to the job you’re applying for now.

You also want to list your work experience in reverse chronological order, meaning that the job you had most recently goes first, and the oldest job experience goes last. This way you are putting the most relevant information, the most recent and therefore most applicable information up front.
When listing each job you’ll want to include the following information:

  • Job title (the title you had at this job)
  • Company name
  • Location
  • Job description (what were your main duties at this job, and what did you accomplish there)
Education

This section is where you outline your education. Many people have questions about what to include and not include in the education section, like when do you stop putting your high school education on your resume? Once you have a bachelors or associates degree you are usually ok to stop including your high school education on your resume.

Your high school education is a basic education that everyone receives, so there really isn’t anything specific about it that applies to your future job. And once you’ve officially gained some form of higher education an employer can easily assume you also have a high school education, but it’s what you did in your higher education, what you studied and learned specifically there, that interests them now.

  • When listing your education you want to include the following:
  • The name of the school
  • The years you were there
  • What degree you have (associates, bachelors, masters) and in what

If you haven’t finished college yet you can include your estimated future graduation date and what you are studying, meaning your majors and minors.

Achievements

You don’t have to just put down jobs that you’ve had though, also put down any other achievements, accomplishments, awards, or community involvement that might be important for employers to know. If you’ve published anything before here is the place to list that. Any volunteer work you’ve done. Any licenses, certificates, or other special training you may have, including if you speak another language.

Skills

When making your skills section the first thing you want to do is look into what skills are involved in the job you’re looking for. Job ads usually list the kinds of skills they are looking for in an applicant. If any of these skills apply to you be sure to include them.
The skills section should include both hard and soft skills.

Hard skills are specific abilities and knowledge that you have, like knowing how to use Photoshop.

Soft skills are useful attributes, like being organized or friendly.

Then, if you have room, don’t just list these skills, but provide examples to show how you do indeed have these skills. These examples can also be included on your cover letter instead, where you’ll have more room to tell key experiences that prove you have these skills.

For example, if one of your skills is that you know how to use Photoshop, you can also say that you used Photoshop to design a poster in your most recent job. Or if you list that you are organized, you can briefly talk about how you created a new filing system at your last job.

Design a Resume

You can make your resume on Microsoft Word, on Google Docs, or even online. Both Microsoft Word and Google Docs have free-to-use resume templates that can also work as good examples of how to professionally format your resume.

Resume Template Websites

How you design your resume is how you’re going to make your resume stand out. But this doesn’t mean you should make your resume flashy, in fact you should do the opposite. Your resume’s audience doesn’t want to be distracted by too many colors or graphics, they want to focus first on the information that is most important, so center your design around the information itself.

Create a Path for the Eye to Follow

You want your resume to be easy to read. One way to accomplish this is to create a path for your reader to follow. We read left to right, so this path tends to make a kind of Z shape on the page.

Make it Organized

Use bullet points to help organize your lists. Use headings with a clear heading hierarchy so the sections and subsections are clear.

Use a 10–12 Point Font Size

This way your font size won’t be too small to read, but it also won’t be silly looking by being too large.

How to Make a Resume for a First Job

If you are making a resume for a first job then you may not have a lot of experience yet to fill out your work history. A resume for someone just entering the job arena is often called an entry-level resume or a student resume if you are still going through school.

But the experience section of your resume isn’t just for your work history. You can put all kinds of other useful experiences there as well. You can list programs, clubs, and organizations you’ve been a part of, or volunteer work you’ve done. For example, you may not a previous job to list in the experience section, but maybe you were the president of the horticultural club, or the lead flutist in the concert band. You can replace your work experience with these types of high school experiences instead.

Another approach you can take to fill out your resume as an inexperienced student is to make your resume more skill focused than experience focused. If you can’t list any jobs than you can list different skills you have and describe how you gained those skills.

You can list your high school experiences in the same way you would list a job, including the following information:

  • Your Title (Volunteer, Club Secretary)
  • Company/Organization Name (National Honors Society)
  • Location
  • Description (what were your main duties, what did you accomplish)

How to Make a Resume for College

If you’re in college, or freshly out of college, you may also run into a unique problem when creating a resume. Your experience section is also going to look different because you may not have a lot of jobs to list. But college provides tons of exceptional experiences that you can include in a resume instead of jobs. You can list internships you’ve done, or apprenticeships. You can talk about capstone classes and the major projects and research you did for these key courses, and show how these classes have prepared and trained you for a job. You can also talk about any programs, clubs, and organizations you were apart of during your college career.

In the accomplishments section, be sure to include all the certifications you’ve received while in school. Today, successfully obtaining degrees and certificates from your college classes can mean a lot to a potential employer. If you received any awards, special honors, or published your work in a student journal you can include these kinds of accomplishments as well. You can even include your GPA in your college resume if you have a particularly high GPA to boast about.

How to Make a Cover Letter for a Resume

It is always a good idea to include a cover letter when you send an employer your resume. A cover letter is formatted like a formal letter consists of these main points,

  • Your name
  • Your contact information
  • The date
  • Professional greeting
  • A brief paragraph about yourself
  • A paragraph or two for key experiences where you prove your skills
  • Conclusion
  • Professional closing



To create a winning resume all you have to do is follow the advice in this article and remember the whole point of a resume—to show what you have to offer in a brief, clear, straightforward way. Meanwhile, if you’re in between jobs and need some financial help, feel free to check out Check City’s Personal Loans.



READ MORE
Check out another great article about writing a resume, “How to Make a Resume for a Job.”

Read another Check City article about getting a new job, “New Year, New Job.”

7 Tips for Workplace Wellness

tips for workplace wellness
 
In order to take good care of your work you first have to take good care of yourself. Taking care of your well-being will not only help you in life, but it will help you in the office as well.

  1. Get Quality Sleep
  2. Fuel Your Body Effectively
  3. Exercise
  4. Prevent Eye Strain
  5. Decorate Your Desk
  6. Learn to Unwind
  7. Have Pursuits Outside of Work

Believe it or not, but even an office job can have its own hazards. You may not think about it but everything from vending machine food and sitting all day can cause serious health problems. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to combat these workplace hazards and increase office wellness. This can mainly be done by having a work-life balance. Everyone always seems to be talking about having a good work-life balance, but what does this balance really mean? Ultimately your wellness at work is about taking care of your physical and mental health.
 

Take Care of Your Body

physical well-being
 

Get QUALITY Sleep

Sleep is a factor that greatly affects your performance throughout the day as well as your physical and mental well-being. But it isn’t enough to just go to bed and hope for the best. You don’t just want enough sleep you want quality sleep. There are ways you can optimize your sleep so that you are getting the most out of your nights.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time

This will help your body to adjust to a regular schedule. Once your body is used to this schedule falling asleep each night and waking up each morning will become much easier. Set an alarm or reminder for when you need to start getting ready for bed to help you learn to wind down at the same time each night.

Stay hydrated

You actually get dehydrated as you sleep which can cause a dry and hoarse throat in the morning, leg cramps during the night, and an overall lack of quality sleep. You lose hydration in the night through breathing or a dry or warm environment in your bedroom. Another thing that can cause night dehydration is exercising late in the evening. To combat this issue, hydrate yourself well throughout the day, keep a water bottle on your nightstand, and keep your room temperature on the colder side with a humidifier turned on while you sleep.

Fuel Your Body EFFECTIVELY

Your body is like a complicated machine and in order to work at top performance levels and feel its very best your body needs fuel that it can work with. There are a lot of foods out there today that might be quick, easy, and immediately filling, but they won’t provide your insides with the proper nutrients to function at full capacity and eventually you’ll feel this as you feel more and more lethargic throughout the workday. You can fuel your body with a lot of things, but only certain nutrients will give you effective nourishment to give you optimal health and energy.

Eat wholesome meals

Make healthy meals at home and take healthy meals with you to work. Many of your coworkers might be going out to eat every day and though this might be fun in the short term it probably isn’t beneficial in the long term. Healthy homemade lunches will improve your physical wellness and improve your spending! You can also start bringing in healthier treats for your coworkers to help improve workplace wellness as a whole.

Eat wholesome snacks

If your stomach is growling for the majority of the day, you will likely crash before the end. Make sure you have the right nourishment going into your body and it will pay off. Even simple snacks can help keep you going between meals. Nuts, fruits, and cut up vegetables can really give you the energy you need to make it through the day.

Cut down on sugars

One of the biggest issues office workers fight on a typical workday is lethargy. Sugar intake can be one of the major contributing factors to your lethargy. Take note of the sugar content of what you are consuming in a regular day and you’ll see how prevalent this ingredient has become in a lot of our foods.

Then remember, while you pick your foods each day, that each gram of sugar adds to unpleasant feelings like bloating and tiredness. Make sure you take these tips to heart in order to keep your body happy and healthy throughout the workday and throughout your life. You will be grateful when you still have energy after retirement!

Stay hydrated

You would be shocked to know how much staying hydrated can improve your workplace wellness. There is nothing more important than drinking enough water throughout the day. It doesn’t matter whether it is summer or winter, your body is made up mostly of water and you need to continually replenish it. Don’t wait till you are thirsty to start drinking. It is much better to have a set amount that you plan on drinking throughout the day.

In general it is advised that you drink 8 glasses of water a day. It can help to have a designated water bottle that you keep with you throughout the day to drink from. If you have trouble getting yourself to drink enough water each day try drinking with a reusable straw. This can make drinking enough liquids faster and easier. Another thing you can do is put things in your water to make drinking water more fun! You can add cut up fruits and vegetables, mint leaves, and many other things to your water to make staying hydrated healthy, tasty, and fun.

Exercise

Exercise may seem like a dauntingly intense habit to get into, but it’s actually one of the easiest ways to boost your well-being because any amount of it will help. Even if you only go out of your way to exercise 20 minutes on weekdays, that’s still better than no exercise at all.

The average person is advised to get 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity into each week. This averages out to be around 30 minutes a day. Thirty minutes really isn’t asking too much of your time and there are a million ways you can get this 30 minutes of physical activity into your day without having to do crazy intense workout sessions at the gym. You can simply go on a walk, plan a hike for the weekend, go swimming, biking, or take a physical class like dancing or yoga.

Put Exercise on the Agenda

You can implement a routine of exercise into your day before or after work. Getting yourself to exercise will be easier if you schedule it into a specific time of day. In fact, a study found that working out at the same time each day made exercise more effective.

Work Out at Work!

You can also find ways to grab some exercise while you’re at work! There are hundreds of exercises you can do at your desk. Everything from simple stretches to replacing your chair with a stability ball can greatly improve your health.

Whatever you choose to do, change things up and get your body moving as much as possible. By the end of the day when most of your coworkers are crying about sore backs and tired limbs, you will be ready to keep going with your day.

Office Friendly Exercises

  • Practice good posture
  • Leg raises
  • Chair dips
  • Use weights at your desk
  • Ab workouts with your swivel chair, or stability ball
  • Lean on your desk to do planks or pushups
  • Use a standing desk
  • Go for a walk around the building
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Prevent Eye Strain

If you work in an office chances are you also get a lot of screen time at work. Staring at screens all day can put a strain on your eyes and even cause headaches and nausea after a while. But you can help prevent eye strain by getting a blue light filter on your screen, or blue light filter glasses to wear at work. It is also a good idea to take a break or two from your screen while at work to give your eyes a rest.
 

Take Care of Your Mind

mental well-being
 

Decorate Your Desk

Decorating your desk will make you happier, and liven up your workspace. You can get plants, you can set up some photos, you can decorate with cool looking bulletins and white boards, or splurge on a special mug or thermos just for your desk.

Learn to Unwind

You don’t have to pay for an expensive spa to still have your own personal spa day. There are endless things you can do to unwind and everyone relaxes in different ways. For some people relaxing may include hanging out with friends and going out. For others, relaxing may mean staying home, taking a warm bath, watching TV, or reading a good book. In order to learn how to unwind you need to learn more about yourself and what relaxation techniques work best for you.

  • Learn about mediation
  • Keep a journal
  • go outdoors
  • listen to music
  • have a spa night
  • read a book

Have Pursuits Outside of Work

It will give you a special sense of accomplishment to have your own personal pursuits outside of your job. And if you need help with funds to make your club or go on a weekend getaway you can use a Check City Personal Loan!

  • Volunteer
  • Join a book club
  • Start your own group or club
  • Join a recreational or intermediate sports team
  • Make personal goals
  • Plan vacations and getaways
  • Take a class

Having workplace wellness is all about having a work-life balance. Having a work-life balance is all about taking care of both your body and mind. If you remember these key principles of taking good care of yourself than not only will your life and health improve, but you will actually become more successful and productive at work as well!


READ MORE
Read “Workplace Wellness” from Mental Health America (MHA) to learn more ways you can improve the overall well-being of your employees.

Read an NPR report about how effective wellness programs are in the article, “How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?

Read an article from Corporate Wellness Magazine called, “What is Workplace Wellness Really? “ to learn more about what workplace wellness means.

For more tips about workplace wellness, see our article, “How to Stay Healthy at Work.”

4 Investments Worth Making

worthwhile investments
 
With the Up’s and Down’s the economy has experience over the last several years, many people have been left asking the question, “Are there any truly safe investments that can be made these days?” In today’s post we’ll cover the top 4 investments that are still worth making.

1: A House

house investment
 
A home is one of the most worthwhile investments you will ever make, and what an investment that will be. It may take you decades to pay off your house, but the nice thing about houses is that they increase with value over time.

The value of real-estate rises over time like the value of a car falls, it’s predictable. Your investment will pay itself off and more should the need ever arise to move or sell.

With that in mind, any land you may own will have the same effect. As the amount of available land decreases, prices for land that you own increase.

It’s the law of supply and demand. The less supply available, the more someone is willing to spend when the demand rises. With that being said, be wise when it comes to making your home purchase as well as the improvements that you make during your time living there.

As we learned in 2007 there can sometimes be artificial inflation that happens in the housing market, buying during those times can lead to severe financial turmoil. In addition to being careful when you buy, be careful what improvements you make, understand that some improvements such as landscaping don’t give you as much bang for your buck when it comes time to sell as a remodeled kitchen or bathroom.

2: A Steady Stock

stock investment
 
Certain stocks have shown steady, predictable growth over the years and are therefore, safer to invest in. Oftentimes the growth is slow, but it always moves in the positive direction.

When you plan on putting aside money for a number of years, consider investing it in a steady stock instead of a bank. Your money will appreciate better in an investment rather than a holding cell.

3: An Education

education investment
 
If you don’t have a post-secondary degree yet, get one. On average, salaries take drastic turns for the better with every degree you get. You are worth more when you have learned more. You come to the table with more to offer, and are therefore a competitive employee. If a company wants you, they’re going to have to pay to keep you.

That’s the beauty of an education. It represents quite the financial investment, but the jobs and salaries that follow are well worth the time. They more than pay themselves off with time. If you have one already, see if there’s anything more that you can be doing to increase yours, ie. attending conferences and keeping up with recent literature.

4: Invest in a Friend

invest in people
 
There is untold power in investing in the people around you.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the people that give more and the people that earn more. Some say it comes from a social responsibility. When you’ve been given so much, you are responsible to give to others. The more you give, the more you’re blessed with. Others will say it’s a weird coincidence. Science can’t figure it out, but the phenomenon remains.

The more you invest in the people around you, the more money you are likely to make. You will never know though until you give it a shot. On top of that, you’ll be doing something to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether you give them a fish and feed them for a day, or teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime, the results will be the same.

For one, you’ll help someone, someone that needs help like you’ve needed in your life. For another, you’ll share an excellent example to those that might continue the legacy themselves (like your children).

Finally, and least importantly, you’ll feel great about what you did—changing someone’s life. Invest in the people and community around you. This doesn’t always mean you invest monetarily. Many times it will simply be getting to know someone new, offering a listening ear, or showing someone that’s ignored that you care. No other investment will give you the return of investing others. This is the best investment you will ever make.


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Take a look at “Planning Investments while Budgeting” to learn more about how you can include your worthwhile investments in your budget.

11 Important Qualities to Have When Changing Careers

career-qualities
 

 
In order to keep up with the changing job market and stand out from all the other eager job candidates, it helps to have the qualities of a successful professional. Whether you are changing careers or looking to start one, these skills are what every employer in every field looks for when interviewing candidates. In order to succeed in today’s changing job market, workers have to foster new skills and hone in basic ones. Whether you are 25 or 40, starting your career or changing it, here are some great career changing qualities that will make you stand out from other job candidates.
 

 

1: Work Well in Groups

Be a team player! In almost every work environment you will have to work with others to some degree. Employers want to create a productive and peaceful work environment where coworkers not only get along, but work well together. So when you demonstrate your ability to work with a team, you increase your attractiveness as an employee. Working well with others also creates a sense of unity and helps productivity in the workplace.

Understanding Generational Differences

When entering the workforce you will quickly see that there are often generational differences between coworkers. Anyone from Generation Z to Baby Boomers may be present in your next place of work and—as Sarah Sladek has found in her studies—there are distinct cultural differences between each generation. In order to avoid generational misunderstandings, it is important to get along and understand your coworkers as well as help them understand you. After all, a peaceful work environment is a productive work environment.

It’s easy to have a lot of prejudice toward people who see so differently from you. One of those differences we all can experience is generational. There are currently 4 defined generations listed below from oldest to youngest:
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
Baby Boomers have been raised to follow tradition. They care about families and economic security.
Generation X (born between 1965 and 1981)
Generation X was raised during the women and civil rights era. Their time was before childcare programs which gave them the nickname “latch-key children,” meaning they were raised to be self-sufficient and independent thinkers. They care about a work-life balance and seeing a positive impact from their work.
Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1982 and 1995)
According to media expert Sarah Sladek, Generation Y is a tech savvy, globally minded generation that isn’t joining, buying, networking, learning or engaging like other generations. This generation experienced many firsts, firsts to use technology. They want frequent feedback, want variety in their work. They avoid tradition for the sake of tradition. They’re eager to learn and lead. And they like to reexamine to keep things relevant and future focused.
Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2009)
Generation Z is the newest and youngest named generation right now. They are also referred to as the connected generation because they haven’t known life pre-internet. They are a creative, entrepreneurial group that care about social causes.
 
For some people differences can be a huge roadblock in a working relationship. This often happens because people take differences as a personal offence. But we all see with different eyes and when accepted, this can be a team’s greatest advantage. You alone can’t experience and see everything, but together, with many perspectives, your team can SEE and therefore DO much more than any individual.

Generational differences are also not the only difference you’ll come across in the workplace. Everyone was raised differently, comes from different places, backgrounds, and beliefs. Knowing how to interact and work with all kinds of different people will make you a useful asset to any working team, and an all-around better human being.

So let people be different. Let everyone bring their own unique selves to the table and your arsenal for combatting projects and problems will be that much more impressive and diverse.

2: Giving and Receiving Criticism

In the workplace you’ll need to learn how to embrace and use criticism to your advantage. You also might need to know how to effectively give criticism as well. You should embrace every bit of criticism as an opportunity for insights on how to improve. Even the worst given criticism can have something useful that you can take advantage of. It may be hard to hear small, nitpicky ways you can improve. But when you allow yourself to use criticism, you can develop new skills that will help you climb the professional ladder and improve yourself as a person.
criticism

How to Give Feedback

Sometimes your job will require you to give feedback to others. The whole point of giving feedback is that you want to see something improve. Whether it’s actions or a project, you are simply invested in making something the best it can be. Your feedback needs to be helpful, effective, and clear. Here are 4 quick steps to make sure you don’t leave someone more confused by your feedback, rather than giving them the insight and direction you intended.
First, ask what IS working.
This isn’t just to make people feel good about what they are doing, or soften the blow of what you don’t like, though it can do these things too and that’s an added bonus. But if people don’t know what is working then they might end up changing things they shouldn’t. Make sure they also know what is working.
Second, ask what’s NOT working.
This part of giving feedback is rather obvious. But remember to not let yourself make the interaction overly emotional or personal while giving feedback about what isn’t working.
Be clear and specific.
Vague criticism is not helpful criticism. A subordinate or team member can’t improve if you are too ambiguous in an attempt to not hurt feelings. For example, if a team member is working on a design, don’t just say, “It could be better.” Instead figure out what specifically about it isn’t working. Is it the color? Is it the image they chose? Is it the font style? Be as specific as you can about what is and isn’t working.
Finally, help them implement your feedback.
Once you’ve figured out what exactly isn’t working you can become even more specific by suggesting solutions to their problem. So don’t stop at “the color isn’t working,” but help think of what could work. Maybe the color needs to be lighter, or darker, or a different color all together. In any case, don’t leave them to brainstorm solutions all alone. Giving suggestions can also help further solidify their understanding of what insights your criticism is trying to give.

How to Receive Feedback

In almost any workplace you are going to receive feedback about your work and performance. Here are a few steps to follow anytime you are receiving criticism:
Shut up and just LISTEN.
A lot of times, when receiving criticism about something we’ve worked on, our initial gut reaction is to talk, to explain ourselves, to help them see what we were seeing, or to defend our work and therefore ourselves. But when you are talking you are missing out on the feedback the other person could be giving if you let them have the floor.

It may help to look at your work not as YOUR work, but as THE work. Separate your work from yourself and allow it to be its own entity that you and the critic are both just working on together.
Wait until the end to ask questions.
Waiting until you know they are finished to ask questions is the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything. Asking questions will also help you understand their feedback more. Feedback is only helpful if you have a clear understanding of it, so don’t be afraid to ask questions at the appropriate time.
Turn negatives to positives!
Sometimes criticism isn’t so constructive. Other times even constructive criticism can just come with a lot of negatives. If the feedback is poorly given, focus on what good you can take from it to be better.
Thank the critic.
Make a habit of thanking your critics for their feedback. Even if it was poorly given, thanking them can help them chill out and realize they don’t need to be hostile to get through to you.
Implement the feedback.
Make a plan going forward of how you will implement the feedback. It was meant for your benefit so take full advantage! This is where you take the wheel back again and start driving forward.

3: Flexibility

Be flexible. The workplace today is changing rapidly. Rather than being angry and resistant of changes, develop flexibility. Flexibility is a winning strategy in today’s job market. It is also important to prioritize and be flexible with your time in order to take care of your own well-being, while still being productive.

If you have trouble with change, here are some tips on how to deal with change better:
flexibility

Stay Grounded

Find something in your life that isn’t changing to focus and lean on while you acclimate to the new thing.

Understand the Reasons

Seek to understand the goals for the change so you can more easily get on board. More than likely, if your workplace is changing something it’s because they have reason to believe it will make things better. Understanding the estimated benefits of this change will help you see its value and give you a reason to want the change too.

Keep Up to Date

Don’t get comfortable being stagnant. Make a habit in your everyday life to learn and try new things. This will give you an arsenal to deal with change as you actively pursue it in your own life. If you are staying up to date on learning new things, then some changes may not be that big of a shift for you. In a way, you’ll be prepared for changes in advance.

Strong Support Network

In your personal life it’s important to have a support network. This can consist of people, hobbies, and practices that you can lean on in times of change and need. It’s also important to have support from fellow coworkers and team members when changes cause you and fellow workers to lose footing. Be there for others and they’ll be there for you.

4: Problem Solving Skills

Be a problem solver. Employers look for workers who can work across lines and be an active participant in the running of the business. When you are willing to learn expertise and solve problems that arise, you increase your level of knowledge and your value to the company.
problem-solving

Understand the Problem

You can do this by defining the problem, listing all the obstacles and related variables, and defining the root cause of the problem. Understand the whole picture so you aren’t missing any important details that may be the key to the solution.

Reverse Engineer

Sometimes deconstructing the problem will help you find the root cause, which may be the key to the solution. Also, thinking about things backwards can give the new perspective necessary to see the solution.

Communicate

There will probably be people and other departments that you’ll need to communicate with in order to understand the problem completely. The knowledge of these other people may be the missing link you need to formulate the entire solution.

5: Confidence

Be confident. When you project a sense of confidence, you center yourself. Your sense of confidence will have a profound effect on your coworkers. When you appear confident, your coworkers and managers will be willing to follow your lead.
confidence

Change Your Perspective

People aren’t just born with or without confidence, it’s something that you build for yourself. You can grow or diminish your confidence through the perspective you choose to have.

Grow Thick Skin

Part of self-confidence is having thick skin. You want to build up a layer to keep yourself from taking everything personally and allowing every little thing to chip away at your self-esteem.

Try treating yourself like you would a friend, or loved one. Seeing yourself from this detached perspective can help some people be kinder and take better care of themselves. Find opportunities to congratulate, compliment, and reward yourself.

Look Inward

Deconstruct Your Self-Image.

Be more self-aware. Take note of your triggers to know what builds and what diminishes your self-confidence. Be aware of what you obsess over and ruminate about. What failures do you focus on? List the things that disappoint you about yourself. For example, if you say “yes” even when you want to say “no.”

Do the 100 days of rejection challenge. Jia Jiang started this challenge. You purposefully make crazy requests of people in order to be rejected once a day for 100 days. His purpose was to desensitize himself to rejection.

Reconstruct Your Self-Image

Visualize yourself as you want to be. How you view yourself in your own mind’s eye is where your self-confidence stems from. Create an image of yourself that you are proud of.

Practice seeing yourself as equal to those around you.

Use positive affirmations. Affirmations are when you say things out loud to make them more real, to train your brain to think a different way about yourself.

Practice leaving your comfort zone.

Practice more self-care.

Make realistic goals you know you can accomplish. You might want to go to the gym every day, but you know you can get yourself to the gym at least twice a week.

Look Outward

Create boundaries. Part of self-care is creating your own boundaries and respecting yourself more by adhering to the boundaries you need.

Forget yourself. Pay more attention to those around you instead of worrying about how they see you. Help others, volunteer, and focus more on the things outside of yourself.

6: Competence

Being competent is all about your ability to learn new skills and navigate uncharted territory. It is about having a level of self-sufficiency and not being helpless in every new situation. Competence will take you farther and farther in your job as the things your workplace wants you to do are going to vary more. Competence also comes in different levels.
competence

Level One: Confidence

One trait of a competent person is having confidence in your abilities. When you pair confidence with competence, you have a winning strategy for completing tasks that may be new to you. You can gain this first level of competence by doing new things frequently. You might not have any experience using Microsoft Excel, but you can have experience in doing new things. There are a lot of tips, tricks, and skills you can learn by doing new things that can transfer over to other tasks as well.

Level Two: Learn

The second level of competence is being able to learn and figure new things out on your own. Skills like this come from knowing how to research and study independently. In school you learn this skill with individual assignments. For example, you need to get rid of an endnote on a document, but you don’t even know what an endnote is! Because you do know how to use the internet and user forums, you can figure out how to do it on your own.

7: Good Work Ethic

Develop a strong work ethic. Work ethic can encapsulate a lot of different things. Ultimately work ethic is the idea that hard work is important. If you have a good work ethic that means that you put in good, valuable, high quality work and that you care about the kind of work you are doing. It also encompasses how you carry yourself in the workplace.
work-ethic
Here are some characteristics of those who have a good work ethic:

  • Be focused
  • Have an appropriate work-life balance
  • Be professional
  • Adhere to workplace etiquette
  • Be dependable
  • Be self-disciplined
  • Be organized
  • Be productive
  • Be efficient
  • Be responsible
  • Care about the work you’re doing
  • Care about quality work
  • Determination
  • Accountability
  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Discipline
  • Team player
  • Loyalty to company
  • Time management, be punctual, deadlines
  • Honest
  • Respectful

8: Handle Pressure

Work well under pressure. Today’s workplace is a pressure cooker of stress. When you develop a sense of calm amongst the crazy, you exponentially increase your ability to rise in the workplace.
pressure-stress

Take Care of Your Body

Try to treat your stress the way you would treat the common cold. Stress can also affect your body. Everyone gets colds, that’s why it is called the common cold. Everyone also gets stressed out in the same frequency. When you have a cold you can either do nothing and let it escalate to a sinus infection, or you can do things to take care of yourself and get over the cold quicker.
Get More Sleep.
On a regular day you might be able to get away with 5 to 6 hours of sleep and still function normally during the day. But when you are sick you need to sleep more than that. In the very least you need to be getting a full eight hours of sleep each night, maybe a little more. When you’re stressed you also need more sleep than normal to recuperate. You’ll want to also make sure you are getting quality sleep:

  • Make your room cold.
  • Have plenty of blankets.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  • Give yourself an extra half hour of falling asleep and waking up time.
  • Unwind before bed, relax, meditate, take melatonin, or drink some cold water.

Eat Healthy.
Make sure you are eating healthy. When you have a cold sometimes you lose your appetite. Sometimes when you’re stressed you can also lose your appetite, while other people’s appetite grows. You have to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to keep up and keep running during times of sickness or stress. You have to give your insides a fighting chance by providing the right fuels.
Exercise.
Unlike when you’re sick it’s actually good for you to exercise like normal when you’re stressed. Exercise is a good natural medicine for stress.

Take Care of Your Mind

Reach Out.
Reach out to others and let them know what’s going on with you. Sometimes simply talking out our stress can help alleviate it. Go out with people in your support system to have some fun and treat yourself. You can also formulate a team to help you with whatever’s stressing you out. Sometimes we stress out because we have a task that’s too big for one person and we need to accept that and ask for help.
Prevent Burnout.
One thing that affects a lot of worker’s stress is actually burnout. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent and treat burnout, but one thing that helps is to change things up. Changing your routines or taking a much needed vacation can be just the medicine you need to reach full capacity again.
Organize Better.
If your tasks are all planned out in doable chunks then you can tackle your workload better and stress about it less. For instance, you’ll know you don’t need to worry about task B today because you have plenty of time allotted on Thursday to tackle that item. Effective organization gives you back control. Also try keeping a list of all the things you’ve finished so you can have an accumulating list of accomplishments to remind you of how productive you’ve been.

9: Time Management

Manage your time well. You can be the best employee in the world, but if you constantly miss deadlines due to poor time management, you undercut yourself. So, learn how to allocate your time for each task wisely to increase your marketability. Time management skills will not only help you be more productive, but it will also help you take care of yourself better.

  1. plan your month
  2. plan your week
  3. plan your weekend
  4. plan your day

time-management

Some Time Management Tools:
  • Monday.com is great for managing team jobs.
  • Toggl is great for keeping track of how you use your time.
  • Google or Microsoft Tasks are great for making and organizing your to-do lists.
  • Bullet journals are great agenda for the creative spirit or if you want to organize a lot of different things in one place.
  • Trello is a great app if you like to organize with post-it notes.
  • Mind Meister is a great tool if you like to organize in a map or thought-web form.
  • Hard copy calendars are great for a big picture visual.
  • White boards are also great for a big picture visual.

10: Communication

Be a communicator. When you communicate well, you create a sense of harmony and competence in your team and in your office. Good communication is a valuable skill that should be developed no matter where you are on your career path.

Nonverbal Communication

Includes things like your body language and demeanor. You can practice good nonverbal communication with good posture and being an engaged listener.

Verbal Communication
  • Be respectful
  • Be relevant
  • Be specific
  • Be focused

positive-attitude

11: Positive Attitude

Develop a positive attitude. Nothing is less attractive than someone who doesn’t want to be on the job. Whether you hate or love your job, develop a gratitude and a positive attitude to keep morale up!
 
Along with having an overall positive attitude become invested in your work. It is yours to do and how you do it and your attitude toward it, will reflect you more than it reflects your job.






READ MORE
Listen to Jia Jiang’s TED Talk, “What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection” to learn about what he learned from the 100 days of rejection challenge.
 
Read the Mayo Clinic’s article, “Job Burnout: How to Spot it and Take Action” to learn more about managing burnout in the workplace.

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