How to Ace it Without Experience

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The thought of having little to no experience in this competitive world can be a bit daunting. Whether you are a fresher with almost no experience, or someone who has just started late, when you hear stories about how experience has helped people move upward in the career ladder, it can feel like you are falling behind. There’s always a way up. Read on.

There are other things you can do to compensate for your lack of experience. So, keep the following pointers in mind as you go about constructing your CV and preparing for interviews.

 

Network:

One obvious thing is networking. Keep in touch with your professors and peers, and make your job-hunting status clear.

But make sure you don’t lean excessively on peers for advice: after all, they are your peers, and some of them might be in a similar situation.

Instead, talk to the older people. They might have some tips for you. You can interact with them and let them know what your vision is like. Remember, if you feel there seems to be a generation gap in how they look at it, you can still listen and give things a thought.

One major bonus of networking with older, experienced people is that you never know, they might even give your reference to someone important!

Remember, merit is one of the things that can help you land a job. Networking and a good solid reference is another.

 

The Case About Learning and Development:

You may not have experience, but you can always keep learning new skills.

See what technological tool’s knowledge can help you boost your potential, and get on to learning more about it.

Depending on your field, it is always a good idea to attend relevant seminars, webinars, workshops. You might also get an extra certificate to boast about!

List those “skills” (or at least that you are learning) and you will make a strong case that you are willing to learn and constantly increase your skill-set.

 

When the Unpaid Experience will finally pay:

If you think you don’t have that much experience, think again! Listing out unpaid experience is not a bad idea at all.

You can always talk about the relevant experience you may have in volunteering at community level, event management, logistical experience at college level, any major research you may have undertaken for your thesis, etc.

Say, you are interested in Marketing, but you don’t have experience. That doesn’t mean you can’t mention the fact that you were on the marketing team during one of your college fests, and how you handled it.

 

 

Research and Ace The Interview:

You can use the interview or the interaction to leverage some gains.

For the interview and other interactions to be the thing that boosts your confidence, you need to have that kind of knowledge, you need to have things to say, you need to be able to hold a conversation about the field/industry. And for that to happen, you need to research.

Research on what is going on in the industry. Research what is going on in the company if possible.  Research on what is going on in any related disciplines. Find the relevant journals, books, magazines, blogs, websites, podcasts, videos about your field and keep yourself updated.

When you know stuff, you will have stuff to talk about, and that in turn, would fuel your confidence. Just because you haven’t had the practical experience yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t strengthen your knowledge in theory.

 

Getting a call for an interview is in itself a positive sign: you sent your CV and now the prospective employers are willing to give you a chance! On the other hand, if you haven’t received the call yet, fret not, and keep your search and research on!

How to Tell If The Company Culture Would Suit You

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In the article about deciding from multiple offers, we talked about the necessity to check how the company culture would suit you. We are back with a more detailed post about how to check if the company culture and your own working style are a match!

Employers and interviewers look for candidates who fit the company culture. They want someone who would understand the mission of the venture. But as a candidate, it is equally important to make sure that the company culture fits your values, work ethic and working style.

You might love what you do, but a mismatch between your working preferences and the company culture can take away all the fun and motivation. Hence, it is important to make sure that the company culture is right for you.

So, how to exactly do that?

Before we jump into it, what exactly do we mean by company culture?

To put it simply, it is the overall atmosphere of the company. It is the “personality” of the company. It includes the mission, work ethics, attitude and expectations. Some companies have a very participatory work system, some companies have a strict hierarchy, some companies have an informal and flexible working style, while some companies can have strict and rule-bound working hours and codes of conduct.

Now, that we have an idea, let us look at some pointers.

 

  • Run an Online Search:

The first thing you can do is Google the company. Check their website, and  of course, the “About Us” page. How the website has been maintained, what the company claims its mission is, what it chooses to display on the website can tell a lot about the values.

But wait, the online search doesn’t end there. Check the LinkedIn page, online reviews, and if it’s a big company, one might even find some latest news. There are also websites where the employees themselves provide a glimpse into the workings of the company.

Evaluate your preferences and see if what you find online makes you happy or puts you in a doubtful mindset.

Utilize technology and you will find quite a few things about the company culture!

 

  • Ask Someone Directly:

Sometimes, there isn’t much matter to be found online.

Asking someone who has worked in the past, or even someone you know who is presently working there and honest enough, can help you get a clearer idea about the company culture.

But it is important to ask the right questions. While you ask someone directly, you can ask things like what is the vision of the company, and in what manner has it been followed, whether the employees get their salaries on time, the kind of atmosphere the office has, among other questions.

Check out how the answers match with your preferences and then see if the culture suits you.

And make sure to actually ask for specific examples, so that you are faced with minimum generic answers.

 

  • Look Around:

When you go for the interview, try to reach a bit early. You can use this time to look around and perhaps catch glimpses of how employees talk to each other, how they are dressed, how stressed or de-stressed they look, their seating arrangement, their interactions with senior and junior co-workers, and other such day to day activities.

You can then make an educated guess how comfortable or uncomfortable you will be in the workplace.

 

Remember, there is no right or wrong company culture as such.

A simple “is it a good company to work at?” is enough only if the person you are asking has a similar lifestyle to you. What works for one person might not really work for another person. This is the reason why asking the right questions is important.

Who said only employers are supposed to run a background check of the candidate? A cultural fit is a two-way street.

Choosing Carefully Between Job Offers

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You were looking for a job since long now. Sometimes, you thought the interview went well but sadly, you didn’t receive any call. Other times, you gave the interview but politely turned the offer down because it didn’t match your expectations.

It was a frustrating process but finally, your hard-work paid off, and you have got a job offer!

But wait, there’s another too.

You can’t help but wonder at the irony of life when at one moment you were not sure if you would find what you are looking and now you have two offers. Both are the kind of offers you were looking for, and now you are spoilt for choice.

How to make an informed decision, now that you have multiple job offers?

 

Getting the Facts Right:                   

First things first, make sure you get all the information about the offers: factual and perceptual. The salary, benefits, the company and work culture, the values the company has, the reputation, the hours you need to devote, the number of leaves you are entitled to, who the manager will be, the kind of co-workers you will have, among other things.

Take all of this into consideration and compare. The general impression you got also counts. You might want to recall how you got along with the prospective manager/boss, co-workers, if you’ve had the chance. You could also try to recall how you felt when you walked into the office.

 

Relevance:

You made a list of the salary, perks, hours, commuting time, personal days, etc. But how much of this is going to be relevant to your life?

How much relevance an aspect has changes according to the individual.  For example, some places provide lunch. Someone who lives far away and has to spend a lot of time commuting would find this a very convenient and important arrangement. Some people pay more attention to the salary, while some want a shorter commute irrespective of how much they get paid, while some people want a place which has a crèche for children.

Think about your priorities, compare and then make the decision.

 

Long-term or Short-term?:

Which one of the offers has a scope for a long-term tenure? How would it contribute to your growth, personal satisfaction and in what ways?

What are you looking for? Do you want a job for the time-being, or do you want a job where you can possibly stay on for years with regular progress?

Think about what you exactly want, compare where the offers fit, and then make a decision. Just like the relevance of the benefits and perks differs from person to person, so does this aspect.

Here, matters concerning the family, immediate and possible life situations, etc, factor in as well.

 

Gut Feeling:

A very important thing to pay attention to.

This is something which just doesn’t work that rationally. A job may have all the perks you have dreamed about, the perfect salary, a company culture you were looking for, and still not feel right.

When you don’t feel right, perhaps it is time to dig a little deeper. Did the interviewer say something which was a red-flag to you? Did you perceive any hostility (not necessarily towards you) in the atmosphere?

When everything in an offer is perfect, and you still find yourself looking at the positives of the ‘lesser’ offer, it is time to be true to yourself, and try to get a deeper understanding of  what exactly are you looking for.

Gut feelings often work up when it’s time to make the call accepting the offer. If you feel any bit of hesitation, it is time to rethink and reconsider. Sometimes, the instinct picks up cues which you haven’t.

Moreover, the gut feeling often acts as a deciding factor when the offers themselves are great and more or less similar.

 

Paying attention to the factual, perceptual, sensory information you have gathered could help you make a truly informed decision when you have a choice to make. While you will happily accept the offer you feel and think is right for you, it is also necessary to decline the other offer politely, without burning bridges.

How to Fall in Love with Your Job Again

how to fall in love with your job again

Months and years have gone by, and you are beginning to feel it, that dreaded feeling which gives you bad ideas, the word that makes you feel burdened and anxious, that B word. In other words, you are beginning to get bored with your job.

It is easy to think of quitting the job. After all, there is nothing left to it now that stimulates you, that motivates you. Why wait? You don’t love your job anymore, and don’t think you ever would.

These are psychological and practical tips (or tricks) we have which will help you find meaning in your job again. After all, why go through the tedious job hunting and all the rigmarole when you can rekindle your old ‘romance’ with your present job.

 

Ask For What you Want:

Mr. A was working two teaching jobs. Things were getting too hectic for him, and he didn’t get adequate amount of time to prepare for his classes. His efficiency declined, and he had a hard time being an engaging teacher.

Mr. A could either quit one job, but then that would mean lessening of income, plus the additional burden of looking for a new job. Or he could talk to the principal of one of the places, and ask her if there’s a possibility to either get a teaching assistant or maybe reschedule a few classes.

If he decided to try on the latter option, wouldn’t that help him do the job more efficiently, and give him a renewed sense of meaning? Even if he doesn’t get exactly what he wants, chances are the principal would try to negotiate and they might reach a workable compromise.

 

List out the Pros and Cons:

Sometimes, the employers aren’t as ideal as the principal in the above example, and there is indeed a lot to deal with.

Squeeze in a little time to list out the pros and cons of job. Each and every pro and con. It could be a minor pro like getting weekends off when most companies in your country work six days a week. You can also list out something as obvious as the job helping you earn a living.  It could be a minor con like having to wait for the bus in the sun. No one is going to read this, so be uncensored about it.

And then see which part weighs in more, and is there anything that can be done to fix the cons, while keeping the job.

This little exercise helps one to realise if one actually needs a new job or is it little temporary fixable inconveniences that are being irksome.  Moreover, the pros list can make one feel grateful, and gratitude is a big factor that adds meaningfulness.

 

Look at the Big Picture:

Look at the bigger purpose: Why you did you decide to do what you are doing in the first place? Think how has the job served you in your personal mission, if you have any. How has it contributed to your personal growth?

The daily routine can sometimes blind us to the whys and the hows.

 

Maybe you Need a Break:

It is a good feeling when you feel fresh and focused about your job. But it is possible to feel the wear, to get really tired of what you are doing, to feel an insurmountable list of unrealistic expectations you are expected to meet, momentarily. It is during those moments that we feel like quitting.

Before taking the final plunge, it is a good idea to take a break. Even a one or two day getaway can be sufficient to recharge your batteries, find focus again, and give you a renewed sense of purposefulness in your job.

 

Falling in love with your job again can boost your efficiency and productivity. Sometimes, it could be as simple as asking for what you want. Sometimes, it is about gratitude, about a bigger purpose. Sometimes, it is just about needing a break. You don’t need to give up on your journey when you can just sit down for a while.

 

Doing the S.M.A.R.T Thing

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You have a goal, a dream. Or maybe you are looking for a way to be more productive in your professional life.

Where to start? How do you plan?

There definitely needs to be some planning. More specifically, some smart planning.

What we mean is there needs to be some S.M.A.R.T planning:

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A: Achievable
  • R: Relevant
  • T: Time-bound

The term’s first used can be traced to 1981 by George T. Doran in an issue of Management Review.

Using the S.M.A.R.T criteria to set goals and plan execution of projects and assignments is a good idea to ensure you take the steps towards success and not away from it. We can consider it the literal s.m.a.r.t way of working, ensuring the decisions you make are actually doable.

Moreover, the method can also be used in day to day life!

Let us get into the details!

 

Specific:

The first step is that of being specific with what you want. You have to target a specific area for improvement.

It is easy to say “I want to excel in my field”. Who doesn’t?

It is almost obvious that everyone “wants to be successful”. One needs to be specific. You must know the direction you want to go in order to take the steps towards it.

The “Specific” criteria of goal setting/task management is all about:

  • What: This you would have no problem figuring out if there’s an assignment at hand, and that is what you want to finish successfully. You need to consider this if you are thinking in terms of life goals.
  • Which: Which area do you want to improve/work on?
  • Whom: Does the plan/goal/assignment need a team, or a delegation of tasks? Or you and only you are capable of executing it?

One might also think of where, and when. We will get to the latter soon.

 

Measurable:

Setting a goal, taking a step that’s measurable is important. A quantifiable goal will ensure you know where you stand.

For example, instead of saying “I want to make a lot of sales”, you can set a goal like “I want to make x number of sales by so and so date”. This is even helpful in completing other tasks. For example, you can say “I must talk to x number of clients by today afternoon” instead of saying something inherently generic like “I need to quit procrastinating.”

 

Achievable:

It is important to be realistic. Use your self-awareness here: know your strengths and weaknesses. Set out about a task which you know is achievable.

Don’t set an unrealistic benchmark of measurability. Saying “I will get 20 clients by today evening” when you know even managing to get 2 is a big thing works the same way as “I want to be super successful” does.

 

Relevant:

Setting a relevant goal is a big step towards achieving it; an irrelevant goal/objective will literally get you nowhere.

Let us use an example here. Imagine you have been recruited in a different country. Without researching, you decide to learn French, but the language is not spoken in that country. Sure, learning a language is a great thing but at this point, it will be irrelevant, and almost useless.

Instead, if you make it your goal to learn one of the major languages of that country, it will be a big step into getting acquainted with the new culture and customs, and by extension, the work culture too.

Research, looking into the demands of the industry you are working in, talking to peers/colleagues etc., are some ways to check relevancy.

 

Time-bound:

We will continue with the example we used in the point about the goal being measurable.

The statement “I must talk to x number of clients by today afternoon” not only gives you a measurable target but also a fixed time.

Fixing a realistic deadline for reaching a target/goal/objective ensures you are up and running, and not procrastinating.

You can also divide the time aspect into various “checkpoints” if it’s a long process. For example, if you aim to establish a start-up , you may set up time-checkpoints like: finalising the idea by the end of the month, getting investors by the next two-three months, launching the website within the next four months, etc.

But make sure you bind your goal by time only so that you can work towards it effectively; the deadline shouldn’t be something that hangs on your head like a sword, not letting you think.

Come to think of it, the final remark applies to the entire of S.M.A.R.T criteria: the planning should be advanced enough to help your process give structure, and flexible enough to make changes according to the demands of the situation.

So go ahead, and get things done in a S.M.A.R.T manner!