Why You Should Celebrate Independence Day (Instead of Working)

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Happy Independence Day! On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. We celebrate the Fourth because it is the official birth of the United States of America. Since 1776, we have been celebrating our freedom and all the reasons that makes our country so great.

Throughout the years, our celebration has evolved into spending time with family and friends. We spend our day at the pool, grilling hot dogs, and watching fireworks. It’s also important that we remember how privileged we are to be able to have choices, personally and professionally, that others do not.

This year's holiday lands mid-week, which is... frustrating. But, it is so important to take time off to celebrate with family. Even if it’s just one day away from the office, time spent with your family and friends helps you gain perspective, prevents burnout, and increases your happiness. You’ll head back to work for the remaining short work week feeling rejuvenated. Who knows, time away from your desk may help you solve a problem at work you’ve been thinking about and you can tackle with fresh eyes!

At The Wilbanks Consulting Group, we’re celebrating today because we have the ability to help others achieve their “American Dream.” We feel so honored that our clients have chosen us to be part of their career journey.

How are you celebrating July 4th?

Posted on July 4, 2018 and filed under Community, Career.

Practical Tips To Improve Your Focus At Work

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Any given time of year has distractions, but the summer months make it especially difficult to keep your mind from straying to blue sky, green grass, and poolside lounging. Warmer weather is inviting us away from our work, and if we aren’t careful, a lack of focus can greatly hinder our work/life balance.

Keep work at work. One of the greatest bits of advice is to discipline yourself to keep work at work. If you let work bleed into your time at home, you’re more likely to never be fully focused at either place. While at work, don’t book your vacation travel and don’t browse photos of your friend’s recent trip to the beach. Aim for maximum productivity so that when you are at home, you can leave it all behind and enjoy doing whatever it is that helps you relax.

Practical Focus Techniques You Can Implement Today

Saying it is one thing, doing it is another. Here is a summary of practical focus techniques from LifeHacker:

  • Find fun in what you are doing at work.

  • Choose a great desk/chair combo. Be comfortable!

  • Organize your workspace. Cluttered desk = cluttered mind.

  • Make your computer distraction free. Only have your current projects on your desktop. And don’t have shortcuts to social media sites!

  • Have water and food nearby so you don’t have to get up frequently.

  • Make a to-do list and stick to it.

  • Prioritize your tasks and complete them accordingly.

  • Set up a personal work structure/flow and let others know about it.

  • Put in headphones (if you’re allowed).

  • Set your messaging systems to “away, busy, or invisible” for chunks of productive time. Mute your email notifications during these times also.

  • Stay away from social media during work hours!

  • Organize your emails.

  • Redesign your phone use. Every call or text doesn’t have to be answered immediately.

  • Choose suitable music. Instrumental is great!

Once you’ve mastered the art of truly focusing, you’ll be efficient, productive at work, leaving plenty of time to take that vacation you’re dreaming about!

Would you add anything to the list of practical ways to improve focus at work? Let us know by commenting below!

Posted on June 26, 2018 and filed under Career.

How To Recognize The Best Career Search Advice

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Everyone has advice to give. When it comes to your career, it’s incredibly important that you seek out and listen to the right people. The “right” people will be successful professionals who have learned from their experiences, both wins and failures. They might be people you know, but can also be those who have risen in leadership nationally or globally. The “right” people will also be those who genuinely want to see you succeed. And they will support you in making the right decision for you, even if they suggest something a little different. You are the planner of your career path. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for you!

Below you’ll find our favorite quotes from some highly influential people in the world. As you read, decide what you love and run with it!

Excellent Advice For The Powerful Leaders

My paternal grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson, gave me advice that I have used for 65 years. She said, ‘If the world puts you on a road you do not like, if you look ahead and do not want that destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to you place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a new path.’
— Maya Angelou (As recorded in The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric)
I don’t think we talk about failure enough. It would’ve really helped to have someone who had had a measure of success come say to me, ‘You will fail. That’s inevitable. It’s what you do with it.’
— J.K. Rowling to Matt Lauer on NBC's Today.
Yeah, we’re always talking about following your passion, but we’re all part of the flow of history … you’ve got to put something back into the flow of history that’s going to help your community, help other people … so that 20, 30, 40 years from now … people will say, this person didn’t just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.
— Steve Jobs, as told by biographer Walter Isaacson
I encourage taking risks. What is the worst thing that can happen? You can go back and do what you were doing before.
— Cynthia Tidwell in an interview with Business Insider

Let Us Help You Maximize Your Career Search Strategy
Our team of experts can help you understand what YOU need for college and career success. We use proven assessments to examine your unique personality type, interests, and strengths. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for your future growth and development through your college experience and career outlook. Our coaching empowers you to make decisions about which college institution, major, minor, courses, internships, work study opportunities, career industries, jobs, and more will give you the greatest enjoyment, while preparing you for your career.
 

Posted on June 19, 2018 and filed under Career.

Decorating Your Office Space Professionally

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About 8 hours of your day is spent in your office space. Whether you have your own office, share an office, work in a cubicle, or work in an open-concept office, adding personal touches gives you a feeling of ownership and a chance to share your personal style with your colleagues. A work space that reflects your personality can positively affect your mood because it brings what you love to your desk.

So, what are some easy ways to customize your work space? Start by writing down things that you really love. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you love traveling: Bring in photos from your favorite trips or bring a souvenir from your adventures.

  • If you love spending time with your family: Bring in a drawing from a child,  mementos from a recent family event, or pictures of your family.

  • If you love a specific color: Choose office supplies like a stapler, tape dispenser, or trash can to match your favorite color.

Whatever you bring in, make sure that it adds a sense of joy to your workspace. Adding joy where you work does wonders for morale.

The trick to successfully decorating your office space is to not make your co-workers cringe. How can you ensure your office decor is professional and respectful? Start by evaluating your work space with the following questions...

  • Are you in your own office, cubicle, or shared space?

  • Do you host clients in your space?

  • Do you frequently have team meetings in your office?

If you share a space with someone that cringes at the color orange, then painting an entire wall orange is probably a no-go. If you host clients or have meetings in your space, don’t decorate with a cool modern chair that looks great but is uncomfortable to sit in. And while you may love scented candles or your essential oil diffuser, those should be left at home. Some people are allergic or may be repelled by a strong scent.

Ultimately, decorating your office space professionally comes down to expressing your personal style within the boundaries of respecting the other people who will be using your space.

Have you decorated your office space? If so, how would you describe your style?

Posted on June 12, 2018 and filed under Career.

Searching For The Perfect Job With Long-Term Goals In Mind

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You need job search goals to succeed. A lot of times we focus on the short-term goals and forget about the important long-term goals. If you are ready to find the perfect job, it’s time to step back, look at the bigger picture, and create long-term goals.

First, start by figuring out exactly what you love and hate about your current job. What makes you excited about going to work and what makes you dread going into work? Be completely honest with yourself. Write down both lists on one peice of paper so that you can see them side-by-side.

Once you have your list together, create a strategy for landing your perfect job. Start looking for job descriptions that match the “love” side of your list. As you read through job descriptions, keep an eye out for areas where you need to improve your skill set. Do you need a specific certification? Do you need additional experience in order to meet the minimum requirements requested of the job? Write the list of skills or experience you’ll need. Are you willing to pursue these experiences in order to land your dream job? If you are, you’ve got a great start to setting goals for your career search!

Depending on how involved the skills and experience you need to acquire are, these may or may not be long term goals. And that’s OK! Set those goals and then go back to the job descriptions. What advancement opportunities are available to you in the job you’re seeking? How would you like your position to evolve over the next three years? Five years? Set your sights and then write the goals needed to get you there.

Do you need help setting your career search goals? Let our team of experienced career coaches partner with you!

Our team of career consultants can help you craft the perfect strategy to achieve career success. We use proven assessments to examine your personality type, interests, and strengths. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for future growth and development through your current position or a new one. Our tactical job search services prepare you to tackle your search with an arsenal of materials that communicate your value. Our career coaching empowers you to flawlessly execute your strategy in any situation. Contact us today.

Posted on June 5, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy, Career.

How To Build Your Leadership Skills

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At some point on your career journey, you will probably be handed a leadership role. Maybe you will be asked to lead a team project or give a presentation. Or maybe you will oversee an entire branch of the company. Maybe an Executive position is even in your future! For whatever role you may be handed, it’s important to continuously build on your leadership skills. This will ensure long-term career success and will build your confidence.

Here are a few ways to develop professional leadership skills:

1. Take a personality test. Taking a personality test can be helpful when trying to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are. While it is important to understand your strengths and use them to your advantage, it is also equally imperative to understand where you can improve. It’s important to remember that weaknesses are not your downfall but rather areas you need to develop and build. Understanding what those weaknesses will provide better perspective for how you function individually and with a team. Personality tests are a fun and interesting way to learn more about yourself and develop your leadership skills.

There are a lot of personality tests out there; the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Assessment personally changed Holly’s life and early career trajectory, so it’s our go-to when working with clients.

“The MBTI® Assessment is the most trusted and widely-used personality assessment tool. Supported by over 50 years of scientific research, as many as 1.5 million assessments are administered annually to employees of Fortune 100 and 500 companies, students and alumni at leading colleges and universities, and individuals seeking personal and professional growth. The MBTI® assessment provides insight into how we interact with the world, take in information, make decisions, and structure our environment, providing a powerful framework through which we can understand our own and others' behavior.”

Learn more about how you can invest in the MBTI® assessment.

2. Become a better listener. A great leader knows when to listen and when to direct. Being able to listen to ideas and suggestions can be a challenging skill to master but can make all the difference. Improving your listening skills can not only be beneficial to you but to the entire organization. It builds trust, respect and shows that you care.

3. Take initiative by volunteering beyond your job. Most companies have important work that isn’t getting done. Ask your company if you can help in these areas. Volunteering for extra tasks can help you expand your skill set while simultaneously helping the company. It shows your boss and others that you are not afraid to get your
hands dirty and that you want to be a leader.

4. Be a critical thinker, not just a doer. It’s easy to get tasks done, but what about taking it one extra step beyond what is expected of you? Critical thinking can efficiently address problems with new ideas beyond conventional solutions. It can also can give you an opportunity to impact the future of the organization by taking a broad, long-range approach to solving specific problems and making key decisions. View your work through multiple frames using objective analysis, forward thinking and planning. It will make you a strategic leader and a valuable asset to your team.

5. Be a constant learner. The best leaders are the best learners! Continuous learning is the ability to constantly develop your skills in order to perform job related tasks effectively and efficiently. Be a lifelong learner and you will find yourself met with success, both for you and your organization.

Leadership skills are essential in the workplace because they show that you have good interpersonal skills, the ability to coordinate, motivate and shape others decisions.

Posted on May 30, 2018 and filed under Leadership.

The Most Important Person You Need To Impress During An Interview

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Do you know who the most important person to impress during an interview? While it is extremely important to impress your interviewer, impressing the secretary or assistant who is helping you is perhaps even more important.

Secretaries and assistants usually handle emails, scheduling, and are typically your first point of contact. Although it can be very easy to overlook them because they may seem unassuming behind their desk, they are the gatekeeper to the entire organization and are paid to weed you out. Leaving a good impression matters because secretaries and assistants can hold more responsibility and influence than most people assume. They absorb everything and filter out what’s important for their boss. Oftentimes, these are the positions that are most trusted in the company.

Showing that you are professional in all circumstances and to everyone, despite their job description, can be the key to getting hired. The following pointers can help ensure you leave a positive lasting impression with the most important person - the assistant or secretary!

  • Know and use their name (Ms. Smith, Mr. Johnson, etc.)
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the interview time.
  • While you wait, keep your phone out of sight.
  • Be polite and friendly.
  • Keep good posture and body language.
  • Be sure to thank them and say goodbye on your way out.

Remember, they have a relationship with the hiring manager and will reveal if you were rude or unprofessional. Make a positive and lasting influence on the receptionist and it might help your chances of success with the company; create a negative impression and there is a good chance your future with them has reached its end.

For more interview Dos and Don’ts, read this quick guide.

Posted on May 23, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

How To Spend Your First Summer After Graduation

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Summer is here at last! Congratulations on making it through sleepless nights, endless cold brews and hours of cramming for finals. Here are a few ways to make your summer as a graduate productive and enjoyable.

1. Take a trip! If you have just graduated, you have been through a very exciting yet stressful period of your life. From finals, graduation parties, and your actual commencement ceremony…odds are you are also exhausted! There is no better way to reward yourself for this huge accomplishment then to give yourself a break and take a vacation. Not only can traveling help you unwind from a hectic semester, it can also give you a global perspective which is essential in today’s highly connected world. Employers want seasoned candidates that have ventured out into new markets and cultures. Taking a trip abroad can help you jump into the workforce with a clear head and a fresh mindset.

2. Get an internship. If you’re not ready to jump in the workforce just yet, getting an internship can be a smart career move. Internships are a great way to build your network and gain experience without the long-term commitment. Internships can be paid or unpaid. Look for the paid internships, as this is a great way to gain entry level experience while earning extra cash this summer. Who knows… what may start off as an internship can turn into a full-time position.

3. Attend conferences and workshops. Summer is a perfect time to enhance your skill set by attending a local conference or workshop. Attending workshops and conferences can help you in more ways than one. Along with increasing your knowledge in a specific subject area, conferences and workshops simultaneously provide you with a space to network and meet like-minded individuals. If that is not reason enough, conferences/workshops can also help restore motivation and confidence while helping you build personal development skills.

While it is important to take a break to rejuvenate this summer, remember that your first summer as a graduate is the start of your career!

Posted on May 16, 2018 and filed under Career.

Career Tips for Graduates

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Attention all graduates! As we move towards summer we are also moving towards graduation. Have you begun planning the start of your career yet? There are many things you can do to give your career a kick start. Here are a few tips that will put you at the top of employer’s candidate list:

Tip 1: Polish up your resume and cover letter.

What have you accomplished in 2018? This is the perfect time to reflect on your achievements and projects. It’s also a great idea to get it reviewed and edited for typos and grammatical errors. Getting a fresh set of eyes on your resume will help you find areas of weakness you may have overlooked. If you need help, we offer resume and cover letter packages as a part of our career coaching services!

Tip 2: Start applying now!

It also takes time and research to find the perfect position, so expect this process to take a few months. Once you land an interview, the process at most companies is a long one, with multiple rounds of interviews. The sooner you start applying the closer you are to landing a position.

Tip 3: When sending in applications, expect a phone interview AND an in-person interview.

Many companies and recruiters will conduct a phone interview before asking you to come for an in-person interview. Make sure to research the company beforehand and be prepared to answer questions such as, “Why are you interested in joining the company?” and “What are your career goals?” Don’t forget to prepare your own questions to ask the interviewer - this is your chance to interview them too!

Tip 4: Polish up your social media profiles!

Social media plays a huge role in the search for a great candidate, so make sure you are abiding by social media best practices while on the job hunt. Do your social media profiles communicate who you are as a professional? If it does not, clean up any questionable content and redesign your profile to reflect your best self.

Tip 5: Know your worth!

Do you know how much you’re worth? If you don’t, websites like salary.com can help you determine what your fair market value is. Your fair market value is how much you are worth based on job description, location, education, industry and company size. It could also be beneficial to ask peers who are applying to positions in the same industry what they are expecting to earn. This can help you gain a better overall perspective and answer the question “What is your desired salary?” when it comes up.

Graduation is right around the corner so it’s essential to present yourself in the best light possible. Here are some additional tips on presenting yourself as a valuable asset to the team.

Posted on May 9, 2018 and filed under Career.

How To Follow Up When You Don’t Have Contact Information

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You just wrapped up an interview and hit it out of the park. Now what? Follow up with a thank you! But what if you don’t have the interviewer’s contact information? It’s a pretty common problem, but there are a few things that you can do to follow up:

1. Send a thank you note to the person who scheduled your interview. Although you may not have direct contact information for the interviewer, sending a follow up thank you email to the scheduler - Secretary, Assistant, or HR representative - with a note to pass along the message is acceptable. Here is a template email you can adapt for your own follow up:

(Add contact name),

I wanted to extend my thanks to you for scheduling my phone interview last week. I enjoyed speaking with (insert names of interviewers) and was thrilled to hear about the great work taking place at (insert company name). Would you please pass along my thanks to them as well?

If there is an update on the job process, I'd be honored if you would send me a brief note. I'm excited by the prospect of working with the team.

Thanks again for your time and assistance.

Sincerely,

(Add Your Name)

2. Do some research on LinkedIn or the company website. Check LinkedIn and the company websites to find the email address of the interviewer. Contact information on LinkedIn can be found on the right-hand side of an individual’s profile page.

3. Make an educated guess. Many times, if you have a company email from a secretary or assistant and your interviewer's full name, you can make an educated guess for their company email. For example, if the assistant’s name is Victor Gonzales and the email associated with him is vgonzales@company.com, it is likely that the email of the interviewer follows the same pattern.

Following up can be a difficult task especially when you don’t have the contact information you need. These tips and tricks can be helpful when trying to leave a good impression. For more tips and tricks, visit: Job Search and Interview Follow up Etiquette and I’ve Had an Interview. Now What?

Posted on May 2, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

3 Reasons You Should Be A Mentor (Even If You’re A Newbie)

Mentor

Who is the person that has shaped and molded your professional career? This person will have given you advice, provided constructive criticism, and assisted in developing your skills - perhaps both interpersonal skills and “hard” skills. Whoever plays this role in your life is your mentor, even if you’ve never identified him or her as such.

Taking the step from being mentored to mentoring is a scary one for many professionals. You may feel that you lack experience or are underqualified to advise someone else in their career. Even if you are just a few months out of college, there is someone out there that will greatly benefit from being mentored by you.

Here’s Three Reasons Why You Should Be A Mentor

1. You are qualified to be a mentor. Sure, you might only be six months in to your very first job out of college or only a few weeks into your new position. But you are further along than someone. Maybe it’s the intern still in college or your new colleague that was hired last week. The bottom line: you are less experienced than some and more experienced than others. Model how you mentor on what worked for you and your mentor. You can even ask your mentor for help to get started.

If you want a structured mentorship experience, there are many mentor programs that can help guide you in the process of finding a mentee and how to effectively develop the relationship. Ask your company if they have a program and conduct research to find industry-specific programs you can join.

2. Mentoring a great way to develop your leadership skills. Getting your feet wet will always be the best way to learn to swim. Similarly, mentoring someone is the best way to learn how to be a mentor! Your leadership skills will be stretched and challenged, improving them in a very real and tangible way.

Asking for feedback from your mentee is an effective way to build your relationship and also to learn where you need to improve. You both can benefit and learn from each other, which takes the pressure off of you.

3. As a mentor, you can help others. Most job satisfaction comes from having a clear purpose and the knowledge that you are bettering the world in some way. Mentorship provides a way for you to invest in the life of someone who needs help in their career. Being a mentor provides an opportunity to see both short- and long-term results of the fruit of your labor. There is nothing quite like knowing you made a positive impact on the life of another human being!

Take some time to list the strengths and benefits you would boast as a mentor. Then, take steps to find someone to mentor!

Posted on April 25, 2018 and filed under Community.

Why You Need To Take A Vacation This Year

Vacation

When was the last time you went on a real vacation that didn’t involve home improvement projects, checking email from a hotel room, or meeting up with clients or colleagues?

Dreaming of sand between your toes, the view from a ski lodge, or the hustle and bustle of your favorite city aren’t enough to refresh and rejuvenate your mind.

If you are thinking of skipping your vacation this year, consider this list from LifeHack.org:  7 Reasons Why Everyone Should Take Vacations Even If You're Busy

Here’s the summary:

  1. Reduce Stress. Stress eventually leads to burnout and your work will suffer as a result. If you want to work at full capacity - take a vacation!

  2. It’s good for your health. Stress leads to physical and mental fatigue. Taking a vacation rejuvenates your body and mind back to optimal performance.

  3. Improve productivity. When there is an end in sight, you’ll be more productive. Allowing yourself to see a stopping point to refuel will improve your productivity dramatically.

  4. Boost creativity. Seeing and experiencing new things gives your mind a boost of creative juices to work with. If you are hitting a wall at work and just don’t know how to move forward, a vacation might be just the thing you need to conquer the issue.

  5. Increase your happiness. I think we can all agree that taking a vacation and doing the things we love most make us happy. For you, maybe it’s sleeping in. For others, maybe it’s waking up early to see the sunrise over the horizon. Whatever it is, do what makes you happy!

  6. Open your mind to new perspective. Vacations will always provide our minds will new perspectives. We meet new people, experience new things, learn new skills. When back at work, you could change how you view a difficult problem or project and illuminate the best way to move forward. A vacation provides a fresh set of eyes to see the problem at hand anew.

  7. You need time for your family and yourself. Last but not least, family-time and/or me-time is unmatched in both mental and physical health. You should be working to live, not living to work.

Take advantage of all of the vacation time your company allows by taking full weeks off at a time. Piecing together long weekends throughout the year is OK, but giving yourself a break for 5 workdays, plus 4 weekend days, equals nine full days of rest and relaxation. At the end of the year, you won’t regret taking the time off!

So where will you be going on vacation this year?

Posted on April 18, 2018 and filed under Career.

Spring Cleaning Your Career Assets

Spring Cleaning Career Assets

We’re a few weeks into Spring - have you tackled your Spring Cleaning yet? Washing windows, cleaning under the couch, scrubbing behind the toilet...these aren’t the most fun tasks in the world. Understandably, most people procrastinate to the point where they might as well just leave the tasks for the following Spring.

While it’s OK to put off your household Spring Cleaning chores, don’t delay Spring Cleaning your career assets, including your:

Why Your Career Assets Need Spring Cleaning

If you are planning to look for a new job in the near future, it’s imperative that your information and resources are up-to-date. But even if you aren’t actively looking for a job, it’s important to regularly update your career assets. In our digital world, you never know who is looking at your online presence!

If you manage a website for your work, ensure that the most recent projects and new skills are added. If you don’t have your own website, check to see if the company you work for has an online bio or other digital resources where your name and information is listed to ensure it’s up-to-date. No matter who is reviewing your information, you want to put your best foot forward.

Networking should happen even when you aren’t looking for a new position. When looking for connections, whether it’s for project collaboration, mentorship, or just professional friendship, having all of your most current information and skills available to share is key to strengthening those relationships. Almost everyone looks up connections on LinkedIn after they first meet, so keeping your profile strong and up-to-date is important.

Your resume and CV will be much easier to update when you need it if you are keeping it current. Instead of scrambling to pull together an amazing resume in a pinch, you’ll only need a few minutes to look it over and make slight adjustments.

Finally, how is your skill set these days? Now is the time to update your list of skills on your resume/CV, LinkedIn profile, etc. But it may also be time to learn more new skills or update certification on those you already have. Time moves quickly and many skills become out of date even after only a year. Keeping up with industry trends and the skills needed to keep pace with your colleagues are critical for career success.

Set a recurring reminder in your calendar to Spring Clean your career assets every year. The time it takes to keep these resources current are well worth the investment for a successful long-term career strategy.

Posted on April 11, 2018 and filed under Career.

5 Ways To Model Healthy Leadership

Healthy Leadership

The textbook definition of “leader” is the person who commands a group or organization. Does this describe you at work? In a community group? At school? Among your peers?

A leader inspires, motivates, and encourages. Ideally, a leader models behavior that others should follow. Realistically, leaders are human and make mistakes. A leader may make a choice that, if others do the same, is not best for the greater good of the group/organization. There are countless examples of unhealthy leadership models in government and corporations alike. Turn on the local or national news tonight and you’re bound to see a handful of fallen leaders making headlines.

While we will all make mistakes in our career, it’s important to intentionally take steps to model healthy behavior for ourselves and for the good of those who follow us. If we don’t do this, we’ll burn out and grow stagnant in our success. Our followers will do the same. There are easy-to-implement steps we can take to ensure we are great leaders and are instilling healthy habits in our followers.

Here are five ways to model healthy leadership in your career:

  1. Make work/life balance a priority. If you are regularly going home only to shower and sleep a few hours before returning to work, you don’t have a healthy work/life balance. Similarly, if you haven’t taken a vacation in years, you don’t have a healthy work/life balance. If your followers see you burning the candle at both ends year-after-year, you are setting a precedent - this is how you lead and what you expect from other leaders in your group. There is a lot of research out there about why taking time off is good for your brain and productivity, so make sure you are balancing your time.

  2. Surround yourself with wise counsel. Everyone needs advice. Even Presidents and Kings have cabinets and courts to advise them in many different situations. It doesn’t matter how high up the corporate ladder you climb, seeking the opinion of a trusted friend, mentor, or colleague will result in success. This success will either be in your decision making, in your relationship building, or both. Either way, it’s a win-win. There is never a downside to seeking wise counsel.

  3. Collaborate, don’t divide. One of your goals as a leader should be to raise up people who can become leaders, too. This multiplies your team’s time and manpower, resulting in increased productivity and overall success. It also lends well to the philosophy that, “two heads are better than one” when considering your options and making the most informed decisions.

  4. Actively listen. One way you can earn the respect of your followers is to actively listen to what they have to say. If they want to offer feedback on your performance, listen intently, then consider the how and when this feedback applies. If they want to propose a new or different way of doing something, don’t brush them off. Not only will you earn respect, you might be pleasantly surprised by their amazing ideas! Learn more about how to actively listen here.

  5. Practice humility. No one likes to work for a leader who is arrogant. Balance your strengths and skills with the recognition that you can always improve. Practicing the previous four models of healthy leadership will naturally instill humility, as you realize that there are many people who can help and provide assistance to reach goals better than you could on your own. It’s not about you - it’s about the team and the overall good of your team and the projects you tackle.

What else would you add to this list? How do you model healthy leadership in your workplace?

 

Posted on April 6, 2018 and filed under Leadership.

Working with Different Personality Styles

Personality Types

Different personalities playing themselves out in the workplace can be very frustrating, comical, and entertaining. That’s why TV shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation are so popular. People can relate to these real-world characters. Either you are one of the characters or you know one!

There are so many personality tests out there, but the most widely used and most trusted is The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Assessment. Our team of Certified MBTI® Practitioners provide consultations, and we’ve seen incredible results for both individuals and teams. We typically work on identifying personality types, and then provide coaching on how to interact with other personality types.

Let’s think through some scenarios of how personality types play out in the workplace using the TV show “The Office” as our example. (If you’re interested, here is an entire conversation thread about each character’s MBTI® type. Below is a summary of one person’s opinion from that thread.)

The “Michael Scott”: Do you have a boss that is extraverted, craves attention, procrastinates and is impressively loud? This type of personality is a great leader but needs coworkers that can be “the voice of reason” as needed.

The “Dwight Schrute”: Do you work with someone who has an amazing attention to detail but lacks the social tact to go with it? Tasks are more important than people, and while the job will always get done, some hurt some feelings will be left in the wake of success.

The “Jim Halpert”: Introverted, but a goofball, this person doesn’t readily open up to those around him or her, which can cause relationships to take a long time to develop between coworkers. It can also cause feuds that may disrupt work efficiency.

The “Pam Beesly”: Very emotional and not the greatest leader, Pam isn’t incredibly productive but does bring good ideas to the table. She is loyal but easily gets bored with work.

Why Personality Types Matter

While the TV show characters are dramatic for entertainment purposes, we can all relate to working with many personality types. It’s difficult to work with people that clash with your standard way of operating. Even with these rifts, recent studies have shown that collaboration directly links to higher revenue. At the end of the day, we want our positions, our teams, and our companies to be profitable. The great news is that all personalities can learn to work together and form productive, profitable teams.

Successful collaboration within internal teams and alongside external partners requires effective communication, conflict management, stress management, and leadership skills. There are many tools, resources, and attainable skills that anyone can learn to collaborate with other personality types effectively. Hiring a career coach and MBTI® consultant is the best way to ensure success in this area.

Are you interested in taking a MBTI® Assessment or having your entire team do so? The Wilbanks Consulting Group provides tailored workshops to groups, and career coaching to individuals, allowing teams and individuals to move forward quickly with the clarity and agility required to excel.  Learn more about MBTI® and schedule your assessment today!

Posted on March 27, 2018 and filed under Leadership, Search Strategy.

How to answer “What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?”

Strength Weaknesses

Interviewer: “What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?”

Interviewee: “My strength is that I have no weaknesses.”

Please don’t answer the classic interview question like this. No one is weakness free! And while this isn’t a trick question, it is a question that is meant to reveal how you view yourself, your confidence level, and your forward-thinking skills. Most of the time, interviews don’t actually care what the strength and weakness are - they want to hear how you handle a self-assessment.

Here’s the key: There is always something you can be working to improve, and this question opens the door to show interviewers that you are actively working on an area or skill.

Here’s 5 easy steps to prepare for this classic interview question:

Step 1: Write down your honest answer to this question. You don’t have to show it to anyone at this point, so be truthful!

Step 2: Ask your best friend to answer the question for you. Ask them to be honest, but helpful. In all the time you’ve known this person, what do they see as your greatest strength and weakness?

Step 3: Ask a close colleague to answer the question for you. Your best friend will answer a bit differently than a colleague. Having the two perspectives will be insightful.

Step 4: Compare notes. Were any of the answers similar? How were they different? Do you agree or disagree with their assessment? Spend some time to think through the responses and form one coherent and honest answer that is appropriate for an interview. Bonus points if you can tailor your response to the specific position you are interviewing for!

Step 5: Come up with a plan to address your weakness. It’s important to not just answer the question with the strength and the weakness, but to include a plan of action for improvement that is already in place. Here’s a great example from an author:

“I’m really creative when it comes to brainstorming topics for my writing and I’m quick to lay out an outline. My weakness lies in catching the details. I sometimes struggle to catch the small stuff when editing, but I think being aware of the problem is half the battle. In addition, I’m working to improve on this by taking editing classes and allocating more time to review work before it leaves my desk.”

Everyone should prepare for this question. Having a thought-out and plan-of-action will leave a great impression with your interviewer.

Want more interview tips? Read How to present yourself as a team player.

What Is Your Body Language Saying During An Interview?

Body Language

Imagine you are at an interview and are sitting in a very comfortable office chair across from your interviewer.

You are probably imagining what the interviewer and the room look like. Forget about them. Imagine what YOU are doing in this scenario.

Are you shifting your weight in your chair? How is your posture? What are your hands doing? Where are your eyes looking?

Your body is always communicating to others. At home, at work, at the grocery store. The way you stand, your posture, your facial expressions, eye contact (or lack thereof), and personal “quirks” are all speaking something to those around you. Not with verbal words, but with body language.

If you’ve never thought about these things as they pertain to the job search, now is a great time to start. Your body language says just as much, if not more about yourself and your interest in a position than your words.

Posture

How you sit speaks loudly about your current mood and thoughts. Look down and observe how you are sitting right now. Are you laying on the couch with your laptop (casual)? Are you reading this on your phone while you pace the floor at the doctor’s office(impatient)? Are you sitting at your desk with your feet flat on the floor and back straight (productive)? Are you slouching (discouraged)?

Several years ago, I was interviewing a young woman who was sitting with one arm draped over the chair beside her and her legs spread widely - like a baseball player sitting on the bench. She was also chewing gum. I remember this particular interview well because her body language suggested she was not taking the interview very seriously and didn’t care one iota about what I thought of her.

Another interviewee’s brow was furrowed and his arms were crossed across his chest the entire duration of our time together. He didn’t seem happy to be at the interview, and exuded an arrogant demeanor by his stance.

Over the next several days, notice what your body is saying in different circumstances, personally and professionally. Ask the person you are with about what your body language is suggesting your mood or thoughts are. You might be surprised at how clearly your body language speaks!

Eye Contact

You should always look your interviewer directly in the eyes. It can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to doing it. Practice looking directly at your own eyes in a mirror to adjust to the new habit. Try to match a pleasant facial expression with your eye contact. Once you feel you are ready, try practicing with others. When you are checking out at the grocery store, look the clerk in the eyes as you interact. You can practice this skill every time you speak with someone, making it a quick habit to strengthen.

During yet another interview I was conducting, one particular woman checked her watch every five minutes and kept looking behind me at the door. I cut the interview short as it was crystal clear that she was anxious to be done with our time together.

Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes, by thinking of a real-world example. Have you ever been talking with a colleague or friend and he or she never looks at your eyes, but instead looks at their computer or phone? In that moment, their eyes told you that whatever was on that screen was more important to them than you and what you had to say. Eye contact reveals distraction and priority, and that’s especially true in an interview setting.

You can see how body language and eye contact are important. Don’t dismiss the powerful language your body and eyes speak. Pay attention in every aspect of your life and you might be surprised to find you are often sending messages that you thought you were keeping internally.

Posted on March 13, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Career.

Tips for Handling Interview Nervousness

Interview

If you are taking the correct steps to showcase your value while applying for jobs, you will land an interview. Interviews are standard practice in the hiring process to ensure a candidate is not only qualified, but also the right fit for the company. It’s normal to be nervous for an interview - all eyes are on you!

One particular nerve-wracking interview that I had out of college was 3 hours long and involved me being shuttled from one office to another. I met with almost everyone in the small, family-owned company for “mini” interviews (over 10 of them!) and also had to take a three part skills test on a computer. Going in to a three hour interview, I was incredibly nervous. I was afraid that I would forget someone’s name, that I wouldn’t pass the skills test, or that the fast-paced interviews would damper my ability to showcase my value.

In that interview, and any interview you may face, the challenge is to think about it for what it really is: a meeting where both you and the interviewer are trying to figure out the best fit for the position.

Bottom Line: It’s not just you being interviewed, it’s you interviewing the company and your potential future colleagues. If you don’t think the workplace culture is a fit for you, then you don’t have to take the job if it’s offered. Keeping this mindset takes a lot of the pressure off of you and puts some on the interviewer.

Keeping that perspective, here are a few tips to manage nervousness and start your interview with confidence:

  • Research. Know as much about the company as you can before your interview. Most employers will casually ask, “What do you know about our company?” Stammering through a half-right answer won’t help your confidence or leave a good impression. Be prepared and know who it is your interviewing with.

  • Prepare your own questions. Remember, you are interviewing the company too! Come with a list of questions that you want to know as a potential employee. Here are some great examples:  

    • Can you explain a bit more about the company’s {insert project here}?

    • How are the company teams structured?

    • What opportunities for advancement come with this position?

    • What is your favorite thing about working here?

    • Do you feel that you have friends at work?

  • Put your best foot forward. This is an obvious one, but it’s so important. Dress professionally. Bring copies of your resume, just in case. Be on time. Act courteously and graciously. If you do these things, you can be confident you will make a great first impression.

  • Do a mock interview. It may sound or feel awkward, but practicing for an interview with a career coach is one of the best things you can do to prepare. This practice will empower you to answer questions with confidence and equip you with a plan for presenting your value.

Still feeling unsure of yourself? We’d love to help you build confidence and increase your chance for success. Contact your personal career coach today!

Active Listening

active listening

There is a big difference between hearing and listening. Have you ever been talking with someone and just knew they weren’t listening? When you ask, “Are you listening?” the response is something like, “Yes, I heard you!”

Perceiving sounds is hearing.

Mentally processing and understanding what you’ve heard is listening.

What is Active listening?

Active listening is a strategy that provides tools to not only listen intently, but also proves to your conversation partner that you are engaged in the conversation. Active listening is a skill that takes practice and will immediately yield positive results in whatever conversations you have on a daily basis.

During an interview, it is imperative that you are an active listener. If you aren’t engaged, it will reflect poorly on your professionalism, your qualifications, and your ability to work with others.

Strategies to be an Active Listener

There are five basic steps to follow in order to be an active listener. They are straightforward and easy to implement, so you can start practicing immediately!

  • Eye contact - Direct eye contact makes is clear that the interviewer has your undivided attention. If you are wandering the room with your eyes, you seem disinterested or distracted.

  • Acknowledge - Acknowledge that you heard what the interviewer said.

    • “That’s a great point,” or “I understand” are great acknowledgement statements.

  • Clarify - Ensure you heard and understand what is being said by clarifying.

    • “If I am hearing you correctly, the number one skill you are looking for in this position is exceptional problem solving. Is that correct?”

  • Paraphrase - Repeating back what the interviewer has just said is a great way to be an active listener. Of course, it needs to be natural, so don’t repeat back like a parrot. Paraphrase instead.

    • “I agree 100%. One of the biggest problems in the workplace is lack of teamwork and miscommunication.”

  • Respond - When asked a question or given a statement or fact, respond appropriately. Even if you don’t understand, it’s better to respond than ignore.

    • “Thank you for laying out the responsibilities of the role. I’d love to share a bit about how my skills can help in these areas.” or “I’m not quite sure I understand. Do you mind going over this again with me?”

Some of these steps may seem unnatural at first if you aren’t used to them. For example, eye contact can be very uncomfortable to some! Practice with people you know and trust first and then gradually start utilizing your skills with others. It will get easier with time!

The great news is that active listening is a skill that will help you in interviews and in every life situation, personally and professionally. You can use active listening to improve interactions with your colleagues, significant other, children, friends, and even strangers!

Posted on February 28, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy, Leadership.

How to Present Yourself as a Team Player

Team player

One of the most common interview questions is, “In what ways are you a team player?”

It’s a tough question to answer, especially if this is an area of weakness for you. In every interview, you should expect and prepare for a variation of this question.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

There isn’t a job on the planet that doesn’t include working with other people. Even if you work from home, you still have to check in with someone to receive your instructions, or at the very least, to get paid! If you own your own business, you have clients or customers. If you are an author, you have an editor or publisher. If you work with computers, you have a supervisor. You will always have to work with people!

Hiring managers need to ensure that workplace disputes are minimized by hiring folks that are open to constructive criticism, direct feedback, and can adjust their working style based on the needs of the entire team. Employees that have strong team players are more satisfied in their positions. Happy employees result in higher project success rates and lower turnover. Thus, teamwork is important to companies, because it is all around better for business!

How To Present Yourself As A Team Player

Step 1: Find the truth. The first step to answering this question is to examine yourself in order to answer it truthfully. Take a few minutes to brainstorm how you’ve been a team player in the past, while on the job, at school, or while completing a community project. One variation of the team player question is, “Tell me how you’ve been a team player in the past,” so having this information in your back pocket is helpful.

Step 2: Write out your attributes. Once you’ve brainstormed some past examples, pull out the attributes you exemplified that made you such a great team player in those situations. For example, you might write “strong communication skills” or “ability to implement colleagues’ ideas for a positive solution.” Try to list 3-5 attributes.

Step 3: Prepare an answer using the position as the backdrop. Look at a job posting and envision how you could be a good team player in that specific role. Answer “How are you a team player?” by putting yourself in the role you are interviewing for. This is a great strategy to show you understand the position and its responsibilities, highlighting you as qualified and valuable. Here’s an example of what this might look like:

“I love working with others. In this role as account manager, I would brainstorm with others solutions to the client’s problem at hand, allowing everyone to provide their ideas and work with the entire team to process the best option. Some people are great idea-generators while others are effective “devils advocates.” Using everyone’s skills together will improve the quality of the solutions we propose to our clients.”

Pro tip: You can use this three step method to prepare for any interview question!

Prepare For Your Interview With A Career Coach

Our team of professional career coaches would love to help you prepare for your interview by tackling difficult questions like this one and strengthening your many other interview skills. Contact us to get matched with your career coach today!

 

Posted on February 21, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.