What You Did 10 Years Ago Helps Your Team Today

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Diversity executive

By Wendy Bahr, Cisco

Much has been written about teamwork and the success factors that distinguish a high-performance team from other teams that simply go through the motions. You know the high-performance teams I’m talking about. They have an aura or energy around them that raises their capabilities and makes them work stronger in a fluid, orchestrated motion. And they all share some common characteristics—they’re creative, adaptive, curious, pragmatic, analytical, and fearless, just to name a few. But I would argue there’s a key element that is often overlooked, which has an equally profound effect on high-performing teams: Diversity.

What comes to mind when you think about workplace diversity? Maybe it’s one or more of the social and cultural aspects, such as age, race, education, religion, or sexual orientation. While all are important for a well-balanced team, what I’m talking about is diversity of experience. I’ve found that teams with varied and different experiences are better at things like innovation, decision-making, and problem solving. When a team genuinely values and leverages each other’s unique work and life experiences, almost anything is possible. Let me share a story that illustrates this.

‘Storm Cuts Power’ read the headline of a local newspaper that was covering one of the worst storms to hit a corner of the Midwest. The severe weather and near-record-low temperatures caused ice to build up on the power lines of a regional power company, leaving customers without power and heat, costing the company millions of dollars in lost revenue and maintenance.

Despite iterative and ongoing repairs, the ice kept building up, and the power kept going out. Not only was it dangerous to fix the damaged lines during freezing temperatures, but customer satisfaction was steadily dropping. A permanent solution was needed—and quickly. The power company’s operations leader called an urgent meeting with their line maintenance supervisors to come up with ways to solve this problem (as it were, most of the maintenance supervisors were men, with the exception of one women). They all got in a conference room with a facilitator, who was brought in to brainstorm ideas.

The session started with some straightforward brainstorming that slowly evolved with more interesting ideas. After a couple of hours, and without a solution, the facilitator asked them to dig deeper and to bring forward their craziest ideas. Nothing was too outlandish. The crazier, the better.

Slowly, new ideas emerged:

“What if we put heaters at the base of all the towers to heat the metal and keep the ice from forming?”

“There’s a lot of wildlife around. What if we put food up in the towers so a bear will climb up and shake it, knocking off the ice?

“What if we wrapped the wires on the lines with a material that the ice couldn’t cling to?”

Now the real brainstorming caught hold and the ideas started to flow.

At one point, the only woman in the room raised her hand and said, “I don’t know if this would work, but …” It turns out, she had been a nurse during the Vietnam War, and when they brought patients in on helicopters, she noticed the wind from the helicopters would blow the leaves and twigs out of the trees as the helicopters landed. “What if we flew helicopters over our power lines to knock the ice off?” The room went dead silent.

In that instant, they all realized her diversity of experience presented a solution that would save the power company millions of dollars, significantly improve their customers’ experience, and remove the danger the field service crews faced trying in vain to repair the lines.

This story illustrates the point that if you have a team with different experiences and backgrounds, you will likely have a team that is not only diverse, but stronger. Through diversity and strength, we can drive better business outcomes, increase profitability, improve customer satisfaction, and create positive employee experiences.

This story also serves as a reminder for me to ensure that every time I have a hiring opportunity, I ask myself, “Does this candidate bring a diverse experience or perspective that will complement the team, make it better, stronger?”

I’m fortunate to work for a company who embraces this philosophy. Beginning with our CEO Chuck Robbins, who has one of the most diverse executive leadership teams I’ve ever seen, Cisco relies on the unique points of views and experiences from everyone. It’s this collective diversity of experience that helps us drive growth, delight our customers and partners, and makes our employees engaged and on top of their game.

When you’ve got a big problem to solve, look around your team. It’s likely there’s a solution tucked away in someone’s experience.

Questions or comments? Feel free to connect with me on Twitter, @wybahr.

Stop Workplace Misunderstandings—Here Are 10 Ways

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Group of diverse workers gathered to communicate in a meeting

Misunderstanding is a workplace epidemic, and the key to escaping a misunderstanding of strategy and execution is to require everyone to stop throwing around meaningless terms.

“What others do and how it is done should be challenged, explained, and reiterated at all levels of the organization,” said Theresa Ashby, MBA, PhD, author of the book Better Implementation Now!: Eight Ways Great Strategies Fail and How to Fix Them (2019, Indie Books International).

Ashby is the CEO of Strategic Implementation Solutions and serves as a leader with the National Association of Women Business Owners. Over the course of her 30-year career she has held many leadership roles, overseeing multi-million-dollar budgets and $1.7 billion in capital improvements.

“What kills great strategy? A lack of implementation planning,” she said. “As the business adage states, successful companies work on processes versus projects. Otherwise seemingly urgent work gets in the way of the real work needed to move strategy forward.”

According to Ashby, egos must be removed and there should be no more attitude of, “we get it, so why don’t they?” or, “why should we need to define it?” and definitely no more, “they are the issue, not me.”

“Understanding and defining the type of strategy is the first step in understanding the quagmire of terms,” says Ashby. “Organizational leaders need to decipher unclear terms, get clear on what they mean for their organization, and address the process with clarity.”

Here are Ashby’s top ten ways to avoid misunderstandings that impede proper execution of strategy:

  1. Those identified as strategic need to make sure that those doing the work are correctly

aligned and doing the right tactical work.

  1. An organization needs to be very clear on how, when, and why it uses the term strategy

and implementation (or execution).

  1. Define the term strategy and implementation as it is expected to be interpreted within

your organization.

  1. Stop identifying yourself or others as a strategic thinker and instead reinterpret it as

someone who is a definer of strategy or an implementer of strategy.

  1. Get out of the head-and-heart state of mind, roll up your sleeves, and be laser focused on

what is important.

    1. Study the state of the organization and create implementable plans that work.

Teresa Ashby Book Cover

  1. Be comfortable with uncertainty and know ahead of time that a certain amount of anxiety

is part of the process, no matter how well-defined the plan may be.

  1. Embrace misunderstandings since they can eventually lead to more clarity.
  2. Slow down to speed up when it comes to explaining and communicating both terms and

the expected outcomes.

  1. Explicitly explain the WIFM – What’s in it for me.

Ashby adds that understanding and defining the organizational life cycle helps in explaining the state of the organization, why decisions are made, and how to accept the sensations of frenzy, frustration, or failure that may arise.

Source: prnewswire.com

Ask These Questions Before Accepting a Job Offer

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Man interviewing latina woman for a job

You’ve been offered a job and can’t wait to jump on the opportunity. But before accepting the offer, ask yourself the following questions.

1 What is the company’s reputation?
The organization you work for will have an impact on your short- and long-term career. With that in mind, research the business to find out what kind of reputation it has and what its actions show about its values and the work environment. Look over its annual report and information about the company in news articles and elsewhere to decide whether the business or the industry it’s in are facing any financial or legal challenges. You want to join a financially strong company where you can feel comfortable and grow professionally.

2 What are compensation and benefits?
Make sure the salary being offered is comparable to what other companies are offering to people with similar experience in similar positions. Ask if you can earn bonuses or other additional types of compensation, especially if that’s the case in your current job. Compare the benefits package with what you may be receiving now or could expect from another employer to be sure you’re not losing out on any benefits.

3 What will you actually do?
Ask as many questions as necessary to determine you understand what is expected, what opportunities are available and whether you will be satisfied in the job.

4 Will it cost me more to work here?
Your review of the benefits plan can help you answer this question, since it can tell you whether you will have to pay more for health insurance or any other crucial benefit than you are paying now, as an example. If you will have to move or face a long commute, consider whether the extra expense is worth changing jobs because, say, the new company offers better career opportunities.

5 Is this a good next step in my career?
The answer—and the factors you consider—will vary based on your ambitions and current position. Issues to consider—and ask about in interviews—include the advancement opportunities, in-house training available and educational financial assistance the company offers.

6 Will I like it here?
This can be a tough question to answer before you’ve even started. If possible, reach out to people who work at the organization, or see if friends or business contacts know anyone there you can speak with about the culture and other factors important to you. Another consideration is whether you will have to work longer hours or travel more in the new job. Will you consider those changes a drain on your free time or decide you should accept them as the price of getting ahead? And if you now can set your own hours or work remotely, find out if they are available with the new company. The answers to all of these questions can clarify which job is best for you.

Source: 360financialliteracy.org

How to resign without burning bridges with your employer

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confident woman sitting in executive chair

Even if you’ve been thinking about leaving your job for a while, it can still be difficult when the time comes. If you have been treated badly by the company or you have grievances with the management, it can be difficult to know how much to say. If you have enjoyed your job, you may feel guilty about quitting.

Like any big decision, resigning can be stressful. So how can you go about it the right way – and leave on good terms with your employer?

Joy Burnford, founder of My Confidence Matters, which supports women’s careers, says the first question to ask yourself is why you want to resign.

“If it is something completely unrelated to your experience at your current place of work (ie your family is moving location, or you have decided to do something completely different) then it should be fairly easy to stay on good terms,” she says.

“Assuming you are not resigning due to a bad relationship, then make sure you ask them before you leave if they’ll provide you with a reference and suggest you stay in touch on LinkedIn.”

If you’ve been unhappy in your role, however, Burnford recommends having an honest conversation with your boss or HR manager about the problems you are facing. “Say that you are finding the role unfulfilling (for whatever reason this might be) and have some concrete examples of why this is the case. For example, if you feel you deserve a pay rise, put a business case together and share it with your boss,” Burnford says.

If you feel you are not getting the support you need, ask for it and explain to them that you are considering your position as it is untenable as it is, but you would like to see if there is something that can be done to enable you to stay on.

“By having this conversation, you may avoid resigning and potentially benefit from some changes,” she says. “If the organization doesn’t respond in the way that you would like, and you decide that resigning is the only option, stay positive and focused. The key is to explain your position and the reason why you’re leaving and that you’d like to stay in touch.”

Alice Stapleton, a career change coach, advises choosing two or three reasons which you feel comfortable discussing with your line manager.

“If you’re keen to stay on good terms, it can be wise to avoid the blame game – explain that it’s been a difficult decision but that you wish to resign and move on, focusing on reasons personal to you, such as a desire to keep progressing in your career by accepting a new challenge,” she says. “Offering to help with recruiting and handing over to a replacement can often go down well too.”

But what should you do if your boss reacts badly to your resignation?
If you have given your manager an opportunity to do something about your situation, then this shouldn’t mitigate a bad reaction, as you have given them the opportunity to make changes.

“If, however, the changes do not come to fruition, then you know that you have done all you can and you should remain positive and confident in all your conversations, knowing that you tackled the situation in a professional manner,” Burnford says.

It’s also important not to be sidetracked by their reaction, Stapleton adds, even if they put you under pressure.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

Applying for entry-level jobs? Do these things to write your cover letter

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Fwoman writing her cover letter on her laptop

Landing a job is a challenge for many professionals. Landing a job without any experience can be an even bigger challenge. For a job seeker without any experience, it’s discouraging when you’ve applied for dozens (or hundreds) of jobs and received zero responses from employers.

Although you might feel like giving up on your job search, it’s important to persevere and continue writing cover letters that will make you stand out to employers.

Here are some tips for writing a cover letter when you have little or no experience:

First paragraph: Clearly introduce yourself

The first paragraph is your opportunity to make a strong first impression on the employer. This section should explain who you are, the position you’re interested in, and how you discovered the opportunity.

The introduction is also a great opportunity to mention any connections you have with the organization. For example, if you know a previous intern or alumni who worked for the organization, be sure to mention their name in your introduction.

“My name is Sarah and I’m a recent graduate from Purdue University. I graduated in December with a B.A. in communications and a minor in marketing. An alumni forwarded me a job posting about your Associate Marketer position at ABC Media Group. I’m highly interested in this opportunity because I’d make a great fit for your agency.”

Second paragraph: Talk about your relevant skills and accomplishments

This section is the biggest challenge for job seekers with little or no experience. It’s also the section where many job seekers make mistakes because they don’t know how to highlight their relevant skills and classroom experience.

As you explain why you’re qualified for the position, it’s important to connect the dots with the employer. For instance, if you didn’t have a marketing internship but you’ve gained a lot of marketing experience through a part-time job in student services, you could highlight the communications skills and experience you gained through that position.

For example:

“I realize you’re looking for a candidate with strong written and oral communications skills, as well as experience with event planning and strategy development. As an office assistant in Purdue’s Office of Student Life, I was responsible for planning and promoting campus movie nights for students. This project required me to promote the event on social media, send email blasts to students and design flyers to post around campus.”

Third paragraph: Highlight your best qualities and explain why you’re a good fit

Most employers want to hire candidates who are creative team players with strong time-management skills. Although you consider yourself a great fit for the position, you need to use examples that illustrate why you’re a good fit for the job. The reality is, simply stating that you have excellent time-management skills and a knack for leadership won’t land you a job.

When talking about your qualities, it’s important to talk about real-life examples. The key point to remember here is to make sure your examples are succinct and visual.

For example:

“During my final semester at Purdue, I led a group of three students to create a marketing campaign for an animal shelter in Indianapolis. I was responsible for leading brainstorming sessions, communicating with our client and editing the final version of the campaign. Through this project, I learned how to collaborate with others and work effectively in a team in order to accomplish a common goal.”

Fourth paragraph: Conclude with a call to action

The final paragraph is the section that will seal the deal for a job interview. You want to leave a lasting impression on the reader, so make sure your conclusion is confident and upbeat and encourages the hiring manager to get in touch with you.

For example:

“With the combination of my marketing experience and leadership skills, I’m confident I’d make a great fit for this position. Thank you for taking the time to review my application and consider me as a candidate. I will follow up next Wednesday to schedule a time to talk with you more about this position. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Science Says You Need 1 More Thing to Be Exceptionally Successful (and Incredibly Wealthy)

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successful women and men in a business meeting

Think about any incredibly successful person and it’s easy to assume they possess something special: Talent. Perseverance. Intelligence. Skill. Education. Connections. Emotional intelligence. A growth mindset.

By Jeff Haden

Who they are inside — and what that then allows them to do — makes all the difference.

Or not.

Research shows that traits like passion, mental toughness, constant learning, and a willingness to take risks do lead to greater success:

  • Hard work is usually rewarded.
  • Perseveranceis often the difference between success and failure; give up and failure is guaranteed.
  • Intelligent riskdoes, at times, pay off. (And if it doesn’t, what you learn from new experiences makes success more likely the next time)

When you out-work, out-think, out-skill, and outlast other people… you’re much more likely to be successful.

Think of it as the 80 Percent Rule: Do what other people are unable, or just as importantly, unwilling to do, and in time you should at least make it to, say, the 80th percentile of successful people.

But to get the rest of the way?

To be one of the most successful people?

Bill Gates was talented. And lucky.

Science says you’ll also have to be lucky: To be at the right place at the right time, to meet the right person at the right time, to stumble on an idea, a market, an audience… to experience something you weren’t necessarily looking for.

Take Bill Gates. Young Bill was clearly smart, creative, driven… he had all the qualities that tend to create success. (Except maybe emotional intelligence.)

Yet because his family could afford to send him to a private school, and because that school was one of the few in the country with access to a teletype that could connect to a GE time-sharing computer… and because his friend Paul Allen shared an article about Altair, the first microcomputer kit, which led them to convert Basic into an operating system for Altair…

Bill might still have become successful. He had the mental and emotional tools. But luck — or coincidence, if you prefer — also played a huge role.

Millions of other people are talented. And lucky.

Who you are — and what you do — matters. But success is also based on factors you can’t control.

For example, research shows:

  • “In any group of elite hockey players,” writes Malcolm Gladwell, “40 percent will have been born between January and March.” Being born early in the year tended to make them the biggest, strongest, and fastest in their junior age groups.
  • People born in June and July are significantly less likelyto become CEOs. Why? Because they were the youngest in their classes.
  • People with easy to pronounce namesare “judged more positively” than people with difficult to pronounce names. Why? Good question.
  • Over half of the variation in income across the world depends on the country of birth. Where you’re born — something you obviously can’t control — matters greatly. As the researchers write, “The role of effort… cannot play a large role in explaining global distribution of income.”

Bottom line, luck definitely plays a role.

But so does what you do it.

And whether you try to create your own luck — because you can.

How to Get “Luckier”

  1. Meet more people.

Mick Jagger ran into Keith Richards on a train station platform. They noticed each other because Keith was carrying a guitar, Mick an armful of records. A friend introduced Woz to Steve Jobs because he knew they both liked electronics and playing pranks. Sergey Brin met Larry Page during a tour of the Stanford campus.

Meeting the right person at the right time can make a huge difference. But, like many things, it’s a numbers game: You can’t luck into meeting the right person unless you meet a lot of people.

And if you assume that good things will happen — that every person you meet is worth meeting.

Because you never know where it might lead.

  1. Try more things.

While sometimes success is a straight line, most successful people have tried and failed at a number of things. That’s why they’re successful: They were willing to try something new, something hard, something off the beaten path… and to learn from what did and didn’t work so that next time they were even more prepared, more skilled, more talented, and therefore more “lucky.”

Try things. Then try more things.

Because you never know where it might lead.

  1. Try more “off course” things.

Doing the same things, day after day, typically creates the same results.

The only way to achieve differently is to do differently. Embark on a side project. Learn a new skill. Open up to different experiences.

Do a few things you assume — but don’t actually know — you won’t like.

Because you never know where it might lead.

  1. Ask.

Luck sometimes results from the right person saying yes: To your idea, to your startup, to your pitch, to your proposal, to your request….

But no one can say yes unless you ask.

As Steve Jobs said:

I’ve never found anybody that didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help … I called up Bill Hewlett when I was 12 years old. “Hi, I’m Steve Jobs. I’m 12 years old. I’m a student in high school. I want to build a frequency counter, and I was wondering if you have any spare parts I could have.” He laughed, and he gave me the spare parts, and he gave me a job that summer at Hewlett-Packard … and I was in heaven.

I’ve never found anyone who said no or hung up the phone when I called. I just asked. And when people ask me, I try to be responsive, to pay that debt of gratitude back.

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates, sometimes, the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.

Unlucky people wait to be discovered. Lucky people discover themselves — and ask for what they want.

Start asking — nicely — for what you want.

Because you never know where it might lead.

Meet NBMBAA’s New President & CEO: Kay Wallace

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Kay Wallace of the National Black MBA Association stands with a dress suit on in front of a NBMBAA logo filled canvas for picture taking

Kay Wallace lives by the quote, “Results. Period.” The new president and CEO of the National Black MBA Association—which just held its 41st Annual Conference and Exposition in Houston, Texas—is all about achieving results.

Black EOE Journal attended the action-packed conference in September and had the pleasure of speaking with Wallace about her goals as new president of NBMBAA.

Tell us about your background and how you became the new president of NBMBAA.
I have a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Alabama and a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. My experience is in strategy and operations. I was the deputy chief operating officer of the Atlanta Olympic Games, and worked for Coca-Cola in South Africa after the fall of apartheid. I’ve worked for McKinsey & Company and Dow Chemical, have had experiences inside and outside of the U.S., and have worked for nonprofit startups, which is all part of my background before coming to National Black MBA.

What are your goals for NBMBAA, now that you’re the new president?
Meeting the needs of our 16,000 members is [goal] number one. That we’re providing products, services and programs that are relevant to them. We are always engaging in conversations with them, about what they need and what will be of value to them. Number two—the organization is going into our 50th anniversary next year, and we want to make sure that not only do we celebrate where we’ve been, but we also take that same celebration to where we’re going. That is part of my vision for the organization— to be clear about what we’re going to do to make sure there are more black people in corporate America, that there are more entrepreneurs and that we are also building and retaining wealth within black families. Education, development and wealth generation—those are three parts of our mission that we’ve been focusing on in the last 50 years and will continue to do so.

Why do you think it’s important for students to join NBMBAA?
Fifty years ago, this organization was created out of a need. That need still exists today because in a lot of places in corporate America, there’s still very few of us, meaning black people. Students should look into joining this organization because it is made up of people who have been where you’re going. Some of them are still there, so they can provide the same things to you. Students can network with people who know and understand what they may experience. Then bring together those experiences for professional development. You can do it at your chapter and then nationally when we come together for Conference, where you are going to meet thousands of people like yourself—that is very powerful.

What advice would you give to a student looking for their next job or career at the expo?
The first question I would have to ask is, “What is your vision? What do you want?” Because what has to be talked about is within the context of what their desires are. Once I understand that, I’ll be looking at the 170 companies on the career floor that can provide opportunities to meet their needs. Sometimes we find that students will be thinking about their major, but not all the companies they can work for are based on their degree. They may have their sights set on a particular industry, like a marketing company. A student may say, “I’m in marketing, I want to work for Coca-Cola, or I want to work for Pepsi.” But when you broaden their vision to understand that there’s marketing in everything, all of a sudden, companies out of the 170 that they weren’t considering, they [now] realize they can interview there. I would then ask them, “Is there an entrepreneurial opportunity for you here? If your vision is to own your own company, then think about what’s the best company to work for, that will allow you to learn while you’re there so you’re able to start your own without starting from scratch.”

To learn about the National Black MBA Association, visit nbmbaa.org

Messed up in a job interview? Here’s how to recover

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Hispanic women being interviewed by two people

Your stomach drops to the floor. Your palms get sweaty. You begin to ramble incoherently, or worse, can’t come up with anything to say at all. Almost all of us know the feeling of making a big mistake during an interview.

Great. There goes that opportunity, you might think.

Don’t be tempted to wave the white flag of surrender just yet, though. Everyone stumbles in interviews once in a while—the trick is to handle it well, so that your interviewer is able to look past it.

Below, we’ve outlined four common examples of interview flubs and how to deal with them. Use these strategies, and you just might be able to win back your interviewer.

Scenario 1: You’re running late

It’s unavoidable—even the most punctual people are sometimes late. And unfortunately, it seems like obstacles always tend to pop up at the most inconvenient time, including a job interview. But while showing up late to an interview certainly isn’t a good look, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the running entirely.

The best thing you can do is be proactive and reach out ahead of time if you’re running behind.

“If you know within a reasonable amount of time that you’re going to be late, it’s a good idea to call the hiring manager that you’re meeting with to let them know,” says Chris Myers, CEO and president of staffing and recruiting company Professional Alternatives.

Once you arrive, acknowledge your tardiness and explain why you were late, while still taking full responsibility—you don’t want to sound like you’re just making up an excuse. Afterwards, make sure to reach out to your interviewers.

“Writing a personal note of apology after the interview, re-explaining the reason for your lateness and acknowledging that you really appreciate them still making the time to see you, should be well received,” says Sue Andrews, HR & business consultant at KIS Finance. “Good manners are important in business, and your apology will hopefully show that your lateness was out of character for you.”

Scenario 2: Your nerves get the best of you

Few things are more anxiety-inducing than an interview for a job you really want. As a result, it’s not uncommon for candidates to draw a blank when asked a question, struggle to properly articulate your answer, or fail to mention a critical detail. Drawing attention to yourself in this moment might be the last thing that you want to do, but it can actually benefit you.

“Ask for a time out and acknowledge to the recruiter that . . . you need a second to regroup. You can tell the recruiter that you are an introvert, and even if you did prepare and practice for the interview, you will need a moment to find your calm,” says HR consultant and career coach Irina Cozma. “The recruiter might [view] this as an authentic gesture, and most people will be supportive and encouraging in those moments.”

To avoid this hairy situation again, make sure to double down on preparing for your interview next time. Grab a friend or family member to ask you common interview questions so you can rehearse your answers out loud until you know them like the back of your hand.

Scenario 3: You didn’t do your homework

It’s true that an interview is just as much an opportunity for you to learn about the company as it is for them to learn about you—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some additional research beforehand.

“Although in interviews companies will often tell you about them and the role, they expect you to be prepared and if not, that could cause you to flub the interview. With so much public information available, people expect you to have done your research,” says Howard Prager, president of Advance Learning Group. “If you don’t find ways to include this, it can show that you didn’t take the job interview seriously.”

If your answers are too vague, or you trip up on a basic question like “What’s the name of our CEO,” try not to let it psyche you out too much. If you dwell on your mistakes, you’ll likely be thrown off your game and struggle throughout the rest of the interview. Instead, take a deep breath and focus on hitting the rest of the questions out of the park.

After the interview is over, try “researching the company online using sources such as Glassdoor, using LinkedIn to find contacts that know someone at the company, and reading about competitors,” Prager says. Once you do, you can drop that knowledge into your follow-up note.

“In your thank-you notes to everyone who interviewed you, be sure to list some reasons that you are drawn to his company and position,” Prager advises—the more specific, the better!

Scenario 4: You don’t have any questions for them

We’ll let you in on a little secret—when interviewers ask whether you have any questions for them, they’re not doing that just to be nice. They often use it as a test to see how interested you are in the opportunity, how much you know about the company, and how engaged you are in the interview process.

“Interviewers almost always will ask you what questions you have, and if you are only focused on preparing answers to other questions, you won’t be ready for this one,” Prager says.

Ideally, you would always have a few detailed questions on hand that show off your knowledge of the company and their industry, but sometimes life gets in the way. You might have been too busy or preoccupied to come up with questions beforehand, or it might have slipped your mind completely. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with asking a more generic question like “How would we work together?” or “What is it about this company that keeps you here?”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

25 Hot Jobs That Pay More Than $100,000 a Year

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woman standing in office corridor smiling

Choosing a career can be an overwhelming decision thanks to the vast array of options available to you. So, aiming high and setting a six-figure salary goal could be a smart move — it narrows down your choices and might even help you secure a bright financial future.

To find jobs where you can earn more than $100,000 a year, GOBankingRates analyzed occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that paid a median salary between $100,000-$150,000 in 2018. In addition, the study found the employment growth outlook and the top-paying metropolitan areas for each job. If shooting for a six-figure salary right out of the gate seems too ambitious, GOBankingRates also compiled a separate section with occupations that have the potential to make over $100,000 annually — once you work your way to the top.

25. Aerospace Engineer

  • Salary: $117,100

Aerospace engineers earn a pretty penny by keeping their head in the clouds. These engineers design aircraft, missiles, satellites and spacecraft, and they often specialize in products such as commercial airplanes or remotely piloted rotorcraft. This occupation is expected to see a 6% growth in employment between 2016-26, which equates to a gain of 4,200 jobs. You can earn a mean salary of $136,720 per year if you manage to find work as an aerospace engineer in the metropolitan area encompassing Arlington, Virginia; Alexandria, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.

24. Postsecondary Economics Teacher

  • Salary: $117,180

Postsecondary economics teachers — aka professors or faculty members — teach economics courses at colleges and professional schools, in addition to conducting research in many cases. For the most lucrative positions, head to the metropolitan area centering on the cities of Bryan and College Station in Texas, where you can earn a mean wage of $176,330 per year. Overall employment for postsecondary teachers is expected to grow by a whopping 197,800 jobs between 2016-26, which is an increase of 15%.

23. Computer Hardware Engineer

  • Salary: $117,840

As a computer hardware engineer, you’ll work on developing computer systems and components such as circuit boards, memory devices, networks, processors and routers. It may come as no surprise, but high-paying jobs in this field can be found in California, around San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara — the home of Silicon Valley. There, the annual mean wage is bumped up to $144,230. Overall, computer hardware engineers can expect to see employment growth of 5% between 2016-26, which equals an increase of 4,000 jobs.

22. Optometrist

  • Salary: $119,980

The optometry field is projected to see impressive employment growth of 18% — or 7,200 jobs — between 2016-26. Beyond prescribing glasses or contact lenses, these professionals diagnose and treat different eye conditions and diseases. In particular, optometrists working in the Hartford, East Hartford and West Hartford metropolitan area in Connecticut earn $203,390 per year, on average, which is significantly more than the mean optometrist salary in the U.S.

21. Air Traffic Controller

  • Salary: $120,830

Air traffic controllers perform a critical role in coordinating aircraft to maintain safe distances between them in the air and on the ground. These workers can rake in an annual mean wage of $151,960 if they find jobs around the Sacramento, Roseville and Arden-Arcade metropolitan area in California. Overall, this field will likely see employment growth of 3% between 2016-26, totaling 900 jobs.

20. Judge, Magistrate Judge or Magistrate

  • Salary: $121,130

Judges, magistrate judges and magistrates are taxed with many different duties in a court of law, such as sentencing a defendant in criminal cases or determining the liability of a defendant in civil cases. To become one, you’ll typically need to earn a law degree and gain work experience as a lawyer first. The Sacramento, Roseville and Arden-Arcade metropolitan area in California pays the highest average salary for these positions, at $198,490 per year. Overall, opportunities are projected to grow by 5% between 2016-26 — an increase of 2,200 jobs in this field.

19. Training and Development Manager

  • Salary: $121,730

Training and development managers coordinate programs that are designed to boost employee knowledge and skills at an organization. Employment is projected to grow by 10%, or 3,600 jobs, between 2016-26. The top-paying metropolitan area for this field is located around San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara in California — aka Silicon Valley. Training and development managers earn $165,370 per year, on average, in that region.

18. Personal Financial Advisor

  • Salary: $121,770

Are you passionate about money and making an impact? Personal financial advisors help people manage their finances by providing advice on matters such as college savings, estate planning, investments, mortgages, retirement and taxes. These savvy individuals can earn an average salary of $215,840 per year if they choose to work in the Gainsville, Georgia, metropolitan area. Overall, employment for personal financial advisors is expected to grow by 15%, or 40,400 jobs, between 2016-26.

17. Postsecondary Health Specialties Teacher

  • Salary: $122,320

These professors or faculty members teach courses in health specialty fields such as dentistry, pharmacy, public health, therapy, veterinary science and more. The Jackson, Mississippi, metropolitan area offers the most competitive pay for postsecondary health specialties teachers, at $191,070 per year. In general, postsecondary teachers can expect to see employment grow by 197,800 jobs — or 15% — between 2016-26.

16. Pharmacist

  • Salary: $123,670

The pharmacist at your local CVS is in charge of dispensing prescription medications to patients and educating them on the safe usage of their prescribed drugs. Some of the highest-paid pharmacists can be found in the Tyler, Texas, metropolitan area earning $174,870 per year, on average. Employment for pharmacists is projected to increase by 6% — or 17,400 jobs — between 2016-26.

15. Computer and Information Research Scientist

  • Salary: $123,850

If you’re leaning toward a career in computer and information science, you’re in luck — it’s one of the fastest-growing industries on GOBankingRates’ list. The annual mean wage for these positions in the San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara metropolitan area in California is $167,990. With employment projected to shoot upward by 19%, or 5,400 jobs, between 2016-26, there’s a good chance that your master’s degree will pay for itself in record time.

14. Physicist

  • Salary: $125,280

Fascination with the physical world can pay off in a big way for physicists, who earn an average salary of $169,550 per year in the Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Niagara Falls metropolitan area in New York. Job growth is solid as well, with a change of 14% — or 2,800 jobs — expected through 2026. As a physicist, you’ll conduct research, develop theories based on experiments and observation and come up with ways to apply physical laws and theories.

13. Purchasing Manager

  • Salary: $125,630

Purchasing managers oversee buyers and purchasing agents who negotiate contracts, evaluate suppliers and more in order to acquire products and services for other organizations to resell. Managers typically handle more complex tasks, so you’ll need a few years of experience in procurement to become one. Aim for purchasing manager jobs in the Morgantown, West Virginia, metropolitan area if you want to earn the annual average wage of $174,470.

12. Human Resources Manager

  • Salary: $126,700

If you love working with people, a job as a human resources manager might be right for you — once you ascend the ranks in the field. These professionals serve as the bridge between management and employees at an organization, and they coordinate the company’s staff and human resources activities. For the highest-paying jobs, head to the Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk metropolitan area in Connecticut, where the mean wage for human resources managers is $182,230 per year.

11. Postsecondary Law Teacher

  • Salary: $130,710

These professors and faculty members teach courses in law at colleges and professional schools, sometimes in conjunction with conducting research. The most in-demand jobs for this field can be found around the metropolitan area of Minneapolis; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Bloomington, Wisconsin. There, postsecondary law teachers earn a mean wage of $161,380 per year. Overall, employment for postsecondary teachers is projected to grow by 15% between 2016-26 — an increase of 197,800 jobs.

10. Public Relations and Fundraising Manager

  • Salary: $131,570

After accumulating years of work experience, you can aim for a position as a public relations and fundraising manager. These professionals create materials to enhance the public image of their employer, and they also direct campaigns to raise donations for their organization. Employment in the field is projected to grow by 10% or 7,700 jobs. The best opportunities are located in the metropolitan area encompassing Arlington, Virginia; Alexandria, Virginia; and Washington, D.C. — the annual mean wage for public relations and fundraising managers in this region is $181,100.

9. Compensation and Benefits Manager

  • Salary: $132,860

Compensation and benefits managers determine competitive wage rates, devise an organization’s benefits and pay structure, ensure compliance with federal and state regulations and manage benefits vendors, among other responsibilities. Hartford, West Hartford and East Hartford in Connecticut make up the highest-paying metropolitan area for this field, with an annual mean salary of $178,860. Employment for compensation and benefits managers is expected to grow by 5% through 2026 — an increase of 800 jobs.

8. Advertising and Promotions Manager

  • Salary: $133,090

Creative types who don’t quite fit the mold for public relations and fundraising might want to consider advertising and promotions instead. Employment in both fields is projected to grow by 10% between 2016-26, but there will be a greater number of positions available for advertising and promotions managers — 23,800 additional jobs — and it pays more. Advertising and promotions managers in Silicon Valley sit within comfortable reach of $200,000, as the mean wage for this field in the San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara metropolitan area in California is $197,130 per year.

7. Natural Sciences Manager

  • Salary: $139,680

Natural sciences managers can find work in the government and a variety of industries, such as manufacturing and consulting. However, hot jobs in this field are generally located in the Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk metropolitan area in Connecticut, where the annual mean wage for natural sciences managers is a whopping $240,800 — over $100,000 more than the U.S. average. Overall, employment in the field is expected to grow by 10% between 2016-26, which is an uptick of 5,600 jobs.

6. Sales Manager

  • Salary: $140,320

Sales managers direct the sales teams at organizations, which includes setting goals, analyzing data and establishing training programs for sales representatives. Overall employment in the field is projected to increase by 28,900 jobs — a growth of 7%. For high-paying sales manager positions, check out the metropolitan area encompassing New York; Newark, New Jersey; and Jersey City, New Jersey. There, the average salary for these professionals is $195,680 per year.

5. Lawyer

  • Salary: $144,230

Lawyers are well-known for their lucrative paychecks, but becoming one isn’t easy — it requires years of law school and passing your state’s written bar examination. However, you’ll be handsomely rewarded in your career, especially if you work in Silicon Valley. Lawyers in the San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara metropolitan area in California earn an annual mean wage of $207,950. Better yet, overall employment is expected to grow by 8% through 2026 — an increase of 65,000 jobs for lawyers.

4. Financial Manager

  • Salary: $146,830

Financial managers are tasked with the financial well-being of an organization, and their responsibilities include directing investment activities, producing financial reports and developing long-term strategies to meet the goals of their employers. The job outlook for financial managers is overwhelmingly positive: Employment is projected to grow by a staggering 19% between 2016-26, which means an increase of 108,600 jobs. The highest-paid financial managers can be found earning an annual mean wage of $208,670 in the metropolitan area encompassing New York; Newark, New Jersey; and Jersey City, New Jersey.

3. Marketing Manager

  • Salary: $147,240

Marketing managers assess the market demand for services and products from an organization and its competitors. They also identify potential customers and develop pricing strategies to maximize their employer’s profits. These professionals are especially well off in Silicon Valley; marketing managers working in the San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara metropolitan area in California earn an annual mean wage of $197,130. Overall, employment is projected to grow by 10% through 2026, which equates to an increase of 23,800 jobs.

2. Podiatrist

  • Salary: $148,220

To diagnose and treat complications with the human foot, you’ll need to earn a doctorate in podiatric medicine, complete a three-year residency program and become licensed. However, investing in your education will certainly pay dividends in your career — especially if you work in the Charlotte, Concord and Gastonia metropolitan area in North Carolina. Podiatrists in that region take home a staggering $256,950 per year, which is over $100,000 more than the U.S. average. Overall, these doctors can expect an increase of 1,100 positions in their field between 2016-26 — a growth rate of 10%.

1. Architectural and Engineering Manager

  • Salary: $148,970

Taking the top spot on GOBankingRates’ list, architectural and engineering managers offer the highest mean pay compared to all the other occupations in this ranking. These professionals are in charge of activities such as proposing budgets, supervising staff, leading projects and reviewing for quality, among other responsibilities, in architectural and engineering companies. Overall, employment in this field is projected to grow by 6% through 2026 — an increase of 9,900 jobs. Generally, the highest-paid architectural and engineering managers can be found earning $199,650 per year, on average, in Silicon Valley.

These Jobs Pay $100K — If You Can Make It to the Top

 

It’s not easy to land a six-figure salary without extensive education or significant experience in the workplace. While the jobs in the following section didn’t make the cut in terms of average pay, there’s potential for you to earn $100,000 or more if you choose the right employer, work in certain geographical areas or gain a specialization, among other options. Making the right moves in your career — and working hard, of course — could make it possible for you to become one of the top 10% of earners in your field.

Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioner

  • Salary: $73,960

This category includes healthcare providers other than physicians and surgeons, such as acupuncturists, naturopaths and orthoptists, who diagnose and treat vision disorders. The bottom 10% of practitioners earn a mean wage of just $40,910, but at the 75th percentile, earnings jump to $109,610, and the top 10% earn $141,330.

In addition to excellent pay, these jobs are plentiful, and they’re increasing at a faster than usual rate. Most opportunities are government positions, but other healthcare practitioners, hospitals and doctors’ offices also employ significant numbers and pay salaries in the upper range. Practitioners working in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals have the highest mean earnings — $119,880.

Power Plant Operator, Distributor and Dispatcher

  • Salary: $83,020

The expected job growth for power plant operators, distributors and dispatchers is stagnant at -1%, but this job category made the list because it’s the only high-income one surveyed that doesn’t require postsecondary education. The primary academic requirement is a high school education, and you can qualify for one of these positions after an extended period of on-the-job training.

The 90th percentile of workers holding these positions earn a mean wage of $111,250. Most distributors and dispatchers work at electric power or gas distribution facilities, but other potential employers include paper and pulp mills.

Continue on to Yahoo Finance to read the complete article.

5 expressions to avoid in formal networking situations

LinkedIn
group of diverse people networking at an event

Networking is a delicate art. While it’s certainly evolved in the past decade, there are still certain situations (and certain industries) where you must abide by a particular set of strict, unspoken rules. Mess one of these up, and you risk missing out on a critical opportunity to advance your career.

When speaking to someone more senior—and business networking usually involves an “ask” for help from senior people—you need to convey respect and recognition of their status.

Remember: People will go out of their way for you if they like you and feel inspired by you. But turn them off, and they’ll tune out.

With that in mind, consider skipping any of the following casual or unprofessional expressions:

1. “Hey, I’m ______”

Introducing yourself casually is fine in most situations. But this language can come across as too casual if you’re introducing yourself to someone older or more senior who might be a good lead for a job.

Saying “Hello” is a better bet. And giving both your first and last names is more professional. You don’t want that other person walking away and thinking, “I met someone named Paul, but I never got his last name.”

2. “I’m VP of sales for company X”

When networking at a business event it’s tempting to rush in with your title. After all, you want your new contact to know you’re a professional with some status. But it will sound arrogant to add this so quickly.

I recently met a young woman at a networking event, and within the first 15 seconds she let me know that she worked for a big Silicon Valley firm and had a good job in IT. She never bothered to ask my name, work situation, or title. I was not interested in speaking to her again because the encounter was one way.

Rather than hurling your job title at a new face, wait until the other person asks for that information. If you ask them about themselves, they will likely raise the same questions about you. It means a lot more when they ask you what you do than when you shout it out to them.

3. “That’s cool”

Once you get into conversation with an executive, your words will define the kind of relationship you want to have with that person. If you’re too casual, you’ll sound like you don’t necessarily aspire to a professional connection.

Suppose you’re in conversation with a vice president who works in a firm you’d like to do business with. You ask, “Who do you hire for your sales training?” When you find out, you might be tempted to say something like “Hey, I know them,” or “Cool.”

Instead, opt for a more polished expression, such as “Yes, I’m familiar with that firm, and I believe we can offer something more.” This positioning will get you further in pursuing a possible business contact.

4. “Can I impose on you to make a call?”

Once you’ve gotten a good conversation going, you may be ready to pitch the other person for a lead. But the “ask” has to be handled with delicacy.

The phrase “can I impose on you” sounds like you haven’t done the groundwork for the “ask.” So go through the steps that will make you feel you are not imposing. This can include a lot of listening and selling yourself. Once you’re convinced you are not imposing, you can confidently say, “I’d love it if you could make a call on my behalf.” Now you’re off and running!

5. “Let me know how it goes”

If someone has been kind enough to speak to someone else on your behalf, be sure you do the follow-up—don’t expect them to get back to you.

Ask your new contact when you should follow up with them. You might also inquire “What is the best way to reach you?” They may give you their business card or phone number or say “Text me at this number.” The point is that you want to close on this networking opportunity, and that means the next step should be very clear.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

These are the top 4 ways to get to the C-suite

LinkedIn
Diverse group of business women dressed in suits

If your goal is to climb the career ladder of success all the way to the top, chances are your path may not be direct. But it can also be hard to predict. “When you’re in the middle of an organization or even a few levels away, knowing what it takes to get into the C-suite becomes a bit of a black box,” says Cassandra Frangos, former head of the global executive talent practice at Cisco and author of Crack the C-Suite Code: How Successful Leaders Make it to the Top. “Some think that it’s a straight line, and others think it’s a matter of luck or even politics—and at times it can be.”

However, having played a role in many C-suite successions, Frangos found that there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all approach. “All organizations are different, and every executive brings unique strengths,” she says. “It’s often a portfolio of experiences that you need to have as well as a lot of skill in terms of navigating different career paths.”

Frangos is the co-instructor of a new course at MIT Sloan School of Management’s Executive Education Program called “Charting Your Path to the C-Suite.” In it, she shares the four most common paths you can follow to reach the C-suite.

The tenured executive

The tenured path is where executives stay at company they love and find a great culture fit, says Frangos. This is also the most predictable and common path, with the majority of CEOs and other C-suite leaders promoted from within, including 69% of Fortune 100 CFOs, according to a study from CFO Journal.

This path also requires the most patience. While Frangos says internal hires that rise to the C-suite were identified as high performers within their first year, she also says they often spend more time in roles than those who take other paths. “Know how long you’ll be in line, and decide how long you’re willing to wait,” she advises.

For example, if you’re second in line, and the current CEO is young, well-liked, and only in the job for two years, it could take a while for you to be promoted. On the other hand, if your boss has been there for a decade and mentioned that they’d like to retire or do something new in the next couple of years, your time might be coming soon.

“You can’t control someone else’s succession,” says Frangos. “If you are a C-suite hopeful and there’s no spot opening up in your timeframe, it may be a signal to look elsewhere.”

The free agent

Free agents C-suite members reach a certain point at a company and then jump to another to continue their climb. They’re often recruited because the company is looking for an outsider’s perspective and ideas. “This path seems to be picking up steam, as 22% of CEOs between 2012 and 2015 were appointed from outside organizations,” says Frangos.

To be a free agent, you’ll need to demonstrate a flawless track record and reputation, says Frangos. “Also, [you’ll need to] develop your leadership brand in a more deliberate way compared with internal peers,” she says.

The leapfrog leader

Leapfrog Leaders pass over their peers as well as superiors, jumping several steps ahead based on their vision and potential. Frangos says this was the case when Chuck Robbins was appointed CEO of Cisco in 2015. Formerly the head of sales, Robbins jumped two spots ahead to take the top spot.

To be a leapfrog leader, you need to able to confront industry disruption and present yourself as a strong champion for change in the organization, says Frangos. This can be the most difficult path to execute because it’s not one you can plan for; you need to prepare for opportunities and be ready to seize them if and when they arise.

The founder

Perhaps the fastest track to the C-suite is to create your own. Founders start their own companies because they have an idea and a passion—not simply a desire to be a CEO.

With this type of career path, you have more control over the timing of your entrance to the C-suite. However, it requires different skills sets. You need to be entrepreneurial and have a willingness to take risk. You also must be willing to take on a wider range of responsibilities during your startup mode, as founders wear many hats.

Whatever path you take

Anyone headed to the C-suite should have a willingness to reinvent themselves, as well as the confidence to state their ambition, no matter which path they eventually take. The landscape of the C-suite is changing in terms of its dynamics and the way to think about leading, says Frangos.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.