8 Ways to Perfect People Skills That Will Help You Keep Your Job

people skills at work
photo by Stephen Caissie

You worked so hard to get your new job. Now, in addition to the many details you’re learning in order to be proficient in your position, you should also be mindful of things you can do to help you keep it. Paying attention to the corporate culture and making an effort to fit in is crucial as a new employee. Let’s look at eight things in the realm of people skills you should be mindful of to help you integrate into the new company.

1) Flowcharting – Fitting in and building respect and a good reputation are important early on. One of my former supervisors used to flowchart out the positions and divisions in each company he worked for soon after he began. This initiative can aid your understanding of the company and who you could approach if you have an issue or need beyond the scope of your department. If you’re just not sure how to track this information down, your supervisor may have done this flowcharting already or be able to help you with the process.

2) Internal Networking – Have a brief “elevator speech” for what you do in your position. You can use this as you meet your fellow employees. Starting in your area, meet as many people as you can, even if they’re outside your department or not on your floor (the aforementioned flowchart will help.) This will help you develop good relationships with coworkers and build goodwill. Cultivate a network of relationships with coworkers at many levels. Higher-ups can help give you perspective from a management point of view; those at your level can answer questions and help you become more effective in your work. Avoid spending much time with those you find to be complainers and negative Nellie’s.

3) Excellence and Communication – Communicate clearly with vendors and coworkers alike, and really listen during your training. Show energy, enthusiasm, and excellence in your work, and strive to be visible.

4) Tooting Your Horn – Especially as you near performance appraisal time, find little ways to subtly point out your value and what you’ve accomplished since the last appraisal. Most supervisors are pretty overwhelmed, and it doesn’t hurt to work what you’ve recently accomplished into a conversation. Think about things like great customer feedback, compliments on your work from coworkers and higher-ups, meeting deadlines ahead of schedule, and positive facts or figures like sales achievements or how much you just saved the company.

5) Effective Collaboration – Making valuable contributions to projects can showcase you as a standout collaborator. Big projects need collaborative teams to carry them out. Perfect your persuasion skills, and if you’re not really a detail person, cultivate an eye for detail. Identify the positives and benefits of the thing in question; solicit feedback from friends, colleagues, and coworkers; then match the communication style of those you need to persuade when presenting. For example, if the members of the project team are big picture people, don’t get too deep into details. Use hot button words, lingo, and language they’re familiar with.

Further, think beyond just planning to implementation. While planning is important, employees who can create, revise, administrate, and execute ideas are setting themselves up for recognition and advancement.

6) Teaching Others – Obviously as you move up the ladder at your company, you’ll have picked up a lot of things. Or perhaps you bring to the table quite a bit of valuable knowledge from a long, rich career. Teach, and share what you know. There’s definitely opportunity for this with new employees. Help others gain wisdom, experience, and insight.

7) Avoiding Burnout – Years of service in the same position can sometimes make one stagnant in thinking or lead to frayed attitudes with coworkers or customers. When the phone rings or that next customer approaches you, stay positive and think “opportunity” not “obligation.” Don’t let your attitude get worn down, and be mindful of burnout. If you feel you’re getting burned out (or overloaded) but want to stay in your current position, work with your supervisor to come up with some changes that will make your work more pleasant and manageable. Or you could seek a position in a different department.

8) Being Persistent Not Pesky – The Marketing Director at one record label for which I worked liked my go-get-’em style and called me The Bulldog. In nearly every position, your work and your success rate in meeting deadlines will (unfortunately) depend on input from other people. When you follow up, don’t be such a bulldog that you tick people off or get branded as a nag.

After waiting for a reasonable time, and based on the urgency of the project, you’re your move to remind those who are holding you up. A good sequence of touch points is: request, log, remind by email, then finally—if need be—call or drop by the lagger’s office.

My Stephen Minister gave me some wise advice once, “Attitude and mood trump ability every time.” In other words, keeping your interactions and responses pleasant and professional is more important than mowing people down to meet deadlines to avoid anyone thinking you’re incompetent. And I’ve found that to be true most of the time.

What tips would you give others as far as people skills to develop that will help them fit in and keep their jobs?

 

Looking for a new job? Want to get what you want fast? Check out my book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow, and subscribe to my blog (kurtkirton.com) for free advice on your job search.

4 Hot Interview Trends Job Seekers Should Be Aware Of (GUEST POST)

4 Hot Interview Trends Job Seekers Should Be Aware Of
Photo by Liz Bukowski

Some job interview trends stay, and some trends go. I have the unique inside knowledge of private sector job interview trends to know which will play a bigger role in the future of job interviewing. Let’s explore four hot interview trends and some ways for today’s professionals to prepare for them.

1) Skype Interviews: Skype interviews are becoming more prevalent especially with advances in technology. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace and companies are constantly searching for cost savings, it’s safe to say that Skype interviews are not going away for a long time.

I’ve seen many “How to Skype Interview” videos on YouTube. Matt Gnaizd’s video is one of the best. It covers Skype interview basics such as proper sound, lighting, professional dress, potential distractions, posture, eye contact, computer set up, and appropriate speech. Professional screen names are a must, and make sure to have a strong Internet connection.

2) Quirky Questions: I was doing a career presentation at a small college last year. At the end of the presentation I asked if any of the students had any questions. One asked, “How do I answer the tree question?” The scenario went something like the following, “If you were a tree, what would it be, and why?” Questions like this have a particular purpose in interviews, and it’s important to know why they are being asked.

Quirky questions don’t necessary have a right or wrong answer. The candidate mainly needs to make sure to at least come forward with an answer. The worst thing an interviewee can say is “I don’t know,” or, “That’s a weird question.” The interviewer wants to see the interviewee’s analytical skills, sense of humor, professionalism, creativity, and how well he or she thinks on his or her feet.

3) Group Interviews: Most of us hate group interviews. They are not necessarily a new trend, but they are becoming even more popular. Companies are consistently looking for ways to reduce expenses and increase revenues, and group interviews are cost effective measures for companies.

Most people are naturally nervous during a job interview, but if you’ve researched the company, participated in mock interviews, and practiced the most commonly asked interview questions, you can be more confident and less nervous. Wondering how to address a panel? If one panel member is asking the questions, the student should focus on that member but should also speak to the other members on the panel with good eye contact. Afterwards, you’ll need to send individual thank you letters to each member in the group.

4) Video Profiles: Video profiles may be required by a company, or some job seekers may choose to create one in order to set them apart from the competition. When produced well, they can be a phenomenal tool or additional advantage.

Professional dress, proper lighting & sound, eye contact, and an appropriate background are all necessary elements. Hiring committees that require a video profile generally have specific instructions on what they want the candidate to address on camera. For the most part, video profiles are typically a short 2-minute introduction of yourself. In other words, answer the popular question, “Tell me about yourself.”

Who would have ever thought that job interviews would be conducted in noisy venues like Starbucks? Who would have imaged 15 years ago a program called Skype would change the way we conduct job interviews? It’s important for job seekers to keep up on these trends so they can be prepared and best present themselves.

About the Author:
Zachariah Ballinger is Amazon’s best selling author of the book, The Hot Seat: How to Meet the Challenge of a New Era in Job Interviewing. He is a motivational speaker, an educator, and a career consultant. Zachariah Ballinger was featured as the keynote speaker on career topics at TACE, LACE, & AACE (Tennessee, Louisiana, & Alabama Associations of Colleges and Employers.) Contact him at www.topthehotseat.com, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Looking for a new job? Want to get what you want fast? Check out my book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow, and subscribe to my blog (kurtkirton.com) for free advice on your job search.

What You Need to Know to “Go Solar” (Guest Post)

What You Need To Know To Go SolarI just had more panels added to my 15-panel solar system; the photo above is the installers wiring the additional 10 on the roof of my garage. Solar energy is a near and dear subject to my heart. People ask me regularly about solar energy…new solar technology/hardware, how it works with my home, and the cost of a system. Matt Reilly contacted me recently about guest-posting, and I thought this topic would fit in nicely with the “and positive life tips” part of my blog. Read on.   –Kurt

All the energy that the world uses every day could be replaced with solar. It’s no wonder then that more and more people want to take advantage of this valuable natural resource. By going solar, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint on this planet and will be surprised how much money you could save on utilities.

But before you jump on the solar bandwagon, there are some important things to consider and aspects you need to understand first.

Are there any codes or regulations on installing solar panels in your area?

Before you start planning anything, calculating costs, and researching where to buy, you need to do some homework. There can be some rules and codes in your local area that regulate or restrict the usage and installation of solar panels. For example, fire codes could be in place restricting the number panels on roofs due to potential fire hazards.

There can also be certain permits you will need to have. They can be permits for the installation itself, for the kind of solar panels you want, a permit that regulates the areas in which you can install them, and how many you’re allowed to install.

Does your house receive enough sunlight, and is your roof suitable for solar panels?

Consider how much sunlight your part of the country receives. The number of sunny days per year will play a big role in how much power the panels will be able to generate, whether that is enough for your household needs and, in the end, how much money you will be able to save on utility bills.

It’s also important to consider the position of your house in relation to the sun. There should be no major obstacles too near your house that create shade and block direct sunlight, such as tall trees or branches over your roof.

If your roof is older than about 10 years and will need some repair or replacement soon, think carefully about installing the panels. The best option would probably be to wait until the roof is upgraded or replaced before the system is installed. Along with the condition of the roof, its slope and orientation are also important. The ideal would be if you have a decent sized portion of the roof facing south at a 7/12th’s pitch on which to mount the panels.

Hiring a contractor

If you’re a skilled handy person with some experience, tools, and have done similar work, you can install the panels yourself. There are many guides and DIY instructions, and if you study them well and are careful, it’s possible. However, as far as local regulations and codes, there are some areas that require an expert or an electrician to install some of the system or to do certain parts of the job—and it’s a wise idea to consult a professional for guidance when purchasing supplies. If you decide to hire a roofing contractor to take care of the whole process, make sure you hire properly licensed and authorized professionals.

Are there any financial incentives?

Even though in the end a solar system pays off in more ways than one, it can be a costly process. The panels themselves and the installation can be expensive, and you may need to take out a loan. But first, check if there are any federal, state, or local incentives in place. There are some government tax breaks, financial incentives, and rebates, and you might just be in luck.

About the Author: Matt Reilly is a writer and editor on home improvement, smart technology, and sustainable solutions for Reilly Roofing and Gutters.

Looking for a new job? Want to get what you want fast? Check out my book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow (kurtkirton.com/hthtbook), and subscribe to my blog (kurtkirton.com) for free  advice on your job search – www.bit.ly/kwknewsltr