The Best Career Advice I Ever Got

By ATR International |   Wed, May 08, 2013 @ 08:55 AM

It goes without saying that everyone’s career is unique. In fact, it can be argued that most career paths that people take are vastly different from each other.  But if you take a step back, and really consider what a successful career path looks like, there is often more similarities than differences. Below is some career advice that cuts across all paths to success; advice from some of the most successful and influential individuals in business and life.

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The Importance of Proper Grammar in the Workplace

By Jeff Monaghan, Director of Marketing |   Thu, Mar 07, 2013 @ 09:39 AM

The website Grammarly, touted as “The World’s Best Grammar Checker,” recently conducted a small study to see if they could find a correlation between proper grammar and professional advancement. The results were interesting.

According to Grammarly, they reviewed 100 LinkedIn profiles of native English-speakers in the consumer packaged goods industry. Each professional had worked for no more than three employers over the first 10 years of his or her career. Half were promoted to director level or above within those 10 years, and the other half were not.

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Among the findings, they discovered that professionals with fewer grammar errors in their profiles achieved higher positions and that fewer errors correlated with more promotions. The study was obviously conducted with a small sample size, but the results do show some interesting trends and strongly support the hypothesis that proper grammar is extremely important in the workplace.

Some other things to consider before publishing your LinkedIn profile or hitting send on that email.

  • Proper grammar shows attention to detail.
  • Using the right sentence structure demonstrates critical thinking.
  • Poor grammar will leave management wondering if you represent the company well.
  • If you don’t know grammar basics, others will wonder what else you don’t know.

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10 Tips for Getting Ahead at Work

By ATR International |   Wed, Feb 06, 2013 @ 10:57 AM

The corporate world is tough. There are deadlines to meet, bosses to answer to, co-workers to team with, and responsibilities to manage. It can be overwhelming and, at times, make you feel as if you are stuck in a rut. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Taking the right approach with the right attitude can get you out of that rut and moving to get ahead.

1. Dress above your position
Visual cues are an important part of how humans interact with the world around them, and the workplace is no different. Take notice of how those who are viewed as successful in your office dress and follow suit.

2. Present new ideas above your role
Companies that thrive rely on new ideas and new approaches to old problems. And quite often, those ideas come from employees. Keep your eyes and ears open for problems or issues around the office. Come up with solutions backed by research and common sense and you will win points quickly.

3. Be a go to person
If you are a reliable provider of accurate information and solutions to problems, you will quickly become a go to person in the company. Word spreads fast around the water cooler so take advantage.

4. Take diverse assignments
Getting pigeon-holed into a single role or responsibility can be a problem. You will be perceived as one dimensional with limited abilities. Make it clear to your boss that you want to take on assignments outside of your documented responsibilities. Do a good job with these new responsibilities and your boss will tell his/her boss and watch your influence in the company grow.

5. Make others look good
People like to feel good about themselves. And when you are the one that makes them feel good, they will like, trust, and say good things about you around the office. These are all ways to help build credibility with your peers and superiors.

6. Work in your accomplishments
Chances are, no one else is going to toot your horn for you. Be sure to let others know about your accomplishments but do it in a discrete way.  Work it into conversations. Mention to your boss how pleased you are that your idea is showing results.

7. Listen
It’s important to remember that you never learn while you are speaking. Listening is the key to learning. Pay attention to what others are complaining about, managers mention as issues that are effecting the company, and problems that your boss is trying to fix. These will all give you insight and provide you with action items that will get you noticed.

8. Ask
Go to your boss and ask him/her exactly what it will take for you to get a raise, get promoted, and make a difference. You will gain points just for asking the question.

9. Leave personal life at home
Your life outside of work should be just that, outside of work. Casual conversation about your weekend is bound to happen, but don’t be the employee that is constantly talking about their private life at the office. It can be annoying to others and make you that person that co-workers try to avoid.

10. Attitude
People are attracted to a positive attitude. While others obsess about problems and issues, a positive attitude in the office is often welcome and can set you apart from your colleagues. But make sure you backup your positive attitude with action. A lot of positive talk without the results to back it up is often viewed negatively.

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11 Sure Fire Career Killers

By ATR International |   Thu, Dec 13, 2012 @ 09:25 AM

There is a big difference between your job and your career. Succeeding at your job can be as simple as showing up on time, doing what’s asked of you, and being friendly to your co-workers. But when it comes to your career, it takes much more. Below are 11 career killers to watch out for.

1. Insecurity
Don’t be afraid to speak up. Human tendency is to think that other people know better. But you, just like every other employee at your company, have a unique view of what is going on. Don’t be afraid to share your observations and offer solutions when possible.

2. Lack of Curiosity
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but lack of it can kill a career. Einstein once said, “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.”  Curiosity about new things and a desire to learn how they work is a key component to any successful career. This is true no matter what your profession. A curious employee is one that will solve problems and is an asset to any company. The Internet is a powerful tool that can help satisfy your curiosity on virtually anything.

3. Complacency
No one has ever advanced their career by sitting idly. There is a fine line between appreciating what you have and striving for more. Those that can successfully balance the two often find themselves not only with successful careers, but successful lives.When their is an opportunity to work on a special project or to attend training, do it! Being proactive can turn a job into a growing career.

4. Sense of Entitlement
John F. Kennedy famously stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  The same can be said for your career. If your attitude is “my company owes me”, you need to shift your thinking. Successful people think about what they can do for their company not what their company can do for them.

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5. Fear of Failure
Abraham Lincoln lost six separate elections before becoming president. Henry Ford’s first company went bankrupt. Walt Disney didn’t get a job as a newspaper cartoonist because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Learning to fail is often cited as the most important aspect of success. Don’t be afraid to try something new and when you receive feedback on how to do it better next time, pay attention and don’t be defensive.

6. Letting Your Job Title Define You
Sure, you have a job title and certain responsibilities tied to that title. But you are an employee of the company. Don’t get stuck in the mindset that you can’t contribute outside of your assigned job duties. Be the person that knows everyone at the company and what they do. The more you know the better you will do your job. And you’ll find ways to help others as well; when they know you understand their work, they’ll ask for your help. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your department is all you should care about.

7. Office Politics
Gossip and office politics can be a career killer. Successful people operate above politics and focus on solving problems, getting results, and making sure the job gets done. Being seen as a gossip is a quick way to ensure you won’t be moving up the career ladder.

8. Not Playing Well With Others
Working in a team is vital for almost any career. Freely exchanging ideas, respecting others opinions, and working with others to come up with solutions is a necessity in today's working environment. It also goes a long way towards creating value for your company and advancing your career. Remember your manners; being polite and respectful when presenting your ideas or questioning others is a critical skill. Don’t be the person no one wants on their team.

9. Lack of Focus on Results
The most important thing in any job is results. Whether its customer service, product design, accounting, or sales, every job function has a desired result. A laser focus on this without getting caught up in busy work is a key to career success. Always make sure you know what the priorities are and spend most of your time and effort in those areas. The filing can wait if there’s a client call to return!

10. Poor Attitude
Thomas Jefferson claimed that “Nothing can stop a man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal.” The opposite of that is also true. Nothing has killed more dreams and goals then a poor attitude. Always focus on what is possible, how to overcome a problem, or finding an elusive answer. Individuals with a negative, defeatist attitude will find their career at a dead end, quickly passed by those with a positive attitude.

11. Not Listening
Truly listening is one of the most difficult things to do in life, especially at work when everyone is trying to get their points made, ideas heard, and accomplishments recognized. But remember, you learn nothing while you are speaking and a good listener gains the respect of their co-workers and managers alike. Being a good listener will make you smarter about your job and help you get noticed in the right way, which is great for advancing your career.

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Salary Negotiation and Your New Job

By ATR International |   Tue, Jul 24, 2012 @ 08:55 AM

Salary is usually the most sensitive aspect of entertaining a new job offer. Through the entire interview process, one of the main things anyone wants to know is “how much does the job pay?” But everything you read regarding finding a new job says to never discuss salary, and if you do, don’t be the first to bring it up.

So when salary does eventually come up, many times you are so invested in getting the job, you happily take what is offered. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Salary is always negotiable. And when its done in a respectful and well informed way, can actually gain you respect. So how do you negotiate a salary for a new job?

1. It’s important to realize that the company wants you. They made you an offer so they clearly view you as the best candidate for the position. Many job hunters don’t realize the time and effort that has gone into a hiring decision. The company has vetted you and other candidates and views you as someone with value. Don’t sell yourself short by settling for an offer that you feel is not reasonable.

2. Do your research. Know what the position pays in the city where you will be working. There are many sources for researching salary information including, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder.

3. Be prepared to justify your salary request. Any successful negotiation should include both parties being present with accurate and timely information so that the best decision can be made. Salary negotiations are no different. List out ways that you will bring value to the position and company. Do you have management experience, what problems have you solved for other companies, is your education unique, do you have certifications, etc. Anything and everything from your work and education history should be presented and considered.

4. Greed should never be the driving reason behind your request for a higher salary. Always emphasize throughout the negotiations that you want to settle on an amount that makes sense for both parties. This amount should accurately reflect your value to the company and have nothing to do with your mortgage, car payment, or desire to buy a boat. An employer doesn’t care about the salary that you need or want. They care about getting value for their money.

When it comes to salary negotiations for a new hire, companies rarely give their best offer right out of the gate. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. But do it in a way that is honest and respectful, keeping both parties interest in mind. It will not only make you feel better about your new job, it may actually gain you immediate respect from your new employer.

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8 Steps to Getting a "Yes" From Your Boss

By ATR International |   Tue, Jun 05, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

Having a great idea at work can be exciting. Getting your idea shot down because you didn’t present it properly can be demoralizing. If only you would have said “this,” or been prepared to answer “that.” Having an idea is only the beginning, getting it implemented is more of a challenge. Here are 7 steps that will help you.

1. You are your own company
Think of yourself as your own company. How would you pitch your idea to potential investors? What would make them want to be a part of your idea? This is the mindset you should have before taking it to your boss. Think about how your idea will do one of two things; help the company become more profitable or help the company become more efficient. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale, but your idea should fall into one of those two categories to stand a chance of being viewed favorably.

2. Know the hot buttons
Know your bosses hot buttons. Know what is important to him. He has people to report to, so any new idea needs to be angled as a solution to one of his main concerns. You may love your idea, but if your boss doesn’t see how it connects to what is important to him then you will be fighting a tough battle to get approval.

3. It’s not about your needs
Just because you want a new Mac doesn’t mean the company is going to switch from PC’s. Your idea needs to be about the betterment of the company and must avoid all perceptions that it is self-serving.

4. Roll out
Take some time to document how you see a roll out happening. You don’t have to be perfect with this one but demonstrate that you have thought things through and your boss will view your idea, and you, more favorably.

5. What does success look like
Your boss is going to want to know the end result of implementing your idea. What will success look like? See if you can find other instances of similar ideas at other companies. The more supporting data you have, the better your chances.

6. Answer all the “no’s” beforehand
You should know your boss well enough to anticipate his/her questions when you present your idea. Try to anticipate all the reasons that will come up against your idea and formulate answers ahead of time.

7. Cost
Cost is always an issue. Your boss most likely has a budget and fitting your idea into the budget may be challenging. Make sure you have researched all of the associated costs of implementing your idea. Being able to prove that the Return on Investment (ROI) will be worth the initial expense is another key to success.

8. Accept responsibility
Make it clear that you want to accept all of the responsibility of implementing your idea, good and bad. This takes some of the burden, although not all of it, off of your boss’ shoulders making a “yes” more likely.

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