Interviews: The Key Fundamental


We’re living in a world that’s become increasingly sophisticated; (feel free to substitute the word complicated for sophisticated if you wish).

While progress is often a good thing, it can completely intimidate some, leaving them far behind when it comes to interviewing. All these new interview formats and techniques have interviewees feeling overly stressed, resulting in many not interviewing at their best. Few people love interviews and so it’s easy to understand few take the time to improve their interviewing skills. After all, if you don’t like interviews, it’s not likely you’ll invest time voluntarily participating in the experience.

For you then, here’s the key to a successful experience; for no matter how complicated things seem to be, this one fundamental will help you reduce your stress levels and compete better. What is it?

See the interview for what it is. An interview is a conversation between two or more people. That’s it. You have conversations – and therefore interviews – many times during the day. Those are not high stress interactions. You’ll notice that although I’ve intentionally omitted the word, ‘job’ to this point, you’ve probably inserted it as you’ve read along. Thus you read, “See the job interview for what it is.”

A job interview is at its heart just conversation between two or more people where the agreed upon subject is an opportunity. Indulge me by re-reading that again. A job interview is a conversation between two or more people where the agreed upon subject is an opportunity. I’d remind you that this opportunity is not solely for the person applying for the job, but also for the organization conducting the job interviews.

If you are fearful and intimidated by the job application process; if you wish you could bypass the job interview and just get hired, it’s likely you perceive the interview very differently than those who embrace them. Yes, it’s likely you see the job interview as this unpleasant experience you must endure where the job interviewer judges you and decides your fate, most often rejecting you personally. If so, is it any wonder that even the subject of job interviews gets your stomach churning and you view them as a necessary evil to be avoided at all costs? No wonder there are people right now who hate their jobs but refuse to quit because it will mean choosing to put themselves through more job interviews!

Seriously, it’s just a conversation about an opportunity. In a conversation, participants contribute to the discussion; not always equally if you think about it, but both sides do contribute. A job interview is no different. The employer represented by the interviewer or interviewers, wants to learn about you, what motivates you, what you might bring and contribute to their organization. They ask about your experience, education and skills in order to flesh out as best they can who you are and most importantly how you align with what they know to be their needs.

You however? You’ve got a stake in this too. Your after information on perhaps the working conditions, the culture of the organization, the management style of the person you’d be reporting to, the autonomy the position demands, the benefits of working with the company, how they view the consumers of their goods and services. You’re likely to want to know the expectations they have, and in short whether this move would be a good fit for you for the foreseeable future. Hence, they’ve got questions and so should you.

Now think please of the first time you meet people. Back to the beginning when you two introduce yourselves. If the person you are meeting looks stressed and clearly uncomfortable, it’s probable that you’re first impression isn’t favourable and you’ll remove yourself early, ceasing to invest more time with them. You’ve sized that person up pretty quickly based on the limited information you gathered and you excused yourself.

Those who interview job applicants do exactly the same thing. Hence, it’s extremely important to make that all important good first impression. Get past the first 30 seconds with a smile, a friendly, “Hello, it’s very nice to meet you”, and an expression of gratitude for meeting with them and you’re on your way.

As you settle in, you’ll be asked questions and this is your opportunity to market yourself to their advertised needs. Doesn’t it stand to reason that those who best show that they’ll bring what the company said they want will be the best fit and get the job offers? They may ask the majority of the questions I grant, but you get to do the bulk of the talking as you phrase your replies. Remember to focus your answers on the questions asked, and the only way they will know you can do what you claim is to demonstrate via specific examples that prove to them you’ve got what it takes.

Essential to remember is that your body, at least as much as your words, communicates. Look engaged, interested, focused and dressed appropriately.

Instead of an interrogation where you voluntarily go to be executed, the job interview is your opportunity – and theirs – to determine if the match between the employer and you is a good fit for both. This fundamental shift in your thinking; how you perceive the job interview, may be the one thing you do that changes how you perform.

It starts in the mind!

 

 

Be Nice


You may have big plans on where you see yourself in 2, 5 or 20 years from now. Conversely, you might not have a clue where life will take you; you have no idea what you’ll be doing in 3 weeks let alone years into your future. No matter what might be ahead in your future, one of the best things you can do now and along the way to wherever you land, you can do no better favour for yourself than to be nice along the way.

Now, already the ‘A’ type personality folks are assembling and some among them are saying that being nice gets you nowhere; that it’s a dog eat dog kind of world. Nice people are fodder to be chewed up and spit out, walked over and left on the lower rungs of the corporate ladders. They might say that nice guys finish last, that you’ve got to claw and fight your way up to every hand-hold you can clasp on the way up because nobody but nobody who amounts to anything will reach back and give you a hand up.

I suppose there are people like that; well let’s be entirely honest – there’s no supposing about it. Yes, there are people and professions that attract those kind of people with those kind of mentalities.

For the majority of us however, what is the price of being nice? Weigh any answer you come up with against the question, what is the price of not being nice? There’s the little gestures and the big ones of course. The big ones are the ones that most often make the headlines; the customer who drops a $3,000 tip for the waitress, the celebrity television host who treats the entire audience with gifts and goodies, makes wishes come true for ordinary people on the shows etc. They’ve got the untold wealth and corporate backing to be the face of niceness.

You and me though? Well, we’re likely just your everyday people; folks who work regular jobs, won’t ever gain widespread recognition. The emergence of social media has given us a platform to share our smiling faces with the world, and that’s likely the most public exposure we’re likely to garner.

Being nice can be self-serving of course and let’s be honest, it sure makes us feel good to do good for others. Drop some coins in a panhandlers cap, open a door for someone, give praise to someone who guts out a personal challenge and part of us feels good inside for doing so. Nothing wrong with making yourself feel good. Do more of it I say.

When you’re nice it can have some ripple effects too. You smile at me and I smile back. A few steps later, I give that smile to someone else and like the wave at a sporting event, it catches on and gets shared. Being nice is like that. I’ve seen first-hand people in cafe’s buy a drink for a stranger in line behind them and then that stranger do likewise for someone else. These aren’t just stories of the goody two-shoes types; these are real people. Sometimes the beneficiary of an act of kindness isn’t thankful true enough, but then again sometimes the beneficiary receives an unexpected act of kindness right at the moment when they needed it most; that reminder of the good around them. It can pull people sharply into the moment if they’ve been wandering around in their own little world, feeling ignored or invisible.

Being nice doesn’t have to cost any money whatsoever though. It can mean asking a co-worker how they’re doing and actually stopping long enough to show you really want to know. It can mean recalling something they told you two days ago and then following up with an inquiry about how that evening went or how that trip with the kids to the theme park turned out. Being nice could mean investing a tad of yourself in what that other person shares as important to them or meaningful to them.

Being nice might mean things that never get seen, never get recognized but nonetheless make things better for others. Maybe you do up a few dishes that aren’t yours at work, you make sure the toilet seat is clean every time you leave the washroom, you sharpen a few pencils at the Reception desk or keep the stapler stocked each morning so someone never gets frustrated looking for a pen.

I was saying to a colleague just yesterday that it was ironic that I was interviewed for a job years later by a woman whose children I supervised while working in a Boys and Girls Club decades ago. Good thing I was nice to both her and her kids! Who could have predicted that life would bring us back into contact that way in a completely different city and context?

Want to shock the person you’re in a relationship with? Send them an email or instant message that reads nothing more than, “Thinking of you just now.” Nice!

Yes, what if you did the odd thing or two simply with a goal and nothing more beyond being nice? You’d better watch out; you might develop a reputation for being a nice person!

Should you find that your acts of kindness go unnoticed or you get taken advantage of, be nice anyhow. We need more people like you.

 

Dear Employer: On Behalf Of Your Applicants


If you read all the blog posts I’ve penned – yes all 1,197 of them; you’d find that the majority are directed at the people looking to get or keep their employment. The minority of the posts I write are directed at the people who represent the companies that applicants approach for employment. This post is one of them.

So hello there! Whether you’re the owner/operator or an employee yourself tasked with finding the best talent out there to fulfill your needs, I implore you to read the 900 words I’ve put down here and then reflect a little. Please do add your comments from your perspective as that would be very helpful to others.

Okay, so you need a person or people to join your workforce. That’s great news for you and great news for those who are looking to make a contribution and start working with your organization. Understandably time is money and you’d like to get a hold of the best people to choose from in the least amount of time. You and I both know you’ll get applications ranging from highly qualified and professional to hardly qualified at all and desperate.

Sure it would be nice if you only received applications from the cream of the crop out there but there’s a lot of people looking for fewer jobs than exist in our tight economy. Still, behind every application, resume and cover letter, there’s a real person offering up their skills, experience and education to work with your firm. Let’s remember that; those people are…well…people. They’ve got hopes, dreams, and feelings just like you and me.

On behalf of those applying, thanks first of all for including what you’re really looking for in your postings. That saves you and the job seekers time trying to figure out which jobs need what skills and experience. You’ve done your part if you’re clear about these; oh and including a bit about the environment and what the person would actually do is much appreciated. Now it’s up to those applicants to target their applications to your needs.

When you do get applications, I imagine like so many other employers I hear from, you’re a little overwhelmed. It’s flattering actually isn’t it to think so many people were attracted by your advertisement that they applied? On the other hand that’s a lot of applications to go through, especially when you assume you’ll have everything from near perfect candidates to very poor ones. Still, it’s a nicer problem than having too small a number apply and wondering what you have to do to attract the best talent.

I can’t tell you how much just acknowledging you’ve received someone’s application means to those who took the time to apply. The discouragement and disappointment people feel when they pin their hopes on getting an interview and not even getting contacted is extremely distressing. You see it’s not just you they applied to but many jobs with many organizations. It’s pretty hard to consistently be that happy, positive person putting their best foot forward over a prolonged job search.

Just promise to acknowledge all those who apply and you’ll get a reputation for being a compassionate and respectful employer. That would be a good thing wouldn’t it? You know, the kind of employer that really gets it; that empathizes with the applicants they attract. That line in the posting that says, “We appreciate all the applications but only those qualified will be contacted for an interview” wears a little thin when very qualified people apply and don’t even get verification you got the application in the first place.

That takes time of course and someone’s time to respond. That one could argue is the cost of doing business though. You both have needs; you an employee to do work and they a job where they can contribute and produce income.

Everyone knows you can’t hire all the applicants. They get that. What every applicant hopes for though is to be recognized for the effort of the application. Sure you get applications from some that are too general and don’t address your needs. Maybe however those people are doing what they think is right. How will they ever learn what they need to know if they get zero feedback though?

Oh, and could you please stay open to hearing people in interviews and resist the urge to measure them up against your personal prejudices. By prejudices, I mean assuming young people have no maturity or older workers can’t learn anything new and will drain your health care plans. I tell you this; give these two groups of people your open view and you’ll find some real gems.

You wouldn’t believe how appreciative some people with gaps in their resumes will be if you give them a chance. Maybe they cared for a dying parent, raised a family or coped with a broken marriage but now have taken the steps to ensure these factors are no longer a barrier. That would be precisely why they are applying now…they are ready.

Look, you want good people; the best in fact. We all get that. All I’m saying is while you’re not a charity, you can be respectful. Don’t become jaded and just another faceless, uncaring organization. You don’t want that reputation or you’ll attract more of the wrong people.

So, how about your side of things? Comments?

 

The Benefits Of Work


“Why would I want to work?”

I had a man ask me this question yesterday. I couldn’t tell if he was be sarcastic, flippant or genuinely asking for a couple of seconds. However I tried, the usual visual cues weren’t there for me to pick up on. He didn’t have a wry smile, wasn’t folding his arms across his chest in defiance or really give anything away; so I took him as seriously asking and found out shortly I’d been right to do so.

After I gave him some of the many benefits and reasons people work, I started to think that there had to be others like him. So, this is for the ones who really don’t understand why people would choose to work. Please add your own reasons in the comments section.

  1. Purpose. Waking up in the morning feeling you’re contributing to something, or making the lives of others better in the work that you do gives one’s life meaning. Without purpose, a person can feel aimless, lost, lacking direction. Waking up and wondering what you’ll do with your day is nice occasionally, but as a fixed routine can lose its appeal quickly.
  2. Contribution. This can be a hard sell to someone who feels that the world owes them a living. Contributing your skills, experience, knowledge, wisdom, failures and successes with others actually gives back in many ways. If you don’t like the current way things are done in some area, get involved and work to change what you see could be better. Change from within and not from a distance is very effective.
  3. Learn. When you learn you grow, when you’re ripe you rot. Learning doesn’t just happen the first few days and weeks on a job. Some of the smartest people I know realize that learning happens every day in some way. Whether it’s in some small way or a huge change in how one does their work, learning never stops. When you’re not working, this can be impossible for some to grasp.
  4. Responsibility. Being responsible isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, this accountability can be extremely beneficial. A worker is but a part of a larger group of workers, and mutual responsibility means showing up on time with regularity and punctuality. It means being depended upon and counted on to add to an organization and in so doing lighten the load of others; bring your gifts to projects and make things better.
  5. Income. Not number one; but yes work provides income. Income alone isn’t what it’s about but rather, what income allows you to buy or invest in. Living where you choose, in accommodations that don’t just protect you from the elements but enhance your appreciation of the world around you. Money gives you the means to travel, eat better, visit those people and places that add to the richness of your life.
  6. Good mental health. Work is good for your brain; your mental stability; your intellect and what it wards off. Work and you stave off some anxiety and depression. You get more control of yourself and the world you experience. As you work, your brain cells get stimulated, you enrich your days and have things to talk about at day’s end that you’ve accomplished, struggled with, experienced and been a part of.
  7. Self-Confidence. Work and you’ll feel good about yourself. There’s that first pay cheque, the moments when the boss tells you you’re doing well, you complete something without having to be shown how, you create a product or give great service. “I can do this!” is a great feeling.
  8. Inclusion. You ward off isolation when you work because you’re part of a company, you work on a team, you interact better with those around you; feel like you’re a part of a group and yes, you are needed and appreciated. Whether a second family or not, your co-workers can become people you actually care about, and yes, they’ll care about you too.
  9. Self-control. When you work, you decide how much to spend and how much to save. You decide what to buy and what to save up for too. When someone far away is ill or you just want to see your family who live far away you have the means to get there. Save some each pay and you’ll have the money to get by if there’s a downturn in the economy, you get laid off, or you want to change jobs.
  10. Physical health. Work means physical exertion and movement. Not only is that good, but if you get ill, you’ll either have a health plan through an employer or have the money to invest privately in health care if you choose. Now you have the money to eat healthier foods, eat regularly and eat guilt-free.

There are many reasons to work and these 10 aren’t the entire list. Yes, there are people who don’t work and depend entirely on the generosity of others to live. They work in a very real sense too of course; some begging for handouts, others collecting beer cans and bottles to exchange. Some live on social assistance, dependent entirely on governments and taxpayers to decide their income. It is possible to go through one’s life and not ‘work’ in the traditional sense.

Work doesn’t mean you’re miserable for 7 or more hours a day. It is for many a rich, rewarding use of their time they appreciate.

Discriminated Against For Being Older?


My job as an Employment Counsellor brings me into contact with a wide spectrum of people. Whenever I sit down with someone I invariably get around to asking them why they are unemployed; what they see as their barriers standing between them and working. One of the most common things I hear is, “My age might be a problem.”

The question of how old is too old comes up a lot. I’ve met some very active people in their 60’s who can outwork people half their age. By contrast I’ve seen some people in their early 40’s who move and behave like their 80.

I want to admit right upfront that there is a limited amount you can do to change the beliefs, attitude and yes prejudices of an interviewer or company that has determined what they regard as too old to hire. Having said that however, there is a lot you have 100% control over when it comes to the issue of age. It should come as no surprise that some of you reading this post will take my admission that there’s a limited amount you can do as justification for doing nothing. Others will gravitate to the positives; the proactive suggestions which can lead an interviewer or organization to reconsider their original position and extend an offer of employment to an older applicant.

First of all let’s look at what employers are concerned about with respect to aging workers. These may or may not apply to you, but as broad generalizations, some employers concerns with older workers are that they are:

  • set in their ways, resistant to learning new methods
  • education is dated, ongoing professional development poor
  • physical limitations, slowing down; a drain on health benefits
  • out of touch with technological advancements
  • close to retirement; a weak return as an investment

You may have others you could add to the list above. Please don’t get defensive as we’re just establishing some of the real opinions out there in the real world; whether they apply to you or me personally isn’t at issue. These are broad generalizations that are the realities one might be up against.

Okay, so now what? How does one go about countering the stereotypes of the ‘older’ generation of workers? A good place to start is with an honest look in the mirror. Not seeing what you want to see, but seeing yourself from another’s perspective; that of an employer. From the employer’s point of view, they’re looking for applicants that can join their organization and in as short a time as possible, start contributing.

Companies spend a lot of time building up their reputation. A small company just starting out needs to make money as soon as possible to stay afloat. They have no room to carry workers who don’t make immediate contributions to the bottom line. Larger organizations have already gone through growing pains and made adjustments to how they produce and deliver their services and goods. They need people to come in, assimilate into their workforce and not question how and why they do the things they do; just do the job you’re hired to do. Presuming you know better than the people who are in leadership roles and the existing workforce isn’t a way to stay employed long, unless of course you’re specifically recruited to bring about change.

Where it really starts of course is with you personally. Before you even apply for jobs, some changes might be well-advised. Your wardrobe might be dated; maybe you’re too formally dressed in that shirt, tie and suit jacket when the employees are dressed more casually. Look at your posture too. Are you walking stooped over, your shoulders slouched forward or shuffling your feet instead of walking upright with the energy and focus you had 15 years ago? In other words, if you don’t want to be judged as old, don’t come across as old.

Older workers have big upsides and you might need to remind yourself of this. You’ve got more than just work experience my friend, you’ve got life experience. You might just be the stabilizing force on a team of younger workers; the one who is more level-headed; not too high, not too low. You’re possibly in a place to mentor others while at the same time open to learning from those your junior. Be receptive to learning new ideas, embrace innovation and fight that stereotype of being an old dog who can’t learn new tricks.

A really good suggestion is an easy one; smile. Well, easier said than done for some, but a frowning, bitter face that scowls out at the world and comes across as negative isn’t attractive. Don’t project that the world owes you an income. View this new employer as your ally, your partner, not your enemy.

If you take a few courses and add these to your résumé you’ll be more attractive to employers too. Far too many people of all ages stop learning once they are working and have expired licences and certificates they didn’t bother renewing. Oh and because much of the general population is older, you might point out to an employer that their customer base might just appreciate being served by people who look like them; in other words, you’ll attract business.

Bottom line here? If you want to face the issue of being too old to work, don’t fit that stereotype yourself. Change what’s in your power to control.

What Does, “I Want To Be Better” Mean?


Many of us strive to be better; be it as a spouse or partner, leader, student, athlete, writer, employee or otherwise. We might have our sights set on eating better; perhaps living better generally. The word, ‘better’ though, while one we might toss about with widespread agreement from those within earshot as a laudable goal, doesn’t necessarily assure a widespread shared understanding. What I mean is, your definition of, ‘better’ might not be the same as those who hear your words.

Now I’m an Oxford Dictionary fan when it comes to definitions, so in turning there I find this definition when used as an adjective:

Better: More appropriate, advantageous, or well advised. More desirable, satisfactory, or effective.

Okay, so how does this square with how you define the word, ‘better’? Now you may be wondering at the benefit of reading a post devoted to the term, ‘better’ and coming to understand or revisit what it means to be better. Your time may be well spent though as sometimes the wisest thing to do is look at the simplest of things.

You want to be better at your job let’s suppose. Maybe you even go so far as to announce at your team meeting that you’ve set this as your personal goal. If you’re bold enough or in a position of influence or leadership, you might even propose that the team strive to be better as a unit. You know, one of those, “As good as we are we can and must be better” kind of speeches. I’ve given these myself in the past. Where I failed however, was not so much in communicating that we must be better, but rather coming to a shared understanding of what ‘better’ meant.

Looking back at that definition above, here again are the words defining ‘better’:

  • more appropriate
  • more advantageous
  • more well advised
  • more desirable
  • more satisfactory
  • more effective

Alright, so pick what resonates or fits best with what  you’re after. If having a team that is more well advised is going to make the team and every member of it more effective and bring about more desirable results, maybe this is what you mean by using the term, ‘better’.

Using this as a starting place, the question then becomes how does the team become better advised? To be better advised works from a premise that some learning is required to stay abreast of what may be best practices. As we know, there are many examples of where people and companies worked hard to become leaders in their fields of expertise and then sat on their laurels, ceased to engage in continuous learning and over time, lost their place as front runners and industry leaders. Younger, hungrier people and organizations usurped them from their places because they explored, risked, embraced turbulence and entertained innovation.

What has this got to do specifically with you though? Well, on the simplest of terms, are you striving to be better? As an person in your organization or as a team member or representative of the company, are you aiming to perform at the same level of competence and give the same level of customer service, or do you see room for improving upon what you now deliver?

If you’re goal is improve and become better, I suppose you need to find in what way(s) or in what area(s) you see room for improvement. Note that it’s likely the very area(s) in which you find ways you could be better may also present challenges for you. In other words, you may know what you need to do to become better but it will require work; hard work perhaps, to get there. Hard work as you likely know, stops most people from even starting – especially if they don’t see immediate returns on the investment to become better.

It is for this very reason that a person contemplating a return to school knows that getting a degree would be highly beneficial and they’d be better able to compete for a job they want, but the work involved stops some before they start. “I don’t know, it’s three years…and I don’t know if I want to spend the time.”

To become better however, a person has to begin with an acknowledgement that better is possible. It may be that things are fair for the time being, but to be better involves the necessity of change. Some kind of new opportunity; an exposure to something new, be it an idea, technology, a philosophy or method of service delivery perhaps; but change in some way comes about.

So do you want to be better and if so, in what areas of your personal or professional life? Are you after a better job, a better income, a better lifestyle or becoming a better co-worker maybe? What you wish to become better at is entirely up to you.

The cost of stagnating and ceasing to become better could mean at its worst, the end of your job, a relationship, your marriage, your career or business. Many businesses fail because they failed to market themselves better and didn’t connect with the buyers in the marketplace.

If you’re an individual wanting to be better, assess your skills, experience and what you’ll need in the future vs. what you have now. Starting sooner than later is good advice.

How would you like to be better?

Did You Realize 2017 Is 50% Done?


For some of us, time crawls by at a snail’s pace while for others it goes so fast people will say, “Where did the time go?”

For all of us however, no matter where you live on this globe, 2017 is pretty much 50% over already; it now being mid-July. Okay technically July 10 is not the mid-point of the calendar year, but it is close enough to dead middle that a small bit of reflection on how things are progressing is a good idea.

If you’re the type who makes resolutions with the flip of the calendar on January 1st each year, I suppose it’s only logical to ask yourself how you’re faring. Yes, you might be right on track with your goals, monitoring them daily or weekly, and if you’re doing so and succeeding then congratulations are in order! On the other hand, if you’d made a few resolutions; private or public, and you’ve let them drop by the wayside, you’re likely not enjoying thinking about the change you envisioned and planned with good intentions to undertake didn’t actually materialize. Was the goal too lofty? The intentions good but no real plan put in place?

There are of course the typical resolutions one makes; lose weight, eat healthier, save more money, get out and meet people, find a good job, return to school etc. Each of these are commendable to be sure and for those who set these goals and reach them a pat on the back isn’t out-of-order. However, it can be discouraging to realize that those goals are still not being reached and you’re floundering. That you set those goals in the first place was good of course; presumably you set the goal(s) because you wanted whatever it or they were.

So setting the goal wasn’t a bad idea. I suppose then that rather than beating yourself up over having, “failed again”, the thing to really do is come to a realization. If the goal is important enough, it’s never a bad time to start anew. In other words, don’t throw out the goal in July because you’ve not made any progress in the first half of the year.

Some of the things you may have wanted to do are still obtainable. Take the person who vowed they would start their Christmas shopping earlier in 2017 so they weren’t scrambling in mid-December. If that someone is you, this is your gentle reminder to be on the lookout for Christmas gifts now. It will be easier on your finances perhaps to start now, spreading out purchases, and you can perhaps get deals now on things harder to think of later. Perhaps visiting a pottery studio you pass on a driving trip to pick up a unique handcrafted item?

If your goals included finding a decent job in 2017, how is that coming along? While March is typically the number one hiring time of the year, August/September is right up there at number two and is fast approaching. So yes maybe you can still prepare for this second wave by getting yourself ready now. Dust off that old resume and update it. Go through your closet and drawers and give what you’ll never wear again to charity so you know where your work clothing is sparse and needs replacing.

Take advantage of the good weather to get yourself out in the community in which you live and interact with people. Set up a face-to-face with some people you’ve connected to, line up your references, sign up for that first aid training because your certification has expired. Look up some interview questions and answers for your chosen profession on the internet. Get a hold of a job posting or job description if you can for a position you’d be interested in and see how your skills, experience and education align with the employers’ needs.

With the year half over, the good news is the year has 50% left before we don the New Years Eve hats and blow on the noisemakers again. That’s good news because half a year is plenty time to make some progress if you’ve got yourself stuck in neutral. In other words, taking stock of what you didn’t get done on December 31st is a poor practice because there’s not time to do anything at that point. Here in July however, well, you can take a few steps forward.

If by the way you’re employed already, was there something you thought would be a good idea back in 2016 that had to do with your current job? Be a better team player? Take less sick days? Work with a little more organization and have a tidier desk? Maybe it was staying on top of your emails? Goals need not be lofty and in fact, sometimes a series of small goals which you reach can help build momentum for the really big challenges.

Maybe pulling out your performance evaluation will remind you of what you set out as your goals at work for 2017. If you’re accountable for hitting your targets, don’t ignore what you’ll eventually have to face.

Here’s a last thought as well on goals you may have set for yourself. If the goals are too extreme or no longer relevant, modify or drop them altogether. Setting a goal or two that’s relevant to you will have more meaning and increase the chances for success.