If you don’t change your direction, you will likely end up where you are heading. – Lao Tzu
How well did you do in 2015? Did you achieve all your 2015 todo’s? Good for you if you did, if you did not, that’s fine you can do better in 2016. But what if you don’t have a to-do list? Well, I think it is time for you to create one. If you received a daily planner gift last Christmas, now is the time to use it.
Before preparing your career in the year 2016, it is very important to reflect and assess your previous year. Accomplishments, even small and simple can help boost your motivation. Do you remember that satisfied client you had last June 2015? Remembering simple accomplishments like that can be a pat on your back saying “You are doing well!”.
Trivia: Did you know that thinking of your accomplishments will give you pleasure (you know the ethical pleasure)? Thinking of your achievements in the year 2015 will send dopamine to your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It is a chemical messenger that helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other vital areas. As a result, dopamine will impact you in many ways: motivation, memory, behavior and cognition, attention, sleep, mood, and learning. That’s a great start for you in the year 2016, isn’t it? So do yourself a favor and think of the positive things you did in 2015.
What should you do?
A simple method that you can do to assess yourself on the year 2015 is to review what you have accomplished:
What goals did you reach this year?
What went well? Do more of it in 2016.
What went wrong? How can you fix it?
In the same manner, evaluating your next actions to attain your goals for 2016 is also important. If you don’t evaluate yourself and your achievements, you will never know where you are in your desired success.
Prepare Your 2016 Career Goals
Ask yourself, “What projects do I need to move forward to year 2016?”. Start to prioritize and rank each project. Make a prioritized To-Do list for each month, each week and each day. Start with each month and drill down on how you will achieve them weekly and daily. Make sure to be specific with the goals that you want to achieve.
Note: This may seem a lot of things to do but this will help you achieve and keep track of your goals.
2016 Career Goals
In the list below, you may find some goals that you want to achieve in the year 2016; however, these are just examples, you might find yourself in a different situation so feel free to create your own 2016 career goals.
1. Job Goals. If you are a fresh graduate looking for a job since 2015, assess yourself if you are getting positive results in your job search. Maybe you need to search jobs in a different way. If you are just looking for a job in the traditional manner, why not look for a job in the internet. I am sure you will find a lot of job vacancies in Monster.com, Indeed or JobsDB. It would be helpful to read my blog post on the Top Job Sites in the Philippines and see if you get the job posts suitable for you. Evaluate yourself in each job post. Maybe you do not have the qualifications yet that’s why you are rejected in your interview. If that is the case, learn first the qualifications needed for the job—it could be a simple Microsoft Word proficiency, an important communication skill or a difficult Project Management knowledge. The problem could also be your resume, so take time in improving your resume. Here’s your guide in creating a Recent Graduate Resume.
2. Promotion Goals. We all desire for power. If your goal is to get promoted for the year 2016, know the politics in your office and master some leadership skills. Also, be sure to be prepared for a greater responsibility.
3. Skill Goals. What are the things you wish you knew in the year 2015? The skills that would have helped you in your 2015 activities. Is there a specific skill you want to master—Typing Skill, PowerPoint, Excel, Photoshop? Write them all down and give at least 4-5 hours a week this year to practice them. If you think you don’t have time, come on, we are on the era of online learning. Here are top online training sites where you can learn specific skills during your free time or at home.
4. Network Goals. Are there people you would like to talk to in the year 2016? Write them down and find a way to meet them. Maybe even exchange business card with them. Set a specific date where you can contact them and add them to your professional network. Here is a guide on building and maintaining your professional network.
5. Credibility Goals. Do you have a good online credibility? Search your name on Google and see if the search results are good for your career this 2016. Go to Facebook and check your profile. Maybe your Facebook image last time you got drunk at the party is seen publicly? Maybe you cursed in your posts in Twitter? In the year 2016, I am sure that online credibility is a big factor in someone’s career. Start checking your social media profiles now and hide bad posts you had in the past. If you really want to strengthen your brand this 2016, I suggest you create a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is a social networking site designed for professionals like you. At LinkedIn, you can build your professional identity online and stay in touch with colleagues and classmates. You can also find opportunities, business deals, and new ventures at LinkedIn. Who knows? The online generation is full of potential and what’s nice about it is you can use social media to build your brand and achieve success.
The Plan, Do, Review Cycle
After thinking of your 2016 career goals, use the Plan, Do, Review Cycle technique to plan your steps in achieving them. This is a technique that Martin Yate wrote in his book Knock ‘em Dead. Even though you have the goals written, it should not stop there because these goals must be achieved. Take these things into consideration when thinking of your steps:
Managing your time
Here is how you do it: At the end of every day, review what you’ve accomplished
1. What happened: A.M. and P.M.?
2. What went well? Do more of it.
3. What went wrong? How do I fix it?
4. What projects do I need to move forward tomorrow?
5. Rank each project:
A = Must be completed tomorrow.
B = Good to be completed tomorrow.
C = If there is spare time from A and B priorities.
6. Make a prioritized To-Do list.
7. Stick to it.
This Plan, Do, Review Cycle will keep you informed of your achievements and will let you know about the things that you invested your time in. In this way, you will feel better, sleep better, and come to work the next day with focus.
I am sure that your 2016 career goals will be achieved as long as you stick to the process. Good luck and Happy New Year!
Interviewer: What do you think is the greatest challenge facing your field today?
Interviewee: Well that’s easy. This industry is constantly changing and always growing. Just when you think you got to handle on everything there is to know, something new comes up. I think the greatest challenge today is staying up to date and keeping current with such a rapidly changing environment.
Do you believe that you know everything you need to know to do your job? Well, think again because here is the truth: the world around us is changing very fast. What you know about a certain software today gets obsolete after 6 months or a year. How you do Sales today gets outdated and seem to not work a year or two from now. Which leads me to the point that whatever field you are in, you need to update your skills. Your sales skills, presentation skills, web design skills, coding skills or whatever skill it is, you need to update to compete. There is no exemption. You need to keep current or you’ll get left behind.
Learning today is much easier compared to how our ancestors learned decades ago. Thanks to the advent of the internet, information is there—open to be discovered, to be used and to be shared. For example, if you want to know how to use Photoshop, you can just search it on Google and you can find blogs or you can watch YouTube videos related to Photoshop.
Now, if you are serious on learning a new skill or improving your professional skills, you can check out these top online training sites where you can discover and learn almost anything you want to know on a specific software or skill. You can even find an idea how to earn money (in your own way) by taking your learning skills to the next level.
Skillshare is an online training site where anyone can sign up to take a class and teach at the same time.
Their mission is pretty simple—‘Unlocking the world’s creativity’. They believe that everyone is creative and by giving tools to harness creativity, they can change lives for the better. And by dismantling the traditional barriers to learning, anyone, anywhere in the world can learn whatever they set their minds to.
Skillshare allows free membership but they also have premium membership of $10 a month or annual membership of $96, allowing users to watch all of their 1,900 and growing courses.
Coursera is an online training and education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take. What makes them different from other online training sites is the fact that their courses are taught by educators from known universities and organizations around the world.
Their courses cover subjects on Arts and Humanities, Business, Computer Science, Math and many more. They brag about their platform that’s based on proven teaching methods verified by top researchers. Like other training sites, they also provide interactive quizzes, peer graded assessments and they connect fellow learners and instructors. They also provide (optional) certificates after finishing a course.
Although Coursera have free courses, majority of their courses are fee-based.
Udemy was founded in 2010, designed to bring people together with expertise in different areas. Udemy provides tools and market for the experts—to make and sell courses, and take a cut of the proceeds.
With over 32,000 courses available, you can learn from almost any topic, mostly covering yoga, music, coding, marketing and graphic design.
On the other hand, the disadvantage of Udemy is the repetition of content in some courses. Some courses are also taught by non-english speakers making it distracting and difficult to understand. But overall, Udemy is a great place to learn and improve your skills.
Class on Demand is one of the top training authorities in the creative and media industry.
They have a wide selection of award-winning tutorials by industry experts and each course is full of tips and techniques that you can easily apply. Their tutorials cover popular software and hardware, i.e. from Adobe After Effects to GoPro Camera tutorials.
On the backside, Class on Demand’s courses are more expensive compared to other online training sites.
Founded in 1996, Virtual Training Company or simply VTC, is one of the world’s leading producers of online computer and software training. They started distributing cd-roms and then moved to web-based online training.
They are clear about the idea that anyone have the ability to learn to use computer software on their own time. With more than 1,000 courses, you can choose from subjects covering programming, databases and security. If you are seeking tutorials on Adobe Dreamweaver or Joomla, you can find it here too.
Tuts+ is one of the leading publisher of online tutorials and courses for self-directed learners to develop creative skills. Like Skillshare, its mission is to uncover users’ creativity. Their courses cover subjects on coding, design & illustration, music, photography, game development, craft and more.
With 620+ courses, Tuts+ helps users learn creative skills for only a $15 per month subscription.
Tuts+ is also a part of Envato’s creative ecosystem, contributing to its mission of helping people learn and earn online.
Lynda.com is simply the best online training site. Founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman and husband Bruce Heavin, Lynda.com is the most reliable and the leading online training company that helps anyone learn in variety of fields—business, software, technology and creative skills—for the purpose of achieving personal and professional goals.
The teachers and authors of lynda.com are top experts under the field. Courses have available exercise files to keep up with the lesson. They also provide professional certificate to finishers of each course. And being the leading online training site, you don’t have to pay each course, you only need to pay a subscription of $25 per month or P1,175 to get access to their 3,900 and growing courses. However, if you want to download the files offline and get the exercise files, you need to pay a premium subscription.
On April 2015, LinkedIn Corporation bought Lynda.com for $1.5 B. If you are in LinkedIn, you probably heard this news and who knows, LinkedIn, being a professional networking site, might connect with Lynda.com to help LinkedIn members improve their professional skills.
There are other online training sites you can find apart from this list. Acquire or master a skill needed in your industry. Keep learning and don’t get left behind. If you can’t afford to take any of the professional courses, you can just take the free courses available in Udemy, Skillshare or Lynda’s catalog. And you can always use the internet to improve your skills—read blogs, watch vlogs, listen to podcasts or read eBooks.
The learning method today is way much easier compared to how our ancestors learned way back, yet they learned great things that we know today and apply in our daily lives.
I wanted to become a doctor when I was in elementary. When I was younger, I was fascinated with doctors’ medical procedure and I was passionate in helping people in need of medical attention.
When I was in High school, as nurses got popular and known to earn higher salary than Filipino doctors, I dreamed that I will become a nurse. My motivation during that time was to earn high salary.
Then, during my Junior year in High school, I realized my strength in Mathematics when I became the Best in Math of our class. So, the changing dream continues, because of my newly discovered strength in Math, I, then wanted to become a Civil Engineer.
When I graduated as the Salutatorian and Best in Math of our batch, I was very happy to go to College because I thought I can pursue an Engineering course but unfortunately, even though I have a strong self-belief to pass the Entrance Examination, I realized that my parents cannot afford to let me study Engineering. My dream of becoming a civil engineer shattered. It was so horrible for me that I almost lose my sense of direction in life. Then, I thought to myself, if I can’t become a Civil Engineer what would I rather be? Looking back to my childhood years, I was exposed to our restaurant and Videoke business. I would witness my mother handle the cash, few employees and the overall operation of our business while my father would act as the bouncer (aka security guard) and stop our drunk customers from doing dangerous things. I have idolized my mother for that and I salute my father for his bravery. But because of my father’s drinking vices, our business turned bankrupt and my parents were not able to save any money for me and my siblings’ education. Looking back to their mistakes, I wanted to learn if I can do better than my parents, so I decided what I want to be… I want to become a business person.
That’s the main reason I took an Entrepreneurship course. Mind you, I worked my way because my parents don’t have money to send me to college and because I was so late in applying for any scholarships. The only scholarship I earned was Student Assistant scholarship in our university’s Main Library and few Dean’s List Scholarship (later in my college years). At our university’s Main Library, I used to read books and research on the internet during my vacant hours. I learned any topic that I find interesting and useful for my career. I researched how to format a PC, how to use the Windows OS command prompt, how to build a simple website, how to use Photoshop, GIMP, InDesign and Illustrator. I also researched the basics of programming and the basics of hypertext markup language (html) (you name it). I learned all those things not because I had to, but because I enjoy learning them. I even made my way to mastering a 45-60 wpm touch-typing speed. At our university’s main library, I discovered my strength and passion with computer while studying Entrepreneurship and getting acquainted with the world of Accounting (I also had a short-term interest on my Accounting subjects.) With my four years being a student assistant, I became a Dean’s Lister for 3 semesters and because of that, I saved money for myself. Also, to support my studies, sometimes I would tutor Algebra and Math of Investment to some students coming from different sections and courses. That’s how I discovered and improved my own strengths.
How to Discover Your Strengths
Right now you might be asking, “Why are you talking about yourself? What’s your point?” Well, my points are: First, I believe, that like me, your dreams and interests have also changed because of different reasons. And second, because I am going to use my strengths as an example in this article so that you can also discover your strengths. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Your strengths come in 3 forms: Gifts, Loves and Skills. I am going to define each one and later I am going to show you how to discover your hidden strengths.
These are the strengths that come naturally to you. The talents that came with you when you were born (You know, the so-called God-given talents). Sometimes, our gifts are naturally seen while we are young, but when we grow up, we forget that we have those gifts because we don’t practice them anymore.
Reflect back to the things that you can easily do when you were just a kid or when you were just a student. It would be helpful to ask a friend that knows you best to assess your gifts.
The strengths that you enjoy doing. These are your passions—your interests. These strengths can be visually seen on your hobbies. What do you usually love to do on your free time? If money were no object, what would you do for a career? Sometimes you can build a successful business with your hobbies, but of course, not all the time, there are lots of considerations in terms of a successful business. But right now, that’s not our focus, we’re going to discover your passions that are applicable to certain positions in the job market.
These are the strengths that you learned through education, training, classes, jobs you have held, extracurricular activities, etc. What are the skills that you acquired in your 4-year education and your current job?
Discovering Your Strengths Worksheets
Now, we’re going to dig deeper in your strengths. I am going to let you download and fill-out some worksheets. There is no right or wrong answer but you have to answer each worksheet as honestly as you can.
Discovering Your Gifts is composed of questions that you need to answer so that you will discover your inborn talents.
Discovering Your Gifts (360° Feedback) is the second part of Discovering Your Gifts. Ask someone who knows you best to fill this out. He/she will assess you in discovering your gifts. He/she could be your childhood friend, your sibling or one of your parents.
Discovering Your Loves is composed of questions that you need to answer so that you will discover your loves and passions.
Discovering Your Skills is designed so that you will discover the skills that you have acquired throughout your career.
Based on my parents’ restaurant business where I was exposed to as a child, I decided to study Entrepreneurship and business.
Discover Your Strengths. Each worksheet has a Results section where you need to tally your top strengths, go and write your top recurring strengths. Then, after that, transfer each result in the Discover Your Strengths Worksheet. You will uncover your top strengths by tallying the most recurring strengths in the My Top Strengths section. Lastly, you need to discover 3-5 careers that best relate to your strengths.
In my case, I have chosen a career in resume writing, blogging and sales. As a resume writer, I use my graphic design skills in each resume that I write (whichever is best for the client). I have also used my computer skills and fast typing speed in writing resumes (especially when clients are rushing). Being a resume writer also requires excellent writing skills that is why even though I don’t have a natural talent in writing, I am improving my writing skills by reading books and taking online courses.
As a blogger, I use my teaching skills in teaching my readers how to create targeted resumes.
And as a salesman, I use my sales skills and my introvert nature to listen to my clients rather than push products.
Keep learning new things and absorb new knowledge everyday. The advice that says “Do what you love and money will follow” is not totally correct because love alone is not enough to a guaranteed success. So, correcting that advice, “Do what you love and it’s more likely that money will follow… but you still need talent.”
Have you ever thought how it feels like to be creative? Creativity in the professional context is the generation of new ideas as they relate to a specific situation, challenge, or goal. If there’s a skill that someone should build up everyday, it is creativity. Even if you’re not a designer, you have to build your creativity because it is a skill that you can apply to anything you do in life—even in your career.
Look at how successful people built their names and brands by developing their creative ideas. A good example of creativity is how Steve Jobs lead the success of Apple.
Improve Your Creativity
So how can you build your creativity? According to New York Times Bestselling Author Martin Yate in his bestselling book Knock ’em Dead The Ultimate Job Search Guide, here are the rules that one should follow in order to build creativity:
Whatever you do in life, engage in it fully
Commit to developing competence in everything you do, because the wider your frame of reference for the world around you, the higher octane fuel you have to propel your ideas to acceptance and reality.
Learn something new everyday
Treat the pursuit of knowledge as a way of life. Absorb as much as you can about everything. Information exercises your brain and fills your mind with the ever-widening frame of reference that allows you to make creative connections where others won’t see them.
Catch ideas as they occur
Note them in your smartphone or on a scrap of paper. Anything will do, so long as you capture the idea.
Welcome restrictions in your world
They encourage creativity: Ask any successful writer, artist, musician, or business leader. Restrictions in time, money, or resources are all negative in initial impact, but they become the realities under which you must operate. Consequently, the professional defines those restrictions very carefully and then proceeds with the work under these new guidelines. From a production point of view (and creativity is all about giving abstract ideas some concrete form), restrictions make you think harder about the essentials and building blocks of your task. When you can take complex ideas and reduce them to their elemental parts, you have a real understanding of that task. Similarly, restrictions increase the need for simplicity in design, function, and expression, and simplicity leads to elegance no matter the project at hand. Restrictions are part of life; you can whine or suck it up and get on with the job.
Don’t spend your life glued to Facebook or TV
You need to live life, not watch it go by out of the corner of your eye. If you do watch television, try to learn something or motivate yourself with science, history, or biography programming. If you surf the Internet, do it with purpose.
Creative approaches to challenges can take time, but the longer you work on developing the supporting skills that bring creativity to life, the more often they will come fully formed and in a flash.
Based on surveys undertaken by Microsoft, Target Jobs, the BBC, Prospects, NACE and AGR, verbal communication was found to be the most sought after skills by employers.
While poor communication skills promote misunderstanding and hinder professional success, good communication skills are essential for anyone looking for job nowadays; in fact, every professional job today requires communication skills.
What’s good to know is that communication skills can be learned and as what Brian Tracy said, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”
Now, what are these communication skills that you need to learn? According to Martin Yate in his Knock ‘em Dead Series, “communication embraces much more than listening and speaking.” But communication has many facets. “When the professional world talks about communication skills, it is referring to four primary skills and four supportive skills,” he added.
The Primary Communication Skills
1. Verbal skills
Verbal skill, also known as spoken communication, is a skill that covers what you say and how you say it. Improve your verbal skill by following the basic rules of etiquette.
2. Listening skills
Listen to understand, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. You can learn a lot by listening. Just as your small talk can add value to an interaction, you have to learn to really listen and read between the lines when others are speaking to you. Well, it is indeed true that one of the most respected but least practiced polite behaviors is listening. Most of us would agree that problems could be solved more quickly and a lot more could be accomplished if people would just listen. So…what constitutes a good listener?
If you are not really interested, or it is just not a good time, say so. Show others the respect of not wasting their time. If you do initiate a conversation or ask a question, focus on the speaker and make a sincere effort to listen to the response.
Speak with your body language.
Use your body. Your body language should show interest. Make direct eye contact as you listen, and smile or nod if you agree with what is being said to encourage the speaker to go on. Don’t fold your arms across your chest or fidget as both these behaviors can signal close mindedness.
Ask intelligent, relevant questions.
Don’t pretend to understand something if you don’t and don’t let a speaker go on and on about something if you haven’t the foggiest idea what they’re trying to say. It’s far more courteous to stop the speaker and ask for clarification.
Do not interrupt unless absolutely necessary. As in the case of seeking clarification. If you must interrupt, make eye contact and say the speaker’s name and then your reason for interrupting. Make the interruption brief and do not take over the speaker’s role unless the interrupted speaker indicates it’s appropriate to do so. Keep in mind that inappropriate interruptions are not always verbal. Be careful not to sigh, groan, roll your eyes, shift your weight or change your posture in such a way as to indicate a nonverbal interruption.
Wait your turn to speak.
Take turns when communicating in a group discussion. Do not monopolize the speaker’s role. It is not always fundamental to take a turn speaking about every topic. Show consideration for others in the group by letting everyone share the limelight. If someone who is especially shy or rarely speaks up shows interest in a topic, maybe consider letting them have your speaking turn too.
You are not listening if you are responding in your head while the person is speaking. Pay attention next time someone is speaking to you. If you notice you have started speaking to yourself in your head, analyzing what they’ve said or formulating your next comment, you’re really not listening. Give yourself time to hear their complete thought and then formulate your response. This is a good way to avoid speaking in haste and saying the wrong thing too.
3. Writing skills
Clear written communication is essential for your success in any professional career because it creates a lasting impression of who you are.
4. Technological communication skills
The know-how on navigating the new communication media is essential nowadays. Data-entry, emailing and social networking skills are just few of the technological communication skills that you should learn in order to stay employable.
The Four Supportive Communication Skills
These skills are subtler, but, nevertheless, they impact every interaction you have with others.
1. Grooming and dress
To be able to function and fit in in today’s society, you must make sure your personal grooming is up to standard. Job opportunities, relationship possibilities, and invitations to parties and other social events are all inextricably linked to how you present yourself to the world.
2. Social graces
Social graces are demonstrated by how you behave around others. If your table manners are sketchy, odds are you’ll never sit at the CEO’s table or represent your organization at the higher levels.
3. Body language
This displays how you’re feeling deep inside. This is a form of communication that mankind learned before speech. For truly effective communication, what your mouth says must be in harmony with what your body says.
4. Emotional IQ
Emotional IQ or EQ is your emotional self-awareness, your maturity in dealing with others in the full range of human interaction.