How to Step Up Your Career in a Short Time

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Complacency is a common phenomenon that affects the workforce. It can manifest as patterns of employees taking fewer risks, neglecting to share ideas for continuous improvement, and skipping great professional development opportunities. Employees can get stuck in a rut. It happens to people settled in a company for many years and people who quickly master their duties soon after joining a new firm. If managers fail to address complacency, established workers can fail to progress to the next stage of their respective careers. Here's sound advice for managers and direct reports on how to step up your career in a short time:

1. Block time to immerse yourself in the publications trending in your industry. In the digital age, we have numerous noises to filter out. We may fail to make time to read the latest developments in industry magazines, newsletters, blogs, and conference proceedings, which are rich in ideas for expanding our skills and anticipating the needs of our customers.

2. Immerse yourself in mentoring and coaching activities. This could include working with a coach who is preparing you for a promotion and dedicating at least an hour a week to helping co-workers with less experience who are learning their jobs and developing their own skills.

3. Establish a new personal goal for each month. A typical job includes goals for productivity, workplace behavior, and professional development, many of which a manager tracks for the purpose of employee performance appraisal. Creating a personal goal challenges you to work harder in an area that is relevant to your current interests.

When you find yourself in a rut, a new position might just create the spark you need to keep your career from plateauing. Visit our career page to learn more.

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Managing Upwards How to Work With Demanding Managers

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Managers in mid-level positions know that it's important to excel at managing upwards, especially knowing how to work with demanding managers. Many of these individuals belong to the next level of management, but they do not directly oversee a manager's work. The key to managing upwards is using approaches that do not threaten managers who are higher up in the chain of command. Such approaches require effective communication and professional tactics. They also require being attuned to all of the personalities in the organization that affect one's job. When managers use these approaches, the demanding managers above them are more likely to develop a healthy respect for their work and support their advancement in the power structure.

Anticipate the Boss's Needs

The best executive assistants are whizzes at anticipating what their boss wants. This involves observing the behavior patterns of the boss and the people (s)he interacts with daily and then taking actions to meet recurring needs as they arise. One example is preparing a report that the boss hasn't asked for yet. When the boss's mind moves to the need for that report, (s)he can reference it quickly and then turn their attention to the next matter. This type of synchronicity is essential because people with much authority make numerous policy decisions, sometimes in one day. They count on the people under them to provide vital information that strengthens their executive decisions.

Like executive assistants, mid-level managers are essential to the success of high-level leaders because they handle day-to-day supervision of personnel and make decisions that benefit the organization.

For more tips on making the most out of your relationship with your boss, see Managing Upwards: How to Get Along with Laissez Faire Managers and Managing Upwards : How to Work Effectively With the Best-Friend-Boss.

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Managing Upwards How to Work Effectively With the Best-Friend-Boss

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As you advance in your career, there are many opportunities to improve the quality of your workplace relationships. If you work for the same organization for many years, it's likely that you'll become close with one or more co-workers. At some point, one of your closest friends could become the boss. Here, we consider how to manage upwards and work with the best-friend-boss.

Accept That the Relationship Must Change

The biggest thing that you must realize in managing upwards is that you must establish appropriate boundaries, behaviors, and patterns of communication for each relationship. The person who was your best friend for five years is now the boss. Change is in order. Your boss must maintain some degree of separation from you and other team members in order to be objective and to be a good manager. Your best friend can't tell you everything. Sometimes, he won't be available for lunch or happy hour.

Don't Take Things Personally

Sometimes, your best friend must make decisions that affect your job or those of your colleagues. You may not like every decision that she makes, but don't take offense at what she does as the boss. Give your best friend space to make decisions and maintain your relationship outside of work. You still have connections to her family and friends.

Stay Neutral

Resist the urge to ask for the dirt on other people on the work team. This behavior would only undermine your friendship with your boss and potentially damage relationships with other co-workers. Show your professionalism and help your boss to build the team into a stronger unit.

For more tips on making the most out of your relationship with your boss, see Managing Upwards: How to Get Along with Laissez Faire Managers and Managing Upwards: How to Work With Demanding Managers.

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MORE Advanced Networking Tips

Advanced Networking Tips

Networking is an important aspect of an effective job search and career success, but networking doesn’t have to be a business card grab-game with sweaty palms and awkward elevator speeches. If you’re tapping your networks correctly, your next step is to spend time establishing yourself within those networks, and foster deep relationships. Here are four advanced networking tips for the socially-connected.

1. Reach out always (not just when you need something)

Often, people think of networks as groups of professionals willing to recommend you for jobs and help you further your career. This is only partially true, since relationships are far more complicated than merely establishing them as stepping-stones on your career journey.

Keep the people in your networks in mind outside of career advancement. Reach out to them beyond when you need something. Let them know you care about birthdays, anniversaries, their career moves or just to check-in. Some might call it internet stalking when you peruse a contact’s LinkedIn page and then check out their Twitter feed. A good networker would call this an intermediary step to catching up with friends.

2. Be a conversation starter in social situations

Ask other attendees why they chose to come and listen for opportunities to help them achieve their goals. Remember what it was like to be the stranger in the room, and aim to set new-comers at ease with your friendly welcome. Offer to make introductions, give them a tour of the facility or make snack recommendations.

Because a growing number of social interactions happen online, ask poignant questions in industry forums or share a friend’s blog post with an invitation to solicit more conversations around the topic.

3. Be a part of events, not just an attendee

If you are looking to be noticed at an event, consider being a part of it in some way. Whether it's introducing the event coordinators to an outstanding caterer, lending your A/V expertise, or setting up the live hashtag feed, there are sure to be volunteer opportunities tailored to your skill set.

Volunteering is a great way to network with others interested in the same things as you too. There is a reason your fellow volunteers are there. Reach out to them about other types of events they are involved in. Find out what you can offer each other. Mutual benefits are the key to successful networking, after all.

If you feel like you have more expertise to give, offer to be a speaker at their next event.

4. Move online conversations offline and vice versa

How often have you looked up a phenomenal writer, online contributor or industry thought-leader in your network, only to find that they’re local? Why not take the next step and invite them out to lunch? The opposite is also a great way to network. If a fantastic speaker shares their Twitter handle, don’t just follow her, engage online and be a conversation starter.

Understand that everyone is different, so each networking experience will be unique. Let your personal and professional networks reflect you.

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Strategy Failure and Effective Management

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Most managers have a preferred way of overseeing talent under their supervision, whether it is management-by-objectives or process management. Sometimes, it's easy for managers to get too attached to the model that they use, and they forget to examine how employees actually behave each day. It helps managers to understand why goal execution fails sometimes within their team.

Quy Huy, INSEAD Professor of Strategic Management, recently noted in a Forbes article that managers often don't feel comfortable handling emotions within their teams, especially collective emotions. "However, as much as managers may want their intended strategy to succeed, they still find it difficult to accept that the fate of their best-laid plans depends on the emotional allegiance of these groups."

Regardless of the effective management strategies that the organization has adopted, somewhere along the way these strategies have failed to produce the desired results. Strategy execution failure is part of managing personnel. Good managers spend time pinpointing instances of strategy failure. They look at root causes, including employee collective emotions, and take corrective actions.

A major cause of strategy failure is when employees have emotions related to a goal and then choose not to carry it out. These instances call for managerial intervention. If managers aren't addressing employee failures to carry out strategy, they aren't being as faithful to the top leadership as they might be. This is not to say that sometimes managers overlook employee failures because they're happy with those individuals' overall performance.

Get the most from human assets by studying why they fail to implement the firm's executive strategy, no matter how brilliant it may be.

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How to Choose and Prep Your References to Land Your Dream Job

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You've written a great cover letter and resume and nailed an in-person interview. "We'll be contacting your references," your interviewer tells you. Do you feel confident you know what your references will say?

Your job references are just as important as your resume, cover letter and interview. It's important to choose your references well, and prepare them so they can give an honest review of your work – and help you land your next job.

Choose strong references

Ideally, your references are your direct supervisors from your past two or three positions. Potential employers want to talk to people who directly managed you in order to get a sense of your work habits, accomplishments and skills. If you do not want to use your past managers as references, consider coworkers who were senior to you, organizational leaders from volunteer groups and other high-ranking individuals with whom you have worked closely.

Reach out to your references

Don't underestimate the importance of reaching out to your references to prep them before they receive a call from a potential employer. It's a courtesy to give them the head's up that they'll get the call, but it also saves you from unwanted embarrassment. If they are caught off-guard, a manager with whom you have not worked in several years may not readily be able to speak to your work ethic and accomplishments (or, even worse, may not remember who you are off the top of their head…).

Additionally, contacting your references can also give you a read on how well they will represent you. If they don’t sound enthused or maybe they sound slightly confused at the request to BE your reference, you know it’s time to look elsewhere for someone who will speak well of you.

Ask permission

When you reach out to your references, ask (don't tell) them if they would be your reference. Tell them why you are applying for a new job, and highlight some of your recent accomplishments. This makes it easy for them to be prepared and excited when your interviewer calls to ask them their opinion of you.

Asking your references permission can also help avoid uncomfortable situations. If a past manager does not, for whatever reason, want to be your reference, you do not want them giving a negative (or even lukewarm) reference to a potential employer. By asking ahead of time, you give them the opportunity to gracefully bow out, allowing you to find another reference.

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Job Prospects for Back End Java Engineers

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Java has been around for two decades, and it's still one of the most widely used languages for server-side development. The skills of twenty years ago won't help your employment prospects, though; you have to keep up on the latest technologies.

Mandatory skills include Maven and Git. Ant is old tech; complex modern projects requires Maven's dependency management. Git isn't just for open source, but for proprietary projects as well. Some employers do use other tools, but not nearly as many jobs will be open to you if you aren't comfortable with these two.

Understanding NoSQL databases is important. This is more a buzzword than a technology, since it simply means databases that don't use SQL, but you have to know about the landscape. Knowing about the Spring Data project, which includes subprojects for popular NoSQL databases, is a good start.

HTTP/2 is going to replace the less efficient HTTP/1.1, and you'll need to learn a new set of best practices to deliver pages efficiently. Understanding and being able to talk about these differences could help you to land a job. Full HTTP/2 support won't be available until Java 9, but you should be ready for it.

Knowing how to create distributed applications that don't have hard-to-find timing bugs is another vital skill. Developers are furiously debating the best approaches to distributed architecture, and you need to keep up on the current trends. Stay aware of current approaches to scalability, RESTful APIs, and load balancing.

Learn about the new Date and Time API. Everyone knows how clumsy the old Date and Calendar classes are, and when you're tracking events from all over the world, improvements such as the explicit ability to deal with local times can give you cleaner code.

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5 Tips for Negotiating Salaries

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Most people find that negotiating salaries is a daunting task. It can be intimidating and uncomfortable to sit down with the boss and talk money. But inaction will accomplish nothing and you may miss out on an opportunity to increase your income. With a little preparation and a can-do attitude, negotiating your salary doesn't have to be such a scary experience. Here are five tips that can help make the outcome successful.

Research Your Worth

Before salary negotiation, do a career evaluation, to assess your market worth. Your market worth is what you should be making for your skillset, competency level and industry. You can assess your worth by talking with your recruiter or by visiting websites like Salary.com.

Show Proof of Your Performance

Just thinking that you deserve a higher salary isn't enough. Present evidence of your accomplishments to help convince management that you are an employee well-worth retaining. Keep a list of successfully completed projects and positive feedback from customers and co-workers alike. Try to quantify evidence as much as possible since managers take hard numbers more seriously.

Consider Other Perks and Benefits

Don't just limit yourself to a monetary increase. Other types of compensation are just as attractive. Perhaps you would like additional vacation time or a flexible schedule in order to focus on the family more. Or if you have been thinking about going back to school perhaps the company has a tuition reimbursement program that you qualify for. Don't pigeonhole yourself into only considering the dollar signs because you may walk away with nothing.

Keep it Professional

Stay level-headed during the discussion. Don't dominate the conversation and do more listening. Avoid mentioning personal reasons why you need the money. And no matter what the outcome, be sure to thank your boss for her time.

Practice Makes Perfect

Prepare what you will say beforehand. Nerves can certainly affect how you come across, but if you practice ahead of time and role-play possible directions the conversation might take, you will feel more confident. Be sure to rehearse your opening statement out-loud and make sure that it starts the conversation off on the right foot.

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How to Get a Job You’re Not *Quite* Qualified For

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You've found the perfect Job – it fits your salary requirements, puts you on the right career path, seems like an excellent place to work – but then you scroll down and read the qualification requirements only to find out you're not exactly what they're looking for. Job descriptions aren’t typically written with the specific intent of being impossible to fill; it just looks that way. You may not fit the job description to a tee, but if you present yourself the right way, you can snag that job that’s slightly out of reach.

Apply your previous experience to the position.

Your first impression to the company will usually be in the form of a resume and/or cover letter. Use these documents as an opportunity to show how your previous experience relates to the job you're applying for. Show that your work experiences, responsibilities and skills are applicable to their position. If you're writing a cover letter, talk about how your experience will help you succeed in this new position.

Understand the job and its qualifications.

One of the most important parts of an interview is understanding the company you're interviewing for. You don't need to know all of the details, but having an idea of what the company does and how this position contributes to the overall mission will help you ask better questions and show that you have a genuine interest.

Emphasize what you can do for them.

Bring some ideas to the table at the interview stage. Talk about the direction you would take in the position, and emphasize how the skills you already have would benefit the company. This is your chance to show the employers why the position wouldn't be the same without you.

Use positive language.

This is essential when interviewing for a position that you're not sure if you're completely qualified for. Rather than using language like "I don't have experience with..." or "I haven't done this in previous positions," focus on the things you have done. Using negative language during an interview will bring the focus to what you're lacking, which is exactly the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish.

Be inquisitive and ask questions.

As with any interview, you want to know exactly what you would be getting into with a new job. Don't be afraid to ask questions about the position or the company itself. The interview is your chance to learn what you can about your potential new employer, so ask away – but steer clear of questions like "what does this company do?"

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Advanced Networking Tips

advanced networking tips

Networking might seem a little daunting at first, but don't worry. To get started, try out these pointers. Once that has been mastered, we have some advanced networking tips help keep the developed network strong.

Follow-ups

Stay in contact with the people in your network. It doesn't have to be on a weekly or even monthly basis. If it is appropriate, invite network members to company events like holiday parties, company picnics, or corporate dinners. Sending holiday cards is a quick and easy way to let a network member know they are still valued. However, it is vital to know when it is appropriate to do so. Don't send cards for obscure holidays, every holiday or specific religious holidays.

Introductions

If members of your network are invited to company functions, introduce them to people. This can not only help expand your network, but it will also make them feel welcome. Follow proper introduction etiquette and try not to overdo it.

Do More for Others

When working with people in your network, find unique ways to let them feel their time is worthwhile. If you take the time to listen to critiques, take notes and follow through with changes, network members will respect the company represented and possibly recommend services to others. Other things that can make network members feel appreciated would be nominating people in network for newspaper awards, donating to their charities or volunteering. Be involved with the members of the established network.

Pictures

In the post, "Five Networking Tips for 2016," social media was recognized as a great way to create a network. Once that network is created, continue utilizing social media to post pictures about the company and things others in the network have done for the company. If someone sends a holiday card, photograph it and put it up online. This will open the door to connect with other businesses in a different and more personal way.

Networks can change daily, but with these tips it can be for the better.

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