Learn How Goal Setting Affects Your Brain

There are dozens of articles on goal setting as a tool for getting ahead in business. Goal setters seem more organized and achieve more in the workplace. Employers look for the goal-setting motivated employee. Goal setters seem to have it together more than the rest of us. But did you know there is scientific research that shows that goal-setting improves higher brain function?

Here’s what the science says about goal setting and your brain.

Setting Goals Rewires Your Brain’s Effectiveness

Goal setting is powerful. It can motivate people to build for the future and accomplish tasks they might not have thought they could. What’s puzzling is why some people seem to drift through live aimlessly and why others set and achieve goals. Top-level achievers in all industries set goals that they often achieve. How are they able to pull it all off?

A study in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews proves what we’ve known all along; people that set goals are generally more together than everyone else. That’s because goal setting rewires our brains to make the component parts work more effectively. The study showed that when you set a goal, multiple parts of the brain are suddenly engaged:

  • The amygdala, which is the brain’s emotional center, evaluates the goal for how important it is to you.
  • The frontal lobe, which is the brain’s logical problem-solving portion, defines the goal and digests it.
  • Both the amygdala and the frontal lobe then work together to push you toward the completion of the goal.

As the brain moves you into situations to help you achieve your goal, the organ changes in structure to help you optimize behaviors and tasks.

Another study, this time with multiple sclerosis patients from the University of Texas, showed that MS symptoms lessened when goals were set and achieved. The symptoms of MS included severe fatigue, speech impairment, loss of muscular coordination, and numbness. These symptoms were lessened when patients set goals.

Inc. reported on another study, this time in the Journal of Applied Psychology that found people who established an ambitious goal usually achieved it. People who created a simpler goal failed to achieve it. The study suggested ambitious goals stimulate the brain more, motivating the person to accomplish the impossible. The study found the higher the goal, the more likely you would achieve it.

The Psychological Bulletin said 90% of the studies showed that more challenging goals led to higher performance. More manageable goals, “do your best” goals, or no goals did not have the same effect on the brain, or the person’s ability to achieve their goals. The article reported, “Goal setting is most likely to improve task performance when the goals are specific and sufficiently challenging.

Ironically, it should be noted that these studies suggested the brain rewiring must occur when the individual sets the goal. The brain doesn’t change when your boss or coworker sets the goal for you. Inc. reports, “All a leader can do is have ambitious, challenging goals for themselves in the hope it will inspire others to do the same.”

If you need assistance with your career goals, contact the staffing professionals at Top Stack today.

5 Ways to Advance Your Career as an Accountant

To advance your career as an accountant, you can become a CPA, find a CPA mentor, keep up with new technological developments, focus on soft skills and more.

Accounting is one of those careers that remain secure even during hard times. As a result, it’s a popular career option that allows you to work in multiple fields or as an entrepreneur if you have the skills to run your own business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says there will be more than 1.5 million accountants by 2026, and the field has good job growth. But what kind of advancement is there for the average accountant? It turns out there are opportunities for you to go after. Here are some of the best ways to keep your career moving forward when you’re an accountant.

Start with the CPA

It’s worth the effort to land your Certified Public Accounting credential. Having a CPA behind your name can open doors, whether you’re working in finance as part of an enterprise organization, if you’re working in public accounting, or even if you start your own firm. Landing your CPA takes dedication; you must study and then pass the challenging CPA exam. Each state has slightly different requirements, and most cost somewhere between $30 to $200 per section, plus $125 to $170 for the ethics exam, and another $50 to $300 for your CPA license fee, so passing the test the first time is important. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) says you will benefit from earning the CPA designation in the following ways:

  • Earn prestige and respect from your peers.
  • Earn the ability to go after higher-level accounting roles.
  • Have more career security.
  • Have more job satisfaction.
  • Earn more money and greater benefits.

Either before or after you’ve earned your credentials, we recommend finding a CPA mentor as your second step up the ladder.

Find a CPA Mentor

A CPA mentor can help you understand the ins and outs of the profession. Look for someone you both trust and respect who can help you navigate the challenges of the profession. They will help you find answers based on their own experience, which will help you avoid mistakes that could threaten your career. You could even have more than one mentor to share information and seek advice when you’re struggling with a seemingly insurmountable problem. Make sure you recognize that the mentor/mentee relationship should be give and take, so take good care of these partnerships; they will pay off in the long run.

Improve Your Networking Efforts

Like any job, who you know is important to your career. All accountants should work hard to develop an extensive network of colleagues to help further their careers. Networking can help find new business if you’re in business for yourself, or it could help you find your next job. Given that 85% of all jobs are filled through networking and making an effort to connect with others is imperative for your accounting career.

Advance your career by networking with Top Stack. We can help you with your next career move. Contact us today.

Not Sure How to Address Your Cover Letter? We Have a Few Tips

Writing a clear and concise cover letter still matters to your job search. But so much of the application process is generic these days that you may not know who you’re sending your cover letter to. Everything is electronic and streamlined; many applications can be sent at a click of a button, which leaves something to be desired if you’re seeking a human connection with the job you’re applying for. How can you even address your cover letter if you have no idea who is on the hiring team? How can you come across as genuine and smart if all you’re left with is the generic “To Whom It May Concern?”

Here are some tips that may help.

A Little Legwork Can Go A Long Way

Sometimes the ad can help you determine how to address the cover letter. For example, it may tell you what position you’ll report to in the company. Many times, you can look at that particular role up on the company website to get the name of the person. Or, LinkedIn is a useful resource for finding someone that works at a specific company. Internet research is your friend in this area.

As you’re looking at the corporate website, try to understand the culture. If it’s very formal, your salutation should be the traditional “Dear Mr./Ms.” You may be able to just use the person’s first name, but be careful if you can’t figure out if the person is male or female. Drop any gender-specifics for names like “Robin,” if you can’t confirm the person is male or female.

But what happens if you can’t figure out the reporting structure? How can you avoid the old school “To Whom It May Concern?” Try these approaches:

  • Can you find the name of the department head under which you’ll work? While this may be a mismatch because you would report to someone below the department head, at least it shows you made an effort.
  • If you can’t find the right name to send your cover letter to, why not address it to the department itself. For example, how about “Dear Sales Department,” or “Dear Production Team.”
  • What if you can’t figure out the department head, or the department you’re reporting to? Do you have a name of a recruiter or hiring manager that’s doing the interview? Bingo! What’s wrong with putting their name on your cover letter? They’ll likely be the first one to review your credentials, anyway.
  • What about “Dear Hiring Team” as a cover letter salutation? Nothing wrong with that, unless the company calls these professionals by a different title, like, “Recruiting Team,” or “Talent Acquisition.” You can make it a little less generic by adding the name of the company. For example, “Dear Oracle Hiring Team” is a little warmer and shows that you’re not just recycling a generic cover letter. You can even add in the title you’re applying for, such as, “Dear Account Manager Search Team,” or “Dear Sales Executive Search Team.”

While these are just some of the ways you can get to the next step in the hiring process, the best thing you can do for your career today is to reach out to Top Stack. Contact us when you’re ready to jump-start your career.

The Best Questions to Ask At the End of the Interview

A few great questions to ask at the end of an interview include “Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform the job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?” “what have past employees done to succeed in this position?” and more.

Interviews are hard. You meet with strangers for an hour and somehow have to thrill them to the point where they offer you a job. If you’re shy or lack self-confidence, it can make the interview process awkward and uncomfortable. Even if you are the most qualified person for the role, the interview could be a slippery slope that you have a hard time with.

One of the most awkward moments of an interview can come at the end. Is there a way to neatly wrap up the discussion in a polite, professional manner that leaves the hiring managers wanting more? This article will give you some great ideas for wrapping up the conversation.

Best Ways to End an Interview

Finding the right questions to ask your interviewer shows that you have done your research and have skin in the game. This includes the end of the interview process, where the hiring team may tell you that they’ll get back to you. Instead of leaving the ball in their court, why not try one of these questions that will show the interviewers you are very interested in the position—and ready to go to work.

When the interviewers ask you, “Do you have any questions for us?” try one of these questions to leave on a positive note.

  1. Who is the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
    This is a good way to determine if your skills are even close to what the hiring team is looking for. If you don’t seem like a match, you’ll know it on the spot, so you can move on with your search instead of waiting for the company to get back to you with a “No.”
  2. What soft skills are you looking for in a successful candidate?
    Soft skills are the ones you need to get along with the team and fit into the company culture.
  3. What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
    If it’s a new role, this question doesn’t fit. But if it isn’t, this is a great question to determine what metrics you’ll be held to and what the company believes is important. It could also lead you to ask what kind of advancement is available to the person in the position.
  4. How has this position evolved?
    Again, this is another question that may not apply. It’s important to know if the person in the role before you was fired or let go. This is an excellent question to get a sense of company stability and how the firm has evolved.
  5. What would a typical day look like in this position?
    Don’t you want to know what the job really entails? This is a good question to understand workflows, who you report to, and the daily grind.

Ending your interview with these intelligent, respectful, but probing questions, is an important way to leave hiring teams with a positive impression. For more tips and tricks, why not send your resume to the team at Top Stack. We have great jobs and information to share. Contact us today.