How to Advance Your Career in 2024

If you’re like most Americans, you made personal or professional New Year’s resolutions. One of them may be to advance your career in 2024. It’s a good goal that can lead to a better title, more responsibilities, and perhaps more money. If you’re seeking to advance your career, we have some tips that might help you reach your goals.

Expanding Your Skills

Advancement usually comes at the price of hard work. If you’re seeking a better job or increased career responsibilities, it makes send to expand your skillset in your chosen or targeted field. There are tons of free and paid online training tools, many of which come with credentials that can add to your resume. Some good ones include:

There are also hundreds of podcasts that will expand your skills, including:

With the Internet at your fingertips, learning is just a click away. Expanding your skills just takes time and effort, but it’s always worth it.

Seek Mentoring

Seeking out a mentor is an important way to move forward in your job in the New Year. Look for a mentor that already has the skills you’re seeking or a job you’d like to work toward. A mentor can give you objective advice on your career and motivate you in new ways. You can look for mentors in your current or a former workplace or seek out a colleague from your social network. Do you have a former college professor that you look up to? Or, does a friend have a connection with a business colleague that could help your career? The key to learning new skills is to make a connection with someone you trust and respect that can give you honest and authentic advice to move your career forward.

Network

Networking is extremely important for advancing your career. In fact, about 70% of new jobs are found through networking. LinkedIn is a good place to start this process; having an updated professional social profile is a crucial first step toward building a network. You can use a tool like LinkedIn to follow companies or professionals that have advanced in their career to where you want to go. It might help you connect with a mentor, as well. You can also attend networking events in your community to reach more people or join a professional organization. There are all kinds of social and professional organizations out there, from Girls Who Code to Toastmasters. There are also dozens of MeetUp groups happening in cities and towns all over the country. Each of these opportunities exposes you to new ways to learn and grow.

One of the best networking partnerships you can form is with a recruiter. Recruiters know people and companies, so taking the time to network with these professionals will help advance your career in new ways.

At Top Stack, we believe in your goal of self-improvement. Contact the recruiters at Top Stack when you’re ready to meet your New Year’s career advancement goals.

 

4 Tips For How to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

In 2020, it’s all about soft skills. Soft skills are the interpersonal traits that help people collaborate and work well with others on tasks and goals. Interpersonal skills are increasingly important in most fields, but particularly in careers where big teams must work together toward a common aim.

Here are four tips on how to improve these important interpersonal skills in 2020.

All About Interpersonal Skills

Some of the best and most in-demand skills for 2020 are interpersonal skills such as:

  • Active listening
  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Conflict management
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Leadership

No matter the job, we can all agree that some of the skills necessary for getting along with others in the workplace. Having these skills can mean the difference between completing a team-driven set of tasks and failing to meet goals. Having or not having interpersonal skills can also strongly affect your career advancement—and new employers are always on the lookout for these traits.

Since these skills are so important, how can you improve them?

Tip 1 – Increase Your Confidence

Having a balance between humility and confidence will help you quietly command a team. Shyness has no place in collaborative environments, so building your confidence will allow you to advance your career. In a job, having confidence can come with experience but also subject matter expertise. But if you feel like you lack the self-confidence needed, sit down and write up your strengths. This is especially helpful if you’re going into a big meeting and feel nervous. Take that list into the meeting and glance at it to shore up your confidence.

Tip 2 – Ask for Feedback

If you want to have confidence in your skills, ask the people around you for feedback. Tell them you’re trying to improve your interpersonal skills and ask if they’d share how you come across in meetings. Are you a good listener? Does the person feel like you’re working well as part of the team? How can you improve? The positive feedback will give you a confidence boost. Anything negative will be like a roadmap for your self-improvement.

Tip 3 – Listen and Ask

Listening is just as important as talking. Everyone knows this, but far too many people forget to hone their listening skills. Asking questions and listening to the answers is an important way to hone your interpersonal skills. It’s a selfless way to engage with others. Practicing these skills is important when working in a team environment.

Tip 4 – Gain Perspective

Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Gaining the perspective of another person’s approach to problem solving or communication will help you gain patience. Before responding to a team member, try imagining their perspective on things. Then try to adapt your response to their unique situation and perspective.

Employers increasingly seek out workers with solid interpersonal skills. In today’s increasingly collaborative environments, it is these skills that help organizations come together as teams to get the job done.

Top Stack offers the kinds of opportunities where collaboration and communication are just as important as hard job skills. Make the connection. Contact our team about your options today.

4 Great Ways to Stay Motivated at Work

Most Americans are disengaged at work. It’s a sad state of affairs that many people in every field lack the motivation to do more than the bare minimum at work. While this may not always be the case, sometimes work can get boring and monotonous, and people can struggle to stay motivated. This is true in every job and every field. Some days there are exciting projects to work on and other days—not so much.

This article will give you four ways to stay motivated even when you’re feeling “blah” on the job. You’ll be surprised by how a few changes to your attitude will improve the motivation of everyone around you.

  1. Put Your Work in Context

Not every task can be glamorous. This is especially true on particularly complicated projects like building a software product. But everyone on the team plays a crucial role in the build, so recognizing the bigger context of your work is important for staying motivated. Say you’re a finance manager trying to balance the books in a non-profit organization. The task of cleaning up a ledger may feel like watching paint dry, but how are you helping the mission of the non-profit organization by completing these tasks? No matter how mundane or small the task, everyone has a role to play toward achieving the organizational mission.

  1. Avoid Procrastination by Breaking Down

By “breaking down,” we don’t mean having a tantrum or weeping uncontrollably. Sometimes you lose motivation and overwhelmed by how large the job is. All books start one page at a time. All presentations start with an outline. All projects start with a task list. Every closed deal starts with that first phone call.

Try replacing the huge project jamming up your motivational gears with a series of smaller tasks. As each task is accomplished, celebrate the small win to keep motivating yourself. You can try this approach with a team or across a department to keep everyone moving forward. Something is satisfying about crossing a task off a list as you move toward a goal.

  1. Step Outside the Box

Is your lack of motivation stemming from being underutilized? Are you simply bored? Breaking out of your funk means breaking away from your comfort zone. Are there skills you want to apply somewhere else but don’t feel you have the chance? Are you just not feeling challenged? Why don’t you speak with your supervisor about taking on a new project outside the box you’ve found yourself in? Breaking up your routine could require additional training or helping with a new project. It could even be a physical rut; are you sitting at your desk all day? Should you get up at lunch and take a brisk walk to improve your mood? The point is that you need to shake yourself out of the rut you’re in by doing something different to remotivate and inspire yourself.

  1. Push Yourself By Setting More Deadlines, Not Less

Snap yourself out of routine by setting daily goals and deadlines for yourself. This works well if you have a big project that you’ve broken into increments. Every day try writing down your tasks and set one big goal to go after. It’s okay to share what you’re doing with others on the team. Make it a contest to see who can hit their goals fastest. The power of the team will create some competitiveness, which could push all of you to hit deadlines and reengage in the tasks you’re doing.

If you’re still not motivated in 2020, maybe it’s time for a change of venue. Top Stack has a variety of roles. Contact us about jump-starting your career.

How to Set Personal Development Goals

To set personal development goals, it’s important to build emotional intelligence, feel confident in your talents, grow your motivation, and become more mindful.

If you stop growing in your life or career, it’s a detriment to you and the options you have down the road. Personal growth is a worthy goal, and it can lead to big career advancements, more salary, and generally more opportunities. The personal goals we set can sometimes be different from professional goals. However, there is so much overlap between the soft skills you use at work and your personality, that it’s safe to assume your personal development goals should influence your career.

Here’s how to set personal development goals and then leverage them to improve your professional career.

Understanding Personal Growth

Personal development is the growth of you as a person. Improving yourself, your skills, and your life are all personal development. Growth in this area means that you become stronger, more confident, and more effective as a person. Personal development improves how you interact with other people and see yourself and your future. Personal growth and development could affect your emotional intelligence, communication skills, decision-making, or even the positivity you bring to your life and your work.

All of these skills have an impact at work, affecting everything from how you handle stress to how you work on teams. As you improve yourself, you will naturally begin to affect others around you in new and more positive ways. Here are a few personal goals that will have a big impact at work and possibly improve your career:

  • Living in the moment or mindfulness is a practice that could calmly center your emotions and help improve your work/life balance. Practicing the art of mindfulness allows you to compartmentalize stresses and focus more intently on what’s happening in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future.
  • This practice can also help you with situational awareness of yourself and those around you. Understanding how your actions affect others is an important way to navigate tricky political waters at work. It can help you manage a fractious team or a difficult boss. It’s also crucial to the possibility of promotion or career advancement.
  • Learning better organizational skills is a crucial work best practice, so the overlap for this personal goal is clear. If you struggle each day to accomplish tasks, teaching yourself how to set goals and then complete them will increase your productivity at work. This is extremely important if you’re hoping for a promotion at some point.
  • Build your emotional intelligence and see how much better your working relationship is with your peers and managers at work. It can also improve your interactions with customers, which will strengthen your reputation at work. Learning how to deal with crucial conversations, stress, or other conflicts at the office is a vital management skill. If you can achieve this as a personal goal, the work-related reward will be high.

Many of these personal development goals can be achieved and benefit your work. As you start to achieve these personal goals, you will naturally become more self-confident in your abilities. You will carry this confidence forward into the work world, whether it was an intended side effect of the personal goal or not. Top employers look for all of these personal skills and hire and promote leaders that have taken the time to develop themselves as people, as managers, and as employees.

Contact Top Stack about how you can apply your personal and professional skills this year. We can help you grow.

Tips For Answering the Interview Question “What Are You Passionate About?”

If you’ve been in the job market for a long time, you’ve probably been asked, “What are you passionate about?” more than once. It’s one of these standard questions similar to, “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?” that is almost inevitable in any interview process.

However, the question could be awkward; who wants to share what they’re truly passionate about (“My spouse.”) (“My paycheck.”) with a total stranger? Too, if you’re working to live and not living to work, it may feel like the words “passion” and “job” don’t fit together. While you probably don’t want to lie and run the risk of the recruiter sensing it, you should give a professional answer. But what should it be? How should you answer the question, “What are you passionate about?”

First, Understand Why They’re Probably Asking

Remember that interviewers do want to get to know you both personally and professionally. Chances are, you’re going to spend a lot of time at their office, so the hiring manager just wants to get a sense of who you are and if you’ll fit the culture of the organization. When you think of it this way, the question doesn’t seem intrusive, but a fair way to assess what interests you.

Next, Consider How To Answer Professionally

The answer should reflect well on your professionalism, energy, and general strengths as a candidate for the job. Think about the job itself and the tasks you’ll likely do every day. Is there one that you’d particularly enjoy? Does the job do something to help the social good in some way? Maybe it would allow you to learn a new skill.

In these cases, you could tailor the answer to make your skills stand out as a good fit for the job. Above all, be real with your response while still being professional. Here are some good examples of how you can respond to, “What are you passionate about?”

  • Do you have a side project that relates to your profession? Say you’re a software engineer interested in innovation and start-up businesses. Do you volunteer for hack-a-thons or go to meetups? Maybe you’re a gamer and like to play with friends from all over the work on the weekends.
  • Maybe you’re a project manager that has a great love for organizing. Do you volunteer to organize events for your church on the side? Or maybe you help out at a non-profit by organizing their books?
  • Or, perhaps you’re a content writer that just started a blog. That’s certainly an appropriate passion to share if you’re going after a marketing or content writing job.

But What if Your Passion Isn’t Work-Related?

Truly this is okay. In figuring out how to answer this question, you may realize there are crossover skills from work that you use in your off-the-job passion project. Or, maybe that passion taught you skills that you apply on the job. Or, perhaps that passion is simply a way to decompress after a hard day’s work. There’s nothing wrong with that.

At Top Stack, our passion happens to be matching candidates to their perfect job. We can help you meld your work and personal passions in a new career in 2010. Contact us today.