Busy All the Time but Not Getting Anything Done? Here’s How to Change That
Something strange seems to be happening to the hours and minutes that make up your day. For some reason, each time you look down at your desk for just a moment, you look up and half the day is gone. Worse, you have very little to show for these lost hours. Despite an entire day of effort and scramble, by the time the sun goes down, your to-do list seems to be longer than ever. What’s going on? And how can you make it stop?
You can’t change the number of hours in the day, but you can change the way you feel when you leave the office and head home for the night. Here’s how.
Stop checking your email.
If you check your email every five minutes, you’ll be aware of each message as it arrives, but you won’t necessarily be able to respond. Meanwhile, when you drop your focus and turn your attention away from your work and toward your inbox, you come back disoriented and it takes some time to recover your stride. Make this sacrifice only when you have enough time to address the content of your messages and respond. Despite what you may think, your senders can wait. In fact, standard business expectations grant the recipient of an email least one full day to respond (and often quite a bit more).
Don’t accept every meeting request.
Even if the request comes directly from your boss or a direct report, think first. Pause for a minute, use your discretion, and position the meeting at an appropriate place on your priorities list. Don’t just reflexively put it at the top. If you aren’t able to make a meeting, explain why and don’t just send a “no” response.
Do one thing well; don’t do five things poorly.
Multitasking can be considered a valuable skill when each of the simultaneous tasks in question can be executed without careful focus. For example, if you’re holding objects in your arms while also opening a door, that’s great multitasking! And if you manage not to drop everything in a giant avalanche, you deserve a reward. But the same praise doesn’t apply if you’re trying to review a contract while submitting an invoice, or trying to encourage an anxious team member while solving a logistical problem. These are tasks that require attention, and if you can’t give them your full attention, leave them alone until you can.
Understand what works well for you and create your own productive system.
Create a productivity system that works for you, based on your personality, your working style, and your experiments with trial and error. Classic systems that work for others may not suit your nature, and that’s okay. Tailor your program to your own needs.
We all Make Mistakes: What’s the Best Way to Recover?
In order to drive our careers (and our lives) forward and get the most out of our time, talents, and skills, we need to let go of the illusion of perfection. As it happens, the sooner young employees learn this important lesson, the faster they reach their professional goals. If you’re terrified of making mistakes, you probably won’t make very many of them. And as a result, you’ll never profit from the experience and your career won’t move very far or very fast. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and if we don’t mess up, we shortchange our own educations.
But fearless risk-taking and mistake-making only represent the first half of the process. In order to get where we’re going, we don’t just need to crash; we also need to recover from the crash and move on. Depending on the nature and scope of the mistake, this can be easier said than done, but here are a few moves that can help.
Nobody makes mistakes on purpose. If that happened, they wouldn’t be called mistakes. If you aimed for a specific result and you fell so short of the mark that you actually caused a new disaster, that’s a mistake. If you not only missed your goal, but you also created a toxic mess in the process, that’s a mistake. If you went right off the rails and into a swamp, that’s not great. But before you start picking up the pieces, accept that this wasn’t what you intended. Admit that things went wrong, and get ready to accept your share of the blame and your responsibilities during the repair process.
Make a plan.
Start by admitting that it’s time for Plan B. Then create a Plan B. How will you apologize and make amends to those you’ve hurt? How will you enlist those who can help you move forward? What exactly is it that needs to be repaired? (Your reputation? Your budget? The trust of another person? An actual object that’s been damaged?) Figure out what needs to be done, and break the process down into actionable steps.
Envision your goals.
What will your situation look like after this problem is behind you and you’re officially back on your feet? For example, if you lost your job, envision yourself established in a new job and back on track. If you lost the trust of a client, envision what will happen when all is forgiven and the relationship is restored. If you blew through your project budget, envision a scaled down, less expensive version of the project’s final outcome.
Push your shattered ego aside and get moving. Find the people who deserve your apology and deliver it. Then start rebuilding. Stay steady. Don’t make the same mistake again, and don’t stop growing. Eventually this incident will lie behind you and you’ll be in a better place than you were when you started. You just have to get there.
Networking Tips: Ask for Stories
When it comes to networking, you’re pretty sure you have the basics down – Be bold. Initiate contact. Follow up. Be friendly. Be respectful. But while you understand that social skills are an essential aspect of network building, you don’t always know how to move from your present state to your intended destination. In other words, there’s a gap between knowing what to do and knowing how to do it. What exactly does it mean to “be friendly and respectful” when you’re about to approach a total stranger (or an industry expert, or a promising job lead) at a social gathering? How do you turn an awkward approach into a conversation that’s meaningful, memorable, and enjoyable for the other person? Here’s one great, and often overlooked, method – ask the person for stories. Keep these considerations in mind.
People enjoy talking about themselves
For most people, there’s no more pleasant music than the sound of their own name. And for most of us, the most enjoyable conversation is one in which we’re talking about ourselves and sharing our thoughts and feelings with an engaged and interested audience. So if you’d like your conversational companion to enjoy an exchange with you, pave the way. Ask polite, meaningful, open-ended questions and really listen to the answers.
A closed question involves a simple yes or no answer, for example: “Did you enjoy your recent trip?” or “Are you interested in skiing?” These are fine questions, but since they can be answered with one word, they don’t tend to generate much conversational momentum. Instead, ask questions that require in-depth responses, “How did you feel about the surprise twist in the movie?” or “What are your thoughts about a recent current event?”
The best open-ended question of all
The best kinds of open-ended questions are those that encourage your companion to tell a story about his or her experiences. We all enjoy talking about ourselves, but for most people, describing an experience seems to be easier than describing abstractions or personal feelings, especially when we’re speaking to someone we don’t know very well. So if you can, use the thread of the conversation to ask your companion for a story, or a narrative retelling of a series of events. For example, “What did you say during that occasion, and what happened next?” or “That experience must have been difficult for you. How did you solve the problem?”
While you’re working on ways to make conversations more pleasant and enjoyable for those around you, expect the same behavior from others, and consider your own answers to these types of questions. For more on how to engage with new people, build relationships and expand your network, reach out to the career management team at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Questions to Ask (and Avoid) During Your Interview
During your job interview, your potential employer will be giving you the third degree in an attempt to evaluate your skills and personality. She’ll be looking you over and investigating your background to make sure you’re the best match for this company, its needs, and its culture. If you really want the job, you’ll be doing your best to measure up.
But DO you really want the job? Now is the perfect time to find out. This is a two-way relationship after all, and you’ll also need to determine if this job and this company are right for you. As you respond to your interviewer’s questions, be sure to ask plenty of your own. And keep in mind that some questions should be put aside for a later stage of the process.
Questions to Ask
Before you step into the interview session, envision your ideal job. What does this position look like on a day-to-day basis? You’ll need to ask a few questions that let your compare your vision to the realities of this job.
Where will this job take your career? Over the long term, will you have opportunities to advance within this company? Can you expect to be promoted within a few months or a few years?
Will this job offer the specific types of training, exposure and experience that will help you get better at what you do?
Will this job entail any daily or regular hassles that don’t mesh well with your personality? For example, you may love travel, you may despise public speaking, you may be disinterested in sales, and you may really enjoy interacting personally with clients and customers. How often will you be doing each of these thing if you take this job?
Questions to Avoid
Many companies hold more than one round of interviews, and the first interview is usually not the place to ask questions about salary. Keep this important detail in mind (after all, you won’t be working for less than your time is worth), but table the question until the final interview, or until you receive formal offer.
Avoid personal questions that have to do with the interview’s family, their life outside of work, or the pictures on their desk.
Avoid questions that your interviewer may perceive as trivial, or that they may not be able to answer right away. For example: “Will the cafeteria serve dairy-free options?”, “Will I have a private parking spot?”, “Will I be able to work from home if the busses aren’t running due to a snow emergency?” For now, these questions can wait.
For more on how to make a professional impression during your interview, contact the job search pros at Accent.
The Secret to a Great Interview: Preparation
What does it take to execute a perfect interview? The answer will depend on your specific goals, but for most hiring managers, the aim of an interview is clear: To find a candidate who can fulfill the requirements of the position while adapting to the company and its culture. A skilled candidate who also represents a cultural mismatch won’t do the trick. Neither will a brilliant candidate who costs too much or may become bored and leave within a year. To find a candidate who fits the bill, plan your interview process ahead of time and follow the guidelines below.
Keep Early Questions Open-Ended
Start your interview by encouraging the candidate to speak in an unscripted way about her past, her personality, her accomplishments, and her goals. In fact, many successful hiring managers simply ask one broad question, like “Tell me something about yourself.” But if you take this approach, don’t just listen passively. Stay tuned in to specific information that can help you identify positive traits and misalignments.
Move to a Higher Level of Focus
Don’t just let the entire meeting slip by as the candidate speaks off the cuff. At a certain point, regain control and shift your questions toward the specific traits and skill sets that will bring success in this role. Ask your candidate about her programming, public speaking, or sales strategies, and take careful notes as she describes her experience in these relevant areas.
Speak as Much as You Listen
An interview is a two-way conversation, and as you provide more information about the company and the job, you’ll make it easier for your candidate to decide if this role is right for her. It’s okay if you find yourself speaking for several minutes at a time. Pay attention to your candidate’s level of interest. Does she understand your message? Is she taking notes?
Skip Meaningless Questions, or Risk Alienating Talented Candidates
Of course you’d like to establish a rapport, but remember that this is a place of business. Don’t try to “test your candidate’s sense of humor” by asking silly questions about what items she might take to a desert island or which kind of animal she would like to be and why. If you’d like to break the ice and keep the conversation relaxed, find another way. For example, ask her about her recent travel experiences or personal passions.
Explain the “Worst” Aspects of the Job
If this job will involve long, unpredictable hours, extensive travel, or some other detail that most candidates find off-putting, explain this up-front and observe how your applicant reacts. If her response is not only accepting, but enthusiastic, this can be a very positive sign.
For more on how to identify and hire talented candidates that can help your company grow, reach out to the staffing team at Accent.
Poor Interview Etiquette
This week, the team at Accent decided to reach out to some of the hiring managers on our professional contacts list in order to ask them a simple question: “What’s the worst behavior you’ve ever seen in an interview setting?” We received responses from managers across a wide range of fields, including healthcare, manufacturing, IT, and hospitality. Here’s what they told us.
“I once had an applicant tell me, point blank, that he didn’t care very much about the job. I think he was trying to generate my interest by showing that he had plenty of other options. I felt like we were on a date and he was playing hard to get.”
“I often have applicants show up ten or fifteen minutes late for the interview…or more. Admittedly, our office is a little out of the way and hard to find, but a few minutes of planning, plus a map or a GPS, can easily prevent this problem. I consider this a problem-solving challenge and I never extend second interviews to late comers.”
“Just last week I had an applicant chew gum throughout our entire conversation. Of course I didn’t call him back.”
“I don’t like when applicants show up for the interview with a coffee cup in hand, put the cup down on my desk, and then leave it there when they get up to go. Whatever you had in your hands when you arrive should be taken with you when you leave.”
“I asked an applicant to describe his greatest weakness and he looked at me with an astonished, offended expression. Like, “Why would I tell you that?” We sat there in silence for about ten full seconds. He didn’t get the job.”
“I don’t understand why some applicants don’t wear appropriate attire to a professional interview. A suit is fine, and so is a pressed shirt and tie or a skirt, blouse, and cardigan combo. But almost every week, I interview at least one candidate who shows up in jeans. Really?”
“Some candidates let their nervous energy get the best of them. When they start losing control of the interview, they panic, then they start to babble, giggle, or space out and lose their train of thought. It’s understandable…but I still can’t hire a candidate who does this.”
For more on the kinds of gestures, attire and comments that can win interviewers over—or turn them off—contact the job search experts at Accent.
Highest Paying Jobs in Arizona
According to data gathered by the Arizona Department of Administration in 2009, some of the highest paying positions in the state are centered in the healthcare industry, including dentistry. In 2014, many of the same positions continue to be the highest paying. Other industries that make the list of the top 30 highest paying Arizona professions fall into legal, IT, and pharmaceutical categories. General management positions come next.
If you’re responsible for staffing, selection, payroll decisions, or HR management in any of these high paying areas, consider the average rates for talented professionals in the state. These rates are listed per hour, excluding insurance and other benefits:
Obstetricians and Gynecologists $100.47
Physicians and Surgeons $89.01
Chief Executives $80.38
Family and General Practitioners $76.44
Engineering Managers $56.80
Computer and Information Systems Managers $51.07
General and Operations Managers $50.23
Computer and Information Scientists, Research $50.03
In general, cost of living in the state of Arizona is rising, but still comparatively low when measured against coastal and Midwestern metro areas. The economic slowdown had a strong negative impact on hiring rates, open positions, and business growth, but job opportunities and the pace of staffing seem to be returning to pre-recession levels.
As this shift takes place, job seekers (especially those at the high end of the demand spectrum) will hold more of the cards in the employer-applicant balance, which means salary offers will need to rise in order to attract the highest level of talent. But so far, this hasn’t created a serious impediment to growth for most employers. At this point, talent is affordable and available to recruiters and managers who know where to look.
The most effective sourcing, staffing, and selection strategies are those that take full advantage of professional networks, industry sponsored events, social media and other online tools and platforms, and outside contracts with industry specific staffing experts. For more information on how to use these tools to your advantage, and to arrange a consultation with a staffing company that has the reach and experience to meet your needs, contact the experts at Accent Hiring Group. If you are looking for employment agencies in Scottsdale AZ, contact our team today.
The Job Market: Top Industries in Arizona
The recent recession is on the way out, a brutal winter is almost behind us, and the rest of 2014 looks bright for both the consumer economy and the job market. Across the country, bitter cold and tight budgets have kept people indoors with a close eye on their spending habits. But now that some of those restrictions are starting to lift, spending is up. Which means businesses are starting to expand, companies are taking more risks, and hiring is on the rise.
In the meantime, industries like manufacturing that have been moving offshore in recent decades are starting a reverse migration. Companies are no longer seeing the cost savings they once gained from overseas labor, so those businesses and distribution centers are moving back to the US.
Overall, here are five of the top Arizona industries for hiring and job growth in the year ahead.
1. Service Providers: Service industries in Arizona employed 2,195,100 people during January of 2013. Private service providers employed 1,782,500 workers during the same period.
2. Trade, Transportation and Utilities: In Arizona, this sector employed 475,200 workers in January of 2013.
3. Government: Government jobs and contract hiring held a strong position in the labor market during 2012 and 2013.
4. Education and Health: Education and health have been strong priorities for Arizona over the past few years, and hiring in this sector has been on the rise.
5. Private Business: Private companies and small businesses have made a comeback following the economic slowdown, especially in retail trade, wholesale trade, construction, manufacturing, and durable goods.
How does your Arizona business or market sector stack up? Have you experienced a rise in hiring demand during the previous year? If your business is like most, the answer is yes, and you’ll need a strong hiring partner to keep up with your company’s growing labor needs.
Start now by mapping out your long term staffing requirements and building a training pipeline that can help you optimize the talents of your current teams. When you’re ready to bring new employees on board, contact Accent Hiring Group and find out how we can help. If you are looking for employment in Scottsdale, contact us today.