Set Career Goals for a Brighter Future

Create your future by setting career goals

The New Year is a time many people make resolutions and set goals for various parts of their life, but few people set or revisit goals for their career. Rather than having specific and clear goals, many people almost drift though their career – they have an idea that they want to be promoted or attain a higher salary, but they don’t actually have a clear goal of where they want to be in ten years’ time or what is the next step or milestone on getting there.

People who plan their career achieve more and are more successful. They tend to be the people that others are envious of and wonder what they are doing to get promoted faster than their peers. People who plan their career are usually more content, satisfied and fulfilled in their work. People who plan their career are more likely to get where they want to go because they have a ‘career roadmap’.

So, as it is the New Year, now is a good time for you to plan your career, and below describes how you can go about doing it.

The starting point for career planning is a question: Where do you want to be career-wise in seven to ten years’ time?

Seven to ten years is considered long-term in career planning, but it is also useful to consider what job you want to retire from at the end of your career – depending on your age, this may be considerably longer-term than your seven to ten year career goal. However, an ‘end-of-career’ goal can provide overall direction to your career and how you think about it. Your ‘end-of-career’ goal may change over time as you gain experience and/or develop new interests, so it is not completely fixed or ‘set in stone’ – but it is an important beacon providing guidance to your career direction.

To develop your career plan, it is useful to identify both your ‘end-of-career’ goal and your seven to ten year career goal. Indeed, your seven to ten year career goal will be a major milestone on the way to your ‘end-of-career’ goal. Even if you are unsure or unclear about your ‘end-of-career’ goal, you can still develop a valuable and constructive long-term plan by focusing on a seven to ten year period. The process of determining both is the same, just that one is a longer duration than the other and will have more milestones. Here, for simplicity, we will focus on developing a seven to ten year career plan.

Having answered the question of where you want to be in your career in seven to ten years’ time, write that down at the top of a sheet of paper – this is your end point. Also write down at the bottom of the page where you are now – the job you are currently in – this is your starting point. This is the framework for your career ‘roadmap’.

Now you need to consider what milestones are in between your starting and end points. Let’s begin at your end point: What type of job do you need to be in to be considered eligible to get the long-term job that you want? What experience and skills are required for this job? This is the final milestone on the way to your career goal.

And for that job – the final milestone job – what job would you need to be in to be considered eligible to get promoted to this job? This is your second-last milestone. And so on until you are back at your current job and have identified milestones all the way to your end job.

Now you have a career roadmap that has identified your long-term career goal (the end point) and each type of job you need to get along the way as milestones. You can see a clear direction your career needs to take. When job opportunities present themselves, you now have guidance on whether such jobs will help you get where you want to be – are they in keeping with your career roadmap? Will such a job help you get the next job that is a milestone on your career roadmap or the one after that? If so, you should take it – if not, it is a distraction on your way to your end goal.

A following article will show you how to create a career development plan that will identify the skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience necessary to secure the jobs on your career roadmap.

How our values affect our work and choice of career

Values determine our happiness at work

What are ‘values’?

Values are what are important to us in a particular context. In the context of our career or work for example, values are what is important to us about that and may include such things as ‘challenge’, ‘teamwork’, ‘autonomy’, or ‘recognition’. Values are what we want in a particular context.

Money is a value

Money or salary is usually a work value as well, because we all need money to live and pay the bills. For some people, just having enough to live on, look after their dependents (children and/or parents), pay the bills and have a little holiday is sufficient. For others, they want lots and lots of money. The difference between the two is another value which is about what money can do for them – for the person wanting lots of money, money can buy material goods which shows other people how successful they are. The other value here may be a self-esteem related one such as wanting others to look up to them.

Values mean different things to different people

A person who has work values such as ‘autonomy’ and ‘recognition’ will only be happy in work if their boss allows them to ‘get on with it’ – that they are allowed decide how the work is done or the desired outcome reached without being micromanaged by the boss. They also need to be given recognition for the work they do. However, recognition means different things to different people. For some, recognition may have to be in the form of a financial bonus or a pay increment. For others, they may just want the boss to acknowledge that they did a good job or get a ‘thank you’ for doing it. Again, some people want public recognition – i.e. it is also important to them that others know that the boss has recognised their effort – while for others a private word of thanks is sufficient.

Core values transcend contexts

While many of our values are only valid in a particular context such as our work or in our relationships, we also have ‘core values’ which are valid across all or most contexts. Some examples of such core values are honesty, truthfulness, or integrity. These are values that might be important to a person in their work or career, but would be equally important to them in their relationships, or in their buying decisions (where a company would need to have an ethical reputation for them to buy from).

Job satisfaction comes from our values being met

Most of the time we are not aware of our values – they operate in the back of our minds. If a person has work values of ‘teamwork’, ‘collaboration’, ‘challenge’ and ‘autonomy’, they will be happy in work as long as these values are being met. This would require a work environment where people worked together (on projects for example), but where each individual had their own part to play and, once they know what that is, are allowed to decide the best way to achieve their work goal. The work would also need to be challenging in some way – this might be that there is something new to learn or a new kind of problem to be solved. When these values are being met in work, the individual will feel contentment, job satisfaction, fulfilment, and be happy in work.

When our values are violated

But then a new boss takes over the team! This boss is very ‘hands on’ and likes to micromanage his subordinates. He decides the best way the job is to be done and tells people they just need to follow his instructions and do what they are told – no need to work with others. This would also take the challenge out of the job as the boss was deciding how everything is to be done. The person who has work values of ‘teamwork’, ‘collaboration’, ‘challenge’ and ‘autonomy’ will no longer be happy in work – they won’t have job satisfaction or a sense of fulfilment. They will feel that there is something wrong in their life, especially at work, but they probably won’t be able to articulate what or why. It’s simply that their values have been violated. They probably feel a lack of ‘fit’ with their job or the company, and start looking for a new job or even a new career. When our values are violated, we feel disrespected, and know ‘deep down’ that we need to take action.

Using values in career direction finding

When people are looking to find career direction for themselves – whether starting out in their working life or looking to change career – values play an important part. We have already seen the positive and negative impact our values can have in work, so determining whether our values will be met or not in the careers or jobs we are considering, and to what extent, is important if we are to find a career or job we will be happy and content in. Our work values can be our evaluation criteria.

People sometimes take a job that offers them a good salary or makes them look good in some way – it meets these values which can be important to some younger people. Their other values, such as challenge, meaning, or recognition, may not be met in that job, but because their more important value is being met, they work on, sometimes for years. But eventually the allure of the money and ‘looking good’ to others wears off and they feel that they just can’t go on in that type of job – they need ‘something’ more, they just don’t know what it is exactly – they need their values to be met.

Get to know your values for a more fulfilling life

So values are important in all areas of our life, and as this is a career advisory site, we emphasise their importance in work. Get to know your values – have a competent person elicit them for you – and ensure they are being met in your job. If some values are not being met, talk to your boss about it so a way to include them in your work can be found. Doing so has enormous benefits for you, your boss and the company.

A Strengths-Based Approach to Career Direction Finding

Your ‘strengths’ are those skills you are good at and enjoy doing

Finding Career Direction

When trying to determine career direction, it is best to use multiple perspectives including psychometric inventories (such as the Myer Briggs Type Inventory better known as the MBTI, and the Strong Interests Inventory) and a values-based one. Another approach that augments the output of the other perspectives is a strengths-based one. Essentially this is a full identification of your skills – your work skills and other skills developed through your involvement in hobbies, leisure pursuits or sports – and these skills are then categorised.

Skills that you are good at

Everybody has skills, some of which you are good at and others not so good. It makes sense when looking at possible future careers or jobs to focus on those skills you are good at – if your work involves skills you are good at, you are going to do well in that job and progress. However, for those skills that you are good at or strong in, there are always some that you don’t particularly like doing. A job centred on skills that you don’t like doing is one that will eventually cause you stress and unhappiness.

Skills that you enjoy doing

Then there are skills that you are both good at or strong in and enjoy doing – these we call your ‘strengths’. A career or job that utilises your strengths is one that you will do well in because you are working to your strengths – those areas that you are good at. Obviously doing things that you are mostly good at will get you noticed in work, will lead to increased responsibilities, quicker promotion, and continual salary increases. Furthermore, when your work involves doing things that you enjoy doing – whether that is working with people either as colleagues or as customers, uncovering facts and figures through detailed research, using your hands to help make something, etc – your work will bring you contentment, gratification, and joy. Working to your strengths brings fulfilment, job satisfaction and happiness.

Using strengths in career direction finding

There are two ways your strengths can be used in the career direction finding process. Firstly, when you look at your strengths as a group, ask yourself do these suggest a career or job – or what career or job would facilitate you in using most of these strengths? You may have to do some research for this. Talk to family and friends about it. Discuss your strengths with a trusted mentor or teacher. Look at an occupational database such as www.onetonline.org which will allow you search jobs with various keywords. The effort involved is well worth the outcome – finding a career or job that will bring fulfilment and job satisfaction.

The other way you can use your strengths in the career direction finding process is using them as criteria to evaluate whether various jobs will be suitable for you. If you have a shortlist of jobs, ask yourself which of them will facilitate you in using your strengths? And which of them will allow you use your strengths most? If such a job has already being judged suitable to your personality type and core interests, wouldn’t that be your dream job?

Skills Needed for the Future in Singapore

Creativity and people related skills will be in demand in the future

The Changing Economy and its Effect on Jobs

Singapore’s economy and its structure are changing and this is having a major effect on the labour market. Already we see banks and other financial institutions moving jobs to cheaper labour markets such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and China, while other jobs in the financial industry are being replaced by technology. Similar movements are taking place in other historically core industries such as shipping, oil, energy and engineering. So called “traditional” jobs are being lost and mid-career and above PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) are the majority losers – an estimated 60% to 70% of retrenchments are mid-career and above professionals.

Fortunately the government has taken strong measures to protect and support mid-career PMETs, and there are many initiatives in place to facilitate the retraining and upskilling of such workers. But what skills will be in demand in Singapore the future?

A New Industrial Revolution

There is much talk about the world having entered the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – but this is perhaps misnamed as it is a technological revolution rather than an industrial one – and researchers and other analysts are looking at the impact this transformation is having and will continue to have on the world of work.

The changing face of industry in Singapore is seeing advances and expansion in research and development, e-commerce, and other digital businesses. This is evidenced by the number of companies that have their R&D centres here and the growing number of e-marketplaces such as Lazada and Amazon building their regional hubs in Singapore. Another strong focus now is to take advantage of new technologies such as IoT (the Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence), quantum computing, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, and renewable energy.

Examples of these developments that we already see in use are the advances in medicine and medical technologies such as ‘nanocarriers’ of chemotherapy drugs that affect only the targeted cells; absorbable heart stents; ‘nanoagriculture’ increasing the production of crops and livestock; self-driving cars; and the growth of data analytics.

Skills for the Future

So with all these changes in technology and the world of work, what skills are not in danger of being replaced by robots or other technologies? What skills are needed in Singapore for 2020 and beyond?

The skills needed for the future can be categorised as creativity related skills and people related skills.

Creativity related skills include creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity and innovative thinking. Creative problem-solving seeks to look at situations from different perspectives to build a fuller understanding of it before looking for novel solutions. Only humans can create ideas out of nothing – technology cannot. Creativity skills are and will always be needed and in demand. Education systems globally result in people using only logical analysis in the search for solutions to complex problems and most people therefore have underutilised intuitive and creative potential – training can help remedy this.

Technology / robots will increasingly be able to analyse complex data but still only from a logical perspective – there is no indication that technology will replace intuition which is a purely human function. Similarly, technology and robots will increasingly develop even more complex mathematical skills but will not be able to master the human intuitive side of making connections and seeing relationships between seemingly random events, nor will they make insightful interpretations of them.

People related skills include the ability to manage people, empathise with them, lead them, build teams, communicate across teams and the ability to coordinate and collaborate with people. Technology and robots cannot do these. Neither can technology provide a customer service orientation to business. These human, people focused skills will always be in demand.

To safeguard your future in work, make sure that you develop creativity and people related skills.

When you feel you don’t “fit” or something is not quite right about work

A lack of “fit” with your work causes stress and unhappiness

It is not at all uncommon for people to feel that there is something not quite right about their career or their job. Perhaps it is a feeling that their job is not a good ‘fit’ in some way, or that they have no idea where their career is going.

Sometimes this manifests itself in a lack of ‘passion’ for their job – they literally ‘drag their feet’ to work or dread Monday mornings. Nothing about their work excites them. They may feel envious of and amazed at friends who seem to love their job, and who talk quite passionately about it.

For others, their career is a series of mishaps, or it seems to them that they just didn’t have any luck with that job or that boss or that company. They are not promoted after five years or see others who started at the same time as them leap up the promotional ladder. They leave looking for a better job or better company to work for, but that one seems no better either.

They know something isn’t right but can’t really articulate it. Friends or their spouse notice that they are not happy with their work, but they too don’t know why.

These are all symptoms of a lack of ‘fit’ between a person and their career or job. Unfortunately many people in this situation will not think to go and talk with a career coach or career counsellor who can help them see what is happening and why. This lack of ‘fit’ is usually due to one or more of the following causes:

  1. Their career or job simply does not suit their personality. Psychometric inventories or personality assessments such as the MBTI (Myer Briggs Type Indicator) identify careers that people of a particular personality type find satisfaction in – they also identify those jobs that people with their personality type least enjoy. Regrettably many people did not have the benefit of structured career guidance in school or college and ended up in a career that is unsuitable to their personality.
  2. The second cause is similar and indeed associated with the first one, and that is a lack of synchronisation with their core interests – what they do in work does not overlap with the kind of things they are interested in. Again, a psychometric inventory such as the Strong Interests Inventory (SII) can quickly determine this.
  3. Everybody has a set of skills and some of these skills they are pretty good at, and others they really enjoy doing. When people list their skills, only some of those that they are good at will also be those they enjoy doing – these are a person’s strengths. When a person’s job involves using their strengths, they excel at their work and feel happy and content. Unfortunately people are frequently asked to do tasks that they are good at but just don’t enjoy doing. If they have to work at tasks they don’t enjoy too much, this creates stress and dissatisfaction at work.
  4. Values are what are important to people about various aspects of their life. Their work values drive their behaviours and motivate them – they determine what people focus on and spend their time on. Most of the time they are not aware of them, but then something happens and they immediately know that their values have been infringed and their boundaries violated. If people’s values are not being met in work, they feel that something is wrong and this nags at them over time. Sometimes they feel that the job or the work environment has changed, and they become dissatisfied and demotivated. Having a competent person elicit their work values clarifies the situation and provides direction for future action.

Don’t kill your presentation with these mistakes

Don’t kill your presentation with too many slides or too much information on them

Have you ever sat through a presentation and wondered why the presenter didn’t just e-mail their document to everyone instead of almost reading the whole thing out to the group? Or didn’t actually hear what a presenter was saying because you were too busy reading all the words on the slide behind him? All that you, and others, remember of such presentations is what an ordeal it was to have to sit through.

And how often have you been at a meeting, seminar, conference, or anywhere people are presenting, and been pleasantly surprised that they finished early or even on time? Usually the opposite is true – either the presenter runs so much over time that they have to rush through their last number of slides without anyone but themselves understanding what they were about; or, where there are a number of presenters, the last one has their time drastically cut because the previous speakers ran so much over time.

And how often was the presenter in any or all of the above scenarios you?

Two of the greatest presentation killers are trying to present too much information and running over time. Neither adds to a presentation and both actually ruin it. Running over time is both rude and disrespectful to both your audience and fellow speakers. Reading your conference paper or document is no better – it tells your audience that you couldn’t be bothered preparing your talk properly. So don’t do either!

When making a presentation to explain a publication (e.g. at a conference) or a proposal of some kind, your purpose should not be to go over the entirety of your paper – your audience can read it if they choose to. Your purpose is to get them to choose to – to have them wanting to know more!

No matter what the subject matter of your presentation is, aim to have only three or so points. Ask yourself: “If I can only make one point in this presentation, what will that point be?” Prepare that point and have a little story about it – make it real, but make it human. Then ask: “If I can make just one more point, what will that point be?” Again, have a story to explain and elaborate the point – your audience will never tire of listening to stories! Check how much time you have now used out of your allocated time. Remember in your timing you need to introduce your talk (tell them what you are going to tell them), and you need to close or conclude (tell them what you have told them!). If you are still well below your allocated time, you have time for one more point, but make it a story – then leave it at that. Leave it with them wanting more – ‘cos everyone wants another story!

Preparing your presentation should never involve PowerPoint – if it does, your slides are a crutch for you and not to help your audience assimilate your points. Slides with lots of information on them are not for your audience – they are for you! If you have lots of words on a slide, your audience is reading the slide and not listening to you. These are the kind of presentations that your audience wished you had sent them the slides and saved them the bother of having to attend. So prepare your presentation before thinking of how slides could augment it. Actually, a little story can usefully replace a number of boring slides. Instead of words on a slide, could a graphic or photograph make or elaborate on your point better?

Should You Fit In Or Stand Out At The Workplace?

Should you stand out or fit in at work?

The short answer to this question, according to Stanford Professor Amir Goldberg and Berkeley Professor Sameer Srivastava, is that it depends:

  • If you are different culturally, such as wearing clothes that are different from the norm at your workplace, then you should try and fit in structurally (by having a close set of colleagues at work).
  • And if you don’t fit in structurally and are not part of any cliques at the office, but instead have a broad network throughout the firm, then you should aim to fit in culturally.

The modern workplace, especially tech companies, rewards people who stand out from the pack. Creativity, diversity and innovation are valued.

However, at the same time, fitting into the organisation and having a common sense of identity is also important.

This creates conflicting demands on employees.

According to the researchers there are 4 possible approaches to handle this conflict:

  1. Be high on culture fit and low on structure fit.
  2. Be low on culture fit and high on structure fit.
  3. Be high on culture fit and high on structure fit.
  4. Be low on culture fit and low on structure fit.

fit in or stand out at work

Assimilated Brokers are most likely to do well and Disembedded Actors are the most likely to be fired.

Assimilated Brokers are great networkers and are well connected with various people across departments. They are not part of any particular clique and don’t limit themselves to only knowing people in their department well. However, they do blend in culturally.

Disembedded Actors are not part of a dense clique and interact with people outside their department. At the same time, they don’t fit in culturally as well. So while they interact with people in the organisation, they aren’t able to relate well to them and cannot make a connection.

In the end, you need to find the right balance for yourself.

Either maintain your place as part of a tight-knit group but stand out by behaving a little weirdly, or be the smooth networker who knows what’s going on across the organization but also knows how to blend in culturally. You want to distinguish yourself from the pack without making anyone in the pack uncomfortable.” says Goldberg.

An Easy Way To Improve Your Creative Problem Solving Skills

Creative problem solving is an important skill to have.

And there are ways to improve your skills in this area.

Consider this hypothetical scenario. Your boss asks you to find a creative solution to two different problems. You have three ways to go about this:

  1. Switch between the two problems at specified time intervals.
  2. Use part of your time on one problem and then spend the rest of your time on the second problem.
  3. Randomly switch between the two problems whenever you want.

Most commonly, people would opt for the last option because it allows for maximum autonomy and flexibility.

However a study at Columbia Business School (by professors Jackson Lu, Modupe Akinola and Malia Mason) suggests using the first approach and setting specific time intervals when working on problems.

So, why does regularly working on and off a problem work?

That’s because when we do an activity that requires creativity, we often hit a block even if we don’t realize it. We often find ourselves coming up with the same ideas and can’t seem to move on. Switching between tasks can help reboot your thought process and enable going at the task in a new way.

To reach their conclusion the researchers conducted a few experiments

  1. First, while attempting to find the right solution to two problems, participants were assigned to one of the three approaches. Those switching between tasks at specified intervals were much more likely to find a solution to both problems compared to their counterparts who switched at their own discretion.
  2. Another study then measured the creativity of ideas when it comes to solving a problem. Problems that had no right answers were given to participants. Similar to the first experiment, participants who switched back and forth came up with more creative ideas.

Other research also defends that creativity is higher when people take scheduled breaks. Stepping away from your task helps you find a new perspective, instead of circling around the same ideas.

How Essential Is Your Job To Your Firm's Mission?

If you were offered several different jobs, there would be a lot of factors that went into deciding which job to take.

In addition to the usual factors like seniority level, salary and work-life balance, new research by professors at University of Wisconsin and Washington State University, suggests another important factor to take into account.

How indispensable you are to place?

In other words, is the role a ‘lynchpin’ and how essential is the job to the firm’s overall goal?

Examples of lynchpin roles are engineers in a technology company, or a management consultant at a consulting firm.

To gauge the lynchpinness of a job there are four dimensions that come into play:

  1. How vital the work is to the overall purpose of the company.
  2. If someone else can do the work.
  3. How quickly other work activities would stop, if the job was not done.
  4. How many other work activities would stop, if the job was not done.

The study in question found that being an “organizational lynchpin,” as researchers put it, has several advantages.

First, and most obvious, is that of job security. If you are perceived as vital to the life of a company, you really don’t have to worry about being fired or replaced. This is good, but it’s not the only advantage.

Lynchpins also feel a higher sense of job satisfaction because people like to know that they are doing something meaningful and something that others depend on. Being essential also helps to foster a deeper emotional connection to the company. All this leads to more enjoyment at work, and a smaller chance of getting burned out by your job.

So, why is this good to know?

  • As you are considering future career choices, it’s important to think about your role in the company in question. Are you getting a job as just a cog in the machine, or are you signing on to play a significant role?
  • This also has implications for internal transfers within an organization. If you are offered a transfer to a more central position in the company, it is something you want to seriously consider.
  • For supervisors, this research also suggests that efforts to increase employee satisfaction are best targeted to those employees who work in more peripheral areas of the company. That’s because they are the ones who will most likely be unhappier in their jobs due to burnout, a sense of being left out or a feeling of not being important.

Should You Still Dress For The Job You Want?

If you’re serious about landing your dream job, how you dress needs to be important to you.

Your clothing plays a bigger role than simply covering you up; it gives people information about you, whether it’s true or not.

People who dress sloppily can often seem careless or lazy, and people who are too casual aren’t always taken seriously.

However, dressing to impress your higher ups doesn’t always mean wearing an expensive suit. Dressing for the job you want requires you to gauge how your boss or manager is dressing.

If you work at a company where formal clothing is avoided or even rejected and even your managers show up in casual jackets, wearing a business suit might not be such a good idea.

Regardless of the preferred clothing style of your workplace, there are a lot of ways to make sure that you dress well and make a good impression.

If you work at a place where formal attire is the norm, wearing more expensive business clothes will go a long way.

The number one thing to remember when considering how to dress at work is that how you put yourself together directly indicates how you view your work. You want to give the message that you are serious about your work and dedicated and that you can lead a group to success.

Dressing for the job you want isn’t only necessary at your current workplace, but it’s also must for every job interview.

No matter what type of company you’re applying with, always do your best to dress appropriately and dress well when meeting with a potential employer. First impressions are more important than you might think, and showing your character and level of seriousness through your clothing just might get you the job.

Having said all of that, I should also mention that dressing for the job you want is only one small part of landing your dream job.

You need to take it a step further.

Here are a few more tips to help you get to that bigger office, or wherever you want to be:

1. Behave for the job you want.

Dressing for the job you want won’t fool anybody if you don’t play the part.

Show your dedication to your job through things such as getting to work early, always giving 110%, and making sure your team succeeds, not just you.

2. Stay focused

Stay focused on the goals your boss cares about instead of getting caught up in the work place drama.

Be observant of what you and your coworkers need, and be ready to offer solutions.

Show that you can be innovative and flexible.

3. Get Organized

Your work space speaks as much about you as your clothes do. Keep an organized, efficient work area at all times.

Take the extra time to de-clutter paperwork, organize your files, and throw out what you no longer need.

Dressing for the job you want isn’t an option – it’s a necessity. The way you need to dress for that specific job can vary depending on where you want to work, but your clothes must always reflect positive character traits.

4 Excellent New Books For Your Career

To help your career in 2017, here is a selection of new books that provide guidance on topics such as changing careers, finding a good job, professional development, networking and achieving your goals.

“Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One”

Former Google career development manager and current career coach Jenny Blake explains a four-step, incremental method to change your career in “Pivot.” The steps include:

  • Planning your career and goals for the future.
  • Getting a good idea of your strengths.
  • Figuring our how to get from where you are, to where you want to be.

Blake offers dozens of how-to exercises to illustrate how you make small changes in the right direction. She advocates making small changes in succession until you reach an ultimate career goal.

“Reinvention Roadmap”

Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, gives her tips on how to reinvent yourself as you look for new opportunities and new career paths.

Her 20-plus years of experience in HR demonstrate her expertise.

Ryan has more than 1 million followers on LinkedIn, so you should listen heartily to the concepts presented in her book “Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve.”

“Designing Your Life”

“Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life,” by professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans of Stanford University’s design department, explores how interior design principles can be used to improve your life and career.

The authors talk about a five-step, life/career design process. The trick to design the life you want lies in continually testing things in small yet impactful ways until you discover what works best.

For example, the pair say you should explore your next move by conducting interviews with someone who made the same decision in their past that you’re pondering for your future.

In the midst of the interviews, you get a feel for the reality of your possible path and whether it measures up to your expectations, effort and expertise.

“Build Your Dream Network”

We all know that developing meaningful connections, both off and online, is important for our careers.

However, many of us don’t make the time to do so. We also don’t go about it in a well planned and strategic way.

Author J. Kelly Hoey provides great tips, expert interviews and checklists, to help you make the process easier and effective.

Happy reading!

Poor Writing Dilutes Productivity And Leadership

Bad writing is more than just an annoyance.

Sure, a typo or two makes you stumble over words, pause in your reading and then shake your head at such a silly thing. However, bad writing and a lack of clear written communication can have an impact on productivity and leadership potential in the workplace.


Research

A survey by Josh Bernoff (author of Groundswell and Writing Without Bullshit) revealed that 81 percent of business professionals cite bad writing as a time-waster at the office.

During a 40-hour work week, the typical person spends 25.5 hours reading. These could be emails, reports or other material. Over the course of a year, imprecise communication and typos could cost someone several hours of work.

Here’s one scenario. Mike can’t make sense of a four-paragraph email from Jerry who could have said the same thing in two sentences. He tries calling Jerry but can’t reach him. Mike then takes the elevator down two floors to talk to Jerry in person. After a 15-minute discussion, Mike understands what Jerry intended to say.

Mike just wasted more than 15 minutes on something that could have been cleared up if Jerry’s email was succinct in the first place. Magnify this difficulty times the number of employees at a firm, and you can see where this is headed. A lack of productivity costs companies in employee time. Lower productivity, lowers profits.

Fixes

Instead of long introductions in emails, get right to the point.

Write in precise terms, and use short sentences.

Think about the main point of the email before composing it. Edit and revise the email at least twice before clicking Send.

Staff training on how to write effectively can save a lot of employee time later. Provide concrete examples and on-the-job feedback to drive the point home quickly.


Leadership and Writing

According to Josh – “Fuzzy writing allows fuzzy thinking.”

Leaders should use active voice to make their points. Otherwise, people may perceive weakness from the person if he/she cannot write in decisive terms.

Here’s a simple example. Consider the difference between “The project should be completed on time and under budget ” versus “We will finish the project in six months.” The first sentence is relatively vague, whereas the second sentence sets a clear, decisive stance.

Leaders who don’t write in direct, active language show a lack of confidence, clarity and direction. This filters down to employees who lose faith in the leader. An executive’s lack of writing ability can hurt morale, reduce productivity and increase employee turnover.


Promotions

Grammarly conducted research using LinkedIn profiles.

The grammar website found that people with proper grammar and spelling in their profiles, earned higher promotions compared to those who didn’t.

Employees who failed to reach the position of director within the first 10 years of a career had 2.5 times as many typos in their LinkedIn profiles.

Therefore, lack of writing skills can cost you career progress and income over your lifetime. So take some time to read your copy before submitting or sending anything – whether it’s an email, social profile, blog post or report.