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Ten Tips on being a Successful Employee

Take Two. Take two employees who work at the same company – one of them thrives while the other just survives. How can two employees be in the same organization and experience work so differently?

The answer may lie in the employees’ locus of control. Do they think that they have some control over what is happening or is someone else pulling all the strings?

I have found that employees who understand and manage themselves fare better than those who rely solely on external factors for their progress and success. Based on my experience and observations, I offer the following ten tips on being a successful employee:

1. Define what Success means to You.
Professionally speaking, choose a vocation that you like and that is suited to you. Work is a significant part of life and is more satisfying when you spend that time on something that is meaningful to you.

2. Act on Fact.
Get the facts before you take action at work. Be aware that assumptions may lead you down the wrong path. Stay clear of rumors. Ask questions and separate fact from fiction.

3. Accept Change.
Learn to anticipate it and look forward to it. Stay up-to-date with what is happening in your field, organization, and industry. Look at the trends to see how they may affect your work in the future. Being prepared reduces the element of surprise.

4. Get Involved.
Pick up on opportunities to make improvements in the organization. Don’t be discouraged by problems. Instead, ask yourself: “What can I do to resolve this situation?”. If everyone thinks that it is someone else’s responsibility, where will we end up? Never underestimate the power of one person.

5. Bring up Issues in a Constructive Way.
Express concerns in a way that enables solutions. Complaining, pointing fingers, and being sarcastic can put others on the defensive. Invite people who can help to listen to you, openly – state the case, include facts, and make suggestions. Understand the system before trying to change it. Think it through before you take it further.

6. Build Effective Working Relationships.
Respect your co-workers and be known for working well with a diverse group of people at multiple levels of the organization. You may not like all of your co-workers but you do have to collaborate with them to get the job done. Bullying tactics are counterproductive; you can accomplish much more through effective relationships with those you work.

7. Take Responsibility for your Learning.
Who better to chart your learning path than….YOU! Navigate your course. Determine what you need to learn, find options, and recommend them to your employer. If the organization is not able to provide support for it, invest in yourself. It’s worth it.

8. Manage your Reputation.
When others think of you, what do they think of? People do business with people they trust. Be credible and remain true to your word.

9. Take Care of your Personal Relationships.
Maintain fulfilling personal relationships outside of work. Having a supportive network of family and friends can make you more resilient and able to withstand the pressures at work.

10. Take Care of Your Self.
Eat well, exercise, get sufficient rest, and keep an optimistic outlook. Manage your stress levels. Develop peace of mind and make time for things that you love now (don’t wait until retirement). Reflect on your life regularly and ensure that you are following your path. Employees who replenish themselves have more to contribute without the risk of burnout.

By consciously choosing their thinking and behaviour, employees can move towards a more successful and enriching experience at work, the benefits of which can also spill over into other areas of life.

Bathyah Charikar is the Human Resources Manager at Thixotech Inc., a leader in the Thixomolding® industry.

The Seven Secrets to a Successful Search
Making a Successful Career Transition

Rob Notman
Here are some of the tips that individuals undergoing a career transition have shared with our organization about what worked for them in a successful job search:

  • Do a comprehensive, honest, self-assessment of your strengths, weaknesses and transferable skills. You have to know what you are selling before you start to sell it.

  • Decide what new career best suits your interests, skills and abilities – be specific. This will determine where you look. It will define your market. It is important to be job specific when you are talking with prospective employers. “I’ll do anything” or “I’d just like a job” does not inspire confidence in people.

  • Decide what skills, if any, need to be updated and make a plan to do so. If you decide to upgrade your skills, be prepared to do it on your own time and your own dollar. Few employers can afford to pay for new employee training and skills development.

  • Remember that finding a job is an exercise in sales. Approach it as such. You are the product and at the same time the sales representative.

  • Appreciate the importance of networking when looking for a job. Remember that many vacant positions in the private sector are never advertised. These positions are often filled by people who initially found out about a job vacancy through their network of contact, applied and got the job before it went public.

  • Be prepared to demonstrate that you are a team player and that you are flexible. Companies want individuals who can operate in a consultative, information sharing environment with other employees. The day of the specific, well-defined job description is gone. Employers want people who are flexible and able to demonstrate that they are enthusiastic about making a contribution in a number of different ways at different times.

  • Know how you can make a contribution to someone’s bottom-line. Companies are focused on their bottom-line and making a profit. Profit means survival. Survival means jobs. Prospective employers want to know how you can make, or save, money for them.

    Whether you are currently unemployed or are in serious need of a career change, then the preceding pointers should help increase your chance of success.

    Rob Notman is President of KWA Partners in Ottawa.

    The Recruiting Factory
    Adjust the Settings and Turn it on for Predictable Results

    Of all the HR functions, recruiting is often considered the most straightforward. However, recruiting for “high-impact” positions possesses many challenges, and needs a great deal of time, expertise and attention.

    As professionals in this field, we see recruiting as nothing more than a defined business process, similar in many respects to a manufacturing process i.e. for a given set of inputs, the appropriate process will produce the required result.

    One of the inputs to the recruiting process that is often under emphasized is information about where the best candidates are presently working. Consider the following immutable facts about the candidate pool:
  • There exists a finite number of candidates for any position
  • The recruiter has no control over the size, location, and competencies contained in the candidate pool.
  • Talented candidates are in demand by you, and normally by your competitors at the same time.
  • For many types of positions, the supply of talented candidates is dwindling.

    An in-depth analysis of where the ideal candidates are presently working is required in order to develop the most appropriate recruiting strategy.

    Alan Davis
    The most obvious source of candidates is your direct competitors, which is considered to be the primary source population. However, a thorough analysis of the skills required in the position often produces secondary sources of candidates either with similar skill sets or working in industries that face similar challenges. This leads the recruiter to ask such trade-off questions as “What is more important, generic skills or direct industry/sector knowledge?”

    A search that we recently conducted in the aerospace industry for Quality Managers demonstrates this type of trade-off. An in-depth analysis of the challenge led us to conclude that the quality philosophy required by our client did not even exist in the aerospace industry. This resulted in our recruiting more suitable candidates from the automotive industry who already possess a higher level of quality thinking.
    In some other circumstances, we have delved into tertiary talent pools for generic skill sets. When recruiting candidates from related industries, the relatively small amount of industry-specific training required to bring them up to speed has proven to pay handsomely when they bring a fresh perspective to their new employer.


    Another factor that can easily be overlooked is an analysis of how available the candidates are for any specific position versus what’s needed to attract them. Candidates who are ready to make a move and are actively looking for a new job require very little effort from the recruiter. A simple posting or advertisement should be enough to attract them. In other words, a passive recruiting method is all that is required where the onus is on the appropriate candidate to seek out the opportunity and submit an application.

    On the other end of the scale, in situations where there is a small candidate pool in industries with high employment rates, and specific companies with first class retention policies in place, the candidates need to be pursued much more proactively. In situations such as these, the onus is on the recruiter to identify the appropriate targets and to present them with a very high-value opportunity in order to generate their candidacy.


    Starting with the most passive recruiting methods, some of the recruiting options available to the recruiter are as follows (the further you work down the list, the more aggressive the recruiting method becomes):

    Government Employment Centres
    These candidates are not currently employed, and should be readily available. However, the hard-to-find candidates are often not available or on the market for very long.


    a) Newspapers

    A newspaper advertisement could bring in a lot of resumes, but often you receive more non-relevant resumes than those that are suitable. The screening process can be quite tedious, but you will receive resumes you may be able to use for other positions.

    Companies are working hard at more creative methods of advertising, such as radio, posting signs on public transport vehicles or on large banners outside their buildings. All of these advertising methods remain passive as you are hoping that the right candidates see or hear them in order to respond.

    b) Trade or Professional Journal

    From an advertisement in a Trade or Professional Journal, you will receive resumes from interested candidates who are in that trade or profession. Although you will probably receive fewer resumes than a newspaper ad, these resumes are more likely to meet the job requirements than those received from other advertising sources. Again, this is a passive form of recruiting.

    c) Posting on the Internet

    An ever-increasing number of companies are now posting jobs on their web sites. It is a relatively inexpensive method of advertising and has a much larger potential audience than local advertising, as people have access to their site from anywhere in the world. There are also several Job Posting web sites, which charge companies for each posting, or on a contract basis for a certain period of time. The major drawback to internet posting is that it is also a passive method of attracting the right skills; you only catch their attention if they’re looking.

    Industry or Professional Associations
    Associations that are specific to certain sectors, (such as Provincial Orders of Engineers or local Chapters of Provincial HR Professionals Associations) offer job referral services or postings to their membership. Some of these organizations also publish periodic newsletters.

    Career or Transition Firms
    These are no longer strictly for executives. Most organizations are forced to take downsizing measures at some point. Many of these companies use a career transition firm whose consultants could refer the right candidate.

    Search Engines
    Internet research and data base directories can be very productive sources of qualified CVs. However, like any other internet research, you can easily waste a great deal of time barking up the wrong tree. This type of research requires a high level of individual expertise in order for it to be an efficient recruiting method.

    This method can be effective with your peers and other contacts who may be able to delve into their ‘past lives’ to suggest suitable candidates. Similarly, do not overlook conferences as a likely source for networking candidates.

    Single Employer Career Fairs
    A well promoted and well-timed Single Employer Career Fair is a good opportunity to let potential candidates see your company’s culture, work environment, products and people first hand in a non-threatening setting. Among them may be some curious to see whether the environment lives up to its reputation. Many of your guests may not even be ready to make a move, but if they go away with a positive impression, chances are higher that they will think of your company when they are ready.

    This is a rather expensive method of attracting candidates; there’s always the risk that those who attend are more curious than interested potential candidates.

    Career Fairs
    This method has become very popular among companies with a need to hire significant numbers. Although the turnout is significantly higher than a Single Employer Career Fair, you are often vying for the same candidates against several other companies. The great majority of potential candidates who attend Career Fairs have less than three years experience. This method of recruiting is not likely to attract many senior-level or experienced candidates.

    Trade Shows
    Recruiting is not the primary purpose of a Trade show, but a lot of “informal” recruiting and networking goes on at them. Most companies put their best sales people and technical support staff in the booth and, frequently, a company recruiter can be seen handing out business cards. However, some discretion at such events is advisable.

    Recruiting Via Email
    Short of picking up the phone and soliciting the interest of an individual whose current title matches the job you want to fill, recruiting via email is one of the most aggressive forms of recruiting. Almost everyone displays their email address on their business card. If your company is prepared to cross the line into this method of active recruiting, you could solicit the
    aid of those employees who attend related conferences and trade shows. Remind them to exchange cards with people whose skills are in regular demand. Be prepared though, to deal with the reaction of some who view this practice as being highly inappropriate.

    Employment Agencies
    For certain positions, the right agency, one that screens to your specification, can save you a lot of time and trouble. However, are you confident that you are really interviewing the best available candidates?

    Retained Search Firms
    To find that key elusive individual for your organization, this is sometimes the best route to follow. You are assured of hiring the best person available with the right culture fit. However, you must evaluate whether the results for this service warrant the cost.
    In the past, Search Firms only operated in the higher echelons of Management. However, due to the scarcity of some management, professional, scientific and/or technical talent, it is now quite common for search firms to be retained to fill key positions at almost any level in the organization.

    The best strategy in determining which recruiting method to use should be based on the premise that the best prophet of the future is the past. Recruiting methods that have worked in previous recruiting campaigns have a better chance of being successful again. If they do not prove to be successful, your only option is to crank up the level of aggression of the recruiting method.

    Unfortunately the recruiter is often faced with time pressures from the hiring managers, and consequently, in many cases, do not have the luxury of trying each recruiting method in series. Often a multi-faceted approach is needed to attract the best candidates within a reasonable time frame even though this may incur additional costs.
    One thing is for sure… recruiting is difficult and is not getting any easier for many reasons, not the least of which are workforce demographics. Consequently, recruiters need as many innovative and effective tools as possible in order to get the job done.

    Alan Davis is founder and President of Alan Davis & Associates Inc. (Picking Winners Search), a specialized recruiting practice with offices in Quebec. His company provides specialized services in strategic recruitment & selection, succession management, and interview training. www.alandavis.com

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