Monthly Archives: February 2014

Cultivate an Attitude of Being in Business for Yourself

Truly successful individuals always understand that no matter where the paycheck comes from, they really do work for themselves. Besides the skills, knowledge, and experience they bring to any job, project, or task, it is also the sense of project ownership, sense of project urgency, personal integrity, and helping others succeed that makes them “self-employed.”

Contractors and consultants know what being self-employed is all about but sometimes people in hourly or salaried positions lose sight of the fact that they are in a sense “self-employed” as well. No one keeps anyone on the payroll out of the goodness of their hearts; it is the daily application of both hard and soft skills that keep the paychecks coming on a regular basis.

And what happens if you lose your job even though you have been working diligently to the best of your abilities? You were looking for a job when you found this last one, right? In the high-tech world and other fast-paced environments, job turnover is a common occurrence and folks accept it as a way of life. “Reductions in force” (RIFs, as Human Resources calls them) happen for a variety of reasons, many of which are not tied to the overall economy.

Cultivating an attitude of being in business for yourself provides several advantages. It insulates you against negative self-talk by reinforcing a positive you-are-in-control self-image. Rejection feels less and less about you personally and is really more about external factors, many of which you have no control over. There is more empowerment in the feeling that “I work for ME” that propels you out the door each morning. That empowerment pushes you to become the individual who has the unique expertise that will be recognized by the right people, particularly if you know what challenges they are faced with, and how you can help them meet those issues head on.

Embracing an attitude of being in business for yourself alters how you approach every aspect of your job—from your interactions with others, to how you see the value you provide to the organization. As we’ve all experienced, sooner or later we move on to other departments within a company or to a different company altogether. When you jettison the “job” mentality for the being-in-business-for-yourself attitude, don’t be amazed at the opportunities that will come your way.

It’s one way to make yourself  “fireproof.”

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Don’t Underestimate the “Likeability Factor” of Job Interviews

Likeabillity graphicIn a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, researchers discovered a strong correlation between initial impressions of interviewers and their evaluations of candidate responses to structured interview questions. The initial impressions corresponded with candidate extroversion and verbal skills, with job qualifications being equal.[1] In other words, favorable first impressions created by candidates during the rapport-building stage of job interviews (that is, small talk) influenced interviewers’ subsequent evaluations.

All skills, knowledge, and experience being equal among candidates, most hiring managers will hire the candidate that makes a memorable impression on a professional and personal level. In other words, if you present yourself as a likeable person during the interview, people tend to be more interested in what you have to offer.

However, if you do not connect on a personal level—regardless of your skill set—it will be more difficult to get an offer from a hiring manager. Strong interpersonal skills, excellent verbal communication skills, and a friendly personality help set the stage for your receptivity by the hiring manager. At the same, those who hint at being a high-maintenance employee are often the ones who upset an established, positive working team dynamic. Creating rapport and a positive connection is what opens doors for others to see and hear to what you have to offer. If there is no connection, it is likely your job hunt will continue.


[1] Barrick, et al. (2012) “Candidate characteristics driving initial impressions during rapport building: implications for employment interview validity”. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 82 No. 2 pp. 330-352.

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