Career Tips by Fisher Investments

Whether you’re interested in an opportunity at Fisher Investments, or simply looking to further develop your current career path, our career tips can help you stand out from your peers.

Picking Your References

By, 09/25/2012

As a recent Wall Street Journal article notes, having the right references could be the key to landing the job you want.

First and foremost, make sure you select people who are familiar with your complete work history. That means they should have a reasonable understanding of your responsibilities, the approximate dates you were in each of your positions, and what you accomplished in those roles. Inconsistencies may create doubt in your potential employer.

Additionally, it’s important to pick individuals who you think will have positive things to say about you. For example, this could include a balanced view of positive feedback and some areas for growth or improvement.

Lastly and most importantly, always ask any reference for permission to use their name before submitting their information to a potential employer. Both your reference and the employer will appreciate the notice.

Mo’ Money, (Potentially) Fewer Problems

By, 09/24/2012

When you start your first job out of college, it may be easy to get lost in the thrill of steady income. (No more instant noodles!) You feel as though you’ve finally entered the adult world. But that also means thinking of and planning for your future—specifically with regard to saving and investing. Savings can help you pay for mortgages, a family, cars and other expenses down the road. Most importantly, your savings can be invaluable when you’re ready for retirement.

Most companies today offer employee retirement plans like 401(k)s to help save for your future. If you’re just starting out in your career, start saving as soon as possible—especially if your employer matches your contributions. If you can, set up automated transfers from every paycheck to your retirement account. The sooner you start saving, the harder your money works for you—the power of compounding interest! No matter how daunting it may seem initially to defer income or open an account, letting your employer help you save for the future is great demonstration of foresight and maturity.

Office Posturing

By, 09/21/2012

When you hear tips on thriving in the workplace, you’ll mostly hear about networking, organization, focusing your attention, and so on. However, an often overlooked (especially by newer employees) driver of workplace prosperity is comfort, but not the comfort you may initially imagine—no pillows or dim lighting here! No, workplace comfort, or ergonomics, addresses your relationship with your work environment and equipment and can dramatically affect your success at work.

Maintaining good posture is a form of ergonomics and can do wonders for your work performance and health. Good posture helps keep you alert by using more muscles than slouching, and promotes less discomfort in the long run. One way to support good posture (or wrists, or legs, or, or, or) is to contact your Human Resources department to see what help they might be able to provide, like back cushions, ergonomic keyboards or foot rests.

Many HR departments are tasked with helping employees (and therefore the employer) thrive, and they understand the importance of keeping employees comfortable and healthy in the office. Remember, your relationship with your employer is a two-way street. The more you thrive as an employee, the more successful the business is overall.

Lasting Impressions: Body Language Mistakes During Interviews

By, 09/17/2012

Although you meet all of the qualifications, give all the right answers and have done your research, a recent Forbes article outlines how poor body language during an interview could put landing that job in jeopardy.

“The negative differentiators, like poor and ineffective body language, help make the decision easy for the hiring manager”.

First impressions start long before the interview, so it never hurts to practice that strong, but not over-confident, handshake. It’s also important to make eye contact and not do things that make you look uninterested, like fidgeting, not smiling or playing with your hair (which can also be distracting for the person you are interviewing).

Non-verbal communication, like gestures and body language, can speak just as loudly, if not louder, than the words you are saying and can help you stand out among other candidates. It’s important to be aware of your body language and gestures prior to stepping into an interview. Preparation builds confidence and can help in stressful situations when it’s easy for emotions to permeate through body language.

Reinventing Innovation

By, 09/14/2012

Innovation’s importance is regularly stressed in career development discussions for many reasons. A recent article in Time highlighted one of them: “Do not punish failures; instead, celebrate the learning that comes from trying.” This lesson applies to almost everything, but unfortunately can be overlooked in work-situations, as many folks avoid innovation for fear of failure. Innovation is often, and incorrectly in my view, solely defined as a new idea that succeeded. But innovation is about finding what works best by trying new things, and that often includes a lot of failure. (Which is a good thing, because people learn from mistakes.)

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. Though bigger forms of innovation are more talked about, it can also be as simple as questioning an outdated system to see how it can be improved. Not only can a smaller modification sometimes be effective, it’s an example of innovative thinking you can practice every day. The more you practice (and even fail), the more you’ll successfully think outside the box, and that’s a skillset invaluable in any career.

Don’t Experience Culture Shock

By, 09/12/2012

Understanding your company’s culture can help your networking, job performance and career development. Defining such an intangible concept can be tricky, but in my experience, stepping back to observe my colleagues’ behavior and asking my co-workers their opinions are two good ways to gain cultural insight.

Usually, co-workers are more than happy to share their perception of company culture, how it came to be and maybe even how to improve it. In my opinion, this openness is evidence of a community-oriented culture. This type of culture can also manifest itself in more fun ways like, for example, Friday morning team breakfasts or a department’s tradition of wearing purple one day a week. Some firms may also demonstrate a community-oriented culture by showing employee appreciation, perhaps by producing regular newsletters featuring innovation attempts, top performers and on-the-job success stories.

No matter the way they practice it (bringing in treats, mentoring someone, etc.) successful employees tend to live and breathe company culture down to the dress code—and are generally happier for it. So next time you’re at work or feeling out a prospective employer, I suggest looking for manifestations of company culture and thinking about how you could contribute to it.

Communication

In any professional environment, clear communication is vital. Effective communication with co-workers, clients or superiors promotes a more productive workplace.

One big key to effective communication is being able to concisely deliver your message. If you’re writing, keeping your message short will help your reader absorb all your main points. The same goes for speaking—if you drone on for minutes on end, chances are whomever you’re talking to will stop listening. Too much information can get lost in translation.

Speed is also key. Speaking too quickly may undermine your message—your listener may miss something important. It’s also counterproductive if you have to repeat yourself. Slow down, if need be, and you’ll lower the chances of missed information or having to deliver your message more than once.

Effective communication doesn’t only involve what you say. It also requires listening to what others are saying and understanding their message so you can respond or act accordingly. Successful collaboration is difficult when those involved aren’t on the same page—the more you can listen and understand others, the greater chance you’ll have of accomplishing your goals.

Managing Stress

By, 09/07/2012

Maintaining a steady work-life balance can be a healthy way to keep your professional life on track. Learning how to successfully reduce stress when you’re on the job can be essential to maintaining that balance. Here are a few things to keep in mind when work may seem a little hectic:

  1. Take a break. Sometimes a quick walk outside and some fresh air are exactly what you need to refresh your brain and return to a productive work day. Even simply looking out the window for a minute to refocus your eyes can pay dividends.
  2. Keep things organized. It’s a lot easier to manage your workload when you’re able to keep track of emails, files and the like. Making a checklist of your tasks each morning—and updating it as you complete items and receive new projects—also helps.
  3. Enjoy your time away from the office. Taking your mind off work when you’re off the clock will recharge your mental batteries; and come Monday morning, you won’t feel like you only just left the office.

Amp Up Downtime

By, 09/05/2012

Having a little downtime in the office here and there isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Downtime can be helpful in clearing your head, refocusing on your work or just organizing your day. But too much of it can lead to a slippery slope of excessive web-browsing or too many personal emails during work hours.

Maybe it’s the workaholic in me, but I find developing side projects for myself a rewarding way to keep busy during slower times. Sure, it’s difficult to wrench away from entertainment news or the latest sports score, but in the end, focusing on a project (even a small item like scheduling) adds myriad benefits that likely outweigh knowing the latest Hollywood gossip.

So, next time you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands, think about some of the benefits of tackling a project instead:

  1. Getting known: If you have the capacity to take on extra responsibility, doing so likely brings you positive attention from your peers and managers.
  2. Networking across the organization: Projects often require help from people with various experiences throughout the organization. A project is an ideal chance to meet them and build rapport.
  3. Explore a new role: Exposure to people in other departments may help give you new career ambitions—whether or not you’re currently interested in moving to a new role.
  4. Enriching your current role: A good place to start when deciding on a project is to look at your job development and where you may have met frustration. Reflecting on past stumbling blocks may lead you to uncover new processes to improve your job.

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