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.

In the Meeting House

By, 10/31/2012

Meetings are a staple in the professional world—so, meeting etiquette is an incredibly important component to a successful career. Behaving well and actively participating in meetings leaves a good impression on your colleagues and superiors, who may remember your professionalism down the road. But while good meeting etiquette seems like common sense, folk easily forget some of the rules.

First and foremost, showing up on time is an excellent way to show your enthusiasm. Arriving early can also ensure you’re available at the meeting’s start, but if a late arrival is unavoidable, enter quietly and sit in the closest available seat to avoid distracting the presenter or other attendees.

During the meeting, stay focused on the topic at hand. Practice active listening—taking notes and asking questions or responding to the speaker when appropriate. 

Lastly, follow the golden rule. Think about how you’d like your audience to respond to a presentation you’d just given, and try to exemplify that behavior.

Behaving with professional respect will help you stand out as a leader among your colleagues and they’ll probably also appreciate and remember your good example.

Presenting to an Audience

In the corporate environment, and especially at bigger firms, it can be hard to distinguish yourself from others. In a world that’s increasingly driven by performance metrics and statistics, you may wonder what you can do to stand out in the crowd.

In my view, it’s simple—start by speaking up. Companies are looking for people with new ideas and ways to conduct business more efficiently. If you have an idea, speak to your manager or elevate it to the appropriate person. If new projects come up, offer to take the lead (this is also a great opportunity to hone your leadership skills).

Even if your ideas don’t come to fruition, you’re still accomplishing your original goal—standing out! Additionally, don’t let the fact that previous ideas have been shot down stand in your way of submitting new ideas—every big innovation had to start with a small idea.

Standing Out in the Crowd

By, 10/29/2012

In the corporate environment, and especially at bigger firms, it can be hard to distinguish yourself from others. In a world that’s increasingly driven by performance metrics and statistics, you may wonder what you can do to stand out in the crowd.

In my view, it’s simple—start by speaking up. Companies are looking for people with new ideas and ways to conduct business more efficiently. If you have an idea, speak to your manager or elevate it to the appropriate person. If new projects come up, offer to take the lead (this is also a great opportunity to hone your leadership skills).

Even if your ideas don’t come to fruition, you’re still accomplishing your original goal—standing out! Additionally, don’t let the fact that previous ideas have been shot down stand in your way of submitting new ideas—every big innovation had to start with a small idea.

Developing Leadership Skills

By, 10/26/2012

Developing leadership qualities is essential to career advancement. Managers often promote people they think can motivate others. There are many traits that contribute to being a great leader and model for those around you. Here are some concepts that might help you develop your leadership skills.

Optimism and encouragement are key to motivating others and creating a positive environment. People gravitate to those who make them feel good about the work they do.  Good leaders also hold themselves to the same standard as everyone else—showing accountability and ownership for their work.

Finally, help your team establish confidence in your ability to lead by being consistent. People will feel comfortable relying on you when you have a record of following through on your commitments.

 

An Inquiring Interview

By, 10/24/2012

If you’re looking for a job, you probably hear about the importance of interviews often—how to dress, when to arrive, etc.—but there’s not much unique advice out there about how to stand out from a crowd of equally accomplished candidates.

One way to differentiate yourself: Ask questions during your interview. Think of things the company does or job responsibilities you might be curious about. Asking questions also gives you an opportunity to feel out the company and employee satisfaction. Ask about your interviewer’s time at the company, if many employees have a similar background or about turnover rate in a specific role (which isn’t always a bad thing as this can include things like internal movement). Clues about company life can also help you figure out if you want to work there.

Of course, asking questions during an interview also shows your interest in the company and a possible career. So don’t be shy. An interview helps a company decide your eligibility, but it’s also about what you get out of it.

The Power of Positive Thinking

By, 10/24/2012

At times in your career, it can be easy to get down on yourself, think negatively or get stuck in a rut. Perhaps work isn’t going the way you want it to or you aren’t where you thought you would be by now. No matter the circumstances, a lot can be said for how you handle a situation and how you work to change it.

The power of positive thinking can be more significant than many folks think. If you believe in yourself, know that you are valuable and trust that good things will happen, chances are much more likely that will be the case.

So what can you do to gain or maintain a positive attitude when times are tough? Remind yourself of all of the positive things already happening. Make a list of the qualities you possess and that make you an asset to your employer. Instead of looking at weaknesses in a negative context, look at them as things to improve upon. A key quality to a successful career can be developing the ability to adapt and grow. Being able to identify areas of improvement and develop them into strengths is an important human capital asset.

Working as a Team Player

By, 10/23/2012

Team projects are becoming more relevant in the workplace today. And to be successful, it’s important to not only show your skills as a leader—working with others or delegating duties—but also your ability to follow direction or complete projects that are delegated to you. Just as you rely on others to carry their responsibilities to the team, they are relying on you to do the same.

Here are a few ways you can be a successful team player:

  • Don’t micromanage. Trust others to get their own work done.
  • Check in with your teammates. Get together from time to time to make sure everyone understands priorities and responsibilities.
  • Meet your deadlines. When individual deadlines are met, it’s easier for the group to meet collective ones.
  • Focus. Don’t let outside issues get in the way of the task at hand.

More On Time Management

By, 10/22/2012

Good time management can be vital in the workplace. It can determine the pace (and stress-level) of your day and help you stand out as an employee. Starting a new job can disrupt your old time management system—different roles, responsibilities or companies might prioritize different things. If it’s your first job out of college, too, that may pose a unique challenge as you develop your time management skills. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

  1. Make a schedule to visualize daily responsibilities and deadlines.
  2. Prioritize tasks according to importance, deadline and the time required to complete.
  3. Develop a reminder system, so you don’t lose tasks temporarily on the back burner.
  4. Daily diligence and persistence is key. Stick to it!
  5. Don’t sweat getting off-track.

The last tip is, in my view, the most important. If you’re making an effort to better your time management skills, you already know why it’s important. So if something unexpected comes up, it can be stressful to get back on schedule. But rolling with the punches is a part of every job, and keeping your cool as issues arise can make the difference between good and great time management.

May I Ask You a Question?

By, 10/19/2012

Good communication is vital in every aspect of life. However, more often than not, good communication is portrayed as effectively explaining a concept or stating your opinion. Though the ability to express yourself well is helpful in the workplace, knowing when to sit back and listen and, more importantly, to ask questions can increase your visibility at work.

Observing my colleagues, it’s evident those who ask the most questions and truly listen to the answers (whether in entry-level or managerial roles) are the most successful. While some are afraid to look ignorant, asking questions demonstrates humility and curiosity—two valuable traits. Furthermore, it can give your peers insight into your thinking process, which further promotes a productive conversation. Asking questions may also bring your drive to learn to management’s attention and could encourage peers who may be afraid to speak up without your example.

So while asking questions (even the “dumb” ones) may feel embarrassing, the courage you demonstrate by putting yourself out there, and the exchanges that follow, promote your leadership skills—and, down the road, maybe they’ll help promote you, too.

Social Media and You (and Your Career)

By, 10/17/2012

Once upon a time, networking was a matter of face-to-face interaction and handshakes. These days the channels for networking are many and varied, from old-fashioned friend and family connections to Pinterest accounts. In fact, social media may be the most important venue for networking today.

This Reuters article on social media networking outlines some dos and don’ts—and offers a few examples. Having an online presence gives you several platforms for selling your personal “brand” to potential employers and professional acquaintances. Including career aspirations as well as personal passions signals to the professional world how you may fit in at a certain company, where your strengths lie and how well-rounded you are.

In a way, social networking is an ongoing interview—it gives you unlimited opportunity to advertise yourself, but it means everything you post could be scrutinized. Use discretion when posting. Even personal items can be seen by professional networks, and your boss may not appreciate daily pictures of your cat (especially if he or she is a dog-person).

Ending the Work Day on a Good Note

It’s commonly said that having a productive morning will lead to an overall successful workday. The same can also be said for ending the day on a productive note—the following day can be just as rewarding.

To keep the next morning from starting off on the wrong foot, review (or make) a to-do list for the following day—it’s easier to accomplish tasks if you know what’s coming. Review your schedule to see which meetings or conference calls are on the docket. Organizing and cleaning up your workspace will also help you start the next day with a clean slate.

It’s easy to get caught up in work and take it home with you by thinking or worrying about a daunting task list, but in order to keep a healthy work-life balance, it’s important to be able to disconnect from work life and leave stress at the door as you leave. Taking a mental break from the office—and getting a good night’s sleep—can help replenish your energy and boost productivity when you step back into the office.

Marketing Yourself

By, 10/15/2012

When you’re applying for a job, your cover letter is just as important as your resume (if not more so). Your resume shows off your experience, but the cover letter lets you highlight your professional personality and pitch the employer—and if it’s not compelling, he or she may not give your resume much of a look.

While your resume lists previous responsibilities and duties, your cover letter should explain how this experience applies to the job you’re seeking—you have the opportunity to demonstrate why you are a great candidate. Even if you don’t have as much work experience as other candidates, your cover letter can highlight extra-curricular activities that helped you gain or hone applicable skills.

Although it saves time to use the same cover letter when applying for different jobs, it may benefit you more to customize each letter for each job posting. The employer will likely notice you took the time to learn about the company and tailor the letter accordingly, which should help you stand out from other candidates.

Thinking One Level Ahead

By, 10/12/2012

As you climb the corporate ladder, colleagues, mentors and friends may offer advice—and they probably won’t all give you the same tips. When people you trust offer conflicting advice, it’s often hard to discern which pieces to take and which pieces to leave behind.

One piece of advice I have always found helpful is to think one level ahead. When it comes time for managers to select someone for a promotion, they will most likely pick someone they think has the ability to understand and effectively address the most pertinent issues.

Putting this in action may help you in the long run. When you’re working on a project or trying to solve a problem, ask yourself how you think your manager might handle the situation. How would they assess the problem? What kind of solutions would they propose? When they see your thought process and solution, they’ll see you have the necessary critical thinking skills to advance.

Being a New Hire

By, 10/11/2012

Building rapport with co-workers is an important part of starting a new job. No one wants to start out on the wrong foot. An article on Monster.com lists the dos and don’ts for making the social transition to your new workplace.

Act friendly, even if it’s a little hard in the beginning while you’re focused on learning your new job functions. Make an effort to engage with people whenever you can, and try making small talk to find common interests. Ask your coworkers if they saw a recent show or sporting event, or ask for recommendations on shops or restaurants close by—you might just end up chatting about the latest episode of your favorite show over a sandwich at lunch.

As you get to know your coworkers, be mindful of certain boundaries. For instance, don’t insert yourself into conversations that appear more personal. Give colleagues some time to warm up to you—they are still getting to know you, and you don’t want to seem invasive. Finally, although networking can be important in the corporate world, don’t invite people to join your online network right away. Not only will you avoid a potential awkward moment should they not accept your request, but as Monster advises, “your network should consist of people with whom you have a relationship rather than just someone who happens to have the same employer.”

Be a Mentor

By, 10/10/2012

Having a mentor is a valuable way to learn about a new job, your colleagues and a new company. Personally, I find being a mentor can be as (and sometimes more) beneficial.

You can be a mentor at almost any point in your career, even if you feel too inexperienced to give advice. Forming a mentor relationship with someone less tenured or with less exposure to your area of expertise can be a testament to just how much you’ve learned. It also provides an excellent opportunity to thoroughly understand your job—after all, if you don’t understand something, you won’t be able to explain it to someone else. And the questions you’ll field often provide new perspective.

Mentoring also provides a networking opportunity that often lasts long after you’ve completed a job or left a company.  I still check in with my past mentors and mentees about work and life in general. Those relationships are advantageous for my career and my mentors and mentees also benefit—it’s a two-way street.

Mistaken

By, 10/08/2012

Nobody wants to make mistakes. They waste time, effort and money. But the irrational fear of making mistakes can hinder your overall job performance. Fear often paralyzes your ability to think creatively, innovate and see the big picture.

Learning experiences are a common benefit of mistakes. Something as small as a typo can teach you to be more careful, while bigger errors offer more lasting experiences. For instance, testing new ideas or initiatives may feel discouraging in the face of repeated failure. However, knowing what doesn’t work can lead you closer to what does. Whether a minor slip-up or bigger blunder, you’ll learn to look out for mishaps—potentially leading to more efficient work in the future.

And, though negative effects also follow, keeping a balanced view of all outcomes helps quell the fear of making mistakes—which may lead you to have more confidence in your decision making and chance taking. At the very least, you’ll probably learn something. So in the future, own your mistakes and benefit from the gained experience.

Soft Skills

By, 10/03/2012

Soft skills may be just as important as technical skills when it comes to professional development.

For example, abilities like problem solving and conflict resolution can help create a solid basis for career advancement. Likewise, being able to work as part of a team—as both a leader and a follower to complete a common goal—is essential. Adaptability to change, too, is a valued soft skill. But where do you hone these skills in the first place? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a course. For example, a conflict-resolution or public speaking course is probably offered at a local community college.
  • Seek mentors. Ask someone who already has the skills you’d like to develop to share their tips or advice with you.
  • Volunteer. Consider working with a non-profit organization or other group to help hone your team-building and problem-solving skills.

Time Management

By, 10/02/2012

Time management is a key skill in the corporate world today. With only so many hours in the day, it’s imperative to efficiently manage your time.

Keeping an organized to do list is key to efficient time management. List out each item you need to accomplish and the time it will take you to complete each one. From there, prioritize accordingly. You may be the type of person who likes to work a little on each project, or you may be the type of person who likes to complete each project, cross it off the to-do list, and move on.

Are some projects longer term than others? This is where priority setting also comes in handy. If you are someone who likes to work on several projects at a time, it may be more beneficial to complete those assignments with shorter term deadlines first.

Also keep in mind: Depending on your company culture, it can be ok to say no. You will likely be asked at some point to take on more projects than you have time for. Speaking up in this case will generally be well-received—most employers will appreciate your devotion to the projects already on your plate.

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