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.

Supplemental Learning

By, 12/28/2012

Once you know your job basics, it may be time for some supplemental learning to expand your knowledge base. Many firms offer on-the-job training and other resources to help employees gain knowledge of work-related fields. But here are some examples of supplemental learning you can do on your own:

  • Take classes. If a relevant class isn’t offered at your company, ask your manager about the possibility of organizing one. Chances are, if there’s a subject you’d like to learn about, others are also interested.
  • Read work-related, third-party materials: books, newspaper articles, blogs, etc. Learning others’ opinions could cast your work in a different light and give you an opportunity to think critically about opposing opinions.
  • Take the time to talk to someone with a deep knowledge base on a topic that interests you. Their experience can teach you about subject areas you wouldn’t have necessarily thought of on your own.

Guidelines for Spacing Out

By, 12/26/2012

Your mind will probably wander while you work—no matter how much you love your job. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Many sources discuss the merits of briefly redirecting your thoughts to gain perspective on a tough problem—as you’ve likely experienced, inspiration tends to hit when you least expect it. But instead of rehashing the benefits of clearing your mind, I’d like to provide you with some guidelines to get the most out of your mind’s wanderings.

  • Do busy work when you have trouble concentrating. If you’re focused on a highly involved project, picking up other work that requires less concentration could help clear your head.
  • Visually stimulate your mind. Like busy work, visual stimulation requires little concentration, and the instant gratification of flipping through a brochure or exploring websites may put your mind at ease.
  • Indulge a little—but not too much. Have a situation at home you can’t get off your mind? Allowing yourself a minute or so to concentrate on it helps you get it out of your system a bit—and realize you can’t do much to solve it at work. But be careful, a little indulgence can lead to more. So make sure to stay disciplined.

‘Tis the Season

By, 12/19/2012

It’s that time of year. If you haven’t had your first cold of the season already, you’re lucky! Although there are plenty of methods claiming to help ward off the cold (vitamins, hand sanitizer, fluids), the office can be a common place to catch the common cold. So make sure you take care of your health this winter, and stay home or see a doctor if you’re truly feeling under the weather. Likewise, avoid public areas and get plenty of rest—both will help you get better sooner. Of course, be considerate of your co-workers, too. Being mindful of the downstream consequences of your sniffles and their potential effect on others is something everyone can appreciate.

Critical Questions

By, 12/17/2012

Employers often use projects (especially on new topics) as learning tools. Starting from scratch in unfamiliar territory teaches you about related departments and gives you an opportunity to hone in on your problem solving abilities.

One misperception assumes your process needs to be concrete from beginning to end. But realistically, problem solving has much more to do with knowing the correct questions to ask—a constantly developing skill. Asking questions relevant to your task can reveal much about how to move forward: What department handles relevant information? Who else might be involved? What’s the timeline?

Asking the right questions also helps develop your critical thinking skills. With enough practice, you’ll know some answers before you even think to ask the questions. The stronger your critical thinking, the less intimidating new projects will be, and the more you’re likely to take on. Employers value those who can consistently work in unfamiliar territory and find answers.

Your Cover Letter and Resume—The Real First Impression

By, 12/13/2012

Making a great impression at an in-person interview is an important part of the job search process, but don’t forget the reason you’re there in the first place—your resume and cover letter. These two documents are the first opportunity for the company to meet you and determines if you’re a possible candidate. Here are a few tips on crafting a cover letter that could help you get your foot in the door.

First, the company may have several different positions open, so indicate the specific job for which you are applying. It also shows that you have gone through and customized your cover letter for the specific job. If you can, see if you can locate a name of the recruiter or hiring manager so personalize the letter.

Try not to repeat information listed on your resume. The cover letter is an extension of your resume, so utilize it to expand on your previous job history or some of your key accomplishments by telling a story.

Last, but not least—proofread, proofread, proofread! Utilize computer applications to check for spelling or grammatical errors. It also helps to have someone else look over your cover letter and resume—a fresh set of eyes may find something you didn’t see on your own.

Organization 101

By, 12/11/2012

It’s often said a well-organized workspace can be a more productive workspace. As the year comes to a close, people often take time to prepare for the new year—getting organized is a great way to accomplish this.

Reducing clutter is often a good first step. What have you been keeping you might no longer need? Look for supplies that don’t work or lingering sticky notes you might no longer need. Desk organizers are also helpful, either for paper and files on top of your desk or supplies inside. Decreasing clutter will help you maximize the (sometimes limited) space you have and leave you feeling more organized.

Utilize technology. Consolidating your calendar and contacts in your email system is a healthy way to keep all of your important information in one place. You can even track to-do lists or important notes. If you’re anything like me, paper to-do lists are ever-present, but utilizing these tools as a back-up is always helpful, especially when tracking longer term projects.

Finally, keep on top of your to-do list. Part of being organized is not letting your work pile up and get out of control in the first place. I often utilize the calendar reminder feature for keeping track of time sensitive tasks or tasks further out in the future that may disappear from the to-do list over time.

Being Comfortable in Your Work Space

By, 12/06/2012

In many offices, employees spend a majority of the day at their desks. That said, it’s important to be comfortable in the space you have.

Be physically comfortable. Talk to your Human Resources department about an ergonomic assessment. Perhaps having an ergonomic keyboard or mouse or different chair would make you more comfortable and allow you to be more productive. Sitting or typing more comfortably will also help in the long run with avoiding possible health issues like back or wrist pain.

Decorate your workspace. If you spend a lot of time at your desk, liven up your surroundings and personalize your space. Bring a photo of friends and family or some sports memorabilia. However, don’t forget to use common sense when it comes to decorating—your workspace is also a public area where your decorations will be viewed by others.

Having a space in which you are comfortable can make for a more productive environment and workday. If you’re able to, take the time to make your space your own and enjoy your personal touch.

One Quick Step Forward … Two Longer Steps Back

By, 12/05/2012

A shortcut lets you reach an end goal with reduced time and effort. But in the real world, shortcuts can carry less welcome consequences. Nevertheless, they can be very tempting, especially when you realize the extra work necessary for  reworking part of a project or adding in missing but relevant information. Addressing those items in full can feel like taking a step backward when you could instead continue forward.

But my advice is to work thoroughly. Moving forward with an incomplete project can put the integrity of your work into question. And realistically, you’ll probably have to spend more time going back and fixing the problems caused by a shortcut than you would taking the time to do your work completely and correctly from the start.

You’ll notice throughout your entire career, more often than not, it’s worth taking one step backward in the short term to do a thorough job for long term benefit.  A shortcut might allow you to jump ahead of others in the short run … but usually costs you more time and effort in the end.

Coffee Corner or Career Corner?

By, 12/04/2012

Break room, lunch room, water cooler, coffee pot ... It comes in as many forms as there are businesses: the area you and your colleagues go for a quick refresh during the workday. These areas are great for networking and mental relaxation while preventing rumbling stomachs and parched throats. The personal benefits are obvious, but did you know water cooler behavior can also positively affect your career?

Starting a friendly conversation in the lunch room could lead to a useful professional connection. Have a particularly difficult problem? Walking away for a quick cup of water could refresh your palette and your mind—potentially leading to a long-sought solution. And who doesn’t like the person refilling the coffee pot when it runs dry? Little tasks, even as simple as wiping off the counter, can make you stand out as a team player.

But a quick note of caution: Break room behavior can be a career boost, but some behavior (like lingering too long, too often or too much gossip) can set you back. So, keep in mind “on break” isn’t the same as “off work.” Professionalism by the water cooler is as beneficial as friendliness—and the combination can take you far.

Keep Your Resume Relevant

By, 12/03/2012

 

This article in the Chicago Tribune provides excellent advice on keeping your resume clean and relevant when searching for a job. Depending on your past work experience, it can be tempting to pad your resume, listing previous work in detail or including too much detail. Too much information and, more importantly, irrelevant information can have a negative impact on your overall application.

One solution to a muddled resume is tailoring it to advertise certain experiences over others, aligning your skills with those required for a specific position. In my experience, I’ve seen many generic resumes sent to various companies. But not all of those companies are necessarily looking for the same skills. Elaborating your relevant skills tells the prospective employer you understand what’s important to the job and you can bring the right skills to the table.

In the end, a specific resume is a relevant resume—and a relevant resume demonstrates to prospective employers just how right you are for the job.

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