4 Phrases Your Boss Wants to Hear

Fact: At some point, every one of us has (or had) a boss.

We wish they had all the answers. It would be ideal if on every rung in the ladder, we could look to our bosses to actually lead us, guide us, and be our mentors.

But managers don’t know everything, and more often than not, they need our help, too. Unfortunately, only the best leaders actually ask for it.

But why wait to be asked? Here are four tiny sentences that every boss is secretly dying to hear you say, and that’ll help you manage up and make both you and your manager shine.

1. “I’ve Got This”

Maybe your manager has a few bosses of her own who have just joined on. These new players are demanding, and she may not know how to manage them and their requests. Projects she used to oversee—like the ones you work on—may not be her top priority right now, nor might she be the best person to guide you. So, what do you do? Easy. You tell her “I’ve got this.”

Why it Matters

A great boss knows that to succeed, she has to set priorities—which means she has to hand them off to someone else. Letting her know you will own this might give her the confidence she needs to let you run with it. And then you have an opportunity to flash your best work.

2. “It’s My Responsibility”

Too often people are either not held accountable or refuse to be, pointing the finger elsewhere. Usually, there’s a fear of retaliation if we make a mistake or if we shine a light on what went wrong. (Note: If that’s the culture you’re in, you might want to ask yourself if it’s where you really want to be.) But all things considered, taking responsibility for something you did or raising your hand when you see something that could be potentially damaging to your company is what leaders do.

Why it Matters

At the end of the day, stepping up to own our mistakes shows great character and courage. It’s what every great boss should praise (and not punish) in a direct report.

3. “I Disagree Because…”

Your boss may not always like or agree with what you have to say, but he’s far better off with a team that’s unafraid to speak up, instead of a bunch of “yes” men and women. You were hired for your judgment and counsel. Be respectful but be sure to speak your mind when it serves the company and its goals. True leaders will heed what you say and respect you back.

Why it Matters

Confident leaders won’t make you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells when the truth may hurt; rather, they’ll seek out direct reports they know will always give it to them straight.

4. “Can I Help?”

Why not periodically throw them a life preserver? Asking if you can help is an open-ended invitation to your boss, letting her know you’ve got her back and recognize that her workload is split between delivering to her higher-ups and managing you.

Why it Matters

“Can I help?” is another way of asking “Are you OK?” Letting her know she’s not alone will mean more to her than she may let on and will help you earn her trust as someone she can count on in times of need.

Sometimes, people think it’s “safest” to keep their heads down and say nothing. But, if you want to make a difference where you work, and you believe that what you have to offer can do that, then don’t hesitate to give these phrases a try.
Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you come up with more phrases your boss wants to hear. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Your Guide to Answering the Most Common Interview Questions

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what questions a hiring manager would be asking you in your next job interview?

We can’t read minds, but we can give you the next best thing: a list of some of the most asked interview questions, along with advice for answering them all.

While we don’t recommend having a canned response for every interview question (in fact, please don’t) we do however recommend spending some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked, what hiring managers are really looking for, and what it takes to reflect that you’re the right person for the job.

Interview Question and Answer Study Guide:

1. Tell Me About Yourself.

This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Here’s the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead, give a pitch—one that’s concise, compelling, and shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Talk a little bit about your current role (including the scope and perhaps one big accomplishment,) then give some background as to how you got there and experience you have that’s relevant. Finally, segue into why you want—and would be perfect for—this role.

2. How Did You Hear About This Position?

Another seemingly innocuous interview question, this is actually a perfect opportunity to stand out and show your passion for, and connection to, the company. For example, if you found out about the gig through a friend or professional contact, name drop that person, then share why you were so excited about it. If you discovered the company through an event or article, share that. Even if you found the listing through a random job board, share what, specifically, caught your eye about the role.

3. Why Do You Want This Job?

First, identify a couple of key factors that make the role a great fit for you (e.g., “I love customer support because I enjoy the constant human interaction and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone solve a problem,”) then share why you love the company (e.g., “I’ve always been passionate about education, and I think you’re doing great things, so I see strong alignment.”)

4. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

Definitely keep things positive—you have nothing to gain by being negative about your current employer. Instead, frame things in a way that shows that you’re eager to take on new opportunities and that the role you’re interviewing for is a better fit for you. For example, “I’d really love to be part of product development from beginning to end and I know I’d have that opportunity here.” 

5. Why Should We Hire You?

Your job here is to craft an answer that covers three things: that you can literally do the work and deliver great results; that you’ll fit in with the team and culture; and that you’d be a better hire than any of the other candidates. 

With all of these, write your answer out and spend time saying these out loud. We would never suggest that you memorize a canned answer but the more you are familiar with your narratives the more comfortable you will be when you share them. We also suggest you write up stories from experiences you’ve had that you would consider wins, challenges overcome, and other anecdotes that reflect your impact and success.
Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you with in depth interview preparation and much more. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to Know if You’re Making the Wrong Career Move

Imagine you are facing a major career decision. A new opportunity arose that would increase your engagement and give you more autonomy. Taking it however means leaving a job that you’ve enjoyed, focusing on a different type of work, and facing a substantial learning curve. Uncertain, you almost miss the window to apply… What do you do?

One of the biggest doubts that gnaws at a decision maker’s peace of mind, is worrying about making the wrong move. What if I take this new job and regret it? What if I’m not prepared enough to move up? What if I strike out on my own and fail? Just how, exactly, can you tell if you’re about to make a wrong move? Like many things in your professional life, there’s no black and white when it comes to making a bold career-changing pivot. But the following three questions may help you work through your concerns. (Of course, if your circumstances are complex, it’s time to schedule with one of our career coaches.)

1. Do You Have a Sense of Foreboding?

Do you feel a tiny lingering sense of dread when you think about the new opportunity? Maybe your potential boss minimized some of your accomplishments in the interview, making you wonder if your work won’t be valued in the new space. Or maybe you met the team, and while they were polite, they also seemed a bit tightly-wound, making you wonder how they handle a tough deadline or if this is the culture of the department.

Think you would just walk away if you encountered red flags like these? Don’t kid yourself—there are plenty of reasons we ignore warning bells, like a bigger paycheck, higher status, or the opportunity to live in a great location. But, if you see these signs, you shouldn’t overlook them simply because you want to make more money. A nagging unease or feeling of discomfort could be your big brain’s way of letting you know that you’re not ready or that it’s not the best option.

Look, it’s inevitable that a career change is going to create some anxiety. (If it doesn’t, check your pulse!) You don’t need to automatically turn down a great offer if you’re feeling nervous, but you should try to determine if it’s more than just butterflies. Ask yourself, “Am I uncomfortable about something that’s happened in this process, or am I just nervous at the thought of change?”

2. Are You Feeling Desperate?

If you’re in a crummy situation and you hate your job, and you get a chance to make a change, there’s a chance you might make the jump just to escape your current situation. Make sure you’re approaching the decision with a clear head so you can determine if the new opportunity actually offers something better or if it just seems that way. Remember that you need to vet this new opportunity. You need to assess if this new company, culture, team, management, product, is an actual fit for you and sets you up for success.

If you can’t find that clear headspace on your own, talk to someone. When you feel panicky, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain perspective. Someone on the outside, someone who doesn’t have your emotional attachment to the situation, can often be of enormous help. A trusted friend, mentor, or career coach can help you recognize and sort through your options.

3. Are You Trying to Spite Someone?

You’re not the only one who’s dreamed of getting an incredible opportunity to rub in that colleague’s smug face. But, c’mon now, that’s obviously a terrible reason to actually make a career move. If you let them drive your decision, you’re giving them control, and it’s unlikely that the decision is truly what’s best for you and your professional trajectory.

If you can remain secure and productive in your role, you’ll ultimately have more control, and eventually, new doors will open for you, giving you the chance to evaluate your options objectively.

Here’s a final nugget to bear in mind when wrestling with a major career decision: If you truly know what is a fit for you, if you know what you need in a career to thrive, and you have vetted the company, your potential co-workers and boss, the culture, then you are likely to make a good, solid decision. Still wondering “Am I making the fight decision?” Ask our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers who all offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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