A Work-From-Home Schedule That’ll Help You Get the Most Out of Your Day

A Work-From-Home Schedule That’ll Help You Get the Most Out of Your Day

A Work-From-Home Schedule 

The good news: Working from home has no hard and fast rules.

The bad news: Working from home has no hard and fast rules.

So make a plan and keep it simple. Having a general guide for what you’re supposed to tackle at what time will help you structure your day and get things done. A productivity plan, as we like to call it, keeps you on track so you don’t just look at your watch at 4:13 PM and think, “Where did today go?”

At a time when so many people are working from home for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic, you might be finding yourself in need of a productivity plan of your own. Here’s a helpful, loose daily structure with some tips to help you adapt it for your own needs. With a few adjustments—according to when you wake up, when you’re expected to be reachable, what time of day you focus best, and, of course, whether you have kids or other caregiving responsibilities—you can make it work for you.

So pick and choose the blocks that make sense in your life, shuffle them around in the order that feels right, and give your plan a try.

7:30 AM

Wake up!

7:45 AM

Kick-off that morning routine: Take a shower, drink coffee, meditate, stretch, check your most important apps (Gmail, Slack, whatever they are for you) to see if there’s anything you need to address first thing.

Don’t skip the routine, however short. The first hour of the day sets the tone for the rest of it, so news plus Instagram probably isn’t your best bet—don’t let yourself get lost in a social media scroll hole before you’ve had a chance to do anything else.

8:15 AM

Handle anything urgent and give any updates to your boss and teammates. Getting this done first thing will give you peace of mind to dive into your work and focus without the nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something or that someone’s waiting on you.

8:45 AM

Do your most important and creative work first. 

Use that golden morning brain to focus on something bigger than busywork. If you spend the first 90 minutes or so of your day chipping away at an important task or project, then no matter what—even if the rest of your day gets thrown off by something urgent (work crisis, partner problems, roommate issues, kid interruptions)—you’ll feel satisfied that you accomplished something meaningful.

10:00 AM

Take a break! After 75 minutes or so of focus, you’ve earned it. 

10:15 AM

Back to that important and creative work—hopefully, a little refreshed. It helps to set aside solid chunks of time on your calendar to focus on priority projects. 

12:30 PM

It’s lunchtime! Leave your workspace if you can for a change of scenery and so that you can actually enjoy your food. You don’t want to suddenly look down to see an empty plate and realize you didn’t even taste your sandwich because you were still typing. Move your body a little if possible, too, and try to get outside for a bit if you can. (These things can help you recharge and deal with anxiety you might be experiencing during this pandemic.)

1:30 PM

Now’s the time to reply to all nonurgent emails and messages. Remember, not every note requires your immediate attention. Most emails can be answered respectfully within 24 hours.

2:30 PM

If you can swing scheduling it this way, early afternoon is a superb time for virtual meetings. Extroverts, you’ll get a good boost from seeing your colleagues, and introverts, you’ll already have had most of the workday to yourself so you’ll probably be feeling nice and recharged from yesterday’s meetings and chatter.

4:30 PM

Back to emails and other correspondence one more time before the end of the day—it never ends, we know!

5:00 PM

Wrap up and plan for the next day. Before you completely sign off, jot down your top three priorities for the following morning. This will keep you centered on what matters most (and help you know how to kick off the next day with your best brain). 

Having even a rough outline like this to guide you will help you enjoy working from home more, help you get way more done, and make this social distancing situation more tenable. 

It may be a temporary situation but that doesn’t mean you have to write off regular, helpful routines—just that you need to find one that works for this moment. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you make the most of working-from-home. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coach and Los Angeles career coach, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Job Search Tips

Job Search Tips When Starting a Career During the Coronavirus

Job Search Tips When Starting a Career During the Coronavirus. Graduating from college or otherwise applying for your first professional job is stressful in any circumstance. But it feels especially daunting when the economy, the job market, and the world, in general, seem to be turned upside down.

But career experts say it’s critical to continue to look for work and stay connected during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. “Don’t go into a place of fear and stagnancy,” warns Muse career coach Chelsea C. Williams, founder of College Code, a Manhattan-based talent development firm.

Here are a few ways to build relationships, find work, and move forward in your career.

1. Check-in on Your Job Offer

You might’ve already had a job lined up, perhaps through a previous co-op or internship or via on-campus recruiting, and are likely wondering if that offer still stands. If your college career office was involved in helping you land that offer, that should be your first stop, says Susan Weil, co-CEO of Weil and Wein, a Manhattan-based career coaching firm.

If they don’t know anything about the status of your offer or weren’t involved, you can reach out to whoever extended the offer to you, whether that’s a recruiter, the company’s campus recruiting coordinator, or your future manager.

2. Be Flexible

“Many first-time job seekers have a vision of what they thought their first job would look like,” Williams says. That vision might still be valid but you might need to take some turns and twists to get to that end goal.

For instance, while you might have had your heart set on a full-time job with full benefits, it might be time to consider a six-month internship or fellowship or to look for contract work to tide you over until companies start hiring for more full-time roles again. Maybe you can’t get a full-time job at a public relations firm right now. In the meantime, you might be able to get an internship assisting the firm as it helps clients with crisis communications during the pandemic. That would be an impressive addition to your resume and could even transform into a job offer.

3. Continue to Network

Reach out to people you already know relatively well to ask them to keep an eye out for relevant opportunities for you. Make a list of people in your network you feel comfortable approaching—such as favorite professors, internship supervisors you got along with, family members, and friends—and let them know you’re looking for a job.

Just be mindful of the current situation in your communications, Williams says. For instance, you can say, “I realize the current situation is challenging but if you do hear of anything, let me know. I have a skill set in digital communications and I’m open to contract work or volunteer work.”

No one knows how long the pandemic, social distancing, and the resulting financial crisis will last. So focus on what you can control—responding to job postings and reaching out to contacts as well as being mindful of your overall attitude and how you react to the situation.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coach and Los Angeles career coach, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down

Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down

Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Things are changing quickly every day, and most of us have seen our typical routines turned upside down. More and more workplaces are allowing or requiring remote work, while school and daycare closings and “social distancing” restrictions mean that whole families are suddenly spending a whole lot more time at home together.

That means many working parents are facing an unprecedented situation: working from home with kids and without access to the camps, babysitters, playdates, and even Grandma-dates that you might normally rely on to get through a school break or a snow day.

It won’t be smooth or perfect, but there are a few strategies you can use to make your new situation a little easier. We have real-world tips from remote workers who’ve balanced career and children in close proximity to help you through this difficult moment.

1. Get Creative With Your Schedule

If you have another adult home with you, consider a split schedule. “Our entire family was housebound for 15 days last winter when there was a polar vortex in Wisconsin,” says Melanie McKay, a scheduling manager for Kaplan Test Prep. “At the time our kids were two, six, seven, and nine. My husband and I both had to work from home and school was canceled. At the beginning of each day, we decided who would be the ‘on point’ parent. That person would work at the dining room table, feed the kids, and suggest activities for ‘bored’ children while the other parent worked in a different room.”

Of course, it may not be possible to get all your work done during regular business hours if you’re also on duty with the kids. “One way we maximized work time was by working odd hours,” McKay says. “I worked before the children were awake. My husband and I staggered work times during the day, and one of us worked in the evening when the children were in bed.” You’ll also need to take meetings and deadlines into consideration. Which ones can be shifted around, and which are cast in stone?

Whichever time slots you end up working, there will be an adjustment period as you retrain your mind to focus during your new “business” hours. You may enjoy mornings, but getting up at 4 or 5 AM to work is different from getting up early to exercise. So set yourself up for success. Pick out tasks in advance and then gather all of the tools and information you’ll need to complete them. Your tired brain will thank you later.

2. Be Up Front With Your Boss

You might need to make adjustments to your work schedule in order to watch your children. Before you do, talk to your boss or HR.

Begin the discussion by contextualizing the news. Remember that this isn’t your personal situation, it’s a community issue. Convey this point tactfully by stating the facts in a straightforward way. It’s also always good to come into this kind of conversation proactively with a clear action plan, says career coach Melody Godfred.

So for example, Godfred suggests you might say:

“As I transition to working from home, I wanted to share that I am also responsible for my three kids, who I will be homeschooling for the time being due to school closures. I am creating a schedule that I will share with you so that you’re aware of when I will be available or unavailable for calls or collaboration. I am absolutely committed to maintaining the level of excellence you expect and will remain in close communication with you so you’re clear on how I’m meeting our goals. I appreciate your support and look forward to navigating this together.”

3. Stick to a Routine

Maintaining a daily routine will help everyone stay occupied and manage some of the anxiety caused by this big change. Go ahead and write out a schedule (including which parent is on primary kid duty if you’re trading off) and pin it to the wall or the refrigerator so kids can refer to it throughout the day.

“The kids had a list of things to do each morning (dress, brush teeth, empty the dishwasher, read for 15 minutes), and we steered them toward different activities each day such as puzzles or fort building,” McKay says.

With some schools closing for a month or more, you’ll want to build in “school” time every day, too. (Bonus: School time can equal pockets of work time for you.) If your kids’ schools have set up remote learning, follow the plan and use the resources provided by their teachers.

Just resist the temptation to have a screen time free-for-all: “Rationing screen time was an important part of my child engagement strategy,” McKay says. “They knew that those were the only two hours that they would get to watch screens all day, so they focused on the show and let me focus on work.”

Juggling work and childcare is an intense but survivable experience. Many remote workers successfully navigate this reality every day. While your situation is different from families who regularly work at home while taking care of children, you can build a temporary structure for your temporary circumstances. With a little bit of planning, lots of discussions, and an adaptable attitude, you’ll be able to better weather your COVID-19 stint at home with the kids.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about how to working at home with your kids. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coaches and Los Angeles career coaches, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic. In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home for the first time, full-time.

Even if you’ve done it before, working from home because of coronavirus might feel like a whole new world: It’s probably sudden. It might be for an extended period of time rather than a couple of weeks (and you’re not sure how long it’ll last.) Your whole company is involved. And you aren’t supposed to socialize in person outside of work.

These tips will make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done, and at maintaining your mental well-being:

1. Get Dressed

You don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. “Don’t underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. It makes you feel human [and] confident and helps draw the line between being at work and being at home,” says Heather Yurovsky, career coach and the founder of Shatter & Shine. “Feeling human” might seem like an odd thing to have to actively think of, but it’s especially important at a time like this when the breakdown of your everyday routines might make you feel cut off from your “normal” life and the “real” world.

Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. It’s 2020 and we’re all about to have a lot of video meetings.

2. Designate a Workspace or Home Office

One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. “For some people, it becomes very blurry,” says career coach Lynn Berger, who specializes in helping people navigate career transitions. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer and your home life can take a hit as well.

Entering your workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and get down to work. On the flip side, leaving your workspace will also help you turn “off” at the end of the day and fully disengage. That’s why it’s also important not to spread yourself across your home—while it might seem great to be able to move from desk to couch to bed, if you let your laptop creep into your downtime space, it makes it harder to keep your work separate from your home life.

3. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours

Just as you designate and separate your physical workspace, you should be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not. You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to transition back to the office if you stick with your regular hours. Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your coworkers makes everything much easier.

“The biggest difference between working from home and working in the office is that you are in charge of your environment and have to treat yourself like an employee,” Yurovsky says. This means holding yourself accountable, but also recognizing when enough is enough, just as a good manager might. “If you feel yourself extending your work hours because you aren’t doing anything in the evening…tell yourself it’s time to put work away, recharge, and start tomorrow with a fresh mind. The work will be there in the morning.”

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If you don’t usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps in the road if you have to suddenly go fully remote. The key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. Either before you make the switch or as soon as you know it’s happening, come up with a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check-in and how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day.

“Do not default to email if you would have spoken to a coworker face-to-face while at the office,” Yurovsky says. You might find it’s best to check in with your boss and coworkers over the phone, Slack, or through video chat. This will cut down on miscommunication and break up some of the social isolation that can come from working from home.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about how to maximize your working hours. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coach and Los Angeles career coach, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Tips for Using Social Media to Help Your Career, Not Hurt It

Tips for Using Social Media to Help Your Career, Not Hurt It

Tips for Using Social Media to Help Your Career, Not Hurt It. Social media can also be a powerful tool for your professional life. You can use it to build your personal brand, grow your network, establish yourself as an expert in your field, or give prospective employers a glimpse into your personality.

It can also be full of pitfalls. More employers and recruiters now regularly check candidates’ social media profiles before hiring them, and screenshots of status updates and tweets mean your electronic words can live forever, even if you delete them later.

And it’s not just your own posts—your activity, including those stealth “likes,” can come back to haunt you, too. “One thing people are often surprised to learn is that an employer can not only see their LinkedIn profile but also see every post they’ve liked, commented on, or shared, in addition to any posts they’re sharing to their feed,” says Michelle Merritt, executive partner at Merrfeld Career Management. “We remind clients to be cautious in what they react to.”

These crucial dos and don’ts will help you navigate the social media maze.

1. Do Be Respectful

Avoid attacking others, and use your best judgment about your own posts. Could they be viewed in a negative manner? Would you shout what you’ve just typed into a crowd? Think before you post, and of course, steer clear of profanity. “Once you’re an adult, that’s not cool,” says Jason Patel, founder of Transizion, a college- and career prep company. “It means you can’t control yourself.”

2. Don’t Post About Politics or Religion

Unless you work in politics, it’s best not to take any sort of controversial stance on public social media, especially if you’re applying for a job in a sensitive position where you need to protect data, protect client information, or be someone that others go to for advice. “If someone’s trying to hire you for a job, don’t let them think all your advice is going to be biased from the get-go,” Patel says.

3. Do Have a Presence on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an important tool for networking and professional brand building, so you should have a complete profile there—with a professional headshot. (Please, no selfies.) “It’s really your electronic resume now, and a lot of the same rules apply,” says Susan Hosage, senior consultant and executive coach with OneSource HR Solutions. “Make sure the content is grammatically correct and spelled correctly, and that all the jobs and titles and dates are accurate.”

4. Don’t Overshare Personal Information

You don’t need to post everything that happens to you. “I have a friend who posts every time she’s in the ER,” Hosage says. “You don’t want to say that discrimination exists out there, but discrimination exists. If somebody does a search and they see something that isn’t appealing to them, it could affect a hiring decision.” Before you share, consider: What would a potential employer think if they read this?

5. Do Learn to Love Your Privacy Settings

We know what you’re thinking: How are you supposed to have any fun online if you can’t be yourself? It’s fine to be a little looser on Facebook or Instagram—if you keep those profiles private. Either lock down your privacy settings (you can also change your profile name to a nickname or first-plus-middle for extra anonymity) or keep your posts aboveboard.

6. Don’t Trash Talk Your Employer

“We’ve seen this occur on multiple occasions where an offer letter is rescinded due to a candidate’s bad-mouthing of a current or former employer on social media,” says Robert Moses, founder of The Corporate Con/noisseur. Doing so makes you look unprofessional and negative—qualities most hiring managers aren’t eager to add to their teams.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about using social media to boost your personal brand. 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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Quitting Your Job ASAP? 5 Things to do Now.

Quitting your job ASAP? 5 things to do now

Quitting Your Job ASAP, 5 Things to do Now. Are you about to leave your current job for an incredible new one? Let’s get you prepared to make that transition graceful and smooth, shall we? Here are four things our Ignite Your Potential career coaches say you should do before you quit:

1. Ask Current Co-Workers to Write You a LinkedIn Recommendation

If you can think of colleagues, people in leadership, or even those who report to you, that have a good vantage point on the work that you’ve done, this is a great time to ask if they would be willing to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn. Even if you already have a job lined up, most of us are unlikely to go back later and do this type of “housekeeping.” Why not take care of it now as another way to archive the work you’ve done.

2. Make Those Last Doctor and Coaching Appointments

Do you have unused medical privileges that you’ll be walking away from? Or, are your old benefits more robust than your new ones will probably be? If so, consider booking your last checkups and appointments while still covered on your current employer’s plan. Do you have a stipend for professional development? The San Francisco career coaches and Los Angeles career coaches at Ignite accept these types of payment and then you can use our career coaching as you onboard to your new company.

3. Give Your Laptop and Phone some TLC

You know how you’ve kind of adopted your company-provided equipment as “yours?” Right. Now is the time to digest the fact that you aren’t, in fact, the owner of said equipment. More than likely, your employer is going to review all of the files on that computer and contacts on the phone, scrub them, and hand them out to someone else. Given this, it’s critical that you copy all of the personal files that you need and delete the ones you don’t. 

4. Make Things Easy on Your Successor

Even if you’ve been working in a House of Misery, it’s just plain jerkish to leave a bunch of loose ends or tangled messes. In your last weeks on the job, make every effort to get things organized and prepared for whoever is going to pick up where you left off. Take good meeting notes, save your files in an easy-to-understand manner, and generally approach your work with the mindset that someone else is going to have to do it very soon. Also, if possible, offer to help select and train your successor.

5. Figure Out How to Move Money

Financial planning can be confusing under the best of circumstances. Don’t let this critical matter fall through the cracks as you make a job transition. If you have a 401(k) or other money coming back to you as you part ways, understand how the payout or transition needs to work before you goof up anything vital. And then manage the money transition right along with yours.

The beginning of a new year is the most inspiring time to make big moves to improve your career or life. If you’re going to be among those who make great leaps in 2020, make sure they’re pirouettes, not belly flops.

Looking for more tips on how to successfully leave a job? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 San Francisco career coaches and Los Angeles career coaches, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to Motivate Yourself When You’re Not in the Mood

Career Motivation

Career motivation can be elusive. Some days you feel it and other days you can’t grab a measly corner of it no matter how hard you try. You stare at the computer screen, willing yourself to type, create, develop, and instead you find yourself simply going through the motions, barely caring about the work you’re producing. Needless to say, you’re totally uninspired, and you don’t know how to make yourself feel otherwise.

Quora users have been there, and they have real and practical solutions for digging up that lost motivation and getting a job not just done—but completed with a sense of passion. Read on for tips and tricks that’ll get you motivated in no time.

Don’t Think About it as Hard Work

“There is only one way for me to motivate myself to work hard: I don’t think about it as hard work. I think about it as part of making myself into who I want to be. Once I’ve made the choice to do something, I try not to think so much about how difficult or frustrating or impossible that might be; I just think about how good it must feel to be that, or how proud I might be to have done that. Make hard look easy.” – Marie Stein

Think about it: If the project you’re faced with isn’t viewed as drudgery, but rather as a piece of the puzzle that’s helping you along your career path, then perhaps the energy required to do it will be easier to come by.

Create Small, Bite-Sized Goals

“There’s a reason donut holes are so lovable. They’re easy to eat. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a dozen of them. This is how goals should be too. Of course, you should have a really big, audacious goal. But make sure you break down that goal into bite-sized, consumable goals. This way you’ll feel like you’re making progress in your journey and you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete the smaller goals. A feeling of progress and achievement is a beautiful combination.” – Nelson Wang

You’ve no doubt heard this advice before, but have you applied it to motivation? Rather than focusing on a large, scary goal, take one thing at a time and break the big goal into ideas you can digest one at a time.

Stop Caring About the Things That Don’t Matter

“Doing things that don’t mean anything costs [us] a ton of mental energy. Look at your aggregated to-do list, find things you know that you don’t care about, and get rid of as many of these activities as possible. You will stay more consistently motivated if you’re working on activities that are inherently meaningful or are part of a larger mission.” – Nick Miller

It’s not always best to finish what you started if, down the line, you can’t even remember the reason you started something in the first place.

Just Do It

“To get motivated to start doing something, from my own experience, the most effective trick for me is to just do it (sounds trite, but it works.) As soon as you think something needs to be done, jump into it, doing it immediately (of course, provided the conditions are feasible.) You must not think about anything else, suppressing all other thoughts, keeping your mind blank, acting like a robot. Yes, it sounds weird, but it does work! Otherwise, you will debate whether you should do it now or there were too many issues with doing it, or there are other more pleasurable and exciting things to do over this boring task.” – Bob Win

Instead of waiting around, willing yourself to feel motivated, what if you just went ahead and started doing the work you know you need to do? Dive into the project and trust that the focus will be what you need.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you come up with other motivation tips that work for you. 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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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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