Aaron Engelsrud

Make Your Video Conference Call Excellent

Let’s face it, the video conference is here to stay. While this type of meeting may have been an anomaly a year ago, today, the video conference is an everyday occurrence. Whether it’s a casual gathering for work, a sales pitch to a potential customer, or a job interview for a new position, make sure you are always putting your best foot forward in video conferences by following these six tips.

Most of these tips are, at first, going to seem obvious and, therefore, not very useful. However, before you write it off, try and think how many times you’ve broken one or more of these rules in a meeting. For your next video conference, try to apply one or more of these rules and see if your session is smoother, more comfortable, and less cringy.

Dress Appropriately for the Meeting This cannot be understated. No one from your office wants to see you in your underwear (well, maybe they do - but that’s a whole different post). Even for the early morning meetings at the start of the day, get dressed appropriately. Keep in mind that it may mean a t-shirt and shorts, but it may also mean a pressed shirt and tie. Look like the part you are trying to play. This is especially true for sales calls and job interviews. Ask yourself how you would dress if you were meeting the people attending in person. Would you show up to the office in pajama pants and a food-stained t-shirt? Would you walk into a potential customer’s business in shorts and a sweatshirt? Probably not. Don’t do it at a video conference either.

Be Punctual There is nothing worse than sitting and waiting for the last person to join a conference call that was supposed to start 10 minutes ago. It’s inconsiderate and rude. Be punctual and log-in on time to start the meeting promptly. There are reasons you may be late in getting to an appointment in person. Maybe there was an accident on the freeway, or your car broke down. Things happen out in the real world. When all you have to do is sit down and turn on your PC, there is little excuse to be late. All being tardy really says is that the meeting held little value to you.

Pay Attention to the Meeting Being on a video conference call is the perfect opportunity to get some online shopping done or get caught up on current events, right? Wrong. I can almost guarantee that soon as you drift off to Amazon.com and start shopping, you will get asked a question or be called on to present something. It is an unwritten law of conference calls. The one person that has the needed information is never paying attention. Having to fake knowing what has been said is dangerous, and asking what is required is embarrassing and unprofessional. Just pay attention. It’s pretty simple.

Use Your Mute Button I cannot overstate this enough. Even if you are in a quiet environment, mute yourself when you are not talking. Every jostle of your microphone, every key typed on your keyboard, every burp or guzzle of water comes through and interrupts everyone else. Zoom, for example, will highlight the person who is speaking. If you are not muted and make noise, it will highlight you, rather than the person who delivers the meeting’s message. It makes you look bad and is distracting to everyone else. Just mute yourself.

Further, if you are the host of the meeting, you can mute those annoying people who refuse to mute themselves. Do it. Everyone else will be grateful, and you will have a much better conference.

Close Non-Relevant Content This is critical if you find yourself needing to share your screen to deliver your message. Even if you are only sharing a Powerpoint presentation, make sure that Powerpoint presentation is the only thing you have up on your desktop. Close everything else. This is important for a few reasons—first, online security. If the text document with all your passwords is open (you know you have one) and you happen to breeze by it while switching windows or getting set, assume everyone now knows “password12345” is your Twitter password. Second, it stops you from fumbling around, looking for the right tab or application. Everything is ready to go. Finally, it makes you look prepared and professional. This is what you want, right? Prepared and professional.

Pay Attention to Your Background This is something that people don’t often think about. If you are ok with your co-workers seeing the fur-lined handcuffs that you have attached to your headboard, then, by all means, conduct your video conference in your bedroom. However, if you prefer to maintain some privacy, find a neutral location in your home with a simple background before you flip on the video switch. On this note, green screen backgrounds or virtual backgrounds are becoming more popular and are viable options for maintaining your privacy and hiding a messy living room. However, here too, choose a simple background that is not distracting and is professional.

Conclusion Attending meetings via Zoom or Webex is a permanent part of our personal and professional life. Spending a little extra time to make sure you are ready to be present and put your best foot forward will set you apart from the herd. Pay attention to your surroundings, dress appropriately, be on time, and be courteous to the other people in attendance - none of this is hard. Further, doing these things shows that you care about your image, want to excel in your career, and be a professional.

5 Steps to Make your Resume Excellent

Your resume is a promotional document that needs to be custom-tailored to do one thing: sell you and your skills to a prospective employer. If your resume is not doing that, if it does not make you shine, you need to revamp your tired and worn out resume, update it, and bring it new life. While working on your resume, never forget that you are creating marketing material focused on selling you. If you read it and aren’t impressed with what you read, chances are someone else won’t be either. What you do may be dry and dull, your resume doesn’t have to be.

Make your resume bring your work to life. Your resume should be powerful enough to make the reader want to do your job. It should sound rewarding, enjoyable, and exciting. If it doesn’t seem like you enjoy your work, you fail to set the right tone in your resume. Seriously, even something like accounting can sound fun and rewarding if written correctly.

1 - Use Proper Keywords Almost every company, even small ones, uses automated resume screening to filter responses to job postings. This makes using proper keywords critical to getting actual eyes on your resume. So, how is this done? One reliable method to determine top keywords is to gather the text from 5 relevant job descriptions and create a word cloud. This will give you the most suitable words from the job descriptions you selected.

Once you have determined from the job descriptions which keywords are relevant, integrate them into your resume’s text. Find places those words make sense to add, don’t just put them in a list. Use them in your relevant skills and descriptions of previous work. If you can’t do this, chances are pretty good this is not a job you should be applying for. Consider this carefully.

2 - Proofread Your Resume This should seem like a no-brainer, right? I cannot tell you how many resumes I’ve read have typos, errors, and formatting issues. These errors show prospective employers that you ignore detail and are most likely, not the right person for the job. Honestly, if you have typos or other errors in your resume, you will most likely not get any sort of interview.

So, to combat this, proofread carefully. Have someone else correct it. Then do it all again. Like any good writing, write, edit, and then re-write. This should not be a rushed process. Your resume should feel like a well-crafted document, professional, and perfect in all respects.

3 - Keep Your Resume To One to Two Pages To be fair, this is more of a rule-of-thumb than a hard-fast law of resume creation. I’ve hired people with 1-page resumes as well as people with 6-page tomes. The most critical part of this is to put every vital skill you possess on the first page. Do it in a way that makes sense and is easy to comprehend. If you do this, any subsequent pages will likely not matter anyhow. So, trimming as much fluff as possible is essential.

4 - Highlight Key Accomplishments In line with keeping things brief and to one page, make sure you focus on your key accomplishments related to the employment you are seeking. Most likely, these are your most recent accomplishments as well. While it is fantastic that you got the “Best New Employee” award as an associate in 1996, that fact is probably not going to get you the new job today. In resumes, like most other things, it’s all about what you have done lately. What recent awards, new company savings, new technology, and accomplishments do you have to show for your efforts? The past is the past; what are you bringing to the table today?

5 - Only Include Relevant Information There might be things in your work history that you are very proud of. That’s great. However, if they aren’t relevant to the job you are seeking, leave them out, or at a minimum, put them later in the resume. Include information that will lead the reader to determine that you are the best candidate for the position. Anything that doesn’t help drive this point home should be cut. Remember, this document isn’t to make you feel better about your work history and accomplishments. Its purpose is to get you a job. More specifically, it is designed to get you the job you want. Anything that detracts from this purpose hurts your chances. Leave it out.

Conclusion There is a lot of effort that needs to go into your resume. It is critically important you get it right. From keywords to correct spelling and punctuation, you need to pay attention to the details and proofread it before sending it out. You don’t get a second chance for the first read from a prospective employer. Formatting, flow, and content are all critical and should be tailored to your particular career path. Your resume will need to be different if you apply for an executive-level position at a company versus an entry-level position. Making sure your resume is tailored accordingly could be the difference between getting the job and getting shredded. Have someone else look at it and review it.

Action 7: Overcome Your Past

This is an important topic and will require a more thought, but for now, let’s focus on two general areas of focus. First, let’s look at a situation where you were fired. You didn’t get laid-off, and the company didn’t close. You either weren’t performing to the level your company required or did something egregious that caused them to let you go. Maybe you’d been on a performance improvement plan (PIP) for a while and could see it coming. Perhaps you thought you could continue to come in late every day without any consequences, right up until you couldn’t.

Either way, you have an issue to deal with.

Why? Because when you get back in the job market and start looking for new employment, companies you interview with will ask why you left your last company. You need to be ready to talk about it and provide an explanation. Here’s the truth, any good HR rep or hiring manager will be able to read through whatever story you tell them, and they will know you got fired. They will also know you are not being honest with them. Further, you will not get the job.

So, what do you do? You need to be honest and lay it out there. That’s the only option. Tell them what happened and what the outcome was. Let them know that you’ve learned from your mistakes and are looking for an opportunity to prove yourself. Be humble and open. This is the only way to deal with this situation. Lying will catch up with you. Ignoring it will allow others to fill in the blanks. Meet it head-on and deal with it.

The second issue you may need to deal with is your online persona. Have you ever done a Google search for your name? Is everything that shows up accurate? Anything that you’re not so proud of? Social media is your face online. If you have a social media presence, you need to make sure that the image you are putting forward is the one that you want prospective employers to see. I have seen numerous examples where qualified, educated, and high-quality applicants have been ruled out simply because of their online history. Many HR departments have tools that help them uncover your online life; it’s become that important. Think you’re anonymous? You’re not. This can be fixed - to some extent.

Remember, the internet never truly forgets.

You can delete posts that you’ve authored and, in some cases, comments you’ve made. It may be necessary to nuke your entire profile if your content is particularly unfavorable. This will not completely erase your online visibility, but doing so can make the harmful content harder to track down. Is it worth starting over online? Maybe. That’s for you to decide. Just realize they are looking, and it does matter. How bad do you want that new job? What are you willing to do to repair your past?

If you choose to do nothing to fix your online presence, like getting fired, be ready to deal with it. Here too, be honest and open. Don’t attempt to justify your bad online behavior. Instead, look to grow from it and be a better version of yourself. Ask for an opportunity to show them firsthand that you are not the person they see reflected in your online history. Then prove it.

Action 6: Dress and Groom Yourself for Success

I know the workplace has gotten casual—so you don’t feel there is a need to get a suit. You have no use for a great looking and well-tailored outfit to interview in. Employers have lowered their expectations. This may all be true, but it’s no excuse to look like you just rolled out of bed. Show up overdressed, looking good, and feeling better. By dressing appropriately, you will feel more confident and set the tone for approaching your work. Being clean, smelling good, and having a good haircut is not optional. Being well dressed and well-groomed is essential.

If you’ve done all the work to get a face-to-face interview (or even a Zoom video conference) and fail to make a solid first impression, all your work was for nothing. You need to do everything you can to capitalize on the effort you put into getting in the door. That includes presenting your best self and creating a personal image of success, self-respect, and responsibility. You need your prospective employer to know that you will be someone they can count on to get the job done before talking to you. You have the power to tell them all they need to know just by looking at you.

Finally, while this isn’t directly related to dress or personal grooming, being personable is essential. Maintain good eye contact, use active listening, speak clearly and slowly, shake hands, and smile. If you are staring at your lap, mumbling, and sweating through your shirt, you will not make an excellent first impression.

If you’ve made it to a personal interview, the job is yours to lose. Do everything you can to leverage your best personal attributes and look your best. It’ll all pay off.

Action 5: Keep an Open Mind

Today’s job market is tight, with lots of applicants, fewer openings, and no real end in sight. Given this, you must keep an open mind when job hunting. Your perfect job might not be available, but you still need to work. You need to realize that you have a broad and diverse set of skills that, if positioned correctly, could suit a wide variety of positions.

Here’s an example:

  • You’ve spent the last 10 years in middle management in an IT department.
  • You’ve been responsible for multiple company-wide initiatives and product deliverables.
  • You have personally managed numerous individual contributors.

You know that middle management has been decimated with cuts in your industry, and companies are restructuring to run leaner. Finding an IT management position may be difficult or might not be what you want to go back to. Restructure your job search to leverage your skillset in a different job title. You could transition to project management or quality assurance, or even a business analyst. Any of these would suit your skills and get you back in the game.

The important take away from this is to open your eyes to the world around you and adapt. You have skills, you have education, you have a great work history. These things do not trap you into one role. They allow freedom to make your own path and take a side road to the career you want.

Action 3: Have a High-Quality Resume

Look, there are lots of reasons that you may not be getting interviews or call-backs. It may be a combination of everything on this list, but it may also be that your resume just plain-old sucks. Within every resume, there are a few things that can go dramatically wrong. Here are a few common resume problems you may have and some simple solutions to help you sort things out.

The Outdated Resume If you haven’t looked at your resume since Bush was in office, chances are it’s out of date. And, you know what? Everyone can tell. Submitting outdated resumes shows prospective employers two things about you and your application. First, it shows them you’re too lazy to take the time to properly update your resume. Being deemed lazy is not an excellent start to the job search. Second, an outdated resume also tells employers that you are not too serious about finding a new job. If you can’t even take the time to update a resume before sending it out for a new position, how badly can you want it?

Update your resume. Make it current and use new language and relevant tools. No one cares that you are an expert at FoxPro or Windows XP. Seriously. No one. Don’t do that. Remove the old and outdated crap and add the new shiny stuff you’ve been working on for the past 5 years. This new stuff is the content people reading your resume will most likely be interested in. They are really not excited that, in 1998, you worked with Excel 98. It’s a non-factor. Make sure the relevant and current information is front and center.

A current, updated resume is a must-have.

The Poorly Formatted Resume Like the outdated resume, the poorly formatted resume is problematic and will stop you from getting the calls and opportunities you deserve. Why? Because the reader, either an HR rep or the hiring manager, never finds the content that makes them know you are suitable for the job. All of your greatness gets lost in ill-suited tables, missing headings, and long blocks of text.

An important fact to realize is that, in most cases, when resumes are initially being read, they are not read for detail. They are quickly skimmed, essential or highly-sought-after skills are highlighted, and the resumes are divided into two groups. This first group is where the poorly formatted resume ends up; this is the ‘not moving forward’ group. Typically these resumes are filed in the garbage can. This is not the group you want to be in. The second group is the ‘maybe’ group that includes resumes that possibly have what they are looking for. This latter group is where you want your resume to end up. If your resume ends up in this group, you are getting another more detailed read through. You get another opportunity to be remarkable.

How do you fix this?

Start by keeping it simple. With a few exceptions (marketing, graphic design, artistic positions), the reader will not care if you have lots of colors, graphics, or fancy formatting. You’ll get attention, but it may not be the attention you want. Use typical resume headings: personal summary, education, employment history, skills, awards, and - if there is room - volunteer experience. Keeping it clean and straightforward will fix 98% of the poorly formatted resume problems.

Don’t allow your resume to end up in the trash can. Use neat, concise, and simple formatting to get you the attention you need to get ahead.

The Error Prone Resume I’m going to keep this section pretty short because it is so simple and obvious. If you have errors in your resume, you are not going to get a second look. The implication here is that if you cannot spell correctly or have accurate dates in your resume, what are the chances that you will bring a high level of accuracy and detail to your work? Slim. Who wants to hire someone unable to craft an error-free resume? No one.

The good news is that fixing this is simple. Pay attention and correct your errors. Make sure you have zero spelling errors, grammatical issues, or date inconsistencies in your resume. This is not optional, and there are no excuses for continued problems in this category. It’s just that simple. Fix the issues, move on. If you cannot do this yourself, hire someone to help you sort it out. You won’t get hired, ever, if you don’t fix this stuff.

If you are unemployed, you cannot afford to have any type of error in your resume. Don’t be an example of what not to do.

The Highlighting the Wrong Stuff Resume OK, I get it; you’re proud of the 10 years you spent as a cub scout den leader. And yes, I know it shows that you have leadership and can corral a group of 10 boys. However, unless you are applying for a job as an elementary school teacher, it’s probably not relevant to your job application. It should not be front and center. Don’t take this the wrong way. There is a place for volunteer experience; it’s just not at the start of your resume.

Here is the critical thing to understand, most companies use advanced computerized resume screening to initially find appropriate applications. These software applications make judgments about your suitability for the job by looking for keywords within your resume. These keywords need to match the job description. If you don’t include the proper keywords or have them lower in your resume, you will not get ranked as high as others. Your application may end up in the electronic trash bin. You might have far better skills and may have the best resume in the stack, but you will never get a second look if you do not highlight the right skills and accomplishments.

Don’t let this happen. Highlight the right things in your resume and use keywords that get attention.

The Holy Crap it’s 8 Pages Long Resume After page two, no one is paying attention. I totally understand that the job you had in 1978 is still relevant and essential to your current job search. I also understand that to get to that job from 1978, you need to get through the 1980s, 90s, 2000s, and the 2010s. However, no one cares. This is the truth. What you did 20 years ago is not relevant to what you will be doing today in most cases. Focus on your current skillset and most recent employment. That’s what employers want to see anyhow because, most likely, that is what you will be doing for them. This is as true for skills as it is for previous employment. Trim down that skill list to relevant, current, and applicable skills. Tailor your resume to the job market.

Bottom-line, more is not better. More is just more. In many cases, it’ll never get read and, in the cases where it is read, it could be used to eliminate you as a candidate. Give yourself two solid pages to work with and make every single word count. Make your resume so content-heavy in so little space that employers are dying to talk to you just to see if you are real. Don’t bury all of your useful, applicable, and relevant skills in useless fluff that just fills pages.

Important Note: A resume and a Curriculum Vitae (CV) are two different things, and they need different approaches. Length is not an issue for a CV like it is for a resume. If you are applying for an academic position, different rules apply.

Final Word on Resumes Your resume is the first view of you that a prospective employer gets. If it’s not done correctly, it might be the only view they ever get. Take the time to craft a solid resume. If this is not in your wheelhouse, or if you just don’t know if your resume is working for you, hire someone to help.

Action 2: Improve Your Skills

If you are currently unemployed or even underemployed, there is one thing you have plenty of: time. Use it to your advantage. There are literally dozens of educational websites offering free or very inexpensive career-focused training that can help you get your next job. Further, by improving your skills while looking for work, you might get an even better job.

Learning new, or improving existing skills, will show prospective employers a few essential facts about you that I guarantee they will like. First, this shows you are driven to excel. Employers want their employees to have the drive to be the best at what they do. Second, continuing education shows that you have the aptitude for learning new things. This may allow an employer to see you in a more advanced position than technically qualified. Third, taking the initiative to continue building relevant skills while unemployed shows employers that you are self-motivated. Having self-directed and self-motivated employees means an employer can pay less attention to you and more attention to other critical factors. Finally, working on improving your skills or learning new ones while unemployed is an indicator that you want to work and succeed. What employer doesn’t want that?

Never stop getting better at what you do. Even when you are unemployed. I have a whole additional post coming on free and low-cost employment training that you can take advantage of whether you are employed or not. Keep an eye out for that one.

Action 1: Don't Burn Bridges

I don’t care why you got laid-off or fired from your last job. You shouldn’t care either. No one cares about your “feelings” as to why your previous company let you go. Once it’s done, it’s done. All you can do is move forward. The why or the how or the anger you harbor about your previous employer is really irrelevant to finding new employment. In fact, all of these things can actually stop you from finding a new job.

You need the company that laid you off to support you in finding a new job. You need them to be your ally and champion. With a reliable reference from a previous employer, getting your next gig becomes much more manageable. If you bad mouth your previous company publicly (regardless of if it is warranted or not), two things are going to happen. First, your former company will find out about your unkind words and refuse to provide a reference for you. Second, the prospective company you want to work for will find out and not want to take a chance that you’ll do the same to them. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you’ll need help getting across the river.

6 Actions to Get You Employed

Between COVID-19, riots and social unrest, and an uncertain political future in the United States, unemployment is becoming more the norm than the exception. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the end of July 2020, the United States had more than 10% unemployment, accounting for 16.3 million people. Even more, people are often underemployed or working jobs just to get by. People are out of work, struggling to find employment, and the job market is not looking bright.

If you are one of those statistics, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. You can set yourself apart from the masses, get the attention of employers you deserve, and land the job you want. There are jobs out there that employers are filling. Interviews are happening. People are getting hired. Yes, there is more competition, but there is also an opportunity for you to shine.

Keep in mind, in a recent blog post on avoiding career complacency (https://jonsrennie.com/2020/08/05/career-complacency/), author and leadership expert Jon S. Rennie (Twitter: @jonsrennie) states, “You need to understand that your company doesn’t care about you or your career.” Think about it, if this sentiment is accurate for a company that currently employs you, I guarantee that it’s also true for a company that hasn’t even hired you yet. To get your foot in the door and keep a job today, you’re going to have to do more.

It takes effort.

You cannot expect to get the results you want if you are unwilling to put in the effort to achieve those results. Nothing is free. This is as true in job hunting as it is in health and fitness. The bodybuilder didn’t get that fantastic physique by sitting on the couch. He got it through hard work, dedication, and personal drive. Likewise, getting the job you want will require all of that and more. You will need to stay positive when things seem bleak, motivated when you want to quit and learn to accept feedback and criticism.

Today’s job hunters cannot afford to be weak or complacent.

If you have been out of work for some time, or even just since the pandemic hit, and the job search is not going well, maybe it’s time to accept that you need to make a change. If you aren’t getting interviews or getting interviews but not getting offers, you may need to consider that it’s you, not them. Now is the time to objectively look at the prospective employee package you have created and assess if it needs updating. You most likely need to evaluate the product you are trying to sell (yourself) and determine if it’s something employers would want to buy in its current state. You need to understand that hiring a new employee is very expensive. In today’s constricted, frugal, and conservative job market, you need to provide a perceived long-term value that overcomes that expense.

Bottom-line, you need to show that you are worth it.

Over the next week, I will layout six high-quality actions you can take right away to get the job you want as quickly as possible.

Communicate Negative News

This seems counter-intuitive, right? Tell your supervisor that you screwed up? Yes, tell everyone that you screwed up. Tell them each time it happens, be honest, and be open about the mistake you made. Don’t try to hide it or blame it on someone else. Attack it head-on and take ownership. Even with bad news, being honest will serve you as a net positive in the long run. For starters, you are working on building trust; this does that. Taking ownership of failures shows management that you understand the mistake. Also, it reinforces that you communicate the good and the bad.

In the end, your mistake would have been found anyhow. Someone would have figured out what went wrong and who was responsible. Heading it off by open communication allows you to navigate the problem from the offensive side. Any other route puts you on the defensive, makes you look like you were covering something up, and breaks down trust.

Openly communicate negative news to build your career.

Be a Problem Solver

Don’t be the guy that comes to every meeting with a dozen problems to solve and no solutions. No one likes that guy, and while it may seem like raising issues is a net positive, really, it just causes problems for your boss. If your boss ignores the issues and does nothing, he positioning himself for a possible future failure. Conversely, suppose he tries to get them all resolved. In that case, his management might ask why there are a significant number of issues to solve. It’s a no-win situation.

How do you fix this?

Make things easy on your boss. Bring solutions to the problems you find. Then, and this is the most important part, go and actually solve the problems. This is what makes this so powerful; you are not just bringing problems. You are finding solutions. Perhaps most importantly, you are tackling issues that solve problems for your boss. This is a win for you and a win for your boss. These solutions make everything better. You solve problems, your boss looks excellent, and you get recognition as being awesome.

Bring solutions to build your career.

Find Ways to Excel: Never Stop Learning

No matter what your career path looks like, it is critically important that you are continually learning and finding ways to be better at your job. I happen to work in IT, where finding training and education is relatively straightforward. Even the most obscure IT specialties have opportunities to learn more and new skills. Not every career is this simple, but everyone has opportunities to learn more and excel. This might be as simple as reading a book on leadership or finding a course that applies to your career. Go back to school and get an additional degree or certificate. Join a professional group associated with your job. Professional conferences are excellent opportunities to learn something new and improve your expertise.

The idea here is that you never stop learning. If you are consistently learning new skills, expanding, and improving yourself, you will become immeasurably more valuable as an employee. In the end, this is what you want. You want your employer to see that you will continue to improve and continue to provide value to them if they stick with you. The time you spend improving yourself will be paid back with promotions, better pay, and more respect. But, like everything else, the onus is on you to make this happen. Do not expect your employer to find training or education for you; it will not happen. Go out and get after it. Learn something new today, and then communicate what you have learned.

Never stop learning new things to build your career.

Manage your Manager

Your boss is busy. Too busy to have to worry about following up with you about every deliverable you are working on. Remember, your boss has 6 or 7 other people and many critical projects that all demand his attention. Your job is to make his or her job more manageable. If you do this, you will be successful, and so will your boss.

What’s the best way to do this?

Focus on doing things that specifically make your boss’s life better. Find ways to do more with less, improve your team’s effectiveness, or fix problems. Whatever you do, make sure it’s making things better for your boss. Don’t wait for your supervisor to set up one-on-one meetings with you. Find the time, and schedule the discussions yourself. Then, when you meet, come prepared with a plan and corresponding information. Don’t waste your supervisor’s valuable time. Keep it as brief as possible and provide them the information you need them to know. Make it short, useful, and positive. When you are done, follow up with an email recapping what you covered.

Manage your manager to build your career.

Do What You Say

Trust is not freely given. Trust is earned. The quickest and best way to earn supervisor’s or managers’ trust is to simply do what you say you will do. Make no mistake; if you consistently fail to follow through on your work commitments, your career progress will suffer. Further, this doesn’t have to be failing to finish significant work projects on time or being consistently late for work. Doing what you say goes far deeper than this.

Think about this, if you let your manager know you are going to lunch and you’ll be back in 30 minutes but don’t get back for 60 minutes, what is the message you are sending? Two things: first, you do not do what you say you are going to do, and second, you don’t think your job is important enough to be on time. Neither are good messages. This is an elementary example, but it still holds true. The bottom line is if you don’t follow through on the small things (being punctual, submitting your timesheet on-time, or showing up on time), no one will have any faith in you. You will not get the priority work, the high-visibility projects that help you set yourself apart, or the critical tasks that allow you to shine. They will be given to others who do what they say they will do, those who have built trust, and their career will move forward while your career stalls.

If you are not doing what you say at work or in life, you cannot expect good things to happen. You will languish with the untrusted, be passed over for promotions, and not be given positive lateral move opportunities. You will stagnate, and it will be your fault.

Build trust to build your career.

Communicate Everything

You cannot over-communicate when it comes to your job. Your boss cannot be excited and thankful for things that you don’t share. Without proper communication, even if you are doing all the right things, no one will ever know. Even worse, your great work might be attributed to someone else. Don’t think for a second that your coworker will correct a misunderstanding about who completed what. Have no doubt, they will take credit for your hard work faster than you can say, “It was ME!”

If you are not communicating your successes, you miss an excellent opportunity to set yourself apart from your coworkers. I share most everything I do with my team, including my manager, and they do the same. This not only allows everyone to know what I have been working on, but it also provides an excellent trail of information for annual reviews. Writing my self-evaluation becomes more effortless, and I have proof to back up my claims. When I complete a task that saves time or effort or makes processes more straightforward, I call out those time savings to the team. When you do this, keep in mind to do it in a manner that is informational, not braggadocious.

Because of the current COVID-19 situation, many are working remotely. In fact, many jobs that weren’t considered remote work just 6 months ago are now working off-site. This means many people who are not accustomed to working from home have been forced into a different work paradigm. This makes communication even more critical.

Speak up, or you’ll never be heard.

Communicate everything you do to build your career.