How #Smart #People Handle #Difficult People

Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organisation needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralise difficult people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep difficult people at bay.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best.

To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t.

‘The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realise.’

They Set Limits

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers.

‘A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.’

They Rise Above

Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. So why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps.

‘Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.’

They Stay Aware Of Their Emotions

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognise when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

‘Think of it this way—if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod.’

If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

They Establish Boundaries

This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to rise above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

They Don’t Die In The Fight

Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They Don’t Focus On Problems—Only Solutions

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.

They Don’t Forget

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Smart people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They Squash Negative Self-talk

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of.

‘You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.’

They Get Some Sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

They Use Their Support System

‘It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself.’

To deal with toxic people, you need to recognise the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing It All Together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

I Don’t Like My Job. Does Quitting Mean I’m Not Mentally Strong Enough to Hack It?

Staying in a toxic environment won’t automatically make you strong.

Every week, at least one person asks me what quitting their job says about their mental strength. Many people worry that quitting a job they don’t like serves as tangible evidence they lack mental muscle.

While one person will say, “I feel like I should be mentally strong enough to deal with my job instead of quitting,” others insist, “I just don’t have the mental strength to last another day.”

But every once in a while, I hear from someone who perceives quitting as a sign of strength.

Just the other day, I received an email that read, “I finally found the mental strength to quit my job. I’d been miserable for years but I didn’t have the courage to leave.”

So which is it? Does quitting a job you don’t like mean you’re mentally strong? Or, is real strength found in the ability to thrive in a tough work environment? Well, it depends on your attitude.

The Environment Plays a Role in Your Mental Strength

If you wanted to be physically strong, working in a gym would likely inspire you to build muscle. Being surrounded by people lifting weights all day, may motivate you to get fitter. And if the gym offered access to personal trainers and opportunities to use the equipment whenever you wanted, you’d probably find it easy to build muscle.

If, however, you worked 14 hour days in an office setting, it would be tougher to get buff. It’d be especially tough if the workplace cafeteria only served junk food and the boss expected you to do hours of work from home each night. The workaholic mentality would lead to fewer opportunities to lift weights and you’d probably find it much harder to get physically strong in that environment, compared to a job working in a gym.

Well, mental strength is much like physical strength. The environment plays a huge role in your ability to build mental muscle.

Working in an unhealthy environment will drain your mental strength. Studies show working for a toxic boss increases the likelihood that you’ll grow clinically depressed. And if you’re surrounded by rude co-workers, research shows their behavior will wreak havoc on your productivity.

So it’s important to consider, does the job you have now support your efforts to build mental strength? Or, does the workplace–and the people in it–make it much more difficult to be your best?

Remind Yourself Quitting Is a Choice

If you quit your job with the mentality that you couldn’t hack it, you’ll struggle to reach your greatest potential. You might take a new job that’s beneath your skills either because you think it’s all you deserve or because you hope to find some success to boost your confidence.

If you really feel you can’t stand your job, prove to yourself that you could stand if you wanted to. Work one day longer than you think can, and you’ll see that you’re able to tolerate feeling uncomfortable more than you give yourself credit for.

Just make sure you aren’t working to prove something to someone else. Thinking, “I’ll show my boss I was cut out for this,” is about acting tough, not being strong. When you walk away knowing, “I could do hack this job if I wanted, but I don’t want to,” you’ll reassure yourself you’re still strong.

There’s a lot of power in saying, “I’m quitting my job because it doesn’t suit my needs,” as opposed to thinking, “I can’t stand to be here for one more second.” Acknowledge your choices and step away in a manner that will empower you to become better.

Quit to Better Your Life

If you are committed to building the best life you can, quitting may open the door to a better opportunity. Whether you seek more flexibility in your schedule or you want a more positive work environment, stepping into a healthier situation could promote your growth.

A new position may also be more in line with your values. A job that pays less money but allows for more time with your family, for example, may give you a better sense of meaning and purpose. And a sense of purpose is key to being mentally strong.

Turn Quitting Into an Opportunity to Build Mental Strength

Staying in a job you hate may say more about your mental strength than quitting does. Is your self-worth dependent on how much money you make? Are you afraid of change? Have you convinced yourself you can’t possibly be successful doing something else?

Of course, some people have practical reasons for sticking it out. Feeding a family or paying off a huge burden of debt may be the payoff. And sometimes, working a job you don’t like for a short duration makes sense.

Quitting every job because you think the grass is greener on the other side also won’t make you mentally strong. There’s no such thing as a perfect job and working hard to overcome workplace challenges could help you build muscle.

But, don’t be fool yourself into thinking that quitting a job you hate means you’re weak. Although many internet memes will tell you that you should never quit, mentally strong people know when to walk away. They recognize when a situation isn’t productive and they’re willing to move on.

10 #golden #rules to #follow for #success in your #career

There are hundreds of skills available and many alternate paths to success depending on the career you choose and the approach that works best for you. However, there is a common trait that defines successful professionals. Irrespective of backgrounds, domains or circumstances they cultivated a few good habits that they followed daily. This defined their personality and created their success. Simple routines repeated daily have a compounding effect over time and get you results you desire.

Limited willpower

You do not have infinite will power or unlimited mental energy. Too many decisions in a short time can reduce your decision-making ability. Consider Steve Jobs who would wear a black turtleneck and blue jeans daily, thus freeing up cognitive energy for important stuff. Make small positive choices and continue for a month to have them show up in your behaviour and become habits. Multiple successful habits contribute more to success than accomplishing any single big task.

Be coachable

Knowledge and skills are tools that earn you an income and help you achieve career goals. Hence make it a priority to constantly expand your knowledge. To do so, first become coachable. Train yourself to not react in the face of criticism and to learn from every person you meet. Develop the habit of daily reading. Get yourself a mentor. Seize every opportunity to train on new skills. Benchmark every day against your previous self and aim to be slightly better each time.

Increase your energy

Any student of physics will tell you that energy gets work done. Hence the more energy you have, the more you get done. Increase energy levels by eating right and exercising regularly. Maximise your emotional energy by investing in family, friends and a hobby or two. Meanwhile your coachability takes care of learning and mental energy levels.

Acquire this insurance policy

Attitude is the insurance policy that gets you promoted and retained. Know that if you are a star sales person you can afford to throw a few tantrums, treat others poorly and get away with it for some time till the company has a critical need for you. You will be cast aside when the tide turns and someone else with a fantastic attitude will continue to rise.

Find purpose in a marshmallow

Seeking happiness or joy is overrated. The Stanford Marshmallow experiment proved that people who delay gratification—let go of an immediate joy or small rewards in favour of a larger reward in the future—achieve better life outcomes. It is possible to choose delayed gratification without much effort only when you have a larger purpose or meaning in your career. Create a purpose bigger than your income and it will give you the sense of urgency to progress faster.


Work on your communication with others. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert. Ask questions when you do not understand something. Thank your manager for his guidance. Sell your output and yourself to your employer. Listen without judgment when someone is trying to communicate. Stay silent when you need to absorb.

Keep your buckets separate

Your life is multi-dimensional but to succeed you need to live in the moment. Keep family and work buckets separate. Don’t carry your frustrations from one to another. Similarly, distinguish between friends and colleagues and treat them differently. Do not do personal work during office time. Take ownership of your role without confusing it with individual tasks. Buckets that leak into each other lead to poor choices and outcomes.

Work right

So you have decided to work hard. Have you thought about when and where you will work hard? Look for the right openings for constant learning and growth and put your efforts to work in the right place and time when the opportunity arises.

Reach 15 min early

Practice reaching work or a meeting 15 minutes early. Not only does the extra time come handy in contingencies but also the magical 15 minutes before a commitment gets you in the right frame of mind, conveys a fabulous impression and multiplies the possibilities of chance encounters and openings that are not available to others.

Fulfil your first responsibility

You are your first responsibility. Hence prioritise your needs of visualising your future, choosing values and principles that align to that future and figuring out who you need to be to get there. Now define the actions you are going to take and convert them into habits. Once you take responsibility for helping yourself first, you are available for your own success and for others.

5 Things to #Keep in #Mind When #Working on Your #LinkedIn #Profile

Many professionals view LinkedIn as the best way to meet other professionals and an important part of any job search. Given that networking is so critical to professional success, it’s vital you ensure your LinkedIn presence is accurate and engaging.

However, when I review my clients’ profiles, I am often surprised by what I find.

Here are five things to keep in mind the next time you’re tweaking your LinkedIn profile:

1. LinkedIn Is Not Like Other Social Media Platforms

You need to distinguish LinkedIn from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, whereas most other platforms are more recreational. Treat LinkedIn as a way to enhance your career, rather than a way to enhance your social encounters with friends. Keep it professional. This isn’t a place to put pictures of your kids or family.

2. Your Profile Picture Should Not Be Your Most Recent Selfie

Did you know LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views and 36 times more messages than those without?

Choose your photo wisely. An unprofessional photo can damage your credibility. Again, keep photos your family (no matter how cute!) on Facebook. Use a professional headshot, if available. At the very least, find the most professional-looking photo of yourself that you have. Have a friend take a picture of you, if need be. Make sure it’s from the shoulders up so the viewer has a clear view of your face. No panoramic pics, please!

3. Don’t Leave Your Profile Unfinished

If it’s important enough to use LinkedIn, it’s important enough to do it right. You don’t want to give people the impression that you don’t finish what you start. Nothing tells a person you’re not totally committed like having an incomplete LinkedIn profile.

If someone sees your profile is incomplete, they will be hesitant to reach out to you. They’ll wonder if you’re even active on the platform! Make sure ever section is filled in. Is your headline complete? Do you have a strong career summary at the top? Do you have more than just your employers’ names and job titles in the experience section?

Talk about your accomplishments. Add numbers where possible. Sprinkle keywords throughout your profile. Fill out the accomplishments section. Add your organizations and certifications. Attach presentations, publications, webinars, videos, or anything else you’re proud of. There is so much you can do with your profile. Use it!

4. Don’t Exaggerate or Oversell Yourself

It is never a good idea to exaggerate your skills or expertise — or worse yet, lie about your experience. You will be found out eventually, and it will tarnish your reputation heavily. Always be honest. It will benefit you in the long term.

5. Be a Well-Rounded Person on Paper

Hiring managers can learn a lot about someone by looking at their outside interests and activities. So, be sure to include in your profile some information about your hobbies and passions.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site, but no one is a professional every minute of every day. Include information about your volunteer projects, what you do for fun, and anything else you deem appropriate. Demonstrating you have a life outside of work is just as important as demonstrating your professional expertise.

Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, CERW, CEMC, is a certified professional resume writer, career consultant, and the president of Professional Resume Services.

CREDIT: recruiter

Why Now is the #Time to #Innovate Your #Career


We read a lot about innovation in the current workplace. From AI to machine learning to aging workforces; right through to the disruption caused by having up to 5 generations in the current work environment. So disruption is rife, it is all around us, it isn’t going anywhere.

For this reason, it is now time to disrupt your career.

What is career innovation?

Career innovation occurs when you stop looking at your career in the traditional way and start to consider moving to a career more suited to your future self. This may include small steps, such as looking at the way you are developing the knowledge needed for your future. Or it may be a larger change (normally considered a disruption), such as looking at completely redefining your career, the way you work and the way you want to work.


When we look at what is driving disruption in the workforce, it is innovation. We cannot deny that there is a great deal of change to the way we work, are expected to work and access work. Innovation is occurring around us constantly, and the future world of work is going to require us to be constantly innovating the way we actually perform our roles. It is for this reason we also need to be looking at innovating the way we manage our careers.

Whatever the level of innovation that is right for you, without considering how you should be innovating your career, you may be at risk of being less relevant.

What are the steps to innovation?

The first step to doing this is most likely going to be the longest step. This is the stage where you need to take stock of where you are at in your career, the skills that you have developed, where these skills will take you and if this is where you want to go. There are a number of things to do here:

  1. Challenge yourself daily – Developing yourself each day is really important if you want to innovate. Set yourself a new challenge each day that can help you to develop new networks, new skills and a greater level of awareness around your abilities and capabilities.
  2. Think differently – Innovators don’t always recreate, they spend a lot of time simply reinventing. Don’t believe that your career has to go the same way as it has been, start to think differently about your career. What can you do to make your career more fulfilling? What can you try to change that might allow you to learn different skills, experience different working environments or understand different perspectives?
  3. Forget the career ladder – The changing world of work is doing a really good job eliminating the career ladder. This might mean that your expected next role becomes redundant before you even get to apply for it! For this reason, thinking differently about whether your career change is about climbing the career ladder or moving sideways could actually be a positive career move.
  4. Think broadly – Think about how you can bring in to your career all aspects of your life. We are not talking necessarily about finding your passion and turning this into a job. More specifically, it is about what are the enjoyable aspects of your life that you feel, if duplicated in your work environment, could make your career more fulfilling for you.
  5. Think experiences not just skills and job titles – Success comes differently to all of us, but just focusing on skills and job titles you will not be able to achieve a fulfilling career necessarily. Thinking broadly about the experiences that you have as you grow your career and what type of experience you can have to achieve success will greatly enhance your attitude to work, as well as your employability and levels of work satisfaction.

Innovation is not about disruption or recreation. It is about taking little steps to help you ensure that you are still managing your career, undertaking a career you enjoy, and developing the skills that will make you relevant for the future. Careers of the future will be less focused on the title that you held, and more on the broad capabilities that you bring and the interest that you have in what you are doing.

By consistently innovating your career you will not only be supporting your future but also enjoying what you do for your career.

3 #Interview #Mistakes That #Cost You #Job #Offers

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From submitting your resume to scheduling interviews and accepting a job offer, the hiring process can take weeks or months.

But it only takes employers a few seconds to rule you out during a job interview.

After working with hundreds of job seekers as a recruiter, I’ve been able to identify three common interview mistakes that are probably costing you job offers. Check them out below, along with advice on how to fix them.

Mistake No. 1: You Don’t Ask Good Questions

Employers want to hire candidates who are selective in their job searches — people who know what they want. The more desperate you seem, the less they’ll want you. Seeming like you don’t care what job you get is one of the fastest ways to lose an employer’s interest.

To present yourself as an engaged and discerning candidate, ask lots of great questions to determine if the job is truly a good fit for you. You don’t even have to wait until the end of the interview. In fact, it’s better to mix questions into the conversation whenever possible. For example, you can end a few of your interview answers with a question pointed back at the interviewer.

Let’s say the interviewer asks, “Why should we hire you for this position?”

You might reply, “I read the job description and saw it mentions a lot of data analysis and reporting. That’s my biggest strength, and I’ve helped my current employer set up our current data reporting system. Am I right in assuming this is a big need of yours? And if so, can you tell me more about the problems you’re facing?”

With an answer like this, you position yourself as an expert, show the interviewer you did your research before coming in, and turn the interview into a back-and-forth conversation. This is one of the best ways to stand out in the interview. You always want to be memorable, and you can do that by signaling to employers that you’re more confident, more skilled, and a better candidate than the people competing against you.

Mistake No. 2: You Research the Company/Job Just Enough to Get By

You can’t change your skill set overnight, and you’re not going to be the perfect fit for every job you interview for. That’s okay.

However, you do have complete control over how much you prepare for an interview. This is 100 percent effort — no talent required.

Ask yourself: “Am I going in with the goal of knowing just enough about the company to get by without making  any big mistakes in the interview, or am I researching with the goal of knowing more about the company than anyone else in the running?”

Your answer to this question is going to determine the quality of job you get — and how soon you get it.

Interviewers can tell when you’ve done your research, and it makes them want to hire you — even if you’re not a perfect fit on paper. I’ve seen hiring managers create new positions for candidates because of how much they liked their personalities and soft skills! You never know what will happen if you put as much effort into preparing as possible.

I’d recommend going in ready to ask a question related to a recent news story about the company. Search the company’s name on Google News to surface some solid sources. You should also know who the company’s top 2-3 competitors are, what the company sells/how it makes money, when and why the company was founded, and anything else you can find on its website.

Mistake No. 3: You Try to Decide Whether You Want the Job Midway Through the Interview

If you want to get hired, you should have one goal in any interview: Sell yourself and get invited to continue in the process. The problem is most job seekers start trying to decide if they’re interested in the position while still in the interview.

Now, the interview is a two-way conversation. It is an opportunity to ask questions and gather information for yourself so you can decide whether the role is right for you. However, you should wait until you’re back in the comfort of your home to start trying to make that decision.

Often, when a job seeker hears something they don’t like in an interview — such as a longer-than-expected workday — they’ll stop trying to impress the employer right then and there. However, the job seeker might hear something else that excites them later in the interview — but by then it is too late. The hiring manager has already detected the lack of enthusiasm, and they’re made the choice to pass on you.

Use the interview to gather facts and ask questions, but take it all home and decide whether you’re interested later. The bottom line is it’s much better to get invited to continue interviewing for a job you’re not interested in than to lose out on a job you want because you were distracted in the interview.

If you follow these three tips, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition and start receiving more job offers from top employers.

What you #need to know about #background #checks for your next #job

Let’s get right to the facts about this one.

You should expect an employment background check on the path to your next job. Conservative estimates show nearly three quarters of all employers perform some sort of background check on every new hire. While mandated by law in some cases, clearing a background check is a necessary condition for the great majority of new hires. The number one concern for employers is workplace safety.

For precisely that reason, employment background checks include multiple dimensions and draw from several sources of information. Employers use background checks to determine the risk a candidate represents regarding occupational safety, criminal behavior (e.g., theft, violence, bribery), and creating hostile working conditions.

The specifics of what an employment background check includes differ according to the role, organization, or industry. Almost one half of candidates say they are unsure of what employers are investigating during an employment background check. Between 30 and 50 percent include reviewing a candidate’s credit history.

Though estimates vary, at least nine percent (.pdf) of all employment background checks reveal derogatory information about a candidate. Our research shows that one-third of all jobseekers are concerned that information in their background will interfere with getting hired.

Yet for many good candidates, an instance of background blight on its own is not enough to disqualify. But it does involve an additional set of conversations between the candidate and employer to determine whether past mistakes are relevant to the current job and future performance.

Some basics of employment background checks

Employment background checks are often conducted by third-party vendors. Therefore, jobseekers should become aware of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which governs such transactions.

As mentioned earlier, background checks investigate several areas of a candidate’s history. Because workplace safety is paramount, nearly every candidate is investigated for criminal history. For most candidates, a background check will also include confirming identity, employment history, education, and professional credentials.

For some roles, ongoing illegal drug use is a focus, and may require a pre-employment drug test. Other roles will look at DMV records and driving history. Less common are medical history and Workers’ Compensation claims.

Some candidates can expect more rigorous background checks. Positions of high trust will necessitate additional scrutiny, especially handling valuable assets or offsite work on another’s property. The same applies to positions that involve driving, operating tools or machinery, or handling hazardous materials.

Senior managers, especially those with fiduciary responsibilities, can expect scrutiny of their financial history, as can anyone in a position to bribe or be bribed. And candidates being hired for roles that expose them to confidential or secure information, including trade secrets and intellectual property assets, will also be investigated thoroughly.

The three things to sweat

  1. What you say about yourself not matching what the employer finds in your background check report

One rule of thumb for clearing a background check is whether “candidates are who they say they are.” Employers can make a case for hiring a candidate who has been upfront about a prior lapse of judgment. But employers cannot do so with candidates found having a current lapse of judgment in representing themselves truthfully. The most common areas that candidates falsify are education, professional credentials, and employment history. When discovered, it is an immediate deal breaker, even if you’re the CEO.

If in doubt, contact the applicable keeper of records. It is very easy for employers to do, and likewise for job candidates wanting to verify their past accomplishments.

  1. False, inaccurate, or misleading information appearing in your background check

As much as you’ve been truthful about yourself, you can’t necessarily expect the system to vouch for you. Background checks can and do contain wrong information, which can cost jobseekers dearly.

Data brokering is a sketchy and unregulated business, operating in a legal grey area and increasingly outside of U.S. jurisdiction. Even post-GDPR, custodians of your background data have neither the resources nor the incentives to maintain its integrity. That includes reporting bureaus with whom employers contract for background checks, and especially the sources from which they scrape your background data.

It is a good idea for all jobseekers to do as much detective work on themselves as possible. Start by ordering a free credit report. Always request a copy of an employer background check report if your state allows it. Do what you can to obtain DMV and court records, along with any prior background check reports. Consider using a paid service if any doubts linger.

  1. Derogatory background information bringing about the end of the conversation

If your background contains a criminal conviction, it does not necessarily mean an automatic disqualification.

Most employers treat discovery of derogatory background information on a case-by-case basis. As a rule, it is handled very conscientiously and discreetly, and only among need-to-know persons, typically the recruiter or an HR representative and the legal department. Together they review the facts and determine how best to proceed to ensure fairness and regulatory compliance, yet maintain workplace safety.

When should a candidate with derogatory background information discuss it with an employer? 

Experts advise one of two courses. If it relates to something fundamental about performing the job (e.g., a candidate for a driving job having a DUI conviction), then it needs to be discussed early in the process. That allows both the candidate and the recruiter to determine whether there is a workaround. If on the other hand, it is not directly relevant to performing the job, then it should be brought up later, at the point when it is clear to the candidate that a job offer is probable.

In either case, the candidate needs to demonstrate that as an exit of the criminal justice system, the past has been resolved, present obligations are being satisfied, and the future represents no greater risk to the employer than any other candidate. It also provides the candidate with a unique opportunity to apply the tried and true CAR technique to demonstrate his or her value, in an extraordinarily vivid and impressive way.

The bottom line

Background checks are often complicated. Employers must follow numerous regulations and procedures, which are subject to frequent change. Therefore, employers are typically advised against having a blanket background check policy.

For jobseekers, it is worthwhile to find out what employers see. Anything you can do to make things easier for the employer is mutually beneficial. Show that you are low risk, and use your experiences to demonstrate your value just like any other top candidate. And always be truthful, no matter what’s in your background.

#Learn to be #resilient after you have been #fired

A layoff can be temporarily destabilizing, but let it not derail your career!

Being laid off is one of the most difficult experiences that you can face in your career. As an executive coach, I’ve seen firsthand the shock, grief, and anxiety that generally accompanies this type of job loss. Layoffs can trigger a sense of powerlessness and self-doubt in the form of a scary lack of control and the voice of a relentless inner critic—particularly when others in the organization remain employed.

How you think about what happened plays a major role in how successfully you’ll transition to the next phase of your career and life. While a layoff can be destabilizing, it need not derail your career if you learn which parts of the process you can control—specifically, the mental habits that you cultivate in relation to the event.

When I coach executives who have recently experienced a layoff, I’ve seen how some people pick themselves up, move forward, and eventually thrive, while others get stuck in a cycle of anger and self-recrimination. These destructive thought patterns keep them mired in negativity, unable to regain their footing and determine where they want to go next. Follow three steps to silence your inner critic, build your resilience, and remain in a productive frame of mind after a layoff.

Keep a positive attitude: To bounce back after a setback, challenge unhelpful mental loops that reinforce problems rather than illuminate potential solutions. To see how your way of thinking can affect your recovery from a layoff, consider the radically different experiences of two 50-year-old biotech executives who I coached — let’s call them Owen and Bob.

Owen took the news of his layoff hard. While the layoff had been the result of a merger and not based on his performance, Owen blamed himself, wondering, “Why didn’t I see the writing on the wall?” He convinced himself that his credentials and age must be to blame. Instead of taking the time to think through what he might do next, Owen spent most of his time chastising himself and scanning random job postings, growing frustrated. When he came to see me a few months after the layoff had occurred, he could barely get out of bed in the morning. He didn’t challenge the inner critic that berated him for losing his job while some of his colleagues had kept theirs, and as a result, spiralled into a depression.

Bob also experienced a layoff but took a completely different approach. After the initial shock of the news sunk in, he set his sights on new possibilities. He updated his resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect the fact that he was looking for work and then began to strategically reach out to his network. While doubts occasionally crept in and he was nervous about being temporarily unemployed, he continuously reminded himself: “I have marketable skills, and this change is an opportunity to investigate career options that I might otherwise never have had the chance to explore.” In a matter of weeks, Bob had identified several potential new job options, and more than 30 people in his network agreed to play a role in facilitating his search.

The key difference between Owen’s and Bob’s approaches wasn’t that one felt better about the layoff than the other—both were equally disappointed initially about losing their job. But unlike Owen, Bob focused on what he could control about the situation.

Question your thoughts: After a layoff, it’s normal to find yourself in the grip of anger and self-doubt, and these feelings can linger. Yet while it’s important to acknowledge what happened and the feelings that go along with it, it then becomes critical to pay attention to what you are telling yourself and determine whether your thinking style is helping or hindering your goals. By questioning your inner critic, you can stop the negative cycle of self-blame that’s holding you back from taking positive steps forward.

Below are some examples of common negative thoughts you might have after a layoff, paired with questions that you can ask yourself to help you regain perspective:

Thought: “I could have done more to prevent my being laid off.”

Question: “What proof do I have that I could have prevented this layoff?”

Thought: “I was unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Question: “What business conditions may have led to my job being considered redundant?”

Shift your focus from weaknesses to strengths: When you’ve lost your job, a common tendency is to try to figure out what you did wrong, examining your possible shortcomings or any perceived failure from every angle. As you home in on what you feel are your trouble spots, you’ll likely also forget or minimize your strengths.

To flip this discouraging focus to a more positive one, widen your perspective to include your full career. The goal of this exercise is to recognize that you’ve already experienced your share of professional setbacks (as well as personal ones, no doubt), yet you’ve continued past each past problem to achieve your present position. So think back to a previous time when you suffered another difficult situation that you ultimately overcame. With this memory in mind, ask yourself the following questions:

 What strengths did you use to resolve the problem?

■ What did you learn about yourself in the process?

■ How can you use these strengths in your current career transition?

With the right mindset paired with active questioning and follow through, being laid off offers the potential for you to thrive rather than nosedive. The ability to set your own future course, choose how you view a situation, and build self-awareness of your strengths are just a few of the unexpected benefits that await you once you’ve worked through the knot hole of your anger and disappointment. As a former client once told me after starting a new job: “I wish I knew when I was out of work that I would be happier one year later than I ever thought possible.”

This article was first published on HBR Ascend is a digital learning platform for graduating students and millennials.

7 #right #reasons to #leave your #job and when not to #quit

Your current job doesn’t excite you? A 2014 Gallup poll said over 68% employees were actively disengaged or not engaged at their workplace.

You wonder, if there are so many dissatisfied people out there, is unhappiness a sufficient reason for quitting a job? Also, won’t quitting count as a personal failure?

Seth Godin in his book, The Dip, says winners push through tough times and get extraordinary results by not quitting early in the right job. At other times they take an exit as a long-term strategy to free themselves up to reach that right place. Read on for the right reasons to quit your job.

1. Health

It is a good idea to change jobs when the cost is too high like a serious impact on your physical or mental health, which further affects your relationships and family life. It could be as direct as your asthma getting worse because you are working in a chemical plant or in a polluted city. At other times, it is your commute and desk job that leads to weight gain, lack of sleep and daily nausea. Know that work stress is affecting your mental health when you experience extreme anxiousness or depression or inexplicable headaches and ailments on workdays.

2. Morning fear

You hate getting up in the mornings and dread the idea of going to work. Take time out and identify what the triggers are. Is it one manager or a bunch of people you meet daily? Is it your work content that is boring or monotonous? Is it a specific set of activities you dislike? This exercise helps you label what is troubling you. Labelling combats depression and points you towards a few solutions that could include changing your team, taking a lateral role shift, reworking your job content or even quitting your job.

3. No contribution

You are not making a difference at your job or achieving anything of significance. You feel disengaged, your output has dropped, and you find yourself procrastinating or scrolling Instagram most of the time. Maybe your skills are under-appreciated, or you are simply in the wrong role or your interests and goals do not line up with your current job. Pause and think about what is happening before your lack of energy destroys your potential and damages your personal life. Ask yourself —is your job providing you with the money, identity and purpose you seek? If not, where do your real interests or long-term goals lie?

4. No ladder

You don’t see yourself growing in your present employment. This is a great trigger for introspection and can lead to multiple good outcomes apart from quitting. What is the reason for your lack of growth? Are you at the final step in your company’s promotion ladder or is the next step blocked? Is your job content unchanged even after a promotion or is there no avenue for new learning? Each of these can possibly be solved within your current role by brainstorming and discussing options with a mentor or professional friends. Know that most employers will happily engage in a conversation when you want to learn or work towards greater responsibilities.

5. Not right

You feel like an outsider in your firm. Check for your level of discomfort —maybe you just don’t seem to fit in with that kind of people or the work culture is negative or the firm itself is toxic. In the latter case, if there is physical or sexual harassment prevalent, leave quickly. Likewise, if there is something illegal or unethical happening that could destroy you or your career. If the culture is negative, hyper competitive or discouraging, or you can’t fit in, look for a better option.

6. Upheavals

Examine your need to quit when there is a major change in your personal life and you need to move cities or change your life goals or re-prioritise time or don’t need the current kind of employment. Also look for big changes in the workplace like a restructuring of your firm, everyone else seems to be leaving or your role is going to get eliminated. To survive and succeed, act proactively. You could experience positive triggers like many head-hunters calling you up because there is an increased demand for your skills in the market.

7. You have a plan

You have a plan and need to move on after having achieved a significant milestone in that plan. Say you were planning on becoming an entrepreneur and were building connections and your product in your spare time. To start your business, you were also saving money through your present job. Now all those key milestones are achieved and it’s time to stop worrying and to move on to your next big adventure!


1. In a huff

So you hate your boss. Or you really got angry today. Never quit your job in a huff. Don’t take actions that will burn bridges with your current employer or the people you work with. Know they are your references for future jobs and these people will appreciate, respect and remember mature and professional exits.

2. From a sinking ship

So your company is sinking or is headed for a shutdown. This is not the right time to resign. Quit only when you have a plan/new job. Until then dig deep and help your team and employer while you still have a job. Here you build outstanding relationships, learnings and stories for future job interviews.

3. After failing

Your project bombed. For future employers, a resignation in the face of failure will seem like you were fi red. Do the right thing instead. Get back to work, stand up to the challenge, take the criticism and hit and focus on bouncing back. Remain responsible for outcomes and accountable for your happiness.

4. With no job in hand

The job market follows a simple rule—you are perceived to be as good as your present employment. So, unless something is terribly wrong, never quit until you have another job in hand. When you are out of a job, your negotiation power is much lower and job search becomes emotionally challenging.

5. Without money

Before quitting, ask yourself— can I afford it? Check your financial health and measure your wealth in terms of number of days you can survive without a new source of income. Remind yourself why you need the salary, be grateful for your income and chin up while you create financial leverage.

The writer is Director at and

5 #Tips to #Turn Your #Passion Into a #Successful #Business

Here’s how to leverage what you love into a new path.

5 Tips to Turn Your Passion Into a Successful Business

Are you sitting in your cubicle daydreaming of escaping the corporate grind to start your own business? Do you play with different ideas, but struggle to find one that could actually make you a living?

I’m here to tell you that you are overthinking it. Here are five tips to help you leverage what you love into a new path.

1. Side-launch or side hustle

More often than not, it’s beneficial to keep your day job when you first start out. You don’t want to put everything on the line, because new endeavors are often filled with uncertainty. You should start small by building confidence, knowledge and experience before you go all-in. If you quit your job based on your passion, you may put yourself in a vulnerable position.

Take your time. It’s important to properly vet the market for the product or service you are offering. Be sure your idea solves a problem and/or adds value. You want to offer something that is indispensable. Make sure there are enough people out there who need your product or service and that they are willing to pay for it.

Start by focusing on your potential business at night and on the weekends. See how it grows and develops. When you start small, you have the opportunity to see if this is truly something you enjoy. You don’t want to drain your savings account, only to find out that your business isn’t something you actually like doing.

The main difference between a passion project and a real business is sales and revenue. Give yourself time to test the viability of your potential business.

2. Treat it like a business

When starting your own business, it can be hard to stay motivated and organized. Unlike the typical 9-to-5, entrepreneurs setting off on their own don’t have anyone telling them what to do or when to do it. It’s also easy to lose focus and forget to prioritize your side hustle when it’s not yet making you money.

It’s important to treat your new endeavor as a professional business right from the start. Set yourself a work schedule with weekly goals, just as you would in your day job. When interacting with customers and clients, ensure you act professionally. You can start off on the the right foot by using platforms like HoneyBook or 17hats. These programs help users organize their workflow and interact with clients more efficiently.

3. Launch platforms

There was once a time when, in order to launch a business, you had to have a physical brick-and-mortar location (especially for retail operations). But having a physical location often comes with a high price tag that can be daunting for startups. Now, however, there are a number of tools available for entrepreneurs that will allow you to reach consumers without high startup costs.

These online tools can help you do everything from advertising your business inexpensively to connecting with new clients. But one of the greatest benefits of online tools is being able to sell products at minimal cost. Websites like Etsy, Amazon, Shopify and eBay let you sell your products without first having to build your own e-commerce website.

4. Get support

A number of organizations have been created to help startups, entrepreneurs, and other small businesses. Among them is the U.S. Small Business Administration. This governmental organization has set up a number of Small Business Development Centers in states across the country, offering resources like business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial lending assistance, procurement and contracting aid, market research help and healthcare guidance. Another organization offering assistance is SCORE, a national nonprofit that pairs entrepreneurs with business mentors.

Startups should also take advantage of co-working spaces. In addition to serving as great working environments, many co-working spaces offer resources and learning opportunities for members. Additionally, many are tailored toward specific categories of entrepreneurship and their unique needs. Hera Hub is a co-working space and business accelerator for women, with locations around the country.

5. Tell everyone

Since I recommend you side-launch the business, it’s important for you to find a balance between getting the word out to potential customers and clients and maintaining your job security. You shouldn’t worry about starting to leak information, but to ensure your employers don’t start to question your dedication, it’s important to stress that this is a “side project” when talking about it.

Once you’ve made a point of emphasizing that this is a side hustle, don’t hesitate to share your new endeavor with your co-workers, friends and family. Add it to your email signature, post it to social media and perhaps even consider writing a press release. Tell as many people as you can as fast as you can. You never know where new business is going to come from. The wider you spread your message, the quicker you will grow.

(By Felena Hanson. Hanson is the founder of Hera Hub, a spa-inspired shared workspace and community for female entrepreneurs. She is the author of “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business.”)

Credit: entrepreneur