Man greets the employer before a job interview

These days, it can be overwhelming to think about how much work goes into finding a job. If you are very serious about it, you have likely educated yourself in all the various facets of a job search and become well-equipped to go out and tackle the task. But, so have many others.

Once a company narrows down the candidate pool to a group of people they want to meet, and you are one of them, it's time to start thinking about your next steps. Only one person can be chosen in the end. When all things are equal, what makes you stand out?

Finding strategic and creative ways to land job interviews is half the battle. Once you are chosen for an interview, it's not always going to be enough to arrive early, smile at the right times, answer the questions properly, ask the right questions, and then conduct all the proper follow-up tasks. Chances are you are going up against other candidates who will also be doing those same things.

Now is the time to go that extra mile.

The best proactive job interview strategies are somewhat subtle in nature and just flow with the rest of the process. The following are the top five strategies most candidates do not utilize:

1. Confirm Your Interview

8 Smart Questions To Ask Hiring Managers In A Job Interview

If you have at least a few days between when you set up your interview and when it actually takes place, use the extra time to your advantage. Call or email to confirm the interview, and let them know you are really looking forward to it. Not very many candidates do this, yet it's these little acts of professionalism that matter.

2. Develop A Rapport With The People Who Interview You

Typically interviews (including phone interviews), start out with some small talk. Don't just answer questions asked of you; ask them questions too and get a lighthearted conversation going! Ask them how they are doing and maybe share a connection story. Try to help take the rigid formality of a job interview down a notch so that the conversation can flow easier.

If any of the interviewers share something of some level of significance, be creative and use that information in further communications. Your thank you letter to that person could briefly mention something that had come up. For example, if an interviewer mentioned that his or her child was sick, why not briefly mention in your thank you letter you hope his or her child is feeling better? Who wouldn't appreciate that?

3. Ask If You Can Have A Tour Of The Office/Building/Plant

This is especially effective if the company has a manufacturing facility and you can ask a lot of questions about their products and how they are made. Regardless, this is a great way to show that you have a strong interest in the company.

While on the tour, bring up several things that you know about the company (you have done your homework, right?) and ask questions about them. Take notice of things you see and either compliment them or ask questions about them.

4. Make It Clear You Are Interested In The Job And The Company (Not “What's In It For Me?")

Try not to ask questions or make statements that make it clear that you are only interested in how this job will affect you. Employers want individuals who care about the company. If it doesn't come up in the interview, ask if you can learn about the company's values and mission statement and talk about how it aligns with yours. The values and mission statement are (or should be!) a very important part of a company's culture. So few people ask about this stuff!

Ask about how your job fits into the department and in the company as a whole. Show interest in what the company actually does. If you spend most of your time talking and asking about all the things that pertain to you, you will not be impressing anyone even if you provide otherwise good answers to the interview questions.

5. Send Personalized Thank You Letters To Every Person You Met In The Interview Process

Personalized means personal and unique to each person who was in the interview. Make your thank you letter different than the others. Reference communication items that are specific to that person if you can. This is a great approach, different from just sending a standard copy/paste thank you letter to them all. Many candidates do send separate emails to each interviewer, but the content is the same. Thank you emails can and will get forwarded to others, and when some were forwarded to me, I found it to be very impressive if the content was different from the one I received.

It's the little things that set you apart from the masses and help you stand out. Sure, some of these are a little extra work. But if it helps you get the job, isn't it worth it?

Need more help standing out in the interview process?

Check out our FREE resources page!

Or, join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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Pantone Color Institute has announced the Color of the Year (COY) for 2022. It’s Very Peri. Think periwinkle blue with hints of violet-red undertones. It’s a pretty color, and we’ll be seeing quite a bit of it this coming year. It’s a universally flattering color so most people can wear it. You may be asking yourself, “What’s the big deal? How does it affect me?” Here’s the answer.

Pantone Has Been A Leader In Color Research And Collaboration Since The 1960s

They understand color, how it affects us globally, and its impact. This institute studies color, different shades, and creates color as well. Did you know it takes at least nine months for the institute to choose a color? This is not picking a crayon out of the 64-piece coloring box. No, siree. There is much research, analytics, and testing that goes into it. And too much to put into this article.

Color Is A Critical Form Of Communication

We typically wear black to a funeral to express grief. Red is a power color, so we wear it when we publicly speak. Brides wear white on their wedding day to express virtue. When we choose certain colors and hues, we make a statement about our status, feelings, and emotions.

The COY Reflects What Is Happening In The World

It takes note of the global mood and where we should move artistically in the year to come. Just as teachers lead the charge in education and elected officials in politics, Pantone leads in our creative industries. They influence marketing strategies, artistic direction, and creative style. When Pantone announces a color for the year, the world takes notice. This color is seen in home decor, apparel, and beauty products. It influences marketing trends in politics, entertainment, social media, and fashion. Artists and designers are guided by this color throughout their work. It drives purchasing behavior which results in revenue.

Colors Can Enhance Our Natural Beauty

Stylists study color wheels and charts to understand what colors look best on skin tones combined with hair and eye color. When these things are done well, it truly brings out the best in the way you look. The color of your apparel does the same thing. By choosing to incorporate the COY into your wardrobe whether it is through clothing or accessories, you are stepping into modernity and relevancy. These choices are intentional, and it says to the world: “I care.” That’s a good thing. It’s much more than about clothing. It speaks to your demeanor, attitude, and goals. Like it or not, the way we present ourselves to the world is how we are judged. You have a matter of seconds to make a first impression so make those seconds count.

Make A New Year’s Resolution To Add A Little Very Peri To Your Wardrobe

You’ll be on-trend, look good, and get noticed for the right reasons. Show up in 2022 now that you know what it means.

The healthcare industry will continue to see major growth in 2022. But which healthcare jobs are on the rise?

According to LinkedIn's Jobs on the Rise report, these are the most in-demand healthcare jobs of 2022:

1. Vaccine Specialist

The most in-demand healthcare job, and the #1 job on the rise in 2022, is vaccine specialist. A vaccine specialist supports the production, distribution, and patient education of various vaccinations. They can work in medical sales, community outreach, or clinical operations.

Other job titles include vaccine sales manager, vaccine expert, vaccine coordinator, or vaccine administrator.

Interested? Check out vaccine specialist jobs today!

2. Surgical Intensive Care Nurse

The second most in-demand healthcare job, and #14 on LinkedIn's Jobs on the Rise list, is surgical intensive care nurse. A surgical intensive care nurse provides care "to patients who are critically ill after surgery, usually following complex procedures." They usually work within specialized trauma units.

Other job titles include ICU nurse or medical surgical nurse.

Interested? Check out surgical intensive care nurse jobs today!

3. Postpartum Nurse

The third most in-demand healthcare job, and #17 on LinkedIn's Jobs on the Rise list, is postpartum nurse. A postpartum nurse provides "physical and emotional medical care to mothers and newborns following a birth."

There are no other related job titles to this position.

Interested? Check out postpartum nurse jobs today!

4. Molecular Biologist

The fourth most in-demand healthcare job, and #22 on LinkedIn's Jobs on the Rise list, is molecular biologist. A molecular biologist studies, researches, and performs laboratory experiments to understand cell function and behavior.

Other job titles include cell biologist or microbiologist.

Interested? Check out molecular biologist jobs today!

If you're looking for a new job in the healthcare or medical field, these four jobs have plenty of employment opportunities available. Check out LinkedIn's Jobs on the Rise report to see the complete list of jobs that are growing in demand in 2022.

Need help landing your next job?

Check out our FREE resources page!

Or, join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

If you want more FREE career advice, follow us on TikTok!

Anyone in the software industry worth their salt heard about the great army of developers that is sitting in what locals call affectionately "Mother India." The Indian education system mints new graduates at a rapid clip. Entire forests of buildings and campuses have been, and continue to be, built to service an ever-growing number of companies, foreign and domestic.

But curiously, software companies all too often consider India only for its labor force, not as a market. Because apparently, you can have thousands upon thousands of developers in one location and yet not be a fertile ground for software sales!

OK, I get it. I saw fellow salespeople going to India and falling into some very common traps, getting englued in the mud like some animals surprised by the monsoon rain. And then concluding that India as a market is all hype.

I understand because I made some of these mistakes myself. But I learned from them. Here are some nuggets of wisdom.

Error #1: When Selling Software In India, Only Go After Domestic Companies

Photo by myHQ Workspaces on Unsplash

I visited real snazzy offices while visiting India!

Usually, when you invest in a foreign market, you are expecting to sell first and foremost to domestic companies. This is the whole reason behind opening a local office: you assume that you will be selling to locals.

The local offices of international companies? If you get them, great, but in general they are not the prime targets.

My previous articles about Japan and South Korea are written with this objective in mind: sell to the locals.

Well, in India, you need to revisit this philosophy.

Not that it is not possible to sell to domestic companies. Sure, it is. In fact, many are sophisticated world players in their own right, and depending on your offering they may become valued customers. Definitely prime targets.

But in many cases, their number is dwarfed by the greenfield investments of foreign companies.

Take auto for instance. India has its own OEM—Tata Motors—and that company maintains an extensive campus in the suburbs of Pune. But most automotive software developers work elsewhere—outside the Tata Motors ecosystem. Mercedes, Mobis, Mando, Delphi, Valeo—all foreign companies with a significant presence in India.

And while in some countries people may be hesitant to work for foreign companies, no such hesitancy exists in India. For example, in 2018, Indeed conducted a survey of the top IT companies to work for in India. 8 out of 10 were foreign companies, including Google, Amazon, Cisco, and Apple.

So, think about India as selling to the world. You get access to a premier roster of industry leaders coming from multiple continents within a few meters or kilometers from one another.

And based on my experience, these teams, most often than not, are collaborating closely with their colleagues abroad. More than once, I walked into a meeting room for a customer demo, only to find out that colleagues from Europe, the United States, or elsewhere invited themselves to the party, either in-person (visits, long-term assignments) or remotely.

Error #2: Underestimate The Influence Of Indian Engineers On International Sales

Photo by Debashis RC Biswas on Unsplash

Perhaps celebrating an ontime software delivery?

But then, surely you can just sell to these companies' headquarters and rely on them to send licenses as needed to India (and elsewhere), right? No need to care about the Indian users—they will accept the decisions from headquarters, they have no choice.

This is something I hear a lot about. Albeit it can sometimes be true, it is often not.

In fact, very frequently, either Indian teams are involved in the purchase decision (for example, by running the evaluation or playing the role of a technical decision-maker)—or they own the decision.

Ignore them at your own risk!

Let me tell you a secret: I used to have a field day against competitors that made the strategic mistake of discounting the Indian teams of otherwise satisfied clients.

In particular, I remember an Asian-based competitor that could not be bothered to sell directly in India. They would rely on the head office to ship tools to their Indian engineers. After all, these were working at an outsourcer, so their decision-making influence must have been quite low.

Big mistake. Engineers complained about the general lack of local support. And because we proved our mettle at another client they serviced, they unsurprisingly became vocal champions for us.

In the end, we bagged the sale.

Oh, and please don't imagine that just because India is a developing country people are any less astute in their trade as in your own country.

Believe it or not, I saw this too. In a particularly glaring case, the competitor's Director of Sales—an Indian no less!—thought it would be a good idea to patronize a director involved in software development at an important client. "You don't understand, you must do this, you have no choice."

She was getting quite an "education"—and it left scars.

When I visited her with my crew, we took a totally different approach. "Talk to us about your problems." We offered ideas, not tried to impose them. We provided some anonymous examples of other use cases that were similar to what they did and the few approaches we used to solve the issues.

Later, she discussed in her native tongue with my team member who explained what previously happened when the competitor visited days ago.

Who do you think earn their business? ;)

Error #3: Do Not Fully Leverage India For Accelerating International Software Sales

Photo by Jordan Harrison on Unsplash

Connect your sales internationally thanks to the Indian IT hub

So, in India, you have access to a host of foreign companies. These offices are often well-connected to a number of teams from all over the world. The astute business people will certainly want to leverage this to accelerate their growth, not just in India but everywhere.

Unfortunately, many business people seem to go out of their way to discourage locals from engaging foreign companies—through their compensation plan.

Sure, in sales, there is a strong culture of "eat what you can kill." You want to pay people that contribute to a sale, not pay people that do not. Logical.

Here's where things take a turn for the worse: contributing gets defined as doing the closing. In many other countries, that doesn't pose much of a problem. But in India, it can lead you astray. Why? Because of how integrated Indian software development teams are with other teams abroad.

In need of extra development firepower? Just tap a few Indian engineers, et voilà! They can be part of a team assigned to a group based abroad, or individuals assigned as remote employees to a team abroad. They may come from the same company or an outsourcer. And as a result, their role in the sales decision-making process can be different.

  • So, say your team engages in good faith with locals in India. Conducts the evaluation, does the appropriate follow-up. Spends valuable time building the case for a sale. And then finds out that the sale will be booked in another party, and the licenses shipped to India.

What happens next? If the answer is that the team in India gets no credit, then they may think twice next time they engage with any foreign companies or outsourcers in India.

Think about the Faustian choice you are giving them. Either do what is good for the company—and risk missing their own targets because they spent time building these sale cases (there is an opportunity cost after all)—or focus on their own numbers by "qualifying out" any opportunities that may close abroad.

And if you are then asking locals to do any support for the deal post-sales, you are only compounding the problem.

There are solutions to these problems. The absolute geographic nature of compensation is not a constant across all companies—some compensate through business units, others choose to establish sharing schemes to promote cross-border collaboration. Some may even make exceptions on how certain roles in India are compensated compared to others elsewhere in the world.

This can be quite tricky at times. It may challenge some of your long-held beliefs and cherished practices. But when you are building sales internationally, it pays to plan globally but execute locally. And compensation is certainly part of it.

Error #4: Blindly Trust Certain "Business People" When Selling In India

Lone Wolves Often End Up DECREASING SALES!

Finally, say I convinced you. You will pursue sales in India. Your efforts won't be limited to local companies. On the contrary, you will leverage India's incredible network of foreign companies to propel sales there and abroad, and you are prepared to make sure your team gets whole when engaging in cross-border sales.

There is one last snake that can bite you: the over-hyping salesperson or self-described "business person."

You know who I am talking about. The smooth-talker that promises riches beyond your wildest imagination. "Trust me, and let me work my magic, and all you will need to do is keep counting the rupees I will line your pockets with."

They are sometimes the sales directors of distributors that promise you huge revenue streams thanks to their extensive network of connections—only to feed off sales you would otherwise have bagged yourself easily as I am explaining in this article.

But don't forget the local managers, the ones you recruited after the candidate sweet-talked you about their amazing experience—only to find out they are all fluff.

And make no mistake: that type of "professional" can set your sales efforts back months or years.

In one case, I personally saw a CEO—an Indian living in the USA, no less!—being taken for a ride. Of course, our efforts in India went nowhere as a result.

In another case, a "power sales exec" at a distributor told me to "just be patient," that "things take time," that it was "normal," and that as a foreigner I did not understand the Indian market. Well, I actually proved him wrong by directly selling to a local account—an entity of the Indian government no less!—without first setting a foot in their office.

That's right: sold to them from 7,000 miles away while the local sales "expert" proved that his expertise was mostly about finding good excuses.

You will undoubtedly argue that unsavory salespeople—incompetent, Lone Wolves and the likes—can be found in all countries, not just India. Absolutely! But then, in my experience, they often get away with it in India.

How? Well, to detect a problem, you have to see these individuals in action. At home, it is likely to happen sooner rather than later. But if you are the kind of business leader who does not show up in India or who never takes the time to visit clients with your local teams, you may be fooled by "all talk no walk" people.

When I built my team in India in a previous assignment, I knew what type of person I wanted on the team, and who I did not want. I recruited bright but humble people, engineers and business developers alike, ready to work hard and learn. I went there regularly and supported them.

And above all, I never—ever—hired the "strapping" experienced professionals that told me they could do everything out of their own genius.

How successful were we? We turned a territory that was previously ruled out as "hopeless" by my management into one of the leading territories.

If your marketing is focused on, “here, buy my product!” those days are over. For marketing to be effective, consumers need to understand much more about your brand before buying your product in this highly competitive world.

Here are four signs why focusing on “buy my product” is making you look desperate.

Listen To The Article

Not Delivering Value

One of the biggest signs I see are companies communicating the exact features, benefits, and messaging points as their competitors, with no unique value. They fall into the trap of believing that they are different because they had, at one point in time, a surge of sales that has since slowed. Consumers have more choices than ever before for how to spend their time and money.

Unfortunately, there are many CEOs that believe an amateur can drive aggressive $20M growth goals instead of investing in brand marketing and strategy. Defining your brand’s strategy is not a “nice-to-have.” If you don’t take the time to define your brand strategy—understanding why consumers should buy from you and what unique value you provide them—you’ll lose them. Here is a guide on how to create a value proposition that’s valuable.

Reactive Marketing

Do you find your marketing team being reactive? For example, is your marketing team being hit with a ton of questions from within your organization like, “let’s send out an email this week promoting that we are back in stock,” or “we should send a holiday email with a discount across our entire portfolio.” And then when the marketing team constantly accommodates all of these requests, do you find your messaging is all over the place or—even worse—it’s lacking consumer engagement?

Results don’t come from being reactive. The “here, we have this widget, find us leads” mentality kills growth opportunities. Reactive marketing never works. When you don’t have a clear brand message, this creates havoc with your internal and external teams as you haven’t succinctly communicated who you are, what you do, and why you are different. Check out my article on how to create a clear brand messaging.

Lack Of Focus

Focus is one of the hardest things to communicate to entrepreneurs who try to cast a wide net to see what sticks in order to make their brand more appealing. Unfortunately, it’s all about ruthlessly prioritizing. Prioritizing your target audience. Prioritizing your marketing actions. Prioritizing your time.

  • Prioritize Your Target Audience: It seems logical to want to sell to as many customers as possible. Unfortunately, 80% of consumers don’t think brands understand them as a person. The power of your brand relies on your ability to be focused. Take the time to identify your ideal target audience (check out my article on how to identify a target audience/market segmentation) to strengthen your brand and transform your business.
  • Prioritize Your Marketing Actions: I’ve worked for start-ups that have invested heavily in a number of different marketing platforms but weren’t seeing a return on their investment. They were busy executing but hadn’t defined their strategy or KPIs. Having a strategic marketing plan will help you focus on what to do and what not to do with limited resources.
  • Prioritize Your Time: Adobe Workfront found marketers spend less than 20% of their time on high-value work. They use the other 80% on tasks like meetings, administration, and responding to emails which can negatively impact your strategic growth plans.

Continuous Discounting

Discounting may seem like a good way to increase your sales. However, it actually hurts your brand in the long run. When you discount, you are shifting the focus from your brand and placing it on the price. Right now, discounting is all over e-commerce because it’s easy to do, not because it’s the right strategy to convert consumers. Consumers become conditioned to buy your brand only when it’s on sale. And when they do buy, they buy enough to last until the next sale. When you engage in continuous discounting, consumers become laser-focused on price vs. the key differentiators of your product, losing out on any emotional attachment to your brand (check out my article on emotional branding). They are also much more likely to switch to another brand based on price.

As you evaluate your pricing strategy, be strategic about your discounts, measuring their ongoing effectiveness and impact on your brand.

In summary, beware of these four signs: not delivering value, reactive marketing, lack of focus, and continuous discounting which can lead to “buy my product” desperation. When you invest the time in your brand, your business will reap benefits. Until next time, keep building your brand leadership. You’ve got this!

Didn’t get the job? Rejection isn’t easy, but it’s important to leverage the progress you’ve already made with this company. In fact, this is a great opportunity for you to build a professional relationship with the hiring manager and keep things moving forward in the event another opportunity arises.

You want this person to be your advocate in the event another role opens up. Even though you didn’t get the job, you should take steps to keep moving forward. You want to use this opportunity to reinforce that you’re still interested in working for the company and that you’re willing to work toward becoming a better fit.

Here are some things you need to do if you didn't get the job:

1. Send Thanks

How To Answer "Why Do You Want This Job?"

Even if you didn’t get the job, it’s important to thank the people who took the time to talk with you, interview you, and help you get that far in the process. They will respect you for it and appreciate the gesture. Not only that, but sending a brief thank you note after getting rejected from a job will allow you to stand out, and it will help you further your professional relationships within the company.

2. Be Understanding

Hiring isn’t easy, and rejecting people isn’t a piece of cake either. Let this person know that you understand the decision and thank them for considering you for the role. Who knows, if this person doesn’t work out, they might call you up and bring you in since you’re a “warm lead” for the role. Or, they might have a different opening they feel you might be a better fit for. That’s why it’s important to be thankful, positive, and supportive, even though you didn’t receive the offer. The truth is, you just never know what will happen!

3. Briefly Reinforce WHY You’re So Passionate About Working For This Company

If they know you’re deeply passionate about what they do, they’ll know you’re in it for more than just the money and that, if hired, you have the potential to stay at the company for a while. That’s why it’s important to reinforce why you feel so strongly about working for this particular company. So, share your “connection story” with the company, showcase a shared belief you have with the company, or share a personal experience that taught you the value of what that company does.

4. Seek Advice

Make it easy for this person to help you by asking the right questions. Remember, they’ve already gotten to know you, they know you want to work there, and they know you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the opportunity. You’re a “warm lead” at this point, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to choose you over someone else. Ask questions like...

  • “How can I be a better fit for opportunities like this one?”
  • “What do I need in order to earn opportunities like this one at your company?”

If you can find out what you need to do in order to “check off” all of the boxes, then you’ll make your candidacy more attractive in the event another opportunity opens up.

5. Take Steps To Move The Relationship Forward And Ask How You Can Keep In Touch

In order to keep this relationship moving forward, you need to ask for it. Being proactive in this situation is critical. Otherwise, your future with the company might be left up to someone else, which is a risky chance to take. Make sure you ask to stay in touch. For example, you could say something like…

“What’s the best way for me to stay in touch with you? I want to be proactive and stay on your radar for future opportunities. I really want to work for your company but I want to earn my place there.”

They’ll appreciate your proactiveness and your willingness to take ownership of the process—on their terms. It will also give you clear next steps on how you should keep this relationship moving forward.

So, remember: even if you didn’t get the job today, there’s still an opportunity to get the job tomorrow. “No, not today” doesn’t mean “no, not ever.” Leverage the progress you’ve made with this company and keep working your stuff!

Need help finding a job?

Check out our FREE resources page!

Or, join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

My grandparents owned a two-story walkup in Brooklyn, New York. When I was a child, my cousins and I would take turns asking each other questions, Trivial Pursuit style. If we got the question correct, we moved up one step on the staircase. If we got the question wrong, we moved down one step. The winner was the person who reached the top landing first. While we each enjoyed serving as the “master of ceremonies on 69th Street,” peppering each other with rapid-fire questions, I enjoyed the role of maestro the most of all my cousins. I suppose I was destined to be an educator.

I think some of us, like me, go into teaching because a part of us likes being that helper who is also the center of attention, the sage. This is how we get our fix. However, what I did not realize when I first became a teacher, but understand now, is that it is not about how much knowledge I have as a teacher but how well I can help others not only process and retain information but also develop their own intellectual curiosity.

If the goal of schooling is for every student to learn, these would be the 10 facts about teaching that I would want every teacher to know as they embark on their professional journey:

1. Every Classroom Should Belong To The Students Within It

Less teacher and more student. In my consulting practice, I like to joke with teachers that they should come to school tired from planning and students should leave school tired from thinking/doing. Within lesson plans, the teacher should consider how they will engage students individually and collectively in peer-to-peer discussion. Plan out rigorous guiding questions to anchor these student discussions. As teachers, ask yourself when planning if you must be the one presenting content or if students can learn the same content independently and vis-à-vis their classmates. Instead of presenting the content, spend time curating resources that students will need to analyze the content. Ensure that resources will resonate with students be that by interest and/or cultural background.

2. Be Ready To Pivot Instruction At A Moment's Notice

Meet students where they are in their learning. Use quick checks on understanding during instruction to decide if you should pause to clarify content/vocabulary and eliminate any student misconceptions. Instead, so many of us charge ahead with our lesson plans, despite evidence that students are not retaining information, fearful that we will not “get through” the curriculum, particularly at the middle and high school levels. However, if we speed through content and students remain befuddled what good then was this exercise? Paper and pencil tests, as well as other formal summative assessments, are important indicators of learning but only after the fact. Use checks on understanding during learning when there is still time to affect student learning outcomes. Even when teaching older students and adults, never assume that students “should” know something.

3. Anticipate Student Confusion

Plan for it in advance! When designing lessons, consider everything and/or anything that could go wrong when delivering it. Will students not understand what they are supposed to do? Make sure then to craft a how-to document or anchor chart. Will students bicker when working in pairs or groups? Ensure that you provide students with accountable talking stems. Will some students during group work do all the physical and cognitive heavy lifting and others not? Then, assign each group member an individual role or task. Don’t wait for a student to approach you with their questions and/or concerns. Even adults do not like to “look stupid.” Use checks for understanding and more formal assessments to determine student needs upfront.

4. The Curriculum/Textbook Is Not The Lesson Plan

Your students change every year. So should how you teach. Therefore, you need to create a lesson plan for each lesson every year. This point is related to the second one. While the core content being taught may remain the same from year to year, hence justifying the use of a specific curriculum or textbook over a period of several years, how ready students are in accessing that content will vary from year to year and by student to student. You may need to provide academic scaffolds and supports in any given year (much like the physical scaffolds that support a building while it is being built) to ensure that students not yet ready to meet a learning objective can, ultimately, reach that objective without that learning intention being dumbed down. Conversely, you may have several students within a given year who require additional enrichment.

5. Don't Blame Students For Non-Compliance

If Muhammed won't come to the mountain, then the mountain should go to Muhammed. Making learning relevant to students is important. Draw upon student background knowledge and interests when introducing new concepts. Allow students some choice in how they are to learn a particular concept and/or idea as well as how they demonstrate their knowledge of content and/or skills. Use your scholarship data to determine if certain students are not complying because they might be either bored or frustrated with the content. If a student tells you that they are struggling in learning material a certain way, be open to changing instructional practices to better align with the student’s learning profile.

6. The Primary Role Of A Teacher Is To Be A Mentor To A Human Being

Often, when we start our careers in education, particularly those interested in teaching high school students, we have a narrow concept of what our role is going to be—teacher of social studies, science, math, etc. Granted, too much focus on assessments in math and ELA, particularly, reinforces this concept unnecessarily. Still, philosophically, educators of all content areas and grade levels are in the unprecedented position of having real impact in supporting all aspects of a student’s development. Do you help students develop life skills in critical thinking, self-analysis, collaboration, and communication, for example, while also teaching content? How might students hone their social-emotional skills through the learning activities that you design? While some of our students might pursue careers within the content area we teach, the majority will not. But that does not mean that we don’t have profound impact for good, or bad; this depends on how we make students feel about their learning. I wish I could have a “do-over” with a few students whom I feel I failed.

7. Teaching Is A Team Sport

I would be rich if I had earned even a quarter for each time, as a consultant, I encountered a locked classroom door in an upper school and saw windows looking into classrooms covered over with pieces of paper. Instead, be curious about learning best practices from colleagues. Remember the goal is to help all students learn. This means we need to be consistently considering “how” we teach—the processes through which we ask students to learn and the materials and models for learning that we use. Consider peer walkthroughs, engage in data-informed professional learning communities, involve yourself in a collaborative book study, and participate in looking at student work protocols with your co-teachers. Replicate best practices in your classroom. If the administration has not set up the systems and/or processes to allow for these activities, at a minimum, find an accountability partner/master teacher in whose class you may sit and observe and with whom you can share teaching ideas. If we ask students to be curious and to engage in learning, we, too, need to be models for this practice.

8. Let Students Struggle (A Little)

Yes, you can kill through too much kindness. You can't go vote, attend college with, or join in on job interviews with your students. Don’t create learned helplessness. Students need to think critically for themselves. Don't tell students what to think but pose cognitively deep-guiding questions and set up conditions/discussion protocols to help students develop skills around how to think/metacognition. Ensure that learning tasks are intellectually rigorous, respectful, and make thinking visible. Even elementary students can work independently and collaboratively. Assess what students know and still do not know as they work, and then reengage to address any misconceptions.

9. Stress In Class Is Okay (Sometimes)

As a teacher and trainer of teachers, I often will cold call on people to respond to a question prompt. I also have learners select the next person to answer. I recognize that this raises stress levels. But that is not in itself bad when it comes to teaching and learning. And training adults is not so different from teaching children in this regard. Requiring learner “presence” gives one a truer sense of what is and is not resonating and it provides learner accountability. Growth comes from engagement with ideas, people, and resources in addition to self-reflection and extension of our boundaries.

10. We Are All Literacy Teachers

Reading, writing, and speaking are crucial skills to have if we are to communicate effectively. If students do not understand key vocabulary, text details that support a claim, or even the author’s point of view/inferences, how can they ever realistically learn the specific academic content you are teaching? Know your students’ readiness levels as it pertains to literacy and make accommodations to content, process, and/or student product accordingly.

If you are struggling in increasing student achievement, chances are that you can further hone your current teaching practices in one or more of the above areas. To learn how to do this, please feel free to reach out to me at John Schembari, Ed.D. | LinkedIn!

Balancing a career and family is a common concern for most individuals. However, it’s important to realize the smallest of changes can produce the strongest of impacts.

I’ve often worked jobs that required evening and weekend hours. The question is: What can we do?

1. Morning Gratitude Moment

When you wake up in the morning, don’t jump out of bed for your workout immediately, or drag yourself to the washroom. Sit up straight, relax, and close your eyes. Say to yourself, “I am grateful for those who support me, believe in me, and are always there for me.” Say this with a deep breath in between each time you say it, and I recommend saying it for a full five minutes. When you open your eyes and look at everything around you—keep that moment of gratitude with you, throughout your day, reminding yourself how you can’t wait to get home to your loving family.

2. Workout Partners

Begin your day by stretching with your family and doing some physical activity together. All you need is 10 minutes. You’ve accomplished a two-for-one: physical activity and family time!

3. Family Playlist

On your shared streaming service, make a playlist of your family’s favorite music. When you take a break at work or feel a negative moment getting the best of you, listen to that music, think about your family, and regain your focus. Music is a powerful voice and has the ability to affect our mindset. Your family playlist will energize you and improve your mood.

4. Daily Phone Call

At least once a day, call or text your significant other or your kids and repeat Stevie Wonder: “I just called to say I love you, I just called to say how much I care.” Let your family know they are always in your thoughts. Even in the face of a big deadline or an important meeting, that moment will relax you and make your family smile!

5. Clarify Your Work Hours & Expectations

Discuss with your boss his/her expectations of you in regards to your time and your position to foster a mutual and clear understanding of your role. Should your role involve evening/weekend hours, and tasks such as answering emails, working from home, or extra time needed for special projects, establish a strategy and discuss with your boss how to meet these expectations so you don’t feel overwhelmed and pulled between your family and your job. If you are a new parent, have family members who require special needs, or have personal circumstances which require attention, bring these up as necessary, so if you have to leave early, there is an understanding of why this is the case.

6. Socializing At Work

It’s common for colleagues to hang out after work. Say yes when your significant other and/or kids are also busy. This will balance things out more. There are times to have beers with colleagues, but there are also times to go home, relax, watch a movie, and simply have fun with your family.

7. Buffer Moment

We all deal with a lot at work and at times might get irritated or annoyed. Remember you are a human being, not a robot, and thus it’s acceptable to have a buffer moment for these feelings. Take a deep breath, zone into your happy place that involves your family, think about how your energy can be used towards something else, and move on.

8. Yoda Philosophy

As Yoda put it, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Don’t try to leave at 6:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.; just do it. Allocate the last half-hour of your day to do the following and leave at 5:30/6:00 p.m.:

  • For two minutes, take deep breaths, in and out, looking away from your desk, feeling the moment of gratitude you felt in the morning. Turn back to focus on leaving to see your family at home.
  • Organize your emails based on what is to be reviewed, what requires follow-up, and what needs a response after your breakfast/snack/meal. Your emails are emails, not a to-do list.
  • Write out your to-do list, priorities, goals, and key items for the next day.
  • Double-check that you have a water bottle and healthy desk snacks.
  • Organize your desk so that your to-do list is in front of you, papers for review are next to your list, and keep a pen ready with blank paper to jot down extra notes. Don’t always rely on your computer; rely on yourself and your mind.

9. Phone And TV-Free Dinner

At the dinner table, leave your phone and turn off the TV. Focus on your family, not on work, and use this as a time to bring all your energy, your aura, and your being in the moment with the people who support and believe in what you do, and love you for the ability to do what you do.

10. Your Work Journal

Keep a two-week work diary: try to track every fifteen minutes of your work time. After that, analyze for, and attack, any inefficiencies! This will import balance in your day and yield a well-deserved coffee break, a breath of fresh air, and time to make your daily family phone call!

Does email control you and take you away from your priority list, and thus your work-life balance? Organizational skills are an important factor in how you balance your day, affecting your work-life balance. Get organized and get happy! You'll find that work-life balance sooner than you think.

Need help finding a job that prioritizes work-life balance?

Check out our FREE resources page!

Or, join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

If you want more FREE career advice, follow us on TikTok!

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

When you think about personal branding, a few questions might come to mind: What is a personal brand? Why do I need to develop my personal brand? How do I create a personal brand? Of course, you don't really “create" a personal brand. You already have one.

What Can Influence Your Personal Brand?

How To Create A Personal Brand & Why It's Important

Don't believe me? Google your name followed by your hometown.

If you have a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, your name probably comes up on the first page. Perhaps you have more social media profiles. Maybe you've recently been mentioned in a local news article.

All of these things are part of your personal brand. Scary? Get over it. It's already out there and you can't do anything about it. What you can do is manage your personal brand so what people see about you is what you want them to see.

The History Of Personal Branding

Personal branding was popularized by an article by Tom Peters first published in Fast Company Magazine ("A Brand Called You") over 20 years ago.

He starts out the article by writing, "Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."

How Do You Create A Personal Brand?

When I read that 20 years ago, I implicitly knew he was right but I didn't understand how a person could go about creating their own personal brand.

The only brands I knew of were huge corporations with hefty advertising and marketing budgets. What could a lone individual do to create their own personal brand?

Then along came the internet, and social networking, and web 2.0, and Google, and then blogs, Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other applications entered the scene and made it virtually impossible for anyone to keep from creating a personal brand, whether they wanted to or not.

How To Effectively Manage Your Personal Brand

Here are a few things you can do to manage your personal brand.

1. Make Your Personal Brand Clear

Be clear about the image you intend to project. If you have more than one message, you run the risk of confusing people about what you are all about.

2. Make Your Personal Brand Consistent

Make certain your brand message is consistent across all platforms. For instance, your resume and LinkedIn profile must be in sync.

3. Back Up Statements In Your Personal Brand

Back up any broad statements with objective proof via quantifiable information. Show numbers of what you have done to back up your claims.

4. Keep Your Personal Brand Short, Sweet, And To The Point

Your personal brand isn't your life story. Keep it brief. Can you state your value proposition in 10 words or less? If not, you run the risk of being forgettable—the death knell of any brand.

Having a great personal brand will help you stand out from others and make you more marketable as a job candidate. Knowing who you are, what your goals are, and what message you want to send to employers is crucial for keeping up in the competitive job search.

Do you need help crafting your personal brand?

Check out our FREE resources page!

Or, join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

If you want more FREE career advice, follow us on TikTok!

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

In November 2021, I was introduced to a company called Contra. They give professional independents, like me, a new way to present my expertise. Their idea is simple: ditch the resume, showcase your past work through projects, offer your skills through services, get matched to remote opportunities, and receive commission-free payments all within their platform. I immediately fell in love—here’s why…

Networking Is Easier When You Give People What They Need To Trust You

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My Contra profile was easy to set up and is focused on letting me showcase my actual accomplishments—instead of a boring summary of my work history. For example, I have created a lot of valuable free resources for professionals and executives. When people visit my Contra profile, they can quickly get to know me, but more importantly, jump right to the resources I know they would be most interested in learning more about. It’s a faster, better way for them to connect with my expertise!

Speaking Of Jumping…

Once you have a Contra profile and a TikTok account, you can use their new “TikTok Jump” feature. In partnership with TikTok, you can now link your Contra profile directly to your TikTok video! Making it easy for someone who is watching my career and job search tips to click and get access to my resources. Here is an example of a TikTok video I did recently using a Contra Jump link.

In the little over two months since I started using TikTok Jumps, I have had over 22,600 people check out my Contra profile! That’s more than the number of people who looked at my bio on TikTok in the previous year. Needless to say, I am getting a lot more connection requests on LinkedIn and followers on my other social media platforms as well. Linking my Contra profile in my TikToks (aka using the Contra TikTok Jump) has been a networking game changer for me!

EXAMPLE: How I Used TikTok Jumps To Help 50+ With Their Interview Prep

Once I got the hang of TikTok Jumps, I started using it on every TikTok I made. That’s when I stumbled onto an idea…

I get a lot, I mean A LOT, of people asking me for job interview help on a daily basis on social media. Since I don’t have time to meet with each person, I created a comprehensive Interview Prep Plan. It covers literally everything you need to know about the interview process from start to finish. People who use it tell me they can’t believe how much easier interviewing got once they understood the process from the hiring manager’s point of view.

One day, I posted a TikTok answering a common interview prep question. At the end of the TikTok, I pointed down and said, “You can grab my Interview Prep Plan by clicking my Contra profile right here.” Well, within a week of posting that, I had over 50 people purchase the plan and they were commenting how helpful it was. It felt so good to be able to help these folks and all I had to do was direct them to my Contra profile!

In summary, it’s often that I’m really impressed with new social media technology. But, I am truly a fan of Contra and what they are doing for professionals like me. It’s an excellent way to build your online presence. And, the best part? It’s FREE to use. My favorite kind of technology for sure.

P.S. If you’re interested in trying out Contra for yourself, check out their free services here!