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. Related: How To Work Your Portfolio Into The Interview 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.

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If you show up at work every day on time and do your job the best you can, is that enough to be considered a great employee and even advance at work? Unfortunately, the answer is 'no' in most jobs - that would only be enough to make you an average employee. But average employees don't often get recognized or promoted. Related: 5 Conversations You Must Have With A New Boss So, if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing every day, why isn't that enough? What else should you be doing? There are so many things you could do to become a better employee (and more valued). I could list 50 things for you and they all fall in the category of 'going above and beyond.' For example, you could be more helpful to others on your team, you could volunteer for or spearhead projects, you could brand yourself as the 'go to' person, you could work longer hours to show your dedication, you could be more available off hours, you could offer up more innovative ideas, and you can stop gossiping and/or complaining with your co-workers and always display a positive attitude. The list can go on and on and most people know they could do these things but the problem is, most people don't feel like doing them. Many do try to do some but if what they try to do are not things they really want to do, they won't do them consistently in a way that impresses others and it won't last - they'll eventually decide it's not worth it and stop doing them. So, that begs the question, what can you do if you really want to become a better employee?

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There's an art in how to resolve problems at work without creating more problems. If you're in the 70-something percentile of people who are disengaged at work (as reported by the Society of Human Resources Management) and you know your reasons are directly related to your work environment, you probably wonder if there is anything you can actually do about it that will turn your situation around. Related: How To Handle A Hostile Work Environment There are some things you can do so consider your choices. You have three: you can suck it up and live with it (least desirable option!), you can start looking for another job, or you can talk to your boss and/or someone at work who can help you. Despite the issues you're having, if you otherwise really like your job, it’s definitely worth a shot at attempting to resolve the problems before you throw in the towel. In many cases you can – you just have to know the right way to go about doing it. Talking about work issues at work can get messy if not done correctly. Typically, that means you probably won’t be able to say what you really think without there being some risk involved. That’s not very encouraging but unfortunately, that’s how it is for many people because addressing issues at work is more like an art than a skill because you have to know how honest you can be and how to say what you want to say without digging a deeper hole for yourself. Perhaps you feel like you can’t address your issues because you fear your boss (or someone else) will retaliate against you or worse yet, you will get fired. These are very legitimate concerns. Your ability to be successful at this, however, depends a lot on where you stand at work. If you have a history of performance or attitude related issues, you will have less success with this than if you're an employee who has a record of outstanding work performance. If you do have performance issues because of the issues you experience at work, it’s a good idea to tie them together in your conversation so that it explains your performance issues. The resolution tactic that you must consider first is directly talking to your boss or to the person who is the cause of your problem. It's the most professional way to handle it as a first line strategy. Immediately going above that person’s head or to HR could (but not always) significantly worsen the problem. People tend to get upset when others go around them or above them instead of dealing directly with them.

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It’s a typical story for many job seekers. You apply for a bunch of jobs. You get some interviews, but can’t understand why you aren’t hearing back from so many of these companies. Whether it’s to actually get a job interview or to be called back for a second interview, oftentimes, you may come to the conclusion that you just aren’t as qualified as many of the others. Related: 5 Transferable Skills Job Seekers Need. Read here! Other times you know you are qualified, so what gives? While there are many factors that come into play here, it is a fact that some less qualified candidates are chosen over more qualified candidates simply because they have stronger soft skills than their more qualified counterparts. Soft skills for job seekers are a combination of your personality, attitude, and social skills, do weigh heavily in an employer’s decision to consider you as a candidate. Many employers believe most people can be trained in the hard skills required for a job much more easily than they can be trained on the soft skills. If you are a job seeker, you should do a self check on how you present both to prospective employers. Millions of companies out there have some ultra highly skilled employees. These are employees who may have advanced degrees, various certifications, lengthy relevant experience, and sound knowledge of their job responsibilities. Despite that, their managers are desperate to toss them out. How do things go so wrong with such skilled employees? Aren’t highly skilled employees the object of an employer’s search for a new team member? Despite their sound skills and knowledge, some of these highly skilled employees turn out to be an employer’s biggest nightmare. Perhaps they are argumentative, self-serving, unmotivated, dishonest, or just have terrible attitudes. Maybe they have all those traits or just a few. Regardless, they lack some critical soft skills that are not easy (and oftentimes, impossible) to train. As a result, more and more employers are willing to train less qualified candidates when they find ones with outstanding soft skills. While hard skills are the skills employees should have to actually do their job (education, training, and experience) those alone simply are not enough to land jobs in many companies. Many employers assess candidates for their personality and behavior traits and consider finding the lack of strong soft skills to be deal breakers. As a result, less qualified employees often win jobs because employers know that hiring employees who lack strong soft skills can wreak more havoc to their bottom line than employees who are lacking some of the hard skills. I am not going to say that people can’t learn and grow in some key soft skill areas but ask any manager if it’s easy to train an "attitude." It’s not! The following are the critical soft skills employers most desire in their employees:

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If you show up at work every day on time and do your job the best you can, is that enough to be considered a great employee and even advance at work? Unfortunately, the answer is 'no' in most jobs - that would only be enough to make you an average employee. But average employees don't often get recognized or promoted. Related: 5 Conversations You Must Have With A New Boss So, if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing every day, why isn't that enough? What else should you be doing? There are so many things you could do to become a better employee (and more valued). I could list 50 things for you and they all fall in the category of 'going above and beyond.' For example, you could be more helpful to others on your team, you could volunteer for or spearhead projects, you could brand yourself as the 'go to' person, you could work longer hours to show your dedication, you could be more available off hours, you could offer up more innovative ideas, and you can stop gossiping and/or complaining with your co-workers and always display a positive attitude. The list can go on and on and most people know they could do these things but the problem is, most people don't feel like doing them. Many do try to do some but if what they try to do are not things they really want to do, they won't do them consistently in a way that impresses others and it won't last - they'll eventually decide it's not worth it and stop doing them. So, that begs the question, what can you do if you really want to become a better employee?

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Why is it that sometimes the candidates who are clearly more qualified and have more relevant experience often get interviews, but not jobs? Or, what goes wrong when you make it to the top two and then lose the offer to the other candidate? It's within this place that we often hear candidates talking about age, race, gender, or any other type of discrimination. RELATED: Need tips for your interview? Watch these tutorials! As much as we all like to spend most of our energy concentrating on how we will prove we have the most relevant work experience and qualifications, it’s a rare day when hiring managers will choose one candidate over another simply based upon one candidate being more qualified to do the job than the other. In fact, less qualified candidates often get the job offer, leaving the more qualified ones feeling relatively perplexed and distressed. I am not going to say that no discrimination takes place because it does – as illegal as it is. But that's not what is going on in most of these cases. To explain this more clearly, please follow along with this scenario. Let’s say you are married and are planning a trip of a lifetime – just you and your spouse. If there is a place in the world you really want to go but you fear you may never get the chance, that's exactly where you are going. You plan the trip a year in advance and you are staying there for three weeks. Imagine yourself talking about this trip with your friends and family. As you share the details, picture the excitement that you will have in the tone of your voice (or that will pour out in exclamation marks as you write) and the passion that would exude out of every energy channel in your body. You likely end these conversations with, “I can’t wait!!!” Now imagine that three months before you leave on your trip, your spouse tells you that he or she wants to separate. This is very unexpected and devastating. However, you realize there is a chance you two could work it out, so you aren’t canceling the trip – yet. Although if you can’t work things out, the trip is off. You decide that outside of 2-3 very close friends, you are going to keep this under your hat and not talk about any of it. You want to work on things and don’t need the world to know. In the upcoming days and weeks, many people are asking you about your trip. Of course, you doubt it is still on, but you aren't saying anything so you just play along in hopes that everything works out. Just last week, you were talking about and saying things like, “Oh yeah! And we are staying three nights in this awesome hotel then going here and staying at this cool place, then we are going to be here where there is a pool off our balcony! I can’t wait!” What does it sound like now? Probably something like “Ahh... yea... it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s coming up soon... really looking forward to it...” Even though you didn't tell that person that you may not even be going, he or she may now become suspicious that something is up just based on you expressing yourself with much less emotion.

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When preparing your resume, you might find yourself coming face-to-face with some issues from your past. Perhaps you will then find yourself trying to figure out how to fix those issues so your resume looks cleaner and more professional. I mean, it’s just a resume to help you get a job interview... It’s not a legal document of any sort, right? Related: Why Completing A Job Application Isn’t A Waste Of Time Maybe you are eight credits short of graduating from college, but you dropped out for some reason. What are eight little credits? It probably would just look better if you go ahead and say you have a degree. Or, what if you have an associates degree, but the job requires a bachelors degree? A degree is a degree, it doesn’t really matter what kind of a degree, does it? Maybe you have a big gap in your work history or maybe you don’t want to include a job where you were fired. Well, you are trying to make your resume look as good as possible, so why not just fudge the dates a bit and make all your past work experience run back to back from each other. Good idea? Think again! When you are in a job search, you will almost always have to complete a job application as the process moves along and you are officially considered a “candidate.” What you write on your job application will make or break your chances of getting the job.

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