Writing your resume is hard! As if being unemployed wasn’t enough of a morale-buster, you’re now pressured to put the best version of yourself on paper. An experienced writer balks at this task! But I’ll let you in on a secret: you already have more than you think you do. Related: Top 7 Resume Trends For 2015 Here are some quick ways to take whatever you’ve got (blank screen, job description, old resume, first draft) and transform in with a 10-minute power punch! The hiring manager has already given you a blatant ‘edge’ over your competition, but so few applicants take advantage of it! The posting you read online contains a secret giveaway of what the employer considers an ideal candidate. Your ten-minute task is to make yourself fit that bill. With this 10-minute transformation, you can give your resume a power punch!

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Getting ahead is easier than you think. But it requires courage. The kind of courage it takes to act like an executive or CEO. Related: 7 Signs Of Job Burnout (5 Ways To Fix It) Here are a couple simple rules to follow to get ahead without becoming a workaholic:

1. Understand what’s most important.

In order to get the big picture of the company’s goals and directions, you may have to think outside your department. Research your company’s goals and initiatives. Find out what’s important to them, what kinds of things they publish in press releases or the kind of image they promote in advertising. Learn how your role promotes the overall company initiative.

2. Pick one project, and be willing to let others slide.

Select a project of yours that, if completed, would have the most impact. It is better to have one project produce a solid, impactful result than to have many important projects that bring mediocre results, or worse, never reach completion. Since the goal is not become a workaholic, you will have to decide that everything on your plate is just not going to get done. An executive makes tough decisions daily. By devoting himself to the success of the most important projects, he agrees to failure lesser ones.

3. Move the needle on lesser projects.

List your top projects on a piece of paper. Then, list one or two things you could reasonably accomplish in a day that, if completed, would move each project forward just a little. Just enough to show some progress each day. The secret on the lesser projects is to not neglect them altogether but apply a ‘slow and steady’ chipping away, moving that progress needle just a little bit forward every day.

4. Manage your day better, around that main project.

Get to work one to two hours earlier. Far better than taking work home in the evening when you are exhausted or when you should be spending time with family. Not only will you beat traffic, you’ll create a solid block of uninterrupted time to hash out important deliverables. I’ve used this in my corporate role, and still use it in my real estate business today. When your most important work is done before your phone starts ringing, it’s easy to fit in meetings, appointments, and time in front of people. If you find yourself too tired to arrive early, make sure you’re going to bed earlier and getting eight hours of sleep. In the morning, fuel your body correctly with lots of water and a healthy breakfast, then go straight to work on your project with email closed. Take your coffee break and check your email AFTER your time block is done, and when everyone else is arriving and creating distractions.

5. Just say no.

You can’t please everyone and you can’t spend all day responding and reacting to other people’s requests in your email inbox. The new you is not a message-taker; you are a leader directing the activities of yourself and others. As long as you take a reactionary approach you’ll never be able to get ahead. When it’s time to check email, decide who you need to reach out to and whose response you need to look for before you even open your email inbox. Send your message, search for the response you were waiting on, then shut it down! Don’t open your email until the next designated break. If something arises that truly can’t wait one hour, that person will likely call you or visit your desk.

6. Get out of the box.

In order to have the kind of creativity that gets you ahead without becoming workaholic, you’ve got to get outside the office. With only one main project (and a commitment to merely move the needle daily on the lesser projects) this should be easier now. Use lunches to network or hang out with neglected friends. Plan a fun and engaging activity every single weekend. When you are out of the office, be out of the office. Try new things, take a class, read a book that challenges you, take your kids to the zoo, book a night away with your spouse in the neighboring town. On Monday morning, you’ll be relieved to know that you haven’t forgotten anything and that your work is still there. You may even find yourself eager to work, and your confidence soaring because of the quality time spent with family and friends. More importantly, the way you challenged your brain by experiencing new things and allowing yourself to “play” has actually boosted your brain’s ability to think creatively. Don’t be surprised if a light bulb goes off on an old problem you struggled to solve or if a book you’re reading gives you an idea for a new angle on your project. There is no separation between work and home life. What happens at home affects you at work. Time at work affects relationships at home. Use these principles to do better at work and at home! This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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About the author

Sandy Neumann is an entrepreneur and published writer. She is Marketing Director for the real estate firm she and her husband have run since 2009. Sandy’s passion is helping professionals and small businesses leverage ‘Words + Internet Marketing’ to stand out in crowded markets. Her unique story shows people how to get free from the “grind” and become entrepreneurs.   Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Do you sometimes feel like your older co-worker is treating you like a child? Or worse, meddling into your work like some pesky parent with an “I’ve always done it this way” attitude? Remember these quick tips to set things straight. Related: 5 Ways To Build Relationships With Colleagues

Determine If It's An Underlying Issue

Is it really age that’s driving the wedge, or could there be an over-bearing personality in your mix? Be certain that you’ve correctly identified the problem. And make sure the problem isn’t yours. Age excuses (whether “I’m too young” or “I’m too old”) are often masks for underlying insecurities. Age bears little relevance to a person’s intelligence, creativity, or work ethic. Look around and you’ll find exceptions to any unspoken age rule.

Try Influence On For Size

You’ve identified a problem. Now, do you envision as your desired result? Since eliminating the co-worker from your day-to-day activities is not likely an option, what would be a fair-game suggestion? For example, you may picture your senior co-worker responding respectfully to you during meetings. Or maybe you’d like to see fewer interruptions from her. Influence doesn’t work unless you have a desired outcome in mind. Only then can you use the power of influence to help this co-worker arrive at the same outcome you’ve already thought of. Here’s how it can work. Ask questions, sincerely listen, and respond with empathy. Then, craft your responses in a way that prompts the other person to feel the same way you do. People are much more likely to stick to ideas that they helped come up with. Example Dialogue: You: What do you think about those new report requirements? Co-worker: I can’t believe they are changing the process again! I just got used to the old way. You: I don’t know about you, but I feel overwhelmed sometimes with the fast pace here. I wish there was a way I could have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time every morning just to catch up and get organized. Co-worker (in a snide voice): Yeah, in an ideal world… Besides, that would mean you’d actually have to arrive on time for a change. You: What if I did? Maybe we can make a little bet. If I come in 30 minutes early, would you mind if I kept my door closed (or listened to headphones while I worked uninterrupted) for the first 30 minutes of my day? Co-worker: Sure, you’re on.

Isolate The Incident

Never confront someone publicly… if you want to win her over. Their focus is now on preserving their ego rather than solving the problem. If it’s time to have a talk, do it alone, one-on-one without distractions. Treat the problem with seriousness and respect, and you’ll be more likely to be treated respectfully in return.

It’s All About Delivery

Consider the power of confidence.
“You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
If your demeanor in during interaction with a co-worker exudes paranoia, lack of self-confidence, or even cynicism, you’ve already weakened your position before your first word gets out. Make your presence at work more respect-worthy. Are your contributions in meetings insightful, intelligent, well-prepped? Do you engage co-workers in a productive manner with a positive attitude? These characteristics make employees stand out. In fact, they scream “management potential.” But if you’re hanging with the naysayers, going with the crowd, your senior co-worker will notice that, too. She may even be waiting in the wings for someone braver to step out and be different.

Remember—It’s Just Business

Do what you need to do to get the job done right. If your situation requires a conversation with another individual, do it now. Don’t delay. Be part of the team, but don’t try to win the popularity contest. At Neumann Realty Corp., I work in a market in which 95% or more of my customers are my senior in age, wisdom, and experience. Many have years of real estate investment experience and many run large corporations or successful businesses. Yet my 30-something-husband and I offer weighty financial and real estate advice to these seniors every day. In fact, our senior customers rely on our youthful energy and quick insight into our market to aid them in decision-making. Use your age to its advantage, and don’t be too proud to hear the advice of your older (or younger) colleague. This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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So, how are those resolutions working out? It can be tough to stay on track for 12 months. Get on track fast with these eight tips for sticking with your New Year's Resolutions:

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In this tight economy, is it possible to turn 'fired' into 'hired'? Find out... Caution: There will be a test! But this is better news than you think. When you understand what you’re being tested on, it’s easy to prepare. I used this trick all through college. If I could get a feel for what my professors expected, I would know exactly what to study. I didn’t become a subject matter expert, but I became a great test-taker! That’s your role during an interview. Your objective in answering the “fired” question is to score an “A” on your job interview, not to deep-dive into the details of your previous termination. Your objective is to pass the test.

What is your interviewer looking for?

Think of it this way: How you answer the question of being fired reveals more about you than the details of the firing do. In short, your answer is more important than your reason. Most people have been fired at least once in their careers. Your interviewer has probably seen both sides. Firing is not the issue. But discussing it is a great way to unveil potential character flaws or undesirable personality traits like dishonesty or cynicism. When other applicants dwell on the details, argue their cases, or cast blame, your well-prepared response is going to shine in contrast.

How do you craft a response?

Obviously, get clear on what really happened. Don’t sugarcoat. At this point, just relax. We’re not interviewing yet; we’re just reflecting. You can’t fake honesty (your body language and your reference checks will give you away.) Spend your time getting comfortable with the truth, not rewriting it. Now, write your one- to three-minute story. It has three short parts: before, what changed, and where I am now. Before: What did you love about your job before things went downhill? State this in a single thought such as, “I loved working directly with customers and helping them visualize what they wanted to see in the end result.” Change: “Over time, my role turned into 90% paperwork and only 10% customer interfacing. I’m not a bad writer, but my real passion is people and my lack of ambition in my new role was evident. I was wrong for not recognizing this sooner, but I’ve recently taken a career profile test and I now understand where I perform and what areas I could improve." Now: Now, share what you learned or why your future employer can expect their arrangement with you to end more positively than your last one. You would explain like this: “That’s why I am here. I’ve researched your company and this position. It greatly resembles my original role at XYZ Company. I’m excited about the opportunity here to team up with a requirements writer and think we’ll make a great team. If my role here should change, I’ll be the first to speak up and discuss it.” See how this formula speaks directly to the interviewers concerns about you, succinctly and sufficiently with maturity and professionalism?

How do you prepare for the actual moment?

Allow plenty of time! You need to be able to do this without emotion and without missing a beat. Confidence and clarity is everything. In this case, practice makes perfect. Write you 3-step story and recite it until you’re repeating it in your sleep. Even if you are asked follow-up questions (not likely), you’ll have a solid outline to refer to. You’ve already addressed the past, you’ve explained the reason and your involvement in it, and demonstrated new behavior by taking a class or career test to improve your performance. If you haven’t taken steps like these, do it! Even if the firing wasn’t your fault, you’re going to look like a rock star. Don’t forget to practice non-verbal responses too. Hold your posture and your gaze when the question is first asked and while you are responding. Anticipate the question and you’ll be less likely to slouch, sigh or sweat when it comes up! Keep still and hold your voice steady (remember, you’ve rehearsed this a thousand times.) Also, don’t take the question or responses personally. Passing an interview with flying colors is less about your job skills and history, and more about your ability to market yourself and to respond with maturity in difficult situations. You are essentially “selling yourself “ as the best possible candidate. If you practice these things truthfully, you’ll feel confident and it will show. You’ll probably be more comfortable than the person asking the question! Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles: Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Having trouble discovering what you really want? Read on... Remember playing make-believe games as a child? Maybe you used to leap off of the furniture wearing a Superman cape. Or you imagined yourself on a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” adventure. I laugh when I remember my childhood self! The closest I ever got to make-believe fantasies was arranging a mock trial court among my stuffed animals. Yes, even then I was such a realist. But I loved to solve problems. (My best friend and I once spent a whole week investigating a mysterious note we found on the bus. Probably just a fragment of another student’s vocabulary list!) I loved to read, too, but I was never really satisfied with taking in other people’s stories. I wanted to write my own.

Ask Yourself This Question

Most Americans don’t know what they want to do for a living. To prove it, I’ll ask you this: What would you spend your time doing if money wasn’t an issue? Don’t be hasty. “Golfing” is not an acceptable answer unless your life’s purpose is to be a professional golfer. Imagine you already took a long vacation with plenty of R&R. Now, what would you do?

Examine the Clues

Look for clues in your existing roles, both inside and outside of the workplace. Record in a journal the activities that give you the most fulfillment. Chances are you started off on the right path. Just a little tweaking to your plan could help you reach your fullest potential.

Take the Journey

My objective here is to inspire you to take the journey. To reconnect with the childhood version of you. Write your own story. Construct your dream job. Your mind will argue against this point, throwing excuses and limitations at you. But trust me on this: If you’ve got as little as 30-60 minutes a day (the time it takes to watch a single cable TV series at night), over time you can change your life. (Or your career!)

Notice Other People’s Discoveries

But don’t take my word for it. Read other people’s success stories to build your belief. I listen to live coaching calls every morning and one of our new team members shared how he was recently surprised with a promotion. See, he’d been reading leadership books every day during this 30-minute lunch break and it was improving his attitude and performance at work. The boss took notice. Here’s another surprise talent discovery. Unlike his contemporaries who had spent their entire lives practicing and perfecting art, Henri Matisse discovered his art ability during his adult life. He was not born with a special passion or aptitude for painting, yet you probably studied his work in a high school art history class. Matisse was actually a law clerk who suffered from depression, often bound to a sickbed. He was in his twenties before he picked up a paintbrush. There was no romantic, magical moment that released his hidden talent. Instead he labored for four years under “how-to-paint” manuals before being accepted into the most prestigious art school in Paris.

Open Your Mind to the Possibilities

The same could be true for you! You could be lying in a dismal predicament when someone (out of desperation to lift your spirits) hands you a paint brush. The point is, you may not know exactly what you want to do, but you can jumpstart the process by opening your mind to the possibilities. Here are a few books I recommend to get you started. I borrowed the story of Matisse from Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. This book defined my personality with shocking precision. (Unexpected benefit? I made my husband take the profile test. Turns out I’d been misinterpreting many of his behaviors, causing unnecessary hard feelings. I also learned how to use his “Activator” personality to get more things done for our business.)

Read Daily

If you’re looking for a new job or position, start with J.T. O’Donnell’s ebook, CAREEREALISM: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career. It helped me place myself into the activities that I most love. If you’ve been in the same field for a while, read Brendon Burchard’s Millionaire Messenger to help you uncover hidden expertise you already have. Ready for a lifestyle change? Then Brendon’s book The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive is a must-read to get yourself moving! For the really adventurous, pick up The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferris. The end of your story hasn’t been written yet, so pick up the pen and start writing it! Photo Credit: Shutterstock