Quick and Quintessential Career & Job Tips
Job-hunting tips from the August 2, 2004 issue of QuintZine.
An unwillingness to try new things could harm your career prospects suggests a recent survey by Accountemps, a temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. More than one-third (35 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled recently said embracing change is a critical success factor for employees. Twenty-seven percent feel a desire to learn new skills is the most valuable characteristic.
Responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees made up the survey, in which CFOs were asked, “Which one of the following characteristics do you consider most necessary for an employee to succeed?” Their responses:
- Adapts easily to change: 35 percent
- Motivated to learn new skills: 27 percent
- Strong interpersonal skills: 15 percent
- Welcomes increased responsibility: 13 percent
- Willing to work long hours: 5 percent
- Don’t know/no answer: 5 percent
To distinguish themselves from the competition, job-seekers should demonstrate their versatility, said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps. “In cover letters and during job interviews, cite examples of how you’ve viewed change as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.”
Messmer also advised professionals to make a personal commitment to continued learning. “Absorb as much as you can,” he said. “Attend trade conferences, read industry publications, take classes, network with others in your profession — take every opportunity to identify and acquire the skills you need to be a peak performer.”
- Keep it short: Whether it’s an e-mail, voice mail or face-to-face meeting, make your comments brief and salient. Busy executives and staff appreciate people who can get right to the point.
- Play nice: Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you,” and do what you can to help those who need assistance. If you go out of your way for people, they’re apt to return the favor.
- Be a wordsmith: Choose your words carefully when e-mailing, since written messages often appear more severe than intended. If you’re requesting action, make sure it’s clear what is needed. Also, be concise in your correspondence. Proof messages twice (once with the computer spell-checker, then with your own eyes) to catch any errors.
- Listen up: Give those with whom you speak your undivided attention. Resist the temptation to finish others’ sentences or formulate your own responses while they are talking.
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Review all our Quick and Quintessential Career & Job Tips.