March Fourth and Put Your Best Foot Forward

The end of the first quarter traditionally shows high hiring rates. Whether you are starting a new job this month, or just looking to “March Forth on March Fourth” in your current position, here are some tips from business leaders and coaches to help you put your best foot forward.

Find your Signature Strengths

William Arruda in this article for Forbes Magazine recommends taking a lesson from big brands: find your signature strength and build on it. Just like Disney is known as family entertainment and Volvo is known for its safety record, you can make yourself known for your personal talents. To identify your personal brand, Arruda suggests listing your strengths and asking yourself these questions:

  • Will this strength be useful in reaching my goals?
  • Does it set me apart and help me stand out?
  • Will the people who are making decisions about me find it compelling and useful?[1]

Find ways to use and express that strength in every task.

Use all your strengths

Dawn Stanyan shares this advice in this article for – if you’re not happy in your job, it may be because you aren’t using all of the talent that you have to offer. If your job isn’t satisfying your personal and intellectual needs, find alternate ways to meet them. Take advantage of volunteer opportunities at work such as social or philanthropic committees. Look for new responsibilities and make it known you will take them. Take classes to build the skills that will help you get the job that lets your strengths shine.[2]

Own your strengths

When we are trying to impress, it’s tempting to act and work the way we think others want us to act and work. Here’s an example: Your boss announces that your advertising firm has landed a new pet food client. Avoid being anything less than genuine. Don’t do anything that can backfire on you such as mentioning you love pets and are an avid pet owner, but your really aren’t. But you said that because you thought that is what the boss will expect from the team. At best you sound desperate, at worst you can get yourself into real trouble. Anticipate your boss’s needs in the upcoming project, instead. Research the pet food industry and prepare the information that you know your boss will be asking for. Begin a list of competitors. Use the talent that you really can bring to the project, such as research and competitive analysis, instead of trying to claim expertise you don’t have. You can stand out and impress your boss whether you like pets or not!

Don’t be afraid to start over to move forward

Dorie Clark, writing for Harvard Business Review shares a tip that might seem counter-intuitive: “to move forward, don’t be afraid take a few steps backward.” Careers don’t usually rise steadily from point A to point B. Sometimes they get stuck or you simply don’t like the track you’re on. Clark points out that to break out of a dead end, you might have to accept a lower salary or position at first. [3] This might mean a more junior position at a better company, or it might mean investing in new skills that will help you take advantage of a different kind of career. Moving your career forward sometimes means accepting short-term setbacks for long-term gain. If you trust in your strengths, you’ll soon catch up and have even further to go. Your “best foot” are those talents that have gotten you to where you are today. Concentrate on these strengths, instead of only on fixing weaknesses. It’s not only a confidence-booster, it’s also beneficial for your career.

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the March edition of the Training Rewards e-newsletter, TR Perks.  It was sent on March 4th, the only day of the year that can be a sentence and call to action –  March Forth!

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