How a Disability Can Be A Career Defining Advantage

Table of Contents

  1. Does a Disability Impact Your Ability to Get a Job?
    1. Know Your Rights: Who Is Protected?
    2. Ensure the Job Qualifications Are a Match
    3. Be Open And Professional
    4. Handle Interview Questions Professionally
  2. 5 Examples of Disabled People Thriving in the Workplace
    1. Meet David
    2. Meet Laila
    3. Meet Kelly
    4. Meet Maggie
    5. Meet Ryan
  3. How to Turn Your Disability Into an Advantage
    1. Own It
    2. Leave Your Mark
    3. Do Something Amazing
    4. Excel
  4. 5 Steps for Identifying Your Strengths
    1. What Are You Passionate About?
    2. What Do Those Closest to You Say?
    3. What Successes Have You Had?
    4. What Comes Naturally to You?
    5. What Are Your Soft Skills?
  5. 5 Steps to Find Targeted Jobs
    1. Profile Your Ideal Company
    2. Manage Your Online Presence
    3. Do Your Research
    4. Tailor Your Resume
    5. Manage Your Time Efficiently
  6. 5 Steps to Find Target Employers
    1. Target by Industry
    2. Target by Location
    3. Turn to LinkedIn
    4. Ask Friends for Recommendations
    5. Research, Research, Research
  7. How to Reach Out to Potential Employers
    1. Reaching Out Online
    2. Reaching Out In Person
  8. 7 Interviewing Tips
    1. Do Your Homework
    2. Dress for Success
    3. Know Your Resume
    4. Arrive on Time
    5. Be Positive Confident and Focused
    6. Remember Your Body Language
    7. Ask Questions
  9. How to Manage Workplace Culture Dynamics
    1. Corporate Culture
    2. Office Politics
    3. Office Etiquette
    4. Different Communication Styles
    5. Different Generations at Work
  10. Should You Start Your Own Business?
    1. You Have a Solid Business Idea
    2. You’re Prepared for All of the Work
    3. You’re Not Running Away
    4. You Create Your Own Success
    5. You Enjoy Responsibility
    6. You Have the Necessary Experience and Resources

Does a Disability Impact Your Ability to Get a Job?

With nearly 57 million Americans all having some form of disability, the question is bound to come up. If you find yourself wondering the same thing, you’re not alone. If you are wondering the same thing, you aren’t alone. In fact, a recent survey by found that 77% of graduates and students with a disability fear that they will be discriminated against, and 72% are worried about being a nuisance to employers and as a result, 76% were concerned about being open about their disability at work or in job interviews.

However, with a little bit of work, job seekers can turn their endeavors into a success. As is the case with most things though, having the right strategy is important. Just like anyone else who submits a job application for an opening, you aren’t guaranteed the position. However, it’s important to make every effort to prove your capabilities and qualifications, regardless of the outcome.

With this in mind, let’s look at a few tips for navigating the hiring process, to help increase your chances of success in the job hunt

Know Your Rights: Who Is Protected?

Before you apply for a job or internship, it’s important to know your rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants based on disability. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees. However, your state may also have a law that applies to smaller companies as well, so be sure to have a look at state regulations before you begin your job search. Familiarizing yourself with these laws allows you to know your rights, which will enable you to enter the job market well-prepared.

Secondly, in order to be entitled to the Americans with Disabilities Act’s protections, you must meet their definition of a person with a disability. This disability must cause you to be substantially limited in a major area such as walking or speaking.

There are also Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies that can help you out. These are run by individual states (they’re not federal agencies) and help individuals with physical or mental impairments prepare for, get, keep, or regain a job.

In the world of working with or for the federal government, the equal employment opportunity commission requires that gov agencies follow employment goals for individuals with disabilities – including providing assistant services to those with physical or intellectual disabilities. This is to improve the hiring and retention of such individuals in federal jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor also has an Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) web portal with similar information and resources. Lastly, the Schedule A Hiring Authority streamlines the hiring process, by dampening the natural competitive nature of it.

Definitely keep these in mind as a resource if you feel your disability is hurting your eligibility with hiring authorities.

Ensure the Job Qualifications Are a Match

Before you go through the entire application process, you should first ensure that a job position is a right match for you. If you don’t have the right qualifications, you won’t be right for the job, regardless of your disability.

Here are two factors that you’ll want to consider:

  • The Required Education and Experience
    The good news is the law is on your side, prohibiting employers from discriminating against you based on your disability. However, there isn’t any advocacy group that can coerce employers to compromise in areas such as education or experience. Before you apply, you’ll want to make sure you have the required job skills or experience.
  • Assess the Job Duties
    Next, you’ll want to look at the job’s duties, making sure you’re able to do the job’s essential functions, either with or without a reasonable accommodation. If you’re not sure, consider asking the employer for details on job training and requirements. After you know what the essential functions are, you’ll want to make sure you can do them. The good news is that the ADA protects those who can perform the essential functions with or without accommodation.

Be Open and Professional

There is much debate on when the right time to disclose an intellectual or physical disability is. While it’s not required that you disclose your disability before the interview process, it may be advisable in some situations. If you have a visible disability, it is usually a good idea to disclose it in advance. If you wait, and the interviewer notices it, they may wrongfully assume that you’re not capable of doing the duties. However, if it’s a disability that’s not immediately obvious, it may be better to wait – although you might impede your own ability to enjoy workplace accommodations in exchange.

Handle Interview Questions Professionally

Finally, when you go in for an interview, and if you have a visible disability or have disclosed your disability, try to be ready to answer questions related to it. Some interviewers might have concerns and questions, and by showing them that you can not only handle yourself but questions related to your disability, you’ll have the opportunity to prove just how valuable you could be to the company.

While a disability might make certain jobs more of a challenge than others, there will always be positions available for work, and with the right qualifications, you too can secure yourself a great job. Most workplaces are well equipped to handle accommodating for disabilities and medical conditions – and the ones that aren’t might be better off avoided in the long run.

5 Examples of Disabled People Thriving in the Workplace

A disability doesn’t have to spell the end of your career, or prevent you from embarking on one.

If we look, we can find plenty of examples of people with disabilities who were able to achieve great things. Stephen Hawking, for example, and Stevie Wonder were both able to rise above their challenges and make tremendous achievements. Even famed composer Mozart is believed to have had a disability, while Beethoven composed what is said to have been his greatest music while he was almost completely deaf.

Today, people with disabilities not only hold jobs, but also thrive in their roles. It’s true that not all employers are aware of the benefits that can come from employing a person with disabilities, but the fact remains that there are plenty of people with disabilities succeeding in their work environment, starting businesses, and contributing to their communities.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few real-life success stories of people with disabilities not only working, but also thriving in their careers today!

Meet David

Securing employment might not seem like a big deal, but to some, it can mean everything. Meet David, who was able to secure a job as an Office Maintenance Aid for the City of Seattle. After a lot of hard work volunteering and building his resume, David is now able to help with tasks like data entry. He hopes to continue to build his skills, and expand his work hours with the city.

Meet Laila

Another inspirational story, Laila has been employed with Microsoft for over 20 years now. Not only has she managed to secure long-term employment working for one of the world’s largest tech companies, she also takes pride in her work, dedication, and accomplishments within the company. Her knack for numbers means her work is accurate as she is able to quickly sort mail and office memos. She takes pleasure in finding and correcting errors that help to keep the company running smoothly. While Laila appreciates a job and satisfaction that comes from being a professional, her coworkers appreciate her hard work and dedication.

Meet Kelly

Kelly’s disability is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 3. Because of this she uses a wheelchair on a daily basis, and has since she was 11. But Kelly hasn’t let her disability hold her back in the workplace, though she wasn’t always this way.

“At secondary school, I wasn’t studious in the slightest,” Kelly says “I didn’t apply myself and, to be honest, the only thing I tried to do was to NOT be clever, but to instead be as rebellious as possible.” As the years went on, thanks to the pushing of her friends and family, Kelly began to push herself too. It was only after a year of trying that she landed her first job, and much to her surprise, she loved it.

From there Kelly would go on to become a business owner. She also works with charities and companies to talk openly about disability; shedding light on the problems and obstacles, as well as awesome experiences that people with disabilities face every day.

Meet Maggie

Maggie enjoys staying busy and has had several successful jobs in her community. She currently holds a position as an office manager at AMP Agency. Maggie says that when she focuses on her work, she feels better about herself. AMP’s CEO Gary Colen says that the jobs that Maggie performs are necessary and beneficial in building the business; he also adds that Maggie is never late and is a great worker.

Meet Ryan

Ryan has been interested in nature since he was a small child, once asking only for plants for his birthday. He describes himself as a positive person, and has found his calling as a caretaker for rose bushes; a very specialized job. One missed disease can mean the loss of the flower and in some cases, even the entire plant.

“He is more knowledgeable than a lot of my students because he wants to learn,” says Jim Callender, Ryan’s teacher and job coach. “He has bred himself into a knowledgeable person. He strives to learn.”

Don’t let your disability stop you from reaching your dreams. It may take hard work, but with the right support system and a firm resolution, you too can embark on a career; one that will leave you feeling happy and fulfilled.

How to Turn Your Disability Into an Advantage

The Special Olympics motto is a great one: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” While it’s referring to competition, it can also be applied to challenges that arise in everyday life, as well as in the workplace.

Having a disability might make the job more challenging and could make finding work more difficult, but the entire process, from seeking employment, to getting hired, to working, can be done in a way that shows others that despite what some may think, your disability does not have to hold you back, or stop you from reaching your dreams.

It can be challenging, but with a resolute determination and relentless commitment to your goals, you can achieve great things. With this in mind, let’s look at a few ways that you can accomplish your goals; and even turn your disability into an advantage.

Own It

While having a disability can be difficult to come to terms with; working towards owing your disability and learning to view it as a special advantage that others don’t have, can help to give you a unique perspective and outlook on life.

“I have learned that I have a different ability not a disability,” says Jerry, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism, and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

Owning your disability and using it to your advantage will give you the upper hand, not only in the workplace but in life as well. Think of Paralympians who have gone on to beat records held by non-Paralympic athletes, or amazing pianists who are able to impress us with their music, despite being blind. Don’t try to hide your disability, or make excuses for it, instead, work towards owning it, and using it to do great things.

Leave Your Mark

Don’t feel that your disability has to stop you from reaching your dreams.

While there are some things that you may not be able to do, the truth is that this is the case for anyone. What’s important isn’t being able to do everything, but rather finding your true calling; that thing that you love more than anything, and that you can work towards excelling in. Of course, there will always be those who doubt, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Instead, you should take their doubt as an opportunity to show them just what you can do.

Do Something Amazing

One way for people with disabilities to change the world, is by becoming an advocate for other people with disabilities.

“Seeing someone in public with a disability should not be a surprise and it’s up to those of us with disabilities to get out there to change that perspective,” writes blogger WheelerWife. “Wish there wasn’t job discrimination when you went to an interview? Would like to be able to access any building in your community without barriers? Wish transportation was easier and more accommodating of your mobility equipment? While we may not be able to change all of these things just by ourselves, each time we get out there, we raise awareness and the collective consciousness that we, too are an important part of society and deserve the same access. And we, too can and will accomplish great things.”


Even the strongest doubters will believe by seeing. So why not get out there and show them just what you can do? Anyone can talk the talk, but walking the walk is what separates the truth from the lies. Watching you thrive and succeed can be the change that many people need to see. While it might not always be easy, proving that you can reach your dreams is the best way to turn your disability into an advantage. Use your disability to help show others how to succeed, in spite of any obstacles that they might face.

Remember: no one is good at everything. Instead of feeling discouraged because of something that you can’t do, instead focus on doing what you can. Work at it, practice, and excel. By doing your part, you can inspire others, and achieve greatness yourself.

5 Steps for Identifying Your Strengths

While it’s easy to look at some people and feel that they have it together; that they’re super-talented at everything they do, and nothing’s too difficult for them, the truth is that every single person has things that they’re good at; and areas where they’re not quite so skilled.

Often, we spend our time focusing on the things we’re not very good at, or areas where we feel we’re lacking, working to improve those areas. But while there’s nothing wrong with making improvements, all-too-often we do so at the expense of neglecting those areas where we’re already excelling.

This is unfortunate, since spending some time focusing on things that we’re good at can help us to fine-tune those strengths even more. By taking the time to identify what, exactly it is that you’re skilled at, or interested in, can help you to hone in on those strengths, and work to grow them even more. Additionally, narrowing in on your strengths is a good way to find a job where you can succeed; a place where your time and efforts would be best spent.

If you’d like to identify your strengths, here are a few areas to consider and questions that you’ll want to ask yourself.

1. What Are You Passionate About?

What makes you come alive? What gets you up in the morning and spurs you onward? These are the things that make you tick, and there’s a good chance that your strengths also lie where your passions do. After all, you enjoy the things that you do for a reason, so instead of ignoring these areas or treating them as hobbies or downtime, consider asking yourself why you are drawn to them in the first place. What it is about them that makes you excited? Once you’ve pinpointed what it is about those things that you enjoy, you’ll be able to work from there, narrowing down your strengths.

2. What Do Those Closest to You Say?

Sometimes it can be difficult to pick up on our own strengths. After all, it requires a lot of brutal honesty; something that is often hard to give ourselves. If you’re uncertain, try making a list of what you think your strengths might be, and then start asking your friends and family for their thoughts. Do their ideas match yours? What areas do they consider to be your strengths? Are they right? Sometimes seeking an outsider’s perspective can reveal something that was there right in front of us all along.

3. What Successes Have You Had?

Next, you should consider your successes. What areas have you already excelled in? What jobs or duties did you perform to make those achievements? Perhaps your strengths aren’t hidden that far away after all! Ask yourself if the areas where you’ve had great success coincide with your interests. If so, you could be onto something!

4. What Comes Naturally to You?

You should also pay close attention to things that you do with ease. These are the duties that you can perform and tasks that you can do with little to no effort, they come naturally to you. You don’t have to think every step over, you just do it. Further, pay close attention to how you feel when you accomplish these tasks. Do you feel energized? Happy? A desire to do it all over again? Things that come naturally to you are your strong points. If you’re not sure where to start, find an education planner tool and see what type of career options are available, based on your skills, or talk things over with a career coach. Remember, don’t downplay your strengths, instead embrace them! Concentrating on your strengths will bring a tremendous sense of fulfillment.

5. What Are Your Soft Skills?

Soft skills are personal attributes that allow you to interact and work with other people. Soft skills are part of your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), not your IQ, but they’re very important nonetheless. You can always learn a new skill, but having patience to handle the position, for example, isn’t something that can be taught. Some of these skills can include things such as being optimistic, being patient, or being a good listener. Your soft skills can help you to determine what job position you might apply for, or perhaps, what jobs you should look for. Consider your soft skills to be a tremendous strength. While these skills aren’t necessary for every job; they are very important in some lines of work.

Instead of focusing on what we can’t do, it’s important to focus on what we can. Identifying your strengths can help you to know where you should focus your efforts, and your job search, and will also give you invaluable skills and attributes for you to list on your resume; all things that employers look out for!

5 Steps to Find Targeted Jobs

While determining what you’d like to do is a great first step, once you’ve identified what your ideal job options are, then comes the job search.

Seeking out those job opportunities involves diligence, persistence, and a lot of hard work; but by performing a targeted job search, you can increase your chances at finding the right job for you; one that you’ll be happy with.

Performing a targeted job search can also eliminate the stress of sending out hundreds of applications, only to end up getting stuck in the wrong area of work. By identifying your specific job, and applying only to openings that are in your field, you can tailor your approach to be more strategic, improving your strategy, managing your time better, and of course, helping to ensure that you end up with a job that’s a perfect match for you.

If you’d like to increase your chances of job-hunting success, here’s a look at five steps that you can take to find targeted jobs.

1. Profile Your Ideal Company

Ideally, you should be able to profile your ideal company in a few sentences. Identifying the type of companies that you’d like to work for can help you to more easily find identify other, similar companies during your job search. Knowing what you want to do is important, but understanding who you want to work for matters as well.

Narrowing down your ideal company can be done by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • Geography: Where is your ideal company located? Are you looking for something local or are you looking to branch out and move to a different location? If so, how far would you realistically be willing to go?
  • Industry: Knowing exactly what industry you want to get into and what line of work you’d like to be in as will help you to narrow down which jobs you should apply for. Remember to be specific in your answers.
  • Organization: What type of organization are you looking to get involved with? Are you looking for a well-established and connected job? Or would you be happy working for a startup? While a larger organization may offer more benefits and oftentimes better pay, startups will likely offer greater flexibility, and could provide a more rounded work experience.

2. Manage Your Online Presence

If you are targeting a specific job, then one of the best things you can do is polish your online presence. This will prove to be invaluable if a potential employer researches you, and can help to increase the chances of you being found by a potential employer as well. LinkedIn in particular is an excellent social media account for finding work, connecting with others that you’ve worked with, listing your work experience, and helping to increase your chances of getting hired. You can even connect with companies directly on LinkedIn. Be sure to polish your other social media profiles as well, or consider adjusting the privacy settings to include only friends. If a potential employer were to see your profile, what type of impression would they get?

3. Do Your Research

Research is perhaps the most important step in finding a targeted job. Research the company you are looking to apply for, research the job itself, and determine whether you would be a good fit. Do you have the required skills? Do you have the right qualifications or the equivalent work experience? Check the listing to see what’s required, and only apply to jobs that are a good fit for you. Once you’ve done your research, you will be able to tailor your resume and cover letter to show how you’re the ideal candidate, increasing your chances of success.

4. Tailor Your Resume

Tailoring your resume for each job that you apply for can greatly increase your chances of securing an interview. Before you send off that resume, take time to look it over, and make adjustments. Be sure to include skills, areas of work experience, and certifications and qualifications that are relevant for the job at hand. Similarly, make sure you tailor your cover letter as well. Take the time to craft an email or letter that makes a good first impression. Here’s a helpful guide for creating winning cover letters.

5. Manage Your Time Efficiently

Finally, job searching can take up a lot of time, so make sure you’re working efficiently. For example, don’t waste time researching a company that isn’t hiring or one that you already know won’t be a good fit for you. Instead, spend your time finding the right company, applying for jobs that you know will be a great fit, and tailoring your resume. Don’t feel bad spending your time on relevant tasks. After all, a targeted job search is the best way to find a great job!

5 Steps to Find Target Employers

According to a recent Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans are disengaged at work, or worse.

“Many people in the world hate their job and especially their boss,” says Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO at Gallup.

This troubling statistic is indicative of a big problem, not only for employers but employees as well. If you are going to devote that much time, effort, and energy to something, then you should make sure you enjoy it.

Is it possible to have a job you enjoy; one that you love getting up for in the morning? Fortunately, it is possible to find a job you not only tolerate, but also love.

How can you go about finding your dream job? You look for it, of course.

More specifically, you target it. Instead of applying for any job opportunity that opens up, you seek out those specific employers that you would want to work for, and not just anyone that comes along. Targeting your employer means doing your research and homework.

It will require a lot more work upfront, but it’s worth it if it means you’ll end up with a job that will leave you feeling happy and satisfied.

Wondering how to target your next employer? Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can find employers that you’d be happy to work for.

1. Target by Industry

Targeting by industry is a good place to start. You can browse popular career sites such as Indeed or Simply Hired to see different companies in your industry that are hiring. While you’re at it, head over to Glassdoor, and have a look at company reviews. You can even view salaries; so you know what a fair wage is, and can make sure the company that hires you is one that fully appreciates your skills and is willing to compensate you fairly.

2. Target by Location

Looking for employers by location can either expand your search efforts or narrow them down, depending on where you see yourself. If you are up for moving across the country, then expand your research to include ideal locations. If you want to stay closer to home, then start looking in local newspapers and local websites; or tailor your search on Indeed or Simply Hired by specifying your local area.

3. Turn to LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social media that doubles as a job site. But it won’t be of much use to you until you build your profile. Sign up and create a strong profile, listing your skills, qualifications, and work experience. Then, join groups that are related to your industry. Share articles, and start networking. Some 70% of jobs are found through networking; making LinkedIn an especially valuable resource. Once you grow your list of connections, you’ll be able to increase your chances of finding work.

4. Ask Friends for Recommendations

Remember, you aren’t asking for a job, you are asking for recommendations. Your friends and colleagues know you, and they know other people as well. By asking them for recommendations, you open the door to a whole new pool of people that you otherwise might not have been able to connect with.

5. Research, Research, Research

Any time you find a job that sounds interesting or receive a referral, take the time to research the company in question. While receiving job offers can be flattering, don’t get so caught up in the moment that you neglect taking the time to vet the company first. Be sure to use Glassdoor to see what other people’s experiences have been with the company, and then make an informed decision.

Remember: your goal is to find a job that’s a good fit for you; not just any job. Just make sure you’re willing to put in the time and effort that’s required. With diligence, persistence, and plenty of work, that dream job could be yours.

How to Reach Out to Potential Employers

There’s no doubt about it: first impressions matter.

When it comes to reaching out to a potential employer, whether it’s by email or in-person, your success will depend largely upon the type of impression you’re able to make in the first few seconds. Experts suggest that you have 7 seconds to make or break it. After that, your fate is pretty much sealed. How you conduct yourself or compose your email will set the course for how well you’re received.

With this in mind, let’s look at a few tips for reaching out to potential employers, and making a winning first impression.

Reaching Out Online

With so many companies today maintaining a web presence and advertising vacancies online, reaching out online is becoming an increasingly preferred method of communication. It’s also a great way to break the ice and introduce yourself rather than calling or just showing up out of the blue.

Just because you are reaching out online though, doesn’t mean you need to be any less professional than you’d be in-person. In both cases, you are making a first impression, laying the groundwork, and opening up potential doors to further interviews, and it’s important to make that very first impression count.

Tip: Write Well and Proofread
You might think that reaching out online would be the easier option, but this doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down. Make sure that your message is well-written, and be sure to reread your email to ensure that it flows well, is grammatically correct, and doesn’t contain any typos. Remember, you have just a few seconds to grab attention, stand out, and make your first impression, so make your words count.

With anything you send, ensure that you provide all of your contact details. For email, include your signature and your phone number in the body of the email. After all, if they have to do research to get in touch with you, there’s a chance that they’ll pass you over in favor of another candidate.

Reaching Out In-Person

Oftentimes initial contact is made online, whether it’s via email, through a job-board, or through LinkedIn, however sometimes, your first point of contact with a potential employer will be in-person. While a lot of the same concepts apply for in-person meetings and online messages, making a first impression, in person, requires a few extra steps.

Tip: Be Confident and Professional
Just as polishing and refining your email and online correspondence is crucial for making a great first impression, having a put-together and polished appearance is important in-person as well. Be sure to dress well, and look to make a good impression. Arrive on time, speak confidently, and try to be aware of the body language that you convey. Most employers will be understanding about a little ‘stage fright’ during the interview process, but being calm and confident can help you to make a great first impression. Exude confidence by researching the company and the position that you’re applying for ahead of time, so that you’re well-informed, and brush up on your employment history, qualifications, skills, and accomplishments so that you’ll be well-prepared to answer any questions that arise.

Finally, no matter how you choose to reach up, just make sure you comply with instructions. So if it’s an online application, avoid sending in a paper resume, if you’re supposed to email, avoid showing up in-person. They’ll appreciate that you followed the rules, and the entire process will go much more smoothly.

Regardless of how you choose to contact a potential employer, make sure that you are asking about a job that you have the qualifications for. If you meet the requirements and can demonstrate why you’re a good fit for the job, then you can go into the interview or meeting with confidence that you’re the right person for the position; something that you’ll be able to convey to your potential employer.

7 Interviewing Tips

When it comes to interviews, it’s easy to feel that the results are completely out of your hands. But the truth is there’s a lot that you can do to prepare yourself and help increase the chances of the interview going in your favor.

While the interview process might be daunting, by taking some time before you go to familiarize yourself with the process, the position, and the potential questions that may arise, you can help to make the entire process a lot less stressful.

Whether this is your first or tenth interview, approaching it with confidence and a professional attitude is key to helping to tip the odds in your favor. With this in mind, let’s look at a few things that you can do to bring your A-game to the interview.

1. Do Your Homework

First things first. Make sure you’ve done your homework on the company and the position you are applying for before you head in. Having a good understanding of what you are getting into, and some solid questions lined up can help to make a good first impression on your potential employer. It’s also a good idea to try to form some connections between the company and yourself; to demonstrate how you’re right the position that you are applying for.

2. Dress for Success

Your outfit is one of the first things that an interviewer will notice, so it’s worth taking some time to get this right. Make sure you dress appropriately for the position and company you are applying for, and choose an outfit that’s basic and conservative. Likewise, make sure your look is well-groomed and polished. Generally speaking, manicured nails, a recent haircut, and polished shoes will help you to look professional, and feel your best as well.

3. Know Your Resume

If you put something on your resume, you should be ready to respond to any questions related to it. Make sure you know your resume inside and out, and can easily answer any questions your potential employer may have. This includes things pertaining to your prior experience, your references, and anything else you may have included.

4. Arrive on Time

Try to arrive a few minutes early. Rushing to get to the interview on time can leave you frazzled and unnerved. Make sure you have plenty of time to get there so that you can walk in confidently.

5. Be Positive, Confident, and Focused

When it comes to the interview itself, it’s important to be confident in your capabilities, knowledge, and skills. Try to answer any questions in a confident and upbeat way, while remaining focused and on-track. Avoid getting off topic and look to provide answers that are succinct and to the point. Finally, never speak badly about previous jobs or employers, doing so could reflect badly on you.

6. Remember Your Body Language

Making eye contact, smiling, and having good posture can help you to come across as confident and capable. Refrain from fidgeting, chewing gum, or mumbling. Speak clearly and with confidence. Don’t slouch in your chair, and practice active listening. Be aware of what you’re communicating through your body language. For example, crossing your arms and legs could convey that you’re feeling defensive. Your nonverbal presentation and behavior speaks as loudly, if not louder than your actual speech so try to think your movements through ahead of time.

7. Ask Questions

Be sure to research the company and position ahead of time, and prepare some questions that you can ask during the interview. Asking relevant, well-informed questions shows that you are not only interested in the company, but that you’ve done your homework ahead of time as well. It also speaks to the fact that you’re capable, knowledgeable, and eager to learn.

While the interview process can be daunting, whether it’s your first time or twentieth, the truth is that it does get easier with practice. By following the above tips, and looking to incorporate them into your interviews, you’ll be able to demonstrate your competence and qualifications for the job, showing your potential employer why they should hire you.

How to Manage Workplace Culture Dynamics

While they’re often overlooked in training manuals, there’s no denying that workplace dynamics and politics are very real, and important.

The truth is that every company has its own unique dynamics that combine to create the company culture. Every workplace is different and has its own rules, different people, and unique challenges. Often, your ability to succeed and thrive in your role will come down to how well you’re able to navigate the company culture.

From office etiquette to politics and culture, navigating the workplace culture of a new job can be daunting. But don’t feel overwhelmed. The first few days at a job are often the most difficult. Once you’ve met your coworkers, and had a chance to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, things will start to become a lot easier.

Often your key to success –and how well you’re able to get along with your new coworkers and supervisors alike will come down to awareness, respect, and politeness. With this in mind, here’s a look at a few different aspects of workplace culture, and tips for navigating and excelling in each one.

Corporate Culture

Corporate culture refers to the basic assumptions, understandings, and behavior that influence actions in the workplace. The workplace culture of your company will impact a number of areas of your job including employee interaction, dress code, communication methods, and management style; how you’ll interact with your manager. While it can be tricky to know exactly how you should respond or behave when you first arrive on the job, it’s important to pay attention to both written rules and guidelines, and informal, more subtle cues that you gather from others. If you’re uncertain about what generally happens in a certain area, don’t hesitate to ask your manager for advice.

Office Politics

Office politics are part and parcel of working together in a shared space. They can be difficult to manage at first, but eventually you’ll find that navigating these unspoken rules becomes second nature.

Here’s a look at a few tips for navigating office politics:

  • Try to compliment and not criticize
  • Take a positive approach
  • Look for the best in others
  • Learn to disagree without disrespecting
  • Stay above the gossip
  • Be helpful
  • Let your work speak for itself

Office Etiquette

When it comes down to it, having good workplace etiquette will help you to make a great first impression. While office etiquette will vary considerably from workplace to workplace, here’s a look at some practices that are generally welcome in the workplace:

  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Be considerate of others and their workloads
  • Return calls and emails in a timely manner
  • Avoid inappropriate humor
  • Use a quiet tone when speaking
  • Don’t make cell phone calls in common areas
  • Be mindful of foods or sprays that have a strong scent
  • Knock before entering someone’s cubicle or office
  • Keep your space tidy
  • Clean up after yourself in the communal kitchen

Different Communication Styles

If you think back, chances are that many of the stressful interactions that you’ve had with different people are largely due to different communication styles. Different people communicate differently, and it’s important to look for ways to communicate with your teammates in a way that resonates with them.

When communicating, try to remember the three L’s:

  • Listen actively and try to assume best intent
  • Learn from generalizations, but supplement with your own personal observations
  • Look at the situation from both an insider and outsider’s perspective

These tools can help you to avoid potential misunderstandings and conflict.

Different Generations at Work

These days, it’s easy to find people from three or four different generations working for the same company. It can work well; especially when coworkers recognize that each generation has its own unique outlook and expectations. For example, Baby Boomers are typically motivated by security and upward mobility, while Millennials tend to be driven by meaningful work. By being aware of differences between generations, you’ll be better able to forge better working relationships with your co-workers.

While the first few days and even weeks on a job are often the most difficult, they’re crucial to your success. Look to invest some time learning about the company culture and politics, try to pay attention to important yet subtle social cues, and then strive to do your best in every situation that arises. Your hard work will pay off, getting you off to the best possible start in your new job and helping you to forge good working relationships with your teammates.

Should You Start Your Own Business?

While the idea of being your own boss is something that appeals to most of us, the truth is there’s more to running a business than being able to set your own hours.

Successfully running your own company requires hard work, careful planning, and dedication; and it’s important to make sure you’re going into it for the right reasons, and with a clear idea about everything that’s involved.

With only 20 percent of new businesses surviving past their first year, getting this right is key and essential for your success. If you’re thinking of starting your own business, you owe it to yourself to get off to the best start possible. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few things you’ll want to ensure, before you venture out into the great unknown.

While the idea of being your own boss is something that appeals to most of us, the truth is there’s more to running a business than being able to set your own hours.

Successfully running your own company requires hard work, careful planning, and dedication; and it’s important to make sure you’re going into it for the right reasons, and with a clear idea about everything that’s involved.

With only 20 percent of new businesses surviving past their first year, getting this right is key and essential for your success. If you’re thinking of starting your own business, you owe it to yourself to get off to the best start possible. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few things you’ll want to ensure, before you venture out into the great unknown.

You Have a Solid Business Idea

First things first, every good business starts with a solid idea. Never fly blindly in hopes of making an idea work, or assuming that you’ll figure it out as you go along, instead take the time to flesh the idea out, and explore every avenue and possibility before you launch. Do surveys, conduct market research, and validate your idea. Make sure there’s a demand for your product or service, never operate on assumptions alone.

You’re Prepared for All of the Work

Yes, the ability to set your own hours is one benefit of running your own business, but many prospective business owners don’t realize that when they first start their company, they’ll have to put in a lot of hours. Running your own company requires diligence and hard work, and often burning the candle at both ends. It involves stepping up to the plate and doing most of the tasks yourself, until you reach a point where you’re able to bring on help. Far from being a walk in the park, it’s a lot of hard work, at least while you’re getting it up and running. Make sure you’re prepared to put in the hours, before you make the jump.

You’re Not Running Away

When it comes to starting up your own company, it’s important that you’re going into it for the right reasons, and not just as a ‘way out’ of a current situation. Make sure you have a solid business idea, and are launching products or services that are in-demand –and that it’s not just a case of looking to escape the 9-5.

You Create Your Own Success

Successful entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they create their own opportunities. As Jon Burgstone, author of Breakthrough Entrepreneurship: The Proven Framework for Building Brilliant New Businesses says, “Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option, and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available.”

You Enjoy Responsibility

If you enjoy taking on responsibility, then you might be cut out to own your own business. Owning your own company doesn’t mean passing the buck, it does mean stepping up and making things happen, as well as being able to take the blame when things go wrong.

You Have the Necessary Experience and Resources

Finally, while it should go without saying, before you start your own company, it’s important to make sure you have the right resources. Turning your idea into something profitable isn’t for the faint of heart, and you need to be prepared to take the helm, or outsource as-needed. Bookkeeping, payroll, taxes, business licenses, and marketing are a few key areas have to handle, or be able to outsource, so make sure you’re fully prepared before you launch.

While running your own business requires diligence and a lot of hard work, the truth is that it can be extremely rewarding too. If you’re cut out for owning your own business, then you’ll find it to be tremendously exciting and fulfilling. Just make sure you go into it with realistic expectations, and that you know what to expect right from the start.