Ok, so... January is almost over and you are struggling with continuing to get in shape and pay off the holiday credit. (You're in good company! I'm right there with you!) Have you taken a few moments to figure out how to make yourself a better candidate for a new job opportunity in 2014?

Whether or not you are currently employed, take a moment to think about self improvement. What did you do in 2013 in order to make yourself more valuable to the company you work for, your manager, or your future employer?

Many people expect that they have the right to be promoted/hired while doing nothing out of the ordinary. Those individuals getting promoted are doing quite a bit out of the ordinary of their everyday job. Some ideas may be:

-Take a class in your field. Better, enroll towards a higher level degree than what you currently have! In my years of recruiting, I have never heard someone being passed over on a promotion for having too much education. It's never too late, and there are many online courses to assist older students with families and careers in completing collegiate degrees.

-Start a blog. Get intricately familiar with your subject of choice! Your writing and communication skills are sure to improve! Talk to them. Maybe even help them too! You can start a local networking event if you know enough people from various industries.

-Get involved in your community. Becoming a more well-rounded person makes you a better employee.

-Most importantly, make sure your attendance is impeccable! Nobody likes a pilot who cancels at 3 am before a flight! Stay until the job gets done. Put in 100%, consistently, every day.

Let's set the bar higher for 2014! No more mediocrity. Let's show the world how it's done and all get promoted!!!
Today, I took on the undertaking of all undertakings! I decided to peel the wallpaper from our half bath. Now, allow me to explain that this is not only the smallest room in my home, but one of the smallest rooms I had ever seen. Until I got started... 

Now, everyone knows about the heaping plate of spaghetti which you can eat for hours and not make a dent in? That was my 4 wall inferno! To explain further, I am not someone who enjoys manual labor. I am not reveling in an almost finished product. (I lost all feeling in my dominant hand and needed to stop.) Understand that, at 5'3", I was not doing well at getting the wallpaper saturated close to the ceiling. In fact, where I left off were the uppermost corners. I took a couple of risky moves all around: risking my manicure (I'm girly!), stepping on what I didn't realize was a very wet vanity, and just being on a ladder in general is not typically a safe bet with me being more klutzy than most.

So...where are we going here? Today, I appreciated what painters do (and why they charge so much) more than I ever thought possible! Having pulled out mature plants from my yard, laid 20 or more bags of mulch, and now, scraped (most of) a room of wallpaper, I have an increased respect for those working physically hard to make a living. It's tough! I could have called my painter. But I figured I'd save some money and put in some sweat equity. I also did not realize that, while it's not the toughest job, it's the opposite of fun! 

Additionally, when I hear people who tell me they can/will do "anything" for a job, I realize that first, they are coming off as exceptionally desperate, and secondly, while I technically could peel wallpaper, there is no way on this side of hell that I plan on doing that a second time over! Ever! If we ever look at a new house, it will be wallpaper free prior to move-in. I could, but I won't, and that's something that unemployed people must be aware of!

And in case you are wondering, HGTV is very misleading. It takes more than 30 minutes to renovate the walls in a microscopic bathroom!

What separates me as a blogger, author, and subject matter expert in career counseling from you as a job seeker? Knowing the expectation of the interviewer on the other side of the table. Or the purchaser of the sale you are trying to make. Or the person with whom I am networking.

From my years of experience, I am able to truly understand what the other person is looking for. That involves reading my audience, as well as presenting myself not only as an individual, but as a brand! Every time I am interested in doing business with a client or candidate, I am distinguishing myself as a brand.

My personal brand is multifaceted. Some of the areas I intend to highlight without saying such include:

-Excellent communication skills and interpersonal relational development
-Knowledge of market trends and salaries
-A solid understanding of the hiring process including things many people are unaware of
-The ability to succinctly highlight skills on a resume in a way appealing to a hiring manager

Think about a handful of areas for which you want to be known. Develop a mini-marketing campaign including a 30-second, 1 minute, and 5 minute overview of you. What are your strengths? What successes have you demonstrated at work, in school, or at volunteer roles? Think accurately and positively, and put pen to paper. Knowing how to set yourself apart can help, whether you are asking for a promotion, selling something, or navigating a high volume job fair!

I am consistently fascinated by people who mock interview with me! From entry level professionals to individuals who have worked in their careers for extensive lengths of time, people don’t know what they are capable of providing to an employer. And that is a little bit scary!

I understand that you may not be best suited to the weakness question (article coming soon on how to address those types of questions). However, in the interim, you should be well aware of some benefits which you are able to offer an organization. What has your boss said about you that was positive? What did you contribute to a company? Did you increase revenue? Decrease costs? Improve customer satisfaction? What benefit will a future company receive from your work ethic, knowledge, skills, and personality?

Know a contribution that you made to a company. Share examples that make you who you are. Have a one minute sales pitch about yourself that will speak to your effectiveness and ability to go above and beyond the job for which you are interviewing.