Finishing 2021 STRONG with High-Performance Coach Ellie Fernandez

Finishing 2021 STRONG

Ellie Fernandez is sharing her best ideas on how to finish the year strong!

Get her incredible tips for prioritizing your task, tracking your habits, giving yourself the self-care you need, acknowledging your accomplishments, and more…

With only one month left in the year is time to prepare yourself to FINISH STRONG to start 2022 even STRONGER! 💪🏼

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How to Forgive Yourself and Start Moving Forward

“The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself.” Confucius.

Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to let go of feelings of anger, resentment, and retribution toward someone who you believe has wronged you. However, while you may be pretty generous in your ability to forgive others, you may be much harder on yourself.

 

Forgiving yourself means that you accept your behavior. You accept what has happened, and you are willing to move past it and move on with your life without ruminating over past events that cannot be changed.

 

Making peace with yourself and moving forward is often easier said than done. Being able to forgive yourself requires empathy, compassion, kindness, and understanding. 

 

Here are 7 tips you can try the next time you want to forgive yourself.

 

1- It’s okay to feel guilty

When we learn to experience guilty feelings to receive information, we are already healing from our mistakes. The emotion of guilt lets us know that our actions or behaviors conflict with our values and beliefs, and it also helps us repair the damage that might remain thanks to our wrongdoing or accident.

 

2- Focus on your emotions

One of the first steps in learning how to forgive yourself is to focus on your emotions. Before moving forward, you need to acknowledge and process your feelings. Give yourself permission to recognize and accept the feelings that have been triggered in you.

But, understand the difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt serves a purpose, and shame does not. With regret, you tend to understand exactly what you did wrong, why you made a mistake, and how to repair the situation. There’s nothing left to do, and shame is a bit trickier. With shame, you can feel like you’re underneath a pile-on, with no way to climb out, which is not a helpful way to heal.

 

3- Admit you messed up

Everyone struggles with admitting they’ve done something terrible, but denial is how people get themselves into even deeper trouble. Often, we use denial to protect ourselves from the negative emotions of shame and guilt. And while it may be more comfortable to believe that we haven’t done anything wrong, ignoring a problem does not make it disappear. At some point, you’re going to have to claim your mistakes for what they are: not your proudest moments, but part of your evolution towards becoming a better person.

 

4- Identify the mistake and focus on correcting the problem

Analyze the situation and see just exactly what caused the undesired outcome.  It could have been a simple typo; it could have been procrastination, it could have been a misunderstanding, it could have been an omission, etc.  Whatever the source of the problem, we need to identify it as clearly and thoroughly as possible.

Implement a new system to avoid omissions, determine where our scheduling technique broke down, etc.  Ensure that you have implemented a solution that should prevent the same (or a very similar) mistake from recurring.  Be proud of this accomplishment –it enables us let go of our disappointment, guilt, frustration, fear, anger, etc.

 

5- Have a conversation with your inner critic

Journaling can help you understand your inner critic and develop self-compassion. Writing out a “conversation” between you and your inner critic can help you identify thought patterns that are sabotaging your ability to forgive yourself.

You can also use journaling time to make a list of the qualities you like about yourself, including your strengths and skills. This can help boost your self-confidence when you’re feeling down about a mistake you made.

 

6- Imagine what forgiveness would feel like

One thing we can do is visualize a scene in which we are forgiven. How does your body feel?,  What actions would you take? A vivid imagining of how forgiveness would feel, both inside and out, can help true self-forgiveness come to fruition.

Next, write yourself an apology. Include how you offered remorse to others and how you plan to make amends. Ask yourself what you’ll do differently next time, and then, if you like, read what you’ve written out loud.

 

7- Apologize to anyone you may have hurt

Of course, your first impulse will probably be to mend relationships or trust that’s been breached. The only way to do this correctly is to step fully into your guilt and admit fault.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Forgive: stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

Forget: fail to remember.

Influence: influence on.



PHRASAL VERBS

Pass over: to ignore a person and give a better job to a younger or less experienced person.

Let somebody off: not to punish someone.

Come back: to return to a place or a conversation topic.

 

IDIOMS 📒

To err is human, to forgive divine: all people commit sins and make mistakes, and God forgives them, and people are acting in a godlike (holy) way when they forgive.

Let bygones be bygones: forgive someone for something done (or for a disagreement) and forget about it.

Turn a deaf ear: refuse to listen.

 

 

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It’s time to advance your career!

“It’s not what you achieve; it’s what you overcome. That’s what defines your career.” —Carlton Fisk.

It is essential to develop your career plan as it gives you the much-needed direction and makes it clear where you see yourself in the future. It makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses and the skills and knowledge required to achieve your goals in the future.

A large proportion of our lives is spent achieving our career goals; thus, it is crucial to ensure proper steps are taken and correct planning is done.

So, let’s check six things you can do to take control of your career development.

 

1- Self-reflect

Are you happy with the path you’ve taken so far? Are you in the right industry and role? Knowing that is the first step to creating a way to get there.

Set aside some time to reflect on who you are, where you’ve been, and what you ultimately want from your working life.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to talk about things loosely and not establish clear next steps. Without clearly defined steps and ownership, it’s easy for plans to fail and progress to be lacking.

Writing it down provides a record to reflect on over time and will help you stay on top of making progress.

 

2- Break your goal into small pieces

Getting a promotion, a big raise, or reaching an important goal at work does not happen overnight. Take the time to think about your career growth and break down your goal into the steps you can take to get there. Set goals and create a plan to achieve them.

Brainstorming ways to learn new skills, future projects to get involved in specifically, and mentorship opportunities can build a healthy list of bite-size steps to reach your goals. You can then pick them off one by one as they make sense to achieve regular, incremental progress.

 

3- Check-in at a high level how you’re doing

Top performers constantly learn and adjust and routinely seek feedback from their boss, peers, and subordinates. If your boss doesn’t proactively give you feedback, start the conversation yourself. After a presentation or big meeting, state one thing you think went well and then ask for advice on one thing you could improve. 

Ask your manager things like:

Do you feel my skills are improving in the areas we identified as weaknesses?

What are the most significant barriers I still have to the next promotion, raise, etc.?

How have I performed on recent projects we’ve identified as necessary to my growth?

 

4- Focus on continual learning

You live, and you learn. No matter how old or wise you get, there are always lessons you can understand.

Multiple ways to experience career growth by investing in your career development and progress are available. Check these examples.

Job shadowing can provide enough information about the different jobs. In job shadowing, the participant also sees and experiences the nuances of how the service is provided and the job performed. 

A lateral move is an opportunity for an employee to expand their career path opportunities because it gives them a chance to develop their skills and network with a new circle of employees and customers. 

Also, the lateral move provides a career path for employees through additional training and new experiences or responsibilities. It may help the employee overcome boredom and dissatisfaction they may have had with the previous position.

Hold book clubs at work to develop knowledge, and share terminology, concepts, and team-building with coworkers.

 

5- Enlist your manager as an ally

Your boss can be a great asset to you. They can help pave the way for getting training money, create opportunities for job shadowing or lateral moves, know about future openings and hiring plans that may fit your goals. They also can spot upcoming projects to get you on to gain experience.

 

6- Find a mentor who can help guide you

One of the most effective ways to advance your career is to consult someone whose career path you admire. Seek a mentor from a different department that you’d like to explore. Leaning on someone else’s experience is a great way to gain knowledge and introduce yourself to other opportunities. But pouncing on someone — “Will you be my mentor?” — is likely to scare them off. So, try to meet informally: in the coffee shop in your company’s lobby, or at the company picnic. Know the person’s bio, and be prepared to ask a few good questions related to their area of expertise. If things go well, you’ll hear, “If I can help you, let me know.” In time, a mentor relationship may develop organically.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Aspiration: a hope or ambition of achieving something.

Career growth: is the process of climbing the ladder during your working life. 

Working life: the part of a person’s life when they do a job or are at work.

Optional: available to be chosen but not obligatory.

Ally: someone that aligns with and supports a cause with another individual or group of people.

 

 

PHRASAL VERBS

Take (someone) on

“When the boss first took me on, he filled me in on what the job involved, but he didn’t tell me I would have to do so much traveling.”

 Pull together

“It’s amazing how much we can get done when we all pull together, isn’t it?”

 Step down / hand over

“I’m 70 years old now, so I think it’s time for me to step down and hand over my company to my son.”

Get ahead

”She wants to get ahead in her career.”

 

 

IDIOMS 📒 

Chief cook and bottle washer: to be the person who is responsible for everything.

 A big cheese: an important person, a leader (usually about business).

 To crack the whip: to make someone work harder by threatening them.

To bring home the bacon: to earn a living for the family.

 Have a lot on your plate: you have a lot of work and responsibilities at the moment.


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Most Common Job Interview Questions part 3

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” — T. Harv Eker

11- What is your dream job?

Ideally, your response to the question should reference some elements of the job at hand. For example, if the position is a salesman job, you might say that your dream job would have a high level of interaction with customers. 

You can also focus on your ideal company culture and work environment. For instance, you might say you’re eager to work in a collaborative environment or to be a part of a passionate team. 

Another option is to frame your answer around the industry. For example, if you are applying for a job at an accounting company, you can mention your passion for numbers. 

12- When can you start?

The best way to answer is to be truthful and clear while providing the employer the earliest possible date that you could realistically and comfortably start the job.

If you’re currently employed, say you’re available to start after your notice period with your current employer ends. Never leave for a new position without giving your current employer proper notice.

If you’re unemployed, you still shouldn’t say you’re available to start the next day, just say you’d need one week to prepare yourself. Saying you’re able to start immediately implies that either this job is your first choice, or that your job search isn’t going very well. This can hurt your negotiating power if you receive a job offer.

After providing your answer, you can ask if that fits their timeline, and you can tell them that you’re willing to discuss and adjust based on their needs, for example, “I’m able to begin my next job two to three weeks after being offered a position. Does that fit with the timeframe you have in mind?”

13- Are you willing to relocate?

If the answer is yes, try focusing on what makes this role special to you and your attachment to its location or situation, you convince the interviewer that you’d fit right in, for example, “I’m really excited about this opportunity and feel I could provide great value in this role. I would definitely be open to relocation and look forward to learning more details around this.”

If you really want the job but struggle to commit to relocating, you have to figure out the best way to break that news to the interviewer without hurting your chances. You’ll need to express your conditions clearly before signing up for something you can’t follow through on later.

However, if you might be open to relocation but don’t love this job enough to move for it, it’s probably best you don’t get it and keep your options open for better opportunities in your area.

But if you actually really like the job but want (or need) a little leeway, consider taking the approach of learning yes, but with the caveat that if possible you’d like to stay where you are—or be compensated if you do move. This way, you set yourself up to discuss your options, should the hiring manager decide they like you enough to be flexible on relocation.

14- What do you like to do outside of work?

This is an interview question that can provide insight into how you’ll fit in with other members of the team; it can also provide insight into your personal priorities. Another purpose of this question, however, may be to gauge how you would react to the unexpected.

Don’t be tempted to fib and claim to enjoy hobbies you don’t. Focus on activities that indicate some sort of growth: skills you’re trying to learn, goals you’re trying to accomplish. Weave those in with personal details. For example, “Work and family accounts for a lot of my time. On the weekends, we like to get out to the beach or the park and enjoy nature. It’s a good way for us to reset before tackling the workweek, and a great way to get exercise. I also really like languages, so I’m using my commute time to learn German.”

15- What is your work style?

What interviewers are trying to understand is how well you’ll fit in with the current company culture. 

Keep your answer personal, humble, honest.

Give strict examples if you can but keep it brief. Take the qualities that you feel will make you stand out and put them into the answer instead. You can emphasize the qualities of your work that you appreciate as well.

There are a few traits that can be used to describe a person’s approach.

Cooperative workers do best when they are part of a group. They enjoy bouncing ideas off of others and incorporating feedback. Additionally, diplomacy and relationship-building are common skills for these professionals.

Independents tend to have a lot of self-discipline and may have strong research and problem-solving skills, allowing them to find their own answers when they encounter obstacles.

Another pairing is whether you consider yourself creative or logical. 

Creative types may be better equipped to find unique solutions to problems. They also tend to be thoughtful, highly emotionally aware, and very expressive.

A logical person may be more detail- or data-oriented. Strategic thinking could be a strength, as well as organization and planning.



WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Free time: time when you do not have to work, study, etc., and can do what you want.

Unexpected: not expected or regarded as likely to happen.

Difference: a point or way in which people or things are not the same.

Cooperative: involving mutual assistance in working toward a common goal.

Cautious: careful to avoid potential problems or dangers.


PHRASAL VERBS

Check somebody/something out

“The company checks out all new employees.”

Figure something out

“I am going to figure out this math problem.”

Find out

“Did you find out why Jason got fired?”

Pay for something

“People earning low wages will find it difficult to pay for childcare.”

Sort something out

“We need to sort the bills out before the first of the month.”


IDIOMS 📒

The blue-eyed boy: a person who can do nothing wrong.

Work all the hours that God sends: work as much as possible.

Get off on the wrong foot: start off badly with someone.

Beat around the bush: not say exactly what you want.

Get your feet under the table: get settled in.




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Most Common Job Interview Questions Part 2

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” — Arthur Ashe

 

6- What are your salary expectations?

Working out the best way to answer this job interview question requires careful consideration – because you need to avoid sounding unrealistic while at the same time making sure that you do not seem indifferent.

The number one rule of answering this question is: Don’t say a specific number or even a narrow salary range that you’re targeting. Figure out your salary requirements ahead of time. Do your research on what similar roles pay by using sites like PayScale and reaching out to your network. Be sure to take your experience, education, skills, and personal needs into account, too.

Stay realistic and focused, taking into consideration your salary from your current or previous job. 

Tell them that you’re focused on finding the best-fitting role and that you don’t have a specific target salary in mind yet.

 

Let’s see some examples, 

 

“At this point in my job search, I’m focused on finding the position that’s the best fit for my skills and career. Once I’ve done that, I’m willing to consider an offer that you feel is fair for the role.”

 

“I’m currently earning a base salary of $55,000. I don’t have a specific number in mind that I’m targeting for this next position, though, and I’m willing to consider an offer that you feel is fair.”

 

“My priority in my job search is to find a position that’s a great fit and will allow me to continue learning and becoming more skilled, but I do not have a specific number in mind yet.  That said, I did some baseline research into salaries for this type of role here in Montevideo and found that the average seems to be in the US$ 50,000 to US$ 60,000 range, so if your job is within that range, I think it makes sense to keep talking.”

 

7- Where do you see yourself in five years?

An employer is usually looking for people who know how to find solutions to any problems. But, the main issue of this question is to understand how your career goals and ambitions fit with the company’s plans.

Be honest and specific about your future goals. Pick a work-related plan of where you’d like to be five years from now, and make sure it’s slightly challenging or ambitious-sounding. Make sure to share a goal that is related to the type of job you’re interviewing for. You want to sound like the experience you’ll gain in this job fits your long-term goals.

 

For example, 

“In 5 years, I hope to sharpen my skills in two specific areas of teaching: technology in the elementary classroom and social-emotional learning. I would love to become an expert in those areas so I can use technology as a literacy tool to create a more inclusive learning environment for elementary school children, mainly with those with TDAH.”

 

Wrong answer examples: 

“Though I am entry-level, I want to be CEO in five years.” or “There are so many talented people here. I just want to do a great job and see where my talents take me.”

 

8- What are your greatest strengths?

You have to reply explaining your strengths and how your skills can represent real added value for the company. You can answer using phrases like the ones below, remembering always to contextualize them. In other words, don’t rattle off a list of adjectives. Instead, pick one or a few specific qualities relevant to this position and illustrate them with examples. Stories are more memorable than generalizations. 

 

For example, “I’m what you call a ‘people person’, and I truly believe that it is this quality that has led to my success as a salesperson. I not only met but exceeded my sales targets every quarter for the four years I’ve worked in sales. In one memorable exchange, a client told me she picked our company for a big contract because I remembered that her son was sick the week before and took the time to ask about him. She said it showed that our company made client care one of our top priorities – which was true.”

 

9- How would you describe your ideal boss?

This is another question about finding the right fit – both from the company’s perspective and yours. Be honest in your answer, but try to be as positive as possible. Think back on what worked well for you in the past and what didn’t. What did previous bosses do that motivated you and helped you succeed and grow? Pick one or two things to focus on and consistently articulate them with positive framing (even if your preference comes from an experience where your manager behaved oppositely, phrase it as what you would want a manager to do). Focus more on high-level attributes, not stuff that’s in the weeds. If you can, give a positive example from a great boss as it’ll make your answer even stronger.

 

For example, “I like a manager who’s more hands-off when it comes to day-to-day responsibilities because I believe that a manager that empowers employees to do better and gives them the trust to problem solve on their own allows them to be more successful.”

 

Wrong answer examples,

“Actually, I “work well with any kind of person.”

“The most important attribute in a boss, in your opinion, is someone who only emails you in the mornings.”

“I want a boss who takes me out to drink to celebrate big achievements.”

 

10- Do you have any questions for us?

Asking questions shows interest in the position and shows employers that you’re looking for the right fit, not just any job. This will make them trust you more and want you more.

It also allows you to get a sense of the company atmosphere, where the company’s going, and if it’s the right fit for you.

You can ask about the responsibilities, training, the overall direction of the company, the biggest challenges for someone in this position, new projects, products, clients, or growth plans.

Don’t ask about salary, benefits, time off, or anything unrelated to the job offer. Wait for them to bring it up, or until you know, they want to offer you the position.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Experience: (the process of getting) knowledge or skill from doing, seeing, or feeling things.

Take initiative: be the first to take action in a particular situation.

Candidate: a person who applies for a job.

Contribution: the part played by a person or thing in bringing about a result or helping something to advance.

Personal development: any skill that you want to develop to improve yourself.



PHRASAL VERBS

Rely on

“I am someone you can rely on.”

Go ahead

‘May I start now?’ ‘Yes, go ahead.’

Think back

“When I think back on my youth, I wish I had studied harder.”

Get back 

“It’s too late. I need to get back to work.”

Depend on

“It depends on the job, but what I want to see is competency in your role.”



IDIOMS 📒

Baptism by fire: a difficult task given right after one has assumed new responsibilities.

Be in seventh heaven: extremely happy.

Be snowed under: be extremely busy with work or things to do.

You snooze, you lose: if you delay or are not alert, you will miss opportunities.

Whistle in the dark: To be unrealistically confident or brave; to talk about something of which one has little knowledge.

 

 

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Most common Job Interview questions part 1

“Opportunities don’t happen; you create them.” — Chris Grosser.

The goal of anticipating interview questions isn’t to memorize responses but rather to get comfortable talking about these topics. 

The key is to understand the purpose of the interview and how it fits into the hiring process.

Below, we’ve put together commonly-asked interview questions, including example answers to help you make a great first impression.

1- Tell me about yourself

This is probably the most common question used to start a job interview, and you’ll have to respond by giving personal information, details about your career, your skills, and your studies. It’s an open-ended question that can tempt you to share too much irrelevant information. So it’s essential to keep your answer focused on your career and abilities. The interviewer wants you to demonstrate your skills, job experience, future goals, and how you’ll fit in with the company culture. Prepare to say a few things about your accomplishments, strengths, and a quick summary of your career. Be sure to keep your answer brief with a 60 to 90-second answer.

 

Don’t answer: “I’m from Osaka. I have two brothers. I love to play the guitar. My favorite food in the world is sushi.” 

 

Better say: “I’m an electrical engineer with ten years of experience in car building. After earning my electrician’s certificate at ABC Tech, I apprenticed with Toyota Motor Corporation, and then they hired me as a journeyman electrician. In 2018, I earned my degree in electrical engineering at Waseda University.”

 

2- Why are you interested in this job? / Why are you interested in working at this company?

The employer wants to know why you think this job is a match for your career objectives. Impress the interviewer by researching about their organization beforehand. This will show genuine interest in the role and the organization.

Take the time to describe how your qualifications are a match for the job. Highlight your skills and experiences concerning the company you want to join. 

It’s important to focus on how your abilities and experience can benefit the company and position. You need to sell yourself as a business-of-one who can provide a service better than the competition. And, it’s in no way a chance to mention the benefits or salary or day-to-day tasks. 

 

Don’t answer: “Actually, this job pays really well!”  or “I’ve been unemployed for a long time, so I really need to get a job.” 

 

Better say: “I’m very interested in the Sales Manager job. As you mentioned in the job listing, I’d be responsible for designing and implementing a strategic sales plan that expands the company’s customer base and ensures its strong presence. Also managing recruiting, objectives setting, coaching, and performance monitoring of sales representatives. I was responsible for all three functions in my most recent position as Sales Manager Assistant at Kontoor Brands Company. I recruited over 100 employees and led training for all new staff members in a department of 50 people in that role. I’m interested in this job because it would allow me to use my previous experience while continuing to develop my expertise in new areas of responsibility.”

 

3- Why are you leaving your current job / Why did you leave your last job?

Your response will say a lot about what you’re looking for in an employer, so answer this question honestly and objectively. Focus on a positive reason such as career growth and challenge. 



Don’t answer: “The last company I worked for was a hell hole. I would do my best to never work for any bigoted employer.”



Better say: “I had been with the organization for several years and wanted to experience a new environment to continue growing.”

Wrong answer example: “The targets set at work were not realistic and hard to achieve.” 

 

If you were fired, tell the truth but also be strategic in your response. Avoid any answers that reflect poorly on you. Make sure you never badmouth your former employer. Take responsibility, and don’t sound bitter or angry about the past. Show the interviewer what you learned and what steps you’ve taken to ensure this never happens again. Your best bet is to keep your answer short. Every situation is unique, so be sure to tailor your response to fit your circumstances.

 

Or say, “Actually I left involuntarily, the job wasn’t working out, so my boss and I agreed that it was time for me to move on to a position that would show a better return for both of us. So, I’m available and ready to work.”

 

4- Why should we hire you?

Your answer to this question should be a concise sales pitch that explains what you have to offer the employer. 

Review the job description before the interview. Make a list of the requirements for the position, including personality traits, skills, and qualifications. Then, make a list of the qualities you have that fit those requirements. Select five to seven strengths that correspond closely to the job requirements, and use these as the core for your answer. It’s also vital to deliver specific examples. The more concrete examples you can give, the better you will showcase your value to the hiring manager.

 

Don’t answer: “I desperately need this job. I am an honest, hardworking, and responsible person. Also, I have a sick mom to support.” 

 

Better say: “I am a superb consultative salesperson, never failing to surpass my quotas and break prior personal sales records because I truly enjoy working with customers. I increased their sales numbers by 24% at my previous company by integrating social media into their sales strategies. I will bring that innovative and entrepreneurial spirit to your company, and your success will be my top priority.”

 

5- What are your weaknesses?

Knowing your limitations and being willing to discuss them can portray honesty and a willingness to work on these limitations. When answering this question, focus on weaknesses that can be solved by implementing specific actions. 



Don`t answer: “I am talkative, and that distracts me from work.”

 

Better say: “one of my weaknesses is my nervousness when it comes to public speaking. However, I have found that practicing breathwork and rehearsing my speech beforehand significantly helps reduce this nervousness.”

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

 

WORDS

Self-assurance: confidence in one’s abilities or character.

Mistake: an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.

Weakness: the state or condition of lacking strength.

Avoid: keep away from or stop oneself from doing (something).

Interviewer: a person who interviews someone, especially as a job.



PHRASAL VERBS

Fit in “I think that I could see myself fitting in this company.”

Reach out “I reached out to you because I saw your job posting in the newspaper.”

Get into “How did you get into this kind of work?”

Follow through with “My boss told me he thinks I’m good at following through with long-term goals.”

Keep up “Well done, Charles. Keep up the great work!”

 

IDIOMS 📒

Like riding a bike: something that you never forget how to do.

Bad taste in one’s mouth: a feeling that something unspecified is wrong in a situation.

Don’t judge a book by its cover: not judging something by its initial appearance.

On the ball: doing a good job, being prompt, or being responsible.

A snowball effect: something has momentum and builds on each other, much like rolling a snowball down a hill to make it bigger.

 

 

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How to Improve your English Pronunciation

How to Improve your English Pronunciation

 

Many English learners feel overwhelmed when they start learning the language. English comes with its set of challenges, especially related to pronunciation. But don’t worry, there are some great ways to make sure this doesn’t hold you back. 

 

1- Notice how your mouth and lips move

Pronunciation is a physical skill. You’re teaching your mouth a new way to move and using different muscles. So, when you practice speaking, notice how your mouth, lips, and tongue move and how they affect how you pronounce a word.

Watch native English people and notice the shape their mouth and lips make when they talk and try to mimic them in front of the mirror.

Close your eyes and think about making a sound before saying it, then practice by repeating the facial shapes and words. For example, to make the “th” sound, put your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and push the air out of your mouth. Once you know this, it’s easier to say words like “thanks”.

To make the “L” sound, your tongue should touch the back of your front teeth and the top of your mouth. Try it now: Say the word “love.” Say it a few times. Feel where your tongue is in your mouth. Make sure it touches the top of your mouth.

Now, for the “R” sound, your tongue should not touch the top of your mouth. Pull your tongue back to the middle of your mouth, near where it naturally rests if you weren’t saying anything. As you say the sound, your lips should be a little rounded. Try it now: Say the word “rocket” a few times. You should feel air blowing between your tongue and the top of your mouth as you speak. You should also feel your lips get a little rounder when you make the sound. Be aware that there are two different positions for the “R” sound; this is just one of them.

 

2- Break down big words into syllables

Rather than trying to pronounce the whole word all at once, try speaking the syllables first. 

For example:

  • Sunset: sun/set.
  • Bathtub: bath/tub.
  • Attention: at/tent/tion.
  • Incomprehensible: in/com/pre/hen/si/ble.

 

3- Learn when and where to stress words and sounds

Stress and emphasis are often tricky for non-native speakers to pick up because you can’t tell by looking at the word where the stress will be. 

When it comes to pronouncing words, sometimes it makes a difference if you emphasize a certain syllable within that word. For example, the stress in the word ‘product’ is always on the first syllable. Many non-native speakers mispronounce it and say ‘proDUCT.’ Errors like this make your English unclear to listeners.

Start to listen specifically for stress and emphasis in a native speaker’s speech. Then, pay attention to stress and emphasis in your speech; correct it and repeat until it comes naturally.

Sentences get stress, too; some words are more important and are said with more clarity and strength than the rest of the sentence. Try reading this sentence aloud (the bold words are the stressed ones): “He ate some toast with jam in the morning.”

Notice how you slow down every time you get to an important word and quickly pass over the less important ones?

So, how can you be sure which words to stress? You need to know the difference between function and content words.

Function words are those you use for everyday grammar. They include pronouns, articles, prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs like be, have, and do. 

Content words are adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and nouns. 

When determining whether to stress function or content words, it’s usually content words. 

 

4- Speak Slowly

Speaking fast tends to slur their speech and reinforce bad habits. On the other hand, speaking slowly will give you time to think about what you are saying and how you are saying it. 

Pay special attention to the words you have trouble pronouncing. It’s always a good idea to exaggerate your sounds at the beginning. This may seem a little strange to you at first, but don’t worry. It’s an excellent exercise for improving your pronunciation.

 

5- Try some tongue twisters 

Tongue twisters are a time-tested method of improving pronunciation due to giving your mouth and tongue muscles a workout.

 

6- Read aloud and record yourself

When you’re concentrating on communicating, it’s sometimes challenging to hear errors in your pronunciation. One way to do this is to find a recording that you like –a podcast or audio of people speaking naturally– record yourself speaking samples of the same audio. That way, you can listen to both of them and see how your pronunciation compares.  

Listen back and note any sounds that you have problems with, practice these words/sounds slowly, and re-record yourself. Shadowing is a powerful technique.

 

7- Get to know your minimal pairs

Minimal pairs are words that have almost the same pronunciation but with one sound that is different, for example, ship and sheep; berry and very; bus and buzz.

 

8- Speak as much as you can

English pronunciation practice alone is not enough; you need to get over your nerves to feel comfortable speaking in front of others. Nerves can lead to a lot of mistakes, especially regarding pronunciation.

You must speak English to yourself at home. To start, try just narrating what you’re doing when you’re cooking dinner or getting ready for bed.

Find someone to practice with, either in person or through online communities. Getting feedback from an outside observer is crucial.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Accent: a distinctive mode of pronunciation of a language, especially one associated with a particular nation, locality, or social class.

 

Tongue: the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth, used for tasting, licking, swallowing, and (in humans) articulating speech.

 

Incomprehensible: not able to be understood; not intelligible.

 

Misapprehension: a mistaken belief about or interpretation of something.

 

Self-consciousness: nervous or uncomfortable because you are worried about what people think about you or your actions.



PHRASAL VERBS ✍

Cope with

“You have to cope with good communication skills, as it’s a primary condition of the corporate world.”

 

Dawn on

“It began to dawn on him just what he had said.”

 

Sound off

“He always sounds off about how he thinks Chinese people should pronounce English.”

 

Throw light on

“Please throw light on specific details rather than generalized statements.”

 

Come up

“Opportunities like studying abroad don’t come up every day.”



TONGUE TWISTERS 🤪👅

She sells seashells by the seashore.

 

A big black bug bit a big black dog on his big black nose.

 

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

 

The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.

 

Denise sees the fleece,

Denise sees the fleas.

At least Denise could sneeze

and feed and freeze the fleas.

 

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

Where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?



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5 Secrets to Making an ATS-Friendly Resume

5 Secrets to Making an ATS-Friendly Resume

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

Many companies use resume screening to weed out applicants that may not be an excellent match for a job in today’s competitive hiring climate. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software programs that scan resume content and use an algorithm to search for keywords (skills, job titles, educational background, prior work experience, former employers, etc.)

Unfortunately, 70% of job applications get disqualified by the applicant tracking system without being read. This statistic emphasizes how important it is to tailor your resume to the job you are applying for.

Do you want to get to the interviewing stage? Let’s check these 5 tips for converting your resume into an ATS-Friendly one and make it an excellent read for the actual human recruiter.

1- Customize your resume for each employer, choosing proper keywords

The most important element —beyond tailoring your resume so it can be accurately ‘read’ and parsed by the ATS— is keyword optimization.

Let’s suppose you are applying for a tax and legal services manager position. 

Your resume summary writes: “Highly-driven tax manager with 5+ years of financial experience in managing tax returns and affairs. Proven experience of success, employer satisfaction, and strong communication skills. Excellent written and spoken English.” 

ATS reads:

“Tax manager”

“5+ years of experience” 

“Tax returns and affairs”

“Employer satisfaction”

“Strong communication skills” 

“Excellent written and spoken English.”

Then, matches it to their list of requirements: 

CHECK: tax manager

CHECK: 5+ years of experience

CHECK: employer satisfaction

CHECK: communication skills

NOT CHECK: Legal services

NOT CHECK: Analytical skills

NOT CHECK: Microsoft Office 

If your resume doesn’t match the essential list of requirements, it’s automatically discarded.

Remember, the best indicator of which words they’ll search is the job description. Include the job title in your resume headline if possible. Then notice which hard skills—learned skills based on experience and training—appear early or multiple times in the job description.

2- Have the recruiter in the back of your mind

Once you focus on optimizing your resume for the ATS scan, it’s easy to forget you’re doing all this so that a human will have a chance to read it. 

Remember that you’re not writing this resume for you; you’re writing it for prospective employers. When you’re deciding what information to include in your CV, consider if the details will help a recruiter assess your qualifications for a particular role.

When describing your current and past positions, ensure your bullet points are achievements and use numbers and metrics to highlight them; this will show them how you’ve used your skills and the results.

3- Keep it simple

The way you design your resume can also affect how ATS interacts with it. 

Use a simple, clean design. Embedded charts and other images, custom font styles, and intricate bullet styles will get scrambled or simply skipped over when the ATS scans your application.

Don’t include too much fancy formatting. Most ATSs will convert the document to a text-only file. So at best, any fancy design will be lost. At worst, the ATS won’t be able to pull out the vital information, and so a person may never lay eyes on your nice designs—or read about the experience and skills that qualify you for the job.

If you don’t have Microsoft Word or another program that can convert your resume to .docx or .pdf, you can use Google Docs to create your resume, then download it in either format for free.

4- Apply only for those job roles you are qualified for

Never lie about your experience to get past the bots.

Make sure you’re truly qualified for the roles you’re applying to. This doesn’t mean you have to hit every single job qualification or apply to a job only if you have the traditional background for it. But if you don’t have the core skills needed to perform a job, you’re better off not wasting your time or a recruiter’s.

5- Convince by uploading a cover letter

Always combine your ATS-friendly resume with a cover letter —even if the application says a cover letter is optional— it could be the perfect opportunity to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other applicants. 

Be sure to keep the formatting simple by following rules of thumb:

  • Don’t just regurgitate the content on your resume.
  • The opening paragraph is catchy.
  • Explain why you love the company.
  • Connect your accomplishments and experiences to what they’re looking for.
  • Explain what you can do for the company/how you can solve their challenges.
  • Include some trades of your personality.
  • Include a call to action (e.g., “I look forward to hearing from you about next steps.”)
  • Link to portfolio or samples of work (if applicable.)
  • It is addressed to an actual person or team (not “To whom it may concern.”)
  • It is about 3-4 paragraphs in length (and less than a page.)
  • Don’t use overly formal language.

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Qualified: officially recognized as being trained to perform a particular job; certified.

Job hunting, job seeking, or job searching: the activity of trying to find a job.

Candidate: a person who applies for a job or is nominated for election.

Prospective: indicates that something is expected or likely to happen.

Highlight: to describe something in a way that makes people notice it and think about it.

PHRASAL VERBS ✍

Keep up

“I always try to keep up with new technology.”

Back up

“My computer isn’t working. I’m glad I backed up all my files.”

Bring forward

“Can the manager bring my interview forward a week?”

Key in

“Can you key this data in for me, please?”

Sign up

“Monica needs a new job, so she has signed up with an employment agency.”

IDIOMS 📒

Hanging by a thread: in great danger of elimination or failure.

Pink slip: a layoff notice; loss of a job, typically because of layoffs.

Move up in the world: become more successful.

Pull your socks up: make a better effort.

Feel like a fish out of water: feel uncomfortable in an unfamiliar situation.

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How to be an Active Listener

How to be an Active Listener

 

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” — Bernard Baruch, American financier, and presidential advisor

 

 Active listening is the process by which an individual secures information from another individual or group, observing the speaker’s non-verbal behavior and body language.

Active listening builds solid relationships and, while it may not come naturally to many of us, it’s an invaluable communication skill that can help you improve your workplace productivity and develop better relationships.

Let’s check these five essential techniques you can use to develop your active listening skills.

1- Pay attention to the speaker

Devote your full attention to the speaker. Pay attention to what is happening and observe the speaker while they are sharing their story. Acknowledge the non-verbal message.

Be aware of subtle changes in their voice, the way they mimic you, the words they use, and the emotions they are experiencing. Try to understand the thought process of your conversation partner truly.

Put aside distracting things, and demonstrate concentration. Refrain from fidgeting, looking at a clock, doodling, playing with their hair, or fingernails picking.

Shut down your internal dialogue while listening. It is impossible to attentively listen to someone else and your inner voice at the same time.  

2- Show correct nonverbal communication

It is vital to use appropriate body language. We read and instantly believe what body language tells us, whereas we may take more persuading with verbal communication. If there is a mismatch between what we are saying and our body language, the interlocutor will believe the body language, not the words.

It’s crucial to use nonverbal cues which show understanding, such as nodding, eye contact, and leaning forward. You can also use your posture, facial expressions, and hand gestures in a positive way to add strength to your verbal messages.

If you pay attention, body language will also help you to pick up on unspoken issues or negative feelings in others.

3- Respond Appropriately

Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. 

Personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Avoid criticism, be polite and offer compliments.

Assert your opinions respectfully. When in agreement with the other person, openly say so and say why. If you have to disagree with the other person, give the reason first, then tell them you disagree.

Let your interlocutor know you are listening. Use brief verbal affirmations like “I see,” “I know,” “Sure,” or “I understand.” 

As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.

Don’t interrupt with counterarguments.

When you finally do respond, try not to hammer your point simply. Refuse the impulse to tell your story on the topic. Ask open questions such as “How do you interpret this?” 

Paraphrasing is another powerful communication tool. Starting with sentences such as “So you are saying that…” or repeating in your own words what you believe the other person said are ways to show that you followed the conversation and understand.

4- Practice Non-Judgment

There is no need to agree or disagree with what is being said or evaluate the statements being made.

Remember that offering your active presence is more important than having your more profound question answered.

Be open, neutral, and patient while you listen.

Judgments are merely based on our personal opinions and experiences, neither of which are great measuring tools. 

5- Building trust and establishing rapport

Creating rapport at the beginning of a conversation with somebody new will often make the conversation more positive.

Listen to what the other person is saying and look for shared experiences or circumstances. This will give you more to talk about in the initial stages of communication.

Look at your interlocutors for approximately 60% of the time. Give plenty of eye contact but be careful not to make them feel uncomfortable.

Admit when you don’t know the answer or have made a mistake. Being honest is always the best tactic, and acknowledging mistakes will help to build trust.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Dialogue: A conversation between two or more people as a book, play, or movie feature.

Misunderstood: incorrectly interpreted or understood.

Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Polite: having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people.

Purpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

 

PHRASAL VERBS ✍

Listen up

“I’m only going to say this once, so listen up.”

Listen in on

“Richard was listening in on our conversation.”

Listen out for

“We saw lightning and listened out for the thunder.”

Point something out/to somebody

“I didn’t realize I’d make a mistake until somebody pointed it out to me.”

Engage in

Caroline refused to engage in a dialogue with Charles.

 

IDIOMS 📒

Prick up your ears: listen carefully.

In a nutshell: very briefly, giving only the main points, using a few words.

Listening with half an ear: not giving one’s full attention; listening to someone or something intermittently or with only partial attention.

Speak with a forked tongue: to tell lies, to make false promises.

Have a bone to pick with someone: to want to talk to someone about something annoying they have done,

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Business Buzzwords

“Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas.” Étienne Bonnot de Condillac,1782.

 

Buzzwords are terms regularly used in business to gain attention, boost morale, and describe cultural and social situations. 

Some buzzwords are mainly used between coworkers and business partners, while others are used —especially in marketing, sales, and service— to appeal to customers.

Being able to correctly use buzzwords can help you engage with coworkers and customers, giving you an aura of being cooler if you use the right terminology in the proper context.

 

Deep dive: is a more thorough version of brainstorming. When a manager requests a deep dive into a topic, they are asking for a detailed review of all possible ideas based on that topic.

 

Core competency: a defining capability or advantage that distinguishes an enterprise from its competitors. They can also describe the particular qualifications of a job applicant.

 

Hyperlocal: relating to or focusing on matters concerning a small community or geographical area. ​Businesses use the word hyperlocal to encourage their employees to stay focused on a particular market.

 

Freemium: a combination of the words “free” and “premium,” represents a business model in which a company offers basic features to users at no cost and charges a premium for supplemental or advanced features.

 

Thought leader: an expert on a particular subject whose ideas and opinions influence other people, especially in business.

 

Synergy: the collaboration of two or more people on a project or situation, in which the outcome would be better than if the two people had worked independently of each other.

 

Unpack: researching every aspect of a subject in detail. 

 

Ping or ping me: to send a quick, short message over a texting platform (SMS, Instant Messenger, Chat) used to check-in, keep someone in the loop about something, or ask about something, or alert coworkers of new information, with the expectation of a quick, short response from the receiving party.

 

Drill down: describes the process of finding the root causes of a problem. It is often used during a difficult problem-solving process to motivate employees.

 

Bandwidth: a new way of saying “how much we can get done.” People normally use this business jargon to indicate when there isn’t enough time.

 

Quick win: a project that is easy to complete or a sale that is easy to make; something that can be accomplished that doesn’t require a lot of resources or work but could have a high impact on your business.

 

Next-generation: used to describe a product that has been developed using the latest technology and will probably replace an existing product.

 

Quota: a target that sales reps try to reach over a certain period of time, often on a monthly or quarterly basis. A quota can be measured in both dollar amounts or in the number of deals closed.

 

Value-added: apply to instances when a firm takes a product that may be considered homogeneous—with few differences from that of a competitor, if any—and provides potential customers with a feature or add-on that gives it a greater perception of value.

 

Disruptor/Disruptive: it’s a game-changer, a unique product or service whose innovation throws the status quo off-kilter; a company that changes the traditional way an industry operates, especially in a new and effective way.

 

Wheelhouse: is used to describing a person’s or company’s specialty, or an area that matches a person’s skills or expertise

 

Ecosystem: refers to people and organizations actively working toward similar goals in the same space, be that a building, a town, or an overarching concept that draws them together.

 

Ballpark: refers to an approximately proper range, as of possibilities or alternatives. Indicating that something is within the right ballpark tells others that they are taking useful steps toward a certain goal for a project.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Meaning: what is meant by a word, text, concept, or action.

 

Informal: having a relaxed, friendly, or unofficial style, manner, or nature.

 

Slang: a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people.

 

Make-believe: the action of pretending or imagining that things are better than they really are.

 

Short-lived: lasting only a short time.

 

PHRASAL VERBS ✍

Try something out

“I am going to try this new brand of eco-friendly soap out.”

 

Talk around

“He talked them around to accept his point of view.”

 

Make out

“I couldn’t make out what he was saying.”

 

Speak for oneself

“I’m here speaking for myself, not for my company.”

 

Cook up

“Nelson is always cooking up some weird scheme that was going to earn him a fortune.”



IDIOMS 📒

Think outside the box: think in an original or creative way.

 

Open the kimono: to disclose information about the inner workings of a company.

 

Move the needle: when employers are encouraging their team to make a big change to influence their industry. People who move the needle are seen as influential within a business or community.

Rock the boat: do something that might upset somebody/something, cause problems, or change the balance of a situation in some way. (Often in a negative sense.)

 

Drinking the Kool-Aid: is most often tied to someone’s blind devotion to a purpose or a cause; refers to someone who believes what is being told to the public by the mass media or government officials without investigating whether it is true or not.

The expression comes from the infamous mass suicide at the People’s Temple under the leadership of Jim Jones in 1978.  Kool-Aid is a brand of a powdered soft-drink mix. On this fateful day, Reverend Jones convinced his followers to drink Kool-Aid laced with poison in order to prevent members from leaving the cult. 







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