Can You Really be an Expert at Your Job?

becoming-expert-at-your-job-businessman-lightbulb-headCommonly, people will declare themselves an “expert” in a particular subject that they are generally proficient in, but does that truly mean they know everything there is to know on the topic, or at least more than the average person in the same domain? Having expertise doesn’t necessarily qualify you as an expert.

Naturally, the same holds true for your job.  What differentiates you from the rest of your team or department?  Of course, you are all good workers in your individual ways, but bear in mind that it takes time and effort to be considered a true expert at what you do.

Here are some tips to set you on the path toward professional expert status:

Stay current.

Business trends change with the weather, but that is still no excuse to fall behind on the new developments in your field or industry.  True experts are open to discovery and accept the potential twists and turns that all fields experience at one time or another.  Reading books, blogs and remaining in touch with your professional network is an effective way to stay on top of new growth changes in your industry.  If there is a new skill to be learned, you won’t be aware unless you are in the loop.

Concentrate your efforts.

Focusing your energy on a smaller segment of your field and specializing in a particular skill or two can give you leverage among your competitors.  By adding specialized skills to your professional repertoire, you are increasing your marketability with employers and customers.

Keep practicing.

The more time and energy you devote to a cause, the more success you will find.  This applies to mostly every area of life, especially your career.  By spending every hour of your workweek actively absorbing information, and a good portion of your downtime reviewing and practicing your skill, you will definitely increase your momentum toward expert status.

Network and mentor.

Sharing information is a perfect way to remember it.  Networking allows us to become a vessel of expertise.  The larger our network is, the greater our opportunity to acquire new information, as well as reveal what we have learned.  As mentors, we are given the perfect chance to pass along our expertise.  To become a true expert, one must be able to communicate what he or she has learned.

Try to get published.

Providing you have worked to attain at least near-expert status within your profession, writing blogs and articles on what you have learned is another valuable way of not only gaining respect becoming-expert-at-your-job-book-and-glasseswithin your industry, but also connecting with others who may have even more to contribute on the subject.  It’s best to think of the journey toward true expert-status as a circular path of information.

If you can manage to do this, you will have content to back up your authority status in your field. Don’t simply write a few articles here and there, but instead commit to regular content creation for a variety of outlets, as it helps build up your personal brand faster.

You are never finished.

The notion that you have learned all there is about your job or vocation is most likely false.  Remaining open to new information and ideas is essential.  Listen to elders in your field, take seminars, classes, and read everything you can.  This is one of the simplest ways to build your arsenal of professional tools.

So, in actuality, the answer is yes, you can most certainly be an expert at your job.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.






Integrating Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

All human interactions within the business world are affected by Emotional Intelligence (EI), from customer service to troubleshooting and brainstorming, meeting presentations, and employee emotional-intelligence-group-of-business-employees-smilingmotivation.

When a staff is emotionally intelligent, they are further empowered to achieve maximum effectiveness through teamwork.  On all levels, an emotionally intelligent workforce warrants a successful business.

The Theory Behind Emotional Intelligence

We have all heard the adage, “think before you speak”.  Instead of allowing our emotions rule our actions, we must learn how to recognize them as they develop, realize their cause and potential effects, and do our best to control how we react.  While our emotions can warrant inspiration and inventiveness, we must be sure to not allow them to trigger a regrettable situation.  Essentially, emotional intelligence can be described as a very important social skill, which is not only critical in our personal lives, but is also indispensible in the workplace where tensions can sometimes run high.

Achieving Emotional Intelligence at Work

According to professors Peter Salovey and David R. Caruso, authors of the publication “The Emotionally Intelligent Manager”, developing a sense of emotional intelligence can be broken down into four basic skills:

  • Recognize your own feelings as well as those of others.emotional-intelligence-smiling-business-woman-with-working-staff-in-background
  • Utilize your emotional mindset to help guide your own thoughts and analyses, in addition to those of others.
  • Realize the variableness of feelings and initial reactions, and how they change and evolve with unfolding events.
  • Remain open to the information that feelings may disclose and incorporate this into your actions and choices.

The incorporation of these practices within a corporate culture can help managers remain empathic to their employees; support healthy and constructive collaboration among team members; and promote a general ethos of patience, logical thought, and staying power among employees and managers alike.

Where to Begin

Of course, attaining a pinnacle level of emotional intelligence within yourself is the first step toward it becoming second nature within your company.  Whether you are a business leader or team member, you can still provide others with an example of emotional intelligence by employing these values on your own.  Achieving this balance will not occur instantaneously, but through practice and perseverance, you and your team will begin to learn how to view the larger picture when a potentially reactive moment arises.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200


Practical Interview Advice From Job Recruiters

Locating the most talented and qualified candidates for job openings is the main purpose of any recruiter, however, the amount of time and effort it takes to find the top job-seekers in any particular field is often overlooked.  Recruiters work within the center of the job market, so when looking for interview advice, they should be your first stop.

In the interview world, right and wrong are quite often differentiated by a very fine line.  Here, we’ll look at some practical advice based on expert research in the field.

Maintain Your Selectiveness.

When it comes to hiring, interviewers prefer enthusiasm, interest, and a specific sense of motivation, and any good job recruiter will be sure to respond more readily to a candidate with specific interview-advice-job-recruiters-business-professionals-standing-in-linegoals.  They have dwindling enthusiasm for those who come to the interview with an “I’ll take anything” attitude.  A recruiter can’t place you in a position if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Additionally, don’t lead a recruiter into thinking you may accept a position that you simply aren’t interested in and have no intention of accepting.  According to David Staiti, Managing Partner and Founder of Virus Recruiting, LLC, “Don’t get deep into the interview process, or take things to the offer stage, if you can’t see yourself working at the company. You’ll not only be wasting your time, but you could leave a negative impression with the people who feel like you wasted theirs.

Be the person who knows what they want and would be an asset to the team, and you will find you will swiftly move to the top of a recruiter’s list.

Have Questions Ready.

Interviews are certainly not a one way street.  No interviewer would or should denounce a candidate for asking a question, and the same hold true for meeting with a job recruiter.

In fact, the most disappointing candidate is the one who has no questions at all.  Simply by failing to demonstrate insight about the job, the company, or the market, you risk throwing away a perfect opportunity to convince the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job.

Follow Up the Right Way.

It is natural to wonder exactly what impression you have made on an interviewer, yet it’s important to resist the temptation to continue an intense level of communication after the interview has ended.  Asking what the next steps are before you conclude the interview should technically be your last question.  According to Abby Kohut, recruitment advisor and author of ‘Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets’, “Calling [an interviewer] constantly and demanding to be submitted to a company will just make them think you’re desperate and unhinged and a little scary.”

While a brief “thank you” or follow-up email post-interview is perfectly acceptable, do not barrage your interviewer with an endless series of phone calls and messages in hopes to speed up the process or gain answers.

Don’t Over-Simplify.

Often, a recruiter, or interviewer in general, may not necessarily be an expert in your specific field of knowledge.  However, don’t feel the need to rely on an over-simplified approach.  An experienced professional is likely used to speaking with people more knowledgeable about certain topics, and they will not be affronted or unsettled if an interviewee possesses more knowledge than they do on a certain subject. While you should avoid truly obscure trade jargon, it is not your obligation to reduce your knowledge to bare bones.  As Malcom Forbes once stated, “Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired do”.

Be Diversified.

Rather than being “all about the job”, aim to present as a fully rounded individual.  An interviewer most likely won’t care whether you collect stamps or play paint ball on the weekends, for example.  What they do want to know is that you are reasonably stable and socially integrated.

Appearing as an individual who is healthy in mind and body gives employers more confidence in your long term stability as an employee.  Since stability translates into long-term success with a company, recruiters find this desirable, as it means that you will also reflect well on them as a staffing service.

Share a Good Idea.

If you are interviewing for a specific position or are aware of which organization your recruiter is attempting to place you, try researching the company beforehand and ascertain whether you can isolate a problem they’re having. If it is within your skill set, try working out a potential solution for it.

Once the interview turns more conversational, that is your opportunity to present your observation of the problem and your solution.  Even if it’s not the best solution, at least it demonstrates creativity, and puts you head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd.

The Takeaway

interview-advice-job-recruiters-professional-woman-and-man-in-interviewWhile interviewing in any setting, it’s important to bring all components to the forefront. Avoid reading from a proverbial script, and show your prospective employer the many facets of your professional self.

Show them that you can fit in their company culture, and do your part to learn about the organization.  As mentioned earlier, interviewing is a two way street; besides providing information about yourself, it is your opportunity to learn about the company.  It’s not only a matter of being offered the job; it’s also a matter of being offered a job you want to accept.

If a particular company’s culture doesn’t suit you, remember there are plenty of other companies out there that would welcome your skills and talent.  You can reject or accept them as easily as they can you, and with the proper interviewing skills, your chances of finding the right fit are tenfold.

Be prepared; be yourself; and be hired.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.


How a Consulting Career Can Sharpen Your Professional Skills

Are you a professional seeking to gain exposure in the industries and companies within your field, while building your network and client relationships?  Do you desire a reviving change from the predictability and familiarity of a nine-to-five job?  Consulting might just be a logical choice for the next step in your professional journey.

consulting-blue-office-signAccording to, one of the web’s top freelancing marketing services, more businesses are choosing to spend significant amounts of money on consulting services for IT projects, for example.  This number saw a year-over-year 22 percent increase to date, with a noted preference for independent consultants over traditional agencies.

Consulting requires experience and knowledge in your field, as well as quick thinking.  If you are not fond of meetings and constantly being on the move from one client to the next, then life as an independent consultant may not be for you.  However, many agree that the advantages outweigh any perceived negatives, and a large part of this is freedom and flexibility.

If you are considering spending some time as an individual consultant, here are a few ways this particular career choice may benefit your professional skill set and development as a whole:


Consulting can help you hone in on your communication skills in a big way.  Since you need to consistently provide your clients with results, you will become comfortable with relaying information in the form of e-mails, reports, meetings, phone calls, and any other various manners of communication.  This will also teach or remind you of the importance of staying connected with clients.  If you don’t communicate, your client will assume you are not working effectively, and that can cost you your job.

Experience on the C-level: 

You may not have yet reached CEO status yourself, but interacting with higher-level executives will only benefit you in your career down the road.  Learning to sell your solutions and yourself as a trusted consultant is an extremely valuable experience in the corporate world.

Solving Problems:

As a consultant, your job is to identify and fix problems.  Since thinking outside the box is a must, your creativity and trouble-shooting skills will undoubtedly be sharpened.  Therefore, you will develop a sense of adaptability which will assist you in any type of work environment.

Meeting Deadlines:

Essentially, when you work for yourself, you have yourself to answer to.  A missed deadline usually means a lost client as well as a less than superb reputation to follow, so it is within your own best interest to complete the goals required of you by the designated target date.  While you don’t have to worry about being called into the boss’ office to explain why you missed a deadline, you will consulting-businessman-on-cell-phonestill have to face the consequences.  Consultants learn on their own to juggle tasks and manage their time.

Financial Management:

As an independent consultant, you are in charge of how and when you get paid.  You will need to consider ways of stretching your available funds for the duration of a project, and assume strategies to become more efficient with your budget.  A nine-to-five job may offer steadier paychecks, but as a consultant, you have command of your earnings and the ability to sharpen your money-management skills.  This can assist you not only with your own finances, but in your future professional career.


Consulting allows professionals to learn invaluable skills which they may not obtain in a traditional job setting.  Remember, that while some people choose consulting as their main career, others spend a designated or limited time enjoying the freedom and nonconformity that comes with being a consultant.  Any time spent gaining insight, networking, and learning important skills pertaining to your line of work is time well spent.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200



Handling Constructive Criticism in the Workplace

If not handled properly, negative feedback from your colleagues and superiors at work can affect all parts of your life through added stress and loss of confidence, both in and out of the office.

Constructive Criticism in the Workplace - review magnifyier - greenWhile we can’t avoid criticism, we can control how we react to a negative circumstance, and even transform it into a positive one.  It’s important not to equate all criticism as a sign that you aren’t doing something right, or personalize what might have been intended as purely constructive feedback.

Let’s explore some tips to help deal with constructive criticism on the job.

Listen first.

If you are receiving negative feedback from your superior at work, it’s important not to dismiss what is being said if you want to help improve your performance in the future.  Many bosses appreciate an employee who can tolerate a moderate amount of constructive criticism without furthering it into a potentially uncomfortable situation.  Being open to comments and responses pertaining to your work performance, whether positive or negative, will only enable you to grow within your field in the long term.


Misunderstandings and misinterpretations happen often, especially in the workplace.  If you are caught off guard by negative feedback from your boss, there is nothing wrong with asking for more elaboration or explanation.  There is no way to correct or amend a situation in need of rectifying if you are unsure of how your work performance is being interpreted.  Requesting a case in point or example is (or is not) expected of you is certainly acceptable, and can help alleviate stressful situations down the road.

Keep your composure.

It’s common for an individual who feels “under fire” to react defensively.  However, it’s imperative to remain calm and act professional even when receiving negative feedback at work.  Venting in annoyance at the situation should be saved for outside the office.  Offer your boss or colleague a sufficient opportunity to convey his or her thoughts and opinions.  It’s quite possible the issue at hand isn’t nearly as serious as it seems when considered in a calm manner.

Ascertain accuracy. 

While it is important to make sure that we are not acting overly self-protective when approached with negative feedback, it is also reasonable to make sure we are being approached with accurate information.  Are others in agreement with the criticisms?  It can be beneficial to glean additional feedback from other co-workers, mentors/advisors, and even family and friends to help you determine if the criticism is valid.

Resolve the issue.

In the end, constructive criticism isn’t about blame, but rather solving the problem for the greater good of the organization.  Whether you must adjust your own behaviors, recognize an outside issue, or assist others in changing their work patterns, it’s best to simply move forward with the corrective behavior, and not dwell on the context of the criticism itself.

In Summary

It is difficult for anyone to hear negative information about themselves or something they have or have not done.  That is why a simple list of “dos and don’ts can be beneficial to keep in mind when receiving criticism at the workplace:Constructive Criticism in the Workplace - two business men at conference table

  • Do listen impartially.
  • Do request examples and specifics.
  • Do remain accountable.
  • Do contemplate the feedback and fix the problem.
  • Do consider the criticism a learning experience.
  • Don’t dismiss the criticism.
  • Don’t active defensive or cynical.
  • Don’t justify the actions in question.
  • Don’t dwell on the mistake.

The Takeaway

Of course, if you have a boss who absolutely never takes your suggestions or work performance seriously, and you feel you are being frequently approached with undue negative feedback, then it may be necessary to reassess your work environment.  However, it’s important to remember that most criticism that occurs within the workplace is certainly not personal.  It’s best to deal with it directly without over-pondering and move on; and you may just find you have acquired new skills as well as a fresh outlook on your own work performance.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.