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Learn the 7 habits of Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey, a renowned author and lecturer, recently passed. He was best known for his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold more than 29 million copies and has been translated into 38 languages. What makes this book such a best seller? It has clear, commonsense advice anyone can translate into their everyday life. Here are those seven habits and some tips on putting them to work for you as you look for a job. I've changed the order of some of the habits so that they make better sense for job seekers.

1 First things first: To accomplish anything we must all take the risk to get to know who we are, what we have to offer, what we want out of life, and how we are going to get it. Knowing yourself can begin simply by thinking about some famous person you'd like to meet and get to know. What makes that person so special? Now think about what makes you special and why people would want to get to know you. What makes you happy? What do you do in your time off? What are you passionate about? A good personal assessment can tell you what type of work you will enjoy and do well.

2 Be proactive: This is one of my favorite quotes: "Do not wait for your ship to come in — swim out to it." (Author unknown.) What have you done to prepare for your job search? Looking for a job is more than reading postings online and in print media. Have you told everyone you know? Are you networking through your personal contacts, professional organizations, social media, and your online professional groups through LinkedIn? Have you told your contacts at companies and organizations you'd like to work for, etc.?

3 Begin with the end in mind: Picture the perfect job at the right company. See yourself working there, and then act to turn that dream into a reality.

4 Think you can win: Too many people get mired down in negative thoughts. And yes, if you've been looking for a job for a long time without success, it's not easy to stay positive. But, as Nelson Mandela said, "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

5 Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Covey said that most of us listen to prepare a reply, not to understand what the other person is saying. We filter what we hear through our own experiences and biases. He urged us to listen with an open mind and learn. When you meet a potential employer or are interviewing for a job, analyze what the other person is saying. You can ask questions to clarify their wants and needs, and then, when you fully understand, you can show how you can be the right person for the job.

6 Synergize: Make your job search a team effort. Join other job seekers, share leads and tips, and become each other's inspiration and cheerleading squad. Get your friends and family involved. Attend civic, professional groups in your field, check job postings online, and ask for help.

7 Sharpen the saw: Take a hard look at your current skills and abilities. Need to upgrade to be more marketable? Do you have what potential employers need? If not, get the training (workshops, courses, higher education) necessary to become a standout.

Marie Stempinski is founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business development and employee motivation consulting. She can be reached at or visit her website:

Learn the 7 habits of Stephen R. Covey 08/26/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 26, 2012 4:30am]
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