Saturday, July 15, 2006

Speaking Openly… Without Losing Your Job

Footballer Roy Keane's personal handling of his public criticism of Manchester United's operational and team performance was probably not the best one on recent record. In fact it was a complete disaster and it, eventually, cost him his job with the club. Then again, how many of our own employers have an in-house television station through which to air our grievances with colleagues and management?

Lambasting employers without being escorted to the door - as Mr. Keane may be the first to admit - is not an easy challenge; however there are ways to ‘speaking frankly without losing your job’ (although we don’t recommend you try these at home):

Communicate Your Position in Private
Raise your objection confidently, evenly, and away from third parties - if you think your boss is about to make a negative, immoral or, for that matter, outright bad decision. Always act on a one-to-one basis and document your concerns in writing, ideally in a memo and not through the firm’s email system. A face-to-face meeting on the matter will also reduce your odds of the boss discounting any objection you may raise during a staff meeting simply to save him or her embarrassment in front of the group. By standing independently, you avoid the peer pressure of simply going along with your colleagues simply for the sake of ‘going with the flow.’

Establish Policy for Disagreeing
We can’t all work for fun-loving, open door Virgin boss, Richard Branson. So, if your manager is more akin to former Sunbeam CEO, ‘Chainsaw’ Al Dunlap, who once ‘axed’ 6,000 Sunbeam staff in one payroll month, then you will have to establish policy your right to disagree – inclusive of whether disagreements are to be kept firmly private or can be aired during staff meetings. By following this line; at a minimum, you will either be allowed to disagree or you won’t, in addition to being clearer on the ‘how’ (privately or in meetings) and ‘when’ (what’s open to disagreement and what’s not). Furthermore, most forward thinking managers will appreciate knowing you aren’t simply a ‘Yes person’ who will automatically go along with their decisions or opinions.

Practice Makes Perfect
As for most behaviour, standing up for one’s beliefs becomes easier with recurrence. If you never protest when a person cuts in line at the taxi stand or closes the elevator door even though they know you are rushing to get on, start to do so. Also, agree to yourself - without being thoughtless, of course - to take a small risk every so often and do something that would not normally jibe with your usually safe routine. Like saying ‘no’ or ‘I don’t quite agree with that,’ for instance.

Do Not Take Your Issues to Another Level
Thinking of going over your boss' head? Think again. If you’ve ever worked a day in your life, you’ll know this is a career ending idea. Whine all you want to your colleagues on the barstool beside you, but by not respecting the corporate chain of command, you'll alienate both your manager and potentially his or her colleagues.

In the world of work the protocol of communication flows up and down. Manager and staff relationships are based on trust and, as such, by eliminating the boss, you are hurting that relationship.

Even if you ask your boss' boss to keep what’s said confidential, you can’t guarantee the conversation will remain that way. How can they correct an issue without explaining to your boss the issue and how she became involved? Rest assured; if you go above your manager, they will know it… and once your boss knows, the relationship will not be the same and you'll be the one working to rebuild it.

If you have a complaint, be direct and honest with your manager - schedule a time for your discussion, lay it on the table and offer up suggestions for resolution.

Only in rare and serious circumstances should anyone go to their boss' manager, or the Human Resources Manager: (i) if the company is on the line - to save the company; (ii) if a boss is doing something illegal (stealing from the company); (iii) if a boss has a serious physical or mental illness, or drug addiction of which a staff member is aware, or; (iv) if a boss is doing something that exposes the company to a lawsuit (sexual harassment). A word to the wise, however – act cautiously in these matters, as they are quite serious.

Plan Ahead
Carefully plot your plan of action and consider all avenues of potential consequence. Be extremely clear on what you are going to say to your manager and consider all possible responses. Before you cross any Rubicon, ask yourself, ‘what's the absolute worse that may happen?’ Obviously, you could lose your job… and nobody wants that.

We hope you'll never have a manager that you cannot trust enough to speak openly and work together. If you do, and you're unable to talk or work through it you may need to move on.

Then again, if you could get fired for being absolutely honest, do you really want to work for such an organisation over the long term?

We know Roy Keane didn’t.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Salary Negotiation and Asking for a Raise

Funnily enough, while most universities conveniently cover global business techniques and how-to-build–better-mousetraps over their three- or four-year scholastic programs, not many tackle one of the earliest challenges on a graduate student’s agenda – first-time salary negotiation.

With all the exhilaration surrounding a job offer, it is quite easy to succumb to a joyous ‘Yes! I'll take it, where do I sign?’ And, while such enthusiasm is expected and even commended, this course of action is not always in your best interest.

Negotiating Your First Salary
Let's begin with a definition of ‘negotiation.’ In a nutshell, it's meeting to discuss a subject with another individual in order to reach an agreement.

While salary negotiation generally begins towards the conclusion of the interview process, for grads it really starts with the initial interview. Achieving the salary you deserve, is founded on what you have told the potential employer about yourself, any accomplishments you may have achieved and what you can deliver on the job; all of which increases your worth when a pending job offer arrives.

Therefore, during interviews, use dynamic words to describe accomplishments - ‘initiated,’ ‘developed,’ ‘oversaw,’ ‘created,’ ‘took charge of,’ ‘followed up on’ and ‘actively contributed to’ – all of which will significantly help your case. Additionally, the skill to handle details, multiple projects and time management will also contribute significantly to your wage value.

Simply asking for more money, unfortunately, is not negotiating. You will need to answer or research certain questions prior to discussing salary, to know if there is even a chance to secure more. Among the questions to which you should know answers include:

  • What is the salary range of the job?
  • What is the lowest salary I will consider?
  • What makes me worth a higher salary?

There are several places you can secure this information, including the university career services office, recruitment firms, job search web sites, people who work in your chosen industry, and trade associations and publications.

However, notwithstanding you can answer these questions, there may be opposition to your request for more money, in the form of:

  • That would be more than other employees at your level are making;
  • Your experience is not enough;
  • There’s no room in the budget and, the tried and, sometimes, true;
  • That's what we pay new hires.

When responding, think about these objections in a way that continues the discussion positively and without pinning yourself down. Remember, you are asking questions - not delivering ultimatums. For example in responding to the ‘more than other employees at your level are making,’ you may follow up with a response such as: ‘what is the range for this post?’ and ‘what would it take for me to get to that higher level?’

If the manager indicates the company does not have money in the budget at the present time, you may wish to counter by highlighting how you have saved or generated the firm money through your (if appropriate) accounting, sales or management skills. Sometimes, senior management needs to see that a raise can be paid for out of the revenue you have created. However, as a rule, the ideal time to ask for a raise is immediately after you have demonstrated your worth to the company via a business win or cost-saving achievement.

Always keep in mind that you're looking for a way to reach a mutually-beneficial arrangement and often you have to ask a few questions to see if there may be a way to reach an accommodation. In many cases, especially at this level, the person offering you the position has already received sign-off from someone else, so you have to give them a good foundation to return to that authority and ask for more money.

Also keep in mind, that when negotiating your first salary, you may be spending the next 30-40 years working – not necessarily with that organisation - and it's critical to find a job for which you are both qualified and, indeed, like. If this means accepting an offer with a firm you admire or respect tremendously or believe has great career potential, but the salary is marginally lower than you wished, it may still be worthwhile… particularly if it's an organisation in which you can grow and learn over the long-term.

Asking for a Raise
Asking for a raise in salary is never easy. However, if properly prepared, you can come away from a salary increase negotiation with a figure with which you and your employer can be happy.
First, however, it is essential to appreciate external pressures - what does the current and mid-term economic environment look like and how is your organisation performing in this environment? If the economy is in recession or your firm is struggling to stay profitable, then clearly it is not an appropriate time to ask for a raise - no matter how strong your reasons. However, if the company is making money each year and growing according to plan, you'll probably have a chance of securing a wage increase.

Prepare a list of your accomplishments. In the time you've been employed in the company, what have you done for them? What do you plan to do moving forward? Why should the firm invest more money in you? Had you been keen to work hard for the organisation in the past and are you willing to allocate longer hours and extra work in the future? Before you even get within eyesight of the manager’s office, ensure you can answer all of these questions.

When you are prepared to meet with your manager, wait for a good time to ask for an appointment. If word has it the boss is in a difficult frame of mind or complaining of how they can't get on top of their work, it’s obviously not a good time. If you feel the boss is in a positive mood, this is probably a good time to make an appointment to see them. Pick the meeting time carefully - as with most things in life, timing is everything.

When asking for a raise, use ‘past and future performance’ as your rationale. For instance, your professional performance has nothing to do with the fact that you need the money to move out of your parents' apartment before you turn 35 or that you need to buy a new liver to compensate for the four years of university drinking that have finally caught up with you. Present your case in a professional manner - state what you have done for the company in the past and what you plan to do in the future. Your supervisor may be a concerned individual, but at the end of the day, your performance at work and the amount of money available are the only two things that really matter.

Also, don't act as if you are entitled to a raise. Be confident and show your worthiness of a raise, but don't expect it. Just because Mandy in the next cubicle received a raise two months ago, or that you have been at the company for a certain period of time, doesn't mean you are owed a raise. We all believe otherwise, however the powers that be that sign your paychecks may not feel the same.

With that in mind, prepare well and you’ll make a good case for that raise!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Oh No….You’ve Been Promoted!

So . . . you used to lunch and gossip with Tiff, Mandy, and the tea lady (whose name you simply can't recall) down at the Petri Dish Café in Lan Kwai Fong. Now, by no fault of your own - you’re their boss. Truly, a difficult workplace situation if there was one - especially when the tea lady was one of those who contended for the job and lost.

And, as if losing your seat at the Dish isn't enough, you've lost your peer group - maybe even your friends - just when you needed them most. Now you’re the boss you and your co-workers used to moan about. You remember how side-splittingly funny that was!

Naturally, in a fit of heat dementia, the HR Officer has announced the promotion. Company-wide. What will you do?

Agreed, ‘shopping at Pacific Place Mall’ is a reasonable answer, however, consider this:

Seed a new circle of peers: friends, romans, countrymen - you need them fast and you need them yesterday! Generate some ‘fancy-a-wine-spritzer?’ relationships with peers in other departments. Not that you’ll never hit the Dish with the old gang again, but for now you all may need some short-term distance. Seek people at your new level dealing with the same challenges you’re facing.

Get your boss in the programme: ask your boss to answer questions from others in a way that supports your new position as their manager. For example, asking them to turn in their reports to you on time, or to go to you for help if they need it. That demonstrates clearly where the new authority rests. Acknowledge your boss for their support ‘when Mandy came to you with issues, I appreciate you sent her to talk to me directly.’

Meet face-to-face with your subordinates: recognize the change and ask for support: ‘we’ve worked together a long time, so this will take some adjusting to. I’m happy you’re on my team and I ask for your support while we go through this transition.’ If you have any, share concerns.

Remember, as the new manager, it’s better to be respected than be treated as a ‘peer.’

Changing Careers... With Little or No Experience at the New Career

Changing careers could be one of the best decisions you make in your life. It may also be one of the more difficult things you will do. Creating a self-inventory and doing some basic preparation can make a big difference in the way you view yourself and as a result how others see you. Here are five tips to help you weave your way through your transition.

Focus on Your 'Transferable Skills'
When you change careers the focus will be on the "soft" skills - referred to as "transferable" or "portable" skills. These are skills you have used at any and every job or situation you have been in, including volunteer work and school.

Examples of transferable skills are: communication, ability to work with a diversity of people, ability to plan and organize, time management, analytical problem solving, customer service skills, etc.

Make a list of your transferable skills, keeping in mind that these are the skills you could use regardless of what company you worked at, or what position you are applying for. A good source of desirable transferable skills can be found in job postings. Print out several postings and highlight words that reoccur. These are 'key traits' that the employer is seeking – don't underestimate them.

Find Your Uniqueness
Each candidate is unique. What makes you unique? Think about your personality and your personal traits. One of the things that the interviewer is looking for is "someone to fit in" - who is likeable with the ability to work well with other team members. Your personal traits could be the tie-breaker between you and an equally qualified candidate. Think of at least five personal traits that make you unique. Some examples are: friendly, flexible, quick learner, reliable, responsible, easy to get along with, detail-oriented, loyal, etc.

Believe in Yourself
Once you have established what you have to offer, you will begin to see the value you can bring to the job. When you believe in yourself and the fact that you have something of value to offer, it will be easier to show confidence and to convince the employer that you can do the job. Any sales person will tell you that when you believe in your product and its reliability it is far easier to sell and influence someone to buy.

Listen and Read Between the Lines
Prepare five to ten questions to ask about the company. The best questions will come from your ears. It is also important to listen to what is said as a way of formulating questions. For example, if several of the questions they ask you center around a certain topic, for instance "databases," be sure to ask questions about the database and the challenges and the problems with the database. Showing an interest by asking questions demonstrates your interest in the company.

Prepare Stories About Your Past Experiences
When you can show examples of past successes, you will have a better chance of showing the interviewer that you have used similar skills in past jobs, even if the job duties are different.

Changing careers is not easy to do in any market. Remember, the employer has a problem – there is work to be done. It is your job to listen to what the interviewer is looking for and then to sell yourself as the solution to the problem. Letting the interviewer know you heard and understand the job will make you appear more interested in what is going on at the company, and in turn will make you appear to be a more viable choice as the best person for the job.

What Managers Would Say (If They Could Talk, That Is)

It's not easy being staff today - just ask anyone in the Bush administration - more work, longer hours, fewer benefits, less air…

However, if you think managers are the root of unease, ponder the other side of the fence where, reportedly, grass is greener and stars shine brighter. Sure, there are teems of hopeless, inhospitable and, well, outright malevolent supervisors around but, generally, most managers are evenhanded people simply trying to do best for those they supervise. In fact, being staff is a cakewalk compared to management: diminishing budgets and increasingly less staff with which to accomplish greater workloads.

In 2006, our Year of the Dog, let’s not regard managers as if the year were named specifically for them and consider that when they behave the way they do, they may have reason:

Short… Impersonal?
Probably, they are engaged in work they would rather not be doing. Your brilliant suggestion may interest the boss, but they may not have the approval or budget to immediately say ‘Bueno, bring it home!’ If a manager goes ‘corporate’ on a staff or is unforthcoming, it may be they are uncomfortable turning down the request. This approach protects managers from the fact that ‘it's them’ and not their ‘position’ that is disappointing the staff. A good approach when this happens is to ask, ‘is this awkward topic?’ which might allow opportunity for the manager to state the real concern.

Speaking of Concerns…
They care about yours, but can't turn each difficulty you encounter into an Article 23 march. Certainly, managers are there to ‘clear the path’ for us when those loafers in I.T. or bean counters in finance obstruct our operational progress, but there are only so many issues managers can address. Don't be disturbed if your manager doesn't immediately blast someone because they forgot to order your business cards again or couldn’t get you that aisle seat. Spend some additional time attempting to solve the problem yourself before taking it higher.

Managers don't want to be Big Brother…
…so don't give them reason. As overtime payments and comprehensive benefits are pretty much a thing of the past, within reason, most managers will let staff come and go as they choose, given the work gets done on time and to budget, etc. Just don't vanish when you're needed. Most managers will give leeway if you work with them, but if you don't…

Upset with a Manager?
Tell them. You could spend time on eyeball-to-eyeball stares, one syllable responses to questions, and other vague telepathic transmissions to show you're upset, but managers have a lot going on and will probably miss most signals. When they are not buried in work, schedule a meeting and tell them what's wrong. They will listen and, probably, without being defensive.

Problems on a Job?
As above… and, well in advance. When things are proceeding well on initiatives, managers love to be surprised… but not with bad news. If ‘Project World Takeover’ is off schedule, tell them - they may rough up the messenger somewhat, but it's better than what could be anticipated as last second complications are harder to solve.

Don't do Anything Really, Really, Really Irresponsible
Overall, most managers are decent enough to help you out of most jams. However, downloading pictures from or punching a colleague will definitely put a manager at a distance… and you out of a job. Try to remain sane.

What are managers saying in all of the above? ‘The work arena is already tough enough, so let's work together.’ To reduce stress and succeed with as little grief as possible, team up with your supervisor - you'll be surprised how much everyone benefits working it this way.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Questions You Should Ask During the Interview... and some good answers

But first, some words of wisdom: ‘One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.’

One guaranteed way to tower head and shoulders over the competition during a job interview is to pose questions; as questions are the best way for an individual to reveal they understand a firm’s challenges, in addition to highlighting how they can assist the organisation overcome such challenges.

Today’s interviewers (and maybe even those of yesterday) seek to observe that you are achievement-oriented, committed to the long-term, enthusiastic… and curious (think Barney the Dinosaur). Coupled with your skills and experience, these are the characteristics that will secure you the position. If you come across as unreceptive, detached, short-term, self-interested, and indifferent (think Dick Cheney the Dinosaur), you’ll miss out. Therefore, a capacity - or incapacity - to pose intelligent questions will quickly confirm to the interviewer in which group you belong.

Of all questions asked by an interviewer, the final question is quite often the essential one. That’s when the interviewer inquires if you have any questions, and… dependent on your reply, you will either continue with your job search or move up to the next level in their interview chain. In our experience, one of the most neglected parts of the job interview is the time spent by candidates on preparing for their chance to ask questions of the interviewer.

Reality Check (Part I)
Most, if not all job applicants believe that when the interviewer says, ‘do you have any questions?’ it’s a subtle indication the interview is drawing to a close. Of course, they couldn’t be more wrong. Believe it when we write: the ‘do you have any questions?’ question really signals the start of the interview’s second half.

Why? Because candidates who fail to ask intelligent questions during a job interview are guaranteed to maintain their job hunting status over the short-term. Given a lack of candidate questions, most interviewers will conclude a candidate: believes the job is unimportant; is not easy in asserting themselves, or; lacks intelligence. Naturally, it goes without saying that none of these assumptions will get you closer to the job.

Reality Check (Part II)
Human resource, recruitment and line managers all expect applicants to ask adequate enough questions to shape a judgment on whether or not they want the position. If an applicant doesn’t ask enough questions, managers who may have been prepared to make an offer on the strength of skills and experience may reject a candidate (in comparison to others) because they’re not convinced the applicant is totally sure of what they’re getting into. Contrary to popular belief, hiring managers are human and, as such, need to be convinced a candidate has enough information with which to make a decision… in case they decide to make an offer.

Of course, questions have to be relevant; asking an interviewers opinion on England’s chances of winning the World Cup are great for when you’re walking to the elevator, but during the interview, intelligent questions are in order.

Good questions show interest in the job; great questions indicates to interviewers that you are someone not be ignored.

May I Take Notes During the Interview / Our Meeting?
Obviously… a question you should ask at the beginning of the interview. Of course, some interviewers become uneasy when a candidate has their note pad at the ready; while others are impressed by the professionalism and interest demonstrated.

Therefore, before justifying asking this question; a ground rule - always ask permission before opening the notebook and beginning to write. Gaining consent makes a difference: it’s courteous and it negates any surprise on the interviewer’s part by your not asking… as surprises rarely fall in a candidate’s favor.

Consequently, what to do?

The downside: some interviewers feel it is inappropriate to take notes during an interview because it is impolite. Some feel that during conversation; it is polite to pay attention. Others feel taking notes puts interviewers on the defensive - as if you were collecting evidence for a lawsuit to be used at a later date. And, finally, some believe that candidate note-taking indicates short-term memory or a problem with thinking on ones feet.

However, consider this: most interviewers take notes, why shouldn’t you? A job interview is not a social occasion; a forty minute exchange on the best bar to visit for your next round of Coronas - it is a business meeting; and one that, potentially, impacts the next several years of your life. In a corporate business environment, taking notes in support of a meeting is considered not only appropriate, but highly professional.

In addition, note taking need not be distracting. Unlike Richard Nixon, the point is not to record the conversation word-for-word - which would, indeed, be disturbing - but to remind oneself of salient points made with a view to questions or comments you may wish to initiate on your turn to speak.

In closing, most experienced interviewers welcome candidates note taking. It shows you are serious about the matter at hand... just don’t forget to ask permission.

What are the Major Responsibilities / Objectives of this Position?
Certainly, this question will have been addressed in the twenty or so lines of advertisement you read or, perhaps, the interviewer may have been through the job description during the interview… but, as anyone will tell you - job descriptions rarely stick precisely to script and, in our experience, most companies tend to hire on immediate needs, not longer-term needs. Those, they plan for.

As such, this question is important as it gets to the crunch of what will need to be addressed from Day-1 and, by rights, shouldn’t pose too difficult a problem to the interviewer (you’re not exactly asking for the secret recipe to the fifty herbs and spices contained in Kentucky Fried Chicken). By posing this question, you’re asking the interviewer to identify what is most important and then to prioritise. On occasion, human resources and non-line interviewers may find this question difficult because they aren’t involved in short-term activities. But, how can you succeed without knowing what’s most important, as much of your decision to join a particular company will hinge on what you will be doing on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, it’s in your interests and only fair you’re provided with comprehensive information in regard to this question.

If an interviewer can’t answer the question or if immediate job responsibilities have not been adequately covered during the meeting, then ‘Houston, we have a problem’ and you may wish to consider what else they may not be able to answer.

However, given reasonable disclosure to your question, you can then highlight previous work history, or describe similar problems / projects you’ve faced, and then detail how you can assist.

A good way to phrase this question: ‘what are the day-to-day responsibilities I would be assigned?’ Notice how the question gently assumes you’re already on the team.

How has this position become available?
What happened to the incumbent?
How long has the position been open?

Of course, if this were Washington, this would be a non-question as the position would, most likely, have become available through either impeachment or the incumbent facing a lengthy jail sentence.

In all seriousness though, you want to know the circumstances surrounding the vacancy. Is it a new position? No… then what happened to the last person in the job? Did they resign, and if so, why? Were they promoted or were they sacked?

Asking these questions sets-off an important dialogue, as you’ll learn either that this is a new position; that the incumbent resigned or was dismissed; or, that the incumbent was promoted. If the individual was dismissed, you really need to know why; what the company learned from the incident; and, if they feel such a problem could have been avoided. By asking these questions, you want to be viewed as interested in the incident from a learning standpoint - what the company learned and what everyone can take away from the incident.

If the previous post-holder was promoted, your response is obviously ‘I’m delighted to hear that!’ Promotion within the organisation is excellent news; as this position may be a springboard for your own further career success.

Clearly, the best responses to this question are either the incumbent was promoted within the firm, or that it’s a new position, both of which generally indicate the firm is growing.

Finally, by inquiring as to how long the position has been open, you’re seeking clues on the desirability of the job on offer. If the position has been open for several months or more, something is probably not right. Therefore, try to find out what it is about the position or organisation that makes the post hard to fill.

When Do I Start?
Asking for the job is tricky. Some consider asking for the job straight out as being assertive; while others think it cheeky or smacking of desperation. Our personal preference is to err on the side of being assertive. The meek may inherit the earth... but they don’t necessarily get jobs.

As always, use your radar to measure the environment and trust your instincts. If you feel the meeting went quite well, it’s probably good to be direct and ask for the job. In all likelihood, the worst you'll be looked upon is as enthusiastic. All things being equal, the person that appears to want the job the most generally gets the offer. As such, try to find out their level of interest in you by asking them directly. However, rather than "when do I start," try something like: "do you feel that I am suitable for the position?" or "do you have any reservations about my ability to do this job?" By phrasing it this way, you may be able to overcome any objections that they may have. It may feel a bit uncomfortable, but it’s better to find out what their concerns are now, than to find out that you did not get the job.

Asking for the job can be a crucial factor in the interviewer’s decision-making process as there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance. To be successful in some jobs, you need to be somewhat aggressive and demonstrate how you can sell. Sales people will, invariably, have to sell themselves to get the job, therefore, they need to be a little more forward; while in the software industry things are more laid back. As such, an I.T. Manager might be a little less comfortable with someone coming over that strong.

What are the Key Qualities Required?
This is not a follow-on to the question about what additional technical abilities you need to bring to the table. Instead, it asks about the qualities and characteristics that separate you from other candidates.

These characteristics include intangibles such as an eye for detail, entrepreneurial abilities, diligence, persuasiveness, commitment, organisation, communication and tact.

These intangibles are as important as technical skills, as they make up the set of personal characteristics you possess and have more to do with who you are than what you do. Accordingly, they reflect your attitude, work habits, ethics and the way you relate to other people.

This is a critical question as it solicits important information about the personal qualities that line managers or hiring managers look for and, importantly, often mirrors many of the qualities managers believe they possess.

This question opens the door for you to further market yourself. For instance, when a manager says he or she is looking for loyalty, dependability and initiative, you will need to introduce specific examples where you have demonstrated qualities such as reliability. Try to think of work-related examples and if you are not able to do so, non-work examples often suffice. Since these qualities are not based on skill, they are often difficult to quantify.

To express the quality of being reliable, you might say: "I'm extremely dependable. The managing director often left the operations of the company to me in his absence."

Of course, as is the case when speaking of your technical skills, it is unwise to make a claim about your personal traits without having some evidence to support it. Therefore, try to find at least one instance, fact or example that proves you possess such a trait.