“I am so thankful that a friend recommended to me the services of Samantha and the team at Challenge”

Danny Chung
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]

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When applying for a new job via a recruitment consultancy, you will typically be invited in for an initial meeting to discuss the opportunity. You may view such meetings as an inconvenience and a procedural step towards securing your next role however we would strongly advise you not to view the meeting with complacency. The recruitment consultancy has been hired to put forward their best candidates for the job. If you fail to impress at initial interview this could very well affect your chances of securing a role, especially where the consultant represents a number of organisations in their industry of interest.

Read on for our advice on interviewing with recruitment consultants including what to expect from an interview, how to prepare for it and how to make the most of the relationship so that you are on track for securing a new role.

Time keeping

If you have an appointment lined up with a consultant, turn up 10-15 mins beforehand. If you are running late call ahead to explain. If you are early, find a coffee shop and take some time to relax before showing up for interview. You may think arriving 30-60 mins early for an interview shows you are eager however it can come across somewhat desperate and indicates poor judgement.

Dress appropriately

Treat the interview the same way you would an interview with a potential employer. Dress appropriately for the role you are applying for. Better to dress smart than underdress.

Treat everyone respectfully

It may sound harsh but you are being judged the minute you enter a recruiter’s office. Consultants will often enquire how a candidate has presented himself or herself to the receptionist or how they interacted with other candidates in the waiting area or prior to a group interview.

The recruitment consultant will want to know how you carry yourself in public and how strong your people skills are. So be polite, charming and smile!

Familiarise yourself with your CV

Your interview with a recruitment consultant is your opportunity to sell yourself and your experience. Know your CV inside out so that you can highlight your key skills by drawing on your relevant experience. Be open about any gaps in your CV or reasons for leaving previous roles.

Prepare yourself for interview style questions

The recruitment consultant will use your meeting to assess how you perform in a formal interview. Be prepared to answer some competency style questions i.e. Tell me about a time you had to deal with a complex problem or Give an example of a time you dealt with a difficult customer. Be confident and engaging in your answers. Also, don’t forget to take the opportunity to ask the recruiter any questions you may have. The meeting should be a two-way discussion!

Be aware of the roles you applied for previously

It’s advisable to be aware of the organisations you have applied to previously. This can be challenging when you have applied for a number of positions however, by making the consultant aware of the roles you have already applied for, they will gain a greater understanding of the roles you are interested in. In addition, they will avoid duplicating your application to an organisation that has already received your CV.

Take on board feedback & advice

Be open minded to feedback on your CV, appearance and interview technique. Recruitment consultants are there to help put you in the best possible position for securing a new role so it’s best to take onboard any feedback they give you. Good recruitment consultants will have a wealth of knowledge about the employment market, industry developments and their clients – all useful information to consider in your job search.

Keep in touch

Be pro-active and keep in contact with your recruitment consultant following your interview. It’s important to maintain a relationship with your consultant so that you are at the forefront of their mind when new positions become available. Don’t be afraid to follow up by email or telephone every week to check if new roles are available. If you were expecting to hear feedback regarding a particular role, follow up to check if there have been any developments.

We hope you found these hints and tips useful. Keep them in mind the next time you have a meeting lined up with a recruitment consultant.

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A recent report by Deloitte Australia, has highlighted that jobs requiring soft skills are projected to grow 2.5 times faster than occupations where the need for soft skills are less in demand. It would appear that it’s no longer enough to impress employers with your extensive qualifications and technical experience; employers are increasingly expecting candidates to bring a strong set of soft skills to the table.

What do we mean by “Soft Skills”?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary “Soft Skills” are “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” These attributes or qualities typically include social and communication skills and emotional intelligence. Employers often find that candidates with strong technical skills and capabilities do not hold equally strong soft skills. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to develop new soft skills and strengthen those that we have already have through our experiences both inside and outside the workplace. Whilst hard skills may get you through an employer’s door, it’s your soft skills that will ultimately help land you the job!

To help you we have highlighted some of the most highly sought after soft skills that employers come back to again and again.

Communication Skills

We can’t emphasise strongly enough the importance of communicating confidently, professionally and articulately. Recruitment agents and potential employers will make an instant judgement on the strength of your communication skills. Don’t lose the job before you’ve started by mumbling, appearing disinterested or using poor language. Employers need candidates who can communicate with colleagues and clients and be strong representatives of their organisations. They want candidates who can communicate ideas and plans and drive their business forward.

Adaptability

Having the ability to be flexible and adapt to changing requirements and circumstances is an essential soft skill in any employee who wants to succeed especially within a fast-paced workplace. Employers are looking for employees who are resilient in the face of change and competing demands.

Self-Starters

The best employees don’t need to be spoon fed everything. Whilst employers are happy to provide training and development opportunities they are also looking for potential employees who have initiative and a drive to seek out answers, opportunities and add value. They want candidates who have a strong work ethic with motivation to give their best at all times.

Stakeholder Management

The ability to manage your time and workload under pressure is a fundamental soft skill. Equally as important and perhaps more demanding however, is the ability to effectively manage stakeholders. By understanding requirements, setting boundaries and negotiating or pushing back when necessary, you will be able to effectively manage expectations and deadlines. This is very much a soft skill that develops with knowledge and experience however employers will most certainly be looking to see your potential on this front!

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to read situations and people and react appropriately is a highly rated skill by employers. Whether that be cheering up or calming down colleagues, choosing the correct moments to speak or be silent or being able to deescalate a confrontation – these moments require you to manage your emotions and often the emotions of others. Having strong self-awareness and self-management and applying these to your interactions with others will allow you to successfully navigate the workplace.

 

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Moving in to your first leadership role can be a daunting experience. Taking on additional responsibilities of overseeing the workload and management of a team can be a lot to take on. To best prepare you for the challenges ahead, we have pulled together some advice to consider in advance of your new role to allow you to make a positive impact from the outset and ultimately prepare you for success!

 

 

Set your own Agenda – You may be moving in to a new role with big shoes to fill. Perhaps your predecessor was very popular and successful in the role and you worry you won’t match up. Alternatively, maybe your predecessor struggled in the role and wasn’t a good fit. Either way, don’t stress about living up to or surpassing the reputation of your predecessor – be yourself! You are there to make your own mark and add your own personal value to the organisation. Whilst you understandably want to differentiate yourself from your predecessor this doesn’t happen overnight and trying to do so from the outset may rub your colleagues up the wrong way.

Set some Goals – Use your first few weeks wisely. Take the opportunity to set or clarify goals with your team so that you and everyone else knows what they are working towards. Transparency will allow your team to get a sense of what your priorities and values are and won’t lead to speculation and apprehension about any changes you may implement.

Build a Rapport with your Team – From the outset it’s important to engage with your team members and strike up a rapport with them. This doesn’t mean you need to be everyone’s best friend but there is no denying that a team will work hard for a leader that they like and respect. Getting to know your team by introducing yourself personally to each one and having one to one meetings if possible to establish their motivations and preferences of management style will be a good start. Do your best to remember everyone’s name – these small gestures can really help your team members feel valued!

Keep the Communication Flowing – Strong communication is key to driving your agenda forward and ensuring that your team members buy in to that agenda also. Keeping your team updated on objectives and deadlines as well as sharing progress and informing them of any potential changes will encourage your team members to trust you and your strategy. It is equally important to listen to your team. Take the opportunity in the early days to establish yourself as an approachable and collaborative leader who is open to hearing your team’s views, opinions, issues of concern and recommendations. Giving your team a voice and being open minded to what you hear will contribute to an engaged and motivated team which can only reap rewards.

We hope you found this advice valuable and take it on board as you approach your first leadership role. Start your new role as you mean to go on and you will undoubtedly make a positive impact!

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Most employers understand that the most important asset a company has is its people. In fact, a recent study by Indiana University found that 10% of productivity comes from the top 1% of employees and 26% of output derives from the top 5%.

This means attracting and keeping top talent is imperative if you want to achieve top results.

But if you’re an SME, you’re probably wondering what you can do to secure top talent before the Fortune 500’s stake their claim.

The short answer is to work on your employer brand.

An employer’s brand is what communicates to potential employees what it’s like to work for your company. It shows your value proposition as an employer and what makes your company a great place to work. Companies that have clearly defined employer brands can attract up to 3.5 times more applicants per job listing than similar companies in the same sector.

When creating an employer brand, you need to start by identifying who your target employees are. Are you looking for candidates with years of experience? Or, are you trying to attract ambitious graduates? In each case, how you brand yourself is going to be different.

For example, a recent Accenture study revealed that millennials prefer to work in companies that have a creative and fun culture and that provide ample opportunities for career advancement, both of which were considered more important than salary.

 

More experienced candidates, who have been in the workforce for a number of years, are more likely to have family responsibilities, and according to a recent survey by Seek, are looking for job security, work-life balance, and salary, rather than a fun culture.

Many SME’s are already good at providing what top talent is looking for; it’s just a matter of getting the message out there. So, once you decide what type of employee is the best fit for your organisation, you need a branding strategy that appeals to this target group.

A great place to start is your company’s website. Besides being a great place to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, you can also use it to broadcast your employer brand message clearly, particularly in your ‘About Us’ and ‘Work for Us’ pages. Social media also provides great opportunities. Make sure your current employees are regularly posting on your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles, as they are the best brand ambassadors you have.

As long as you are consistent with your brand messaging, and make sure the wording in your job listings matches your overall brand message, you should find that you are attracting high quality candidates. And this is great news for your bottom line.

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We all like to think that we are open-minded, objective and non-discriminatory. However, the truth is that every day we are fighting our natural tendencies to be just the opposite. Unconscious bias underlines so many of our decisions and nowhere is this more prevalent than within the context of recruitment. Research has shown us time and time again that diversity is good for business , with diverse organisations consistently outperforming their competitors. But how do we create diverse organisatons when our natural tendency is to maintain the status quo and base our hiring decisions on deep seated prejudices and stereotypes?

What is Unconscious Bias?

The first step to tackling unconscious bias is understanding it and its various guises. Essentially unconscious bias occurs when our brains make sweeping judgements or assessments about a person or situation without us realising. These judgments are heavily influenced by our background, experiences, culture and education. In an effort to raise self-awareness, we have outlined some of the most common forms of unconscious bias below.

Key Forms

 

Conformity Bias –This is the view that as individuals we have a tendency to be influenced by the values or behaviours of others rather than exercising our own independent judgement.  For instance, we may be swayed by the strong opinions of more dominant characters on a hiring panel and fail to voice our true thoughts and opinions on a candidate. In these instances, good candidates may be overlooked if for instance one interviewer takes a dislike to a candidate.

Affinity Bias – Arguably one of the most common forms of bias within recruitment, affinity bias essentially stems from our comfort with the familiar. Research suggests that we have a natural tendency to favour those that we share some commonality with. Perhaps we attended the same university or we share a common hobby or personality trait. We are naturally drawn to what we know and by implication can end up in a position where we are hiring candidates in our own image something which has a huge impact for organisations seeking to establish a diverse workforce.

Beauty Bias – Whilst the majority of us would deny that we makes judgements on a person’s looks, research would suggest that we are pre-disposed to unconsciously favour candidates we find aesthetically pleasing. Whilst this can be based purely on our perceptions of attractiveness, more often it stems from our unconscious need to select a candidate who meets our pre-conceived idea of what someone in a particular role ought to look like. Research has identified that we naturally favour height in applicants for leadership roles. We may consider a beautiful woman to be a bad fit for a truck driving job but a good fit for a front of house position.

Halo Bias – Coined originally by the psychologist Edward Thorndike in the 1920’s, the Halo effect was initially used to describe the outcome of a social experiment whereby commanding army officers were asked to rate junior soldiers in terms of their intelligence, leadership, character and physique. Thorndike observed that in instances where one positive dominant characteristic was identified that this tended to shape the commanding officer’s views of the individual as a whole. The implications of this phenomenon for recruitment are significant. Upon reviewing a CV or interviewing a candidate for the first time, a potential employer may quickly hone in on one particular positive attribute, experience or skill and unconsciously make sweeping conclusions about that candidate’s ability or character. It seems that first impressions really do count and can work to our advantage where we make a good first impression.

Horns Bias – The Horns effect is essentially the opposite of the Halo effect whereby we unconsciously let negative first impressions cloud our overall view of a person. For instance, where a candidate is late for an interview this may be viewed negatively by an employer who may make a snap decision that the candidate is arrogant and has poor time management. Once this negative impression is created it is very difficult to reverse this mindset even where a candidate performs excellently at interview and displays other admirable qualities.

Contrast Bias – This form of unconscious bias is extremely common within a recruitment context. For instance, where an employer is reviewing a large number of CV’s, they are more likely to compare a candidate’s CV with one they looked at just before rather than reviewing it in isolation and on its merits. The same can be said in an interview context, where an employer is likely to directly compare a candidate they are interviewing with a candidate they interviewed just before. In these instances, quality candidates may be unfairly overlooked by employers who compare them to a previous candidate instead of judging them against the requirements specified within the job description.

Confirmation Bias – This form of bias involves favouring information that affirms our existing judgements and beliefs and overlooks information which would serve to contradict these. For example, where an interview panel are interviewing a candidate who has been recommended by a senior person within the business, they may already hold this candidate in high regard and unconsciously seek out information to support this preconception. At the same time, they may ignore any unfavourable qualities if this information does not uphold their existing pre-conceived notions.

Attribution Bias – Attribution is essentially the way in which we rationalise the causes of events or behaviours. We make self-serving internal attributions when we attribute excellent test results on our hard work and abilities, however where we have performed badly, we are more likely to blame this on outside factors such as the test having not been explained to us properly. When it comes to our judgements of others, this notion is flipped on its head. Research would suggest our tendencies are the reverse when judging others. For instance, in an interview we may attribute an individual’s successes to be the result of nepotism or luck and their failures to be the result of a poor work ethic or incompetence.

Now that you have an understanding of the various forms of unconscious bias we would suggest you read our curated article “7 Practical Ways to Reduce Bias in your Hiring Process”. This article offers practical guidance on mitigating unconscious bias within the recruitment process and may help you avoid the pitfalls commonly associated with this issue.

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Leadership takes on many responsibilities; it can be very busy and even tiring at times and therefore motivation levels can fluctuate. However, in this role you need to be able to keep yourself motivated because in turn it keeps the rest of your team motivated and thriving in the business.

It starts with keeping in check your own personal motivation – your passions, continuing to challenge yourself with various projects and remembering why you committed to these goals in the first place. What you are trying to achieve?

Sometimes the quickest way to lose motivation or even exhaust your level of motivation is to spend all of your time and energy trying to motivate and please the needs of your team. The truth is motivation is personal and you cannot force it upon others. Instead, leading by example through your own motivations, you can inspire others to motivate themselves and drive them to perform better. It’s showing the way towards success.

Methods for self-motivation can include:

• Learning new skills – What is needed for your current role? Where can you obtain these skills? Is there anyone who you can consult with for direction or advice?

• Taking appropriate leave breaks to relax & rejuvenate – Clearing your mind of distractions (and resting), taking the time to find out more about yourself or pursuing a personal goal or hobby.

• Spending time developing a self-improvement plan and setting goals – Where do you see your role developing in line with your business goals? Where do you see your team going and what do you need to do to help guide them there?

• Investing in courses and training that can lead to growth and development – Are there any conferences within your local area that are providing information on areas of development? Have you looked into local educational institutions and what courses they provide? Are there any online resources that you could review outside of business hours?

Building your own motivation by developing our skills and abilities also provides the knowledge and insight to pass on to others. If others within your team are seeking your advice or direction, you can provide recommendations and information on what you have looked into previously, helping direct others toward their future success.

Make sure to also keep following up on your personal progress and what motivates you, whether it is every month or six months. That way you can help keep your motivation levels consistent and on track.

If you are currently in a leadership role, what motivates you? More importantly, in what ways do you keep your drive and motivation consistent?

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Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?

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You have worked hard to get your promotion, now you have to set yourself up for success in your new role. Preparing to take on more responsibility will make the transition process run smoothly and will help set you up for future success.

So what are the next steps after you receive the promotion? What can you do to keep yourself on track?

1. Get clear expectations. The first thing you need to do is really understand your new role. What does the organisation expect of you? What does your manager expect of you? And what do you expect of yourself? Clarifying these expectations sets up a path to follow.

2. Set your goals What do you want to accomplish and why? Set personal and career goals both short and long term so you can measure your progress on the path. Don’t be afraid to share your goals or vision with management and get their buy in as well,

3. Talk to your boss. Get to know your manager and determine how you will work together. How and when will you communicate and what will help you succeed beyond the job description. These things are critically important to your mutual success.

4. Focus on building relationships. You may have moved to a new department with new peers or report to and a new manager. The relationships with the people around you are part of that job! Invest time in building relationships with your new peers, people in other groups, your boss, your customers, and if you are a leader, your team. It makes your working environment more positive and productive if you have a level of rapport with your team.

5. Learn what you need to learn. Remember you are new to this position so you cannot know it all on the first day! It is part of our development to learn new skills. Take notes, ask questions, request feedback to make sure you are heading on the path towards success. The earlier you set yourself up to understand the requirements and expectations of the role, the easier it will be to settle into the position and start delivering.

6. Celebrate! Of course you deserve the time to celebrate your promotion and share the excitement with others. Take some time for yourself and those closest to you to celebrate your progress and accomplishments. Celebrating builds your confidence and awareness, and it sets you on the right path for even better performance.

Sometimes we tend to rush from one project to the next without fully understanding what we have achieved. Every accomplishment is a stepping stone on the path towards your future. Show appreciation towards those who helped get you get to that next stage.

If you have been through a promotion recently, what steps did you take to continue to perform at your best and show that you were the right one for the job?

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Performance reviews can seem intimidating and can make you feel anxious, but at the end of the day they are important in helping us develop and improve our performance. Whether you have been in an organisation for a few months or a few years, the performance review is inevitable. With correct preparation though, they don’t have to be scary.

  1. Be Prepared

There is no harm in asking your manager ahead of time what to expect from the upcoming review. You can also ask fellow colleagues who have been at the organisation longer what they have experienced. Make sure that you are recording your work progress and achievements so that you also have something to present to management during the review process.

  1. Be Honest

This is an opportunity for you to share with your manager your honest thoughts and opinions on your current workload and working environment. This means acknowledging if you are struggling in some areas and working with management on ways to resolve or delegate certain tasks. This is also an opportunity to shine and really show your manager where you are excelling (as long as you can back it up with examples).

  1. You are Part of a Team

Remember that your performance review should not be just an opportunity for your manager to point out all of your failures. You should both be discussing how you are performing as an individual and a team member for the overall success of the company. If you have ideas or feedback to put forward on possible improvements or incentives for the team, now would be the time to do so.

  1. Know Your Accomplishments

Don’t sell yourself short. A manager may not always be present during the time of an accomplishment and may ask you what you have contributed to the company so far. Don’t let it fall under the radar, even get a colleague or witness to verify it if it was a team effort or if it helped another person significantly. If you are a facts and figures type of person, present it to management with the data necessary to support your review.

  1. Be Open to Constructive Criticism

These periodic assessments are provided to everyone in your team to help you improve. It is important to not take constructive feedback as though it is a personal attack or react in a defensive manner. Take the time to listen carefully to the feedback your manager has provided, and once you know they have stated all of the details, take the time to ask any questions about anything you may be unsure about. You can also ask what steps you can start taking to improve this area of feedback.

  1. Give Feedback

There should be a point in the review session where you’re asked if you want to give feedback on your colleagues, your boss, or the projects you’ve worked on. Be honest, but professional with your feedback, especially about co-workers or the way a certain project has been organised. Don’t leave anything out, but at the same time provide value by offering suggestions for improvement instead of just complaining.

  1. Ask Questions

Show that you were attentive and have initiative by asking questions at the end of the review on the next steps and areas of improvement. Be open to answer any questions provided by the reviewer as well. It’s a lot better to reflect on questions while the conversation is still fresh and even take notes on responses to reflect upon afterwards.

If you’re honest and assertive in your performance review and know what to expect, you’ll leave your review with more positive motivation than ever.

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We all want to be top performers at work. We want to work hard, achieve goals and be recognised for our efforts.

Here are four habits that will help you achieve more:

1. Make Yourself Accountable: While working independently is advantageous, it is also important to have someone that you report your progress to, whether it is members of your office team or a supervisor. This can often enforce more urgency and effort to complete the task when you know you need to report your progress to someone on a regular basis.

2. Discipline yourself to set priorities: It will make it easier to focus on the important tasks. Address the higher priorities in the morning when you are freshest and save the more repetitive ones for later in the day. If you receive assignments as the day is winding down, use the last five to ten minutes to prioritise for the next day. Lists are very helpful, and checking items off as you complete them will further encourage you to accomplish more.

3. Don’t let fear prevent you from completing challenging tasks: If fear takes control of our daily lives it can paralyse us from completing tasks. It results in achieving less and we may start avoiding commitment to tasks. The remedy for fear is planning. Start by making a list of things you have accomplished (even if it’s only two or three) and keep it in a visible place to use as self-encouragement. Then make a list of things you want to accomplish and the steps to complete each one. The best way to successfully complete a big project is to break it down into smaller pieces.

4. Avoid Procrastination.The longer you put off a task the more it will end up haunting you. You can save a lot of time and stress if you work on the difficult/important tasks first, then the rest of the day will seem less daunting.

What steps do you follow to keep yourself performing at your best? How do you keep track of your progression? What works best for you?