How to take criticism

Nobody likes receiving negative feedback, but reacting with tears or anger could cost you respect, a promotion, and even your job. Learn how to take criticism like a pro now and you can distinguish yourself as a confident and capable professional.

how to take criticism

1. Take a deep breath

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Don’t let your imagination run away with you and ignore your first instinct to deflect the feedback, or to become angry or embarrassed. Relax your posture and prepare yourself to listen as objectively as possible.

2. Assume good intentions

There are a lot of benefits to receiving feedback, no matter the source. When it comes from a manager or supervisor you respect, feedback can be difficult to hear, but it’s easy to assume your critic has good intentions. When you don’t like your manager or supervisor, or when the criticism comes from a colleague or peer, it’s tempting to dismiss what’s being said. Instead, slow down and listen carefully. Feedback is difficult to give as well as receive, and it’s best if you assume that your critic wants you to be successful enough to endure the awkwardness of offering unsolicited feedback.

3. Listen to understand

Listen carefully without interrupting. When your critic is done, repeat back what you heard. For example “I hear you saying I’ve been rushing through assignments and making too many mistakes, and you’d like me to slow down and proofread my work, is that right?” This allows your critic to clarify their meaning if you’ve missed their point or if they weren’t clear when they gave the feedback in the first place. You don’t need to analyze their assessment to let them know that you hear what they’re saying and that you value feedback.

4. Don’t get defensive or make excuses

Of course the person critiquing you doesn’t understand you or your perspective, and you know what? Let it go. You don’t have to agree with your critic for the feedback to be useful to you.

5. Don’t take it personally

It’s easy to imagine that someone who’s criticizing you is “out to get you” but the truth is usually that they are trying to help you. Professional feedback is useful and necessary to improve your performance.

6. Say thank you

This is the hardest part but being able to do it will distinguish you from your colleagues. Say directly and sincerely, “thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to give me that feedback.”

7. Don’t beat yourself up

Remember that no one is perfect and everyone has areas for improvement. It’s better to make a mistake and receive feedback than to make the same mistake over and over because you refused to accept criticism.

8. Request a follow up

If your critic is a supervisor or manager, it’s a good idea to request a time to check in with them for further feedback. This demonstrates a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and accept your imperfections. Your boss will appreciate your effort to improve your performance, and you can get more valuable feedback.


Keep a file of your accomplishments and positive feedback. This file will be very helpful when it comes time to switch jobs, as you have physical proof of your positive impact at your current job. It’s also a good idea to review your file when you’re feeling down on yourself so you can focus on the positive feedback as well as the negative feedback you receive.

Networking for Beginners in 7 Steps

To network is to develop social contacts with a goal of improving your career. This is crucial in large cities, where the competition for good jobs can be fierce or in smaller towns, where your personal and professional reputation matters.

For most people, networking is a learned skill and not a natural talent. Below you can learn networking for beginners in 7 steps.

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect

 Step One: The Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is your 20-30 second professional introduction. If you’re looking for a job, the goal of your elevator pitch is to tell you new contact who you are and what kind of job you’re looking for.  There are many ways to develop an elevator pitch as there are people in the world but the basic idea is to describe what you do, explain what sets you apart, and explain the types of opportunities you’re looking for, and then practice. See links at the bottom of the page for how to write your own.

Step Two: Think of everyone you know

Start with friends, family members, your spiritual community, your volunteer connections, old coworkers and employers, college instructors, or old clubs or associations. Make a list to track who you’ve reached out to, and for heaven’s sake, be polite. If someone has given you information or another connection, make sure to thank them and if possible, send them a thank you card, call, or even email. If their tip gets you a job, or even an interview, be sure to let them know.

Step Three: Networking is two way street

The best way to improve your networking skill is to be a good connection for others. Providing information or putting in a good word for someone you can vouch for makes you a valuable connection and your own network will be more eager to assist you.

Step Four: Socialize

Everyone’s busy, but good networking means planning time to build new connections. Participating in group outings (even recreational rather than professional ones), attending career fairs, and volunteering to help out with members of your network will help build your relationships and strengthen the bonds of your network.

Step Five: Stay in Touch

When you don’t need help from your network, it’s tempting to drop off contact. Similarly, it’s tough to follow up with members of your network you’ve already sought help from, but it’s essential to stay in touch. Set dates to follow up with your network, both when you’re seeking assistance from them and when you’re not. Check in with them. Your goal is to develop friendships and real connections and you can’t do that with people you only speak with when you’re desperate.

Step Six: Use the tools you have

Your resume and cover letter are great tools in your arsenal. Some networkers keep their resume on hand so they can easily pass it off to potential employers. If that seems too pushy for you, you can post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms that you’re interested in new job opportunities. The very best tool is LinkedIn and setting up a free personal account will allow you create an easily shareable resume and connect with people you’ve just met (as well as old connections) that you can add to your professional network.

Step Seven: Don’t exploit your network

Perhaps the most important aspect to networking is for you to respect their time, energy, and reputation. Don’t blow off job tips, even if you don’t think their suggestion would be a good fit. Reply politely and follow up with the job lead whenever possible. The worst thing that could happen is that you attend an interview and learn that you were right and that you don’t want the job.

Don’t nag or beg your network, or put pressure on them to help you. Your network will remember being treated poorly and will be unwilling to assist you again. Reciprocate any assistance they give you whenever possible. Say please and thank you, and put it in writing if you don’t know the connection intimately.  Follow step five and stay in touch with your network so that you have a real relationships with them rather than only contacting them when you need something. If a connection levies their reputation at work to get you an interview or a job and you don’t take it seriously, they will feel used and insulted.


Networking is a life long skill and it doesn’t come naturally to most people, so it can be intimidating to start, but with practice, you too can become an expert networker. |Crafting an Elevator Pitch | How to Give a Flawless Elevator Pitch | How to Create an Elevator Pitch

Why Humility is Essential to College Grads

You worked hard to earn the top marks and prove yourself both at college and in the professional work force. You’re ready to make your mark, get that great job, and start down a better path. And while your confidence is great, here are a few important things to keep in mind that will help you land and keep that first job.

Yes, you can be confident and humble

Yes, you can be confident and humble

There are no guarantees

If you struggle to find a job after you graduate from college, it’s easy to feel defeated. It’s natural to blame the school or program, the economy, or even the person who interviewed you for the job. Unfortunately there are no guarantees when it comes to education, and while a diploma or degree will definitely help, sometimes finding the right fit for your life and skills is challenging. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that your investment was a waste. If possible, contact your career center at your educational institution and see if they can provide you with any feedback or support. They may give you access to job postings you wouldn’t have found out about otherwise.

You won’t start at the top

It’s a cliché but it’s easy to forget that when you’re training to do a particular job, that doesn’t mean that’s the job you get right after college, which is part of why humility is essential to college grads. No matter what level of education have, all new hires start out at the bottom and have to earn respect at their new job. They can do that by being reliable and confident, and also by mastering the next few skills.

Practice receiving feedback and criticism

Just like in the classroom, if you want to improve your performance, you must learn to accept feedback and criticism. Training for a new job can feel vulnerable and intimidating. It’s hard to make mistakes in front of new coworkers and supervisors. Having the humility to accept feedback and adjust your performance accordingly is what will make you stand out among other applicants and new hires.

Learn to accept failure

What if you really mess up? Your first step is to be accountable and take responsibility for your mistakes. Shifting the blame to someone else might have worked in high school or college but in the workplace, employers don’t want to see a lot of finger pointing. They want employees who have the integrity to admit when they make an error and begin a discussion about how to fix the problem or improve their performance.

Ability to learn is more important than intelligence

The most important thing anyone learns at college or university is HOW to learn in the first place. There will always be someone smarter, more talented, or more experienced competing for the same job. What will set you apart is your willingness to embrace on-the-job learning, policy or leadership changes, new technology, and increasing workplace diversity.

Perfect Interview Wardrobe on a Budget

If you’re getting ready for the big interview but your interview wardrobe is less than professional, it’s time to get strategic. Here are some tips for putting together your perfect interview wardrobe on a budget.

Step One:

Decide how to present yourself.

When it doubt, always dress MORE conservatively. It’s better to overdress than underdress.

Look online.

Ask advice from friends and family

Don’t use your interview wardrobe to express your unique personality. Let your resume do the talking. If you’re not sure if it’s appropriate, it probably isn’t.

Step Two:

Shop your closet

Before you spend a cent, you need to take stock of what you have.

If it’s stained or creased: See your drycleaners.

If it doesn’t fit, consider a tailor.

Shop Your Friends and Family

Can you borrow items from a friend or family member?

Shop the Stores:

  • Shop thrift
  • Hunt off-season
  • Buy online
  • Be practical: Most people wear 25% of their wardrobe 80% of the time.

Consider accessories:

Consider your coat, bag, scarf, belt, shoes, and jewelry. Make sure any accessory is understated and is not distracting.


Ensure hair is clean and neatly styled—including facial hair. Any makeup worn should be conservative. Nails should be clean. Do not wear any scented products.


Step Three:

Trial Run

Try on your interview outfit and style before your interview and check a full length mirror or have someone take a picture of your outfit to ensure you’re confident and not missing anything.


Step Four:

Keeping Up Appearances

Change out of interview clothes immediately after returning home. Keep them separate from other clothes on quality hangers. Ensure they’re ready to go whenever you get the call.

dos and don't dress for interviews

Infographic courtesy of:


Top 10 Reasons to Study in Saskatchewan

In no particular order, here are the top 10 reasons to study in Saskatchewan

study Saskatchewan International Student

Winters are cold but summers are warm and green.

1) Saskatchewan Wants You!

In 2009-2010, Saskatchewan invested an extra 2.69 million dollars to develop new programs and strategies for encouraging newcomers to settle there.

2) Low Cost of Living

Saskatchewan’s quality of life is high, while the cost of living is low. That makes the province a great place to live and raise a family, and a great place to locate or invest in a business.

3) Affordable Housing

Housing costs are lower in Saskatchewan than in most major cities in Canada, and owning a home is affordable and achievable for most people.

4) Free Healthcare

Healthcare in Saskatchewan is funded by the provincial and federal governments. Unlike other Canadian provinces, there are no personal premiums or personal charges for basic and needed health services in Saskatchewan.

5) Lower Taxes

The provincial sales tax of 5% is the lowest of any province that charges a sales tax.

6) Shorter Commute

It costs less to get to and from work because the maximum commute time within major cities is about 20 minutes.

7) Booming Economy

Saskatchewan has the fastest growing economy in Canada and there are lots of available jobs compared to other Canadian cities.

8) Strong Communities

Saskatchewan residents are known for safe and friendly communities.

9) Excellent Education

Saskatchewan offers high-quality, affordable education at the pre-kindergarten, elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels.

10) Great Newcomer Resources

Adult Basic Education (ABE) Services – for more information, visit the Government website.

Regional Newcomer Gateways – Available in 11 cities in Saskatchewan. These offer free language training for those who qualify, and community and advisor support. Find more information on this website.

 For more information on studying at Saskatoon Business College, please follow this link.


9 New Year’s Resolutions for your Career

Whether you’re looking for a 2015 career makeover, or you’d just like to iron out some kinks in your professional life, these 9 New Year’s Resolutions for your career will set you on the right track to make this year your best yet.

1. Identity your skills

Are you a logical, detail-oriented person or a natural communicator? Would you rather work at a creative start-up or a multinational corporation? Take stock of your skills and your preferred work style with these free quizzes.

Human Metrics – Jung Typology Test

What Career is Right for Me? – Assess your skills, interests, style, and values

Rasmussen College Career Aptitude Test – based on your own skills assessment.

Focus Diagnostic – based on what motivates you at work.

2. If you hate your job, make a plan

If you dread going to work each day, you’re not going to do your best work and you and your employer lose out. You need to make a change. That might mean changing your role, taking time off, finding another job, or going back to school.

3. Go back to school

Maybe you need to refresh or upgrade a single course, or maybe you need to consider college, university, or a trade. If your career is stalled out, education and skills training is an excellent option for increasing your confidence and making yourself stand out to employers.

4. Practice work-life balance

Whether your goal is to see more of your friends and family, take more trips, develop skills or hobbies, or just reduce your stress, it’s important to maintain work-life balance. Set up clear boundaries and goals for time spent doing things that have nothing to do with work.

5. Manage your social media presence

Lock down your Facebook to ensure everything you post is private to control what employers and clients can see. This is important because it shows both discretion and tech savviness, which is valuable to employers. Here is a how to guide from Wired’s Wiki. Consider other social media outlets you use and see if there is anything you wouldn’t want your boss or clients to see.

6. Eliminate bad habits

Are you always ten minutes late? Do you check your phone constantly in meetings? Do you leave dirty dishes in the staff room sink? Do you procrastinate on large projects, or check Pinterest or Reddit when you should be working? You might want to break those habits now before you hear about them from your boss.

7. Augment interpersonal skills

Are you a strong communicator or could you use some improvement? Whether you’re working with difficult people, or practicing being assertive, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your interpersonal skills. Knowing how to communicate effectively with all your coworkers (yes, even the difficult ones) makes you valuable, diplomatic, and effective.

8. Challenge your beliefs

The things we believe about ourselves aren’t always true. We might believe we can’t change a certain habit or that we can’t learn a new skill. Embrace opportunities that challenge your beliefs about your limitations and you will be surprised what you can accomplish, both personally and professionally.

9. Build a comprehensive strategy for how to handle your career in 2015.

Review the last year and make a realistic, actionable plan for how to set your goals in motion this year. Here’s an excellent example from Chris Guillebeau, author of “The Happiness of Pursuit”.

Copyright Bill Waterson, Calvin and Hobbes.

Copyright Bill Waterson, Calvin and Hobbes.


Have a safe holiday and a happy new year from everyone at Saskatoon Business College.


7 Signs You Need a Change in Career

As 2014 draws to a close, it’s time to take stock of our personal and career goals and decide if you need to make a major career change.

1. End of weekend dread

Whether it’s Sunday evening or Thursday night, the end of your weekend fills you with dread. You start to wonder if you could get away calling in sick with food poisoning or a great-aunt’s funeral.

2. A monkey could do your job

You don’t feel skilled or appreciated at your job, which leaves you feeling expendable and sometimes frightened about your job security.  It’s important for your long term satisfaction to feel like your work is meaningful and contributes to the betterment of the company.

3. Working for peanuts

Money isn’t everything, but it does pay the bills. If your job isn’t paying yours, it’s time to figure out how to cut your costs, upgrade your skills, or change careers altogether. You’re the only person who can ensure you’re paid what you’re worth.

4. Envy of friends

Do you force a smile and a hearty “congratulations!” when a friend or relative tells you about their job or accomplishments, all the while seething with envy? Do you cringe when you see people with less experience get promotions and raises and opportunities for travel and great perks? Don’t let that resentment eat away at you.

5. You feel trapped

Are you able to learn new skills at your job? Can you plot your next career move and how to achieve it, or is your employer happy to keep you exactly where you are, with no room to grow?

6. Toxic workplace culture

Maybe it’s your boss, or just one terrible coworker. Maybe it’s the entire company culture. A workplace is toxic when there is constant tension, little positive communication, and no trust. Over time, a toxic workplace culture can have a negative affect on your behavior, your goals, and even your mental and physical health.

7. You can’t see your future

Can you imagine yourself with the same job, or even the same company in one year? How about five? Or ten? If you can’t visualize yourself growing with your company, it might be time to consider a change.


…but don’t quit your job in search of some vague, perfect, ideal job that may not exist. No matter how much you might love your job, there will always be challenges and difficult people.

Do you live to work or work to live?

Have you heard the phrase “work-life balance”? It’s not just corporate speak for juggling our personal and professional lives perfectly. It’s crucial to remember that balance is important, but everyone’s priorities are slightly different when it comes to “work-life balance”—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Ultimately you have to understand why you work in the first place.

Are you the type of person who lives to work, or the type who works to live?

working woman

Hard work can definitely pay off.

Live-to-work types of people often believe it’s very important to love one’s job. They are driven and often energized by professional accomplishments. They might enjoy the thrill of turning a profit for their company, or they might have a deep personal investment in working for a cause. These people not only have to believe in necessity of their work, but they become disenchanted if their work requires them to do something they find meaningless or unethical. People who live to work even talk about their work differently. They often strive to have a “career” instead of just a job, and they are more likely work on “projects” than “assignments”.  They believe hard work, creativity, and professional achievement are extremely important in their lives.

So what kind of person lives to work? It depends on who you ask. This type is sometimes characterized as the workaholic family man, but this is an outdated perspective. Many men and women, whether they are in professional fields or not, can be described as living to work. There is also a perception that young people—specifically Gen Y—is not interested in working hard and paying their dues. However, studies have shown that many members of both Gen X and Gen Y consider meaningful, ethical work to be vital in their professional lives.

Break from work

There’s nothing wrong with preferring this to the office.

Work-to-live types have a different philosophy. After all, everyone needs a paycheque and only a lucky few have the luxury of doing having a fun, glamorous job. As far as these folks are concerned, it’s important to be realistic, play to your strengths, and do what’s necessary to keep the money, benefits, and vacation time rolling in. There are more important things in life than work. There’s family and friends; fitness, hobbies, and adventures. Anyone who has dozens of professional projects on the go can tell you that something’s got to give, and that something is usually downtime. People who work to live would rather keep their heads down at work and plan for their annual vacation, or forgo overtime to spend time with their kids, or practice for the upcoming marathon. It’s not that they can’t work hard. People who work to live use their jobs as a means to an end, while people who live to work find their jobs an end all on their own.

It’s often true that very young people work to live, since they have not had the opportunity or experience necessary to engage in work they find meaningful. Working to live has less to do with how young or old someone is, or their economic class, and more to do with where they derive pleasure in their lives. If traveling or training or weekends at the cabin are more important in your life than a major acquisition or breakthrough at work, you might just be the kind of person who works so they can live the life they desire.

It’s tempting to look down on whichever work philosophy we don’t subscribe to, and think those people are boring obsessives or lazy clockpunchers, but that’s both unfair and an oversimplification.  Few people are entirely one type or the other, and it’s normal for one person to transition from one type to another over the course of their life. Someone who is young and has the freedom to work as much as they like may strive to get ahead and then scale back once they have a family. Raising their children and having flexibility might be that person’s highest priority. As their child matures, they might decide to go back to school or try something new for work they’ve always enjoyed and suddenly, the might live to work all over again. One way is not better than the other. Different lives require different priorities.

Family matters

We don’t all have the same priorities – and that’s okay.

It’s important to understand which category you (mostly) fall into, so that when you’re planning your personal and professional life, you are realistic about your desires and your goals. Will you be happy at a job where you might be asked to work most weekends or receive emergency calls at three in the morning? Probably not in you work to live. Will someone who lives to work be happy receiving more money and benefits to be given dull projects or work for a company he or she find unethical? Maybe in the short term, but in the long term they want a career they can be proud of.

So think about what matters most in your life and why and see if you can answer for yourself whether you live to work, or whether you work to live.

How to Change Your Life with SMART Goals

We’ve all made choices in life we regret and most of us have dreamt of a fresh start. It’s important to remember that no matter where you went wrong and no matter how overwhelming a major life change may seem, you are never stuck. The key is to look at the big picture. Take your greatest goals and aspirations, and break them down into small, manageable chunks.

Don’t underestimate the importance of setting concrete, realistic goals. Everyone wants to win the lottery and retire to a private island, but real goal setting involves taking small, actionable steps and making them a habit in your life.

In order to ensure your success, it’s important that your goals meet a few criteria. One great method of evaluating your goals is the SMART method.

SPECIFIC – The more specific you make your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. Consider “lose weight” vs. “lose five pounds this month”, or “get a better job” vs. “enroll in an accounting class and apply for that bookkeeper position”. Vague goals can seem impossible to fulfill but specific goals can become part of your daily routine.

MEASURABLE – Ensuring your goal is measurable helps keep you on track. If you know you need 70% on all those accounting tests, you know you need to study. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to get exercise and ensure you’re filling up on fruits and vegetables. Breaking a large goal down into measurable steps can be motivational, since you can see yourself getting closer to achieving your goal every day.

ACHIEVABLE – You need to be realistic about your resources. Do you have the time, energy, and finances to achieve your goal? Can you get them? Figure out who can help you to achieve your goals.

REALISTIC – Be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses. Expect the best but plan for the worst. If you don’t account for hiccups along the way, you may find yourself easily discouraged by minor setbacks. Make imperfection part of your plan.

TIMELY – It’s useful to give yourself a set time-frame in which to achieve those goals. If you leave the deadline to achieve your goal completely open, it’s easy to procrastinate making important decisions or actions and lose track of all the progress you’ve made. Setting realistic deadlines and holding yourself to a schedule is the best way to ensure you achieve your goals.

Above all, take it one day at a time. Forming new habits or making a major life change is challenging. If you lose sight of your goals one day, get back on the horse the next day. Give yourself the benefit of a fresh start, and be kind to yourself. You’re choosing to invest in your future and that’s always a good thing.

Goat Setting the SMART way

No one starts at the top










For more information on SMART goal setting:

University of Victoria

Vancouver Coastal Health

Heart and Stroke Foundation, Saskatchewan

Life Experience Counts: Why It’s Okay To Take the Scenic Route

Shortcut or Scenic Route?

Anyone who’s ever taken the long road knows something about the starting over. Some people have always known what they wanted to do with their life. The rest of us take the scenic route.

Maybe you’ve tried college or university before, or maybe just getting through high school classes was a struggle. The funny thing about the job market that we live in today is that experience is the great equalizer. It’s possible for even the most naturally gifted academics to leave university without the skills necessary to get the kind of job they believe they deserve.

What if school was never really your thing? Most people don’t remember their teenage or high school years fondly. It was a hectic, emotional time. Maybe you put your head down and tried to stay focused. Or maybe life just got in the way.

life experience

Life Experience Counts Why It’s Okay to Take the Scenic Route

Getting Ahead 101
Remember how I said experience was the great equalizer? What does that mean?

It means that whether you’re finishing up your last year of high school and you know exactly what you want to do with your life—or if  (like me) you took the scenic route—your experience is an asset. Jobs you’ve worked, classes you’ve taken, people you’ve met, and the challenges you’ve faced along the way have made you who you are today.

If you’ve ever scrolled through endless pages of job ads you’re not quite qualified for, or showed up to an interview filled with professional jargon you barely understand (I’ve done both), you probably wished that somewhere along the way someone offered a class “Getting Ahead 101″. My course outline for Getting Ahead 101 would have looked something like this:

  1. What employers are actually looking for and what skills and education they consider important.
  2. How to write a resume, ace an interview, and assemble a professional portfolio.
  3. Which industries are growing and which schools offer programs with practical skills.
  4. How find the right job fit for your goals, your interests, and your lifestyle.

Most secondary schools and universities don’t offer a very realistic version of my dream course. Some people feel so much pressure to get an education that they pay for a program they’ll never use. Others languish in the workforce with jobs that pay too little and don’t engage their true skills.

No matter our backgrounds, most people looking to start over want the same things: more money, benefits, security, and room for advancement. They want to make a strategic investment in their futures.

Starting over requires careful planning, self-reflection, and goal setting. More than anything, though, it takes courage. If you’re considering making the leap then give yourself a high five and a pat on the back. Deciding to invest in your future is always frightening because—like everything else in life—there are no guarantees. Remember always to ask questions, get the facts, and do your own research. You’re not the same person you were last year or even 10 years ago. Who knows who you will be by this time next year?