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7 Ways Thinking Like a Poker Player Will Boost Your Career

7 Ways Thinking Like a Poker Player Will Boost Your Career

Top poker players don’t usually wait for good things to come their way. They go out and make them happen. To be a winning player, you need to master skill, strategy and psychology. It’s not all about a well-timed gamble.

What does this have to do with you and your job? Research on successful players carried out by PokerStars shows that approaching the game in the right way is what separates poker stars from poker suckers. And these same traits can separate workplace high-flyers from, well, everyone else.

So start thinking like a top poker pro, and treat your career like a game – one that you intend to win.

1. Learn from your mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes at work. Every day. Even you. But what are you going to do about it?

In poker, a player that doesn’t learn from their mistakes is a losing player.

“The best players are able to learn from their own mistakes,” says poker superstar Gus Hansen. “This is what makes them the best.”

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So follow Gus’s advice and identify where you’re dropping the ball. Don’t deny error. Embrace it. Every time you learn from a mistake and improve your skills, you make yourself a stronger candidate for promotion.

2. Stay disciplined

Losing focus and self-discipline at work is the easiest thing in the world. Everyone gets complacent. We all lapse into bad habits.

But poker player Freddie Gasperian says, “To master poker and make it profitable, you must first master patience and discipline, as lack of either is a sure disaster.”

Freddie’s advice is clear – don’t switch off, don’t let your concentration lapse. The margins between winning and losing can be fine in any game – and a lack of discipline can be disastrous.So stay sharp. Be disciplined about maintaining a routine that’s conducive to good work. Focus on forming good habits – get enough sleep, stay hydrated and maintain a calm, organized working environment.

3. Keep a level head

In poker, losing your temper is worse than losing your concentration. Lack of focus can make you sloppy, sure. But losing your cool can lead to spectacularly erratic, reckless and ruinous play. (Poker players call this going ‘on tilt’.)

Poker player William J. Florence sums it up nicely: “Never to lose your temper, either with those you are playing with or with the cards.” This is a sentiment echoed by many players. “The cardinal sin in poker,” says Katy Lederer, “is becoming emotionally involved.”

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So poker isn’t a game for hot heads. It takes cool thinking to reach the top of the game. Heed this advice. Stay level-headed about workplace frustrations and setbacks. Don’t go on tilt when things don’t run for you…

4. Believe in yourself – a lot

Question: do the best people always get promoted?

No. They do not.

Often people go farther in their careers because they have confidence. They simply believe they’re the best.

Self-styled poker brat Phil Hellmuth once said, “If there weren’t luck involved, I would win every time.”

We know this can’t be true. But if Phil Hellmuth knows if he says it with enough confidence, his opponents might believe it. He might believe it. And that plays in his favour. Obviously, you don’t want to turn into an arrogant douchebag at work. But in a lot of industries, confidence is king. And if you’re not naturally a big believer in yourself? Hey, fake it until you make it.

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5. Make winning decisions, not lucky decisions

Just as a broken clock tells the right time twice a day, decisions at work don’t always have to be good to, well, work.

Sometimes you get lucky at your job. That’s great. But hot streaks don’t last. To be successful in any workplace role, you should start thinking about success like a poker player. Poker players think about winning decisions, not just winning money. Making good decisions leads to something called positive expected value.

This basically means that by making objectively good decisions – rather than decisions that turn out good – you’ll be a winner in the long term. Start to think about the expected value of your decisions at work – are they positive or negative? Can you justify that you’re making a good call, or are you just hoping to get lucky?

6. Get inside your opponent’s head

Sometimes you’re not the only candidate up for a job or promotion. Sometimes, you have an opponent. If you’re in the same workspace, they might be a direct competitor you see every day.

So what can you do to maintain an edge over them? Gus Hansen says, “An essential element in playing winning poker is to force your opponents to make difficult decisions.”

Basically, he’s saying ‘don’t make it easy for your rivals’. Play hard. Play fair. But make them doubt themselves. Make them wonder about what you’re doing that works so well. Great poker players have a way of getting inside their opponent’s heads. This leads to hesitation, and second-guessing. If you can replicate a little of this psychological gameplay at work, you’ve won half the battle already.

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7. Decide when to gamble

Climbing the career ladder isn’t all about skill-mastering, self-confidence and cold-blooded concentration. Sometimes, you have to take a punt – and gamble on yourself. But everyone knows that bets don’t always come off. So what’s the difference between a good bet and a bad bet?

For poker players, betting is all based around odds.

“Odds calculation does not necessarily turn you into a winning poker player,” says A.D. Livingston. “But if you ignore the odds for too long, you are bound to be a loser.”

Odds are all around us at work, too. What’s the cost-to-benefit ration of going for a new role? Asking for a pay rise? When you calculate that the odds of a promotion-yielding move are favorable, be prepared to bet on it.

And bet big.

Featured photo credit: maorix via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

A resume describes your critical skills in a way that compels a hiring manager to want to meet you. That is a resume’s sole purpose.

And make no mistake: Writing a resume is an art.

Today each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes on average, and somehow yours will need to rise above the competition. It’s actually harder to snag an interview from an online posting than to get into Harvard. But don’t let that intimidate you. Instead, open your laptop, roll up your proverbial sleeves, and let’s get to work!


Employers generally prefer candidates with skills that show leadership ability, problem-solving ability, and perseverance through challenges. So in the resume, you should demonstrate that you’re a dynamic candidate.

Refine the skills on your resume so that you incorporate these resume “musts:”

1. Leadership Ability

Even an entry-level employee can show leadership. Point out how your skills helped your department ascend to a new level. Capture leadership attributes with compelling statements.

Example:

“Led change that drove efficiency and an ability to cut 800 error-free payroll checks.”

2. Problem-Solving Ability

Most employees are hired to solve problems. Showcase that ability on your resume.

Example:

“Led staff in campaign to outrival top competitor’s market share during a down cycle.”

3. Perseverance

Have you been promoted several times? Or have you maintained margins in a down cycle? Both achievements demonstrate persistence. You look like someone who can navigate roadblocks.

4. Technical Skills

Consider including a Key Skills or Technology Skills section in which you list computer and software skills.

Example:

“Expert-level knowledge in Java.”

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5. Quantified Results

Nothing is quite as attractive as objective results. Did you increase sales by 25 percent? Win three new clients? Surpass the internal goal by 15 percent?

Use hard-hitting numbers to express your point. State the result first, and then provide a sentence or phrase describing the critical skills you applied to achieve the milestone.

Example:

“Boosted sales by 200 percent by developing new online platform that made it easier for customers to compare and contrast sizes, textures, and fit.”

6. People Skills

Employers prefer congenial staff members to prima donnas or mavericks. Relate your strongest soft skills.

Example:

“Organized, hard-working staffer who listens well and communicates effectively.”

7. Passion in the Field

Recruiters and hiring managers can intuit whether candidates care about their career performance by the dynamism behind the descriptions of their skills on their resumes. Are your efforts “transformational” or merely “useful?” Were your results “game-changing” or boringly “appropriate?”

The tenor of your words reveals whether you’re passionate or passive. (But don’t overdo it. See the “Hyperbole” section below.)

8. Being the Entrepreneur within the Corporation

Whether you took the initiative to create a new synergy or worked independently to land an opportunity, share how you furthered organizational goals through your self-directed efforts.

9. Your Adaptability

Have you switched career paths? Weathered a corporate takeover?

Make it clear that your resilience helped get you and your organization through the turbulence.

10. Confirming Your Expertise

Every job posting states experience requirements. Ideally, you want to meet these requirements or best them. But don’t exaggerate.


While proving that you possess the credentials described in the job posting, you can still stand out if you are able to offer additional special skills to showcase your personality.

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Consider adding any of these special accomplishments, if true:

11. Referencing Award-Winning Talents

If you played center on your college basketball team that made it into the Top 10 finals, then working collaboratively and cooperatively are among your natural callings. Be sure to say so.

12. Unveiling Your Work Persona

If you were repeatedly singled out for your stellar performance in work settings, becoming employee-of-the-month, top revenue generator, and so on — it’s worth mentioning.

13. Capitalizing on Commonalities

From Googling the hiring manager, you discover that she was formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. Listing your Spanish immersion course in Central America may draw her attention to the other outstanding skills on your resume.

14. Highlighting Creative Tactics

If, for example, in your HR role, you piloted an employee incentive program that became an industry model, include it. Such innovative thinking will command an employer’s attention.

15. Specifying All Accolades

Listing any honors received instills confidence that you will bring that level of perfectionism forward in a corporate environment.

16. Transferable Skills

You spend your spare time conducting your community orchestra. Highlight this after-hours pursuit to show that you have the critical skills needed to keep a team on task.


Take note: Hyperbole can hurt you. So, show your credibility.

Although it may be tempting to use embellishments to boost your experience, improve your job title, or enhance your education, resist. These days, a five-minute search will reveal the truth. And taking self-inflation too far could easily come back to destroy your career.

Hiring managers have their antenna up for resume hyperbole. A survey shows that 53 percent are suspicious that candidates are often dishonest.

Follow these guiding principles when writing your own resume:

17. Accurately Describing Your Degree

Make sure to differentiate between certificates attained and degrees earned, along with the name of the institution awarding them.

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18. Stating Job Duration with Honest Dates

Honesty is the only policy when reporting the length of a particular job. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, state the reason you have gaps.

Whether you traveled, had to cope with a family emergency, or went back to school to change your professional track, communicate the positive outcome that came from the hiatus.

19. Claiming Only the Skills You Truly Possess

Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

Conversely, if you feel like you must include them, then accurately qualify your level of competence.

20. Being Honest About Your Role in a Project

You may think you were the lead person because you did most of the work, but chances are your supervisor thinks otherwise.

Besides the 20 critical skills to include on your resume, here’re some important notes for you.

Bonus Tips for Writing a Resume

You Only Have 6 to 7 Seconds to Impress the Employer

Hiring managers and artificial intelligence “bots” may spend only 6 to 7 seconds perusing your resume, which means you need it to teem with essential skills, quantifiable achievements, and action words.

If, in fact, you believe that a “bot” will be analyzing your resume before it even lands on a hiring manager’s desk, be sure to include some of the actual key words from the posting in your document. There’s no reason why you can’t customize your resume to each job posting.

Another tip: Be sure to show your resume to a few individuals who work in your field, so that you can fine-tune the information as needed.

Starting at the Top

The Objective at the top of your resume is optional if you’re seeking the same job you already have, just at different company. However, if you’re switching fields, it’s critical to include an Objective, which is a one-sentence summary of the job you want.

For example:

Objective: To become web editor at a thriving news website.

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If you’ve been in your field for ten years or more, you will probably want to include an Executive Summary. This is a one-sentence takeaway about who you are, including the critical skills you amassed throughout your career.

For example:

Executive Summary: Award-winning creative director with over ten years experience managing teams on three continents.

Depending on your field, you may also want to add some skills as bullet points in the Executive Summary section.

And what about your Education? If you graduated from college within the past ten years, include your Education just below the Objective section (and forgo the Executive Summary). If it’s been over ten years since you graduated, then include your Education at the very end of your resume. Only cite your grade point average (G.P.A.) if it was exceptional—3.7 G.P.A. or higher, or if you won scholastic awards.

Ideally, the critical skills you amassed during college, at your previous job, and throughout your career will add up to a riveting portrait of a professional who’s ideally suited for your dream position: You.

Tailor, Tweak, and Fine-Tune

If you’re targeting different kinds of organizations, you’ll need customized resumes for each outreach.

Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, organizations will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

Approach Your Resume as a Skills-Based Story

Like any good storyteller, lay out the framework at the beginning. Include the skills you’ve mastered and state how you can add value—wording your sentences in a way that reflects the specific job you’re seeking.

Are you vying for a sales position? Quantify your results: “Responsible for 50 percent of all sales that resulted in $750,000 in annual revenue.” Use your critical skills, peppered throughout your resume, to tell the exciting story of your distinguished professional career!

Researching the organization that you’re targeting will help you make your examples specific. Does the company cater to a particular audience or clientele? Be sure to note any experiences you’ve had with similar audiences.

Putting It All Together

A resume is not a laundry list. It tells a cohesive story. Your story should highlight your qualifications and critical skills in a way that makes a logical, well-constructed case for your compatibility with the organization and its advertised position.

Packaging your story into the concisely prescribed format of a resume means that it will read as a synopsis — one that will hopefully land you the job.

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Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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