Each year, or multiple times per year, say quarterly, the boss brings in each employee to his or her cushy corner office for that often dreaded, sometimes highly anticipated, but always expected, performance review. If you haven't had one yet, you're bound to eventually. But it's nothing to get frazzled about, in fact, it can bring you to the next phase of your career.

Whether or not you feel like you've done a stellar, or at least satisfactory job leading up to the review, the prospect of actually sitting there to have your work hashed out, picked apart, and evaluated is daunting. You want to appear confident and put forth the best version of yourself as you discuss your performance, from the A+ moments to those not-so-remarkable ones. Hey, we all have 'em.

You may be nervous, hopeful, or even self-assured, but no matter your emotions, you really never know what's going to go down. However, you can prep yourself in order to shine like the star you know you are or aspire to become. Follow these three tips so your performance review deserves a standing ovation!


Prepare Ahead of Time

Even the most confident employee should get ready before the big meeting. Collect your facts and figures, make notes, and rehearse key talking points. Of course you know what you've been up to since your last review, but your boss is busy, and may only have a broad overview of what you have done specifically. Listing out your main accomplishments and what you've done to move the needle will be imperative discussion points when your boss needs to know what makes you a value to the company.

As per USA Today, prepare a self-evaluation. "Plan ahead by keeping a file of your accomplishments. Then, prior to your review, draft a document reviewing your accomplishments. Use bullet points, making it easy to read with measurable outcomes. Provide your self-evaluation to your boss prior to your review."

This planning will allow your boss to save time during your meeting and already have a feel for what to further delve into. It will also show that you're organized and prepared. Plus, it will help you stick to a positive discussion trajectory and give your boss a better understanding of your progression and work ethic. It may also ease any jitters you have regarding forgetting prime topics you want to cover during the performance review.

State Plans for the Future – Personally and Professionally

So you've made it this far, but what's to come? A plan of action is just what your boss wants to learn about once you've followed up on the past. Knowing that your boss wants to hear about goals and moving forward is a positive sign that your performance review made the grade up to that point.

Talk about how you want to help make the company stronger and grow professionally – both for your own goals and for the good of the company. Forbes interviewed some members of the Young Entrepreneur Council. One member, Brittany Hodak or ZinePak said, "Entrepreneurs value employees who are constantly striving to make themselves better—having a more skilled team leads to a better company. Another member, Phil Laboon of Clear Sky added, "I am always looking for my employees to tell me things they would like to pursue within the company. By suggesting a project they would like to manage, it shows me their continued interest in the company. I feel confident that if it's a project they are suggesting, then they will excel at it."

Showing that you have a vested interest in the company's success is just as important as what you've done so far. There is always room for new strategies, projects, and improvement. Prove you're in it for the long haul and have visions for the months and years to come.

Discuss What's Not Benefiting You or the Company

Not every breath of your conversation during your review needs to be rainbows and butterflies. It's beneficial to discuss items that need improvement too. Honesty is valued and an ambition to do things better is always appreciated by an intelligent boss. It's also a good idea to discuss ways to change things up or introduce new practices and performance-enhancing programs or technology.

As per Forbes' interview with entrepreneurs, Manpreet Singh of Seva Call said, "I love it when team members keep me informed of new performance-enhancing options. And performance reviews are the perfect way to contextualize a conversation about the benefits of adopting new tools and methods."

When you can be open about room for improvement, everyone wins. As USA Today puts it, "Get consensus with your boss in terms of how you'll address your opportunity areas or weaknesses. Remember, we're all works-in-progress so have a positive attitude about improving your performance."

Keep your ideas well-formulated – don't go on a tirade about co-workers in the office or nitpick about inconsequential issues. Most importantly, at your next review, be prepared to exhibit how you've made progress in the areas discussed.

After a successful review and the timing is right, a raise in salary may be just what the doctor ordered. Need help in how to approach your boss to discuss a salary increase? Check out these tips to make it work in your favor.

Are you ready to shine at your performance review? Keep cool and show your boss you're an asset.

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Developing further skills can boost your career at any stage.

Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.

Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.

But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.

Tableau

Tableau's data visualization capabilities are comparable to Domo and Power BI.

Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.

Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.

More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.

Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.

Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

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Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.

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