Performance reviews: How to showcase your talents

By Diane Sofranec, Managing Editor


Nearly every company requires employees to participate in the performance review process. But how can you get the most out of an on-the-job assessment with your boss?

Before your performance review meeting, take time to think about the outstanding work you’ve done over the past year. Pay particular attention to the successes your boss may not have noticed.

In part one of my performance review blog post, I explained how to ensure you get the most out of your performance review. This time, I’ll explore how you can show you’re an asset to your company.

Here are 4 steps to ensure your performance review will help your career:

1. Keep track of your accomplishments.

Now is the time to show how you are an asset to your company. Tell your boss how you helped your company save money, successfully completed a project before deadline and under budget, or established a valuable contact. Prove your value by documenting examples of the good job you consistently do. If you don’t do so already, keep track of the amazing work you do throughout the year so you won’t forget accomplishments worth mentioning.

2. Show off your stellar attitude.

Let your boss know you are eager to learn. Take on new challenges and responsibility. Volunteer for the work your colleagues shirk. Learn new skills that will take your job performance to the next level. Show your boss you are a reliable, hard working professional who can successfully complete a variety of tasks, no matter how large or small.

3. Disclose positive feedback.

Make sure your boss knows you received compliments from clients and coworkers throughout the year. If you have them in writing, present copies to your boss during your performance review. Clarify the comments with a brief explanation of what you did to earn the accolades.

4. Ask what you can do now to advance your career in the future.

If you love the company you work for, let your boss know you want to stick around and move up the corporate ladder. Convey your excitement about your future with your company by suggesting new projects or offering helpful ideas. Demonstrate your willingness to go above and beyond what’s expected of you.

Before your performance review meeting, think about the positive contributions you make to your company, and then share them with you boss. It may be one of the best career moves you make.


Diane Sofranec has more than 25 years of B2B media experience. She joined North Coast Media in 2013 as a digital content producer and is now managing editor of the company’s Pest Management Professional magazine.


Performance reviews: How to prepare for success

By Diane Sofranec, Managing Editor

If you’re like most employees, your annual performance review doesn’t do much to help your career. You meet face-to-face with your boss, you’re told you are — or are not — doing a great job, and you get the standard company raise — or worse, no raise at all.

Prepare for your annual performance review, however, and you just might score a substantial bump in pay, more challenging job duties and job security.

In part one of this two-part post, I’ll examine how you can use your performance review to launch your career in the right direction. In part two, I’ll explore how you can show you’re an asset to your company.

Here are 4 ways to get the most out of your performance review:

1. Learn the purpose of your performance review.

Ask your boss what he or she hopes to gain from conducting a performance review. Does your yearly raise depend on your job performance? If so, which of your abilities are being measured and how? Ask your boss what it takes to be considered an outstanding employee and then, make it happen.

2. Request an honest assessment.

If your boss doesn’t tell you how you’re doing, ask. Don’t get defensive if your boss gives you constructive criticism. Instead, assure your boss you can learn from your mistakes. Use the feedback to make necessary adjustments in your attitude or work habits.

3. Establish attainable goals for the year.

Look at your job description (if you don’t have one, work with your boss to create one) and add a few tasks you can complete over the course of the year. Take on a project you and your colleagues have been putting off or consider tackling a challenging task that will test your abilities. Set specific and relevant goals that you and your boss can measure. Be sure to ask your boss to update your list of duties in your job description. At next year’s performance review, you can showcase your accomplishments.

4. Ask your boss to track your progress.

Request the opportunity to check in with your boss on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis because yearly is too long to wait. That way, you and your boss will know you are working toward your goals and are on target to meet them. Before you leave your performance review meeting, set up a time to check in for an update.

Your performance review can be a stepping stone to a successful career if you ask the right questions and heed your boss’ feedback.

Diane Sofranec has more than 25 years of B2B media experience. She joined North Coast Media in 2013 as a digital content producer and is now managing editor of the company’s Pest Management Professional magazine.


5 crucial tips for interviewers

By Kevin Yanik, Managing Editor

This is part two of a two-part series on interviews. The first part of this series covers preparing to be interviewed, and the second part focuses on conducting a thorough interview.


iStock_interviewsInterviewing sources and job candidates is a regular part of my job as a journalist and a magazine editor at North Coast Media.

Conducting an interview may seem simple. You ask questions and receive answers. But the gig isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Getting the answers you seek often requires a thoughtful strategy, whether you’re interviewing a source for a news article or a candidate for a job opening. Below are five considerations to keep in mind related to interviews.

1. Do your homework.

Whether you’re interviewing Kim Kardashian or the Queen of England, preparation is a must.

You’re likely in a position to interview a source or a job candidate because you’ve advanced to a point in your career in which you’ve been entrusted with that particular responsibility. Still, just because you’re in a position of “power” doesn’t mean you can approach an interview blindly.

Preparing for an interview these days is a simple task considering we live in the age of the Internet. Information on a source or a job candidate can be accessed in mere seconds through a Google search. A person’s job history is often available on LinkedIn, and other tidbits can be gathered about a person through a Web search and social media.

Take at least a few minutes to prepare this way before any interview. If you aren’t doing this already, you’ll be surprised how much you can learn about someone in 60 seconds.

2. Ask thoughtful, relevant questions.

You’re more likely to get what you want from a source or a job candidate if you put in the necessary time beforehand and draft relevant questions. Plus, once you’ve established yourself as a knowledgeable source on the subject you plan to discuss, you’ll position yourself to gain the trust of the interviewee if trust wasn’t previously established.

Also, don’t ask cookie-cutter questions. Personalize questions as much as you can because everyone brings a unique perspective to interviews. Use your research to develop these questions.

3. Be prepared to adapt.

After all the work you’ve done preparing questions for your interviewee, one or more of these questions might not apply. Don’t fret. Just listen to what the interviewee says and be prepared to ask questions on the fly.

Your prepared questions should really be a loose guide for how an interview plays out anyway. It’s important to have questions prepared in case you hit a wall. Still, an interviewee will likely reveal a tidbit that surprises you – something that opens a door for another totally worthwhile discussion during the interview.

As the interviewer, be prepared to steer the conversation. But don’t be afraid to give a little leeway to the interviewee. You just might take away something you didn’t expect to learn.

4. Be professional yet real.

Whether you’re interviewing somebody for a news story or for an open job position, you’re expected to bring a high level of professionalism to the task. Still, you don’t want to present a false you.
For example, if you don’t quite understand something an interviewee says, ask for clarity. Showing a little vulnerability can further build trust. To me, this shows the interviewee you’re truly interested in what’s being said and that you want to understand the meaning.

On a related note: When circumstances permit, put your questions aside for a moment to get to know the interviewee better. Time may not always permit, of course, and, depending on the type of person you’re interviewing, you may decide it’s not worth briefly getting to know the interviewee on a personal level.

But, based on the research you’ve done, you may be in a position to ask about the city the interviewee is from or a colleague they’ve worked with. These little moments are another opportunity for building trust. They also help to put interviewees at ease if tensions exist, and they can help to build a rapport with the person for future encounters.

5. Follow up when necessary.

Always remember to say thank you. For example, a follow-up email is generally a go-to for me following a phone interview with a story source.

Remember that this source took the time out of his or her busy schedule to spend time with you. To me, the most precious commodity people can invest in another is their time. When people offer you their time, a thank you is always warranted.

Follow-ups are a little different on the job-interviewing front, though. A follow-up thank-you note is more of a must for interviewees, but interviewers should respond after these with a “thank you” and a follow-up of their own.

On the job front, follow-ups that tend to occur are inquiries from interviewees about their status as candidates. Interviewers are probably divided on how to best handle these responses, especially if an interviewee is unlikely to get the job.

I come down on this front simply: be real. You’re not expected to divulge every detail of a candidate search, but you can respectfully inform a candidate that a search is still ongoing or that you’ve moved in a different direction.

At the same time, you can express thanks for a person’s time and for the opportunity to meet them. Rejection isn’t easy to deliver, but remember that you’re dealing with a person – someone who deserves respect and a thoughtful response so long as that person handled himself or herself in an appropriate way.

Kevin Yanik joined North Coast Media in 2012 and has worked in B2B media for more than seven years in various editorial positions. Kevin is a Cleveland native and a 2006 graduate of John Carroll University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications.

Photo: iStock

5 crucial tips for being interviewed

By Allison Barwacz, Digital Media Content Producer

This is part one of a two-part series on interviews. The first part of this series covers preparing to be interviewed, and the second part focuses on conducting a thorough interview.

iStock_interviews1. Create a portfolio

Be sure to assemble all of your best work — including your resume, writing samples, references or whatever other materials apply to the position — in a portfolio case. Keeping your best work organized in a portfolio case or binder not only shows your preparedness, but also shows a level of professionalism that’ll impress the employer.

If a journalist is interviewing you for a news article or feature, bring extra relevant materials to the interview, such as photos or important documents. It could save you time in the future and strike up interesting conversation.

2. Research your subject

Whether you’re being interviewed for a job position or an article, it’s imperative you research the company and people interviewing you.

When interviewing for a job position make sure you research the company as much as you can. It’s important to know exactly what the company does, its brand, clients and employees. Gain an understanding of the industries the company represents and of its core values. Employers may ask you specific questions about the company, and knowing those answers shows your commitment to the job and foreshadows a strong work ethic.

When you’re being interviewed for a news article or feature, understanding the subject helps you draw inspiration for what types of answers you might give. For example, if you’re being interviewed for an article in an outdoor magazine, and you’re asked what your favorite hobbies are, you’ll want to focus more on activities like running or biking, rather than watching movies. Although, of course, it’s important to answer the question as thoroughly as possible, even if your answers don’t relate to the question asked. It will help you prepare for the questions you’ll be asked, and it’ll even help ignite natural, comfortable conversation.

3. Prepare questions to ask

In both interview cases be sure to prepare questions to ask the employer or reporter. In the case of interviewing for a job interview, focus on the position you’re offered and your future in the company. Some important questions can include:

  • What kind of experience will I gain in this position?
  • Is there room to move up in the company?
  • How much has the company grown in the past five years?

In the case you’re interviewed for an article, these are some imperative questions to ask:

  • Where will this article be featured?
  • What kind of audience typically reads these articles?
  • How can I help the readers further build an understanding of the article subject?

It also doesn’t hurt to take notes during an interview. Write down the employer or reporter’s answers to these questions to keep for future reference. It’ll force you to listen, rather than let your mind drift off.

4. Stay composed

A lot of people tend to get nervous during interviews. Make sure to take a deep breath to avoid stuttering and nervous ticks, such as shaking your leg or picking at your nails. Maintain eye contact with the subject — it shows professionalism and your ability to take control of the conversation.

Avoid using words like “um” and “actually.” According to an article by Time Inc., “For the experienced listener, ‘actually’ is a dead giveaway of an area that at the least needs to be further investigated, and may point at a deception.”

5. Say thank you

Saying “thank you” for these two types of interviews is a bit different.

When you’re interviewing for a job be sure to either write a handwritten “thank you” note or email to those who interviewed you. (Note: Don’t forget to exchange business cards, or at ask for theirs if you don’t have one!) Be sure to do this either the day of your interview or the day after. The immediacy of the “thank you” helps express your true interest in the position.

When you’re being interviewed for an article, the reporter will typically send you a “thank you” note or email first, in which you can respond politely. If you don’t hear anything from the reporter within the first few days, you can follow up with a “thank you” email.

Allison Barwacz joined North Coast Media in 2014. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating eNewsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites.

Photo: iStock

North Coast Media ramps up digital department with promotions, hiring

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Oct. 9, 2015 — North Coast Media (NCM) continues to invest in digital with the promotions of two digital team members and the addition of another. The promotions of Joelle Harms and Jesse Malcmacher, as well as the hiring of Kelly Limpert, are a testament to the importance of new media and emerging technologies in publishing.

“North Coast Media has a talented digital team that works hand-in-hand with the sales and editorial teams to make sure we have the best multimedia and the best digital advertising options not just in B2B but in publishing as a whole,” said Bethany Chambers, digital operations manager.

Limpert joins the North Coast Media team as digital media content producer. She graduated from the Ohio University E. W. Scripps School of Journalism this spring and has had numerous internships writing B2B content for the web. Limpert is working from NCM’s Cleveland office; she can be reached at or (216) 363-7933.

Harms, who graduated from the Ohio University E. W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2013 and joined NCM that year, has been promoted to senior digital content producer. She will take the lead in training producers and associate editors in the digital realm, and will act as senior editor for web and enews content. This role was previously held by Diane Sofranec, who was promoted to managing editor of Pest Management Professional magazine.

Harms will continue in her day-to-day role as digital editor of GPS World, Geospatial Solutions, Golfdom and Athletic Turf.  Meanwhile, Limpert will be responsible for creating content for Pest Management Professional and Landscape Management, and digital media content producer Allison Barwacz will be responsible for Pit & Quarry, Portable Plants & Equipment and LP Gas.

Malcmacher was named web developer/digital design specialist. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Malcmacher will be working closely with the vice president of graphic design in setting design standards for the company’s 14 websites, 35 enewsletters and countless other digital properties.

Joelle and Jesse stepped up as leaders of the digital department,” Chambers said, “and were already hard at work on these duties through their own initiative.”

Pit & Quarry, PP&E magazines welcome Chloe Kalin to lead online directory sales

kalin_chloeCLEVELAND, OH — December 3, 2014 — Pit & Quarry, the aggregates industry’s leading publication since 1916, and Portable Plants & Equipment (PP&E), its sister publication written for mobile operators across multiple industries, are pleased to announce that Chloe Kalin has joined their teams as marketing and sales manager for their online buyers’ guides.

Kalin brings with her 10 years of experience with sales and customer service in the retail and hospitality industries, with the last five years in a management role.

“We are excited to add Chloe to our team. I am confident she will be a great asset to our customers as she educates them on how to best take advantage of exposure opportunities offered by the industry’s most complete online directories,” said Publisher Rob Fulop. “We’ve made significant investments into these cutting-edge online reference tools.”

Each September, Pit & Quarry publishes its annual print directory of aggregates industry equipment suppliers and distributors. In 2013, a robust and enhanced online directory debuted in 2013 and is available at PP&E also publishes in September a print directory of suppliers to the portable plants industry and its online directory can be accessed at

To update or upgrade your online buyers’ guide listings, please contact Kalin at 216-363-7929 or

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