AT WORK

For those in need of a little Job love and career inspiration

Why thank you!

Hello my lovely readers, I bet you’re just starving for more career hints huh? Well, although this post applies to all areas of our lives, today a focus on ensuring you are memorable when in the job market. We’re talking the power of a ‘Thank You’.

Call me a nag, but while coaching my clients to build targeted personal branding, social media marketing and job search strategies to land their next job with speed, the one thing I tend to hammer home is the simple art of sending a ‘thank you’. Post network meeting, after an interview, in response to skills endorsements on LinkedIn, a network connection, a favour. ‘Thank you.’ So easy, so oft overlooked, yet oh so valuable.

You see, the human brain is programmed to compress experiences into three phases: The beginning, the peak and the end. In the case of a networking conversation or job interview, we tend to put more focus on creating a fabulous first impression, yet how we follow-up can play a critical role in how we’re remembered afterwards. In this era of e-communication, a thoughtful thank you note matters more than ever and costs us nothing but a couple of moments. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of a post-interview thank you.

Put it on paper

It’s easy to send a quick thank-you note via email right after you leave an interview or network chat however if your inbox is anything like mine, that email is apt to get lost in the pile of electronic communications, especially if it’s not urgent. Why not cut through that clutter by sending a small paper note? Writing on paper will also have the benefit of forcing you to be more thoughtful about what you’re writing.

Make it personal

A thank you note can be forgettable or memorable. Instead of a generic “thank you for your time,” why not tell the person what you specifically appreciated about your meeting. Were there particular qualities in the encounter that stood out in your mind? A moment that demonstrated why you would want to work there? Something you’d like the interviewer/networker to know you took away from the conversation? Assume others are also sending a thank you note, and personalise yours, so it stands out as unique. Oh! And if you’re sending more than one thank you note, take the extra time to make each one unique for we can easily sound disingenuous if our recipients compare notes and realise we took the easy way out and copied/pasted.

Be real but be neat

Writing out your note in longhand is a small window into your personality. Penmanship may be a dying art, therefore ensuring your writing is legible and neat will help put your best (type)face forward. I pride myself on my handwriting however when in a hurry, have been known to write in brail. Hurried chicken scratch writing won’t reflect well on you. Take care especially to make sure your signature is readable, so they know who sent the note.

Anyone you missed?

A thank you should not be reserved for the people with the loftiest titles. Who else helped you? A receptionist who worked on the meeting’s scheduling? Current employees with whom you privately chatted to get a sense of the workplace culture? Take a moment to thank these people as well. Such sweet gestures can often lead to these connections putting in a good word for you. Sometimes it’s people on the periphery that can make all the difference in a close decision. Case in point – the first person my old boss used to turn to for an opinion on someone he’d just interviewed was our Receptionist, followed by the Personal Assistants.

Still in doubt?

I recently read a debate between recruiters in a LinkedIn group where one had asked the question ‘What methodology do you use to help make the decision between two perfect candidates?’ The overwhelming response was ‘The first one who bothers to send me a thank you for the interview.’

Oh! And thank you for reading this post! Have any fabulous ‘thank you’ outcomes of your own to share? Why not drop them in the comments box?

Own that personal brand baby!

I’ve been thinking about my job of late. Unfortunately not being the recipient of a fabulous inheritance or lotto win, or a cashed up retiree, it’s the one thing for which I get my shit-kickers on and show up. Every day. For many, often on weekends and for the self-employed, a 24/7 ‘game on’. Been thinking too about how that job can suddenly disappear. Gone. Often without warning. Redundant through a takeover, merger or close down – gone. So too, my work email address, mobile phone and contacts and, unless I’ve actively maintained my ‘brand’ in the working world, my identity. I can become invisible. Even when showing up, we can still be invisible to the world beyond our work bubble. Well, not anymore my friend for that’s the stuff I coach folk on. Being visible. Problem is, not everyone feels comfortable with the concept.

I’m a private person, I don’t feel comfortable ‘marketing’ myself

 

Regardless of whether you are gainfully employed or currently in the job market my lovely reader, this post is designed to help you kick the “I’m a private person, and I don’t feel comfortable ‘marketing’ myself” last century self-talk to the wolves and step up, shape up your personal brand and ‘own’ it!

Let’s face it; companies spend millions on advertising to build and maintain their brand image. Well, we too are a brand. We are the CEO of our brand, accountable for our brand’s professionalism, the curators of our brand’s marketing. And as social media and professional social networks such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook Page (not to be confused with Facebook Social) continue to emerge, even more so. (In fact, not being active on certain platforms tells something about you!)

Today we have an endless number of possibilities to build, strengthen or recreate our personal image. The question is not whether you want to be a brand, but whether you want to shape it yourself or let others do that for you!

‘Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room’

Two friends shared their personal branding benefits:

I started building my personal brand online with the help of Google +, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and my website blog long before I became an independent public speaker. Sharing successes, posting video, images and summaries of conferences I presented at, writing articles on the customer experience including my own, customer delight being the premise of all my work. Doing this showed my network that I’m an expert in that field – this helped me to prepare the ground and find clients.” (Matt)

“I‘m working as an account manager at a technical company that offers project management software. As I’m interested in fashion, I post and write regularly about the latest tech trends in that industry on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. My boss sensed that my knowledge in that industry was of value due to my client portfolio garnering more and more fashion companies, and thus assigned new customers coming from the fashion industry directly to me.” (Clare)

You can see that building a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight. But when you are ready to invest some time in these steps, your career will benefit from it in ways you probably can’t even imagine now!

Six simple steps – interested?

Build your Personal Brand in Six Steps

1. A Personal Branding Statement

Concise and to the point, a personal branding statement shows who you are and what you have to offer. As you develop your statement, think about the following:

  • What are you good at, passionate about and thoroughly enjoy doing? (skill + interest = strength)
  • What makes you stand out from your peers? e.g. Your bubbly personality? Your ability to communicate complex things in simple language? Your problem-solving skills? Your eye for finding smarter ways to tackle tasks? Your ‘can-do’ attitude?
  • How do you want to make a difference? What superpowers have you used in your past and present roles and how have they benefited employers and clients?
    What do others say that you do exceptionally well?
  • What were the most important work-related projects that you completed – how did you master them? Did you collaborate with others? Have to be resourceful? Take risks? Did you have to be creative and think of new approaches, come up with new solutions? Use your network? Now identify three attributes that are common to the way you completed the projects.

Once determined you’re almost there. Compose that line and pop it above your Career Summary in your Resume, under your name in your LinkedIn profile, in the LinkedIn summary, your Facebook, Twitter, under your email signature, etc.

2. Backup that Statement

Until you have proof, your personal brand is merely hearsay. Think about all the times you used those attributes and jot down the challenges/situations you were addressing; the specific actions you took to address them and the quantifiable outcome of those actions. You now have yourself a few fantastic achievements to back up your brand statement. Add these to your Resume, LinkedIn summary, etc.

3. Audit

Now that you know how your brand looks and feels, it’s time for an audit! Enter Google. Search your name and see who shares it. If your name is common, consider using your middle initial or middle name. From there, push yourself to Google’s first page and ahead of that competition by building your brand through content on other platforms such as Google+, Instagram and Facebook Page, always with your branding byline included in your profile summary. The more active you are on your social media platforms the closer you will appear at the top. Using a consistent profile picture helps, too.

4. Consider a Personal Website

Having a personal website is not only one of the best ways to rank your name on Google; it also looks professional in your email signature and on your social media profile. It doesn’t need to be content rich. A simple site with content similar to your resume with links to other social platforms and a short bio is enough. Over time you can add a blog or a Twitter feed, YouTube links, publishes papers, anything relevant to supporting your brand message. You can also add some lines about your personal life – it gives people something to connect with instantly. Here’s mine  Jane Telford

5. Add (focused) value

Now that your brand is taking shape, the fastest way to establish yourself as an expert in your world of work is to share articles aligned with your brand message. You can do this by following Influencers, Channels and Media in LinkedIn. Be picky about the things you post, consistent in your chosen fields of interest and conscientious of the value you can provide your connections. Content that not only shows your expertise but also is of interest to your (potential) followers. Where possible, select a nugget that interested you in the article and comment as you share. Much more personable than merely on-sharing.

6. Influence!

Now the brand has been established, has been backed up with proof and further reinforced through content sharing on social media sites, being an actual contributing author can add further value to your brand. Consider using the blog application on social media platforms or even creating your own and using a savvy application to share your content automatically across all your social media platforms.

These are the steps that will help you to build your personal brand. It takes consistency and ongoing “construction” to keep the flame under your brand alight, but once you set up the basics, the brand will work for you and open new doors!

Last but not least – you can take a look at strong personal brands like Richard Branson, Andy Foote, Lets Grow, for inspiration. If you are my candidate and reading this, we are already well on the way to building a strong personal brand for that’s my expertise, my personal brand in action. We just need your story to be told right and in a unique way! Your personal brand – sharp, focused and most importantly, visible!

If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me here:  LinkedIn: Jane Telford

 

 Suffering fools gladly…or not

I don’t suffer fools gladly!

You know what lovely readers, I happen to loathe the expression ‘I don’t suffer fools gladly’ don’t you? If you’re like me, you’ll want to read on, if you like to utter this statement yourself, you’ll also want to read on. It happened to pop up recently and, rather than poke the protagonist in the eye with a blunt instrument, I took a deep breath and asked for clarification. Let me tell you the story…

You see, I was recently coaching a candidate on his interviewing skills and had asked how he might answer that hairy old chestnut ‘what are your weaknesses?‘ A pause, followed by a triumphant ‘I don’t suffer fools gladly’. I asked him to define ‘fool’. ‘Someone who makes a stupid mistake, stuffs up, doesn’t listen to instructions, has no logic’. Hmmm…


Originally coined by Saint Paul in a letter to the people of Corinth, ‘For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise’, with contemporary usage, the focus is now on the negative, ‘not’ to suffer fools gladly. Interpreted by the Cambridge Idiom Dictionary: ‘to become angry with people you think are stupid’ The Oxford Dictionary: ‘To have very little patience with people who you think are stupid or have stupid ideas’. I asked my candidate a question…

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Throwing shade on the tyranny of ‘always’

“Telling ourselves the story of “always + undesired outcome” wreaks havoc, not just on our ability to succeed, but on our lives. We begin to see failure and pain as a matter of fate. We stop believing a successful outcome is possible. That disbelief in possibility leads to inaction, which in turn seals the inevitability of our past becoming our future.” So says Jonathan Fields and he’s absolutely right. Have caught myself doing exactly that on more than one occasion and I bet you have too.

Wearing my career transition expert hat I often hear my candidates exclaiming ‘I always freeze in interviews’, ‘I always get rejected’, I always…(insert any number of negative job search fears) and no matter how much encouragement I invest in helping them reframe such statements, there are times when I realise they are simply mired in what Jonathan describes as ‘false negative absolutes’.

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Listen up gals!

Listen up gals! A few too many of you have been lamenting the struggles of holding your own in the work environment of late. Cases in point –  an Engineer fighting to establish credibility in her typically male-dominated industry, a banking professional consistently denied the opportunity to drive major projects due to her need for parentally driven flexible hours. Both exceptionally qualified, both exhausted, both hemorrhaging confidence. Bet it’s no surprise to you (and them) that some of the world’s most successful people have also braved the same tough road. Suffering the same fate? Well gals, I’ve sourced a few fantabulous quotes to help you get back to kicking ass – read on:

1.The Universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if you can find them.” – Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic

2. “Just because you feel fear doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Do it afraid.” – Joyce Meyer

3.Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

4.Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn

5.I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – Eric Roth

6.If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

7.Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

8.If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl

9.Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford

10.We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

Feeling better now?  Would love to hear your favourites – why not jump into the comments section and share. (Image – Christina Hendricks – Mad Men – Getty Images)

Image from Getty - Mad Men

Attention span of a Goldfish?

Who eats lunch at the desk while cracking a bunch of emails? Who attempts to answer random colleague questions while in the middle of a strain brain project? Who responds to personal text messages during a teleconference? Who views work emails while lip syncing headphone fed Sam Smith on the home commute? Yep! Guilty as charged. And I bet you do too. It’s called multi-tasking, and we all do it, but is it good or bad?

Multitasking – good or bad?

I asked the question of my work colleagues and the overwhelming response was – It’s good ‘cos it’s the only way I can get through all my work! If you’re echoing the same sentiment, it’s time to hit the pause button for, according to Susan Pearse, co-author of One Moment Please – It’s Time to Pay Attention –  attempting to multi-task is actually slowing us down.

Pearse says ‘We are living in an environment where distractions are growing and change is speeding up, and as we spend more and more time doing things, we are spreading our attention too thinly, which makes us less efficient’. She has a point. Think about this:

  • We are now exposed to enough information to fill 174 newspapers on any given day, yet our brain can only process 0.001% of this information.**
  • We now do one thing while thinking about another on average 47% of the time.
  • In the past five years alone, our attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds to eight.*

We now have a shorter attention span than a Gold Fish!*

According to the research, it can take twice as long to do two things at once. As emphasised by Pearce, multi-tasking results in things missed, mistakes being made, relationships becoming disconnected and, what’s more, has been found to be damaging to the part of the brain that’s responsible for positive feelings. Stands to reason that when we give our total attention to a task, we bring our full potential to that task (or person). Do it once, do it well and we are likely to feel far more satisfied.

But what to do if we are one of ‘those’  multitasking ‘failures’?

For starters, eating while we work is a productivity myth. Take even a five-minute break and connect with nature and we’ll perform far better in the afternoon.

If people are asking questions while you’re doing something, either politely ask them to come back in 10 minutes or, take a big deep breath, spin that chair to face them and give them your full attention. The key lies in switching our attention completely, not dragging it to this task while it’s still processing the previous one.

The average person checks their phone every four minutes (study by Teckmark). Avoid the distraction by moving it out of sight. Same with the daily home commute. Our attention is a limited resource; we often use it up during the day then have nothing left to give our people at home. Instead use that time to rest and recover.

Open plan offices are like beehives buzzing with distractions, so it’s important to manage our personal attention. It requires discipline but is well worth it for the most productive, happy workers are those who focus on the things that really matter.

Implement just one of these solutions and I guarantee you’ll have made one significant difference to your well-being. Well go on, what are you waiting for?

John Hamm - Mad Men

*You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish – Time

**’Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain’ – New York Times.

Getty images – John Hamm – Mad Men

Ten Super-Dooper Confidence Builders

Don’t know about you, but there are occasions when I find myself wanting to stay under the Doona (delivering new workshop content to an unknown audience); sneaking off to the foyer with champers and iPhone (networking events); feign a foreign disease (when the boss’s boss’ boss arrives in town) – get the picture? Confidence is a vital ingredient when going about our business both professionally and personally yet on occasion we dig deep and just can’t find it.

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Resolutions? Yeah baby!

365 new days – 365 new chances

Just love a brand new year don’t you? A fresh chapter, an opportunity to regroup, re-energise, re-set the button on life. Health, wealth, relationships, lifestyle, knowledge, career, spiritual – whatever the focus, a chance to make good, improve or simply enhance with one or two resolutions.

Given my 2016 New Year Resolution list was heavy on self-indulgence – Netflix marathons to catch up on missed gigs; French lessons to grapple the lingo; monthly massages to iron out tired muscles and so on – found myself in serious need of a tad more challenge. A Google journey brought up Richard Branson’s latest. I’m not talking the ‘fly to the moon’ stuff here, I’m talking the more gentle stuff. Read on for a few life changing options…

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