Earning

For the job jaded

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.

Five steps to crafting the perfect thank you note…

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?

 

 

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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The modern day rolodex? Uh huh!

LinkedIn – the Modern Day Rolodex. Least that’s how I see LinkedIn yet as a career management specialist, I’m oft surprised when my candidates oppose the idea of having a LinkedIn Profile. ‘I don’t want people invading my privacy‘; ‘stealing my personal information‘; ‘my ex stalking me‘; ‘people pestering me to connect‘; ‘no one I’d want to connect with‘; ‘I’m shy, I don’t like to put myself out there; I don’t have Facebook or Twitter – why would I want LinkedIn?

People will steal my personal information!

Common and valid (if obsolete) objections for let’s face it, who doesn’t balk at memories of James Murdoch arguing ignorance over News International’s phone tapping scandal, Julien Assange sharing hacked top secret dialog, Jennifer Lawrence finding her private photos splashed across the net? Of course we’re wary about our privacy. 

The thing is, security protocols on sites such as LinkedIn are well managed for the site’s reputation rides on its commitment to protecting its members; and the privacy settings within are readily accessible and in our own hands. 

What’s more our private lives are not on show here, we’re talking about the professional version of ourselves being visible – to clients, potential customers, head hunters, long lost friends, colleagues; and for those in the job market – recruiters. 

But I have business cards!

Sure, people can contact you via your business or v-card provided they have one, your company’s website may even showcase your Biography and yes, your colleagues already know where to find you. But what if your position suddenly became redundant? Would you want your ‘Personal Brand’ at the mercy of an obsolete business card or out of date Bio? Your specific knowledge and expertise subjected to a former client, customer or colleagues’ vague recollections? Look on LinkedIn as your modern day rolodex.

I don’t want people pestering me to connect!


Given 90% of people Google you before they meet you for the first time, 98% recruiters and head hunters use Social Media in general to find suitable talent, 97.3% use LinkedIn and 65% rely exclusively on the site alone* to find talent, you will want these people to find you. Preferably your well executed professional LinkedIn Profile showcasing said expertise. Not wanting people pestering you to connect? Get over it!

You calling me a Social media dinosaur?

With 380 million users globally, 7 million in Australia alone, 2 new members joining every second, those without a profile are already being viewed with suspicion. Technically disadvantaged? Something to hide? Don’t be ‘that’ social media dinosaur your younger colleagues scoff at. 

I don’t have Facebook or Twitter – why would I want LinkedIn?

Think of LinkedIn as your mini ‘Personal Brand’ marketing website. And it’s free! And once you’ve established your profile you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who will want to reach out, connect; even head hunt or job offer you. Dig into the many additional offerings LinkedIn provides and you will soon be wondering just what all that fuss was about!

Still need convincing? Check this out: Erik Qualman – Socialnomics 2015

Stay tuned for my hints and tips for building a profile that will stand out and set you apart from the masses. Once done we’ll then take your fresh new profile from the driveway to the freeway!

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* Bullhorn Reach Social Recruiting Activity Report

Oh! The Mighty Word…

How to take charge of that emotional roller-coaster ride and win back your sanity.

As a career management expert, a great deal of my work involves helping individuals experiencing role redundancy to successfully transition to their next job. Identifying what they offer, what they need in return, what that next move looks like, where those opportunities lie; developing effective marketing resources, a sound job search and networking strategy, a campaign plan and finally, the confidence to keep the butterflies in formation sufficiently to interview, negotiate and land that next job. Thing is, none of this can take shape unless the individual is in the right frame of mind to begin with.

How we deal with redundancy depends on a number of factors. Age, our family, lifestyle and financial situations, past experiences, our natural disposition when handling change or upheaval – each playing a part in how effectively we cope with such momentous events. Emotions we deal with might include shock, anger, denial, worry, resistance, possible depression, acceptance, exploration and eventually, a new beginning. Thing is we don’t stop methodically at each station. Wouldn’t it be so much more convenient if we could just exclaim – ‘Shhh! Don’t disturb me for this is my worry day, hand me my worry beads, a glass of wine, a very big one please, then bugger off!’ Nope! It’s human nature to ricochet back and forth thanks to our emotional state on the day.

imageFor some experiencing redundancy it’s ‘Yea! I’ve just wheeled out a barrow full of payout money from that fantastic job where they simply couldn’t afford to keep me anymore, a nice reward for my services – now where would I like to work next?’ For others it’s ‘Oh my god, I’m taking the kids out of university, selling the house, moving in with the mother in law, downsizing the car, calling Centrelink!’ And on the rare occasion, ‘I’m taking ’em to court for unfair dismissal, after all the years I’ve served them, this is how they repay me! Well they won’t survive without me I can tell you, the place will go to hell in a basket!’ Whoa! Manage your ‘brand’ there fella! Yes, we each have our own processing mechanisms, but let’s look at the situation objectively…

For those beyond coping, immediate referral to their company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and/or a counsellor or psychologist becomes a must for I would never assume to step into the specialist’s shoes. For others, simply implementing a myriad of coping mechanisms to help process, digest and assess before moving on to new beginnings will be sufficient. Surrounding one’s self with supportive family and friends, scripting those yet to grasp the situation; hobbies, health kicks, a long deserved holiday, tackling long overdue house renovations, clearing house clutter, job search planning and preparation to name a few. Trust me, I’ve been there twice and implementing a number of these certainly helped. But the one thing that particularly stood out for me, and continues to do so whenever life throws curveballs, is Journalling.

Journalling? Wait! Did I just hear a collective sigh?

Hey that’s ok for journalling is not for everybody.  But for many, a chance to clear the head of the day’s clutter, make sense of those swirling emotions, negative thoughts and self depreciating checklists. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed and needing to shut the chattering monkeys down sufficiently to sleep well, I reach for my journal. It just works.

Whether dealing with job lotravel-journal-luigi-azivino-ilmungo-43496328-flickr-ccbyncsa2 copyss or simply needing to process excessive brain activity and restore calm, it’s no surprise that journaling has re-emerged as a valuable tool for managing your personal carriage on the roller-coaster of this fast paced world. I don’t believe journals/diaries ever left, just that we’ve become too busy to use them…oh the irony! Take a look at a Kikki K catalog these days and you’ll see an evident resurgence – ‘A Sentence a Day Journal’; ‘100 Dreams Journal’ ‘Goals Journal’, ‘Words to Inspire Journal’, ‘Happiness Journal’, ‘Gratitude Journal’, ‘365 Journal’ – the list goes on.

Ok! So you’ve decided to give it a go. You’ve purchased your smart looking journal and you’re now wondering what the hell you’re meant to do with it?

Here’s a start – before turning the lights out, open your journal and put your favourite pen to the paper. Now write the first thing that comes into your head…a thought, a feeling, an emotion, a good thing that happened, a bad one, people you interacted with, a memorable snippet of conversation, a quote you liked, something you learnt…doesn’t matter what you write, just write. Now here comes the liberating part.

If you are feeling troubled, write down all the contributing factors. Yes, list them. Every single one of them, big or small. All of ’em! Now review each point and ask yourself ‘Is there anything I can do about this one?’ If the answer is ‘nope it’s beyond my control’ – your job being made redundant for instance – cross it off the list. Grant yourself permission to put a big line through it! Repeat with each point until you are left with only those you can control. Now remind yourself that you will never waste another moment of your valuable energy dwelling on those that fell on the cutting floor.

If worry is your middle name, why not take a leaf from Dale Carnegie’s perennial book ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ and think to yourself – what is the absolute worst that could possibly happen, yes, the absolute worst…then ask yourself how likely is that to ac20131129-201201tually occur? Work back from there on steps you would take to avoid that happening in the first place and suddenly, what might have felt insurmountable just lost it’s spotlight for you are already planning ahead. Which leads to the good part!

Look at the remaining points and think of just one action you will take to address each one, one by one. Just one action (baby steps) per point. Once done, take just three action steps (remember, baby steps) you can readily implement tomorrow and write them on a fresh page. Now commit yourself to addressing these when you wake.

Oh! And before you close that journal, just one more thing!

Write down ‘just one thing’ you were grateful for today. A roof over your head, a lovely chat with a friend, the joy of your child’s laughter, your partner’s embrace, the dog’s unwavering loyalty, the food on your table, nice weather… you get the gist. If all else fails, might I suggest  a thought for the many who are so much more worse off in our war torn world. And now for the best part of this journey…

Soon you’ll be writing more and more positives and a whole lot less negatives. That false bravado will move from ‘fakin’ it to makin’ it’ and the next exciting chapter of your life will start to unfold. During the journey your journal may move on to become your constant companion, or it may just emerge for troubling occasions, it doesn’t matter. Mine? It continues to serve as a gratitude journal. Cue collective sigh…why not give it a go?

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NB: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Counsellors and Psychologists are invaluable support mechanisms, don’t be afraid to seek their guidance. For immediate need reach out to BeyondBlue (24 hrs a day, 7 days a week) 1300 22 4636.

Dealing with Digital Dirt

We love our social media right?

We also know that no matter how rigid our privacy settings, once published a post remains forever in cyberspace. Before hitting the publish button we now ask ourselves – could posting that photo of my Tequila fueled friend dancing naked on a late night cocktail bar potentially damage her reputation? Or mine for being so thoughtless? Would my offhand response to that political hot potato negatively reframe me in the eyes of others? Would that angry, revengeful diatribe about the cad/cow I’ve just broken up with call into question my integrity/sobriety/sanity? And how would I feel if my boss, potential employer, Nana or the media saw my post? One, two, five years from now?

‘What goes on the road stays on the road’…and YouTube and Vimeo and Reddit and…

Yes, critical indeed that we carefully manage and protect our online personal brand. But what if someone deliberately set out to damage our brand image?

Recently met an extremely influential high flier who had Google searched herself and found, immediately below the link to her LinkedIn profile, a savagely titled link leading to an unnecessarily vitriolic essay written about her by an individual (read ‘troll’) hell bent on damaging her reputation. She needed a solution STAT!

Here’s what we recommended: (more…)

Got a minute?

I’m oft surprised by the number of work force professionals challenged by the thought of online personal branding…’I don’t like to talk about myself’, ‘I’m a private person’, ‘I’ve more important things to do’. The future is digital folk and it’s time we embraced it.

But why? What does this digital business involve?

It involves dedicated webpages replacing traditional resumes; LinkedIn membership volume and currency replacing Rolodexes; WhatsApp and other messaging apps replacing phone pickup; Google+ and Google Apps replacing megabyte file sharing email congestion; global file access via Cloud storage replacing frantic midnight calls to irritated home based PA’s; MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) a veritable smorgasbord of educational opportunity developed by esteemed Universities, now accessible via our digital fingertips. The list is endless…and all tethered with the smart technology in our pockets.

Given this, we need to understand, climb on board and embrace – for how better to be found, to be seen, to promote our capability and expertise, to connect, to maintain continuous learning? LinkedIn for instance – what better platform to garner headhunter attention, job offers, new clients, fresh contract opportunities, broader networks, or tap into the vast networks of group and thought leader knowledge sharing?

But how do you find time to maintain all this stuff?

Building an online presence can sound like a whole lot of work and no matter how important we know it is, who wants to spend several hours a day tweaking their profiles, finding interesting stuff to share, considering group conversations to weigh in on, carefully narrowing a Tweet message to just 140 characters?

‘Ain’t nobody got time for dat!’

It’s a question of making time. And I do. Average 10 minutes over my morning coffee. Seriously, I’ve often queued longer for that coffee! Substantiating my claim, LinkedIn recently asked personal branding guru William Arruda how much time we should dedicate to putting ourselves out there every day. A spot of research later and he declared that nine was the magic number.

Nine. Nine minutes. Just nine minutes!! I like this man.

Devoting just nine minutes to your career and professional goals a day and your less likely to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of online brand management. Easy to get sidetracked when you’re aiming to spend an hour, or even 30 minutes promoting yourself, less so when you select just one task to boost your career every day. The more attainable the goal, the increased likelihood of actually doing it.

Here are nine ‘quickies’ to get you started: (more…)

The future of ‘personal branding’…

Personal Branding – cutting through the clutter… 

A sleek, tailored resume aligning our ‘personal brand’ qualities with our future aspirations; a list of well researched companies to target; a bunch of network contacts willing to connect us with decision makers within; relationships with two or three key recruiters specialising in our field; a LinkedIn profile promoting our brand to the world…as a job seeker, we’re doing all we can to land our ideal role right?

Would it surprise you to know that job applications are frequently scanned for key word match against the advertised criteria before a human eye even sees them? And those that make it through will garner less than 6 seconds viewing as the pile is reduced to the few worth closer scrutiny? And that 95% of recruiters and employers will then turn to Google to research the owners of these applications?

What’s more, given the onerous task of wading through a possible 300+ job ad responses, recruiters, head hunters and employers are increasingly turning to LinkedIn to cherry pick from the rich talent pool of potential job fits within. And should we surface during their key word search, our profiles will receive less than 36 seconds viewing time. Why? Well only 65% of our LinkedIn profile is actually about us. Ads, other visuals and other people’s profiles will distract their attention and potentially lead them away from our information.

So how are we to cut through the scanning, speed-read and clutter and stand out from the masses?

Today’s employers are seeking as much information as they can to ensure a ‘perfect fit’. They are looking to assess elements such as professional qualifications, history, skills sets, subject matter expertise, thought leadership, achievements, connections, personality, creativity and cultural fit. So much more than can be conveyed in resumes and profiles and if we are to succeed in a competitive marketplace we need to innovate from such traditional approaches.

Enter the Personal Web Page…

The best sales people know how important it is to make personal connections with their clients. Whether through a shared hobby, an experience or a life philosophy; making a connection with our audience reminds them that we’re a real person. Difficult to do through a resume, easy through a visually stimulating Website.

For years, prominent authors, musicians, politicians and other personalities have used websites to raise their profile and provide a place to showcase their careers. What these people know is that having a website is a powerful tool for both building a personal brand and connecting with their audience.

Unlike social media sites, a personal website is 100% about you and; given that people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read and 80% of what they see and statistically spend up to 3 minutes viewing visually stimulating websites, what exactly are we waiting for?

Still unconvinced? Here’s 5 reasons why we should consider creating a personal website: (more…)

So you’re ‘results driven’ huh?

Trying to fit all that awesomeness into an eye catching, must read, three page resume can be challenging, not to mention finding just the right words to emphasise your brilliance. Agree?

According to The Muse, when trying to craft a resume that stands out, people often get a little too ‘creative’ with their word choices, opting for corporate-sounding buzzwords that they think hiring managers want to hear, rather than simply describing their accomplishments.

The message here? Cut the jargon!

CareerBuilder recently released the results of a survey asking more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals about their biggest resume word turn-offs (and turn-ons). The results were enlightening indeed.

Seems no one wants to see those over used business buzzwords and clichés – “results-driven,” “team player,” “hard worker.”

 Hiring managers prefer to see proof of such claims through actual achievements. They would rather see strong and simple action verbs such as “achieved,” “improved,” “trained” or “mentored”.

The biggest takeaway? When it comes to the words you choose on your resume, keep it simple. Clearly and accurately describe what you’ve done in the past and it will become obvious to hiring managers why you’re the “best of breed.”

Worst Resume Terms?  (more…)

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