LinkedIn Cheat Sheet

LinkedIn is the world’s largest social media professional network, used by everyone from checkout chicks to CEOs. It’s not a platform to update your friends on your weekend antics or repost funny memes, it’s a serious tool to help you find your dream job, rise up the ranks in your current workplace or network and connect with like-minded professionals. In short, think of it as an extension of your CV.

Now you know LinkedIn in a nutshell, here’s how you can optimise your LinkedIn profile:

Step 1: Set up your profile properly

One in every two LinkedIn uses hasn’t completed their profiles properly, which is poor form. One of the most basic, fundamental things you can do to market yourself is fill everything out correctly. Recent work experience, education history and job skills are all musts for your online CV. Omitting these basics makes it seem as though you’re not actively engaged or pursing opportunities. At the least, make sure people can understand the general gist of your career through your profile page.

Step 2: Upload a suitable photo

No, not the one from Saturday night. And definitely not the one of you and your bestie/boyfriend/cat! If you want to come across as a professional, you have to look the part. LinkedIn profiles with photos see more traffic than those without, but it’s important to remember that we humans are a fickle bunch. If you don’t look the part, recruiters will keep scrolling. You wouldn’t go to a business meeting wearing your weekend getup, so keep your LinkedIn photo a visual snapshot of your professional persona.

Step 3: Network

According to latest stats, two people join LinkedIn every second. And with a total user base of more than 414 million, a lot of people out there can help you on your path to success. But keep in mind, using LinkedIn merely as a tool to ‘look for a job’ is a big mistake. Instead, focus on networking and connecting with like-minded professionals from your industry, and joining professional groups. Tap into second- and third-level connections. Once you’ve built a solid network, leverage it to look for job opportunities – not vice versa.

Step 4: Seek endorsement

On LinkedIn, people in your network can endorse your skills. LinkedIn uses these endorsements to determine how to rank certain individuals in its search results. A person with a lot of endorsements for a particular skillset, for example, will rank higher when someone searches for those keywords. Additionally, your current and ex-colleagues can leave recommendations on your profile.

Step 5: Share you knowledge

Post some of the more thought-provoking and conversation-stimulating articles you’ve read to share your knowledge. By doing so, you’ll slowly but surely position yourself as a valuable source at the forefront of your industry.

Follow these five tips to see your profile views increase, and over time you may hear from more recruiters.  Good luck!

 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

Knock-off time: What successful people do after work

How you spend your time outside of work – and who you spend that time with – is a defining factor in your career trajectory. As tempting as it may be to binge-watch Netflix with a bottle of vino on hand, the hours after work are just as important as the time you spend at work.

Successful people know they need to relax, eat well, exercise regularly and plan ahead if they want to bring their A game to the office every.single.day.

With 168 hours in the week – minus the 40 you spend at work – you have about 128 hours left in the bank to sleep, eat, and do whatever the heck you want. But if you want to succeed in your professional life, you have to use your personal time wisely.

In no particularly order, we’ve mapped out five ways successful people spend their time after work.

Now you know these not-so-secret methods, it could be time for a new post-work ritual!

They plan ahead:

Rocking up to work frazzled because you have no idea what your calendar looks like for the forthcoming day is not a good look. To ensure you’re ready for tomorrow, take a few minutes to review your diary and make a to-do-list every night. If you have a morning meeting, pack your briefcase with everything you need the night before, such as business cards, iPad and brochures, and don’t forget to check you have the name, phone number and address of the person you’re meeting.

They keep fit:

Ambitious people tend to excel in all areas of life, and that includes rocking a tight rig!  In all seriousness, people who work out are more alert, focused and energised, meaning they get more bang for their workday buck. Following a consistent fitness regime can also boost your creativity, confidence and resilience, both personally and professionally. Another upside of regular exercise is that it strengthens the immune system and helps keep you healthy so you have less sick days. After all, you can’t win employee-of-the-month if you’re always at home nursing a cold!

They chillax:

While most successful people seem to live and breathe work, in reality, the most successful people work hard at their career but then leave the office behind. They recognise the importance of spending time with their family and friends, hitting the gym and getting a good night’s sleep. This self-awareness keeps them from suffering burnout and becoming resentful if their career becomes all-consuming.

They unplug:

Much like the above-mentioned point, being ambitious doesn’t mean you can’t switch off. In fact, more and more people are choosing to spend their weekends and holidays on a “digital detox” – meaning no emails, no social media and definitely no Wi-Fi. Technology tends to dominate our lives nowadays, but highly successful people know that it’s essential to unplug from time to time too.

They self-invest:

Whether it’s a leadership course, an acting workshop or a certification in your field, ambitious people know that by investing in themselves, they will become a more well-rounded and successful professional. On the other hand, successful people also look for inspiration in unlikely places. Immersing yourself in a unique experience activates your brain in new ways and can lead to a burst of creative genius.

In summary, it’s important to recognise productivity doesn’t end when you clock off. You just need to get the balance right and ensure you’re being productive in other areas of your life – ultimately paving the way to a kick-ass career!

Unplugged: How to switch off from work

Work is an important part of our lives; after all we do spend 40+ hours a week doing this very thing.

There’s no doubt that the nature of our work environment is changing too – it’s becoming increasingly high pressure, deadline-driven and demanding.

This is compounded by the fact that pretty much everyone has a smart phone and can access their work emails anywhere, anytime.

As a consequence, we’re mentally chained to our desks 24/7, in a competitive marketplace where we feel compelled to respond right.this.minute for fear of not working hard enough.

While Nazi Germany might have wanted us to believe “work sets you free”, a growing body of research shows our inability to find a balance between work and play is having a serious impact on our physical, mental and emotional state of being. Overwork has been linked to a whole swag of health problems including heart disease, fatigue, depression and insomnia.

Next time you’re feeling frazzled after work, take these steps to get you into a state of Zenned-out bliss:

Habitual ritual

By creating a ritual of relaxation when you arrive home from work, you’ll train your mind to slow down and switch off from work mode. Having a shower and putting on your trackies when you get home signals to the brain that you’ve finished for the day, and now it’s time to chillax. Light candles, avoid loud sounds and if meditation’s your thing, do it!

Save the screen

While a lot of people use TV as a way to unwind, if you stare at a computer screen all day you’re actually not doing yourself any favours by watching tellie. A better way to forget the chaos of the working day is to take Fido for a quick spin in the fresh air, or better yet, hit the gym!

Use it and lose it

If you confiscate your kids phones at the dinner table, extend the “use it and lose it” policy to all members of the family (yes, that includes you!). Unless you’re on-call, get into the habit of switching off your work phone after work, or at least your emails, and never take your phone to bed. If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night worrying about the next day’s duties, experts recommend getting up and doing something else until you feel sleepy again.

All about the breath

As Bikram would say, focus on the breath. Deep breathing is one of the most successful tools for switching off because it naturally calms the body. Whenever your mind wanders back to the office, focus on the sensation of the breath as air enters and leaves your lungs.

Go green

Highly processed, fatty foods can agitate the body, as can a big meal right before bed. Snack on nuts, which are packed with cortisol-busting magnesium. For dinner, pack your plate with green leafy vegetables. Dark leafy greens such as spinach are rich in folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. Drinking black or green tea instead of coffee is thought to reduce stress hormones too.

Reading newspapers makes you smarter (and more employable)

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a smart pill that could turn us all into Albert Einstein reincarnates?

Well, there’s not, bozo.

Becoming smarter doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes a concerted daily effort to build your smarts (apparently crosswords and coffee help too).

One such daily effort to boost your brain power is that of the humble newspaper.

Aside from keeping up with the Kardashians, reading the newspaper helps you become more aware of the things happening in the world around you. It also introduces you to unfamiliar cultures and events that you don’t normally hear about. You’ll learn to form your own opinions on world events and issues, plus you’ll have a lot more to talk about at the water cooler.

At the Institute of Careers, we’ve encountered more than a few instances of job-hunters oozing confidence on their way to interviews, only to walk away feeling as smart as Homer Simpson. And it’s not through lack of knowledge about their profession or the organisation they want to work in, but of the world around them.

As an icebreaker, it’s not uncommon for potential employers to kick off the interview with, “Did you hear about so and so in the news this morning?” The last thing you want is to draw a blank and look like you have no idea what they’re talking about.

Hiring managers want to know they’re recruiting the best of the best, and if you want to be the best, you have to stay abreast of what’s happening in your own backyard, at the very least.

Here are a few other daily habits that you can do to become smarter:

Get lost. Finding your way back from a lost at sea moment will develop your spatial awareness. Most people take the same route to work every day. Over time, the brain’s capacity to navigate declines. To train your brain’s spatial intelligence, start by taking a new, unfamiliar route home.

Exercise. Eat well. Laugh often. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. When you exercise, you increase blood flow to your brain, keeping it in top-notch condition. Laughing has also been shown to increase your intelligence and make your brain sharper (LOL).

Step outside your zone. If you surround yourself with the same people every day, and do the same things every day, you aren’t exactly learning anything. Mix things up a bit – make an effort to talk to one new person a day, or try one new thing. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Meditate. Aside from being an awesome stress reliever, meditation can increase your intelligence – just ask the Dalai Lama. Meditation trains the brain to focus and quieten the mind chatter. But you don’t need to become a monk to increase your brain capacity, all it takes is a quick five minute meditation each day to increase your intelligence and attentiveness in daily life.

Say no to Netflix. Don’t rule it out entirely, but limit the amount of time you spend glued to the box. Most programs are designed for maximum impact with minimum effort. If your motto is Netflix and chill, you’ll know what we’re on about. If you do this regularly, your brain will become less capable of thinking intelligent thoughts, just as an unfit body will be less capable of running a marathon.

Watch TED. Contrary to the previous point, TED videos are worth watching. TED.com contains some of the best videos to help you learn new things. Whether it’s learning about augmented reality or electroshock therapy, TED has it all. Tune in on your lunch break for a quick dose of the smarts.

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

Own it! Tips to be an awesome boss without losing your authority

There’s a fine line between being a leader and a dictator. While you definitely don’t want to be channelling Hitler, being a buddy-boss won’t do you any favours either.

As a great leader, your employees should enjoy working under you, but that doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to laziness and throwing office parties every other day to gain their respect and loyalty.

Employees don’t want a buddy-boss; they have enough amigos! So the second you’re seen as an equal, you relinquish your rights to leadership.

As the commanding officer of your ship, your job is to lead your company and your employees to reach their highest potential. As part of this, you need to recognise and reward great work, and hold your employees accountable for their professional expectations and obligations.

If you find yourself at the helm of your company, follow these tips to be a cool boss (while avoiding the buddy-boss persona):

Be human:

You don’t have to search far to hear horror stories of bosses who make their employees use paid leave for a doctor’s appointment, even when they have time owning. Bad bosses tend to be inflexible clock-watchers with no sympathy for legitimate tardiness or illness. As long as the employee isn’t taking advantage, awesome bosses have open door policies and an understanding of life’s dilemmas.

Be encouraging:

Everyone likes to be told how awesome they are every once in a while. You know how it goes, pay credit where credit’s due. But in the interest of being liked, it’s tempting to shower you minions with praise and, as a consequence, gloss over the negatives. If you do this, you’re at-risk of becoming a buddy-boss. Being a good manager is about coaching your employees on areas of improvement, as much as it is for praising what they already do well.

Be an advocate:

As the chief problem-solver, it’s your job to stand up for your people and advocate for what they need, whether it’s more resources, professional development, or raises. Helping your team get the tools and support they need is part of your job description – even if it means standing up to your boss!

Be a kick-ass recruiter:

You can’t run a kick-ass team without having the best of the best behind you. When it comes to building your team, you have to hire people who have both the ability and the willingness to do the job well. Likewise, if you have a lazy, unmotivated employee, it’s your job to work with them to see if they can improve. If not, be prepared to give them the boot. The rest of the team will admire you for your tenacity and commitment to the team as a whole.

Be an expert:

You need to tune in to trends and shifts in your field. Network with thought leaders, attend key conferences and read industry news. By keeping abreast of what’s happening and who’s who in the zoo, you’ll be able to share the latest knowledge with your team to plan for the future.

Believe in yourself:

There’s no doubt about it, being a boss is a hard gig. But if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect your employees to? People often think being the boss is about having the corner office, the Porsche, the big house and the perks. In reality, real leadership is about creating a vision that others can see and believe in too. It’s not about how far you’ve gone and how many people you have under you – it’s about showing creativity, innovation, and integrity in what you do.

Flip the script on your next performance review

By definition, a performance review is about getting feedback on your work throughout the year.

But as an employee, it’s important to think about the process as a two-way street – an opportunity for both parties to, well, come to the party and talk about their future aspirations, both for themselves and the future of the organisation they represent.

Talking about what’s working and what’s not working will help you become a better professional and your boss a stronger leader. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to show how committed and enthusiastic you are about the part you play in the wider success of the organisation.

Here’s some food for thought when gearing up for your next performance review:

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Sure, you’ll talk about your performance, your progress and opportunities to improve, but during the review you should also discuss what makes you happy in your job. Are there any tasks you absolutely dread, while others you are only too willing to do? Use your performance review as an opportunity to voice these opinions – it might lead to doing more of what you love and less of what you loathe.

How can you grow and develop?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; the workforce is a competitive gig. Employers love employees who are constantly striving for professional growth. After all, a more skilled team leads to a better company. Use your performance review to talk about the ways in which you can grow and progress, whether in your current role or moving into a new area.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

A favourite at job interviews, this question is also relevant during performance reviews. Ambitious people are always asking themselves where they want to be in the future, and taking strategic steps to get there. A performance review presents an ideal opportunity to talk about your goals, your future and the state of the company itself. If you consider your boss a mentor as well as a leader, they may be able to give you good advice on how to reach your future ambitions.

How can your team improve?

As previously mentioned, a performance review should be viewed as a two-way, full and frank discussion between employee and manager. For the most part, your review will largely be about receiving feedback, but you shouldn’t be afraid to dish out some of your own! If there are any improvements you think could improve the performance of your team or company, raise them now.

After your review: Take-home messages

Once your performance review is over, first things first – breathe a sigh of relief! Regardless of the results of your performance review, think of it as a learning opportunity. You should be able to take away key information, whether about yourself, the reviewer or your organisation. If you received negative feedback, take it as constructive criticism and figure out how to make improvements over the next year.

 

Get the most out of your day…and your career!

We have all experienced those frustrated thoughts, in a moment of desperation, which sound a little like, “There isn’t enough hours in the day” or “How do they find time to do that, I’m too busy!” Yes, we are all guilty of doing this at one time or another. Sometimes, with the weight of our jobs, family, leisure time and those dreaded trips to the gym (or lack there of) it is hard to get everything we want to get done. However, it isn’t impossible…

It is pretty straightforward to understand that the more productive we are, the more we will get done, thus the more we can achieve. So, we have to be productive to be successful! But… how?! Follow these four simple tips to being more productive (and more successful):

1. Commit

Whatever it is you’re doing, BE FULLY COMMITTED. Taking on tasks or jobs but trying to complete them while being distracted does not allow for high quality results. It’s great you are taking on an extra task or a new hobby, but if you don't fully commit it could yield lower results than what you are capable of. Even if you get it done (eventually) and you try and convince yourself that you’re productive, because you got it done, being distracted and not dedicating the correct time and energy while performing these tasks will only negate positive results but cause the task to take longer than necessary. Whatever you do, do your best, fully commit!

2. Multitasking is the enemy

We all have been lead to believe that multitasking is a talent, a skill, and a virtue for us fortunate enough to be able to do it. What we aren’t realising though is that multitasking leads to distractions, which causes tasks and project to take longer than necessary. Research has stated that the human brain is not actually meant to multitask and that we are actually pretty terrible at it (GULP). The extra tabs up on your computer (Facebook, YouTube, maybe some online shopping) leads us to lose focus on the task at hand, which just adds time to the project and deducts time from our other jobs or personal time.
 

3. Cut out all interruptions, even the friendly ones!

“Hey, can you take a look at this quickly for me and let me know what you think?”

This line is a little too familiar to us all, whether it is someone at work or someone at home. Helping out and looking over others’ work is a great way to gain a second opinion and some advice. However, it’s got to be given at the right time. It sounds a little harsh at first because we all want to help our friendly co-workers but we have to help ourselves as well. When you are working on something, and you are really ‘in the zone’, any distraction or tiny break from your work can derail your train of thought and momentum. To avoid this happening we cannot give in to ANY distractions, but you don’t have to say “no” and offend anyone. To get the best of both worlds we simply (and kindly) have to tell our friendly co-worker that “I’m just working on Project X, can I take a look in 20 minutes?” Thus, no feelings are hurt and we are still KILLING this project!
 

4. Hang out with productive people

Your mothers’ probably gave you the same speech about what kids you should be friends with at school, and they were usually always the ‘good kids’, the ‘smart ones’, the ‘teacher’s pets’, star athletes etc. Well, mum was kind of right! To get the best results within yourself it is imperative to constantly be motivated and strive hard towards what you want to achieve. Hanging around unproductive, uninspired people will only cause you to mirror their behaviour and attitudes. You don’t have to go through all of your friends and completely cut everyone who doesn’t seem to fit the ‘over-achiever’ role, however you need to learn to evaluate who uplifts you and causes you to work harder, compared to the ones who don’t. Try to spend more of your time with the people who make you want to try harder and succeed more, all the while inspiring them at the same time! It’s the circle of success.

How to get a handle on your new job

It’s only natural to feel some initial pangs of uncertainty in the early days of a new job.

Ordinarily you’ll have a few weeks between the job offer and start date, which gives you plenty of time to start thinking about the new role and prepare for your first day. Make contact with your new boss before you start to obtain as much information as you can about the organisation and your position, including annual reports, strategic plans, mission statements and organisational charts.

If possible, have a decent handover with your predecessor. Ask for any information you haven’t previously received to help you determine current practices, products, policies and procedures. Make notes – even about the most basic of things – and don’t be afraid to ask questions and for help if you need it. It also pays to write down people’s names and titles as you go – remembering someone makes that person feel important, and also remember you.

Once you have absorbed all the information about your new position and have gathered initial impressions of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to list preliminary thoughts on the short and long-term objectives.  Make a habit of consulting your colleagues before doing anything drastic and avoid making rash decisions.

When determining your plans for the future, keep in mind you don’t have to do everything on your first day, week or even month. Research shows it can take months for some organisations to see a return on its investment of a new hire. While noone is expecting you to move mountains on your first day, some jobs will however expect you to hit the ground running. Probation periods can often be up to six months but you need to prove you were the right person for the job long before your probation’s up.

As a final tip, don’t ditch the job description. It’s an important document that you can use when preparing for a performance review, applying for a higher duties allowance or requesting a review of your current job scope.

When to stay and when to go

Thinking of calling it quits? This article will give you some points to consider before you throw yourself at the mercy of the job market.

While quitting your job can be both terrifying and liberating, you need to make sure you’re leaving for the right reasons. It’s always easier to get a new job while you’re still working, so think twice before you resign without another job to go to.

Even if you’re at your wit’s end and find yourself in a situation where a job as a cherry picker suddenly looks attractive, make your next career move a move up – not backwards or sideways.

There are a number of reasons why people decide to quit their jobs, but some of them could be coming from emotion rather than a voice of reason.

Reasons you should quit your job:

When your job becomes a health risk, it’s a no brainer. Working in a job that impacts your health or mental wellbeing can have serious, long-term consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, develop an interim plan to support yourself financially and call it a day.

If a job doesn’t align with your long-term career goals, you’ve stopped learning new skills or you want another challenge, it’s time to think about the next big thing. A good time to go is when you’ve maximised all your opportunities and you’re not growing. While flying in and out of jobs can be frowned upon by employers, staying in a job for too long can be equally detrimental to your future growth.

In saying that, people often leave a job because of a lack of opportunity, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the opportunities don’t exist. Before you make plans to leave, talk to your manager or HR department – you could be surprised where these conversations can take you.

If you’re in an industry or company that’s tipped to go bust, now could be a good time to plan your escape. It might be a matter of embarking on a new training course or finding a job in an associated industry.

And when you have a picture of your boss in the freezer, it’s time to leave or review your coping mechanisms. In your professional and personal life you’ll no doubt come across people you don’t like, but how you deal with them could be all you need to keep sane. Of course if your boss is bullying or harassing you, report it.