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

Volunteering: Soup for the soul, gold for your career

Picture this; you’re a long-serving public sector employee with a burning desire to enter the not-for-profit sector. Problem is, every job you’ve applied for has gone to someone with NFP experience (eye roll).

You have two options; give up and resign yourself to the public sector forever, or persevere and fight for your dreams.

A highly successful yet often overlooked way of getting your foot in the door of any industry, not just the NFP sector, is by volunteering.

Aside from racking up stacks of karma points by being a complete do-gooder, there are heaps of career bonuses that come from donating your free time to help others.

Here are some of the ways volunteering can boost your career:

You’ll learn new skills. Volunteering will help you develop new and transferable job skills as well as apply your current skills in new ways. For example, a mid-career media professional working in the education industry could use their skills to help boost the public profile of a not-for-profit charity. At the same time, they might be rewarded with an avenue to develop project management or leadership skills. Winning!

You’ll expand your professional networks. If you’re struggling to reach 500+ on LinkedIn, volunteering is a great way to go about it! In all seriousness, volunteering helps you build your professional relationships by meeting new people in an area that might be completely foreign to you. Whether you’re serving at a soup kitchen or designing brochures for a welfare organisation, chances are you’ll be rubbing shoulders with an entirely new group of like-minded individuals. Aside from the social benefits of a few new friends, one of these contacts might be the key to future employment opportunities and career development.

You’ll explore the big wide world. Volunteering allows you to taste-test different organisations, roles and issues, in turn helping you to identify how you want to spend your 9-5. While volunteering isn’t the same as being on staff, it can expose you to the work of an organisation in a deeper way than by just being a Facebook follower. In short, volunteering enables you to try new things, challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone, thereby showing employers that you’re not afraid of change.

You’ll fill in resume gaps. If you’re not employed, volunteering with a not-for-profit is a great way to fill a gap in your resume. It’s always easier to get a job when you’re in a job. By volunteering, you’ll be able to draw examples of skills used in your current role when interviewing for potential jobs.

If you’re still interested in volunteering, the next step is to think about what opportunities you’re best suited to. There are a number of factors to consider at this point, including:

What’s in it for me? It’s important to consider your motivations for volunteering before you take the plunge. Are you hoping to utilise your skillset to help others, or is climbing the career ladder you’re main game?

What do I value? Are you passionate about the plight of children, or are animals more your thing? Consider your personal values and interests so that your position aligns with an area that appeals to you. This will make volunteering a deeper and more enriching experience for you.

What skills can I bring to the table? Think about what skillsets and expertise you currently have, and how you could use these in a voluntary capacity. For example, you might have a certain university degree, and have a strong knowledge in one particularly area. Volunteering could be an excellent way to put some of this knowledge and skills into practice. Similarly, you should also consider the skills and attributes you want to work on, as well as the areas of your craft you want to hone.

How much time have I got on my hands? Some volunteer roles require a minimum number of hours per week. Before applying for such roles, think about how much time you can realistically invest in the organisation, especially if you’re already juggling full-time work. It’s also important to consider how flexible you’re prepared to be with this commitment. For example, are you only ever free on a Friday night after work, or can you spare a few hours on the weekend?

Will I be in it for the short term or long haul? Are you looking for a short-term opportunity, or something more permanent? Short-term opportunities might include volunteering on a once-off occasion, such as a charity fun-run. Alternatively, you might consider working on a long-term project, thereby allowing you to gain end-to-end project management skills while having the satisfaction of seeing a project to fruition.

In summary, no two volunteering opportunities are the same. Similarly to applying for a job, every role will have different requirements. Some might require a minimum time commitment or a specific skill set, while others could require you to hold a form of certification, such as a police check. It’s important to consider whether you will be able to successfully meet the requirements of the opportunity, including the time required, before you commit.

Category: 
Job Search

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.

Job hopping: Why it’s not such a bad thing

Back in the day, a CV that jumped from job to job would raise the red flag to prospective employers about their candidates’ ability to commit.

While the notion of “job-hopping” was fiercely frowned upon not so long ago, a new generation of young professionals reckon job-hopping is a bona fide jump to the Next Big Thing – and we at the Institute of Careers agree.

According to research, the average employment tenure in Australia is 3.4 years. Leading the way are Gen Y professionals who view job-hopping as a way to gain broad skills and experience, improve salary and conditions, expand their networks and try different roles until they find the perfect professional and cultural fit, because… culture!

Most organisations will always place a high value on stability, loyalty and commitment, yet some employers are now starting to welcome the shift, viewing early-career mobility as a sign of ambition and enthusiasm.

In today’s competitive marketplace, employers who are set in their old school ways and rule out job-hoppers might be missing out on some serious talent.

Job-hoppers are often top performers who change jobs because they are; headhunted by other companies; want to work for a more prestigious or successful brand; learn new skills; climb the career ladder; earn more dosh or; align themselves with a company that offers a better cultural environment.

Here are two main reasons why job-hopping isn’t a bad thing:

Reason 1: You’ll learn more

A huge drawback of staying in the same job or company for too long is that you can begin to feel like you’re not growing or developing new skills. When you try something new, you experience and learn different skills that broaden your professional attributes, making you more attractive to employers.

Reason 2: Money, money, money

When people change jobs, one of their main motivators is a pay rise. When done right, job-hopping could help you earn more money as you climb up the career ladder. Just remember to factor in other aspects of the role, such as annual leave, benefits and flexible work hours.

Here are two reasons why employers value a job-hopper:

Reason 1: Industry knowledge

When an organisation employs a job-hopper, they usually have immediate access to a valuable source of accumulated industry knowledge, contacts and experience from working with a broad range of companies, and competitors, within the sector.

Reason 2: They make an effort

While employers are sometimes wary of hiring job-hoppers for fear they won’t stick around, job-hoppers are motivated and proactive self-starters who require little management. People who change jobs every few years tend to be conscious of their CV, wanting it to demonstrate new skills, performance and improved expertise. As a result, they’re always looking to value-add and do great work, which is obviously a benefit to the employer, even if they only stick around a couple of years.   

So what’s the optimal time to stay? The ideal time to stay at any one job is approximately two years. By that time you will have developed indepth knowledge and skills. Frequently ask yourself, am I still learning and growing? If the answer’s no, it may be time to move on.

Category: 
Job Search, Resume

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.

 

Be your own brand

The talent market is more competitive than ever. When you interview for a job, you’re essentially selling something – brand you!

As you prepare for interviews, consider the messages you want to promote to potential employees, along with your values, mission and goals. It’s important to be able to quickly and clearly articulate who you are and what you have to offer as a personal brand.

Just like company brands, your personal brand is what sets you apart from the pack – it’s the collective group of values and objectives that differentiate you from competitors in your field.

Defining and promoting a strong personal brand that sets you apart will help raise your profile and make you more marketable. Even if you’re not looking for work, having a personal brand is a great way to build contacts and enhance your career prospects for the future.

Here’s our top four tips for building your own brand:

Tip 1: Understand your offer

Before you can build your brand, you have to identify the primary “product” (services, resources, special ability) that you’re selling. Personal branding requires a comprehensive understanding of your strengths, skills, passions and values, along with the ability to harness this information to stand out from the crowd. Start by identifying what makes you unique then put together a key statement about yourself – this is your brand positioning.

Tip 2: Develop a vision, values and mission

Without establishing a clear vision, your career is unlikely to grow and prosper. Think hard about where you want to go career-wise, and reflect on your aspirations for the future, as this will form part of your vision. Like all big brands, you should consider your personal values and mission. Do you admire honest and integrity? Are you reliable? Consider your core values in developing your own personal mission statement, which will bring focus and purpose to your professional life.

Tip 3: Audit your presence

Your personal brand is only a click away from being viewed by recruiters, managers and potential employers. Always think of yourself as a brand and maintain consistent messaging through all your marketing channels – this includes your CV and social media profiles. A personal blog or website are great ways to strengthen your brand by helping your target market understand what you offer, highlight what you’re good at and showcase what you’ve achieved in the space.

Tip 4: Maintain momentum

Now that you have a personal brand, you want to do your best to validate and promote it. Large corporations work hard to maintain the look and feel of their brand, and as an individual, you should do the same. Every interaction or piece of information shared should reinforce your brand positioning – just be sure to remain consistent and true to your words at all times. 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search

Bad habits bosses hate

Whether you’re new to the role or a seasoned employee, the last thing you want is a reputation around the office as a habitual hassle. Bosses are human too, so chances are they have pet peeves that you could be committing without even realising it.

To stay on your boss’s good side, read on to find the six things that drive bosses and colleagues crazy. If you’re guilty of one or all of these crimes, stop being a repeat offender and break your bad habits immediately!

Number 1: Tardiness

Just as no one likes a clock-watching manager, no one likes employees who habitually roll in to work late. Sure, we’ve all been caught in a traffic jam before, but recurrent bouts of tardiness show your boss you’re just not that into your job.

Number 2: Whingeing

Too hot, too cold. Work sucks, you hate your team, you’re tired and stressed. If you find yourself complaining about everything and everyone, it’s time to suck it up and stop whining quick smart. Even if you don’t radiate positivity by nature, no one wants a Negative Nancy in their office. Workplaces with a positive atmosphere are the most conducive to productivity, so unless you want your negativity to spread like wildfire, save it for later.

Number 3: Zoning out

While some meetings may be a complete yawn fest, it’s important to maintain a professional demeanour no matter how long the meeting drags on. Suffice to say, your boss will notice if you aren’t taking notes, if you’re constantly checking emails (or worse – swiping left on Tinder), or if you’re not contributing when you should. Pay attention for the duration of the meeting so you’re not caught off guard if you’re called to answer a question or provide input.

Number 4: Under-dressing

The dress code in most modern workplaces doesn’t require suits, ties and high heels anymore, but tracky-dacks and backwards caps is taking things a little too far, even for causal Friday. While some offices don’t mind jeans, it’s always better to dress at least one level above what’s required. You will feel more professional and people will admire you for your corporate fashion sense.

Number 5: Texting too much

These days, everyone usually keeps their phones on their desks, sneaking in the odd text or checking their Facebook feed throughout the day. But don’t make a habit of it. Your boss will notice if you’re constantly preoccupied with your phone when you’re supposed to be working. Keep your phone use to a minimum, and turn off that Rocky ringtone!

Number 6: Eating too loudly

While the waft of canned tuna is acceptable in today’s health-conscious office, scoffing your food loudly is a no-no – especially if you sit within close proximity to the boss. The same goes for chewing gum, don’t do it! And while we’re at it, no one, we repeat, no one, likes 

Questions to avoid during an interview

“Do you have any questions?”

By this stage of the interview, the formalities, tough questions and good impressions are over…. right? Well, not exactly! The interview isn’t over, until it’s over (AKA you are out of the door), so what you say, do or ask at this moment of the interview is still being considered.

Here are some questions you should NEVER ask! And some alternatives for those of us who are extremely curious and need some answers.

1. How many hours are involved in this role?

These days, we do have flexibility within our jobs for out-of-office work, and the pleasure of working from home. So, it is understandable you want to know if this position accommodates your lifestyle. But if it hasn’t already been confirmed in the interview or the job advertisement, and it isn’t labeled ‘part-time’, it’s safe to assume you will be working 9-5. Asking about the hours can translate to “I don’t like to work too many hours” or an image of that employee who is always checking the clocking and counting down ‘till home time. 

For an alternative, you could ask:

“What does a normal day in this role look like?”

2. How often do you give promotion opportunities?

It is an important question to ask; obviously career aspirations are an opportunity to move up the corporate latter and grow professionally. However, asking this question (in this way) can be interpreted as you are not happy with the position or the salary of the role you are applying for and want a promotion ASAP. It can also seem like you think you have earned a promotion, which doesn’t set the best image for yourself and your potential future boss. There is an alternative though. Try asking, “Are there opportunities for professional development?” This question appears more professional, thoughtful and highlights your career aspirations and desire to grow in your career.

3.  What is the turnover rate?

A high turnover rate is usually a prime indicator of a problem with the company’s culture and environment. So, obviously wanting to know the turnover rate is a great way to determine what the company is like, and what the company will be like to work for. Yet these types of question can potentially ‘touch a nerve’ with the interviewer. To avoid causing any awkward feelings or pauses within the interview, try asking “How long have you worked here?”, or try, “How long has the team been working here for?” You will get the answer you are looking for without seeming offensive.

These are just a few questions to avoid during the interview process to allow for positive results and potential employment. Keep these in mind and you'll be able to get through the interview from start to finish. Good luck!

 

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