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

How to write a perfect cover letter

When applying for jobs, we try to make sure our CV’s are top-notch; documenting every experience we've had professionally, with impeccable references. But what often gets overlooked is the equally-important cover letter.

The cover letter can sometimes feel like a “waste of time”, or a “task”, and because of this there a few of us that have used a template and just fill in the blanks for each application. This seems to be easier and perhaps more time effective, however it is actually hurting us in the long run.

Cover letters are the first point of contact with your potential employer, thus making sure you represent yourself in the best possible way is very important. So, here are some tips and tricks to remember when writing those tricky cover letters.

The Opening

Addressing your cover letter to a specific person is always a great way to open the communication. It shows the company that you are willing to do research and go that extra mile to be professional. If the job advertisement does not include a name, try to find out who the recruitment manager is for the company. If you can’t find the recruiter's name then possibly look to find the head of the company’s department to which you’re applying. Even if you get the name wrong and ‘Sally Small’ doesn’t read your cover letter, using a specific name is much more impressive to the reader than “to whom it may concern”.

The Format

While using a generic cover letter or a template isn’t the best way to impress a potential employer, we at the Institute of Careers like to follow a simple format for cover letters. This ensures our clients are covering all the key (employable) points about themselves. After addressing the cover letter correctly (Dear Sally Smalls), now's your chance to explain to the reader your understanding of the role, the company and why you want to work for them. With so many applications being received, you want to be able to set yourself apart and cut through the chatter. Showing an actual interest and understanding in the company, and their work, is a major tick to a future employer. If you need help or inspiration for something to write in this section try to look on the company’s website or social media accounts. However, remember DO NOT PLAGIARISE. You most likely will not be hired if you copy and paste the company’s information straight into your cover letter. After the opening it’s time to explain your experience and skills. Remember to mention the tasks and responsibilities you undertook at your previous jobs, which have a direct correlation to the requirements of the role you are applying for.

Important details to include when explaining your work history and attributes are:

  • The time you worked in your current or previous role (how long for and how long ago)
  • The company
  • Your role title
  • Your role responsibilities

The Ending

To finish off, a quick summary of your interest in the position and what you think you can bring to the role, the company and the working team is a great way to sign off. Reiterate why you’re right for the position. Then end your cover letter professionally, and personalised:

“Sincerely,

Karen Kat.”

Cover letters can seem like a bit of a drag, but they do in fact serve an important purpose in the recruitment process. To ensure you get that interview, and potentially that job, put your best foot forward and spend a little time on your cover letter. Representing yourself well and showcasing your abilities and professionalism through a cover letter can make a world of difference in the ‘job hunting’ process.

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

How to make yourself more employable (and stand out from the crowd)

Most people have, at some stage in their careers, been passed over for a job or promotion because the other candidate had that little something extra. There are times when this is unavoidable, but there are also plenty of things that you can do along the way to make sure you are the one who stands out next time an opportunity comes along.

1. Do your research

Have a look at position descriptions for roles or promotions that you might be interested in down the track. Ask yourself honestly which of the boxes you don't tick, or which areas you could become more competent in. You should also take any available opportunities to speak with current, or past direct reports and ask them what areas they think you could work on to move forward in your chosen field.

2. Brush Up Your Skills

If you are currently employed, this is the perfect time to start preparing for your next role. If you think your knowledge in a particular area is below average take some tutorials, do some research or speak to someone who knows more than you. Ask your employer if there is a way you can incorporate this skill into your daily tasks to help you to practise and learn more. If you aren't currently employed these options are still available to you, instead of using the skill at work find other ways to use it on a daily basis. Every extra skill looks great on your resume, and being able to talk about it confidently in an interview can only help your chances.

3. Further Study

Not everyone can take the time out of their career to go back to school and earn another degree, but this doesn't mean you can't add extra qualifications to your CV along the way. There are plenty of TAFEs and online providers who offer short courses which you can fit in around an existing role. Many employers encourage professional development, and may even have a budget to help you out financially. Workshops and training courses offered by your workplace should also be taken advantage of and listed on your resume when relevant. Make sure you remember that all of these little things add up when presenting the best you possible.

4. Perfect Your Resume

You might be perfect for the role, but if your resume isn't up to scratch then you won't even make it to interview stages for many roles. Make sure it looks professional, and contains all details of all relevant skills, experience and education. If you aren't sure how to do this, download our free resume template now or call The Institute of Careers for more advice.

5. Look The Part

Make sure you have at least one nice suit, a crisp white shirt and polished shoes. Practise answering interview questions in front of a mirror. Back up your skills with confidence and good presentation to sell yourself as the complete package and be the most employable you that you can be!

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

The golden formula for job-hunting

Apart from selling yourself, what the heck has sales got to do with the job-hunting process?

In sales, there’s something called a golden formula where activity x skill = result.

In the job search context, activity means the amount of effort you put into your job-hunting, namely the number of jobs you apply for, while skill is the quality of your job-hunting efforts.

As an example, you could have the perfect resume (high in skill) but not apply for any jobs. With no activity, even if you multiply it by a high skill, you will still won’t get a result.

On the other hand, you could apply for 100 jobs (high activity) but have a terrible resume (no skill) and you’ll also find there’s no outcome.

If you’re halfway, so you have an OK resume and apply for one or two jobs per week, you’ll start to see a result but chances are it won’t be a big one.

If you need a job fast, then you have to step into overdrive and focus hard on both activity and skill. This means you need not only a high-quality resume but an effective job-hunting strategy so that when you apply for a large number of jobs, the golden formula dictates that you’ll get a result.

So what exactly does high activity mean?

Activity is more than just the number of job you apply for; in fact to get an exceptionally high activity rating you must engage in a full range of job-hunting techniques. This includes looking beyond Seek to find jobs – so doing your own research, networking and getting your name known at the top places you’d like to work, regardless of whether they’re currently hiring.

What do we mean by high skill?

A fantastic resume is only one part of skill – and keep in mind you can’t have a “perfect resume” that does not change. The perfect application is a package that includes a targeted resume explaining exactly why you have a specific interest in working for the company you’re applying for, and then presenting yourself, preferably face-to-face, to the company after you have researched the management.

Category: 
Job Search