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

Social media, friend or foe?

Just as social media sites can help you get a job, they can also be your catalyst to life in the slow-lane – unemployment!

If you don’t have tight privacy controls on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat accounts, do us a favour and think twice before posting photos of your boozy weekend shenanigans.

Without visibility restrictions on your pages, all it takes is a quick Internet search and wham – your boss knows why you rocked up to work bleary-eyed and pale-faced on Monday morning.

The same goes for trash talking your boss in 140 characters or less – #justdon’tdoit.

But it’s not just about what content you post online that can be your foe in the job game, it’s about abiding by your company’s social media policies. This could include logging on to you Instagram or Facebook account during work hours. Guilty much?

At work you get paid an hourly rate to do just that, work! So don’t abuse your organisation’s super-fast Internet speeds by spending your time scrolling your flatmate’s news feed.

As always, there are two sides to every story. Just as social media can be your undoing, a strong and positive social media presence can be the element that gets you over the line in a job interview.

Consider, for example, a candidate who is presenting for a role at an animal shelter. A well-constructed and presented profile, with images of said candidate canoodling cute and fluffy animals – and importantly – following the shelter’s social media accounts, will go a long way to helping them secure the job.

Snoopy employers also like to see pictures of family dinners, travel, inspirational quotes, recipes and suitable page “likes” when they look up their employees and potential employees.

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, is a great way to find jobs and connect with like-minded professionals.

It is NOT a platform to engage in idle chit chat or share the types of photos we talked about earlier. LinkedIn is in a league of its own, so we have created this cheat sheet to get you sorted.

Overall, it’s important to ensure you’re always reflecting the best version of yourself – online and offline. Tidy up photos, don’t bag your boss and adjust your privacy settings if need be.

And if you’ve already forgot the above, here are three top tips to set yourself up for success on social media.

Tip 1: Have a look at your account from your employer’s point of view – if you were hiring for a role, would you hire yourself?

Tip 2: Now that you know potential employers are going to look at your profile, make it the best you can. Think about what will make you stand out from the crowd. If you have any interests or volunteer work that relates to the sector you’re aspiring to work in, list it.

Tip 3: Use social media for company insights, giving you an edge at your next interview. It’s easy to browse a website and reel off a few stats in the interview, but if you start following a company you will be up-to-date with recent news, changes and other relevant information.

 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

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

Keep calm and (don’t) kill your boss! What to do when you lose your job

Whether you saw it coming or it knocked you for six, losing you job sucks. Aside from sending your stress levels off the Richter, suddenly finding yourself unemployed can significantly affect your finances, your confidence and your personal relationships.

While you could be forgiven for wanting to whittle away your days binge-watching Netflix, now is the time to dust yourself off and start again.

If you’ve just lost your job, here are some essentials to help you overcome this period of uncertainty and find yourself in a new and rewarding role – long before you get through a series of Suits!

Tip 1: Laugh, cry and get over it

Suffice to say, you’re probably feeling a whirlwind of emotions right now. The only way forward from here is to allow yourself a brief period of self-pity, but don’t dwell on it. Getting the boot can be demoralizing, but you can bounce back. Just ask the late Steve Jobs – you know, the guy who got fired from Apple, the company he co-founded? During his hiatus from Apple, Jobs co-founded computer company NeXT and launched Pixar Animation Studios. When he returned to Apple nearly a decade later, he brought the innovation of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Take a leaf from Jobs’ book and reflect on what you liked and didn’t like about your previous role, and where you want to go from here. While the financial strain of unemployment will no doubt be front and centre in your mind, try to use this time to figure out what you really want to do, whether it be a similar role for a different company or a total career change. Once you’ve got a bit of direction, you can put the wheels in motion to get there.

Tip 2: Be a tight-ass (for now!)

Even if you received a redundancy payout, it’s a wise move to reassess your budget and make cutbacks so you can stay on top of your bills while you’re looking for a new job. Curbing your spending will undoubtedly mean changing your habits and plans. You might have to postpone that trip to Bali, cut down on your morning latte and forgo eating out, but remember, it’s only temporary. Resist the temptation to use your credit card to cover shortfalls. The interest you'll have to pay will only add to your financial woes in the long run. If you have a serious budget deficit, contact your bank ASAP to discuss repayment options.

Tip 3: Talk it out

Research shows that job or financial loss can increase the risk of health problems such as anxiety and depression. Talk about issues with your family and friends, don’t bottle it up. If you have emotional support, you’ll be in a better place to deal with the financial ramifications of unemployment. Beyond Blue has put together a downloadable booklet, Taking care of yourself after retrenchment or financial loss, which is a great source of knowledge and support.

Tip 4: Keep up appearances

As tempting as it might be to lounge around in your jim-jams all day, set your alarm for the usual time you’d get up for work, shower and get dressed in your usual work attire. Mentally, the structure of a routine will make you more motivated to get back into the workforce ASAP. It’s also important to exercise and eat well; this will ensure you look and feel your best when embarking on the next chapter in your life.

Tip 5: Revamp your CV and LinkedIn profile

Before you start applying for new opportunities, polish your resume and ensure it includes your most recent role and responsibilities.  If you’re applying for professional positions, you’re going to be checked out on LinkedIn. Use this time to update your profile, making sure the information matches your resume. While you’re at it, reach out to your LinkedIn network and ask your connections to let you know if they come across jobs that would be a good fit. Lastly, line up a few referees now, so they can expect a call when you start interviewing.

Tip 6: Make yourself more marketable

Now that you have some time on your hands, read blogs, listen to podcasts and tune in to webinars to update your skills. For example, you might like to take a social media marketing class to build a stronger online presence. You could also consider volunteering for a board or not-for-profit organisation. The benefits of this are twofold – it keeps your skills fresh and makes you more lucrative to potential employers. Remember, it’s always easier to get a job when you’re in a job.

Tip 7: Keep on keeping on

After the crushing blow of being fired, it can seem like another kick in the guts to apply for job after job with no luck. You probably expected to hear back from more employers, and chances are you certainly didn’t expect the interview process to take so damn long! Try not to feel down if you don’t find a new job straight away because these things take time. To help you stay positive and keep your professional momentum, try to do a few work-related activities every day. Even if it’s just a call to a recruitment agency or a few tweaks to your CV, each move will be a step closer to your next role.

 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

Calm your farm! How to overcome interview nerves

Ever heard rap god Eminem’s Lose Yourself?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the hit 2002 song, the opener goes like this: “If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?”

While Eminem was rhyming about his rise to fame, the same can be said about fronting an interview for the job of your dreams; it’s your one opportunity to tell your potential employers why they simply must hire you. But if you let your nerves get the better of you, forget it!

Unless you’re an alien, most candidates will get nervous in the hot seat. You know the score; sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, etcetera.

When we perceive the stakes are high, our body can’t distinguish the high stakes of a job interview from the high stakes of running from a bull in Spain.

The body reacts the same way, sending out the fight-or-flight response which would make complete sense if we were running from a raging bull, not sitting opposite a panel of four.

This fight-or-flight response makes it difficult to think clearly because our focus is on hiding our anxiety, therefore our attention is divided. When this happens, people’s thoughts move faster so they feel they need to rush into an answer without thinking it through, while others just draw blanks.

Whether you are nervous by nature or nonchalant, it’s imperative to remain cool, calm and collected during the interview process. After all, it’s your one shot to shine!

Here are our top three tips for keeping it together during an interview:

Tip 1: Be prepared

The more time you spend preparing for your interview, the more confident you’ll be. Candidates who have done their homework and can articulate how their skills and qualifications align with the position will be better prepared. Rehearsing what you'd like to say in advance can help you recall important information when anxiety strikes. When preparing for the interview, it also pays to plan your outfit in advance so you don’t feel frazzled before you even get there.

Tip 2: Get a head start

In the case of a job interview, there’s no such thing as fashionably late. Feeling rushed when you arrive at the interview by not allowing enough time to get there, or by getting lost or not finding a park, can all increase nervousness, not calm us down. Bottom line – map out your route prior to the interview and leave home with plenty of time to negotiate the traffic and find a park. You might even want to do a dress rehearsal in the days leading up to the interview so you’re super prepared.

Tip 3: Change your mindset

With a panel of four people sitting opposite you, firing away questions, it can begin to feel like an interrogation. But it’s important to remember you’re also interviewing the employer to see if what they’re offering is a good fit for you. If you think of a job interview as an exam or a test you’ll only become more nervous. Instead, try to imagine the interview as a knowledge exchange between two people who are getting to know each other. This will alleviate the sense of pressure and help you feel less nervous before and during the interview.

At the end of the day, if you let nerves get the better of you, you won’t come off as a confident contender. Employers want to hire the best and brightest, so if they see someone who perceivably lacks confidence, they will question your ability to do the job, which means you might miss out.

Category: 
Interview, Job Search

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

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 Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses

When gearing up for a job interview, there are many types of questions you can easily prepare for. You know who you are, your aspirations, and your career history to date. The most dreaded of all interview questions however, will ask the candidate to analyse their strengths and weaknesses, and on the surface this style of question can seem like a trap. While self-analysis may seem intimidating, the interview panel is really just interested in getting to know you better, finding out more about the way you think and seeing whether you are able to learn from your experiences.

How do I talk about my strengths?

There are probably lots of things that you are good at, but in this situation you need to choose a strength that will help you win over the panelists. Have a look at the position description, and see how  the most important elements of the role align with your own skills. If they value communication skills, find a way of talking about your own without parroting their exact language back to them. You could talk about the way you interact with clients, or your passion for writing. Remember that an interview is all about presenting the best version of yourself, so take this opportunity to really show off your skills. Talk about your strengths, times when you have used them, feedback you have received and any efforts you have made to progress in this area.

Example of a good answer:

“I would say that one of my strengths is my ability to work well under pressure. In my most recent role we often had to deliver products to our clients within very narrow time frames which meant that there was the potential for a lot of stress in the workplace. I came up with a great system for managing these projects which is used by the entire office now, and my boss actually  asked me to talk to my colleagues about some of the other methods I use to keep calm in the face of a deadline.”

How do I talk about my weaknesses?

Talking about your weaknesses can be a little more difficult. Many people will try to mask a strength as a weakness such as being a “perfectionist” or “caring too much”, however you won't find many interviewers who haven't heard these answers hundreds of times before. Try for more sincerity, think of something which you may not be amazing at, or a skill you may be missing, which will not directly impact your abilities in this particular role. Demonstrating that you are aware of this weakness and have been taking steps to better yourself will also impress the panel, much more than if you appear to be acknowledging the weakness for the first time.

Example of a good answer:

“I've actually spent a lot of time working on my public speaking skills.  I used to be quite shy in front of crowds, but I have had to speak at several conferences in the past two years so I started taking advantage of any opportunity to practise with lower stakes. I spoke in front of several staff functions and then moved on to speaking in front of bigger crowds. I am still working to combat my nerves and hone my skills, but I'm actually starting to enjoy it.” 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search

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

How to Research a Role

One of the most common questions you will find yourself asked in an interview is “What do you know about our company?”. It can sometimes feel awkward telling the interview panel what they already know, but this demonstrates that you are well prepared, and also genuinely interested in the position.

The Position Description

Read the Position Description thoroughly. This is your first insight into the position and has all of the most important information that you need to know. If there are any terms you don't understand make the effort to look each of them up so that you won't be caught off guard in the interview. If you have any questions, make note of them so that you can ask when the opportunity arises. Make sure that you check to see if there is a more detailed Position Description or any other additional information attached to the advertisement.

Human Resources

Many job advertisements will list a phone number for enquiries about the role, and some will even encourage you to call them for a chat before applying. Talking with a real person can help you to understand the workplace culture and how the role fits into the organisation. If you make a good impression this conversation may also help you to stand out from the crowd when shortlisting occurs.

Company website

This is your most valuable resource for understanding the identity that the company wants to present to the public. Read About Us and History sections to find out how the company has evolved. Have a look at Team pages to understand the corporate structure, and possibly research the interview panel. Read any News or Blog pages for ideas on conversation points and questions to bring up during your interview. Values and Mission Statements will also allow you to decide how you would like to present yourself in the interview, you can play up certain elements of your personality and skills that this particular organisation considers desirable, while downplaying others which may be at odds with their culture.

LinkedIn

This social media and networking tool is playing an increasingly large role in bridging the gap between employers and job seekers. Many companies will have a LinkedIn profile for the organisation itself, as well as many of the key players in management and people who may end up being part of your team. You can also see news, profiles and links that the company has posted, which will sometimes be different to their more formal website content, providing a different insight into the public persona of the organisation.

Google Search

It can often be handy to use Google to look into a prospective workplace. The company may have online reviews, be listed in connection with recent news stories, or have a wide range of information detailed on their Wikipedia page. Just remember, if it wasn't posted by an official source it may not necessarily be accurate!

Category: 
Interview, Job Search

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