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

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

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

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