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.


Interview, Job Search, Resume

How to Deliver Constructive Criticism

Regardless of your position, or the industry in which you work, you will most likely need to deliver criticism to a co-worker at some stage in your career. Nobody enjoys this responsibility, but there are several steps that you can take to make sure everyone achieves the best possible outcome while maintaining a positive workplace dynamic.

Step One: Identify the Problem

There can be many factors at play when you first realise that someone might be doing something wrong. Allow yourself time to make sure that you have your facts straight, and that personal feelings aren't coming into play before proceeding. When appropriate it might help to speak with someone else in a management position who can be objective and give you advice about how to approach the issue.

Step Two: Choose Your Timing

Timing can play a large role in ensuring your criticism is well received, and able to be acted upon. If you need to speak with someone about a single incident, make sure you allow time for the person to compose themselves, then try to have the discussion as soon as possible. If your issue is an ongoing one, schedule a meeting ahead of time so that it doesn't feel like an ambush.

Step Three: Focus on the Issue

Make sure that the heavier part of the discussion is centered around the incident or behaviour in question. The key to delivering constructive criticism is that the person does not feel attacked, and instead comes out of the experience knowing what areas they need to work on, rather than feeling like a failure.

Step Four: Encourage Discussion

If the interaction is one-sided then the other person may shut down, or become defensive. Offering them the chance to give their side of the story can give you insight into why the problem has occurred, and might even change the way you approach the issue from now on. Provide reassurance that the rest of their performance is not in question, talk about what they do well, and maintain a tone that is professional and conversational.

Step Five: Offer Solutions

If you are coming to someone with a problem, then you need to be prepared to let them know how you think they can make things better. If they have ideas, you can discuss them together, but it is important to give guidance and to make your expectations clear. Express your confidence in the solutions offered, and in the person's abilities to turn things around.

Step Six: Provide Support

Set a time frame in which you want the issue to be rectified, and follow up when appropriate to show that you care about their progress. When someone's performance is questioned it can have an impact on their confidence levels, so a little bit of support and positive feedback in the weeks after a difficult discussion can go a long way. Tell them you are impressed with the efforts they have made to make changes, or offer further advice if they need it. The follow up can be just as important as the actual criticism so take advantage of this opportunity to make sure everyone involved feels positive about the process.

How to get a handle on your new job

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is salary negotiation a no-no?

You’ve landed the job of your dreams, but the take-home pay is less than impressive. Here we discuss if – and when – you should negotiate on salary.

According to the Institute of Careers CEO David Zanker, don’t barter on wages at your first interview.

“You have to wait until the company has invested in the process, and in you,” Mr Zanker says.

“A good time to enter these discussions is before you start the job, not while you’re still an applicant.”

Another clever way to broach these somewhat uncomfortable discussions, Mr Zanker says, is to take a strategic, forward-thinking approach.

“Employees could ask their new employer whether they’d consider a salary review in three months’ time, based on performance.

“That way you’ve opened up the doors for discussion without hitting them up straight off the bat.”

A final word of advice – if you’ve negotiated on salary, don’t expect to get any leeway in hitting your KPIs and targets.

“You’ll really need to impress your employer during your probationary period because you fought for your skills and experience to be reflected in your higher salary,” Mr Zanker says.

“If you don’t fulfil those expectations, you’ll lose credibility fast.”

Managing your mates? Read on...

Picture this – you’ve just landed a senior management role but the same workmates you’d usually celebrate your good news with are now working for you. This is the problem of “mate to manager” – where you suddenly find yourself managing people you’ve been friends with, and colleagues, for years.

This issue is particularly relevant in the hospitality, retail and call centre industries, which promote an active social culture outside the working environment – think knock-off drinks on a Friday night.

The trick is to strike a balance.

At the Institute of Careers, we believe that to be a manager you need to do two things – be organised and set the pace.

Just because you’ve landed the top job, don’t be fooled into thinking you can slack off and let your employees do the work. By setting the pace in your organisation, the same people who respect you on a social level will also respect you on a professional level.

Here’s our top tips for being a great leader, and a great workmate:

1. Meet your team all over again.

You might not have changed, but your role has. It’s important that your team members understand this. Get reacquainted by calling a team meeting on your first day to set out your new role and the expectations you have of the team – the goals you’ve set and the purpose of your new role.

2. No special favours.

Boundaries must be set. Just because the team is mates with the new boss doesn’t mean they don’t need to hit their KPIs.  Let the team know that you’ve been hired for the simple reason of leading the team – then take the team to a premiership, not to the pub.

3. Systemise the business.

This applies to all of our management training. You can now let your team know that none of them will need to do any work anymore now that you are the manager.  Teach them that;

Every business is a network of systems

Systems are how work gets done

People operate the systems in the business.

You see how no one does any work? All they do is operate the systems.  The systems include ‘how to answer the phone’, ‘how to process an order’, ‘how to lift a box’.  Systemise everything, and empower your team to take ownership of the systems that they operate, and encourage them to continuously improve the systems. This gives structure to your one-on-one meetings and your team meetings.  At every meeting you discuss the systems that the team are operating, and how they can be improved.

When to stay and when to go

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

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

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

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

Reasons you should quit your job:

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

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

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

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

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

The ins and outs of (behavioural) interviews

After the initial excitement of being selected for an interview passes, panic soon sets in. But once you experience a few interviews, you’ll realise they usually follow a specific formula depending on the type of job, organisation and person conducting the interview. 

Casual/conversational interviews are the kind of interviews where you will likely go for a coffee with the manager, who will then ease you into the interview by having a general discussion about the organisation and the position it has to offer. You will then be asked to outline your career history, skills, experience and what you can bring to the role.

Stress interviews take on a much more formal tone from the outset, and are usually conducted by a panel of three or four. Questions will be fired at you from all directions and you should brace yourself for very direct questions such as ‘why are you applying for the job’ and ‘what experience do you have’.

Behavioural interviewing is a common interview technique in Australia, particularly in salary, management and government positions. In this type of interview you will be asked a number of specific scenario-based questions to establish how you act in various situations and circumstances that are likely to occur within the organisation.

STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result – is the ideal method for responding to behavioural interview questions. In a STAR interview, the candidate will provide an example of a specific situation, explain the task they had to perform, outline how they actioned the duty and describe the result. The key is to provide a specific example of how you responded to a specific scenario from your work history – it’s not a textbook answer or a ‘what you would do in that situation’ response.

Behavioural interview questions usually relate to the job you’re applying for so look carefully at the job ad for clues to what duties the role includes. If the role is a customer service role, for example, expect to provide an example of how you have provided customer service.

Case study:

“How do you deal with angry customers?”

A typical, vague answer from a candidate not using the STAR format is –

“I will be patient and find out the customer’s exact problem, and help them to come to a resolution.

A good answer using the STAR format is –

“I follow a system for dealing with angry customers, which begins by thanking them for letting me know their concern, and recognising that I understand how their particular problem must make them feel. I then let them know that I will work to resolve the issue and take appropriate steps to do so. As an example of this, I was working at a pizza shop and had a customer complain that their pizza was cold on delivery (situation). I recognised that it was my job to help turn this customer’s experience into a positive one (task), so what I did was (action) say: “Oh no that’s terrible, there is nothing I hate more than cold pizza! I am terribly sorry that this has occurred and I know how frustrated you must feel. Unfortunately I can’t heat that pizza up for you now so I can do one of two things. I can send you another pizza right away and personally watch over the process to ensure it is piping hot when it arrives, or I can send you a voucher for a free pizza with a note to make sure you receive a much better experience next time, on us”. Once I said that, the customer was happy that I was genuinely interested in them having a great experience and was happy to heat their pizza in the microwave and let us try better next time (result).

By following the STAR format, the prospective employer will have a clear picture of how you manage a specific situation, and what behaviours you utilise to reach a desired outcome. Some interviewers will require you to answer in this way, but many won’t. Regardless of what type of interview situation you find yourself in, the Institute of Careers recommends using the STAR format to respond unless you have been told to answer in a different way.

Visiting potential employers unannounced

The main reason job-seekers should consider visiting potential employers unannounced isn’t to score a job immediately – it’s about establishing a rapport, showing your tenacity and getting your foot in the door.

When speaking with someone face-to-face, keep in mind you are dealing with a human being, and human beings usually share the following traits:

• They will be probably be more afraid of you than you are of them. This is why they sometimes try to bluff you away with nastiness – don’t be afraid!

• They will only deal with someone they like and trust. If you are open, honest and tell them your strengths and weaknesses from the outset they will trust you more.

• They will always avoid making a decision if you let them, therefore you need to ask them to make the decision.

• Their number one priority is always themselves. Being charitable is nice, but noone will hire you because you have no money and need a job. You need to explain what value you will specifically bring to their business.

• They will only take action to avoid a pain or make a gain. This means you need to stimulate two emotions – greed and fear of loss. If you tell your potential employer you’d love to spend one day per week on work experience with their company, they will be gaining an extra employee for free and might not have to sift through dozens of resumes when the time comes to making a new appointment. If you tell the potential employer that you are a serious contender for other jobs but would still love the opportunity to work for their organisation, or at least do work experience, they might be more inclined to say yes if they fear they could lose out to the competition.

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