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

Knock-off time: What successful people do after work

How you spend your time outside of work – and who you spend that time with – is a defining factor in your career trajectory. As tempting as it may be to binge-watch Netflix with a bottle of vino on hand, the hours after work are just as important as the time you spend at work.

Successful people know they need to relax, eat well, exercise regularly and plan ahead if they want to bring their A game to the office every.single.day.

With 168 hours in the week – minus the 40 you spend at work – you have about 128 hours left in the bank to sleep, eat, and do whatever the heck you want. But if you want to succeed in your professional life, you have to use your personal time wisely.

In no particularly order, we’ve mapped out five ways successful people spend their time after work.

Now you know these not-so-secret methods, it could be time for a new post-work ritual!

They plan ahead:

Rocking up to work frazzled because you have no idea what your calendar looks like for the forthcoming day is not a good look. To ensure you’re ready for tomorrow, take a few minutes to review your diary and make a to-do-list every night. If you have a morning meeting, pack your briefcase with everything you need the night before, such as business cards, iPad and brochures, and don’t forget to check you have the name, phone number and address of the person you’re meeting.

They keep fit:

Ambitious people tend to excel in all areas of life, and that includes rocking a tight rig!  In all seriousness, people who work out are more alert, focused and energised, meaning they get more bang for their workday buck. Following a consistent fitness regime can also boost your creativity, confidence and resilience, both personally and professionally. Another upside of regular exercise is that it strengthens the immune system and helps keep you healthy so you have less sick days. After all, you can’t win employee-of-the-month if you’re always at home nursing a cold!

They chillax:

While most successful people seem to live and breathe work, in reality, the most successful people work hard at their career but then leave the office behind. They recognise the importance of spending time with their family and friends, hitting the gym and getting a good night’s sleep. This self-awareness keeps them from suffering burnout and becoming resentful if their career becomes all-consuming.

They unplug:

Much like the above-mentioned point, being ambitious doesn’t mean you can’t switch off. In fact, more and more people are choosing to spend their weekends and holidays on a “digital detox” – meaning no emails, no social media and definitely no Wi-Fi. Technology tends to dominate our lives nowadays, but highly successful people know that it’s essential to unplug from time to time too.

They self-invest:

Whether it’s a leadership course, an acting workshop or a certification in your field, ambitious people know that by investing in themselves, they will become a more well-rounded and successful professional. On the other hand, successful people also look for inspiration in unlikely places. Immersing yourself in a unique experience activates your brain in new ways and can lead to a burst of creative genius.

In summary, it’s important to recognise productivity doesn’t end when you clock off. You just need to get the balance right and ensure you’re being productive in other areas of your life – ultimately paving the way to a kick-ass career!

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

Reading newspapers makes you smarter (and more employable)

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a smart pill that could turn us all into Albert Einstein reincarnates?

Well, there’s not, bozo.

Becoming smarter doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes a concerted daily effort to build your smarts (apparently crosswords and coffee help too).

One such daily effort to boost your brain power is that of the humble newspaper.

Aside from keeping up with the Kardashians, reading the newspaper helps you become more aware of the things happening in the world around you. It also introduces you to unfamiliar cultures and events that you don’t normally hear about. You’ll learn to form your own opinions on world events and issues, plus you’ll have a lot more to talk about at the water cooler.

At the Institute of Careers, we’ve encountered more than a few instances of job-hunters oozing confidence on their way to interviews, only to walk away feeling as smart as Homer Simpson. And it’s not through lack of knowledge about their profession or the organisation they want to work in, but of the world around them.

As an icebreaker, it’s not uncommon for potential employers to kick off the interview with, “Did you hear about so and so in the news this morning?” The last thing you want is to draw a blank and look like you have no idea what they’re talking about.

Hiring managers want to know they’re recruiting the best of the best, and if you want to be the best, you have to stay abreast of what’s happening in your own backyard, at the very least.

Here are a few other daily habits that you can do to become smarter:

Get lost. Finding your way back from a lost at sea moment will develop your spatial awareness. Most people take the same route to work every day. Over time, the brain’s capacity to navigate declines. To train your brain’s spatial intelligence, start by taking a new, unfamiliar route home.

Exercise. Eat well. Laugh often. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. When you exercise, you increase blood flow to your brain, keeping it in top-notch condition. Laughing has also been shown to increase your intelligence and make your brain sharper (LOL).

Step outside your zone. If you surround yourself with the same people every day, and do the same things every day, you aren’t exactly learning anything. Mix things up a bit – make an effort to talk to one new person a day, or try one new thing. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Meditate. Aside from being an awesome stress reliever, meditation can increase your intelligence – just ask the Dalai Lama. Meditation trains the brain to focus and quieten the mind chatter. But you don’t need to become a monk to increase your brain capacity, all it takes is a quick five minute meditation each day to increase your intelligence and attentiveness in daily life.

Say no to Netflix. Don’t rule it out entirely, but limit the amount of time you spend glued to the box. Most programs are designed for maximum impact with minimum effort. If your motto is Netflix and chill, you’ll know what we’re on about. If you do this regularly, your brain will become less capable of thinking intelligent thoughts, just as an unfit body will be less capable of running a marathon.

Watch TED. Contrary to the previous point, TED videos are worth watching. TED.com contains some of the best videos to help you learn new things. Whether it’s learning about augmented reality or electroshock therapy, TED has it all. Tune in on your lunch break for a quick dose of the smarts.

Category: 
Interview, Job Search, Resume

Own it! Tips to be an awesome boss without losing your authority

There’s a fine line between being a leader and a dictator. While you definitely don’t want to be channelling Hitler, being a buddy-boss won’t do you any favours either.

As a great leader, your employees should enjoy working under you, but that doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to laziness and throwing office parties every other day to gain their respect and loyalty.

Employees don’t want a buddy-boss; they have enough amigos! So the second you’re seen as an equal, you relinquish your rights to leadership.

As the commanding officer of your ship, your job is to lead your company and your employees to reach their highest potential. As part of this, you need to recognise and reward great work, and hold your employees accountable for their professional expectations and obligations.

If you find yourself at the helm of your company, follow these tips to be a cool boss (while avoiding the buddy-boss persona):

Be human:

You don’t have to search far to hear horror stories of bosses who make their employees use paid leave for a doctor’s appointment, even when they have time owning. Bad bosses tend to be inflexible clock-watchers with no sympathy for legitimate tardiness or illness. As long as the employee isn’t taking advantage, awesome bosses have open door policies and an understanding of life’s dilemmas.

Be encouraging:

Everyone likes to be told how awesome they are every once in a while. You know how it goes, pay credit where credit’s due. But in the interest of being liked, it’s tempting to shower you minions with praise and, as a consequence, gloss over the negatives. If you do this, you’re at-risk of becoming a buddy-boss. Being a good manager is about coaching your employees on areas of improvement, as much as it is for praising what they already do well.

Be an advocate:

As the chief problem-solver, it’s your job to stand up for your people and advocate for what they need, whether it’s more resources, professional development, or raises. Helping your team get the tools and support they need is part of your job description – even if it means standing up to your boss!

Be a kick-ass recruiter:

You can’t run a kick-ass team without having the best of the best behind you. When it comes to building your team, you have to hire people who have both the ability and the willingness to do the job well. Likewise, if you have a lazy, unmotivated employee, it’s your job to work with them to see if they can improve. If not, be prepared to give them the boot. The rest of the team will admire you for your tenacity and commitment to the team as a whole.

Be an expert:

You need to tune in to trends and shifts in your field. Network with thought leaders, attend key conferences and read industry news. By keeping abreast of what’s happening and who’s who in the zoo, you’ll be able to share the latest knowledge with your team to plan for the future.

Believe in yourself:

There’s no doubt about it, being a boss is a hard gig. But if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect your employees to? People often think being the boss is about having the corner office, the Porsche, the big house and the perks. In reality, real leadership is about creating a vision that others can see and believe in too. It’s not about how far you’ve gone and how many people you have under you – it’s about showing creativity, innovation, and integrity in what you do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reason 1: You’ll learn more

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

Reason 2: Money, money, money

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

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

Reason 1: Industry knowledge

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

Reason 2: They make an effort

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

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

Category: 
Job Search, Resume

Flip the script on your next performance review

By definition, a performance review is about getting feedback on your work throughout the year.

But as an employee, it’s important to think about the process as a two-way street – an opportunity for both parties to, well, come to the party and talk about their future aspirations, both for themselves and the future of the organisation they represent.

Talking about what’s working and what’s not working will help you become a better professional and your boss a stronger leader. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to show how committed and enthusiastic you are about the part you play in the wider success of the organisation.

Here’s some food for thought when gearing up for your next performance review:

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Sure, you’ll talk about your performance, your progress and opportunities to improve, but during the review you should also discuss what makes you happy in your job. Are there any tasks you absolutely dread, while others you are only too willing to do? Use your performance review as an opportunity to voice these opinions – it might lead to doing more of what you love and less of what you loathe.

How can you grow and develop?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; the workforce is a competitive gig. Employers love employees who are constantly striving for professional growth. After all, a more skilled team leads to a better company. Use your performance review to talk about the ways in which you can grow and progress, whether in your current role or moving into a new area.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

A favourite at job interviews, this question is also relevant during performance reviews. Ambitious people are always asking themselves where they want to be in the future, and taking strategic steps to get there. A performance review presents an ideal opportunity to talk about your goals, your future and the state of the company itself. If you consider your boss a mentor as well as a leader, they may be able to give you good advice on how to reach your future ambitions.

How can your team improve?

As previously mentioned, a performance review should be viewed as a two-way, full and frank discussion between employee and manager. For the most part, your review will largely be about receiving feedback, but you shouldn’t be afraid to dish out some of your own! If there are any improvements you think could improve the performance of your team or company, raise them now.

After your review: Take-home messages

Once your performance review is over, first things first – breathe a sigh of relief! Regardless of the results of your performance review, think of it as a learning opportunity. You should be able to take away key information, whether about yourself, the reviewer or your organisation. If you received negative feedback, take it as constructive criticism and figure out how to make improvements over the next year.