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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Get yourself out there
Twitter has been a great resource for professionals, organizations, job seekers, bloggers, and anyone else who uses the platform to get the word out. However, how do you know if the tweets you are sending out to the Twitterverse are being optimized?
Sure, sending out tweets regarding your professional and personal lives could help you stand out, but you probably need a pretty huge following before people start caring. So, how can you make sure your tweets are actually getting read?
Use hashtags. Using Twitter hashtags is a great way to optimize tweets because it’s like you’re adding information to the Twitter library. So, think about including industry-related hashtags after your tweets to help you get found. For example, if you are posting job related advice for recent grads, you could use #jobadvice or #classof2011 after your tweets. That way, if a graduate is looking for information or advice, they may be able to find your optimized tweet, which could lead to an extra follower or retweet.
Comment on what’s trending. Unlike other popular social networking sites, Twitter has the ability to let users know what’s popular, or “trending.” If there is a major worldwide event or occasion for example, chances are it will be trending. So, it may be a good idea to comment on what’s trending since lots of people are talking about the subject, as well as following it.
Further think about tweeting a unique opinion and responding to others so you stand out. Why? Well, since the topic is trending, there is bound to be a lot of repetition. Your distinct opinion will help you look different in a sea of literal followers.
Use URL shorteners. The noteworthy thing about Twitter is that users are limited to 140 characters. So, tweets need to be short, sweet and to the point. The same goes for posting links. Not only will long tweets fail to meet Twitter’s requirements, but also they aren’t exactly aesthetically pleasing.
Services like bit.ly allow users to crunch long links down, while at the same time saving the shortened link so you find them later. This may increase your chances of retweets since your users will be able to promote your tweet within the character limit.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Establishing a personal brand
During a recent workshop I conducted for a group of young, up and coming marketing professionals I asked the participants to pick the one piece of advice they received about establishing a personal brand during their job search that they felt would help them the most, and I added my take to them.
Last week I gave you five responses to ponder, and this week I added five more:
6: Don’t envy the competition, get to know who they are and learn as much as you can from them
In business and in life nothing is totally new so look into the past so you can see what the future holds for you. Believe it or not there is as much opportunity around you as there is competition, so Step One is to stop feeling sorry for what you lack and start concentrating on the valuable contributions you can make. Just as I developed a thriving business by knowing what others in my field have to offer and where they fall short and leave room for improvement, so should you. In a job search this starts with your resume. It needs to accentuate the positive based on the employer’s standards of excellence, not yours. This will continue throughout the interviewing stage, during negotiations, and after you get the job and are looking to climb the ladder to the top. Competition drives some people to sink and some people to drink, but when it comes to the winner’s in this world competition drives them all the way to the highest heights and beyond.
7: Be accessible to people when they need you the most, rather than the other way around
I have a friend, Andy, who I don’t see or speak to as often as I did when we were younger and worked in the same field. But to this day, I know if I was stranded with a flat tire in a blizzard 30 miles from home at 1:30 AM all I’d have to do is make one phone call to Andy and he would be there ASAP to rescue me; and he’d have a hot thermos of coffee to boot. If you want to succeed in business and networking this is a role model to follow. There are a lot of ‘what have you done for me lately’ people out there and we find out when it’s too late that we can not depend on them. But even they will go the extra mile for the Andy’s of this world because they know there is a reciprocal value in that relationship.
8: Emulate the Marines – Be the best that you can be
As an employee, manager and business owner I can personally state that I have the utmost respect for people who give 100%, and I think most people will agree with me. They may not be as productive as others who are more naturally gifted, but there is no substitute for men and women who take themselves and their jobs seriously, work as hard as they can to be a success, and exhibit both honesty and integrity in the workplace at all times. If you want to establish a personal brand that will open doors and get you the respect of others this is how it’s done.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Are you trying to find a new job without letting anyone know you’re unemployed? Many people try, very few succeed. Especially in today’s job market, it is extremely difficult to get a new position without extensive networking!
That word seems to scare many people. In their minds it conjures up images of glad-handing Multi-Level-Marketing salespeople who wants to show their “plan” with the “perfect” opportunity for you without knowing anything about you. Or it draws memories of the brother in-law who became a life insurance agent and has been haranguing every distant family member for months to buy a new policy from him.
Those bad memories are caricatures of networking or sales, and not the image you would create by effective networking for a new job.
Don’t hide from the people that can help you! Here are some thoughts and some practical help to do it right…
Especially now, there is no shame in losing your job! Often, I hear people say they don’t tell others they are looking for a job because they are embarrassed over being unemployed. Too often they blame themselves somehow when in fact market conditions can make anyone a casualty of a lay-off. When companies are forced to make drastic cuts in their expenses, they often have to cut broadly and deeply. Often they will cut a whole department, or a straight percentage from every department. The decisions of who stays and who goes are often made very arbitrarily with the bottom-line the primary concern. Survival of the company is more important than cutting carefully with a scalpel.
Over the past 2 years, virtually everyone recognizes that no one is immune. There is no stigma to a lay-off as there may have been years ago. There is no need for embarrassment, or shame. It is what it is and generally people don’t view your unemployment as a reflection on you, but rather a sign of the times. I was told of someone recently that didn’t tell his wife that he had been laid-off for 3 weeks. He rose, dressed and left for ‘work’ each morning just as he always had so his wife wouldn’t suspect, but spent his day at a coffee shop. Now that’s stealth, and not at all a good idea.
Who do you tell? Everyone! You never know where your best leads will come from, and usually they come from the most unlikely sources. Make a list of everyone you know. Studies show that most people, on average, know more than 350 people. Create lists in groups to help jog your memory. List ALL your family members, close and extended. List friends. List ALL your previous co-workers from everywhere you’ve worked. List service providers like your doctor, accountant, lawyer, real estate agent, dry cleaner, mail carrier, etc. List other parents on your kids’ sports teams. List other parents you know from your kids’ school. List people you know at church, temple, or mosque. List people you know from former vendors, customers, trade associations, user groups, or professional associations. List alumni from your schools. Hopefully, you get the idea… make lists of everyone you know!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Tips to get through it
Can you relate to this scenario?
After putting on your best business casual clothes and grabbing a handful of business cards, you head out the door to a “networking event.” While in the car your mind is racing a bit with questions like, “I wonder who will be there? Will I say the right things? Will this be a waste of time? Is it too late to turn around?” As you pull into the parking lot you notice your slightly sweaty palms; you toss in a mint and take a deep breath. As you approach the room, the voice in your head says, “OK, you can do this.” You quickly scan the room of over 100 people, hoping to spot a familiar face you can find safe harbor with. But the whole goal of being there is to “network” and meet new people, so you say to yourself, “OK, it’s game on!”
This is my true-life scenario. Even though I am a successful career consultant and I coach professionals about networking every day, to the surprise of many I am an introvert. I can feel the same pain of my introverted clients who have this networking experience. Because networking is such a large component of job search, here are the tips I offer to master the art of networking in a way that works for my fellow introverts.
1. Don’t apologize or feel badly for being an introvert.
Recognize that it isn’t your natural tendency and that there are ways to effectively network within your style.
2. Understand that we can adapt our style when necessary.
Because business is anchored in relationships, it is important to learn how to adapt your style in a way that feels genuine yet is effective. Think of it this way: there will always be parts of our work we don’t like, yet we learn how to do them well to be successful. Once I came to that realization, I could step into any room full of strangers.
3. Play to your style.
Arrange to meet people in smaller groups and more intimate settings. It is much easier for us introverts to meet an individual over coffee and to network in smaller groups.
4. Evaluate and address the fears that prevent you from networking.
These range from fear of rejection to not knowing what to say to not wanting to impose. Uncover and address these factors so they don’t present ongoing barriers to networking.
5. Manage the head game of “no one will want to talk to me.”
Introverts are typically very good listeners; people in general feel good when they can talk about themselves.
6. Learn some basic conversation starters.
It is easy in job search because conversations typically revolve around what you do, where you used to work and what you want to do next.
7. Start networking with people who you know.
It’s more comfortable to network with familiar faces. The fear of rejection is lessened.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Getting employers’ attention in today’s job market it no easy task!
When organizations get dozens, or hundreds of applicants for each job opening, it’s hard to get noticed even if you’re a perfect fit. Being unique in some way, doing something attention-grabbing, or getting creative is one way to rise to the top. Taking the idea too far, however, can hurt more than it can help.
What are some things to consider?
What is the culture of your field or industry?
Someone putting their picture with a “Hire Me!” appeal on a billboard will get a very different reaction from potential employers if they are pursuing a position as a Funeral Director than they would if they were pursuing a career in advertising.
Many fields are characterized by certain levels of professionalism and decorum. When someone does something so far outside the norm it will certainly get noticed and grab people’s attention, however, is more likely to create more of a negative impression than a positive one. Pursuing a role in a more creative environment may call for more drastic stunts, however, it’s important to have a good understanding of the limits.
What do they really want to see?
Setting yourself apart in ways that emphasize the most important qualities they want to see is imperative. That will vary depending on the type of role you pursue. Certainly functional and technical skills for the role matter greatly. However, other factors are equally important. An organization isn’t just looking for job skills. They are also looking for:
Communication skills Professionalism
Appropriateness Emotional Intelligence
Enthusiasm Strong Work Ethic
Sense of Urgency Ability to work well with others
Tenacity Follow through
Distinguishing yourself in those areas, as well as technical and functional competence for a role will make the difference.
How do you do that?
Research the field, the industry, and the company you are trying to pursue, and find ways that would make the best positive impact. Be creative based on what unique characteristics you have to offer to a potential employer.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Some questions to ask yourself
Expectations. We all have them. Our expectations motivate us and drive us to do things both good and bad. We might expect a great time at a party or expect to get bored at grandmas. We have expectations of all sorts at work. We have expectations of our peers, the boss, the company and even the customers.
Our expectations serve us like a yard stick where we kind of measure people both ahead of time and after an event. We think we know what to expect of others and ourselves, so we check to see if all of that expectation is missed or met.
What happens when our expectations are continuously missed? We turn grouchy, to start with. If our expectations are continually abused, it can become the catalyst of unrest and great unhappiness. Depending on your position in the company, you can bear down on the source of your missed expectations with unrelenting focus. We hate to be disappointed. The question is – Are your expectations realistic or are you a control freak? It’s good to be good, but it’s annoying to work with someone who wants to be perfect. Besides, it’s just not possible, so you could be unrealistic and also be a real pain in the backside.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, as well as thoughts to help gauge your expectations:
Are you clear about your expectations? Sometimes we have them, but we can’t exactly pinpoint what they are. If you can get clear first, you can examine them more closely.
Did you manufacture your expectations without validation? Especially with others, we sometimes cook up expectations and fail to communicate to get agreement.
Is someone being inconsistent? One day they do things a certain way and the next day, they do them differently. You’re now confused and don’t know WHAT to expect. Time to ask.
How do your standards compare to others? There is a fine line between wanting to be the best and being obsessive. Make sure you know where the bar is set for your peers to see if it is within a reasonable range of your own.
Do you need to communicate your expectations? We often go about doing our work without really communicating what we need, when we need it and what details go with it. If you haven’t shared those details, you need to have a discussion.
Are you getting feedback? You might need to calibrate what your expectations are with someone who can give you some objective feedback and understanding of your environment. Depending on your situation, you could do that with your boss; but if that isn’t an option, consider a respected mentor or peer. Don’t’ seek out your work BFF, as they won’t be objective or candid.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Here are things to do now that will speed your search.
You’ve had it! You’re leaving—just as soon as you get a better job. You’ve cleared the decks mentally and personally and you’re ready to telephone contacts to let them know you’re looking. Your resume is only two years old; with a few new results statements it should work fine. You’re ready—or are you? Here are things to do now that will speed your search.
1. Hit the library and the Web.
Don’t even consider launching a job hunt without the following information:
Rank order of largest, fastest growing, most profitable companies from large to small in your area, including startups.
Up-to-date information on businesses with sudden, intense troubles.
Key salary and inflation statistics, especially if you haven’t had a raise in 18 months or more.
Annual reports for any businesses you’re interested in or other available information if they’re privately held.
Job opportunities in your area that are listed on the Web.
2. Debrief successful job hunters you know.
This is so easy to do, so useful, but so seldom done. Why speculate on how your resume will be received? Talk to people who’ve just been through the process. You’ll hear about interview questions you may not have anticipated and you can prepare answers. Interview questions and resume fads run in cycles; information from the trenches will make you feel more confident.
By talking to others, you’ll also get the latest on your hot targets. One student told us that he was anxious to interview with a newly formed company in his area until he talked to two job hunters who had. Their tales of interviews with the general manager would have provided the plot for a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.
3. Revise your resume to include key words.
All that talk about resume scanners is true. Your resume may not be seen by a human being until it’s been scanned into a computer that searches for key words. Make your resume scannable. Don’t ignore this step because you think your target organizations are too small to have scanners. Technology is the great leveler—scanners now cost less than $400.00.
Job hunters have begun to string key words together in a paragraph at the end of their resumes so every word that applies will be found. Don’t do that. Work key words into the body of your resume. Some resumes are scanned first by people who won’t understand why there is a paragraph of seemingly unrelated words at the bottom.
Pass your resume to a dozen people in your industry to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Making sure your resume is on target is worth the risk of having your boss find out you’re looking. You can always say you don’t know how someone got a copy. That could be true. Resumes are frequently passed from hand to hand.
4. Decide on a pace and stick to it.
We know job hunters whose searches are everlasting because they won’t work at a steady, manageable pace. Thirty calls a day to contacts plus call backs is impossible for someone who’s employed. What is reasonable? How about 30 calls per week plus call backs? Or 20? It doesn’t matter. Keeping the momentum is what’s important. A good job may turn up in the first week. If it doesn’t, pace then becomes the key. A job hunter who makes 20 calls plus call backs a week will have offers within 12 weeks. One who makes 30 calls every other week won’t have any offers in 12 weeks. How do we know? From analyzing job hunting logs and seeing the ebb and flow of effort and the effect on the time line.
5. Look for new targets every week.
Job hunters get so busy pursuing contacts in target companies they forget to add new targets regularly. Nothing is more depressing than running out of targets. That’s when people begin to believe there are no jobs for them in the area and they are suddenly forced back into the library for more research. It’s better to have too many target than too few. We’ve known job hunters who’ve passed up targets because they thought they were too busy to research them. Ruinous!
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Monday, February 10, 2014
“I’m not a morning person.” We’re all guilty of using this excuse on those ever-repetitive and difficult workday mornings, but with a few simple changes to your routine, you can make those early mornings a bit less painful.
Here are 10 ways to start your workday off right:
Don’t press snooze. Period.
It’s easy to hit the “snooze” button when your alarm rings you to reality on those cold, dark mornings, but don’t do it! Ever. Refusing to press snooze will give you those extra couple of minutes you need in the morning and will save you from being rushed and hectic when you get to work.
Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast
It’s the most important meal of the day! Do yourself (and your colleagues) a favor by eating a balanced breakfast (and no, 4 cups of coffee doesn’t count). It will keep you from being the cranky pants everyone avoids in the morning, and will give you the energy you need to stay focused and happy throughout your workday.
Take time to relax
Have a cup of coffee (or tea) on the porch. Take a bath. Read a chapter of your new favorite book. Whatever makes you happy, do it in the morning. Your workdays can run you ragged, so taking time to sit and relax will physically and mentally prepare your body and mind for the rest of your day.
Make a to-do list
Making a to-do list first thing in the morning will guarantee that you don’t forget to do any task throughout your day, no matter how small. It will also allow you to keep track of what you’ve accomplished, and give you the satisfaction of being able to check off items.
Name one task on that to-do list that absolutely needs to be done within the first hour or two of your workday. Our brains work best in the morning, so use that time to do your most important or toughest undertaking. Checking off that big task at the beginning of the day will make you feel accomplished and will save you the stress later.
Get to work early
This will give you a chance to settle in and get started with as few interruptions as possible. Plus, leaving for work early means less traffic and a shorter commute.
Don’t check your email first thing in the morning
Unless it’s urgent, don’t open it! Spending your morning going through emails is a major waste of time. Read the important ones, and save the rest for later on in the day when your deadlines have passed and your priority projects are completed.
Make important calls and send urgent emails ASAP
Get in touch with someone as soon as you get to the office to ensure that they have a full workday to respond. That way, you won’t have to stress at the end of the day when you don’t have access to the information you needed.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Be aware of your online presence
You know that unsettling feeling when you think someone is behind you? You feel vulnerable, anxious, not adequately protected. Recently, I have noticed a steady increase in these feelings. However, these relate to an unsettling feeling where I feel something is walking in front me — my digital foot-premonition. In social media, the term digital footprint constitutes the size of an individual’s online presence and also relates directly to the number of individuals with whom they interact. More and more, I fear that what begins as my digital footprint is evolving into my digital foot-premonition.
The evidence that you leave in the digital world will not be washed away by the tide. Instead your digital activity will join the ebb and flow of the algorithmic patterns in the digital sea. Most importantly, a digital premonition has the ability to meet potential colleagues, employers and employees before you do. While the public sharing of personal information via social media channels is becoming a societal norm, filtering your information into separate social media channels for your private and professional life could secure your digital fate.
Social media is the relentless, rapidly growing realm of social communication carrying the world into the “next web”. Most interesting is the unprecedented quality of social media where societalcommunication and interaction have to adapt and metamorphose to the advances in social media, rather than society controlling the advances in social media. And as social media carries us into the future, we need to realize that privacy is becoming a thing of the past. For total damage control, one should regard all social
communication as public by default. We have all heard the horror stories where prospective employees have been turned away due to the discovery of photographs from wild parties, controversial comments or objectionable conversations on social media channels. However, if you make a conscious decision to divide your digital footprint into private and public matter you can prevent your online social life from
hurting your career. Using social media as a tool for self-promotion requires commitment and a strategy. To be taken seriously in the digital realm or at the very least to allow you to stand out amongst your peers, you need to make some important considerations. Implement social media for professional purposes, understand what your goals are, and then actively take control of your digital foot-premonition.
If you want to advance your career, social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. To avoid the latter, here’s what you need to do:
1. Build Solid Foundations
Understand that social media can be used for more than personal reasons. If you are already engaged in social media that is fantastic and there is no need to close any accounts or build a new online persona. Instead, decide which social media platforms could be used for professional purposes and which could be used for private purposes. Take a look at the various social media platforms available and see what stands out to you. Why not try one for size; create an account investigate potential contacts and if you don’t like it close the account (warning: remember to close the account or remove it from the public eye! Overlooking its removal could lead to a negative digital foot-premonition). Then decide which social media platforms will be used for professional purposes and which will be used for private purposes. For example you could use Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for professional activity and Facebook and Pinterest for personal activity, or vice versa.
2. Build a digital network
In relation to your career, social media is about who you know rather than what you know. If you put time and effort into building and sustaining contacts you can build a strong social-professional digital network. If you know the company you wish to work for, put yourself in their shoes and think about how they could find you. Build your profile accordingly. Also, think about who you need to know to get you there and can any of your contacts lead you in the right direction.
3. Enagage with your digital network
In it’s simplest form, social media is a conversation. When you post information, people can like, comment on, forward your thoughts, follow you, retweet or repin your digital activity. Not only can you put your own opinions or work out there but if you are open to a two-way dialogue and accept other people’s point of view, you can learn a lot. Becoming part of an online community is a great way to identify and follow trends in your areas of interest. You can also turn to your network with specific questions about your field or even a job search.
4. Judge your book by it’s cover
This may be a difficult exercise but the reward will be worth the effort. Put yourself
in another’s shoes and take a long objective look at your social media profiles. Then ask yourself — “What is this person all about?” ”What do you like about this person?” “What do you dislike about this person?” “Could you work with this person?” Be honest when answering and make amendments to your digital profiles accordingly.
5. Define your goals
Remember when implementing a self-promoting social media strategy, you are embarking on a journey. A journey to facilitate career advancement and professional fulfillment. Unless you know exactly what you want from social media, trial and error is the best method for discovering your best professional profile on social media platforms; set realistic goals, revise and amend your goals regularly.
6. Think of yourself as a brand
The best way to overcome the self-branding fear is to have some fun when creating your brand. Allow people to get a sense of what you’re about via your social media activity. Contribute to discussions you find interesting or are related to your industry. The more you comment on or write about a certain area, the more likely you’ll be affiliated with the subject.
7. Indulge in the digital
Today every company is affected by digital trends and emerging technologies. Employers are increasingly looking for this competency in potential employees. From airlines to health organizations to PR agencies, companies are hiring people to create and maintain their corporate brand digital footprint. New career paths are emerging; Social Media Marketer, Digital Media Manager, Mobile Manager, Learning Technologies Specialist and Social Games Strategist are just a few sample digital job titles.
8. Become a trendspotter
By consistently engaging with the digital marketplace you can gain literacy in social media platforms and strategies. Move your attention away from the latest attention-grabbing technique and develop a deeper understanding of how these social networks are formed and how people interact with them. Ultimately, to be successful in social media, it is more important to understand why people are on social networks and how they are interacting with each other rather than simply looking at “what” people are doing on social networks.
Monday, February 10, 2014
How being witty online can boost your career
For some time now, individuals, products and companies have been realising the benefits of using social media to catapult themselves into the limelight. For most modern consumers, their phone, tablet or laptop is never more than a few feet away – so what better way to engage a reader or customer than by infiltrating their social media feed?
On a personal level, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that being popular is nice. And if you say you don’t strive to be well liked, that’s fine, but we know you’re fibbing! So using a little joke here, a sarcastic comment there, will often be the main trigger for the likes and re-tweets to come flooding in. On a business level, however, being witty online is an invaluable marketing strategy.
So, whether you’re an earnest writer, peddling your wares; a purveyor of PR or the CEO of a global company, how (and why) can you use your sparkling wit to get ahead of the game in your career? Although in no way a definitive break down of how to become a stand-up comic, follow these tips next time you take to the keyboard and you’ll be laughing!
Engaging with your audience will give them a reason to keep coming back.
You could have the greatest story or product in the world to share, but if you’re not engaging your reader, no-one will ever discover it. The truth is that funny sticks: a person is far more likely to remember something which made them laugh than something which made them feel mildly interested or even indifferent.
Funny spreads, too.
It’s important to remember that funny spreads, too. Laughter lines online, such as YouTube videos, go viral for a reason – because people want to share them with their friends. This works in a similar way when it comes to social media. How many times have you asked a friend “have you seen that..? It’s so funny!” Your goal should be to become that person or brand people talk about over drinks.
Being funny will allow you to break down the barrier.
Funny things are often humorous because people can relate to them. The more you can directly engage with your target audience, the more interest they will take in what you are trying to share. By sharing your witty nature with your readers, it’s far easier to break down the barrier between you or your brand and your consumer. The ultimate goal is to be more of a friend than a business.
Humour will raise your visibility and make you stand out.
As always, you should be standing out from your competitors. Using a clever pun or witty line will set you poles apart from those who use standard industry jargon. The key, as always, is to avoid being boring!
Be engaging and ask questions.
Make your status updates and tweets engaging. Asking a question often encourages interaction from followers, and draws consumers in. So, instead of “our new product is out now.” Why not try “have you seen our new product yet?” A simple change of phrase creates a whole new tone for you.
Create an online environment your audience can relate to.
Try to make the things you post relevant to everyone. The most shared posts are those which your followers know their friends will relate to. So, even if it’s not directly linked to your product or page, just making your reader feel as though you’re on the same team can work wonders for future relationships. For example “don’t you just hate it when you dare to debut your new jelly shoes but it’s hailing by 12pm?” will cause your reader to empathise and react to you.
Be cheeky without crossing the line.
Don’t be afraid to be naughty. As long as you don’t cross a line, using naughty puns or cheeky anecdotes can also engage your readers. Anything from a mildly endearing “Hi good lookin. How are we all doing today???’” to something a little more daring will catch your audience’s attention in the sea of tweets and updates they scroll through every day.
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