How To Find Fulfilling Work

How To Find Fulfilling Work

 

The idea that work might be fulfilling, rather than just painfully necessary, is a fairly modern concept. These days we don’t just expect to obtain money through our jobs, we also expect to find meaning and satisfaction. This helps to explain why we often have career crises, often on a Sunday evening!

To help us on the quest for fulfilling work, here are six useful ideas, which are explained in more detail in the video below…

  1. Accept that being confused is perfectly normal. It is estimated that there are currently around half a million different trades to choose from. Having so many options can make us so anxious about making the wrong choice that we make no choice at all. Confusion is natural and fear is normal.
  2. Know yourself. It’s one of the oldest philosophical recommendations and it has particular relevance for careers. Most of us don’t have a calling or hear a God-like voice telling us which career path to take. That isn’t to say that we don’t have tastes or inclinations, we just don’t know them well enough. Write down everything you’ve ever enjoyed doing or making with no considerations for money, and you’ll start to get an idea of your ideal working future.
  3. Think a lot. It could take a year or more of sustained daily reflection to identify a career that fits. We tend to feel guilty about this, imagining we are being self-indulgent. Far from it! We should take as much time as we need to sort out one of the biggest conundrums of our lives. To make sure we don’t continue to spend the rest of our lives trapped in a job unwittingly chosen for us by our unknowing 16 year-old selves, we need to be generous with the amount of time we’ll need to think.
  4. Try something. It’s tempting to imagine we’ll be able to work out the shape of the workplace and our own characters simply through the process of reflection, but we need data. We can only understand ourselves and others by colliding with the real world, in the process getting to know both it and our own natures. We need to take small non-irrevocable steps to gather information, whether by shadowing or interning or volunteering.
  5. Reflect on what makes people unhappy. Every successful business is, at heart, an attempt to solve someone else’s problem. The bigger and more urgent the problem, the greater the opportunity. To flex your entrepreneurial muscles, consider and average day and everything in it that might make someone unhappy – from losing the house keys to finding their food a little greasy to arguing with their spouse. Each of these is a business opportunity waiting to be exploited. It’s a chance for us to serve, which is what work really is.
  6. Be confident. It can be tempting to dismiss this whole topic as nonsense, but in a peculiar and rather humbling way it really does seem as though the difference between success and failure is sometimes nothing more than the courage to give it a go. Many of the top positions simply belong to those who boldly ask for them.

If you want to know more about how to get more out of a career at iwantmycareer.com we offer coaching sessions to give you the boost you need to get the career you deserve. To find out more, visit our services page.

How to Create a Compelling Personal Brand During your Job-Search

Whether you like it or not – everyone has a personal brand! From graduates to seasoned CEO’s, their brand tells the world who they are. Here’s what marketers say about branding: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Does this apply to your job search? It sure does!

So instead of burying your head in the sand, and pretending that you don’t need to pay attention to this article, take 5-minutes to review this practical article on how to use your personal brand to advance in your career and secure your next job.

Be Clear About Your Direction

In a job search, your brand is manifested in your LinkedIn profile, the recommendations friends and colleagues give you, and how you present yourself during interviews. Your CV and cover letters are also an opportunity to highlight your brand to the hiring manager who receives and reads them.

In order to maximise these channels, first we must be clear about how we express our brand. When we first start working with many of our clients, they describe themselves and their job search in generic and vague terms. “I’m a project manager” is a common expression used to describe someone seeking Project Management roles.

There’s only one problem: almost every Project Manager we know describes him – or herself the same way.

“I’m an IT Project Manager,” some would say. From a branding standpoint, that’s immensely unhelpful and vague. We don’t know what sort of projects or sectors this person works for. We don’t get much sense of a job seeker’s brand in these statements, because they’ve very generic or full of jargon.

The first step in honing your job-search branding message is to understand the sorts of jobs you’re pursuing. You can have more than one job-search target. Our Project Manager may be targeting software implementation as well as infrastructure upgrades. Be aware that having more than one job search target will cause a problem on your LinkedIn profile, which will limit you to just one branding message. You will also need to tailor your individual application to match the industry or sector you are targeting.

Once we have a sense of our job-search direction and any targets inside that direction, we can think about our job-search brand. It’s very hard to work on our personal brands until we know where we’d like our job searches to go!

Fine Tune Your Branding Message

When we decide, “I am going to focus on Job Search Direction A,” we gain a great deal of power from that decision. It’s much easier to define what make you a great candidate for that job search target. From my experience as a recruiter, I noticed that when applicants had a crystal clear job-search direction and brand they stood out confidently. His or her message is no longer “Just give me a job,” but rather “I’d love to talk with you about your [IT] issues, because I love to project manage solutions.”

Some great examples of a clear job search direction include:
“I’m looking for HR software implementation project roles in Europe”

“I’m looking for Marketing Internships within the manufacturing sector”

Now that you are clear on where you are heading its time to ask yourself: why are you the best person for the job?

Most of us have a shopping list of reasons why we might be the best person but how do you bottom line this so that you are able to sound unique? Do this by listing what you do better than anyone you know.

Don’t be modest. This first attempt is not necessarily going to be used on your CV or LinkedIn profile. This exercise is meant to help you get in touch with the elements and qualities that make you perfect for the jobs you’re pursuing.

Use human language and avoid corporate jargon such as “I have excellent teamwork skills..” A more authentic list of statements might include something like, “I motivate project members to outperform their targets”.

If you can, try to list as many as 10 statements on your list. Now it’s time to synthesise these to a statement you can use in your CV, LinkedIn profile and networking conversations. This statement will be vivid and describe why you do what you do so well.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you have decided that your ability to motivate superior performance amongst project team members is a huge advantage over other IT project managers. You really like to get under the skin of your team and understand what motivates them individually. You expect that not every project manager enjoys or is interested in doing this. And you know that this makes a huge difference in being able to deliver
projects on time and on budget.

Part of your job-search branding statement may be “I love to understand what motivates my team to excel in their performance.” Notice that you’re not praising yourself as you say that. You’re telling the reader (of your CV or LinkedIn profile) what you love to do. If you love to do something, are you likely to be good at it? Most would tend to agree.

An ideal statement should be no more than 1-2 sentences long. It should be easy to remember and memorable.

If this has caught your attention and you are ready to draft your personal brand statement, take a look at our April blog on “How to write punchy personal statements”. This article is much more detailed in helping you answer the questions that lead to a compelling personal brand statement.

If you enjoyed this article and felt inspired to draft your own, feel free to share on the comments below.

Top 5 Annoying Candidate Behaviours During a Job Interview

Sourced from freeDigitalPhotos.net

Image sourced from freedigitalphotos.net

Having spent the best part of my career in the world of HR and Recruitment, with thousands of hours spent interviewing candidates, I have experienced a number of faux pas from the candidate’s side and this week’s blog is dedicated to helping you avoid the same mistakes.

Only the top 5-10 CV’s make an interview shortlist, and in many cases this can be as little as 5% of the applications a job vacancy receives. If you receive an interview invitation, you have already achieved a great deal to get to this stage of the recruitment process. The majority of job seekers place far more emphasis on designing their CV than they do on their interview skills and preparation.

This is a dangerous tactic as the CV only helps you get as far as the interview – it will not get you hired. The way you present yourself, how you articulate the value you create for the company and the position, as well as how you differentiate from the other candidates will play a big part in you becoming the recommended person for the job.

I took some time last week to speak with my professional network of fellow recruiters to understand what their top candidate peeves or annoyances are, especially at interview stage. Their top 5 responses have been summarised below in no particular order.

1. Not Prepared

This was a unanimous annoyance amongst all the recruiters I spoke with. Many candidates do not understand the level of preparation required for an interview and often try to improvise – big mistake!

Catherine, a recruiter in the green energy sector stated: “I like to ask ‘so what do you know about the company’ because it shows they have taken an interest in who’s interviewing them. When they know nothing or very little, it doesn’t leave a good impression.”

This is one of the most important questions to demonstrate your motivation and interest and also link your skills and personality to the job.

In order to be prepared:

  • read the company website

  • research the industry or sector the company belongs to

  • read the job description

  • look up the interview location, how to get there, where to park and how much time to allow

  • prepare some relevant questions to ask

  • organise what you will wear and allow time to get ready

Many of my clients seem surprised when I recommend that the minimum amount of time spent on interview

preparation should be 3 hours. The next step in your career is at stake and the more you invest in preparing, the better chance of success.

Also check sites such as glassdoor.com or speak to your network to find out what type of interview to prepare for, what the company culture is like and what is important to “know” for the interview.

Make sure your questions are relevant to the job and the industry, and make sure you have at least one question prepared – many recruiters translate no questions to mean not interested or motivated on the candidates part.

2. Too Familiar or Overconfident

Confidence is important but too much of this can create barriers and biases with the interviewer. Behaviours that may demonstrate this includes name dropping, winking, talking over the interviewer, and general arrogance.

Alex Bethanis who works as a recruitment consultant says: “A great example is when a candidate asks “have I got the job?” during the interview. This is so annoying, as it assumes they are the best.”

Some candidates believe that the more confident they are the more chance they have to impress the interviewer. Even with the most structured of selection processes, there is much bias which creeps into the recruiters and interviewers perception of you, so be careful not be overconfident (unless you really think the job or company culture demands it) as this might lead the interviewer to misjudge you.

3. Not Listening To The Question

Many candidates seem to believe that job interview protocol demands them to sit in one place for anything between 30-60 minutes and respond to a barrage of questions. They are not prepared to help themselves make the most from the situation and seem surprised when I suggest that they should or could take notes and think about their response before they start to answer a question. The next two annoyances are very much related, but let’s tackle the listening part first.

Write down the question. The process of noting down the question demonstrates to the interviewer that you are listening and it helps you consider what information to share. Spend a few seconds to list what you want to include in your answer and to make sure you do not forget any important details. The silence provides a much needed break on the interviewer’s side, helping them to think of their next question or catch up on their notes.

Clarify what is being asked for. Many times, untrained interviewers will ask multiple questions at the same time, which leaves candidates confused on what the question actually is. If you’re not sure what the interviewer is seeking to understand, take the chance to paraphrase what you have heard the question to be, giving you a better chance to tailor your response and get to the point.

4. Not Being Concise

This naturally follows on from the last annoying behaviour and is as important to prevent. You need to anticipate what the interview questions might be as part of the preparation work mentioned earlier. Last week’s article provides an overview of the predictable questions to expect and how to respond to these effectively.

Some candidates have the tendency to either think out loud whilst they answer, which can lead to long winded answers. Others seem to be anxious about missing out details and therefore go into detail overdrive. A good rule of thumb is to keep your initial answer brief and concise, no more than 2 minutes long. Research shows that this is the normal cut off point for the interviewer to stop listening or get distracted by something else and if the interviewer needs further details they will seek it with probing questions.

5. Turning Up Late

An obvious one but it still seems to happen far too often. This is part of the preparation work that you need to do upfront. Be sure to check the address, route and transport options to the venue or office. Always add a buffer to your estimate to allow for traffic or delays. It’s far better to arrive early than run into an interview feeling flushed and hot.

Early arrival will provide you with an opportunity to review your notes and questions, read some company literature in the reception or enjoy a drink before you are called for the interview.

In summary the interview is an opportunity to prove your value to a future employer but also a chance for you to make sure the employer is the right fit for your next career move. Use this opportunity to show your enthusiasm and motivation as well as your curiosity and interest in understanding more about the company and job. Interviews should be a two-way exchange for mutual benefit and gain. Going into your next job with both eyes and ears open will help you manage your own expectations and what an employer will require from you.

Want to know more? Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month for painless career development to bring your career to life.

How to prepare for the most common predictable interview questions

Image sourced from freedigitalphotos.net

Image sourced from freedigitalphotos.net

You might not be the one asking the questions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be in control of your interview. In this article, we want to help you get clear about your message and create your interview ‘agenda’, as well as provide you with easy-to-follow answer formulas for those predictable interview questions…

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what you might be asked and how to answer, let’s first think about WHAT messages you want to get across. What are your USPs (unique selling points) and what skills and qualities can you offer this employer to help them get results? Getting clear about these areas will help you craft your interview “agenda”. To get this clear, make three lists and match up:

Your USPs and why you are different to other candidates

Take a few minutes to think about this one – for many of us who are modest, this can be hard. If you struggle with this, the best next thing is to ask your closest friends and family as they always see the best in us and are happy to remind of us it. You’re looking for something that is individual to you and you have real examples to demonstrate. An example could be: having a unique insight into cultures, languages, a talent such as organising awesome events or your perseverance to achieve anything you put your mind to. Last week, whilst training a group of EMBA’s, the group struggled to come up with their own but within a few minutes of asking each other for help, had more than 10 things to add to this part of their interview “agenda”.

Your special skills, matched to the job specification

Take a highlighter pen to your selected job advert and highlight the words or sentences that describe the core skills the role requires. This could be displayed under the job description or roles & responsibilities section or under the person requirements section. Then try to identify those skills or transferable competencies you have which strongly match what you have highlighted.

The results you could help the company achieve

An essential starting point: what results will you potentially bring to the organisation that would have a significant bottom-line benefit? Another way of approaching this question is: if you were to be hired today and were reviewed a year from now, what would be the most important measurements that would determine your performance? It is important to articulate this from the point of view of the organisation, not you. For example:

  • Expansion of client base by 20%
  • New processes with 10% cost-efficiencies
  • Enhance market share by 5%
  • Double sales revenue
  • Develop new programmes or system

The most important of these results is known as the ‘ultimate result’ and it is something to keep in mind as it can be woven tactically into answers in many ways to be more persuasive.

These answers outline your interview ‘agenda’ and you should use them them when crafting your answers to the predictable questions mentioned below.

 

Now that’s out of the way, here are some of the types of questions you can expect…

What is your greatest strength?

One of the most common questions is about what you will bring to the company. For example, what are your perceived strengths? This is a great opportunity to bring your special skills, USPs and results agenda to the table. Here’s an example of a great answer:

One of my greatest strengths is my meticulous nature. I understand that producing good quality research and flawless analysis is important for this role and you really need an organised person who has attention to detail. During my work experience and education I have developed strong planning skills. It has always benefited me to set goals and plan to achieve them – I normally use a project planning approach to do this. Similarly with my hobbies – amateur acting and singing – are things I put not 10 0 but 200 per cent into. In fact I recently played a role in fringe theatre and got an amazing mention in the local newspaper.

What are your weaknesses?

See where we’re going with this? Now let’s deal with that ominous question that everyone fears about weaknesses/failures/regrets. The bottom line is your answer should be a disguised strength – a success story of how you can overcome difficulties by understanding how you work best. So let’s take this answer:

To be honest … when I’m faced with multiple projects of equal priority, I used to sometimes let details fall through the cracks

Then turn it into a positive success story:

I was told at university I was a global thinker – seeing things from top down – general overview first, detail later. Because of this I have learned the hard way to become a list person. I write everything down with a due date and then review the list regularly to make sure things get done on time. It’s a tool that has enabled me to multi task and I have become more effective as a result.

What motivates and excites you?

This is another common one, closely related to ‘what’s most important to you in a job?’ and it will largely be related to the industry or sector you are applying to work in. Refer to the type of duties required for the role and the skills needed, and any research you have done on the company. Use emotive verbs and adjectives and avoid citing any benefits to you. Finish off with:

 

“…and that’s why I’m here today!”

Walk me though your CV…

When an interviewer asks you to walk them through your CV, they are not asking you to read it for them. This is a chance to tell them a story with your strengths, skills, learning experiences and potential interwoven. Start with the most important and focus on your achievements, decisions, what you’ve learned and wrap it all up with a description of what motivates you:

I’m an MBA grad from Business School Lausanne with an interest in business development. I’m from Brazil and very entrepreneurial. In fact I have been obsessed about making money since I was a kid. I used to buy sweets in bulk from the supermarket and then sell them individually at a higher price in the playground. I would pocket the money and save it until I had enough to repeat the exercise.

A decade later I was the founder of an investment club whose mission was to help a group of teenagers to understand the stock market and gain experience in portfolio management. It’s now time to realise my long term dream to join a large corporation like yours and join a sales team where these skills are well matched and can be put to use.

Describe a situation when…?

We’ve already covered a lot of ground in this article but I want to show you one last tactic. This is one to use for competency-based questions and it’s called STARD – Situation, Task, Actions, Results and Difference. When your interviewer asks you to describe a situation when…. they are asking you to talk them through real life examples of STARD. You might also be asked

to describe what you would do in a certain situation. This is a hypothetical question and can throw you off. For instance:

It’s 20 minutes before you present to a big client and your team have made a huge error in the presentation – what do you do?

Whether it’s a competency question or hypothetical, always share a real life example from your education, training or professional experience. The table below presents the different questions you might receive within the STARD formula – use them to help craft some examples using the STARD structure in advance. Pick out the competences or skills you think you might be interviewed around and then think of some examples which demonstrate these skills:

STARD Table

I hope you found this article useful and it has given you a better idea of what to expect in an interview. I’d love to share more examples with you but we’d need a book to be able to cover all of them. Here are the most common types of questions asked in interviews for your reference:

  • Information gathering/biographic
  • Competency based questions
  • Situational / hypothetical questions
  • Commercial awareness/knowledge questions
  • Technical questions
  • Pressure or “nasty” questions
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How to break into the hidden job market using your network

Did you know that only around 10% of jobs are advertised? Most recruiting takes place through professional networks, which is why we call it the hidden job market.

The Hiring Pyramid

When filling vacancies, most employers use a pyramid structure – whether they realise it or not. Employers start at the bottom of the pyramid and work upwards, whereas job seekers start at the top of the pyramid and move downwards.

Therefore employers and job seekers are literally working in reverse of each other. To access the hidden job network, you need to start thinking the way an employer would think and work up the pyramid. In short, you need to start using your networks!

The Hiring PyramidIsn’t networking just handing out business cards?

Far from it! Networking is not just about meeting new people. It’s about using the people you already know, but have not yet been utilising to get to where you want to be. You need to unlock the opportunities already available to you through the people you already know.

This is useful not just for finding work, but for finding information and help whenever you need it. Start thinking about who your existing contacts are. Who do you already work with who could help with your professional development? Who have you worked with before? Who do you know outside of your company? Start working up the pyramid.

What do you have to offer?

You know what you want to achieve and you now have a list of contacts, but you need to also be clear what you have to offer your network. What problems do you solve for employers or clients and what value can you create?

It’s helpful to write a short statement outlining all of the above to use on your profiles online and as an opening statement for conversations or emails.

Expand Your Horizons

It’s time to start chatting to people. Expanding your horizons is not just about meeting new people, it’s also about asking new questions and using new platforms. There is usually a lot to be discovered about people you already know, and many new opportunities to be found through people they know.

The Internet is brimming with forums and groups of influencers and potential new contacts, so this is a good place to start. You can also use your private network to help you – you may discover that a family member you would never have thought of asking can help you. Look at local trade events and career fairs to attend, as these can be great for starting conversations. Remember to ask questions and be curious about the people you meet, as this is the best way to begin meaningful relationships.

We recently held a free webinar on this subject and you can watch the replay by clicking here. Do you have a question? Please add a comment below.

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How to grow your professional network in 7 days

Grow Your Professional Network In One Week

There is no doubt that having a strong professional network is a great foundation for career progression, but it’s sometimes easier said than done. It takes time to cultivate a valuable network of professional contacts and a lot of people struggle to get started.

That is why we have put this ‘how-to’ article together. We will help you kick-start your professional network and begin to

expand your contacts in just 7 days. All you need to do is invest in 30-60 minutes each day – that’s it. If you follow our advice over the week you will have made some real headway into building your network and if you’re looking for a new job, have a solid foundation to accessing the hidden job market .

 

Day 1

On your daily commute or over your morning coffee, take 15 minutes to think about the two following questions:

Who am I?

Who would I like to connect with?

Answering these very simple questions will help others understand why they need you in their network. Check out last week’s article on how to answer these questions. Write a short paragraph about each and save it for your records, so that you can be consistent when communicating to others.

The paragraph about who you are should include what problems you’re good at solving. It should describe what you are doing now and what you plan to achieve in the future. Be specific!

The paragraph about who you would like to connect with will describe the individuals you want in your professional network. They may be people interested in the same sector, career path, areas of interest – both professionally and for fun. These people will be useful to you and vice versa.

The aim of this exercise is to help you define what you are aiming to achieve, so when you have finished writing these paragraphs you will have a good foundation for growing your network. Now you can consider adding some of what you have written to your online profile descriptions and using them as conversation starters.

Day 2

Start connecting with people. Now that you know who you want to connect with, start searching for them online and invite them to connect with you. This could be searching and inviting new connections on LinkedIn, following Twitter

users and sending a personal @message, emailing contacts to introduce yourself.

Dedicate 30-60mins to do this – and aim to find at least 3 new contacts that look interesting. Once you get the hang of who or how to search for your new contacts, you will become very efficient and can easily start to add 2-3 contacts a day in just 15 minutes. Our member’s coaching platform provides step-by-step videos, templates and scripts on how to do this.

Your message should be about the person you are contacting, and not about you. Keep it short, concise and polite. Don’t ask any favours at this stage – if anything, suggest why it might benefit the other person to connect with you. Here’s a few examples:

“Hi Julie, It was great to meet you at the employability event last week and I enjoyed your presentation. I hope you will accept my invitation to connect on here too! Thanks, Adam.”

“Hello @AndrewG, I follow your blog and really admire your work. I would love to become part of your network. Thanks, Liam.”

“Hey Brian! I heard about you and your work through a friend, and I have a few ideas for how we might be able to work together. If you ever want to meet up to discuss ……… then please do get in touch. Here’s a link to my LinkedIn Profile Thanks, Maria.”

This might sound simple, but letting potential connections know why they should bother connecting with you will make a huge difference.

Day 3

It’s time to think about what you can offer your professional network. People tend to build relationships with others they think could be valuable to them in the future, so it’s important to showcase your potential.

Today you need to start building your reputation as someone who is talented, helpful, and valuable. How? Now that you have made some connections, show them what you’re accomplishing and learning.

Think about your biggest achievement recently – one that will impress your network. Write a blog post about it or share an article that has inspired you. Post an update on social media about your personal development or ask a question in a group that shows you are eager to learn more.

Day 4

Arrange to meet people face-to-face. Even just one person. This could involve registering for a networking event, scheduling a meeting with a new contact, researching local industry meet-ups, attending a free course in your area or going to a speaking event. Meet Up is another great (free) way to find people who have common interests.

Inviting new online contacts for an informational interview is also another great way of building a network for the purpose of changing careers or searching for new job opportunities.

There is no substitute for physically meeting people. Online networking can renew and begin relationships but they are strongest when you have met in person. Make sure that you connect with people you meet at the event, online afterwards!

See How to create a powerful and memorable networking introduction.

Day 5

Be helpful. Search for queries that you can help with today. By helping people you wish to connect with, they will be more motivated to add you to their network. Even those in your existing network will be more likely to help you in future to return the favour.

Spend just 30 minutes by taking a look at your online network’s status updates. This is an efficient way to see how you may be of “service” to your network. Respond to a request, share an article, blog or interesting piece of information, like or leave a comment – all of these are a great way to engage with your network.

Listening is the most valuable skill you can have in networking and it’s also the most rewarded. Most people like to talk about themselves and appreciate you taking an interest. It will also help you to learn about people as individuals as well as the challenges they face, and therefore build better professional relationships as a result.

Day 6

Now it’s your turn to prove that you are not afraid to ask for help. Think of a challenge you are facing at the moment and ask people in your network to help you. You never know until you ask whether others can help, and people are willing to offer advice more often than you think.

In less than 30 minutes, you could write to your contacts, post a request or make the call. Make sure to address any fears or self-limiting thoughts if this is holding you back. The majority of people want to be helpful (don’t you want to be the same?) so you will be pleasantly surprised with the response. It’s always easier to ask for help from the contacts who know you or have interacted with you, so start with these first.

When they respond, make sure you thank them but don’t just leave it there. Even if someone has given you a lengthy answer, read every word and respond in a way that proves you have considered everything they said. Turn it into a conversation. Before you know it, you are building valuable relationships.

Day 7

Thank people. Promote people. Talk about their successes. Today use everything you have learned over the past 6 days to publically promote people who have taken the time to connect with you in some way. Think about how you could thank them – whether it’s a phone call to recommend someone you met recently, or a public update linking to somebody’s website.

If someone in your network has had a recent win, share it. If they have written an interesting article, comment on it. This is a great way to start building relationships with the people in your professional network and establish your reputation as a good listener who is well connected.

Want to know more? Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month for painless career development to bring your career to life.

How to create a powerful and memorable networking introduction

 

Many of my clients who embraced networking as a means to change careers or get ahead in their careers have not looked back. For many it was not an easy start – especially for those who are shy or uncomfortable with meeting new people – but with perseverance and practice, their confidence grew and through this approach, and over 95% were able to secure their next role through their network.

Whenever I ask my clients to articulate what has helped them to get ahead with networking, one of the key strategies mentioned is to have a clear networking introduction prepared and rehearsed. This is also referred to as a “networking pitch” or “elevator pitch” and the purpose of such an introduction is twofold:

  1. To engage the new contact and have them be curious to know more about you
  2. To help the new contact understand who you are, who you help and the value you create

The latter makes it easier for your new network to respond to any requests you make or to volunteer suggestions, ideas or leads for your career. It also helps them to introduce you to their own contacts that may be of interest to you.

For example, one of my recent clients, Ed, had recently completed his MBA and wanted to secure an operational or general manager role within the cloud software sector. He had worked as a civil engineer prior to his MBA

and was keen to show his existing and new network that he was capable of developing strategy and leading teams to deliver results. His networking introduction informed people that his previous experience of leading multi-million dollar and multi-discipline projects, coupled with his MBA education, allowed him to help software companies struggling to expand into new sectors and territories by identifying partnerships or entry-points into new markets. This led to many new contacts introducing him to interesting businesses fitting his profile and within 3 months, he had accepted an offer with a leading cloud-based CRM company.

The simple 5-step formula to create your own powerful and memorable networking introduction

  1. Start with a hook – this a short phrase which summarises what you offer as value. In Ed’s case, he stated: I help clouds to find new territory. This was intriguing for many people and would be a great way to keep the conversation going.
  2. Stop talking – allow the listener to process the hook and provide them with the opportunity to become invested in a conversation by asking you “what do you mean”?
  3. Describe your ideal employer or clients – who do you work with or want to work with? (This could be a sector, type of company or organisation or ideal clients – e.g. cloud software companies)
  4. Describe their pain or objective (in Ed’s case, they were struggling to expand sectors and territories)
  5. Describe the value or solution you can provide – ask yourself “What problem do I help them solve? What solution do I offer?” (e.g. secure partnerships)

It’s not so much about describing your strengths or experience, or even education. The less words the better. Consider fitting your introduction into a Twitter style of 140 characters or less.

My own networking introduction varies to suit the events or people I meet but my template is as follows:

Hook – I help people to create strategies and build confidence to realise their full potential

I work with graduates and professionals who want to accelerate their career but are struggling to launch, to create winning strategies and achieve their goals.

Some final tips

1. Some of my clients find it helpful to brainstorm many potential introductions rather than fixating on getting one perfect. Once you’ve come up with several options, see which one(s) resonate the most.

 

2. Much like a CV or cover

letter, your networking introduction should be tailored to the situation. You might use a slightly different introduction when meeting a recruiter at a career fair than when connecting with peer at a conference.

3. If you are a job seeker and don’t feel comfortable saying “I do X work” when you aren’t currently employed in that area, you can adapt your language accordingly. For example: “I’m a Masters in Business graduate looking to help marketing departments to launch new products or enter new markets.”

4. Remember that the aim of a networking introduction is to lead to a further conversation. After you share your introduction, your new contact may make a comment or ask you a follow-up question about part of what you have said. Be prepared to listen for what they are interested in so that you’ll know how to continue the conversation with examples and anecdotes from your work and experience, tailored to your conversation partner’s interests. A networking conversation is not about “selling” yourself as the best candidate. It’s about getting to know each other, exploring common ground and seeing if there are ways you can help each other. And it all starts with a brief and clear networking introduction.

5. Simply taking a few minutes to develop — or refine — a networking introduction prior to a networking opportunity can help you feel more prepared, communicate more clearly, and network more effectively.

Please share your networking introduction — or get feedback on an introduction you’ve drafted – in the comments section below.

Want to know more? Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month for painless career development to bring your career to life.

Balancing face to face vs. online networking

Much of face-to-face networking has shifted online over the past decade and thanks to expansion of social media our opportunities to network have significantly increased.

However, face-to-face networking remains an essential way to expand your contacts and build your professional credibility.


It’s fair to say that online and face to face networking are complementary to each other and should be used for different purposes.


What do you think are the advantages of each of these two networking channels?


Let’s start with online networking.


The opportunity to reach a nearly unlimited number of individuals in all geographies and sectors is probably the biggest advantage. It’s very easy to target your connections using social networks, you can use search criteria such as professional interests, organizations, career path, titles etc. to find

the people you want to get in touch with.

Bottomline: online networking = high visibility with minimum efforts!

Many people, especially shy people, find it easier to approach other individuals using technology. This approach has a sense of safety as you are protected by your computer screen. However, it’s important to know that spending most of your time on technology tends to kill your social skills.

 

Think of remote workers, if they do not make the efforts from time to time to physically meet colleagues, they risk to be ultimately isolated and not only lose touch with the rest of the team, but also becoming unaware of company changes and trends which are necessary to deliver efficiency and top performance.


So what about face-to-face networking?

Networking starts with trust and credibility and physical human connections play a critical role to build relationships.


Every time you make the effort to network through face to face contact you develop your social skills. These are essential life skills that help you thrive, both professionally and personally.


The strongest relationships are built trough face to face networking. When you physically meet someone you have access to dimensions that cannot be perceived while exchanging online. Think of emotional intelligence and all you can learn through observing somebody’s body language, such as eye contact or a simple handshake. Think of how you can use all these additional “signals” to make your network exchange more interesting and engaging for both parties.


In conclusion….

Our advice is to combine both online and face to face networking to help you build and maintain your network. Use social networks as a way to open the opportunity to a face to face encounter or follow up on a recent face to face exchange. LinkedIn is a great tool to help you identify the people you want to connect with, to learn about their background and help you get prepared to talk about something that is relevant to them once you meet them face to face. If there is no physical way to meet them in person, then arrange telephone call or skype chat. And if this is not practical, nurture the relationship by sharing interesting articles and tips relevant to them.

Make sure your online profile is professional and be mindful about your status updates and the information you share, in this way you may be reached for networking purposes.


We hope that you found this article helpful to guide you in finding the

right mix between social media versus face to face networking. We would love to hear about your personal experience and the benefits that you reached using these two networking channels.

Want to know more? Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month for painless career development to bring your career to life.

3 steps to tailoring your CV for a job application

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Step 1 – research the company and job profile

You might be a graduate in Marketing (for example) but did you know the term ‘marketing’ covers 4 groups

  1. Relationship marketing / Relationship management
  2. Business marketing / Industrial marketing
  3. Societal marketing
  4. Branding

Taken these marketing titles into consideration you will understand that researching the company you are applying to and the position you are applying for, is crucial factor in writing a strong CV.

keywords
2 – Make sure you match the language and key words

Write your statements with words that depict the job description, Unbeknownst to many job seekers, a whopping 72% of CVs are never seen by human eyes. Why? Well, employers large and small now use applicant-tracking software to parse the information from your resume and map it into a database called an ATS (applicant tracking system).

From this information, the system will assign you a score based on how well you match the job the employer is trying to fill, and then rank and sort all candidates. Naturally, the potential employees with the highest scores move on, while others are left in the dust.

A great tried and tested method is to copy the strongest keywords from the job description and add them creatively into your statements or past job descriptions.

3 – Create a profile statement and achievement statements that will appeal to the hiring manager.

create_your_cv

The first thing you need to remember about writing a statement, is that it’s your opportunity to talk to the hiring manager.

The best process for writing a statement is to break it down into three parts:

  1. Why are you applying for this job?
  2. What have you done in the past to make you a suitable applicant
  3. What else have you done that would contribute to the company and the position that would make you an interesting and unique individual?

A statement needs to be well written in simple English, and laid out carefully. It may be difficult, but don’t try to hard to impress them with clever language, the result might be a hard to read statement.

Would you like to learn more about how to get your CV shortlisted for interview? Click here to access this week’s Recruitment Insider webinar recording to learn more.

How to choose the most relevant CV format for your job search

Career Development

 

Over the last few years, most of my clients’ biggest career roadblock has been the CV or Resume, specifically, which type to use and how to best design it so that they get invited to interview.

The CV or Resume has evolved over recent years and there a number of formats which can you can choose from. Even though there are thousands of recruiters and probably millions of job seekers who would love to have the CV “killed off” from the recruitment process, it is by far the most widely-used personal marketing tool, and whether your job search strategy is networking or job board surfing, you need to have one.

CV writing is a multi-million dollar industry in the US and Europe and you could spend up to $500 to have one designed. There are some websites which offer a resume builder or free templates such as resumizer.com and resume-now.com

It goes without saying that all CV’s, of any format, need to be carefully selected and designed to suit the job market you are targeting. In this blog post, I have selected a number of traditional formats as well as some new entries that you could use to develop your own. I have highlighted the key reasons why you might use a particular type and the advantages and disadvantages of each to better help you in your selection.

Chronological

Use this if you are looking to stay in the same or similar career track / function. Depending on the country you are applying to, or even the industry/sector, it can vary from 1 page to 6 pages, but in my opinion less is more. The content is structured to display your work experience from present role working back to past positions. Effective chronological CV’s or Resume’s summarise the key purpose and scope of a held position (e.g. how many resources, budget, scope etc) and bulletpoint achievement statements to describe duties with tangible results. For example: Led a multi-million dollar project with product launch on time and under budget

Advantages: It allows the recruiter and hiring manager to quickly scan down and pick out your relevant experience, skills and achievements to the role you have applied for. It is the most traditional format and is easy to design. There are many online templates and services which offer this format.

Disadvantages: Most of the CV’s and Resume’s floating around in recruitment databases, inboxes and job boards are of this format so the format does not standout from the competition.

Functional / Skills-based

Use this if you are changing career tracks, functions or sectors. The functional CV format allows you to summarise transferable competencies and skills required by your target position. The chronological experience section is summarised to just job title, employer and dates so as to not distract the reader too much and place more emphasis on the transferable “functional” competencies. For example, if you are looking to move from food and beverage to sales and marketing, then this is an example of where you might choose this CV format to highlight transferable competencies such as customer relationship management or marketing.

Advantages: This CV format allows the reader to focus on your transferable competencies rather than get distracted by non-relevant experience.You can get very creative with how you design the front page and you should definitely highlight achievements associated with the transferable competencies.

Disadvantages: Unfortunately not all recruiters and hiring managers like this format – some do and some don’t, but even so, this has probably a better chance of being looked at than a chronological which screams “no relevant experience”.

Infographic

Use this if you’re in a very competitive job market and need to stand out or if you are working in the creative sector, where originality and good design skills are expected. You will either need to have great photoshop skills to pull this off, or you can hire a professional to do it for you. Some freemium web services such as visualize.me provide you with the tools to create this for yourself.

Advantages: This is great for making a memorable first impression and if you know the recruiter or hiring manager is looking at hundreds of other CV’s which look the same.

Disadvantages: Be careful when you choose this format – make sure it suits the industry, sector or profession you are applying to, even the company culture could make or break this approach. A busy looking or unclear visual CV could also confuse the reader, so be careful with your design choice.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is fast replacing the traditional CV shared in Word or PDF format.

To be competitive on LinkedIn, you’ll need a fully populated Profile that rivals the content of your competition (and you may want to visit their Profiles to see what you’re up against!).

Your LinkedIn Profile will also require an intensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to pull in traffic from recruiters. Some of the fields on your Profile (such as your Headline) are highly indexed, meaning that you’ll need to place powerful keywords there to attract more views.

Advantages:Over 90% of recruiters are now hiring from LinkedIn so not having a presence on this professional social media platform is a grave mistake. You can also export a copy of your LinkedIn profile to PDF. Make sure to add your public url to your email signature or networking card to give potential employers quick access to your profile. Click here if you want to know more on how to do this.

Disadvantages: It is much harder to use LinkedIn as a functional/skills-based format and you will need to select one sector/industry to be associated too, which might be challenging if you’re targeting more than one.

Video

This format usually compliments the more traditional CV and is essentially another avenue you can use to showcase your achievements and career successes.

 

Advantages: Employers get to see how you present yourself. Multiple sites offer you the ability to upload a video resume -such as visualcv.com – or you can include it on your own blog or professional website. Check out this crazy version of how far someone was willing to go to work for google.

Disadvantages: Visual first impressions can be very subjective so it’s important to dress appropriately and practice your introductions and pitch so that when you record it’s pitch perfect.

Website/Blog/Video Games and other online formats

What will they think of next? Ok Blogs and Website resume’s are nothing new but the other day I came across an online article where Designer Robby Leonardi created an interactive resume set to the theme of Super Mario Bros., featuring a Mario-like character that jumps and swims through a colorful history of his work experience.

 

Advantages: Similar to the infographic or video resume, this can be a complement to your traditional CV and depending on the sector you want to work in, it can be a great way to get you to stand out from the competition.

Disadvantages: Be careful with your design.

I’m quite sure this isn’t an all-inclusive list of CV and resume formats. However, I think this is a great head start for helping you consider the options out there. Consider integrating or testing a few of these formats into your job search arsenal in 2014 and see what a difference these make. Have a resume format you think will be big in 2014? I’d love to hear about it! Share it with me in the comments below.


Are you struggling to get your CV noticed? Are you receiving rejections instead of interview invitations? iwantmycareer.com’s co-founders, Natalie and Enrica, are hosting a FREE Recruitment Insider webinar on “How to get your CV shortlisted for interview” on Monday 24 February 2014 at 1pm CET (UTC+1). Click here to register.

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