I went to this networking event a few weeks ago featuring a good speaker named Andy Lopata. I hadn’t actually heard of him before but apparently he’s known as Mr Networker for those in the know. I liked what he went on about as it seemed very aligned my own thinking. The points outlined below…
What is a behavioral interview? Behavioral interview questions often start with: “tell me about a time,” “describe a time” or “provide me with an example.” The idea behind behavioral interviews is well founded research that past behavior is a reliable predictor of future behavior, that is what you’ve done in the past, will predict what…
Another week, another update to LinkedIn. For most of us, Google Alerts have been very useful for tracking the movements of companies. LinkedIn with its 400 million professional users had to strike back with a follow feature for their most important target group which is job seekers. Why follow companies on LinkedIn? As with all social…
Why do we believe that CVs are so crucial – admittedly only at certain times of our life? When we feel that we need one (or that we need to update our own), there is an almost manic sense of it being “mission critical” – the first thing that we ought to be doing. Whether…
Do you know how to sell yourself in interview? Have you found yourself freezing up? Have you ever had a question where you have not been able to work out what the interviewer was asking – or you could give an answer, but didn’t know if it was the right one? Here are my top…
The trouble with cover letters is that they need to be concise and must never be longer than a one-pager. Employers are busy professionals who have 10-20 seconds to skim your cover letter – so it’s important to state your case clearly and to the point.
How to cram lots of information into little space
It’s not as difficult as it seems. Less really is more when it comes to crafting a cover letter that hits home. It’s a simple matter of focusing your time and attention on the essentials, basically the items an employer is most interested in. Here’s 5 ways you can do just that.
1. Three paragraphs
Start with creating three paragraphs on one page. In the first one, tell the reader what job you are applying for and why. In the second you list your skills and experience. And in the third paragraph, clearly and directly ask for the opportunity to have an interview to discuss things further.
2. Stay concise
Make sure you limit each paragraph to three or four well-written sentences, cutting out all the fluff and non-essentials. These could well be the most important sentences you write in your career, so take your time to ensure they are compelling and inspire the reader to want to see your resume and even call you for an interview today.
Leave generous margins so there’s plenty of white space and be sure to double space between paragraphs. This will make the cover letter more pleasing on the eye and put the reader at ease.
4. Facilitate reading
Assist the reader see at a glance what you wish to say by using numbers or bullet points. You want the reader to be able get a two second snapshot of the cover letter, as most people do before they read it through.
5. Check and check again
Proof-read through to catch spelling and grammatical errors, then print it out for one final edit. When you think it looks good, send it over to friends and family and let them go through it with a fine tooth comb.
Now imagine how the employer will feel when he or she opens your new cover letter. Hopefully they will find a simple, clearly worded letter that contains only necessary information and with a call to action – getting you in for an interview.
The rule of keeping things simple very much applies to cover letters. With employers being inundated with applications, they will appreciate a brief and effective letter like yours. The next step will be to keep your resume short and sweet to stay consistent with your punchy new cover letter.
For more on cover letters, see First Impressions: 6 Mistakes to Keep Out of Your Cover Letter!
In today’s world, individuals will change careers on average 7 times more in their lifetime, compared to only a couple of decades ago – and this rate is rising. There is more choice available to us – especially for those with talent, drive and ambition. Currently the support that we tend to find is really limited. It’s also pretty generic – maybe some careers advice from your school, uni or MBA school. Otherwise not much support until you are really senior in an organisation – and even then whether it is effective or not is debatable!
What results is a combination of lack of control and a cycle of movement from one unfulfilling job to another, or getting stuck at a ‘dead end’. However – do not fear – you do not need to stay in this ‘rut’. New horizons could be just around the corner..
So – you want to look for a new and the right role. This can be challenging, difficult, lonely, and sometimes stressful. You might want to consider getting someone to ‘walk the path’ with you and help you get clear about what your options are, what you want to do and how to get there can be hugely valuable. It is even more helpful when you know that the person accompanying you has been involved in this process before on many occasions and is a real expert. So if you work with someone to help with your career change look at their work and life experience to make sure they know what they are on about!
Right – so you are ready to change careers and want to find that right role. In order to succeed bare in mind the following tips:
1. Invest in yourself
This journey is important – so give yourself time to work it all out. You will need a significant amount of thought, consideration, time and investment in order to make this change smoothly and to make it the right career change. There are many key stages and turning points to consider so take the time to do it.
2. Get Clarity
Without real clarity about what you want to do or how to get it, achieving any sense of fulfilment or being in control of your future will be very difficult. Therefore it is really important to work on getting clear about what your central goal is and how to achieve it. If you want to learn about the different ways to do this then feel free to drop us a note.
3. Create an action plan
Simply knowing what you want will not ensure that you get it. You need to be clear about your plan of action and how to carry out what you have specifically designed for yourself. Get clear achievable steps in place. Outline it so that it is broken down into steps that you can work through towards that bigger goal. Reward yourself and be proud of yourself as you get through each stage of your plan.
4. Focus your energy on the task
Making a change and finding the right role is not always an easy task. It can be tough, tiresome and long. You need to stay really focused and be efficient around where you put your energy and effort to get the outcome you want. Make sure that you are in control of the key elements in your world and are able to drive forward with the career and life of your choosing. You will need perseverance and determination to help. Being smart about how you spend your time is crucial.
5. Understanding your strengths
Get to know yourself better. Identify what your key strengths are. What are you really good at? What do you enjoy that you are also good at? What skills have you learnt? What are you naturally inclined to do and be better at? Make sure that you get right to the core of it. The more you know yourself the more confident you will become and the better you will be at identify the right role for you and projecting yourself in order to get it.
6. Ignite that passion
Without real passion for a role – it will be difficult to get. Even if you do get it – you will find it difficult to maintain and grow within and beyond it. What you want here is the right role. This means something that you are truly passionate about. It might take a bit of experimenting to find what ‘floats your boat’ – but it will be worth it when you have found it.
7. Know your boundaries
Being clear about what works and what doesn’t work for you in order to be happy can be groundbreaking. It sounds simple but so many of us do not actually take the time to work it out. In each different work situation – we may have different boundaries. By being clear about what they are and then communicating this clearly to others and staying true to what is important – will make a huge difference. This impacts work and your personal settings.
8. Manage and improve relationships
This is important from all aspects. If you learn to manage your relationships effectively you will be able to control the process and transition. You will be able to manage your exit smoothly from your current or old role. Understanding where your old boss is coming from and the impact you have on him/her – and how you interact could really influence how you leave a job. How you get your next job and keep it may also rely heavily on your ability to manage relationships well.
9. Leverage your connections
Learn how to network and harness your connections effectively. This does not mean bombarding people you do not know with emails or adding everyone you can find to linkedin. Neither is this picking up as many business cards you can at a networking event and calling that person part of your ‘network’. Real networking is about getting to know people. You need to work on identifying and getting to know those who can help you along your way.
10. Rid yourself of blocks, fears and insecurities
All of us have them at one stage or another. Many of us keep them for years. However, do not let them stop you. If you are afraid – that is ok – just do not let it take over and control what you do or do not do. If something is blocking you from moving forward – take the time and action you need to confront it, deal with it and resolve it. This does not have to be done alone. Find support from those around you. Get support from a professional if it is a deep personal issue that is troubling you. If you do not deal with it now – it will keep blocking you in different ways throughout your career and life. Once you have worked through the blocks – you will be so much more energised, comfortable, confident and free.
Those are the 10 pieces of the pie that you must do before or as you start your journey and change careers. Each step requires some work, time and thought – but they are important if you really want to make it work. There might be a lot to do – but you are not alone and you CAN do it.
Nisa Chitakasem is the founder of Position Ignition – a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. Nisa is passionate about helping individuals find the right career path for them whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career directions.
For free advice, guidance and information on careers visit the Position Ignition Career Blog or find her on Twitter [url=http://www.twitter.com/posignition”>@PosIgnition
Top image by toniblay
After reading the book of Seth Godin, Purple Cow… Several ideas and thoughts came to my mind. In this book, Seth Godin explains that companies need to be remarkable to be successful nowadays… beforehand companies could create boring products and put a lot of ads on TV, and that was pretty much it! And it was working well!
Now the audience is more demanding, has less time and the number of choice is bigger…so you need to be remarkable to get noticed.
You need to create a purple cow (because all the “normal” cows are white, black or brown but not purple…) to be remarkable.
You also need to be focused on a niche and not selling everything to everyone. You need to focus your money and work on a small niche of sneezers or early adopters who will spread the word.
A CV is a 2D document made of a boring listing of duties and responsibilities. As a recruiter, I have seen hundreds of CVs, I can tell you, they are all the same. And those that are noticed are not noticed for the right reasons (fantasy font, colors, funny pictures).
And even if we need to follow certain rules, people forget that CVs are here to show skills and demonstrate them i.e. prove your skills. They put a job description of their current job on their CV instead of putting figures or quoting some successful case studies.
The good old days
But back in the days, you just needed to send a CV and it was working well… I do remember my father telling me he just sent a written CV by mail and got 2 interviews the following week (in the 70s). The number of educated people using CVs was quite low, the word to mouth technique was widespread. So the CV was a very efficient tool.
The cut-throat situation of today
Now it does not work so much. The number of people with degrees and strong educational background has exploded over the past decade, and everybody uses a CV whether you are a banker or a plumber. The consequence of that is that recruiters are inundated with CVs.
Every time a recruiter posts a job ad, he receives hundreds of CVs from all over the world. So he has less time to scout every CV and your possibilities of standing out are quite reduced.
Please don’t give them a reason to delete your CV
When I was recruiting, the button I was using more than anything on my keyboard was “delete”! So the CV is no longer an efficient tool, it is quite boring to read. It is a “normal” cow, you won’t be remarkable just using a CV.
The key is focus
The other lesson from this book is that you need to focus when elaborating your CV. You can’t only put everything you have done and hope for the best… You need to be specific and find a niche or a market to stand out. If you put generic things without giving any life to your CV it will be even worse. If you want your CV to look less ineffective and boring, you need to put some life on your CV ie figures, your trademark, your speciality, for example I specialized in coaching European Executives.
But please give some life to your CV, and obviously always respecting the basic rules. And you need to know who is going to be your target to customise your CV accordingly. Just one word for the CV: focus, focus, focus!
Laurent Brouat is a consultant at Link Humans[/url” class=”aligncenter”/> in London.
He is an expert on Networking and Social Networking, and speaks at conferences (MBA Reims Management School, Rouen Business School, Bordeaux Business School…) and is frequently quoted in the media.
He runs workshops on how to use Linkedin and writes a blog about career called
Linkedin have offered premium accounts to the greater public for some time now, these have been popular with salespeople and others for years. Congratulations to all you job seekers out there, the time has cometh for to get your credit cards out.
Cashing in on job seekers
LinkedIn recently announced their new Job Seeker Premium Accounts, basically charging job seekers to use an enhanced version of LinkedIn. Have LinkedIn gone nasty and exploiting the people that need it most? Not really, they will still allow you to use it the basic version for free so no panic.
There is definitely an online trend to charge for services at the moment. LinkedIn are hopping on the same band wagon as The Ladders, CareerBuilder and other platforms aimed at job seekers. They have all noticed that there is no great shortage of cash out there, however definitely a shortage of jobs. This could very well be due to layoffs avec payoffs.
As long as the value you are getting from a paid account outweighs the cost, it could be worth considering paying a little to speed up your job search.
What are the benefits?
First off, you and your profile will be bumped up to the top of the pile when applying for a particular job. This is very much like a sponsored link on Google, your name will come up highlighted in the applicants list which is likely to get you some attention from the hiring manager (along with the other paying applicants of course).
You will also be able to send InMails straight to employers that aren’t in your network. This is particularly useful when you don’t have any contacts in common and it’s impossible to obtain emails for direct contact outside of LinkedIn.
On top of that, there’s the Profile Organizer feature which lets you track the contact you have with others, save favorites and even add your own notes to others profiles. A good old spreadsheet can probably do the same but this one is automated for you.
Finally, there are some webinars with Lindsey Pollak that act as video tutorials on how to use the new functions and how to search for jobs on Linkedin in general. Lindsey definitely knows her stuff so this could be useful.
What’s the damage?
Your brand new and shiny job seeker premium account comes in three versions; basic, job seeker and job seeker plus.
As you can tell from the image, they vary a bit on price, the only difference in service is the amount of ammunition you will have for each feature.
Basic: With this option you get five folders in your Profile Organizer and you get 100 profiles in your search results. You get 10 introductions to inside sources at companies.
Job Seeker: Here we get five InMails which you can use to contact any employer inside or outside your network. Your search results expand to 250 profiles, you get 10 folders for your Profile Organizer and you get 15 insider introductions.
Job Seeker Plus: The top of the line deal lets you send 10 InMails, 25 folders in your Profile Organizer and your search results of hiring mangers go up to 500 profiles.
Is it worth upgrading?
If you use LinkedIn daily and have hit a wall where you have run out of InMails, can’t seem to get yourself organized enough and think insider introductions will help you – go ahead and try it. As long as you get useful incremental results, stick with it until you get that new job. This is assuming that you have the money to spend, check your budget and ideally cut back on something else instead.
Personally I was never convinced of the ‘regular’ premium accounts, I can live through not having 500 people coming up in my search results (the more precise search, the better anyway). I don’t really see the need for InMails as I tend to get the proper emails of people, more often than not you can guess it.
I think it’s a shame there are no free trials for the job seeker premium account but I can understand why. Job seekers are not long-term customers for any business, as soon as they get a new job they no longer need the service. LinkedIn have decided to milk it from day one which is probably the right decision from a business perspective.
What do you think?
Do you use the premium account today and has it helped you at all? Are you going to try it out?