Tag Archives: build personal brand

How to make a lasting first impression

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to make a lasting first impressionBuilding a network to become a valuable working asset is a key component of your future career success. So how do you turn those people you meet at industry events or conferences into strong connections that help you (and them) succeed in the future? Many people we talk to don’t have a problem meeting people – it’s the staying in touch in a meaningful way that they struggle with.

So you’ve just met a new contact at an event and you really hit it off – your like-mindedness on so many issues was surprising and refreshing. You exchange business cards or details and mention you’ll keep in touch. If you’re like most people, following that exchange, nothing much will ever come of it. Sure, if you run into them again, you’ll strike up a conversation, perhaps picking up where you left off, however in terms of creating any meaningful or long lasting relationship, following through on that initial meeting falls short.

Here’s a few quick tips on what to do to significantly expand your contacts and start to build a network that’s valuable for your career.

  • Be interesting AND interested: If you’re meeting someone for the first time and you are truly interested in learning about them – this will show. While it’s good to have something to offer in terms of advice or support, often when you meet someone for the first time professionally, simply being interested in them and what they do will have a positive and lasting impression. If you’re genuine in your interest about who they are and what they’re doing, your conversation and connection will often flow more easily.
  • Take notes: After meeting someone new, take some brief notes about your exchange and include both personal and professional information if you can. It’s a great idea to do this straight away while all those details are fresh in your mind because once life gets in the way, you won’t remember them. Store your notes anywhere that works for you – a list on your phone, in Outlook, under your phone contacts, in a purpose built database, on the back of their business card, in your diary or you could use one of the many purpose built tools out there like Evernote – whatever works best for you. You’ll be able to use that information to strike up a future conversation or reach out for a catch up when it feels right. If it feels appropriate, send them a short email thanking them for their time and mentioning how much you enjoyed the conversation. You could also suggest a future catch-up time (then set a reminder to follow up so you don’t forget).
  • Use LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the best tool for professional networking. As soon as you get back to your office, send your new connection a request to connect and include a short personalised message about your time together. Doing this makes it very easy to stay in touch in a personal but non-pressured way. You can comment or like their updates, share articles and announcements you think they might be interested in, or even send personal messages where it’s warranted.
  • Schedule a catch-up: It’s great to meet someone, get along, take notes and connect with them on LinkedIn but if you want to keep in touch and develop that relationship further – schedule a catch-up. Ideally you’d wait a couple of months before touching base. Contact could be in a variety of ways – examples include sending them a friendly email asking how they are; sharing a link to an article you think they might be interested in and suggesting you get together; specifically inviting them to meet up for coffee (don’t forget to remind them how you met and what you had in common in case they’re not as organised as you!); or use an upcoming industry event as an excuse to connect.

While networking is about meeting people, it’s also about making meaningful connections and developing lasting relationships that can help you (and them) with future career goals.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also offer LinkedIn Profile Writing Services with experienced writers who can help you connect with like-minded industry experts and ensure your profile sets you apart from your competitors.

 

How to join the freelance revolution

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to join the freelance revolutionMany people we talk to dream of becoming a freelance consultant in their specialist line of work. Recent studies suggest that more and more people are taking up this approach to their careers – both from necessity and desire. So how do you go about becoming a freelancer if you’re still working for the boss?

Australia is currently experiencing a kind of freelance revolution. With jobs being cut and companies keen to hire specialist workforce skills only for certain projects or periods, job security is a thing of the past.

For many people, providing their services via freelancing, consulting or contracting is the perfect situation. Studies already indicate that 30% of the Australian workforce undertakes some kind of freelance work and many are doing this by choice rather than necessity. And it’s not just the younger generation that enjoys the fact they can pick and choose work to focus on. Older workers are also embracing the trend to reduce stress, increase flexibility, take back control of their career and life, and in many situations earn higher levels of income for their difficult-to-find skills and unique levels of experience.

Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. So what can you do to get started?

  • Understand your reasons why: If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and passionate about doing that for others on a daily basis if you’re going to succeed as a freelancer.
  • Work out your offer: Being great at what you do and knowing everything about your industry isn’t enough. Pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days, which means what you do may be the same as what many others do. Technology has made it easier for independent workers to engage with employers anywhere in the world at any time of the day, which has opened up a global freelance market that didn’t previously exist. This means that whilst freelance work is certainly growing, it is also becoming more competitive to secure. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it is different. It might be important to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects, whereas being a ‘jack of all trades’ may not be as effective.
  • Work out your finances: Many people think freelance work will provide instant financial rewards with the hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s rate. Keep in mind you spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes to run the business may not be billable. Many factors determine how much extra (unbillable) time you spend, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. The best way to prepare is to build up a salary safety net – you could start small on the side while still working in paid employment or perhaps think about taking a regular part-time role. Even the best freelancers take continuous bread and butter jobs, so they have a reliable regular income source. And remember, if you’re not in full-time paid employment, you won’t be earning any superannuation, so take that into consideration when you’re planning.
  • Manage your time and maintain motivation: With no manager to hold you accountable, you need to maintain your reliability. Doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it is the secret to success. Your clients (and your income) will depend on this since freelancers often aren’t paid until they deliver. This can be a difficult adjustment, so be mindful of budgeting and ensuring a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. You will also need to make sure that every one of your clients feels like they are your top priority. The secret is to implement systems and processes to keep everything on track and don’t overcommit. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.
  • Don’t forget about the boring bits: Running your own business means being prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking that because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource these areas, but in the beginning you will need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.

The opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life but it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.

Would you like career advice to help you decide whether or not to join the freelance revolution?  If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to avoid ruining your career using Facebook

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Avoid Ruining Your Career Using Facebook

While Facebook may seem harmless if you don’t post anything untoward yourself, you should definitely be aware of the negatives. A recent study from three US-based universities suggests that your Facebook profile can be a predictor of job performance. In an experiment, three “raters” (one university professor and two students) evaluated the Facebook profiles of 56 students with jobs. After spending just 10 minutes viewing each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the raters answered a series of personality-related questions, such as “Is this person dependable?” and “How emotionally stable is this person?” Six months later, the researchers matched the ratings against employee evaluations from each student and found a strong correlation between job performance and the Facebook scores for traits such as conscientiousness, agreeability and intellectual curiosity.

So what can you do to avoid a down fall? Some simple tips from experts of what not to do include:

  • Posting inappropriate photos – this goes without saying but these obviously can affect your image at work. Although this isn’t just about wild parties and drunken antics. Think about inappropriate or offensive attire too. Even just posting a seemingly innocent photo in a social situation may not be appropriate for the industry that you work in.
  • Complaining about your job or work – there’s the famous case last year of a worker who vented about her boss on Facebook and was publically fired by that same boss (via a responding Facebook comment) the very same day. While you might not get fired, negative posts about work can make you appear immature, untrustworthy and simply not committed to the role or the company. Sometimes after a bad day at work you just want to vent – but take a deep breath first and think about whether you’d say the same thing in person – if not, then resist the urge to post.
  • Divulging conflicting or confidential information – employers will often use Facebook and other forms of social media to ‘confirm’ claims made in your Resume. If they don’t match, watch out – you won’t be called in for an interview. Conflicting details ring alarm bells for most employers and where there are plenty of candidates to choose from – this is a reason to exclude you. Likewise, divulging confidential information about your company that perhaps hasn’t yet been released to the public domain could land you in hot water.
  • Doing one thing and saying another – again this goes without saying but you’d be surprised at the stories we’ve heard. Take for example, the employee that was supposed to be ‘working from home’ who posted a status update that she was away for a long weekend. Don’t forget that Facebook isn’t a private conversation with an individual or even a group of friends – it’s always open to public scrutiny.
  • Being controversial – this is a tricky one because obviously you want to be true to yourself, and your opinions and feelings, however posting strong opinions on controversial topics could be seen as negative in the eyes of your employer or colleagues. Facebook can be used to validate your professional persona and/or undermine your credibility so be careful what you say.

If you are a Facebook user, make sure you take some time to understand your security and privacy settings, but don’t use that as a security blanket because it’s not foolproof.

If you would like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service or check out our Job Search Coaching Service

Want the job? Audit your online profile

Article by Belinda Fuller

iStock_000018975885_SmallIn a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond the active applicants to fill a role. That means it’s never been more important to make sure your online presence brands you for the job you’d like to achieve.

While your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, recruiters can now explore your background more proactively through social media, which really has changed the recruitment world forever.

There are two sides to the story though – while it is important to have a clean profile on social media, and ensure your privacy settings remain tight, a positive online footprint can be just as important in securing you your dream role. We’ve spoken before about the importance of thinking about yourself as a brand and maintaining consistency with your message throughout all your job search tools. This includes your Resume, social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.

By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. For example, using social media to ‘voice’ negative feelings over situations at work, or bragging and sharing photos about questionable things you get up to at work, or worse still posting nasty comments about bosses and co-workers is a definite no no.

Perhaps more importantly though, recruiters are using social media to find the positives – searching for cultural fit through positive aspects of your life and activities. I’ve heard many stories of recruiters having two or even three equal candidates but narrowing it down to the ideal candidate based on a final review of their social media profiles. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility. Take out photos or comments that may be offensive or suggestive to others. Think about what is going to make you stand out from the crowd and focus your content on positive hobbies and interests. Make sure you include any additional interests, volunteer work or charities you support. Don’t be afraid to use positive statements as part of your social media, since it encourages yourself and others.

Social media cuts both ways. Most companies have websites, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Take some time to research the companies you are hoping to work for. Immerse yourself in their culture by following them on social media – it’s a great way to get to know the company before you get to the interview stage. You can also research current employees on LinkedIn to gain a better understanding of their backgrounds and skillsets.

Overall, it’s important to ensure your online footprint reflects the best version of you. Tidy up photos and content, and adjust privacy settings if need be. If you know someone who recruits staff, ask them to look over your social media profiles and give you feedback.

If you would like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.

How to Find a Job on LinkedIn

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Find a Job on LinkedInLinkedIn recently announced it had crossed the 50 million member threshold across the Asia Pacific region with more than 5 million members in Australia. That’s a big percentage of our population – yet we still get asked on a daily basis what LinkedIn is really all about. Would you like to make better use of LinkedIn to find a new role or boost your personal brand and/or career profile? With LinkedIn recently crossing that 50 million member mark within the Asia-Pacific region, it is becoming more important to better understand how you can use it to better your chances of securing your dream job.

1.  Get Noticed: your profile should be optimised with content in as many sections as possible. Even if you don’t voluntarily supply recruiters with your LinkedIn profile URL (which you should), most will search for and find it. It has been proven that information found online has a big influence on hiring decisions and LinkedIn is the perfect place to help you stand out from other candidates. At a minimum, include a strong headline that showcases who you are, a high quality keyword optimised summary, together with a detailed list of work experience which includes achievements and successes, courses, and any other relevant information. Make sure to personalise your profile and inject some personality because that is what will differentiate you. And contrary to what we advise for resumes, always include a current, professional photo (head shot only and preferably taken against a plain background).

2.  Get Engaged: Once you’ve addressed the basics, aim to add sections on a regular basis – look at your ‘profile strength meter’ and try to achieve (and maintain) an ‘all-star’ profile. Join groups, follow companies that interest you, use LinkedIn to research companies or people that you might be interviewing with, comment on articles, post interesting links yourself. The more engaged you are, the more value you will achieve from LinkedIn.

3.  Get in The Know: Understand how recruiters are using LinkedIn’s Talent Services, which include LinkedIn Recruiter enabling recruiters to search the membership base in a targeted way and LinkedIn Jobs where companies post job ads to automatically target relevant candidates.

While LinkedIn will regularly send you a list of advertised jobs you might be interested in, you should also make a habit of visiting the ‘Jobs Section’ to identify suitable vacancies. To do this, simply click on ‘Jobs’ in the menu at the top of your profile. You’ll then be able to search for specific titles, keywords or companies that interest you, and view a list of ‘jobs you may be interested in’. Keeping your content current and defining your specific skills and expertise well will help ensure roles are more accurately targeted towards your experience and skillset.

4.  Get Connected: Build your network by sending invitations to connect to anyone you know and trust. You can also send introductions through one of your direct connections which will help you to connect with other members who might be two or three degrees away from you. In addition, InMails are available for purchase. These are private messages you can send to members with whom you are not currently connected. You should also ask for recommendations from previous managers, clients and colleagues.

5.  Get the Word Out: We don’t usually advise sending out a blanket message to everyone in your network, but being selective about advising your network that you are seeking work is important. If possible, you could consider updating your headline or summary or even post an update stating that you are ‘seeking new opportunities’. You never know who might see that and realise you are the perfect candidate for a role they are trying to fill.

6.  Consider Upgrading to a Jobseeker Premium Account: If you’d like access to premium tools, tutorials and tips, the ability to contact key decision makers in your industry, the ability to become a ‘featured applicant’, and access to exclusive groups then you might also consider becoming a Jobseeker Premium member. For more information about that solution, you’ll need to research whether it’s relevant by clicking on ‘Upgrade’ within your LinkedIn profile.

The more complete your LinkedIn Profile, the more jobs LinkedIn will be able to suggest to you. This is a two-fold exercise, because obviously the more complete your profile, the more relevant and appealing it will also be to potential recruiters actively viewing your profile, so focus your attention here first, then start to explore the other ways you can tap into jobs within your LinkedIn network.

Are you confused about the value that LinkedIn can offer during the job search process? Not sure where to start? If so, a LinkedIn Profile Writer can help! For more information, please see our LinkedIn Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.

Is Your Voicemail Greeting Hindering Your Job Chances?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is Your Voicemail Message Hindering Your Job ChancesFirst impressions do count. Even though the old adage ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ is true, in business situations, the fact is that you will be judged on your voicemail greeting. How much influence do you think it has on a potential employer’s decision to interview you? None? Some? A lot? I’m willing to bet it’s a lot more than many people think.

Your job application could be spot on, your experience and background even more perfect, but if a potential employer is put off by your voicemail greeting, your chances of securing an interview can be significantly diminished. Have you ever called someone and cringed at their greeting? I call numerous people for professional purposes on a daily basis and often need to leave voicemail messages. I am constantly amazed at how unprofessional many people’s greetings sound. Some of the messages I’ve heard include:

  • “Hi. You know the drill.” This sounds unprofessional and lazy. I do know the drill, but I would prefer you to identify yourself so that I know I’ve called the right number.
  • “Please leave a short 10 second message for conversion to text.” This can create anxiety in the caller as they try desperately to squeeze their message into 10 seconds! Inevitably the caller is cut off and forced to call back or send a text message with more details.
  •  “Hi this is (name). I don’t check voicemail regularly so don’t leave a message. Please send me a text message or email me and I’ll get back to you.” Really? If I wanted to send you an email I would have sent you an email and as for sending a text message, isn’t it the same device? I’m recruiting and I’m calling to speak to people. If they’re not available, I’m leaving a message so they can call me back. If I was a recruiter and faced this message – I might just move on to the next candidate.
  • “Hello … hello? … hello? … Just Kidding, leave me a message and I’ll call you back soon.” I don’t think this one needs any explanation. If you are 12, this one might be ok, but any older, you need to ditch it and start over.
  • “Thanks for calling, leave a message.” This is OK, however, again you really need to identify yourself, so the caller is sure they have the right person.

There are many other no no’s when it comes to voicemail greetings – some of which include:

  • Going into great detail about why you didn’t pick up the phone. We are all really busy and we know you probably are too – however we don’t need to know what you might be up to while we’re trying to call you. Just let us leave a message and then call back as soon as you are available.
  • No greeting – i.e. the automated “The number you have reached is not available. Leave a message.” This comes across as lazy – if you haven’t gotten around to setting up your voicemail, recruiters may question your level of proactivity and ability to undertake the role.
  • Greetings with excessive background noise – especially loud music or voices that sound like you’re at a party.
  • No option to even leave a voicemail message – this one is annoying. Recruiters have limited time and very often have lots of options in terms of applicants. If there is no facility to even leave a voice message, it may be possible that they don’t get around to calling you back.

Your voicemail could be the first contact a potential employer has with you so you should ensure it sounds professional and lets the caller know that you will call them back. Write down your greeting before recording it because it’s much easier to read something than to ad lib it. A greeting like this is brief but works well:

“Hi, this is (name). Unfortunately I’m unable to take your call right now. Please leave a detailed message at the tone along with your name and phone number. I‘ll return your call as soon as I can. Thank you.”

The main criteria should be that your greeting is clear, succinct and professional sounding. Don’t um or ah (that’s where writing it down helps) and make sure you identify yourself and the fact that the caller should leave a message and you will return their call.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Do you think you need to change your voicemail greeting? If you would like assistance with your job applications and job search, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching Services.

How to Build Your Personal Brand

Article by Belinda Fuller

Branding has long been synonymous with large companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Nike, Coca Cola, Amazon and McDonalds – they’re valuable brands whose logos and image are recognised globally. These companies, and others, are all experts at ensuring their prospective customers recognise the value they hold in providing a solution to a problem or in addressing a particular need.

It’s thought that personal branding was first defined when Tom Peters (a leading American writer on business management practices, best known for co-authoring the book titled ‘In Search of Excellence’) wrote an article called “The Brand Called You” in 1997. In this article, he talked about how everyone is a brand with a chance to stand out. Tom Peters is quoted as saying “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

Since then, the concept has increased in popularity and in recent years has become even more prominent as the economy has tightened and competition for jobs intensified. A personal brand can be more simply defined as how other people see you – their perspective on what you offer in your field of expertise or what you’re best known for.

Personal branding relies on you having an in depth understanding of your strengths, skills, passions, and values, then using that information to stand out from your competitors. To develop yourself as a brand isn’t easy, especially if you’re not a natural marketer. Start by working out what makes you unique. To build a strong personal brand, you need to get your story straight in terms of what you offer. Think about achievements you have made and the things you do that make you stand out. Do you have any special skills that set you apart? What would your clients, superiors and colleagues think were your key strengths? Put it all together into a comprehensive statement about you – your brand positioning. Then, just like large companies make significant efforts to maintain consistency with their brand messaging across all avenues of communication, you need to do the same.

Here are some tips to help you build your personal brand:

  • Use LinkedIn – create a high quality professional profile and keep it updated. Optimise your content for search engines, change your URL to represent the best combination of your first and last name (search on vanity URL for instructions to do this), get as many recommendations and endorsements as you can to build credibility, join groups, participate in discussions, answer questions, interact with your clients and colleagues, post updates and links that position yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Network – build and maintain contacts inside and outside of your current company so your brand achieves optimum visibility.
  • Start a Blog – it provides a great way to share information as well as initiating two way conversations with your target audience. Write regular, short articles on your area of expertise and promote them through your website and/or social media. Blog articles help people better understand your value – what you’re good at and what you’ve achieved for others and when people like what they read, they usually share it with their own networks.
  • Participate in Online Forums – seek out relevant online forums and participate regularly by answering and posting questions. A great way to find forums that are relevant to you is to do an online search for questions you often get asked in your line of work.
  • Use Social Media Wisely – especially your personal pages – think about your brand every time you post. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing in your Resume or on your personal LinkedIn page.
  • Be Consistent – make sure your written Resume, Cover Letter and any online content is all consistent with your personal brand.
  • Use Twitter – to position yourself as an expert, comment, post, and link to interesting articles or announcements that relate to projects or other aspects of your work, to demonstrate the value your brand offers.
  • Keep Up To Date – stay abreast of the latest news in your field and maintain all your social media sites so they are consistent and up to date with all your achievements and current activities.

In today’s competitive job market, you need to start thinking of yourself as a brand and ensure that brand shines through all your communications – including your Resume, your social media and any other online content.

Would you would like help from a Career Coach to identify your unique value and create a professional Resume or online presence? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services, LinkedIn Profile Writing Services and Career Counselling services.