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  1. How to create an elevator pitch that takes you to the top

    November 22, 2016 by Alison Hill

    ‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘So, what’s your business all about?’ ‘Tell me about yourself.’ If you’ve ever stumbled over a response to these enquiries, you need to craft yourself an elevator pitch.

    It’s called an elevator pitch because it should take no longer to deliver than the trip in the lift (or elevator, as they say over there) ­from the ground floor to the boardroom ­– about 30 seconds or so.

    In essence, your elevator pitch is a brief, interesting statement about who you are and what you do that makes the recipient care and want to know more. Whatever your purpose, the steps to take to create your elevator pitch are the same.

    Define your goal

    Why do you want to tell people about yourself or your organisation? You might want to make a career move, explain your start-up idea or sell your organisation as a great place to work. You might want to pitch a great idea to an exec, meet like-minded people at a networking event or create interest in your new product. Being clear about what you want to achieve is the first step, because it will shape what you say in your pitch.

    Explain what you do

    This is the simple, most obvious part. ‘My company handles corporate insurance’, or ‘I am a social worker and I work with young people with a disability ’. However, this is only the start. The more interesting part comes next.


    TIP: Don’t use jargon or excessively bureaucratic language. You run the risk of sounding insincere, or of your audience not understanding what it is you do at the end of it.


    Explain how you do it

    To stand out from the other insurers, or social workers, or whatever it is you do – because you will most likely never be the only one – include your ‘unique selling proposition’ or USP, to use some advertising jargon. What makes you different? What is your story about why you do what you do, and how do you do it in a way that makes you unique? This is what will make your audience remember you, so include it in your pitch in a way that is memorable.

    Use words such as ‘I have a knack for…’ or ‘I’m an effective…’ in your USP. They convey your ability and self-confidence without sounding conceited (yes, many of us struggle with that).

    Engage the recipient with a question

    At the end of your 30 or so seconds, have an open-ended question ready for the other person, such as ‘How does that relate to what you do?’ Your pitch can then move into conversation mode. (Unless you really are in a lift, in which case stop there.)


    TIP: Keep some business cards readily accessible so that you can hand them to the person at the end of your pitch or conversation.


    Practise your pitch until it is perfect

    You might well feel a little awkward, but practise saying your pitch out loud. Do it several times over. Time it, and perhaps even record yourself, and make sure it is not too loud. Say it to another person who will give you honest feedback about both your content and your delivery.


    TIP: Be natural in your speech patterns and in the words you choose. Your elevator pitch should be an authentic representation of you. Watch your body language – make sure it reflects what you are saying. Telling people how compassionate you are in a stilted voice with your arms folded will not come across as convincing.


    This is a real example of a suggested pitch: ‘I’m currently working as Human Resources Manager at [insert company]. My supervisors frequently commend me for being able to weigh and consider multiple perspectives and negotiate conflicting perspectives.’ Would you really speak that way? If you would, that’s fine, but if not, rather say something like  ‘My bosses often tell me I’m good at weighing and considering a lot of perspectives  and negotiating in conflicts’.

    Be prepared to tweak your elevator pitch both for the occasion and as your skills and experience evolve. At the end of it, the listener should have a really clear idea of the value you can deliver. Perhaps most importantly, your fire and excitement as you deliver it should be obvious, and infectious. It could just be the 30 seconds that changes your life.


  2. Resilience: not just bouncing back, but bouncing forward

    November 15, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Nothing could be more important than education, experience and training in determining who succeeds, right? Wrong. It turns out that the quality of resilience – the ability to rise above and bounce forward from adversity – is the biggest factor determining success and failure. 

    Josie Thomson, coach, presenter and change leadership expert, explains that when we are faced with adversity, some of us adapt and transform while others do not. If we are able to bounce forward when we have been challenged, we will grow our resilience and increase our chances of success. We can learn to build resilience by using adverse experiences as stepping stones for the future.

    ‘We determine whether an  experience makes us bitter or better’, says Thomson.

    So how can we build the resilience that will make us successful in work and in life? Thomson drew on her own experience as a two-time cancer survivor and on her masters degree in neuroscience to create a strategy involving two things not to do and five things to do to build resilience.

    HOW TO BOUNCE FORWARD: What not to do

    DON’T immediately express your feelings or react just because you feel something. Allowing ourselves to experience the emotion, but not to ‘vent’, builds resilience. We are unlikely to learn a positive lesson if we react in the moment; in fact, we are likely to make the situation worse.  If a colleague is dragging their heels on completing part of a project or your manager is not explaining a vital part of a piece of work clearly, it’s tempting to express your irritation – but that doesn’t mean you should.

    DON’T suppress the feeling either. Doing so elicits the ‘fight or flight’ response in the brain. If you walk into a meeting feeling angry, and a colleague says, ‘how are you?’, instead of answering ‘fine’ when clearly you are not, and this becomes obvious to everybody in the meeting, it is better to say, ‘not too good thanks, but I’m not going to talk about it now’.  Suppressing feelings can cause us to ‘argue with reality’, explains Thomson, and that leads us to suffer rather than to bounce back.

    HOW TO BOUNCE FORWARD: Five things you should do

    You didn’t get the promotion you really wanted, and you want to crawl under your desk in despair. You were depending on a colleague to give you this month’s figures, and they’re not ready for your meeting in 10 minutes time. What would a resilient person do? How can you learn from these apparent disasters?  Here are Thomson’s five tips for what you should do in a situation that threatens to derail you.

    1. Name the feeling. Thomson explains that the brain finds certainty when you label the feeling: ‘I’m frustrated’, for example. This allows you to move on. She warns against rumination, however, stressing that you should name the feeling and then move on.

    2. Reappraise the threatening situation. How we assess a negative event depends a lot on our ‘hard wiring’, which in turn is based on our experience. But, says Thomson, this is not the complete picture; it is only a version of reality based on what you know. ‘Step back and see the whole picture’, she suggests, ‘and ask how you can see this as an opportunity and not a threat.’ For example, if you didn’t get a position you applied for; rather than seeing this as a failure, reappraise it and see it as a step in the right direction that allowed you to practice your interview skills.

    3. Distance yourself. Take a break and put some distance between you and the trigger, and do something to distract yourself, such as going for a short walk. ‘Do something that is both good to you and good for you’, advises Thomson. ‘If it’s a big trigger, observe the 24-hour rule – sleep on it’, she counsels. This gives the ‘threat response’ in your brain and nervous system time to damp down.

    4. Practice calming techniques and mindfulness. Once the preserve of hemp-clad hippies with a penchant for chanting, mindfulness and meditation are becoming more and more mainstream. With good reason – they are scientifically proven to work in reducing stress and anxiety. There are many apps and websites that offer mindfulness meditation instructions and exercises, including Josie Thomson’s own site and Headspace, which offers a free 10-day trial of its app.

    5. Show gratitude and appreciation. Appreciating what we have trains our brain to look for positive messages in everything, a fundamental ingredient for resilience. This can be hard, as it seem our brains are inherently biased towards the negative and being grateful means we are working against our hard-wiring. When we learn to acknowledge this and move on, Thomson says, we can begin to be grateful. ‘ Happy people are not necessarily grateful’, she explains, ‘but grateful people are certainly happier.’

    Josie Thomson’s final message about resilience is this: ‘Pain in life is inevitable. It’s how we learn and grow. Suffering is optional, while growth is intentional.’

     


  3. How the best leaders become coaches: lessons from the field

    July 5, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Being a team player, touching base, big wins, level playing fields – not to mention  dropping the ball and getting it over the line –  are just some of the terms from the sports field that we use at work. So when we decided to address the topic of leadership coaching, we decided to ask a successful sports coach for tips that we could translate to the workplace.

    When Adam took over as coach of a club soccer team, they had come last in the previous season’s competition. They weren’t too discouraged, as they were mates who liked playing together, but they had no expectations of winning. Three months into this season, they have won eight games in a row and stand a good chance of winning the entire competition. So what’s changed? And how did they get there?

    As I spoke to Adam, the parallels between coaching a group of 16-year-old boys in football and leading a team at work became clearer. Last season’s coach/manager has moved on. The team is ready to play but not highly motivated. They lack some skills and resources, and above all they lack belief that they can achieve. These are the steps Adam took to turn the team’s fortunes around.

    1. Observe and learn

    For the first few training sessions, Adam watched the players, assessing their skills and attitudes and observing how they worked together as a team. He didn’t step in or change anything until he had this figured out. Adam then worked out what he needed to learn himself before he could support the team. He realised that he couldn’t teach them hard skills in the time available, but could suggest areas of improvement for each player and an approach to learning new skills.

    Lesson: The best coaches start by truly understanding the team they are working with before they rush in with solutions. They know that self-education has to come before teaching others, and empower their teams to be responsible for their own skills development.

    1. Plan and consult

    Once he had observed the team and was familiar with their strengths and weaknesses and how they worked together, Adam make a plan for tackling improvement. Upgrading skills was to be their individual responsibility, while teamwork and team culture would be his.  He consulted the team about their vision; what they wanted from the season and what they expected to achieve.

    Lesson: Involving the team in their own goal setting and making a concrete plan of action brings results. The best coaches know that setting achievable yet challenging goals motivates people.

    1. Set expectations and parameters

    Adam emailed each team member, outlining what was expected of them and what he would do for the team. This included attending every training session, showing total respect for teammates,  and encouraging team members who made mistakes or struggled with new skills. In turn he committed to 100% positive effort and the intention to win every game.

    Lesson:  Setting clear expectations for everybody in the team – including the coach – builds a respectful culture in which everybody is expected to do their best and support one another in an atmosphere of civility. The best coaches hold their team to high standards of personal conduct as well as professional skill.

    1. Advocate for the team

    The team’s culture of non-performance meant they were under-resourced and rather ignored by the club. Adam’s mission was to get the team the resources it needed to succeed, and he pressured the club to provide new training balls, bibs and cones. This motivated the team and they soon began to win games and catch the attention of the club’s hierarchy. A coach needs to ‘go in to bat’ for the team and get them the resources they need, as well as to be supported by the organisation, to be truly effective.

    Lesson: Whether it is better equipment, more time to complete a project or recruiting a star performer, a good coach tries their utmost to get the team what it needs. Their commitment to advocating on behalf of the team shows the team they are valued as well as providing them with resources  to maximise their chances of success.

    5. Learn from setbacks and failures

    When the team started winning, they were surprised by their success. They won a game, but then had a bad loss, crumbling under pressure. Adam reassured them that this did not confirm their fear that they were a poor team after all. He admitted that he had formed a false sense of their mastery after the previous week’s win, and thought that winning would be easy this time too. He asked the team why they thought they had lost, and how they felt about it, and together they recommitted to a slightly different training routine, moving players to different positions, and working harder at skills. They aimed for improvement, not perfection.

    Lesson: Progress is not always linear and there are bound to be stumbling blocks. Confronting these situations, learning from them and adjusting plans when they are not working makes for a better result. A great coach leads the team through setbacks and is not afraid to talk about the negative aspects of performance as well as the positive.

    1. Review performance and celebrate success

    At the end of each game, the team has a quick chat about what went well and what went badly, but Adam is aware that they would rather get home than talk about the game at length. He plans a longer, more formal feedback session for the next training time, where they can talk honestly among themselves – and when tempers have died down if necessary. He stresses that by this time he has had time to reflect on the game, which is crucial in setting the tone for a review. The players contribute their ideas, the team discusses them, and the coach acts on the good ones. He sets the rules for these discussions: no criticism of anybody in front of others; talk about the team, not individuals.

    In this team, success is not celebrated by singling out individual players for medals and commendations. The biggest celebrations are reserved for when a player who has never scored a goal before gets one, rather than for when the star player scores another one. Adam’s proudest achievement is that a player who has never scored in many years of playing kicked the winning goal last week.

    Lesson: Success belongs to everybody, and so does disappointment. The best coaches do not praise or criticise reactively. They reflect and plan before honest discussions about—–

    The parallels between coaching a sports team and a business team are clear – that’s why the sporting metaphors fit so well. Lead your team to success by being the coach who uses a consultative leadership style, plans before acting, and shows flexibility and a willingness to take considered risks. Then watch your ‘weakest performer’ score the next winning goal.


  4. Managing time vs managing attention: harnessing the power of Getting Things Done

    November 17, 2015 by Alison Hill

    by Alison Hill

    Have you ever woken at three in the morning remembering that you didn’t make that phone call you promised you would? Or had a great idea for the account you’re working on while on the bus to work, which you then promptly forget?

    Our minds are simply not all that good at remembering stuff. They chatter away about irrelevancies at inconvenient times, and can’t keep track of all the things we have to remember. Making a to-do list is a huge help, and a great start, but it’s not a full solution. That’s why I was intrigued to discover a system for organising everything we have to do called Getting Things Done, or GTD®.

    GTD® was ‘invented’ by David Allen, who wrote a book called Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity way back in 2002. Although it’s been called ‘one of the most influential business books of its era’, I had never come across it until I saw the new, 2015 edition. I’m not a big reader of corporate how-to books (it always seems they take 300 pages to say what could have been said in 3000 words) so I’ll confess to not having read Getting Things Done. But I have spent some quite productive time reading the many websites and offshoots of the GTD® system. You can find out all about it at gettingthingsdone.com and at thousands of other sites. There are apps, podcasts, videos out there that will guide you to the nitty gritty.

    Here are four ways in which GTD® is different – and worth your time.

    1. It’s a system for managing your attention rather than your time

    You start by capturing, on paper or electronically, whatever has your attention. This gives me hope that I will get my head around what I really want to achieve rather than just getting through a list of tasks I have to do.

    1. It doesn’t separate work tasks from rest-of-life tasks

    If you’re thinking, ‘I have that big meeting to prepare for and also I need to buy cat food, plus I think my bank account is overdrawn and I want to write a book’, all that is stuff that must be recorded. You don’t need a separate shopping list, project list and bucket list, you can work with it all in one system.

    1. It aims to quieten your brain and free your attention for things you really want to focus on

    When you write down everything you have to do – the big things and small things; professional and personal – you no longer have to remember. This frees your mind to concentrate fully on what you are doing in the moment, leading to a big reduction in stress and increased focus on doing your best work.

    1. You can adapt it to suit your personal circumstances

    Don’t like electronic diaries or lists? You can use paper. Find the whole GTD® system a bit overwhelming? Use the parts that work for you. If you work across multiple devices you can use one of the many apps that will sync all your notes and lists. You can start simply and add parts of the technique as you get better at using it.

    So how does Getting Things Done work?

    At its simplest level, GTD® has five steps:

    1. Capture. You collect everything that has your attention in one place. At work, this might be all your routine tasks, your special projects, priority requests and long-term professional development goals. Use an in-tray, app, notepad or voice recorder.
    2. Clarify. Analyse everything you’ve captured. Actionable items go in one place and non-actionable items are trashed, parked or filed for reference. Then you do any task that will take less than two minutes – dealing with it later wastes time. If it will take longer than two minutes, delegate it if you can, or add it to your to-do list.
    3. Organise. Put each thing where it belongs on a list, according to a system that suits you. You may have sub-lists for emails, reports, discussions and learning on your work list, for example.
    4. Reflect. Check back on your lists regularly to do what you need to do next. Review and update your lists to keep your mind clear – weekly is good.
    5. Engage. Do the things on your list with confidence that you are making the best use of your time.

    This is really just touching the surface and you should definitely investigate further if you think it could help you be more organised and do more of what you enjoy. I, for one, will never use some of the techniques, such as the 43-folders system, involving 31 numbered folders for each day of the month and 12 for the months of the year. But I will be using and adapting the system to free up some mind space and find some quiet.

    Our next post will be about productivity apps and helpers, including some that work with the GTD® system.

    We’d love to know if you already use the GTD® system or any of its offshoots. Let us know in the comments below.

     


  5. Better team building starts with deep understanding of yourself and your team

    August 25, 2015 by Alison Hill

    by Alison Hill

    We’ve all had them – team building sessions that were fun and gave us a day out of the office, but ultimately didn’t accomplish anything. Back in the office, the same two team members refuse to cooperate, everybody seems fuzzy on goals and communication still seems to go wrong.

    Although well-intentioned, team building activities without a clear purpose and strategy are unlikely to address the team’s challenges. But when planned with solid knowledge about the team members and the issues you want to address, team building exercises are a powerful way to unite people, develop their strengths and work their weaknesses.

    Start by considering the challenges your team faces. Is it communication? Or perhaps your team is new and people don’t know each other, leading to lack of trust. When there is significant change, such as when teams merge as a result of downsizing or outsourcing, there can be resistance to change, holding the team back.

    Set objectives for the team building session. This will help you to choose activities that will effectively help you to address the issues and create lasting results. Clear objectives will help you to create measurable outcomes.

    Most importantly, UNDERSTAND before you seek to change. This means getting to know your team members individually as well as understanding the dynamics between you.

    A team-based assessment before you begin planning your team building strategy allows you to build on a solid base of knowledge. There are many tools that help teams to do this. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a powerful way to understand both individuals and groups. A survey of the team before any events are planned will show:

    • The personality types in the group
    • How each person prefers to work in a variety of situations
    • Issues in the team

    Challenge Consulting can create tailored team building sessions to suit your team. The MBTI survey is completed confidentially online by each team member. Our facilitator then develops reports for each team member as well as one for the whole team. Team leaders participate in a debrief session, where we discuss the results and the challenges in the team.

    Challenge Consulting then runs a workshop tailored to your team, exploring individual and team results. This can be run on your own premises as a half day or full day event, and is interactive and practical. You will leave the workshop with:

    • New insight into yourself and your team
    • Ideas about how to solve issues
    • Clear objectives for improving teamwork

    There is then the option for one-on-one coaching and a focus group session, and a future program tailored to your team.

    AND it will be fun!

    Teams need to learn to depend on one another to succeed. Effective team building needs to happen continuously if you want your team to be successful. Why not take the first step by looking at our team building page and contacting our facilitators to see how we can make your team amazing.


  6. Creating virtuoso virtual teams

    August 18, 2015 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    Technological change and the globalisation of business mean we will probably all work in a virtual team at some time. Well over half of us already work in virtual teams.

    While the debate goes on about whether virtual teams are more or less productive, efficient and responsive to customer needs, what is certain is that they’re here to stay.  While nothing can quite replicate face-to-face contact and the behavioural and emotional interaction and learning that comes with it, leaders are working hard at creating a different experience of the workplace that promotes efficient teams that are also happy and productive, innovative teams.

     

    Technology has made collaboration across borders of time and geography relatively simple. Enterprise social networking software, screen sharing, document sharing, collaboration tools and online meeting platforms provide the means to create a sense of community. Making them available is a good start, and ensuring that they are extremely well supported is vital. Many will have experienced the frustration and time-wasting of virtual meetings hijacked by technical glitches. Excellent tech support and training for all users is non-negotiable for effective virtual teams

    Whether being part of a virtual team means working from home a few days a week or managing people dispersed across the globe, there are challenges in communication, collaboration and leadership. Sharing information, integrating knowledge and achieving team cohesion are undoubtedly more difficult than in a face-to-face team. Simply using technology well won’t solve these issues. There must be attention to the interpersonal dimensions of a virtual team.

    In a healthy team, conversations are encouraged and knowledge is shared. Expectations are clear and roles are made explicit. Team members feel heard. This may be a little harder when some members are at home or in another city or country, but it can be done. From simple things like sharing photos of the team and their locations, to drawing up and agreeing to rules for virtual meetings (no multitasking, give everybody a turn to speak, turn webcam on at all times, for starters) to hosting virtual team building sessions, work at it.

    Leaders must:

    • focus on both technology and interpersonal competence
    • encourage respect for other cultures and languages
    • promote diversity as a strength
    • build trust between team members
    • build trust between themselves and their team members
    • ensure technical support is available
    • facilitate training in technology and people skills
    • recognise and reward efforts and results right across the team.

    Team members must:

    • dial in to meetings and events on time and respond to chat and requests for collaboration
    • be aware of body language – slumping, eye rolling and smirking are just as impolite and destructive in a virtual meeting
    • observe the same manners as in a face-to-face situation – don’t get up and walk around, check Facebook, or make a phone call
    • ask for advice and help from your dispersed team members
    • be ready to learn from one another, not just about the mechanics of the job but also about values and attitudes
    • celebrate diversity, for example by learning about one another’s public holidays, religious festivals, birthday traditions and so on.

    While work might be geographically dispersed and asynchronous, it is still happening in a team. Virtuoso virtual teams will value working and learning together, each contributing fully to its success.

    Have you worked in a virtual team? What is your experience of working remotely? Let us know how it is for you.


  7. Team meetings that run perfectly: follow the 5 Ps

    August 11, 2015 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    You probably spend a lot of your work day in meetings.  According to software company Atlassian, on average we attend a staggering 62 meetings a month, for a total of 31 hours. And we find half of them are a waste of time.

    Whether time in team meetings is time well spent or time wasted depends on the five Ps: purpose, planning, preparation, participation and P.S.

     

    Purpose

    A meeting needs to be the best way to use the hour or so it takes. Make sure the purpose is clear before the meeting begins, and start by stating what you hope to achieve in the time allotted. Be specific by saying something like, ‘We have an hour to decide between x and y, hear a report back from Z, and to revise the tasks allocations for the week.  By the end of the meeting we should have our decision and a list of seven tasks.’

    Planning

    Send out an agenda if you are responsible for running the meeting, or ask for one if you’re not. Be clear about what the outcomes should be, invite those who need to be part of the decision-making, and leave out those who don’t. Arrange the agenda items so that the most important items, or those that involve the entire team, are dealt with first.

    Allocate a time to each item and move o when the time is up. This way you will cover everything and avoid the team leaving feeling cynical and sour about wasted time. Have a designated note taker who will pay attention and record decisions

    Preparation

    Read the agenda before the meeting. Think about the issues and consider what you will contribute. Do your research before the meeting if items on the agenda are a mystery to you. Having to explain to one team member what the rest already know is a time waster, and a poor reflection on you.

    Make sure you have any reports, facts, statistics or examples with you, as well as any items to be handed to team members. Take along extra copies of the agenda. If you use a whiteboard or projector, make sure they are set up before you start.

    Participation

    Make the hour count. Concentrate and participate. Leave your laptop and devices outside the room (unless you ABSOLUTELY must be contactable, in which case switch to silent and leave the room to answer calls). Don’t ramble, and don’t introduce a topic that isn’t on the agenda. If it’s really, really important, mention it and set up another time to discuss it.

    If others are not participating, ask them for their opinion. Most importantly, don’t do other work, or daydream, or start side conversations. That merely demonstrates disrespect for others in your team.

     P.S.

    Following up after a meeting is perhaps the most important step. It’s a good idea to have the note taker record actions and decisions and who is responsible for them, and distribute them to all the meeting participants straight after the meeting, or at least by the next morning. Put a deadline against as many actions as possible, and then get them done. That way your team meetings will become surprisingly productive.

    Do you have tips to share about making time in team meetings productive? Let us know.

    Find out about Challenge Consulting’s tailor-made team building workshops here.


  8. What’s your motivation style?

    June 30, 2015 by Penny Robertshawe

    Being motivated brings many rewards – it compels you to take action and pushes you to succeed. Advice about how to become more motivated is plentiful but if it’s not directed towards your personal motivation style, it might not be all that useful to you. When you know your motivation style, however, you can better direct your efforts.

    Your motivation style affects how you behave as well as how quickly and successfully you achieve your goals. Usually people fall into two broad categories – those who are motivated towards achieving their goals and those who are motivated by fear of not achieving their goals. Both styles are effective as long as you understand which is your style and how to work with it.

    Towards motivations

    If you’re the type of person who is motivated towards goals, you tend to spend time thinking about what you will gain by achieving them. You love goals that come with incentives such as a bonus, promotion or pay rise. You also like goals that give you a sense of accomplishment especially when it’s coupled with positive feedback from others or, better still, an award.

    As a towards motivation type you are an optimist and you usually see the world in a positive light. It’s a good way to be – just watch that you’re not spending all your time dreaming. Try to maintain a balance by making sure that you take the actions needed for achieving your goals.

    Away from motivations

    When you spend your time thinking about what will happen if you don’t reach your goal, you’re motivated by fear. It’s all about the consequences. Let’s say you’re studying to get a qualification. A towards motivation type might be thinking about graduation day and celebrating their academic achievement; you will be thinking about how disappointed you’ll be with yourself if you fail, and how embarrassing it would be to have to tell your family and friends.

    Although as an away motivation type you tend to be a little pessimistic, you can make it work in your favour. This is especially true when it comes to wanting to change. You’re so good at imagining what your life would be like if you stay where you are and being fearful of stagnation, that you work hard to make the necessary changes.

    The most important thing about understanding your motivation style is to use your style to its best effect. Once you do that, you open yourself up to growing both professionally and personally. Feeling motivated?


  9. LinkedIn Study Reveals the Skills Employers (Really) Want

    April 7, 2015 by Jenna

    What do you tell an employer when they ask you what your strengths are? Do you provide them with leadership examples from previous roles, outline key skills or educational achievements that could be valuable for the role? Do you know what skills the employer is looking for to fulfill the role?

    A recent study by LinkedIn reveals that when it comes to interviewing and hiring early-career professionals, employers aren’t just considering education, experience and job skills. They are also looking for specific soft skills and personality traits — and how these characteristics rank may surprise you.

    LinkedIn defines early-career professionals as those with zero to three years’ experience. Understanding these skill sets will give you a better indication of how you can be considered in today’s job market.

    Specific skills
    The two most important skills employers look for are problem-solving skills (65 percent) — defined as the ability to see and create solutions when faced with challenges — and being a good learner (64 percent) by learning new concepts quickly and being adaptable in new situations.

    Employers also look for candidates who have strong analytical skills: 46 percent of the employers surveyed said early-career hires need to be able to use logical reasoning.

    Communication skills are essential. The ability to clearly communicate ideas while speaking plays a much more important role than doing so in writing, however. The study revealed that 45 percent of employers want to hire people with strong oral communication skills, whereas only 22 percent consider strong written communication skills to be crucial.

    Furthermore, creativity, the ability to think outside the box (21 percent), and being tech-savvy (16 percent) are also pluses for employers.

    Personality traits
    The most important personality trait employers look for in early-career professionals is the ability to collaborate. Fifty-five percent of employers put a premium on the ability to work well with others. A close runner-up was the ability to work hard, with 52 percent of employers preferring candidates who have strong work ethics and go above and beyond.

    Having a positive attitude also goes a long way for 45 percent of employers, while 31 percent said being passionate by demonstrating enthusiasm for their work and the business’s values is also important.

    Additionally, employers look for candidates who are organised (twenty nine percent) and resilient (twenty one percent).

    Role-based skills
    The types of skills employers are looking for also depends highly on the position and industry they work in. LinkedIn’s study found that hiring managers look for these specific skill sets when interviewing and hiring for sales, marketing and consulting roles:

    For sales roles: Candidates should possess strong oral communication skills and a good attitude that shows optimism and maintains positive energy.
    For marketing/PR roles: Creativity, passion and strong written communication skills are key to a great hire.
    For consulting roles: Employers look for candidates with strong analytical and written communication skills.

    Hiring managers, do you agree with the above statistics? What other skills sets are important to you when it comes to the ideal employee for your office team?


  10. Making your LinkedIn Profile Attractive to Employers

    February 10, 2015 by Jenna

    These days having a LinkedIn profile in the corporate world is almost a necessity. While Facebook and Twitter share your personal thoughts and opinions, LinkedIn will make you shine as a professional if you utilise it correctly.

    It’s an opportunity to share you’re employment history, qualifications/achievements. Effectively, it’s your digital resume. Your LinkedIn profile is available to a huge variety of employers. People are often head-hunted even when they aren’t looking for employment.

    However, if you are not using your profile to its potential, you could be missing out on opportunities without even realising it.
    An article by Emmanuel Banks posted on Lifehack shares simple steps to making your LinkedIn profile more attractive to employers:

    Treat It Like an Interview
    First impressions are quite important during an interview and so is your presentation. The same applies when formatting your online layout and choosing an appropriate profile picture.

    You want to create a positive and professional image so choose a profile picture that reflects you in a professional way. If it looks like you are on an all-night party bender, or modelling a bikini while on your latest holiday, you may be deterring employers straight away. This also applies to a poorly presented or poorly written ‘Summary’ or ‘Employment History’. If you are not taking the time to proofread or update your personal details, qualifications or skill, you could be automatically viewed as sloppy. If you are making LinkedIn connections with business professionals for the first time and they have potential to help you get your foot in the door, make sure you are advertising yourself to your best ability.

    Stay Connected
    The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect and network.

    Requesting a contact to connect allows you to provide a tailored introduction to the person and explain why you feel it is important to connect with them. You can then follow up with contacts on a to keep them up to date on your career. There are also groups for members within your industry where you can be kept up-to-date regarding networking events, news topics and discussions.

    It also shows your passion and genuine interest in the industry to keep connecting with others and participating in as many groups and interactions as you can. It maintains relationships with past and present contacts.

    Have Your Experience Vouched
    Your background and experience can appear even more attractive to an employer when they see that other professionals have verified your experience or expertise.

    Employers may be looking for a select set of skills for a potential role and it can prove advantageous when others verify your experience or even provide recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask past employers’ if they would mind verifying details or providing a recommendation.

    Keep Profile Up to Date
    It is time consuming for an employer to chase up information that isn’t included on your online profile. Important information can include; a good description of your current position, start and finish dates of your previous appointments, reference details or educational achievements.

    Even if you are not looking for a new role, it is important to keep your information up to date just in case you situation changes. This will also save you time if you do decide to look for work elsewhere in the future.

    What do you highlight on your LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out?




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