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  1. 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?


  2. If It’s Time To Resign – Do It Right

    September 23, 2014 by Jenna

    If you have decided it is time to leave a company and move on, I tend to find that one of the two reactions can occur:

    A) You are so excited to get out the door that organising a proper handover and process is the last thing on your mind or

    B) You don’t know the best way to approach management about it and are worried about the outcome.

    It can always be difficult to leave a company especially if you are mindful of the value of keeping the relationship on good terms when you leave. If you have been with the organisation for some time, you don’t want to throw away years of good experience by creating a bad reference do you?

    So while doing research on the topic, I found seven tips on potentially damaging avenues to avoid when you resign:

    1. Don’t Quit Unexpectedly and Without Notice

    Even if you’ve reached your wits’ end in your current position, quitting without warning just isn’t acceptable. The standard practice for resigning involves giving notice (the amount of time will be subject to your role and what your contract outlines) — failing to do so could result in a bridge being burned. It’s true that a trail of respect often follows you from job to job and word can get out within your industry about how you handled your resignation.

    2. Don’t Forget to Weigh Your Options

    Many individuals find that leaving a job they’re unhappy in for a new opportunity wasn’t necessarily the answer to their problems (as outlined in my previous blog). Before you decide to quit, assess your situation and look for way to improve it — don’t be afraid to approach your manager with a potential plan.

    3. Don’t Forget to Put It in Writing

    Simply telling your manager that you are quitting just won’t cut it. Write a formal resignation letter and set up a meeting with your manager. There are many scenarios for resigning, and putting it in writing will act as a professional and respectful way to express your terms.

    4. Don’t Forget to Ask for an Exit Interview

    Many companies require every employee participate in an exit interview prior to leaving. If your company doesn’t require this, it’s still a good idea attempt to set one up. This is your chance to be respectfully honest about your experience with the company — good or bad. Your answers to a variety of questions could help benefit current and future staff.

    5. Don’t Disregard Asking for a Reference

    Never quit without asking your boss and colleagues if they would be interested in acting as a reference for you in the future. Don’t miss out on the chance to use someone who truly knows about your qualifications — especially if you’ve worked with them for a long time. Be sure to gather their information, stay in touch at least every quarter, and contact them when you actually give their name to a company during the hiring process.

    6. Don’t Spread Gossip

    There can certainly be a lot of negativity involved with quitting, but do your best to ensure that all of your conversations about moving on are positive. Never brag about your new job, talk poorly about management, or express anything less than a positive outlook. Gossip moves fast in a work environment, and you wouldn’t want anyone to lose respect for you.

    7. Don’t Forget to Tie Up Loose Ends

    Quitting your job isn’t always a smooth transition, but there are many things that you can do to avoid a burned bridge. Stray from these mistakes to ensure a professional resignation that leaves you with strong references. Follow a proper handover process, let you clients/customers know that you are leaving, and avoid leaving anything unfinished or avoid delegating tasks to someone else after you leave.

    Have you resigned within the past five years? What steps did you follow to ensure a smoother transition?


  3. What new skills are you going to learn this year?

    March 12, 2013 by Jenna

    “Every two days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003” so said then CEO of Google Eric Schmidt in 2010 – are you keeping up?

    As Challenge Consulting’s coordinator of all things social media, I constantly have to absorb new information and update my skills. From learning new ways to format the website, to taking a course to learn a new system or program, I personally find that the more I am learning, the more confidence I have in taking on even more new challenges in my role.

    Regardless of whether you are currently in a senior management position or just entering your profession, we each have responsibility to grow our skills to keep ahead of the game. There are a few key benefits to developing and learning new skills:

    Increased knowledge – for a long time when talking about the economy – you had two answers – either it was up or it was down. Now we are working in a multi-speed economy, what is up today could be down tomorrow. Do you have the knowledge you need to make informed decisions in your next career step?

    Improved performance – a learning mindset can increase your productivity and performance. You can learn how to work smarter, so rather than overloading yourself, you can increase your own personal effectiveness, which is good for you and good for your employer.

    Stronger network – learn the skills you need to build relationships, which will allow you to build a broader network that you can tap into to help you succeed in your career.

    Promotability -If you are wanting to move up within your organisation, increased skills can help you to reach that promotion you have been looking for

    Adaptability – If you are in a more senior level new skills can help you adapt easier to the changes within your industry – the longer you wait to learn new skills and qualifications, the harder it will be to catch up.

    However, if you look at learning the same way you look at going to the dentist, than chances are you will avoid it and not take advantage of formal learning opportunities that come your way.

    Remember that with any new skill it takes time for that skill to be developed, and time to master it.   There are some very simple and effective ways to keep your skills growing:

    On the job training – Never be afraid to ask, after all, your manager will probably appreciate your initiative to want to learn new things

    Keep up-to-date by reading daily – with newspapers readily available, not to mention LinkedIn news, industry magazines, blogs and various other social media content, there are so many ways to source news and information almost instantly.

    Attend conferences, networking or workshops – by having mentors and experts within your industry providing you with the best methods on how to be the best that you can be within your industry. Not only that but you can share your views, questions and experiences with other like-minded individuals and establish closer connections.

    Challenge yourself – You would be amazed at how many new skills can be self-taught. Sometimes it can just be a matter of challenging your brain daily with quizzes and crosswords to keep yourself more alert in the daily commute to work. If a new challenge presents itself, offer to be that person to take on the task, as sometimes we don’t even know we have skills in a particular area until we actually delve into it.

    What new skills are you going to learn this year?


  4. The Candidate Follow Up Call When Applying For A Job: Advantage or Annoyance?

    March 20, 2012 by Jenna

    The job market is a competitive one when it comes to setting yourself ahead of those applicants who are all applying for that ‘perfect job’ at the same time. So how do we set ourselves ahead of the rest? How do we make ourselves more than just a piece of paper?

    If you are passionate about a position of course you are going to want to pick up the phone and make that call. This will establish a more personable approach, to allow the employer to identify with not only your qualifications but your personality and communication skills. Often this will open up the opportunity to meet face to face for the interview process.

    On the other hand, when is the follow up call a disadvantage? This was something that I wanted to gain perspective on from other organisations out there who may know what I am referring to. While some candidates believe that the follow up call(s) improves their chances, it can often be causing the opposite effect, if it isn’t being utilised properly.

    I will give you an example. We had recently advertised a position online and were receiving a high number of applications for the role. A potential candidate contacted our office requesting to speak to a consultant as they wanted to meet in person to discuss the role and take part in an interview. Great initiative and confidence right?

    I asked the candidate if they had applied online for the role or provided our company with any details about themselves or a CV with their experience/qualifications. The candidate had not done so, however, they wanted to hand over the CV in person to the consultant when they came in to have an interview.

    When working in recruitment, we need to show our clients the details of the potential candidates and review the applications before shortlisting for the interview process. We then need to schedule an appropriate appointment once the shortlist had been reviewed and after the interview takes place, to provide feedback to our clients to then look into conducting a second interview with the client directly.

    When I explained to the ‘potential candidate’ that we would first require their information and would then be in touch once reviewing the applications for this position, the candidate would simply not accept my recommendation to submit the details and asked to speak to a consultant directly. I obliged and put them through to the consultant, to which the same information was repeated to the candidate that I had requested…

    I’m not saying that all candidates react this way when a position is advertised, but for this particular candidate behaving in a pushy to almost demanding approach in applying for the job, and their inability to take instruction when I was trying to guide them into the right direction did not make them a top choice to recommend to the client in my eyes. Would you agree? Especially when two people in the office had to explain the application process before the interview could even take place!

    Another disadvantage I often experience with candidate calls is this – Venting frustration over the phone if you have not received a personal phone call confirming if you are accepted/declined for the interview process – While I understand that this can be a slow process at times, it is important to consider that there may be over 300 applications coming in for the same role, and contacting each candidate personally can be even more time consuming if not impossible for the recruiter to complete. I think one of the worst mistakes is to take it personally (especially getting upset over the phone at your potential recruiter) because again, having a bad temper doesn’t often make a stand-out candidate… in a good way.

    While conducting some research on this topic, a website called www.theladders.com outlines the following: ‘If the job posting doesn’t provide a clear closing date, HR experts and career coaches generally agree that one week after applying is an appropriate amount of time to wait before you follow up… don’t ask why you haven’t been called yet. Instead, keep the tone of the conversation or email light and friendly, and, if you can, slip in a few questions and have a bit of a conversation if it seems appropriate.’

    Another website I reviewed called www.jobsearch.about.com had the following four tips below on the follow up process after an interview:

    1. First, you want to get the business card from the person you interviewed with. The best way to get it is ask the interviewer before you leave. On most cards will be the three things you want.

    1) The correctly spelled name and title. 2) The street address. 3) The interviewer’s email address.

    2. Second, you send him/her a thank you email for the interview that very evening so it’s waiting for them when the recruiter gets to work the next morning.

    3. Third, you make a follow-up phone call to the interviewer on the fifth day after the interview. Let them know of your continued interest in the job and ask if there is any further information they needs from you. If the person who interviewed you is not available when you call, leave that basic message on their voice mail.

    4. Fourth, you send a snail mail letter to them ASAP. I call this the “reverse cover letter.” It basically expresses your interest in the job and summarises some of your strongest points as they relate to the job. About now many interviewers are thinking, “Wow, if this is the professional manner this applicant works this is the kind of person we want.” From that point on, just once a week, you politely alternate between phone, email and snail mail until she says you got the job or someone else got the job.

    The responses from our poll respondents seem to reflect that the follow up call can often encompass both advantages and annoyances and can be summarised as this:

    Advantage:

    • You can set yourself apart & make yourself memorable by making the follow up call, however, make sure you have you have some basic questions applicable to the role so the calls’ purpose isn’t just to introduce yourself but to also show interest and initiative with legitimate questions
    • Having personal contact is a definite advantage but they (the candidate) should always be pleasant about it and not be too pushy
    • I think if handled professionally, potential candidates (with specified qualifications) have an opportunity to make a solid first impression as long as they are respectful of the recruiter’s time.

    Annoyance:

    • The candidate should not appear desperate and call multiple times
    • If they call without the appropriate qualifications for the job
    • Don’t stalk your recruiter, especially if they say they will call back. They may not be a person that likes follow up calls, so pushing will only make you appear difficult

    I hope this provides a little more perspective to the applicants who are out there and are currently looking for employment, and if you haven’t had your say, please make a comment below or you can participate in this week’s poll: What qualities do YOU think represent a remarkable boss?


  5. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Being a Temp

    June 8, 2011 by Jenna

    This week’s Online Poll Results: “What is the main reason you are a temporary worker?” 

    • Temp work is what I am doing until the right permanent job comes along – 48%
    • Temp work offers the flexibility that suits my lifestyle – 26%
    • Temp work enables me to develop my skills base – 9%
    • Temp work exposes me to a range of industries – 9%
    • Temp work is all I can do due to visa restrictions – 9%

     ______________________________

    First, my heartfelt thanks go out to the wonderful Challenge Consulting temps who took the time to contribute their experiences and insights to this blog post! 

    Overall, it seems that being a temp is a mixed bag of experiences, good and bad. 

    Whilst the results of last week’s online poll (above) clearly demonstrate that the majority of respondents are temping until the right permanent role comes their way, this is obviously influenced by whether or not the respondent is a permanent Australian resident or a traveller on a working holiday visa. 

    The traveller temps who provided me with their feedback via email were overwhelmingly positive about their temping experiences. One responded with the following comments: 

    “The advantages to me of being a temp are:

    1. I have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries and ‘try them out’ before I return home – this will allow me to make a much more informed career direction decision.

    2. Most of the time, I have been able to pick and choose the location of my temp assignments which is great in terms of travel time and cost.

    3. I meet lots of new people all the time, which makes being a stranger in a new city much easier!”

    It was interesting to learn about the experiences of temps who are not travellers, who choose temp work as a way of developing their skills base and widen their exposure to different organisations and industries before steering their career along a particular path or, even more interestingly, because the notion of committing to one position or one industry for the duration of their career is ‘daunting’: 

    “I love being a temp as I feel as though it combines a sense of security with a degree of flexibility. I personally feel as though it would be daunting to remain in one position my whole life without experiencing other employment fields. The most exciting thing about being a temp is that I am currently working in a field which is completely unrelated to what I am studying at university. It is a career choice that I have considered in the past but have not had the opportunity to explore until I attained this position. At such a young age, I already feel as though this temp position has exposed me to a whole new world and I can say with confidence that it has been an experience which has provided me with knowledge that I hope to retain for the remainder of my working life.”

    Another temp responded from a slightly different perspective. Having had wonderful experiences temping in England, she has returned to Australia and is still temping … 

    “I started temping because I wanted to live overseas for a while. I was temping in England and had a great time. The rules of temping are very different over there! You can get paid for days off (up to 20 days per year when I was there – this has since increased to 30 days per year). This started to cover public holidays, but expanded to cover planned time off. 

    I did not plan to temp on my return to Australia, but unfortunately this has been the only work available to me. My experience and qualifications do not seem to be recognised and so temping here has become a frustrating experience. I am getting roles not relevant to my skills and knowledge, for example, I am being offered reception roles when I have the qualifications and experience to do PA work. This has only led to the inability to secure a permanent role in the area I would like as I now have no “current” experience as a PA. So, from my experience, temping overseas was a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience!” 

    There are always, however, practical considerations, too, when it comes to being a temp and choosing which assignments to do. In fact, it’s not always a matter of choice, but necessity: 

    “Due to the restrictions of the visa, it’s hard to find a 6 month contract by myself, so temping with an agency ensures I have some money coming in – I have regular bills to pay, so need a regular income!” Another commented: “Temping through a reputable agency means you get paid on time and you can ask advice from your recruiter regarding tax forms, superannuation, etc at the end of employment.” 

    And it’s not all fun and games being a temp! Several temps referred to the uncertainty of never knowing if you will have work from one week to the next, as well as not being paid for sick leave or holidays, which can eat significantly into savings and create extra pressure to work even when you’re feeling desperately unwell. 

    One temp also expressed her frustration with the lack of response from some recruitment agencies: “no matter how many times you call and remind them you’re there, you are never contacted for jobs. It’s also hard to make yourself ‘stand out’ sometimes. You want to make a good impression to ensure you are called often for work but you can feel like ‘just another number’ at times … this has a lot to do with the size of the agency, though, and they relationship you are able to develop (or not!) with your recruiter.”

    And, of course, people being people, being a temp means you often get thrust into bizarre places and situations you would not normally have exposure to: 

    “Working for a counselling not-for-profit organisation on the reception meant I had some over-flow calls and I would often get people thinking I was a counsellor. They’d often go into their life stories and share particular detail on their health problems, some of which were pretty gruesome. This was a weird daily occurrence I could have done without!”

    Still, it’s all “character building” as they say …




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