Network like a Pro

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Networking is daunting, for sure, especially the first time you go solo. Whether you’ve been roped in to attend an event on behalf of work, been coerced by a friend, want to meet new people or need to build your connections, it does get easier the more practise you have. You don’t have to attend a ‘networking event’ as such, to network, establish connections and land yourself a dream job. From merely chatting to the girl sat next to you at the nail bar, on a night out or within a work situation, there are so many benefits of networking.

It has certainly helped push me out of my comfort zone, helped improve my small talk, presentation skills and increased my confidence. Big glasses of wine also make networking events much more bearable!

Here’s how to master the art of small talk, business card swapping and networking like a pro…

Business cards & LinkedIn

Bring your business cards with you and have LinkedIn at the ready. When swapping business cards with connections you’ve made, remember that quality is better than quantity. Take the extra effort to touch base after the event with a quite note to show your enthusiasm and gratitude. By remembering to connect and message your newly made contact in a friendly and professional manner could lead to you landing your dream job!

Maximise your time

Aim to arrive at the event early, allowing time to quickly freshen up and regain composure. Stay till the end too, if you can. This is a great way to mingle with guests while it’s not too busy and to introduce yourself and chat to the hosts and staff. Don’t stick with the first person you meet, and don’t feel bad about moving to another person or group. It’s important to meet as many people as possible, so make sure you work the room, after politely excusing yourself. If you know in advance who is attending, you can research and prioritise speaking to them.

Start the conversation

Most people don’t enjoy networking events. Many individuals will be nervous, just like you. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there by saying hello to everyone, initiating conversations and being bold enough to join in with groups of people. If you are shy, speak to the organisers who can introduce you to people who are similar to you, or position yourself near the bar/food so that people can come to you.

Confidence

Be confident in yourself. Smile, have a good firm handshake and be comfortable talking about yourself, your job, inspirations and aspirations. Also, be inquisitive about the people you meet, open minded and listen to their stories. Everyone you meet should serve to educate, motivate, challenge and surprise you. You can learn something from everyday encounters with people. Today, whilst volunteering, I heard an incredible story by a lovely lady who was recently held at knife point in her own home, by an intruder and how she coped. It’s so easy these days to stare at your phone and pretend there’s something more interesting, in situations such as networking. However, by putting your phone away, opening up yourself to the people around you and taking the time to listen, appreciate and be emphatic – wonderful energy can be created.

I have attended countless blogging events, networking events and have attended events or occasions solo. I often find it’s better going solo as sometimes, bringing a friend can limit you. Take the leap and challenge yourself to attend some events solo. Attending blogging events have made me meet incredible friends, travelling solo has seriously improved my confidence and attending a networking event landed me an interview!

I hope you enjoyed reading,

Love Career Girl

xo

Redundancy Warning Signs

pexels-photo-346740It’s been over two years since I was made redundant. A lot has changed since then and I’m now working in a sector which I absolutely love. At the time however, it was not a pleasant period. I was at my lowest, already feeling miserable as I was constantly failing my driving test. My gut was telling me at the time that something wasn’t right, but I kept convincing myself of other things. I remember it was a normal working day when I was told in the morning that I was to be made redundant and it’s a strange mix of emotions.

Hearing those words, I just couldn’t face carrying on at work. The news hit me smack in the face. I instantly felt emotionally drained. I had to force myself to contain the tears at work and later, as I was on public transport, until I arrived to the safety of my home where I just cried, and cried, and cried.

After a day of wallowing in my sorrow (not a massive fan of showing my emotions, I prefer to bottle things up!) I decided to re-think a lot of my goals, follow my dreams and bounce back. A week later, with a few interviews lined up, I felt a lot more myself. Eventually I built up my confidence, but losing your job is a frighting experience.

How can you spot the signs and move on before it’s too late? Based on my experience, here’s some warning signs and red flags….

The company is making a loss

If the company is making a severe loss or is in a significant amount of debt, then it;s inevitable that your boss will want to make cost savings and re-adjust budgets. This could be instigating a hiring freeze, stagnating wages, postponing company perks, the list goes on.

Promises aren’t kept

I was promised training and on the job experience, a new laptop, and a pay rise for hard work, all in exchange for an initial low wage. What I received instead was lies, non of the above, and having to lug my laptop to and from work. It’s heart-breaking when you are so eager to learn and work and your dreams are crushed by the reality of a broken promise.

No contract

This is a huge warning sign. Never receiving a signed contract from either party isn’t best practise and doesn’t assure job security. No signed contract shows the company has no commitment to you and can get rid of you at the drop of a hat.

No real job title or job function

I was increasingly being left to fend for myself in the office, even within my first month. It was soul destroying not being given enough work to do. The cognitive dissonance experienced of having a fancy job title which isn’t reflective of your actual day to day activities and responsibilities is frustrating. In this instance I was clearly hired for a role which didn’t really exist, nor was there the scope of work to conduct, especially considering the lack of investment in training and support received. If you are often left alone in the office and spend most afternoons twiddling your thumbs, there’s no place for you.

Reduced contact time with your boss

All these points could be due to other factors, but rarely are, and should be addressed or resolved with your boss. If your boss is acting shady, being elusive and non-committal, it’s time to update you credentials and start job hunting.

With reflection, this was possibly one of the best things that could have happened to me. It allowed me to gain knowledge and experience, re-focus on cementing a career in marketing and I used the redundancy money to pay for a course which further added to my skill set. It was a blessing in disguise, especially when you power on with a positive outlook despite the negative experience.

Have you lost your job? How did you cope and bounce back?

I would love to hear your experience in the comments,

Love Career Giril

What you should consider in your career

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I recently conducted a poll on my Twitter, not the best sample size but interesting non the less, so thank you to all my followers who participated. It’s fascinating to see the results on what people prioritise when job hunting or deciding if a job is beneficial.

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It’s important to follow your heart, but listen to your head too. Your friends may think money is paramount in a new job or career, yet, you may value having a great boss as being just as important. Based on my experiences I like to look at the big picture and see what would benefit me now, and in 5 years time…

Money

Money is incredibly important and unfortunately, it kinda does make the world go around.

It’s important to know your market value. Cost and worth are very different things. All managers and boards want a return on investment, spending the least possible on a new hire. Therefore, if you offer your services too low, it can be harder to get a raise later. When you go job-hunting, it’s vital to do your research on the average salary your role usually pays. Look at the likes of Glassdoor and ask around, as this will establish where you are in terms of salary expectations. Pay can fluctuate based on a multitude of scenarios, such as, location, size of company and other work benefits.

Many people become blind-sighted by London or other cities as they pay more, but fail to realise that the cost of living often increases too! Sometimes roles outside of the bigger cities in reality pay more, with higher chances of better career progression. Always weigh your options against your prioritises now and in the future. Be careful not to sell yourself too short by accepting a salary lower than the going rate, just because you are desperate to be hired. But, go easy on demanding 30k before you’ve walked into the interview, as this can deter employers from hiring you. If you are already in a role, this research and knowledge can help you in negotiating a promotion or raise.

Your Boss

“When analysing the monster, be sure not to become the monster. And, when looking into the abyss, the abyss looks back at you”

I read this quote in “Talking with Psychopaths” by Christopher Berry Dee, but relevant here also. When your future boss interviews you, you should also interview them. You’re going to be working for them for approx. 8 hours everyday. Ask questions, query their intentions, seek their knowledge, insight and grill them. Find out what makes them tick, their goals and expectations of you now and in 6 months time. Find out how they treat their existing staff too, as this speaks volumes.

You must determine if they want to coach you or boss and work you to the bone. Will they mentor and develop you, treat you as an equal, or a piece of shit on the bottom of their shoe. A boss should value you, push you, help you, support you and train you. If they don’t? Leave.

Company Culture

This essentially covers the values, attitudes, support network, ethos and mantra of a company as a whole. It’s often insidious and hard to pin down, but can seriously take a toll on well-being and health. Is there a blame-culture? Do people socialise outside of office hours, collaborate, praise and support one another? Or or they back-stabbing and bitchy?

The list can go on but depending on the boss’s management style, training practises and overall attitude, it can often lead to high staff turnover. Being thrown in at the deep end instead of being properly trained, lack of career progression and no support network can be checked by observing how content the existing staff are. How can you spot this? By asking what their take on holidays, days off and dealing with staff complaints is. What training and career progression opportunities are on offer, to name but a few. But it’s usually a gut feeling more than anything.

Career Progression

It’s great if you can hit the ground running on your first day, but it can be a challenging and stressful period starting a new job. Nerves can play havoc, so it’s essential to have a support network, the opportunity to learn and grow at your own pace and to be able to make mistakes and learn from them. If you are expected to do a job that is outside of your remittance, don’t be afraid to ask for help, training or to go on a course to improve your knowledge and experience. If you are over-worked or dying to take on more work and responsibility, only you can voice it. Push for improvement and appraisals to see what areas you need to develop. Not investing in you, can in the long run be extremely costly for the company. Not promoting you and keeping you in the same role isn’t beneficial to you, your boss or the company either.

Often, the reason people leave a job or career is because of the same old line, feeling overworked and undervalued.

What do you think is most important? I’ve love to hear in the comments below…

Love Career Girl

 

Personal Branding

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You know what the greatest brand in the world is?! That’s right… YOU!!

Graduate, job seeker, or industry expert going through a career change, although there may be a multitude of jobs out there, it’s not always easy to land that dream job. As some of you know, I graduated class of 2015, yet since then, I have been trying to forge a career. I find the whole process of job hunting possibly the most frustrating! Specifically, applying for roles online and having to almost write your whole life story, how much of a superstar you are and how amazing you’d be at the role; to then receive an automated thank you email super disheartening. Not cool.

Reject Online Job Hunting

I am not a fan of time consuming job applications and screening processes that are often used today. I think there is a massive over reliance on technology. Okay I digress. Back to personal branding!

Job hunting is hard but if you attack at all angles, you will have a much better success rate. Apply for jobs. Send emails. Network. Optimise your Linkedin & Google yourself. Competition is fierce and especially with social media and word of mouth, why not market yourself?!

Invest in Yourself

You may have the best qualifications, experience and be super likeable, but so are many other people. Which is why it’s so important to play to your strengths and use whatever skill or asset you have to your advantage. Good at Art or Photography? Create a portfolio. Great at Graphics? Build your own website. Love writing? Start a blog. You get the picture. Think of yourself as any other brand and project yourself in the best light possible. Now more than ever your online presence matters. Employers can and often will Google you and your social media profiles. If you want to keep social media private, double check all of your privacy settings to ensure there are no incriminating or embarrassing photos etc. Otherwise, link all your social media profiles together and cross promote.

Your next job might be a tweet away!

Take the plunge and go to networking events and collect business cards. Better yet, create your own personalised business cards, as it’s so much more professional to hand out a card. It can demonstrate to others that you take initiative, are organised and self-motivated. Stand out and you’ll be remembered.

It’s important to be authentic and passionate – do you! You’re great and no one can be you. We are all different with various skills and life experiences and that is why building your personal brand is essential.

So, what are you waiting for…. Go out and create your brand!

Disclaimer. I am by no means a career coach or guru, but want to inspire myself and others to take charge in their job hunting. To not be complacent and to actively go after what you want. I have been inspired by many successful woman who have created a brand around themselves! We got this! #GirlBoss

If you are job hunting I hope this is helpful, and if you have any tips, tricks or advice I would love to hear! Do you think you will start your personal brand?!

Good luck,

Love Career Girl

xo

Optimize Linkedin to Your Advantage!

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Linkedin is yet another method of job hunting online.  However, done well, it is so much more. It’s a great place to network with Industry leaders and connect with inspirational people, receive the latest industry insight and voice your opinion; take it a step further and you can showcase your writing skills by publishing articles on a given topic. More importantly, you can advertise the best brand ever…. YOU!

Think of Linkedin as an online CV which you can really have fun with. It should contain everything that’s on your CV, and then some. This is a place where you can let loose to an extent. Don’t be afraid to describe your career, life journey, hobbies, passions and your goals for the future!

Do – Upload a clear, professional photo. First and foremost, this is a job-site where future employers are scrutinising your online presence. So no Bikini selfies or pictures of your drunken antics etc. Think head and shoulders shot in smart attire and if you can spare the cash invest in a professional headshot.

Don’t – Be afraid to ‘connect’ with people you don’t know as such. That fancy hiring manager? Connect! It is a great way of getting that person to view your profile, at the very least! If they don’t want to connect it doesn’t matter, but chances are they will accept. No spamming though. Quality connections over quantity.

Don’t – Instantly send an inmail asking for a job to that hiring manager… From personal experience it’s better to build rapport rather than go in for the kill. The point of having recruiters/hiring managers as connections means you will hear of job openings a lot faster.

Do – Buy Linkedin premium, if you can afford it! This means you can see who has viewed your profile (and profile views are paramount by the way!) and if you are applying for a role, you can see how your skills and experience compare with other applicants. It also bumps you up the list of applicants, portraying you as a ‘featured applicant’, increasing your chances of being viewed & remembered.  Plus, depending on the upgrade, you can inmail tough to reach individuals.  Otherwise, take advantage of the month free trial of Linkedin premium.

Do – Proofread. Just like you would a CV. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar will turn a great profile into a mediocre one!

Do – Update your title. If you are unemployed, don’t be shy! Write that you are looking for a particular role or work experience!

Do – Write a blurb about yourself but keep to the point. This should include a short summary about yourself, including aspects from the past, present and future. Discuss qualifications or experience, what you are doing/hoping to do and what your career goals are.  Make it as catchy as possible. Avoid writing in the third person and stating over used phrases like, ‘I work well independently and within a team’. What is YOUR personal unique selling point?!

Don’t – Use Linkedin as you would Facebook! Got wasted last night? Hooked up with some guy last night? Facebook may care but Linkedin certainly won’t. Keep it professional and informative. Talk about the latest news or innovation within a certain industry. The pitfalls of e-commerce or the advantages of virtual reality.

Do – Cross promote! Link all your social media together, unless you want to keep professional and personal social media sites separate.

Do – Google yourself to see how you may be perceived by a future boss! Clean up your social media presence! Don’t let an embarrassing photo ruin your chances of getting your dream job!

Do – Add your accomplishments, certificates and examples of your work, whether it’s a website, best essay, blog or even upload your CV.

Do – Use Linkedin to prep yourself before an interview. If you know the hiring manager or interviewer, research them! See blog post ‘Ace The Interview!’

Do – State your best qualities, abilities, talents and experience. At the bottom of your Linkedin profile you’ll find endorsements. Good at researching? State it. Endorse others on their skills and you will most likely be endorsed too – just don’t badger people! In addition, write recommendations. Helping others will help yourself!

I hope this helps!

Good Luck

Love Career Girl

xo

Staying Motivated & Positive Throughout the Job Search

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Don’t you just hate it when your parents & friends constantly enquire about the status of your job hunt?! “Have you had any interviews, how’s the job hunt going, got the job of your dreams yet?”

I’ve been there and it’s frustrating as hell. Gone are the days when you could just walk into a job and be set for life. Today, you’re battling with millions of other just as good, if not better graduates, combined with (pointless) online applications & selection criteria; in addition to horribly stressful interviews.

Psychometric tests & situational tests… for what?

I remember in my quest last year to get a job, I applied to work at a well know supermarket chain (so glad I didn’t progress!) Cue personality tests & situation tests, passing this a phone then a group interview. All to work for a little bit above minimum wage, essentially stacking shelves. Crazy in my opinion. There is no way you can gauge whether someone is fit for the role, intelligent or even passionate for the job if this is what you have to endure to get to the final face-to-face interview. I also read somewhere that CV’s are gone through a screening process (applicant tracking system) & often discarded way before a human has even seen them! Certain tag lines within your CV are scanned to filter them out. So take it with a pinch of salt if you apply online & never hear back.

Months and months of searching, applying & being constantly rejected can seriously take its toll. I have shed many a tear of frustration. I found it incredibly depressing, stressful and hard to stay upbeat & motivated!

So this is what I did…

Get a job, even if it isn’t your dream job.

Hey, it’s all experience and you never know, network and you could achieve the job of your dreams. It is much easier and less stressful to look for a job if you already have a job. Having an income is great and it gives you a hell of a lot more to talk about in your interview.

Network like there is no tomorrow

You never know who might be hiring so it’s always worth striking up a conversion, even with a stranger. Many companies and hiring managers do advertise; but a staggering 95% of jobs* are never advertised!!!

Dream Job Lists

Write down a list of company’s you want to work for or roles that you see yourself doing. Write some job goals, things you want to get out of that job, whether it is to save money or career progression. I desire a job where I’m always learning & constantly being challenged. Focusing on what you want will help drive you in the right direction. Trust your instinct and do a job that feels right for YOU!

Also, Linkedin is a great way to learn about jobs. It also has a great feature where you can instantly apply for a job, complete with your CV & Linkedin profile. Once you get Linkedin and know how to use it to your advantage, you’ll be fine.

Attend Interviews

It sounds insane & a waste of time… but hear me out! If you are offered an interview for a role – even if it’s a job you’re not interested in, GO FOR IT. If you can afford it, I highly recommend attending as many interviews as possible because gaining experience in a variety of interview settings will prepare you for so much!

Job hunting is stressful & tiring so don’t forget to treat yourself! Go out with friends & have fun. If you have a job, jam pack your days off with things you want to do.

*This stat is based on my own knowledge & experience!

Good Luck!

CareerGirl Xo

Overqualified & Inexperienced… What I’ve Learnt

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So I graduated class of 2015 and it was great. What wasn’t so great were the months and months after graduation when I was job hunting. I really do think our generation has it the worst. I naively thought graduating with a BSc Psychology 2:1 would ensure I would achieve the job of my dreams almost instantly, given my past job hunt and interview success rate.

Oh how wrong was I!

In fact, what most people don’t know or realise is just how depressing the job hunt can be! Honestly, I felt so unbelievably low, spending ages and ages writing pages and pages of ‘Why I should be Hired’ blurbs and cover letters, for what? Only them to be sent through the black-hole of the internet. To receive an automated, undesirable ‘Thank You’, don’t call us we’ll call you. Oh, and you’re lucky to get that!

Over Qualified & Inexperienced

It is so disheartening job hunting online. I did as every other graduate seems to do, I applied directly to companies and signed up to the likes of Milkround and Reed. Word of advice? Don’t bother, save your time and energy as it’s so saturated! I wish someone had told me that!

After a while I did have a few job interviews, all really good experience from group interviews, panel interviews and psychometric testing but unfortunately was pipped to the post due to being ‘over qualified or for lack of experience’ – If I had a pound for every-time I heard that….

Rejection, Rejection & More Rejection!

Anyway, being constantly rejected based on something you really can’t help is possibly the most frustrating thing ever. Nearly reaching the end of my tether and working in a dead end job I decided I drastically needed to do something… anything. Eventually, I decided to sort out my Linkedin as other people were getting into it and I thought hey, what the hell.

Surprisingly, I have had quite a few job offers through Linkedin and I would definitely recommend it!

Let me know in the comments your experiences tips and tricks to securing the job of your dreams!

Good luck job hunting!

 

Love Career Girl xo