Category Archives: linkedin

Get Happy with your Job

The University of Alberta gave out some honourary degrees last week and Bob McDonald, the host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks was one of the recipients.  He was recognized for is efforts to bring scientific information and discoveries to communities across Canada and around the world.  Anyone who has listed to his show even once, has come away smarter.

Here is what he said in his acceptance speech “Figure out what you want to do and look for opportunities that point you in that direction.  You’ll be amazed where you end up.”  Every graduate and everyone in a career crisis could use this as a framework to figure out what’s next.

Figuring out what you like can be kind of difficult if you have been in a “hamster wheel” kind of job for a while.  If you are feeling down and out about your work, it can be hard to identify what you like.  It can feel like the whole thing is trash.

Try taking a walk or meditating or some other activity that does not require concentration. Let you mind wander to the last time you laughed at work.  What were you doing and who were you with?  Did it happen again?  Where you with colleagues, customers or vendors?  What lead up to the situation?

The answers will start to help you separate out the good parts of your work.  It’s pretty easy to dwell on the crap but it doesn’t really help.

As you start to pick out the good bits ( liking customers, solving problems with systems, developing new ways to present a product), you can take that information forward to look for opportunities that focus on those good bits.  The idea is to get into a role with more of the stuff you like and less of the crap you don’t.

When you get on the LinkedIn or Indeed to look at job postings, don’t start with a title.  Try searching for the phrase or activity that you want to do.  You will probably get some results that are not relevant but you will also get some things that you had never considered or didn’t even know existed.

For example, I like to make up recipes and experiment with ingredients.  I put those words in LinkedIn and learned that I could be a bartender/mixologist or a beverage flavour technologist or a cereal product developer.  Who knew?

Let’s be clear – every job has some junk but to maximize your impact and satisfaction, you want the junk to play a smaller part.

 

 

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Fix your Career by the New Year

Halloween is over and the rush to the end of the year has begun.  Things are going to get busy….really soon.  If you have career goals that are still hanging out there, this is the time to sit down and make a plan to move forward.

Whether you are looking for a promotion, transfer or something new altogether, now is the time to take action.

But where to start?

Make time – carve out 20 minutes every day to work on your objective – either block it in your calendar or make it the same time every day.

Make a list – who do you need to meet and how can you connect with them.  Email, voice mail, and LinkedIn are all options – decide what is most likely to get a response.

Reach out – start connecting with your targets and following up

Expand your network – send LinkedIn invitations to colleagues, neighbours and the guy you met at that thing last week.

Promote yourself – find articles that are relevant to what you do and post them on LinkedIn.  Your connections will see your content and be reminded of your expertise.

Send thank you notes – everyone appreciates being recognized and the good will that is generated will translate into all kinds of neat things.

Take calls from Headhunters – these calls can provide good market intel on your skills and what they are worth – don’t ignore us.

Apply to job postings – notice this is way down the list?  The best opportunities come from connections and good connections come from doing the work in the first place.  Don’t just rely on the application process.  It will rarely show you any love.

 

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Job Postings and Romance

I have been reading a lot of romance novels.  Don’t hate me.  They are really are lovely.  They are not too long and they always resolve in such a nice, neat package – very appealing.

The problem is that I have now started to day dream about a rich, handsome guy showing up at work or on the train to sweep me off my feet.  Not just any rich, handsome guy. No, this guy has chiseled abs, just the right amount of stubble and a home in Sardinia.

I can wish all I want, but I have already been swept off my feet.  He has the stubble, but alas, no home in a sunny, warm locale.

And wishing is not going to change that.

I tried to explain that to a few candidates this week.  Not the part about getting a new husband, but the part about wishing for a new role that’s a departure from where you are today.

It’s not that a major career move is not possible.  It is just that you need to be rational.

I had someone try to convince me that they would be ideally suited to sell medical devices because their neighbour was a doctor and they had spent a lot of time together building a fence.   He honestly thought that having a beer with a doctor imparted enough knowledge to make him a legitimate candidate for the role.  Come on!

It is fine to daydream about a job when you read a posting on monster, but give your head a shake.  Read the list of requirements.  Can you honestly say yes to at least half of them?  It does not matter whether you agree with them nor does it matter that you think you have a better list of requirements.  The employer has put them there for a reason.  Respect it.

If the posting says “living, breathing human”, then by all means, go ahead and apply but if it says “have a degree in mechanical engineering”, then going on a date with an engineer is not going to cut it.

But if you see a place in Sardinia, could you let me know?

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Stay on Track with your Career Resolutions

We are almost at the end of the first week of 2017.  How are those new years resolutions working out?  Still bringing your lunch to work?  Been to the gym a couple of times?

And how about your career?  Any thoughts on that during the holidays?  Probably not….way too much family, friends and Netflix.

You can still make change.  It just takes one small step at a time.  Here is something you can do today.clock

Get a friend or colleague to look at your LinkedIn profile while you read through theirs. Take about five minutes. Make some notes on the things that you like  and some notes on what you think might be missing. Consider things like their career path, successes, causes, projects and even their photo. You have a more objective point of view of their work and that’s where your opinion adds real value.

When you are done, get together and compare notes.  You should each get some good flashes of insight into how to present yourself more fully to the LinkedIn world.  If you want to really go all out, make the changes that you feel are warranted and then show your profile to someone outside of your workplace or work group.  Feedback without the immediate work context can be really helpful as well.

Tip:  when you edit your profile,  turn off the button that notifies your connections about your changes (it’s on the right hand side of the page).  There is nothing more annoying than 500 people congratulating you on a new role when all you did was fix a typo.

 

 

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Give the Gift of Connections

There is a small but really important article in the Globe and Mail this morning.  It talks about how difficult it is for kids to get their start in the job market.

A federal government panel has released its interim report and it is focused on employers’ reliance on the digital application process.  We know as adults how frustrating it can be to spend 30 minutes filling in an online application that feels less and less relevant as we click through each window.

We get around this by networking.  We talk to friends and former colleagues and the guys we sit next to at hockey practice.

buttonKids, even really social kids, often don’t have the right kind of connections to get them started.  This is especially true if they want to do work that is different from what their parents have done.

We thought that internships would solve this problem.  Kids would get an introduction into the work environment and then either get hired or get recognized by others in the field.  This is only true in some cases.  Free labour, energy and enthusiasm does not always turn into paid work.  At 20, this can be pretty disheartening.

Kids need our social connections to workplaces and industries.  It’s a tough road for them and we need to help.  I am not talking about just our own kids.  I am talking about the kid next door, the nieces and nephews, the kid who walks your dog when you are away.

You will likely see a lot of young people over the next week.  Stop for a moment to chat with them.  Ask about their studies and their plans.  It will seem like they are rolling their eyes.  Ignore this.  It’s just habit.  Think for a moment about whether you know someone or something that might be helpful and offer it up.

At the very least, ask if they are on LinkedIn and offer to connect.

Getting young people into good work situations should be on all of our minds.  Let’s do as much as we can.

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