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Building a Brand called – YOU: Compiling Great Content

Continuing from where we stopped.. Our previous article “Getting Started” focused on why professionals can’t ignore social media, how it can be used to showcase one’s expertise and knowledge and thus help build a professional brand for themselves.

In this next article, we will focus on how to compile great content

One of the biggest challenges people face while building their professional brand online is creating good content. Penning down thoughts, opinions to compile a thought driven article that will attract an audience and add value to their knowledge is quite often assumed to be an ordeal. However that is not the reality, on the flipside you need not be an author extraordinaire like Zig Ziglar or Deepak Chopra to write influential content. All you need is some thought provoking topic penned down is simple comprehensible, day to day language and some time and patience and you have some good content. Content that will be of interest and learning for your audiences, content that they will want to share with their network and content that will help increase your credibility within your professional network.

If you’re going through a similar dilemma of whether to ‘Write or not to Write’; we have 5 easy steps to help you draft some informative and shareable content

STEP 1 Pause, Relax & Think:

Before you start penning down your thoughts, start by creating a small review chart with the following

  • Who are your audience?
  • Which platform are they on?
  • Do you have a topic in mind?
  • Are you well versed with the subject you want to write about?
  • Is it already been written about (Google the topic you intent to write about.)
  • If yes, do you have a different opinion about the topic? Are you being repetitive?
  • Prepare a draft content – (jot down points, prepare a rough skeleton of what’s in your mind)
  • Do you have enough content (750 – 1200 words for an article, if its lesser that that you may consider posting it as a post on LinkedIn or as a Tweet if it’s just a thought)
  • Start researching about the topic – take down points, cues that you would want to add to your article

It is important to put down your thoughts on paper before you start punching the keys on your keyboard; it gives you an overview of what your article should look like.

*Avoid controversial topics that may hurt someone’s sentiments or create a controversy or attract negative comments

Step 2 Look for Inspiring stories:

This is for someone who may not have a topic in mind, so how do you go about… Look for inspiration from

  • Blogs
  • News Article
  • Pulse Articles
  • Real Life Experience
  • Conversation with someone that may have triggered a thought
  • Books

These platforms may help trigger a topic you may want to write about for e.g.

  • A news article about something related to the industry you work within. Some new Government policy that may impact your industry, a new trend within the industry that could be a game changer. You may have an opinion on various news articles that make Headlines and these thoughts can then be shaped into an article.
  • An article you read on a blog, magazine or on LinkedIN pulse; you may have a different opinion about it or you may want to add something more to it.
  • A real life experience or a conversation with someone that may have triggered a thought
  • A book you may have read that may have left an impact on you.

These are few platforms where you can draw inspirations or ideas from.

STEP 3 Pick Your Platform:

Like I said in the first step when you start bulleting your thoughts you get an idea of how your article would look. Depending on the content you have you can then choose the platform you want to post your piece on.

STEP 4 Start Drafting:

Now you have the topic you want to write about, the skeleton of the article will give you an idea as to how your article should look, the content you have, the audience you want to target and the platform you should use to post the article on

Now you can start putting your thoughts into sentences and start putting together the first draft. Don’t bother about how grammatically right your sentences sound, as of now focus on your objective. When you are done with the first draft, read it again and this time you will start having a better understanding of how you want this article to look as the article will start taking shape now. Proof reading it the third time may give you more clarity on the article and by now you will have your article ready, another glace will help you edit it to make it more impactful.

It’s always advisable to get someone to review your article and give you honest opinion as well as suggest a few changes if need be. Tell them your intention as to why you want to post this article and ask them if your article resonates your objective.

Pick a headline that will attract audience to click on your post and read the entire article.

Step 5 One Final look

Review your blog one last time, check for spelling or grammatical errors. Format your content. Select relevant images you would like to add along with it

Step 6 POST

Once you’ve proofread the article are happy with the final result; you may post it on appropriate platform.

Note to Remember: Don’t try to write about everything you know in one article. Focus and stick to the initial layout of your article.  Use simple terms that make your article an easy and comprehensible read. If your positioning is clear, it’s much easier to stand out and attract traffic.

Job Titles: All about that EGO

Ever so often, I come across candidates who are finicky about the job title, regardless of the excellent advancement the opportunity provides- more exposure, learning, experience and credibility to their careers.

These candidates become myopic to what their business cards would read and really miss the larger picture.

Don’t get me wrong- I am all for Job Titles- Job titles provide pride, self-respect and admiration amongst peers, friends and family, and are also useful for career progression. Well, let me put it this way, job titles are important but should not become deal breakers.

Job titles are meant to tell people what one does, but today, I ask myself “Have job Titles become an insignia of pride and ego?”

When candidates let go of a great career opportunity they fail to realize that the experience and knowledge they would acquire from this career opportunity could be far more important and valuable than a job title.

Job titles are important at multiple levels, in organisations, it symbolizes what one does, it gives identity for a grade which in turn leads to compensation and benefits structure and clarifies path for career progression. It is what is printed on the business cards, and a senior sounding title is always accorded more respect and authority than others. It also raises the social esteem and standing among peers.

However, at times candidates get carried away and make unreasonable demands of titles that don’t describe what they do but just make them sound important and gives their ego a boost. Such a job title is not helpful to anyone because the roles and responsibilities stay the same.

In the long run when they plan to move jobs again, their job titles could be an exit barrier- consultants may not even approach them as they have a senior sounding title- even though the work they do is relevant for the opportunity the consultant has!

Whereas there has to be market linked realism attached to giving titles to role scopes and corresponding compensation, outlandish titles must be avoided as well.

Current job titles fail the very objective of its existence; for example it’s a trend today for booming start-ups to come up with exaggerated, weird job titles to attract candidates but these titles sound juvenile and lack vision. This trend shows that corporates are now using job titles to attract talent, especially in sectors that lack good talent.

Care should always be taken (by the candidate) to ensure that a job title doesn’t become an exit barrier and (by the employer) to ensure that the job title is not a barrier to attract great talent. It should be JUST RIGHT

And here is some food for thought, “Job titles don’t make someone a leader and real leaders don’t need job titles.”

 

Guide to Working with a Recruiter

It’s important to understand how good recruiters work and in turn utilize their way of working for benefiting oneself

Most of my candidates get annoyed when I call them to enquire if they are looking for a job change; with a very irritated tone they reply “sorry, I am happy with my current job” or “I’m not interested in a change” or “Please don’t bother me, and get me off your list, I don’t work with recruiters” .. After which they abruptly hang up before I even say a word.  Hence I decided to pen down my advice to candidates on how to work with good, professional recruiters.

Candidates may or may not be interested in what the recruiter had on offer for them, but they need to realize that contacts with good recruiters may not be handy at present but in the long run it will definitely be an asset.

Most people should have realized by now that recruiters are not only useful when you are changing jobs but also when you are perfectly happy within your current role. It’s important to nurture your relation with a good recruiter and to be on his “favourite list”. For that you need to understand how recruiters function and in turn you use their way of functioning for your benefit.

Send your Resume

Do you get annoyed when you get a call from a recruiter saying “Mr X, I have a perfect opportunity for you, can you give me a brief background about yourself so I can understand you better” or directly ask you for your updated resume, inspite of you telling them that you’re not looking for a job?? Pretty infuriating right??

If you felt this recruiter sounded professional, seemed knowledgeable then what’s the harm in sending it in?? Let’s face it, maybe you’re not actively looking for a job now but you may in the future. Having your details on a specialist recruiter’s folder will make it more likely that the recruiter will call you again when he has another opportunity and maybe you are looking for a change by then.

Avoid tampering your Resume

Some candidates see a benefit in lying on their resume, or to their recruiter or at the interview. Especially when they are desperate for a job. They often lie about academic degrees, inaccurate job descriptions, inflated salaries, fake references, altered employment dates.  Ones who are lucky enough get away with it but once they get on the job they are not qualified for, it’s not too long till their employer finds out the truth about their credibility and they are likely to be fired.

A candidate may find this the most convenient and fastest means to get a job, but they do this by putting their employers business at stake as well as their own careers in jeopardy

A candidate may think that’s it’s only a resume, and he won’t get jailed for lying about his experience or salary. Yes you won’t. But if you get into the habit of constantly altering your resume to suit a job opening you will end up being branded a “Job – Hopper”.

We recruiters are well connected with industry insiders and so are your employers – our Clients. They will eventually find out and do their own reference checks. They have many ways to find out and once a candidate is caught their career is doomed.

Keep it to yourself

The moment I call a candidate saying they have an opportunity for him; he wants to know which firm it is with, that’s what most of the candidates want to know, to which I politely respond that “Sir, I can’t share these confidential details as of now, but I will do that once I am sure that you are the right fit for the job profile.” The bizarre thing is that, when I do say this most of my candidates get offended. Candidates need to understand that the best for them would be to just wait and respect the recruiter’s request. Just like good recruiters stick to complete confidentiality for the Clients we do the same when it comes to our passive candidates. Candidates as well as clients depend on a recruiter’s ability to keep secrets. If a recruiter calls you, don’t expect him to answer your queries first, rather help him to understand your career graph, your abilities so that we can advise you better on your career. You will be given information on an as-needed basis, and you will be expected to keep it to yourself. Don’t be afraid to share personal information with your recruiter. Knowing what is important to you helps us to find you a suitable combination of position, company, and location.

Follow your Recruiter’s instructions and listen

Most important: A recruiter not only places you from one job to another but we also counsel you about your interview, advise you about negotiating the offer, on how to resign from your current job once you’re selected for a new one, how to tackle a counter offer…etc. We are your career counsellors and we understand where you come from, what your strengths and weaknesses are and the expectations you have from your new job. A recruiter is the one who helps mould your career. We know more about the your potential employer, the organisation, what they are looking for and hence we will be able to guide you better. Take note of the advice and direction your recruiter gives you and follow it.

Make up your Mind

The worst thing that could happen to a recruiter is that his candidate drops out of an offer. Such a situation is even worse than a candidate not being selected. This situation puts the recruiter in an extremely embarrassing position. It’s difficult for the recruiter to go back to his client and break the news to him. It shows that the recruiter lacks candidate control.

As candidates, you have to be completely sure about your decision to move; keeping in mind all the key factors that will be affected by your decision.  Be sure that your spouse, parents, kids are aware of your decision and are prepared to adjust to the change. This is one of the most common issues that cause a hindrance in the recruitment process that too at an extremely crucial and final moment.

You have to make sure that other important aspects like pay, responsibilities, designation etc are all at par with your expectations. If there is something you are not happy about, make sure that your recruiter is well aware about it in the very beginning. This saves the recruiter the embarrassment and you being branded as the “Unprofessional Candidate”.

Call Promptly

Call your recruiter as soon as you are done with your interview. Give him your feedback before the client does. A good recruiter will always prefer getting your feedback before reaching out to the client to get his feedback. Use your recruiter to negotiate and express any concerns. This will help facilitate communication and allow some of the details to be handled at a more comfortable arm’s length.

Infact to build your relation with the recruiter, you should keep in touch with him and get some inside news about your industry hiring trends. But this doesn’t mean you pester him all the time, maybe every 6 months…you could call him or just drop in a mail to say hello.

Use social media to keep in touch; this is the best option you have today. Connect with your recruiter on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter. Keep a track of his updates on social media. You never know he may just post an opening for your dream job one day.

Face Negative Feedback Positively

Many recruiters shy away from sharing negative feedback as many candidates don’t take the feedback positively. If your recruiter comes back with a negative feedback about your interview don’t be offended instead be professional and polite, this is for your own betterment. Being rejected on a particular opportunity could be to do with another stronger candidate in the process and not necessarily about you. You have to maintain your relation with the recruiter since he will be the same one who may land you your next job. It’s better to know about your flaws and work on them rather than living with it for life.

Multiple offers

This is the most critical issue, which has to be handled carefully. If you have received more than one offer, it is generally best to let your recruiter know about it as soon as possible to avoid any complexities in the future.

Contemplating on an offer

The longer you take to make your decision, the more likely it is that the employer will think you are not committed and that they have, perhaps, made a wrong choice. We have even seen cases where, due to inordinate delay, employers have retracted offers of employment. Good recruiters also understand that delay in decision-making at this stage could mean you are hesitating; and we will very quickly put in alternate options from our “Favourite List”.

This article appeared in People Matters on Feb 20, 2014

5 great books for Sales Professionals

Long weekends are a great way to relax and there’s nothing better that having a great book to accompany you. This weekend we are giving you 5 great books that you can get your hands on if you are a sales professional, business owner.

With a goal in mind to inspire you and help you improve your sales skills we asked our Franchise Training Director, Ms. Shinu Jose to suggest 5 of her favorite sales books that she believes are a must-read for anyone who is involved with sales on a daily basis

So here’s her list….

Secrets of Closing a Sale- Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar is synonym with sales, if you’re passionate about sales there is a very low change that you may not have reads his books. ‘Secrets of Closing a Sale’ is a must on my list of recommendations because of one of the key things he highlights which I feel that most of us choose to ignore “there’s no room for success in a salesman’s career if he’s taking the fast route, making the quick sale, and then locking the door behind him.” He gives a number of examples through humorous real life situations and thought provoking questions that can be used to influence a yes from your prospects.  He suggests techniques that are easy to understand and apply, yet have a far-reaching impact.

How I raised myself from failure to success in selling- Frank Bettger

This is one inspiring story that someone can relate to, how Frank Bettger failed insurance salesman, to owning his own estate and having the possibility for early retirement. This book is a  journey through his financial stability with examples from his personal experience. Some overarching themes that his book highlights include the best ways to conquer fear, the power of enthusiasm and more. A must read for someone who is going through a rough patch and is trying to find a find their spark again

Influence- the Psychology of Persuasion- Dr Robert Cialdini

Whenever we are asked to purchase something, do something, meet someone we have to be persuaded before we agree. We simply want a reason behind everything we do. As a sales professional persuading business prospects, customers is part of our daily work routine.  In this book Dr Robert Cialdini brilliantly puts down 6 principles of persuasion, talks about why people say “YES” and how to persuade them to say yes.

Negotiation Genius- Deepak Malhotra, and Max Buzerman

A brilliant book by 2 geniuses, who list down proven strategies, principles and habits that can help you achieve positive results in any negotiations. This book is the perfect guide for preparing and executing negotiations – whether its cracking a business deal or negotiating a home deal or your next salary.

Hardball Selling- Robert L Shook

Shook guides sales persons to master hard selling using four basic principles. He focuses on various steps in a sales process such as getting past the “gatekeeper” to the single-minded tactics necessary to close a sale.

Here’s to a great weekend… Happy Reading

Keep Learning, Keep Grow

5 Tips To Fix Your LinkedIN Profile Pic

Having a business profile picture on LinkedIn makes your profile 14 times more likely to be clicked, but not images have the same impact on the profile visitors. We are giving 5 basic tips that will help you take a good profile picture.

 

  1. You must have a professional LinkedIN profile pic, there’s no 2 ways about it. You profile pic gives a face to the name and makes it easier for the viewer/interviewer/client/prospect etc to relate to you.
  2. LinkedIN is a social networking site for professionals and hence you attire in the profile pic should reflect that. That means you should be dressed like you would to work shirt, tie/ formal dress, limited jewellery & makeup a decent & neat hairstyle, well groomed.
  3. You profile pic cannot be something you clicked on your last vacation – no not a beach pic where you are in a swimsuit or trunks sipping a cocktail, or at a party/roadtrip/trek/gym, no group pics or even selfie, or with your adorable pet, or your family.
  4. When you select a pic for LinkedIN make sure its clea and not grainy, pixelated, blurred.. get a good camera and click a pic where you face is visibly clear
  5. It’s always advisable to click a pic with a white background or even a black&white, avoid brightly lit backgrounds. Avoid clicking a pic in a surrounding that untidy. Avoid clicking pics in your kitchen or bedroom.

 

Well that’s our advice for you… we hope it helps you and will soon sport a new improved LinkedIn Profile pic soon

Resume Checks You Often Forget

There are a number of tips, do’s & don’ts when it comes to compiling a resume. However there are also tiny bits about a resume that candidates often overlook. These ‘tiny bits’ can cost you your next career opportunity. We have list 5 areas in the resumes that most candidates tend to overlook or fail to realize the damage these errors could lead too.

 

Here’s our list of the most common faux-pas we have seen in candidate resumes

  1. Proof Read your Cover Letter and Resume before you hit the send button: We very often forget to proofread and spell-check – and check again! A spelling error or grammatical mistake on a resume or cover letter portrays a negative impression. It portrays carelessness, absence of eye for detail, inattentiveness etc. It is always advisable to read the resume twice before mailing it to someone.
  1. Avoid mentioning embarrassing email addresses:Most candidates use email address that were created when they were 16 years old and still prefer using the same email address. Well there’s nothing wrong with it however sometimes these email addresses are embarrassing as they have some funny adjectives that go along with it and as senior professionals you wouldn’t have to be embarrassed because of a juvenile email address. It’s advisable to create a separate email address for professional use only.
  1. Not including your digital footprint on your resume:Networking sites like LinkedIN are considered digital resumes. Just like candidates Google the company or the interviewer before an interview; Interviewers also Google candidates before meeting them, hence it’s good to add a link to your LinkedIn profile to help you interviewer find you easily.  Also a number of professionals use these LinkedIN Pulse or blogs to network, build themselves an online brand as an industry exert. It’s a great practice to include the links to your social networking accounts like LinkedIN and Twitter as well as your blog on your resume. It gives the interviewer a glimpse into your professional network, your industry knowledge and expertise through your post and blogs.  If you are one of those candidates who has a fantastic professional presence on social networking sites or has a blog; including the links on your resume is a must.
  1. Not updating your resume regularly:Most professionals look at their resumes only when they actively start looking for a job or if they are headhunted and hence are keen on exploring the opportunity. The fact is that every time there is a change in your job profile you must update your resume immediately. It could be anything, change on responsibilities, job title, change in contact details in case of phone number etc. Very often professionals send out their resumes in a hurry and miss out on crucial details that could have been avoided.
  1. Make it machine-readable:Today recruitment is going digital and so is job search. It’s all about using the right keywords that enables a cv to found through automation or manual online searches. While you are updating or creating a resume make sure you are using all the right keywords that are associated with your industry/niche, the role you are applying for etc

We hope these tips help you keep your resume update. If you are looking for career advice, interview tips, Job opportunities entrepreneurial opportunities watch this space

Building a Brand called – YOU

“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters in Fast Company

 

Whether you want to sell products, gain subscribers, draw followers, attract recruiters & hiring managers then you’ve got to build a brand for yourself to reach out to these people. Why would someone who hasn’t met you, interacted with you ever want to connect with you on a social (professional) networking platform.  Your ability to encourage any of the above mentioned actions comes from your professional brand — and one of the best ways to build that is through the savvy use of social media. 

We are sharing a few tips in a series of 3 articles, where we will give out tips on how you can set yourself apart from the competition, build your professional brand and create an impressive for yourself within the industry you work in.

The first article in this series will focus on Getting started – Why’s & How’s. Why you can’t ignore social media and How Do I Start

Let’s get started with WHY YOU CAN’T IGNORE SOCIAL MEDIA

  • It’s free – You don’t have to invest a penny to build your professional brand as most of the social networking sites are free to a great extent. All you need to invest in some time.
  • Using filters, hashtags, LinkedIn Groups makes it easier to connect with people from your industry
  • It allows you to reach out to millions of people cutting across geographical boundaries
  • Project yourself as a thought leader within your network. Showcase your expertise, knowledge and experience using SM tools. Reach out to Senior Execs within your industry, Hiring Managers, Recruiters as well as Journalists

 

HOW DO I START?

We have listed a few questions you need to ask yourself which will help you form a great foundation for your professional branding strategy. When you answer these questions you will slowly start putting together a great plan to build your professional brand name

 

  • Why create a professional brand?
  • Be visible- Social Media gives you visibility, it gives you a platform to showcase your knowledge, expertise and opinion beyond the four walls of your cubicle. The more visible you are on social networking sites the more opportunities you are exposed to
  • Network – Building your network in your industry. There may not be an immediate intention of a job change. However, you may look at networking, knowledge sharing, understanding the views and opinions other professionals have about the various trends in your industry as well as to keep yourself updated on the latest trends.
  • Job Opportunities – Building your professional brand is like controlling your career as well as the way you are perceived in your industry. Networking with hiring managers, decision makers, understanding industry hiring trends and voicing your opinions about these trends that affect your industry will help you attract recruiters and hiring managers and build your relation with them. So if there is a job opportunity that they are hiring for, they may directly approach you for it.
  • Long term goal of Entrepreneurship – People love reading success stories of founders, how they failed and yet dint stop. Social Media platforms give aspiring entrepreneurs this platform to tell their story and market themselves. Establish yourself as a thought leader, an expert and build a strong network of future clients
  • Who are my target audiences – Industry leaders, Hiring Managers, Senior Managers, HR, Recruiters, potential clients (entrepreneurship), journalists
  • Where will you find them – LinkedIN, Twitter
  • What are they talking about? Are they speaking about Industry trends, Hiring trends, News that will impact their industry, generic corporate trends, market research etc. Use these kind of topics to build your brand, have an opinion on issues that will impact the industry you work within
  • Why would someone read my content? Your USP is your years of experience in your industry, the knowledge you’ve accumulated all these years, your understanding of how the industry functions, your ability to sense the pulse of the industry and the way you share this kind of information is by expressing your views through thought driven content. Poeple love reading thought driven, informative literature.
  • Where would I get content ideas from? News, Articles, Blogs, Books, conversations with other professionals from your industry use this as an inspiration.

 

If you are seeking a new job or business prospects you may want to focus on optimizing your LinkedIn profile.  Depending on the kind of objectives, you may then focus on maintaining a presence on platforms that will help you to reach the right target audience and build a name for yourself in the industry.

The more specific you are,  the more your focus on your niche, the better it is as it will help you reach out to the right people and stand out from the crowd.

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