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Start a blog and land your next job!

Instead of spending ages designing and tailoring your CV to stand out in the pile, why not consider actually doing something that will make you different from all of the other job candidates? One of the best ways to show your passion for a particular industry and your knowledge of a specific area is to write a blog and believe it or not writing a blog may be just what you need to do to score your next job.

Start a blog and make your job application stand out for all the right reasons.

Start a blog and make your job application stand out for all the right reasons.

Not your average CV

Whilst pretty much every job seeker has a CV (or at least they should have) not everyone owns a blog. The great thing about writing and publishing blog posts is that it demonstrates the skills, knowledge and passion you claim to have on your CV. It shows that you are far more interested in the line of work than the other candidates and is sure to impress employers.

Improve your digital footprint

Today it is common for employers to vet potential employees by performing Google searches. If a prospective employer ‘Googles’ your name and finds your blog, they are going to be so much more impressed than if a drunken Facebook photo of you on your mate’s stag-do appears. Remember that everything you put online leaves a digital footprint and unless you make your social media pages private, they can be explored by employers and could do you a disservice.

Present yourself as an industry expert

One of the great things about writing a blog is that it shows you have in-depth knowledge of a particular subject. It will inform employers that you are up to date with the latest industry trends and news and know exactly what is going on. Writing an industry-relevant blog will help present you as an expert and show employers that you are much more valuable to them than the candidate next to you.

You’ll instantly become more interesting

If you think about how many CVs and job applications employers have to go through, you will understand why they get bored so quickly. By writing a blog and including the URL on your CV, you will instantly become more interesting to employers. Not only will it give them something else to look at, aside from yet another CV, but it will also give you something additional to talk about when you inevitably land an interview!

You’ll be surprised at how useful your blog is when it comes to answering interview questions and it will often be able to make up for a lack of experience elsewhere.

Employers have become increasingly interested in industry bloggers.

Employers have become increasingly interested in industry bloggers.

Setting up a blog

Setting up a blog could not be easier. There are plenty of free blogging platforms online, with two of the most popular being Blogger and WordPress. If you are just starting out and want to use your blog for job seeking purposes, you don’t necessarily need a fancy design or domain, just make sure your content is top notch!

Conclusion

With so many benefits, it’s a wonder that everyone hasn’t already jumped on the blogging bandwagon. If you are looking for a way to make yourself stand out from other candidates or simply want to show employers how passionate you are about the industry you work in; blogging is the way to do it.

If you have already got a blog and are ready to use it to land your next job role, be sure to check out YourJobList. Applying for jobs can be extremely time consuming, but having a dedicated tool to manage your job applications and assist your job hunt can make the process a whole lot easier.

 

Image credits: xioubin low & the tartanpodcast

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Three interview questions you need to be ready to answer!

Here are the three questions that Forbes says all other interview questions boil down to.

Employers are no longer relying on standard interview questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” To ace your interview, you need to be ready to answer a whole variety of new questions, including some rather odd ones, like “How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State building?.”

But an insightful article on Forbes says all those questions really boil down to three:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you love the job?
  • Can we tolerate working with you?

Here’s why they’re so important.

Can you do the job?

In a time where jobs are becoming increasing complex and specialized, employers need to make sure you can do the job. That means not only making sure you have the right technical skills and experience for the job today, but the ability to learn and adapt, to think critically, to embrace new technology and approaches, to work in multidisciplinary teams, to communicate effectively with others, to take the job to the next level, to move to another area in the organization, etc. Because the job they are hiring you to do today will likely change fairly radically over the course of your employment with them.

The interviewer might not ask you all this directly, but you can be sure they’re looking for clues in your answers.

So make sure you share examples of how you continually adapt and learn on the job, stay ahead of technology trends, work with others, manage risks, think critically and make decisions. Give them a broader view of what you can bring to the organization and the value you can provide.

Will you love the job?

So much research recently has focused on employee disengagement and its cost to organizations. So employers aren’t just looking to hire people with the right skills and experience for the job and “fill the seat”. They’re concerned about finding the right candidate, who’ll be fully engaged in the role and be a high performer.

Here again, it’s hard for an interviewer to directly ask you about your engagement level. And clearly, if you’re looking for a new job, you’re likely not fully engaged in your present role. But many of the questions they ask give you the opportunity to express your passions for your work.

So make sure, as you answer questions about your work experience, you share with the interviewer the aspects of work that you love. What are the things at work that “turn you on” and make time disappear? Do you love solving problems? Are you passionate about satisfying customers? Do you thrive on the details or guiding the big picture? Do you need to work on teams? Are you jazzed by beating the competition?

What are the things you need in a role to be fully engaged? And what are the things that disengage you? Be honest about both; it’s in everyone’s best interests for you to work in a job that you love.

Can we tolerate working with you?

Cultural fit has also become a key consideration in hiring. So much work these days is done collaboratively that you need to be able to get along with your coworkers and work effectively with them.

But more than that, as organizations recognize that their employees are their only true source of lasting competitive advantage, organizational culture and competencies are becoming more critical. More than products/services or technology, this is what differentiates an organization from the competition.

So interviewers are likely to ask you questions that help them understand whether you share their core values and competencies. Afterall, if you’re a good fit, you’re likely to be more engaged and to perform better.

To help them determine this, start by getting as much understanding of the organization’s culture, values and core competencies as you can. There are lots of areas on their website that will give you clues to these. Look at their company history, careers page, mission and values. Look at the words they use to describe themselves, their products/services, market and customers. And decide for yourself whether the organization will be a good fit for you, and you for it.

Most companies will be looking for things like: customer focus, commitment to quality, innovation, integrity, speed, care for the environment, responsiveness… But each will live that in a different way.

If you think there’s a good fit, let them know. As you answer questions in the interview, tell them about your shared values and competencies. Give examples of how you’ve exhibited those on the job and outside of work. Let them know that you’re more than just the skills and experience you bring to the table and that you share a commitment to the same things.

 

Check out the original article over at Tech Republic. Credit to the original author, Sean Conrad.


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Skype interviews: Is it more tricky to be grilled by video?

The job interview is an ordeal that most people face at some stage in our career. But as video starts to take the place of the face-to-face interview, is it easier or harder now to land your dream job?

The job interview as we know it may never have existed if it wasn’t for Thomas Edison.

Frustrated with hiring college graduates who lacked the right knowledge, Edison devised the first employment questionnaire to narrow down his applicant pool.

The survey was thought to be so difficult that in 1921 the New York Times nicknamed it a “Tom Foolery test” and claimed only a “walking encyclopaedia” could succeed.

Questions included: “What is the weight of air in a room 20ft x 30ft x 10ft?” and “Where are condors to be found?”*

But today the trick to making a good impression at interview may be less about what you know and more about how you come across on camera.

Jean Luc, a 30-year-old marketing professional from Greenwich, recently had his first video interview for a role at a web start-up company based in Berlin.

“I had the usual nerves before my interview. But I Skype all the time as my parents live in South Africa so it felt like a much more familiar process. What I found quite disconcerting was when I first turned on the video, my interviewer had his camera turned off.

“It would have been awkward if I turned my camera off and on again so I just went through the interview with a black screen. It was a bit like talking to myself.”

Looking in the wrong place is just one of the common pitfalls of video interviews, says New York-based career coach and blogger Megan Broussard.

“It’s tempting to watch yourself in that little box to make sure your hair isn’t in your face or that you’re not making weird facial expressions. But the truth is that it is very distracting to the other party and can come across as shy and even insincere – two qualities both employers and new hires want to avoid.

“It’s OK to watch the speaker on the screen, but respond by looking into the camera to create the illusion of direct eye-contact, always.”

In the US more than six out of 10 HR managers now use video to interview job applicants, according to a survey.

 

How to cruise a video interview

  • Set the stage: Make the room you’re in a reflection of your work -polished
  • plain backdrop can be less distracting
  • Test the lighting: Even if your camera isn’t the highest quality, make sure it flatters your features and the interviewer can see you clearly
  • Dress the part: Be as conservative as the organisation – wear smart bottoms in case you have to get up during the interview
  • Work the camera: Minimise the video image of you so you’re not tempted to watch yourself
  • The employer expects eye contact and anything else will distract him or her
  • Do a test run: Call a friend or family member to make sure speakers and microphone are working and they can hear you clearly

Tips from Megan Broussard – aka Professional – a career coach and blogger from New York

 

Click here to read the original BBC article.

Credit to the original author, Hannah Briggs, over at BBC News.


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Five Career Lessons From TV’s ‘Friends’

There was a time in my life when I used to schedule my dates on a Friday night at 6.30pm in order to be home for the latest episode of Friends at 8pm.  The staff at my neighborhood haunt, Notting Grill, would smile knowingly at my routine, presenting the check the moment my dining partner placed down his fork.  The befuddled lad would inevitably wonder out aloud, as I skillfully ushered him out onto the street, why he wasn’t so much as offered the pudding menu.

Yes, such was my addiction to the show and the restaurant staff were only too happy to oblige as my enablers.

Friends has been off the air for some time – which makes me about ten years late in writing this – but sometimes a seriously random occurrence can get you full-swing reminiscing again. In my case, it was a monosyllabic, peroxide blonde Swiss DJ over New Year’s Eve in Davos, who bore an uncanny resemblance to the show’s Gunther, that did it.

Much like Mash and Seinfeld before it, Friends became firmly embedded in both the American and British psyche influencing popular culture and interpersonal dynamics. Interestingly, the show also presented plotlines with career lessons we could all take away.

Here’s my top five, leading up to number one:

5. The One Where Chandler Follows His Career Bliss (making a career switch when you’re more ‘mature’)

Chandler: I’ll just get my old job back.

Monica: No, I want you to have a job that you love. Not statistical analysis and data reconfiguration.

Chandler: I quit, and you learn what I do?

After years of plodding through a fairly mundane job, Chandler decides to make a risky mid-career industry move into something he may be more passionate about, but that means he’d need to start at the bottom again. He battles it out with a group of young interns all vying for the one prized paid position at an advertising agency. Initially struggling with the task of coming up with a slogan for a new pair of sneakers aimed at a youth market, he uses his age and experience to come up with an ingenious slogan that leaves the competition in dust.

Intern: … and then, at the end of the commercial, the girls get out of the hot tub and start making out with each other!

Boss: (ironic) That’s interesting! Just one thought: You didn’t mention the shoes. Who’s next? (Chandler raises his hand) Chandler…

Chandler: Okay… (He stands up) You start on the image of a guy putting on the shoes. He’s about my age…

Intern: (snorting) Your age?

Chandler: A-huh. So he’s rolling down the street and he starts to lose control, you know… maybe he falls… maybe hurts himself. Just then, a kid comes flying by wearing the shoes. He jumps over the old guy and laughs, and the line reads: “Not suitable for adults!”

Boss: Chandler, that’s great!

Chandler: Oh, thank you, sir… or man-who’s-two-years-younger-than-me (He sits down again)

Granted he came up with the slogan after injuring himself  while wearing the sneakers during the assignment, the result? He lands the job of junior copywriter when he only expected to receive an assistant position.

Sometimes maturity (life experience) can still trump youth.

4. The One Where Ross Dates His Student  (inappropriate workplace relationships)

Monica: Well, Ross, you be careful now. You don’t want to get a reputation as, you know, ‘Professor McNails-his-students.’

According to research, more than seven out of 10 professionals say they’re open to dating at work under the right circumstances.

Dating someone you work with certainly has its advantages and I know several happy couples who’ve met while working together, but chances are it may pose a greater risk to your professional reputation – especially if there is a hierarchical relationship in place (whether it’s professor-student in Ross’s case or between a supervisor-supervisee).

You may need to report the romance to the human resources department, according to Helaine Olen, co-author Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding and Managing Romance on the Job, quoted in this Forbes article.In so doing, the supervisor should volunteer to take the hit if the company decides the pair should no longer work together.”

Uh oh – that budding, illicit office romance doesn’t sound quite as thrilling anymore, does it? Also consider the fact that it would be almost impossible to plan vacations at the same time, especially if you’re working in the same department or for a small company.

There’s a rather crude British expression advising against amorous workplace relations – but I’m much too coy to type it.

3. The One Where Rachel Returns After Maternity Leave (returning to work after an extended absence)

Rachel: What do you mean, you’re taking over my job.

Gavin: Well, while you were on your baby vacation, I was *doing* your job.

Mr. Zelner: When you left us, we weren’t sure what we were going to do. But then, Gavin to the rescue! Super Gavin!

Rachel: Well, that’s great, that’s great. So, now, uh, Super Gavin, when I come back, where do you plan on flying off to?

Gavin: Well, that’s up to Mr. Zelner. I’m sure he’ll make the right decision.

Rachel [under her breath]: Oh, wow, Super Ass Kissing Power.

Legally, under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), a woman who returns from maternity leave must be placed in the same job or an “equivalent” position. An equivalent position is a job having the same or similar pay, hours, work performed, work conditions, job responsibilities and job security.

But what if you’re competing against an aspiring co-worker who has used your absence (whether it’s maternity leave, a sabbatical etc.) to muscle his way into your role and the boss’s good books? This can be avoided – and I know that I stand the risk of drawing the wrath of new moms with this one – by simply staying in the game. Here’s two ways in which you can do this: Meet a colleague for coffee or lunch at the tail end of your leave to catch up on latest developments. This gives you the kind of workplace intel that wouldn’t show up in group e-mails and may give you the edge when you’re back at your desk.

Contact your line manager several weeks before your scheduled return date to discuss your transition back into the role. You may even consider dialing in for important project meeting-calls around a week or two prior to your return date, even if you don’t actively participate in the discussion itself.

2. The One Where Monica Fires Joey (how to gain the respect of colleagues)

Monica: Okay, could the waiters gather around to hear tonight’s specials? Okay, first, there’s, uh, Chilean Sea Bass, prepared with a mango relish, on a bed … why is nobody writing these down?

Waiter: Because we can remember them.

Monica: And because you’re all going to make up fake specials, and make me cook them like you did the other night?

Waiter: Well, sure, that too.

Monica is being treated shoddily by her new co-workers so she hires Joey just so she can fire him and show them that she could be a tough boss.

While co-opting a colleague to be part of your ruse to gain one-upmanship does offer comedic value (and a story to share with mates), it may be a bit drastic. Besides, the effect of one dramatic action to instantly gain respect would be ephemeral. It is far better to work over a period of time on gaining credibility through your actions and attitude, being an active listener, being someone who is true to their word (“Nothing worse than a hypocrite,” a friend recently reminded me) to truly earn the respect of colleagues.

And how to deal with undermining comments from colleagues in a day and age when the majority of our workplace communication (read: drama) takes place via e-mail or IMs?

According to Frances Cole Jones, author of The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World, “If you feel the offending colleague is using e-mail or other technology to wage his war, send a note saying, ‘I’d prefer to discuss this in person. What time works for you?’” she suggests. “You will be surprised how few people respond.”

And in number one place, the ‘top’ Friends lesson as it relates to career (sort of):

1. The One Where Rachel Chooses Ross (it’s just a job, not your life)

Ross: Oh my God! Did she get off the plane? Did she get off the plane?

Rachel: I got off the plane.

In this final Friends moment, between choosing a prestigious job of a lifetime in Paris which will take her away from the love of her life, Rachel ultimately chooses Ross.

I’m going to get a bit schmaltzy on you now, but as much as your career gives you satisfaction and validation, at the end of the day, it is only one component of your life. In the New York Times article, The Island Where People Forget To Die, the writer concludes that social connectivity is one of the pivotal links to contentment and life longevity. “For people to adopt a healthful lifestyle, I have become convinced, they need to live in an ecosystem, so to speak, that makes it possible. As soon as you take culture, belonging, purpose or religion out of the picture, the foundation for long healthy lives collapses. The power of such an environment lies in the mutually reinforcing relationships among lots of small nudges and default choices.”

Cultivate meaningful relationships with family and friends because – and you know what’s coming next… they’ll be there for you, even when the rain starts to pour.

 

Check out the original article, by Maseena Ziegler, over at Forbes.


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Being responsible, creative and motivated means you aren’t!

Your LinkedIn profile is not a beautiful or unique snowflake.

If you try to stand out from the crowd by describing yourself as “creative”, “motivated” or “responsible”, you’re actually making yourself look like you lack creativity and aren’t motivated enough to take responsibility for your career by penning a cliché-free LinkedIn Profile.

We make that assertion on the basis that LinkedIn’s annual list of buzzwords in its members’ profiles includes those three terms among the top eight words that members use to describe themselves.

First conducted two years ago, this year’s effort saw the seriously-social network comb through profiles penned by over 187 million members to find the most-used words. Entries in languages other than English were translated and the whole lot poured into a big data melting pot that spat out the following eight terms as the most-used:

  • Creative
  • Motivated
  • Multinational
  • Responsible
  • Experimental
  • Effective
  • Specialized
  • Analytical

LinkedIn argues that using those words in your profile makes you stand out from the crowd in the worst possible way – as someone who can’t articulate your values in anything other than words devalued by overuse, or lacking qualities that can be accurately described without resorting to blandishments.

There’s at least one piece of evidence out there to suggest employers already see through these words, as those of you who recall our story from early this year about a job ad for ‘mediocre developers’ may recall.

Check out the original article, by Simon Sharwood, over at The Register.


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Master the changing face of job interviewing

The new trend in hiring in 2013? Challenge-based and video interviews. Read how you can master these new challenges.

Just when you got the hang of the in-person or phone interview, things are changing. According to HireArt, a company that helps employers make hires, the new trend in hiring in 2013 is utilizing challenge-based and video interviews.

“Businesses and recruiters are using video interviews and work samples as a way to effectively vet job candidates before bringing them in for an actual interview so employers can “try before they buy” and ensure they’re finding the right candidate for the job.”

For example, if a business is hiring an engineer, they may present a coding challenge to candidates; if they’re hiring a social media manager they may ask candidates to create compelling tweets.

Here are some tips from HireArt to ensure that candidates are prepared for both the challenge-based and video interviews that are becoming more common in today’s competitive job market.

1. Act like you want to be there.

Being energetic over a video interview can go a long way in making you stand out against other candidates that seem bored or uncomfortable. Even though it might be more difficult to seem enthusiastic about a job when you are just talking to the camera, you should try to come across as excited and passionate about why you want to be there.

2. Watch your presentation.

You don’t look as good on camera as you look in person (it’s true!). So, don’t let basic components of your interview, such as attire and lighting, negatively affect how you come across. Dress as you would dress were the interview taking place in the office. Record the view in a bright place that allows the interviewer to clearly see you. And make sure the quality of your audio allows the interviewer to really understand what you are saying. Although these things are not related to your skills, they could count against you when other candidates have them and you don’t.

3. Don’t be sloppy.

Typos and lack of attention to detail in your online applications often immediately disqualify you. Take the time to be careful!

4. Know your own pitch.

Most video interviews require you to record a two minute pitch about yourself. Really think about what you want to get across, what experiences you would like to highlight, what sets you apart from other candidates, and how you want to say this in a succinct way.

5. Make sure you know the company, its competitors and the industry inside and out.

If you are invited to an interview, even if it is an online interview, companies expect you to understand the position and know the company well. Use this information to craft your pitch and at every other chance you get. Articulate specifically why you want to work at the company – what specifically drew you to this position.

 

Find the full, original article written by Toni Bowers, over at TechRepublic.