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Tips for Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great tool for researching prospective careers, building your network, and reaching out and connecting with people.  This should be an entirely professional social media tool, so keep your personal life out of it.  It really should function as an on-line resume and professional networking tool.  It takes some time and effort to create a great LinkedIn account, but if you do it right, it will certainly help you in connecting with the right people and getting a job.

Here are some tips on how to set up an effective LinkedIn profile:

  • Create an effective and informative professional headline.  This helps people to understand, in just a few words, who you are and what your skills are
  • Take time to write a clear, concise, and compelling summary statement.  Tailor it to what your target audience will be interested in knowing about you.  Be sure to include key words, industry-specific lingo and job-specific skills so that it is easily searchable
  • Carefully proof read your entire profile. Then, have at least one or two other people look over your profile; ask them to give you feedback on whether it is clear and accurate
  • Get a professional headshot done.  You want to be dressed in business attire and looking sharp.  This is about creating a positive and professional image – think about what message your photo sends about you and whether it fits with your career goals
  • Add industry relevant skills to your profile.  Once you have added these skills, start endorsing others for the skills that they possess.  This will, in turn, result in others endorsing you
  • Similar to endorsements, the process of getting recommendations is founded in reciprocity.  If you want others to write a recommendation for you, first write a recommendation for them.  Take time to write serious and thoughtful recommendations, as they are also a reflection of you.  When you write a recommendation for someone else, they are then prompted to return the favour and write one for you. Endorsements and recommendations add to your credibility
  • Customize your profile URL – go to your profile, click on Edit, click on Manage Public Profile Settings, on the right hand side of that page, click on Customize your public profile URL. This allows you to create a shorter URL that looks better and more professional on contact cards and resumes
  • Join groups that relate to your career interests and industries. Being involved in groups can help you to connect with people that you might not otherwise interact with
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Networking Your Way Into the Hidden Job Market

February 5, 2013 Leave a comment

I would like to welcome my guest blogger Samantha Laliberte.  She is a graduate from Western University and currently working at the London Economic Development Corporation. One of Samantha’s passions is the ‘power of networking’, which she attributes to the success she’s seen in her career so far. Samantha is taking the lead on the Student 2 Business Networking Conference and hoping to see 600 post-secondary students out for her March 6th event.

S2B

Networking Your Way Into the Hidden Job Market

Fast facts: 98% of all Ontario companies have less than 50 employees and it’s estimated that 70% of job opportunities are not posted through online databases.

So what? Networking is becoming increasingly more important for those entering AND moving within the workforce, but it doesn’t have to be as daunting as many students think!

Here are my 5 favorite networking rules to live by:

  1. Get offline.  While LinkedIn is definitely convenient and less intimidating, it can never replace the one on one connection you can build in-person. Attend professional networking events to showcase your firm handshake, genuine smile, and personality that just cannot be revealed online.
  2. Be proactive. Don’t network for the sole purpose of finding a job, and don’t wait until you need one! Create your professional network and build a foundation of mentors early on.
  3. Ask, and you shall receive. Know what you’re looking for and say it! Leave the other person with something to think about and a way to help you out. If they you make a positive impression, they’ll want to.
  4. Think big. Don’t limit networking opportunities to just conferences and events, networking can be anywhere! Although it takes effort, be optimistic when meeting new people in different settings and make an effort to leave memorable, positive impressions.
  5. Just do it. Don’t over think the conversation- just get it started. You’ll be surprised how many people want to hear about your dreams, your experiences, and how they can help.

I encourage you to test your skills and take a leap into the world of networking by attending the Student 2 Business Networking Conference on March 6th, 2013. This unique, professional, and dynamic event will bring together 600 students and 300 employer representatives; a major opportunity to connect in a well-orchestrated setting. Registration is $10 and available with full conference details online at s2b.ca.

Ahead of the Game – Forming Great Professional Relationships

January 15, 2013 1 comment

Networking on the Court

At just under 5’3” you may be surprised to find me every Wednesday at the Rec. Centre basketball courts ‘dominating’ a game of pick-up with 6’2”+ colleagues from across campus.  When I first started playing about 3 years ago my most recent experience had been when I was on the grade 8 team.  At that time I was tall, but not particularly skilled.  Since then I have not actually grown; so, I am now short and still not particularly skilled.

Then why on earth when a couple of the guys from my office asked me if I wanted to play did I agree? According to the Harvard Business Review, “High-stakes activities that ally you with disparate individuals around a common point of interest are the best way to forge tight connections. Whether you join people in sports teams, community service ventures, or interdepartmental initiatives, engaging with them in this new way creates stronger ties.”

It didn’t matter if in the first few months I couldn’t stop laughing every time I ran down the court with the ball because, not only was I getting a great workout, I was demonstrating that I was a team player.  I would show up, work hard and even if I couldn’t get a basket, I could intimidate the other team with my witty and well-timed trash talking.  Although for probably the first year, my main role was comic relief, I have now progressed to the point where I can hold my own and, on the odd occasion, be a decent contributor to the team.

Although I am not likely to be scouted by the WMBA any time soon, this activity has certainly been positive for my career because I have gotten to know, respect, and enjoy a lot of people at the university that I would otherwise not had much interaction with.  The formation of these relationships happens “because these conditions allow for unscripted behaviors and natural responses to unexpected events — things that rarely show up during business lunches or office meetings where impressions are managed and presentations are carefully rehearsed. People will see you as you truly are, and vice versa. Common activities also offer opportunities for celebration and commiseration, which generate loyalty and form close working relationships.” (Strengthen Your Network with Shared Activities)

When I see my bball colleagues on campus there is a common bond, a friendship, and a warmth that I feel, that makes me think well of them and them think well of me.  The one surprising and concerning thing that I have noticed over the course of 3 years of playing a pick-up sport on my lunch is that there is only one other woman that I have ever seen out there.  If young women don’t take these opportunities to connect with colleagues in this fun and critical way, they will be missing out on a foundational aspect of business networking.

Since, January is a time when people make all sorts of resolutions to get active, I challenge you to take it to the courts, or fields, or rink, with your colleagues.  You will all be healthier and more successful for it.   No skill is required – just come and see me play and I will prove it.

Do’s and Don’ts for On-line-Networking

May 22, 2012 1 comment

We have all heard of some of the worst-case scenarios that can happen when you are not careful about your virtual-image and what you or others post to the internet.  At my institution there was the now infamous case of the “Saugeen Stripper”. An 18 year old, who performed a striptease in a dorm room, resulting in digital photographs of the party being uploaded to the Internet.  Now, over 6 years later, the story of the Saugeen Stripper is documented on Wikipedia.  It is not just the young woman who will have to deal with the fallout from that night, but all of the young men in the photos are implicated as well.

Hopefully, in the past 6 years, we are becoming more aware of the long-term implications of one bad decision, but students still need to think carefully about what they are posting to the web and what impact it may have on their or their friends’ careers.

More and more employers are using social networking sites for recruitment purposes.  In fact, according to research from the Society for Human Resource Management, 76% of companies said that they use or plan to use social networking sites for recruitment.  Although companies do have to be careful, as they do not want to be facing complaints of discrimination based on marital status, religion, politics etc.  I would not want to throw caution to the wind and think that they won’t Google me.

So what should and shouldn’t you do?

DO:

Set up a LinkedIn Account – Of all of the sites I have used, this one seems to be the best and most-used for professional networking. Take time when you are setting up this account to ensure that the information that you are adding is eloquent, accurate and error-free.  This is essentially an on-line resume so you want it to be good.  Work towards ensuring that your profile is 100% complete.

Set up an About.Me page – This site is free and easy to use.  As long as you create a professional page, that highlights your skills and abilities in a warm and friendly manner, you are set.  In addition, they will provide you with an offer to get free, super-sharp business cards printed that can help you with face to face networking.

Be careful about who you add to your network – You want to have people you trust in your network.  Prospective employers may base opinions about you on the company you keep, the groups that you join etc.  Also, if you have friends that are not as sensible as you, they may think it funny to post embarrassing photos of you to their pages and then tag you in them.  If this happens, be sure to ask that they remove them.

Upload a professional business headshot – It is worth spending a little money to get a professional photo taken.  You want one that shows your work image, so be conscious of what you are wearing and what is visible in the background.  You also want the image to be inviting and relaxed, so be yourself.  You don’t want it to look like a mug-shot or an always terrible passport photo.

Take time to understand site culture and etiquette –   Some sights are geared more towards making friends, dating etc. and you can add people randomly.  Others, such as LinkedIn, are more for business and you need to be able to demonstrate some sort of connection with people before adding them.  Do not be pushy or overly persistent in trying to add people to your network.  This can backfire and end up making people want to avoid you rather than connect with you.

Follow your dream-employer on twitter – some companies will have a channel or feed that is dedicated to communicating job openings.

Write recommendations for others – It is always great to have recommendations and if you write a recommendation for someone else on LinkedIn when they receive your recommendation it asks them to return the favor.  Nine times out of ten, they will.  So rather than just going and asking people to write a recommendation for you, you are doing them a favor and just hoping that it will be returned.  Reciprocity is essential to good networking.

Don’t:

Post anything on a public forum that you would not want a prospective or current employer to see – Your posts, tweets and comments are public information that just about anyone can access.  If you are bragging about going out partying on a Thursday night, a prospective employer may view this as an indication that you party too much and may not be relied upon to show up for work on time.

Make negative comments about your current employer – What you do now is considered to be a good indication of what you will do in the future.  Posting complaints about business practices, company politics, or your coworkers may feel good for airing out your frustrations, but it will certainly come back to haunt you. Prospective employers will likely feel that you will do the same to them if they hire you and, therefore, you are not worth the risk to their corporate image.

Upload photos of you at the bar last night drinking with your friends – For many this will be common sense, but the number of embarrassing photos that I see is still staggering.  Maybe you realize this now, but didn’t when you were 18.  If that is the case, take some time to do the best damage control you can on what has been posted in the past.  Ask for images to be deleted, set stricter privacy settings etc.

Discuss controversial topics and information – whether it is in your profile, your comments on blogs etc. you want to try and avoid things like politics and religion that can be divisive.  Keep those conversations private by having them off-line or in protected areas with close friends.

The Importance of Extra-Curricular Activities for Career Development

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I am delighted to introduce my second guest blogger, Whitney. Whitney is completing her fourth year in an Honours Specialization in English Language & Literature at Huron. She served as the editor-in-chief of the Grapevine Magazine for the past two years, and volunteered at Western’s Gazette, Grubstreet, the GetLit Society, We Eat Films, and CHRW Radio over the course of her four years at Huron. She will be studying Public Relations at Humber College next year.  Welcome Whitney!

Getting involved within your scholastic community is not only one of the best ways to network and build friendships, but it can also help you develop new skills that will be valuable when applying for employment opportunities and graduate programs. Today’s job market climate is particularly competitive, which is why it is important that university students do not depend on their degree alone to land them the position of their dreams.

Employers are often looking for a particular set of skills: Interpersonal, Organizational, Communication, Design, Leadership, Sales, etc. Furthermore, they will want to know how and when you have effectively applied these skills in the past. If you don’t have a lot of job experience, however, it can be difficult to think of instances where you have demonstrated good leadership skills, aside from forming a Biz 1220 study group.

This is when extra-curricular activities become beneficial.

How much is too much?

At university you will likely cross paths with an individual who is not only a pre-Ivey candidate, but is also at the top of their class, captain of their water-polo team, volunteer at Hospice, Starbucks barista, student council president, and leader of the History Society. You watch these people in awe as they effortlessly dart around campus between classes and appointments. Accept that these go-getters are likely freaks of nature, and do not force yourself to emulate them.

It is easy to take on too many responsibilities. When this happens, students often become anxious and overwhelmed by all of their obligations. It is important to remember that your first priority while at school is not your part-time job, your student club, or your social life—it is your education. We pay a staggering one thousand dollars per credit to go to class. By getting too involved and spreading yourself thin you are not doing yourself, your education, your OSAP loan, or your club members/teammates any justice. Students are under enough pressure to perform as it is. Only bite off as much as you can chew and do not try to substitute extra-curriculars for academics.

Which ECA is for you?

Be selective during clubs week. Only pick one or two clubs based on your interests, and apply for a titled position where possible (President, Chief Financial Officer, Captain, Communications Director, Editor, Activities Coordinator, etc.). These positions will look much better than “Participant” or “Club Member” to employers, because titles require a degree of responsibility, leadership, and interpersonal skills.

Try to get involved in clubs that are within your career field. If you want to get into politics or a career that will require public speaking, join a debate team. If you want to get into communication or journalism, write for your school’s paper. Want to be a photographer? Take snapshots for your student council, yearbook committee, or student publication. There are ample ways to fill your portfolio. It is just a matter of discovering which extra-curriculars will be valuable additions to your resume.

Thankfully, Huron University College fosters a great environment for both academic and extra-curricular growth by offering a wide range of clubs.

Opportunities at Huron

The Grapevine Magazine, for example, is a great way to build a portfolio while learning how to write journalistic articles, design layouts, administrate websites, and gain leadership experience as an editor. Huron also offers opportunities for students interested in community development and social justice issues. The WUSC Committee aims to heighten student awareness of local and global issues and organizes fundraisers for a variety of social causes. For those who have a sense of humour and enjoy dramatic arts, the Huron Underground Dramatic Society (HUDS) allows students to use their creativity in sketch comedy shows and improvisation exercises.

There are even academically-based clubs, like the History Society, Get Lit Society, or Psychology Association, which help students network within their academic discipline. The HPA, Huron Psych Association, for example, offers tutoring sessions, guest speakers, and mixers where students and professors can interact outside of the classroom setting. Other clubs include the Huron Comic Book Collective, Campus for Christ, and the Hapkido Club. If all of these fail to appeal to your interests, you always have the option of starting a new club. New clubs crop up each year, and the students who create them have the opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills and a Presidential title.

Huron’s Student Council also appoints over fifty leadership positions each year. If you are interested in business, try applying for the Vice President of Finance, Marketing Commissioner, or Promotions Commissioner positions. Have a passion for fashion or planning parties? The Fashion Show and Formals Commissioner positions allow students to use their business, organizational, leadership, and creative skills to provide students with entertaining events.

To find out more information regarding the positions within student council, please refer to this link: http://myhuron.ca/?page_id=18.

The Power of Positive Networking – Student Guest Blogger

February 27, 2012 3 comments

I have decided that the best way to illustrate how you can effectively use some of the strategies that I am describing to find a career is to have some of my students tell you about what they have done.

Therefore, I am delighted to introduce my first guest blogger.  A dynamic, energetic and highly involved young woman, who, becuase of her determination and fantastic networking skills is going to go far.    Welcome Sonja!

The Power of Positive Networking

Hi there! My name is Sonja Fernandes. I am a 22-year-old student currently studying an Honors Specialization in Philosophy at Huron University College. I wanted to write this blog entry to share my experiences of networking with you, how powerful it can be and how you can do it too! Since this is my last semester, I have been franticly trying to figure out what my next step was. For some reason, I felt as if I had to know what it was. What I realized was that this is not the case. When you put yourself out there, the opportunities you dreamt about will come to you!

I decided I wanted to apply to Graduate School and further my education through a more tangible and career focused Masters Program. I thought this would be a good option for me since I was not exactly sure what career field I wanted to work in. I got my application together and sent it away. The very next day, I attended the Student2Business Networking Conference in London, Ontario. I was curious to see what potential career opportunities were available to me and I wanted to practice my networking skills. Little did I know that this one event would have such a large impact on my life!

I went into the event with zero expectations and I think that is very important. In any situation in life, when we have expectations we are more likely to be disappointed. I attended several workshops during the day and spoke with the Huron University College booth and the Emerging Leaders booth. All gave me wonderful insight into their programs. After this, I was asked by a representative from London Community News to be in a story about the conference. I agreed. After this, I made my way into the conference area to listen to the keynote speech. I didn’t bring my glasses so I needed to sit at the front in order to see the presentation. Guess who decides to sit at the table I chose? The President of the LEDC, Peter White and then the Mayor Joe Fontana! After the keynote speech, I spoke with those at the table and I wanted the keynote speaker to know that she did an amazing job and she if she would be interested in coming to Huron and telling the Huron students. She agreed!!!

I have 4 tips that I would share with anyone who is attending a career event:

1. Dress Appropriately; the way you present yourself to others in crucial to making an impression and standing out of a crowd. Don’t be afraid to be yourself with the colors you chose to wear but make sure that what you are wearing is appropriate for the event and is giving off a perfect reflection of you.

2. Think before you speak; it’s 100% normal to be nervous. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you are contemplating approaching someone? Use that energy to move you toward the person, extend your hand and introduce yourself with 3 sentences; your name, what you do, and why you are at the event. Prepare this in advance. If you take a secound to gather your thoughts before you speak to someone, what you say is going to be impeccable.
3. Be confident; think of those who you will be approaching as new friends instead of potential employers. I compare the behavior to my dog; she doesn’t think twice before approaching another dog to say hello, neither should you! Just don’t sniff their butt, that would be kind of awkward. Try some diaphragmatic breathing to calm your nerves and tell yourself positive affirmations like “I can do this”, “I feel confident”, or “I feel happy”. The simplest way to do this is by smiling. Practice your smile in the mirror before you go. You’d be surprised how much of a serotonin boost you get just from smiling.

4. Try your best; only you know your limits and who you are. Let yourself shine! Show others what you are capable of!

Since the Student2Business Networking event, I have made invaluable connections in the London community that I never thought was possible. The week after the Stundent2Busines, I went to a Lunch about London Career Event at Huron College where I again saw and engaged with the same folks from S2B. From a connection made at that event, I was invited to attend another networking event hosted by BizInc at Western. There I saw the same folks AGAIN and I was starting to get ubiquitous and catching their attention. Never give up and never say no to an opportunity to network! You never know what can come from it.

You are your own PR agency

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Remember:

Everything that you do, every letter or phone call that you make is a representation of you. Because of this it is important to invest some time in developing a tool kit of job search resources that you can use.  Also, it is important to go through a variation of a branding process that will assist you in creating an image that will be appealing to employers.

Branding is a way of distinguishing yourself from competitors. The font, paper, language, colours etc. that you use will assist in creating, in the employers mind, a picture of who you are.  You want to ensure that this picture is true to you and is tailored to the job/industry that you are hoping to enter.  Essentially, your resume, cover letter, and contact cards are your advertising campaign, so you need to take time to think out your strategy, who your target market is, and what your end goal is.  Once you have figured this out creating the materials will be easier and there will be consistency in the message/image that you present.

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