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temporary jobs

Students: How To Leverage Your Temporary Jobs

There can be a stigma around signing up for temporary jobs. It leads to people holding out for the ‘perfect’ job, sometimes with little success. Many people miss out on gaining experience and are overlooking opportunities that could actually help them step onto the career ladder.

National recruiter, Pertemps, has seen the successes that undertaking temporary jobs can bring – especially for graduates and students during breaks in term time. Here is Pertemps’ list of how temporary jobs can help with your job searches further down the line:

Opens Up Connections

The people you meet during your time in temporary jobs can lead to more opportunities than the actual job itself. The right impression with other temps, clients or managers can lead to greater things whether it’s within the company or external opportunities.

Tip: Although you may only be there a short while, get into the mindset that you are there for a long time – it will help you concentrate on doing the best job possible.

Gain Valuable Experience

You will take away experiences that whatever role you’re undertaking. You’ll gain transferrable skills whether you are a cleaner, admin, receptionist or a driver. It will help you decide whether this is something you would like to consider or avoid in future roles.

Tip: Be open minded to new challenges, even if the jobs put forward aren’t in your field – you never know what you will gain.

You’ll Still Have Time For You

As a student you may not want the commitment of a stressful, permanent job during your time off – you may have enough of this in term time. Temping offers the flexibility to earn money with a company that needs an immediate resource, with the expectation that you can go back to your studies afterwards – unless you really fall in love with it!

Tip: Work hard – you may be a temp but you’re still relied upon to deliver for the company and are being paid to do so.

Bolster Your CV

Use the time you have off to bolster your CV. You may apply for jobs after studying where your temp roles have given you invaluable skills. You don’t need to put all of your previous work experience if it’s not all relevant. Even if you’re only working somewhere for 3 months, what you can learn in this time is surprising and can show your work ethic to prospective employers.

Tip: Pick and choose what experience you include on your CV if you’ve lots of temping. Don’t feel obliged to put all your roles on your CV. You may want to draw on other experiences when interviewed.

Reconnect After Each Term Time

As you start to be placed, you’ll become familiar with the culture and way of working, as well as the job role.  You may get opportunities offered to you directly. It saves the company time instead of spending time looking for other people to fill vacancies who know nothing about the business.

Tip: Always leave on good terms, you may need references and even if you’ve not had the best experience, you can still leave the door open. Don’t burn bridges.

Next time you think about what you don’t get from temp work, think about all things you could gain and where this could lead – you may just find your dream company. If you are thinking of going for temp work, then get in touch with Pertemps who have plenty of roles for varying skill sets so you’re sure to find a great opportunity.

Thanks to Nathan Griffiths for this guest post!

work placements

Work Placements: How To Research An Employer

I’m running some workshops at a university this week to prepare students for their work placements. One of the things students can do before their first day is research their employer in more depth. You arrive with a better understanding of what is important to that organisation. Students can use the information to build relationships more quickly and identify with the employer where they can add value.

Questions to explore

work placementsFind the answers to these common questions to give yourself an advantage when starting work placements or internships:

  1. What is the story of this organisation?
  2. What are its stated values?
  3. What is the name of the person who owns or runs the organisation?
  4. What services or products does it provide?
  5. Who are its main users or customers?
  6. What are the benefits for users or customers?
  7. What significant successes has the employer had?
  8. Who are its main competitors?
  9. What are the main challenges in this industry or sector?
  10. What do other people (customers, competitors, employees) say about them?

Where to look

  • Company website: latest news, press releases, products and services, awards, testimonials, ‘about us’, our values.
  • Employer’s social media accounts: follow, comment on posts, say hello.
  • LinkedIn: profiles of the company/people who work there (what keywords do they use?) and discussion groups (what are the hot topics?)
  • Employee reviews: gives you clues as to the real culture.
  • Industry or sector news: relevant websites (including professional institutions), online newsletters, magazines and newspapers, social media.
  • Use PESTLE: what is happening and coming up that affects your employer?
  1. Politics (policies, white papers)work placements
  2. Economics (funding, cutbacks, profit)
  3. Social (demographics, diversity)
  4. Technology (new tools, impact on ways of working)
  5. Legal (laws, regulations)
  6. Environment (green energy, recycling, community) or Education (training, learning, qualifications)

Employers want to see budding professionals on their work placements or internships. Be proactive and show your genuine interest in the organisation. Put in the upfront effort to do your research – you will learn stuff and shape perceptions of you.

purpose

Why The Obsession With Knowing Your Purpose?

Are you in your final year of study at university or recently graduated? Do you ‘know your purpose’? That’s a question posed to students these days. When I look back to when I was 21, I hadn’t a clue. Realisation and insight only came to me much later in life. Asking yourself the question when young can feel loaded with expectations from other people. Is it helpful or does it create unnecessary pressure?

Harvard Professor, Clayton M Christensen, says that the most useful learning anyone can do is to determine their life’s purpose. Then all subsequent goals are a means of living your life’s purpose. Your decisions where you put your precious time, energy and talent will then shape your life’s strategy.

What do you think about that? Is this your fundamental starting point or something to put on the back burner? What you want from a job or career will change over the course of your life. Having a clear, unchanging purpose in life may feed the need for certainty in an uncertain world. You could see it as a rudder to help navigate the uncharted waters of your career; or as an anchor that stops you losing your way in rough seas; or simply a reflection of what you love being and doing.

Knowing Your Purpose

The mantra of knowing your purpose suggests that everyone has one or needs one. And why only one? It can be motivational, create urgency, maintain momentum and fuel action. The will to succeed depends on how heartfelt and compelling your purpose is. But how realistic is that when your life experience is limited? In my experience, knowing your purpose at 21 is the exception rather than the rule.

Knowing your purpose comes from within and it can also emerge through experience. It might be there internally and external factors light the dry tinder. Ken Robinson,in his book The Element, tells the story of Matt.

From a young age when he made up stories using little dinosaur figures, Matt knew he was going to do this for the rest of his life. Everybody else wanted him to follow a predictable series of stages – go to school, go to college, get qualifications and get a job.

But Matt knew his life’s purpose was to draw cartoons forever and he never gave up hope that he would succeed, though he never considered it a viable career option. He didn’t think he’d ever get paid for it, didn’t think he drew well enough, but he knew it made him happy.

When he left school, Matt moved to a big city and did several mundane jobs like washing dishes, being a waiter and a driver. But he was optimistic and eventually his comic strip got placed in a weekly newspaper.

This led to an opportunity to pitch to a film company for a half hour animation in a TV show. When he was standing outside the presentation waiting to go in, he had no idea what he was going to propose. But being flexible and adaptable he came up with something that changed his and other people’s lives.

What Groening proposed was the Simpsons and the rest is history.

A Sense of Purpose

During emerging adulthood, having a sense of purpose seems to me more meaningful and attainable than having to know your purpose. For example, your instincts might be to help people in need, to make a lot of money, or to create or build something. It’s not fully formed or necessarily specific. That instinct can be shaped by a combination of nature and nurture. Understanding and recognising your personal values and beliefs are a good starting point for shaping your sense of purpose.

Being Purposeful

Another perspective is to be purposeful and intentional. It’s living more in the present than the future or the past. Throwing yourself into a job or career direction and seeing where it takes you. For example, working on a 6-months project with a clear goal and end point. It may speak to your sense of purpose and begin to stimulate a deeper life purpose. Because being purposeful is action-oriented, it helps you move on from a passive, circular internal dialogue about what your purpose might be.

Many people don’t end up doing something they thought they would with their working lives. Two-thirds of today’s graduates don’t use their degrees in their jobs. We are going to be changing careers more often. If you know your purpose now, great, go for it. If you don’t, that’s OK! Be purposeful and get a sense of your purpose – explore the world, find out about yourself along the way and seize opportunities.

Motivation

Motivation: Driving In The Sunshine And The Rain

What drives you to taken action, achieve something or move in a specific direction? Where does that drive come from? How can you tap into your motivation more often to take you where you want to go and to be who you want to be? You are in the driving seat of your job and career come rain or shine. So it pays to recognise what motivates you and the conditions where you flourish best.

The link to job and career

Knowing what motivates you is important to being employable because:

  • You are more likely to be motivated in an environment which matches your personal values.
  • You are more likely to be motivated by what you prefer doing, feel energised by or are good at.
  • It gives employers clues to your attitude, character and how to get the best from you.
  • Employers want to know your ‘why’ because motivation is one of the ingredients essential to performance. 

You are likely to face questions at a job interview such as:

  • What gets you out of bed in the morning?Motivation
  • What motivates or demotivates you?
  • When are you at your best?
  • What do you struggle with? What gets you down?Motivation
  • How do you create the conditions to motivate others?
  • How will you motivate this team?
  • What has worked for you/with others in the past?
  • Give an example of when you recovered from a setback?

Motivation is internal

Motivation is about the energy and commitment you bring to doing something. It’s internal and you do it because you want to. There is always an assessment tool out there to help you if you struggle to identify what motivates you. Here are some questions to help you start pinpointing what gets you going:

  • When am I at my best? How do I behave when I am at my best? What mindset do I have?
  • What is my natural disposition? Am I more optimistic or pessimistic? How does it help me?
  • When have my personal values helped drive me to successfully achieve something?
  • When have I gone beyond what is expected of me? What would I do for free?
  • What have I done off my own back to improve myself?
  • What demotivates me? How do I feel? How do I behave? How do I cope?

Motivating is external

You find things motivating when that energy and commitment is released by the conditions or environment you’re in. That’s external and it influences your behaviour. Here are some examples of motivating conditions that help people to be at their best. Which ones help you the most?

  • Enough income (to pay the bills, pursue outside work interests etc)
  • Stability and security
  • Belonging, acceptance, being part of a group, team spirit
  • Recognition from others, reputation, prestige, appreciation
  • Belief in your potential, investment in your growth, personal support
  • Development and advancement opportunities
  • Having responsibility, authority, power
  • Able to participate, voice your views, be heard
  • A culture of learning, discovery, creativity, possibility, empowerment, trust

motivation

Like Maslow before him, career analyst Dan Pink has shown from research that when people are paid enough (in their eyes), then the work itself becomes their focus of attention. They are more likely to do things willingly and off their own back (or to get out of bed in the morning) when they have autonomy, mastery and purpose.

You know what I’m going to say… if you found this post motivating, what action will you take in your job or career to be at your best more of the time?

personality

Personality: How To Bottle Your Essence For Employers

What is personality and how can you bottle your essence for employers so they know what they are getting? One of the mantras of personal development is ‘know thyself’. Employers are keen to know who they are employing and what they bring. Most people spend their whole lives wrestling with who they are. It’s not a simple task, especially when you are an emerging adult and life has so far only thrown a few of its challenges at you. Personality has become a key differentiator between job candidates of similar experience and qualifications.

We’re all unique – just like everyone else! John Allen Paulos, Mathematician

One of the problems in talking about personality is the dichotomous nature of so many explanations. For example, nature v nurture, traits v types, character v personality. There are endless inventories, questionnaires and assessment tools designed to increase your self-awareness and give you a language to articulate who you are. The majority draw from current and past behaviours and preferences. The more difficult questions are about your potential and who you might be or become.

All of these well-intentioned approaches are only ever a guide. We are far richer, more complex and mysterious than a questionnaire. Looking inwardly is one obvious way to explore your personality. Looking outwardly to see how others see you is also helpful to reflect back those blind spots we all have.

Personality and your many selves

Why does it feel like we have several different selves? Here’s a way of looking at it:

personality

We come into this world with a unique nature (core self). Our inborn tendencies develop as we experience the world and our characters and brains, as neuroscience is enlightening us, get shaped by the environment (contextual self). We’re all unique so we develop at different times and speeds. According to research different mental abilities peak at different ages from 18 to 70 plus. We play up to or ignore aspects of our core self depending on our self-awareness or the choices we make (developed self). Although our core may prefer to see the world in a particular way, we learn how to view things from other perspectives. 

Part of being employable means making the most of your various selves – understanding your personality, being adaptable and flexible to different situations, and continuously developing the behaviours, mindsets, skills and knowledge needed for the workplace.

5 ways to show off your personality

People sometimes say that someone “has a bit of personality” or a spark about them. They recognise their core attributes because they are clear and distinct. An unsaid comparison with being ordinary or even dull is perhaps implied. If you want to give off your sparks to employers:

  1. Show, more than tell – people can’t always see you are organised and analytical or may not believe you are spontaneous and empathetic just because you say so. What can you do to show them in the way you apply for the job and engage with employers?
  2. Join the dots up – knowing and saying you are a creative person isn’t enough. So what? Explain how that will meet the job requirements and help the employer.
  3. Use other people’s words to describe you, especially if you are naturally modest. How do other’s see you at your best?
  4. Psychometric profiles use words or phrases you can pinch if you struggle to articulate your personality. A health warning! No questionnaire will ever be the ‘truth’. It can only ever be a starting point for exploring yourself. Understanding yourself is an eternal audit.
  5. Just be yourself with skill – obvious I know, but incredibly powerful when you feel anxious or your head is too full of dos and don’ts. Nobody wants to employ a robot.

Showing an employer you at your best will always be a challenge during the process of getting a job, keeping a job and making a career move. Capture your essence and mix with a dose of confidence for the sweet smell of success.

Intern

How Not To Be Seen As ‘Just The Intern’

Once you manage to secure that all important work placement or internship, it’s time to start working away at shedding the tag of ‘just the intern’. While it’s no longer true that most companies treat the intern like a glorified tea and coffee server, it is important to stand out from the crowd if you want to be asked back for one of their graduate jobs.

Here’s our rundown of the best ways to make sure that you get noticed, and for all the right reasons.

Do your research

As with any job, the best way of impressing your new boss is to make sure that you do your research on the company. Not only will this make you look invested and prepared if you’re asked about the company, it will also help you to understand what sort of culture to expect and allow you to adjust accordingly.

Check out the company’s website, blog or social media to get a good idea of the services or products they offer and how they do it. Social media is a great avenue for understanding a company’s culture and whether to expect a more corporate environment or a more relaxed office space. This way you can get a better idea of how you’ll be expected to communicate and work with your colleagues and senior management.

If you can find any recent news features on the company, even better. These will give a genuine idea of what life can be like working there, or will detail the image that the company is interested in projecting. Either way you will have learnt something valuable.

Be realistic and organised with your deadlines

Being an intern is about being proactive and saying yes. At the same time, be aware of putting too much on your plate. This isn’t about turning down opportunities or duties. It is about setting expectations, making people aware of your other tasks and asking your manager’s advice on what to prioritise. This way you’ll demonstrate that you’re capable of managing your time, you’re not afraid to be realistic and to take charge of your workload.

More importantly, you’re much less likely to drop the ball or let people down by missing deadlines or forgetting about work.

Offer something new

InternThe best way to stand out as more than ‘just the intern’ is to make yourself indispensable to your new company. Offer to fill a skills void that they’re struggling with. This could be anything from the important hard skills like being able to speak a foreign language or particular IT expertise, to being known for sharing great industry articles or knowing all about the best restaurants in the area. Once you become the go-to-guy or gal for something, it’ll make the prospect of you leaving much more difficult for a company to bear.

Consider how you introduce yourself

One of the most important ways of handling how you are perceived is about how you introduce yourself both internally and externally. If you’re constantly playing down your role as an intern, people will often unfairly presume you’ll be unable to help them. They may ask to be passed up the food chain, making it harder for you to impress.

It’s not about lying or artificially inflating your position, but about telling the truth in a different way. Explain that you’re ‘working with the sales team’ or ‘a part of the marketing team’ and you’ll find that you’re more able to wield influence.

Find out colleagues’ interests

And keep up to date with them! A great way to establish yourself with your new colleagues is to take a keen interest in what they care about. Make it another reason for people to miss you when your internship period is up. Whether you’re the one who can be relied on for the latest on sports, gossip, or the latest music and film, it probably won’t be a deal breaker. When you’re trying to stick your head above the parapet it is all about these sorts of marginal gains.

Keep track of your wins

Any business will be interested in the way that you added value – whether it’s tasks that you’ve specifically actioned or accomplishments as part of a team. If companies are looking to hire a graduate, they want to see a return on investment. The better you can demonstrate this, the higher chance you have of standing out from being just another intern. By making sure you keep track of all of your successes you’ll have all the data to back it up.

Don’t turn down networking opportunities

Even if networking or internal social events are not your strong suit, it’s time to pull your socks up and get stuck in. They can be a great way of meeting people from across the company that you might not otherwise meet, including senior management.

It can be a great way of getting advice and impressing people who may have a say in whether you stay. Meeting a cross-section of the company is important. What could make you stand out is the wide range of voices from receptionists and security guards right up to senior management calling for you to stay.

Ask someone you admire out for lunch

Standing out from the crowd of interns is often about being as proactive as possible. Ask for that mid-term review, meet as many people as possible, and even consider asking someone senior out for lunch. If you present it as an opportunity to pick their brains, many managers will be flattered and happy to offer advice. It will earmark you as proactive about both your own career and the best way of benefiting the company.

Most importantly it’s a great opportunity to get specific internal advice about how to stand out as more than ‘just the intern’.

Matt Arnerich works as a content writer for Inspiring Interns, the UK’s leading graduate jobs and internships provider. Check out their job listings for graduate jobs in Manchester, or take a look at their blog for more graduate careers advice.

Different cultures

Podcast: Learning From Different Cultures At University

What do you get when you mix international relations, mentoring and diversity together? A career in careers advice, in the case of Monira Ahmed. She is a self-confessed straggler – someone who took a while to find what she wanted to do after graduating. After a series of random jobs, she pointed her interests, transferrable skills and post-graduate qualification towards supporting students from different cultures in higher education. Fourteen years later, she is the proud winner of a national Careers Champion award for her work at the Universities of Central Lancashire and Liverpool. I caught up with her for Learning to Leap’s latest podcast.

We talked about:

  • How an inspirational lecture on diversity sparked her career journey to help young people overcome obstacles and succeed.
  • The importance of transferrable skills and languages.
  • The challenges facing International students in the UK, especially work experience.
  • The economic, social and cultural contributions International students bring to university life.
  • The opportunities that exist to learn from different cultures within a university setting.
  • Tips for being a global graduate.

Different cultures

Click here for the podcast

Monira has a great personal blog called Everything Careers that I thoroughly recommend. There you will find a more in-depth account of what led to her winning her award. You can also pick up on the issues we discussed and more by connecting with her via LinkedIn and Twitter (@MoniraAhmed1).

Look out next month for another stimulating podcast with interesting people in the jobs, careers and employability space.

critical thinking

Critical Thinking Matters: Why And What It Is

Employers ask wacky interview questions. That’s according to a recent investigation of thousands of UK job candidates by Glassdoor. A software engineer is asked to guess how he would fit an elephant in a fridge. A telecoms manager is asked how many people born in 2013 are named Gary. Fair or unfair, employers want to find effective critical thinkers for their business. These questions put them on the spot to see how they problem-solve in the moment. What is critical thinking and why does it matter?

Cognitive readiness

Cognitive abilities fill the top 10 skills employers will need by 2020. We are now living in a VUCA environment – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It’s a challenge for us all to make sense of what is happening and might happen in our job, career and business. Fortune-telling is a diminishing career path. Navigating is a growth area.

All jobs need critical thinking to make decisions. Here are some examples: where and how to spend resources in health care (think of Greater Manchester region this week); nurses involvement in the design of healthcare interventions; the impact of regulation and pension planning in financial services; the impact of robotics in technology; workforce planning arising from huge demographic shifts; teachers planning learning for more diverse school populations; the impact on your business and job of staying or leaving the EU.

Dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity is as much a mindset issue as a skill-set one. The jargon is cognitive readiness – the mental and emotional preparedness for uncertainty. Pearson has identified the factors underpinning cognitive readiness including:

Critical thinking

Cognitive readiness is the foundation for critical thinking. Pearson defines critical thinking as:

Thinking logically with clarity and precision so you can Recognise assumptions, using an approach that is objective and accurate to Evaluate arguments, focusing on information that is relevant to Draw conclusions.

Their RED model provides a framework to think about your thinking. Critical thinking is the raw material for:

  • Strategic thinking – what direction do we go in and how do we get there?
  • Creativity – how can we capitalise on changes in technology?
  • Problem-solving – what has got us here won’t get us there, so now what?
  • Organisation/planning – how do we develop informed plans?
  • Openness – who do we involve to tap into their thinking?
  • Decision-making – what are our options and on what basis do we decide?

Developing critical thinking

Here are 80 ways to think better from Critical-thinkers.com (subscribe to their excellent newsletter). Below is a cool infographic for educators via mentoringminds.com.

critical thinking

Do you want more free resources to help you develop as a critical thinker? It’s a no-brainer! Take a look at my Employability Hub site and put ‘critical thinking’ in the search bar. 

blogging

Blogging Secrets: My Top 10 Blogbusters For New Writers!

This week’s post is about sharing some of the soft and hard skills that work for me in blogging. These tips are for students, graduates and professionals. Do you want to blog for job, career and business reasons?

People sometimes ask me for advice and direction about blogging. I’ve mentored a few who lacked the confidence or know-how to start. I’ve also supported hundreds of people by sharing their well-crafted words with my networks. You can view blogs from inexperienced students and graduates on my Employability Hub website. They get the chance to experiment with style and content with feedback.

bloggingIt’s rewarding when someone’s potential flourishes and you know you have played a part. Two examples stand out, in particular. Caroline was a final-year student about to complete her dissertation. She lacked confidence and struggled to find work experience. With a little encouragement from me, she took the leap to write her first post. A heartfelt piece about her personal struggles of being in professional limbo. The act of writing and getting published on my site had a motivating effect on her. Caroline landed a graduate-level job soon after graduating. She has developed into a confident young professional.

Monira is a careers adviser at a university. She helps international students and especially those from underprivileged and diverse ethnic groups. We struck up a relationship of mutual interests via social media. It took her a year to take her first steps in sharing her wisdom and experience through blogging. I was humbled when Monira thanked me in public for helping her get started. Read about her journey from newbie blogger to Careers Champion national award winner.

Blogging: the why, what, how

Why write a blog?

Writing as thinkingI started blogging about five years ago. I wanted to make sense of my thinking on work issues that interested me. I have a driving energy and commitment to help young people learn to leap in their jobs and careers. I discovered a hidden talent. A year and 52 blogs later, I had the basis of a non-fiction book and the rest is history as they say. My blogs now get four figure views each month, I’ve guest blogged for many other sites and been named in several top bloggers lists like YouTernHashtagCV and CoburgBanks.

Consider your purpose in blogging. Reasons might include to:

  • inform
  • stimulate debate
  • raise issues through challenge and support
  • articulate a view (your own or other people’s)
  • enhance your professional profile
  • build your reputation around a particular subject or business
  • promote yourself as an expert/specialist/thought leader
  • be influential

What is your purpose in writing a blog?

Think audience

Who are you writing for? Make it clear in each post. Show continuity over time so that your intended audience comes back time and again. Build your reputation by being consistent with your content and the timing of your blogs. For my own website, I post on the same day every week. For other sites, I post monthly such as on LinkedIn and for Careers In Government.

What to write about

writers blockThere is hardly a day goes by when I don’t get an idea for a blog. Words don’t fail me. I put this down to observing and noticing things, having conversations and being curious. My Master’s degree tutor once gave me some wise advice – see everything as data. This post was prompted by a dinner party!

Filter your daily experiences through a blogging mindset. Ask questions. Show interest. Listen – what do people in your chosen field want to know (that you know well), learn, improve or resolve? What is most important to them? I’ve learned that tapping into emotions with genuine intent works best. My most popular post on LinkedIn moved people.

Types of blog

I write ‘how to’ posts on my website with a Call to Action at the end. I write ‘opinion’ pieces on LinkedIn with a question at the end. Many of my website posts are shorter than the long form of LinkedIn. Facts blogs or Opinion blogs, or a mix of the two? What type of blogs do you want to write?

Just start

The thought of thrusting your first post on an unsuspecting world can feel a little scary. The bloggingself-limiting beliefs kick in – Who is interested in what I’ve got to say? What am I going to write about? Other people’s blogs are so much better than mine, I’m going to sound stupid.

You may be right and few people read your early posts. So what? It gives you a chance to practise and hone your skills. There is never a right or wrong time to start. Nothing will change if you don’t start. Get it out to get going!

Test and learn

Hone your craft over time. Pick up different ways of doing things. Experiment. Learn from other bloggers, and your successes and failures. Accept that you will make mistakes and see that as part of the iterative process of learning. Ask for feedback from people you trust and who you know will give you an honest opinion.

You may start out with a direction in mind. It’s OK to shift to a different path in the light of experience. Remain flexible and let go if necessary.

Let your voice find you

My background is in organisational research, leadership and management development and coaching. They inform my blogging voice. An analytical bent combined with a love of social media and learning. I raise questions on people development issues using real world experiences and open-source research. I support and challenge my reader through a coaching and mentoring approach. A stylistic cross between Mark Zuckerberg and Malcolm Gladwell (but not in their league)!

Think about how your strengths can inform your writing style. There is a danger of writing to an inauthentic formula based on too much digital marketing advice. Maintain your independence and authority on your chosen blogging area. Don’t be a pale imitation of someone else. Be your own blogger.

Images

Visual is king and queen. Text is dull on its own. Add images or insertblogging videos into your blog. Vlog, if you have the confidence and it suits your style. Copyright issues can be a minefield. Using Google Images or Pinterest can by a risk. For Google, click on Settings, Advanced, Usage Rights and Free to Share to identify images that won’t infringe copyright. As an alternative, use sites like Pixabay and Pexels for free stock photos (like this one).

I prefer to use my own photos to avoid the problem. As with content, I look for blog image opportunities as I go about my daily activities at work and play. I took the featured image of this post on a building site in Portugal and added the text. Sometimes a photo prompts a blog idea. Look around you and see what metaphors you can use to illustrate a point.

Technology is your friend

Technology has been empowering and provided platforms to amplify my voice. I’m a reflective introvert. Blogging allows me to think through my ideas and what I want to say. I’ve integrated my blog posts into my website using Wordpress. There are plenty of other free blogging platforms like Tumblr. You can blog away without a website on LinkedIn and Medium, with Facebook following soon. Here are some great tips from @CareerSherpa on blogging on LinkedIn.

Other online tools I use include a blog headline analyser and a copy editor. CoSchedule scores your headline quality. It rates its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic and SEO value. Hemingway makes your writing bold and clear. It highlights long, complex sentences and common errors.

Share and share alike

What are the secrets to getting your posts read? The quality of your content. Timeliness. Posting on many platforms. Targeting your chosen audience. Reciprocity –  the power of other people sharing your posts and returning the compliment. Join Triberr – a wonderful community of bloggers who love sharing each other’s posts. In the spirit of generosity, here are some more resources for new bloggers.

What tips would you add?

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innovative

Being Innovative With Old Wine In New Bottles

We assume sometimes that new means exciting and old means dull. Getting something right, like a repeatable process that works, can feel boring. Productive doesn’t always mean energising. What it does do is free up capacity to be innovative and trying different, more exciting things.

So you need both – processes that work time and time again delivering what is needed and ideas for improvement. Understanding this can help your job performance and career strategy.

What repeatable processes do you need to have in place to be effective at job searching and career planning? For example:

  • A full bio and career narrative that you can draw from to create tailored CVs in a timely and efficient way
  • A range of online profiles relevant to specific platforms
  • An easily accessible portfolio of your work and achievements
  • Regular online contributions (e.g. your blog, discussions in LinkedIn groups, engaging on Twitter)

Getting these in place so you can easily update, search, find and schedule frees up your time for being innovative.

How does being innovative in your approach help with getting hired and finding a career pathway you really want?

Innovative bottling

InnovativeInnovation is the process of having an idea that makes a positive difference and gets put into practice. Your idea may not be new in other contexts, but you may have exactly what an employer needs at the right time and the right place.

How can you show your innovative ability to a potential employer?

Here are 5 ways to ensure old wine in new bottles is appreciated:

  1. Revisit what has worked for you before or elsewhere. Test it out under different conditions and situations. How would it work with this role or employer?
  2. Start with the end in mind and challenge the status quo: ask ‘why are things done this way?’, ‘what if…?’
  3. Differentiate the symptoms and the causes of the problem you are trying to solve or the pain you are trying to remove for an employer. Keep asking ‘why?’ to get to the bottom of the problem.
  4. Take the magpie test – are you going with an idea because it’s shiny and new, because it makes you look good and your primary driver is to make your mark? Or, are you going with it because it meets a genuine need and benefits the company and its customers?
  5. Identify where your strengths lie in the process of innovation – are you the one who comes up with ideas, the one who knows how to communicate, market or sell an idea, or the one who is great at implementing an idea? Identify stories that show how you contribute best.

Everyone can contribute to being innovative. Match the right wine with the right meal by bringing the best of your experience to job and career.