Career, Self-Improvement

Myth: Job Hopping Is Career Suicide – Tan Lili

One of the secrets behind long-term relationships is this: The belief that there is only one person in the world for us is flawed because, in our misguided search for that “perfect someone”, we are likely to give up too quickly on who could have been our life partner. Tan Lili wonders, can the same be said of job hoppers? 

job hopping hopscotchSomeone once told me my resume looks bad. Apparently my list of past work experiences signals I’m a serial job hopper – a major red flag for potential future employers. Considering I was about to submit my resignation letter to said person, her words haunted me for nights.

I’m 110-percent committed to my decade-long relationship and I’ve learned – and am still learning – to love every single part of my boyfriend, warts and all. The grass will always be greener on the other side; you’d merely be in a perpetual pursuit of an impossible dream. So why couldn’t I apply the same groom-your-own-grass-first mentality and stick it out at one job for more than three years? Was she right – was I really a job hopper?

Lucky you.

Lucky you.

Of course, that was before. After days and nights of self-questioning and reflection, I realised that I had been drawing a faulty parallel between the two. It’s true that the idea of finding a perfect partner is flawed because no one is perfect. It’s also not wrong to liken the notion to your job search. “A healthy relationship is about finding alignment. Once you feel there is interest and likeability, you and your partner can work things out,” says Chan Ngee Key, career management coach at Springboard Talent. “The same can be said of those looking for the so-called perfect job. It doesn’t exist. As long as you are interested and you enjoy your role and the company, you can make the best of your choice.”

And there lies the one difference in my case: My relationship is constantly growing; professionally, I wasn’t.

A surefire sign to consider a job change.

A surefire sign to consider a job change, I’d say.

I’m not so sure I like the label “job hopper” because it implies the person is a fickle-minded wanderer. Like my previous jobs, the decision to leave wasn’t made on a whim. As much as I was attached to my then-company, there wasn’t any room for growth – and that was reason enough for me to move on. “A lack of career growth within the organisation, when you can no longer effectively contribute in your role, when your job is taking a toll on your health … these are all legitimate reasons for you to explore a new job,” says Chan. “Job hopping was markedly more frowned upon in the past, but the mindset has evolved over the years. If you left your previous jobs with valid reasons, your resume shouldn’t reflect badly on you as an employee.”

Here are some benefits of regular job change (for the right reasons):

  • You build a valuable network of contacts
  • You become familiar with the inner workings of your industry
  • You adapt quickly to new surroundings
  • You get to pick up new skills
  • You tend to make more money

As for me, leaving a salaried job for Material World is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. It’s been more than a year since its inception, and the room for growth still seems infinite. In hindsight, I don’t regret any of my career choices. The lessons I’ve learned from every one of them are invaluable, and I carry them with me as I move forward along my career path. So, no, I wouldn’t say I’m a job hopper; I’m a smart worker.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Career, Self-Improvement

Make LinkedIn Work For You – Vanessa Tai

If you’re like most people, you probably think LinkedIn is a site for you to list your job experiences and get noticed by recruiters. Truth is, that’s just one aspect of what LinkedIn is about. There are actually plenty of nifty features on LinkedIn that can help you get ahead in your career. For starters, when you log in to your account, you’ll see an up-to-date news feed giving you pertinent industry news, job openings that are relevant for you as well as updates your professional contacts’ careers.

LinkedIn can help you achieve career success

LinkedIn can help you achieve career success.

One feature I really like is the LinkedIn Influencer Programme, where key industry influencers and thought leaders like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Guy Kawasaki pen articles on leadership and other industry-relevant pieces. These articles are often thought-provoking and offer very practical tips that help me see my work in a new perspective.

For more of such articles, check out LinkedIn Channels, which you can Follow to get interesting insights from industry influencers that may be beneficial for your career. For example, as a young female entrepreneur in the digital media industry, I’ll be inclined to Follow these channels: Professional Women, Entrepreneurship & Small Business and Social Media.

Another great feature is LinkedIn Groups, which act like discussion forums of sort. You can join existing groups, or start one on your own. With these groups, you can exchange information with other like-minded folk, get feedback on your work or even source for job contacts. For example, if you’re a freelance writer and you’re looking to work with a freelance designer, you could explore groups like this to help you.

So you see, there’s so much more to LinkedIn than just job hunting. Of course, it’s still an excellent platform to get your professional expertise recognised. According to a recent Bullhorn survey of over 160,000 recruiters, a whopping 97 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find job candidates. And with over one million LinkedIn users in Singapore, it’s high time you spruced up your profile to ensure you get noticed. Here’s how:

Don’t cut and paste your resume

You wouldn’t hand out your resume before introducing yourself, so don’t do it here. Instead, describe your experience and abilities as you would to someone you just met. And write for the screen – in short blocks of text with visual or textual signposts. Add a photo so that people can recognise you (Psst … according to a LinkedIn survey, profiles with a profile photo is seven times more likely to get viewed!)

Be yourself

Unless formality suits your brand, forget professional-speak. Try to speak as if you’re at a conference or a client meeting – friendly but professional.

Write a personal tagline

That line of text under your name? It’s the first thing people see in your profile. It follows your name in search hit lists. It’s your brand. (Note: your e-mail address is not a brand!) Unless your company’s brand (and your job title) is so strong that you can do away with a tagline, you might want to distill your professional personality into a more eye-catching phrase.

Point out your skills

Think of the Skills & Expertise field as your personal search engine optimiser, a way to refine the ways people find and remember you. Adding specific skills and expertise allow you to highlight particular abilities which help you stand out from the crowd. You can also receive endorsements on these skills from your connections, giving you added credibility with that third-party stamp of approval.

Distinguish yourself from the crowd

Pat your own back and others’. Get recommendations from colleagues, clients, and employers who can speak credibly about your abilities or performance. When you approach your contacts for a recommendation, it might be helpful to get them to focus on a specific skill or personality trait that drives their opinion of you. It also helps to get a variety of recommendations – from your boss to peers or clients – it makes the testimonials feel more authentic. And when you do return the favour, be sure to make meaningful comments in your recommendations too. Don’t just copy and paste.

Be active

One of your LinkedIn profile’s key benefits is that it is a living reflection of your professional life which you can keep updated with ease, as opposed to a paper resume which only shows a static snapshot of a point in time. For instance, make sure a new title or job is listed; and list key projects you have completed or professional courses you might be taking.

Staying active on LinkedIn also demonstrates that you are in tune with the going-ons around you – be it around your career, your industry or your connections. Connect promptly with new professional acquaintances to sustain the professional relationship. Express your point of view on an industry trend with a status update, or comment on a connection’s news share to build your credibility.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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