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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Career, Self-Improvement

What Your Boss Wants You To Know – Vanessa Tai

How do you achieve career success? A successful career is not just about having smarts or even knowing the right people … many a time, what your boss thinks of you could make or break your career. In a 2012 JobsCentral Singapore survey on employer-employee work relationships, about 30 percent of respondents said they did not share a good working relationship with their bosses. Reasons cited ran the gamut from unrealistic work demands to a lack of advancement opportunities and autonomy at work.

material world singapore-boss employee comic strip

It stands to reason that if you have a good rapport with your boss, the channels of communication will be more open and you’ll enjoy greater job satisfaction.

So what are some ways to impress your boss? We speak to hiring managers and CEOs across different industries, and here’s what they have to say:

Q: What are the factors during an interview that will lead you to hire / NOT hire the candidate?

“We like it when the interview is more conversational, and the interviewee is sincere and engaging. Things that turn us off include candidates who arrive at the interview unprepared with questions to ask. This shows they haven’t given any thought about Zuji as a company, the position they are applying for, or the travel industry. Other deterrents include name dropping, and complaining about ex-employers or a poor existing work environment. Your talent should speak for itself – there’s no need to bring others into the picture.” – Chua Hui Wan, CEO, ZUJI Singapore

Q: Does the way an employee decorates his/her desk make a difference to you?

“As long as they get their work done and their stuff doesn’t encroach onto their colleagues’ desks, they can have their desk however they want.” – Selena Tan, Owner, Dream Academy

“Personally, I think soft toys are a bad idea as they make the employee look unprofessional. That said, other personal items like photos are fine as they remind the employee who he/she is working for.” – John Fearon, CEO, Dropmysite

Probably not the best way to create a good impression.

Probably not the best way to create a good impression.

Q: What’s the ONE thing that will make an employee stand out to you?  

Happy employees = productive employees

Happy employees = productive employees

“Someone who puts the company’s interests above her own. This shows that the person actually treats the company as his/her own [versus it being just a job.] For such an employee, I would take the time to groom him/her for greater career growth.” – Violet Lim, CEO, Lunch Actually

“Having a pleasant and welcoming disposition. To me, this is the mark of a person’s character and the relationship they have with themselves and others. A person can be the highest trained in their profession but if they’re unable to engage well with others, they don’t tend to produce and sustain as much.” – Jaynie Morris, Health & Wealth Director, Jaymor International 

Q: And your number one tip for employees is … 

“Do not be afraid to ask for help. It is better to ask several times and get it right than to try it out yourself and get it wrong.” Wong Hoong An, Co-founder, Hungrygowhere

“Always think three steps ahead of your boss. When you present a problem to him/her, be sure to have at least three solutions on hand.” – Lu Minru, Owner, 37 Communications

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. She truly believes in finding a job you enjoy (after all, that’s where you’ll be spending most of your time!) Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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