Personal brands are not just for the Elon Musks and David Beckhams of this world (to name but two celebrities whose brands are vitally important to their status). With long term corporate careers being a thing of the past for many of us, a clear personal brand will help carry you from one temporary employment situation to another.

Building a personal brand is about defining what you are good at and building your reputation on those strengths. Here are the key steps to take in developing your personal brand.

1. Start by working out what you do best
It could be one or two skills or maybe it’s a list of five characteristics. Think about your capabilities and the special attributes and qualities you bring. What do people always come to you for? What is your specialism? Be honest about your strengths and focus on those.

2. Work out your value to the industry
You need to understand your value in order to promote it. So think about how you personally benefit the industry. Show that you’re aware of what’s happening in your field and prove that you’re better than the next industry expert.

3. Build up your online presence
Develop your profiles on all the major social networks; set up your own web page or blog; contribute to groups; write a white paper; share useful content. Make sure that you keep your profiles up-to-date and aim to be consistent, conveying the same tone and message throughout your online profiles.

4. Be the solution to the problem
Listen carefully and research thoroughly to find out what people really want and then highlight your skills to match this. Cite your successes and gain recommendations from others to build up credibility and trustworthiness.

5. Deliver on your brand promise
Whatever you say you can do or are going to do you must deliver on it if anyone else is going to believe in your brand. To truly impress and gain people’s trust you’ll have to ‘live your brand’, ensuring that what people perceive is what they get.

6. Become a role model
When you have a strong, positive personal brand, you’ll gain a following from those that support you. You will become a role model. Being surrounded by successful, talented people is a testament to your strengths as a leader.

Whenever you interact with someone, think about your personal brand. Be mindful of how you affect others and how they respond to you and always live up to the expectations that you set.

Reference: CIO; Forbes; inc; Abintegro
13 Jul 2017

Being resilient means having the ability to successfully deal with failure and having the strength to persevere in difficult situations. Resilient people are often more likely to take risks, are determined and can motivate those around them. In a working environment, these are great skills to have. No wonder then that employers are actively seeking out resilient professionals.

When it comes to job interviews, employers might test candidates’ resilience by asking them about past experiences in which their ability to cope with difficult situations was put to the test. These questions can be tricky to answer, so thorough preparation is key. Here are five example questions and how best to answer them.

1. What is your greatest failure? How did you move on from it?
Besides finding out what you define as failure, your interviewer will want to see if you can admit to your weaknesses and how you dealt with them. In your answer, present a concrete example of a real failure. Don’t dwell on what went wrong or how you should’ve done things differently, but describe how you dealt with it and what you learnt from it. Show your interviewer that you were able to turn a bad situation into an opportunity to grow and improve.

2. Can you remember a recent stressful situation at work? How did you deal with this?
Your interviewer will be looking to find out what stresses you and how you cope under pressure. Pick an instance where you took positive control of the situation, facing the problem head on. Talk about some of the coping mechanisms for stress that you employed, and how you ultimately diffused the situation.

3. Have you ever been in a situation where you were close to giving up? How did you overcome this?
Resilience is all about withstanding challenging situations and coming out stronger. Your interviewer will want to hear about an instance where you showed perseverance and tenacity. Whether you talk about a challenging work project or a difficult career change, show that you are able to motivate yourself to push through challenges and come up with innovative solutions.

4. Can you describe a difficult team situation you have been in? How did you react to this?
Another key aspect of being resilient is having the ability to motivate others as much as yourself. An interviewer will want to know if you possess the skills to lead a team to reach its fullest potential, even when the chips are down. You might answer this question by talking about an instance where you saved a group project from the brink by taking charge of the team and effectively delegating tasks, inspiring team members to carry on and get the job done.

5. Have you ever turned a dream into a reality?
This question is all about your willingness to take risks. Especially when it comes to leadership roles, interviewers will want to know if a candidate has the vision to think outside the box and the guts to bring this vision to life. When answering this question, don’t emphasise the outcome but the process. How did you face the challenge? What led you to push through? Your resilience is measured by your determination to go after a certain goal even if the odds aren’t entirely in your favour.

There are a number of ways in which an interviewer might try to gauge your resilience, and being aware of some of the questions they might ask and rehearsing your answers is an important step in your interview prep. When it comes to the instances you refer to, avoid getting too personal. While that 10k you once ran might be a perfect example of your mental and physical stamina, it doesn’t necessarily say anything about how resilient you are in a professional environment.

Reference: Coburg Banks; Forbes; Abintegro
06 Jul 2017

Family, friends, colleagues: when it comes to job hunting advice, it seems everyone’s an expert. With so many wannabe career advisers out there, it’s often hard to sort genuine, good advice from the hearsay or folklore. Here are some of the most commonly touted falsehoods to watch out for. 

 
1. Your CV is all that really matters
The most dazzling CV can only go so far without a strong interviewing technique and the right interpersonal skills. Spend as much time honing these as you do on polishing your CV.

2. Networking isn’t a necessity
It is estimated that 70% of positions are found through networking. Building a rapport with a potential employer helps put a face to your application and can give you a foot up on the competition.

3. Job-hoppers will be prosecuted
With many companies now operating a ‘flat’ structure, employees are increasingly moving between firms in order to climb the professional ladder. This has made job-hopping a much more common and accepted practice.

4. Specialised knowledge trumps transferable skills
A big part in switching jobs or careers successfully is realising the value of your existing skills alongside specific sector expertise. You shouldn’t be put off if your experience doesn’t exactly fit the job description.

5. Lower your expectations in a down-turn
Employment trends are relatively transient, meaning you would often do better to hold out for something you really want, rather than the first thing that comes along.

6. Lowering your salary demands will boost your chances
Likewise, you should resist temptation to demand a lower salary in order to improve your chances of success, which can make you appear desperate and lacking confidence in your abilities.

7. The more applications the better
A scatter-gun approach to job applications is ill-advised as employers can usually spot generic, one-size-fits-all cover letters a mile off. It’s always worth investing the time to make sure each application is specifically tailored to the position.

8. No one appreciates a pushy job seeker
You could do the courteous thing and wait until a job has been posted before contacting a company; however, the chances are the post will have already been circulated within the company by then.

9. Patience is a virtue
By the same token, sitting there waiting for the phone to ring won’t always get you very far. Many employers will expect you to follow up on your application, so get dialling.

10. Being fired or laid off = career suicide
Interviewers will be sensitive to the fact that employees leave jobs for any number of reasons. Be up front about your dismissal and the reasons behind it and it shouldn’t prove a deal breaker.

The main thing when conducting your job search is to go with your own instincts. Of course, there are others who have been there and done it before, but their experiences shouldn’t necessarily determine your own.

Reference: USnews; Business Insider
28 Jun 2017

According to a study by Princeton psychologists it only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. They also discovered that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions; they just reinforce them. A scary thought when you’re about to walk into an interview!

Now interviewers may not make a hiring decision in the blink of an eye, but according to a recent survey by TotalJobs a staggering 19% of them admit to only taking one minute to decide whether they want to hire a candidate or not.

Given our natural tendency as humans to make snap decisions about another person, here’s our guide as to what you should be thinking about to counteract any negative judgement at various stages of that initial appraisal:

In the blink of an eye: appearance
Despite any outrage we may feel at being judged on our outward appearance, if you show up looking sloppy, a potential employer might interpret this as your being disorganised, or might take it as a sign that you don’t take the opportunity seriously.

Instead, aim to dress professionally and appropriately. This does not necessarily mean you have to show up in formal business attire: investigate the company culture to get a sense of the dress code and tailor your look to fit.

In the first 7 seconds: body language
Body language makes up 55% of communication, so before you open your mouth your interviewer may already be drawing some initial conclusions about you based on the firmness of your handshake, the amount of eye contact you make and any nervous gestures you might display.

To avoid being considered evasive, disconnected, or just plain rude, check your posture, avoid crossing your arms, maintain the right level of eye contact and smile.

In the first minute: attitude
Remember, a potential employer is looking to hire you as a person that they might actually have to work with so any indication of a negative attitude will probably ruin your chances from the start. However, you have many opportunities to convey your positive attitude.

From arriving on time, being courteous and friendly from the get go, relaying your enthusiasm for the role and being yourself throughout you’ll convey professionalism, positivity and confidence.

And beyond: Preparation
If you’ve thoroughly prepared for an interview it’ll show in everything you say and do; a lack of preparation will do too and will probably cost you. According to the TotalJobs survey, not showing a thorough understanding of the job you’re applying to is regarded as the biggest mistake you can make.

So make sure you do your research. Look at the company website and social media pages to learn about the overall culture, and go back to the job ad to get a full understanding of the role. Rehearse some frequently asked questions to prevent being caught off-guard.

First impressions are tricky. While many employers might rely on them, they don’t necessarily have to be well-founded. With only limited time to prove yourself during an interview you’ll want to make sure that you get it right from the get-go.

The good news is that you are entirely in charge of the image you present to your interviewer, and with a bit of practice and preparation you can ensure that each second of that first crucial minute and the ones to follow work in your favour.

Reference: Forbes; Telegraph; 4-traders; Association for Psychological Science; Abintegro22 Jun 2017

Resilience might be way down your ‘list of skills to be aware of’ if you are job hunting right now, but it is a vital requirement for modern professionals. With job security and a standard career path less and less attainable across many industries, a capacity to handle uncertainty and adversity has never been more important (or in demand). 

Such is the case that many employers will try to find out about your resilience through interview questions on how you’ve handled stress, pressure and failure in the past. Additionally, job hunting itself can be an incredibly demoralising experience if you let it. Focussing on building your resilience can make all the difference to your inner confidence and success rate across many areas in your life.

This might be easier said than done though – to achieve resilience means possessing the right blend of self-awareness and inner strength, and the flexibility to adapt to changes in circumstances and surroundings. It’s rather like a palm tree: a strong, firmly rooted base supporting an element that’s far more flexible and able to cope with being blown around by different winds.

Here are three key building blocks that can help you towards developing a resilient professional persona:

1. Positivity
Having a positive view of yourself and the world around you is the basis for developing resilience. Pay attention to the messages you send yourself throughout the day. If you find yourself making negative assumptions about yourself or anything around you, consciously switch to a positive thought. With practice this should become automatic. That will keep you grounded, rooted like a tree, and give you the stability you need for a positive mindset.

2. Commitment
Get to know yourself and recognise what is important to you. Have a clear idea of your future aspirations and where you want to go in your career. You need to be willing to commit to your goals and invest in making them happen. Knowing what is important to you and being committed to your goals strengthens you in your core. Don’t forget however, that even the best-laid plans can sometimes go off course or need to be abandoned altogether. Make like a palm tree and allow yourself flexibility to go with the flow when things don’t go to plan.

3. Control
Control means being aware of the situations or areas in your life you can influence as well as recognising those that you can’t. Being able to distinguish between the two will allow you to focus your energy on the things that are most important or achievable. It will give you the flexibility to prioritise your goals and adapt to different circumstances.

Remember that in order to be resilient you also need to be healthy in mind and body so pay attention to your general well-being, take proper breaks, eat well, and look after the relationships that support you. When it comes to resilience it’s about knowing that you can’t stop the waves, but that you can certainly learn how to surf them.

15 Jun 2017
Reference: Abintegro

When you google yourself, what happens? Usually one of four things:

a) It’s exactly as you expected and you are rather pleased with yourself;

b) all the results are nothing to do with you and it appears that, in fact, you don’t exist at all;

c) what does come up has mistakes in it or isn’t up to date;

d) you want to cover your face in shame.

Now imagine a recruiter has just googled your name and come up with the same results as you.

If the answer was a) go to the top of the class. You have nothing to worry about. If it was b), c) or d) fear not! The following tips are here to help you:

For no online presence:
Turn to LinkedIn. Create a profile, with all your relevant professional history and a snappy summary. Then start connecting with friends, colleagues, former colleagues and bosses, old university pals and people relevant to the business area you’re in or interested in. If you’re feeling brave join some LinkedIn groups and start engaging with the community.

In addition to LinkedIn, check out some other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, or consider creating a personal blog on a website like Tumblr or WordPress.

For a presence with mistakes or that’s incomplete:
Check all your online profiles and make sure all the relevant information is there: recent jobs, interesting accomplishments, examples of your work and contact information. Also ensure that all your different websites and profiles are connected by including links on all of them.

Be diligent in checking for mistakes and keep your profiles up to date. Contact bloggers to ask them to remove or update any incorrect information about you.

For an inappropriate presence:
Start by getting rid of dodgy photos: taking them down or untagging yourself. Even if your privacy settings are right, the person who uploaded the photograph or the other person tagged in it might have theirs wide open.

Think about the image you are trying to project. Start making positive contributions on the right blogs and groups and eventually all the old or offensive stuff will get pushed on to the second search page.

Make sure you check your online presence regularly and take appropriate action.

Reference: Careerealism; Abintegro
07 Jun 2017

Employers are increasingly adopting strengths-based interview techniques to get the most value out of the application process.

These interviews look to understand the kind of things that you enjoy and that interest you. They are designed to stop candidates from feeling like they have to cheat the system or second guess what their interviewer wants to hear.

However, that’s not an excuse to go in cold without any preparation. It’s not about rehearsing perfect answers, but you still want to ensure that you shine in the best possible light. Here are some ways to prepare yourself for a strengths-based interview:

1. Begin with some self-analysis

Start by thinking carefully about what engages you and the kind of tasks and activities you enjoy. While you’ll already have an instinctive sense of the above, you want these ideas to be fresh and clear in your mind. Having this self-awareness will give you the confidence to deal with different types of strengths-based questions and provide fluid responses.

2. Revisit your application

It’s important to be able to link your core qualities and interests to real examples from different areas of your life. Go back to your CV and/ or application form; think about your experiences: was there a course or extracurricular activity that really engaged you? Did you thrive in a particular work placement, were there aspects of a previous role that made you feel positive about yourself and your job?

3. Get to know the company

While the focus is very much on you, there’s no harm in seeking to understand the qualities and values that your prospective employer holds dear. We’re not suggesting you deliberately tailor your answers to these, but it’s useful to see where your values align and the kind of qualities and strengths you should be drawing attention to. It might also help to identify the type of language you should be using to describe your experience.

4. Understand the questions and let them sink in

While every interview is different, it’s useful to have an idea of the kinds of questions you may face. Brace yourself for quite a few questions – it usually takes time to build up a rounded picture of your personality and qualities.

• What type of things are you good at?
• What kind of tasks do you most enjoy doing and why?
• Do you feel more energised at the start of a project or at the end?
• When have you felt most fulfilled?
• What achievements are you most proud of and why?
• What particular aspects of this role do you think you’ll enjoy?

Google ‘strengths based interview questions’ to pick up some more ideas.

Remember, your interviewer is looking for honest and genuine insight, not perfectly scripted answers. Rather than rote learning your responses you could try jotting down a few bullet points or using a spider diagram to brainstorm key ideas or experiences.

At the end of the day strengths based interviews are as much about your helping yourself to determine whether the role is right for you as about the employer uncovering their perfect candidate. Treat it as a mutual learning process, be honest and true to yourself, and you can’t go too far wrong.

Reference: Michael Page; Target Jobs; Assessment Day; Abintegro
31 May 2017