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Feb 012011
 
A social network diagram

Image via Wikipedia

    We’ve all read the headlines about the negative impact social media can have on your career, how HR departments are trawling employee profiles on sites like Facebook and MySpace, and how some people have been disciplined or even dismissed because of things they’ve posted to their personal social media accounts.

    What we see less of in the mainstream media (although you’ll see plenty of examples online) is the many ways that having a prominent online profile across a variety of social media sites can actually help your career.

    But if you sit down and think about it for a minute, the fact that online social media can help give your career a boost should come as no surprise. Yes, they can allow employers and prospective employers to find out lots about you… but if you’re looking for a new job, or want to progress in the one you already have, then letting people find you, and letting them see what makes you tick is a good thing! Networking on a professional and personal level has always played a key role in career progression — hence the age-old adage "it’s not what you know, but who you know". That’s just as true today as it was twenty, thirty, even fifty years ago. The difference now is that we all have access to a wide range of free and powerful tools that help us to build a broader, more distributed and infinitely more productive network than was ever possible before.

    Whether it’s connecting with people on LinkedIn, staying in touch via Facebook, or keeping abreast of your network and your industry via Twitter…. online social media tools give you the ability to find, learn from and engage with all sorts of people who can help you, directly or indirectly, with your career.

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Nov 012010
 
letter-sphere-d
Image by DaveBleasdale via Flickr

What’s the most important part of a typical job application? Is it your CV / Resume? Is it the  years of experience you’ve built up? Is it your unique blend of skills and expertise? The correct answer is none of the above! While all of those things are crucial components of the perfect job application, a really successful application is about getting you invited for interview. The For that, the single most effective weapon in your job-seekers arsenal is your covering letter. Why you need a great cover letter for your job application The term “covering letter” implies that this is perhaps a less important document than the material it accompanies. Not so! You see, when you’re applying for a job, your covering letter is much more than just a note to accompany the enclosed documentation. It is what the recruiter is going to read FIRST. It’s not so much a covering letter, it’s more of a sales letter.

Sell yourself with your covering letter

Your cover letter is the first opportunity you have to really shine… and to impress upon your employer just how perfect you are for the job. It’s worth spending a bit of time getting this right: Continue reading »

May 182010
 
Get the Balance Right

Image by Marquette La via Flickr

    Are you struggling to balance the demands of a busy career with a hectic personal life? Does it feel like you’re constantly juggling your commitments in a desperate attempt to squeeze everything into an impossibly short day?

    If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Trying to find the perfect work-life balance is something that countless employees around the world wrestle with every day… but for many it simply isn’t working.

    The concept of work-life balance first entered the recruitment lexicon in the 1970s in an attempt to describe the issues faced by employees looking to divide their attention between their work commitments and their personal life. It’s since gained popularity among industry commentators, recruitment and careers experts, employees, and most recently with employers, who have started to view the panacea of work-life balance as a magic-bullet solution to employee dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and boosting productivity in the workplace.

    One of the main reasons that work-life-balance has become such a buzzword is that it resonates with so many people. Almost all of us know that overwhelming feeling of desperately trying to divide our finite attention between all of the things that matter to us. But although the work-life-balance concept has been around for nearly four decades, many of us are still struggling to manage our disparate commitments effectively; we fail in our quest for "balance", and ultimately everything suffers.

    According to business and lifestyle coach Ali Davies (www.alidavies.com) the main reason so many of us haven’t nailed the work-life balance conundrum is that the whole concept is fundamentally flawed.

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May 172010
 

We all know how tough it is out in the employment market today. If you’re looking for a job, you need to go beyond the standard CV / Resume / Covering letter, the ability to showcase your talent and creativity online gives you a great opportunity to think outside the box and get your name in front of prospective employers.

Here is a fantastic example of how Alec Brownstein an advertising creative in New York did just that – by targeting creative directors in the agencies he wanted to work with in Google AdWords…

He created five ads, got four interviews and ended up with a job at one of the agencies. Total outlay: US$6.

The old stalwarts of recruitment are still important – so don’t throw that CV away just yet, but with up to 80% of employers looking online to source talent you’d be mad to ignore the potential. Go on, get creative… and let us know how you get on in the comments :-) .

Apr 292010
 
working; sick

Image by coaxeus via Flickr

UK study finds that going to work when sick could cost your employer more than if you stayed at home!

Absenteeism is a common and much reported problem for employers around the world, costs companies millions of Euro every year and has a negative impact on everyone in an organisation. If your colleagues don’t turn up for work, that puts pressure on you, because somebody has to pick up the slack.

What we rarely hear anything about though is the flip side of the same coin: the potential impact of people who attend work when they’re genuinely too sick to do the job.

Perhaps partly because of the rising profile of absenteeism in the workplace, increasing numbers of employees struggle in to work when they would be both physically and psychologically better off taking the day off to recover. According to a pioneering report from UK based employment think tank The Work Foundation, the cost of this sickness presence — or "presenteeism" as they call it — could match or potentially exceed the UK£13bn bill for sickness absence that UK businesses have to foot.

While sickness absence is widely measured and monitored across the public and private sectors, and many businesses are focussed on reducing absenteeism, this report suggests there’s a lack of understanding surrounding "presenteeism", and organisations are generally oblivious to its hidden costs. The authors point out that businesses who don’t address presenteeism in the workplace could be missing out on opportunities to boost productivity and improve employee health and wellbeing.

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Apr 232010
 
Job-seekers

Image by Kevin Grocki via Flickr

Whether you’re a job-seeker looking for the perfect position, an employer seeking the best talent, or a recruitment professional who’s job it is to bring the two together, keeping yourself abreast of current and future trends in the Irish labour market is an important element of the recruitment process.

In March the Irish employment and training agency FÁS and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published their 13th annual joint report in the manpower forecasting series: "Occupational Employment Forecasts 2015", including full medium-term forecasts of the sectoral and occupational structure of the Irish labour market.

Here’s a summary of the key changes they predict in Ireland’s labour market between now and 2015:

• Changes are likely in the sectoral and skills mix of employment. While employment in most occupations is expected to recover from the lows of 2010, the rate and extent of recovery will vary considerably by occupation, with some emerging from the recession to show relatively strong employment growth, while others fail to attain their pre-recession levels before 2015.

• The occupations expected to exceed pre-recession peak levels are concentrated at the higher end of the skill scale, and include professionals and associate professionals (technicians) in science, engineering, business services and IT. Some of the occupations that, while they will they will grow after 2010, are not expected to hit their peak pre-recession levels include skilled building workers, production operatives, unskilled manual workers, sales assistants and clerks.

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Apr 232010
 
Job Seekers

Image by John McNab via Flickr

Finding a job in today’s employment market is hard work. To increase your chances of success, it pays to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, and a well-thought out plan of how you’re going to go about getting it before you dive in.

1. Know what you want

If you want to find the right job, the first thing you need is a clear idea of the area you want to work in. This could be a broad career discipline… like marketing, accounts or computer programming; or maybe you want to work in a particular industry, like pharmaceuticals, food or manufacturing. If you don’t really know what you want to do, try making a list highlighting the things you like doing, or that you feel are particular strengths. Now look at your list, and consider what sort of career might dovetail with your list of preferences and strengths.

Once you have a high level idea of the area you’d like to work in, refine it a step further by researching various job titles in your area of interest to see which roles are a good fit with your skill set, your temperament and your personal development goals… you want something fulfilling that will stretch and challenge you, and that will allow you to grow and progress.

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Mar 262010
 

image Sometimes the old ways really are still the best.

When it comes to job hunting it’s easy to get beguiled by the shiny-new allure of the Internet.

Online jobs boards list a whole host of vacancies in easy to navigate, searchable categories. They make short-listing suitable jobs a breeze, and will even notify you by e-mail when new jobs are posted that match your chosen keywords.

Professional web-based social networks like LinkedIn, and even less formal networks like Facebook and Twitter let you highlight your range of skills and expertise, and can act as a sort of living, breathing CV, helping you to connect with potential employers and giving you the inside track on upcoming vacancies.

There’s no doubt that the internet is an invaluable resource when it comes to your quest for a new job… but it’s important to remember that it’s not the only show in town.

The internet doesn’t replace traditional job-seeking tools and techniques, it serves to augment and enhance them. It ads several strings to the proverbial bow, but if you’re focussing all of your job seeking efforts online, you could be missing out on some of the best job opportunities out there.

Newspapers and periodicals

Newspapers… local, regional and national… can be excellent sources of new vacancies, and not all of the companies listing their jobs in newspapers will necessarily be advertising online. It’s always worth checking both regular newspaper listings and you’ll find specialist job newspapers available in most areas. Magazines focussed on your particular area of interest may also dedicate a section to ads for job vacancies.

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Mar 232010
 


Author Joe Lennon pictured with Prof. Ciaran Murphy, Bank of Ireland Professor of BIS, Patricia Lynch, BIS Director of Placement, and Sean Murphy, Core International, at the launch of his book "Beginning CouchDB" at UCC last night.
Pic Diane Cusack

A Cork technology specialist’s recently launched book is set to help software developers and businesses around the world harness the potential of the internet, and has added an exciting new dimension to an already promising career.

Joe Lennon, a Cork software developer who graduated with flying colours from UCC’s flagship Business Information Systems degree programme in 2007, was approached by New York based publisher Apress to write the book after they read a technical article he’d posted to an online portal run by IBM. The article examined a database system called CouchDB that makes it easier for developers to create web based applications.

Beginning Couch DB -- an introduction to data storage for Cloud Computing"I started writing ‘Beginning CouchDB’ in June 2009 the first draft was finished in September 2009, and the book was published in December" said Joe going on to explain how CouchDB is a new database management system that is steadily growing in popularity and is being used by many large organisations including Apple, IBM, BBC, MySpace, eBay, Meebo and Mozilla.

"As a new technology documentation on the subject is still quite scarce," said Joe. "As a result, it can be daunting for a newcomer to get to grips with CouchDB. ‘Beginning CouchDB’ aims to plug that gap by guiding the reader step by step through installing, configuring and working with CouchDB."

Having an internationally published book under your belt at the age of just 24 is quite an achievement, but Joe is no stranger to doing well. He achieved First Class Honours in each of the four years on the Business Information Systems (BIS) course at UCC, and was awarded a UCC University Scholarship in his third year for his performance in the summer examinations. During the third year Joe also spent 6 months with Fidelity Investments in Boston as part of the BIS Placement Programme, gaining his first real experience of working in IT.

"I learnt about all aspects of software projects working for Fidelity Investments and gained invaluable communication skills from the experience. I also learnt a lot about exactly what it was I wanted to do for a career. I enjoyed being an analyst, but I always felt the urge to go ahead and actually develop the software I was documenting," Joe said.

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Mar 022010
 

working two jobs... recession beater with a heavy price According to research by employment law consultancy firm Peninsula Ireland almost four in every ten Irish workers are having to take on extra work to balance their personal finances.

As the ranks of Ireland’s unemployed continue to swell, those people still in work are forced to work longer hours, or even take on a second job to meet the challenging economic realities of life in post-celtic-tiger Ireland. The survey of 837 workers on the island of Ireland took place in January and February of this year, with 39% of respondents admitting to holding down a second job, up 16% on a similar survey the firm conducted last year.

"In theory [a second job] is a good idea," said Mr Alan Price, managing director with Peninsula Ireland. "A second job means higher income, but it can pose problems for both the boss and the employee. HR laws need to be looked at to ensure that no one is breaking the law by working too many hours in one week," he said.

"Another problem you face is employee fatigue and this may well become a health and safety concern, so it’s something that both the employee and the employer need to address."

Spending more time at work means less time at home, and that brings other pressures to bear on families already struggling to cope.

“Working longer hours may not necessarily be good for your health, and people can get easily overwhelmed when they take on a second job,” commented Mr Price. "Before considering a second job look at all the risks and weigh up the benefits. It may well be that you will be in a worse-off situation, especially after taking into account travel, taxes, any other expenses,

“Think about the lack of quality time at home and any implications on your health; there really is a lot to take into account.”

If money is the primary motivator for the second Job, workers may be better served looking at opportunities to increase their earning potential in their primary role, advised Mr Price.

“There may be better ways to improve marketability, training and education,” he said. "Look to see if there are extra skills required for jobs that pay more money, such as supervisory roles. Have you expressed an interest to your employer that you would like to be considered for these better-paid roles?”

Anyone considering taking on an additional job would do well to heed the advice and consider the long term consequences rather than just the short term gain of a boosted income. Long hours, frayed nerves and exhaustion can have serious legal and safety implications, could adversely impact your performance in your primary job and potentially exact a heavy personal toll on you and your family. If you’re considering another job to plug a shortfall in your finances make sure you explore all of the options available to you, and are aware of the potential pitfalls before you make the decision.