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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
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 »

Apr 232010

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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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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Sep 212009
James, I think your cover's blown!

Image by laverrue via Flickr

Getting a new boss can be almost as daunting as getting a new job. Depending on how you felt about your old boss you may or may not welcome change, but change, as always, means uncertainty… and that’s uncomfortable.

If you’ve got a new boss starting at work, it always pays to approach the transition professionally, and to manage your relationship with them effectively right from the start.

Apart from yourself, your immediate superior is the person who has the biggest direct impact on your career. It’s your boss who sets the benchmarks against which your work will be measured, your boss who assesses your performance, your boss who communicates your achievements (or otherwise) to others, and your boss who controls the resources you need to do your job effectively. Keeping him or her on-side from the start is generally a good idea. But how do you manage a new boss?

  • Expect and accept change: your incoming boss will almost certainly do things differently to your old one, accept that things are going to change, be proactive. Remember that no matter what sort of relationship you had with your old boss, you’re starting with a clean slate now, and that’s often a good thing. By managing the transition carefully you can help yourself, your new boss and your entire team to get back into the swing of things quickly.
  • First impressions are crucial: that clean slate won’t stay clean for long… so you want to make sure you make a positive first impression. One of the best ways to do that is to make it as easy for your new boss to fit into their new role… remember, while you’re getting a new boss, they’re often starting a brand new job. They’re new, and you know the ropes, so help them to settle in by offering useful pointers and constructive advice where appropriate. Remember to offer suggestions, rather than instruction.

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Jul 132009
05 Start Work

Image by 2create via Flickr

In the first article in the series we looked at a few of the things you could do before starting a new job to get things off to a flying start. This week we take a look at some things you can do over your first few days, weeks and months to help you settle in and become a valued member of your new team quickly.

  • Pleased to meet you: in an ideal world the person you report to on your first day will introduce you to everyone on your new team. If not, don’t sit back and wait for people to come to you – be proactive and introduce yourself. And don’t forget to smile!
  • Question everything: don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you start a new job you’ll have a lot more questions than answers. Remember that the only stupid question is the one that remains unasked. The quicker you can fill the gaps in your knowledge, the more confident and productive you’ll become.
  • The induction is your friend: formal inductions are usually part of the HR process in larger organisations. In smaller companies this varies, but you should make sure you get some kind of induction into the company, your new job and exactly what it entails. If there’s no formal induction programme in your organisation, try asking if you can shadow someone else on the team for half a day – you’ll learn much more than you will trying to work things through on your own.

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Jul 062009
New Job

Image by shaymus022 via Flickr

When you start a new job it’s only natural that you want to impress. You want to show your new employer that they’ve made the right decision in hiring you, that you’re a competent and productive member of the team.
But starting a new job, while exciting, can also be one of the most nerve racking things you’ll ever do. You’ll be well outside your comfort zone: the new kid on the block, entering an environment where relationships have already been forged, and where there’s a well established social as well as organisational hierarchy.
In any new job, the first few weeks will be as much about dealing with the unfamiliar and unexpected as they’ll be about applying your skills, knowledge and experience. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare for that all important first day.

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Jul 062009
Image of euro coinage

Image via Wikipedia

(Written by Professor Ciaran Murphy (Business Information Systems, UCC)
edited for Career Moves by Calvin Jones

Per head of population Ireland has the unique distinction of being the biggest exporter of services in the world today by quite a margin. That may sound like an extraordinary fact, but it’s exactly what Forfas, Ireland’s national policy advisory body for enterprise and science, says in its report "Catching the Wave – A Services Strategy for Ireland", and is a testament to the efforts of Enterprise Ireland and the IDA in attracting investment in to the sector.

The services sector spans a gamut of service-based industries that include Financial Services; Computer Services and Software; Healthcare Services; Education Services; Tourism; Creative and design services; Maritime Services; Transport; Bloodstock & agriculture; Engineering, Environmental & Architectural Services; Business Services; Professional & Consulting Services; and Research & Development Services. Together these industries contribute a massive 63% of added value to the national economy.

In the decade between 1997 and 2007, the gross value added in the Irish economy almost trebled from €60 billion to €170 billion. Two thirds of that growth was attributed to the services sector, where the value added figure rose from €34 billion to €108 billion.

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Oct 152008

Whether you’re looking for your first job, a new job, a promotion or a career change, an effective CV is one of the most crucial weapons in your career-development arsenal.

The purpose of your CV is to convince a prospective employer to invite you for an interview. That’s not as easy as it sounds. The average employer’s is swamped with CVs, and will typically spends less than 30 seconds looking at each one. If it’s going to stay out of the rejection pile your CV has to make an immediate impression.

So how do you go about transforming that list of work experience, academic qualification and extracurricular activities into an attention-grabbing, interview generating tool?

  • Put yourself in the employer’s shoes: it is important to remember that you’re not creating a CV for your own benefit or to impress your peers. You’re creating it to convince a prospective employer that you should be on their interview short-list. Before writing your CV put yourself in the employer’s position and consider what you’d be looking for in a candidate. Then make sure you address those requirements in your CV.

  • Provide the most important information first: it’s surprisingly easy to bury important deep in the body of your CV. As you assemble the information in each section, prioritise it and list the most significant and relevant information first (remember to do this from the employers perspective).

  • Don’t try to cram everything in: your CV needs to be a concise summary of your skills, experience and achievements as they apply to the specific position you’re applying for. Keep your CV short and to the point (ideally no more than 2 A4 pages), while making sure you include all of the necessary information.

  • Presentation: your CV is the first glimpse that a prospective employer will get of you. Everything about it should reflect the qualities they are looking for in a candidate. Use high quality white paper, and ensure that your final document is formatted in a way that makes it easy to read. Use no more than two different fonts throughout (one for headings and one for body text).

  • Make it scannable: use clear headings and bullet points where relevant to make information more accessible. With only seconds to impress guiding your reader to the most relevant information quickly will pay dividends.

  • Be confident and don’t sell yourself short: not many people like singing their own praises, but your CV is no place for modesty. Use positive language to highlight your skills, strengths and accomplishments to maximum effect.

  • Tell the truth: while it’s vital to make the most of your achievements on your CV, it’s equally important that you can back up the statements you make. When you get called for interview you’ll be asked to elaborate on the information in your CV – and any falsehoods will come back to haunt you.

Finally, always remember that time spent honing and revising your CV is never time wasted. Think of it as an investment in your future. After all, an effective CV can open the door to a whole new world of opportunity.

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