7 Tips on how to use LinkedIn to find a job

By Sarah Halzack

Want to use LinkedIn to find a job or boost your career, but not sure where to start?

Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s director of global acquisition, and Nicole Williams, a career expert for LinkedIn, share some ways to get the most out of the professional networking site:

Don’t settle for a bare-bones profile. “A good profile is a complete profile,” Browne said.

In other words, a simple list of your past employers and job titles likely won’t entice a recruiter. A comprehensive profile includes your educational background and detailed descriptions of all of your work experiences and skills. Depending on your field, you might also provide examples of your work in the form of video, slideshows or other multimedia files.

“Unlike a résumé where you want to be really succinct, you can actually broaden your profile,” Williams said.

Include a profile photo. LinkedIn has found that profiles that contain a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed.

“It’s kind of like shopping for a house online,” Williams said, meaning that you might ignore a real estate listing on the Web if it didn’t include photos of the property.

Share regularly and wisely. Much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to post updates. These can be simple messages, such as “I’m off to a global health conference in New York” or “Congratulations to my team for beating its monthly sales goal.” Updates can also include links to articles and other content from around the Web.

Williams said that if you share something just once a week, LinkedIn has found you are 10 times more likely to have your profile viewed by a hiring manager.

“The biggest thing I look for when people share articles is not necessarily someone who’s sort of bragging about their company or saying ‘come work at my company,’ ” Browne said. “But just really sharing and commenting in an insightful way about really interesting topics. Those things stand out in a massive way.”

Be professional, but don’t be staid. In a LinkedIn profile, “I really look for someone’s personality to come screaming through,” Browne said.

Updates, he said, can be a powerful way to show who you are.

Your profile can also be used to highlight unique hobbies or activities that illuminate what kind of worker you are.

Williams offered an example of a friend who works in the publishing industry and was weighing two equally qualified candidates for a job. On LinkedIn, she learned that one of the candidates did volunteer work with an animal rescue nonprofit. The hirer was an animal lover, so that candidate ultimately got the job.

Personalize your invitation to connect. When you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, your request is accompanied by a brief note. You have the option of selecting a boilerplate message that reads, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” But Browne advises taking the time to craft something more tailored.

“Find some degree of connection, and a warm connection,” Browne said.

For example, you could point out that you share an alma mater, or you could mention a mutual friend or colleague.

Mine mutual connections. Browne advises paying attention to shared acquaintances as a way to better understand the background of someone you want to meet.

For example, if you are looking for more information on a potential employee or employer, you can check out your mutual connections.

“A couple different things happen from that,” Browne said. “One, you probably will give me some directional [information], which is really helpful when it comes to recruiting talent. And second, you might actually be able to help me...in terms of getting in touch with him.”

Focus on fit, not volume. Browne said it’s a turnoff if job seekers appear to be using LinkedIn indiscriminately, meaning they are deluging recruiters with too many messages or are going after jobs for which they are not qualified.

“I would encourage people to not do that, to be a bit more patient and thoughtful,” Browne said.

This post originally appeared here:

Baby boomers – here’s why (some of) our kids hate us

By Neil Patrick

If you want to know how some of the gen Yers see us, then this piece by Australian blogger Mark Fletcher is an example. If you’re a baby boomer, it’s tempting to simply go into denial and rebuttal when you read his fiery rhetoric, but I think if you can see past the rage, he makes some valid points about for example the failures of government institutions to lead effectively.

But overall, I think his arguments are naïve and driven more by anger than understanding. You cannot hold a whole generation corporately responsible for anything. We didn’t hold the whole of Germany accountable for the crimes of the Nazi regime; if we accept Mark’s reasoning, it would follow that we should have done…and presumably murdered every surviving German person in 1945. It’s ironic therefore that one of his ‘recommendations’ is the removal of voting rights from everyone over 40 years old. Isn’t that a bit erm..fascist Mark?

It also conveniently fails to mention what the gen Yers have done which is really any different from what the boomers have done. They have just whinged a bit more and are seeking out culprits for their angst. If you want culprits Mark, I think you are looking in the wrong place.

Perhaps though this inter-generational blaming attitude highlights one really important point. If we have failed as a generation, we have failed because we put our trust in the wrong leaders and the wrong economic policies. And because of that error, we have failed to win the trust and respect of (some of) our own children.

What do you think? I'd welcome your thoughts in the comments section below.

Here’s Mark’s post:

The Baby Boomers had their chance to create the society into which they wanted to retire and they dropped the ball. They don't deserve our help, writes Mark Fletcher.

By Mark Fletcher
Back when I was a kid, old people had fought in a war. They could tell you stories about growing up in the Great Depression, about the spread of mass manufactured cars, and about personally trying to shoot Hitler. When they retired, they looked back on a long life of hard work, of securing our freedoms, and of not understanding how to programme the VCR.

Today, old (sic) people are rubbish. They’ve never done anything worthwhile. They happily took handouts from several economic booms and completely failed to invest in infrastructure like their parents’ generation had done for them.

In Australia, they crafted a completely nuts housing market where housing prices head steadily upwards (which will be paid for by their children’s generation); meanwhile, they enjoyed free education (again, paid for by their parents’ generation) which they subsequently denied to their children. The media companies they own write article after article about how ‘Gen Y’ has a bad attitude and feels entitled to jobs and conditions of employment. Now they have the freaking audacity to claim that they want to retire and have my generation pay for it.

Sod ‘em, the lazy swine. If you didn’t fight a Nazi, you don’t get to retire. You certainly don’t get to retire on my dime.
Boomers only ever cared about themselves?
Credit:  Alfabille (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0
The problem with my ‘Let them become Soylent Green cake’ attitude is that, one day, I shall be old and I will want to retire. With a bunch of old people currently hogging all the political power making the sort of short-sighted decisions that you’d expect from people who won’t survive to see the consequences, the future doesn’t look bright and rosy for my retirement (which apparently will be in the year 2105).

The Per Capita think tank released an awkwardly phrased report last week called Still Kicking:

The ageing of the population will see the number of people aged 65 to 84 years more than double, and the number of people aged 85 and over more than quadruple. As a result, the proportion of people who are of working age will decline as a proportion of the whole population.

Clearly this conclusion doesn’t follow. The sentence ‘The number of people who are of working age is not expected to increase by as much’ is missing, which is weird given that the rest of the report is dedicated to increasing the number of people who are of working age.

Per Capita gives us the usual handwaves typical of Australia’s think tanks. We could change the working age to include more people and ‘reconceptualise’ retirement. We could tinker with superannuation. We can gear our health system towards making sure that people are economic cogs for longer. And so on and so forth. All the low-hanging fruit was dutifully picked.

Not to be outdone, the number-crunchers at the Grattan Institute got out their sliderules and abaci to put together a chapter in their Balancing Budgets report about retirement:

Increasing to 70 the age of access to the Age Pension and superannuation (the ‘retirement age’) is one of the most economically attractive choices to improve budgets in the medium term. It could ultimately improve the budget bottom line by $12 billion a year in today’s terms, while producing a lift in economic activity of up to 2 per cent of GDP.

What both Per Capita and the Grattan Institute are saying is that previous generations have screwed up the general revenue base so heinously that everybody needs to work more to pay for the retirees.

Further, both organisations are setting the policy gears to resolve the problems of today’s old fogey. They let the health system deteriorate and now health care is expensive. Shock. They let the infrastructure deteriorate and now they don’t have the labour mobility that they need to get a job. Horror. They let the education system collapse and now they can’t reskill into new industries. Surprise. They let general revenue get whittled away on pork barreling and now there’s no money left.

As a result, intergenerational policy is being colonised and dominated by economic, labour, and health policies. How can we afford to keep old people? How can we unlock the potential labour of old people and translate it into GDP? How can we manage the health needs of the elderly?

It is an approach that conceptualises homo senilis as if they had sprung out of the earth and suddenly (like mushrooms) come to full maturity without all kind of engagement to each other.

There was society and it was functioning and then - completely by surprise - there were all these old people who had special needs and who needed things.

A better, more sophisticated, approach is to work out what sort of society we (that is, people under the age of 35) want for our retirement and then set the policy gears now to achieve it. Do we want a society of lifelong learning? Then we need an education policy to gut the current education system which considers education over by age 25 and de-link technical education from the research sector. Do we want a society of non-manual labour? Then we need an industry policy to let the manufacturing sectors crash, a research policy to invest in better industries, and a legislative policy to improve protections for intellectual property. Do we want to enjoy a retirement like our great grandparents had? Then we need a fiscal policy to diversify the revenue streams of the Government so it relies less on income taxes. And so on and so forth.

The easiest way for us to achieve this utopian future is to rescind the voting rights of any person over the age of 40. The Baby Boomers have made it clear that we’ll have to take the reins of government from their cold, dead hands, but they’ve demonstrated that they can’t be trusted to manage themselves. They’ll live longer and they’ll vote longer; and they’ll vote for parties that promise to stamp out ‘Aged Discrimination’ (which is code for forcing the rest of us to pay their indulged way).

They had their chance to create the society into which they wanted to retire and they dropped the ball. Our policymakers shouldn’t be putting out the fires of yesterday, and we definitely shouldn’t develop policies which exonerate their hideous mistakes.

Mark Fletcher is a Canberra-based blogger and policy wonk who writes about conservatism, atheism, and popular culture. He blogs at OnlyTheSangfroid. This article was originally published onAusOpinion.com.

6 Ways to Attract Recruiters to Your LinkedIn Profile

By Stacey Politi

You know the drill. You’re unhappy in your current job - or unhappy with no job - and are desperately updating your LinkedIn profile that hasn’t been touched since the last time you were in this situation.

Well, you’re not alone; this sums up the dysfunctional relationship many professionals have with their LinkedIn profiles. While some flock to LinkedIn only when in need and apply to already posted positions, the platform is at its best when maintained regularly and optimized to allow hiring managers to reach out to you.

LinkedIn's career expert Nicole Williams helps elaborate on six ways to optimize your profile and attract more recruiters to you now.

1. Develop a Keyword Strategy

If search engine optimization is not your expertise, here is a mini lesson. LinkedIn’s search functionality makes it easy to find people by their name, skills and any other words that appear in their profile — which is why these words should be chosen with thought.

First, make a list of terms associated with your skills and experience. Ask yourself, "What words would someone search for to find me?" If strapped for terms, seek inspiration from a job positing you are interested in.

Next, take those terms and rework them from the perspective of a searching recruiter. For example, you may have the term "digital strategy" in your LinkedIn profile; however, a recruiter would be more likely to search for the term "digital strategist." Synonyms are also important; you never know if recruiters will search for "digital," "online" or "Internet," so include them all. Lastly, you want to organically incorporate these key terms into your profile to attract both the search engine and human reader alike.

2. Say Cheese

Williams says that "hiring managers are seven times more likely to view your profile if you have a photo; it’s a must have."

Not only does a photo allow your profile to stand out in the search results, but also shows recruiters that you are active on the network and LinkedIn is a viable way to contact you. Williams suggests using a photo that places you in the context of your job. You want to help hiring managers envision you in that position.

"If you are a chef, feel free to show yourself in a kitchen, or in front of a whiteboard if you are a marketer," Williams says. "But don’t use a picture of yourself with your dog, unless you’re a veterinarian."

3. Be Vain

Williams also prompts all passive and active job seekers to claim their vanity URL. This is a customized URL that drives directly to your profile.

"Using your name in your vanity URL gives it a chance to appear in a Google when someone searches for you," says Williams.

This makes it easier for hiring managers to find you and share your information with other hiring managers. If your preferred vanity URL is already claimed, incorporate a relevant key term, for example www.linkedin.com/in/CarlySimonSinger.

4. Rack up Recommendations

Solicit recommendations from people you have worked for or with. "Make a strategic plan for your recommendations," says Williams. "Approach different people and suggest particular skills or experiences you would like them to highlight."

This strategy helps provide hiring managers with a more holistic view of you and your past work. However, the most important part of the recommendation is not necessarily the content, but that it exists at all. It shows that someone was willing to take the time to personally vouch for you.

(Extra Tip: People are always busy and if you ask for a recommendation, even if they agree, it’ll probably sit on their to do list for weeks. Worse, when they do it, they might not say what you want. So make it easy for them. Send a draft of the sort of things you’d like them to say, and allow them to edit as they see fit. You’ll make it quick and easy for them this way AND you’ll more likely get something close to what you desire – Ed.)

5. Strategic Connections

The more connections you have on LinkedIn the more likely you are to come up in a hiring manager’s search results. Strategically identify people you’d like to be linked to and approach them with a custom connection request.

"The biggest mistakes users make is asking for too much in the first request," says Williams. LinkedIn are no different than connections in real life.

"Find an affinity you have in common, ask a question, but don’t ask for a job in the first connection."

Groups work similarly and if you and a recruiter are in the same group, you can rise to the top of their search results. Join groups that are relevant to the industry you are in and a few recruiters in your field will most likely be members as well.

6. Now Share with your Connections

"Don’t just set up your profile; actively engage in LinkedIn," says Williams. Share useful content or comment on the shared content of others to make your profile more viewable. Interacting with others on the platform not only makes you visible to them, but also their connections.

If you don’t have time to scour the Internet for shareable content, Williams suggests leveraging LinkedIn Today, a feature that allows you to receive the most read news on your chosen topics. Choose one story per day from that feed and not only will it help you in your current job, but it might catch the eye of a hiring manager for a future position.

This post originally appeared here:

Is having a job really the best choice for you today?

By Neil Patrick

Last week I was sent the transcript of a soon to be published book about self- employment as a consultant and how to go about it successfully.

The author asked me if I’d be willing to review the book and provide my reaction to it in the form of an endorsement to be included in the final version when it goes to print.

I was surprised and flattered. Well I’m now reading the book and it’s great and after it’s published in a couple of weeks, I’ll be writing more about it here. But because the topic of the book was essentially self-employment for mature professionals, it got me thinking I really should revisit this topic on this blog.

I talk here a lot about jobs, and how to get them in these hyper-difficult economic conditions.

But there’s another option too of course - creating your own job.

Our generation has been taught to be a bit scared by this I think. We all know of someone who lost their entire life savings when their business went bust or failed to even get off the ground. And yes, the statistics for the failure of start-up businesses are still frightening.

But being self-employed doesn't automatically mean you must risk your savings and your financial future. Quite the opposite in fact.

Not if you choose to take the skills you have acquired over all those years of working and decide to sell them in small pieces to people that need them.

In fact if we accept that getting a job as an employee is now harder than ever, especially once you get past about 45, isn’t it more sensible to choose a life path where our age and experience is actually a benefit rather than a burden?

And here’s the truth: people want and need freelancers more than ever today.

The recession has made businesses really cautious about taking on extra employees. It’s obvious the reason this is happening - why take the commitment of having an extra head on the payroll, month in month out, at a time when costs need to be ruthlessly squashed, when you could get the job done by a contractor with absolutely no long-term obligations attached?

And people will pay top dollar for this too.

You see, the real question clients often face isn't can we afford to pay $500 or $1000 or $2000 a day for a contractor? The fact is that many, many businesses have now slashed their permanent full-time staff to the absolute bone. The moment anything happens (which of course it always does) which means they need some extra resource, they are stuck. Big time. They may also have hiring freezes which means they cannot hire any extra people.

So their problem cannot be solved by hiring new people. But it can be solved by finding skilled and reliable people outside the business to handle it for them. And suddenly if you are on their radar, and you have the skills and experience called for, you are in a strong position to negotiate a good rate. So let’s say they hire you for 6 weeks, 2 days a week, at $1,000 a day. Total cost $12,000 dollars. And their problem is gone.

And you are $12,000 better off in exchange for 12 days of your time. (Okay, I know that’s a gross simplification, but you’ll get the point I’m sure)

And your client’s headcount is still the same. You’re happy. They’re happy.

There’s another thing I like about this choice also. It’s kind of a philosophical point but it goes like this. Remember all those years of toil and torture to get things done for the people you worked for in the past? Sure you do. You’d just rather not think about them usually right?

But here’s the thing – all that sweat and tears taught us a lot. And that’s the point. We can view that as an investment in us. And whilst we may not have exactly enjoyed the process, it makes us what we are today. Which is mature, experienced people who have learned a great deal in our lives.

So what I like is the idea that indirectly, all that sweat and toil is now being rewarded back to us over and over again.

Somehow it feels like justice has been done!

Oh and if you still want to invest all your time in just hunting for a job, remember these realities:

For every great job out there, there are dozens of really soul-sucking, punishing and unrewarding jobs. Just remind yourself about:

1. The feelings of powerlessness experienced daily by millions of employees

2. The lack of job security that now exists for just about every employee

3. The frustrations of having to do what you are told, rather than what you are really best at

4. The requirement of every employer that you work to a rigid schedule like a machine

5. The crazy office politics that demotivate everyone

6. The lack of fulfillment you feel by doing things just because someone tells you you must

7. The increasingly rarity of pay rises when our costs of living continue to soar

8. The daily torture by bad bosses

9. The lack of appreciation shown for all your efforts

10. The fear of making a mistake which will lead to disciplinary action or possibly even being fired.

Let the young people who are less experienced than us have these jobs I say. They need work experience and they need to learn. We've already paid our dues.

Aren’t you infinitely smarter and more experienced and knowledgeable today than when you were 25 or 30? Of course you are. So why would you choose to even think about competing with those people?

Play to your strengths.

Skype interviews: Why they are increasing and how to handle them

By Hannah Briggs

The job interview is an ordeal that most people face at some stage in their career. But as video starts to take the place of the face-to-face interview, is it easier or harder now to land your dream job?

The job interview as we know it may never have existed if it wasn't for Thomas Edison.

Frustrated with hiring college graduates who lacked the right knowledge, Edison devised the first employment questionnaire to narrow down his applicant pool.

The survey was thought to be so difficult that in 1921 the New York Times nicknamed it a "Tom Foolery test" and claimed only a "walking encyclopaedia" could succeed.

Questions included: "What is the weight of air in a room 20ft x 30ft x 10ft?" and "Where are condors to be found?"

But today the trick to making a good impression at interview may be less about what you know and more about how you come across on camera.

Jean Luc, a 30-year-old marketing professional from Greenwich, recently had his first video interview for a role at a web start-up company based in Berlin.

"I had the usual nerves before my interview. But I Skype all the time as my parents live in South Africa so it felt like a much more familiar process. What I found quite disconcerting was when I first turned on the video, my interviewer had his camera turned off.

"It would have been awkward if I turned my camera off and on again so I just went through the interview with a black screen. It was a bit like talking to myself."

Looking in the wrong place is just one of the common pitfalls of video interviews, says New York-based career coach and blogger Megan Broussard.

"It's tempting to watch yourself in that little box to make sure your hair isn't in your face or that you're not making weird facial expressions. But the truth is that it is very distracting to the other party and can come across as shy and even insincere - two qualities both employers and new hires want to avoid.

"It's OK to watch the speaker on the screen, but respond by looking into the camera to create the illusion of direct eye-contact, always."

In the US more than six out of 10 HR managers now use video to interview job applicants, according to a survey.

A growing number of UK firms are adopting a similar approach, says Claire McCartney, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

"Video interviewing is becoming an attractive option as organisations branch out overseas," says McCartney.

How to cruise a video interview

Tips from Megan Broussard - aka Professional - a career coach and blogger from New York:

· Set the stage: Make the room you're in a reflection of your work -polished

· A plain backdrop can be less distracting

· Test the lighting: Even if your camera isn't the highest quality, make sure it flatters your features and the interviewer can see you clearly

· Dress the part: Be as conservative as the organisation - wear smart bottoms in case you have to get up during the interview

· Work the camera: Minimise the video image of you so you're not tempted to watch yourself

· The employer expects eye contact and anything else will distract him or her

· Do a test run: Call a friend or family member to make sure speakers and microphone are working and they can hear you clearly

As well as live interviewing on services like Skype, some firms are giving video "questionnaires" for candidates to record.

The UK company, Webrecruit, reports a steady increase in the use of automated video interviewing over the past few years. Employers can view recorded responses from candidates in their own time.

"Clients will input their questions, then the candidate receives an automated email inviting them to sit the interview," explains Webrecruit's Leona Matson. "The interviewee can then sit the interview within an allocated time frame, the answers are recorded, and then the client can view it at a time that suits them."

As hiring becomes more global for candidates and employers, video interviews can be much more cost-effective.

In 2012 employers in the UK spent an average of 10 working days interviewing, 16% of the working week travelling to meet candidates and £3,286 reimbursing candidates' travel expenses, according to a survey carried out by Cammio - a Dutch company specialising in online video services.

"The significant drain on time and resources companies face when scheduling and carrying out interviews means for many, it can be an expensive and time-consuming task," says Matson.

For large firms with international graduate schemes, the savings can be significant. Sellafield's graduate scheme cited cost savings of £14,000 using video technology to screen interview candidates.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) also report cutting recruitment costs by 20% using automated video assessments for first-round interviews.

First impressions are still crucial.

"You can definitely gain a better first impression of candidates using a combination of video and CV rather than their CV only," says Walter Hueber, chief executive of Cammio. "It's much more visual and allows you to get a broader assessment of the candidate."

But does the technology give the younger generation an unfair advantage?

"It can take some getting used to," says Peter Russell of VuCall, a company offering video consultations based in London. "When we started three years ago, it took some time for people in a business context to feel comfortable seeing themselves on screen. After a while though, they just got used to it and learned to relax."

Jean Luc says he would prefer to do all his interviews via video in future, to avoid unnecessary anxiety.

"This way you avoid the pressure of getting to the interview on time, getting stuck in traffic or worrying so much about what to wear. I felt much more at ease interviewing at home and I was able to think more clearly before responding."

But sometimes you can't beat face-to-face contact says Mike Parker, who runs Pitchcoach, a business communication consultancy.

"I suspect that for senior jobs face-to-face will continue. You can't see the handshake. You can't see how they walk into the room."

"Half of all business travel, in theory, could be substituted with telecommunications, but it isn't. Why?"

This post originally appeared here:

4 tips to get Twitter helping your career

By Neil Patrick

Until about one year ago, I thought that Twitter was the biggest waste of time ever invented.

Why on earth would I want to spend any of my valuable time, telling people that I’d just eaten a great dinner, or that I was worried about global warming, or that I was gutted because some wanna be pop star had just been kicked off Celebrity X-Factor Millionaire?

More importantly, why would anyone else be in the slightest bit interested?

Twitter was for the birds as far as I was concerned.

But I have had an epiphany. I am an absolute Twitter fan today. I have started to understand it a little and learned enough to begin to harness its immense power. It has become a cornerstone of my work and without it, I think my professional goals would be infinitely harder to achieve.

But every day, I talk with mature professionals and it’s clear that many of them are stuck more or less where I was a year or so ago.

They mostly don’t have a Twitter account and even if they do, they are really unsure about what to do with it.

So today I thought I’d share a few basic points I have learned which I hope will be useful to anyone looking to use Twitter to help develop their career.

So here goes:

1. If you want Twitter to support your career, you should stick to just one or two fields that relate to your career.

We are all multi-dimensional in our lives. I happen to tweet about careers and jobs and the economic crisis. Because that is one of my main professional interests and what I want to talk about with people.

But it’s certainly not everything that I am. I have plenty of other things in my life that I never talk about on 40pluscareerguru. Like my day to day business activities, my community support work and my love of military history and heavy metal music.

If I were to include those subjects in my Tweets, it would be really confusing for everyone. Who is this guy…what’s he really about?

Twitter recognises this issue and that’s why it allows us to have up to ten accounts. I happen to have another Twitter account called @Marshalstackman which is all guitars and heavy metal. I keep all my loud music stuff there. And I'm sure you don’t want to see or hear that. Right?

So ensure your Twitter profile and Tweets are consistent with each other and deal with your professional interests or some of them. If you have multiple interests, use multiple Twitter accounts.

2. Twitter has no instructions

This is a problem for many. It’s also a great opportunity. Twitter is there for you to use however you choose. There’s no single ‘proper’ or best practice model. It’s a powerful communication platform if you can get to grips with its unique and somewhat quirky characteristics. But this requires creativity and a plan. And the absence of such a plan is why you’ll see plenty of people using it clumsily.

Some approach it as a version of the SMS texting they do with their friends. This is one end of the spectrum and it’s legitimate, if you just want a bit of fun and engagement with a few people. But it’s not really an effective way to build your personal career standing amongst the people you want to increase your influence with.

At the other end of the spectrum are people that view Twitter as a mighty spam engine. They just endlessly send out link after link after link. And if they are not focussed on a single topic, these links about seemingly random things are of no value or interest to 99.99% of the people that get them in their Twitter stream.

Links themselves are I think a good thing provided they connect people with something of value and relevance to them. But if that is all you do, it all gets a bit tedious and one-sided. Who really wants to be endlessly talked at? Most of us had enough of that when we in school.

So the key here I think is balance. Try to strike a happy medium between talking to all and talking with people individually.

3. This is social media, so be erm… social

I still see plenty of Twitter accounts which are nothing more than endless spammy links promoting things I don’t need, don’t want and am not interested in. I never follow these people or organisations. Why would I?

Likewise, I am not keen on people who only send out their own tweets. If you are on Twitter and you have a following, you should in my opinion, support your followers and show your appreciation by retweeting them when you think they have said something interesting, relevant, amusing or whatever.

If I see people who are clearly engaging in conversations with others and they are courteous and friendly, I’m happy to follow them back. It doesn’t matter if they have 100,000 followers or just 10.

And when someone is kind enough to engage with me I will always try and engage back and help them if I can…even if it’s just with an acknowledgement or bit of light-hearted banter.

Just a quick aside…today, even with only around 7,000 followers on Twitter, I just cannot individually thank people every time they retweet me or favourite me. I wish I could. But there are now just too many. But I will try and answer every tweet to me that has a question or a comment in it.

So tip three is engage, support and be nice to people on Twitter and almost always they will be nice to you. This is much more useful to you than just endlessly talking at people instead of talking with them.

4. You need thousands of followers to have any kudos or influence.

Wrong. If you are clear about what your Twitter account is all about, you’ll steadily build a great network of people who are interested in the same things that you are. And this shared ground is essential if you are to have any chance of developing Twitter relationships and engagement.

If you use Kred and/or Klout to track your social influence, you'll notice that the size of your following is a relatively small factor in how they calculate your score. The amount and quality of your online engagement with individual people has a much bigger influence.

Like attracts like on social media. If you follow people randomly, you’ll get random people following you back. And that’s just a waste. You’ll have no basis of a shared interest or viewpoint that allows you to build meaningful relationships.

What’s better - to have 10,000 random people following you, or 500 who are all passionate about the same things you are?

So rule four is focus on connecting with the people who share your professional interests, background or outlook.

So there you have four simple fundamentals on how I think we should all set up the basics of our Twitter presence if we want to use it to help our careers. I realise this has only scratched the surface of this huge topic, so if anyone finds this helpful, or has additions or questions do please let me know and I’ll use these as the basis for my next post on this subject.

There’s much more to talk about on this so please share your thoughts!

Detroit: a vision of the future?

By Neil Patrick

Not many people know that in the 1950’s Detroit was the fourth largest city in the US.

But almost everyone knows that the city is now bankrupt.

The mainstream media is focused on the crazy legal merry go round that has ensued in the wake of this collapse.

But a city is not really an entity on its own, although bureaucrats may find it more convenient to organize it that way. A city is the sum of all the people and lives it contains. And in the case of Detroit, these lives have been wrecked in varying degrees, not only directly by the bankruptcy, but also by the massive collapse of the government services which resulted from it.

I wonder if in the late 20th century, we had presented people with the reality of the condition of Detroit today, anyone would have taken it seriously? I rather suspect that the majority view would be something like, ‘Oh, that could never happen here’.

But it has and to my mind it presents a terrifying premonition of what the future might look like for many other cities in the US and other western countries. The UK already has what I would call it’s own ‘mini-Detroits’.

The bottom line is that if you worked or are working for any Detroit public organisation, you are unlikely to ever see more than a tiny fraction of your pension rights actually materialize.

But this isn’t just an issue in Detroit.

You may be surprised to discover that 61 other cities in the US have a gap of more than $217bn in unfunded pension liabilities. That's right $217 billion!

And I’d like someone to tell us where that money is going to be found.

You might be tempted to think along the lines of, ‘Oh yes , my city is different, because…’ (add your excuse(s) of choice here). But is it really? Really?

The collapse of Detroit is multi-faceted. Of course it all began with the decline in the fortunes of the US car manufacturing giants based there. And there was corruption, and racial tensions, and a vicious circle of increasing government spending to try and prop things up, delivering worse and worse results, leading to yet more spending. And an exodus of the middle classes, in other words, the ones who contributed the biggest slice of the revenues that government uses to pay for things.

What can we do to protect ourselves from this type of risk to our lives? Well there are three groups of people who are not only unscathed, they are actually doing rather well in Detroit right now.

That’s urban redevelopment bosses, politicians. And lawyers.

Choose your poison.

And if you’re not scared enough already, just watch this to see the full HD version of a really scary movie about the tragedy of Detroit courtesy of Stefan Molyneux at Freedomainradio.com

What can a transvestite teach the rest of us about careers?

By Neil Patrick

Quite a lot actually as it turns out. And here’s why.

Sometimes, when we are trying to solve a problem, it’s really helpful to take some inspiration from something which is far removed from the immediate context of our own experience and our own world.

Like for example, art.

I think the career world of the artist is relevant to the rest of us. Yesterday I talked about the ‘P’ word - passion. And why you could never have a truly great career without it.

We all know that typically, artists have lots of passion. They eat it for breakfast. They also mostly have no money…unless they get real lucky, a cynic will say.

Do not be fooled though into thinking that therefore P=PP i.e. Passion = Professional Poverty.

Artists provide several valuable reference points for the rest of us. But the one that is relevant to what we talk about here, is that many of them quite literally starve in order to pursue their passion. That’s dedication.

And it’s also relevant because their single-minded pursuit of their passion is how they channel their need for self-expression and self-realization.

So a couple of weeks ago, when I was listening to the Reith Lecture by Grayson Perry, I wasn’t particularly surprised to discover he spent the first twenty years of his adult life virtually penniless.

In case you are not familiar with his career, here’s a brief synopsis.

Born in 1960, as a child, he suffered from an abusive stepfather, which led to his attempts to escape this abuse by assuming the alter ego of a little girl. In his teens, he realized that he was a transvestite.

As a young man, he spent several years living in squats and survived (just) by working as a sandwich maker.

Perry had his first pottery lessons in 1983. For a while he made only glazed plates with text because he could not make anything else. No-one wanted to buy his work, which many viewed as crude, lewd and unsophisticated. But he persisted. For years.

Grayson Perry
Finally, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam mounted a solo exhibition of his work in 2002. It was partly for this work that he was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003, the first time it was given to a ceramic artist. He attended the award ceremony dressed as a girl, his alter-ego Claire, wearing a little girl party frock. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to contemporary art.

Today, his pots fetch between about $30,000 and $80,000 each at auction.

And he still wears frocks.

But Grayson Perry isn’t successful because he’s the most famous transvestite in the world of ceramics. Or because he chose to create work which some viewed as shocking. Grayson Perry is successful because he developed his own unique commentary with all its peculiarities. He did the things he could, the things he felt he must and the things he chose. Not the things that other people said he should do.

I don’t think he would ever say he has a job. But he sure has a career.

Why you will fail to have a great career

By Neil Patrick

Naturally, I talk almost exclusively about jobs and careers on this blog.

But what is the difference between a job and a career? A lot actually…

Most people think of a career as nothing more than a succession of jobs. But a job and a career are not the same thing. A job, any job, is basically a simple transaction between you and an employer. They give you money and you give them your time and work in exchange.

You take a job because, because… why? Usually it’s just because you are offered it. And you need the money. Not much more generally, if you are really honest about it. I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation that went something like, ‘Yep they offered me the job…and I turned it down. It wasn’t really fitting right with my life goals’.

Most of us have been taught from a very early age, that if you work hard, you’ll succeed and be happy. And if you work really hard, you’ll be really successful. It’s not true. At least it’s not true if all you have is a job rather than a career. And despite the fact that this reality is staring us in the face every day, we still keep on believing it.

Just about every time I ask one of my hard working professional friends how things are going at work, I get a similar answer. But whatever their answer, they will almost always begin with, ‘Yeah things are really busy...’.

'Really busy'. Hmmm. Since when did being really busy equate with the fulfilment of anyone’s calling?

A career on the other hand isn’t a job. It may involve a job or jobs, but it is something you choose because it is what you need to reach your greatest level of self-expression and self-realisation. A real career engages you every single day of your life. It is your very reason for living. It is …your passion.

Yes I know, as soon as I mention the ‘P’ word, some or even many readers will have a Pavlovian response and think… 'Oh here we go, here's another guy, telling me all I need to do is find my passion and my career will flourish’.

'He’s going to tell me all about brilliant people with amazing talents who got lucky'.

Well I’m not going to say that, because it’s not true. And it’s not the point.

What I am going to say is that you have a choice. You can choose the default path and have a life of mediocrity and hard work in a series of jobs. And these days, those jobs will get harder and harder to find and in this economy you’ll have longer and longer periods without one.

Or you can be brave, believe in yourself and the essential truth that no-one ever had a brilliant career by simply having a job. And have the faith that if you accept this truth, find your purpose and pursue your goals because they are your passion, you WILL have a brilliant career.

So the choice is up to you. Every one of us has at least one unique and amazing talent. But most people compete in areas where they have no talent at all.

And it’s clear that I’m not the only one who believes this. Just watch this really entertaining performance at TEDx by Larry Smith from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, who knows a thing or two about careers.

Our retirement plans are ruined…and why this may be good news

By Neil Patrick

We all know the way our careers were supposed to go. Roughly speaking.

We’d get a bunch of qualifications, start work, change employers maybe four or five times, work hard, get promoted and then at around 50 or so have a comfortable cruise towards our retirement at 65. Then we’d be able to relax and enjoy the next 20 or so years.

We’ll that’s all gone now for most of us.

I’m sorry to say that it doesn't make much difference what your employer or financial advisor recommends. If you are a baby boomer in the US, UK and much of the EU, unless you’ve been so successful (or lucky) in your career that you are sitting on a very large pension fund, this version of our life story is a fairy tale.

You probably know this.

In the US, some 82 percent of workers aged 50 and older say it is at least “somewhat likely” they will work for pay in retirement, according to a poll released in October by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago. Almost half of boomers polled now expect to retire later than they previously thought - on average nearly three years later than what they thought at age 40.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. People have a habit of being unduly optimistic when thinking about their financial position if it’s much beyond the next year or so. It’s a combination of hope and difficulty in facing up to harsh realities.

Some of the other statistics emerging in the US are really horrific.

One in 6 reported having less than $1,000 in retirement savings and 1 in 4 working respondents aren’t saving for retirement outside of Social Security. Some 12 percent of non-retired people reported borrowing from a 401(k) or other retirement plan in the past year. Though 29 percent reported at least $100,000 in savings, some find even that’s not enough.

“All too often, people have a lump-sum illusion. They think, ‘I have $100,000 in my 401(k),’ and they think, ‘I’m rich,’” “said Olivia Mitchell, a retirement specialist who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.“But it doesn’t add up to much. It certainly is not going to keep them in champagne and truffles.”

Make no mistake this isn’t a blip, or a phase. It’s a demolition of the life expectations of a generation. 

You can go searching for people to blame if you like. There are plenty who must carry at least a portion of the guilt. Personally, I think it’s more important to invest our energies in something more productive and positive.

Like working out what to do about this.

The good news is that humans are much more resilient and adaptable than we sometimes give ourselves credit for.

And when we are confronted with difficulties, we often respond in much more creative ways than we expect.

I have a friend who is 60. Two or three years ago he was on the face of it, doing well in his career in sales. He was the Sales Director for a booming manufacturing business. And much of that success was down to his drive and natural flair at finding clients and keeping them coming back for more. He’d be in his office every morning from about 7am, then from about 10am would be hunting down new clients and working on developing relationships with the current clients.

He was very, very good at his job. And the business was growing largely due to his abilities to win new orders and contracts. But I knew a different side. I knew that he was locked in a war with his boss. There was a huge power and personality fight going on. And this was steadily sapping my friend’s motivation and strength.

His stress levels were through the roof.

In the end he became ill. Very ill. He developed diabetes. He lost weight. He looked like a shadow of the man he used to be.

But he did the most sensible thing he could. He quit his job.

For a while he looked around for other jobs. But at 60, you guessed it, there was no-one interested in hiring him into the sort of job he just left. Especially since he’d quit at it.

Fast forward to today. I had a beer with my friend a couple of weeks ago. He looked strong and fit. He had recovered the twinkle in his eye and the infectious grin that he always used to have. He was happy and healthy again.

He hadn’t been hired into a new job. He’d created his own.

He was always great at DIY. And he loves doing it. He’s simply taken his hobby and turned it into his job. And by doing great work and looking after his customers better than almost any tradesman I ever met, he has far more work stacked up than he can actually do.

He's happier than he’s been for years. He has a job he loves and the customers are queuing up round the block.

Is he worried about his pension and retirement?

I doubt it, I really do.

Small Job Search Tips That Make You Stand Out Big Time

By Amanda Augustine

Catch your interviewer's eye with these surprisingly simple tips and reel in your next job.

In today's competitive job search, you could be battling 100 other qualified candidates for a position. (At least! -Ed) The only way to get the job is to catch the eye of the interviewers. Here are seven ways you can distinguish yourself from the pack during your job search.

Like it or not - you are in competition
Keep your story consistent
Make sure your online story - in the form of professional profiles, memberships, and so forth - aligns with your job goals and resume. It's important for a recruiter or hiring manager to find the same person online they met face-to-face or on paper.

Develop your tagline
Think about what makes you unique, taking into account your career goals, interests and passions, and what strengths you bring to the table. Use this information to develop the tagline to your elevator pitch. It should be short, memorable and adaptable to any audience.

Recommend a friend
If a recruiter reaches out with a position that isn't a great fit, don't ignore the message. Instead, look through your network to see if you know someone who would be a better fit for the position. This puts you in the recruiter's good graces and gives you a chance to clarify your professional brand and job goals.

Voice your opinion
Join and actively participate in online discussions with networking groups related to your target field of work. Engage in the conversation and share your knowledge. Recruiters are notorious for trolling these groups to scout potential candidates - by starting and contributing to conversations related to your industry, you're setting yourself apart from the other members.

FedEx it
Reserve this tactic for the job for which you're a perfect fit and incredibly interested in. In addition to submitting your application through the company's online application system, FedEx a copy of your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. FedEx packages are typically opened by the actual recipient, thus bypassing the gatekeeper and ensuring your application makes it to a key decision maker.

Come prepared
It's appalling how many professionals show up to an interview unprepared. Before you enter the room, make sure you've done your research. Set up Google Alerts on the company to stay abreast of any news related to your target employer. Research the company so you have a good sense of their business and standing in the marketplace. Practice responding to the interview questions that make you uneasy (i.e. "Tell me about yourself") and prepare questions for each interviewer that demonstrate you've done your homework and are genuinely interested in the role.

Say thank you
A study by TheLadders found that only 67 percent of those polled send a thank-you note after every interview. By sending a thank-you message to each interviewer within 24 hours of the interview, you differentiate yourself from other candidates and can help advance your candidacy to the next round.

Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and "Like" her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

This post originally appeared here:

Why it’s never too late to embark on your true calling

It’s a strange thing. As we age, we often see our opportunities narrowing not widening.

I say strange because as we go through life, we acquire more and more experience and skills, and logically therefore should see our options expanding not shrinking.

But so many of us are conditioned into thinking ourselves into a box. And if the box you are in just really isn't YOUR box, it gets kind of uncomfortable. And if you’re uncomfortable, you’ll never be capable of achieving your best work.

Here are some examples of well-known people who rejected those ideas and instead went after their true calling.

Some had found their path but hadn't attained any success... some were in a completely different career... some were on the verge of giving up or had given up. But as they matured, they found their true calling and never looked back.

Sylvester Stallone, deli counter attendant. After getting no career traction as an actor in his 20s, Stallone attacked his 30s like any 5'3 man should: He wrote a movie where he was an all-American hero who triumphed over every obstacle.

That movie was "Rocky"... he banged out the "Rocky" screenplay in three days, in between working at a deli counter and as a movie theater usher... and it launched his career with an Academy Award for Best Picture. 

Andrea Bocelli, lawyer. He'd loved music and singing his whole life... but didn't really see it as a career possibility. So, after school, he got a law degree at the University of Pisa. At age 30 he was working as a lawyer and moonlighting in a piano bar for fun and extra cash. He didn't catch a break as a singer until 1992, at age 34. 

Martha Stewart, stockbroker. When she was 30,Martha Stewart was a stockbroker, no doubt learning all about finance and the ‘ethics’ involved therein. Two years later she and her husband purchased a beat-down farmhouse in Connecticut... she led the restoration... transitioned into a domestic lifestyle... and grew that most innocent of things into her evil, evil career. 

Mao Tse-Tung, elementary school principal. In his 30’s, Mao was already involved in communism... he was a young star of the Chinese Communist Party... but didn't realize it could be a career. (Probably didn't see communism as being very lucrative...?)

Instead, he was working as the principal of an elementary school. Where, no doubt, hall passes were decadent. Four years later he started a communist group that eventually became the Red Army and put him in power.

JK Rowling, unemployed single mum. Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as "the biggest failure I knew". Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”.

During this period Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression, and contemplated suicide. Rowling signed up for welfare benefits, describing her economic status as being "as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless" 

Barack Obama, university lecturer. Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, as a Lecturer for four years (1992–1996), and as a Senior Lecturer for eight years (1996–2004).In 2004, he was 43 years old. I’m not entirely sure what happened after that.

James Joyce, alcoholic. By 30, Joyce was writing... just not getting published. So to make ends meet he reviewed books, taught and, weirdly, made a lot of money thanks to his gorgeous tenor singing voice. He was also a raging alcoholic, which isn't financially lucrative until you become an author and can parlay those drunken antics into stories. Just ask Hemingway. Or James Frey.

Joyce finally got his first book, "Dubliners", published at age 32, which launched his career as, arguably, one of the most successful authors of all time. 
Colonel Sanders, tons of blue collar jobs. Well into his 40’s Harland Sanders was still switching from one random career choice to another: Steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, farmer, railroad fireman. He didn’t start cooking chicken until he was 40 and didn't start franchising until he was 65. 

Rodney Dangerfield, aluminium siding salesman. He started doing stand-up at age 19... then gave up on it in his mid-20s.. He started working as an acrobatic diver ... and then as an aluminium siding salesman. He didn't start getting back into comedy until he was 40. 

Harrison Ford, carpenter. When Ford was 30, he starred in "American Graffiti"... which was a huge hit. But he got paid a pittance for acting in it, decided he was never going to make it as an actor, and quit the business to get back into the more financially dependable world of construction.

Four years later, he met up with George Lucas again (Lucas had directed "Graffiti") and Lucas cast him as Han Solo in a movie called Star Wars.

So there you have it. A more or less random list of people who have shown us that by refusing to be kept in your box and allowing your innermost talents to come to the fore, that it’s never too late to start on your own path to greatness.

I guess the message for us all is, never let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. Especially yourself.

UK: Why falling unemployment numbers are a mirage

By Neil Patrick

Well, it’s Saturday again. On this day every week, I tend to draw breath after the week’s activities, fill myself with coffee and reflect on the week’s news and developments.

Naturally enough, employment news is high on my list of topics to digest. And today is no different. Except that today, I have good news to report…well sort of.

In the UK, we are being told that we’re experiencing falling unemployment and that this is a sign of an improving economy.

Unemployment peaked at around 8.5% at the end of 2011 going into 2012. It’s now around 7.7% based on the current 3 month rolling average, or just 7.1% if you look at the latest monthly figure. So it’s showing a steady fall, perhaps even speeding towards the ‘target’ of 7.0%.

Why do I say that 7.0% is a target? Because that, said new Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, in his ‘forward guidance’ in August, is the level at which the BoE will start to increase interest rates.

Merryn Somerset-Webb, Editor in Chief of MoneyWeek described this as, ‘A dim-witted policy based on a number no-one understands’. Quite.

Carney also said he expected the UK to reach this position sometime around 2016! So we are doing great - we’re already miles ahead of where the Bank of England thought we’d be. Erm…not quite.

This figure of 7% is not some sort of magical threshold at which suddenly the recession becomes history and we all return to some sort of financial nirvana. Far from it.

If the current trend continues, we’ll be at 7% sometime around the middle of 2014. And fully unprepared to bear the even greater cost of living increases this will bring, on top of the ones which have crushed most people’s spending power over the last five years.

But as I have talked about elsewhere on this blog, raw unemployment numbers do not tell the story of what is really happening. And achieving the figure of 7% means absolutely nothing.

We know that huge numbers of people - around two million - are currently under-employed, i.e. they are working, but not earning as much as they need or want to. But they are not unemployed as such, so they are not counted.

Many more have simply given up looking for work and disappeared off the radar all together. These are not counted either.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of young people have decided to avoid leaving the ‘womb’ and have stayed within the education system, hoping that during their delay, the job market will improve and give them the win-win of higher qualifications and an improved jobs market. Yep you guessed it - another artificial diminution of the unemployment total.

Just about everyone who could afford to take and has been lucky enough to be offered any sort of early retirement package (senior public sector executives for the most part – no comment) has understandably jumped at the chance. So off they go too!

Once we factor in these aspects, you can see why the raw unemployment number is virtually meaningless as an indicator of the financial well-being of the nation.

Which would be okay if it were not being used by the BoE as a barometer to judge when we are all able to afford higher interest rates on our mortgages and higher inflation in the already massively overinflated and over-taxed costs of essentials like power, transport and food.

Meanwhile, these figures have caused a good deal of self-congratulation in government circles. The government knows just as well as you and I that these numbers are an illusion. But they are gambling on the belief that most of the electorate won’t spot the ruse.

And I fear their assessment about this may well be correct. Most people I think will not be interested in looking behind the numbers to see what is really happening and this blind spot will mean that many will be more inclined to accept the idea that the economy really is improving.

I’m sorry to say it’s just not true. It’s simply more lies and corrupted statistics.

Tips to turbo charge your social media for job hunting

By Neil Patrick and Axel Kőster

Several people have approached me asking about the best way to grow their social media presence to help with their job search. So I thought I’d team up with my good friend Axel Kőster at the Manhattan Group and share a few quick tips that we hope will be of help.

1. You cannot buy social media success!

Our first piece of advice is don’t ever be tempted into taking up offers to buy Twitter followers, Linkedin network or Facebook likes. This is a breach of the terms of service of Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook and it can easily get your account suspended. So don’t waste your money or risk your reputation! It’s also a wasted effort as the type of followers you’ll get are unlikely to be the type you want.

Like attracts like too, so if you follow people too randomly, you may for example start attracting a following of Romanian wrestling fans (or worse!) And once this happens, you can be sure more of the same will follow! Of course, the same thing happens if you follow the right people - you’ll attract more of the right people.

Whilst quantity is not a bad thing, quality trumps quantity every time. The people you should be connecting with are for example recruiters, job search experts, other people in your profession or what you are all about, news media and target employers in your own region/country (assuming you’re aren't planning on emigrating) not teenage Transformers fans in Tokyo! You will find many useful Twitter connections if you search the #Hashtags relevant to their field...for example #Job #Recruitment #AxelJob etc

2. Feel free to use my Twitter lists and set up your own!

Twitter can be a difficult thing to get comfortable with at first. As someone once remarked, ‘Twitter doesn’t come with an instruction book.’ Neither does it have much in the way of useful tools within it (more on this shortly) and the ‘Help desk’ is non-existent. So it’s down to you to be creative and develop your Twitter account in a way that works for you and helps you achieve your goals.

Our view is quite simple - you should 'run your own race, not someone’s else’s' and make it one which you are comfortable with. Setting up your own Twitter lists before you get too many followers is a wise idea to help you find people again when you may have forgotten their name or company!

So, my second tip is to take advantage of the Twitter lists I have set up to help you on my Twitter account. Here, I’ve placed the most helpful people in my Twitter following and organised the key ones like recruiters by location, so you can quickly and easily find and follow the ones which are most relevant to you.

Please feel free to subscribe to any of my lists you like and as I update them, they’ll be automatically updated for you too!

I have also set up lists of other useful people for you like coaches, resume writers and the most exciting firms that are hiring.

And for beginners on social media, it is a great idea to network with experts and more experienced people in this field. Their blogs and tips will usually be free and can get you off to a faster and more confident start.

We are both more than happy to help beginners for free and steer you in the right direction. So if you think we could help you, please just ask!

3. Use Twitter to find and engage with the people that are important to you

Compared to Linkedin, Twitter is an informal and relaxed environment. And in every field, there are ‘stars’ who everyone would like to have in their network. But asking strangers to connect with you on Linkedin may result in a decline. So don’t risk it.

Connect with them first on Twitter by making some positive comments on or regularly retweeting their tweets for example and they will be likely to reciprocate your follow. Once you've established a connection in this way, it’s then relatively easy to connect with them also on Linkedin.

4. Have a plan and stick to it

Our fourth tip is to make your social media activity a regular part of your daily routine. It’s very easy to get sucked into spending hours and hours every day, reading posts, commenting, sending out Tweets etc. etc. Don’t! Have a strategy and a plan for a reasonable amount of time each day to devote to your social media activity and stick to it. Prioritise the tasks you will do each day and focus on hitting those targets.

Developing a successful dialogue with one or two key people each day is a much better use of your time than spreading yourself too thinly across dozens of discussions and Groups. A single well-constructed comment or response to a key person is more valuable than clicking a hundred ‘like’ buttons. So stay focussed!

5. Make use of social media tools to help you

The next tip is to make use of some of the fantastic free tools that are available to help you manage your social media presence and get much more efficient at it.

As I said earlier, Twitter doesn’t have many useful tools within it, so you need to make use of separate tools to help you develop your social media profile in an informed and focused way.

Two of the most useful are Kred and SocialBro and here’s Axel’s take on these and how they can be of help to you.

Last but not least, if you’d like more help from Axel or myself, please feel free to get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.

What to say to employers to get hired into the hidden jobs market

If you are looking for a job, how many times have you called a company to ask if they have any job openings and the response has been something like, ‘Not right now, but please send us your resume and we’ll keep it on file and let you know if something comes up’?

I don’t think I can say it’s never happened, but I have never heard of anyone being called back after their resume has been sent in to a firm and put ‘on file’.

It might as well be filed in the bin. Sometimes, I am sure it is.

To avoid this happening to you, you need totally different tactics.

As I talked about in this post here on the hidden job market, the secret is not to ask people if they have any job vacancies. It’s to become a detective and use research to discover firms that have a problem that you can help them solve.

As with so many aspects of successful job searching, the key to your success is in working smarter, not harder. And thinking of yourself not as a job seeker, but a solution to other people’s problems. Find the problems and you’re half way there.

If you want to know how you can do this, how to find the right organisations to approach and exactly what to say to them, this great clip from sales expert Jill Konrath, spells it all out for you.

The invisible threat to all our futures

By Neil Patrick

I started this blog because I am convinced we babyboomers are in a period of unprecedented danger. And not only us, those that depend on us too. Like our kids. And our parents. And because no-one seemed to have any idea what to do about it.

Just about everything we grew up believing about jobs and careers and how our lives would unfold has been swept away in a perfect storm of recession, global economic power shifts, financial crisis, government failure and transformation of the workplace.

Our education in the 1960’s and 70’s was a reflection of a different world. This was a world in which the US and the western economies still held sway. And the education system was geared to providing a workforce which fed that economic machine with the human labour and skills it needed.

Only scraps remain of that world. Just look at Detroit and any other examples of the old world which are now little more than derelict monuments to a bygone era.

As a group, we are extremely poorly equipped to respond to changes of this magnitude. If you have a job, you may consider that all this is irrelevant to you. You may consider yourself lucky. In some ways you are. But do you genuinely believe you will still have a job in five or ten years’ time?

Whatever your answer to the question, the fact is you are almost certainly going to need one.

Today, we have governments that still do not accept that this collapse is irreversible. They cling to electoral manifestos which regardless of policy or position on the political spectrum, argue that their policies are the right ones to restore the situation to something resembling what we all grew up in.

Well, I believe that’s all hogwash. It is never coming back.

The reason politicians tell us that they know what to do to restore the old world order, is simply because saying anything else would make them unelectable.

Moreover, there is a cosy alliance in place between government and big business which maintains a status quo and is a perfect mechanism for protecting the personal interests of the political and business elites.

We are actually partly to blame for this. We abdicated our responsibilities wholesale to our governments many years ago. We put our faith and trust in them. You want education for your kids? Fine we’ll provide that. You want defence against real or imagined enemies? Fine, we’ll protect you. You want doctors and hospitals? No problem. Free education for your kids? Check. You want care for the elderly, and roads and railways and waste removal and a justice system and food hygene and pensions? Don’t worry, we give you all of these. The list is endless.

And that’s the problem. Because every government has attempted to provide all these things to ensure it retains or attains power, we have asked for and they have accepted a magnitude of tasks which they are almost bound to fail to deliver. Not only that, we have to pay for it.

So on the one hand we have an almost endless and growing list of government service obligations to citizens. On the other, we have to figure out how we can pay for this. And yup, you’ve guessed it. We can’t. The money (or more specifically, the credit) has run out. You can only borrow and tax so much before you reach breaking point.

And if your economy isn’t growing, your tax receipts are falling. But you’ve still got to pay for all those promises you made to the electorate.

That’s why the promise has become impossible for governments to keep. The promise was predicated on the belief that western business and economic growth could continue to outpace the rest of the world.

Western governments have dug themselves so deeply into debt that no amount of economic improvement will get us back to where we all want to be.

Yesterday I was sent a viewpoint from someone who I won’t name, but who has had many dealings with the political elites, which I think sums up perfectly the hidden nature of the forces at work in government – and underpins my belief of one of the key reasons we cannot expect to see significant change if we look to politicians (of ANY party) to be our saviours.

The tone is heavily ironic and talks about the UK system, but is broadly relevant to the governments of all western economies, so read with that in mind.

Why do we need a new political philosophy when we already have a perfectly good one? The trouble is that people don’t understand it so let me explain.

We have a democracy. This means that we choose from among a small cadre of hereditary leaders who select a head from amongst themselves. They are in a unique position to do this: they have been trained from secondary school (usually but not only Eton) to understand their entitlement. They are then trained at university (usually Oxford or Cambridge) how to exercise it, for the most part on Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) courses.

They understand as none of the rest of us do that political leadership has nothing to do with purpose other than itself and nothing to do with us. They are not interested and, more to the point, experience has taught them that for a relatively small outlay in highly skilled lying we can be conned into anything. And if the worst comes to the worse they can find scapegoats for us to blame for any consequences that fall upon us. The workshy are blamed for unemployment, the homeless for shortage of housing, the poor for poverty, immigrants for almost everything.

They are pragmatists above all. They recognise that real power in the world lies with money and globally organised money in particular. So they look after the interests of “business” which really means very big business and finance. In return business looks after them. The price is very high: the lies with which to justify the upward distribution of power and wealth become increasingly transparent but it is not a real problem. We must after all select from among their number if we can be bothered to engage in the process at all.

So there you have it. A perfect system already exists. To oppose it creates the danger of instability which makes you a terrorist. Relax and enjoy.

You may think that what I have said so far is unduly cynical and pessimistic nonsense. You may even think it smacks of paranoia. After all I have presented no facts to support my opinion. Worse I have presented no practical alternative. Without facts and a real alternative, how plausible is my argument?

Those criticisms are all fair and reasonable. And that’s why I’ll be returning with more on this topic over the coming weeks.

For now though, I’ll just leave you with this question. Do you sincerely believe your government, or its opponents, really have a realistic chance of delivering anything resembling the sort of lifestyle we all grew up expecting over the next 20-40 years?

An MBA Trashes The Degree’s Value

by John A. Byrne

Mariana Zanetti had been working as a product manager for Shell in Buenos Aires when her husband got a promotion to a new job in Madrid. One of her colleagues, a Harvard Business School graduate, suggested that the Argentine native go to business school for her MBA while in Spain.

She took his advice, enrolling in the one-year MBA program at Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School In Madrid. Zanetti borrowed money from her family to pay for the degree. And when she graduated in 2003, it took her a full year before landing a job as a product manager for a Spanish version of Home Depot at exactly the same salary she was earning three years earlier without the MBA.

For years, Zanetti says, she wanted to write the just published book but didn’t for fear that it would hurt her professional career which included stints as a product manager for Saint-Gobain and ResMed, a medical supplier. Now that she has left the corporate world, Zanetti says, she can tell the truth about the MBA degree.


Her take, in a self-published book called The MBA Bubble: It’s just not worth the investment. “There is an education bubble around these kind of degrees,” she says. “I don’t think they have much impact on people’s careers. There are exceptions of course in management consulting and investment banking where the MBA is always valued. But for the rest, it’s a nice-to-have degree. It’s not that it harmful to you, but every market expert I interviewed for the book says that what is needed today is specialized knowledge and skills and an MBA is generalist training.”

Zanetti, now 40 and living in France, says it’s not like the degree had no value. “I met wonderful people. I met brilliant professors. I learned some interesting business concepts that gave me a global vision about business. It just wasn’t worth the cost in time and money. I could have had both those things by staying in the marketplace. I had the same salary as everybody else doing the same job, working the same endless hours. MBAs get high salaries but the degree has nothing to do with it. I was hired because of my previous work experience at Shell.”

She is even advising people to apply to a top school, get an acceptance and then decline to go. Put the fact on your resume and Zanetti thinks it will have nearly the same value as going to an MBA program for two years. “It’s like being an Academy Award nominee instead of an Academy Award winner,” she writes. “But the difference between the two is mortgaging our future and accepting the risk of getting stuck with a monumental student loan.” When an employer asks why you didn’t go to Kellogg or Yale for your MBA, she advises, just tell them, “I preferred to use that time and money to develop strategic skills to benefit my employers’ competitive advantage…”

Of course, Zanetti’s complaint about the MBA is hardly new. It falls neatly into the growing genre of anti-higher education tirades that decry the rising costs of education and the lack of any guarantees. But what makes her MBA bashing somewhat different is that she has the degree from a prominent European business school and has decided to write a 232-page book trying to convince others to pass on the MBA, which has been the most successful degree in education in the last 60 to 70 years.

She believes that other business graduates would fess up to the same conclusion, if not for the fact that their views would endanger their careers. “There are few people criticizing MBA programs because it makes no sense to say anything bad against their brands,” Zanetti says. “I will not make a lot of friends with this book, but I won’t make enemies, either. People need to have this opinion.”

Her initial mistake, she says, was to blindly follow the advice of her Harvard MBA colleague instead of just getting a job when she moved to Europe with her husband. “I didn’t ask myself the right questions. Everyone was getting an MBA. Unfortunately, many people take the same position.”


Asked if she thinks her opinion would apply to MBAs from Harvard, Stanford and other elite business schools, Zanetti has no doubt. “The same would apply to Harvard or whatever school because Harvard is three times more expensive,” she insists. “The benefits would have cost much more. The arguments I make are against all business schools. The improvement is marginal. It breaks a tie if you’re competing with someone who doesn’t have the degree, but people who have scarce skills an employer needs will get the job over you.”

Zanetti says she harbored these doubts and concerns about the degree, especially after being unemployed for a year after graduation. But she largely kept them to herself until leaving the corporate world a little more than a year ago. “I always wanted to have my own business and to teach,” she adds. “I didn’t intend to write this book.”

Then, she knocked out an article published in France about her ideas. The opinion piece seemed to resonate with a lot of people so she wrote The MBA Bubble, which will be published in France next year and was self-published in English this week. She has built a nice-looking website to promote the book, though for some odd reason she does not openly identify herself as an IE MBA. ”My school is not a secret,” says Zanetti, who lists her diploma on her LinkedIn profile.

Her primary arguments against the degree? It is oversold by the business schools with slick marketing campaigns. Most people enter MBA programs without really understanding the limits of the degree. The education costs too much and delivers too little value. And often times graduates are saddled with so much debt that it limits their ability to follow their true passions. They take jobs they don’t want simply to pay off their student loans. Even the value of the network a graduate acquires with the degree is exaggerated and hardly worth it.


She’s unimpressed, if downright skeptical of data that shows MBAs get average increases over their pre-MBA base salaries of between 120% to 46% (see The MBA Bump: How Much To Expect?). And those averages are for all business schools, not just the prestige brand name places. Zanetti is also skeptical of surveys that show widespread satisfaction with the degree. One recent survey, based on the opinions of 4,135 MBA alumni, including 963 members of the Class of 2011, found that three out of four alumni of the class of 2011 with jobs reported that they could not have obtained their job without their graduate management education.

“Everybody is doing it and everybody still goes,” Zanetti sighs. “They take for granted that it is a good investment. Business schools manipulate the statistics and they are doing (unethical) things to market the degree. In France, one school hired a company to make fake (positive) comments in Internet forums. These schools have this university halo around them and talk about the labor market as if they are impartial but they are not. They are favoring their businesses. They continue selling things that do not have value because it has profit.”

Oftentimes, she says, her experience at IE was less than satisfying. “Business schools don’t treat you as a customer,” she says. “Applicants should not forget that they are customers and are buying something. We were even insulted. One day we were in a meeting room and the professional career director said to us, ‘Get out of here you scum.’ It was funny to him. I told him, ‘What’s so funny? I am paying your salary. I didn’t find it funny.”


She says that IE’s director of career management also told students it was really hard to change industries with an MBA. “Yet they use it as a marketing claim,” she points out. But it is really not true. You really have to fight to change industries. I did change industry but in the same job function.”

Zanetti estimates that she uses no more than 20% to 30% of what she learned in her one-year MBA program. As for networking, she shrugs. “You spend time with great people, but you can spend time with great people in many places, It is not unique. The network is really overrated because you meet wonderful people everywhere. It’s just one way to meet people. You can build your own brand in less time than it would take to pay back your loans.”

This post originally appeared here: