“The main benefit from working with Challenge Consulting is the guarantee of finding the best possible person for the position required.”

Wendy Tunbridge – Uniting
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]

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Linkedin currently has over 500 million users in 200 countries and territories and has plans to expand its user base to 3 billion in the not so distant future. It seems that Linkedin is not going away any time soon, with the platform increasingly playing a role in the search for talented candidates.

Faced with 500 million other Linkedin user profiles it can be overwhelming to think of ways to make your profile stand out in such a huge crowd. To give you a helping hand we have pulled together some top tips for ensuring your Linkedin profile has maximum impact on the right people!

Choosing the right profile picture

Make sure you have a profile photo! According to Linkedin, profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views than those without. We would advise you to keep it simple – use a plain background to avoid distraction and ensure you are presented professionally. Make eye contact with the camera and smile! Avoid selfies or using photos with family or friends be it on holidays or on a night on the town. Whilst you might think these photos indicate how sociable and well-travelled you are, they can also serve to create a negative impression and distract from the professional image you are trying to present. You may also want to consider paying for a professional head shot to avoid the pit falls above!

Sell yourself in a brief profile

This is your chance to really sell yourself and let potential recruiters and employers out there understand who you are, what you do and where your interests lie. Very often we come across profiles containing a large number of ‘Featured Skills’. Whilst we would encourage you to complete this section to ensure your profile features in any search results for that skill, where we have 100’s of candidates with a similar background and skill set it can become very difficult to distinguish between them. This is where your personal profile comes in to play! Providing a summary allows you to put your skills in to context by giving some brief information on your background and experience to date. If you are open to new roles or changing career paths, this section also offers you the opportunity to clarify the type of roles you would be interested in hearing about. Make it as easy for the recruiters and employers out there to understand where you are coming from and where you want to be!

Encourage head hunting by making your profile public

We live in an age where we are increasingly wary of the risks of putting our personal details online. However, if you want to attract the attention of employers and recruiters out there it really is essential they be able to view your profile. You don’t need to include personal details like addresses or phone numbers but by making your profile public, employers and recruiters have the option to decide if you’re a good fit for any potential roles and approach you via InMail. If for whatever reason you are reluctant to mention in your summary profile that you are looking for new roles, you could make use of Linkedin’s relatively new functionality which allows you designate yourself as ‘Open to new opportunities’. This functionality is only available for premium users of Linkedin such as subscribers of Linkedin Recruiter which is typically used by recruiters and human resource professionals and is therefore unlikely to be visible to your current employer or Linkedin connections.

Personalise your profile

Create a multi-dimensional profile by including information which sets you apart and makes your profile memorable. Make sure to include any voluntary experience you have completed, memberships of organisations or committees as well as any major personal accomplishments. Endorsements and recommendations from previous employers will also help your profile stand out from others. Connect with Linkedin groups of interest to you which will not only expand your network but also give potential employers and recruiters an idea of your outside interests.

Linkedin has become something of a game changer in recruitment. It is a platform that is being utilised like never before by recruiters and employers alike who are using it frequently to source talent particularly in areas where there is a skills shortage. If your Linkedin profile is not up to scratch it may be overlooked! Give yourself the best chance of obtaining a new role by following our top tips to reinvigorate your profile!

For information on Linkedin Statistics see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-numbers-2017-statistics-meenakshi-chaudhary and https://press.linkedin.com/about-linkedin?#

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As we approach winter, and the days get colder, flu season approaches. Just as a bout of flu can decimate an office so can the Affects of a toxic employee.

Toxic employees are like a contagious sickness that spreads through the workplace. Like a sickness, if not addressed, more and more people are affected.  The costs of this behaviour are detrimental to your business.

Each day at work we all have many interactions with others.  These interactions have a bigger affect, either positive or negative, on another’s emotions than we may think. Harvard professor Nicholas Christakis and political scientist James Fowler discovered that an emotion does not just spread between the people directly involved in an interaction.  The interaction has a ripple effect, where this emotion from people spreads to their friends, to their friends’ friends and so on. So, one person’s toxic behaviour affects many others directly or indirectly.

Toxic employees create a negative and unhealthy working culture among the team. The negative atmosphere generates an imbalance in the team.  Instead of focusing on work, a disgruntled employee’s cognitive resources are likely to be spent on analysing their de-energising relationship with the toxic employee and how best to navigate around the issue. As a result, employees experience more conflict among each other, less cohesion and trust, which decreases the ability to solve problems and overall team performance. This level of disruption can be difficult to resolve if the negativity is prolonged or is not addressed.

One of the major ripple effects from toxic employees is employee turnover, where the sense of dissatisfaction in the workplace, not only reduces motivation, but can increase people’s intentions to leave. Top performers are more likely to exit, because they view negativity as a roadblock to their progress. According to a 2015 study by talent management company, Cornerstone on Demand, 54 percent of high performing employees are more likely to resign when they work with a toxic employee.

Toxicity not only affect’s current employees, but also prospective ones. Prospective employees can be deterred from working for an employer if they do their homework on the employer’s working culture (via sites such as Glass Door) before applying or accepting a job offer. Additionally, the hiring and training costs involved when employers inevitably replace the toxic employees is something to be considered. The maintenance of the employees who have been affected by the toxicity is also an additional cost that will take time to restore.

Hence, it is vital that employers attempt to quickly rectify any signs of toxicity in the workplace.

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When you look up the term ‘leadership’ or ‘leadership roles’, you will find many articles on what to do to become a great leader. It is also important to be aware of bad habits that can hinder progress.

I know I have been guilty of at least two of the items listed below, but the first step is being aware of these habits so that you can find the ways to improve your leadership performance:

  1. Taking credit for others’ ideas and contributions – We all know the famous term, there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’. It is very exciting when members of your team make a contribution that takes the organisation in a positive direction. However, the biggest failures one can make as a leader is to neglect to recognise and acknowledge individual and team contributions. If you are taking credit for someone else’s work, chances are you will start to notice your team working against you and not for you because they do not feel appreciated or valued.
  2. Using a position of power to control and intimidateothers — This autocratic style of leadership will often leave the team with a low level of autonomy. This can prevent creative ideas being presented as team members feel they do not have the right to contribute.
  3. Blaming others when things go wrong – It is important to recognise with the team when mistakes are made and that they have negative consequences in order to assess better solutions for the future. However, singling people out, pointing fingers, or making others carry the full weight of the failure is not reaction a leader should take. A leader needs to stand by their team no matter what, accept responsibility of when things go wrong, keep track of team members and progression, and have an ‘open door’ for team members to approach if they are experiencing struggles on tasks.
  4. Clinging to traditional methods and old ideas –In order to thrive in society most leaders need to think outside the box, take risks when needed and use innovation to be one step ahead of competitors. While traditional methods may have worked in the past, if you find you are constantly using the same strategy when the rest of the world is changing, you may fall behind. This includes those that refuse to learn new skills and tools to keep up with today’s market. If you are not trying to learn and adapt, you will fall behind.
  5. Failing to keep promises – Leaders who make promises but do not follow through risk loss of personal credibility, trust and the goodwill of others. If you have let down your team more than once, it can often take a long time to earn that trust back.
  6. Actingalone – Leaders who do not consult, collaborate or solicit input from others often fail to make enlightened decisions. Leaders also need to make sure they delegate tasks within the team appropriately so that they can stretch their teams’ abilities.

Failing to effectively manage issues – Leaders who dismiss the need to address, manage and resolve issues, place themselves and their organisation at risk.

What are some of the experiences you have learned in a leadership role? What were the learning curves that you have experienced?

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Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?

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You have worked hard to get your promotion, now you have to set yourself up for success in your new role. Preparing to take on more responsibility will make the transition process run smoothly and will help set you up for future success.

So what are the next steps after you receive the promotion? What can you do to keep yourself on track?

1. Get clear expectations. The first thing you need to do is really understand your new role. What does the organisation expect of you? What does your manager expect of you? And what do you expect of yourself? Clarifying these expectations sets up a path to follow.

2. Set your goals What do you want to accomplish and why? Set personal and career goals both short and long term so you can measure your progress on the path. Don’t be afraid to share your goals or vision with management and get their buy in as well,

3. Talk to your boss. Get to know your manager and determine how you will work together. How and when will you communicate and what will help you succeed beyond the job description. These things are critically important to your mutual success.

4. Focus on building relationships. You may have moved to a new department with new peers or report to and a new manager. The relationships with the people around you are part of that job! Invest time in building relationships with your new peers, people in other groups, your boss, your customers, and if you are a leader, your team. It makes your working environment more positive and productive if you have a level of rapport with your team.

5. Learn what you need to learn. Remember you are new to this position so you cannot know it all on the first day! It is part of our development to learn new skills. Take notes, ask questions, request feedback to make sure you are heading on the path towards success. The earlier you set yourself up to understand the requirements and expectations of the role, the easier it will be to settle into the position and start delivering.

6. Celebrate! Of course you deserve the time to celebrate your promotion and share the excitement with others. Take some time for yourself and those closest to you to celebrate your progress and accomplishments. Celebrating builds your confidence and awareness, and it sets you on the right path for even better performance.

Sometimes we tend to rush from one project to the next without fully understanding what we have achieved. Every accomplishment is a stepping stone on the path towards your future. Show appreciation towards those who helped get you get to that next stage.

If you have been through a promotion recently, what steps did you take to continue to perform at your best and show that you were the right one for the job?

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You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

• Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

• Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

• Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

• Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

• Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?

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When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

 7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?

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As we become familiar with different forms of online networks and methods of communication, our personal brand begins to spread across the World Wide Web. Our data and details are collected in many ways – when we apply for jobs, create social media pages, sign up for competitions or events, etc.

Most of the information we share we tend to know about as we tailor this information and share it through social networks. However, while we have a certain element of control over what information we share and with whom, if you were to look up your name on Google, what would you find?

I can’t say that I am too surprised with what I personally find when I look up my name through Google these days. The three main categories I seem to find my name under are:

• Instagram Image Sharing – As this is more open to the public, the images I share with quotes and hashtags are available to view by the world
• Event Registrations – Whether they are charity events or races, if I have placed a registration, my name and results are there (to an extent).
• Corporate Profile/Networks – My company profile is there, blogs I have posted, my LinkedIn profile and other business networks that I am a member of.

Other information that I wasn’t as aware of included event photos from when I used to work in the events industry and comments that I have made on articles that I follow online. While nothing negative or appalling was revealed, it did make me want to mention the importance of being careful with what you post online.

This includes reflecting on your emotions during a difficult time and avoiding the use of the internet to vent your frustrations to the world. For example, if you are complaining about your boss and you forget that you have other connections in your network who are also linked to your boss. You could ultimately ruin your dignity and you may also lose your job.

Keeping a professional image is important for many online avenues. If you attend a networking function with an event photographer present, chances are images will be shared across corporate networks. It is important to keep in mind the behaviour and message you want to portray, especially when trying to establish new connections and relationships.

It can also be important to have a look online just to see if there are any details that need to be ‘cleaned up’ or updated as well. Sometimes we spend more time on one social network compared to another and therefore we forget to update information that may be relevant. This could include current employment, skill sets, interests/hobbies or courses that you may be attending.

Have you updated your social media presence? Have you looked up your name on Google lately?

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Technology has revolutionised the way we work and how we run business. We can obtain data faster, respond to the needs of customers and connect with others locally and globally. We have multiple avenues to source information and tools that help us to be more productive.

However, with access to so many resources we can also get caught up with many distractions. Our eyes are easily drawn to flashes on the computer screen or mobile phone.

Anyone can relate to the irritating sound of an alarm going off or the ‘pings’ and ‘zings’ of notifications on mobile phones.  You are not just distracting yourself, others around you are also affected. However, with some simple discipline, you can still be in control of your online networks, without letting it take control of you.

Silencing Notifications

There are multiple ways that technology can catch our attention. There are calendar reminders, instant messages, online notification updates on your social media pages, you name it!

While it is important to keep calendar reminders for appointments chances are most of your other notifications can wait.

Solution: You have the control to silence the notifications on your phone and disable pop ups on your laptop/PC. If you are receiving texts, chances are if the matter is urgent, the individual can call you directly. While calendar updates are important for reminders, you don’t need to set yourself up to receive every LinkedIn or Facebook notification.

Sometimes it can be as simple as keeping your mobile off your desk if you feel yourself inadvertently checking it for no reason.

You can even block sites completely from your PC if you know they will distract you from your work.

Managing your time to access different resources

Many emails will not require a direct response, but as the amount of emails increase in your mailbox, it can be easy to get caught up with trying to answer all of them at once. But you will normally find as soon as you finish that last email, all of a sudden, another email pops up.

It can also be very distracting to be on the phone with a customer or colleague and see the notification come up on your computer screen advising you of a new email. You can find your eyes wander to the subject heading, and then immediately you are thrown off from your conversation.

Solution: Block out an allocated amount of time to just action emails and nothing else. If any matters are urgent or you need an immediate response, avoid the email trail by making a direct phone call to the person.

By managing your priorities for the day, you can then allocate time to check on LinkedIn requests, customer queries, and company social media statistics. This may require setting a disciplined routine to start off with so that it becomes a habit to manage your priorities before letting technology distract you.

Unless Social Media is part of your job description, save your personal updates and group chats for personal time outside of the office or in your breaks.

How do you deal with online distractions and notifications?

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These days having a LinkedIn profile in the corporate world is almost a necessity. While Facebook and Twitter share your personal thoughts and opinions, LinkedIn will make you shine as a professional if you utilise it correctly.

It’s an opportunity to share you’re employment history, qualifications/achievements. Effectively, it’s your digital resume. Your LinkedIn profile is available to a huge variety of employers. People are often head-hunted even when they aren’t looking for employment.

However, if you are not using your profile to its potential, you could be missing out on opportunities without even realising it.
An article by Emmanuel Banks posted on Lifehack shares simple steps to making your LinkedIn profile more attractive to employers:

Treat It Like an Interview
First impressions are quite important during an interview and so is your presentation. The same applies when formatting your online layout and choosing an appropriate profile picture.

You want to create a positive and professional image so choose a profile picture that reflects you in a professional way. If it looks like you are on an all-night party bender, or modelling a bikini while on your latest holiday, you may be deterring employers straight away. This also applies to a poorly presented or poorly written ‘Summary’ or ‘Employment History’. If you are not taking the time to proofread or update your personal details, qualifications or skill, you could be automatically viewed as sloppy. If you are making LinkedIn connections with business professionals for the first time and they have potential to help you get your foot in the door, make sure you are advertising yourself to your best ability.

Stay Connected
The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect and network.

Requesting a contact to connect allows you to provide a tailored introduction to the person and explain why you feel it is important to connect with them. You can then follow up with contacts on a to keep them up to date on your career. There are also groups for members within your industry where you can be kept up-to-date regarding networking events, news topics and discussions.

It also shows your passion and genuine interest in the industry to keep connecting with others and participating in as many groups and interactions as you can. It maintains relationships with past and present contacts.

Have Your Experience Vouched
Your background and experience can appear even more attractive to an employer when they see that other professionals have verified your experience or expertise.

Employers may be looking for a select set of skills for a potential role and it can prove advantageous when others verify your experience or even provide recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask past employers’ if they would mind verifying details or providing a recommendation.

Keep Profile Up to Date
It is time consuming for an employer to chase up information that isn’t included on your online profile. Important information can include; a good description of your current position, start and finish dates of your previous appointments, reference details or educational achievements.

Even if you are not looking for a new role, it is important to keep your information up to date just in case you situation changes. This will also save you time if you do decide to look for work elsewhere in the future.

What do you highlight on your LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out?