Thursday, 2 July 2015

Why networking is essential for long-term career success

It's estimated that the average person will have 4 careers over a life-time.  The permanent- pensionable- job for- life is dead we all need to face up to the possibility that we might be job hunting or career changing at some point in the future.  The best way to prepare for this almost certain eventuality  is to cultivate a strong on-line presence and a network of professional contacts before we enter the job hunting arena.

The April (2015) Issue of 'People Management' highlighted the growing trend among private businesses to cultivate relationships with potential candidates years before they actually want to hire them!  In the 1990's Daniel Goleman famously coined the phrase 'Emotional Intelligence' and provided research which showed that people who were very successful tended to have the following 5 traits:

  • Self-awareness (Intuition)
  • Being able to manage their emotions
  • Motivation
  • Empathy (Being able to read others)
  • Likeability
All of these traits are increasingly important to secure and keep the job you want.  Check out this YouTube video to find out more about emotional intelligence:


With over 70% of job vacancies being filled by internal staff and contacts of internal staff, chances are  you need to be connected to be in with a chance of getting your dream job!

Where to network?
Networking events (tweet-ups, events organised by professional bodies)

How to network?

  • Make use of the advanced filter on linked-in.  If you would love a certain position or to work for a company then find out if you know anybody in that position/workplace or does any of your contacts have a contact in that position/workplace.
  • On twitter follow businesses you would love to work for, colleagues and professionals in your line of work.  Use twitter to keep up to date with what is happening in your industry and to establish a professional image of yourself on-line.
In person:
  • Go to networking events which interest you.
  • Dress well.  As Ronnie, a colleague of mine says 'In order to be successful you must be happy in your work and look your best'.  I think that this is very sensible advice.
  • Prepare an introduction for your-self.
  • Choose your networking 'victims' wisely.  Go for singletons and groups which have an open body language and look interested in talking to new people.  Avoid closed groups which are deep in conversation.
  • Listen to others, try not to talk too much or drink too much!
Thanks to 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

10 Surprising things I learned at the Gradireland Summer Fair

I really enjoyed the Gradireland Fair in the RDS on the 10th June. First-rate exhibitors, interesting talks and a very useful CV clinic made for a great day where I learned a lot of new ideas.  Here are some notable ones....

1.  Appendix your CV

You have excellent exam results, won a bucket of prestige awards and are generally awesome.  You want to put all your accomplishments on your CV to impress potential employers but you don't have room on your 2 page CV.  Solution: Add an appendix at the back of your CV which lists exam results and other accomplishments which you don't have room for in your CV.  Thanks for the tip gradireland CV clinic.

2. 70% of Jobs are not advertised.
Up to 70% of jobs are filled internally, through friends of existing employees, by the employees of direct competitors and  through the recommendation of a trusted recruiter.

3. the quarter-life crisis happens to almost everyone.
Having a melt -down?  Don't know where you are going in your career?  Confused?  Don't worry your not alone.  The quater life crisis is the new normal.

4. Wear a watch to interviews
Wearing a watch to an interview shows that you care about time keeping and makes a good impression.

5. If you are a woman wear blue or yellow to an Interview but avoid Red.
Blue is a calming colour and yellow radiates positivity.  Both of these colours are great for interviews.  Avoid wearing red as this can be aggressive.

6. Networking is essential and is neither sleazy nor needy!
If you think networking is only for the smarmy and the pathetic then you need to think again! Approximately 70% of jobs are not advertised so you need to know people in order to get a foot in the door.  Learn to make the most of Linkedin and real life.  Go to networking events that genuinely interest you, be polite to people and dress nicely.

7. Job hunting and networking are a lot like dating
First impressions count- It only takes 4 seconds for someone to decide if they like you or not.  You should try to look your best for both.  Politeness, likeability and being interesting count for a lot.

8. Your personal brand is the only constant factor in your career.
They say that the average person changes career approximately 4 times over the course of his/her career and there is no such thing a permanent job.  The only thing you can count on is your personal brand.  Take care of it- be careful what you post on facebook, twitter and linkedin, but do post.  It is important to have a strong social media presence.  Just make sure that it is a positive presence.

9. Try working in a start-up or SME to get an overall exposure to business and experience working in lots of different areas.
Looking to get into HR and want to get experience working in lots of different areas?  Don't overlook start-ups and SME's.  A lot of bigger firms stratify their departments so you may only get exposure to one area- recruitment, comps and benefits, training etc... Smaller firms tend to have smaller HR departments and you may get a better feel for what you like and what you are good at.

10.  Practice your handshake
A good firm handshake is invaluable as you move through your career.

Thanks to the Gradireland fair for the event

The tips I have listed come from:

 Dublin based stylist  Laura Jordan

Presentation and Career expert Rowan Manahan

Career Consultant Sinead English

Quarter Life Crisis Coach Paula Coogan

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Social media and the workplace

So you've been publicly shamed

In his new book 'So you've been publicly shamed' Jon Ronson meets a number of individuals who have had their lives ruined by a misjudged comment or joke on twitter or facebook. Among the victims of 'trial by twitter' is Lindsey Stone a woman who posted an ill judged photograph of herself on holiday and due to violent outpourings from social media followers loses her job and is unable to leave her house for a year. We meet Justine Sacco who made an offensive 'joke' on twitter and as a result received death threats and lost her job after a kangaroo court of twitter followers called for her to be fired.  While it could be argued that  Justine and Lindsey contributed to their own downfall by publishing comments/photographs  that were likely to offend large numbers of people, it is difficult not to feel sorry for Hank who lost his job after a private joke he made to a friend was posted on twitter without his knowledge.

Ronson has produced a fascinating book which raises a lot of questions about the role of  social media in the work-place. For one thing, it is interesting to note that Hank, Justine and Lindsey are all American.  While it could be argued that Justine's behaviour constituted gross misconduct and potentially brought her workplace into disrepute, it is difficult to see how Hank's mildly off colour private joke or Lindsey's photograph constituted gross misconduct.  In the UK and Ireland, employees are protected by the unfair dismissals act.  In order for a dismissal to be deemed fair the courts like to see that the employee has undergone a fair procedure and that the dismissal is proportionate to the misconduct.

What can Irish employers do if an employee transgresses on social media?
What can employers do if an employee behaves in an inappropriate way on social media such as bullying or harassing colleagues or speaking in an inappropriate way about the company?

  • Ensure that they have a social media policy in place.  The policy should be robust and updated regularly as new technologies and sites come to the fore. 
  • Employer's should note that they may be vicariously responsible for the behaviour of their employee even if it is after office hours and the employee is away from the office.
  • The policy should cover use of social media during workplace, acceptable behaviour on social media sites and the disciplinary procedures if an employee misbehaves online. 
  • If the organisation uses social media for business include the business objectives of social media and the intellectual property rights of the organisation.  
  •  For advice on how to create a social media policy go to
  • The policy should be communicated to all staff and employees should be trained on the social media policy.
  • The policy should be  communicated to new recruits during induction training.
What can employees do to protect themselves on social media?

In Jobvite's social media recruitment survey 2014 over 90% of recruiters admitted to vetting the candidates social media profile before hiring the candidate.  Interestingly 55% of employers changed their mind about hiring a candidate based on their social media profile.  Of those 55%, 61% decided not to hire the candidate and 39% decided to hire the candidate. Therefore it is very important for job seekers to be mindful of the impression they are creating online.
  • Check your privacy settings and avoid posting about illegal drugs, alcohol or guns as recruiters tend to see these posts in a negative light.
  • Avoid using bad language and check your spelling and grammar.
  • Think before you tweet.  Be respectful of colleagues, clients, your current workplace and your past employer.
  • Using social media can be a great way to get the attention of a potential employer.  Over 90% of recruiters use social media as a recruitment tool.  Potential candidates need to pay attention to their social media profile.
  • Remember that social media is not private.  Posts can be shared without your knowledge.
Click here to look at the 2014 social media recruitment survey

 Title: 'So you've been publicly shamed'

Author: Jon Ronson
Pages: 304
Pub Date: 09/03/2015
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781447229797
Price: 22.55

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Employment Equality Act to be updated

The marriage referendum on May 22nd 2015 represented a watershed moment in Irish Society.  On that day over 60% of Irish voters voted in favour of same-sex marriage.  By doing so we became the first country in the world to introduce same-sex marriage by popular vote.  It was an amazing achievement for a small island nation which was once known as being ultra conservative and traditional.  Indeed until 1993 homosexuality was illegal and until 1996 it was illegal to get a divorce in this Country.  It is amazing to see how tolerant and liberal we have become in such a short period of time. 

The scenes from Dublin Castle last Saturday resembled a Mardi Gras.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend but I could get a sense of the celebration, the joy and the spirit of camaraderie from watching the news bulletins.  I can't wait for the reeling in the years episode in 10 years time when the result doesn't feel like a big deal and gay marriage is just an everyday occurrence.

 While the marriage referendum progressed the rights of LGBTQ  individuals in the private sphere unfortunately religious schools can still discriminate against LGBTQ teachers.  Under section 37.1 of the employment equality acts a school can refuse to hire or fire a teacher on the grounds that their lifestyle goes against the ethos of the school.  This clause could presumably vindicate discrimination on the grounds of  sexuality, marital status or family status.  

Thankfully the Equality minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has seen the unfairness of this clause and section 37.1 of the Act  looks set to be amended by September to prevent schools having the power to discriminate against LGBTQ teachers

While the media in the Republic of Ireland was dominated with discussions on LGBTQ equality in the run up to the marriage referendum so to were discussions in Northern Ireland but for different reasons. On May 19th Asher's bakery in Northern Ireland was found guilty of discriminating on the grounds of sexuality when they refused to take an order for a cake supporting gay-marriage.  The bakery was fined €500 plus legal costs for the hearing. The bakery have decided to appeal the judges ruling so fingers crossed discrimination ruling will be upheld 

The case sparked discussion in Northern Ireland and sparked the  DUP to propose a 'Conscience amendment bill' which would mean that retail and service providers could legally refuse  a request made by a customer if the request clashed with their religious beliefs.  For example, a bakery could refuse to bake a pro-gay marriage cake, a printers could refuse to print leaflets supporting gay marriage, a hotel could refuse a gay couple a room.  This clause is preposterous and would make a mockery of equality legislation.

The past few months have seen much media debate on equality in the media in Northern Ireland and the republic.  The challenge for the future is to ensure that the employment equality acts are robust to do what they are intended to do- defend employees (and customers) rights on the 9 grounds.  This means that caveats and clauses which say that it is ok to discriminate at certain times and in certain situations have no place in the Acts.

Ireland has a long way to go before it is a utopia of equality and tolerance but I believe that the marriage referendum and the proposed amendment to section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts is a big leap forward.  I was heartened to see so many of my favourite shops and cafes support same-sex equality with the business for equality signs.  Here's to an Ireland which treats everybody equally.