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Your #Career : How To Filter “Expert” Advice When You’re Job Searching…“Experts are great at telling you what you shouldn’t do, but they have no idea what you should do,”

 When you’re job searching, it’s natural to ask for advice, perhaps in the form of the infamous ‘coffee chat’. This instinct is correct – 85% of jobs come through networking (NOT job postings)– so your chances of landing a job increase exponentially with each person you meet and impress with your qualifications, motivation, and clarity about your next step.

People have an innate drive to help other people, and we love to feel like experts. This is great news, because you’re likely to get a lot of input when you ask. However, if you’ve ever gathered advice before, you know that the opinions you’ll get are likely to range as broadly as the coffee drink options at Starbucks. The challenge, then, is often not getting advice to inform your transition, but sifting through conflicting opinions. If you take everyone’s advice, you’ll never get anything done.

“Experts are great at telling you what you shouldn’t do, but they have no idea what you should do,”  advised the brilliant entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava, Founder of Five Hour Energy, on Guy Raz’s fabulous podcast, “How I Built This”. This is particularly true in today’s rapidly changing job market, where 85% of the jobs in 2030 don’t exist yet, and the average life of a company has decreased from 67 to 15 years. Experts have to adapt just like the rest of us to this dynamic context. It’s important to learn from their insights and mistakes, but as Bhargava warns, don’t expect them to have all the answers.

Whether you ask or not, people are inevitably going to make suggestions. And they will not all line up. So how do you filter all of the cautionary tales, suggestions, and recommended events, activities, and introductions that you’ll hear, into a cogent plan of action?

1. Listen carefully

When someone is giving you advice – particularly if you asked them to! – listen up. Take notes, ideally on paper not your phone, and use your body language to show that you’re giving them your full attention.  Resist the temptation to talk back too much, to counter their suggestions, or justify all the things you’re already doing. The best use of your limited time with any advisor is listening carefully and capturing their ideas (while also making them feel like an expert – remember?).

 

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2. Understand the source

Remember that even the wisest experts are individuals, informed only by their experience of the world. Each person’s experience is specific to that person’s background, demographics, personality, and myriad other factors that shape their unique path. So as you listen to their advice, and understand how it applies to your case, think carefully about that unique path. Where are they coming from? What are their strengths and assets? Where are they now? Is that even somewhere you want to be? In the words of a great advisor of mine, “Who’s the ‘they’ in ‘they said…’?”

Who's the 'they' in 'they said'? Always consider the source of expert advice! HT @Samira_Salman via @nelldd #Forbes

3. Notice trends

Keep careful track of your conversations, whether formal coffee chats, or quick insightful exchanges at a cocktail party. Highlight one or two take-aways from each conversation, and compile those on a single document. (Evernote is a perfect tool for tracking these notes. Use the Table of Contents feature to build an archive.) As you gather advice, trends will start to emerge. Perhaps everyone who’s known you for a long time suggests that it might be time to go back to grad school. Or all of your current or past co-workers agree it might be time to go it on your own. Maybe one organization comes up in the majority of your conversations as a great place for you to look for opportunities.

 While each conversation can often feel completely disconnected, with a different focus and direction, tracking them and reviewing periodically will reveal trends. Those trends are instructive – use the wisdom of the crowd.

4. Trust your gut

The most important feature of advice that you ultimately follow is that it matches your gut intuition. If you don’t feel good about a certain next step or possible role or employer, there’s no chance that you’ll be able to succeed, much less thrive, there. While some things in life are not best governed by intuition – stock picking for your IRA, for example – any successful career path will be authentically yours.

5. Be grateful

No matter how much of someone’s advice you use, or even believe, the cardinal rule is to be grateful. Show your gratitude early and often to the people who take the time and effort to share their insights with you.

One of the best ways to do this is to keep people up-to-date with your progress. If you have taken on some of their suggestions, let them know, and share the results. Some people use a mailing list (bcc’d, always!) to update all of their advisors at once. This can work but should be supplemented with individual thank you’s and updates for the people who have been most helpful. Personal introductions deserve particularly generous appreciation, especially if they lead to an interview or a job. Handwritten thank you notes or small gifts are underused these days.

So let go of the fear that your head might explode from the conflicts in the advice you’re getting. Listen carefully, understand the source, notice trends, trust your gut, and be grateful!

These insights come from my work with purpose-driven professionals and organizations through Inspiring Capital. If you want to hear more, I love leading conversations!

 

Forbes.com | October 25, 2017 | 

Your #Career : Looking For A Job? Cut These 5 Things From Your LinkedIn Profile Now…You have Less than 10 Seconds to Catch a Recruiter’s Attention, so Don’t Waste Time using Meaningless Filler Words.

Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated is an essential part of a job search. It’s  often the first resource recruiters and hiring managers turn to when they want to learn more about you.

But because they have so many candidates to look through, their attention spans don’t last long. “LinkedIn Data shows you only have five to 10 seconds to impress a potential employer online,” according to a post on LinkedIn’s official blog. As a job seeker, this means that it’s extremely important to make sure you’re not giving your profile visitors any reason to close their tabs and forget about you. Fast Company reached out to two career experts for tips on what you should cut from your LinkedIn profile.

1. OVERUSED BUZZWORDS

Every year, LinkedIn releases a new set of 10 overused “buzzwords.” This year, the following keywords made the list: specialized, leadership, passionate, strategic, experienced, focused, expert, certified, creative, and excellent.

LinkedIn consulted best-selling biographer Christopher Sanford to understand people’s rationale for using these words. Sanford listed ease of use–meaning it takes minimal effort to fill their profile with these words rather than coming up with a creative sentence–and the widely held assumption that because everyone else is doing it, “it must be the professional thing to do.”


Related: Here’s How I Decide Whether To Accept Your LinkedIn Connection Request 


Of course, it might be impossible to avoid banishing these keywords altogether from your profile, as resume writer Brenda Bernstein points out. So if you are going to use one of these words, make sure that you’ve got some experience to back them up. Lisa Rangel, an executive resume writer, tells Fast Company that if you’re going to tout yourself as  a “thought leader,” “I better see that blog published. Maybe even speaking engagement[s].”

Rangel went on to say, “It doesn’t have to be in front of 10, 000 people,” but there has to be some hard evidence to back up your claim.

 

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2. SUPERLATIVES

Rangel also cautions LinkedIn users from including too many superlatives, words that people interpret subjectively and see differently. “The one that makes me cringe the most is ‘people person’,” she says. Instead, she suggests that candidates describe how they mentored their staff, and how many people advanced at their company. Instead of typing “innovative” in a summary profile, Rangel suggests they give an example of something they’ve created from scratch–including improving a particular process.

3. AMBIGUOUS AND VAGUE INFORMATION

For Michael Steinitz, executive director of accounting staffing agency Accountemps, one of the most common mistakes he sees on LinkedIn profiles is the use of vague and clichéd words. Examples of this, Steinitz tells Fast Company, include “experienced with, proficient with”–phrases that don’t “really speak to the level of knowledge you already have.” Steinitz also points out that sometimes, using phrases like that might give someone a reason to think that it’s a “filler” when they see your profile.


Related: One LinkedIn Employee’s Insider Tips For Job Searching On The Sly


So how do you communicate that you’re a PowerPoint whiz? “Rather than saying ‘familiar with Microsoft Office,’ (highlight that you use) PowerPoint during quarterly meetings. Something that speaks to how you use it,” he says. It’s easier for recruiters to picture and understand how you’ve mastered a particular skill if they know how you apply it in your day-to-day work.

4.  EXTREMELY BASIC SKILLS

Speaking of PowerPoint, you should probably leave basic skills out of your resume unless your competence is above and beyond what’s normally expected of a normal professional. “I would stay away from ‘boy scout’ or ‘girl scout’ traits. You don’t need to put that you have used Microsoft Word, you don’t need to put that you’re timely or punctual or responsible,” Rangel tells Fast Company. After all, it’s unlikely that recruiters or hiring managers will be searching for those–and they won’t be that impressed that you know how to file your emails in Outlook.

5. ANYTHING NOT RELATED TO YOUR JOB

Like Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, LinkedIn is a social network. In the climate that we live in, it can be tempting to post stuff that’s not entirely related to our job or professional lives.

But both Rangel and Steinitz agree that it’s best practice to stay away from posting non-work-related things on LinkedIn. This includes personal comments, replies to comments, or even reposting articles, blog posts, or videos that have nothing to do with your career or your industry.


Related: Recruiters Explain What The Worst LinkedIn Profiles Have In Common 


Rangel acknowledges that in certain industries, being controversial can be a good thing (for example, advertising). But she urges those who choose to go down his path to be selective and smart about it. “Don’t be controversial just for the sake of being controversial,” she urges. Think long and hard about how it relates to your industry, and avoid attacking anyone personally, regardless of your personal disagreement level. “Not that you need to be a positive ray of sunshine every day, [but] people gravitate toward positivity,” says Rangel.

Steinitz urged LinkedIn users to remember that while it’s a “social network, it is a business social network.” So that video that’s just perfect for your Instagram story? It might not be so great for LinkedIn.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anisa is the Editorial Assistant for Fast Company's Leadership section. She covers everything from personal development, entrepreneurship and the future of work.

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FastCompany.com | September 29, 2017 | BY ANISA PURBASARI HORTON 4 MINUTE READ