1. Charm your Instagram audience like a QUOKKA
My dog Toby trials a new career each week on my Instagram account. He has his own hashtag #mytobydog and his gorgeous attempts at mainstream jobs are very popular.
As a business user of Instagram, I had been advised to personalise my profile but I didn’t want to post any photos of myself. I’ve never been one for selfies and often say that I’d rather read a book than fuss around with posing and posting. Hence Toby’s changing #careers accompanied by my captions (witty and amusing, of course!)
Instagram is all about images and you need to think through how you portray yourself. Even with a private account, if you have many followers, your content will leak into your job marketplace. There are obvious no-brainers like avoiding drunken revels but it can be subtler than that.
Watch out for photos that make you look quite full of yourself or overly-sexual. You know what I mean:
- revealing clothes and cleavages
- muscle-bound appearances in tight gym wear
- close up selfies staring adoringly into the camera
Would you want to work with someone like that? Don’t you think that an employer might think twice about hiring you?
Instead, take a note from tennis superstar Roger Federer. Not only did his cute quokka selfie reach 581 million people in 45 countries, Roger comes across as both interesting and unpretentious.
The quokka is often called the happiest animal in the world. Not a bad model to follow on Instagram.
2. Bound into the future like the KANGAROO
That most iconic of Aussie animals, the Kangaroo, appears on Australia’s coat of arms, along with the emu. Apparently, it was because neither animal is able to walk backwards and our colonial decision-makers thought they signified the nation’s aspiration and intent to always move forwards.
What about you? Are you eagerly looking ahead to 2019? Are you matching your enthusiasm with strategy?
A Catalyst repor in The Bottom Line sheds light on the effectiveness of various career strategies. The report suggested that career advancement requires that individuals do ‘all the right things’ to get ahead. ‘Ideal workers’ are those who:
- Seek high-profile assignments
- Rub shoulders with influential leaders
- Communicate openly and directly about career aspirations
- Seek visibility for their accomplishments
- Let their supervisors know of their skills and willingness to contribute
- Seek opportunities continually
- Learn the political landscape or unwritten rules of the organization
- Are not afraid to ask for help
There are no surprises in the above list and you CAN implement all of the above activities/approaches. In my book, My Career Rules!, I recommend that you implement a personal Strategic Plan and measure yourself against concrete KPIs. The above list is a very good start and can make all the difference in your ability to ride the waves of change successfully.
It's time to bound from one activity to another as part of your 2019 personal Strategic Plan.
3. Adapt like the PLATYPUS
When British scientists first laid eyes on the platypus in the late 18th century, some of them thought the specimen must be a hoax. The platypus has a flat bill like a duck, a tail like a beaver and a body like an otter. It is an egg-laying mammal that both swims in water and walks on land.
Talk about flexible!
As automation reaches further into our work places, the latest round is likely to affect higher-skilled occupations, according to Callum Pickering APAC economist at global employment search engine Indeed. Here in Australia, Telstra and NAB are following the lead of overseas giants Tesla, Rolls Royce and Deutsche Bank. They are hollowing out layers of middle management.
The profile of the Australian worker experiencing the most change to their existing job tasks is: male, middle aged, urban and highly skilled. So, if this describes you – beware! You’ll need to take defensive action and there are two logical choices:
Identify the valuable skills you possess to help position you for a move up the value chain
- Learn new technical skills that are in demand
- It will be important to focus on being able to work with machines not against them. You can’t ignore technical skills – these will change rapidly, making adaptability essential.
I’ve completed three degrees and I have no intention of doing any more formal study. What I do instead is being called Micro Learning - short bursts of training that enable us to keep up with changes in our job and also to upskill.
And guess what? I pay for it. I have no generous employer handing over the shekels. Even when I was on the bare bones of my bottom, I accepted that it was my responsibility to keep myself up to date.
If you want to stay employed and maintain your current lifestyle, start studying now and never stop.
4. Attract attention with your voice like a KOOKABURRA
If there’s an Aussie animal that is famous for its voice, it’s the kookaburra. In fact, there’s even a children’s song written about its iconic laugh. The kookaburra is not perhaps the prettiest bird in the world but what a thrill we all feel when we hear its upbeat call!
Driving back from Melbourne to Adelaide over the summer holidays, I listened to a lot of radio. During the news updates, they interviewed various business/science experts. Now, I didn’t expect these people to have ‘radio’ voices but sometimes they were so annoying, I had to switch channels.
Do you know what your voice sounds like? Do you know whether people like listening to you?
Start by answering the following questions:
1. Do you raise your voice at the end of every sentence or phrase? (rising intonation)
2. Is your voice unpleasant i.e. high-pitched? nasal? shrill? harsh?
3. Do you speak in a monotone that lacks energy and enthusiasm?
4. Do you swallow words so that you sound garbled and lacking in gravitas?
Apparently, the kookaburra only calls out in a social setting and it will remain silent in captivity. The sounds that come out of our mouths are equally social in nature and have a significant effect on our place in the world.
It takes quite a while to make changes to the way you speak. If you want or need to improve your verbal communication, see an expert as soon as possible.
5. Master your environment like a KOALA
The word koala means ‘no water’. As the name suggests, koalas drink very little water because they usually get enough moisture from the eucalyptus leaves they eat. They spend most of their lifetime resting on trees and koalas are well adapted to this lifestyle.
What about you? How well are you adapted to the changing world?
In what is now being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, soft skills are the new hard skills. A 2018 research paper from McKinsey highlighted that ‘finely tuned social and emotional skills – skills that machines are a long way from mastering’ are going to be the most highly sought after in the future – alongside higher cognitive skills including creativity, critical thinking decision making and complex information processing.
Here are a few quick questions to test your soft skills:
- Conflict Resolution - do you know how to use an ‘I Statement’?
- Teamwork - what is your default team style?
- Customer Service – do you understand the effect of First Impressions on your customers?
- Dealing with Difficult Customers – can you say ‘no’ without actually using the word?
Back in the day, most middle-level workers completed training in core soft skills but this seems to have gone out of fashion.
If you have missed the boat, whatever you do, don’t complete an online course. These are skills that you need to practice in role-play situations. When I used to run training in Conflict Resolution, for example, people really struggled to get an ‘I’ statement out of their mouth. It’s not enough to read about it.
The importance of attending training in core skills is going to become more critical with each passing year. Yet, according to Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation at the World Economic Forum, only 30% of employees in the jobs most exposed to technological disruption received any kind of training in the last 12 months.
If you are one of the 70%, now is the time to do something about it.
It’s all about Awareness and Action
Recently, one of my clients had not done her homework about Best Practice before sending off a truly dreadful Cover Letter. As a high achiever in her technical sphere, she assumed that she would be equally skilled in all areas of managing her career. When I highlighted what was needed to produce an excellent Cover Letter, she was quite mortified that she had misjudged it so badly.
To a certain extent I earn my living by acting as a connector between individuals and their career aspirations. If everyone were wonderfully aware and skilled, I would be out of work. Still, there must be a happier medium…
Our Aussie animals live in one of the harshest environments on Earth. Yes, they are charming but they are also wonderful survivors. As we seem to be heading into harder and harsher times, it’s important that you move yourself up the Career Skills Continuum. Now more than ever, YOU need to take responsibility with keeping up to date with current and near-future work requirements.
That way, you only need to see career specialists like me in exceptional circumstances. If I’m ever to retire, that would be a great reason for doing so.
The headline image of this blog comes from my Instagram posting of Toby. It read as follows: ‘A pillow salesman! What a perfect #career for #mytobydog. He tests them all out on a regular basis and can recommend his favourites.’
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert. She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's Careers section, as well as in online publications such as news.com.au, thenewdaily.com.au and womensagenda.com.au
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