In March, AWiB ladies participated in a career planning themed event hosted by Nordea. The evening was full of inspiring thoughts, valuable tips and interesting career stories. We are happy to share some of the core thoughts about career planning from one of the speakers at the event, Nordea's People Organisation's Executive Adviser Elina Salo, who represents a HR professional's and a work psychologist's point of view.
Career planning and development is a lifelong process that is affected not only by your education, skills and preferences, but also by your willingness to learn, networks, social and economical environment, age and stage of life, just to mention a few examples.
It all starts from the core questions:
Building skills horizontally
When building your career, remember that moving horizontally - not just vertically - can provide you with a skill set that can push you forward and pay itself back later. The wider the perspective you have, the better. Sometimes it might be advisable to take a step “down” from your current position in order to learn something totally new - it might be a different industry or employer, a useful skill or a new function inside your current organisation. Wide experience will help you achieve more in the future, especially in managerial positions.
Many factors contribute to your career development including your studies and your work experience, paid and unpaid, and your leisure activities. Adding skills and continuously learning throughout your working life, either on or off the job, helps you to move between different roles and workplaces. Do not underestimate your volunteer experience, interests or hobbies! In addition to lifelong learning, adapting to different positions and situations is a basic requirement in modern working life and can actually tell more about your abilities than your formal experience alone.
Career as sports
Our careers are marathons, not sprints: It’s not the distance that kills, it’s the speed. You do not have to achieve your ultimate goal in the first years of your career. Your career might be as long as 40 or 50 years, so you have all the time you need. Furthermore, if you achieve everything right away, what will keep you motivated for the rest of your career? Split your goals into smaller steps and value smaller achievements.
If you are in a hurry to get a promotion, ask yourself whether you really have given and learned everything you can from your current position. Career planning is not just about the goals, but also how you achieve them. It is okay to make mistakes and, more importantly, to learn from them! Your personal development and experiences from different positions and organisations change your preferences along the way, so remember also to update your goals and create new ones.
Recovery and knowing your boundaries is just as important as everything else mentioned before. Allocating time to important relationships and hobbies, relaxation, sleeping enough and eating well will keep you effective and innovative also at work. When being a manager, remember that it is you setting an example for others, creating the working culture and setting expectations. Do not constantly work overtime, give up your free time or send late emails if that is not what you want your team to do.
Last but not least: Be open to new opportunities, even if they do not fit your original plan, and trust your wings!
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. Not only will LinkedIn help you find and connect with colleagues and customers but also bring out your competences and discover job opportunities. Most recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool to find the best candidates, although the work is still largely manual. Tech will improve, so keep up with the development of LinkedIn recruitment tools, and make sure recruiters will find you when automated searches will become more common.
Picture and headline
Your name, picture and headline are what other people most often see when using LinkedIn. Use a professional photo that allows people to recognise you. Remember to smile, and leave pics with your family and friends for other social media channels. A picture helps build trust and engagement. Do not just put your job title in the headline, but also describe what you are good at and what you are actually doing. This is the place you can use your creativity.
The LinkedIn summary is where LinkedIn’s algorithm searches for key words, so be sure you use this 2000-character space wisely. What is your target audience and what are they looking for? What is your goal in creating and keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date? Job seekers will want to put in keywords that match those of the jobs they are looking for, and professionals looking for new business and customers will want to use terms that their clients most probably are searching for. You can summarise your core competence and experience, but also tell what you would like to do in the future. You also might want to add your contact information in the summary to help recruiters reach you.
What comes to the experience section, remember to keep it updated and interesting. Stick to the truth, but sometimes simplifying is advisable. It might be a good idea to describe your previous positions and write down the basic information about your employers, such as industry, core services, number of employees and location.This will especially help recruiters abroad to form a clear picture of your competence. Top three achievements might be a good way to concretise your job description - and if you have numerical data, even better! Nowadays LinkedIn also allows the sharing of media, such as pictures, videos, and links, which might make your profile more attractive and people stay longer to read about you. Recommendations are nice, endorsements less important, from recruiters’ point of view.
Make at least 500 connections in order to be convincing, but remember that the quality of your network is more important the number of people in your network. Send invitations right after meeting the person. You can also connect with people you have not met, but then be sure to send a message and tell them why you want to connect. Especially more experienced profiles (e.g. sales) are evaluated on the quality of their network. Do you know the top 100 decision-makers in your industry?
Your activity on LinkedIn is as important as a comprehensive and well thought out profile. Be active in conversations when you have substance to contribute. However, always remember to be polite and professional. Besides yourself, you represent your employer and your profession. Non-professional content is spam! Absolute no-no’s are cute animal videos and the sharing of "how much of a mathematician are you" tests.
Armed with this advice, let’s all spend a little time and effort on improving our LinkedIn profiles!
Thank you once again Mercuri Urval Helsinki office, especially consultants Anni and Eve, for hosting a nice workshop and expanding our knowledge about LinkedIn!
AWiB core team and visiting friends write about events, speakers, books, ideas, tips and tools. Send us a mail if you want to contribute!