Category Archives: job search

3 tips to make the best use of LinkedIn as a connection builder

For many professionals, LinkedIn is a kind of CV they update and improve the moment they think about a next career step. However, LinkedIn can be much more than that, even in its free version.

  • A rich platform for information
  • A showcase of expertise
  • A job board
  • A service provider locator
  • A connection builder

In this post, I write about building connections, because it’s the aspect of LinkedIn that many people tend to most misused with the related risk to contribute to downgrade the efficiency of LinkedIn as a powerful social platform.

I have selected 3 tips:

1- Always add a personal note to invitations

In real life, what do you do when you receive an advertisement in your letterbox which does not seem to have any link with you nor with your needs? You just though it away, don’t you? That’s the same for LinkedIn invitations, if they fail to explicitly demonstrate why they are addressed to you and what’s their purpose in relation to who you are, they will remain non-answered or will be deleted.

 The more people send empty invitations, the less the invitations get a chance to motivate an answer.

Think about your LinkedIn invitations as any other mean to connect to someone in real life. During an event, you wouldn’t go and through your business cards under the eye of people you never talked to. Would you?

You would take the time to explain why you are interested to know that person, who you are and would create some space for the discovery of what you could do together.

This is the same for a LinkedIn invitation: Remember the -Why, Who, What– approach which could be illustrated by the following example:

“ I discovered your LinkedIn posts thought one of my connections, I really like what you write. Like you I am also very much interested in sustainable energy and would appreciate to be in touch and to follow your publications on LinkedIn. Looking forward to reading you, Kind regards.”

2- Treat the received invitations as you would do in real life

There’s a lot to read about LinkedIn etiquette online but to make it short and easy to understand, there’s nothing different in connecting to people on LinkedIn than in connecting to people in real life. It only takes to be personable, respectful and authentic.

If you want your LinkedIn connections to be a real network, do not accept all invitations which you receive.

There are opposite trends amongst LinkedIn experts, from aiming to the largest possible network (LION strategy: LinkedIn Open Networker) to the most restricted one including only colleagues and friends.

The approach I recommend is more moderated, yet easy to adapt to your personality and sensibility: Good key questions to decide to connect or not could be: “Would I feel comfortable to help that person if she/he would ask me for help? and “Would I feel okay reaching to this person for help or advise if needed?”

Obviously when you receive an invitation from someone you do not know and which common ground with you is not obvious, you are enable to answer these questions. Therefore you need to ask for more info before you can validate the invitation.

Imagine you receive a phone call of someone you don’t know asking you for an appointment without any additional explanation, what would you like to ask this person before deciding to accept the invitation or not: “do we know each other?”  or “Thanks for your kind invitation, can you tell me what would be your expectation so that I can prepare myself?” or “ Thanks for reaching to me, May I asked how you heard about me?” etc.

Without knowing a little bit about the intention and about who is the person, you are not likely to accept any invitation. Same goes for LinkedIn. Just ask them and then decide if yes or no you will accept to connect.

3- Nurture your connections

Of course you cannot daily interact with your LinkedIn 500+ connections but that’s important to dedicate a bit of time to the relationship with your network.

Again, that’s very similar to what you do with your real life acquaintances: Even to people you do not see much anymore, don’t you try to send them a Birthday message, a happy new year mail, etc. Maybe not to all, maybe not each year but still, that’s very likely an effort you make time to time.

Same on LinkedIn, when coming across an interesting article, a job ad, a new connection, you can think about one or the other of your connections and share with him/her.

People tend to think there’s LinkedIn’s and there are real connections. Most use LinkedIn as a way to stay in touch with “real” connections.  This is probably a very powerful feature of LinkedIn indeed but LinkedIn offers more.  It happens often to me that I first discover someone with whom I share some interests on LinkedIn and that I then meet and connect in real life. This would not have been possible if I and these people would not have treated LinkedIn connections with a personable, respectful and authentic manner.

You are familiar to the approach I have detailed in this blog? Maybe you can give me a tip in return then? When you have asked people for the reason for their invitation to connect and they simply answered that their only intention is to increase numerically their network, what do you do?

Read as well: Make LinkedIn a powerful resource for your job search

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. 

The real reasons why most people don’t go for a better work-life balance.

A work-life balance can mean anything depending on who you are, what you value and what makes you feel alive.

You can reach a wonderful work life balance working 80 hours a week if you do what you love. The more you work, the more you build energy, the happier you are and the most you are able to give the best of yourself to your beloved and your relatives.

Alternatively, you can be finding your balance in structuring your time, working part-time per example. Being dedicated to your work and working efficiently while keeping time for yourself and/or your family.

You can also find a good work life balance by making career breaks when needed and keeping on with your career development when the pause time is over.

In all cases, your choice will possibly make you happier than what you currently are. So why not going for it?

Here are a few reasons why people are reluctant to engage themselves with more balance that I have witnessed during my coaching work.

  • There are so few people who successfully reached an enjoyable work-life balance, that most people do not know in their circles, anybody who has. Therefore, they tend to believe that it is an utopia. However, you only need to find one person who succeeded at living a balance: If one can do it, you can do it as well.
  • Most people are too scared to lose what they have: They think “If I ask for a part-time or a job-sharing, they will believe that I am not willing to grow in the company, they will refuse and my career here is dead”. This is might be true but it is also true that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”. That’s all about the courage to go for what you want while measuring the risks and making a decision.
  • Some other people do effectively reduce their working time to be doing more of what is really important. However, they fail at learning to say no. Working at reduced occupation time is an art and requires a strong personality. It requires to be clear with oneself about what you can do and can’t. It forces to cope with the risk to disappoint someone’s expectations although we spent our entire working life to make it up to the company and to others’ expectations.
  • Sometime when considering making a career break people believe that they first need to give up all their professional ambitions. There are so many example of people, often women, who have made a definitive choice: I stop working now and I accept that latter, I won’t come back to the level I was. Yet employability is an asset that can be developed during a career break. Getting out of corporate life does not necessarily mean that you stop developing skills, increasing your knowledge, growing your network or building new experienced. It is unfortunate that a lot is said about “back to work” and less about how to keep employability high. But there’s a choice there. It’s possible.
  • It also happens that having set an organisation for more work-life balance, people fail to enjoy it. They do not dare to be happy with their balance and even less to say that they enjoy their lifestyle. They might even feel frustrated, sometime even guilty of not being 120% in each part of their life. Self-satisfaction and being able to enjoy what you have require to be aligned with yourself and to develop a mindful attitude towards life.

Reaching an enjoyable work-life balance is not something you get as granted, in one day but it is feasible: It works as other projects do; by allocating time, the right resources, persistency and sometime, the outside support of a coach.

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. 

What you absolutely need to find out before you aim to any potential employer

Before you plan any contact with a potential employer, whatever you consider writing an application letter, calling someone working there or going for an interview, you need to take the time to answer the following question:

“What at are the 3 things that makes a professional in your area of expertise successful in this industry/company?”

Only when you have this level of knowledge about your potential employer, you are able to position yourself and to demonstrate you unique selling points which are going to lead to employment.

Let me give me as an example, the 3 qualities and skills that makes a job4U2 coach successful so that you can understand better what I mean.

To be successful working as a career coach at job4U2 one needs to

  • have a profound empathy for dual career partner having or willing to relocate to Switzerland to accommodate their spouse or partner’s job.
  • have in depth knowledge of the latest recruitment trends in Switzerland and about the local economy
  • be perfectly fluent in English and in at least one of the Swiss local language.

To practice, you can try to answer this question reflecting on your last job: what was key to success in that position?

And now, can you answer the question for your prospective employer?

Read as well: Reaching to the recruiters: Dos & Don’ts

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. 

A 6 steps auto-coaching guide for New Year’s resolutions that won’t be forgotten

Tired of all these disappointing times when New Year’s resolutions have lasted a couple of weeks before we dropped them or forgot them, most of us have given up even trying to set them. “New Year’s resolution? Never mind!”

Yet, don’t you secretly dream that this new year could be a little different, a little better, maybe it could be the year of a real personal development, or even the year of a positive change in your life?
This year, not a list of objectives which are impossible to achieve but rather a bit of time for yourself to identify an objective that is really important to you while starting 2017.

resolutions-2017In the first place: A profound yet dynamic self-awareness.Profound because for your resolution to bring you something strong, durable and fully satisfying, it should be related to your deep-Self and not to your ego or to a passing wish. One tends to imagine the Self as something static but yet it is extremely liberating to think about who we are as being in movement, with a dynamic reality. Remember the person you were in early 2016, the thoughts that cluttered your mind, your internal state, your physical shape, your mood. Is it exactly the same now?
Thus it is to your Self of this beginning of 2017 that these resolutions should be addressed.

Step 1: A few questions to re-acquaint yourself with your present Self.

  • In what stage of your life are you? I suggest a very simplified model: period of construction, period of maturation or period of harvest.
  • What are the ones of your roles which today are important to you? Parent, professional, friend, child, spouse, other?
  • What is your body telling you?  Exhaustion, energy, need for movement, need for well-being, tension, relaxation, etc.?
  • What have you been proud of or satisfied with in 2016?
  • Which compliment has especially touched you? What does that tell you about yourself? Give time to these reflections to make their way and to anchor before you move on to step 2.
  • Let them accompany you in a moment of calm, of relaxation where you can be alone with your own thoughts.

Step 2: Your current aspirations.

  • What more do you pursue today?
  • What less do you pursue today?
  • What difference are you seeking for today?
  • What do you expect from fulfilling these aspirations that is really important to you? What is there essential to you?
  • Of all these things that have come to your mind, which one induces emotion, which one resonates most in you, or which one provokes pleasant dreams?

Step 3: At this point, you start sensing which directions are tempting to take and which are most important to you.

  • What do you need to happen in your life to feel satisfied, at the end of 2017, with your progress filling the gap between current situation and targeted situation?
  • Note this as Your Goal.
  • How will you feel when you will have achieved this goal, what will you tell to yourself? What will you then think of yourself? What will make others realise that you have reached your goal?

Step 4: The very first little step.

  • What could be the smallest possible step you could make toward this goal? This must be something you can proceed with in the next couple of weeks.
  • What could still prevent you from performing this in the coming 2 weeks?
  • Modify your first smallest step possible until nothing can stop you from actually doing it within two weeks.

Step 5: Surround yourself with people with the type of energy that might fail you to be able to keep moving forward beyond the first small step.

Identify and write down at least 1 resource person and share your resolution with him/her. Ask him/her formally for his/her support.

Step 6: Plan how you will celebrate the successful achievement of your 2017 resolution.

Make an appointment in your agenda with yourself or with those you want to be part of the celebration of this success.

I wish you a lot of success in achieving your 2017 resolution and a wonderful year 2017!! Sandrine van den Oudenhoven

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. Read more article from Sandrine on the blog

Closing 2016 & wishing you a festive holiday season!

2016 is almost over, the cycle is almost completed. For the job4u2 team, comes the time to reflect of what happened and to celebrate the year.

Time also to invite each of you to pause down for a minute and to participate to a mood booster end of the year exercise.

Take a piece of paper or, for the most connected of us, the smart phone and list your 10 2016 success. These can be personal or professional successes. Don’t stop until you come to, at least, 10 successes!

At job4U2, we did the exercise and are proud to share it with you:

This year, we….

  • Have supported wonderful individuals in their projects to settle their careers in Switzerland. Each of them has contributed to make our job more vibrant, more exciting and full of purpose and meaning.
  • Have enjoyed our achievement in obtaining a satisfaction scope of 4.8/5 on our key criteria: efficiency/ commitment/responsibility/empathy/respect/quality
  • Have been touched in the deepest parts of our hearts by the many kind feed-back words of the people we have accompanied.
  • Have proudly supported our corporate clients in their continuous effort to hire the best talents who more and more are involved in a dual career.
  • Have build new connections and strengthen existing ones and have engaged with new corporate clients.
  • Started providing some trainings in the “Brevet RH” program. It gives us the chance to raise awareness on the challenge dual career creates for talent acquisition.
  • Successfully set up a mentoring initiative (please circulate in your network as we are always in need of new mentors).
  • Welcome Diana in the job4U2 team.
  • Have further grown the community job4u2 circle reaching over 450 members and are still growing rapidly.
  • Set up a new office for job4U2 Basel nearby Rümelinsplatz.
  • Have all taken further educations or have improved and developed our own professional skills.

All together we have enjoyed a beautiful, rich and diverse year 2016 and all of us are looking forward to the season holiday, but before closing the offices for a few days, we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy start in the new year.

We will be back on the blog in the first days to Kick start 2017 with a auto-coaching guide to help you define new year resolutions that are meaningful to you.

Enjoy the season Holiday!

The job4U2 team

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