Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Stand out from the crowd - How to write a great LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a powerful tool allowing you to have a professional presence in the world.  It provides the opportunity for you to tell other professionals what you can do and what you can offer.

Do you have a LinkedIn profile and does it represent you in the best way?

Having a LinkedIn profile is fast becoming an essential professional requirement.  You now have to assume prospective employers will look at your online presence before approaching or hiring you and if your LinkedIn profile is out of date or poorly written, it could potentially close doors.  Who would want to employ someone who does not spell correctly in their shop window?  

It is therefore really important that you spend time completing your profile.  To assist, I have provided some hints and tips to help you write a great LinkedIn profile.

Some initial thoughts:

·         Make sure your CV and online profile match (consistency around dates is particularly important).

·         Think about your brand.  Does your profile match the kind of jobs you are applying for?

·         Complete every section of your profile.

Your profile


The headline appears directly under your name and will be the first thing people read about you.  It will also appear when people search for you and decide whether to click onto your profile.  To make it more compelling, include a short description of your role as well as your job title.

For example, my headline reads:

‘Tessa Armstrong. Career and Performance Coach, helping solicitors and other professionals succeed in their careers.’

You should also upload a professional photo of yourself.


Make life easy for a potential employer by using this section to tell them about what you can do, including your achievements.  This is your chance to sell yourself in 2,000 characters.  To give potential employers an even better chance of finding you include keywords which you know your industry uses.  The more you use these keywords within your profile, the higher you will rank for that term in the search results

Perhaps include your contact information in this section (otherwise your contact details do not appear until the end of your profile). 

Experience, Skills, Publications and Education

Include all relevant employment and education in these sections as well as your skills and publications.   If your CV is up to date, simply copy and paste the information. 

Additional Sections

There are many additional sections to choose from, the most important being the ‘Volunteer Experience and Causes’ section.  If you do any relevant voluntary work, add this section to your profile using the ‘Add Sections’ link.  Relevant voluntary work will make your profile stand out even more.

Additional Information

This section gives you the opportunity to link to your website, blog,  twitter account and any other sites providing professional information about you.  Do not provide links to social networking sites used on a personal basis.


This is your chance to request recommendations from people who have worked with you.  Make sure you personalise your requests rather than using the standard LinkedIn wording. 

My final tip is to make your profile public to ensure people can find you - market yourself and show potential recruiters what you can do!


Monday, 12 November 2012

How to deliver a successful presentation

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

Do you dread giving presentations?  Perhaps the thought brings you out in a cold sweat or gives you sleepless nights.

There is so much to remember after all...

Who is my audience?  What is my content?  How many slides should I prepare? What ice breaker should I use?  How can I overcome my nerves?   What should I wear?  How big is the venue?  What facilities are there?

...the answer to all these questions can be found in your preparation. 

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

The best way to overcome pre-presentation nerves is to prepare.   

The more preparation you do, the more confident you will be.  The better prepared you are, the more your audience will respect you and take on board your ideas.

Here are five initial tips to help:

1.     Know your audience

Understand what your audience wants from you and give them what they need. If necessary, carry out some research. The better you know and understand them, the greater rapport you can build.

2.     Make life simple and keep to the point

You will have a key idea or point you want to get across.  Make this point early in your presentation and use the remainder of your time to enhance it with additional content.  Don’t drift off topic otherwise you are at risk of your audience forgetting the important points.


Imagine you have been allocated 20 minutes for your presentation and on the day this was cut to 5 minutes. (This does happen!)  You should still be able to make your point within this time. 

3.     Prepare for challenges

Parts of your presentation may be challenged by your audience.  Anticipate which parts these may be and prepare for it.  For example, you can pre-empt questions by stating the challenge, ‘I know that many of you will now be wondering how this will be possible’, and providing a possible answer for your audience.

4.     Familiarise yourself with the venue

What facilities are there?  Will you get any assistance?

5.     Rehearse

Practise makes perfect!

These are just a few tips to help you along the way. 
With adequate preparation, giving a presentation can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Are you less likely to be promoted if you work from home?

When working from home, do you constantly feel under pressure to prove to your boss you are working? 

My guess is that the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’ for most people. 

So the next question I would like to ask is:

Why do employees feel under pressure to prove to their boss they are working when working from home?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the Economist’s recent article ‘Working from home; out of sight, out of mind’.  This article states that people who work from home are less likely to be promoted, regardless of quality of work.   Yes, you could be working your socks off at home whilst your colleague in the office gets the promotion you have been working so hard for and, to make matters worse, the standard of your colleagues work is poor in comparison to your own work.

Is the answer to stop working from home?

No, I don’t think this is the way forward.  Of course it is important to point out that this will not apply to all employers but for those who are feeling a bit guilty about this, perhaps it is time to rethink your approach to working from home.

Remember there can be many benefits to working from home

To name a few:

·         No stress caused by a difficult commute.
·         No meetings or distractions from colleagues.
·         Fewer interruptions. 
·         Improved work-life balance.

These benefits alone will improve motivation which in turn will produce better quality of work, meaning happier employees and improved business productivity. 

It’s a win-win situation!  

Is it now time employers recognise that working from home can be as productive, if not more productive, than working in the office?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The job you really want to do!

Are you an accountant, a lawyer, a teacher, an artist, an engineer, a doctor, an events manager, an officer......?
Whatever you do, how often to you think about the reasons for your chosen career path?
Why do you go to work?   
1.     Money – You need to make a living. 
2.     Habit – You’ve attended school, college or university and now you have a job – that’s what we are meant to do, isn’t it? 
3.     Passion – I love what I do.
Which category best describes the reason for your chosen career?
I am sure many of you reading this chose 1 or 2 but how many of you wished you had chosen number 3, passion.
We all want to fulfil our passion in life for passion is what gives us drive and makes us happy.  It gives us energy to live life to the full.
I have worked with many people who are determined to find their dream career which will fulfil their passion.  It may involve a career change or having a look at career progression and with a bit of determination and work they do achieve their dream job.  This could be you too!
I know it can be challenging so take one step at a time. 
Perhaps the first best step is to change.  This could be through changing your way of thinking or a more practical step such as talking to people about your interests and talents to enable you to begin exploring your career options.
Wouldn’t you love to be able to truthfully say this to people?
‘I love what I do’


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Perfectionism and Stress – A hot topic for lawyers

“I find my job as a lawyer stressful.  Perfection is expected at all times and I find this pressure difficult to manage.”
In June last year I wrote a blog titled, ‘What impact does perfectionism have on a lawyer’s career?’.  Interestingly, this has been one of the most popular blogs I have published.  It is even more popular than topics such as Are you a lawyer considering a career change? or How transferrable skills help lawyers change career.
In my experience of coaching lawyers, the demand for perfectionism is becoming a big issue for many people and a significant contributor to workplace stress.  In the world of law, every detail has to be accurate and each action taken has to be precise. I am sure many of you are even finding yourself reading this with a critical eye.  Are there any spelling mistakes?  Are there any grammatical errors?
According to the 2011 CIPD/Simplyhealth absence report, stress is now the biggest cause of long-term absence from work and so if you are a perfectionist and suffering from stress, is it time to start searching for strategies to help relieve this stress?   
Here are a few tips to help:
1.     Don’t waste time punishing yourself when you make a mistake.  Learn from it and move on.  You will be far more productive and your performance at work will improve.
2.     If you are required to rectify an error, first go for a short walk allowing yourself time to be in the best frame of mind before approaching this task. Once you are feeling more positive, focus on the solution rather than the problem.
3.     Set yourself realistic standards.  If you are always striving for 100% perfection, you will spend the majority of your time feeling dissatisfied.  Perfection may be expected of you but is it really possible?
4.     Be flexible in your approach to work.  If your working methods make you stressed, try a different approach.   Remind yourself that if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same result.
5.     If you are stuck for further ideas, consider if there is anyone else you trust who may be experiencing the same issue and ask how they are dealing with it. 
...and a final point....always remember...
If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.
(Jack Dixon)

Friday, 24 August 2012

How social media can help your career

When I started my business, I had to embrace social media having been advised that the internet would be a prime location for marketing my business.   However, having only used Linkedin and Facebook on a superficial level and with little knowledge of the workings of Twitter, I had a lot to learn.  I also had a lot to believe.

Could social media really help me to gain business?

Yes it could and I do now gain business from social media.

In a similar way, social media can also help to progress your career.  It can enhance your job search and help you find the job you want, particularly as recruiters are increasingly using social media to find potential employees.

As I use social media to market, develop and progress my business, you too can use it to market yourself and develop your career.  It is a great way to keep in touch with the world and network within professions of interest to you.

Below is a brief description of how Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter can help your career...


Linkedin is a professional network used for networking, job searches and connecting with relevant businesses and interest groups.  To start, you need to create a professional profile detailing information about your skills and experiences.  It look likes an online CV.

Once you have completed your profile, start connecting with people you know.  Use your connections to help you – you never know who other people know.   It is also a great way of finding out about jobs, especially if you are considering a career change.

You can adjust your visibility settings to enable recruiters and employers to find you.


If you use Facebook on a personal level ensure your privacy settings are adjusted so that only the people you trust can see the information.  The last thing you want is for a prospective employer to see an embarrassing photo of you on Facebook.  Keep business and pleasure separate.

If you are setting up your own business, you can set up a business page on Facebook.  This should be separate to your personal profile.


Twitter is used to receive instant updates from your friends, industry experts and celebrities and to find out about what’s happening around the world.  It can be used in conjunction with Linkedin and can help you to market yourself and build connections to enhance your job search.

Again, remember to keep business and pleasure separate.  Using a Twitter account to enhance your job search should not be used for personal communications. If you want to use twitter for personal use, ensure you set up a separate account.

As a final thought, it is important to note that social media should not be used in isolation to get the job you want.  Continue using traditional job finding methods, such as creating a CV, making speculative applications, responding to job advertisements and using recruitment consultants, alongside building your online presence.  This will give you the best chance of building a successful career.

Friday, 10 August 2012


Helen Glover took up rowing in 2008 and won an Olympic gold medal in 2012!  Not bad for four year’s work!

No doubt you can all recall GB’s first gold medal at these Olympics won by the women’s rowing pair, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, on day 5.    What excitement!

However, were you as surprised as me to hear that Helen Glover had only started rowing four years ago?  In response, did this inspire you to go out and buy a rowing boat in preparation for Rio 2016?!

Well anything is possible, isn’t it?

You certainly won’t know unless you give it a try....and I don’t mean rowing as perhaps we are not all destined to be rowers but have a think about what you would like to achieve and use these Olympics as your inspiration.

Start looking for different ways of achieving your goal and act on them.  Helen Glover’s mother saw an advertisement in the newspaper asking for ‘tall people’ to take up rowing!    Helen responded, took the opportunity and rose to the challenge with commitment and focus.

Just take a minute to think about what you can achieve in 4 years and go for it!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Lawyers and dealing with difficult clients

As lawyers you can’t avoid them.  Amongst your case load, there will be difficult clients you dread communicating with.  Every time the phone rings, you think it will be them despite the fact they are one of many clients you have. 

They may even occasionally pop into the office to see you as if you have all the time in the world to spend with them.  Well, from their point of view they are paying you a lot of money to do a job, yet they will probably still gasp at the bill when all this extra time they have demanded from you has cost them.  When you are told they are waiting for you in reception, you wonder how long you can pretend to be at lunch.

Ultimately, difficult clients can knock your confidence and increase stress levels, particularly if you are a perfectionist or have a tendency to feel sensitive towards what people think about you.

You may feel you are not doing your job very well when you can’t seem to do anything to please your client.  You may think they don’t like you and end up spending more time and energy on these clients than any of your other clients who require your valuable time as well. 

How to deal with a difficult client

What are your options?
  1. Try, try and try again to please your client
  2. Avoid your client
  3. Find ways to deal with your client so that you can limit the time you spend feeling worried and stressed about them and focus positively on work that needs to be done.
Unsurprisingly, I would suggest 1 and 2 are unrealistic so how about focusing on number 3?  Here are a few pointers to get you started: 

  1. Don’t take it personally.
  2. Try and understand the conversation from the client’s point of view by asking open questions.  This will ensure they feel listened to.
  3. Focus on what you did well.  Don’t dwell on the negative part of difficult conversations you may have had with your client.  Move on and decide your next action.
  4. Go for a walk or take a break after a difficult interaction to clear you head.  You will be much more productive upon returning to your desk.
  5. Talk to your boss about it.

Give it a go.  It will be much better this way, than panicking every time your phone rings.  It may even improve your relationship with these clients and you will miss them when they no longer need you!