Career Tips

Have you ever wondered what your life could be like if you could live on your own terms?

Have you ever wondered how far you could go if impossible is nothing?

Think about it, who would you be now if you cannot fail?

Some people are held prisoners by their own imagination. They’ve resigned to living day-to-day. Their experiences of life are replete with difficulties, disappointments, hardships, and pain. This is not all to life. Life can be absolutely wonderful – and it should be – when you begin to live on your own terms!

Here’s how:

First, define your purpose and set 10x goals

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli

The concept of purpose is rather troubling for a lot of people around the world. They’re not sure whether it’s possible for someone to know exactly why s/he was born. They live by whatever makes them happy. They have no direction and focus.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity of coaching several young professionals and entrepreneurs around the world – teaching them how to unlock their potentials and live their best lives, now. In a mentoring session with some Mastercard Foundation Scholars over the weekend, I endeavored to explain this concept (of purpose) to them. I told them that a man or woman actually starts to live when that one comes in contact with his or her purpose. Nevertheless, there’s no rule book that defines a person’s purpose. You have to find it.

Your purpose is what you were born for – it’s your mission for life! If you don’t know what it is, then you don’t have any direction in your life. You’re like a man who’s climbed a tall ladder only to realize in the end that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

Your life will be out of course.

You’d be caught in the thick of thin things.

Your passion is for you but your purpose is for others. Click To Tweet

The easiest way to discover your purpose is by figuring out what you’re passionate about. Your passion gives you joy but when you use your passion for the greater good, that gives you a purpose.

Further, if you want to live on your own terms, you have to set goals that exceed your imagination. If your goal is not 10x what you could do on your own; if you could connect all the dots of your life, then you’re not thinking big enough!

When you set a 10x goal, you get committed. With commitment, you’ve reached your point of no return. In the words of Benjamin Hardy, “the fundamental core of the word “decision” means to literally cut-off alternative options. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously close the door on many others.”

What are you going to do with your life? How far do you want to go? The choice is yours!

Second, develop a discontent for mediocrity and mundanity

Tony Robbins says: “People have an endless list of things they believe they should do or should follow through on. But what happens when you decide something is an absolute “must?” What happens when you cut off any other possibility than you succeeding — when you decide that you are either going to find a way to make something happen or you’ll create the way yourself?

When you raise your standards and turn “should” into “must,” you are making an inner shift to take control over the quality of your life. Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

A lot of people are comfortable with an average life. They’re helmed-in and pinned down by the pains and pangs of neglect. They have a laundry list of excuses for why they couldn’t achieve their goals.

It’s time to excavate yourself from the ordinary. It’s time to transcend the norm, chart a new course and set the pace!

Go for excellence in your life, work, and relationships. Be an example of excellence. Invest in yourself. Saturate your mind and environment with quality information. If all you consume is junk, your life and results will not be any different – garbage in, garbage out.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. — Alvin Toffler

Become intentional with personal education. Get absorbed in the process and make your life a practical life. In this era – where knowledge is synonymous with money and power – you cannot afford to be uninformed. “The value of knowledge is increasing while the value of physical things is dropping fast.” As the world gets more complex, you must develop the skill for learning and compounding knowledge to remain functional.


Are you looking for a job or hiring entry-level talents? Join us at Quantum Leap Career Fair 2019!


When you understand who you really are, you’d never settle for anything that’s not excellent! Even if you’re the last man on the block before long, you’d become number one!

Here’s a pro tip: move from good to excellent. Deep down, you have something yearning for expression. Live what’s within you!

Abigail Foaty, shot by Nana Afriyie

Third, create massive value and give more than you take

“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” — Joe Polish

If you want to live your life on your own terms, you must consistently create massive value and give more than you take. Every successful person knows this: The secret to long-term success is creating excessive value. They work from a point of transformation and not transaction. They’re not trapped by me, myself and I small-mindedness that often lead many to greed and unhealthy competition.

Become an artist and a master of your craft. Think differently.

Writing in an Entrepreneur article, self-development author and business coach, Brian Tracy captures 7 ways to create value in your job, business or products for greater success. Says Tracy, “when you begin thinking of increasing the speed at which you deliver your product or service, improving the quality, add value at every stage of production, increasing the convenience for your customers, giving better customer service, catering to changing lifestyles and trends and finding ways to reduce the actual cost, you will be astonished at the incredible number of ideas and possibilities that exist around you.”

Benjamin Hardy, best selling author of Will Power Doesn’t Work unpacks this further: “When your motivation is to give, you’ll often get insights into how you can improve your relationships… You’ll have more ideas about how you can improve other people’s lives and businesses. You’ll start contributing more, which will lead to far more opportunities and deeper relationships. People will come to love and trust you. Your work will be motivated by a higher cause and thus will be far more inspired and impactful.”

Last, create “A-Game” partnerships

Abigail Foaty, shot by Nana Afriyie

The new industrial convergence is creating more value and opportunities for businesses to adapt to technological and societal advances. However, navigating this fast-changing and continually blurring environment requires immense agility and forward thinking. More than ever, collaboration and teamwork have become paramount for progressive growth and success.

If you want to live your life on your own terms, you must surround yourself with people whose insights can help you make quantum leaps in your business or career. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Everyone that achieved success or any form of breakthrough had help along the way. They had people who supported and held them accountable to their goals. I have written more about how to create “A-Game” partnerships in this article.

* * *

You can live your life on your own terms. You can and you should! If you followed the steps I shared with you in this article, they could help you put in the pieces to actualize in a year what might take others decades to do. You’ll transform your life. You’ll become a mystery to others.

But remember this: every step of the journey towards living your life on your own terms will need focus and intention. While I cannot promise it’ll be easy, I can assure you, however, that it’s worth every sacrifice! This is why we’re creating a fantastic event to bring professionals at different stages in their career together at the 2019 edition of Quantum Leap Career Fair. SFAN events always push the boundary and we’ve done a good job in developing the content for this one! I hope you can join us – register here (apply the code *QLCareerFair19* for a discount).


If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! Are you looking for a job or hiring entry-level talents? Join us at Quantum Leap Career Fair 2019!


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Image Credit: Abigail Foaty by Nana Afriyie

Education is undergoing a remarkable transformation. While these transformation present unmistakable challenges to scholars on the continent, the promises are equally enormous!

If you’re a student in Africa today, you should be worried – very worried.

Why?

The robots are coming and they’re taking over the workplace!

Presently, factoryretail and repetitive manufacturing jobs are increasingly being automated to enhance efficiency. According to McKinsey, mortgage origination, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing are categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines. Further, automation will displace nearly 13 percent of South Africa’s current work activities by 2020. Ethiopia, one of Africa’s manufacturing hubs, is facing automation in several key employment sectors like agriculture and textiles. In Botswana, robot workers are increasingly diminishing the bargaining power of labor union. Accenture Nigeria predicts that within five years, more than half of consumers and enterprise clients will select products and services based on a company’s AI capacity, instead of its brand. On a global scale, the World Economic Forum predicts a net loss of five million jobs to AI by 2020.

These are interesting times for employers on the continent. With rapid demonetization in technology, a continuous redefinition of work and the preeminence of digital natives making once expensive products/services way cheaper — and sometimes free, employers across industries and regions are left with no option than to “innovate or die.” CNBC’s  October 8, 2018 publication chronicled 14 global brands that no longer need employees to have a college degree.

While these accelerated change and overwhelming complexities present unmistakable challenges to scholars on the continent, the promises are equally enormous. With that backdrop, this article seeks to help students and early career professionals prepare for the days ahead.

  • Create your own future with self-education

Selfeducation is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.Isaac Asimov, American writer, and professor

Nesa by makers on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, by now you’re aware of the fact that education systems around the world have not kept pace with the changing nature of work resulting in companies not being able to get access to skilled workers. Further, the ongoing dialogue in Davos has revealed that the growing disparities in incomes of families around the world is traceable to the education one gets. “Literacy is no longer about extracting knowledge but about constructing knowledge.” In short, knowledge has become the real form of money and power.

Although unemployment is still rife, digital tools like freelancing platforms and networking websites like LinkedIn are rewarding smart, talented professionals with jobs and business opportunities by the minute. And, these platforms are also helping us understand some of the highly prized skills for thriving in this age of automation.

Progressively, there has been a unanimous consensus on the fact that soft skills like communication, leadership and critical thinking are needed for navigating today’s world of work. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “Soft skills—which are needed to effectively communicate, problem solve, collaborate and organize—are becoming more important for success as the workplace evolves socially and technologically.”

Hence, I strongly believe there needs to be a do-it-yourself approach to educating yourself today. If we could pay attention to choosing what we wear and what we eat, wouldn’t it make more sense to create our own direction? Doesn’t it make more sense to put your skills before you and manage them, instead of leaving it to chance?


Workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others. The skills and capabilities required will also shift, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity. – McKinsey & Company


Today, our challenge is not scarcity of information – we live in a world of super-abundant information – the real challenge is in excavating the right knowledge to help you remain relevant. Therefore, you can no longer wait to see what happens. Take advantage of the abundantly free and low-priced materials around us and prune your talents! Moreover, as the shelf-life of skills continues to shrink, if you’re not progressively improving your competencies, you will be left behind. According to LinkedIn, 90% of executives say that talent is the number one priority at their companies. Subscribe to get started with a personalized education on Readyforwork Career Coaching Program.

 

  • Learn how to learn new knowledge and skills

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. — Alvin Toffler,  American writer, futurist, and businessman

Image result for gif about learning

To begin with, these six guides shared by Michael Simmons can help you master any skill, and put you at a position of advantage in today’s digital economy:

  1. Identify valuable knowledge at the right time. With maturity and reshape of technology across industries, he says, there is often a deficit of people with the needed skills, which creates the potential for high compensation.
  2. Learn and master that knowledge quickly. Opportunity windows are not static, therefore, you have to spot the trends as quickly as possible.
  3. Communicate the value of your skills to others. Two people equally skilled at the same craft could earn very different salaries and fees. It all depends on their ability to sell and market themselves. Says Simmons, many people spend years mastering an underlying technical skill and almost no time mastering this multiplier skill.
  4. Convert knowledge into money and results. The value of information is the ability to use it and enrich your life.  Don’t just learn to have information, get value for your education by applying it in “finding and getting a better job, getting a raise, building a successful business, selling your knowledge as a consultant, and building your reputation by becoming a thought leader.”
  5. Learn how to financially invest in learning to get the highest return. “Each of us needs to find the right “portfolio” of books, online courses, and certificate/degree programs to help us meet our goals within our budget,” Simmons says. If knowledge equals capital, then it makes sense to apply financial intelligence to your education.
  6. Master the skill of learning how to learn. Simmons stressed that our learning rate determines how quickly we can compound information over time. “Consider someone who reads and retains one book a week versus someone who takes 10 days to read a book. Over the course of a year, a 30% difference compounds to one person reading 85 more books.”

In her article entitled The Protégé Effect, Annie Murphy Paul, the author of Origins, gave a brilliant account of how teaching what you learned is the best form of learning. “Students enlisted to tutor others… work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively. In what scientists have dubbed “the protégé effect,” student teachers score higher on tests than pupils who are learning only for their own sake,” she wrote.

To quote Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD, “we used to learn to do the work, now learning IS the work.

  • Transcend your environment

With the rising digitization in today’s world and the ubiquity of the internet, ignorance is no longer acceptable. Tony Elumelu, Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation and Group Chairman, UBA Group

Tony Elumelu engages associates of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) in an interactive session

When I was in college, I always told my colleagues that the competition we’d face in the job market is not from students in Ghana but those elsewhere like Europe, America and so on. I always thought that we now live in a global village and internet penetration has removed most of the barriers. Therefore, you can longer assume that all you see in your immediate environment is all. That is the reason I left Nigeria to come to Ghana for my college education.

In the last few months, several headhunters from around the world (especially, India) looking to fill different roles have reached out to me on LinkedIn. The internet has given talent professionals access to a tremendous pool of candidates, thereby shifting the resource pool from industry or location to a higher-quality global population.

If your college or workplace does not have that form of global perspective, you can transcend your environment. It’s your responsibility to immerse yourself in global conversations. Don’t limit yourself to your coursework or job description. Don’t be hemmed-in by society, location or nationality. Create your own reality, develop your voice and find your place in the world.

Here’s an idea: Make out time to take part in community events and programs. Be part of a cause that’s bigger than yourself. If you cannot find an organization that serves your purpose, can you form one?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from; it doesn’t matter whether you’re 24 or 42, if you have the skills for the future of work and know how to market it, you’ll win! In a time when many people are complaining about not finding work, I know several others who have more jobs than they can handle.

As I write this, software developer training and outsourcing company, Andela, just announced a $100 million Series D round funding to further scale their program. If you asked me, what is education today? I’d say it’s an ability to take ownership of your aspirations and grow in confidence that yields success. I believe we’re in an “alternative education” era when education is no longer about degrees or accolades. It’s about developing the capacity to solve problems – and getting adequate consideration in that process. Education today is a reprogramming of the mind.

Stop complaining; no one is listening. Take control of your life. You’ve got this!

Get started with a personalized education on Readyforwork Career Coaching Program.


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! To get more inspiring contents like this in your inbox subscribe to our mailing list.

Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your result with who you are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever put so much work into something and it failed?

Have you ever missed a big opportunity?

Have you ever been in a situation where it looks like you’re the dumbest person on the planet?

I’ve been there, and I know it hurts.

It hurts to throw yourself into something, and it doesn’t work out. It hurts when denied an opportunity you know you’re qualified for, and other less-qualified people got selected. It hurts to see everyone else progressing, but you’re still stagnant. 

Many people, when they experience failure, start thinking that is their destiny. They buy into what Les Brown calls “the never lies”: I’m never going to amount to anything; I’ll never be happy.

Their self-image gets destroyed by their experience and life becomes meaningless. They live day-to-day and every waking moment is mental torture. They’re like the woman in the book, The Alchemist, every day is just the same and there’s nothing to hope for.

If you’re going through a failure situation, I have good news for you: There’s a science-based formula for reinventing yourself! I know it works because it worked on me. While I cannot promise you fame or fortune, I can guarantee, however, that if you apply these principles, you will not only reinvent yourself, but you will be rightly positioned to do remarkable things in life!

3 Steps for Conquering Failure & Missed Opportunities

Step 1: Detox your mind

“Success and prosperity are nothing more than a way of thinking. We need to think differently.” – Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group.

woman taking photo while smiling

Nutritionists and psychotherapists have found several reasons why we need to occasionally detoxify our bodies: To remove toxins from the body, prevent chronic diseases, lose weight, enhance the function of our immune system, and so on. Likewise, we must occasionally detox our minds.

The problem with many people is that their mind has accumulated several layers of negative silos from their experiences of failure. They’re afraid of taking risks because they think they will never make it. This is what experts call associative conditioning – your mind preventing you from taking actions it links with pain and pushing you to the ones it links with pleasure.

If this is you, take heart, you can break that cycle from today! How? By detoxifying your mind!

Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University developed a groundbreaking learning theory called a growth mindset. It’s a sharp deviation from the common belief that a person’s talents are cast in stone. A growth mindset is a concept that revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability, and performance. It is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. In other words, failure is not final, it can be conquered with efforts.

Related image

Is your life on track or are you drifting? Are you feeling stuck and powerless? Do you feel overwhelmed?

The good news is: Whatever damage negative, limiting thoughts have done in your life can be undone by you detoxifying your mind. Hence, you can begin, now, to fill your mind with positivity. You can begin to believe that things always go well with you. You can begin to believe that you’re a success. You can begin to expect amazing things to happen – and research says the universe will correspond to the nature of your song!

Mind over matter? Yes, but that’s not all. You have to take actions that resonate with your new self-image. Create a picture of who you want to be and propel your life in that direction through massive action (we’d take a deep dive into this in point 2). When you believe something, you commit to it.

Step 2: Define priorities and cut the clutters

Some people chase too many things at the same time. Their attention and energy strains between several options.

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown explains that, for centuries, that word “priority” was singular. It meant the first thing. Before somewhere around the 20th century, when the plural “priorities” magically surfaced, there can only be one first thing. Today, a lot of us are choked with several first things that we’re stumbling.

We’re in motion yet without tangible results. It’s time to press a pause on your endless to-dos and check your life:

  • What have you achieved in the past two years of your business, career or life?
  • What are the failures you’ve experienced in that process?
  • Is there a correlation between your lack of focus in your success or failed efforts?
  • What is the one thing that if achieved will move your life further?
  • What has been a drag to your life that you need to let go of?

When you’re done ferreting out answers to these questions, then it’s time to commit. If you’re a business owner, you’d probably discover that your lack of focus and strategy is sapping your energy. In other words, you’re a control freak and it’s killing your productivity. It might make sense to delegate or outsource the activities that do not rank within your strengths and specialize in those you excel in.

If you’re a student, you may realize that you’re spending too much time on other stuff instead of your studies. It’s quite easy to slack at school these days. The truth is: Education is still prime, regardless of your aspirations.

See, success is not accidental. Being a “jack of all trade or gonna-doer” does not translate to success either. It makes us lousy because, as Tony Elumelu said, you can have it all but not at the same time.

Pinpoint where your time and efforts are going, set your focus on a specific target, seek mentor support in guiding your path, and, commit to a course of action.

Focus your energy on those things that move you closer to bigger opportunities. To quote McKeown, “only once you give yourself the permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

Step 3: Create “A-Game” partnerships

Several research studies have tested the correlation between accountability and success, and the results always pointed to a similar conclusion: “Publicly committing your goals to someone gives you at least a 65% chance of completing them. And, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.”

Why is this so? Why is there a high chance for us to follow through on a commitment to someone else than to ourselves? The reason is simple: We’re far more likely to lie to and let down ourselves than someone we trust and respect.

Believe it or not, accountability works – every, single, time.

Consequently, when it comes to choosing your inner circle, you need people who hold you to high standards. You need people who are transformational and self-motivated. This is what I call “A-Game” partners.

Says Benjamin P Hardy: “The mere fact that most people avoid accountability is a powerful reason to create LOTS of it in your life.”

Your “A-Game” partners are innovators – they are continually pushing boundaries and breaking molds. They understand they’re responsible for their lives and results hence they take action in creating the outcomes they want.

One of my “A-Game” partners is a young woman I met a few years ago. Although we come from different backgrounds, we share similar worldviews. To her, the world is binary: If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you don’t know something, learn it.

Her unique insights and simple approach to life are remarkable. We intrinsically challenge each other to grow further and outdo our pasts.

Do you have an “A-Game” partner? Do you have someone to whom you can peel off your life without the fear of being judged or criticized? Are you carefully choosing your network or are you tiptoeing around with losers?

If you don’t have good people around you, find some. And, don’t just find one, create an army. Immerse yourself in a network of people who inspire you to become better. Remember: Relationships thrive when each party is pulling along. So, don’t just take, give back.

You can overcome failure and missed opportunities

If you’ve experienced failure or missed several opportunities, this is the time rewrite your story. Be patient with yourself as you practice the following three steps: 1) detox your mind, 2) define your priority, and 3) create an “A-Game” partners.

Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your results with who you are. Every failed attempt moves you further. Another thing I want you to remember is that just because someone else is prospering doesn’t make you a failure – focus on your own journey. Invest in yourself, improve your worth, become inspiring. And, the next time an opportunity comes knocking, you’d be ready!


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! To get more inspiring contents like this in your inbox subscribe to our mailing list.

The World Bank in conjunction with the United Nations held a number of different events in various countries around the world on October 17 to mark the International Day for Eradication of Poverty, 2018. These include an inspiring in-country dialogue session and interactive video conference on the theme “Africa’s Youth and the Future of Work”.

Although different speakers pivoted on the value of soft skills in today’s workforce during both the in-country and video conference event, the questions of some of the participants at the Accra event show that a number of people are not particularly sure about what constitutes soft skills and how to develop them.

Of course, the panelists, as well as myself, gave further useful interventions on what soft skills are and the need to cultivate them as a student or job seeker. However, after speaking with one accounting student that approached me after the session, I made a mental note to share further thoughts on this subject. In this article, you will learn what soft skills are, why they are becoming increasingly important, and how to essentially develop them.

So, let’s take a deep dive –

What are Soft Skills?

I think that the best way to understand soft skills is by understanding hard skills. It is generally accepted that hard skills are what you learned or studied in school that can be defined and quantified on paper. Specifically, they are competencies like an ability to use software tools, writing, doing accounting and so on.

On the flip side, soft skills are those abstract, intangible skills that are difficult to quantify and are not usually taught in the classroom. They are skills we use in navigating everyday life and making human connections. Soft skills are often referred to as transferable skills or professional skills.

From data collected in over two years of our methodological research in making sense of the persistent disconnect between education and industry requirements, below are three main sets of skills employers categorize as soft skills:

  • People Skills – this includes teamwork, interpersonal skills, communication, leadership, and customer orientation.
  • Self Reliance Skills – this includes self-awareness, proactivity, willingness to learn, self-promotion, networking and planning action.
  • Life Skills – this includes problem-solving, flexibility, business acumen, critical thinking, and commitment.

The importance of soft skills in today’s competitive, fast-paced, digital work environment cannot be overemphasized. The more intelligent technologies continue to redefine our workplace, the more human cognitive skills are sought after.

In fact, soft skills are becoming today’s hard skills. You can be the world’s best software engineer or accountant but if you don’t know how to work with people; if you cannot communicate your thoughts clearly; if you cannot deconstruct complexities and proffer simple solutions, you will not be of much use to anyone.

Candidates that demonstrate these competencies will always be farther ahead in the workplace. Academic qualifications obviously have their place; they open doors but soft skills are what keeps you on the job.

How do you develop soft skills?

There are many activities that can help you cultivate soft skills. Programs like SFAN’s Readyforwork Career Coaching Program are super important in developing your soft skills. Through personalized educational contents crafted by employers, one-on-one coaching, and team conversations, participants are equipped with practical skills and exposed to real-world projects that empower them to take ownership of their career aspirations and grow in confidence that yields success.

Also, engaging in community service and volunteer programs are crucial ways of improving your soft skills. They help you generate goodwill that comes from teamwork and collaboration. Volunteering is also a great way to sharpen your leadership skills, networking skills, and problem-solving skills.

Furthermore, participating in group discussions, events and social networking can be another way of developing your soft skills. Learn to speak up whenever you have the opportunity and get comfortable standing in front of people. If you are afraid of public speaking, well my friend, you’re not alone – 41% of people across cultures around the world are terrified about public speaking. The vital thing to note is that public speaking is not a performance but a conversation from your heart.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my career is that nothing is a given. Things change fast and knowing how to think on your feet is a skill that’ll take you places. I can write about this in two books because of its importance in the workplace today. Train yourself to be a problem solver. The most uninspiring thing you can do is to be the girl or boy that always go to your boss or team leader with problems. Everyone sees problems but not everyone sees solutions. Hence, before you point out a problem, have a solution on hand. It will set you apart from others.

Conclusion

The good news is that all these soft skills are learnable. With careful observation and practice, you can improve on each and every one of them. The most interesting thing about human being is that nobody is born smart – we all start at zero. Believe it or not, there was a time when Einstein couldn’t do his ABCs. Chimamanda Adichie definitely didn’t start her career as a great communicator. Neither was Barack Obama a remarkable leader as a teenager. They all learned and practiced these crafts until they perfected it. Now that you know the traits you should cultivate for the future of work, you too can do the same! Sign up here to receive more tools for career development and to be in the know about our epic events and training programs.


About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Have other tips you want to add? Drop them in comments! If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it!

Everybody knows that getting a rejection email for a job application really sucks. But in reality, about 98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening. Only 2% of job candidates make it to an interview.

Unfortunately, recruiters don’t usually give candidates an absolute, meaningful feedback on why they were rejected. To help you catch the “bullseye” of employers, I started sharing the rookie mistakes I see job seekers make time and time again.

This series started with an insight into the Biggest Job Application Mistakes You Must Avoid at All Costs, followed by 5 Distinguishing Traits Employers look for in a Prospective New Hire. In this concluding part, we shall review 6 cardinal red flags recruiters look out for in a job candidate. If you are currently looking for a job, well my friend, it is your lucky day! I am about to show you the cheat sheet hiring managers use for recruiting. 

The 6 candidate red flags

  • Inconsistencies and Lies

The first red flag for a hiring manager is a discrepancy in a candidate’s resume. This could be in the form of regular gaps in employment history, lies about past employers or an embellished job title.

In today’s competitive job market, it might be incredibly tempting to embellish your resume. If this is you, think again! Any form of lying on your resume will definitely come back to bite you. When a recruiter determines there is a discrepancy in your copy (whether online or offline), that’s game over.

The worst-case scenario is when you pulled a “Mike Ross” and eventually get the job. The day the truth materializes, the public humiliation will paint a black shade over your career prospects, permanently.

Nevertheless, if the discrepancy is in the form of employment gaps, the solution may be in adjusting your resume. Use your summary statement to level with any inconsistency the hiring manager might pick up on. Be sure to keep your copy within 100 words.

  • Job Hopping

Profiles that show frequent job hopping is a big red flag. In fact, talent professionals argue that resumes filled with short-term gigs indicate the candidate lacks commitment, is poor at building relationships or burns out quickly.

The recruitment process is often time-consuming and expensive. And so, losing an employee after a year means wasting precious time and resources on training and development, only to lose the employee before that investment pays off. Plus, many recruiters may assume the employee didn’t have time to learn much at a one-year job, says Jeanne Meister, HR Partner, Future Workplace.

Historically, there are few available data on how long an average worker should stay in a job in Africa. Nevertheless, career experts recommend that in an ideal case, you should try to stay at each job for a minimum of two years.

In the words of Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, no matter how badly you want to leave your job or move onto something bigger and better, you don’t want to be branded a serial job-hopper.

That said, if you are faced with the job-hopping or employment gap dilemma, use the functional resume strategy to put a positive spin on your copy. Optimize your template to focus your on your skills, what you have achieved and your abilities rather than time spent in or out of jobs.

  • A lack of professionalism online

According to Recruiterbox, 43% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidate. Also, 51% of employers who check a candidate’s social media profiles have found content that disqualifies a candidate. In fact, this survey found that 70% of employers use social media to look for red flags on a candidate.

Here are four things your online presence show hiring managers:
1. Stats and results – factual data referencing accomplishments like growth percentages or direct bookings
2. Attention to detail and seriousness – A complete LinkedIn profile shows that the candidate is a detail-oriented and serious job seeker
3. Recommendations from former employers and peers – research shows that the inclusion of testimonials may share more about a candidate’s performance and personality.
4. Community involvement – Participating actively in online groups or volunteering suggests that a candidate has more interest and solid connections with a particular industry or community.

With this understanding, you need to be circumspect with your online interactions. Your digital footprint provides deep insight into who you are, what you care about and what you bring to the table. Consequently, any serious-minded job seeker will do the legwork of putting a good front on his or her digital platforms.

Use the tips in this article to adjust your digital presence, create a compelling value proposition, and move your career prospects further, faster.

  • Ambiguous language

It is common knowledge among recruiters (and supported by research) that you can evaluate the potential performance of candidates based on their speech. Majority of recruiters listen/look out for the following magic, or the lack thereof when evaluating candidates:

  1. Pronoun: “I” and “me” – studies show that low and average performers use about 400%
    more second-person pronouns like you, your and about 90% more third-person pronouns like he, she, they than high performers.
  2. Tense: workplace experience stories told in the past tense – studies show that low and average performers use the present tense 120% more and the future tense 70% more.
  3. Voice: usage of active voice – studies show that low and average performers often use the passive voice 40%–50% more than high performers.

The use of vague languages, such as “familiar with” or “participated in,” could imply the candidate didn’t actually work on the project or they simply assisted in some way, courtesy to a LinkedIn research.

Here are 36 words and phrases you should never include on your résumé.

  • Unprofessional profile photo

There’s an old and probably overused saying among marketers which is that people hear what they see. Inappropriate and unprofessional photos on your social media touchpoints can raise a red flag to recruiters.  They often portray you in an unprofessional light.

So, before you share your next twerk video or Instagram photo with your boobs up in the air, your pants sagging or your drunken eyes looking at the world like “Klint Da Drunk” think of the potential career limiting implications of such graphics.

A job seeker is far more likely to make an impression with employers if she or he has a professional, high-quality photo. The solution is simple: Get dressed up and hire a good photographer, says Ismael Wrixen, CEO, FE International.

Whatever it takes typography on black felt board frame on white wall

  • Mistakes and typos

In my journey to find the top 10% of entry-level job seekers and match them to jobs that have prospects for career progression, personal development, and economic prosperity, I have read thousands of resumes. I have seen the good, the bad and the very ugly ones.

A CareerBuilder survey found that 58% of all resumes have a typo of some form. Resumes with grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or poor formatting indicate that you lack attention to details. While some people may want to argue that it is human to make mistakes, many hiring managers have a very strong opinion about this matter; almost to the point, and often to the point that one single typo is an automatic veto.

Why? Because how you do anything is how you do everything, the logic goes: if a candidate does not pay attention in getting his or her tenses right, where else will he or she show the same lack of discipline?

Yet, attention to detail is one of the all-time proxies for job qualification many of us highlight in our resumes. Therefore, if you have the audacity to tell the recruiter that you are “an excellent communicator with great attention to detail,” then you better bring it. Quite frankly, if you don’t, well, it’s your fault for being so sloppy and careless–sorry!

To avoid shooting yourself in the foot before you even start competing for the hiring manager’s attention, please use a grammar checker like Grammarly to proofread your stuff and make necessary adjustments. 

Conclusion

There you have it – from pre-screen to post-hire, the knowledge of what hiring managers look for and what they avoid in a candidate is now at your disposal. As the job market becomes increasingly tighter and recruiters continually look for smarter and more sophisticated candidates, the least you can do is to prop yourself up with all the secrets I’ve shared with you in this article. Observe them, commit them to memory and when you have scaled through the process, remember to pay it forward.

Have other tips you noticed? Drop them in comments.


Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you like this article, consider sharing it. Need help finding your perfect job, reach out to us via info@sfanonline.org. To get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights, Subscribe here

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There are certain traits that make you successful in a job.

In my previous article, I shared some insights into 6 biggest job application mistakes you must avoid at all costs. A gentleman reached out to me after reading the article to ask if I could write a follow-up piece on what employers look for when hiring.

I have had the pleasure of participating in numerous recruitment exercises through personal engagements with institutions like President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) West Africa (as a volunteer consultant responsible for assessing and interviewing applicants from 9 YALI West African countries including training a team of local and international assessors and interviewers), and SFAN’s job placement initiatives.

Regardless of size, industry or legal structure, the five traits below are distinguishing traits many employers look for in a prospective new hire.

  • Smartness – clever, witty, or readily effective attitude

Whenever we sit down with a client for a briefing, this is one of the traits mentioned again and again as the first thing they want from a new hire. The reason is simple — employers want someone who can get the job done. In this era of accelerated change, overwhelming complexity and uncertain work environment, very few employers have enough time to teach a candidate everything he or she needs to know. Click To TweetIt’s no longer enough to focus on the job description, you need experience and mastery of other transferable, cross-functional skills like social media, communication, email, etc. Therefore, your ability to demonstrate both industry competence and related functional leadership will set you apart.

  • Passion – strong and barely controllable desire

The business world is getting increasingly fierce, thanks to technology and competition. A passion for your work helps you maintain the level of focus and commitment required to survive and thrive. Consequently, recruiting managers are keen to find candidates who can progressively demonstrate dedication and commitment to their job. When someone cares about the job, he or she can go the extra mile in delivering above and beyond expected results — not just doing the barest minimum that earns him/her a paycheck. A candidate with passion adds great value to the company.

And, it is easy to tell whether a person is passionate or not. One meeting or interview with a candidate is enough to tell you whether he or she is passionate. I have seen that candidates that approach an interview with enthusiasm and have concrete goals for their career, a self-development plan, and are able to articulate their thoughts usually perform well on the job. As any recruiter will tell you, self-motivated candidates are like flickers of light; they help others find direction.

  • Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate

We live in a world where everyone does not have the same starting point. Therefore, you must be compassionate and considerate in how you treat yourself and other people.

We have all heard of the power of little acts of kindness. A prominent example is the incident of August 2016 Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro. Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino where four laps from finishing the 5000m race when they tripped and fell. The American athlete, Abbey D’Agostino got up first but instead of continuing running, she pulled up her opponent and said, “get up, we have to finish this!” Unfortunately, shortly after that, her knee gave out; she had injured her right leg in the fall. D’Agostino was on all fours on the Olympic track, her face writ in pain.

Realizing what had happened, Hamblin stopped running and reached back for her. They continued to run side-by-side in the bottom spot until they finished the race. These women have never met each other before.

Although this might be an exceptional case, we encounter issues and situations in the workplace every day that one may be tempted to look the other way. However, one act of compassion may be all you need to make a lasting difference. And, it starts with being gentle to yourself because if you are not kind to you, you cannot be kind to anyone else.

  • Hustle – grit, a trait of perseverance

Angela Duckworth is an American psychologist and researcher. As part of her work, she spent years researching traits that make a person successful or not. From Westpoint Military Academy to National Spelling Bee to Private Sales Enterprises, one significant characteristic she learned as a distinguishing factor for success is a simple word, grit.

Grit, as she defines it is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It is stamina, ability to stick with your future day-in-day-out, and working hard to make that a reality. Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint.

Our era of instagramification has led many to believe that success (in jobs and life) can be automated like social media posts and grocery orders. But then you study highly successful people and you realize that to be successful at anything you do requires a mind-blowing work ethic. Candidates that demonstrate the ability to hustle and reach for their goals will always outshine others who want things to happen by autopilot.

Research has proven that talent alone does not make a person great; the world is filled with talented failures.

The Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck, popularised the idea of a Growth Mindset through her book “Growth Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. It says that the ability to learn is not fixed; it can be learned. In other words, failure is not a permanent condition, it can change with efforts.

The stick-ability in chasing your goals, exploring your potentials and continually learning, adapting, and evolving is more important in the workplace today than any and everything else you can think of. Click To Tweet
  • Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

Being dependable and trustworthy one of the most important traits in the workplace. It fosters a great work environment.

No one wants to deal with someone or a company that says one thing but goes on to do an entirely different thing. We all want someone that can follow through, take responsibility for their actions and execute on commitments.

Strive Masiyiwa is the billionaire founder of Econet Wireless. His teachings are filled with stories taken from his own experience in which he steadfastly refused to compromise his principles. Masiyiwa says that integrity is one of the major reasons for his success in life and business: “In my 30 years running a business (remember I started in 1986),” he wrote,” I’ve met and known some highly gifted entrepreneurs who looked ready to set the whole world ablaze, but after a few years, some of them failed spectacularly. Whenever I looked back on what had happened… more often than not, it was an issue of integrity.”

No matter how much success a person accumulates by compromising or cheating, it will eventually fizzle away. Every culture and belief show there are no shortcuts to success. It may be painful to maintain your honest stance but in the long run, it will pay off.

In the words of Brian Tracy, self-development trainer and coach,  “there should be no exceptions to honesty and integrity. Integrity is a state of mind and is not situational. If you compromise your integrity in small situations with little consequence, then it becomes very easy to compromise on the big situations.”

Have other traits you noticed? Drop them in comments.


Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you like this article, check out this one on how to make the best of your internship. Need help finding your perfect job, reach out to us via info@sfanonline.org. Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

It can be frustrating when you send in your application for a job opening but do not receive a response from the hiring manager. Apart from the fact that the job market is competitive as ever, the reason you are not hearing back from hiring managers may be some of these limiting job application mistakes I am about to share with you.

One thing many job applicants do not take into serious consideration is that their application is the first point of contact with the company they are applying to — it is an opportunity to slingshot your copy into the hiring manager’s shortlist. Therefore, you must do everything necessary to grab that opportunity and make the employer go wild over your copy!

From an experience of reviewing numerous applications within the past two years, the following are some of the biggest mistakes people commit while applying for jobs.

1. Not following the application procedure and poor email etiquettes

Here is the rule of thumb you should bear in mind when applying for any job: every company has a recruitment process that prospective employees are required to follow. For the most part, it is usually simple and will be communicated in the application form. You will do yourself great service if you follow whatever procedure is required of you.

If the job application is via an email, ensure you add a heading to your email. Because emails can contain viruses and irrelevant information, email headings are how busy people decide whether to open it or not. Also, I think it is generally unprofessional to send an email without a heading. For employers, how you do anything is how you do everything. If you cannot add a subject line to a mail that announces your first contact with the company, how likely is it that you will do any different when you are hired?

Experts have said that a good job application subject line should 1) be professional, 2) be relevant, 3) contain the job title you are applying to, and 4) be short and straight to the point.

Here is an example of a good job application subject line: Administrative Assistant Job – Edith S. Boakye.

Furthermore, your email address should reflect the professionalism you seek to portray. Emails such as sexybaby123@gmail.com is a turn off for many hiring managers. A better and more professional email address would be edith.boakye@gmail.com. Some recruiters recommend that you set up a separate email account for job-related purposes.

Finally, ensure to keep your email content as brief as possible. Errors in grammar and spelling will be the first thing that will catch the employer’s attention. So, do yourself a favor and spell-check it before clicking send.

2. Sending a poorly written resume

One major deal breaker in a job application process happens over the resume. Regardless of size or industry, this study suggests that many recruiters, hiring managers and human resource professionals are still utilizing resumes as the basis for great first impression in a recruitment process.

In a recent survey of over 300 hiring managers, Top Resume reveals that the followings are the biggest resume deal breakers candidates should avoid:

  1. Spelling and/or grammatical errors
  2. Incorrect or missing contact information
  3. Unprofessional email address
  4. Outdated or irrelevant information (hobbies, age, marital status)
  5. Failure to demonstrate and quantify results
  6. Annoying buzzwords and/or obvious keyword stuffing
  7. Too generalized/not customized to match job listing
  8. Repetitive words or phrases used in multiple job descriptions
  9. Including a headshot (the photo may be distracting or unprofessional)
  10. Format and/or design is too elaborate (a one-page resume is more ideal for most resumes)

3. Not adding a good cover letter

One of the most important tools in your job application arsenal is a cover letter. If it is true that a resume is like an appetizer to a hiring manager, then the cover letter is like the main ditch for determining if the candidate will proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process (in some instances, the reverse may be the case).

A cover letter allows you to target the recruiter and job in a more direct manner; highlighting your skills in a way your resume cannot. Click To Tweet It is also your sales copy to show the employer why the job is of interest to you and why you’re the one he or she must hire.

Therefore, ensure to put some thought into crafting this real estate. Be diligent in your research of the company; understand whom to address your copy to and skillfully highlight the keywords that are relevant to the job while demonstrating that your personality fits the organization’s culture – that is if it actually does.

Lastly, keep in mind that with an increasing number of software tools being utilized to navigate through a stockpile of applications, the cover letter is usually the first thing the hiring manager will see, especially as the pile minimizes to ideal candidates.

4. Not knowing the company you’re applying to

You’ve read the job application and you’ve made your resume waterproof. Now, you just want to quickly send in your resume so it can be the first thing the recruiter will see. While it can be useful to send your resume as early as possible, you miss a great opportunity if you do not research the company you’re applying to work for.

As any recruiter will tell you, there is nothing as frustrating as calling a candidate for an interview only to find out that he or she does not know anything about the company’s business.

For starters, researching the company will help you tailor your cover letter as explained above. It also helps you connect with people that already work there and gives you the chance to determine if the company is headed in the direction you want to go.

5. Not keeping a good social media presence

Here’s another secret for job seekers: most hiring managers will check out a candidate’s social media presence before making a job offer. In this digital age, the first thing most recruiters do before contacting you is to Google your name (your LinkedIn profile is usually their first destination), and if you have not kept a good social media presence, you will be at a loss. 

For a technical role as a web or software developer, I will want to see some repository on Github or websites you’ve built.

No company will hire someone that is perceived as a reputation hazard. Hence, endeavor to keep your profiles as professional as you can get and watch your comments and posts. It is easy to get entangled in a “flame of wars” that means nothing to you but might matter very much to your prospective employer. More so, be careful that you don’t vent your frustrations about brands or people online — you never know where your next job may be coming from.

This article has further recommendations from recruiters on how to keep a great social media presence when looking for a job.

6. Lying in your application

One major reason a resume is not an objective source of information for a recruitment decision is that many applicants lie on their resumes. Consequently, employers are devising numerous strategies to catch those who tell a fib through various online and backdoor reference checks.

If a recruiter determines that a candidate lied in his or her application, the candidate has marked ATS and that will be the end of that candidate’s chance of ever getting a job in that company.

Another reason it is inadvisable to lie in your application is that even if you don’t get caught in the recruitment process, it will eventually come up at some point. When that happens, you will not get away with it. Experts recommend that “by making friends with employees on networking sites like LinkedIn, job seekers can demonstrate how their personalities and aptitude are a match for the employer and this makes not having an exact match inexperience less of an issue”.

Twitter can also be a good place to network with prospective employers. Use these tips to network like a pro.

Conclusion

The job search process can be extremely overwhelming and tedious. But, when you finally find that opening that matches your qualification or can be a great stepping stone to your career goals, you want to ensure that you put in the efforts by making your application irresistible to the hiring manager. In the words of Vince Lombardi, the price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

Have other job application mistakes you noticed? Drop them in comments.


Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

Image: Cytonn on Unsplash

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It used to be when you want to connect with people you don’t have access to, you look for someone to introduce you to them. But with tools like Twitter, connecting with anyone and everyone is one direct message (DM) or mention away.

Although many pundits are writing Twitter obituaries with #RIPTwitter, the numbers tell a different story. With about 328 million monthly users, Twitter is an incredible resource for personal branding and making vital connections.

If you are a job seeker, Twitter can help you discover great companies and people who work in them.

More so, Twitter helps you amplify your voice. A recent, notable example is the story of this Ghanaian teacher who educates his students on computer technology without any computers. The image of him using a blackboard with a diagram of Microsoft Word drawn upon it became an immediate sensation on Twitter. It took just one tweet from The Queen of African Tech, a nickname for Rebecca Enonchong of AppsTech, for Microsoft to commit to supporting him and his school.

So, how can you catch in on this whirlpool of resource to make your career move?

Below are actionable insights on how to build an image that gets you hired.

Tweet Your Way to the Boardroom: Simple Hacks for Personal Branding on Twitter

#1: Role model the pros

The first step to mastering this nirvana is to understand how it works. Like many things in life, observation is key to learning the in-game of Twitter. Therefore, connect with the pros and learn what they do.

Seriously, do not send any tweets until you have mastered how to weave up smart and crafty tweets that get attention. Sharing loose and random thoughts might hurt your career in the future because recruiters will always look you up when you apply for jobs.

The beauty of Twitter is that one connection can lead you to a whole new community. Use tools like MentionmappTwitalyzer, and HootSuite to easily plot a savvy graph of influencers, professionals, and companies to follow. It’s important that you follow companies you hope to work with.

#2: Define your identity

When it comes to personal branding, identity is everything. That begins with your username, keep it professional.

Choose one to three subjects that interest you and build your equity around those subjects. If it is true that you are what you eat, it is equally true that you are what you tweet.

Make it easy for anyone that visits your profile to clearly see your achievements and focus.

You cannot be everything to everyone, but you could be something to everyone. 

Select a profile cover that reflects your purpose, use a profile picture that looks the part of the persona you’re building and make your bio a marketing tool to highlight what you have achieved and what you care about.

The chief evangelist of Canva, Guy Kawasaki, is very popular of social media and his rule of thumb is to always have a professional business attire photo of just your face for profile pictures.

His Twitter bio starts with a mantra that reads: I empower people.

Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) _ Twitter - Google Chrome 04_03_2018 05_22_20

#3: Find your rhythm

When you have fine-tuned your gig to highlight your vision and interests, the next step is to find your rhythm.

Decide the tone and voice of your tweet and when/how often you want to communicate with your followers.

Gather Content defines the two concepts as follows:

Voice: your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional.

Tone: a subset of your brand’s voice. Tone adds a specific flavor to your voice based on factors like audience, situation, and channel.

The Director of Marketing at Buffer, Kevan Lee, takes it a step further in this article. Essentially, he says, there is one voice for your brand and many tones that refine that voice. Voice is a mission statement, tone is the application of that mission.

As much as your aim is to remain visible to recruiters, being circumspect with what you tweet and when you tweet is needful. Products like bitly provide valuable data that helps you gauge the reactions on your tweet and measure the peak times to tweet.

Give your tweet an opportunity of being retweeted by tweeting when your followers are online.

Furthermore, pay attention to your language and tweet structure. Don’t always use all the 240 characters. Experts say around 100 characters is the sweet spot.

When you have chosen a language structure, try to keep it up. The idea is to be professional while being as real as possible.

#4: Share valuable content

As marketers will say, content is still king. Therefore, focus on providing insights, valuable tips, and useful resources.

You don’t have to be an expert to do this – the internet is filled with resources you can share. Do not repurpose another person’s content without attribution. You will lose credibility if you plagiarised.

Also, you can start your own blog and share your perspectives with your network. If you make your handle a go-to resource for useful tools, people will respond equally.

Twitter is great for amplifying your messages through retweets. If you need help with this amplification, search for viral words and phrases that you can include in your content to boost its visibility.

Screen-shot-2014-03-13-at-2.31.49-PM Screen-shot-2014-03-13-at-2.32.03-PM

Remember, whatever you tweet will show up on someone’s timeline, so think of how they read your contents.

P.S. Before you retweet or share a post, it’s always advisable that you read it to avoid sharing contents that are not in line with your brand image. Also, use hashtags sparingly.

Use Google Link Shortener or bitly to shorten links. And add an image to your tweets as it improves your chances of getting retweets (Locate a website for free stock images and other tools in this post.)

#5: Connect with the community

Twitter is about making connections and engaging with people. Keep your tweets as conversational as possible and communicate from your heart.

Don’t always focus on gaining popularity or going viral. Popularity has its place, but relevance will always trump cheap popularity. Many times, the value you offer to your community is the most important thing.

Make out times to read tweets of companies and people you want to connect with.

Be a promoter, support their cause and be generous with your retweets and comments. Everyone likes a compliment and affirmation but make sure that it doesn’t come out as spam.

If you have to DM, be sure to state the exact action you need the person to take. Sending “hello, how are you?” to someone is usually not a good communication line – especially when you don’t know each other. People are busy with several things, so be specific with your ask and follow up when you don’t hear back from the person. However, be strategic with the frequency of your follow-ups.

#6: Evaluate and recommit

Reviewing your activity is important for building your brand and connecting with the right people. In the world of social media, things change very fast and you must continually evolve.

Always make time to scroll through your timeline and read your tweets with an outsider’s eye. Review and refine your communication.

Use the tips from point one to create benchmarks that makes you progressive. When you have mastered the art, you can always create your own process.

Building a brand requires tact and patience. If your goal is to build a brand that hiring managers will literally fight over, you must do it with intention.

Tweet and get hired!

Twitter is a very powerful tool for connecting with a global community. Whether you’re a complete novice or a Twitter pro, the hacks above will help you become so relevant that companies will pay you to represent them.


We’d love to hear what you’ve tested and how it went. Let us know in the comments.


Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

Image Credits: Dan Zarrella, Maskot/Getty Images 

Internships are super important for every college student today. Apart from them being ways of exploring the world of work, they help you acquire job experience. Recruiters will hire someone with a job experience rather than someone with a general resume.

(If you are looking for feasible tips and strategies on how to prepare for your dream career, level-up with this inside scoop from hiring managers.)

Many companies are increasingly investing in internship programs as a recruitment tool for full-time jobs. Therefore, your ability to distinguish yourself from other interns contributes towards your chances of getting hired. In this post, I will give you a cheat sheet for making that happen!

  1. Have a clear goal

Internships are investments in your future. They move you even closer to actualizing your career goals. Consequently, you need to have a goal for your internship. Be specific about what you want from the opportunity and work towards actualizing it every day.

Your goal must not be extraordinary; it could be skills you want to learn from the job and how you want to be remembered afterward. The effect of your work is often the most important thing.

Endeavor to merge your goals into your supervisor’s goal. No matter how significant your goals are, if they are not in congruence with that of your boss, you are running a losing race. Therefore, be clear about what he or she wants from you at the end of the day and use every opportunity to actualize it.

  1. Be a fast follower

Here is a rule of thumb: the first reason for an internship is to gain a hands-on, real-world application of what you study in college, and to get an experience of what your everyday life will look like on the job. So, to make the best of this opportunity you must learn as much as you can from your colleagues and your assigned tasks.

There are two kinds of people in every company: the high achievers and the lagers.

Find out who the stars are and understudy them. Learn how they approach their jobs, how they dress, communicate, relate to others, and so on. Find out what makes them shining stars. Success leaves crumbs and if you show a genuine interest, you will learn one or two vital lessons.

It might not always be easy to make a connection, so you need to be smart. A gift often opens many doors, buy something like a cup of coffee for him or her (be the person is the coffee type though) or bake them their favorite cookie. If that doesn’t work, find out what they are working on and see how you can be the “Mike Ross” to their “Harvey Spectre”.

  1. Be indispensable but be professional

If there’s anything I can guarantee that EVERY boss dislikes, it’s having to do the work you should do. The fear of “turning assistance to resistance” is the major reason many interns are not given responsibilities beyond minor errands.

So, your job is being that intern that goes above and beyond in executing tasks. Take initiatives, volunteer when the need arises, and don’t leave at the end work of every work day until your boss tells you to leave.

Depending on the company you work with, make time to connect with people in other departments as well. However, do not take more deliverables than you can finish on time. Learn to manage your expectations because you might not always get credit for your work or ideas. Above all, don’t be sloppy – present yourself in the best light.

  1. Network but keep your eyes open

Relationships are the currency of the future. No matter how good you are, if no one can vouch for your competencies, you do not exist. Your internship gives you the opportunity to connect with your workforce field. These are people who can point you in the right direction or serve as mentors as you progress in your career journey.

Nevertheless, don’t be carried away with networking and making connections that you forget your priority – your job.

More so, there is a fine line between networking and flirting. The latter is dangerous for your career. It’s easy to create a reputation for things that are not interesting so be sure to know when the conversation is changing tones.

Finally, leverage platforms like LinkedIn to keep your connections together. If you want to go a step further, create a MailChimp account and add your contacts to a list. Think of it as your personal brand’s mailing list.

  1. Seek Feedback

Here’s another thing most interns do not know: no one expects you to know everything about the job or company. Consequently, one of the smartest things you can do is to seek for and respond to feedback. Ask for help or clarifications because asking is a sign of maturity. Many interns have made terrible blunders because they were afraid or proud to ask. Don’t let that be you!

Here’s the right way to ask for feedback:

  • Listen: Don’t be in a hurry to explain or excuse yourself, listen to understand the speaker’s point of view. In the end, the reason for feedback is to make improvement so listen to understand not to have a ready answer/argument.
  • Ask for clarifications: If the feedback is surprising, ask for clarifications. Perceptions are often deceiving so be sure to understand what is required.
  • Observe: Observing your co-workers and being more self-conscious could also be a fantastic way of seeking feedback. Observe the reactions of the people you engage with and adjust yourself so. Furthermore, instead of always looking to your boss or supervisor for feedback, consider asking your colleagues. They are the ones that interact with you the most and will often give you some of the most insightful feedback.
  • Act: Acting on the feedback ensures the loop is kept and helps you improve. In a situation where the feedback is difficult, take time to adjust and then go back to the speaker with your questions. In any case, be sure to express gratitude for the feedback no matter what it sounds like.
  1. Show gratitude

The ‘attitude of gratitude’ is an asset; it’s the rub for making lasting impressions. When you finish your internship, show appreciation for the opportunity given you. If you do it right, you would have shifted the odds in your favor towards a full-time job.

Make efforts to share specific skills you learned on the job and thank everyone that helped you in the process. You could also add an individualized touch by sending separate notes to each person that assisted you instead of a general thank-you letter.

However, a thank-you letter is not a tool for ranting or sharing your frustrations. If you have recommendations you wish to make, express your views politely. More so, make sure that every information you share is correct. Equally important, don’t ask for a job bluntly. Instead, you could ask for is a LinkedIn recommendation.

Finally, include your contact details and any other useful information. If you wrote a blog post about your experience (this is a great marketing tool for the company), add a click-through link to the post in your note.

Internships are great investments in your future. Nevertheless, to make the most returns on investments, you must 1) have a clear and precise goal for the opportunity, 2) learn vital job skills, 3) go above and beyond in executing your tasks, 4) create lasting connections, 5) seek for and respond to feedback, and 6) show appreciation for the opportunity.


Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Concerning the ability to study, there’s an old saying that if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book.

Hilarious, right?!

Well…even though that statement might not be entirely true, I think that many of us struggle with studying – especially in this age of social media, automation, and twerk videos.

But as any successful entrepreneur or corporate executive will tell you, reading is of vital importance. The reason is that reading makes your mind receptive to fresh thoughts and ideas, it refines and nuances your thinking process.

If you want to learn how to change your study habits and consume more quality contents, this article has incredibly useful tips that can change your life!

So, let’s walk through the process, shall we?

How to Study Effectively: Simple Tricks You Should Know

  1. Find a pattern that works for you

In 2012, while studying for my B.Sc., I listened to a certain lecturer tell an interesting story of his personal experiences as a student.

When you’re a freshman still figuring out what the courses were and so on, those are the kind of stories that get your attention the most. Frankly, his story was quite fascinating because what he told us was at cross purposes with what a lot of us believed was the secret to getting good grades in college.

He would read for a brief period at night and in the daytime, he said, he would simply coast along with everyone else. To his classmates, he was just another lousy student until the day his name came out as the best graduating student!

The story made an impact on me and I decided to figure out how to navigate the system as well.  I realized that attending classes was my best bet in keeping track of things. Hence, I made conscious efforts to take notes at each lecture. The rest is history because I graduated with a First while building a start-up.

The moral of the story?

Find out what works for you and follow it. Some people are never satisfied until they’ve read the textbooks 5x cover-to-cover. If that is you, maybe you can structure your reading period to be more than your class participation to the extent that the rules allow.

Illustration by Alex Green

  1. Create a schedule and stick to it

Having a reading schedule is very vital.

Create your schedule in such a way that you don’t start reading when you’re already tired. Also, your reading session doesn’t have to be a long period. You can create a break session in-between the schedule so that your brain gets refreshed.

Most people have this idea that until you’ve read for a very long time, you cannot digest much information. On the contrary, experts have discovered that reading for a long time in a stretch does not necessarily add to your learning.

The attention span of an average reader is about 25 minutes, and any reading activity longer than that is a waste. So, let’s say you have like most students do, a timetable that says you need to study for one hour every weekday. It’s advisable to create short breaks after every 25 – 30 minutes instead of sitting on the desk for one-hour staring at open pages without assimilating anything.

Furthermore, creating a study schedule helps you maintain consistency with your learning. The more consistent you make your reading reschedule, the more habitual and less of a struggle it becomes.

  1. Create an environment that works for you, not against you

How many times have you found yourself in this type of situation:

You promise yourself that tonight, you are going to read like never!

You have everything ready; the phone is on silent, school bag is off the way, and armed with three different colors of highlighters, you sit on one edge of the bed and open your textbook with a serious reading posture.

Ten minutes later, you catch yourself nodding. You step off, watch your face, get back and reposition yourself with a new game face on.

Five minutes later, your bed starts whispering into your ear again, “Jaaanne come sleep on meeeee.”

Begrudgingly, you promise yourself that things will be different tomorrow. So, you put all the stuff away and you doze off.

A familiar experience, right?

Sure, many of us have been there at one point.

Your environment plays a key role in how fruitful your reading time becomes. A bed is primarily for resting and not for reading. If your bedroom is the same as your reading room, make sure your reading table is placed in such a way that you can sit with your back towards your bed. That way, you’re able to concentrate on the task at hand.

Create an environment that helps you focus – turn off the TV, put your phone on silent mode and turn down the volume of your stereo. You can’t be humming to a song on the radio and expect to concentrate on your reading, it’s never going to happen!

Some people have also found that placing motivational quotes at strategic positions in the reading section helps them commit to their schedule. Ultimately, your role is to create conditions that help you make the most of the session.

  1. Engage in participatory learning

Many of us learn by rote – we just memorize facts without understanding the concepts behind them. It’s what students call “shew and pour”. i.e You memorize things to reproduce the same during exams.

People that study like that are usually bored out of their minds when they sit down to read. Reading can be more than a session for memorizing things.

Robert Chambers, a British academic and development practitioner, described Participatory Learning as an adaptive learning strategy that enables people to learn, work and act together in a co-operative and democratic way.

This is where ideas like discussion classes and study groups originate from – to create an environment where people can collaboratively immerse themselves in the subjects they are learning. The process of participation fosters mutual learning and knowledge sharing. The warning, however, is that you make sure there is mutual respect among group members and that meeting is organized strategically to avoid growing weary of each other.

Facts Vs Concepts

A fact is something known to be true, a piece of information while a concept is “an abstract idea generalized from particular instances or evidence, so involves an inductive process or thought.” Facts are things we memorized while concepts are things we understood.

The reason many people often forget what they read is that they didn’t understand it, they only memorized it. The moment you understand it, it becomes a present-hour knowledge. So, focus on understanding the concept of the subject, and then build your own argument around it.

The reading comprehension formula

During World War II, droves of army people were sent to colleges and universities to attend intensive training in skills relevant to winning the war.  Professor of Psychology, Francis Pleasant Robinson, headed the Learning and Study Skills program at Ohio State University (OSU), and based on his research, he devised the “SQ3R method” and other techniques to help military personnel to learn specialized skills in as little time as possible. In his commentary, ahead of Veteran’s Day in 2002, Thomas G. Sticht called it “The reading formula that helped win World War II”.

How does it work?

SQ3R stands for:

S: Survey (the book/a chapter to get an overview)

Q: Question (ask one or more questions for each section in a chapter)

R: Read (and mentally answer the questions)

R: Recite (recall the answers to a section’s questions from your memory and write them down)

R: Review (a complete chapter, by answering the chapter’s questions from your memory)

Ask help from your Professor

Another participatory learning method is to get help from your lecturer. Asking for help/clarifications from your teacher is always a smart thing to do – it shows that you’re interested in the subject and helps you learn what you missed.

Teach what you learned

Finally, be quick to teach what you’ve learned. They say that if you can’t teach it, you haven’t learned it. So, find the opportunity to share your knowledge even if you don’t have all the answers yet. If you can’t find anyone to teach, consider starting a blog. You will realize that the more you teach, the more you learn. As James Clear has remarked, successful people start before they feel ready. The same is the case for teaching. And if you choose to start a blog, you will also be building a valuable audience, credibility and resource center.

Conclusion

I wish I could tell you that if you picked a few of the key elements above, you will completely overhaul your learning experience. But the reality is, you won’t.

It’s a complete package kind of thing, and you need to work on all the tips in the article. Surely, acting on some is better than acting on none, but the goal is to make the best of your study time and make learning enjoyable.

What other tips do you have for studying effectively? Drop them in comments.


Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Image Credits: iam Se7en, Rebeccamoch, Alex Green

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