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What Makes for a Good Profile Picture

What Makes for a Good Profile Picture

Social media today, is a crucial part of the world of work. It would not be far-fetched to stress on the inter-dependency of these two realms. It is true that a potential employer can decide whether or not to give you a chance for that much awaited interview simply by going through your social media profiles. Also, as a candidate, one would be extremely naive to think that potential employers don’t do a background check, of which your social media profiles play a big, big role.

When we speak about social media profiles, what is the first thing that stands out? Your profile picture. Your profile picture speaks volumes about you on social media. Why? Because that little image is what you chose out of the several, hundreds of photographs you may have of yourself, as your identity on the given platform. A picture speaks more than a thousand words. Therefore, it is true that your profile picture is the very first impression you cast on your employer.

So what makes for a good profile picture? Here are a few things that will help you.

  1. The resolution of the photograph

    The first, most basic requirement for a good photograph is that it should be clear and visible. Not grainy and pixelated. Ensure that the photograph you choose to use has your face visible in it. Ensure that the photograph has been taken in proper light, and is not a cropped out version of another photograph. Cropping a photograph renders it grainy and pixelated, in most cases. The idea behind a profile picture is that the person looking at it should know how you look, and not have to imagine a ‘version’ of you based on what is visible in the picture. The first most important quality of a good profile picture is that it should be high-resolution, or at least clear.

  2. You in the photograph

    The second most important thing about a good profile picture – how you come across in the picture, or what you seem to be doing. It’s very difficult to get this wrong, but strangely enough there are examples we have seen which compel us to include this pointer as a part of the post. Remember that regardless of which social media platform you are choosing a profile picture for, they are all fodder for recruiters or potential recruiters. Which means, irrespective of whether or not the said social media platform is a ‘professional’ one, it is highly recommended that you choose a professionally appealing photograph. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be a corporate head shot, take care that it isn’t at least a photograph of you playing beer pong.

  3. A selfie never works

    Yes, no matter how good it is. A selfie comes across as unprofessional. Let’s not be lazy and get a decent photograph!

  4. It needs to be a recent photograph

    It is probably not a good idea to have a photograph from years ago as your profile picture, in which you look absolutely nothing like you do presently. If in doubt, show the photograph to colleagues or friends. You know that it won’t work if you get a response akin to “no way, that can’t be you!” The whole point of having a profile picture is to be visible, be found. So make sure you look like who you look like, for real!

  5. Not inappropriate and not boring

    Now that is a real challenge. While you certainly don’t want to have a party picture on, you also don’t want to appear boring. It is a good idea to try and find a photograph which reflects your field of work in some way. Once again, if you are unsure about whether or not the chosen photograph would work, run it by a trusted friend or colleague.

    Ending this post with a re-affirmation of why it matters so much to invest time in choosing the right profile picture.

Employers spend an average of 6 seconds looking at a LinkedIn profile and 19% of that time is spent looking at the user’s profile picture. Research suggests that it only takes 1/10 of a second for someone to form an impression about you. So make sure it’s a good one! Source.

The Company Research you Need to do Before your Interview

The Company Research you Need to do Before your Interview

So finally you have managed to score that big interview, and are looking forward to cracking it. Apart from all the preparation that you have already put in (LinkedIn Profile – check, other social media – check, a stellar resume – check, great communication skills – check, and everything else!), you also need to be thorough in your company research, or research about the company you are interviewing for. Imagine this scenario – you are interviewing for HP and if they ask you what HP stands for, you should be able to say it without batting an eyelid! Usually, in the larger scheme of things, we miss these details.

That however, isn’t quite acceptable since you are expected to know these things. So what should a thorough company research entail? Read on to find out!

Company Research Tip #1: The Company’s Mission and Vision

One of the most common interview questions that you are almost certain to be asked in any interview is – “why should we hire you?” Well of course for your skills, and everything else that your stellar resume says about you, but how do you put it in a way so that you are sure score? Keep what the mission, vision and values are, of the company in mind while answering this question. Tell them how you think your skills and capabilities are a reflection of what the company’s vision is, and compatible with its mission.

Read up all you can about the company’s mission and vision on its website, and on the various social media pages of the company. While you might have a vague idea, that probably will not suffice to help you come off confident during the interview. Doing this research will also help you do an honest assessment of whether you see yourself as a good fit for the company. And also whether the company is a good fit for you! That is probably the most important factor.

Every workplace has a set of values that are important to them. Google looks for “ability and determination,” Zappos values “fun and a little weirdness,” and GE fosters “bringing ideas to life.All are great things to value but quite different. When you’re considering different companies, think about their values and how your personality might fit in.” [Source: Levo.Com]

Company Research Tip #2: The Culture of the Company

It is simply not uncommon to be denied a job for no other reason apart from this – “You don’t seem to be a good fit for the culture of our organization.” And by no means can it be brushed away as a trivial reason. The culture of any company is about all those elements working in sync to sustain it. When you join it, you will be one of those elements. Do substantial research about this and keep asking yourself about how you “feel” about it. The culture of the company will have a direct influence on how you will be made to perceive your job.

Think about whether you would find it as an enabling experience, or whether it is something that would be difficult for you to ease into. Break it down into matching the approach you have towards work, and the approach that the culture of this new company would have. Is it compatible? Having this clarified before you appear for the interview will help you articulate yourself better, and will also put you in a good place where you have enough knowledge for informed negotiations – always a good place to be in.

Company Research Tip #3: What does the news say about it?

Just Google the company you are interviewing with and read up everything that it has been in news for. Remember that will very obviously be assumed that you are interested about the company (hint: you have made it to the interview!), which means you are expected to know the current affairs about the company. Even if you may not be quizzed about it, the knowledge will help you sustain or strike conversations.

Also check the company’s website for the recent news they might have made. Nothing can be more embarrassing than answering a question like, “So are your views on what the reason we were in news for, last week?” with a puzzled expression. Besides, you might also have a few questions of your own. Read up all you can about the company, and its latest news.

Company Research Tip #4: The Financial Health of the Company

While this may be a bit time-consuming, wrapping your head around it can be immensely valuable – for you personally, and for the company. The annual reports of all companies are usually made public on their website – which will help you more or less get an idea about the financial status of a company.

While this may be harder for older and settled organisations, it is comparatively easier in case it is a start-up you are interviewing for. In which case, it is all the more important for you to be thorough about your knowledge regarding the investments and the potential financial health of the start-up, so you have a fair idea about the benefits and risks you may expect from the company. The fact that you have done this homework should reflect in how you speak (but not in an incriminating, or questioning way at all!) during the interview and you will succeed in impressing your interviewer.

Company Research Tip#5: Feedback from ex/ current employees

It is a good idea to do a bit of (undercover) background research about the company’s culture, ethics and values through its current and even ex-employees. What they have to say might actually play the role of a heads up about your days to come at the company. If you have any friends there, talk to them, or do a bit of research to see if you can find someone who can put you in touch with someone. While doing this though, you might have to be careful. It is a good idea to get feedback from both a current, as well as an ex-employee.

Make a list of questions that you would want to ask beforehand, and keep them handy so you don’t miss out on any. Ask them how fair the HR policy is, what is the leave system like, how their work life balance is, and what their trajectory of growth has been like in the years that they’ve worked there. If it is an ex-employee you are speaking to, ask about why they left. While this information can be very useful, do remember to take it all with a pinch of salt. You can also use platforms such as Glassdoor to check out what the employees of a particular company have to say about it.

6. Company Research Tip#6: A sense of the overall trajectory – past and future

Analyze the growth of the company and get a sense of the overall trajectory of the company since its inception. Once again, this ground work helps not only you in getting a fairly good sense of what you are getting into, it will also impress the interviewer big time. This is important for two reasons, the first being your own knowledge about the company.

The second being, an inkling about how you may expect to grow in the few years you plan on spending there. This you may also bring up during the interview, and speak about how the company is growing and what the next big steps look like. Every company looks for people who are genuinely interested in what they do, and those are the people who get the most opportunities. If you are already one of them, all you need is a bit of preparation for that confidence to shine through.

It is also a good thing to be informed thoroughly about the different departments of the company (even those that may not directly be related to your profile or role). If you know who is going to be interviewing you, chances are, he/she knows a lot more about you than you would probably assume. Maybe you should do your own research on the interviewer as well – you never know how it may come in handy. And once you’ve done all of this, breathe easy because you really couldn’t be better equipped!

8 Simple Steps to Nailing that Volunteering Interview

8 Simple Steps to Nailing that Volunteering Interview

Today, volunteering is no longer seen as a burden or a waste of time. It is a stepping stone that can help shape career prospects and make one stand out in the crowd. As a result, there is a fierce competition amongst students to find the perfect volunteering opportunity and nail the interview. While a volunteering interview might be slightly different from a job interview, it isn’t any less important.

If you have been called in for an interview that you were hoping for, but are apprehensive regarding your chances of selection and don’t know what to do, then please, don’t panic. We have put together a set of pointers that will help you get prepared and ace the volunteering interview.

 PREPAREDNESS IS THE KEY

Consistent preparation for any interview is essential as it speaks volumes about your professionalism and also reflects your enthusiasm for the volunteering opportunity. There are a number of ways in which you can prepare before the big day arrives!

a) Do your research

Before you go for any interview, it is extremely important to find out as much as you can about the organization, the position, and the person/people who will be interviewing you. Understanding the organization’s mission and history, goals and sense of style can not only help you in determining the sorts of questions that will be asked, but can also help you decide whether it’s the right place for you. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to give intelligent answers. Knowing your interviewer’s name and some details will allow you to strike up a conversation, which often leads to the interviewer forming a more positive impression.

b) Make a list of your skills

Another important part of preparation is to make a list of your skills, certifications, abilities, experiences, and professional or personal qualities that are critical to the position. Review your list, and the volunteering requirements, prior to the interview so that you are fully prepared to share with the interviewer your qualifications. It is important you look through your list before hand, as taking long pauses to recollect information during the interview will not help set a good impression.

c) Practise with a mock volunteering interview

This is perhaps most important step that should not be missed. Take advantage of your research and go through a mock interview with a friend/colleague. It is helpful to review potential interview questions so that you are confident during the interviews. In addition, the more prepared you are, the better equipped you’ll be for interview success.

d) Work on your resume

It is safe to say that your CV is the single most important thing in the recruitment process. Make sure it has all that your interviewer needs to know about you and not a word extra. Be direct and prepare your resume in such a way that your qualifications, skills and achievements are searchable and stand out. Add links to your work portfolios, online profiles or blogs so that there is an additional outside reference for your skills.

2) DRESS THE PART

Believe it or not appropriate clothing does make a big difference! The right outfit can help make a great first impression.

This brings us to very important question, what’s the appropriate dress code for an interview? The dress code may vary, depending on the formality of the workplace or the job. However, it is important to pick out an outfit that makes you look professional and feel confident, as well as something that matches the ambience of the organization.

3) GET THERE ON TIME

Trust us when we say this, nothing looks worse than arriving late to an interview! It would be more prudent if you arrive a few minutes early so that you can settle down and be ready for your turn. However, do not come in too early for the interview, as you will put yourself and the recruiter into stress, because he/she might have other working duties before your interview.

In order to be punctual, make sure you know where the interview venue is and how long it will take you to get there. Map out the directions on Google maps beforehand if necessary. If despite all the precautionary measures you are not able to make it on time due to an unforeseeable crisis, make sure you call the recruiter and inform him/her beforehand.

4) MUTE OR TURN YOUR PHONE OFF BEFORE YOU ENTER THE INTERVIEW ROOM

This is something that is easily forgotten but is very crucial! During an interview if your phone starts to ring, it can be annoying and distracting for both, the interviewer and yourself. So remember to mute it or turn it off.

5) FOCUS ON YOUR BODY LANGUAGE

Be conscious (but not overly), of your body language. As you walk into the interview room, smile warmly , firmly shake hands, and say something pleasant. Remember to make eye contact and don’t gesticulate a lot. During the interview, maintain a good posture and appear relaxed. Lastly, try not to cross your arms or legs in front of your body and do not put your hands in front of your mouth.

6) CRACK THE QUESTIONS

All your preparations up till now, boil down to this stage. This is your chance to shine!

Every volunteering interview has a different tone as no two volunteering opportunities are the same. Opportunities differ because of the work, time period, the people you’d be working under and more. However, there are some common questions that are asked across all volunteering interviews. The idea behind such questions is to asses your intent, skills, level of experience and whether you would be a right fit or not. Some of these are:

a) Why have you applied for a volunteering position?
b) What do you hope to seek out of this?
c) Why do you think we should select you?
d) What are your strengths and weaknesses?
e) Describe a time when you overcame a challenge, whether in school or college.

As we have already discussed, practising the answers to these commonly asked questions is one way for acing the interview. But, in order to sail smoothly until the very end you must keep some more pointers in mind. These are as follows :

i) Be Yourself

At an interview, you’ll likely feel nervous and want to perform your best. It’s a scary situation, no doubt about it. But try to remember that you don’t need to put on an act to get this opportunity, you just need to be yourself. Focus on remaining calm and listening closely to the conversation as it unfolds.

ii) Listen closely and pay attention

One of the worst things you could do in an interview is have to ask an interviewer to repeat their question because of your inattentiveness. Don’t disqualify yourself by letting your mind wander. Most interviews won’t take more than 15 minutes, and certainly never longer than an hour or so. Focus on the conversation at hand and respond actively.

iii) Think before you speak

When you’re asked a question, you don’t need to have an immediate answer. In fact, it can be a turn off for an interviewer to feel as if you’ve given no thought whatsoever to a complicated question. Slow down and think about it. Pause and say, “That’s a great question, let me think of an answer.”

iv) Be structured and precise

When giving your answers, try to get the substance of things and keep a certain chronology. Do not jump from one subject to another and try to add too many things – your answers will appear chaotic. Furthermore, even though you have practised the art of answering the questions before hand, don’t try to recite them like a speech on the day of the interview; let your answers unfurl smoothly.

v) Speak about real life experiences

You’ve researched the organization and you’ve read the volunteer’s description. So during the interview, try to match your stories and experiences to what they are looking for. Give a detailed explanation on how you have solved problems and overcome obstacles in the past. But once again, make sure you’re listening to them and answering their real questions, and not just trying to run the interview yourself.

vi) Be honest

If you don’t know an answer, be honest about it, there is no shame. No good interviewer expects you to know absolutely everything. But at the same time express your interest in understanding and learning more or add a good question related to what they just asked.

7) ASK YOUR OWN QUESTIONS

Interviewers often ask if you have any questions during or after the interview, which throw off a lot of first-time interviewees. It is important to bring in your own set of questions as it shows you are engaged in the conversation. Some questions that can be useful during an interview are:

a) How do you like working here?
b) Who will I be working with most closely?
c) Could you provide me with the project details that I will be working on?

8) FOLLOW UP

As the interview comes to an end, it is time to bid adieu to your interviewer with a smile and thank him/ her for taking out the time. The very next day, send across a thank you letter and enquire about the course of events to follow.

Having gone through our fair share of interviews we understand how edgy and anxious you must feel. But it would help if you try to keep an enthusiastic and positive attitude, from the time you start preparing for an interview till it’s time to say goodbye. This will help you remain cheerful and optimistic and sure enough your interviewer will feel the positive vibes too. We hope this blog helps you to crack that interview and you come out of the room smiling!

ERROR #404: File Not Found! – Importance of Organizing your Documents

ERROR #404: File Not Found! – Importance of Organizing your Documents

Organizing your documents could seem tedious at first. Until you realize the benefits it has. What is the one common thing about everything that our modern day lives revolve around; be it seeking rental accommodation, admissions into university, or applying for jobs? It is the several documents that form the proof of our legal and social existence. While they are important for almost everything else, they are especially important during your recruitment process. The process of recruitment is inevitably slowed down because of the time prospective employees usually take to produce the required documents. This time can be very easily conserved, and hence help speed up the process of recruitment, and also the efficiency of the same. What are the documents that you need to keep handy? And what are the ways which will help you access them whenever you need to, no matter where you are? Here are three simple and comprehensive steps to help you get this right.

Step 1 of Organizing Your Documents: The Must Haves

The documents that you would absolutely need to keep handy are:
1. Your birth certificate
2. Your Permanent Account Number (PAN) Card (India) and Tax Returns
3. Your Voters ID/Aadhar Card (India)
4. Your Bank details (Passbook/Cheque book/Account Statements)
5. Your current Identity card (student/employee)
6. Your 10th, 12th, and College/Degree mark sheets AND pass certificates
7. Your Passport
8. Proof of Residence – Electricity bill/ rental agreement.
9. Certificates or letters to support anything you may have mentioned on your recent resume (internships, previous work experience, volunteering experiences, competitions/contests)
10. A bunch of passport and stamp sized photographs

Step 2 of Organizing Your Documents: Print and Scan

It is not advisable to keep originals of most of these documents with you. It is much safer to have them kept at your permanent residence, or any other place of safety. As a viable alternative, scans and copies of these documents are widely accepted. Scan each of these documents to always have a soft copy with you. Apart from scanning them, make photocopies (preferably color where required) of the same to keep ready when required.

Step 3 of Organizing Your Documents: Access

The most important part of doing this exercise to make you have access to any or all of the above documents whenever and wherever you may need them. Keep the hard copies in a separate folder after labeling it appropriately. Apart from ensuring you have access to the tangible copies, make sure soft copies of all these documents are accessible to you virtually. The best way to go about it is to store it in multiple places. Make a folder on desktop, copy them onto your pen drive and your hard drive, upload them on to your Google drive and also email them to yourself. That way, you have access to them in every possible scenario.

You might think, you don’t even need to go through the effort of organizing your documents right away. Even if you cannot foresee a situation which will require you to access these documents in the near future, it is advisable to do this exercise nonetheless. In fact, the best time to do it is when there is no pressure. This helps you organize in an even better way. We’ve tried our best to make this list as comprehensive as possible. What is something you would add to this list, to make it even more comprehensive? Comment below!
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Cracking Campus Placements – 5 Tips to Help You Get Prepared

Cracking Campus Placements – 5 Tips to Help You Get Prepared

Almost every Indian graduate knows how big a deal the campus recruitment process is. There is no reason why it should be such a big deal. Unfortunately, the social systems around us do not concur with this thought. Every fresher feels like this is it, this is the end of the world – but it isn’t, it is just the beginning. And if you begin well, you will finish well. To help you with your placement preparation, we have put together some time-tested strategies. Here are five tips that could help ease the process for you.

  1. Work on your resume

Spend enough time polishing your CV. It is safe to say that your CV is the single most important thing in the recruitment process. Make sure it has all that your employer needs to know about you and not a word extra. Creating a CV can indeed seem a daunting task if you’ve never done it before, so we encourage you to have a look at our guide on how to create the perfect resume, which will give you a fair sense of everything that there is to know about resumes.

  1. Be organized in your approach –

Maintain a notebook where you keep a list of the organizations you are applying to, the deadlines for the applications and the specific requirements these applications may have. Update it every single day. Sync your calendar on your phone so that you get reminders for all important dates and don’t miss any. Keep your print outs of your resume, passport sized photographs and any other document which may be required, ready in multiple copies. Do all this well in advance so that you are saved the stress and worry in the last minute.

  1. Identify your area of interest

Spend time thinking about what it is that you are passionate about. Find something that you would love to wake up to. Different people have different skills and interests, what works for me, may not work for you. It is important to be able to identify what exactly it is that you would love to do, otherwise you might have to spend a considerable time dreading Mondays, and the next three days of the week!

  1. Brush up your communication skills –

The campus placements process will typically involve rounds of Personal Interviews as well as Group Discussions. How you communicate and speak can be game changers in these rounds. Being able to articulate yourself eloquently is a rare skill and a skill worth acquiring which sets you apart from most. This is something that you absolutely must spend some time working on. Have a look at a post we wrote some time ago, on ways to brush up your communication skills. We hope this helps you.

  1. Cooperate with the campus placement department –

This is probably one of the most important factors. Cooperating with the department which is organizing the placements at your university will make the entire process much smoother for you. Keep communicating with them so that you don’t miss any important deadlines. Send them your resumes and other documents they may want on time so that they will be able to schedule your interviews. Remember this is a team that is working for a lot of other students just like you, and that it is not an easy job. Do your bit to help them.

The last, but really the most important thing is to remember to not get stressed or worked up. We understand that it is easier said than done, but remember that it is not the end of the world. The world really ends only once. When it actually ends. Anything else before that is simply a false alarm. Don’t give in to stress and tension, you will be doing yourself more harm than good.

Everyone you meet will have a ton of advice for you, listen to them politely, but understand that the decision is ultimately yours to make. Take breaks to recharge yourself, you don’t want to be running out of steam in the middle of the campus placements race.

We understand that cracking campus placements to get a good first job can be a deciding factor for your career graph ahead and acknowledge that it is important to be able to do your best. But when you know you are doing your best, give yourself a pat on your back and stay calm. Things will surely work out. Be patient and keep going in the direction that your heart pulls you (but listen to your head at times too!)