Q&A with TopCV’s career expert, Amanda Augustine

I spoke to career expert Amanda Augustine from TopCV about all things job hunting – and being a busy working mum!

What is your full job title and what does your job involve?

I am the resident career advice expert at TopCV, which is the largest CV-writing service in the world. I am also a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) and one of the top resume writers (CPRW). My passion is helping professionals, whatever their age or stage, to improve their career and find the right job sooner by providing practical, tactical job-seeking advice.

What are the common pitfalls that you find many job-seekers are guilty of?

Not monitoring your online brand! You certainly aren’t alone if you don’t – the majority of people in the UK never Google themselves – but you should. While I spend a lot of my time helping people to improve their CVs, this is no longer enough in today’s world. Job seekers should have a well-crafted CV and cover letter as standard, but recruiters will also want to evaluate candidates based on what they find online.

In fact, employment site CV-Library carried out a survey recently and discovered that one-third of recruiters regularly ‘stalk’ candidates online to get a feel for how employable they might be. For this reason, I always advise that people on the hunt for a new job keep a close eye on their ‘online brand’ to make sure it only improves, rather than worsens, their chances of securing their next job. A simple Google is the place to start!

How should you balance your personal and professional image online? Are both important?

Not every online profile or social media account you own needs to be associated with your professional endeavours. However, there needs to be a clear line drawn between the accounts you want employers to find and the ones you want to remain private.

To accomplish this, make a list of every online profile you’ve ever created and then decide which ones you’d like to associate with your professional brand. For the profiles you want employers to find when they Google you, edit them to ensure they’re telling a consistent story about your work history and education. Also, delete any posts that are questionable or do not paint you in a favourable light.

For those personal accounts you want to remain private, increase the security settings so that only your close friends and family can find and access them. You may also consider changing the profile name to a nickname or your first and middle name. That way, employers will not be able to connect them to your candidacy. If in doubt, suspend any social media account where the posts could hinder your search.

Is having no online footprint ever an issue?

Having no online footprint can often be just as damaging as having negative results when it concerns your employability. Employers are no longer satisfied with just a polished, professional-looking CV and cover. Now, they expect candidates to advertise their employability online, on paper and in person. This is especially true if you’re looking for work at an e-commerce company, a start-up or another organisation where social media and mobile technology are at the forefront of what they do. And if you’re pursuing a role in marketing, advertising or social media, you’re expected to demonstrate this savviness with your personal brand.

As a busy working mum yourself, do you have any advice for managing your career and family at the same time?

I don’t think it’s realistic for working mums to ever truly ‘balance’ all the responsibilities that come with managing a household and a successful career. At times, your focus will be disproportionately placed on one part of your life versus another. I created the following four rules to help me manage my career and family with greater confidence:

  • Delegate the rubber balls: Consider each priority in life to be a ball that you’re juggling; some are made of glass, and others are rubber. When you’re juggling too many priorities, chances are that you’ll end up dropping one along the way. Identify which ‘balls’ will bounce back if they are dropped, and consider delegating some of these to others.
  • Ask for help: There is no shame in admitting you can’t do it all. In fact, there’s a lot of power that comes with learning your limits and asking for help. If you find yourself struggling to strike the right balance between work and personal commitments, identify the tasks you can outsource. Do you really need to clean your flat or would you be willing to pay someone else to take that task off your list? Check out services like TaskRabbit to outsource all sorts of activities so you can invest your time in other areas.
  • Find your tribe: There’s comfort in celebrating – and commiserating – with others who understand firsthand what you’re going through. Find a group of fellow work mums who can identify with your struggles and your triumphs. There are a variety of groups available where you can find the support you need and grow your professional network.
  • Forgive yourself: This is something I have to tell myself all the time. Chances are, you are your harshest critic. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The reality is that you can’t be Super Mum and Star Employee all day, every day. There will be good and bad days – and that’s OK. The important thing is that you celebrate the good days and give yourself a pass on the less-than-perfect days. In the end, it’s just spilt milk.
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