Thursday, July 22, 2010

Five Mistakes Online Job Hunters Make

In a tight job market, building and maintaining an online presence is critical to networking and job hunting. Done right, it can be an important tool for present and future networking and useful for potential employers trying to get a sense of who you are, your talents and your experience. Done wrong, it can easily take you out of the running for most positions.
Here are five mistakes online job hunters make:
Office: want Otso's job?Image by wili_hybrid via Flickr

1. Forgetting manners.
If you use Twitter or you write a blog, you should assume that hiring managers and recruiters will read your updates and your posts. A December 2009 study by Microsoft Corp. found that 79% of hiring managers and job recruiters review online information about job applicants before making a hiring decision. Of those, 70% said that they have rejected candidates based on information that they found online. Top reasons listed? Concerns about lifestyle, inappropriate comments, and unsuitable photos and videos.
"Everything is indexed and able to be searched," says Miriam Salpeter, an Atlanta-based job search and social media coach. "Even Facebook, which many people consider a more private network, can easily become a trap for job seekers who post things they would not want a prospective boss to see."

Don't be lulled into thinking your privacy settings are foolproof. "All it takes is one person sharing information you might not want shared, forwarding a post, or otherwise breaching a trust for the illusion of privacy in a closed network to be eliminated," says Ms. Salpeter, who recommends not posting anything illegal (even if it's a joke), criticism of a boss, coworker or client, information about an interviewer, or anything sexual or discriminatory. "Assume your future boss is reading everything you share online," she says.
2. Overkill.
Blanketing social media networks with half-done profiles accomplishes nothing except to annoy the exact people you want to impress: prospective employees trying to find out more about on you.
One online profile done well is far more effective than several unpolished and incomplete ones, says Sree Sreenivasan, dean of students at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He made the decision early on to limit himself to three social-networking sites: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. "There is just not enough time," he says. "Pick two or three, then cultivate a presence there."

Many people make the mistake of joining LinkedIn and other social media sites and then just letting their profiles sit publicly unfinished, says Krista Canfield, a LinkedIn spokesperson. "Just signing up for an account simply isn't enough," she says. "At a bare minimum, make sure you're connected to at least 35 people and make sure your profile is 100 percent complete. Members with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn."
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the three most popular social networking sites for human resources managers to use for recruiting, according to a survey released last month by JobVite, a maker of recruiting software.
3. Not getting the word out.
When accounting firm Dixon Hughes recently had an opening for a business development executive, Emily Bennington, the company's director of marketing and development, posted a link to the opportunity on her Facebook page. "I immediately got private emails from a host of people in my network, none of whom I knew were in the market for a new job," she says. " I understand that there are privacy concerns when it comes to job hunting, but if no one knows you're looking, that's a problem, too."
Changing this can be as simple as updating your status on LinkedIn and other social networking sites to let people know that you are open to new positions. If you're currently employed and don't want your boss to find out that you're looking, you'll need to be more subtle. One way to do this is to give prospective employers a sense of how you might fit in, says Dan Schawbel, author of "Me 2.0" and founder of Millennial Branding. "I recommend a positioning, or personal brand statement, that depicts who you are, what you do, and what audience you serve, so that people get a feeling for how you can benefit their company."
4. Quantity over quality.
Choose connections wisely; only add people you actually know or with whom you've done business. Whether it's on LinkedIn, Facebook or any other networking site, "it's much more of a quality game than a quantity game," says Ms. Canfield. A recruiter may choose to contact one of your connections to ask about you; make sure that person is someone you know and trust.
And there's really no excuse for sending an automated, generic introduction, says Ms. Canfield. "Taking the extra five to 10 seconds to write a line or two about how you know the other person and why'd you'd like to connect to them can make the difference between them accepting or declining your connection request," she says. "It also doesn't hurt to mention that you're more than willing to help them or introduce them to other people in your network."
5. Online exclusivity.
Early last year, Washington's Tacoma Public Utilities posted a water meter reader position on its website. The response? More than 1,600 people applied for the $17.76 an hour position.
With the larger number of people currently unemployed (and under-employed), many employers are being inundated with huge numbers of applications for any positions they post. In order to limit the applicant pool, some have stopped posting positions on their websites and job boards, says Tim Schoonover, chairman of career consulting firm OI Partners.
Scouring the Web for a position and doing nothing else is rarely the best way to go. "When job-seekers choose to search for jobs exclusively online– rather than also include in-person networking–they may be missing out on 'hidden' opportunities," says Mr. Schoonover. "Higher-level jobs are not posted as often as lower-level jobs online. In-person networking may be needed to uncover these higher-level positions, which may be filled by executive recruiters."

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Monday, July 12, 2010

A foreign guide to the UK

Bad teeth, bad food, football hooligans – that's the press the Britain gets in other countries. It’s also a nation where those types are often imagined to be living harmoniously alongside distinguished, posh middle-class men in top hats and women with parasols.
The White Cliffs of Dover from a ferryImage via Wikipedia

But stereotypes aside, what information is really being fed back to our foreign friends about us Brits? We scoured the travel guides to see how we're really perceived by the rest of the world.
The people
"Calmness in the face of adversity, a laconic sense of humour, a sense of decency and fair play, and mastery of understatement are all fundamental facets of the British character – at least, as seen by the British themselves. Ask the French and you might get a rather different list of attributes that includes stand-offishness, anti-intellectualism, public drunkenness and being crap at cooking." - Lonely Planet, Great Britain, 8th Edition
Bit harsh. We're not that bad at cooking. Thanks to our calmness in the face of adversity and laconic sense of humour we can laugh that kind of misconception off. Not that there aren't ways to make us cry...
"The nostalgic English – especially after a few pints – can get downright weepy about their White Cliffs of Dover." - Frommer's England 2010, published in the US
Those white cliffs - get you every time don't they?

'The White Cliffs of Dover'Image via Wikipedia

The culture
"The British are famously addicted to forming orderly queues, be it for buses, train tickets, or to pay at the supermarket. The order is sacrosanct and woe betide any foreigner who gets this wrong. Few things are more calculated to spark an outburst of tutting – about as publicly cross as most Brits get – than 'pushing in' at a queue." - Lonely Planet, Great Britain, 8th Edition
Yep, queuing – we love it. Can't get enough of it. Unless it's getting dangerously close to 4pm and it's not looking like we're going to be back in time to boil the kettle...
"From the lowliest 'caff' (cafeteria) in the working-class districts of Birmingham to the Queen's posh Buckingham Palace suite, class tradition melts at four o'clock every afternoon as the nation pauses to partake of its most beloved ritual: Afternoon Tea." - Frommer's England 2010, published in the USA
Although not 100% factually accurate there are worse descriptions of collective England out there:
"England is a nation of overweight, binge-drinking reality TV addicts" - Rough Guide to England, 8th Edition – published in over 200 countries
Alright, Rough Guide, don't hold back.
The places
"Liverpool and Manchester are as depressing places as you're likely to find anywhere... whilst the locals can be entertaining on a good day, the weather is shit, heroin is epidemic (but meth is catching on) and you've got a better chance of thugs putting you in hospital for no apparent reason than in any other part of England – and that's saying something." - US website Road Junky Travel
Calm down, calm down. That's one way to look at two of our most happening, cosmopolitan cities. But what is the international conception of England's capital?
"When a yobbo in a car - radio on full-blast, mobile glued to the ear, indicator controls untouched - nearly runs you over at a pedestrian crossing and you protest, he dissolves into road rage as only Londoners know it." - Lonely Planet, London
Enough said.
The food
"Brits love a big hearty feed of bangers and mash, fish and chips with mushy peas, pork pies or pasties. Curry also rates highly (a popular import from colonial days in India) along with loads of other dishes reflecting Britain’s multicultural population. With all that good food going around, it’s hardly surprising more than 60 per cent of people in the UK are either overweight or obese." –, travel magazine for Australian, New Zealand and South African expats
"With all that food going round?" It’s not like we eat it all at once. At least some guides are beginning to realise that the UK’s culinary habits are changing, and our reputation for bad food is no longer justified...
"If you want to see what Britain is eating today, just drop in at Harvey Nicol’s Fifth Floor, in London’s Knightbridge." – Frommer’s England 2010
Absolutely – it’s where we eat all the time!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

European probe Rosetta successfully flies by asteroid: ESA

The European spacecraft Rosetta performed a fly-by of a massive asteroid on Saturday, the European Space Agency said, taking images that could one day help Earth defend itself from destruction.  

Racing through the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter at 47,800 kph (29,925 mph), the billion-euro (1.25-billion-dollar) probe flew within 3,200 kms (2,000 miles) of the huge potato-shaped rock, Lutetia.
"The fly-by has been a spectacular success with Rosetta performing fautlessly," ESA said in a statement.
"Just 24 hours ago, Lutetia was a distant stranger. Now, thanks to Rosetta, it has become a close friend," the agency added.

Holger Sierks of Germany's Max Planck Institute, who is in charge of the spacecraft's Osiris (Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System) camera said the more than 400 "phantastic images" showed many craters and details.
"Rosetta opened up a new world which will keep scientists busy for years," he added.
"We have completed the fly-by phase," Rosetta's director of operations Andrea Accomazzo said earlier on the ESA's website from the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
The aim of the fly-by of the asteroid, measuring 134 kms (83.75 miles) in diameter, is to measure Lutetia's mass and then calculate its density, knowledge which could one day be a lifesaver, according to ESA scientists.
If a rogue asteroid enters on a collision course with Earth, knowing its density will help the planet's defenders to determine whether they should try to deflect the rock or, instead, blow it up.
As Rosetta is around half a million kilometres from Earth, the probe's signal and images took 25 minutes to be received.
Once widely dismissed as bland lumps of debris left over from the building of the planets, asteroids have turned out to be intriguingly individual.
They are extremely different in shape and size, from just hundreds of metres (yards) across to behemoths of 100 kms (60 miles) or more, and also vary in mineral flavours.
Most measurements suggest Lutetia is a "C" type of asteroid, meaning that it contains primitive compounds of carbon. But others indicate it could be an "M" type, meaning that it holds metals.
New data proving this could rewrite the theory about asteroid classification.
Metallic asteroids are far smaller than Lutetia: they are deemed to be fragments of far larger rocks that, in the bump and grind of the asteroid belt, were smashed apart.
The fly-by comes halfway through the extraordinary voyage of Rosetta, launched in 2004 on a 12-year, 7.1-billion-kilometre (4.4-billion-mile) mission.
One of the biggest gambles in the history of space exploration, the unmanned explorer is designed to meet up in 2014 with Comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko 675 million kms (422 million miles) from home.
The goal is to unlock the secrets of these lonely wanderers of the cosmos, whose origins date back to the dawn of the Solar System, some 4.5 billion years ago, before planets existed.
To get to its distant meeting point, Rosetta has had to play planetary billiards for five years, using four "gravitational assists" from Earth and Mars as slingshots to build up speed.

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10 ways to tell you're ready for a baby

Every time you switch on the television you see nappy adverts, everyone you know seems to be revealing they are pregnant, but how do you know whether you are ready to be a parent? The answer is it's such a big life-changing event that the no-one is really prepared for what it entails, but there are some tell-tale signs to suggest that you are willing to swap your high heels for comfy flats, short skirts for elasticated waists and are willing to sacrifice the spareroom for a nursery…

1. You and your man have discussed buying a kitten

Or a dog/rabbit/Guinea pig or all of the above! You obviously have the urge to nurture, feed, cuddle and have some level of responsibility and you are obviously prepared to part with some cash for pet food/vet bills. Is your need for a pet actually hiding your need for a baby? Are you seeing how your partner deals with a pet first before you announce you want a baby, or, are you testing him to see how much poo he ends up scooping up in the park, or keeping note of the early morning dog walks he offers to do? If you find yourself talking about your pet incessantly, dressing it up, cancelling nights out or rushing home to give your pet a cuddle, it is safe to say you are ready for a baby!

2. You prefer a night in to a night out

Yep, it happens to the best of us, the thought of donning our glad rags and going out on the town is far less appealing than settling down on the sofa with an M&S ten-pound meal deal and Desperate Housewives on the TV. Essentially your lifestyle is ready for a baby.

3. You dream of babies

If you have dreams of yourself walking along with a babe in arms, or holding a toddler's hands, it's fair to say that you're ready for a baby. Even if your conscious mind is screaming NO, NO BABIES, your sub-conscious mind is already in a baby store loading up the trolley.

4. You stop and admire other people's babies

If you find other peoples snotty, whingy babies cute then you are definitely ready for a baby. If you talk naturally to children and volunteer for babysitting your friend's children it's time for you to embrace the fact that you are more than ready for your own.

5. Your spare room looks empty and sad

Isn't it time you started shopping for butterfly wallpaper or train bedcovers? Doesn't your spareroom deserve to be more than just a room you pile the clean washing into before you (groan) get around to ironing it?

6. You've already chosen your babies' names

And told all your friends so that they don't steal your favourite names… Even without gurgle's babynamer for help - you're ready!

7. You've been around the world and had exotic holidays

Once babies arrive you'll be swapping those long haul flights for family campsites in rain drenched Devon, so if you've had lots of foreign holidays already or you've taken a 'year out' to travel, you'll be less likely to resent the fact that having children means you have to cap the luxury!

8. You've already cut down on alcohol/caffeine/smoking

Since these are two things that you must either cut out on or cut down on, it's going to be great help to you if you already reduce your consumption of them or if it wouldn't bother you to not have them everyday. If you think it would bother you, talk to your GP who can give you the right advice about cutting down or stopping.

9. You've both 'talked' about having babies

If you've had the 'talk' and it didn't end in him declaring he never wants babies and you in floods of tears, but felt more like a joint decision to have babies soon, then you are both probably ready. Making the decision to try for a baby is always going to be scary - but the good news is, once you do fall pregnant, you've got a whole nine months to prepare yourself, your partner, your mum, your spareroom… for the arrival of your little one!

You've sneaked into a baby store and 'pretended' you're buying a present for someone…

…But really you're imagining what you'd buy if you had a little baby to dress up and care for. If you found yourself nodding to at least five of the answers above, it's pretty certain that you are ready for a baby.


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Sunday, July 4, 2010

How to deal with sunburn

Spent too much time in the sun? Some tips on treating and preventing sunburn

Lets face it, sunburn is never a good look. The news that almost 3,000 people at Glastonbury this year needed to be treated for sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke - despite all the warnings - shows how we Brits have still not learned how to live with the sun.
What causes it?

If your skin gets too much sun, it will burn. It's the ultraviolet (UV) rays present in sunlight which do all the damage to your skin.

Although both UVA and UVB rays can penetrate the skin, UVB rays affect the top layers of the skin leading to redness, pain and swelling. UVA rays cause the skin to lose its elasticity, leading to premature ageing and leathery skin.

Both types of radiation can cause damage to cellular DNA, which is why being sunburnt also increases your risk of skin cancer.
How to treat it

If you have sunburn, the first thing to do is get out of the sun. There is no quick cure for sunburn, but there are things you
Keep the skin cool

Sunburnt skin is usually red, sore and feels warm when you touch it. You can cool your skin by applying a towel soaked in cool - not cold - water to the sunburnt skin. Or, have a cool shower or bath.
Keep the skin moist

Use a moisturising lotion to keep the skin moist. Aftersun lotions can also help the skin to feel cooler and Calamine lotion can help to soothe any itchiness.
Leave blisters alone

If the skin has blistered, don't burst them. If you do this, you increase the risk of developing an infection.
Drink plenty of fluids

Drink lots of cold drinks to replace water lost through sweating. Avoid all alcoholic drinks; they will cause you to dehydrate even more.
For the pain

Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken by adults for pain and swelling.
When to see a doctor

If a large portion of your body has been burnt and blistered, you should get it checked out by your GP. This is also true if the sunburn doesn't improve within a few days or you have severe pain or a fever.
Prevention; don't let it happen again

Sunburn can be prevented. To be safe in the sun:

* Avoid the sun when it is the most intense, between 11am and 3pm
* Wear a broad rimmed hat and a t-shirt to cover your shoulders
* Wear sunglasses which block both UVA and UVB sunlight
* Use a broad-based sunscreen which protects against both UVA and UVB sunlight, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more

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