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Author: Mathurah Ravigulan

How to build an all-star LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a great place to start building your personal brand. It’s an online network where you can make connections, gain access to opportunities, and research career paths! But the only way you can use LinkedIn to its fullest potential is to build a great profile! Here are some tips on how to create a great LinkedIn Profile:

HEADSHOT: Make sure your profile has a professional headshot. It’s a given fact the recruiters will most likely view your profile if it has a picture. Don’t use selfies and remember to smile!

HEADLINE: Along with your headshot, your headline is one of the first things people see. You can use your headline to tell people what you’re interested in or what you’re doing now. For example: “Aspiring Engineer,” “Business | Marketing | Operations,” or “Leading Communications and Digital Marketing Strategies.”

SUMMARY: Your summary is your chance to tell your story. It’s also known as your elevator pitch. Make sure to include:
1. Who you are (education and experience)
2. What you have done (skills and achievements)
3. Where you want to go next
4. Your career goals

To stay consistent with your personal brand, it’s recommended to have a professional email such as firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

EDUCATION: Where do you go to school? Be sure to include your extra-curricular activities, additional courses or other programs.

EXPERIENCE: Add all relevant experience to your profile! This will show recruiters what skills you already have and will also give them an insight of what types of jobs you are interested in. Think outside the box –What experiences are part of your professional brand?

RECOMMENDATIONS: Back up what you highlighted in your profile with endorsements and recommendations! Add at least 5 skills, and if you endorse other people, they will most likely endorse you back. This also gives you extra credibility. Ask your managers, teachers, mentors, and classmates to write you a recommendation to strengthen your profile.

LinkedIn is a great way to maintain contact with people and stay in touch. You never know where your network will take you! The best way to meet people is through the people you already know. Send invitations to your friends, teachers, mentors, family members, organization leaders. Always send a personalized note so they know who you are and why you want to connect with them.

Lastly, keep your profile up to date! Similar to Facebook and Instagram, you can post updates on LinkedIn too. You can showcase what you have been doing professionally, share articles and communicate with your network. There’s also a mobile app you can download so you can check LinkedIn on the go!

Photo Credits: TopResume

Roz McLean and her secrets to success

Roz McLean is an Associate at Burgundy Asset Management and was the talented speaker at our GEMinar Three. GEM interviewed her to find out her secrets to success. Here she talks about her motivations, time-management skills, and passions

-Did you always know that you wanted to work in finance when you were in high school?
-I knew that I was interested in business and economics. The difference between what I do now and what I thought it was going to be like is that the field of business and economics has a lot inside of it. People stereotype that in finance it’s just about crunching a bunch of numbers. At Burgundy, we all work in finance, theoretically. However, there are lots of different jobs you can do here. You can be in relationship management, marketing, IT, or the systems and technology department that works on finding the latest innovations and helping us achieve our goals in technology. There’s a lot more diversity in finance that I think people expect.

-At GEMinar Three, you talked about time-management to achieve our goals. How do you spend your time, balancing work and your personal lifestyle?
-Time-management came home for me when I first started studying for my CFA exam because I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I wanted to do.
I had to stop doing certain things –like spend a less time with social media and with friends. It was hard not going out for dinner with my friends on Friday or Saturday night, but I got through it.
I’m most productive in the morning, so first thing when I get to the office I focus on all the thinking work I need to do, all the decisions I have to make, and all the strategy. I usually work out in the morning because my head’s clear, and I can get all that done. Then in the afternoon, I do more mechanical “I just need to get it done” tasks. I also make sure that I go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Typically, during the week, I go to bed pretty early. You feel more refreshed when you sleep for the same amount of time every night. And I spend Sunday reading. So any reading I want to do during the week, rather than letting it take up my day, I just do it on Sunday morning.
Another part of it is a little bit of multi-tasking. I stopped running as much, and I started working out on the bike, and if I’m working out on a stationary bike at the gym, I can read at the same time as biking. So I’m working out and reading the news at the same time, which normally would take up two different chunks of time.

-How can you work smarter?
-Learning to work smarter is important in order to maximize your hours. One important part of this, and I don’t want to suggest anyone to be lazy, is you have to know when to take a break to keep your mind fresh. Let’s say I’m studying for my CFA exam, or I’m working on one project. I’m not productive if I have been working on it for more than seven hours. It would be more productive if I did it for less time, but focused on maximizing the good time. You need to know when to stand up and go for a walk. You need to know when to grab a healthy snack. You need to know when you need to take a break. And make sure you take them. It’s also important not to be distracted; I always make sure to use my phone less frequently.

-How was your university experience? How do you make the most of it?
-Western is such a great school. There are lots of interesting programs. Student life is really good. There is a lot of diversity, and there are a lot of very interesting people. No matter what program you’re in, consider these two important tips. Don’t overwhelm yourself by joining too many clubs. Join a few clubs that you really want to engage with. Make sure that the club is a good fit, with a mission that matches your values, and is filled with committed people. It’s best to work with people you like and are working towards a common goal. Secondly, make the most of your professors. Go to their offices and pick their brains. My economics professor was the thesis advisor for the guy who now works as the governor of the Bank of Canada, and I’m receiving a similar education!

-How do you motivate yourself to finish tedious tasks?
-My biggest motivator is the people around me. I’ve been really fortunate at work, because I think that I’m inspired at least once a day. When I see people around me do really cool things, I try to see how the tasks I need to do fit into the bigger picture. I imagine how those small tasks will achieve the bigger goals of the firm. So when I’m working on an entire communication, I ask myself: how does that contribute to our bigger corporate goal of treating our clients really well? You have to connect all the tiny things you have to do with the bigger things. Why do I have to do my homework right now? Well, if I do my homework, I’ll achieve high marks and get into the program of my choice. Connect it back to the bigger picture! Essentially, think of your short-term goals/tasks as baby steps to achieving your long-term goal. It also helps to have inspiring people around you. If you want to connect it to the bigger task, but you also see someone else working towards a goal in a different way, it helps.

How to Give and Receive Feedback

Feedback is necessary to grow, improve and reach your potential. Whether it be a second opinion on your English essay or a perspective on your company’s outreach event, being open to receiving feedback, listening to perspectives, building self-awareness and acting upon suggestions is essential for your personal development.

Here are some recommendations from the talented professionals at PwC on how to give and receive feedback to set yourself up for success:

  1. Ask for feedback. Asking someone like your employer for feedback demonstrates that you have a commitment to your growth.
  1. Watch emotions. When giving feedback to others, it’s always best to sandwich and interchange your positive and negative responses. Watch how you feel, listen carefully and make an action plan to set yourself up for success.
  1. Ask questions to clarify. Be curious, open-minded, and ask questions to clarify. Turn this year’s weaknesses into next year’s strengths. Asking questions to clarify can provide you more insight on what you can improve and further information on the person’s perspectives.
  1. Expand the conversation. Expanding the conversation can turn critiques into constructive feedback. A good way to give constructive feedback is to suggest ideas that can help opposed to stating their setbacks.
  1. Reach out to networks. Hearing different perspectives can help you establish common themes in your performance.
  1. Say thank you! Show appreciation to the person who has given you feedback.
  1. Engage. If you’re giving feedback to someone else, ask to follow up with them on their progress to show that you really care!

How to communicate effectively and build networks

Communication plays a key role in everyday interactions. Imagine you find yourself in a situation where you meet an executive of a company you want to learn more about, a job recruiter, or someone who has a career in the field you are wishing to pursue.

In all these scenarios, building an effective connection and networking with these individuals could greatly impact your life, open a door to new opportunities, and even get you a step closer to your professional goals.

Creating a personal pitch is the first step to build an effective connection. A personal pitch is a short speech that sums up who you are, what you do, what are your strengths and skills, and why you would be a perfect candidate. Your pitch should radiate your personal brand, have a distinctive style, and be unique.

How to develop a personal pitch?

  • What is the scenario? + What is your ask? Before talking to the person right away, take a moment to think about who you are talking to, and what information you are hoping to gain.
  • Explain what you do. This helps you introduce yourself and allow others to get to know you better. This information includes: what school you go to, the extracurricular activities you are involved with and any hobbies. Don’t forget to ask your conversation partners about themselves, as that shows you are engaged in the conversation and it will give you clues as to how they might be able to help you.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your Unique Selling Proposition incorporates your skills, the things that make unique, and relates to your personal brand. Think what words your friends and teachers would use to describe you. Make sure to relate this to the scenario you’re in; for example, if you’re looking for a social media internship at a company, stating that you play the ukulele wouldn’t really relate to it unless you elaborate on how that experience will help you with the job. Remember to keep your pitches concise and straight to the point so it can help you gain more information on how to take the next step to what you want.
  • Motivation: Think about why you are reaching out to that individual and what you want to obtain. Keeping your goals in mind will help you stay on topic and help you gain what you want in the end of the conversation.

 Now that you have your personal pitch, how can you communicate it effectively? Be consistent in the way you write, look and feel, interact, and speak. You don’t want to confuse the person you are talking to, so the easiest way to be consistent is to be yourself and have fun!

Gail Gramham, a member of Girls E-Mentorship (GEM), mentioned that “remembering names are great for networking.” Remembering someone’s name shows that you have interest in the person, have respect for them, and it can also make a difference on how someone feels about you and your brand.

When you are speaking, remember to embrace simplicity. Reinforcing common themes and showing that you are passionate about things you are saying will eliminate the need for technical jargon.

Finally, be mindful of the impact you make on the person rather than what you say, as people will remember how you made them feel. Starting the conversation with a handshake, a smile and introduction, and ending it by thanking them for their time would help you build a good connection.

A girl and her mentor talking about personal branding strategy

Tips to develop a successful personal branding strategy

Everyone has goals, ambitions and unique things about their personalities that make us who we are. Sometimes people forget how important personal branding is, and this GEMinar helped us realize that. The first step to developing a successful personal branding strategy is to know yourself, your strengths, your values, and your mission.

Superpowers: Knowing your strengths, skills, and special abilities are essential to developing your personal brand. To determine what they are, just think about what your friends, teachers, and people around you would say are your greatest strengths. This is a great way to market yourself to potential employers. Interviewers always ask what skills you have that would contribute to the job, and now you have an answer!

Values: Establishing your values is important because they help you grow and develop. What are the things that you live by? Values are important because they help you prioritize what matters the most. If something goes against your values, why do it?

Personal Mission Statement: Your mission statement gives you a sense of purpose, and it defines who you are. It combines your superpowers, your values, and your goals. It may be hard to fit all this in one sentence, but it forces you to think deeper and identify what is important to you.

After doing these three steps, you can now create a plan for what you want to accomplish this year. Think about how to apply your personal brand in your everyday life, for example, if one of your values is kindness, how would you show kindness today? Be true to your personal brand to stay on your path to success!