NEW DECADE, NEW YOU

We all find it hard to keep career related resolutions, especially when we don’t see progress as quickly as we’d like. But this is a new decade and with it, comes a chance to approach things differently. If you’re looking to make changes in your career or want to reassess your professional development we’ve got some ideas that might get you feeling like the twenties is going to be your decade. 

1. MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

Writing down or saying your goals out loud can really help you make your goals happen. But a study by psychologist professor Dr Gail Matthews showed that you’re 70 per cent more likely to keep goals which you tell to someone else and update them on.  

Instead of telling a friend or a peer, you might like to try seeking out someone whose career you admire or someone in a later career stage. There are graduates in all kinds of careers, fields and roles on FromSalford.com who have said they’re willing to help. Reaching out to someone you admire and who you can check in with is a great way to make yourself accountable and kick you into action. And the real positive is, they’re likely to have suggestions on how to improve your chances of reaching your goals, provide new connections or just help you see things in a different light.

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2. CREATE A SUPPORT SYSTEM

Creating a support system you can confide in and rely on has long been advocated by mental health professionals for its importance in improving quality of life. But not everyone considers whether they have one that helps them really develop and build their confidence as they grow in their career.

Have a think about your current network and consider those you can turn to with your challenges and goals this year, whether that’s a project at work you’re struggling with or questioning your next career step.  Although you might have a great support system in place currently, you might feel like there’s still an opportunity to expand it and through it, gain new insight and possibilities.

If you are looking to expand your support network but have no idea where to start, remember there’s a whole host of Salford graduates out there from your course and working in your industry. Why not consider setting up a group on From Salford for your course area or work field and inviting likeminded people to join? What have you got to lose? It’s an opportunity to meet some new people and you might even find someone who can provide some much-needed advice. The old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ has stuck around for a reason.

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3. KEEP AN OPEN MIND

Success comes in many forms, but we can be blinkered when it comes to our own career development, believing there’s only one avenue to progress down. But as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg famously said, your career should be a ‘jungle gym, not a ladder’. We live in a fast-paced world where the job market is constantly evolving and those who are willing to take the route less travelled are those that are seeing the gains.

If you’re willing to consider a different track to the one you’re on but have no idea where to start, take a look at alumni profiles on FromSalford.com for inspiration. You’ll see many people who have done a similar course to you who haven’t taken a direct route in their career. And if you’re interested in finding out more and they’ve flagged that they’re willing to help, try contacting them to enquire how they made changes in their career and asking if they have any advice.

For that extra level support and guidance, remember you have access to the Careers and Employability services for life and can always use their resources or get in touch.

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4. BE PATIENT

Whether it’s securing that perfect role or working out what you want to do, it’s natural to feel frustrated if it’s not happening overnight. But sadly, unlike the Hollywood films, we can’t movie montage our way to success in a couple of minutes (shame). It’s important to remember to break your goals down into small achievable steps and celebrate the wins you do have. You would have never expected to complete your degree in a few months, so be kind to yourself and keep going! And remember to take time for yourself to enjoy other hobbies and activities, personal development can take lots of forms.

If you’ve got some tips and tricks that help you achieve your new year’s resolutions, please share them on FromSalford.com with other graduates. You might just help someone see things from a different perspective.

5 TIPS FOR PERSONAL BRANDING

James Bentham graduated from Salford in 2010 with a BSc in Geography. He is now Head of Account Management at Search Laboratory. In this blog post James shares his top five lessons in personal branding based on his experience in digital marketing, and how you can utilise fromsalford.com to support you along the way.

Like digital marketing, personal branding is all about perception and optimisation. It’s about recognising your strengths, focusing your energy in to them and sharing all the fantastic work that you do. As Head of Account Management at Search Laboratory, my work includes developing the agency’s strategic SEO offering and pitching to prospective clients to tell them about our services. Along the way, I’ve learnt a lot about the most effective way to sell yourself to a business. Whether pitching for a client or looking for a job, it requires the application of the same five lessons I’ve learnt during my time in digital marketing.

  1. Know your market

If you’re a graduate looking for a job, or mid-career and looking for a new challenge, then do your research. Revising a potential employer or client doesn’t mean just knowing the person who’s interviewing you, it means knowing the role and the work that’s been done before. It means knowing how similar roles in other organisations operate. Are there real, actionable solutions to specific challenges in an interview? If you’re a freelancer looking to sell your skills, then conduct your own market research – what is working in the industry and what can you learn from it?

You can do a great deal of research on fromsalford.com, the online hub for Salford graduates to connect with each other, find out who is working in your industry and who can give you a helping hand.

2. Be confident and know your skills

Nine times out of ten you won’t meet the job description point by point, but that means that it’s likely none of other candidates will either. What you can do is sell all the other things that you’re great at. Don’t be put off by intimidating job requirements – employers will appreciate a graduate who is enthusiastic and confident. If you’re a whizz at excel, tell them how you could help improve processes within the team. If you’re a dab hand with photoshop tell them how you can advise on design best practice. No matter what the role, the more knowledge and enthusiasm you have about the industry the better a prospect you’ll become.

3. Share your success

While it may not be relevant for all industries, a website is a great way of sharing everything you’ve done. There’s only so much you can fit on a CV, so a website is a great place to house your achievements, displaying your work experience in case prospective employers or clients want to find out more about you. Fill it with examples of your work, client testimonials and employer comments. Remember though, that this platform may be the first impression an employer gets of you, so keep it professional, i.e. if you’re not a coding champion then use one of the many web hosting platforms out there (e.g. WordPress and Squarespace) to help build your site.

If a website isn’t relevant, then keep your LinkedIn up to date and full of your achievements. Don’t just share your basic responsibilities, give examples of specific pieces of work, including how they contributed towards the success of a campaign or business. Prompt colleagues and employers to recommend and comment on the strengths in your profile. You can also link your LinkedIn profile to your fromsalford.com profile so you don’t need to input everything twice.

4. Educate and Innovate

In the digital marketing industry, there are always new innovations and tools to help us do our job and to drive better results. Part of our roles as experts is to keep up to date with all the industry trends and insights, but it’s also to offer new ideas and solutions to problems that exist within our industry. Treat your own role in the same way. If you’re dedicated to working in a particular job, then recognise that there can always be improvements to make to it. Be on the lookout for issues, and try to identify tools, methods and innovations you can make to improve these processes. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but ultimately any way you can save a business time or money, or help improve results for a client, they’re going to appreciate it.

Why not start a blog on your website, commenting on industry news or your favourite examples of other professionals’ work? Not only will it add to the discourse and help educate others, but it will inspire your own work and give you the motivation to keep on top of news in your industry. You can even share your work or relevant articles on fromsalford.com to start the conversation with your fellow alumni.

5. Create your own ‘tone of voice’

Having a clear and distinct voice is one of the most important parts of any successful digital marketing strategy. You need a differentiator, something that sets you apart from the competition. Competitor analysis will give you an idea of what’s already working, but to be an industry leader you need a creative vision to drive your business forward. That means a defined tone of voice that determines how you speak, plus how you use graphics and imagery. Many of the businesses we work with create extensive tone of voice and brand guidelines documents to help guide large teams and external agencies like ourselves. Thankfully, you don’t have that problem just yet, but you can take inspiration from this consistent approach to your personal brand.

If you work in the creative industries, the best way to do this is to treat yourself as your very own client. Design a logo for yourself and create business cards, letterheads and web assets for your website so everywhere people look, they see consistent messaging. If you don’t quite have the creative nous, keep it simple, and make use of easily available templates online for your documents.

We all want to be in our perfect job as quickly as possible, but in an increasingly competitive job market, personal branding is vital. While we might not all have the marketing budget of a multinational corporation, by taking some inspiration from the way brands market themselves online, you can position your personal brand as a real contender. Don’t forget to use fromsalford.com as a vital resource for you to broaden your brand and connect with your fellow alumni online. You just never know who may be waiting for you.

FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY – HOW TO APPROACH ALUMNI FOR CAREER ADVICE AND HELP

If you’ve joined fromsalford.com then you now have access to alumni living all over the world who are offering their support, advice and help. Great! But maybe you’re thinking OK, what now? How on earth do you make a start with choosing which alumni can help you? Or how do you start the conversation? We’ve spoken to Salford alumni and gathered some top tips and advice that will help you to network like a pro in no time.  

When you’re thinking about approaching someone on the platform, here are some helpful hints and tips on how to find the right alumnus and how you can start a conversation. 

IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS

Before you dive into searching and messaging alumni, take the time to write down what you want to achieve from your networking; are you looking for a long term mentor? Advice on a specific problem? And would you like the opportunity to meet face to face?   

Working out what you want to accomplish will help you narrow down which alumni will support you in the best way and the message you want to send them. It may even be that different alumni will fit different needs – perhaps a local alumnus can offer the opportunity to get some practical experience whilst a contact abroad can provide you with advice and guidance on what comes next. There’s no limit on thenumber of alumni you can contact so as your career progresses, you’re bound to find different alumni who can help you develop.  

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NARROW DOWN YOUR SEARCH

Once you’ve got your goals written down, make sure you use the Directory search options to help you narrow down your search to find the right alumni. For example, if you’re looking for a local alumnus for work experience, remember to narrow down your search by location. Or, if you’re using the platform to find out the kinds of careers you could consider with your degree, you could narrow down by course name to see what your predecessors have gone on to do. Try a few different search options too, it might be that the perfect mentor doesn’t appear on your first try! 

KEEP YOUR MIND OPEN

If you can’t find any alumni that match exactly what you’re looking for, then don’t give up, use it as an exciting opportunity to think outside the box. After all, a lot of careers aren’t linear! For example, someone in a creative sector might be brilliant at helping you perfect your application writing style or edit your CV to perfection, even if you’re working in the finance sector.  

MAKING CONTACT

Ok, now for the intimidating bit; sending your chosen alumnus a message. Keep your first message friendly and clear, if you and the alumnus in question get on well, you’ll have plenty of time to ask them everything you need to so start by introducing yourself and explain why you’ve got in touch with them specifically – what was it that made you want to reach out to them? It’s always flattering to hear you’ve been specially selected!  

Thinking of contacting a few alumni? Resist writing a blanket message and copying and pasting across, it’s usually obvious and imagine how you’d feel if you received one – would it make you want to reply?  

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WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?

Approaching strangers on From Salford can be daunting, just ask yourself; what’s the worst that can happen? Every new conversation will help you grow but if you never try you’ll never know. If you’ve not had a response, it could just be that an alumnus hasn’t spotted the message or simply hasn’t got time to help at this time. There are thousands of alumni out there and if you keep your options open, you’re bound to find connections that suit your needs!  

If you need any more help, remember you have access to the Careers Team at the University who will be able to offer you further advice and guidance when it comes to networking.  

If its technical difficulties you’re facing, remember you can submit a ticket at any time using the left hand bar on fromsalford.com.  

INTRODUCING FROM SALFORD, YOUR ALUMNI NETWORKING HUB

Your new alumni networking hub is here. From Salford enables you to truly make the most of being a member of the Salford alumni community.

The online hub is easy to use and designed to help you approach the right people for your needs, allowing you to continue your personal and professional development; benefit from advice; and support others in a way that suits you. From Salford is different to other social networks because it is exclusively for graduates from the University of Salford. Our friendly global alumni community of thousands of graduates is now available to you, giving you access to career professionals based all over the world.

Here are six ways to get the best out of From Salford:

  1. NETWORK EXCLUSIVELY WITH SALFORD GRADUATES

The idea of networking can be daunting even for the most confident and experienced individual. But with From Salford you’re in safe hands. An advantage of From Salford is that users can make it clear on their profile that they’re happy to help and support fellow graduates. This means you can be absolutely clear about the level of support you’re willing to provide and there are no unrealistic expectations.

The networking is done online through direct messaging on the platform, so you can connect anywhere, whether that’s on the sofa or on your daily commute. You can also rest assured that the people you’re talking to studied at Salford too. They probably lived in the same halls as you, drank in the same pubs and studied in the same library. So, they’re not complete strangers after all.

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  1. FIND A CAREER MENTOR

From Salford has thousands of members, many of whom are in senior positions across all sectors and have indicated they are keen to mentor fellow graduates. You can browse through profiles on the directory and find someone who is working in the field you want to excel in. Just drop them a message and see what happens – you could even meet for a coffee if they are local or keep the mentoring relationship online if not. Many industries are reliant on contacts and who better to coach you through the early stages of your career than someone who has already been where you are.

If you are more established in your career you may feel ready to pass on your wisdom and mentor someone yourself. Simply tick the mentoring box on your profile and this will indicate to others that you are available as a mentor.

  1. CONTINUE YOUR LEARNINGS THROUGH ACCESS TO ONLINE JOURNALS AND E-BOOKS

If you are looking to continue your education with further study, From Salford gives you free access to a range of online resources. We have provided access to Emerald and JSTOR, which host thousands of online journals and e-books.

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  1. FIND YOUR NEXT JOB AND POST JOBS

As a graduate, the University’s careers service is available to you for life, so you can benefit from access to dedicated support as you navigate the job market.

We post jobs regularly on From Salford, ranging from graduate schemes to entry-level roles and senior-level positions in a range of industries. If you are looking for some short-term work, there are plenty of temporary positions available too.

You can also post roles at your organisation, so if you’re looking to fill a position from the Salford talent pool you can post your job on From Salford and our members can apply to work with you.

  1. JOIN A GROUP OF LIKE MINDED ALUMNI IN YOUR AREA

From Salford is all about bringing the alumni community to you, and there is no easier way to connect with people in your area than through an online group. You can discuss the latest local news and developments, share jobs and tips and maybe even meet socially.

Alumni across the world have already set up online groups for their area so take a look at the groups page to see what’s happening in yours. If there isn’t a group for your area you can start your own. You never know who you might meet.

  1. SHARE NEWS OF YOUR EVENT OR REGISTER TO JOIN US AT ONE

At Salford, our alumni community is incredibly important to us and we love to keep in touch by hosting regular events and meetups. Our events range from drinks receptions and guest lectures from inspiring speakers and class reunions. We’re not just limited to Salford either, we also host regular events in London and across the world.

The From Salford events page lets you know exactly what is going on and you can register to attend there and then. You can also promote your own events and encourage your fellow alumni to come along and support you.

Image result for salford alumni eventPut simply, From Salford is the ideal tool for you as you continue to develop in your life and career. There is a wealth of experience, advice and support at your fingertips and it is yours for the taking.

You can register for From Salford at fromsalford.com. Registration is quick and easy, and you can even link it to your LinkedIn or Facebook account, so it only takes a few clicks. Take a look and see who is waiting to connect with you.