Ask a Coach

Q: I get so nervous before interviews. Is there anything I can do to calm myself down?

A: For starters, know you're not the only one who gets nervous before interviews. Even those who feel confident interviewing get nervous beforehand. If you're getting so nervous you feel like you can't concentrate, here's an exercise to help center yourself.

First, pay attention to your surroundings. Find a steady sound, like your own breathing or a heating unit that's on. With your eyes open or closed, focus your mind on listening to that sound for a minute or two. Since you're nervous and have a lot on your mind, you might find some thoughts about the interview pop into your head. That's ok. Acknowledge you're having a thought, but don't dwell on it. Set the thought aside for now and go back to listening to the steady sound. Do this for a minute or two and you'll find your mind is now focused on what's presently going on around you and not on your interview. Do this as often as needed before your interview and you'll feel calmer.

Utilizing LinkedIn for Your Job Search

Did you know you could land your next job based on your LinkedIn profile? Over the past several years, the world of job hunting has dramatically changed because of social networking. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site and is a great place to connect with colleagues and to network and share information and advice with others in your industry.

Profile Strength

How strong is your LinkedIn profile? A powerful profile can increase your visibility online. It's important to have as much of your profile completed as possible, because it helps with your personal branding. You may not know that when your profile is 100% complete, you will get a higher search ranking. One which is 85% complete is also acceptable, but anything less than that and you have some work to do.

Your LinkedIn profile is key to your online success, because potential partners, clients, recruiters, and employers use LinkedIn as one of their first stops to assess you. Recruiters are known for searching through LinkedIn to fill positions because it's an amazing resource, and it's free. Below are some tips on how to create a strong LinkedIn profile.

Summary

This should be a concise version of your employment history and specialties. It's perfect for people to get an overview of your skills before having to scroll down to view your detailed experience.

Make Sure You Have a Professional Profile Picture

Don't confuse other social media with LinkedIn by making the mistake of using a picture from your vacation, wedding or family Christmas card. You should have a professional picture of yourself posted and informal pictures don't count as professional.

Keep Your Profile Professional and Focused

Personal information should not be put on LinkedIn for professional and safety reasons. Keep your personal opinions, beliefs, and politics off the profile.

Don't Connect With Everyone That Reaches Out to You

Try to keep your connections relevant to your profession and don't reach out to connect with everyone. Having 50 relevant connections is better than having 500 on LinkedIn; it's not about the quantity of connections, but the quality of the connections.

Don't Join 100 Groups

Definitely join groups, but if you are going to join them, be active in them and limit yourself to no more than 20. And again, be careful which groups you do join because people will judge you by your group affiliations.

Be Professional and Polite

When someone invites you to connect, take the time to look at their profile and, whether you accept or decline, always send them a follow up message immediately, thanking them for reaching out and letting them know that it is your pleasure to connect or why you turned down their invitation. It's a nice touch and shows class.

The LinkedIn social network has become an incredible resource for building your professional identity online, no matter where you are in your career. It's quick, easy, and free to create an account and worth the time to set up. LinkedIn is something you have to commit time to maintain, but it's worth it.