Sunday
Jun252017

The future of jobs

LAST week, I wrote about products that will disappear in the near future. But it’s not just gadgets and equipment that technology will render obsolete. Some types of jobs will go the way of the Dodo bird too.

The most obvious vulnerable jobs are those involving manual labour.

For decades already, factories are being automated and this will only gather pace going forward until one day much of the factory floor will be occupied by robots, with only a few human supervisors.

Agriculture is another industry where automation has been having a big impact for decades and with each passing year, more and more farming work is getting done by machines.

The writing’s been on the wall for manufacturing and agriculture for a long time already.

A relatively new development however, is e-commerce.

Initially, people in Malaysia were wary of using their credit cards online but AirAsia (where tickets can only be bought online) and Lazada (our local answer to Amazon) have made online transactions mainstream.

Today, many people love to buy things online. There’s more variety, prices are usually cheaper and delivery is often free. What’s there not to like?

As more and more people shop online, the need for retail workers will naturally diminish. In any event, cashiers can very easily be replaced with machines that handle credit cards and cash. Some eating places in Singapore have already started experimenting with that.

Something even more recent is the auto industry’s focus on self-driving cars.

Practically every major car maker has a self-driving car programme and even non-auto-industry tech companies like Google and Apple have an interest in this.

Self-driving cars are for real and they will populate the streets within a decade or so. Naturally, taxi, bus, truck and even Uber/Grab drivers will be affected as transportation become increasingly autonomous.

You would think something high-touch like teaching would be future proof but think again.

The Internet is a treasure trove of information and it has given rise to a new generation of autodidacts.

There was a time when the only way to specialise in a particular skill was to study under a teacher. Now, with e-learning, you can learn practically anything you want to.

There are numerous websites devoted to self-study but the best are Khan Academy, Lynda.com and Udemy.

Khan Academy is very academic in nature and is designed to help students learn math and science.

Lynda.com is an e-learning pioneer with lots of high-quality technical and business courses. Because its instructors are drawn from the industry, the focus is on practical knowledge rather than academic matters.

The last one, Udemy, has courses that span the whole gamut of topics. Like Lynda.com, it is not very academic either.

Services like these, which will only become more and more prevalent, will eat into the teaching profession.

In recent years, we have seen an increase in home-schooling. Usually these involve tutors or sending the children to tuition centres instead of schools.

One can easily imagine the tutors and tuition centres being replaced by sites like Khan Academy and probably some local start-ups that can offer e-learning modules for the more localised topics like history and civics classes.

Even in Malaysia, we are seeing e-learning taking hold in the corporate sector.

I recently spoke to a friend who is involved in the workshop/training industry.

According to her, business has become more challenging with many corporations turning to the likes of Udemy as a source of e-learning for their staff rather than spending money on workshops.

As you can see, many industries will be affected, and not just blue collar ones. Many types of office work will be eliminated in the future.

Of course, this will be somewhat offset by new types of jobs including many that we probably can’t imagine because the technology has arrived yet.

When I look back at my time at the university, nobody would have known what you meant if you talked about jobs like mobile app developer, social media marketer, big data analyst, augmented reality programmer or drone operator. Today, these are the hottest jobs around.

So it’s not that jobs will go away. They will just change and sometimes in ways that we can’t anticipate.

When it comes to future work, it’s not about survival of the fittest but survival of the most adaptable.

While it’s hard to predict with any kind of accuracy what kinds of jobs will be in demand in the future, there are a few best practices that will help to make your career more future proof.

1. Participate in the sharing economy

AirBnB has made it possible for anyone to offer their homes for daily rent. Previously, if you had property to rent out, there was really only one option, which was a long-term rental agreement with a tenant.

While this generates steady income, the rent is usually fairly low, perhaps enough to cover your monthly loan instalment. To make money from renting out an apartment or house, it’s much better to rent by the day. AirBnB has shown a whole legion of people that this is indeed very viable.

What AirBnB has done for homes could potentially be applied to all sorts of things. Imagine the possibilities.

Imagine applying the same principle with other things you own, like a car.

Tesla, the famous electric carmaker, has plans to let its customers rent out their vehicles to generate extra cash. And in the near future, when driverless cars are working well, you could even become an Uber driver without having to drive yourself. Just put the autonomous car to work on your behalf!

2. Engage in continuous learning

Even with new economy jobs, don’t expect to be able to secure a job for life. Those days are gone.

With the ways things are going, be prepared for a “gig” economy instead, where work is done by freelancers.

To stay relevant, you’ll need to constantly upgrade yourself. That means making full use of e-learning to constantly enhancing existing skills and acquiring new skills.

These days there are more e-learning options but to engage in continuous learning is not an easy thing. There’s an opportunity cost involved.

Most e-learning websites are commercial entities and thus cost money to use (Khan Academy is an exception).

To constantly learn new skills will require regular investment in learning modules.

Learning new things also takes time, which could potentially be used for doing work.

Putting aside time to learn something new literally means giving up an income-earning opportunity. But you must be willing to do that to stay current and relevant to the ever-changing job market.

3. Be entrepreneurially-minded

Even if you are not self-employed and prefer to work under the structure of a company, you will need to be more entrepreneurial.

It’s not enough just to be productive and efficient. You’ll have to be creative too. As the pace of change increases the more nimble, adaptable and innovative a company has to be.

To achieve that, companies will have to harness the collective entrepreneurial brainpower of its staff.

Another thing that workers don’t do so much of is networking.

For entrepreneurs, it’s absolutely crucial. It will be for workers too. Through networking you’ll get to know many people, which could lead to many new business and collaboration opportunities.

To stay relevant, you’ll have to continually burnish your network. Think of networking as an investment in yourself.

Sunday
Jun182017

10 things that will be obsolete in 10 years

IF you watch old movies about the future, you’ll notice that when that future arrives, it looks nothing like what the movie-makers envisioned. Usually, real life technology doesn’t advance as fast as what is imagined.

Everything from Lost In Space and Space: 1999 to 2001: A Space Odyssey, they all over-estimated the progress of technology. Blade Runner got it wrong too. Okay, that one is set in 2019, which is still two years away but I’m sure by that time, we still won’t have “replicants” or robots that are indistinguishable from humans.

What that tells us is that it’s really hard to accurately predict technological advancement in a set period of time. Much easier to predict is technological obsolescence. That’s because many of today’s current products or technologies are already showing signs of rapid wear and tear.

Below are some items you probably won’t be seeing much of anymore within a decade.

1. Car mirrors

Many cars already have reverse cameras incorporated into their dashboard monitors. The technology is already in place for all rear mirrors to be replaced by camera-and-display devices which are superior to the old-fashioned mirrors as they can provide a wider view, including blind spots.

In the US, the government has already announced that manufacturers would be required to include back-up cameras in all new cars by May 2018.

This will make these systems commonplace and then, it’s just a matter of time before all car makers follow Tesla’s stated goal of replacing all side-view mirrors with cameras.

2. Charger cables

Mobile phones, digital music players, wireless headphones, wireless keyboard, tablets — all these things carry rechargeable batteries, resulting in a tangled mix of charger cables cluttering up our workspace.

Wireless charging is already available for mobile phones (certain Samsung models, for example), where all you have to do is lay down your device on a charger pad.

Over time, wireless charging technology will continue to improve. Soon enough, not just phones but all other portable devices are bound to be chargeable over the air and won’t require you resting those devices on anything.

They could be in your pocket, charging away wirelessly in the background. Begone, cumbersome power banks!

3. Remote controls

Remote controls are relics of the past which should go away pretty soon and be replaced by voice-activated interfaces. Such technology already exists although it’s still in its nascent form.

Another option for those who don’t quite fancy using their voices for, say, changing TV channels, is the mobile phone. There’s an app for that (well, there’s an app for everything, it seems).

Whatever the case, it doesn’t make any sense in this day and age to have an additional clunky device like a remote control lying around only to be misplaced.

Voice or mobile interfaces are a better idea. Granted, you might sometimes lose your voice but you’re more likely to lose your phone.

4. Point-and-shoot cameras

People don’t really buy dedicated GPS devices anymore because of Waze and Google Maps that reside on your phone. Very few people see any need for dedicated audio recording devices these days because, as they say, there’s an app for that.

But some people are still buying compact cameras despite the fact that all smartphones have built-in cameras. That’s due to a lingering perception that these compact cameras take better quality shots than phone cameras. That’s a myth though.

Phone camera technology has advanced so much that some of the photos taken on smart phones look just as good as those professionally taken on even DSLR cameras.

Just take a look at the various shot-on-an-iPhone billboard ads around the city. With quality like that, why would you bother with a dedicated camera?

5. Thumb drives and portable hard drives

Computers no longer have floppy disc drives or even DVD drives because nobody stores data on such media anymore.

But people do still use thumb drives and portable hard drives to store or transfer data. These are robust, easy-to-use devices for such purposes.

But with cloud storage solutions becoming commonplace and affordable, there really is no need for physical data storage media devices anymore.

Why bother with gadgets that can get lost or damaged when you can just upload or download your data anywhere there’s Internet access (which is almost everywhere now with mobile Internet).

6. Traditional mass media

Terrestrial TV and radio, print magazines and newspapers — these are all forms of mass media that have seen a steady decline in their audience numbers.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of video-based content anymore; they’ll just reside on platforms like YouTube or Facebook which can host recorded and live video.

Similarly, there’ll still be a lot of radio talk shows but most will be in the form of podcasts, which people can download to listen to or stream on demand. And so it is with magazine and newspapers. Rather than read these in print form, consumers will read articles on web portals and apps on their phones.

Most likely the last form of traditional media to be left standing a decade from now are books.

E-books have taken off in the West but statistics and surveys show that even today many people still have a sentimental attachment to printed books. That’s likely to persist for some time before books too succumb to the progress of technology.

7. Keys and passwords

Some of the more modern and luxurious cars today are already keyless. You just press a Start button. And entry to buildings through locked doors can be achieved by punching in some numbers or through some biometric scan of your eyes or thumbprint.

Physical keys are fast on their way out and certainly will be gone within 10 years.

So will passwords, which might come as a surprise given how ubiquitous they are today.

You use a password to login to any web-related services online, bank websites, social media sites, e-mail accounts, premium website. But that soon may pass.

The downside to passwords is that hackers can sometimes find their way through them.

Again, biometrics such as fingerprints, and voice and facial recognition will be the way to go. Those are much harder to bypass than passwords.

8. Car steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals

Yes, we’re looking at driverless cars, which will become a reality within a decade.

While the early incarnations of self-driving cars will probably still have a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals so that humans can override the self-driving system where necessary, some car makers already have plans for cars with none of these things.

These will truly be autonomous cars that are not designed to be driven by humans.

For sure not all cars will be fully autonomous by 2027 but there will be many cars designed in such a way that all seats are for passengers, with none for the driver.

The vehicle will take you to your destination, much like a train or bus, but you will not able to take control of it, which is probably for the better.

It’s undeniable that it’s human mistakes that cause the bulk of road accidents.

9. Faxes

Is there any doubt that the fax machine is on its last legs? Faxes were useful when you needed to send something that’s a carbon copy of a physical document.

But these days, you can easily scan any document and send them over the Internet. A scanned document is in a fact a better copy of an actual document than a fax. And scans are in colour. So why fax when you can scan?

But what about situations when the recipient requires some kind of signature? Well, you could print out the document, sign it, scan it and then finally, send it.

Admittedly that’s a cumbersome process. Something easier would be a thumbprint scanner app on your mobile phone that can be used in place of a signature. Again, there’s an app for that, I’m sure.

10. Landline phones

Almost everybody has a smart phone these days and those who still don’t would at least have a basic mobile phone than can be used to make phone calls and send text messages.

That’s certainly good enough to replace the traditional landline phones.

It’s quaint to think of a mobile phone that can only be used for talking and texting but even such a device has more functionality that a landline phone, which can only be used for talking.

Few people bother with landline phones these days and within a decade, they should pretty much disappear in most homes though some offices might still want to have them.

Sunday
Jun112017

Get fit in a jiffy

THE usual reason we give for not exercising regularly is that we don’t have enough time given our busy schedules. That may be valid if we’re talking about the traditional notion of exercise like going for a long run but latest findings in sports science will deny us any use of that excuse.

I first came across “high intensity interval training” (HIIT) when I was looking for a quick exercise for my judo students.

Jogging around the neighbourhood took up too much time which could be better spent on training judo techniques. HIIT was the solution.

The concept behind HIIT is that short bursts of very intense exercise will improve your fitness as much as traditionally longer exercises.

What’s so radical about this type of exercises is just how short these bursts are.

If 20 minutes of exercise is too much time for you to set aside for exercise, how about seven minutes? Too much? What about four minutes? Still too much? One minute?

If I’ve got you intrigued, read and on and be amazed at how much you can achieve within a few minutes just three times a week.

The key word for HIIT is “intensity”. Under this regime, you don’t have to exercise for very long at all but you do have to exercise hard. You also don’t have to be very technical about it. For example, you don’t have to use specialised monitoring devices. Just push yourself until you’re breathing hard.

Basically if you have no difficulty talking to someone while doing these exercises, you’re not working hard enough.

There should be a certain level of discomfort when doing these workouts. Thankfully they don’t last very long.

Seven-minute workout

Dubbed the “seven-minute workout”, this is the HIIT programme I use in my judo class. This programme first came to public consciousness four years ago after an article about it was published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal.

In a nutshell, the programme requires you to do a series of 12 exercises that do not require any special gym equipment.

You can do this in the convenience of your living room or office.

Each of the 12 exercises should be done for only 30 seconds but at high intensity. You get to rest for 10 seconds in between each 30-second burst of exercise.

Technically, the total amount of time spent on the exercise is six minutes, with a total of one-minute and 50 seconds of rest time.

If you want to know what the full range of 12 exercises are, just Google the phrase “seven minute HIIT” and you’ll see lots of results.

There are also plenty of YouTube videos and even mobile apps that you can download for free.

The seven-minute workout created quite a splash when it was first revealed and is actually quite a famous form of HIIT.

Four-minute workout

I doubt anyone can seriously argue that they can’t afford to put aside seven minutes for a workout but I can understand how some people might dislike doing push-ups and tricep dips, planking and so on.

Maybe you’re also the kind of person who prefers more “traditional” exercises like jogging, swimming or cycling but you don’t want to do these for a full 20 minutes or so, which is usually the minimum amount of time recommended for such exercises.

Well, the four-minute workout is suitable for you. According to a study published in 2013, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that just four minutes of jogging, swimming or cycling at top speed, done three times a week, will get you in good shape.

Again, the key word is “intensity”. You have to push yourself until you’re literally panting, which is hard work but it’s only for four minutes.

The Norwegian researchers got overweight and sedentary volunteers to try this programme for 10 weeks and found that at the end of the trial period, the volunteers had improved their endurance levels by at least 10 per cent and both their metabolic and cardiovascular health had improved as well.

One-minute workout

Okay, let’s say you hate the idea of doing a dozen different exercises (seven-minute workout) and you feel that four full minutes of all-out running or biking is not your cup of tea. How about doing just one minute’s worth of intense exercise?

Actually, it’s not even a minute of continuous exercise but three 20-second bursts, with two minutes of cool-down in between each burst, for a total of one-minute of intense exercise.

One minute! Sounds unbelievable or maybe too good to be true? Again, this is all scientifically sound advice.

Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, had conducted a test in 2014 where he got overweight and sedentary volunteers to complete these three 20-second exercises on stationary bicycles.

Just one full minute of intense cycling, done three times a week for six weeks, saw the volunteers increase their endurance level by a whopping 12 per cent. They also displayed healthier blood pressure levels.

No more excuses

So if you want to get fit but don’t have much time, you now have a solution that doesn’t even require fancy equipment or a gym membership.

What you will need is a willingness to push yourself hard during those few minutes of intense exercise and a commitment to do it three times a week.

These workouts are so brief you could easily do them in the morning before going to work, during your lunch break or right after you reach home from work.

If you find exercise in general to be boring, listen to some music while you are working out. In the time it takes to finish just one or at most two songs, your workout would be over!

Sunday
Jun042017

Nap to productivity

WHAT does US President Donald Trump have in common with the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher besides their affiliation to conservative political parties?

And what does PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi have in common with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer other than the fact that they’re both female heads of major corporations?

The answer to both these questions is that they all get an average of four hours of sleep every night.

If you aren’t able to emulate these workaholics, don’t feel bad. It’s not just tenacity that allows them to do with so little sleep. Genetics has more than a little to do with it too.

According to Ying-Hui Fu, a biologist and human genetics professor at the University of California, San Francisco, about 90 per cent of the human population needs between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.

Fu, who has been studying the short-sleeping phenomenon since 1996, says that about three to five per cent of the population can make do with around 6.5 hours and less than one per cent can get by with less than four hours. Short sleepers are just born that way.

For the rest of us who belong in that 90 per cent bracket, insufficient sleep is nothing short of torture. All of us know how terrible it feels to be struggling to stay alert right after lunch; and how scary it is to be nodding off at the wheel after a long day at work.

It’s well-established that lack of sleep impacts our health in so many ways — our heart, immune system, metabolism and even fertility — but we don’t need scientific studies to convince us of that. We can literally feel how bad it is for our bodies whenever we don’t get enough sleep.

Similarly, experience tells us that lack of sleep also affects us mentally.

We’re less alert and have difficulty focusing because of it. But what may not be so obvious is just how badly it affects our ability to work.

Research has shown that people who get less than five hours of sleep for a few nights in a row have the equivalent of a 0.10 blood-alcohol level. To give you a sense of what that means, it’s considered a crime to drive in the US if your blood-alcohol level is 0.08!

There’s an economic effect to all this. According to a study published by RAND Europe last November, the lack of sleep among the American workforce costs the US economy approximately US$411 billion (about RM1.8 trillion)

IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

The study, Why Sleep Matters — The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep, is the first ever to quantify the economic impact of sleep deprivation.

“Our study shows that the effects from a lack of sleep are massive,” says its lead author, Marco Hafner.

“Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and wellbeing but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers.”

That same month, Arianna Huffington — of Huffington Post fame — launched a new company called Thrive Global, which advocates the importance of proper sleep for increased productivity.

Huffington has long held a deep interest in the topic of sleep and even wrote a book about it entitled The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time.

She once fainted and fractured her cheekbone due to exhaustion.

Thrive Global will offer corporate workshops for companies that want their employees to have better sleep and thus be more productive.

It will also offer a digital platform for conversations to be held about the topic of sleep and will sell products that help you sleep better.

But getting a good night’s rest is still not enough to foster optimal productivity in workers. Even if you get your eight hours, you’ll still feel drowsy at different times during the day.

That’s because our bodies go through 90-minute cycles where we drift from a state of alertness at the start of the cycle to a drowsy phase at the end of the cycle.

What we tend to do to combat the sleepy phase is go to the washroom to splash water on our faces or drink cups of coffee to help us stay awake.

These things help somewhat but they don’t remove the fatigue our bodies feel.

Author and sleep advocate Tony Schwartz may be on to something with his 4½-hour days, split into three 90-minute sessions.

He says when he first started writing books, he’d write for up to 10 hours a day and it would normally take him about a year to complete a book.

Recently though, he began writing in three uninterrupted 90-minute sessions, with a break after each one.

By writing only 4½ hours per day, he was able to complete his last two books in less than six months each.

It’s clear that those breaks in between his sessions significantly enhanced his productivity.

NAP TIME

Imagine if companies started employing this concept and allow employees regular breaks where they can take a nap if they want to.

Actually, some progressive companies in the US are already recognising the value of naps. Uber has nap rooms at its headquarters. Google has nap pods. But it’s not just new economy companies that are recognising the value of power naps. You might be surprised to hear that PricewaterhouseCoopers has nap pods too.

Although it might be counter-intuitive for companies to encourage their workers to take naps in the office, studies have conclusively shown that it does lead to improved performance.

When night-shift air traffic controllers were allowed to take naps when they were too tired, they ended up performing much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time compared to those who weren’t allowed to take naps.

In Malaysia, some companies are starting to warm up to corporate wellness programmes.

I know of two people who conduct workshops and trainings on this topic and they tell me the uptake is very promising. More and more companies realise they have to do this in order to get the most out of their employees.

But for these companies, the focus is more on nutrition, exercise and relaxation. Napping is a much harder sell and requires a huge mindset change on the part of management.

Even in the US, only about five per cent of corporations have a policy allowing workers to take naps during working hours.

Well, if we can’t look to the US for guidance on this matter perhaps we should look East — to Taiwan where it’s not unusual for workers to pull out pillows to take a short nap right after lunch.

Imagine your employer allowing you to sleep after a hearty banana leaf lunch. I guess you could call it a dream job.

Sunday
May282017

Importance of personal branding

AS our economy gradually transforms into a knowledge economy, more and more people are becoming freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs. That being the case, it is now more important than ever to develop a strong personal brand through the Internet.

Your personal branding is essentially how people perceive you. It’s what they think of you when they hear your name. It’s not too different from how people react to famous companies. Some brands evoke positive emotions while others evoke negative ones.

Obviously you’d want your personal brand to be viewed positively. Having a positive brand not only helps you to win projects and land clients, it helps you get the right projects and the right clients.

In the past, personal branding was cultivated offline through word-of-mouth. Associates and clients would tell others about the experience they had dealing with you and if enough people had positive impressions of you, you’d end up with a good reputation.

Today, we have the Internet and it has made it all that much easier to do personal branding. Of course if handled incorrectly, it can result in very negative branding, which can also spread far and wide very fast. So, the Internet can be a double-edged sword. Here are five tips to help you work the Internet so that you end up with a good personal brand.

1. Think of yourself as a brand

First and foremost, you must think of yourself as a brand. Think about all the famous brands out there that you admire. What do you associate with those brands that make you admire them? Now, think of yourself not as you, the person, but as you, the brand. Then decide what kind of feelings you want to evoke when people think of you. What values do you want them to associate with you? What kind of expertise do you want to be known for? And how are you different (and better) than your competitors? Only when you start thinking this way will you be able to make the right moves to enhance your personal brand.

2. Google yourself

It may sound like a very vain thing to do but Googling yourself is crucial to understanding what the Internet thinks of you. I’ve often said that Google does not lie. That’s because its algorithm paints a pretty accurate perspective of who you are, what you do and what you’ve achieved so far.

When someone Googles you — and you can be sure many potential clients, suppliers, associates and business partners will do this — the results, for better or for worse, will colour their perception of you.

So don’t hesitate to find out what the Internet thinks of you. If it’s largely positive and impressive, you’ve obviously been doing the right things — doing good work and getting recognised for it. If, on the other hand, there’s not much to see or if the results are largely negative, then you know you need to start adopting best practices to gradually improve your Google results. Read on.

3. Do projects

If you Google my name, you’ll find plenty of results. That’s because over the years, I’ve done all kinds of projects — online and offline. I’ve published books, written articles, made blog postings, given speeches, conducted workshops, taught classes, created podcasts, edited videos and so on. Some of these things were done as part of my work and others were passion projects. But I’ve been busy and many of these things have been captured by Google. You can do search engine optimisation (SEO) as much as you want but at the end of the day, it’s not as good as genuine organic results that show off the achievements you’ve made.

4. Maintain a personal website

In the age of social media it might seem anachronistic to have a website. But don’t underestimate the importance of having an online central hub where people can easily find information about you.

It doesn’t have to be a fancy website nor does it have to cost a lot of money. These days, you can easily subscribe to a template-based service like Wix.com that allows you to develop a very professional-looking website which contains basic details about yourself, past clients, samples of your work and contact details. It should also contain links to all your social media pages.

The URL or web address should ideally be your name. If your name is somewhat unique, then you can probably register it. If, however, you have a very common name like Michael Tan, then you’re probably out of luck. Someone else would have probably registered that domain name already. In such a case, include some initials or add an additional word that describes what you do e.g. MichaelTanCartoonist.com. There’s a better chance of securing such a domain name.

5. Be active on social media

In this day and age, you have to be active on social media if you want to develop a strong personal brand. You can be sure the people you’ll be dealing with will be on social media and besides Googling your name, will also be checking you out on social media.

It’s crucial that if you’re using social media for personal branding that activities you do there are all geared towards fostering the branding that you wish to have. Don’t simply post whatever’s on your mind.

That’s fine to do if you’re using social media for social purposes — go ahead, share that picture of the meal you’re about to have — but if you’re using social for branding, every single posting must be purposeful. Ask yourself before posting anything: What does this posting do to enhance my brand?

Of all the social media platforms out there, the one that is most relevant to your career is LinkedIn, which is fundamentally your online resume. But of course it’s much more than that since it is a social media platform.

Enhancing your personal branding

You can share content and updates that could potentially go viral and thus help to establish you as a thought leader for your core domain. You can also contact and connect with other professionals in your field. It’s not as busy as Facebook or Twitter or even Instagram, but it’s got a focused user base. Everybody in there is there for professional reasons. And that’s what makes it valuable for career purposes.

I asked Frank Koo, Head of Southeast Asia Talent Solutions at LinkedIn, what people could do to enhance their personal branding via LinkedIn other than listing their achievements and qualifications. He highlighted three things:

Firstly, complete and optimise your profile. The more complete it is, the more you’ll stand out. Interestingly, LinkedIn has revealed the most overused words found on Malaysians’ profiles. For this year, Malaysia’s top five most commonly-used buzzwords include “specialised”, “leadership”, “passionate”, “experienced” and “responsible”. In doing up your profile, try to avoid such cliches.

Secondly, make it a point to publish articles on LinkedIn and share stories of your professional journey. This will help drive more traffic to your profile and add further credibility to your personal branding.

Thirdly, make meaningful connections with others in the network and engage with them regularly. This will help increase your visibility and open up more doors for your next opportunity.

If you take note of the five things I’ve mentioned above and do them diligently and consistently, you’ll find that in time your online personal branding will improve tremendously.

Oon Yeoh is a consultant with experiences in print, online and mobile media. reach him at oonyeoh@gmail.com