Costly mistakes; everyone makes them

Mistake!
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In 1962, NASA took on the first interplanetary mission with spacecraft Mariner 1. Unfortunately, the mission was cut expensively short after a hyphen spelling error in a punch card, which caused the destination to change. The change in destination sent the spacecraft into a collision path, so 293 seconds into the mission the spacecraft had to be destroyed. This simple error in NASA’s code helped doom the Mariner 1 mission, which cost $18.5 million – remember that this was in 1962, and is equivalent to a lot more today.

The moral of the story is that everybody makes mistakes!

If you don’t believe you make errors or mistakes then you are lying to yourself; even the most skilled people make errors in documents, CV’s, code and more! Sometimes these errors can be brushed aside but at other times, they are critical, costly and can affect your company’s and your reputation.

I’m guilty of it – no matter how many times I proofread and spell check my work there is always that one small error. Unfortunately, you typically don’t see it until after you hit the send button or submit the final copy for distribution, which is then followed by that sickly feeling when the mistake comes to light.

So why do you make mistakes?

The problem arises most often when you are working hard; your brain optimises itself by interpreting words without reading the whole word. This means your brain can focus on difficult tasks such as forming complex ideas. The better you know the content the more efficient your brain is at optimising your reading by skimming over the words (as if you’re on autopilot) and the more likely you are to miss things.

How can you stop making those errors and mistakes?
To look at your work with a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ you need to trick your brain into de-familiarising itself with material you are working on; below are a few tips to stop you from making any troublesome mistakes.

1. Step away from your work
My first suggestion is to step away from your work and come back to it later. This is not fool-proof but using a different part of your brain and focussing on another activity can allow you to come back to your work fresh and ready to proof with a new set of eyes.

2. Change your spelling and grammar settings in word
It surprises me how often people have the advanced spelling settings turned off – this can be really helpful when it comes to proofing. One thing to note is that if you are a Google Docs fan is that Google Docs spelling/grammar settings aren’t as comprehensive – so export it and check outside Google. The same goes for writing emails in Outlook – write your email in Word first then paste it in Outlook.

3. When working online, proof offline
When working on your computer you are guaranteed to make typing errors (amongst others), so make sure you print out your work and proof read the printed version.

4. De-familiarise your brain with your work
The more attached you are to something or the more familiar it is to you, the more likely you will not see your errors so de-familiarise your brain. Do this by changing the colour of the text or background or changing the font type (i.e. switch between two distinctive Serif and Sans fonts). This will help trick your brain into thinking that it is something new that you are reading.

5. Get someone else to check your work
Lastly and where possible, get someone (who hasn’t been involved with your work) to check it, as they will have the best chance of spotting any errors.

Hopefully you work in an environment where a mistake won’t result in a multi-million dollar spaceship being blown out of the sky… but for most of us it certainly doesn’t make you feel great when one is spotted in your work!

Make sure you put the checks and processes in place to help minimise those mistakes and spelling errors, and ultimately give you some piece of mind.
If you want to read more on why our brains make mistakes, check out Wired’s post with psychologist Tom Stafford, who studies typos at the University of Sheffield. I welcome your feedback, any funny but less than ideal mistakes you have seen, and suggestions on how you prevent mistakes in your work (and hopefully there aren’t too many in mine above).

This blog post was originally posted on the Potentia blog

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My advice for Kiwi and expat marketers wanting to work in London

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I was recently contacted by a marketing graduate in New Zealand about coming to London, United Kingdom to work in Marketing, so I thought I might as well share my experience to other Kiwi/Expat marketers considering moving to London and seeking work.

To start off, if you want to do well in London, I would recommend getting experience before moving to the UK. It is not an easy job market for most and it is an even harder environment for a graduate. While I was in London I met several European graduates whose parents paid for them to go to London to do 6 to 8 month unpaid internships. So as you can imagine it’s not the easiest for a graduate without well off parents to support them while they do an unpaid internship!

Up skill and do your research before heading to the UK

It is good to know what part of marketing you prefer and research what recruiters are looking for in candidates in those types of roles. I worked in all rounded marketing roles before moving to the UK, however in all my roles I made an extra effort on focusing on improving the CRM and digital aspects of the businesses i.e. email marketing, social media, web/SEO and customer journeys. I learnt basic html coding skills at university and then self-taught email specific coding and best practices – this is what helped me stand out to recruiters and secure roles.

Before moving to the UK I went to a Global Career Link seminar where they told me all about the job market, life in the UK and what to expect. Following the seminar I was put in touch with one of their staff members who helped me tailor my CV to the UK job market. They also set realistic expectations on what type of role I could potentially get and what type of pay I would be looking at. Depending on what experience you have they can also set up interviews with recruiters for you when you arrive.

Will finding a job be easy?

Many people think getting a job in London will be easy. Unless you get lucky most people will need to put in a bit of work especially to secure their first job.

First, I would recommend building strong relationships with recruiters as most roles are recruited through agencies rather than direct (especially if you are after contract work).

Next network as much as you can and keep on top of the latest jobs as if you wait for the closing date your CV probably won’t get looked at.

A few good digital resources

If you enjoy digital marketing I would learn a bit of html and sign up to email newsletters that will help teach you the latest research and findings in the marketplace A few of my favourites are Jericho Smartmail (NZ email provider) have great newsletters , econsultancy, Sticky Content (writing for digital) and Smartbrief (daily email on any topic – the social media and career ones are great) . I can recommend others if there are particular areas you want to keep up to speed with. In addition, Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to learn off others, ask questions and sometimes find jobs. Recruiters use LinkedIn quite a lot in the UK and I was approached about several jobs through LinkedIn based on recruiters seeing my profile and experience on LinkedIn.

Finally, I absolutely loved working in London and would highly recommend at least giving it a go. If you have any specific questions I am happy to help out if I can, otherwise check out the websites that I mentioned above and good luck!


“Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiselling and scraping and polishing.” BC Forbes

*Disclaimer: these are just my thoughts and opinions from my experiences so please don’t take everything as gospel!

 

Is it possible to separate your personal life and work life on social networks like LinkedIn?

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Many individuals join professional social networks like LinkedIn for their own professional development rather than as brand ambassadors for their work.

Over the last year I have engaged with many people on social media platforms and have found it hard to separate the two on some networks such as LinkedIn. In my last position for a membership organisation, I often was personally contacted on LinkedIn and Twitter about the organisation. This led me to think about how, if I should or if I even could separate work from play.

Like many people I know I initially joined LinkedIn for my professional development and to keep in touch with contacts who I have met through networking, events and work. At first I wasn’t too sure what I thought of people contacting me directly about my work seeking more information. But it made sense as people like dealing with people who they can put a face and name to. Inevitably if you work in marketing and are doing your job properly you will probably end up becoming a brand ambassador whether you like it or not. If you do not want to be a brand ambassador for your company then perhaps you should rethink what and who you should work for.

With the explosion of social media not only the marketing team and stakeholders need to be brand advocates – all employees need to be as well. Employers also have to take care in making sure all staff will represent their brand in the right light or at the least don’t do the opposite. This does not mean that every employee has to be out there promoting the brand and company through their social networks, but that they should at least know how to respond and act. For example, if an individual asks for information about their workplace via LinkedIn employees should know how to respond and direct them to the right person who can help in their organisation.

Ultimately, my active use of social media over the years for work and play has highlighted how important it is to become a brand ambassador for my work. To me, this can only be done if I am passionate and believe in the organisation I work for. This is now a key factor in my job hunt for my next London marketing role!

I am interested to hear whether you have had the same experience and/or whether you have chosen to keep the two separate?