Posts Tagged hiring

13 Ways to Instantly Impress LinkedIn Connections

Remember when you first joined LinkedIn?

Perhaps you initially received an invitation to connect from a business associate… Or, perhaps you heard about the professional networking site and joined on your own… Either way, you most likely noticed a series of changes within the past 11 years of LinkedIn’s existence.

There have been numerous tips shared about how to complete your profile, add a photo, share status updates, participate in groups and of course expand your network. Now that you’ve successfully done all of that, you are probably ready to take the next step and really impress all of your connections with your professionalism, understanding of unwritten etiquette expectations, not to mention your ability to identify and share relevant information with other site members.

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So here is a list of the most up-to-date recommendations to do just that:

1)     Post riddles and jokes

2)      Post puzzles

3)      Post word jumbles and math quizzes

4)      Post lion pictures or cartoons

5)      Post same the thought, blog link or ad in several groups simultaneously

6)      Post mindless slogans such as: “hire for character, train for skill”

7)      Post IQ tests accompanied by “only 10% get this right”

8)      Post endlessly repeated cliché inspirational quotes

9)      Post eye charts

10)   Post content that would be superfluous even on Facebook

11)   Post irrelevant, off-topic content or comments in groups or discussions

12)   Post images or other content for the purpose of gathering sympathy “likes”

13)   Post any approving comments and/or sharing any of the above to further perpetuate such activity

Impressive, right? 

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Reason #1 for resume rejection

When interacting with people looking for jobs over the years, frustration with the entire process always comes up in the conversation. Usually, those getting zero to minimal response rate on their job applications are understandably the most irritated. Some seem mystified and oblivious to potential causes and others automatically assume they know exactly why they aren’t getting called.

While there are always multiple factors in play, one of the most obvious culprits of lack of positive attention is a flawed resume. Despite numerous reports suggesting resumes are dead, they still tend to be almost universally required as a first step in applying for a job across the majority of the business world.

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I’ve often stated that approximately 95% of the resumes I’ve seen could benefit from some form of improvement. Perhaps that figure sounds extreme, but the reason it is so high is that I truly believe (as do many others) that a resume is intended to serve as the best possible first impression a person can make to a prospective employer.

Some people have told me that my standards are too harsh and that it is unfair to judge someone’s entire career from a single document. That opinion may seem reasonable on the surface, but delve into what it represents from a business standpoint to see if it holds true. Let’s consider that a person applying for a professional level job is expected to demonstrate the following in order to be eligible for an interview:

  • Ability to communicate professionally both verbally and in writing with one’s target audience
  • Attention to detail and concern for quality in work-related physical documents or electronic content
  • Comprehension of proper word usage, verb tense, grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting when producing business-oriented correspondence

The above is an extremely limited list and doesn’t even get into actual hard skills, technical abilities and specific job related experience, training and education. Unfortunately, if lacking, the components listed are precisely the items that will undermine otherwise qualified candidates’ ability to convey their competence in their field.

The reality is, even if not explicitly expressed in the above manner, most occupations require a person to have a reasonable grasp of basic communication skills. If there is any doubt created in a person’s best first impression introduction message such as their resume, cover letter or even online profile, they will miss more opportunities than they will ever know.

Stubborn job seekers prefer to make assumptions about all sorts of possible reasons they aren’t getting any calls. Of course, in some rare cases, there could be some room for blame beyond a badly constructed resume.

But many people just prefer making excuses and speculating about how evil applicant tracking systems, discriminatory HR representatives and biased recruiters are at fault and show no willingness to hold themselves accountable for presenting a positive image. Instead of taking an objective view at how it is perceived when they fail to submit something worthy of being considered for their target job, these job seekers are the primary source of their own aggravation.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk – As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net 

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20 questions for your job search

The following are some of the most common “tips” or topics seen in the job search advice arena. Which do you believe are true or false and why?

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True or False Statements:

1)      No one will hire you if any of your Facebook photos contain alcohol

2)      Since it’s practically required to have your photo on LinkedIn, you should also include one on your resume

3)      Hiring companies always prefer candidates that have a blog

4)      You will differentiate yourself by submitting a video resume

5)      Cover letters are never read and won’t do you any good

6)      Handwritten post-interview thank-you notes help you become a top candidate

7)      Being active on social media proves you have advanced technology skills

8)      Your “digital footprint” (ultra stupid term) is more valuable than your resume

9)      If you have inconsistent work history, you must use a functional resume

10)   Hiring managers will be impressed with your infographic resume

11)   You need to build and maintain a consistent brand across all of your social media profiles

12)   You should share industry articles with hiring managers after your interviews

13)   If you don’t get a response after applying online you should call the company to speak with the hiring manager

14)   Candidate with highest Klout score should always be top choice

15)   If you get laid off, you should put “looking for new XYZ position” on your LinkedIn headline

16)   Job seekers 40+ years old never get interviewed because hiring companies discriminate

17)   You should do a lot of research before your interview so you can tell the company how you will fix their problems

18)   Contacting a lot of recruiters will help you get hired faster

19)   It makes sense to apply for jobs when you meet 50% of listed criteria

20)   Always circumvent HR because they never want anyone qualified to get hired

Answers:

1)      False – though there’s no need to leave your privacy settings wide-open if you fear your happy hour happenings might be mis-judged

2)      False – keep your resume focused on your career qualifications unless your appearance is pertinent to the type of work you do (modeling, acting)

3)      False – most people involved in hiring aren’t spending their spare time scouring the Internet to find new blogs – caveat: unless blogging is what you are employed to do

4)      False – don’t expect people to click the link, wait for the video to load/play and then watch your show – caveat: unless visual presentation/public speaking matters in your occupation

5)      False – not everyone cares about cover letters, but unless you know your recipient’s preference best of take advantage of the opportunity to communicate additional information

6)      False – while not entirely unheard of, whether typed or handwritten thank-you notes rarely influence opinions enough to make a difference in being added to the short list

7)      False – considering you are amidst billions of other people on the planet also active on social media, don’t expect special attention

8)      False – it might be concerning if there is no sign of you whatsoever online, but the vast majority of employers still rely heavily on traditional resumes to evaluate prospective hires

9)      False – if your employment history is in such a state that a functional resume seems necessary, you most likely need to apply for jobs where a resume isn’t required at all

10)   False – unless you are pursuing work where your graphic creativity is pertinent, at best a hiring manager might think your document is cute

11)   False – whether personal or professional, all you really need to keep in mind is: what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet

12)   False – aside from sending something that was requested, don’t add any uninvited extra mail (spam) to anyone’s inbox

13)   False – be patient and keep in mind most companies have a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” screening process and your extra eager attitude might get you noticed for the wrong reasons

14)   False – with limited exceptions, your Klout, Kred, EA, follower count or any other measurement score might be interesting, but rarely connected to hiring decisions

15)   False – your LinkedIn headline space should be maximized to express what others – your target audience – need to know about you professionally

16)   False – some claims of discrimination are valid, yet practically all employers desire the most qualified person for the position to be hired regardless of demographic attributes

17)   False – you should research available information in order to be prepared and informed, though it might be presumptuous to suggest you know how to fix internal problems

18)   False – companies hire based on qualifications, recruiters may facilitate portions of the process, but their loyalty is to the company/client not candidates

19)   False – at a minimum, you should strive to meet at least 90% of the required experience and background criteria being sought

20)   False – it is in HR’s interest to serve the company’s interest in attracting and selecting the best qualified person for each open position

Many of these topics or statements may produce an “it depends” reaction and the example answers are not intended to be a full explanation of every possible situation where certain actions may or may not make sense.

What do you agree or disagree with on the above list?  

Article by Kelly Blokdijk – As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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Follow this advice to knock yourself out of consideration for a job

While a best-selling author with a history of 35 years in career management is clearly not an easy target for critique, I feel I must call out the obvious negative reaction this blog’s advice could bring if followed. From what I gather, the intent of this information is to aid experienced job applicants  in addressing presumed ageist perceptions or alleged age-bias in interviews.

However, it appears to be coming from a very misguided and perhaps out-of-touch with a real life recruiting and selection mentality of our modern, global, diversity-centered world of work. Have a look: http://blog.knockemdead.com/2013/01/age-discriminationhow-to-fight-age-bias.html

Of course any and all of us will readily acknowledge the unfortunate existence of biased and exclusionary hiring practices that still persist despite the dominance of a more evolved population in the workforce. Aside from isolated anecdotal incidents, most of can only speculate and guess about the extent to which discriminatory decision making is taking place on any scale.

I personally find focus on assumptive accusations of this happening to be overblown and exaggerated. The reason I say that is I believe (and have plenty of objective external evidence to support) that most companies strive to attract and retain top talent regardless of any demographic factors related to discrimination that get publicized by the media and perpetuated by the general public.

As I read through these recommendations, I recoiled in horror at how obnoxious a candidate would sound if they actually expressed the sentiments suggested here. The first thing that stands out is the setting for these recommendations is at the end of a face-to-face interview. Or, if you read to the end of the article, the author recommends interspersing these golden gems throughout the interview conversation.

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An initial problem I see with this is approach is: why after passing through a resume review, initial phone screen or other preliminary candidate evaluation and eventually making it to the in-person interview phase with a hiring manager, would the candidate assume the company or its representatives has any intention of discriminating against said candidate? Talk about having a chip on your shoulder!

The next problem that stands out is the unfortunate choice of vocabulary the candidate is advised to use to point out their age, seasoning, years of experience and other non job-related characteristics. If the goal is to emphasize one’s exceptional qualifications, relevant achievements and drive for successful job performance, why in the world is the author suggesting the candidate call attention to anything distracting or detracting from that message?

Under no circumstances can I imagine it being well-received for a candidate to announce: “I just turned ___ (years old).”  When I saw this it made me think of a toddler holding up the number of fingers equivalent to their age, not a business person I would want to hire – for ANY job!

A remark along the lines of: “That gives me ___ years experience in the profession and ___ years experience doing exactly what needs to be done in the job”  is more likely to come off as condescending and arrogant than confident and accomplished.

If you tell me you have ___ years experience tying your shoes does that make you more qualified than anyone that has 1, 2, 5, 20 fewer years doing the same? No. It just makes you sound pompous, clueless and set in your ways of doing whatever task for however long – most likely the same exact way for that entire duration of time without any examples of incentive to keep improving.

Moving along after a few additional reinforcements of the above, the candidate is told to say: “hire another thirty-something and you know that she will constantly be haggling for promotions and possibly your job, and will probably be gone in four years… even if I retired at 65 you’d still have me ___ times as long as someone younger.” The extreme wrongness of this entire concept shouldn’t need any further explanation or interpretation.  Holy inappropriate comment, Batman!

It continues full speed downhill from that atrocious abomination with: “Experience has given me the maturity and understanding to know that when I do my job well, I make my boss’s job easier. Most younger candidates don’t know this…” Curious, at what point does one arrive at this mature, experienced conclusive understanding? Sixteen, 23, 38, 57…?

Finally, let’s drag out a few more wisdom filled clichés, shall we?: “I will bring balance to the team, if all your customers/clients are in their twenties, most will be reassured by my maturity, plus I naturally resonate with older customers because of the experience and maturity I offer.” Apparently, maturity is the magic mojo for all customer needs! Who knew?

Whether I was interviewing this person as a recruiter, HR person, hiring manager or innocent bystander, I can assure you I would be anything but reassured or feeling resonated with after hearing any proclamations of this sort. Not only would person fail at impressing me as a candidate, they would succeed at insulting and offending every possible category of coworker or customer they may encounter.

For someone to take the tactic of positioning him/herself as superior to other candidates by reinforcing the age-based depictions they claim to be avoiding is pathetic and frankly could be construed as that person harboring their own discriminatory attitudes. Not a good strategy and not a way to influence a hiring decision in your favor.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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Coffee Meeting Conundrums

On one of the HR/recruiting industry blogs I subscribe to a writer commented that this recession has been a blessing for Starbucks due to all of the unemployed people holding networking meetings there. How true!

Since I occupy my time and try to remain professionally productive with independent freelance projects out of my home office, I don’t have coworkers or a traditional office environment to interact with others on a regular basis. Therefore, I make a point to get myself out and about as often as possible for a dose of human to human, technology-free conversation.

Usually, I attend between 8-12 structured networking related events per month. That is a decent amount for an introvert, right? These are in various categories – some industry related, some general business mixers and some geared toward job seekers. I crave variety!

Often what tends to happen after these initial group meetings is that people like to follow-up by scheduling a one-on-one coffee meeting. While I’m all for these “get-to-know-each-other-better” sessions, there are times when it can feel overwhelming.

On occasion, I’ve struggled to actually get “stuff” done because I was so overscheduled with networking and follow up meetings. I don’t want to decline meeting requests, but realistically there are times that it just doesn’t fit in between other commitments. Even worse, I don’t like to have to cancel or reschedule if an unavoidable calendar conflict comes up.

I’ve spoken with several others who have the same issue, but no one really seems to have a perfect way to balance it all. Just last week I attended a presentation where one of the people on the speaker panel said that they used to have around 40 coffee meetings per week. That number made me gasp! For the next few minutes my mind was racing trying to figure out how they did it. I still have no idea and can’t even imagine attempting that.

I’ve experimented with blocking off specific chunks of time to schedule back-to-back coffee meetings at the same location. I’ve tried to bundle coffee meetings right before or right after other events I was planning to attend. I’ve taken time off from the whole thing altogether, then returned more refreshed to fit these into my schedule. But inevitably I eventually reach the point of being maxed out again.

There are plenty of experts on the local networking circuit with different philosophies about how to network with a purpose or target high value connections, etc. Quite a few gurus actually offer training programs on various angles to networking the “right” way.

They may suggest focusing on quantity vs. quality or visa versa. They may recommend that you strategize and prioritize key contacts and targets – then do everything in your power to reach those influential people.

Personally, I don’t put that much pressure on myself or anyone else to be purposeful, valuable or influential. Rather, I approach each interaction with an open mind and a simple goal of meeting new interesting people or reconnecting with those I’ve met before. I try to keep it simple, straight-forward and enjoyable.

Certainly some networking purists would scold me for showing up without a purpose, target or any idea or interest in who is or isn’t considered a quality or priority prospect. Likewise, I’m sure they would find my unstructured, inconsistent process to planning coffee meetings equally inadequate.

What do you think?

Article authored by Kelly Blokdijk, Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks – “Creating a Voice for Talent” TalentTalks partners with job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling professional branding materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative and customized human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts job market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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If you want a healthy job search, don’t keep consuming Chicken McNuggets

Salty, crispy and decadent – that’s what this quick, inexpensive mystery-meat-treat is about…

We all crave instant gratification once in while and grabbing fast food is the perfect example of how we satisfy that impulse. McGrub in moderation is fine and dandy and of course mighty tasty! But just like any other guilty pleasure, you get what you pay for and you may not feel so nourished or fulfilled later.

Conducting constant research on all aspects of the employment market is something that I’ve engaged in for quite a few years – well before working in HR or having any direct involvement with talent acquisition. Part of this ongoing research entails — amongst myriad other activities — attending workshops and presentations and reading material prepared by staffing industry experts, analysts and assorted specialists dealing with related subject-matter. One constant over the years has been the abundance of information and the continuous evolution of how things are done when it comes to matching jobs with job seekers.

Even in the pre-Internet world there was no shortage of content, it just perhaps was not as easily and quickly accessible as it is now. As with anything, this category contains a blend ranging between brilliant and ridiculous ideas, advice and opinions. Due diligence and in-depth awareness is always critical to distinguish high quality data from the rest. Being clued in to subtle nuances, having common sense and general business acumen is always crucial to cull what works from what doesn’t.

While there are countless ways that we all have been impacted by the prolonged economic downturn, a few unfortunate trends have emerged causing undue complications. A particularly concerning phenomenon is the ease in which a number of individuals have taken it upon themselves to slap on a self-appointed status of career expert.

Many of these people are simply regular folks from any number of occupations such as software engineer, project manager, sales person or web designer; who within the past couple of years wound up amongst the swarms of unemployed. For some reason, quite a few of them have decided to label and market themselves as career experts and have taken their show on the road.

In some cases, these people are preying on the uninformed job seekers in need of direction. Sure, there are some who have benevolent intentions, but despite their well-meaning efforts, they have inevitably regurgitated and spread outdated, ineffective and just plain absurd advice to the very people who need a diet of solid guidance and career nourishment rather than the junk food equivalent.

Before this aptly named great recession, those who built credibility in the career or job search advice arena did so through concerted efforts to “actually know what they were talking about.” As one wise person described, “they would be seen as professionals whose insights, opinions and advice were based on years of applicable experience.”

These days due to so many overnight reinventions to executive coach, career coach, job market / job search strategist, LinkedIn trainer, social media guru, branding specialist, resume expert, etc., the average person struggles to decipher the difference between those offering legitimate value and those selling false hope.

The collective voice of the self-proclaimed experts has gotten much louder and they’ve been given a bigger stage to spread their message. Personally, I’ve been disgusted and embarrassed on a number of occasions over the disturbingly bad advice and blanket generalizations these people are putting forth as valid expertise.

Proving how incredibly out of touch they are with contemporary, competitive job search strategies and construction of customized career marketing / branding materials, some of them go as far as recycling and repackaging the stale, generic content prepared by the unemployment office.

Thinking it was only me observing this taking place, I’ve inquired with a few credible, respected “in-the-know” people to confirm what I was finding. One of them shared the following comment, “I have always seen them as opportunists that lack clarity, intelligence and integrity.” That sums things up quite well!

Just to emphasize what this might look like in action. Here are few greasy Chicken McNuggets I identified from multiple recent workshops facilitated by such “experts” as well as personal conversations with professional level job seekers in the community.

Call employers to follow-up even if the posting says: “no calls, please”

Tell people what you do in a slick catch phrase, tag line or slogan in your elevator pitch

Start blogging and do it often

Apply multiple times to the same job: online, fax, mail, email, etc. – that way the employer is sure to know your name

Invite everyone you meet at networking events to have coffee so you can build relationships

Have a Twitter account

Make sure you have an “objective” statement on your resume

Ask people “how you can help them” when you meet them at networking events

Make and post a video resume

Mail special brochures / pamphlets to hiring managers – so they pick up the phone and offer you a job

Don’t bother with a cover letter – just submit or send your resume

Answer questions on LinkedIn (Q&A) so you can get a star for best answer

Feel free to use the resume templates that come with your word processing software

Inform people of business problems you have solved when introducing yourself

It is fine to name your hobbies and interests on your resume

Create a personal website

List on your resume activities while a “stay-at-home-mom” or during other gaps

Leave a degree – in progress off of your resume

Order some biz cards with a logo to build your brand

Taken out of context it may not be obvious why any of the above could possibly be considered inappropriate courses of action. That is exactly the point…

You can get some decent sounding cooking tips from the person frying up Chicken McNuggets or you can treat yourself to a delicious and nutritious menu of gourmet cuisine tailored to maintain the proper and productive dietary balance in your job search.

Article authored by Kelly Blokdijk, Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks – “Creating a Voice for Talent” TalentTalks partners with job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling professional branding materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative and customized human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts job market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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The X factor… Do you have it and do you need it to be the right fit?

Have you ever noticed how so many top brands end in “X”? Here are just a few: Windex, Kleenex , Fed-Ex , Xerox and Botox

Maybe it is a coincidence, but each of the above happens to be not just a leading product name, but the default term most people use when referring to the item – regardless of actual brand being discussed. While trademarks and patents usually prevent competitor companies for using rivals’ brand names in their marketing, the general public still tends to cling to the most recognizable label during routine conversation. For example when was the last time you heard someone say any of the following?

Referring to glass or surface cleaner – I just Glass Plus – ed my windows, coffee table and bathroom mirror.

Requesting or offering a facial tissue – May I have or would you like a Puffs?

Using a package shipping service – Did you DHL Aunt Lucy’s b-day gift to Cleveland?

Discussing photocopies – I need 100 Canon copies of my presentation by 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Describing wrinkle eliminating injections – Couldn’t Nicole Kidman’s or Sandra Bullock’s foreheads use an onabotulinumtoxina break?

The point here isn’t about which product is superior. Most likely, any of the above secondary products or various other equivalents on the market would get the job done in practically the same way as the better known version. It really comes down to differentiation, reputation and perception.

So, what does this have to do with you and your job search? The established “X” factor brands need to defend their market position and the public’s belief that they are the standard or the best of the best. While the up and comers, need to convince consumers that they are just as good, if not better than the competition. It is an ongoing branding battle – just like trying to stand out in a crowded and competitive job market.

We constantly hear about the “it” or “fit” factor. As in: “I just don’t think he/she has ‘it’.” Or: “So far no one is the right ‘fit’.” What that usually means is something intangible and indescribable is missing from the ingredients. Perhaps it’s like having a preference for the fragrance of Windex versus Glass Plus. Or, thinking Fed-Ex has a fresher looking truck logo compared to the stodgy DHL vehicles.

Putting this into human terms, how many of us would rather be viewed as the Kleenex of our industry or field, in contrast to Puffs? Even without a catchy name ending in “X,” professionals should keep in mind how various products and services are marketed to achieve and maintain their standing in the community. Much of what creates a memorable and positive image is how the desirable qualities, features and solutions offered, remain in focus and customized to the target audience.

Article by Kelly Blokdjik of TalentTalks
TalentTalks partners with job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling professional branding materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative and customized human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs.

TalentTalks routinely posts job market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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