Holy SH*T! I Just hit Inbox ZERO!

Recently there’s been a lot of buzz about this illustrious unicorn of an inbox state called ‘Inbox Zero’. To me, this was the thing of dreams and something only the most time-wealthy, organised (obsessive) people were capable of. For those not in the know; ‘inbox zero’ is a relatively new (or maybe just more recently trending) methodology formulated in 2009…

Recently there’s been a lot of buzz about this illustrious unicorn of an inbox state called ‘Inbox Zero’. To me, this was the thing of dreams and something only the most time-wealthy, organised (obsessive) people were capable of.

For those not in the know; ‘inbox zero’ is a relatively new (or maybe just more recently trending) methodology formulated in 2009 by Productivity expert Merlin Mann as a way of “reclaiming your email, your attention and your life.” (Yes! Give me some of that…!)

The process entails starting each day with zero emails in your inbox and finishing each day with the same. Not sure about you, but as of yesterday at 11am I had roughly in the region of 2200 emails in my inbox! Eeek!

Being in the recruitment industry you can imagine how many emails come into my inbox each day (each hour…each minute..!). This industry tends to foster magpie-like tendencies in people; being torn in so many different directions at once with emails flying through the door all day. This will be a familiar feeling for many.

I finally realised it was an area in my life that was actually causing me quite a lot of stress not to mention a major time-waster! Time wasted looking for emails, waiting for my inbox to load, re-reading old emails and subject lines, being pulled from high-focus tasks constantly, not to mention time wasted with the general cognitive overload!

I’d been putting it off for quite a while; I think a mixture of a perceived lack of time, (funny; as this will in turn SAVE me time!) not knowing where to start and I’m sure some good old fashioned procrastination; should have re-read an earlier blog I wrote on that HERE!

Anyhow, I attended a really interesting webinar the other day with Peter Moriarty from itGenious and something just clicked; it was time to tackle this issue and reclaim a couple hours of my life back each day!

So last night; I gave myself 40 minutes of after-hours; life-reclaiming focus… Here’s how I did it.

 4 Hacks to Hitting INBOX ZERO:

1.‘UNSUBSCRIBE’

This was one of the most productive pieces for me; it literally scraped over 1000 emails out of my inbox. Start by running a search in your inbox for ‘Unsubscribe’. This will produce all emails in your inbox that are subscription based emails; rather than real people, conversation based emails.

Once you get a feel for how many you have; you can do one of two things; 1. Set up a rule that designates all of these emails (containing the word ‘unsubscribe’) to a designated folder upon coming into your inbox OR 2. use one of the below tools to mass-unsubscribe from the lot.

I used a bit of a combination tactic on this. A lot of these subscriptions are work based and really interesting (but only interesting when I have the time to review). The others are from shops I’ve ordered a sweater online from three years ago – probably don’t need more shopping lures in my life! Ha.

 Check out the below for some helpful tools:

 2. RULE YOUR INBOX

This follows the same idea as the first however it’s designating rules for any otherregular mail you may receive; this goes for any affiliations, memberships, or regularly occurring notifications you may want to keep separate from your general ‘unsubscribe’ NEWS folder.

This one keeps things really well organised and allows you to designate blocks of time throughout your day to check and action these folders; rather than being constantly pulled in and out of your day to attend to them.

The best part of course is they never hit your inbox and are automatically filed. This is something I was half-committed to, prior to the ‘inbox zero’ initiative. Now I have rules for every regularly occurring mail and already feel more in control.

3. BE OKAY with “DELETE” or “ARCHIVE”

This one has always been tricky for me. I really struggle to press the delete button; it triggers this ‘never to be seen or found again even in the worst emergency’ feeling for me. Owning my own business I want to be able to go back to re-trace emails, any correspondence from a client should ALWAYS be on file and available to me…! God forbid it’s landed in the ‘Delete’ folder.

If you’re using outlook this function is well and truly called ‘Delete’ but in Gmail it’s a little more digestible; it’s called ‘Archive’. The truth is, these emails will still be recalled and get auto-archived anyhow so it’s really not the end of the world; just do it. Empower yourself to HIT DELETE!

4. CREATE CATEGORIES

This is another good one and really relevant for me. It more so addresses my ability to maintain inbox zero in the long run. It allows for a bit of a ‘working inbox’ method of organisation. It divides your inbox into certain categories; ie Action, Follow Up, To Do, For VA etc. Whatever suits your working style.

  • To learn how to create categories, Follow-Up features and Quick Steps in Outlook click Here:
  • If you’re using Gmail click Here for categories and other great optimising tricks:

** For another cool little tool, check out Yesware.com this is more of a bonus hack for you– it’s great for organising your tasks and follow ups, creating email templates and tracking open rates!

Well that’s that. These should at least get you started and allow you to bring yourself to a fresh and reinvigorated state of ‘inbox zero’.Now it’s about sticking to some pretty tough inbox “rules of engagement” and we should be well on our way to the blissful state of long-term inbox zero life..!

Here’s hoping!

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Looking for a new job? Don’t Use a Recruiter!

I kid you not, these words literally came hurling out of my husband’s mouth at one point not long ago. I just stared at him, mouth agape, naturally thinking to myself; “is he kidding me? Does he know what his wife has dedicated her life to?” “Has my ranting and raving over so many years about the value recruiters can…

I kid you not, these words literally came hurling out of my husband’s mouth at one point not long ago.

I just stared at him, mouth agape, naturally thinking to myself; “is he kidding me? Does he know what his wife has dedicated her life to?” “Has my ranting and raving over so many years about the value recruiters can (operative word) provide and my determination to shift the industry paradigm fallen on completely deaf ears?”

Far out – what a blow..!

After a moment of reeling and a quick check-in with myself, I took a step back and assessed the situation. If my own husband is brave enough to say these things in front of me, it’s very likely (lets be serious; I know) others feel the same.

Rather than jump straight to the defence (which I really wanted to do) I decided to do some digging to dissect his position.

I asked why he felt like this. He quickly shot back with an apology of some sort and then said; well ‘I didn’t mean you. You’re different; but most recruiters don’t really know much about the clients they’re working with and I feel like I never get the whole story and get lost in the process; I feel more like a number than a person. What’s the point if I can just apply for jobs directly myself?’

Touché; I don’t disagree entirely. This can sometimes be the case and is a direct result of a toxic blend of circumstances and factors that can lead to this very outcome for candidates (lets save that analysis for another chapter…perhaps to be entitled ‘why the traditional recruitment model is broken’ or perhaps ‘The biggest losers are the candidates’ – stay tuned).

Humm… so, back to the point; What IS the point?

To keep it brief, the below are some thoughts from my desk to yours. First though – a quick aside; before considering any of the below, it goes without saying; you have to feel the love first. If you get a call from a recruiter and you’re not getting good vibes; trust, mutual respect, confidence etc. no one is forcing you to strike up a relationship and pour all your confidence into this person. The recruiters who care and know they can add value are usually the ones who are going to work hard to earn your trust and respect first…

So; the above considered…

Reasons to work with a recruiter when you’re on the hunt for your next role:

They’ve got some serious market insight: First of all, make sure they’re a specialist relevant to your industry. These guys are in the market every day and have a great birds-eye view of the state of play. They can tell you what is happening; the value of your skills in the current market, supply and demand ratios and what companies may be hiring in the near future.

They can actively pursue companies on your behalf: I should preface this with; there are 24 hours in a day and recruiters spend a good portion of these networking however they are going to consider their risk/reward ratio at every turn. If you show some level of commitment and loyalty to your recruiter, they are going to work harder for you (this is the same for when recruiters work with clients – the stronger that relationship and the higher the level of commitment – the better the outcome). Everyone’s time is limited however if you develop a strong enough relationship and that particular recruiter has the established network she will work hard to explore opportunities that don’t yet exist and work to create a position for you!

They will probably ask some tough questions: Contrary to popular belief, tough questions can often be very worthwhile questions to explore. They will do some digging to understand your motivators, career desires and life goals. They may challenge you or reveal some hard truths. Very much up to you whether you open your mind to these conversations but I would implore you to try. It could save you some heartache down the line in accepting another high(er) paying role that’ll land you right back in the uninspiring rat race you’d sworn to get out of…

They know how to prepare you for the interview process: You’re kidding yourself if you think you’re the only one who has interviewed for this role or with this company. Ask your recruiter if they’ve worked with this client before. They should be able to tell you what makes the hiring manager tick, what they’ll be asking (roughly), what colour to wear (ha maybe!) and whether there are any ‘must – address’ points or concerns. That’s a big one – the good recruiters will have the courage to ask the hiring managers before the interview process whether they have any initial concerns based on your profile. This isn’t cheating – rather a way to fully address these concerns and close them out; if you’re the right fit!

They’ve got your back: If and when the time comes for an offer to come your way, you better believe they will be ensuring you are taken care of – they will negotiate on your behalf and ensure the relationship between you and your future team isn’t tainted. They’ll ask the tough questions, and will ensure you are completely prepared, aware, satisfied and excited for your next adventure! The good ones won’t even ghost on you when you start (can you believe it?). You’ll have them as a sounding board for questions or concerns and support well into the tenure of your new challenge.

They know you, your skills and you’ll always be on the radar: If you establish a mutually respectful relationship with a recruiter, even if they don’t place you this time around, given they’re made of the right stuff and you’re feeling the love, they will be your ally in the future. They will be your eyes and ears into the market and keep you posted of any movement or value to you in the future.

Right – so there’s a small snapshot. Now I’m not delusional to think the whole industry is like this – I’ll tell you right now it’s not. I’m feeling pretty game for putting this on LinkedIn as I know it can be a fun little medium for slamming recruiters.

I’m totally cool with a bit of steam-letting however the next time a recruiter calls or you’re considering pressing send on your application to an ‘unknown’ job posting, just know you have the power to choose; give it a shot. If you’re not happy on the first discussion, give it another go until you’ve found one you’re really happy with – and hold onto that one!

Foster that relationship and you’ll be paid dividends one way or another into the future – promise.

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Eat the Frog: 7 Ways to Combat Procrastination

I think we can all agree that no matter how hard we try, there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we have on our proverbial ‘ to-do lists’. Another commonality; I think I can say without question that we have all been the culprit of procrastination. It plagues everyone; whether severely or mildly, but at some…

I think we can all agree that no matter how hard we try, there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we have on our proverbial ‘ to-do lists’.

Another commonality; I think I can say without question that we have all been the culprit of procrastination. It plagues everyone; whether severely or mildly, but at some point we all suffer from the avoidance of that ‘all-important’ task that we would rather save until ‘later’ or will do it ‘tomorrow’.

The funny thing here is, when you think about the biggest, ugliest task you have on your ‘to-do list’ right now, it’s usually the most important one; the one that will yield the biggest result, yet we still seem to put the small, menial tasks before it. WHY?

Last week I was faced with a very similar conundrum; I have so many things on my ‘list’; I am outrageously busy yet I don’t seem to be getting anything measurable accomplished.

Noticing this, I started to look closer at my actual activity and realised a lot of it wasn’t actually that important and I could be placing other activities much higher on my list; those things that would actually yield measurable and meaningful results.

With this heightened awareness and sensitivity to ‘activity, vs importance of activity’ I realised I wasn’t the only one riding this incessant merry-go round.

I had a particularly interesting conversation with one of my candidates who was speaking about how busy they were and didn’t have time to update his resume and properly prepare for his interviews the following week. The funny thing was, the previous words out of his mouth were focused primarily around how finding a new career was his number one priority and how a refreshing environment and new challenges would completely change his outlook on life and directly affect his overall happiness and wellbeing….hummm.

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.

In this case, your big ugly ‘frog’ is your biggest and most important task; the one you are likely to procrastinate on. Coincidently this ‘frog’ it is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and produce meaningful results.

Having done some research on this I have amalgamated the below:

Top 7 ways to ‘Eat the Frog’ and combat Procrastination:

1. Prioritise ; Plan each day in advance

An average person who develops the habit of setting clear priorities to get important tasks done; whether hourly, daily or weekly will run circles around a genius who talks a lot and makes plans but gets nothing done. The key to success in this respect is to establish a habit of making these ‘top-priority lists’ prior to the day they are to be actioned. Each task should be listed from A – E, F,G etc. based on importance and the measurable result each task will yield.

2. Consider the Consequences; Look Long-Term

The mark of a superior thinker is his or her ability to predict the consequences of doing or NOT doing something. A tool to combat procrastination is to think of your big ugly frog and decide what will happen if you eat it, and what will happen if you don’t. Consider the effects at 24 hours, one week, one month and one year.

3. List Key Outcomes and the tasks which need to be Completed to achieve these

Sometimes it can be helpful to break down your ideal outcomes into the individual tasks which need to be executed to achieve said outcome; work backwards. Try to break these outcomes into the smallest measurable task. For example, if you are looking for a new job the end result is a job offer. Break that down into how many interviews you need to attend, how many discussions with recruiters and how many CV’s you have to send and assign a time-oriented deadline to these tasks. You could even break that down further into revamping your CV and creating a customised cover letter for each role.

4. Minimise Technology Time-Sinks

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. Need I say more? Though these tools have an important place, they often suck up more of our precious ‘frog eating’ time then we realise. An interesting exercise (if you can handle the cold, hard truth) is to track your time you spend on any of these sites each day; mark each increment down and add it up at the end of the day…you might be surprised at the result. Just think of all the frogs you could have eaten…!

5. Identify Key Constraints

In setting yourself priorities, goals or any other achievable outcome it is always important to be realistic in order to make the outcome realistically achievable. Before arranging your to-do list, make sure to take note of scheduled tasks which may get in the way of achieving you’re A-Z list. Things like meetings, family commitments, financial restraints, etc. Once identified, plan for them; better to plan to act than react at the last minute.

6. Pressurise, Take Charge, Motivate and Reward

Ever feel like you are waiting for that ‘Eureka’ moment or the strike of lightening to jumpstart you into action? I have some sad news for you. No one but you will be able to provide the long-lasting motivation you are looking for. To reach your full potential you must form the habit of pressurising yourself rather than waiting for someone to do this for you. Consistently raise the bar for yourself, create imaginary deadlines, visualise your long term goals and break them down. Set targets for yourself and once reached reward yourself with a predetermined incentive. Successful people continually put the pressure on themselves to perform at high levels. Unsuccessful people have to be instructed and driven by others to succeed. Which one are you?

7. Just DO IT; Eat the Frog

One of the most helpful things I find; after having executed all the above is to just do it; just rip off the Band-Aid quickly and EAT THE FROG. I find if I don’t think about it too much; launch into the activity and just start, it helps to get the momentum going and before I know it, the frog is eaten and I can move on to the next task.

Hope these have been as helpful for you as they have for me; Happy Frog Eating!

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5 tips to Job-Hunting through the Silly Season

Looking for a new job into late November, December and early January can often be frustrating. There is no doubt it’s a different climate for job hunters during the ‘silly season’ however it doesn’t have to be a waste of time. We’ve recently been chatting with both our clients and candidates around the climate for both hiring and job hunting…

Looking for a new job into late November, December and early January can often be frustrating. There is no doubt it’s a different climate for job hunters during the ‘silly season’ however it doesn’t have to be a waste of time.

We’ve recently been chatting with both our clients and candidates around the climate for both hiring and job hunting through the festive season. There is an ingrained belief throughout the recruitment world that most hiring/job hunting halts through the season and then picks back up into late January; this isn’t always the case …if you know what you’re doing!

We are finding year after year that our clients are looking to hire straight through the season and those who are being proactive in their job hunting approach are often those to reap the benefits.

Knowing what we know, and seeing first-hand what happens in recruitment around this time of year we’ve decided to put together some ‘insider knowledge’ for those looking to optimise the opportunities the season can offer…!

5 Tips to Job-Hunting in November, December and January

1.Get to know your market: MAP a plan

Spend some time looking on job boards like Seek, LinkedIn, MyCareer, Facebook etc. for roles which might be suitable for you. Do some research to find out which recruiters would be most involved in your area of speciality. Develop a relationship with them; speak openly about their current opportunities and what they have coming up into January. This is the key. Recruiters and line managers alike will start to have more free time to speak with you as the season winds down. Create a follow-up list and compile the names of these connections to establish another touch point for the New Year if they are unable to help you out now.

2. Tailor your approach; get focused

Apply for as many live, credible and applicable jobs you can throughout late November and into December. Focus on clearly understanding the role, developing rapport with the recruiter or manager and doing some further research into the companies you apply for. Should you not be successful for those roles, the company you had applied to may have other roles which might suit you into the New Year. Second; tailoring your CV to each role, clearly addressing the key selection criteria is also key. This will demonstrate a clear relevance and should land you at least a chat with the recruiter for shortlisting…this also opens doors. For some insight into ‘shaking off the dust’ and refreshing your job-hunting approach check out our last blog here

3. Network, Socialise, Connect

The ‘silly season’ is a great time to celebrate, connect, network and socialise; who says you can’t do all of this AND bolster your career at the same time? Make a point to attend as many relevant, industry-related networking socials, coffee catch-ups or after work drinks. The connections you make during the season could certainly yield profit into January and can help to strengthen your network throughout the rest of the New Year; win-win!

4. Pitch for NOW

Many of the conversations you will have during this time of year will most likely focus around January. This is a natural progression throughout December and you’ll hear it from both recruiters and line managers. One of the best things you can do is stear the conversation to ‘now, today, next week’ – sooner than after Christmas. This doesn’t mean you have to land an interview or sign any paperwork before Christmas but it could be a face to face catch-up, telephone chat or Skype chat which would establish the connection and perhaps open more doors for the future. Stay proactive, stay engaged and you’ll be the first one in the door early January…

5. Don’t write it off

One of the biggest opportunities for the savvy job-hunters during this time of year is that most of the ‘other guys’ are taking their foot off the peddle. This means 80% of your ‘regular-season competition’ is eating themselves into a turkey-induced coma and gives you a rare opportunity to stand out and shine. A clearly addressed, well prepared, well researched and highly relevant CV in this market is GOLD for the (more surprisingly common than not) line manager desperately trying to fill those last few requirements before Christmas break.

Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity!

Give us a call if you want to chat around what’s happening with us NOW and avenues to be mapped and explored into January!

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Getting out of the ‘Job-Hunt-Slump’

Recently there’s been a lot of buzz in the media around University Graduates of Australia struggling to find work. An article was recently published by the Herald Sun stating that graduates are ‘overqualified’ and thus unsuitable for the roles they are applying to. Though this is more an argument around the process of post graduate study vs. work experience and…

Recently there’s been a lot of buzz in the media around University Graduates of Australia struggling to find work. An article was recently published by the Herald Sun stating that graduates are ‘overqualified’ and thus unsuitable for the roles they are applying to. Though this is more an argument around the process of post graduate study vs. work experience and the delicate balance between each, it got us thinking…

Whether the economy is booming, stable or in a slump, there are always candidates who come to us with the same gripes; ‘I just can’t seem to find a job; I’ve been applying for X number of months and keep getting rejected; I can’t even seem to get an interview etc. etc…’ Yes, these candidates are sometimes those who are out of work all together, but more often than not, they are those who are looking to leave their current job in search of ‘greener pastures’. Sound like you?

Often, the ensuing conversation between one of our consultants and these candidates addresses a number of ‘check points’ which can assist in getting past that ‘job-hunt-slump’ and proceed with more efficiency. Some of the below may seem obvious but those combined with the things you haven’t thought of could be the key difference to landing your next dream role…!

10 ‘Check Points’ to Effective Job Hunting:

1. Revamp your CV

Candidates often send us generic, old, out-dated and sometimes even unfinished copies of their CV. Think of your CV as your own personalised commercial. Would any company release a commercial to the media without having checked, double checked and triple checked it for perfection and to ensure it was a sparkling representation of their brand? Of course not! This is your chance to shine. Ensure the formatting, clarity of qualifications and relevant experience, spelling and grammar are in check (as a very minimum). For more, check out our guidelines on composing a CV in our resources section.

2. Find a good recruitment partner

Often, something as simple as the right recruitment partner can make all the difference in finding your next dream job. Do your research; find a recruitment partner who specialises in your field of work. They are often well connected in your industry and will be able to go out to the market on your behalf and speak with their clients who may not have a live job now, but may have something on the horizon for you. Speak with your recruiter honestly. Ensure they understand your wants, needs and aspirations. If you suspect they will not be in a position to assist there’s no shame in moving to someone who can…contact us!

3. LISTEN, LISTEN and ASK

One of the most important things in job hunting with purpose is taking all the constructive feedback you can get. LISTEN more than you speak. Ask honestly about feedback on your CV, role expectations, interview performance and feedback for next time. Ask important questions around the way your CV is perceived and your image as a candidate, and aim to get an honest answer (without fear or favour) from anyone you speak with; recruiters, family, friends. Often, you must ask to get this feedback.

4. Tailor your CV EVERY time you apply

I can’t tell you how many times I have received an application which is addressed to a completely different company, role or title; simply reused for any and all jobs which fall under a generalist category. Recruiters review over anywhere from 400-600 CV’s a day and scan each for 20-50 seconds. If the first thing they see is a mis-addressed CV or one which is not immediately relevant to the key aspects of the role, you better believe it is going to the bottom of the pile. You could be a suitable applicant for the role (somewhere buried in the text you’ve had experience with X or Y) however based on poor CV preparation, attention to detail and basic administration skills, this is enough to bump you off the shortlist. THINK before applying for any old role. Ensure you know EXACTLY which roles you have applied to and TAILOR your CV for each one. I often suggest including a BULLET POINT list at the very top of your CV of the key selection criteria and how you have demonstrated experience of each. This often ensures a quick shortlist.

5. Follow up, Find out, Check in

If you’re doing your job right, you will have been recording each role you apply for and exactly who has a copy of your CV. From here, your next move is to follow up. Call one to two weeks after your application has been submitted to follow up on where your CV sits. Find out if there is any feedback and if so, how to address this feedback. Should you be unsuccessful for this role, there are bound to be others coming up. Check in every 1-2 months with your contact to keep in touch and be the first to know should anything else come up!

6. Reassess your career path

Sometimes, after further discussion, candidates realise that the roles they have been applying for are not actually those which will lead to job satisfaction and keep them passionate throughout their career. This is always an interesting conversation. Really try to break down which aspects of your current or past roles you have enjoyed and which parts you haven’t enjoyed. Construct your ideal role based on your skills, passions and desired career path. This exercise may change your direction all together…

7. Network; use your Resources

Social media has come very far over the past 10 years. If you are not currently on LinkedIn or you are, but your profile is less than exciting ensure you have this updated. This is another way to represent your personal brand. Check spelling, grammar and career succession. Recruiters are using LinkedIn more and more to conduct headhunting drives and if your profile doesn’t catch the eye you could miss out. Also, think back to those you’ve worked for and with in the past. Now might be a good time to reconnect and see where they are working and whether they have anything which might be of interest to you.

8. Research industry trends

Often individuals (especially in the IT industry) fall behind with regards to industry trends, new versions of technology or practical experience. Keep up with these trends through following relevant blogs, social media, or through speaking with others in the industry. Something which makes you particularly interesting to a future employer is your knowledge around relevant IT trends, or breaking edge information.

9. Engage in further training or certifications

A sure-fire way to turn heads is to be certified in the newest and emerging technology. Ensure you are well certified as required by your industry standard and ensure you keep your certifications up to date and relevant.

10. Keep a positive attitude.

This may seem like a strange way to cap this list off (and no, I haven’t run out of checkpoints!) but I can’t stress how important it is to keep a positive attitude when job hunting and speaking with the ‘all-important’ network in your field. Nothing stifles a conversation more than a candidate with a negative attitude and this carries over into any potential leads you may get. A good attitude tends to set the mood for the entire conversation and conveys passion, dedication and tenacity; all good qualities in a potential employee. Even if you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by the process make a mental note to smile on the phone or when speaking with someone face to face; this will change the tone of your voice and even send ‘happy’ signals to your brain which will in turn result in a more effective and profitable conversation; promise!

In sum, we hope these have been helpful! Should you wish to discuss any of the above, our consultants are here to assist. Check out our contact page to discuss further!

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