6 things to do before starting a business

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 things to do before starting a businessAs career consultants, we often see clients who’d like to work for themselves. Starting a business can be exciting, but it can also be daunting and confusing. There are so many things to consider and a variety of ways to go about it. Have you thought about the different options? You could start an online or physical business, buy an existing business or franchise, freelance, consult, or contract.

If you’re ready to escape the 9 to 5 grind (and beyond) and map your own future with a business of your own, you might be wondering where to start. The truth is, working for yourself is not for everyone. To ensure success, there is a lot of up front preparation involved before you take the leap. Here’s some things you should consider when starting your own business:

  1. Decide on your why: Starting a business usually involves hard work, long hours, and significantly raised stress levels. Often the freedom and flexibility you desire just isn’t possible in the start-up business phase – particularly if you have added financial pressures where you’re having to work in another job while making the transition. By working out why you’re doing this and what you need to do to make your business work, you’ll be more prepared for the effort involved in making it work.
  2. Decide on the structure: Viable business structures vary from state to state and country to country, and obviously there are tax and other legal implications for different approaches. We advise talking to an expert to find out what’s best for you. Regardless of your structure, you will probably need a registered business name, a dedicated bank account or credit card, and a website and/or some kind of online presence. Comprehensive professional legal advice is usually essential for any professional business.
  3. Do your research: Research your competitors, costs involved, target market, customer needs, your offer, and how you’ll get that offer to market. Businesses need an intimate understanding of their customer needs and pain points, together with an understanding of what’s already available in the market in order to ensure their offer is aimed directly at those requirements.
  4. Establish your finance: Good financial management is critical to ongoing business success. When just starting out, you’ll need to work out how much funding you need initially, and ongoing, where you can get it, and how you will manage it. There are many different sources to consider which could include: personal savings, a loan from a family member or friend, a loan from a bank or other financial institution, financial lease, venture capital investment, and government grant/funding. Don’t forget to factor in all your living expenses and a little ‘fat’ for the inevitable lean times that most small start-ups experience.
  5. Understand your obligations: Again this could involve hiring an expert, or at the very least conducting some fairly in-depth research of your own. Before starting a business there are a raft of obligations you need to understand covering areas such as business registrations, registration of your domain name, intellectual property and/or trademark protection, necessary licences or permits depending on your industry, accounting and taxation obligations, legal requirements, considerations of corporate governance, insurance, and any employee contractual or other considerations.
  6. Network: Whether you’re starting a business from scratch, buying a business or franchise, working as a sole trader, operating a retail store, providing services online or something in between, networking is essential to ensure your long-term success. By developing strong business networks, you will be able to keep up to date on industry and local information, promote your business through new contacts, and learn key skills from other businesses. Research relevant physical events, identify potential referrers or partners, and leverage online networking (LinkedIn in particular). Connecting with like-minded business people to learn from them is also important, and you could even consider seeking out an appropriate mentor to guide you through the initial business set up stages.

Starting a business can be stressful, but it’s also an exciting time that can also be lots of fun. Conducting comprehensive research before starting out, and being super prepared for all the curve balls that will inevitably come your way, is one of the best predictors of success.

Are you unsure if you have what it takes to start your own business? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If you would like some direction in deciding whether this is the right future for you, please see our Career Coaching Services.

 

Best ways to use your gap year

Article by Belinda Fuller

Best Ways To Use Your GAP YearWhere traditionally taking a gap year has been largely the domain of other cultures, Australians are now embracing it in ever increasing numbers. If you’re not really sure what you would like to do at the end of Year 12 or you don’t get into the course you were keen to complete, it might be a good idea to take a gap year. But it’s important not to be idle.

Taking a gap year means taking 12 months off between finishing high school and starting further study or training. Many Australian students are now deciding to defer their university offer for a year, or simply take a year off to gain more clarity around what they’d like to do.

This trend has led to a new industry. If you do a web search for ”gap year Australia”, nearly 8 million results pop up, with new programs being constantly developed covering everything from backpacking and holidaying in Australia and internationally, to working abroad opportunities, adventure tours, volunteering in remote communities locally and overseas, and even jobs with the military.

If you’re not sure what to do at the end of Year 12, you might like to consider taking a gap year. It can be a great idea for many reasons, some of which include:

  • If you’re not really sure what you want to do for a career
  • If you just want to take a break from studying
  • If you’re keen to travel and see more of Australia or the world
  • If you didn’t get into the specific course you were hoping for
  • If you want to gain skills and experience in the area you’d like to study – a ‘try before you buy’ approach to ascertain whether you’re really going to like it
  • If you want to make some money before undertaking further study

If you do decide to take a gap year, it’s important to give it some purpose and structure. There are plenty of things you could do, including undertaking activities that might support your job prospects down the track, or gaining some experience in the area that you would like to study. Here are some ideas:

  • Get a job: Working gives you valuable life skills and experience. Even if the job isn’t within the specific area you’d like to study in the future, a combination of formal study and some work experience is often more appealing to potential future recruiters. Of course, work experience in the area that you’re looking to study is better, so if there aren’t any opportunities for paid employment without previous training – investigate volunteer or unpaid work experience opportunities as well.
  • Travel: If you’ve saved up enough money, you could travel overseas or take a trip within Australia. To get the most out of your trip, and fund it at the same time, you could spend some time working while being a tourist. A UK based organisation that is currently catering to the rising demand of people taking gap years and wanting to participate in adventure travel is Real Gap Experience – with experiences ranging in length from two weeks to two years. Real Gap Experience have sent over 50,000 people on adventures to over 35 countries. Opportunities include volunteer work, paid work experience, teaching abroad or simply travelling around the world.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering is another great way to learn new skills while making a contribution to the community. There are many different volunteering options – including those overseas or within remote or outback areas of Australia. Check out the Seek Volunteer site which was created to provide an effective meeting place in Australia to connect volunteers with opportunities. There are currently around 700 organisations registered with several thousands of jobs covering a diverse range of locations, causes and areas of focus.
  • Go on a student exchange: Many countries offer recent school leavers the chance to attend school and live with a host family. These opportunities provide a unique experience where you’re not a tourist or guest – you live like a local with your host family and become immersed in the culture as a member of the local community while learning a new language (if applicable) and gaining valuable international experience. There are countless overseas study programs that can be undertaken. Student Exchange is an Australian organisation focused on helping students navigate the myriad of options and choices.
  • Make the most of it: Finally, a gap year can be a way to experience things you never have before, or wouldn’t as a student in Australia. Whether you take the opportunity to have a study break, or use it as a time to develop skills to support your future studies and/or job prospects, it can be a memorable and valuable time, and contribute significantly to your longer term career aspirations.

Do you think you’d like to take a gap year? Are you unsure which career path to take or which course to study? If so our Career Advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Coaching Services.

9 effective networking tips – even if you’re an introvert

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 Effective Networking Tips - Even If You’re An Introvert Research suggests that a huge proportion of jobs are now found through networking alone with many jobs never even advertised. This can make it difficult if you’re an introvert since the prospect of making small talk with a roomful of potential ‘contacts’ can be very daunting. If you find it hard to establish rapport with new people, we’ve discovered some sure-fire tips to help you handle it.

Small talk doesn’t come easy to many people and it can be a huge effort to establish rapport with people you’ve never met before. I was fairly shy when I was younger and I really struggled to open up to strangers. As a marketing communications manager for a global IT firm, I was expected to attend many functions for work and this was often intimidating for me. I learnt little tricks to help me navigate this essential ‘social’ part of my career and here’s a few I thought I’d share:

TIP # 1 – Prepare: If you get nervous talking to new people, research who’s going to be there and have some questions or topics pre-prepared. If it’s a networking event, you can talk about their career or yours – questions like ‘How did you get started?’, ‘What do you like best about what you do?’, ‘Why do you attend networking events?’, and ‘What other networking events do you attend?’ are all great starting points.

TIP # 2 – Realise you’re not alone: Think about how others feel and recognise that you won’t be the only person feeling this way. Remember that many other people are also not fond of networking events so just start a conversation – you might be helping someone else to feel more comfortable! ‘Have you been to this event before?’ is a good opening line.

TIP # 3 – Listen: Once you start a conversation, try to remain present. Ask lots of questions and listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t let nerves get the better of you by constantly worrying about what you’re going to say next. Practice your listening skills and be interested in what the other person is saying. This will drive further questions and contributions from you and hopefully you can have a mutually enjoyable exchange!

TIP # 4 – Smile and keep your body language positive: Don’t hide with your arms crossed in the corner. If you’re looking more casual and giving off positive vibes somebody might just walk up to you and initiate a conversation. This won’t happen if you’re not looking approachable.

TIP # 5 – Leverage social media: Introverts often communicate better in written format, so taking advantage of social media, email and other online forums is a great natural fit. You can use this strength to your advantage after any physical networking opportunities since many people never even take the opportunity to follow up. Sending a brief post-event email or LinkedIn connection request is a quick and easy way to cement your new contact.

TIP # 6 – Focus on quality not quantity: Don’t focus on how many people you talk to, but rather the quality of the conversations you do have. If you make one quality connection at an event, that’s better than talking to ten different people and making no connections. And forcing yourself to speak to lots of different people will put you under even more pressure whereas giving yourself permission to do much less takes the pressure off.

TIP # 7 – Learn to brag: Kidding……. kind of. You need to be vocal about your accomplishments, however this can be hard if you’re not that kind of person. Try thinking about your achievements and accomplishments as little mini stories you can tell about what you’re good at. Think about the things and projects you’ve worked on that make you feel good, and that you’re excited and/or passionate about. It will be easier to talk about these with strangers and it will feel more natural talking up your achievements.

TIP # 8 – Challenge yourself to a time limit: If you’re at a physical networking event that you really don’t want to be at, set yourself a time limit. This could be 30 to 45 minutes which really isn’t very long. Grab yourself a drink and something to eat and put some of the tips from above into action. You’ll be amazed at how quickly that time goes – who knows, once that time is up, you might even feel like staying longer!

TIP # 9 – Follow up: Since introverts are often good at written communications – this part is easy! Many people are terrible at follow up so just by dropping an email or sending a LinkedIn connection request (always with a short customised message reminding your contact who you are) means you’ll be ahead of the game in no time.

Some experts suggest that as many as 80% of jobs are not being advertised, but we find most people are still spending the majority of their job search effort looking for advertised roles. While networking will certainly help you to find a job and advance your career, it’s not just about that. Finding new clients, building new business relationships, and identifying partner opportunities are all benefits that will also result from networking. So what are you waiting for?

Do you cringe at the thought of networking? Would you like to learn new networking strategies designed to increase your job opportunities? If so, please see our Job Search Coaching Services and Career Counselling Services.

How to succeed in the Australian job market with limited local experience

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to succeed in the Australian job market with limited local experienceIf you’ve recently arrived in Australia and have been unsuccessful with your job applications so far, don’t despair. It’s tough finding a job when you don’t have one and it’s even tougher applying for roles when you don’t have any previous experience in the Australian job market. So how can you achieve success?

There are several things you can do to increase your chances of securing your first job in Australia. Here’s a few areas you could start with:

Check Your Qualifications: the first thing you need to do is make sure your qualifications are relevant and applicable to the local job market. For example, many medical, legal and technical roles require bridging courses or additional study in order to translate your qualification to the equivalent local qualification. Check this out with local industry associations to confirm what you need. Likewise if you have a qualification that is equivalent to something here – make sure to mention that so recruiters immediately understand.

Volunteer: if you have arrived in Australia, volunteering provides a great opportunity to build your local experience, while meeting new people and brushing up on your English skills if that’s an area of concern. It will help you acquire new skills, learn about the Australian culture and meet new people, while also demonstrating to recruiters that you are proactive. You can also ask for a reference after a while, which is another positive for local recruiters.

Research: if you’re applying for roles, make sure you know the industry, and do some specific research on the company. If you can mention something about the company in your cover letter and relate that back to your experience, that could be the key factor that makes you stand out in the recruiter’s eye as a viable candidate.

Network: connect with people in your industry through LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media. Attend network and industry events, join a local industry association if you can, and search for internships or other unpaid work experience opportunities to build your contact base.

Take Advantage of LinkedIn: follow companies you’d like to work for and influential people in your industry, as well as joining relevant groups and forums. Post responses to questions and start to get your name and opinions out there – doing this will help demonstrate that you are an expert in your field and will also contribute to the development of local networks.

Audit Your Skillset: make a list of skills and capabilities required to succeed in your target role, then work out what you’ve got and any areas you’re lacking. Within your Resume, it’s important to be able to demonstrate how you have these skills by using examples, rather than just saying you have ‘good communication skills’. Don’t forget to include relevant transferable skills or skills picked up during volunteer work.

Review Your Resume: make sure your Resume conforms to Australian standards which differs from many other parts of the world. Australian recruiters are interested in your accomplishments and what you achieved in previous roles as opposed to day to day ‘responsibilities’ in isolation. Make sure to provide some information about the company, the challenges, and the market – anything that shows context or scope of the role you held, because the recruiter may not have any knowledge or understanding of your previous company in another country. If you’re not sure about structure and format, ask a recruiter for advice, conduct some online research or engage a professional Resume Writing Service.

Brush up on Your English: many Australian employers worry about communication skills of skilled migrants which is often unjustified. However, poorly written Resumes might confirm this fear, making it hard for you to secure an interview. If English is your second language and you think it may be holding you back, take some classes and practice speaking English as much as possible. This includes while at home and by joining groups, volunteering etc. to get as much practice conversing as you can. Try speaking slowly and clearly to help improve your pronunciation.

Be Flexible: to other types of work – contract, freelance, part-time etc. If you are struggling to secure your dream role, open yourself up to other opportunities. Once you have proven yourself in this role, other opportunities may open up, or you can move on with more confidence and local experience under your belt.

There is no magic answer to this question, and there are many factors that will influence your success, however there are lots of things you can be doing to improve your chances. Would you like assistance from a professional resume writer or coach to prepare a winning Resume or conduct a customised job search for your next application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and/or our Job Search Coaching Services.

Will your job exist in five years?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Will your job exist in five years?According to experts, many of the jobs we take for granted today may disappear sooner than we think. With rapid technological advancements, globalisation, increasing government regulatory demands, demographic and lifestyle modifications, the pace of change is rapid. So how can you predict whether your job will still exist in the future?

According to a report released by The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) on ‘The New Work Mindset’, there are new sets of skills required to thrive in the new world of work, as well as a need to shift our mindset around our approach to jobs, careers, and work. Other research conducted over several years indicates that the way we work is increasingly being affected by automation, globalisation and collaboration. So how do we keep pace with change, and how do we even predict if our jobs will exist in the future?

The professions most likely to not exist in the near future are those where automation and/or technology is having the biggest impact and human interaction is not necessarily required. These include bank tellers, secretaries and administrative staff, traditional retail and customer service roles, travel agents, print journalists, manufacturing/assembly line workers, toll booth operations, IT support workers, and other less obvious areas like mining where automation is having a huge impact on human interaction; and university lecturers due to the rise in online training.

While all of these professions may not exist in years to come, most experts predict that while we lose jobs in one area or another, they will most certainly be replaced with other jobs – with many of the jobs of the future not even existing today. For example, some research indicates that over the past 25 years, Australia has lost 1 million jobs in manufacturing, administration and labouring, but gained more than 1 million jobs across the knowledge and service industries.

The jobs that will remain, appear, and continue to grow in demand will almost certainly require human traits such as common sense, compassion and interpersonal interaction, communication, teamwork, problem solving, innovation and creativity, project management and planning, training others, research and analysis, and writing.

The industries with predicted growth include:

  • Health care workers – nurses, pharmacists, radiographers, physiotherapists, community health workers, paramedics
  • Medical staff – GP’s, specialists, surgeons, psychiatrists, dentists
  • Emergency services workers
  • Social workers
  • Beauty and massage therapists, make-up artists, fitness instructors
  • Teachers, childcare workers, special education teachers
  • Policy analysts, statisticians, economists, financial brokers
  • Solicitors, actuaries, market research analysts
  • HR advisors, organisational psychologists, OH&S advisors
  • Gallery or museum curators
  • Detectives
  • Programmers, software engineers, web developers, database administrators

According to the FYA report, jobs are more related than we may have previously realised – with the good news indicating that when you train to work in one job, you may actually be acquiring the skills to work in 13 other jobs (on average). That means the skills you acquire for a role that may no longer exist in the future, will most likely be able to be used in several other roles.

Are you unsure which career path to take or which course to study? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Coaching Services.

How to fit study in while working

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to fit study in while workingOne of the most common barriers to completing further study while working full-time is the perception that you don’t have enough time. We have found that it can be done though – even for the busiest of people. It just takes commitment, some careful planning, and the willingness to perhaps give up some activities for a short period.

Many of our clients fit full-time study in while working full-time and at first it can seem like an impossible (or downright crazy) thing to do. For many people, there just isn’t any alternative for financial reasons. Others may want to study while working to support their knowledge with practical skills, or retain their position in the workplace while studying. Regardless of the reasons for undertaking study while working, it’s important to maintain a balance otherwise you are likely to burn out. In saying that, there are some periods that you will feel like all you are doing is working or studying. This is where some pre-planning is important.

Here are our tips:

  • Schedule everything: at the beginning of the semester or study period, you should receive notifications of exams, assessments and anything that needs to be handed in or completed. Record all these important dates into a wall or desk planner that is easily visible. Work out what needs to be done for each subject and schedule in time each day or week to do that. By all means, enter this into your electronic calendar, but having it on show permanently will urge you to do something towards your goals on a more regular basis. If you create a schedule at the beginning of the semester and highlight when certain things need to be done by, you’ll have a much better chance of success.
  • Split up your reading: for many people, reading is time consuming and can’t be done at the last minute. I don’t know about you, but I can only read a certain amount of information that needs to be retained in one sitting otherwise I just end up with brain fog. Similar to the above point, work out what you need to read and how long you have to complete it then create a schedule that helps you understand how much reading you need to do on each day or each week. Once you have your schedule, enter it into your planner and commit to doing it so you don’t end up overwhelmed at the end.
  • Maximise your commute: at one time in my life when I was studying while working full-time, I chose to catch the train so I could read and/or prepare for assessments even though I had access to free parking. Alternatively, if you must drive to work, you could investigate audio options. You can even convert PDF documents to audio files with various free online tools.
  • Use your time efficiently: keep some study notes with you at all times, so that when you are faced with a wait or down time, you can slot in some reading or preparation. Even short periods of 5 or 10 minutes can help – when you’re waiting in a queue, sitting at an appointment, or even working out at the gym (on a treadmill or bike) you can create some extra reading or study time.
  • Make sacrifices: while we don’t recommend abandoning all leisure activities or time spent with family and friends, there are going to be times when you need to sacrifice things. You could be the most organised person in the world, but freeing up blocks of time to focus on study will make all the difference in the long run. Think about how often you watch TV or mindlessly scroll through social media. Sometimes saying yes to a social event is an automatic response, when you could have a catch up at another time that doesn’t interfere with your study.

It’s important to be realistic and work out how you can make your study schedule work. Planning ahead and working when you’re most productive helps you to achieve more in less time. And, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan – simply make another time to catch up on what you’ve missed and keep your eye on the big prize at the end.

Are you interested in studying but unsure which path to take or course to study? If you would like some direction, please see our Career Guidance Counselling.

How to Change Your Career in 2017

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Change your Career in 2017 While we now know, a job for life is a thing of the past, changing careers is still a daunting prospect for most people. If you are in a position where you dread going to work each day or you feel trapped in an industry or company you despise, then you owe it to yourself to make it a priority to change your situation before it becomes desperate. Changing careers to achieve a more positive and enjoyable lifestyle takes courage and commitment, but it is possible – even in today’s uncertain job market.

However, in most cases you won’t simply be able to switch careers and expect the transition to be pain free. There are many things to consider before you jump ship. We’ve compiled a step by step guide that will help ensure you are ready for your next step – professionally, emotionally, and financially. Follow our guide, and you might just be facing the New Year with a new role and improved direction. 

  1. Think about why you want a career change – is it really your career you need to change or is it just your current role that isn’t satisfying? Make a list of your core strengths and weaknesses, then think about the things you like to do and those you don’t. Once you have completed your analysis, you can look outside your current role, industry, and/or company and try to determine what aligns with your strengths and likes. We often find clients who are great at what they do and are in a job that is seemingly a good fit for them, but the company they work for is not ideal. It is very important at this stage to understand where your issues actually lie before embarking on a career change. If it’s the job you dislike, then perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment could make you happier rather than a complete career change. If it’s certain aspects of your current role you dislike, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with slightly different responsibilities.
  2. Identify the direction you’d like to pursue – once you have decided that you do want to change careers, you need to think about where you’d like to head. If you have no idea, go back to your list of ‘likes’ and what you enjoy doing as well as what you’re good at. List your current skills, experience and education and think about how you might be able to transfer them to a different area. Research different careers using some of the numerous available online resources including those found in this month’s Useful Career Resources and Tools article. Identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed. Many people who come to us for Career Coaching Services don’t know what direction they want to head in but they can gain advice or confirmation that their interest in changing careers is valid and ideas on what direction they might be able to take. At this point, it is very important to involve other people – professionals, family, work colleagues you can trust – to help you identify and clarify your new direction. You could also consider taking a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment to better understand your personality type, which can help you to effectively identify and/or narrow down some new career choices.
  3. Decide how to make that change – from the overview you’ve developed, look at how you might be able to make a change. You may have a lot to consider before deciding if and when to make your transition, including financial, family and study considerations. Analyse your financial situation and how that could be affected. Think about further study required and how you could achieve that – find out whether some or all of it can be completed part-time while still working. Think about the fact that many careers look great to an outsider, but the reality of the day to day job isn’t so interesting. Investigate opportunities for volunteer work to help you gain the experience you need. Seek out and talk to people already working in your area of interest to gain a better understanding of their opinions and experiences to help you become more informed.
  4. Look to the future – when considering any career change, it is important not to dwell on the past and worry about how many years you’ve ‘wasted’ in a career you loath. Many people who’ve spent years working towards a career or role they longed for at a younger age are reluctant to ‘throw it all in’ but focus on the years you have left ahead of you and how your unhappiness working in a role you dislike will affect the rest of your life. Conversely, simply walking away from a career that you aren’t happy with isn’t always the answer either. Sometimes, changing small things can help. Taking up a hobby or volunteering in an area that you’re passionate about can change your mindset and give you something to look forward to. Likewise, seeking out a similar role in a different company or industry can often be the answer.

Changing careers can be a very rewarding experience, but will require strong courage and conviction from you. It may involve lots of hard work – especially if you need to complete additional training or study. Taking an honest look at why you want to change careers and what you hope to achieve is a great first step to ensuring you achieve a successful career change. 

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to determine whether or not changing careers is a viable next step for you? If so, please see our Career Coaching Services.

Useful Career Resources and Tools

Article by Belinda Fuller

Useful Career Resources and ToolsJob hunting and/or making a career change can be demoralising and downright confusing. Applying for endless roles, and not hearing back, or worse still receiving automated rejections within minutes of submitting an application can dent even the most positive person’s confidence. With a raft of online and digital resources out there to help, this article summarises our top recommendations and what they’re useful for.

I have listed just some of my favourites, and incorporated others from my career coaching and interview training colleagues. Our number one tip for job seekers is to always conduct comprehensive research. We suggest researching the role you are seeking to achieve; gaining an in depth understanding of the requirements of the role in terms of qualifications, skills and experience; identifying any industry specific recruiters you should be talking to; having an appreciation of the keywords used by employers to seek candidates; and understanding the salary expectations. Without this understanding you may not achieve the success you deserve.

Some of the many resources we use on a regular basis to help our clients include:

  • www.seek.com.au – in addition to listing open positions across Australia and within many global locations, Seek also provides significant other resources for job seekers. You can quickly and easily set up job alerts to ensure you don’t miss any viable opportunities and you have the option to establish a personal profile which can be viewed by potential employers who make direct contact with you. I also recommend clients use Seek as their personal online career database – it’s a great tool to help you clarify many aspects of your job search – use it to understand what roles are being advertised and where, identify keywords and transferable skills, clarify required qualifications, pinpoint companies and industries that may currently be advertising, identify potential relevant recruiters, and access current salary information.
  • http://insightsresources.seek.com.au/employment-trends – Seek’s insight and resources area contains a raft of information on employment trends (broken down by State).
  • www.seek.com.au/Recruiter – another of Seek’s resources that allows job seekers to search for some of Australia’s leading recruitment agencies and view their current job vacancies on SEEK. This is particularly helpful if you’re in a niche market with just a small number of recruiters retaining most of the advertised roles.
  • www.aqf.edu.au/aqf/in-detail/aqf-qualifications – this is a great resource for school leavers or people looking to change careers since it’s the simplest way we’ve come across to explain the hierarchy of qualifications.
  • www.myskills.gov.au – this government resource provides a national directory of vocational education and training (VET) organisations and courses. It is a federal government initiative targeted towards enabling consumers to search for, and compare, VET courses and training providers.
  • www.careerone.com.au – this site lets you browse jobs in a variety of ways and offers a range of career advice, time saving and job hunting tips under the career advice section. It can be used in a similar way to Seek to better understand your different career options.
  • www.livesalary.com.au/search-salaries.aspx – a specialist salary exchange website created as a resource for people seeking relevant, real time salary information. Salary data is entered by Australian employees and compiled anonymously so all Australians, free of charge, can determine how their salary compares to their colleagues. Salary information is available on literally thousands of different job titles with data shown in real time – so the moment salary data is entered it becomes available to the entire community.
  • www.fairwork.gov.au – The FairWork Ombudsman aims to provide an effective and efficient workplace regulator that is responsive to the evolving needs and expectations of the Australian Government and the community. This website is a great resource that provides a vast array of advice and information about workplace rights and obligations.
  • www.moocs.co – a simple central directory of existing free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available in K-12, higher education and other areas for anyone looking to learn. A Mooc is a free online course available to anyone and is a great concept if you don’t want to commit to a long term study option or would like to ‘try before you buy’. Most courses are structured similar to paid online courses in terms of the teaching and learning methods – where video, group chat, assignment and tests are all included – but they don’t generally provide academic credit for use in other traditional courses, nor will you have much (if any) interaction with the lecturer.
  • www.business.gov.au – if you are considering establishing your own consultancy or small business, this site provides everything you need to know – including business setup advice, taxation obligations, financial and insurance information, general business planning, information on employing people, grants and assistance, and a vast array of other useful facts.
  • www.google.com – with so many resources on recruitment, training and career advice available at a national, state and local level, it’s worth spending some time conducting some general research to identify what’s available in your particular area.
  • www.katieroberts.com.au/career-advice-blog/ – finally, our own blog contains a raft of articles on various topics relating to choosing a career, resume writing, job searching, LinkedIn, writing job applications, and preparing for interviews.

Are you searching for the right career but unsure which path to take? Do you trawl the internet looking for career and/or training inspiration? Are you struggling to make sense of all the career resources out there? Perhaps you are confused about which course to study.

If you would like help developing a comprehensive job search plan or career strategy, please see our Career Counselling Services and our one-on-one Career Guidance Counselling, which we provide over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.

6 Tips for Mature Age People Returning to the Workforce

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 Tips for Mature Age People Returning to the Workforce

How old is too old to be looking for a new job? This is a question many Australians are already asking themselves. With life expectancy at an all-time high, we now need to work much longer than we may have anticipated, simply to pay for our lifestyle. But for many people who have already retired, deciding you need to return to the workforce can be a difficult and overwhelming decision.

First and foremost, acknowledge it is normal to be feeling apprehensive. If you’re worried about people thinking you’re too old, focus on your expertise and previous career success and enlist the assistance of a professional Career Counsellor if you think it might help. Here’s our 6 top tips:

TIP # 1 – Give yourself credit: by focusing on what you can bring to your new employer through the successes you’ve achieved throughout your career. Don’t dwell on the negatives and talk to others in a similar situation to you.

TIP # 2 – Define your offer: by assessing your values, interests, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, abilities and goals and be clear about your qualifications, skills and experience in the context of the roles you are applying for. Put your recruiters’ hat on for a minute and think about what you have to offer that might make you stand out from others. If necessary, identify areas for re-packaging of old skills and potential areas for training and development.

TIP # 3 – Create some killer material: that makes you feel confident. The recruitment field has changed significantly in the past five years and continues to change at a rapid pace. Prepare an up-to-date, clear, and concise Resume tailored towards the roles you are seeking, and write a customised cover letter for each role you apply for. Research current Resume trends, ask a friend who knows about recruitment to help, or enlist the services of an experienced professional Resume Writer. Update (or create) your LinkedIn profile and achieve as many connections as you can. Think about creating a website if your field lends itself to showcasing your successes and experience in this way. For inspiration, visit our Career Advice Blog for a broad range of articles on job search strategies, LinkedIn, Resume Writing, and Selection Criteria preparation.

TIP # 4 – Build your job search network: when you’re searching for a new role, and particularly if you’ve been out of the paid workforce for a period, you can’t limit your search to just advertised jobs. Many roles are filled proactively via personal connections these days, so get in touch with everyone you know and tell them about your plans – this includes friends, family, old work colleagues, suppliers, neighbours, local store owners, everyone! Send people you haven’t spoken to in a while a well-crafted email, update your LinkedIn profile, and follow companies you’re interested in working for on all their social media sites.

TIP # 5 – Start applying for positions: and don’t overlook contract positions, volunteer work, or internships as a short term prospect. Likewise, if you’re seeking part-time work, a full-time contract can be a great first step while you find the perfect role. Part-time work is a little harder to come by and if you’re working you will develop some current experience (and contacts) while falling into the category of someone who is currently working – it’s often seen as ‘easier to get a job if you’ve got a job’.

TIP # 6 – Prepare for an interview: by thinking about how you’ll overcome nerves and any negative thoughts on the day since it’s difficult to be confident if you’re worried about how to explain your break or your age. Review common interview questions online or consider seeking advice from a trained Career Counsellor at this stage as they can help you formulate responses you’re comfortable with. However you go about it, practice makes perfect and stay focused on the positives, talking about your skills, experience, and knowledge of offer and how quickly you will be productive.

For anyone searching for work, it’s important to set yourself some short, medium and longer terms goals. This is particular important if you are returning to the workforce following any break since you may not achieve your ideal or ‘dream’ job straight away. Expect that you may need to work in a lower paid or less than ideal position initially to gain some experience. If this is the case, you should aim to quickly gain the experience, training and/or skills necessary to move on to the next role.

Are you trying to return to the workforce? Are you interested in some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? Would you like some customised one-on-one job search coaching to help you take steps to secure your ideal position in today’s competitive job market? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and/or Job Search Coaching service.

6 Things to Consider When Requesting a Pay Rise

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 Things to Consider When Requesting a Pay RiseThinking you deserve a pay rise and maybe even asking for one outright, might not be enough to achieve the outcome you are after. To ensure success, you will need to build a strong case that demonstrates to your manager why you deserve a pay rise – with proof that showcases your success and supports your case.

This process should ideally be ongoing right throughout your career, with your strategy relying on the development of a strong case demonstrating why you deserve it. Here are some simple steps to follow:

Step 1 – Understand your company process – the most appropriate time to have a pay rise conversation is during a formal one-on-one performance review or your annual appraisal. However, pay review processes differ from organisation to organisation and some don’t follow a formal process at all. If your company doesn’t hold regular reviews/appraisals, you should ask for an opportunity to present your case. Don’t ambush your manager though – simply tell them you’d like to have a meeting to discuss your performance and success moving forward – so there are no surprises for them – and they have the opportunity to prepare as well.

Step 2 – Get your timing right – when asking for a raise, this is important. If you’ve only recently started in the role, or the company is going through a bad patch, now is not going to be a great time to request a raise. Even if you’ve been over-performing in the role, if you haven’t been there long, you might raise suspicions about your long-term commitment by asking too soon. As a rule of thumb, if you have been in your role for at least six to 12 months, and have performed over and above what’s expected, then it may be an appropriate time to ask.

Step 3 – Record successes – continually strive for excellence in your work and maintain a file of your achievements. This should include formal performance evaluations, customer thank you or commendation letters and awards, as well as details of other minor wins. Casual comments from colleagues, superiors and customers can also be included, as well as details of new systems or processes you implemented or initiated, and tangible successes and achievements such as productivity improvements, new customer wins, revenue and/or profit gains. 

Step 4 – Develop a strategy – review your success file before developing a strong business case for presentation to your manager. Your case should detail achievements and showcase skills that are important for moving up the ladder – such as leadership, company knowledge, teamwork, and innovation. Research current salary trends in your market so you know what a fair target is; and it’s a good idea to practice what you’re going to say. Write a brief script and always quantify your achievements. Don’t be afraid to take notes with you so you can reference specific details without getting flustered.

Step 5 – Maintain professionalism – make sure you have all the information you need on hand to answer questions and delve into more detail if required. Relax and present your case in a confident, businesslike way. Respond to your manager’s questions and comments in as much detail as necessary. Acknowledge positive feedback and try not to disagree with negative feedback – instead use this as an opportunity to gain input into what you may have done better. After presenting your facts, ask for your pay rise outright. State what you feel you deserve based on your achievements and successes.

Step 6 – Accept the outcome but ask for more information – if your request is rejected, you should take the opportunity to request specific feedback on areas that are lacking. You should accept the decision with a positive attitude regardless of the result, however don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation as to how you can prepare for a possible future pay rise. This can sometimes be difficult to hear, but having your manager explain what you need to do in the future to achieve the pay rise you are after will hopefully help you succeed further down the track.

Asking for a pay rise is difficult for some, however preparation and a professional approach will ensure the best outcome. It is also important to treat it as a regular event – we suggest reviewing your career status and progress against your goals and aspirations ideally every 12-18 months.

Are you constantly listening, learning and planning? Would you like career advice to better understand what you should be doing to plan for the future? If so, please see our range of Career Counselling Services.