Monthly Archives: October 2013

How to be Happy at Work

Article by Belinda Fuller

There have been countless studies and research projects conducted to try to discover the secret to happy employees. In recent years, it has become huge business, as companies recognise the significant benefits that come from achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. Apparently almost every business metric that can be measured (e.g. productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, absenteeism, safety etc.) can be directly impacted by how happy the employees are. So, it’s in an organisation’s best interests to make sure its employees are happy.

Despite this, many people we speak to are unhappy at work. No matter what the study, happy employees tend to be those that enjoy what they do and feel valued and recognised by their employer as doing a good job. It’s a well known fact that well managed organisations who trust and support their employees to do their jobs are the ones with the happiest employees. However, there are many organisations out there that just aren’t achieving that balance. There are several factors that you have control over. Here are some tips to help you achieve more happiness at work:

1.  Avoid negativity – choose to be happy rather than down. Instead of dwelling on negative aspects of your work or things you can’t change, focus on what you like. Avoid negative people, find colleagues you like spending time with and don’t get involved in negative conversations or gossip. Greet and smile at everyone you encounter and you’ll be surprised at how many of your smiles are returned.

2.  Do something you like every day – you want to be happy in your work so that means avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Identify aspects of your job you love, and skills and interests that inspire you. Think about how you can be even better at what you do. Approach your superior with suggestions on how you might be able to incorporate more of these aspects into your day to day work.

3. Be Organised – arrive a little early so you don’t have a rushed start to your day. Plan your day and only make commitments you can meet. A common cause of unhappiness at work is missed deadlines which causes unnecessary stress and worry. By planning your workload, checking your diary, and making daily ‘to do’ lists, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines. And make sure you factor in some time for breaks – they’ll re-energise and invigorate you and help you feel more positive.

4. Ask for Feedback – the happiest employees are those that feel their contribution matters. You can’t change what you don’t know, so if you don’t receive regular feedback on your work, ask for it. You could also ask customers and colleagues for feedback as well as your boss. Chances are you know how you’re performing but you just want acknowledgement – it’s a proven driver of workplace happiness.

5. Improve your workspace – think about how your space could be more pleasant. Keep your desk tidy and invest in some accessories to help you stay organised. Personalise your space with photos, flowers, a plant, and positive affirmations – anything that contributes to making you feel happy and positive.

6. Continue to learn and grow – take responsibility for your continuing education and professional development. If your company supports you by paying for courses and giving you time off, take advantage. If they don’t – do it anyway – you are the one with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally so take charge and make investing in training a priority.

7. Know what’s going on – seek out the information you need to do your job well. Some companies are great at communicating information about the company, department and current projects being worked on – others aren’t so good. If your company is one of the latter then develop your own networks and use them to find out what you need to know.

8. Make plans – if all else fails, it might be time to start thinking about a career move. There’s nothing like planning your exit to make you smile. But don’t compromise your future by not giving your best. If you come across as happy and committed you’ll be more likely to receive a complimentary and positive reference when the time comes.

Remember, you are responsible for your own destiny. If you’re feeling unhappy at work, there are many things you can do to feel more positive and happy.

Are you feeling unhappy in your work? Would you like career advice from a Career Coach to help you plan your next career move? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

5 Things You Need to do When Job Searching

Article by Belinda Fuller

1.    Establish a plan: today’s job market is not only competitive, it’s also very complicated. There are many avenues you need to tap into – including advertised and unadvertised job markets. You need to be organised and you also need to find and apply for all the positions you may be suitable for. A detailed plan will help you do this. See my previous article Winning Job Search Strategies for detailed tips on developing a structured job search strategy.

2.    Update your LinkedIn Profile: include comprehensive content and make sure you keep it updated. Recruiters are using LinkedIn more and more to search for candidates, so it’s also important to optimise your profile with keywords, so that you can be easily found. Make sure to include a current professional photo, and try to update every section with as much detail as you can. Many people don’t include a summary, and this is a mistake. Use the summary to introduce yourself – give an overview of your key skills, experience and strengths to provide readers with a sense of who you are and the value you could bring to an organisation. Inject some personality into your LinkedIn profile – it doesn’t need to be as formal as your Resume content. Use LinkedIn to research recruitment consultants and HR managers from companies you’d like to target. Join relevant groups, follow companies you’d like to work for, and connect with others in your industry.

3.    Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter: we strongly recommend writing a customised cover letter for every job you apply for making sure to address as many ‘job requirements’ as you can. We also recommend tailoring your Resume to suit each role. This may simply require a reordering of key skills, highlighting a particular achievement, or de-emphasising points that may not be relevant. Review the job ad, or even better the detailed job description, and ensure that if you have the experience or skills they are asking for, it’s well highlighted and easily understood.

4.    Prepare for an Interview: the biggest mistake you can make when searching for a new job is not preparing for the interview. Research the company you are interviewing by reviewing their website and latest news headlines as well as checking their LinkedIn and/or Facebook pages so you know what’s going on in their world right now. Prepare some relevant questions about the company and the role. Ensure you dress appropriately, arrive on time (or a little early), think about the questions they might ask and practice your responses, listen to the interviewer’s questions and answer as succinctly and clearly as possible. See my previous article 5 Things You MUST DO to Prepare for an Interview for more tips.

5.    Network: think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. Remember there are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face to face and online networking groups. Seek out relevant professional associations and networking groups – attend seminars and connect with people in your industry.

Remember, today’s job market is highly competitive and complex so you need to be organised and prepared in order to succeed. There are many avenues to pursue, so plan your strategy to make sure no stone is left unturned.

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to develop a winning resume, detailed job search strategy, or update your LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to get help with your interview preparation. If so, please see our Resume Writing Services, Career Coaching Services and LinkedIn Profile Writing Services. 

How to Build Your Personal Brand

Article by Belinda Fuller

Branding has long been synonymous with large companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Nike, Coca Cola, Amazon and McDonalds – they’re valuable brands whose logos and image are recognised globally. These companies, and others, are all experts at ensuring their prospective customers recognise the value they hold in providing a solution to a problem or in addressing a particular need.

It’s thought that personal branding was first defined when Tom Peters (a leading American writer on business management practices, best known for co-authoring the book titled ‘In Search of Excellence’) wrote an article called “The Brand Called You” in 1997. In this article, he talked about how everyone is a brand with a chance to stand out. Tom Peters is quoted as saying “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

Since then, the concept has increased in popularity and in recent years has become even more prominent as the economy has tightened and competition for jobs intensified. A personal brand can be more simply defined as how other people see you – their perspective on what you offer in your field of expertise or what you’re best known for.

Personal branding relies on you having an in depth understanding of your strengths, skills, passions, and values, then using that information to stand out from your competitors. To develop yourself as a brand isn’t easy, especially if you’re not a natural marketer. Start by working out what makes you unique. To build a strong personal brand, you need to get your story straight in terms of what you offer. Think about achievements you have made and the things you do that make you stand out. Do you have any special skills that set you apart? What would your clients, superiors and colleagues think were your key strengths? Put it all together into a comprehensive statement about you – your brand positioning. Then, just like large companies make significant efforts to maintain consistency with their brand messaging across all avenues of communication, you need to do the same.

Here are some tips to help you build your personal brand:

  • Use LinkedIn – create a high quality professional profile and keep it updated. Optimise your content for search engines, change your URL to represent the best combination of your first and last name (search on vanity URL for instructions to do this), get as many recommendations and endorsements as you can to build credibility, join groups, participate in discussions, answer questions, interact with your clients and colleagues, post updates and links that position yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Network – build and maintain contacts inside and outside of your current company so your brand achieves optimum visibility.
  • Start a Blog – it provides a great way to share information as well as initiating two way conversations with your target audience. Write regular, short articles on your area of expertise and promote them through your website and/or social media. Blog articles help people better understand your value – what you’re good at and what you’ve achieved for others and when people like what they read, they usually share it with their own networks.
  • Participate in Online Forums – seek out relevant online forums and participate regularly by answering and posting questions. A great way to find forums that are relevant to you is to do an online search for questions you often get asked in your line of work.
  • Use Social Media Wisely – especially your personal pages – think about your brand every time you post. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing in your Resume or on your personal LinkedIn page.
  • Be Consistent – make sure your written Resume, Cover Letter and any online content is all consistent with your personal brand.
  • Use Twitter – to position yourself as an expert, comment, post, and link to interesting articles or announcements that relate to projects or other aspects of your work, to demonstrate the value your brand offers.
  • Keep Up To Date – stay abreast of the latest news in your field and maintain all your social media sites so they are consistent and up to date with all your achievements and current activities.

In today’s competitive job market, you need to start thinking of yourself as a brand and ensure that brand shines through all your communications – including your Resume, your social media and any other online content.

Would you would like help from a Career Coach to identify your unique value and create a professional Resume or online presence? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services, LinkedIn Profile Writing Services and Career Counselling services.