Monthly Archives: December 2013

Success vs. Happiness in Your Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

Success vs Happiness

In today’s frantic world, happiness is something that everyone craves. You only have to look at the books currently available on achieving and maintaining happiness to agree that there are many writers out there making money (and maybe achieving the success they crave) by helping others in the pursuit of happiness.

So what is happiness? The definition of happiness is basically the quality or state of being happy – i.e. bliss, contentment, pleasure or satisfaction. Put in simple terms, happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good. Why is it that some people are just naturally happy with their jobs and their lives while others aren’t? Happiness is more a state of mind with studies consistently indicating that happiness doesn’t have much to do with materialistic achievements or what we might consider traditional ‘success’. That means the more money we earn and the higher status we achieve won’t necessarily make us happy – not rocket science. But what will make us happier in our careers?

Studies also reveal that happiness has a lot more to do with your outlook on life and the quality of your day to day relationships. While nobody (at least nobody I know) is 100% happy all of the time, some people are consistently more content or fulfilled than others – happy with what they have and happy to pursue what they want. This means that if you are feeling like you’re in a dead end career and you don’t get on with your colleagues, your happiness will most likely be affected in a negative way.

To increase your levels of happiness, you don’t need more ‘success’, you need to be more positive. My husband uses the ‘glass half full’ analogy all the time and I love it – is your glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’? If you constantly approach things with a ‘glass half empty’ attitude, try to turn this around and look at things in a more positive light because happiness really is about being more content and appreciating things for what they are.

Achieving happiness at work doesn’t mean quitting your job and pursuing an entirely new career. You need to be realistic about your future and start planning to work towards achieving more success and/or happiness. I wrote an article earlier this year on How to be Happy at Work. In it, I mentioned the importance of taking responsibility for your own destiny. You are the one that can make a difference and only you can control how you feel about your work. If you’re feeling unhappy at work, there are many things you can do to feel more positive – in that article, I provided 8 tips to get you started.

We also know that the happiest employees are those that feel their contribution is making a difference, however sometimes your contribution goes unnoticed and feelings of resentment and lack of fulfilment come into play. If you’re in this situation, you need to ask for feedback. Some companies are great at recognising ‘success’ and others not so much. Chances are you know you’re achieving success, but you just want acknowledgement – ask for it and if you’re not getting what you need from your employer, now might be the perfect time to start planning for change.

The important thing to remember is that success does not always drive happiness. Happiness is, in a lot of ways, more about your state of mind. If you’re not happy in your job, you need to work out the reasons why and then make plans to change that. Don’t be afraid of change and don’t ever feel like you’re destined for a lifetime in a career that makes you miserable.

Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to find your ideal career so you can enjoy every day rather than spending all week counting down the days until the weekend? Life is too short to stay in a job you hate! For more information, please see our Career Guidance and Career Coaching services.

How to Handle Behavioural Interview Questions

Article by Belinda Fuller

When using behavioural interview questions, the interviewer will usually identify core behaviours they’d like to see in a candidate. Obviously these behaviours are based on the position and the requirements of the specific role they are recruiting for and will vary accordingly.

There is absolutely no need to be scared of these types of questions – in fact quite the opposite – behavioural questions provide you with the ideal opportunity to showcase why you’d be perfect in the role. It’s important to remember that the recruiter will be looking for specific examples that demonstrate how you behaved in certain situations – not hypothetical answers on how you think you’d respond or behave.

You need to think back to previous roles and detail real-life examples from your work. To prepare for these types of interviews, you should first ascertain the competencies you think the employer might be looking for. This is where research is important. You can search for similar jobs online, read job ads and more detailed job descriptions, talk to the recruiter and ask their advice, and speak to trusted colleagues or superiors in your network. Most companies will be looking for some common skills that you can prepare for as standard, then you’ll want to consider what other competencies they’ll need that relate specifically to the role. Common competencies could include communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and a proactive/innovative approach.

The best way to prepare for behavioural interview questions is by using the STAR technique. I’ve written articles before about how to prepare STAR responses – click here for detailed information. Briefly, thinking about examples in the context of STAR helps you formulate clear and concise responses to behavioural interview questions.

STAR stands for:

  • Situation – What was the circumstance, situation or setting you found yourself in?
  • Task – What was your role?
  • Action – What did you do and how did you do it?
  • Result – What did you achieve? What was the outcome and, if possible, how does it relate to the position you are applying for?

Once you have decided which examples to use for each identified competency, you simply write down your dot points next to each of the STAR points then formulate a response that you feel comfortable talking through. Don’t scrimp on detail – talk the recruiter through from start to finish but make sure you are concise and specific – and don’t ramble. You can use examples where the outcome wasn’t ideal so long as you explain how you learnt from it for next time.

The most important predictor of success with behavioural based interviews is preparation and practice. The more you think about and practice how to tell your story – the more concise you will be during the interview. Practice your responses so they flow – tell the recruiter some interesting stories about your real-life competencies and they’ll be more likely to consider you as a viable candidate. Have you been involved in a behavioural based interview? How did you go? How did you prepare?

Would you like to understand more about how to prepare for behavioural based interviews? Perhaps you’d like to put together specific responses that suit your experience and the roles you are seeking, as well as participating in a mock interview. If so, click here for our interview training services.

Not Sure What to do When You Leave School?

Article by Belinda Fuller

When our career counsellors meet with school leavers or younger students thinking about what they might want to do once they leave school, there is often much confusion and many questions around study options and pathways. School leavers can feel significant pressure to make the right decision about further education and training, but sometimes taking an alternative path first is a viable option.

There are many avenues that school leavers can pursue. Some of these include:

  • Continuing with further education through University
  • Studying one of the thousands of courses offered through TAFE, private RTOs (Registered Training Organisations), or Community Training Providers
  • Securing an Australian Apprenticeship
  • Finding employment
  • Participating in community or volunteer work
  • Taking a break to travel
  • Starting your own business
  • Or a combination of these options

Choosing what you want to do with your life should be based on what you’re interested in and what you enjoy doing. You probably have a pretty good idea by now about what you’re good at academically and where your other strengths lie, so pursuing options that follow these strengths is ideal. However, don’t stress if your career options don’t appear obvious, or you feel like what you enjoy doing may not be attainable as a long term career.

It could be helpful at this point to complete an online career assessment, undertake some research on one of the many useful career sites, or participate in a career counselling session with a qualified practitioner who can help you identify your passions and make some viable choices regarding career options.

Some interesting online resources for school leavers include:

http://www.myfuture.edu.au/ – a national, online career exploration and information system that can help you identify different career options by analysing your skills, interests, values and aspirations.

http://www.jobguide.deewr.gov.au – a site describing 1500+ occupations which can provide a great starting point for making career decisions.

http://www.myuniversity.gov.au/ – a broad range of information about Australian universities and other higher education providers.

http://www.education.gov.au/career-bullseye-posters – this site helps you look at subjects you like at school and what careers might be of interest.

One important point to remember if you are considering going to University straight from school – you may need to check the course requirements to make sure you meet the prerequisites. Ideally, this is best done in Year 10, before you pick your Year 11 and 12 subjects.

It is important to do something when you leave school – both for your self-esteem and also to show future employers that you are proactive and innovative. If you really have no idea what you want to do with your life, choose something to do, but don’t base your decision on what your friends are doing or what you feel pressured to do. There are many resources out there to help you identify what you might be good at, and most importantly, what you would enjoy – seek them out and take advantage.

Are you feeling lost? Would you like career advice and assistance from a Career Coach to work out viable career options? If so, please see our range of Career Counselling services.