Monthly Archives: March 2014

5 Tips to Maximise Your Network

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 Tips to Maximise Your NetworkNetworks need to be built long before you actually need them, but for many people, it’s the last thing they’re thinking about in the busyness that is life! Networking in business is sometimes seen as something that’s more important for senior executives or business owners. But these days it’s often a case of ‘who you know’ so a great time to start building your network is now.

There are many approaches to networking and connecting with people who can help you achieve success in your career. Online and social media sites such as LinkedIn provide the ability to interact with experts from all walks of life. A vast majority of business people in Australia are now using LinkedIn to build and maintain their business networks, gain exposure and credibility, or connect with others who may otherwise be outside their network.

Having a LinkedIn profile makes it easy to maximise your network with just a little regular time invested. Having a strong online presence and network is becoming more and more important for success in a future job search. Making an effort to position yourself as ideal for the job you can see yourself in the future, and building your networks up will help you tap into that important resource when the time does come. It will also give you a better chance of being identified by recruiters for potential roles.

So how can you get underway with building that all important network if you’re just starting out. Here’s 5 tips to get you going:

Tip # 1: Make time to attend industry events and conferences and join relevant associations where you will meet like minded individuals. Be interested in other people and take the time to follow up on advice or information received.

Tip # 2: Create an online profile such as LinkedIn so that you can more easily keep track of people you meet. Make sure it’s full of good quality content that’s been optimised for search engines and always include a photo and as much ‘additional’ information as you can. Networking isn’t just about finding people who can help you locate a job. It’s also about learning from experts and building your own expertise and profile as well, so contribute to forums and post interesting articles of your own or links to articles that others have written.

Tip # 3: Keep track of your contacts and invite them to connect. Include contacts you meet across all areas of your life – this includes former business connections, people you work with day to day (colleagues, clients, suppliers, partners etc.); people you meet at conferences, seminars, industry events, and training courses; and even those you come across in social situations if it’s relevant.

Tip # 4: Be polite – take people’s suggestions and follow up on them. If a contact gives you a lead – whether it’s for a business development purpose or a potential job – follow it up and then feed back to that person on how you went. Likewise, if someone asks you for help, respond. Even if you don’t have something for them, be proactive in thinking about someone else who might be able to help or politely letting them know that in this instance you don’t have anything for them.

Tip # 5 Ask for recommendations – in the old days we asked for written references but these days LinkedIn makes it so easy to ask people for recommendations. Be selective about who you ask though and don’t use a scatter gun approach. You can even highlight parts of the recommendations in your summary to highlight positive feedback.

The important thing to remember is to just get started – the bigger your network, the further your reach. Don’t wait until you are desperate to madly scramble and start networking. You have to build and nurture your network as you go because in today’s constantly changing job market you never know when you might need it.

Do you have trouble networking? Are you lacking a good quality online profile to help you find and connect with like minded industry experts? If you would like assistance from a LinkedIn Profile Writer to build a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.

Body Language – 8 Tips for Interview Success

Article by Belinda Fuller

Body Language Tips for Interview SuccessEverything about your body language sends a message to the person you are talking to. It is particularly important to understand the impact of body language in an interview, because it could make or break your success. Body language includes everything from eye contact to posture, and these signals help the interviewer gain a deeper understanding into your attitudes towards the job.

Body language encompasses all forms of nonverbal communication – everything about our feelings, emotions, thoughts and motivations is usually expressed through changes to our body. These changes include our facial expressions, posture, eye contact, hand gestures and general body position and movement.

The technique of “reading” people by watching their body language is an age old technique. It’s used across many situations including when an interviewer is sizing up a candidate’s suitability for a particular role. Many psychologists believe that non-verbal communication can reveal more about what we are thinking than what we actually say. For this reason, it is essential in an interview situation to pay close attention to your body language so it supports the story you are telling. Here are our tips for success:

1.  Smile – greet the interviewer with a smiling hello which will create a warm and inviting engagement straight off the bat. Attempt to maintain a relaxed smile throughout the interview but don’t try too hard because it could look like you’re faking it.

2.  Watch Your Posture – sit up straight in a neutral or slightly forward position to show you’re interested. Leaning back can be portrayed as being arrogant or too relaxed and slouching just appears lazy. Leaning too far forward can be seen as aggressive.

3.  Maintain Eye Contact – eyes that dart around a lot are a sure fire indication that someone is lying or not sure of themselves. It is important to maintain eye contact with the interviewer when either of you are talking in order to convey confidence.

4.  Don’t Stare – following on from tip # 3, while it is important to maintain consistent eye contact with the interviewer, if you ‘lock eyes’ or stare at someone, this can be perceived as aggressive or even worse – creepy. Staring at someone is often used as a way to distance yourself or assert authority and this is definitely not something you want to do in an interview! Try to maintain a balance by breaking eye contact momentarily every so often.

5.  Don’t Do Too Much Talking With Your Hands – many people ‘talk with their hands’ and it is fine to be expressive in this way, however try not to use sharp hand movements that can be construed as ‘aggressive’. These include excessive pointing or hand chopping.

6.  Don’t Cross Your Arms – this can indicate that you are defensive, resistant, unfriendly or simply not engaged with the process. Open arms resting comfortably in your lap will portray a much more approachable nature.

7.  Make Sure Your Expression Matches Your Response – if you’re talking about something that you’re excited about like your dreams and passions and your facial expression is deadpan – this is simply not going to translate as authentic to the interviewer. Likewise if you’re talking about something serious – maintain that expression throughout, and then try to smile soon after.

8.  Avoid Fidgeting – it will just distract the interviewer from what you are saying and could make you appear disinterested. Biting nails, playing with hair, squirming around in your chair, tapping your fingers or feet, or scratching are all no no’s. Apart from being a distraction, it could make you appear as someone who can’t properly focus – even for just a few minutes.

Remember, it is an interview – much of your body language that is construed as negative comes down to a lack of confidence so make sure you prepare. Do your research on the company and job and practice answering potential questions beforehand. Remember the old adage, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” and focus on communicating your worth in both verbal and non-verbal ways.

Do you struggle with nerves and negative body language during interviews? If you would like assistance from an Interview Coach to help you prepare for a job interview, to maintain positive body language throughout, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Skills Training service.

5 Questions to Ask Before Becoming a Freelancer

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Beome a FreelancerMany people we talk to dream of becoming a consultant or freelancer in their specialist line of work. There are countless things to consider before making the leap into the freelance world with many who’ve already achieved success providing advice for free – just Google becoming a freelancer to see what I mean. But what are the first steps to success?

Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. This month we take a look at the basic things to consider before quitting your secure job to work for yourself. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

Question # 1: Why do I want to become a freelancer? It is important to understand your underlying reasons to determine if this is the right decision. If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While, it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and be passionate about doing that for others on a day to day basis in order to succeed as a freelancer – if that’s you, then read on.

Question # 2: What am I going to offer my clients? You’re great at what you do and know a tonne about your area or industry but pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days. That means, what you do may be the same as what many others do. Do you really have enough expertise to instil confidence that clients will pay you for that know-how? If you think you do, decide what you will offer and create a brand/identity that sets you apart from your competition. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it stands out. It might be important at this point to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects. Being a ‘Jack of all Trades’ is often not the most effective road to success.

Question # 3: Am I willing to do everything? Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be way outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource some or all of these areas, but in the beginning you will probably need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.

Question # 4: Is now the right time financially? Many people think freelance work is going to provide instant financial rewards with a freelancer’s hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s. Keep in mind you will spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes you to sell to them and generally run your business may not be billable. Many factors come into determining how much extra (unbillable) time you spend on each project, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. Alternatively, you could start small while still working in paid employment – but don’t compromise either job for the other with half hearted efforts.

Question # 5: Am I motivated enough? With no boss to hold you accountable, you need to do what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it. Your clients (and your income) will depend on it because usually freelancers don’t get paid until they deliver, or at least until part of the project is completed. This is a difficult adjustment for many people. Understand you will need to be more mindful of budgeting and you will also need to ensure a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.

In today’s technically advanced world, the opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life. But it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to determine whether or not freelancing is the future for you? If so, please click here to view our Career Counselling Services.

Education Vs. Experience – 5 Tips For Your Situation

Article by Belinda Fuller

Education Vs ExperienceDo you have qualifications coming out of your ears but not much experience in the field where you are seeking work? Or, conversely, do you have years of experience and proven success but no formal qualifications. We talk to people every day that fall firmly into one or the other of these camps.

The debate as to whether education or experience is more important when searching for a new role often rears its head when working with clients. The discussion becomes even more passionate in tighter job markets. Whilst it is great to have both – if you don’t, there are ways to optimise your situation:

1.  Highlight What Matters: whether you are a recent graduate with very little practical experience or a 20+ year experienced manager with no formal qualifications, relevant expertise matters to recruiters. Try to draw out what you’ve done in the context of ‘success’. Look at the achievements you’ve made in previous roles (or personally) and relate these back to the requirements for the role. For someone with oodles of work experience this might be easy – but make sure you highlight ‘relevant’ experience and substantiate it with examples and successes. If you’re a graduate or have little practical experience in the area you’re applying, highlight your expertise as it relates to the specific job requirements. This could include areas where you excelled during your studies; or soft skills such as team work, flexibility, confidence and a positive attitude. And don’t forget to consider part-time or volunteer work, as well as group and other projects you completed while studying.

2.  What if I Have No Work Experience? In many fields, qualifications are an essential pre-requisite – if you want to be a doctor you need to study first! However, with most areas, it’s great if you can do some kind of work while you study. Otherwise there isn’t much (other than academic achievements) to differentiate you from the next person with the same qualification. Even part time work that has no relationship to the area you are now seeking work in can count for experience and will certainly give you the chance to discuss transferrable and ‘soft’ skills. If, however, you are a recent graduate with very little work experience, highlight your academic achievements and think about the skills you developed while studying or even during school (think about sporting and other extracurricular activities).

3.  What if I Don’t Have any Formal Qualification? While qualifications are essential for many jobs, for some, experience may well count for more. I have several close friends in very senior sales roles who don’t have any formal qualifications. They have worked all over the world, working their way up from sales representative to senior executive roles today. This means they have a lot of expert knowledge in their area and they can demonstrate success. Again this comes back to highlighting what matters to the recruiter. They want to know what’s in it for them. Ask yourself what you can offer that the next candidate can’t. Think about your successes in the context of the role you’re going for and put yourself in the recruiter’s position – why do they need you in this role?

4.  Identify Your Transferrable Skills: everyone has transferrable skills whether you’ve studied and not worked or worked and not studied. If you need to have certain knowledge or skill sets that are learnt during study then demonstrate how you have that. If you have the degree but no experience, think about all the transferrable skills you learnt while studying. Again, look at group assignments and discussions you participated in.

5.  Think About Studying:  if you have no formal qualifications and feel that this is holding you back, you could always consider enrolling in a course. There are so many courses on offer out there – it doesn’t have to be a university degree. Do your research first and speak to people in the industry or area you’re seeking work in. That way you’ll get expert advice as to the types of courses and qualifications that will be most respected.

Today, it is important to have a good mix of both with employers often looking for unique individuals with diverse skill sets that will add significant value to their organisation. However, there are ways to maximise your personal situation.

Are you struggling to demonstrate how you can add value to roles even though you know you could? Would you like help maximising your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing or Career Counselling Services.

How to Find a Job on LinkedIn

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Find a Job on LinkedInLinkedIn recently announced it had crossed the 50 million member threshold across the Asia Pacific region with more than 5 million members in Australia. That’s a big percentage of our population – yet we still get asked on a daily basis what LinkedIn is really all about. Would you like to make better use of LinkedIn to find a new role or boost your personal brand and/or career profile? With LinkedIn recently crossing that 50 million member mark within the Asia-Pacific region, it is becoming more important to better understand how you can use it to better your chances of securing your dream job.

1.  Get Noticed: your profile should be optimised with content in as many sections as possible. Even if you don’t voluntarily supply recruiters with your LinkedIn profile URL (which you should), most will search for and find it. It has been proven that information found online has a big influence on hiring decisions and LinkedIn is the perfect place to help you stand out from other candidates. At a minimum, include a strong headline that showcases who you are, a high quality keyword optimised summary, together with a detailed list of work experience which includes achievements and successes, courses, and any other relevant information. Make sure to personalise your profile and inject some personality because that is what will differentiate you. And contrary to what we advise for resumes, always include a current, professional photo (head shot only and preferably taken against a plain background).

2.  Get Engaged: Once you’ve addressed the basics, aim to add sections on a regular basis – look at your ‘profile strength meter’ and try to achieve (and maintain) an ‘all-star’ profile. Join groups, follow companies that interest you, use LinkedIn to research companies or people that you might be interviewing with, comment on articles, post interesting links yourself. The more engaged you are, the more value you will achieve from LinkedIn.

3.  Get in The Know: Understand how recruiters are using LinkedIn’s Talent Services, which include LinkedIn Recruiter enabling recruiters to search the membership base in a targeted way and LinkedIn Jobs where companies post job ads to automatically target relevant candidates.

While LinkedIn will regularly send you a list of advertised jobs you might be interested in, you should also make a habit of visiting the ‘Jobs Section’ to identify suitable vacancies. To do this, simply click on ‘Jobs’ in the menu at the top of your profile. You’ll then be able to search for specific titles, keywords or companies that interest you, and view a list of ‘jobs you may be interested in’. Keeping your content current and defining your specific skills and expertise well will help ensure roles are more accurately targeted towards your experience and skillset.

4.  Get Connected: Build your network by sending invitations to connect to anyone you know and trust. You can also send introductions through one of your direct connections which will help you to connect with other members who might be two or three degrees away from you. In addition, InMails are available for purchase. These are private messages you can send to members with whom you are not currently connected. You should also ask for recommendations from previous managers, clients and colleagues.

5.  Get the Word Out: We don’t usually advise sending out a blanket message to everyone in your network, but being selective about advising your network that you are seeking work is important. If possible, you could consider updating your headline or summary or even post an update stating that you are ‘seeking new opportunities’. You never know who might see that and realise you are the perfect candidate for a role they are trying to fill.

6.  Consider Upgrading to a Jobseeker Premium Account: If you’d like access to premium tools, tutorials and tips, the ability to contact key decision makers in your industry, the ability to become a ‘featured applicant’, and access to exclusive groups then you might also consider becoming a Jobseeker Premium member. For more information about that solution, you’ll need to research whether it’s relevant by clicking on ‘Upgrade’ within your LinkedIn profile.

The more complete your LinkedIn Profile, the more jobs LinkedIn will be able to suggest to you. This is a two-fold exercise, because obviously the more complete your profile, the more relevant and appealing it will also be to potential recruiters actively viewing your profile, so focus your attention here first, then start to explore the other ways you can tap into jobs within your LinkedIn network.

Are you confused about the value that LinkedIn can offer during the job search process? Not sure where to start? If so, a LinkedIn Profile Writer can help! For more information, please see our LinkedIn Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.

Is Your Voicemail Greeting Hindering Your Job Chances?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is Your Voicemail Message Hindering Your Job ChancesFirst impressions do count. Even though the old adage ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ is true, in business situations, the fact is that you will be judged on your voicemail greeting. How much influence do you think it has on a potential employer’s decision to interview you? None? Some? A lot? I’m willing to bet it’s a lot more than many people think.

Your job application could be spot on, your experience and background even more perfect, but if a potential employer is put off by your voicemail greeting, your chances of securing an interview can be significantly diminished. Have you ever called someone and cringed at their greeting? I call numerous people for professional purposes on a daily basis and often need to leave voicemail messages. I am constantly amazed at how unprofessional many people’s greetings sound. Some of the messages I’ve heard include:

  • “Hi. You know the drill.” This sounds unprofessional and lazy. I do know the drill, but I would prefer you to identify yourself so that I know I’ve called the right number.
  • “Please leave a short 10 second message for conversion to text.” This can create anxiety in the caller as they try desperately to squeeze their message into 10 seconds! Inevitably the caller is cut off and forced to call back or send a text message with more details.
  •  “Hi this is (name). I don’t check voicemail regularly so don’t leave a message. Please send me a text message or email me and I’ll get back to you.” Really? If I wanted to send you an email I would have sent you an email and as for sending a text message, isn’t it the same device? I’m recruiting and I’m calling to speak to people. If they’re not available, I’m leaving a message so they can call me back. If I was a recruiter and faced this message – I might just move on to the next candidate.
  • “Hello … hello? … hello? … Just Kidding, leave me a message and I’ll call you back soon.” I don’t think this one needs any explanation. If you are 12, this one might be ok, but any older, you need to ditch it and start over.
  • “Thanks for calling, leave a message.” This is OK, however, again you really need to identify yourself, so the caller is sure they have the right person.

There are many other no no’s when it comes to voicemail greetings – some of which include:

  • Going into great detail about why you didn’t pick up the phone. We are all really busy and we know you probably are too – however we don’t need to know what you might be up to while we’re trying to call you. Just let us leave a message and then call back as soon as you are available.
  • No greeting – i.e. the automated “The number you have reached is not available. Leave a message.” This comes across as lazy – if you haven’t gotten around to setting up your voicemail, recruiters may question your level of proactivity and ability to undertake the role.
  • Greetings with excessive background noise – especially loud music or voices that sound like you’re at a party.
  • No option to even leave a voicemail message – this one is annoying. Recruiters have limited time and very often have lots of options in terms of applicants. If there is no facility to even leave a voice message, it may be possible that they don’t get around to calling you back.

Your voicemail could be the first contact a potential employer has with you so you should ensure it sounds professional and lets the caller know that you will call them back. Write down your greeting before recording it because it’s much easier to read something than to ad lib it. A greeting like this is brief but works well:

“Hi, this is (name). Unfortunately I’m unable to take your call right now. Please leave a detailed message at the tone along with your name and phone number. I‘ll return your call as soon as I can. Thank you.”

The main criteria should be that your greeting is clear, succinct and professional sounding. Don’t um or ah (that’s where writing it down helps) and make sure you identify yourself and the fact that the caller should leave a message and you will return their call.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Do you think you need to change your voicemail greeting? If you would like assistance with your job applications and job search, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching Services.