Monthly Archives: July 2014

Is it Ever Too Late to Change Careers?

Article by Belinda Fuller

We recently posted a graphic on Facebook which showed some highly successful people who made it big after they hit 40. People like the founders of McDonalds, Coca Cola and KFC (in fact – these three were all in their 50s). It really hit home. While there are millions of entrepreneurs out there in their teens and 20s, it prompted us to ponder this question.

Clients often seek our advice on whether or not they are too old to change careers.  As a generation, we are living longer with better health and higher levels of vitality than ever before, so what age for change is really too old?

The answer to that question is different for everyone. It depends on many factors which can only be evaluated by each individual. Everyone has different levels of risk tolerance and adaptability to change and for many a major career change is just too challenging. But for others, there may not be any real reason to wait any longer.

Since the opportunities for study these days are endless, there may no longer be the barriers previously experienced in gaining qualifications needed for a new career path. Just about any qualification you need is available via part-time, full-time, online, distance or on campus options, or in varying combinations of them all. Different budget levels can also be catered for with payment choices designed to suit just about any situation. Changing your career later in life may be easier than you think.

We meet many people in our day to day work who change careers much later than might be considered ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ with most of them thriving. Being able to handle the physical demands of a new career can appear daunting to some – with many people believing their energy levels won’t cope. But we believe the opposite is true – when you’re doing something you truly enjoy, your energy levels will naturally be higher because passion fuels energy and drive.

In addition, the benefit of life experience cannot be underestimated. This means many late career changers enjoy immediate success with the wisdom and experience they have gained over the years. Many soft skills such as being able to get along with different personalities, negotiating mutually agreeable outcomes and knowing how to get the best out of people, identifying and dealing with issues, dealing with procrastination, and generally taking advantage of the networks built over a full working life will all contribute to success.

It’s never too late to change careers to do something you love. I recently found out that one of my favourite resources when writing – the Thesaurus – was first published when its author was 73! Although an accomplished doctor, lecturer and inventor, it was Peter Roget’s dictionary of synonyms that made his name. Since it was first published in 1852, it has never been out of print.

If you’re yearning for a change, do some research to find out what you can achieve. Even if you have lifestyle, family and/or budget concerns, you might be surprised at what is possible.

Are you thinking about a changing careers but not sure where to start? Do you think it’s too late in your life to consider a change? There are several articles on career change on our blog which can be viewed by clicking here. One particularly relevant article is our post entitled – Want to Change Careers? Here is a Step by Step Plan.

If you would like personalised help from a Career Coach to evaluate your options, please see our Career Counselling and Coaching Services which can be provided over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.

How to Handle Office Politics

Article by Belinda Fuller

Some people love it and some people despise it – no matter what your feelings on office politics are, playing the political game is often seen as crucial to long term career success. Simply understanding how things work politically around your office and observing your behaviour and that of your co-workers can help you to get ahead. Learning how power and influence is managed within your company will help you survive and thrive in today’s highly competitive job market. And while the words ‘office politics’ often carry negative connotations – it is not necessarily always the case. It can be a positive experience as well – it’s all about opportunities to further your career. Here are a few tips.

1. Know your value and make sure others do too – let people know about your achievements and successes. In order to thrive and win the political game, you need to be able to demonstrate specialist expertise and the value you bring to an organisation. Let others know what you have achieved but be careful not to come across as brash – and never take too much credit for teamwork you participated in. Always make sure your team mates are given credit also.

2. Get to know your colleagues – it’s important to understand the people you work for (and with). If you understand people’s personal motivations and aspirations, you will be able to get along with them better, as well as being able to better meet their needs. This takes time and effort to listen and observe behaviour. Most people just want to be heard, so if you can invest some time in listening, you will start to be rewarded.

3. Understand where the power lies – it is not necessarily always the most senior person who wields the most power. Influencers come in many forms and those with authority and power often don’t use it as well as they should. Take some time to work out where the power is – look at individuals who are highly respected, those that mentor others, or the people who really are the brains behind high profile projects and successes.

4. Become a confidante – once you know who wields the power, you need to start developing relationships with them or the people around them. Again this takes time, so be a patient listener. Think outside of the box to offer creative responses or advice when asked and you will become a trusted confidante in no time at all.

5. Be nice – learn when, where and who to speak to. Assume that anything you say to anyone may be repeated. If what you say reaches the wrong ears the outcome could be disastrous. It goes without saying really, but never pass on gossip or spread rumours and always rise above personal conflicts – just don’t get involved. Maintain your professionalism and always act with the organisation’s best interests at heart.

6. Be positive – avoid complaining and whinging. Stand up for your opinions by all means, but when voicing an opinion or objection, be careful to present it from the organisation’s perspective – don’t make it personal. Don’t agree (or disagree) with negative people or questionable opinions – always maintain your integrity and professionalism.

Positive or negative – politics are a fact of life. By ignoring what’s going on around you, you risk not achieving the success you deserve. Learning to use the power of politics positively will help you get the best out of your career.

For more tips on managing your career visit our Career Advice Blog by clicking here. If you would like career advice from a professional Career Coach, please see our Career Coaching services.

Job Applications That Get You Noticed

Article by Belinda Fuller

What really makes a recruiter stand up and take notice? In today’s job market, it is common for recruiters to receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so what are they doing to cull those applications? How does that process affect how you should prepare your application?

There are many ways to make sure you get noticed in a job application. Despite what many people think, the best way is not with colourful graphics, complex formatting and an enticing head shot on the front page. Today’s job market is tough and there are simply more people with the right skills and experience applying for the same jobs. So how can you ensure you give yourself the best possible chance at getting noticed? Here’s our TOP 8 TIPS:

TIP # 1: Call the recruiter: many job ads include a contact so call them to find out exactly what they are looking for. Ask if there is anything in particular they are expecting or looking for in an ideal application or any specialist experience they would find useful. Then use that information to tailor your application.

TIP # 2: Focus: understand who you are and what you have to offer and focus your content around those core themes. As a Resume writer I am often asked to write a ‘general’ Resume because clients want something they can use across various roles and industries. Unfortunately this approach just does not cut it. Apart from the fact there is increasing competition in the marketplace, by generalising your experience and skills you could come across as a ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’. Employers look for value and they need experts who can quickly hit the ground running and add immediate benefit.

TIP # 3: Use keywords: many recruiters use software or online systems to make an initial cull of applications and this software works in different ways depending on what it is and how it’s implemented. Regardless if automated systems are used or not to cull applications – it is important to include keywords in your application. By mirroring the content found in the job ad or position description, you increase your chances of getting noticed and being perceived as an ‘ideal’ candidate. Sometimes, all it takes is changing your language like using ‘client’ instead of ‘customer’; and using key industry buzz words to demonstrate your knowledge.

TIP # 4: Write a customised cover letter: you should do this for EVERY job you apply for. Go through the job ad and/or position description with a fine tooth comb and highlight all your relevant experience, skills, qualifications, and specific expertise. If possible, think outside the box to identify successes you’ve had or skills you possess that might make you stand out. For example if you’ve worked in a similar role or industry – perhaps identify a key issue or challenge the industry is currently facing. Maybe you’ve implemented a similar project and have some specialist knowledge – if so, say so and indicate the level of success you achieved and how that is relevant to the recruiter.

TIP # 5: Tailor your Resume: Yes, that’s right – and again EVERY time! This might be as simple as re-ordering some points or de-emphasising/emphasising certain aspects of your job history, but tailoring your resume is just as important as writing a customised cover letter. The recruiter needs to immediately identify with you as being an ideal candidate and you won’t achieve that with generic content. This comes back to focus, but you can brand yourself as the ideal candidate by showcasing relevant experiences and successes and using the same language as the recruiting company.

TIP # 6: Address your cover letter: address your letter to the individual mentioned in the job ad and make reference to the conversation you had if you made an initial call (see TIP # 1). With LinkedIn and other online information sources, it isn’t hard to find out someone’s correct name, title and company address. Take a few minutes to source this information and address your cover letter professionally.

TIP # 7: Include all relevant details in the cover letter: after your address, open with a bold heading stating the job title, where the job was advertised, and the reference number if applicable. This makes it easy for the recruiter to identify exactly what job you’re applying for and allocate your application to the relevant area for assessment.

TIP # 8: Follow up: this is especially so if you have spoken with the recruiter prior to submitting your application but equally relevant if you haven’t. Leaving a brief voicemail or sending a short email is both appropriate and admirable because it shows commitment and interest. Briefly highlight how you match the job description and reiterate your desire for an interview.

Taking a little time to customise the content in your application can reap big rewards when it comes to the job application process so don’t underestimate the value in doing this.

Would you like assistance from a professional Resume Writer to create a job application that gets you noticed? Do you feel your application lacks relevance to the roles you are applying for? If you would like assistance with writing a winning job application, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching Services.