Monthly Archives: March 2015

Top 5 mistakes to avoid when applying for jobs

Article by Belinda Fuller

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for JobsWhen you’re applying for new roles, you can often be so involved in the process that it’s difficult to see what you might be doing wrong. If you are applying for roles and not hearing back from recruiters, you are not alone. See if you’re making any of our top 5 mistakes and take some steps to fix them before submitting your next job application.

MISTAKE # 1: not spell checking/proof reading all your application material – apparently this is still one of the primary reasons why applicants get rejected. There is no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors in your application. And don’t forget the cover letter and any online forms – often you’ll have to provide a 100 or 200 word response in an online form – we strongly recommend creating this in MS Word first then copying and pasting it over once you’re happy. With all your application material, use the spell checker by all means but read it yourself as well to correct any incorrect autocorrects! Ideally, once you’re happy, you should also have someone else read it for you.

MISTAKE # 2: not addressing key criteria – again this is a common mistake. All government positions require a formal response to set selection criteria, however many private companies are also including selection criteria as part of their requirements. Even if there is no specification to address criteria – you should make a point to address the key points in the job ad. A great place to start is the bullet points in almost every ad – under ‘Responsibilities’ or ‘What You’ll Be Doing’ – that will give you a hint of what to highlight, then look at the points under ‘What you Need’ or ‘Skills and Capabilities’ – and make sure you’ve clearly shown how you meet these.

MISTAKE # 3: going into too much detail – Resumes need space and clarity – sometimes it’s hard to describe what you did in a couple of lines but you need to try. I regularly receive 8 – 12 page resumes from clients, which is far too long. No recruiter will read that much detail so you need to get serious about deciding what’s important. We aim for 3-4 pages maximum and you should too. Have clearly defined sections and if you held multiple jobs in the one company – group them rather than giving each one a new section.

MISTAKE # 4: applying for jobs outside your area of expertise – if you want to apply for several different types of roles and think you’ve got the capability to do the job then by all means go for it. But – you need to modify your content. I have had several clients recently wanting to change careers but they’re not sure exactly where they’d like to head. Others just need a job and apply for roles that they’re probably not ideally suited for. I have had clients ask me to write a resume to suit very diverse roles – and this simply isn’t possible. The problem with this approach is that one resume is never going to appeal to the recruiters of two very different roles – so by taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you won’t appeal to either. Decide on your target and go for it – or create multiple resumes that specifically target each area.

MISTAKE # 5: not including your contact details: if a recruiter likes what they see, they’ll often want to call you immediately and either do a quick telephone screen, or organise an interview time. Make it easy for them – include your email and mobile phone number so you can be contacted and make sure you have a friendly and professional voicemail message.

Check, double check and triple check your application – be clear and concise and make sure it’s absolutely error free, with the content tailored towards the role you are applying for.

Are you interested in some assistance from a team of Professional Resume Writers to prepare a winning Resume or job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

How to stand out in your next job application

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Stand Out in Your Next Job ApplicationI speak to new clients almost every day and when I ask them about their ‘achievements’ in previous roles, I would estimate that eight times out of ten, I hit a brick wall. People find it so difficult to identify and articulate their achievements. The fact is, you need to sell yourself in a job application. The recruiter doesn’t know (yet) how fabulous you are, so your content should be tailored to make an immediate impact. And immediate impact can only be achieved by showing them how valuable you could be to their organisation.

Achievements don’t always have to be money or number focused (although it is great if they are). This is where many candidates can get bogged down – they don’t have a revenue generating or financial management role so they think they don’t have ‘achievements’. However there are many different areas we can look to for achievements. Think about things that you do in your day to day work that benefit your business, your customers, and/or your colleagues. Sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm with me.

Start by thinking about anything you have done that you were commended on or that made you feel proud. Maintaining an ongoing file with positive feedback or notes when something goes well always helps with this. But just ask yourself a few key questions to help the process:

  1. Did I receive any positive feedback from colleagues/superiors/clients about something I did?
  2. Have I overcome or solved any ongoing issues in the business? How?
  3. What projects did I complete/work on and what did they achieve?
  4. Did I implement a new way of doing something that made a difference – to the time it takes, the money it costs, the quality of the outcome, the level of service etc.?

Areas you could focus your attention on include:

  • Revenue increases
  • Expense / cost savings
  • Productivity
  • Customer Service
  • Quality
  • Relationships
  • Time Saving
  • Competitiveness
  • Branding / market awareness
  • Safety
  • Employee morale/attendance
  • Deadlines
  • Simplifying complexity

Our research indicates that recruiters look for achievements while more quickly discarding resumes that are purely ‘responsibilities’ focused. Make sure the achievements you use are tailored and support your ability to perform in the specific role you are applying for.

Would you like help identifying and articulating your achievements so your next job application has a better chance of standing out? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

How to choose a career that’s right for you

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Choose a Career That's Right for YouSome people have always known what they want to be when they grow up – how lucky are they? Especially if it all works out for them. For most of us though, it can take some time to work out what’s right in terms of a career. I’ve written before about being happy at work and Success vs Happiness. It’s many people’s lifelong pursuit. But what makes a career right for one person can be very different for another. Here is a list of initial dos and don’ts when thinking about what career might be right for you: 

Do: work out what is important to you – because this will be different for everyone. You might just want to be happy but that is often about looking at what you value most. Some people need to help others as part of their day to day role, others need to use their creativity, some prefer working alone, and others need to be part of a large team environment, or lead and direct people. Maybe flexible hours is your primary need, or are you driven to achieve a high paying or powerful job which you are prepared to work hard for. What’s most important is going to be different for everyone and for many people it can change several times depending on what stage of life they’re at.

Don’t: do what other people think you should do or get too hung up on what your friends or family are doing. Certainly be guided by those who care about you, but sometimes, these people who know us best have misguided views about what career would suit. I know that from first-hand experience!

Do: work out what you’re good at. It doesn’t have to be focused on ‘your passion or doing what you love’ – it’s more about working out what you enjoy doing or are good at and moulding a career around that. Think about using your strengths as a starting point. Maybe you want to work in events but you’re creative and not very detail oriented – an event management role may not be right for you, however, you could look at other areas such as event theming, design, production etc.

Don’t: cave to pressure from parents to follow in their footsteps or do something that they consider ‘safe’. Someone close to me wanted to study art after leaving school but was pressured by his parents to study law instead as a more stable career. He never enjoyed his work and it took him almost 20 years to go back to university and study art and design – he now has an extremely successful and thriving business that he is absolutely passionate about.

Do: research your career. Another friend of mine chose a degree later in life and found it really hard to actually get a job once she’d finished studying. The area was fairly new and experiencing some growth but was still quite niche – and it was a popular choice for school leavers. So while she was in her 40s wanting to get into this new area, there were rafts of younger graduates taking the few jobs that were available. In this instance youth was considered more favourable than life experience and that’s something she hadn’t ever considered.

Don’t: ignore your personality because these traits are ingrained in us to make us the unique person we are. It’s what makes one person better suited to a particular occupation or career than the next. Often taking a personality profile test can be a big help.

Do: consider location. Are you a city or rural person? These days, location is becoming less important, however some careers just aren’t viable in rural areas. Likewise, there aren’t many farmers in the Sydney CBD! If you really love where you live and aren’t open to relocating, make sure there are opportunities available in your chosen career.

Choosing a career no longer needs to be a lifetime commitment – you can always head down another path later. But always do your research up front – about yourself, your personality traits, your interests, and where the field you’re interested in is heading.

Would you like assistance choosing a career that’s right for you? If so please see our Career Guidance and Coaching Services.

How to Handle Difficult Colleagues

Article by Belinda Fuller

How.to.Handle.Difficult.ColleaguesMost of us have experienced that colleague who makes our life difficult. This can be the cause of much angst and it may be difficult to not let that concern spill over into your personal life. It’s a situation that may be difficult to not get down about, however with a few key strategies you might finally be able to do just that.

TIP # 1: Don’t Lose your Temper – this does two things, it puts you in control and limits potential for the situation to escalate out of control. This may be easier said than done – but remember you are not the difficult person here – maintain composure and try not to react negatively.

TIP # 2: Walk Away – if you feel upset, angry or emotional, take some time before responding. Deep breathes can help. Or you may feel the need to walk away – just say “I will have to come back to you on that” – then leave the situation entirely to give yourself some time to strategise your next step.

TIP # 3: Don’t Waste Time – sometimes it is best just to let go. Convincing someone who is intrinsically negative or arguing the point to someone with a closed mind often just isn’t worth the hassle. Unless it is something really important at stake, be diplomatic then distance yourself from the comment or decision if it will have an impact on you personally – after you’ve done that, simply let it go.

TIP # 4: Act Proactively – try to pre-empt situations or activities that will create friction and then work to minimise them wherever you can.

TIP # 5: Pick Your Battles – for those of you with children, you’ll be familiar with this one! Some things just aren’t worth arguing about – because there will be something bigger and more important to debate just around the corner. Confrontation is draining – save yourself some time and energy by picking the important points to pursue and make sure the ultimate outcome is worth the effort.

TIP # 6: Don’t Be Bullied – bullying in the workplace is unacceptable so never be afraid to report truly bad behaviour. Stand up for yourself by telling the person that their behaviour is unacceptable. Be specific about what they’ve done. Situations that need to be quickly addressed include any instance where you feel physically, mentally or socially threatened.

Understand that there are times in the workplace where your colleague may be under undue pressure and act in a way that isn’t normal. Ask yourself if you are being overly sensitive or perhaps you’ve misinterpreted their actions. But don’t hesitate if that’s not the case, don’t take the blame and don’t respond in an aggressive way that is going to inflame or escalate the situation. Use some of the strategies mentioned above or have a confidential discussion with a senior person or member of HR that you trust.

Would you like some help with your career? If so, we can offer a variety of services including career counselling, executive career coaching, resume and selection criteria writing, LinkedIn Profile Writing, interview coaching, job search coaching, and MBTI personality profiling.

How to Tap the Hidden Job Market

Article by Belinda Fuller

How.to.Tap.the.Hidden.Job.MarketWe often get asked about the hidden job market by our clients. Everyone wants to know the ins and outs of where to find it, how to leverage it and what to actually do to find their dream job. The hidden job market can be defined as all those jobs that are never actually advertised in the traditional way (such as through an online job site, via the company’s own website, or in hard copy format like a newspaper ad).

The reality these days with social media, online networking and our generally ‘connected’ world, means that companies simply don’t need to advertise every role on offer. Many companies still outsource their recruitment to specialist recruitment firms, but these firms are also now using other less traditional strategies to source candidates.

So what can you do to find this market and how do you take advantage of it? You need to be known to somebody in order to be discovered as the ideal candidate for a specific role. There are a number of ideas here to get you started – in no particular order of importance:

1. Establish a LinkedIn Profile: recruiters regularly review LinkedIn Profiles and conduct searches to find previously unknown candidates – so make sure your profile is up to date and includes relevant information and keywords, as well as a current, professional photo. Include as much detail as you can across as many sections as possible. This ensures a comprehensive view of you, as well as additional opportunities to connect with others. 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. It’s not only an important job search and networking tool, but an essential resource that enables you to further develop your brand and reputation.

2. Identify Relevant Recruitment Consultants: identify recruiters that specialise in your area of expertise. Develop a great resume and cover letter and target them with your information. Make sure you include detail about the kind of value you can add to an organisation – without a job to target it can be hard to know what to focus on so make your content punchy and relevant to the types of roles you are seeking.

3. Engage in Traditional Networking: don’t ignore traditional networking in favour of social and online networking. You should still maintain contact with industry experts and others in your area – think about who you know and who you could connect with, then let them know you are seeking new opportunities. Determine different ways you could connect with people in your industry in addition to LinkedIn and use them – phone calls, emails, Facebook, face to face catch ups, relevant professional associations and groups, seminars and industry events, as well as other online networking groups etc.

4. Identify Potential Referrers: many companies prefer to recruit through existing employee recommendations. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research and network with others in your industry who may work there. Ask friends and family to keep an eye out for you as well, so you’re top of mind when a potential opportunity arises.

A systematic and consistent approach to staying in touch with a broader network will maximise your chance of success. Remember, there are many aspects to securing your next opportunity and if you’re finding it tough – you are not alone.

If you would like assistance from a LinkedIn Profile Writer to develop your LinkedIn Profile and help provide access to the hidden job market, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.

If you are an employer and would like to assist employees through redundancy to secure a new role, please see our Outplacement Services.

Bid Farewell to the 9 to 5 Grind

Article by Belinda Fuller

Bid.Farewell.to.the.9.to.5.GrindAlmost 20 years ago now as a young Marketing Manager, I was lucky enough to have a very forward thinking boss who recognised my new commute was going to be around three hours a day. He suggested I establish a home office to work from two days a week, since he thought I might eventually leave. It was a great strategy from his perspective because I stayed for several years and much of my commitment stemmed from that time spent at home. I was also more productive in my home office and he recognised the time away from the office helped me focus on the bigger picture and get things done that I may not have had time for otherwise. My boss was satisfied with the results I achieved and didn’t focus on how much time I spent behind my ‘traditional desk’.

While many companies today have embraced flexible work environments that include working from home, flexible hours of work, increased leave, time off for family commitments, part-time work, and job sharing, there are many more that haven’t.

Recent research however, is confirming that flexibility with work environment and hours, combined with allowing employees more autonomy to get on with their job achieves a happier, healthier, and more productive team in the long run.

But how can you go about achieving this if your organisation doesn’t have an existing policy? The Australian government has a site that provides tips on how you can get started. Click here for more information on negotiating flexible work arrangements with your employer. To summarise, you need to:

  1. Decide what might be appropriate – remember to consider your needs as well as your employers;
  2. Put together a proposal outlining your desired flexibility and how you will manage your workload. You could consider implementing some easy strategies first and working towards a trial period rather than an ‘all or nothing’ approach up front;
  3. Discuss the plan with your employer making sure to address some added benefits they might see as well as addressing your needs in changing your work arrangements;
  4. Remain open and flexible – your employer might not be 100% receptive in the beginning, especially if this flexibility hasn’t been available before. Be open to their ideas and listen to their concerns – that way you may be able to go away and come up with an alternative.

With flexibility in your work arrangements, there often comes added pressure – responsibility to complete your work on time and to a high standard without the constraints of having to work set hours in an established environment. Consider if your personality will really suit this approach before you go down this path. It can also be very rewarding though, with more time to do some of the things you enjoy or spend quality time with your family.

Would you like some help with your career? If so, we can offer a variety of services including career advice, executive career coaching, resume and selection criteria writing, LinkedIn Profile Writing, interview coaching, job search coaching, and MBTI personality profiling.