Monthly Archives: May 2015

Are you feeling indifferent about your work?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Are you feeling indifferent about your work

Are you feeling overwhelmed or indifferent? From one end of the scale to the other, the reality of our working life is that we change as time goes by. While we might be perfect for a job today, that may not always be the case. Most experts agree that we need some major change every seven years or so in order to stay fulfilled and valuable throughout our careers.

The concept of an employee lifecycle is not new – HR departments have used variations of a cycle for many years to define the stages employees move through in an organisation. In its most simplistic form, the lifecycle might look something like this: Recruitment -> On boarding -> Training, Motivation & Engagement -> Performance Management -> Resignation & Termination.

But looking at the same concept from an employee’s point of view gives us a different picture. According to this concept, individuals need major change every seven years or so in order to achieve satisfaction in their careers.

Most people know the feeling of starting a new job – it can be overwhelming, but it’s usually exciting. In your first year or so you’ll hopefully go from feeling overwhelmed to feeling challenged and stretched but thoroughly enjoying the experience. You move through that stage to a place where you’re confident that you can do the job and much of it may become second nature. You’re still enjoying the work but perhaps it isn’t as challenging or difficult as it was previously. As employees, we need to make sure we continue to achieve a good balance of challenge in our day to day work – and the only way to achieve this consistently is with change.

Boredom can strike anybody at any time, from the most junior to the most senior person – it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with workload but is usually more about how challenging or meaningful the individual finds their work. Depending on your role and the company you work for, boredom may strike in more or less than seven years. Research indicates that the more we are challenged on a daily basis, the more productive and happier we will be. But when you’ve mastered the job, and reached that inevitable point of ‘smooth sailing’ how can you make sure you’re consistently challenging yourself to avoid becoming bored and indifferent? Try the following strategies to help:

  • Volunteer for additional work – offer to help another team or department during a busy period; or get involved in projects that others may be working on.
  • Learn something new – enrol in some training or offer to work in another team where you have the opportunity to become proficient in new areas.
  • Develop and implement new ways of doing things – implement strategies or processes to automate routine or mundane tasks to achieve time, efficiency and accuracy gains.
  • Do more of what you like – developing processes to automate routine tasks will help in this area since you’ll free up time so you can take on more of the work you enjoy.
  • Set challenging goals and deadlines for yourself – try to complete projects or tasks faster but with the same quality and/or accuracy, or spend more time researching a project or writing a report than you would have in the past – do whatever you can to improve your performance or work outcomes.
  • Ask for more challenging work – tell your superior that you’d like to work on some more challenging areas – show them how you’re achieving your current role with success, quality and accuracy so they have confidence in your ability to extend.

Staying challenged at work is essential to your professional development and job satisfaction. Use the strategies above to help you perform better, learn new skills, and ultimately advance your career. Staying challenged helps relieve boredom and keeps you engaged and motivated for longer.

If you would like career advice to help you work out what you can do to challenge yourself in your career, please see our see our Career Coaching and Career Guidance Services.

10 ways to improve your LinkedIn profile

Article by Belinda Fuller

10 ways to improve your LinkedIn profileMany people are still not convinced of the value of LinkedIn. With Australia now boasting almost 100% penetration of use amongst professionals, now is the time for those standing back to take the plunge. With almost every professional in Australia on LinkedIn, your career will certainly suffer if you continue to ignore it. This article provides quick tips to improve your profile.

For anyone in business whether you’re an employee, small or other business owner, you need to have a LinkedIn profile. There are so many benefits – the main ones focusing on the career opportunities and professional networks that LinkedIn offers. Even at a graduate level, employers are using LinkedIn to find viable candidates.  If you already have a profile, there are many very quick tweaks you can make which will improve your overall presence. Many of these tips take less than five minutes to implement but they will make all the difference to your profile. Try them today:

1.  Customise your headline: your professional headline automatically defaults to your most recent (or current) job title. Change this simply by clicking the edit button next to the headline. Editing your headline is a great way to brand yourself while adding relevant keywords to your profile. You have 120 characters so make the most of them. Decide what you want to be known for and make this your professional headline.

2.  Upload a photo: according to research, a photo makes your profile 7 – 14 times more likely to be viewed. It is the first thing people see when they are browsing, and if you don’t upload your image, the standard generic outline of a head won’t create a lasting impression! A professional shot is great, but not essential – just don’t use a cropped out photo from a social situation or an obvious ‘selfie’. Get someone to take a clear head and shoulders photo against a white or plain background – look professional and smile!

3.  Write a summary: it contributes to your LinkedIn ranking and is also one of the first things people read. Create a clear picture of you and ‘your brand’. Look forward by describing your background, experience and skills in a way that highlights your potential for the types of roles you’d like to achieve in the future.

4.  Add skills: again these help build your brand and improve your ranking – select skills that already exist in LinkedIn’s database by starting to type a skill – then LinkedIn will make relevant suggestions. List up to 50 skills and change the order by dragging them up and down.

5.  Create a “vanity URL”: LinkedIn assigns you a cumbersome, hard-to-remember default URL with a combination of your first name, last name and random numbers. By creating a vanity URL, you’ll achieve a cleaner image with the best combination of your first and last name that’s available at the time.

6.  Share content: try to do so regularly – make sure it is relevant and valuable to your network. Since each profile edit and update you share gets broadcast to your entire network, you’ll constantly be top of mind.

7.  Build your network: connecting with others helps you keep track of industry trends and news and creates more opportunities for introductions.

8.  Make your content web friendly: aim for short paragraphs and concise bullet points. To improve readability and highlight certain points, use bullets and sub-headings. Consider adjusting the order of your experience, skills, education etc. to suit your target role or industry.

9.  Achieve recommendations and endorsements: they are invaluable and certainly boost your profile’s strength and personality. Try to gain recommendations for each role and aim to include a range of superiors, clients and colleagues since this will add credibility to your personal brand.

10.  Complete your profile: aim to complete as many sections as possible to achieve an ‘All-Star’ level indicated by the strength metre at the right of your page. A complete profile will help strengthen your brand/image, increase your visibility and provide you with more networking opportunities.

If you would like assistance developing or optimising your LinkedIn Profile to help you improve your profile and stand out from the crowd, see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.

5 tips to build your personal brand

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 tips to build your personal brand

Personal branding is a hot topic right now and one that many employees of organisations often think doesn’t apply to them. However, personal branding isn’t just for solopreneurs or business owners. It’s important to be able to quickly, clearly and succinctly articulate who you are and what you have to offer – and that applies to both employees and business owners.

So what is personal branding all about and why is it important? Just like company brands, your personal brand is what sets you apart from others. It’s what makes you slightly different to someone else with a very similar skill set.

Building a recognisable, consistent personal brand will help you achieve your career goals faster – leading to promotions, recognition as an industry expert or spokesperson, and improved professional networks. According to leading American business writer, Tom Peters, “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.”

Whether you want to advance your career, improve your professional relationships, or build your sales pipeline, a clearly defined personal brand can help. So how do you go about building it? Here are five tips to get you started:

1.    Understand your offer: personal branding requires an in depth understanding of your strengths, skills, passions, and values and the ability to use 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 then build your story in terms of what you offer. Put together a comprehensive statement about you – this is your brand positioning or message.

2.    Create a blog and/or website: this is a great way to share your expertise and initiate two way conversations with your target audience. Registering a website in your name helps you achieve consistency with your brand and contributes to increasing your name’s search engine ranking. Write regular articles to help your target market understand your offer. Reinforce your brand message, highlight what you’re good at and what you’ve achieved for others. The added benefit of online content is that when people like what they read, they will share it with their own networks.

3.    Add value: every status update, picture, article and comment you share will contribute to your personal brand so make sure it aligns with your previously defined brand positioning. You can quickly strengthen your brand and help people understand what you offer with content shared via social media, your blog or website; by commenting on other people’s content; answering questions; joining chats; and engaging in LinkedIn and other online groups and forums.

4.    Audit your presence: always think of yourself as a brand and maintain consistency with your message throughout all communications – this includes your Resume, social media profiles and other online content. Optimise your online content for search engines and review Facebook and other social accounts to make sure your brand is not being compromised with personal entries.

5.    Maintain the rage: once your brand is defined, you need to consistently validate and maintain it. Just as large corporations work hard to maintain their brand image, individuals need to do the same. Every interaction or piece of information shared should reinforce your brand message. Make sure people believe what you’re saying by providing proof, transparency and consistency – don’t try to ‘be all things to all people’.

Whether you’re self-employed or not, defining and promoting a strong personal brand that sets you apart will help raise your profile and make you more marketable. Even if you are not looking for work – it’s a great way to build contacts for future reference, as well as mentoring, partnerships or job opportunities.

Would you would like help creating an online presence or Resume to support your personal brand? If so, please see our full range of Resume Writing Services, LinkedIn Profile Writing and Career Coaching Services.

Research your way to the right role

Article by Belinda Fuller

Research Your Way to the Right RoleMany of us are lucky enough to fall into fulfilling careers. Whether it’s by luck, meticulous planning, or sheer hard work, these people seem to be made for what they do! But what about the others who’ve never been 100% sure? Whether you’re a school leaver or mid-life career changer, a little bit of research goes a long way, but where should you start?

A friend of mine recently asked me if I thought her son should choose Human Resources for his major. He’s in his first year at University and loving his Commerce degree, but he needs to choose his major for next year. He’s only been at University for about eight weeks but he has to choose from multiple options soon and he’s just not sure. She asked me if I thought HR was a good career path since I have experience in that area – but without knowing her son very well, I couldn’t say. I asked her what he was basing his decision on and she wasn’t really sure. It got me thinking about how many people just choose something to go after because they like the sound of it.

Another friend of mine has a daughter who recently decided she wants to become an event manager. She researched an expensive course and wants my friend to spend thousands of dollars on it – but her decision didn’t seem to be based on anything concrete either – simply that she liked the sound of being an event manager. She isn’t an overly organised or detail oriented person, so I asked my friend if his daughter had given any thought to the meticulous planning involved, the long hours, and the weekend and after hours work that invariably comes with being an event manger and he didn’t really think so.

Often, people go into careers without doing much research. They like the sound of a career but they’re not overly familiar about what’s involved in doing the job on a day to day basis. There are many ways you can research careers – and by doing so, you’ll gain a better understanding of what might be required and whether or not you’d be suited. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Use Online Job Sites: SEEK, CareerOne or any one of the many other online recruitment sites can provide a wealth of information about different careers. You can access current information on salaries in specific industries/positions, find out what qualifications and/or previous experience you might require, and you can get a feel for what you might be doing on a day to day basis. A great tip I heard from another career consultant was to combine unrelated keywords or phrases to identify unique or unusual roles – for example a skill plus an interest – such as ‘marketing’ and ‘photography’.
  • Talk to People: Talking to people who are already working in the field you are interested in can provide a better understanding of what might be required as well as giving you a feel for what your day might regularly look like. Don’t be swayed by one person’s opinion though – try to get as many people’s thoughts as possible and probe them about the pros and cons of the role. Look to your LinkedIn network for contacts who might be able to help.
  • Volunteer: This could take the form of ad hoc volunteering or a more formal internship. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn more about a role or organisation, as well as providing valuable work experience and new skills that will help to build your confidence to go after those sought after roles. It could also provide much needed networks and mentors in your area of interest.
  • Join Professional Associations: Attend meetings or check the website for information, networking events or other opportunities that you might be able to leverage. If you don’t belong to a professional association already, consider joining one – often these associations have associate memberships for juniors or people with little experience, but you have access to similar kinds of opportunities and information as fully fledged members.
  • Take a Career Assessment: Many organisations offer personality assessments and/or career interest tests. These tests can assess your interest in a variety of activities, industries and occupations to provide insight into the careers and areas of study you are most likely to enjoy and be ideally suited to. For more information, see our Career Interests and Personality Profile tests.
  • Talk to an Expert: Career Counsellors can provide a much needed ‘outsiders’ perspective on what you might like. They are usually trained experts that also have a wealth of practical work experience across diverse areas and industries. They have deep knowledge of a wide range of occupations, industries and courses and will give you professional, independent advice on your career, course and employment options.

Our last piece of advice (but by no means least) is to take the first step – if you’ve done some research and you think you’re ready, just take that step. We now know that most people will not stay in the same career for a lifetime, so don’t procrastinate for too long.

Would you like career advice to assist you to choose a career that’s right for you? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.