Monthly Archives: April 2016

Top 10 career transition tips

Article by Belinda Fuller

Top 10 Career Transition TipsSearching for a new role that you actually want and will enjoy takes enough time, effort and patience as it is – without the added complexity of trying to change industries or careers. Whether you are moving to a new company by choice, making a complete career change, struggling after being made redundant out of the blue, or downsizing to retirement, the career transition process can be tough.

Follow these steps to help ensure a smoother transition from where you are today to where you want to be.

1) Know What You Want: this is a crucial first step to ensuring you end up in a role you love. Understanding what makes you happiest when working is a great place to start. Some people we talk to think this is ‘pie in the sky’ stuff – that every job is full of tasks and responsibilities that aren’t that much fun. But take some time to identify the areas in your work that you enjoy, and those areas you’d like to do more of – and you’ll be on your way to identifying what you should be doing as a next step.

2) Do Your Research: instead of assuming the grass is greener on the other side, make sure you do your research first so the decisions you make are all based on facts, not fiction.

3) Audit Your Skills: this is important for most people, but particularly so if you’re looking to make a career change. If you want to avoid jumping from one job to the next, you need to audit your skills. Look at what you know, and how your skills might be transferrable – brainstorm ways in which they may help you progress to that next role.

4) Plug Your Gaps: decide if your skills, knowledge, expertise etc. is lacking and work out how to fix it. This might mean undertaking additional training, education or short courses or it might just mean doing some research or networking of your own.

5) Don’t Rush: if you can afford the time, don’t rush the process. Opportunities have a way of presenting themselves when you open yourself to them, so take some time to qualify prospects and ensure they are meeting your future goals.

6) Get Online: if you’re not on LinkedIn, now is the time to join. Analyse your professional presence online and optimise it. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly and utilise your connections to open up opportunities for new roles.

7) Network: networking (both online and in more traditional formats) is important for anyone seeking employment, but is particularly so for people transitioning. Follow and reach out to associations and follow companies, subject matter experts, and thought leaders on LinkedIn. Networking may well uncover roles that have not been advertised.

8) Ask for Help: learn to ask for and accept help when it’s offered. Most experienced individuals are more than happy to help, so long as it’s appreciated and not taken for granted. So seek assistance and leverage others’ success to help fulfil your own career goals.

9) Be Realistic: understand the process could take time. Most experts estimate a straight forward career transition, where no additional training is required, takes at least six months. In the mean-time, you could think about doing some consulting, freelancing, internships or trainee work. You should also prepare yourself for the chance you may have to take a pay cut or demotion to secure the right opportunity.

10) Practice Before the Interview: when you land that all important interview, don’t blow it. Use the S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach or similar to articulate some examples and practice them before the big day. That way, when put on the spot, you’ll be able to clearly explain how you’ve added value or solved problems in the past.

career coach can help you navigate the process, assisting you with everything from researching your dream role to brushing up your interview skills. If you would like help with your career transition, please see our Career Advice and Career Counselling Services.

Are speculative job applications worth the time and effort?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is a Speculative Job Application Worth the Time and Effort?We believe the answer is definitely YES! Learning how to write an effective speculative job application can certainly pay off – especially if you are seeking to change careers or move up the career ladder. It can demonstrate initiative, keenness and a proactive nature – all great traits for any successful employee.

Speculative job applications are also a great way to put yourself in control of your job application process. We strongly believe if you’re only applying for advertised vacancies, you may be missing out on many other opportunities – as well as making your entire job search process much longer than is necessary.

Sending a speculative job application to a company that is not currently advertising a suitable position can get you and your experience in front of the right person at just the right time, and prevent your application from sitting in the same pile as everyone else’s. But what is the best approach?

Here are our tips for success:

TIP # 1 – Research the company: and how your skills and experience could benefit them. This does take time, but it will pay off. You’ll be able to quickly demonstrate how your background could be of value. In addition, you’ll have a good idea about how good a ‘fit’ you are, which will help you appear more confident if you do achieve that all important one-on-one interview.

TIP # 2 – Strategise: take time to define your offer and why a potential employer might like to meet you. Write down your key skills and strengths and how they fit the company’s goals and objectives. Try to identify benefits or ‘value add’ outcomes that you’ve achieved for other employers and relate that to the company you are approaching.

TIP # 3 – Use Your Networks: you can approach a company cold by sending a letter or email, but a better approach is to leverage your existing network. If you know someone within a company, don’t be afraid to ask them for help in ensuring your application is delivered. Just don’t forget to show your thanks and hopefully repay them with some information or advice in the future.

TIP # 4 – Write: put yourself in the potential employer’s shoes and write based on the ‘what’s in it for me?’ principle. This is an important part of the speculative process because you’re approaching them with no real idea about whether or not there are any relevant current or impending opportunities. Rather than just making statements about who you are or what you offer – provide proof of value or results you’ve achieved in the past. Your speculative application needs to be sufficiently interesting for the potential employer to want to talk to you more. You can only do this by showing them how you’ve achieved certain results or solved specific problems in the past.

Here’s a few tips on how to format your approach:

  • Use a formal letter writing technique – include your name and address details, the date, address the letter to a specific person (not just a title such as ‘Attention HR Manager’) and include their job title, and the company name and address details. End the letter with ‘Yours sincerely’.
  • Open with the reason why you are writing to them – mention what interests you. Explain you are seeking a new role and why you have identified the company as a potential employer.
  • Summarise your experience, skills and areas of expertise including recent achievements or successes (remember the proof mentioned above). Tell the reader why you are interested in exploring employment opportunities with their organisation, what you could bring to the company, and why you feel you’d be a good candidate.
  • Prompt a call to action by telling the reader how to contact you and what they will achieve if you speak further.

Once you’ve written your speculative application, don’t sit back and wait! Follow up with a phone call a few days later. Even if your letter hasn’t been read, this approach could increase your chance of success. Speculative applications are no longer being seen as presumptuous, in fact many employers love them because they save much time with recruitment! So what are you waiting for? 

Would you would like help crafting a speculative cover letter? If so, please see our Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.