Monthly Archives: September 2016

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Prepare for a Video InterviewThis modern method of recruitment is becoming more and more common since it can save the company significant time, effort, and money in the process. So if you’re faced with the prospect of a video interview, what’s the best way to prepare?

Preparing yourself for a video or Skype interview is possibly even more involved than preparing for a face-to-face interview. The interview will still require face-to-face time with the recruiter, so everything you’d do to prepare for that is the same, but you also have the added technical aspects of using Skype or another software program.

Here’s our top tips to help you succeed:

  • Dress to impress. When it comes to clothing, treat your video interview like a face-to-face interview and dress professionally from head to toe. Don’t be tempted to leave your PJs on the bottom half just in case you need to get up for some reason during the interview.
  • Make a good first impression. If the video is being conducted over Skype, review your Skype profile to make sure your name and picture are professional. Unlike face-to-face interviews, the recruiter’s first impression of you is not actually you – it’s your username and photo, so check for suitability and simply create a new one if you think it’s warranted.
  • Practice. As we know, technology doesn’t always work properly. Familiarise yourself with the video platform if you don’t use it very often. Know your username, the recruiter’s username, and do a run through with a friend or family member beforehand if you can, so you can test all the different settings, audio volumes etc.
  • Check your background. Make sure your backdrop is clean, tidy and uncluttered. Keeping it neutral ensures the recruiter won’t be distracted.
  • Close other programs. Annoying sounds from emails arriving or Facebook notifications are distracting and unprofessional. To ensure this doesn’t happen, close all applications and programs down before the interview starts.
  • Avoid interruptions. If you are somewhere with other people or pets, make sure you arrange for a quiet space beforehand. It’s very unprofessional to have to shoo away a dog or respond to a child while you’re mid-sentence in an interview. If you have children, organise a babysitter like you would for a face-to-face interview. Likewise, with dogs or other animals, put them outside, or place yourself in a room where the door can be closed (but beware of barking or crying dogs!).
  • Check your body language. Since the recruiter can usually only see your head and shoulders, your upper body language is extremely important. Make sure to smile, maintain good posture and avoid stiffness or awkwardness. You should also regularly check the recruiter’s body language to ensure they are still engaged in the interview.
  • Keep notes in easy reach. Keep a copy of your Resume and any notes or questions you’d like to ask handy. It’s ok to look down from time to time, but it really will impact on your connection if you do it too often. If you need notes, it’s good to have them in front of you if you can – a few post-it notes around the screen can work well since they won’t require you to look down too much. Again experiment in your test call to see what works best for you.

Job interviews – whether they are face-to-face, via Skype or some other electronic format – are vital to the job application process. It is your chance to really stand out from other candidates and show why you’d be ideal for the role. In terms of the two different approaches – preparation is key and as you can see, a little more preparation is required for video interviews.

Do you struggle with nerves during interviews? Would you be interested in some Interview Training to help you prepare for your next interview (whether it be via video or face-to-face)? If so, please see our Interview Coaching Services.

What to Wear to an Interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

What to Wear to an InterviewWhile business attire is generally a lot more relaxed than say 20 years ago, a bit of effort with what you wear to an interview will go a long way. That may mean dressing a little more conservatively than you might do if you were heading out for a night on the town – but first impressions are extremely important in an interview.

If you are currently preparing for an interview, congratulations! There’s lots to think about but focusing some of your preparation time on working out what to wear is a great idea. Our main tip is to find out what the company’s dress code is – then dress slightly smarter than that to show you have made an effort. You don’t however want to appear overdressed and uncomfortable. If you’re going for an interview in a very casual environment and you turn up in a suit and tie, you may not feel confident and that will only jeopardise your chances.

Since workplace dress standards are so varied these days, I’ve broken it into three categories – professional, business or smart casual, and casual. These outfit ideas are just suggestions of what might work for each category – work out where the company fits and then base what you wear around these ideas.

Professional Attire:

  • For women: a dark suit (could be a skirt or pants, but make sure the skirt is long enough for you to sit down comfortably), coordinated shirt/blouse, conservative shoes, limited jewellery, professional hairstyle, optional neutral pantyhose, light make-up and perfume, neat nails with clear or conservative coloured polish, and a portfolio or briefcase with any notes you want to take.
  • For men: a dark coloured suit, long sleeve shirt (white or conservative colour coordinated to match your suit), belt, tie, dark socks, conservative leather shoes, neat hair, limited cologne or aftershave, neatly trimmed nails, and a portfolio or briefcase with any notes you want to take.

Business Casual Attire:

  • For women: casual tailored pants or a skirt (no elastic waists or tights), a knit top or shirt, neat leather shoes, boots, ballet flats or similar, an optional blazer or tailored cardigan, light make-up and perfume, neat nails, and a portfolio or satchel with any notes you want to take.
  • For Men: cotton or more casual style pants, long sleeved button-down shirt, polo or knit top with a collar, leather shoes, belt, neat hair, limited cologne or aftershave, neatly trimmed nails, and a portfolio or satchel with any notes you want to take.

Casual Attire:

Whilst a casual dress code is fairly open – anything doesn’t necessarily go! Make sure you are still tidy looking and that your clothes aren’t worn or shabby.

  • For Women: a pair of smart jeans, a plain top or tailored t-shirt, and a jacket works well. You could wear a smart pair of open toe sandals, but a simple ballet flat or smart casual lace up works better. Again it’s best to wear light make-up and perfume, ensure your nails are neat, and you could carry any notes in a portfolio, satchel, or a nice tote bag.
  • For Men: again a pair of smart jeans, a nice t-shirt, and a casual jacket (optional), shoes should be closed in, clean and not too worn. Again make sure your hair and nails are neat, don’t overwhelm with cologne or aftershave, and carry notes in any type of satchel, portfolio or folder.

Regardless of the dress code and type of role you are going for, pay attention to your overall look. There are some things you should never wear, and certain things to pay attention to, including:

  • Not wearing anything too revealing, skimpy, or skin-tight
  • Choosing moderate, neat and clean shoes and definitely no thongs
  • Limiting jewellery
  • Making sure your hair is neat
  • Not wearing too much makeup
  • Using a light perfume/cologne/aftershave
  • Ensuring nails are neat and manicured

First impressions are very important in an interview so a little bit of time taken to plan what you’re going to wear is important. It could go a long way in determining who will get the job!

Do you struggle to work out what to wear to an interview? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, to build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Skills Training service.

8 Tips to Survive Your Probation Period

Article by Belinda Fuller

8 Tips to Survive Your Probation PeriodJust landed your dream job? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time, but it can also bring an odd sense of apprehension due to the probation period. These days almost every role, at every level, will most likely include some kind of probationary period – typically three to six months in length depending on the company’s policy.

The probationary period should not be thought of as a time to ‘catch you out’. It’s just that initial period during which an employer can consider whether you’re able to effectively meet the expectations of the role and is an accepted (and legal) part of most employment awards in Australia. Likewise, it’s an important period for you to determine whether the company and role is right for you. Here’s some tips to help you navigate that period:

  1. Understand the probation period. Educate yourself about what success looks like. How long is the probation period? Will there be regular reviews and checks and if so, how many? Who do you report to, and will it be them or someone else who will conduct the review? How will your performance be measured? What are the implications if you don’t meet those performance expectations? When will you know that your job is safe?
  2. Know the role. If you don’t know exactly what requirements you need to be fulfilling you might find it hard to succeed. Work out exactly what is expected of you and create systems and checks to ensure everything gets done – in the timeframes and quality levels the company expects.
  3. Communicate. With your colleagues, managers and any other relevant people. This is especially the case if you don’t understand something but it’s also important just to understand how the company works and the general office policies and procedures.
  4. Understand the company policies and procedures. Every company, no matter how large or small will have certain policies and procedures that are in place. Hopefully you will go through some kind of induction process and receive information regarding any policies, procedures, compliance and/or legislative requirements. It’s your responsibility to make sure you understand these requirements and adhere to them.
  5. Understand the company culture. Take some time to work out how a company operates culture wise – this can be one of the biggest areas of failure to fit in for new candidates. Whilst every person brings their own values and unique approach to a role, depending on the environment the company operates in, company culture can change significantly from organisation to organisation. Understanding how your company works, and adapting your practices (even just slightly) to fit in is a good idea.
  6. Learn. Be a good student and take the time to learn from others. Ask questions and be appreciative of any help, advice and assistance that you receive. Don’t expect to know or understand everything straight away.
  7. Act quickly if you’re in trouble. Waiting until it’s too late if you become aware of an issue is a big mistake. Raise the problem early and admit your failing, so that it can be fixed before too much damage is done. Taking this approach shows employers that you have a good sense of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and are happy to work to rectify them in times of crisis.
  8. Don’t abuse benefits. Be aware that someone might be paying particular attention to how you spend your time during those initial months. Arrive on time or a little early, and don’t try to sneak out early, don’t take long breaks or waste time on Facebook, surfing the net, chatting socially with colleagues, or doing anything that you shouldn’t be doing!

Use the probation period to learn everything you can about the company and the role to ensure you fulfil expectations, but also make sure that this is the right environment for you.

Are you currently seeking a new role? Are you worried about the probationary period or finding a role that suits both your skills and personality? If you would like assistance, please see our Career Counselling Services and our Job Search Coaching Services.

How to Get Off The Fence When Considering a Career Change

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Get off the Fence When Considering Career ChangeIt seems like many of our clients are currently at a crossroad. They’ve amassed a great deal of experience and knowledge throughout their career and they’re really interested in heading in another direction, or seeking a role higher up the ladder. The problem is they just can’t bring themselves to make that next career change. Sound familiar?

When you’re thinking about embarking on a new career or direction, often the fear of the unknown is so overwhelming that you end up doing nothing. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. I speak to clients on a weekly basis who are in a similar position. Often they’ll know where they want to head and believe in themselves enough to understand the value they can offer, but they just can’t bring themselves to go out and try.

I worked with a client recently who was in exactly this position. She was a very experienced senior ICT Manager with a background in senior roles across multiple countries. Her expertise was primarily in complex multi-year strategy development and execution. In recent years she’d amassed a fair bit of experience in change management and had been involved in some major transformational projects. This was where her passions were and this is what she wanted to be doing full time. She articulated that very well to me during our consultation and I recognised her capabilities and skillset as being well aligned to the area. I proceeded to prepare her new documents based on my understanding.

However, when we got to the first review of her new Resume, she felt the Resume was not really ‘shining’ for senior IT Manager roles (it was tailored for senior Change Manager roles). The problem was, she suddenly got scared and thought “What if this doesn’t work out for me? I really need to hedge my bets and make sure my Resume works for both roles.”

The problem with this approach stems from today’s competitive market. In most cases there will be many applicants for every role you apply for, no matter what industry or area you work in. When you put yourself up against someone who meets the role brief perfectly – the fact that you have all this other ‘additional’ experience and expertise doesn’t matter. In many cases it is actually detrimental to your success because the ‘clutter’ just gets in the way and makes you seem like a ‘not so perfect fit’.

My approach to ‘getting off the fence’ is really just to go do it, but I know that’s easier said than done. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Define the job requirements: find three or four jobs that perfectly match what you’re after – and identify the common requirements.
  2. Audit your skillset: based on the requirements you’ve defined – define your list of ‘key capabilities’ specifically targeted towards your new career focus.
  3. Identify your transferrable skills: to support your efforts in demonstrating why you’d be an asset in the role. List everything that might be valuable in the role you’re aiming for.
  4. Focus on relevance: brainstorm where you have achieved success and emphasise projects and accomplishments that relate to your new area, leaving out anything that’s not relevant.
  5. Write a compelling summary: prepare an overview of you and what you offer. Include a mixture of your success, qualifications, key capabilities, and any relevant personal attributes – targeted towards the roles you’re applying for.
  6. Network: you could approach employers 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 for their advice or help in ensuring your approach is relevant.
  7. Give it time: successful career transitions take time, so don’t give up. In the meantime, take advantage of every opportunity to hone the skills that are relevant to your new career path and stay focused on your end goal.

Are you procrastinating about changing careers? Are you lacking a good quality Resume or online profile to help you find your perfect role? If you would like assistance writing professional documents that highlight your strengths and achievements and set you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing or Resume Writing Services.