Monthly Archives: October 2016

How to Change Your Career in 2017

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Change your Career in 2017 While we now know, a job for life is a thing of the past, changing careers is still a daunting prospect for most people. If you are in a position where you dread going to work each day or you feel trapped in an industry or company you despise, then you owe it to yourself to make it a priority to change your situation before it becomes desperate. Changing careers to achieve a more positive and enjoyable lifestyle takes courage and commitment, but it is possible – even in today’s uncertain job market.

However, in most cases you won’t simply be able to switch careers and expect the transition to be pain free. There are many things to consider before you jump ship. We’ve compiled a step by step guide that will help ensure you are ready for your next step – professionally, emotionally, and financially. Follow our guide, and you might just be facing the New Year with a new role and improved direction. 

  1. Think about why you want a career change – is it really your career you need to change or is it just your current role that isn’t satisfying? Make a list of your core strengths and weaknesses, then think about the things you like to do and those you don’t. Once you have completed your analysis, you can look outside your current role, industry, and/or company and try to determine what aligns with your strengths and likes. We often find clients who are great at what they do and are in a job that is seemingly a good fit for them, but the company they work for is not ideal. It is very important at this stage to understand where your issues actually lie before embarking on a career change. If it’s the job you dislike, then perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment could make you happier rather than a complete career change. If it’s certain aspects of your current role you dislike, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with slightly different responsibilities.
  2. Identify the direction you’d like to pursue – once you have decided that you do want to change careers, you need to think about where you’d like to head. If you have no idea, go back to your list of ‘likes’ and what you enjoy doing as well as what you’re good at. List your current skills, experience and education and think about how you might be able to transfer them to a different area. Research different careers using some of the numerous available online resources including those found in this month’s Useful Career Resources and Tools article. Identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed. Many people who come to us for Career Coaching Services don’t know what direction they want to head in but they can gain advice or confirmation that their interest in changing careers is valid and ideas on what direction they might be able to take. At this point, it is very important to involve other people – professionals, family, work colleagues you can trust – to help you identify and clarify your new direction. You could also consider taking a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment to better understand your personality type, which can help you to effectively identify and/or narrow down some new career choices.
  3. Decide how to make that change – from the overview you’ve developed, look at how you might be able to make a change. You may have a lot to consider before deciding if and when to make your transition, including financial, family and study considerations. Analyse your financial situation and how that could be affected. Think about further study required and how you could achieve that – find out whether some or all of it can be completed part-time while still working. Think about the fact that many careers look great to an outsider, but the reality of the day to day job isn’t so interesting. Investigate opportunities for volunteer work to help you gain the experience you need. Seek out and talk to people already working in your area of interest to gain a better understanding of their opinions and experiences to help you become more informed.
  4. Look to the future – when considering any career change, it is important not to dwell on the past and worry about how many years you’ve ‘wasted’ in a career you loath. Many people who’ve spent years working towards a career or role they longed for at a younger age are reluctant to ‘throw it all in’ but focus on the years you have left ahead of you and how your unhappiness working in a role you dislike will affect the rest of your life. Conversely, simply walking away from a career that you aren’t happy with isn’t always the answer either. Sometimes, changing small things can help. Taking up a hobby or volunteering in an area that you’re passionate about can change your mindset and give you something to look forward to. Likewise, seeking out a similar role in a different company or industry can often be the answer.

Changing careers can be a very rewarding experience, but will require strong courage and conviction from you. It may involve lots of hard work – especially if you need to complete additional training or study. Taking an honest look at why you want to change careers and what you hope to achieve is a great first step to ensuring you achieve a successful career change. 

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to determine whether or not changing careers is a viable next step for you? If so, please see our Career Coaching Services.

Useful Career Resources and Tools

Article by Belinda Fuller

Useful Career Resources and ToolsJob hunting and/or making a career change can be demoralising and downright confusing. Applying for endless roles, and not hearing back, or worse still receiving automated rejections within minutes of submitting an application can dent even the most positive person’s confidence. With a raft of online and digital resources out there to help, this article summarises our top recommendations and what they’re useful for.

I have listed just some of my favourites, and incorporated others from my career coaching and interview training colleagues. Our number one tip for job seekers is to always conduct comprehensive research. We suggest researching the role you are seeking to achieve; gaining an in depth understanding of the requirements of the role in terms of qualifications, skills and experience; identifying any industry specific recruiters you should be talking to; having an appreciation of the keywords used by employers to seek candidates; and understanding the salary expectations. Without this understanding you may not achieve the success you deserve.

Some of the many resources we use on a regular basis to help our clients include:

  • www.seek.com.au – in addition to listing open positions across Australia and within many global locations, Seek also provides significant other resources for job seekers. You can quickly and easily set up job alerts to ensure you don’t miss any viable opportunities and you have the option to establish a personal profile which can be viewed by potential employers who make direct contact with you. I also recommend clients use Seek as their personal online career database – it’s a great tool to help you clarify many aspects of your job search – use it to understand what roles are being advertised and where, identify keywords and transferable skills, clarify required qualifications, pinpoint companies and industries that may currently be advertising, identify potential relevant recruiters, and access current salary information.
  • http://insightsresources.seek.com.au/employment-trends – Seek’s insight and resources area contains a raft of information on employment trends (broken down by State).
  • www.seek.com.au/Recruiter – another of Seek’s resources that allows job seekers to search for some of Australia’s leading recruitment agencies and view their current job vacancies on SEEK. This is particularly helpful if you’re in a niche market with just a small number of recruiters retaining most of the advertised roles.
  • www.aqf.edu.au/aqf/in-detail/aqf-qualifications – this is a great resource for school leavers or people looking to change careers since it’s the simplest way we’ve come across to explain the hierarchy of qualifications.
  • www.myskills.gov.au – this government resource provides a national directory of vocational education and training (VET) organisations and courses. It is a federal government initiative targeted towards enabling consumers to search for, and compare, VET courses and training providers.
  • www.careerone.com.au – this site lets you browse jobs in a variety of ways and offers a range of career advice, time saving and job hunting tips under the career advice section. It can be used in a similar way to Seek to better understand your different career options.
  • www.livesalary.com.au/search-salaries.aspx – a specialist salary exchange website created as a resource for people seeking relevant, real time salary information. Salary data is entered by Australian employees and compiled anonymously so all Australians, free of charge, can determine how their salary compares to their colleagues. Salary information is available on literally thousands of different job titles with data shown in real time – so the moment salary data is entered it becomes available to the entire community.
  • www.fairwork.gov.au – The FairWork Ombudsman aims to provide an effective and efficient workplace regulator that is responsive to the evolving needs and expectations of the Australian Government and the community. This website is a great resource that provides a vast array of advice and information about workplace rights and obligations.
  • www.moocs.co – a simple central directory of existing free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available in K-12, higher education and other areas for anyone looking to learn. A Mooc is a free online course available to anyone and is a great concept if you don’t want to commit to a long term study option or would like to ‘try before you buy’. Most courses are structured similar to paid online courses in terms of the teaching and learning methods – where video, group chat, assignment and tests are all included – but they don’t generally provide academic credit for use in other traditional courses, nor will you have much (if any) interaction with the lecturer.
  • www.business.gov.au – if you are considering establishing your own consultancy or small business, this site provides everything you need to know – including business setup advice, taxation obligations, financial and insurance information, general business planning, information on employing people, grants and assistance, and a vast array of other useful facts.
  • www.google.com – with so many resources on recruitment, training and career advice available at a national, state and local level, it’s worth spending some time conducting some general research to identify what’s available in your particular area.
  • www.katieroberts.com.au/career-advice-blog/ – finally, our own blog contains a raft of articles on various topics relating to choosing a career, resume writing, job searching, LinkedIn, writing job applications, and preparing for interviews.

Are you searching for the right career but unsure which path to take? Do you trawl the internet looking for career and/or training inspiration? Are you struggling to make sense of all the career resources out there? Perhaps you are confused about which course to study.

If you would like help developing a comprehensive job search plan or career strategy, please see our Career Counselling Services and our one-on-one Career Guidance Counselling, which we provide over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.

6 Tips for Mature Age People Returning to the Workforce

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 Tips for Mature Age People Returning to the Workforce

How old is too old to be looking for a new job? This is a question many Australians are already asking themselves. With life expectancy at an all-time high, we now need to work much longer than we may have anticipated, simply to pay for our lifestyle. But for many people who have already retired, deciding you need to return to the workforce can be a difficult and overwhelming decision.

First and foremost, acknowledge it is normal to be feeling apprehensive. If you’re worried about people thinking you’re too old, focus on your expertise and previous career success and enlist the assistance of a professional Career Counsellor if you think it might help. Here’s our 6 top tips:

TIP # 1 – Give yourself credit: by focusing on what you can bring to your new employer through the successes you’ve achieved throughout your career. Don’t dwell on the negatives and talk to others in a similar situation to you.

TIP # 2 – Define your offer: by assessing your values, interests, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, abilities and goals and be clear about your qualifications, skills and experience in the context of the roles you are applying for. Put your recruiters’ hat on for a minute and think about what you have to offer that might make you stand out from others. If necessary, identify areas for re-packaging of old skills and potential areas for training and development.

TIP # 3 – Create some killer material: that makes you feel confident. The recruitment field has changed significantly in the past five years and continues to change at a rapid pace. Prepare an up-to-date, clear, and concise Resume tailored towards the roles you are seeking, and write a customised cover letter for each role you apply for. Research current Resume trends, ask a friend who knows about recruitment to help, or enlist the services of an experienced professional Resume Writer. Update (or create) your LinkedIn profile and achieve as many connections as you can. Think about creating a website if your field lends itself to showcasing your successes and experience in this way. For inspiration, visit our Career Advice Blog for a broad range of articles on job search strategies, LinkedIn, Resume Writing, and Selection Criteria preparation.

TIP # 4 – Build your job search network: when you’re searching for a new role, and particularly if you’ve been out of the paid workforce for a period, you can’t limit your search to just advertised jobs. Many roles are filled proactively via personal connections these days, so get in touch with everyone you know and tell them about your plans – this includes friends, family, old work colleagues, suppliers, neighbours, local store owners, everyone! Send people you haven’t spoken to in a while a well-crafted email, update your LinkedIn profile, and follow companies you’re interested in working for on all their social media sites.

TIP # 5 – Start applying for positions: and don’t overlook contract positions, volunteer work, or internships as a short term prospect. Likewise, if you’re seeking part-time work, a full-time contract can be a great first step while you find the perfect role. Part-time work is a little harder to come by and if you’re working you will develop some current experience (and contacts) while falling into the category of someone who is currently working – it’s often seen as ‘easier to get a job if you’ve got a job’.

TIP # 6 – Prepare for an interview: by thinking about how you’ll overcome nerves and any negative thoughts on the day since it’s difficult to be confident if you’re worried about how to explain your break or your age. Review common interview questions online or consider seeking advice from a trained Career Counsellor at this stage as they can help you formulate responses you’re comfortable with. However you go about it, practice makes perfect and stay focused on the positives, talking about your skills, experience, and knowledge of offer and how quickly you will be productive.

For anyone searching for work, it’s important to set yourself some short, medium and longer terms goals. This is particular important if you are returning to the workforce following any break since you may not achieve your ideal or ‘dream’ job straight away. Expect that you may need to work in a lower paid or less than ideal position initially to gain some experience. If this is the case, you should aim to quickly gain the experience, training and/or skills necessary to move on to the next role.

Are you trying to return to the workforce? Are you interested in some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? Would you like some customised one-on-one job search coaching to help you take steps to secure your ideal position in today’s competitive job market? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and/or Job Search Coaching service.

6 Things to Consider When Requesting a Pay Rise

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 Things to Consider When Requesting a Pay RiseThinking you deserve a pay rise and maybe even asking for one outright, might not be enough to achieve the outcome you are after. To ensure success, you will need to build a strong case that demonstrates to your manager why you deserve a pay rise – with proof that showcases your success and supports your case.

This process should ideally be ongoing right throughout your career, with your strategy relying on the development of a strong case demonstrating why you deserve it. Here are some simple steps to follow:

Step 1 – Understand your company process – the most appropriate time to have a pay rise conversation is during a formal one-on-one performance review or your annual appraisal. However, pay review processes differ from organisation to organisation and some don’t follow a formal process at all. If your company doesn’t hold regular reviews/appraisals, you should ask for an opportunity to present your case. Don’t ambush your manager though – simply tell them you’d like to have a meeting to discuss your performance and success moving forward – so there are no surprises for them – and they have the opportunity to prepare as well.

Step 2 – Get your timing right – when asking for a raise, this is important. If you’ve only recently started in the role, or the company is going through a bad patch, now is not going to be a great time to request a raise. Even if you’ve been over-performing in the role, if you haven’t been there long, you might raise suspicions about your long-term commitment by asking too soon. As a rule of thumb, if you have been in your role for at least six to 12 months, and have performed over and above what’s expected, then it may be an appropriate time to ask.

Step 3 – Record successes – continually strive for excellence in your work and maintain a file of your achievements. This should include formal performance evaluations, customer thank you or commendation letters and awards, as well as details of other minor wins. Casual comments from colleagues, superiors and customers can also be included, as well as details of new systems or processes you implemented or initiated, and tangible successes and achievements such as productivity improvements, new customer wins, revenue and/or profit gains. 

Step 4 – Develop a strategy – review your success file before developing a strong business case for presentation to your manager. Your case should detail achievements and showcase skills that are important for moving up the ladder – such as leadership, company knowledge, teamwork, and innovation. Research current salary trends in your market so you know what a fair target is; and it’s a good idea to practice what you’re going to say. Write a brief script and always quantify your achievements. Don’t be afraid to take notes with you so you can reference specific details without getting flustered.

Step 5 – Maintain professionalism – make sure you have all the information you need on hand to answer questions and delve into more detail if required. Relax and present your case in a confident, businesslike way. Respond to your manager’s questions and comments in as much detail as necessary. Acknowledge positive feedback and try not to disagree with negative feedback – instead use this as an opportunity to gain input into what you may have done better. After presenting your facts, ask for your pay rise outright. State what you feel you deserve based on your achievements and successes.

Step 6 – Accept the outcome but ask for more information – if your request is rejected, you should take the opportunity to request specific feedback on areas that are lacking. You should accept the decision with a positive attitude regardless of the result, however don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation as to how you can prepare for a possible future pay rise. This can sometimes be difficult to hear, but having your manager explain what you need to do in the future to achieve the pay rise you are after will hopefully help you succeed further down the track.

Asking for a pay rise is difficult for some, however preparation and a professional approach will ensure the best outcome. It is also important to treat it as a regular event – we suggest reviewing your career status and progress against your goals and aspirations ideally every 12-18 months.

Are you constantly listening, learning and planning? Would you like career advice to better understand what you should be doing to plan for the future? If so, please see our range of Career Counselling Services.

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Article by Belinda Fuller

Common Interview Questions and How to Prepare for ThemCongratulations if you’ve secured an interview! Now comes the all-important preparation. Even the most confident and fearless individuals can be terrified of interviews. Whilst they can be nerve wracking experiences, taking time to prepare yourself can make all the difference to the outcome.

You have more than likely applied for a role you are qualified for, you think you have the experience and skills to succeed, and you like the sound of the role or company – so making an effort to prepare as best as you can prior to the interview will give you the best chance of success. Depending on the type of role, level, and company you’re interviewing with, the questions will vary, however to help you get started with your preparation, we’ve provided 10 common questions with suggestions on how to respond:

  1. Tell me about yourself. The recruiter is looking for a brief summary about you and is interested in your professional background – not your hobbies, relationship status, and favourite foods. Try summarising recent professional achievements in less than two minutes, and relate what you say back to the role you are interviewing for so the recruiter can immediately recognise your potential value. Include a summary of qualifications as well if that’s important to this role.
  2. Why do you want to work for us? It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a good strong answer to this question. You could talk about the market the company is in, your interest in that area, the role itself, and what appeals to you. Relate your future aspirations to the position, then reiterate why you’d be an asset in the role. Make sure you understand the company and role and discuss specific aspects so the recruiter recognises you are genuine about working there.
  3. Tell me about a time you improved on something. This question is a great one to prepare for using the STAR technique. It could relate to anything – a process, a relationship, an approach, or a competitive situation. Identify a relevant example beforehand and make sure to include just enough detail about what you did, why you did it, and how you did it, then summarise the eventual positive outcome.
  4. Why do you want to leave your current role? Focus your response on the fact you are seeking new or greater opportunities, responsibilities and/or challenges. If you’re trying to break into a new industry, mention it and the reasons why, then try making a link to the new focus. For example, you could showcase why you think you’ll succeed in this new area, based on what you’ve achieved previously, and how you want to extend yourself.
  5. What are your strengths? The interviewer is looking for your strongest qualities that relate to the role you are applying for. We suggest providing three key strengths with examples that demonstrate those strengths in action.
  6. What are your weaknesses? Most employers don’t want to hear something basic like “I’m a perfectionist”, or “I work too late”! The most important part of this question is to emphasise what you’ve done to overcome and/or mitigate your weakness. This question is all about how you turn your answer into a positive.
  7. Describe a time when your best laid plans didn’t work out. Give a specific example of a particularly difficult situation you encountered in the workplace. Again, prepare for this question using the STAR technique so you can discuss what went wrong, how you went about resolving the issue, and the eventual outcome. Ensure the outcome is positive though – don’t use negative examples and show the interviewer what or how you learnt from the experience for next time.
  8. Do you have any questions for us? This is one of the most important interview questions you can prepare for. It’s essential you have some well thought out questions prepared. It not only demonstrates your interest in the role and the company – but will also help you decide if you want to work there. Your questions could focus on the company and its future direction, the industry, competitors, recent news or events, the department’s direction and how it fits with company strategy, why the incumbent is leaving or where the work has come from (for newly created roles), the expectations of the role, scope for expansion down the track, performance expectations, success measurements, company culture, the timeline for a decision and/or next steps in the recruitment process.
  9. Why should we hire you? The best way to respond to this question is with specific examples of your skills and accomplishments that relate directly to the role. Compare the job description with your expertise, maintain a positive approach and showcase the value you could provide.
  10. What do you know about us? Again, it’s important to research the company so you can respond in an intelligent way to this question. Check their website and social media pages to see the latest promotions and information being shared. Look up the person or people interviewing you on LinkedIn to gain some insight into their interests and background as well.

Preparing in advance by doing some research about the company, the role, and the people who are interviewing you will ensure you put your best foot forward in the interview.  Of course, interviews are two-way and while the interviewer needs to determine if you are right for the company, you should also assess whether the company is right for you. Feeling confident and in control is all about preparation, so do as much as you can.

Do you struggle with nerves or knowing how to answer questions in interviews? If so, Interview Training can help prepare you for your next job interview. Please see our Interview Coaching Services for more information.