How to stand out the right way

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to stand out the right wayWhat makes one person stand out from the rest in a job application and/or interview if everyone has similar backgrounds, experience and education? Being creative with your application is one way you can achieve this – but that doesn’t mean a scented application on coloured paper with a cute gift. It means articulating your value to the organisation in a way that resonates with the recruiter and helps them understand why you’d be a good fit. Some examples of how to do this include:

  • Talking about your achievements: Career achievements sell you to potential employers but many people struggle to convey these in their 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. Think about things you do in your day-to-day work that benefit the business, the customers, and/or colleagues. Sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm ideas where you have done things that you were commended on or that made you feel proud. Think about positive feedback received, times when you solved a business issue, projects completed, or new processes implemented. Maintaining an ongoing file with positive feedback or notes when something goes well will help.
  • Aim for quality over quantity: This applies both to the length of your application as well as the number of applications you send out. Our research suggests 3-5 pages for a Resume is ideal and keeping your cover letter to one page is optimum in the Australian market. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, particularly where selection criteria needs to be addressed or for particular fields where certain information must be included. As a rule of thumb, keep your documents to this length and target jobs that you are a) interested in; and b) suitable for.
  • Tailor your message: Casting your net far and wide with generic applications only waters down your success. This applies to applications for specific roles as well as generic ‘feelers’ or ‘contacts’ via LinkedIn or other social networks. With applications, tailor your message to suit the role. Go through all the ‘requirements’ of the role and make sure you’ve covered off how you have the necessary skills, qualifications and capabilities by demonstrating previous accomplishments in those areas. Likewise with professional networking, if you’re reaching out to someone cold about a position within the company, respect their time. Tell them your name and why you’re contacting them with a brief description of what you’re hoping to learn from them or achieve. Utilise your existing network too – check whether you know someone within the organisation you’re targeting – or even associated with that organisation in some way, and reach out to them first to ask for a referral.
  • Solve a current issue: Conducting some research into the company you are interviewing with means you might be able to provide some educated insight into solving a problem for them. Showing how much you care about the role and the company during the interview by knowing about the organisation, the market, its competitors and customers will ensure you leave the recruiter with the knowledge that you’d be a valuable employee. By researching the company beforehand and preparing a list of relevant questions or perhaps highlighting a potential solution to an issue being currently faced is a great way to stand out.
  • Make your application easy to read: This includes structure, content, format and grammar/spelling! Use bullet points, sections, headings, achievements and white space to make your application appealing – and don’t be tempted to make it too fancy. Make sure you proofread your documents, and have someone else do it as well. Ensure the application is cohesive, clear, concise and accurate – and focused on why you’re an ideal fit for the role.
  • Be punctual, organised and professional: This might seem obvious but you’d be amazed how many people just don’t place the right emphasis on this point. For a physical interview, plan to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early to allow for any last minute issues, research transport/parking options prior to the interview day, and dress neatly and appropriately for the company. Take a copy of your resume, the position description, a pen and note paper. Don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions to find out more about the role and the company, as well as providing a chance to highlight your interest in the role and stand out to the recruiter.

Our research indicates that while some recruiters do appreciate creativity and unconventional approaches, many do not. What is essential is that you can demonstrate that you have done your research and can show how serious you are about the opportunity. It takes a recruiter between 5 and 30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so.

Would you like help making sure that your next application or interview helps you stand out in a crowded job market? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services or Interview Skills Training Service.

14 tips for professional behaviour

Article by Belinda Fuller

14 tips for professional behaviourIt doesn’t matter if you work for a large or small organisation, or if you’re a manager or not, there are always expectations in terms of workplace behaviour. While most people can easily define what unprofessional behaviour is – knowing how to behave is a more positive way of looking at it. So what constitutes professional behaviour?

Professional behaviour is a form of etiquette in the workplace which is linked primarily to respectful and courteous conduct. Believe it or not, professional behaviour can benefit your career and improve your chances of future success. Many organisations have specific codes of conduct in place, but some don’t. In general, it comes down to ethics, integrity, dedication, and being conscious of how you treat co-workers.

TIP # 1: Know your organisation’s mission, values and code of professional conduct so that you’re clear on the expected workplace attire, priorities, behaviours and outcomes.

TIP # 2: Be observant of other people’s behaviour – take note of how they speak and act towards you and others, and in different work settings. Notice how their behaviour comes across in terms of the response it gets. Decide what you’d like to do differently or similarly.

TIP # 3: Be respectful of fellow employees, colleagues and clients, regardless of their rank or status – everyone is important. This includes using good manners, being mindful of personal space and refraining from referencing non-work-related or other inappropriate topics. Use appropriate language, apologise for errors or misunderstandings, and keep your personal opinions of others private.

TIP # 4: Manage your emotions and language, especially during stressful times. Learn to recognise and control frustration, overwhelm, tiredness and other emotional states and never take out those emotions on people in the workplace.

TIP # 5: Manage your time well and know what workload you have to achieve each day. Don’t be late to work or take longer than usual breaks, ensure you meet deadlines, turn up for meetings prepared and on time, and respect other people’s time.

TIP # 6: Act honestly and openly so people can trust you and your word, and always give credit where it’s due. Don’t share confidential, privileged or client information unnecessarily, and never tolerate or justify dishonest conduct by others.

TIP # 7: Maintain accountability for your work and actions – manage expectations by under-promising and over-delivering. Be honest if things go wrong and take ownership of your mistakes – see them as an opportunity to learn and grow, and avoid blame, excuses and denial. Seek help if you need it and work out an effective resolution to move forward.

TIP # 8: Be supportive of your team and colleagues – help where and when you can, even if it’s simply to listen, and be willing to share your skills and knowledge. Thank others when they have done a good job or helped you in some way.

TIP # 9: Understand your company’s preferred way of communicating, follow any company guidelines, and learn the ‘unwritten’ rules that vary from company to company. Read information provided before asking questions, listen to others when they explain concepts, don’t engage in office gossip, speak clearly and in language others can easily understand, and be polite. Be careful of language and tone in written communications, don’t copy in others unnecessarily when emailing (but don’t intentionally exclude others either).

TIP # 10: Audit and manage your social media profile to ensure it is appropriate for public viewing, or make it private. Leverage social media to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility. Take out photos or comments that may be offensive or suggestive to others. Think about what is going to make you stand out and focus your content on positive hobbies, interests, volunteer work or charities you support.

TIP # 11: Set aside any differences in order to work well with others. You may need to work with people that you don’t necessarily like, however those who work well with others can often advance on that aspect alone, with teamwork sometimes even outweighing performance.

TIP # 12: Stay focused on work tasks when you’re at work and manage your personal matters so they don’t impact your work.

TIP # 13: Ask for feedback so you can find out what you could have done differently or better. That way you will continue to develop your skills and capabilities while demonstrating your desire for growth.

TIP # 14: Stay committed, dedicated, positive and consistent – it goes a long way to ensuring success and is often contagious with others being inspired to put in a little extra effort themselves.

Essentially, professional behaviour comes down to giving your best at all times while treating others with respect. Think about how your behaviour will be perceived by others and make sure to understand and follow company codes of conduct where they exist.

Would you like assistance with any aspect of your professional career? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

The best end to an interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

The best end to an interview

We’ve all been in that position at the end of the interview when you’re just not sure you’ve done enough to stand out as the best possible candidate for the role. It’s a stressful and daunting experience – but a necessary fact of life. The key to success is being prepared. Here’s some ideas on how to end an interview and give yourself the greatest chance of being selected:

  • Ask questions – asking questions in an interview provides an opportunity to find out more about the role and the company, and whether you think it would be a good fit for you. But it also provides the perfect opportunity to showcase your interest, stand out as a great candidate, and make that final positive impression to the interviewer. If you get asked if you have any questions, it’s important to ask at least one! Questions could focus on specific details of the job, the company, the interviewer’s experience with the company, the market, or competitors. Having questions pre-prepared is important but don’t worry if they all get answered during the course of the interview, just say something along the lines of “I did have a list of questions prepared, but you’ve answered all of them, thank you. I was interested to hear you talk about XYZ though, so can you tell me a little bit more about the impact that has on this role?”
  • Address concerns – ask the recruiter outright if they have any specific concerns about your experience, expertise or areas that make them feel you’re not right for the role. This question does take courage to ask but wouldn’t you rather be given the opportunity to address any concerns before leaving the room? Be sure to think about what concerns might be raised before asking this question though. That way you’ll have some idea about what you’re going to say. Examples include gaps in experience or education, frequent switching of jobs, any time periods where you didn’t work etc. On the other hand, if the interviewer has no concerns and says you seem well qualified for the role, thumbs up all round.
  • Sell yourself – a great way to end an interview is by summarising the reasons you’re interested in the role and why you think you’re a good fit. Start by stating how keen you are for the role after being here today, then remind the interviewer of your key capabilities that would be an asset in the role.
  • Cement your interest – don’t leave without making sure the interviewer knows you’re interested. This is one of the most important parts of an interview. If they aren’t sure about your level of interest, they could assume you’ve changed your mind or aren’t a good fit. If you’re interested and want the job, make sure to communicate that. You could say something along the lines of “Thanks for your time today. I really enjoyed hearing more about the role and the company and it’s just reiterated my interest in the role. Can you tell me when you think you might make a decision?”
  • Say thank you – the very last thing you should do is thank them for their time. A follow up email is also a great idea – this can be another way to reaffirm your interest in the role. Keep it brief, concise, professional, and polite. Asking what the timeline for the decision making process is or when you can expect to hear the outcome is also a great wrap up.

Securing an interview is tough, so being prepared and leaving a great first AND last impression is essential. Recruiters use interviews to test candidates’ performance under pressure because people who can think quickly on their feet are an asset in business. Concentrate on the interviewer and make your time count.

Would you like some assistance preparing for a job interview? Are you keen to overcome your nerves and build confidence in order to stand out from other applicants? Our interview coaches have extensive knowledge of current recruitment practices and are experts in their field. For more information, please see our Interview Training & Coaching service.

21 tips for increased productivity

Article by Belinda Fuller

21 tips for increased productivityWho doesn’t want to do more in the little time we have? Do you wonder why some people are able to achieve so much in the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that you have? This article provides some quick tips that you can implement right now and watch your productivity soar!  

Google productivity and you’ll return more than 13 million results on websites, definitions, courses, apps, blogs, tips, techniques, podcasts, advice – there’s even an Australian Government department dedicated to productivity – it’s the Productivity Commission if you’re interested.

I’ve got a confession – I’m a recovering productivity addict – not sure if that’s actually a thing but it should be! Constantly beating myself up for wasting time, feeling like a slave to email, always being ‘crazy busy’ with not enough time in the day, and feeling guilty for not achieving every single thing on my overly ambitious ‘to do’ list was a regular part of my life. But not anymore, I’ve come to terms with the fact that whilst we think we need more time in our day, we don’t – we just need to make better use of our time and realise that sometimes everything just won’t get done!

Here’s a few of my simple tips that you can implement today to help increase your efficiency, improve your outputs, and gain back some control:

  1. Focus – on one thing at a time. This has literally transformed my life.
  2. Don’t answer your phone – if it’s important they’ll leave a message.
  3. Check your email intermittently – turn off email notifications and respond at a few set times throughout the day.
  4. Know when your energy peaks – then take advantage of those times by getting all the hard stuff done!
  5. Establish routines – then stick to them so you don’t waste time making decisions.
  6. Set up systems – establish rules and processes for everything you do on a regular basis.
  7. Say no – set realistic deadlines, try not to over commit, and don’t set yourself up for failure.
  8. Write a ‘to do’ list – write a list at the end of every day for the next day or first thing in the morning for the day ahead. Planning out your week on a Sunday night is also a great idea.
  9. Plan your day – try starting with the most important, biggest task, not the smallest and easiest.
  10. Schedule your time – diarise everything (electronic or paper, whatever suits) so you can see at a glance how much spare time you’ve got to work with (or not!).
  11. Avoid meetings – if you have to go, try to have one specific outcome in mind and make sure the other participants are also on board.
  12. Track time – for one or two days, then eliminate, delegate and consolidate – often we do things that may not be 100% necessary.
  13. Set time limits – this is great for large projects or tasks you procrastinate about. Break them into smaller chunks, set time limits, and just get it done.
  14. Use a timer – set it to go off at 30 minute intervals. Focus on one activity then take a short one minute break to refocus.
  15. Get up earlier – not a morning person? Try tiny increments by setting your alarm one minute early every day for a month. That adds up to half an hour within a month and one hour within two – sounds ridiculous but it works!
  16. Try a social media ban – you’ll be amazed at how much time you save.
  17. Unsubscribe – to all those pesky emails you waste time reading and scrolling through.
  18. Take breaks – after two hours try to break for at least 10 minutes. Walk around and get outside in the fresh air if you can.
  19. Define success – know what you’re trying to achieve – what does finished look like? How can you determine if you’ve been effective?
  20. Outsource – get help and have someone who is an expert in their field do whatever it is that you’re not good at!
  21. Declutter – your office, your home and your life.

Just do it! No matter how busy you are, you can always get more organised. Take some time to implement some (or all) of these tips and see if your productivity improves.

Are you struggling to find time to get your career on track? Would you likes some help and support from one of our qualified consultants? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services or Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing Services.

 

Where are Australia’s biggest job opportunities?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Where are Australias biggest job opportunitiesAccording to the latest Manpower Group Employment Outlook Survey, many Australian employers report hopeful hiring intentions for the April-June time frame but the biggest emerging job opportunities right now are in the services sector. So what does this mean for job seekers?

Manpower Group conducts a quarterly survey of Australian companies that measures employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforces over the next quarter. To complete the second quarter 2017 survey, a sample of 1,511 employers in Australia were interviewed. All participants were asked “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the upcoming quarter in comparison to the current quarter?”

The good news for job seekers across Australia is that this latest survey reports predicted growth to staffing levels across all regions and industry sectors – but some stronger than others.

We’ve summarised the results below:

  • 15% of interviewed employers intend to increase headcount in the second quarter of 2017.
  • The majority (78%) of employers interviewed have no plans to hire in the second quarter of 2017.
  • While staffing levels are expected to grow in all eight regions during the period, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory report the strongest regional outlooks (+14%) with Western Australia the most cautious (+6%).
  • Compared to the same time last year, hiring plans have improved across seven of the eight regions, including Western Australia, where employers report a sharp increase of 21 percentage points. Victoria was the only state where employers reported a decline (two percentage points).
  • Employers in all seven industry sectors expect to grow payrolls during the quarter with the services sector representing the biggest opportunity for jobs in Australia at the moment. This sector is the strongest of all surveyed with a net employment outlook of +15%. The services quarterly outlook has jumped seven percentage points over the last 12 months.
  • Steady hiring activity is predicted in the Mining & Construction sector and the Transportation & Utilities sector (both with outlooks of +12%). Mining and Construction reported its strongest hiring plans since the fourth quarter of 2012.
  • Modest workforce gains are expected in the Manufacturing sector, with an Outlook of +8%, and in both the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector and the Public Administration & Education sector, where outlooks stand at +7%.
  • The most cautious sector outlook of +5% is reported by employers in the Wholesale Trade & Retail Trade sector.
  • The national Net Employment Outlook is +9%, unchanged since last quarter. However, this represents an annual net employment outlook growth of five percentage points. The Net Employment Outlook is calculated by subtracting the percentage of employers anticipating a decrease in hiring activity from those anticipating an increase in employment.

For more information, or to download the report visit the Manpower Group Employment Outlook or download the latest Employment Outlook survey.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice to help you decide which career path to follow, or industry to pursue? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. Please see our Career Coaching Services for more information.

What to do now to ensure your next pay rise

Article by Belinda Fuller

What to do now to ensure your next pay riseHappy new year. Welcome back. Hope you enjoyed a nice break. Wait, what? How is it March already? Have you thought about your 2017 pay rise yet? Maybe you just completed a whole review process and the mere thought of going through it again is too exhausting to even consider. However, in order to ensure the outcome you deserve, planning early and establishing a few simple strategies will lay the groundwork for success down the track.

Simply thinking you deserve a pay rise and maybe even asking for, or suggesting it outright might not be enough to get what you are after. To ensure success, you should take some time to build a strong case that demonstrates why you deserve it. Laying the ground work and preparing throughout the year can help you achieve a successful outcome once the time comes to broach the subject. Alternatively, if you’re under-prepared, the experience can be awkward and ineffective.

Your strategy for achieving a pay rise should focus on providing proof of why you deserve it.

Step 1 – Define success. Have a conversation with your manager or supervisor early in the year to discuss what success means to them. For some people’s roles, especially those that don’t have quotas or defined KPIs, success is sometimes subjective. Sitting down and defining what you need to achieve over the next year is a great first step. Write this down and gain agreement from your manager – a quick email confirming the conversation you had is all that’s required.

Step 2 – Record your accomplishments. Continually striving for excellence in your role is the best way to achieve success. But don’t forget to maintain an up-to-date record of achievements as they happen throughout the year – this should include formal performance evaluations, customer thank you or commendation letters and awards, as well as details of all your major and minor wins and successes. Casual comments from colleagues, superiors and customers could be included, as well as details of new systems or processes you implemented or initiated, and tangible victories such as productivity improvements, new customer wins, revenue and/or profit gains.

Step 3 – Know your market value. Do some research to find out what people in a similar role to you earn. Knowing what you’re worth in the outside market is the best way to demonstrate your value to your employer. Make sure to reference your sources and perhaps have examples of recent job ads to prove what you’re saying is true.

Step 4 – Plan your approach. Review your accomplishments before preparing an outline of the conversation you’d like to have with your manager. It’s a great idea to practise what you’re going to say but don’t be afraid to take notes with you, so you remember to cover off all the important points without becoming flustered.

Step 5 – Maintain professionalism. Have the information on hand in order to answer questions and delve into more detail if necessary. Try to relax and present a confident, businesslike approach (preparation will help here). Respond to your manager’s questions and comments in as much detail as required. Acknowledge positive feedback and try not to disagree with any negative feedback – instead use this as an opportunity to gain input into what you could 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. It’s often a better idea to state a range – saying ‘I think I’m worth X’ doesn’t carry as much weight as ‘my recent research indicates that someone in my position typically earns between X and Y’. You could also mention that you’d like to be in the upper end of that range.

Step 6 – Accept the outcome. Accepting the outcome with positivity and grace regardless of the result is important. If your request is rejected, make sure to ask for specific feedback on how you can prepare for a more successful outcome next time, and possibly get agreement on a review time that is sooner than 12 months.

Asking for a pay rise can be a difficult subject for many people to broach, however preparation will ensure the best possible outcome. This shouldn’t be a one off or irregular event either – take some time to regularly review and assess your career status and progress against your goals every 12-18 months.

Would you like help developing a career strategy that puts you on the right trajectory for success? If so, please see our Career Guidance and Career Coaching Services.

Improve your health at work in just five minutes

Article by Belinda Fuller

Impove your mood at work in just 5 minutesResearch conducted over many years consistently indicates that sitting for long periods is bad for both our mental and physical health. But for many of us stuck at a desk all day – it can be difficult not to sit. The standing desk trend took off a few years ago, however recent research suggests that walking around for as little as five minutes each hour can improve mood, prevent lethargy, increase focus, and even dull hunger pangs.

Common medical opinion dictates that long uninterrupted bouts of sitting is unhealthy. Studies consistently show that when we sit motionless, blood flow to the legs reduces and our risk of heart attack, diabetes, depression and obesity is increased. However recent research conducted in the USA indicates that getting up and walking around for just five minutes every hour can have significant health benefits. For many people who don’t have the option of a standing desk or the luxury of working out in the middle of the day, you can probably manage to fit in five minutes of movement for every hour that you’re sitting.

The research study, published in November in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, found that frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before or after work. The study was conducted on a relatively small group of people with researchers initially inviting the sedentary office workers to a university clinic to complete a range of health tests and questionnaires. Heart rates and stress hormones were measured with participants asked to rate their energy, mood and appetite on a numerical scale. Concentration and decision making ability was also measured using a specially designed computerised game.

Participants then visited the clinic on three separate occasions to simulate a six-hour workday. On the first day they sat for the whole time working with no interruptions, except bathroom breaks. On the second, they walked moderately for 30 minutes at the start of their day, and then sat for the five and a half hours with no interruptions, except bathroom breaks. And on the third visit, participants sat for six hours, but began each hour with five minutes of moderate walking on a treadmill.

At the start and end of each session, researchers checked stress hormones and heart rate, with participants asked to rate mood, energy, fatigue and appetite several times during each day, and the computerised testing of concentration and decision making was repeated at the end of each session.

After analysing the data, researchers consistently found that both the morning walking and the five-minute sessions increased participants’ energy, but only the hourly walking had workers reporting greater happiness, less fatigue and less food cravings than on the other days. Their feelings of vigour tended to increase throughout the day with the hourly walking, whereas they had often plateaued by early afternoon after walking only once in the morning.

The good news is that the detrimental effects of sitting all day can be minimised by adding just five minutes of walking for every hour of sitting. Introducing these short bouts of activity during the workday of sedentary office workers seems like a simple approach to improving health and well-being with very little effort or time constraints. So why not jump on board – make it your goal to get moving more consistently at work. You can schedule in just five minutes walking every hour by combining it with your bathroom break, trip to the water cooler or coffee machine.

Katie Roberts Career Consulting provides a range of career advice services including career coaching, resume writing, LinkedIn profile writing, interview training, job search coaching, Myers-Briggs personality profiling, and outplacement services.

Do applicant tracking systems impact your job search process?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Do applicant tracking systems impact your job search processAn applicant tracking system (ATS) is an automated system that helps companies manage the entire recruitment process – from issuing the job ad and receiving the applications, right through to actually hiring the new employee. It’s basically a database that automates the collection of all the important applicant information and helps recruiters screen and select appropriate candidates. So how does this impact your job search process?

In today’s increasingly competitive job market, with many advertised roles regularly attracting hundreds of applicants, and some large organisations receiving thousands of applications each week, ATS programs are becoming more common. An ATS assists the hiring company to streamline the entire recruitment process but that also means your application may never actually be seen by ‘human eyes’. To ensure your resume makes it through the initial automated cull, you should follow some basic rules:

  • Identify and use keywords – read the job description or ad and make sure you include relevant ‘keywords’ in your application – but don’t stuff them in places they don’t belong for the sake of it. Employers are always looking for certain attributes in candidates – this can include specific qualifications, experience, expertise, skills, and even personality traits. By reading the job ad or job description carefully and making sure you cover all the areas mentioned, your application will have a better chance at being ‘selected’ by the ATS. You should also never assume that just because you have a certain qualification or title, the recruiter will know you have a particular skill. If the job ad mentions a ‘requirement’ be sure to explicitly cover it in your application.
  • Reference exact matches – use exactly the same language as what is used in the ad, spell out acronyms and don’t abbreviate words like Department (Dept) or Manager (Mgr). Take notice of how words are written – including plural words, abbreviations, and numbers (are they spelt out or referenced as a number?). For example, saying ‘customer service’ instead of ‘client service’ or ‘CRM system’ instead of ‘Salesforce’ can impact your chances that the ATS will ‘select’ you as an initial match.
  • Double-check your document – this should be obvious, but make sure to correct all spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors before you submit your application, as well as ensuring proper capitalisation of words.
  • Keep the formatting simple – it’s best not to include graphs, images, photos, graphics or logos. It’s far better to spend your time preparing great content with clearly defined sections, sub-headings and bullet points than include content which can confuse the ATS and cause it to produce gobbledygook for the recruiter.
  • Submit your application in the preferred format – upload your resume as a document in the preferred format specified in the job ad or online application form. Try not to cut and paste content where possible.
  • Follow best practice – when it comes to formatting your job history, follow best practice and make sure to include your employer’s full name, your job title and the dates you held the job. Always list your work experience in reverse chronological order – so start with your current or most recent position and work backwards.

Adjusting the content in your resume for every application does take more time and effort than sending a generic resume, but it’s worth it in the long run. ATS technology has transformed the recruitment industry and made it simpler for both the employer and employee to find the perfect fit. Follow these simple rules and give yourself a better chance at being selected. Remember though that once the ATS has ‘selected’ you as an ideal candidate, your application will be reviewed by human eyes so make sure it is visually appealing, easy to read, and not loaded unnecessarily with keywords.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Would you like some assistance to prepare an application optimised for an ATS? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services.

6 things to do before starting a business

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 things to do before starting a businessAs career consultants, we often see clients who’d like to work for themselves. Starting a business can be exciting, but it can also be daunting and confusing. There are so many things to consider and a variety of ways to go about it. Have you thought about the different options? You could start an online or physical business, buy an existing business or franchise, freelance, consult, or contract.

If you’re ready to escape the 9 to 5 grind (and beyond) and map your own future with a business of your own, you might be wondering where to start. The truth is, working for yourself is not for everyone. To ensure success, there is a lot of up front preparation involved before you take the leap. Here’s some things you should consider when starting your own business:

  1. Decide on your why: Starting a business usually involves hard work, long hours, and significantly raised stress levels. Often the freedom and flexibility you desire just isn’t possible in the start-up business phase – particularly if you have added financial pressures where you’re having to work in another job while making the transition. By working out why you’re doing this and what you need to do to make your business work, you’ll be more prepared for the effort involved in making it work.
  2. Decide on the structure: Viable business structures vary from state to state and country to country, and obviously there are tax and other legal implications for different approaches. We advise talking to an expert to find out what’s best for you. Regardless of your structure, you will probably need a registered business name, a dedicated bank account or credit card, and a website and/or some kind of online presence. Comprehensive professional legal advice is usually essential for any professional business.
  3. Do your research: Research your competitors, costs involved, target market, customer needs, your offer, and how you’ll get that offer to market. Businesses need an intimate understanding of their customer needs and pain points, together with an understanding of what’s already available in the market in order to ensure their offer is aimed directly at those requirements.
  4. Establish your finance: Good financial management is critical to ongoing business success. When just starting out, you’ll need to work out how much funding you need initially, and ongoing, where you can get it, and how you will manage it. There are many different sources to consider which could include: personal savings, a loan from a family member or friend, a loan from a bank or other financial institution, financial lease, venture capital investment, and government grant/funding. Don’t forget to factor in all your living expenses and a little ‘fat’ for the inevitable lean times that most small start-ups experience.
  5. Understand your obligations: Again this could involve hiring an expert, or at the very least conducting some fairly in-depth research of your own. Before starting a business there are a raft of obligations you need to understand covering areas such as business registrations, registration of your domain name, intellectual property and/or trademark protection, necessary licences or permits depending on your industry, accounting and taxation obligations, legal requirements, considerations of corporate governance, insurance, and any employee contractual or other considerations.
  6. Network: Whether you’re starting a business from scratch, buying a business or franchise, working as a sole trader, operating a retail store, providing services online or something in between, networking is essential to ensure your long-term success. By developing strong business networks, you will be able to keep up to date on industry and local information, promote your business through new contacts, and learn key skills from other businesses. Research relevant physical events, identify potential referrers or partners, and leverage online networking (LinkedIn in particular). Connecting with like-minded business people to learn from them is also important, and you could even consider seeking out an appropriate mentor to guide you through the initial business set up stages.

Starting a business can be stressful, but it’s also an exciting time that can also be lots of fun. Conducting comprehensive research before starting out, and being super prepared for all the curve balls that will inevitably come your way, is one of the best predictors of success.

Are you unsure if you have what it takes to start your own business? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If you would like some direction in deciding whether this is the right future for you, please see our Career Coaching Services.

 

Best ways to use your gap year

Article by Belinda Fuller

Best Ways To Use Your GAP YearWhere traditionally taking a gap year has been largely the domain of other cultures, Australians are now embracing it in ever increasing numbers. If you’re not really sure what you would like to do at the end of Year 12 or you don’t get into the course you were keen to complete, it might be a good idea to take a gap year. But it’s important not to be idle.

Taking a gap year means taking 12 months off between finishing high school and starting further study or training. Many Australian students are now deciding to defer their university offer for a year, or simply take a year off to gain more clarity around what they’d like to do.

This trend has led to a new industry. If you do a web search for ”gap year Australia”, nearly 8 million results pop up, with new programs being constantly developed covering everything from backpacking and holidaying in Australia and internationally, to working abroad opportunities, adventure tours, volunteering in remote communities locally and overseas, and even jobs with the military.

If you’re not sure what to do at the end of Year 12, you might like to consider taking a gap year. It can be a great idea for many reasons, some of which include:

  • If you’re not really sure what you want to do for a career
  • If you just want to take a break from studying
  • If you’re keen to travel and see more of Australia or the world
  • If you didn’t get into the specific course you were hoping for
  • If you want to gain skills and experience in the area you’d like to study – a ‘try before you buy’ approach to ascertain whether you’re really going to like it
  • If you want to make some money before undertaking further study

If you do decide to take a gap year, it’s important to give it some purpose and structure. There are plenty of things you could do, including undertaking activities that might support your job prospects down the track, or gaining some experience in the area that you would like to study. Here are some ideas:

  • Get a job: Working gives you valuable life skills and experience. Even if the job isn’t within the specific area you’d like to study in the future, a combination of formal study and some work experience is often more appealing to potential future recruiters. Of course, work experience in the area that you’re looking to study is better, so if there aren’t any opportunities for paid employment without previous training – investigate volunteer or unpaid work experience opportunities as well.
  • Travel: If you’ve saved up enough money, you could travel overseas or take a trip within Australia. To get the most out of your trip, and fund it at the same time, you could spend some time working while being a tourist. A UK based organisation that is currently catering to the rising demand of people taking gap years and wanting to participate in adventure travel is Real Gap Experience – with experiences ranging in length from two weeks to two years. Real Gap Experience have sent over 50,000 people on adventures to over 35 countries. Opportunities include volunteer work, paid work experience, teaching abroad or simply travelling around the world.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering is another great way to learn new skills while making a contribution to the community. There are many different volunteering options – including those overseas or within remote or outback areas of Australia. Check out the Seek Volunteer site which was created to provide an effective meeting place in Australia to connect volunteers with opportunities. There are currently around 700 organisations registered with several thousands of jobs covering a diverse range of locations, causes and areas of focus.
  • Go on a student exchange: Many countries offer recent school leavers the chance to attend school and live with a host family. These opportunities provide a unique experience where you’re not a tourist or guest – you live like a local with your host family and become immersed in the culture as a member of the local community while learning a new language (if applicable) and gaining valuable international experience. There are countless overseas study programs that can be undertaken. Student Exchange is an Australian organisation focused on helping students navigate the myriad of options and choices.
  • Make the most of it: Finally, a gap year can be a way to experience things you never have before, or wouldn’t as a student in Australia. Whether you take the opportunity to have a study break, or use it as a time to develop skills to support your future studies and/or job prospects, it can be a memorable and valuable time, and contribute significantly to your longer term career aspirations.

Do you think you’d like to take a gap year? Are you unsure which career path to take or which course to study? If so our Career Advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Coaching Services.