Tag Archives: Career Choice

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.

Will your job exist in five years?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Will your job exist in five years?According to experts, many of the jobs we take for granted today may disappear sooner than we think. With rapid technological advancements, globalisation, increasing government regulatory demands, demographic and lifestyle modifications, the pace of change is rapid. So how can you predict whether your job will still exist in the future?

According to a report released by The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) on ‘The New Work Mindset’, there are new sets of skills required to thrive in the new world of work, as well as a need to shift our mindset around our approach to jobs, careers, and work. Other research conducted over several years indicates that the way we work is increasingly being affected by automation, globalisation and collaboration. So how do we keep pace with change, and how do we even predict if our jobs will exist in the future?

The professions most likely to not exist in the near future are those where automation and/or technology is having the biggest impact and human interaction is not necessarily required. These include bank tellers, secretaries and administrative staff, traditional retail and customer service roles, travel agents, print journalists, manufacturing/assembly line workers, toll booth operations, IT support workers, and other less obvious areas like mining where automation is having a huge impact on human interaction; and university lecturers due to the rise in online training.

While all of these professions may not exist in years to come, most experts predict that while we lose jobs in one area or another, they will most certainly be replaced with other jobs – with many of the jobs of the future not even existing today. For example, some research indicates that over the past 25 years, Australia has lost 1 million jobs in manufacturing, administration and labouring, but gained more than 1 million jobs across the knowledge and service industries.

The jobs that will remain, appear, and continue to grow in demand will almost certainly require human traits such as common sense, compassion and interpersonal interaction, communication, teamwork, problem solving, innovation and creativity, project management and planning, training others, research and analysis, and writing.

The industries with predicted growth include:

  • Health care workers – nurses, pharmacists, radiographers, physiotherapists, community health workers, paramedics
  • Medical staff – GP’s, specialists, surgeons, psychiatrists, dentists
  • Emergency services workers
  • Social workers
  • Beauty and massage therapists, make-up artists, fitness instructors
  • Teachers, childcare workers, special education teachers
  • Policy analysts, statisticians, economists, financial brokers
  • Solicitors, actuaries, market research analysts
  • HR advisors, organisational psychologists, OH&S advisors
  • Gallery or museum curators
  • Detectives
  • Programmers, software engineers, web developers, database administrators

According to the FYA report, jobs are more related than we may have previously realised – with the good news indicating that when you train to work in one job, you may actually be acquiring the skills to work in 13 other jobs (on average). That means the skills you acquire for a role that may no longer exist in the future, will most likely be able to be used in several other roles.

Are you unsure which career path to take or which course to study? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Coaching Services.

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.

Surprising Things That Make a Good Candidate

Article by Belinda Fuller

Surprising Things That Make a Good CandidateGreat candidates come in all shapes and sizes. Just because you have a raft of qualifications and/or experience in a certain area doesn’t mean you’re an ideal candidate for every role that interests you. The problem is complex when fewer roles are advertised, and more and more applicants (often 100+) are applying for each role. So how can you stand out and catch the recruiter’s attention?

Lately, I am coming across more clients wanting to change careers for a variety of different reasons. Many of these clients would like to de-stress their lives and are seeking what they consider, a less stressful role. Whilst most of these clients are well qualified and highly experienced in their current field, I often get the impression they think they’ll be a certainty for those ‘lesser’ roles they’re applying for. The problem with this thought process is that the recruiter doesn’t see it that way. There are many reasons for this – not least of which is that you just don’t have the same level of experience in THAT particular area as other candidates might have.

One of my recent clients was a qualified lawyer who had been working in private practice for about ten years and had built up an impressive array of experience and skills. For personal reasons, this client was seeking a lower to mid-level administration role. In her words, she felt she’d be able to do these roles ‘standing on her head’. She had already applied for a number of roles she thought suited her well but hadn’t received any feedback. The problem stemmed from her Resume not addressing many (if any) of the requirements of roles she was applying for. She felt her legal expertise and experience spoke for itself and would be jumped at by recruiters looking for someone to take on an administrative role. However this just wasn’t the case. We talked about realigning her existing skills and thinking about her legal experience in the context of the roles she was applying for so she became more competitive with the other candidates who had current administration specific experience. Once her Resume was tweaked and targeted, she began to gain some traction with interviews.

So what are some of the surprising things that might make you a good candidate – particularly if you’re heading in a new direction?

Uniqueness: Ask yourself why you’re the best candidate for the job and cover off those reasons in your application. If you’re low on experience in the actual field you’re applying in (even if you have what you believe is higher level experience) think about your transferrable skills and how they’ll contribute to your success. Read our previous article on Why transferable skills matter for tips on identifying and articulating those skills.

Value Add: know how you add value. Talking about your achievements is essential in a Resume and application, but quantifying how you add value is even more important. Using quantifiable numbers and data is the best approach, however if you honestly can’t do that there are other ways to demonstrate your worth. Using the STAR approach to identify and articulate your value is a great place to start.

Social Media Links: recruiters will search for you on social media, so including your links saves them time and shows openness and professionalism. You should include LinkedIn, and any work related Blogs, but avoid Facebook and other personal social media pages. See our article Want the job? Audit your online profile for tips on social media content.

Career Breaks: most candidates are determined to hide career breaks, but this needn’t be the case. Many recruiters see career breaks as an essential part of the career development process. So long as you can show that you didn’t lie around on the couch all day – it can be seen as a valuable, personally, and professionally fulfilling time. Leaving a job to travel can show that you’re not afraid of change, that you’re independent, and comfortable with unfamiliar situations. Experiences like volunteer work, study, or other worthwhile pursuits can demonstrate your good character and could attract the recruiter’s interest.

Volunteer Work and Side Projects: If you’re using your spare time to help others, develop a side business, or work on developing some kind of unique skill set, this can also be of interest. Volunteering is also a great approach if you’re finding it hard to break into a new area – by volunteering in a role that exposes you to the type of work you’re seeking, you can start to develop some of the new skills that might be required.

Failures: Huh?? Yes, failures! Perhaps not an item for your Resume, but certainly something to think about for the interview. Learning from your mistakes and being able to talk about them openly and frankly is a great asset for any candidate. Employers are interested in hearing about new things you’ve tried and how you learnt from your mistakes if things didn’t go exactly to plan. This can demonstrate a proactive approach and willingness to innovate – attractive traits for any good employee.

Don’t be afraid of using specific examples and details of accomplishments and achievements to show your successes. Employers want to see that information – in a cluttered market, having details about the value you added in previous roles, helps them to visualise you as a good candidate and might mean the difference between you being selected for an interview or not.

Would you like some help identifying your key assets and understanding what might make you a more impressive candidate for your next application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

Alternative Pathways to Achieving Your Dream Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

Alternative Pathways to Achieving Your Dream CareerIf you’re someone who’s always known what you want to be when you grow up – think yourself lucky! Not many people have a childhood passion that leads them directly to their dream career. For most people, figuring out what to do can be a confusing and frustrating process. There are endless options and countless considerations. However, these days the path to that dream career isn’t necessarily straightforward.

Figuring out what to do for the rest of our lives can be daunting. It can be especially so for new school leavers focused on their final year and thinking about what to do when they leave. The options are endless – but what should you consider? Should you choose a practical job that provides stability, a good career path and great pay prospects? Or should you follow your passions and choose a career based on something you love?

Following your passions can mean amazing success, but can also come at a cost – it usually involves some level of risk, overcoming fears and judgement by others (often parents), and maybe planning for some kind of fall-back position. As an alternative, many people are happy to indulge their passions on a part-time or ‘leisure only’ basis, while working in a steadier job that earns them their living. This can be just as hard a path to take – with the ‘safe’ option often leading to unhappiness or discontent down the track. If you’re still trying to figure out your dream career, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What activities do I enjoy?
  2. What are my interests?
  3. What am I good at, what are my strengths?
  4. What do I value the most – creativity or stability?
  5. How do I define success – happy, rich, working hard, etc.?

Then brainstorm related jobs. Now could be a great time to enlist the help of a career consultant who can provide an independent perspective in achieving your dream career potential. Career consultants often use formal assessment tools to better understand where your interests, values and personality traits lie in order to identify the careers, industries and work environments that best suit you. Once you have a list of potential careers, do some research to find out more – what qualifications are required, how competitive is the job market, what shape is the industry in, what salary could you earn, what is the potential progression, is it stable, what are the normal work hours, where are roles located and will you need to travel etc.

So what’s next? If you need to go to university but didn’t achieve the required ATAR, alternate pathways are becoming more popular – allowing you to work while studying, take time off after you leave school before starting university, or even combine local and overseas study. Most qualifications can also be pursued at any time throughout your life with just about any course available via part-time, full-time, online, distance or on campus options, or in varying combinations of them all. The three most common alternative pathways to university study are:

  1. Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) – this test assesses students’ knowledge in various areas considered to be important in tertiary study. Unlike Year 12 qualifications, STAT questions are not purely academic, so if you’re keen on a specific course but didn’t do well in Year 12, you could still have a good chance at gaining entry.
  1. Registered Training Organisations (RTO) – including TAFE and other private RTOs which provide different levels of flexibility and/or course content.
  1. Indigenous Australian Uni-Entry Programs – offered by many Australian universities, and designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who missed out on their university course by only a few ATAR scores. Each university has their own set of requirements and unique programs (with differing names) for eligibility so make contact directly to enquire.

In addition to achieving your dream career through study, you may just need experience that you simply don’t have without actually getting the job! We have several suggestions to get around this situation including:

  • Volunteering: or completing an internship (paid or unpaid) could be especially important if your career area is very competitive. Even if you have to work for free, dedicating this time can pay off – many companies employ interns that show promise at the end of their term, but even if you don’t receive a job offer, you will gain some experience that you can add to your resume.
  • Networking: with people you’d like to work for, and at local community, or relevant industry events. You may not land your dream job because of your networking, but it could help you get an interview or introduction that you may not have otherwise.
  • Identifying transferrable skills and achievements: it can be a challenge when you don’t have the ‘listed experience required’ but here’s where you need to think creatively. Identify your transferrable skills and demonstrate why they matter. Show the employer how valuable you are by listing previous achievements. Read our other article this month on How to Identify Your Most Important Employability Factors for tips.
  • Showcasing your work: if it’s a creative field you’re trying to break into, a portfolio is a particularly good idea. But it can also apply to other sectors as well. For example, as a writer – start a blog or write some sample articles or content. As a graphic designer – create some designs to show potential employers. As a service provider – volunteer your services for free for family or friends and document the process and outcomes to build your portfolio.

There are many ways to achieve your dream career which don’t necessarily follow the traditional path. It’s important to be open and flexible when selecting your path to success. Don’t be afraid of change or taking an alternative route to achieve the success you desire.

Would you like assistance finding your ideal career so you can enjoy every day? Our Career Counsellors and Career Advisors can provide you with Career Guidance and Career Coaching Services to help you find your dream career.

5 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 Steps to Creating a Portfolio CareerMore than just a bunch of part-time jobs, portfolio careers are becoming more and more common as people seek to improve their work-life balance and increase overall career and job satisfaction. Many people are finding that juggling two, three or even four jobs can be much more fulfilling and rewarding than holding down one traditional full-time role.

Amongst my group of friends and acquaintances, I’ve noticed the rise in people building their career doing a variety of jobs for a range of different clients or companies. While a portfolio career is similar to freelancing, it’s not quite the same. Whereas freelance work revolves around doing the same, or a similar thing for different clients on an ongoing basis, a portfolio career usually involves a mix of longer term part-time roles that might include some freelance or contract work. It can suit many different types of people, for example, those looking for opportunities post-redundancy, people wanting to become self-employed but with some stability from one or two part-time roles, people looking to pursue something creative that may not pay well initially, people transitioning into retirement, or those looking to start an entirely new career.

It can also suit different industries, for example, you could be a Human Resources Manager with a part-time job working for a small business, a casual teaching or lecturing role at University or TAFE, and a writer for an industry publication.

Some of the benefits of having a portfolio career include:

  • Flexibility – to utilise your unique skills and develop different areas of interest. It might also provide opportunities to explore new avenues far easier than if you are holding down a full time job, as well as being able to pursue self-employment opportunities without the risk of going it alone completely.
  • Independence – to create your own career on your terms, managing your time with family needs or other personal interests.
  • Freedom – to pursue your passions and choose to work doing what you want to do, rather than what the job requires.
  • Variety – and less monotony in your day to day work.
  • Opportunity – in tight job markets, the availability of full-time jobs might fall in certain sectors, with some companies embracing part-time or contract roles as a viable solution. A multitude of part-time jobs might provide the answer.

So how can you create a portfolio career?

STEP # 1: learn about the pros and cons by talking to others or doing some research. While a portfolio career can sound inviting with all that variety and flexibility, for many people, it may just create more stress as a result of having to manage different roles, time involvements, and income sources.

STEP # 2: understand your financial situation and work out how much money you need to feel secure. Try to give yourself a financial buffer for times when income drops. Remember that part-time workers’ hours can often change with little notice, and if you’re freelancing or consulting you need to be constantly identifying new projects and income sources.

STEP # 3: identify your unique skills and attributes. Ask yourself what you have to offer, how will you deliver it, and who will want it – but more importantly who will pay for it and will you be happy doing it?

STEP # 4: once you’ve embarked on your new career, manage your time effectively to ensure you’re not working harder – just smarter. Juggling multiple jobs can be tricky if you’re not organised, so create efficient systems and rules around time spent on each vocation.

STEP # 5: learn some sales and networking strategies, especially if part of your income needs to come from consulting or freelance opportunities. If you don’t have permanent part-time roles, don’t underestimate the time you need to spend on business development activities which are usually ‘non-earning’.

Most people have different sides to them and a portfolio career could be just the approach you need to ensure you gain more fulfilment and satisfaction from your career, while addressing other areas such as freedom, flexibility and independence.

Are you interested in pursuing a portfolio career? Not sure where to start or what skills you need to develop? Our Career Counsellors and Career Advisors can help! Please see our Career Coaching and Career Guidance Services for more information.

 

5 Benefits of Having a Career Mentor

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 Benefits of Having a Career MentorWhile often thought of as mostly valuable at the start of your career or when deciding what you want to do with your career, a career mentor can add significant value right throughout your career. A career mentor can guide and support you to achieve your career goals – whether you’re just starting out or further down the track.

At the beginning of your career, it’s certainly a great idea to find a mentor to help you navigate through these formative years. In addition, the stress of changing careers later on, or the complacency that some people feel after being in the same role for several years, can also be a great time to engage a career mentor.

Learning from someone who has been successful in your field of interest helps improve your confidence and will often provide you with some great strategies to deal with the challenges you might face along the way. So what are the primary benefits?

1. Learning from Real Life Experience: A career mentor will provide you with valuable advice and insight into their own personal journey in the field that you have chosen. They can help you identify skills and expertise you need to develop further – and either teach you or advise you on how best to gain what you need. Mentors can also provide a good perspective on what they may have done differently given the chance. They will share tips on how they overcame any obstacles or challenges they faced along their road to success.

2. Connections: In addition to insight from your mentor’s personal experiences, you could also benefit from their vast network of connections. If your mentor doesn’t have experience with a particular problem you are facing, they will most likely be able to talk with someone who has. In addition, contacts introduced to you by your mentor could provide an opportunity to build your own network. These connections could also help you in the future – by providing a potential business partner opportunity or even a future job lead.

3. Sounding Board: A mentor provides a great ‘safe’ place to bounce off ideas and help you decide which way to go in certain situations. They can also make suggestions that could help you to refine your ideas and provide more efficient or effective ways of achieving desired business outcomes – mentors can often save you from ‘reinventing the wheel’ unnecessarily.

4. Increase Energy & Interest: One surprising benefit of a mentor is to increase your drive to achieve in your current organisation and excite you to pursue your chosen career. Mentors can help you overcome boredom or complacency to explore new and exciting ways to contribute to your current organisation’s success and thus increase your interest in your day to day work. They may also suggest ways to increase your involvement in activities outside of your organisation that will contribute to your career success in the future.

5. Advance Your Career: A mentor helps you stay focused on your career and improve your skills, networks, self-confidence, and ultimate success along the path in developing your career. They help you to learn about yourself and work out how and where you should be headed to achieve an optimum outcome.

Mentoring will teach you what education, books and websites cannot. A mentor will help you identify areas for improvement, establish connections, and create opportunities. It’s up to you as to how hard you want to push yourself, but the insights you can gain about yourself and your chosen field from a passionate and experienced mentor can give you an unprecedented edge over others in developing your career.

Would you like help deciding whether you would benefit from a Career Mentor? Not sure where to go to identify one? If so, our Career Advice and Career Counselling Services can help! Please see our Career Coaching page for more information.

7 Steps to Creating a Career Mind Map

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 Steps to Creating a Mind Map to Explore Your CareerIf there are areas of your career you’d like to improve, including the changes you need to make to achieve more success or happiness, a Mind Map could be just the tool to help you brainstorm and discover your career purpose.

Invented by Tony Buzan as a learning and memory tool while he was struggling to take effective notes as a student, a Mind Map is a diagram used to organise all kinds of information in a more visual and memorable way. Usually, Mind Maps are created around one single topic. An image is drawn in the centre of a blank piece of paper then ideas are added around it with key ideas linked directly to the central subject, and other ideas branching out from these.

A key factor to creating a successful Mind Map is the use of colour, images and curved lines to link ideas, which encourages brainstorming and makes it easier for our brains to remember. Since the human brain finds it easier to remember images rather than words, and it thinks in multiple directions simultaneously – a Mind Map can provide a more effective problem-solving and memory tool than written notes or lists.

There are several Apps and websites available to help you create your Mind Map, or you can simply grab a piece of A4 paper and some coloured pencils and do it the old fashioned way!

7 Steps:

Step 1: Start in the centre of a blank page turned sideways. Using the paper in landscape will give your brain the freedom it needs to spread out in all directions.

Step 2: Your central idea is your career – so start with this using an image or picture to represent it. This helps you to use your imagination because an image is more interesting to the brain than words.

Step 3: Draw your main branches connected to the central image and connect your second and third level branches to the first and second levels. Your brain works by association and likes linking things together in an orderly way. Connecting the branches will help you more easily visualise your primary areas of interest and come up with ideas that relate to them.

Step 4: Make your connecting lines curved rather than straight since curved lines are more
interesting to your brain. Use a combination of colours, images, and words – which again makes it more interesting to your brain and encourages creative thinking.

Step 5: Use one key word for your main branches and then start to brainstorm all the areas you need to consider – creating this wide array of ideas helps you gain a clearer picture of where you’d like to go and how you’re going to get there.

Step 6: Use images throughout your Mind Map because it is said that every image is worth a thousand words. That means if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it’s the equivalent of 10,000 words of notes!

Step 7: Once you have your mind map, use it as the basis to create an execution strategy or road map if you like that will help you achieve your career dreams.

A Mind Map is a creative outlet and should be approached with an open and uninhibited mind – try not to place any limits on yourself as to the number of thoughts, ideas and connections you make.

Ideas for sub-topics include your current job, your dream job, reasons why you want your dream job, key strengths, weaknesses or areas for improvement, core values – especially things that you won’t compromise, interests, lifestyle goals, possible or required training/education, limitations or barriers, areas where you want to work, areas where you don’t want to work, companies that interest you, and role models.

Would you like assistance from a Career Counsellor or Career Advisor to help you map out your career goals to ensure success? If so, please see our Career Coaching Services.

Returning to work after a break

Article by Belinda Fuller

Returning to work after a breakMany people take extended breaks from work these days for a variety of different reasons. Whether you’ve taken time off to start a family, look after an unwell parent, or see the world, returning to work can be exciting but can also often be fraught with anxiety and stress. Whatever your situation, there is sure to be a mix of emotions with the adjustment taking some time to get used to.

The thought of returning to work and the 9 to 5 grind is tough enough without beginning to think about the job search process. Whether you planned your time off or not, there is no ideal approach for everyone. These general tips should help you to think about a personalised approach:

TIP # 1 – Address your barriers – it can be difficult to come across well in an interview if you are worried about returning to work – whether you are thinking about how you will cope with the hours and your young family, the fact that you’ve lost your confidence, or that your skills have become outdated. Whatever it is you are worried about, you need to address it. If you require training or professional help, seek it. Talk to friends or colleagues who have been through a similar situation so negative thoughts can be forgotten prior to any interview.

TIP # 2 – Be honest – we are often asked, “how should I explain the break in my resume?” and our answer is always the same – “be honest without necessarily providing a lot of detail”. If you have an obvious gap in your employment history – you need to explain it. That doesn’t mean creating a job called Domestic Manager and talking up your responsibilities during that time. Running a house and caring for young children is hard, but just say something along the lines of “Parental leave until children reached school age”. Likewise if you travelled, say so, or if you were caring for an ill parent or experienced illness yourself, say so – but briefly. Mention in your cover letter your desire, keenness (and readiness) to get back into your career and focus on the skills and experience you have to offer.

TIP # 3 – Consider a functional resume format – where you focus on skills and achievements rather than a chronological history of specific roles. List skills in detail first, then cumulative career achievements, followed by training, education and professional development, volunteering roles if you’ve held any, and lastly details on the roles you’ve held and dates.

TIP # 4 – Create a volunteer section – make sure to include any volunteer work in your Resume and talk about those roles in the same way you would describe paid employment. This means focusing on achievements – ask yourself how the organisation benefited from your work and include performance metrics if you can. E.g. raising money, organising events, increasing efficiency or effectiveness, or achieving success in other ways. Rather than simply stating you volunteered, talk about what you did and how that contributed to the success of the charity or organisation.

TIP # 5 – Check your image – check your work wardrobe is appropriate for your industry. Find out what is currently acceptable so you don’t feel outdated when going for an interview.

TIP # 6 – Include a customised cover letter – specifically addressing the requirements of the position. Create a strong introduction detailing your qualifications, previous experience and desire to work in the role, with the main part focusing on addressing the specific requirements of the role (what you’ve done/achieved previously); and a convincing closing paragraph summarising your interest in, and relevance for the role. Create a compelling reason for the recruiter to contact you for an interview.

TIP # 7 – Emphasise professional development – think about taking some time to complete some relevant courses that will add to your skills (with currency). Websites such as https://www.mooc-list.com/ offer a variety of free online courses.

TIP # 8 – Stay in touch – lastly and perhaps most importantly, don’t lose touch with your industry/profession or your networks. This means taking an interest and reading/researching on a regular basis to remain updated. Likewise, build and maintain your professional networks by keeping in touch with clients, colleagues and superiors as this can be much harder to achieve down the track. Create a LinkedIn profile, join relevant groups, and commit to staying active. Even allocating one hour a week to this task will ensure you are in a much better position when you do decide to return to work, than if you’d cut yourself off completely.

Would you like career advice and assistance planning your return to work? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

If you are an employer and would like to assist redundant employees to secure a new role, please see our outplacement services.

10 things you should be doing while you’re unemployed

Article by Belinda Fuller

10 things you should be doing while you're unemployedMany successful clients who become unemployed don’t realise how long it can take to secure a new role. Despite indicators the job market is improving, redundancies and unemployment continue to dominate news.

Regardless of your background, or previous success, if you’re unemployed, you can feel a little lost, anxious or lacking in confidence. Even if you chose the period of unemployment by leaving a previous role voluntarily, it can still be difficult. Despite this, there are ways to feel better. Whether you’ve been searching for a new role for a while or just taking a planned break, there are many things you could be doing to boost your chances to secure that next role.

  1. Stick to a schedule: While it might be tempting to sleep in every day and while away the days reading a new book or catching up on your favourite TV series, it’s best to treat Monday to Friday like a working week. Get up at a reasonable hour, dress like you’re leaving the house (even if you don’t), and aim to complete some job search tasks every day. By all means take some time out, but sticking to a schedule is a great way to introduce some positive new habits like regular exercise or a healthier eating regime; or tend to those activities that you never had time for while working full time.
  1. Consider your future. Take this opportunity to really think about whether you are in the right career. Research your market and decide if it’s in good shape. Think about whether you could undertake study or work towards diversifying your skills to move into another area.
  1. Prepare yourself: Think about what your perfect job looks like. Research job sites and the careers sections on individual company’s websites. Meet with recruitment companies and revamp your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile or enlist a professional to prepare a resume and cover letter for you. Develop a job search strategy and start submitting applications.
  1. Think positively: When faced with challenges, we can be prone to negativity. Accept it may be a challenging period and this is a natural emotion, then try to encourage positivity by engaging in activities that help you think clearly and optimistically.
  1. Volunteer: This is an excellent way to use your extra time while helping to feel valued and more confident. It can also provide opportunities to gain valuable experience and contacts if you volunteer in an area related to your job qualifications. At the very least it will look great on your Resume since it shows initiative.
  1. Consider Contract Work: Another way to fill time between full time employment, is to find temporary work through an agency or previous work contact. Not only that, it can help you find a full time role by exposing you to new areas, helping you develop new skills, increasing your contact network, or even as a result of the temp role turning into a full time opportunity.
  1. Network. The more people you talk to, the better. If you’re not on LinkedIn, now is a great time to create a profile. Invite colleagues to connect and let them know you are seeking new opportunities.
  1. Complete a course: Decide on any certifications or courses that would contribute to your employability. Don’t forget to check out free online courses if you’re not in a position to commit to paid courses. Again, at the very least, it will help you stay busy and focused on something worthwhile, while hopefully helping to develop some new relevant job skills.
  1. Get your finances in order. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to seek financial advice or talk to your bank about loans. Do this quickly, so you have one less thing to worry about.
  1. Seek professional help. Career Consultants provide independent advice and up-to-date information on current job markets. They can help with career transition by advising how to position yourself in the market, identify job opportunities and present yourself effectively to employers. They’ll also help boost confidence and ease some of the anxiety.

There are many things you can do to keep yourself busy, improve your skills and aid your job search. Don’t forget to take some time out to treat yourself now and then and use the time off to attend to personal tasks or home projects that you often put off because you’re too busy.

Would you would like help developing a winning resume, detailed job search strategy, or update to your LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills. If so, please see our Career Counselling, Professional Resume Writing Services and LinkedIn Writing services.

If you are an employer and would like to assist employees through redundancy to help them secure a new role, please see our Outplacement Services.