Tag Archives: Career Counselling

7 ways you know you’re doing a great job

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 ways you know you're doing a great job

Job satisfaction is often linked to how appreciated you feel at work. Sometimes you might not receive the praise you crave and if you’re unhappy at work, it can be difficult to perform. Not every manager is great with praise and some just don’t have the time or inclination to understand how important occasional compliments are. But there are other, subtler ways to tell you’re doing a great job.

There are many times throughout your career when you need to assess your performance. For example, when you’re due for a performance review, when you’re feeling unmotivated, or when you’ve received some unfavourable feedback. If you’re faced with any of these situations, try to assess your performance honestly. If you can, go back to your job description, performance plan, or KPIs to formally assess how you’re going against those goals. Some ways to prove you’re doing a great job, even though you might not actually hear it, include thinking about the following areas:

  1. The value you add: Ask yourself where you might have added value and assess how this helped your manager, department, or the overall company. Try to keep track of any accolades received from colleagues, clients and others; and remember all the things you’ve done to improve processes or ways to get things done.
  2. Your measurable success: Many roles can be easily tracked in terms of performance – sales made against budget or marketing metrics such as responses, likes or clicks. But for other roles that aren’t metrics driven and easy to measure, think about your actions and how they meet or exceed expectations. Did you follow instructions, procedures or rules? Did you deliver an outcome when you said you would? Did you receive some positive feedback from a client or colleague?
  3. Being the go-to person: If you are constantly being asked questions about a variety of areas of the business, there’s a good chance you have become the company ‘go-to person’. Learning about the company and how things work and sharing that knowledge with your colleagues is an excellent trait for any employee and a good indication that you’re doing a great job.
  4. You’re reliable: If you get asked to help out on projects, or assist with last minute tasks, you can be relied upon to get the job done. An employee who turns up on time, listens, does what’s expected of them, is trustworthy, and shows respect is a productive and valuable employee.
  5. You’re asked for your opinion: Being given the opportunity to attend meetings to listen and offer your view on different areas is another indicator that you’re doing a great job and your efforts are appreciated.
  6. You’re proactive: Some people wait to be told what to do, and others take their own initiative to get things done. Managers notice self-motivated, proactive team members so if you offer to help out on tasks that you notice need to be done, but might not be in your direct area of responsibility – you’re probably doing a great job!
  7. You solve problems: Being a problem solver is important, so if you’re faced with a challenge and you tell your boss about the issue while also offering suggestions on how you think it should be fixed, they’ll appreciate your efforts. It makes their life easier and proves to them that you’re invested in the company’s success just as much as they are.

It is important to understand that some managers aren’t great at giving feedback. If you find yourself in this situation, often simply asking for feedback is a good approach. Otherwise, you could find a mentor – either within the company or outside. Mentors can offer advice and they’ve usually faced some of the same challenges you might be experiencing. They’ll help you strategise ways to deal with issues and support you on your path to success.

If you would like help with any aspect of your career, please see our range of Career Counselling Services.

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.

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.

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.

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 fit study in while working

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to fit study in while workingOne of the most common barriers to completing further study while working full-time is the perception that you don’t have enough time. We have found that it can be done though – even for the busiest of people. It just takes commitment, some careful planning, and the willingness to perhaps give up some activities for a short period.

Many of our clients fit full-time study in while working full-time and at first it can seem like an impossible (or downright crazy) thing to do. For many people, there just isn’t any alternative for financial reasons. Others may want to study while working to support their knowledge with practical skills, or retain their position in the workplace while studying. Regardless of the reasons for undertaking study while working, it’s important to maintain a balance otherwise you are likely to burn out. In saying that, there are some periods that you will feel like all you are doing is working or studying. This is where some pre-planning is important.

Here are our tips:

  • Schedule everything: at the beginning of the semester or study period, you should receive notifications of exams, assessments and anything that needs to be handed in or completed. Record all these important dates into a wall or desk planner that is easily visible. Work out what needs to be done for each subject and schedule in time each day or week to do that. By all means, enter this into your electronic calendar, but having it on show permanently will urge you to do something towards your goals on a more regular basis. If you create a schedule at the beginning of the semester and highlight when certain things need to be done by, you’ll have a much better chance of success.
  • Split up your reading: for many people, reading is time consuming and can’t be done at the last minute. I don’t know about you, but I can only read a certain amount of information that needs to be retained in one sitting otherwise I just end up with brain fog. Similar to the above point, work out what you need to read and how long you have to complete it then create a schedule that helps you understand how much reading you need to do on each day or each week. Once you have your schedule, enter it into your planner and commit to doing it so you don’t end up overwhelmed at the end.
  • Maximise your commute: at one time in my life when I was studying while working full-time, I chose to catch the train so I could read and/or prepare for assessments even though I had access to free parking. Alternatively, if you must drive to work, you could investigate audio options. You can even convert PDF documents to audio files with various free online tools.
  • Use your time efficiently: keep some study notes with you at all times, so that when you are faced with a wait or down time, you can slot in some reading or preparation. Even short periods of 5 or 10 minutes can help – when you’re waiting in a queue, sitting at an appointment, or even working out at the gym (on a treadmill or bike) you can create some extra reading or study time.
  • Make sacrifices: while we don’t recommend abandoning all leisure activities or time spent with family and friends, there are going to be times when you need to sacrifice things. You could be the most organised person in the world, but freeing up blocks of time to focus on study will make all the difference in the long run. Think about how often you watch TV or mindlessly scroll through social media. Sometimes saying yes to a social event is an automatic response, when you could have a catch up at another time that doesn’t interfere with your study.

It’s important to be realistic and work out how you can make your study schedule work. Planning ahead and working when you’re most productive helps you to achieve more in less time. And, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan – simply make another time to catch up on what you’ve missed and keep your eye on the big prize at the end.

Are you interested in studying but unsure which path to take or course to study? If you would like some direction, please see our Career Guidance Counselling.

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.

How to Identify Your Most Important Employability Factors

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Identify Your Most Important Employability FactorsFor most of us today, a career for life is simply not an option. We usually have several different jobs, with a variety of different employers, in various different industries or sectors throughout our working lives. This means we need to be flexible when identifying the factors that make us employable – those skills that help us acquire, retain and achieve success in a job.

So what exactly are ‘Employability Factors’? Basically they are the set of achievements, skills, expertise, and personal attributes that help you achieve success in your chosen career. Most employers seek candidates that have other abilities beyond just the required qualifications and experience. These are a more comprehensive or balanced mix of experience, soft skills, and value that you add in your day to day work.

I’ve written before about how soft skills can help advance your career so this is a great place to start. The most important soft skills for your chosen career don’t necessarily align closely with the technical knowledge or hard skill sets required. They relate to the way in which you interact with and treat others, make decisions, or react to different situations. They include:

  1. Communication: employers mostly seek candidates who can clearly and concisely articulate ideas and needs (both verbally and in writing) with a wide variety of people.
  1. Interpersonal: being able to develop working relationships is seen as one of the most important skills for any employee. It means you can empathise with others and build important relationships – with colleagues, superiors, clients, suppliers, and other employees.
  1. Creative Thinking & Innovation: competition is fierce across most industries today, so doing things the way they’ve always been done isn’t ideal. Having the ability to think outside the box to solve problems and make decisions can offer new perspectives or approaches and is a huge asset to any employer.
  1. Collaboration: the ability to work well with others and appreciate input from different team members is essential, and will result in higher levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and ultimately success for any organisation.
  1. Presentation Skills: being able to present ideas and information effectively is vital. This isn’t just about making formal presentations, but also includes speaking at informal meetings and preparing written reports, business or project plans, or more detailed strategy documents.
  1. Leadership: having the confidence and ability to influence other people’s decisions and outcomes is important. Leadership isn’t just for ‘leaders’ or managers, but is important for all employees to progress and succeed.
  1. IT Skills: most people need some IT skills to do their job. As a minimum, you should understand the basics of IT such as using the internet, sending and receiving emails, and using word processing and/or spreadsheet applications.

In addition to these soft skills, you should be able to identify the value you add. A great way to do this is to talk about your achievements because new employers don’t know your history – they need to understand the value you can add in the role, and  this can be achieved by explaining past achievements.

Achievements don’t always have to be money or number focused (although it is great if they are). This is where many candidates get bogged down – they don’t have a revenue generating role so they think they don’t have ‘achievements’. However, there are many different areas we can look to for achievements. Think about things that you do in your day to day work that benefits your business, customers, and/or colleagues. Sit down with a pen and paper and think about anything you did:

  • where you received positive feedback or praise from a colleague, superior or client;
  • that made you feel proud;
  • that solved an ongoing issue or problem in the business;
  • that involved working in a team – say a larger project that was completed collaboratively;
  • that provided a new way of doing something;
  • that reduced the time taken or cost required; and
  • that improved service or support, or the quality of the outcome.

Once you’ve identified these soft skills and past achievements, you have the basis of your most important employability factors – the reasons why an employer would choose you over someone else. It’s also important to have a good attitude towards personal development because employers want ‘lifelong learners’ – people who are willing to adapt, change, and constantly learn in order to do things better for their organisation.

Would you like help identifying and articulating your most important employability factors so your next job application has a better chance of standing out? If so, please see our Career Advice and Resume Writing Services.

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.