Tag Archives: career happiness

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

The National Heart Foundation of Australia, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and many other leading global health organisations recommend we take 10,000 steps a day to ensure good health. Research certainly indicates the importance of incorporating movement into our day – even small amounts of activity helps us to counteract long periods of sitting, which is linked to all sorts of increased health risks. 

While this is all great in theory – if you’re in a job that’s primarily sedentary or desk based – incorporating movement into your day can be challenging. But with long periods of sitting now proven to increase our risk of all sorts of nasties like heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer – we need to make every effort to move our butts throughout the day!

Here are some simple ways to get more active at work:

  1. Walk or ride to work – or part of the way if this isn’t a realistic option. Walking, riding, or even running to work is a great way to get your activity done as part of your regular day. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away. It might mean setting your alarm a little earlier, but the small amount of lost sleep will be worth it.
  2. Get up regularly throughout the day – take a small water bottle to work or use a glass and aim to consume a certain amount every day. Getting up to fill your bottle every time it’s empty is a great way to incorporate a little incidental exercise. It also gives your eyes a rest if you’re sitting at a computer and is a great mental boost. Pick the water cooler that’s farthest away from your desk too – not the one that’s closest.
  3. Have standing or walking meetings – we all have to sit through any number of meetings in any given day or week which sometimes stretch on longer than really necessary. Try organising a walking or standing meeting which research has proven can be a great way to increase your efficiency, making sure they don’t drag on unnecessarily, as well as getting you out of your chair. For smaller groups or one-on-ones, a walking meeting can be a great way to get things done while achieving some physical activity. The change of scenery can also encourage increased creativity.
  4. Track your activity – activity trackers are the latest craze in the fitness world – and with good reason. They can be a great incentive to get moving. Wear one and you’ll see how few steps you actually take each day unless you make the effort. Wearing a tracker and then incorporating even just small amounts of walking – around the building or the block a few times a day can do wonders in helping you meet your daily goals. Simply aim to increase your steps or distance a little bit each week.
  5. Dress comfortably – so that you’ll be more likely to be active. Walking to work in heels isn’t an option so put on your walking shoes, and take your dress shoes in a backpack or bag. Better still, leave them at your desk if you can. Likewise, if you have some flats or comfy shoes you quickly change into while at work, you might be keener to take the stairs instead of the lift.
  6. Try a standing desk – many workplaces are offering these desks as an option now and they can be great for improving back pain and posture problems. Research indicates that you use many more muscles and burn more calories standing up than sitting down – so it’s a great option if you can manage it. Don’t think you have to do it all day either – incorporating some periods of working while standing is going to be beneficial.
  7. Stretch – try standing up every 30 minutes or so and stretching your chest and extending your spine to reverse the effects of siting hunched over a desk. I have a stretch band by my desk which I can hook around the door handle and do simple exercises to reverse the issues that hunching over a desk day in and day out causes. But even just interlacing your fingers behind your back and stretching out your chest is helpful.
  8. Visit colleagues instead of emailing – how many times do you email someone with a question or request then wait for their response? If they are in the same office as you, consider walking to their desk and resolving the issue there and then. Not only is the movement good but the social interaction is great for mental well-being.
  9. Take a lunch break and use it to move – it’s important just to have a break with many studies now showing that Australians are not good at taking a break for lunch. It’s beneficial for your creativity and gives you a boost in productivity for the afternoon. However, it’s also a good opportunity to get moving. Instead of eating at your desk or sitting in a common area chatting, take a walk outside for at least part of the time. Even better, grab some co-workers and join a gym, go for a run, or climb some nearby stairs.
  10. Schedule in mini-breaks – a few times a day, put 10-15 minutes into your calendar to take a break. It’s great to do this mid-morning and mid-afternoon, in addition to your lunch break. During these times, try to get away from your desk – if possible take the stairs and get outside – even just for five minutes. Again, the physical benefits are obvious, but the mental and clarity of mind benefits are also there.
  11. Don’t wait idly – turn it into an opportunity to move. If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, the coffee machine, photocopier, or even the bathroom – use it to do some exercises like lunges, squats or calf raises – or simply take a quick walk.
  12. Involve others – getting co-workers involved is also a great motivation. Either formally or informally – organising a small office challenge is a great way, or training for an upcoming fun run or walk event. You could do something as simple as tracking your steps and monitoring who does the most in a day, organising walking groups at lunchtime, or setting an alarm and getting up each hour to have a stretch and a walk. Get an office team together – it’s easier to be more active if you’re doing it as a group. The support will make it more fun and social, while motivating you to actually get up and do it.

Whether you choose to incorporate one, a few or all of our tips – you will see the benefits – and that includes both physical and mental health improvements.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also have experienced writers who provide professional Resume Writing Services and LinkedIn Profile Writing Services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.

The skills to develop today to succeed tomorrow

Article by Belinda Fuller

The skills to develop today to succeed tomorrowThe future of work is changing rapidly. Industries are shrinking, jobs are vanishing, and professional skills are evolving faster than ever before. Some experts predict we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution with changes marked by mind boggling advances in digital, physical and biological technologies set to revolutionise our future. How can we keep pace with change to ensure future career success?

If you are looking to advance your career, you may have already identified the areas you need to gain more experience; or the knowledge you need to develop in order to progress. With the future set to bring such staggering change and advancements – we’ve identified some of the skills we think will be important for individuals to succeed.

  1. Complex problem-solving skills – in our rapidly changing world, problems are becoming more complex and harder to solve due to incomplete, contradictory or ever-evolving trends, requirements and threats. Problems that we have never seen before are cropping up more often, so people who can think innovatively to identify viable solutions will be in demand.
  2. Critical thinking – this can be defined as the objective analysis of facts to form a judgement. Often the subject is complex and requires analysis or evaluation of vast amounts of information. In today’s ‘information age’, data is available everywhere – with companies collecting huge amounts of data about everything their customers do on a day-to-day basis. Being able to leverage and effectively utilise this information for competitive advantage is a key skill to have.
  3. Creativity & Innovation – competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done probably won’t cut it any longer. Having the ability to think outside the box to achieve success is a top skill to possess.
  4. Collaboration – working well with others and appreciating the input from different team members is essential in today’s work environment. Human interaction in the workplace will become more and more important as computers and robots take over certain tasks. Being able to work together to leverage individual’s strengths while being aware of any weaknesses and adapting to address these will be important.
  5. Leadership – regardless of how much an organisation and its day-to-day operations become ‘automated’, employees will remain at the heart. Being able to develop strong relationships with employees and successfully lead teams to success is important. Listening carefully to understand concerns; identifying ways you can help them become more efficient, effective and enthusiastic; and developing and maintaining strong ongoing professional relationships is key. Good leaders consistently provide support and show their team they are there for them. It is more vital than ever for future leaders to know how to motivate teams, maximise productivity and respond quickly and effectively to needs.
  6. Service orientation – digitisation, technological advancements, and increasing competition means customers will be picky – and rightly so. Customers have the ability to choose who they do business with and the capacity to change as often as they desire. It’s no longer as difficult as it once might have been to switch suppliers or move to a different brand. People who make the customer experience their priority, anticipate what customers need, and design products and solutions to meet those needs, will be in demand.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear that we all need to develop new skills if we’re going to keep up with, and hopefully ahead of, all the changes. Achieving success in your career is an ongoing process and something you can constantly work on. Some of the skills we’ve talked about are ingrained, but more often than not, the skills and traits needed to succeed can be learnt.

These are just some of the many skills we think might be required for future career success. Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your career? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

4 career lessons I learnt from my mum

Article by Belinda Fuller

Four career lessons I learnt from my mumDespite my mum never telling me that life was like a box of chocolates, I love this analogy because life really is a colourful mix of great and not so great that when put together is hopefully more good than bad! My mum always tried to focus on the positives and she continually reinforced four key messages that I think are great career lessons for anyone.

I didn’t always think my mum was wise, especially as a teenager! As a mum myself now, I often wonder if the guidance and support I’m providing my children is enough. It got me thinking about the lessons I’d learnt as a child and young person and how they influenced my career decisions later in life.

  1. Never look back: “The only time you should look back is to see how far you’ve come”. Dwelling on the ‘what could have been’ is no good for anyone and definitely a career killer. Focus on the future and what can be, rather than worrying about what you should have or could have done in the past. Commit to making some changes today that will impact on your future success.
  2. Always try your best: Every day, across almost every aspect of our lives, we have the option of ‘doing our best’ or being satisfied with something less. Regardless of the result, my mum was always more concerned about whether I’d tried my best. There will always be an excuse as to why you shouldn’t or didn’t give something your best effort, but when it comes to your career – it really does matter. If you’re not doing your best, then you’re operating at a lower level, you’re compromising your standards and you’re setting yourself up for consistent achievement of a lower level performance. So give it your all – with 100% effort (and no lies to yourself about the fact that you tried your best when really you didn’t), not giving up after just one attempt, and seeking help where you need it.
  3. Learn from your mistakes: Mistakes are made to teach us. We make mistakes every day, some that matter and some that don’t. The fact is, most mistakes are great learning opportunities – especially when it comes to your career. Mistakes can:
    • Help us determine what works and what doesn’t
    • Clarify what’s important in our life
    • Teach us how to tell the truth (by being honest about our failures)
    • Increase our capacity to change and grow
    • Help us take responsibility for our actions rather than shifting blame
    • Identify the need not to over-commit
    • Make us understand the importance of focus to achieve success.

So embrace your mistakes, and turn them into a learning opportunity – just try not to make the same mistake twice!

  1. Happiness is a journey: It’s not a destination that once reached is put aside. In philosophy, happiness translates from the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to ‘the good life’, or flourishing, rather than simply an emotion. In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being with positive or pleasant emotions. People often think they’ll be happy when they “lose the weight, get the job, are in a relationship, buy the car etc…” but this is often not the case. The fact is, happiness is a choice with different people approaching the same situations with vastly different attitudes. If you approach your situation with positivity, you will be happier. See our article Choosing to be happy at work for tips on workplace happiness.

There are many other life lessons that can be translated to career success – you can’t please everyone, money doesn’t buy happiness, you don’t always get what you want, there’s no shame in not knowing the answer, your health is more important than anything, and the list goes on. What did you learn growing up which has influenced your career success?

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 Guidance Counselling or MBTI personality profiling.

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.

Improve your health at work in just five minutes

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

8 Tips to Survive Your Probation Period

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

How to Get Off The Fence When Considering a Career Change

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you procrastinating about making a career change? Our Career Counselling service can help you get clear on the best path to take. Are you lacking a good quality Resume or online profile to help you find your perfect role? If you would like assistance writing professional documents that highlight your strengths and achievements and set you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing or Resume Writing Services.

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.