Tag Archives: career happiness

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’ 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: successful career transitions take 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 changing careers? 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.

 

4 Ways to Use Assertiveness to Benefit Your Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

4 Ways to Use Assertiveness to Benefit Your CareerAssertiveness is an essential skill if you want to advance your career. It’s not about being aggressive or getting what you want at the expense of other people’s feelings – but rather a way of politely standing up for yourself, asking for what you want, saying no to unreasonable requests, and achieving ‘win-win’ outcomes.

Assertiveness in an individual can be defined as someone who is not afraid to say what they believe, or ask for what they want. It’s about acting with confidence, authority and assurance – even when you might not feel it. Assertiveness is usually about getting people to do what you want or agree with your thoughts – but without making them feel like they have been bullied into doing so. It isn’t about being pushy, demanding or aggressive. So how can it help your career?

1.  Learning to say no: there are often times at work when you really should say no. Unreasonable requests from colleagues and superiors can drive you crazy and prevent you from achieving the best with whatever it is you should be focusing on. Being assertive allows you to set limits for yourself without being seen as the bully. Learning to say ‘no’ to unreasonable requests whether your plate is full or it just isn’t a good fit for your focus or skillset is a very important talent for anyone at any level. Understand that you will never be able to please everyone, and be OK with that. Know your limits and what will cause you to feel taken advantage of. If you feel guilty saying no (which you shouldn’t), try suggesting a viable alternative as a way of relieving that feeling.

2.  Getting people to do what you want: let’s call this persuasion because being persuasive is another way to win in your career. This is about convincing people, in a nice way that they need to do something. It’s about being able to negotiate an outcome you want but again without being a bully. You can do this by demonstrating the ‘win-win’ – i.e. what’s in it for the other person if they do it. You should plan out what you’re going to say first, so your ideas come across clearly and confidently. Get to the point quickly and don’t include unnecessary information. Practicing what you’re going to say out loud can help because an idea that sounds great in your head may not sound as compelling when spoken out loud. A big part in successfully convincing other people to do something for you is listening – let the other person talk so you can acknowledge what they’re thinking and address any concerns they may have.

3.  Increasing your salary: if you’re waiting to get noticed for a pay rise, you might wait forever. Taking control of your salary and negotiating what you’re worth is an important part of your career progression but we understand that many people do lack confidence when it comes to money. One of the best ways to ask for a pay rise is to put your initial request in writing and then meet with your boss to discuss. By putting together a written proposal you’ll be forced to think hard about your achievements and the reasons why your request for a pay rise is valid. This thought process alone will provide you with more confidence to discuss it. But you must ask – it’s rare that anyone will just hand it to you.

4.  Getting a new job: assertiveness is a very important factor in determining how well you perform at an interview. It will help you to come across as a confident candidate who will be proactive and results-focused. You can demonstrate your assertiveness by maintaining direct eye contact (without staring); talking clearly and firmly with confidence, and maintaining a relaxed and open posture. Avoid devaluing your contributions by using negative or ambiguous language. Try not to use words like ‘only’, ‘just’ or ‘maybe’. Refer to pre-written notes or your Resume without reading from any documents and make sure to ask some well thought out questions to demonstrate your interest in the role and company while showing that you’ve done some research. Be confident in your responses without being smug.

Assertiveness is an essential asset for any successful employee. It’s worth taking some time to develop this skill to help you get ahead in your career, but remember it can take time. Use online resources, read books or enlist the help of an expert.

Would you like career coaching and guidance to help you advance your career? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to Avoid Ruining Your Career Using Facebook

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Avoid Ruining Your Career Using Facebook

While Facebook may seem harmless if you don’t post anything untoward yourself, you should definitely be aware of the negatives. A recent study from three US-based universities suggests that your Facebook profile can be a predictor of job performance. In an experiment, three “raters” (one university professor and two students) evaluated the Facebook profiles of 56 students with jobs. After spending just 10 minutes viewing each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the raters answered a series of personality-related questions, such as “Is this person dependable?” and “How emotionally stable is this person?” Six months later, the researchers matched the ratings against employee evaluations from each student and found a strong correlation between job performance and the Facebook scores for traits such as conscientiousness, agreeability and intellectual curiosity.

So what can you do to avoid a down fall? Some simple tips from experts of what not to do include:

  • Posting inappropriate photos – this goes without saying but these obviously can affect your image at work. Although this isn’t just about wild parties and drunken antics. Think about inappropriate or offensive attire too. Even just posting a seemingly innocent photo in a social situation may not be appropriate for the industry that you work in.
  • Complaining about your job or work – there’s the famous case last year of a worker who vented about her boss on Facebook and was publically fired by that same boss (via a responding Facebook comment) the very same day. While you might not get fired, negative posts about work can make you appear immature, untrustworthy and simply not committed to the role or the company. Sometimes after a bad day at work you just want to vent – but take a deep breath first and think about whether you’d say the same thing in person – if not, then resist the urge to post.
  • Divulging conflicting or confidential information – employers will often use Facebook and other forms of social media to ‘confirm’ claims made in your Resume. If they don’t match, watch out – you won’t be called in for an interview. Conflicting details ring alarm bells for most employers and where there are plenty of candidates to choose from – this is a reason to exclude you. Likewise, divulging confidential information about your company that perhaps hasn’t yet been released to the public domain could land you in hot water.
  • Doing one thing and saying another – again this goes without saying but you’d be surprised at the stories we’ve heard. Take for example, the employee that was supposed to be ‘working from home’ who posted a status update that she was away for a long weekend. Don’t forget that Facebook isn’t a private conversation with an individual or even a group of friends – it’s always open to public scrutiny.
  • Being controversial – this is a tricky one because obviously you want to be true to yourself, and your opinions and feelings, however posting strong opinions on controversial topics could be seen as negative in the eyes of your employer or colleagues. Facebook can be used to validate your professional persona and/or undermine your credibility so be careful what you say.

If you are a Facebook user, make sure you take some time to understand your security and privacy settings, but don’t use that as a security blanket because it’s not foolproof.

If you would like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service or check out our Job Search Coaching Service

7 Steps to Creating a Career Mind Map

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

7 Steps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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