Tag Archives: Job Hunting

How to be a successful job seeker

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to be a successful job seekerIf you are seeking a new role in today’s competitive market, you probably know you need to leverage every available resource. That means tapping into your network, polishing your application materials, practising your interview skills, and doing your homework on organisations. But what else can you do to better support your job search efforts in this rapidly changing recruitment market?

Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, energy, and a great network. To ensure success, you need a plan. Developing a structured job search strategy that takes advantage of the latest job search tools and helps you tap into hidden job markets is a great tactic. Technology advancements and rapidly changing approaches to recruitment means it’s more important than ever to ensure you set yourself up for success. So what can you do today to ensure that success?

  1. Sign up to alerts: Identify relevant job search sites, recruitment agencies, professional associations, university career websites, industry journals, and the LinkedIn job directory. Sign up for automated alerts if the option is available and create a dedicated favourites folder for fast, easy reference.
  2. Identify and meet recruiters: Search your target role on popular job sites and identify common recruiters. Add the sites to your favourites folder and make a note of individual consultants. Try to gain introductions, either via LinkedIn or in person.
  3. Be open-minded about job titles: Try creative search combinations when searching online job sites. New job titles are being created every day and if you discard preconceived ideas about these, new opportunities can open up that you may never have thought of.
  4. Polish your application: How many applications have you sent off and how many interviews have you secured? If it’s not many, you might need to revamp your Resume and/or application process. Think about seeking feedback from someone in your industry, or consider getting a professional involved. Always include a customised cover letter for each application and address as many ‘job requirements’ as you can.
  5. Build your online presence: There are many ways to do this including LinkedIn, writing a blog, developing your own website, creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work, however as a minimum, most job seekers should have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a current, professional photo. Fill out as many sections as you can as this will provide a comprehensive view of you, as well as creating additional opportunities to connect with others.
  6. Access the hidden job market: Some jobs are never advertised so this is an important part of your job search strategy. Connect with recruiters you identified in step 2. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their careers page and follow them on social media. Network and connect with others in your industry, join relevant LinkedIn groups and make active contributions to help build your profile.
  7. Check your social media: First impressions are everywhere and many employers look up candidate’s social media pages as part of the screening process. Making sure your privacy settings are appropriate is a good first step – however you should generally assume that everything is visible – so clean up any inappropriate content and edit pictures.
  8. Network: Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face-to-face meetings etc. Join relevant professional associations and networking groups, and attend seminars and connect with people in your industry.
  9. Take your time to apply: This may seem counter-intuitive – especially if it’s your dream role. But, the worst thing you can do is submit an application without proper preparation. Taking time to research the company and people who work there, and asking for advice can be invaluable in ensuring your application gets read. You could start by calling the contact person listed on the job ad and ask them what key things they’re looking for in an application. You might be surprised at what they say and at the very least you’ll have a leg up on other candidates who didn’t take the time to do this.
  10. Prepare for the interview: One of the biggest mistakes we see is candidates focusing on landing the interview, but not thinking too much beyond that. To prepare for your interview you could brainstorm common questions, practise your answers, research the company, prepare some relevant questions of your own, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and most importantly practise listening without interrupting – so you can respond more effectively to every question you get asked.
  11. Stay in touch: Once you have identified relevant recruiters and companies, make sure you follow them up at regular intervals and stay in touch.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex. There are multiple avenues to tap into so being organised will help you to identify all the positions you may be suitable for. See our previous articles on job search strategies for more tips on effective job search planning.

Would you like to become a more successful job seeker? Perhaps you need assistance with writing a winning resume, creating a job search strategy, updating your LinkedIn profile or improving your interview skills? If so, please see our Resume and Cover Letter writing, Job Search Coaching, LinkedIn profile writing and Interview Coaching services.

Positive language for positive outcomes

Article by Belinda Fuller

Positive language for positive outcomes

The language you use in any situation is so important in effectively conveying your message. Often employers look beyond a candidate’s skills, experience and qualifications to seek out positivity. This is particularly so in competitive markets where experience might be equal with many candidates who could ‘do the job’. In this case – the enthusiasm with which you tackle things provides a key advantage.

If you think about your day-to-day interactions with people and how they make you feel, positive language can have a huge impact, and will usually create a far better impression than negative or even neutral language. How often does someone say “not too bad” when you ask how they are? The other day at the grocery store, I asked a young man how he was and he said “I’m fantastic! In fact, I’m always fantastic!” That left a great impression on me and provided me with an immediate insight into his mood and outlook on life. The difference between “not too bad” and “fantastic” is stark and can make a huge difference to the questioner’s impression of the person. Regardless of the situation, people feel automatically lifted when positive language is used over negative language.

When employers are evaluating prospective candidates – beyond skills, experience, and qualifications, they seek out positive people. If all other aspects are equal, a candidate who demonstrates positivity and enthusiasm will usually have an advantage over one who is negative or disinterested. It demonstrates that the candidate would probably complete the job in an upbeat and cooperative manner. Many employers would prefer to provide some on-the-job training to an enthusiastic but less experienced worker than hire someone with the perfect background but a less than positive attitude.

By using positive language and ensuring an upbeat attitude in interviews, with your colleagues, and your clients, you will set yourself up for success. In fact, it’s a critical factor in determining workplace success. Employers promote employees who not only produce results, but also motivate others in the workplace, and a positive approach can help with this.

There are many ways to use positive language and demonstrate enthusiasm in the workplace. For example, in a job interview – discuss previous experiences and training in an upbeat manner, smile, sit up straight, and make eye contact. Once in the workplace – listen, learn, and try new things. Be proactive and offer to help others, or seek out new tasks or projects in your down time. In addition to using positive words in your everyday language, it’s worth being mindful of how you phrase things too.

Positive language:

  • tells the recipient what can be done
  • suggests alternatives and choices
  • is helpful and encouraging.

Negative language:

  • tells the recipient what can’t be done
  • has a subtle or obvious tone of blame
  • emphasises negative actions or consequences.

Try to use positive rather than negative language and stop yourself if negativity starts to creep in. Here’s some examples of how you can replace a negative phrase with a more positive one:

This phrase Could be replaced with
I can’t Let me look into that for you
No problem Definitely or Certainly
Not too bad Great
Can’t complain Everything is going well thanks
I’ll try I will
I forgot I’ll set a reminder for next time
Never give up Keep up the good work
I am stress free I am calm and relaxed
Constructive criticism Feedback

Language is a powerful tool. Whether you communicate verbally, or in written form, the language you use affects how the message is perceived. Using positive language can help to reduce conflict, improve communication, increase optimism in others and can portray the speaker/writer as credible and respectable. Even unpleasant news can be softened by the use of positive language.

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

How to stand out the right way

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

Where are Australia’s biggest job opportunities?

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

We’ve summarised the results below:

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

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

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

9 effective networking tips – even if you’re an introvert

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 Effective Networking Tips - Even If You’re An Introvert Research suggests that a huge proportion of jobs are now found through networking alone with many jobs never even advertised. This can make it difficult if you’re an introvert since the prospect of making small talk with a roomful of potential ‘contacts’ can be very daunting. If you find it hard to establish rapport with new people, we’ve discovered some sure-fire tips to help you handle it.

Small talk doesn’t come easy to many people and it can be a huge effort to establish rapport with people you’ve never met before. I was fairly shy when I was younger and I really struggled to open up to strangers. As a marketing communications manager for a global IT firm, I was expected to attend many functions for work and this was often intimidating for me. I learnt little tricks to help me navigate this essential ‘social’ part of my career and here’s a few I thought I’d share:

TIP # 1 – Prepare: If you get nervous talking to new people, research who’s going to be there and have some questions or topics pre-prepared. If it’s a networking event, you can talk about their career or yours – questions like ‘How did you get started?’, ‘What do you like best about what you do?’, ‘Why do you attend networking events?’, and ‘What other networking events do you attend?’ are all great starting points.

TIP # 2 – Realise you’re not alone: Think about how others feel and recognise that you won’t be the only person feeling this way. Remember that many other people are also not fond of networking events so just start a conversation – you might be helping someone else to feel more comfortable! ‘Have you been to this event before?’ is a good opening line.

TIP # 3 – Listen: Once you start a conversation, try to remain present. Ask lots of questions and listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t let nerves get the better of you by constantly worrying about what you’re going to say next. Practice your listening skills and be interested in what the other person is saying. This will drive further questions and contributions from you and hopefully you can have a mutually enjoyable exchange!

TIP # 4 – Smile and keep your body language positive: Don’t hide with your arms crossed in the corner. If you’re looking more casual and giving off positive vibes somebody might just walk up to you and initiate a conversation. This won’t happen if you’re not looking approachable.

TIP # 5 – Leverage social media: Introverts often communicate better in written format, so taking advantage of social media, email and other online forums is a great natural fit. You can use this strength to your advantage after any physical networking opportunities since many people never even take the opportunity to follow up. Sending a brief post-event email or LinkedIn connection request is a quick and easy way to cement your new contact.

TIP # 6 – Focus on quality not quantity: Don’t focus on how many people you talk to, but rather the quality of the conversations you do have. If you make one quality connection at an event, that’s better than talking to ten different people and making no connections. And forcing yourself to speak to lots of different people will put you under even more pressure whereas giving yourself permission to do much less takes the pressure off.

TIP # 7 – Learn to brag: Kidding……. kind of. You need to be vocal about your accomplishments, however this can be hard if you’re not that kind of person. Try thinking about your achievements and accomplishments as little mini stories you can tell about what you’re good at. Think about the things and projects you’ve worked on that make you feel good, and that you’re excited and/or passionate about. It will be easier to talk about these with strangers and it will feel more natural talking up your achievements.

TIP # 8 – Challenge yourself to a time limit: If you’re at a physical networking event that you really don’t want to be at, set yourself a time limit. This could be 30 to 45 minutes which really isn’t very long. Grab yourself a drink and something to eat and put some of the tips from above into action. You’ll be amazed at how quickly that time goes – who knows, once that time is up, you might even feel like staying longer!

TIP # 9 – Follow up: Since introverts are often good at written communications – this part is easy! Many people are terrible at follow up so just by dropping an email or sending a LinkedIn connection request (always with a short customised message reminding your contact who you are) means you’ll be ahead of the game in no time.

Some experts suggest that as many as 80% of jobs are not being advertised, but we find most people are still spending the majority of their job search effort looking for advertised roles. While networking will certainly help you to find a job and advance your career, it’s not just about that. Finding new clients, building new business relationships, and identifying partner opportunities are all benefits that will also result from networking. So what are you waiting for?

Do you cringe at the thought of networking? Would you like to learn new networking strategies designed to increase your job opportunities? If so, please see our Job Search Coaching Services and Career Counselling Services.

Will your job exist in five years?

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

The industries with predicted growth include:

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

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

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

Useful Career Resources and Tools

Article by Belinda Fuller

Useful Career Resources and ToolsJob hunting and/or making a career change can be demoralising and downright confusing. Applying for endless roles, and not hearing back, or worse still receiving automated rejections within minutes of submitting an application can dent even the most positive person’s confidence. With a raft of online and digital resources out there to help, this article summarises our top recommendations and what they’re useful for.

I have listed just some of my favourites, and incorporated others from my career coaching and interview training colleagues. Our number one tip for job seekers is to always conduct comprehensive research. We suggest researching the role you are seeking to achieve; gaining an in depth understanding of the requirements of the role in terms of qualifications, skills and experience; identifying any industry specific recruiters you should be talking to; having an appreciation of the keywords used by employers to seek candidates; and understanding the salary expectations. Without this understanding you may not achieve the success you deserve.

Some of the many resources we use on a regular basis to help our clients include:

  • www.seek.com.au – in addition to listing open positions across Australia and within many global locations, Seek also provides significant other resources for job seekers. You can quickly and easily set up job alerts to ensure you don’t miss any viable opportunities and you have the option to establish a personal profile which can be viewed by potential employers who make direct contact with you. I also recommend clients use Seek as their personal online career database – it’s a great tool to help you clarify many aspects of your job search – use it to understand what roles are being advertised and where, identify keywords and transferable skills, clarify required qualifications, pinpoint companies and industries that may currently be advertising, identify potential relevant recruiters, and access current salary information.
  • http://insightsresources.seek.com.au/employment-trends – Seek’s insight and resources area contains a raft of information on employment trends (broken down by State).
  • www.seek.com.au/Recruiter – another of Seek’s resources that allows job seekers to search for some of Australia’s leading recruitment agencies and view their current job vacancies on SEEK. This is particularly helpful if you’re in a niche market with just a small number of recruiters retaining most of the advertised roles.
  • www.aqf.edu.au/aqf/in-detail/aqf-qualifications – this is a great resource for school leavers or people looking to change careers since it’s the simplest way we’ve come across to explain the hierarchy of qualifications.
  • www.myskills.gov.au – this government resource provides a national directory of vocational education and training (VET) organisations and courses. It is a federal government initiative targeted towards enabling consumers to search for, and compare, VET courses and training providers.
  • www.careerone.com.au – this site lets you browse jobs in a variety of ways and offers a range of career advice, time saving and job hunting tips under the career advice section. It can be used in a similar way to Seek to better understand your different career options.
  • www.livesalary.com.au/search-salaries.aspx – a specialist salary exchange website created as a resource for people seeking relevant, real time salary information. Salary data is entered by Australian employees and compiled anonymously so all Australians, free of charge, can determine how their salary compares to their colleagues. Salary information is available on literally thousands of different job titles with data shown in real time – so the moment salary data is entered it becomes available to the entire community.
  • www.fairwork.gov.au – The FairWork Ombudsman aims to provide an effective and efficient workplace regulator that is responsive to the evolving needs and expectations of the Australian Government and the community. This website is a great resource that provides a vast array of advice and information about workplace rights and obligations.
  • www.moocs.co – a simple central directory of existing free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available in K-12, higher education and other areas for anyone looking to learn. A Mooc is a free online course available to anyone and is a great concept if you don’t want to commit to a long term study option or would like to ‘try before you buy’. Most courses are structured similar to paid online courses in terms of the teaching and learning methods – where video, group chat, assignment and tests are all included – but they don’t generally provide academic credit for use in other traditional courses, nor will you have much (if any) interaction with the lecturer.
  • www.business.gov.au – if you are considering establishing your own consultancy or small business, this site provides everything you need to know – including business setup advice, taxation obligations, financial and insurance information, general business planning, information on employing people, grants and assistance, and a vast array of other useful facts.
  • www.google.com – with so many resources on recruitment, training and career advice available at a national, state and local level, it’s worth spending some time conducting some general research to identify what’s available in your particular area.
  • www.katieroberts.com.au/career-advice-blog/ – finally, our own blog contains a raft of articles on various topics relating to choosing a career, resume writing, job searching, LinkedIn, writing job applications, and preparing for interviews.

Are you searching for the right career but unsure which path to take? Do you trawl the internet looking for career and/or training inspiration? Are you struggling to make sense of all the career resources out there? Perhaps you are confused about which course to study.

If you would like help developing a comprehensive job search plan or career strategy, please see our Career Counselling Services and our one-on-one Career Guidance Counselling, which we provide over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.

Alternative Pathways to Achieving Your Dream Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Identify Your Most Important Employability Factors

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

Some of the benefits of having a portfolio career include:

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

So how can you create a portfolio career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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