Tag Archives: job searching

How to boomerang back to an old employer

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to boomerang back to an old employer

The concept of boomerang employees – or re-hiring ex-employees is not new, but it is on the rise. According to recent research, HR professionals are more open than ever before to re-hiring former employees. In the past, this practice was sometimes frowned upon – even if the employee had left on good terms – but now it’s becoming more and more common – and with good results for both employers and employees.

With this practice on the rise both in Australia and around the world – it’s worth considering as a viable option for your next role. Many companies that had to retrench workers in previous years are starting to increase their capacity again as business continues to improve. There are benefits to both employee and employer, but a few things worth considering.

Maintain Relationships

Firstly, as a boomerang employee, you have to maintain good relationships with your previous company and colleagues. This means ensuring any split is amicable and then making sure you keep in touch with colleagues and bosses (LinkedIn makes this easy). When you leave a job, do so on good terms by remaining professional and positive about your reasons for leaving. Draft a professional letter explaining your reasons and what you plan, then try to provide some positive comments about your experience. For smaller companies, a more personal approach might be better – think about sitting down with fellow team members or colleagues to explain your reasons for leaving. If your company conducts exit interviews, endeavour to remain upbeat – if this isn’t possible keep your answers short and simple.

Ensuring a Good Fit

Before making any decision to re-join an ex-employer, consider the reasons why you left and investigate whether they still exist. Likewise, make sure the things you loved about the role and/or company still exist. If you left to grow your skills in other areas, study or travel – your new skills will be attractive to a former employer. Not only do you know the company, but now you have an added level of competency they can leverage.

Sell Yourself

If you are approaching a former employer about returning back, be sure to have a goal in mind and then be honest with them about what it is you’d like. Try to communicate your new skills, competencies and experiences and how that would help the company in the future. They may not have something open currently, however if you articulate your new skills and/or direction they can keep you in mind for future roles – perhaps thinking of you in broader professional terms than how they saw you previously. If you’re after a more senior level role than the one you left, articulate the reasons why you think you’d be successful by incorporating examples of relevant accomplishments you’ve made in the role(s) since you left.

Remain Professional

While the whole process of being employed at a previous employer may be far less formal than if you were a new employee, don’t become complacent. Remain professional and focused and be prepared to go through the same selection process as others. The questions you get asked may be a little different and focus around your reasons for wanting to re-join, any new skills you will bring and how they’re relevant, what immediate benefits you might achieve for the company, and your thoughts on what will stop you from leaving again.

Becoming a boomerang employee has plenty of benefits for both the company and the employee. Employers benefit from someone who knows the business, culture and processes and this is a huge saving – both in time and the cost of getting someone up to speed. For employees, the knowledge and contacts you have puts you in a great place to ‘hit the ground running’ and achieve some quick wins in your new role.

Are you considering returning to an ex-employer? Would you like help from one of our professional resume writers to prepare a winning Resume that clearly articulates your value? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services. Perhaps you’ve secured some interest and would like help preparing for the interview? If so, please see our Interview Skills Training service.

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.

Best ways to use your gap year

Article by Belinda Fuller

Best Ways To Use Your GAP YearWhere traditionally taking a gap year has been largely the domain of other cultures, Australians are now embracing it in ever increasing numbers. If you’re not really sure what you would like to do at the end of Year 12 or you don’t get into the course you were keen to complete, it might be a good idea to take a gap year. But it’s important not to be idle.

Taking a gap year means taking 12 months off between finishing high school and starting further study or training. Many Australian students are now deciding to defer their university offer for a year, or simply take a year off to gain more clarity around what they’d like to do.

This trend has led to a new industry. If you do a web search for ”gap year Australia”, nearly 8 million results pop up, with new programs being constantly developed covering everything from backpacking and holidaying in Australia and internationally, to working abroad opportunities, adventure tours, volunteering in remote communities locally and overseas, and even jobs with the military.

If you’re not sure what to do at the end of Year 12, you might like to consider taking a gap year. It can be a great idea for many reasons, some of which include:

  • If you’re not really sure what you want to do for a career
  • If you just want to take a break from studying
  • If you’re keen to travel and see more of Australia or the world
  • If you didn’t get into the specific course you were hoping for
  • If you want to gain skills and experience in the area you’d like to study – a ‘try before you buy’ approach to ascertain whether you’re really going to like it
  • If you want to make some money before undertaking further study

If you do decide to take a gap year, it’s important to give it some purpose and structure. There are plenty of things you could do, including undertaking activities that might support your job prospects down the track, or gaining some experience in the area that you would like to study. Here are some ideas:

  • Get a job: Working gives you valuable life skills and experience. Even if the job isn’t within the specific area you’d like to study in the future, a combination of formal study and some work experience is often more appealing to potential future recruiters. Of course, work experience in the area that you’re looking to study is better, so if there aren’t any opportunities for paid employment without previous training – investigate volunteer or unpaid work experience opportunities as well.
  • Travel: If you’ve saved up enough money, you could travel overseas or take a trip within Australia. To get the most out of your trip, and fund it at the same time, you could spend some time working while being a tourist. A UK based organisation that is currently catering to the rising demand of people taking gap years and wanting to participate in adventure travel is Real Gap Experience – with experiences ranging in length from two weeks to two years. Real Gap Experience have sent over 50,000 people on adventures to over 35 countries. Opportunities include volunteer work, paid work experience, teaching abroad or simply travelling around the world.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering is another great way to learn new skills while making a contribution to the community. There are many different volunteering options – including those overseas or within remote or outback areas of Australia. Check out the Seek Volunteer site which was created to provide an effective meeting place in Australia to connect volunteers with opportunities. There are currently around 700 organisations registered with several thousands of jobs covering a diverse range of locations, causes and areas of focus.
  • Go on a student exchange: Many countries offer recent school leavers the chance to attend school and live with a host family. These opportunities provide a unique experience where you’re not a tourist or guest – you live like a local with your host family and become immersed in the culture as a member of the local community while learning a new language (if applicable) and gaining valuable international experience. There are countless overseas study programs that can be undertaken. Student Exchange is an Australian organisation focused on helping students navigate the myriad of options and choices.
  • Make the most of it: Finally, a gap year can be a way to experience things you never have before, or wouldn’t as a student in Australia. Whether you take the opportunity to have a study break, or use it as a time to develop skills to support your future studies and/or job prospects, it can be a memorable and valuable time, and contribute significantly to your longer term career aspirations.

Do you think you’d like to take a gap year? Are you unsure which career path to take or which course to study? If so our Career Advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Coaching Services.

Will your job exist in five years?

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

The industries with predicted growth include:

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

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

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

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.

6 Tips for Mature Age People Returning to the Workforce

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 Tips for Mature Age People Returning to the Workforce

How old is too old to be looking for a new job? This is a question many Australians are already asking themselves. With life expectancy at an all-time high, we now need to work much longer than we may have anticipated, simply to pay for our lifestyle. But for many people who have already retired, deciding you need to return to the workforce can be a difficult and overwhelming decision.

First and foremost, acknowledge it is normal to be feeling apprehensive. If you’re worried about people thinking you’re too old, focus on your expertise and previous career success and enlist the assistance of a professional Career Counsellor if you think it might help. Here’s our 6 top tips:

TIP # 1 – Give yourself credit: by focusing on what you can bring to your new employer through the successes you’ve achieved throughout your career. Don’t dwell on the negatives and talk to others in a similar situation to you.

TIP # 2 – Define your offer: by assessing your values, interests, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, abilities and goals and be clear about your qualifications, skills and experience in the context of the roles you are applying for. Put your recruiters’ hat on for a minute and think about what you have to offer that might make you stand out from others. If necessary, identify areas for re-packaging of old skills and potential areas for training and development.

TIP # 3 – Create some killer material: that makes you feel confident. The recruitment field has changed significantly in the past five years and continues to change at a rapid pace. Prepare an up-to-date, clear, and concise Resume tailored towards the roles you are seeking, and write a customised cover letter for each role you apply for. Research current Resume trends, ask a friend who knows about recruitment to help, or enlist the services of an experienced professional Resume Writer. Update (or create) your LinkedIn profile and achieve as many connections as you can. Think about creating a website if your field lends itself to showcasing your successes and experience in this way. For inspiration, visit our Career Advice Blog for a broad range of articles on job search strategies, LinkedIn, Resume Writing, and Selection Criteria preparation.

TIP # 4 – Build your job search network: when you’re searching for a new role, and particularly if you’ve been out of the paid workforce for a period, you can’t limit your search to just advertised jobs. Many roles are filled proactively via personal connections these days, so get in touch with everyone you know and tell them about your plans – this includes friends, family, old work colleagues, suppliers, neighbours, local store owners, everyone! Send people you haven’t spoken to in a while a well-crafted email, update your LinkedIn profile, and follow companies you’re interested in working for on all their social media sites.

TIP # 5 – Start applying for positions: and don’t overlook contract positions, volunteer work, or internships as a short term prospect. Likewise, if you’re seeking part-time work, a full-time contract can be a great first step while you find the perfect role. Part-time work is a little harder to come by and if you’re working you will develop some current experience (and contacts) while falling into the category of someone who is currently working – it’s often seen as ‘easier to get a job if you’ve got a job’.

TIP # 6 – Prepare for an interview: by thinking about how you’ll overcome nerves and any negative thoughts on the day since it’s difficult to be confident if you’re worried about how to explain your break or your age. Review common interview questions online or consider seeking advice from a trained Career Counsellor at this stage as they can help you formulate responses you’re comfortable with. However you go about it, practice makes perfect and stay focused on the positives, talking about your skills, experience, and knowledge of offer and how quickly you will be productive.

For anyone searching for work, it’s important to set yourself some short, medium and longer terms goals. This is particular important if you are returning to the workforce following any break since you may not achieve your ideal or ‘dream’ job straight away. Expect that you may need to work in a lower paid or less than ideal position initially to gain some experience. If this is the case, you should aim to quickly gain the experience, training and/or skills necessary to move on to the next role.

Are you trying to return to the workforce? Are you interested in some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? Would you like some customised one-on-one job search coaching to help you take steps to secure your ideal position in today’s competitive job market? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and/or Job Search Coaching service.

Surprising things that make a good candidate

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying motivated while job searching

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Stay Motivated While Searching For a New RoleWhether you’re currently employed or not, once you’ve made the decision to search for a new role, the waiting can be tedious! If you are at that point in your career currently, you might be wondering what a realistic job search timeframe is to secure your dream role. The job market is highly competitive right now, so you need to be prepared for it to take a little longer than you might have anticipated.

A SEEK article written last year indicated that 75% of Australians who were currently searching for a new job had been looking for up to six months. The job market may have improved slightly since then, however our evidence from talking with clients on a daily basis suggests that it can take this long, or sometimes even longer. So how can you stay motivated while looking? And can that timeframe be reduced?

  • Be realistic: Firstly, it is important to be realistic about your goals. Research the job market by scouring job sites and work out how many viable roles are actually being advertised in your area of expertise. Are there any skills and/or experience you are lacking? Can you build on these in your current role, or by taking some additional training? What are employers really looking for – read between the lines and try to add value when putting together your application.
  • Be patient: How many jobs have you applied for, and how many of those are an ideal fit for you? The fact is that the job market is highly competitive, so if you’re not hearing back after applying for roles, don’t be disheartened. Unfortunately, it is the norm these days to receive nothing or an automated response to your application. This can be off-putting BUT you are in the same boat as everyone else. Be patient and persistent and don’t be discouraged if you’re hearing nothing back. However, if this is happening consistently – do take it as a sign that you might need to change something about your approach.
  • Arm yourself: Make sure your documents are up to scratch – re-write your Resume, update your LinkedIn profile, and prepare a customised cover letter for every role you apply for. If you can get some feedback from an industry expert, take it, however be careful not to take advice from every well-meaning friend and family member – this can end up just confusing and/or overwhelming you and will not be helpful in your search.
  • Stay put: If you are currently working, stay there! While searching for a new role, it is advisable to stay employed where possible. If the job search process is going to take six months or longer, relying on savings for that period could be difficult. Also, people who are unemployed while searching for work can become unmotivated with reduced confidence, which isn’t a good place to be while seeking a new role.
  • Believe in yourself: we tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals. For many people not working in traditional sales or marketing focused careers, this can sound daunting. However, with a little bit of effort it isn’t that difficult. Believing in yourself and selling your expertise effectively is an important part of the process. Whether it’s in your initial communications (Resume, Selection Criteria and/or Cover Letter), or during the interview process, articulating and communicating your unique value will help get you noticed. Take a good look at your application and ask yourself (as the recruiter) ‘What’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role.
  • Stay focused: the longer you look, the more tedious the process can become. At this stage, it can be tempting to settle for something that might not be quite right, especially if you are keen to leave the role you are in. Remember that lowering your expectations is not the best approach for your career in the longer term, and you may just be right back to where you’re at now in no time at all.
  • Assess progress: if you have been at it for a while, or applied for several roles and haven’t received a call back, take a good hard look at your process. What are you saying in your application? Are your application documents top notch? Are the roles you’re applying for truly a good fit? Have you done any networking? Have you been to an interview and flopped? What parts can you improve?
  • Don’t be disheartened: learning to handle rejection is an important part of the job search process and learning how to not let it get you down is even more important. At the end of the day, it can be a numbers game – so try not to let it get you down – instead focus on the future and just keep moving forward.

The job search process can be draining, especially if it’s taking some time to achieve any kind of traction. Remember that there are many aspects to securing your next opportunity and if you’re finding it tough at the moment – you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve success – you just need to take some time to focus and refine your approach.

If you would like career advice to help you secure your next role, please see our Job Search Coaching or Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.

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