Surviving the Christmas period is no easy task – that’s why they call it the ‘silly season’! And it seems to start earlier every year, with trees and lights going up in November. While we are frantic with work deadlines, we’re also trying to squeeze in a huge number of personal activities and commitments.
So we’re here to help! Take a deep breath and read through our handy tips for not just surviving but thriving this holiday season.
- Have a plan: Planning and preparation is essential at this time of year. Make separate lists of priorities for work and home, and complete your non-negotiables first. Look at your two to-do lists and think about where they complement each other. For example, if you have to buy gifts for work colleagues, shop for family gifts at the same time.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’: Throughout the year we have been fine-tuning our time management skills – and now is the time to put them into action! Have a plan each day and stick to it. Don’t over-commit and only say yes to events and invitations that are important to you.
- Set realistic goals: Without setting goals, it’s hard to know what you should be achieving and where your energy should be going. To minimise stress at this busy time of year, keep your goals realistic and achievable.
- Be kind to yourself: With all the extra food, socialising and general frivolity, it can be easy to push self-care to the side. But this is the time of year when we really need to look after ourselves. Try not to overindulge, drink lots of water, eat well, maintain good sleep habits and remember that summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with some physical activity.
- Work as a team: Get others involved to help you get things done at work and home. Look for opportunities to delegate or involve colleagues in your projects. Ask family members or friends to pitch in or accompany you on errands, and enjoy spending time together.
- Set clear boundaries: Not everyone has the luxury of stepping away from work at the end of the year, so setting boundaries is important to maintain balance. Nobody can be available (technologically or mentally) all the time. In the lead-up to Christmas, dedicate time away from emails and phone calls, so you can enjoy time with family and friends without distractions. This will help you feel more refreshed for any intense periods of work.
- Stay active: Maintaining some level of activity is a great way to sustain a healthy body and mind and get you motivated each day! Whether it’s walking to or from work, going for a swim, joining an exercise class or going to the gym, you’ll usually notice increased energy levels after doing something active. This means more energy to handle the demands of this time of year.
- Have fun! Enjoy what you’re doing and maintain a balance. When you are balancing a busy workday with spending time with family, socialising and seeing friends, you know your energy is being well distributed and balance is being maintained.
This time of year can be chaotic and maintaining a healthy work–life balance can be challenging. Remember: it’s the season of giving, so try to give yourself a break and enjoy some downtime. If you’re lucky enough to take time off work, use it to recharge so you’re fresh for the new year.
This is also the time of year when many of us question our career choices and priorities, and what work might look like in the new year. If you’re considering a change in job or career, our Career Counselling or Resume Writing services may be just what you need.
Katie Roberts gift vouchers are also available and make an inspiring gift for friends or family.
The end of the year is typically a slow time for the job market, but don’t let that slow you down! While you may be unlikely to receive a job offer between now and the new year, the holidays are the perfect time to get organised and kick-start your job search for 2020.
Here are seven things you can do over the festive season to supercharge your job search.
- Research your options: Review job ads on sites such as Seek and LinkedIn. You don’t need to actually apply, but seeing what’s out there now will help you tailor your approach when the time comes. Play around with search options using different titles, industries and keywords. Open your search out to other locations or industries. You may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but some positions will be a close match. Read each relevant ad to understand all the requirements. This will help you decide what’s important to include in your application and determine if you have any major skills gaps that you need to think about how to address.
- Get organised: Today’s job market is competitive and multifaceted. Use your downtime to establish automated job searches, identify relevant recruiters, update your application materials (see tip 4 for more on this) and enhance your online presence. Having these things in place will help you stand out from other candidates when it’s time to apply. For tips on developing a structured job search strategy that helps you connect with recruiters and employers, read our previous article, Winning Job Search Strategies and start planning.
- Understand the hidden job market: Many of the jobs available are never advertised, so accessing the hidden job market is an important piece of the puzzle. The key here is building your networks. Establish connections via LinkedIn with the recruiters you identified in the previous step, and create a standard pitch that explains why you want to connect and what you can offer. Write a list of companies you’d like to work for, then read their websites’ careers pages and follow them on social media. To start building your profile, look for opportunities to network with others in your industry, such as through LinkedIn Groups, and contribute to discussions.
- Update your application materials: This includes your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Our career advice blog is packed with tips on writing a great resume that’ll get you noticed. We also recommend writing a customised cover letter for every job you apply for, which addresses as many job requirements as possible. Use the holidays to prepare generic cover letters and/or paragraphs that you can then modify to suit specific roles. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, so optimise your profile with keywords, so you can be found. Include a current professional photo and try to complete every section. Don’t waste your About section (previously called the Summary section) – use it to highlight your key skills, experience and strengths, and create a picture of who you are and the value you offer.
- Prepare for interviews: A big mistake many job seekers make is not preparing for an interview. Use the holidays to brainstorm the types of questions you might be asked and how you can articulate your successes. Think about examples that demonstrate your strengths, accomplishments and how you’ve handled different work situations. Having a bank of examples to draw on will increase your confidence and improve your performance. To help you formulate your examples, read our previous article about using the STAR approach. You can also find numerous articles on preparing for an interview, as well as our ‘how to answer’ series, which looks at common interview questions.
- Build your network: Connecting with existing and new contacts is a powerful way to uncover work opportunities. While the holidays might not be the best time to reach out to everyone, you can use the time to plan how you’ll grow your network in the new year. For example, you might draft emails that can be sent later, write a list of people to call in the new year, learn how to use LinkedIn and Facebook more effectively, and/or research face-to-face and online networking groups you could join.
- Assess your social media: Many recruiters and employers look up candidate’s social media pages as part of their screening process, so ensure you’ve set privacy settings to an appropriate level. Also make sure that if potential recruiters and employers can see your feed, the content is appropriate and won’t hurt your chances of securing an interview.
Today’s job market is competitive and complex so being prepared is key. Take advantage of the quiet holiday period to get organised and develop a job search strategy, and you’ll be ready to go in the new year!
Do you need help developing a standout resume, detailed job search strategy or professional LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills? See our Resume Writing, Job Search Coaching and Interview Training services to find out more.
Katie Roberts gift vouchers are also available and make an inspiring Christmas gift for friends or family.
You probably know at least one person who dreamt of being a painter or a musician but was persuaded to pursue something ‘safer’ and more financially secure. But doing something you’re passionate about can be just as important.
Have you ever wondered if you could turn your hobby or special interest into a real job? It may seem like a pipe dream, but what if it was possible?
Here are some tips on how to turn your hobby into a career.
- Do your research: Investigate the types of jobs or other opportunities that take advantage of your skills or passion. Once you have some ideas of realistic career options, you can find out what’s needed to succeed.
- Talk to an expert: Speak to someone already working in the area you’re interested in. Approach them as a fellow hobbyist and use your shared passion to start a conversation. Ask them about the path they took to get there – what did they study? Who did they know? What sacrifices did they make? And do they still love what they do, or has it just become work?
- Seek professional advice: If you’re having trouble figuring out how to turn your passion into a career, a career counsellor can help. Through a career assessment and one-on-one coaching, a career counsellor can help you identify the types of jobs that are right for you. The results may surprise you and could open up career opportunities you’ve never considered.
- Develop a business plan: If you’ve decided to start your own business based on your hobby, you’ll need to create a business plan. This doesn’t have to be lengthy or overly difficult – this article gives a great overview of the one-page approach. Start by thinking about who your customers will be (your target market), the problem you’re going to solve for them, what your product or service looks like, and what you’re going to charge.
- Save some cash: If you’re planning to switch careers or start a business, it’s a good idea to have a financial buffer to cover general living costs in case you don’t have an income. Starting a new business or new job is stressful enough without adding financial worries.
- Take a course: You might already spend hours on your hobby, but are you largely self-taught? If you’re looking to turn it into your career, it’s helpful to have a qualification you can list on your resume. Investigate short courses offered by TAFE, community colleges and other registered training providers including online.
- Stay open-minded: Things don’t always go to plan, so maintaining a flexible mindset will help you deal with any setbacks. And remember that your ideal career may not look exactly how you expect it to look. Be open to different opportunities.
- Start small: You don’t have to immediately quit your job and go all in – it may be better to take some small, simple steps instead. For example, you might start by following our tips above, then look at volunteer or part-time opportunities.
Turning a hobby or passion into a career may seem too good to be true, but if you approach it in a practical way and follow our tips, you may discover a whole new world of possibilities.
Do you have a hobby, passion or skill that you’d love to turn into a career? Our Career Counselling and Coaching Services can help. These services are available over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.
Katie Roberts gift vouchers are also available and make an inspiring gift for friends or family.
Technology is at the centre of many workplaces these days, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with everything going on around us. Is it even possible to balance our personal and professional lives, while staying on top of our inboxes and being attached to our smartphones?
In the digital age, it’s more important than ever to learn how to focus only on the things that matter. This way, you can make technology work for you – not against you. Here are six simple tips to help you limit the distractions of technology and get more done.
- Schedule time to respond to emails: Dealing with email is a constant struggle. A full inbox can be overwhelming and diverts our time away from more important work. One strategy is to allocate specific times of the day to check your email, and keep your inbox minimised on your screen outside of these times. Another strategy is to deal with any emails immediately that can you can respond to within three minutes. If it’s going to take longer, leave it for dedicated email time. You will find yourself quickly identifying whether an email is just a distraction or something that needs attention, and you’ll be amazed by the difference this approach can make. To get on top of your emails, sort them into sub-folders according to urgency. For example, create a ‘today’ folder for items that need to be dealt with that day, a ‘this week’ folder for less urgent emails and a ‘this month’ folder for emails that can wait longer.
- Turn off notifications: This is a very helpful way to stay productive at work and avoid distractions from technology. Having your phone, computer or smart phone notifying you every time you receive an email, message or social media update constantly interrupts your thoughts and it then takes time to re-focus. This can greatly affect your overall productivity across the day.
- Put your phone away: One of the greatest threats to your productivity is your phone. Smartphones have revolutionised how we do many things – including time wasting! If you’re always glued to social media, try physically putting your phone away for short periods of time. Switching it to airplane or do not disturb mode or turning it off can also help, but sometimes just having your phone out of sight means it’s also out of mind. The world won’t end if you don’t have your phone with you, and you might actually get more done.
- Close your email and messaging apps: It’s important to stay in close contact with your colleagues, especially in teams working across different locations, or when working on complex projects. However, sometimes it helps to close your email and instant messaging applications for a while, so you can get some uninterrupted time to focus on the task at hand. Just be sure your manager or colleagues are aware of your plan, and they know how to reach you if something urgent comes up.
- Know when to chat face-to-face: Discussing things with colleagues over email can involve a lot of waiting and is often counterproductive, especially for quick questions. Instead, don’t be afraid to catch up with the person face-to-face. You can often accomplish more during a short conversation than a lengthy email chain. Some workplaces are even making this a policy.
- Take regular technology breaks: Taking regular breaks away from your computer and other devices can boost your concentration and productivity. Get up from your desk regularly and move around. A walk outside at lunchtime is a great way to re-energise and give your brain and eyes a break from the demands of technology. Once you feel more refreshed, you’re sure to be more productive.
While it can be challenging to stay focused and productive amid the constant distractions of technology, there are simple steps you can take. Despite how many of us feel, there are usually times when it’s okay not to be contactable, so take advantage of these windows and minimise your technology use. You’ll probably amazed at what you can achieve!
If you’ve been struggling to find time to get your career on track, you might like some support from a Career Coach to help you work out your next steps. Or perhaps you’re ready to take the next step and need help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy? To find out more, read about our services.
You aced the interview, negotiated the job offer and now you’re a new employee. But now is not the time to relax and put your efforts on cruise control. While it’s the company’s job to help you settle in and learn about office culture, how successful you are in your new role is largely up to you. The first few months are critical and you need to put serious time into showing management they made a smart decision in hiring you.
Here are 10 ways to quickly impress your boss and set your path to success.
- Research before your first day: There are many things you’ll need to learn on the job, but some can be learned by reading and researching at home. Review the company’s website and any related media or other information about recent events. Do your homework, and your boss will be impressed when you can add value from day one.
- Understand what’s expected of you: Building relationships with your superiors is important, but you should also spend time learning about what they expect from you. This can include the expectations listed in your job description, as well as informal expectations such as networking, helping others, and supporting the broader goals of the company. If you can help your boss achieve their goals, this will be a huge plus for you.
- Manage your time well from the start: Arrive at work on time or early, ready to focus. Organise and prioritise your work. Create to-do lists and achieve as much as possible every day. Avoid the temptation to check social media, text your friends or zone out an hour before the end of the day. Do your best to be fully engaged and productive every single day.
- Be proactive: You should start accomplishing your goals and making connections as soon as possible. Your first few days on the job are crucial to creating a good impression and understanding what’s required for you to succeed. You may come across some issues that you’ve never encountered before, or tasks that you’re unsure how to complete. Rather than immediately turning to your boss for help, try to resolve the issue on your own. Investigate the problem, think through possible solutions, observe your colleagues, use Google, and then once you have some ideas, seek out the advice of a team member or superior. You should also take advantage of extra opportunities to contribute, such as pitching in on open projects or volunteering for committees. By offering to shoulder more responsibility where it makes sense, you’ll show your boss how committed you are.
- Ask lots of questions – but try to answer them first: Even when you try to absorb everything your new boss or colleagues say, you’re still bound to have lots of questions. It’s normal and shows you’re engaged. However, see if you can answer your own questions before approaching someone else. Use the resources at your disposal, such as the company handbook, training guide or your own notes. Observe how others handle similar situations. This way, when you do need to ask your boss a question, you’ll have some background knowledge.
- Set realistic goals with your boss: Your goals for your role should be set in collaboration with your boss, so you can find common ground and get their stamp of approval. Your boss can also let you know which goals might need to change and what your immediate priorities are.
- Secure early wins: Consider ways you can build momentum right away. Try to identify an immediate contribution you can make to the team. This will ensure people see you in a positive light and show your boss that you’re committed to the team’s success.
- Follow through: Dependability is a quality that employers look for, and there’s no better time to prove that you’re reliable than now. Ensure you complete tasks either before or on deadline. Arrive at meetings prepared and ready to contribute. If you say you’ll do something, make sure you do it. If you know you’re going to miss a deadline or not finish something as expected, be transparent and inform your boss early on in the process.
- Get to know people: Demonstrate your interpersonal skills by circulating around the office and staff kitchen to get to know people quickly. Not only will this help you settle in and adjust to the office culture, it’ll also help you build a great base for communication and teamwork. Stay positive and friendly, and be mindful of others and their opinions. Getting along with a variety of people can improve your chances for a promotion down the track.
In your first few months of a new job, you’ve got a unique chance to make a great impression and set a foundation for future success. By following the steps above, you’ll make it clear that you care about your job and the company, and you’re serious about making a positive impact.
Do you need expert guidance to succeed in your new role or take your career to the next level? Are you ready to find a new job or career path, but not sure how to go about it? Our career experts can help you confidently take your next step. See our Career Coaching Services to find out more.
When employers are evaluating candidates for a role, interpersonal skills are often one of their top criteria. These skills are also vital for succeeding in your job and getting ahead in your career. Also known as ‘people skills’, ‘soft skills’ or ‘emotional intelligence’, interpersonal skills relate to the way we communicate and interact with others.
There are very few jobs where someone works 100% independently. Even roles you might think are mostly solo require some human interaction and teamwork. And how well you do that is strongly linked to your overall performance and success. Do you have the interpersonal skills you need to be a valuable member of your team and organisation?
Some of the most important skills include:
- Communication: Sharing ideas and information, building relationships with colleagues and understanding what a customer wants all rest on being able to communicate effectively.
- Empathy: Relating well to other people requires you to understand their thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Empathy allows you to put yourself in others’ shoes.
- Teamwork: Almost all jobs have elements of teamwork. To be a valuable employee, you need to know how to work well with others and play your part within close-knit and wider teams.
Here are seven important reasons why you need to develop and keep improving your interpersonal skills – they can help you:
- Foster personal relationships: Just as important as building personal relationships in the workplace is maintaining them. This involves a range of skills including dependability, communication and empathy.
- Be an effective leader: A leader who can’t connect with their team will inevitably fail in the long term, and in the short term, valuable team members may leave. A leader with great interpersonal skills can improve productivity and general satisfaction levels of staff, customers and suppliers.
- Promote empathy: Understanding your colleagues and manager – both professionally and personally – will help you build powerful connections, and can help create loyalty, boost morale and facilitate positive communication.
- Increase client satisfaction: Diplomacy is an important trait in the workplace, but it’s not just co-workers who benefit from a tactful approach. Your ability to compromise and quickly find solutions to issues can greatly improve customer service.
- Build trust: Demonstrating strong interpersonal skills helps to build a deep level of trust with co-workers. In turn, this creates a solid base for effective teamwork, problem solving and conflict resolution, which is especially helpful during times of change.
- Support clear communication: Effective communication is key to the success of any business. Establishing mutual respect and consideration for each other’s opinions and input can also enable you and your colleagues to work more efficiently and effectively.
- Expand your opportunities: By truly connecting with managers and colleagues, you may gain access to more exciting opportunities. If you make a good impression on your boss, they might provide good references, give you more responsibilities and perks, or even promote you.
With technology now taking care of many basic tasks that humans once did, interpersonal skills are more valued than ever. And they’re increasingly a non-negotiable for people wanting to progress in their careers. When you’re applying for a role, address the need for these skills in your application and be ready to discuss this in an interview. In the workplace, consider how you can continue to develop your interpersonal skills to increase your value as an employee.
Are you unsure of the best way to present your all-important interpersonal skills in your resume? Or do you need help preparing for an interview? Our Resume Writing or Interview Training and Coaching Services might be just what you need.
This might seem like a less important interview question, but don’t be fooled. And never answer with ‘no’! This interview question is actually one of the most important ones to prepare for, because it allows you to demonstrate your interest in the role and the company – while also assessing if you really want to work there.
In an interview, there are a few questions we can almost guarantee you’ll be asked, and “Do you have any questions for us?” is one of them. That means you can take time to prepare a great response – one that helps you demonstrate your passion for your work, your interest in the company and your understanding of their challenges and goals.
The questions you ask in response could focus on a wide range of areas, such as:
- The company and its future direction
- The industry
- Recent news or events
- The department’s direction and how it fits with company strategy
- Why the incumbent is leaving (or where the work has come from for a newly created role)
- The expectations of the role and how success is measured
- Scope for future expansion
- Company culture
- The recruitment process timeline and/or next steps
Think about what matters most to you, as well as how you can effectively demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role. Below are some example questions to get you started.
- What’s it like to work here? This is a fairly broad and open question; however, it can often be very revealing. If the interviewer gets a little defensive or guarded, it may suggest you need to explore further.
- How would you describe your culture? Most interviewers should be prepared to answer this question. Cultural fit is becoming more and more important for recruiters because companies recognise it as being integral to job satisfaction and employee retention. By asking the question, you’re showing that it’s an important consideration for you too.
- How did the role become vacant? Why did the incumbent leave? This question can uncover some interesting insights into the workplace, the challenges of the role and the workplace culture.
- What is your leadership style like? This would obviously only be relevant if your reporting manager was the interviewer, but you could also ask an independent recruiter if they know much about the manager’s style. This question can provide insight into whether or not their style will work well for you.
- What do you expect from your direct reports (or from me, if I’m successful)? This question (like the previous one) lets the interviewer know that relationships and performance expectations are important to you. It is also a fairly open question, which allows for varied responses – again providing a useful indicator for you to assess personality and cultural fit.
- What are the critical challenges of this role? The way the interviewer answers this can provide some really important insight. You might think you know what the focus of the role is – but by asking about the challenges, you can sometimes learn far more about the most important aspects. The answer should give you a good indication of what’s valued most across the different areas of responsibility, which a role description can’t really provide.
- What are the hours and remuneration? This should have been explained by the recruiter prior to your interview. However, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions if you’re unclear on any aspects relating to remuneration, hours, travel and workplace policies. Don’t appear overzealous in your line of questioning, particularly around flexible hours and perks, but it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Topical questions: demonstrating your knowledge of the company
In addition to the questions above, you should do some research about the company to learn as much as you can about recent announcements, news and other company happenings. This will enable you to ask some topical questions, which could focus on:
- Strategic direction
- Threats and opportunities
- Competitive activity
- Operational issues
- Progress on specific projects
These types of questions are especially relevant if your potential new role is likely to be involved in any recently announced projects or initiatives.
You could also ask more technical questions about current projects where appropriate, but be careful not to pass critical comments about how the company is managing them. This could appear presumptuous or arrogant and might put the recruiter off.
Answering the question “Do you have any questions for us?” is a great opportunity to get a better feel for the role, and to show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework. Be honest and authentic, while staying positive and enthusiastic about the job, and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare!
Do you struggle with nerves during interviews? For help building your confidence, making a great impression and increasing your interview success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
Choosing the ‘right’ career is no easy task. You might be new to the workforce and unsure which path to take, or unhappy in your current role and looking for a new challenge. Wherever you’re at, when it’s time to make a choice about your career, it’s common to feel stuck. Here are our top tips on narrowing down your options and choosing a career that suits your personality, preferences and skills.
What we do for work can be one of the most important decisions we make. Many of us will spend around a third of each day at work – and sometimes more – so finding a career that aligns with our values and preferences is important. If you’re not sure which direction you should take, or you want to feel more fulfilled in your job, read on for our tips on finding a career that suits you.
Tip 1: Think about what excites and energises you
This is a great first step. We all want to like and enjoy our job. And while passion isn’t the only requirement for being content in your career, it will help you stay motivated and engaged, and keep you going through the tough times. But you may not feel that passionate about any specific career, or perhaps you’re interested in multiple areas and can’t decide on just one. So instead of focusing just on jobs, think about your personality and what you do (and don’t) enjoy doing.
Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, you probably have an idea of what you like or dislike, work-wise, and this can help narrow down your options.
For example, perhaps you enjoy travelling and dislike working in heavily structured environments, or maybe you don’t like big cities and the idea of working remotely appeals to you.
Start by making a list of likes and dislikes. Do you like working in a team or would you rather work independently? Do you value structure or do you prefer flexibility? What appeals to you about certain workplaces and what do you find off-putting? Once you’ve written down as many likes and dislikes as you can think of, you’ll start to build a clearer picture of the type of work that suits you. All these little personal preferences can help lead you towards your perfect career.
Tip 2: Evaluate your skills
Think about the life and work skills you already have, and those you would like to build on. Which skills come easiest to you? For example, communication, self-management, teamwork, problem solving or analysis? Every career needs these skills, but some more than others. For instance, great communication is especially important in sales, marketing and management careers, while analytical skills are more important in finance or IT roles.
Tip 3: Research career prospects and trajectory
If you’ve identified that a certain career would be a good fit for you based on your personality and preferences, make sure you consider all the facts. For example, have you thought about your prospects? How easy will it be to find a job in your chosen area and what sort of compensation can you expect?
You should also consider career trajectory and what your role might look like five or ten years down the track. Would you still enjoy the job if you ended up managing people and had less time to create things or work directly with customers? It’s also a good idea to research the types of promotions you could expect over the coming years and whether you’ll have a chance to grow and expand your skill set.
Tip 4: Get some practical experience
Experiencing a career firsthand is the fastest way to determine whether or not it’s a good fit, and having some practical experience can also make you more employable once you begin your job search.
If you’re still in school, work experience placements and internships offer a chance to try out certain jobs and industries. And if you’re already working, you can gain practical experience by volunteering or taking a course that allows you to develop new skills and make contacts in your industry of interest.
Tip 5: Talk to other people
One of the best ways to discover a new career is to ask other people about theirs. Use your existing contacts as a reference point for information about different roles and careers. Your LinkedIn network can be a good place to start seeking information.
Tip 6: Consult a career coach or mentor
It may also be a good idea to consult a qualified career coach, who can take a solution-based approach to helping you discover a career aligned to your personality, interests and values. With experience across a variety of industries and extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations, a good career coach can be invaluable.
By using tools and techniques such as personality profiling and career interest assessments, a career coach can provide new insight and information on careers that might suit you. They can also help you explore your options and create a realistic and personalised action plan.
Tip 7: Consider your short- and long-term goals
Now that you’ve spent some time thinking about a career that’s right for you, your next step is to define some achievable goals. To make your career dreams a reality, what are you going to work towards in the coming months and years?
In a document or spreadsheet, list the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goals, and a date you’d like to achieve them by. Your goals can be small or large, but make sure they’re realistic. Taking time to define the steps required to achieve your career aspirations, and breaking them down into manageable goals, will help you turn your daydreams into a rewarding, long-term career.
Are you ready for a change but feeling unsure about what kind of career would suit you best? An experienced career coach can be invaluable in helping you create a better future for yourself. See our Career Counselling Services to learn how our career experts can support you through the process of choosing a career and taking your first steps.
Have you had an extended break from the workforce? Are you looking to return to full- or part-time work, but unsure where to start? The process can seem daunting after a long break – but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how you can you achieve a smooth and successful transition back into work.
Many people take a break from their career at some point, whether it’s to study, travel or start a family, or for health or other personal reasons. Whatever your reason for taking time out, returning to the workplace can feel daunting. In this article, we look at some first steps you can take to help make the transition back to work a positive experience.
- Consider the type of work you’d like to do: Make a list of what you’re looking for when you go back to work. What type of position would you like? Do you want to return to what you were doing before or are you looking for a change? Do you want to work for a company with promotion opportunities, or would you prefer a job where you can go in, do your work and head home without having to worry about your team? The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find something suitable.
- Update your skills: Before you start working on your resume and applying for roles, a great first step is to update your skill set. This will help boost your confidence while giving you a stronger resume. Look for opportunities that help fill gaps in your experience, such as taking an online course, completing an internship or doing some volunteer work.
- Refresh your resume: When you’re returning to work after a significant break, creating a functional resume, rather than a standard chronological resume, can work best. This involves focusing on your skills and successes rather than the precise dates of your employment. You can showcase your experience under headings such as ‘marketing experience’, ‘project management’ or ‘leadership’ and then list your achievements accordingly. To find out whether a functional resume is right for you, and how to create one that helps you shine, read our recent article here.
- Don’t underestimate yourself: Focus on the great skills and experience you have, and think about any new skills you may have acquired during your break. Recruiters and employers value these skills, especially when they’re relevant to the role you’re applying for, so include them in your resume. For example, you might have developed new skills through activities such as: managing a large house renovation; contributing to local sporting clubs, committees and coaching teams; volunteering for your local community or charity organisations; assisting with local fundraising activities; and creating or managing side projects, such as events or a small business. All these activities require skills such as relationship building, communication, organisation and prioritisation, and often the ability to create something with little or no budget. These are all valuable skills in a workplace.
- Update your social media profiles: With more than 645 million members around the world, LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting yourself and seeking out potential employers. It’s also a widely used tool among recruiters and employers. As well as checking out applicants’ LinkedIn profiles, recruiters will often Google applicants’ names, so it’s a good idea to see what comes up when you search your name. In addition to creating a professional, SEO-optimised LinkedIn profile, make sure your personal digital footprint helps rather than hinders your application. You can read our previous article for tips on how to clean up your social media.
- Tap into your networks: You can often find opportunities to re-enter the workforce through your existing networks. One way to do this is to send an email to family, friends and former co-workers/managers and attach your resume. Let them know the type of position you are seeking and ask them if they’d mind forwarding on your details if they hear of any relevant positions. This may feel daunting, but most people like to help when they can. To grow your networks and open up more opportunities, you could also research and join local networking events and online groups.
- Consider part-time or temp work: If your job search is taking longer than expected, consider part-time work or find an agency that offers temporary or contract positions. Do an online search for agencies in your area and contact them to request an interview. If you get your foot in the door with the right company and prove yourself, you have a good chance of receiving a full-time offer down the track. Plus going part-time initially can be a good way to transition, giving you time to adjust.
- Consult a career coach: If you’re considering changing careers on your return to work, a career coach can help. Experienced career coaches have extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations and offer professional, independent advice on your options. They can help you build your confidence and give you the support you need to make the transition.
Re-entering the workforce after an extended break can be tough, but there are things you can do to make this change feel less daunting and more positive. Follow our tips above to take your first steps, and things will flow on from there.
Are you feeling daunted by the prospect of returning to work after taking time out? Do you need help assessing your skills and experience, and presenting yourself in the best possible light to secure the job you want? Our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services might be just what you need.
You might think there’s only one way to structure your resume, but there are actually different ways to do it. And it’s important to choose the type that helps you put your best foot forward.
Functional resumes can be useful in several situations – primarily where your recent employment history and achievements don’t directly relate to the role(s) you are applying for. It should still include the same kind of information as a traditional-style resume, but the way it’s formatted is different.
A functional resume focuses on your skills and expertise rather than the jobs you’ve held. It allows you to highlight certain elements of past roles, along with your relevant skills and accomplishments, rather than simply listing your experience in reverse-chronological order.
Should you use a functional resume?
We don’t often recommend using a functional resume since it’s not the standard style, and a recruiter might have a harder time making sense of it. However, a functional resume can be useful in some situations. These include when:
- Your recent job history is not at all relevant to the roles you’re applying for.
- You are making a major career change.
- You have developed a vast range of transferrable skills throughout your work history, but no single role demonstrates that effectively.
- You don’t have much work experience.
- There are significant gaps in your work history.
- You have held multiple, short, contract or part-time roles or you’ve frequently changed jobs.
- You’ve gained experience in alternative ways, such as volunteering.
The reason functional resumes work well for these situations is that they highlight your transferrable and relevant skills more effectively.
It’s important to note that although a functional resume might be a better way of presenting your relevant experience, some recruiters believe this format can decrease your chances of securing an interview. Recruiters are notoriously short on time and often receive hundreds of applications for a single role. They will scan your resume for relevant information, and want to get a quick feel for whether or not to pursue you. So if you do go with a functional resume, be sure to follow our tips below.
How to write a functional resume that hits the mark
- Summary: Include a career summary at the beginning that focuses on the value you would bring to the organisation. This should provide a quick overview of you – no longer than two paragraphs with a mix of your professional expertise and success, academic/industry training and any relevant personal attributes.
- Keywords: Include keywords from the job description in your resume. You could use these as your subheadings for key skills (see below).
- Key skills: Identify your key skills/capabilities and group them logically. Use bulleted lists to describe them in more detail. Include job-related skills (this could include technical or computer software), transferrable skills (such as communication, leadership, negotiation), and personal skills (such as pro-activity in the way you work or the ability to collaborate/work as part of a team).
- Key accomplishments: This will help the recruiter/employer identify how your abilities match with the job requirements. List them under your ‘key skills/capabilities’ so that each ‘skill’ includes some accomplishments that demonstrate success. For example:
- Built a high-performing sales-focused team of 20 from scratch – with responsibility for recruitment, training, coaching, mentoring and performance management.
- Initiated a significant change program which improved employee culture, morale and retention (>50% on the previous year).
- Projects: Remember to include any projects – personal or professional – that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Projects demonstrate your ability to develop and complete complex tasks. Try to use quantifiable measures or statistics to demonstrate outcomes.
- Employment history: You should still list your jobs in reverse chronological order; however, you might do this in a simple bullet list under the heading ‘Employment History’. Include your title, company and tenure.
Functional resumes are great for showcasing your relevant/transferrable skills. They work best when they’re matched to the job you’re applying for, with your key points of difference clearly highlighted. You will need to talk about your employment history during the interview, so think about how you’ll present that. Including a strong cover letter is also a good idea, as it will allow you to expand on the skills and achievements that make you a great candidate.
Whether you think you need a functional or traditional resume, a professional resume writer can help! If you’d like some help with your resume, please see our Resume Writing Services.
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