23 quick Resume changes you can make today

Article by Belinda Fuller

23 quick Resume changes you can make todayThere’s always room for improvement! But so often, the people we meet just don’t have the time that’s necessary to bring their Resume up to scratch. Spending a couple of hours once a year updating your Resume and LinkedIn profile will pay dividends in the long run, and there are lots of simple small changes you can make today.

Taking time out to really clean up your Resume prior to beginning the job search process can pay huge dividends with your results. If you are applying for new roles and not hearing back, make some of these quick small changes to ensure your resume is catching recruiters’ eyes.

  1. Correct errors: Use the spelling and grammar checker in whatever application you’ve used to create your document to pick up errors, but make sure you read and re-read your application to pick up mistakes.
  2. Read it out loud: Printing out your Resume and reading it out loud helps more easily identify mistakes that may slip through the automated spell checker, or when reviewing content on a screen. It also helps you to identify clunky/hard to read sentences. Better yet, have someone else review it for you.
  3. Save it as a PDF: If your resume is in any other format, you can’t guarantee it will be viewed as you see it. Often the formatting looks fine on your screen, but doesn’t if opened by someone with a different software system. Saving as a PDF prevents this issue and ensures your document appears in a consistent way regardless of the system used.
  4. Name your file: Change the name of your Resume to <first name> <last name> Resume. That way, recruiters can quickly and easily identify you and your relevant material.
  5. Ensure readability: Use a common, clean font that is easy to read. Increase line spacing and font size if space allows. Add headings, sub-headings and bullet points and ensure formatting is consistent and pleasant to the eye. Consider adding some colour to make your format pop, and use the same design for your resume and cover letter to make your ‘brand’ consistent.
  6. Clarify content: The first person to review your resume might not be as knowledgeable about what you do as you are. It could be an assistant or a recruiter with general, not specific industry knowledge – so make it readable, relevant, and interesting regardless of the reader’s level of expertise.
  7. Include social links: Include links to your LinkedIn profile and other professional social media pages. Recruiters will search for and find you on social media regardless of how complete your profiles are, so optimising these and then including links just makes it easier for them to do their job.
  8. Activate hyperlinks: It’s likely that your resume will be read on a screen, so by making your email address, LinkedIn and other social profile links clickable – you’ll ensure its easy for the recruiter to learn more about you.
  9. Exclude irrelevant information: Since it’s illegal for employers to consider certain aspects when reviewing your application – you should delete them. This includes your gender, date of birth, marital status, and religion.
  10. Delete your high school information: Unless you finished high school in the last few years and you have very little work experience, there’s no need to include it.
  11. Place education after experience: Again, unless you’re a very recent graduate, chances are your recent work experience has more bearing on whether or not you’re right for the role. While recruiters might want to know you have a degree, it’s often not the most important aspect.
  12. Update your key skills: Ensure your skills and personal attributes are grouped under a section called ‘key skills’ or ‘key capabilities’. Remove anything outdated and ensure your skills match the requirements of the roles you are applying for.
  13. Remove acronyms: You shouldn’t assume that recruiters will understand what you’re talking about. Always spell out acronyms regardless of how common they are within your industry.
  14. Get rid of clutter: Unless you are a graphic designer, keep it simple. Remove photos and busy visual elements which usually just distract from the necessary information. Use bold, larger font sizes, dividers, and bullet points to delineate new sections and highlight specific content.
  15. Consolidate multiple positions in one company: If you held multiple positions in the same company, but they were similar, group them. For example, if you were promoted from an assistant to a manager – list the role as manager and state “promoted from assistant in <month> <year>” as an achievement. If the roles were quite different, list them separately. If you held several ‘acting’ roles – list them as bullets under your substantive or ‘regular’ role.
  16. Leave out irrelevant history: As a general rule, go back approximately ten years with detail, and then only include a brief summary of previous roles if highly relevant.
  17. Reduce lines that only contain one word: Go through your Resume and find ways to eliminate lines with only one word in them. Try editing previous lines to prevent this happening. It makes the document look cleaner and frees up extra space.
  18. Adjust the tense: Make sure tense and context is consistent. Generally, previous roles should be described in past tense and current roles in current tense, but whatever way you choose, just make it consistent.
  19. Focus on achievements: Clearly identify your value by focusing on how your company benefited by you doing what you did. This shows a potential employer how they might benefit by recruiting you.
  20. Quantify accomplishments: Where you can, include numbers and percentages or other ways to quantify achievements (estimates are OK but always be prepared to back these up in an interview if asked).
  21. Check punctuation: Again consistency is key – for easy reading as well as to show professionalism. Check the use of full stops, bullets, commas, colons, semi-colons, headings, sub-headings etc. and ensure consistency throughout.
  22. Ensure content is up-to-date: Make sure your most current information is referenced, including recently completed or in progress study, new awards and role accomplishments, newly developed skills, presentations you’ve given, or articles you’ve had published.
  23. Ask for help: Ask a few friends or professional contacts if you can view their resume for inspiration. Alternatively, ask them if they’ll review yours and provide you with their feedback.

Alternatively, why not enlist the help of a professional resume writer who can help you maximise your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? Our Resume Writers have been selectively hand-picked from around the country. They are professional writers with extensive experience writing resumes, cover letters, bios and selection criteria responses for both the public and private sectors.

Are you interested in getting assistance from a professional resume writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

Helpful resources for mature age workers

Article by Belinda Fuller

Helpful resources for mature age workersWith life expectancy on the rise, most people are wanting (or needing) to stay in the workforce longer to boost their retirement savings and ensure their financial future. But for many workers, this means a change in attitudes, retraining, and development of new skills to ensure they are not left behind in our ever changing digital and global world.

This drive for older workers to maintain their skills and develop new ones will ensure they remain competitive in the workplace for as long as they need to work. While in the past, many people expected to retire around 60, this is now no longer the case. In recognition of our ageing population, the federal government has already announced a rise in the retirement age to 67, which is due for implementation by 2023 and designed to reduce the impact on welfare.

So what are the main areas mature age workers need to focus on? Most experts agree that the ability to adapt, change and be flexible are key aspects that will determine an older worker’s ability to remain in the workforce. In addition, technical capabilities will be important. To succeed in the current and future period of digital disruption and globalisation, workers need to constantly up-skill to remain relevant.

Older workers should also develop transferable skills so capabilities can be adjusted and relevant ‘sideways’ moves can be made if necessary – particularly where industries shrink, collapse, or even become obsolete. This also requires older workers to think more creatively in terms of the type of work they might be able to do, as well as being prepared to work in completely different areas to what they’ve been used to.

People who are happy to retrain and upskill are those most likely to be in demand and highly active until they choose to retire. Many courses can be undertaken online today – for free or at a very low cost. They can be completed as short courses over a period of days or weeks, instead of longer post-graduate study that people might think of when they consider training and development.

List of Helpful Resources

Career transition assistance: As part of the Government’s Working Age Payment Reforms, a Career Transition Assistance Program will be trialled in five regions around Australia, before being rolled out nationally from July 2020. The program provides opportunities for mature age people to reskill and become more competitive in the job market. Participants in the program will be able to boost their skills, learn new job-search techniques and better understand local labour markets. The trial commences in July 2018 in various areas around Australia.

Older workers: A site dedicated to job listings from age-friendly employers who are specifically searching for older workers.

CoAct: A national network of employment agencies that can help mature age workers to re-enter the job market after an extended period of time away, or change careers.

Mature workers / care careers: A site that welcomes mature aged workers to the disability, community and aged care sectors.

Small business assistance: As a mature worker, you may be in an ideal position to establish 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.

Open2Study: This site provides access to a variety of free courses that can be studied online.

MOOC: A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a free online course available to anyone wanting to take it. They are similar to online courses in terms of teaching and learning methods using videos, group chats, assignments and tests but they do not generally provide academic credit for use in other traditional courses, nor will you have much (if any) interaction with the lecturer. They are a great option if you don’t want to commit to a long term study option or would like to ‘try before you buy’.

Australian Government – mature age workers: This Australian Government webpage details information and articles on some of the support and resources available to mature age workers.

Restart – Department of Employment: This site provides information about the Australian Government’s financial incentives available to businesses to encourage them to hire and retrain employees who are 50 years of age and over.

As a mature age worker, you have a lot to offer. Both the government and businesses are slowly starting to recognise this. Tapping into the experience and success of older workers makes good business sense for most, and ensuring as many of our growing pool of older people are employed in the Australian economy, for as long as they are able to be, makes good economic sense.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also offer LinkedIn Profile Writing Services with experienced writers who can help you network and connect with like-minded industry experts and ensure your profile sets you apart from your competitors.

How to leverage digital technology to apply for your next role

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to leverage digital technology to apply for your next roleThere’s no doubt the digital revolution has impacted every part of our personal and professional lives – in fact its effect is so significant that it’s hard to imagine life before it. With technology now playing a major role in recruitment – both in allowing companies to find candidates, and candidates to find jobs, it can be daunting to make sense of it all.

Securing a role today is nothing like it was in the past. With almost every application process involving some kind of digital technology – most job search action happens online. Since the recruiter is unlikely to meet you until you’re invited for an interview, it makes sense to pay attention to every part of this process to ensure success. From searching, to applying, and following up after the interview, here’s our tips on leveraging technology to help you succeed.

  • Optimise your resume: Using one standard resume with no customisation is not recommended. Tailor content to suit the role – reorganise material to address the most important skills, attributes and accomplishments first; make sure to address all the requirements of the role; and ensure inclusion of ‘keywords’ relating to the job and ad. Even where Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’) are used, your resume will be read by a recruiter after being selected by an ATS, so it also needs to read well from a human perspective and not just be stuffed with keywords. Make sure there are no spelling errors and always send or attach your Resume in the correct file format specified by the company recruiting.
  • Review your online presence: In addition to your resume, cover letter, and any other physical application material, recruiters can easily explore your background more proactively, so your online presence should be optimised. The first place to ensure optimisation is LinkedIn, however we also recommend reviewing avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, personal blogs and other social media to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects. If you are expressing strong opinions and/or sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. Perhaps more importantly, recruiters also use social media to find the positives – searching for cultural fit through various aspects of your life and activities. I’ve heard stories of recruiters having two or three equal candidates but narrowing it down to the ideal candidate based on social media profile reviews. It therefore makes sense to tidy up photos and content that may be offensive or suggestive to others, adjust privacy settings, think about what might make you stand out from the crowd, and include positive hobbies, interests, volunteer work, or charities you support.
  • Develop your brand: We’ve spoken before about the importance of thinking of yourself as a brand and maintaining consistency with your message throughout your job search tools. Whether you’re self-employed or not, defining, building, and promoting a recognisable and consistent personal brand that sets you apart will help raise your profile and make you more marketable. For more information on developing your own personal brand, see the following articles: 5 tips to build your personal brand and How to build your personal brand, or search ‘personal brand’ on the Katie Roberts Career Advice Blog.
  • Conduct your own research: Most companies have websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social profiles. Take time to research companies you’d like to work for. Engage with them and immerse yourself in their culture by following them on social media. This is a great way to get to know the company before you get to the interview stage. You can also research current employees on LinkedIn to gain a better understanding of their backgrounds and skillsets. We also advise clients to research a variety of different job sites to review appealing jobs and identify the key skills and attributes necessary for success.
  • Set up your job alerts: You can quickly and easily set up job alerts with all the major job search sites, as well as many major companies. This ensures you don’t miss any viable opportunities and you also have the option to establish a personal profile which can be viewed by potential employers who then make contact with you.
  • Tap into your network: Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. Use LinkedIn, join online networking groups, alert your Facebook friends, or make a funny post on Instagram about your job hunt. Don’t forget other non-digital ways to connect with your network as well – and make sure to use them all.
  • Track your progress: Being organised is a key factor in achieving success. Create a folder accessible from anywhere and save copies of resumes and cover letters you can tailor for specific opportunities. Since job ads are often removed before the interview, it’s important to keep a copy of this as well so you can reference it if you’re successful in securing an interview. Track jobs you’ve applied for and whether or not you’ve heard back. Include information like job title, company name, contact information, and any important information you identified or discovered during your initial research.
  • Follow up your application: Don’t be afraid to follow up with an email, a call or a LinkedIn connection request. I once secured a lucrative contract opportunity simply by requesting to connect with the owner of a business that had advertised a role six weeks previously. I included a brief note saying I’d applied and assumed the position had been filled, but wanted to connect in case any similar opportunities arose in the future. I briefly reminded the contact of my key skills and she called me within 15 minutes of receiving my request. She had been extremely busy, had exhausted her initial first priority candidate pool and hadn’t got around to reviewing initial applicants again to identify further potentials. This was part luck, but also effort on my part. My contact told me that my proactive follow up appealed to her and the fact that I’d gone to the trouble of reminding her of my skillset and doing so through LinkedIn meant she could quickly review my profile and see where my skills would fit before giving me a call to chat.

Companies today receive more applications for roles than they ever have before, with the ease of digital technology broadening the talent pool beyond traditional limitations. While these developments do mean increasing competition for you – it also means a whole new world of possibility when applying for roles. Make sure to leverage digital technology to your advantage.

Are you confused about how to leverage digital technology to apply for your next role? Not sure where to start? If so, see our LinkedIn Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.

7 tips for finding a job in Australia

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 tips for finding a job in AustraliaIf you’re searching for a new job in Australia, but don’t have any local experience, you might be finding it difficult to secure interviews. “No local experience” might mean you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of our local laws and business regulations, but it might also mean you have good skills – it’s just that the recruiter doesn’t understand your overseas successes and their local relevance.

Depending on whether or not you’ve already arrived in Australia will dictate your approach. If you haven’t yet made the move, and you’re applying for roles from another country – inform the recruiter of your plans. While it isn’t always necessary to be in Australia to receive a job offer, your chances are certainly higher. It helps if you have firm plans about when you are moving, an address, residency or right to work details etc. – so make sure to include these in your application.

If you’ve already arrived in Australia – follow these simple tips to give yourself the best possible chance in the job market:

  1. Network: Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with, then let them know you are seeking opportunities in Australia. You can do this via phone calls, emails, face-to-face catch-ups, and social media. Connect with people in your industry through LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media. Attend industry events and relevant seminars, join a local industry association, and search for internships or other unpaid work experience opportunities. Use LinkedIn to its full capacity – ensure your content is comprehensive and up to date, follow companies you’d like to work for and influential people in your industry, as well as joining relevant groups and forums. Post responses to questions to build your name and demonstrate your industry expertise – this will help you develop local networks.
  2. Review your resume: Ensure it conforms to Australian standards which focuses more around accomplishments and what you achieved in previous roles as opposed to day-to-day ‘responsibilities’ in isolation. Provide information about the company, the challenges, market demands, and competitors – anything that shows context or scope of roles you held, because local recruiters may not have any knowledge or understanding of your previous company in another country. Translate revenue, budget or other financial data to Australian dollars and make other relevant comparisons. Ensure overseas qualifications are applicable and understood. Depending where you worked, you could approach similar or competitor organisations in Australia.
  3. Check your application for errors: Ensure your application materials (including LinkedIn or other online profiles) use Australian (not American) spelling, with correct grammar, and don’t include any expressions or language that is native to your country of origin. Potential employers will see your name and country, and they may assume certain things about your communication skills. If your Resume is poorly written, this fear might be confirmed, making it hard for you to secure an interview. It’s a great idea if you have any doubts to ask someone who was born in Australia to review your documents for their advice. Even better, enlist the support of a professional Resume Writer who has the experience and skills to prepare a winning job application and/or provide specific Job Search Coaching Services to help you succeed in the Australian market.
  4. Be persistent: Finding a job takes time. Finding a job when you have no local experience can take even longer. You need to be persistent while remaining positive and upbeat. Employ job search strategies that others don’t often use. Ideas include identifying and arranging a proactive meet-up with relevant recruiters, being open minded about job titles and discarding preconceived ideas about your ideal role, and accessing the hidden job market.
  5. Be flexible: If you are struggling to secure your ideal role, think about other types of work such as contract, freelance, job share, or part-time work. Register with agencies for temp work and remain available and enthusiastic. Often consultants are less fussy finding someone with the perfect background if it’s only short term. Once you have proven yourself, you may be offered a longer assignment or other opportunities could open up. At the very least, you can move on with local experience (and more confidence), and it’s a great way to build your local network.
  6. Brush up on your English: If English is your second language and you think it may be holding you back, take some classes and practise speaking as much as possible. If you do not feel confident over the phone, call someone you trust to practise. Ask them whether they can understand you and get them to give you tips on your approach, tone, speed etc. Australians sometimes use less direct questioning styles than other cultures and we don’t tend to speak as fast as some other cultures either. Understanding these differences and ensuring your communication matches will help you succeed.
  7. Conduct some research: Know the industry, the company, and the role you’re applying for. Identify people in your profession who you can ask for advice regarding how your overseas experience might translate to local success. When you’re submitting a specific application, mention something about the company in your cover letter and relate that back to your experience – that could be the key factor that ensures you stand out in the recruiter’s eye as a viable candidate.

Finally, be patient. You’re not alone and while you’re waiting to secure your first role, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of success. Don’t take your unsuccessful attempts personally, but instead remain upbeat, confident, and consistent.

Would you like assistance from a professional resume writer or coach to prepare a winning Resume or conduct a customised job search for your next application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and/or our Job Search Coaching Services.

How to use your work commute time more effectively

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to use your work commute time more effectivelyIf you rely on public transport to get to and from work, you might be a little over it. Likewise sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or more isn’t much fun either. But using this time to help you gain back a little time later in the day, or help improve your productivity, or even your mood is achievable.

In this month’s article, we look at some simple strategies you could easily incorporate into your daily commute to help improve your productivity and/or mood.

  1. Write your to-do list: If you like being organised and you work well with lists, getting organised before you arrive at work is a great start to your day. If you’re catching public transport this is simple. If you’re driving, you can use one of the many voice recording apps out there to get your notes onto your phone. Evernote has a voice recording function, as do many other ‘organising’ apps. Use whatever method works best for you.
  2. Clear your inbox: Again if you’re on the bus or train, this is easy – getting rid of all the junk emails and dealing with any ‘easy responses’ during your commute means when you arrive at the office you can get stuck into the more complex work. If you’re driving, there are apps that can help. For example, Speaking Email provides a simple interface designed to let you safely listen to your emails while driving. It reads them out loud to you and provides voice command functionality that lets you archive, flag or instantly reply while you’re on the go.
  3. Listen up: Check out the latest podcast or audiobook. I’m very late to the party here, but I’ve recently discovered podcasts and think it’s a great way to spend my commute. It’s better than spending more time staring at my screen, and for drivers it’s a great way to pass time in traffic. You can choose podcasts that entertain, inform or teach. Ask around for suggestions on what other like-minded people are into, research the many podcast review lists on the web, or check out the ‘featured’ and ‘top charts’ within the podcast app for currently trending podcasts.
  4. Draft emails or reports: I’m not a huge fan of emailing from my phone – I just need a bigger screen, but I don’t mind sending those quick one or two liners from my phone (See tip 2). What I do love using my commute for is drafting those longer, more difficult responses that need some level of thought. I’ll often draft these emails during my commute then review and send once I’ve arrived at the office. Doing this often significantly improves your content since you’ve had time to think about it. That final review before you hit send usually brings out the best and most articulate content!
  5. Keep up to date: These days there is so much content to stay on top of – whether it’s news about your company, your industry, your clients or competitors, or simply staying on top of local current affairs – there’s lots of it. Add to that all the personal interest content you’d like to read or videos you’d like to watch and you can easily feel overwhelmed. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a list as long as your arm of articles you’d like to read and content you’d like to watch. Use your commute time to make a dent.
  6. Take note of successes: This is a great tip for staying on top of your career. When it comes time to look for a new role, or ask for a pay rise or promotion – you’ll need more than just a list of skills and experience. You need specialist expertise and you need to know your value. Use your commute time to keep track of your accomplishments and especially all those little wins (because you will forget them over time). Take note of accolades, positive feedback, outstanding results, and training completed. Use driving time to think about this and jot them down as soon as you get to work.
  7. Get your social media fix: It’s a time waster for sure, so resist the urge for mindless scrolling through your feeds and notifications while you’re at work by doing it during your commute (especially on the way home from work when your energy levels are probably at their lowest).
  8. Increase your activity: Depending on how far away your work is, consider walking, riding or even running to work – or at least part of the way. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away.
  9. Read a book: Using your commute time for ‘work stuff’ to ensure you’re more productive later is great, but simply picking up a book (or e-book) that you’ve been wanting to read is also a good idea. If you’ve lost interest in fiction as a result of all the online noise, make an effort to re-discover a book for pleasure during your commute (try an audio book if you’re driving).
  10. Chill out: In our increasingly busy lives, who said that being productive is the most effective use of time? Most of us need to spend more time relaxing. Use your commute as a time to just be present and clear your mind. If you find that hard, you could try one of the many meditation and mindfulness apps available, which can help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. Some of the most popular include: Headspace, InsightTimer, and Calm.

Unless you want to move closer to your workplace or can somehow work from home – commuting to work is the reality for most people. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – use the time wisely and your mood and productivity will likely improve.

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

How to make a lasting first impression

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to make a lasting first impressionBuilding a network to become a valuable working asset is a key component of your future career success. So how do you turn those people you meet at industry events or conferences into strong connections that help you (and them) succeed in the future? Many people we talk to don’t have a problem meeting people – it’s the staying in touch in a meaningful way that they struggle with.

So you’ve just met a new contact at an event and you really hit it off – your like-mindedness on so many issues was surprising and refreshing. You exchange business cards or details and mention you’ll keep in touch. If you’re like most people, following that exchange, nothing much will ever come of it. Sure, if you run into them again, you’ll strike up a conversation, perhaps picking up where you left off, however in terms of creating any meaningful or long lasting relationship, following through on that initial meeting falls short.

Here’s a few quick tips on what to do to significantly expand your contacts and start to build a network that’s valuable for your career.

  • Be interesting AND interested: If you’re meeting someone for the first time and you are truly interested in learning about them – this will show. While it’s good to have something to offer in terms of advice or support, often when you meet someone for the first time professionally, simply being interested in them and what they do will have a positive and lasting impression. If you’re genuine in your interest about who they are and what they’re doing, your conversation and connection will often flow more easily.
  • Take notes: After meeting someone new, take some brief notes about your exchange and include both personal and professional information if you can. It’s a great idea to do this straight away while all those details are fresh in your mind because once life gets in the way, you won’t remember them. Store your notes anywhere that works for you – a list on your phone, in Outlook, under your phone contacts, in a purpose built database, on the back of their business card, in your diary or you could use one of the many purpose built tools out there like Evernote – whatever works best for you. You’ll be able to use that information to strike up a future conversation or reach out for a catch up when it feels right. If it feels appropriate, send them a short email thanking them for their time and mentioning how much you enjoyed the conversation. You could also suggest a future catch-up time (then set a reminder to follow up so you don’t forget).
  • Use LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the best tool for professional networking. As soon as you get back to your office, send your new connection a request to connect and include a short personalised message about your time together. Doing this makes it very easy to stay in touch in a personal but non-pressured way. You can comment or like their updates, share articles and announcements you think they might be interested in, or even send personal messages where it’s warranted.
  • Schedule a catch-up: It’s great to meet someone, get along, take notes and connect with them on LinkedIn but if you want to keep in touch and develop that relationship further – schedule a catch-up. Ideally you’d wait a couple of months before touching base. Contact could be in a variety of ways – examples include sending them a friendly email asking how they are; sharing a link to an article you think they might be interested in and suggesting you get together; specifically inviting them to meet up for coffee (don’t forget to remind them how you met and what you had in common in case they’re not as organised as you!); or use an upcoming industry event as an excuse to connect.

While networking is about meeting people, it’s also about making meaningful connections and developing lasting relationships that can help you (and them) with future career goals.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also offer LinkedIn Profile Writing Services with experienced writers who can help you connect with like-minded industry experts and ensure your profile sets you apart from your competitors.

 

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

12 ways to amp up your activity levels at work

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

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

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

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

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

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

The skills to develop today to succeed tomorrow

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

How to boomerang back to an old employer

Article by Belinda Fuller

 

How to boomerang back to an old employerThe 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.

4 career lessons I learnt from my mum

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Guidance Counselling or MBTI personality profiling.