Step-by-step guide to writing a cover letter

Article by Belinda Fuller

Step by step guide to writing a cover letterWe are asked almost daily by clients if writing a cover letter is really necessary. Our answer is always YES since we know that many employers and recruiters don’t even consider candidates without one. Writing a cover letter is your chance to stand out from other applicants – so use it to your best advantage.

Many clients come to us requesting a ‘general’ cover letter that addresses a variety of roles they would like to apply for in the future. Whilst this can be achieved, we can’t stress enough the importance of specifically targeting your cover letter to individual roles. We advise clients to modify their cover letter for each role they apply for rather than just re-use the same letter.

It’s important that the recruiter immediately identifies with you as someone who could do their job well. This means you need to spend some time analysing the role you are applying for and matching the requirements to your own skills and experience.

Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to making it to the top of the recruiter’s pile:

  1. Review the job ad – identify what the recruiter is really looking for and take note of industry buzzwords and specific language.
  2. Cross-match your skills – identify your strengths, applicable skills, experiences, qualifications, achievements, projects and general knowledge that relate directly to the role.
  3. Customise your content – recruiters want to see that you’ve taken the time to understand the role and explain why you want it. Take some time to do this and be explicit in communicating why you’d be a great candidate.
  4. Be succinct – clearly and briefly (no more than one A4 page) highlight your expertise. Use specific examples to demonstrate how you meet the requirements of the role. By all means reference your resume but don’t just regurgitate its content – include additional value.
  5. Quantify examples – if you can, use numbers, percentages or specific results to demonstrate successful outcomes. Try not to make generalised statements about what you can do or have done – back these up with concrete examples.
  6. Highlight the right expertise – if your background is extensive, start culling. Think about what’s important for the role you’re applying for – recruiters are interested in your skills, experience and accomplishments that directly relate to the role they’re recruiting for.
  7. Don’t apologise for what you don’t have – don’t be tempted to mention limitations or areas of partial experience. Instead focus on the positives and any transferable skills.
  8. Emulate the company’s ‘voice’ – after taking note of any industry buzzwords and specific language in Step 1, show you understand the company’s environment and culture by mirroring the same language in your letter.
  9. Use bullet points and white space – break up your letter with bullet points to highlight specific areas of expertise. Make your letter easy to scan and ensure your bullet points address all the main requirements of the role.
  10. Add value – research the company and mention why you would like to work there – highlight similar roles you’ve held or companies you’ve worked for and how that experience might help you succeed in this role. Mention a current company or industry issue you’re aware of and how you might be able to contribute to solving it.
  11. Request contact – include your contact details (at least email and mobile) in a prominent position and ask for an opportunity to discuss your suitability further.

It’s not that difficult to stand out from other candidates – just including a tailored cover letter will often put you ahead of the majority of candidates! Even in job ads that have not specifically requested a cover letter – we always recommend sending one that highlights the important parts of your background. Doing so creates a more concise and targeted picture of you and the value you can bring to the role.

Would you like assistance from a Professional Resume Writer to prepare a winning cover letter targeted towards a specific role for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

When are you happiest at work?

Article by Belinda Fuller

When are you happiest at workFollowing on from last month’s article which suggested some resources to help mature age workers succeed in our ever changing working environment, recent research from recruitment firm, Robert Half, provides some insight into the impact our age can have on our happiness at work.

According to a recent survey conducted of 2000 workers, employees aged over 55 are happiest and those aged in their 20s and 30s are among the least happy in the Australian workforce today. Statistics aren’t everything, however anecdotally many of our consultants working with clients on a day-to-day basis would agree.

While people in their 20s and 30s can be just starting out in their careers, they’re often looking for excitement, challenge and fulfilment that is hard to find. On the other hand, older workers are more likely to have found what they’re looking for, or managed to achieve the work-life balance they desire.

Here are some interesting statistics from the Robert Half survey:

What age group is happiest at work?

  • Workers over the age of 55 are the happiest employees with a score of 70 on a scale from 0 to 100
  • Employees aged 35-54 are the least happy in the Australian workplace with a score of 67
  • This was closely followed by employees aged 18-34 with a score of 68

What age group has the highest professional fulfilment levels?

  • 82% of employees over the age of 55 found their work worthwhile
  • That percentage dropped significantly to around 66% for workers aged 18 to 34
  • 70% of workers aged 35-54 found their work fulfilling

What age group has the highest stress levels?

  • One in three employees aged 18-34 said they found their job stressful
  • 29% of those aged 35-54 reported stress
  • For employees aged 55 and over, 26% reported that their job was stressful

Who is satisfied with their work-life balance?

  • 67% of Australian employees aged over 55
  • 59% of employees aged 35-54
  • 57% of employees aged 18-34

Who finds their work interesting?

  • 75% of employees aged over 55
  • 66% of employees aged 35 to 54
  • 62% of employees aged 18-34

In recent years, it has become huge business to try to discover the secret to employee satisfaction, as companies recognise the benefits of achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. If you are not happy at work, make some plans to change things. Here are some articles to help you on your way.

Are you happy at work? Would you be interested in obtaining some career counselling to help you decide on a new career path or course to improve your happiness at work? If so, please see our Career Coaching services.

121 words to get your resume noticed

Article by Belinda Fuller

121 words to get your Resume noticedWhether you’re a sales rep or tradesperson, nurse, administrative assistant, or CEO, there are words you can use to describe what you do that are more impactful than others. In today’s job market, recruiters can receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so what can you do to get your resume noticed? 

You need to stand out if you want to secure your next role, and using the same old words to describe what you do and the value you add is not the way to achieve that. When you’re writing your resume, ensure that the content is short, sharp and compelling. It should clearly sell you and your unique skill set as a viable candidate for the roles you are applying for.

We often liken resumes to sales proposals on YOU! It’s essential to highlight key skills, qualifications and experience in a way that demonstrates value to a potential employer. It should be packed full of easy-to-read facts and achievements. So get clear on exactly what you want and then work out what you’ve achieved previously that demonstrates the value you will add to a future employer.

Then, when writing your content, instead of using standard words to describe what you did, use some of these action-oriented and positive words that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Words to use when you saved the company money or time:

  1. Accelerated
  2. Boosted
  3. Centralised
  4. Consolidated
  5. Converted
  6. Customised
  7. Decreased
  8. Expanded
  9. Integrated
  10. Merged
  11. Overhauled
  12. Reconciled
  13. Reduced
  14. Rehabilitated
  15. Reorganised
  16. Replaced
  17. Restructured
  18. Simplified
  19. Standardised
  20. Streamlined
  21. Yielded

Words to use when you improved something:

  1. Altered
  2. Changed
  3. Clarified
  4. Diagnosed
  5. Enhanced
  6. Enriched
  7. Invigorated
  8. Perfected
  9. Progressed
  10. Redesigned
  11. Refined
  12. Revamped
  13. Revitalised
  14. Transformed

Words to describe experience with projects:

  1. Created
  2. Designed
  3. Developed
  4. Devised
  5. Drove
  6. Established
  7. Founded
  8. Improved
  9. Initiated
  10. Introduced
  11. Invented
  12. Launched
  13. Pioneered
  14. Spearheaded

Words to describe experience with teams:

  1. Aligned
  2. Coached
  3. Conducted
  4. Demonstrated
  5. Informed
  6. Instructed
  7. Led
  8. Mentored
  9. Strengthened
  10. Trained
  11. Transformed

Words to use if you work with partners and/or customers:

  1. Advised
  2. Advocated
  3. Arbitrated
  4. Coached
  5. Consulted
  6. Educated
  7. Facilitated
  8. Informed
  9. Supported

Words to describe experience with data and/or information:

  1. Analysed
  2. Assessed
  3. Audited
  4. Calculated
  5. Categorised
  6. Classified
  7. Compiled
  8. Composed
  9. Critiqued
  10. Drafted
  11. Identified
  12. Integrated
  13. Interpreted
  14. Investigated
  15. Leveraged
  16. Monitored
  17. Qualified
  18. Quantified
  19. Recorded
  20. Researched
  21. Revised

Words to describe general work characteristics:

  1. Accurate
  2. Active
  3. Adaptable
  4. Articulate
  5. Capable
  6. Committed
  7. Competent

Words to describe general work duties or responsibilities:

  1. Altered
  2. Arranged
  3. Developed
  4. Directed
  5. Evaluated
  6. Formulated
  7. Ordered
  8. Planned
  9. Prepared

Words to use instead of achieved:

  1. Accomplished
  2. Attained
  3. Awarded
  4. Carried out
  5. Completed
  6. Conquered
  7. Demonstrated
  8. Exceeded
  9. Outdid
  10. Outperformed
  11. Realised
  12. Succeeded
  13. Surpassed
  14. Targeted
  15. Topped

Next time you update your resume, try swapping out some of the more common words with some stronger, more compelling language to help you stand out to recruiters. Use our list to get started, and review your documents for repetition – use a thesaurus to identify other alternatives.

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

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.