How to manage your time in the digital age

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to manage your time in the digital ageTechnology is at the centre of many workplaces these days, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with everything going on around us. Is it even possible to balance our personal and professional lives, while staying on top of our inboxes and being attached to our smartphones?

In the digital age, it’s more important than ever to learn how to focus only on the things that matter. This way, you can make technology work for you – not against you. Here are six simple tips to help you limit the distractions of technology and get more done.

  1. Schedule time to respond to emails: Dealing with email is a constant struggle. A full inbox can be overwhelming and diverts our time away from more important work. One strategy is to allocate specific times of the day to check your email, and keep your inbox minimised on your screen outside of these times. Another strategy is to deal with any emails immediately that can you can respond to within three minutes. If it’s going to take longer, leave it for dedicated email time. You will find yourself quickly identifying whether an email is just a distraction or something that needs attention, and you’ll be amazed by the difference this approach can make. To get on top of your emails, sort them into sub-folders according to urgency. For example, create a ‘today’ folder for items that need to be dealt with that day, a ‘this week’ folder for less urgent emails and a ‘this month’ folder for emails that can wait longer.
  2. Turn off notifications: This is a very helpful way to stay productive at work and avoid distractions from technology. Having your phone, computer or smart phone notifying you every time you receive an email, message or social media update constantly interrupts your thoughts and it then takes time to re-focus. This can greatly affect your overall productivity across the day. 
  3. Put your phone away: One of the greatest threats to your productivity is your phone. Smartphones have revolutionised how we do many things – including time wasting! If you’re always glued to social media, try physically putting your phone away for short periods of time. Switching it to airplane or do not disturb mode or turning it off can also help, but sometimes just having your phone out of sight means it’s also out of mind. The world won’t end if you don’t have your phone with you, and you might actually get more done. 
  4. Close your email and messaging apps: It’s important to stay in close contact with your colleagues, especially in teams working across different locations, or when working on complex projects. However, sometimes it helps to close your email and instant messaging applications for a while, so you can get some uninterrupted time to focus on the task at hand. Just be sure your manager or colleagues are aware of your plan, and they know how to reach you if something urgent comes up.
  5. Know when to chat face-to-face: Discussing things with colleagues over email can involve a lot of waiting and is often counterproductive, especially for quick questions. Instead, don’t be afraid to catch up with the person face-to-face. You can often accomplish more during a short conversation than a lengthy email chain. Some workplaces are even making this a policy. 
  6. Take regular technology breaks: Taking regular breaks away from your computer and other devices can boost your concentration and productivity. Get up from your desk regularly and move around. A walk outside at lunchtime is a great way to re-energise and give your brain and eyes a break from the demands of technology. Once you feel more refreshed, you’re sure to be more productive.

While it can be challenging to stay focused and productive amid the constant distractions of technology, there are simple steps you can take. Despite how many of us feel, there are usually times when it’s okay not to be contactable, so take advantage of these windows and minimise your technology use. You’ll probably amazed at what you can achieve!

If you’ve been struggling to find time to get your career on track, you might like some support from a Career Coach to help you work out your next steps. Or perhaps you’re ready to take the next step and need help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy? To find out more, read about our services.

 

9 steps to success in your new job

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 steps to success in your new jobYou aced the interview, negotiated the job offer and now you’re a new employee. But now is not the time to relax and put your efforts on cruise control. While it’s the company’s job to help you settle in and learn about office culture, how successful you are in your new role is largely up to you. The first few months are critical and you need to put serious time into showing management they made a smart decision in hiring you.

Here are 10 ways to quickly impress your boss and set your path to success.

  1. Research before your first day: There are many things you’ll need to learn on the job, but some can be learned by reading and researching at home. Review the company’s website and any related media or other information about recent events. Do your homework, and your boss will be impressed when you can add value from day one.
  2. Understand what’s expected of you: Building relationships with your superiors is important, but you should also spend time learning about what they expect from you. This can include the expectations listed in your job description, as well as informal expectations such as networking, helping others, and supporting the broader goals of the company. If you can help your boss achieve their goals, this will be a huge plus for you.
  3. Manage your time well from the start: Arrive at work on time or early, ready to focus. Organise and prioritise your work. Create to-do lists and achieve as much as possible every day. Avoid the temptation to check social media, text your friends or zone out an hour before the end of the day. Do your best to be fully engaged and productive every single day.
  4. Be proactive: You should start accomplishing your goals and making connections as soon as possible. Your first few days on the job are crucial to creating a good impression and understanding what’s required for you to succeed. You may come across some issues that you’ve never encountered before, or tasks that you’re unsure how to complete. Rather than immediately turning to your boss for help, try to resolve the issue on your own. Investigate the problem, think through possible solutions, observe your colleagues, use Google, and then once you have some ideas, seek out the advice of a team member or superior. You should also take advantage of extra opportunities to contribute, such as pitching in on open projects or volunteering for committees. By offering to shoulder more responsibility where it makes sense, you’ll show your boss how committed you are.
  5. Ask lots of questions – but try to answer them first: Even when you try to absorb everything your new boss or colleagues say, you’re still bound to have lots of questions. It’s normal and shows you’re engaged. However, see if you can answer your own questions before approaching someone else. Use the resources at your disposal, such as the company handbook, training guide or your own notes. Observe how others handle similar situations. This way, when you do need to ask your boss a question, you’ll have some background knowledge.
  6. Set realistic goals with your boss: Your goals for your role should be set in collaboration with your boss, so you can find common ground and get their stamp of approval. Your boss can also let you know which goals might need to change and what your immediate priorities are.
  7. Secure early wins: Consider ways you can build momentum right away. Try to identify an immediate contribution you can make to the team. This will ensure people see you in a positive light and show your boss that you’re committed to the team’s success.
  8. Follow through: Dependability is a quality that employers look for, and there’s no better time to prove that you’re reliable than now. Ensure you complete tasks either before or on deadline. Arrive at meetings prepared and ready to contribute. If you say you’ll do something, make sure you do it. If you know you’re going to miss a deadline or not finish something as expected, be transparent and inform your boss early on in the process.
  9. Get to know people: Demonstrate your interpersonal skills by circulating around the office and staff kitchen to get to know people quickly. Not only will this help you settle in and adjust to the office culture, it’ll also help you build a great base for communication and teamwork. Stay positive and friendly, and be mindful of others and their opinions. Getting along with a variety of people can improve your chances for a promotion down the track.

In your first few months of a new job, you’ve got a unique chance to make a great impression and set a foundation for future success. By following the steps above, you’ll make it clear that you care about your job and the company, and you’re serious about making a positive impact.  

Do you need expert guidance to succeed in your new role or take your career to the next level? Are you ready to find a new job or career path, but not sure how to go about it? Our career experts can help you confidently take your next step. See our Career Coaching Services to find out more.

Why interpersonal skills matter at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

Why interpersonal skills matter at workWhen employers are evaluating candidates for a role, interpersonal skills are often one of their top criteria. These skills are also vital for succeeding in your job and getting ahead in your career. Also known as ‘people skills’, ‘soft skills’ or ‘emotional intelligence’, interpersonal skills relate to the way we communicate and interact with others.

There are very few jobs where someone works 100% independently. Even roles you might think are mostly solo require some human interaction and teamwork. And how well you do that is strongly linked to your overall performance and success. Do you have the interpersonal skills you need to be a valuable member of your team and organisation?

Some of the most important skills include:

  • Communication: Sharing ideas and information, building relationships with colleagues and understanding what a customer wants all rest on being able to communicate effectively.
  • Empathy: Relating well to other people requires you to understand their thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Empathy allows you to put yourself in others’ shoes.
  • Teamwork: Almost all jobs have elements of teamwork. To be a valuable employee, you need to know how to work well with others and play your part within close-knit and wider teams.

Here are seven important reasons why you need to develop and keep improving your interpersonal skills – they can help you:

  1. Foster personal relationships: Just as important as building personal relationships in the workplace is maintaining them. This involves a range of skills including dependability, communication and empathy.
  2. Be an effective leader: A leader who can’t connect with their team will inevitably fail in the long term, and in the short term, valuable team members may leave. A leader with great interpersonal skills can improve productivity and general satisfaction levels of staff, customers and suppliers.
  3. Promote empathy: Understanding your colleagues and manager – both professionally and personally – will help you build powerful connections, and can help create loyalty, boost morale and facilitate positive communication.
  4. Increase client satisfaction: Diplomacy is an important trait in the workplace, but it’s not just co-workers who benefit from a tactful approach. Your ability to compromise and quickly find solutions to issues can greatly improve customer service.
  5. Build trust: Demonstrating strong interpersonal skills helps to build a deep level of trust with co-workers. In turn, this creates a solid base for effective teamwork, problem solving and conflict resolution, which is especially helpful during times of change.
  6. Support clear communication: Effective communication is key to the success of any business. Establishing mutual respect and consideration for each other’s opinions and input can also enable you and your colleagues to work more efficiently and effectively.
  7. Expand your opportunities: By truly connecting with managers and colleagues, you may gain access to more exciting opportunities. If you make a good impression on your boss, they might provide good references, give you more responsibilities and perks, or even promote you.

With technology now taking care of many basic tasks that humans once did, interpersonal skills are more valued than ever. And they’re increasingly a non-negotiable for people wanting to progress in their careers. When you’re applying for a role, address the need for these skills in your application and be ready to discuss this in an interview. In the workplace, consider how you can continue to develop your interpersonal skills to increase your value as an employee.

Are you unsure of the best way to present your all-important interpersonal skills in your resume? Or do you need help preparing for an interview? Our Resume Writing or  Interview Training and Coaching Services might be just what you need.

 

 

 

How to answer: “Do you have any questions for us?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer do you have any questions for usThis might seem like a less important interview question, but don’t be fooled. And never answer with ‘no’! This interview question is actually one of the most important ones to prepare for, because it allows you to demonstrate your interest in the role and the company – while also assessing if you really want to work there.

In an interview, there are a few questions we can almost guarantee you’ll be asked, and “Do you have any questions for us?” is one of them. That means you can take time to prepare a great response – one that helps you demonstrate your passion for your work, your interest in the company and your understanding of their challenges and goals.

The questions you ask in response could focus on a wide range of areas, such as:

  • The company and its future direction
  • The industry
  • Competitors
  • Recent news or events
  • The department’s direction and how it fits with company strategy
  • Why the incumbent is leaving (or where the work has come from for a newly created role)
  • The expectations of the role and how success is measured
  • Scope for future expansion
  • Company culture
  • The recruitment process timeline and/or next steps

Think about what matters most to you, as well as how you can effectively demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role. Below are some example questions to get you started.

  • What’s it like to work here? This is a fairly broad and open question; however, it can often be very revealing. If the interviewer gets a little defensive or guarded, it may suggest you need to explore further.
  • How would you describe your culture? Most interviewers should be prepared to answer this question. Cultural fit is becoming more and more important for recruiters because companies recognise it as being integral to job satisfaction and employee retention. By asking the question, you’re showing that it’s an important consideration for you too.
  • How did the role become vacant? Why did the incumbent leave? This question can uncover some interesting insights into the workplace, the challenges of the role and the workplace culture.
  • What is your leadership style like? This would obviously only be relevant if your reporting manager was the interviewer, but you could also ask an independent recruiter if they know much about the manager’s style. This question can provide insight into whether or not their style will work well for you.
  • What do you expect from your direct reports (or from me, if I’m successful)? This question (like the previous one) lets the interviewer know that relationships and performance expectations are important to you. It is also a fairly open question, which allows for varied responses – again providing a useful indicator for you to assess personality and cultural fit.
  • What are the critical challenges of this role? The way the interviewer answers this can provide some really important insight. You might think you know what the focus of the role is – but by asking about the challenges, you can sometimes learn far more about the most important aspects. The answer should give you a good indication of what’s valued most across the different areas of responsibility, which a role description can’t really provide.
  • What are the hours and remuneration? This should have been explained by the recruiter prior to your interview. However, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions if you’re unclear on any aspects relating to remuneration, hours, travel and workplace policies. Don’t appear overzealous in your line of questioning, particularly around flexible hours and perks, but it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Topical questions: demonstrating your knowledge of the company

In addition to the questions above, you should do some research about the company to learn as much as you can about recent announcements, news and other company happenings. This will enable you to ask some topical questions, which could focus on:

  • Strategic direction
  • Threats and opportunities
  • Competitive activity
  • Operational issues
  • Progress on specific projects

These types of questions are especially relevant if your potential new role is likely to be involved in any recently announced projects or initiatives.

You could also ask more technical questions about current projects where appropriate, but be careful not to pass critical comments about how the company is managing them. This could appear presumptuous or arrogant and might put the recruiter off.

Answering the question “Do you have any questions for us?” is a great opportunity to get a better feel for the role, and to show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework. Be honest and authentic, while staying positive and enthusiastic about the job, and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare! 

Do you struggle with nerves during interviews? For help building your confidence, making a great impression and increasing your interview success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

 

Feeling lost? How to uncover your perfect career

Article by Belinda Fuller

Feeling lost? How to uncover your perfect careerChoosing the ‘right’ career is no easy task. You might be new to the workforce and unsure which path to take, or unhappy in your current role and looking for a new challenge. Wherever you’re at, when it’s time to make a choice about your career, it’s common to feel stuck. Here are our top tips on narrowing down your options and choosing a career that suits your personality, preferences and skills.

What we do for work can be one of the most important decisions we make. Many of us will spend around a third of each day at work – and sometimes more – so finding a career that aligns with our values and preferences is important. If you’re not sure which direction you should take, or you want to feel more fulfilled in your job, read on for our tips on finding a career that suits you.

Tip 1: Think about what excites and energises you

This is a great first step. We all want to like and enjoy our job. And while passion isn’t the only requirement for being content in your career, it will help you stay motivated and engaged, and keep you going through the tough times. But you may not feel that passionate about any specific career, or perhaps you’re interested in multiple areas and can’t decide on just one. So instead of focusing just on jobs, think about your personality and what you do (and don’t) enjoy doing.

Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, you probably have an idea of what you like or dislike, work-wise, and this can help narrow down your options.

For example, perhaps you enjoy travelling and dislike working in heavily structured environments, or maybe you don’t like big cities and the idea of working remotely appeals to you.

 

Start by making a list of likes and dislikes. Do you like working in a team or would you rather work independently? Do you value structure or do you prefer flexibility? What appeals to you about certain workplaces and what do you find off-putting? Once you’ve written down as many likes and dislikes as you can think of, you’ll start to build a clearer picture of the type of work that suits you. All these little personal preferences can help lead you towards your perfect career.

Tip 2: Evaluate your skills

Think about the life and work skills you already have, and those you would like to build on. Which skills come easiest to you? For example, communication, self-management, teamwork, problem solving or analysis? Every career needs these skills, but some more than others. For instance, great communication is especially important in sales, marketing and management careers, while analytical skills are more important in finance or IT roles.

Tip 3: Research career prospects and trajectory

If you’ve identified that a certain career would be a good fit for you based on your personality and preferences, make sure you consider all the facts. For example, have you thought about your prospects? How easy will it be to find a job in your chosen area and what sort of compensation can you expect?

You should also consider career trajectory and what your role might look like five or ten years down the track. Would you still enjoy the job if you ended up managing people and had less time to create things or work directly with customers? It’s also a good idea to research the types of promotions you could expect over the coming years and whether you’ll have a chance to grow and expand your skill set.

Tip 4: Get some practical experience

Experiencing a career firsthand is the fastest way to determine whether or not it’s a good fit, and having some practical experience can also make you more employable once you begin your job search.

If you’re still in school, work experience placements and internships offer a chance to try out certain jobs and industries. And if you’re already working, you can gain practical experience by volunteering or taking a course that allows you to develop new skills and make contacts in your industry of interest.

Tip 5: Talk to other people

One of the best ways to discover a new career is to ask other people about theirs. Use your existing contacts as a reference point for information about different roles and careers. Your LinkedIn network can be a good place to start seeking information.

Tip 6: Consult a career coach or mentor

It may also be a good idea to consult a qualified career coach, who can take a solution-based approach to helping you discover a career aligned to your personality, interests and values. With experience across a variety of industries and extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations, a good career coach can be invaluable.

By using tools and techniques such as personality profiling and career interest assessments, a career coach can provide new insight and information on careers that might suit you. They can also help you explore your options and create a realistic and personalised action plan.

Tip 7: Consider your short- and long-term goals

Now that you’ve spent some time thinking about a career that’s right for you, your next step is to define some achievable goals. To make your career dreams a reality, what are you going to work towards in the coming months and years?

In a document or spreadsheet, list the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goals, and a date you’d like to achieve them by. Your goals can be small or large, but make sure they’re realistic. Taking time to define the steps required to achieve your career aspirations, and breaking them down into manageable goals, will help you turn your daydreams into a rewarding, long-term career.

Are you ready for a change but feeling unsure about what kind of career would suit you best? An experienced career coach can be invaluable in helping you create a better future for yourself. See our Career Counselling Services to learn how our career experts can support you through the process of choosing a career and taking your first steps.

 

8 tips for returning to the workforce

Article by Belinda Fuller

8 tips for returning to the workforceHave you had an extended break from the workforce? Are you looking to return to full- or part-time work, but unsure where to start? The process can seem daunting after a long break – but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how you can you achieve a smooth and successful transition back into work.

Many people take a break from their career at some point, whether it’s to study, travel or start a family, or for health or other personal reasons. Whatever your reason for taking time out, returning to the workplace can feel daunting. In this article, we look at some first steps you can take to help make the transition back to work a positive experience.

  1. Consider the type of work you’d like to do: Make a list of what you’re looking for when you go back to work. What type of position would you like? Do you want to return to what you were doing before or are you looking for a change? Do you want to work for a company with promotion opportunities, or would you prefer a job where you can go in, do your work and head home without having to worry about your team? The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find something suitable.
  2. Update your skills: Before you start working on your resume and applying for roles, a great first step is to update your skill set. This will help boost your confidence while giving you a stronger resume. Look for opportunities that help fill gaps in your experience, such as taking an online course, completing an internship or doing some volunteer work.
  3. Refresh your resume: When you’re returning to work after a significant break, creating a functional resume, rather than a standard chronological resume, can work best. This involves focusing on your skills and successes rather than the precise dates of your employment. You can showcase your experience under headings such as ‘marketing experience’, ‘project management’ or ‘leadership’ and then list your achievements accordingly. To find out whether a functional resume is right for you, and how to create one that helps you shine, read our recent article here.
  4. Don’t underestimate yourself: Focus on the great skills and experience you have, and think about any new skills you may have acquired during your break. Recruiters and employers value these skills, especially when they’re relevant to the role you’re applying for, so include them in your resume. For example, you might have developed new skills through activities such as: managing a large house renovation; contributing to local sporting clubs, committees and coaching teams; volunteering for your local community or charity organisations; assisting with local fundraising activities; and creating or managing side projects, such as events or a small business. All these activities require skills such as relationship building, communication, organisation and prioritisation, and often the ability to create something with little or no budget. These are all valuable skills in a workplace.
  5. Update your social media profiles: With more than 645 million members around the world, LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting yourself and seeking out potential employers. It’s also a widely used tool among recruiters and employers. As well as checking out applicants’ LinkedIn profiles, recruiters will often Google applicants’ names, so it’s a good idea to see what comes up when you search your name. In addition to creating a professional, SEO-optimised LinkedIn profile, make sure your personal digital footprint helps rather than hinders your application. You can read our previous article for tips on how to clean up your social media.
  6. Tap into your networks: You can often find opportunities to re-enter the workforce through your existing networks. One way to do this is to send an email to family, friends and former co-workers/managers and attach your resume. Let them know the type of position you are seeking and ask them if they’d mind forwarding on your details if they hear of any relevant positions. This may feel daunting, but most people like to help when they can. To grow your networks and open up more opportunities, you could also research and join local networking events and online groups.
  7. Consider part-time or temp work: If your job search is taking longer than expected, consider part-time work or find an agency that offers temporary or contract positions. Do an online search for agencies in your area and contact them to request an interview. If you get your foot in the door with the right company and prove yourself, you have a good chance of receiving a full-time offer down the track. Plus going part-time initially can be a good way to transition, giving you time to adjust.
  8. Consult a career coach: If you’re considering changing careers on your return to work, a career coach can help. Experienced career coaches have extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations and offer professional, independent advice on your options. They can help you build your confidence and give you the support you need to make the transition.

 

Re-entering the workforce after an extended break can be tough, but there are things you can do to make this change feel less daunting and more positive. Follow our tips above to take your first steps, and things will flow on from there.

Are you feeling daunted by the prospect of returning to work after taking time out?  Do you need help assessing your skills and experience, and presenting yourself in the best possible light to secure the job you want? Our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services might be just what you need.

 

Is a functional resume right for you?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is a functional resume right for youYou might think there’s only one way to structure your resume, but there are actually different ways to do it. And it’s important to choose the type that helps you put your best foot forward.

Functional resumes can be useful in several situations primarily where your recent employment history and achievements don’t directly relate to the role(s) you are applying for. It should still include the same kind of information as a traditional-style resume, but the way it’s formatted is different.

A functional resume focuses on your skills and expertise rather than the jobs you’ve held. It allows you to highlight certain elements of past roles, along with your relevant skills and accomplishments, rather than simply listing your experience in reverse-chronological order.

Should you use a functional resume?

We don’t often recommend using a functional resume since it’s not the standard style, and a recruiter might have a harder time making sense of it. However, a functional resume can be useful in some situations. These include when:

  • Your recent job history is not at all relevant to the roles you’re applying for.
  • You are making a major career change.
  • You have developed a vast range of transferrable skills throughout your work history, but no single role demonstrates that effectively.
  • You don’t have much work experience.
  • There are significant gaps in your work history.
  • You have held multiple, short, contract or part-time roles or you’ve frequently changed jobs.
  • You’ve gained experience in alternative ways, such as volunteering.

The reason functional resumes work well for these situations is that they highlight your transferrable and relevant skills more effectively.

It’s important to note that although a functional resume might be a better way of presenting your relevant experience, some recruiters believe this format can decrease your chances of securing an interview. Recruiters are notoriously short on time and often receive hundreds of applications for a single role. They will scan your resume for relevant information, and want to get a quick feel for whether or not to pursue you. So if you do go with a functional resume, be sure to follow our tips below.

How to write a functional resume that hits the mark

  • Summary: Include a career summary at the beginning that focuses on the value you would bring to the organisation. This should provide a quick overview of you no longer than two paragraphs with a mix of your professional expertise and success, academic/industry training and any relevant personal attributes.
  • Keywords: Include keywords from the job description in your resume. You could use these as your subheadings for key skills (see below).
  • Key skills: Identify your key skills/capabilities and group them logically. Use bulleted lists to describe them in more detail. Include job-related skills (this could include technical or computer software), transferrable skills (such as communication, leadership, negotiation), and personal skills (such as pro-activity in the way you work or the ability to collaborate/work as part of a team).
  • Key accomplishments: This will help the recruiter/employer identify how your abilities match with the job requirements. List them under your ‘key skills/capabilities’ so that each ‘skill’ includes some accomplishments that demonstrate success. For example:
    • Leadership
      • Built a high-performing sales-focused team of 20 from scratch – with responsibility for recruitment, training, coaching, mentoring and performance management.
      • Initiated a significant change program which improved employee culture, morale and retention (>50% on the previous year).
    • Projects: Remember to include any projects personal or professional that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Projects demonstrate your ability to develop and complete complex tasks. Try to use quantifiable measures or statistics to demonstrate outcomes.
    • Employment history: You should still list your jobs in reverse chronological order; however, you might do this in a simple bullet list under the heading ‘Employment History’. Include your title, company and tenure.

Functional resumes are great for showcasing your relevant/transferrable skills. They work best when they’re matched to the job you’re applying for, with your key points of difference clearly highlighted. You will need to talk about your employment history during the interview, so think about how you’ll present that. Including a strong cover letter is also a good idea, as it will allow you to expand on the skills and achievements that make you a great candidate.

 Whether you think you need a functional or traditional resume, a professional resume writer can help! If you’d like some help with your resume, please see our Resume Writing Services.

 

How to boost self-confidence at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to boost self-confidence at workWhile it is a generalisation, successful people are often fairly confident people – or can at least find self-confidence when they need it most. But there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and people who aren’t naturally self-confident sometimes struggle with this. Building self-confidence doesn’t have to mean a complete personality overhaul – you can take some small, simple steps to become more self-assured, and this may help you achieve increased career success.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Push yourself: Getting outside your comfort zone is key to improving self-confidence. If you feel you could do your job with your eyes closed, it might be time to stretch yourself. You could do that in your current role by offering to help on a project where you’ll build new skills, or do something outside of work that challenges you while building professional skills.
  2. Visualise success: Having a clear picture of what success means to you is important. Many experts will tell you that the first step to achieving a goal is to visualise yourself doing so. You could imagine yourself working in your dream job or behaving with more self-confidence in an area that’s important to you.
  3. Assess yourself: Take stock of where you’re at and what you have to offer. Write down your skills, qualifications, experience and successes, and how they relate to the role(s) you’d like to secure in the future. Writing down your accomplishments can immediately boost your self-confidence, because more often than not we underestimate ourselves.
  4. Fake it! We never advise clients to lie or mislead, but this tip relates to acting confident to help you overcome your fears. ‘Fake it till you make it’, as they say. Adopting a more positive ‘can-do’ attitude or taking on more responsibility even though it may seem daunting are likely to help build your self-confidence.
  5. Communicate: You need to be able to clearly and concisely articulate what you think and need. If you have concerns, voice them! If you need help, ask for it. If you feel you can talk to your manager about issues – great. If not, seek a trusted friend or colleague with whom you can share your frustrations. Being open and sharing what’s bothering you can help you feel more in control and give you more confidence to determine possible next steps.
  6. Learn to say ‘no’: There are times at work when you should say ‘no’. Unreasonable requests can make you feel out of control. Being assertive allows you to set limits for yourself without being seen as the bully. Learn to say ‘no’ where it is warranted, and you’ll likely feel more confident and in control.
  7. Seek help: Self-confident people often know what they can handle and they delegate the rest. If you’re feeling overworked, talk to your boss and figure out how the situation might be improved.
  8. Get a mentor: Mentors provide a safe space to bounce ideas around and decide which way to go in certain situations. They can also make suggestions to help refine your ideas or point out things you can’t see clearly. This includes successes and achievements that can boost your self-confidence.
  9. Learn new skills: One of the best ways to feel more self-confident is to up-skill. If you’re feeling out of touch with something, find an online course or even just watch a relevant YouTube video. If you take the time to gain the skills you need, you might just begin to feel more confident in yourself.
  10. Accept self-doubt: Even the most confident people sometimes doubt themselves – but they don’t let that self-doubt take control. When you have negative or unconstructive thoughts, acknowledge them but try to analyse if your concern is valid or an over-reaction. Getting someone else’s opinion here can help – the goal is to push past the doubt and move on.
  11. Dress for success: It might be a cliché, but appearances can help you get ahead. Making a little bit of effort with your appearance can go a long way to feeling more self-assured.
  12. Choose your friends wisely: Another well-worn cliché that again is true – choose to spend your time with people who make you feel good about yourself, including in the workplace where possible.
  13. Let go: Try not to dwell on the past or get caught up in what might have been. Instead of worrying about things you can no longer control, stay focused on the future.
  14. Forgive yourself: Beating yourself up about mistakes is not helpful. Self-confident people often learn from their mistakes and move on, knowing they won’t let it happen again.

If you feel like your self-confidence at work could do with a boost, start with small steps. You might like to try just two or three of our tips above to start – but do them consistently and hopefully you’ll see your self-confidence start to bloom.

Is your lack of self-confidence holding you back in your career? Find out how our experienced and compassionate Career Counsellors and Career Coaches can help.

9 tips to make your resume stand out

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 tips to make your resume stand outHave you been applying for jobs but not having much success in getting to that next crucial step – the interview? The problem may be that your resume doesn’t stand out. When you send your resume to a recruiter or potential employer, they most likely won’t read it – they will skim it. So if it doesn’t grab their attention in 10 to 15 seconds, it may be headed straight for the rejection pile.

Here are our tips to make sure your resume stands out in way to catch the recruiter’s attention.

  1. Start off with a short profile: This provides a quick snapshot of who you are. It needs to be sharp and concise. Include who you are, what you do, your area of expertise and your top three skills relevant to the role you’re applying for. It should be a maximum of two paragraphs (or a quarter of a page) and include keywords relevant to the role.
  2. Order key sections logically: To make your resume easy to read, your sections should be in a clear and logical order. For example: contact details, career profile, core capabilities or skills, professional history, education/qualifications and references. If you’re relatively new to the workforce, put your education section on the front page. If you have ample work experience, then education should follow your work history. Although qualifications are important, recruiters and employers often place a higher value on your work experience and accomplishments.
  3. Specify relevant industry skills: Make sure you list skills that are industry-specific and relevant to the job you’re applying for. You can research and use similar or related job adverts or descriptions to figure out some of the most important skills. If you have those skills, list them. Sometimes companies mention current projects on their website. Take note of these, and try to incorporate information that demonstrates how you could contribute towards the success of those projects.
  4. List achievements from past work experience: For every role, try to include two to three achievements relevant to the job you’re applying for. These should be achievements that had a positive impact on the company, rather than personal achievements – recruiters are keen to know what you can do for them. And if possible, make your achievements measurable. For example, ‘Reduced turnaround time by 20%’ or ‘Saved the company $XXX by implementing XYZ initiative’.
  5. Sell yourself: It’s human nature to play down our achievements. However, when it comes to our resume, we need to throw modesty away. One of the best ways to make your resume stand out is by showing your personality (in a way that’s appropriate for a professional document, of course). This is your opportunity to shout about all your impressive achievements.
  6. Other activities: Often candidates overlook this section of a resume, assuming it’s unimportant. However, to recruiters, this section can help show the type of person you are and make you a more interesting and memorable candidate. For example, you might include awards you’ve received, challenges overcome, other qualifications, professional memberships and major achievements outside of work.
  7. Personalise your approach: Find out the recruiter or hiring manager’s name and use it in your cover letter to add a personal touch. Another approach is to call the recruiter before submitting your application. This can help your application stand out by putting you at the front of the recruiter’s mind. If you do take this approach, be sure to present in a polished and professional manner over the phone.
  8. Make it appealing: Pay attention to the aesthetic of your resume. Structure, formatting, spelling and grammar are all very important. Look for consistency with things like line breaks, text alignment and bullet points. Use of subtle colour is fine, especially in the key section headings, but don’t go overboard.
  9. Include your LinkedIn profile or portfolio: As well as getting noticed, you also want to make life easier for the recruiter. If there’s a link they can click on to get a better idea of you as a person and candidate, why not include it? Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated and including the URL in your resume is great, as it means recruiters can keep up to date with you, even if they’re reviewing your resume months down the line.

Writing a resume that stands out among hundreds is no easy task. A well-written and formatted resume is key to securing the all-important interview. But before you can do that, you need to understand the value you have to offer and what’s most important to your potential employer. For more ideas on how to write a resume and what you should include, visit the Resume section of our Career Advice Blog.

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

How to answer: hypothetical interview questions

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer a hypothetical interview questionHypothetical interview questions put you in an imaginary situation and ask how you’d react. They are similar to role plays. Interviewers ask these types of questions to assess your problem-solving skills, how quickly you can think on your feet and how clearly you express yourself. Questions will often begin with “Imagine you are…” and are designed to assess your thought process rather than extract ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.

These questions also help recruiters put candidates on an even playing field, since the same hypothetical situation can be proposed and candidates’ answers can be assessed against each other.

How to prepare for a hypothetical

You might think it would be difficult to prepare for hypothetical questions, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Questions usually revolve around solving a work-related problem, so it can help to think about possible issues that could arise in the role you’re applying for. Depending on the role, the question might focus on:

  • Resolving a customer complaint or issue.
  • Addressing a case of employee theft or misconduct.
  • Getting to the bottom of employee conflict.
  • Missing an important deadline.
  • Dealing with an aggressive customer.
  • Working with team members who aren’t pulling their weight.
  • Being passed over for promotion or additional responsibility.

Once you’ve come up with some potential situations, the next step is to think about how you’d resolve them and why you’d take that approach. Drawing on past experience to describe a similar situation you’ve faced and how you reacted is a good way to respond. This shows the interviewer that you’ve ‘been there, done that’ and worked successfully in a similar scenario. You also shouldn’t be afraid to mention things you wouldn’t do.

Tips for answering a hypothetical question

  • Don’t feel pressured to rush your answer: Take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and resist the temptation to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. The interviewer is testing your problem-solving skills and wants to see reasoned thinking.
  • Clarify if you’re not sure: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need further explanation. Asking a question or two can also buy you a little thinking time.
  • Stay on point: Try not to ramble or go off on tangents. Tell your story in a structured way, with a beginning, middle and end. Come to the conclusion naturally with a clear description of your desired outcome or result.
  • Don’t think there is a definitive right answer: Discussing your approach – where you’d start, what you’d think about, who you’d talk to, what steps you’d take, etc. – is sometimes better than trying to provide an answer or resolution. The interviewer isn’t necessarily asking you to solve the problem for them – they want to know how you would approach it.
  • Use your own history: Consider preparing some examples focused on common skills such as problem solving, communication, people skills and customer service, as well as general challenges you’ve faced. When a question is posed, you may be able to draw on one of your prepared examples and adapt it to suit the hypothetical situation. You can then say “I actually faced a similar situation and was able to do XYZ.” Again, this shows that you have relevant experience.

It might seem impossible to prepare for hypothetical questions, but by analysing the job description, you can get a sense of what an interviewer might ask. What are the focus areas for the role? If it’s heavy on customer service, you might be asked how to resolve a complaint; if deadlines are important, you may need to explain how you’d handle a missed deadline; if you’re leading people, you might have to discuss handling a conflict. Take time to prepare some thoughts and examples, and boost your chances of success.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

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