9 tips for avoiding job burnout

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 tips for avoiding job burnoutMost of us feel stressed about our job from time to time, but what happens when we feel stressed all the time? If you’re feeling overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism and detachment from your job, and a sense of ineffectiveness / lack of accomplishment, you could be experiencing burnout. The long-term impact on your physical and mental health from job burnout can be serious. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon in its International Classification of Diseases. While doctors need to be careful to rule out adjustment disorder, anxiety and other mood-related disorders, the classification may help highlight the need for work-life balance for workers.

Leaving the job that’s causing the problem might seem like the obvious solution, but that may not be the answer. It might not even be viable since you need financial security, energy and drive to secure a new job. Plus, many experts believe that the burnout will simply follow you to the next role.

The best approach, therefore, is to avoid burnout in the first place. Here are our top tips.

Tip 1: Work with purpose – This isn’t just a warm and fuzzy idea. When we have a purpose to our work other than simply earning money to live, it can help avoid burnout. Look at the deeper impact of what you do every day and ask yourself: Does the work you do make a difference to your company? How does your work impact other people? Do you feel a sense of satisfaction? How could you add more meaning to what you do every day? If you think you might be in the wrong role, you could talk to a career consultant to help you find your ideal career.

Tip 2: Complete a job analysis – When we feel overwhelmed by work on a daily basis, it can be difficult just to ‘catch up’. To clarify where you’re spending time while understanding exactly what’s expected of you, it helps to analyse your job requirements and track your time for a few days. You can then work towards eliminating or delegating tasks that aren’t contributing to desired outcomes.

If you feel like you have too much work to handle, discuss it with your boss. Come prepared with details about your workload and why you believe it’s unrealistic, as well as ideas about how to address the issue.

Tip 3: Establish working hours – It’s often easier said than done, but setting boundaries for yourself and others is important. If you work from home, walk away from your office space at a set time each day. If you work in an office, try not to take work home unnecessarily. Leave work at a set time to spend planned time with family or friends. For many people, it takes a personal emergency for them to reschedule something important at work. Turn that around and give your personal time the same respect – try not to ‘reschedule’ it unless absolutely necessary.

Tip 4: Switch off – Any device that’s keeping you connected to work should be turned off outside of work hours as much as possible. If you’re spending time with your family or partner, this is especially important. We need uninterrupted time to focus on personal relationships. Even if you just switch off for an hour or during a meal, try to do it every day. Turning off technology allows us to focus on our relationships, which goes a long way towards preventing burnout.

Tip 5: Take time out – Make sure you take your annual leave each year, try not to work weekends and include some ‘me time’ every day (more on this in our next tip). At a minimum you should schedule two weeks off each year. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged you so you can be more productive – and less stressed – when you return to work.

Tip 6: Schedule something enjoyable every day – This could involve exercise, a lunchtime walk or coffee catch-up with a friend or colleague, gardening or cooking. It could simply be going to bed 30 minutes earlier to read a book or spending some quiet time doing nothing. It’s easy to find enjoyable things to do that aren’t expensive or time-consuming, and it will make a difference to your stress levels.

Tip 7: Exercise regularly – Exercise is a well-known stress reliever and it helps increase energy and productivity at work. That said, when you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be hard to find the time to fit it in, let alone the motivation to start. Try getting up a little earlier, exercising during your lunch break or involving co-workers in your physical activity. Read our previous article for tips for a more active workday.

Tip 8: Learn stress management techniques – Most of us experience short-term stress at work and that’s normal. But when it’s prolonged or not managed well, it can contribute significantly to burnout. If you’re prone to stress, learning how to manage it is key. Strategies might include deep breathing, meditation, relaxation, getting more sleep and exercise – but just changing the way you think or react to certain situations also helps. The power of positive thinking! Talking to someone about how you feel might also help alleviate stress.

Tip 9: Take back control – You don’t need to be available for work all the time and you aren’t obliged to say ‘yes’ to everything. Learn to say ‘no’ sometimes and take back some control.

If you’ve been in the same job or industry for several years, it’s common to feel a lack of energy or motivation. But job burnout is different. It’s also preventable. So don’t wait until you reach that point – start taking steps today to manage your stress levels and protect your health and well being.

Are you unhappy in your job? Are you counting down the days to the weekend and ready for a change? Our Career Counselling and Career Coaching Service can help. Find out more.

How to take control of your job search and get results

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to take control of your job search and get resultsWhen you’re hunting for a job, there are so many factors outside of your control that it can make the process feel stressful and overwhelming. But there are plenty of factors you can manage too. So if you’ve been searching without much success, it could be time to take control! Here are six ways you can do it.

  1. Get some perspective – It’s tough out there. Being turned down numerous times can be discouraging. But sometimes we get caught in a negative mindset when things aren’t actually as bad as we think. Try bringing a fresh perspective to your job search. Recognise that it’s a process that takes time and commitment, and set some realistic expectations about the work involved. Give yourself a decent period of concerted effort before you even think about feeling disheartened.
  2. Be over-prepared – You can’t control your competition but you can control your own performance. That means presenting an application that responds to all the requirements of the role, and being as prepared as possible in an interview. Get clear on what you offer and where your strengths lie, and be prepared to talk confidently about yourself and your achievements. Make an effort to understand the company and/or the industry to understand and articulate how you might be able to solve a challenge or contribute to the company’s success.
  3. Be clear about your value – Recruiters are time-poor so make it easy for them to see your value. Review the job ad and ensure your application ‘matches’ what they are searching for. Sometimes companies rely on an applicant tracking system to filter applications. Other times, a less experienced team member might complete a first review. This means you need to be very specific about your experience and capabilities, using keywords such as exact titles and important words and phrases used in the job ad.
  4. Demonstrate success – Past performance is a clear indicator of future success. Detail previous accomplishments to show employers what you might be capable of in a new role. This is important in your application (including your cover letter, resume and any selection criteria response), but also in an interview. Come armed with stories about your successes that you think the employer will relate to and that align with the organisation’s goals.
  5. Access the hidden job market – Many jobs are never advertised; instead they’re found on what we call the ‘hidden job market’. Word of mouth is your way in, so get networking with people in your industry, connect with appropriate recruiters, join relevant LinkedIn Groups and keep building and using your LinkedIn profile. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer, then set up meetings with potential recruiters or introducers to discuss opportunities. Think about companies you’d like to work for, then read their online careers page and follow them on social media. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many ways to connect with your network so use them all: phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, professional association seminars, and in-person and online networking groups.
  6. Be realistic – Be honest about what you can realistically offer a new employer. It’s tempting to apply for more senior or challenging roles, which is great (it’s important to expand our potential!), but make sure that what you’re applying for is attainable. If you’re not hearing back from companies you’ve applied to, put yourself in the employer’s position. What do you look like on paper? You may believe you have what it takes, but if you can’t demonstrate that, you might lose out to another candidate who already has the relevant experience.

Today’s job market is competitive and the job search process can feel daunting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve success. If you’ve been feeling discouraged about your job search, it might be time to take back control!

 A customised job search strategy and a tailored, professionally prepared application can make a huge difference to your job search. Need some help? Take a look at our Job Search Coaching Services and Resume Writing Services.

 

Busted: common recruitment myths

Article by Belinda Fuller

In a crowded job market, it can be difficult to stand out. This is particularly true if you believe some of the common recruitment myths. Read on for a list of the myths we hear most often, so you can rethink your application approach and give yourself a better chance for success.

MYTH: You should apply for as many jobs as possible

FACT: While broadening your horizons is often a good thing, we believe quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the jobs you go for. Applying for some well-chosen roles and tailoring your application to ensure you hit the mark for each one will most likely give you better results in the long run.

MYTH: You won’t get the job without experience

FACT: There are many exceptions to this, so don’t let that belief hold you back. If you demonstrate the right attitude and transferable skills, you may have a shot. Think about existing skills and achievements that make you an asset. Network with people you’d like to work for or with and attend relevant industry events. Companies really value cultural fit these days so show the employer what you have to offer, using passion and commitment to make up for your lack of experience.

MYTH: Your resume needs a unique design

FACT: This can actually be a hindrance. In most cases, an elaborate or unusual design isn’t a good idea since it can detract from your message and make it harder for a recruiter to find what they’re looking for. (The exception may be if you’re in a creative industry). The content you include is more important than design, although it must look professional, of course. It’s best to stick with a clean, simple style with a conventional layout. Aim for a contemporary design that attracts the recruiter’s eye without overwhelming or polarising.

MYTH: Your resume must be no more than one or two pages

FACT: Keeping your resume too short can mean you don’t effectively showcase your capabilities. We recommend three to five pages depending on your role, industry and seniority unless otherwise specified in the job ad. Some countries such as the US and Canada prefer shorter resumes so make sure you adjust the length accordingly.

MYTH: You shouldn’t apply for a job unless you meet all the requirements

FACT: We often recommend to clients that they apply for jobs where they meet at least 80% of the requirements. Only applying for roles where you have all of the experience and qualifications stated may limit your chances for growth and development. Plus an employer isn’t necessarily looking for someone who’s done the exact same role before – rather, they want someone who they believe can do a great job now and into the future.

MYTH: You don’t need a cover letter

FACT: You usually have a very short amount of time to grab the recruiter’s attention (some recruiters say 20–30 seconds). A cover letter provides a great opportunity to customise your content to the role and show why you think you’re the ideal candidate, to help your application stand out. It allows you to share information about yourself (as it relates to the role) that you can’t include in your resume. A tailored cover letter also shows the recruiter you’re serious about the role.

MYTH: Working with one or two specialist agencies is the best approach

FACT: Many of our clients tell us they’re working with a great recruiter who specialises in their industry and will find them a suitable role. But recruiters work for employers and they’re usually hired exclusively for a role. As a candidate, you need exposure to more employers, which means you should be working with as many recruiters as possible. This also means doing a lot of legwork yourself. Sign up to job boards, research companies you’d like to work with and network with people in the industry to make sure you know about the jobs on offer.

MYTH: You should include a photo on your resume

FACT: You should only do this if you’re a model or an actor. The initial decision about your suitability for an interview is based on your capabilities, experience and accomplishments, not what you look like. Including a photo on your resume can also make it look a little dated, as this is an out-of-date practice. However, you should always include a photo on your LinkedIn profile (make sure it’s a professional-looking head shot). Want to learn more about how to supercharge your LinkedIn profile? Read our top four tips here.

MYTH: Your resume should include your entire work history

FACT: We generally recommend going back 10 years, and beyond that, including some background or summary information if relevant. So long as your recent career history is relevant to the role you’re applying for, we recommend limiting your content to that.

There are many factors involved in securing a new role and if you’re finding it tough, you’re not alone. Have any of the common recruitment myths above been holding you back? If so, you might need to change your approach – and you could just find it opens up new possibilities.

Are you confused about the recruitment process and feeling disheartened? Our professional writers can help you prepare a winning resume, cover letter or job application. See our Resume Writing Services to learn more.

Move more: tips for a more active workday

Article by Belinda Fuller

More more tips for a more active workdayThese days, experts recommend we take at least 10,000 steps a day, and some have deemed sitting ‘the new smoking’. But what can we do if we’re in a mostly sedentary job that involves sitting in front of a computer all day? You don’t need to fit in a hard-core workout every day of the week – and for most of us this just isn’t possible – but a few small tricks and routine changes can make all the difference.

Here are some easy tips for incorporating more movement into your workday.

Tip 1: Change your commute – Run, walk or ride to work, even part of the way if all the way isn’t a realistic option. It’s a great way to get some exercise into your regular day. If you catch public transport, try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, park a little further away. It might mean setting your alarm a bit earlier, but the small amount of lost sleep is worth it.

Tip 2: Stand up – Research shows you use more muscles and burn more calories standing up than sitting down, so look for opportunities to get out of your chair whenever you can. It doesn’t need to be all day: incorporating just some periods of standing while working is beneficial. Try standing up every time you complete certain tasks – for example, while you’re talking on the phone, when people visit for a chat or when you’re reading something. You could also try a standing desk, or improvise with a high table or counter if your workplace doesn’t offer them.

Tip 3: Talk and walk – We often have to sit through meetings that stretch on longer than necessary. Research shows that walking or standing meetings can be a great way to increase efficiency. For smaller groups or one-on-ones, a walking meeting can allow you to get things done while being more active. The change of scenery may also encourage creativity.

Tip 4: Get up regularly – Take your smallest water bottle to work or use a glass, then aim to drink a certain amount of water every day. Getting up to fill your bottle or glass 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 it’s a great mental boost.

Tip 5: Take the long way – When you need to leave your desk, don’t take any shortcuts – pick the longest route to get you where you’re going. It might not seem like much, but every step counts. If you can, use the bathroom on another floor, take the stairs rather than the lift, and when filling that water bottle, pick the water cooler that’s furthest away.

Tip 6: Track your steps – Activity trackers can be a great incentive to get moving. If you’ve never worn one before, try it and you may be shocked at how few steps you actually take each day unless you make the effort. Wearing a tracker (or using the step tracker on your smartphone) and incorporating even small amounts of walking – such as around the building or the block a few times a day – can go a long way to helping you meet your daily goals. Aim to increase your steps or distance a little each week.

Tip 7: Visit colleagues – How many times a day do you email someone with a question or request then wait for their response? If they’re in the same office as you, walk to their desk and resolve the issue on the spot. Not only is the movement good but the social interaction is also beneficial for your mental wellbeing.

Tip 8: Stretch – Stand up every 30 minutes or so, stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the effects of sitting hunched over a desk. You could take a stretch band to work and do some simple exercises. Even interlacing your fingers behind your back and stretching out your chest is helpful.

Tip 9: Don’t wait idly – Turn any waiting time into a movement opportunity. If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, or waiting at the coffee machine, photocopier or even the bathroom, do some exercises like lunges, squats or calf raises – or simply take a quick walk.

Tip 10: Take a lunch break – Instead of eating at your desk, it’s important to take a proper break. This helps boost productivity and creativity, while also providing a good opportunity to move. Take a walk outside for part of your lunch break. Even better, grab some co-workers and do a class or workout at the gym, go for a run or climb some stairs.

Tip 11: Schedule mini-breaks – In addition to your lunch break, schedule a few extra breaks throughout the day and use them to get away from your desk. If you find that you forget to move when you’re immersed in work, set a regular alarm to remind you to get up. If possible walk up some stairs or get outside, even just for five minutes. Again, the physical benefits are obvious but the mental benefits are also huge.

Tip 12: Involve others – Involving co-workers in your physical activity, whether formal or informal, is great motivation. You could organise a small office challenge such as tracking steps to see who can do the most in a day. Or you could suggest training for an upcoming fun run or charity walk together, organise a lunchtime walking group or set a group alarm to stand up each hour to stretch. It’s easier to be more active if you do it as a group – the support makes it more fun and social, and the accountability keeps you motivated.

Many of us can’t avoid spending hours sitting in front of a computer, but our health suffers. Try to incorporate some (or all!) of our tips into your workday and we know you’ll experience great physical and mental health benefits.

Is it time to get a little more active in your career advancement or job search too? 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.

How to decide if a career change is the best move

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to decide if a career change is the best move Gone are the days of lifetime jobs and gold watches on retirement. Research shows that today’s teens may have up to seven careers in their lifetime, and the impacts of digital transformation mean some jobs today will be obsolete tomorrow. If you’re considering a career change, but you’re not sure where to start, our step-by-step guide will help you on your way.

Step 1: Know your purpose

Ask yourself why you want to change careers. Is it really your career you need to change or is it your current role? Think about all the things that satisfy and motivate you, make a list of your core strengths and weaknesses, and determine your likes and dislikes in your current environment. We often work with clients who are great at what they do and in a job that should be a good fit for them, but the organisation is not right.

This step is important because it will help you ensure you address the right issue before embarking on a complete career change. Perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment could make you happier than a complete change? If there are certain aspects of your current role you dislike, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with different responsibilities.

Step 2: Leverage your strengths

Once you’ve decided you want to change careers, go back to your list of ‘likes’ and ‘strengths’, combine that with your current skills, experience and education and think about how you could transfer these assets to a different career. Look outside your current role, industry, and/or company to determine what work might suit you better.

Research different careers using online resources – take a look at our Useful Career Resources and Tools for ideas – and identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed.

Step 3: Get support

The next step is to involve some trusted people – career experts, family, friends and work colleagues – to help you identify and clarify your new direction. You could consider taking a career assessment to better understand your interests and personality, which can help you identify and/or narrow down new career choices.

A career coach can also help you identify the careers that best suit you. Many people who use our Career Coaching Services have no idea where they want to take their career, but through personalised career coaching they discover new possibilities and pathways. You could also talk to people involved in your area of interest – they may be able to introduce you to potential employers, provide valuable support in making the change or at least offer a view on their own experiences.

Step 4: Do your research

You may have a lot to consider before deciding if and when to make a change. Financial, family and study considerations are key. And remember that many careers look great to an outsider, but the reality of the day-to-day job isn’t so interesting. Find ways to experience the job you’re considering before you have to commit, such as taking up a relevant hobby or investigating opportunities for volunteer work.

Step 5: Look to the future

When you’ve decided on a career change, it’s important not to dwell on the years spent in in your current career. These weren’t ‘wasted’. Many people who have spent time working towards a certain career or role are reluctant to throw it all in, but if that career is no longer right for you, focus instead on the years you have ahead of you and the career happiness that may be possible.

Changing careers can be very rewarding, but requires courage and conviction. It may also involve lots of hard work – especially if you need to do additional training or study. Taking an honest look at why you want to change careers and what you hope to achieve is a great first step to ensuring a successful transition.

Would you like help deciding whether or not to change careers? See our Career Counselling Services to find out how our career experts can support your success.

7 job application mistakes to avoid

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 job application mistakes to avoid When you’ve spotted a great job and you’re preparing your job application, it can be tempting to rush it. You want to get it in quickly and it can all feel a bit tedious. But since your application is your first (and sometimes only) chance to show why you’re suitable for the role, it’s important to pay attention.

If you’re applying for roles and not hearing back from recruiters, you might be making some of these common job application mistakes. So what do you need to avoid?

Mistake 1: Typos ­– Spellcheck and proofread all your application material meticulously. Spelling and grammatical errors are still a primary reason applicants are rejected, and it’s a mistake that’s easy to avoid. For any online responses, we suggest writing your response in Microsoft Word or Google Docs first, then copying it over once you’re happy. Feel free to use the spellchecker but make sure you also read everything multiple times to correct any incorrect autocorrects! Plus, your spellchecker won’t pick up on everything. Ideally, you should also have someone else read through your materials.

Mistake 2: Ignoring selection criteria requirements – Not addressing the criteria is a key mistake, but reordering them or not adhering to page, word or character limits are also big no-no’s. Don’t be tempted to rewrite or re-order specified criteria. Respond to it exactly as it appears in the job description, address the points they’re looking for and take careful note of page and word limits. You can provide other relevant ‘value add’ information in your resume and/or cover letter.

Mistake 3: Too much information – We regularly receive resumes from clients that are 10 or more pages long. No recruiter will read that much detail so determine what’s most important and cut the rest. Aim for a maximum of 3–5 pages. Use short, sharp paragraphs (5–6 lines) and plenty of white space. Break it up into clearly defined sections using subheadings and bullet points, and if you’ve held multiple (similar) jobs in the one company, consider grouping them rather than giving each one a new heading.

Mistake 4: Incorrect document file format – ­ Make sure you follow any instructions about the document file format to use; for example, some job ads ask you to submit a PDF or MS Word document only. Many recruiters can’t open documents saved in Pages for Mac or other open-source or less-common formats. We recommend sending your document in MS Word format if the ad doesn’t specify.

Mistake 5: Not personalising your cover letter – Taking time to address your letter correctly can make a difference. If there is a name listed in the job ad, do a quick LinkedIn search to find out their correct job title and look at the company’s website to find their address. If no name is provided, add in the company’s address and attention the letter to the Recruitment Manager.

Mistake 6: Not customising your application – It’s important to tweak the content of both your cover letter and resume to suit the job requirements. Clients often ask us to write a ‘general’ resume or cover letter they can use for a range of different roles. By taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you miss an important opportunity to show why you’re ideal for the role and you may end up appealing to no one. If other applicants have highlighted more specific and relevant experience and skills, there’s a good chance they’ll be selected for an interview over you.

Mistake 7: Excluding contact details – If a recruiter likes what they see, they may want to call you immediately for a quick telephone screen or to organise an interview. Make it easy for them by including your email and mobile number in a prominent place on all application materials. And ensure your voicemail greeting is professional and friendly. (Read more about why your voicemail greeting may be hindering your chances of getting an interview.)

Many job applications contain mistakes – make yours stand out by eliminating any errors. Check, double check and triple check your application and ensure your content is clear, concise and relevant to the role you’re applying for.

Are you failing to get results from your job applications and feeling frustrated? Our professional writers can help you prepare a winning resume or job application. See our Resume Writing Services to learn more.

How to answer: “What interests you about this role?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer: “What interests you about this role?” The latest instalment in our ‘How to answer’ series looks at the question “What interests you about this role?” This very general question can seem tricky to answer – exactly what should you focus on? Often it’s another way for the recruiter to ask “Why should we hire you?”. It’s not enough to simply say “I’m a great fit for the role”. Instead, your answer needs to touch on your relevant abilities, skills and experiences as well as demonstrate your interest in the company. It’s an opportunity to show why you’re ideal for the job and why you’re excited about it.

You should ideally frame your answer in a way that shows enthusiasm (for the role and the company) and understanding (of the role, the company and how you can add value). It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a strong answer prepared. When considering your response, we recommend you focus on three key areas: the job, the company and how you fit. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about these areas and what your answer might sound like.

The job

  • Talk about your priorities and preferences – identify three key things you really like about the role.
  • Discuss areas of the role in which you excel and support those with examples using the STAR technique. These examples should demonstrate your accomplishments and success in the context of the role you’re applying for.
  • Mention the opportunities the role offers to further develop special knowledge or skills.

Example: This role really interests me because I’d be responsible for X, Y and Z. In my current role, I manage X and Y, and I’ve excelled at providing X to various internal and external stakeholders. I’m keen to continue building on that success while also developing specialist expertise in the area of Z.

The company

  • Mention the company’s reputation or history of success (if relevant) or discuss a recent innovation.
  • Demonstrate an understanding or appreciation of the work culture (based on what you’ve learnt through friends, colleagues, media etc.).
  • Talk about a problem or issue that you know needs to be addressed (and your interest in supporting or participating in that process).

Example: I also value the company’s long history of success in the market and recent innovations that are seeing significant market share gains. I heard about the issue with distribution of ABC – I faced a similar problem in my last role, which we solved by rethinking the customer experience. I’d love to be able to contribute to something similar again.

Your fit

  • Compare the job description with your experience, and explain how you’ll be able to contribute, again using examples from your past to demonstrate success.
  • Discuss your fit with company culture.
  • Mention your interest in career progression (if relevant).
  • Talk about any experience you have with the company (for example, that you use their products or services).

Example: My previous experience and success would help me to achieve some quick wins in certain areas, including XXX. I’m also excited at the prospect of learning more about XXX. The company’s mission aligns with my own professional values and I believe I’d be a great fit culturally. I loved what I read in the recent article by the CEO about the initiatives the company is undertaking to ensure ongoing enhancement to culture and employee engagement.

As with all interview questions, remember to answer the “What interests you about this role?” question strategically and with enthusiasm. Give the recruiter something to think about – a point of differentiation from the next candidate. Work out a response that includes something about the role you’re going for, the company and your suitability, and you’ll come off looking great.

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.

 

How to create your best ever job application

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to create your best ever job applicationWhat’s the best way to stand out during the application process and get yourself an interview? In today’s job market, it’s common for recruiters to receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so there has to be something special about yours. Here’s how to give yourself the best chance of success.

Customising your job application to suit the specific requirements of a role is one of the most effective things you can do to secure an interview. When we talk about a ‘job application’, we’re referring to a collection of documents: your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and response to any selection criteria or specific questions.

While you might think it’s too hard or time consuming to customise this content every time, we encourage you to look at your application from the recruiter’s perspective and ask yourself ‘What’s in it for them?’ Your application should immediately present you as someone who can add significant value in the role. If it doesn’t do that, you’re not giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

Follow these steps to create your best ever job application.

Step 1. Research: Read the job ad carefully. If possible, obtain a more detailed job description from the recruiter and identify exactly what’s required. Highlight skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If you know the company, view their website and search for any news or recent activity that may impact on the job. And take some time to understand the corporate culture. Emulating the kind of language the company uses and/or writing just one sentence in your cover letter referencing a current challenge or opportunity for the company could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.

Step 2. Sell yourself: If you don’t show the recruiter you have what they’re looking for, you probably won’t succeed. This process is simple once you know their pain points (i.e. problems) because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important, so make sure your documents address as many of the role requirements as possible. Use previous successes and achievements to show how you’ve added value in the past.

We recommend including a strong, carefully crafted career profile as the first section of your resume that gives a snapshot of your skills and experience. This also applies to your LinkedIn profile summary – you can tailor that section to cover off the key skills and attributes required in the role you’re applying for. In LinkedIn it’s not necessary to do this for every role, but if there is a role you’re applying for that involves new, different or unique skills that aren’t covered in your profile, you should incorporate them.

Selling yourself throughout your job history is also important. Within each role listed on your resume, provide examples of projects, successes and accomplishments where you added value.

A cover letter provides another important place to ‘sell yourself’ and is a great opportunity to customise content to the specific role and clearly state why you think you’re the ideal candidate.

Step 3. Use keywords: Once you know the top attributes a recruiter is looking for in a candidate, you can create a customised checklist of key capabilities. Your resume should already contain a section highlighting your key skills or capabilities. To tailor this section, check the job ad for important keywords and incorporate those into your list, and re-order your list so the most important/relevant skills come first. You can go one step further by rewording those points to suit the role.

Again, this applies to LinkedIn too – check you’ve covered off the main areas within your ‘Skills and Endorsements’ section. Writing a customised cover letter also allows you to use keywords – and it’s one of the best ways to make your application stand out. Research has shown that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. If a recruiter receives a large number of applications, having a cover letter that highlights key skills, experience and achievements that are highly relevant to the role you’re applying for will help you get noticed.

Step 4. Tweak your experience: For certain people, getting strategic about how they present their experience in their resume is a good idea. But we only recommend doing that in the following cases:

1) When recent experience is not relevant. You can reorder roles to prioritise relevant experience from your earlier work history. Simply create a new section called ‘Relevant Employment History’, then move your most recent and other irrelevant roles to a later section called ‘Other Employment History’. This ensures the recruiter sees your relevant experience first but the section title will make it clear why that experience is not recent.

2) When you have 15+ years’ experience. We usually recommend going back 10–15 years in your resume – so long as that job history provides a good picture of your experience in the context of the role you’re applying for. Any more than that will unnecessarily date you, while also potentially providing too much information for the recruiter to read. Think of your resume as a concise sales tool rather than a lengthy list of everything you’ve ever done. However, be guided by the job ad – if it says you need 20 years’ experience then include it.

3) When you’ve been out of work for some time. We generally don’t recommend including hobbies or other interests in your resume (you can list anything relevant on LinkedIn), but if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while – or you’re new to it – you could include experience outside of full-time work. Think about things you’ve done that highlight your suitability for the role, such as freelance, consulting or volunteer work. List them in a similar way to your other jobs, with the role, organisation, dates and description of what you did.

If you’re serious about landing a great job, preparing a customised application for every role you apply for is something you should make time for. While it might seem tedious, the reward outweighs the effort. Be selective about the roles you apply for and create an application that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Would you like help preparing a top-quality job application or LinkedIn profile that helps you secure your dream job? Our experienced writers can help you create a professional resume, customised cover letter and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice. To find out more, read about our Services.

4 tips to supercharge your LinkedIn profile

Article by Belinda Fuller

The world’s largest professional networking platform is constantly evolving and has become a critical part of any successful career plan. These days, many employers use LinkedIn to find the right candidates. Whether you’re searching for a new role, developing your career while in a stable position, or working for yourself as a consultant or business owner, using LinkedIn effectively can give you an edge.

If you already have a LinkedIn profile, there are several ways to update it to improve your overall presence. Many of these tips are very quick to implement but could make a huge difference to your profile and presence. Here’s how to optimise your profile and help give your career a boost.

Tip 1: Boost your visibility by optimising for SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) involves using keywords and other techniques to optimise online content to improve its search ranking. When ranking profiles in a search, LinkedIn considers several factors, including how often a keyword appears. With more and more recruiters using LinkedIn to source candidates by conducting keyword searches, having a keyword-optimised profile will help you rank higher.

We recommend first identifying keywords that recruiters may search to find candidates like you. Use these throughout your profile in as many sections as possible. For example, in the ‘Skills and Endorsements’ section, prioritise skills that already exist in LinkedIn’s database by starting to type a skill, then selecting one of the relevant suggestions that appears. List up to 50 skills and change the order by dragging them up and down. Using up all the character limits in various sections may also help improve your profile’s ranking.

Tip 2: Understand and articulate your value

Your ‘Headline’ and ‘Summary’ are high-visibility sections that allow you to communicate your value as a professional and what you have to offer. These sections also contribute to your ranking. Your headline automatically defaults to your most recent (or current) job title, but this might not capture the value you could provide in a future role, so it’s best to create a customised headline. Change it by clicking the ‘edit’ button next to the headline.

You should also avoid simply replicating the content in your resume. LinkedIn is a form of social media, so we recommend injecting some personality (while remaining professional, of course). The best place to do that is your summary. Create a clear picture of you and your ‘personal brand’, state what you’re passionate about, showcase your success and highlight what makes you stand out as a candidate. Write it in a way that’s warm and conversational – not too formal or stuffy.

Tip 3: Look to the future

An exact description of your past experience may not be reflective of where you’re wanting to head. We often talk to clients about using LinkedIn to create impact and interest for the job you’d like in the future – not necessarily for the job you have right now. This is especially true when crafting your headline and summary, but also when detailing your employment history.

Rather than simply listing your title, responsibilities and achievements, use up the available 2,000 characters to add keywords to improve your rankings (as discussed in Tip 1). Include transferrable skills and talk about experiences and successes in a way that highlights your potential for the types of roles you’re hoping to secure in the future.

Tip 4: Add value and engage

One of the great things about LinkedIn is the ability to share content. This includes sharing content such as articles that are relevant and valuable to your network, as well as adding links to projects you’ve worked on or successes you’ve had. Since each profile edit and update you make can get broadcast to your entire network (check your settings to enable this), you’ll constantly be top of mind.

When sharing content, you can either create your own or share other people’s content. Think about things like videos, presentations, publications and articles, and use them as opportunities to interact with others and have conversations. Ask questions and answer questions. Increase engagement with your network and you should start to see positive results.

If you’re using LinkedIn to find a new role or build your career, updating your profile will increase your chances of success. Stand out from other professionals by highlighting the value you offer. Optimise your profile to increase your rankings, inject some personality, look to the future and engage with your network. At the end of the day, it’s a social media network – the more active you are, the more you’ll get out of it. 

If you’d like help developing a professional, keyword-optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and helps you stand out from the crowd, take a look at our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.

How to create a portable career

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to create a portable careerA portable career is one that you can take anywhere in the world and still be able to do your job. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to work from wherever we choose. With the right approach, a portable career can give you freedom while still allowing you to achieve your aspirations. Are you in search of more flexibility? Here’s how to build a portable career.

Opportunities for a portable career today are seemingly endless. Most people choose a portable career so they can have more flexibility and freedom – the ability to work whenever and wherever they want. If your current profession is not easily portable but you’d still like to experience the freedom to live elsewhere or travel for extended periods, there are options. Here are our tips for getting started:

  • Understand your motivations: Knowing your underlying reasons can help you determine if this is the right decision. If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money, it’s probably not the right decision. Creating a flexible, and possibly transient, lifestyle while not having to answer to anyone is a great long-term goal, but it’s rarely realistic in the short term. If what you really want is to ‘escape’ your current job, you might be better off looking for an alternative role you’re happier with for now, while working towards longer-term portable career goals.
  • Know your options: While many portable careers are held by people working as independent contractors or freelancers, there are organisations that welcome remote workers. In fact, some companies don’t even have physical office spaces but operate with a completely virtual workforce. If you want freedom and flexibility, but with some structure, this could be an option.
  • Explore your passions: There are many people who make money by doing what they love. Can you create something based on your interests that others would want? This might include a website or content that could lead to passive income through ads paid for by third parties, affiliate links or writing (and selling) e-books on your chosen topic. If you have an area of interest, chances are other people have the same passion. You could also create packaged services, both physical and online, or coach or consult in your area of expertise.
  • Learn to say yes: As you start out, it might be necessary to compromise. In many careers you can’t just pack up, move and expect to find work. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, for example, may need to undertake further training in order to work in other locations. This may not be viable, so you’ll need to think of other lines of work. If you’re a native English speaker, you could teach English as a second language in a foreign country. You could create a passion-based career (as discussed above), you could teach others what you know or love, or you could learn something completely new!
  • Create a compelling offer: You might be looking to use your knowledge to help others. If you think you have expertise that clients will pay for, decide what you will offer and create a brand that sets you apart from your competition. Clearly articulate your offer and what makes it unique. It might be important at this point to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist sometimes limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects.
  • Grow your network: Networks are necessary for any career, but they’re particularly important when you’re building a portable career. They can open up many new opportunities. For portability, you’ll need to ensure your networks are geographically diverse so you can leverage your contacts wherever you are. Here are some ways you can do that:
    1. Build a solid LinkedIn profile full of good-quality content that’s been optimised for search engines. Include a photo and as much ‘additional’ information as you can.
    2. Join professional associations with global memberships so you can connect with likeminded members while contributing to and benefiting from the knowledge base.
    3. Volunteer – either in person or online to build meaningful connections.
    4. Join online forums and groups and participate in chats and conversations to share your expertise.

Building a portable career that gives you the freedom and flexibility to work anywhere can be very rewarding. It might take some hard work to set up – but for many people it’s worth it.

If you’re ready to rethink your career and find a job that suits you better, one of our expert Career Coaches can help. To find out more, read about our services.

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