Category Archives: Career Advice Blog

6 ways to clean up your social media

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 ways to clean up your social mediaWhile your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, the reality is that recruiters will explore your background more proactively through social media. That doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself and altering your online profile, but it does mean taking some steps to ensure it’s clean.

In a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond active applicants to fill a role. By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. That means it’s essential to ensure your online presence matches what you wish to convey.

This doesn’t mean being ambiguous or vague about who you are, it doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself, and it certainly doesn’t mean deleting all records of yourself online. Conversely, while it is important to maintain a clean online profile, a positive online footprint can be an important aspect in securing your dream role. We talk a lot about consistency of message and maintaining that across all your job search tools. This includes professional online tools like your website, blogs and LinkedIn profile – but it also applies to your person social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.

Below are some quick tips that apply across all social media. While some are more relevant to certain sites than others – all can be leveraged in one way or another to help clean up your profile.

  1. Update your photo: This is particularly necessary if it is more than a couple of years old. Always go for a clear head and shoulders shot – taken against a white or plain background and not a cropped image from a social situation.
  2. Update your summary, bio or ‘about me’ section: Make it interesting and relevant, highlighting the personal or business traits you want to emphasise – and ensure it’s up to date with your latest and greatest accomplishments and interests. For LinkedIn, your professional headline automatically defaults to your most recent (or current) job title. Change this to brand yourself while adding relevant keywords to your profile. Decide what you want to be known for and make this your professional headline. For more tips on creating a great bio, read our article ‘How to write a winning bio’.
  3. Check your settings: Take some time to understand the different security and privacy settings across different sites. For example, on certain settings LinkedIn notifies connections when you’ve updated your profile. If you don’t want your employer to know you’re working on your profile – check these settings. Likewise, with Facebook and other personal social media, check your settings to maintain some level of discretion – but don’t depend on it as your security blanket because it’s not foolproof.
  4. Claim your vanity URL: A vanity URL is a custom URL address that is specifically branded for marketing purposes. Many social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus offer this facility. It helps users remember how to find specific pages – which means it should be easy to remember, use, and share. Often your name will be gone to someone who claimed it earlier, so we always suggest trying the best combination of your actual name rather than non-descript letters and numbers (which is what the system usually generates). Each site will have its own specific instructions on how to change this so simply search the site’s help section for instructions.
  5. Check your posts: Looking at what you’re posting and commenting on with an objective eye is really important. Think about the impression you might be giving to a potential recruiter – and be mindful of unnecessarily alienating people due to controversial beliefs or posts. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust – preferably someone with different beliefs to you. Again it’s not about concealing who you are, but rather about being mindful of your public image.
  6. Clean up your friends lists and likes: For Facebook, this means unfollowing people or businesses that no longer interest you. Consider grouping individuals into the readymade ‘Acquaintances List’ which means they will show up less in your feeds. Review all your groups and leave if they are no longer relevant. In addition, consider ‘unliking’ pages that contain posts and/or conversations which could be seen as inappropriate. For other social media sites, a similar approach is needed – review groups, likes, follows etc. and clean them up as appropriate.

Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. On a positive note, recruiters use social media to search for aspects about an individual that may demonstrate good cultural fit. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.

Is your social media presenting the best version of you online? Would you like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile or bio that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors? If so please see our LinkedIn profile writing service or check out our job search coaching service.

How to write a winning bio

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to write a winning bioToday’s digital world demands on online brand that defines and differentiates you. Conveying your distinct brand through a well written personal bio is essential in today’s competitive market. But writing your own professional bio with the right ‘message’ while still sounding authentic can be hard.

Whether you work for yourself as a freelancer, you’re employed by a large multi-national, or you sit somewhere in between – having a winning bio that’s relevant and professional is essential. It’s important for inclusion on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter but it’s also what people will often see when they search for your name – so anyone with an online presence will benefit from one.

What is a bio?

A bio is basically your professional story or brand. The information provided is similar to what’s in your resume, but it’s more condensed, possibly less formal, sometimes with some personality thrown in, and often written in the third person. The purpose of a bio is to inform the reader who you are, what you do, and why you’d be of value to them. It needs to establish credibility and trust – and work hard to develop your own personal brand – which is an important concept to understand. For more information on developing your own personal brand, see the following articles: 5 tips to build your personal brand and How to build your personal brand, or search ‘personal brand’ on our blog.

When would you need a bio?

You might be wondering where you’d use a personal bio. There are many situations when you need one including:

  • As a summary on your LinkedIn profile (written in the first person)
  • As an introduction posted on your personal or company website or blog
  • As an inclusion in client proposals and quotations for credibility
  • Submitted to organisers for potential speaking spots or included in a conference agenda where you’re presenting
  • As an inclusion in a published article or document

What should be included in a bio?

This largely depends on where you’re going to use it. For example, LinkedIn has a character limit of 2000 which is pretty generous. If you’re writing a bio as a speaker for potential inclusion in a conference program, you might not be given as much space. I’d usually recommend having both a 1 page and ½ page bio and then adjust the content to suit different purposes. The information you’d start with (not all of which needs to be included in every situation) could include:

  • Your name and current position
  • Your recent and/or relevant experience
  • Your academic qualifications
  • Your credentials or other important information such as professional memberships
  • Any published work or previous presentations you’ve done
  • Any awards or other career honours you’ve received
  • Any interesting career achievements or anecdotes
  • A photo
  • Customer quotes/testimonials
  • Links to examples of your work
  • Your contact information

How do you write a bio?

As mentioned, there are many different format requirements, and usually you’ll be given a word or character limit. Typically, you would write it in the third person (or in the first person for your LinkedIn profile), in a conversational tone. Injecting an interesting, personal or unique piece of information will make people want to learn more about you. The bio shouldn’t be too long or wordy, and using short sentences and punchy paragraphs will make it easier to read. You could include links to more detail where relevant but be careful not to cram it with too much detail, and be sure to update it often. Don’t forget to save your different versions written for different purposes. Some may be longer and more formal, while others may be shorter and more conversational.

Do you need a bio for your work? Our professional writers can prepare a winning bio that will help you stand out from the crowd.  Contact us for more information.

 

Could healthcare be the career for you?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Could healthcare be the career for youHealthcare is currently one of the key sectors driving overall employment growth in Australia, with the industry recently recording a 19% year on year growth. Various roles are experiencing significant growth thanks to our ageing population, as well as the rise of chronic diseases which require on-going healthcare management and support.

With national new job ads consistently recording rises of more than 10% each month compared to the same time last year, some industries stand out more than others. In Australia, one of those sectors is community services and development – with aged and disability support roles a key occupation driving growth. The need for more workers in this area is being driven largely by Australia’s ageing population, but also by the country-wide roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which has positively impacted job ad growth in that area over the past two years.

With healthcare currently Australia’s biggest employer, and the Productivity Commission forecasting that Australia may need almost one million aged care workers by 2050 in order to meet the anticipated demand from ageing baby boomers, healthcare may be a great career to consider.

Whilst the demand for aged care nurses and workers is high, our rapidly ageing population will also drive demand for employment in other areas. Some of the most in-demand jobs will include:

  • Aged Care Nurses: Taking care of the medical and social needs of the elderly on a round-the-clock daily basis, an aged care nurse typically works in a nursing home, residential facility, hospital or through a home care service. These nurses ensure their patients’ final years are as comfortable as possible for both themselves and their families. As a job seeker, you could start as an assistant in nursing (AIN) which is also known as a personal care worker (PCW) and personal care attendant (PCA) after completing a TAFE or RTO qualification – usually a Certificate III or IV in aged care.
  • Clinical Nurses: Working alongside doctors, a clinical nurse is a registered nurse who is recognised as a senior staff member across all areas of practice but particularly in acute care. Clinical nurses care for patients throughout hospital wards with responsibility for administrating medication, comforting patients, and assisting medical staff to provide quality care. To work as a Clinical Nurse, you usually require postgraduate qualifications in nursing.
  • General Practitioners: Commonly known as a GP, general practitioners perform a very important role in medicine, and are often the first point of contact a patient has with the healthcare system. There is currently a high demand for GPs, particularly in rural and regional areas. In Australia, there are multiple pathways into general practice. The most common pathway is through the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) which includes four to six years at a university medical school, a minimum of 12 months’ hospital training, and completion of GP registrar training and exams (usually three to four years).
  • Physiotherapists: Physiotherapists are highly qualified health professionals who work in partnership with their patients to assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders. They also help older patients to repair damage, reduce stiffness and pain, increase mobility, manage chronic pain, and improve quality of life. To become a physiotherapist, you will need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy or a five-year double degree. Once graduated, some people choose to specialise in a particular field which involves further postgraduate study.
  • Social Workers: Social Workers assess the social needs of individuals, families and groups, assist and empower people to develop and use the skills and resources needed to resolve social and other problems, and further human wellbeing and human rights, social justice and social development. To become a social worker, a four-year bachelor’s degree or higher is usually required.

If you’re thinking about a career in healthcare, there are many specialist healthcare recruiters. These sites are a great place to start your research and learn more about different job opportunities.

Here are some examples of sites:

Are you thinking about a career in healthcare? Would you like career counselling to help you decide on a new career path or course? If so, please see our career coaching services.

 

How to manage failure at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to manage failure at workYou’re about to miss an important project deadline so what do you do? You could bury your head in the sand, make up an elaborate excuse, or lie to cover your tracks – we definitely wouldn’t recommend that approach. But there’s no need to panic either. It’s important to own up to your lapse and offer a solution to the problem.

There’s a saying that the most successful people in business are the ones who’ve failed the most. It makes sense that the more you try and fail, the more you will succeed. If you never put yourself in a position to fail by trying new and innovative approaches, chances are you won’t fail – but you won’t achieve any outstanding success either.

Here’s our tips to manage failure in your work:

  • Take responsibility: Whether it’s a client, a colleague, your boss or a partner that your oversight will affect, it’s important to own up to what’s happened as quickly as possible. As soon as you identify that you’ve messed up or you’re going to miss a deadline, make sure to advise everyone who is affected. This way you can quickly put some plans in place to mitigate potential damage as much as possible and come up with a plan to address the issue. When you take responsibility for a mistake, those involved will be able to trust you to address the issue and/or prevent future damage.
  • Consider the best way to deliver the news: Depending on what the consequences of your oversight are, this will dictate how your news should be delivered. If it’s a one off and the project doesn’t have broader business impact, it might be appropriate to send an email. Anything affecting a client, revenue, or larger piece of work might be better delivered via phone or in person. Gauge the situation and seriousness of the impact, then decide on your best course of action.
  • Offer a solution: Provide information to all the involved parties on what you plan to do to address the issue. Make sure you include everyone who will be affected and provide detailed information regarding the steps you will take to ensure the project gets back on track, or the ways in which you’ll address the issue.
  • Set a new deadline: Identify and provide timelines and deadline dates of when you will be able to provide a remedy. Make sure it’s realistic and give yourself enough time to resolve – perhaps with a little leeway that might enable you to over-achieve your target this time. Under promise and over deliver is a much better approach – particularly when you’re in this position in the first place. You really don’t want to have to go back and ask for another extension so consider this stage carefully.
  • Promise it won’t happen again: Accepting responsibility and conceiving a solution for the problem is the first step. Making assurances that you won’t let it happen again is vital. If it’s the first time you’ve erred, then the person on the receiving end should understand – but if it’s an ongoing issue, they might not be so easygoing. Likewise, saying it won’t happen again is fine, but backing that up with strong reasons as to why it won’t happen again is also important.

Let’s face it, this is never going to be a great situation to be in. The affected parties may be annoyed, upset, and/or angry but that’s to be expected. You’d probably feel the same way. Assuming this isn’t a common occurrence, and you’ve taken responsibility to ensure it’s fixed as quickly as possible, you should soon be forgiven. Take a deep breath and move on.

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

5 ways to turn negative feedback into career positives

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 ways to turn negative feedback into career positivesThere aren’t many people who are lucky enough to have been untouched by negative feedback or criticism in their career. Most people, even senior leaders and managers (often even more so), will have to deal with some kind of negative feedback in the workplace. The key to coping is to use it as a positive career boost.

We’ve identified several ways to use that criticism to help progress your career:

  1. Don’t take it personally: Instead of viewing the feedback as your boss or client reprimanding you, take it for what it is. Receiving criticism about your work is never easy, but it will be easier to handle if you digest it in a disconnected way. Of course it’s perfectly natural to feel upset or unduly attacked in the first instance, but try to put those emotions to one side and not react defensively. Don’t dwell on the negative or beat yourself up about what happened. Instead take some time to think about the issue with a clear head and use the feedback to come up with ways you might be able to do things differently in the future. If you need to, ask for some time to process the information, and come back at a later date to discuss it.
  2. Ask questions: In order to show professionalism and maturity, ask questions about the feedback – display a genuine interest in getting to the bottom of the problem. Remain calm and listen to what the person providing the feedback is saying so you can ensure it doesn’t happen again.
  3. Own it: It’s important to own up to any honest oversight or mistake you’ve made. But owning up or apologising isn’t enough – you need to follow the apology with a solution. Once you’ve received the feedback and analysed the issue from different directions – make an effort to come up with a solution to address the issue in a way that helps you move forward. Ideally you want a concrete plan that shows you’ve thought everything out to ensure no repeat episode in the future.
  4. Recognise the need for improvement: Often, negative feedback is tough to take because in your heart you know it’s true. Recognise where you need to make improvements and show you can take negative feedback well by thanking the person for their insights. Acknowledging your mistakes and challenging yourself to prevent it from happening again is the best way forward. Identify weaknesses that might have contributed such as time mangement, communication, computer skills, relationship management etc. and take steps to address those shortcomings.
  5. Move on: Once you’ve made a concerted effort to fix the issue or put strategies for improvement into place, it’s time put the negative feedback in the past, learn your lesson, and move on. Remaining resentful or angry about the situation will prevent you from growing professionally.

No one is immune from workplace criticism – even the most senior business person will probably have to deal with criticism from clients or staff at some stage in their career. We advise you to take the feedback seriously but not personally. Try not to wallow in the negativity; understand what’s led to the negative feedback; and take steps to move towards a concrete plan that will help you address the feedback and progress your career.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors and resume writers are experts in their field and provide comprehensive Career Counselling and Resume Writing services.

How to be a great job seeker

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to be a great job seekerAs a job seeker, it’s important to think about the recruiter and what they’re looking for. Addressing all the requirements of the role in your application, and being prepared to discuss why you’re an ideal fit for the role during the interview are obvious drivers for success. But what are some of the other ways you can ensure you’re a winner?

Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, and energy. To ensure success, you need a plan. Of course you need a polished application – a revamped resume and customised cover letter as well as a strong LinkedIn profile. But what about a structured job search strategy? Here’s our tips on what you need to do today to ensure success:

  1. Ensure consistency: You literally have seconds to catch a recruiter’s attention. If you don’t do that very quickly, you might never get a second chance. Even after you’ve gained their attention, you have to hold it long enough to be selected as a viable candidate. If your digital profile doesn’t match what you’re saying in your job application, you might lose the battle. Make sure you clean everything up so that you maintain consistency with dates, titles, formatting etc. across all mediums. Recruiters don’t want to be confused, and they don’t want to be left wondering.
  2. Stay motivated: Learning to handle rejection is an important part of the job search process and learning how to not let it get you down is even more important. At the end of the day, it can be a numbers game – so try not to let it get you down – instead focus on the future, don’t get disheartened, and just keep moving forward.
  3. Seek assistance: Search your target role on popular job sites and identify common recruiters. Add the sites to your favourites folder and make a note of individual consultants, HR and/or recruitment managers. Try to gain introductions, either via LinkedIn or in person – and reach out to ask for help. Often, these types of requests can lead to opportunities – if not, you haven’t lost anything but a little time!
  4. Know your elevator pitch: Finding a job is a sales process. You are the product with features, benefits, referrals, and great potential. In this process, it’s extremely important you have a great ‘elevator pitch’. This is a story (short, sharp and punchy) that positions you and the value you provide. Think about it this way – what if you found yourself in a lift with the hiring manager of the job you always dreamed of? Do you have a 30 second pitch on how you’re the perfect fit for the job? Great job seekers know their elevator pitch, and how to customise it depending on the person they are talking to.
  5. Build your online presence: There are many ways to do this including LinkedIn, writing a blog, developing a personal website, creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work, however as a minimum, most job seekers should have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a current, professional photo. Fill out as many sections as you can as this will provide a comprehensive view of you, as well as creating additional opportunities to connect with others.
  6. Activate your networks: Many roles are never advertised so this is an important part of your job search strategy. Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face-to-face meetings etc. Join relevant professional associations and networking groups, and attend seminars and connect with people in your industry. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their careers page and follow them on social media.
  7. Check your social media: First impressions count with most employers these days reviewing candidate’s social media pages as part of the screening process. Make sure your privacy settings are appropriate, clean up any inappropriate content, and check and edit pictures where necessary.
  8. Take your time to apply: This may seem counter-intuitive – especially if it’s your dream role. But, the worst thing you can do is submit an application without proper preparation. Taking time to research the company and people who work there, and asking for advice can be invaluable in ensuring your application gets read. You could start by calling the contact person listed on the job ad and ask them what key things they’re looking for in an application. You might be surprised at what they say and at the very least you’ll have a leg up on other candidates who didn’t take the time to do this.
  9. Prepare for the interview: One of the biggest mistakes we see is candidates focusing on landing the interview, but not thinking too much beyond that. To prepare for your interview you could brainstorm common questions, practise your answers, research the company, prepare some relevant questions of your own, plan what you will wear, and practise listening without interrupting – so you can respond more effectively to every question you get asked.
  10. Stay in touch: Once you’ve identified relevant recruiters and companies, make sure you follow them up at regular intervals and stay in touch.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex. Be prepared for the process to take considerably longer than you’re expecting. For higher paying roles it can take 6 – 12 months before you achieve success. There are many different avenues to leverage within the job search process so being organised will help.

Would you like to become a more successful job seeker? Perhaps you need assistance with writing a winning resume, creating a job search strategy, updating your LinkedIn profile or improving your interview skills? If so, please see our Resume and Cover Letter writing, Job Search Coaching, LinkedIn profile writing and Interview Training services.

How to adapt in our changing digital world

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to adapt in our changing digital worldRecent research conducted by Manpower indicates we are in the middle of a ‘skills revolution’, both in Australia and around the world. With digital transformation happening within most organisations, and technology evolving rapidly, the types of skills employees need are ever-changing. So what will the most in-demand skills be and how do you ensure you have them?

With the necessary skills changing at a rapidly increasing pace, most employers are reporting that they cannot find the talent they need. The people in demand are those that seek to continuously learn and adapt.

A recent Manpower survey asked 20,000 employers across 42 countries (with more than 1,500 participating companies from Australia) about the likely impact of automation on their headcount, the functions that will be most affected, and the human skills they value the most. The results indicate that automation is mostly a good thing for employees (as long as you have the right skills). While many companies agree that no one is immune from digitisation as more and more industries shift to advanced, automated processes, most employers expect their companies to grow rather than shrink – and the need for additional people – especially those with good IT skills to drive transformation – is real.

Labour market predictions often talk about the long-term extremes where technology will erode jobs – with robots replacing roles and even the threat of a world without work. However, this recent research indicates a different future, while providing a real-time view of the impact of automation on the workforce in the digital age – now and in the near-term. It shows which functions within companies are set to grow or contract. And it provides insight on the value of soft skills – or human strengths – that are in demand by employers but that are challenging to find.

The most in-demand individuals have a blend of human strengths with technical and digital know-how. 8 out of 10 companies say communication skills, written and verbal, is their most valued soft skill. We’ve identified several other skills we think will be important for individuals to succeed.

  1. Complex problem-solving skills – with increasingly complex problems that include incomplete, contradictory or ever-evolving requirements, threats and trends – people who can solve problems with viable solutions will be in demand.
  2. Critical thinking – this can be defined as the objective analysis of facts to form a judgement. Often the subject is complex and requires analysis or evaluation of vast amounts of information. In today’s ‘information age’, data is present everywhere – with companies collecting huge amounts of data about everything their customers do on a day-to-day basis. Being able to leverage and effectively utilise this data for competitive advantage is a key skill to possess.
  3. Creativity and innovation – competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done doesn’t cut it. Having the ability to think outside the box to achieve success is a top skill to possess.
  4. Collaboration – working well with others and appreciating the input from different team members is essential in today’s work environment. Human interaction in the workplace will become more and more important as computers and robots take over certain tasks. Being able to work together to leverage individual’s strengths while being aware of weaknesses and adapting to address these will be important.
  5. Leadership – regardless of how much an organisation and its day-to-day operations become ‘automated’, employees will remain at the heart. Being able to develop strong relationships with employees and successfully lead teams is important. Listening carefully to understand concerns; identifying ways you can help them become more efficient, effective and enthusiastic; and developing and maintaining strong ongoing professional relationships is key. Good leaders consistently provide support and show their team they are there for them. It is more vital than ever for future leaders to know how to motivate teams, maximise productivity and respond quickly and effectively to needs.
  6. Service orientation – digitisation, technological advancements, and increasing competition means customers will be picky – and rightly so. Customers can choose who to do business with and they can change that decision as often as they like. It’s no longer as difficult as it once might have been to switch suppliers or move to a different brand. People who make customer experience a priority, anticipating customer needs, and designing products and solutions to meet those needs, will be in demand.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear that we need to develop new skills if we’re going to keep pace with change. Employers will begin to rely more and more on people with the desire and ability to develop new skills. Employability today is becoming less about what you already know and more about your capacity to learn.

Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your career? If so, please see our list of services.

Can a recruiter ask you that?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Can a recruiter ask you thatCertain topics of conversation are no-go zones during the hiring process, but there are many questions recruiters can ask in an interview that may surprise some candidates. In Australia, we have laws that make it unlawful for employers to ask job applicants specific discriminatory questions. There are situations, however, when you might be asked a question you’re not expecting that is perfectly legitimate.

In Australia we are protected by strong anti-discrimination laws at both a federal and state level. For example, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of a number of protected attributes including age, disability, race, gender, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation. However, on the flip-side there are many attributes that are not protected by law and some of the questions that recruiters are legally able to ask may surprise you:

  • Do you smoke? Legally, a potential employer can ask you if you smoke since it’s not a protected attribute. Whether or not that employer discriminates against you based on your answer is a grey area but the question in itself is legal.
  • Where do you live? Again, this is not a protected attribute. Employers want to know this for many reasons – primarily if your commute is too long and they feel you may not be reliable or that you will get tired of the travel time and leave after a short period. I had a client who lived in a regional area around 60 minutes from the Gold Coast where she was seeking work as a travelling sales rep. She was comfortable with the commute, but was knocked back six times for roles due to the distance. The travel time wasn’t an issue for her since she’d previously lived in Sydney and was used to long commutes, but for Gold Coast natives it was too long.
  • Do you have any medical problems? Whilst employers need to be careful here, asking questions about your health or requesting a pre-employment medical check is within their rights. While the question might be okay, it must be asked in relation to any potential health risks associated with the job or the industry, and your ability to effectively perform the job. E.g. If you had an existing issue with your back that would prevent you from lifting boxes or performing some other physical requirement of a role.
  • How old are you? Age is usually irrelevant, and it is unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their age (because it’s a protected attribute). However, where age relates to a specific job requirement, such as serving alcohol, then the question becomes a legitimate and legal one.
  • Do you have the right to work in Australia? We know that discrimination based on race or ethnicity is most certainly unlawful in Australia, however employers are able to ask you to prove your right to work in Australia. This means they can ask whether you are an Australian citizen or you have an appropriate work visa. In addition, there are certain examples where race might be a genuine occupational requirement – for example where specific local or cultural knowledge is required – particularly in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Do you have a criminal record? Whilst it is okay to ask this, and it’s also okay for a recruiter to make a job offer conditional upon a candidate obtaining a satisfactory criminal history check, refusing to provide it is not unlawful. In addition, there are limitations as to how the potential employer can use the information. In some states, it is unlawful to discriminate against a job applicant based on the fact that they have a criminal record – providing it is not relevant to their ability to perform the job. For example, if you’re working with people, a conviction relating to violence may be relevant, whereas a theft conviction might not. You also have no obligation to reveal spent convictions (which means you’ve fulfilled the 10 year waiting period from the date of conviction).
  • Do you have any tattoos or piercings? While tattoos and body piercings have certainly become more mainstream in recent years, with some employers relaxing their standards regarding visible tattoos and piercings, many employers still have policies that require employees to totally cover or remove them. The fact is there are no current laws that prohibit discrimination against people with visible tattoos, body piercings, unnatural hair colours, or unique hairstyles or other physical attributes. While it may seem unfair to be discriminated against for this reason, appearances still count and it most certainly could occur.

Job interviews can make even the most prepared candidates uncomfortable. If you’re feeling intimidated before your interview, understand that this is not uncommon. Doing some research on the company, being prepared about why you want the role, and having some answers ready that you can draw upon will help you feel confident. Understanding how to answer tricky questions if they’re asked is a great strategy to help you feel better prepared.

If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview and advice on how to maintain positive body language, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

Attention grabbing tips for your next cover letter

Article by Belinda Fuller

Attention grabbing copy for your next cover letterWe’ve long held the belief that the cover letter is one of the most important parts of your application. It’s the best way for you to grab the attention of the recruiter, introduce yourself, showcase what you offer, and highlight why you’d be a great hire. But with research showing you have just seconds to make an impression, you’ve got to get it right!

A cover letter provides the best way to introduce yourself to a recruiter. You need to convey who you are, what you have to offer, and why you want the job – but many experts believe you have just 20-30 seconds to do so. This is the time it takes an experienced recruiter to scan your application in enough detail to make a decision about whether or not to read further. In a crowded job market, recruiters notice ‘stand-out’ applications. This means it must be attention grabbing – easy to read with information that identifies you as an ideal candidate. Here are our tips to ensure your next cover letter stands out:

  • Tailor the content – while many candidates believe they can take a standard approach with their cover letter, this is not usually the case. Take notice of what the company is looking for by studying the job ad and/or position description. Customise your content to suit the role, cross-matching your applicable skills, experiences and qualifications to ensure everything you mention is highly relevant to the role.
  • Show passion for the job and/or the industry you’re applying for. Anything that demonstrates a love for what you do or for what the company stands for will grab the recruiter’s attention.
  • Talk about your love for the company – companies want to hire people who already know and love their brand. Ideally you want to incorporate some unique piece of company information into your letter – this could be a piece of current industry or company news and your opinion on it (so long as it’s not controversial or negative of course). It’s also perfectly okay to flatter. You could tell a short story about what attracted you to the company. Have you been a fan of the brand since you were a child? Has the product improved some aspect of your life? Have you dreamed of working there since XYZ? Stories bring everything to life – but keep them short, sharp and succinct – no one wants to read an essay.
  • Emulate the company’s ‘voice’ – take note of industry buzzwords and specific language in the job ad and use them throughout your letter. By mirroring the same language in your letter, you can demonstrate you understand the company’s environment, industry and culture.
  • Highlight successes – but make sure they’re relevant – the reality of the job search process is that it’s competitive. For most roles applied for, you’ll be competing with many other applicants. Usually, several of these applicants will be just as capable and/or qualified as you. A great way to grab attention is to highlight successes that demonstrate why you’d be an asset in the role. Focus on short stories that convey what you’ve done which have strong relevance to the new role. I like to list out the job requirements or repeat the bullet points that appear under ‘What you’ll need to succeed’ in the job ad – then provide short statements about what you bring for each one. If your background is extensive, start culling – only include examples that you think will interest the recruiter – those that showcase your skills, experience and accomplishments that directly relate to the role you’re applying for.
  • Inject personality – or add some humour. This is a great way to make a recruiter smile, and therefore give you a better chance that they’ll remember you. Showing you bring the right experience and skillset to the role, as well as some personality is important – but be careful about trying to be too funny, informal, sassy, or quirky.
  • Make it visually appealing – your cover letter should match your resume, with the same header, font and style. Use a modern template with a classic font and no clutter – something that looks professional and clean. Always save your documents to PDF format so there are no formatting issues when the recruiter opens it.
  • Quantify examples – if you can, use numbers, percentages or specific results to demonstrate successful outcomes. Try not to make generalised statements about what you can do or have done – back these up with concrete examples.

Remember, it takes many recruiters just 20-30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so. Make your application stand out by showing you’ve done your research! Talk about the company, the role, your love of everything about the industry – and highlight why you’d be an asset. Taking the time to really understand the role and explaining exactly why you want it will impress most recruiters.

If you would like assistance with writing an attention grabbing cover letter, please see our Customised Cover Letter and Resume Writing Services.

How to return to full-time work after a break

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to return to full-time work after a breakWhether you’ve had time off to raise a family, study, take a sabbatical, work for yourself, recover from an illness, or take an opportunity to work part-time – returning to full-time work can be a shock to the system! It’s not just the need to get out the door each morning and turn up to work, it’s the routine and ‘work’ mentality that you have to get on top of.

It’s a huge shift and returning to full-time work after a break – no matter what the reason – can be difficult. Take some time to prepare, settle in to your new workplace, and go easy on yourself because you’ll soon be feeling at ease. Our tips for success include:

  • Organise your personal life: You’ll have less time for yourself than you’ve had previously, so try to ensure your personal life is as organised as possible. Think about when you can run errands that you’ve previously done during the day, make sure you have reliable child care arrangements if they’re needed, maintain your exercise or gym routine, plan your work outfits, organise your lunches, pack your bag the night before, and try to organise evening meals ahead of time to avoid feeling overwhelmed and out of control.
  • Understand what’s expected: When you work for yourself, you might be used to doing everything. Be careful about being too keen to do this when you return to work. Not only could you offend someone by ‘doing their job’ but you could also be diverting your energy away from the areas you’re expected to be focused on. You were hired for a reason, so learn exactly where you fit and the value you’re going to add – this will be essential for your success.
  • Find a friend: It’s important to have someone who can help you understand the law of the land. This isn’t about company rules, regulations, policies and procedures, but more about the company culture, general office politics and etiquette which can often take time to learn. It’s great if you can find someone helpful whose advice you can seek from time to time. Be careful not to overwhelm this person with requests or take up too much of their time.
  • Get clear on communication: Organisations and individuals have broad ranging expectations regarding communications and it’s important you adapt to the existing behaviours early on. Work out what people do to communicate regarding different issues. Do people mostly communicate face to face, on conference calls, or via email? What’s the culture with walking up to people’s desks and nutting out a problem there and then? Does your supervisor expect constant updates on every detail, or just a heads up on major projects or issues?
  • Keep your goal in mind: Whether you’ve returned to work for a steady pay check and regular benefits, to learn new skills, or be a part of a collaborative team again, it’s important not to lose sight of those reasons. Some days you’ll be thinking you can’t continue with the full-time grind and related commute, so on these occasions, remember your goal and why you returned to full-time work in the first place.
  • Embrace change: Sometimes doing things the way you’ve always done them will not serve you best in the future. In your new workplace, there are sure to be things that are done in ways that you may not necessarily agree with or be comfortable with. Embrace the change and you might be surprised.
  • Build your reputation: As a newbie, you’ll need to build your credibility before trying to change the world. Work on developing good relationships with your boss, colleagues and direct reports. Take some time to get to know people, offer assistance to others where appropriate, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and try not to be overly critical of the way things are done.

Successfully managing the change from part-time, home-based or no work, to working full-time again can be a huge challenge. By going easy on yourself to take the time needed to settle yourself into your new routine, find your place in your new role, and build new relationships, you’ll be off to a great start.

Are you looking to transition back to full-time work? Would you be interested in obtaining some career counselling to help you decide on what steps to take? If so, please see our career consulting services.