Category Archives: Career Advice Blog

How to handle rejection

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to handle rejectionLearning how to handle rejection while job hunting is tough. You need commitment, effort and persistence to ensure success in today’s job market. With multiple avenues available to search for, apply and secure your role, not to mention the competition, it can be complex. As hard as it is, it’s an important part of the job search process and one you need to learn to manage.

Even though we are experiencing a fairly buoyant job market at the moment, our evidence from talking with clients on a daily basis suggests it can take at least six months, sometimes longer, to secure a new role. If you’re sending out application after application only to receive rejection letters (or worse, nothing), it’s easy to get disheartened.

Rejection is a normal part of the job-hunting process and will help you to learn, grow and move one step closer to the perfect role. Until you get there, here are some tips for keeping your spirits up during the search.

  • Don’t take it personally: It’s easy to take rejection personally. But remember there are usually a variety of factors that recruiters consider when making their decisions. In addition, there are often upwards of 100 applicants for a single role. It might just be a case of how well you stacked up against the other applicants on that occasion as opposed to your overall suitability for the role.
  • Don’t get bogged down: Negativity is pervasive and once you start those thoughts, it can be hard to get rid of them. Move on from any rejections or disappointments quickly and treat every application as a fresh new opportunity. Maintaining your positivity and enthusiasm will also help you perform better when you do land an interview.
  • Treat it like a job: Looking for a job is hard work! We suggest clients try to complete some job search tasks every day – whether that be networking with old colleagues, searching for jobs to apply for, talking to recruitment agencies, polishing your resume, or practising for an interview – do something constructive every day but make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.
  • Remember some things are not meant to be: No matter how perfect a job might seem at the time, I’m a big believer that if you don’t get it, then it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s often only in retrospect that we can clearly see that failure or rejection can make way for the best opportunity yet.
  • Don’t settle for second best: Stay focused – the longer you look, the more tedious the process can become. After a long period applying for jobs with few positive results, it can be tempting to lower our expectations and settle on anything, especially if you are keen to leave your current role. Remember that lowering your expectations is not the best approach for your career in the longer term, and you may just be right back where you’re at now in no time at all. Employers value signs of passion and determination, so reflect this in your application, even if you lack the experience.
  • Focus on your strengths: It’s important to be able to clearly and concisely articulate your value and the accomplishments you have made in an appealing way. If you have a good understanding of the areas you need to excel in to achieve the type of role you’re looking for, this process will be easier. Even though you didn’t get the job you thought was perfect – your skills and qualities will be perfectly suited to another company and position – it’s just a matter of talking about them with enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Improve your approach: If you’ve been at it for a while, take some time out to assess your progress. Are your resume, cover letter and application documents tailored for each role? Are the roles you’re applying for truly a good fit? Have you done any networking? What can you improve? Whether its rewriting your resume and cover letter, putting some time into your LinkedIn profile, or practising your interview skills – find ways to improve what you’re currently doing. If you’re applying for government roles, make sure you address the required selection criteria specifically how they’ve requested. The selection criteria process has evolved significantly over the past few years, so the approach you may have used previously might not be relevant now. For tips, refer to our previous articles on responding to selection criteria. For other improvement tips, see our articles on resume writing, LinkedIn, and interviews.
  • Ask for feedback: If you didn’t get the job following an interview, ask for some feedback. Many recruiters are happy to provide this. The reason why you didn’t get the job is often not what you think. This feedback can be used to assist in perfecting your next application or interview.
  • Learn new skills: If there are gaps in your skill set, think about taking a short course or volunteering for extra responsibilities in your current role. There are plenty of short (often free) courses available online that can fill a gap – some worth looking into are: Lynda, Alison, and MOOC.

In a competitive job market, landing an interview is a huge achievement. 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. Acknowledge what you did well and understand some things are out of your control. Learn from every experience, then try to let it go and move on to the next application.

If you would like help in searching for your next role, please see our Job Search Coaching, Interview Training & Coaching, or Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.

The future of work – will robots replace us all?

Article by Belinda Fuller

The future of work - will robots replace us all?

Digital technology has already reinvented the way people work but there’s more to come amidst a constantly changing technology landscape. As individual tasks increasingly become automated, jobs are being redefined and re-categorised but will robots eventually replace us? Or will we reach a point where people and machines work alongside each other?

With the concept of work changing at this ever-increasing pace and more individual tasks becoming automated through machines, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, jobs are being redefined. Some experts predict we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution with changes marked by mind boggling advances in digital, physical and biological technologies set to revolutionise our future.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear we need to develop new skills to keep pace with the change. Much of the research conducted on this topic suggests that robots won’t (and can’t) replace us altogether (at least not in our lifetimes). With many jobs lost to automation replaced by new ones, jobs aren’t being replaced at the rate some predicted several years ago. In fact, research commissioned by technology company Infosys and presented at the World Economic Forum last year revealed that 72% of workers whose jobs are effected by AI will be redeployed within the same area of their organisation (34%) or retrained for another area (38%).

What the research shows is that robotics and/or AI are being used to automate routine and mundane tasks, resulting in large scale reclassification of work. However, the resulting value of that automation means people are freed up to focus on higher value work that can only be done (at the moment) with human imagination. While new jobs are being created by AI, particularly in the field of robotics, it’s impossible to predict exactly where jobs will emerge and what skills will be needed.

Digital technology has already completely reinvented the way we work, however while many industries have activities with potential for complete automation, many do not. In addition, other factors will influence whether tasks will be automated completely or partially. These include the technical feasibility, costs involved, scarcity or abundance of existing skills to do the work, the costs of workers who would otherwise do the work, benefits beyond labour cost savings (such as improved performance), and regulatory and/or social acceptance considerations. We do know that workers involved in areas requiring more creative and imaginative skills will remain in demand. Examples include jobs where you need to: manage others and/or interact with stakeholders; apply expertise to make decisions or plan, create or innovate; complete physical work and operation of machinery in unpredictable environments; and many areas of healthcare and social assistance.

Skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, empathy, innovation and creativity, collaboration, leadership and a service focus are becoming more important. The ability for workers to be adaptable in developing new skills, and be willing and able to work along-side automation or machines will become more important. The flexibility to move to other areas will drive future success and this will largely fall to the individual to acquire these new skills or retrain in new areas.

If you are looking to advance your career, you may have already identified the areas you need to gain more experience; or the knowledge you need to develop in order to progress. With the future set to bring such staggering change and advancements – think about what areas you could develop more relevant skills in.

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

How to stand out as a great candidate in seconds

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to stand out as a great candidate in secondsThe ability to spot a great candidate in seconds is how recruiters succeed in their competitive and fast-paced market. They need the skills that allow them to scan resumes and applications quickly while not missing any important details. As a candidate, it’s important that you effectively stand out. So how can you optimise your application to ensure success?

In order to stand out in a crowded job market, you’ll need to ensure your application content is short, sharp and compelling. It needs to sell you and your unique skill set as a viable candidate for the role you are applying for. We often liken resumes to sales proposals on YOU! So what really matters?

  • Format: First impressions do count, so use a format that’s appealing. If your resume looks good, it says a lot about you as a candidate. It conveys professionalism and strong attention to detail. Some colour is OK although we don’t recommend including a photo (unless you’re a model or actor). Take notice of spelling, grammar and edit the content to suit the role – ensuring language used matches the industry or job you’re applying for and the company and contact names are correct. Address your cover letter properly including the person’s title and the company address and make sure to change any factual references to the job or company if you’re using a template. Save it as a PDF to ensure it appears in a consistent way – and name it <first name> <last name> Resume. That way, recruiters can quickly and easily identify you and your relevant material.
  • Structure: Place information in a logical sequence, concentrating on the most important first. We recommend a clear and concise summary up front highlighting briefly who you are and what you have to offer. Skip the career objective unless you’re a recent school leaver since employers are more interested in what you’re going to do for them. Ensure your contact information is displayed clearly at the top or bottom of your resume’s first page, and include links to professional networks, personal URLs or samples of work showcasing your accomplishments. You can include two to four referees, otherwise it is perfectly acceptable to simply state ‘References available upon request’. Use clear (bolded) headings to differentiate sections but steer clear of underline (unless you’re including a publications list) which can make your resume look cluttered.
  • Key Capabilities: A section highlighting key capabilities as they relate to the role you are applying for should also be near the top (after the career profile). These should be re-ordered for each role you apply for – ensuring they reflect what the recruiter is looking for. Try not to use generic statements like ‘Strong communication skills’ but rather provide some context around how you apply these skills. E.g. ‘Strong communication skills with extensive experience writing content for internal and external publications, websites, and sales collateral’.
  • Achievements: Clearly identify your value by focusing on how your employer benefited by you doing what you did. It’s important to do this for each role – not just as a summary section but demonstrating how you contributed in each of your previous roles. This highlights to a potential employer how they might benefit by recruiting you. Where you can, quantify your accomplishments by including numbers, percentages or clear improvement results. Estimates are OK to include if you don’t have specifics, however be prepared to back these up in an interview if asked.
  • Consistency: Display job history in reverse chronological order starting with your current or most recent role. Include months and years for start and finish dates. Same for education, qualifications and personal development – list these with the most recent first and include the year you completed it and where (institution or training provider) it was done. It’s OK to have gaps in your employment, but always explain them so the recruiter is not left wondering. For any extended periods of unemployment, you could include relevant volunteer work or how you maintained current knowledge of your industry during that period.

Memorable resumes build an immediate connection with maximum impact – clearly and concisely conveying to the recruiter how you could be a great candidate for the role.

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


Is it time for a career change?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is it time for a career changeThe new year is often time for change in many areas of our lives. It’s when we take time to reflect on the past, instigate some new habits and set goals! It’s also a time when many people consider changing jobs or careers. If you’ve already begun the process, good for you! Now give yourself some time to ensure success.

Changing jobs is a big deal, but if you’re looking for a bigger career change, this can be an even bigger decision for many people. If you’ve made that decision already – congratulations! You owe it to yourself to ensure you enjoy going to work each day. We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide of all the areas you need to think about to help ensure you are ready for your next step – professionally, emotionally, and financially.

STEP 1 – think about whether it really is your career that needs to change or if your current role just isn’t satisfying you. Make a list of all your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Once you have completed that, look outside your current role, industry, and/or company to determine what aligns with your strengths and likes. We often find clients who are great at what they do and are in a job that is seemingly a good fit for them, but the company they work for is not ideal. It is very important at this stage to understand where your issues actually lie before embarking on a complete career change. If it’s the job you dislike, perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment would make you happier. If it’s 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 – once you have decided you would like to change careers, narrow down the direction you’d like to pursue. If you are unsure, consider taking a career assessment and meeting with a Career Advisor to better understand your interests and personality type, which can help you narrow down some new career choices. Research careers using online resources such as those found in our previous Useful Career Resources and Tools article.

STEP 3 – from the overview you’ve developed, decide how you might be able to make a change. You may have a lot to consider before you make your transition, including financial, family and study considerations. Analyse your financial situation and how that could be affected. Look for gaps in your resume and work out how to fill them. Do you need to undertake further study? Can some or all of the study be completed part-time while still working? Investigate opportunities to complete volunteer work. Think about the fact that many careers look great to an outsider, but the reality of the day-to-day job isn’t so interesting. Seek out and talk to people already working in your area of interest to gain a better understanding of their opinions and experiences to help you become more informed.

STEP 4 – contact employers and recruiters that specialise in your new field or industry. It’s important to proactively and enthusiastically hunt for your new role. Set up job alerts on online job sites and make sure you get out there and network with existing and new contacts.

STEP 5 – prepare your application material and update LinkedIn and other social media accounts. Tailor your application materials for every role you apply for – particularly the cover letter. We see too many people sending off applications that aren’t tailored to the role and then wonder why they don’t hear back. Pay particular attention to any selection criteria requirements and ensure you have responded in the way the recruiter has requested.

STEP 6 – take some time to prepare and practice for interviews. You may be the best candidate for the role, but if you don’t perform well in the interview, it’s unlikely you’ll progress. See our article this month ‘How to prepare for an interview without sounding like a robot’ for more tips.

Changing careers can be a very rewarding experience, but will require strong courage and conviction from you. It will most likely involve lots of hard work – especially if you need to complete 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 career change.

Would you like help deciding whether or not changing careers is a viable next step for you? If so, please see our Career Coaching Services.

10 Tips for a smooth start to tertiary study

Article by Belinda Fuller

10 tips for a smooth start to tertiary studyFor many 2017 school leavers, the beginning of their first university, college or TAFE semester is looming. If you have already secured your place – congratulations! If not, good luck in the next couple of rounds. Wherever you’re at, you might be feeling a range of different emotions. We’ve put together some tips to help you get off to a smooth start.

Attending university, college or TAFE straight from school can be daunting, but it’s also an exciting time. For many students, leaving the comfort and structure of school is challenging. You may not know anyone and go from seeing your friends every day to potentially having to make new friends. In addition, lecturers and tutors don’t generally chase you for your work, check up on your progress, or worry about whether or not you’ve attended their lectures. That’s up to you. Here’s our tips for ensuring a smooth start and surviving that first semester:

  1. Get yourself to class – this isn’t high school and no one is going to really care if you don’t turn up to lectures. You need to motivate yourself to do that.
  2. Don’t be afraid to change – just because you start a particular course doesn’t mean you’re bound to complete it. Many students just don’t enjoy their initial choice. You’re better off exploring your options sooner rather than later. Speak to a student adviser – you may be able to re-structure your units to avoid a transfer, or if you decide to transfer they can advise you how to go about it.
  3. Get organised – keep on top of work and study otherwise you may face significant stress during the hectic end of semester period. By establishing a routine early on, you’ll better balance your studies, social life and work commitments. Decide when you’ll study each week and try to stick to it. Review your schedule each week and ensure you’ve allowed enough time for revision and assignment preparation.
  4. Learn to learn – it’s important to become an independent learner. Your study is going to be more self-driven than before. No one is going to remind you about homework or assignments so keep track of due dates and manage your workload to ensure success.
  5. Ask for help – lectures and classes can be intimidating, sometimes with hundreds of people all sitting in the one room, but you should never be ashamed to ask for help. Most universities and TAFEs have great websites where you may find the answer to your question, otherwise student support services provide counselling, financial and academic advice; or your lecturers, tutors and fellow classmates are usually only too happy to help!
  6. Use your free time wisely – this is especially important if you have large breaks during on-campus days. Rather than leaving, stay on site and visit the library or use the time to read / study / complete assignments etc. The earlier you complete things, the less stress you’ll face later. Keeping up with deadlines and reviewing your notes as you go is a great way to utilise any breaks between lectures. If you have a late start, rather than sleeping in, set the alarm and get up early to review your notes or do some exercise.
  7. Stay healthy – by eating well, getting enough sleep, and ensuring you fit in some exercise. This is important to ensure you don’t become burnt out. If you’re finding it hard to maintain your regular fitness regime, investigate what’s available on campus or team up with new friends to organise walks or runs during breaks. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, and use bulk meal preparation to ensure you always have healthy food on hand that isn’t time consuming to prepare.
  8. Budget – you’ve probably increased your expenses since school with socialising, a car, and possibly even rent. This means budgeting is important – buy second hand books (then sell them once you’ve finished with them), take advantage of student discounts, take your lunch from home, and swap expensive social activities for cheaper ones. Don’t forget to take advantage of all the student discounts and freebies on offer as well.
  9. Make time for yourself – you know the drill, all work and no play isn’t the best idea so whether you take time out to relax, exercise or socialise – you need some downtime. It will help you concentrate better when you are studying.
  10. Get involved – university and TAFE campuses are often huge places with thousands of people, so you might need to get a little out of your comfort zone. Join a club or group of like-minded people and you might meet your new best friend! At the very least, getting involved on campus will help you settle in and activities or groups that align with your area of study will look great on your resume.

Most importantly enjoy and make the most of this time. Learning to manage your new schedule and demands will help make the transition to tertiary study smoother. Take advantage of all the resources available to you and enjoy meeting new friends.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice. If so, our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to prepare for an interview without sounding like a robot

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to prepare for your interview without sounding like a robotWe often talk about preparing for interviews – it really is one of the most important parts of the whole job application process – one we find is regularly overlooked. While it’s great to be prepared, it’s important to remember the vital part of connecting with your interviewer. So what’s the best way to prepare without sounding rehearsed?

We hear about it often from both recruiters and candidates – bombing out at an interview as a result of ill preparation. You may be the best candidate for the role, but if you don’t perform well in the interview, it’s unlikely you’ll progress. Whilst it is important to prepare and practise responses, there is a danger that you can sound overly rehearsed. You want to sound confident and articulate but not robotic or false. Here’s our tips to help you strike the balance.

  • Practise a few different ways of introducing yourself – many interviews start off with some form of ‘tell me a bit about yourself’. It’s important to tailor this response based on the role, company, interviews and the recruitment stage you’re at. However, having three or four versions that you can tailor is a good place to start. Then before each interview, research the company, role and interviewer so you can work out where your focus should be.
  • Don’t memorise scripted answers – by all means identify the types of questions you might be asked and prepare standard responses but instead of specific responses, use key concepts, words and phrases that you can draw upon depending on the question and direction of conversation. Think about the key skills and experience required to excel in the role and relate your own expertise back to that. If you identify all the technical or specialist skills, qualifications and experience you need as well as the ‘soft’ or generic skills required – areas such as communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and initiative – then prepare mini stories that demonstrate that skill – you should be prepared to answer any question that is asked.
  • Prepare notes on your job history with key areas to discuss – candidates often can’t recall what they did in previous roles, particularly if some time has passed. Review your job history and create quick mental or physical lists of areas to discuss so you can quickly and confidently answer questions about specific roles. A better option is to prepare mini success stories that demonstrate the value you provided – have these on hand to help you articulate your experiences and accomplishments more clearly.
  • Work out what differentiates you – being able to set yourself apart is essential. Identify your unique skills and qualities and again practise talking about them. You’ve landed an interview and now it’s time to impress. Don’t come across as bored or uninterested – make an effort to show your positive approach and explain why you’re different to others.
  • Prepare some questions – asking informed, well thought-out questions will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are interested in the role and the company – while helping you to gather some information that’s going to be useful in making a decision about whether or not you really want to work there. Asking questions in an interview won’t make you appear rude or arrogant – quite the opposite in fact – it’s the perfect way to show off several of the most important traits that recruiters are looking for. Focus on the company, the industry, the role and its performance criteria, company culture, how they measure success, and the company’s timeline for making a decision regarding the appointment. And don’t be afraid to take a list of questions with you – it shows you’re prepared and interested.
  • Build rapport – remember that a job interview is essentially a person-to-person conversation so make sure to use positive body language, eye contact, and a strong hand shake to engage the interviewer and build rapport. Leave a good first impression by arriving on time or a little early, unflustered with immaculate grooming and dress. It’s not just the content that matters but how you say it – smile and show passion, excitement and enthusiasm when you talk.

It is possible to be well prepared for a job interview without sounding overly rehearsed. Try some of our suggested tips to help build your confidence while ensuring your personality still shines through.

Do you struggle to perform well during interviews? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

Google your name before hitting submit

Article by Belinda Fuller

Google your name before hitting submitIf you’re searching for a new role, you should assume the recruiter will Google your name. If that’s the case – what will they find? In today’s digital age, your online presence is just as important as your formal Resume and Cover Letter. It’s a way for the recruiter to see who you really are, and the results of that search are likely to influence the outcome of your application. So what can you do to protect that view?

If you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, wasting time sending out your Resume with no luck in securing interviews, now might be a good time to take control of your online profile. Google won’t reveal exactly how many queries it processes on a day-to-day basis but last year claimed it was ‘trillions’ – in other words at least 2 trillion! The search giant’s last ‘official’ figure was a claim in 2012 that 1.2 trillion specific searches were performed every day. With experts estimating the current figure is likely to include at least a billion specific name searches every day – that’s more than enough reason to take note of what comes up when your name is searched.

Since part of the recruitment process today will more than likely include some kind of online search, it pays to look at this aspect just as closely as you would your written material. We know that searches of social media platforms to screen job candidates before hiring them is high, but we also now believe a high proportion of employers are moving beyond social networks to perform more comprehensive searches on candidates’ entire online presence. While there are many reasons you may not secure an interview – there is no doubt that your online presence, or lack thereof, could be a contributor.

If you’ve never Googled yourself, do it now! What comes up? Here’s the fact – if an employer performs a search on you and doesn’t find something that accurately reflects your application – for example, a comprehensive and up-to-date LinkedIn profile; or worse they find something they don’t like such as a provocative or inappropriate Facebook post, the chances of you being invited in for an interview reduce. That’s why we all need to be proactive and remove and/or moderate the information you’d rather people didn’t see. This goes for information from sites you can control like Facebook but it’s also important to look at mistaken online reputation. If this is the case, ‘defensive googling’ is a way to differentiate your online presence. This involves claiming a distinctive version of your name, for example by including your middle name or initial, then using it consistently throughout all your online and other application materials.

In addition to getting rid of undesirable content and posts, you can also leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects. Think about what is going to make you stand out from the crowd and focus your content on positive hobbies and interests. This could mean including additional interests, volunteer work or charities you support. Don’t be afraid to use positive statements as part of your social media, since it encourages yourself and others.

Ignoring your online footprint or brand these days will most likely hinder your job search efforts. Most organisations take background checks very seriously, and much of these are now performed online. Once something inappropriate is uncovered, it’s going to be difficult to recover from that – with the chances of you securing your dream role slim. To be proactive about monitoring your online presence, establish a Google alert with your name. This way, you’ll be notified via email whenever your name hits the web.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Do you think you need to audit your online presence or gain some assistance to ensure your online presence on LinkedIn is accurate and up to date? If so, click here for our LinkedIn Profile Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching Services.




Want to combat decision fatigue?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Want to combat decision fatigueDo you ever feel like having to make one more decision is simply not possible? Decision fatigue is a real thing and according to some experts, it’s the reason why people make silly decisions that aren’t well thought-through. The inability to make a rational decision occurs after several decisions have been made in a row. Some simple lifestyle changes can be made to help combat this fatigue and ensure better decision making.

I often think my ‘brain is tired’ and after recently reading an article on this very topic was amazed that it’s an actual scientific principle. Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychologist known for a wide range of work on the self, coined the term ‘decision fatigue’ in reference to the idea that our willpower or ability to make good decisions declines when our mental resources are limited. This can be compared to how our muscles suffer from fatigue and feel ready to give up after a strong physical workout.

Countless studies have been conducted to help understand the concept with various results and theories emerging. The constant amongst them all is the idea that our brain has a finite capacity to make decisions – once that’s been depleted, we may start to look for shortcuts in decision making or we may even decide to give up and do nothing when faced with a decision. Understanding decision fatigue can help you make positive changes to your lifestyle so you can save your mental energy and willpower for making important decisions.

Here are our top six tips to help you make better decisions on a more consistent basis:

  1. Stick to routine: Routine helps because the decision has already been made and the number of decisions you have to make each day is reduced. This increases your odds of doing the right thing more consistently. Having the same (or similar) breakfast every day, organising lunches in advance, menu planning for weekly dinners, and having a ‘work uniform’ are all simple ways to limit your daily decisions. Many successful and/or high profile people wear the same or similar outfit to work every day – and for good reason. Former US President Obama always wore the same thing, which he claimed was part of his secret to getting so much done. He once told Vanity Fair “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
  2. Make important decisions in the morning: This is when your brain is clearest because it is not yet fatigued from the day’s activities. You haven’t been faced with too many decisions, so you can stop and think about the specific situation. Experts believe that scheduling important decisions for the morning can set you up for success. I have personally observed my own behaviour in this area and now try to make important decisions about tasks early – I believe these decisions are made faster and more accurately than if I leave it until later in the day where I am more likely to procrastinate because the decision seems more complex.
  3. Limit daily decisions: This applies to those decisions that need to be made every day – it goes back to number one with limiting decisions about what to wear and eat, but it works equally well for more complex decisions about work. Setting up standard processes or ways to complete tasks that need to be done regularly means you’re not constantly ‘deciding’ on the next course of action.
  4. Get rid of perfectionism: Sometimes, if we try to make sure everything is ‘perfect’, we procrastinate. Try completing a task until it is just good enough, and come back to it later to refine. You’ll often be amazed at how good your first attempt actually is, and how little ‘refining’ it really needs.
  5. Schedule down time: Try not to schedule back-to-back meetings or fill your day with tasks you know will be difficult to achieve. Allowing time in between meetings or tasks to de-compress, write notes, think about your next tasks etc. will help your brain to better cope with your workload. It also means fewer decisions that often make you feel guilty about what to cut out when you end up going over time on tasks or meetings.
  6. Set up regular ‘appointments’ for non-negotiable activities: This applies to exercise, time with family, or any tasks that can get sidelined when you’re busy. Rather than hoping to make the ‘right’ decision about doing things, you’ll probably be more successful by simply scheduling the things that are important and making them ‘non-negotiable’.

Your capacity to make decisions can decline as your brain becomes fatigued. Every time you make a decision, it’s like doing another set at the gym. When your brain is tired, this means it becomes more likely you’ll make a bad decision, or no decision at all. Implement some or all of our tips to improve your decision-making capacity.

Do you have trouble making decisions about your career or day-to-day work? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Counselling Services.


Tis the season! Holiday job search tips

Article by Belinda Fuller

Tis The SeasonIt’s about this time of year that people begin to think it’s too late to start applying for new roles. Even if you believe you won’t be able to secure a new role between now and the new year, there are things you can (and should) be doing over the festive season to help you gain a great head start come January. Whether you’ve been at it for a while, or are just starting your job search, keep it up during the holidays.

While it may be unlikely you’ll be offered a job between now and the new year, that doesn’t mean you should cease all activity. On the contrary, using this time could pay huge dividends down the track. Here’s our top five things you can do now to help your job search in the new year:

  1. Know what you want: Go through job search sites such as Seek and LinkedIn and search for specific titles, companies, industries and keywords. Play around with combinations and open your search out to other geographical locations or industries to expand results. While the market may be quiet and you might not find exactly what you’re looking for, there’s a strong chance that some positions will be a close match to what you’re after. Read the job ads closely and get a feel for what’s required. Doing this allows you to decide what’s important to include (and just as importantly exclude) from your application – as well as determining if you have any major gaps in your capabilities.
  2. Get organised: Today’s job market is not only competitive, it’s complicated. There are many avenues to tap into – including advertised and unadvertised job markets. Getting organised will help you to more efficiently find and apply for all the positions you may be suitable for. Set up automated job searches, identify relevant recruiters, update your application materials, polish your interview skills, use LinkedIn, check your social media settings, and think about who you could be networking with. Read our previous article Winning Job Search Strategies for detailed tips on developing a structured job search strategy.
  3. Update your materials: This includes your LinkedIn profile, Resume and Cover Letter. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find suitable candidates, so it’s important to optimise your profile with keywords, so you can be found. Include comprehensive and up-to-date content, a current and professional photo, and try to complete every section. Make sure to leverage the summary section – use it to introduce yourself, provide an overview of your key skills, experience and strengths – a picture of who you are and the value you could bring to an organisation. Your Resume should also be updated and we recommend writing a customised cover letter for every job you apply for – addressing as many ‘job requirements’ as you can. Use the holidays to prepare sample letters and/or paragraphs that can easily be modified to suit specific roles as you apply. While you will have to tailor them for each position, getting these documents into shape now will make the job much easier when the time comes.
  4. Prepare for interviews: The biggest mistake you can make when searching for a new job is not preparing for the interview. Ways you can do this in the holidays include brainstorming the types of questions you might get asked and coming up with some examples that demonstrate your success. Think about examples that demonstrate strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and how you’ve handled different work situations. Having a bank of these examples will ensure you feel more confident and prepared during the stressful interview process. Read our previous article here that talks about using the STAR approach to help you formulate them for an interview.
  5. Network: Think about who you know that you can connect with now. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. While it may not be the best time to reach out to everyone who might be of assistance to you in your job search, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the ball rolling. Do your research, brainstorm and scroll through LinkedIn for potential people to contact, then start drafting emails that can be sent in the new year. Be mindful of people taking time off and coming back to an inbox full of emails which may get overlooked – think about your timing before sending. Remember all the different ways to connect with your network and use them – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face-to-face and online networking groups.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex so being organised and prepared will help ensure your success! With so many avenues to pursue, using the quieter holiday period to plan your strategy will ensure you are ready and raring to go in the new year.

Would you would like help developing a winning resume, detailed job search strategy, or professional LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills? If so, please see our Resume Writing, Job Search Coaching, and Interview Training services.

Step-by-step guide to writing a cover letter

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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