Traditional job-interview approaches can be a poor predictor of actual performance, according to some studies – so is the process set to change? From virtual reality to job auditions to a bigger focus on soft skills, find out which interview techniques are rising in popularity and what the future of job interviews looks like.
The way organisations find and hire employees is constantly evolving – it looks very different today from how it looked 10 years ago. Most global companies regularly explore new approaches, with changes in recent years mostly thanks to technology. While most recruiters agree that the traditional face-to-face job-interview process is still an essential part of recruitment, some say there’s a general bias problem that can favour charismatic interviewees. After all, some people are naturally better at selling themselves – they’re more articulate, engaging and confident – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best person for the role.
Here are five job-interview trends that are being seen more frequently and are helping to shape the future of the job interview:
- Soft-skills assessments: Personality profile tests have been used by recruiters for years. What’s emerging now are other tests that measure attitudes, people skills, social skills, emotional and/or social intelligence and other desired qualities. Candidates can complete these tests online before other evaluations, which means companies can assess larger numbers of candidates faster. Employers can also create an ideal employee profile based on high-performing current employees, then use that to assess and rank new candidates. These comprehensive tests reduce bias while providing a more realistic view of a candidate’s personality than a recruiter can get from a traditional interview.
- Job auditions: This involves throwing candidates into their potential future work environment to assess how they’ll actually perform in the job. Job auditions can be conducted in different ways – one full day of work, multi-week trial periods, talent identification events – but the goal is the same. They help companies better understand candidates’ skills and traits in real-world situations relevant to the job they’ll be performing. It’s also a great way for the candidate to assess the culture and potential fit of the organisation.
- Casual meetings: These aren’t especially new but they’re rising in popularity. Casual settings put people at ease and many recruiters believe they provide a more realistic snapshot of a candidate’s personality than traditional interviews. For example, watching how candidates interact with waitstaff or assessing how they react to situations around them can paint a much truer picture of personality, tolerance, resilience and ability to handle problems.
- Virtual reality (VR): While relatively new technology, VR is being used across many areas of business, including recruitment. Companies use VR to measure skills, showcase their culture and appeal to younger talent. For example, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) created a Virtual Reality Career Experience that allowed candidates to get a feel for the types of projects employees worked on. It also enabled CBA to assess candidate skills. Showcased at university careers expos, it presented candidates with various challenges that required them to make decisions, all with corresponding benefits and consequences. It proved so popular that CBA created a virtual reality app and released it to the world. The British Army has also used VR to allow candidates to experience four scenarios: tank driving, parachuting, mountaineering and combat training. After testing it at various events, they saw a 66% increase in recruitment applications.
- Video interviews: These have been around for some time, but with video conferencing, ‘on-demand’ and ‘one-way’ video now more widespread, more recruiters are using them. The benefits are obvious: it’s more convenient and creates more familiarity than a phone call; it lets busy passive candidates record at their convenience; it allows anxious candidates to settle their nerves in a familiar environment; it’s more efficient for recruiters to review larger numbers of candidates; and it lets recruiters easily screen remote talent. Video interviews are particularly useful for roles where communication and presentation are crucial, such as sales or account management. For example, KPMG Australia now uses one-way video interviews to more effectively screen large numbers of graduates for client-facing roles.
The job-interview process is changing, thanks to new approaches that help organisations get to know candidates better, measure skills more objectively and make better hiring decisions. But these trends don’t just benefit employers. They also mean you’re more likely to be hired into a job you really want and that you’re highly suited to. It’s a win-win. Are you ready for the job interview of the future?
If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
It’s no secret that LinkedIn has become the world’s largest professional network, with over 562 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. In the Asia Pacific region alone, membership is now well over 100 million, and we know that most recruiters use the platform to find and/or screen candidates. So how can you leverage the power of LinkedIn to find a job?
If you’re searching for a new role, optimising your LinkedIn profile and taking advantage of the additional tools can be a powerful step. Here are our top tips for making the most of LinkedIn:
- Search LinkedIn Jobs: Browse the LinkedIn Jobs section to find relevant roles and use filters to refine your search. Create a search alert so you’re notified every time a job that meets your criteria is posted.
- Update your career interests: Let LinkedIn know you’re seeking work and share your career goals. You can specify the types of companies and roles you’re interested in, so recruiters can match your interests and background to available roles. Your career interests will be shared with recruiters for 180 days before being automatically turned off, but you can manually change this to continue sharing. Find ‘Career Interests’ in the ‘Jobs’ tab at the very top of your profile.
- Keep your profile up to date: A complete profile will strengthen your image, increase your visibility and bring you more networking opportunities. Complete as many sections as possible to achieve the ‘All Star’ level indicated by the profile strength metre under your summary when viewing your profile. Include everything that’s relevant to the roles you’re seeking, with a focus on your recent experience.
- Customise your headline: When users search for people with certain attributes, they only see their photo, name and headline. Your headline automatically defaults to your current (or most recent) job title, but you can – and should – customise it to ensure you stand out. Change your headline to encapsulate what you do, the value you offer or the type of roles you’re seeking. Simply click the ‘edit’ button next to the headline (and try to use all 120 available characters).
- Upload a photo: A photo makes your profile more likely to be viewed. It’s the first thing people see when they’re browsing, and if you don’t have a photo you’re missing out on opportunities. A professional shot is great but not essential – just don’t use a cropped photo from a social situation or an obvious ‘selfie’. Get someone to take a clear head-and-shoulders photo against a white or plain background, and wear something professional. Don’t forget to smile! For more on getting the perfect picture, read our recent article on DIY-ing a professional headshot.
- Include a summary: Your summary (the overview section at the top of your profile) contributes to your LinkedIn ranking and is one of the first things people read. Use yours to create a concise snapshot of you and your ‘brand’. Describe your background, experience and skills in a way that demonstrates your potential for your target roles.
- Add a comprehensive list of skills: Your Skills & Endorsements section also helps build your brand and improve your ranking. Select skills that already exist in LinkedIn’s database by starting to type a skill, and LinkedIn will make relevant suggestions. To boost your chances of getting the job you want, don’t leave anything out – you can list up to 50 skills and change the order by dragging up and down.
- Get recommendations and endorsements: These are invaluable and boost your profile’s strength and personality. Try to get recommendations for each role and include superiors, clients and colleagues since this will boost your credibility.
- Make your content web friendly: Aim for short paragraphs and concise sentences. To improve readability, use bullet points and subheadings. Consider adjusting the order that things appear within each section to suit your target role or industry.
- Be active: Share content regularly, making sure it’s relevant, authentic and valuable to your network. It might include articles, blog posts and quotes. Interact with other people and get involved in groups (click ‘My Network’ in the top menu and you’ll see your groups listed in the left-hand sidebar; use the search bar in the top left to search for new groups). The more you interact and post as a professional, the more you’ll get noticed and build recognition.
- Build your network: Connections help you increase your own exposure and access others. They also allow you to keep track of industry trends and news and create more opportunities for introductions.
- Research companies you’re interested in: Make a list of the companies you’d like to work for and follow them on LinkedIn. This will help you stay up to date on company news and new positions. Identify which of your connections are associated with the companies. Reach out to them for advice, support or an introduction to HR.
- Research your recruiter: Before an interview, use LinkedIn to research the interviewer – whether they’re internal or external to the company you want to work with. Use that knowledge during the interview to demonstrate you’ve done your homework.
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for finding and securing the job you want. But it takes a bit of effort to get it right. Take a look at some of the top profiles in your industry for inspiration, and spend time getting to know LinkedIn so you can make the most of its tools. Your dream job could be waiting for you!
If you’d like help developing or optimising your LinkedIn profile so you stand out from the crowd, take a look at our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.
Was ‘be more productive’ one of your New Year’s resolutions? With a finite number of hours in the day, there’s a limit to how many tasks you can complete – so ticking off priorities and achieving your goals takes focus and a proactive approach. These simple ways to set up your day and manage your tasks will help you smash your to-do list – and make this year your most productive yet.
Do you spend hours ‘busy’ in multi-tasking mode with little to show for it at the end of the day? The key to getting through your to-do list is having one in the first place. While some people rely on their memory, motivation and focus to get things done, research consistently shows that to-do lists drive productivity. How that list is structured varies from person to person. Some of us are borderline obsessive, organising and scheduling every aspect of our lives, while others prefer a more relaxed approach.
Regardless of your style, most experts agree that even the most basic to-do list will help you achieve your important goals. Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, once wrote that he has always lived his life by making lists. Branson believes that getting things done relies on writing things down, and his lists include ‘to-dos’, ideas, insights, calls he needs to make and plans he’d like to implement.
Here are our top tips on how to smash your to-do lists this year:
- Prioritise: Writing a to-do list of absolutely everything you’d like to achieve is not productive or helpful. It’s usually just overwhelming. Categorising tasks helps. For example, you might have a home list and a work list, both of which are split into two sub-lists: urgent and non-urgent. The non-urgent list is an ongoing one with stuff that needs to be done but it’s not pressing. The other is tasks that need to be done in the next couple of days. It’s best to start with any items that absolutely must get done today – these are your MITs (most important tasks). Even if you get nothing else done, the MITs will be completed and you can start fresh tomorrow.
- Be realistic: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead of brain-dumping a list of everything you need to do and not factoring in how long it actually takes, work out your timeframes. You could block out daily commitments in your diary so you can see at a glance what your day looks like and how much time you’ve got to work with. If that much detail doesn’t appeal, simply look at your to-do list and be sensible about how long each task will take you.
- Schedule the scheduling: Check emails and write your to-do list first thing (or last thing) every day. It’s important to highlight urgent tasks and then plan your day before you start work. Making time for this means you’re working from a place of intention rather than just reacting to whatever comes up.
- Leverage your strengths: Know when you’re at your best and take advantage of it. For example, if your energy levels peak in the morning, schedule your complex tasks for then. Some people like to do their ‘hard’ tasks first and save the mundane tasks for low-energy times. Others prefer to clear all the little things first before focusing on the MITs without any mental distractions.
- Focus: This is one of the most important tips for smashing your to-do list. Instead of multi-tasking your way through the day, focus on one task at a time until it’s complete. Turn your phone off and don’t check emails so you can work uninterrupted. Try this for a day and watch your productivity improve.
- Systemise what you can: Routines, systems and rules are big productivity boosters. If you have regular tasks, try to complete them consistently. Establish work systems so you don’t have to recreate them every time. Implement rules and document naming conventions so you don’t waste time searching for documents. To pinpoint your biggest time-wasters, track your time for a day or a week to record what you actually do – then eliminate anything that isn’t productive, systemise what you can, delegate appropriate tasks or consolidate tasks that overlap.
- Deal with distractions: The best way to deal with all those things you suddenly remember while you’re trying to be productive is to write them down on a brain-dump list straight away and then return to the task at hand. Then set aside time to deal with your brain-dump list each day.
- Switch off: It might feel counter-intuitive these days, but most people don’t need to be contactable 24/7. Turn off your phone and only respond to emails at certain times, so you can work uninterrupted.
- Learn to say no: This can be difficult in a work situation, but setting realistic deadlines, not over promising and managing expectations is an important part of good time management.
- Get up earlier: If all else fails and you really don’t have enough time, set your alarm and get up an hour earlier – you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve with no one else around!
No matter how busy you are, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. Rethinking your approach to your to-do list is key to achieving your goals. Try implementing some (or all) of these tips and see if they help you smash that to-do list. Make this year your most productive yet!
Do you feel like you spend too much time working through your never-ending to-do list and not enough on building your career? If you’ve been struggling to find time to get your career on track, an expert Career Coach can help. Or maybe you know your next step but you need help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our services.
Applying for a job these days usually involves sending your resume electronically, which may then be processed using an applicant tracking system. Recruiters and organisations are also increasingly using LinkedIn to recruit. This means that using keywords is an essential part of getting your application seen and demonstrating that you’re the best person for the role. Here’s how to identify the right keywords and use them effectively so you can get the job you want.
A high percentage of resumes are now scanned using applicant tracking systems (ATS), which means your resume may not even be seen by human eyes – unless it makes it through the initial round of scanning. More organisations are also using LinkedIn to find candidates. That means you need to use the right keywords in your resume, online profile and other content if you want your application to be seen.
A keyword is simply a specific word, set of words or phrase that relates to or describes a job, skill or experience. They can be general or specific – for example, ‘general manager’, ‘administrative assistant’, ‘report writing skills’ and ‘agile software development’ are keywords that a recruiter might use to search for candidates.
Regardless of the job you’re applying for, there are some common principles for selecting and using keywords effectively. Here are our top tips.
- Your name: Use your full name and ensure your online profile is consistent with your resume and other application documents. For example, if your resume says Greg Smith but your LinkedIn profile says Gregory C Smith, you’ve made it difficult for a recruiter to connect the two. There’s no need to include your full birth name if that’s not your preferred name. While we don’t recommend using nicknames, we do advise shortening (for example, Christopher to Chris) if that’s how you’re known in the workplace.
- Job title: Recruiters need candidates with experience that matches the role requirements. To get noticed, you should include your target job title. This doesn’t mean deceptively changing previous job titles, but simply tweaking title(s) to better describe what you did. With many of today’s organisations opting for more ‘interesting’ titles for employees, it can result in the title not necessarily articulating what you do (think ‘Director of First Impressions’ versus ‘Receptionist’). A good solution can be to use a slash to include two titles – for example, ‘Receptionist / Director of First Impressions’ or ‘Senior Administrative Assistant / Executive Assistant’. This will help you get found regardless of which title is being searched.
- Qualifications: Include relevant education, licences and certifications with the organisation that conducted the training as well as the year you completed it. Always include study you’re currently undertaking (with an estimated completion date/year). And translate difficult-to-understand qualifications (or those gained overseas) into the commonly understood equivalent. There’s no need to include high school qualifications unless you’re a recent graduate with no other training or education.
- Skills: Include a succinct list of relevant skills and capabilities focused on those most frequently mentioned in the job ad. You should create a section in your resume called ‘Key skills and capabilities’ or similar, which could include up to 15 individual skills, if necessary. This helps a recruiter to match your strengths with the right opportunity. And it’s just as important for your online profile as your resume. According to LinkedIn, members with five or more skills listed are contacted (messaged) up to 33 times more by recruiters than other LinkedIn members, and receive up to 17 times more profile views.
- Location: Many recruiters check your location so it’s important to include a city and state on your resume. If you’re searching for a new role in another state, you could say ‘relocating to Queensland in June’ or something similar. It’s also important to include your location on your LinkedIn profile. According to LinkedIn, more than 30% of recruiters will use advanced search based on location, so omitting it will reduce your chances of being found.
- Industry: Be sure to use commonly used keywords in your industry, such as ‘sales’, ‘marketing’, ‘information technology’ and ‘customer service’ to describe your field and area(s) of expertise. For LinkedIn, select an industry and sub-classification from the ‘Edit Intro’ section to better define your focus.
- Seniority: If it’s not clear from your job titles, use words such as ‘graduate’, ‘mid-level’, ‘senior’, ‘executive’ or ‘C Suite’ to show the level of seniority of past roles you’ve held or people you’ve dealt with.
- Legislation and regulations: Many roles require an in-depth understanding of, or experience interpreting and applying, laws or regulations. If that’s the case for your role, include the names of these laws, acts, regulations and codes of conduct on your resume, including shortened and extended versions if possible. Including memberships of industry groups and specific licences can also demonstrate in-depth understanding of a specific area and provides another way to include relevant keywords.
- Jargon: Include industry jargon and technical terms that are relevant and appropriate to your expertise and future goals. This includes acronyms, with the full description in brackets the first time they appear, so both versions are included.
When preparing your application and online profile, think like a recruiter filling the job you want. How is that job described in job ads? What skills, capabilities, qualifications and tools are required? Decide on your keywords based on the categories we’ve listed above. Then incorporate those keywords logically into your content.
Avoid madly listing or repeating keywords – this is known as ‘keyword stuffing’ and applicant tracking systems can easily recognise it and may reject your application. But get your keywords right and you’ll be well on your way to your next great job.
Would you like help preparing a top-quality job application or LinkedIn profile that focuses on the right keywords? Our experienced writers can help you create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice. To find out more, read about our Services.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut – doing the same things, day in day out, without really enjoying them, but not giving it much thought. Work can become monotonous but most of us can’t afford to leave a job whenever the mood takes us. However, sometimes work starts to make us truly unhappy. Often we wait too long to leave or put off the decision because it’s easier to stay. So how can you tell if it’s time to move on from your job?
Recognising and accepting that it’s time to leave your job can be tough. You may have a ‘good’ job and work for a good company. Maybe you like your co-workers and get on well with your boss. But when it comes to your career, that’s not always enough. Simply feeling dissatisfied might not be a sufficient reason to leave, but there are certain situations that definitely indicate it could be time to move on. If any of the following apply to you, start planning now.
- Mondayitis is extending to the whole week: And your ‘bad week’ has turned into a ‘bad month’. Everyone has their off days or weeks. Things can go wrong, or maybe you feel overwhelmed and unable to get on top of things. However, if you’re constantly stressed or unhappy, waking up miserable most days and dreading going to work, that’s a sign it’s time to find something new.
- You’re bored: Feeling challenged at work is crucial for long-term satisfaction. If you find yourself doing the same things over and over, with nothing new to excite you, talk to your supervisor about your options. Ask if you can take on new or different responsibilities or tasks. If that isn’t an option, is there something in another department, or a special project you can work on for a short period of time to reignite your passion? If you can’t come to an agreement about new responsibilities, then it’s probably time to exit. You can help prevent the same thing happening again by asking questions in your next interview about career growth, support and development.
- You’re not achieving your desired work-life balance: Most of us are working more hours every week, which can compromise our health and wellbeing. With technology allowing us to be connected 24/7, it’s even more difficult to switch off. If you feel your employer is making it difficult for you to find time for friends, family or doing some of the things you love, it might be time to start searching for a new opportunity.
- You’re consistently overlooked for promotion: If you regularly put your hand up but you’re not really getting anywhere, what is the reason? Is someone standing in your way or are you doing something to sabotage your own success? If the problem is something out of your control, try raising the issue with your boss and if they struggle to provide a clear answer, it’s likely that the situation won’t change much in the future.
- Your company or industry is shrinking: If your company or industry as a whole is experiencing slow or negative growth, it might be time to get out while you still have a job.
- You dislike the people you work with: While it’s not viable that everyone gets on with everyone all the time, sometimes personality clashes just aren’t fixable. It’s important to know when that’s the case, and if it is, you may be better off looking for a new role.
- You don’t feel appreciated: It can be frustrating if you feel taken for granted or your advice is often ignored. If you work hard and are committed, you shouldn’t feel undervalued in the business. Talk to your boss about how you feel, and if they can’t provide a solution you’re happy with, you might want to consider your options.
We spend so much of our lives working, you owe it to yourself to ensure you enjoy going to work each day (or at least most days). If you’re working in a job that isn’t fulfilling, and you’re no longer learning and growing, it might be time to make a move.
Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to help you work out if it’s time to move on? Or perhaps you’ve already made the decision to leave and you need some help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our services.
Our new ‘How to answer’ series proved popular last month, when we looked at how to respond to the interview question, “Tell me about yourself”. This month’s question – “Why should we hire you?” – is just as important, and can be just as tricky to answer. You’ll need to prepare a compelling summary of why they should hire you, while remaining flexible enough to think and respond on the spot.
An interviewer’s main purpose is to collect information on candidates to help make the best decision about who to hire. They may ask this question in several ways, but your response will provide the same outcome. Examples include:
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- Why are you the right fit for the position?
- What would you bring to the position?
Even if you don’t get asked this question specifically, you should try to communicate the key reasons they should hire you throughout the interview. If you are asked this question, you’ll have a great opportunity to present a concise sales pitch describing what you offer. You’re usually being hired to solve a problem or address a requirement. The better you demonstrate how you’re going to do that, the more chance you’ll have of getting the job. Follow our step-by-step process to prepare.
- Create a pitch. Identify the skills, qualifications and experience you need to succeed in the role, and relate them back to yourself. Do this by reviewing the job description and highlighting key requirements, including qualifications, specialist technical skills, experience, soft skills and personality traits. Then match them with the qualities you possess. Select three of your strongest areas and make these the core of your answer. When you’re developing your pitch, focus on the positives and keep linking your response back to the company and the position.
- Research the organisation. Once you’ve identified the personal and professional capabilities you need to highlight, do some research on the company. Pay particular attention to social media accounts since this is where you’ll get a better understanding of company culture. This is important because employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to feel satisfied in their jobs. This generally leads to higher retention rates, and since recruitment is a costly and time-consuming exercise, organisations tend to hire based on shared values and cultural beliefs.
- Tell stories. Stories paint a picture and a picture paints a thousand words! Rather than simply stating you have a particular skill or personality trait, support it with a story that ‘shows’ rather than just ‘tells’. For each of the points you highlighted above, think of a time you used that skill or trait to achieve a positive result. Structure your story using the STAR formula to ensure you cover all the important areas, and make sure your examples end with a positive outcome or result. (Want more tips on using storytelling to engage and persuade in the workplace? Take a look at our previous blog post.)
- Think beyond the obvious. You know you’re up against candidates who are likely to be just as qualified and experienced as you, so work out what you offer that others don’t. By thinking outside the job description, you can demonstrate how you’re a better candidate. Highlighting unique traits or experiences will set you apart. This is key in a competitive job market.
- Solve a problem. If you’ve researched the company well, you may identify a specific need or problem that’s driven this round of recruitment. Try to demonstrate previous success in a similar situation, or simply articulate an approach or an idea about how you’d begin to solve the problem.
“Why should we hire you?” is an important question to answer well, but try not to overthink it. While it’s a good idea to practise your pitch so you can deliver it smoothly, you don’t need to memorise it word for word or it will sound forced. Have a general idea of what you’d like to say, but remain open to addressing additional issues or information that arises during the interview. Talk for no longer than two minutes and aim to cover three main points.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
The transformational impact of technology on people, processes and businesses is never ending. We have never been more connected globally and new technologies are emerging every day, so the skills you’ll need for the jobs of the future aren’t necessarily those that you use today. What skills will you need?
The jobs of today are very different to those of our parents and grandparents, so where will we be 20 years from now? And how can we make sure we’re still employable? As new jobs emerge, others become obsolete. It can be a challenge to stay ahead, but ensuring your knowledge and skills remain current and marketable is an important career move. Here are some of the key job skills we think you’ll need for the future.
- Tech know-how: Proficiency with technology is now expected in most jobs. Think about how a GP uses technology today compared to 10 or 20 years ago. The use of mobile technology has also dramatically increased, and the globalisation of many markets means that working with technology rather than against it is key. The more flexible you are in navigating these changes, and in becoming proficient in using new technology, the easier your work life will be.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: The future will have problems we’ve never experienced. The ability to think outside the box, see the big picture, analyse different situations, rearrange information to identify explanations and make decisions on the fly will put you in a great position.
- Creativity: We know that workers with creative-thinking and imagination skills will remain in demand. Examples include jobs where you need to create original content, manage others and/or interact with stakeholders, think unconventionally, or apply expertise to make decisions or innovate. Creativity isn’t limited to traditional artistic pursuits such as art, music and writing. In this context, it’s about innovation and resourcefulness – the ability to pull together disparate information and conceive viable solutions and approaches.
- Adaptability: The ability to quickly change, develop new skills, take on new responsibilities and work with automation or machines is important. Having flexibility to move to other areas will drive future career success, and acquiring the necessary skills or retraining in other areas will be your responsibility.
- Information analysis: In our current information age, we generate more data than we know what to do with. While access to the information we collect has significantly improved in recent times, the ability to analyse it through a critical lens to come up with meaningful observations that drive decisions is key.
- People skills and collaboration: While technology will eventually take over many areas, human interaction will never disappear, so the ability to work with people will remain important. Success will require you to ask questions, listen, interpret needs and work cooperatively with others. Learning how to use new communication and collaboration platforms will also be vital.
- SMAC: You’ve probably heard of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) is fairly new. Learning how to leverage these platforms in your daily work will help you stand out in the future job market.
- Cultural acumen: The modern workplace is full of remote employees, global offices and flexible contracts. For many of us, our workday reality is living in one country and working virtually with people in other parts of the world. Being able to understand and appreciate cultural differences and social interaction will be essential.
- Networking: Most experts agree that networking and word of mouth will be more important in securing jobs in the future. While networking is not new, technological advances mean the way we do it is vastly different to 10 years ago. Keep track of everyone you meet, stay in touch, join professional networking groups and take advantage of LinkedIn.
Are you always listening, learning and planning? Continuous learning of new skills is essential for job success in the future. Take on new responsibilities, remain flexible, embrace our rapidly changing world and use any setbacks as learning experiences. That way, you’ll find yourself in the best position to capitalise on opportunities as they arise.
Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your skillset to create your dream career? Or perhaps you’d like some help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our Services.
If you think your storytelling skills are only useful for getting the kids off to sleep, think again. The ability to tell great stories can also be a powerful tool for career success. Storytelling is useful in many different scenarios – from interviews, to getting approval for a special project, to motivating and managing people. It can be a powerful way to engage and persuade.
Storytelling goes back millions of years. Sharing experiences, passing down lessons and communicating to understand each other is storytelling. Doing this in the workplace isn’t new, but doing it well takes some thought and preparation. Storytelling can be used to persuade, entertain, move and motivate people – and it’s a much more interesting way for your audience to consume information.
It’s particularly useful where the subject matter is complex or dry – stories can be used to invoke enthusiasm and excitement that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. Say you were providing a performance update to the company – rather than presenting facts and figures to demonstrate results, you could share a story of how a team member worked successfully with a client. Storytelling can also be useful when communicating with customers. Tell them a story about how you solved another client’s problem and your message becomes more compelling. Likewise, if you’re running an event or encouraging people to buy something from you, a story they can relate to can help them make a positive decision.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have led an exciting life to be a great storyteller. Storytelling is simply about making a connection with your audience. A story about everyday life told well can be as engaging as a story about a significant life achievement. Drawing your audience in and invoking a feeling of shared experience or opinion is what’s important. So how do you do it?
- Understand your audience: The first crucial step is knowing your audience. Who are they, what are they looking for and how much knowledge do they already have about the topic you’re discussing? How will they be receiving the information – for example in a written report, through video, via a phone conference? This will help set the key themes and tone for your story.
- Make your audience care: Understand why your audience should or would be interested in your story and then make sure those messages shine through. What is the purpose of telling the story? What would you like the audience to understand or take away? Be creative but always come back to your purpose.
- Set the scene: Be descriptive about timing and location to help capture your audience’s attention. Set the scene well and provide context for your story. By anchoring your audience in a place and time they will be more interested in reading on or listening through until the end.
- Develop your plot: Something must happen in your story, so give it a beginning, middle and end. Great stories also often have a climax (maybe a challenging situation or defining decision) that is then resolved.
- Include detail: Make your story interesting with anecdotes and small, specific details that paint a picture and prevent the audience from becoming bored.
- Keep it simple: Don’t get carried away with details though – keeping it simple is important too. Stories don’t have to be complex to be interesting; sometimes the simplest stories are the most successful, but only if your audience finds it useful (remember your purpose).
- Use visual elements: When presenting using PowerPoint or even within written articles, use simple graphics and images if you can. Stay away from complex graphs and charts and big blocks of text. A single picture or infographic with some related words could more easily convey your message – and is more likely to be remembered by your audience.
- Deliver your punchline: Great storytelling is like telling a joke – you need to know when to wrap it up and ideally finish with a bang. Evoke emotion in your audience by delivering an unexpected or inspiring ending. Or you could ask a question or leave something open-ended to create suspense for a continuation of the story or a related theme at another time.
- Practise: Your audience will know if you’re under-prepared, and you’ll run the risk of rambling, resulting in a story that doesn’t engage your audience. Craft your story first and practise presenting it in front of a friendly audience for feedback.
Storytelling can help you to convey information to your audience in interesting and memorable ways. Use stories in your work to create connections, evoke emotion and encourage action.
Our highly experienced Career Coaches have many stories to tell! If you’re looking for ways to improve your career, they can help. Find out about our Career Counselling and Coaching. If it’s time for the next chapter in your career, a customised job search strategy is a powerful tool. Learn more about Job Search Coaching.
This is the first article in our brand new series ‘How to answer’, which explores the best ways to answer specific interview questions. This month we look at the recruiter’s all-time favourite, “Tell me about yourself”. This seemingly simple question can stump candidates who aren’t sure which details to share about their personal and professional background, and how much information to provide.
Our best advice for answering this question is to be prepared for it and keep your response simple and relevant. This question is often asked early on and can set the tone for the entire interview. Read on for our key tips for success.
If you aren’t prepared, you run the risk of rambling on without actually saying much, and skipping important details, which could jeopardise your chances. So take some time to think through your response before the interview.
- Instead of just summarising your resume, go through the job description in detail and identify the skills, experience and qualifications needed to succeed in the role. Think about how your expertise relates to this job and then pinpoint ways to demonstrate capacity in those areas.
- Keep your response concise by preparing a summary that you can recite in around two minutes. If you include enough topics of interest, the recruiter can ask you to expand on certain areas if they wish.
- Instead of listing multiple, vague strengths, use examples to demonstrate your relevant capabilities. Short, sharp stories about what you did, how you did it and what the outcome was work well. These examples should ideally come from recent work experience, but you can also include volunteer experience or student projects or activities if necessary.
A recruiter or employer probably isn’t interested in your life story, but they are interested in hearing how your professional experience and background makes you an ideal candidate for the role.
- Avoid mentioning personal information such as marital status, children, and political and religious beliefs. These details aren’t necessary for an employer to determine whether you can perform a role, and they can be sensitive topics that may impact an employer’s personal opinion of you. You can talk a little about personal interests, but only if it has some relevance to the role or the personal skills required to succeed.
- Don’t rush into talking about what you are seeking in a role or how the company might benefit you. Save that for if you’re asked, or mention it in the final stages of the interview.
Structuring your response:
An ideal way to construct your response to the question “Tell me about yourself” is to focus on present, past and future. This will help you organise your thoughts.
- PRESENT – Start talking about what you’re doing (and achieving) in your current role. List your areas of responsibility that relate directly to the role you’re applying for, and highlight recent successes. Use statistics, numbers and other hard measures of success where you can, with specific details that demonstrate the value you’re adding. You might say something like: “In my current business development manager role for <Company> I’m responsible for leading a team of four people to support a portfolio of 400 national clients. I’m accountable for achieving sales targets and KPIs, and have consistently exceeded my sales targets since starting in the role five years ago. I’ve also initiated and developed several strategic partnerships to drive industry engagement, built the team from one to four, and managed revenue growth in the region from $3 million to $5 million.”
- PAST – Next, talk about what you’ve done in previous roles, again not going into too much detail but focusing on relevant experience/achievements and how you’ve grown. You might say: “Previously, I worked as an account manager for <Company> with a focus on the media and entertainment sector. I developed a fantastic professional network within some of the largest media companies in Australia, which I’d be able to leverage in this role.”
- FUTURE – Finish with a statement about why you’re looking for a new role and what it is about this role that appeals. You might say something like: “I’ve been working towards a role like this for several years now. I feel I’ve gained enough success in this market to progress into a more focused account management role. I’m excited about this role at <Company> and the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with fewer, larger clients.”
“Tell me about yourself” can be a surprisingly tricky question to answer well. Remember to focus on the experiences and skills that are most relevant to the role and company you’re interviewing for. Ask yourself what you’d most like the recruiter to remember about you and focus on that. A well-thought-out answer will create a good first impression and set you up for a positive interview experience.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
Your first few weeks in a new role are usually exciting, but they can also be overwhelming. You’re meeting new people, learning how the company operates and trying to align with your new workplace culture. Setting yourself up for success really does begin from day one.
Accepting the offer is just the beginning. Starting a new job usually means a big learning curve – and that can apply to a new role within the same company as well as in a new organisation. It’s often fast paced and full of new things. Success in your new role will rely on you making a great impression, but you also need to learn about your new workplace, the people within it and how you fit in. Here’s some survival tips.
- Introduce yourself to everyone: As a newbie, you’ll need to build your reputation and credibility by developing good relationships with different people. Take some time to get to know people, and if you’re not confident introducing yourself, come up with a standard description of who you are and what you do. Ask your manager for a list of colleagues you should be acquainted with and set up quick one-on-ones to run through your role and learn about what they do. Approach people in the kitchen, lunch room or before or after group meetings to introduce yourself, but try not to hold them up if they appear hurried or distracted.
- Be a listener: Research indicates that new employees who ask lots of questions perform better. By asking specific questions and really listening to the answers, you’ll improve your chances of becoming competent quickly. Prioritise what you need to know and work out the best person to help you. If you’re not 100% clear on your question, flag it to come back to later.
- Find a friend: It’s important to have someone who helps you understand the lay of the land. This doesn’t mean you have to find your new best friend during the first week. But seeking out someone you can relate to in the short term will provide some stability and help you feel more comfortable as you’re getting to know your new workplace. This isn’t so much about company rules and regulations, but more about the culture, general office politics and etiquette, which can often take time to learn. Your new friend can help you work out where to eat lunch and have breaks, and how to take advantage of any amenities or perks offered. It’s great to find someone helpful whose advice you can seek from time to time but be careful not to overwhelm them with requests or take up too much of their time.
- Understand what’s expected: Be cautious about being overly keen to offer help. 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 focus on. By all means offer assistance to others where appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and don’t be overly critical of the way things are done – yet. You were hired for a reason, so learn exactly where you fit and the value you’re expected to add. This will be essential for your success.
- Clarify communications: Organisations and individuals have varying expectations regarding communications and it’s important you adapt to existing behaviours quickly. Work out what people do to communicate on different issues. Do people mostly connect 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 then and there? Does your supervisor expect constant updates on every detail or just a heads-up on major projects or issues?
- Try to remember names: Repeat people’s names back to them, then write a quick note about your interaction after parting. If you do forget someone’s name, be honest – it’s fine to admit that you’ve been overwhelmed with information in your early days. Simply say, “I’m sorry, can you please remind me of your name?” and all is likely to be forgiven.
- Remain open: Being able to embrace change is important. Wanting to do things the way you’ve always done them may not serve you well in these early days. In your new workplace, things will be done in ways that you may not be comfortable with. Be flexible enough to embrace new approaches and be prepared to change your mind about initial impressions or decisions.
Nobody expects you to master your new domain within a month, but making a positive impression, working hard and remaining focused is important. Be proactive about getting involved in new projects, asking for more work and presenting new ideas. Request feedback so you know what to improve on and talk to your boss about any interests or worries you may have – they are heavily invested in your success as well!
Do you need some help with the next step in your career? Our career advisors are experts in their field and provide comprehensive career counselling. We also have experienced writers who can help you create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice.
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