Category Archives: Career Advice Blog

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.

When are you happiest at work?

Article by Belinda Fuller

When are you happiest at workFollowing on from last month’s article which suggested some resources to help mature age workers succeed in our ever changing working environment, recent research from recruitment firm, Robert Half, provides some insight into the impact our age can have on our happiness at work.

According to a recent survey conducted of 2000 workers, employees aged over 55 are happiest and those aged in their 20s and 30s are among the least happy in the Australian workforce today. Statistics aren’t everything, however anecdotally many of our consultants working with clients on a day-to-day basis would agree.

While people in their 20s and 30s can be just starting out in their careers, they’re often looking for excitement, challenge and fulfilment that is hard to find. On the other hand, older workers are more likely to have found what they’re looking for, or managed to achieve the work-life balance they desire.

Here are some interesting statistics from the Robert Half survey:

What age group is happiest at work?

  • Workers over the age of 55 are the happiest employees with a score of 70 on a scale from 0 to 100
  • Employees aged 35-54 are the least happy in the Australian workplace with a score of 67
  • This was closely followed by employees aged 18-34 with a score of 68

What age group has the highest professional fulfilment levels?

  • 82% of employees over the age of 55 found their work worthwhile
  • That percentage dropped significantly to around 66% for workers aged 18 to 34
  • 70% of workers aged 35-54 found their work fulfilling

What age group has the highest stress levels?

  • One in three employees aged 18-34 said they found their job stressful
  • 29% of those aged 35-54 reported stress
  • For employees aged 55 and over, 26% reported that their job was stressful

Who is satisfied with their work-life balance?

  • 67% of Australian employees aged over 55
  • 59% of employees aged 35-54
  • 57% of employees aged 18-34

Who finds their work interesting?

  • 75% of employees aged over 55
  • 66% of employees aged 35 to 54
  • 62% of employees aged 18-34

In recent years, it has become huge business to try to discover the secret to employee satisfaction, as companies recognise the benefits of achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. If you are not happy at work, make some plans to change things. Here are some articles to help you on your way.

Are you happy at work? Would you be interested in obtaining some career counselling to help you decide on a new career path or course to improve your happiness at work? If so, please see our Career Coaching services.

121 words to get your resume noticed

Article by Belinda Fuller

121 words to get your Resume noticedWhether you’re a sales rep or tradesperson, nurse, administrative assistant, or CEO, there are words you can use to describe what you do that are more impactful than others. In today’s job market, recruiters can receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so what can you do to get your resume noticed? 

You need to stand out if you want to secure your next role, and using the same old words to describe what you do and the value you add is not the way to achieve that. When you’re writing your resume, ensure that the content is short, sharp and compelling. It should clearly sell you and your unique skill set as a viable candidate for the roles you are applying for.

We often liken resumes to sales proposals on YOU! It’s essential to highlight key skills, qualifications and experience in a way that demonstrates value to a potential employer. It should be packed full of easy-to-read facts and achievements. So get clear on exactly what you want and then work out what you’ve achieved previously that demonstrates the value you will add to a future employer.

Then, when writing your content, instead of using standard words to describe what you did, use some of these action-oriented and positive words that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Words to use when you saved the company money or time:

  1. Accelerated
  2. Boosted
  3. Centralised
  4. Consolidated
  5. Converted
  6. Customised
  7. Decreased
  8. Expanded
  9. Integrated
  10. Merged
  11. Overhauled
  12. Reconciled
  13. Reduced
  14. Rehabilitated
  15. Reorganised
  16. Replaced
  17. Restructured
  18. Simplified
  19. Standardised
  20. Streamlined
  21. Yielded

Words to use when you improved something:

  1. Altered
  2. Changed
  3. Clarified
  4. Diagnosed
  5. Enhanced
  6. Enriched
  7. Invigorated
  8. Perfected
  9. Progressed
  10. Redesigned
  11. Refined
  12. Revamped
  13. Revitalised
  14. Transformed

Words to describe experience with projects:

  1. Created
  2. Designed
  3. Developed
  4. Devised
  5. Drove
  6. Established
  7. Founded
  8. Improved
  9. Initiated
  10. Introduced
  11. Invented
  12. Launched
  13. Pioneered
  14. Spearheaded

Words to describe experience with teams:

  1. Aligned
  2. Coached
  3. Conducted
  4. Demonstrated
  5. Informed
  6. Instructed
  7. Led
  8. Mentored
  9. Strengthened
  10. Trained
  11. Transformed

Words to use if you work with partners and/or customers:

  1. Advised
  2. Advocated
  3. Arbitrated
  4. Coached
  5. Consulted
  6. Educated
  7. Facilitated
  8. Informed
  9. Supported

Words to describe experience with data and/or information:

  1. Analysed
  2. Assessed
  3. Audited
  4. Calculated
  5. Categorised
  6. Classified
  7. Compiled
  8. Composed
  9. Critiqued
  10. Drafted
  11. Identified
  12. Integrated
  13. Interpreted
  14. Investigated
  15. Leveraged
  16. Monitored
  17. Qualified
  18. Quantified
  19. Recorded
  20. Researched
  21. Revised

Words to describe general work characteristics:

  1. Accurate
  2. Active
  3. Adaptable
  4. Articulate
  5. Capable
  6. Committed
  7. Competent

Words to describe general work duties or responsibilities:

  1. Altered
  2. Arranged
  3. Developed
  4. Directed
  5. Evaluated
  6. Formulated
  7. Ordered
  8. Planned
  9. Prepared

Words to use instead of achieved:

  1. Accomplished
  2. Attained
  3. Awarded
  4. Carried out
  5. Completed
  6. Conquered
  7. Demonstrated
  8. Exceeded
  9. Outdid
  10. Outperformed
  11. Realised
  12. Succeeded
  13. Surpassed
  14. Targeted
  15. Topped

Next time you update your resume, try swapping out some of the more common words with some stronger, more compelling language to help you stand out to recruiters. Use our list to get started, and review your documents for repetition – use a thesaurus to identify other alternatives.

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

23 quick Resume changes you can make today

Article by Belinda Fuller

23 quick Resume changes you can make todayThere’s always room for improvement! But so often, the people we meet just don’t have the time that’s necessary to bring their Resume up to scratch. Spending a couple of hours once a year updating your Resume and LinkedIn profile will pay dividends in the long run, and there are lots of simple small changes you can make today.

Taking time out to really clean up your Resume prior to beginning the job search process can pay huge dividends with your results. If you are applying for new roles and not hearing back, make some of these quick small changes to ensure your resume is catching recruiters’ eyes.

  1. Correct errors: Use the spelling and grammar checker in whatever application you’ve used to create your document to pick up errors, but make sure you read and re-read your application to pick up mistakes.
  2. Read it out loud: Printing out your Resume and reading it out loud helps more easily identify mistakes that may slip through the automated spell checker, or when reviewing content on a screen. It also helps you to identify clunky/hard to read sentences. Better yet, have someone else review it for you.
  3. Save it as a PDF: If your resume is in any other format, you can’t guarantee it will be viewed as you see it. Often the formatting looks fine on your screen, but doesn’t if opened by someone with a different software system. Saving as a PDF prevents this issue and ensures your document appears in a consistent way regardless of the system used.
  4. Name your file: Change the name of your Resume to <first name> <last name> Resume. That way, recruiters can quickly and easily identify you and your relevant material.
  5. Ensure readability: Use a common, clean font that is easy to read. Increase line spacing and font size if space allows. Add headings, sub-headings and bullet points and ensure formatting is consistent and pleasant to the eye. Consider adding some colour to make your format pop, and use the same design for your resume and cover letter to make your ‘brand’ consistent.
  6. Clarify content: The first person to review your resume might not be as knowledgeable about what you do as you are. It could be an assistant or a recruiter with general, not specific industry knowledge – so make it readable, relevant, and interesting regardless of the reader’s level of expertise.
  7. Include social links: Include links to your LinkedIn profile and other professional social media pages. Recruiters will search for and find you on social media regardless of how complete your profiles are, so optimising these and then including links just makes it easier for them to do their job.
  8. Activate hyperlinks: It’s likely that your resume will be read on a screen, so by making your email address, LinkedIn and other social profile links clickable – you’ll ensure its easy for the recruiter to learn more about you.
  9. Exclude irrelevant information: Since it’s illegal for employers to consider certain aspects when reviewing your application – you should delete them. This includes your gender, date of birth, marital status, and religion.
  10. Delete your high school information: Unless you finished high school in the last few years and you have very little work experience, there’s no need to include it.
  11. Place education after experience: Again, unless you’re a very recent graduate, chances are your recent work experience has more bearing on whether or not you’re right for the role. While recruiters might want to know you have a degree, it’s often not the most important aspect.
  12. Update your key skills: Ensure your skills and personal attributes are grouped under a section called ‘key skills’ or ‘key capabilities’. Remove anything outdated and ensure your skills match the requirements of the roles you are applying for.
  13. Remove acronyms: You shouldn’t assume that recruiters will understand what you’re talking about. Always spell out acronyms regardless of how common they are within your industry.
  14. Get rid of clutter: Unless you are a graphic designer, keep it simple. Remove photos and busy visual elements which usually just distract from the necessary information. Use bold, larger font sizes, dividers, and bullet points to delineate new sections and highlight specific content.
  15. Consolidate multiple positions in one company: If you held multiple positions in the same company, but they were similar, group them. For example, if you were promoted from an assistant to a manager – list the role as manager and state “promoted from assistant in <month> <year>” as an achievement. If the roles were quite different, list them separately. If you held several ‘acting’ roles – list them as bullets under your substantive or ‘regular’ role.
  16. Leave out irrelevant history: As a general rule, go back approximately ten years with detail, and then only include a brief summary of previous roles if highly relevant.
  17. Reduce lines that only contain one word: Go through your Resume and find ways to eliminate lines with only one word in them. Try editing previous lines to prevent this happening. It makes the document look cleaner and frees up extra space.
  18. Adjust the tense: Make sure tense and context is consistent. Generally, previous roles should be described in past tense and current roles in current tense, but whatever way you choose, just make it consistent.
  19. Focus on achievements: Clearly identify your value by focusing on how your company benefited by you doing what you did. This shows a potential employer how they might benefit by recruiting you.
  20. Quantify accomplishments: Where you can, include numbers and percentages or other ways to quantify achievements (estimates are OK but always be prepared to back these up in an interview if asked).
  21. Check punctuation: Again consistency is key – for easy reading as well as to show professionalism. Check the use of full stops, bullets, commas, colons, semi-colons, headings, sub-headings etc. and ensure consistency throughout.
  22. Ensure content is up-to-date: Make sure your most current information is referenced, including recently completed or in progress study, new awards and role accomplishments, newly developed skills, presentations you’ve given, or articles you’ve had published.
  23. Ask for help: Ask a few friends or professional contacts if you can view their resume for inspiration. Alternatively, ask them if they’ll review yours and provide you with their feedback.

Alternatively, why not enlist the help of a professional resume writer who can help you maximise your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? Our Resume Writers have been selectively hand-picked from around the country. They are professional writers with extensive experience writing resumes, cover letters, bios and selection criteria responses for both the public and private sectors.

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

Helpful resources for mature age workers

Article by Belinda Fuller

Helpful resources for mature age workersWith life expectancy on the rise, most people are wanting (or needing) to stay in the workforce longer to boost their retirement savings and ensure their financial future. But for many workers, this means a change in attitudes, retraining, and development of new skills to ensure they are not left behind in our ever changing digital and global world.

This drive for older workers to maintain their skills and develop new ones will ensure they remain competitive in the workplace for as long as they need to work. While in the past, many people expected to retire around 60, this is now no longer the case. In recognition of our ageing population, the federal government has already announced a rise in the retirement age to 67, which is due for implementation by 2023 and designed to reduce the impact on welfare.

So what are the main areas mature age workers need to focus on? Most experts agree that the ability to adapt, change and be flexible are key aspects that will determine an older worker’s ability to remain in the workforce. In addition, technical capabilities will be important. To succeed in the current and future period of digital disruption and globalisation, workers need to constantly up-skill to remain relevant.

Older workers should also develop transferable skills so capabilities can be adjusted and relevant ‘sideways’ moves can be made if necessary – particularly where industries shrink, collapse, or even become obsolete. This also requires older workers to think more creatively in terms of the type of work they might be able to do, as well as being prepared to work in completely different areas to what they’ve been used to.

People who are happy to retrain and upskill are those most likely to be in demand and highly active until they choose to retire. Many courses can be undertaken online today – for free or at a very low cost. They can be completed as short courses over a period of days or weeks, instead of longer post-graduate study that people might think of when they consider training and development.

List of Helpful Resources

Career transition assistance: As part of the Government’s Working Age Payment Reforms, a Career Transition Assistance Program will be trialled in five regions around Australia, before being rolled out nationally from July 2020. The program provides opportunities for mature age people to reskill and become more competitive in the job market. Participants in the program will be able to boost their skills, learn new job-search techniques and better understand local labour markets. The trial commences in July 2018 in various areas around Australia.

Older workers: A site dedicated to job listings from age-friendly employers who are specifically searching for older workers.

CoAct: A national network of employment agencies that can help mature age workers to re-enter the job market after an extended period of time away, or change careers.

Mature workers / care careers: A site that welcomes mature aged workers to the disability, community and aged care sectors.

Small business assistance: As a mature worker, you may be in an ideal position to establish your own consultancy or small business. This site provides everything you need to know – including business setup advice, taxation obligations, financial and insurance information, general business planning, information on employing people, grants and assistance, and a vast array of other useful facts.

Open2Study: This site provides access to a variety of free courses that can be studied online.

MOOC: A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a free online course available to anyone wanting to take it. They are similar to online courses in terms of teaching and learning methods using videos, group chats, assignments and tests but they do not generally provide academic credit for use in other traditional courses, nor will you have much (if any) interaction with the lecturer. They are a great option if you don’t want to commit to a long term study option or would like to ‘try before you buy’.

Australian Government – mature age workers: This Australian Government webpage details information and articles on some of the support and resources available to mature age workers.

Restart – Department of Employment: This site provides information about the Australian Government’s financial incentives available to businesses to encourage them to hire and retrain employees who are 50 years of age and over.

As a mature age worker, you have a lot to offer. Both the government and businesses are slowly starting to recognise this. Tapping into the experience and success of older workers makes good business sense for most, and ensuring as many of our growing pool of older people are employed in the Australian economy, for as long as they are able to be, makes good economic sense.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also offer LinkedIn Profile Writing Services with experienced writers who can help you network and connect with like-minded industry experts and ensure your profile sets you apart from your competitors.

How to leverage digital technology to apply for your next role

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to leverage digital technology to apply for your next roleThere’s no doubt the digital revolution has impacted every part of our personal and professional lives – in fact its effect is so significant that it’s hard to imagine life before it. With technology now playing a major role in recruitment – both in allowing companies to find candidates, and candidates to find jobs, it can be daunting to make sense of it all.

Securing a role today is nothing like it was in the past. With almost every application process involving some kind of digital technology – most job search action happens online. Since the recruiter is unlikely to meet you until you’re invited for an interview, it makes sense to pay attention to every part of this process to ensure success. From searching, to applying, and following up after the interview, here’s our tips on leveraging technology to help you succeed.

  • Optimise your resume: Using one standard resume with no customisation is not recommended. Tailor content to suit the role – reorganise material to address the most important skills, attributes and accomplishments first; make sure to address all the requirements of the role; and ensure inclusion of ‘keywords’ relating to the job and ad. Even where Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’) are used, your resume will be read by a recruiter after being selected by an ATS, so it also needs to read well from a human perspective and not just be stuffed with keywords. Make sure there are no spelling errors and always send or attach your Resume in the correct file format specified by the company recruiting.
  • Review your online presence: In addition to your resume, cover letter, and any other physical application material, recruiters can easily explore your background more proactively, so your online presence should be optimised. The first place to ensure optimisation is LinkedIn, however we also recommend reviewing avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, personal blogs and other social media to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects. If you are expressing strong opinions and/or sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. Perhaps more importantly, recruiters also use social media to find the positives – searching for cultural fit through various aspects of your life and activities. I’ve heard stories of recruiters having two or three equal candidates but narrowing it down to the ideal candidate based on social media profile reviews. It therefore makes sense to tidy up photos and content that may be offensive or suggestive to others, adjust privacy settings, think about what might make you stand out from the crowd, and include positive hobbies, interests, volunteer work, or charities you support.
  • Develop your brand: We’ve spoken before about the importance of thinking of yourself as a brand and maintaining consistency with your message throughout your job search tools. Whether you’re self-employed or not, defining, building, and promoting a recognisable and consistent personal brand that sets you apart will help raise your profile and make you more marketable. For more information on developing your own personal brand, see the following articles: 5 tips to build your personal brand and How to build your personal brand, or search ‘personal brand’ on the Katie Roberts Career Advice Blog.
  • Conduct your own research: Most companies have websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social profiles. Take time to research companies you’d like to work for. Engage with them and immerse yourself in their culture by following them on social media. This is a great way to get to know the company before you get to the interview stage. You can also research current employees on LinkedIn to gain a better understanding of their backgrounds and skillsets. We also advise clients to research a variety of different job sites to review appealing jobs and identify the key skills and attributes necessary for success.
  • Set up your job alerts: You can quickly and easily set up job alerts with all the major job search sites, as well as many major companies. This ensures you don’t miss any viable opportunities and you also have the option to establish a personal profile which can be viewed by potential employers who then make contact with you.
  • Tap into your network: Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. Use LinkedIn, join online networking groups, alert your Facebook friends, or make a funny post on Instagram about your job hunt. Don’t forget other non-digital ways to connect with your network as well – and make sure to use them all.
  • Track your progress: Being organised is a key factor in achieving success. Create a folder accessible from anywhere and save copies of resumes and cover letters you can tailor for specific opportunities. Since job ads are often removed before the interview, it’s important to keep a copy of this as well so you can reference it if you’re successful in securing an interview. Track jobs you’ve applied for and whether or not you’ve heard back. Include information like job title, company name, contact information, and any important information you identified or discovered during your initial research.
  • Follow up your application: Don’t be afraid to follow up with an email, a call or a LinkedIn connection request. I once secured a lucrative contract opportunity simply by requesting to connect with the owner of a business that had advertised a role six weeks previously. I included a brief note saying I’d applied and assumed the position had been filled, but wanted to connect in case any similar opportunities arose in the future. I briefly reminded the contact of my key skills and she called me within 15 minutes of receiving my request. She had been extremely busy, had exhausted her initial first priority candidate pool and hadn’t got around to reviewing initial applicants again to identify further potentials. This was part luck, but also effort on my part. My contact told me that my proactive follow up appealed to her and the fact that I’d gone to the trouble of reminding her of my skillset and doing so through LinkedIn meant she could quickly review my profile and see where my skills would fit before giving me a call to chat.

Companies today receive more applications for roles than they ever have before, with the ease of digital technology broadening the talent pool beyond traditional limitations. While these developments do mean increasing competition for you – it also means a whole new world of possibility when applying for roles. Make sure to leverage digital technology to your advantage.

Are you confused about how to leverage digital technology to apply for your next role? Not sure where to start? If so, see our LinkedIn Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.

7 tips for finding a job in Australia

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 tips for finding a job in AustraliaIf you’re searching for a new job in Australia, but don’t have any local experience, you might be finding it difficult to secure interviews. “No local experience” might mean you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of our local laws and business regulations, but it might also mean you have good skills – it’s just that the recruiter doesn’t understand your overseas successes and their local relevance.

Depending on whether or not you’ve already arrived in Australia will dictate your approach. If you haven’t yet made the move, and you’re applying for roles from another country – inform the recruiter of your plans. While it isn’t always necessary to be in Australia to receive a job offer, your chances are certainly higher. It helps if you have firm plans about when you are moving, an address, residency or right to work details etc. – so make sure to include these in your application.

If you’ve already arrived in Australia – follow these simple tips to give yourself the best possible chance in the job market:

  1. Network: Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with, then let them know you are seeking opportunities in Australia. You can do this via phone calls, emails, face-to-face catch-ups, and social media. Connect with people in your industry through LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media. Attend industry events and relevant seminars, join a local industry association, and search for internships or other unpaid work experience opportunities. Use LinkedIn to its full capacity – ensure your content is comprehensive and up to date, follow companies you’d like to work for and influential people in your industry, as well as joining relevant groups and forums. Post responses to questions to build your name and demonstrate your industry expertise – this will help you develop local networks.
  2. Review your resume: Ensure it conforms to Australian standards which focuses more around accomplishments and what you achieved in previous roles as opposed to day-to-day ‘responsibilities’ in isolation. Provide information about the company, the challenges, market demands, and competitors – anything that shows context or scope of roles you held, because local recruiters may not have any knowledge or understanding of your previous company in another country. Translate revenue, budget or other financial data to Australian dollars and make other relevant comparisons. Ensure overseas qualifications are applicable and understood. Depending where you worked, you could approach similar or competitor organisations in Australia.
  3. Check your application for errors: Ensure your application materials (including LinkedIn or other online profiles) use Australian (not American) spelling, with correct grammar, and don’t include any expressions or language that is native to your country of origin. Potential employers will see your name and country, and they may assume certain things about your communication skills. If your Resume is poorly written, this fear might be confirmed, making it hard for you to secure an interview. It’s a great idea if you have any doubts to ask someone who was born in Australia to review your documents for their advice. Even better, enlist the support of a professional Resume Writer who has the experience and skills to prepare a winning job application and/or provide specific Job Search Coaching Services to help you succeed in the Australian market.
  4. Be persistent: Finding a job takes time. Finding a job when you have no local experience can take even longer. You need to be persistent while remaining positive and upbeat. Employ job search strategies that others don’t often use. Ideas include identifying and arranging a proactive meet-up with relevant recruiters, being open minded about job titles and discarding preconceived ideas about your ideal role, and accessing the hidden job market.
  5. Be flexible: If you are struggling to secure your ideal role, think about other types of work such as contract, freelance, job share, or part-time work. Register with agencies for temp work and remain available and enthusiastic. Often consultants are less fussy finding someone with the perfect background if it’s only short term. Once you have proven yourself, you may be offered a longer assignment or other opportunities could open up. At the very least, you can move on with local experience (and more confidence), and it’s a great way to build your local network.
  6. Brush up on your English: If English is your second language and you think it may be holding you back, take some classes and practise speaking as much as possible. If you do not feel confident over the phone, call someone you trust to practise. Ask them whether they can understand you and get them to give you tips on your approach, tone, speed etc. Australians sometimes use less direct questioning styles than other cultures and we don’t tend to speak as fast as some other cultures either. Understanding these differences and ensuring your communication matches will help you succeed.
  7. Conduct some research: Know the industry, the company, and the role you’re applying for. Identify people in your profession who you can ask for advice regarding how your overseas experience might translate to local success. When you’re submitting a specific application, mention something about the company in your cover letter and relate that back to your experience – that could be the key factor that ensures you stand out in the recruiter’s eye as a viable candidate.

Finally, be patient. You’re not alone and while you’re waiting to secure your first role, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of success. Don’t take your unsuccessful attempts personally, but instead remain upbeat, confident, and consistent.

Would you like assistance from a professional resume writer or coach to prepare a winning Resume or conduct a customised job search for your next application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and/or our Job Search Coaching Services.