How to decide if a career change is the best move

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

Step 1: Know your purpose

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

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

Step 2: Leverage your strengths

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

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

Step 3: Get support

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

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

Step 4: Do your research

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

Step 5: Look to the future

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

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

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

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

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

The job

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

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

The company

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

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

Your fit

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

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

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

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

 

How to create a portable career

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

Is the job-interview process changing?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is the job interview process changing?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.

 

How to use LinkedIn to find a job

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to use LinkedIn to find a jobIt’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.

 

7 signs it’s time to move on from your job

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 signs it’s time to move on from your job

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

How to answer: “Why should we hire you?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer Why should we hire youOur 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

 

9 skills you’ll need for the jobs of the future

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 skills you’ll need for the jobs of the futureThe 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

How to answer: “Tell me about yourself”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer Tell me about yourselfThis 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.

Preparation:

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Relevance:

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.

 

How to survive the first month in a new role

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to survive the first month in a new roleYour 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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