Category Archives: Career Counselling

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.

Storytelling for career success

Article by Belinda Fuller

Storytelling for career successIf you think your storytelling skills are only useful for getting the kids off to sleep, think again. The ability to tell great stories can also be a powerful tool for career success. Storytelling is useful in many different scenarios – from interviews, to getting approval for a special project, to motivating and managing people. It can be a powerful way to engage and persuade.

Storytelling goes back millions of years. Sharing experiences, passing down lessons and communicating to understand each other is storytelling. Doing this in the workplace isn’t new, but doing it well takes some thought and preparation. Storytelling can be used to persuade, entertain, move and motivate people – and it’s a much more interesting way for your audience to consume information.

It’s particularly useful where the subject matter is complex or dry – stories can be used to invoke enthusiasm and excitement that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. Say you were providing a performance update to the company – rather than presenting facts and figures to demonstrate results, you could share a story of how a team member worked successfully with a client. Storytelling can also be useful when communicating with customers. Tell them a story about how you solved another client’s problem and your message becomes more compelling. Likewise, if you’re running an event or encouraging people to buy something from you, a story they can relate to can help them make a positive decision.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have led an exciting life to be a great storyteller. Storytelling is simply about making a connection with your audience. A story about everyday life told well can be as engaging as a story about a significant life achievement. Drawing your audience in and invoking a feeling of shared experience or opinion is what’s important. So how do you do it?

  • Understand your audience: The first crucial step is knowing your audience. Who are they, what are they looking for and how much knowledge do they already have about the topic you’re discussing? How will they be receiving the information – for example in a written report, through video, via a phone conference? This will help set the key themes and tone for your story.
  • Make your audience care: Understand why your audience should or would be interested in your story and then make sure those messages shine through. What is the purpose of telling the story? What would you like the audience to understand or take away? Be creative but always come back to your purpose.
  • Set the scene: Be descriptive about timing and location to help capture your audience’s attention. Set the scene well and provide context for your story. By anchoring your audience in a place and time they will be more interested in reading on or listening through until the end.
  • Develop your plot: Something must happen in your story, so give it a beginning, middle and end. Great stories also often have a climax (maybe a challenging situation or defining decision) that is then resolved.
  • Include detail: Make your story interesting with anecdotes and small, specific details that paint a picture and prevent the audience from becoming bored.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t get carried away with details though – keeping it simple is important too. Stories don’t have to be complex to be interesting; sometimes the simplest stories are the most successful, but only if your audience finds it useful (remember your purpose).
  • Use visual elements: When presenting using PowerPoint or even within written articles, use simple graphics and images if you can. Stay away from complex graphs and charts and big blocks of text. A single picture or infographic with some related words could more easily convey your message – and is more likely to be remembered by your audience.
  • Deliver your punchline: Great storytelling is like telling a joke – you need to know when to wrap it up and ideally finish with a bang. Evoke emotion in your audience by delivering an unexpected or inspiring ending. Or you could ask a question or leave something open-ended to create suspense for a continuation of the story or a related theme at another time.
  • Practise: Your audience will know if you’re under-prepared, and you’ll run the risk of rambling, resulting in a story that doesn’t engage your audience. Craft your story first and practise presenting it in front of a friendly audience for feedback.

Storytelling can help you to convey information to your audience in interesting and memorable ways. Use stories in your work to create connections, evoke emotion and encourage action.

Our highly experienced Career Coaches have many stories to tell! If you’re looking for ways to improve your career, they can help. Find out about our Career Counselling and Coaching. If it’s time for the next chapter in your career, a customised job search strategy is a powerful tool. Learn more about Job Search Coaching.

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.

17 podcasts to inspire career success

Article by Belinda Fuller

17 podcasts to inspire career success

Podcasts can provide great inspiration across a range of areas. These convenient, bite-sized chunks of content are also a good way to up-skill or improve your knowledge about various topics, since they’re usually delivered by people with a passion for, and deep understanding of, what they’re talking about.

Whether you’re looking for your first career, searching for major change, struggling with your current role, interested in starting a business or just need inspiration and motivation, there is something for everyone! Here’s a few of our favourites.

Career Tools: A weekly podcast focused on specific actions you can take to grow and enhance your career – no matter what industry or position you’re in. With topics ranging from communication to meeting performance, productivity, workload, asking for feedback, relationships, changing jobs and everything in between, there is sure to be something of interest.

How did you get into that?: Host Grant Baldwin interviews people from all walks of life who are doing interesting or amazing things to make a living. Each episode includes a story about someone who wanted something more from life and made it happen. You’ll find interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, speakers, writers, filmmakers, photographers, athletes, venture capitalists, Etsy sellers, comedians, nutritionists and more, across all different industries.

Beyond the To Do list: Struggling to juggle life and work? This award-nominated podcast features actionable tips from highly successful people that can help you choose the right projects, tasks and goals in work and life. Host Erik Fisher talks with real people who implement productivity strategies in their professional and personal lives.

Miss Independent: Focused on a female audience, Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017 and launched a podcast that features conversations with women in leadership and business. Natalie talks with a broad range of interesting, diverse and inspiring women in leadership and business. She discusses their successes and setbacks, as well as secrets and tips to inspire you to make your own career decision with confidence.

Flying Solo: This is a podcast for anyone starting or growing a small business. Host Robert Gerrish talks with inspiring soloists and expert guests on all things solo, micro and small business.

The Signal: Sometimes the news can feel overwhelming. This ABC Radio podcast helps to sort the news from the noise. It’s a quick (10-15 minute) dive into current news stories that matter, delivered every morning.

Business Women Australia Podcast: Another one focused on a female audience, this podcast is for ambitious women who are serious about business success and leadership development. It provides tips and ideas for those interested in building their knowledge and skills.

Happen to your career: Created for people who aren’t happy in their job, or need some guidance to find work they really love, this podcast helps people to match their strengths to work they will find interesting and meaningful.

Productivityist: Hosted by productivity expert Mike Vardy, this weekly podcast gives listeners tips, tricks, tactics and tools to improve productivity and time management in order to get things done.

The Good Work Revolution: This podcast looks at how you can feel fulfilled and make a positive impact through your work. Each episode includes reflections from different guests, or the host, Kate McCready, on how we can create ‘good work’. It explores people’s relationships with their work – how it influences fulfilment, wellbeing, engagement and a sense of contribution and connection. It’s also about lifting people up and helping them elevate their personal ability to have an impact – whether small and local or big and world changing.

The Tim Ferris Show: Author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris – best known for The 4-Hour Workweek (which has been translated into 40+ languages), hosts this podcast. In it, he interviews highly successful people and discovers the keys to their success. Guests provide some great tips and tricks that anyone can use to accelerate their work style.

The Jack Delosa Podcast: Founder of Australia’s largest and most disruptive education institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage, Jack Delosa also co-founded MBE Education, which helped SMEs raise money from investors. He’s been on the BRW Young Rich List since 2014 and is a two-time bestselling author. In The Jack Delosa Podcast, Jack answers questions about business, start-ups, entrepreneurship and the importance of mindset, and shares exclusive interviews with industry leaders and innovators.

Inspire Nation: A top self-help and spirituality show across 185 countries, this podcast features an inspiring new guest every day. Host Michael Sandler felt a calling to start his life-changing show after surviving two near-death accidents. The broad-ranging topics include how to find more energy, strength, happiness, peace, purpose, confidence, and heart to live your greatest life.

Behind the Media: The Australian’s media diarist Stephen Brook hosts this weekly podcast where he interviews journalists, writers, editors, presenters and other media careerists. This podcast is sometimes casual, sometimes serious but presents a diverse range of guests discussing the state of the media industry and their own careers.

Thought Capital: This is a relatively new podcast created by Monash Business School. Host Michael Pascoe delves into topics you probably won’t read about in the business pages. What’s the link between Big Data and election rigging? How can you identify the true ‘key players’ in an economic meltdown? Is there a ‘tax paradise’ and can you live there?

The Leadership Dojo: Hosted by Alex Barker, this podcast features interviews with some of the greatest and most inspirational leaders, from business CEOs to famous Olympic athletes to best-selling authors. Alex aims to help listeners learn success principles from leaders and how to apply them to daily life.

48 days to the work you love: This is a 48-minute weekly podcast hosted by US-based career expert and author Dan Miller, which helps listeners discover their true calling, find work they love, and explore business ideas and opportunities. Dan helps people overcome procrastination with a mission to foster the process of imagining, dreaming and introspection, so they can find purposeful and profitable daily work.

Podcasts are a great distraction during long commutes and there are plenty to choose from across every area of interest. Simply search on a topic and select from a list of top-ranked podcasts. For Australian-specific podcasts, check out the Australian Podcast Awards, an event that brings together podcasters to celebrate the medium’s ability to entertain, inspire and engage audiences worldwide. The site includes a list of annual winners and nominees across different categories to give you some listening inspiration.

Are you happy at work? Career counselling can be an invaluable tool for helping you explore your options and decide on a new career path or course. To find out how we can help, read about our career coaching services.

How to turn a side-hustle into a career

Article by Belinda Fuller

For the majority of people wanting to start a business, the reality of working a 9 to 5 job while side-hustling is real. If you’re in this position, don’t despair – in fact many experts believe that starting a new business while you’re still employed elsewhere gives you more chance of success. But how do you get that business to the point where it’s your career?

How to turn your side hustle into a career

Many people reading this article are probably working as an employee by day while trying to get their business off the ground at night. The fact is that many new businesses start off as side-hustles for their owners. Unless you’ve made a lot of money previously and managed to stash it away, there really isn’t any other choice. Here’s five traits we think you’ll want to leverage in order to achieve success:

Trait # 1 – Organisation: To turn a side-hustle into a full-time business while you’re still working will require strong organisation skills. In Lorraine Murphy’s book ‘Get Remarkably Organised’ she talks about the cornerstone of success at work and home as being organised – but this doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. Being organised can be as simple as developing some new habits that help prevent or address future problems. Lorraine talks a lot about being kind to your ‘future self’ and this really comes down to being organised enough that you’re thinking about ‘future you’ to predict and address these potential problems before they’ve even occurred. Some simple habits of organised people include: writing things down, diarising and scheduling tasks, making deadlines and sticking to them, not procrastinating, giving items a home and making sure you put them away, cleaning up regularly, living in an uncluttered way (that includes decluttering regularly and getting rid of the unnecessary), not accumulating more ‘stuff’, delegating some tasks, and making time for yourself (and sticking to it).

Trait # 2 – Time Management: There is a popular adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Now is definitely the time to work smarter not harder! Knowing how you spend your time is key to success since there are only 24 hours in the day. When you’re working a full-time job, eight of these are probably already taken. Add in commute time, eating, sleeping and all the other necessary tasks related to living and there aren’t many hours left to work on your business. We have talked before about managing time – with our previous article 10 Time Management Tips to Improve Your Productivity providing some more detail. Our general tips include planning your day, focusing on one thing at a time, establishing routines, setting deadlines, switching off technology, and saying no! If all else fails track how long you spend on certain tasks for a few days then eliminate, delegate, and consolidate where you can.

Trait # 3 – Process Focused: Having a structured plan and goal(s) is key to success. You need to know what your business looks like before you can do this – so take some time to define how your business needs to look in order for you to make it your full-time work. Then think about everything you need to do to get there. There are some great resources online to help with this. Many business planning articles online include lengthy business planning templates which isn’t necessarily the best option. Having a business plan that is clear, simple, and useful in helping you move forward is what you need. I love the website ‘Flying Solo’ for small business tips. There’s a whole section on business planning with a couple of articles that really caught my attention being ’Do I really need a business plan’ and the ’9 step business plan’ (see step 6 for a particularly relevant look at structure).

Trait # 4 – Decisiveness: ‘Just do it’ is a great concept and one that I love when it comes to business. A common trait amongst many successful business owners and entrepreneurs is that they take action with a sense of urgency and importance. When you are in the early business start-up phase, there isn’t really any room for procrastination. Whilst you don’t want to be impulsive or reckless, you do need to know how to prioritise, make decisions quickly, and take action immediately.

Trait # 5 – Ability to Change: An open-minded approach to constantly change, adapt and learn is essential in business. Never assume that you know everything and approach situations with a willingness to learn from the experience. The world is changing rapidly and to succeed in business today, you need to know so much more than you did 10 or even five years ago. The pace of technological change alone means the way we do things today is often replaced with something new and better tomorrow. In addition, new businesses are relatively easy to start up so competitors can pop up overnight. Understand and learn about new ideas around potential businesses, people skills, efficiency, and workflows – and most importantly be flexible to change and adapt whenever it makes sense.

The road to achieving a successful business can be difficult to begin with but like most other big things in life, it can be enormously rewarding. If you work hard and take some well thought out risks, you may be pleasantly surprised to see where your ‘side hustle’ takes you.

Are you thinking about starting your own business? Would you like advice from one of our career consultants? If so, please read more about our career consulting services.

Achieve better work-life balance without changing jobs

Article by Belinda Fuller

Achieve better work-life balance without changing jobsIf you’re unhappy in your job, like truly, truly unhappy bordering on depressed, then sometimes the best (or only) option is to quit, but often that’s just not an option. ’Work-life balance’ is an often used term with a large proportion of our clients citing it as the reason they are searching for a new role. But what exactly is it and can it be realistically achieved?

Many people admit to working more and more hours each week, which can take a toll on health, wellbeing, and overall happiness. Added to this, technology allows us to be connected 24/7, which makes it even more difficult to find that elusive work-life balance. The perfect work-life balance is different for everyone, however, for many people, a better balanced life can be achieved by making some fairly simple changes. Try these general tips to get you started:

TIP # 1 – Decide what’s important. Working less doesn’t mean better work-life balance for everyone. If you are happy with the amount of time you dedicate to each part of your life, you’ve probably achieved your best version of work-life balance. Decide on your priorities and communicate those to superiors, colleagues and family members. Think about what you’d like to do more (or less) of. Work out what you need to focus on and try to eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to that.

TIP # 2 – Establish working hours. Set boundaries for yourself and others. If you work from home, try to walk away from your office space at a set time every day. If you work outside of the home – try not to take work home unnecessarily. Of course, unplanned events will inevitably occur but trying to finish at the same time each day is a great idea. Likewise, make sure friends and family know not to interrupt you at work unless it’s an emergency. For most people, it would take a huge personal emergency to reschedule something important for work. Give your personal time the same respect and try not to ‘reschedule’ it for a work emergency unless it’s absolutely necessary.

TIP # 3 – Switch off technology. Don’t stay connected to work 24/7. If you’re spending time with your family or partner this is especially important. We need time to focus on personal relationships. Turning off technology for even just short periods of time allows us to give people our undivided attention which goes a long way towards improving work-life balance.

TIP # 4 – Track your time. Not all the time, but try it for a few days (try the Pomodoro technique). Tracking how much time you spend doing certain tasks will help you work out where you can save time. Rethink your approach if you believe that hours worked equates to productivity – just because you work 60-hour weeks doesn’t mean you are productive. Eliminate or delegate some tasks and you will be amazed at how much extra time you gain.

TIP # 5 – Try to schedule ‘time off’. This includes holidays and weekends. At a minimum you should try to schedule two weeks off annually and try not to work consistently on weekends. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been ‘staycations’. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. Or try a couple of ‘long weekends’ away throughout the year. We often get so caught up in day-to-day work that we miss all the fun stuff right under our noses. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged and will contribute to you achieving your best levels of productivity.

TIP # 6 – Schedule something enjoyable every day. For me that’s exercise most days. If that’s not for you, schedule something else you enjoy doing. It could be a quick walk with the dog or coffee catch up with a friend or colleague, some gardening, cooking, pottering in your workshop, meditation, or reading a book. It could simply be some quiet time to yourself doing nothing – it certainly doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming.

TIP # 7 – Look after yourself. Eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated and making sure you get enough exercise are all factors that will have a positive impact on your ability to achieve work-life balance. Getting good nutrition and exercise will help you feel happier and achieve higher levels of productivity in the long term.

TIP # 8 – Don’t sit still. Aim to get up from your desk at least every two hours. Try to do it before your concentration wanes and your attention flags. Get up, have a stretch, grab a glass of water, take a quick walk around the block for some fresh air – just do something that gives you a break from working and clears your head for the next task.

TIP # 9 – Create processes and systems. Things that you do repetitively – both at work and at home can be simplified through process. Think about all the tasks you do on a daily basis – do you approach them in an ‘automatic’ way? Think about these repetitive tasks and then work out how you can automate or speed them up (or even just outsource them).

TIP # 10 – Say no! Over-committing is a common issue but completely avoidable. You don’t need to be ‘available’ for work all the time and you don’t have to say YES to every social invitation. Use a calendar to manage commitments (work and social) including scheduling time to work on projects. I like to plan my week on a Sunday evening, making sure I have time to fit in the work I’ve committed to and factoring in some time for me and my family as well as dealing with the day-to-day mundane activities that need attending to. Planning your week but allowing for some free time in your calendar will set you up for success – and enable you to effectively deal with any emergencies. Learning to say NO more often can help you feel more in control.

In today’s ‘always on’ culture, it can be difficult to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Since the ideal mix is different for everyone, working out what you need personally and understanding that you have some control is an important first step. But achieving and maintaining it is not a one off process – it’s a lifelong pursuit. Aspire to what you need right now then work to achieve it, but be sure to review it from time to time to make any necessary changes.

Are you struggling to achieve the balance you desire in your life right now? Would you like help working out if your career goals and aspirations are in alignment with your work-life balance goals? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to get a professional headshot today

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to get a professional headshot todayIf you think you don’t need a professional headshot in your line of work, think again. We regularly view professional social media and other profiles that include blurry or inappropriate photos, or even no photo at all. This situation directly impacts whether or not someone decides to reach out to you.

According to LinkedIn, profiles with photos are far more likely to receive connection requests than those without. I’ve also read countless articles that point to profiles with photos being viewed up to seven times more by potential contacts or recruiters than those without a photo.

If you can’t afford a professional photographer, we’ve put together some tips on how to achieve a professional result with no budget at all:

  • Enlist a friend or family member to help who is good at taking photos – preferably someone with a camera but a late model phone will also do. Avoid taking a selfie!
  • Put on some professional attire – whatever you’d wear to work is best – and make sure you’re well groomed. We’re taking a head and shoulders shot so don’t worry too much about what you’re wearing below the waist. Make sure you wear a different colour to the background to create a good contrast. For example, if the background is white, avoid wearing a white top or shirt.
  • Find a plain background with great natural lighting – use the natural light from a window for indoor shots, however, avoid standing directly in front of a window or anything too busy. Try different rooms to see which area works best.
  • Stand just far enough away – making sure your face is level with the camera so it’s not shooting up your nose, or down from above. It should be far enough away so that your head and top of shoulders are included in the shot. You don’t want your face filling the whole frame.
  • Smile and go for it – take lots of photos so you can pick the best shot. Try to look natural, open and friendly. Smiling photos are best so as to avoid the ‘mug shot’ look. In my experience, most people hate having their photo taken so my only advice is to stand in front of that camera, look directly at it and smile – then have your friend take lots of photos.
  • Pick the best one – save it and use it for all your work-related profiles and bios.

Of course, you could also enlist a professional photographer if your budget allows for it. A good quality headshot can be used for so many situations in your professional life – your email account, email signature, LinkedIn profile photo, Twitter and Facebook photo, company bio/website, personal website or portfolio, for guest blogging or article writing. So just go for it and once you have one be sure to update it every couple of years. 

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

The best questions to ask in an interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

The best questions to ask in an interviewAsking your own great questions during a job interview will not only give you a feel for whether you actually want to work there, but the recruiter will also think more positively of you. Formulating some questions before the interview to ensure you’re well prepared is the best approach.

Whether you’re looking for your first job, or your tenth, asking insightful questions in an interview is a must. It shows confidence, preparedness and professionalism, and is something the recruiter will be keen to explore with you.

Having a pre-prepared list is a great idea, however usually the best questions will be driven by your conversation in the interview, so don’t be afraid to jot down notes as you go. These notes will help you formulate relevant and insightful questions that relate specifically to the interview and the role. Use your pre-prepared questions as the basis – while ensuring relevance to the conversation you’ve had. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Show interest: Do your homework and find out about the company. Devise questions that relate to recent news or events. Start your question by saying “I read about XYZ and wanted to find out more about how that impacts this role”.
  • Training & development: Ask about the company’s policy on professional training and education, formal mentoring or coaching, and attendance at workshops and seminars. Great companies want to hire people dedicated to personal and professional growth so show it’s important to you. “What opportunities will I have to learn and grow?”
  • Strategic plans: Ask about the company’s strategic plan, or better yet, have some idea from your research, and ask how it fits with this role/department. “What are the company’s goals for the next five years?” “How does this role contribute to that?” “What are the biggest opportunities/threats facing the company right now?”
  • Structure: Ask why the person is leaving the role OR for a newly created role, where the work has come from. It is helpful to know if you will be stepping into someone else’s shoes or paving your own way in a new role. It also helps you understand any career path opportunities and/or blocks. “Why is the position vacant?” If the previous employee left, ask why they left. “Did they leave for another organisation, were they made redundant or promoted?”
  • Culture: Ask about the turnover rate on the team or the organisation to find out if it’s unusually high (a worry)? “What is the current staff turnover rate (in the team or in the company)?” Or ask straight out “What is the company culture like? What is your favourite thing about working for the company?”
  • Performance: Ask about the performance review processes, and whether there are any KPIs/targets upon which the role is evaluated. “How is success measured in this role?” Find out what the role expectations are for the first 6 or 12 months. “What would you want to see me accomplish in the first six months?” “What are some of the challenges that the predecessor faced in this role?” 
  • Your suitability for the role: Ask the interviewer if there is anything else they’d like to know about you – or whether they have any hesitations about you being able to do the job. Don’t be frightened of this one – it’s great feedback for you personally and if there are uncertainties you might be able to dispel them. “Is there anything that makes you doubt I would be a great fit for this position?”
  • Next steps: Ask what will happen next, how long the decision is likely to take and whether you might be required for another interview. “What are the next steps in your recruitment process?” “What’s the timeline for making a decision?”

Focus your questions on the role, company, its strategic focus, general direction and/or competitive environment – and how that impacts the role you are applying for.

Remember, you should try to ask at least a few questions to show that you’ve come prepared and are interested in the role and company. If possible, listen carefully to the interviewer’s answers and devise further questions that expand on that conversation.

Would you like some assistance preparing for a job interview, to ensure the questions you ask are insightful, positive and professional? If so, please see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.