Most of us feel stressed about our job from time to time, but what happens when we feel stressed all the time? If you’re feeling overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism and detachment from your job, and a sense of ineffectiveness / lack of accomplishment, you could be experiencing burnout. The long-term impact on your physical and mental health from job burnout can be serious. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon in its International Classification of Diseases. While doctors need to be careful to rule out adjustment disorder, anxiety and other mood-related disorders, the classification may help highlight the need for work-life balance for workers.
Leaving the job that’s causing the problem might seem like the obvious solution, but that may not be the answer. It might not even be viable since you need financial security, energy and drive to secure a new job. Plus, many experts believe that the burnout will simply follow you to the next role.
The best approach, therefore, is to avoid burnout in the first place. Here are our top tips.
Tip 1: Work with purpose – This isn’t just a warm and fuzzy idea. When we have a purpose to our work other than simply earning money to live, it can help avoid burnout. Look at the deeper impact of what you do every day and ask yourself: Does the work you do make a difference to your company? How does your work impact other people? Do you feel a sense of satisfaction? How could you add more meaning to what you do every day? If you think you might be in the wrong role, you could talk to a career consultant to help you find your ideal career.
Tip 2: Complete a job analysis – When we feel overwhelmed by work on a daily basis, it can be difficult just to ‘catch up’. To clarify where you’re spending time while understanding exactly what’s expected of you, it helps to analyse your job requirements and track your time for a few days. You can then work towards eliminating or delegating tasks that aren’t contributing to desired outcomes.
If you feel like you have too much work to handle, discuss it with your boss. Come prepared with details about your workload and why you believe it’s unrealistic, as well as ideas about how to address the issue.
Tip 3: Establish working hours – It’s often easier said than done, but setting boundaries for yourself and others is important. If you work from home, walk away from your office space at a set time each day. If you work in an office, try not to take work home unnecessarily. Leave work at a set time to spend planned time with family or friends. For many people, it takes a personal emergency for them to reschedule something important at work. Turn that around and give your personal time the same respect – try not to ‘reschedule’ it unless absolutely necessary.
Tip 4: Switch off – Any device that’s keeping you connected to work should be turned off outside of work hours as much as possible. If you’re spending time with your family or partner, this is especially important. We need uninterrupted time to focus on personal relationships. Even if you just switch off for an hour or during a meal, try to do it every day. Turning off technology allows us to focus on our relationships, which goes a long way towards preventing burnout.
Tip 5: Take time out – Make sure you take your annual leave each year, try not to work weekends and include some ‘me time’ every day (more on this in our next tip). At a minimum you should schedule two weeks off each year. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged you so you can be more productive – and less stressed – when you return to work.
Tip 6: Schedule something enjoyable every day – This could involve exercise, a lunchtime walk or coffee catch-up with a friend or colleague, gardening or cooking. It could simply be going to bed 30 minutes earlier to read a book or spending some quiet time doing nothing. It’s easy to find enjoyable things to do that aren’t expensive or time-consuming, and it will make a difference to your stress levels.
Tip 7: Exercise regularly – Exercise is a well-known stress reliever and it helps increase energy and productivity at work. That said, when you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be hard to find the time to fit it in, let alone the motivation to start. Try getting up a little earlier, exercising during your lunch break or involving co-workers in your physical activity. Read our previous article for tips for a more active workday.
Tip 8: Learn stress management techniques – Most of us experience short-term stress at work and that’s normal. But when it’s prolonged or not managed well, it can contribute significantly to burnout. If you’re prone to stress, learning how to manage it is key. Strategies might include deep breathing, meditation, relaxation, getting more sleep and exercise – but just changing the way you think or react to certain situations also helps. The power of positive thinking! Talking to someone about how you feel might also help alleviate stress.
Tip 9: Take back control – You don’t need to be available for work all the time and you aren’t obliged to say ‘yes’ to everything. Learn to say ‘no’ sometimes and take back some control.
If you’ve been in the same job or industry for several years, it’s common to feel a lack of energy or motivation. But job burnout is different. It’s also preventable. So don’t wait until you reach that point – start taking steps today to manage your stress levels and protect your health and well being.
Are you unhappy in your job? Are you counting down the days to the weekend and ready for a change? Our Career Counselling and Career Coaching Service can help. Find out more.
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.
A 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:
- 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.
- Join professional associations with global memberships so you can connect with likeminded members while contributing to and benefiting from the knowledge base.
- Volunteer – either in person or online to build meaningful connections.
- 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.
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.
Our new ‘How to answer’ series proved popular last month, when we looked at how to respond to the interview question, “Tell me about yourself”. This month’s question – “Why should we hire you?” – is just as important, and can be just as tricky to answer. You’ll need to prepare a compelling summary of why they should hire you, while remaining flexible enough to think and respond on the spot.
An interviewer’s main purpose is to collect information on candidates to help make the best decision about who to hire. They may ask this question in several ways, but your response will provide the same outcome. Examples include:
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- Why are you the right fit for the position?
- What would you bring to the position?
Even if you don’t get asked this question specifically, you should try to communicate the key reasons they should hire you throughout the interview. If you are asked this question, you’ll have a great opportunity to present a concise sales pitch describing what you offer. You’re usually being hired to solve a problem or address a requirement. The better you demonstrate how you’re going to do that, the more chance you’ll have of getting the job. Follow our step-by-step process to prepare.
- Create a pitch. Identify the skills, qualifications and experience you need to succeed in the role, and relate them back to yourself. Do this by reviewing the job description and highlighting key requirements, including qualifications, specialist technical skills, experience, soft skills and personality traits. Then match them with the qualities you possess. Select three of your strongest areas and make these the core of your answer. When you’re developing your pitch, focus on the positives and keep linking your response back to the company and the position.
- Research the organisation. Once you’ve identified the personal and professional capabilities you need to highlight, do some research on the company. Pay particular attention to social media accounts since this is where you’ll get a better understanding of company culture. This is important because employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to feel satisfied in their jobs. This generally leads to higher retention rates, and since recruitment is a costly and time-consuming exercise, organisations tend to hire based on shared values and cultural beliefs.
- Tell stories. Stories paint a picture and a picture paints a thousand words! Rather than simply stating you have a particular skill or personality trait, support it with a story that ‘shows’ rather than just ‘tells’. For each of the points you highlighted above, think of a time you used that skill or trait to achieve a positive result. Structure your story using the STAR formula to ensure you cover all the important areas, and make sure your examples end with a positive outcome or result. (Want more tips on using storytelling to engage and persuade in the workplace? Take a look at our previous blog post.)
- Think beyond the obvious. You know you’re up against candidates who are likely to be just as qualified and experienced as you, so work out what you offer that others don’t. By thinking outside the job description, you can demonstrate how you’re a better candidate. Highlighting unique traits or experiences will set you apart. This is key in a competitive job market.
- Solve a problem. If you’ve researched the company well, you may identify a specific need or problem that’s driven this round of recruitment. Try to demonstrate previous success in a similar situation, or simply articulate an approach or an idea about how you’d begin to solve the problem.
“Why should we hire you?” is an important question to answer well, but try not to overthink it. While it’s a good idea to practise your pitch so you can deliver it smoothly, you don’t need to memorise it word for word or it will sound forced. Have a general idea of what you’d like to say, but remain open to addressing additional issues or information that arises during the interview. Talk for no longer than two minutes and aim to cover three main points.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
The transformational impact of technology on people, processes and businesses is never ending. We have never been more connected globally and new technologies are emerging every day, so the skills you’ll need for the jobs of the future aren’t necessarily those that you use today. What skills will you need?
The jobs of today are very different to those of our parents and grandparents, so where will we be 20 years from now? And how can we make sure we’re still employable? As new jobs emerge, others become obsolete. It can be a challenge to stay ahead, but ensuring your knowledge and skills remain current and marketable is an important career move. Here are some of the key job skills we think you’ll need for the future.
- Tech know-how: Proficiency with technology is now expected in most jobs. Think about how a GP uses technology today compared to 10 or 20 years ago. The use of mobile technology has also dramatically increased, and the globalisation of many markets means that working with technology rather than against it is key. The more flexible you are in navigating these changes, and in becoming proficient in using new technology, the easier your work life will be.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: The future will have problems we’ve never experienced. The ability to think outside the box, see the big picture, analyse different situations, rearrange information to identify explanations and make decisions on the fly will put you in a great position.
- Creativity: We know that workers with creative-thinking and imagination skills will remain in demand. Examples include jobs where you need to create original content, manage others and/or interact with stakeholders, think unconventionally, or apply expertise to make decisions or innovate. Creativity isn’t limited to traditional artistic pursuits such as art, music and writing. In this context, it’s about innovation and resourcefulness – the ability to pull together disparate information and conceive viable solutions and approaches.
- Adaptability: The ability to quickly change, develop new skills, take on new responsibilities and work with automation or machines is important. Having flexibility to move to other areas will drive future career success, and acquiring the necessary skills or retraining in other areas will be your responsibility.
- Information analysis: In our current information age, we generate more data than we know what to do with. While access to the information we collect has significantly improved in recent times, the ability to analyse it through a critical lens to come up with meaningful observations that drive decisions is key.
- People skills and collaboration: While technology will eventually take over many areas, human interaction will never disappear, so the ability to work with people will remain important. Success will require you to ask questions, listen, interpret needs and work cooperatively with others. Learning how to use new communication and collaboration platforms will also be vital.
- SMAC: You’ve probably heard of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) is fairly new. Learning how to leverage these platforms in your daily work will help you stand out in the future job market.
- Cultural acumen: The modern workplace is full of remote employees, global offices and flexible contracts. For many of us, our workday reality is living in one country and working virtually with people in other parts of the world. Being able to understand and appreciate cultural differences and social interaction will be essential.
- Networking: Most experts agree that networking and word of mouth will be more important in securing jobs in the future. While networking is not new, technological advances mean the way we do it is vastly different to 10 years ago. Keep track of everyone you meet, stay in touch, join professional networking groups and take advantage of LinkedIn.
Are you always listening, learning and planning? Continuous learning of new skills is essential for job success in the future. Take on new responsibilities, remain flexible, embrace our rapidly changing world and use any setbacks as learning experiences. That way, you’ll find yourself in the best position to capitalise on opportunities as they arise.
Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your skillset to create your dream career? Or perhaps you’d like some help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our Services.
If you think your storytelling skills are only useful for getting the kids off to sleep, think again. The ability to tell great stories can also be a powerful tool for career success. Storytelling is useful in many different scenarios – from interviews, to getting approval for a special project, to motivating and managing people. It can be a powerful way to engage and persuade.
Storytelling goes back millions of years. Sharing experiences, passing down lessons and communicating to understand each other is storytelling. Doing this in the workplace isn’t new, but doing it well takes some thought and preparation. Storytelling can be used to persuade, entertain, move and motivate people – and it’s a much more interesting way for your audience to consume information.
It’s particularly useful where the subject matter is complex or dry – stories can be used to invoke enthusiasm and excitement that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. Say you were providing a performance update to the company – rather than presenting facts and figures to demonstrate results, you could share a story of how a team member worked successfully with a client. Storytelling can also be useful when communicating with customers. Tell them a story about how you solved another client’s problem and your message becomes more compelling. Likewise, if you’re running an event or encouraging people to buy something from you, a story they can relate to can help them make a positive decision.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have led an exciting life to be a great storyteller. Storytelling is simply about making a connection with your audience. A story about everyday life told well can be as engaging as a story about a significant life achievement. Drawing your audience in and invoking a feeling of shared experience or opinion is what’s important. So how do you do it?
- Understand your audience: The first crucial step is knowing your audience. Who are they, what are they looking for and how much knowledge do they already have about the topic you’re discussing? How will they be receiving the information – for example in a written report, through video, via a phone conference? This will help set the key themes and tone for your story.
- Make your audience care: Understand why your audience should or would be interested in your story and then make sure those messages shine through. What is the purpose of telling the story? What would you like the audience to understand or take away? Be creative but always come back to your purpose.
- Set the scene: Be descriptive about timing and location to help capture your audience’s attention. Set the scene well and provide context for your story. By anchoring your audience in a place and time they will be more interested in reading on or listening through until the end.
- Develop your plot: Something must happen in your story, so give it a beginning, middle and end. Great stories also often have a climax (maybe a challenging situation or defining decision) that is then resolved.
- Include detail: Make your story interesting with anecdotes and small, specific details that paint a picture and prevent the audience from becoming bored.
- Keep it simple: Don’t get carried away with details though – keeping it simple is important too. Stories don’t have to be complex to be interesting; sometimes the simplest stories are the most successful, but only if your audience finds it useful (remember your purpose).
- Use visual elements: When presenting using PowerPoint or even within written articles, use simple graphics and images if you can. Stay away from complex graphs and charts and big blocks of text. A single picture or infographic with some related words could more easily convey your message – and is more likely to be remembered by your audience.
- Deliver your punchline: Great storytelling is like telling a joke – you need to know when to wrap it up and ideally finish with a bang. Evoke emotion in your audience by delivering an unexpected or inspiring ending. Or you could ask a question or leave something open-ended to create suspense for a continuation of the story or a related theme at another time.
- Practise: Your audience will know if you’re under-prepared, and you’ll run the risk of rambling, resulting in a story that doesn’t engage your audience. Craft your story first and practise presenting it in front of a friendly audience for feedback.
Storytelling can help you to convey information to your audience in interesting and memorable ways. Use stories in your work to create connections, evoke emotion and encourage action.
Our highly experienced Career Coaches have many stories to tell! If you’re looking for ways to improve your career, they can help. Find out about our Career Counselling and Coaching. If it’s time for the next chapter in your career, a customised job search strategy is a powerful tool. Learn more about Job Search Coaching.
This is the first article in our brand new series ‘How to answer’, which explores the best ways to answer specific interview questions. This month we look at the recruiter’s all-time favourite, “Tell me about yourself”. This seemingly simple question can stump candidates who aren’t sure which details to share about their personal and professional background, and how much information to provide.
Our best advice for answering this question is to be prepared for it and keep your response simple and relevant. This question is often asked early on and can set the tone for the entire interview. Read on for our key tips for success.
If you aren’t prepared, you run the risk of rambling on without actually saying much, and skipping important details, which could jeopardise your chances. So take some time to think through your response before the interview.
- Instead of just summarising your resume, go through the job description in detail and identify the skills, experience and qualifications needed to succeed in the role. Think about how your expertise relates to this job and then pinpoint ways to demonstrate capacity in those areas.
- Keep your response concise by preparing a summary that you can recite in around two minutes. If you include enough topics of interest, the recruiter can ask you to expand on certain areas if they wish.
- Instead of listing multiple, vague strengths, use examples to demonstrate your relevant capabilities. Short, sharp stories about what you did, how you did it and what the outcome was work well. These examples should ideally come from recent work experience, but you can also include volunteer experience or student projects or activities if necessary.
A recruiter or employer probably isn’t interested in your life story, but they are interested in hearing how your professional experience and background makes you an ideal candidate for the role.
- Avoid mentioning personal information such as marital status, children, and political and religious beliefs. These details aren’t necessary for an employer to determine whether you can perform a role, and they can be sensitive topics that may impact an employer’s personal opinion of you. You can talk a little about personal interests, but only if it has some relevance to the role or the personal skills required to succeed.
- Don’t rush into talking about what you are seeking in a role or how the company might benefit you. Save that for if you’re asked, or mention it in the final stages of the interview.
Structuring your response:
An ideal way to construct your response to the question “Tell me about yourself” is to focus on present, past and future. This will help you organise your thoughts.
- PRESENT – Start talking about what you’re doing (and achieving) in your current role. List your areas of responsibility that relate directly to the role you’re applying for, and highlight recent successes. Use statistics, numbers and other hard measures of success where you can, with specific details that demonstrate the value you’re adding. You might say something like: “In my current business development manager role for <Company> I’m responsible for leading a team of four people to support a portfolio of 400 national clients. I’m accountable for achieving sales targets and KPIs, and have consistently exceeded my sales targets since starting in the role five years ago. I’ve also initiated and developed several strategic partnerships to drive industry engagement, built the team from one to four, and managed revenue growth in the region from $3 million to $5 million.”
- PAST – Next, talk about what you’ve done in previous roles, again not going into too much detail but focusing on relevant experience/achievements and how you’ve grown. You might say: “Previously, I worked as an account manager for <Company> with a focus on the media and entertainment sector. I developed a fantastic professional network within some of the largest media companies in Australia, which I’d be able to leverage in this role.”
- FUTURE – Finish with a statement about why you’re looking for a new role and what it is about this role that appeals. You might say something like: “I’ve been working towards a role like this for several years now. I feel I’ve gained enough success in this market to progress into a more focused account management role. I’m excited about this role at <Company> and the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with fewer, larger clients.”
“Tell me about yourself” can be a surprisingly tricky question to answer well. Remember to focus on the experiences and skills that are most relevant to the role and company you’re interviewing for. Ask yourself what you’d most like the recruiter to remember about you and focus on that. A well-thought-out answer will create a good first impression and set you up for a positive interview experience.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
Your first few weeks in a new role are usually exciting, but they can also be overwhelming. You’re meeting new people, learning how the company operates and trying to align with your new workplace culture. Setting yourself up for success really does begin from day one.
Accepting the offer is just the beginning. Starting a new job usually means a big learning curve – and that can apply to a new role within the same company as well as in a new organisation. It’s often fast paced and full of new things. Success in your new role will rely on you making a great impression, but you also need to learn about your new workplace, the people within it and how you fit in. Here’s some survival tips.
- Introduce yourself to everyone: As a newbie, you’ll need to build your reputation and credibility by developing good relationships with different people. Take some time to get to know people, and if you’re not confident introducing yourself, come up with a standard description of who you are and what you do. Ask your manager for a list of colleagues you should be acquainted with and set up quick one-on-ones to run through your role and learn about what they do. Approach people in the kitchen, lunch room or before or after group meetings to introduce yourself, but try not to hold them up if they appear hurried or distracted.
- Be a listener: Research indicates that new employees who ask lots of questions perform better. By asking specific questions and really listening to the answers, you’ll improve your chances of becoming competent quickly. Prioritise what you need to know and work out the best person to help you. If you’re not 100% clear on your question, flag it to come back to later.
- Find a friend: It’s important to have someone who helps you understand the lay of the land. This doesn’t mean you have to find your new best friend during the first week. But seeking out someone you can relate to in the short term will provide some stability and help you feel more comfortable as you’re getting to know your new workplace. This isn’t so much about company rules and regulations, but more about the culture, general office politics and etiquette, which can often take time to learn. Your new friend can help you work out where to eat lunch and have breaks, and how to take advantage of any amenities or perks offered. It’s great to find someone helpful whose advice you can seek from time to time but be careful not to overwhelm them with requests or take up too much of their time.
- Understand what’s expected: Be cautious about being overly keen to offer help. Not only could you offend someone by ‘doing their job’ but you could also be diverting your energy away from the areas you’re expected to focus on. By all means offer assistance to others where appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and don’t be overly critical of the way things are done – yet. You were hired for a reason, so learn exactly where you fit and the value you’re expected to add. This will be essential for your success.
- Clarify communications: Organisations and individuals have varying expectations regarding communications and it’s important you adapt to existing behaviours quickly. Work out what people do to communicate on different issues. Do people mostly connect face to face, on conference calls or via email? What’s the culture with walking up to people’s desks and nutting out a problem then and there? Does your supervisor expect constant updates on every detail or just a heads-up on major projects or issues?
- Try to remember names: Repeat people’s names back to them, then write a quick note about your interaction after parting. If you do forget someone’s name, be honest – it’s fine to admit that you’ve been overwhelmed with information in your early days. Simply say, “I’m sorry, can you please remind me of your name?” and all is likely to be forgiven.
- Remain open: Being able to embrace change is important. Wanting to do things the way you’ve always done them may not serve you well in these early days. In your new workplace, things will be done in ways that you may not be comfortable with. Be flexible enough to embrace new approaches and be prepared to change your mind about initial impressions or decisions.
Nobody expects you to master your new domain within a month, but making a positive impression, working hard and remaining focused is important. Be proactive about getting involved in new projects, asking for more work and presenting new ideas. Request feedback so you know what to improve on and talk to your boss about any interests or worries you may have – they are heavily invested in your success as well!
Do you need some help with the next step in your career? Our career advisors are experts in their field and provide comprehensive career counselling. We also have experienced writers who can help you create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice.
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.
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