Category Archives: Career Counselling

Helpful resources for mature age workers

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

List of Helpful Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 tips for finding a job in Australia

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to use your work commute time more effectively

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to use your work commute time more effectivelyIf you rely on public transport to get to and from work, you might be a little over it. Likewise sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or more isn’t much fun either. But using this time to help you gain back a little time later in the day, or help improve your productivity, or even your mood is achievable.

In this month’s article, we look at some simple strategies you could easily incorporate into your daily commute to help improve your productivity and/or mood.

  1. Write your to-do list: If you like being organised and you work well with lists, getting organised before you arrive at work is a great start to your day. If you’re catching public transport this is simple. If you’re driving, you can use one of the many voice recording apps out there to get your notes onto your phone. Evernote has a voice recording function, as do many other ‘organising’ apps. Use whatever method works best for you.
  2. Clear your inbox: Again if you’re on the bus or train, this is easy – getting rid of all the junk emails and dealing with any ‘easy responses’ during your commute means when you arrive at the office you can get stuck into the more complex work. If you’re driving, there are apps that can help. For example, Speaking Email provides a simple interface designed to let you safely listen to your emails while driving. It reads them out loud to you and provides voice command functionality that lets you archive, flag or instantly reply while you’re on the go.
  3. Listen up: Check out the latest podcast or audiobook. I’m very late to the party here, but I’ve recently discovered podcasts and think it’s a great way to spend my commute. It’s better than spending more time staring at my screen, and for drivers it’s a great way to pass time in traffic. You can choose podcasts that entertain, inform or teach. Ask around for suggestions on what other like-minded people are into, research the many podcast review lists on the web, or check out the ‘featured’ and ‘top charts’ within the podcast app for currently trending podcasts.
  4. Draft emails or reports: I’m not a huge fan of emailing from my phone – I just need a bigger screen, but I don’t mind sending those quick one or two liners from my phone (See tip 2). What I do love using my commute for is drafting those longer, more difficult responses that need some level of thought. I’ll often draft these emails during my commute then review and send once I’ve arrived at the office. Doing this often significantly improves your content since you’ve had time to think about it. That final review before you hit send usually brings out the best and most articulate content!
  5. Keep up to date: These days there is so much content to stay on top of – whether it’s news about your company, your industry, your clients or competitors, or simply staying on top of local current affairs – there’s lots of it. Add to that all the personal interest content you’d like to read or videos you’d like to watch and you can easily feel overwhelmed. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a list as long as your arm of articles you’d like to read and content you’d like to watch. Use your commute time to make a dent.
  6. Take note of successes: This is a great tip for staying on top of your career. When it comes time to look for a new role, or ask for a pay rise or promotion – you’ll need more than just a list of skills and experience. You need specialist expertise and you need to know your value. Use your commute time to keep track of your accomplishments and especially all those little wins (because you will forget them over time). Take note of accolades, positive feedback, outstanding results, and training completed. Use driving time to think about this and jot them down as soon as you get to work.
  7. Get your social media fix: It’s a time waster for sure, so resist the urge for mindless scrolling through your feeds and notifications while you’re at work by doing it during your commute (especially on the way home from work when your energy levels are probably at their lowest).
  8. Increase your activity: Depending on how far away your work is, consider walking, riding or even running to work – or at least part of the way. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away.
  9. Read a book: Using your commute time for ‘work stuff’ to ensure you’re more productive later is great, but simply picking up a book (or e-book) that you’ve been wanting to read is also a good idea. If you’ve lost interest in fiction as a result of all the online noise, make an effort to re-discover a book for pleasure during your commute (try an audio book if you’re driving).
  10. Chill out: In our increasingly busy lives, who said that being productive is the most effective use of time? Most of us need to spend more time relaxing. Use your commute as a time to just be present and clear your mind. If you find that hard, you could try one of the many meditation and mindfulness apps available, which can help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. Some of the most popular include: Headspace, InsightTimer, and Calm.

Unless you want to move closer to your workplace or can somehow work from home – commuting to work is the reality for most people. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – use the time wisely and your mood and productivity will likely improve.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Guidance 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.

How to make a lasting first impression

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to make a lasting first impressionBuilding a network to become a valuable working asset is a key component of your future career success. So how do you turn those people you meet at industry events or conferences into strong connections that help you (and them) succeed in the future? Many people we talk to don’t have a problem meeting people – it’s the staying in touch in a meaningful way that they struggle with.

So you’ve just met a new contact at an event and you really hit it off – your like-mindedness on so many issues was surprising and refreshing. You exchange business cards or details and mention you’ll keep in touch. If you’re like most people, following that exchange, nothing much will ever come of it. Sure, if you run into them again, you’ll strike up a conversation, perhaps picking up where you left off, however in terms of creating any meaningful or long lasting relationship, following through on that initial meeting falls short.

Here’s a few quick tips on what to do to significantly expand your contacts and start to build a network that’s valuable for your career.

  • Be interesting AND interested: If you’re meeting someone for the first time and you are truly interested in learning about them – this will show. While it’s good to have something to offer in terms of advice or support, often when you meet someone for the first time professionally, simply being interested in them and what they do will have a positive and lasting impression. If you’re genuine in your interest about who they are and what they’re doing, your conversation and connection will often flow more easily.
  • Take notes: After meeting someone new, take some brief notes about your exchange and include both personal and professional information if you can. It’s a great idea to do this straight away while all those details are fresh in your mind because once life gets in the way, you won’t remember them. Store your notes anywhere that works for you – a list on your phone, in Outlook, under your phone contacts, in a purpose built database, on the back of their business card, in your diary or you could use one of the many purpose built tools out there like Evernote – whatever works best for you. You’ll be able to use that information to strike up a future conversation or reach out for a catch up when it feels right. If it feels appropriate, send them a short email thanking them for their time and mentioning how much you enjoyed the conversation. You could also suggest a future catch-up time (then set a reminder to follow up so you don’t forget).
  • Use LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the best tool for professional networking. As soon as you get back to your office, send your new connection a request to connect and include a short personalised message about your time together. Doing this makes it very easy to stay in touch in a personal but non-pressured way. You can comment or like their updates, share articles and announcements you think they might be interested in, or even send personal messages where it’s warranted.
  • Schedule a catch-up: It’s great to meet someone, get along, take notes and connect with them on LinkedIn but if you want to keep in touch and develop that relationship further – schedule a catch-up. Ideally you’d wait a couple of months before touching base. Contact could be in a variety of ways – examples include sending them a friendly email asking how they are; sharing a link to an article you think they might be interested in and suggesting you get together; specifically inviting them to meet up for coffee (don’t forget to remind them how you met and what you had in common in case they’re not as organised as you!); or use an upcoming industry event as an excuse to connect.

While networking is about meeting people, it’s also about making meaningful connections and developing lasting relationships that can help you (and them) with future career goals.

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

 

The skills to develop today to succeed tomorrow

Article by Belinda Fuller

The skills to develop today to succeed tomorrowThe future of work is changing rapidly. Industries are shrinking, jobs are vanishing, and professional skills are evolving faster than ever before. Some experts predict we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution with changes marked by mind boggling advances in digital, physical and biological technologies set to revolutionise our future. How can we keep pace with change to ensure future career success?

If you are looking to advance your career, you may have already identified the areas you need to gain more experience; or the knowledge you need to develop in order to progress. With the future set to bring such staggering change and advancements – we’ve identified some of the skills we think will be important for individuals to succeed.

  1. Complex problem-solving skills – in our rapidly changing world, problems are becoming more complex and harder to solve due to incomplete, contradictory or ever-evolving trends, requirements and threats. Problems that we have never seen before are cropping up more often, so people who can think innovatively to identify viable solutions will be in demand.
  2. Critical thinking – this can be defined as the objective analysis of facts to form a judgement. Often the subject is complex and requires analysis or evaluation of vast amounts of information. In today’s ‘information age’, data is available everywhere – with companies collecting huge amounts of data about everything their customers do on a day-to-day basis. Being able to leverage and effectively utilise this information for competitive advantage is a key skill to have.
  3. Creativity & Innovation – competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done probably won’t cut it any longer. Having the ability to think outside the box to achieve success is a top skill to possess.
  4. Collaboration – working well with others and appreciating the input from different team members is essential in today’s work environment. Human interaction in the workplace will become more and more important as computers and robots take over certain tasks. Being able to work together to leverage individual’s strengths while being aware of any weaknesses and adapting to address these will be important.
  5. Leadership – regardless of how much an organisation and its day-to-day operations become ‘automated’, employees will remain at the heart. Being able to develop strong relationships with employees and successfully lead teams to success is important. Listening carefully to understand concerns; identifying ways you can help them become more efficient, effective and enthusiastic; and developing and maintaining strong ongoing professional relationships is key. Good leaders consistently provide support and show their team they are there for them. It is more vital than ever for future leaders to know how to motivate teams, maximise productivity and respond quickly and effectively to needs.
  6. Service orientation – digitisation, technological advancements, and increasing competition means customers will be picky – and rightly so. Customers have the ability to choose who they do business with and the capacity to change as often as they desire. It’s no longer as difficult as it once might have been to switch suppliers or move to a different brand. People who make the customer experience their priority, anticipate what customers need, and design products and solutions to meet those needs, will be in demand.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear that we all need to develop new skills if we’re going to keep up with, and hopefully ahead of, all the changes. Achieving success in your career is an ongoing process and something you can constantly work on. Some of the skills we’ve talked about are ingrained, but more often than not, the skills and traits needed to succeed can be learnt.

These are just some of the many skills we think might be required for future career success. Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your career? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to boomerang back to an old employer

Article by Belinda Fuller

 

How to boomerang back to an old employerThe concept of boomerang employees – or re-hiring ex-employees is not new, but it is on the rise. According to recent research, HR professionals are more open than ever before to re-hiring former employees. In the past, this practice was sometimes frowned upon – even if the employee had left on good terms – but now it’s becoming more and more common – and with good results for both employers and employees.

With this practice on the rise both in Australia and around the world – it’s worth considering as a viable option for your next role. Many companies that had to retrench workers in previous years are starting to increase their capacity again as business continues to improve. There are benefits to both employee and employer, but a few things worth considering.

Maintain Relationships

Firstly, as a boomerang employee, you have to maintain good relationships with your previous company and colleagues. This means ensuring any split is amicable and then making sure you keep in touch with colleagues and bosses (LinkedIn makes this easy). When you leave a job, do so on good terms by remaining professional and positive about your reasons for leaving. Draft a professional letter explaining your reasons and what you plan, then try to provide some positive comments about your experience. For smaller companies, a more personal approach might be better – think about sitting down with fellow team members or colleagues to explain your reasons for leaving. If your company conducts exit interviews, endeavour to remain upbeat – if this isn’t possible keep your answers short and simple.

Ensuring a Good Fit

Before making any decision to re-join an ex-employer, consider the reasons why you left and investigate whether they still exist. Likewise, make sure the things you loved about the role and/or company still exist. If you left to grow your skills in other areas, study or travel – your new skills will be attractive to a former employer. Not only do you know the company, but now you have an added level of competency they can leverage.

Sell Yourself

If you are approaching a former employer about returning back, be sure to have a goal in mind and then be honest with them about what it is you’d like. Try to communicate your new skills, competencies and experiences and how that would help the company in the future. They may not have something open currently, however if you articulate your new skills and/or direction they can keep you in mind for future roles – perhaps thinking of you in broader professional terms than how they saw you previously. If you’re after a more senior level role than the one you left, articulate the reasons why you think you’d be successful by incorporating examples of relevant accomplishments you’ve made in the role(s) since you left.

Remain Professional

While the whole process of being employed at a previous employer may be far less formal than if you were a new employee, don’t become complacent. Remain professional and focused and be prepared to go through the same selection process as others. The questions you get asked may be a little different and focus around your reasons for wanting to re-join, any new skills you will bring and how they’re relevant, what immediate benefits you might achieve for the company, and your thoughts on what will stop you from leaving again.

Becoming a boomerang employee has plenty of benefits for both the company and the employee. Employers benefit from someone who knows the business, culture and processes and this is a huge saving – both in time and the cost of getting someone up to speed. For employees, the knowledge and contacts you have puts you in a great place to ‘hit the ground running’ and achieve some quick wins in your new role.

Are you considering returning to an ex-employer? Would you like help from one of our professional resume writers to prepare a winning Resume that clearly articulates your value? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services. Perhaps you’ve secured some interest and would like help preparing for the interview? If so, please see our Interview Skills Training service.

4 career lessons I learnt from my mum

Article by Belinda Fuller

Four career lessons I learnt from my mumDespite my mum never telling me that life was like a box of chocolates, I love this analogy because life really is a colourful mix of great and not so great that when put together is hopefully more good than bad! My mum always tried to focus on the positives and she continually reinforced four key messages that I think are great career lessons for anyone.

I didn’t always think my mum was wise, especially as a teenager! As a mum myself now, I often wonder if the guidance and support I’m providing my children is enough. It got me thinking about the lessons I’d learnt as a child and young person and how they influenced my career decisions later in life.

  1. Never look back: “The only time you should look back is to see how far you’ve come”. Dwelling on the ‘what could have been’ is no good for anyone and definitely a career killer. Focus on the future and what can be, rather than worrying about what you should have or could have done in the past. Commit to making some changes today that will impact on your future success.
  2. Always try your best: Every day, across almost every aspect of our lives, we have the option of ‘doing our best’ or being satisfied with something less. Regardless of the result, my mum was always more concerned about whether I’d tried my best. There will always be an excuse as to why you shouldn’t or didn’t give something your best effort, but when it comes to your career – it really does matter. If you’re not doing your best, then you’re operating at a lower level, you’re compromising your standards and you’re setting yourself up for consistent achievement of a lower level performance. So give it your all – with 100% effort (and no lies to yourself about the fact that you tried your best when really you didn’t), not giving up after just one attempt, and seeking help where you need it.
  3. Learn from your mistakes: Mistakes are made to teach us. We make mistakes every day, some that matter and some that don’t. The fact is, most mistakes are great learning opportunities – especially when it comes to your career. Mistakes can:
    • Help us determine what works and what doesn’t
    • Clarify what’s important in our life
    • Teach us how to tell the truth (by being honest about our failures)
    • Increase our capacity to change and grow
    • Help us take responsibility for our actions rather than shifting blame
    • Identify the need not to over-commit
    • Make us understand the importance of focus to achieve success.

So embrace your mistakes, and turn them into a learning opportunity – just try not to make the same mistake twice!

  1. Happiness is a journey: It’s not a destination that once reached is put aside. In philosophy, happiness translates from the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to ‘the good life’, or flourishing, rather than simply an emotion. In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being with positive or pleasant emotions. People often think they’ll be happy when they “lose the weight, get the job, are in a relationship, buy the car etc…” but this is often not the case. The fact is, happiness is a choice with different people approaching the same situations with vastly different attitudes. If you approach your situation with positivity, you will be happier. See our article Choosing to be happy at work for tips on workplace happiness.

There are many other life lessons that can be translated to career success – you can’t please everyone, money doesn’t buy happiness, you don’t always get what you want, there’s no shame in not knowing the answer, your health is more important than anything, and the list goes on. What did you learn growing up which has influenced your career success?

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Guidance Counselling or MBTI personality profiling.

Time saving tips for busy people

Article by Belinda Fuller

Time saving tips for busy peopleIf you’ve recently returned to work after time off caring for young ones, you’ll know what a juggle the whole children, work, home thing can be. Throw in some study and it’s an even bigger battle. Perhaps your children are older, you’re caring for elderly parents, or you might be a single parent with too much on your plate. There are lots of great time saving tips to help you cope.

Too much to do, with too little time is an all too common complaint. For most people, life is busy enough without making it even harder by cramming too much into the day. A big part of feeling more organised and saving time day to day is to simply de-clutter your life. That means taking stock of what you’re trying to achieve and working out whether it is actually necessary. Here’s some of our tips to save time while you’re working it out:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff: With more than 25 million copies in print, the philosophy outlined by Richard Carlson in his bestselling book ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ has touched many people. His views on putting things in perspective is great advice for parents navigating the day to day hustle with children. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we need to let things go. I try as a parent to ‘pick my battles’. With children, there is often something to argue about, to say no to, to discipline about, or nag on, so pick your battles carefully, and just choose to let some things go – otherwise you may end up spending your whole life in a negative cycle.
  • Limit choices: This is especially important for young children where problems can arise if they’re given too many choices (which you can’t or simply don’t want to fulfil). Children can take ages to think about and decide on what they want if offered too many alternatives. By all means offer them a choice but limit it to just two. The same applies to adults – the fact is we spend a lot of time making decisions which could be avoided. A simple example is my weekday breakfast. I rotate three options every week – some weeks choosing the same every day and others rotating them. The important part here is that I have three tried and tested options that I enjoy, are healthy and keep me satisfied till lunch time. I still have a choice but I don’t spend any time thinking about what I’m going to have. This strategy can be applied across many more aspects of our lives.
  • Plan your day: Preferably this should be done the night before – work out who needs to be where at what time, pack bags, get lunches ready, put clothes and shoes out, get breakfast items out, write ‘to do lists’ – whatever it takes to help you get out the door in the morning. My experience is that children are SLOOOWWWW in the morning. If they have a little routine they can follow with only a few expectations, everyone will be calmer and things will run more efficiently. At first, it can seem overwhelming to be doing this planning at the end of a busy day when you just want to sit down, relax or go to bed! Dedicate just five minutes to doing whatever you can get done and once you start you will be surprised at how quickly and easily it can all be done. You’ll save way more time in the morning than it took to actually prepare the evening before and it will be worth it!
  • Plan your shopping: Keep an ongoing shopping list – when you run out of things, add it to the list so you don’t have to think about it when it comes time to shop. I recently downloaded an app called ‘Our Groceries’ and it’s a lifesaver. It allows you to share your list with others and whenever something runs out you simply add it to the list straight away. When it comes time to shop, your list is ready to go and you don’t buy unnecessary items. No more calls from my husband on the way home from work asking if we need anything from the supermarket and no more complaints from the teenagers about running out of things.
  • Plan your meals: This is a big time saver with many other benefits including better quality, healthier options, at a lower cost. The effort involved can seem daunting, but even just planning the accompanying parts of yours and/or your children’s lunches on a Sunday is a big time saver – putting aside some fruit, and getting other food like snacks out and wrapping or individually prepping them so they are ready to go straight in the lunch box saves so much time in a busy morning. Likewise evening meal planning is essential, so you’re not tempted to grab takeaway at the end of a busy day. There are lots of great online resources and Apps to help – here’s a few of my favourites: For recipes, try Clean & Green or Taste. For meal planning and recipe organisation, try Plan to Eat or a subscription service like Hello Fresh, which provides all the ingredients and recipes for simple, healthy meals that you cook yourself.
  • Diarise everything: Buy a big family planner or diary and block out daily commitments and activities for everyone. This allows you to see at a glance what your day looks like and how much time you’ve got to work with. It also helps you recognise if you really are trying to cram too much into your week and where you might be able to cut down.
  • Focus: I used to be a big fan of multi-tasking and pride myself on keeping multiple balls in the air! However, it’s been proven time and time again that this concept makes life more difficult. Try focusing on one thing at a time, and you will see significant improvements to your productivity. The only time this may be an exception is where you might be able to combine an activity that requires no active thought (such as travelling on public transport or as a passenger with someone else) with a simple task like reading or listening to a podcast.
  • Track your time: Spend a day or a week recording what you do each day – then eliminate anything that isn’t productive, delegate or outsource where you can, and consolidate similar tasks – often we do things out of habit that may not be 100% necessary.
  • Stick to routines: This is especially important for babies and young children but issues inevitably arise so be flexible. Following set routines most of the time ensures higher productivity. If you have tasks that have to be completed every day, or most days, try to complete them at the same time each day.
  • Put things away: Teach your children to do the same. How much time do you spend looking for things? I have a friend who gathers up items around the house once a week and puts them in a washing basket – at the end of the day whatever hasn’t been claimed (and put away) is thrown away. Brutal, but it works!
  • Say no: Over-committing is one of the biggest time wasters – both socially and in work situations. Know that it’s OK to not say yes to everything and set realistic deadlines so you don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Take advantage of energy: Schedule complex tasks at times when your energy levels are at their best, and save the routine tasks for low-energy times.

Just do it! No matter how busy you are, you can create more time in your day with conscious effort. It might take some hard decisions but making a commitment to implement some (or all) of these tips is a great start.

If you have been struggling to find time to get your career on track, our Career Advisors can help! For more information, please see our Career Coaching and Job Search Coaching Services.

Choosing to be happy at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

Choosing to be happy at work

What makes people happy at work varies significantly from person to person. Since we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, being unhappy doesn’t just affect our work – it usually affects all aspects of our life. Whilst it’s well-known that recognition, reward, and positivity go a long way to ensuring employees are happy, there are many other influencing factors.

Countless studies are conducted to try to discover the secret to happy employees. Most companies recognise the benefits that come from achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. Apparently almost every business metric that can be measured (e.g. productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, absenteeism, safety etc.) can be directly impacted by employee happiness. While many companies are great at ensuring this, there are factors you can control yourself. Here are some tips to help you choose to be happy at work:

  1. Limit stress: Easier said than done in many cases, but stress is not conducive to happiness. Many jobs have stressful elements, which is fine in the short-term but can be damaging to both physical and emotional health if it becomes long-term. To limit stress, you need to be open – talk to your supervisor about what’s causing it; take time out by switching off from work and recharging; learn some relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness; and develop healthy responses to combat the stress such as exercise, hobbies, reading, time with family, and getting enough sleep.
  2. Exercise: Including any kind of physical activity in your day can improve your mood and productivity. While regular bouts of longer physical activity are essential for health, studies have shown that including even just a small amount of physical activity in your day can help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, often just a short stroll outside in the fresh air can help lift your focus, productivity and mood.
  3. Do more of what you love: You want to be happy in your work so avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Identify aspects of your job you love, and skills and interests that inspire you. Think about how you can be even better at what you do. Approach your manager with suggestions on how you might be able to incorporate more of these aspects into your day to day work.
  4. Be organised: Arrive a little early so the start of your day is relaxed. Plan your day and only make commitments you can meet. A common cause of unhappiness at work is missed deadlines, causing unnecessary stress. By planning your workload, checking your diary, and making daily ‘to do’ lists, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines. And try to factor in some time for breaks – they’ll re-energise and invigorate you and help you feel more positive. For some great time saving tips, see our article on Time saving tips for busy people.
  5. Ask for feedback: Happy employees know what their contribution means. If you don’t receive feedback, ask for it. You can’t change what you don’t know and chances are you know how you’re performing – you just need some acknowledgement – it’s proven as a strong driver of happiness.
  6. Continue to learn: Take responsibility for continuing personal and professional development. If your company supports you by paying for courses and allowing study time, take advantage of it. If they don’t – do it anyway – you are the one with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally so make investing in training a priority.
  7. Know what’s going on: Seek the information you need to do your job well. Some companies are great at communicating company information, while others aren’t so good. If your company is one of the latter then develop your own networks and use them to find out what you need to know.
  8. Make plans: If all else fails, it may be time to start planning a career move. There’s nothing like planning your exit to make you smile. But don’t compromise your future by slacking off. If you come across as happy and committed, you’ll be more likely to receive a positive reference when the time comes.

Remember, you are responsible for your own destiny. Our number one tip is to avoid any negativity. Choose to be happy rather than down and instead of dwelling on the things you can’t change, focus on what you can change. Find colleagues you like spending time with and don’t get involved in negative conversations. Greet everyone with a smile and you’ll be surprised at how many will be returned.

Are you feeling unhappy at work? Would you like career advice and assistance with planning your next move? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

7 ways you know you’re doing a great job

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 ways you know you're doing a great job

Job satisfaction is often linked to how appreciated you feel at work. Sometimes you might not receive the praise you crave and if you’re unhappy at work, it can be difficult to perform. Not every manager is great with praise and some just don’t have the time or inclination to understand how important occasional compliments are. But there are other, subtler ways to tell you’re doing a great job.

There are many times throughout your career when you need to assess your performance. For example, when you’re due for a performance review, when you’re feeling unmotivated, or when you’ve received some unfavourable feedback. If you’re faced with any of these situations, try to assess your performance honestly. If you can, go back to your job description, performance plan, or KPIs to formally assess how you’re going against those goals. Some ways to prove you’re doing a great job, even though you might not actually hear it, include thinking about the following areas:

  1. The value you add: Ask yourself where you might have added value and assess how this helped your manager, department, or the overall company. Try to keep track of any accolades received from colleagues, clients and others; and remember all the things you’ve done to improve processes or ways to get things done.
  2. Your measurable success: Many roles can be easily tracked in terms of performance – sales made against budget or marketing metrics such as responses, likes or clicks. But for other roles that aren’t metrics driven and easy to measure, think about your actions and how they meet or exceed expectations. Did you follow instructions, procedures or rules? Did you deliver an outcome when you said you would? Did you receive some positive feedback from a client or colleague?
  3. Being the go-to person: If you are constantly being asked questions about a variety of areas of the business, there’s a good chance you have become the company ‘go-to person’. Learning about the company and how things work and sharing that knowledge with your colleagues is an excellent trait for any employee and a good indication that you’re doing a great job.
  4. You’re reliable: If you get asked to help out on projects, or assist with last minute tasks, you can be relied upon to get the job done. An employee who turns up on time, listens, does what’s expected of them, is trustworthy, and shows respect is a productive and valuable employee.
  5. You’re asked for your opinion: Being given the opportunity to attend meetings to listen and offer your view on different areas is another indicator that you’re doing a great job and your efforts are appreciated.
  6. You’re proactive: Some people wait to be told what to do, and others take their own initiative to get things done. Managers notice self-motivated, proactive team members so if you offer to help out on tasks that you notice need to be done, but might not be in your direct area of responsibility – you’re probably doing a great job!
  7. You solve problems: Being a problem solver is important, so if you’re faced with a challenge and you tell your boss about the issue while also offering suggestions on how you think it should be fixed, they’ll appreciate your efforts. It makes their life easier and proves to them that you’re invested in the company’s success just as much as they are.

It is important to understand that some managers aren’t great at giving feedback. If you find yourself in this situation, often simply asking for feedback is a good approach. Otherwise, you could find a mentor – either within the company or outside. Mentors can offer advice and they’ve usually faced some of the same challenges you might be experiencing. They’ll help you strategise ways to deal with issues and support you on your path to success.

If you would like help with any aspect of your career, please see our range of Career Counselling Services.