Category Archives: Job Search

6 quick tips to tailor your application for success

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 quick tips to tailor your application for successWe often tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals and any good sales person knows how important tailoring is for success. If you’ve been applying for jobs unsuccessfully, taking a more tailored approach to preparing your application might be a good place to start.

While we always recommend that our clients write a customised cover letter for each role, working to tailor your entire application is often something relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket. The process of tailoring your resume and/or LinkedIn profile can sound time consuming, but we challenge you to take a good look at your application and ask yourself (as the recruiter) ‘what’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role. If it doesn’t do that, you’re not giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

Before we start with the tailoring process, we are assuming you have a great resume in place already – a document that highlights who you are, identifies your key skills, and shows the value you have added in previous roles. If you haven’t already done that, then focus on that step first – see our previous article How to Write a Resume – Top 10 Tips to get started. Then, follow these simple steps to tailor your application for success:

  1. Do your research: The first step is research. Read the job ad and identify exactly what’s required. Highlight specific skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If the company is advertising directly, view their website, search the company name and find out if there is any news or company activity that may impact the job. Writing just one sentence in your cover letter referencing a current situation, challenge or opportunity the company is facing could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.
  2. Customise your career profile: We recommend including a good strong career profile as the first section in your resume. Your career profile should highlight what you bring to the role. It should clearly demonstrate your skills and past experience and highlight how they add value to an organisation. Most people see this section as fairly standard, however by customising the content to address specific individual job requirements, you’ll put yourself a step ahead. Make it personal, enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, and engaging – and clearly demonstrate to the recruiter how you’ll excel. This can also apply to your LinkedIn profile summary – we would take a similar approach to tailoring the content to ensure you’ve covered off the key skills and attributes required for the role. We don’t recommend doing this for every role, however if there is a role you’re applying for that mentions new or different skills (that you possess but aren’t covered effectively), you should work to incorporate them.
  3. Change your key capability list: Once you know the recruiter’s main priorities in terms of what they’re looking for in a candidate, you can customise your key capabilities to meet those needs. In its simplest form, this means re-ordering your ‘key capabilities and skills’. Get more involved by rewording those points and/or customising them to suit the role. Again, this also applies to LinkedIn so make sure you’ve covered off all the main areas within the ‘skills and endorsements’ section.
  4. Show your value: If a buyer can’t see the value in a product or service, they simply won’t buy it. Same goes for your job application. If you don’t offer the recruiter what they’re looking for, you won’t succeed. Your application needs to demonstrate to the recruiter how you are going to add value. This process is simple once you know their pain points because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important so spend time ensuring the content in your documents targets and addresses as many of the requirements of the role as you can. Use past successes and achievements to show how you’ve ‘added value’ in the past.
  5. Write a customised cover letter: We can’t stress enough how important this step is. Writing a customised cover letter is the simplest way for your application to stand out. If a recruiter receives 100 or so applications, how do you think they’re going to choose which ones to actually read in detail? Research has proven that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. Preparing a cover letter that highlights your key skills, experiences and past achievements that are highly relevant to the role you are applying for increases your chances significantly of getting noticed.
  6. Change your job history order: This is not something we recommend doing unless absolutely necessary because it can confuse the reader. However, where we would recommend doing this is if you have highly relevant experience in your past work history, where your recent roles and experience are not at all relevant. In this case, we recommend applicants make a new section which is included upfront and entitled “Relevant Employment History” then list the relevant job history. You would then move your recent and other roles to a section called “Other Employment History”. This ensures the recruiter sees your ‘relevant’ experience first but the title of the section will give insight into why that experience is not recent.

Preparing a tailored application for every role you apply for is something you should strongly think about making time for. While it might sound time consuming, the reward far outweighs the effort. You’ll end up with an application that screams ‘look at me’ to the recruiter and that is exactly the position you want to be in!

Are you interested in tailoring your application for improved success? Would you like some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.

 

 

The best questions to ask in an interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 ways to clean up your social media

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 ways to clean up your social mediaWhile your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, the reality is that recruiters will explore your background more proactively through social media. That doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself and altering your online profile, but it does mean taking some steps to ensure it’s clean.

In a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond active applicants to fill a role. By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. That means it’s essential to ensure your online presence matches what you wish to convey.

This doesn’t mean being ambiguous or vague about who you are, it doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself, and it certainly doesn’t mean deleting all records of yourself online. Conversely, while it is important to maintain a clean online profile, a positive online footprint can be an important aspect in securing your dream role. We talk a lot about consistency of message and maintaining that across all your job search tools. This includes professional online tools like your website, blogs and LinkedIn profile – but it also applies to your person social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.

Below are some quick tips that apply across all social media. While some are more relevant to certain sites than others – all can be leveraged in one way or another to help clean up your profile.

  1. Update your photo: This is particularly necessary if it is more than a couple of years old. Always go for a clear head and shoulders shot – taken against a white or plain background and not a cropped image from a social situation.
  2. Update your summary, bio or ‘about me’ section: Make it interesting and relevant, highlighting the personal or business traits you want to emphasise – and ensure it’s up to date with your latest and greatest accomplishments and interests. For LinkedIn, your professional headline automatically defaults to your most recent (or current) job title. Change this to brand yourself while adding relevant keywords to your profile. Decide what you want to be known for and make this your professional headline. For more tips on creating a great bio, read our article ‘How to write a winning bio’.
  3. Check your settings: Take some time to understand the different security and privacy settings across different sites. For example, on certain settings LinkedIn notifies connections when you’ve updated your profile. If you don’t want your employer to know you’re working on your profile – check these settings. Likewise, with Facebook and other personal social media, check your settings to maintain some level of discretion – but don’t depend on it as your security blanket because it’s not foolproof.
  4. Claim your vanity URL: A vanity URL is a custom URL address that is specifically branded for marketing purposes. Many social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus offer this facility. It helps users remember how to find specific pages – which means it should be easy to remember, use, and share. Often your name will be gone to someone who claimed it earlier, so we always suggest trying the best combination of your actual name rather than non-descript letters and numbers (which is what the system usually generates). Each site will have its own specific instructions on how to change this so simply search the site’s help section for instructions.
  5. Check your posts: Looking at what you’re posting and commenting on with an objective eye is really important. Think about the impression you might be giving to a potential recruiter – and be mindful of unnecessarily alienating people due to controversial beliefs or posts. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust – preferably someone with different beliefs to you. Again it’s not about concealing who you are, but rather about being mindful of your public image.
  6. Clean up your friends lists and likes: For Facebook, this means unfollowing people or businesses that no longer interest you. Consider grouping individuals into the readymade ‘Acquaintances List’ which means they will show up less in your feeds. Review all your groups and leave if they are no longer relevant. In addition, consider ‘unliking’ pages that contain posts and/or conversations which could be seen as inappropriate. For other social media sites, a similar approach is needed – review groups, likes, follows etc. and clean them up as appropriate.

Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. On a positive note, recruiters use social media to search for aspects about an individual that may demonstrate good cultural fit. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.

Is your social media presenting the best version of you online? Would you like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile or bio that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors? If so please see our LinkedIn profile writing service or check out our job search coaching service.

How to write a winning bio

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to write a winning bioToday’s digital world demands on online brand that defines and differentiates you. Conveying your distinct brand through a well written personal bio is essential in today’s competitive market. But writing your own professional bio with the right ‘message’ while still sounding authentic can be hard.

Whether you work for yourself as a freelancer, you’re employed by a large multi-national, or you sit somewhere in between – having a winning bio that’s relevant and professional is essential. It’s important for inclusion on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter but it’s also what people will often see when they search for your name – so anyone with an online presence will benefit from one.

What is a bio?

A bio is basically your professional story or brand. The information provided is similar to what’s in your resume, but it’s more condensed, possibly less formal, sometimes with some personality thrown in, and often written in the third person. The purpose of a bio is to inform the reader who you are, what you do, and why you’d be of value to them. It needs to establish credibility and trust – and work hard to develop your own personal brand – which is an important concept to understand. For more information on developing your own personal brand, see the following articles: 5 tips to build your personal brand and How to build your personal brand, or search ‘personal brand’ on our blog.

When would you need a bio?

You might be wondering where you’d use a personal bio. There are many situations when you need one including:

  • As a summary on your LinkedIn profile (written in the first person)
  • As an introduction posted on your personal or company website or blog
  • As an inclusion in client proposals and quotations for credibility
  • Submitted to organisers for potential speaking spots or included in a conference agenda where you’re presenting
  • As an inclusion in a published article or document

What should be included in a bio?

This largely depends on where you’re going to use it. For example, LinkedIn has a character limit of 2000 which is pretty generous. If you’re writing a bio as a speaker for potential inclusion in a conference program, you might not be given as much space. I’d usually recommend having both a 1 page and ½ page bio and then adjust the content to suit different purposes. The information you’d start with (not all of which needs to be included in every situation) could include:

  • Your name and current position
  • Your recent and/or relevant experience
  • Your academic qualifications
  • Your credentials or other important information such as professional memberships
  • Any published work or previous presentations you’ve done
  • Any awards or other career honours you’ve received
  • Any interesting career achievements or anecdotes
  • A photo
  • Customer quotes/testimonials
  • Links to examples of your work
  • Your contact information

How do you write a bio?

As mentioned, there are many different format requirements, and usually you’ll be given a word or character limit. Typically, you would write it in the third person (or in the first person for your LinkedIn profile), in a conversational tone. Injecting an interesting, personal or unique piece of information will make people want to learn more about you. The bio shouldn’t be too long or wordy, and using short sentences and punchy paragraphs will make it easier to read. You could include links to more detail where relevant but be careful not to cram it with too much detail, and be sure to update it often. Don’t forget to save your different versions written for different purposes. Some may be longer and more formal, while others may be shorter and more conversational.

Do you need a bio for your work? Our professional writers can prepare a winning bio that will help you stand out from the crowd.  Contact us for more information.

 

How to be a great job seeker

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to be a great job seekerAs a job seeker, it’s important to think about the recruiter and what they’re looking for. Addressing all the requirements of the role in your application, and being prepared to discuss why you’re an ideal fit for the role during the interview are obvious drivers for success. But what are some of the other ways you can ensure you’re a winner?

Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, and energy. To ensure success, you need a plan. Of course you need a polished application – a revamped resume and customised cover letter as well as a strong LinkedIn profile. But what about a structured job search strategy? Here’s our tips on what you need to do today to ensure success:

  1. Ensure consistency: You literally have seconds to catch a recruiter’s attention. If you don’t do that very quickly, you might never get a second chance. Even after you’ve gained their attention, you have to hold it long enough to be selected as a viable candidate. If your digital profile doesn’t match what you’re saying in your job application, you might lose the battle. Make sure you clean everything up so that you maintain consistency with dates, titles, formatting etc. across all mediums. Recruiters don’t want to be confused, and they don’t want to be left wondering.
  2. Stay motivated: Learning to handle rejection is an important part of the job search process and learning how to not let it get you down is even more important. At the end of the day, it can be a numbers game – so try not to let it get you down – instead focus on the future, don’t get disheartened, and just keep moving forward.
  3. Seek assistance: Search your target role on popular job sites and identify common recruiters. Add the sites to your favourites folder and make a note of individual consultants, HR and/or recruitment managers. Try to gain introductions, either via LinkedIn or in person – and reach out to ask for help. Often, these types of requests can lead to opportunities – if not, you haven’t lost anything but a little time!
  4. Know your elevator pitch: Finding a job is a sales process. You are the product with features, benefits, referrals, and great potential. In this process, it’s extremely important you have a great ‘elevator pitch’. This is a story (short, sharp and punchy) that positions you and the value you provide. Think about it this way – what if you found yourself in a lift with the hiring manager of the job you always dreamed of? Do you have a 30 second pitch on how you’re the perfect fit for the job? Great job seekers know their elevator pitch, and how to customise it depending on the person they are talking to.
  5. Build your online presence: There are many ways to do this including LinkedIn, writing a blog, developing a personal website, creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work, however as a minimum, most job seekers should have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a current, professional photo. Fill out as many sections as you can as this will provide a comprehensive view of you, as well as creating additional opportunities to connect with others.
  6. Activate your networks: Many roles are never advertised so this is an important part of your job search strategy. Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face-to-face meetings etc. Join relevant professional associations and networking groups, and attend seminars and connect with people in your industry. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their careers page and follow them on social media.
  7. Check your social media: First impressions count with most employers these days reviewing candidate’s social media pages as part of the screening process. Make sure your privacy settings are appropriate, clean up any inappropriate content, and check and edit pictures where necessary.
  8. Take your time to apply: This may seem counter-intuitive – especially if it’s your dream role. But, the worst thing you can do is submit an application without proper preparation. Taking time to research the company and people who work there, and asking for advice can be invaluable in ensuring your application gets read. You could start by calling the contact person listed on the job ad and ask them what key things they’re looking for in an application. You might be surprised at what they say and at the very least you’ll have a leg up on other candidates who didn’t take the time to do this.
  9. Prepare for the interview: One of the biggest mistakes we see is candidates focusing on landing the interview, but not thinking too much beyond that. To prepare for your interview you could brainstorm common questions, practise your answers, research the company, prepare some relevant questions of your own, plan what you will wear, and practise listening without interrupting – so you can respond more effectively to every question you get asked.
  10. Stay in touch: Once you’ve identified relevant recruiters and companies, make sure you follow them up at regular intervals and stay in touch.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex. Be prepared for the process to take considerably longer than you’re expecting. For higher paying roles it can take 6 – 12 months before you achieve success. There are many different avenues to leverage within the job search process so being organised will help.

Would you like to become a more successful job seeker? Perhaps you need assistance with writing a winning resume, creating a job search strategy, updating your LinkedIn profile or improving your interview skills? If so, please see our Resume and Cover Letter writing, Job Search Coaching, LinkedIn profile writing and Interview Training services.

How to adapt in our changing digital world

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to adapt in our changing digital worldRecent research conducted by Manpower indicates we are in the middle of a ‘skills revolution’, both in Australia and around the world. With digital transformation happening within most organisations, and technology evolving rapidly, the types of skills employees need are ever-changing. So what will the most in-demand skills be and how do you ensure you have them?

With the necessary skills changing at a rapidly increasing pace, most employers are reporting that they cannot find the talent they need. The people in demand are those that seek to continuously learn and adapt.

A recent Manpower survey asked 20,000 employers across 42 countries (with more than 1,500 participating companies from Australia) about the likely impact of automation on their headcount, the functions that will be most affected, and the human skills they value the most. The results indicate that automation is mostly a good thing for employees (as long as you have the right skills). While many companies agree that no one is immune from digitisation as more and more industries shift to advanced, automated processes, most employers expect their companies to grow rather than shrink – and the need for additional people – especially those with good IT skills to drive transformation – is real.

Labour market predictions often talk about the long-term extremes where technology will erode jobs – with robots replacing roles and even the threat of a world without work. However, this recent research indicates a different future, while providing a real-time view of the impact of automation on the workforce in the digital age – now and in the near-term. It shows which functions within companies are set to grow or contract. And it provides insight on the value of soft skills – or human strengths – that are in demand by employers but that are challenging to find.

The most in-demand individuals have a blend of human strengths with technical and digital know-how. 8 out of 10 companies say communication skills, written and verbal, is their most valued soft skill. We’ve identified several other skills we think will be important for individuals to succeed.

  1. Complex problem-solving skills – with increasingly complex problems that include incomplete, contradictory or ever-evolving requirements, threats and trends – people who can solve problems with 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 present 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 data for competitive advantage is a key skill to possess.
  3. Creativity and innovation – competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done doesn’t cut it. 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 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 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 can choose who to do business with and they can change that decision as often as they like. It’s no longer as difficult as it once might have been to switch suppliers or move to a different brand. People who make customer experience a priority, anticipating customer needs, and designing products and solutions to meet those needs, will be in demand.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear that we need to develop new skills if we’re going to keep pace with change. Employers will begin to rely more and more on people with the desire and ability to develop new skills. Employability today is becoming less about what you already know and more about your capacity to learn.

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 list of services.

Can a recruiter ask you that?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Can a recruiter ask you thatCertain topics of conversation are no-go zones during the hiring process, but there are many questions recruiters can ask in an interview that may surprise some candidates. In Australia, we have laws that make it unlawful for employers to ask job applicants specific discriminatory questions. There are situations, however, when you might be asked a question you’re not expecting that is perfectly legitimate.

In Australia we are protected by strong anti-discrimination laws at both a federal and state level. For example, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of a number of protected attributes including age, disability, race, gender, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation. However, on the flip-side there are many attributes that are not protected by law and some of the questions that recruiters are legally able to ask may surprise you:

  • Do you smoke? Legally, a potential employer can ask you if you smoke since it’s not a protected attribute. Whether or not that employer discriminates against you based on your answer is a grey area but the question in itself is legal.
  • Where do you live? Again, this is not a protected attribute. Employers want to know this for many reasons – primarily if your commute is too long and they feel you may not be reliable or that you will get tired of the travel time and leave after a short period. I had a client who lived in a regional area around 60 minutes from the Gold Coast where she was seeking work as a travelling sales rep. She was comfortable with the commute, but was knocked back six times for roles due to the distance. The travel time wasn’t an issue for her since she’d previously lived in Sydney and was used to long commutes, but for Gold Coast natives it was too long.
  • Do you have any medical problems? Whilst employers need to be careful here, asking questions about your health or requesting a pre-employment medical check is within their rights. While the question might be okay, it must be asked in relation to any potential health risks associated with the job or the industry, and your ability to effectively perform the job. E.g. If you had an existing issue with your back that would prevent you from lifting boxes or performing some other physical requirement of a role.
  • How old are you? Age is usually irrelevant, and it is unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their age (because it’s a protected attribute). However, where age relates to a specific job requirement, such as serving alcohol, then the question becomes a legitimate and legal one.
  • Do you have the right to work in Australia? We know that discrimination based on race or ethnicity is most certainly unlawful in Australia, however employers are able to ask you to prove your right to work in Australia. This means they can ask whether you are an Australian citizen or you have an appropriate work visa. In addition, there are certain examples where race might be a genuine occupational requirement – for example where specific local or cultural knowledge is required – particularly in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Do you have a criminal record? Whilst it is okay to ask this, and it’s also okay for a recruiter to make a job offer conditional upon a candidate obtaining a satisfactory criminal history check, refusing to provide it is not unlawful. In addition, there are limitations as to how the potential employer can use the information. In some states, it is unlawful to discriminate against a job applicant based on the fact that they have a criminal record – providing it is not relevant to their ability to perform the job. For example, if you’re working with people, a conviction relating to violence may be relevant, whereas a theft conviction might not. You also have no obligation to reveal spent convictions (which means you’ve fulfilled the 10 year waiting period from the date of conviction).
  • Do you have any tattoos or piercings? While tattoos and body piercings have certainly become more mainstream in recent years, with some employers relaxing their standards regarding visible tattoos and piercings, many employers still have policies that require employees to totally cover or remove them. The fact is there are no current laws that prohibit discrimination against people with visible tattoos, body piercings, unnatural hair colours, or unique hairstyles or other physical attributes. While it may seem unfair to be discriminated against for this reason, appearances still count and it most certainly could occur.

Job interviews can make even the most prepared candidates uncomfortable. If you’re feeling intimidated before your interview, understand that this is not uncommon. Doing some research on the company, being prepared about why you want the role, and having some answers ready that you can draw upon will help you feel confident. Understanding how to answer tricky questions if they’re asked is a great strategy to help you feel better prepared.

If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview and advice on how to maintain positive body language, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

Attention grabbing tips for your next cover letter

Article by Belinda Fuller

Attention grabbing copy for your next cover letterWe’ve long held the belief that the cover letter is one of the most important parts of your application. It’s the best way for you to grab the attention of the recruiter, introduce yourself, showcase what you offer, and highlight why you’d be a great hire. But with research showing you have just seconds to make an impression, you’ve got to get it right!

A cover letter provides the best way to introduce yourself to a recruiter. You need to convey who you are, what you have to offer, and why you want the job – but many experts believe you have just 20-30 seconds to do so. This is the time it takes an experienced recruiter to scan your application in enough detail to make a decision about whether or not to read further. In a crowded job market, recruiters notice ‘stand-out’ applications. This means it must be attention grabbing – easy to read with information that identifies you as an ideal candidate. Here are our tips to ensure your next cover letter stands out:

  • Tailor the content – while many candidates believe they can take a standard approach with their cover letter, this is not usually the case. Take notice of what the company is looking for by studying the job ad and/or position description. Customise your content to suit the role, cross-matching your applicable skills, experiences and qualifications to ensure everything you mention is highly relevant to the role.
  • Show passion for the job and/or the industry you’re applying for. Anything that demonstrates a love for what you do or for what the company stands for will grab the recruiter’s attention.
  • Talk about your love for the company – companies want to hire people who already know and love their brand. Ideally you want to incorporate some unique piece of company information into your letter – this could be a piece of current industry or company news and your opinion on it (so long as it’s not controversial or negative of course). It’s also perfectly okay to flatter. You could tell a short story about what attracted you to the company. Have you been a fan of the brand since you were a child? Has the product improved some aspect of your life? Have you dreamed of working there since XYZ? Stories bring everything to life – but keep them short, sharp and succinct – no one wants to read an essay.
  • Emulate the company’s ‘voice’ – take note of industry buzzwords and specific language in the job ad and use them throughout your letter. By mirroring the same language in your letter, you can demonstrate you understand the company’s environment, industry and culture.
  • Highlight successes – but make sure they’re relevant – the reality of the job search process is that it’s competitive. For most roles applied for, you’ll be competing with many other applicants. Usually, several of these applicants will be just as capable and/or qualified as you. A great way to grab attention is to highlight successes that demonstrate why you’d be an asset in the role. Focus on short stories that convey what you’ve done which have strong relevance to the new role. I like to list out the job requirements or repeat the bullet points that appear under ‘What you’ll need to succeed’ in the job ad – then provide short statements about what you bring for each one. If your background is extensive, start culling – only include examples that you think will interest the recruiter – those that showcase your skills, experience and accomplishments that directly relate to the role you’re applying for.
  • Inject personality – or add some humour. This is a great way to make a recruiter smile, and therefore give you a better chance that they’ll remember you. Showing you bring the right experience and skillset to the role, as well as some personality is important – but be careful about trying to be too funny, informal, sassy, or quirky.
  • Make it visually appealing – your cover letter should match your resume, with the same header, font and style. Use a modern template with a classic font and no clutter – something that looks professional and clean. Always save your documents to PDF format so there are no formatting issues when the recruiter opens it.
  • Quantify examples – if you can, use numbers, percentages or specific results to demonstrate successful outcomes. Try not to make generalised statements about what you can do or have done – back these up with concrete examples.

Remember, it takes many recruiters just 20-30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so. Make your application stand out by showing you’ve done your research! Talk about the company, the role, your love of everything about the industry – and highlight why you’d be an asset. Taking the time to really understand the role and explaining exactly why you want it will impress most recruiters.

If you would like assistance with writing an attention grabbing cover letter, please see our Customised Cover Letter and Resume Writing Services.

NextGen work – the new way forward

Article by Belinda Fuller

NextGen work - the new way forwardA recent study conducted by Manpower looked at ‘NextGen’ work and the trend of people choosing to work in non-traditional ways, searching for alternative work models in favour of traditional, full-time, permanent roles. It seems that part-time, contingent, contract, temporary, freelance, contract, on-demand online, and platform working are on the rise.

We know that today there are more and more people choosing to work in non-traditional ways for a variety of different reasons. Gigging or the ‘gig economy’ is a term used to describe the growing phenomenon of task-based employment. Rather than working as an employee and receiving a salary, workers receive one-off payments for individual tasks (aka ‘gigs’). In theory, this is just another term for freelancing or contracting, although the difference is scale – with gigging usually referring to smaller ‘tasks’ completed in a more casual or irregular way.

Usually, workers in the gig economy find jobs through dedicated websites and Apps (such as Airtasker or Fiverr) – signing up for the tasks they want to complete and only agreeing to complete work that appeals. For many people, it’s a great casual arrangement with the flexibility to control how much they work while studying or working in a full-time role. For employers – the gig economy can be appealing, since it cuts down on fixed costs such as office space, training and permanent wages and allows companies to seek out specialist skills and expertise as and when they need them – but it doesn’t provide the consistency and ongoing expertise that many companies need.

Manpower conducted a recent study which can be found here. The study looks at shifting labour market dynamics, the aging population, and changing skills requirements which are being driven by technological progress and globalisation. The study found, across the board, that what people want from work is changing significantly. The ‘Monday to Friday, 9 to 5′ job has moved on with the majority of jobs growth over the last 10-15 years occurring in the alternative ways of working mentioned above. Manpower’s study found that while the gig economy or the ‘uberisation of work’ is making headlines, the number of people actually earning a decent living from gigs is still relatively small. What people and businesses really want is NextGen work – new ways of working that still offer career security, opportunity for growth and prosperity for individuals.

What is NextGen Work?

NextGen work is a flexible, non-permanent way of working. While flexible working has already existed for many years, studies indicate that at least 30% of the Australian workforce undertakes some kind of freelance, contract or casual work – with many doing it by choice rather than necessity. And it’s not just the younger generation that enjoys the fact they can pick and choose work to focus on. Older workers are also embracing the trend to reduce stress, increase flexibility, take back control of their career and life, and in many situations earn higher levels of income for their difficult-to-find skills and unique levels of experience.

While people want different types of careers at different times in their lives, the Manpower survey found that 87% of people would consider NextGen work for their next job, or in the future. And employer demand for NextGen workers has risen consistently for decades too. The reasons for choosing NextGen work are diverse and include:

  • Earning extra money
  • Having the flexibility to do different things
  • Learning new skills
  • Reducing stress
  • Having a better work life balance with more control over time

Most people taking on NextGen jobs, work for themselves. They choose when and where to work – and when not to. While some individuals prefer jobs with regular hours, NextGen workers value flexibility and control over their work schedule over working regular hours as a full-time, permanent employee.

Many individuals now mix short-term jobs, contract work, consulting gigs and freelance assignments to create their own portfolio career. There is no doubt that the gig economy or NextGen way of working is here to stay. The opportunities for NextGen work options are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life with employers appreciating the skills, expertise and fresh eyes that new team members can bring. If you’re going down this path – be prepared to work hard and allow some time to build your client base and reap the rewards this type of career can bring.

Would you like help deciding whether or not to join the NextGen wave of work?  If so, please see our career counselling services.

 

How to handle rejection

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to handle rejectionLearning how to handle rejection while job hunting is tough. You need commitment, effort and persistence to ensure success in today’s job market. With multiple avenues available to search for, apply and secure your role, not to mention the competition, it can be complex. As hard as it is, it’s an important part of the job search process and one you need to learn to manage.

Even though we are experiencing a fairly buoyant job market at the moment, our evidence from talking with clients on a daily basis suggests it can take at least six months, sometimes longer, to secure a new role. If you’re sending out application after application only to receive rejection letters (or worse, nothing), it’s easy to get disheartened.

Rejection is a normal part of the job-hunting process and will help you to learn, grow and move one step closer to the perfect role. Until you get there, here are some tips for keeping your spirits up during the search.

  • Don’t take it personally: It’s easy to take rejection personally. But remember there are usually a variety of factors that recruiters consider when making their decisions. In addition, there are often upwards of 100 applicants for a single role. It might just be a case of how well you stacked up against the other applicants on that occasion as opposed to your overall suitability for the role.
  • Don’t get bogged down: Negativity is pervasive and once you start those thoughts, it can be hard to get rid of them. Move on from any rejections or disappointments quickly and treat every application as a fresh new opportunity. Maintaining your positivity and enthusiasm will also help you perform better when you do land an interview.
  • Treat it like a job: Looking for a job is hard work! We suggest clients try to complete some job search tasks every day – whether that be networking with old colleagues, searching for jobs to apply for, talking to recruitment agencies, polishing your resume, or practising for an interview – do something constructive every day but make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.
  • Remember some things are not meant to be: No matter how perfect a job might seem at the time, I’m a big believer that if you don’t get it, then it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s often only in retrospect that we can clearly see that failure or rejection can make way for the best opportunity yet.
  • Don’t settle for second best: Stay focused – the longer you look, the more tedious the process can become. After a long period applying for jobs with few positive results, it can be tempting to lower our expectations and settle on anything, especially if you are keen to leave your current role. Remember that lowering your expectations is not the best approach for your career in the longer term, and you may just be right back where you’re at now in no time at all. Employers value signs of passion and determination, so reflect this in your application, even if you lack the experience.
  • Focus on your strengths: It’s important to be able to clearly and concisely articulate your value and the accomplishments you have made in an appealing way. If you have a good understanding of the areas you need to excel in to achieve the type of role you’re looking for, this process will be easier. Even though you didn’t get the job you thought was perfect – your skills and qualities will be perfectly suited to another company and position – it’s just a matter of talking about them with enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Improve your approach: If you’ve been at it for a while, take some time out to assess your progress. Are your resume, cover letter and application documents tailored for each role? Are the roles you’re applying for truly a good fit? Have you done any networking? What can you improve? Whether its rewriting your resume and cover letter, putting some time into your LinkedIn profile, or practising your interview skills – find ways to improve what you’re currently doing. If you’re applying for government roles, make sure you address the required selection criteria specifically how they’ve requested. The selection criteria process has evolved significantly over the past few years, so the approach you may have used previously might not be relevant now. For tips, refer to our previous articles on responding to selection criteria. For other improvement tips, see our articles on resume writing, LinkedIn, and interviews.
  • Ask for feedback: If you didn’t get the job following an interview, ask for some feedback. Many recruiters are happy to provide this. The reason why you didn’t get the job is often not what you think. This feedback can be used to assist in perfecting your next application or interview.
  • Learn new skills: If there are gaps in your skill set, think about taking a short course or volunteering for extra responsibilities in your current role. There are plenty of short (often free) courses available online that can fill a gap – some worth looking into are: Lynda, Alison, and MOOC.

In a competitive job market, landing an interview is a huge achievement. Learning to handle rejection is an important part of the job search process and learning how to not let it get you down is even more important. Acknowledge what you did well and understand some things are out of your control. Learn from every experience, then try to let it go and move on to the next application.

If you would like help in searching for your next role, please see our Job Search Coaching, Interview Training & Coaching, or Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.