If you’re going through a redundancy or have in the past, you’ll understand the enormity of change it can cast on your life. In today’s business climate, redundancies are common and usually out of our control. As technology evolves and workplaces change, restructures occur and redundancies become inevitable. Then there are national and global events that no one can prepare for.
Being made redundant is generally a stressful time, with the loss of income and uncertainty about your next steps. But it can also give you a chance to pause and reassess your career path. It can be the catalyst for positive career change and ultimately take you down an exciting new road.
Read on for our tips on how to bounce back.
- Don’t panic! Resist the urge to spring into action immediately. Take some time to regroup and reflect on your new direction. Remember, you’re not alone – many people go through a redundancy at some stage. In fact, there was a 45% increase in redundancies from 2017 to 2019, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. And it doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on you, since many companies have downsized or restructured in recent years, and there are often circumstances beyond your control.
- Reassess your career path. This is an opportunity to evaluate your career path and goals. Make the most of the time you have now to set a new course for the future. Look back on your career to assess previous roles and reflect on what you enjoyed. Consider different factors for your next role – for example, market sector, location, company size, organisation structure, responsibilities, salary and benefits. This can help you pinpoint your preferred path. And once you start searching for a new role, this information could provide a perfect recruiter brief, helping recruiters to understand what’s important to you and where you want your career to head.
- Consider studying or retraining. If you’re interested in a change of career, research the skills needed to make that change. Look at online and face-to-face courses and get a clear idea of what’s needed to move into your chosen area.
- Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. When you’re ready to kickstart your job search, your first task should be to update your resume, LinkedIn profile and other relevant profiles. Nearly every industry uses LinkedIn to research candidates, so make sure your LinkedIn profile is more than a storage place for career contacts – it should be an evolving record of your professional life that helps market you as a great candidate. Make sure your work experience is up to date, your profile picture is current and your contact details are displayed. You can also set your profile to ‘Looking for a job’ which makes it easier for prospective employers to find you. Once your LinkedIn profile is up to date, you can align your resume with it, adding more detailed information about your responsibilities and achievements. Having your resume ready to go means you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
- Start your job search. After preparing your LinkedIn profile and resume, it’s a good idea to brush up on your job application and interview skills. You should also register with relevant recruitment agencies and set up automated job searches on Seek and LinkedIn. If there are specific companies you’d like to work for, visit the careers sections on their websites and send them your resume. Or you could try connecting with current key employees on LinkedIn.
- Reach out to your networks. Leverage your network of connections by letting them know you’re looking for a new opportunity. Email them, call them, organise a coffee catch-up – you never know where it may lead. Taking advantage of your network can be key to securing your next position.
- Maintain a positive routine. Your mental well being can take a hit when going through a redundancy, even if it’s voluntary. Work provides a huge amount of structure to your life, so when you no longer have that, it’s important to create positive routines for yourself. This will help you maintain a healthy body and mind and a professional presence. Do things that make you feel good such as exercising, eating well and catching up with friends and family where possible. Redundancy doesn’t last forever, so staying positive and focusing on your well being alongside planning your next career move will help you progress in the right direction.
- Stay open-minded. The job market constantly shifts, salaries fluctuate and competition can be fierce. While it might not seem ideal initially, being open to compromise when it comes to your next role or salary can help you find the right opportunity. It won’t always be as simple as walking into a similar role in a different company or jumping straight into your dream job. Use your redundancy as a chance to assess different types of roles that might be a good fit. Think laterally, considering your transferable skills and what you enjoy most. Your next role may not always be what you expect – but it could be your best yet!
Finding your way forward after a redundancy can feel overwhelming. If you’ve lost your job, you’re considering changing careers or you’re unsure of your next step, our Career Counsellors can provide guidance and clarity. Our team of professionals can also assist with LinkedIn profile writing, resume writing and interview training and coaching.
The end of the year is typically a slow time for the job market, but don’t let that slow you down! While you may be unlikely to receive a job offer between now and the new year, the holidays are the perfect time to get organised and kick-start your job search for 2020.
Here are seven things you can do over the festive season to supercharge your job search.
- Research your options: Review job ads on sites such as Seek and LinkedIn. You don’t need to actually apply, but seeing what’s out there now will help you tailor your approach when the time comes. Play around with search options using different titles, industries and keywords. Open your search out to other locations or industries. You may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but some positions will be a close match. Read each relevant ad to understand all the requirements. This will help you decide what’s important to include in your application and determine if you have any major skills gaps that you need to think about how to address.
- Get organised: Today’s job market is competitive and multifaceted. Use your downtime to establish automated job searches, identify relevant recruiters, update your application materials (see tip 4 for more on this) and enhance your online presence. Having these things in place will help you stand out from other candidates when it’s time to apply. For tips on developing a structured job search strategy that helps you connect with recruiters and employers, read our previous article, Winning Job Search Strategies and start planning.
- Understand the hidden job market: Many of the jobs available are never advertised, so accessing the hidden job market is an important piece of the puzzle. The key here is building your networks. Establish connections via LinkedIn with the recruiters you identified in the previous step, and create a standard pitch that explains why you want to connect and what you can offer. Write a list of companies you’d like to work for, then read their websites’ careers pages and follow them on social media. To start building your profile, look for opportunities to network with others in your industry, such as through LinkedIn Groups, and contribute to discussions.
- Update your application materials: This includes your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Our career advice blog is packed with tips on writing a great resume that’ll get you noticed. We also recommend writing a customised cover letter for every job you apply for, which addresses as many job requirements as possible. Use the holidays to prepare generic cover letters and/or paragraphs that you can then modify to suit specific roles. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, so optimise your profile with keywords, so you can be found. Include a current professional photo and try to complete every section. Don’t waste your About section (previously called the Summary section) – use it to highlight your key skills, experience and strengths, and create a picture of who you are and the value you offer.
- Prepare for interviews: A big mistake many job seekers make is not preparing for an interview. Use the holidays to brainstorm the types of questions you might be asked and how you can articulate your successes. Think about examples that demonstrate your strengths, accomplishments and how you’ve handled different work situations. Having a bank of examples to draw on will increase your confidence and improve your performance. To help you formulate your examples, read our previous article about using the STAR approach. You can also find numerous articles on preparing for an interview, as well as our ‘how to answer’ series, which looks at common interview questions.
- Build your network: Connecting with existing and new contacts is a powerful way to uncover work opportunities. While the holidays might not be the best time to reach out to everyone, you can use the time to plan how you’ll grow your network in the new year. For example, you might draft emails that can be sent later, write a list of people to call in the new year, learn how to use LinkedIn and Facebook more effectively, and/or research face-to-face and online networking groups you could join.
- Assess your social media: Many recruiters and employers look up candidate’s social media pages as part of their screening process, so ensure you’ve set privacy settings to an appropriate level. Also make sure that if potential recruiters and employers can see your feed, the content is appropriate and won’t hurt your chances of securing an interview.
Today’s job market is competitive and complex so being prepared is key. Take advantage of the quiet holiday period to get organised and develop a job search strategy, and you’ll be ready to go in the new year!
Do you need help developing a standout resume, detailed job search strategy or professional LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills? See our Resume Writing, Job Search Coaching and Interview Training services to find out more.
Katie Roberts gift vouchers are also available and make an inspiring Christmas gift for friends or family.
Choosing the ‘right’ career is no easy task. You might be new to the workforce and unsure which path to take, or unhappy in your current role and looking for a new challenge. Wherever you’re at, when it’s time to make a choice about your career, it’s common to feel stuck. Here are our top tips on narrowing down your options and choosing a career that suits your personality, preferences and skills.
What we do for work can be one of the most important decisions we make. Many of us will spend around a third of each day at work – and sometimes more – so finding a career that aligns with our values and preferences is important. If you’re not sure which direction you should take, or you want to feel more fulfilled in your job, read on for our tips on finding a career that suits you.
Tip 1: Think about what excites and energises you
This is a great first step. We all want to like and enjoy our job. And while passion isn’t the only requirement for being content in your career, it will help you stay motivated and engaged, and keep you going through the tough times. But you may not feel that passionate about any specific career, or perhaps you’re interested in multiple areas and can’t decide on just one. So instead of focusing just on jobs, think about your personality and what you do (and don’t) enjoy doing.
Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, you probably have an idea of what you like or dislike, work-wise, and this can help narrow down your options.
For example, perhaps you enjoy travelling and dislike working in heavily structured environments, or maybe you don’t like big cities and the idea of working remotely appeals to you.
Start by making a list of likes and dislikes. Do you like working in a team or would you rather work independently? Do you value structure or do you prefer flexibility? What appeals to you about certain workplaces and what do you find off-putting? Once you’ve written down as many likes and dislikes as you can think of, you’ll start to build a clearer picture of the type of work that suits you. All these little personal preferences can help lead you towards your perfect career.
Tip 2: Evaluate your skills
Think about the life and work skills you already have, and those you would like to build on. Which skills come easiest to you? For example, communication, self-management, teamwork, problem solving or analysis? Every career needs these skills, but some more than others. For instance, great communication is especially important in sales, marketing and management careers, while analytical skills are more important in finance or IT roles.
Tip 3: Research career prospects and trajectory
If you’ve identified that a certain career would be a good fit for you based on your personality and preferences, make sure you consider all the facts. For example, have you thought about your prospects? How easy will it be to find a job in your chosen area and what sort of compensation can you expect?
You should also consider career trajectory and what your role might look like five or ten years down the track. Would you still enjoy the job if you ended up managing people and had less time to create things or work directly with customers? It’s also a good idea to research the types of promotions you could expect over the coming years and whether you’ll have a chance to grow and expand your skill set.
Tip 4: Get some practical experience
Experiencing a career firsthand is the fastest way to determine whether or not it’s a good fit, and having some practical experience can also make you more employable once you begin your job search.
If you’re still in school, work experience placements and internships offer a chance to try out certain jobs and industries. And if you’re already working, you can gain practical experience by volunteering or taking a course that allows you to develop new skills and make contacts in your industry of interest.
Tip 5: Talk to other people
One of the best ways to discover a new career is to ask other people about theirs. Use your existing contacts as a reference point for information about different roles and careers. Your LinkedIn network can be a good place to start seeking information.
Tip 6: Consult a career coach or mentor
It may also be a good idea to consult a qualified career coach, who can take a solution-based approach to helping you discover a career aligned to your personality, interests and values. With experience across a variety of industries and extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations, a good career coach can be invaluable.
By using tools and techniques such as personality profiling and career interest assessments, a career coach can provide new insight and information on careers that might suit you. They can also help you explore your options and create a realistic and personalised action plan.
Tip 7: Consider your short- and long-term goals
Now that you’ve spent some time thinking about a career that’s right for you, your next step is to define some achievable goals. To make your career dreams a reality, what are you going to work towards in the coming months and years?
In a document or spreadsheet, list the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goals, and a date you’d like to achieve them by. Your goals can be small or large, but make sure they’re realistic. Taking time to define the steps required to achieve your career aspirations, and breaking them down into manageable goals, will help you turn your daydreams into a rewarding, long-term career.
Are you ready for a change but feeling unsure about what kind of career would suit you best? An experienced career coach can be invaluable in helping you create a better future for yourself. See our Career Counselling Services to learn how our career experts can support you through the process of choosing a career and taking your first steps.
Have you had an extended break from the workforce? Are you looking to return to full- or part-time work, but unsure where to start? The process can seem daunting after a long break – but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how you can you achieve a smooth and successful transition back into work.
Many people take a break from their career at some point, whether it’s to study, travel or start a family, or for health or other personal reasons. Whatever your reason for taking time out, returning to the workplace can feel daunting. In this article, we look at some first steps you can take to help make the transition back to work a positive experience.
- Consider the type of work you’d like to do: Make a list of what you’re looking for when you go back to work. What type of position would you like? Do you want to return to what you were doing before or are you looking for a change? Do you want to work for a company with promotion opportunities, or would you prefer a job where you can go in, do your work and head home without having to worry about your team? The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find something suitable.
- Update your skills: Before you start working on your resume and applying for roles, a great first step is to update your skill set. This will help boost your confidence while giving you a stronger resume. Look for opportunities that help fill gaps in your experience, such as taking an online course, completing an internship or doing some volunteer work.
- Refresh your resume: When you’re returning to work after a significant break, creating a functional resume, rather than a standard chronological resume, can work best. This involves focusing on your skills and successes rather than the precise dates of your employment. You can showcase your experience under headings such as ‘marketing experience’, ‘project management’ or ‘leadership’ and then list your achievements accordingly. To find out whether a functional resume is right for you, and how to create one that helps you shine, read our recent article here.
- Don’t underestimate yourself: Focus on the great skills and experience you have, and think about any new skills you may have acquired during your break. Recruiters and employers value these skills, especially when they’re relevant to the role you’re applying for, so include them in your resume. For example, you might have developed new skills through activities such as: managing a large house renovation; contributing to local sporting clubs, committees and coaching teams; volunteering for your local community or charity organisations; assisting with local fundraising activities; and creating or managing side projects, such as events or a small business. All these activities require skills such as relationship building, communication, organisation and prioritisation, and often the ability to create something with little or no budget. These are all valuable skills in a workplace.
- Update your social media profiles: With more than 645 million members around the world, LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting yourself and seeking out potential employers. It’s also a widely used tool among recruiters and employers. As well as checking out applicants’ LinkedIn profiles, recruiters will often Google applicants’ names, so it’s a good idea to see what comes up when you search your name. In addition to creating a professional, SEO-optimised LinkedIn profile, make sure your personal digital footprint helps rather than hinders your application. You can read our previous article for tips on how to clean up your social media.
- Tap into your networks: You can often find opportunities to re-enter the workforce through your existing networks. One way to do this is to send an email to family, friends and former co-workers/managers and attach your resume. Let them know the type of position you are seeking and ask them if they’d mind forwarding on your details if they hear of any relevant positions. This may feel daunting, but most people like to help when they can. To grow your networks and open up more opportunities, you could also research and join local networking events and online groups.
- Consider part-time or temp work: If your job search is taking longer than expected, consider part-time work or find an agency that offers temporary or contract positions. Do an online search for agencies in your area and contact them to request an interview. If you get your foot in the door with the right company and prove yourself, you have a good chance of receiving a full-time offer down the track. Plus going part-time initially can be a good way to transition, giving you time to adjust.
- Consult a career coach: If you’re considering changing careers on your return to work, a career coach can help. Experienced career coaches have extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations and offer professional, independent advice on your options. They can help you build your confidence and give you the support you need to make the transition.
Re-entering the workforce after an extended break can be tough, but there are things you can do to make this change feel less daunting and more positive. Follow our tips above to take your first steps, and things will flow on from there.
Are you feeling daunted by the prospect of returning to work after taking time out? Do you need help assessing your skills and experience, and presenting yourself in the best possible light to secure the job you want? Our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services might be just what you need.
Hypothetical interview questions put you in an imaginary situation and ask how you’d react. They are similar to role plays. Interviewers ask these types of questions to assess your problem-solving skills, how quickly you can think on your feet and how clearly you express yourself. Questions will often begin with “Imagine you are…” and are designed to assess your thought process rather than extract ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.
These questions also help recruiters put candidates on an even playing field, since the same hypothetical situation can be proposed and candidates’ answers can be assessed against each other.
How to prepare for a hypothetical
You might think it would be difficult to prepare for hypothetical questions, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Questions usually revolve around solving a work-related problem, so it can help to think about possible issues that could arise in the role you’re applying for. Depending on the role, the question might focus on:
- Resolving a customer complaint or issue.
- Addressing a case of employee theft or misconduct.
- Getting to the bottom of employee conflict.
- Missing an important deadline.
- Dealing with an aggressive customer.
- Working with team members who aren’t pulling their weight.
- Being passed over for promotion or additional responsibility.
Once you’ve come up with some potential situations, the next step is to think about how you’d resolve them and why you’d take that approach. Drawing on past experience to describe a similar situation you’ve faced and how you reacted is a good way to respond. This shows the interviewer that you’ve ‘been there, done that’ and worked successfully in a similar scenario. You also shouldn’t be afraid to mention things you wouldn’t do.
Tips for answering a hypothetical question
- Don’t feel pressured to rush your answer: Take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and resist the temptation to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. The interviewer is testing your problem-solving skills and wants to see reasoned thinking.
- Clarify if you’re not sure: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need further explanation. Asking a question or two can also buy you a little thinking time.
- Stay on point: Try not to ramble or go off on tangents. Tell your story in a structured way, with a beginning, middle and end. Come to the conclusion naturally with a clear description of your desired outcome or result.
- Don’t think there is a definitive right answer: Discussing your approach – where you’d start, what you’d think about, who you’d talk to, what steps you’d take, etc. – is sometimes better than trying to provide an answer or resolution. The interviewer isn’t necessarily asking you to solve the problem for them – they want to know how you would approach it.
- Use your own history: Consider preparing some examples focused on common skills such as problem solving, communication, people skills and customer service, as well as general challenges you’ve faced. When a question is posed, you may be able to draw on one of your prepared examples and adapt it to suit the hypothetical situation. You can then say “I actually faced a similar situation and was able to do XYZ.” Again, this shows that you have relevant experience.
It might seem impossible to prepare for hypothetical questions, but by analysing the job description, you can get a sense of what an interviewer might ask. What are the focus areas for the role? If it’s heavy on customer service, you might be asked how to resolve a complaint; if deadlines are important, you may need to explain how you’d handle a missed deadline; if you’re leading people, you might have to discuss handling a conflict. Take time to prepare some thoughts and examples, and boost your chances of success.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
When you’re hunting for a job, there are so many factors outside of your control that it can make the process feel stressful and overwhelming. But there are plenty of factors you can manage too. So if you’ve been searching without much success, it could be time to take control! Here are six ways you can do it.
- Get some perspective – It’s tough out there. Being turned down numerous times can be discouraging. But sometimes we get caught in a negative mindset when things aren’t actually as bad as we think. Try bringing a fresh perspective to your job search. Recognise that it’s a process that takes time and commitment, and set some realistic expectations about the work involved. Give yourself a decent period of concerted effort before you even think about feeling disheartened.
- Be over-prepared – You can’t control your competition but you can control your own performance. That means presenting an application that responds to all the requirements of the role, and being as prepared as possible in an interview. Get clear on what you offer and where your strengths lie, and be prepared to talk confidently about yourself and your achievements. Make an effort to understand the company and/or the industry to understand and articulate how you might be able to solve a challenge or contribute to the company’s success.
- Be clear about your value – Recruiters are time-poor so make it easy for them to see your value. Review the job ad and ensure your application ‘matches’ what they are searching for. Sometimes companies rely on an applicant tracking system to filter applications. Other times, a less experienced team member might complete a first review. This means you need to be very specific about your experience and capabilities, using keywords such as exact titles and important words and phrases used in the job ad.
- Demonstrate success – Past performance is a clear indicator of future success. Detail previous accomplishments to show employers what you might be capable of in a new role. This is important in your application (including your cover letter, resume and any selection criteria response), but also in an interview. Come armed with stories about your successes that you think the employer will relate to and that align with the organisation’s goals.
- Access the hidden job market – Many jobs are never advertised; instead they’re found on what we call the ‘hidden job market’. Word of mouth is your way in, so get networking with people in your industry, connect with appropriate recruiters, join relevant LinkedIn Groups and keep building and using your LinkedIn profile. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer, then set up meetings with potential recruiters or introducers to discuss opportunities. Think about companies you’d like to work for, then read their online careers page and follow them on social media. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many ways to connect with your network so use them all: phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, professional association seminars, and in-person and online networking groups.
- Be realistic – Be honest about what you can realistically offer a new employer. It’s tempting to apply for more senior or challenging roles, which is great (it’s important to expand our potential!), but make sure that what you’re applying for is attainable. If you’re not hearing back from companies you’ve applied to, put yourself in the employer’s position. What do you look like on paper? You may believe you have what it takes, but if you can’t demonstrate that, you might lose out to another candidate who already has the relevant experience.
Today’s job market is competitive and the job search process can feel daunting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve success. If you’ve been feeling discouraged about your job search, it might be time to take back control!
A customised job search strategy and a tailored, professionally prepared application can make a huge difference to your job search. Need some help? Take a look at our Job Search Coaching Services and Resume Writing Services.
In a crowded job market, it can be difficult to stand out. This is particularly true if you believe some of the common recruitment myths. Read on for a list of the myths we hear most often, so you can rethink your application approach and give yourself a better chance for success.
MYTH: You should apply for as many jobs as possible
FACT: While broadening your horizons is often a good thing, we believe quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the jobs you go for. Applying for some well-chosen roles and tailoring your application to ensure you hit the mark for each one will most likely give you better results in the long run.
MYTH: You won’t get the job without experience
FACT: There are many exceptions to this, so don’t let that belief hold you back. If you demonstrate the right attitude and transferable skills, you may have a shot. Think about existing skills and achievements that make you an asset. Network with people you’d like to work for or with and attend relevant industry events. Companies really value cultural fit these days so show the employer what you have to offer, using passion and commitment to make up for your lack of experience.
MYTH: Your resume needs a unique design
FACT: This can actually be a hindrance. In most cases, an elaborate or unusual design isn’t a good idea since it can detract from your message and make it harder for a recruiter to find what they’re looking for. (The exception may be if you’re in a creative industry). The content you include is more important than design, although it must look professional, of course. It’s best to stick with a clean, simple style with a conventional layout. Aim for a contemporary design that attracts the recruiter’s eye without overwhelming or polarising.
MYTH: Your resume must be no more than one or two pages
FACT: Keeping your resume too short can mean you don’t effectively showcase your capabilities. We recommend three to five pages depending on your role, industry and seniority unless otherwise specified in the job ad. Some countries such as the US and Canada prefer shorter resumes so make sure you adjust the length accordingly.
MYTH: You shouldn’t apply for a job unless you meet all the requirements
FACT: We often recommend to clients that they apply for jobs where they meet at least 80% of the requirements. Only applying for roles where you have all of the experience and qualifications stated may limit your chances for growth and development. Plus an employer isn’t necessarily looking for someone who’s done the exact same role before – rather, they want someone who they believe can do a great job now and into the future.
MYTH: You don’t need a cover letter
FACT: You usually have a very short amount of time to grab the recruiter’s attention (some recruiters say 20–30 seconds). A cover letter provides a great opportunity to customise your content to the role and show why you think you’re the ideal candidate, to help your application stand out. It allows you to share information about yourself (as it relates to the role) that you can’t include in your resume. A tailored cover letter also shows the recruiter you’re serious about the role.
MYTH: Working with one or two specialist agencies is the best approach
FACT: Many of our clients tell us they’re working with a great recruiter who specialises in their industry and will find them a suitable role. But recruiters work for employers and they’re usually hired exclusively for a role. As a candidate, you need exposure to more employers, which means you should be working with as many recruiters as possible. This also means doing a lot of legwork yourself. Sign up to job boards, research companies you’d like to work with and network with people in the industry to make sure you know about the jobs on offer.
MYTH: You should include a photo on your resume
FACT: You should only do this if you’re a model or an actor. The initial decision about your suitability for an interview is based on your capabilities, experience and accomplishments, not what you look like. Including a photo on your resume can also make it look a little dated, as this is an out-of-date practice. However, you should always include a photo on your LinkedIn profile (make sure it’s a professional-looking head shot). Want to learn more about how to supercharge your LinkedIn profile? Read our top four tips here.
MYTH: Your resume should include your entire work history
FACT: We generally recommend going back 10 years, and beyond that, including some background or summary information if relevant. So long as your recent career history is relevant to the role you’re applying for, we recommend limiting your content to that.
There are many factors involved in securing a new role and if you’re finding it tough, you’re not alone. Have any of the common recruitment myths above been holding you back? If so, you might need to change your approach – and you could just find it opens up new possibilities.
Are you confused about the recruitment process and feeling disheartened? Our professional writers can help you prepare a winning resume, cover letter or job application. See our Resume Writing Services to learn more.
When you’ve spotted a great job and you’re preparing your job application, it can be tempting to rush it. You want to get it in quickly and it can all feel a bit tedious. But since your application is your first (and sometimes only) chance to show why you’re suitable for the role, it’s important to pay attention.
If you’re applying for roles and not hearing back from recruiters, you might be making some of these common job application mistakes. So what do you need to avoid?
Mistake 1: Typos – Spellcheck and proofread all your application material meticulously. Spelling and grammatical errors are still a primary reason applicants are rejected, and it’s a mistake that’s easy to avoid. For any online responses, we suggest writing your response in Microsoft Word or Google Docs first, then copying it over once you’re happy. Feel free to use the spellchecker but make sure you also read everything multiple times to correct any incorrect autocorrects! Plus, your spellchecker won’t pick up on everything. Ideally, you should also have someone else read through your materials.
Mistake 2: Ignoring selection criteria requirements – Not addressing the criteria is a key mistake, but reordering them or not adhering to page, word or character limits are also big no-no’s. Don’t be tempted to rewrite or re-order specified criteria. Respond to it exactly as it appears in the job description, address the points they’re looking for and take careful note of page and word limits. You can provide other relevant ‘value add’ information in your resume and/or cover letter.
Mistake 3: Too much information – We regularly receive resumes from clients that are 10 or more pages long. No recruiter will read that much detail so determine what’s most important and cut the rest. Aim for a maximum of 3–5 pages. Use short, sharp paragraphs (5–6 lines) and plenty of white space. Break it up into clearly defined sections using subheadings and bullet points, and if you’ve held multiple (similar) jobs in the one company, consider grouping them rather than giving each one a new heading.
Mistake 4: Incorrect document file format – Make sure you follow any instructions about the document file format to use; for example, some job ads ask you to submit a PDF or MS Word document only. Many recruiters can’t open documents saved in Pages for Mac or other open-source or less-common formats. We recommend sending your document in MS Word format if the ad doesn’t specify.
Mistake 5: Not personalising your cover letter – Taking time to address your letter correctly can make a difference. If there is a name listed in the job ad, do a quick LinkedIn search to find out their correct job title and look at the company’s website to find their address. If no name is provided, add in the company’s address and attention the letter to the Recruitment Manager.
Mistake 6: Not customising your application – It’s important to tweak the content of both your cover letter and resume to suit the job requirements. Clients often ask us to write a ‘general’ resume or cover letter they can use for a range of different roles. By taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you miss an important opportunity to show why you’re ideal for the role and you may end up appealing to no one. If other applicants have highlighted more specific and relevant experience and skills, there’s a good chance they’ll be selected for an interview over you.
Mistake 7: Excluding contact details – If a recruiter likes what they see, they may want to call you immediately for a quick telephone screen or to organise an interview. Make it easy for them by including your email and mobile number in a prominent place on all application materials. And ensure your voicemail greeting is professional and friendly. (Read more about why your voicemail greeting may be hindering your chances of getting an interview.)
Many job applications contain mistakes – make yours stand out by eliminating any errors. Check, double check and triple check your application and ensure your content is clear, concise and relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Are you failing to get results from your job applications and feeling frustrated? Our professional writers can help you prepare a winning resume or job application. See our Resume Writing Services to learn more.
The latest instalment in our ‘How to answer’ series looks at the question “What interests you about this role?” This very general question can seem tricky to answer – exactly what should you focus on? Often it’s another way for the recruiter to ask “Why should we hire you?”. It’s not enough to simply say “I’m a great fit for the role”. Instead, your answer needs to touch on your relevant abilities, skills and experiences as well as demonstrate your interest in the company. It’s an opportunity to show why you’re ideal for the job and why you’re excited about it.
You should ideally frame your answer in a way that shows enthusiasm (for the role and the company) and understanding (of the role, the company and how you can add value). It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a strong answer prepared. When considering your response, we recommend you focus on three key areas: the job, the company and how you fit. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about these areas and what your answer might sound like.
- Talk about your priorities and preferences – identify three key things you really like about the role.
- Discuss areas of the role in which you excel and support those with examples using the STAR technique. These examples should demonstrate your accomplishments and success in the context of the role you’re applying for.
- Mention the opportunities the role offers to further develop special knowledge or skills.
Example: This role really interests me because I’d be responsible for X, Y and Z. In my current role, I manage X and Y, and I’ve excelled at providing X to various internal and external stakeholders. I’m keen to continue building on that success while also developing specialist expertise in the area of Z.
- Mention the company’s reputation or history of success (if relevant) or discuss a recent innovation.
- Demonstrate an understanding or appreciation of the work culture (based on what you’ve learnt through friends, colleagues, media etc.).
- Talk about a problem or issue that you know needs to be addressed (and your interest in supporting or participating in that process).
Example: I also value the company’s long history of success in the market and recent innovations that are seeing significant market share gains. I heard about the issue with distribution of ABC – I faced a similar problem in my last role, which we solved by rethinking the customer experience. I’d love to be able to contribute to something similar again.
- Compare the job description with your experience, and explain how you’ll be able to contribute, again using examples from your past to demonstrate success.
- Discuss your fit with company culture.
- Mention your interest in career progression (if relevant).
- Talk about any experience you have with the company (for example, that you use their products or services).
Example: My previous experience and success would help me to achieve some quick wins in certain areas, including XXX. I’m also excited at the prospect of learning more about XXX. The company’s mission aligns with my own professional values and I believe I’d be a great fit culturally. I loved what I read in the recent article by the CEO about the initiatives the company is undertaking to ensure ongoing enhancement to culture and employee engagement.
As with all interview questions, remember to answer the “What interests you about this role?” question strategically and with enthusiasm. Give the recruiter something to think about – a point of differentiation from the next candidate. Work out a response that includes something about the role you’re going for, the company and your suitability, and you’ll come off looking great.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
What’s the best way to stand out during the application process and get yourself an interview? In today’s job market, it’s common for recruiters to receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so there has to be something special about yours. Here’s how to give yourself the best chance of success.
Customising your job application to suit the specific requirements of a role is one of the most effective things you can do to secure an interview. When we talk about a ‘job application’, we’re referring to a collection of documents: your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and response to any selection criteria or specific questions.
While you might think it’s too hard or time consuming to customise this content every time, we encourage you to look at your application from the recruiter’s perspective and ask yourself ‘What’s in it for them?’ Your application should immediately present you as someone who can add significant value in the role. If it doesn’t do that, you’re not giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.
Follow these steps to create your best ever job application.
Step 1. Research: Read the job ad carefully. If possible, obtain a more detailed job description from the recruiter and identify exactly what’s required. Highlight skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If you know the company, view their website and search for any news or recent activity that may impact on the job. And take some time to understand the corporate culture. Emulating the kind of language the company uses and/or writing just one sentence in your cover letter referencing a current challenge or opportunity for the company could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.
Step 2. Sell yourself: If you don’t show the recruiter you have what they’re looking for, you probably won’t succeed. This process is simple once you know their pain points (i.e. problems) because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important, so make sure your documents address as many of the role requirements as possible. Use previous successes and achievements to show how you’ve added value in the past.
We recommend including a strong, carefully crafted career profile as the first section of your resume that gives a snapshot of your skills and experience. This also applies to your LinkedIn profile summary – you can tailor that section to cover off the key skills and attributes required in the role you’re applying for. In LinkedIn it’s not necessary to do this for every role, but if there is a role you’re applying for that involves new, different or unique skills that aren’t covered in your profile, you should incorporate them.
Selling yourself throughout your job history is also important. Within each role listed on your resume, provide examples of projects, successes and accomplishments where you added value.
A cover letter provides another important place to ‘sell yourself’ and is a great opportunity to customise content to the specific role and clearly state why you think you’re the ideal candidate.
Step 3. Use keywords: Once you know the top attributes a recruiter is looking for in a candidate, you can create a customised checklist of key capabilities. Your resume should already contain a section highlighting your key skills or capabilities. To tailor this section, check the job ad for important keywords and incorporate those into your list, and re-order your list so the most important/relevant skills come first. You can go one step further by rewording those points to suit the role.
Again, this applies to LinkedIn too – check you’ve covered off the main areas within your ‘Skills and Endorsements’ section. Writing a customised cover letter also allows you to use keywords – and it’s one of the best ways to make your application stand out. Research has shown that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. If a recruiter receives a large number of applications, having a cover letter that highlights key skills, experience and achievements that are highly relevant to the role you’re applying for will help you get noticed.
Step 4. Tweak your experience: For certain people, getting strategic about how they present their experience in their resume is a good idea. But we only recommend doing that in the following cases:
1) When recent experience is not relevant. You can reorder roles to prioritise relevant experience from your earlier work history. Simply create a new section called ‘Relevant Employment History’, then move your most recent and other irrelevant roles to a later section called ‘Other Employment History’. This ensures the recruiter sees your relevant experience first but the section title will make it clear why that experience is not recent.
2) When you have 15+ years’ experience. We usually recommend going back 10–15 years in your resume – so long as that job history provides a good picture of your experience in the context of the role you’re applying for. Any more than that will unnecessarily date you, while also potentially providing too much information for the recruiter to read. Think of your resume as a concise sales tool rather than a lengthy list of everything you’ve ever done. However, be guided by the job ad – if it says you need 20 years’ experience then include it.
3) When you’ve been out of work for some time. We generally don’t recommend including hobbies or other interests in your resume (you can list anything relevant on LinkedIn), but if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while – or you’re new to it – you could include experience outside of full-time work. Think about things you’ve done that highlight your suitability for the role, such as freelance, consulting or volunteer work. List them in a similar way to your other jobs, with the role, organisation, dates and description of what you did.
If you’re serious about landing a great job, preparing a customised application for every role you apply for is something you should make time for. While it might seem tedious, the reward outweighs the effort. Be selective about the roles you apply for and create an application that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Would you like help preparing a top-quality job application or LinkedIn profile that helps you secure your dream job? Our experienced writers can help you create a professional resume, customised cover letter and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice. To find out more, read about our Services.
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