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.

How to prepare for an interview without sounding like a robot

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to prepare for your interview without sounding like a robotWe often talk about preparing for interviews – it really is one of the most important parts of the whole job application process – one we find is regularly overlooked. While it’s great to be prepared, it’s important to remember the vital part of connecting with your interviewer. So what’s the best way to prepare without sounding rehearsed?

We hear about it often from both recruiters and candidates – bombing out at an interview as a result of ill preparation. You may be the best candidate for the role, but if you don’t perform well in the interview, it’s unlikely you’ll progress. Whilst it is important to prepare and practise responses, there is a danger that you can sound overly rehearsed. You want to sound confident and articulate but not robotic or false. Here’s our tips to help you strike the balance.

  • Practise a few different ways of introducing yourself – many interviews start off with some form of ‘tell me a bit about yourself’. It’s important to tailor this response based on the role, company, interviews and the recruitment stage you’re at. However, having three or four versions that you can tailor is a good place to start. Then before each interview, research the company, role and interviewer so you can work out where your focus should be.
  • Don’t memorise scripted answers – by all means identify the types of questions you might be asked and prepare standard responses but instead of specific responses, use key concepts, words and phrases that you can draw upon depending on the question and direction of conversation. Think about the key skills and experience required to excel in the role and relate your own expertise back to that. If you identify all the technical or specialist skills, qualifications and experience you need as well as the ‘soft’ or generic skills required – areas such as communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and initiative – then prepare mini stories that demonstrate that skill – you should be prepared to answer any question that is asked.
  • Prepare notes on your job history with key areas to discuss – candidates often can’t recall what they did in previous roles, particularly if some time has passed. Review your job history and create quick mental or physical lists of areas to discuss so you can quickly and confidently answer questions about specific roles. A better option is to prepare mini success stories that demonstrate the value you provided – have these on hand to help you articulate your experiences and accomplishments more clearly.
  • Work out what differentiates you – being able to set yourself apart is essential. Identify your unique skills and qualities and again practise talking about them. You’ve landed an interview and now it’s time to impress. Don’t come across as bored or uninterested – make an effort to show your positive approach and explain why you’re different to others.
  • Prepare some questions – asking informed, well thought-out questions will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are interested in the role and the company – while helping you to gather some information that’s going to be useful in making a decision about whether or not you really want to work there. Asking questions in an interview won’t make you appear rude or arrogant – quite the opposite in fact – it’s the perfect way to show off several of the most important traits that recruiters are looking for. Focus on the company, the industry, the role and its performance criteria, company culture, how they measure success, and the company’s timeline for making a decision regarding the appointment. And don’t be afraid to take a list of questions with you – it shows you’re prepared and interested.
  • Build rapport – remember that a job interview is essentially a person-to-person conversation so make sure to use positive body language, eye contact, and a strong hand shake to engage the interviewer and build rapport. Leave a good first impression by arriving on time or a little early, unflustered with immaculate grooming and dress. It’s not just the content that matters but how you say it – smile and show passion, excitement and enthusiasm when you talk.

It is possible to be well prepared for a job interview without sounding overly rehearsed. Try some of our suggested tips to help build your confidence while ensuring your personality still shines through.

Do you struggle to perform well during interviews? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

Google your name before hitting submit

Article by Belinda Fuller

Google your name before hitting submitIf you’re searching for a new role, you should assume the recruiter will Google your name. If that’s the case – what will they find? In today’s digital age, your online presence is just as important as your formal Resume and Cover Letter. It’s a way for the recruiter to see who you really are, and the results of that search are likely to influence the outcome of your application. So what can you do to protect that view?

If you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, wasting time sending out your Resume with no luck in securing interviews, now might be a good time to take control of your online profile. Google won’t reveal exactly how many queries it processes on a day-to-day basis but last year claimed it was ‘trillions’ – in other words at least 2 trillion! The search giant’s last ‘official’ figure was a claim in 2012 that 1.2 trillion specific searches were performed every day. With experts estimating the current figure is likely to include at least a billion specific name searches every day – that’s more than enough reason to take note of what comes up when your name is searched.

Since part of the recruitment process today will more than likely include some kind of online search, it pays to look at this aspect just as closely as you would your written material. We know that searches of social media platforms to screen job candidates before hiring them is high, but we also now believe a high proportion of employers are moving beyond social networks to perform more comprehensive searches on candidates’ entire online presence. While there are many reasons you may not secure an interview – there is no doubt that your online presence, or lack thereof, could be a contributor.

If you’ve never Googled yourself, do it now! What comes up? Here’s the fact – if an employer performs a search on you and doesn’t find something that accurately reflects your application – for example, a comprehensive and up-to-date LinkedIn profile; or worse they find something they don’t like such as a provocative or inappropriate Facebook post, the chances of you being invited in for an interview reduce. That’s why we all need to be proactive and remove and/or moderate the information you’d rather people didn’t see. This goes for information from sites you can control like Facebook but it’s also important to look at mistaken online reputation. If this is the case, ‘defensive googling’ is a way to differentiate your online presence. This involves claiming a distinctive version of your name, for example by including your middle name or initial, then using it consistently throughout all your online and other application materials.

In addition to getting rid of undesirable content and posts, you can also leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects. Think about what is going to make you stand out from the crowd and focus your content on positive hobbies and interests. This could mean including additional interests, volunteer work or charities you support. Don’t be afraid to use positive statements as part of your social media, since it encourages yourself and others.

Ignoring your online footprint or brand these days will most likely hinder your job search efforts. Most organisations take background checks very seriously, and much of these are now performed online. Once something inappropriate is uncovered, it’s going to be difficult to recover from that – with the chances of you securing your dream role slim. To be proactive about monitoring your online presence, establish a Google alert with your name. This way, you’ll be notified via email whenever your name hits the web.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Do you think you need to audit your online presence or gain some assistance to ensure your online presence on LinkedIn is accurate and up to date? If so, click here for our LinkedIn Profile Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching Services.

 

 

 

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