Many people take extended breaks from work these days for a variety of different reasons. Whether you’ve taken time off to start a family, look after an unwell parent, or see the world, returning to work can be exciting but can also often be fraught with anxiety and stress. Whatever your situation, there is sure to be a mix of emotions with the adjustment taking some time to get used to.
The thought of returning to work and the 9 to 5 grind is tough enough without beginning to think about the job search process. Whether you planned your time off or not, there is no ideal approach for everyone. These general tips should help you to think about a personalised approach:
TIP # 1 – Address your barriers – it can be difficult to come across well in an interview if you are worried about returning to work – whether you are thinking about how you will cope with the hours and your young family, the fact that you’ve lost your confidence, or that your skills have become outdated. Whatever it is you are worried about, you need to address it. If you require training or professional help, seek it. Talk to friends or colleagues who have been through a similar situation so negative thoughts can be forgotten prior to any interview.
TIP # 2 – Be honest – we are often asked, “how should I explain the break in my resume?” and our answer is always the same – “be honest without necessarily providing a lot of detail”. If you have an obvious gap in your employment history – you need to explain it. That doesn’t mean creating a job called Domestic Manager and talking up your responsibilities during that time. Running a house and caring for young children is hard, but just say something along the lines of “Parental leave until children reached school age”. Likewise if you travelled, say so, or if you were caring for an ill parent or experienced illness yourself, say so – but briefly. Mention in your cover letter your desire, keenness (and readiness) to get back into your career and focus on the skills and experience you have to offer.
TIP # 3 – Consider a functional resume format – where you focus on skills and achievements rather than a chronological history of specific roles. List skills in detail first, then cumulative career achievements, followed by training, education and professional development, volunteering roles if you’ve held any, and lastly details on the roles you’ve held and dates.
TIP # 4 – Create a volunteer section – make sure to include any volunteer work in your Resume and talk about those roles in the same way you would describe paid employment. This means focusing on achievements – ask yourself how the organisation benefited from your work and include performance metrics if you can. E.g. raising money, organising events, increasing efficiency or effectiveness, or achieving success in other ways. Rather than simply stating you volunteered, talk about what you did and how that contributed to the success of the charity or organisation.
TIP # 5 – Check your image – check your work wardrobe is appropriate for your industry. Find out what is currently acceptable so you don’t feel outdated when going for an interview.
TIP # 6 – Include a customised cover letter – specifically addressing the requirements of the position. Create a strong introduction detailing your qualifications, previous experience and desire to work in the role, with the main part focusing on addressing the specific requirements of the role (what you’ve done/achieved previously); and a convincing closing paragraph summarising your interest in, and relevance for the role. Create a compelling reason for the recruiter to contact you for an interview.
TIP # 7 – Emphasise professional development – think about taking some time to complete some relevant courses that will add to your skills (with currency). Websites such as https://www.mooc-list.com/ offer a variety of free online courses.
TIP # 8 – Stay in touch – lastly and perhaps most importantly, don’t lose touch with your industry/profession or your networks. This means taking an interest and reading/researching on a regular basis to remain updated. Likewise, build and maintain your professional networks by keeping in touch with clients, colleagues and superiors as this can be much harder to achieve down the track. Create a LinkedIn profile, join relevant groups, and commit to staying active. Even allocating one hour a week to this task will ensure you are in a much better position when you do decide to return to work, than if you’d cut yourself off completely.
Would you like career advice and assistance planning your return to work? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.
If you are an employer and would like to assist redundant employees to secure a new role, please see our outplacement services.
With the majority of applications now submitted via email or online job application systems, what is the difference between an e-note or email and a traditional cover letter? Many of our clients are confused about whether to include both, and how much detail to include on each. This article explores the two approaches and evaluates the most effective use of each.
When clients ask us whether or not they need to include a separate cover letter when applying for a job via email, our answer is ALWAYS YES. Supplying a customised cover letter to accompany your Resume will give you the best opportunity to highlight your unique skills and successes that make you an ideal candidate for the role. The e-note/email should also be included and used as a way to briefly introduce yourself and your motivations for applying.
From an employer’s perspective, sending a short e-note without a customised accompanying cover letter can give the impression that the candidate is lazy and has opted to take a ‘short-cut’ approach. First impressions count, and in a competitive job market, you need to give the recruiter a reason to call you in for an interview – instead of the next candidate with similar qualifications, background and experience.
For email applications, we suggest attaching a cover letter and resume as separate documents. In the case of online applications, use the same approach where you create a separate customised cover letter targeted towards the role you are going for and upload both the Resume and Cover Letter. If the system allows for only one file – add your cover letter in as Page 1 of your Resume document.
When preparing your cover letter – we are not talking about a standard approach. We advise customising the letter for each role – put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and think about why you are right for the role, rather than why the role is right for you. Pay attention to all the details in the job ad or position description if you have one. What does the candidate need to achieve in the role, what are the company’s issues, and how can you help solve them? Provide brief details of scenarios where you’ve had similar successes in the past – and always provide proof of the outcomes you achieved. This should all be done succinctly and clearly.
For the e-note, our advice is to keep it very brief and reference the attached Resume and Cover Letter for context and detail. Use it as a way to provide a quick introduction. Don’t leave the subject line blank – use it to clearly reference the job title and specific job number if available. While we recommend keeping the content very brief in the email, we also strongly encourage professionalism and proper writing style. Use some letter writing etiquette – ‘Dear’ and ‘Regards’ will suffice, with your name and full contact details at the bottom. Avoid any abbreviations, ‘text talk’, overly familiar language, and emoticons.
In summary, there aren’t many cases where we would recommend sending only an e-note. Even in job ads that haven’t requested a Cover Letter – we always recommend sending one. Doing so creates a much more concise (targeted) picture of who you are and the value you can bring to the role. Our anecdotal evidence suggests that candidates who include a customised cover letter with their application are more likely to achieve an interview.
Are you confused about the different content in an e-note and Cover Letter? Would you like assistance from a Professional Resume Writer to prepare a winning Cover Letter targeted towards a specific role for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing Services.
Many people admit to working countless more hours each week than they used to. This extra time working takes a toll on your health, wellbeing, and overall happiness with daily struggles to balance the demands of work, family and social time. And with new technology allowing us to be connected 24/7, it’s becoming more difficult to find that balance between work and life.
When job seekers were asked what they were looking for in a new role as part of a leading recruitment firm’s (Hudson) 2015 Hiring Report, work-life balance took precedence as the top priority for the first time in years. Participant responses included all the usual things such as higher salary, cultural fit, career progression/training, better benefits, alignment with company values and a better title – but 70% of respondents named work-life balance as their number one priority. Responses were equal from males and females and spread across all age groups.
Hudson believes this signals a dramatic shift in Australia’s working culture. We agree, and believe that many companies will need to become much better at offering more flexible arrangements for employees to achieve their desired work-life balance, however everyone has different needs and expectations regarding that balance.
So how, in today’s culture of ‘constantly on’ do we manage that elusive mix of work and life? Your main priority should be working out what you need and understanding that you do have some control. With flexibility already available and options for working in vastly different ways to what has previously been the norm, we are no longer tied to the 9 to 5 employee for life culture. The premise of working smarter not harder is truly becoming a reality for many people. Try these tips.
TIP # 1 – Prioritise Your Needs to work out what balance means to you, then communicate your needs to your superiors, colleagues etc. If you can’t or don’t want to be available at certain times, let people know and get their support.
TIP # 2 – Use Technology to your advantage and switch it off during some periods to focus on friends and family. Make use of technology to work from home if you can on a regular basis – especially if your work involves periods of writing or research where you need to focus or work quietly for long stretches. The time you save in commuting, not to mention the productivity that you achieve during those periods alone, will make you so much more effective.
TIP # 3 – Focus on the important stuff, and learn time management skills (try the Pomodoro technique). Work out what’s important to you right now and focus on those tasks. Track how you spend your time and work out where you could save time by working faster, delegating or eliminating.
TIP # 4 – Introduce Structure, Processes and Systems around things you do all the time at work. This applies to your personal and home life too. You may have no idea how simple it is to automate or speed up repetitive tasks (or even just outsource them). Think about the tasks you perform regularly and work out how to automate or simplify them.
TIP # 5 – Work Smarter – just because you work 12-hour days doesn’t mean you are more productive. Of course, there are going to be times when you need to work longer hours to complete something urgent, but if you’re working long hours all the time, something is not right. If you believe that hours worked equates to productivity you need to rethink – by eliminating unnecessary emails, meetings and other distractions you could be amazed at how much extra time you gain.
TIP # 6 – Don’t over commit – this should be obvious, but is an area that many people find hard to follow. You don’t have to say yes to everything – social and work. Use a calendar to arrange your appointments and commitments – include appointments, meetings time to actually work on projects, plus personal and family commitments as well as exercise. I’m a big fan of planning out my week, making sure I have time to fit in all the work I’ve committed to and factoring in some time for me and my family as well as dealing with the day to day mundane activities that need attending to. At the start of each week, review your schedule to ensure you have some down time factored in. If you don’t – try to make sure it happens, and if it can’t for that week – make it a priority for the next week. Planning your week and ensuring you have some down time in your calendar sets you up for success and enables you to deal with the inevitable emergencies that come up.
Work-life balance is becoming more important to more and more people. Achieving and maintaining it is not a one off process – it’s a lifelong pursuit. As your life stage changes, so too will your needs. Aspire to what you need and work to achieve it, but remember to review it from time to time to make sure it’s still working for you.
Are you struggling to achieve the balance you desire in your life right now? Would you like help from a Career Advisor to work out if your career goals and aspirations are in alignment with your work-life balance goals? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.
According to a recent report by CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – more than five million of Australia’s current jobs may have disappeared within 10 to 15 years. That’s almost 40 per cent of our total jobs which puts us on the verge of massive change to say the least.
This recent research suggests the whole world is facing a new but very different industrial revolution with the reality that we will experience significant job losses due to computerisation and automation. But is it something to fear? It’s not all doom and gloom, with new jobs emerging as current ones disappear and ways to prevent obsolescence.
Consider these statistics – in 1900, one in four Australians were employed in Agriculture – in 2015, jobs in Agriculture account for just 2% of all Australian jobs – that’s one in 50! Likewise, manufacturing accounted for 28% of the workforce in 1970, fast forward just 45 years and that’s down to around 7%. In our dynamic and globally competitive economy, lost jobs in declining areas are usually made up for in new ones because innovation drives new ways of doing things and new demand in different areas.
We know that technological advancements have been reshaping the way we work for many years, with increasing computer capacity and the ability for machines to replicate the work of humans. We have already experienced automation and job losses in many areas and we are now seeing areas previously deemed impossible to replicate with machinery almost becoming reality. For example, driving is no longer considered a task that will always require human intervention, with Google recently patenting a driverless car.
Even where humans can’t be replaced altogether, automation is impacting speed, productivity and efficiency, which is reducing the amount of human intervention required. One certainty for the years ahead is that employment will continue to be affected by evolving technology. This means employees need to be able to work with technology as a basic requirement, but they also need to understand that technology will likely replace many tasks, and eventually jobs, that we previously thought would always require a human touch. We simply don’t know where technology will take us – the past 20 years have seen the internet, broadband, mobile and social networks cause disruption to existing businesses. Examples include online travel booking and review sites shaking up the tourism industry; the advent of streaming music and video content replacing DVD/CD purchase and rental; the creation of Uber as an alternative to traditional taxis; and online shopping replacing traditional retail shopping for many consumers.
For the foreseeable future at least, there are some areas that will not succumb to technological replacement. So where should we be looking?
- Healthcare & Aged Care – our ageing population will place demand on healthcare workers of all kinds – including nurses, doctors, physical therapists, home care aids, and other medical professionals.
- IT – so much technology that we use every day did not exist 20 or even 10 years ago. Computers, the Internet, and Smartphones have changed much of our daily lives. As technology continues to develop, so too will the demand for professionals to leverage it.
- Data Analysts – companies are collecting information at a rate never before seen. Computers can only do so much with the data – large corporations need people to conduct complex analysis and conceive innovative ideas to drive business growth.
- Marketing – increasing competition particularly from global competitors as a result of the Internet will drive demand for smart, innovative and creative marketing people that understand digital and social media. The use of predictive analytics to predict trends and customer needs will also increase – driving demand for marketing people with strong IT and technical skills.
- Content Creators – as a result of increasing global competition and a focus on ‘educating’ customers rather than simply ‘selling’ to them – content is king. People who can write compelling and engaging content for use on websites, blogs, newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, and special reports will be in demand.
- Financial Planners – unsettled economic times and reducing government budgets for pensions and other support means individuals and businesses need sound financial advice to secure their futures.
These are just some of the many areas of growth that we can expect in the coming years. As a job seeker, or someone whose industry is already declining, it is important to remain flexible and optimistic. Industries, careers and jobs can change rapidly but by embracing this changing world and constantly learning new skills, you will survive.
Are you constantly listening, learning and planning? Would you like career advice to better understand what you should be doing to plan for the future? If so, see our career counselling services.
It may come as a surprise to some, but employers don’t just look for education and work experience. In order to achieve a viable long term employee, they also consider a range of skills that go beyond relevant technical requirements. Obviously you need to suit the role and possess all the minimum requirements, but so called transferable (or soft) skills can increase your chances of standing out in your next application.
If you’re like most candidates, the first thing you think about when applying for a new role is education and experience. However, this is often not the most important area. Many times, the skills you have acquired outside of your area of expertise can provide the key to achieving your new role.
No matter how experienced you are or how many different roles you have held, identifying and clearly articulating your transferable skills to a potential employer is very important. These transferable skills can be referred to as ‘soft’ skills and are key to achieving some roles – particularly if you are changing direction or careers – even if only slightly.
These skills matter because they can help you make a smooth and successful transition to a new role. They make you a valuable and contributing employee from your very first day in the role. While your specific area of expertise might be highly technical or specialised, transferable skills ensure you achieve a long term career.
How can they be acquired? Transferable skills are acquired by everyone starting from when you are born – they come from day to day interactions with family, formal schooling, university education, social interaction with friends, sporting activities, day to day work activities, workplace interactions, and throughout the course of life in general.
How do you identify them? Think about your areas of strength and weakness or use a formal self-assessment tool. Enlisting the help of a colleague or superior can help or alternatively try an online assessment tool – simply google ‘transferable skills assessment’. Your formal annual performance review process can also be a great place to make this happen. It’s simply a process of identifying a list of skills and going through and checking off all those that you feel you possess.
What are they? The areas to think about are broad, but generally cover some key areas:
- People skills – communication, interpersonal/influencing, delegating, diplomacy, coaching/mentoring, leadership, presentation, tact and empathy, collaboration, customer service, negotiation, listening
- Analytical skills – problem solving, research, data analysis, risk management, financial analysis, budgeting
- Organisational skills – time management, prioritisation, resource management, project coordination, efficiency, productivity
- Creativity & commercial acumen – the ability to solve problems with creative but viable solutions, thinking outside the box, and adapting to changing environments, market situations and company strategy are huge assets in today’s competitive world. Likewise understanding how your work fits into the bigger picture or broader company strategy is important.
But it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve identified your skills, you need to prove them and articulate the ‘how’. It’s not enough to just say ‘I’m a great communicator’ you need to prove why you are a great communicator with examples. We always recommend an overview or profile and key capabilities section in your resume where you highlight some of these transferable skills together with an explanation of ‘how’ the skills were acquired. Likewise, in an interview, be prepared to articulate where you gained your skills with specific examples that demonstrate how they have contributed to past successes.
Would you like help identifying and articulating your transferable skills? Does your Resume need updating with some proof on how you obtained these transferable skills. If you would like assistance with your job applications and job search, please see our Resume Services and Job Search Coaching Services.
In his #1 bestseller, Stephen R. Covey presented a framework for personal effectiveness through his definition of the 7 habits of highly effective people. His premise centred on our character being a collection of our habits, and habits having a powerful role in our lives. But what about habits in the workplace? Most successful people (the ones who get the promotions, raises and opportunities) have common habits that can be mimicked.
So what is it that makes one person more likely to get promoted than another? For some people, it can seem like others get all the opportunities and promotions handed to them on a silver platter. Are they just lucky or were they simply ‘in the right place at the right time?’ We don’t believe so. There are common themes amongst highly successful individuals and how they deal with their day to day working lives. The good news for everyone else is that these habits are things anyone can do. So what are they?
- Think About Your Next Move – constantly thinking about the skills you should be developing in order to succeed in your next role is a good start. It doesn’t mean ignoring your current responsibilities, but try to develop new skills and when you do achieve a promotion, see it as a stepping stone to your next career move. Constantly learn – about your company, the industry, and your general area of expertise. Ask questions and participate in formal learning and professional development opportunities by attending seminars, conferences and training. Successful people think about where their career is headed and what they need to do to get there.
- Network – get to know your colleagues and superiors – both within and outside of your company and area of expertise. People who get ahead develop and foster networks throughout their careers. This is especially important if you want to achieve promotion within your own company. It’s pretty hard to achieve that if your boss doesn’t know you are or the value that you offer. Successful people aren’t intimidated to speak up in meetings, offer their opinion or contribute to ideas. Even if you don’t have an original idea, there might be an opportunity to support someone else’s idea or point of view, or ask an insightful question. Be careful not to limit your networks to superiors – successful people need a great team of people around them to succeed, so keep this in mind.
- Get Stuff Done – understand what’s important and don’t say yes to everything. Ensure you know exactly what you need to be working on to succeed in your role. Understand that everyone works in different ways – figure out how you work best – do you need to get to the office an hour early to clear your inbox, do you need to ask for help, or schedule a day a week with no meetings? Successful people are results focused and productive – they know what needs to they be done and how they can best achieve it.
- Be Professional – meet deadlines, answer emails, respond to telephone messages, show up on time to the office and to meetings, don’t participate in office gossip, dress well, and interact with others in a consistent and professional way. Successful people always maintain a high level of professionalism.
- Take Advantage of Opportunities – put yourself out there and regularly volunteer to take on tasks that may not be part of your job description. Offer to lead a project or train a new team member. Successful people offer themselves for other opportunities. Don’t wait to be asked – just pitch in and get it done.
- Be Proactive and Strategic – managers think about what needs to be done and make sure it gets done by engaging and supporting a broader team to achieve results. They also don’t (usually) complain about problems or inefficiencies – they identify the issue and suggest solutions. Being a strategic problem solver shows you understand the ‘big picture’ of the business. Successful people act proactively to ensure things get done and they work as part of (or leading) the team to make sure everybody succeeds.
- Blow Your Own Trumpet – even if you do an amazing job, you should keep track of your achievements and successes and communicate them to people that matter. Nobody else will do that for you. Focus on results – it’s not just about how busy you are ticking off your day to day to-do list. Keep an ongoing record of achievements, savings, changes, accolades and recommendations so when the time comes you have it at hand.
There may also be politics involved in who gets promoted so understanding these unofficial rules is often crucial to long term success. Learning how power, communication and influence is managed within your company will help you thrive – and while these words can carry negative connotations – it is not necessarily the case.
Are you struggling to achieve the success you know you deserve? Would you like career advice to help maximise your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services for specific advice on how to get ahead in your career.
In today’s digital world, online is where many people will first meet you. They’ll form an opinion about you very quickly based on your digital profile and if you have a LinkedIn profile, that’s usually where people in business start. After seeing your photo and reading your headline, they will move onto your summary.
Your summary is probably THE most important part of your LinkedIn profile. Why? Because it’s one of the first things people read and if it doesn’t interest them they may choose not to read on and discover who you really are. Don’t just copy and paste the content from your Resume though. Instead, create a short, sharp summary of you – start from scratch and mention all the important points – and focus on the ones that matter most in helping you get to where you want to go.
Your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to capture the reader’s attention and showcase who you are and why you’re good at what you do. Follow these tips to ensure your summary is compelling:
- Work out who your target market is: Ask yourself who you want to read your profile and what you want them to think or do? Once you’ve identified this you can start to think about the content.
- Identify your keywords: This task requires time and effort. Think about what skills you want to be known for but also consider job titles and location. Brainstorm ideas and then hone it down to the most important. Online job postings can help you understand how recruiters are describing the jobs that you are after. This is an important step in understanding what your keywords might need to be.
- Decide how you want it to sound: It’s your profile so own it. Think of your LinkedIn profile like a cover letter – you would usually open with a first person statement which is how we recommend LinkedIn is written. Writing in the third person can create less impact with the reader, whereas writing in the first person often evokes a stronger connection. Your summary doesn’t need to be as formal as a Resume and it should showcase some of your personality. If you’re funny you can inject some humour, but unless you’re a stand-up comic keep it professional.
- Break up the text: Online content needs to be easy to read so break it up – with bullet points, sub-headings and white space.
- Include ‘proof’: Information that validates who you are and why you’re good at what you do. This could include accomplishments, recommendations, awards, accolades, and/or testimonials. Anything that authenticates your expertise.
- Specify what you do best: We recommend including a sub-heading of ‘specialties’ or ‘areas of expertise’ – these are the things you do best and should provide the reader with a good sense of what you have to offer.
- Include a call to action: LinkedIn includes an area for contact details, however it can be hard to find. Include a way for people to contact you – personal email and / or phone details work best – and invite them to make contact.
- Write 2000 characters: The summary has a limit of 2,000 characters so take advantage of this space to showcase yourself. Don’t forget to follow all the previous tips – break up the text, include keywords and proof and make it sound like you.
Are you lacking a good quality LinkedIn profile summary that engages your audience and clearly articulates what you have to offer? If you would like assistance writing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, our Professional LinkedIn Writers can help! Please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.
Many successful clients who become unemployed don’t realise how long it can take to secure a new role. Despite indicators the job market is improving, redundancies and unemployment continue to dominate news.
Regardless of your background, or previous success, if you’re unemployed, you can feel a little lost, anxious or lacking in confidence. Even if you chose the period of unemployment by leaving a previous role voluntarily, it can still be difficult. Despite this, there are ways to feel better. Whether you’ve been searching for a new role for a while or just taking a planned break, there are many things you could be doing to boost your chances to secure that next role.
- Stick to a schedule: While it might be tempting to sleep in every day and while away the days reading a new book or catching up on your favourite TV series, it’s best to treat Monday to Friday like a working week. Get up at a reasonable hour, dress like you’re leaving the house (even if you don’t), and aim to complete some job search tasks every day. By all means take some time out, but sticking to a schedule is a great way to introduce some positive new habits like regular exercise or a healthier eating regime; or tend to those activities that you never had time for while working full time.
- Consider your future. Take this opportunity to really think about whether you are in the right career. Research your market and decide if it’s in good shape. Think about whether you could undertake study or work towards diversifying your skills to move into another area.
- Prepare yourself: Think about what your perfect job looks like. Research job sites and the careers sections on individual company’s websites. Meet with recruitment companies and revamp your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile or enlist a professional to prepare a resume and cover letter for you. Develop a job search strategy and start submitting applications.
- Think positively: When faced with challenges, we can be prone to negativity. Accept it may be a challenging period and this is a natural emotion, then try to encourage positivity by engaging in activities that help you think clearly and optimistically.
- Volunteer: This is an excellent way to use your extra time while helping to feel valued and more confident. It can also provide opportunities to gain valuable experience and contacts if you volunteer in an area related to your job qualifications. At the very least it will look great on your Resume since it shows initiative.
- Consider Contract Work: Another way to fill time between full time employment, is to find temporary work through an agency or previous work contact. Not only that, it can help you find a full time role by exposing you to new areas, helping you develop new skills, increasing your contact network, or even as a result of the temp role turning into a full time opportunity.
- Network. The more people you talk to, the better. If you’re not on LinkedIn, now is a great time to create a profile. Invite colleagues to connect and let them know you are seeking new opportunities.
- Complete a course: Decide on any certifications or courses that would contribute to your employability. Don’t forget to check out free online courses if you’re not in a position to commit to paid courses. Again, at the very least, it will help you stay busy and focused on something worthwhile, while hopefully helping to develop some new relevant job skills.
- Get your finances in order. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to seek financial advice or talk to your bank about loans. Do this quickly, so you have one less thing to worry about.
- Seek professional help. Career Consultants provide independent advice and up-to-date information on current job markets. They can help with career transition by advising how to position yourself in the market, identify job opportunities and present yourself effectively to employers. They’ll also help boost confidence and ease some of the anxiety.
There are many things you can do to keep yourself busy, improve your skills and aid your job search. Don’t forget to take some time out to treat yourself now and then and use the time off to attend to personal tasks or home projects that you often put off because you’re too busy.
Would you would like help developing a winning resume, detailed job search strategy, or update to your LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills. If so, please see our Career Counselling, Professional Resume Writing Services and LinkedIn Writing services.
If you are an employer and would like to assist employees through redundancy to help them secure a new role, please see our Outplacement Services.
While it is fantastic to aim high, applying for jobs you’re simply not qualified for can be counter-productive. At the moment, competition for roles seems so intense that often highly qualified candidates aren’t even getting interviews. If you would like to change careers or move into an entirely different area, it can be difficult to overcome the barrier that you have no experience. In this article, we explore some strategies for success.
It’s the old catch 22 situation – how to get a job without experience when you can’t get experience without a job. The easiest way to overcome this issue is to gain the experience you need – easier said than done huh? This problem doesn’t just affect recent graduates, it also affects immigrants, people who are changing careers, and those trying to re-enter the workforce after a period off. Most job ads specify some kind of experience required – even for entry level positions – so how can you get around this?
- Volunteer: the best way to gain experience is through volunteering or internships (paid or unpaid), which is especially so if your career area is very competitive. Often companies offering internships will employ people that show promise at the end of their term since they know what you have to offer and you’ve proven yourself during the period you’ve worked there. Even if you have to work for free, it is important to dedicate this time even if it doesn’t result in a job offer, because now you have some experience that you can add to your resume.
- Network: one of the best ways to get a job with no experience is through your networks. Try to network with people that you’d like to work for, and at local community, or relevant industry events. You may not land your dream job because of your networking, but it may help you get an interview or introduction that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Identify transferrable skills: it can be a challenge when you don’t have the ‘listed experience required’ but here’s where you need to think outside the square. Think about all your transferrable skills and demonstrate to the employer why they matter. You need to convince them that you’d be an asset in the role. List all the skills that might be valuable in the role you’re aiming for. Think about skills you’ve gained working in part time roles during school or university, while studying, in volunteer roles, and even during times you helped family or friends. Think about communication like writing, training people, preparing and facilitating presentations; computer skills such as proficiency with a variety of applications or operating systems (Windows / Mac), typing speed, blogging experience, digital content management, graphic design, use of spreadsheets, database skills etc.; as well as other skills such as problem solving; research and analysis; numerical; creativity etc.
- Articulate your achievements: show the employer how valuable you are by listing all your achievements. Even in part time completely unrelated roles, you can identify things that you achieved to demonstrate your work ethic and dedication. Volunteer work will help here because you can show relevant achievements, but importantly you’re also demonstrating passion. Don’t forget formal awards such as an employee of the month or academic awards received. Even high school competitions can be included if the results were good and you’re a recent school leaver.
- Showcase your work: if it’s a creative field you’re trying to break into, you could create a portfolio. As a writer you could start a blog or write some sample articles or content. As a graphic designer, you could create some designs to show potential employers. As a service provider, you could volunteer your services for free for family or friends and document the process and eventual outcome to include in your portfolio.
- Revamp your resume: traditional resumes are written in chronological order with your most recent role first. If you don’t have a lot of work experience, this can be tricky – so you could consider a functional format. A functional resume focuses on skills which requires identifying and articulating those transferrable skills in order to demonstrate your capability.
Do whatever you can to get an interview and once there, nail it. Companies really value cultural fit these days so show the employer what you have to offer – make up for your lack of experience with passion and commitment. If the recruiter likes you and sees how hard you’ve worked to get there, your experience (or lack of) might just become a little less relevant.
Are you struggling to demonstrate how you can add value in roles where you have very little experience? Would you like help maximising your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing or Career Counselling Services.
Are you feeling overwhelmed or indifferent? From one end of the scale to the other, the reality of our working life is that we change as time goes by. While we might be perfect for a job today, that may not always be the case. Most experts agree that we need some major change every seven years or so in order to stay fulfilled and valuable throughout our careers.
The concept of an employee lifecycle is not new – HR departments have used variations of a cycle for many years to define the stages employees move through in an organisation. In its most simplistic form, the lifecycle might look something like this: Recruitment -> On boarding -> Training, Motivation & Engagement -> Performance Management -> Resignation & Termination.
But looking at the same concept from an employee’s point of view gives us a different picture. According to this concept, individuals need major change every seven years or so in order to achieve satisfaction in their careers.
Most people know the feeling of starting a new job – it can be overwhelming, but it’s usually exciting. In your first year or so you’ll hopefully go from feeling overwhelmed to feeling challenged and stretched but thoroughly enjoying the experience. You move through that stage to a place where you’re confident that you can do the job and much of it may become second nature. You’re still enjoying the work but perhaps it isn’t as challenging or difficult as it was previously. As employees, we need to make sure we continue to achieve a good balance of challenge in our day to day work – and the only way to achieve this consistently is with change.
Boredom can strike anybody at any time, from the most junior to the most senior person – it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with workload but is usually more about how challenging or meaningful the individual finds their work. Depending on your role and the company you work for, boredom may strike in more or less than seven years. Research indicates that the more we are challenged on a daily basis, the more productive and happier we will be. But when you’ve mastered the job, and reached that inevitable point of ‘smooth sailing’ how can you make sure you’re consistently challenging yourself to avoid becoming bored and indifferent? Try the following strategies to help:
- Volunteer for additional work – offer to help another team or department during a busy period; or get involved in projects that others may be working on.
- Learn something new – enrol in some training or offer to work in another team where you have the opportunity to become proficient in new areas.
- Develop and implement new ways of doing things – implement strategies or processes to automate routine or mundane tasks to achieve time, efficiency and accuracy gains.
- Do more of what you like – developing processes to automate routine tasks will help in this area since you’ll free up time so you can take on more of the work you enjoy.
- Set challenging goals and deadlines for yourself – try to complete projects or tasks faster but with the same quality and/or accuracy, or spend more time researching a project or writing a report than you would have in the past – do whatever you can to improve your performance or work outcomes.
- Ask for more challenging work – tell your superior that you’d like to work on some more challenging areas – show them how you’re achieving your current role with success, quality and accuracy so they have confidence in your ability to extend.
Staying challenged at work is essential to your professional development and job satisfaction. Use the strategies above to help you perform better, learn new skills, and ultimately advance your career. Staying challenged helps relieve boredom and keeps you engaged and motivated for longer.
If you would like career advice to help you work out what you can do to challenge yourself in your career, please see our see our Career Coaching and Career Guidance Services.
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