If you are looking to advance to a leadership or management position any time soon, you may have already identified the areas where you need to gain more experience; or the knowledge you need to develop in order to progress.The skills associated with success in leadership roles are often not closely aligned to the technical knowledge or hard skill sets associated with particular careers or industries. The skills needed to succeed as a leader are sometimes referred to as soft skills which relate to the way in which we interact with and treat others, or the way we react to different situations. Some of the best managers don’t necessarily have the best industry or technical knowledge related to the organisation they are working for. We’ve identified five key skills needed to succeed in senior roles.
1. Communication: Knowing exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it is not enough – you need to be able to clearly and concisely articulate what you need from your team. Communication happens everywhere in leadership roles – with your employees or team members, with senior colleagues and with customers. This skill doesn’t just include talking and writing, it also includes listening which is one of the single most important traits a manager can have. The ability to stop talking and listen is vital for success. Listening to your customers and employees will give you invaluable insight into what’s really going on at the grass roots – and a better chance at fixing anything that might be broken before it’s too late.
2. Interpersonal: Being able to develop strong relationships, especially with your employees is important. Listen carefully to understand any concerns – is there anything standing in their way? What can you do to help them become more efficient, effective and enthusiastic? Developing relationships is one thing, maintaining them is another. Good leaders are consistent in their support and show their team that they are always there for them. Likewise with customers, partners and other external stakeholders, take an interest in their opinions and listen to their concerns. Seek their advice (if it’s relevant) to let them know they’re valued. How you interact with people has a significant impact on their perception of you as a leader.
3. Creative Thinking & Innovation: While the ability to think strategically and clearly express your organisation’s vision and engage employees to achieve business goals is essential, being able to think creatively is just as important. Competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done probably won’t cut it any longer. Leader’s need to be visionaries with the ability to think outside the box in order to achieve success.
4. Accountability & Problem Solving: Taking responsibility for your own and your team’s performance and decisions is important. There’s no one else to blame if customers or share holders are unhappy. While an individual or team may be responsible for causing a specific issue, the buck really does stop with the leader. Being aware of any issues, following up and taking steps to identify viable solutions is what makes a good leader stand out. Likewise, recognising success and giving praise where it is due makes you accountable for your success.
5. Teamwork: The ability to work well with others, collaborating and appreciating the input from different team members is essential. Encouraging team members to follow you and work together will result in higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Again, asking for input from team members where relevant will make people feel valued and important.
Being a leader is about sharing your enthusiasm and passion for your brand to achieve company success. Like most roles, achieving success is often an ongoing process and one that can constantly be improved upon. Strong leaders are sometimes born, but more often than not the skills and traits needed to succeed can be learnt.
These are just some of the many skills good leaders need to possess. Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to help you identify whether you have what it takes to become a leader? Perhaps you’re already in a leadership or management role and would like to improve your skill set. If so, please see our Career Counselling services.
If you feel like you’re sending off rafts of applications with little success, it might be time to change your approach. Tailoring your application is an important stage in the job search process for many reasons – but it becomes more so in a competitive job market like the one we’re experiencing at the moment. It may mean the difference between your Resume ending up in the YES or NO pile so what are you waiting for?
We often tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals and any good sales person knows they need to be tailored to achieve success. While we usually recommend writing a customised cover letter for each role you are applying for, tailoring the entire application is often something candidates relegate to the ‘too hard’ basket. The process of tailoring your Resume can sound time consuming, but we challenge you to put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and ask yourself ‘What’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role.
Before we even begin to tailor, we are assuming that you have a killer resume in place already – a document that highlights who you are, identifies your key skills, and shows the value you have added in previous roles. If you don’t already have that, then focus on this step first – see our previous article How to Write a Resume – Top 10 Tips to get started. Then, follow these five simple steps to tailor it each time you apply:
1. Do Your Research: The first step is research. Read the job ad and identify exactly what they are looking for. Highlight skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If the company is advertising directly, have a look at their website, Google the company name and find out if any current company or industry events might impact the job. Writing just one sentence that references your knowledge of a current situation could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.
2. Customise Your Career Profile: We always recommend including a good strong career profile in your Resume. The profile should introduce you and highlight what you will bring to the role. It should clearly demonstrate your skills and past experience and highlight how they add value to an organisation. Most people see this section as fairly standard; however by customising the content to address specific individual job requirements, you’ll put yourself a step ahead. Make it enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, concise and engaging – and clearly demonstrate to the recruiter ‘What’s in it for me?’ in the context of the job you’re applying for.
3. Change Your Key Skills: Once you know the recruiter’s main priorities in terms of what they’re looking for, you can customise your content to meet those needs. In its simplest form, this means re-ordering your ‘key skills’. Get more involved by rewording those key skills and customising them to suit the job. Think about what the job is asking for and how you can demonstrate that skill by some past experience or success.
4. Write a Customised Cover Letter: We can’t stress enough how important this step is. Writing a customised cover letter is the simplest way for your application to stand out from others. Think about it for a second – if a recruiter receives 100 or so applications, how do you think they’re going to choose which ones to actually read in detail? Research has proven that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. Preparing a cover letter that highlights your key skills, experiences and past achievements that are highly relevant to the role you are applying for increases your chances significantly of ‘getting noticed’.
5. Change the Order of Your Job History: This is not something we recommend doing unless absolutely necessary because the Resume can become confusing. However, where we may recommend doing this is if you have highly relevant experience in your past work history, with the recent roles not at all relevant. In this case, you should make a new section called “Relevant Employment History” then list the relevant roles. Move your other more recent role descriptions to a section called “Other Employment History”. This means that the recruiter will see your ‘relevant experience’ first but the title of the section will give some insight into why that experience is not recent.
Taking the time to tailor your application might seem time consuming, but if it means the difference between success and failure, it’s worth it! We talk to so many candidates who are seemingly perfect for roles, but aren’t achieving interviews. After tweaking their applications, they are amazed at the success they can achieve.
Are you struggling to achieve interviews? Do you feel your application lacks relevance to the roles you are applying for? If you would like assistance from a professional Resume Writer to help you customise your job application, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching services.
Are you sitting on the fence regarding enlisting the help of a career coach or writer? Do you read this newsletter each month, and wonder how you could best use our services? The coaching business in general has exploded in recent years with an expert ready and willing to support you in achieving just about anything you set your mind to. But how do you determine what’s going to help you most?
We regularly hear from people who aren’t quite sure how to best take advantage of the vast array of career services available today. They think they need one service, when in fact they’d be better off with another. In order to take advantage (and get the best bang for your buck), we’ve put together a list of questions we get asked on a regular basis, with responses to indicate what might be your best path to success.
“I’m in a senior role but stuck in a serious rut. I just don’t know how to move forward.”
Mid life crisis happening right now? Perhaps you’re feeling like there must be more to life. If you are thinking of making a major career transition – but you’re not sure where to start, our Executive Career Coaches are trained professionals who’ll quickly put you at ease and listen to your concerns. They’ll help you develop goals, plans and action steps to take that all important first step, and support you throughout the process if need be. Click here for more information on Executive Career Coaching.
“I know what job I want and believe I have all the qualifications/skills needed but I’m not getting any interviews”
That’s great that you’re clear about what you want to achieve – but perhaps you need a new Resume and Cover Letter that cuts through the clutter. Or maybe you’re trying for government jobs and need help addressing the Selection Criteria more concisely. If you would like to be short-listed for more jobs, take advantage of our free evaluation service. Send us your current Resume and we’ll let you know how it could be improved. For more information, see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services.
“I’m in a great job but can’t help feeling like I’m missing out on opportunities”
If you’re not already taking advantage of LinkedIn, now might be the time to investigate. As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn recently announced it has more than 300 million members worldwide and more than 5 million members in Australia. If you don’t understand LinkedIn or think it’s not relevant for you, now might be the perfect time to explore it further and learn how you can use it to uncover new opportunities. The numbers speak for themselves – you will increase your chances of being headhunted by recruiters; as well as gaining the opportunity to uncover hidden job opportunities, contract/freelance work and word of mouth referrals. See our LinkedIn Writing and Coaching services for more information.
“I’m really unhappy in my job but don’t know what to do”
Being unhappy in our job affects every part of our life, and it can be especially hard on our families. Sometimes confusion and fear take over and cause us to do nothing, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Career counsellors are trained professionals who can independently analyse where you’re at and what might be the ideal career. They’ll take into consideration personal and financial situations and help you on the path to happiness. Life is too short to stay in a job you hate! Click here for information on our Career Counselling services.
“My Resume seems to be working, because I’ve been called in for quite a few interviews now, but I’m not getting to the next stage”
Congratulations on making it that far, many people don’t. If you’d like to improve your success rate in interviews, our interview coaching service is designed to help overcome nerves, build confidence and improve the effectiveness of your overall performance. You will get advice on how to answer common interview questions for your target job/industry and get feedback on your responses in a mock interview. See our Interview Skills Training service for more information.
“I’m a student and have no idea what I want to do when I leave school so am feeling anxious about my subject/university choices”
Have you heard about personality profiling? By taking a formal test, you can gain invaluable insight into the careers that your personality type is most suited to. It’s helpful to individuals already in a career as well and can guide you with further career development. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment tool is based on more than 50 years research and is one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world. Click here for more information about our MBTI® Assessment service.
Established since 2002, Katie Roberts Career Consulting has provided career consulting services to more than 10,000 individuals and companies across Australia and overseas.
If you are struggling to achieve the success you believe you deserve or simply need assistance to identify the direction you should be heading in, our team of consultants are experts in their field who provide advice, guidance, and support to people seeking career success. Visit our website for our full range of Career Consulting services.
Turning our passions into a viable career is a lifelong dream for many people. You probably know at least one person who loves art or music and dreamt of being a painter or musician but were persuaded to pursue something ‘safer’ and more ‘financially secure’. The benefits of hobbies and interests outside of work have long been heralded as the way to achieve a work life balance, but for many people, their hobbies turn into their careers.
While career options that provide secure paths provide the basis of comfortable living and regular work, if you aren’t working in a job that you love (or at least like most of the time) and that fulfils your values, it is unlikely you will ever feel truly happy.
I have several personal friends who’ve taken their passions and turned them into careers – a friend with a lifelong passion for health and fitness became a highly successful personal trainer in her thirties. She gave up a high paying account management job to go it alone and after five years has a successful business that she loves. Another friend was always very artistic as a child and teenager but chose teaching as a stable and comfortable career. She has now developed a fabulous career helping people from all walks of life through the practice of Art Therapy – combining her passion for teaching with her passion for art. Another one discovered his love of gardening after transforming his own home’s outside area and has since developed a very successful gardening business.
Your hobbies might seem like a pipe dream for a career but often they are very achievable.
Some steps to help get you started include:
- Just take that first step – If you are unhappy with your current career, just taking some simple steps to improve your situation will help. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job to find your passion, but it does mean taking some action today in order to improve your situation.
- Think about your interests – If you have worked in the same job for many years, chances are you may not even remember what you’re passionate about. Start paying attention to things that interest you. What are your hobbies? Do you even have hobbies? If not, ask yourself what you enjoy doing and try to seek out ways to incorporate more of those activities in your day to day life.
- Consider taking a short course – There are some wonderful short courses on offer at community colleges to help you get a taste for what a new career might look like. You can try out a course to see if you like it before enrolling in a diploma or degree course in that field. If nothing else, these courses can provide great stress relief from the day to day grind and help you achieve that all important work/life balance that is so elusive for many of us. They also provide an ideal opportunity to meet new friends with the same or similar interests to you.
- Investigate specific jobs – Once you have an idea of what might be a fulfilling alternative to your current career, do some research about that job or job opportunities to find out what changes you’d have to make or any training you may need to undertake in order to work in that field.
- Seek professional advice – if you’re having trouble narrowing down what really interests you, consider the services of a Career Counsellor to help steer you on the right course. Take a Career Assessment or participate in a one on one coaching session. A Career Counsellor can help you identify your interests and values in order to ascertain the types of jobs that you would find most satisfying. The results may surprise you and possibly lead to careers you may never have considered previously.
Discovering what you want to do in life is, for many people, a life-long pursuit. From the time you leave school (even before) you start making decisions about what career would best suit you, but many of us end up choosing something quite different to what we originally intended – either out of necessity based on results, or availability of study options or jobs, or perhaps by choosing a career that you might see as ‘more secure’.
Are you having difficulty finding true happiness in your career? Have you tried to evaluate your options in order to choose a different path? If you would like help from a Career Coach to find your passion or turn your passions into a new career, please see our Career Counselling and Coaching Services which can be provided over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.
Are you searching for something new but not quite sure what? Do you trawl the internet looking for career and/or training inspiration? Or perhaps you are in a job that does little to satisfy or stimulate you?
The majority of people, at some stage in their careers, feel unsatisfied. But if these feelings of discontentment have started to consume many of your waking hours, it might be time to do something proactive about fixing it. If you think you’re in the wrong career, you’re not alone. Many people know deep down that something needs to change, but are unsure where to start in order to change direction. There are many free online resources that can help you narrow down your options, so this month we’ve provided a summary of some of our favourites.
1. www.myfuture.edu.au – This is a comprehensive national career information system to help individuals identify different career options by analysing their skills, interests, values and aspirations. It is a great resource for people of all ages, at any stage in their career – from those just starting out to older people seeking new directions. It also provides information on current job market trends, as well as detailed information describing different careers, comprehensive study and training options, advice for people re-entering the workforce after a break, and assistance for mature age workers and people with specific needs.
2. www.seek.com.au – In addition to listing open positions all around Australia, as well as many countries around the world, SEEK provides separate sections on courses, volunteering opportunities and businesses for sale. You can quickly and easily set up job alerts to ensure you don’t miss any viable opportunities and you also have the option to establish a personal profile which can be viewed by potential employers who then make contact with you.
3. www.myuniversity.gov.au – This site contains broad and comprehensive information on Australian universities and other higher education providers. You can search on thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate accredited courses and compare details such as fees and entry requirements across institutions. It also allows you to search for and compare universities based on teaching performance, results, student satisfaction etc.
4. www.cca.edu.au – Community Colleges Australia is the peak body representing and providing services to community owned, not-for-profit education and training providers. There are community colleges in local areas right across Australia that provide short courses to introduce you to an area of interest without requiring significant investment of time or money. These courses can provide a great ‘taster’ to see if you might enjoy pursuing more formal or in depth training in that area.
5. www.amma.org.au – This is one of many varied industry specific sites available. AMMA Skills Connect has developed a ‘jobseeker guide to the resources industry’ which was created through extensive research of various sources from the Australian Government, AMMA, www.miningoilandgasjobs.com and the mining, resources, construction and related industries. It provides unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled jobseekers looking for opportunities within the resources, related construction and allied services industries, with information about engaging in both training and employment pathways.
6. www.google.com – If all else fails, do a Google search! There are so many resources on training and career advice available at a national, state and local level. It’s worth spending some time researching to find out what’s available to you in your particular area.
Are you unhappy with your job? Are you searching for the right career but unsure which path to take? Perhaps you are confused about which course to study? The important thing to remember is that life is too short to stay in a job you hate! Take the first steps today to securing a career you love.
If you would like help from a Career Advisor to move forward in your career to achieve your full potential, please click here for our Career Counselling and Coaching Services which can be provided over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.
Explaining SEO (search engine optimisation) to a non-tech person can be tricky. I’m not technical so I can’t really explain the in depth technicalities of it anyway! What I do know is that your LinkedIn profile needs to be optimised for search engines if you want to be found by people that don’t already know you – that’s all those recruiters, potential clients or business contacts that need your expertise. Having a keyword optimised profile can have a significant impact on your page views.
SEO with regard to LinkedIn can be defined (at a basic level) as the way(s) in which you can change your profile to affect its visibility. The higher your profile is ranked when someone searches, the more visits or views your profile is likely to receive.
To optimise your profile for SEO purposes, there are several things to consider. First and foremost, we need to consider how LinkedIn ‘ranks’. LinkedIn, like most ‘search engines’ uses proprietary algorithms to rank and order the results you receive when you search for people on the site – and these are not usually divulged. It generates relevance scores uniquely for each member, and even though a query will return the same results for everyone, the order is determined by various factors. This could include the profile content, user activity, connections, and relevance to the person searching but it is complicated. In short, there are many factors that can affect your SEO and ultimate ranking when someone searches for the skills and expertise you have. Some of these could include:
- The number of connections you have
- How complete your profile is
- The relevance of your job history
- The number and type of endorsements and recommendations you have
- The types and quantity of ‘keywords’ you have in your profile
- How relevant your general content is
10 tips to help your profile rank higher include:
1. Identify your keywords – these are the words that a recruiter looking for someone like you would use in their search. They can include job titles, skills, expertise, geographic area etc. but try to keep it simple and include only the most important keywords based on your specific skill set.
2. Complete your profile – fill out as many sections as you can with clear and concise information that includes the keywords identified. Try to leave as few sections as possible blank.
3. Change website links to ‘anchor text links’ – where you include a company or other website address, you can customise the ‘anchor’ or ‘search’ text to a title that makes sense. Anchor text is usually ranked highly by search engines – so your personal blog’s URL might be ‘http://www.xyz.com.au’ but you could change it to something more descriptive that contains your keywords.
4. Optimise your job titles – ensure they make sense and are optimised for the job that you did and the roles you are seeking. Including keywords in your job titles will assist. If your title doesn’t accurately reflect what you did, consider changing it so that it does.
5. Join relevant groups – and participate – this may improve your profile’s visibility, while also helping to expand your network with like minded individuals.
6. Invite people to connect – the more connections you have, the better your chance of being found – LinkedIn elevates results for connections based on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level connections. It therefore makes sense that the more people you are connected to, the wider your network and the better chance you have of being found.
7. Include detail under each job – again use your keywords to explain truthfully and accurately what you did and what you achieved. Consider using bullet points rather than paragraphs and format the text so it’s easy to read.
8. Change Your Public Profile URL – LinkedIn provides a way to change your URL to your name. Do this and it will be easier for people who know you to find you, and you can add it to your email signature, business cards and other marketing material without it looking too complex.
9. Ask for Recommendations – recommendations may help increase your ranking as well as helping potential recruiters or business partners evaluate the success and value you’ve created in past roles. Don’t be shy to ask colleagues, superiors, customers etc. for recommendations on work you have done in the past.
10. Include a Photo – make sure it is clear and high resolution and taken against a white or plain background – head and shoulders is fine in professional attire.
Follow these simple tips and start seeing your activity rise. LinkedIn provides a feature that enables you to discover who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days and also provides access to trends and insights on viewers. You can use this to monitor your success.
If you would like assistance from a professional LinkedIn Profile Writer to ensure your LinkedIn Profile is search engine optimised, click here for our LinkedIn Writing or Coaching Services.
Networks need to be built long before you actually need them, but for many people, it’s the last thing they’re thinking about in the busyness that is life! Networking in business is sometimes seen as something that’s more important for senior executives or business owners. But these days it’s often a case of ‘who you know’ so a great time to start building your network is now.
There are many approaches to networking and connecting with people who can help you achieve success in your career. Online and social media sites such as LinkedIn provide the ability to interact with experts from all walks of life. A vast majority of business people in Australia are now using LinkedIn to build and maintain their business networks, gain exposure and credibility, or connect with others who may otherwise be outside their network.
Having a LinkedIn profile makes it easy to maximise your network with just a little regular time invested. Having a strong online presence and network is becoming more and more important for success in a future job search. Making an effort to position yourself as ideal for the job you can see yourself in the future, and building your networks up will help you tap into that important resource when the time does come. It will also give you a better chance of being identified by recruiters for potential roles.
So how can you get underway with building that all important network if you’re just starting out. Here’s 5 tips to get you going:
Tip # 1: Make time to attend industry events and conferences and join relevant associations where you will meet like minded individuals. Be interested in other people and take the time to follow up on advice or information received.
Tip # 2: Create an online profile such as LinkedIn so that you can more easily keep track of people you meet. Make sure it’s full of good quality content that’s been optimised for search engines and always include a photo and as much ‘additional’ information as you can. Networking isn’t just about finding people who can help you locate a job. It’s also about learning from experts and building your own expertise and profile as well, so contribute to forums and post interesting articles of your own or links to articles that others have written.
Tip # 3: Keep track of your contacts and invite them to connect. Include contacts you meet across all areas of your life – this includes former business connections, people you work with day to day (colleagues, clients, suppliers, partners etc.); people you meet at conferences, seminars, industry events, and training courses; and even those you come across in social situations if it’s relevant.
Tip # 4: Be polite – take people’s suggestions and follow up on them. If a contact gives you a lead – whether it’s for a business development purpose or a potential job – follow it up and then feed back to that person on how you went. Likewise, if someone asks you for help, respond. Even if you don’t have something for them, be proactive in thinking about someone else who might be able to help or politely letting them know that in this instance you don’t have anything for them.
Tip # 5 Ask for recommendations – in the old days we asked for written references but these days LinkedIn makes it so easy to ask people for recommendations. Be selective about who you ask though and don’t use a scatter gun approach. You can even highlight parts of the recommendations in your summary to highlight positive feedback.
The important thing to remember is to just get started – the bigger your network, the further your reach. Don’t wait until you are desperate to madly scramble and start networking. You have to build and nurture your network as you go because in today’s constantly changing job market you never know when you might need it.
Do you have trouble networking? Are you lacking a good quality online profile to help you find and connect with like minded industry experts? If you would like assistance from a LinkedIn Profile Writer to build a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.
Everything about your body language sends a message to the person you are talking to. It is particularly important to understand the impact of body language in an interview, because it could make or break your success. Body language includes everything from eye contact to posture, and these signals help the interviewer gain a deeper understanding into your attitudes towards the job.
Body language encompasses all forms of nonverbal communication – everything about our feelings, emotions, thoughts and motivations is usually expressed through changes to our body. These changes include our facial expressions, posture, eye contact, hand gestures and general body position and movement.
The technique of “reading” people by watching their body language is an age old technique. It’s used across many situations including when an interviewer is sizing up a candidate’s suitability for a particular role. Many psychologists believe that non-verbal communication can reveal more about what we are thinking than what we actually say. For this reason, it is essential in an interview situation to pay close attention to your body language so it supports the story you are telling. Here are our tips for success:
1. Smile – greet the interviewer with a smiling hello which will create a warm and inviting engagement straight off the bat. Attempt to maintain a relaxed smile throughout the interview but don’t try too hard because it could look like you’re faking it.
2. Watch Your Posture – sit up straight in a neutral or slightly forward position to show you’re interested. Leaning back can be portrayed as being arrogant or too relaxed and slouching just appears lazy. Leaning too far forward can be seen as aggressive.
3. Maintain Eye Contact – eyes that dart around a lot are a sure fire indication that someone is lying or not sure of themselves. It is important to maintain eye contact with the interviewer when either of you are talking in order to convey confidence.
4. Don’t Stare – following on from tip # 3, while it is important to maintain consistent eye contact with the interviewer, if you ‘lock eyes’ or stare at someone, this can be perceived as aggressive or even worse – creepy. Staring at someone is often used as a way to distance yourself or assert authority and this is definitely not something you want to do in an interview! Try to maintain a balance by breaking eye contact momentarily every so often.
5. Don’t Do Too Much Talking With Your Hands – many people ‘talk with their hands’ and it is fine to be expressive in this way, however try not to use sharp hand movements that can be construed as ‘aggressive’. These include excessive pointing or hand chopping.
6. Don’t Cross Your Arms – this can indicate that you are defensive, resistant, unfriendly or simply not engaged with the process. Open arms resting comfortably in your lap will portray a much more approachable nature.
7. Make Sure Your Expression Matches Your Response – if you’re talking about something that you’re excited about like your dreams and passions and your facial expression is deadpan – this is simply not going to translate as authentic to the interviewer. Likewise if you’re talking about something serious – maintain that expression throughout, and then try to smile soon after.
8. Avoid Fidgeting – it will just distract the interviewer from what you are saying and could make you appear disinterested. Biting nails, playing with hair, squirming around in your chair, tapping your fingers or feet, or scratching are all no no’s. Apart from being a distraction, it could make you appear as someone who can’t properly focus – even for just a few minutes.
Remember, it is an interview – much of your body language that is construed as negative comes down to a lack of confidence so make sure you prepare. Do your research on the company and job and practice answering potential questions beforehand. Remember the old adage, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” and focus on communicating your worth in both verbal and non-verbal ways.
Do you struggle with nerves and negative body language during interviews? If you would like assistance from an Interview Coach to help you prepare for a job interview, to maintain positive body language throughout, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Skills Training service.
Many people we talk to dream of becoming a consultant or freelancer in their specialist line of work. There are countless things to consider before making the leap into the freelance world with many who’ve already achieved success providing advice for free – just Google becoming a freelancer to see what I mean. But what are the first steps to success?
Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. This month we take a look at the basic things to consider before quitting your secure job to work for yourself. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
Question # 1: Why do I want to become a freelancer? It is important to understand your underlying reasons to determine if this is the right decision. If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While, it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and be passionate about doing that for others on a day to day basis in order to succeed as a freelancer – if that’s you, then read on.
Question # 2: What am I going to offer my clients? You’re great at what you do and know a tonne about your area or industry but pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days. That means, what you do may be the same as what many others do. Do you really have enough expertise to instil confidence that clients will pay you for that know-how? If you think you do, decide what you will offer and create a brand/identity that sets you apart from your competition. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it stands out. It might be important at this point to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects. Being a ‘Jack of all Trades’ is often not the most effective road to success.
Question # 3: Am I willing to do everything? Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be way outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource some or all of these areas, but in the beginning you will probably need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.
Question # 4: Is now the right time financially? Many people think freelance work is going to provide instant financial rewards with a freelancer’s hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s. Keep in mind you will spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes you to sell to them and generally run your business may not be billable. Many factors come into determining how much extra (unbillable) time you spend on each project, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. Alternatively, you could start small while still working in paid employment – but don’t compromise either job for the other with half hearted efforts.
Question # 5: Am I motivated enough? With no boss to hold you accountable, you need to do what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it. Your clients (and your income) will depend on it because usually freelancers don’t get paid until they deliver, or at least until part of the project is completed. This is a difficult adjustment for many people. Understand you will need to be more mindful of budgeting and you will also need to ensure a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.
In today’s technically advanced world, the opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life. But it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.
Would you like help from a Career Advisor to determine whether or not freelancing is the future for you? If so, please click here to view our Career Counselling Services.
Do you have qualifications coming out of your ears but not much experience in the field where you are seeking work? Or, conversely, do you have years of experience and proven success but no formal qualifications. We talk to people every day that fall firmly into one or the other of these camps.
The debate as to whether education or experience is more important when searching for a new role often rears its head when working with clients. The discussion becomes even more passionate in tighter job markets. Whilst it is great to have both – if you don’t, there are ways to optimise your situation:
1. Highlight What Matters: whether you are a recent graduate with very little practical experience or a 20+ year experienced manager with no formal qualifications, relevant expertise matters to recruiters. Try to draw out what you’ve done in the context of ‘success’. Look at the achievements you’ve made in previous roles (or personally) and relate these back to the requirements for the role. For someone with oodles of work experience this might be easy – but make sure you highlight ‘relevant’ experience and substantiate it with examples and successes. If you’re a graduate or have little practical experience in the area you’re applying, highlight your expertise as it relates to the specific job requirements. This could include areas where you excelled during your studies; or soft skills such as team work, flexibility, confidence and a positive attitude. And don’t forget to consider part-time or volunteer work, as well as group and other projects you completed while studying.
2. What if I Have No Work Experience? In many fields, qualifications are an essential pre-requisite – if you want to be a doctor you need to study first! However, with most areas, it’s great if you can do some kind of work while you study. Otherwise there isn’t much (other than academic achievements) to differentiate you from the next person with the same qualification. Even part time work that has no relationship to the area you are now seeking work in can count for experience and will certainly give you the chance to discuss transferrable and ‘soft’ skills. If, however, you are a recent graduate with very little work experience, highlight your academic achievements and think about the skills you developed while studying or even during school (think about sporting and other extracurricular activities).
3. What if I Don’t Have any Formal Qualification? While qualifications are essential for many jobs, for some, experience may well count for more. I have several close friends in very senior sales roles who don’t have any formal qualifications. They have worked all over the world, working their way up from sales representative to senior executive roles today. This means they have a lot of expert knowledge in their area and they can demonstrate success. Again this comes back to highlighting what matters to the recruiter. They want to know what’s in it for them. Ask yourself what you can offer that the next candidate can’t. Think about your successes in the context of the role you’re going for and put yourself in the recruiter’s position – why do they need you in this role?
4. Identify Your Transferrable Skills: everyone has transferrable skills whether you’ve studied and not worked or worked and not studied. If you need to have certain knowledge or skill sets that are learnt during study then demonstrate how you have that. If you have the degree but no experience, think about all the transferrable skills you learnt while studying. Again, look at group assignments and discussions you participated in.
5. Think About Studying: if you have no formal qualifications and feel that this is holding you back, you could always consider enrolling in a course. There are so many courses on offer out there – it doesn’t have to be a university degree. Do your research first and speak to people in the industry or area you’re seeking work in. That way you’ll get expert advice as to the types of courses and qualifications that will be most respected.
Today, it is important to have a good mix of both with employers often looking for unique individuals with diverse skill sets that will add significant value to their organisation. However, there are ways to maximise your personal situation.
Are you struggling to demonstrate how you can add value to roles even though you know you could? 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.