How to Sell Yourself in a Job Application

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Sell Yourself in a Job ApplicationSelling yourself and your expertise effectively is an important part of the overall job search process. Whether it’s in your initial communications (Resume, Selection Criteria and/or Cover Letter), or during the interview process, articulating and communicating your unique value will help get you noticed. This month, we look at some strategies to assist you in selling yourself to a potential employer.

We often tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals. For many people not working in traditional sales or marketing focused careers, this can sound daunting. However, with a little bit of effort it isn’t that difficult. We often tell our clients to put themselves in the shoes of the recruiter. Take a good look at your application and ask yourself (as the recruiter) ‘What’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role.

To help understand the concept, let’s follow six fundamental sales steps:

1.  Introduce Yourself – in any sales situation, you need to introduce yourself, give a reason why you’re there and explain why what you’re selling will benefit the buyer. Same goes for your job application. Start with a good strong introduction or ‘Career Profile’ that demonstrates your skills and past experience and how that will add value. This section is usually fairly standard, however consider customising the content to address any specific individual job requirements. Similar to any sales situation, make sure your introduction is enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, concise and engaging – and clearly demonstrates ‘What’s in it for me?’

2.  Ask the Buyer What They Want – any good sales person will tell you the key to success is finding (and addressing) the buyer’s ‘pain points’. This means researching their issues and giving them what they need to address those issues. Same goes for your job application. Study the job ad and/or job description in detail and make a list of all the key points. At this point, it can often help to study other similar job ads. If a contact person is listed, call them – ask questions to uncover the pain points and ask them outright what they are looking for.

3.  Show Your Value – if a buyer can’t see the value in a product or service, they simply won’t buy it. Same goes for your job application. If you don’t give the recruiter what they want, you won’t succeed. Your application needs to demonstrate to the recruiter how you are going to add value. This process is simple once you know their pain points because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important so spend time ensuring the content in your documents targets and addresses as many of the requirements as you can. Use past successes and achievements to show how you’ve ‘added value’ in the past.

4.  Present Your Offer – successful sales proposals are clear and concise with relevant content that doesn’t ramble and is presented in a visually appealing way – using white space, headings and bullet points to highlight and present information so it’s easy to digest. Same goes for your job application. While we never recommend highly formatted resumes with tables and pictures, we do use some fabulous templates that really cut through. Never under-estimate the value of information that is easy to read and well formatted.

5.  Provide a Call to Action – any basic sales training will tell you that this is often the most common mistake poor sales people make. Not actually asking for the sale. The buyer needs guidance and they need to know that you want their sale. Same goes for your job application. Make sure you tell the recruiter that you are keen to talk further about the value you can add. This means asking for an interview and providing contact details (phone and email) that are clearly visible on all parts of your application. It also means answering your phone to unidentified numbers and providing a voicemail facility. Making it easy for the recruiter to contact you is a key part of the process.

6.  Stop and Listen – an important part of any sales conversation is listening to the buyer. This last point relates specifically to the interview if you’re successful in progressing to that stage. Communication is key, however if you don’t listen to your buyer, you don’t get the opportunity to present your offer in the best possible way to meet their needs. Same goes for an interview. Listen to the recruiter and answer their questions as best you can. Also ask questions to demonstrate you are keen. We have written several articles relating to succeeding in interviews that you can read here.

Success in sales is based on giving the buyer what they need. Likewise, when you’re searching for a new job – do some research, know your customer, and give them what they need in order to achieve success.

Are you a natural sales person? Or do you, like many people, find it hard to sell your skills and expertise effectively? Would you like some assistance from a professional Resume Writer to develop a job application that clearly and honestly articulates the value you could bring in a role? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services here.

New Year, New You

Article by Belinda Fuller

New Year New YouIt’s hard to believe that we are already one month into the New Year. How are you going with your new year’s resolutions? Did you make any career related resolutions or goals for 2014? If you are planning to secure a new job this year, have you started strategising? With unemployment set to rise even further this year, a structured approach will help you achieve your goals.

If you are anything like me, the New Year always represents new starts. I clean out my pantry, tidy my office, cull my wardrobe, think about new projects I’d like to work on, ramp up my exercise, and generally spring clean my life to start the year afresh. I think most people start to feel jaded towards the end of the year and if you were lucky enough to have a break over the Christmas/New Year period without too much running around, you may have been thinking about making some changes in your career for 2014.

If so, you need to start planning in order to make that happen. In the November newsletter, we provided six tips to take charge of your career in 2014 (you can read that article here) so this month we’d like to focus on the ‘change’ and ‘research’ parts of those tips. Making resolutions is a great first step, however now you need to strategise to ensure you achieve success. Follow these 3 simple steps to get started:

1.    Ask Yourself Why You Want to Change Jobs? – start by making a list of all the pros and cons of your current role and write them all down. Writing it down really helps. As a chronic list writer my entire life (anything and everything goes on a list), surprisingly, I was never an advocate of writing down my goals, or strategising in written format when trying to solve a problem. However in recent years, I have done a complete about face. Writing down what’s in your mind really does help clarify and further develop it. Often, when you undertake this exercise, you actually find that there are more pros than cons. Perhaps you have been focusing on the negatives, when in fact there are more positives that you should be enjoying. Or perhaps it just confirms what you originally thought – that there are in fact more negatives! Either way, this process helps you move forward with your goal.

2.    Find the Ideal Job – sounds difficult right but bear with me. This is meant to be a simple exercise and something I ask all my clients to do. I get them to show me their perfect job. Many people simply cannot articulate this when asked. If you are not sure which career path to take, you may need to seek the advice of a qualified Career Counsellor. However, if you have a good idea where your strengths lie, simply jump online and start researching. Go to Seek, MyCareer or any one of the industry specific job search sites and look for your perfect job. Ideally, you’ll want to find more than one. Don’t worry about geography at this stage, just find that perfect role. Study the ads and/or job descriptions and write down all the key skills, experience, education, qualifications and training that is required. Highlight where you are lacking at the moment.

3.    Make a Plan – based on your research, you should now be able to write a list of areas where you are lacking. This forms the basis of your ‘things to do to get to where you need to be’. At this stage, it may seem daunting, but again just stay with me, by writing down all the areas you are lacking and identifying what you need to do to develop that skill or area of expertise, you will be starting to develop your plan. The path to developing new skills and expertise could be as easy as taking on new responsibilities and tasks in your current role to starting some form of study. It also includes other tasks such as completing short courses, networking both inside and outside of your company, offering to help a colleague with a project, or doing some volunteer work.

By taking action today to start to develop your plan, you are ensuring your path to a new you.

Did you make some career focused New Year’s resolutions? Do you have a plan to help you achieve those goals or would you like help making your career dreams a reality? If so, please see our Career Consulting, Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services here.

Understanding Personality Assessments

Article by Belinda Fuller

Understanding Personality Assessments - MBTI AssessmentAs one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment tool is based on more than 50 years research. Through a series of questions, the MBTI tool assesses individual personality preferences and assigns one of 16 different personality types based on four scales which can be helpful in guiding training, personal development and career choices.

Just how can the knowledge of your personality type help with your career development? By taking the MBTI assessment, your personality preferences are assessed based on the theory that everyone has a primary mode of operation within four major categories:

1. Energy Flow – where you are either Extraverted (energised by the outside world of people, activity and things) or Introverted (energised by the inner world of thoughts, feelings and reflections).

2. How we gather information – where you are either Sensing (focused on information gathered through the five senses) or Intuitive (you look for patterns, meanings and possibilities in the information you receive).

3. Decision Making – where you either have a preference for Thinking (making decisions based on objective facts and principles) or Feeling (making decisions based on personal values and feelings).

4. Basic day-to-day lifestyle preferences – where you are either Judging (preferring a more planned and structured lifestyle) or Perceiving (preferring a more flexible and spontaneous lifestyle).

We all use one mode of operation within each category more easily, naturally and frequently than the other so we are categorised as “preferring” that function. The combination of our four preferences then defines our personality type. Through these combinations, there are 16 different personality categories.

Armed with the information, you can learn a lot about your natural strengths and weaknesses; as well as understanding your personality type’s preferred work tasks, ideal work environment, leadership style, learning style, communication method, and problem solving approach. Through identifying the areas that you value, you can start to develop strategies that may lead to improving your overall job satisfaction. By understanding your defined personality type, you can also start to analyse the most and least popular career choices for that type and hopefully pick a career that will reward and fulfil you well into the future.

While personality profiling via the MBTI tool or other assessment tools should not be used as the only guide to your perfect job, it can help. However, as with all theories, there are exceptions! Some people don’t fall strictly into one specific category; and as we develop, grow and have exposure to a range of situations, we learn to function outside of our ‘natural’ tendencies.

By taking the MBTI assessment, you can gain an insight into the careers that your personality type is most suited to, as well as looking at your current skills, qualifications and areas of expertise and matching those to some potential areas of interest. If nothing else, a better understanding of your personality may just contribute to helping you increase your job satisfaction in your current role.

Are you interested in understanding your personality type? If so, please see our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Assessment service.

Success vs. Happiness in Your Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

Success vs Happiness

In today’s frantic world, happiness is something that everyone craves. You only have to look at the books currently available on achieving and maintaining happiness to agree that there are many writers out there making money (and maybe achieving the success they crave) by helping others in the pursuit of happiness.

So what is happiness? The definition of happiness is basically the quality or state of being happy – i.e. bliss, contentment, pleasure or satisfaction. Put in simple terms, happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good. Why is it that some people are just naturally happy with their jobs and their lives while others aren’t? Happiness is more a state of mind with studies consistently indicating that happiness doesn’t have much to do with materialistic achievements or what we might consider traditional ‘success’. That means the more money we earn and the higher status we achieve won’t necessarily make us happy – not rocket science. But what will make us happier in our careers?

Studies also reveal that happiness has a lot more to do with your outlook on life and the quality of your day to day relationships. While nobody (at least nobody I know) is 100% happy all of the time, some people are consistently more content or fulfilled than others – happy with what they have and happy to pursue what they want. This means that if you are feeling like you’re in a dead end career and you don’t get on with your colleagues, your happiness will most likely be affected in a negative way.

To increase your levels of happiness, you don’t need more ‘success’, you need to be more positive. My husband uses the ‘glass half full’ analogy all the time and I love it – is your glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’? If you constantly approach things with a ‘glass half empty’ attitude, try to turn this around and look at things in a more positive light because happiness really is about being more content and appreciating things for what they are.

Achieving happiness at work doesn’t mean quitting your job and pursuing an entirely new career. You need to be realistic about your future and start planning to work towards achieving more success and/or happiness. I wrote an article earlier this year on How to be Happy at Work. In it, I mentioned the importance of taking responsibility for your own destiny. You are the one that can make a difference and only you can control how you feel about your work. If you’re feeling unhappy at work, there are many things you can do to feel more positive – in that article, I provided 8 tips to get you started.

We also know that the happiest employees are those that feel their contribution is making a difference, however sometimes your contribution goes unnoticed and feelings of resentment and lack of fulfilment come into play. If you’re in this situation, you need to ask for feedback. Some companies are great at recognising ‘success’ and others not so much. Chances are you know you’re achieving success, but you just want acknowledgement – ask for it and if you’re not getting what you need from your employer, now might be the perfect time to start planning for change.

The important thing to remember is that success does not always drive happiness. Happiness is, in a lot of ways, more about your state of mind. If you’re not happy in your job, you need to work out the reasons why and then make plans to change that. Don’t be afraid of change and don’t ever feel like you’re destined for a lifetime in a career that makes you miserable.

Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to find your ideal career so you can enjoy every day rather than spending all week counting down the days until the weekend? Life is too short to stay in a job you hate! For more information, please see our Career Guidance and Career Coaching services.

How to Handle Behavioural Interview Questions

Article by Belinda Fuller

When using behavioural interview questions, the interviewer will usually identify core behaviours they’d like to see in a candidate. Obviously these behaviours are based on the position and the requirements of the specific role they are recruiting for and will vary accordingly.

There is absolutely no need to be scared of these types of questions – in fact quite the opposite – behavioural questions provide you with the ideal opportunity to showcase why you’d be perfect in the role. It’s important to remember that the recruiter will be looking for specific examples that demonstrate how you behaved in certain situations – not hypothetical answers on how you think you’d respond or behave.

You need to think back to previous roles and detail real-life examples from your work. To prepare for these types of interviews, you should first ascertain the competencies you think the employer might be looking for. This is where research is important. You can search for similar jobs online, read job ads and more detailed job descriptions, talk to the recruiter and ask their advice, and speak to trusted colleagues or superiors in your network. Most companies will be looking for some common skills that you can prepare for as standard, then you’ll want to consider what other competencies they’ll need that relate specifically to the role. Common competencies could include communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and a proactive/innovative approach.

The best way to prepare for behavioural interview questions is by using the STAR technique. I’ve written articles before about how to prepare STAR responses – click here for detailed information. Briefly, thinking about examples in the context of STAR helps you formulate clear and concise responses to behavioural interview questions.

STAR stands for:

  • Situation – What was the circumstance, situation or setting you found yourself in?
  • Task – What was your role?
  • Action – What did you do and how did you do it?
  • Result – What did you achieve? What was the outcome and, if possible, how does it relate to the position you are applying for?

Once you have decided which examples to use for each identified competency, you simply write down your dot points next to each of the STAR points then formulate a response that you feel comfortable talking through. Don’t scrimp on detail – talk the recruiter through from start to finish but make sure you are concise and specific – and don’t ramble. You can use examples where the outcome wasn’t ideal so long as you explain how you learnt from it for next time.

The most important predictor of success with behavioural based interviews is preparation and practice. The more you think about and practice how to tell your story – the more concise you will be during the interview. Practice your responses so they flow – tell the recruiter some interesting stories about your real-life competencies and they’ll be more likely to consider you as a viable candidate. Have you been involved in a behavioural based interview? How did you go? How did you prepare?

Would you like to understand more about how to prepare for behavioural based interviews? Perhaps you’d like to put together specific responses that suit your experience and the roles you are seeking, as well as participating in a mock interview. If so, click here for our interview training services.

Not Sure What to do When You Leave School?

Article by Belinda Fuller

When our career counsellors meet with school leavers or younger students thinking about what they might want to do once they leave school, there is often much confusion and many questions around study options and pathways. School leavers can feel significant pressure to make the right decision about further education and training, but sometimes taking an alternative path first is a viable option.

There are many avenues that school leavers can pursue. Some of these include:

  • Continuing with further education through University
  • Studying one of the thousands of courses offered through TAFE, private RTOs (Registered Training Organisations), or Community Training Providers
  • Securing an Australian Apprenticeship
  • Finding employment
  • Participating in community or volunteer work
  • Taking a break to travel
  • Starting your own business
  • Or a combination of these options

Choosing what you want to do with your life should be based on what you’re interested in and what you enjoy doing. You probably have a pretty good idea by now about what you’re good at academically and where your other strengths lie, so pursuing options that follow these strengths is ideal. However, don’t stress if your career options don’t appear obvious, or you feel like what you enjoy doing may not be attainable as a long term career.

It could be helpful at this point to complete an online career assessment, undertake some research on one of the many useful career sites, or participate in a career counselling session with a qualified practitioner who can help you identify your passions and make some viable choices regarding career options.

Some interesting online resources for school leavers include:

http://www.myfuture.edu.au/ – a national, online career exploration and information system that can help you identify different career options by analysing your skills, interests, values and aspirations.

http://www.jobguide.deewr.gov.au – a site describing 1500+ occupations which can provide a great starting point for making career decisions.

http://www.myuniversity.gov.au/ – a broad range of information about Australian universities and other higher education providers.

http://www.education.gov.au/career-bullseye-posters – this site helps you look at subjects you like at school and what careers might be of interest.

One important point to remember if you are considering going to University straight from school – you may need to check the course requirements to make sure you meet the prerequisites. Ideally, this is best done in Year 10, before you pick your Year 11 and 12 subjects.

It is important to do something when you leave school – both for your self-esteem and also to show future employers that you are proactive and innovative. If you really have no idea what you want to do with your life, choose something to do, but don’t base your decision on what your friends are doing or what you feel pressured to do. There are many resources out there to help you identify what you might be good at, and most importantly, what you would enjoy – seek them out and take advantage.

Are you feeling lost? Would you like career advice and assistance from a Career Coach to work out viable career options? If so, please see our range of Career Counselling services.

How to Future Proof Your Career

Article by Belinda Fuller

What will the world look like in 20 years from now? I remember well the day as a young marketer, I was given the first ‘personal computer’ my company had purchased. It was an IT (software) company so we were technologically savvy, but this really was a new frontier. Microsoft Windows ‘point and click’ had only just arrived. It isn’t that long ago, but back then anyone who needed a computer had ‘green screen’ terminals attached to a mainframe, or if you were one of the lucky few – an Apple Mac. Fast forward 20 odd years and it is unheard of for anyone in an office environment not to have their own laptop or PC with internet access and a vast array of software.

Many jobs have changed and evolved significantly, and I’m certain the job market of the future holds many surprises for most of us. So what can you do now, to ensure your knowledge and skills are marketable into the future?

1.  Keep up to date – career paths are changing all the time so stay alert and think about how cultural, economic and technological trends might affect you, your job and your company. Understand that new jobs are being created all the time.

2.  Network – most commentators agree that word of mouth and networking will become even more important in securing jobs in the future. While networking is not new, technological advances mean the way we do it is vastly different to 10 years ago. Keep track of everyone you meet, stay in touch with former colleagues and superiors and join professional networking groups. This has all become so much easier to achieve with online tools such as LinkedIn.

3.  Learn – continuous learning is essential. Offer to take on different responsibilities in your current role to gain experience that might enable you to look for opportunities outside of your primary area of expertise. Ensure your skills are transferrable by looking outside your current job scope to develop cross-functional skills.

4.  Get Tech Savvy – technological proficiency is required for more and more jobs today. Think how much a GP needs to understand about technology today compared to 10 or 20 years ago where virtually no technology was involved. There is also an increasing use of mobile technology and the globalisation of many markets means that working with virtual teams, while leveraging a range of different technologies, will be another important skill.

5.  Know Your Value – create and maintain a record of your achievements. When you’re looking for a new job, you need more than just skills and experience. You need specialist expertise and you need to be able to demonstrate the value you can bring to an organisation. By keeping track of successes, accolades, outstanding results and training completed, it will be so much easier when the time comes to move.

6.  Remain open – Your career path may be clear, but for many people it isn’t – especially if you are in a slow growing or declining industry. Keep your options open so you’re not locked in or taken by surprise. It’s best to prepare sooner rather than later.

It is important to remain flexible and optimistic. Industries, careers and jobs are changing at a rapid pace and the people that succeed are those that embrace our changing world and the setbacks encountered as learning experiences. Are you constantly listening, learning and planning? If so, you’ll find yourself in the best possible position to capitalise on opportunities as they arise.

Would you like career advice to better understand where the experts are predicting job growth for the future? Or perhaps you’d like to put together a plan that identifies how you can future proof your career. If so, our Career Advisors can help! For more information, please see our career coaching services.

Resume Services: 5 Tips to Get the Most Value

Article by Belinda Fuller

1.  Select a Reputable Company – this goes without saying, however when you’re buying online, you need to do your research. Make sure the company you select has a reputable brand. Research their website, and view their Resume writer’s profiles or biographies. Read customer testimonials and evaluate their communication with you once you make your enquiry. If they are not responsive and prompt in that first encounter then don’t expect results down the track.

2.  Work With Your Resume Writer – once you’ve engaged a writer, don’t just sit and wait. The process should be collaborative. While the Resume writer has the skills and expertise to write, you have the in depth knowledge of you! You need to be involved in the process from start to finish, providing as much information as you can to give your writer insight into what you’ve achieved in the past so they can craft a Resume that stands out. Your writer also needs to understand the direction you would like to head in so providing them with examples of jobs that appeal to you is also a good idea. Resume Writers can do wonders with your job applications, but they aren’t magicians. Work with them to ensure success.

3.  Trust Your Writer – while it is OK to ask for input from colleagues, friends and family, you are paying a professional to write your new Resume and you need to trust them to do a great job. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone say, “my friend had a look at it and said it should include X”. Really? Why didn’t they write your Resume for you? I can’t speak for other companies in the industry, but I know that my colleagues have literally hundreds of years experience between them in recruitment, human resources, and corporate/professional writing roles. They’re the experts and they work with each and every client individually to ensure the best possible outcome.

4.  Don’t be Modest – leave your modesty at the door. Resumes that stand out are those that clearly articulate the value the candidate will bring to the hiring company. This means going back to number 1 and working with your Resume writer to bring out all the achievements you’ve made in your career to date. Most people struggle to articulate their own achievements and that’s OK – your writer should be able to help you uncover those nuggets of gold. It’s always valuable to use quantifiable statements, such as dollars, savings, increases, percentages etc., however if that truly isn’t possible, you need to think about other areas where you have excelled – whether you have been promoted, received an award, implemented a new process or improved an outcome. You need to think long and hard about anything you did in your work that made you feel good, that you received good feedback on, or that you still feel proud of.

5.  Don’t Focus on the Format – appearance matters and you need to ensure your writer uses a professional looking template, however if you’re focusing too much on the design component of your Resume, you won’t achieve the best results. Content and the order in which your content is presented, is what is most important to ensure your message cuts through. Photos and fancy design components are not necessary to stand out in Australia (unless of course you are a model or actor in which case you do need a photo!).

Remember that the process should be collaborative, but you need to trust your writer to produce the best possible result for you since they are the expert. Have you had any experience with Resume Writing Services? How did you ensure the best possible result?

Are you interested in getting assistance from a professional resume writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

6 Tips for Taking Charge of Your Career in 2014

Article by Belinda Fuller

When I was made redundant several years ago, I had a great job that I loved and a baby on the way. At six months pregnant no one wanted to hire me for similar roles to what I had been doing, so I had to re-think. I’d been planning on taking 12 months maternity leave anyway, so was lucky I had some breathing space to work out what I needed to do. Taking charge of your career and ensuring you do everything in your power to remain competitive is a great New Year resolution but where do you start? Here are 6 tips to help you on the way:

1.  Update Your Resume – have a new Resume ready to go and don’t wait until you’re ready to apply. I encounter many clients who come across the perfect job, get approached by a company who wants to see their resume, or even get made redundant out of the blue. They then have to rush the process of updating or creating a new Resume. Update your resume today and make sure you keep it updated for the future.

2.  Don’t be Bashful – employers want to know what you’re good at and what you can do for them. It’s no point being self-conscious when you’re talking about yourself. You need to be prepared to discuss your achievements in a way that resonates with potential employers, so they want to hire you. Your achievements don’t always have to all be quantifiable with $ or numbers, but they need to be accomplishments that made a difference to your company’s performance and they need to be clearly articulated in your job application. Make a note every time you achieve something you’re proud of or receive some positive feedback – that way, when you go to update your resume or have an upcoming interview, you’ll have the information on hand.

3.  Think About Change – why do you want to change jobs? It’s no point thinking “I don’t like my job, so I’ll get a new one”. Put some thought into the areas that make you unhappy and what you most enjoy doing, then seek out roles and companies that can provide more of the latter.

4.  Keep Learning – are you learning new skills in your current role? If you’re not, you need to work out how you can. We all need to continuously learn to ensure solid future career prospects. If your work environment doesn’t provide that opportunity, then you need to take it upon yourself to enrol in courses, take up volunteer work, or offer to take on more (different) tasks and responsibilities in your current role. Learning new skills can also help you take your career in a different direction if that’s what you’re aiming for.

5.  Research – even if you are not actively seeking a new job, you should regularly search job sites and other avenues to see what’s out there. As a Resume Consultant, I advise people to mould themselves to the jobs they want to achieve, not where they are right now. By understanding where you want to be in the future, you can take action now to achieve that. This could be taking on new responsibilities and tasks as mentioned in TIP number 4, starting some study or completing short courses, or networking outside of your company to foster relevant contacts. By understanding what companies are looking for in the roles you want to achieve, and ensuring you develop those skills and expertise, you will be better placed to achieve results when the time comes.

6. Build Your Network – use LinkedIn and create a high quality professional profile. Connect with people inside and outside of your current company, interact with others, participate in online forums, share information, answer questions, post links, and follow companies you’d like to work with. You need to build your networks and credibility within those networks because research shows that word of mouth and professional networks are fast becoming one of the primary sources of new hires.

Take action today and every day to ensure your career remains firmly within your control, and more importantly that you are perfectly placed to take advantage of any opportunities as they arise.

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to take charge of your career in 2014? If so, please see our Career Coaching Services.

How to be Happy at Work

Article by Belinda Fuller

There have been countless studies and research projects conducted to try to discover the secret to happy employees. In recent years, it has become huge business, as companies recognise the significant benefits that come from achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. Apparently almost every business metric that can be measured (e.g. productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, absenteeism, safety etc.) can be directly impacted by how happy the employees are. So, it’s in an organisation’s best interests to make sure its employees are happy.

Despite this, many people we speak to are unhappy at work. No matter what the study, happy employees tend to be those that enjoy what they do and feel valued and recognised by their employer as doing a good job. It’s a well known fact that well managed organisations who trust and support their employees to do their jobs are the ones with the happiest employees. However, there are many organisations out there that just aren’t achieving that balance. There are several factors that you have control over. Here are some tips to help you achieve more happiness at work:

1.  Avoid negativity – choose to be happy rather than down. Instead of dwelling on negative aspects of your work or things you can’t change, focus on what you like. Avoid negative people, find colleagues you like spending time with and don’t get involved in negative conversations or gossip. Greet and smile at everyone you encounter and you’ll be surprised at how many of your smiles are returned.

2.  Do something you like every day – you want to be happy in your work so that means avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Identify aspects of your job you love, and skills and interests that inspire you. Think about how you can be even better at what you do. Approach your superior with suggestions on how you might be able to incorporate more of these aspects into your day to day work.

3. Be Organised – arrive a little early so you don’t have a rushed start to your day. Plan your day and only make commitments you can meet. A common cause of unhappiness at work is missed deadlines which causes unnecessary stress and worry. By planning your workload, checking your diary, and making daily ‘to do’ lists, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines. And make sure you factor in some time for breaks – they’ll re-energise and invigorate you and help you feel more positive.

4. Ask for Feedback – the happiest employees are those that feel their contribution matters. You can’t change what you don’t know, so if you don’t receive regular feedback on your work, ask for it. You could also ask customers and colleagues for feedback as well as your boss. Chances are you know how you’re performing but you just want acknowledgement – it’s a proven driver of workplace happiness.

5. Improve your workspace – think about how your space could be more pleasant. Keep your desk tidy and invest in some accessories to help you stay organised. Personalise your space with photos, flowers, a plant, and positive affirmations – anything that contributes to making you feel happy and positive.

6. Continue to learn and grow – take responsibility for your continuing education and professional development. If your company supports you by paying for courses and giving you time off, take advantage. If they don’t – do it anyway – you are the one with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally so take charge and make investing in training a priority.

7. Know what’s going on – seek out the information you need to do your job well. Some companies are great at communicating information about the company, department and current projects being worked on – others aren’t so good. If your company is one of the latter then develop your own networks and use them to find out what you need to know.

8. Make plans – if all else fails, it might be time to start thinking about a career move. There’s nothing like planning your exit to make you smile. But don’t compromise your future by not giving your best. If you come across as happy and committed you’ll be more likely to receive a complimentary and positive reference when the time comes.

Remember, you are responsible for your own destiny. If you’re feeling unhappy at work, there are many things you can do to feel more positive and happy.

Are you feeling unhappy in your work? Would you like career advice from a Career Coach to help you plan your next career move? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

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