LinkedIn SEO: how to optimise your profile

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to SEO optimise your Linked profileHave you ever wondered how to get more eyes on your LinkedIn profile? Enhancing it for SEO (search engine optimisation) is one of the most effective things you can do. SEO – in relation to LinkedIn – refers to the way you write and use your profile to increase its ranking in a search and therefore its visibility. The higher your profile is ranked when someone searches for a particular term, the more views your profile is likely to get.

There are many factors that affect your SEO and visibility, including LinkedIn’s ranking process. Like most search engines, LinkedIn uses algorithms to select and order the results provided when someone searches something. Each LinkedIn user is given a unique relevance score based on various factors to determine the order in which profiles are ranked. These algorithms and factors are complex and kept secret by LinkedIn.

However, there are many things you can do. Other factors that influence your ranking and visibility include keywords, profile completeness, user activity, number of connections, content relevance, endorsements, recommendations and your relevance/relationship to the person searching.

To optimise your profile so more people view it, try focusing on these areas:

  • Keywords: Come up with a list of words or terms that a recruiter looking for someone like you might use when searching – for example, ‘project management’ or ‘software development’. Then use these keywords throughout your profile in as many sections as possible, including your headline, role descriptions and Skills & Endorsements. In the Skills & Endorsements section, LinkedIn prioritises skills already in its database, so when adding a new skill, start typing it, then select the most relevant suggestion that appears.
  • Headline: Customising your heading is not only critical for SEO, it’s also an important part of your personal brand. LinkedIn automatically populates your headline with your current or most recent position – however, you have the option to customise it. We always recommend doing so, as well as using all 120 characters available to create an informative and impactful snapshot of yourself. For example, a profile’s ‘automatic’ headline might read “CEO at ABC Company”. But a better option is to customise it to something like: “Senior Leader & CEO ♦ Technology Sales/Operations ♦ Transformational Change ♦ Business Turnaround Expert”. The second headline is much more descriptive and impactful, and helps to build a strong personal brand.
  • Profile completeness: If your profile isn’t 100% complete, try to fill out every section with clear and concise information that includes your keywords. Consider using bullet points rather than paragraphs, and format the text so it’s easy to read. Using up all the character limits in sections can also help improve your SEO. Use LinkedIn’s automated guidance to help improve your profile – it prompts you to add to incomplete sections. Broaden your network with quality connections – think superiors, colleagues, clients and customers. The more connections you have, the better chance you have of being found, but it helps to focus on quality over quantity.
  • Job title optimisation. Including keywords in your job titles assists with SEO. Ensure they are optimised for the roles you are seeking and they accurately reflect what you did. If a title doesn’t properly reflect the role, consider tweaking it so that it does.
  • Vanity URL. LinkedIn allows you to personalise your URL, changing it from the automated URL, which is usually quite long and contains a random assortment of numbers. Taking advantage of this feature can make it easier for people who know you to find you. You can also more easily add it to your email signature, business cards and other marketing material.
  • Group Participation. Joining, and actively participating in, groups may improve your profile’s visibility, while also helping to expand your network with like-minded people. Here’s a bonus tip: choose groups relevant to your keywords. They appear publicly on your profile, so your keyword usage increases. Join local groups but also seek out national or international groups. These can help increase your ranking as well as showcasing your successes and the value you’ve created. Don’t be shy – ask colleagues, superiors, customers, etc. for recommendations on work you have done in the past. If you feel uncomfortable asking, you could offer to write one for them and ask them to return the favour.
  • Photo. Profiles with photos are viewed significantly more than those without. Include a clear, good-quality photo of yourself taken against a white or plain background. You ideally want to show head and shoulders and be dressed in professional attire. Read our previous article for tips on how to get a professional head-shot without hiring a photographer.
  • Anchor text links. Where you include a website address, you can customise the ‘anchor’ or ‘search’ text to a title that makes more sense – for example, your personal blog might be called ‘xyz.com.au’ but you could change the anchor text to ‘CEO Advice Centre’. Again, this is an opportunity to include your keywords.

Follow these simple tips for optimising your profile and watch your activity rise. LinkedIn has a feature that lets you see who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days and allows you to access trends and insights – so use this to monitor your success.

Do you need to strengthen your LinkedIn profile so you can get more views – and more opportunities? We can help you develop a professional, keyword-optimised profile that sets you apart from your competitors. Learn more about our LinkedIn Profile Writing Service.

Why a career coach could be your secret weapon

Article by Belinda Fuller

Why a career coach could be your secret weaponIf you’re stuck in a rut in your current job or keen to make a change, but unsure of your direction or purpose, you might be relieved to know that you can call on expert support.

Career coaches are experts in their field, with a wealth of experience across a variety of industries and occupations. They provide professional, independent advice on career and/or training options, and help people to embark on new careers aligned to their personality, interests and values.

Let’s look at what you can (and can’t) expect from working with a career coach, what a typical consultation involves and how to get the most from your investment.

 From planning to action: how a career coach can help

  • Career planning: Career coaches use a range of tools and techniques, such as personality profiling and career interest assessments, to assess your interests, values and personality. This helps them to identify the careers, industries and work environments that may best suit you. They can also provide advice and information to help you explore those career options and create a realistic, personalised action plan.
  • Advice on further education and training: Career coaches can help you identify your current skills and explore ways to improve them or develop new ones. They can advise on further education and training opportunities, and can also help you to market your current skills to internal and external recruitment decision-makers.
  • Resume and interview advice: Career coaches can support you during the job-search process by helping you prepare for an interview and providing advice on writing resumes and cover letters. They may also be able to find job opportunities for you that you weren’t previously aware of.
  • Support in taking that next step: A career coach will support you through the process by providing direction, helping you to establish clear goals and advising you on how to achieve them. This will help you to build your confidence and find new inspiration.

What not to expect from a career coach

  • A career coach is a facilitator, not a prophet. Don’t expect them to tell you what you should do with your career. They are a guide and mentor, there to help you make long-lasting changes, position yourself for success and make the most out of your skills and knowledge. But it’s important that you’re accountable for your own career decisions.
  • A career coach can’t do everything for you. You need to listen to, and learn from, your career coach’s advice, but you also need to be an active participant in the process. Coaching doesn’t work unless you do. Your coach won’t come with you to interviews, nor will they find you a job or rewrite your resume every time you need to update it. Be prepared to take action!
  • A career coach won’t change your life in an instant. Major change takes time and commitment. Your coach will support you through this process until you feel comfortable to take your next career step. Be patient and prepared for challenges!

What happens in a career coaching consultation?

Your career coach will cover a range of topics, and your consultation may include:

  • Discussing and assessing your current situation.
  • Identifying your career goals and key values.
  • Personality assessments and career interests profiling.
  • Discussing career options that fit your personality, interests and values.
  • Identifying your strengths and transferrable skills.
  • Identifying work tasks and environments that will suit you best.
  • Feedback on your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
  • An action plan for taking practical next steps.

A career coach can help you find the clarity you’ve been lacking and move towards your dream job or career. If you’re interested in working with an experienced career coach, see our Career Counselling Services and discover how our experts can support your success.

 

How to nail these 6 types of job interviews

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to nail these 6 types of job interviewsThe way organisations hire employees is constantly evolving. The job interview process is significantly different from what it was 10 years ago, and we’re betting it will be vastly different again 10 years from now. While many recruiters agree that the traditional face-to-face interview is still an essential part of recruitment, some say there are better ways.

Here are six types of job interviews you might experience, with an overview of what to expect and some tips on ensuring success.

Interview Type 1: Assessment centre: This is an extended period of interviews, tasks and assessment exercises, organised by recruiters for groups of candidates. This format is often used for graduate roles where an employer is looking for a larger cohort of candidates. It’s also often used for call centres or project-type roles where a group of people need to be hired for the same type of role starting on the same date. An assessment centre is usually run over several hours – sometimes up to a day – and includes several components such as a presentation from the employer, group exercises and problem-solving tasks, individual exercises, aptitude/psychometric tests, a one-on-one interview, role-plays and simulation exercises.

Assessment centres are a reliable way for employers to gain a well-rounded picture of you as a candidate. To stand out in this type of interview, it’s important to remember that you are constantly being assessed. Interact with others and get involved with the activities, but be yourself and be careful not to dominate situations. Prepare by reading any information the employer sends, practising any parts you can, and making sure you’re well rested – they can be mentally tiring!

Interview Type 2: The sequential interview: This consists of several interviews in succession but with a different interviewer each time. These can also be tiring, not to mention repetitive. Even though you will be interviewed by different people, you may be asked the same questions. Alternatively, each interviewer may ask questions to test different sets of competencies. No matter how many times you have to repeat yourself, be consistent and enthusiastic each time. Gather as many details about the overall process and your interviewers beforehand. If you know the names of your interviewers, prepare a couple of questions relevant to their area of expertise.

Interview Type 3: Problem-solving or case interview: Employers use this style to test candidates’ analytical ability and communication skills. In this type of interview, you will be presented with a problem to solve. You’re not necessarily expected to arrive at the ‘correct’ answer. The interviewer is more interested in your thought process and how you reach your conclusion. They will be assessing your ability to break a problem down and think logically under pressure to solve it. These types of scenarios can also be included in assessment centre format (see above) where you might be expected to solve the problem as part of a team.

Interview Type 4: Panel interview: A panel interview is where one candidate is interviewed by several individuals, and it’s used when an employer wants multiple opinions on who to hire. Panel interviews vary in style, but they’re generally quite formal and will probably include behavioural based questions. Try to remember each interviewer’s name and use it throughout the process. When answering a question, focus on the person who asked the question, but make eye contact with the others. If two or more interviewers ask a similar question, be patient and simply restate your answer using slightly different phrasing.

Interview Type 5: Soft-skills assessments: Personality profile tests have been used by recruiters for many years now. Other tests that measure attitudes, people skills, social skills, emotional/social intelligence and other desired qualities are also becoming more common. These comprehensive tests provide a more realistic view of a candidate’s personality than a recruiter can get from a traditional interview. Some employers will create an ideal employee profile based on high-performing current employees, then use that to assess and rank candidates. You will often be asked to complete these tests online before other evaluations, because this allows organisations to assess larger numbers of candidates faster. In other scenarios, your soft skills may be assessed in person. It’s difficult to ‘practise’ acing a soft skills assessment. Understanding what soft skills are required for the role and highlighting your capacity in these areas during the interview is key. Being able to cite examples demonstrating your competence is helpful. Think about projects or examples where you’ve demonstrated strong communication, critical thinking, decision making, time management, team work, problem-solving skills, and the like.

Interview Type 6: Informal interviews: These aren’t especially new but they’re rising in popularity. Casual settings put people at ease and many recruiters believe they provide a more realistic snapshot of a candidate’s personality than traditional interviews. For example, inviting a candidate out for coffee or lunch and then watching how they interact with waiters or assessing reactions to certain situations can present a truer picture of personality, tolerance, resilience and ability to handle problems. Prepare for this type of interview in the same way you would a traditional interview. Research the company and its products and services, challenges, achievements and competition. Be ready to discuss your background, accomplishments and long-term goals and have some examples or success stories prepared that relate to the role.

There is no doubt that the job-interview process is changing, thanks to new approaches that help organisations get to know candidates better, measure skills more objectively and make smarter hiring decisions. Understanding the different types of job interviews and what to expect is your first step to success.

Do you feel ready for the different types of job interviews conducted today? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

How to answer: “What do you know about our company?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer What do you know about our companyInterview questions come in all formats. A recruiter will often see you as a stronger candidate if they believe you’re genuinely interested in the company. When you’re asked “What do you know about our company?” – it is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate your interest, and being well prepared will help you do it well. If you don’t answer well, the recruiter might assume you’re not really interested in the job.

To prepare your best possible answer, do as much research as you can about the employer, the role, the industry, employees and even the interviewer. Below are the things you should focus on.

  • The employer: Explore the company website to understand exactly what the company does. Research products or services, size (revenue and employee numbers), locations, customers and news. Do a general Google search to see what pops up -for example, news items, client stories, reviews and competitor information. Pay particular attention to names of products or services and think about your experience using/purchasing them (if relevant). Look for a LinkedIn company profile and other social media profiles. If it’s a public company, you could review their annual report, which you can usually download from their website. Some companies may also send a printed copy of their annual report if you request it. Annual reports for all government entities can be found on the Australian Government website.
     
    When delivering your response, it can help to discuss an example that relates to what the organisation is going through. For example, you could say something like, “I noticed you’re going through a period of rapid growth but have several changes to deal with as a result of legislation. When I was working at ABC Company, we experienced similar change in a short time-frame. While it was an extremely challenging time, it was also exciting and I’m drawn to working in that environment again, helping the organisation to transition while maintaining its sharp growth trajectory.”
  • The role: Carefully read the job description sentence by sentence to ensure you understand exactly what they are looking for. Then think about how to relate your experience to the requirements and discuss aspects that interest you most (focusing on the company). If you can, prepare one or more examples that demonstrate your success in each of the role’s focus areas. You can then draw on that to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and how this role might impact the company’s overall success.
  • The industry: Understand what market the company is in. Who buys the products or services? Research competitors and determine how this company compares in terms of size, approach and where they all sit in the marketplace. Look for reviews or threads in forums. Find out whether the industry and/or organisation is growing or declining.
  • The employees: To gain further insight into the company, you could also talk to current or former employees. Look to your network to see whether you know anyone who could give you some additional facts about the company – for example, future plans or upcoming projects. Research profiles of employees in similar roles to the one you’re applying for to get a feel for their backgrounds. You can do this within the company you’re interviewing with as well as its competitors.
  • The interviewer: Review the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to get a sense of their background. Having something in common or knowing a small fact about their professional experience to comment on can help you form a connection and make a lasting impression. This might just set you apart from other candidates.

Answering the question, “What do you know about our company” is a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the employer and how you can help the company achieve its goals. Try to deliver your response with a focus on the recruiter, to build a personal connection, and be positive and upbeat about the company. Put yourself in the recruiter’s or employer’s shoes and help them understand the benefits of hiring you.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

13 things you’re doing wrong on LinkedIn

Article by Belinda Fuller

13 things you're doing wrong on LinkedInLinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 575 million users. It’s become an indispensable tool for recruiters, which means your profile is often the first impression a recruiter gets of you. Does your profile help you put your best foot forward? There are many ways to get it right – and many ways to get it not so right.

Here are the most common mistakes we see and how you can avoid them.

Mistake 1 – No profile picture: LinkedIn says that profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without one. And a professional-looking photo makes a big difference. For tips on how to get a great-quality photo without paying a pro photographer, read our previous article on getting a professional headshot. Just remember: no dogs, babies, partners or party shots!

Mistake 2 – Not customising your headline: LinkedIn automatically populates your headline with your current or most recent position, but you can, and should, customise it. We recommend using all 120 characters available to create an informative and impactful snapshot of yourself. This is an important part of building your personal brand.

Mistake 3 – Skipping the summary: This is one of the most common areas we see clients overlook, but this is a wasted opportunity. Use it to provide an overview of who you are, who you help, what you specialise in and what you’ve achieved, using short, sharp wording broken up with subheadings and bullet points. Optimise your summary using keywords related to the roles you’re seeking.

Mistake 4 – Not making it consistent with your resume: LinkedIn should not be a cut-and-paste of your resume, but the two should align. While LinkedIn is more personal, less formal and may contain additional information, make sure your roles, dates and qualifications match up.

Mistake 5 – Forgetting to customise your LinkedIn URL: When you set up your profile, you’re automatically assigned a long combination of random letters and numbers as a unique URL. Take advantage of the ‘vanity URL’ option and customise your URL to reflect your first and last names or your business name (if you’re a business owner).

Mistake 6 – Not having recommendations: Recommendations are the easiest way to show credibility. They’re the modern-day version of a written reference, so spend some time requesting them. Approach appropriate 1st level contacts and ask them if they’ll write you a recommendation, specifying what you’re after or what you’d like highlighted. Be specific and most people will oblige. If you’re finding it hard to ask for a recommendation, offer to write one for somebody you’ve worked with and ask them to return the favour.

Mistake 7 – Sending random or non-personalised connection requests: While it’s not essential to restrict your networking to people you know well, you should always provide context when sending a connection request. For example, if you know the person, ask them about their business or personal life; if you’ve met the person briefly, remind them how you met; and if you’ve never met, do some research and tailor your request to explain why you’d like to connect.

Mistake 8 – Not building connections: Many employers place high value on a candidate’s connections. In many roles, you might be hired because you know certain people in your industry. You might be amazed at just how many people you know on LinkedIn. Seek them out and connect with them. You should be constantly building your network, adding contacts and accepting connection requests.

Mistake 9 – Not using web-friendly content: To improve readability and highlight important points, use bullet points and subheadings in relevant sections, including your summary and experience. Consider adjusting the order of your experience, skills, education etc. to suit your target role or industry. Be sure to use keywords and phrases specific to the position(s) you’re seeking throughout your profile.

Mistake 10 – Having an incomplete profile: Completing your profile not only helps more recruiters find you, it also sends a great message about your professionalism to people viewing your profile. In addition, it provides more networking opportunities. Complete as many sections as possible to achieve an ‘All-Star’ level.

Mistake 11 – Not including supporting information: LinkedIn lets you link to blogs, websites, presentations, projects etc. where people can learn more about you and your professional achievements. Including this supporting information will help strengthen your profile.

Mistake 12 – Not making it easy for people to contact you: LinkedIn is all about engaging with people. Invite people to connect or to contact you for advice if relevant. Including some personal information like volunteer work can also encourage like-minded people to connect with you. Take some time to learn about privacy settings to ensure you’re happy with how others see your profile, activities, and network information. Set preferences regarding job seeking, including letting recruiters know you’re open to opportunities.

Mistake 13 – Not responding professionally: Not responding to emails and connection requests in a timely manner looks unprofessional. Likewise, making judgements about people’s motives could be a mistake. Try to treat any enquiries or connection requests in the same way you would treat a business or sales enquiry. You don’t want to waste time obviously, but try not to ignore people you initially perceive as not able to add value.

LinkedIn is a fantastic professional networking tool with many features and benefits that you may not be taking advantage of. Optimise your profile using our tips above and you may be surprised by the results.

Do you need a stronger LinkedIn profile to help you connect with like-minded industry experts or boost your job search? We can help you develop a professional, keyword-optimised profile that sets you apart from your competitors. Learn more about our LinkedIn Profile Writing Service.

9 tips for avoiding job burnout

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 tips for avoiding job burnoutMost of us feel stressed about our job from time to time, but what happens when we feel stressed all the time? If you’re feeling overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism and detachment from your job, and a sense of ineffectiveness / lack of accomplishment, you could be experiencing burnout. The long-term impact on your physical and mental health from job burnout can be serious. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon in its International Classification of Diseases. While doctors need to be careful to rule out adjustment disorder, anxiety and other mood-related disorders, the classification may help highlight the need for work-life balance for workers.

Leaving the job that’s causing the problem might seem like the obvious solution, but that may not be the answer. It might not even be viable since you need financial security, energy and drive to secure a new job. Plus, many experts believe that the burnout will simply follow you to the next role.

The best approach, therefore, is to avoid burnout in the first place. Here are our top tips.

Tip 1: Work with purpose – This isn’t just a warm and fuzzy idea. When we have a purpose to our work other than simply earning money to live, it can help avoid burnout. Look at the deeper impact of what you do every day and ask yourself: Does the work you do make a difference to your company? How does your work impact other people? Do you feel a sense of satisfaction? How could you add more meaning to what you do every day? If you think you might be in the wrong role, you could talk to a career consultant to help you find your ideal career.

Tip 2: Complete a job analysis – When we feel overwhelmed by work on a daily basis, it can be difficult just to ‘catch up’. To clarify where you’re spending time while understanding exactly what’s expected of you, it helps to analyse your job requirements and track your time for a few days. You can then work towards eliminating or delegating tasks that aren’t contributing to desired outcomes.

If you feel like you have too much work to handle, discuss it with your boss. Come prepared with details about your workload and why you believe it’s unrealistic, as well as ideas about how to address the issue.

Tip 3: Establish working hours – It’s often easier said than done, but setting boundaries for yourself and others is important. If you work from home, walk away from your office space at a set time each day. If you work in an office, try not to take work home unnecessarily. Leave work at a set time to spend planned time with family or friends. For many people, it takes a personal emergency for them to reschedule something important at work. Turn that around and give your personal time the same respect – try not to ‘reschedule’ it unless absolutely necessary.

Tip 4: Switch off – Any device that’s keeping you connected to work should be turned off outside of work hours as much as possible. If you’re spending time with your family or partner, this is especially important. We need uninterrupted time to focus on personal relationships. Even if you just switch off for an hour or during a meal, try to do it every day. Turning off technology allows us to focus on our relationships, which goes a long way towards preventing burnout.

Tip 5: Take time out – Make sure you take your annual leave each year, try not to work weekends and include some ‘me time’ every day (more on this in our next tip). At a minimum you should schedule two weeks off each year. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged you so you can be more productive – and less stressed – when you return to work.

Tip 6: Schedule something enjoyable every day – This could involve exercise, a lunchtime walk or coffee catch-up with a friend or colleague, gardening or cooking. It could simply be going to bed 30 minutes earlier to read a book or spending some quiet time doing nothing. It’s easy to find enjoyable things to do that aren’t expensive or time-consuming, and it will make a difference to your stress levels.

Tip 7: Exercise regularly – Exercise is a well-known stress reliever and it helps increase energy and productivity at work. That said, when you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be hard to find the time to fit it in, let alone the motivation to start. Try getting up a little earlier, exercising during your lunch break or involving co-workers in your physical activity. Read our previous article for tips for a more active workday.

Tip 8: Learn stress management techniques – Most of us experience short-term stress at work and that’s normal. But when it’s prolonged or not managed well, it can contribute significantly to burnout. If you’re prone to stress, learning how to manage it is key. Strategies might include deep breathing, meditation, relaxation, getting more sleep and exercise – but just changing the way you think or react to certain situations also helps. The power of positive thinking! Talking to someone about how you feel might also help alleviate stress.

Tip 9: Take back control – You don’t need to be available for work all the time and you aren’t obliged to say ‘yes’ to everything. Learn to say ‘no’ sometimes and take back some control.

If you’ve been in the same job or industry for several years, it’s common to feel a lack of energy or motivation. But job burnout is different. It’s also preventable. So don’t wait until you reach that point – start taking steps today to manage your stress levels and protect your health and well being.

Are you unhappy in your job? Are you counting down the days to the weekend and ready for a change? Our Career Counselling and Career Coaching Service can help. Find out more.

How to take control of your job search and get results

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to take control of your job search and get resultsWhen you’re hunting for a job, there are so many factors outside of your control that it can make the process feel stressful and overwhelming. But there are plenty of factors you can manage too. So if you’ve been searching without much success, it could be time to take control! Here are six ways you can do it.

  1. Get some perspective – It’s tough out there. Being turned down numerous times can be discouraging. But sometimes we get caught in a negative mindset when things aren’t actually as bad as we think. Try bringing a fresh perspective to your job search. Recognise that it’s a process that takes time and commitment, and set some realistic expectations about the work involved. Give yourself a decent period of concerted effort before you even think about feeling disheartened.
  2. Be over-prepared – You can’t control your competition but you can control your own performance. That means presenting an application that responds to all the requirements of the role, and being as prepared as possible in an interview. Get clear on what you offer and where your strengths lie, and be prepared to talk confidently about yourself and your achievements. Make an effort to understand the company and/or the industry to understand and articulate how you might be able to solve a challenge or contribute to the company’s success.
  3. Be clear about your value – Recruiters are time-poor so make it easy for them to see your value. Review the job ad and ensure your application ‘matches’ what they are searching for. Sometimes companies rely on an applicant tracking system to filter applications. Other times, a less experienced team member might complete a first review. This means you need to be very specific about your experience and capabilities, using keywords such as exact titles and important words and phrases used in the job ad.
  4. Demonstrate success – Past performance is a clear indicator of future success. Detail previous accomplishments to show employers what you might be capable of in a new role. This is important in your application (including your cover letter, resume and any selection criteria response), but also in an interview. Come armed with stories about your successes that you think the employer will relate to and that align with the organisation’s goals.
  5. Access the hidden job market – Many jobs are never advertised; instead they’re found on what we call the ‘hidden job market’. Word of mouth is your way in, so get networking with people in your industry, connect with appropriate recruiters, join relevant LinkedIn Groups and keep building and using your LinkedIn profile. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer, then set up meetings with potential recruiters or introducers to discuss opportunities. Think about companies you’d like to work for, then read their online careers page and follow them on social media. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many ways to connect with your network so use them all: phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, professional association seminars, and in-person and online networking groups.
  6. Be realistic – Be honest about what you can realistically offer a new employer. It’s tempting to apply for more senior or challenging roles, which is great (it’s important to expand our potential!), but make sure that what you’re applying for is attainable. If you’re not hearing back from companies you’ve applied to, put yourself in the employer’s position. What do you look like on paper? You may believe you have what it takes, but if you can’t demonstrate that, you might lose out to another candidate who already has the relevant experience.

Today’s job market is competitive and the job search process can feel daunting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve success. If you’ve been feeling discouraged about your job search, it might be time to take back control!

 A customised job search strategy and a tailored, professionally prepared application can make a huge difference to your job search. Need some help? Take a look at our Job Search Coaching Services and Resume Writing Services.

 

Busted: common recruitment myths

Article by Belinda Fuller

In a crowded job market, it can be difficult to stand out. This is particularly true if you believe some of the common recruitment myths. Read on for a list of the myths we hear most often, so you can rethink your application approach and give yourself a better chance for success.

MYTH: You should apply for as many jobs as possible

FACT: While broadening your horizons is often a good thing, we believe quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the jobs you go for. Applying for some well-chosen roles and tailoring your application to ensure you hit the mark for each one will most likely give you better results in the long run.

MYTH: You won’t get the job without experience

FACT: There are many exceptions to this, so don’t let that belief hold you back. If you demonstrate the right attitude and transferable skills, you may have a shot. Think about existing skills and achievements that make you an asset. Network with people you’d like to work for or with and attend relevant industry events. Companies really value cultural fit these days so show the employer what you have to offer, using passion and commitment to make up for your lack of experience.

MYTH: Your resume needs a unique design

FACT: This can actually be a hindrance. In most cases, an elaborate or unusual design isn’t a good idea since it can detract from your message and make it harder for a recruiter to find what they’re looking for. (The exception may be if you’re in a creative industry). The content you include is more important than design, although it must look professional, of course. It’s best to stick with a clean, simple style with a conventional layout. Aim for a contemporary design that attracts the recruiter’s eye without overwhelming or polarising.

MYTH: Your resume must be no more than one or two pages

FACT: Keeping your resume too short can mean you don’t effectively showcase your capabilities. We recommend three to five pages depending on your role, industry and seniority unless otherwise specified in the job ad. Some countries such as the US and Canada prefer shorter resumes so make sure you adjust the length accordingly.

MYTH: You shouldn’t apply for a job unless you meet all the requirements

FACT: We often recommend to clients that they apply for jobs where they meet at least 80% of the requirements. Only applying for roles where you have all of the experience and qualifications stated may limit your chances for growth and development. Plus an employer isn’t necessarily looking for someone who’s done the exact same role before – rather, they want someone who they believe can do a great job now and into the future.

MYTH: You don’t need a cover letter

FACT: You usually have a very short amount of time to grab the recruiter’s attention (some recruiters say 20–30 seconds). A cover letter provides a great opportunity to customise your content to the role and show why you think you’re the ideal candidate, to help your application stand out. It allows you to share information about yourself (as it relates to the role) that you can’t include in your resume. A tailored cover letter also shows the recruiter you’re serious about the role.

MYTH: Working with one or two specialist agencies is the best approach

FACT: Many of our clients tell us they’re working with a great recruiter who specialises in their industry and will find them a suitable role. But recruiters work for employers and they’re usually hired exclusively for a role. As a candidate, you need exposure to more employers, which means you should be working with as many recruiters as possible. This also means doing a lot of legwork yourself. Sign up to job boards, research companies you’d like to work with and network with people in the industry to make sure you know about the jobs on offer.

MYTH: You should include a photo on your resume

FACT: You should only do this if you’re a model or an actor. The initial decision about your suitability for an interview is based on your capabilities, experience and accomplishments, not what you look like. Including a photo on your resume can also make it look a little dated, as this is an out-of-date practice. However, you should always include a photo on your LinkedIn profile (make sure it’s a professional-looking head shot). Want to learn more about how to supercharge your LinkedIn profile? Read our top four tips here.

MYTH: Your resume should include your entire work history

FACT: We generally recommend going back 10 years, and beyond that, including some background or summary information if relevant. So long as your recent career history is relevant to the role you’re applying for, we recommend limiting your content to that.

There are many factors involved in securing a new role and if you’re finding it tough, you’re not alone. Have any of the common recruitment myths above been holding you back? If so, you might need to change your approach – and you could just find it opens up new possibilities.

Are you confused about the recruitment process and feeling disheartened? Our professional writers can help you prepare a winning resume, cover letter or job application. See our Resume Writing Services to learn more.

Move more: tips for a more active workday

Article by Belinda Fuller

More more tips for a more active workdayThese days, experts recommend we take at least 10,000 steps a day, and some have deemed sitting ‘the new smoking’. But what can we do if we’re in a mostly sedentary job that involves sitting in front of a computer all day? You don’t need to fit in a hard-core workout every day of the week – and for most of us this just isn’t possible – but a few small tricks and routine changes can make all the difference.

Here are some easy tips for incorporating more movement into your workday.

Tip 1: Change your commute – Run, walk or ride to work, even part of the way if all the way isn’t a realistic option. It’s a great way to get some exercise into your regular day. If you catch public transport, try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, park a little further away. It might mean setting your alarm a bit earlier, but the small amount of lost sleep is worth it.

Tip 2: Stand up – Research shows you use more muscles and burn more calories standing up than sitting down, so look for opportunities to get out of your chair whenever you can. It doesn’t need to be all day: incorporating just some periods of standing while working is beneficial. Try standing up every time you complete certain tasks – for example, while you’re talking on the phone, when people visit for a chat or when you’re reading something. You could also try a standing desk, or improvise with a high table or counter if your workplace doesn’t offer them.

Tip 3: Talk and walk – We often have to sit through meetings that stretch on longer than necessary. Research shows that walking or standing meetings can be a great way to increase efficiency. For smaller groups or one-on-ones, a walking meeting can allow you to get things done while being more active. The change of scenery may also encourage creativity.

Tip 4: Get up regularly – Take your smallest water bottle to work or use a glass, then aim to drink a certain amount of water every day. Getting up to fill your bottle or glass is a great way to incorporate a little incidental exercise. It also gives your eyes a rest if you’re sitting at a computer, and it’s a great mental boost.

Tip 5: Take the long way – When you need to leave your desk, don’t take any shortcuts – pick the longest route to get you where you’re going. It might not seem like much, but every step counts. If you can, use the bathroom on another floor, take the stairs rather than the lift, and when filling that water bottle, pick the water cooler that’s furthest away.

Tip 6: Track your steps – Activity trackers can be a great incentive to get moving. If you’ve never worn one before, try it and you may be shocked at how few steps you actually take each day unless you make the effort. Wearing a tracker (or using the step tracker on your smartphone) and incorporating even small amounts of walking – such as around the building or the block a few times a day – can go a long way to helping you meet your daily goals. Aim to increase your steps or distance a little each week.

Tip 7: Visit colleagues – How many times a day do you email someone with a question or request then wait for their response? If they’re in the same office as you, walk to their desk and resolve the issue on the spot. Not only is the movement good but the social interaction is also beneficial for your mental wellbeing.

Tip 8: Stretch – Stand up every 30 minutes or so, stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the effects of sitting hunched over a desk. You could take a stretch band to work and do some simple exercises. Even interlacing your fingers behind your back and stretching out your chest is helpful.

Tip 9: Don’t wait idly – Turn any waiting time into a movement opportunity. If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, or waiting at the coffee machine, photocopier or even the bathroom, do some exercises like lunges, squats or calf raises – or simply take a quick walk.

Tip 10: Take a lunch break – Instead of eating at your desk, it’s important to take a proper break. This helps boost productivity and creativity, while also providing a good opportunity to move. Take a walk outside for part of your lunch break. Even better, grab some co-workers and do a class or workout at the gym, go for a run or climb some stairs.

Tip 11: Schedule mini-breaks – In addition to your lunch break, schedule a few extra breaks throughout the day and use them to get away from your desk. If you find that you forget to move when you’re immersed in work, set a regular alarm to remind you to get up. If possible walk up some stairs or get outside, even just for five minutes. Again, the physical benefits are obvious but the mental benefits are also huge.

Tip 12: Involve others – Involving co-workers in your physical activity, whether formal or informal, is great motivation. You could organise a small office challenge such as tracking steps to see who can do the most in a day. Or you could suggest training for an upcoming fun run or charity walk together, organise a lunchtime walking group or set a group alarm to stand up each hour to stretch. It’s easier to be more active if you do it as a group – the support makes it more fun and social, and the accountability keeps you motivated.

Many of us can’t avoid spending hours sitting in front of a computer, but our health suffers. Try to incorporate some (or all!) of our tips into your workday and we know you’ll experience great physical and mental health benefits.

Is it time to get a little more active in your career advancement or job search too? Our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also have experienced writers who provide professional Resume Writing Services and LinkedIn Profile Writing Services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.

How to decide if a career change is the best move

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to decide if a career change is the best move Gone are the days of lifetime jobs and gold watches on retirement. Research shows that today’s teens may have up to seven careers in their lifetime, and the impacts of digital transformation mean some jobs today will be obsolete tomorrow. If you’re considering a career change, but you’re not sure where to start, our step-by-step guide will help you on your way.

Step 1: Know your purpose

Ask yourself why you want to change careers. Is it really your career you need to change or is it your current role? Think about all the things that satisfy and motivate you, make a list of your core strengths and weaknesses, and determine your likes and dislikes in your current environment. We often work with clients who are great at what they do and in a job that should be a good fit for them, but the organisation is not right.

This step is important because it will help you ensure you address the right issue before embarking on a complete career change. Perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment could make you happier than a complete change? If there are certain aspects of your current role you dislike, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with different responsibilities.

Step 2: Leverage your strengths

Once you’ve decided you want to change careers, go back to your list of ‘likes’ and ‘strengths’, combine that with your current skills, experience and education and think about how you could transfer these assets to a different career. Look outside your current role, industry, and/or company to determine what work might suit you better.

Research different careers using online resources – take a look at our Useful Career Resources and Tools for ideas – and identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed.

Step 3: Get support

The next step is to involve some trusted people – career experts, family, friends and work colleagues – to help you identify and clarify your new direction. You could consider taking a career assessment to better understand your interests and personality, which can help you identify and/or narrow down new career choices.

A career coach can also help you identify the careers that best suit you. Many people who use our Career Coaching Services have no idea where they want to take their career, but through personalised career coaching they discover new possibilities and pathways. You could also talk to people involved in your area of interest – they may be able to introduce you to potential employers, provide valuable support in making the change or at least offer a view on their own experiences.

Step 4: Do your research

You may have a lot to consider before deciding if and when to make a change. Financial, family and study considerations are key. And remember that many careers look great to an outsider, but the reality of the day-to-day job isn’t so interesting. Find ways to experience the job you’re considering before you have to commit, such as taking up a relevant hobby or investigating opportunities for volunteer work.

Step 5: Look to the future

When you’ve decided on a career change, it’s important not to dwell on the years spent in in your current career. These weren’t ‘wasted’. Many people who have spent time working towards a certain career or role are reluctant to throw it all in, but if that career is no longer right for you, focus instead on the years you have ahead of you and the career happiness that may be possible.

Changing careers can be very rewarding, but requires courage and conviction. It may also involve lots of hard work – especially if you need to do additional training or study. Taking an honest look at why you want to change careers and what you hope to achieve is a great first step to ensuring a successful transition.

Would you like help deciding whether or not to change careers? See our Career Counselling Services to find out how our career experts can support your success.

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