Podcasts can provide great inspiration across a range of areas. These convenient, bite-sized chunks of content are also a good way to up-skill or improve your knowledge about various topics, since they’re usually delivered by people with a passion for, and deep understanding of, what they’re talking about.
Whether you’re looking for your first career, searching for major change, struggling with your current role, interested in starting a business or just need inspiration and motivation, there is something for everyone! Here’s a few of our favourites.
Career Tools: A weekly podcast focused on specific actions you can take to grow and enhance your career – no matter what industry or position you’re in. With topics ranging from communication to meeting performance, productivity, workload, asking for feedback, relationships, changing jobs and everything in between, there is sure to be something of interest.
How did you get into that?: Host Grant Baldwin interviews people from all walks of life who are doing interesting or amazing things to make a living. Each episode includes a story about someone who wanted something more from life and made it happen. You’ll find interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, speakers, writers, filmmakers, photographers, athletes, venture capitalists, Etsy sellers, comedians, nutritionists and more, across all different industries.
Beyond the To Do list: Struggling to juggle life and work? This award-nominated podcast features actionable tips from highly successful people that can help you choose the right projects, tasks and goals in work and life. Host Erik Fisher talks with real people who implement productivity strategies in their professional and personal lives.
Miss Independent: Focused on a female audience, Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017 and launched a podcast that features conversations with women in leadership and business. Natalie talks with a broad range of interesting, diverse and inspiring women in leadership and business. She discusses their successes and setbacks, as well as secrets and tips to inspire you to make your own career decision with confidence.
Flying Solo: This is a podcast for anyone starting or growing a small business. Host Robert Gerrish talks with inspiring soloists and expert guests on all things solo, micro and small business.
The Signal: Sometimes the news can feel overwhelming. This ABC Radio podcast helps to sort the news from the noise. It’s a quick (10-15 minute) dive into current news stories that matter, delivered every morning.
Business Women Australia Podcast: Another one focused on a female audience, this podcast is for ambitious women who are serious about business success and leadership development. It provides tips and ideas for those interested in building their knowledge and skills.
Happen to your career: Created for people who aren’t happy in their job, or need some guidance to find work they really love, this podcast helps people to match their strengths to work they will find interesting and meaningful.
Productivityist: Hosted by productivity expert Mike Vardy, this weekly podcast gives listeners tips, tricks, tactics and tools to improve productivity and time management in order to get things done.
The Good Work Revolution: This podcast looks at how you can feel fulfilled and make a positive impact through your work. Each episode includes reflections from different guests, or the host, Kate McCready, on how we can create ‘good work’. It explores people’s relationships with their work – how it influences fulfilment, wellbeing, engagement and a sense of contribution and connection. It’s also about lifting people up and helping them elevate their personal ability to have an impact – whether small and local or big and world changing.
The Tim Ferris Show: Author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris – best known for The 4-Hour Workweek (which has been translated into 40+ languages), hosts this podcast. In it, he interviews highly successful people and discovers the keys to their success. Guests provide some great tips and tricks that anyone can use to accelerate their work style.
The Jack Delosa Podcast: Founder of Australia’s largest and most disruptive education institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage, Jack Delosa also co-founded MBE Education, which helped SMEs raise money from investors. He’s been on the BRW Young Rich List since 2014 and is a two-time bestselling author. In The Jack Delosa Podcast, Jack answers questions about business, start-ups, entrepreneurship and the importance of mindset, and shares exclusive interviews with industry leaders and innovators.
Inspire Nation: A top self-help and spirituality show across 185 countries, this podcast features an inspiring new guest every day. Host Michael Sandler felt a calling to start his life-changing show after surviving two near-death accidents. The broad-ranging topics include how to find more energy, strength, happiness, peace, purpose, confidence, and heart to live your greatest life.
Behind the Media: The Australian’s media diarist Stephen Brook hosts this weekly podcast where he interviews journalists, writers, editors, presenters and other media careerists. This podcast is sometimes casual, sometimes serious but presents a diverse range of guests discussing the state of the media industry and their own careers.
Thought Capital: This is a relatively new podcast created by Monash Business School. Host Michael Pascoe delves into topics you probably won’t read about in the business pages. What’s the link between Big Data and election rigging? How can you identify the true ‘key players’ in an economic meltdown? Is there a ‘tax paradise’ and can you live there?
The Leadership Dojo: Hosted by Alex Barker, this podcast features interviews with some of the greatest and most inspirational leaders, from business CEOs to famous Olympic athletes to best-selling authors. Alex aims to help listeners learn success principles from leaders and how to apply them to daily life.
48 days to the work you love: This is a 48-minute weekly podcast hosted by US-based career expert and author Dan Miller, which helps listeners discover their true calling, find work they love, and explore business ideas and opportunities. Dan helps people overcome procrastination with a mission to foster the process of imagining, dreaming and introspection, so they can find purposeful and profitable daily work.
Podcasts are a great distraction during long commutes and there are plenty to choose from across every area of interest. Simply search on a topic and select from a list of top-ranked podcasts. For Australian-specific podcasts, check out the Australian Podcast Awards, an event that brings together podcasters to celebrate the medium’s ability to entertain, inspire and engage audiences worldwide. The site includes a list of annual winners and nominees across different categories to give you some listening inspiration.
Are you happy at work? Career counselling can be an invaluable tool for helping you explore your options and decide on a new career path or course. To find out how we can help, read about our career coaching services.
It’s always a good idea to weigh your options before making a decision – especially an important one – but overdoing it can be a problem. If you tend to over-analyse situations, take comfort in the fact that there is no such thing as a ‘right’ decision, just an assortment of possibilities. So how do you decide?
The consequences of making the wrong decision can be long lasting, so the pressure of making the ‘right’ choice can make it seem impossible to make any decision at all. The thing to remember about decisions is that they are usually very personal. Often there’s no one ‘right’ course of action, just an array of possible ones, each with their own consequences. As a chronic over-analyser, I have found it difficult to make certain decisions in the past. I have worked hard on being more proactive in my decision-making and have developed a list of tips that might help others in the same boat.
- Do your research – but don’t overdo it: While asking questions and gathering information is an important step, over-analysing could simply be procrastination. More information might be helpful but it won’t automatically reveal the right choice. By all means, gather all the facts, but then resolve to choose. At some point, you need to make a decision and just go for it (or not) then move on with your life.
- Trust your gut: First impressions count and can often be the best driver of a good decision. Try to visualise the outcome of your decision and see how it makes you feel. Marie Forleo, American entrepreneur, life coach and author, calls this the ‘physical test’ – she recommends tapping into the physical any time you’re torn. Ask yourself whether you want to do something, then pay attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in your body. If you feel a sense of dread or heaviness, it’s probably a no; if you feel lighter or brighter, it could be a yes. Even decisions that seem scary can still feel exciting or enticing.
- Ask your trusted network: Choosing a close circle of friends, family and/or colleagues to give you advice can help. But try not to involve everyone you know; sometimes the need for outside validation can override sensibility and get in the way of making the best choice. Focus on a small group of trusted people – this will help ensure you receive a balanced and hopefully unbiased response without it becoming overwhelming.
- Picture the best- and worst-case scenarios: Drill down into the detail and work out what will happen after you make the decision. What’s the very best outcome? What’s the worst that could happen? Can you deal with the eventual outcome(s)? If it’s a bad outcome, how hard will it be to resolve, stop, alter and/or move on? Will others be affected? Quite often, even the very worst outcome will be something you can recover from quickly. Whether or not you’re prepared to face the outcome can be a good way to help you make your decision.
- Try it out: Sometimes the best way to make a decision is to test it – particularly if it’s a big life decision like moving house or changing careers. For example, if you’re considering a career change, can you volunteer somewhere first, take a course or complete an internship? If you’re considering moving somewhere completely different, can you rent a place for a month and try living like a local?
Sometimes the pressure to make the right decision can paralyse us into making no decision at all. This is particularly true for over-thinkers who tend to place barriers on decisions and can be prone to procrastination. While it’s perfectly acceptable (and even preferable) to take the time to ensure you make the best possible decision, at some point, you need to bite the bullet. You might botch it up or have to deal with some negative consequences, but you might also make the best decision of your life.
Are you trying to make a decision about your career? Some career advice could help. Our advisors are experts in their field and provide comprehensive career counselling services. We’d love to help you.
Many of our clients are at their wits end when they approach us for assistance. They’re qualified, experienced, dedicated, and committed to their field. They’re applying for roles they think suit their areas of expertise but they just aren’t achieving the traction they feel they deserve. Sound familiar? Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, and energy.
To ensure success, you need a plan. Of course you need a polished application and a strong LinkedIn profile, but you also need to be prepared. In recent years, the employment market has changed significantly and it continues to change rapidly with constantly evolving approaches. We have talked before about the importance of developing a structured job search strategy, but here are our tips on what you can do today to help you succeed:
TIP # 1 – Be open to change: How many applications have you sent off and how many interviews have you secured? If you’ve been applying for jobs unsuccessfully for some time now, it might be time to shake things up. You could ask someone in your industry to review your approach and provide feedback, or consider seeking the advice of an expert. At the very least, talk to someone you trust and review your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and general approach together. Be open to feedback – positive and negative – and be prepared to make some changes to your approach if recommended.
TIP # 2 – Establish a plan: Today’s job market is not only competitive, it’s also complicated. There are many avenues to tap into – including advertised and unadvertised job markets. You need to be very organised with a structured approach to identify and apply for all the positions you may be suitable for. A detailed plan will help you do this. See our previous article How to be a great job seeker for more detailed tips on developing a structured job search strategy.
TIP # 3 – Build your online presence: There are several ways to do this including with your LinkedIn profile, by writing a blog, developing your own website, creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work. For professional roles, recruiters will most likely review your LinkedIn and social media profiles. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with relevant information and keywords, as well as a current, professional photo. Provide as much detail as you can, including additional sections such as qualifications, certifications, courses, memberships, interests etc. Many people don’t include a summary, and this is a mistake. Use the summary to introduce yourself – give an overview of your key skills, experience and strengths to provide readers with a sense of the value you could bring to an organisation. Don’t be afraid to inject some personality – LinkedIn doesn’t need to be as formal as your resume. Use LinkedIn to research recruitment consultants and HR managers from companies you’d like to target. Join relevant groups, follow companies you’d like to work for, and connect with others in your industry. Likewise, with personal social media profiles, update your privacy settings, and leverage your profiles to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.
TIP # 4 – Develop relationships: A large percentage of available jobs are never advertised, but accessed via what we call ‘the hidden job market’. Network with others in your industry, join relevant LinkedIn Groups and make active contributions to help build your profile, and connect with appropriate recruiters. Develop a standard pitch as to why you want to connect and what you can offer, then set up meetings to discuss potential opportunities. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their website careers page and follow them on social media. Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face to face and online networking groups. Seek out relevant professional associations and networking groups, attend seminars, and connect with others in your industry.
TIP # 5 – Be specific: Recruiters are time-poor so make it easy for them to see the value you can add. We strongly recommend writing a customised cover letter to address as many specific ‘job requirements’ as you can. Make an effort to understand the company and/or the industry and comment on how you might be able to solve a specific challenge or contribute to the company’s success. We also often recommend tailoring your resume to suit specific roles. This may seem time consuming however it may be as simple as reordering your key capabilities, highlighting a particular achievement, or de-emphasising points that may not be relevant. Review the job ad, or detailed job description, and ensure that if you have the experience or skills they are asking for, they are well highlighted and easily understood.
Today’s job market is competitive and complex with many aspects involved. If you’re finding it tough to secure your next opportunity, you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t achieve success. Take some time to think about all the aspects that are important to you and your area of expertise.
Are you interested in tailoring your application for improved success? Would you like some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning resume for your next job application? Are you interested in preparing a customised job search strategy? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.
For the majority of people wanting to start a business, the reality of working a 9 to 5 job while side-hustling is real. If you’re in this position, don’t despair – in fact many experts believe that starting a new business while you’re still employed elsewhere gives you more chance of success. But how do you get that business to the point where it’s your career?
Many people reading this article are probably working as an employee by day while trying to get their business off the ground at night. The fact is that many new businesses start off as side-hustles for their owners. Unless you’ve made a lot of money previously and managed to stash it away, there really isn’t any other choice. Here’s five traits we think you’ll want to leverage in order to achieve success:
Trait # 1 – Organisation: To turn a side-hustle into a full-time business while you’re still working will require strong organisation skills. In Lorraine Murphy’s book ‘Get Remarkably Organised’ she talks about the cornerstone of success at work and home as being organised – but this doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. Being organised can be as simple as developing some new habits that help prevent or address future problems. Lorraine talks a lot about being kind to your ‘future self’ and this really comes down to being organised enough that you’re thinking about ‘future you’ to predict and address these potential problems before they’ve even occurred. Some simple habits of organised people include: writing things down, diarising and scheduling tasks, making deadlines and sticking to them, not procrastinating, giving items a home and making sure you put them away, cleaning up regularly, living in an uncluttered way (that includes decluttering regularly and getting rid of the unnecessary), not accumulating more ‘stuff’, delegating some tasks, and making time for yourself (and sticking to it).
Trait # 2 – Time Management: There is a popular adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Now is definitely the time to work smarter not harder! Knowing how you spend your time is key to success since there are only 24 hours in the day. When you’re working a full-time job, eight of these are probably already taken. Add in commute time, eating, sleeping and all the other necessary tasks related to living and there aren’t many hours left to work on your business. We have talked before about managing time – with our previous article 10 Time Management Tips to Improve Your Productivity providing some more detail. Our general tips include planning your day, focusing on one thing at a time, establishing routines, setting deadlines, switching off technology, and saying no! If all else fails track how long you spend on certain tasks for a few days then eliminate, delegate, and consolidate where you can.
Trait # 3 – Process Focused: Having a structured plan and goal(s) is key to success. You need to know what your business looks like before you can do this – so take some time to define how your business needs to look in order for you to make it your full-time work. Then think about everything you need to do to get there. There are some great resources online to help with this. Many business planning articles online include lengthy business planning templates which isn’t necessarily the best option. Having a business plan that is clear, simple, and useful in helping you move forward is what you need. I love the website ‘Flying Solo’ for small business tips. There’s a whole section on business planning with a couple of articles that really caught my attention being ’Do I really need a business plan’ and the ’9 step business plan’ (see step 6 for a particularly relevant look at structure).
Trait # 4 – Decisiveness: ‘Just do it’ is a great concept and one that I love when it comes to business. A common trait amongst many successful business owners and entrepreneurs is that they take action with a sense of urgency and importance. When you are in the early business start-up phase, there isn’t really any room for procrastination. Whilst you don’t want to be impulsive or reckless, you do need to know how to prioritise, make decisions quickly, and take action immediately.
Trait # 5 – Ability to Change: An open-minded approach to constantly change, adapt and learn is essential in business. Never assume that you know everything and approach situations with a willingness to learn from the experience. The world is changing rapidly and to succeed in business today, you need to know so much more than you did 10 or even five years ago. The pace of technological change alone means the way we do things today is often replaced with something new and better tomorrow. In addition, new businesses are relatively easy to start up so competitors can pop up overnight. Understand and learn about new ideas around potential businesses, people skills, efficiency, and workflows – and most importantly be flexible to change and adapt whenever it makes sense.
The road to achieving a successful business can be difficult to begin with but like most other big things in life, it can be enormously rewarding. If you work hard and take some well thought out risks, you may be pleasantly surprised to see where your ‘side hustle’ takes you.
Are you thinking about starting your own business? Would you like advice from one of our career consultants? If so, please read more about our career consulting services.
If you’re unhappy in your job, like truly, truly unhappy bordering on depressed, then sometimes the best (or only) option is to quit, but often that’s just not an option. ’Work-life balance’ is an often used term with a large proportion of our clients citing it as the reason they are searching for a new role. But what exactly is it and can it be realistically achieved?
Many people admit to working more and more hours each week, which can take a toll on health, wellbeing, and overall happiness. Added to this, technology allows us to be connected 24/7, which makes it even more difficult to find that elusive work-life balance. The perfect work-life balance is different for everyone, however, for many people, a better balanced life can be achieved by making some fairly simple changes. Try these general tips to get you started:
TIP # 1 – Decide what’s important. Working less doesn’t mean better work-life balance for everyone. If you are happy with the amount of time you dedicate to each part of your life, you’ve probably achieved your best version of work-life balance. Decide on your priorities and communicate those to superiors, colleagues and family members. Think about what you’d like to do more (or less) of. Work out what you need to focus on and try to eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to that.
TIP # 2 – Establish working hours. Set boundaries for yourself and others. If you work from home, try to walk away from your office space at a set time every day. If you work outside of the home – try not to take work home unnecessarily. Of course, unplanned events will inevitably occur but trying to finish at the same time each day is a great idea. Likewise, make sure friends and family know not to interrupt you at work unless it’s an emergency. For most people, it would take a huge personal emergency to reschedule something important for work. Give your personal time the same respect and try not to ‘reschedule’ it for a work emergency unless it’s absolutely necessary.
TIP # 3 – Switch off technology. Don’t stay connected to work 24/7. If you’re spending time with your family or partner this is especially important. We need time to focus on personal relationships. Turning off technology for even just short periods of time allows us to give people our undivided attention which goes a long way towards improving work-life balance.
TIP # 4 – Track your time. Not all the time, but try it for a few days (try the Pomodoro technique). Tracking how much time you spend doing certain tasks will help you work out where you can save time. Rethink your approach if you believe that hours worked equates to productivity – just because you work 60-hour weeks doesn’t mean you are productive. Eliminate or delegate some tasks and you will be amazed at how much extra time you gain.
TIP # 5 – Try to schedule ‘time off’. This includes holidays and weekends. At a minimum you should try to schedule two weeks off annually and try not to work consistently on weekends. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been ‘staycations’. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. Or try a couple of ‘long weekends’ away throughout the year. We often get so caught up in day-to-day work that we miss all the fun stuff right under our noses. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged and will contribute to you achieving your best levels of productivity.
TIP # 6 – Schedule something enjoyable every day. For me that’s exercise most days. If that’s not for you, schedule something else you enjoy doing. It could be a quick walk with the dog or coffee catch up with a friend or colleague, some gardening, cooking, pottering in your workshop, meditation, or reading a book. It could simply be some quiet time to yourself doing nothing – it certainly doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming.
TIP # 7 – Look after yourself. Eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated and making sure you get enough exercise are all factors that will have a positive impact on your ability to achieve work-life balance. Getting good nutrition and exercise will help you feel happier and achieve higher levels of productivity in the long term.
TIP # 8 – Don’t sit still. Aim to get up from your desk at least every two hours. Try to do it before your concentration wanes and your attention flags. Get up, have a stretch, grab a glass of water, take a quick walk around the block for some fresh air – just do something that gives you a break from working and clears your head for the next task.
TIP # 9 – Create processes and systems. Things that you do repetitively – both at work and at home can be simplified through process. Think about all the tasks you do on a daily basis – do you approach them in an ‘automatic’ way? Think about these repetitive tasks and then work out how you can automate or speed them up (or even just outsource them).
TIP # 10 – Say no! Over-committing is a common issue but completely avoidable. You don’t need to be ‘available’ for work all the time and you don’t have to say YES to every social invitation. Use a calendar to manage commitments (work and social) including scheduling time to work on projects. I like to plan my week on a Sunday evening, making sure I have time to fit in the work I’ve committed to and factoring in some time for me and my family as well as dealing with the day-to-day mundane activities that need attending to. Planning your week but allowing for some free time in your calendar will set you up for success – and enable you to effectively deal with any emergencies. Learning to say NO more often can help you feel more in control.
In today’s ‘always on’ culture, it can be difficult to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Since the ideal mix is different for everyone, working out what you need personally and understanding that you have some control is an important first step. But achieving and maintaining it is not a one off process – it’s a lifelong pursuit. Aspire to what you need right now then work to achieve it, but be sure to review it from time to time to make any necessary changes.
Are you struggling to achieve the balance you desire in your life right now? Would you like help working out if your career goals and aspirations are in alignment with your work-life balance goals? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.
If you think you don’t need a professional headshot in your line of work, think again. We regularly view professional social media and other profiles that include blurry or inappropriate photos, or even no photo at all. This situation directly impacts whether or not someone decides to reach out to you.
According to LinkedIn, profiles with photos are far more likely to receive connection requests than those without. I’ve also read countless articles that point to profiles with photos being viewed up to seven times more by potential contacts or recruiters than those without a photo.
If you can’t afford a professional photographer, we’ve put together some tips on how to achieve a professional result with no budget at all:
- Enlist a friend or family member to help who is good at taking photos – preferably someone with a camera but a late model phone will also do. Avoid taking a selfie!
- Put on some professional attire – whatever you’d wear to work is best – and make sure you’re well groomed. We’re taking a head and shoulders shot so don’t worry too much about what you’re wearing below the waist. Make sure you wear a different colour to the background to create a good contrast. For example, if the background is white, avoid wearing a white top or shirt.
- Find a plain background with great natural lighting – use the natural light from a window for indoor shots, however, avoid standing directly in front of a window or anything too busy. Try different rooms to see which area works best.
- Stand just far enough away – making sure your face is level with the camera so it’s not shooting up your nose, or down from above. It should be far enough away so that your head and top of shoulders are included in the shot. You don’t want your face filling the whole frame.
- Smile and go for it – take lots of photos so you can pick the best shot. Try to look natural, open and friendly. Smiling photos are best so as to avoid the ‘mug shot’ look. In my experience, most people hate having their photo taken so my only advice is to stand in front of that camera, look directly at it and smile – then have your friend take lots of photos.
- Pick the best one – save it and use it for all your work-related profiles and bios.
Of course, you could also enlist a professional photographer if your budget allows for it. A good quality headshot can be used for so many situations in your professional life – your email account, email signature, LinkedIn profile photo, Twitter and Facebook photo, company bio/website, personal website or portfolio, for guest blogging or article writing. So just go for it and once you have one be sure to update it every couple of years.
Are you interested in obtaining some career advice. If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Counselling. We also have experienced writers who provide professional Resume and LinkedIn Profile writing services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.
We often tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals and any good sales person knows how important tailoring is for success. If you’ve been applying for jobs unsuccessfully, taking a more tailored approach to preparing your application might be a good place to start.
While we always recommend that our clients write a customised cover letter for each role, working to tailor your entire application is often something relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket. The process of tailoring your resume and/or LinkedIn profile can sound time consuming, but we challenge you to 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. If it doesn’t do that, you’re not giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.
Before we start with the tailoring process, we are assuming you have a great resume in place already – a document that highlights who you are, identifies your key skills, and shows the value you have added in previous roles. If you haven’t already done that, then focus on that step first – see our previous article How to Write a Resume – Top 10 Tips to get started. Then, follow these simple steps to tailor your application for success:
- Do your research: The first step is research. Read the job ad and identify exactly what’s required. Highlight specific skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If the company is advertising directly, view their website, search the company name and find out if there is any news or company activity that may impact the job. Writing just one sentence in your cover letter referencing a current situation, challenge or opportunity the company is facing could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.
- Customise your career profile: We recommend including a good strong career profile as the first section in your resume. Your career profile should highlight what you bring to the role. It should clearly demonstrate your skills and past experience and highlight how they add value to an organisation. Most people see this section as fairly standard, however by customising the content to address specific individual job requirements, you’ll put yourself a step ahead. Make it personal, enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, and engaging – and clearly demonstrate to the recruiter how you’ll excel. This can also apply to your LinkedIn profile summary – we would take a similar approach to tailoring the content to ensure you’ve covered off the key skills and attributes required for the role. We don’t recommend doing this for every role, however if there is a role you’re applying for that mentions new or different skills (that you possess but aren’t covered effectively), you should work to incorporate them.
- Change your key capability list: Once you know the recruiter’s main priorities in terms of what they’re looking for in a candidate, you can customise your key capabilities to meet those needs. In its simplest form, this means re-ordering your ‘key capabilities and skills’. Get more involved by rewording those points and/or customising them to suit the role. Again, this also applies to LinkedIn so make sure you’ve covered off all the main areas within the ‘skills and endorsements’ section.
- 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 offer the recruiter what they’re looking for, 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 of the role as you can. Use past successes and achievements to show how you’ve ‘added value’ in the past.
- Write a customised cover letter: We can’t stress enough how important this step is. Writing a customised cover letter is the simplest way for your application to stand out. If a recruiter receives 100 or so applications, how do you think they’re going to choose which ones to actually read in detail? Research has proven that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. Preparing a cover letter that highlights your key skills, experiences and past achievements that are highly relevant to the role you are applying for increases your chances significantly of getting noticed.
- Change your job history order: This is not something we recommend doing unless absolutely necessary because it can confuse the reader. However, where we would recommend doing this is if you have highly relevant experience in your past work history, where your recent roles and experience are not at all relevant. In this case, we recommend applicants make a new section which is included upfront and entitled “Relevant Employment History” then list the relevant job history. You would then move your recent and other roles to a section called “Other Employment History”. This ensures the recruiter sees your ‘relevant’ experience first but the title of the section will give insight into why that experience is not recent.
Preparing a tailored application for every role you apply for is something you should strongly think about making time for. While it might sound time consuming, the reward far outweighs the effort. You’ll end up with an application that screams ‘look at me’ to the recruiter and that is exactly the position you want to be in!
Are you interested in tailoring your application for improved success? Would you like some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.
Asking your own great questions during a job interview will not only give you a feel for whether you actually want to work there, but the recruiter will also think more positively of you. Formulating some questions before the interview to ensure you’re well prepared is the best approach.
Whether you’re looking for your first job, or your tenth, asking insightful questions in an interview is a must. It shows confidence, preparedness and professionalism, and is something the recruiter will be keen to explore with you.
Having a pre-prepared list is a great idea, however usually the best questions will be driven by your conversation in the interview, so don’t be afraid to jot down notes as you go. These notes will help you formulate relevant and insightful questions that relate specifically to the interview and the role. Use your pre-prepared questions as the basis – while ensuring relevance to the conversation you’ve had. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Show interest: Do your homework and find out about the company. Devise questions that relate to recent news or events. Start your question by saying “I read about XYZ and wanted to find out more about how that impacts this role”.
- Training & development: Ask about the company’s policy on professional training and education, formal mentoring or coaching, and attendance at workshops and seminars. Great companies want to hire people dedicated to personal and professional growth so show it’s important to you. “What opportunities will I have to learn and grow?”
- Strategic plans: Ask about the company’s strategic plan, or better yet, have some idea from your research, and ask how it fits with this role/department. “What are the company’s goals for the next five years?” “How does this role contribute to that?” “What are the biggest opportunities/threats facing the company right now?”
- Structure: Ask why the person is leaving the role OR for a newly created role, where the work has come from. It is helpful to know if you will be stepping into someone else’s shoes or paving your own way in a new role. It also helps you understand any career path opportunities and/or blocks. “Why is the position vacant?” If the previous employee left, ask why they left. “Did they leave for another organisation, were they made redundant or promoted?”
- Culture: Ask about the turnover rate on the team or the organisation to find out if it’s unusually high (a worry)? “What is the current staff turnover rate (in the team or in the company)?” Or ask straight out “What is the company culture like? What is your favourite thing about working for the company?”
- Performance: Ask about the performance review processes, and whether there are any KPIs/targets upon which the role is evaluated. “How is success measured in this role?” Find out what the role expectations are for the first 6 or 12 months. “What would you want to see me accomplish in the first six months?” “What are some of the challenges that the predecessor faced in this role?”
- Your suitability for the role: Ask the interviewer if there is anything else they’d like to know about you – or whether they have any hesitations about you being able to do the job. Don’t be frightened of this one – it’s great feedback for you personally and if there are uncertainties you might be able to dispel them. “Is there anything that makes you doubt I would be a great fit for this position?”
- Next steps: Ask what will happen next, how long the decision is likely to take and whether you might be required for another interview. “What are the next steps in your recruitment process?” “What’s the timeline for making a decision?”
Focus your questions on the role, company, its strategic focus, general direction and/or competitive environment – and how that impacts the role you are applying for.
Remember, you should try to ask at least a few questions to show that you’ve come prepared and are interested in the role and company. If possible, listen carefully to the interviewer’s answers and devise further questions that expand on that conversation.
Would you like some assistance preparing for a job interview, to ensure the questions you ask are insightful, positive and professional? If so, please see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
While your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, the reality is that recruiters will explore your background more proactively through social media. That doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself and altering your online profile, but it does mean taking some steps to ensure it’s clean.
In a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond active applicants to fill a role. By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. That means it’s essential to ensure your online presence matches what you wish to convey.
This doesn’t mean being ambiguous or vague about who you are, it doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself, and it certainly doesn’t mean deleting all records of yourself online. Conversely, while it is important to maintain a clean online profile, a positive online footprint can be an important aspect in securing your dream role. We talk a lot about consistency of message and maintaining that across all your job search tools. This includes professional online tools like your website, blogs and LinkedIn profile – but it also applies to your person social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.
Below are some quick tips that apply across all social media. While some are more relevant to certain sites than others – all can be leveraged in one way or another to help clean up your profile.
- Update your photo: This is particularly necessary if it is more than a couple of years old. Always go for a clear head and shoulders shot – taken against a white or plain background and not a cropped image from a social situation.
- Update your summary, bio or ‘about me’ section: Make it interesting and relevant, highlighting the personal or business traits you want to emphasise – and ensure it’s up to date with your latest and greatest accomplishments and interests. For LinkedIn, your professional headline automatically defaults to your most recent (or current) job title. Change this to brand yourself while adding relevant keywords to your profile. Decide what you want to be known for and make this your professional headline. For more tips on creating a great bio, read our article ‘How to write a winning bio’.
- Check your settings: Take some time to understand the different security and privacy settings across different sites. For example, on certain settings LinkedIn notifies connections when you’ve updated your profile. If you don’t want your employer to know you’re working on your profile – check these settings. Likewise, with Facebook and other personal social media, check your settings to maintain some level of discretion – but don’t depend on it as your security blanket because it’s not foolproof.
- Claim your vanity URL: A vanity URL is a custom URL address that is specifically branded for marketing purposes. Many social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus offer this facility. It helps users remember how to find specific pages – which means it should be easy to remember, use, and share. Often your name will be gone to someone who claimed it earlier, so we always suggest trying the best combination of your actual name rather than non-descript letters and numbers (which is what the system usually generates). Each site will have its own specific instructions on how to change this so simply search the site’s help section for instructions.
- Check your posts: Looking at what you’re posting and commenting on with an objective eye is really important. Think about the impression you might be giving to a potential recruiter – and be mindful of unnecessarily alienating people due to controversial beliefs or posts. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust – preferably someone with different beliefs to you. Again it’s not about concealing who you are, but rather about being mindful of your public image.
- Clean up your friends lists and likes: For Facebook, this means unfollowing people or businesses that no longer interest you. Consider grouping individuals into the readymade ‘Acquaintances List’ which means they will show up less in your feeds. Review all your groups and leave if they are no longer relevant. In addition, consider ‘unliking’ pages that contain posts and/or conversations which could be seen as inappropriate. For other social media sites, a similar approach is needed – review groups, likes, follows etc. and clean them up as appropriate.
Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. On a positive note, recruiters use social media to search for aspects about an individual that may demonstrate good cultural fit. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.
Is your social media presenting the best version of you online? Would you like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile or bio that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors? If so please see our LinkedIn profile writing service or check out our job search coaching service.
Today’s digital world demands on online brand that defines and differentiates you. Conveying your distinct brand through a well written personal bio is essential in today’s competitive market. But writing your own professional bio with the right ‘message’ while still sounding authentic can be hard.
Whether you work for yourself as a freelancer, you’re employed by a large multi-national, or you sit somewhere in between – having a winning bio that’s relevant and professional is essential. It’s important for inclusion on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter but it’s also what people will often see when they search for your name – so anyone with an online presence will benefit from one.
What is a bio?
A bio is basically your professional story or brand. The information provided is similar to what’s in your resume, but it’s more condensed, possibly less formal, sometimes with some personality thrown in, and often written in the third person. The purpose of a bio is to inform the reader who you are, what you do, and why you’d be of value to them. It needs to establish credibility and trust – and work hard to develop your own personal brand – which is an important concept to understand. For more information on developing your own personal brand, see the following articles: 5 tips to build your personal brand and How to build your personal brand, or search ‘personal brand’ on our blog.
When would you need a bio?
You might be wondering where you’d use a personal bio. There are many situations when you need one including:
- As a summary on your LinkedIn profile (written in the first person)
- As an introduction posted on your personal or company website or blog
- As an inclusion in client proposals and quotations for credibility
- Submitted to organisers for potential speaking spots or included in a conference agenda where you’re presenting
- As an inclusion in a published article or document
What should be included in a bio?
This largely depends on where you’re going to use it. For example, LinkedIn has a character limit of 2000 which is pretty generous. If you’re writing a bio as a speaker for potential inclusion in a conference program, you might not be given as much space. I’d usually recommend having both a 1 page and ½ page bio and then adjust the content to suit different purposes. The information you’d start with (not all of which needs to be included in every situation) could include:
- Your name and current position
- Your recent and/or relevant experience
- Your academic qualifications
- Your credentials or other important information such as professional memberships
- Any published work or previous presentations you’ve done
- Any awards or other career honours you’ve received
- Any interesting career achievements or anecdotes
- A photo
- Customer quotes/testimonials
- Links to examples of your work
- Your contact information
How do you write a bio?
As mentioned, there are many different format requirements, and usually you’ll be given a word or character limit. Typically, you would write it in the third person (or in the first person for your LinkedIn profile), in a conversational tone. Injecting an interesting, personal or unique piece of information will make people want to learn more about you. The bio shouldn’t be too long or wordy, and using short sentences and punchy paragraphs will make it easier to read. You could include links to more detail where relevant but be careful not to cram it with too much detail, and be sure to update it often. Don’t forget to save your different versions written for different purposes. Some may be longer and more formal, while others may be shorter and more conversational.
Do you need a bio for your work? Our professional writers can prepare a winning bio that will help you stand out from the crowd. Contact us for more information.
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