Time saving tips for busy people

Article by Belinda Fuller

Time saving tips for busy peopleIf you’ve recently returned to work after time off caring for young ones, you’ll know what a juggle the whole children, work, home thing can be. Throw in some study and it’s an even bigger battle. Perhaps your children are older, you’re caring for elderly parents, or you might be a single parent with too much on your plate. There are lots of great time saving tips to help you cope.

Too much to do, with too little time is an all too common complaint. For most people, life is busy enough without making it even harder by cramming too much into the day. A big part of feeling more organised and saving time day to day is to simply de-clutter your life. That means taking stock of what you’re trying to achieve and working out whether it is actually necessary. Here’s some of our tips to save time while you’re working it out:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff: With more than 25 million copies in print, the philosophy outlined by Richard Carlson in his bestselling book ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ has touched many people. His views on putting things in perspective is great advice for parents navigating the day to day hustle with children. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we need to let things go. I try as a parent to ‘pick my battles’. With children, there is often something to argue about, to say no to, to discipline about, or nag on, so pick your battles carefully, and just choose to let some things go – otherwise you may end up spending your whole life in a negative cycle.
  • Limit choices: This is especially important for young children where problems can arise if they’re given too many choices (which you can’t or simply don’t want to fulfil). Children can take ages to think about and decide on what they want if offered too many alternatives. By all means offer them a choice but limit it to just two. The same applies to adults – the fact is we spend a lot of time making decisions which could be avoided. A simple example is my weekday breakfast. I rotate three options every week – some weeks choosing the same every day and others rotating them. The important part here is that I have three tried and tested options that I enjoy, are healthy and keep me satisfied till lunch time. I still have a choice but I don’t spend any time thinking about what I’m going to have. This strategy can be applied across many more aspects of our lives.
  • Plan your day: Preferably this should be done the night before – work out who needs to be where at what time, pack bags, get lunches ready, put clothes and shoes out, get breakfast items out, write ‘to do lists’ – whatever it takes to help you get out the door in the morning. My experience is that children are SLOOOWWWW in the morning. If they have a little routine they can follow with only a few expectations, everyone will be calmer and things will run more efficiently. At first, it can seem overwhelming to be doing this planning at the end of a busy day when you just want to sit down, relax or go to bed! Dedicate just five minutes to doing whatever you can get done and once you start you will be surprised at how quickly and easily it can all be done. You’ll save way more time in the morning than it took to actually prepare the evening before and it will be worth it!
  • Plan your shopping: Keep an ongoing shopping list – when you run out of things, add it to the list so you don’t have to think about it when it comes time to shop. I recently downloaded an app called ‘Our Groceries’ and it’s a lifesaver. It allows you to share your list with others and whenever something runs out you simply add it to the list straight away. When it comes time to shop, your list is ready to go and you don’t buy unnecessary items. No more calls from my husband on the way home from work asking if we need anything from the supermarket and no more complaints from the teenagers about running out of things.
  • Plan your meals: This is a big time saver with many other benefits including better quality, healthier options, at a lower cost. The effort involved can seem daunting, but even just planning the accompanying parts of yours and/or your children’s lunches on a Sunday is a big time saver – putting aside some fruit, and getting other food like snacks out and wrapping or individually prepping them so they are ready to go straight in the lunch box saves so much time in a busy morning. Likewise evening meal planning is essential, so you’re not tempted to grab takeaway at the end of a busy day. There are lots of great online resources and Apps to help – here’s a few of my favourites: For recipes, try Clean & Green or Taste. For meal planning and recipe organisation, try Plan to Eat or a subscription service like Hello Fresh, which provides all the ingredients and recipes for simple, healthy meals that you cook yourself.
  • Diarise everything: Buy a big family planner or diary and block out daily commitments and activities for everyone. This allows you to see at a glance what your day looks like and how much time you’ve got to work with. It also helps you recognise if you really are trying to cram too much into your week and where you might be able to cut down.
  • Focus: I used to be a big fan of multi-tasking and pride myself on keeping multiple balls in the air! However, it’s been proven time and time again that this concept makes life more difficult. Try focusing on one thing at a time, and you will see significant improvements to your productivity. The only time this may be an exception is where you might be able to combine an activity that requires no active thought (such as travelling on public transport or as a passenger with someone else) with a simple task like reading or listening to a podcast.
  • Track your time: Spend a day or a week recording what you do each day – then eliminate anything that isn’t productive, delegate or outsource where you can, and consolidate similar tasks – often we do things out of habit that may not be 100% necessary.
  • Stick to routines: This is especially important for babies and young children but issues inevitably arise so be flexible. Following set routines most of the time ensures higher productivity. If you have tasks that have to be completed every day, or most days, try to complete them at the same time each day.
  • Put things away: Teach your children to do the same. How much time do you spend looking for things? I have a friend who gathers up items around the house once a week and puts them in a washing basket – at the end of the day whatever hasn’t been claimed (and put away) is thrown away. Brutal, but it works!
  • Say no: Over-committing is one of the biggest time wasters – both socially and in work situations. Know that it’s OK to not say yes to everything and set realistic deadlines so you don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Take advantage of energy: Schedule complex tasks at times when your energy levels are at their best, and save the routine tasks for low-energy times.

Just do it! No matter how busy you are, you can create more time in your day with conscious effort. It might take some hard decisions but making a commitment to implement some (or all) of these tips is a great start.

If you have been struggling to find time to get your career on track, our Career Advisors can help! For more information, please see our Career Coaching and Job Search Coaching Services.

Choosing to be happy at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

Choosing to be happy at work

What makes people happy at work varies significantly from person to person. Since we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, being unhappy doesn’t just affect our work – it usually affects all aspects of our life. Whilst it’s well-known that recognition, reward, and positivity go a long way to ensuring employees are happy, there are many other influencing factors.

Countless studies are conducted to try to discover the secret to happy employees. Most companies recognise the benefits that come from achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. Apparently almost every business metric that can be measured (e.g. productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, absenteeism, safety etc.) can be directly impacted by employee happiness. While many companies are great at ensuring this, there are factors you can control yourself. Here are some tips to help you choose to be happy at work:

  1. Limit stress: Easier said than done in many cases, but stress is not conducive to happiness. Many jobs have stressful elements, which is fine in the short-term but can be damaging to both physical and emotional health if it becomes long-term. To limit stress, you need to be open – talk to your supervisor about what’s causing it; take time out by switching off from work and recharging; learn some relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness; and develop healthy responses to combat the stress such as exercise, hobbies, reading, time with family, and getting enough sleep.
  2. Exercise: Including any kind of physical activity in your day can improve your mood and productivity. While regular bouts of longer physical activity are essential for health, studies have shown that including even just a small amount of physical activity in your day can help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, often just a short stroll outside in the fresh air can help lift your focus, productivity and mood.
  3. Do more of what you love: You want to be happy in your work so avoiding what you don’t like doing will help to a point, BUT you need to be doing more of what you love! Identify aspects of your job you love, and skills and interests that inspire you. Think about how you can be even better at what you do. Approach your manager with suggestions on how you might be able to incorporate more of these aspects into your day to day work.
  4. Be organised: Arrive a little early so the start of your day is relaxed. Plan your day and only make commitments you can meet. A common cause of unhappiness at work is missed deadlines, causing unnecessary stress. By planning your workload, checking your diary, and making daily ‘to do’ lists, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines. And try to factor in some time for breaks – they’ll re-energise and invigorate you and help you feel more positive. For some great time saving tips, see our article on Time saving tips for busy people.
  5. Ask for feedback: Happy employees know what their contribution means. If you don’t receive feedback, ask for it. You can’t change what you don’t know and chances are you know how you’re performing – you just need some acknowledgement – it’s proven as a strong driver of happiness.
  6. Continue to learn: Take responsibility for continuing personal and professional development. If your company supports you by paying for courses and allowing study time, take advantage of it. If they don’t – do it anyway – you are the one with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally so make investing in training a priority.
  7. Know what’s going on: Seek the information you need to do your job well. Some companies are great at communicating company information, while others aren’t so good. If your company is one of the latter then develop your own networks and use them to find out what you need to know.
  8. Make plans: If all else fails, it may be time to start planning a career move. There’s nothing like planning your exit to make you smile. But don’t compromise your future by slacking off. If you come across as happy and committed, you’ll be more likely to receive a positive reference when the time comes.

Remember, you are responsible for your own destiny. Our number one tip is to avoid any negativity. Choose to be happy rather than down and instead of dwelling on the things you can’t change, focus on what you can change. Find colleagues you like spending time with and don’t get involved in negative conversations. Greet everyone with a smile and you’ll be surprised at how many will be returned.

Are you feeling unhappy at work? Would you like career advice and assistance with planning your next move? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to be a successful job seeker

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to be a successful job seekerIf you are seeking a new role in today’s competitive market, you probably know you need to leverage every available resource. That means tapping into your network, polishing your application materials, practising your interview skills, and doing your homework on organisations. But what else can you do to better support your job search efforts in this rapidly changing recruitment market?

Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, energy, and a great network. To ensure success, you need a plan. Developing a structured job search strategy that takes advantage of the latest job search tools and helps you tap into hidden job markets is a great tactic. Technology advancements and rapidly changing approaches to recruitment means it’s more important than ever to ensure you set yourself up for success. So what can you do today to ensure that success?

  1. Sign up to alerts: Identify relevant job search sites, recruitment agencies, professional associations, university career websites, industry journals, and the LinkedIn job directory. Sign up for automated alerts if the option is available and create a dedicated favourites folder for fast, easy reference.
  2. Identify and meet recruiters: Search your target role on popular job sites and identify common recruiters. Add the sites to your favourites folder and make a note of individual consultants. Try to gain introductions, either via LinkedIn or in person.
  3. Be open-minded about job titles: Try creative search combinations when searching online job sites. New job titles are being created every day and if you discard preconceived ideas about these, new opportunities can open up that you may never have thought of.
  4. Polish your application: How many applications have you sent off and how many interviews have you secured? If it’s not many, you might need to revamp your Resume and/or application process. Think about seeking feedback from someone in your industry, or consider getting a professional involved. Always include a customised cover letter for each application and address as many ‘job requirements’ as you can.
  5. Build your online presence: There are many ways to do this including LinkedIn, 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, however as a minimum, most job seekers should have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a current, professional photo. Fill out as many sections as you can as this will provide a comprehensive view of you, as well as creating additional opportunities to connect with others.
  6. Access the hidden job market: Some jobs are never advertised so this is an important part of your job search strategy. Connect with recruiters you identified in step 2. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their careers page and follow them on social media. Network and connect with others in your industry, join relevant LinkedIn groups and make active contributions to help build your profile.
  7. Check your social media: First impressions are everywhere and many employers look up candidate’s social media pages as part of the screening process. Making sure your privacy settings are appropriate is a good first step – however you should generally assume that everything is visible – so clean up any inappropriate content and edit pictures.
  8. Network: 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 meetings etc. Join relevant professional associations and networking groups, and attend seminars and connect with people in your industry.
  9. Take your time to apply: This may seem counter-intuitive – especially if it’s your dream role. But, the worst thing you can do is submit an application without proper preparation. Taking time to research the company and people who work there, and asking for advice can be invaluable in ensuring your application gets read. You could start by calling the contact person listed on the job ad and ask them what key things they’re looking for in an application. You might be surprised at what they say and at the very least you’ll have a leg up on other candidates who didn’t take the time to do this.
  10. Prepare for the interview: One of the biggest mistakes we see is candidates focusing on landing the interview, but not thinking too much beyond that. To prepare for your interview you could brainstorm common questions, practise your answers, research the company, prepare some relevant questions of your own, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and most importantly practise listening without interrupting – so you can respond more effectively to every question you get asked.
  11. Stay in touch: Once you have identified relevant recruiters and companies, make sure you follow them up at regular intervals and stay in touch.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex. There are multiple avenues to tap into so being organised will help you to identify all the positions you may be suitable for. See our previous articles on job search strategies for more tips on effective job search planning.

Would you like to become a more successful job seeker? Perhaps you need assistance with writing a winning resume, creating a job search strategy, updating your LinkedIn profile or improving your interview skills? If so, please see our Resume and Cover Letter writing, Job Search Coaching, LinkedIn profile writing and Interview Coaching services.

Positive language for positive outcomes

Article by Belinda Fuller

Positive language for positive outcomes

The language you use in any situation is so important in effectively conveying your message. Often employers look beyond a candidate’s skills, experience and qualifications to seek out positivity. This is particularly so in competitive markets where experience might be equal with many candidates who could ‘do the job’. In this case – the enthusiasm with which you tackle things provides a key advantage.

If you think about your day-to-day interactions with people and how they make you feel, positive language can have a huge impact, and will usually create a far better impression than negative or even neutral language. How often does someone say “not too bad” when you ask how they are? The other day at the grocery store, I asked a young man how he was and he said “I’m fantastic! In fact, I’m always fantastic!” That left a great impression on me and provided me with an immediate insight into his mood and outlook on life. The difference between “not too bad” and “fantastic” is stark and can make a huge difference to the questioner’s impression of the person. Regardless of the situation, people feel automatically lifted when positive language is used over negative language.

When employers are evaluating prospective candidates – beyond skills, experience, and qualifications, they seek out positive people. If all other aspects are equal, a candidate who demonstrates positivity and enthusiasm will usually have an advantage over one who is negative or disinterested. It demonstrates that the candidate would probably complete the job in an upbeat and cooperative manner. Many employers would prefer to provide some on-the-job training to an enthusiastic but less experienced worker than hire someone with the perfect background but a less than positive attitude.

By using positive language and ensuring an upbeat attitude in interviews, with your colleagues, and your clients, you will set yourself up for success. In fact, it’s a critical factor in determining workplace success. Employers promote employees who not only produce results, but also motivate others in the workplace, and a positive approach can help with this.

There are many ways to use positive language and demonstrate enthusiasm in the workplace. For example, in a job interview – discuss previous experiences and training in an upbeat manner, smile, sit up straight, and make eye contact. Once in the workplace – listen, learn, and try new things. Be proactive and offer to help others, or seek out new tasks or projects in your down time. In addition to using positive words in your everyday language, it’s worth being mindful of how you phrase things too.

Positive language:

  • tells the recipient what can be done
  • suggests alternatives and choices
  • is helpful and encouraging.

Negative language:

  • tells the recipient what can’t be done
  • has a subtle or obvious tone of blame
  • emphasises negative actions or consequences.

Try to use positive rather than negative language and stop yourself if negativity starts to creep in. Here’s some examples of how you can replace a negative phrase with a more positive one:

This phrase Could be replaced with
I can’t Let me look into that for you
No problem Definitely or Certainly
Not too bad Great
Can’t complain Everything is going well thanks
I’ll try I will
I forgot I’ll set a reminder for next time
Never give up Keep up the good work
I am stress free I am calm and relaxed
Constructive criticism Feedback

Language is a powerful tool. Whether you communicate verbally, or in written form, the language you use affects how the message is perceived. Using positive language can help to reduce conflict, improve communication, increase optimism in others and can portray the speaker/writer as credible and respectable. Even unpleasant news can be softened by the use of positive language.

If you would like help with any aspect of your career, please see our range of Career Counselling Services.

7 ways you know you’re doing a great job

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 ways you know you're doing a great job

Job satisfaction is often linked to how appreciated you feel at work. Sometimes you might not receive the praise you crave and if you’re unhappy at work, it can be difficult to perform. Not every manager is great with praise and some just don’t have the time or inclination to understand how important occasional compliments are. But there are other, subtler ways to tell you’re doing a great job.

There are many times throughout your career when you need to assess your performance. For example, when you’re due for a performance review, when you’re feeling unmotivated, or when you’ve received some unfavourable feedback. If you’re faced with any of these situations, try to assess your performance honestly. If you can, go back to your job description, performance plan, or KPIs to formally assess how you’re going against those goals. Some ways to prove you’re doing a great job, even though you might not actually hear it, include thinking about the following areas:

  1. The value you add: Ask yourself where you might have added value and assess how this helped your manager, department, or the overall company. Try to keep track of any accolades received from colleagues, clients and others; and remember all the things you’ve done to improve processes or ways to get things done.
  2. Your measurable success: Many roles can be easily tracked in terms of performance – sales made against budget or marketing metrics such as responses, likes or clicks. But for other roles that aren’t metrics driven and easy to measure, think about your actions and how they meet or exceed expectations. Did you follow instructions, procedures or rules? Did you deliver an outcome when you said you would? Did you receive some positive feedback from a client or colleague?
  3. Being the go-to person: If you are constantly being asked questions about a variety of areas of the business, there’s a good chance you have become the company ‘go-to person’. Learning about the company and how things work and sharing that knowledge with your colleagues is an excellent trait for any employee and a good indication that you’re doing a great job.
  4. You’re reliable: If you get asked to help out on projects, or assist with last minute tasks, you can be relied upon to get the job done. An employee who turns up on time, listens, does what’s expected of them, is trustworthy, and shows respect is a productive and valuable employee.
  5. You’re asked for your opinion: Being given the opportunity to attend meetings to listen and offer your view on different areas is another indicator that you’re doing a great job and your efforts are appreciated.
  6. You’re proactive: Some people wait to be told what to do, and others take their own initiative to get things done. Managers notice self-motivated, proactive team members so if you offer to help out on tasks that you notice need to be done, but might not be in your direct area of responsibility – you’re probably doing a great job!
  7. You solve problems: Being a problem solver is important, so if you’re faced with a challenge and you tell your boss about the issue while also offering suggestions on how you think it should be fixed, they’ll appreciate your efforts. It makes their life easier and proves to them that you’re invested in the company’s success just as much as they are.

It is important to understand that some managers aren’t great at giving feedback. If you find yourself in this situation, often simply asking for feedback is a good approach. Otherwise, you could find a mentor – either within the company or outside. Mentors can offer advice and they’ve usually faced some of the same challenges you might be experiencing. They’ll help you strategise ways to deal with issues and support you on your path to success.

If you would like help with any aspect of your career, please see our range of Career Counselling Services.

How to join the freelance revolution

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to join the freelance revolutionMany people we talk to dream of becoming a freelance consultant in their specialist line of work. Recent studies suggest that more and more people are taking up this approach to their careers – both from necessity and desire. So how do you go about becoming a freelancer if you’re still working for the boss?

Australia is currently experiencing a kind of freelance revolution. With jobs being cut and companies keen to hire specialist workforce skills only for certain projects or periods, job security is a thing of the past.

For many people, providing their services via freelancing, consulting or contracting is the perfect situation. Studies already indicate that 30% of the Australian workforce undertakes some kind of freelance work and many are doing this by choice rather than necessity. And it’s not just the younger generation that enjoys the fact they can pick and choose work to focus on. Older workers are also embracing the trend to reduce stress, increase flexibility, take back control of their career and life, and in many situations earn higher levels of income for their difficult-to-find skills and unique levels of experience.

Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. So what can you do to get started?

  • Understand your reasons why: If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and passionate about doing that for others on a daily basis if you’re going to succeed as a freelancer.
  • Work out your offer: Being great at what you do and knowing everything about your industry isn’t enough. Pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days, which means what you do may be the same as what many others do. Technology has made it easier for independent workers to engage with employers anywhere in the world at any time of the day, which has opened up a global freelance market that didn’t previously exist. This means that whilst freelance work is certainly growing, it is also becoming more competitive to secure. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it is different. It might be important to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects, whereas being a ‘jack of all trades’ may not be as effective.
  • Work out your finances: Many people think freelance work will provide instant financial rewards with the hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s rate. Keep in mind you spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes to run the business may not be billable. Many factors determine how much extra (unbillable) time you spend, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. The best way to prepare is to build up a salary safety net – you could start small on the side while still working in paid employment or perhaps think about taking a regular part-time role. Even the best freelancers take continuous bread and butter jobs, so they have a reliable regular income source. And remember, if you’re not in full-time paid employment, you won’t be earning any superannuation, so take that into consideration when you’re planning.
  • Manage your time and maintain motivation: With no manager to hold you accountable, you need to maintain your reliability. Doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it is the secret to success. Your clients (and your income) will depend on this since freelancers often aren’t paid until they deliver. This can be a difficult adjustment, so be mindful of budgeting and ensuring a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. You will also need to make sure that every one of your clients feels like they are your top priority. The secret is to implement systems and processes to keep everything on track and don’t overcommit. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.
  • Don’t forget about the boring bits: Running your own business means being prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking that because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource these areas, but in the beginning you will need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.

The opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life but it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.

Would you like career advice to help you decide whether or not to join the freelance revolution?  If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to stand out the right way

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to stand out the right wayWhat makes one person stand out from the rest in a job application and/or interview if everyone has similar backgrounds, experience and education? Being creative with your application is one way you can achieve this – but that doesn’t mean a scented application on coloured paper with a cute gift. It means articulating your value to the organisation in a way that resonates with the recruiter and helps them understand why you’d be a good fit. Some examples of how to do this include:

  • Talking about your achievements: Career achievements sell you to potential employers but many people struggle to convey these in their application. The recruiter doesn’t know (yet) how fabulous you are, so your content should be tailored to make an immediate impact. And immediate impact can only be achieved by showing them how valuable you could be to their organisation. Achievements don’t always have to be money or number focused – although it is great if they are. Think about things you do in your day-to-day work that benefit the business, the customers, and/or colleagues. Sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm ideas where you have done things that you were commended on or that made you feel proud. Think about positive feedback received, times when you solved a business issue, projects completed, or new processes implemented. Maintaining an ongoing file with positive feedback or notes when something goes well will help.
  • Aim for quality over quantity: This applies both to the length of your application as well as the number of applications you send out. Our research suggests 3-5 pages for a Resume is ideal and keeping your cover letter to one page is optimum in the Australian market. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, particularly where selection criteria needs to be addressed or for particular fields where certain information must be included. As a rule of thumb, keep your documents to this length and target jobs that you are a) interested in; and b) suitable for.
  • Tailor your message: Casting your net far and wide with generic applications only waters down your success. This applies to applications for specific roles as well as generic ‘feelers’ or ‘contacts’ via LinkedIn or other social networks. With applications, tailor your message to suit the role. Go through all the ‘requirements’ of the role and make sure you’ve covered off how you have the necessary skills, qualifications and capabilities by demonstrating previous accomplishments in those areas. Likewise with professional networking, if you’re reaching out to someone cold about a position within the company, respect their time. Tell them your name and why you’re contacting them with a brief description of what you’re hoping to learn from them or achieve. Utilise your existing network too – check whether you know someone within the organisation you’re targeting – or even associated with that organisation in some way, and reach out to them first to ask for a referral.
  • Solve a current issue: Conducting some research into the company you are interviewing with means you might be able to provide some educated insight into solving a problem for them. Showing how much you care about the role and the company during the interview by knowing about the organisation, the market, its competitors and customers will ensure you leave the recruiter with the knowledge that you’d be a valuable employee. By researching the company beforehand and preparing a list of relevant questions or perhaps highlighting a potential solution to an issue being currently faced is a great way to stand out.
  • Make your application easy to read: This includes structure, content, format and grammar/spelling! Use bullet points, sections, headings, achievements and white space to make your application appealing – and don’t be tempted to make it too fancy. Make sure you proofread your documents, and have someone else do it as well. Ensure the application is cohesive, clear, concise and accurate – and focused on why you’re an ideal fit for the role.
  • Be punctual, organised and professional: This might seem obvious but you’d be amazed how many people just don’t place the right emphasis on this point. For a physical interview, plan to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early to allow for any last minute issues, research transport/parking options prior to the interview day, and dress neatly and appropriately for the company. Take a copy of your resume, the position description, a pen and note paper. Don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions to find out more about the role and the company, as well as providing a chance to highlight your interest in the role and stand out to the recruiter.

Our research indicates that while some recruiters do appreciate creativity and unconventional approaches, many do not. What is essential is that you can demonstrate that you have done your research and can show how serious you are about the opportunity. It takes a recruiter between 5 and 30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so.

Would you like help making sure that your next application or interview helps you stand out in a crowded job market? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services or Interview Skills Training Service.

14 tips for professional behaviour

Article by Belinda Fuller

14 tips for professional behaviourIt doesn’t matter if you work for a large or small organisation, or if you’re a manager or not, there are always expectations in terms of workplace behaviour. While most people can easily define what unprofessional behaviour is – knowing how to behave is a more positive way of looking at it. So what constitutes professional behaviour?

Professional behaviour is a form of etiquette in the workplace which is linked primarily to respectful and courteous conduct. Believe it or not, professional behaviour can benefit your career and improve your chances of future success. Many organisations have specific codes of conduct in place, but some don’t. In general, it comes down to ethics, integrity, dedication, and being conscious of how you treat co-workers.

TIP # 1: Know your organisation’s mission, values and code of professional conduct so that you’re clear on the expected workplace attire, priorities, behaviours and outcomes.

TIP # 2: Be observant of other people’s behaviour – take note of how they speak and act towards you and others, and in different work settings. Notice how their behaviour comes across in terms of the response it gets. Decide what you’d like to do differently or similarly.

TIP # 3: Be respectful of fellow employees, colleagues and clients, regardless of their rank or status – everyone is important. This includes using good manners, being mindful of personal space and refraining from referencing non-work-related or other inappropriate topics. Use appropriate language, apologise for errors or misunderstandings, and keep your personal opinions of others private.

TIP # 4: Manage your emotions and language, especially during stressful times. Learn to recognise and control frustration, overwhelm, tiredness and other emotional states and never take out those emotions on people in the workplace.

TIP # 5: Manage your time well and know what workload you have to achieve each day. Don’t be late to work or take longer than usual breaks, ensure you meet deadlines, turn up for meetings prepared and on time, and respect other people’s time.

TIP # 6: Act honestly and openly so people can trust you and your word, and always give credit where it’s due. Don’t share confidential, privileged or client information unnecessarily, and never tolerate or justify dishonest conduct by others.

TIP # 7: Maintain accountability for your work and actions – manage expectations by under-promising and over-delivering. Be honest if things go wrong and take ownership of your mistakes – see them as an opportunity to learn and grow, and avoid blame, excuses and denial. Seek help if you need it and work out an effective resolution to move forward.

TIP # 8: Be supportive of your team and colleagues – help where and when you can, even if it’s simply to listen, and be willing to share your skills and knowledge. Thank others when they have done a good job or helped you in some way.

TIP # 9: Understand your company’s preferred way of communicating, follow any company guidelines, and learn the ‘unwritten’ rules that vary from company to company. Read information provided before asking questions, listen to others when they explain concepts, don’t engage in office gossip, speak clearly and in language others can easily understand, and be polite. Be careful of language and tone in written communications, don’t copy in others unnecessarily when emailing (but don’t intentionally exclude others either).

TIP # 10: Audit and manage your social media profile to ensure it is appropriate for public viewing, or make it private. Leverage social media to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility. Take out photos or comments that may be offensive or suggestive to others. Think about what is going to make you stand out and focus your content on positive hobbies, interests, volunteer work or charities you support.

TIP # 11: Set aside any differences in order to work well with others. You may need to work with people that you don’t necessarily like, however those who work well with others can often advance on that aspect alone, with teamwork sometimes even outweighing performance.

TIP # 12: Stay focused on work tasks when you’re at work and manage your personal matters so they don’t impact your work.

TIP # 13: Ask for feedback so you can find out what you could have done differently or better. That way you will continue to develop your skills and capabilities while demonstrating your desire for growth.

TIP # 14: Stay committed, dedicated, positive and consistent – it goes a long way to ensuring success and is often contagious with others being inspired to put in a little extra effort themselves.

Essentially, professional behaviour comes down to giving your best at all times while treating others with respect. Think about how your behaviour will be perceived by others and make sure to understand and follow company codes of conduct where they exist.

Would you like assistance with any aspect of your professional career? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

The best end to an interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

The best end to an interview

We’ve all been in that position at the end of the interview when you’re just not sure you’ve done enough to stand out as the best possible candidate for the role. It’s a stressful and daunting experience – but a necessary fact of life. The key to success is being prepared. Here’s some ideas on how to end an interview and give yourself the greatest chance of being selected:

  • Ask questions – asking questions in an interview provides an opportunity to find out more about the role and the company, and whether you think it would be a good fit for you. But it also provides the perfect opportunity to showcase your interest, stand out as a great candidate, and make that final positive impression to the interviewer. If you get asked if you have any questions, it’s important to ask at least one! Questions could focus on specific details of the job, the company, the interviewer’s experience with the company, the market, or competitors. Having questions pre-prepared is important but don’t worry if they all get answered during the course of the interview, just say something along the lines of “I did have a list of questions prepared, but you’ve answered all of them, thank you. I was interested to hear you talk about XYZ though, so can you tell me a little bit more about the impact that has on this role?”
  • Address concerns – ask the recruiter outright if they have any specific concerns about your experience, expertise or areas that make them feel you’re not right for the role. This question does take courage to ask but wouldn’t you rather be given the opportunity to address any concerns before leaving the room? Be sure to think about what concerns might be raised before asking this question though. That way you’ll have some idea about what you’re going to say. Examples include gaps in experience or education, frequent switching of jobs, any time periods where you didn’t work etc. On the other hand, if the interviewer has no concerns and says you seem well qualified for the role, thumbs up all round.
  • Sell yourself – a great way to end an interview is by summarising the reasons you’re interested in the role and why you think you’re a good fit. Start by stating how keen you are for the role after being here today, then remind the interviewer of your key capabilities that would be an asset in the role.
  • Cement your interest – don’t leave without making sure the interviewer knows you’re interested. This is one of the most important parts of an interview. If they aren’t sure about your level of interest, they could assume you’ve changed your mind or aren’t a good fit. If you’re interested and want the job, make sure to communicate that. You could say something along the lines of “Thanks for your time today. I really enjoyed hearing more about the role and the company and it’s just reiterated my interest in the role. Can you tell me when you think you might make a decision?”
  • Say thank you – the very last thing you should do is thank them for their time. A follow up email is also a great idea – this can be another way to reaffirm your interest in the role. Keep it brief, concise, professional, and polite. Asking what the timeline for the decision making process is or when you can expect to hear the outcome is also a great wrap up.

Securing an interview is tough, so being prepared and leaving a great first AND last impression is essential. Recruiters use interviews to test candidates’ performance under pressure because people who can think quickly on their feet are an asset in business. Concentrate on the interviewer and make your time count.

Would you like some assistance preparing for a job interview? Are you keen to overcome your nerves and build confidence in order to stand out from other applicants? Our interview coaches have extensive knowledge of current recruitment practices and are experts in their field. For more information, please see our Interview Training & Coaching service.

21 tips for increased productivity

Article by Belinda Fuller

21 tips for increased productivityWho doesn’t want to do more in the little time we have? Do you wonder why some people are able to achieve so much in the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that you have? This article provides some quick tips that you can implement right now and watch your productivity soar!  

Google productivity and you’ll return more than 13 million results on websites, definitions, courses, apps, blogs, tips, techniques, podcasts, advice – there’s even an Australian Government department dedicated to productivity – it’s the Productivity Commission if you’re interested.

I’ve got a confession – I’m a recovering productivity addict – not sure if that’s actually a thing but it should be! Constantly beating myself up for wasting time, feeling like a slave to email, always being ‘crazy busy’ with not enough time in the day, and feeling guilty for not achieving every single thing on my overly ambitious ‘to do’ list was a regular part of my life. But not anymore, I’ve come to terms with the fact that whilst we think we need more time in our day, we don’t – we just need to make better use of our time and realise that sometimes everything just won’t get done!

Here’s a few of my simple tips that you can implement today to help increase your efficiency, improve your outputs, and gain back some control:

  1. Focus – on one thing at a time. This has literally transformed my life.
  2. Don’t answer your phone – if it’s important they’ll leave a message.
  3. Check your email intermittently – turn off email notifications and respond at a few set times throughout the day.
  4. Know when your energy peaks – then take advantage of those times by getting all the hard stuff done!
  5. Establish routines – then stick to them so you don’t waste time making decisions.
  6. Set up systems – establish rules and processes for everything you do on a regular basis.
  7. Say no – set realistic deadlines, try not to over commit, and don’t set yourself up for failure.
  8. Write a ‘to do’ list – write a list at the end of every day for the next day or first thing in the morning for the day ahead. Planning out your week on a Sunday night is also a great idea.
  9. Plan your day – try starting with the most important, biggest task, not the smallest and easiest.
  10. Schedule your time – diarise everything (electronic or paper, whatever suits) so you can see at a glance how much spare time you’ve got to work with (or not!).
  11. Avoid meetings – if you have to go, try to have one specific outcome in mind and make sure the other participants are also on board.
  12. Track time – for one or two days, then eliminate, delegate and consolidate – often we do things that may not be 100% necessary.
  13. Set time limits – this is great for large projects or tasks you procrastinate about. Break them into smaller chunks, set time limits, and just get it done.
  14. Use a timer – set it to go off at 30 minute intervals. Focus on one activity then take a short one minute break to refocus.
  15. Get up earlier – not a morning person? Try tiny increments by setting your alarm one minute early every day for a month. That adds up to half an hour within a month and one hour within two – sounds ridiculous but it works!
  16. Try a social media ban – you’ll be amazed at how much time you save.
  17. Unsubscribe – to all those pesky emails you waste time reading and scrolling through.
  18. Take breaks – after two hours try to break for at least 10 minutes. Walk around and get outside in the fresh air if you can.
  19. Define success – know what you’re trying to achieve – what does finished look like? How can you determine if you’ve been effective?
  20. Outsource – get help and have someone who is an expert in their field do whatever it is that you’re not good at!
  21. Declutter – your office, your home and your life.

Just do it! No matter how busy you are, you can always get more organised. Take some time to implement some (or all) of these tips and see if your productivity improves.

Are you struggling to find time to get your career on track? Would you likes some help and support from one of our qualified consultants? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services or Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing Services.