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8 tips for returning to the workforce

Article by Belinda Fuller

8 tips for returning to the workforceHave you had an extended break from the workforce? Are you looking to return to full- or part-time work, but unsure where to start? The process can seem daunting after a long break – but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how you can you achieve a smooth and successful transition back into work.

Many people take a break from their career at some point, whether it’s to study, travel or start a family, or for health or other personal reasons. Whatever your reason for taking time out, returning to the workplace can feel daunting. In this article, we look at some first steps you can take to help make the transition back to work a positive experience.

  1. Consider the type of work you’d like to do: Make a list of what you’re looking for when you go back to work. What type of position would you like? Do you want to return to what you were doing before or are you looking for a change? Do you want to work for a company with promotion opportunities, or would you prefer a job where you can go in, do your work and head home without having to worry about your team? The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find something suitable.
  2. Update your skills: Before you start working on your resume and applying for roles, a great first step is to update your skill set. This will help boost your confidence while giving you a stronger resume. Look for opportunities that help fill gaps in your experience, such as taking an online course, completing an internship or doing some volunteer work.
  3. Refresh your resume: When you’re returning to work after a significant break, creating a functional resume, rather than a standard chronological resume, can work best. This involves focusing on your skills and successes rather than the precise dates of your employment. You can showcase your experience under headings such as ‘marketing experience’, ‘project management’ or ‘leadership’ and then list your achievements accordingly. To find out whether a functional resume is right for you, and how to create one that helps you shine, read our recent article here.
  4. Don’t underestimate yourself: Focus on the great skills and experience you have, and think about any new skills you may have acquired during your break. Recruiters and employers value these skills, especially when they’re relevant to the role you’re applying for, so include them in your resume. For example, you might have developed new skills through activities such as: managing a large house renovation; contributing to local sporting clubs, committees and coaching teams; volunteering for your local community or charity organisations; assisting with local fundraising activities; and creating or managing side projects, such as events or a small business. All these activities require skills such as relationship building, communication, organisation and prioritisation, and often the ability to create something with little or no budget. These are all valuable skills in a workplace.
  5. Update your social media profiles: With more than 645 million members around the world, LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting yourself and seeking out potential employers. It’s also a widely used tool among recruiters and employers. As well as checking out applicants’ LinkedIn profiles, recruiters will often Google applicants’ names, so it’s a good idea to see what comes up when you search your name. In addition to creating a professional, SEO-optimised LinkedIn profile, make sure your personal digital footprint helps rather than hinders your application. You can read our previous article for tips on how to clean up your social media.
  6. Tap into your networks: You can often find opportunities to re-enter the workforce through your existing networks. One way to do this is to send an email to family, friends and former co-workers/managers and attach your resume. Let them know the type of position you are seeking and ask them if they’d mind forwarding on your details if they hear of any relevant positions. This may feel daunting, but most people like to help when they can. To grow your networks and open up more opportunities, you could also research and join local networking events and online groups.
  7. Consider part-time or temp work: If your job search is taking longer than expected, consider part-time work or find an agency that offers temporary or contract positions. Do an online search for agencies in your area and contact them to request an interview. If you get your foot in the door with the right company and prove yourself, you have a good chance of receiving a full-time offer down the track. Plus going part-time initially can be a good way to transition, giving you time to adjust.
  8. Consult a career coach: If you’re considering changing careers on your return to work, a career coach can help. Experienced career coaches have extensive knowledge of a wide range of occupations and offer professional, independent advice on your options. They can help you build your confidence and give you the support you need to make the transition.


Re-entering the workforce after an extended break can be tough, but there are things you can do to make this change feel less daunting and more positive. Follow our tips above to take your first steps, and things will flow on from there.

Are you feeling daunted by the prospect of returning to work after taking time out?  Do you need help assessing your skills and experience, and presenting yourself in the best possible light to secure the job you want? Our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services might be just what you need.


Is a functional resume right for you?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Is a functional resume right for youYou might think there’s only one way to structure your resume, but there are actually different ways to do it. And it’s important to choose the type that helps you put your best foot forward.

Functional resumes can be useful in several situations primarily where your recent employment history and achievements don’t directly relate to the role(s) you are applying for. It should still include the same kind of information as a traditional-style resume, but the way it’s formatted is different.

A functional resume focuses on your skills and expertise rather than the jobs you’ve held. It allows you to highlight certain elements of past roles, along with your relevant skills and accomplishments, rather than simply listing your experience in reverse-chronological order.

Should you use a functional resume?

We don’t often recommend using a functional resume since it’s not the standard style, and a recruiter might have a harder time making sense of it. However, a functional resume can be useful in some situations. These include when:

  • Your recent job history is not at all relevant to the roles you’re applying for.
  • You are making a major career change.
  • You have developed a vast range of transferrable skills throughout your work history, but no single role demonstrates that effectively.
  • You don’t have much work experience.
  • There are significant gaps in your work history.
  • You have held multiple, short, contract or part-time roles or you’ve frequently changed jobs.
  • You’ve gained experience in alternative ways, such as volunteering.

The reason functional resumes work well for these situations is that they highlight your transferrable and relevant skills more effectively.

It’s important to note that although a functional resume might be a better way of presenting your relevant experience, some recruiters believe this format can decrease your chances of securing an interview. Recruiters are notoriously short on time and often receive hundreds of applications for a single role. They will scan your resume for relevant information, and want to get a quick feel for whether or not to pursue you. So if you do go with a functional resume, be sure to follow our tips below.

How to write a functional resume that hits the mark

  • Summary: Include a career summary at the beginning that focuses on the value you would bring to the organisation. This should provide a quick overview of you no longer than two paragraphs with a mix of your professional expertise and success, academic/industry training and any relevant personal attributes.
  • Keywords: Include keywords from the job description in your resume. You could use these as your subheadings for key skills (see below).
  • Key skills: Identify your key skills/capabilities and group them logically. Use bulleted lists to describe them in more detail. Include job-related skills (this could include technical or computer software), transferrable skills (such as communication, leadership, negotiation), and personal skills (such as pro-activity in the way you work or the ability to collaborate/work as part of a team).
  • Key accomplishments: This will help the recruiter/employer identify how your abilities match with the job requirements. List them under your ‘key skills/capabilities’ so that each ‘skill’ includes some accomplishments that demonstrate success. For example:
    • Leadership
      • Built a high-performing sales-focused team of 20 from scratch – with responsibility for recruitment, training, coaching, mentoring and performance management.
      • Initiated a significant change program which improved employee culture, morale and retention (>50% on the previous year).
    • Projects: Remember to include any projects personal or professional that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Projects demonstrate your ability to develop and complete complex tasks. Try to use quantifiable measures or statistics to demonstrate outcomes.
    • Employment history: You should still list your jobs in reverse chronological order; however, you might do this in a simple bullet list under the heading ‘Employment History’. Include your title, company and tenure.

Functional resumes are great for showcasing your relevant/transferrable skills. They work best when they’re matched to the job you’re applying for, with your key points of difference clearly highlighted. You will need to talk about your employment history during the interview, so think about how you’ll present that. Including a strong cover letter is also a good idea, as it will allow you to expand on the skills and achievements that make you a great candidate.

 Whether you think you need a functional or traditional resume, a professional resume writer can help! If you’d like some help with your resume, please see our Resume Writing Services.


How to boost self-confidence at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to boost self-confidence at workWhile it is a generalisation, successful people are often fairly confident people – or can at least find self-confidence when they need it most. But there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and people who aren’t naturally self-confident sometimes struggle with this. Building self-confidence doesn’t have to mean a complete personality overhaul – you can take some small, simple steps to become more self-assured, and this may help you achieve increased career success.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Push yourself: Getting outside your comfort zone is key to improving self-confidence. If you feel you could do your job with your eyes closed, it might be time to stretch yourself. You could do that in your current role by offering to help on a project where you’ll build new skills, or do something outside of work that challenges you while building professional skills.
  2. Visualise success: Having a clear picture of what success means to you is important. Many experts will tell you that the first step to achieving a goal is to visualise yourself doing so. You could imagine yourself working in your dream job or behaving with more self-confidence in an area that’s important to you.
  3. Assess yourself: Take stock of where you’re at and what you have to offer. Write down your skills, qualifications, experience and successes, and how they relate to the role(s) you’d like to secure in the future. Writing down your accomplishments can immediately boost your self-confidence, because more often than not we underestimate ourselves.
  4. Fake it! We never advise clients to lie or mislead, but this tip relates to acting confident to help you overcome your fears. ‘Fake it till you make it’, as they say. Adopting a more positive ‘can-do’ attitude or taking on more responsibility even though it may seem daunting are likely to help build your self-confidence.
  5. Communicate: You need to be able to clearly and concisely articulate what you think and need. If you have concerns, voice them! If you need help, ask for it. If you feel you can talk to your manager about issues – great. If not, seek a trusted friend or colleague with whom you can share your frustrations. Being open and sharing what’s bothering you can help you feel more in control and give you more confidence to determine possible next steps.
  6. Learn to say ‘no’: There are times at work when you should say ‘no’. Unreasonable requests can make you feel out of control. Being assertive allows you to set limits for yourself without being seen as the bully. Learn to say ‘no’ where it is warranted, and you’ll likely feel more confident and in control.
  7. Seek help: Self-confident people often know what they can handle and they delegate the rest. If you’re feeling overworked, talk to your boss and figure out how the situation might be improved.
  8. Get a mentor: Mentors provide a safe space to bounce ideas around and decide which way to go in certain situations. They can also make suggestions to help refine your ideas or point out things you can’t see clearly. This includes successes and achievements that can boost your self-confidence.
  9. Learn new skills: One of the best ways to feel more self-confident is to up-skill. If you’re feeling out of touch with something, find an online course or even just watch a relevant YouTube video. If you take the time to gain the skills you need, you might just begin to feel more confident in yourself.
  10. Accept self-doubt: Even the most confident people sometimes doubt themselves – but they don’t let that self-doubt take control. When you have negative or unconstructive thoughts, acknowledge them but try to analyse if your concern is valid or an over-reaction. Getting someone else’s opinion here can help – the goal is to push past the doubt and move on.
  11. Dress for success: It might be a cliché, but appearances can help you get ahead. Making a little bit of effort with your appearance can go a long way to feeling more self-assured.
  12. Choose your friends wisely: Another well-worn cliché that again is true – choose to spend your time with people who make you feel good about yourself, including in the workplace where possible.
  13. Let go: Try not to dwell on the past or get caught up in what might have been. Instead of worrying about things you can no longer control, stay focused on the future.
  14. Forgive yourself: Beating yourself up about mistakes is not helpful. Self-confident people often learn from their mistakes and move on, knowing they won’t let it happen again.

If you feel like your self-confidence at work could do with a boost, start with small steps. You might like to try just two or three of our tips above to start – but do them consistently and hopefully you’ll see your self-confidence start to bloom.

Is your lack of self-confidence holding you back in your career? Find out how our experienced and compassionate Career Counsellors and Career Coaches can help.

9 tips to make your resume stand out

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 tips to make your resume stand outHave you been applying for jobs but not having much success in getting to that next crucial step – the interview? The problem may be that your resume doesn’t stand out. When you send your resume to a recruiter or potential employer, they most likely won’t read it – they will skim it. So if it doesn’t grab their attention in 10 to 15 seconds, it may be headed straight for the rejection pile.

Here are our tips to make sure your resume stands out in way to catch the recruiter’s attention.

  1. Start off with a short profile: This provides a quick snapshot of who you are. It needs to be sharp and concise. Include who you are, what you do, your area of expertise and your top three skills relevant to the role you’re applying for. It should be a maximum of two paragraphs (or a quarter of a page) and include keywords relevant to the role.
  2. Order key sections logically: To make your resume easy to read, your sections should be in a clear and logical order. For example: contact details, career profile, core capabilities or skills, professional history, education/qualifications and references. If you’re relatively new to the workforce, put your education section on the front page. If you have ample work experience, then education should follow your work history. Although qualifications are important, recruiters and employers often place a higher value on your work experience and accomplishments.
  3. Specify relevant industry skills: Make sure you list skills that are industry-specific and relevant to the job you’re applying for. You can research and use similar or related job adverts or descriptions to figure out some of the most important skills. If you have those skills, list them. Sometimes companies mention current projects on their website. Take note of these, and try to incorporate information that demonstrates how you could contribute towards the success of those projects.
  4. List achievements from past work experience: For every role, try to include two to three achievements relevant to the job you’re applying for. These should be achievements that had a positive impact on the company, rather than personal achievements – recruiters are keen to know what you can do for them. And if possible, make your achievements measurable. For example, ‘Reduced turnaround time by 20%’ or ‘Saved the company $XXX by implementing XYZ initiative’.
  5. Sell yourself: It’s human nature to play down our achievements. However, when it comes to our resume, we need to throw modesty away. One of the best ways to make your resume stand out is by showing your personality (in a way that’s appropriate for a professional document, of course). This is your opportunity to shout about all your impressive achievements.
  6. Other activities: Often candidates overlook this section of a resume, assuming it’s unimportant. However, to recruiters, this section can help show the type of person you are and make you a more interesting and memorable candidate. For example, you might include awards you’ve received, challenges overcome, other qualifications, professional memberships and major achievements outside of work.
  7. Personalise your approach: Find out the recruiter or hiring manager’s name and use it in your cover letter to add a personal touch. Another approach is to call the recruiter before submitting your application. This can help your application stand out by putting you at the front of the recruiter’s mind. If you do take this approach, be sure to present in a polished and professional manner over the phone.
  8. Make it appealing: Pay attention to the aesthetic of your resume. Structure, formatting, spelling and grammar are all very important. Look for consistency with things like line breaks, text alignment and bullet points. Use of subtle colour is fine, especially in the key section headings, but don’t go overboard.
  9. Include your LinkedIn profile or portfolio: As well as getting noticed, you also want to make life easier for the recruiter. If there’s a link they can click on to get a better idea of you as a person and candidate, why not include it? Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated and including the URL in your resume is great, as it means recruiters can keep up to date with you, even if they’re reviewing your resume months down the line.

Writing a resume that stands out among hundreds is no easy task. A well-written and formatted resume is key to securing the all-important interview. But before you can do that, you need to understand the value you have to offer and what’s most important to your potential employer. For more ideas on how to write a resume and what you should include, visit the Resume section of our Career Advice Blog.

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

How to answer: hypothetical interview questions

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer a hypothetical interview questionHypothetical interview questions put you in an imaginary situation and ask how you’d react. They are similar to role plays. Interviewers ask these types of questions to assess your problem-solving skills, how quickly you can think on your feet and how clearly you express yourself. Questions will often begin with “Imagine you are…” and are designed to assess your thought process rather than extract ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.

These questions also help recruiters put candidates on an even playing field, since the same hypothetical situation can be proposed and candidates’ answers can be assessed against each other.

How to prepare for a hypothetical

You might think it would be difficult to prepare for hypothetical questions, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Questions usually revolve around solving a work-related problem, so it can help to think about possible issues that could arise in the role you’re applying for. Depending on the role, the question might focus on:

  • Resolving a customer complaint or issue.
  • Addressing a case of employee theft or misconduct.
  • Getting to the bottom of employee conflict.
  • Missing an important deadline.
  • Dealing with an aggressive customer.
  • Working with team members who aren’t pulling their weight.
  • Being passed over for promotion or additional responsibility.

Once you’ve come up with some potential situations, the next step is to think about how you’d resolve them and why you’d take that approach. Drawing on past experience to describe a similar situation you’ve faced and how you reacted is a good way to respond. This shows the interviewer that you’ve ‘been there, done that’ and worked successfully in a similar scenario. You also shouldn’t be afraid to mention things you wouldn’t do.

Tips for answering a hypothetical question

  • Don’t feel pressured to rush your answer: Take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and resist the temptation to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. The interviewer is testing your problem-solving skills and wants to see reasoned thinking.
  • Clarify if you’re not sure: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need further explanation. Asking a question or two can also buy you a little thinking time.
  • Stay on point: Try not to ramble or go off on tangents. Tell your story in a structured way, with a beginning, middle and end. Come to the conclusion naturally with a clear description of your desired outcome or result.
  • Don’t think there is a definitive right answer: Discussing your approach – where you’d start, what you’d think about, who you’d talk to, what steps you’d take, etc. – is sometimes better than trying to provide an answer or resolution. The interviewer isn’t necessarily asking you to solve the problem for them – they want to know how you would approach it.
  • Use your own history: Consider preparing some examples focused on common skills such as problem solving, communication, people skills and customer service, as well as general challenges you’ve faced. When a question is posed, you may be able to draw on one of your prepared examples and adapt it to suit the hypothetical situation. You can then say “I actually faced a similar situation and was able to do XYZ.” Again, this shows that you have relevant experience.

It might seem impossible to prepare for hypothetical questions, but by analysing the job description, you can get a sense of what an interviewer might ask. What are the focus areas for the role? If it’s heavy on customer service, you might be asked how to resolve a complaint; if deadlines are important, you may need to explain how you’d handle a missed deadline; if you’re leading people, you might have to discuss handling a conflict. Take time to prepare some thoughts and examples, and boost your chances of success.

LinkedIn SEO: how to optimise your profile

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why a career coach could be your secret weapon

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

 From planning to action: how a career coach can help

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

What not to expect from a career coach

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

What happens in a career coaching consultation?

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

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

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


How to nail these 6 types of job interviews

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

13 things you’re doing wrong on LinkedIn

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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