Tag Archives: career advice

How to choose the right keywords to secure your next job

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to choose the right keywords to secure your next jobApplying for a job these days usually involves sending your resume electronically, which may then be processed using an applicant tracking system. Recruiters and organisations are also increasingly using LinkedIn to recruit. This means that using keywords is an essential part of getting your application seen and demonstrating that you’re the best person for the role. Here’s how to identify the right keywords and use them effectively so you can get the job you want.

A high percentage of resumes are now scanned using applicant tracking systems (ATS), which means your resume may not even be seen by human eyes – unless it makes it through the initial round of scanning. More organisations are also using LinkedIn to find candidates. That means you need to use the right keywords in your resume, online profile and other content if you want your application to be seen.

A keyword is simply a specific word, set of words or phrase that relates to or describes a job, skill or experience. They can be general or specific – for example, ‘general manager’, ‘administrative assistant’, ‘report writing skills’ and ‘agile software development’ are keywords that a recruiter might use to search for candidates.

Regardless of the job you’re applying for, there are some common principles for selecting and using keywords effectively. Here are our top tips.

  • Your name: Use your full name and ensure your online profile is consistent with your resume and other application documents. For example, if your resume says Greg Smith but your LinkedIn profile says Gregory C Smith, you’ve made it difficult for a recruiter to connect the two. There’s no need to include your full birth name if that’s not your preferred name. While we don’t recommend using nicknames, we do advise shortening (for example, Christopher to Chris) if that’s how you’re known in the workplace.
  • Job title: Recruiters need candidates with experience that matches the role requirements. To get noticed, you should include your target job title. This doesn’t mean deceptively changing previous job titles, but simply tweaking title(s) to better describe what you did. With many of today’s organisations opting for more ‘interesting’ titles for employees, it can result in the title not necessarily articulating what you do (think ‘Director of First Impressions’ versus ‘Receptionist’). A good solution can be to use a slash to include two titles – for example, ‘Receptionist / Director of First Impressions’ or ‘Senior Administrative Assistant Executive Assistant’. This will help you get found regardless of which title is being searched.
  • Qualifications: Include relevant education, licences and certifications with the organisation that conducted the training as well as the year you completed it. Always include study you’re currently undertaking (with an estimated completion date/year). And translate difficult-to-understand qualifications (or those gained overseas) into the commonly understood equivalent. There’s no need to include high school qualifications unless you’re a recent graduate with no other training or education.
  • Skills: Include a succinct list of relevant skills and capabilities focused on those most frequently mentioned in the job ad. You should create a section in your resume called ‘Key skills and capabilities’ or similar, which could include up to 15 individual skills, if necessary. This helps a recruiter to match your strengths with the right opportunity. And it’s just as important for your online profile as your resume. According to LinkedIn, members with five or more skills listed are contacted (messaged) up to 33 times more by recruiters than other LinkedIn members, and receive up to 17 times more profile views.
  • Location: Many recruiters check your location so it’s important to include a city and state on your resume. If you’re searching for a new role in another state, you could say ‘relocating to Queensland in June’ or something similar. It’s also important to include your location on your LinkedIn profile. According to LinkedIn, more than 30% of recruiters will use advanced search based on location, so omitting it will reduce your chances of being found.
  • Industry: Be sure to use commonly used keywords in your industry, such as ‘sales’, ‘marketing’, ‘information technology’ and ‘customer service’ to describe your field and area(s) of expertise. For LinkedIn, select an industry and sub-classification from the ‘Edit Intro’ section to better define your focus.
  • Seniority: If it’s not clear from your job titles, use words such as ‘graduate’, ‘mid-level’, ‘senior’, ‘executive’ or ‘C Suite’ to show the level of seniority of past roles you’ve held or people you’ve dealt with.
  • Legislation and regulations: Many roles require an in-depth understanding of, or experience interpreting and applying, laws or regulations. If that’s the case for your role, include the names of these laws, acts, regulations and codes of conduct on your resume, including shortened and extended versions if possible. Including memberships of industry groups and specific licences can also demonstrate in-depth understanding of a specific area and provides another way to include relevant keywords.
  • Jargon: Include industry jargon and technical terms that are relevant and appropriate to your expertise and future goals. This includes acronyms, with the full description in brackets the first time they appear, so both versions are included.

When preparing your application and online profile, think like a recruiter filling the job you want. How is that job described in job ads? What skills, capabilities, qualifications and tools are required? Decide on your keywords based on the categories we’ve listed above. Then incorporate those keywords logically into your content.

Avoid madly listing or repeating keywords – this is known as ‘keyword stuffing’ and applicant tracking systems can easily recognise it and may reject your application. But get your keywords right and you’ll be well on your way to your next great job.

Would you like help preparing a top-quality job application or LinkedIn profile that focuses on the right keywords? Our experienced writers can help you create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice. To find out more, read about our Services.

 

 

7 signs it’s time to move on from your job

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 signs it’s time to move on from your job

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut – doing the same things, day in day out, without really enjoying them, but not giving it much thought. Work can become monotonous but most of us can’t afford to leave a job whenever the mood takes us. However, sometimes work starts to make us truly unhappy. Often we wait too long to leave or put off the decision because it’s easier to stay. So how can you tell if it’s time to move on from your job?

Recognising and accepting that it’s time to leave your job can be tough. You may have a ‘good’ job and work for a good company. Maybe you like your co-workers and get on well with your boss. But when it comes to your career, that’s not always enough. Simply feeling dissatisfied might not be a sufficient reason to leave, but there are certain situations that definitely indicate it could be time to move on. If any of the following apply to you, start planning now.

  1. Mondayitis is extending to the whole week: And your ‘bad week’ has turned into a ‘bad month’. Everyone has their off days or weeks. Things can go wrong, or maybe you feel overwhelmed and unable to get on top of things. However, if you’re constantly stressed or unhappy, waking up miserable most days and dreading going to work, that’s a sign it’s time to find something new.
  2. You’re bored: Feeling challenged at work is crucial for long-term satisfaction. If you find yourself doing the same things over and over, with nothing new to excite you, talk to your supervisor about your options. Ask if you can take on new or different responsibilities or tasks. If that isn’t an option, is there something in another department, or a special project you can work on for a short period of time to reignite your passion? If you can’t come to an agreement about new responsibilities, then it’s probably time to exit. You can help prevent the same thing happening again by asking questions in your next interview about career growth, support and development.
  3. You’re not achieving your desired work-life balance: Most of us are working more hours every week, which can compromise our health and wellbeing. With technology allowing us to be connected 24/7, it’s even more difficult to switch off. If you feel your employer is making it difficult for you to find time for friends, family or doing some of the things you love, it might be time to start searching for a new opportunity.
  4. You’re consistently overlooked for promotion: If you regularly put your hand up but you’re not really getting anywhere, what is the reason? Is someone standing in your way or are you doing something to sabotage your own success? If the problem is something out of your control, try raising the issue with your boss and if they struggle to provide a clear answer, it’s likely that the situation won’t change much in the future.
  5. Your company or industry is shrinking: If your company or industry as a whole is experiencing slow or negative growth, it might be time to get out while you still have a job.
  6. You dislike the people you work with: While it’s not viable that everyone gets on with everyone all the time, sometimes personality clashes just aren’t fixable. It’s important to know when that’s the case, and if it is, you may be better off looking for a new role.
  7. You don’t feel appreciated: It can be frustrating if you feel taken for granted or your advice is often ignored. If you work hard and are committed, you shouldn’t feel undervalued in the business. Talk to your boss about how you feel, and if they can’t provide a solution you’re happy with, you might want to consider your options.

We spend so much of our lives working, you owe it to yourself to ensure you enjoy going to work each day (or at least most days). If you’re working in a job that isn’t fulfilling, and you’re no longer learning and growing, it might be time to make a move.

Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to help you work out if it’s time to move on? Or perhaps you’ve already made the decision to leave and you need some help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our services.

How to answer: “Why should we hire you?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer Why should we hire youOur new ‘How to answer’ series proved popular last month, when we looked at how to respond to the interview question, “Tell me about yourself”. This month’s question – “Why should we hire you?” – is just as important, and can be just as tricky to answer. You’ll need to prepare a compelling summary of why they should hire you, while remaining flexible enough to think and respond on the spot.

An interviewer’s main purpose is to collect information on candidates to help make the best decision about who to hire. They may ask this question in several ways, but your response will provide the same outcome. Examples include:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why are you the best candidate for the job?
  • Why are you the right fit for the position?
  • What would you bring to the position?

Even if you don’t get asked this question specifically, you should try to communicate the key reasons they should hire you throughout the interview. If you are asked this question, you’ll have a great opportunity to present a concise sales pitch describing what you offer. You’re usually being hired to solve a problem or address a requirement. The better you demonstrate how you’re going to do that, the more chance you’ll have of getting the job. Follow our step-by-step process to prepare.

  1. Create a pitch. Identify the skills, qualifications and experience you need to succeed in the role, and relate them back to yourself. Do this by reviewing the job description and highlighting key requirements, including qualifications, specialist technical skills, experience, soft skills and personality traits. Then match them with the qualities you possess. Select three of your strongest areas and make these the core of your answer. When you’re developing your pitch, focus on the positives and keep linking your response back to the company and the position.
  2. Research the organisation. Once you’ve identified the personal and professional capabilities you need to highlight, do some research on the company. Pay particular attention to social media accounts since this is where you’ll get a better understanding of company culture. This is important because employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to feel satisfied in their jobs. This generally leads to higher retention rates, and since recruitment is a costly and time-consuming exercise, organisations tend to hire based on shared values and cultural beliefs.
  3. Tell stories. Stories paint a picture and a picture paints a thousand words! Rather than simply stating you have a particular skill or personality trait, support it with a story that ‘shows’ rather than just ‘tells’. For each of the points you highlighted above, think of a time you used that skill or trait to achieve a positive result. Structure your story using the STAR formula to ensure you cover all the important areas, and make sure your examples end with a positive outcome or result. (Want more tips on using storytelling to engage and persuade in the workplace? Take a look at our previous blog post.)
  4. Think beyond the obvious. You know you’re up against candidates who are likely to be just as qualified and experienced as you, so work out what you offer that others don’t. By thinking outside the job description, you can demonstrate how you’re a better candidate. Highlighting unique traits or experiences will set you apart. This is key in a competitive job market.
  5. Solve a problem. If you’ve researched the company well, you may identify a specific need or problem that’s driven this round of recruitment. Try to demonstrate previous success in a similar situation, or simply articulate an approach or an idea about how you’d begin to solve the problem.

“Why should we hire you?” is an important question to answer well, but try not to overthink it. While it’s a good idea to practise your pitch so you can deliver it smoothly, you don’t need to memorise it word for word or it will sound forced. Have a general idea of what you’d like to say, but remain open to addressing additional issues or information that arises during the interview. Talk for no longer than two minutes and aim to cover three main points.

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.

 

 

Storytelling for career success

Article by Belinda Fuller

Storytelling for career successIf you think your storytelling skills are only useful for getting the kids off to sleep, think again. The ability to tell great stories can also be a powerful tool for career success. Storytelling is useful in many different scenarios – from interviews, to getting approval for a special project, to motivating and managing people. It can be a powerful way to engage and persuade.

Storytelling goes back millions of years. Sharing experiences, passing down lessons and communicating to understand each other is storytelling. Doing this in the workplace isn’t new, but doing it well takes some thought and preparation. Storytelling can be used to persuade, entertain, move and motivate people – and it’s a much more interesting way for your audience to consume information.

It’s particularly useful where the subject matter is complex or dry – stories can be used to invoke enthusiasm and excitement that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. Say you were providing a performance update to the company – rather than presenting facts and figures to demonstrate results, you could share a story of how a team member worked successfully with a client. Storytelling can also be useful when communicating with customers. Tell them a story about how you solved another client’s problem and your message becomes more compelling. Likewise, if you’re running an event or encouraging people to buy something from you, a story they can relate to can help them make a positive decision.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have led an exciting life to be a great storyteller. Storytelling is simply about making a connection with your audience. A story about everyday life told well can be as engaging as a story about a significant life achievement. Drawing your audience in and invoking a feeling of shared experience or opinion is what’s important. So how do you do it?

  • Understand your audience: The first crucial step is knowing your audience. Who are they, what are they looking for and how much knowledge do they already have about the topic you’re discussing? How will they be receiving the information – for example in a written report, through video, via a phone conference? This will help set the key themes and tone for your story.
  • Make your audience care: Understand why your audience should or would be interested in your story and then make sure those messages shine through. What is the purpose of telling the story? What would you like the audience to understand or take away? Be creative but always come back to your purpose.
  • Set the scene: Be descriptive about timing and location to help capture your audience’s attention. Set the scene well and provide context for your story. By anchoring your audience in a place and time they will be more interested in reading on or listening through until the end.
  • Develop your plot: Something must happen in your story, so give it a beginning, middle and end. Great stories also often have a climax (maybe a challenging situation or defining decision) that is then resolved.
  • Include detail: Make your story interesting with anecdotes and small, specific details that paint a picture and prevent the audience from becoming bored.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t get carried away with details though – keeping it simple is important too. Stories don’t have to be complex to be interesting; sometimes the simplest stories are the most successful, but only if your audience finds it useful (remember your purpose).
  • Use visual elements: When presenting using PowerPoint or even within written articles, use simple graphics and images if you can. Stay away from complex graphs and charts and big blocks of text. A single picture or infographic with some related words could more easily convey your message – and is more likely to be remembered by your audience.
  • Deliver your punchline: Great storytelling is like telling a joke – you need to know when to wrap it up and ideally finish with a bang. Evoke emotion in your audience by delivering an unexpected or inspiring ending. Or you could ask a question or leave something open-ended to create suspense for a continuation of the story or a related theme at another time.
  • Practise: Your audience will know if you’re under-prepared, and you’ll run the risk of rambling, resulting in a story that doesn’t engage your audience. Craft your story first and practise presenting it in front of a friendly audience for feedback.

Storytelling can help you to convey information to your audience in interesting and memorable ways. Use stories in your work to create connections, evoke emotion and encourage action.

Our highly experienced Career Coaches have many stories to tell! If you’re looking for ways to improve your career, they can help. Find out about our Career Counselling and Coaching. If it’s time for the next chapter in your career, a customised job search strategy is a powerful tool. Learn more about Job Search Coaching.

How to survive the first month in a new role

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to survive the first month in a new roleYour first few weeks in a new role are usually exciting, but they can also be overwhelming. You’re meeting new people, learning how the company operates and trying to align with your new workplace culture. Setting yourself up for success really does begin from day one.

Accepting the offer is just the beginning. Starting a new job usually means a big learning curve – and that can apply to a new role within the same company as well as in a new organisation. It’s often fast paced and full of new things. Success in your new role will rely on you making a great impression, but you also need to learn about your new workplace, the people within it and how you fit in. Here’s some survival tips.

  • Introduce yourself to everyone: As a newbie, you’ll need to build your reputation and credibility by developing good relationships with different people. Take some time to get to know people, and if you’re not confident introducing yourself, come up with a standard description of who you are and what you do. Ask your manager for a list of colleagues you should be acquainted with and set up quick one-on-ones to run through your role and learn about what they do. Approach people in the kitchen, lunch room or before or after group meetings to introduce yourself, but try not to hold them up if they appear hurried or distracted.
  • Be a listener: Research indicates that new employees who ask lots of questions perform better. By asking specific questions and really listening to the answers, you’ll improve your chances of becoming competent quickly. Prioritise what you need to know and work out the best person to help you. If you’re not 100% clear on your question, flag it to come back to later.
  • Find a friend: It’s important to have someone who helps you understand the lay of the land. This doesn’t mean you have to find your new best friend during the first week. But seeking out someone you can relate to in the short term will provide some stability and help you feel more comfortable as you’re getting to know your new workplace. This isn’t so much about company rules and regulations, but more about the culture, general office politics and etiquette, which can often take time to learn. Your new friend can help you work out where to eat lunch and have breaks, and how to take advantage of any amenities or perks offered. It’s great to find someone helpful whose advice you can seek from time to time but be careful not to overwhelm them with requests or take up too much of their time.
  • Understand what’s expected: Be cautious about being overly keen to offer help. Not only could you offend someone by ‘doing their job’ but you could also be diverting your energy away from the areas you’re expected to focus on. By all means offer assistance to others where appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and don’t be overly critical of the way things are done – yet. You were hired for a reason, so learn exactly where you fit and the value you’re expected to add. This will be essential for your success.
  • Clarify communications: Organisations and individuals have varying expectations regarding communications and it’s important you adapt to existing behaviours quickly. Work out what people do to communicate on different issues. Do people mostly connect face to face, on conference calls or via email? What’s the culture with walking up to people’s desks and nutting out a problem then and there? Does your supervisor expect constant updates on every detail or just a heads-up on major projects or issues?
  • Try to remember names: Repeat people’s names back to them, then write a quick note about your interaction after parting. If you do forget someone’s name, be honest – it’s fine to admit that you’ve been overwhelmed with information in your early days. Simply say, “I’m sorry, can you please remind me of your name?” and all is likely to be forgiven.
  • Remain open: Being able to embrace change is important. Wanting to do things the way you’ve always done them may not serve you well in these early days. In your new workplace, things will be done in ways that you may not be comfortable with. Be flexible enough to embrace new approaches and be prepared to change your mind about initial impressions or decisions.

Nobody expects you to master your new domain within a month, but making a positive impression, working hard and remaining focused is important. Be proactive about getting involved in new projects, asking for more work and presenting new ideas. Request feedback so you know what to improve on and talk to your boss about any interests or worries you may have – they are heavily invested in your success as well!

Do you need some help with the next step in your career? Our career advisors are experts in their field and provide comprehensive career counselling. We also have experienced writers who can help you create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice.

17 podcasts to inspire career success

Article by Belinda Fuller

17 podcasts to inspire career success

Podcasts can provide great inspiration across a range of areas. These convenient, bite-sized chunks of content are also a good way to up-skill or improve your knowledge about various topics, since they’re usually delivered by people with a passion for, and deep understanding of, what they’re talking about.

Whether you’re looking for your first career, searching for major change, struggling with your current role, interested in starting a business or just need inspiration and motivation, there is something for everyone! Here’s a few of our favourites.

Career Tools: A weekly podcast focused on specific actions you can take to grow and enhance your career – no matter what industry or position you’re in. With topics ranging from communication to meeting performance, productivity, workload, asking for feedback, relationships, changing jobs and everything in between, there is sure to be something of interest.

How did you get into that?: Host Grant Baldwin interviews people from all walks of life who are doing interesting or amazing things to make a living. Each episode includes a story about someone who wanted something more from life and made it happen. You’ll find interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, speakers, writers, filmmakers, photographers, athletes, venture capitalists, Etsy sellers, comedians, nutritionists and more, across all different industries.

Beyond the To Do list: Struggling to juggle life and work? This award-nominated podcast features actionable tips from highly successful people that can help you choose the right projects, tasks and goals in work and life. Host Erik Fisher talks with real people who implement productivity strategies in their professional and personal lives.

Miss Independent: Focused on a female audience, Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017 and launched a podcast that features conversations with women in leadership and business. Natalie talks with a broad range of interesting, diverse and inspiring women in leadership and business. She discusses their successes and setbacks, as well as secrets and tips to inspire you to make your own career decision with confidence.

Flying Solo: This is a podcast for anyone starting or growing a small business. Host Robert Gerrish talks with inspiring soloists and expert guests on all things solo, micro and small business.

The Signal: Sometimes the news can feel overwhelming. This ABC Radio podcast helps to sort the news from the noise. It’s a quick (10-15 minute) dive into current news stories that matter, delivered every morning.

Business Women Australia Podcast: Another one focused on a female audience, this podcast is for ambitious women who are serious about business success and leadership development. It provides tips and ideas for those interested in building their knowledge and skills.

Happen to your career: Created for people who aren’t happy in their job, or need some guidance to find work they really love, this podcast helps people to match their strengths to work they will find interesting and meaningful.

Productivityist: Hosted by productivity expert Mike Vardy, this weekly podcast gives listeners tips, tricks, tactics and tools to improve productivity and time management in order to get things done.

The Good Work Revolution: This podcast looks at how you can feel fulfilled and make a positive impact through your work. Each episode includes reflections from different guests, or the host, Kate McCready, on how we can create ‘good work’. It explores people’s relationships with their work – how it influences fulfilment, wellbeing, engagement and a sense of contribution and connection. It’s also about lifting people up and helping them elevate their personal ability to have an impact – whether small and local or big and world changing.

The Tim Ferris Show: Author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris – best known for The 4-Hour Workweek (which has been translated into 40+ languages), hosts this podcast. In it, he interviews highly successful people and discovers the keys to their success. Guests provide some great tips and tricks that anyone can use to accelerate their work style.

The Jack Delosa Podcast: Founder of Australia’s largest and most disruptive education institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage, Jack Delosa also co-founded MBE Education, which helped SMEs raise money from investors. He’s been on the BRW Young Rich List since 2014 and is a two-time bestselling author. In The Jack Delosa Podcast, Jack answers questions about business, start-ups, entrepreneurship and the importance of mindset, and shares exclusive interviews with industry leaders and innovators.

Inspire Nation: A top self-help and spirituality show across 185 countries, this podcast features an inspiring new guest every day. Host Michael Sandler felt a calling to start his life-changing show after surviving two near-death accidents. The broad-ranging topics include how to find more energy, strength, happiness, peace, purpose, confidence, and heart to live your greatest life.

Behind the Media: The Australian’s media diarist Stephen Brook hosts this weekly podcast where he interviews journalists, writers, editors, presenters and other media careerists. This podcast is sometimes casual, sometimes serious but presents a diverse range of guests discussing the state of the media industry and their own careers.

Thought Capital: This is a relatively new podcast created by Monash Business School. Host Michael Pascoe delves into topics you probably won’t read about in the business pages. What’s the link between Big Data and election rigging? How can you identify the true ‘key players’ in an economic meltdown? Is there a ‘tax paradise’ and can you live there?

The Leadership Dojo: Hosted by Alex Barker, this podcast features interviews with some of the greatest and most inspirational leaders, from business CEOs to famous Olympic athletes to best-selling authors. Alex aims to help listeners learn success principles from leaders and how to apply them to daily life.

48 days to the work you love: This is a 48-minute weekly podcast hosted by US-based career expert and author Dan Miller, which helps listeners discover their true calling, find work they love, and explore business ideas and opportunities. Dan helps people overcome procrastination with a mission to foster the process of imagining, dreaming and introspection, so they can find purposeful and profitable daily work.

Podcasts are a great distraction during long commutes and there are plenty to choose from across every area of interest. Simply search on a topic and select from a list of top-ranked podcasts. For Australian-specific podcasts, check out the Australian Podcast Awards, an event that brings together podcasters to celebrate the medium’s ability to entertain, inspire and engage audiences worldwide. The site includes a list of annual winners and nominees across different categories to give you some listening inspiration.

Are you happy at work? Career counselling can be an invaluable tool for helping you explore your options and decide on a new career path or course. To find out how we can help, read about our career coaching services.

How to turn a side-hustle into a career

Article by Belinda Fuller

For the majority of people wanting to start a business, the reality of working a 9 to 5 job while side-hustling is real. If you’re in this position, don’t despair – in fact many experts believe that starting a new business while you’re still employed elsewhere gives you more chance of success. But how do you get that business to the point where it’s your career?

How to turn your side hustle into a career

Many people reading this article are probably working as an employee by day while trying to get their business off the ground at night. The fact is that many new businesses start off as side-hustles for their owners. Unless you’ve made a lot of money previously and managed to stash it away, there really isn’t any other choice. Here’s five traits we think you’ll want to leverage in order to achieve success:

Trait # 1 – Organisation: To turn a side-hustle into a full-time business while you’re still working will require strong organisation skills. In Lorraine Murphy’s book ‘Get Remarkably Organised’ she talks about the cornerstone of success at work and home as being organised – but this doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. Being organised can be as simple as developing some new habits that help prevent or address future problems. Lorraine talks a lot about being kind to your ‘future self’ and this really comes down to being organised enough that you’re thinking about ‘future you’ to predict and address these potential problems before they’ve even occurred. Some simple habits of organised people include: writing things down, diarising and scheduling tasks, making deadlines and sticking to them, not procrastinating, giving items a home and making sure you put them away, cleaning up regularly, living in an uncluttered way (that includes decluttering regularly and getting rid of the unnecessary), not accumulating more ‘stuff’, delegating some tasks, and making time for yourself (and sticking to it).

Trait # 2 – Time Management: There is a popular adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Now is definitely the time to work smarter not harder! Knowing how you spend your time is key to success since there are only 24 hours in the day. When you’re working a full-time job, eight of these are probably already taken. Add in commute time, eating, sleeping and all the other necessary tasks related to living and there aren’t many hours left to work on your business. We have talked before about managing time – with our previous article 10 Time Management Tips to Improve Your Productivity providing some more detail. Our general tips include planning your day, focusing on one thing at a time, establishing routines, setting deadlines, switching off technology, and saying no! If all else fails track how long you spend on certain tasks for a few days then eliminate, delegate, and consolidate where you can.

Trait # 3 – Process Focused: Having a structured plan and goal(s) is key to success. You need to know what your business looks like before you can do this – so take some time to define how your business needs to look in order for you to make it your full-time work. Then think about everything you need to do to get there. There are some great resources online to help with this. Many business planning articles online include lengthy business planning templates which isn’t necessarily the best option. Having a business plan that is clear, simple, and useful in helping you move forward is what you need. I love the website ‘Flying Solo’ for small business tips. There’s a whole section on business planning with a couple of articles that really caught my attention being ’Do I really need a business plan’ and the ’9 step business plan’ (see step 6 for a particularly relevant look at structure).

Trait # 4 – Decisiveness: ‘Just do it’ is a great concept and one that I love when it comes to business. A common trait amongst many successful business owners and entrepreneurs is that they take action with a sense of urgency and importance. When you are in the early business start-up phase, there isn’t really any room for procrastination. Whilst you don’t want to be impulsive or reckless, you do need to know how to prioritise, make decisions quickly, and take action immediately.

Trait # 5 – Ability to Change: An open-minded approach to constantly change, adapt and learn is essential in business. Never assume that you know everything and approach situations with a willingness to learn from the experience. The world is changing rapidly and to succeed in business today, you need to know so much more than you did 10 or even five years ago. The pace of technological change alone means the way we do things today is often replaced with something new and better tomorrow. In addition, new businesses are relatively easy to start up so competitors can pop up overnight. Understand and learn about new ideas around potential businesses, people skills, efficiency, and workflows – and most importantly be flexible to change and adapt whenever it makes sense.

The road to achieving a successful business can be difficult to begin with but like most other big things in life, it can be enormously rewarding. If you work hard and take some well thought out risks, you may be pleasantly surprised to see where your ‘side hustle’ takes you.

Are you thinking about starting your own business? Would you like advice from one of our career consultants? If so, please read more about our career consulting services.

Achieve better work-life balance without changing jobs

Article by Belinda Fuller

Achieve better work-life balance without changing jobsIf you’re unhappy in your job, like truly, truly unhappy bordering on depressed, then sometimes the best (or only) option is to quit, but often that’s just not an option. ’Work-life balance’ is an often used term with a large proportion of our clients citing it as the reason they are searching for a new role. But what exactly is it and can it be realistically achieved?

Many people admit to working more and more hours each week, which can take a toll on health, wellbeing, and overall happiness. Added to this, technology allows us to be connected 24/7, which makes it even more difficult to find that elusive work-life balance. The perfect work-life balance is different for everyone, however, for many people, a better balanced life can be achieved by making some fairly simple changes. Try these general tips to get you started:

TIP # 1 – Decide what’s important. Working less doesn’t mean better work-life balance for everyone. If you are happy with the amount of time you dedicate to each part of your life, you’ve probably achieved your best version of work-life balance. Decide on your priorities and communicate those to superiors, colleagues and family members. Think about what you’d like to do more (or less) of. Work out what you need to focus on and try to eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to that.

TIP # 2 – Establish working hours. Set boundaries for yourself and others. If you work from home, try to walk away from your office space at a set time every day. If you work outside of the home – try not to take work home unnecessarily. Of course, unplanned events will inevitably occur but trying to finish at the same time each day is a great idea. Likewise, make sure friends and family know not to interrupt you at work unless it’s an emergency. For most people, it would take a huge personal emergency to reschedule something important for work. Give your personal time the same respect and try not to ‘reschedule’ it for a work emergency unless it’s absolutely necessary.

TIP # 3 – Switch off technology. Don’t stay connected to work 24/7. If you’re spending time with your family or partner this is especially important. We need time to focus on personal relationships. Turning off technology for even just short periods of time allows us to give people our undivided attention which goes a long way towards improving work-life balance.

TIP # 4 – Track your time. Not all the time, but try it for a few days (try the Pomodoro technique). Tracking how much time you spend doing certain tasks will help you work out where you can save time. Rethink your approach if you believe that hours worked equates to productivity – just because you work 60-hour weeks doesn’t mean you are productive. Eliminate or delegate some tasks and you will be amazed at how much extra time you gain.

TIP # 5 – Try to schedule ‘time off’. This includes holidays and weekends. At a minimum you should try to schedule two weeks off annually and try not to work consistently on weekends. This doesn’t mean you need to book an expensive holiday. Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been ‘staycations’. Stay at home and enjoy what your local area has to offer. Or try a couple of ‘long weekends’ away throughout the year. We often get so caught up in day-to-day work that we miss all the fun stuff right under our noses. Time off helps you feel refreshed and recharged and will contribute to you achieving your best levels of productivity.

TIP # 6 – Schedule something enjoyable every day. For me that’s exercise most days. If that’s not for you, schedule something else you enjoy doing. It could be a quick walk with the dog or coffee catch up with a friend or colleague, some gardening, cooking, pottering in your workshop, meditation, or reading a book. It could simply be some quiet time to yourself doing nothing – it certainly doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming.

TIP # 7 – Look after yourself. Eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated and making sure you get enough exercise are all factors that will have a positive impact on your ability to achieve work-life balance. Getting good nutrition and exercise will help you feel happier and achieve higher levels of productivity in the long term.

TIP # 8 – Don’t sit still. Aim to get up from your desk at least every two hours. Try to do it before your concentration wanes and your attention flags. Get up, have a stretch, grab a glass of water, take a quick walk around the block for some fresh air – just do something that gives you a break from working and clears your head for the next task.

TIP # 9 – Create processes and systems. Things that you do repetitively – both at work and at home can be simplified through process. Think about all the tasks you do on a daily basis – do you approach them in an ‘automatic’ way? Think about these repetitive tasks and then work out how you can automate or speed them up (or even just outsource them).

TIP # 10 – Say no! Over-committing is a common issue but completely avoidable. You don’t need to be ‘available’ for work all the time and you don’t have to say YES to every social invitation. Use a calendar to manage commitments (work and social) including scheduling time to work on projects. I like to plan my week on a Sunday evening, making sure I have time to fit in the work I’ve committed to and factoring in some time for me and my family as well as dealing with the day-to-day mundane activities that need attending to. Planning your week but allowing for some free time in your calendar will set you up for success – and enable you to effectively deal with any emergencies. Learning to say NO more often can help you feel more in control.

In today’s ‘always on’ culture, it can be difficult to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Since the ideal mix is different for everyone, working out what you need personally and understanding that you have some control is an important first step. But achieving and maintaining it is not a one off process – it’s a lifelong pursuit. Aspire to what you need right now then work to achieve it, but be sure to review it from time to time to make any necessary changes.

Are you struggling to achieve the balance you desire in your life right now? Would you like help working out if your career goals and aspirations are in alignment with your work-life balance goals? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to get a professional headshot today

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to get a professional headshot todayIf you think you don’t need a professional headshot in your line of work, think again. We regularly view professional social media and other profiles that include blurry or inappropriate photos, or even no photo at all. This situation directly impacts whether or not someone decides to reach out to you.

According to LinkedIn, profiles with photos are far more likely to receive connection requests than those without. I’ve also read countless articles that point to profiles with photos being viewed up to seven times more by potential contacts or recruiters than those without a photo.

If you can’t afford a professional photographer, we’ve put together some tips on how to achieve a professional result with no budget at all:

  • Enlist a friend or family member to help who is good at taking photos – preferably someone with a camera but a late model phone will also do. Avoid taking a selfie!
  • Put on some professional attire – whatever you’d wear to work is best – and make sure you’re well groomed. We’re taking a head and shoulders shot so don’t worry too much about what you’re wearing below the waist. Make sure you wear a different colour to the background to create a good contrast. For example, if the background is white, avoid wearing a white top or shirt.
  • Find a plain background with great natural lighting – use the natural light from a window for indoor shots, however, avoid standing directly in front of a window or anything too busy. Try different rooms to see which area works best.
  • Stand just far enough away – making sure your face is level with the camera so it’s not shooting up your nose, or down from above. It should be far enough away so that your head and top of shoulders are included in the shot. You don’t want your face filling the whole frame.
  • Smile and go for it – take lots of photos so you can pick the best shot. Try to look natural, open and friendly. Smiling photos are best so as to avoid the ‘mug shot’ look. In my experience, most people hate having their photo taken so my only advice is to stand in front of that camera, look directly at it and smile – then have your friend take lots of photos.
  • Pick the best one – save it and use it for all your work-related profiles and bios.

Of course, you could also enlist a professional photographer if your budget allows for it. A good quality headshot can be used for so many situations in your professional life – your email account, email signature, LinkedIn profile photo, Twitter and Facebook photo, company bio/website, personal website or portfolio, for guest blogging or article writing. So just go for it and once you have one be sure to update it every couple of years. 

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice. If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Counselling. We also have experienced writers who provide professional Resume and LinkedIn Profile writing services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.

6 quick tips to tailor your application for success

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 quick tips to tailor your application for successWe often tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals and any good sales person knows how important tailoring is for success. If you’ve been applying for jobs unsuccessfully, taking a more tailored approach to preparing your application might be a good place to start.

While we always recommend that our clients write a customised cover letter for each role, working to tailor your entire application is often something relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket. The process of tailoring your resume and/or LinkedIn profile can sound time consuming, but we challenge you to take a good look at your application and ask yourself (as the recruiter) ‘what’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role. If it doesn’t do that, you’re not giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

Before we start with the tailoring process, we are assuming you have a great resume in place already – a document that highlights who you are, identifies your key skills, and shows the value you have added in previous roles. If you haven’t already done that, then focus on that step first – see our previous article How to Write a Resume – Top 10 Tips to get started. Then, follow these simple steps to tailor your application for success:

  1. Do your research: The first step is research. Read the job ad and identify exactly what’s required. Highlight specific skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If the company is advertising directly, view their website, search the company name and find out if there is any news or company activity that may impact the job. Writing just one sentence in your cover letter referencing a current situation, challenge or opportunity the company is facing could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.
  2. Customise your career profile: We recommend including a good strong career profile as the first section in your resume. Your career profile should highlight what you bring to the role. It should clearly demonstrate your skills and past experience and highlight how they add value to an organisation. Most people see this section as fairly standard, however by customising the content to address specific individual job requirements, you’ll put yourself a step ahead. Make it personal, enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, and engaging – and clearly demonstrate to the recruiter how you’ll excel. This can also apply to your LinkedIn profile summary – we would take a similar approach to tailoring the content to ensure you’ve covered off the key skills and attributes required for the role. We don’t recommend doing this for every role, however if there is a role you’re applying for that mentions new or different skills (that you possess but aren’t covered effectively), you should work to incorporate them.
  3. Change your key capability list: Once you know the recruiter’s main priorities in terms of what they’re looking for in a candidate, you can customise your key capabilities to meet those needs. In its simplest form, this means re-ordering your ‘key capabilities and skills’. Get more involved by rewording those points and/or customising them to suit the role. Again, this also applies to LinkedIn so make sure you’ve covered off all the main areas within the ‘skills and endorsements’ section.
  4. Show your value: If a buyer can’t see the value in a product or service, they simply won’t buy it. Same goes for your job application. If you don’t offer the recruiter what they’re looking for, you won’t succeed. Your application needs to demonstrate to the recruiter how you are going to add value. This process is simple once you know their pain points because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important so spend time ensuring the content in your documents targets and addresses as many of the requirements of the role as you can. Use past successes and achievements to show how you’ve ‘added value’ in the past.
  5. Write a customised cover letter: We can’t stress enough how important this step is. Writing a customised cover letter is the simplest way for your application to stand out. If a recruiter receives 100 or so applications, how do you think they’re going to choose which ones to actually read in detail? Research has proven that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. Preparing a cover letter that highlights your key skills, experiences and past achievements that are highly relevant to the role you are applying for increases your chances significantly of getting noticed.
  6. Change your job history order: This is not something we recommend doing unless absolutely necessary because it can confuse the reader. However, where we would recommend doing this is if you have highly relevant experience in your past work history, where your recent roles and experience are not at all relevant. In this case, we recommend applicants make a new section which is included upfront and entitled “Relevant Employment History” then list the relevant job history. You would then move your recent and other roles to a section called “Other Employment History”. This ensures the recruiter sees your ‘relevant’ experience first but the title of the section will give insight into why that experience is not recent.

Preparing a tailored application for every role you apply for is something you should strongly think about making time for. While it might sound time consuming, the reward far outweighs the effort. You’ll end up with an application that screams ‘look at me’ to the recruiter and that is exactly the position you want to be in!

Are you interested in tailoring your application for improved success? Would you like some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.