Tag Archives: Career Choice

How to handle rejection

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to handle rejectionLearning how to handle rejection while job hunting is tough. You need commitment, effort and persistence to ensure success in today’s job market. With multiple avenues available to search for, apply and secure your role, not to mention the competition, it can be complex. As hard as it is, it’s an important part of the job search process and one you need to learn to manage.

Even though we are experiencing a fairly buoyant job market at the moment, our evidence from talking with clients on a daily basis suggests it can take at least six months, sometimes longer, to secure a new role. If you’re sending out application after application only to receive rejection letters (or worse, nothing), it’s easy to get disheartened.

Rejection is a normal part of the job-hunting process and will help you to learn, grow and move one step closer to the perfect role. Until you get there, here are some tips for keeping your spirits up during the search.

  • Don’t take it personally: It’s easy to take rejection personally. But remember there are usually a variety of factors that recruiters consider when making their decisions. In addition, there are often upwards of 100 applicants for a single role. It might just be a case of how well you stacked up against the other applicants on that occasion as opposed to your overall suitability for the role.
  • Don’t get bogged down: Negativity is pervasive and once you start those thoughts, it can be hard to get rid of them. Move on from any rejections or disappointments quickly and treat every application as a fresh new opportunity. Maintaining your positivity and enthusiasm will also help you perform better when you do land an interview.
  • Treat it like a job: Looking for a job is hard work! We suggest clients try to complete some job search tasks every day – whether that be networking with old colleagues, searching for jobs to apply for, talking to recruitment agencies, polishing your resume, or practising for an interview – do something constructive every day but make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.
  • Remember some things are not meant to be: No matter how perfect a job might seem at the time, I’m a big believer that if you don’t get it, then it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s often only in retrospect that we can clearly see that failure or rejection can make way for the best opportunity yet.
  • Don’t settle for second best: Stay focused – the longer you look, the more tedious the process can become. After a long period applying for jobs with few positive results, it can be tempting to lower our expectations and settle on anything, especially if you are keen to leave your current role. Remember that lowering your expectations is not the best approach for your career in the longer term, and you may just be right back where you’re at now in no time at all. Employers value signs of passion and determination, so reflect this in your application, even if you lack the experience.
  • Focus on your strengths: It’s important to be able to clearly and concisely articulate your value and the accomplishments you have made in an appealing way. If you have a good understanding of the areas you need to excel in to achieve the type of role you’re looking for, this process will be easier. Even though you didn’t get the job you thought was perfect – your skills and qualities will be perfectly suited to another company and position – it’s just a matter of talking about them with enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Improve your approach: If you’ve been at it for a while, take some time out to assess your progress. Are your resume, cover letter and application documents tailored for each role? Are the roles you’re applying for truly a good fit? Have you done any networking? What can you improve? Whether its rewriting your resume and cover letter, putting some time into your LinkedIn profile, or practising your interview skills – find ways to improve what you’re currently doing. If you’re applying for government roles, make sure you address the required selection criteria specifically how they’ve requested. The selection criteria process has evolved significantly over the past few years, so the approach you may have used previously might not be relevant now. For tips, refer to our previous articles on responding to selection criteria. For other improvement tips, see our articles on resume writing, LinkedIn, and interviews.
  • Ask for feedback: If you didn’t get the job following an interview, ask for some feedback. Many recruiters are happy to provide this. The reason why you didn’t get the job is often not what you think. This feedback can be used to assist in perfecting your next application or interview.
  • Learn new skills: If there are gaps in your skill set, think about taking a short course or volunteering for extra responsibilities in your current role. There are plenty of short (often free) courses available online that can fill a gap – some worth looking into are: Lynda, Alison, and MOOC.

In a competitive job market, landing an interview is a huge achievement. Learning to handle rejection is an important part of the job search process and learning how to not let it get you down is even more important. Acknowledge what you did well and understand some things are out of your control. Learn from every experience, then try to let it go and move on to the next application.

If you would like help in searching for your next role, please see our Job Search Coaching, Interview Training & Coaching, or Resume and Cover Letter Writing Services.

The future of work – will robots replace us all?

Article by Belinda Fuller

The future of work - will robots replace us all?

Digital technology has already reinvented the way people work but there’s more to come amidst a constantly changing technology landscape. As individual tasks increasingly become automated, jobs are being redefined and re-categorised but will robots eventually replace us? Or will we reach a point where people and machines work alongside each other?

With the concept of work changing at this ever-increasing pace and more individual tasks becoming automated through machines, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, jobs are being redefined. Some experts predict we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution with changes marked by mind boggling advances in digital, physical and biological technologies set to revolutionise our future.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear we need to develop new skills to keep pace with the change. Much of the research conducted on this topic suggests that robots won’t (and can’t) replace us altogether (at least not in our lifetimes). With many jobs lost to automation replaced by new ones, jobs aren’t being replaced at the rate some predicted several years ago. In fact, research commissioned by technology company Infosys and presented at the World Economic Forum last year revealed that 72% of workers whose jobs are effected by AI will be redeployed within the same area of their organisation (34%) or retrained for another area (38%).

What the research shows is that robotics and/or AI are being used to automate routine and mundane tasks, resulting in large scale reclassification of work. However, the resulting value of that automation means people are freed up to focus on higher value work that can only be done (at the moment) with human imagination. While new jobs are being created by AI, particularly in the field of robotics, it’s impossible to predict exactly where jobs will emerge and what skills will be needed.

Digital technology has already completely reinvented the way we work, however while many industries have activities with potential for complete automation, many do not. In addition, other factors will influence whether tasks will be automated completely or partially. These include the technical feasibility, costs involved, scarcity or abundance of existing skills to do the work, the costs of workers who would otherwise do the work, benefits beyond labour cost savings (such as improved performance), and regulatory and/or social acceptance considerations. We do know that workers involved in areas requiring more creative and imaginative skills will remain in demand. Examples include jobs where you need to: manage others and/or interact with stakeholders; apply expertise to make decisions or plan, create or innovate; complete physical work and operation of machinery in unpredictable environments; and many areas of healthcare and social assistance.

Skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, empathy, innovation and creativity, collaboration, leadership and a service focus are becoming more important. The ability for workers to be adaptable in developing new skills, and be willing and able to work along-side automation or machines will become more important. The flexibility to move to other areas will drive future success and this will largely fall to the individual to acquire these new skills or retrain in new areas.

If you are looking to advance your career, you may have already identified the areas you need to gain more experience; or the knowledge you need to develop in order to progress. With the future set to bring such staggering change and advancements – think about what areas you could develop more relevant skills in.

Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your career? If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

4 career lessons I learnt from my mum

Article by Belinda Fuller

Four career lessons I learnt from my mumDespite my mum never telling me that life was like a box of chocolates, I love this analogy because life really is a colourful mix of great and not so great that when put together is hopefully more good than bad! My mum always tried to focus on the positives and she continually reinforced four key messages that I think are great career lessons for anyone.

I didn’t always think my mum was wise, especially as a teenager! As a mum myself now, I often wonder if the guidance and support I’m providing my children is enough. It got me thinking about the lessons I’d learnt as a child and young person and how they influenced my career decisions later in life.

  1. Never look back: “The only time you should look back is to see how far you’ve come”. Dwelling on the ‘what could have been’ is no good for anyone and definitely a career killer. Focus on the future and what can be, rather than worrying about what you should have or could have done in the past. Commit to making some changes today that will impact on your future success.
  2. Always try your best: Every day, across almost every aspect of our lives, we have the option of ‘doing our best’ or being satisfied with something less. Regardless of the result, my mum was always more concerned about whether I’d tried my best. There will always be an excuse as to why you shouldn’t or didn’t give something your best effort, but when it comes to your career – it really does matter. If you’re not doing your best, then you’re operating at a lower level, you’re compromising your standards and you’re setting yourself up for consistent achievement of a lower level performance. So give it your all – with 100% effort (and no lies to yourself about the fact that you tried your best when really you didn’t), not giving up after just one attempt, and seeking help where you need it.
  3. Learn from your mistakes: Mistakes are made to teach us. We make mistakes every day, some that matter and some that don’t. The fact is, most mistakes are great learning opportunities – especially when it comes to your career. Mistakes can:
    • Help us determine what works and what doesn’t
    • Clarify what’s important in our life
    • Teach us how to tell the truth (by being honest about our failures)
    • Increase our capacity to change and grow
    • Help us take responsibility for our actions rather than shifting blame
    • Identify the need not to over-commit
    • Make us understand the importance of focus to achieve success.

So embrace your mistakes, and turn them into a learning opportunity – just try not to make the same mistake twice!

  1. Happiness is a journey: It’s not a destination that once reached is put aside. In philosophy, happiness translates from the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to ‘the good life’, or flourishing, rather than simply an emotion. In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being with positive or pleasant emotions. People often think they’ll be happy when they “lose the weight, get the job, are in a relationship, buy the car etc…” but this is often not the case. The fact is, happiness is a choice with different people approaching the same situations with vastly different attitudes. If you approach your situation with positivity, you will be happier. See our article Choosing to be happy at work for tips on workplace happiness.

There are many other life lessons that can be translated to career success – you can’t please everyone, money doesn’t buy happiness, you don’t always get what you want, there’s no shame in not knowing the answer, your health is more important than anything, and the list goes on. What did you learn growing up which has influenced your career success?

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Guidance Counselling or MBTI personality profiling.

Where are Australia’s biggest job opportunities?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Where are Australias biggest job opportunitiesAccording to the latest Manpower Group Employment Outlook Survey, many Australian employers report hopeful hiring intentions for the April-June time frame but the biggest emerging job opportunities right now are in the services sector. So what does this mean for job seekers?

Manpower Group conducts a quarterly survey of Australian companies that measures employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforces over the next quarter. To complete the second quarter 2017 survey, a sample of 1,511 employers in Australia were interviewed. All participants were asked “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the upcoming quarter in comparison to the current quarter?”

The good news for job seekers across Australia is that this latest survey reports predicted growth to staffing levels across all regions and industry sectors – but some stronger than others.

We’ve summarised the results below:

  • 15% of interviewed employers intend to increase headcount in the second quarter of 2017.
  • The majority (78%) of employers interviewed have no plans to hire in the second quarter of 2017.
  • While staffing levels are expected to grow in all eight regions during the period, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory report the strongest regional outlooks (+14%) with Western Australia the most cautious (+6%).
  • Compared to the same time last year, hiring plans have improved across seven of the eight regions, including Western Australia, where employers report a sharp increase of 21 percentage points. Victoria was the only state where employers reported a decline (two percentage points).
  • Employers in all seven industry sectors expect to grow payrolls during the quarter with the services sector representing the biggest opportunity for jobs in Australia at the moment. This sector is the strongest of all surveyed with a net employment outlook of +15%. The services quarterly outlook has jumped seven percentage points over the last 12 months.
  • Steady hiring activity is predicted in the Mining & Construction sector and the Transportation & Utilities sector (both with outlooks of +12%). Mining and Construction reported its strongest hiring plans since the fourth quarter of 2012.
  • Modest workforce gains are expected in the Manufacturing sector, with an Outlook of +8%, and in both the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector and the Public Administration & Education sector, where outlooks stand at +7%.
  • The most cautious sector outlook of +5% is reported by employers in the Wholesale Trade & Retail Trade sector.
  • The national Net Employment Outlook is +9%, unchanged since last quarter. However, this represents an annual net employment outlook growth of five percentage points. The Net Employment Outlook is calculated by subtracting the percentage of employers anticipating a decrease in hiring activity from those anticipating an increase in employment.

For more information, or to download the report visit the Manpower Group Employment Outlook or download the latest Employment Outlook survey.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice to help you decide which career path to follow, or industry to pursue? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. Please see our Career Coaching Services for more information.

Will your job exist in five years?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Will your job exist in five years?According to experts, many of the jobs we take for granted today may disappear sooner than we think. With rapid technological advancements, globalisation, increasing government regulatory demands, demographic and lifestyle modifications, the pace of change is rapid. So how can you predict whether your job will still exist in the future?

According to a report released by The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) on ‘The New Work Mindset’, there are new sets of skills required to thrive in the new world of work, as well as a need to shift our mindset around our approach to jobs, careers, and work. Other research conducted over several years indicates that the way we work is increasingly being affected by automation, globalisation and collaboration. So how do we keep pace with change, and how do we even predict if our jobs will exist in the future?

The professions most likely to not exist in the near future are those where automation and/or technology is having the biggest impact and human interaction is not necessarily required. These include bank tellers, secretaries and administrative staff, traditional retail and customer service roles, travel agents, print journalists, manufacturing/assembly line workers, toll booth operations, IT support workers, and other less obvious areas like mining where automation is having a huge impact on human interaction; and university lecturers due to the rise in online training.

While all of these professions may not exist in years to come, most experts predict that while we lose jobs in one area or another, they will most certainly be replaced with other jobs – with many of the jobs of the future not even existing today. For example, some research indicates that over the past 25 years, Australia has lost 1 million jobs in manufacturing, administration and labouring, but gained more than 1 million jobs across the knowledge and service industries.

The jobs that will remain, appear, and continue to grow in demand will almost certainly require human traits such as common sense, compassion and interpersonal interaction, communication, teamwork, problem solving, innovation and creativity, project management and planning, training others, research and analysis, and writing.

The industries with predicted growth include:

  • Health care workers – nurses, pharmacists, radiographers, physiotherapists, community health workers, paramedics
  • Medical staff – GP’s, specialists, surgeons, psychiatrists, dentists
  • Emergency services workers
  • Social workers
  • Beauty and massage therapists, make-up artists, fitness instructors
  • Teachers, childcare workers, special education teachers
  • Policy analysts, statisticians, economists, financial brokers
  • Solicitors, actuaries, market research analysts
  • HR advisors, organisational psychologists, OH&S advisors
  • Gallery or museum curators
  • Detectives
  • Programmers, software engineers, web developers, database administrators

According to the FYA report, jobs are more related than we may have previously realised – with the good news indicating that when you train to work in one job, you may actually be acquiring the skills to work in 13 other jobs (on average). That means the skills you acquire for a role that may no longer exist in the future, will most likely be able to be used in several other roles.

Are you unsure which career path to take or which course to study? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Coaching Services.

How to Change Your Career in 2017

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Change your Career in 2017 While we now know, a job for life is a thing of the past, changing careers is still a daunting prospect for most people. If you are in a position where you dread going to work each day or you feel trapped in an industry or company you despise, then you owe it to yourself to make it a priority to change your situation before it becomes desperate. Changing careers to achieve a more positive and enjoyable lifestyle takes courage and commitment, but it is possible – even in today’s uncertain job market.

However, in most cases you won’t simply be able to switch careers and expect the transition to be pain free. There are many things to consider before you jump ship. We’ve compiled a step by step guide that will help ensure you are ready for your next step – professionally, emotionally, and financially. Follow our guide, and you might just be facing the New Year with a new role and improved direction. 

  1. Think about why you want a career change – is it really your career you need to change or is it just your current role that isn’t satisfying? Make a list of your core strengths and weaknesses, then think about the things you like to do and those you don’t. Once you have completed your analysis, you can look outside your current role, industry, and/or company and try to determine what aligns with your strengths and likes. We often find clients who are great at what they do and are in a job that is seemingly a good fit for them, but the company they work for is not ideal. It is very important at this stage to understand where your issues actually lie before embarking on a career change. If it’s the job you dislike, then perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment could make you happier rather than a complete career change. If it’s certain aspects of your current role you dislike, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with slightly different responsibilities.
  2. Identify the direction you’d like to pursue – once you have decided that you do want to change careers, you need to think about where you’d like to head. If you have no idea, go back to your list of ‘likes’ and what you enjoy doing as well as what you’re good at. List your current skills, experience and education and think about how you might be able to transfer them to a different area. Research different careers using some of the numerous available online resources including those found in this month’s Useful Career Resources and Tools article. Identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed. Many people who come to us for Career Coaching Services don’t know what direction they want to head in but they can gain advice or confirmation that their interest in changing careers is valid and ideas on what direction they might be able to take. At this point, it is very important to involve other people – professionals, family, work colleagues you can trust – to help you identify and clarify your new direction. You could also consider taking a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment to better understand your personality type, which can help you to effectively identify and/or narrow down some new career choices.
  3. Decide how to make that change – from the overview you’ve developed, look at how you might be able to make a change. You may have a lot to consider before deciding if and when to make your transition, including financial, family and study considerations. Analyse your financial situation and how that could be affected. Think about further study required and how you could achieve that – find out whether some or all of it can be completed part-time while still working. Think about the fact that many careers look great to an outsider, but the reality of the day to day job isn’t so interesting. Investigate opportunities for volunteer work to help you gain the experience you need. Seek out and talk to people already working in your area of interest to gain a better understanding of their opinions and experiences to help you become more informed.
  4. Look to the future – when considering any career change, it is important not to dwell on the past and worry about how many years you’ve ‘wasted’ in a career you loath. Many people who’ve spent years working towards a career or role they longed for at a younger age are reluctant to ‘throw it all in’ but focus on the years you have left ahead of you and how your unhappiness working in a role you dislike will affect the rest of your life. Conversely, simply walking away from a career that you aren’t happy with isn’t always the answer either. Sometimes, changing small things can help. Taking up a hobby or volunteering in an area that you’re passionate about can change your mindset and give you something to look forward to. Likewise, seeking out a similar role in a different company or industry can often be the answer.

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

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to determine whether or not changing careers is a viable next step for you? If so, please see our Career Coaching Services.

Surprising things that make a good candidate

Article by Belinda Fuller

Surprising Things That Make a Good CandidateGreat candidates come in all shapes and sizes. Just because you have a raft of qualifications and/or experience in a certain area doesn’t mean you’re an ideal candidate for every role that interests you. The problem is complex when fewer roles are advertised, and more and more applicants (often 100+) are applying for each role. So how can you stand out and catch the recruiter’s attention?

Lately, I am coming across more clients wanting to change careers for a variety of different reasons. Many of these clients would like to de-stress their lives and are seeking what they consider, a less stressful role. Whilst most of these clients are well qualified and highly experienced in their current field, I often get the impression they think they’ll be a certainty for those ‘lesser’ roles they’re applying for. The problem with this thought process is that the recruiter doesn’t see it that way. There are many reasons for this – not least of which is that you just don’t have the same level of experience in THAT particular area as other candidates might have.

One of my recent clients was a qualified lawyer who had been working in private practice for about ten years and had built up an impressive array of experience and skills. For personal reasons, this client was seeking a lower to mid-level administration role. In her words, she felt she’d be able to do these roles ‘standing on her head’. She had already applied for a number of roles she thought suited her well but hadn’t received any feedback. The problem stemmed from her Resume not addressing many (if any) of the requirements of roles she was applying for. She felt her legal expertise and experience spoke for itself and would be jumped at by recruiters looking for someone to take on an administrative role. However this just wasn’t the case. We talked about realigning her existing skills and thinking about her legal experience in the context of the roles she was applying for so she became more competitive with the other candidates who had current administration specific experience. Once her Resume was tweaked and targeted, she began to gain some traction with interviews.

So what are some of the surprising things that might make you a good candidate – particularly if you’re heading in a new direction?

Uniqueness: Ask yourself why you’re the best candidate for the job and cover off those reasons in your application. If you’re low on experience in the actual field you’re applying in (even if you have what you believe is higher level experience) think about your transferrable skills and how they’ll contribute to your success. Read our previous article on Why transferable skills matter for tips on identifying and articulating those skills.

Value Add: know how you add value. Talking about your achievements is essential in a Resume and application, but quantifying how you add value is even more important. Using quantifiable numbers and data is the best approach, however if you honestly can’t do that there are other ways to demonstrate your worth. Using the STAR approach to identify and articulate your value is a great place to start.

Social Media Links: recruiters will search for you on social media, so including your links saves them time and shows openness and professionalism. You should include LinkedIn, and any work related Blogs, but avoid Facebook and other personal social media pages. See our article Want the job? Audit your online profile for tips on social media content.

Career Breaks: most candidates are determined to hide career breaks, but this needn’t be the case. Many recruiters see career breaks as an essential part of the career development process. So long as you can show that you didn’t lie around on the couch all day – it can be seen as a valuable, personally, and professionally fulfilling time. Leaving a job to travel can show that you’re not afraid of change, that you’re independent, and comfortable with unfamiliar situations. Experiences like volunteer work, study, or other worthwhile pursuits can demonstrate your good character and could attract the recruiter’s interest.

Volunteer Work and Side Projects: If you’re using your spare time to help others, develop a side business, or work on developing some kind of unique skill set, this can also be of interest. Volunteering is also a great approach if you’re finding it hard to break into a new area – by volunteering in a role that exposes you to the type of work you’re seeking, you can start to develop some of the new skills that might be required.

Failures: Huh?? Yes, failures! Perhaps not an item for your Resume, but certainly something to think about for the interview. Learning from your mistakes and being able to talk about them openly and frankly is a great asset for any candidate. Employers are interested in hearing about new things you’ve tried and how you learnt from your mistakes if things didn’t go exactly to plan. This can demonstrate a proactive approach and willingness to innovate – attractive traits for any good employee.

Don’t be afraid of using specific examples and details of accomplishments and achievements to show your successes. Employers want to see that information – in a cluttered market, having details about the value you added in previous roles, helps them to visualise you as a good candidate and might mean the difference between you being selected for an interview or not.

Would you like some help identifying your key assets and understanding what might make you a more impressive candidate for your next application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

Alternative pathways to achieving your dream career

Article by Belinda Fuller

Alternative Pathways to Achieving Your Dream CareerIf you’re someone who’s always known what you want to be when you grow up – think yourself lucky! Not many people have a childhood passion that leads them directly to their dream career. For most people, figuring out what to do can be a confusing and frustrating process. There are endless options and countless considerations. However, these days the path to that dream career isn’t necessarily straightforward.

Figuring out what to do for the rest of our lives can be daunting. It can be especially so for new school leavers focused on their final year and thinking about what to do when they leave. The options are endless – but what should you consider? Should you choose a practical job that provides stability, a good career path and great pay prospects? Or should you follow your passions and choose a career based on something you love?

Following your passions can mean amazing success, but can also come at a cost – it usually involves some level of risk, overcoming fears and judgement by others (often parents), and maybe planning for some kind of fall-back position. As an alternative, many people are happy to indulge their passions on a part-time or ‘leisure only’ basis, while working in a steadier job that earns them their living. This can be just as hard a path to take – with the ‘safe’ option often leading to unhappiness or discontent down the track. If you’re still trying to figure out your dream career, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What activities do I enjoy?
  2. What are my interests?
  3. What am I good at, what are my strengths?
  4. What do I value the most – creativity or stability?
  5. How do I define success – happy, rich, working hard, etc.?

Then brainstorm related jobs. Now could be a great time to enlist the help of a career consultant who can provide an independent perspective in achieving your dream career potential. Career consultants often use formal assessment tools to better understand where your interests, values and personality traits lie in order to identify the careers, industries and work environments that best suit you. Once you have a list of potential careers, do some research to find out more – what qualifications are required, how competitive is the job market, what shape is the industry in, what salary could you earn, what is the potential progression, is it stable, what are the normal work hours, where are roles located and will you need to travel etc.

So what’s next? If you need to go to university but didn’t achieve the required ATAR, alternate pathways are becoming more popular – allowing you to work while studying, take time off after you leave school before starting university, or even combine local and overseas study. Most qualifications can also be pursued at any time throughout your life with just about any course available via part-time, full-time, online, distance or on campus options, or in varying combinations of them all. The three most common alternative pathways to university study are:

  1. Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) – this test assesses students’ knowledge in various areas considered to be important in tertiary study. Unlike Year 12 qualifications, STAT questions are not purely academic, so if you’re keen on a specific course but didn’t do well in Year 12, you could still have a good chance at gaining entry.
  1. Registered Training Organisations (RTO) – including TAFE and other private RTOs which provide different levels of flexibility and/or course content.
  1. Indigenous Australian Uni-Entry Programs – offered by many Australian universities, and designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who missed out on their university course by only a few ATAR scores. Each university has their own set of requirements and unique programs (with differing names) for eligibility so make contact directly to enquire.

In addition to achieving your dream career through study, you may just need experience that you simply don’t have without actually getting the job! We have several suggestions to get around this situation including:

  • Volunteering: or completing an internship (paid or unpaid) could be especially important if your career area is very competitive. Even if you have to work for free, dedicating this time can pay off – many companies employ interns that show promise at the end of their term, but even if you don’t receive a job offer, you will gain some experience that you can add to your resume.
  • Networking: with people you’d like to work for, and at local community, or relevant industry events. You may not land your dream job because of your networking, but it could help you get an interview or introduction that you may not have otherwise.
  • Identifying transferrable skills and achievements: it can be a challenge when you don’t have the ‘listed experience required’ but here’s where you need to think creatively. Identify your transferrable skills and demonstrate why they matter. Show the employer how valuable you are by listing previous achievements. Read our other article this month on How to Identify Your Most Important Employability Factors for tips.
  • Showcasing your work: if it’s a creative field you’re trying to break into, a portfolio is a particularly good idea. But it can also apply to other sectors as well. For example, as a writer – start a blog or write some sample articles or content. As a graphic designer – create some designs to show potential employers. As a service provider – volunteer your services for free for family or friends and document the process and outcomes to build your portfolio.

There are many ways to achieve your dream career which don’t necessarily follow the traditional path. It’s important to be open and flexible when selecting your path to success. Don’t be afraid of change or taking an alternative route to achieve the success you desire.

Would you like assistance finding your ideal career so you can enjoy every day? Our Career Counsellors and Career Advisors can provide you with Career Guidance and Career Coaching Services to help you find your dream career.

5 steps to creating a portfolio career

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 Steps to Creating a Portfolio CareerMore than just a bunch of part-time jobs, portfolio careers are becoming more and more common as people seek to improve their work-life balance and increase overall career and job satisfaction. Many people are finding that juggling two, three or even four jobs can be much more fulfilling and rewarding than holding down one traditional full-time role.

Amongst my group of friends and acquaintances, I’ve noticed the rise in people building their career doing a variety of jobs for a range of different clients or companies. While a portfolio career is similar to freelancing, it’s not quite the same. Whereas freelance work revolves around doing the same, or a similar thing for different clients on an ongoing basis, a portfolio career usually involves a mix of longer term part-time roles that might include some freelance or contract work. It can suit many different types of people, for example, those looking for opportunities post-redundancy, people wanting to become self-employed but with some stability from one or two part-time roles, people looking to pursue something creative that may not pay well initially, people transitioning into retirement, or those looking to start an entirely new career.

It can also suit different industries, for example, you could be a Human Resources Manager with a part-time job working for a small business, a casual teaching or lecturing role at University or TAFE, and a writer for an industry publication.

Some of the benefits of having a portfolio career include:

  • Flexibility – to utilise your unique skills and develop different areas of interest. It might also provide opportunities to explore new avenues far easier than if you are holding down a full time job, as well as being able to pursue self-employment opportunities without the risk of going it alone completely.
  • Independence – to create your own career on your terms, managing your time with family needs or other personal interests.
  • Freedom – to pursue your passions and choose to work doing what you want to do, rather than what the job requires.
  • Variety – and less monotony in your day to day work.
  • Opportunity – in tight job markets, the availability of full-time jobs might fall in certain sectors, with some companies embracing part-time or contract roles as a viable solution. A multitude of part-time jobs might provide the answer.

So how can you create a portfolio career?

STEP # 1: learn about the pros and cons by talking to others or doing some research. While a portfolio career can sound inviting with all that variety and flexibility, for many people, it may just create more stress as a result of having to manage different roles, time involvements, and income sources.

STEP # 2: understand your financial situation and work out how much money you need to feel secure. Try to give yourself a financial buffer for times when income drops. Remember that part-time workers’ hours can often change with little notice, and if you’re freelancing or consulting you need to be constantly identifying new projects and income sources.

STEP # 3: identify your unique skills and attributes. Ask yourself what you have to offer, how will you deliver it, and who will want it – but more importantly who will pay for it and will you be happy doing it?

STEP # 4: once you’ve embarked on your new career, manage your time effectively to ensure you’re not working harder – just smarter. Juggling multiple jobs can be tricky if you’re not organised, so create efficient systems and rules around time spent on each vocation.

STEP # 5: learn some sales and networking strategies, especially if part of your income needs to come from consulting or freelance opportunities. If you don’t have permanent part-time roles, don’t underestimate the time you need to spend on business development activities which are usually ‘non-earning’.

Most people have different sides to them and a portfolio career could be just the approach you need to ensure you gain more fulfilment and satisfaction from your career, while addressing other areas such as freedom, flexibility and independence.

Are you interested in pursuing a portfolio career? Not sure where to start or what skills you need to develop? Our Career Counsellors and Career Advisors can help! Please see our Career Coaching and Career Guidance Services for more information.


5 benefits of having a career mentor

Article by Belinda Fuller

5 Benefits of Having a Career MentorWhile often thought of as mostly valuable at the start of your career or when deciding what you want to do with your career, a career mentor can add significant value right throughout your career. A career mentor can guide and support you to achieve your career goals – whether you’re just starting out or further down the track.

At the beginning of your career, it’s certainly a great idea to find a mentor to help you navigate through these formative years. In addition, the stress of changing careers later on, or the complacency that some people feel after being in the same role for several years, can also be a great time to engage a career mentor.

Learning from someone who has been successful in your field of interest helps improve your confidence and will often provide you with some great strategies to deal with the challenges you might face along the way. So what are the primary benefits?

1. Learning from Real Life Experience: A career mentor will provide you with valuable advice and insight into their own personal journey in the field that you have chosen. They can help you identify skills and expertise you need to develop further – and either teach you or advise you on how best to gain what you need. Mentors can also provide a good perspective on what they may have done differently given the chance. They will share tips on how they overcame any obstacles or challenges they faced along their road to success.

2. Connections: In addition to insight from your mentor’s personal experiences, you could also benefit from their vast network of connections. If your mentor doesn’t have experience with a particular problem you are facing, they will most likely be able to talk with someone who has. In addition, contacts introduced to you by your mentor could provide an opportunity to build your own network. These connections could also help you in the future – by providing a potential business partner opportunity or even a future job lead.

3. Sounding Board: A mentor provides a great ‘safe’ place to bounce off ideas and help you decide which way to go in certain situations. They can also make suggestions that could help you to refine your ideas and provide more efficient or effective ways of achieving desired business outcomes – mentors can often save you from ‘reinventing the wheel’ unnecessarily.

4. Increase Energy & Interest: One surprising benefit of a mentor is to increase your drive to achieve in your current organisation and excite you to pursue your chosen career. Mentors can help you overcome boredom or complacency to explore new and exciting ways to contribute to your current organisation’s success and thus increase your interest in your day to day work. They may also suggest ways to increase your involvement in activities outside of your organisation that will contribute to your career success in the future.

5. Advance Your Career: A mentor helps you stay focused on your career and improve your skills, networks, self-confidence, and ultimate success along the path in developing your career. They help you to learn about yourself and work out how and where you should be headed to achieve an optimum outcome.

Mentoring will teach you what education, books and websites cannot. A mentor will help you identify areas for improvement, establish connections, and create opportunities. It’s up to you as to how hard you want to push yourself, but the insights you can gain about yourself and your chosen field from a passionate and experienced mentor can give you an unprecedented edge over others in developing your career.

Would you like help deciding whether you would benefit from a Career Mentor? Not sure where to go to identify one? If so, our Career Advice and Career Counselling Services can help! Please see our Career Coaching page for more information.