Tag Archives: career development

How to use your work commute time more effectively

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to use your work commute time more effectivelyIf you rely on public transport to get to and from work, you might be a little over it. Likewise sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or more isn’t much fun either. But using this time to help you gain back a little time later in the day, or help improve your productivity, or even your mood is achievable.

In this month’s article, we look at some simple strategies you could easily incorporate into your daily commute to help improve your productivity and/or mood.

  1. Write your to-do list: If you like being organised and you work well with lists, getting organised before you arrive at work is a great start to your day. If you’re catching public transport this is simple. If you’re driving, you can use one of the many voice recording apps out there to get your notes onto your phone. Evernote has a voice recording function, as do many other ‘organising’ apps. Use whatever method works best for you.
  2. Clear your inbox: Again if you’re on the bus or train, this is easy – getting rid of all the junk emails and dealing with any ‘easy responses’ during your commute means when you arrive at the office you can get stuck into the more complex work. If you’re driving, there are apps that can help. For example, Speaking Email provides a simple interface designed to let you safely listen to your emails while driving. It reads them out loud to you and provides voice command functionality that lets you archive, flag or instantly reply while you’re on the go.
  3. Listen up: Check out the latest podcast or audiobook. I’m very late to the party here, but I’ve recently discovered podcasts and think it’s a great way to spend my commute. It’s better than spending more time staring at my screen, and for drivers it’s a great way to pass time in traffic. You can choose podcasts that entertain, inform or teach. Ask around for suggestions on what other like-minded people are into, research the many podcast review lists on the web, or check out the ‘featured’ and ‘top charts’ within the podcast app for currently trending podcasts.
  4. Draft emails or reports: I’m not a huge fan of emailing from my phone – I just need a bigger screen, but I don’t mind sending those quick one or two liners from my phone (See tip 2). What I do love using my commute for is drafting those longer, more difficult responses that need some level of thought. I’ll often draft these emails during my commute then review and send once I’ve arrived at the office. Doing this often significantly improves your content since you’ve had time to think about it. That final review before you hit send usually brings out the best and most articulate content!
  5. Keep up to date: These days there is so much content to stay on top of – whether it’s news about your company, your industry, your clients or competitors, or simply staying on top of local current affairs – there’s lots of it. Add to that all the personal interest content you’d like to read or videos you’d like to watch and you can easily feel overwhelmed. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a list as long as your arm of articles you’d like to read and content you’d like to watch. Use your commute time to make a dent.
  6. Take note of successes: This is a great tip for staying on top of your career. When it comes time to look for a new role, or ask for a pay rise or promotion – you’ll need more than just a list of skills and experience. You need specialist expertise and you need to know your value. Use your commute time to keep track of your accomplishments and especially all those little wins (because you will forget them over time). Take note of accolades, positive feedback, outstanding results, and training completed. Use driving time to think about this and jot them down as soon as you get to work.
  7. Get your social media fix: It’s a time waster for sure, so resist the urge for mindless scrolling through your feeds and notifications while you’re at work by doing it during your commute (especially on the way home from work when your energy levels are probably at their lowest).
  8. Increase your activity: Depending on how far away your work is, consider walking, riding or even running to work – or at least part of the way. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away.
  9. Read a book: Using your commute time for ‘work stuff’ to ensure you’re more productive later is great, but simply picking up a book (or e-book) that you’ve been wanting to read is also a good idea. If you’ve lost interest in fiction as a result of all the online noise, make an effort to re-discover a book for pleasure during your commute (try an audio book if you’re driving).
  10. Chill out: In our increasingly busy lives, who said that being productive is the most effective use of time? Most of us need to spend more time relaxing. Use your commute as a time to just be present and clear your mind. If you find that hard, you could try one of the many meditation and mindfulness apps available, which can help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. Some of the most popular include: Headspace, InsightTimer, and Calm.

Unless you want to move closer to your workplace or can somehow work from home – commuting to work is the reality for most people. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – use the time wisely and your mood and productivity will likely improve.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Guidance 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.

How to make a lasting first impression

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to make a lasting first impressionBuilding a network to become a valuable working asset is a key component of your future career success. So how do you turn those people you meet at industry events or conferences into strong connections that help you (and them) succeed in the future? Many people we talk to don’t have a problem meeting people – it’s the staying in touch in a meaningful way that they struggle with.

So you’ve just met a new contact at an event and you really hit it off – your like-mindedness on so many issues was surprising and refreshing. You exchange business cards or details and mention you’ll keep in touch. If you’re like most people, following that exchange, nothing much will ever come of it. Sure, if you run into them again, you’ll strike up a conversation, perhaps picking up where you left off, however in terms of creating any meaningful or long lasting relationship, following through on that initial meeting falls short.

Here’s a few quick tips on what to do to significantly expand your contacts and start to build a network that’s valuable for your career.

  • Be interesting AND interested: If you’re meeting someone for the first time and you are truly interested in learning about them – this will show. While it’s good to have something to offer in terms of advice or support, often when you meet someone for the first time professionally, simply being interested in them and what they do will have a positive and lasting impression. If you’re genuine in your interest about who they are and what they’re doing, your conversation and connection will often flow more easily.
  • Take notes: After meeting someone new, take some brief notes about your exchange and include both personal and professional information if you can. It’s a great idea to do this straight away while all those details are fresh in your mind because once life gets in the way, you won’t remember them. Store your notes anywhere that works for you – a list on your phone, in Outlook, under your phone contacts, in a purpose built database, on the back of their business card, in your diary or you could use one of the many purpose built tools out there like Evernote – whatever works best for you. You’ll be able to use that information to strike up a future conversation or reach out for a catch up when it feels right. If it feels appropriate, send them a short email thanking them for their time and mentioning how much you enjoyed the conversation. You could also suggest a future catch-up time (then set a reminder to follow up so you don’t forget).
  • Use LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the best tool for professional networking. As soon as you get back to your office, send your new connection a request to connect and include a short personalised message about your time together. Doing this makes it very easy to stay in touch in a personal but non-pressured way. You can comment or like their updates, share articles and announcements you think they might be interested in, or even send personal messages where it’s warranted.
  • Schedule a catch-up: It’s great to meet someone, get along, take notes and connect with them on LinkedIn but if you want to keep in touch and develop that relationship further – schedule a catch-up. Ideally you’d wait a couple of months before touching base. Contact could be in a variety of ways – examples include sending them a friendly email asking how they are; sharing a link to an article you think they might be interested in and suggesting you get together; specifically inviting them to meet up for coffee (don’t forget to remind them how you met and what you had in common in case they’re not as organised as you!); or use an upcoming industry event as an excuse to connect.

While networking is about meeting people, it’s also about making meaningful connections and developing lasting relationships that can help you (and them) with future career goals.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also offer LinkedIn Profile Writing Services with experienced writers who can help you connect with like-minded industry experts and ensure your profile sets you apart from your competitors.

 

The skills to develop today to succeed tomorrow

Article by Belinda Fuller

The skills to develop today to succeed tomorrowThe future of work is changing rapidly. Industries are shrinking, jobs are vanishing, and professional skills are evolving faster than ever before. 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. How can we keep pace with change to ensure future career success?

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 – we’ve identified some of the skills we think will be important for individuals to succeed.

  1. Complex problem-solving skills – in our rapidly changing world, problems are becoming more complex and harder to solve due to incomplete, contradictory or ever-evolving trends, requirements and threats. Problems that we have never seen before are cropping up more often, so people who can think innovatively to identify viable solutions will be in demand.
  2. Critical thinking – this can be defined as the objective analysis of facts to form a judgement. Often the subject is complex and requires analysis or evaluation of vast amounts of information. In today’s ‘information age’, data is available everywhere – with companies collecting huge amounts of data about everything their customers do on a day-to-day basis. Being able to leverage and effectively utilise this information for competitive advantage is a key skill to have.
  3. Creativity & Innovation – competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done probably won’t cut it any longer. Having the ability to think outside the box to achieve success is a top skill to possess.
  4. Collaboration – working well with others and appreciating the input from different team members is essential in today’s work environment. Human interaction in the workplace will become more and more important as computers and robots take over certain tasks. Being able to work together to leverage individual’s strengths while being aware of any weaknesses and adapting to address these will be important.
  5. Leadership – regardless of how much an organisation and its day-to-day operations become ‘automated’, employees will remain at the heart. Being able to develop strong relationships with employees and successfully lead teams to success is important. Listening carefully to understand concerns; identifying ways you can help them become more efficient, effective and enthusiastic; and developing and maintaining strong ongoing professional relationships is key. Good leaders consistently provide support and show their team they are there for them. It is more vital than ever for future leaders to know how to motivate teams, maximise productivity and respond quickly and effectively to needs.
  6. Service orientation – digitisation, technological advancements, and increasing competition means customers will be picky – and rightly so. Customers have the ability to choose who they do business with and the capacity to change as often as they desire. It’s no longer as difficult as it once might have been to switch suppliers or move to a different brand. People who make the customer experience their priority, anticipate what customers need, and design products and solutions to meet those needs, will be in demand.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear that we all need to develop new skills if we’re going to keep up with, and hopefully ahead of, all the changes. Achieving success in your career is an ongoing process and something you can constantly work on. Some of the skills we’ve talked about are ingrained, but more often than not, the skills and traits needed to succeed can be learnt.

These are just some of the many skills we think might be required for future career success. 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.

How to boomerang back to an old employer

Article by Belinda Fuller

 

How to boomerang back to an old employerThe concept of boomerang employees – or re-hiring ex-employees is not new, but it is on the rise. According to recent research, HR professionals are more open than ever before to re-hiring former employees. In the past, this practice was sometimes frowned upon – even if the employee had left on good terms – but now it’s becoming more and more common – and with good results for both employers and employees.

With this practice on the rise both in Australia and around the world – it’s worth considering as a viable option for your next role. Many companies that had to retrench workers in previous years are starting to increase their capacity again as business continues to improve. There are benefits to both employee and employer, but a few things worth considering.

Maintain Relationships

Firstly, as a boomerang employee, you have to maintain good relationships with your previous company and colleagues. This means ensuring any split is amicable and then making sure you keep in touch with colleagues and bosses (LinkedIn makes this easy). When you leave a job, do so on good terms by remaining professional and positive about your reasons for leaving. Draft a professional letter explaining your reasons and what you plan, then try to provide some positive comments about your experience. For smaller companies, a more personal approach might be better – think about sitting down with fellow team members or colleagues to explain your reasons for leaving. If your company conducts exit interviews, endeavour to remain upbeat – if this isn’t possible keep your answers short and simple.

Ensuring a Good Fit

Before making any decision to re-join an ex-employer, consider the reasons why you left and investigate whether they still exist. Likewise, make sure the things you loved about the role and/or company still exist. If you left to grow your skills in other areas, study or travel – your new skills will be attractive to a former employer. Not only do you know the company, but now you have an added level of competency they can leverage.

Sell Yourself

If you are approaching a former employer about returning back, be sure to have a goal in mind and then be honest with them about what it is you’d like. Try to communicate your new skills, competencies and experiences and how that would help the company in the future. They may not have something open currently, however if you articulate your new skills and/or direction they can keep you in mind for future roles – perhaps thinking of you in broader professional terms than how they saw you previously. If you’re after a more senior level role than the one you left, articulate the reasons why you think you’d be successful by incorporating examples of relevant accomplishments you’ve made in the role(s) since you left.

Remain Professional

While the whole process of being employed at a previous employer may be far less formal than if you were a new employee, don’t become complacent. Remain professional and focused and be prepared to go through the same selection process as others. The questions you get asked may be a little different and focus around your reasons for wanting to re-join, any new skills you will bring and how they’re relevant, what immediate benefits you might achieve for the company, and your thoughts on what will stop you from leaving again.

Becoming a boomerang employee has plenty of benefits for both the company and the employee. Employers benefit from someone who knows the business, culture and processes and this is a huge saving – both in time and the cost of getting someone up to speed. For employees, the knowledge and contacts you have puts you in a great place to ‘hit the ground running’ and achieve some quick wins in your new role.

Are you considering returning to an ex-employer? Would you like help from one of our professional resume writers to prepare a winning Resume that clearly articulates your value? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services. Perhaps you’ve secured some interest and would like help preparing for the interview? If so, please see our Interview Skills Training service.

7 ways you know you’re doing a great job

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 ways you know you're doing a great job

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

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

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

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

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

How to join the freelance revolution

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 tips for professional behaviour

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do now to ensure your next pay rise

Article by Belinda Fuller

What to do now to ensure your next pay riseHappy new year. Welcome back. Hope you enjoyed a nice break. Wait, what? How is it March already? Have you thought about your 2017 pay rise yet? Maybe you just completed a whole review process and the mere thought of going through it again is too exhausting to even consider. However, in order to ensure the outcome you deserve, planning early and establishing a few simple strategies will lay the groundwork for success down the track.

Simply thinking you deserve a pay rise and maybe even asking for, or suggesting it outright might not be enough to get what you are after. To ensure success, you should take some time to build a strong case that demonstrates why you deserve it. Laying the ground work and preparing throughout the year can help you achieve a successful outcome once the time comes to broach the subject. Alternatively, if you’re under-prepared, the experience can be awkward and ineffective.

Your strategy for achieving a pay rise should focus on providing proof of why you deserve it.

Step 1 – Define success. Have a conversation with your manager or supervisor early in the year to discuss what success means to them. For some people’s roles, especially those that don’t have quotas or defined KPIs, success is sometimes subjective. Sitting down and defining what you need to achieve over the next year is a great first step. Write this down and gain agreement from your manager – a quick email confirming the conversation you had is all that’s required.

Step 2 – Record your accomplishments. Continually striving for excellence in your role is the best way to achieve success. But don’t forget to maintain an up-to-date record of achievements as they happen throughout the year – this should include formal performance evaluations, customer thank you or commendation letters and awards, as well as details of all your major and minor wins and successes. Casual comments from colleagues, superiors and customers could be included, as well as details of new systems or processes you implemented or initiated, and tangible victories such as productivity improvements, new customer wins, revenue and/or profit gains.

Step 3 – Know your market value. Do some research to find out what people in a similar role to you earn. Knowing what you’re worth in the outside market is the best way to demonstrate your value to your employer. Make sure to reference your sources and perhaps have examples of recent job ads to prove what you’re saying is true.

Step 4 – Plan your approach. Review your accomplishments before preparing an outline of the conversation you’d like to have with your manager. It’s a great idea to practise what you’re going to say but don’t be afraid to take notes with you, so you remember to cover off all the important points without becoming flustered.

Step 5 – Maintain professionalism. Have the information on hand in order to answer questions and delve into more detail if necessary. Try to relax and present a confident, businesslike approach (preparation will help here). Respond to your manager’s questions and comments in as much detail as required. Acknowledge positive feedback and try not to disagree with any negative feedback – instead use this as an opportunity to gain input into what you could have done better. After presenting your facts, ask for your pay rise outright. State what you feel you deserve based on your achievements and successes. It’s often a better idea to state a range – saying ‘I think I’m worth X’ doesn’t carry as much weight as ‘my recent research indicates that someone in my position typically earns between X and Y’. You could also mention that you’d like to be in the upper end of that range.

Step 6 – Accept the outcome. Accepting the outcome with positivity and grace regardless of the result is important. If your request is rejected, make sure to ask for specific feedback on how you can prepare for a more successful outcome next time, and possibly get agreement on a review time that is sooner than 12 months.

Asking for a pay rise can be a difficult subject for many people to broach, however preparation will ensure the best possible outcome. This shouldn’t be a one off or irregular event either – take some time to regularly review and assess your career status and progress against your goals every 12-18 months.

Would you like help developing a career strategy that puts you on the right trajectory for success? If so, please see our Career Guidance and Career Coaching Services.

Best ways to use your gap year

Article by Belinda Fuller

Best Ways To Use Your GAP YearWhere traditionally taking a gap year has been largely the domain of other cultures, Australians are now embracing it in ever increasing numbers. If you’re not really sure what you would like to do at the end of Year 12 or you don’t get into the course you were keen to complete, it might be a good idea to take a gap year. But it’s important not to be idle.

Taking a gap year means taking 12 months off between finishing high school and starting further study or training. Many Australian students are now deciding to defer their university offer for a year, or simply take a year off to gain more clarity around what they’d like to do.

This trend has led to a new industry. If you do a web search for ”gap year Australia”, nearly 8 million results pop up, with new programs being constantly developed covering everything from backpacking and holidaying in Australia and internationally, to working abroad opportunities, adventure tours, volunteering in remote communities locally and overseas, and even jobs with the military.

If you’re not sure what to do at the end of Year 12, you might like to consider taking a gap year. It can be a great idea for many reasons, some of which include:

  • If you’re not really sure what you want to do for a career
  • If you just want to take a break from studying
  • If you’re keen to travel and see more of Australia or the world
  • If you didn’t get into the specific course you were hoping for
  • If you want to gain skills and experience in the area you’d like to study – a ‘try before you buy’ approach to ascertain whether you’re really going to like it
  • If you want to make some money before undertaking further study

If you do decide to take a gap year, it’s important to give it some purpose and structure. There are plenty of things you could do, including undertaking activities that might support your job prospects down the track, or gaining some experience in the area that you would like to study. Here are some ideas:

  • Get a job: Working gives you valuable life skills and experience. Even if the job isn’t within the specific area you’d like to study in the future, a combination of formal study and some work experience is often more appealing to potential future recruiters. Of course, work experience in the area that you’re looking to study is better, so if there aren’t any opportunities for paid employment without previous training – investigate volunteer or unpaid work experience opportunities as well.
  • Travel: If you’ve saved up enough money, you could travel overseas or take a trip within Australia. To get the most out of your trip, and fund it at the same time, you could spend some time working while being a tourist. A UK based organisation that is currently catering to the rising demand of people taking gap years and wanting to participate in adventure travel is Real Gap Experience – with experiences ranging in length from two weeks to two years. Real Gap Experience have sent over 50,000 people on adventures to over 35 countries. Opportunities include volunteer work, paid work experience, teaching abroad or simply travelling around the world.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering is another great way to learn new skills while making a contribution to the community. There are many different volunteering options – including those overseas or within remote or outback areas of Australia. Check out the Seek Volunteer site which was created to provide an effective meeting place in Australia to connect volunteers with opportunities. There are currently around 700 organisations registered with several thousands of jobs covering a diverse range of locations, causes and areas of focus.
  • Go on a student exchange: Many countries offer recent school leavers the chance to attend school and live with a host family. These opportunities provide a unique experience where you’re not a tourist or guest – you live like a local with your host family and become immersed in the culture as a member of the local community while learning a new language (if applicable) and gaining valuable international experience. There are countless overseas study programs that can be undertaken. Student Exchange is an Australian organisation focused on helping students navigate the myriad of options and choices.
  • Make the most of it: Finally, a gap year can be a way to experience things you never have before, or wouldn’t as a student in Australia. Whether you take the opportunity to have a study break, or use it as a time to develop skills to support your future studies and/or job prospects, it can be a memorable and valuable time, and contribute significantly to your longer term career aspirations.

Do you think you’d like to take a gap year? Are you unsure which career path to take or which course to study? If so our Career Advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Coaching Services.

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.