Tag Archives: Job Application

How to choose the right keywords to secure your next job

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

How to find a job

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to find a job

Many of our clients are at their wits end when they approach us for assistance. They’re qualified, experienced, dedicated, and committed to their field. They’re applying for roles they think suit their areas of expertise but they just aren’t achieving the traction they feel they deserve. Sound familiar? Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, and energy.

To ensure success, you need a plan. Of course you need a polished application and a strong LinkedIn profile, but you also need to be prepared. In recent years, the employment market has changed significantly and it continues to change rapidly with constantly evolving approaches. We have talked before about the importance of developing a structured job search strategy, but here are our tips on what you can do today to help you succeed:

TIP # 1 – Be open to change: How many applications have you sent off and how many interviews have you secured? If you’ve been applying for jobs unsuccessfully for some time now, it might be time to shake things up. You could ask someone in your industry to review your approach and provide feedback, or consider seeking the advice of an expert. At the very least, talk to someone you trust and review your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and general approach together. Be open to feedback – positive and negative – and be prepared to make some changes to your approach if recommended.

TIP # 2 – Establish a plan: Today’s job market is not only competitive, it’s also complicated. There are many avenues to tap into – including advertised and unadvertised job markets. You need to be very organised with a structured approach to identify and apply for all the positions you may be suitable for. A detailed plan will help you do this. See our previous article How to be a great job seeker for more detailed tips on developing a structured job search strategy.

TIP # 3 – Build your online presence: There are several ways to do this including with your LinkedIn profile, by writing a blog, developing your own website, creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work. For professional roles, recruiters will most likely review your LinkedIn and social media profiles. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with relevant information and keywords, as well as a current, professional photo. Provide as much detail as you can, including additional sections such as qualifications, certifications, courses, memberships, interests etc. Many people don’t include a summary, and this is a mistake. Use the summary to introduce yourself – give an overview of your key skills, experience and strengths to provide readers with a sense of the value you could bring to an organisation. Don’t be afraid to inject some personality – LinkedIn doesn’t need to be as formal as your resume. Use LinkedIn to research recruitment consultants and HR managers from companies you’d like to target. Join relevant groups, follow companies you’d like to work for, and connect with others in your industry. Likewise, with personal social media profiles, update your privacy settings, and leverage your profiles to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.

TIP # 4 – Develop relationships: A large percentage of available jobs are never advertised, but accessed via what we call ‘the hidden job market’. Network with others in your industry, join relevant LinkedIn Groups and make active contributions to help build your profile, and connect with appropriate recruiters. Develop a standard pitch as to why you want to connect and what you can offer, then set up meetings to discuss potential opportunities. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their website careers page and follow them on social media. Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face to face and online networking groups. Seek out relevant professional associations and networking groups, attend seminars, and connect with others in your industry.

TIP # 5 – Be specific: Recruiters are time-poor so make it easy for them to see the value you can add. We strongly recommend writing a customised cover letter to address as many specific ‘job requirements’ as you can. Make an effort to understand the company and/or the industry and comment on how you might be able to solve a specific challenge or contribute to the company’s success. We also often recommend tailoring your resume to suit specific roles. This may seem time consuming however it may be as simple as reordering your key capabilities, highlighting a particular achievement, or de-emphasising points that may not be relevant. Review the job ad, or detailed job description, and ensure that if you have the experience or skills they are asking for, they are well highlighted and easily understood.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex with many aspects involved. If you’re finding it tough to secure your next opportunity, you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t achieve success. Take some time to think about all the aspects that are important to you and your area of expertise.

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

6 quick tips to tailor your application for success

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

How to be a great job seeker

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to be a great job seekerAs a job seeker, it’s important to think about the recruiter and what they’re looking for. Addressing all the requirements of the role in your application, and being prepared to discuss why you’re an ideal fit for the role during the interview are obvious drivers for success. But what are some of the other ways you can ensure you’re a winner?

Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, and energy. To ensure success, you need a plan. Of course you need a polished application – a revamped resume and customised cover letter as well as a strong LinkedIn profile. But what about a structured job search strategy? Here’s our tips on what you need to do today to ensure success:

  1. Ensure consistency: You literally have seconds to catch a recruiter’s attention. If you don’t do that very quickly, you might never get a second chance. Even after you’ve gained their attention, you have to hold it long enough to be selected as a viable candidate. If your digital profile doesn’t match what you’re saying in your job application, you might lose the battle. Make sure you clean everything up so that you maintain consistency with dates, titles, formatting etc. across all mediums. Recruiters don’t want to be confused, and they don’t want to be left wondering.
  2. Stay motivated: 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. At the end of the day, it can be a numbers game – so try not to let it get you down – instead focus on the future, don’t get disheartened, and just keep moving forward.
  3. Seek assistance: Search your target role on popular job sites and identify common recruiters. Add the sites to your favourites folder and make a note of individual consultants, HR and/or recruitment managers. Try to gain introductions, either via LinkedIn or in person – and reach out to ask for help. Often, these types of requests can lead to opportunities – if not, you haven’t lost anything but a little time!
  4. Know your elevator pitch: Finding a job is a sales process. You are the product with features, benefits, referrals, and great potential. In this process, it’s extremely important you have a great ‘elevator pitch’. This is a story (short, sharp and punchy) that positions you and the value you provide. Think about it this way – what if you found yourself in a lift with the hiring manager of the job you always dreamed of? Do you have a 30 second pitch on how you’re the perfect fit for the job? Great job seekers know their elevator pitch, and how to customise it depending on the person they are talking to.
  5. Build your online presence: There are many ways to do this including LinkedIn, writing a blog, developing a personal website, creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work, however as a minimum, most job seekers should have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a current, professional photo. Fill out as many sections as you can as this will provide a comprehensive view of you, as well as creating additional opportunities to connect with others.
  6. Activate your networks: Many roles are never advertised so this is an important part of your job search strategy. Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face-to-face meetings etc. Join relevant professional associations and networking groups, and attend seminars and connect with people in your industry. Develop a standard pitch about why you want to connect and what you can offer. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their careers page and follow them on social media.
  7. Check your social media: First impressions count with most employers these days reviewing candidate’s social media pages as part of the screening process. Make sure your privacy settings are appropriate, clean up any inappropriate content, and check and edit pictures where necessary.
  8. Take your time to apply: This may seem counter-intuitive – especially if it’s your dream role. But, the worst thing you can do is submit an application without proper preparation. Taking time to research the company and people who work there, and asking for advice can be invaluable in ensuring your application gets read. You could start by calling the contact person listed on the job ad and ask them what key things they’re looking for in an application. You might be surprised at what they say and at the very least you’ll have a leg up on other candidates who didn’t take the time to do this.
  9. Prepare for the interview: One of the biggest mistakes we see is candidates focusing on landing the interview, but not thinking too much beyond that. To prepare for your interview you could brainstorm common questions, practise your answers, research the company, prepare some relevant questions of your own, plan what you will wear, and practise listening without interrupting – so you can respond more effectively to every question you get asked.
  10. Stay in touch: Once you’ve identified relevant recruiters and companies, make sure you follow them up at regular intervals and stay in touch.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex. Be prepared for the process to take considerably longer than you’re expecting. For higher paying roles it can take 6 – 12 months before you achieve success. There are many different avenues to leverage within the job search process so being organised will help.

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

Attention grabbing tips for your next cover letter

Article by Belinda Fuller

Attention grabbing copy for your next cover letterWe’ve long held the belief that the cover letter is one of the most important parts of your application. It’s the best way for you to grab the attention of the recruiter, introduce yourself, showcase what you offer, and highlight why you’d be a great hire. But with research showing you have just seconds to make an impression, you’ve got to get it right!

A cover letter provides the best way to introduce yourself to a recruiter. You need to convey who you are, what you have to offer, and why you want the job – but many experts believe you have just 20-30 seconds to do so. This is the time it takes an experienced recruiter to scan your application in enough detail to make a decision about whether or not to read further. In a crowded job market, recruiters notice ‘stand-out’ applications. This means it must be attention grabbing – easy to read with information that identifies you as an ideal candidate. Here are our tips to ensure your next cover letter stands out:

  • Tailor the content – while many candidates believe they can take a standard approach with their cover letter, this is not usually the case. Take notice of what the company is looking for by studying the job ad and/or position description. Customise your content to suit the role, cross-matching your applicable skills, experiences and qualifications to ensure everything you mention is highly relevant to the role.
  • Show passion for the job and/or the industry you’re applying for. Anything that demonstrates a love for what you do or for what the company stands for will grab the recruiter’s attention.
  • Talk about your love for the company – companies want to hire people who already know and love their brand. Ideally you want to incorporate some unique piece of company information into your letter – this could be a piece of current industry or company news and your opinion on it (so long as it’s not controversial or negative of course). It’s also perfectly okay to flatter. You could tell a short story about what attracted you to the company. Have you been a fan of the brand since you were a child? Has the product improved some aspect of your life? Have you dreamed of working there since XYZ? Stories bring everything to life – but keep them short, sharp and succinct – no one wants to read an essay.
  • Emulate the company’s ‘voice’ – take note of industry buzzwords and specific language in the job ad and use them throughout your letter. By mirroring the same language in your letter, you can demonstrate you understand the company’s environment, industry and culture.
  • Highlight successes – but make sure they’re relevant – the reality of the job search process is that it’s competitive. For most roles applied for, you’ll be competing with many other applicants. Usually, several of these applicants will be just as capable and/or qualified as you. A great way to grab attention is to highlight successes that demonstrate why you’d be an asset in the role. Focus on short stories that convey what you’ve done which have strong relevance to the new role. I like to list out the job requirements or repeat the bullet points that appear under ‘What you’ll need to succeed’ in the job ad – then provide short statements about what you bring for each one. If your background is extensive, start culling – only include examples that you think will interest the recruiter – those that showcase your skills, experience and accomplishments that directly relate to the role you’re applying for.
  • Inject personality – or add some humour. This is a great way to make a recruiter smile, and therefore give you a better chance that they’ll remember you. Showing you bring the right experience and skillset to the role, as well as some personality is important – but be careful about trying to be too funny, informal, sassy, or quirky.
  • Make it visually appealing – your cover letter should match your resume, with the same header, font and style. Use a modern template with a classic font and no clutter – something that looks professional and clean. Always save your documents to PDF format so there are no formatting issues when the recruiter opens it.
  • Quantify examples – if you can, use numbers, percentages or specific results to demonstrate successful outcomes. Try not to make generalised statements about what you can do or have done – back these up with concrete examples.

Remember, it takes many recruiters just 20-30 seconds to decide whether to read your application in more detail, so give them every reason to do so. Make your application stand out by showing you’ve done your research! Talk about the company, the role, your love of everything about the industry – and highlight why you’d be an asset. Taking the time to really understand the role and explaining exactly why you want it will impress most recruiters.

If you would like assistance with writing an attention grabbing cover letter, please see our Customised Cover Letter and Resume Writing Services.

Tis the season! Holiday job search tips

Article by Belinda Fuller

Tis The SeasonIt’s about this time of year that people begin to think it’s too late to start applying for new roles. Even if you believe you won’t be able to secure a new role between now and the new year, there are things you can (and should) be doing over the festive season to help you gain a great head start come January. Whether you’ve been at it for a while, or are just starting your job search, keep it up during the holidays.

While it may be unlikely you’ll be offered a job between now and the new year, that doesn’t mean you should cease all activity. On the contrary, using this time could pay huge dividends down the track. Here’s our top five things you can do now to help your job search in the new year:

  1. Know what you want: Go through job search sites such as Seek and LinkedIn and search for specific titles, companies, industries and keywords. Play around with combinations and open your search out to other geographical locations or industries to expand results. While the market may be quiet and you might not find exactly what you’re looking for, there’s a strong chance that some positions will be a close match to what you’re after. Read the job ads closely and get a feel for what’s required. Doing this allows you to decide what’s important to include (and just as importantly exclude) from your application – as well as determining if you have any major gaps in your capabilities.
  2. Get organised: Today’s job market is not only competitive, it’s complicated. There are many avenues to tap into – including advertised and unadvertised job markets. Getting organised will help you to more efficiently find and apply for all the positions you may be suitable for. Set up automated job searches, identify relevant recruiters, update your application materials, polish your interview skills, use LinkedIn, check your social media settings, and think about who you could be networking with. Read our previous article Winning Job Search Strategies for detailed tips on developing a structured job search strategy.
  3. Update your materials: This includes your LinkedIn profile, Resume and Cover Letter. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find suitable candidates, so it’s important to optimise your profile with keywords, so you can be found. Include comprehensive and up-to-date content, a current and professional photo, and try to complete every section. Make sure to leverage the summary section – use it to introduce yourself, provide an overview of your key skills, experience and strengths – a picture of who you are and the value you could bring to an organisation. Your Resume should also be updated and we recommend writing a customised cover letter for every job you apply for – addressing as many ‘job requirements’ as you can. Use the holidays to prepare sample letters and/or paragraphs that can easily be modified to suit specific roles as you apply. While you will have to tailor them for each position, getting these documents into shape now will make the job much easier when the time comes.
  4. Prepare for interviews: The biggest mistake you can make when searching for a new job is not preparing for the interview. Ways you can do this in the holidays include brainstorming the types of questions you might get asked and coming up with some examples that demonstrate your success. Think about examples that demonstrate strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and how you’ve handled different work situations. Having a bank of these examples will ensure you feel more confident and prepared during the stressful interview process. Read our previous article here that talks about using the STAR approach to help you formulate them for an interview.
  5. Network: Think about who you know that you can connect with now. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. While it may not be the best time to reach out to everyone who might be of assistance to you in your job search, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the ball rolling. Do your research, brainstorm and scroll through LinkedIn for potential people to contact, then start drafting emails that can be sent in the new year. Be mindful of people taking time off and coming back to an inbox full of emails which may get overlooked – think about your timing before sending. Remember all the different ways to connect with your network and use them – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face-to-face and online networking groups.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex so being organised and prepared will help ensure your success! With so many avenues to pursue, using the quieter holiday period to plan your strategy will ensure you are ready and raring to go in the new year.

Would you would like help developing a winning resume, detailed job search strategy, or professional LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills? If so, please see our Resume Writing, Job Search Coaching, and Interview Training services.

Helpful resources for mature age workers

Article by Belinda Fuller

Helpful resources for mature age workersWith life expectancy on the rise, most people are wanting (or needing) to stay in the workforce longer to boost their retirement savings and ensure their financial future. But for many workers, this means a change in attitudes, retraining, and development of new skills to ensure they are not left behind in our ever changing digital and global world.

This drive for older workers to maintain their skills and develop new ones will ensure they remain competitive in the workplace for as long as they need to work. While in the past, many people expected to retire around 60, this is now no longer the case. In recognition of our ageing population, the federal government has already announced a rise in the retirement age to 67, which is due for implementation by 2023 and designed to reduce the impact on welfare.

So what are the main areas mature age workers need to focus on? Most experts agree that the ability to adapt, change and be flexible are key aspects that will determine an older worker’s ability to remain in the workforce. In addition, technical capabilities will be important. To succeed in the current and future period of digital disruption and globalisation, workers need to constantly up-skill to remain relevant.

Older workers should also develop transferable skills so capabilities can be adjusted and relevant ‘sideways’ moves can be made if necessary – particularly where industries shrink, collapse, or even become obsolete. This also requires older workers to think more creatively in terms of the type of work they might be able to do, as well as being prepared to work in completely different areas to what they’ve been used to.

People who are happy to retrain and upskill are those most likely to be in demand and highly active until they choose to retire. Many courses can be undertaken online today – for free or at a very low cost. They can be completed as short courses over a period of days or weeks, instead of longer post-graduate study that people might think of when they consider training and development.

List of Helpful Resources

Career transition assistance: As part of the Government’s Working Age Payment Reforms, a Career Transition Assistance Program will be trialled in five regions around Australia, before being rolled out nationally from July 2020. The program provides opportunities for mature age people to reskill and become more competitive in the job market. Participants in the program will be able to boost their skills, learn new job-search techniques and better understand local labour markets. The trial commences in July 2018 in various areas around Australia.

Older workers: A site dedicated to job listings from age-friendly employers who are specifically searching for older workers.

CoAct: A national network of employment agencies that can help mature age workers to re-enter the job market after an extended period of time away, or change careers.

Mature workers / care careers: A site that welcomes mature aged workers to the disability, community and aged care sectors.

Small business assistance: As a mature worker, you may be in an ideal position to establish your own consultancy or small business. This site provides everything you need to know – including business setup advice, taxation obligations, financial and insurance information, general business planning, information on employing people, grants and assistance, and a vast array of other useful facts.

Open2Study: This site provides access to a variety of free courses that can be studied online.

MOOC: A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a free online course available to anyone wanting to take it. They are similar to online courses in terms of teaching and learning methods using videos, group chats, assignments and tests but they do not generally provide academic credit for use in other traditional courses, nor will you have much (if any) interaction with the lecturer. They are a great option if you don’t want to commit to a long term study option or would like to ‘try before you buy’.

Australian Government – mature age workers: This Australian Government webpage details information and articles on some of the support and resources available to mature age workers.

Restart – Department of Employment: This site provides information about the Australian Government’s financial incentives available to businesses to encourage them to hire and retrain employees who are 50 years of age and over.

As a mature age worker, you have a lot to offer. Both the government and businesses are slowly starting to recognise this. Tapping into the experience and success of older workers makes good business sense for most, and ensuring as many of our growing pool of older people are employed in the Australian economy, for as long as they are able to be, makes good economic sense.

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 network and connect with like-minded industry experts and ensure your profile sets you apart from your competitors.

How to leverage digital technology to apply for your next role

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to leverage digital technology to apply for your next roleThere’s no doubt the digital revolution has impacted every part of our personal and professional lives – in fact its effect is so significant that it’s hard to imagine life before it. With technology now playing a major role in recruitment – both in allowing companies to find candidates, and candidates to find jobs, it can be daunting to make sense of it all.

Securing a role today is nothing like it was in the past. With almost every application process involving some kind of digital technology – most job search action happens online. Since the recruiter is unlikely to meet you until you’re invited for an interview, it makes sense to pay attention to every part of this process to ensure success. From searching, to applying, and following up after the interview, here’s our tips on leveraging technology to help you succeed.

  • Optimise your resume: Using one standard resume with no customisation is not recommended. Tailor content to suit the role – reorganise material to address the most important skills, attributes and accomplishments first; make sure to address all the requirements of the role; and ensure inclusion of ‘keywords’ relating to the job and ad. Even where Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’) are used, your resume will be read by a recruiter after being selected by an ATS, so it also needs to read well from a human perspective and not just be stuffed with keywords. Make sure there are no spelling errors and always send or attach your Resume in the correct file format specified by the company recruiting.
  • Review your online presence: In addition to your resume, cover letter, and any other physical application material, recruiters can easily explore your background more proactively, so your online presence should be optimised. The first place to ensure optimisation is LinkedIn, however we also recommend reviewing avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, personal blogs and other social media to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects. If you are expressing strong opinions and/or sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. Perhaps more importantly, recruiters also use social media to find the positives – searching for cultural fit through various aspects of your life and activities. I’ve heard stories of recruiters having two or three equal candidates but narrowing it down to the ideal candidate based on social media profile reviews. It therefore makes sense to tidy up photos and content that may be offensive or suggestive to others, adjust privacy settings, think about what might make you stand out from the crowd, and include positive hobbies, interests, volunteer work, or charities you support.
  • Develop your brand: We’ve spoken before about the importance of thinking of yourself as a brand and maintaining consistency with your message throughout your job search tools. Whether you’re self-employed or not, defining, building, and promoting a recognisable and consistent personal brand that sets you apart will help raise your profile and make you more marketable. For more information on developing your own personal brand, see the following articles: 5 tips to build your personal brand and How to build your personal brand, or search ‘personal brand’ on the Katie Roberts Career Advice Blog.
  • Conduct your own research: Most companies have websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social profiles. Take time to research companies you’d like to work for. Engage with them and immerse yourself in their culture by following them on social media. This is a great way to get to know the company before you get to the interview stage. You can also research current employees on LinkedIn to gain a better understanding of their backgrounds and skillsets. We also advise clients to research a variety of different job sites to review appealing jobs and identify the key skills and attributes necessary for success.
  • Set up your job alerts: You can quickly and easily set up job alerts with all the major job search sites, as well as many major companies. This ensures you don’t miss any viable opportunities and you also have the option to establish a personal profile which can be viewed by potential employers who then make contact with you.
  • Tap into your network: Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. Use LinkedIn, join online networking groups, alert your Facebook friends, or make a funny post on Instagram about your job hunt. Don’t forget other non-digital ways to connect with your network as well – and make sure to use them all.
  • Track your progress: Being organised is a key factor in achieving success. Create a folder accessible from anywhere and save copies of resumes and cover letters you can tailor for specific opportunities. Since job ads are often removed before the interview, it’s important to keep a copy of this as well so you can reference it if you’re successful in securing an interview. Track jobs you’ve applied for and whether or not you’ve heard back. Include information like job title, company name, contact information, and any important information you identified or discovered during your initial research.
  • Follow up your application: Don’t be afraid to follow up with an email, a call or a LinkedIn connection request. I once secured a lucrative contract opportunity simply by requesting to connect with the owner of a business that had advertised a role six weeks previously. I included a brief note saying I’d applied and assumed the position had been filled, but wanted to connect in case any similar opportunities arose in the future. I briefly reminded the contact of my key skills and she called me within 15 minutes of receiving my request. She had been extremely busy, had exhausted her initial first priority candidate pool and hadn’t got around to reviewing initial applicants again to identify further potentials. This was part luck, but also effort on my part. My contact told me that my proactive follow up appealed to her and the fact that I’d gone to the trouble of reminding her of my skillset and doing so through LinkedIn meant she could quickly review my profile and see where my skills would fit before giving me a call to chat.

Companies today receive more applications for roles than they ever have before, with the ease of digital technology broadening the talent pool beyond traditional limitations. While these developments do mean increasing competition for you – it also means a whole new world of possibility when applying for roles. Make sure to leverage digital technology to your advantage.

Are you confused about how to leverage digital technology to apply for your next role? Not sure where to start? If so, see our LinkedIn Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.

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.

How to stand out the right way

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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