Tag Archives: job search

23 quick Resume changes you can make today

Article by Belinda Fuller

23 quick Resume changes you can make todayThere’s always room for improvement! But so often, the people we meet just don’t have the time that’s necessary to bring their Resume up to scratch. Spending a couple of hours once a year updating your Resume and LinkedIn profile will pay dividends in the long run, and there are lots of simple small changes you can make today.

Taking time out to really clean up your Resume prior to beginning the job search process can pay huge dividends with your results. If you are applying for new roles and not hearing back, make some of these quick small changes to ensure your resume is catching recruiters’ eyes.

  1. Correct errors: Use the spelling and grammar checker in whatever application you’ve used to create your document to pick up errors, but make sure you read and re-read your application to pick up mistakes.
  2. Read it out loud: Printing out your Resume and reading it out loud helps more easily identify mistakes that may slip through the automated spell checker, or when reviewing content on a screen. It also helps you to identify clunky/hard to read sentences. Better yet, have someone else review it for you.
  3. Save it as a PDF: If your resume is in any other format, you can’t guarantee it will be viewed as you see it. Often the formatting looks fine on your screen, but doesn’t if opened by someone with a different software system. Saving as a PDF prevents this issue and ensures your document appears in a consistent way regardless of the system used.
  4. Name your file: Change the name of your Resume to <first name> <last name> Resume. That way, recruiters can quickly and easily identify you and your relevant material.
  5. Ensure readability: Use a common, clean font that is easy to read. Increase line spacing and font size if space allows. Add headings, sub-headings and bullet points and ensure formatting is consistent and pleasant to the eye. Consider adding some colour to make your format pop, and use the same design for your resume and cover letter to make your ‘brand’ consistent.
  6. Clarify content: The first person to review your resume might not be as knowledgeable about what you do as you are. It could be an assistant or a recruiter with general, not specific industry knowledge – so make it readable, relevant, and interesting regardless of the reader’s level of expertise.
  7. Include social links: Include links to your LinkedIn profile and other professional social media pages. Recruiters will search for and find you on social media regardless of how complete your profiles are, so optimising these and then including links just makes it easier for them to do their job.
  8. Activate hyperlinks: It’s likely that your resume will be read on a screen, so by making your email address, LinkedIn and other social profile links clickable – you’ll ensure its easy for the recruiter to learn more about you.
  9. Exclude irrelevant information: Since it’s illegal for employers to consider certain aspects when reviewing your application – you should delete them. This includes your gender, date of birth, marital status, and religion.
  10. Delete your high school information: Unless you finished high school in the last few years and you have very little work experience, there’s no need to include it.
  11. Place education after experience: Again, unless you’re a very recent graduate, chances are your recent work experience has more bearing on whether or not you’re right for the role. While recruiters might want to know you have a degree, it’s often not the most important aspect.
  12. Update your key skills: Ensure your skills and personal attributes are grouped under a section called ‘key skills’ or ‘key capabilities’. Remove anything outdated and ensure your skills match the requirements of the roles you are applying for.
  13. Remove acronyms: You shouldn’t assume that recruiters will understand what you’re talking about. Always spell out acronyms regardless of how common they are within your industry.
  14. Get rid of clutter: Unless you are a graphic designer, keep it simple. Remove photos and busy visual elements which usually just distract from the necessary information. Use bold, larger font sizes, dividers, and bullet points to delineate new sections and highlight specific content.
  15. Consolidate multiple positions in one company: If you held multiple positions in the same company, but they were similar, group them. For example, if you were promoted from an assistant to a manager – list the role as manager and state “promoted from assistant in <month> <year>” as an achievement. If the roles were quite different, list them separately. If you held several ‘acting’ roles – list them as bullets under your substantive or ‘regular’ role.
  16. Leave out irrelevant history: As a general rule, go back approximately ten years with detail, and then only include a brief summary of previous roles if highly relevant.
  17. Reduce lines that only contain one word: Go through your Resume and find ways to eliminate lines with only one word in them. Try editing previous lines to prevent this happening. It makes the document look cleaner and frees up extra space.
  18. Adjust the tense: Make sure tense and context is consistent. Generally, previous roles should be described in past tense and current roles in current tense, but whatever way you choose, just make it consistent.
  19. Focus on achievements: Clearly identify your value by focusing on how your company benefited by you doing what you did. This shows a potential employer how they might benefit by recruiting you.
  20. Quantify accomplishments: Where you can, include numbers and percentages or other ways to quantify achievements (estimates are OK but always be prepared to back these up in an interview if asked).
  21. Check punctuation: Again consistency is key – for easy reading as well as to show professionalism. Check the use of full stops, bullets, commas, colons, semi-colons, headings, sub-headings etc. and ensure consistency throughout.
  22. Ensure content is up-to-date: Make sure your most current information is referenced, including recently completed or in progress study, new awards and role accomplishments, newly developed skills, presentations you’ve given, or articles you’ve had published.
  23. Ask for help: Ask a few friends or professional contacts if you can view their resume for inspiration. Alternatively, ask them if they’ll review yours and provide you with their feedback.

Alternatively, why not enlist the help of a professional resume writer who can help you maximise your experience and qualifications to give yourself a better chance at your dream job? Our Resume Writers have been selectively hand-picked from around the country. They are professional writers with extensive experience writing resumes, cover letters, bios and selection criteria responses for both the public and private sectors.

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

7 tips for finding a job in Australia

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 tips for finding a job in AustraliaIf you’re searching for a new job in Australia, but don’t have any local experience, you might be finding it difficult to secure interviews. “No local experience” might mean you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of our local laws and business regulations, but it might also mean you have good skills – it’s just that the recruiter doesn’t understand your overseas successes and their local relevance.

Depending on whether or not you’ve already arrived in Australia will dictate your approach. If you haven’t yet made the move, and you’re applying for roles from another country – inform the recruiter of your plans. While it isn’t always necessary to be in Australia to receive a job offer, your chances are certainly higher. It helps if you have firm plans about when you are moving, an address, residency or right to work details etc. – so make sure to include these in your application.

If you’ve already arrived in Australia – follow these simple tips to give yourself the best possible chance in the job market:

  1. Network: Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with, then let them know you are seeking opportunities in Australia. You can do this via phone calls, emails, face-to-face catch-ups, and social media. Connect with people in your industry through LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media. Attend industry events and relevant seminars, join a local industry association, and search for internships or other unpaid work experience opportunities. Use LinkedIn to its full capacity – ensure your content is comprehensive and up to date, follow companies you’d like to work for and influential people in your industry, as well as joining relevant groups and forums. Post responses to questions to build your name and demonstrate your industry expertise – this will help you develop local networks.
  2. Review your resume: Ensure it conforms to Australian standards which focuses more around accomplishments and what you achieved in previous roles as opposed to day-to-day ‘responsibilities’ in isolation. Provide information about the company, the challenges, market demands, and competitors – anything that shows context or scope of roles you held, because local recruiters may not have any knowledge or understanding of your previous company in another country. Translate revenue, budget or other financial data to Australian dollars and make other relevant comparisons. Ensure overseas qualifications are applicable and understood. Depending where you worked, you could approach similar or competitor organisations in Australia.
  3. Check your application for errors: Ensure your application materials (including LinkedIn or other online profiles) use Australian (not American) spelling, with correct grammar, and don’t include any expressions or language that is native to your country of origin. Potential employers will see your name and country, and they may assume certain things about your communication skills. If your Resume is poorly written, this fear might be confirmed, making it hard for you to secure an interview. It’s a great idea if you have any doubts to ask someone who was born in Australia to review your documents for their advice. Even better, enlist the support of a professional Resume Writer who has the experience and skills to prepare a winning job application and/or provide specific Job Search Coaching Services to help you succeed in the Australian market.
  4. Be persistent: Finding a job takes time. Finding a job when you have no local experience can take even longer. You need to be persistent while remaining positive and upbeat. Employ job search strategies that others don’t often use. Ideas include identifying and arranging a proactive meet-up with relevant recruiters, being open minded about job titles and discarding preconceived ideas about your ideal role, and accessing the hidden job market.
  5. Be flexible: If you are struggling to secure your ideal role, think about other types of work such as contract, freelance, job share, or part-time work. Register with agencies for temp work and remain available and enthusiastic. Often consultants are less fussy finding someone with the perfect background if it’s only short term. Once you have proven yourself, you may be offered a longer assignment or other opportunities could open up. At the very least, you can move on with local experience (and more confidence), and it’s a great way to build your local network.
  6. Brush up on your English: If English is your second language and you think it may be holding you back, take some classes and practise speaking as much as possible. If you do not feel confident over the phone, call someone you trust to practise. Ask them whether they can understand you and get them to give you tips on your approach, tone, speed etc. Australians sometimes use less direct questioning styles than other cultures and we don’t tend to speak as fast as some other cultures either. Understanding these differences and ensuring your communication matches will help you succeed.
  7. Conduct some research: Know the industry, the company, and the role you’re applying for. Identify people in your profession who you can ask for advice regarding how your overseas experience might translate to local success. When you’re submitting a specific application, mention something about the company in your cover letter and relate that back to your experience – that could be the key factor that ensures you stand out in the recruiter’s eye as a viable candidate.

Finally, be patient. You’re not alone and while you’re waiting to secure your first role, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of success. Don’t take your unsuccessful attempts personally, but instead remain upbeat, confident, and consistent.

Would you like assistance from a professional resume writer or coach to prepare a winning Resume or conduct a customised job search for your next application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and/or our Job Search Coaching 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.

How to be a successful job seeker

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to be a successful job seekerIf you are seeking a new role in today’s competitive market, you probably know you need to leverage every available resource. That means tapping into your network, polishing your application materials, practising your interview skills, and doing your homework on organisations. But what else can you do to better support your job search efforts in this rapidly changing recruitment market?

Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, energy, and a great network. To ensure success, you need a plan. Developing a structured job search strategy that takes advantage of the latest job search tools and helps you tap into hidden job markets is a great tactic. Technology advancements and rapidly changing approaches to recruitment means it’s more important than ever to ensure you set yourself up for success. So what can you do today to ensure that success?

  1. Sign up to alerts: Identify relevant job search sites, recruitment agencies, professional associations, university career websites, industry journals, and the LinkedIn job directory. Sign up for automated alerts if the option is available and create a dedicated favourites folder for fast, easy reference.
  2. Identify and meet recruiters: 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. Try to gain introductions, either via LinkedIn or in person.
  3. Be open-minded about job titles: Try creative search combinations when searching online job sites. New job titles are being created every day and if you discard preconceived ideas about these, new opportunities can open up that you may never have thought of.
  4. Polish your application: How many applications have you sent off and how many interviews have you secured? If it’s not many, you might need to revamp your Resume and/or application process. Think about seeking feedback from someone in your industry, or consider getting a professional involved. Always include a customised cover letter for each application and address as many ‘job requirements’ as you can.
  5. Build your online presence: There are many ways to do this including LinkedIn, 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, 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. Access the hidden job market: Some jobs are never advertised so this is an important part of your job search strategy. Connect with recruiters you identified in step 2. 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. Network and connect with others in your industry, join relevant LinkedIn groups and make active contributions to help build your profile.
  7. Check your social media: First impressions are everywhere and many employers look up candidate’s social media pages as part of the screening process. Making sure your privacy settings are appropriate is a good first step – however you should generally assume that everything is visible – so clean up any inappropriate content and edit pictures.
  8. Network: 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and most importantly practise listening without interrupting – so you can respond more effectively to every question you get asked.
  11. Stay in touch: Once you have 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. There are multiple avenues to tap into so being organised will help you to identify all the positions you may be suitable for. See our previous articles on job search strategies for more tips on effective job search planning.

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 Coaching services.

Positive language for positive outcomes

Article by Belinda Fuller

Positive language for positive outcomes

The language you use in any situation is so important in effectively conveying your message. Often employers look beyond a candidate’s skills, experience and qualifications to seek out positivity. This is particularly so in competitive markets where experience might be equal with many candidates who could ‘do the job’. In this case – the enthusiasm with which you tackle things provides a key advantage.

If you think about your day-to-day interactions with people and how they make you feel, positive language can have a huge impact, and will usually create a far better impression than negative or even neutral language. How often does someone say “not too bad” when you ask how they are? The other day at the grocery store, I asked a young man how he was and he said “I’m fantastic! In fact, I’m always fantastic!” That left a great impression on me and provided me with an immediate insight into his mood and outlook on life. The difference between “not too bad” and “fantastic” is stark and can make a huge difference to the questioner’s impression of the person. Regardless of the situation, people feel automatically lifted when positive language is used over negative language.

When employers are evaluating prospective candidates – beyond skills, experience, and qualifications, they seek out positive people. If all other aspects are equal, a candidate who demonstrates positivity and enthusiasm will usually have an advantage over one who is negative or disinterested. It demonstrates that the candidate would probably complete the job in an upbeat and cooperative manner. Many employers would prefer to provide some on-the-job training to an enthusiastic but less experienced worker than hire someone with the perfect background but a less than positive attitude.

By using positive language and ensuring an upbeat attitude in interviews, with your colleagues, and your clients, you will set yourself up for success. In fact, it’s a critical factor in determining workplace success. Employers promote employees who not only produce results, but also motivate others in the workplace, and a positive approach can help with this.

There are many ways to use positive language and demonstrate enthusiasm in the workplace. For example, in a job interview – discuss previous experiences and training in an upbeat manner, smile, sit up straight, and make eye contact. Once in the workplace – listen, learn, and try new things. Be proactive and offer to help others, or seek out new tasks or projects in your down time. In addition to using positive words in your everyday language, it’s worth being mindful of how you phrase things too.

Positive language:

  • tells the recipient what can be done
  • suggests alternatives and choices
  • is helpful and encouraging.

Negative language:

  • tells the recipient what can’t be done
  • has a subtle or obvious tone of blame
  • emphasises negative actions or consequences.

Try to use positive rather than negative language and stop yourself if negativity starts to creep in. Here’s some examples of how you can replace a negative phrase with a more positive one:

This phrase Could be replaced with
I can’t Let me look into that for you
No problem Definitely or Certainly
Not too bad Great
Can’t complain Everything is going well thanks
I’ll try I will
I forgot I’ll set a reminder for next time
Never give up Keep up the good work
I am stress free I am calm and relaxed
Constructive criticism Feedback

Language is a powerful tool. Whether you communicate verbally, or in written form, the language you use affects how the message is perceived. Using positive language can help to reduce conflict, improve communication, increase optimism in others and can portray the speaker/writer as credible and respectable. Even unpleasant news can be softened by the use of positive language.

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

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.

Where are Australia’s biggest job opportunities?

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

We’ve summarised the results below:

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

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

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

Do applicant tracking systems impact your job search process?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Do applicant tracking systems impact your job search processAn applicant tracking system (ATS) is an automated system that helps companies manage the entire recruitment process – from issuing the job ad and receiving the applications, right through to actually hiring the new employee. It’s basically a database that automates the collection of all the important applicant information and helps recruiters screen and select appropriate candidates. So how does this impact your job search process?

In today’s increasingly competitive job market, with many advertised roles regularly attracting hundreds of applicants, and some large organisations receiving thousands of applications each week, ATS programs are becoming more common. An ATS assists the hiring company to streamline the entire recruitment process but that also means your application may never actually be seen by ‘human eyes’. To ensure your resume makes it through the initial automated cull, you should follow some basic rules:

  • Identify and use keywords – read the job description or ad and make sure you include relevant ‘keywords’ in your application – but don’t stuff them in places they don’t belong for the sake of it. Employers are always looking for certain attributes in candidates – this can include specific qualifications, experience, expertise, skills, and even personality traits. By reading the job ad or job description carefully and making sure you cover all the areas mentioned, your application will have a better chance at being ‘selected’ by the ATS. You should also never assume that just because you have a certain qualification or title, the recruiter will know you have a particular skill. If the job ad mentions a ‘requirement’ be sure to explicitly cover it in your application.
  • Reference exact matches – use exactly the same language as what is used in the ad, spell out acronyms and don’t abbreviate words like Department (Dept) or Manager (Mgr). Take notice of how words are written – including plural words, abbreviations, and numbers (are they spelt out or referenced as a number?). For example, saying ‘customer service’ instead of ‘client service’ or ‘CRM system’ instead of ‘Salesforce’ can impact your chances that the ATS will ‘select’ you as an initial match.
  • Double-check your document – this should be obvious, but make sure to correct all spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors before you submit your application, as well as ensuring proper capitalisation of words.
  • Keep the formatting simple – it’s best not to include graphs, images, photos, graphics or logos. It’s far better to spend your time preparing great content with clearly defined sections, sub-headings and bullet points than include content which can confuse the ATS and cause it to produce gobbledygook for the recruiter.
  • Submit your application in the preferred format – upload your resume as a document in the preferred format specified in the job ad or online application form. Try not to cut and paste content where possible.
  • Follow best practice – when it comes to formatting your job history, follow best practice and make sure to include your employer’s full name, your job title and the dates you held the job. Always list your work experience in reverse chronological order – so start with your current or most recent position and work backwards.

Adjusting the content in your resume for every application does take more time and effort than sending a generic resume, but it’s worth it in the long run. ATS technology has transformed the recruitment industry and made it simpler for both the employer and employee to find the perfect fit. Follow these simple rules and give yourself a better chance at being selected. Remember though that once the ATS has ‘selected’ you as an ideal candidate, your application will be reviewed by human eyes so make sure it is visually appealing, easy to read, and not loaded unnecessarily with keywords.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Would you like some assistance to prepare an application optimised for an ATS? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services.