Tag Archives: job search

6 ways to clean up your social media

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 ways to clean up your social mediaWhile your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, the reality is that recruiters will explore your background more proactively through social media. That doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself and altering your online profile, but it does mean taking some steps to ensure it’s clean.

In a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond active applicants to fill a role. By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. That means it’s essential to ensure your online presence matches what you wish to convey.

This doesn’t mean being ambiguous or vague about who you are, it doesn’t mean changing everything about yourself, and it certainly doesn’t mean deleting all records of yourself online. Conversely, while it is important to maintain a clean online profile, a positive online footprint can be an important aspect in securing your dream role. We talk a lot about consistency of message and maintaining that across all your job search tools. This includes professional online tools like your website, blogs and LinkedIn profile – but it also applies to your person social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.

Below are some quick tips that apply across all social media. While some are more relevant to certain sites than others – all can be leveraged in one way or another to help clean up your profile.

  1. Update your photo: This is particularly necessary if it is more than a couple of years old. Always go for a clear head and shoulders shot – taken against a white or plain background and not a cropped image from a social situation.
  2. Update your summary, bio or ‘about me’ section: Make it interesting and relevant, highlighting the personal or business traits you want to emphasise – and ensure it’s up to date with your latest and greatest accomplishments and interests. For LinkedIn, your professional headline automatically defaults to your most recent (or current) job title. Change this to brand yourself while adding relevant keywords to your profile. Decide what you want to be known for and make this your professional headline. For more tips on creating a great bio, read our article ‘How to write a winning bio’.
  3. Check your settings: Take some time to understand the different security and privacy settings across different sites. For example, on certain settings LinkedIn notifies connections when you’ve updated your profile. If you don’t want your employer to know you’re working on your profile – check these settings. Likewise, with Facebook and other personal social media, check your settings to maintain some level of discretion – but don’t depend on it as your security blanket because it’s not foolproof.
  4. Claim your vanity URL: A vanity URL is a custom URL address that is specifically branded for marketing purposes. Many social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus offer this facility. It helps users remember how to find specific pages – which means it should be easy to remember, use, and share. Often your name will be gone to someone who claimed it earlier, so we always suggest trying the best combination of your actual name rather than non-descript letters and numbers (which is what the system usually generates). Each site will have its own specific instructions on how to change this so simply search the site’s help section for instructions.
  5. Check your posts: Looking at what you’re posting and commenting on with an objective eye is really important. Think about the impression you might be giving to a potential recruiter – and be mindful of unnecessarily alienating people due to controversial beliefs or posts. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust – preferably someone with different beliefs to you. Again it’s not about concealing who you are, but rather about being mindful of your public image.
  6. Clean up your friends lists and likes: For Facebook, this means unfollowing people or businesses that no longer interest you. Consider grouping individuals into the readymade ‘Acquaintances List’ which means they will show up less in your feeds. Review all your groups and leave if they are no longer relevant. In addition, consider ‘unliking’ pages that contain posts and/or conversations which could be seen as inappropriate. For other social media sites, a similar approach is needed – review groups, likes, follows etc. and clean them up as appropriate.

Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. On a positive note, recruiters use social media to search for aspects about an individual that may demonstrate good cultural fit. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.

Is your social media presenting the best version of you online? Would you like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile or bio that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors? If so please see our LinkedIn profile writing service or check out our job search coaching service.

Could healthcare be the career for you?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Could healthcare be the career for youHealthcare is currently one of the key sectors driving overall employment growth in Australia, with the industry recently recording a 19% year on year growth. Various roles are experiencing significant growth thanks to our ageing population, as well as the rise of chronic diseases which require on-going healthcare management and support.

With national new job ads consistently recording rises of more than 10% each month compared to the same time last year, some industries stand out more than others. In Australia, one of those sectors is community services and development – with aged and disability support roles a key occupation driving growth. The need for more workers in this area is being driven largely by Australia’s ageing population, but also by the country-wide roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which has positively impacted job ad growth in that area over the past two years.

With healthcare currently Australia’s biggest employer, and the Productivity Commission forecasting that Australia may need almost one million aged care workers by 2050 in order to meet the anticipated demand from ageing baby boomers, healthcare may be a great career to consider.

Whilst the demand for aged care nurses and workers is high, our rapidly ageing population will also drive demand for employment in other areas. Some of the most in-demand jobs will include:

  • Aged Care Nurses: Taking care of the medical and social needs of the elderly on a round-the-clock daily basis, an aged care nurse typically works in a nursing home, residential facility, hospital or through a home care service. These nurses ensure their patients’ final years are as comfortable as possible for both themselves and their families. As a job seeker, you could start as an assistant in nursing (AIN) which is also known as a personal care worker (PCW) and personal care attendant (PCA) after completing a TAFE or RTO qualification – usually a Certificate III or IV in aged care.
  • Clinical Nurses: Working alongside doctors, a clinical nurse is a registered nurse who is recognised as a senior staff member across all areas of practice but particularly in acute care. Clinical nurses care for patients throughout hospital wards with responsibility for administrating medication, comforting patients, and assisting medical staff to provide quality care. To work as a Clinical Nurse, you usually require postgraduate qualifications in nursing.
  • General Practitioners: Commonly known as a GP, general practitioners perform a very important role in medicine, and are often the first point of contact a patient has with the healthcare system. There is currently a high demand for GPs, particularly in rural and regional areas. In Australia, there are multiple pathways into general practice. The most common pathway is through the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) which includes four to six years at a university medical school, a minimum of 12 months’ hospital training, and completion of GP registrar training and exams (usually three to four years).
  • Physiotherapists: Physiotherapists are highly qualified health professionals who work in partnership with their patients to assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders. They also help older patients to repair damage, reduce stiffness and pain, increase mobility, manage chronic pain, and improve quality of life. To become a physiotherapist, you will need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy or a five-year double degree. Once graduated, some people choose to specialise in a particular field which involves further postgraduate study.
  • Social Workers: Social Workers assess the social needs of individuals, families and groups, assist and empower people to develop and use the skills and resources needed to resolve social and other problems, and further human wellbeing and human rights, social justice and social development. To become a social worker, a four-year bachelor’s degree or higher is usually required.

If you’re thinking about a career in healthcare, there are many specialist healthcare recruiters. These sites are a great place to start your research and learn more about different job opportunities.

Here are some examples of sites:

Are you thinking about a career in healthcare? Would you like career counselling to help you decide on a new career path or course? If so, please see our career 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.

How to handle rejection

Article by Belinda Fuller

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to prepare for an interview without sounding like a robot

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to prepare for your interview without sounding like a robotWe often talk about preparing for interviews – it really is one of the most important parts of the whole job application process – one we find is regularly overlooked. While it’s great to be prepared, it’s important to remember the vital part of connecting with your interviewer. So what’s the best way to prepare without sounding rehearsed?

We hear about it often from both recruiters and candidates – bombing out at an interview as a result of ill preparation. You may be the best candidate for the role, but if you don’t perform well in the interview, it’s unlikely you’ll progress. Whilst it is important to prepare and practise responses, there is a danger that you can sound overly rehearsed. You want to sound confident and articulate but not robotic or false. Here’s our tips to help you strike the balance.

  • Practise a few different ways of introducing yourself – many interviews start off with some form of ‘tell me a bit about yourself’. It’s important to tailor this response based on the role, company, interviews and the recruitment stage you’re at. However, having three or four versions that you can tailor is a good place to start. Then before each interview, research the company, role and interviewer so you can work out where your focus should be.
  • Don’t memorise scripted answers – by all means identify the types of questions you might be asked and prepare standard responses but instead of specific responses, use key concepts, words and phrases that you can draw upon depending on the question and direction of conversation. Think about the key skills and experience required to excel in the role and relate your own expertise back to that. If you identify all the technical or specialist skills, qualifications and experience you need as well as the ‘soft’ or generic skills required – areas such as communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and initiative – then prepare mini stories that demonstrate that skill – you should be prepared to answer any question that is asked.
  • Prepare notes on your job history with key areas to discuss – candidates often can’t recall what they did in previous roles, particularly if some time has passed. Review your job history and create quick mental or physical lists of areas to discuss so you can quickly and confidently answer questions about specific roles. A better option is to prepare mini success stories that demonstrate the value you provided – have these on hand to help you articulate your experiences and accomplishments more clearly.
  • Work out what differentiates you – being able to set yourself apart is essential. Identify your unique skills and qualities and again practise talking about them. You’ve landed an interview and now it’s time to impress. Don’t come across as bored or uninterested – make an effort to show your positive approach and explain why you’re different to others.
  • Prepare some questions – asking informed, well thought-out questions will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are interested in the role and the company – while helping you to gather some information that’s going to be useful in making a decision about whether or not you really want to work there. Asking questions in an interview won’t make you appear rude or arrogant – quite the opposite in fact – it’s the perfect way to show off several of the most important traits that recruiters are looking for. Focus on the company, the industry, the role and its performance criteria, company culture, how they measure success, and the company’s timeline for making a decision regarding the appointment. And don’t be afraid to take a list of questions with you – it shows you’re prepared and interested.
  • Build rapport – remember that a job interview is essentially a person-to-person conversation so make sure to use positive body language, eye contact, and a strong hand shake to engage the interviewer and build rapport. Leave a good first impression by arriving on time or a little early, unflustered with immaculate grooming and dress. It’s not just the content that matters but how you say it – smile and show passion, excitement and enthusiasm when you talk.

It is possible to be well prepared for a job interview without sounding overly rehearsed. Try some of our suggested tips to help build your confidence while ensuring your personality still shines through.

Do you struggle to perform well during interviews? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

Google your name before hitting submit

Article by Belinda Fuller

Google your name before hitting submitIf you’re searching for a new role, you should assume the recruiter will Google your name. If that’s the case – what will they find? In today’s digital age, your online presence is just as important as your formal Resume and Cover Letter. It’s a way for the recruiter to see who you really are, and the results of that search are likely to influence the outcome of your application. So what can you do to protect that view?

If you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, wasting time sending out your Resume with no luck in securing interviews, now might be a good time to take control of your online profile. Google won’t reveal exactly how many queries it processes on a day-to-day basis but last year claimed it was ‘trillions’ – in other words at least 2 trillion! The search giant’s last ‘official’ figure was a claim in 2012 that 1.2 trillion specific searches were performed every day. With experts estimating the current figure is likely to include at least a billion specific name searches every day – that’s more than enough reason to take note of what comes up when your name is searched.

Since part of the recruitment process today will more than likely include some kind of online search, it pays to look at this aspect just as closely as you would your written material. We know that searches of social media platforms to screen job candidates before hiring them is high, but we also now believe a high proportion of employers are moving beyond social networks to perform more comprehensive searches on candidates’ entire online presence. While there are many reasons you may not secure an interview – there is no doubt that your online presence, or lack thereof, could be a contributor.

If you’ve never Googled yourself, do it now! What comes up? Here’s the fact – if an employer performs a search on you and doesn’t find something that accurately reflects your application – for example, a comprehensive and up-to-date LinkedIn profile; or worse they find something they don’t like such as a provocative or inappropriate Facebook post, the chances of you being invited in for an interview reduce. That’s why we all need to be proactive and remove and/or moderate the information you’d rather people didn’t see. This goes for information from sites you can control like Facebook but it’s also important to look at mistaken online reputation. If this is the case, ‘defensive googling’ is a way to differentiate your online presence. This involves claiming a distinctive version of your name, for example by including your middle name or initial, then using it consistently throughout all your online and other application materials.

In addition to getting rid of undesirable content and posts, you can also leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects. Think about what is going to make you stand out from the crowd and focus your content on positive hobbies and interests. This could mean including additional interests, volunteer work or charities you support. Don’t be afraid to use positive statements as part of your social media, since it encourages yourself and others.

Ignoring your online footprint or brand these days will most likely hinder your job search efforts. Most organisations take background checks very seriously, and much of these are now performed online. Once something inappropriate is uncovered, it’s going to be difficult to recover from that – with the chances of you securing your dream role slim. To be proactive about monitoring your online presence, establish a Google alert with your name. This way, you’ll be notified via email whenever your name hits the web.

Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Do you think you need to audit your online presence or gain some assistance to ensure your online presence on LinkedIn is accurate and up to date? If so, click here for our LinkedIn Profile Writing or Coaching Services, or check out our Job Search Coaching 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.

Step-by-step guide to writing a cover letter

Article by Belinda Fuller

Step by step guide to writing a cover letterWe are asked almost daily by clients if writing a cover letter is really necessary. Our answer is always YES since we know that many employers and recruiters don’t even consider candidates without one. Writing a cover letter is your chance to stand out from other applicants – so use it to your best advantage.

Many clients come to us requesting a ‘general’ cover letter that addresses a variety of roles they would like to apply for in the future. Whilst this can be achieved, we can’t stress enough the importance of specifically targeting your cover letter to individual roles. We advise clients to modify their cover letter for each role they apply for rather than just re-use the same letter.

It’s important that the recruiter immediately identifies with you as someone who could do their job well. This means you need to spend some time analysing the role you are applying for and matching the requirements to your own skills and experience.

Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to making it to the top of the recruiter’s pile:

  1. Review the job ad – identify what the recruiter is really looking for and take note of industry buzzwords and specific language.
  2. Cross-match your skills – identify your strengths, applicable skills, experiences, qualifications, achievements, projects and general knowledge that relate directly to the role.
  3. Customise your content – recruiters want to see that you’ve taken the time to understand the role and explain why you want it. Take some time to do this and be explicit in communicating why you’d be a great candidate.
  4. Be succinct – clearly and briefly (no more than one A4 page) highlight your expertise. Use specific examples to demonstrate how you meet the requirements of the role. By all means reference your resume but don’t just regurgitate its content – include additional value.
  5. 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.
  6. Highlight the right expertise – if your background is extensive, start culling. Think about what’s important for the role you’re applying for – recruiters are interested in your skills, experience and accomplishments that directly relate to the role they’re recruiting for.
  7. Don’t apologise for what you don’t have – don’t be tempted to mention limitations or areas of partial experience. Instead focus on the positives and any transferable skills.
  8. Emulate the company’s ‘voice’ – after taking note of any industry buzzwords and specific language in Step 1, show you understand the company’s environment and culture by mirroring the same language in your letter.
  9. Use bullet points and white space – break up your letter with bullet points to highlight specific areas of expertise. Make your letter easy to scan and ensure your bullet points address all the main requirements of the role.
  10. Add value – research the company and mention why you would like to work there – highlight similar roles you’ve held or companies you’ve worked for and how that experience might help you succeed in this role. Mention a current company or industry issue you’re aware of and how you might be able to contribute to solving it.
  11. Request contact – include your contact details (at least email and mobile) in a prominent position and ask for an opportunity to discuss your suitability further.

It’s not that difficult to stand out from other candidates – just including a tailored cover letter will often put you ahead of the majority of candidates! Even in job ads that have not specifically requested a cover letter – we always recommend sending one that highlights the important parts of your background. Doing so creates a more concise and targeted picture of you and the value you can bring to the role.

Would you like assistance from a Professional Resume Writer to prepare a winning cover letter targeted towards a specific role for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services.

When are you happiest at work?

Article by Belinda Fuller

When are you happiest at workFollowing on from last month’s article which suggested some resources to help mature age workers succeed in our ever changing working environment, recent research from recruitment firm, Robert Half, provides some insight into the impact our age can have on our happiness at work.

According to a recent survey conducted of 2000 workers, employees aged over 55 are happiest and those aged in their 20s and 30s are among the least happy in the Australian workforce today. Statistics aren’t everything, however anecdotally many of our consultants working with clients on a day-to-day basis would agree.

While people in their 20s and 30s can be just starting out in their careers, they’re often looking for excitement, challenge and fulfilment that is hard to find. On the other hand, older workers are more likely to have found what they’re looking for, or managed to achieve the work-life balance they desire.

Here are some interesting statistics from the Robert Half survey:

What age group is happiest at work?

  • Workers over the age of 55 are the happiest employees with a score of 70 on a scale from 0 to 100
  • Employees aged 35-54 are the least happy in the Australian workplace with a score of 67
  • This was closely followed by employees aged 18-34 with a score of 68

What age group has the highest professional fulfilment levels?

  • 82% of employees over the age of 55 found their work worthwhile
  • That percentage dropped significantly to around 66% for workers aged 18 to 34
  • 70% of workers aged 35-54 found their work fulfilling

What age group has the highest stress levels?

  • One in three employees aged 18-34 said they found their job stressful
  • 29% of those aged 35-54 reported stress
  • For employees aged 55 and over, 26% reported that their job was stressful

Who is satisfied with their work-life balance?

  • 67% of Australian employees aged over 55
  • 59% of employees aged 35-54
  • 57% of employees aged 18-34

Who finds their work interesting?

  • 75% of employees aged over 55
  • 66% of employees aged 35 to 54
  • 62% of employees aged 18-34

In recent years, it has become huge business to try to discover the secret to employee satisfaction, as companies recognise the benefits of achieving a positive workplace with happy employees. If you are not happy at work, make some plans to change things. Here are some articles to help you on your way.

Are you happy at work? Would you be interested in obtaining some career counselling to help you decide on a new career path or course to improve your happiness at work? If so, please see our Career Coaching services.

121 words to get your resume noticed

Article by Belinda Fuller

121 words to get your Resume noticedWhether you’re a sales rep or tradesperson, nurse, administrative assistant, or CEO, there are words you can use to describe what you do that are more impactful than others. In today’s job market, recruiters can receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so what can you do to get your resume noticed? 

You need to stand out if you want to secure your next role, and using the same old words to describe what you do and the value you add is not the way to achieve that. When you’re writing your resume, ensure that the content is short, sharp and compelling. It should clearly sell you and your unique skill set as a viable candidate for the roles you are applying for.

We often liken resumes to sales proposals on YOU! It’s essential to highlight key skills, qualifications and experience in a way that demonstrates value to a potential employer. It should be packed full of easy-to-read facts and achievements. So get clear on exactly what you want and then work out what you’ve achieved previously that demonstrates the value you will add to a future employer.

Then, when writing your content, instead of using standard words to describe what you did, use some of these action-oriented and positive words that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Words to use when you saved the company money or time:

  1. Accelerated
  2. Boosted
  3. Centralised
  4. Consolidated
  5. Converted
  6. Customised
  7. Decreased
  8. Expanded
  9. Integrated
  10. Merged
  11. Overhauled
  12. Reconciled
  13. Reduced
  14. Rehabilitated
  15. Reorganised
  16. Replaced
  17. Restructured
  18. Simplified
  19. Standardised
  20. Streamlined
  21. Yielded

Words to use when you improved something:

  1. Altered
  2. Changed
  3. Clarified
  4. Diagnosed
  5. Enhanced
  6. Enriched
  7. Invigorated
  8. Perfected
  9. Progressed
  10. Redesigned
  11. Refined
  12. Revamped
  13. Revitalised
  14. Transformed

Words to describe experience with projects:

  1. Created
  2. Designed
  3. Developed
  4. Devised
  5. Drove
  6. Established
  7. Founded
  8. Improved
  9. Initiated
  10. Introduced
  11. Invented
  12. Launched
  13. Pioneered
  14. Spearheaded

Words to describe experience with teams:

  1. Aligned
  2. Coached
  3. Conducted
  4. Demonstrated
  5. Informed
  6. Instructed
  7. Led
  8. Mentored
  9. Strengthened
  10. Trained
  11. Transformed

Words to use if you work with partners and/or customers:

  1. Advised
  2. Advocated
  3. Arbitrated
  4. Coached
  5. Consulted
  6. Educated
  7. Facilitated
  8. Informed
  9. Supported

Words to describe experience with data and/or information:

  1. Analysed
  2. Assessed
  3. Audited
  4. Calculated
  5. Categorised
  6. Classified
  7. Compiled
  8. Composed
  9. Critiqued
  10. Drafted
  11. Identified
  12. Integrated
  13. Interpreted
  14. Investigated
  15. Leveraged
  16. Monitored
  17. Qualified
  18. Quantified
  19. Recorded
  20. Researched
  21. Revised

Words to describe general work characteristics:

  1. Accurate
  2. Active
  3. Adaptable
  4. Articulate
  5. Capable
  6. Committed
  7. Competent

Words to describe general work duties or responsibilities:

  1. Altered
  2. Arranged
  3. Developed
  4. Directed
  5. Evaluated
  6. Formulated
  7. Ordered
  8. Planned
  9. Prepared

Words to use instead of achieved:

  1. Accomplished
  2. Attained
  3. Awarded
  4. Carried out
  5. Completed
  6. Conquered
  7. Demonstrated
  8. Exceeded
  9. Outdid
  10. Outperformed
  11. Realised
  12. Succeeded
  13. Surpassed
  14. Targeted
  15. Topped

Next time you update your resume, try swapping out some of the more common words with some stronger, more compelling language to help you stand out to recruiters. Use our list to get started, and review your documents for repetition – use a thesaurus to identify other alternatives.

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