Category Archives: Career Strategies
The task of finding a job is not to be taken lightly. If you are to find the right job, you have to plan your success strategy … and then follow it through with a well organised game-plan.
A good start, to prepare yourself fully for the task is to go to any good bookstore or your local library, which should have a variety of publications that specialise in job searching. While many of the publications in this field are published in the United States there are some great current Australian versions as well. We have listed some good examples below, but browse the shelves yourself and find something that suits your needs.
“The Australian Resume Guide – Making your job application work.” Written by Paul Stevens. Published by The Centre for Worklife Counselling, Sydney.
“Secrets of finding and keeping a job.” Robert Burns. (Australian). 400 odd pages. Covers how to select a career, and the best ways to network.
“The Morgan and Banks guide to getting that job. How to establish and manage your career into the next millennium.” Geoff Morgan and Andrew Banks. Harper Business. 1999. (Australian) 250 pages covering what are your skills, using them to your best advantage, how to search for a job and making the job work for you.
Once you have commenced gathering some information, you need to start your work plan.
It is important that you:
- Identify your skills, abilities and past achievements.
- Decide your personal needs, such as preferred work and lifestyles.
- Search the papers and identify relevant actual job titles of the types of positions that you believe you would be suited to, or that you would aspire to achieve in the future. Think not just about your next job but where you would like to be in a few years time. Plan now. This should give you some ideas on the skills and qualifications required for these positions.
The next major task is to prepare a resume.
NEXT PAGE Background & Resume
Most recruitment companies will scan, or integrate your resume into their office system. It is therefore important that you make this process as simple as possible by ensuring that you use a standard font such as Times Roman, as this is easily scanned. Keep it simple and do not use underlines, italics, bold or fancy type fonts.
When writing your resume try to use nouns to describe your various skills. The reason for this is that recruiters will do keyword searches on their databases, for example, computer programmer, project manager and you need to ensure that your resume will pop up in a search. Conversely, when you are describing what you have actually done in previous jobs, use active verbs, such as, authored, designed, programmed.
You do not need to include references in your resume, unless they are specifically requested. It is better to say that these will be supplied at interview. As for personal information, it is not necessary to provide your marital status.
It is important with electronic resumes that they are as simple as possible. They should be in plain text, avoiding bolding, italics, graphics, tables and other complicated formatting.
You really need to put a lot of thought and work into writing your resume.
Your first draft is just the start. Keep working at it until you have what is a great advertisement for you. Ask friends and family to both, read and critique it. This is a really important document for you, so put in the effort so that you have a resume that will pay dividends in obtaining your ideal career position.
It is disheartening to know, that despite the amount of work that you put into preparing your resume it is most likely that whoever receives your resume is only likely to spend between one and three minutes reading it! So you must get your information across in a clear succinct manner. Keep them short!
When sending off a resume in reply to a position they should be accompanied by a covering letter.
NEXT PAGE Covering Letter
This gives the recipient an idea of the type of person you are through the way you write.
The latest research indicates that conciseness is the key with the covering letter which needs to be both brief and typed. The letter should be neat, well presented and should clearly state the position you are seeking. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, so make sure that you emphasise your work experience and relate this to the position being sought.
The key points to cover are:
- Be positive, persuasive and give evidence of your success.
- You must capture their attention.
- Make sure that you mention your availability for interviews and most importantly your contact telephone numbers.
The next step in the process is when you are invited in for an interview.
This is your opportunity to make a favorable impression with the interviewer. It is also your opportunity to determine if this is the right position for you and if you wish to continue with your application for this position.
If you get to the interview stage it is certainly worth putting in some time and effort to be as prepared as possible. Given it is a position that would suit you your aim is to get on to a shortlist for the position.
Make sure that your dress is appropriate. This generally means in a conservative fashion and definitely in a neat, clean and tidy manner. It is important that your dress does not distract the person interviewing you from the skills and experience that you want to get across.
In the interview there are five basic questions that the person interviewing you will be trying to obtain answers to by the various questions that they ask.
- Why are you here?
- What can you do for the company they are interviewing for? What are your skills and fields of knowledge?
- What kind of person are you? Do you have the right personality/values to fit in with the culture of the company?
- What distinguishes you from other applicants?
- What are you worth, in dollar terms to the company – how much will they have to pay you.
Interviewers are likely to ask you questions based on the resume that you have submitted. These are likely to be a mix of both open and closed answer questions.
The interviewer should also allow you the opportunity to ask questions as well. Make sure that you take the opportunity to ask questions to ensure that you can get your knowledge and points across to the interviewer.
A typical interview will run like this:
Interviewers will explain the format that the interview will take by giving you a brief description of the position
Typical questions at this stage will be :
- What do you know about this job or company?
- Does this sound interesting to you?
Interviewers will then focus on you. They will want to know about your qualifications, work history, successes and failures and inter-personal style.
Typical questions will be:
- Tell me about yourself ?
- What are your major strengths?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What are your interests outside of work?
Next they will be looking for your motivation for the job.
Typical questions will be:
- Why do you want the job?
- What do you expect it would be like?
- What was your worst mistake?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- What are your goals in life?
- What accomplishments are you most proud of?
At this point, interviewers will try to determine your loyalty.
Typical questions will be :
- How did you get on with your previous bosses and colleagues?
- What did you like about the company?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- How much did you make in your last job?
Interviewers will then try to determine your work ethic.
Typical questions will be :
- What type of work do you like to do best?
- What accomplishment gave you the greatest satisfaction?
- What have you done to improve yourself over the years?
- What hours do you work in your current position?
- How have you handled difficult situations? (They will want to know if you are persistent in the face of obstacles.)
Interviewers may introduce some hypothetical situations.
A typical questions may be :
- How would you deal with this situation?
The interview will probably be closed by asking if you have any further questions.
Questions to ask of the interviewer.
- What has caused this position to become available?
- Why did the previous occupant leave?
- What was good and what would you change, about the person who previously held the position?
- What factors do you feel are most important for success in this position?
- What do you see as the major opportunity areas for this position?
- Describe the personality and working style of the supervisor, boss, chairman or whoever you would be reporting to.
- What are the main duties of the position?
- What is the mission statement of the organisation?
- What has the company done in the past 12 months to achieve its mission, and how successful has it been?
- What is the company’s policy on training and development of employees?
- Describe what training has been conducted in the past 12 months.
- What was the performance of the company in the current year compared with the previous year?
- How do you think a current employee would describe the company and why?
- What is the staff turnover in percentage terms of the company?
- Give two examples indicating the culture of the company.
The interviewer should then explain the next step in the selection process to you.
Given that you are a candidate that they are interested in they are likely to then check your references.
(Adapted from “What colour is your parachute” Richard Bolles. Ten Speed Press. USA and “Hiring strategies for success” Dr Ken Byrne. Australian Print Group 1990.)
What are the biggest mistakes that people make in interviews?
“The biggest mistake a person makes in an interview is seeing it as the end of the process instead of the beginning of the process.”
Not being yourself – it is important to be open and honest.
Not having done any research before the interview.
What do you need to get across in an interview?
Be yourself – be open and honest.
Be very focused. Have short, succinct answers to the questions what do you want to do? Where do you want to be in 5 years time and the other questions we have suggested above?
Do not go to an interview without having done some research. Find out as much about the position as possible. By research you should think about the position and relate your skills, talent, creativity, past experience and knowledge to the position. Try to point out the major contribution that you could make to the company.
You need to be able to demonstrate that you would “fit” in with the company being interviewed for. Relate your past experience to what is required in the position. Today companies are looking for what they term “job fit”.
Be enthusiastic about the type of work that the company is offering.
After the Interview.
It is courteous, to send the interviewer a “thank you” note, after the interview. This also acts as another way of you getting your name in front of the recruiter and every little bit helps.
Finally, the whole process can be quite a learning exercise, make the most of it, enjoy it and best of luck!