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The secret to a successful career transition: Five key strategies to guide you towards your new job.

Whether you’ve been job searching for months or you have just started, I encourage you to press reset, sharpen your focus and go through the list of key success factors below. Make sure you are reviewing and addressing them every day during your transition. I hope that by being strategic and building a healthy job search routine, you will – like my clients – have a shorter transition that leads to the best possible outcome for you in 2021.

Regardless of the magnitude of your career goals: be it finding a similar job or making a bolder career change, the strategies below will help make your pitch crystal clear to recruiters and hiring managers:

  1. Understand who you are as a professional and what you offer to employers. Find out what your strengths and transferable skills are. Even though different sectors require different expertise, they need common essential skills, such as communication, analytical skills, people skills, etc. Please write down your transferable skills and include them in your job search materials, not as a jumble of words, but as the most relevant competencies applied to you. Whether it be an interview, your resume, or in your profile, ensure you can speak confidently about the skills you listed and that you have robust examples to back them up.
  2. Ask yourself, what industry, sector, and organisations do you want to work for? If you are unsure where to go next and curious about industries and companies you don’t know, investigate. You can read about them, and most importantly, talk to professionals who work there. Draw on your network, or start building one. For example, you can tap into your university’s Alumni, former colleagues, and friends. Think outside the box, talk to people from different areas and sectors. Then make sure you make these decisions before you start your job search. Yes, you can revisit later. In fact, you should be reviewing your job search strategy constantly. But sharpen your focus on the industries, sectors, and companies before going to market. Otherwise, there’s a great chance you will feel overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions.
  3. Once you identify your preferred industry, find out what knowledge, qualifications, experience, and skills are valued by the hiring managers. Your research will provide you with important clues that you should use to draft your cover letters, resumes and LinkedIn profile. It should also guide the way to interact with recruiters and even which recruiters to interact with. A good sector analysis will help you learn the sector’s language so you can better explain in writing and conversations how your strengths and transferable skills can support your new career transition. You will feel more confident about your prospects at this stage.
  4. Find a coach to support your transition or at least a mentor. It is not easy to shift sectors, and having a mentor can help access information to support the transition. And learning how to play the game and win as a job candidate in a sea of highly qualified peers is a steep learning curve. Investing in help at this stage can shave off weeks or months of unemployment, as well as keep you operating at high performance and low-stress levels. It is a competition, and there’s no way around it. The top players usually have top help. Be one of them.
  5. Know your values. What sort of culture and what kind of organization brings out the best in you? For example, do you work better in an organization where there is a lot of autonomy? Or do you work better in an organization where you’re part of a team? Use the interviewing process to learn more about the organisation, the same way they are using it to learn more about you. Values alignment will make a difference in how long you stay in that organization. Don’t just take the first thing that rolls up along the aisle because it could be a disaster. Transitions can be stressful, but you don’t want to regret your move a few months down the track because you took the first offer, and now you’re miserable again. I’m assuming you can have the privilege of making the most out of your transition period. However, if your situation requires you to find a job quickly, then it may have to be first in best dressed. In that case, don’t forget to keep working on your future career steps and don’t take too long to move again.

Keep in mind: success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. Next month, I will be discussing the importance of the first ninety days into a role and how you need to start preparing and planning for it before you start your new job.

If you would like to learn more from me:

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Posted in Job Hunting Made Simple, The world @work

Why recruitment takes so long

Job hunting takes longer than you think.

Being aware and understanding the whole recruitment and selection process is an essential aspect of successful job hunting. If you want to play the game to win, you need to understand the rules of the game. 

It’s also essential to understand the recruitment and selection process from the other players’ points of view. Here are some questions you can ask yourself and others to gain more insight into the role you want to apply for:

  • Why was this role advertised?
  • What is the organization trying to achieve by creating this new role or seeking a new person for this role?
  • What does it mean for the organization to invest time, money, and resources to advertise this job position?

Once you listen to this episode, you will understand the selection process in a very complete and accurate way, not just from the candidate’s perspective. My goal is for you to have the confidence and the sense of control to know what’s going on the other side of the field when you’re planning to apply for jobs in the future.

Let’s break the entire process down to straightforward actions and go through it in detail. 

Two ways job vacancies are created.

There are two ways that job vacancies are created. First, companies advertise an existing position that is vacant. A vacancy can occur when somebody:

  • resigns,
  • has to be absent from the job for an extended period of time (for example, maternity leave), or
  • has been was terminated (i.e., fired).

Depending on how bureaucratic the organization is, it can take a long time for that role to be advertised again. 

The second reason for a job advertisement is when a new role is created. The organization’s budget approval for a new role can be quite time-consuming if it is complex, big, and bureaucratic.

As you can imagine, there is a lot at stake, both when there is a vacancy of an existing role or a new role. 

Two ways a job vacancy is filled.

The first way a job vacancy is filled is through internal promotion. Succession planning is a big part of organizational and professional development. There could be professionals internally who are keen to apply for that role or who are being groomed for that role by their managers.

However, many times there are no internal candidates. There may also be a need to advertise the job externally because the organization’s policies and procedures require that jobs be advertised. Or the decision-makers want to make sure that the very best candidate for that role is the one that gets the position, so they advertise both internally and externally. This way, they can compare and contrast the internal and external candidates and hire the best fit for the role. 

Therefore, the second way a job vacancy is filled is externally through a job advertised publicly. External candidates can be completely unknown to the organization, or they may come through via a referral. That means that the candidate is known to someone that works in the organization. In fact, there are incentives for company staff to identify and refer good candidates for externally advertised jobs. 

Two ways a job vacancy is advertised.

If it’s decided that a job will be advertised externally, it can be done:

  1. In-house: The manager or HR handles the process. They develop the job advertisement, and they develop the position. The position description is possibly already developed and approved by them, but the job ad is done. They will then go to platforms like LinkedIn or Seek or Indeed or other platforms. They will then buy space on those platforms, sometimes pay for specific ads and advertise.
  2. Through a recruitment agency to support the manager and the HR team with initial recruitment stages because that can be very time-consuming.

If it’s a senior role, they may have to outsource this to a search company. Those are what we call headhunters or search professionals. They are often specialized in specific sectors and are experts in helping organizations find senior executives for their top roles. Sometimes search companies won’t even advertise. They will look within their pool of candidates and their networks. 

What happens before you see the job advertisement?

Depending on the organization, a job ad can be drafted, finalized, and reach the internet in a matter of hours. For example, in a small and agile organization that works flexibly, a new job can be advertised a few hours later when a position is made vacant. On the other hand, in a large organization, the job description and job advertisement need to undergo an extensive approval process that can be very lengthy. It can takes days, weeks, and even months before a job ad actually reaching the market. In fact, that has been my experience when managing teams and trying to fill vacancies in my departments when I worked in the public and nonprofit sectors. Even in the corporate sector, the approval process for a position description, job advertisement, and request to advertise a new or existing job can take months. 

Why so many delays? New job advertisements may need to be cross-checked to see if it is really required. HR may want to check if there are internal candidates that may transition into the role. The organization may also have affirmative action programs, which means they may work with partners to identify candidates from minority groups before advertising more widely. These are critical HR policies and procedures that need to take place. For example, if a large organization has a subsidiary going through a restructure, they may consider making staff redundant. Some staff may transition into vacant roles, saving jobs and saving money for the organization. From an HR perspective, if job vacancies happen, they need to consider: “Are there existing staff on the bench that could transition into these roles?”

As you can tell, creating a new job or advertising a job vacancy can be very time-consuming, taking a lot of human resources until it finally reaches you, the job candidate, like a job you see advertised online. 

Three types of job advertisements.

Now let’s look at how job ads are posted online in LinkedIn, Seek (Australia only), Indeed, and the company’s website. Today, most job candidates look for jobs on large platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, or Seek (Australia only).  But job ads are also shared on personal and company social profiles. 

For example, let’s say Ericson Australia has a LinkedIn profile. If a position is made available, the organizations would likely write a job ad on LinkedIn. It’s also very likely that the Ericsson Australia staff who either work closely with the role advertised or work in HR would write LinkedIn posts so that their connections would see the job ad and know that they are hiring. This amplifies the job ad’s reach and the ability to bring in high-quality job candidates for the role. 

If the organization decides to outsource part of the recruitment and selection to a recruitment agency or an executive search company, those organizations also have LinkedIn pages, and their recruiters have personal profiles. They will all be posting and promoting on LinkedIn because it’s in their best interest to promote their client assignment as widely as possible.

Depending on your sector and country, other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can be an avenue to identifying good job opportunities. Like on LinkedIn, companies may have both personal and company accounts in these platforms and use them to promote the job vacancy to their followers, friends, and members of groups they belong to on Facebook. I have seen more and more jobs being advertised on Facebook groups lately. 

Job vacancies are also shared on special job boards, such as the ones managed by industry and professional associations, chambers of commerce, and special interests. I really liked special boards to search for job opportunities. I think that employers that take that step further into identifying the best job boards for the jobs that they are advertising are employers that are looking for the very best candidates.  If they take the time to find those special job boards, they will give higher importance to the candidates that come through those boards. I believe that if you apply through those job boards, you will be perceived as a higher-quality candidate. As a former recruiter and manager, I used boards like that, which was my perception and experience. In Australia, examples of boards like that are the ones organized by Probono.com.au, Ethical Jobs, and job boards organized by universities for their alumni. Professional and industry associations also tend to have great job boards. So if you are a member of a professional association, check if they have a job board for members. They tend to be of outstanding quality. 

Summary and extra tips for job hunters.

In this blog and on the podcast episode, we went through what’s happening behind the scenes at organizations when hiring decisions are made. Armed with this knowledge, you can now find solutions and plan on how to get noticed for promotion and job opportunities. Job hunting is not just about going to LinkedIn job advertisements and applying randomly and in high numbers. You will get through to the rounds of the recruitment and selection process and ultimately get the role if you remember how the opportunities came about in the first place to better position yourself for the role.

  • You need to be highly networked internally within your organization to know that job vacancies are available, when new positions are being designed, and when internal candidates are being considered.
  • It would be best if you were ready to apply once those jobs are out there. 
  • If you’re applying on public job boards, such as LinkedIn, you apply at the tail end of the process. You need to be patient and interested and have a very high-quality application to stand out because everybody’s already excited and ready for whoever is the best candidate to start as soon as possible.

So now you’ve learned how the selection process unfolds. And you can then now empathize with the team running it and understand all the different players, and all of the different aspects of a great process and a very complex process happening and how you are one piece of that puzzle. 

I hope you found it useful learning about the recruitment and selection process, from start to finish. In my experience, once job hunters know the challenge and complexity of hiring new professionals, they become more mindful, empathetic, and switched on to the employers’ and recruiters’ needs.

This article was originally published on the The Job Hunting Podcast Blog.

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Posted in The world @work

How to job search during the holidays: Three options, depending on your availability.

There is no reason to stop job hunting during the Festive Season, Christmas, and New Year. You can if you want or need to. But if you have time on your hands, or if you are in a hurry to find your next job, then this is, in fact, a great opportunity to step ahead of the game and get an advantage.

Click here to listen to the podcast…

Other articles in the same series:

This article was first published on the The Job Hunting Podcast Blog.

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Has COVID-19 derailed your career?

Renata Bernarde interviews Geoff Slade for The Job Hunting Podcast

Renata Bernarde, career planning expert and creator of the online coaching program, Job Hunting Made Simple, talks to Geoff Slade about how the global pandemic is affecting the careers of corporate professionals. Geoff shares what he has seen and learned from previous downturns, common misunderstandings about the selection process and the role of the recruiter, and highlights the importance of ongoing training and networking.

Click here to watch the video…

Other episodes in the same series:


Has COVID-19 derailed your career?

We invite you to a webinar that Slade Group are presenting on Tuesday 27 October 2020 for those candidates we have had involvement with over the past couple of years, and whose career may have been affected by COVID-19, or who simply would like to re-set their career ambitions.

The webinar, which runs from 9am to 1pm, will be hosted by Renata Bernarde, the creator of the Job Hunting Made Simple educational program, and widely regarded as “the expert” in providing advice on job hunting in Australia. Renata will be supported on the day (remember it’s October 27th) by Slade Group’s Executive team.

In recognition of the fact that many people have been displaced during this pandemic, Slade Group have negotiated a special arrangement with Renata, reducing the cost of the webinar by more than 30% using the discount code SLADE2020 when booking . If you are interested, we do highly recommend it to you and you should find it will give you some very practical, and useable techniques if you are searching for a new career opportunity.

Click here for full details…

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Posted in The world @work

3 surefire ways to stand out in a crowded job market

In the current market where unemployment is at 7.4% and underemployment is at 11.7%, as a recruiter I am constantly speaking with candidates who are looking for new roles.

At the same time, I’m speaking to our existing clients regarding their needs and building new relationships with employers who are already time poor and potentially looking through hundreds of applications.

It’s a tough time to stand out from the crowd. What can you do to help your application be seen?

Below are my top 3 tips to help you stand out, particularly at the very beginning of the application process.

  1. Re-evaluate your resume

A well-presented resume has moved beyond a list of roles and duties; employers want to see specific skills and key achievements and how they have been demonstrated in each role. And good news if you aren’t familiar with clean and simple layout styles, you don’t need to work in graphic design to create a visually appealing document!

If it has been a while since you updated your resume, re-evaluate it through the following lenses:

  • Is it concise?
  • Is it targeted to the job?

DO: Make your resume visually appealing and easy to read. Use short, direct sentences or dot points, and tweak your resume for each job application. Save your resume in a common document format, such as Word or PDF.

DON’T: Don’t exceed three pages as a general rule. Don’t assume the same resume is suitable for every job you apply for. Once you’ve established a career path, we don’t need to know about your high school job at the fish and chip shop.

WHY IT MATTERS: A good resume can be the difference between receiving an initial call or being ruled out as not suitable. Make sure that your resume accurately describes your professional skills and experience, and showcases how you tick all (or most) of the boxes for a successful applicant.

  1. Be prepared, know the job

When you apply for a role, be prepared to receive a call from the recruiter or the hiring manager. It’s frustrating on both sides speaking with a candidate who does not remember what the role is or even applying for the position!

When applying for multiple positions, write a list, set-up a spreadsheet or find another way of keeping track of those jobs and the organisations you have submitted your application to (some job boards facilitate this). More importantly, keep a record of why you applied.

Once you submit an application, add it to your list and jot down three things you liked about the role that made you want to apply. That way, when you receive a call, you will have a cheat sheet to jog your memory.

DO: Keep a record of the roles you apply for and what you liked about the role. Be prepared for a call and refer to your notes about why you’re suitable and why you want the job.

DON’T: Don’t try to wing it and hope for the best. If you’ve kept notes, you won’t be caught off guard by questions such as, “Why did you apply for this role?” or “What will you bring to this role?”

WHY IT MATTERS: This is your opportunity to really impress a hiring manager or recruiter with your level of preparation, to convey yourself as a candidate who is keen, on-the-ball and knows what they want!

  1. Communicate well – answer your phone

Even though we’re now accustomed to text messages or communicating via social apps, the first point of contact from a prospective employer will often be a phone call.

It is good manners if you don’t know who the caller is to greet them and to identify yourself when you pick up the call: “Hello, this is Hayley” or “Good afternoon, Hayley speaking” would suffice. This way the caller knows that they are (or aren’t!) speaking to the right person, and it provides them an opening to introduce themselves and the reason for their call.

If you don’t normally use voicemail, consider setting one up while you are applying for jobs. It should tell the caller who they are leaving a message for and invite them to leave their name, contact number and the reason for their call. If you already have a voicemail set up, review your message to check that it meets these criteria and that the recording is clear and easy to understand, without any background noise.

DO: Treat your phone like a business phone – answer politely, greet the caller and identify yourself, set up your voicemail message with a brief instructional message in your own voice.

DON’T: Don’t wait for the caller to speak first or answer an unknown number in a casual or rude way. It’s preferable not to use voice to text messaging services or other automated voicemail services that limit a caller’s ability to leave you a detailed message. Please don’t make a joke out of your voicemail – it won’t be funny if an important caller hangs up!

WHY IT MATTERS: This is your opportunity to make a good first impression and position yourself with a personal brand for being a good communicator. Simply being friendly and polite can set you apart from other applicants.

What are you doing to stand out from the crowd? What are some of the strategies that have worked well for you?

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

Don’t call me maybe, call me now!!!

It’s out there on social, online, for the whole world to see, but surprisingly only a handful of people call my direct phone number. If only they knew how much difference a phone call can make!

“Hey, I just met you…”

I recently placed a candidate in his first professional job, and it’s a fantastic role with a promising career. Having only just completed his studies, with no industry experience, you can imagine the challenge for him to get a foot in the door in the corporate sector, where graduates are competing with experienced candidates, as well as each other, at this time of year.

“…and this is crazy”

Applying for a graduate position in Food Science when you’ve studied Finance is daring. If this guy had simply responded to the role I had advertised, his application probably wouldn’t have stood out amongst others that were a closer to match to the ideal educational background and technical knowledge for that position.

But he went a step further, introducing himself via email with a note to follow-up on his application. No stalking required, I’m like a real estate agent – my email address (and photograph) is all over our website, LinkedIn, below this article – you get the picture. People aren’t hard to track down these days. I responded by thanking him for the contact and letting him know that I would be reviewing his application within the next few days.

“But here’s my number, so call me maybe.”

A couple of days later, this same candidate did in fact call me; his phone manners, his attitude, his energy, were remarkable. Unfortunately he hadn’t progressed to interview for the graduate job he applied for – it’s disappointing for me too when a candidate with good potential is unsuccessful. Nevertheless he politely thanked me for my time and asked me to keep him in mind if anything else suitable should come up.

I did. And a couple of weeks later, when I was considering suitable applicants for another graduate job with a different organisation, I thought of him immediately. Why did I remember of him? Not for his resume, even though I had thoroughly screened it. It was the phone call.

Long story short… the candidate was successful, started work last month, loves his new job and the company I placed him with agrees he has a promising career.

So my advice, when you see a phone number on a job add, take the opportunity to stand out and grab the phone. Introduce yourself with enthusiasm and energy and most importantly have a smart question to ask. Maybe that’s not so crazy, after all.

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Posted in Business Support, The world @work

Work ethic and the M word

Over the years as an HR professional I have seen several generations at work. Putting people in boxes goes against the grain with me – most workers defy categorisation, let me tell you!

So when people start talking about Boomers and Xers, Ys and Zs (or broadly Millennials, if you’re trying to capture those at the end of the alphabet) as clearly defined cohorts, I’m naturally suspicious. We’ve been battling the unfair assumption that those new to the workforce expect the world or don’t seem to be aware they have to earn their stripes for millennia. I have always been someone to give credit where credit is due, so I wanted to share a couple of feel-good stories to counter those stereotypes.

The chicken or the egg

Life for graduates is certainly not easy. With the number of students in higher education in Australia on the up and up, more and more are graduating, and those with similar qualifications are often finding themselves vying for the same positions. Many companies prefer to hire someone with experience, but how do you get experience if no one is willing to give you a job to get it? Sometimes it takes a little bit of creative thinking, so I’m always happy when I see graduates really taking ownership of their careers by thinking about different ways they can gain experience.

Recently I was speaking to a graduate who was desperately trying to find work to get started in their career. Like many others, they were having trouble getting a foot in the door. What about volunteering? they asked me. What a great idea! I said. Because I work with a number of Not-for-Profit organisations, I was even able to find them volunteer work in their field of expertise (IT). This graduate is now gaining valuable on-the-job experience in their field while giving back to the community. And who knows, in recruitment we often see candidates in temporary roles offered a permanent position.

Going the extra mile, or the long commute

A former colleague of mine asked me if they could introduce me to a talented HR graduate, even if it was just for a coffee and a chat. I was more than willing to do this, as you never know who you could meet. I found her to be a bright and ambitious candidate, willing to try anything to get a break. While she was impressive, I didn’t have any suitable positions I could help her with at the time.

As is often the case, a few weeks later I was speaking to a client who needed HR administration support. I arranged an interview for the candidate. The outcome – she was offered a job with the company. It sounds easy and perhaps a bit too good to be true, but when I informed the candidate that one of the details about the role was that it would be over an hour drive each way, she did not flinch. I admire that dedication. She has stuck with the company despite a long commute, which has obviously paid off – she loves her new job!

A positive work ethic means different things to different people. The next time you hear someone go off on a negative my generation vs your generation rant, don’t be afraid to challenge their perception. I’d love to hear about some of the creative approaches you have seen from jobseekers and employers to meeting current challenges in the world @work.

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Your next job interview: How to present the best version of you

No matter how experienced you are, interviewing for a new role can be a stressful experience. Pressure from your current job (if you are working) and whatever else is going on in your life, such as family and financial stress, can dictate whether you are successful at interview.

Preparation is key. Understanding the role you are applying for and researching the organisation, and the managers or executives interviewing you, are integral to your ability to be en pointe during interview.

To give you the best chance of success, here are my ‘most likely’ from the Glassdoor’s Top 50 most often asked at interview. Nail these and you’ve nailed your interview:

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  2. Why are you interested in working for us?
  3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  4. Why do you want to leave your current company?
  5. Why was there a gap in your employment between these two dates?
  6. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  7. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  8. Describe yourself in 3 words?
  9. Give me an example of how you handled a difficult situation.
  10. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  11. Who are our competitors?
  12. What was your biggest failure?
  13. What motivates you?
  14. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  15. How do you handle pressure?
  16. What is the name of our CEO?
  17. What are your career goals?
  18. If I called your boss right now and asked him/her what is an area that you could improve on, what would he/she say?
  19. What was the last book you read for fun?
  20. What are your hobbies?

It is worth thinking through answers to the above questions. You don’t have to learn answers robotically, but it is a good idea to be prepared for these topics. There are often no right or wrong answers, it is about your confidence and the interviewers getting to know you as a person.

If you want to make a great first impression it is important to work out your ‘hook’. Telling a concise well planned story that displays your strengths, including a key characteristic you know they are looking for, is an excellent way to do it!

Give real examples of your strengths that are applicable to the role you are interviewing for; this will make it evident that you are a perfect fit for the role.

Prepare a list of follow-up questions to demonstrate your knowledge of the company, role and industry. Also, don’t be afraid to ask if there is anything missing in your skillset that they are looking for. It may be helpful to take a professional small hardcover notebook and refer to your notes, because when we are nervous, it is easy to forget what you had planned to say.

Mirroring the tone and pace of the interviewer is also a good way to appear relaxed and help you fit in with the interviewer’s style of communication.

Before you walk into the building take a ‘power pose’ and some deep breaths on the way up in the lift – this really helps your confidence.

Of course, honesty is always the best policy and being your authentic self shows integrity and confidence.

Interviewing is always going to be difficult and you may have to go through several rounds with panels of up to four people.

Stand out with your preparation, and don’t underestimate the effect of your personal presentation and polish. Ensure you are extremely well groomed, your clothes are comfortable for sitting and walking in… you’re one step closer to getting the job!

If you want to see the entire list, here are the 50 questions Glassdoor identified you are most likely to be asked during an interview.

What tips do you have for interview preparation?

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Posted in Business Support