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  1. Hiring Adjustments for Generations X and Y

    February 10, 2016 by Alison Hill

    By Dawkins Brown, Managing Partner, UHY Dawgen Chartered Accountants

    Dawkins Brown has over 15 years’ experience in the field of Audit, Accounting and Taxation. Starting his public accounting career in the audit department of a ‘big four’ firm (Ernst & Young), and gaining experience in local and international audits, Dawkins rose quickly through the senior ranks and held the position of Senior consultant prior to establishing  UHY Dawgen.

    Work-life balance. Flexible work hours. Corporate mission. What is the point of focusing on these non-traditional hiring topics? Two letters: X and Y. Generation X (born between 1963 and 1980) and Generation Y (born after 1980) are establishing a more prominent position in the employment landscape as Baby Boomers prepare to exit the workforce. The shift to these younger generations is prompting a new focus in hiring tactics.

    The Baby Boomer generation was cut from the cloth of work first and foremost, climb the corporate ladder and retire with a healthy pension plan. Those days are all but gone. Today, younger workers are creating a paradigm shift in employee hiring based on their priorities. We have observed this accelerating transition first-hand over the past two years.

    We work with companies in many market spaces, industries and geographic locations. The hiring landscape has already changed and companies that do not frequently hire may be unaware of the new focus. Certain patterns exist today that are universally consistent when hiring Gen X and Gen Y employees.

    Work-life balance

    Perhaps there is no more profound shift in values than this topic. Gen X, and even more so Gen Y, is focused on a position’s time requirements. This isn’t to say the younger generations are not hard workers. On the contrary, they put tremendous effort into their work, but they also place a high value on their personal time away from the office. This balanced approach has been mistakenly interpreted by the Baby Boomers as a ‘slacker mentality.’

    The younger generations search for opportunities where they can grow their skill set without having to sacrifice every other area of their life. As an employer, it is imperative to understand this desired balance. Positions that lack the needed support, tools or technology often will be a red flag to the Gen X or Y candidate. The reward for accepting such a position clearly has to outweigh the perceived imbalance it may cause in their life.

    Skills path

    Most people are familiar with the term ‘career path.’ The Baby Boomer generation experienced a marketplace where preordained opportunities existed to climb the corporate ladder within the same company. Today’s younger generations generally do not have such consistent opportunities before them. More importantly, many of the younger generation do not subscribe to the same loyalty as the Baby Boomers.

    Gen X and Y candidates are looking for a ‘skills path.’ They desire to understand what skills are needed to be successful in the position today. The long-term incentive is to understand what skills they will personally develop or acquire within the company. They prefer a horizontal management structure and respond to personal skill development. Titles are out. Responsibilities are in. It is imperative to share with the candidates the responsibilities they will inherit as their skills become more advanced over their tenure with the company.

    Sherpa managers

    As mentioned, the younger generations have a fairly horizontal view of the org chart – whether accurate or not. We have seen this approach wreak havoc in an office dominated by Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomers expect an almost military-style chain of command while the younger generations have a more fluid approach to positions of authority.

    Gen X and Y highly value the manager–employee relationship. They view their manager as a guide – an experienced Sherpa to make sure they are on the right path. In debriefing Gen X and Y employees after they are hired, the vast majority consistently mention the impression of their manager as having the most influence on their decision to join the company. The hiring manager needs to connect with the Gen X and Y candidate on a personal level during the interview process. Clearly the manager–employee relationship is a two-way street so this approach affords the hiring manager a beneficial insight into the candidate also.

    Work smarter, not harder

    These generations are plugged-in to technology, from Bluetooth to Blackberry. They have spent much of their working career, even entire lives for some, having internet information available to them at a moment’s notice. This fact can work against employers in that these younger candidates are savvy about internet job boards and have a tendency to always have an eye out for new opportunities.

    However, the upside of this technological ability is far greater. A subtle item we have observed among Gen X and Y candidates is their strategic thinking. Their youthful age belies the fact that they have sharp minds for understanding macro markets. We have seen these younger candidates ask amazingly insightful questions that make the hiring managers pause during the interview. We have also seen strong candidates pass on opportunities because they were sceptical of the hiring company’s shallow business plans.

    The Gen X workforce will be ascending into prominent management positions at a brisk pace over the next five years. The next wave of change will occur in the management ranks as they shift the hiring process away from the Baby Boomer approach. The aforementioned topics will move to the forefront of the hiring process as the newly crowned Gen X managers hire the Gen Y employees. Until that happens, progressive companies will perceive these current shifts and adjust their hiring tactics in advance.


  2. Tips on how to effectively lead teams

    May 5, 2015 by Jenna

    Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

    1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

    2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

    3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

    4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

    5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

    6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

    7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

    8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

    9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

    Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?


  3. Writing a self-evaluation: Are you promoting yourself in the best light?

    November 25, 2014 by Jenna

    Self-evaluations are often used as part of a review process, either at the end of the probation period or as part of a performance review. They include providing a personal review of your workplace experiences and accomplishments to date. Many people find this process nerve racking. However, if you take the time to plan your evaluation properly it can be an enlightening and valuable experience for both you and your boss.

    Why do we write self-evaluations?

    Staff are asked to write self-evaluations for two main reasons; Firstly so that managers can get a staff members of perspective about working in the company or team; Secondly it gives you the opportunity to reflect on your experience in the role, your accomplishments and as well as areas for improvement.

    Where we fall short and how it should be viewed

    Errors can occur when individuals assume they need to answer the questions in the way they think their managers would like to see their review. They may also fail to ask for clarification on a question or subject or fail to elaborate when there is the opportunity.

    Sometimes the thought process of writing the review is a scarier process than actually writing it yourself and we can often put it off until the last minute.

    Self-evaluations should be a great opportunity to showcase your skills and display your best qualities as an employee.

    Take out some time in your busy schedule to block out distractions and take down points on what you have accomplished over this time period, you may surprise yourself!

    Benefits of writing a self-evaluation

    • Having your own voice: This is your opportunity to give an honest reflection of the work you have done for the company so far and outline how well you have accomplished your objectives.
    • Creating awareness: While management may provide you with assignments and tasks, they may not be fully aware of what other projects and tasks you complete regularly and what you are contributing to the company. It also increases your own awareness of what you are capable of and can build self-confidence.
    • Promoting your key skill sets: This is an opportunity to provide examples of when you had to use those skills to achieve outcomes. Perhaps even provide a list with dates to present with the document.
    • An chance to ask questions and seek feedback: Some potential questions you could ask might be: 1) Where do you see my role progressing? 2) Is there an opportunity for further training or mentoring in a particular field? 3) Are there any future goals or targets that I need to be aware of? 4) Do you see me taking on further responsibilities within my role?

     You also have to opportunity to provide feedback on your current working environment (what works and what doesn’t work). Perhaps you can even provide suggestions based on improvements within your work environment, show initiative.

    • Reflect on your personal development needs: While this can seem scary at first, establishing weaknesses can also open up the opportunity to discuss how management can best assist you to work on areas of improvement and how to further develop in that area you may be struggling in.
    • Building a closer bond between you and your manager/supervisor: By writing a self-evaluation, you can open up barriers and allow communication to flow more freely. Working collaboratively to achieve future goals and outcomes together as a team.

    Writing your self-evaluation

    Take the written evaluation seriously and consider the following:

    • Presentation – Check your spelling and grammar (as well as formatting – make sure the information flows well). If it appears like the work has been added in haste or looks rough around the edges, management may think you don’t take this process seriously.
    • Be specific when you can – include dates, examples, who you reported to (for validation) etc.
    • If there were problems or difficult situations, discuss the issue and provide feedback on possible solutions so that mistakes do not repeat themselves. Take responsibility and show your genuine interest in self improvement.
    • Re-establish your understanding of the role and how it ties to the goals and vision of your company/team
    • Highlight achievements, but make them relevant and try not to come across as arrogant or boastful.

    What feedback have you received before regarding the self-evaluation? What have you learned from writing your own evaluations?


  4. Interview Horror Stories – A recruiter’s tale – By Melissa Lombardo

    August 4, 2014 by Jenna

    Interviews can be scary. For some, it’s comparable to the shower scene from Psycho or being trapped in the hotel from The Shining.

    Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating.

    Conversely, sitting on the other side of the desk can be just as horrifying. If I had a dollar for every time a candidate didn’t meet some of the basic ‘interview 101’ requirements, I would be as rich as Stephen King.

    Hold on, I know what you’re going to say … and I get it. Interviews can be nerve racking, uncomfortable and just plain awful. Therefore it can be difficult for some to shine at the interview and demonstrate that they are the best person for the role. However, after the hundreds of interviews I’ve conducted, I’m still amazed at how many candidates still get the basics wrong.

    If you don’t repeat these horror stories, you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

    1. You don’t need to follow fashion but the outfit counts. Prepare your outfit the night before. Make sure it is clean, ironed and appropriate for an interview. For corporate roles this means no purple tights, sneakers, doc martins and Kermit green suits (I’ve seen it all. And hey, you shouldn’t be wearing Kermit green suits anyway!). If unsure, keep it conservative.

    2. Cleanliness is next to godliness. First impressions are made quickly. Have a shower or take a bath, whatever floats your boat. Don’t forget to wash and comb your hair, clean your nails and brush your teeth. Am I sounding like your mother yet?

    3. Don’t bring your lunch. I know it’s nearly 12pm and it’s almost sandwich o’clock but please don’t bring half a loaf of sliced bread to the interview and plonk it on the table (yes this really happened). Further to this, try not to eat a heavy lunch prior to the interview which might make you burp consistently throughout.

    4. Know your CV. Remember that job you did last year? If you have a memory of a goldfish go through your CV before the interview to ensure you know your dates and responsibilities. It doesn’t look professional and authentic if you have to consistently refer to your CV during the interview.

    5. Is common courtesy dead? Be respectful and friendly. I once opened the door for a candidate who greeted me rather rudely, but as soon as she realised I was interviewing her, her attitude immediately shifted.

    6. Ego at the door? Check. A good interview does not consist of you telling me about every single achievement you’ve had since Year 4, the moment we sit down. You may be an accomplished individual but it’s not necessary to dramatically take off your solid gold ring, place it on the table and tell me how much it costs (true story, which he followed up by also showing me his pilot’s licence which was also irrelevant for the role). Remember to be patient and wait for your turn to speak. There will be a chance for you to speak about any relevant achievements you have made.

    7. Why are you difficult? I know filling out forms can be annoying and answering competency questions tiresome but, most companies have an interview process. And if you choose to make a fuss “because all that information is on my CV” then you’re just proving to be a challenging, uptight and a demanding person. Who wants to work with one of those!

    8. Don’t be like Debbie Downer. If you don’t know who she is click here. I know that interviewing is tough, particularly when jobs in the market are scarce but don’t bring a negative or desperate attitude to the interview. I once interviewed a candidate who was so bitter throughout the entire interview she was muttering things under her breath. I just had to give her constructive feedback – which was to be more positive at interviews. Let’s just say she didn’t take this well and any sympathy I was feeling for her ended there.

    9. Robots have no personality. Be human. Yes you need to be professional, but don’t overdo it (I often see this in young Graduates trying to make a good impression). I want to see your personality and don’t need to hear your over rehearsed or textbook answers.

    10. Blah Blah Blah Blah. Please don’t waffle. If your answer goes beyond two minutes it’s more than likely I’ll be thinking about whether I feel like fish or chicken for dinner. Be concise and make sure you’re answering the question that has been asked.

    Rather than creating the next scene for Wolf Creek 3, prepare and use some common sense and you just might come out the other side alive. Oh and most importantly, you may nab your dream job and create your own Happily Ever After.


  5. Leadership – Be Prepared To Make The Tough Decisions

    May 20, 2014 by Jenna

    We can all be quite opinionated when it comes to leaders making decisions on behalf of their organisation, state or country. We are privileged to have people who are prepared to make those big decisions for us. But sometimes we can be skeptical and even cynical to those choices made for us. However, what would you do if you were in that situation? What if you were the one who had to make the tough decisions?

    A tough decision may be reacting to something that you are not exactly comfortable with for the sake of your business continuity. At times costs have to be cut, an employee may have to be let go and you will have to deal with a customer complaint.

    As a leader, you have the authority to make these decisions and to do what is best. However, if you are the type of person who spends their time dwelling over the situation for too long or putting off the difficult task until the result becomes worse, you may need to reconsider taking on this position of authority.

    How do great leaders make tough decisions? While researching this topic I found an interesting article from an American blogger Michael Hyatt, who watched an interview series on President George W Bush. He put together 5 important points on leadership lessons and decision making:

    1. You will make mistakes—it’s inevitable. To think that you are going to lead without making mistakes results in procrastination—something no leader can afford, especially in a crisis. This simply comes with the territory.
    2. You must surround yourself with trusted advisors. You can’t research every aspect of important decisions yourself. At some point you have to depend on the expertise of others. Ultimately, your leadership will stand or fall based on the quality of the advice you receive.
    3. You must make decisions with the information available. For leaders, the point of absolute certainty never comes. You will inevitably have to make the call based on the information you have. While you may be unsure, you must act. Pundits may criticise you later, but they have the benefit of hindsight. Leaders don’t have this luxury and must do the best they can with what they have available.
    4. You must take personal responsibility for the outcomes. If you make a mistake, you must own it—even if your advisors gave you bad information. And even if you were acting with the most noble of intentions. If you make a good decision leading to a good outcome, you must give your advisors and others the credit. If you make a bad decision leading to a bad outcome, you alone must take the blame.
    5. You must ignore public opinion when it gets in the way of principle. Chasing popularity is like chasing a vapour. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, you have to make decisions based on principle and let the chips fall where they may.

    Leadership isn’t easy, but difficult decisions are necessary and leaders are required to act. Even if you are not in a leadership role, it is important that you keep an open mind, respect the decisions of management and team leader for both you as an employee and for your organisation. After all, would you really do things differently if you were in that situation?

    What difficult decisions have you had to make for your organisation? What did you learn from these choices?


  6. New role in leadership – Tips on leading your team

    May 13, 2014 by Jenna

    Learning to be an effective leader takes time. All of the great leaders we have come to recognise and revere had to learn and grow their skills over time.

    If you want to pursue a role in leadership you need to understand that your prime responsibility is to your organisation, your team and your clients. So how can you devise an effective leadership strategy to keep your team moving on the path towards success?

    While doing research on the topic I found an article on Career Realism that outlines 5 Tips For Good Leadership Skills:

    1. Communication is key
    Communication is important for many reasons – it builds connection and relationships between other colleagues and team members, it expresses ideas clearly and it also creates an open environment for others to express their ideas. It’s important that others know what is required of them, and if employees and colleagues feel like they can openly approach you to communicate on issues this will create a sense of trust.

    2. Wrong can be right
    Encourage creativity amongst your team and try different approaches to help your organisation reach success. If the idea fails, it is important not to discourage individuals to not input ideas but to instead assess what worked and what didn’t work to come up with plausible outcomes for the future. Keep inspiring others to think outside the box and work together to come up with new solutions.

    3. Look into the future
    Every great leader has a vision, and setting a plan into motion with your team is valuable to help you reach these goals. Make sure to meet with your team to share your vision and establish with each person his or her part to aid in the completion of the objective. This will not only keep your team members motivated but also accountable for their tasks and willing to work together for the overall outcome.

    4. Passion is contagious
    If a leader is enthusiastic and believes in their work, others can’t help but be enthusiastic to partake in the project. This also includes recognising and outlining the hurdles that the team may encounter as well so that they can try and prepare themselves for what lies ahead. Keeping up the enthusiasm and a positive attitude however will keep the momentum going regardless of what stages your business will encounter.

    5. Know Yourself
    This involves identifying your own strengths and weaknesses. It may also be best that while in early stages of the role you keep record of the goals/tasks that you have set out (or even making an important decision) and re-evaluate the outcome in nine to twelve months’ time. It is important to pinpoint where you and your team have excelled and where you may have fallen short for improvements to be made for the future. Did your course of action meet expectations?

    For current managers, do you find these points effective for potential new leaders? And for recently appointed leaders, what steps are you following to grow and develop yourself as well as your office team?


  7. Is a Career in Financial Planning really for you? – By Lauren Eardley

    May 2, 2014 by Jenna

    As a Specialist in Finance Recruitment, I screen hundreds of resumes a day from people looking to break into the Banking and Finance industry. My inspiration for this blog comes from a trend I have noticed recently. That is there has been a significant increase in the number of people looking to break into one specific area: Financial Planning.

    The RG146 qualification has become more prevalent on resumes even for applications to roles which are not related to Financial Planning. This inspired me to uncover my candidate’s motivations and understand; what is so attractive about Financial Planning?

    The vast majority of candidates I speak to are recent graduates in the field of Business, Commerce, Finance or Accounting. Financial Planning is one of many paths that a graduate from these subjects can choose to go down. Based on my research and insights, a candidate’s attraction to Financial Planning can be summarised into three main points:

    • An opportunity to use their degree and pursue their field of interest
    • Personal Financial reward
    • The opportunity to directly help people with their financial goals

    So how fulfilling is Financial Planning in reality? I spoke to Bill Gilroy, Ryan Sparks and Gabrielle Bell of Ipac Securities to get the inside story on how to get into Financial Planning and what to expect.

    Both Ryan and Gabrielle are relatively early in their Financial Planning careers; they both studied Business and Commerce at University and were successful in gaining experience from a graduate program: one with Macquarie Bank and the other with Dixon Advisory. Their initial attractions to the industry were much the same as those of most of the candidates I spoke to; with the main motivation being the opportunity to help people. Working with Ipac securities has given them firsthand experience of Financial Planning beginning with a specialism and more recently branching out into more holistic advice.

    They advised that the type of Financial Planning you go into depends on your own choices and the type of firm you work with. You could specialise in a certain area of advice such as investments, insurance, retirement preparation, tax management or Self-Managed Super Funds, or offer more holistic advice. There is a stigma that Financial Planners are all about sales however the recent FoFA legislative changes which came about mid-2013 have meant enhanced clarity on charges for advice and products. This has put greater emphasis on Financial Planners actually helping their customers achieve their financial goals rather than product placement.

    As a Financial Planner, the salary and bonus structure can vary dependent on the company you work for. Some Financial Planners receive a base salary with a modest incentive structure others will place more emphasis on a generous commission structure. Both create very different cultures within a firm so make sure to find a structure that matches your motivations.

    Gabrielle and Ryan’s best bits of the job were centered around engaging with people and using their privileged position to be able to understand their situation and provide a solution. They both enjoy the personal aspect of the role, being empathetic to a client’s needs but remaining professional. They have flexible working arrangements and are happy with their remuneration structure.

    Any negatives? Pressure; being responsible for a client’s finances, particularly following a redundancy or the loss of a loved one can be intense. It is important to maintain an emotional distance from a client’s situation and provide impartial advice.

    Overall the expectations and reality explored for this article were closely matched. Working as a Financial Planner is rewarding. This comes with a caveat however; the industry is broad and there are a wide variety of firms out there all operating in very different ways, with different salary structures, cultures, specialisms and motivations. It is up to you to work out where your strengths and motivations lie to allow you to become the most successful Financial Planner you can be.


  8. The pursuit of happiness at work

    February 4, 2014 by Jenna

    “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” ― Thomas A. Edison

    Almost every job you will ever come across throughout your life, you will experience challenges or stressful situations. No job is perfect. But sometimes we let that stress or fear of the unknown prevent us from enjoying our current role or taking the leap into a new job opportunity. Of course, if you want to change careers or take a step up, you will often need to make personal sacrifices. But this fear shouldn’t drive your behaviour. Instead we need to consider, regardless of stage we are at in our career, how can we be happiest at work?

    Susan M. Heathfield listed Top 10 Ways To Be Happy At Work, and the key points for me were these 5 areas to take control of work and to make the most out of your day to day routine:

    1. Choose to be happy at work

    Happiness is a state of mind. Your job may not be perfect, it may not have turned out the way you had imagined it to when you went down this path, but there will always be aspects of your job that you don’t enjoy. But if you only focus on what you don’t enjoy, it is highly likely you are not giving yourself the chance to be happiest at work. When you are only focusing on the negative – it is likely to affect your performance too. You start avoiding tasks, you sleep in, run late, and overall you’re not committing 100%. The consequences of that could hurt the future of your career. It is your choice to be happy or unhappy at work. What would you rather be?

    2. Do Something You Love

    Take a look at yourself, your skills and interests, and find something that you can enjoy. There must be something in your role that you enjoy, otherwise what are you doing there? Assess your current situation and if you find that you are truly unhappy, then a career change or searching for a new job may be in order. You could even seek a Career Guidance Program or seek advice from a mentor.

    3. Take Charge of Your Own Professional Development

    I think a lot of the time we get confused and think that someone else is in charge of managing our professional development so we wait to be advised as opposed to taking action. We can of course seek guidance, direction and support from managers and mentors, but we need to be the one that is directing. So if you are not happy with the way you are developing professionally, do something about it. Have you approached your manager to discuss this? Have you voiced your concerns or helped find a solution? Have you worked out what steps need to be taken to lead to progression?

    4. Ask for Feedback

    If you feel like you are in a situation where you have not received feedback in a while regarding how you are progressing in your role and on tasks, then approach your manager. Set regular monthly follow up meetings if need be, but also keep in mind that feedback may also involve constructive feedback on areas of improvement. Feedback is required to help us grow, not to seek praise, so be prepared to accept what is provided and assess steps to improve certain behaviours to create better outcomes.

    5. Avoid Negativity

    ‘Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.’– Oprah Winfrey

    It’s often true, if you surround yourself with people who are always down and disappointed in life, eventually your mindset will swing that way. Negativity is contagious and it often only takes one person to start the trend.

    I always found that I would perform at my absolute best when I had other people around me that shared similar passions and pushed themselves for results. Because that too would push me to be better and perform better. People that could provide me with honest advice out of compassion and not jealousy or bitterness.

    Each of us has responsibility for our happiness at work. If something is not working, then change it. If it is out of your control, perhaps it is time to consider a new job, company or career. But if it is in your control, and you can improve it, why not give it a try – how do you increase your happiness at work?


  9. Moments of uncertainty: How positivity can go a long way

    September 10, 2013 by Jenna

    Our theme for this week’s news revolves around conflict and I thought why not expand on this topic for a blog discussion on negativity  and how it can lead to pessimism which can then distract or even deter you from achieving goals or taking on new challenges, whether in your personal life or in the workplace.

    I read an article recently in Careerealism that gets us to take a look at the difference between positive, optimistic people and negative, pessimistic people:

    Positive, optimistic people:

    • Tend to see problems, failures and setbacks as temporary.

    • See problems, failures and setbacks as isolated occurrences.

    • Don’t take problems, failures and setbacks personally.

    Negative, pessimistic people:

    • Tend to see problems failures and setbacks as permanent – almost their destiny.

    • See problems, failures and setbacks as omnipresent – things from which you can’t escape.

    • Personalize problems, failures and setbacks.

    Of course it can be hard not to get upset or even take things personally when issues occur. We are emotional beings and we have a right to express ourselves. The hardest part however, can be letting the issue go. You may see this in others at work, the ones who are constantly complaining or who may not be able to see the bright side of a situation and can easily turn a triumph into failure.

    The article goes on to describe that ‘pessimism can cause the success hinge to rust and become difficult to swing.’ To give an example I was reading a book a little while ago on ‘training tips for trekkers’ while preparing for my next personal adventure. Now, while the exercise tips and healthy eating were very important aspects of the book, the writer also covered having a healthy attitude and mindset, especially in the event that something did not go according to plan.

    Of course the natural reaction is to see the worst in the situation. But the more one person begins complaining about a situation or the more they start to instill fear and doubt into the group environment, the more the group begins to breakdown. Fights occur (blaming one another), individuals start to become emotional and eventually people start to give up because it gets to be ‘too hard’ to deal with. This situation can take place in the office too!

    With anything in life, there will always be an element of uncertainty, however, remaining in a state of calm and keeping your mind open to opportunity during the ‘storm’ is so important, especially when working in a team.

    I went on a hike in Fiji over the Easter long weekend and we had one full day hike of 8 hours to the next village. Our group of 19 travelers were delayed that morning due to one of our transport trucks not arriving to take us to the beginning of our trail, so we had to take two trips to the starting point.

    Our second issue was that our itinerary was based on a hike that was conducted in November last year, and as it was ‘wet season’ over Easter, the terrain was extremely muddy and hard to climb. This slowed us down, not by minutes but by hours.

    While I was extremely tired, hungry and frustrated in my mind (as any person would be), I made the conscious effort not to voice my frustration, fears, doubt, or even try to blame the organiser for what had happened because I knew we were all in this together and that eventually (even if it wasn’t according to plan) we would make it out together.

    I was amazed at how well this team worked together! Individuals that barely knew one another were looking after each other like they were family. If you were thirsty someone offered you water, if you fell over someone was there to pick you up and people were sharing stories and playing games along the way to keep our minds awake and active. The level of positivity and mateship was incredible. And believe it or not, a positive atmosphere spreads. I was then helping others along the walk and encouraging others who were struggling and now our group has a very interesting story to share with others.

    If there is one major thing I have learned about shaking away a negative mindset is that it needs to be up to you to do so. No one else can make that decision but you, so next time you are starting to feel this negativity creep in, start looking into ways to turn it around:

    • If you have been knocked back on a project ask for feedback on how you could improve for next time.

    • If you are constantly surrounded by someone negative who puts you down then start surrounding yourself with more positive encouraging people who will help you along your path to success.

    • If you are dwelling on a difficult task or something that is causing you a lot of anxiety start reviewing ways to handle it.

    • Offer encouragement and assistance to others if you see that they are struggling with something or if they start isolating themselves from the group.

    But most importantly, keep your mind open to possibilities, otherwise you could miss out on opportunity that is right in front of you.

    Having a positive mindset will be a greater asset to your team and your productivity than a negative one. I like to start the day by reading an inspirational quote from someone of influence. What are some of the things you do on a daily basis to get the most out of your day?


  10. What does your resume say about you?

    July 29, 2013 by Jenna

    When it comes to your resume, what does it really say about you?

    Chances are if you have whipped together your resume in haste with no structure, not enough information or without your most up-to-date contact information, your application will go no further than a rejection email. The employer will review the resume and see your feeble attempt, and make the assumption that you don’t care about the role you are applying for.

    I remember when I was applying for jobs, before I began my role at Challenge, I was not getting as many calls as I would have liked. I asked a colleague for their feedback on my resume. And wow did my resume get dissected! Because I hadn’t kept my resume up-to-date, it now looked like a hodgepodge of information chucked together without any consistency. I made the recommended updates, and my goodness did it make a difference. It felt like a whole new me, a fresh start, which was perfect as I was changing my career path. So now even though I don’t plan on changing jobs anytime soon, I keep my resume up-to-date, to ensure I am ready to put my best foot forward and sell my skills.

    In my role at Challenge Consulting I see many, many people making the same simple careless resume mistakes that I did. I think these simple mistakes were based summarised in a recent post by Heather R. Huhman on Careeralism

    1. Forgetting to proofread – Typos, misspelled words, and bad grammar mistakes can make a hiring manager think you’re careless or won’t pay attention to details on the job. Don’t get overlooked for something that you could have changed in the first place by taking your time to proofread and carefully select the words that best describe you and your experience to date.

    2. Including too much information – Including too much information can make employers think you aren’t able to write clearly and concisely. The purpose of the resume is to share your skills and achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for, you do not need to tell your whole life story. Include the essential information, for the most relevant positions, and keep it clear and succinct.

    3. Poorly organised – A busy, cluttered resume may make others think you are unorganised and scatterbrained on the job. Make sure your information flows – include a summary, your educational history (putting most recent education at the top of the list), your employment history in date order from most recent as well as any skills, hobbies and references at the end.

    4. Sending the same document for every job opening – This shows you aren’t great at adapting. Show the future employer you know what they need and you are the one who can help them fill that need. Tailor your resume to include the skills and attributes that are suitable to the role you are applying.

    5. Using an inappropriate name for your email – it is incredible how many people make this careless, rookie error. What may seem funny or harmless for your friends, how do you expect the employer to take you seriously for a role? I actually found it easier to manage a personal email and a corporate email address so that I could better manage responses that were related to employment opportunities.

    6. Including incorrect or false information – As stated before it can make the employer assume that you haven’t updated your resume information or even worse, they may assume that you are not being entirely honest.

    When was the last time you looked at your resume or had someone else give you the critique you need to stand out in the crowd? Take the chance today to look at your resume with fresh eyes, and ask – what does your resume say about you?

    Need more assistance with your resume? Did you know Challenge Consulting offers a CV Writing service – click here for more information.

    What have you done to your resume to promote your brand and help you get your foot in the door for an interview? Or have you been in a situation where you have been told to update your resume?




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