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  1. Bad News, You Didn’t Get The Job… What Next?

    March 17, 2015 by Jenna

    You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

    At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

    Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

    • Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

    • Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

    • Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

    • Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

    Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

    What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?


  2. Making your LinkedIn Profile Attractive to Employers

    February 10, 2015 by Jenna

    These days having a LinkedIn profile in the corporate world is almost a necessity. While Facebook and Twitter share your personal thoughts and opinions, LinkedIn will make you shine as a professional if you utilise it correctly.

    It’s an opportunity to share you’re employment history, qualifications/achievements. Effectively, it’s your digital resume. Your LinkedIn profile is available to a huge variety of employers. People are often head-hunted even when they aren’t looking for employment.

    However, if you are not using your profile to its potential, you could be missing out on opportunities without even realising it.
    An article by Emmanuel Banks posted on Lifehack shares simple steps to making your LinkedIn profile more attractive to employers:

    Treat It Like an Interview
    First impressions are quite important during an interview and so is your presentation. The same applies when formatting your online layout and choosing an appropriate profile picture.

    You want to create a positive and professional image so choose a profile picture that reflects you in a professional way. If it looks like you are on an all-night party bender, or modelling a bikini while on your latest holiday, you may be deterring employers straight away. This also applies to a poorly presented or poorly written ‘Summary’ or ‘Employment History’. If you are not taking the time to proofread or update your personal details, qualifications or skill, you could be automatically viewed as sloppy. If you are making LinkedIn connections with business professionals for the first time and they have potential to help you get your foot in the door, make sure you are advertising yourself to your best ability.

    Stay Connected
    The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect and network.

    Requesting a contact to connect allows you to provide a tailored introduction to the person and explain why you feel it is important to connect with them. You can then follow up with contacts on a to keep them up to date on your career. There are also groups for members within your industry where you can be kept up-to-date regarding networking events, news topics and discussions.

    It also shows your passion and genuine interest in the industry to keep connecting with others and participating in as many groups and interactions as you can. It maintains relationships with past and present contacts.

    Have Your Experience Vouched
    Your background and experience can appear even more attractive to an employer when they see that other professionals have verified your experience or expertise.

    Employers may be looking for a select set of skills for a potential role and it can prove advantageous when others verify your experience or even provide recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask past employers’ if they would mind verifying details or providing a recommendation.

    Keep Profile Up to Date
    It is time consuming for an employer to chase up information that isn’t included on your online profile. Important information can include; a good description of your current position, start and finish dates of your previous appointments, reference details or educational achievements.

    Even if you are not looking for a new role, it is important to keep your information up to date just in case you situation changes. This will also save you time if you do decide to look for work elsewhere in the future.

    What do you highlight on your LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out?


  3. Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    December 16, 2014 by Jenna

    We are delighted to share this week’s blog from Virginia Herlihy, who works for an organisation called How Do We Do It. They provide in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. For those of you that may not know her, here is her background below and we hope you enjoy her featured blog:

    A note from Founder, Virginia Herlihy

    My passion for helping working parents find a successful way to manage their work and home lives has meant I’ve witnessed first-hand the issues that organisations face in attracting and retaining talent, particularly female talent.

    As a working mother of two and a successful small business owner, I’ve personally faced the challenge of combining work and family.

    It’s been critical for me to examine and understand my values and develop strategies to achieve success and satisfaction in both areas of my life.

    My background in executive coaching, training and group facilitation means I can help both organisations and parents acquire those skills and strategies– to facilitate greater work-life harmony and success.

    I’m proud to say, the feedback we’ve received means the programmes and coaching we’ve developed, work.

    Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    •  45% of couples with children under 2 are both in the workforce
    • 66% of couples with primary school children are both working. Australian Financial Review 2011

    Today many couples are jointly responsible for sharing their work and family responsibilities, so getting some kind of work/life balance can be a real challenge. If you’re a working mother you probably feel that family and work are competing (and constant) demands. You’re likely to be juggling your own expectations and responsibilities about how you should perform in both areas, as well as those of your colleagues and family. While mothers might get most of the attention when it comes to the challenge of balancing family and work, fathers also struggle to juggle their responsibilities and aspirations.

    So, how do YOU do it? Here are some tips that you have time to read because they are short and that we know help, from our experience with working with hundreds of working mothers and working fathers.

    • Strategy 1

    Continue to identify, acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of what you’re doing that is working for you/what you gain from the choice you are making to be a working parent.

    •  Strategy 2

    Remind yourself that you are not alone, and your challenges are normal which is very helpful in itself.  Keep actively talking to others like you and sharing experiences. Your network and the tips they share will help normalise your experience.

    •  Strategy 3

    Stop tuning in to others negative judgements/biases of how you are supposed to make being a working parent work. You can only get this right for you and your family/work.

    •  Strategy 4

    Get clear on your version of success as a working parent by answering theses questions – What does success look like for me as a working parent? What’s most important to me about my life? What’s most important to me about my working life?

    •  Strategy 5

    Avoid the language of compromise/trade off/sacrifice, which is negative and implies loss. Instead recognise that you are making choices, which have consequences and benefits so consciously use the language of choice.

    •  Strategy 6

    Use a scaling technique i.e. rating things from 1-10, low to high – to assess how much you want to do something out of 10 in terms of your energy, motivation, ability, how important it is to others etc. You can also use this to get perspective and rate how important something is in terms of your life overall so that you are less stressed by it. Your intuitive response will give you useful information.

    •  Strategy 7

    Check your energy around choices you are making/people with whom you are interacting and see whether or not you are being drained or filled.  When you have choice, in your personal life particularly, you can limit your exposure to draining people, situations.

    •  Strategy 8

    Remember to position shift – consider the decision/situation from different perspectives, your position, the other’s position.

    Author – Virginia Herlihy, Founder and Director of How do YOU Do It – Working Parents Programmes tailored to your business.

    Contact details:

     Who is How Do YOU Do It?

    • We deliver in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. We’re specialists in helping businesses support their talent.
    • We help businesses solve issues including female attraction and retention, flexible working strategies, as well as “on and off ramping”.
    • We help working parents find success at work and at home and balance their responsibilities in both areas
    • The result is a win/win for both businesses and parents

  4. Why it’s great to be a temp – By Lauren Eardley

    March 4, 2013 by Jenna

    As a Temp turned Recruitment Consultant, I have certainly been exposed to both sides of the temping story. I have seen how temping can benefit both the company and the individual. The future is set to bring an increase in temporary, part-time and flexible working arrangements which means more opportunities for candidates interested in short-term work and looking for a change. Temping certainly isn’t for everybody but for some it offers fantastic opportunities to sample industries which you may never have set foot into before. If you are looking for a new start, want experience within different types of companies, and a chance to build your network – then temping may be perfect for you.

    1. A new start. In my recent experience as a Recruitment Consultant I have met numerous candidates whose positions have recently been made redundant for various reasons. Some of those people have been with the same company, in the same role for several years. Inevitably, getting back into the job market is daunting and temping often eases you through that process and gives you a taste of what it is like to work in a different company, with different people and sometimes in a completely different role.

    2. Experience with different types of companies. Temping can offer you the opportunity to experience the multitude of cultures that different companies have to offer from super corporate and competitive to laid back and casual. It can allow you to see what is out there and what options you have.

    3. A chance to build your network. The companies you temp for all employ different people and you have that opportunity to work closely with these people for a period of time. Meeting new people means building your network and who knows what these connections may bring for you in the future: job referrals; career opportunities or even just a new friend. You could receive training on a new software programs and be exposed to different operating procedures and even if your temp assignment doesn’t go long term, you can take these ideas to your next opportunity.

    Temping offers these great opportunities to experience new areas but don’t rest on your laurels, it’s not always easy to stroll into a temp role. The temp market is a competitive place; there are hundreds of quality candidates out there all competing for that one lucrative temp position. So my top tips to impress at interview and land that temp job? Practice your interview questions, know your resume, know your strengths, present yourself immaculately and be reliable. Treat the temp job like any other permanent job, take it seriously and who knows where it could take you!

    Did you know that Challenge Consulting can seek the temporary staff member that you need? Click here for more information.


  5. Do you choose a career for love or money?

    February 5, 2013 by Jenna

    This is the question that everyone stumbles at one time or another in their career. Do you take the risks associated with following your dream or settle for the job that pays the bills?

    What we often forget is that this is generally not a dichotomy – although we often want to start a dream career now – often moving into a new career can take time to achieve. And most of the time we need to start from the bottom of a new career before moving our way up to what we consider our dream.

    In their blog post, when is it OK to settle for less than your dream job? Beacon Coaching & Consulting outline:

    The Pays-the-Bills Job. We all need to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and many of us support families as well. This takes money, and unless you have an independent source of income, you may need to take a job that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy your career yearnings. There is no shame in this — in fact, it is quite honourable. And it need not derail your dreams permanently. You may be able to pursue your passion outside of working hours as a volunteer (which may lead eventually to being able to earn a living at it). Even if you never earn a living doing what you love, staying engaged in your passion allows you to continue to grow and develop personally. Continuing to work toward your dream can also help you to keep the ups and downs of a humdrum job in perspective. What you do for a living need not define you; instead, choose to define yourself in terms of your passion. One famous example is Wallace Stevens, who had a day job in the insurance business and wrote some of the 20th century’s most beautiful, challenging, and influential poetry.

    The Stepping-Stone or Bridge Job. If you don’t yet have the skills, experience, or contacts to get your dream job, you may need to take one or more intermediate steps to get from here to there. The classic example of the stepping stone job is working your way up from the mailroom. In this scenario an inexperienced but ambitious youth takes an entry-level job in order to learn and grow and move up the ranks to his or her dream job. However, and increasingly common tactic is the bridge job: when someone who is established in a career wishes to change careers and may need to build a bridge from one industry to another or from one role to another, or both. If the career transition is a big leap, you may be better off making changes incrementally, thus building the resume and contacts you need to move into the new industry or new role. (For example, a corporate lawyer who wants to be a literary agent may take a transitional job working as in-house counsel at a publishing house.) In either case, whether you are starting out at entry level or transitioning later in your career, you may find yourself in a job that doesn’t thrill you in order to build the resume that will get you the job you really want. Focus on how to make the most of the job you have: learn everything you can, develop a strong resume, and actively build your network.  And keep your eyes on the prize — the job you really want.

    The other thing to remember is that the job market is constantly changing. You may invest time in developing the skills, knowledge and experience to move into a new career only to realise that there is a low hiring period or an increased competitive landscape in that dream career area.

    But that of course does not mean you need to give up on your dream. Each of us throughout our career needs to use flexibility and creativity. Because it is through these chance experiences that we learn about ourselves, what we hate, what we love, and makes that dream career move all the more exciting when you make it happen. Of course life is not always set out in stone. It has moments of complete chaos and also spontaneity. And by making new decisions we can often find possibilities that make us happy that may not have been possible if we didn’t take that path when we reached that fork in the road.

    So what’s the answer? Love or money? Well it all depends on you. But you do need to pay the bills, you may need to take longer to get to the dream, but don’t forget to have a little fun along the way. And if you make a decision to go with a job you later regret, it’s only temporary; we all have the chance to make a better, different choice for our next career move. What will yours be?


  6. Working After Baby: how have childcare issues affected your return to work?

    December 6, 2011 by Jenna

    Now, at the risk of offending stay-at-home dads, this is and will probably remain for some time to come an issue that almost universally affects women. 

    As a woman, and a mother of a three-year old, and expecting another baby soon, I feel very fortunate that: 

    a) I work for a flexible and supportive organisation and boss who enabled me to return to work at a time and pace that suited the changing needs of my small child 

    b) I was, after some effort and waiting and getting in early, able to secure a place two days a week for our son at a local childcare centre we remain delighted with 

    c) I have parents and parents-in-law who are besotted with their grandson and are able to care for him when extra help is needed 

    I was also very pleased to read the comments of two of the respondents to our most recent online pollHow much did childcare issues impact on your return to work? – reproduced below:

    – “Keeping a very organised schedule and ensuring our daughter attends a very good Early Learning Centre, childcare has not impacted on my return to work. I am now back at work 3 days per week. My daughter thoroughly enjoys the Early Learning Centre that she goes to and I thoroughly enjoy being back at work. The childcare centre follows a weekly learning program and my daughter loves all the activities that they do.” 

    – “A combination of a very supportive family, as well as great flexibility as far as my husband’s working hours, meant my return to work (when the baby was only 3 months old) was seamless. It did however mean that I hardly ever saw my husband!” 

    However, the news is not that great for a huge number of women. Another poll respondent recounted her struggles: 

    – “Because child care was too expensive, I relied on my parents and grandmother to look after my children. I also took on casual jobs where I had no super, no regular and secure income and no stability, just so that I could do the hours that suited my family’s needs. I also worked night shift so that I could be home with my children during the day; my husband then took over at night. Again, this was very difficult for me and my family, but financially it helped as the night casual rates were higher.”      

    Even for women with family support and access to care, the decision to leave their child can induce intense feelings of guilt and a deep sense of “missing out” during their child’s early years. A contact I spoke to regarding her experiences said that while she had no return to work issues relating to finding care (her father looks after her baby at home three days per week) or her company’s parenting policies, she finds it extremely challenging to juggle work, home, commuting and caring for her family, not to mention emotionally wrenching every time she departs. She would in fact, if she could afford it financially, remain at home. 

    An extensive poll conducted earlier this year by the online businesswomen’s network group sphinxx “found that children and careers fail to mix. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) said the cost of childcare had negatively hit their careers but not their partners – 71.6% said their partners hadn’t been held back at all. Almost three quarters of respondents (74%) agreed that quality child care is hard to come by.” [Source] 

    The poll also revealed that 92% of respondents cited the rising cost of childcare as a top policy issue in the next election. The founder of sphinx, Jen Dalitz, said “said both political parties should be seeing childcare as a top policy issue if they were ‘fair dinkum’ about helping women stay in the workforce and support more choices in the childcare industry. ‘It’s crazy that you can deduct expenses for laptops, iPads and cars, but receive no tax breaks for family day care or in-home care, especially in emergencies,’ she adds.” [Source] 

    Promoting the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Women Business Owners Poll, Ita Buttrose commented last week that “businesses are mad not to have more women in decision-making roles and has urged them to pay for nannies to ensure their female staff don’t fall off the career ladder. ‘I am a great believer in packages that include some support for the mother, whether it is a nanny or a housekeeper or whatever,’ she said. ‘You might not get the shares, or you might not get the car, but you balance one out against the other. Of course companies can do it. Women who want to continue their careers and have families should ask for that package from their employer and the workplace needs to think about how they are going to offer it.’ [Source]                                                      

    Further illustrating this issue, another respondent to the sphinxx poll commented: “Issues to do with availability and cost of childcare plague our mothers group. So much so that two teachers, a HR professional and an IT Manager have decided they cannot go back to work. That is four highly skilled women now removed from the workforce because childcare in Australia is too complex and cost prohibitive. And this is just one small group – there are many more. If the government is honestly trying to address female participation rates in the Australian workforce and fix the skills shortage, they will look at childcare as a matter of urgency.” [Source]

    What do you think? What has your experience been? Leave your comments below …

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  7. Why networking is the #1 way to find a job …

    November 22, 2011 by Jenna

    The top two responses to our latest online poll – “Where do you go first when you’re looking for a job?” –  were Internet Job Boards and My Contact Network

    Whilst there is no doubt that internet job boards provide an easy, user-friendly way to apply for advertised roles, job seekers must always beware of becoming lazy in their application approach, ie sending the same old cover letter and CV again and again for roles that might actually require you to do a bit of “tailoring” first, or resort to a scattergun mentality, ie, “If I send my CV to enough job advertisers, then one will surely produce a result.” 

    I can assure you, as someone who has worked in the recruitment industry for eleven years, recruiters who know their stuff, whether they work for an agency or within a company, can spot a thoughtlessly-sent CV at twenty paces. For example, a candidate might have a newly-minted accounting qualification. They are seeking an entry-level accounting role. They do a key-word search using “accounting” and send their CV in response to the 25 job ads that appear, despite the fact that only two of the advertised roles are suitable for entry-level candidates. Not only is this a ridiculous waste of time for everyone concerned, it does the candidate absolutely no favours, instantly creating an impression of a total lack of attention to detail and no real interest in the actual role or company. 

    You must remain in charge of your job search. It is your responsibility and yours alone to secure your next role. 

    Here is a prime example of what I mean from an article on Forbes.com entitled Get a Job Using the Hidden Job Market

    “The technology executive had been out of work for more than a year, but he didn’t tell any of his friends he was unemployed. Instead, he made up a story about how he was consulting on some confidential projects, the details of which he would reveal when it was time to go public. Meantime, he applied for dozens of posted job openings he saw online, with zero success. He also spent time golfing at the country club, where his locker was next to a CEO in his field. Still, he guarded his secret carefully, staying mum with his golf buddies about his job hunt. Finally, his distraught wife set up some sessions with Donald Asher, an executive career coach and author of 11 books, including Cracking the Hidden Job Market: How to Find Opportunity in any Economy. Asher convinced his new client to open up about his job hunt, and start talking to everyone he knew about how he was on the market. Sure enough, one of his golfing friends gave him a tip that led to a job at a startup.”

    What do you know?

    I asked Challenge Consulting’s Managing Director, Elizabeth Varley, what she regarded as the best overall way to find work. 

    Without hesitation, her response was, “Your network.” 

    She continued: “You must be organised and methodical in your approach to seeking work. When you’re in your car travelling to a new destination, you use a road map, you don’t just start driving. Ask yourself what you actually want to do, what skills and experience you wish to utilise. Then, work out who you know who can give you entrée into industries or companies where these are attractive. It might be a friend, it might be a LinkedIn contact, it might be someone you meet at an industry function, it might be someone you get talking to waiting for a bus.” 

    They key things to remember are: you have to make it known that you are seeking work (no one can read your mind, after all), and you cannot expect a high success rate flailing wildly in the dark (see Elizabeth’s above comment re using a map!). 

    Comments from three of our poll respondents re using their networks:

    – “The people in my network know me best, so they’re the ones most likely to present a suitable opportunity. They’re also less likely to point me in the wrong direction.”

    – “My first port of call would be tapping in to my networks.”

    – “Recently, for the first time ever, I was approached for a job based on my LinkedIn Profile.”

    What do you think? What success have you had finding that next great role using your networks? Let us know in the comments below!

    _______________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  8. Should smokers be allowed to go out for a cigarette break during office hours?

    September 13, 2011 by Jenna

    Initially, I was quite surprised at how close the results of the online poll leading up to this blog entry were: 

    Should smokers be allowed to go out for a cigarette break during office hours?

    Yes – 38.2% 

    No – 47.0% 

    Other – 14.7%

    My initial response when I was chatting to my boss about this topic was something along the lines of “certainly not outside normal break allowances, ie, lunch. What if I said to you ‘I have an addiction to pretty shoes and must go out looking for them at least four times a day’? I’m sure you’d just love that …” 

    But then I put my reality hat back on and thought a bit more about it. We all hear and read about the notion of ‘the flexible workplace’ these days and how, due to factors such as technology and constant connectedness to our jobs, standard hours of work don’t really apply any longer. 

    So, really, as long as the job’s getting done, who cares how many ‘smokos’ someone has during the day, or how many ‘fresh air breaks’ they take, or how many times they update their Facebook status, or how often they pop over to Priceline or Nine West or Wittner (ahem)?

    Here is some food for thought from last week’s poll respondents:

    > “As long as it is not excessive and the time is made up for there is no issue.”

    > “As long as they make up the time elsewhere or don’t have as long a lunch break as non-smokers. Meaning, they should add up the time they take smoking each day and calculate this into their break/overtime etc.”

    > “If cigarette breaks are allowed, which can add up to an hour or more a day, then non-smokers should be entitled a similar type of break or given a 1.5 hour lunch break as standard.”

    > “If smokers go for a smoko break, then non-smokers should get a non-smoko break. It is only fair. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!”

    So, the notion of fairness and ‘break equality’ is the key for many people. Fair enough. I also rather loved this response: “Are you going to stop people from having a cup of coffee, too? Smokers have a wonderful ‘friending’ network which seems to be evaporating in the office where people do not talk but prefer to email or text.” This totally reminded me of my pre-Challenge Consulting job when I was a smoker who did smoke on the job. There was a place where the building’s smokers all gathered, enjoyed a cigarette, and chatted for a few minutes. I met colleagues from other departments I would not have otherwise. Interesting …

    But what of the health issues surrounding smoking? I think it’s fair to say that, whilst it may be someone’s right to choose to be a smoker, is it ethical for a company to in any way support what is generally accepted to be a very damaging habit? Granted, many smokers don’t smoke during the working day such as this poll respondent, who said: “There has been a ‘no smoking’ policy in the work place for more than 20 years. I am a smoker but I do not smoke at work.” Another respondent was much more decisive: “It is counter productive and bad example for the company.”

    Yet another respondent observed: “if you’re a smoker who works in the health industry then no, it’s not a good look to smoke at work.” I know I have often found myself aghast during visits to hospitals seeing nurses outside puffing away on cigarettes. On one hand, I think they have one of the most stressful jobs in the world and don’t blame them (as an ex-smoker, I know how marvellously relaxing a cigarette can be), but then I also think that they are in a prime location to witness the ravages of what a lifetime of smoking can have upon the human body and if that’s not a deterrent, then I don’t know what is.

    Ultimately, as with other workplace issues, consideration for your fellow workers must remain topmost. 

    Smokers should ensure that their cigarette breaks are not adversely affecting their work performance or inhibiting their productivity. Smoking should be undertaken discreetly. And, as one poll respondent quite rightly pointed out: “Smokers need to be aware of the smell they bring back with them and freshen up before rejoining their colleagues.” 

    Mint, anyone?

    ___________________________________

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