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  1. LinkedIn Study Reveals the Skills Employers (Really) Want

    April 7, 2015 by Jenna

    What do you tell an employer when they ask you what your strengths are? Do you provide them with leadership examples from previous roles, outline key skills or educational achievements that could be valuable for the role? Do you know what skills the employer is looking for to fulfill the role?

    A recent study by LinkedIn reveals that when it comes to interviewing and hiring early-career professionals, employers aren’t just considering education, experience and job skills. They are also looking for specific soft skills and personality traits — and how these characteristics rank may surprise you.

    LinkedIn defines early-career professionals as those with zero to three years’ experience. Understanding these skill sets will give you a better indication of how you can be considered in today’s job market.

    Specific skills
    The two most important skills employers look for are problem-solving skills (65 percent) — defined as the ability to see and create solutions when faced with challenges — and being a good learner (64 percent) by learning new concepts quickly and being adaptable in new situations.

    Employers also look for candidates who have strong analytical skills: 46 percent of the employers surveyed said early-career hires need to be able to use logical reasoning.

    Communication skills are essential. The ability to clearly communicate ideas while speaking plays a much more important role than doing so in writing, however. The study revealed that 45 percent of employers want to hire people with strong oral communication skills, whereas only 22 percent consider strong written communication skills to be crucial.

    Furthermore, creativity, the ability to think outside the box (21 percent), and being tech-savvy (16 percent) are also pluses for employers.

    Personality traits
    The most important personality trait employers look for in early-career professionals is the ability to collaborate. Fifty-five percent of employers put a premium on the ability to work well with others. A close runner-up was the ability to work hard, with 52 percent of employers preferring candidates who have strong work ethics and go above and beyond.

    Having a positive attitude also goes a long way for 45 percent of employers, while 31 percent said being passionate by demonstrating enthusiasm for their work and the business’s values is also important.

    Additionally, employers look for candidates who are organised (twenty nine percent) and resilient (twenty one percent).

    Role-based skills
    The types of skills employers are looking for also depends highly on the position and industry they work in. LinkedIn’s study found that hiring managers look for these specific skill sets when interviewing and hiring for sales, marketing and consulting roles:

    For sales roles: Candidates should possess strong oral communication skills and a good attitude that shows optimism and maintains positive energy.
    For marketing/PR roles: Creativity, passion and strong written communication skills are key to a great hire.
    For consulting roles: Employers look for candidates with strong analytical and written communication skills.

    Hiring managers, do you agree with the above statistics? What other skills sets are important to you when it comes to the ideal employee for your office team?


  2. How being a temp can make the way for your future

    March 4, 2014 by Jenna

    Whether you are a new graduate, preparing for a career change or on a working holiday visa, temporary work will not only help you get by with living expenses, it can help pave the way for future roles.

    When I had finished my Diploma in Event Management at TAFE, I was also taking on many paid and unpaid positions for different companies. My logic behind doing this was that I knew the events industry was very competitive and in high demand by candidates. I also knew that regardless of my Diploma I lacked practical experience in the field; however, being passionate about it I wanted to do what it takes to land the role that I was looking for. This is what I gained from temping and contract roles:

    It’s all about who you know – I researched organisations, I followed industry news on upcoming events, and I contacted Event Managers directly to offer my assistance in any way that I could to find out more about the industry and what is involved in organising events. I built a network of contacts and recommendations to help further my progression. It was also a chance to also prove that I was willing to work hard and learn new skills. Relationships you develop with industry contacts can also lead you to a more permanent role in the future.

    Working with different companies helps you to become more adaptable to different environments – The events industry is quite broad so I took advantage of it by working in offices directing calls and reception duties, processing payments and donations for not-for-profit events and data entry for client registrations. I even worked onsite on a customer service level at exhibitions, provided fine dining service for gala dinners and assisting with labour set up for conferences. This was a real eye opener, but it also allowed me the opportunity to ask questions and document my experiences. I think it’s a great opportunity to experience different work experience so that you can better establish was works and what doesn’t work for you.

    You can develop practical and transferrable skills – I found that by assisting in a corporate office environment to practical hands on experience I am still able to use these skills in the field of recruitment today. It is also important to remember that even the simplest of roles – such as putting labels on swipe cards or attaching name badges to lanyards are important ways for you to understand the processes involved before moving your way up in the industry of your choice. Don’t ever consider tasks in a temp position to be a waste of time and therefore not apply yourself 100% to your tasks. Companies are testing you at all times, and if you cannot complete the simplest of tasks then how are you expecting to move up into roles of further responsibility?

    • It gives you a routine and purpose – There is nothing worse than being bored or losing your daily routine when you are in between jobs or currently looking for work. Temping can help maintain a good working routine, even if it is short term. Having a level of responsibility is important too because it gives you a sense of purpose. When you are bored or not connecting on a daily basis you can develop a more laid back routine and you can start developing a less enthusiastic approach to job searching and work in general. Even if the temp role may not be in the exact direction you are hoping to move towards, just remember that each experience is a stepping stone, and you never know what opportunities can open up as a result.

    For those of you that are considering the path of temporary work, just remember to give each role and experience the best you have to offer. Have a positive attitude towards your assigned tasks and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I will always be thankful for where temporary and contract roles have lead me, the people I have met and worked with and the knowledge that I have gained.

    Have you worked as a temp staff member before or are currently working as a temp staff member? Where has it lead you on your career path?


  3. We can each set a daily goal but what is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal for 2014?

    January 13, 2014 by Jenna

    “A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” —Collins and Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

    Many of us have heard of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) when it comes to business, but how often are you setting a BHAG in your personal life?

    While working together to achieve a BHAG for an organisation is very important, you also need to make sure that you are setting personal goals that keep driving you – something that you will remain passionate about throughout the year. Not only will it help you build the confidence and enhance your ability to take on daily tasks but when you achieve your personal goals it will teach you more about yourself – your limits, what you are capable of, and where your goals can lead you in your future.

    You may have set goals before, and this blog may be triggering a ‘been there, done that’ response, but perhaps you need to set something bigger, more challenging, and even something more worthwhile to pursue this year. After all:

    ‘Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    A BHAG can be different for everyone. For 2013, I learned that I was able to achieve some pretty big goals, allowing myself up to a year in advance to train and prepare, and I overcame some incredible obstacles along the way. For me it was Everest Base Camp (Nepal) and the Kokoda Trail (Papua New Guinea), and I made it back in one piece to tell the tale.

    You also need to understand that the bigger the goal, the more mixed responses you will receive from others, especially from those that have yet to step outside of their own comfort zone. For many people in my life, those types of adventures were not often considered a ‘holiday experience’ and I was often told, ‘you’re crazy’ or asked, ‘why out of all places would you go there?’ Frankly I can’t blame them, because not everyone shares the same point of view.

    Realisation 1: I knew that I was not achieving these goals to please everyone or show them that I could do it. These were my dreams, my challenges and my goals to achieve. At the end of the day, I knew that those closest to me and those who knew that I was passionate about achieving my goals would be there for me regardless of how unfathomable the idea may have seemed. You will come across ‘naysayers’ and difficult people at certain stages in your life, but do not hold grudges against them and instead use them as a stepping stone to help you achieve success.

    Realisation 2: To achieve the goal it often has to be mind over matter. I could have the plans laid out in front of me, the best resources available, and the door of opportunity open waiting for me to walk through, but I had to make that conscious decision to step forward and keep pushing myself mentally to get there. As Sir Edmund Hillary once said, ‘It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.’

    The temptation to sleep in, eat unhealthy food or make up excuses to miss training did not work in my benefit. This applies in any circumstance but the moment you realise you have done so, take the necessary measures to get back on track again and learn from your mistakes. If a similar situation arises again you can then find ways to avoid the temptation and grow stronger.

    Maybe you are already a high achiever at work and for you a BHAG for this year may be to make more time to do the little things in your life that make you happy. It can be hard to make time, but will you be a more balanced and fulfilled person as a result? I think you will be quite surprised once you start making the steps to get there!

    I found an article recently on Inc.com that outlined ‘What is distinctive about BHAG-driven leaders’:

    The true BHAG-orientated leader is less interested in success. You’re more interested in the sheer exhilarating pain of the journey. You’re not going to have that immediate gratification of accomplishment. You are going to be immersed in it and working and suffering toward it for a long time–the way artists suffer. You have to enjoy that sense of extended discomfort. It’s the quest, it’s the training, it’s the growth, it’s pushing yourself. You really get off on that. If you think standing at the top of the cliff is where the joy is, you don’t understand it. The real joy is in all the pain and growth and suffering and creativity required long before you get to the summit.

    Now a BHAG goal does not necessarily mean you need to physically climb a mountain, but there are things in our lives that appear so gigantic that they may as well be the in the same ball park. And it may even be so big that it will take you past 2014 to achieve it. But what is holding you back from starting now?

    Realisation 3: It is okay to ask for help when it comes to achieving your BHAG. I have moments where I get so driven to achieve the goal that when a helping hand is offered I quickly dismiss it at the idea that ‘I must do everything on my own’. We can only juggle so much, and when I would get set back due to ‘overload’ or ‘fatigue’ it was only my pride that was bruised in the end. So what did I do to overcome this?

    • I sought out a trainer/mentor – Someone I could seek advice from and also someone that could check in on my progress so I could be held accountable. We can push ourselves, but sometimes it is great to be pushed by external forces as well. Not to mention having someone to encourage you and motivate you gives you a great amount of positive energy!
    • Taking breaks to catch up with a friend/colleague – Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the task that we don’t let our mind rest! Do something fun with someone close to you, even if it is a ten minute coffee catch up. Release, have a conversation, laugh and relax.

    Even if it seems very out of focus now, write down your BHAG and let your goals mould and form into something. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your goal, no matter how crazy it may seem! Do your research, take the necessary steps to plan and prepare as well as reach inside yourself to find out what you are capable of.

    Have you achieved a Big Hairy Audacious Goal before? If so, what did you have to do to achieve it? Where did it take you?


  4. Have you ever considered a career action plan?

    October 9, 2013 by Jenna

    ‘A goal without an action plan is a daydream.’ – Nathaniel Branden

    We have covered personal goals earlier in September, but now I would like to focus on careers, and what I liked about putting together an ‘action plan’ is that it is more than just writing down an aspiration, it is something that drives what you want to accomplish.

    You may be wanting to step up in your current role or you may want to change roles (or even career paths) but regardless of where you are I hope you can benefit from some of the steps I have found beneficial in putting career goals into action.

    1. My Profile – Understanding who I am and what I want to achieve

    What you want to do with your career is not up to anyone else but you. As with personal passions are you in line with what you are passionate about professionally? What steps do I need to take to get to where you want in your career?

    • Have you considered career guidance to reflect on your strengths, career interests and where you want to take your career next?

    • Update resume and LinkedIn profile – are they all up to date and accurately represent you and the next career step you want to take?

    • Audience – Who are you trying to reach out to so that you can start getting your career goals on track? Are you connecting with others through networking? Is your boss aware of what you are currently seeking or trying to achieve? Are you presenting levels of enthusiasm and reaching out for opportunities when they present themselves?

    2. My Progress – Reflecting on my past achievements and what I have gained up until this stage of my career.

    Let’s face it, what we have achieved or have made decisions on in the past have led us to where we are today. Whether it is training courses, networking events, recognition for hard work resulting in promotions/ publications etc.

    Once you have accurately reviewed your previous achievements, ask yourself:

    • What can you learn from these experiences to get you ahead?

    • How can they be a benefit for you now (e.g. transferrable skills)?

    • Is there anything that you need to be refreshed on?• What have you achieved recently to take you to that next step in your career?

    • Are there any courses or projects that you can put your hand up for at the moment?

    3. My Goals and Plans – What am I hoping to achieve and by when?

    This is similar to what I have covered with personal goals. You cannot expect to complete any goal unless you write it down and put a timeframe on it.

    Some people have one year, five year or even ten year goal plans. Take the time to brainstorm, set out a plan, and then for that first year break down the tasks to achievable timeframes (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, every six months etc.) Just think of it like a daily schedule that has been extended by twelve months!

    It can be hard sometimes to imagine where you will end up in six months’ time let alone a year or more but having a sense of direction is the key. It’s the force that drives you even if the direction might change slightly or may not go exactly according to plan. Having written goals and plans lead you into action, and keep the list near you or in your calendar as a reminder so you don’t fall off track. It will save you from distraction. This helps me more than anything to have reminders and information written down so that I can act now and also plan ahead.

    4. My Review – My continual follow up and reflection on where my career goals have taken me to move on to the next step

    Managing your career means managing your progression. Once you have reached one of your goals and ticked it off your list it is important to reflect on the steps you took to achieve the goal. Established what had worked and what didn’t work so that you know what to avoid in the future.

    • Have you received any valuable feedback or direction from someone along the way?

    • Have any doors opened as a result of completing this goal?

    • Do you need to tweak any of your remaining goals?

    There can also be the case where your goals have not gone according to plan. If not handled properly it can leave you bitter and disappointed. It could even lead to you giving up on that direction all together. My advice on this point would be to make sure to evaluate all avenues before letting go of any goals. If you are not open to the prospect:

    • That other doors may open as a result of this roadblock or

    • Asking yourself if you could review this at a later stage (if it wasn’t the right time)

    Then you could be missing out on potential opportunity. And if something is really bothering you, speak to someone you can trust – a friend, family member, a mentor or colleague. Having a second opinion can really help you make your decision.

    Have you ever had a career action plan? If so, where has it taken you in your career?


  5. What to do when your job search isn’t working

    May 6, 2013 by Jenna

    Job searching is hard. We have all been in that situation where there is seemingly nothing to apply for. And when you do find a job to apply for, you are often competing with many other people with only one job to fill.

    It can be an isolating and discouraging experience. Especially when you are told “you were not successful to the next round” or you don’t hear from the recruiter at all. Sometimes you can get so frustrated and tired of rejection that you just want to give up. Or worse – with your motivation waning you start chucking resumes or put less effort into the application process – often hurting your chances for landing that job even more.

    Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

    – Joshua J Marine

    At a breakfast event I attended last week Michelle Bridges, best known as a Personal Trainer on The Biggest Loser, shared the story of how she found her inner brand.  She was talking about starting her own business, but I think the same lessons apply to job searching. She posed these questions to the audience:

    • What do I stand for?

    • How do I want to be known?

    • What is my unique message?

    • Who am I trying to talk to?

    Her last point was headlined ‘A Voice’, knowing that you have one and making yourself heard. This can often be easier said than done but it does take persistence. When we look at celebrities like Michelle Bridges we often think, ‘easy for you to say’ or we can often assume that they have the perfect life. But do you think she didn’t get to where she was today without being pushed back or rejected?

    Michelle grew up with the mentality that she could be anything that she wanted to be, and she didn’t walk away the moment she was rejected, especially when it came to something she was passionate about. She would go back again and again if necessary. And when it came to set-backs, she posed the following questions:

    • What part of me am I not backing?

    • Who can I call, email today? Further to that, are you following up after the initial point of contact has been made?

    • Who is holding you back?

    • Cut the saboteurs – Eliminate those factors that put you down or that aren’t helping you go forward. This can also include people in your life that are putting you down more than encouraging you.

    • New medium, different approach, fresh – Are you finding that your current job search  work isn’t working? Have you tried a new approach, asked for advice or tried to look at your approach through a fresh set of eyes?

    Once you have reflected on what is most important to you and looked at what is holding you back, now is the time to just do it. Action breeds more action, and helps you to keep motivated. Here are some ways you can start making things happen in your job search:

    • List your positives. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself, including skills, personality traits, accomplishments, and successes. Write down projects you’re proud of, situations where you excelled, and things you’re good at. Revisit this list often to remind yourself of your strengths. This will also be very helpful for when you are in that job interview and they ask what your strengths are?

    • Keep a regular daily routine. When you no longer have a job you can easily lose motivation. Treat your job search like a job, with a daily “start” and “end” time. Following a set schedule will help you be more efficient and productive. And even more importantly, just like at work, give yourself break times. Schedule coffee catch-ups with friends, go for walks, or schedule time to do things that you really enjoy. You will be much more productive in your job search when you schedule breaks and give yourself a daily routine.

    • Create a job search plan. Instead of trying to do everything at once, set priorities or specific actions for your day. If you’re not having luck in your job search, take some time to rethink your actions. Does your resume need to be re-developed? Who in your network knows people that could help you? How many job applications have you followed up?

    • Volunteer. Unemployment can wear on your self-esteem and make you feel useless. Volunteering helps you maintain a sense of value and purpose. And helping others is an instantaneous mood booster. Volunteering can also provide career experience, social support, and networking opportunities. Could you help at your local school, not-for-profit or church?

    • Focus on the things you can control. You can’t control how quickly a potential employer calls you back or whether or not they decide to hire you. Rather than wasting your precious energy on things that are out of your hands, turn your attention to things you can control, such as writing a great cover letter and resume tailored to the company you want to work for and setting up meetings with your networking contacts or calling to follow up a job application.

    So take action and start making changes if you are not seeing results, you will end up thanking yourself for it. And as Michelle Bridges finished off, ‘Be brave, be courageous, be inspired – today!’

    Any advice that you have for jobseekers out there? Or if you are one, have you been to our Job Search page of our website?


  6. The Candidate Follow Up Call When Applying For A Job: Advantage or Annoyance?

    March 20, 2012 by Jenna

    The job market is a competitive one when it comes to setting yourself ahead of those applicants who are all applying for that ‘perfect job’ at the same time. So how do we set ourselves ahead of the rest? How do we make ourselves more than just a piece of paper?

    If you are passionate about a position of course you are going to want to pick up the phone and make that call. This will establish a more personable approach, to allow the employer to identify with not only your qualifications but your personality and communication skills. Often this will open up the opportunity to meet face to face for the interview process.

    On the other hand, when is the follow up call a disadvantage? This was something that I wanted to gain perspective on from other organisations out there who may know what I am referring to. While some candidates believe that the follow up call(s) improves their chances, it can often be causing the opposite effect, if it isn’t being utilised properly.

    I will give you an example. We had recently advertised a position online and were receiving a high number of applications for the role. A potential candidate contacted our office requesting to speak to a consultant as they wanted to meet in person to discuss the role and take part in an interview. Great initiative and confidence right?

    I asked the candidate if they had applied online for the role or provided our company with any details about themselves or a CV with their experience/qualifications. The candidate had not done so, however, they wanted to hand over the CV in person to the consultant when they came in to have an interview.

    When working in recruitment, we need to show our clients the details of the potential candidates and review the applications before shortlisting for the interview process. We then need to schedule an appropriate appointment once the shortlist had been reviewed and after the interview takes place, to provide feedback to our clients to then look into conducting a second interview with the client directly.

    When I explained to the ‘potential candidate’ that we would first require their information and would then be in touch once reviewing the applications for this position, the candidate would simply not accept my recommendation to submit the details and asked to speak to a consultant directly. I obliged and put them through to the consultant, to which the same information was repeated to the candidate that I had requested…

    I’m not saying that all candidates react this way when a position is advertised, but for this particular candidate behaving in a pushy to almost demanding approach in applying for the job, and their inability to take instruction when I was trying to guide them into the right direction did not make them a top choice to recommend to the client in my eyes. Would you agree? Especially when two people in the office had to explain the application process before the interview could even take place!

    Another disadvantage I often experience with candidate calls is this – Venting frustration over the phone if you have not received a personal phone call confirming if you are accepted/declined for the interview process – While I understand that this can be a slow process at times, it is important to consider that there may be over 300 applications coming in for the same role, and contacting each candidate personally can be even more time consuming if not impossible for the recruiter to complete. I think one of the worst mistakes is to take it personally (especially getting upset over the phone at your potential recruiter) because again, having a bad temper doesn’t often make a stand-out candidate… in a good way.

    While conducting some research on this topic, a website called www.theladders.com outlines the following: ‘If the job posting doesn’t provide a clear closing date, HR experts and career coaches generally agree that one week after applying is an appropriate amount of time to wait before you follow up… don’t ask why you haven’t been called yet. Instead, keep the tone of the conversation or email light and friendly, and, if you can, slip in a few questions and have a bit of a conversation if it seems appropriate.’

    Another website I reviewed called www.jobsearch.about.com had the following four tips below on the follow up process after an interview:

    1. First, you want to get the business card from the person you interviewed with. The best way to get it is ask the interviewer before you leave. On most cards will be the three things you want.

    1) The correctly spelled name and title. 2) The street address. 3) The interviewer’s email address.

    2. Second, you send him/her a thank you email for the interview that very evening so it’s waiting for them when the recruiter gets to work the next morning.

    3. Third, you make a follow-up phone call to the interviewer on the fifth day after the interview. Let them know of your continued interest in the job and ask if there is any further information they needs from you. If the person who interviewed you is not available when you call, leave that basic message on their voice mail.

    4. Fourth, you send a snail mail letter to them ASAP. I call this the “reverse cover letter.” It basically expresses your interest in the job and summarises some of your strongest points as they relate to the job. About now many interviewers are thinking, “Wow, if this is the professional manner this applicant works this is the kind of person we want.” From that point on, just once a week, you politely alternate between phone, email and snail mail until she says you got the job or someone else got the job.

    The responses from our poll respondents seem to reflect that the follow up call can often encompass both advantages and annoyances and can be summarised as this:

    Advantage:

    • You can set yourself apart & make yourself memorable by making the follow up call, however, make sure you have you have some basic questions applicable to the role so the calls’ purpose isn’t just to introduce yourself but to also show interest and initiative with legitimate questions
    • Having personal contact is a definite advantage but they (the candidate) should always be pleasant about it and not be too pushy
    • I think if handled professionally, potential candidates (with specified qualifications) have an opportunity to make a solid first impression as long as they are respectful of the recruiter’s time.

    Annoyance:

    • The candidate should not appear desperate and call multiple times
    • If they call without the appropriate qualifications for the job
    • Don’t stalk your recruiter, especially if they say they will call back. They may not be a person that likes follow up calls, so pushing will only make you appear difficult

    I hope this provides a little more perspective to the applicants who are out there and are currently looking for employment, and if you haven’t had your say, please make a comment below or you can participate in this week’s poll: What qualities do YOU think represent a remarkable boss?




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