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Last week, my colleague Rachael and I facilitated free career coaching sessions to administrative professionals in the Ballarat area. With 2020 throwing us a curveball that no-one expected, many people have used this time to reassess life choices and for many it has included reflecting on their career. Throughout the sessions, Rachael and I found that there were a couple of themes that were common across the sessions:
Defining your direction
What role are you looking for?
This is often a question that people struggle to answer. Rather than thinking of the role you’re looking for in terms of job titles (which are forever changing), take a step back and delve deeper into your purpose and motivators. Think back to the favourite role you have had in your career and reflect on what you liked about it, what got you out of bed every day with a spring in your step? Further to this, think about what values are important to you in the workplace. I’d encourage you to take some time to reflect on what these values are in order to help you define your direction and gain further clarity on your next career step.
I commenced my career in administration and was at a crossroads early on in my career, lacking direction in knowing what my next step was. By completing this exercise, I was able to identify what values were important to me in the workplace and these were the underlying reason for my dissatisfaction in my role at the time as many of these values were not being met. One of the values important to me is being valued for my contribution. I’m not talking monetary value here but a simple “thank you” or “thanks for your efforts this week, have a great weekend”. It may sound like a minor thing, but these simple words make such a difference to me. If I’m valued, I’m engaged and invested and always strive to do my best. Along with other values it allowed me to explore work opportunities where this was inherent in a company’s culture and my next Manager. Little did I know at the time that by taking the time to reassess what was important to me, it paved my entry into the recruitment industry and propelled me to where I am today.
Nailing the Interview
The other common theme focussed on honing in on interview techniques and how to ensure you can present the best version of you. I’m sure many of you reading this have had an interview where you’ve left and had that feeling that you could have done better. What can you do to stand out from the crowd? What is your point of difference? It’s important to focus on the elements that you can control and that is where your preparation for an interview is critical. The key is to practice, practice and practice some more! I would encourage you to do the following for each and every interview you attend:
- Review and reflect on your career ensuring you have re-familiarised yourself with employment dates of previous roles and key responsibilities.
- Review the advertisement and relevant position description in detail so you can link your previous experience to the key requirements of the role.
- Be prepared for the interviews with specific examples to demonstrate your experience. Identify the key skills and attributes required for the role and prepare specific examples using the SAO Method (Situation – Action – Outcome). Practice your answers out loud to perfect your response. Remember that past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour, your future employer wants to know how you will perform in their role, so set the scene, share your experience and let them begin to understand how those skills will transfer across to benefit their business.
- Do your research! Review the company’s website, social media accounts, talk to your network – if you know people who work there; get their insight. How do the company’s values align to yours? Try and weave these values into the examples I mentioned above.
- Dress the part – never underestimate how important a first impression is!
One question that I was asked was “What should I ask in the interview?” I’ve facilitated interviews where candidates comment that their questions have been answered in the interview and they are then often unsure what to ask. Use this time to make yourself stand out from your competition and to gain further intel regarding the company you could be working for. Remember the interview process is a chance for you to interview your potential employer as much as they are interviewing you. Some questions could include:
- What skills do you believe are required for someone to succeed in this role?
- How will you know if I’m doing a good job?
- How will my performance be measured?
- What is the makeup of my team? How many people? How long have they been with the company for?
By this stage of the interview, formal questions are often finished and the conversation can sometimes be more relaxed. By asking a few simple questions, you may gain more insight into a company and their culture and this also allows your potential employer to gain further insight to you as well.
I facilitated one session with a candidate who had an interview scheduled that afternoon. We discussed some of the above strategies and I was so excited to receive this email from her the following day:
Great news on the job front.
The interview went well on Monday and I have been offered and accepted the position.
I start on Monday.
I was advised that I impressed the boss during the interview.
Thank you for spending the half hour with me on Monday, to go through interview techniques and ideas. That to me was vital.”
If you would like to obtain some further information regarding these topics or be notified of future career coaching events, please feel free to register your interest my emailing me at [email protected].
Megan Vila Pouca has over 10 years’ experience in the recruitment industry and is Inspire HQ’s Business Support specialist. Megan has a personalised approach to partnering with businesses she recruits for; knowing and understanding the business and the culture is critical for her. Not only does this ensure Megan recruits the best of the best for her clients but it also ensures her clients are able to retain the best talent. Passionate about assisting others and understanding people’s genuine motivations and what gives them job satisfaction is what drives Megan. She loves being able to assist people in taking that next step in their career and coaching and mentoring them on that journey. Building strong relationships is what Megan is all about. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Megan on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.