Category: Articles

How to use technology to land your dream job

Your dream job is out there, somewhere; you’ve just got to find it. And according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are plenty of options for you. In May this year there were approximately 146, 000 job vacancies in Australia, up 2.1% from February, and whilst it’s likely that out of all those positions there are some that don’t fall into that dream category of yours, unless you’re blessed with some kind of inhuman super job scouring strength, you won’t necessarily even be in a position to know.

Figuring out how to separate the wheat from the chaff in the job market can seem like a task of biblical proportions for your average job seeker, but for those willing to take advantage of the technologies available to them, finding the perfect role is more possible now than ever before.    

top tip 1: use your mobile

According to research conducted by Google and Ipsos Media in 2013, 77% of Australians don’t leave their homes without their device. Furthermore, 82% of the population uses their phone on the go with 75% also using a device at work. Needless to say, and as the ‘Our Mobile Planet: Australia’ report finds, smartphones are “indispensable to daily life”.

So how can your smartphone help you find that once in a lifetime role?

Start by using an effective platform to search for jobs. Sites that are optimised for mobile use don’t just look like miniature versions of a website, they are fully responsive, which means jobs are easy to view no matter where you are or what device you use. Features to help you find the right jobs include those on the new Randstad website like:

  • Simplified application processes (without lengthy application forms)
  • Easy to use navigation menus
  • Buttons positioned and sized for smaller screens
  • Adapted mobile advertising, if it applies

If you’re prepared, applying directly via a mobile device is oftentimes more efficient than using a desktop computer.

top tip 2: optimise your CV

Scott Belsky, Vice President of Community at Adobe, says, “Optimisation isn’t about making drastic changes…the key to optimisation is making incremental tweaks…” As such, you don’t need to reinvent your CV to get the most out of it; you just need to optimise it. According to Google’s ‘The New Multi-screen World’ report, 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal, so having a version of your CV saved to your mobile device will greatly decrease barriers that prevent you from applying to a job ad at a minute’s notice.

Users can also use cloud technology such as Google Drive, Dropbox and We Transfer to store and send resumes. Increasingly, employers are enabling job seekers to apply through sites such as LinkedIn and The Loop, which means you should ensure your CV is adaptable across multiple social platforms. If you choose to host your CV on a website, you may also wish to include key words and a simplified bullet point structure.

top tip 3: personalised search

Lastly, make searching for jobs even more efficient by taking advantage of the personalised search feature on the new Randstad website. Once you have created a myrandstad account, allow the technology to find relevant jobs for you based on your previous searches.

As the trend towards mobile continues to penetrate the recruitment industry, smart job seekers will get ahead by essentially automating processes. By using mobile devices, having their applications optimised for all opportunities and relying on recommended job ads based on previous user behaviour, these applicants are in a better position to find their dream job than those with no considered approach to utilising the technology around them.

Getting head hunted

Have you always wondered why your friends and colleagues seem to get that tap on the shoulder with amazing jobs offers, with perks and career progression?

You work hard, but sometimes, you feel a bit un-noticed. It’s time to get noticed! Here are 5 tips to help you on the way to being head hunted.

1. Your personal brand

We hear a lot about our own personal profile, and in a world of social media and communication apps, it is more important than ever to have a clean and clear online image that really reflects who you are and what you stand for. Your whole online presence is an ever changing resume, so keep it nice, and aim for continuity, integrity and interesting content.

2. Work beautifully

The very best recommendations will come from ex-colleagues, and managers, or even suppliers and customers. Remember the customer whose problem you solved? Remember when you didn’t yell at your supplier, but helped them resolve the issue? Remember when you created a new strategy and shared the credit with your team? If you work well with others, are highly regarded, and even if you work in a seriously difficult situation – the way you operate every day is your best advertisement.

3. Align yourself with influencers

Influencers are those people with a great profile online and excellent social connections. They know other ‘power’ people and often have senior roles. Most importantly, they are well respected in their space. They would be the type of people you would use as referees and they will naturally want to recommend you if they get the chance. Pay it forward, do a good deed, share a post of theirs – show them that you are engaged in their world.

4. Be visible & approachable

Get out there, go to industry events and start talking with people. Catch up for a coffee with contacts in industries that interest you. Make connections via Linkedin, start talking to recruiters, use your personal network as well. If the opportunity comes up, you can mention that you are open minded to new opportunities. Reciprocate too, if people ask you out for a coffee, take every opportunity, you never know where it will lead. Be generous with your time and support and don’t forget to switch your Linkedin profile to ‘open to opportunities’ to get the word out. (Need Linkedin profile advice?)

5. Keep your cool

When all the elements combine and you get that delicious mystery phone call with a job opportunity to explore, try not to get too excited and accept the role! A head hunter will make the first tenuous steps of communication after a swag of research. They already think you are a good option. You need to strongly consider whether the role is a genuine fit for you, in terms of wages, culture, industry and more. Most importantly, you need to understand that they are not ‘offering’ you the role, but just the chance to discuss and interview for it. Don’t be so flattered that you want to take the role straight away- this will actually send a red flag to the head hunter and could make you look a bit desperate.

By keeping these 5 points uppermost in your mind and being aware of the way you operate in your work and social life, you are well on the way to being head hunted. If you are working well and enjoying life, people will be drawn to you and exciting opportunities will start to drop into your lap!

Have Courage and be Kind

Lessons we can learn from Disney and how we
can apply them to our business lives

What is better
than cuddling up with your daughter, watching a Disney movie on a rainy
Saturday afternoon? A few years ago, I had the pleasure of watching Disney’s
Cinderella in such circumstances.

One thing puzzled
me during that movie. Why did Ella’s (Cinderella’s) mom wait until she was on
her deathbed before she shared her wisdom?

“a great secret that will see you through all the
trials life has to offer… have courage and be kind”

In this modern-day
Cinderella remake, the message is so different from previous versions, that is
what makes this one so refreshing and relevant. Today’s version is more of a
young woman whose naiveté is far sweeter when accompanied by her steely resolve
to achieve success no matter what.

After her dear
mother dies, Ella is courageous and she is kind to everyone, including her
cruel and twisted stepmother and stepsisters who continually bully and belittle
her.

Sure, Cinderella
looks stunning but it’s more her inner beauty that captures attention – her courage and her kindness. Everyone has
inner beauty, and it’s not only the stuff of fairy tales.

Since that day,
the last thing I say to my daughter as I tuck her into bed each night is “have
courage and be kind”. What better motto for a child growing up? One day she may
be a businesswoman, a leader in the community, and hopefully she will carry
this motto with her and apply it to everyday situations.

Kindness: “the
quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

Courage: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain without fear.” I explain courage to my daughter as “doing something even when you’re scared to do it”

At first it might
seem odd to merge kindness and courage together as core values but if you stop
and think about it those two characteristics, when blended together they can
help you get through most life situations. Kindness helps you appreciate others,
even when they may not act in a way that appears to deserve that tolerance.
Courage helps you live with integrity, even when you are fearful of the consequences.

We need to have courage
and kindness in our lives and often we need them both in the same moment – for
example, at times in our lives it will take great courage to treat someone well.
It will also take great courage to know when to walk away from situations or
people that aren’t good for you.  Ultimately it will take kindness to
forgive and walk away without feelings of malice or anger. Courage is what
helps you to continue moving forward with your life.

How can we have courage when others mistreat us? Why should we be kind to those who are cruel?

Let’s face it, life isn’t a fairy-tale. People will
mistreat you, sometimes for no good reason besides to see you fall. Cinderella chose
to act bravely and kind because she was a princess – not by blood, but a true
princess at heart.

Sometimes,
the life you live becomes your downfall. Your daily life can become so rough
that you begin to lose sight of your personal values. Increasing stress and
demands threaten to rob you of your passion for achieving your happiness.

Some
people come into your life and you want them to stick around forever, but they
don’t. Pressures start out small, but they build continuously. It is important
not to lose sight of what makes you special and what got you where you are.

You
have a choice to make in the face of corporate bullying. Do you choose to
continue to allow yourself to be broken down and destroyed? Or will you rise
above it, making use of your core values and beliefs?

So, when you encounter bullies at school, home or
at work, remember this: Cinderella rose above, remaining hopeful and kind until
things finally worked
out in her favour. She is not weak; she is resilient and strong.

Kindness is not weakness – it is strength

Have
the courage to remain kind. Stand proud when life begins to pull you down. Try
not to become bitter; that is letting the bad guys win. Stay humble in the face
of the too-proud.

This
is not to say you should become a doormat. Stand up for yourself and for what
is right in the face of so much wrong. Just do it in a way that maintains your values.
Two wrongs never make a right.

Choose
to be happy. Have courage and be kind.

Video Interviews

Video job interviews are an increasingly common part of the hiring
process. In substance, the content of video interviews are similar to in-person
or phone interviews.

Companies
see many benefits
 in
using video technology to vet candidates. With a video interview, you have most
of the benefits of seeing a candidate in person, but without the hassle/expense
of actually meeting them (especially if someone would have to fly or drive to a
different city).

Preparation

Do your research as you
would for a face-to-face interview. Prepare by researching the company, reviewing the
job requirements and rehearsing possible interview questions.

Set up and test your
technology. Video
interviews are not only for tech savvy millennials, the software is
straightforward and accessible for everyone. It can also be done on any device
including a PC, tablet or smartphone, so choose the technology you feel most
comfortable with.

  • Set up and
    test your webcam or smartphone camera.
  • Set up and
    test the microphone.
  • Ensure
    your internet and bandwidth is capable of handling a video link, and that you
    have enough data.
  • Check
    your battery, if your device is not fully charged you could plug it in
    throughout the interview.
  • If any
    software or apps or required for the interview, ensure you have downloaded it
    well in advance.
  • Video
    interviews will typically give you the option of using a telephone connection
    for volume, or the sound will be available through the video link. Ensure you
    have tested both methods prior to the interview.
  • Things
    can go wrong with technology, and Murphy’s Law unfortunately isn’t in your
    favour. Before the interview, ask the interviewer for a phone number where you
    can reach them if you experience technical difficulties. If the video cuts out,
    call them at that number. Ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if
    you can reschedule.

Find the perfect
location. You want
your interviewer to focus on you and not be distracted by your background.

  • Lighting is critical. Run a trial
    run, filming yourself and consider whether the lighting flatters you. Avoid bright
    lights behind you or dark shadows on your face.
  • Ensure there is nothing on the
    bookshelf, wall, or your computer screen behind you that you wouldn’t want an
    employer to see.
  • Avoid interruptions. You don’t
    want background noise from the TV, your kids or dog. If you’re not the only one
    at home we suggest you brief everyone in advance, and even go as far as locking
    the door.

Body Language counts!

Eye
contact is crucial during an in-person interview, so too during a video
interview. Eye contact in a video takes some practice. It’s important to avoid
the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re
answering a question. Instead, when you speak, look towards at the webcam. A
good trick is to resize and move the window with the person’s video image as
close to your webcam as possible.

By doing this, your eyes are more likely
to align with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end. When you’re
listening, you can look at the interviewer on the screen. Avoid letting your
gaze drift away from the device. Also try avoid staring serial-killer style!

Throughout the interview, convey optimism with an upbeat mood and positive body language. One way to achieve this is to have good posture. Sit in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders open. Feet can be planted on the floor and arms can rest in your lap or on the desk. Find a nice, comfortable balance between leaning forward and reclining too far back.

When you’re listening, nod and smile
when appropriate, use hand gestures when required and keep your movements close
to your body. Some gestures that are fine in person can be distracting on
video. Try not to twirl your hair, touch your forehead, chin or nose.

Try
not to be too goofy or laugh at every joke. The smile is meant to be a tool to
show that you’re a pleasant person to work with, you have reasonably good
social awareness, and have a good dose of enthusiasm and confidence.

Have
a glass of water handy. If your voice goes croaky, or if you simply want to
pause for a moment to gather your thoughts before you answer a question – a
glass of water is a perfect tool.

At the conclusion of the interview

As with any job interview, you should conclude by thanking the
interviewer for their time. As you don’t have the option of a hand shake, a
smile goes a long way.

Interview Hints

The interview will be the primary method of selection for the majority
of positions we recruit. Below are some suggestions that, together with
guidance from our staff, may help you to improve your interview performance for
the greatest chance of success.

What is a potential
employer commonly trying to assess?

In every interview, no matter how
junior or senior the position, the interviewer will likely be probing for the
answers to three basic questions:

  • Can
    you do the job well? (Your skills, qualifications, experience)
  • Will
    you do the job? (Your motivation, attitudes and career goals)
  • Will
    you fit into the team? (Your cultural match)

Preparation

The better prepared you are, the more relaxed and comfortable you will
be when the interview questions begin.

Developing an understanding of the business before the meeting can be a
vital component of securing a role. Handy information can often be found from
the company website, annual reports, and a simple internet search. LinkedIn is
another valuable tool but don’t be tempted to send a LinkedIn connection or
Facebook friend request to your interviewer!

It is common for one of the first interview questions to be “what do you
know about our us?”.

It is also valuable to spend some time reviewing your own CV and have a
clear understanding of how the key responsibilities and achievements of your
prospective role link to your previous employment.

Focus on the skills you believe offer most value to your prospective
employer. Whenever possible, relate your skills and experience to the role
requirements and always have practical examples ready to support your
statements. Be aware, particularly for senior candidates, there can be an idea
that “my experience or results speak for themselves”. Remember that job
interviews are a competitive process, so give yourself the best chance by
explaining not only what was achieved but how you made it happen.

Review some probable answers to likely questions in the interview. Provide
answers that are tailored to the position and paint a picture of you as being
positive and with the potential to add value. It is also essential that you
prepare your own questions so that, not only can you be sure that this is the
right opportunity for you but also so that you can demonstrate you are
particular in regard to the opportunity you are looking for.

Always treat the interview as a two-way discussion and answer questions
honestly, directly and keep to the point. Everyone present will be focusing
their attention on you, so clouding your answer with jargon or evading the
issue will be more obvious than you think. If you are not certain about a
particular question, do not be afraid to ask if it can be rephrased. Listen,
never interrupt and answer only what is asked.

The little things

  • Presentation
    can have a large influence on first impressions. Always attend an interview in
    corporate attire and if in doubt always err on the side of more formal as
    opposed to underdressed.
  • Be
    clear about the exact time, date and location of the interview as well as who
    you are meeting and be there five to ten minutes before the interview.
  • Listen
    as well as talk. This will give you valuable clues as to the responses
    required. Wait for the question to be concluded before commencing your
    response.
  • Be
    aware of your body language. Interviewers will pick up on a lack of congruence
    between what your mouth your body are saying.
  • Answer
    questions informatively but briefly. Never embellish the truth but don’t be
    afraid to sell your skills and accomplishments.
  • Avoid
    negativity in statements and body language. Interviewers look for positive,
    likable people and any persistent negative characteristics such as a lack of
    interest, enthusiasm or purpose regarding your career will reflect poorly.

End of the
interview

At the end of your interview, smile
and thank the people involved for their time. While decisions and job offers
are usually made some time after the interview(s), so it would not be
appropriate to ask for an assessment of your performance.

Tell me about yourself…

How to
answer the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question in an interview

Regardless of your industry, your experience level and your job type, some interview questions are almost guaranteed to come up. At the top of this list is the classic “Tell me about yourself…”

This
question is almost always asked first, straight right after some chit chat
about traffic or the weather. Since it’s often the first real question to be
asked in an interview, it’s your big chance to make a first impression with a
well-rehearsed answer.

View this question
is an opportunity, an opening for you to set the tone and emphasise the points
that you most want your potential employer to know about you. It’s an
opportunity to create a bold impression with your strongest selling points. Don’t
waste the opportunity by diving into a nervous stream of consciousness,
rehashing your resume or expressing your love for scrapbooking.

This is also an
opportunity to show that you can handle tough questions in a pressurised
situation. Be aware of your body language, your posture, eye contact, hand
gestures and your overall demeanour. Sometime the wording of your answers is
less important than creating the impression that you’d be able to stand in
front of the Board and successfully present the PowerPoint which will determine
the success or otherwise of the project.

The
Interviewer’s view point

When interviewers ask you, “Tell
me about yourself”, what are they trying to achieve? Well, for the
interviewer, it’s an easy and open-ended way to start the conversation, to
break the ice, to allow your nerves to settle, and to assess your ability to
respond concisely with an answer you’ve had time to prepare. Remember that in
most cases the interviewer really wants to like you. Their life will be easier
if they can find a great candidate quickly. Help them like you!

Do’s
and Don’ts for answering “Tell Me About Yourself”

Don’t rehash your resume in fine detail — Many candidates nervously
respond by launching into a recitation of their resume from the very beginning.
That can turn into a very long monologue that starts with their oldest and
least relevant experience. By the time you get to the good stuff, your
interviewer has zoned out and is thinking about the cricket score.

It’s
important to prepare a brief summary of the high points of each of your past
positions. Make sure you emphasise the points that are relevant to the role
you’re applying for.

Even
if the interviewer specifically asks you to “walk him
through your resume,”
 don’t take the suggestion too literally.
You can still lead with your elevator pitch and then an overview of your most
recent position. Leave plenty of opportunities for the interviewer to jump in
and engage with you throughout the rest of the interview.

Find the balance between confidence and bragging – Try not to make
the mistake of being too modest, nor too arrogant. Without bragging, provide a
response that demonstrates your confidence and communicates your qualifications.
Remember that by simply being in the interview you’re already ahead of the majority
of applicants whose CV’s were discarded. You’re there because you deserve to be
there.

Being
comfortable with “selling” yourself is a tricky art, but don’t be too humble. Competition
for any good job is fierce. Don’t rely on the interviewer to see past your
humble exterior and figure out how great you are.

If
you take time to prepare, you can find a way to present yourself to full
advantage while staying true to your personality. For modest types, I recommend
focusing on factual statements.

You
don’t have to brag, don’t go with “I’m the best salesperson in the
world.”
 Instead, you can say “I led my
division in sales for the last three years and was able to bring in 50% of overall
new business during that time.”

Don’t ramble. If, after you’ve been talking for a while, you think you might
be rambling it means you probably are. Nerves are normal and they affect us you’re
your response should be ideally less than a minute, and no more than 2 minutes.

You
won’t be able to fit all of your great qualities and resume highlights into 2
minutes, so you’ll have be selective in what you include. Emphasise your past
experiences that directly relate to the responsibilities of the role you’re
applying for.

You
could reinforce the number of years of experience in a particular industry or
area of specialisation. You might also highlight special training and technical
skills here. Focus on the qualifications in the job description and how you
meet and exceed the requirements.

You
can wrap up your answer by indicating why you are looking for a new challenge
and why you feel this role is the best next step.

The “Tell
Me About Yourself” formula

There are three
components to answering this question:

1. Who
You Are
 — Your first sentence should be an introduction to who
you are professionally, an overview statement that shows off your strengths and
gives a little sense of your personality too. This is not easy to do gracefully
on the fly. It pays to prepare a bit in advance.

  • Good: “I’m an innovative Finance Manager with 12
    years of experience managing all aspects of the Finance function in a variety
    of industries. My roles range from preparing and presenting month-end data, to
    analysing expenses to develop cost-saving initiatives.”
  • Bad: “Well, I grew up in South Africa. As a
    child, I originally wanted to be a game ranger, then later I became interested
    in playing cricket. I excelled in the games from early on, placing first in my
    fourth-grade Simon Says competition. Funny story about that…”

2.  Expertise Highlights —
Don’t assume that the interviewer has closely read your CV and knows your
qualifications. Use your elevator pitch to briefly highlight 2-4 points that
you think make you stand out. Make sure you only speak about tasks you’ve done
that will be relevant in the eyes of your potential future employer.

  • Good: “I have spent the last six years honing my
    skills as a Financial Controller for a global retail brand, where I have won
    several performance awards and been promoted twice. I love managing teams and
    solving problems.”
  • Bad: “My first job was as an accountant preparing
    tax returns for people much richer than me. I learned a great deal in that role
    that served me well over the next 16 years. At the time, I wasn’t sure about my
    career path, so I next took a position selling cupcakes at markets. It only
    lasted for six months, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Especially the chocolate
    ones”

3. Why
You’re Here
 — End by telling them you want the position and why. Be concise
and positive, don’t be too candid, uncertain, or negative.

  • Good: “Although I love my current role, I feel I’m
    now ready for a more challenging assignment and this position really excites
    me.”
  • Bad: “Because of the company’s financial problems
    and my boss’s personal issues (you know she’s going through a messy divorce),
    I’m worried about my job’s stability and decided to start looking for new
    opportunities.”

Remember that you
will have time later to walk through your resume in greater detail and fill in
any gaps that you don’t cover in this answer. Don’t try to squeeze in too much
information or your interviewer will start to tune out, make sure you keep
their attention with a concise and relevant response.

A good interview is
a dialogue not a monologue. Keep your responses concise and give your
interviewer the chance to dive in and ask questions later.

Practicing your
answer over and over will be the key to success, use the mirror and a stopwatch
as tools for success.

Behavioural based questions – STAR Method

Behavioural based interview
questions

Do you struggle to give concise answers to interview questions?
Are you unsure how to share your accomplishments during an interview without
sounding boastful? Or too modest?

Most employers will try to connect past and future behaviour, so in the interview process they will attempt to assess your future performance by enquiring about your past behaviour and actions. Behavioural based questions simply ask what you have done in the past. It is useful to be aware that your responses will be hypothetically critiqued against future anticipated behaviours.

The most common method for responding to behavioural based questions is
the ‘STAR’ method and often an interviewer, particularly those with a Human
Resources background will expect you to answer questions in this format or a
similar variant.

The ‘STAR’ methodology is a structured manner of responding to
competency/behavioural-based questions by providing examples of a Situation and
Tasks you were required to undertake, Actions you took and the Result that was
achieved. This method focusses your brain and allows you to provide
concrete examples or proof that you possess the experience and skills for the
job at hand.

Prior to the interview, it may help to read the job description and make
a list of the skills and experiences that are required for the role. Have
examples on the tip of your tongue of past experiences that match your
qualifications to those listed in the posting. When preparing for an interview,
trigger your brain to go into STAR mode if you hear a question starting with
phrases such as, “Describe a time when…” and “Share an example
of a situation where….”

The concepts of the STAR acronym comprise the following:

Situation – Briefly and concisely describe the situation to give context to your task, include when this occurred and highlight any resources that were available to you and any existing challenges. Provide an example of a situation from your past which you could foresee arising in the role you’re being interviewed for.

Task – Clearly
define what your responsibilities were, what you were required
to achieve and the
timeframe you had to work within.

Action
– Give a detailed description of not only what you did but why you did it

covering the other options that would have been available to you that were not
selected. Emphasise the skills and knowledge utilised to complete task.

Results – Provide a
concise evaluation of the result and also be sure to include
what you learnt
from the experience and how this has affected your decision making since the
event. The result should preferably be a positive one!

Examples – using the STAR method

Example Question 1: Have you ever been in a situation when
a team member has not completed his or her quota of the work?

Example Answer 1: When there are team conflicts or issues, I
try my best to step up as team leader if needed. I think my communication
skills make me an effective leader and moderator.

For example, once I was the wicketkeeper of the Tasmanian
cricket team and I was unexpectedly called up to captain the Australian
national team after the regular captain and vice captain got embroiled in
a scandal, both unable to complete their assignments (SITUATION). As I was now leading
the project and ultimately responsible for meeting the expectations of the
Board (TASK), I arranged a team meeting where we reallocated all the
assignments among the team members and formulated a new set of expected
behaviours (ACTION). This made everyone more productive and the team culture
improved dramatically. Our project culminated in a successful team, winning the
series against Sri Lanka two nil (RESULT).

Example Question 2: Tell me about a time you showed initiative on the job.

Example Answer 2: Last year I was working as second in charge
of the commanding army. War was imminent and we were about to go into battle
for control of my spiritual and ancestral homeland. My commanding officer was
stubborn in his belief that even though we were undermanned we would be
successful in defeating our enemies. I wasn’t so sure (SITUATION). My
responsibilities were to assemble the troops and prepare them for battle
(TASK).

I took it upon myself to send a raven to former allies, requesting
their services and thereby increasing the size of our army exponentially (ACTION). As
our commanding officer’s troops were being trampled and our future appeared
doomed, a horn sounded and our reinforcements (the Knights of the Vale) arrived
in the nick of time. We casually swept away the enemy forces, winning the
battle and allowing me to claim my rightful title as the Lady of Winterfell (RESULT).

How to be the top candidate for a job

When you’re searching for a new job, it’s difficult to establish exactly what you should be doing to portray yourself as the most credible candidate to potential employers. With employers all wanting different things from their new recruits, how can you make sure you’re ticking their boxes?

When you have the right strategy, however, the task can become a lot more straightforward. Having a plan can boost your confidence, which will then put you in the best frame of mind for your job search.

Specialise your skills

LinkedIn’s Job Search Guide recommends that in order to turn your future role into “more than just a job”, you should specialise. The guide advises job seekers to make a list of their skills and to “know where they can take you”. It then says to “uncover what you’re best at and continue to hone those skills throughout your career”.

Working to specialise in a certain area will help to ensure that you are limiting your focus to jobs you actually want, rather than something to simply tide you over. It then becomes easier to share your passion for your industry, which will come across to hiring managers. Employers will then likely see you as more dedicated to your chosen career, which can give you an advantage over other candidates.

If you chose to develop a highly valued and in-demand skill, you’ll give yourself even more chance of landing your dream role. This is highly relevant right now, since there’s a serious skills gap in many markets across the world.

Plan your progress

Do you have a well thought-out answer to the common job interview question of where you see yourself in a few years? Planning out your career progress will help you come up with an honest answer, something that a lot of other candidates won’t be able to offer.

Setting out the milestones you think you should hit in your career can help you work out exactly which opportunities are right for you. LinkedIn recommends setting up a six-month, 12-month and two-year plan describing how you want your career path to go. Holding yourself accountable will help to ensure you are working towards your ultimate goal.

It will also provide you with a framework for evaluation. Have you not reached your goals for your two-year plan? Then it’s time to do something about that – whether that’s having a frank discussion with your manager or looking elsewhere for an opportunity that will allow you to reach the targets you’ve set yourself.

Optimise your application materials

Job applications need to be as tailored as possible, making it unique to the opportunity available. This serves to explicitly align your skills and experience to the role on offer. It will serve you well in getting through any automated application systems the company uses as well as making it easy for the hiring manager to decide who to call in for an interview.

However, your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be as tailored. This is one arena where you can elaborate on what you’ve done in the past. Share your accomplishments, your portfolio and any work you’ve done that will highlight your employability.

Make sure you use the right keywords on both your job applications and LinkedIn profiles. The former will also help to get you through any applicant tracking system, while the latter will boost your chances of appearing in any searches for that keyword. LinkedIn’s Job Search Guide explains: “It’s a living resume more than a statement of skills. Put this organism to work by optimising your profile.”

Be honest about what you know

Ensuring you’re upfront about what you know and what you don’t will prevent you getting yourself into a situation that could cause problems for both you and your employer. Have you heard stories of people who have claimed they could do something in their application to be confronted with that situation and aren’t able to deliver on it?

The Balance has reiterated how important it is to be honest in a job application, saying “if you’re not honest, it’s going to be an issue for potential employers”. Any possible awkwardness you might feel when being honest about something you don’t know will be outweighed by being found out to have lied.

If you’re worried about not looking knowledgeable enough in an interview, there’s a way of turning it into a positive. Be the first to bring up your lack of familiarity with something, and explain that you’re eager to overcome this and learn about the subject. Highlight previous instances where you’ve had to learn about something and completely mastered the topic. This will give a hiring manager some assurance that you’re capable of doing the job.

Following these tips should help to boost your credibility as a job seeker, giving you a good chance of outperforming other candidates and getting you one step closer to the career you always wanted. Eager for a new career challenge? Browse our list of extraordinary job opportunities by clicking here.