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An Aeroplane, 80 Minutes and a Talkative Wife

I enjoy my ‘Blog Time’ but I have to be in the right head space. Turns out planes are my sweet spot. Eighty minutes to kill on this flight to Melbourne – so here goes.

My wife has just commenced her Master of Education. Subject one; ‘Career Assessment Theory and Job Advising’. Emma is a career teacher, and an awesome one at that! She has never needed to job search. She has been employed with her current school for over 15 years and was a targeted graduate. She has always been interested in my work and what I do but the last four months has been intense! She has enthusiastically quizzed me about what I do, probed me about the recruitment industry and sought guidance on contemporary job search as she completed assignments and prepared for exams. She has now finished the semester… with a high distinction. She is a bit of a nerd!

So, I thought, now my time to do the quizzing. I live and breathe this stuff. While I research, read and do what I can to remain contemporary, I have never sat through a semester of ‘Job Advising’ or read countless textbooks on ‘Career Assessment Theory’. Most of my experience comes from doing my job, supporting active job seekers and working with clients to identify and secure top talent. So I was curious, what did she learn? What do these text books say? Just how out of touch and ordinary at my job am I? What advice does she have for those assessing their career direction? What recommendations does she have for today’s job seeker?

As we settled in, she talked and I listened (for a change!)

  • Studies show that the happiest and most successful people are those that change their career direction at various stages over a 30 year period. Evidence proves that these people feel a greater sense of intrinsic reward and have a reduced feeling of regret compared to those that followed a more traditional career path.
  • Careers are no longer linear. Be prepared to change career paths and demonstrate your ability to embrace and thrive in an ever-changing environment. Increasingly employers are/will be drawn to people that can demonstrate their ability to adapt to change.
  • Prepare for the unknown, constantly up-skill yourself and be prepared to reinvent yourself. Don’t shy away from what seems like a daunting and destabilising change. It is not only okay, it is critical, to not get comfortable.
  • Focus on what you can control. Your own skills, your own choices, your own qualifications, your own networks – this is the best way for you to survive any imposed changes, and all the stuff you just can’t control. Embrace uncertainty by doing the things you can control. If one door closes, ensure you have done the things you need to do to kick open the next one.
  • It is proven that job applicants have a 30% higher chance of being shortlisted for a position by including key competency statements in their resume. Resumes need to be tailored and focused on key achievements that are linked specifically to the role criteria. Resumes need to show evidence linked to achievements, not generic motherhood statements. Research shows that those who use practical language that describes the parameters of their previous roles, the company, as well as their personal achievements are shortlisted more often.
  • Job seekers need to spend time exploring and unlocking opportunities in the hidden job market. Research has proven that job seekers are significantly more likely to secure a position of their choice through online and face to face networking, social media as well as through targeting businesses they would like to work within.
  • Social media matters. Your online profile and brand is evaluated by prospective employers. You need to be active and engaged in social media. You need to demonstrate commitment, passion and expertise. Build a personal brand and make your social media footprint count.

Turns out my wife knows her stuff! If teachers and the next generation of job seekers are empowered with this sort of knowledge then employers can only benefit and job search might become just that little bit easier.

And as I step off this plane, I feel like perhaps I am not as out of touch as I had worried I might have been.

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