Don’t think it.. Do it!!

I was reading a blog recently about a 3-minute fix for procrastination.  I am a terrible procrastinator and I thought it might help me.

Within minutes however, I was analysing the blog itself. Was it really just a lot of American psychobabble, or was I really that avoidant? Consequently I started to trawl online for several other sites, looking for a more authoritative voice about why I might over think things before I start. Wow, that really lead to further procrastination. Was I too scared to start things because I might fail, or was I afraid of the responsibilities I may have if I succeed?

Within an hour, I had a million reasons in front of me as to why I might find it hard to get started and the 3-minute fix to procrastination had expanded to a 90-minute psychological assessment of my life.  My original task nowhere in sight!

I suppose the reason I share this with you is because clients often come to our Centre stuck in a cycle of procrastination too, “ Will it be the right job?”, “Should I have taken that course?”,  “ What if I am under qualified?”, “What if I fail?”, “What if it leads nowhere?” and around again until it can become crippling. In truth none of us can really predict the future, and there are no guarantees in life, however the benefit of taking some time out to reflect, or chatting to a career counsellor may help you to get off the treadmill of overthinking.

Recently in one of my mindfulness classes we were introduced to the concept of the 3-minute breathing space, to calm and refocus our minds. Many assume mindful meditation is a state of hypnotic navel gazing that transports you to enlightenment or nirvana via your deity of choice. This is not the case. The 3-minute breathing space does not take you to nirvana, comes with no candles or music and has no deity. It is a down to earth, realistic tool that can get you refocused in under 3 minutes.

Sounds ridiculous I hear you say, or only for “those” people you might scoff, but simply slowing down your breathing, acknowledging your surrounds and breathing into the moment can ground you to take action.

Breathing is the most powerful tool you have to calm yourself for any challenging circumstance and its free and fully available.

You might need to do it prior to an interview, to get started on that application or to deal with a difficult moment or person in your life.

All you need is stillness, oxygen, and a willingness to step outside of your chatty mind.

I have used the 3 minute breathing space waiting for medical appointments, in the car at school pick up, whilst trying to refocus on my projects, and even waiting for friends in a café. I actually breathed myself so well into my happy space while waiting in that café that I became annoyed with the waiters perpetually asking me for an order. Didn’t they know I came to cafes to breathe, not drink coffee???

This fear of the “what ifs”, or the “should I’s” as mentioned earlier, can literally permeate the brain and keep people from taking action. Metaphorically speaking we are far more scared of letting the light in, than the light itself. So taking the first step to start that resume, book that appointment or sign up for that course will not be so hard once you physically make a start. Sometimes the fear of actually finding that you may have success in a new career or job can be as scary as staying stuck in the same place. We can be equally afraid of living up to our potential and greatness as well as failing miserably because both come with responsibilities and expectations we have of our peers and ourselves.

Without a doubt a job transition or career change can be challenging or even brutal. But if we are not a little brave by taking a punt or two, we may sit in a state of flux and/or procrastination for a very long time.  We are talking small steps here, not leaping tall buildings in a single bound.  If we acknowledge that it might take time and we might need assistance it makes it so much easier.  So, the 3 minute fix for procrastination may not be the only solution, but using the 3 minute breathing space, physical exercise, a companion to keep you on track, a mentor, diarising your time or just being honest with yourself may get your started again.

As some rather large well known footwear organisation says, “Just do it!”

There is nothing to fear but fear itself, and your career is in your hands.

For really practical tips see the following articles.

1. Why you procrastinate and how to stop it

2. The 3-minute breathing space, your opportunity to practice

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you need some help getting on track, book an appointment with Erika or any of the Skills and Jobs Centre advisors.

Picture credit: jill111CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

I can’t get a job because I have no experience..

Transferable Skills – You might have more experience than you think!

Are you always feeling somewhat under qualified, or can’t find any evidence of how your skills or experience may fit the job criteria?

Do you think you have little capacity to fit the bill every time you search SEEK online?

Well it’s time to change your thinking.

If you start to dig below the surface of how you perceive your personal and professional experience, you may find a few hidden gems just waiting to shine.

Whether you haven’t worked for a very long time, you haven’t worked at all, or you have been trying to change careers for a long time, there are always some valuable skills and qualities you have earned from your life experience. These skills sets and qualities are called Transferable Skills and they can be fundamental to finding work.

So what interests an employer besides my current work history?   

Employers can be persuaded by a variety of things other than just an obvious skills match. Admittedly getting past the strict parameters set by recruitment companies and HR Teams can be nigh on impossible, however some workplaces may want more than just a list of responsibilities from your latest job profile.

This is where your TRANSFERABLE SKILLS may come in handy.

Transferable skills, sometimes known as Employability Skills, are the skills we acquire as a result of life experiences, employment and in many cases roles or responsibilities we have undertaken outside of the work environment.  This could be parenting, coaching, volunteering, managing, mentoring or assisting in community events, families, sports or schools.

Identifying your transferable skills is one of the most important steps in the job-seeking process and often overlooked by those who feel they have no relevant experience.

For example a job may advertise for a receptionist who is;

“A friendly professional who can utilise organisational skills and bring a  high level of motivation.”

Your organisational skills and motivation may not come directly from a reception role but could be transferred from experience doing book work for your partner’s home business or from volunteering to coach and manage your child’s sports team.

Generally speaking the eight transferable or employability skills are thus;

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Planning and organising
  • Self-management
  • Learning
  • Technology

When you identify how you utilise these skills in your daily life, it may surprise you how frequently or how expertly you do them. These skills may encompass your general capabilities, your qualities, your technical abilities and reflect your values and attitudes.

It’s true some employers may only be interested in your “relevant experience” but some may prefer a less experienced candidate who has great attitude and leadership skills than one who has all the right skills but is dull as dishwater and very robotic.

It is quite well known in the hiring and firing industry that managers may in fact prefer to  “ Hire for attitude not for skill”.  There is a general consensus that a number of job skills can be learned, but personality and motivation cannot. Aside from jobs that require purely technical expertise, your personal attributes and qualities may unearth a very viable candidate. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to identify and sell your transferable skills on your own, so asking for assistance can be a great idea. The career consultants at the Skills and Jobs Centre are experts at being able to listen and identify skills you may never have recognised, or had thought were irrelevant. They can also help you contextualise your soft skills and life experiences within a resume.

I strongly recommend a face to face consultation with a career counsellor, as this gives you the time to share your story and  experiences so your advisor can capitalise on all you may have to offer. Sometimes this can feel overwhelming or a little like putting yourself up on a “pedestal”. However, in this competitive job market you have to put your best foot forward and selling all of your skills and abilities is vital.

And remember,

 “Company knowledge and job-specific skills can be learned, but you can’t train a personality.”

Source: Richard Branson on hiring Virgin Staff.

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you would like to talk to someone about your transferable skills, book a one-on-one appointment with Erika or any of our advisors.

Picture credit: London Permaculture

MAKING A FRESH START…… Job Applications for Newcomers to Australia

As a skilled immigrant, migrant, refugee or asylum seeker, there are a number of mountains to climb in your new country including mastering the language, adapting to cultural differences and learning how to work and play like the “Aussies” do. So, it is no surprise that negotiating the Australian workplace and its job application processes can also be an uphill battle.

So, to put your best foot forward in relation to job applications, I have provided a few HANDY HINTS below.

BUT FIRST, to avoid disappointment, I would ask that you consider the chart below, and ensure you meet these criteria. You are applying for jobs in a competitive environment with legal and contractual laws.

erikas-blog-graphic

1.Stick with the same name

Sometimes when settling in a new country, you may choose to modify your name according to make it easier to pronounce for a native English speaker.

This is a personal preference but just remember that if you choose that name, it needs to be consistent across all your paperwork when applying for a position. Your email address, resume, application and interaction with all employers and services will create a relationship with you based on that name.

2. Ensure an Australian organisation has validated your qualifications.

Although you may have completed a diploma, degree or postgraduate qualification in your country it may not have the same status in Australia.

It’s important to check with the relevant organisation, university, TAFE or industry body that your skills and qualifications are looked upon with the same status.

3. Religious and spiritual beliefs

In Australia, it is an offence to discriminate against any person based on religious grounds, nor to enquire about your religious beliefs in an interview.

In a very ethnically diverse country like Australia, we respect the right of all people to practice their own religious and cultural beliefs. Consequently, we do not put our religion, God or spiritual entities on our resumes or discuss in any way at an interview.

4. Marital status

Every woman and man has equal right within the home, workplace and community in Australia, whether you are married, single, or have children. Again it is against the law to ask questions about your marital status, or not hire you because you have children or are a female. That is private information.

If you feel you need to disclose information regarding your family or children to the employer that is your choice, but do not include that information on a resume.

5. Age

Again, it is an offence in Australia to discriminate by age.

There will always be those who will judge by age, and is doesn’t matter where you come from, and what your skills are, preferences are sometimes given to a younger person or someone they wish to train. DO NOT put your age on your resume; it can influence how an employer may view you as a candidate for the position.

6. References

If most of your references come from your country of origin they must be able to be contactable, by email, phone or Skype and be able to speak conversational English. A written reference is no longer an acceptable way to validate your employment history. If you have any local or Australian people you know who can act as a reference for you, in any capacity, that is most favourable. Volunteering for an organisation can also become very useful in providing you with a referee.

7. Written and Spoken English

If you are not confident writing in the English language please, please get assistance. If you are seeking a position relevant to your industry and qualifications then maybe speak to a professional resume writer, Australian industry body or Australian colleague familiar with that industry.

Despite some immigrants having exceptional qualifications and/or conversational English, errors can be made in a resume or interview that can really jeopardise your prospects. Simple spelling or grammar mistakes may betray your talents and skills.

Get to know some locals, as well as other new immigrants who have lived here many years. They can guide you and educate you on how Australians generally live and work and can be a great helping hand. Make sure you socialise, play sport, volunteer and attend community clubs, anything to give you more exposure to the Australian way of life.

Most importantly “WELCOME”, you are taking a very important step toward your new life in Australia.

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you are new to Australia and would like some help with understanding the local job market, please make an appointment with any of our advisors.

A pocket guide to hAPPiness!

Keeping the blues at bay in the elusive job search

It is well documented that job loss (along with divorce, death, illness and moving house) is one of life’s major stresses.

It may not be as devastating or long lived as some of the above, but it often contributes to loss of self esteem, confidence, family harmony and financial security.

Retrenchment, workplace bullying, long-term unemployment or even a required career change, can leave you confused, angry, disappointed or lost. You may find yourself bombarded with well meaning suggestions and ideas from friends and services that may not be what you want or need at that particular time.

As compassionate and astute career counsellors we know that in conjunction with job guidance and vocational support sometimes you need additional assistance to keep upbeat and on track. Whether that be through professional health services, therapeutic avenues, exercise programs or life coaching, the important thing is that it works for you. That’s the only thing that matters.

Recently I have discovered the power of therapeutic Apps.

For me at present it’s the mindfulness meditation application (app), Headspace, which has been great. There are hundreds of free or minimal cost apps that are like having your own personal support team in your pocket.

There are apps for motivation, positive thinking, setting your goals, meditation and getting through depression or anxiety. The same way an app may be used to regulate your exercise, these apps help to regulate your mind and mood.

Personally, I love face to face support and guidance when I need it, but the brilliance of being able to access online apps, forums and support programs confidentially anytime, anywhere can do wonders for your well-being.

To start you off try Mind Health Connect, an Australian site with lots of online suggestions. I found the best thing was just to type in your interest, find a related app, and try them on for size. It is not a one size fits all scenario, so explore, taste and see what’s right for you.

Best of luck and Happy apping!

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you are struggling with a career decision, book in an appointment or workshop with one of our advisors.