Podcast Episode #32 Career Planning for 2021, with your host Leah Lambart

Episode 27

In this final episode for the 2020, Leah discusses what you can do over the next few weeks in preparation to achieve your career goals in 2021.  This included:

  • Setting SMART career goals

  • Identifying skill gaps
  • Identifying relationships that are key to your success
  • Updating your job search collateral to ensure that it is contemporary and keyword optimised
  • Mastering your behavioural interview skills

Thanks to all our listeners in Australia and other parts of the world near and far who have tuned into the podcast this year. We hope to have you back in 2021! 

For further information on the Relaunch Me team and services – check out our website www.relaunchme.com.au


Leah Lambart 0:18
Hi, and welcome to Episode 32 of the Relaunch Your Career podcast. Thank you for joining me. I’m your host, Leah Lambart, Career and Interview Coach, and the founder of Relaunch Me, which is a career and interview coaching business based in Melbourne, and also now in Brookvale in Sydney. Thank you to everyone who has tuned in this year. It’s something that I never thought that I would ever do as the tech really put me off for a long time. But I’ve had a lot of fun this year. I also want to thank all our guests that have come on and have opened up and shared their stories, you’ve all been amazing. So thank you for joining us.

This will be my last episode for this year. So I just wanted to talk to you about some things that you might want to start doing over the next month or so to prepare yourself to achieve some of your career goals next year. Most of our listeners are in Australia, and some of us may be in lockdown over the next couple of weeks whilst some of us are starting to come out of lockdown. But as most people would know, the recruitment market does tend to be a little bit quieter in late December and in January. So it’ll be actually really interesting to see if that is the case this year given we’ve had so much other disruption to recruitment throughout 2020.

So, some of you may have some career goals that you want to achieve next year. Over the next couple of weeks, if you’re on holidays and having some time off work, it’s often a good time to really reflect to think about what you have learned this year and what you are hoping to achieve next year. So, for some people that might be looking to achieve some goals in their own organisation such as a promotion, getting involved in some more interesting projects, or getting recognised for from particular people in the organisation. Other people may be looking to make an external move. So I know many of the people we speak to are not particularly happy doing the work that they’re in currently, and maybe looking to make a career change, or at least a job change in 2021. Other people may have experienced unemployment or redundancy, maybe even for the first time this year as a result of COVID, and their goal may be to acquire a new position going into 2021. And let’s hope there are lots more job opportunities out there as things start to improve.

So, the first thing I would suggest you do is really sit down and write some goals. Personally, I am not a goal setter and it’s something that I really have to force myself to do because I’m not a natural planner. I’m someone that is definitely more of an adapter who lives in the here and now and just takes each day as it comes. I’m not someone who typically plans well ahead unfortunately, although I would like to be like that. So if you’re not one of those people, then I would advise you to try and take an afternoon out from the family and sit down and write some specific goals that you want to achieve. In the New Year. I think many people would be familiar with the acronym SMART goals, and these are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and they’re Timely. So start off by just setting some small goals that you would really like to achieve and put a date in the diary, so that it really forces you to work towards that goal.

The next thing is thinking about what you need to do to actually achieve those specific career goals. So most people when they experience some sort of career bump, whether that is being made redundant, losing their job or suffering some sort of setback at work, one of the things that that is really important for them to overcome that career bump is Skills. So we all need really good skills that we can pick up and take and apply in another industry or another organisation or another job function. So have a really good thing about what skills you are going to need to achieve specific goals that you’re setting for yourself.

For some people, they might be skills that are quite easily attainable by completing a short course. So for instance, if you really want to get a job in a specific area that requires really strong Microsoft Office skills, then you could look at some online courses, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint to really upskill in that area, so that you feel really confident talking about your ability to work with those systems in an interview. Other people may be wanting to expand their current skill set so they might belooking to do some additional courses, whether that’s data analysis, or programming or some project management study. So think about what skills do you really need to help you achieve your goals. And if you don’t know, try and perhaps talk to some people in your organization, or people who are working at more senior levels, who may be able to guide you.

The second area that gets us by and helps us move forward is Relationships. So for some people, it may be looking at specific relationships within their organisation that they need to build in order to be noticed or in order to be recognised, for instance, to be promoted to a new role. Other people may be looking to move jobs or move industries and so they need to start building relationships externally. Many of the clients that we speak to say” Look, I don’t really have a network as I have worked in the same organisation for 20 years. Everyone I know works in my organisation”. So, if that’s the case, you’d really need to stop putting yourself out of your comfort zone and starting to build new relationships. LinkedIn is always my ‘go to’, it’s a fantastic way to research and find the people in the organisations that you want to work for. So looking for people and looking for organisations, not necessarily looking for jobs. So think about putting a spreadsheet together and write a list of perhaps the companies that you would like to work for, or the industries that you’re interested in working in. And then start really brainstorming all the people that you know who work in those organizations already. And then you can use LinkedIn to find other people that you would really like to talk to or would like to meet. And look at, first of all, whether you have any mutual connections on LinkedIn, who may be able to introduce you, whether they’re second or third connections, obviously, having some sort of introduction or being able to drop someone’s name will always help.

So, the first task is to really think about the SKILLS that you want to develop over the next couple of months. The second task is to think about the RELATIONSHIPS that you want to build in the new year.

And the third thing that will help people move either up in their current organisation, or move externally is obviously having really good JOB COLLATERAL. And by that, I mean having a really strong resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, but also having really good interview skills, so that when you do get into an interview, that you have a really strong chance of getting an offer. So just going back to those three areas. First of all, the resume. Resumes have changed a lot in the last five to 10 years. So if you haven’t looked for a job for a long time, I would strongly advise that you speak to a friend who works in recruitment, or human resources or someone who is hiring candidates regularly or seek out a resume writer or a career coach who can review your resume and let you know whether it is best practice. We speak to many clients who think they do have a best practice resume but it’s actually quite what I’d say ‘old school’ in terms of the information on the resume, the structure of the resume and often it’s way too long. So I would say, two to three pages are ideal, four pages absolute maximum and only if you have a lot of really good information to include. At times I’ve seen resumes anywhere up to 15 pages, which is really going to reduce your chances of getting an interview.

So, number one, make sure that your resume is modern that it’s got really easy to read template that is keyword optimised as most big organisations now use applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to screen resumes, which means the first cut or the first screening of your resume is done by a robot rather than a human. So it’s really important that your resume is tailored and keyword optimised for every job.

Now, this can present a problem for people particularly if they are applying for lots of different type of roles. To give you an example, this might be a client who is quite open to doing a customer service role or a sales-type role, maybe like a role focusing on outbound or inbound calls. But they’re also very happy to do an office-based administration role, which is more behind the scenes. And so the issue we have with this is that sometimes you will find a role where there’s a bit of both, but in more cases than not, the skills need to be tailored for one or the other. The skills for a customer service role will be more focused on dealing with people; building relationships, communicating information in a way that people can understand, managing conflicts, solving people’s problems. So they’re the types of skills that might be most important in a customer service role as well as obviously, customer service or customer excellence. Whilst in an administration role, the skill set would be more tailored around administration skills such as; time management, possibly teamwork, initiative, possibly still problem solving, and some IT skills. So the skill set is quite different for those two roles. So, if you are applying for a customer service role, and a lot of your skills are more back-office focused, then perhaps the applicant tracking system will spit you out before a human even has a chance to look at your resume. Therefore, it’s really important that you get someone to have a look at your resume and make sure that it is contemporary.

Secondly, cover letters. Usually, we recommend a one-page cover letter, unless the instructions are to address specific criteria, in which case the cover letter may need to be possibly two or three pages long. But cover letters need to be succinct. They need to be very tailored, again, highlighting your reasons why you want to work for that company to show that you have done your research. Also highlighting specific experience skills and attributes that you can bring to the role. Again, a nice well-written resume, good grammar, no typos, and in a nice contemporary format is going to be much more appealing to the recruiter.

LinkedIn is the final part of your job collateral and LinkedIn is a must for anyone who is job searching. One of the first things that I do, and I assume most recruiters do when someone contacts them, look you up on LinkedIn. So if you are looking for more of an office role, I would strongly recommend you’re on LinkedIn. Having said that LinkedIn is also a fabulous place for people who have their own businesses who are self-employed, who are trying to attract customers, for creatives, freelancers, anyone who is looking to build a business, then you really need to be on LinkedIn. And you also need to have a company page if you are trying to grow your business through LinkedIn.

Your LinkedIn profile needs to be complete. There are a number of sections that need to be completed before LinkedIn considers your profile to be a complete profile and if you hoping to be found by potential employers and recruiters, then again, it’s very important that your LinkedIn profile is keyword optimised. There are a number of sections in LinkedIn where it is really important that you have the right keywords in the right places so that you will come up in the right searches.

So LinkedIn is not only a great tool to get found, but it’s also a brilliant research tool. For candidates who are wanting to use more active job search strategies, (ie not relying on Seek, and recruiters), then LinkedIn is your go-to, it’s where you can really drill down and find companies you would like to work for and find people in those companies that you could approach directly. Now that is not always going to work. But often it is actually in the employer’s favour to have a good candidate approach them directly, so they don’t have to pay the recruitment fee. So, just think about it in that way, that when you are approaching a company directly, whether it is via LinkedIn or via their website, that you may actually be saving them some money.

The final thing that is worth thinking about if you are thinking about job searching next year is starting to really master your behavioural interview skills. We work with a lot of clients from graduate right up to executive level, who possibly understand a little bit about the behavioural interview process. But they really need some help understanding how to structure their answers, and understanding how much information to include in their responses. We help them anticipate what types of questions they might get asked at the interview for the types of roles they’re going to interview for and then we help them develop really robust STAR or STARLA examples, to demonstrate the key competencies required to do that role. Preparing for these interviews, it does take time, it’s something that you don’t want to be doing two days before the interview. So, if you are planning to start job searching next year, start thinking about the examples that you might use, start reading up on using the STAR method and behavioural interviews, so that you can start to prepare a little bit earlier.

If you are looking to move your career forward next year, there’s a number of things that you can start to do over the next month while recruitment is perhaps a little bit quiet, particularly in Australia. You could also look at doing some fun online courses if you’ve got some downtime, again, to develop some skills, but even just to experiment and try out some different areas. I’m a massive fan of some of the online learning platforms such as Udemy, Alison, Futurelearn Coursera, MindValley, just to name a few. Some of those are free, some of them are quite cheap. It’s a really great way to do some taster courses, before perhaps signing up to a more expensive course.

In addition to all of that, for people who are possibly going back to work in an office next year after having the year at home, I know one thing that I’m going to be doing is starting to really think about the boundaries that I want to set for next year. I want to really think about the hours that I want to work. I tend to work days and nights and weekends around clients and around the family. But I’m going to start thinking about what hours I really want to stick to next year, whether I want to be working from home, whether I want to be working from consulting rooms, how much travel I want to do. So I think because we have all got used to working from home this year, then it’s possibly a good time to start thinking about the boundaries that we want to set when we do possibly have to return to the office next year.

In addition to that, have a lovely Christmas. I hope those people who are in lockdown are still able to enjoy Christmas with their families. And let’s hope we have a much better year in 2021 with lots of job opportunities and new beginnings for people who have had a really tough year.

Thank you for listening and I will look forward to chatting with you in the new year. Merry Christmas.