“The main benefit from working with Challenge Consulting is the guarantee of finding the best possible person for the position required.”

Wendy Tunbridge – Uniting
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]

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The modern-day job search for graduates is becoming an increasingly competitive environment where an individual can find themselves pitted against hundreds of other applicants all in the same boat. The string tying all these graduates together is most likely limited industry knowledge and experience. However, as important as having experience is for any job search, there is one undeniable truth: that having and maintaining a positive attitude is crucial. Employers are looking for candidates that can add value, meaning that they are seeking future leaders that can inspire and promote business longevity. A positive frame of mind not only affects the way you view the world, but your environment and the people around you. This leads us to the big question: what defines a positive thinker?

 

Positive thinking and mental fortitude outlast skills

Skills get outdated over time as industries shift and change, companies are constantly re-skilling and providing ongoing training for their employees to build value in their business. Skills can be attained and bought whereas attitude cannot. Attitude, when compared to a skill set is timeless. Without the right attitude, you can’t form solid working habits which have to be practiced over time. Without the right attitude, you’ll be missing out on learning new things as you are unable to see past the mistakes. Without the right attitude, you won’t land the job you want as you are hindering your own self growth.

Mental fortitude is the ability to pick oneself up from life’s failures and capitalizing on them as lessons and opportunities. Possessing it will not only carry over into the workplace, but into your personal life as well. By viewing problems as an opportunity, you would find that focusing on finding a solution is a more productive use of your time and energy. Being proactive keeps your brain switched on and like a muscle, your brain will be more effective if trained over time. One cannot expect to attract or impress potential employers if one does not exhibit the energy associated with gaining success. Walking into a job interview can be an extremely nerve-wracking and intimidating experience for newcomers, so when a candidate with limited to no industry experience is being judged, having a resilient and positive attitude is a good start.

Setting goals sets you up for success

Goal setting is a way we can break down the bigger picture into manageable chunks. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the notion of “Finding a job”. By breaking down these goals into something you can control and visualize more clearly, you are not only able keep up the positivity but set yourself up for success. For example, if the overarching goal is to “Find a job”, then you would want to divide that up into mini goals like: ensuring your resume is up to date, knowing what field you want to work in, apply for x amount of jobs a day, etc. Completing these smaller tasks allows you to cross off a list, giving you a sense of achievement and keeping you motivated. By focusing on putting together the individual puzzle pieces, you’d find that the bigger picture will slowly come together in the process.

Don’t forget to reset

Maintaining a positive attitude is easier said than done. There will be some days that will test you, where you find it difficult to keep a smile on your face or to go about your day without any worries. We are human and are imperfect beings. Burnout is inevitable if we expect ourselves to endure everything life throws at us without taking the appropriate measures. Ask yourself: what can you control and what can’t you control? Sometimes we can’t control the negative things that happen to us but we can control how we react to them. When you start to feel like you are burning out, it is important to reset yourself and take a break. For instance, you have been to a few interviews, and haven’t heard back from any of them yet. Take a step back and think objectively: it most likely isn’t personal. By taking a break, you stop whatever it is that you are doing that is causing your burnout, and replace it with a totally unrelated activity. This allows you to leave the baggage and negativity behind and start anew with a fresh state of mind.

Student mentality and work ethic go hand in hand

Continuous self-improvement is essential if you want to stay relevant in the workplace. Every day is a school day, and there is always something new to learn no matter the context. Having a student mentality means that you are always asking questions and constantly analyzing yourself in order to understand how you can always do things better. Being self-aware is a highly sought management skill that establishes your work ethic and desire to progress. Through maintaining a humble attitude, you can only improve on where and who you are now. The journey of personal growth is after all, based on progression, not perfection.

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Are you considering a move abroad? Perhaps you’ve always dreamt of working in Hong Kong or New York but have yet to make the big move. Ponder no longer! Here are six reasons why gaining international experience is a great idea for you and your career.

1. Upskilling – The knowledge and experience you gain whilst working abroad can be a huge boost to your career. Aside from the obvious exposures to new cultures and languages, you may get the chance to work on interesting projects or with high profile clients – opportunities that could set you apart from your peers at home.

2. Fast Track to a Senior Position – Depending on your industry, role and where you intend to relocate, you may be lucky enough to move in to a more senior role fairly quickly. Perhaps you are highly skilled in an area that is developing in another jurisdiction or experiencing a skills shortage? In that instance, you could be bringing a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience to the table and have the chance to compete for roles that could be far off in your home country.

3. Soft Skills – By embracing opportunities overseas you are revealing your passion and adaptability. Employers want staff who are motivated, ambitious and flexible to adapt to changing circumstances. Moving to a new job and a new country emphasises your determination and resilience in dealing with challenges.

4. Networking on an International Platform – Accepting a role in another country will inevitably open up your network and allow you connect with colleagues all over the world. These connections may prove fruitful in keeping you updated with developments and job opportunities in your chosen field.

5. Personal Growth – Moving abroad especially on your own is no easy feat however it’s a challenge that can bring with it immense personal growth and enrichment. The opportunity to move outside of your comfort zone, experience a new culture and language and meet new people is likely to have an enduring impact on your life.

6. Point of Discussion – Moving to another country and getting that overseas experience will be a point of discussion for the rest of your career. Having interesting experiences and stories to tell about your time abroad will set your CV apart from other candidates on the pile.

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Have you reached a point in your career where you are questioning if you have chosen the right path? Are you ready for a career change but are going around in circles and at a loss as to where to start?

Recognise your fears

Fear is one of the key factors that prevents us from moving forward. Fear can have a paralysing effect on us, preventing us from making difficult decisions like changing career for fear of making a huge mistake. Perhaps you are worried about a drop-in income, a loss of status, concerns that you are throwing away all your hard work to date. In truth, if you didn’t have these fears it would be concerning. Fear is our body’s response to perceived threat and the reality is that there are very real issues to be considered before jumping in to a new career. However, fear in and of itself is not a reason to stand still and maintain the status quo. Don’t let your fear be the only thing standing in your way of a new and exciting career.

Stop researching and start doing

If you are considering a career change, the likelihood is that you have already spent endless hours online researching the idea – looking at job advertisements, qualifications and reading topical articles and blogs. If you have, the likelihood is that you are more confused and worried than when you started. Whilst all this googling can persuade us that we are taking active steps to change career, the reality is that when all is said and done we are in exactly the same position as when we started. In order to bring about change, you need to take some action. That means less time googling and more time spent pushing outside your comfort zone. For ideas on how to do this read on!

Use your network

It’s likely that you have developed an extensive network of contacts over the years through friends, family and social media networks such as LinkedIn. Take advantage of these connections. Connecting with an expert or mentor in your area of interest can be extremely useful as it will give you the opportunity to discuss your career aspirations with someone who has insight and experience and in turn benefit from their advice and coaching. They may even be able to arrange some job opportunities for you. You may also find it beneficial to discuss your goals with a recruitment agent or a professional employment coach for another perspective. Use your network to help find the appropriate person.

Don’t be a bystander – take some active steps

The best way to learn about a new career is to do so first hand. Take a leap and take some active steps to put you on the right course for a career change. You may find out that what you had in mind isn’t the right path for you but at least you will have learned something, excluded another option and reevaluated what you are looking for.

Some ideas you might consider are as follows:

• Attend a networking event with professionals in your area of interest
• Arrange a secondment or shadowing opportunity in your current employment if there is another department or team of interest to you
• Take up a voluntary position with an organisation of interest
• Consider additional qualifications you might need to prepare you for a new role
• Reach out to your network (see above)

Consider the timing

The thought of making a drastic change to your career path overnight can be daunting and overwhelming but taking action doesn’t mean you need to jump in with both feet straight away. You may have a lot of concerns about making this leap and be experiencing stresses and strains in your personal life. In this case, the best approach for you may be to wait until you are in a more secure position personally before you make any big moves. There is nothing wrong with taking a gradual approach to your career change as it needs to fit in with where you are in your life at present. The best course of action may be to dip your toe in to new possibilities by taking some of the steps highlighted above.

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Leadership takes on many responsibilities; it can be very busy and even tiring at times and therefore motivation levels can fluctuate. However, in this role you need to be able to keep yourself motivated because in turn it keeps the rest of your team motivated and thriving in the business.

It starts with keeping in check your own personal motivation – your passions, continuing to challenge yourself with various projects and remembering why you committed to these goals in the first place. What you are trying to achieve?

Sometimes the quickest way to lose motivation or even exhaust your level of motivation is to spend all of your time and energy trying to motivate and please the needs of your team. The truth is motivation is personal and you cannot force it upon others. Instead, leading by example through your own motivations, you can inspire others to motivate themselves and drive them to perform better. It’s showing the way towards success.

Methods for self-motivation can include:

• Learning new skills – What is needed for your current role? Where can you obtain these skills? Is there anyone who you can consult with for direction or advice?

• Taking appropriate leave breaks to relax & rejuvenate – Clearing your mind of distractions (and resting), taking the time to find out more about yourself or pursuing a personal goal or hobby.

• Spending time developing a self-improvement plan and setting goals – Where do you see your role developing in line with your business goals? Where do you see your team going and what do you need to do to help guide them there?

• Investing in courses and training that can lead to growth and development – Are there any conferences within your local area that are providing information on areas of development? Have you looked into local educational institutions and what courses they provide? Are there any online resources that you could review outside of business hours?

Building your own motivation by developing our skills and abilities also provides the knowledge and insight to pass on to others. If others within your team are seeking your advice or direction, you can provide recommendations and information on what you have looked into previously, helping direct others toward their future success.

Make sure to also keep following up on your personal progress and what motivates you, whether it is every month or six months. That way you can help keep your motivation levels consistent and on track.

If you are currently in a leadership role, what motivates you? More importantly, in what ways do you keep your drive and motivation consistent?

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When you look up the term ‘leadership’ or ‘leadership roles’, you will find many articles on what to do to become a great leader. It is also important to be aware of bad habits that can hinder progress.

I know I have been guilty of at least two of the items listed below, but the first step is being aware of these habits so that you can find the ways to improve your leadership performance:

  1. Taking credit for others’ ideas and contributions – We all know the famous term, there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’. It is very exciting when members of your team make a contribution that takes the organisation in a positive direction. However, the biggest failures one can make as a leader is to neglect to recognise and acknowledge individual and team contributions. If you are taking credit for someone else’s work, chances are you will start to notice your team working against you and not for you because they do not feel appreciated or valued.
  2. Using a position of power to control and intimidateothers — This autocratic style of leadership will often leave the team with a low level of autonomy. This can prevent creative ideas being presented as team members feel they do not have the right to contribute.
  3. Blaming others when things go wrong – It is important to recognise with the team when mistakes are made and that they have negative consequences in order to assess better solutions for the future. However, singling people out, pointing fingers, or making others carry the full weight of the failure is not reaction a leader should take. A leader needs to stand by their team no matter what, accept responsibility of when things go wrong, keep track of team members and progression, and have an ‘open door’ for team members to approach if they are experiencing struggles on tasks.
  4. Clinging to traditional methods and old ideas –In order to thrive in society most leaders need to think outside the box, take risks when needed and use innovation to be one step ahead of competitors. While traditional methods may have worked in the past, if you find you are constantly using the same strategy when the rest of the world is changing, you may fall behind. This includes those that refuse to learn new skills and tools to keep up with today’s market. If you are not trying to learn and adapt, you will fall behind.
  5. Failing to keep promises – Leaders who make promises but do not follow through risk loss of personal credibility, trust and the goodwill of others. If you have let down your team more than once, it can often take a long time to earn that trust back.
  6. Actingalone – Leaders who do not consult, collaborate or solicit input from others often fail to make enlightened decisions. Leaders also need to make sure they delegate tasks within the team appropriately so that they can stretch their teams’ abilities.

Failing to effectively manage issues – Leaders who dismiss the need to address, manage and resolve issues, place themselves and their organisation at risk.

What are some of the experiences you have learned in a leadership role? What were the learning curves that you have experienced?

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Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?

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You have worked hard to get your promotion, now you have to set yourself up for success in your new role. Preparing to take on more responsibility will make the transition process run smoothly and will help set you up for future success.

So what are the next steps after you receive the promotion? What can you do to keep yourself on track?

1. Get clear expectations. The first thing you need to do is really understand your new role. What does the organisation expect of you? What does your manager expect of you? And what do you expect of yourself? Clarifying these expectations sets up a path to follow.

2. Set your goals What do you want to accomplish and why? Set personal and career goals both short and long term so you can measure your progress on the path. Don’t be afraid to share your goals or vision with management and get their buy in as well,

3. Talk to your boss. Get to know your manager and determine how you will work together. How and when will you communicate and what will help you succeed beyond the job description. These things are critically important to your mutual success.

4. Focus on building relationships. You may have moved to a new department with new peers or report to and a new manager. The relationships with the people around you are part of that job! Invest time in building relationships with your new peers, people in other groups, your boss, your customers, and if you are a leader, your team. It makes your working environment more positive and productive if you have a level of rapport with your team.

5. Learn what you need to learn. Remember you are new to this position so you cannot know it all on the first day! It is part of our development to learn new skills. Take notes, ask questions, request feedback to make sure you are heading on the path towards success. The earlier you set yourself up to understand the requirements and expectations of the role, the easier it will be to settle into the position and start delivering.

6. Celebrate! Of course you deserve the time to celebrate your promotion and share the excitement with others. Take some time for yourself and those closest to you to celebrate your progress and accomplishments. Celebrating builds your confidence and awareness, and it sets you on the right path for even better performance.

Sometimes we tend to rush from one project to the next without fully understanding what we have achieved. Every accomplishment is a stepping stone on the path towards your future. Show appreciation towards those who helped get you get to that next stage.

If you have been through a promotion recently, what steps did you take to continue to perform at your best and show that you were the right one for the job?

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Performance reviews can seem intimidating and can make you feel anxious, but at the end of the day they are important in helping us develop and improve our performance. Whether you have been in an organisation for a few months or a few years, the performance review is inevitable. With correct preparation though, they don’t have to be scary.

  1. Be Prepared

There is no harm in asking your manager ahead of time what to expect from the upcoming review. You can also ask fellow colleagues who have been at the organisation longer what they have experienced. Make sure that you are recording your work progress and achievements so that you also have something to present to management during the review process.

  1. Be Honest

This is an opportunity for you to share with your manager your honest thoughts and opinions on your current workload and working environment. This means acknowledging if you are struggling in some areas and working with management on ways to resolve or delegate certain tasks. This is also an opportunity to shine and really show your manager where you are excelling (as long as you can back it up with examples).

  1. You are Part of a Team

Remember that your performance review should not be just an opportunity for your manager to point out all of your failures. You should both be discussing how you are performing as an individual and a team member for the overall success of the company. If you have ideas or feedback to put forward on possible improvements or incentives for the team, now would be the time to do so.

  1. Know Your Accomplishments

Don’t sell yourself short. A manager may not always be present during the time of an accomplishment and may ask you what you have contributed to the company so far. Don’t let it fall under the radar, even get a colleague or witness to verify it if it was a team effort or if it helped another person significantly. If you are a facts and figures type of person, present it to management with the data necessary to support your review.

  1. Be Open to Constructive Criticism

These periodic assessments are provided to everyone in your team to help you improve. It is important to not take constructive feedback as though it is a personal attack or react in a defensive manner. Take the time to listen carefully to the feedback your manager has provided, and once you know they have stated all of the details, take the time to ask any questions about anything you may be unsure about. You can also ask what steps you can start taking to improve this area of feedback.

  1. Give Feedback

There should be a point in the review session where you’re asked if you want to give feedback on your colleagues, your boss, or the projects you’ve worked on. Be honest, but professional with your feedback, especially about co-workers or the way a certain project has been organised. Don’t leave anything out, but at the same time provide value by offering suggestions for improvement instead of just complaining.

  1. Ask Questions

Show that you were attentive and have initiative by asking questions at the end of the review on the next steps and areas of improvement. Be open to answer any questions provided by the reviewer as well. It’s a lot better to reflect on questions while the conversation is still fresh and even take notes on responses to reflect upon afterwards.

If you’re honest and assertive in your performance review and know what to expect, you’ll leave your review with more positive motivation than ever.

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What do you tell an employer when they ask you what your strengths are? Do you provide them with leadership examples from previous roles, outline key skills or educational achievements that could be valuable for the role? Do you know what skills the employer is looking for to fulfill the role?

A recent study by LinkedIn reveals that when it comes to interviewing and hiring early-career professionals, employers aren’t just considering education, experience and job skills. They are also looking for specific soft skills and personality traits — and how these characteristics rank may surprise you.

LinkedIn defines early-career professionals as those with zero to three years’ experience. Understanding these skill sets will give you a better indication of how you can be considered in today’s job market.

Specific skills
The two most important skills employers look for are problem-solving skills (65 percent) — defined as the ability to see and create solutions when faced with challenges — and being a good learner (64 percent) by learning new concepts quickly and being adaptable in new situations.

Employers also look for candidates who have strong analytical skills: 46 percent of the employers surveyed said early-career hires need to be able to use logical reasoning.

Communication skills are essential. The ability to clearly communicate ideas while speaking plays a much more important role than doing so in writing, however. The study revealed that 45 percent of employers want to hire people with strong oral communication skills, whereas only 22 percent consider strong written communication skills to be crucial.

Furthermore, creativity, the ability to think outside the box (21 percent), and being tech-savvy (16 percent) are also pluses for employers.

Personality traits
The most important personality trait employers look for in early-career professionals is the ability to collaborate. Fifty-five percent of employers put a premium on the ability to work well with others. A close runner-up was the ability to work hard, with 52 percent of employers preferring candidates who have strong work ethics and go above and beyond.

Having a positive attitude also goes a long way for 45 percent of employers, while 31 percent said being passionate by demonstrating enthusiasm for their work and the business’s values is also important.

Additionally, employers look for candidates who are organised (twenty nine percent) and resilient (twenty one percent).

Role-based skills
The types of skills employers are looking for also depends highly on the position and industry they work in. LinkedIn’s study found that hiring managers look for these specific skill sets when interviewing and hiring for sales, marketing and consulting roles:

For sales roles: Candidates should possess strong oral communication skills and a good attitude that shows optimism and maintains positive energy.
For marketing/PR roles: Creativity, passion and strong written communication skills are key to a great hire.
For consulting roles: Employers look for candidates with strong analytical and written communication skills.

Hiring managers, do you agree with the above statistics? What other skills sets are important to you when it comes to the ideal employee for your office team?

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We all want to be top performers at work. We want to work hard, achieve goals and be recognised for our efforts.

Here are four habits that will help you achieve more:

1. Make Yourself Accountable: While working independently is advantageous, it is also important to have someone that you report your progress to, whether it is members of your office team or a supervisor. This can often enforce more urgency and effort to complete the task when you know you need to report your progress to someone on a regular basis.

2. Discipline yourself to set priorities: It will make it easier to focus on the important tasks. Address the higher priorities in the morning when you are freshest and save the more repetitive ones for later in the day. If you receive assignments as the day is winding down, use the last five to ten minutes to prioritise for the next day. Lists are very helpful, and checking items off as you complete them will further encourage you to accomplish more.

3. Don’t let fear prevent you from completing challenging tasks: If fear takes control of our daily lives it can paralyse us from completing tasks. It results in achieving less and we may start avoiding commitment to tasks. The remedy for fear is planning. Start by making a list of things you have accomplished (even if it’s only two or three) and keep it in a visible place to use as self-encouragement. Then make a list of things you want to accomplish and the steps to complete each one. The best way to successfully complete a big project is to break it down into smaller pieces.

4. Avoid Procrastination.The longer you put off a task the more it will end up haunting you. You can save a lot of time and stress if you work on the difficult/important tasks first, then the rest of the day will seem less daunting.

What steps do you follow to keep yourself performing at your best? How do you keep track of your progression? What works best for you?