Gig Economy

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal about the #ChangingWorkplace provoked a flurry of posts and comments on LinkedIn. The upshot of the article was that, today, workers in the US are working more for less. In 2016, 26% of Americans reported that they worked in excess of 48 hours per week, but, increasingly, workers are missing out on company-funded benefits such as pensions and insurance. The article also highlighted the rising number of temporary and contract roles.

In Australia, a similar pattern is emerging. A special report in The Australian estimated that around 700,000 Australians are now engaged in the ‘gig’ economy – that’s around 5% of the workforce. And these numbers are set to grow as companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and Airtasker make their mark, and access to technology broadens.

But what are the advantages and disadvantages of working in the gig economy? And who is the real winner?

For workers, flexibility is the big selling point of working on a pay-per-task basis. They may be able to work from home, or balance gig work with another job, study or childcare responsibilities. Rather than be restricted by set hours, they can choose the time windows that suit them best. And, contrary to popular belief, working gigs can be a good money earner, especially for highly skilled workers, such as lawyers, web designers and business consultants.

But, all too often, jobs in the gig economy are unregulated and low paid (far below the standard minimum wage). Additionally, as an independent contractor, a worker has no annual or sick leave, no insurance cover, and often no superannuation either. The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia found that ¼ of self-employed workers had no super; those in low-paid, unskilled jobs are particularly affected. Alarmingly, the move towards flexible working patterns also has potentially far-reaching consequences for the welfare system. In October, the IMF warned of challenges to the structure of the social insurance system due to the increase in less stable, freelance work.

The real winners, it seems, are employers and shareholders. Today, employers have no need to hire employees to complete specific tasks when they can easily source gig workers online with the desired skill-set. It’s a huge gain for businesses in terms of flexibility, agility and specialised skills. Plus, of course, it means that they can cut hefty personnel costs to a minimum, which leads to increased dividends to shareholders. But, there are downsides too. By awarding tasks to the lowest bidder, work quality may be compromised. Additionally, gig workers have no incentive to stay loyal to one specific business; they may not be available when their services are next required. And organisational knowledge, often seen as key to a business’s innovation strategy and growth, is diluted when long-term employees are not replaced. To remain competitive and relevant moving forward, businesses should think about ways of attracting and including gig workers in their organisations.

Have you ever worked a gig? What do you think about the growth of the gig economy?

So many jobs, so many companies, sooo many choices! Being a newbie in the job market can be a daunting experience. Where do you start when you’ve never had to navigate job applications, interviews and assessments before? Right here! Our recruitment experts have put together five top tips to help you find and land your first job.

Start with You

Take a look at yourself. What are your core strengths? What are your preferred work environments? What would you like to be doing in five years’ time? Before you get your job search underway, decide what type of role you would like to aim for and why. If you’re unsure, chatting to a career’s advisor or recruitment consultant can be a good idea. They can give you an idea of the different jobs that are out there, and help you zoom in on a few suitable and rewarding options.

Create a winning resume and cover letter

Brush up your resume or create one from scratch. If you don’t have heaps of work experience, don’t worry! Hiring managers will be more interested in your potential at this stage, so highlight your key strengths, showcase your achievements and shine a spotlight on your interests. Work on your cover letters too, making sure that each one is carefully targeted to the role you are applying for. It can be a good idea to keep track of your applications (dates, roles, hiring manager names and contact details, etc.) in a dedicated spreadsheet, especially if you’re using multiple platforms. At a glance, you’ll know what you’ve done and when, and who to follow up with.

Consider building a LinkedIn profile. It’s a great platform for developing your professional presence and networking with other professionals.

Get a foot in the door!

There’s so much you can do both online and offline to further your job search. Check out job listings on recruitment agency websites or search engines such as SEEK and Indeed, where you can search for specific roles by area and set up job alerts. Click on a few roles and get a feel for what employers are asking for – and then apply if you think you are a suitable candidate. With a little online research, you’ll also find resume templates, information on what to expect at interview, and heaps more useful resources.

Don’t forget face-to-face opportunities! Careers fairs and recruitment events can be great ways to find out about different jobs and organisations and connect with the people working there. Ask questions, gather brochures and business cards – and follow up! If you’ve had an interesting discussion with a company representative, there’s no harm in sending a brief email to thank them for their time and ask if there are any upcoming internships or job shadow opportunities.

If you’re at uni, tap into your alumni network. Chances are you’ll find former students working in your first-choice organisation or similar companies. While alumni may not hand you a job on a plate, many will be happy to provide you with job-related information and advice. Also look at joining an industry-related group at uni, where you can connect with like-minded peers and potentially access professionals working in the field.

Really prepare for that interview

Before the big day, make sure you’ve researched the role and the organisation in detail. Try to anticipate some of the questions you’ll be asked and prepare responses to them. Go armed with a couple of questions of your own to show you’ve done your homework. Every recruiting manager likes to see preparation and enthusiasm! Oh, and dress appropriately. Look the part and if in doubt, dress up rather than down.

Be persistent

It can take time and effort (and a lot of applications) to land your first job. Keep at it but leave a little time for living too. Persistence pays off and you’ll soon find a role you love and the chance to embark on a rewarding career journey.

Good luck!

At Optimal Recruitment we are experienced in helping candidates navigate the job market. Give us a call today on 02 8416 4181.

Are long working hours getting you down? It’s more than likely. New research by the Australian National University (ANU) has found that people who work more than 39 hours a week are endangering their health.

Around two out of three Australians in full-time employment work more than 40 hours a week. Often that’s before unpaid work, such as caring for children and domestic work, is considered. The ANU researchers suggest that a major cultural shift regarding long working hours, as well as employer action, is needed to resolve the problems affecting work-life balance. Change is not going to happen overnight.

So, in the meantime, what can you do at the individual level to promote your health and wellness at work? There are a number of aspects to consider, including physical, emotional and occupational wellness. Here are 10 steps you can take to kick-start your personal health and wellness journey.

  1. Eat healthily

You’ve probably heard the same a hundred times before, but eating well is an essential part of health and wellness. Swap the junk food for a healthy sandwich or salad, and replace your stash of chocolate bars and chips with nutritious snacks. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

  1. Get enough sleep

The National Sleep Foundation in the US recommends an average of 7-9 hours for adults aged 18-64 years old, and 7-8 hours for the 65+ population. Other factors to consider include sticking to a sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and turning off electronic equipment, such as mobile phones, before bed.

  1. Exercise daily

Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, wrote a great article about the benefits of exercise at work, referring to it as a “clear win-win – in terms of health, morale and productivity”. You could walk or cycle to work, for example, or head to the gym during your lunch break. A spot of exercise each day should refresh you and improve your concentration.

  1. Make time for family and friends

Think about scheduling time for family and friends. This could be as simple as a blocking out a couple of evenings each week, or planning an activity on a scheduled day off. By freeing up time in advance, you are actively creating balance during your busy working week. And sharing quality moments with those you care about most.

  1. Reduce stress

Work and excessive stress often go hand in hand. There are many approaches to tackling stress levels, including nearly every tip on this list. Additional tried-and-tested ways to regain a sense of control include deep breathing, mediation and yoga. Some people find it useful to write or speak daily positive affirmations, such as “I am fantastic at my job.”

  1. Share ideas

Feeling valued at work is a key part of health and wellness. So share your talents and creativity with your colleagues and line manager. You could suggest a different way of approaching a task that would enhance productivity or increase profit. You could also take up opportunities to learn new skills to further your sense of worth (as well as your career).

  1. Adapt your role

Now could be the time to talk with your employer if your workload is too great, or hours too long. Many companies are open to flexible working practices. Establish if others in your workplace are working part-time or have shifted roles. These precedents suggest that your employer would be open to discussing alternatives for you too.

  1. Ask for a career break

Step back from your situation by taking time out of the workplace. Many companies offer sabbaticals to valued employees, or you may be eligible for long-service leave. Make the most of your time away by doing something different. And take the time to reflect on where you want to go with your job and your career.

  1. Act with your voice

Major change to working conditions nearly always comes through collective action. Discuss the need for reduced working hours with your colleagues at work, join your union and/or lobby the government for change. In doing so, your individual voice becomes one of many, all acting with the same end goal in mind.

  1. Change jobs

If you are unhappy in your current job, and cannot see a way to improve the situation, consider changing jobs. You may well find your ideal role in another workplace, with a workload and hours to suit. So take a deep breath and start looking.

How do you promote your health and wellness at work? We’d love you to share your experiences and suggestions.

Pay Rise

You’ve been in your job for a couple of years and you’re thriving. You’re smashing all your targets, and ticking all the boxes in your performance appraisals, but your success is not reflected in your pay package. Rather than threatening to down tools unless you receive more $$$ on the spot, hang in there and plan ahead. Here is our step-to-step guide to asking for and getting the pay rise you deserve.

BUILD A STRONG CASE
First, check out your job description. Are you meeting and exceeding all the requirements of your role? Have you taken on additional responsibilities that are not mentioned in your job description? Have you made suggestions that have been implemented in the workplace? If yes to any of these questions, then start to build your case. Make a list of your achievements and, if possible, quantify them. Highlight how many benchtops your team have made; specify the total client billings you have generated over the last six months.

Next, look outside your workplace at the wider employment market. Look at job ads for similar roles in the area; study online salary surveys and trends. Find out whether you could potentially earn more elsewhere and note important data. This research will not only help you to justify your request for an increase, it will also help your boss escalate that request to senior management.

BOOK A MEETING WITH YOUR BOSS
Rather than catching your boss on the hop, book a meeting with her and specify that you are wanting to discuss your performance and pay. Timing is crucial here. Fix a day when your boss is not submerged with work; you want her to be open to discussion. Equally, ensure that the current business climate in your workplace is conducive to talk of a pay rise. If the CFO has just quit, or a merger is looming on the horizon, you’d be best to hold off!

BE PREPARED TO SELL YOURSELF
If you don’t ask, you won’t get it! Asking for a pay rise can be a confronting and challenging experience, which is why some employees never get around to it. But you’ve done your homework and you know you’re worth it. So, go into that meeting with courage and confidence. Be upfront about what you bring to your role and the company and support your argument with the research you have carried out. Have a clear idea of the pay package you are after but go in higher so there is room for negotiation. Once you’ve stated your case, ensure you listen to what your boss has to say and respond appropriately. This should not be a battle, but a reasoned discussion between two professionals with a positive outcome for both sides: you receive your pay rise and your boss gets to keep a valued employee on her team.

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS
All being well, you’ll get the pay rise you are asking for, but what if the response is ‘no’? Don’t lose your cool! First, ask your boss what you can do to achieve that increase in six months’ time. Perhaps there is an aspect of your role where she feels further development is required or perhaps she is privy to company information about future expense cuts and frozen pay. In both instances, consider whether you are best off staying in the role and working your way towards a new pay review or looking around for a new position in another company.

Good luck! We hope you get the pay rise you deserve.

Interview Questions

So, you have made it to interview stage, congratulations!

Now you face the minefield of negating the ‘right questions’ to ask when you are there.

The opportunity for you to ask questions in the interview is your chance to get a sense of what it might be like to work for this company. We strongly suggest you ask a couple of questions as it shows you are interested in the company and the position. Generally speaking a fair number of questions is somewhere between 3 -5. Use your discretion; be mindful of the time and the interviewers body language. Now is not the time to ask 50 questions.

To help you along we have jotted a couple of our favourites down.

  • Can you tell me a little bit more about the work culture?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
  • What would a typical day look like for this role being offered?
  • What attributes does someone need to have in order to be successful in this position?
  • What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
  • Can you tell me about the team and manager I’ll be working with?
  • Can you tell me about my direct reports? What are their strengths and the team’s biggest challenges?
  • If I am successful, how will I be trained? And what training programs are available to employees?
  • What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
  • What are the performance expectations of this role over the first 12 months?
  • Why is the position vacant?
  • What are the company’s key priorities over the next five years?
  • Where is the last person who held this job moving on to?
  • Where do you see this company in the next few years?
  • What sort of budget would I be working with?
  • Do you expect to hire more people in this department in the next six months?
  • What are the common career paths in this department?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?

These questions are just a guide and depending on the role you are going for may not be appropriate but hopefully they will give you something to work with. Don’t forget the interview is a two-way process, the role also needs to be a good fit for you, so use this is an opportunity to suss the company and position out.

Good Luck!

Do you have a favourite question you like to ask during an Interview, We would love to hear it?

Dress For Success

We have all heard the expression, ‘First Impressions last’ well this is very true especially at interview stage. You have made it this far through the recruitment process so don’t throw away your chance on poor outfit choice!

It can be hard to know what to wear for your interview when in doubt, we say here at Optimal Recruitment, its always better to be overdressed than under-dressed.  You should always stay away from denim and leave your hat and flip flops at home.

A three-piece suit is not always needed and what you wear does depend on where your interviewing and what image of yourself you want to portray. The best interview outfit is clean, well-fitting, appropriate for the company’s culture, and not attention-getting. We want the hiring manager to be discussing your skills and experience not your sparkly top or tattoos.

Here are a few ideas to help you for your big day:

Interviewing at a Corporate Workplace

Suit all the way! The whole works, pants/ skirt or shirt, jacket and tie, polished shoes, heels or closed in shoes. Stockings if it’s a formal workplace, hair tied back and brushed, jewellery should be minimal, tattoos and piercings if you can cover them up, make up natural and light, carry a small purse not an oversized bag, keep cologne and perfume to a minimum. Try and avoid patterned and funky designs go for a solid suit colour or small pinstripes if you can. Light coloured or white shirts are best and pick a conservative tie, avoid bow ties at your interview. Wear matching socks, polish your shoes and make sure your belt matches your shoes.

Interviewing at a Casual Business Workplace

Chinos and Buttoned shirt with a collar. Skirt or dress (knee length ideally), covered shoes, block colour dress / shirt.  Hair should be combed and tied back from your face. Jewellery should be minimal and please don’t wear too much perfume cologne – we have all been stuck in a lift with someone over-powering our senses before. You don’t want the interviewer to be shuffling you out because they can’t breathe.

Interviewing for Outdoor Work

You can wear those jeans but make sure they are your best ones though with no holes, rips or fraying. Avoid t-shirts with slogans, never wear shorts to an interview unless you are applying for a lifeguard position.  Closed in shoes in good condition are best and please avoid thongs and hats.

You want to look neat and tidy and employable!

Interviewing for a job at a cafe, dress shop, or a start-up

It can be tricky when deciding what to wear for some job positions. You probably want to go casual and wear those Jeans but you really should leave them at home.  We suggest you wear trousers or chinos instead. There is no need for a tie but if you can, wear a collared shirt or buttoned shirt – ideally not a t-shirt.  Ladies choose a skirt, pants and a blouse.  Shoes – wear what suits your outfit but make sure they are in good condition – maybe give them a quick clean if they have lots of scuff marks.

In a nutshell:

  • Keep scented items — cologne, perfume, and aftershave to a minimum.
  • Ensure your nails are clean – especially if you are going for a position in hospitality.
  • Hair should be combed and tied back from your face.
  • Jewellery should be minimal
  • If the company you are interviewing for has a set uniform, try and dress similar to their style.
  • Keep the flashy, see through, ripped and torn clothes at home.
  • A good rule of thumb is to dress like your boss

No matter what you are wearing to your interview you want to look polished and respectable. Just remember you are more likely to be taken seriously when you present yourself in a professional manner and take the time to attend to the little details.

And as my Nana says Dress for success

Good Luck!

Interview Photo

You’ve screened the resumes and come up with a shortlist of applicants who can all do the job…on paper at least. So, how do you decide which candidate is ‘the one’? Interviews can provide employers with valuable information about an individual’s skills, motivation, achievements and cultural fit. Especially if you ask the right questions and allow candidates to do most of the talking.

Here are ten of our favourite questions to ask candidates at interview:

  1. Why are you interested in this role?

You want to separate out those candidates who have done their homework from the rest. You will find out which aspects of the position have appealed to them. Are these the same aspects that you believe are key to the role and to your company moving forward?

  1. What are the three most important attributes you bring to this role?

Flowing on neatly from #1, you will obtain further insights into candidates’ understanding of the role, and the contribution they could make. You can then assess whether what they offer fits with what you are looking for.

  1. Why are you leaving your current employer?

Candidates’ answers can reveal much about their attitudes, motivation and values at work. Your job is to establish whether their current experience has been a positive one and whether they are leaving for a good reason. If you have doubts, then probe carefully to find out more.

  1. What motivates you most in your current role?

You want to understand what makes candidates tick. They may be enthusiastic about new challenges, for example, or working in a strong team. Will these candidates find similar motivation in the role you are offering and, more broadly, in the culture of your company?

  1. What do you dislike the most about your current role?

Candidates generally find at least one aspect of their current role less enjoyable. It may be a mundane task, such as stuffing envelopes or totting up the petty cash. But it may be something more revealing – such as a candidate for a supervisor role who does not like dealing with conflict.

  1. Tell me about your greatest achievement in your career to date.

Strong candidates are passionate about their accomplishments and will relish the opportunity to talk about them. What they consider to be a great achievement will provide you with insights into their personality, values and working style.

  1. Describe a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted. What did you do?

An alternative to “What’s your greatest weakness?” which most candidates have anticipated and prepared for. Here, you are asking candidates for a concrete example of a difficult situation. Their responses will provide information about their problem-solving skills, ability to own an issue and, potentially, their interaction with others.

  1. How would your colleagues describe you at work?

Some candidates find it difficult to talk about their attributes and achievements, especially at interview. So instead, give them a chance to view themselves through the eyes of their co-workers. You will gain valuable insights into their personality, work ethic, and relationships with others in a team.

  1. Describe the best boss you have reported to.

Bosses vary in the way they supervise, organise, delegate and communicate. And candidates will vary in the way they respond to them. So find out the type of management style that best suits your candidates’ needs and personality. A candidate who is a self-starter, for example, would not be a good match for a micro-manager.

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

Well-prepared candidates will have done their homework, researched the role and company, and drafted a few questions. What candidates ask can provide information about what they consider important. Are they just after basic information, like salary, perks and vacation days? Or are they focused on company vision and opportunities for career progression?

Try incorporating some – or all – of these questions in your candidate interviews. They should help you separate the mismatches and maybes from the high potential candidate(s) who will thrive in your role.